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illustration by Mike Krone entered the car or stopped at an intersection. Sra. Lopez had never been one From then on, the shooting became part of town legend, a historical reference. “The day that Sra. Lopez shot the hole into Sr. Lopez’s car” was right up there with “the day the pig was hit by the truck on the highway”; or “the day that stranger took little Arturo and left him in the washateria in Beeville”; or “the day Sra. Zapata cut her own children’s hair.” \(She left bald spots and then colored them with markers so no The town was small enough so that when strangers asked directions, they would be told to go “two houses down from where el Jotito lives.” Directions were always given in reference to people. “El Jotito,” pronounced “Ho-ti-to,” was the gay man who had lived in the community for many years; he had bought his own house. They worked alongside him in the fields, always acknowledging that he was different. “Oiga, Jotito, que piensa Ud. de la guerra en Vietnam?” they would ask. “Hey, Jotito, what do you think of the war in Vietnam?” He was part of their lives, and because he was older than many of them, they consulted with him as they did with other elders. But he knew, and all of them knew, that he was different enough to be used as a landmark when giving directions. In the morning and then in the evening during dinner, Sra. Puente could be heard talking, unintentionally letting everyone downwind know that her husband was homethe same as alwaysand that he was enjoying one of her finer culinary efforts. She had always used terms of endearment when she spoke to him, as if she were about to pinch his cheek. When they were youngerin their 40s and 50s she could never stop touching him as she spoke to him, much to his embarrassment. Finally he gave up and accepted her behavior; he stopped blushing and simply smiled at her. People who heard her talking to him at breakfast or dinner never heard a reply, though the first few months after he died they listened intently to the wind. All they heard was Sra. Puente. After awhile, that too, seemed normal. Once a week, always on Friday, Sr. Puente had a beer with his dinner. After he died it was no different: On Fridays she always showed up at Manuel Colmenero’s store to buy one beer, a Budweiser, for his dinner. It was always in a bottle, never a can. \(They had rules in the Puente household, and she wasn’t would carry the beer back in the singles bag, walking almost three-quarters of a mile down the dirt road, making sure to get home in time to put it in the freezer JULY 28, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29