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El Diablo

“A white dude spit in my face once,” Celia places her fingers on the shot glass in front of her. It’s as warm as the others had been. She looks at the white man standing next to her. The lights in the bar are dim, the floor is sticky, and the air smells of alcohol and vanilla scented candles.

“We were at a protest and this tall ass bulky motherfucker walks up to me and yells: fuck you, you fucking spic.” The white man next to Celia raises his eyebrows and nods. Celia can’t tell if he’s listening or politely suggesting she fuck off. She doesn’t really care either way.

“And he spits in my fucking face.” Celia chuckles. The white man smiles and nods as he tries to flag down the bartender.  “Warm ass fucking saliva. Almost as warm as this fucking tequila.” She laughs and looks down at her shot.

“White dude was mad we was protesting his beloved mascot. I was afraid shitless his dumbass would hit me. Yo, that fear stayed with me for a minute.” Celia looks up and the white man is no longer there. She rolls her eyes.

“But fuck it right?” She says to no one in particular. “And fuck him!” She raises her shot glass and downs it. It burns her throat, but she prefers it over the reality that awaits. She places the lime wedge in the shot glass. Celia holds it up so the young, black bartender can see it, “Another.”

The bartender smiles but his eyes tell a different story. Everyone around her looks like they have seen a ghost. Like the life has been sucked out of them. The bartender doesn’t get a chance to place the shot down before Celia takes it from his hands. She throws the lime wedge on the bar top and downs the saliva-warm tequila.

The burning spreads from her throat to her ears. Her insides burn like she had swallowed fire, if one could fucking swallow fire. Her chest tightens. Her head booms. But she can’t leave that shit-hole of a bar. Because outside, in the world beyond that bar, el diablo just won the fucking election.

Celia leans forward and slaps her hands on the bar top to get the bartender’s attention again. He nods and turns away from her. She sits back down on her stool and turns to the new couple next to her, “I got manhandled at an immigration reform rally a few years back. By a different white guy.” She throws her arms up as she laughs. When she brings them down she takes their beer with her.

“Fuck. My bad, y’all.” Celia tries to clean it with the tiny bar napkins but the couple shakes their heads and walk toward a table near the back.

There is hardly anyone left. The crowd and the hope that filled that bar just a few hours before are now gone. Celia doesn’t know what time it is anymore. She’s drained her battery refreshing for the latest results and then refreshing hoping there had been some sort of mistake. But there’s no mistake. El diablo is now the leader of the damned land of opportunity.

Celia runs her fingers through her short hair and lets out a loud sigh. The bartender wipes the counter and walks in her direction with the bottle of tequila. She shakes her empty shot glass.

“This your last one, girl.” Celia agrees. He pours the tequila and walks away. On the screen el diablo celebrates.

“Turn that shit off, yo!” she yells at the bartender and points at the TV. She stares at her tequila shot. No matter how many she takes, she can’t numb the fear.

     

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