someone who supports or champions something
Inside is a cubicle with a vent that opens out above the shower in the bathroom. Air and a little light. A couple of towels, a throw pillow, a sheet, a chamber pot, a container of filter water, aspirin, sleeping pills, even a San Judas,
patron of impossible causes, that Laura has tacked to the inside wall.
a 16th-century Spanish conquerer of Peru and Mexico
Then he puts her right side up and laughs a great big
Conquistador laugh that comes all the way from the green, motherland hills of Spain.
a servile or submissive follower
The grand manner will usually disarm these poor
lackeys from the countryside, who have joined the SIM, most of them, in order to put money in their pockets, food and rum in their stomachs, and guns at their hips.
a spontaneous loss of consciousness
Now, for instance, she is thinking of doing something wild and mad, sinking down in a
swoon the way women used to in old movies when they wanted to distract attention from some trouble spot...
Something pretty bad is on its way because with each step Tatica takes, the pain
roils in her gut, trouble coming to full term.
someone who deliberately foments trouble
Old buddy introduced him around till he knew every
firebrand among the upper-class fellas the State Department wanted him to groom for revolution.
an elementary book summarizing the principles of a religion
Unfortunately, the nuns got to her young, and Vic has nodded himself silly several times to
catechism lessons disguised as dinner conversations.
a school you graduated from
He pulls a chair out for his buddy. The chairs in his study bear the logo from their
alma mater, Yale, which Vic notes the family mispronounces as jail.
without volition or conscious control
The two men turn and, almost
reflexively, their hands travel to their holsters.
a diplomat appointed to protect a government's interests
"Victor!" she calls out, and then in a quieter voice she cues the men as if she does not want them to embarrass themselves by not knowing who this important personage is. "Victor Hubbard,
consul at the Embajada Americana. Excuse me, señores."
uttered with unrestrained enthusiasm
Effusively, Laura greets Carla and Sandi. "My darlings, my sweet Cuquitas, have you eaten?"
a health professional trained in the art of preparing drugs
Now everything she sees sharpens as if through the lens of loss—the orchids in their hanging straw baskets, the row of
apothecary jars Carlos has found for her in old druggists' throughout the countryside, the rich light shafts swarming with a golden pollen.
right of inheritance belonging exclusively to the eldest son
Primogeniture is also the clean slate of the oldest making the past out of nothing but faint whispers, presences, and tones.
lacking substance or significance
tenuous, tentative first life-impressions have scattered like reflections in a pond under the swirling hand of an older brother or sister saying, I remember the day you ate the rat poison, Carlos, or, I remember the day you fell down the stairs....
small hole in cloth or leather for passage of a cord or hook
It was plain pine, like Chucha wanted it, but inside, Mami had it lined in purple cushiony fabric, which was Chucha's favorite color, and bordered with white
a trinket thought to be a magical protection against evil
It was a statue carved out of wood like the kind I saw years later in the anthro textbooks I used to pore over, as if staring at those little
talismanic wooden carvings would somehow be my madeleine, bringing back my past to me like they say tasting that cookie did for Proust.
the trait of being rude and impertinent
I go in my own room, the one Doña Laura had special made for me so I could be with my santos at peace and not have to bear the
insolence and annoyance of young girls with no faith in the spirits.
provide (movies) with translated dialogue and narration
The height of violence for us was on the weekly television Western imported from Hollywood and
dubbed clumsily in Spanish.
When the U.N. post was first
conferred on him, my grandfather balked: he wanted no part of the corrupt regime.
the way in which someone or something is composed
But, my grandmother's tyrannical
constitution brought its own kind of pressure to bear on him; as she grew older, she was always ill: aches, migraines, moodiness that only expensive specialists in the States would know how to cure.
habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition
My grandfather, whom everyone called a saint, pampered her in everything and tolerated her
treat as a sacred person
Mamita, furious at hearing her husband
canonized at her expense, took her revenge.
Instead of the usual oversized, cheap,
gaudy, noise-making, spoiling-your-clothes, wasting-your-mind toys, that duffle bag was lined with school supplies and flashcards and workbooks and puzzle-size boxes whose covers announced: MASTERING ARABIC NUMERALS, THE WONDERS OF NATURE, A B C OF READING, MORE SOUNDS TO SAY.
a refusal to recognize someone you know
Since this part of our property adjoined the palacio of the dictator's daughter and son-in-law, my grandfather had been reluctant to erect a high wall lest it be considered a
tending to enter uninvited
I steeled myself against his
an ornamental cloth pad worn on the shoulder
My aunt stepped towards us; her broad shoulders gave her an official appearance, as if she were wearing
epaulettes, and representing all our parents.
the organs in a body, collectively
The Human Body dropped from his hands, snapped open, and the
innards scattered all over the dirt floor.
not diminished or moderated in intensity or severity
I knew that in our family the least mention of the guardia got instant,
surround so as to force to give up
Smiling feebly, Mundín stood silent just when I needed him to bring in the cavalry and rescue my
a violation of a law or rule
His mother knew him well and sensed we were up to no good, but the guardia on the property meant no diddling with minor
infractions: it was everybody to their houses, bureau tops cleaned off, portable objects battened down.