Story by Michael M. Pacheco (Mexico/USA)
Published in The Ofi Press issue 42
Taming the Stallion
Bruno had heard of vatos falling head over heels for beautiful chicas to the point where the men became silly, bumbling idiots. He definitely didn’t consider himself one of them. He was his own man.
He worked hard at maintaining full control of his faculties because he knew unbridled animal desires are primitive in man’s nature. In his mind, he had evolved. As the reigning champ of bodybuilders in his three-state region, Bruno was in excellent, in fact superior, physical health. He prided himself on his accomplishments and his ego, naturally, was greater than most men’s.
“Aqui yo mando!” he’d say, no matter where he was. And people believed him, though he never would have spoken those words when he was in grade school. Back then, he was taunted and bullied like a nobody.
Now his days were filled with disciplined routines of strenuous exercise and eating, eating and more eating. Reps, reps, and more reps. He monitored his food intake, but he didn’t go so far as to count calories. That was for amateurs. At his advanced stage of bodybuilding, the challenge was to keep in top shape what muscles he already had.
His practice involved lifting hundreds of pounds of metal, excessively heavy for the average man of his six-foot stature. But Bruno was careful in his lifting technique and rarely suffered any injuries. His pecs were big and solid. His biceps bulged like cabbages, admired by all the men at his gym, his thighs like tree stumps of nothing but muscle.
Ese chingón es un sementál, the men would say in awe.
Bruno pretended not hear the compliments as he posed in front of the mirrors. In the “front double biceps” he pumped up those cabbages and in his “most muscular pose” he let everyone gasp at his muscularity and definition. Granted, he did ingest a bit of HGH and other testosterone boosters, but hey, who didn’t? His body was what he lived for. It was his temple as Father O’Brien had said in Mass last Sunday. We must respect and revere it.
Oh sure, the female body could be attractive too. Bruno had seen plenty of healthy ladies with curves in all the right places in the gym. There were the fitness buffs, the divorcees on the rebound and, of course, the big-boobed bimbos, but Bruno wasn’t into “cute.”
He did have that one affair, though. It had been a fun relationship with a girl named Laura, but it had sucked up all his free time and energy. Their parting was sad, but necessary, if he was to continue being el jefe.
Then on a bright, sunny day, something out of the ordinary happened. It was mid-May, and the
“Oh, perdón,” he said, receiving a charming smile in return.
She was walking erect like a rehearsed participant in a beauty contest. A mild breeze lifted her shoulder length, dark blond, curly hair. Her complexion was smooth and flawless with a healthy glow. Her full lips vaguely reminded him of a movie actress from
As she passed by Bruno, he caught a faint scent resembling gardenias, no doubt the woman’s preferred perfume. The seductive, feminine fragrance filled his nostrils. Whatever the original fragrance, he decided the woman’s own essence must have enhanced the commercial variety because the lingering smell was so unique. For a couple of heartbeats, his head swooned.
Bruno glanced at a skinny man passing before him. The man had just walked past the woman in lace, but then stopped and turned back to get a second look at her.
“Uh hum!” grunted the man. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
He said it loudly to let anyone within hearing range know, he was addressing her.
The curly-haired beauty broke her stride and paused. She turned back toward the inquiring mind and regarded him for a second.
“Quizas,” she said, equally loud, “I’m the receptionist at the VD Center.”
His face turned to a strawberry red.
“Oh, I thought you were someone else,” he said, checking to see who else had heard her response. When he looked in Bruno’s direction, he appeared on the verge of running.
Bruno grinned. With that one line she crushed the man’s flirtatious advance and his ego at the same time.
Bruno was impressed with her quick wit. The curly-haired beauty had a brain. He waited till the skinny man was out of hearing range, then caught up to the woman on the sidewalk. Without breaking his stride alongside her, he asked, “Excuse me, Señorita. Do you really work at the VD Center?”
She looked at him and scanned him from head to toe, then smiled. “Why yes, yes I do. It’s the
As she spoke, her eyes seemed to hold his an extra beat. Bruno’s heart lurched, and for a moment he was suspended in time.
“Are you looking to buy a new phone?”
He couldn’t help grinning again. “I am now.”
She extended her hand toward him and then curled a finger toward herself. “Follow me,” she instructed.
Bruno forgot about lunch and never thought about asking where they were going. Frankly, he didn’t care. He simply did as he was told, and fell in step with the señorita.
Michael M. Pacheco was born in Ciudad Juarez and is a member of the Editorial Review Board of Label Me Latina Journal. His debut novel, The Guadalupe Saints, was published by Paraguas Books in April 2011 and won Second Place in the 2012 International Latino Book-to-Movie Awards. His novella, Seeking Tierra Santa, received an Honorable Mention in the 2013 ILBA for Best Novel in the adventure/drama category. His short story collection, Of Angels, Demons and Chopped Chorizo was published on December 22, 2013. Recently, he was short-listed for the JF Powers Prize in Short Fiction as well as the Southern Pacific Review short story competition and won Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s very Short Fiction Contest (Dec. 2014).