08 September 2007

La Muerte de El Tiny

A play inspired by a poem I didn’t like.

Characters: HOMITO: A cholo-like chap that works at Royal Tacos. He is in his middle twenties, has short hair and speaks with a certain poetical rhythm. His movements are quick and precise.

El TINY: Another cholo. El Tiny is around Homito’s age but looks old and wasted. He swaggers in a hoodlum fashion and never looks into a person’s eyes when he speaks.

MANAGER: Homito’s boss at Royal Tacos. He is white, probably anglo, and doesn’t know any Spanish. He looks older than he actually is (35 years). He wears glasses, speaks with a slight Texan accent and has untidy hair. He’s always nervous.

WOMAN AND GIRL: Homito meets them on the bus. They’re on their way to the other side of the border. Work and school wait for them.

CHARACTERS: People Homito encounters on his way to work. Role performed always by the same actor.


(We’re in the enormous kitchen of a heavily crowded fast food restaurant in downtown El Paso. The place is Royal Tacos. Noise is everywhere, and people from all ages wearing grease and sauce stained green t-shirts and black trousers walk frantically back and fro carrying all kinds of cooking and cleaning utensils. A man wearing fewer of the same stains on his blue shirt and khaki bottoms goes from one side to another yelling, signaling, bothering the automatons with his orders. A man, Homito, enters from the left part of the stage and approaches this man, the Manager, who is standing on the far right edge of the setting).

MANAGER: (He starts speaking when Homito is about five to three steps from him.) So, you finally decided to show up!

HOMITO: ¡Chale, cálemla, vato! I had a big problema, ese. Let me explain, all right?

MANAGER: You’re full of excuses, homito. What happened now, another of your six grannies passed away?

(An employee passes by carrying a bucket. He looks exhausted.)

HOMITO: ¡Nel, chale! (He moves aside to let the employee pass). It ain’t my fault mi big familia is prone to pay a visit to la calaca every other month. You know how wild and loco the barrio is…

(The employee drops the bucket and the water spills. The manager seems to get mad and excited. He yells his next lines.)

MANAGER: You idiot! Look at all that soap you wasted. (Signaling the floor) See this foam? See this foam? Should you use less soap, we could save the company hundreds on soap, stupid kid! Hundreds!! You’ll better start scrubbing the floor right away, Ernie! (He turns to face Homito. He speaks sternly) Now, what were you saying? (He grabs the clipboard lying on the counter and starts flipping the sheets of paper, as if looking for a document.) Speak, damn it! I’m gonna write you up, anyways, boy. Where were you yesterday? How come you didn’t phone?

HOMITO: Sssshh! (He silences the manager hitting his lips with his index finger three to five quick times Then he speaks in a low but confident tone.) Cálmala, homes, chale! You always make pedo por todo, ese. You’re going to die de tanto coraje, you know? My granny murió d’eso.

Manager: Dying? I don’t care about dying, Homito! I care for the hours your absences are costing to my store! I’m giving out overtime to anyone who wants to cover for you. (In a sardonic, proud tone) Good lord everybody needs the extra hours. They’ve even fought to get at least one.

HOMITO: Chale, vato! .You know I work hard. I don’t show up very of-ten, but when I do so le pongo duro al camello, homes.

(A short silence ensues. Homito scratches his head. The manager looks at him expectantly).

MANAGER: So, what’s your excuse, Homito?

HOMITO: Chale! It ain’t no excuse, homes. It’s what happened, neta.

MANAGER: Then, tell me, you lazy cholo! I bet you’re high again (He waves him to come closer) Let me see you eyes closer!

HOMITO: I don’t smoke anymore, vato. La motita makes me see things, you know… But what happened yesterday I didn’t just see it, fue la realidá, homes!

MANAGER: Are you gonna tell me for once why the hell you didn’t come to work yesterday?

(The background goes dark. The only light lit shines over Homito, who is still facing the manager. The kitchen sounds stop, and urban noises flourish as Homito begins his tale.)

HOMITO: I woke up early in the morning with the idea of coming to work as I always do. Mi jefita made me breakfast: two skinny and sabrosos burritos and I took off lueguito de que tiré shower, homes. (Marches on the same spot) I walked down la calle till the corner where I always get la burra that takes me down to the town. I stood next to Don Ramiro’s magazine stand.


DON RAMIRO: Ta cold la mañana, verdá, chavalo? (light fades out. The man disappears.)

HOMITO: Hey, homes! I remember putting las manos inside the pockets of mi chamarra. (snaps his fingers). Si taba cold la morning. The grey clouds were encima de mí, vato. I could feel the air bien frío on mi cara. Garré el first bus que llegó.


BUS DRIVER: ¡Buenos días, compita!

(HOMITO walks behind the man and squats. HOMITO continues speaking.)

HOMITO: A girl con su jefita were in the bus.

(a light goes on behind HOMITO, showing the passengers.)

WOMAN: MIja it’s gonna be bien windy cuando súbamos el bridge.

GIRL: (complaining) Mom, yo no quiero ir a la school. It’s an awful day, mom!

HOMITO: Sonaban las bells de la church when we got down to the town. The señora pushed her niña down the aisle and off the bus.

(The woman does exactly what HOMITO says. Their light shows their trajectory. HOMITO goes after them.)

HOMITO: (smiles) Si, homeboy, I walked behind that lady for a couple o’blocks. Si, vato, the seño got back, with all due respect, simón! I saw how they got lost, la niña y su jefita, in the middle of toda la gente racing their way to the border. (some people walk faster, passing HOMITO. he pretends he’s walking) I went all the way down to tha street that goes to the bridge. You know, ready pal jale y todo eso. So, te digo, I walked down da street, and when I turned the corner I saw him, lo waché, carnal.

(a light goes on to show us EL TINY looking around. After a few seconds he sees HOMITO).

EL TINY: Pos quihubo, wassappening, home boy?

HOMITO: (puzzled face) I saw him, it was El Tiny, a good camarada from the old days in la clicka and the barrio. El Tiny, the best carnalito I got in la pinta.

EL TINY: Quihubo-leeeee? Long time no see, homes… (he walks towards HOMITO.)

HOMITO: (stopping his walk) Hey, wassup, El Tiny? Good to see you, homes.

From the very beginning I noticed something wrong. His cara didn’t look all right. Lo waché bien malito, a El Tiny, my homeboy from La Pinta.

EL TINY: ¿Cómo le va, homes? What you been up to?

HOMITO: ¿Qué pues, carnal? How ya been, homeboy?

(both shake hands. People pass by every once in a while.)

When you came out?

EL TINY: I’ve been out six months now.

HOMITO: (EL TINY can’t hear this) I saw something on his face; taba pale y sick el vato. Something was wrong with him, you know; I could tell, from the very beginning. His face wasn’t the one I met when we were doing time in La Pinta. Mi carnalito wasn’t fine. From head to bottom, that wasn’t EL Tiny I met in the old days, nel, I could tell something was wrong.

EL TINY: ¿Qué pasó, carnal? Such a long time and you have nothing to say, not even hello.

HOMITO: ¡Chale, El Tiny! Don’t get me wrong, carnal, it’s just a big surprise to see you. How you been, homes?

EL TINY: Mal, carnal, ever since I got out I haven’t got any chambas, no freaking way of making any feria. I went to the old barrio and nothing good came from there. It’s been rough and wild, Homito. What about you? I see you bien bañadito, ready for something. What you up to, vato?

HOMITO: (looking stressed) Well, carnal, I got a jalecito at Royal Tacos, remember we used to go there! (smiles) Now I get the chalupas for free, homes. (looks at his watch) Hey, El Tiny, I gotta get going. It’s late already.

EL TINY: So you’re working and shit, huh? How good… Hey… remember the old times inside La Pinta. I got your back, homeboy… Remember? Nobody fucked with us; I got us covered… ¿te acuerdas?

HOMITO: ¡Chale! Of course I remember, vato. I know you saved my ass in la pinta. You’re my carnalito. We were together in those hard times….

EL TINY: Times haven’t been kind to this little vato…You know… Homito… You know how hard is trying to leave all that shit behind… I’m trying homes… I just need one more shot and I’ll be fine; dame esquina, carnal! Share some money with El Tiny…

HOMITO: No, carnal, chale; I got nothing to share. Mi lana es pa’ mi jefita, homes. I cannot give you what’s not mine…

EL TINY: (irritated) ¡Chale, carnal, chale! I saved your ass in la pinta, remember? That mayate was gonna make you his bitch, homes! Remember, huh? Remember?

HOMITO: Chale! Simón que me acuerdo…Thank you, carnal, for all what you did for me inside la pinta, vato… I owe you my life and my culo… But la feria is for la jefita…I owe her more for all I’ve done to her, carnal…I was down with la vida loca and always stood up for el barrio…

EL TINY: (furious) Chale, vato! Give some pesos, homes! I just need one more shot, that’s all! Remember la pinta, ese!

HOMITO: Cálmela, vato! I got nothing to give, nothing to share, homes!! I’m telling you. It’s no deceive, no tengo feria, ese! Now, I gotta go, El Tiny. It’s late for work…

EL TINY: (yells) Remember la pinta, puto!

HOMITO: (EL TINY can’t hear this) I knew things were getting bad. Chale, that wasn’t the old El Tiny, the one who saved me in la pinta, mi carnal from the barrio…He had the devil inside, and the devil was about to come out…

EL TINY: (as he tries to grab HOMITO by the shoulder) ¡Afloje una feria, carnal!

HOMITO: (pulls back) ¡Cálmela, ese! I remember la pinta, the old days with all the homeboys in the barrio, and las jainitas, too… But I can’t give you my feria, homes!

EL TINY: ¡Túmbese o lo tumbo, puto!

HOMITO: ¡Chale, nel, chale!... (makes a pause. EL TINY doesn’t hear the next line) That’s when it all began. Se le salió el chamuco.

EL TINY: ¡Ora, puto!

HOMITO: (EL TINY does everything HOMITO says) He tried to hit… He tried to punch me once, punch me twice… But I moved (HOMITO evades EL TINY’s blows). That’s when I told him to stop, but he wouldn’t listen…

EL TINY: (panting and crying) ¡Afloje la feria, carnal! It’s fucking hell, and it’s fucking burning my bones and my skin, homes!

HOMITO: After saying this he tried to hit me again, but I dodge his puño…Y que se mete la mano a su pocket. He reached in for something… he took out his navaja…M’iba picar, El Tiny… We were together in la pinta, los dos carnalitos…

EL TINY: ¡Túmbese! Gime’ la feria, pinchi leva!

HOMITO: He was furious in his head and I was frightened. And he did it, my homeboy tried to stab con su knifa! But I didn’t let him… (EL TINY attacks) And I dodged his punta the first time… I couldn’t believe it… Mi homeboy trying to kill for some pesos… I got mad.... Loquito me puse… And I couldn’t stand it anymore…

EL TINY: ¡La feria, puto! (he moves his arm back and forward several times)

HOMITO: And I couldn’t stand it anymore… I grabbed him by the arm and I hit him once, hit him twice (punches EL TINY), his head bounced back…. I hit him one more time, and bam! Down he went! (EL TINY falls and shakes on the floor) El Tiny, my homeboy from la pinta was down on el piso, you know… Blood on my fist, blood on the floor… El Tiny there, lying on the ground, his body shaking, and my head, mi cabecita se puso loca…Old thoughts came back to me, I was furious, insane in the brain... And his body lying on the floor. And I saw him, quieto, heavily breathing, his blood all over the place… I was furious, my homeboy from la pinta quiso chingarme and I fucked him up… But it wasn’t enough punishment. He had to pay. I saw his head, an eye open looking just at me, asking for a conclusion…Y se la di…(after a pause he continues his narration all excited) I stomped on his head. I did it once, twice, I dunno how many times. La blood splashed mi camisa, mi pantalón, mi cara. El Tiny was beneath my aged fury, motionless. But I hadn’t had enough. I needed to finish him. So, que lo piso otra vez y otra vez y otra vez. He stopped breathing. He stopped moving. He was just a rag on the cement. And I’ve done it all. Lo quiebré. I killed El Tiny, my homeboy from la pinta. Yo tenía su sangre toda sobre mi cuerpo. And his body muerto by my feet and my fury… I killed El Tiny. After that, I just felt bad and tired and went back home. That’s why I didn’t come to work yesterday.

(Lights go on. The employees look at homito in astonishment. The manager finishes writing on the clipboard)

MANAGER: OK, I’m writing you up…