"Como' esta tu novia joven?" Tomas said.
"It's over," I said.
"She hit you?" He pointed at my eye.
He was quiet for a minute then shook his head and pointed his finger at me, "Heh-heh."
"Very funny. Take your damn plywood."
"You need good Mexican woman. Cook for you," he said as he took the plywood ripper up the ladder with him. He shoved it onto the new decking and when he got to the top rung he vanished onto the roof with the rest of his crew and I didn't see him again until quitting time.
When I finished wrapping up my orange extension cords and had the tools locked in the temporary shed I unhooked my nailbag and walked to my truck. Some of the roofers were already out there gathered around a tailgate drinking Budweiser in the shade. Tomas waved me over and I put my nailbag on my front seat and headed under the tree where they were talking. A wetback I didn't know held a beer out to me.
"Nah, I can't." I pointed my thumb behind my back at the ignition-breathalyzer inside my truck.
Tomas rattled off something in Spanish and held his fingers to his lips like he was blowing into an imaginary hose. They cupped their chins and slowly nodded at the technology he explained. The alcohol hummed through their veins like an electric current and they all began another excited conversation I didn't understand.
"Esta chica hace muchos problemos for you," Tomas said, pointing at my eye.
"I know, but it's over like I was telling you."
"My friends," Tomas passed his open palm toward the circle of wetbacks surrounding the tailgate, "We get this man for you if you want."
They nodded their heads rapidly and pumped their beers at my bruised eye. They watched me as I shifted my weight and lowered my eyes to the ground. Tomas took a long pull on his beer.
"Nah. It's okay. Thanks though."
Tomas put his hand on my shoulder and hugged me close.
"Gracias," I said.
He patted his heavy hand on my shoulder and handed me an unopened beer. "For later, when you home."
"Thanks," I said.
I backed away from their contagious grouping of fellowship before I ended up having some beers and not being able to start my truck. They all raised a hand at me and I raised one of mine and turned my back and got in my truck. I pushed my nailbag across the seat and a pink slip of paper fell out. I unfolded it and read: YOU'RE NOT AS OLD AS YOU THINK YOU ARE. I put the beer beside me on the seat and went through the ritual of starting my truck and drove home listening to some country music.
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