Thursday, April 24, 2008

Drop The Needle #6

Mateo drives the delivery truck, gets a flat tire, and runs into the last person he wants to see-the unsavory brother of the girl he's been secretly fooling around with...

Rahmed squinted when he noticed the Corner Gourmet truck and sauntered over. When he saw Mateo he broke into a chuckle and patted him on the back.

"Yo, Vegetable Boy from the store. Look's like it's your lucky day. Just so happens I work in that gas station over there, and I can fix you up for free. Hop in."

Rahmed climbed behind the driver's side and Mateo the passenger side. Mateo's chest tightened. He considered calling Ray to bail him out but that would only earn him a beating later at Tío's hands.

In the truck, Rahmed's smile vanished. He spoke in a low whisper, his dark eyes boring into Mateo. "You don't tell my sister you saw me today- - I don't tell your uncle you screwed up his truck. I'll even help you with the delivery."

Rahmed paused. Mateo stared.

"You speak ingles, dude, don't you? You good with that?"

"Uh, yeah. I guess."

"Shake on it then."

Mateo offered his hand and Rahmed squeezed his fingers together in a too firm grip. A smile spread across his thin lips. He held onto Mateo's hand for an uncomfortably long moment.

"Maybe you and me could, ah, meet up sometime, huh?"


"Have a drink down by the pier, you know?"

"Sure, uh, maybe." Mateo felt suddenly itchy, as if his whole body had broken out in a sweaty rash. His stomach rolled. He stifled the urge to gag. Was this pendejo coming on to him?

Rahmed made good on his word. He plugged the leaky tire and rode with Mateo to the Smithsons', where he helped unload with considerable enthusiasm. On the ride back to the gas station Mateo drove. Before he got out, Rahmed turned to Mateo, his wide smile punctuated by nervous gusts of laughter.

"I hate this gas station, dude. How about you tell your uncle to hire me, too. It'll be cool, you know? All of us working together?"

Mateo nodded, stared at the road ahead, and gripped the wheel.



  1. You've done a great job of portraying character traits through idiomatic dialogue. I think that's a good skill to have!

    There is certainly "menace" beneath much of Rahmed's dialogue, but I'm not sure it was the predominant emotion that I experienced. I certainly felt tension and a bit of anxiety. And, of course, Rahmed's pick-up line wasn't menacing -- at least not in the traditional sense.

  2. Well, I felt the need to get away from the creepy Rahmed, so I suppose that could be menace--there were some threats in there. But I'm not sure I'm clear on the relationship you gave in the intro matching up with the one that comes out at the end of the selection; that didn't seem as menacing to me. Just...weird, like, get me away from this guy.

  3. I felt that Rahmed was creepy too, but not menacing. What came through was the fear of Rahmed's actions through Mateo's over-analizing/paranoid thoughts, like he was waiting for Rah to go loco because he somehow know Mat was with his sister. Very good internal dialogue, though.

  4. Hmmm, not really menace--a subtle tone of uneasiness and paranoia from Mateo, sure.

    I liked the dialogue, even though I had trouble getting into the scene (the start made it sound like it was in Rahmed's pov, no Mateo's, so I was confused at the start).

    Agree with Authoress that the idiomatic DL works well here. :)