Yellow Mama Archives

Shannon Barber

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Por Mi Hermana




Shannon Barber



“Next time stay the fuck out of the ghetto, mother fucker.”


For a moment there was no other noise except for weeping and then laughter from the shadows.


Men came from the darkness, howling with laughter. An arm went around Marisella’s shoulders. The man she left bleeding on the sidewalk wailed,

“You knocked out my tooth, you little bitch.”


Before the restraining arm could react, she started stomping on the exposed mid-section of the bleeding, crying man.


“I told you- Chinga tu madre.”


Finally someone big and brave enough pulled her away. After she was out of earshot more laughter erupted from the gathered men, everyone had to sit on the ground wiping their eyes and trying not to piss their pants.


Jorge surveyed the scene for a moment before speaking. “So what happened?”


The laughter quieted down for one man to step forward. He pointed at the half conscious White boy in the gutter.

“La Diabla happened bro, you better do something about her before she gets caught up.”


Jorge sighed and rolled his eyes to the heavens and crossed himself.


“Why you leave me with her, huh?”


Everyone standing there knew he was speaking to his dead mother and stayed quiet out of respect.


The White boy had tried to rip him off. He couldn’t let some strange White boy walk into his territory trying to sell ten-dollar grams of bullshit ditch weed. But this wasn’t what he’d had planned.


Jorge squatted and waited for the white boy to come around a little more.


“I told you what would happen if you ran. You told me you wanted to come see El Diablo himself right? That’s what you said.”


The White boy keened in the back of his throat, Jorge prodded his bleeding face.


“Answer me.”


“Yes, yes, El Diablo. I heard about you in my Frat house.”


“You murder my language, kid. It’s La Diabla, diabla. The feminine. A girl. You was wrong. You understand me so far, gringo?”


“Yes, yes I do. Please, can I just go?”


“No, man. You gotta hear the story now. La Diabla is my little sister. All that shit she did on you? I paid for her to learn it. When we was kids, she was kinda fat and she had low self esteem.  I saw what happened to girls like that. So I got her fighting lessons at the Y on Lex, you know that place?”


Jorge’s tone was friendly, almost jovial. The white boy on the ground nodded, thinking he was out of trouble and that things would be okay.


Jorge lit a joint, “Man, you should have seen her. I wish our Mama, God rest her soul, had been there to see it. She is real good at it.”


The boys sitting around them shook their heads.


“So look. I don’t sell this shit for fuckin’ rims or shoes or none of that shit? This ain’t for fun. This is for my familia. You understand, gringo?”


The White boy nodded frantically.


“Y-yeah. I’m so sorry, man. I was just trying to make some money for school cause I got some tickets and books and- “


He howled, while Jorge put his joint out on his arm.


“Shut up or I’ll have my man here go get Baby Diabla. We’ll see if she can break your arm, okay?”


The White boy nodded, crying again.


“Look, here’s how it’s going down. You are gonna take my boy to your car, you’re going to go to the ATM and pull out some money, cause you caused us problems. Then you’re gonna get all cleaned up and you can go back to your frat house and tell your boys how you got in a gang fight and lived. You with me so far?”


More nodding, the blood and snot were starting to dry on his face.


“Tell your boys anything you want. Except about my sister. I see or hear about one stray White boy talkin’ about fighting La Diabla, I’ll come find you myself. I can’t fight but I will slice your fucking throat ear to ear and mail your tongue to your mother. Got it?”


The White boy nodded.




Jorge stood up and gestured for the boys to take care of things before he turned to go home. Marisella was sitting on the stoop of their apartment building sipping from a tall boy.


“Don’t start with me, Jorge. It was his fault.”


Jorge sat and slung his arm around her shoulders. It took everything he had not to smile and kiss her round dimpled cheeks.


“Marisella, what did I say last time? Come on now. I don’t want you doing that. Let the soldiers do their job.”


She turned to look at him, her big round brown eyes glistening with tears. That disappointed tone had worked on her since their Mom had passed.


“I’m sorry. I won’t do that no more, I promise. You ain't mad at me are you?”


He watched the tears linger then slide down her cheeks; he wiped them away and took her tall boy.


“Naw I ain’t mad at you. I love you, but you calm the fuck down. What you do to your nails? How you gonna get a date now?”


She smiled and elbowed him before snatching her beer back out of his hand. She scrambled to her feet, pulling him up too.


“Let’s go inside, I want to finish watching that movie.”


Jorge tried to keep his stern face but couldn’t do it. Instead he jumped up and picked her up, spun her around in his arms.


“Te quiero, La Diabla.”


She hugged him fiercely and whispered in his ear.


“Te quiero, butthead.”

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