Fausto was walking around El Cerrito, whistling a tune to himself, a jazz number. The big ol’ nice hot yellow sun was up there brilliating in the ‘lectric blue sky dappled with funny lil puffy clouds. There was a pleasant lil breeze rustling through the hyper green leaves of the trees, birds tweeting, and whatnot. ’Twas a sweet lil idyl.
He was in town visiting his auntie and unc and his lil newborn baby cuzzo. Tio Marty was at work and Tia Malika and prima Aylin were napping together so he figured he’d strike out on a lil paseo through the quaint lil suburban neighborhood.
He hadn’t walked but a couple blocks when a beautiful amethyst-colored butterfly landed on his shoulder, said: “Sup.”
“Chillin too, ride with me.”
And she did, whispering directions into his ear, “turn left here,” etc.
The butterfly choreographed a long, winding, weaving hike; up through Kensington, down through south Kensington, on into Paradise Hills, where his folks first shacked up. All the while, Fausto and Mariposita talked about whatever popped into their heads: books, movies, music, politics, philosophy, etc. Fausto was usually a dude of few words, and he had only just met Mariposita when she landed on his shoulder but the connection was so immediate and real, it was as if they had known each other forever.
They passed by the house where his uncle and aunt used to live with his mom and pop.
“My folks used to live here with my auntie and uncle,” he told Mariposita.
“Yeah, my folks ended up moving down south of the border to Santa Sirena, that’s where they raised me.”
“It’s nice, mellow, kinda slow. There’s a casino in town, and I don’t mean to brag but I have supernatural luck at gambling: dice, cards, roulette, anything really but mostly dice. Been gambling since I was a kid, I moved out when I was real young, stayed mostly in hotels and motels for years, Tijuana, Las Vegas, Macau…”
“I could tell you were lucky when I landed on your shoulder, that’s why I chose you in the first place.”
“Chose me? For what?”
“Keep going straight another few blocks then turn left on Malcolm X, I’ll show you.”
He did as he was told.
A few blocks down Malcolm X, she said, “OK, here we are.”
It was a small storefront, sign read:
BOTANICA YOGA AZTECA
(ISLAMO-JUDAIC TECHNOLOGIES, AFRICA CHRIST SCIENCE, VELADORAS, PERFUMES, ACEITES, HECHIZOS MAGICOS, IDOLOS, POESIA YORUBA, PAN GLOBAL SYNCRETIC PHILOSOPHIES & TACTICS WITHIN)
एज़टेक योगा इस्लामो-जुडाईक टेक्नोलॉजीज
טכנולוגיות יהודיות ומוסלמיות אצטק יוגה
He’d been down this street more than a few times but for whatever reason had never noticed this lil botanica. It didn’t look new. On the contrary it looked at least a hundred years old.
They went inside.
The petite brown brujita behind the counter lit up when they walked in: “Mariposita! Mucho tiempo sin verte, como andas.”
“¿Bien, bien, como esta usted, Ife?”
“¿Bien, bien, y quien es tu novio?”
“Hola, mucho gusto.”
Ife took Fausto and Mariposa into an electric blue room in the back, completely empty save for one pink glowing orb of light.
“¿Que es eso?” Fausto asked.
“¡LA MAGIA!!” said Mariposita and Ife in unison.
“¿Y que hace?
On their way out, Ife gave Faust a smoothly polished pink pebble about the size of a standard issue marble: “Cuidala.”
“Tu lo descubrirás.”
They continued on their walk, conversing with the intimacy of long time lovers.
“Where to now?” asked Fausto.
They walked to the end of Malcolm X, then walked the length of Martin Luther King Jr. Way, then they walked the length of San Pablo, then they walked the the length of Azteca and at the end of that long and winding avenue they found a pyramid, climbed to the top. At the top was an opening.
“Jump in,” said Mariposita.
“What about you?”
“I’ll wait outside.”
Fausto shrugged and leapt.