Johnny America


Taco Fairy


His wife was on the phone with her girl­friend, bad mouthing him. He left so she could talk freely — he just start­ed walk­ing. It felt like they weren’t go­ing to last. He fig­ured she was cheat­ing on him, but that was prob­a­bly just jeal­ousy — he had no proof. His kids felt very lit­tle for him. Oc­ca­sion­al­ly he re­mem­bered, years back, hold­ing them for the first time — how there seemed to be in­fi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties. He al­so re­mem­bered lov­ing his wife once — the warmth and light of that. But that was a long time ago. Now he was a man forced to remember.

He walked a few qui­et blocks, past trees and homes and all the dogs chained up in tiny, filthy yards — bark­ing at their bone grey cin­derblock walls. It was some­how fa­mil­iar to him. He won­dered how he’d end­ed up here, at this very mo­ment in time, walk­ing. He could­n’t say. He did­n’t re­call ac­tu­al­ly choos­ing any of this, yet here it was just the same, stretch­ing out be­fore him like the shad­ow at his feet — inescapable.

Slow­ly the streets changed. There was a ris­ing din, a white noise of traf­fic as he got clos­er to big­ger, busier streets — a sound like sleep­ing on the couch with the TV on. He just did­n’t seem to be a part of any of it. He did­n’t fit.

He re­al­ized he was­n’t even hun­gry as he walked up to a taco stand and asked how much for some tacos.

“Six­ty-five cents a piece,” said the girl be­hind the counter.

“Great,” he said, “I’ll take three.” She rang up the order.

“Two oh sev­en,” she said, uninterested.

“I’ve got…I’ve on­ly got two dol­lars,” he said, hop­ing. She just stared blankly back. He re­peat­ed it.

“Uh, we’re not al­lowed to…um…you have to pay the whole amount. The ma­chine keeps a record…”

“Ah for cryin’ out…fine…” he said. He looked at the menu. He looked for the cheap­est item:


“What’s a chur­ro?” he asked.

“It’s like a long dough­nut. Like cinnamon‑y…”

“Okay. I’ll take two tacos and a chur­ro.” She rang it up.

“One nin­ty-two” she said. He paid. “Eight cents is your change, sir.”

“Keep it.”

“Oh…well…we’re not re­al­ly al­lowed…” she started.

“…Not al­lowed too, fine. I’ll tell you what…I’m gonna leave it right here, on this counter and the if next guy who comes along on­ly needs sev­en cents for a third taco, well, he is more than wel­come to it, okay?”

“Well we can’t re­al­ly…” He walked away be­fore she could fin­ish. It just seemed like noth­ing ever worked.

He ate one of his tacos. He ex­pect­ed it to be lousy too, but it was ac­tu­al­ly okay. Around him peo­ple went places — to banks, to burg­er joints, to used car lots, and the ra­dios turned up too loud, DJs talk­ing about use­less shit and aw­ful jin­gles sell­ing cell phones or car stere­os. It al­most echoed off the as­phalt and grime. He won­dered why car stereo places ad­ver­tised on the ra­dio — it did­n’t seem to make much sense. But that was­n’t much dif­fer­ent then all the rest of it.

He took a bite of his last taco. Then there they were again, the dogs. Their bark­ing, their rage — there was some­thing al­most beau­ti­ful about it. He stopped in front of a pep­per-col­ored pit­bull, neck mus­cles rip­pling as it strained against its chain. He just stared. The yard was all dirt, trash, bro­ken beer bot­tles — things ne­glect­ed. I know how you feel, he thought. The dog strained and strained and strained against it’s shack­les, bark­ing, want­i­ng to get at him. “At­ta boy,” he said qui­et­ly, “nev­er give up…it can’t hold you for­ev­er.” He said, smil­ing, then tossed the pit­bull the rest of his taco. The dog sniffed it mo­men­tar­i­ly, un­trust­ing, then gnashed it down. He smiled again. He want­ed to pet the dog, but knew it would crush his bones in­to pow­der if he got near it.

“Hey, what the fuck are you do­ing to my dog, pen­de­jo?” said a voice, a man’s voice. A tat­tooed thug in a wifebeat­er flashed out the front door of the house.

“Oh, uh…nothing,” he said, “I was just…I was just look­ing at your dog.”

“Fuck that,” said an­oth­er voice from in­side the house, “He threw some­thing at him, aye…” Two more men came out­side, glaring.

“Did you throw some­thing at my dog, moth­er­fuck­er?” said wifebeater.

“No, I…I ac­tu­al­ly just gave him the rest of my taco.”

“And why’d you fuck­ing do that?”

“I don’t know…I just like him, that’s all.”

“Oh, ‘you just like him, that’s all?’ ”


“Well, if you’re done hand­ing out fuck­ing tacos like some god­damned taco fairy, why don’t you get the fuck out of here, puto?” Wifebeat­er’s friends laughed ob­nox­ious­ly, re­peat­ing ‘taco fairy’ to each oth­er. He chuck­led a bit at the sheer stu­pid­i­ty of it all and walked away. They hollered at him — “Hey, what’s so fun­ny, cabron?” and “We see you again, we’re gonna fuck you up, mari­con!” He ig­nored them. He thought for a mo­ment they might fol­low him, start some shit. But noth­ing happened.

Half a block lat­er he gave the rest of his chur­ro to an­oth­er dog, a pup­py. No one saw him this time and he ac­tu­al­ly got to pet that one — a black and tan Rot­tweil­er pup­py with a white wish­bone on its stomach.

He re­turned home and his wife was still on the phone with her girl­friend, prob­a­bly still bad mouthing him. She looked like she might’ve been crying.

Filed under Fiction on May 2nd, 2007

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Reader Comments

Chastity Babineaux wrote:

I think this is a great sto­ry. The first time I read through it I thought that the guy and his wife weren’t go­ing to make it, but when I read it again, it seemed like maybe they would. This is the best kind of sto­ry be­cause it makes you want to hear more about these peo­ple. Mc­Creesh can lay down a line, that’s for sure.

Jum wrote:

That’s a nice close read­ing Chasti­ty, but fuck if that an­gry lati­no did­n’t ut­ter the most side-bust­ing com­ment in ‘taco fairy’ that I ever seen. Fairy hilarious.

goofer dust wrote:

that sumbitch can write.

Jack wrote:

To me, the best sto­ries show me, they don’t tell me. This one showed me a world that I could ac­tu­al­ly see and feel. Very nice­ly writ­ten. Thanks for post­ing it.

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