Carlos wished the English voice on the phone would shout and curse at him like his mother’s voice shouted and cursed at him. He understood her language even when she did not speak. Her eyes made him physically guilty. The guilt spread up and down his body like a widespread contagion. It made him want to cover up and hide himself in a darkened closet corner. She gave ample cues for him to figure out what she was thinking. He knew the significance of her tone and the twitch of her lips. His life with her was a round by round bout of blessing and cursing.
He had appeased his women too often, he thought. He had broken the code. He did not feel like her child anymore although she made him feel guilty if he failed to return to her the respect that was her right. Even against her tirades, when she tried to move him to action, he remained unmoved. She still had dignity and would to the end abide by the community standard. A man who has no woman must return to his mother, to his origins, and it was Carlos’ mother who had made the man just as her mother had made her brothers. This is part of the code and why the men were served first at the table.