Five janky lightbulbs, naked and dimly shining, lit the church. A barren concrete room with plastic chairs in the middle and a small wooden bench running along the side walls give us a seat. The concrete stage lifts up the desk that looks like a lawyer’s from the 70’s that has been left in a rock tumbler. I wonder if it has drawers.
Even purposefully late to this forced community meeting, German (Herman) and I have to wait for the rest to file in. I nestle in next to the only other person who was under 45 years old that's not a baby wrapped in mamma's poncho, and we have a nice chat through the roll call of every residence in San Alfonso. I almost miss the name I am representing since alphabetical order got disregarded somewhere after the C’s. Everyone laughed when I raised my hand as the administrators glared. Out of respect, my new friend and I stop talking to succumb to the boredom of a monotone drone of numbers and this and that’s that I have a hard time understanding through the choppy language that bounces off the bleak and barren room.
I look at the luminating 5 bulbs, the wool fedoras, the sleepers, and the 4 birds that dart around from time to time. A few dogs sneak in and give me a few seconds of relief. The bare room with the small president and his assistant at the big desk remain as my mind dims into the cold, and the patience that is serenaded by the falling rain through the black night shines in through the windows, which every once and a while are opened so someone can smoke a cigarette. After a while, cracking the window doesn’t matter and the smoke mingles with the smell of alcohol breath in the room I am now back in, still.
I hand my scarf to a cute shivering old lady. She smiles and wraps it around her legs, letting it slide around her feet and drag the floor. The lady next to her, at times, unconsciously steps on my precious scarf that I daily wrap my face in. After the meeting, she unwraps her legs and walks out. German and I chased her down the street through the dark, cold rain.