Since Chelo is posting regularly on Tuesdays, I thought I’d introduce her a bit more today. And the best way to get to know Chelo is from the book. In this excerpt, we first meet her:
Chelo burst through the doors of the Physical Science building, stamped her feet rapidly, and unwound seven feet of thick variegated scarf in red and pink tones. On her head a red knitted hat with a bright pink knitted bow was pulled over her ears while her curly, short, black hair bounced beneath. “Brrrr!” she exclaimed, looking to where Suzanna stood waiting with Atticus. “Susanita!” She skipped up to them and embraced her new friend.
“It is so good of you to spend your day with me. I am so lonely at the dorms, the halls are bismolly empty!”
“Is she talking about the pink stuff for stomachs?” Atticus whispered.
“I think she meant abysmally,” Suzanna whispered back. She had learned Chelo often grabbed the wrong word and squeezed it in for emphasis.
“Susanita,” Chelo scolded, “stop whispering! I’m right here. Now, who is this friend of yours?” Chelo eyed Atticus with a side-ways look through slowly blinking, department-store lashes. Her plump lips pursed slightly.
Suzanna coughed. “This is Atticus. He’s my new neighbor. Atticus, this is Consuela.”
“You must call me Chelo!” She beamed at Atticus. “Now, where are we going?”
“We are on our way to see what the excitement is in Dr. Takishida’s lab,” Suzanna explained.
“Dr. taco pitas? And I’m starving.” Chelo stepped between them and slipped an arm through each of theirs. “Let’s go see this wizard!”
Suzanna noticed Atticus removed his ski hat and ran his fingers through his hair self-consciously. Chelo tended to make men uncomfortable.
And in this scene, Chelo has gone to the hospital with friends to talk to a man. However, as Chelo explains, “Oh I remember that I do not like hospitals. People die in here!” Her friends decide to leave her in the lobby area while they go up to the room. When they return, this is what they witness:
They rode the elevator to the lobby and stepped out. The sound of laughter could be heard before they had turned the corner. The piano no longer played, and in a corner of the room Chelo stood beneath, though slightly to the right of a T.V. screen. People filled chairs, and stood around. The T.V. was muted. As they drew nearer, Suzanna realized that the show was a Hispanic soap opera and that Chelo interpreted the story for the people. More like she’s improvising.
“So the wedding is off?” Chelo asked in a deep voice.
“How can I marry you when we are related?” This time Chelo’s voice was a female filled with passion.
“If only mama had not needed a new kidney!”
“If only your mother had not insisted that everyone at our engagement party have a blood test.” The female voice raised in intensity.
“It’s not mama’s fault that your father was a perfect match.”
Suzanna worried about the appropriateness of Chelo’s dialogue in a hospital. She caught Chelo’s attention and pointed to her watch. Chelo told everyone she needed to go and waved good-by. There was a collective protest, and the piano player applauded from where he stood at the railing around the mezzanine level.
“That was impressive,” Atticus said, holding the door open for them to pass through. “What is your major? Performing arts?”
“Oh, no, I’m studying to be a surgeon.”
“Chelo! How can I ever take you serious again,” Suzanna exclaimed. “She’s studying botany.”
Read Chelo’s Posts each Tuesday. Here’s one of them.