Chelo is Kennady’s unpredictable friend in Cold Pursuit. The best way to get to know Chelo is from the book:
A few minutes later, Kennady stood beside Atticus and watched as Chelo burst through the doors of the campus building, stamped her feet rapidly, and unwound seven feet of thick, variegated scarf in red and pink tones. A red knitted hat with a bright pink knitted bow was pulled over her ears, her curly, short black hair protruding from underneath.
“Brrrr!” Chelo skipped up to them and embraced Kennady. “Kenita, 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,” Kennady whispered back. She had learned Chelo often used the wrong word.
“Kenita, stop whispering!” Chelo scolded. “I’m right here. Now, who is this friend of yours?” She eyed Atticus with a sideways look through lowered, department-store lashes. Her plump lips pursed slightly.
Kennady coughed. “This is Atticus. He’s my new neighbor. Atticus, this is Consuela.”
“You must call me Chelo.” She beamed at him. “Now, where are we going?”
“We are on our way to see what the excitement is in Dr. Takishida’s lab,” Kennady explained.
“Dr. Taco Pitas? And I’m starving.” Chelo stepped between Atticus and Kennady and slipped an arm through each of theirs. “Let’s go see this wizard!”
Kennady saw Atticus remove his ski hat and self-consciously run his fingers through his hair. 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:
Atticus and Kennady 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 TV screen. Several people sat in chairs, while others stood around. The TV was muted. As Kennady and Atticus drew nearer, she realized the show was a Hispanic soap opera and that Chelo was interpreting the story for the people. More like she’s improvising, Kennady thought.
“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.”
Kennady 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
goodbye. 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 held the door open for the girls 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 seriously again?” Kennady exclaimed. “She’s studying botany.”