Annette  Sandoval

writes books and eats food 

deats food, then writes books  

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Thanks for visiting. Here are chapters from my latest book,

10,000 SOULS.

 

It's the story of four women who eat food, solve mysteries, defy cultural expectations and collect human tattooed skins.

 

Some chapters are pretty graphic and were written for mature readers. Other chapters are flat out raunchy and were written for a cheap laugh. I prefer the cheap laughs, but

that's just me.

 

5/5/80             4      Roxy

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Click my

face!

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Chapter 1

SAN FRANCISCO'S MISSION DISTRICT

1979

 

     Mr. Hector Zamora was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer that morning, and the prognosis was not good. He had expected the doctor to say that it was a cyst, not women’s cancer. The doctor said that the disease was rare in men, but it did occur.

     He decided to end his own life while watching a rerun of I Love Lucy. He was sitting next to his wife, Carmen, on the living room’s plastic slipcovered couch. Their two teenage daughters watched TV cross-legged on the floor. One or the other would occasionally get up to adjust the reception by rotating the coat hanger antenna.

     Now that the shock was wearing off, he was not sure what scared him more, the cancer itself or the thought of telling his family. If he told his girls he had less than three years to live, the news would instantly age them. Roxy would start a count-down. Every day, he would see the calendar page turn in her eyes. His wife, being his wife, would make the cancer her own. But keeping the diagnosis a secret for too long would be difficult. He pictured a fruit rotting in a bowl. 

     No. Death by his own hand was the way to go. With the decision made, he tuned back into the show. It was the episode where Lucy places a bet with Ricky. She was going to keep from buying a hat for longer than he could keep from losing his temper. Mr. Zamora caught himself before saying, "Why a hat? A box of Cohiba cigars I could understand, but a pinche hat?"

     As if picking up the vibrations of the unspoken question through her jaw, Mrs. Zamora nodded once. "I hate Lucy." Her tone was so full of loathing that Mr. Zamora had to resist the urge to gape at his wife. Their daughters knew better than to look back at their mother. In the wilderness they called home, eye contact was an act of aggression.

     Mrs. Zamora spoke again. In his peripheral vision, she looked just like a beanbag with a russet potato for a head. "Lucy is so spoiled. She can’t cook and never bothers to clean their apartment. She’s always spending her husband’s money and doing things she shouldn't be doing behind his back. Now what kind of a wife is that?"

     Mr. Zamora was thinking about how familiar that sounded when the potato spoke again. "And what kind of a name is Ricky Ricardo anyway? Did his parents really give him the same first and last name?’ You see! That’s what happens when los otros write about us. They always get it all wrong!"

     Roxy cautiously spoke to the chancla dangling from her mother’s big toe, aware that she could wield the house sandal with the precision of a ninja throwing star. "Enrique. His name is Enrique Ricardo. Not Ricardo Ricardo."

     "Oh." Annoyed by the correction, Mrs. Zamora crossed her arms under her bra strap. She sank deeper into the cushions, causing the plastic slipcovers to let out a heavy sigh. "Poor Ricky. If he had just married a good Mexican woman instead of that...he would have been much better off."

     "He’s Cuban, mother," Roxy said through clenched teeth. She braced for the chancla.

     "I know that!" Mrs. Zamora said, sounding offended. "He’s Catholic…and he speaks Spanish. If that’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for me."

     “How do you know he’s Catholic?” Roxy said, pushing it.

     “Because,” Mrs. Zamora said, exacerbated, “Everyone born speaking Spanish is Catholic…”

     Mr. Zamora stayed out of it, using the dwindling time to study his daughters. Roxy, at seventeen, looked just like the pudgy woman now threatening her with the chancla. When Roxy was a baby, he had hoped that she would grow out of it. She never did. But God had blessed her with a greater gift than beauty, a sharp mind. Roxy could do math in her head without the aid of a calculator.

     Leah, younger by one year, favored him. Two brown whippets in the rain, only with curly hair. Unlike her big sister, Leah was painfully shy. Her fragile beauty was already drawing unwanted attention.

     On the screen, Enrique bends Lucy over his knee and starts spanking her. Glancing at the TV, Mrs. Zamora perked up. "Harder! Hit her harder!"

     Mr. Zamora watched as his wife cheered on the domestic abuser. He felt his earlier fatigue return as his vision blurred with tears. Listening to the laugh track, he wondered how many members of the audience were dead.

     He could not bring himself to think of how much he would miss his girls, so he focused his attention on making sure that they were taken care of after he was gone. First thing he would do is write a will. Second, get as much life insurance as he could. He remembered hearing something about it taking a year for the death benefits to kick in but was not sure. He would have to look into that.

     Escaping his fate of a painful and demeaning death buoyed his spirits. How am I going to do it? It must look like an accident. Mr. Zamora became serene. I own a restaurant. Accidents are always happening there.

Chapter 2

MR. ZAMORA IS DEAD

1980

     Mr. Zamora's fatal freak accident occurred in the restaurant’s kitchen one year and one day later. He was electrocuted while trying to unplug a faulty electric bean masher. It was actually an industrial electric potato masher, only they used it for beans. To this day, no one can explain why he was mashing the beans in the first place. That was Pedro’s job.

     After Mr. Zamora's tragic death, most of the regular customers stopped patronizing Tacos de Sesos Restaurante, or Sesos for short. The people in the Mission District felt bad for the Zamora women, now left without a husband or a father. The food was great, authentic, but everyone knew that his widow was running the restaurant. And no one wanted to spend good money in bad company.

     On the Monday after the funeral, Mrs. Zamora buttoned the top button of the lightweight black suéter she wore over her simple black polyester blend dress. She applied a face powder that was three shades lighter than her skin tone, then the dusty rose lipstick she had always worn. As she sprayed a generous amount of Aqua Net Hairspray around her head, she inhaled enough of the fumes to make her cough.

     Mrs. Zamora stared at herself in the gold trimmed vanity mirror. Her lifelong fear of living without the security of a man, first her father and now her husband, had come true. Why women without the decency to shave under their arms demand more liberation than they could ever use was beyond her. Sighing, she picked up her husband’s hefty ring of keys, having no idea what most of them unlocked.

     In the kitchen, Chucha, the cook, conveyed his deepest sympathies. He was a slight, effeminate man with teased black hair and sad Indian eyes. He liked to think of his work aprons as wrap-around skirts. The one he wore was the mourning apron he had embroidered with flowers of the dead: orange marigolds, chrysanthemum, comstock, gladiolas, and baby’s breath.

     While selecting baked goods from the pink box he had brought from the panadería, Chucha expressed his remorse at the loss of such a good man. Mrs. Zamora interrupted him by talking about how much she was going to miss her husband. She served herself a niño envuelto with tongs, then a second one. On the ceramic plate the jelly roll slices looked like Princess Leias’ hair buns.

     Mrs. Zamora lingered in the kitchen until she received condolences and hugs from her arriving staff.  When they got back to work, Mrs. Zamora said she was feeling light-headed. The waitresses made a fuss as they gingerly helped her onto a chair.

     Pedro arrived ten minutes late for his shift. His bowl haircut and small stature always reminded Mrs. Zamora of one of those little Amazonian tribes’ men. She berated her busboy, who worked three jobs, on punctuality. No matter where the waitresses looked, their eyes were pulled back to the burnt floor tiles where their real boss had met God.

     If you can’t earn their respect, take it, Mrs. Zamora thought as she headed to her husband's wood paneled office. When she reached the door, she stopped cold. Tall stacks of parcels, toppled mail, and scattered phone messages completely covered his desk. A wall calendar filled with her husband's cramped, cursive writing caught her attention. Two of the dates were lassoed in red ink. "Payroll" was written in both. The second payroll date was in four days.

     The loud crash of the front door caused Roxy and Leah to jump. Their wet and raw eyes followed their mother as she trudged into the living room crying hoarse, wracking sobs. When she momentarily blocked Bob Barker on TV, the sisters exchanged nervous glances.

     Roxy and Leah decided to return to school the next day. Saint Joan of Arc was an all-girls high school also known as St. Juanita’s, although most people called it St. Juan’s. Mrs. Zamora warded off thoughts of working on payroll by retreating to her bedroom, where she escaped into television and food. She only got up to go to the bathroom or to switch channels back and forth between the novelas on UHF and the soap operas on ABC.

     The employees were sympathetic. They brought her meals up to her apartment on trays and took the dirty dishes away. If she did not feel like real food, they ordered whatever she wanted. Usually sweet and sour pork served with pork fried rice and an egg roll from the Chinese restaurant on Market Street.

     On the morning of the dreaded payday, Mrs. Zamora hunkered down in the bathroom in their apartment. As the minutes counted down, she wiped her sweaty face with the lacy hand towel reserved for guests. In the restaurant's kitchen, Chucha and Pedro prepared for the inevitable uprising by performing Last Rites on each other while splashing tap water.

     The riot began at 10:08 a.m. Dressed in their puffy, off-the-shoulder uniforms inspired by the Mexican Revolution, the normally benign group of waitresses clamored for their paychecks. When la jefa failed to show her "ugly face," they raided the walk-in refrigerator and freezer. They took their due earnings with meat and seafood wrapped in butcher’s paper, huge blocks of cheese, and butter.

     Las Adelitas stormed the storeroom where they claimed unpaid sick days and vacation time owed to them with cases of beer, liquor, and wine. Bottles of DeKuyper Schnapps were left in their wake. As they departed the restaurant, the new mothers snatched up the baby booster seats stacked near the kitchen door.

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5/5/80          4      Roxy

That's it for now. I’ll be adding more chapter as I revise.

This is the final draft. 

Your feedback is more than welcome.

If you have any questions you can always reach me right here.

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EARLY REVIEWS

ARE IN!!!

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“…strikes universal chords that will resonate with all readers…” 

—Michael Nava, author of The City of Palaces 

“The yarn Sandoval spins of their lives would make an HBO show-runner proud...” 

—Compulsive Reader 

"...rich plot twists, interspersed with delightful culinary details that make the recipes almost characters in themselves."

 

—American Library Association 

“...some of the most interesting, well- drawn characters in contemporary 

Chicana literature.

It shines.”

 

Rudolfo Anaya, author, Bless Me, Ultima

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