Usted esta cordialmente invitado a unirse a nosotros en este Dia de Los Muertos
2 de Noviembre
Zak stared blankly at the note, unsure what to make of it. ``So, this is... what exactly?''
``Yeah, I can't read this,'' said Jareth.
``What language is this, Canadian?'' said Jake.
``It's Spanish, dumbass,'' Roscoe rolled his eyes.
``It's an invitation,'' Gloria finally chimed in. ``To my family's day of the dead celebration.''
``Day of the dead?'' Kira glanced over the colorful note each of them had been given. ``You could've just told us that.''
``I know,'' said Gloria, ``But my aunt went to the trouble of making these invitations, so I had to at least hand them out.''
``Well, she could've at least had the decency to print them in English,'' said Sammy, tossing his invitation on the table.
``Her English isn't that good,'' said Gloria.
``What exactly is a day of the dead celebration?'' Kira asked.
``It's a time when the spirts of the dead wake up and walk among us,'' said Gloria.
``Woah! You mean like zombies?'' Jake pipped up.
``Woo! Zombie party! I'm in!'' said Jake.
``Is there food?'' Roscoe asked. ``I'll go if there's food.''
``Yes, there is food,'' Gloria rolled her eyes.
``Then I'm in,'' Roscoe said excitedly.
Well I'm out,'' Sammy threw his invitation onto the table. ``This sounds like religious nonsense.''
``I wanna go...'' Jesse squeaked.
Sammy shifted uncomfortably in his chair. ``Uh... fine, I'll go too then.''
``If you're going to come, you better be on your best behavior,'' said Gloria. ``I'm not putting up with any of your condescending crap.''
``Heh, when am I ever anything but a perfect gentleman?'' Sammy said with his usual smug look.
``I think this sounds fascinating,'' said Jareth. ``Count me in.''
Kira glance up at Zak, who was still glancing over the invitation. ``Uh... yeah, I guess this will be fun.''
``Yes! Great!'' Gloria said excitedly. ``So, each of you needs to bring a photo of someone deceased.''
Pretty much everyone gave her a confused look.
``I mean, it's a celebration of the dead,'' said Gloria. ``How else did you expect to participate?''
``What exactly are the photos for?'' Kira asked.
``We just keep them on display,'' said Gloria. ``To remind us that they're still with us.''
``Ok,'' said Zak. ``But who exactly do we bring photos of?''
``Anyone you were close with,'' said Gloria. ``Most likely a relative or close friend. Also... I have one request.'' She slowly stood up from the table. ``Roscoe...''
``Hm?'' Roscoe looked up at her curiously.
``Roscoe, sweetie...'' She slowly approached him, standing behind his chair. ``I have something I need you to do for me.''
``Yes dear?'' Roscoe said with a grin.
``I need you to wear shoes.''
Roscoe let out an exasperated sigh. ``Seriously?''
``I know, it's a terrible thing I'm asking,'' said Gloria. ``But my aunt and uncle can be overly protective of me, and I don't want them thinking I'm friends with a vagabond.''
Roscoe started to object, but stopped suddenly, looking for a moment like he had been punched in the stomach. ``Uh... yeah, sure, whatever.'' His face quickly twisted into an awkward smile.
``Thank you, sweetie,'' Gloria gave him a quick kiss on his cheek before heading back to her chair.
``Just so we're clear,'' said Jake, ``Can it be anyone we were close with?''
``Yes, anyone,'' said Gloria.
A sly smile crept across Jake's face. ``Perfect.''
The night of the party, Zak and Kira had spent a bit of time browsing through old family photo albums. Jareth had insisted on joining them to Gloria's aunt's house, much to Zak's dismay, but he knew better than to argue.
``Have either of you been here before?'' Jareth asked as they walked toward the front door.
``No,'' said Kira. ``We've never been invited before.''
``I always assumed she didn't want us meeting her family,'' said Zak as he knocked on the door. It was only a few moments before the door swung open, revealing a large cow woman in a bright dress, with the fur on her face covered in makeup to make it appear like a gleaming skull.
``Uh... we're here for-`` Zak started to say.
``Gloria, !mas de tus amigos estan aqui!'' she turned over her shoulder and called out before stepping away from the door. Gloria appeared in her place, he normal multicolored blouse replaced with a frilly bright red one, and her face also covered in skull makeup.
``Guys! Come in!'' she said excitedly, leading them inside.
``Was that your aunt?'' asked Kira.
``Uh huh,'' Gloria nodded. ``I was helping tia make dinner.''
``What's the makeup for?'' Jareth asked.
``The skull is the symbol of the holiday!'' Gloria said excitedly. ``I can paint one on your faces if you like.''
``I'll pass,'' said Zak, looking around the house. It looked old and musty, but he noticed several skull shaped candles lit around the house. At the far end of the living room was a table, very extravagantly decorated, covered in photos and candles.
``Well, make yourselves comfortable,'' said Gloria, pointing to the living room, which was full of places to sit. They could see Roscoe already inside, sitting on the couch next to an older bull, probably Gloria's uncle. ``Tio, no estas haciendo que nuestro huesped se sienta incomodo, ?verdad?'' she called out.
``No...'' he muttered back, his attention clearly focused on the TV, which was showing a soccer game with Spanish announcers.
``Roscoe, I told you that you can take your shoes off,'' said Gloria.
``Uh, I'm fine...'' Roscoe said, his feet still clad in his ratty sneakers.
There was a knock at the door behind them. ``Ai, un momento,'' Gloria said before turning back to the door.
``Um... you have a lovely house, sir,'' said Jareth towards Gloria's uncle. He glanced over at him and nodded before turning back to the soccer game.
``Hey Roscoe, are you ok?'' said Kira.
``Huh?'' Roscoe glanced up at her, ``Yeah, why?''
``You seem kind of upset,'' she said.
``What? Nah...'' He smiled nervously.
It wasn't long before Gloria returned, flanked by Sammy and Jesse. ``I see you went heavy on the skull decorations,'' said Sammy.
``Sammy, you promised to behave,'' Gloria crossed her arms.
``And I am,'' said Sammy, glancing over at Jesse, who was giving him the usual puppy eyes. ``You have a very nice house...'' Sammy said with a sigh.
``Gloria! !Te necesito!'' her aunt called out from the kitchen.
``!Viniendo!'' she called back, but a knock at the door interrupted her. ``Oh man, !Un momento!'' She called back before heading to the door again. A moment later, a shriek rang out, sending everyone running, only to reveal Jake wearing a zombie mask.
``What are you doing with that!'' Gloria barked at him.
``What? It's a zombie party!'' Jake raised his arms triumphantly.
``It is NOT a zombie party, !idiota!'' Gloria yanked the mask of his face.
``Ow, geez, lighten up,'' said Jake. ``You said we were going to see some dead people.''
``I did not,'' said Gloria, throwing the mask back at him, which fell to the ground. ``Wait a second... why are you barefoot?''
Jake glanced down at his feet. ``Well, I was wearing those,'' he motioned to a pair of roller blades sitting next to the railing. ``Didn't think you'd want those in your house.''
``And you didn't bring your sandals?'' Gloria was sounding more and more worried. ``After I told Roscoe he had to wear shoes?''
``Yeah, you told Roscoe, not me,'' Jake said with a massive grin.
``Ai Dios mio... are you high?'' Gloria groaned.
``Are you not?'' Jake laughed, reaching under his hat and revealing a small plastic bag full of something green. ``If not, I brought enough for all of us.''
Gloria grabbed his hands, ``Put that away! Now!'' She forced the bag into his pocket before pushing him into the house.
``Gloria! ?Ya estan todos aqui?'' Gloria's aunt called from the kitchen.
``Uh... Si, tia...'' She was still holding Jake's arm. ``Please do not ruin this!''
Jake pulled his arm away as she left, shrugging nonchalantly. ``Sup guys?'' he turned to the others smiling.
``You better behave yourself,'' said Kira. ``This is important to her.''
``I've got this,'' said Jake as Gloria and her aunt returned from the kitchen.
``Ok guys, dinner will be ready in a bit,'' said Gloria. ``But since everyone's here, we might as well share your photos.''
They were led back to the living room. Gloria's aunt shut the TV off, forcing her uncle to join them. It was now they were able to get a look at the photos on the table. A lot of them looked really old, obviously photos of people long since passed away. One stood out in the middle. It was two younger looking bovines', and in between them was a small girl.
``Is that your parents?'' Zak asked.
``Yup, taken just a few months before they died,'' said Gloria with a smile.
``I didn't know your parents were dead,'' said Sammy.
``It's ok. Tonight, they're right here,'' said Gloria, a smile on her face. ``So, who wants to go first?''
Zak glanced over at Kira, who nodded at him. ``I guess we will,'' said Zak, taking a framed photo out of his jacket and handing it to Gloria.
The photo was of an older fox sitting in a recliner. ``Who's this?'' she asked.
``That's our grandfather, Edward Aryil.'' said Kira. ``He passed away about 5 years ago from a stroke.''
Gloria set the photo down and lit another skull candle next to it. ``Welcome, Bienvenidos, Edward Aryil.''
``I guess I'll go next,'' said Jareth, taking a photo out of his pocket and handing it to Gloria.
``Huh? This doesn't look like a relative,'' said Gloria.
``That's my old neighbor, David Sandin,'' said Jareth. ``he died of a heart attack a few months ago.''
``Your neighbor?'' Sammy said sarcastically.
``Yeah, what's wrong with that?'' said Jareth. ``I think he still deserves to be remembered.''
``You're absolutely right,'' said Gloria, ``Welcome, Bienvenidos, Davin Sandin.''
``I can't believe that's the best you could do,'' Sammy muttered.
``Alright Sam,'' Gloria turned to him, ``Let's see who you brought?''
``Are you kidding?'' said Sammy. ``I'm not participating in this.''
``Should've expected that,'' said Gloria. ``What about you Jesse?''
``Me?'' Jesse twitched nervously. ``Uh...''
``Did you bring anyone with you?'' asked Gloria.
``I did, but...'' Jesse's gaze lowered.
``Hey, it's ok,'' Sammy whispered into his ear.
Jesse nodded and reached into his hoodie, retrieving a photo. He held it out to Gloria, revealing a deer who looked similar to him, dressed up in a police officer's uniform.
``Oh? Who's this?'' asked Gloria.
``That's...'' Jesse shifted nervously. ``That's, um... my brother.''
Everyone was silent for a second.
``Wait, I met your brother, didn't I?'' said Zak.
``Y-yeah, but I have... had three brothers,'' said Jesse, his gaze fixed on the floor, his hand tightly gripping Sammy's. ``But my brother James, he... died 4 years ago in the line of duty...''
``It's ok Jess,'' said Gloria, placing the photo on the table. ``James is here tonight.''
Jesse tried to smile, but still couldn't look up.
``Alright Roscoe, your turn,'' said Gloria.
``Oh, uh...'' Roscoe looked around at everyone. ``I couldn't find anything.''
Everyone gave him a puzzled look. ``You mean you couldn't find any photos?'' Gloria asked.
``Uh, yeah, no,'' said Roscoe.
``Well, you could just share a name then,'' said Gloria.
``Oh...'' Roscoe's eyes darted nervously. ``Um... what can I say? We live long lives!''
``Alright, stand aside double R,'' said Jake, taking a photo from his pocket. ``I've got someone.''
Gloria took the photo, but her brow furrowed from one glance. ``What is this?''
``?Es un pez?'' her aunt glanced over at it.
``What's wrong with it?'' said Jake.
``This is a goldfish!'' Gloria held the photo out for everyone to see. The photo was of Jake, holding a small fish bowl with a tiny goldfish in it.
``Jake...'' Kira sighed.
``And you were worried about me ruining things?'' said Sammy.
``What? You said it could be anyone we were close with!'' said Jake. ``Well his name was Puddle, and I loved him for his entire two week life!''
Gloria was staring daggers at Jake, but one deep breath later, she calmly put the photo on the table, and lit another candle next to it. ``Puddle... welcome.''
Everyone was all too happy for dinner after the Puddle incident. Gloria's aunt had prepared a huge platter full of tamales.
``Are these vegetarian?'' asked Jesse.
``These one's have meat, these ones have cheese, and these one's have vegetables,'' said Gloria.
``Whatever it is, they smell crazy good,'' said Roscoe, instantly digging in.
Everyone else quickly followed suit, digging into the huge platter.
``Wow, this is amazing,'' said Zak in between bites.
``My compliments to the chef,'' said Jareth.
``Well, if everyone's enjoying the food, something we like to do on this day is share tales of our loved ones,'' said Gloria.
Everyone glanced around at each other, nobody seeming to want to talk first.
``Jesse, why don't you tell us about your brother,'' said Gloria.
``What?'' Jesse almost jumped out of his seat, a chunk of tamale falling onto his hoodie. ``Um... what am I supposed to say?''
``Anything,'' said Gloria. ``What kind of person he was, what he liked, anything really.''
``I've got stories to share,'' Jake piped up.
``Uh, Jake?'' Zak quickly interjected. ``Maybe don't share stories about your fish?''
``This is a tale...'' Jake bellowed out, ``about a small fish with big dreams.''
``Oh! I know a funny story about our grandfather!'' said Kira.
``He lived in a tiny bowl,'' Jake continued, still shoveling a tamale into his mouth, ``On top of my dresser drawer.''
``Uh... hey! I could tell you about someone I knew who might be dead!'' Roscoe piped up.
``He lived a simple life,'' Jake continued, ``but boy, did he love to swim.''
``Y'know, every Christmas,'' Jareth started trying to talk over Jake. ``David would-``
``Back and forth!'' Jake was now shouting. ``But sometimes, up and down!''
Everyone was just staring at Jake, mesmerized that he was still going. Gloria's aunt and uncle were just staring confused, only half understanding what he was saying. Gloria on the other hand looked like her head was about to explode.
``Gloria!'' Kira tried to cut Jake off again, ``You could tell us about your parents!''
``Hey! I was just getting to the good part!'' said Jake.
``Jake! Stop it!'' Kira hissed at him.
``One time, he made a face-``
That was the last straw. Gloria bolted up from her seat, marched to the other side of the table, grabbed Jake by the ears, and started to drag him away. Her aunt quickly started shouting in Spanish as everyone jumped up to chase her down.
Out the back door and into the yard, Gloria pushed Jake onto the grass, sending him tumbling. ``Ow! Hey, what's your problem?'' Jake said as he staggered to his feet.
``My problem?'' Gloria shouted. ``You showed up all drugged out and making a mockery of this night!''
``Well excuse me!'' said Jake. ``This night has been a total downer with dead parents, dead brothers, dead neighbors, everybody's dead! All I wanted was to lighten the mood!''
``That's not how this works!'' Gloria shouted back at him. ``This is a special night where our deceased loved ones can rejoin us.''
``Are you kidding me?'' Jake laughed. ``That's not real! Dead people don't come back to life! Don't tell me you buy this bullshit!''
Everyone watched silently from the doorway, waiting to see what would happen. Gloria remained silent as she balled her fist as tight as she could, before swinging right as Jake's face, knocking him to the ground in one shot. In an instant, she was on top of him, raining blows down on him and cursing in Spanish. Her friends quickly ran to try and separate them as her aunt and uncle shouted in Spanish, trying to bring some sort of order.
They managed to grab Gloria's shoulders to prevent her from striking Jake, who had curled into the fetal position, but she just started using her feet to kick him. She broke free for a moment, one of her sandals flying off. She grabbed it and started smacking him with it, a sickening thwack sound ringing out with each blow.
Finally, they managed to pull her off him. She stood there for a moment as they let her go, short of breath as she looked at each of them, before turning and running towards a large tree in the yard. A treehouse was built at the top, which Gloria disappeared inside after scaling a ladder. Her aunt ran to the base of the ladder and started calling after her, while everyone else turned to Jake.
There was blood pouring from his nose and lip, and his right eye was quickly swelling up. His tank top had been torn, and there were imprints from Gloria's sandal all over his back and some on his face.
``Are you ok?'' Roscoe knelt down to help Jake back into a sitting position. He could only respond with a muffled groan.
``Someone needs to go talk to her,'' Kira looked over at Zak.
``Is that gonna be me?'' Zak asked. ``I feel like she'll listen to you more than me.''
``No, she needs someone to calm her down,'' said Kira. ``And she trusts you.''
Zak sighed. ``Alright, just make sure Jake doesn't die, or something.'' He turned toward the treehouse where Gloria's aunt was still shouting in Spanish, trying to get her to come down. ``Uh... excuse me,'' said Zak. ``Can I go talk to her.''
She looked down at him for a moment. ``You go,'' she finally said before walking away from the ladder.
``Well... ok then,'' said Zak as he started to ascend the ladder. At the top was a trap door he could push open. Peering inside, he could see Gloria sitting with her back to him at the other end, hugging her knees and sobbing silently.
``Um... hey,'' said Zak. ``You ok?'' She didn't respond. ``Y'know, you've got a mean right hook.'' That got her attention, but it only resulted in her flinging her remaining sandal at his head, which Zak managed to duck before it struck his face. ``And an expert shoe thrower.''
``Go away!'' Gloria shouted at him.
``Ok, c'mon Gloria,'' Zak pushed his way through the trap door. He was able to get a good look at the inside now, which was filled with tons of books, pillows, and beanbag chairs. ``Woah, what even is this?''
``It's where I come to be alone, pendejo!'' Gloria snapped at him.
``What does that mean?'' said Zak.
``It means get out!'' Gloria snapped, this time throwing a book at him, which struck him right in the chest. Zak fell to his knees with the wind knocked out of him.
``Triste... I mean, I'm sorry,'' said Gloria.
``It's fine...'' said coughed as he sat up, dragging himself next to her. ``Look, don't listen to Jake. He still thinks he can build an engine that runs on sugar.''
``That's not it!'' said Gloria. She turned to Zak, showing her skull makeup was all smudged. ``This night... it's supposed to be a happy event...''
``It is!'' said Zak. ``I've been enjoying myself. I mean, aside from the beating.''
``No, you don't understand,'' Gloria sobbed. ``I was only five years old... I barely knew them...''
``I-`` Zak started to say `I know how you feel' but quickly stopped himself. ``I didn't know...''
``I have pictures, and vague memories,'' Gloria sobbed. ``But they're still gone... Except this time of year, I can feel like they're here with me...''
Zak stayed silent. He was walking a fine line here. She had never opened up like this before. He tried to find something to say, but only one word came out. ``Hickory...''
``Huh?'' Gloria looked over at him.
``My grandfather smoked a pipe,'' said Zak. ``He had it in the photo I gave you. Whenever he visited, the whole house would smell like tobacco and hickory. And when we were sharing photos, I swear I could smell it again.''
Gloria paused for a moment, wiping a few tears from her eyes. ``What was he like?''
``He like to tell me and Kira stories,'' said Zak. ``Mostly about our dad when he was a kid. He made a lot of weird jokes I never got when I was a kid. Some of them I still don't get. And on our birthday, he said he knew someone who could mint custom coins, and always gave us one. I found out years later, he was just going to different machines that would smash pennies.''
Gloria laughed. ``That's cute.''
``Um... what were your parents like?'' Zak asked nervously, hoping he hadn't just opened another emotional wound.
``I'm not sure...'' said Gloria, resting her head on his shoulder. ``But... I'm glad I get to be with them.''