backyard crowing


I Write the Death of Tania, My Hellish Ex-Roommate


Tap, tap.

Tania Romero narrowed her fierce brown eyes at a laptop screen as she discovered that her boyfriend had changed his MySpace marital status from "In A Relationship" to "Single." She laughed; he had probably found out about Ben...or Shamus, or Seth, or Marco--out of towners are the best for cheating. His change did not jolt her. She could find a date for tonight in an hour, and she had done it before.

"Taniaaa!" her mother screamed. "Taniaaaaaaaa!"

"What the fuck is wrong now?" she yelled back.

"Get down here."

Tania sauntered down the steps, pausing to look at the empty staircase walls. Her mother was in the living room, sprawled across the couch with a slew of empty margarita glasses. The alcohol had filled her nostrils as she arrived at the landing, and at once she wished she had crawled out the window at the sound of her mother's scream.

"What the fu--" she said, but her mother interrupted.

"You need to go pick your sister up at the airport. Now. Her plane gets here in two hours. Go, get out of my face," her mother demanded.

Tania glared at the woman like you would a person who kills your family. She climbed the stairs effortlessly and began a lengthy preparation. Her makeup, her hair, her outfit--all of her would be accentuated, perfected, accessorized. The party was in Harlingen, a few minutes away from the airport, and her sister Sophia would need to find somewhere to be this evening.

In an hour she felt even more invincible than usual and slipped out her window into the humid afternoon air and into her car.


"...we apologize for this inconvenience, and we will inform you when a new route arises," a flight attendant's voice announced through the speaker.

Sophia took the headphones from her ears, and her brow furrowed. "What did they say?" she asked a fellow passenger.

"The pilot said we're gonna circle the area for a while and try to land early and refuel," the woman responded politely. "There's a lightning storm we shouldn't try to cross."

"Oh," Sophia huffed, and put her headphones back on. She didn't have money for an airphone call and she had left her cell phone at home. But with the internet updates on her flight's progress, she guessed her mother would be at the airport.


Tania cranked up her American rap and slid on her huge, rhinestone-studded, Hilton-style sunglasses as she drove to the passenger pick up point. She parked her car, and a burly airport worker told her she needed to circle the area until she saw her passenger.

She rolled her eyes at him and rolled her car back into the line and out of sight, only to see him again the next round...and the next, and the next, and the next. Tania circled the airport a total of eight times, wasting an hour and a half's worth of time and gas. She was about to give up on her ninth approach when a steamy, scrumptious slice of French man meat strolled up to her window.

"Gabi! Gabi!" he yelled, grinning enthusiastically. "I so happy you here."

Tania's left eyebrow shot up as he peeked his head through the passenger window. "Uh...what?" she asked, her lips forming into a half smile. She turned down her music.

"You my seestair!" he explained. "You know, my ost seestair! Gabi? Gabi! Mais oui, c'est toi."

"I don't know what you're talking about," she repeated, but she was not driving away yet; he had sparked her curiosity. A host brother, she thought, would be a great deal more fun than a real sister. Quicker to pick up, too. She pulled down her glasses and looked him up and down.

He pulled out a worn photo of a young girl and she took it from him. "See, eez you," he told her, and his eyes now desperate began to droop.

"Oh right," she laughed, "That picture was from a long time ago. Of course, hop in."

"Op in?" he asked.

"Get in, put your bags down!" she motioned to him.

Once he had taken his seat next to her, she sped along the highway and started in on him.

"Your entrance into the United States should be celebrated. Your debut will be tonight, at my friend's party in Harlingen. You're going to be my date," she explained.

"Date?" he said breathlessly. "Okay!"

She smirked, and as she turned into her friend's neighborhood, his voice became lower, darker, and unnaturally fluent. She felt the cool metal circle of a gun pressed gently against the side of her neck. He whispered flawlessly:

"Hand over all your money. Get out of the car and watch me drive away. You will not tell anyone what happened here today, because I will find out."

She slowed the car and began to shake. A gun was one of the few methods which could tame Tania.

"Do we have an understanding?" he slithered.

She shook more violently as he increased his gun's pressure on her neck. "Y-y-y-yes," she managed to stutter. "S-s-sir."

Tania exited the car as calmly as she could and stood on the sidewalk of another stranger's home. She focused on breathing.

He winked at her and drove away.

She thought of Sophia, who could be stuck at the airport without a ride or money for a taxi cab. She thought of her mother, who might try to pick up Sophia drunk if called upon. She could not risk her mother's life by not finding her sister. A wide-eyed young mother in a mini van drove past her, tot in tow.

"Hey, hey wait," Tania screeched. "Hold it!"

The woman saw her hitchhiker's thumb and unlocked the doors. Tania eagerly sat down next to her.

"So, where are you off to?" the woman asked as her baby began to cry.

"The airport," she replied.

A familiar voice joined them from the back seat. "Didn't I just see you there?" it asked with a grin.

- friday, Dec. 28, 2007


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