By Luis Negron
Pachi, despite the upset, had no choice but to go to his office. The chief executive had called everyone to a meeting. Not only those in charge of accounts or management like himself, but everyone who was on the payroll. “Every man and every woman,” read the email. The CEO himself opened the meeting saying, “Now listen carefully, this is a special day,” since in tune with the new times and for the benefit of the business, its collaborators, male and female, he had invited some young leaders from who knows where, who were coming to talk about homophobia in the workplace.
Pachi was horror-struck when he saw these specimens, as one couldn’t call them anything else. He had already seen them in the bar in their flip-flops and with their big baskets handing out condoms and leaflets for protests that nobody would attend. Here they were with their hair bleached, burnt from all the sun they got during those marches. Pachi had no choice but to repeat what was already his mantra: How ridiculous!
At the end of the presentation there were sixteen who came out of the closet, including Mundo, the janitor who said out loud for everyone to hear that he was a passive bisexual.
Everyone acted as if nothing special was happening. Nobody protested this absurd spectacle. But if there was something that he and his friend José A. were clear about, it was that faggotry wasn’t something one broadcasted from the rooftops. When he realized they were all looking at him, he withdrew without offering any excuse. He went into his office, picked up his attaché case and his gym bag, smoothed his hair, put on perfume, and almost ran out the door.
Now in his Land Rover he turned on the radio and on all the stations, even the religious ones, there was an appeal to put an end to homophobia. What’s more: Right at the center of Ponce de Leon they were putting up a billboard with the photo of a couple of lesbians with two little black girls which said: There’s no room for hate in the warmth of the home; let us live in diversity.
Pachi looked at it alarmed and saw a policeman in drag and not a single person seemed bothered. He saw a couple of young boys holding hands and nobody took the slightest notice. He was overcome by panic.
Pachi started crying when his cell phone rang, to his relief and consolation—how badly he needed it, after such a morning—after almost twelve hours without a phone call. It was José A. telling him to come to his house after work to get ready for the bar. Pachi, drowning in tears, could only murmur yes.
After going around the block six times, he managed to find a parking space, and pressed the intercom to request access from his friend. Trembling and sobbing, he told José A. what was happening in the world. José A. hadn’t noticed anything because he had spent the whole day giving himself a facial, a Swedish fruit mask. Following the directions for the facial, he hadn’t been able to get up, not even to vomit, although at one moment he thought that the fruit in the mask could make him fat.
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