The Hundredth Meridian

“¡Mi Casa es su Casa!”

Héctor woke on New Year’s morning with a reverberating headache that made his wife’s remonstrations (in the pinch, AveMaría had been appointed an emergency designated driver to take the party home safely the night before) the more painful to bear.  He felt thoroughly ashamed of himself—first for getting drunk, and second for . . . the other thing.

Héctor could not decide whether his plan had amounted to a success.  Had Jacinta Ruiz really got the message he’d intended to send her last evening?  Or had she been hoping to appeal to his jealous instincts in the arms of the dashing Rodolfo?  Perhaps even—the thought penetrated like a manzanita thorn—she had never felt anything for him, and, falling victim to his own vanity, he’d simply imagined it all and made a fool of himself for nothing.  He had no idea where to begin sorting the thing out, and a hangover was no aid in this endeavor.

In another part of the house, someone was practicing vocal scales—Contracepción beginning her warm-up for rehearsal again.  (Hadn’t the girl had all New Year’s Eve to practice while she babysat Dubya?)  Maybe the Juárezes would flee to Las Cruces for the rest of the day, in order to take advantage of the holiday sales.

Héctor’s New Year’s resolution had been to return home by the first...

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