Ella in Bloom Excerpt

Ella in Bloom Excerpt

From Ella in Bloom

When I was in school, it seemed a big, somewhat daring deal to eat at Cisco's and watch all the Anglo politicians who came to press the flesh of their Spanish-speaking compadres. On a Saturday or Sunday morning, we'd crowd at a table in the back room, pigging out on huevos rancheros, hot biscuits, chorizo, tortillas, sweet pastries. It had seemed almost like going across the border in Laredo.

Today, I passed by the neighborhood regulars in the front room and headed into the packed back room, tables jammed so close together you could hear half a dozen conversations at once. Although the female waiters still balanced those immense platters of the same wonderful food, the crowd had changed. They all looked a lot like Red: pencil pushers with short hair. Techno prols in shorts and faded T-shirts, most of them male, most of them half my age, most of them non-Anglo, most of them with cell-phones. What feet I could see -- making my way through the crunch to where Red sat at a table for two on the side wall -- wore Birkenstocks, Tevas, tennies. Not a politician in sight, though the same owner I remembered from a quart of a century ago still worked the room, shaking every hand. ...

Most of the buzz concerned breaking news about Dell, Compaq, smaller companies I didn't know. We heard this one loud guy in a logo-tee on a cell phone, standing in the corner, his back to the room, say, "Can I give you a credit card? Huh? I forgot to pay for the tune-up." And proceed to rattle off his name and his Amex number for anyone in the room have written down. No one even looked around.

From Ella in Bloom, by Shelby Hearon, copyright © 2001 Shelby Hearon. Reprinted with permission of Alfred A. Knopf Inc.

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Ella in Bloom: A Novel, Shelby Hearon

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