Marvin Casey waits anxiously in front of St. Theresa’s Cathedral for his close friend and one-time co-driver Kenneth Taylor. Today, “Kenny” will be Marvin’s Best Man.
Members and friends of the bride’s family pass Marvin. Some offer disingenuous smiles, the rest ignore the tall African American man, but whisper their assessments of him in their native tongue proving to Marvin that he is correct in his assumptions, no one in Rita’s family approves of the marriage scheduled to take place today.
A taxi abruptly stops, the sound of the screeching rubber against the hot asphalt captures Marvin’s attention, and also it alerts the attendees conversing along the sidewalk. The small car double-parks near the first and second in a row of long classic limousines. The onlookers take a step back when they witness a black man, with long thick salt and pepper colored cornrows emerge wearing an unaltered black tuxedo, obviously rented, and more than likely the last one available. Marvin smiles seeing his old friend, “Thank God!” Marvin says to himself as he walks expediently to pay the cab driver.
“KENNY, HA! HA! Marvin says loudly, “WHAT’S UP DAWG!” The anxious groom laughs as he walks up to greet his old partner. Marvin doesn’t have many friends, actually, if he was asked, he would say he doesn’t have any, except for Kenny. They overcame their fair share of crazy episodes when they were teamed to roll “Dumb & Dumber” as their second phase of training back at Steven’s or “Stevenson’s, as Kenny would say. He made it a point to purposely mispronounce the company’s name. “Being from the south, per the Louisiana Cajun, he was allowed.
“MAN, I’M GLAD YOU MADE IT! Marvin’s tone and nod was an indication of his relief; he offers his hand and a manly heartfelt hug to his friend and savior. “I was starting to think you changed your mind and I would need to ask Rita’s brother to be my Best Man, and Man. humph, he exhales, “that dude hates me!” “I wouldn’t miss my homie’s big day!” Kenny says as he tries to make sense of his oversized suit. “I would have gotten here sooner, but there weren't no damn cabs at the fucking border crossing!” Kenny adds before he looks at the hoard of Hispanic people staring at the two black men as if they were freaks on display. Babies and small children also peered and gawked at them. Kenneth turns back and leans in toward the groom, “What the hell?” Kenny examines his jacket, “Is there some shit on me?” Marvin’s smile is slight; looking at the many disapproving faces Kenny realized the cast of family members wasn’t just looking at him. “Why are they looking at us like that?” Marvin could only nod, “It has been like this since last night.” “So, they don’t have Nigga’s on this side of the fence?” Kenny asks as he looks past Marvin at the crowd, his gaze was uneasy. “Negra’s,” Marvin annunciated for his southern friend. “Rita said it would probably be this way, and look around you,” he criticizes, “ain’t this some shit.” “Damn Man, are you sure you want to go through with this?” There was sarcasm in Kenneth’s voice, but Marvin knew he was serious. “I love Rita; I can’t let these people affect me, and I won’t let them stop us!” Marvin turns and looks behind him, everyone was scrutinizing the two black men. “But for-real, for-real…” the anxious groom confirms to his only friend, “I want to go inside and grab my baby, and get the hell out of here!”
“STOP THIS! STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!” Augustina Trejo screams as her Mama, Esmeralda, Papa, Pablo Junior, and Tio, the leader of the Trejo family, Antonio, combine to persuade her while her Godfather Eduardo Suarez and twin brother Bartolommeo watched and listens from the dressing room door.
“Chica?” Uncle Tony questions, “What kind of life can he offer you? He’s a truck driver... and a Negra,” he adds under his breath, “for Christ Sakes!” “Marvin is a good man!” Augustina defends, “He is an HONEST man! He tries to give me everything I need; he provides for me!” “What about your schooling Rita?” Pablo Junior asks. (Rita is Augustina’s nickname) “You demanded to go to school in America, and you meet him and quit? What will happen to your visa? It was not easy to obtain.” “I will go back!” the young bride assures. “Once we get settled, I promise!” Not if he has his way!” Tio Antonio scoffs. “He will have you knocked up and barefoot! Cooking chitterlings, fried chicken and eating watermelon. You’ll be making his big black ass sweet red fruit punch and chasing his bad ass little monkey babies.” Pablo smirks, the family’s racist negativity toward Marvin Casey makes the troubled bride cry. “Is that how you all feel?” she questions. Her three parents are silent.
Augustina frowns, “I told Marvin, it would be this way!” she opens, “I didn’t want to come here.” I said,” we should elope.” HE wanted this!” Marvin has no family! He doesn’t want that for me!” “Chica,” Uncle Tony interrupts, “NO TIO!” the bride interjects. “It is only because of Marvin that we are here!” “NO!” Pablo Junior interposed, “WE ARE PAYING FOR THIS! NOT HIM!” Pablo never elevates his voice, everyone in the room took notice, it caught his daughter most by surprise, but she will not back down. “Papa, we didn’t ask for this!” Rita corrects. “I wanted a small ceremony with immediate family only! THIS...” she waves around her, “THIS... THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED! TO HAVE A PARADE, TO SHOW THE FAMILY THAT YOU AND TIO, “THE LION” HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL! AND YOU KNOW WHAT?” Rita’s eye’s narrow as she steps into the face of her father. “I WANT NO PART OF IT!” Augustina begins removing the curlers from her brown hair. “I’M GOING OUTSIDE TO GET MY “NEGRA MAN,” AND WE ARE GOING BACK TO OUR “NEGRA HOME!” The infuriated young Trejo turns to her uncle, “TIO, I LOVE FRIED CHICKEN AND WATERMELON! MAMA ALWAYS MADE OUR KOOL-AID SWEET! BARTOLI AND I ONLY WANTED IT IF IT HAD A TON OF SUGAR IN IT!” AND IF MY “NEGRA HUSBAND” AND OUR “NEGRA MONKEY BABIES” WANT THEIR KOOL-AID THAT WAY, THAT’S THE WAY I WILL MAKE IT FOR THEM! BUT DON’T YOU WORRY YOURSELVES ABOUT THAT!” she sneers looking back at her mother and father before she takes her right foot to fish her tennis shoes from under a chair. Her parents and uncle watch as she steps into her sneakers in preparation to leave. “BECAUSE NONE OF YOU PREJUDICE, HATEFUL NEANDERTHALS WILL EVER SEE THEM!” Augustina picks up her gown and begins her march toward the door, “I am sorry Godfather, she stops to speak to Eddie and managed the sibling smirk she shares with her little brother of thirty-seven minutes. Marvin, Kenny Taylor, and everyone within a block’s radius of the church could hear the argument. “Damn Man!” Kenny Taylor says in awe. “Rita gets strong like that!” “Yeah!” Marvin Casey admits with a nervous chuckle, “She will rip you a new one if you piss her off!”
“TIO! PAPA!” Esmeralda cries. “I WILL NOT LOSE MY ONLY DAUGHTER BECAUSE OF YOUR FOOLISHNESS!” She returns to her daughter and tries to offer a soothing smile. “Baby, we only have your interests at heart. The announcement of your engagement was so sudden! Surely you can understand our reservations. There is so much more time for you, can’t you wait?” Augustina looks coldly at her mother. “Wait? Mama... For what?” the young Latina questions. “For “Tio The Lion” to find for me the Mexican Suitor of his choosing?” “NOW SEE HERE!” Antonio shouts, “NO TIO!” Rita returns to her mother, “Mama, you only have your interest at heart.”
“Papa,” Rita reminds, “Marvin kept with our tradition, he came to you for permission to take me as his wife, and you said yes! Why the change now?” Pablo looked at his little brother for help. Antonio was cunning, influential and well versed. “Chica, he smiles, “This was just a test! I needed to know how serious you were about all of this! Marriage is until “death do us part!” We needed to be certain you understood that.” Uncle Antonio walks to his and takes her hand. “Let me be the one to apologize to you. This was all my doing!” Your Mama has waited for this day since you were a baby, let’s not deny her dream to see you marry.”
Marvin Casey stands at the pulpit next to Bishop Hernandez and his best man Kenny Taylor. He looks at the attendees sitting in the pew for a happy face; there were none. Augustina is the first in the family to wed someone who wasn’t Hispanic; her actions are considered insulting. Still, the entire family and their friends are here for support. “You know, it’s not too late to bolt!” Kenny jokes, but to Marvin, it was not a joke at all. “With a chair, I could keep them back while you make a run for it.” Marvin leans into his Best Man, “You realize they’re all strapped.” Kenny’s eye’s bulge, the sight brings a grin and snickering to the groom’s face. The two African American men laugh nervously as they watch the room of hostile Mexicans. The Trejo Family was world-renowned, but not for any positive reasons. Well, not since Antonio “The Lion” Trejo, wore a Middleweight Boxing Champion’s belt.
The Trejo’s, to the world, was an organized cartel family. “Drugs, guns, and everything in between.” “A room filled with gangsters, drug lords, and killers!” Marvin thought to himself, “God, what am I getting myself into?” “On second thought...” Kenny added, “You are younger than me and built like a fucking Sherman Tank! How about you cover me and I’ll make a run for it!”
Augustina steps from behind the bathroom door in her wedding dress, Esmeralda begins to cry. Seeing the bride warms Pablo’s heart, Rita looks at her uncle for approval. “You look amazing Chica!” Tony says with a hug. “Gracias Tio!” Rita smiles. “We must hurry, there’s not much time!” Esmeralda works to complete Augustina’s hair while the young bride adds the final touches to her makeup. “Pablo turns to his brother, “We cannot allow this!” he whispers. “I know mi hermano, but what can we do?” Tony replies still looking for a solution.
Upon completion of Augustina’s hair and makeup, she and her mother look at the bride’s image in the body length mirror. “Bonita Daughter!” the proud mother places a kiss on Rita’s cheek, bringing a smile to both of the women. “You look wonderful!” Antonio and Pablo admire the beautiful bride. Esmeralda returns to the mirror; there was a glow surrounding their reflections, Rita looks at the image of her happy Mama, watching as the smile slowly drops. Augustina observes as her mother’s face suddenly goes pale, Esmeralda’s eyes shift quickly in all directions as if she was watching an action film or a live event before they slow, center and widen. “NO!” Esmeralda shouts as she falls backward in horror from the vision. “PAPA! TIO!” Rita panics needing assistance to prevent her corpulent mother from hitting the floor. The two men hurry to catch the meaty arms of the woman who appears to be in shock. Pablo looks on as tears stream from the eyes of his wife; she was shaken. Esmeralda struggled to catch her breath; it’s as if she saw a ghost. She slowly turns away from the reflection to look at her daughter and then her brother-in-law. “Que Pasa, Mama?” Augustina questions as she looks into the eyes of her quivering Madre. “Tony, take her!” Pablo Junior orders, “I will tend to Esmeralda!” “No! Mama!” Rita yells as she pulls away from her uncle to return to her mother. “It’s okay... Baby...” the mother sighs. Pablo looks into his wife’s eyes; he has seen that look before. “Mama?” the concerned husband questions. “Lo... Lo Siento... Papa (I’m sorry), I didn’t mean to frighten you, I’m... I’m fine.” Pablo helps his wife to a chair, “It’s just the excitement.”
Marvin stands, praying silently as he continues to watch the people in front of him. The musicians begin to tune up, the vast hall goes silent, and the quintet began to play. Marvin watches as everyone stands and turns to face the entrance. A breathtaking Augustina Trejo stood in a flowing white Bob Mackie™ wedding gown with her uncle, Marvin smiled and looked at his Best Man and gave him a nod. Rita beamed with happiness as she looked at her future husband. She and her Tio waited for the conductor’s signal.
“Chica,” Uncle Tony explains, “This is your family!” he points to the room. “Look at them, look at their faces. They all love you and want to see you happy! Marvin is a good man, but never forget that we are all here for you! Okay?” He looks at his niece with glassy eyes. “Si!” Rita nods positively. The Lion looks at the pulpit, “I believe a young man is waiting down there for you!” The Conductor gives his cue, and the uncle and his niece take each other’s arms and begin their walk toward her future.
“Mama, the music has started, we must go!” Pablo Junior begins to stand, but Esmeralda pulls him back to her. “No Papa!” the intuitive clairvoyant replies, not saying anything more. “It’s been twenty years since she’s had a vision,” Pablo thinks to himself, “the children were small when she foresaw the abduction.” Whatever it was, it has frightened Esmeralda beyond words. The family has always stood together historically, Pablo said to himself. “We have toppled rival families and cartels; the middle hemisphere is ours! Nothing happens without Tony’s knowledge. “Mama,” Pablo assures, “the family is strong and protected, like a suit of armor. We will be fine; we have nothing to fear!” But Esmeralda has again seen the devastation. The Trejo Armor has a chink, and it will be exposed. Pain and loss are lurking somewhere on the horizon, and it is waiting. Fearing the punishment if wrath is altered, and not knowing how to explain or where to begin Esmeralda can only fearfully look at her husband. Pablo Junior waits for her response, but his wife says nothing.