Loud Latino music rocked just outside one end of the dimly lit cavernous room, a halloween carnival in progress. On the way in we passed multiple young ladies in big white dresses, and little trick or treaters plodding along the sidewalks. The lady at St. Rita’s thrift store had sent us here to find a baptismal gift for our sweet little niece, Eva.
Empty but for a large woman sitting behind the counter, a fleece blanket over her lap, thermos in hand. A small, apricot-colored, elderly poodle slept at her feet, wearing a little doggie coat and tangled in his own blankie. Her eyes were shut tight, and she didn’t move when the heavy wooden door closed behind us.
Rosaries and colorful crucifixes, Mary everywhere, bracelets, necklaces, and pendants, prayer cards and little books, statues and wall hangings. Marty went outside to call his Mom for suggestions. My travels brought me nearer the lady behind the counter.
Her eyes were open now and she asked where we were from. I told her and she began to speak. She spoke of Doris Day and Demi Moore and Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Anniston, and of how marriage is good for business. She told me she gets all her info from People magazine and The National Enquirer, the only true sources. She said “fucked” referring to one of these people who had done this with lots of others. She told me she sings in this church and without missing a beat she broke into “Que Sera, Sera”. Every verse sung with her eyes on me. I prayed for Marty to return. She was in the middle of “I Will Always Love You” when he finally reappeared. He pretended not to know me as he looked at some little ceramic crosses. One more song was sung before we paid for our trinkets. She held my hand and pressed into it one small token of this mission, and then another for Marty. On the way home I kept breaking into the chorus of “Que sera, sera”, causing Marty to suggest I take singing lessons from my new friend. Whatever will be, will be.