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Caló: Torcido And In The Pinta

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Órale, today’s episode is about the words ‘torcido’ and ‘pinta.’ In modern Spanish, torcido means twisted and pinta means painted. In Caló, torcido means, accused, indicted, found out, or outed, and pinta means prison or jail. Torcido is always an adjective, as in ‘tainted.” And pinta is always a noun, a place certain.

By Oscar "El Marfa" Rodriguez

After a setback that delayed them a few hours, the crew was finally on the highway and making good time. Don Valentín had his Ford pickup doing all it do. He tried to stay close to the cars ahead of him to evade speeding tickets, but his truck just couldn’t keep up.

Yet it was a good pace. But Boy figured he would still be arriving close to noon in OJ. 

“See that one, primo?” Don Valentín asked the other two men in the cab.

“He was going a madres, fast. He passed us like we were standing still.”

Boy looked up at the two men Don Valentín called primo and noted they looked at each other but didn’t say anything.  

"We’re almost in Tarilas,”Don Valentín announced after a long pause.

Boy looked at the primos again and saw they gave each other despairing looks. 

Half an hour later, Don Valentín got into the off ramp. He was still going fast when he got onto the service road. At the first stop sign, he hit the brakes hard. 

“Aguila, watch out,” he said as he stretched out his arm to keep Boy from hitting the dashboard.

The primos caught themselves by pushing off the dashboard with their hands. The cargo in the back of the pickup slid forward and hit the cab with a thud. The Ford rocked briefly.

“Pos, now that we’re here. I might as well go see Lito,” Don Valentín said.

Boy looked up at the primos, who were expressionless.

They wound around a few blocks then came to a parking lot facing a walled structure lined by concertina wire. Don Valentín parked and got out.

“Won’t take long, just going in and out to say hello and leave some money,” he said.

Boy looked up again at the primos. 

“El Low Rider’s in there torcido for mota (marihuana),” said the primo farthest away from Boy. 

“So he’s going to the pinta later?” asked the primo closest to Boy.

“Simón, (sure is),” said the other.

“But not for mota. For a fight that left his girlfriend’s brother in bad shape. They busted him for mota cuz the vato wouldn’t talk.”

“Nambe (no way),” said the other primo. 

“Siról (yes),” said the first.

“That’s why he’s torcido and in the county bote (can). Since they can’t make him do time for assault, they’re making him do it until trial. He’ll do more time after that.

Both men noticed little Boy was looking at them. 

“We meant his son, El Low Rider, not Don Valentín,” the primo closest to Boy said.

After a long while, Don Valentín came out and got back into the truck.

“He’s fine,” he said. 

“He thinks he won’t go to the pinta.”

Boy looked up at the two primos. Both gazed away without turning their heads. Don Valentín scowled at them.

“Just torcido,” said Boy.

Don Valentín looked down at him. The primos winced.

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