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Caló: What a gacho coco

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The feature today is the word coco. It means wound, bruise, or skin cut. It’s used either as baby talk — what a young child tells a parent, or as empathetic acknowledgement of a friend or relative’s hurt. Outsiders suffer wounds and bumps. Close friends and kin have cocos.

Boy could tell his brother, Flaco, was hiding something. But he wasn’t sure what it was. He had been laying low in his house, not coming out. Boy had stopped by a few times, but Flaco stayed inside and talked to him through the screen door. 

“Que onda, carnal?” Boy called out from his car. 

“Nada, just listening to the rolas, the songs on the radio,” said Flaco.

“You wanna cruise by the Frost Top and get some borga?” he asked, craving a hamburger.

“Nel, I’m just gonna hang here,” said Flaco.

Boy couldn’t see through the screen door, but he could tell Flaco wasn’t moving, just standing still leaning on the threshold. Boy thought it was very strange behavior.

“The razita are gonna watch the women’s softball game. They say it’s a grudge match between the Ranchito and Saint Anthony’s, cuz they stole La Becky from them. It’s gonna be good,” argued Boy. 

Flaco didn’t say anything. Boy thought Flaco wanted to go but was holding back.

“Órale, then help me with this extra six pack I bought thinking you were going to the game,” Boy said walking up to then throught the screen door.

Flaco hobbled back to let Boy pass.

“Qué pasó?” asked Boy.

“Nada,” said Flaco.

“Chale, you’re limping,” said Boy.

Flaco breathed in deeply and took a long time to answer.

“Pos, I fell in a hole. The one we made back in the day we were building a hideout. Remember over there behind what’s the liquour store now?” he said.

“Oh, sirol. Wow, it’s still there? Been years. We were just kids then,” said Boy.

“Pos si, it’s still there and still full of all those magazines and candles,” said Flaco.

“So how’d you fall in?” asked Boy.

“Pos I was walking home late and thought somebody was following me. So I ducked in the alley and slid through the secret gap in the fence and started walking through the empty lot. I knew the hideout was there, but then I heard a noise and turned around and stepped through the roof of the hideout and one leg went down and got stuck. So I pulled and pulled until I got it out. But I bruised my leg gacho,” explained Flaco.

“Let me see,” said Boy.

Flaco showed him his leg. 

“That’s a real bad coco,” said Boy.

“Simón,” said Flaco.

“You should do something about that. So was somebody following you?” asked Boy.

“Nel, just me thinking somebody was,” said Flaco.

“Or maybe the Llorona. No it’s better a coco like that than look into her eyes? But she’s on to you and now knows about the secret gap in the fence. Watchale!” said Boy smiling.

Flaco didn’t say anything. 

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.
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