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Caló: Pajuelazo del diablo

Órale, the Caló word for this episode is pajuelazo. In Spanish vernacular, anything that ends with 'azo' means to be hit with it: Bullet, balazo. Bat, batazo. Bazooka, bazookazo. Paja (which means straw)?  Pajuelazo. Of course, nobody gets hit by a blade of straw, at least not in the world of Caló. In that world, pajuelazo is an onomatopoeia, a word that sounds like what’s being pointed out or described; namely, the sound of an impact of a bullet, bat, or something that’ll also make the two-syllable, echo-like sound of a pajue-lazo.

By Oscar "El Marfa" Rodriguez

As he was walking through the parking lot in front of the Sit ‘n Bull in Tarilas, Cuito heard a pajuelazo.

“Gun or stick?” he thought. 

Alarmed, he picked up a hand-sized rock with each hand and kept walking toward the car, looking in the direction the pajuelazo seemed to have come from. No movement. The moon was waning, but it still reflected enough light that the parking lot was visible to him. 

“Whatever it was, it won’t matter once I get to my car,” Cuito assured himself.

He looked ahead, and saw that the car was in sight, but several dozen steps away. Cuito hurried his gait.

When he finally reached it, Cuito stopped and stood motionless and silent, and looked in every direction.

A long while passed before he thought he might let go of the rocks he had picked up so he could reach for the keys in his pocket.

“Drop just one of the rocks and grab the keys and get in the car,” he told himself.

His hand went into his pocket even before the rock he was holding hit the ground. As he yanked it back out, everything in his stuffed pocket fell to the ground, including his keys.

“Hey! Somebody ate the good part and left only the rotten part,” a man’s voice said.

“Who’s that?” said Cuito, the hair on the back of his neck standing up.

“We’ve talked before. Remember?” the voice said.

Cuito looked around looking for the person behind the voice. Nothing. 

Then he remembered an encounter with a faceless voice many years ago, walking home late at night on the highway not far from where he stood now. At the time, he thought it was a friend or a relative toying with him. So he hurled threats and insults, inciting only laughter from the voice.

“This time, no threats,” said the voice.

“Pos, then let me see who you are,” said Cuito.

“If I do, you’ll owe me more than you already do,” said the voice.

“I don’t owe anybody anything, vato,” said Cuito.

“You do. But I’m busy tonight. We’ll talk another time. Right now, just go, so you’ll be out of the way,” said the voice.

Cuito quickly grabbed his keys and abandoned everything else that had fallen to the ground.

Nothing more from the voice. The countryside was quiet and otherwise serene. But then he started to hear a faint but growing sound beyond the horizon. Sirens.

“Better get out fast and go the other way,” Cuito told himself.