The McKinley Review Magazine

El Viejito

By: Eduardo del Rio | Posted on: December 2018


The couch’s plastic cover roars with laughter

As the espresso’s sweet aroma fills the air.

The old man shuffles over the crusty linoleum.

The slapping of his is rubber sandals seemingly in rhythm to the cafetera’s2 gurgle.

Three spoonfuls of sugar. Oh, how he likes his sweets, he thinks.

Like caña, like the sugar cane fields of his youth, he thinks.

Yes, she was sweet, barely sixteen, but with eyes that said she knew of things.

Not all things sweet.


El Paredón3 she knew about and saw; yes saw.

The man with the boina4 and the star.

The blood she saw. She knew. Yes. and she knew she had to leave.

The trunk of his car. and the shots. and the gate. and the faces of fear.

Trying to leave. and Peru5. no not Peru. and yes. now  He had to leave.


Ah, how sweet was youth and courage, he thinks.

Like his coffee.  Yes, he likes it sweet, he thinks.


The steel-legged formica table merely yawns

As the old man bumps into it.


1The old man. An affectionate diminutive form

2Coffeee maker for espresso

3The firing squad

4A beret

5In 1980 when Fidel Castro sent a new wave of Cuban exiles to the United States many of them sought temporary refuge in the Peruvian embassy