Once upon a Christmas Eve in 1959 near Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where my husband and I were living, my parents, sisters, aunt and cousin came to spend the holidays with us. We had turned in for the night when there was a ruckus out on the road in front of our house. My husband and I were sleeping on a metal cot in the front room. The family were in other rooms. When they heard the noise, everyone came into our room and piled onto the iron cot, so we could watch the doings out front.
On the hill behind us lived an old broom maker. All day he made lovely brooms out of some of the grasses. If he sold some, he used the money for liquor and drank all night. He had a girlfriend who didn’t drink with him, and they often fought. This evening they were in front of our house. He was quite inebriated, waving a bottle around. His girlfriend didn’t like what he was saying and was angrily trying to calm him down. A crowd of about 20 of our neighbors plus goats and dogs were gathered around the broom maker and his girlfriend, watching the show. After giving up on reasoning with him, the broom maker’s girlfriend landed a left hook on his jaw.
As the broom maker went down, there was a huge crash. It sounded as if a bomb had fallen. Everyone screamed. The dogs yelped. The people and animals in the road scattered in all directions. The broom maker made a miraculous recovery and staggered off. My family landed on the floor.
The cot had collapsed with the weight of all of us. The loud crash was the metal cot–and all of us–hitting the ceramic tile floor.
The broom maker remained sober for several weeks.
Meyers is a Taos writer.