Looking to buy one singular cigarette? How about some boiled potato looking thing with wrinkly orange skin? What about a small package of stale strawberry cookies? Search no further, your answer has arrived.
He sits there every day in front of his house, slouched on a comfortable metal chair, the same button-down shirt always propped open to reveal a massive, sunburned scar dribbling down his chest. My friend Alejandro’s entrepreneurship is structured around buying various snacks and trinkets at a local grocery store, then selling them at his stand for a small and humble markup: things like chips, gum, razor blades.
His haunting eyes resemble those of his bird, a caged parrot whose battered feathers and chipped beak speak of years of wear and tear. Just like the parrot, Alejandro’s nails appear to have been sculpted into triangles shaped like tiny guitar picks and his face is always fashionably scrubby. His hair is greying and taught, like a tight little silver warrior helmet.
Having grown up fantasizing about the renegade lifestyle of things like scars and parrots and bootleg snacks, Alejandro makes my life look like one of unfinished business. For example, I have a small scar on my stomach from surgery as a baby, but it’s nearly disappeared by now. I always wanted a parrot as a pet, but instead, my mother restricted me to a cheesy CD she bought at Brookstone with, what the salesman referred to as “forest chirp-like sounds”. Point is, in comparison to Alejandro, my life has been one of half-completion. Like that of a B-list actor who never quite makes it to the top.
Alejandro goes to work whenever he wants and granted it’s not all that far, just outside his front door. His front door, to me, is like a door to unknown: this red worn-out portal leading to what, for all I know, might be another world. He first sets up his display, which is really no bigger than a folding card table, onto which he arranges his products in the best-selling fashion. He uses several buckets and props to keep the thing level, or else the apples and other round items would roll off. Sometimes he wears shoes, sometimes he doesn’t.
He’ll post various signs on the door above his display announcing lost dogs or clothes for sale; a sort of slapdash social bazaar which I always make sure to notice in passing. He knows just about everyone in the neighborhood and likes to call out whenever he has the chance:
“Hey Pablo, did you find that drill you were looking for?” It’s not as if things like these are central concerns, as much as a way for Alejandro to demonstrate his popularity in the community. “Elida!” I heard him once say. There was a long pause as the small woman across the street waited for some sort of follow-up. “Oh, I forgot what I was going to tell you, nevermind.”
He doesn’t come off as the friendliest cat, takes a while to warm up to, so don’t go trying to be all pleasant. He’s usually there from nine until about five in the evening at which point he returns inside his house, probably to play video games or something. His shop/house is located on Avenida Central in between Calle 3 and Calle 4, so swing by and give him a shout out.