Paolo's Pinchos

Submitted into Contest #228 in response to: Start or end your story in a bustling street food market.... view prompt


Crime Latinx Horror

This story contains sensitive content

Paolo’s Pinchos

Please Be Aware of Sensitive Themes: Physical assault, cannibalism, murder, suggestive language and themes.

A Pincho. A Puerto Rican street Kebab, tender, mouth-watering, barbecued meat on a stick. My abuelo was Paolo, the King of Pinchos in San Juan. He Made thousands of dollars a month, destroying the competition in the downtown market. Hundreds of orders a day, catering orders every Saturday. My abuelo quickly had hundreds of people a day coming for the most famous Pincho in San Juan. Life was good and safe to say; everyone knew his name. So, it turned the entire city on its head when he moved my Abuela and their newborn baby to a two-bedroom in Yonkers.

My father sold Spanish food to the community with my Abuelo for years. They worked harder than anyone I have ever known. They were great. They gave everything they had to support the family. My abuelo, mother, sister, and I watched my father and Abuelo work day in and day out to leave their footprint in this city. We had rough patches, as any family does, but what else can I say? We were happy. The day my sister and I heard we lost both our parents when they ran into a tree after hitting a patch of black ice, they took us with them. 

It's been a few years since our parents' deaths, and both my abuelo and abuela raised us as best as they could have, given the circumstances. My abuelo had to sell the restaurant to keep the house a few years after taking us in. A couple of years after that, we had to sell the house. By the time my abuelo and abuela passed away, we had a studio apartment in Hunts Point and a pincho cart parked on Southern Boulevard. 

There were always other carts on this stretch of Southern Boulevard, but none were as good as Chewie's. He always had a line come lunchtime; he was good. Word is, he's about to open a brick-and-mortar out towards Pelham Parkway. With him leaving, we need the title of the best cart on the block. This has been the worst few months since taking over the pincho cart. Three new carts on this side of Southern Boulevard mean fewer paying customers, which means less money. On this day precisely, we made $64. 

When we got home that night, we saw that first eviction notice on the door. We were mortified, broken, and, pretty soon, homeless. Our electricity has been cut off for two months already. We could've moved corners, changed up the recipe, or sold the cart to have a roof over our heads, but Paolo's Pincho Cart was the last bit of family we knew. We weren't going to sell it. We only had a short time to figure out what we would do. 

Three days had passed since we got the eviction notice, and we couldn't think of anything productive enough to bring the back rent. We joked around a lot about robbing a bank, but right now, that seems pretty damn believable. We knew we would never rob a bank and would get caught as soon as we walked in. We worked hard for the minimum we had. We couldn't imagine being criminals in the slightest. So, it took me by surprise when she tried to rob a prostitute.  

My sister saw her leave a car, knowing she probably had a few thousand in her purse. Probably just got done with a John in that car. Rent would be paid, electric paid, and food in the fridge. We would be okay. She thought the girl was an easy target, but she fought back hard. She saw our faces, scratched us, blood everywhere. We were going to have cops at our door within the hour if we didn't kill her. So we grabbed a beer bottle.

We caved in her head with the glass bottle until it shattered everywhere. The girl was unconscious but still not dead. How was she not dead?! The horror continued as I watched my sister stab and stab and stab. So many times until the last breath escaped her lungs. My sister had just killed the prostitute.

We were only a couple blocks from the apartment, so we found a few things to hide the body and started walking. We walked through our horror movie, where we were the monsters. 

This is where my memory gets pretty hazy. There was a lot of yelling and a lot of shushing. What the fuck were we about to do? There is a dead body in our studio apartment! In the fucking middle of our studio apartment! What the fuck did we do? What do we do? I was sure the NYPD was going to show up any second. Someone had to see us. There were cameras, a good Samaritan, a witness,  Something! Right? No. No one showed.  

I woke to a scene out of a B-rated with fake limbs everywhere, ketchup sprayed against the wall and a filet of fake "human" meat on a frying pan. Strolling into the kitchen quickly turned this B-rate movie into a very real crime scene: MY SISTER IS COOKING A HUMAN! The face of the dead prostitute is in a bowl full of ice. A filet of thigh meat in a frying pan. HUMAN thigh meat. My sister plated a fucking human being. She insisted I have something in my stomach. I watched her take a few bites. My stomach couldn't hold the sight. I left.  

Rounding the corner, I saw the exact spot where my sister and I beat and kidnapped a prostitute. There's nothing. No cops. No crime scene tape. Fucking nothing. How did we get away with this? How is my sister this fucking gone? She even told me it could be the recipe that saves our abuelo's legacy. She's lost it. Right? When I got back in the door, I was ready to talk, and so was she.

She placed a plate of seemingly ordinary food and insisted I try it with an open mind. So I did. I took a big, exaggerated bite, and much to my surprise, it was the best recipe she'd ever come up with; it could even save us. Fucking HUMAN meat! Could save us. After I ensured my sister knew she had made the best final meal of her life, she laughed at the comment eerily. My sister told me she wasn't worried about getting rid of the body anymore. She conveniently had a "friend" she met when buying meat for the cart who was into shady stuff. Apparently, this shady stuff included drugs, illegal gambling, and of course, the disposal and distribution of human remains.

She called the "friend," and within the hour, this beautiful, thin, curly-headed brunette knocked on our door and confirmed the body was, in fact, dead and less than a week old. When I asked this "friend" why it matters how long she was dead, she told me, "The protein is the freshest closest to death." She pulled out $500 and handed it to us. "You're going to keep this," she said. I was puzzled and too afraid to say no. "You need to leave. Go to a hotel for the night and return in the morning. You'll get a box of meat every week for eight weeks. Get rid of it; make it dog food; I do not care. Don't call me again unless you need me. From this point on, I have always been your meat distributor. Goodbye." no questions asked, we left. 

My sister told me all of her intentions. She wanted to feed our community the meat of a local prostitute. We were officially cannibals at this point. We have done things we could not come back from. We are already criminals, and the police could come for us at any moment. We might as well capitalize off of the recipe. She really had made something unique.

It has been eight months, and Paolo's Pincho Cart is booming. The local news has supported our new craze, "the Heart of Hunts Point" the loaded pincho. When they heard of our flavors, they knew they had to help support this underdog pincho cart, and they did. That support brought national success. We have become the go-to street food cart. With lines around the block, people screaming for more, and constantly sold-out days. It's crazy how fast life can change when you're at your lowest.

We had a studio apartment and a pincho cart. Now, three missing prostitutes, a permanent meat distributor, and a successful pincho cart later. We have made it. 

We are Paolo's Pinchos, where our pinchos are the heart of our community!

Franchises are coming to a location near you.

December 15, 2023 15:36

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