Our landlord’s name was Mojona, and she used to babysit us when Mami went out to her second job. Mojona lived on the floor below us, and if I ran around too fast or jumped too hard or laughed too loud, she would bang on the radiator with a spoon, and Mami would yell, “See what you did? Behave!”
Getting Mami mad was one thing. You would get hit with the belt or her slipper. But if you got the landlord mad, you didn’t know what she would do.
She was shorter than Mami, and wore little glasses. Her face was like a raisin, and she had a voice like a man’s.
When Mami went to her second job, we would go to her the Mojona’s apartment and wait for Mami to come home. The ceilings were very tall, and there was a picture of a pretty Spanish lady on the wall, and Mojona said that that was her. In the parlor, she had a wardrobe and the top of the lace on top of the wardrobe were these little statues of Jesus and saints, and there were candles and crosses and old palm leaves from a hundred Palm Sundays.
Her apartment was always dark inside, and always quiet, and we always behaved there.
But outside, in the hallway and our own apartment upstairs, I would run up and down the stairs, and jump on the furniture, and laugh really loud. Until I heard the banging on the radiator.
“Edgar! See what you did? Behave!”
Sometimes, the landlord would appear in our apartment. You never heard her coming up the stairs or the door open. She would just be there, in the kitchen, in the seat under the phone. She and Mami would talk, and whenever she saw me should would point at me with her chin and say, “This one—this one has ants in his pants.”