His life was smooth and easy.
Manuel maintained the yards of more than 60 homes in South Miami. But it was the next 10 minutes that he lived for. Every other week he looked forward to the uncertainty of those 10 minutes. Like a snapshot, he turned those 10 minutes upside down and sideways. Would she answer when he rang the bell?
Manuel counted the bills on his dresser. Then he counted the change. The sun sliced through the curtains, glinting off quarters, dimes, nickels.
You want eggs, this morning, hijo? Or just coffee?
His aunt, his uncle, the five younger children scurried around the small kitchen. He shared a room with the older ones but still he felt squeezed. Like the oranges his aunt pressed for juice. Split and pitted with every drop sucked out.
By noon he had mowed two lawns. He pulled up in front of the house on Madura Avenue then listened to his truck belch and shimmy. By one he had trimmed the podocarpus hedge, replaced the impatiens, and pru…