ImageAn old man was on the point of death, lying in the back of the hot and dusty aluminum truck that doubled as his churro/ mani caliente kitchen, and his home.  He called his son over from the deep fryer.

“Take the churros from this sack,” he instructed.

“All twelve?” asked the son.

“All twelve.”

The son did as instructed and held the churros in one hand like a bundle of golden sticks.

“Now break them all in half at once,” the father said.

“But, …”

The father waved one crooked, scarred and beaten hand in dismissal.

Antonses,” said the son with a shrug.  He took the bundle between his hands and twisted and pulled.  The churros resisted for a moment, then broke apart in a soft explosion of sugar, crumbs and red guava paste that sprayed across the truck’s dirty black rubber mat floor beside the old man’s bed.

“Quite a mess, eh?” the dying father said with a chuckle that ended in a cough.

“Proving?” asked the son.

The father held up one bent finger.  “Go take one from the fryer and roll it in sugar and bring it.”

The son did as he was told and brought back a single churro, sparkling with fresh sugar and steaming with heat.

“Now break that one.”

The son twisted the churro lightly, breaking it cleanly with just a few morsels of sugar fallen to his fingertips and the guava paste oozing red from the pastry’s white dough center.

“Taste,” said the father.

“But I’ve had a thousand of these.”

“Taste this one, here, with me dying, right now.”

The son put the churro into his mouth and bit off and chewed the piece.

Delicioso, no?” asked the old man.

The son nodded, even taking another bite.

Remember, mi hijo,” said the old man with a wheeze. “Take life one moment at a time and it will be sweet.  Take too much in excess and it will always end in a mess.”

At that moment someone slapped a hand against the side of the truck from outside on the street.  “Viejo!” a voice called.  “Churros y cafecito.  Pronto!”

But the old man lay quietly without response. His son choked back a breath that would have become a cry had he not turned and replied “Si, churros. Me voy!”