Another C. Zampa excerpt—from work-in-progress *Honor C.*

I’d almost cornered the side of the house when I heard a door slam from the back patio. A second passed and it slammed again.

Shrugging, I continued toward my bike when I heard Honor roar, “Nestor!” A pause, then, “Cual es tu pinche pedo? (What’s your fucking problem?)”

What I did next was wrong, terribly wrong, and I knew it. I tiptoed in the direction of the voice until I could see the patio. There—in the lush backdrop of potted and hanging foliage—stood Honor and Nestor. Guilt, mingled with curiosity, stabbed me and sweat broke out on my forehead and the back of my neck. My heart drummed so hard I was afraid they would hear me.

Nestor leaned his thin frame on a vine-covered column and rolled his shoulders. “No hay bronca. (There’s no problem).”

Honor—his voice lowered now but still legible—spewed, “No hay bronca? Mamadas! (There’s no problem? Bullshit!)”

“Why are you getting so worked up, big guy?” Nestor snickered.

Honor broke into such a fast string of Spanish I couldn’t keep up.

By now, I was torn between walking away and overwhelming curiosity to hear what the hell they talked about.

Honor’s tone eventually shifted into a slower, easier gear, and patience—love?—replaced the frustration in his voice, “We’re going to have to talk about this, Nestor. Comprende?” He took a few steps closer to his brother. “Now.” Folding his arms over his chest, he tucked his chin. “What the fuck do you have against Raimundo Munoz?”

Me? They were arguing about ME? Goddamn. Bile rose to my throat. My legs refused to move.

Nestor’s face remained composed. He strolled to a wrought-iron patio set and sank into one of the chairs, his legs stretched out. Without meeting his brother’s stare, he reached to twirl his fingers in the curling vine of a nearby plant. “Nada, mi hermano. Nothing at all against him personally. You know what the fuck I’m pissed about.”
Honor sighed and rolled his eyes. “Not again. Not this again, Nestor.” Scrubbing his forehead with his palm, he groaned. “Goddamn.”

“Si, si, si! This again. Always this!” Fury reddened Nestor’s face and he sprang from the chair, closing the small space between Honor and himself. “And it will always be this as long as I breathe, Honor Castillo!”


In a smaller but still livid aftershock, Nestor wailed, “I mean, goddamn it, I’m a shareholder in this goddamn organization, and—”


“And I have no say-so over this fucking piece-of-shit crap you’re pulling?”

Honor’s tone, his narrowed eyes, challenged. “This crap I’m pulling? Go ahead.” Tossing back his head, he cast a pained smile on his brother. “Say it. I’ve heard it from you so many times already. Please, my brother. Say it again.”

“You know.” Nestor’s shoulders drooped and, glancing up to a set of wind chimes, he pushed his hands into his pockets.

Honor nodded. “Yes, I know. But I want you to say it. I want you to say it over and over until you can’t stand to hear it any more than I can.”

Falling back into the chair, Nestor covered his face with his hands. Through parted fingers, his muffled reply was barely audible. “I try, mi hermano. I try so fucking hard not to hate what you are.”

“You didn’t hate me before you knew. I’m the same man, Nestor.”

What the fuck? Their voices had grown softer, and I strained to hear. I’d worry later about guilt for eavesdropping. For now, though, I couldn’t walk away—especially after hearing my name in the conversation. I had to know what part I could have possibly played in this issue between the brothers.

Nestor’s hands lowered to press against his mouth. “But you’re bringing it into our business now, Honor. Dragging your queer shit out in public for the whole fucking city of San Antonio to see. Hell, for the whole country to see once you spread it to all the clubs.”

His queer shit?

“Nestor, I’m not spreading queer shit, as you call it, anywhere. I’ve only made a decision to….” Honor drew a heavy breath. “Come out.”

Holy fuck. Oh, holy fuck. He’s gay. He is. Why this made a difference to me, I didn’t know. It wasn’t as though his being homosexual was a magic wand being waved over him to make this powerful business man suddenly accessible for a nobody like me. But, goddamn, it did make me want him more, to know he preferred men.

Stretching out his arms, Nestor argued, “You’re bringing this fag club into our business, Honor! And now this…this…little fairy Raimundo Munoz, that little prissy girl.”

“I’m a…fag….Nestor.” Honor’s big body shook with a gentle and surprisingly patient chuckle. “This is ridiculous. It’s hopeless, hermano, to try to open your eyes. Dios, you’re—”

“No, you’re what’s hopeless, Honor. You are.” Pounding a slender hand to his chest, Nestor raised his voice. “And even though I’m a shareholder, I have absolutely no say-so in this shit. I’m being forced to sit by while you humiliate the family.”

“Nestor, everyone involved has agreed on everything I’ve proposed.” Honor sighed. “Not that I need approval. I own the goddamn business.” After pulling out a chair, its iron legs screeching on the concrete, he sat beside his brother. “And, hermano, Mama is all right about it all. She doesn’t hate me for what I am, she loves me. Do you really hate me so?”

A deep furrow formed across Nestor’s forehead and he wagged his head. “No. No. I don’t hate you. I do not hate you. But…I can’t stand this…thing…that you’ve become. I’m ashamed.”

Honor’s stare lingered, probing, on his brother. After a moment he spoke, his hand covering Nestor’s. “I wish I could change how you feel, my brother, but I can’t.” He bit his lip. “But one thing. One warning. No more talk about Raimundo. I won’t tolerate it.”

Nestor yanked his hand away. “But—”

“No. Enough. Whether he is gay or not is not my business or yours, nor our concern. And it has nothing to do with anything anyway. I won’t stand for any more of your pissy attitude toward him. Do you understand?”

No reply, just an icy stare.

Honor persisted, his tone grave, “Comprende?”


“Bueno.” Honor stood and returned the chair to its position at the table. “I’ve got to go. I have an appointment across town.”

Pushing away from his own chair, Nestor rose and straightened his pants.

The storm of emotion had subsided and the brothers retreated indoors, Honor’s muscular arm draped over his brother’s shoulders.

They surely figured I’d left long ago and I didn’t dare draw attention to the fact I was still there by starting the bike’s engine. I kicked the stand and pushed the Yamaha down the long drive to the curb. Once on the street, I revved the motor and started toward home.

Gliding down the highway—halfway between the splendor of my new employer’s lifestyle and my own grubby existence—I enjoyed the breeze cooling my forehead and rustling my hair.

Oddly, even considering the magnificent events of the day—as well as the not-so-pleasant aspects of Nestor’s chilliness—one thing shone through it all, climbed to the top of the mountain of wonder. One thing overrode all the other happenings, sparkled by its lone self in my happy gut and brought a huge smile to my face. Honor Castillo was gay.

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