by Erica David
Nobody’s ever really seen a chupacabra except maybe another chupacabra. Take this one for instance. He’s standing in the bathroom looking at himself in the mirror. It’s time to go to work and he pulls at his tie, pulls at the too-tight collar of his button down shirt that leaves little room for his chupacabra neck, which is either scaly or hairy depending on who you ask.
At work he sometimes has to loosen the tie and open the collar. It all depends on whether or not his talons find purchase—or are they paws?—whether they, the grasping appendages, actually grasp or just scrabble and skitter on the neck of the beast. Then he has to bend his head so that his beak—or muzzle?—can reach, and the collar often catches him up, draws him up short right in the act.
“Why do you even wear those shirts to work?” his wife asks. She’s the one who has to clean them. When she pulls them from the hamper, wrinkled, fragrant with sweat, with that curious cutaneous scent of sebum and dander, she’s the one who encounters the ruddy stains. They are dry now and the material is stiff, starched by ferrous animal proteins, by gamy plasma and crude tissue. The stains no longer bloom red and electric in the threads of the fabric, wet Rorschach splotches that seep rudely towards permanence. It’s the protein stains that are the worst to get out.
She’s always asking him when he’s going to give it up. “Chuy, it’s time to go straight,” she says. But he’s a chupacabra. He sucks the blood of goats, and sometimes chickens when the goats aren’t around. It’s what he does. It’s what she used to do before they moved out to the suburbs. And the kids, well, the kids won’t have to, will they? The damned spoiled kids can do whatever they like. They don’t even have to speak the old language. They can neigh—or maybe cluck?—the sulfurous slang of the new millennium. They don’t have to be parasites. They can flaunt their fangs and smile their lamprey-toothed smiles without the least intent to suck. Privilege will blind others to what they are.
It’s different for him, though. He needs the button down shirt and the cheap suit. He needs to make the sartorial gesture, because when he does, no one notices the razor sharp scales of his back as they cut an unnatural vent in the cotton blend shirt, no one notices the cloven hooves shrouded in loafers or the goat blood crusted in his whiskery goatee.
Because really nobody’s ever seen a chupacabra. They’ve seen diseased coyotes perhaps, starved wolves or mangy dingoes in a trick of the light, and that’s enough for them. They’re content to know that he is out there sucking the blood of their goats, hemming them in with their own guilt and fear. But they do not need to see him.