Cat's notes: Rosa Perea - tape transcription
Alva's business partners built El Caracol in 46 after Alva burned Perea's Bar down. They took the design from some place near Chicago called Shell's. It was supposed to look like a pretty seashell, like one of those conch things, but it always looked like a snail to me. Service was slow too.*
It was popular. Made those guys rich. A lot of people worked there and it wasn't bad after the first manager died and Consuela took over. It only went bad when everything else in Pereaville did - when Consuela died and they built that damn freeway.**
*Obvs joke as Rosa worked there for years.
**Never heard a resident of Pereaville refer to it as anything but "that damn freeway."
But the place was got shabby. Dirty. Booths and carpet with duct-tape all over. The letters started going out or falling off so it became "El Caco " which means thief or coward. They never fixed it. Make of that what you will.
Johnny sat there for hours - for years. His two bodyguards sat next to the door and he sat on a custom stool in the center of the curved bar - right next to a giant pickle jar. Ugh. Makes me sick just remembering. He'd roll up his sleeve and stick his whole arm in there. I had to look away every time it was so awful - the way the junk at the bottom would get stirred up. Then he'd wipe his hand on one of my damn bar towels and say the vinegar was good for his arthritis and kept his diamond rings shiny. Every damn time.
No one but him ate those pickles and we never washed or moved the jar. Just kept refilling the pickles.
Note: Dreamed last night I saw him. He said, "Everyone has secrets," and wiggled a pickled finger at me. "What's yours?"