Las Cucarachas: A Story for Performance

by Florinda Flores-Brown

Las Cucarachas: A Story for Performance

by Florinda Flores-Brown

Denise was 7 and I was 8 when we met in the rain-soaked street outside my house. She was standing ankle-deep in a puddle of mud in a white frilly dress, white tights, and white patent leather shoes–all of which were filthy.

It was only my second day living in Cholula, Puebla, and I was still disoriented from the 1000-mile move from south Texas to central Mexico. All so my dad could take a year off to write. My disorientation vanished, however, when I saw Denise’s muddy tights and shoes because I knew she was my new best friend.

With our shared love of mischief and dogged need to understand the strange world of adults, Denise and I were soon inseparable and plotting devious schemes to steal junk food and loose change from our siblings. We called ourselves Las Cucarachas Myum-Myum, and if you left a bag of Sabritas, a bottle of Sidral, or a handful of pesos unattended, we’d snap it up before you knew what hit you. These low-stakes travesuras kept us busy for a few months, but soon we were wanting a bigger challenge.

Enter: my 14-year-old brother with a salacious piece of gossip.

“They were having sex!” He said about the young, childless married couple living on the next block one street over, “Right by the big front window of their house. I mean they were behind some see-through curtains, but they had to know everyone could see them!”

Denise and I locked eyes.


That was the ultimate strange thing adults did, and my friend’s face said she was as determined as I was to find out what kind of demonic perverts would do such a thing in front of the eyes of sweet, innocent children.

Next day, reconnaissance was the first order of business. Denise and I set up a play taco stand across the street from the offending sex house, and as we pretended to make tacos out of leaves and seeds, we watched and waited.

Then it happened.

The front door opened and out came an average looking young Mexican professional with a suit and briefcase. As he placed his things into his brown Volkswagen beetle, his wife emerged in business casual and bare feet. She was attractive but not beautiful or overtly sexy, but there was something about her. Maybe it was the straightness of her posture coupled with the smooth sway of her shoulders and hips as she walked, but something about the way she padded down the walkway to her husband and wrapped her arms around his neck said this woman OWNS her body. 100%.

Then they kissed.

I’ve seen a lot of kisses, but this one still stands out for its unabashed carnality. It wasn’t sloppy or super tonguey. It was soft, wet, and from what I could see, subtly penetrative.

I flushed at the sight but couldn’t look away. Not until the man’s beetle disappeared around the corner at the end of the street, and Denise nudged me, pointed, and said, “Mira.”

I looked up at the flat roof of the couple’s two-story house where their clothesline stood. Flapping in the morning breeze like restless crows on a wire was a symbol of the carnality we’d just witnessed: several lacy black bras and panties pinned to the clothesline. Those bras were NOT the white and beige utilitarian Playtex sitting in our mothers’ drawers.

That’s when I looked at Denise and said, “Lo necesitamos.”

We didn’t know WHY we needed this woman’s bra, we just knew we did, and from that moment, Denise and I obsessed over how to execute the perfect bra heist. We watched our intended targets for a full work week, noted their schedules, and brainstormed ways to reach the clothesline on the roof.

A bit about the house: it was a rectangular two-story house from the 70s, and the back of it had a 7-foot wall, a landing, another wall, another landing, and a narrow, wrought iron spiral staircase that led to the clothesline on the roof.

After much debate, we realized getting to the clothesline would be impossible without a third person, so with zero options, we recruited Denise’s nemesis: her 10-year-old, goody-two-shoes sister, Paola, whom we’d tormented with our endless pranks. I don’t know how Denise got her to help us, but an epic threat or bribe was surely involved.

So this was the plan: Paola would use mine and Denise’s bent backs as steps to hoist herself up to the first level; then, she’d grab my arms and pull while Denise pushed me up from below; then Paola and I would grab Denise’s arms and pull her up. That was the plan for levels 1 and 2. For level 3, we’d go up the staircase to the roof and snatch a bra.

The big day arrived, and as soon as we circled up for a final meeting, Paola acted like a complete soflamera, whining about getting caught, being arrested, or falling off the roof to her death. But Denise wasn’t having it, so she took her to another room and likely invoked the threat or bribe because the girl shut up.

With Paola back in the game, we set up our play taco stand in front of the couple’s house and waited for them to leave for work. Once they did, we kicked into high gear, jumped over their 3-foot tall fence, and sprinted up the side yard into the back where we quickly got up to the first landing.

Things took a turn when we hit the second level. After Paola and Denise got me up to the second landing, I turned to pull Denise up, but instead of following the plan, Paola climbed up the spiral staircase, took one step onto the roof, and proceeded to have a complete meltdown. She twisted and shrieked as if she’d just summited Mount Everest in a tornado.

“¡Ay, el viento! ¡Me voy a caer!”

Denise and I yelled for her to grab the bra, but Paola slumped onto the stairs and cried, “¡No puedo! ¡Tengo miedo!”

With Paola blocking my way up to the roof and our plan unraveling with every passing second, I scanned the building for a solution. That’s when I saw an open window and peeked in. The couple’s bedroom! Deciding if I couldn’t have the bra, I’d take something bigger, I shoved my head and torso in through the narrow window, and right when I realized I was stuck, Paola screamed, “¡El señor! ¡Hay viene su carro!”

Before I could respond, Paola flew down the spiral staircase sans bra and leapt down each level like some parkour-practicing guerquita until she landed in the backyard with Denise following right behind. They ran off with zero thought of me as I pried myself from the window, scrambled down the walls, and sprinted all the way home too terrified to look back.

So were we caught?


Did the car Paola saw coming down the street belong to the man?


Did Paola purposefully sabotage our bra heist?

I’m not sure, but if she did, Las Cucarachas couldn’t argue with the fact that after all the pranks we’d pulled on Paola, we deserved it.

As for what Denise and I intended to DO with the bra, it was never discussed. For me, it wasn’t about wearing the bra, it was about contemplating it. I wanted to study the delicate lace pattern, the satiny straps, and the roundness of the cups. I was almost 9, and my body was changing. Little buds had sprouted on my chest, and my body felt foreign. I wanted that bra because it belonged to a woman who not only owned her body but celebrated it. Having her bra would’ve allowed me to believe that one day, I could be that kind of woman, too.

Florinda Flores-Brown is a San Antonio-based performer, writer, and storyteller whose artistry and aesthetic was forged in the dust and 110+ heat of her hometown of Laredo, TX. She has performed at various venues across San Antonio and Austin, and on most days, you can find her at Gemini Ink, San Antonio’s writing arts center, working hard to empower writers of all ages to bring their own stories to life.