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Friday, September 01, 2006

“Jesús was a Punk Rocker” Excerpt

The summer night was unusually silent and dark when Jesús Guerra and his family crossed into Texas for the first time. Music could not be heard from any of the vehicles on the bridge; beggar ladies with their kids wrapped in sarapes around their bodies were absent; and the signs marking the divide between U.S. and México and forbidding certain types of fruit into the States could not be clearly read.

It had been a long trip for the Guerras. For the last twenty-four hours, they had been crammed into their tiny sedan along with blankets and pillows, two bags of sandwiches and fruit, and El Snoopy, a grey English terrier.

Mijo, ¡mira el río! said Doña Guerra.

Eso no puede ser el Río Bravo, said Don Guerra. Es demasiado chico.

Jesús and his older sister Miranda tried to catch a glimpse at the Rio Grande, but they couldn’t see anything through the back door’s dark-tinted window; the bridge’s chain-linked fence reflected the artificial lights from above, and the clouds covered any natural light from illuminating the river. El Snoopy stood up on his hind legs to look through the tinted window, but only saw his own reflection. A feeling of disappointment came over everyone in the car.

Jesús was twelve years old when he made his way over the river that summer night. He was tall, skinny, and brown. Because of his extraordinary height, he stood out when the short, fat Chicano border patrol agent asked everyone to get out of the car.

Entonces, sir, you and your family are moving to McAllen? the agent asked Don Guerra, who had decided that McAllen, Texas, not Puebla, México, was the place in which God wanted his family to work, live, and spread the gospel.

The agent popped the trunk and banged the sides of the car, listening for any strange muffling. He felt over the seat cushions and noticed a bible on top of the dashboard. He kept looking over at Jesús. He gazed at him from top to bottom. Miranda held El Snoopy in her arms, and he growled at the agent briefly. Jesús wore a white polo with dark blue jeans. His penny loafers were brown and worn out.

Son, you sure are tall for a Mexicanito, said the agent. What’s your date of birth?

Jesús felt humiliated and angry. His first night in gringolandia, and already, he was being treated like a criminal.

March 12, 1977, Jesús said sharply with a heavy accent.

Really? said the agent.

Yes, sir.


There was a long pause. Jesús got nervous, and the sweat on his forehead start to stream more than before. He glanced at his family, and then, at the short, fat agent.

My daughter’s birthday was March 12, 1977, said the agent.

Jesús kept his head down. He didn’t know what to say.

I'm in the process of printing my first collection of short stories. Please check this blog frequently to be notified of its release.


BladeRunner said...

It was your connection to Mute Math that led me to your blog, and then the title of this story caught my eye. It seemed promising. At first, I couldn't see where you were going with all of this, it seemed like their were so many different stories in one. At least, until the last sentence. That last sentence unified everything. Great job. *applauds*

Loretta S. said...

I enjoyed going down memory lane in reading this story. I was able to see it all in my mind as if I were there. I've printed it out and read it a few times now.

I can identify con Jesús in many ways. My only regret is that I wish I had been proud to be latina at his age instead of in my later years. Era más gringa que latina. Hopefully, that has changed.

Beautifully written, Roy.

Melanie said...

You are very gifted. :)

Jes said...

i enjoyed this.

it reminded me of a favorite song of mine. "Jesus, the mexican boy" by iron & wine.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

Nice. I've always enjoyed works that convey the connection between the creative and personal 'life' process(es).

If you haven't already, you should check out Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin--a great short story. Also, if you're into poetry, grab some Kevin Young .

Keep the Peace.

Vintage cab used on MM debut (two 15" Jensen speakers).