Yumi motioned to Ernesto to follow her outside once Abria was safely tucked into bed and offered him an ancient cellphone, a small amount of money, and what sounded like an order for him to proceed to the border without his little sister who didn’t have the strength to make it.
Ernesto knew she was right about Abria but, having every ounce of trust beaten out of him by now, decided to spark a conversation about Yumi’s relationship to Maria so he could be sure that his sister was in good hands.
Theirs was a similar journey 40 years before when Maria was forced to leave her best friend Yumi behind in this little village deathly ill and unable to continue to the sanctuary of the United States of America.
Satisfied of Yumi’s ability to care for Abria until he could send for her, Ernesto bid Yumi farewell with instructions conveyed to her by Aunt Maria for him to reach Mission Texas and set out to reconnect with Mig to complete the perilous trek. ******
George Navarro was just about to the end of his 20-hour border patrol shift in Mission Texas when he heard a terrified bloodcurdling squeal ahead of him and gave his horse a kick galloping toward the sound.
He spotted a real four-legged coyote yanking a lone small child by the hood of his jacket to the ground with four other pack members drawing a closing circle, so he lifted his rifle and neutralized one sending the rest scattering as George swiftly dismounted and swept the sobbing child into his arms.
He’d gotten away with a bald-faced lie and Jonathan knew that was a sin, but weren’t refusing to render aid to someone ‘in need’ or failing to keep a promise also sins?
It had been a fitfully long night as Jonathan continued struggling with his own conscience until the first morning light turned the two-man tent cover from black, to pea soup green, and he hadn’t slept a ‘wink’.
Duncan moaned and smacked his lips but wasn’t awake yet and Jonathan realized he preferred that to the 8 hours of tooth grinding that he had had to endure.
The two young men had become fast friends over the last 2 months at the papermill; The same mill where Jonathan had just ruined his perfect 5-year work record with a tape-recorded “call-out” message stating that he had a ‘family emergency’- all inspired by a most desperate call from Duncan who was insisting that he’d have to leave town “Right away!”.
Duncan had jumped into the car all wild-eyed and sweaty last evening claiming that the cops were after him for an armed robbery he hadn’t committed just because he was the only black man who lived nearby the mini-mart and from all the racism horror stories that Duncan had marinated Jonathan in, as well as, the recent eye-opening workplace ‘equity training’, Jonathan’s promise to protect his new friend from the growing scourge of racism that America was “built upon”, was now dramatically playing out.
Once Duncan got up and staggered away from the tent to relieve himself, Jonathan knew time was still ‘of the essence’ and set about breaking down their hastily built, remote, campsite- that’s when he discovered the bag of wadded-up cash and the handgun…
Tank Scrivens (aka Peter) was a ferocious bully throughout his school years but only came to terms with the human destruction he’d left in his wake when he became a dad, at age 29, to a frail, slightly built, son.
Tank was already six-feet tall, sported ‘fullback’ shoulders, and had a burgeoning five o’clock shadow when he was in 6th grade, and he wielded those attributes in a reign of terror from there on.
Once Peter recognized that his son may one day be ‘fodder’ for bullying with such a puny stature and a clear gentler nature, he regretted every swirly, wedgie, and cruel insult, he had imposed on his victims and felt terrible guilt about what the long-term effects may have been because he dearly loved his son and felt weak contemplating any of those things happening to him.
Peter Scrivens decided that he must make his past ‘right’, so he took a leave of absence from work spending weeks seeking to identify the best methods to protect his growing boy from other misguided, angry, boys, as well as, hoping to spare would-be bullies from the burden of guilt they’d one day suffer from taking such a path.
Tank Scrivens relived as many atrocious episodes as he could recall and came to a surprising conclusion; the boys he had ‘chosen’ to victimize all shared the same subtle traits which had nothing, at all, to do with their size, so he carefully listed the most prominent ones as follows: slumped posture, easy to separate from any group, wouldn’t look him in the eyes, were hesitant in their gait, and never, ever, raised their voices.
With that revelation in mind, Peter Scrivens got to work making sure that his son would not embrace any of those ‘tells’-also including the wisdom of “safety in numbers” and gamesmanship- as he simultaneously began writing a self-help book for other dads entitled, Bullies Are Made but Their Victims are Chosen: “In this world, there will always be bullies so teach your kids how to avoid being their victims.“-his book would become a best seller, not only as a deterrent to bullying, but as a guide used as an artful approach to asserting oneself in job interviews and the competitive job market.
Jeremiah and Hoyt were best friends and partners in crime for as long as they could remember so when they uncovered the leatherbound spell book in-between the rafters of Old Lady Sifton’s attic their wide eyes met sparkling with devilish possibilities.
Presently, the boys wrapped the dusty manual in a rag and raced on gangly 14-year-old legs to their secret place, littered with empty cheap wine bottles and playboy magazines from their other escapades, under the wrap-around porch.
Each page, of the musty antique, held a gasp-provoking magic recipe; from turning spaghetti into worms to actually turning people into animals- all with warnings not to try them without expert supervision.
The last page revealed an ornately embossed bookmark which was stuck fast to the paper (from years of alternating winter dampness with extreme summer heat) and a short, 5-line, poem useful for turning someone into a frog SO Jeremiah -who had a terrible lisp rendering almost every word incoherent- just leapt right into reading the spell out loud when a flash and thunder-like percussion knocked the boys out!
Hoyt awoke with his ears still ringing at the edge evening, but Jeremiah was gone, so he vowed to knock him out for leaving him and crawled from beneath the porch coming briefly face-to-face with a huge frog sporting a human-like terrified look in its eyes.
Jeremiah was sadly never found, and Hoyt was never believed, so he lived a tortured, empty, life as an impoverished poet/songwriter until he serendipitously sold a song that memorialized his friend, the incident, and their joyful childhood, and it became a huge lucrative hit. _______________________________________________________________________________________
(Finally, this song makes sense! It was written by Hoyt Axton. You may know him as the inventive father in the movie Gremlins. You’re welcome.)
She’d always thought her grandparents- born at the beginning of the 20th century- were the generation who witnessed the most dynamic human change in a lifetime, but the cultural changes of her sixty-six years eclipsed those industrial, medical, and technological advances they had beheld.
Her stomach twisted every time she reminisced about her childhood of jumping rope on the playground and feeling completely safe only to return to her present, a place and time of declared progress yet tragically foreign and ominous.
She’d like to blame it all on the 1960s but on closer examination there really was a labyrinth of cultural rot that went unnoticed while the rapid “advancement” of the human experience was cheered along.
The hippies, militaristic feminism, and the drug culture, were just the first glaringly emboldened movements to take center stage; all made possible by the everyday comforts and prosperity that the enormous leap of the sciences had secured.
Earlier, when she walked by the schoolyard, small children stood separated wearing surgical masks just twirling in circles with one child erupting in a rant filled with vulgar language getting no notice from the teacher nearby.
One child’s eyes widened with shock and met hers, but to steal her hoping to guard her precious innocence was not possible, so she wept for her instead as she walked home praying for all those children’s future.
8:05 am- Daniel knew serious trouble was brewing on the crime ravaged side street and patted his holstered revolver beneath his shirt while speeding up to avoid the impending mayhem and get to work on time.
When he opened his eyes, he could see three EMTs frantically working on someone below him as he seemed suspended in midair.
The last thing he remembered was riding his bicycle along the city street and hearing a succession of fireworks? … no, gunshots!
A woman’s anguished scream drew his attention to a limp bloody baby being placed in tiny body bag while police formed a human perimeter holding back a gathering crowd.
He regretted immediately his reluctance to stop and attempt to protect the vulnerable innocent people who were caught unaware and unarmed, so he decided to strike a bargain and declared, “Lord, give me another chance to save that baby… I care not what happens to me but let me do what’s right!”.
8:06 am- Daniel knew serious trouble was brewing on the crime ravaged side street and patted his holstered revolver beneath his shirt while skidding his bicycle to a halt…
Ms. Benedetti had taught first grade for just two years and with all her modern fresh-out-of-university techniques, the one she implemented from her own early schooling, created the most enthusiasm.
The kids loved the comical sound of this particular new word and used it in entertaining ways throughout the day.
When someone accidentally dumped the classroom pencil sharpener all over the carpet, the whole class rose to their feet shouting “CONFETTI!”
At recess, when springtime breezes rained crabapple blossoms above the playground, this young teacher’s class danced in a circle shouting “Confetti!” while waving their arms.
Just before dismissal, Ms. Benedetti often inspected the children’s desks for tidiness (something also left over from her own ancient school experience) but today, she was about to be lampooned because when she leaned over one child a shout rang directly in her ear, “I see Ms. Benedetti confetti!” and that child was pointing to dandruff all over her sweater.
I'm nobody! who are you? Are you nobody too, then there's a pair of us. Don't tell! they'd advertise you know. How dreary-to be somebody. How public-like a frog. To tell one's name-the livelong June, to an admiring bog. Poem by Emily Dickinson.