El Paso TX
The ceiling caved under years of neglect. My grandfather and father, his only son, moved among the mugre, disappointed and disgusted.
I witness their work as I pull into La Loma, a place none of us will ever call “home” again.
I never noticed that I mixed my verb tenses until someone in my first writing workshop pointed it out. “Your narrative memories are in present while the exposition is in past.” I nodded and make a note to look up “exposition.”
As odd as it is to confess, I’m not a trained writer. Sure, all my bios say that I attended two graduate writing programs, but that’s different. I’m not trained like the majority of writers I read (past & present).
Beyond Italics: Work and Witness of a Chicano Writer
(current writing project)
"Hell Paso" (excerpt of story forthcoming in the "Sound and Silence" issue of PILGRIMAGE www.pilgrimagepress.org)
The amount of silence heard over the phone more than Laura’s tone signaled the seriousness of her voice: “Cuz — Come over — I need you.”
Minutes later, Raul pulled up to the Tanglewood Apartments off Zaragoza Road. Laura was on the steps leading to her place. Shorts. No shoes. Concert T-shirt: “Dokken Breaking the Chains Tour.” Lost in her thoughts, she ran her fingers over the pale birthmarks on her thigh.
After long periods of not seeing each other, the first words were never his. He didn’t know why. Maybe because he was younger.
Whenever his cousin had a crisis, he’d learned that she had her own way of letting him know what was wrong. He did know that it could come quick, like a burst of tears and running into his arms, or it could unravel slowly. And in the time that it took him to drive over and to park the car, he resigned himself to wait. Since they were kids, he felt that he’d always been waiting as well as watching.
After she went inside and put on some sandals and a long-sleeve shirt, she tossed him the keys to “BEBBA.” He wasn’t sure why she didn’t want to drive and didn’t ask. He unlocked the doors and dropped himself on the fake sheepskin seat covers. Other than tinted windows and a new swap-meet radio—several others had either been stolen, pawned, or broke—the old Chevy Blazer was just like the last time he drove it the night before high school graduation a few weeks ago. Some of the guys had wanted to go off-roadin’, and they convinced him to borrow BEBBA. “Sure, Cuz, sounds fun. Wish I could go,” she’d said.
About to ask about the noise coming from under the Blazer’s rear end, he watched her push in a Mix Tape and raise the volume, which was already turned up pretty loud. To the noise of some Metal band, he drove south on Zaragoza Road and accelerated onto the Border Highway. She pointed the way west. At this hour, most of the traffic was coming in the opposite direction. People either commuting from downtown to the Lower Valley or heading for the Zaragoza Bridge, crossing back to Juárez from their jobs in El Paso.
I am very proud to be part of this benefit sponsored by La Sociedad Para Las Artes at New Mexico State University.
The annual reading is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, at the Beverly Hill Hall, 150 N. Hermosa. A reception following the reading will include a silent auction, a chili cook-off and a carnival.
Tickets cost $10 at the door, and all proceeds go to Casa de Peregrinos.