No Naked Ads -> Here!
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Unspeakable, p.7

           Erika Rummel
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
IT’S LATE AFTERNOON when I fold up my chair and go back inside the cabin. Nobody has come by. Today is Thursday. The owners will probably show up Friday night.

  I sit down on the sofa bed and feel lonely. I have dozed all afternoon in the chair by the road, thinking of Tony, and now that it’s late in the day, I’m wide awake.

  I hit on a plan. I empty a bottle of water into a pot, heat it up and put in three heaping spoonfuls of instant coffee. The mixture looks black as I pour it back into the bottle. Good. I want it to be strong, the way Mexicans like their cafecito. It’s a present for Luis. I’ve made up my mind to pay him a visit. There are so many questions I want to ask him. I don’t know why I didn’t ask them last night. Where did he get the little radio from? Does he have a girlfriend? Why is he afraid of being deported now?

  I march down the road with my present in a plastic bag. It’s dusk by the time I get to the broken-back cabin. I walk up to the door and say softly:

  “Luis? It’s me.”

  “What’s up?” he says. His voice comes floating through the shadows of the room. “How come you’re back?”

  He doesn’t sound pleased.

  “You didn’t find the cabins?” he says.

  “I found them,” I say. “They were locked, but I climbed through a window and helped myself to some food – mushroom soup and crackers, and cereal. I brought you some coffee.”

  I go up to Luis and hand him the bottle. I feel his face like a blind woman. His mouth crimps into a smile, but his voice remains firm:

  “You can’t stay here. I just listened to the news. Someone phoned in and said they saw you in Palm Springs.”

  “They are making it up.”

  “I know, but they’ll start looking for you in Palm Springs. Next thing, they’ll search the area around here.”

  “I won’t stay long,” I say. “I’ll go back to the cabin, and tomorrow I’ll sit out by the road. They’ll find me before they find you.”

  He breathes out a long sigh and gives me a baby kiss.

  We snuggle up on the sofa, and I ask him the questions I didn’t get around to earlier.

  “Do you have a girlfriend, Luis?”

  He doesn’t have a girlfriend, he says. I can’t tell whether he is lying. We are sitting by the window, and the dying light of the day is on him, but I’m no good at reading faces, and Luis’ face is too round to hold expressions for very long. They slide off before I can decode them.

  “I can’t afford a girlfriend,” he says and laughs. His eyes are a black mirror. I can’t see through the shiny film.

  “You don’t have to pay for love,” I say.

  “You do,” he says, laughing even harder. “Maybe not with money.”

  “With your soul?” I ask.

  “Something like that,” he says, but he doesn’t want to talk about love. He has his stories under control today. I don’t get another confession out of him, no matter how hard I try. He’s sticking to the facts. No more unrehearsed memories. Maybe just as well. The facts will keep me straight. I won’t slip into the game mode, the way I did with Tony. Luis tells me that his father died in a car accident when he was six. He and his mother went to live with an uncle. Then, a year ago, his grandmother died, and his mother went back to Riito for the funeral and to take care of her widowed father. Just for a while, she said, but Luis knew she wouldn’t come back. She was too old to do the trek across the border again, and she had to look after her father. It was expected of her. That’s the way it was in Riito. Luis stayed on with his uncle and finished high school.

  “I wanted to go to college,” he says. “I had the marks, but my uncle was against it. He thought it was time for me to earn some money. Support my mother. Send something to Riito every month. So I started work in his landscaping business.”

  Luis’ life is full of facts that can be put into short sentences. Noun, verb, object. A modifier here and there.

  The Migra caught him.

  In a routine sweep.

  His uncle hired a lawyer.

  They filed a petition.

  It went nowhere.

  I ask a question to throw Luis off the short-sentence train. We want to keep it real, but his sentences are very bare. I want more detail.

  “Why did they decline your petition? What did the judge say?” I ask.

  “He said the guy my uncle hired wasn’t entitled to file a petition on my behalf. He wasn’t a lawyer. He was only a notary public. So that was money down the drain.”

  The judge granted Luis voluntary departure, but he stayed on. His uncle said he knew lots of people who were in the same position and did nothing, and nobody ever followed up on the judgment. For a while it looked like he was in luck. Nothing happened, but then the judge made a deportation order.

  Luis is warming to the topic. The sentences come out of his mouth freshly baked, with an aroma of deep breath. I can feel his words on my skin. Luis moves into the dramatic mode. He said/I said.

  Mala suerte, his uncle said.

  So what do I do now? Luis said.

  We’ll have to get you fake ID.

  And then?

  Then you go to Tucson for a few months and work for a friend of mine.

  “That’s what I should have done in the first place,” Luis says to me. “Gone to Arizona. Instead my cousin drives me out here. It’s a safe place, he says. We’ve used it before. I’ll pick you up when we have the papers. – It was a stupid idea. I should have stayed with friends. The Migra doesn’t go around checking out your friends. They haven’t got enough agents for that kind of thing.”

  All of a sudden I know a lot about Luis. I could start a scrapbook on him – or better still, a prayer.

  “And where did you get the antique radio?” I say.

  “Another stupidity,” he says. “My abuelo – my aunt’s father, I call him abuelo because he’s like a grandfather to me – he got it into his head that the Migra tracks people through their electronic gadgets. He wouldn’t let me take my ipod. Por favour, abuelo, I say, I’ll go crazy if I sit around with no one to talk to and no music to listen to. Then take this, he says, and hands me the radio.” He gives a helpless shrug. “I took it, as a kind of farewell present. I’ll probably never see him again.”

  We are silent. Luis feels sore about never seeing his abuelo again, but I don’t want any sad thoughts to spoil the short time we have left. I hug him, and he hugs me back and strokes my hair. After that: no more baby kisses. His hands move to my shoulders, my breasts, my hips. We trace the contours of each other’s body, pulling off the clothes we don’t need. I know this is going to be the real thing, the racing heart, the going out of my mind, clutching, screaming thing, and the sweet release melting my bones and leaving my mind spinning on empty.

  We lie very still to savour the last goodness. We want to go to sleep in each other’s arms, but what if a search team comes through tomorrow morning before we wake up? We have to play it safe, Luis says. So we untangle and clean up with a bottle of water and a crumpled Kleenex he pulls out of his pocket.

  It’s time to say good-bye, but we are back on the sofa, clinging to each other.

  “Let’s talk a bit more,” I say. “Just a few minutes.” I still haven’t asked all my questions. “Luis,” I say. “If you had a chance to go to college, what subject would you pick?”

  “Social Work,” he says, his lips against the side of my head, his warm breath on my skin. “I want to work with kids. Latinos. Make sure they learn English and make a life for themselves. I want to help people.”

  “Me too, but I’m not sure I can do it. As a job, I mean.” I start telling him about the time I volunteered at a nursing home, but I don’t get far, because we hear the rumble of a truck coming closer. Luis grabs my arm and we dive behind the sofa, crouching in the space between the wall and the back of the sofa, although the driver can’t possibly see us from the road.

  I look up and see the lights of the truck panning across the window. Whoever it is will be gone in a momen
t. But he doesn’t pass by. He stops and turns off the engine and the headlights. The door of the truck clunks open and shut. Someone comes crunching along the path to the cabin. Then a man’s voice says softly:

  “Tito? Eh! Tito!”

  The door opens, and the beam of a flashlight strafes the wall. Luis gets up.

  “Jaime,” he says. “You gave me a scare, guey. You said you’d come tomorrow.”

  “Yeah, that was before I saw the news on TV about a girl–”

  That’s my clue, and Luis is already yanking at my arm. I stand up.

  Jaime stares. “Jesus!” he says. “It’s her.”

  “What did they say on TV?” Luis asks him.

  “Some guys phoned in and said she partied with them a couple of days ago. They camped out somewhere around here. When they woke up in the morning, she was gone. They thought she’d hitched a ride home. So then Maria gets all worried. What are you waiting for? she says to me. Ya tenemos los papeles. – We got your papers today. Get the boy out, she says. The cops will be all over the place by tomorrow morning. That’s why I’m here. To get you out.” He tilts his head at me. “They said she can’t talk.” He barks a kind of laugh. “I guess she’ll keep her mouth shut about you.” I’ve noticed it before: people think if you are mute, you are deaf as well.

  “She won’t give me away,” Luis says firmly. He puts an arm around my shoulder as if to shield me from Jaime’s barking laugh.

  “Okay, let’s go,” Jaime says. “Pick up your things.”

  Luis gathers up the remaining cans and bottles of water, and the blankets.

  “Do you want me to leave you the blankets?” he says to me.

  I shake my head. My words have dried up.

  “Apurate,” Jaime says. “Hurry up.”

  Luis has stuffed everything into a plastic bag, and there’s nothing more to do. “You are on Facebook?” he says to me.

  I nod.

  “I’ll send you a message.”

  “Pinche guey!” Jaime says. “That’s your cock talking. Let’s go! Vamonos!”

  We kiss under Jaime’s stormy eye. We don’t care.

  I stand at the door and watch them drive away. I wave although Luis won’t be able to see me even if he looks back. The brake lights flare up and dim again as the truck rounds a curve in the road. I keep watching until there is only a faint glow travelling in the distance. When I go back into the cabin, I stumble over something in the dark: the bottle of coffee I brought as a present for Luis. He’s left it behind. He didn’t have time to drink it. The bottle feels heavy in my hand. I unscrew the cap and gulp down the coffee. It leaves a burned and bitter aftertaste on my tongue. Luis wouldn’t have liked it.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Add comment

Add comment