Chapter 21

It doesn’t take long for the officer that was with my uncle to return with someone else. The new guy opens the door of the cell and waves me out. Some of the gang-bangers dry their faces and wave goodbye. The big ugly one walks over and gives me a hug. Practically squeezes the life out of me. These guys weren’t so bad after all. I feel a kind of “summer camp” friendship has formed between us. How weird is that?

The shock of sunlight burns my eyes, and it’s making my head hurt again–or more–I can’t tell. I’ve been a little pre-occupied with this whole get out of jail thing, and let’s not forget the, your dad is dead revelation. I forgot about my hangover. I think it’s a hangover. Maybe it’s what they call, “Montezuma’s Revenge.”  My mouth feels like I ate a wax apple and all I smell is dust right now, which is a lot better than the alcoholic scarecrow scent back in the jail.

I see Carlos talking on a cell phone at the bottom of the wide cement steps that lead up to the jail. I look at the jail from the outside for the first time. The building must be a hundred years old. It has a domed roof, tall cement pillars and two large wooden doors. The few windows are small and barred. Kind of an old hometown look about it. They should sell postcards in the lobby for tourists like me. They could have a picture of this charming courthouse-looking jail on one side, and on the back it could say, “Wish you were here!”

Carlos hangs up the phone. “How do you feel?”

There he goes getting creepy on me again. Do I really want to know what happened last night, or should I let it go and pretend it never happened? He looks down at my hands and sees my socks and looks farther down and sees why they are in my hands.

“Where are you shoes?”

“I was hoping you could tell me.”

“Why would I know? I was not drinking last night with you.”

“I’m also missing my wallet, watch, money and my ID.”

“They were not in your bag?”

“No.”

“Then I am afraid they are gone.”

“Gone?”

“Yes, gone, not here.”

I know what gone means. Why is he not helping?

A metallic blue ‘65 Mustang convertible pulls up to the curb and a younger, thinner version of Carlos pops out of the drivers side. It’s like looking at a time machine. “Pancho, permítame, mi hijo Jose. Jose, este es su Primo, Francisco.”

“Mucho gusto” we both say at the same time. We shake hands. He’s probably a year or two younger than me, but he’s already driving. Great. There’s an uncomfortable silence as Uncle Carlos inspects us both very carefully, like one of us is about to start singing and dancing. Am I supposed to say something or what?

“I must get back to work, Pancho. Jose will take you to the house of you Abuela. You will meet the tias, and tios and possibly a prima too, if she wake up from her sleep.”

Great. Here we go with the Mexican family reunion.

“Vaya con Dios.”

“Tu tambien, Papa.”

“Yeah . . . you too . . . Uncle Carlos.”

Jose and I hop into his car and we drive off.

I like this car. The interior is an old white, and I can feel the old automatic transmission slipping a little when it changes gears. The blue dash has a crack down the middle and the seats are worn and some foam shows through in a couple of places. The center console is dusty, probably from having the top down all the time. I’m just thankful there are no fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror. We drive slowly past Uncle Carlos’s police car, and he watches us go by.

Mike J Quinn About Mike J Quinn
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