Chapter 53

When I return, I try to walk normally, but the shirt and pants are way too tight. I feel like the Incredible Hulk just before he shreds his clothes. I fold the white clothes and black sash, and put them next to the sombrero on the table.

“I don’t think I ever met anyone needy enough to want those,” Cheech says, looking at the outfit I just set down.

The clothes I have on are much more normal looking, but they’re practically cutting off circulation to my legs and arms. I don’t think I’m going to be able to hop over a fence, let alone ride in a van, or walk very far in these things. I slide a leg over and try to sit down on a chair, but I don’t seem to be able to bend enough to reach it. I feel like a very pregnant woman.

Finally, I get sideways over the chair and then let myself fall onto it, holding the backrest with my left arm to keep from falling all the way backward. Shirt buttons and pant snaps go popping all around. If I were green and really pissed off, this picture would be complete.

“You know, Pancho, I hate to say this but I don’t think those fit you very good.”

“Do you have anything else?” He just shakes his head. I go back to the bathroom to put on the white cotton clothes and use the black sash to keep the pants from falling off my hips.

When I return, I give Cheech back his normal clothes. I know that he’s done an awful lot for me, and I feel like a complete heel, but, “can I borrow some money to make a phone call? They kept my money in jail and I’m supposed to be at work today. I need to tell them I might not make it.”

Cheech gives me a, you gotta be kidding look, but he gets me some change anyway.  I go to the pay phone and call work. I’m beginning to get used to dialing a “1” before the phone number.

“Taco Bell, this is Robb. How may I help you today?”  Yep, that was a corporate kiss-ass answering the phone if I ever heard one.

“Hi Robb, it’s me Pancho—I mean Frank.”

“Frank, is that you? What’s happening? You’re supposed to have been here yesterday. This is not looking good for your career I gotta tell ya.”

“I know Robb, but this is way beyond my control. I’m stuck in Mexico. Someone stole my wallet and ID and the border agents won’t let me cross without them, so I’m having a really hard time trying to get back.”

“Border problems, Francisco Villa, really?” The phone drips with sarcasm. “You told me you were a citizen.”

“I am! You have my ID on file. It’s just—“

“Frank-Francisco-whatever, are you going to be making your shift tonight? Because if you aren’t, I’m going to have to take drastic measures to regain control of my schedule.”

“I know, I’m trying to get back—“

“Darren and I can’t keep working without days off.”

“I understand, believe me—“

The operator cuts in, “Por favor, Deposito . . .”

“See you tonight, Frank.” The phone goes dead.

I’m probably no longer in the running for the Assistant Manager position. The only thing I can do now is get home soon, so I can explain this whole mess and try to turn it around.

Cheech sees my face as I come back into the restaurant. “I know it can be hard to get across the border,” he says, “but it ain’t even this hard for Mexicans.” I force a smile to let him know I appreciate all he has done for me. Jose looks anxious to leave.

Mike J Quinn About Mike J Quinn
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