Chapter 60

“Hey, Cheech. I really need to get home. Do you have any suggestions that would really work for me?”

“Yeah, first, we need to get you some other clothes.”

“That would be great.”

“Pancho, you think if you got a fake ID, you could get back home?”

“Huh?”

“If you had a real ID before, then if you got a fake one just like it, and the numbers and names check out, you should be . . .”

He didn’t have to finish his sentence. It was brilliant. He eyes me for a second, and then takes off towards the back door. “Watch the place for a minute.”

“What do I do if someone wants to order something?”

“You work at Taco Bell; do what comes natural.” He stops as if he just walked into an invisible wall. “Better yet, just go up there and pretend you work here but you don’t speak any Spanish. I won’t be long.”

 

 

He comes back from who-knows-where and tosses me some clothes. They’re the same ones that didn’t fit before.

“Put these on, then come over here.”

I throw on the shirt and then look around. Nobody can see me, so I take off my very roomy white pants and squirm into the tight jeans. He motions for me to follow him to the back of the restaurant. He has a Polaroid camera in his hands, and he’s tacked up a white sheet against the wall near the back of the restaurant.

“Stand in front of this, and don’t smile.”

I do what he says and wince at the flash. “You can make student ID Cards?”

“No, but I can make a drivers license.”

“I never had a drivers license—not yet anyway.”

He tosses the fresh Polaroid in the air. “You said you had ID.”

“I had a student ID card and a social security card.“

“Oh man, are you screwed. Getting across the border is the least of your problems.”

“Huh?”

“You lost your social security card down here? A real one? The next hundred Mexicans that go north are gonna be named Francisco Villa . . . okay, maybe you’re not so screwed after all, but they’ll probably want to use your social security number.”

“I didn’t have my social security card on me—it’s at home.”

“And it matches your real name?”

”Yep.”

“Good, what’s the number?”

He pulls a pad and pencil out of his shirt pocket, and writes it down.

”Now, for real, what’s your legal name, just like it is on your card?”

Oh God, I hate my name. “I told you, this is no joke. My full name is Francisco Carlos Villa.”

“Tough break.”

“Tell me about it.”

He takes off again, out the back door. I wonder if this scheme is going to work, or if I’m going to get arrested again.

He returns less than an hour later and he hands me a social security card. It looks good too. He takes my new social security card out of my hands and I follow him outside. He drops the card on the ground and stomps it into the cement. He picks it up and hands it to me, “Don’t tell anyone about this.”

“Don’t worry Cheech. I would never . . . “

“I know, but this was how my uncle made most of his money when he owned this place.” He smiles. “He wasn’t a good cook, like me.”

Now I smile too. “Wish me luck.”

I put the new social security card in my back pocket and start walking. Just before I get to the front door I hear Cheech say, “I’ll have dinner waiting for you when you get back.” I stop and give him a disgusted look, and then push my way through the door. If I’m lucky, this will be the last time I see that little guy’s face for the rest of my life.

Mike J Quinn About Mike J Quinn
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