Chapter 62

“What took you so long?” Cheech says, putting the open sign on the door and opening it for me.

“Hey, why do they keep sending me back to Mexico?”

“Because they think you’re a Mexican?”

“No, I mean, they keep telling me there is a fine and a two, five, now seven year jail sentence if I do it again, but they only keep me overnight.”

“You want to stay in jail for seven years?”

“No. I’m just curious.”

“Why don’t you ask them?”

“Because they might think I’m making trouble and really will keep me for seven years.”

“So you’re saying you believe them when they say they will put you in jail for seven years?”


“Look, they don’t want to flood their jails with people whose major crime is they just want a job. They want to catch bad guys, not moms and dads, dishwashers and painters. They just want you to think they will so you won’t try to come back again. You thirsty?”

“Yeah, thanks.” He hands me a paper cup with Coke and ice in it without even asking.

“What happened this time?”

“There was dirt in the ink. They knew it was recently made.”

“Yeah, rush jobs. Want to try again tomorrow?”

“Naw, I need to get home today.”

“Yeah, they sure scared you straight.”

“I know, it doesn’t make sense. None of this makes sense. I keep expecting to wake up back in my bed and this was all just a bad dream.”

“Ok, look, I know someone who takes people around the fence and through the desert.  I’ll see if he can help you, otherwise I think you should try the legal way.”

“I have been trying the legal way. It doesn’t work.”

“Now you really sound like a Mexican. Have you tried the other legal way: the American Consulate. You could talk to them.”

“Where is that, is it around here? Why didn’t you tell me about this before?”

“Hey, calm down Pancho. Man, you’re like a nervous little Chihuahua. Look, I don’t know where your consulate is. We have a Mexican Consulate in Mexico City, and one in Juarez, which is closer, but I wouldn’t go there if you paid me. And those are where our consulates are. Maybe yours is next door to it or something, I don’t know.”

“Do you know anyone who does know?”

“Even you went to Mexico City, It would take you a day or two to get there from here. You will need food and money for travelling, and another two days or more. And I don’t know if they can help you or not. I’m not an American, and according to America, you’re not one either.”

“I just need to get home. It shouldn’t be this hard, should it?”

“Maybe you should just call your mom and have her come get you.”

That does sound like the logical thing to do. I’ve had enough of this place, this help, this . . . everything. But for some reason, I think I’m meant to do this on my own, like so many others before me. Like my father. So many other people have done this. Millions of them. And all of them I considered inferior to myself. If they can do it, I should be able to do it. Otherwise, they are all better than me.

“No thanks, Cheech, you’ve helped me out a lot. I need to just do this. Can I get those white clothes back? These are killing me. If I’m going to be doing any jumping, climbing, heck, even walking or sitting, I’m going to need some looser clothes.”

Sure. I was going to keep them because there is no way anyone is going to believe this story without some kind of proof.” He smiles and disappears into the kitchen.

So, now that I’ve decided I’ve go to do this, how am I going to do it? I sure don’t want to go through the desert. That’s probably how my dad died, but that’s the only thing I haven’t tried so far.

Just before Cheech passes me to go get the clothes he asks, “You may want to wash them in the dishwasher before you go. I was hoping the dirt would help prove the story really happened.”

Yeah, that would probably be nice, thanks.” He turns to go and I ask, “hey, can you get me the sombrero too? I’m starting to get kinda dark without it.”

“It don’t matter how white you are, you’re not going to look like an American dressed like that.”

We smile. He leaves, I go in the back to get started washing my clothes.

Robb said if I don’t get back soon, I shouldn’t bother showing up at all. Then what will I do? How will I help Mom pay for food and stuff?

The desert brings back memories of the rape tree, guns, a little girl with flies in her mouth, prison—years of it. Death. These choices suck, but what else can I do? Stay here?


About two hours later, I just finished putting on the white clothes  and a van pulls up next to the restaurant. Cheech walks over and talks to the people inside. He motions for me to come too.

I don’t know if I can take any more of his help. I was kinda planning on doing this on my own. Cheech introduces me to Antonio, the driver. He looks at my clothes, and then back at Cheech. He would be driving me, and the others in the van, to a place where the fence ends and we could just walk right into the US. No fence, no tunnel, no sharks, no border patrol. It sounds too easy and as he’s telling me all this, the others in the van nod enthusiastically. They look like they all drank the same Kool-Aid—all smiles and optimism. Nothing Cheech has done for me so far has worked. Why should this? I have a bad feeling, but this will at least get me across the border. I can take it from there.

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Mike J Quinn About Mike J Quinn
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