Saturday, September 4, 2010

In Nogales

"Alejandro," I think I halfway hear. "Alejandro," I hear again, more clearly through my dream, the night vision that I've had so often lately, the one of me finding Papa in the Sonoran desert and helping him get home to the Great Basin.

"Alejandro. Alejandro, wake up."

It takes me a minute to realize that the voice isn't part of my dream. It's José. Now he's shaking my shoulder, and I'm kind of remembering where I am, in Nogales. "You've got to get up; it's time to go. Before it's too hot."

"What time is it?" I ask; my voice feels all hoarse. "It gets hotter than this?" I say, only half joking. It's already too hot.

"It's 5 AM," he says, "come on; stand up." He tugs on my shirt.

I get up from the dirt of the cellar and dust myself off. At least it was more comfortable sleeping there in the cellar, in its dirt underneath the house than it would have been trying to sleep upstairs, even if the swamp cooler is going, which I'm sure not sure is.

"Go to the bathroom," José tells me. He talks to me like he's my mother. "Hurry up."

Well, this is his turf, and I'll respect it. After all, I've never been here before; in fact, I've never left Clayton and its surrounding area before. So this is all foreign to me.

I trudge up the staircase, trying to go quietly even though it squeaks with every step, and go into the house and down the hallway to the bathroom. I go in, close the door, and take a leak. Next, I splash my face with water in the basin and look at myself in the mirror. I rake my fingers through my hair and think how much I look like Papa: the slant of my eyes, the jut of my chin, the heavy eyebrows. I miss him so much.

"Come on," I hear José. "It's time to go."

I gulp some water, wipe my mouth with my hand, and go out. José is there.

"Roberto is out at his truck," José says. "Let's go."

I follow him out. The city is already busy in the dark morning. People are moving about; the cars are coming and going. Roberto is in his truck, and we climb in beside him, me first and then José. The truck's engine could compete with Grandpa's Corolla for the roughness of its operation.

"You sure you can find him," I say.

"Yeah, pretty sure," José says, "Diego can find out just about anything because of his connections."

"But there's never any guarantees," Roberto says.

Isn't that the truth.

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