Crisis (I)

Crisis I (Spanish)





Crisis (I)


Friday, May 2. Dow Jones: 13,058

Sierra Vista, Arizona. 11:10 PM


On a moonless night Guadalupe de Blanco crossed the border on her knees.  She ate desert sand and dampened the Arizona soil with the blood of her feet.

On the afternoon of Saturday the third, she stumbled across a bottle of hot water, one of those bottles strewn about the desert by the brother dogs who hope to save a few of the dying.

On Sunday she fell asleep slowly, hoping not to wake up again the next day.   But she woke up, nearly suffocating, and laying on a large wet blot that her body had stamped into the stone beneath her. She recognized the vaginal halo of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who had cradled her through the night and returned her to the world lovingly and without mercy.  She immediately felt the harsh early sun, once again working at its slow task of sucking out of her skin and her flesh and her brain the water she had won by chance the day before. Then she once more put her still wet and beating heart back in her breast, picked herself up, and out of obedience to the Cosmos continued walking.

Two days later a coyote discovered her.  Enraged, he muttered that his line of work was useless.  He muttered and spit tobacco.  Guadalupe walked with him, and was accompanied by the promise that her agony had ended.  The coyote complained several times about the merchandise.  The land was useless, it was dry, the fire climbed over the rocks, the agave farmers didn’t pay.

So far that season, he had dealt with nineteen Mexicans, eight Hondurans, five Salvadorans, two Colombians, and some guy from farther south, a crazy Chilean or Argentine looking for adventure. Almost all of them were short and broad-backed, with square heads and mouths of stone.  Few words and a lot of hunger and distrust.  He had fed them and one day, upon return, he had found nothing but the empty house.

The house was located at the foot of a ravine as red as the blood of the quetzal bird.  Inside it smelled of loneliness and beer.  By its size, it would not have appeared to be anybody’s refuge.

He didn’t like Guadalupe’s comments.  At least she was a fresh source of shade.

—Guadalupe — he said, smiling — Why are you coming to the States?

—Out of necessity, sir.

—Necessity is a serious thing — he said and deftly covered her mouth.

Her eyes swelled with tears and terror.  The light-skinned little thing was young with lips as soft as honey.  Her eyes dark but clear.  How to put it?  Her breathing agitated, and no wrinkles.  Like breathing from pleasure, but she didn’t think of it that way.   The useless little cries more enjoyable than irritating.  That’s how she saved herself, because I can’t stand it when  they don’t recognize a job well done.  I had spent time with so many shapeless Indians that I wasn’t going to deprive myself of this little angel sent from heaven.

Lupita cried all night but I couldn’t say what kind of crying it was. Murmurings.  She was calling out for her mother and for some “little one” which was most likely the child she had left on the other side.  They are worse than bitches.  Bitches never separate from their puppies.

Eventually I got tired of all the melancholy and the next day I cut off a little lock of her hair and let her go back the way she came.

She went off stumbling among the rocks, as if I were going to change my mind, as if she were incapable of following my instructions.  She went off sniffling like a little girl.  She seemed like she had a cold.  The flu.  She grabbed all of her crap and left.  Crying her heart out, of course. And the truth is I regretted it a little later.  That girl needed someone to protect her and I needed someone like her, a butterfly flirting about among the flames of the campfire, live and in person, and not to go to bed every night with her sweet memory. Who knows whether I have a son out there and I don’t know it.  Or a daughter.

Who knows if in fifteen years I’ll cross paths with her, light as a bird, light-skinned and pretty just like Lupita was.

The coyote’s life is a hard one.

(from the novel Crisis)

Jorge Majfud

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