Thursday, June 9, 2011

Minutemen

This was very difficult for me to write, as it took me pretty far out of my comfort zone. I'm not sure how well it works as a piece, but hopefully some you find it interesting.

    I bounced around on the faded leather bench in my pickup as we drove along the border. My son sat next to me and kept a lookout with a shotgun sitting on his lap. I turned the wheel a bit to the right and sent us traveling slightly north. My son turned towards me and said, “Why you goin’ that way?”
    “Let me do the driving.”
    “But--”
    “What’d I just say?”
    He looked out the window and apologized as I pointed us further north. All I could think about were those goofy dreams I’d been having lately, and all I wanted was an answer. Nothing made sense anymore.
    They were so real; I could have sworn it really happened. I remembered everything about them for days and even weeks later, unlike regular dreams which faded away before you made it to breakfast. But the strangest thing was that the dreams all had the exact same people. I knew their names...hell I knew my name. “Marco Garcia.” I whispered.
    “Who’s that?” my son asked.
    I put out my cigarette on the dash. “Just some spic.”
    “What’d he do?”
    “Never mind.”
    “Is that where we’re goin’? We gonna get em?”
    “I said never mind.”
    I laid off the gas a little and let my truck coast to a stop on the rutted back-country road. This was a good a place as any to figure this out. I turned off the engine, leaned back in my seat, and closed my eyes. My son started asking if I was fine, but I shook him off.
    After a couple minutes, I found myself in a small shack with Cielo cooking up some chili relleno on a crude wooden stove. I scuffed my feet on the dirt floor, looked up, and said, “Smells good.” I knew I said it in Spanish with how it came out of my mouth. Weird thing was, I didn’t know a lick of that language.
    “You always say that, trying to sneak an early taste. But you’ll just have to wait.” she said. Again it was Spanish, but I had no trouble understanding.
    I got up to take a look at the meal. The one thing I didn’t mind about these dreams was the food. The moment you put it in your mouth, it made a man sit up straight. Shit, it was better than anything I could have gotten at the best steakhouse in Texas. From outside, I heard an older car roar up the road, and I turned back to take a look at what was going on.
    A man got out of a beat up old Chevy. He walked up to me as I stood in the doorway. Guy was one of those punk spics that always made me laugh with his cheap suit jacket and stupid little moustache with just enough hair to darken his upper lip. “Marco, get the hell out of my way.”
    I bobbed my head, spit into the dry dirt, and firmed up my position. “What you here for?”
    “You know damn well.”
    I turned towards Cielo, who stood in the back with a tear running down her cheek. “Not today.” I said.
    Cielo ran up behind me and grabbed my shoulders. “Marco, don’t do this, please. Just let me go with him. It’s not worth it.”
    I tried to remember why she had to go, but the reason eluded me. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of this.” I said.
    “Like hell you will.” said the punk.
    I reached towards my right hip where I usually carried my gun, but it wasn’t there. I forgot, Marco didn’t have anything to protect himself. When I looked up, that punk spic’s fist flew towards my face, and I didn’t have time to react. I fell to the ground and watched him push Cielo out of the way as he kicked at my head with his cheap boots.
    I was relegated to watching out of my one good eye as Cielo, my wife...by God she was my wife. Perhaps not back home, but here she was and I loved her. I reached out my hand to touch the bottom of her dress as that fucking punk walked her to his car.
    He drove away in a cloud of dust as I lay there, helpless.
    When I woke, my son was tugging at my arm. “I think I see a couple there.” He pointed off into the distance where I could see a small group of illegals hiding in the brush. “Let’s go get em!”
    I reached up to where that punk punched Marco, and even my jaw felt stiff. After shaking my head, I turned the key in the ignition and started driving off.
    “You’re gonna let them get away.”
    “I know.”
    “Why? They’re right there.”
my son pleaded.
    “I’ve got my reasons.”
    “We can’t let them just get away like that. I wanna shoot me some--”
    “Shut up!” My son slid over towards the door and folded his arms over his chest. “We’re not shooting anybody.”
    “You’ve got a duty to your race.”
    “I know. That’s what I’m doing.”

15 comments:

Sulci Collective June 10, 2011 at 2:42 AM  

Very interesting, I can imagine the tugs while writing this. But do you pull it off? Yes I think you do. That last exchange between father and son really clinches it.

Well done, brave and I imagine rewarding

marc nash

Helen June 10, 2011 at 4:49 AM  

I think the tension created between the son's enthusiasm to go get em and the father doing the right thing was really felt in this piece.

I think it worked very well.

FARfetched June 10, 2011 at 9:27 AM  

You said that was a hard one to write, and I can well imagine it was. But you pulled it off, and he did the right thing in the end. Great job.

John Wiswell June 10, 2011 at 10:46 AM  

What was particularly outside your comfort zone in this one, Michael? It seems predominantly to be jerks talking on their way to a task. Are their personalities so different from what you normally play with?

Sonia Lal June 10, 2011 at 12:57 PM  

Very interesting! It worked very well. Really liked the last line between the boy and his father - that's what I'm doing.

Laurita June 10, 2011 at 1:14 PM  

I think stepping out of your comfort zone looks good on you. This was a very interesting piece, and I really like how it came together in the end. Well done.

Michael A Tate June 10, 2011 at 1:22 PM  

Marc: Thanks, and I'm glad you thought I was able to pull it together.

Helen: Thank you as well. (I always love it when people comment and say that they "felt" stuff. Great complement I feel)

FAR: Again, thanks. I'm really glad you think I made it work.

John: I think it was mainly using the word 'spic' as well as trying to get into the head of the MC. (Method acting/writing type stuff) But also I found it difficult to try and not make this political, as border/immigration issues can be a bit touchy.

Sonia: Thanks. Yea, that last line took a couple different forms, but I'm glad I settled on that one.

Laurita: Well then I guess I'll have to push myself further next week :) That is what I like about flash though. Very easy to experiment without a massive word-count commitment.

Chuck Allen June 10, 2011 at 4:41 PM  

I think this worked quite well, Michael. His interaction with his son was enough to reveal what he was like to the reader and set the stage for his hesitation.

Icy Sedgwick June 10, 2011 at 6:24 PM  

I think the last line is what elevates this into "something more". I'm assuming that the father is Caucasian outside of the dream, yet somehow accesses the collective unconscious...interesting idea.

daniellelapaglia June 11, 2011 at 12:15 AM  

I liked this piece. I thought you did a good job of showing the father's warring emotions between how he's raised his son to hate and his growing empathy for "the other side." The last line was great.

Donald Conrad June 11, 2011 at 4:58 AM  

There is a squirm factor in this one. On the surface it comes off as a story dealing with immigration; but toss in the guns and it takes on a veneer of ethnic cleansing.

I'm not so sure I could write something like this and pull it off the way you have. Thanks for sharing.

Adam B June 12, 2011 at 4:59 AM  

Like Icy said, the last line elevates this story. As difficult as it may have been for you, it maintains an authenticity of voice in the character, speaking of seeing the value and worth of a person.
Adam B @revhappiness

Michael A Tate June 12, 2011 at 10:16 AM  

Chuck: Thanks for the comment. I'm really glad you thought I was able to get a good setup in there.

Icy: I'm always striving for that "sommething more" but I feel I rarely hit it. Thanks!

Danielle: I'm glad you thought the last line really worked. Thanks for your comments as always.

Donald: Oh there was plenty of squirm as I wrote it, but I'm glad you thought it worked. Thanks!

Adam: Thanks for your comments. Aside from the racist thing, this was a new voice for me to try out, so I'm glad you thought it held throughout.

Matt Merritt June 12, 2011 at 2:09 PM  

If only we all could gain a little perspective. I agree that the son was a good addition; he worked well to build the "border-crosser hunting" persona while the father was flashing to dreams of the immigrant's life. Good descriptions, too!

Matt Merritt June 12, 2011 at 2:09 PM  
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