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Searching – A Serial Novelle Chapter 21: “Most Like A Miracle”

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

Confusing feelings roiled around Angel’s heart, like cold, fierce winter winds. Winds with faces, with teeth and intent. Anger, jealousy, fear, hope, doubt. What he had learned in the last hour was stunning. His mother, the gentlest soul he had ever known, had been forced into an unwelcome marriage, or worse. Sold, at an age younger than he was now. His father, the only one he’d known, the one he had just last night really talked with for the first time, was not his biological father. That man, part of this tangled mess that issued from Mateo Kelly, was surely a bad man. But what kind of a bad man, and what did that mean for Angel?

“So my real father…” Angel began.

His mom interrupted. “This is your real father, mi hijo”.

“Yes, I know that, Mom. It’s just that …well, this other man, my biological father… he was some kind of outlaw?”

Luz blurted out a laugh, joined in by his mother and father. Angel shook his head in disgust.

“I don’t see what’s so funny!” he said, his voice aching.

“It’s just that….”, Luz began, but couldn’t stop laughing. “You tell him, Carmen”

“An outlaw is someone who is a law breaker, yes, but more than that: someone who lives outside the normal reaches of the law.”

“Someone who has courage, who has a following, like Jesse James or—well, it’s what the gringos called our great revolutionary, Pancho Villa.”, his father added.

“They might break the law, but it’s how they do it that inspires others.” Luz said.

“Like your Uncle Jaime, when he escaped from La Migra?” Angel asked.

“Yes! Uncle Jaime is a good, good outlaw.” Luz laughed. There was a long pause in the conversation, and then Angel’s mother spoke:

“Your biological father was not an outlaw. He was a violent, hateful gang leader. No one will sing about him when he dies.”

Angel had never seen his Mom this angry. He could almost feel the heat from her. Strangely, it seemed to be a healing anger, reaching in to calm the storm.

“He hurt you a lot, Mom.”

“Yes, yes, an awful lot.”

“And yet you kept me. You could have given me away. You could have…” Angel could not finish.

Carmen stood up and walked over to Angel, and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

“I could never give you up. I could not betray my flesh and spirit, even if he had.”

Angel leaned into his mother for a long minute, their tears falling gently. Almost like the little birds, Angel thought, and then wondered what that meant. Finally, he spoke to his dad.

“And you rescued, Mom, is that right, Pápi?”, he asked.

“Yes he did,” his Mom answered. “It was most like a miracle”.

Most like a miracle, he thought. That sounds weird, like a Christmas tale or something.

Luz broke his reverie with a question aimed at both of Angel’s parents.

“Do you think he’s after Angel now? Do you think he’s part of what’s been going on?”

“I don’t know”, Augusto answered.

“I do,” his Mom said. “I don’t know how, but I know he is most surely present in this present pain.”

“Most surely present?!” Again with the saga-like syntax, Angel thought. And then thought: And now must I begin to speak thusly?

Luz picked up on their language, spoken and unspoken, but didn’t know how.

“You two are talking underground, like spirits of the light”, she said, not knowing exactly what that meant.

Carmen laughed. “Yes, I suppose it is the day to do that!”

“Why, what day is it?”, Angel asked.

“Santa Lucia Day!” Carmen and Luz shouted together.

“Santa Lucia?” the two men asked, simultaneously.

“Yes, Lucia, the light bearer. The patroness of Scandinavia”, Luz said.

“Just like Guadalupe is ours,” Carmen added.

“So what do people do on this Santa Lucia day?”, Angel asked.

“When I was a kid in school, and we had this pageant celebrating all the holidays: Christmas, Kwanzaa, Eid, Guadalupe, Hanukkah, I got to be Santa Lucia. I wore this long, long white dress, and a crown with real candles lit on top of my head.” For a moment, she was back in 5th grade at Hans Christian Andersen School, slowly walking into the gym, praying that she would set no one on fire, least of all herself.

Angel laughed. “Well would you like to go celebrate Santa Lucia with me, you who are named Luz?”

“I’d love to,” Luz said. “I think we should all go.”

They put on their coats and boots and started walking toward Ingebretsen’s. After a half block, Angel found himself walking next to his mom, with his Dad and Luz close behind.

“Can I ask you something, mom.”

“Anything, mi hijo”

“What was his name, mama?”

“Who?”

“Him. That one.”

She paused a minute. “Mateo. Mateo Hernandez Hidalgo.”

“Is he still alive?”

“If he ever was,” Augusto said, in a low voice.

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