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Searching – A Serial Novelle Chapter 23: “Turning Darker”

“The couple ran down 14th, jumped the fence and slid down the slope to the Greenway. They ran several blocks before they stopped under a bridge. Angel turned back to look and saw that no one had followed. Heavy snow had begun to fall, covering their tracks. They sat on the concrete skin of the bridge underpass.”

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

We can’t control what is coming. We can’t foresee it. Angel and Luz, upon leaving the Mercado Central were as in love as two can be. Together, come what may.

What came was not a stab from Angel’s past, but from Luz’. As they walked west on Lake Street, they didn’t notice the man standing at the corner a block and a half down. They didn’t see that he had seen them, and was waiting with eyes like radar. As they got closer, Angel could tell the kind of man he was: the kind you nod at as you pass, but don’t engage in conversation. The kind whose business takes all.

They intended to go around him, and continue to Luz’ aunt’s house. She wanted to talk with her about all that had happened. But as they approached the corner, the man stepped into their path and laughed, a laugh swarming with deceit.

“Well look who’s here—little old Luz. Lucy Goosey, alive in Minneapolis. How have you been, sweetie?”

Her body tightened, like a rope pulled taut. Later, Angel would say something snapped in her eyes, a sharp mix of fear, anger and pain. She tried to pull Angel towards her, in order to get around the man, but he blocked their way, almost pushing them into the building.

“Whoa, where are you going, Luz?” he laughed. “Lucy Loo, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. You can’t say ‘hi’ to an old friend?”

“You’re not a friend”, Luz muttered.

“Oh but Luz, how can you say that? Don’t tell me you forgot the good times we had back in Albert Lea?”

Angel pulled as much fight as he could into his body and quickly stepped up into the man’s face, his hands locked, his eyes like sticks. Just as quickly, the man pulled his knife out of his coat, and held it to the bottom of Angel’s neck, in a way that only he, Angel and Luz could see.

“Easy, customer”, the man growled, his voice hardening. It sounded to Luz like a dog whose skin was missing.

“You got something to say, tecolote?” the man sneered.

Tecolote. The owl. No, he thought, I will not be afraid. If this was what the owl had foretold many nights before, so be it. He was not running. He would stand by Luz.

“Leave her alone”, he said, his voice soft as concrete. Something in Angel’s eyes made the man pull back just slightly.

“You want me to leave her alone?” he said, pulling the knife back slightly. He looked straight at Angel, and then said in a whisper guaranteed to be heard by Luz:

“Oh, I don’t think this one likes to be left alone. She likes them to keep coming, one after another after another.”

He threw his head back to laugh at his own joke and as he was admiring the sky, Luz grabbed the knife handle and kicked him in the shin. Angel pushed hard, and in the struggle to get away, the knife tore a slash an inch or two on the man’s cheek. Angel grabbed the knife and tossed it into the busy street. As the two ran away, they could hear the man screaming and cursing, holding his hands to his face as he lay on the sidewalk.

The couple ran down 14th, jumped the fence and slid down the slope to the Greenway. They ran several blocks before they stopped under a bridge. Angel turned back to look and saw that no one had followed. Heavy snow had begun to fall, covering their tracks. They sat on the concrete skin of the bridge underpass.

“Are you OK, Luz?” he asked. She was shaking.

“We have to get away, we have to get away,” she said.

“Who was that?”

“He’s going to hurt me again,” she said, and grabbed Angel by his coat. “Take me away, please, we’ve got to get away.” That’s when Angel noticed the blood on Luz’ glove.

“Did you get cut?” he asked. He pulled her coat sleeve back to look for a cut, but Luz pulled it back hard and fast. But not fast enough. Angel saw what was there, and Luz saw that Angel saw. She turned away from him, and shrunk into herself. For a minute, she cried, deep and hard, as Angel rested his hand on her shoulder.

“Luz, I’m sorry,” Angel said. “I didn’t know….” He stopped, because he realized that in that moment of revelation, of knowing his beloved, he knew there was so much that he did not know about Luz.

Luz turned to him, “I have a past too, Angel”, she said, “and many parts are painful.”

“I’m not afraid of that, Luz” he said. “You can tell me anything.”

“Yes,” she said, touching Angel’s cheek slightly with her glove. “I can tell you anything. But can you hear everything? Can you love everything I was and I am?”

Angel nodded. “I will. I can,” he said.

They sat for a moment under the old bridge. Only an hour before they had sat in love in the warmth of the Mercado Central, eating Swedish cookies. Now, as they once again turned their eyes from each other to the world around them, they saw they were sitting in growing darkness. It was barely noon, but a snowstorm that had promised a couple of inches for Santa Lucia day was building up into a blizzard. They stood up, and started walking west. They could barely keep their legs moving against the wind.

“Where are we going?”, Luz shouted.

“To the police.” Angel said.

“The police!” she shouted, and stopped. “But what if they call the Migra, Angel?”

“I know a guy who I think we can trust”, he said.

“What are we going to tell them?” Luz asked.

“Exactly what happened.”

“Do you think they’ll believe us?”, she asked.

“Well, they’re not likely to hear him say different,” Angel replied. “He’s not the kind who’s going to the police.”

“No,” she said. “He never was that kind.”

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