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Searching – A Serial Novelle Chapter 24: “The Great Divide”

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

Luz had her own story, part of which she had buried deep. Growing up in two countries—in the winter along the US-Mexico border, Pharr on the Texan side, a small pueblo outside of Matamoros in the land of Cuauhtémoc. During the harvest season, she travelled with her family to the onions, the peas, the corn, the green beans, the pumpkin. She learned to pick before she could read.

Luz had family on both sides of the great divide. Mexican and US. Documented and undocumented. Speaking Spanish, speaking English. Migrants and land owners. Dead and alive. Her ancestry went back to great healers of the Nahuatl people, who had had their hands cut off and their tongues torn out by the conquistadors for being “pagan”. And she was a direct descendant of Mateo Kelly Hidalgo, the ghost of these pages, the prince of the divide.

This came pouring out little by little as she talked with Angel. They had walked into the teeth of the blizzard until they reached the Global Market, where they bought coffee and chai. Although she had felt cold much of the day, she now felt like she was burning up. She knew Angel needed to hear something, but she didn’t know what she needed to tell.

“I don’t know where to start, Angel. We moved around a lot, and so I never made any real friends. I really wanted to belong to something. But we moved and moved and moved. I always had my family, but I wanted something else. Then, one year, my Dad said, we’re staying put. So we stayed in Hollandale all year, in a little house. But it was out house. And I went to the same school all year long.”

“And that’s where you met that guy we just ran into?” Angel asked.

“Yes”

“Who is he? What did he do to you?”

“He is my executioner” she said, looking not at Angel, but at the floor. She raised her eyes. “My enemy. Sometimes I can almost feel him, like a power, a threat inside of me.”

“I don’t understand”, Angel said. “Is he from here, or there—he called me “tecolote”. Is he white or is he Mexican?”

“He’s half of each. His father worked the hog kill at Hormel’s. His mother was a distant cousin of mine, who came to work in the harvest. They made Minnesota their home before we did, and there weren’t many Mexicans who did that then. The kids in school always called him ‘wetback’ until he got big enough to beat them up. Then he joined with the kids who looked down on everyone.” She paused. “He was one of the boys who….” And she stopped, suddenly.

“Who did what?” Angel asked. “Luz, did he hurt you?”

Luz looked at him with fear, not fear of him, but fear of what she knew was in her and had to be spoken.

“It was in the fall. I had one white friend named Cindy Keefe. We went to see the Austin-Albert Lea football game, because her brother played for the Tigers. It was fun but it was really cold, and when her brother invited us to a party afterward, we decided to go. I called my parents and lied to them, that I was going to stay at Cindy’s house.”

“How old were you?”

Luz shivered. “I was almost 13.”

“Almost?” Angel asked.

“It was two nights before my 13th birthday. I was in 7th grade, and I had never been to a party. Oh God, I wish I hadn’t.”

“What happened, Luz?” Angel said. He took her hand and held it.

“There was this boy that I liked who was two years older than me. Danny something. He started kissing me, and then we went in another room. He gave me something to drink—I had never drank before, and the last thing I remember was sitting with him on the edge of the bed, and then I woke up, and there were guys all around laughing, and I didn’t have any clothes on. And I hurt so much, and everybody was laughing….” Luz began to sob. “I’m so sorry, Angel”

“It’s not your fault, Luz”, Angel said, looking directly into her eyes.

“But I knew I shouldn’t have gone to that party,” she said

“They drugged you, Luz—it wasn’t your fault.”

There comes a moment when the pain we have endured becomes the pain we are. And if we are blessed, when that pain begins to break, it is almost unbearable.

“And the guy we saw today?” Angel asked.

“He was there. He took pictures,” she said.

Angel could feel the anger rising in him. And something different: a determination to look and look and look for justice. They got up and started walking to the door. He took her hand as they walked.

“And the cuts on your arm?” he asked, gently.

“That was from later,” she said. “You don’t hate me, do you?”

“Of course I don’t. Luz, I am with you for whatever happens.”

“So now what?” she asked.

“I think we need to go home,” he said.

“Whose home?” she asked.

“That I’m not sure of,” he answered.

 

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