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Monday July 6th 2020

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“Returning”

By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL

Author’s note: this story picks up years after the saga of “Searching,” serialized in 34 issues of “the alley” from March 2009 through June 2012. In that story, we met Luz and Angel, two 19 year olds running from their past and searching for their future, along with a score of beautiful and strange neighbors.

Angel woke up with a start. He didn’t know what time it was, and for a moment, he didn’t know where he was. He had fallen asleep on the couch at 8 am, after helping Luz get Angelito dressed, fed and out the door to Hi-5 at Andersen School, and getting Lupita off to day care. He kissed Luz goodbye, ate the last of Lupita’s oatmeal, took a sip of lukewarm coffee and flopped on the couch.

He had done a double shift at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, 3 pm to 11 pm, 11 pm to 7 am. He hated crossing the nurse’s picket line, and he was angry at the supervisors who had filled in during the strike. The regular nurses, some of whom he saw this morning on the corner of Stewart Park with their picket signs, treated Angel and other orderlies, indeed the whole staff, as colleagues. The supervisors acted as if Angel and the others knew nothing about patient care. They bossed them around, or ignored them as people.

Angel hated crossing the picket line, but they needed the money. Angelito’s asthma had not gotten any better, and without health care, they couldn’t afford his medicine. Luz was trying to finish her degree at Augsburg University, while working part-time. The uncertainty about DACA and an uptake in heroin overdoses added to their stress.

But that stress wasn’t what woke Angel up with a start. It was a dream. It was The Dream. The nightmare of someone chasing Luz and him and the children. He never saw their face, but he knew the evil in them. Who or what was it? The trauma and enemies of his and Luz’ past? The forces of fear unleashed from the highest office in the land? Or was it the ghost of Mateo Kelly Hidalgo, come back to haunt him and the place he called home? Would Angel ever know, and would he ever be free of this curse?
To be continued…

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