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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Thursday June 20th 2024

SEARCHING ”“ a Serial Novelle CHAPTER 1

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

Angel swore it was an owl. It was calling from a tree hidden deep behind the locked cemetery gates. He remembered that an owl calling meant death, but for whom? Himself? One in his family? A friend who had a death wish? He tried to see the owl through the fog that was beginning to creep in from Cedar Avenue, but he could not. It continued to call, lonely, vigilant, demanding.

Angel tried to laugh about it: of course there”'d be an owl in the cemetery. Nothing but dead people there! But he didn”'t know anyone in that cemetery. They didn”'t bury Latinos there. They didn”'t bury anyone there anymore. Mr. Bussey, in his 4th hour history class at Roosevelt, had talked about the Civil War veterans buried there, the heroes of the Underground Railroad, the first murderers and their victims. It was the old dead who laid there, the ones who had grown tired of being restless and wandering, the dead who had settled in for the long millennium”'s wait for the final trumpet.

No, this owl was calling for someone outside. Someone still living, who didn”'t know their number was up. That was a fact: death was on the prowl in the neighborhood. Death had an appointment, and death was never tardy. Angel shuddered for a second at that fact. Then he began to shake as he realized something else: he had been chosen to hear the owl calling. He had been called to be the messenger. The one who might be killed for bringing bad news. He, Angel Augusto Cruz Rojas, the first born of seven, was the one who must tell the story.

Angel pulled his hoodie over his ears and started walking. He was intending to go see Sammy and some of his friends downtown, but he turned around, walked quickly passed the bus stop, made a sharp right across the street, and headed west on Lake. The sky over the Global Market ten blocks away bore the faintest trace of pink from the sun that had set nearly an hour before, and the wind was straight in his face. When he stopped two blocks away to light a cigarette, it took him several tries to keep the flame lit. Even from that distance, he could swear he heard it. The owl was calling him. But to do what? To tell whom? Angel needed to find out.

Patrick Cabello Hansel and his wife, Luisa are pastors of St. Paul”'s Lutheran Church at 28th Street and 15th Avenue in Midtown Phillips. He is also a writer of poetry and short fiction.


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