NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday January 18th 2022

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SEARCHING ”“ a Serial Novelle CHAPTER 13: Stories in the Storeroom

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

How long Angel and Luz sat in the storerooms of masks and puppets no one knows. No daylight entered their hiding place, just a few small bulbs in the ceiling lit the long hallway. It did not matter to them. They told stories of their youth: growing up amid the mangoes and papayas and alamos of their little villages in Mexico, discovering that they had been in some of the same Holy Week processions and harvest festivals. Angel laughed at some of Luz”'s stories, and realized he hadn”'t laughed in a long, long time.

As the night came on, their talk became deeper and sadder. In that crowded space, they shared””as if bread””the story of the death of Luz”' mother in a desert crossing, the estrangement Angel felt from his father multiplied recently by Angel”'s absence, the wandering spirits both of them held like a stolen treasure deep within.

Angel told Luz all he knew about the owl, the strange words, the healing of his body, the slender knowledge””cut short by the immigration raid still coursing beneath them on the street””of his ancestry. The strange lineage of the Hidalgos, how he was coming to believe that it was the ghost of Mateo Hidalgo talking to him, that he himself””Angel Augusto Cruz Rojas””was descendant of Spanish nobles and Irish mercenaries, and Aztec warriors, all rolled up in his 19 years of walking on the earth

They talked of their dreams and their defeats, their vision of the future, and the pain of today.     As their stories inched closer and closer to each other, so did their bodies. First brushing each other”'s shoulders, then hands, then their fingers began to play upon each others, as you would softly soothe the keys of a piano.

“Do you think I”'m crazy?” Angel asked her.

“No. You”'re not crazy at all. But it seems like you are starting to wear your wounds on the outside of your skin.”

“What do you mean by that?” he asked.

“I mean that your face””it”'s changed from the last time I saw you. Quieter somehow, but stronger. The scars of your search have taken away your fear.”

Angel thought for a moment what in the world Luz was talking about. Not to mention that she was starting to talk like Mother Light, like Mr. Bussey, like the world around him. He could almost feel her words like a wind to his face, and it felt like blessing. He sat for a long time, breathing.

“Do you know who is trying to kill me?” he finally asked, his voice shaking.

Luz sat for a moment, her hands forming a cup in her lap.

“I don”'t think it”'s just you” she said. “I think they”'re trying to kill us all.” And then she began to cry. And cry.

Between her sobs, she told how she thought her uncle Jaime had been taken by the Migra. How they burst into the bakery and grabbed two customers and wrestled them to the floor. When Jaime came from the back room, armed with a rolling pin, the agents pulled out the mace, spraying wildly. As Luz ran out the back door, she heard the sound of display cases breaking, of trays of bolillos and cuernos falling to the floor, of cursing in English and Spanish.

“He”'s the only family I have, and what if he”'s gone?” she said and looked at Angel with eyes, open now the part of the spirit most wounded, and most whole.

“We have to go look for him”, Angel said.

“How?” she asked.

“I have friends out there who might be able to help” Angel replied.

“Who are they?” Luz asked.

“I don”'t know. I haven”'t met them yet. But I know we have to find them.”

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