Friday, July 24, 2009

Ficción Rápida #2

Copyright 2009 by Manuel Ramos. All rights reserved.

Three more laps around the writer’s block. For Ficción Rápida #1, go here.

I steered her car to the ramshackle gas station that surprised us by being open at midnight.

“I’ll see about a motel.” She didn’t respond.

A tall, skinny young man with a receding hairline slouched behind the counter, surrounded by beer nut packages and car deodorizers. I asked if there was a place to spend the night. He pointed at a sign on the wall that advertised the Dew Drop Inn Motel – newly renovated and the last chance for a hundred miles.

“That’s all we got around here. It’s about a mile up the road, the way you was headin’.”

“How about the highway to the city?”

“You goes the other direction. Make a u-turn, then left at the crossroads. Five miles more or less.”

“Is there a back way out of here?” He paused, stood up straight, pointed again.

I handed him two twenty dollar bills. “Fill it up for her. Keep the change. Tell her how to get to the freeway.” I walked out the back door and ran to the Dew Drop Inn.

When David was eight he watched Al pick on Fatty Lombardi until Fatty punched Al. The fight was over in less than three minutes. Al bled from his nose and upper lip and whimpered all the way home.

As Al lay dying in the hospital, David reminded his brother about the fight.

“Why bring that up now?” Al asked.

“I felt like hitting you myself. You asked for it and then you couldn’t handle it. I lost respect for you.”

“Because of that damn fight? We were kids, David.”

David shrugged and looked away. “You were my older brother.”

Al reached for his brother’s hand. He never found it.

Alvarez sighed. The blood-spattered scene was too familiar. His knees cracked as he examined the woman’s bruised and battered corpse. TV cops made jokes about dead bodies, black humor to show how tough they were. Alvarez never joked.

His partner, Copeland, read from her notes. “Some of this you know already. Lupe Vargas. Forty-eight. Unemployed, some kind of disability payment each month. Her daughter said that she came home this morning about six, after work, and found her mother. The daughter’s a waitress at the twenty-four hour diner around the corner. Taking it hard. Lupe had a boyfriend about three months ago. Tommy Levin, a truck driver who’s on the road, not expected back until the weekend. Not many other friends. The old lady next door, who heard nothing, of course. What else? Yeah, the M.E. estimates T.O.D. around eleven last night. That’s all I got.”

“Was she a good mother?”

“Uh, not something I would know, Ben. Why do you ask? You think the daughter’s hinky?”

“No.” He sighed again. “We should talk to the truck driver. I made some calls while you were here with the M.E. Levin’s schedule changed this week, first time in years that he’s been on the road for more than two days at a time. The trucking company faxed me the manifest. The way his route worked out he had to double back. If he drove all night, fast, he could have been in town around midnight, maybe a little earlier.”

Copeland shook her head, once again impressed. “Now we just got to find evidence to back up your theory.”

“We’ll get it. We always do.” He sighed a third time.

“So why ask whether she was a good mother? Just curious?”

He stood up and peeled off the department-issue latex gloves. He stepped gingerly around the body but he could not ignore the smears on the wall and the stench in the air.

“Yeah. Curious.”


In case I haven't mentioned it, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of The Lineup #2 - Poems on Crime. Excellent stuff as well as a contribution from me entitled The Smell of Onions.

Watch for our special guests on Sunday, July 26: poets Olga Garcia, Tatiana de la Tierra, and making her writing debut, Liz Vega. Give them a big welcome to La Bloga bright and early Sunday morning.

Next week I'll have the schedule for the Thirteenth Annual Chicano Music Festival (August 6 - 9).

Ya'all come back, ya' hear?


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