The Wall — A Perspective in Three Stories

by Jeaninne Escallier Kato


Milagro

Clutching her milagro, the tin cross charm her husband made before he left for El Otro Lado, the United States, Nayeli whispers the same prayer over and over as she grips her four-year-old son’s hand. She and Ediberto haven’t eaten since yesterday. Desperately hoping to sell a few of her embroidered blouses called huipiles in Oaxaca’s town square, Nayeli makes the sign of the cross over her child, hugging him into her legs. Nayeli is anxious to get to the next corner before another vendor takes her favorite tourist spot.  

Jose Luis left for the United States a year ago and Nayeli hasn’t heard from him since.  Her husband made the milagro, miracle charm, to protect his wife and child in case he did not survive the harsh desert journey. Nayeli is so lost her thoughts, she doesn’t notice when Ediberto slips out of her hand.

“Mi’jo!” she screams, absentmindedly dropping the charm into a storm drain as she runs around the corner. Nayeli sees her child staring at his reflection in the jewelry shop storefront window. He is remembering his father, the loving man who used to throw him into the air in front of store windows in order to share reflected laughter.

The shop owner, Manuel Garcia, looks down at Ediberto’s dirty bare feet. He witnesses a stunning young woman in long black braids scoop this child into her loving arms, wrapping her son cocoon-like in her purple shawl. This symbolic gesture of love and protection is not lost on Manuel.

“Senora, excuse me, but I must ask. What is in your black trash bag?”

Too shy to look the shop owner in the eyes, Nayeli opens the bag and carefully displays her colorful blouses. Ediberto watches how gently Manuel’s hands caress his mother’s meticulous work.

Manuel Garcia disappears into the store and comes back with peso bills equivalent to two hundred dollars. When he hands Nayeli the money in exchange for her bag of blouses, she crumbles to her knees in gratitude. Realizing that she has lost Jose Luis’s milagro, Nayeli begins to cry.

Ediberto wipes at the tears on his mother’s face and says, “No te preocupas, mama, papa esta siempre con nosostros.”  

“Don’t worry mama, papa is always with us.”

Ana Lopez

Ana notices an armed guard on her final rounds in the Las Palmas Care Home. She addresses her colleague assigned to the nurse’s station.

Oye, Manny, que tal?”

Hola Ana, what’s up?”

“Who’s in 21? I didn’t receive any intake papers.”

Manny rubs the soul patch under his bottom lip before he answers, “When I saw the armed guard, I figured the patient was processed at the county jail.”

Muchas gracias, hermano. I’ll check now and do an informal assessment.”

Manny clicks his teeth. “Chica, don’t stay too late. Boundaries are healthy, mi reina.”

Ana sticks out her hip in a sultry pose, points to her shapely behind and says, “Kiss this boundary, guey.”

Manny whistles. “I wish.”

Ana smiles at the guard before she enters the room. A young man with close-cropped hair  is sleeping soundly. She raises his restrained wrist and feels a strong pulse. His forehead feels cool. The chart reads: Gunshot wound to the lower back.

When she turns to exit, she hears groaning.

“I’m Ana, David, don’t speak.” She touches his arm.

David grabs her arm with his free hand.

He whispers, “Help me. I can’t feel my legs.”

Ana sits next to him. “You may have temporary paralysis from a gunshot wound in your lower spine.”

David’s intense stare searches her face. Ana looks back and sees the soul of a wounded animal asking to be relieved of its misery.

“Do you know who I am?”

“No, I avoid the news. Is there anything you need before I leave?”

“Will you be back tomorrow?”

“Yes, but I won’t be involved with your physical therapy. I’ll check in on you often. Try to sleep.”

David motions her over to him. He squeezes her hand and says, “Thank you.”

***


Gracias a Dios,” says Ana. “One centimeter either way from where that bullet lodged and you could have spent the rest of your life in a wheelchair.”

Two correctional officers arrive. Ana helps David into his wheelchair and then retrieves his medications.

“You belong to the authorities now. Keep up your exercises from these grueling weeks in rehab. I suspect you’ll have plenty of time to make peace with your maker.”

David’s voice cracks as he’s being wheeled out of the room, “Ana, I shot at a Mexican couple for crossing the border. The police stopped me.”

“I know,” says Ana Lopez.

El Jardinero (The Gardener)

Grief consumes her like a mouse being squeezed to death in the body of a snake. She often struggles for each breath. After fifty years of marriage, Marlene’s purpose is gone.

“Senora,” Enrique inquires through the sliding door screen. “Do you need me to clear the weeds behind your back wall?”

She answers, “No, thank you, Enrique. Not today. Your check is on the patio table.”

Enrique hesitates. “I am so sorry for your loss, Senor Fred was a good man. If you need money, or anything, I am here to help.”

Marlene fights back her tears. Her extended family has all but disappeared; yet, this humble man with no discernible income is offering all he has.

“Enrique, I wouldn’t think of asking you for money, but thank you for your kindness. Please come in. I just made a fresh pot of coffee.”

Enrique wipes his face with his handkerchief and rinses his hands in the outside faucet before he removes his shoes to enter her kitchen. He declines the coffee and asks for a glass of water instead. Marlene motions for him to sit at the antique kitchen table before bringing their drinks. He looks around the room noting her many family photos.

“Forgive the house, but I’ve been too tired to clean today. Can I ask you a personal question, Enrique?”

Not accustomed to such a breach in gardener/client etiquette, Enrique doesn’t know what to say. He fingers the gold cross hanging around his neck.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.” Marlene realizes she has said too much.

“No, forgive me, Senora. Please continue.”

“Well, you are a man of faith, right?” Enrique nods his head in agreement. “You see, I was raised Catholic, but I can’t get past the fear that I won’t see my husband after I die. I’m not even sure there is a heaven. How do you go on without your beloved wife?”

Enrique’s eyes soften. “Senora, I am a simple man who understands nothing in this life, but like the sun that shines every day, even behind dark clouds, I know God is real.”

Marlene is intrigued. “May I ask how you know?”

As he rises to leave, Enrique rubs his chest over his heart and says, “Love.”

Marlene returns to her easy chair and clicks on the TV. The president is preaching about building a wall.







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8 Responses to “The Wall — A Perspective in Three Stories”

  1. Lupe Says:

    Does what every good story does, it makes me picture it like I’m watching a movie!

  2. Soosi Day Says:

    A lovely story. I can see all of this in my head as I read it (thanks to our SMA experience). Beautiful writing, heart-lifting story.

  3. The Wall — A Perspective in Three Stories | Defenestrationism.net Says:

    […] « The Wall — A Perspective in Three Stories […]

  4. The Wall — A Perspective in Three Stories | Defenestrationism.net Says:

    […] This is part three. Read the suite from the beginning. […]

  5. Lorna Says:

    I read it like I was living it. Beautifully written.

  6. Steven Escallier Says:

    I’m as proud of you as a brother can be!
    Your successes as a writer thus far,
    strike me like a splash of ice water “right in the kisser”(Ralph Cramdon) which serves to
    get me out of my head and up to the
    task of Doin’it, not just Thinkin’it!!

    Thanks for your spirit,
    It both lifts me up and puts me off.
    All in one big rush of adrenaline!!!

    “All My Lovin’I will send to you”
    From Steven E… courtesy of
    (Lennon & McCartney)♤♡

  7. Steven Escallier Says:

    PS:I bough the book last night!!!
    I’ll read the other’s stories when
    it arrives tomorrow …HUGS&KISSES…
    The brother sister kind that is LOL!!

  8. eatstuf Says:

    That’s so awesome, Steven!– keep supporting your favorite authors and their book publishers!

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