ANGEL OF DEATH Chapter V and VI

CHAPTER V

STAIRWAY TO HELL




Leticia dressed in a very suggestive manner, or maybe, everything looked suggestive on her. If I sent her to the walk-in refrigerator for a piece of meat, she would come out with her erected nipples. If she wore a short skirt, she would show her underwear left and right. She had no modesty at all. Tight jeans, tight t-shirts, or blouses, everything looked provocative on her. It was a little distracting in a good kind of way. 

She brought new life to the place and my life. She handled her job with efficiency. Most of the customers already knew her. But I found a little inconvenient walking around with a hard-on all day.

Her light brown skin looked soft and fresh, even a little shinny. She had short brown hair. Her long legs were beautiful, but her breasts were the main attraction. When she smiled, a dimple formed on her left cheek. At first, she seemed average-looking to me, but over time, she appeared prettier each day. After three weeks, she still didn’t call me by my name. 

Her dad was deported back to Mexico three years before, after three DUI infractions in one year. Her mom was a cashier at the Salvation Army. 

After closing time, we stayed for an extra hour to clean and organize everything for the next day.

“Hey Boss, seriously, why don’t you have a girlfriend? You’re kind of cute.”

I’d been adapting to her flirty nature. I hardly blush anymore. I felt comfortable enough around her. I seldom felt intimidated by her candid and extroverted behavior. She was a little immature, but I thought her personality was natural and innocent. Everything she did, even wrong, seemed unintentional.

“I don’t know, Leticia, people can’t believe I never had a girlfriend in my life. They must think I’m gay. The fact of the matter is that I’ve been shy all my life. The only time I asked a girl out, a million years ago, she turned me down. I never asked any other girls again. I felt deeply embarrassed and hurt. The humiliation was so huge I didn’t come out of my room for a whole week.”

My dad came to my mind right away. I hadn’t realized how obvious it must have been for him to think I was gay. 

“I think that’s cute boss, I’ve never met a guy as shy as you in my life. Most guys I know are pushy, and they can’t take no for an answer. I wish I were that girl that said no to you. I would have said yes, and stayed the whole week in the room with you.”

“That’s nice Leticia, but when that happened, you were probably in your mom’s womb.”




*****



My dad offered 130,000 dollars to Ana Suarez for her house, but she refused. She was a retired teacher. Her estranged daughter lived in Arizona. After they discovered the affair between my dad and Ana Suarez, her husband left her. A few months later, her daughter moved away too. She has lived by herself since then. I’ve never seen her at the shop. She was either a vegetarian or bought her meat elsewhere.

I made another offer for her house for 160,000 dollars. She turned it down too. She said that she would burn the house instead of pleasing grandma. She said she lost her husband and her daughter, but she would never lose her house. She also said grandma didn’t know how to make a man happy, so he looked someplace else.

What a sad old lady. Still embittered by events that happened years ago. But I bet grandma felt the same way.

I wanted to surprise grandma, but instead, I gave her the bad news and told her everything Mrs. Suarez said. 

My grandma was enraged. She carried a notepad with her at all times to write messages.  She wrote she would be happy when that old bitch died. And that if she were younger, she would gladly kill her.

That gave me an idea.

The house of Ana Suarez was adjacent to the back of our home. Throughout the years, there had been a few disputes or incidents involving Mrs. Suarez and grandma. One day, a dead rat appeared in our backyard. My grandma suspected that Mrs. Suarez had thrown it over the wooden fence, so she threw it back. The next day, it showed up in our yard again. It went back and forth for a whole week until I put it in the trash. 

On another occasion, a branch from one of our old trees fell on her patio. The following day, that branch and other branches that were not part of our tree appeared in our backyard. And then, she demanded that we fix the fence. 

Sometimes, I would hear the two old ladies grumble at each other, exchanging unintelligible insults over the fence as they tended their yards. Their anger and bitterness, instead of disappearing with time, kept increasing with their infantile behavior.

One day, I removed three wood boards from the fence and left them loosely hanging against it so, when the opportunity came, I could remove them quickly. I planned to kidnap Ana Suarez from her backyard as she put her clothes on the clothesline, or while tending to her tomato plants. I could grab her from behind and drag her to the shop. 

When I told grandma about my plans, she nodded and smiled morbidly. 

Grandma knew about my dad and the thief, which made her an accomplice to my crimes, but I didn’t know she could be so evil.

Days later, I found the perfect opportunity. As Mrs. Suarez was hanging her clothes near the fence, I grabbed her from behind. I bet she almost had a heart attack. I covered her mouth and lifted her body. She was light as a feather, but she kept kicking like a mule. Grandma watched with a diabolical smile as she followed us in her squeaky wheelchair. 

In the shop, I covered her mouth with duct tape and tied her up to a chair. My grandma was in front of her with a wicked smile on her face. I bet grandma wished we could keep her like that forever. 

I used a rope to tie her head by her ponytail and tied the other end to the ceiling light. I wanted the back of her neck to be accessible for the next part of my plan. Then, I moved grandma aside and grabbed my sharp machete. In an instant, the head of Ana Suarez ended up swinging like a piñata in the middle of our shop. Grandma didn’t waste a second and hurried to steady her head, and said to her head: “P U T A” with a hideous, sneering smile.

My grandma was not only my accomplice but my willing partner too.

The following Saturday, my homeless friends had hamburgers again. I didn’t receive any compliments on that occasion. One of them even dared to complain, “It tastes like old meat, but thanks anyway.” 

A few weeks later, Mrs. Suarez’s daughter showed up after someone reported her mom’s disappearance. Afterward, she put the house for sale. I offered her 120,000 dollars, and she accepted.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, CA. 09-23-2012




CHAPTER VI

My dad killed his dad. I killed my dad. Should I have a son?




I’ve felt abnormally normal. I knew that was the result of two events that happened recently, the disappearance of my father and the appearance of Leticia. It was a satisfying and therapeutic pause to my prolonged mental suffering.

Even though, three people have died at my hands, I needed to clarify that I didn’t kill my dad. He died. I provoked his death. He was already dead when I cut him up. The murder of the thief wasn’t my fault at all. The murder of Ana Suarez had been grandma’s wish so, in that case we needed to share the blame 50/50.

My perverse thoughts were satisfied temporarily. The usual evil desire to kill people had faded a little bit, the desire to push people to incoming traffic. Or to stab them in their backs had decreased. 

Since I was young, I had imagined how easy it would be to kill anyone. That feeling gave me an imaginary power. But I was sure it was all because I was envious to see other people happy. 

For years, I had the same recurring dream. I was seven years old when a girl, maybe one year older than me, kept chasing me. She wanted to kiss me, but I was afraid and confused. I needed to get away from her and crawled under my bed, but she reached her goal and kissed me. After she went away, I stayed there until dark.

Since then, I’ve been having the same dream all my life. Since then, I felt secure in the shadows, where I felt anonymous and nobody paid attention to me.


*****

I had a beautiful vision one day after closing the store while working at the cash register. I turned my head, and I saw Leticia standing on a stool cleaning the top of the refrigerator. She was wearing a short skirt, and I could see the entire magnitude of her beautiful long legs. She had a tiny pair of white underwear that didn’t cover the lower part of her butt cheeks.

She caught me watching her, but she didn’t cover herself. Instead, she smiled provocatively. I didn’t blush, which was in itself a miracle. I thought my traumas had disappeared.

But I still didn’t know how to handle the situation, I didn’t know how to approach her, and I wanted to have her.  I knew she was tempting me. She was a snake offering an apple. 

My desire for her had turned abnormal, I had to have her. The desire was so  overpowering, I didn’t consider that if she refused me I was going to run and hide under my bed. I didn’t know how to initiate a romantic relationship, my intentions were purely sexual. But rape should be out of the question. Unless . . .

I grabbed her by the waist and brought her down. I ripped her panties, spit on my hand, and rubbed her clitoris for two seconds. Then, I penetrated her. I covered her mouth with my hand just in case. After I noticed how excited she was, I removed my hand from her mouth. 

I was horny as hell, and so was she. I never had to force her. It appeared that the ‘brutal rape’ had turned into a fantasy for her. She was now taking the lead. She was more experienced than I was. I felt a little disappointed, but I kept satisfying my prolonged sexual abstinence.

Then, she interrupted my thoughts and said, “You don’t have to worry, I’m on the pill.” The enchantment turned into deception. My Lolita fantasy faded away in a second.

We still had sex two more times.

During our heated sexual encounter, I thought I heard grandma’s wheelchair. Later, as I prepared dinner, grandma wrote on her notepad, “I knew your dad was wrong.” as she handed me the note. I noticed an approving smile on her face.

Love had always been a distant foreign affair for me. Even friendship and affection were unknown to me. Leticia was altering emotions I didn’t know I had. I was getting a chance of experiencing a regular life.

I had lost an entire decade of my life, most of my twenties. I didn’t know where all those years went. I wished I had met Leticia a dozen years earlier. 

One night, she convinced me to go to the movies with her. She was sixteen years old, but she looked older. I was thirty-three years old, but I looked younger. That was my first date. How absurd was that? I wasn’t breaking the law by going out with her, but if they’d found out I was having sex with her, they’d put me in jail for sure.  

I felt strange having to ask her mom for permission to go to the movies after having sex for over two months.

The following week, she asked me out again.

We went to see a new band. The place was loud and crowded. I was having a decent time until Leticia went to the restroom. Then, I saw her talking to a guy, probably four or five years older than her. I didn’t see her again until the next day at the shop. 

In the morning, she appeared with a couple of hickeys on her neck. I always thought that to be the lowest of all vulgarities.

I had a hunch that guys like me couldn’t be so lucky for a long time.

After a short discussion that took place inside my head, I decided what her fate would be.

That morning, when I greeted her, she said, “I’m pregnant, and I’m sure it’s yours. I lied to you when I said I was on the pill. You’re the only one that I allow to have sex with without wearing a condom,” she added, “I’m telling you this because I don’t want to hear any sermons. Last night I took off with an old boyfriend of mine. I don’t need to give any explanations. After all, we’re not in a relationship or anything.”

I just shrugged and said, “It’s alright, never mind about last night. But if you’re pregnant, what are you planning to do with the baby?”

“You can marry me, and we can have the child, or you can fire me and never see the child,” she said.

Her sudden illogical arguments had my head spinning.

“What a drastic change, Leticia. I don’t understand why you’re acting this way. I know there’s no love between us, but I thought that we were at least friends. I don’t want to be a father, I’m not ready for that, and I don’t think you’re ready to get married or to have a child either. You can do whatever you want with your life and with your child. Whatever this thing was, is over.” 

“What do you mean by that?” she replied, “Are you erasing me from your life, are you? Forgive me. I didn’t know what I was doing. I wanted to defend myself before you started to attack me. I know I shouldn’t have gone with anybody else and left you there. I apologize for that,” and then she added, “When they deported my dad, I was thirteen years old. Since then, I’ve been doing whatever I pleased with my life. I’ve never been a nice girl, but I was trying hard to be one for you. I know you didn’t do anything wrong. Please forgive me.” She sounded regretful, but I doubted her sincerity. 

“All right, forget the whole thing. We need to open the store.” and with that sentence, she probably thought everything was back to normal.

The rest of the day, my pseudo-nymphet had what appeared to be a regular day. The minute we closed, Leticia was out of her clothes and going down on me. I was fighting my excitement. I couldn’t help but think she was doing the same thing to another guy the night before. And that the same guy had been biting her neck like a vulgar vampire. I almost refused her, but by then, I was enjoying it too much. 

Just when I thought I was finally regenerated, just when I thought my salvation had arrived, she betrayed me.

I almost felt bad for what I was about to do. My mind was struggling.

I was inside her, but my mind was somewhere else. I felt a rush of rage invading my body. I was raping her. That was my intention, but it bothered me that she was on the brink of another orgasm. I grabbed her by the neck and started squeezing it with all my strength, and the harder I tighten my grip, the harder I continued to bump her. 

I guess that wasn’t a terrible way to die, having an orgasm during her last breath. Perhaps she thought it was a joke or just a temporary punishment.

When I killed my dad, I didn’t see his eyes the precise instant when he died. But when Leticia died, I saw her soul leaving her body. I saw terror and pain in her eyes. 

The following day, Leticia’s mom came to the store looking for her because she didn’t spend the night at home. I told her she didn’t show up to work either and that she had asked me for eight hundred dollars in advance the day before. I told her Leticia had mentioned her plans to go to Las Vegas or Hollywood to look for fame and fortune. Her mom said she had heard about that too, and then she lowered her shoulders in defeat and went away. 

On Saturday, three persons in the park mentioned how good the hamburgers were. I didn’t taste them, but I saved two portions of meat for grandma and me. 

Grandma had excellent table manners. She was always boasting about her European ancestry and the superiority of French cuisine. That night, I used a fancy French recipe. The main ingredient was lamb. But instead, I used Leticia’s breasts, one for grandma and one for me. 

The plate looked impressive. The breasts looked proud and pompous. My grandma knew Leticia had been missing for two days but never inquired about her. When I served her plate, she immediately  asked, “Leticia?” as she pointed to the plate. I assented, and she proceeded with delicacy and finesse to handle the utensils. She even looked a little comical.

After she finished, she wrote on her pad: “Too bad they only come with two of them.”


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca.

FREE FLOWING

~~~ This is how my stream of consciousness would be on drugs. (I guess)

Squeeze my lemons 

trickle-down social insecurities 

third world project 

criminal justice injustice 

three strikes or a home-run prison system 

mutual terror 

bucket list priority destroy the world 

total absurdities 

my mother was a fish 

as I lay dying 

experiment stream of consciousness 

extreme mind fuck 

non-required grammar 

uncensored thoughts 

under subconscious and comatose dreamlike visions 

dormant and inert subliminal messages from the dark side 

both dumb and smart need not apply 

a comma here a period there 

absent and dismissed obsolete comprehension 

sent to hell 

they’ll laugh from there while others remain in heaven bored to death 

pitiful pride 

useless words 

inhumane humans 

voting against clueless republicans 

ignoring democracy 

conservative donkeys living in the past way in the past 

centuries behind 

implanting fear bible in hand 

frustrating progress 

preventing advance 

stampede of fools proclaiming preposterous promises 

while the opposition opposes most propositions 

cut to flashback to the future 

where non-existing scripts kept unedited in perfect literary freedom 

analyzed and approved with uneducated brilliance 

free flowing 

upstream rivers containing regrets that will get stuck 

by the stubbornness of indifference 

deviate back to my naked impure thoughts 

where people will always find meanness in the words 

offensive and crude 

the interior monologue never meant to be heard 

struggles to find the next line 

stolen by a ghostwriter 

wrestling to avoid a block that impedes his own free flow 

a conflict of minds trying to invade 

and plagiarize universal letters and words without legal ownership 

voicing internal feelings 

senseless emotions 

unobtainable dreams 

reserved only for exceptional persons with genuine talent 

that cannot be bought or taught 

eternal envy of simple minds 

abundant in a world of mediocrity 

where billions of people swim 

unaware of misery or wealth but happier than the rest 

conformism attracts health and joy 

stream of consciousness 

think and write whatever comes to mind 

unfiltered and uninterrupted 

unafraid of failure 

absent of objectives 

aimless freedom 

oblivious of pleasing results 

and disregarding unpleasant goals 

arrive without traveling see all without looking do all without doing 

and never become a pirate 

no end in sight 

no subject is forbidden 

except nonexistent exceptions 

majestic graffiti adorns the walls of a dark tunnel 

wasted space 

a desert on the ocean floor 

as might as well describe my organs too 

heart still palpitating 

reversal of misfortune 

tune for miss American imperialism capitalism colonialism

domestic love

universal hate 

continuous flow 

the stream found a dam 

unanswered dialogue 

voiceless speaker 

overheard thoughts 

one way conversation 

never boring and never clear 

I could go on forever until I die 

whichever comes first 

theories that violate logic 

a brilliant mind required 

with a bizarre succession of ideas 

the hell with logical sequence 

I lost my virginity to a whore 

this is totally inconsequential and irrelevant 

but that’s the point 

if an acquaintance is reading 

I guarantee this is fiction 

the rest of you consider it true 

you lose your virginity once 

did I mention you’ll never find it back?

question marked with a perennial tattoo inserted in the interior walls of my eyelids 

one thing leads to another 

resume the obsolete task of  building a lifetime of useless resumes 

describe your failures instead 

it’ll be more accurate 

nothing makes sense when you write an autobiography that belongs to someone else 

young and daring 

freedom loving fearless punk 

addicted to excesses 

school he flunked 

found love early

the free bird also found a cage 

never ending bliss decreased 

he then turned to rage 

lost is the name such accomplished ignorant 

no more crying I heard daughter downstairs indicating wise advice to kids

Edmundo Barraza Lancaster, Ca. 05-13-2016

ANGEL OF DEATH Chapters III and IV

Chapters Three and Four

CHAPTER III

HAVE YOU SEEN LOLITA?




One of the few distractions grandma had, was going to church. One day, I found out the reason priests adored her. Especially Father Fidel.

After taking communion, she gave him an envelope. Father Fidel volunteered to push her, even though the chair was battery-operated. 

They appeared to be good friends and grandma seemed to enjoy his company. I knew then, Father Fidel absolved her sins in advance, given the significant amount of her donations.

Grandma collected more than six thousand dollars a month from the eleven houses we owned. I took care of everything concerning the butcher shop while she was in charge of all our properties.

After my grandfather bought the little grocery store, he turned it into a butcher shop. Later, he bought the house next door. When grandpa died, my father bought all the houses in the entire block. Every time they put up a home for sale, he would buy it immediately. He would pay the whole amount in cash.

Ana Suarez owned the only house on the block that didn’t belong to us. I heard rumors she had an affair with grandpa a long time ago. Grandma hated that lady with all her heart. The fact that we didn’t own that house had been a matter of great obsession for grandma. It bothered me a little bit too.

A single mother and her teenage daughter rented one of the other houses. One day, that lady asked me if I could give a job to her daughter.  Since dad had gone back to Mexico, work had been overwhelming. So I gave her a job. Her name was Leticia.

The store seemed out of place in that deteriorated neighborhood. The exterior paint in the building was still fresh. The asphalt in the parking lot was still black. It had security cameras, and we had a contract with an exterminating company. During business hours, I felt safe with all my knives and hatchets.   

When I was a kid, my grandfather gave me a beautiful machete. He told me he used it in the jungles of Veracruz when he was a teenager. I kept it under my bed at all times. I thought I would never use it, until one night when I heard a noise in the store. I grabbed the machete and went to check, quiet as a cat. The back door was open. I found a guy trying to open the cash register.

The store was never in complete darkness, even with the lights off because of the lights inside the refrigerators. When the thief saw me, the expression on his face scared me too. He knew he was trapped. To escape, he had to pass by me. When he attacked me, my machete was already halfway between us. He tried to stop the blow with his left hand.

His hand and head went flying in different directions.

His beheaded body was spraying blood from the neck. His torso jerked on the floor for a few seconds. His head kept rolling until it landed on the back wall facing me with his arched eyebrows and wide-open eyes. I was sure he was trying to say, “What the hell?”

After hearing an unmistakable squeaking sound, grandma appeared on the back door. She moved her head slowly, examining the scene.  “I caught a thief trying to rob us, he attacked me, and I killed him. Should I call the police?” I asked, “No, they cause too much trouble.” She replied and went back to the house. After being around a butcher shop for forty years, seeing so much blood wasn’t so shocking to her anymore.

As I began to dismember his body, my dad came to mind. I realized, I didn’t miss him at all. On the contrary. I learned to appreciate my new freedom. I could breathe easier.

The thief looked familiar, I’ve seen him a few times in the park. He was in his twenties. Sometimes, he was with the group of winos, other times with the drug addicts, and other times with the gang members. He had several tattoos on his body. Nobody will miss him, I thought.

According to my calculations, the homeless in the park would have to be satisfied with half the hamburgers they had last time.




*****



One day, my new helper, Leticia asked me if I’ve seen the movie “Lolita”. With that question, she gave me a clear opinion about herself. She wasn’t interested in boys her age. The book by Vladimir Nabokov was about a nymphet or sexually precocious young girl. I had seen both film versions.

When I was Leticia’s age, I dreaded girls like Lolita. I felt intimidated by them. Girls like her, were in part the reason I was traumatized. Girls like her forced me to run and hide in the dark corners of my room. I enjoyed watching them from afar, but I never went near them.

I was sure a psychiatrist would find dozens of traumas in the dark alleys of my brain that profoundly affected my mind. In my teenage years, I went through many embarrassing moments that turned me into a pathetic shy person. I knew I was sanely insane or insane on the inside or something like that.

I was fascinated by that movie, by the boldness of the male character, and by Lolita’s seductive audacity. Girls like her were my greatest fear. And the male protagonist was the role model I could never be. Both of them were partly guilty of their actions, but I couldn’t blame only one side.

Leticia was attractive. Nothing specific stood out. Except for her breasts and her spunky, extroverted personality, she said she enjoyed that movie a lot. She said she felt attracted to older men. But not too old like the main character in the film. But like me, she said.

I was glad my back was facing her because my entire face was burning red.

“Yes, Leticia, I’ve seen that movie, why do you ask? Are you comparing yourself to her?”

I was seventeen years older than her. I was supposed to be a mature person, but I knew I wasn’t. My life had been a long procession of humiliation. Unnoticed by most people because I always walked away. At that moment, I was the adult in the room, I was the owner of the establishment, the boss, but I knew that a false reaction could send me to hide in my room.

“No, I’m just making a conversation,” and then she added, “Why don’t you have a girlfriend, boss?”

Shit! I just blushed in front of her. Damn it! I was losing ground. I better come up with something bold, I thought.

“Listen, Leticia, I never discuss my intimate life with anybody. But I know that when I find a girlfriend, she won’t be from this neighborhood.”

“Are we all low-lifers in this neighborhood for you, boss?”

“No, Leticia, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mean it like that. What I meant was that there are no cute girls in the neighborhood. Well, except for you, but you’re too young.”

“Okay, boss. Whatever you say. I know you’re right about the neighborhood. They’re a bunch of losers; I wouldn’t date any of them, besides there are no cute boys around here, well, except for you, but you’re too old.”

With her proximity and her cheerful nature, she might be able to lessen my stupid shyness. With her around, I had to confront my fears daily. Make them part of my regular life, get used to them, and who knows; maybe I would even conquer my fears once and for all.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, CA. 09-09-2012

CHAPTER IV


LIKE FATHER LIKE SON



My father and my grandfather used to get along fine. Their personalities were similar. They respected each other, but they were very old-fashioned and cold. But they weren’t always like that.

When I was a kid, they used to be playful. We used to go to the ocean, to amusement parks, we used to go fishing and camping. We were a regular family. When I turned eleven or twelve, Dad and Grandpa began to change. The transition was confusing to me. So, I stayed in the lonely comforts of my mind and became withdrawn and shy.

They began to treat me like an adult. After doing my homework, they would take turns to teach me how to be a butcher. 

Another change came when grandpa told dad about his intentions of retirement. My grandfather was eighty years old.

“I’m tired, son, I’ve been thinking about selling the place and retiring to Mexico, I’ve lasted as long as I could. I should have retired ten years ago, but they say that you die two years after retirement, so I cheated death for at least eight years already. Your mom and I are going back to Mexico.”

“But dad, you can’t do that, you can’t sell the shop. What are we going to do?” he asked with a preoccupied look on his face.

“I’ll leave you some money so you can start your own business or you can get a job at the big new supermarket. They need a lot of butchers. Or better yet, you and Angel can come with us. We’re buying a small ranch in Jalisco. You are welcome to stay with us.”

“But Dad, I’ve worked all my life for you. I’m forty-four years old. How can I start working for somebody else, and how can I follow you to your retirement ranch? That makes no sense.”

“Listen, son, I can say the same thing. I’ve worked all my life for you. What am I supposed to do, retire to nothing, with nothing? You can always sell your house or save some money like I did when I was twenty years old. We don’t need to fight over this. The decision is final. We don’t need to discuss it any longer.”

A couple of weeks later, grandpa was dead.

At my dad’s suggestion, we went fishing in the Sequoia Mountains. The three generations, making our last trip together. My grandfather Genaro was eighty years old, my father Ramiro was forty-four years old. I was fourteen years old.

Our favorite spot to fish was a narrow wooden bridge above a beautiful creek. 

From the unpaved parking place, we still had to walk uphill for half an hour. We were on the bridge preparing our rods and bait to get ready to fish all day. After a few minutes, dad said he forgot the lunch box and asked me to fetch it from behind the truck. 

On my way back, through a clearing in the woods, I could see the bridge. As I hiked a little higher, I could see them at the rocky bottom of the stream. I could barely see dad lifting a rock above his head and hitting my grandpa with it. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Was it real? It was like watching a silent movie, with no sound, just movements.

I rubbed my eyes, and when I opened them again, I saw the same image, dad was killing grandpa. I began to run to save grandpa, but I was too far. Then, I thought if I intervened, Dad would have to kill me too. 

After all, grandpa retired to Mexico, but in a coffin and without grandma. He always said he wanted to end up in a Mexican cemetery. We fulfilled his wish and went to bury him there.

Dad turned colder and meaner after that day. I never told him that I saw him killing grandpa. It would have been useless. If I had reported the crime, they would have taken dad to prison. I was afraid. I never said anything to grandma either.

My dad told the police that grandpa slipped on the bridge and fell. They believed his entire story.

The following day, dad opened the store as a sole proprietor.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca. 09-16-2012

*** A new chapter will be posted next Saturday, Sept-25-2021

ANGEL OF DEATH Chapters I and II

Chapters One and Two

After many years of abuse a troubled man gets his revenge. First, he kills his father, whom he deeply hates. When he accidentally kills a thief, a serial killer is born. His loving grandmother becomes an eager accomplice. To get rid of the bodies he begins to feed the homeless, winos, and drug addicts that gather in a decrepit park across the street from his butcher shop.

Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca. September 2012



CHAPTER I

GRANDMA

The prolonged mental abuse my dad inflicted on me created long-lasting scars on my mind. He never abused me physically. But the negative impact of his cruel comments contributed to my weak mind.

My dad was the first person I killed. I never reported him missing and I never filed a police report. I just said to anyone who asked that he had decided to retire to Mexico and that he was staying there indefinitely. But in reality, I made him disappear.

My grandfather Genaro was born in Mexico in 1912 during the Mexican revolution. In the 1930s, he immigrated to the United States. At first, he worked in the fields of Central California. After four years, he saved enough money to buy a small grocery store which he later converted into a butcher shop. When my grandfather died my dad kept the shop and bought the house next door. 

We connected the butcher shop to the house by building a hallway between the two properties. Our house was behind the butcher shop.

My occupation required being in constant contact with my customers. Butchers, like barbers and taxi drivers are very communicative. They develop an extroverted personality that they adopt for the rest of their lives. In my case, after I closed the shop I became quiet even in my thoughts. 

My grandfather was a big man. He had dark brown skin and a heavy mustache. The hard work in the fields and later, the heavy chores in the butcher shop made him strong as a bull. When he died, he was eighty years old, and he could still lift a quarter of a cow to a six-foot-high hook. Whenever he comes to my mind, he appears wearing his apron. The only time I saw him wearing a suit was in his coffin.

My grandpa never learned how to speak English. My father did, but he never absorbed the American culture. He always felt he was a hundred percent Mexican. My grandpa never pushed dad to go further than high school. I had the choice to go to college, but I never consider it seriously. I always thought I was going to end up in charge of the family business. Some of my Mexican friends said my dad looked like Pancho Villa. His name was Ramiro.

When my dad died, he left me the shop and eleven houses surrounding the shop. The entire block was ours. We lived in one of the houses and rented the rest. I guess we were rich, but I never felt or looked like a rich person. Maybe because we never learned how to spend our money.

My grandma was eighty years old. She had been in a wheelchair for the last few years. She had bad knees, and she lost her ability to speak when she slipped in the kitchen and hit her head on the countertop. Her name was Sandra. She was my only friend.

Her head injury caused damage to the left side of her brain. She developed a rare speech disorder called aphasia. Within days she became mute. Partial recovery was possible, but that depended on the age of the patient and motivation. None of that was in her favor. 

The doctor recommended treatment with a speech therapist, but she only attended a few sessions. She claimed the therapist didn’t speak Spanish properly.

I bought her a wheelchair when the increasing pain in her knees prevented her from doing all the things she used to enjoy. The wheelchair remained unused for months until I stopped begging her to use it. Once she started using it, the pain in her knees went away. She never walked again. She was a quiet person.

Like my grandfather, my grandma never learned to speak English and hated anybody that didn’t speak Spanish, including Americans. She still considered California to be part of Mexico.

One day, before she lost her speech, a brown-skinned boy, obviously of Mexican descent, started talking to her in English, and she told him, “Aprende a hablar en español como tu papá, mocoso!” (Learn to speak Spanish like your dad, brat!) And she became furious when he responded, “Learn how to speak English, like your grandson, old lady!” I couldn’t help but laugh, but I turned away so grandma wouldn’t notice.

I began to cook after watching grandma struggle around the kitchen. She was still able to attend to her needs. Her hygiene had been impeccable all her life in all aspects of our lives. Tidiness was high on the list of her virtues. The house and the butcher shop were always clean too.

We installed wider doors and ramps so she could gain access to every room in the house. She could do anything but cook. After some time, I became a decent cook. 

I enjoyed her company, and the fact that she couldn’t verbally criticize me made me feel like I didn’t have so many flaws. I loved our one-way conversations. Her face became very expressive, and I could read all the gestures and signals. She wasn’t very devoted or virtuous, but she spent a lot of time in church.

The butcher shop was in front of the Lincoln Oval Park, a small, decrepit park where the homeless and drug addicts spent their leisure time doing nothing. It was the poor side of town where most Mexicans used to live. Having the police station two blocks away wasn’t a deterrent to crime and violence in the area. There were four second-hand stores in the neighborhood, including the Salvation Army. 

The place was in Visalia, in Central California. Population: one hundred thousand. The biggest attraction was the Sequoia National Park, thirty minutes east of town. Agriculture and dairy were the primary labor sources.

The business at the shop was good, considering the bad economy and the high unemployment rate.

My name is Angel.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca, 08-27-2012




CHAPTER II

MY FATHER




The name of my father was Ramiro. He had demons like me. My grandma said I was his replica. If Grandma was right, then I was a total screw-up.

He was always home, but to me, he was always absent. He was a good provider, though. I never knew what hunger was, I always had shoes on my feet, but that was basic stuff. What he lacked was more important than that. It would have been better to be a poor kid with a great dad than a rich kid with a bad dad.

When I killed my father, I was thirty years old. I had endured over a decade of false accusations from him. He accused me of being gay. I repressed my rage and resisted his suspicions and insults quietly. He never knew how badly he wounded my pride with his sarcasm. He would say: “You’d make me happy if you bring a girlfriend, but if you bring a faggot like you, I kill you.”

And the more he accused me of being gay, the harder he made it for me to take the decisive steps to find a girlfriend.

I didn’t understand the reason why he was so homophobic. He acted like a typical Mexican macho man. I wasn’t gay. I was shy and never learned how to behave in front of women. My dad had just worsened my traumas with years of constant false accusations.

One time, I finally had enough and said, “Dad, I’m not gay, please stop suggesting that I am because I’m not.” and he responded, “The day you impregnate a girl, I’ll stop thinking you’re a faggot.”

I even thought I wasn’t trying hard enough to find a girl just not to give him the satisfaction. And the years passed. I had had sex once in a while with prostitutes, but it was never satisfying, as for a long-term relationship with a regular girl, it seemed impossible.

The irony of it all was that my father had not been a playboy either. He was as shy as I was. Grandpa had to take dad to Mexico to find a wife for him. My dad was fortunate to have found my mom, but I couldn’t say the same for mom. After dad died, I stopped feeling so miserable.

One day, a friend of mine showed up at the shop. I introduced him to my dad. After my friend finished his shopping, my dad told him, “You should take my son out one of these days and help him find a girlfriend or a boyfriend. I still don’t know what he likes.” In an instant, I felt the heat coming out of my face. It was by far the most embarrassing moment of my life. I dropped my apron and went out through the back door.

That night I killed my dad.

I went to my room, sat on the bed, and started crying. Then, I heard the squeaking sound of a wheelchair. Grandma looked at me with her sad face. Her bright black eyes had two sparkling tears in them. I just shook my head. She knew my dad was the only person that could make me feel so sad. Without saying a word, grandma was able to comfort me with a simple hug. But it wasn’t enough.

Before she left the room, she mentioned that she suspected dad had killed my mom.

For a second, I thought about killing myself, but instead, I decided to kill him. The shop was closed when I came back. Dad was in the walk-in refrigerator. All I had to do was to slide the bolt. Through the small glass window on the door, I could see the shock in his eyes. 

As if nothing had happened and without any remorse, I went to the kitchen and started cooking dinner. At the table, looking at the empty chair, grandma questioned his whereabouts. I moved my head sideways and shrugged. 

It was past midnight when I went back to check the situation. Seven hours had passed after I locked my dad. Before I opened the refrigerator, I noticed some words written on the fogged-up glass window. At first, I thought it was something written from the inside. When I figured out what it said, I knew somebody had written it from the outside. It said, “ti evresed uoy”. 

I saw dad in the corner, lying down on the floor in the fetal position. He had been cold all his life, but in that moment, he was just frozen dead. The temperature there was -10 degrees F. I could never stay in that room for more than three minutes. 

I was a little nervous because I thought he could still be alive. But he was as hard as the rest of the meat in there. I grabbed the meat hook to move his body, but I thought it was disrespectful. Instead, I dragged him out of there by his feet.

First, I sawed off his head with a hand saw because he was too heavy to lift to the band saw table, so I dismembered his extremities. His blood was frozen, so I wasn’t too worried about making a whole mess.

For the first time in my life, I wasn’t afraid of hearing back about his sarcastic comments. With unrelated sentences and with short intervals in between, I began:

“I told you a thousand times that I wasn’t gay,” Then, I cut in between his ribs, from the neck to the stomach.

“Grandma was right. You deserve it,” Then, I removed his intestines.

“You’ll never meet your grandchildren,” Then, I removed his cold heart.

“You won’t be so cold in hell,” Then, I cut off his penis.

“Even your mother hated you,” Then, I turned him over.

“You won’t be calling me all those ugly epithets with your filthy mouth, like faggot, gay, homo, homosexual,” then, I sliced his buttocks.

“I saw you killing grandpa, you cold-hearted bastard!”

 Then, I grabbed his decapitated head by the hair and put it in front of my face.

“Did you kill my mom, mother fucker, did you kill her? Answer me, you piece of shit!”

I had to use all the equipment in the shop, three different knives, a cleaver, a skinner, and a cimeter. Also, the handsaw, the table saw, and the meat grinder. I sawed all the bones to three inches or less, even his cranium. Nobody would recognize those bones as human bones. Intestines and organs went straight to the trash, including his sexual organ, ugh! I put it all in a tightly sealed double heavy-duty plastic bag and in a separate bag all the bones. Hands and feet had to be cut into tiny pieces and then to the grinder.

Out of two hundred and fifty pounds, I could get only sixty pounds of ground meat. On Saturday morning, the homeless, winos, and drug addicts had free hamburgers. Dad was finally giving back to the community for years of loyal support.

I ended up with a big mess after all. I was glad dad had installed tile on all walls and floors, with Stainless steel equipment, a commercial water pressure washer, and plenty of drains. When I finished, the place looked shiny new again. The shop was free of bacteria and parasites. My dad was finally gone. Hallelujah!

Mexicans had a few exclusive advantages. For instance, we could kill another Mexican, and if somebody asked for him, we could answer: “He went back to Mexico, indefinitely.”

The next day, I opened the “Carnicería Jalisco” or “Jalisco Meat Market” for the first time as a sole proprietor.



Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, CA. 09-02-2012

*** A new chapter will be posted next Saturday, Sept-18-2021

CUCA

The short film about this story is out. Watch it on Youtube at the end of the post. Thanks. Let me know if you like it.

Accomplished Ignorant – Short Stories / Short Films –

A JOURNAL

(Watch the short film at the end of the story/post.)

I could still remember the moment I became a pacifist, an animal lover, and a defender of animal rights. From that moment on, I also turned into a better person.

That day, while playing in the backyard and armed with a flyswatter I squashed a butterfly with it. My big brother witnessed the act, became upset, and sad, and then he gave me a lecture I would never forget.

“That
butterfly probably had a family; it probably had babies that needed to
be fed. Everybody loves butterflies, they’re beautiful to see, and
they’re tender creatures. The way they fly and the way they move, it
brings happiness to everyone. All living creatures have a right to live.
Even if it is a cockroach or a mosquito, or a bee, you should respect
their lives. Only if you’re attacked…

View original post 1,198 more words

NINE MONTHS

I came to life this very instant. What an amazing feeling to be able to expand my tiny chest with pride and happiness for the first time, my new world is inside my mom. My mom and dad made me out of pure love. I’m the center of the universe. I’m perfect and innocent, free of sin. I wish I can continue like this until my last breath. 

I already believe in God because I know He made me. After all, He allowed my parents to create me. This is truly a miracle to suddenly appear in paradise, the most perfect place in the world . . . my mom’s womb. I’m the king inside my mom, spoiled with immense love, constantly fed, floating in space, and always protected. I will show her my love every day of my life. She gave me life and I will give my life back to her.

The job of a mother never ends. I will learn everything I can from my parents because in time I’ll be a father too. I need to repay the favor to my own children. I’ll keep that in mind at all times. All the love I receive I’ll transfer to my descendants. 

I’m a tiny human being. For now, my mom breathes for me, but my heart already beats. Maybe one day, if God allows, I will have my mom’s inner beauty.

I spend most of my time moving around in the comforts of this marvelous castle exercising my little arms and legs. My head is as big as the rest of my body. I can sense all of my mom’s feelings, I feel happy when she’s happy and agonize when she’s sad. 

It’s warm in here, peaceful and dark, but each passing day I see a little more light.

I just found out I can hug myself. I love to touch my skin. I just noticed I can put my thumb in my mouth. Oh, and I can touch my toes too!

I love it when mommy wakes up and goes to the window to show me the sun, the sky, and the trees. I can hear the birds sing and the dogs bark. When it rains, she tells me that millions of raindrops fall from the clouds and the grass gets wet, and all the land too. I love it when she describes all these things to me. I can’t wait to come out and see all these creatures and things God created for me. I enjoy it when  she rubs her tummy and talks to me and explains the facts of life and begs me to be a good boy so I can gain access to paradise again.

When she listens to her lovely music and starts to dance I dance with her. She is indeed my most precious treasure, but the thing I love the most above all things in this universe is when she sings to me with her sweet voice. It sounds like a choir of angels. I adore you mom. I’m in a special place and I’ll never forget the unselfish love my mom gives me every day.

Soon, I’ll look into her eyes and show her how much I love her.

I know the love I’ll give her for the rest of my life won’t be enough for what she’s done for me for the last nine months.





EDMUNDO BARRAZA
Visalia, Ca. Jan-26-2012






Milk of Amnesia

Recovery Room


When I woke up from my involuntary Propofol trip I was in the recovery room. I was lying on an ambulatory bed. There were five people in the room. A male nurse was removing tubes and needles from my arm. He appeared to be Latino. Next to me there was another bed with a female patient on it, I couldn’t tell what her race was. A young white female nurse was helping her. Across the room I could barely see an Asian head rising above the counter of a tall desk. It took me two seconds to recognize him, he was my anesthesiologist. And that’s when I began my interminable blabbering . . . 

“There you are my friend, you know what? I love Asian guys, most of you guys are educated, respectful, and you know what else, I’ve never seen an Asian wino or homeless asking for money outside liquor stores. Oh, but now I remember race has nothing to do with it besides I bet you’re a hundred percent American. You must be proud of your race, and most of you are handsome too. Ah, but I also like Blacks and Latinos like me, and Hindu people are nice too. Let’s not forget Whites, sometimes they’re nice too, and the good thing about them is that they never get offended like us, ‘the minorities’. Hey Doc, what did you use to sedate me? I feel really, really good. I feel mellow, relaxed, I feel like a hippie. I want to share my euphoria and cheerfulness. Did you put some weed in the mix? Can I have some of that stuff before I go? Do veterinarians use that stuff too? I’ve read they could use some of that stuff for human executions, that can’t be true, but if they do, then it’s a good way to die, it’s like a reward. Better than the chair anyway. How could someone not get addicted to this wonderful drug? In this ‘world’ everybody is nice”.

That drug was hitting my sympathetic nervous system for sure.

Somehow, the Propofol was going straight to the section of my brain where I had stored the ideas for the short film I wanted to create. When I came out of the operating room, I was feeling like a director, like an actor, like a cinematographer. It was unbelievably cool. I, myself was the camera, my eyes were the camera. And it was very easy to handle, no need to focus, no need for a dolly or a Steadicam, all I had to do was turn my head. The moment I opened my eyes I started filming. And I was watching the movie. I swear to God I was watching the MOVIE at the same time. You have to believe me, I was filming with my eyes. I first focused on my nurse: 

FADE IN:
INT. HOSP. RECOVERY ROOM – DAY

No one was saying a word, all of them were smiling. The other nurse was moving her head sideways and looking at me from the corner of her eye, and her patient was rolling her eyes, and I kept going . . . “tell me Doc, (I was still referring to my anesthesiologist) if you were sick, would you like to be attended in this hospital or would you rather go to the Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills? Would you rather have a graduate Doctor from UCLA or from another country like Mexico or India or Russia or . . .  oh, but what a silly question, I forgot doctors don’t get sick. I bet that before they die they inject themselves with Propofol. Hey! I just remember that movie with Michael Caine, what’s it called? Oh yeah, “Cider House Rules” that’s right! The Doctor keeps self-medicating ether. Anyway, he was always in a good mood. He loved all the kids in the orphanage and all the princes of Maine and all the kings of New England too.”



Operating Room



When I entered the operating room this was the scene: I’ll try to be as accurate as possible. There were nine or ten people in that room. They were all young. Four females and five males. All the girls appeared to be in their twenties. I only knew the name of one of them. Janet Lee, she was probably the oldest, in her late twenties, I think. The anesthesiologist was Asian too. I remembered I asked him what kind of anesthesia he was going to use on me, and he said  Propofol. I’ve met most of them before, but I didn’t catch their names. I didn’t capture any foreign accents on any of them, but several races were involved in the group. Asian, Hispanics, Whites, and African-Americans. But to me, they were all Americans. The room had such an air of universality that I wanted to start singing “It’s a Small World”. I felt like I was in Disneyland. The moment I entered the room I felt safe. They were young, they seemed to be smart and well educated, they were very friendly, and in a good mood. Seeing so many happy faces in a single room made me happy. They were having fun helping sick people and enjoying their jobs. It was definitely a group of young talented people. The future of America seemed bright in this room. 


Prep Room



I waited for seven hours, from 9 to 4 in the prep room. The friendly group that was going to perform the surgery had come in waves to ask the usual questions about my medical record, allergies, medications, and other information about my health. But I wasn’t prepared to spend so many hours doing nothing; I didn’t fall asleep, so I kept thinking about a project I had in mind: 

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was the theme for the next Germ Film Festival in Fresno, Ca. I had to develop a five-minute short film around that movie, or book. So I had seven hours to think about that project. I knew it wasn’t easy. The story involved racial inequality, a false accusation of rape, mental and physical abuse. A humble and ethical lawyer, a mentally challenged neighbor, and a jury made out of twelve White persons. All told from the point of view of a ten-year-old girl. I loved the movie. Gregory Peck was absolutely perfect for the role, and the three kids were great, as was everybody else. But the story by Harper Lee was incredibly amazing. Another thing that I found amazing was that things haven’t changed a lot since then, it’s very sad. People like Donald Trump are ruining the situation even more. Ignorant intolerant persons like him are interfering with America to become a better country. It’s very sad indeed. America and the whole world had spent the entire twentieth century struggling to improve human relations, trying to erase hatred from the human mind, I thought it was working. But now my opinion has changed. It seems that we have to endure another century in the same conditions.

Anyway, the theme was complicated, it had too many characters. A lot of scenes had to be considered, and several locations were going to be needed. It was just too hard, and I still had to take into account the zero-dollar-budget. I found “To Kill a Mockingbird” very hard to transform into a five-minute-movie. I thought that maybe I could turn it into a parody and name it: “Tequila Mockingbird” and maybe I could turn the characters into their complete opposite, I thought about an all group of black people in the jury, and change the color of the skin of the ‘rapist’, and have a different type of lawyer, like Paul Newman in “The Verdict”, drunk and down on his luck, (hence the title) or have the ten-year-old girl kill all the bad characters in the movie with a slingshot. But I couldn’t find anything satisfying or convincing. I lost seven hours thinking about it. In the end, I decided to let it go and try something else. And just when I thought I had material for another story. They came for me, to shoot me with an injection full of Propofol.  

When I was wheeled out of the hospital, I felt something was wrong. I felt terrible, I didn’t say thanks to anybody. I didn’t even shake their hands. I bet they’re used to that. But it’s not that I was ungrateful it was just unexpected, one second I was in and the next I was out. I didn’t even see the doctor who performed the surgery or anybody else except for the anesthesiologist. The worst thing about it was that I didn’t have any energy to return and hug and kiss everybody.

You might not believe this but Michael Jackson was singing “Black and White” in the radio when I turned on the car. Right away, I thought that song could be perfect for the movie I just saw inside my brain. It also came to my mind that he had overdosed and died on Propofol. 

But I’m sure Michael had been watching a great movie too. 




Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. 01-11-2016




AMERIKKKA

*This is a short story in the form of a film script.

INT. interrogation room


A man, SUSPECT (30-40 year-old Latino) wears an ORANGE UNIFORM.

He sits on a chair at the end of a table, facing the only door in the room.

The door opens, FBI AGENT PEREZ (40s, Latino, tall and well built) appears in a dark blue suit. He wears an identifying FBI badge around his neck.

The FBI Agent sits on a chair on the opposite side of the long table.

The Agent re-accommodates his gun and the holster as he sits in the chair.

A camera on a tripod records the conversation.

AGENT PEREZ

I’m with the FBI. I’m Agent Perez. I need to ask you some questions.

SUSPECT

Shoot. I mean, go ahead.

—Agent Perez takes a note pad and pen from his jacket.

AGENT PEREZ

All facts point to you as the culprit. So, I’m going straight to the point. Why did you kill him?

SUSPECT

He was bad for America. He was a racist ignorant. Half America wanted to get rid of him.

AGENT PEREZ

Half America?

SUSPECT

Yes, America always had its share of racist and hateful people. But they were hiding in the shadows.

AGENT PEREZ

Did somebody pay you to do it?

SUSPECT

There was no money involved at all.

—The suspect takes a sip from a plastic soft drink.

SUSPECT

Do you know how many psychos blame the devil for their crimes? Well, in this case God made me do it.

AGENT PEREZ

Did you do it for political reasons?

SUSPECT

I don’t even vote.

AGENT PEREZ

Did you have any accomplices?

SUSPECT

I did it all by myself, but God was guiding me. I was never afraid of failing.

AGENT PEREZ

Are you a religious fanatic?

SUSPECT

Believing in God doesn’t make me a fanatic.

AGENT PEREZ

Have you killed anyone before?

SUSPECT

No. He was the only person I hated in the world.

AGENT PEREZ

Did you enjoy killing him?

SUSPECT

I enjoyed getting rid of him.

AGENT PEREZ

Do you consider yourself a hero?

SUSPECT

Absolutely not, but let the people decide. In any case, I don’t care.

—Agent Perez re-arranges his gun and holster, which seems to be uncomfortable in the small chair. 

AGENT PEREZ

What punishment do you think you deserve?

SUSPECT

Are you kidding me? Heaven will be my reward and my victim will be fighting for supremacy in hell. Too bad hell doesn’t have beautiful walls.

AGENT PEREZ

You sound like a terrorist when you say, ‘Heaven will be my reward’.

SUSPECT

Oh yeah, you’re right! . . .  but I know I’m not.

AGENT PEREZ

Do you think you helped him prove his point to say you are rapists and criminals?

SUSPECT

You can’t blame six million people for the actions of one person.

AGENT PEREZ

Don’t you think he could have changed?

—The suspect leans on the table and looks directly at the camera.

SUSPECT

It’s impossible for an asshole not to smell like shit all the time.

AGENT PEREZ

Do you have any regrets?

SUSPECT

Maybe just one. I wish I had killed myself right after I did it.

AGENT PEREZ

Well, if you’re lucky you’ll get the death penalty, but if they give you life, it’s going to get boring.

—The FBI Agent removes his gun and holster and puts it on the table.

—The Agent pulls his chair.

AGENT PEREZ

Anyway, good luck, I guess.

—Agent Perez stands up and walks out of the room.

—He leaves his gun behind.

—After a brief moment, a shot is heard.

C/U – Outside, Agent Perez’s face shows a faint smile.

Fade Out

“The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people.”
—Noam Chomsky.

Edmundo Barraza

Lancaster, Ca. May-10-2016

A Box of Grapes

Visalia grapes are of the best quality in Central California and certainly in the entire State of California, probably better than in the entire USA and possibly in the whole world, without falling in the awful sin of exaggeration.

At least that’s what Juanito thought. Juanito was a third-grader at Elbow Creek elementary school. His dad worked in the fields where after a ten-hour work day, each worker was allowed to take a free box of grapes. That day, his dad proudly gave it to Juanito and said, “Here son, the whole box is just for you. You don’t need to share it with anyone. You have my permission to be selfish just this one time.”

Juanito ate three of them and thought it was the most delicious fruit he ever tasted in his entire short life. The grapes were as big as walnuts.

But Juanito wasn’t selfish. Before taking another one, he thought about his P. E. teacher. He liked him a lot because he had been paying special attention to him. Juanito had been losing weight. He was feeling better about himself. He was almost at his normal weight, so he decided to give the box of grapes to his teacher Mr. White.

Mr. White appreciated the gesture, and that gave him more strength to continue doing a good job. He ate three grapes, but before he took another one, he thought about Mr. Red, the Principal, and how he had always supported him; therefore, he gave the box of grapes to him.

Mr. Red, who loved the democratic ways of a fair institution, thanked Mr. White effusively and tasted only three grapes. He thought they were delicious, but before he was tempted to take another one, he thought about Mr. Grey, the Math teacher. Mr. Grey had nominated him for the Principal of the Year Award, he thought he deserved the grapes.

Mr. Grey, the Math teacher, counted the grapes. He made some numbers and calculations and concluded that he could also take three grapes. Then Mr. Black, the Science teacher, came to his mind. After all, he had recommended him for the post. Because of him he had obtained the teaching job, he gave the box of grapes to Mr. Black.

Mr. Black was very thankful and tried to figure out the shape, weight, configuration, evolving time from seed to maturity, its nucleus, and particles by tasting three of them. Before grabbing another one, he thought about Mr. Blue, the History teacher, who had been his temporary replacement while he was in the hospital and had done an excellent job with his kids.

Mr. Blue was grateful and immediately thought about the Mayflower, the pilgrims and the Indians, and about the graciousness of historical figures who gave their all to their countries. After he took the last grapes, he thought about Mr. Pink, the janitor, and gave him the empty box of grapes and told him, “Mr Pink, would you please throw this box in the trash?”

Mr. Pink wasn’t too agreeable to comply but did it anyway. Although he was happy with his job and had made a decent living, he said to himself, “If there’s such a thing as reincarnation, I’ll make sure next time not to be a High School dropout because I don’t want to be in charge of the trash.”




EDMUNDO BARRAZA
Visalia, CA. 12-29-2011