Mom was in the doorway. It was Sunday. It was her big outing. Auntie Pia was coming to collect her to go to Sunday services. The church was only three blocks away, but the stones and the uphill path was too much for her old feet and bones. Pia was younger by twenty years and drove a blue pickup truck. During the week Pia hauled bananas and other fruit she grew to the markets nearby.
Mom always stood in the doorway a good hour before Pia arrived. She wore her almost white dress. It used to be white, but years and years of washing had faded it to more ivory. I never asked her why she stood so early in the doorway. Was she so eager to get out of the house? I wouldn’t blame her. All she did was cook for me and care for my brother who was plagued by the devil. All my brother did was lay twisted on his bed all day. His arms were contorted into odd angles and his left leg was stiff too, toes pointed and all. I thought it was ironic that his name was Angél. Mom’s life wasn’t a very good life, but that was what life was like for a poor, old lady in this part of the world: caretaker.
I’d gambled the money away Mom gave me to get eggs and potatoes so breakfast was beans, tortillas, and jalapeños- again.
I heard Pia’s truck pull up outside. She and Mom started talking loudly, Pia through her car window and Mom at the doorway. They would continue talking the entire trip to the church. They had known each other a lifetime yet still chatted as though they were school girls.
I heard their car doors slam shut, waited for the truck to pull away, and picked up my satchel. I left just a few minutes after mom and began walking down the central pathway of the rancho. The old adobe homes were painted all the colors of Easter. Some were newly painted, other were scarred with time and erosion. Skinny, feral dogs ran through the street in packs. From this vantage point, Lupé could see the Pacific Ocean. It was a good 10 km away, but it might as well be 1000 km for all the times he had gone to it.
Once he got to the edge of the rancho Lupé held back the jungle and walked down a small path. His machéte hacked at the encroaching foliage as he made his way down the path. It wasn’t long before he was wet with sweat from the humid air and physical activity. It took him an hour or so but he finally arrived at the Rio El Corte. It was summer so it was running full fueled by the regular monsoon rains they experienced every other day or so.
He had heard the rush of the river long before his eyes saw the river. He loved that sound.
Finally, he broke out of the jungle and his eyes took in the power of El Corte, water rushed dangerously from the mountain system behind him on its way to the Pacific. The river didn’t have beaches; rather, large boulders formed the banks. There was a large flat rock that he sat upon whenever he made the trek down to the river. He reached into his satchel and removed the home rolled joint and searched for the lighter with his other hand. His felt along the bottom of the satchel and searched again. He pulled his hand out and let his head drop. He’d forgotten his lighter. After a pause, he thought he left it sitting on the concrete block beside his bed.
He swore under his breath.
He swore under his breath again.
He put his hands behind him, propping up his body. His fingers felt the rock below him and he turned to look at the engravings that covered most of the rocks. No one knew where the engravings came from, they’d been there longer than his town had been there, and that was a long time. Every once in awhile gringos would come to their rancho with new clothes and shiny cars. They’d pay someone in town to lead them to the engravings. Those were good days. They would sometimes pay 200 pesos, an entire days’ wage for the hour walk down to the river.
He looked at the carvings and wondered where they came from or what they meant. The gringos would talk about the carvings being called “hieroglyphs”. That was a word
He looked at the carvings and wondered where they came from or what they meant. The gringos would talk about them being something called “hieroglyphs”. That was a word he’d heard and largely forgotten. To him, and the people in the rancho, they were just signs. The old people, higher up in the mountains, who called themselves The Cora, had said from time to time the carvings were signs.
Lupé wondered for a few seconds about what kind of signs these carvings were. Did they mean their town would be given gold from the gods? Did it mean they would be lifted up into the sky with aliens? Lupé laughed to himself and thought ‘maybe they could tell him where his fucking lighter was.’
René Moreno, State of Nayarit, Mexico