Readings by Cristina García and Dariel Suarez

I thought I would do a maybe something slightly different um not too different than then reading at you for the 30 minutes that I've been allotted and I'm gonna reach you for my latest book called here in Berlin in spite of the title there are a couple of Cubans in here but mostly not and but I thought it's fun since these are all little sections in the conceit of the book is that an unnamed visitor goes to Berlin in the spring summer of 2013 or 12 and she goes around she goes on one mission which is to collect stories of what's left of the Cuban diaspora the detritus of Cuba's long association with the Soviet bloc and then she gets there and realizes except for a music festival she can't find Cubans anywhere and so instead she begins her wanderings starts cranking up her creaky German from college and starts collecting stories and so these stories are anywhere from you know two or three pages to seven or eight pages not much longer so I'll read a few of those but in between I'd love to take a question maybe two just to get us get the conversation going a little sooner and then of course we're gonna have the larger Q&A at the end how does that sound as a mo okay okay great so I think I'll start with a short piece called double ganger now hang on a second I could never go wrong 79 and I think it's pretty self-explanatory these are all self-contained stories the main thing to remember is that these are stories being told to this visitor the person talking is Dagmar trapped and it begins with a quote by Rilke is not your dream to be one day invisible so this is a Dagmar talking I don't know about my German accent we'll see it never happens anymore got sight onk but it lasted a good 20 years when Ava Brown killed herself I was just another 12 year old on the outskirts of Berlin for a long time very few people knew who ever was who she'd become before dying alongside the Fuhrer his bunker bride of 40 hours after the war photographs of the two of them surfaced many taken by her she'd started out as a photographer you know in Ava became a national obsession by the 50s we knew everything there was to know about her as it happened liebe I came to resemble her to an astronomer Greek wild speculations began to circulate that Ava was still alive that sheep had spotted at the farmers market in Lichtenberg my hometown but she was working as a shop girl at cart even selling French perfume that was me but she changed her name to Trudy Stern and was appearing on stage and Berlin's theatrical French that too for a brief time wasn't it is a shadow followed me everywhere though we were nearly identical physically i cultivated it other resemblances arranging my hair like hers practicing her furor adoring gaze even adopting two Scottish terrier as her preferred pets I walked mine daily in the tier garden in part I admitted to hear the gaping passers-by whispering could it be her there's no worse celebrity than being mistaken for somebody else worse still when that somebody is a celebrity by association not by her own achievement so to answer your question yeah I became notorious not meaninglessly so and twice-removed it's difficult not to sound melodramatic but I blame my likeness to Ava for ruining my youth by the time I was 33 the age my doppelganger cracked that cyanide vial between her pretty teeth like divorced three husbands and suffered multiple suitors all of whom were wrapped with distorted longing for her my third husband gevalt was a biscuit manufacturer who used to blow kisses at me like a schoolboy but he like the others was terrified to touch me for our wedding night he had a special altar built on which he instructed me to lie naked motionless as a corpse in strewn with rose petals the gavel killed a halo of candles around my head muttering Hail Marys and gazing at me for hours fortunately out of wasps settlement left me financially comfortable enough to purchase this Charlottenburg flat I'm right around the corner from all the lovely antique shops and spas salsa you know I'm quite susceptible to knickknacks I can't help myself anyway after the disaster of my last marriage oh I put a stop to the AVA charade by dyeing my hair black and penciling on a facial mole then I promptly gained 10 kilos by gorging on cured meats and hazelnuts it was a relief finally to be invisible I returned to my job selling perfume at qaddafi where I remained until I retired 16 years ago you know I broke every sales record for my French company and was twice awarded vacations in Paris my dear let's not enclose ourselves in doors today the lilacs are in bloom in the acacia sneer lease Oh soon my life will be over but you you're still a young woman do you have a husband no why 54 is the prime of life just wait until you reach my age we may wish to avert our eyes from decay but it's our natural stage after all what is more ravaging than time in truth my old life feels no longer than this languorous spring day tell me how is that possible most mornings I stroll the grounds of the Charlottenburg Palace as I once did the chia garden it's faded grandeur reminds me that everyone in everything however sublime must pass so that's one of the 30-something voices in this book any questions so far yes I know oh you just moved it's like an auction you move and I'm like raiser 50 okay yes Ralph well the the voices kind of came like I very much like the visitor a kind of alter ego character for me I did go to Berlin for four months and for the same mission a friend of mine told me this story that you could that he had reconstituted his grandmother's spanish-language library among the booksellers of Berlin and I thought I have to go what what else is there what else is left of of Cuba and Cubans and in even in my own family I had an uncle who had studied in Moscow might I have an aunt I've never met who's Russian a cousin named Vladimir you know I mean all of these interesting cross-cultural arrangements and fusions and and so that's why I went to Berlin and liked the visitor I didn't really find much evidence much to my shock of that decades-long association and so I just began to wonder kind of lost and and then I just started picking up stories I read a lot of history I went to a Zumba class made friends here with the teacher who was a former Olympic speed skater you know I just started meeting people hearing stories and then finding opportunities almost like these little slits in history where I thought huh I want to come up with someone at that peculiar juncture of history and so that's how these voices came in initially there were over a hundred of them which I edited down to current 30-something luckily for all of us but yeah it was like it was like a serial possession I guess you could say yeah yes about the double ganger yeah well I think it's it's it's a concept that interests me a lot and and I think about Cuba as a unit divided you know Cubans on the island without diasporic Cuba including the exiles and others Berlin also was a city divided you know forcibly divided and so I think when you're not just but I think one of the crazy perks of these divisions is that you always have these mirrors facing each other what if this side what if that you're constantly gauging and gazing at yourself you know with with your opposite and in and for as much as say in the Cuban context people renounce the other they are more alike than different and so I'm kind of fascinated by the arguments the ferocious arguments that are really the flip sides of one another yeah and so I it's a kind of double ganger dumb for me yeah so we get a little more and then we'll take more questions um all right so I've been talking about the visitor a bit so maybe I will read a section of her as well so you can see how she goes about she has a few sections also where you're following her as she winds around Berlin and and in this section she has a good friend of hers the one who told her about the grandmothers you know him reconstituting his grandmother's Cuban grandmother's library in Berlin anyway I refer to him as a and so he's here for a visit and it's about a third of the way in the book her friend a came to see the visitor in Berlin he wanted to show her his city its histories and excavations it's uneasy embrace of the frayed eastern districts together they travel to karlshorst where the German armed forces surrendered on May 8th 1945 from mild mannered man a would have been at home in a Kafka story he knew all about the t-34 tank in the garden played afternoons they devoured enormous slices of erred bell cookin strawberries were gloriously in season and spiritedly fought over the bills the visitors German was improving by the day and a complimented her on her accent his was flawless until then they'd spoken to each other only in English or Spanish or a mix thereof she'd recounted to him her three students summers in Germany one year she lived in a commune of Marxist hippies in Freiburg a capital of dust capital sat on the toilet tank everyone slept with one another but she demurred another summer in Munster she'd watched a ragtag parade of veterans in their old van mock uniforms marched by her host families later the visitor worked for an American from in Frankfurt marketing disposable diapers that's actually true don't even get me started on that one she bought a used Russian Lada that never worked her lies began almost immediately that she studied literature in college that she'd written her theses on Joyce's Ulysses that she lived above all for poetry one smitten colleague left chocolates on her desk she slept with two of her co-workers the Briton hand soaps and the Swiss intern in detergents she played table tennis naked at a local spa after six weeks she quit the job fleeing her thicket of lies she resold the Lada to the same dealer for less than what she'd paid for it the visitor and a spent hours at the three-story International bookstore on Friedrichstrasse oh they are the visitor learned that Hitler's gifts to Ava Brown had improved over the years in 1937 he'd given her a book on Egyptian tombs for Christmas seven years later a month before their marriage suicide pact in the Fuehrer bunker he surprised her with a silver fox fur cape apparently he'd avoided getting married before so it's not to discourage German women from dreaming that one day he might be theirs the visitor hadn't been lucky in love but happy and unhappy seemed to her meaningless distinctions now what matter was this did the hardships get her to where she wanted to go in contrast a had been I'm sorry in contrast a had been gratefully his word married to the same German woman for 20 years her family hailed from Horace virgia and never forgave a ver taking their daughter away the family is a police state the visitor said describing how minuscule stages lit up inside her repeating key scenes from her life do people remember only what they can endure or distort memories until they can endure them after a long silence is childhood is a city you never leave in Berlin's past we seek our own he believed that the tiniest crack in a random window could link one world to another then he held up a coffee table book on Bauhaus style only things endure the two discussed translations at length as well as the untranslatable they tried to render me the whale a una mujer into another language after failing miserably you can all try later if you want maybe the way lumen on my head when I'm ahead after failing miserably they treated each other with even more tenderness than usual as if to acknowledge the inadequacy of words the visitor had nicknamed a Kiko daya after he'd once described his dancing style as resembling a turtle fighting its way out of a paper bag a perennial subject for them their unbearable mother's whom they choked had been separated at birth in Havana why they wondered had their mothers particular sufferings and dislocations left them so indifferent to the misfortunes of others so inflated about their self-worth so violent in the visitors childhood huh descent wasn't permitted the daily temperature was set by her mother's rage as a girl her resistance had bloomed stealthily she could duplicitous calculative split herself to survive her public self was agreeable loyal to a fault all the while her private self was growing cutthroat one eye on the exit a Molotov cocktail in each hand she told a that she'd had she become a little monstrous to survive they asked the visitor if she planned to include her personal history alongside the story she was collecting and retelling in Berlin everything that obsessed her she insisted was autobiographical in the extreme have you noticed the visitors said changing subject how the SS drumbeat sounds a lot like the glove eh it was another drizzly morning and they were at the cemetery for Russian soldiers who died in the final assault on Berlin gah who a rarely cursed we always repeat what hurts us the visitor surveyed the sea of tombstones each with its pitifully inadequate synopses the shadows looked rinsed in the weak light not everyone who dies finds rest they said on their last afternoon together the two ducked into a Brazilian bar often Ohlendorf plots to wait out a thunderstorm as the Samba music played a told the visitor tales about the blue division of the SS its ranks filled with veteran Spanish soldiers how they fought in the Reichstag to the bloody end the two made a pact to right overlapping stories about them that night they attended the Philharmonic to hear Bruckner Symphony number seven sixty eight years earlier a recording of its Adagio was broadcast on radio Berlin after Admiral Nimitz's addressed to the nation Hitler has fallen when it's announced fighting to his last breath for Germany during the Scherzo electricity spontaneously rushed to the visitors body and out the crown of her skull her flesh was singing it said yes yes yes that's a little bit of the visitor any questions interstitial questions yes I'm sorry it reminds you of what I've missed the tape oh yeah no I haven't read that book but um but I was I was very influenced structurally I also have included some of my own photographs in this book was sea bolts work this sense of creating through interviews through photographs other evidences a sense of faux authenticity you know in fact that has well you know when I've read from the book people or people have read the book they assume that it because I'm a form of journalists that these were actual collected stories and not not fiction but they are fiction but I wanted you reading it to experience them as if they were actually being told to this this visitor and because of her anonymity you know just the way you sit next to someone on a plane and they tell you things like why why maybe why are you telling me this you know that that kind of anonymity that sense of her being an outside her made her privy to all of all of this intimacy and she talks because the the book refers back a lot to the world war two so she interviews a lot of old people in this novel as well and some of the stories begin to intersect there's a sort of rhizome L feel of the roots connecting a number of them visit the same ophthalmologist for example this Angolan ophthalmologist in Berlin and things like that but none of that was I was I didn't plan it that way that this structure kind of emerged as these voices were emerging and as I was reading and rereading Sebald and a lot of other a lot of other histories in fact yeah thank you yes oh absolutely that was another thing that drew me is I didn't know about it before I got to Berlin but there's also a lot of East Berliners who now have a kind of Exile ish nostalgia for for East Germany before the wall came down and they and there's a fair amount of idealization you know which was hand-in-hand with nostalgia not that dissimilar from exile Cuban exile nostalgia for the island pre 1959 Cuba so that I found very very fascinating too and there are some Eastern East Berlin voices in this book as well that not just speak to that but also speak to the a particular specific kind of historical moments in which they lived you know there there's a minute for example there's a minister not a minister of kind of in the Ministry of Culture of East Germany who talks about this assignment he got to come up with a dance craze to rival those convulsing the West you know and so so I play around a lot with the sense of you know that sense of belonging allegiance absurdity all of these things that emerge not just because of these divisions but in a way kind of curiously nurtured by these divisions yeah okay you have time for one more little one or we okay okay one more um so I thought yeah that maybe um let's see this will be a pretty short one it's three three pages and I just read how the the visitor in a her friend a talked about writing stories about the blue blue division and so this is the blue division little voice story and in told by Cuban Maria Lee Maria Elena Molina who's doing research in Berlin and and it starts off with a joke Cuban joke and maybe I'll have that he I'll translate it for us at least the punchline so doctor Molina do you know what the 8th wonder of the world is the visitor no what doctor Molina go on Okinawa Merida there yet yeah Cuba who doesn't talk ok so here she is she's a historian even for an academic specializing in modern Europe it was a complicated story or at least it grew more complicated than she expected doctor Molina was in Berlin doing research on the blue division of the German SS which had been comprised largely of Spanish soldiers while pouring over archival military records she discovered that her maternal grandfather had fought among them the citation noted that one afraid ammonia Garcia of Zaragoza have been decorated by the blue division for single-handedly disabling a t-34 tank near the Brandenburg Gate in killing seven Red Army soldiers of both sexes this was a radically different story than she'd heard growing up in hialeah in the heart of the Cuban exile community her family had toasted I would often afraid those war heroism without fail at birthday parties christenings not to win us every New Year's Eve when they counted the grapes through a bucket of water out the window and shouted next year alanna her grandfather's exploits would be loudly extolled doctor Molina assumed this meant that he'd fought with the Allies but nobody bothered to correct her she tried to imagine how a man of his convictions might have reacted to such a distortion of his legacy dr. Molina provided the visitor with essential historical context in 1941 she said General Franco called for volunteers to help the Nazis fight Soviet Bolshevism and 48,000 Spaniards signed up in two days actual fact like her grandfather many of the volunteers were former Falangists who continued to wear their telltale blue shirts battle-hardened fascists they fought not only in Spain but also in Italy in North Africa before signing up in the Nazis to fight the Russians these mercenaries were credited with taking Stalingrad in holding the city against all odds for the Germans at least for a time as the tide of the war turned Franco recalled his men but almost none withdrew a hardcore group along with some French SS stayed on long enough to defend the Reichstag on the day Berlin fell to the Red Army the Spaniards knew they were dead men and fought to the bitter end mano-a-mano stairwell to stairwell with grenades knives everything they had doctor Molina assumed that since her grandfather had made it as far as Berlin with the remnants of the blue division he too must have perished in the Reichstag in the basement where the worst of the fighting took place this historian split her hands over the old bullet holes and the pillars and walls she translated the faded Russian graffiti for the visitor victory slogans and florid curses she explained which had made Gorbachev laugh out loud on a visit some years ago dr. Molina said she tried to picture her Olof little eyes wildly bulging bearded stinking determined paddling his Bolshevik enemies to the last he was 42 when he disappeared the upheavals of history dr. Molina told a visitor create the most improbable of human consequences her grandfather she continued was survived by his wife Raquel and their three daughters the youngest of whom was the historians mother in 1947 when alfredo molina still had a return from the war his wife agreed to marry Diego Mascara an ambitious tradesman who emigrated with her and the girls to Havana dr. Molina's mother became 100% Cuban and at 17 aloft with a young revolutionary who died fighting with et al Castro in the Sierra Maestra what is it about these women and their politically extreme soldiers dr. Molina asked the mother subsequently fled to Miami where she worked as a maid at a beach resort eventually she met her husband also a Molina who after waiting tables fixing fights and trafficking and illegal rhino horns for their purported aphrodisiac tea a circle to the right properties became the air conditioning king of Hialeah according to doctor Molina her grandmother kept a warn photograph of her first husband in her nightstand drawer the historian showed it to the visitor hospital Molina wore civilian clothes and his right hand rested on a holstered pistol at his hip his eyes seemed to emerge from his temples giving him a vaguely amphibian air on the short side in ostentatiously muscled he was nevertheless an attractive man it was said he'd had to shave twice a day to control his stubble a Fidel Molina had tried factory work farming shoemaking all unsuccessfully in the end only soldiering had suited him doctor pnina pointed to the self satisfaction and her grandfather's expression quotes as if he knew his missions were holy and quote her grandmother the historian said often chucked the same photograph into her brassiere for comfort or held it pressed to her ear for advice do you hear him Matty Elena do you hear him I will aha k used to murmur fluttering her husband's black and white face close to her granddaughters see o whele she always lied cubans dr. Molina said with the shrug frequently have trouble distinguishing the living from the dead thanks very much [Applause] thank you Christina now we'll have daddy Oh read and I just want to make sure I think I forgot to give a shout out to the amazing director of the CSRA Professor Tricia Rose and this one that vent would not be possible without her that is what is Thank You Ralph for the introduction and for being an all-around amazing human being thank you Christina for eating I'm a huge fan have been for a long time so this is pretty special for this Cuban dude to be doing this this event with her I think I'm just going to read a short story from my collection I think that makes the most sense I pick something that isn't too long because I'm very excited about the conversation that we're gonna have I don't think I need to introduce this y'all since I'll be reading the whole thing but I think I all I want to say is that it's actually one of the few pieces in the collection that's inspired by some of my experiences growing up in Havana so some of it feels a little bit more personal to me and I did want to thank Brown University in the CS Aria for for hosting us so I'm just gonna sort of go right in and I'm happy to answer questions after this is called mud face it was mud face laughter that let us know Roly had drowned when we found him his body floating facedown in a deep filthy puddle the back of his t-shirt billowing like a trash bag on the surface he must have been dead for nearly minutes his legs were slightly sunk his arms spreading calm surrendered as if he were just holding his breath underwater we follow the sound of mud face cackle which amidst the nighttime downpour seemed almost supernatural we came upon the hole and right away we knew mud face had chased Roly he had done it to all of us at one point in his panic probably had probably launched against the blinding rain and plummeted headfirst into the dark void beneath him I remember wondering what he might have felt in that split-second one terror suddenly replaced by another Roli stepfather at the two artists who the neighbors joked wasn't very good lower himself sideways along the wall of the ditch with he found his footing in the shallow pool and desperately yanked his steps on turning him over the water tossed and gulp in the dark my father and some of the older men on the block helped him remove Crowley's body for five minutes he breathed into roley's mouth and pressed only small chest I was crying though I did it quietly so my father wouldn't send me to my mother tilde a retired nurse searched them in shoulders as if its if it were made of glass you did your part she said now let him go he rose his big tattoo identical Chinese dragons whose tongue stuck out or the surrender of his chest appeared to glow in the murky views the night aloud Maritsa he shouted pronouncing the last part of her name in a painful moan Maritsa much face mother cloned to her child her arms draped over him her hands clasp just below his heart Frawley stepfather located her in the modeling rain my father began to walk between them and though I cannot be sure I believe he shook his head of the tattoo artists that was a boxing trainer and everyone knew he was good at his job perhaps intuiting an uncommon catastrophe mud face started to laugh again through clenched teeth Roli stepfather told maritza palooka two mascaras Sokolow lucky she obeyed taking her son from the circle the neighbors had formed I remember her long sudden hair pasted onto her back as she turned Jose Antonio mud face actual name laughed all the way home he had gotten his nickname the old-fashioned way hos Antonia loved whenever he could escape his mother's care to cake his cheeks and forehead in muck which in Havana was an apple supply on the night Rollie died there were only West streaks left on mud face skin he was our age but he never attended school with us we had instructions not to mark him and to recognize his inability to communicate like all the children as a condition that within the larger world we were too young to know was completely normal he would order words here and there that were frequently out of context his mother seemed to understand him she often addressed him the way our mothers addressed us with affection and reproach in equal measure but she did spend each waking moment by his side she wouldn't even go to the corner bodega without him and she refused to ask for favors much faith father split the moment the doctor diagnosed his son he got her in a dinky raft and with two friends and crossed the Straits to South Florida I remember my body my mother saying that he had been the first time my father called someone who had risked his life a coward Madison Evers Maritsa never saw a dollar did not receive a phone call a neighbor once said that at least Jose Antonio wouldn't really be affected by an absent father my mother told her that even if that were true maritza would on certain days usually toward the end of the week her eyes filled with tears as she took her son to school she walked storica Lea her chain up gazing ahead in a manner that prevented others from approaching whenever someone paid her a visit she spoke to them on the porch while San Antonio stood behind the window observing the children on our block sniffing or chewing on an orange peel we found a strange on – someone explained that we should think of the orange peel as a pacifier and a host Antonio has a very small child despite him being more or less our size but the truth was that he's impaired speech along with the occasional comments we heard from our parents about the relationship between physical strength and Down syndrome scared us rumor was he had almost killed another child at his elementary school shoving enough silly putty of the boys nose to turn his face purple as a result Melissa started keeping him at home it was around this time that she added alcohol to her grocery list the neighbor suspect that she was that she was falling asleep in the middle of the day because the window and orange peel became an integral part of us Antonio's daily routine and by extension hours in Havana there's no evading anything except the comfortable life so we invented a game out of mud face chasing us gerado phango we would turn him mud face he was smart enough to turn the lock and leave the house he laughed so hard running behind that I worry one day his vocal cords would explode and he would go mute his mother always came out once someone shouted that her son had escaped bags sagged under my exercise and her coarse lips never quite touched she told she told us to scurry into our houses and drag them away with a sadist look I'd ever seen on anyone the next day we were back at it that we have to Roley pass a couple of clipboard toting officials examine the side of his death whenever a local engaged them they treated a person as if they had trespass on a cordoned off area they offered no word on when or if the hole would be fixed the reason for all the excavation in our neighborhoods never bother our parents a government representative on television explained that they were doing a massive repair job on the water pipes around the city which were badly corroded but no one understood though in truth they did because communism makes the absurd local ordinary is how it would take months to fill the hole stay themselves that made our streets look like homes for gigantic malls as the summer's thunderstorms rolled by the holes filled with water and turn into black sludge the children in a neighborhood were instructed to avoid them there was the fear of falling fear of diseases which in Cuba included dengue and cholera and fear that you might break something and be responsible for it you did not want to owe the government for a hole in your street out of all of us Rowley was the only one who hadn't climbed down a trench as we like to call him his stepfather was protective specially after all his mother died from a rare form of cancer Rowley respected him in a way I did not respect my parents and though I was too young to rationalize that then I admired Rowley as a result he was responsible mature determined now and I were not as a risotto roll is drowning Melissa took to sitting on a rocking chair on her front porch she parked a large coffee mug by her feet and and one into sorry one into which she poured her alcohol her drinking wasn't a secret but I've learned with age but there are several levels of privacy in shame and the mug was perhaps a wave to save herself some degree of judgment her gaze was no longer stoic and now seemed lost on some remote point our mothers gossip that she was guarding her son she didn't want the government to intern him whether anyone would actually take him away it was unclear teeth or diamond now and I spent those days luring on a staircase that led nowhere it was at the end of our neighborhood abiding a steep hill I'd always guess the stairs were meant to allow access to a cul-de-sac above it but I will have been built right where the top step landed while they behind it I'd never knew the air was always stronger and cooler on the steps as if we were close to the ocean at the capitated statue of Jose Marti a student a cement platform next to us most of the surface have been defaced with chocolate and declarations of love and name-calling Tito lied to prop his old body on his hands and move across the platform his knees bent for balance and sometimes he would go to the edge if I metre fall from there and ask us to dare him to jump following roly's death there was none of that we sat and reminisce about our friend we decided he was a brightest in the group there was no debate about this he wasn't a fighter like Tito who was one of my father's main proteges x' but he wasn't a coward either and the tattoo artists were always supposed to mediocrity took care of him properly particularly for someone who was not his real father Rowley never needed clothes but like vermin doll who had gotten his nicknames from the state jobs he's on did to his shoes and shirts the temple of his eyeglasses were wired to the frames and once he had gone to school with a rope as a belt Rowley never had to wear such things but mud face had killed him was in a tragedy a word whose meaning we learned from the adults it was a crime a word that he does mom use in which he began to repeat to us as though he grass he grasped his significance we adopted the word as our own mud face had committed a crime therefore he needed to pay if pressure to shoes I would confess the idea was probably Tito's but in my mind he feels as though it was me who put the plan together we would wait for a night after a good downpour so the whole were Rowley hard round would be filled crime and now the craft is among us who sneak onto the porch and knock on the living room window he would offer mud face and orange lured by mud face would come out and I wait for him to chase me I would run by the hole and Tito awaiting the honeycomb at the bodega the closest building to the trench we'll push mud face into the water we will watch his Stucky mass plop like a boulder into the swamp like mass then we were going to laugh we wanted him to drown in our laughter to be haunted by if he were susceptible to such a thing it took three days for the next rain to come it started in the early morning a dental drizzled a crescendo into a torrential curtain soon the street gutters became a stream churning water and dirt rain spurred it from the rooftops onto the sidewalks where the children come scampered and hollered and flared their tongues of the sky in the afternoon the Sun picked this way through the clouds just as he was dipping behind the taller buildings and we knew he was safe to go outside we assembled by the staircase from and out I'd a plastic bag with two oranges to his belt loop he had determined he had a determine expression with which put me at ease I worried that he might back out and he would have to be me tapping on one face window when true when the intro music to the nine o'clock soap opera began to echo from heavy ones television the whole neighborhood locked himself inside tittle hid behind the column at the bodega I stood at the near end of maurices porch while Herman Dow held the plastic bag close to his hip and the poor yellow lighting I saw him crawl to the window take a glimpse through the shutters and rapped lightly on them seconds later the folder open mudfest jamb his forehead against the metal bars attempting to look down at a crouching raymond ow he hoisted the orange within wutface reach and without hesitation mud face snatched it from endow stood and flaunted the other orange tipping his head tell him what face to open the front door I felt a sudden urge to pee Herman doll looked at me and widen his arms what do I do he was asking the remaining orange now returned to now return to the bag was pulling his pants to one side i signaled for him to head for the porches gate the door behind him swung inward and remand I broke into an awkward sprint pulling up his pants as if holding on to stilts he hurried across the street or a row of bushes while I stepped closer to the porch and whisper Jose Antonio mudfish turned and began to run in my direction his stiff swinging arms propelled him like the wheel rods of a train I took off with all my might the ground beneath me seemed to splash and slip but it wasn't until I arrived at the hole that I felt myself stumble Tito shot out from behind the column like a bullet and shoulder mud face a ricocheted off my face ribs as if I had smacked against the tree trunk I drew in a breath worth worth of air before I hit the water a broken bone doesn't always prompt immediate pain maybe it's the shock of the suddenness of the injury I recall sensing a clacking and in an ability to pivot or heave up myself out of the hole I kept hopping on one foot fighting for buoyancy with my arms though the water did not get past my neck you retard Tito yelled he punched mud face repeatedly on the shoulders a right hook caught him hard enough and he dropped in the water next to me the way from the impact shrouded my head mud face gasps like a toddler who has just learned to hold his breath underwater Javier let's go Tito said to me extending his hand it's broken I finally said glancing up the night clouds looked like grey smoke against a pitch black sky the water splash over my head and this time got in my nostrils I choked and coughed there was thrashing like an alligator twisting around its prey something clasped my torso my vision blurred and a strange sense relieved overtook me I was now certain I was going to faint dammit Oh Tito said give him to me and then I was on the ground from in those remaining orange cone toured smoothly by the bottom of the plastic bag also later like a pendulum above me he said did he fall lights flicker on in the distance Javier Tito's angry scream hollered and my father our parents were trained to know what tones and phrases should draw them from their nooks moments later my father was hovering above over me searching the length of my body with his eyes his ankles broken diddle told him demonstrating with his fingers the area that was swollen my father stood what happened the water behind him goes old house Antonia was trying and miserably failing to lift himself out of the Train did he do this my father walked carefully toward my face the tip of his shoes were centimeters from Hoss Antonia's crown'd no he got him out Tito said grab him by my father's arm he must have swallowed the temper his voice before repeating as if he were actually starting to believe it he got him out Marisa arrived quietly she saw my father and Tito tugging on Antonia from the hall a trace of resignation maybe even disappointment Mulder her features my mother and a number of other neighbors congregated around the trench a few murmur how it was only a matter of time whether what they were referring to I wasn't sure my father lifted me in his arms and I groaned tears sliding down my cheeks the pain was finally surging up my leg I stared at Jose Antonio as my father carried me someone had brought a tower for him Maritsa was drying his hair as if he has if she had just given him a good wash despite the distance and the night I could see his face clearly devoid of mud I waited for his lips to part for his mouth to release that mega phonic laughter but he never came thank you [Applause]

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