A walk to Chipotle

It’s noon, and the smell of lunchtime -beans, pork, grease- permeated downtown Buckhead. People from all backgrounds congregate to the hallowed hall of Chipotle at a corner intersection for physical (and I daresay, spiritual) renewal. I walk in and stand in the long line behind the counter.

There’s a young, well dressed man in front of me, and a moment later, a joyful woman strides in with her two best friends. At first, I couldn’t help but admire the young man’s well-tailored suit and trimmed hair. He was wearing a tan leather belt with spotless buckle, cuffed shirt and double-strap monk shoes -which of course, matched his belt.

A true, walking stock photo.

Suddenly, my attention was shifted to the loud talking of the woman behind me. She was a tall but delicately built black woman, with a pin in her business outfit that read, “Cousins,” and a logo right beside it. A humanitarian organization, judging by her warm smile and apparent social connections. She and her friends were about chatting all the time I was in line. I wasn’t paying attention. Still, I chuckled inside.

It’s amazing how, with all the varieties of human experience, we are still drawn to the same things: power, money, love and of course, good food.

I devoured my burrito in a heartbeat. The hotness of the Tabasco sauce briefly made me feel like I could breathe fire. Endorphins kicked in my brain, tingling it with a satisfying sensation. How wonderful and blessed it is that modern industry can feed the whole population in a dazzling array of colors, tastes and combinations. We can safely assume that we’ll be fed today, and that’s a wonderful realization. One we’re prone to easily ignore, considering the history of humanity.

My parting words before I leave are this: let us rejoice and be glad, for indeed, we can all get along with each other and sit at the same table together, as long there’s good food, decency, and good cheer.

Dangerous stories shouldn’t be whispered – Part 2

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…Many years ago, cities were filled with people from all over the world. They had running water, constant internet, they even bought stuff with plastic cards! Everyone lived together and the people were much happier and less suspicious as they are now. Then, all of a sudden, a sign came down from the sky. Grandfather called it “The whip of God.” Anyways, it was basically a giant rock that was hurled from the heavens and struck the world. Pretty incredible huh? That’s not the end of it though, because out of the ashes from where the meteor hit came strange demons that began eating people up-”

“I’m sorry Solomon, I have to stop you right there.” She intervened. “You are being really, um, just, over the top? There is no such thing as meteorites or monsters, just accept that as what they really are: stories.” She gave him an incredulous look.

“I told you to listen to me, ” Solomon continued. “This is really important for you to know.”

“Why? Why do you keep insisting on this? Why did you make us meet in this abandoned shed? David I think you’re taking this too far. I’m going home.”

“Don’t please! I’m leaving tonight.”

Stopping on her tracks, she turned around from the closed door. “What? Where are you going?”

He took a few seconds, considering whether he should tell his secret.

“I’m going there. I’m going to New York.”

A few songbirds had perched on the tree just outside the dilapidated shed. They sang songs in the sad wilderness that surrounded them. They filled the deep silence with their sweet singing.

“Solomon.” She bit her lip. She knew there was nothing she could do. Once something was in Solomon’s head, he wouldn’t let go. She didn’t want him leaving, she couldn’t. Solomon would die outside the town’s perimeter, and winter was coming in a month. She had a deep-held secret though. Something she swore to herself never to tell, but this was the hour.

“Solomon, I love you,” she stood up, “and I never want to hurt you.” She stood tall and proud, her shadow seemed larger than before, and for a moment, Solomon could feel an overwhelming presence overtaking the room, the shed, the whole world, even. He felt this in his bones, and, even though she still looked and talked the same as before, he realized a newfound magnificence radiating from the person before him.

“Solomon, I am not who you think I am. My real name is Hope, and I’m not from around here.”

 

Thanks for reading. Comments and suggestions are welcome. I will post the third part here soon.

Dangerous stories shouldn’t be whispered

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I’ve found very few people who agree with me on this. Almost everyone I talk to about it looks at me with a strange face, as if I were making it all up. I know I’m not, I remember it distinctly ‘cause it was repeatedly told by my grandparents when I was a kid, and I know some friends who can corroborate to the story I am about to tell. I can tell you the names of them, but only after you’ve first listened to me. My parents doubted their authenticity, and almost everyone I know thinks it’s just a bedtime story —like the boogeyman. If there ever was any evidence for it, I don’t have much hope of finding it. Most books pre-dating our grandparents can only be found in places called “libraries”, and those are rare to find. I

think the closest one is like, six hours from here, in Duluth.

The best memory I have of this story was when my grandfather was celebrating his 85th birthday. I was 7 and he drew me close after the brief festivities were over. Don’t get me wrong, my family loved grandpa Jones. It’s just that, he could be quite annoying with his constant story-telling and nonsense talking. He started having dementia by that time, and he would ramble on about dragons and giants battling each other. His eyes would flare up when his rambling started, and he would mimic battles by attempting to jump and flail his arms wildly. Now why on earth would you trust the veracity of my story now that I’m telling you this? Actually, that’s exactly the question I wanted you to ask. I wanted to be completely transparent with you about the circumstances which he told me this. Call me crazy or whatever you want, you have every right to do that —I mean, most people do that anyways—. But I trust you, just don’t tell anyone that I’m telling you this. I’ve been hurt enough times. Anyways.

Here it goes.

To be continued…

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Adventures in Dreams, California and San Salvador – Part 1

This is the first draft of a story, “A Day In the Life of Fernando,” that I hope to polish up and eventually publish. I like to think of it as a sketch to get the ideas going. I’ll post the following chapter later this week. Enjoy!

It was 4am and Fernando woke up to the screeching sound of his alarm. He debated in his mind about getting up.  He had stayed late studying, and he could feel his body yearning for rest. But it didn’t matter what he felt, he knew he had to go for a run. The ROTC semester test was coming up, and he wanted to be among the best. Still, he thought, there’s only so much the body can take, and he needed rest. A few seconds passed by, and Fernando could feel himself drifting back to sleep. 

Not out of courage, but out of habit, he suddenly threw one leg over the bed. He brought the other one over and propped up. Sitting still, he swung between consciousness and sleep. Like a baby taking his first steps, he precariously moved one foot in front of the other towards the bathroom. He turned on up the sharp bathroom lights and washed his face with cold water. He looked himself in the mirror and was content with what he saw.

He was ready, and there was no going back. He put on his running shoes (he’s wore his workout clothes as pijamas), and finished a half-eaten banana from the fridge in his room. After a few bites, he took his iPhone and carefully tip-toed his way past his roommates, heading out into the streets of Los Angeles. 

It was pitch dark, and the cool ocean breeze immediately struck his face. He remembered the comfort and warmth of his bed, but quickly dismissed it. It was no use to think about it any longer. He put on Bloomberg radio and sought to immerse himself in the 6 mile run ahead of him. The houses around him were suburban and small, but very expensive due to their close proximity to the college. Fernando didn’t have a car, and Los Angeles isn’t the most bike-friendly place, so he had to find a place nearby to attend his morning classes. He found his shared apartment on Craigslist, but the high price of rent did not give justice to the its dilapidated state.

As a Political Science graduate, Fernando thought he had a lot ahead of him. Born in San Salvador but raised up by his grandmother in San Antonio, it seemed like a different saint was now blessing him in his incredible climb of success in the U.S. His parents were killed in the gang violence that wrecked San Salvador in the 90s and 2000s. Fernando was therefore left alone in a dust-filled house with his grandmother in Texas. It was originally his parents’s house, their first in the US, from wherein they could start their lives anew in America.

His father, being a software programmer, was hired by a startup in San Antonio, who later found out that his hourly wage was cheaper than the weekly budget for dog food in the office. His mother was already a naturalized citizen from Mexico working as a housemaid for the wealthy oil men who had winter houses in the city. After his parent’s death, it was a climb against all odds that now, Fernando thought, could reach as high as the heart of D.C politics. His daily runs fueled his ambition, and kept him in shape for the upcoming ROTC physical that was coming up. Without the ROTC, there would be no way he could afford his education. To trade a few years of combat service for graduate studies was simple math that led to his  current situation now: running at 4am in the sleepy, hallowed streets of L.A before work, before class, with no social life for him, in pursuit of a social justice for all.