Saturday, April 9, 2011
Him And Dogs Like Him
Supreme transit, it’s the nearly invisible vehicle in which opposing thoughts share the same metal lines, they move on a whim, crisscrossing the country, converging in neural networks with hyperbolic speed. In white and black robes, with little red books tinged with gold leafing and yard sticks that poke out from their underwear, they move through time, piggy-backing on waves of political enthusiasm and newly-sprung militia groups.
It was happening now. He could smell it in the air. They whispered ‘constitution’ under their breath, the letters reeking of coffee as they spat out the word with religious zeal. They coughed up those letters, spilling the 2nd as if it was word inherited directly from an ancient bearded god.
Francisco was covered in the pulsing blue light of the nightly news, he watched every station, clicking through them in random order until he fell asleep just after10. As he fell into dreams that bulged in their shape and color, he wondered why those men in the news always waved the 2nd Amendment around like a flag.
What about him?
He saw those same people aiming, shooting, trying to take down his children’s right to citizenship, his grandmother’s right to drive to the mercado. They pulled the trigger, firing at sympathetic senators and congressmen, the black suits had jumped ship, leaving him and his family in the sun.
They all sweated, not just from the heat that had bleached even the heartiest saguaro cactus, but fear also dripped down their cheeks, glistening beads of worry dropped off their cracked chin.
Another gun went off, clack! in the night.
Everyone here owned a gun, all the white men that lived in the low foothills and the ranchers that wore red white and blue flag shirts. Yesterday he found his own American flag vandalized, the one that sat beside his Mexican flag.
No they didn’t sit, they waved in the breeze that seemed to come from the lowlands of hell. Pure heat to dry the beads of fear dripping down grandmother’s chin.
The dog lay on the ceramic tiles of the kitchen all day long, living in blissful agony, giving no thoughts to rights and amendments and the news stations. A dog was a dog was a dog. Mexican, American, Indian, dogs responded no matter what color skin delivered a bowl of water and a soft caress.
A dog was a dog was a dog. That’s how they thought of him, his family, the people with skin that looked like his.
A dog was a dog. Those men in their white shirts with guns at their waist, they thought all the browns were the same – Mexicans- a word that described fear instead of a country. A word that was just as ugly as the coffee-scented breath of its speaker.
No, they had come from farms in the valleys, from cities with museums and towns without plumbing, from mountains that touched snow and from the crashing Atlantic ocean. From the central umbilical cord of two continents and the southern hemisphere, from the highlands and the valleys and the places in between where women wore embroidered blouses and woolen skirts and carried babies and chickens alike. They were not the same, but they were linked by one essential quality in the eyes of those men with guns.
He saw the advertisements every night. He saw the guns in their holsters, the posters that could intimidate even the most hardened politician.
The men with the guns knew where to aim. The targets were set, they took down what every man in a suit wants most, pointed the barrel right at the pounding heart of power and squinted an eye. They aimed at those politicians sitting pretty on those shiny leather office chairs on perfectly clean plush carpet. They aimed, and- clack!
There were not enough shelters to hide the tears. The rivers flowed from Fernando, out past concrete dividers. When the insults came, causing the floods to mount, he lost it all, all the salt and all the water. It flowed from him a storm that dried on bleached sand, drying instantly in the land without rain.
He saw their guns, felt them pointed at him, at his family, at people with his same skin. Though nothing had really changed, he had become the villain. The constitution to which they always pointed, that 2nd point that they waved higher than flags, that constitution didn’t apply to him, not to him and the dogs like him.
Their policy was to shoot first. The targets were set, not one, or two, but the millions like him. How they loved their bullets, how they hated his music and food, the smell of his clean clothes, his daughter in pretty pink dresses, his tacos and beans, his lawnmower and round sweet wife, his son in school, his language and the rolling r’s of his tongue. How they hated him and his dogs, him and his enthusiastic use of English and the small home he painted every five years.
Them and those guns, them and the rights that they asserted. Them and those rights that they would deny him, the ones they would deny his children if they could. That Second Amendment they held tight to their heart, those words that they would spit forth, smelling like coffee and disfigured prostitutes, they shaped the world as they would like to imagine it, saw their chosen right as immovable while others were flawed. If his rights were not written in stone, then why did they scream for their guns?
Why did the men of highest power remain so quiet? Gently stroking their hands, rubbing their toes together, waiting to see what the tide of people would endorse before they walked to the microphone and made a statement.
They were always so scared to have an opinion. Only the men with those guns were solid in their statements, they were the ones that never changed, maybe they were getting harder, turning to stone, they were certainly never afraid to scream, their guns talked for them, clack!
Hitting his neighbor in the chest, taking away the breath of that young girl on the border, taking her father too. Their guns talked and not only did they have the right to have them, they thought they had the right to use them, declaring people like him the enemy. Turning his mother, that thick tree that bore a dozen lives, turning her into a villain, into a criminal deserving of a bullet. His children, turning them into aliens with only one signature.
He looked around with tear-stained eyes, unsure when it would stop, maybe now that the devil had sprouted naked from the ground. He wondered if it was ever gone, or had that dusting of sulfur merely hidden in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to come out the red door and find them.
He was now a criminal and the ones with the guns were free. The ones that murdered walked around and waved their striped flags and they would rest on the constitution like it was made for them alone, forgetting, perhaps never knowing, that this actually used to be his land, his and the dogs like him.
They didn’t knock on the door, they came in the night, that huge group with their guns and disease, their sickness that would spread, killing their enemy with only a coffee-scented breath discharged in their direction.
The movie had not changed, not a bit of dialogue had been altered. The policy, the billboards, the country and its actors. They smiled on those shiny posters, looking out at them, at that dried land and the browns and whites that dotted the landscape, those with power and bullets, those that lived like dogs under the sun, crying salty tears that ran down grandmother’s face, tasting not of salt, but of pepper.