A journal of narrative writing.
Sun and the Moon
Page 2

* * *

During his last visit with Jesus in Valdemoro his brother had introduced Epifanio to four men, all criminal associates. Epifanio remembers their names and, over three days, seeks them out one by one. Three are long dead, the fourth comatose in a hospital after a bomb he was constructing on his kitchen table detonated prematurely, destroying not only his house but four others, in the process killing nine people, mostly children. Epifanio and Maria Guadalupe wait two days near the hospital room in hopes that some of the man’s friends will appear. At 7PM of the second day a woman smartly dressed in navy-blue pants suit materializes with flowers. She stays thirty minutes, caressing the man’s almost-dead hands and arms and speaking into ears that will never hear again. When she leaves, Epifanio and Maria Guadalupe follow her to the parking lot where he introduces himself, offers brief if all-purpose condolences, and asks her how she knows the man, who is called Niño.

He is my brother, of course. Why else would I be here?

Aren’t you afraid?



There’s always a gangwar.

Someone will come here to assassinate your brother.

Why bother? He’s already assassinated himself.

She glances down at Maria Guadalupe. She’s darling. Don’t tell me she’s my brother’s.

Actually she’s my brother’s.

Let me guess: He’s dead, too.


Then why aren’t you afraid?

I am.

What are you doing here?

Trying to get to America.

She laughs and says, You are in the wrong place, my friend. I am the only magician in Valdemoro but even I can’t do that. Otherwise there is no magic and there are no wands. Poof! she laughs – Look – you are still here!

You don’t look like a magician.

Then what do I look like?

Some kind of business person.

Obviously you are some kind of genius, Indio. An Indian genius. Imagine! Yes, I am a banker.

This time it was Epifanio who laughed. That’s interesting. A banker in Valdemoro! He places the tips of his fingers on his forehead. Hmmm. I wonder who she works for!

All of them, of course. How do you think I live?

She reaches down and lifts Maria Guadalupe off the pavement. She kisses her on both cheeks and says, You need a bath and some dinner, bandita. How would you like to go home with Aunt Teresa?

* * *

Teresa lives in a small loft on the sixth floor of a condominium in the middle of the city. Instead of using the elevator they take the stairs at one end because, she laughs, she doesn’t want it thought that she has both bandito and bandita living with her, though it is well-known that the city is infested with them. We have our little orbits, she says, circling the air horizontally in front of her with her index finger, and we don’t trust anything on the outside, even if we depend on it, even if we profit from it. I live here and I go to work, that’s all I do, and when I can’t stand it anymore I go to Miami or Houston for a week. I always come back because this is my home, intolerable as it is.

When they reach the loft she pulls back the shades. The gleaming city reveals itself beneath them, sparkling southward as far as the eye can see. Epifanio empties the contents of his and Maria Guadalupe’s backpacks on the kitchen table. Without comment, Teresa places the revolver in a high cabinet, as if it were a salt shaker. She counts the money expertly, rolls and binds it with a rubber band, and places it beside the revolver.

There’s more, says Epifanio. I just have to shit.

Oh my god, she says, holding her nose and laughing. If they know you’ve done that, some of these boys will cut you open like a pig. You, then her. There is no mercy.

She pulls three frozen dinners from the little freezer above the refrigerator and places them in the oven. Here’s what we’re going to do, stinky people. First we will bathe la bandita. I have extra clothes for both of you. While we two are eating, it will be your turn in the shower, Indio. When you come out you can eat, and la bandita will go back in for some oral hygiene. Has she ever seen a dentist?

I doubt it.

I will put out a toothbrush and floss for you, too. The toothpaste is from Germany. It tastes like schnapps.

* * *

Did you know my brother, Jesus Gomez?

There are many named Jesus Gomez in the city of Valdemoro.

He was important in the organization.

And now he is dead, like my brother. Of course I didn’t know him. This is not the census bureau. My god, these people come and go so quickly I wonder how even the bosses can keep track! All promotions are the result of death, but that doesn’t stop them from joining, young men of the countryside. Where else will they make money? You are a janitor or construction worker for five dollars an hour in Michigan, or a drug soldier in Mexico, a terrible choice.