Fiction1

[The following is part of a transcript of an intake interview in Spanish of Dalton Garcia. It was leaked by a sympathetic nurse at the Doña Juana Psychiatric Hospital in the Owens Valley just north of Independence.]

The truck is the reason I'm here. I first saw it about three miles from the east-bound off ramp I take everyday of the week on the way to San Marino, Pasadena, and La Cañada. I saw it merge through the rear view mirror. I could see it through the rake poles and through the lawnmower handles as it passed to my left.

Gonzalo and Elisa lost it as soon as I took the westbound off ramp. They didn't trust me anymore. Elisa yanked the white headphones from her ears and yelled, "Coño!" She yelled that she needed the five jobs today to pay for her books this semester. I'd given away Elisa's rakes and Gonzalo's leaf blower to a couple of guys outside Home Depot last month. It was hard to convince them to stay with me.

Gonzalo, next to me, pulled his baseball cap down and slouched. Elisa rolled down her window and asked me why I was following the taco truck. It wasn't a taco truck, I told them. That was my street painted on the truck. Those were my cobblestones. Those were my roof tiles. Look, blood oozed from under the doorways. The soldiers were waiting around the corner from the whitewashed walls. My older sister was in the lake. You can see it on the pictures I took with my phone. The cops took my phone so you saw the pictures, right?

I don't like using the lawnmower. The fumes remind me of the military trucks that came through town every Sunday. On Monday at least two señoras would call my mother to find out if their 20 year-old sons were with me. My mother told me she didn't want to be the one calling one of them one day.

When the truck pulled up alongside me traffic was going so slow I put the car in neutral and coasted past the Vernon exit. I drove alongside the truck for about a mile. Elisa's parents were from the same town. I asked her if she recognized the street. She yelled at me again. I told her that was my sister sitting next to the smiling lady.

I hated living among cockroaches when I got here, in that apartment, waiting for the yes from the government that paid for the guns. Degenerates and drug addicts lived on each floor of that brick building. I felt sorry for the kids. Their parents had no choice. That was 20 years ago.

Every day is like a tunnel with only one way out. Leave home. Pick up Gonzalo and Elisa at the spider web towers. Arrive at the first job at eight in the morning. Leave all the grass clippings and other trash in plastic bags next to their three-car garages. Almost all the houses have three-car garages. I could follow that truck if I wanted to. I could go anywhere it went. I could make my own exit in the tunnel.

[The rest of the transcript details much of what's already been reported in the news, how the two passengers tried to wrestle control of the steering wheel and the car keys from Dalton Garcia, the 98 mile-an-hour chase west on the Santa Monica freeway and the car's fiery crash into a pupuseria on Pacific Coast Highway.]

Poet and journalist Adolfo Guzman-Lopez writes his column Movie Miento every Tuesday at 2 p.m. on KCET's SoCal Focus blog. It is a poetic exploration of Los Angeles history, Latino culture and the overall sense of place, darting across LA's physical and psychic borders.

About the Author

Adolfo’s been a reporter at NPR affiliate KPCC since 2000. He’s reported on three L.A. mayors, four L.A. Unified superintendents, and covered the LAPD batons and rubber bullets flying at the May, 2007 MacArthur Park immigrant marc...
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A great story, Adolfo! The line "Look, blood oozed from under the doorways. The soldiers were waiting around the corner from the whitewashed walls" reminds me of stories I used to hear of Haitian immigrants running into men who had tortured them under the Duvalier regime in cafe's along Fulton Street in Brooklyn. Sometimes the exiles, runaways, refugees, upcomers and aspirants all end up in the same cafe - or in, this case, on the same freeway.

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Thanks! The story was prompted by thoughts about the artist Martin Ramirez, his immigration from Mexico, and what triggered his schizophrenia.

http://www.holamun2.com/news/previously/previously-martin-ramirez

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This a good story. I saw works by Martin Ramirez at the NY Museum of Amercian Art or folkart or something. It was brilliant and breathtaking and bold and aggressive and strong. his story is torturous, and is something I think about a lot as i walk and remember the people I've seen in the streets, and a consideration when I sit down to write about certain faces I recall. What is their story?