“The Chola and Llorona,” “Dope” and “Scooby Doo Backpack”

by Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith

The Chola and Llorona

I

Doesn’t myth belong to everyone? I have two tios and they

are barely older than me and mi hermano. One is four years older,

the other six and when we lived together in my grandparents’ house

in Douglas Arizona they would take us for long walks, sometimes at

night and tell mi hermano and yo about la Llorona.

Her endless walks through the arroyos. They added a knife to her

hand, and gave her the ability to overrun children. My brother and I would

remain awake at night, in the bed we shared, and each

sound we heard became the chola banshee of Douglas coming to savage us.

One other day, because they were bored like all

other ten and twelve year olds

in Douglas, mi tios removed their t-shirts and poured Heinz Ketchup

all over their roadrunner chests. They jumped from behind the garage,

sticks in hand and amusement in their eyes,

as mi hermano and I were playing in the dirt, and

yelled, “somos vampiros, somos vampiros” and the four of us ran

screaming. My grandmother came out of the house with a broom

and rescued mi hermano and me from certain doom.

My grandmother was puro chola. A smile and a broom

that crushed all rebellion.

Much later when I graduated from college she asked

me, “Por que no encuentras un Mexicana?” She was

on rescue all over again.

II

This is a story that loves being told:

My wife Kelly es mi Irish chola. Her words

all green hills, gritos full of Joyce

barroom descriptions. She has

always said she wants to attend

a boxing match. Ring side seats even.

Once she encountered mi tio Roberto

walking through the counters full of fruit

at the neighborhood grocery store. (Even

though he lives across town). The other

shoppers keeping a big ring

of isolation around him.

Roberto with his loud charm

was probably singing a Trini Lopez

song, serenading the ripe citrus. His basket

containing a bottle of tequila, frozen orange

juice concentrate, tortillas de harina,

and a bag of beans from the

large brown bulk barrel.

And Kelly greets him.

-hola Roberto.

His face smiles in confusion.

-Do I know you?

-Soy la esposa de Cristobal

-Hay, of course

And he hugs her like he has

just returned from Saturn. His breath

still alive with the inflight beverages.

My wife is mi Irish chola. Loyal

like the tides and sunsets. Her eyes

reminding me that Santo Patricio

guarded the families and workers.

III

Clover and cilantro

crosses and boxing gloves

Michael and Emiliano

The faith that la Llorona

and the banshee are the same women

protecting children from the

labyrinths full of bored men.

Dope

Once at a bar

where the bartenders know my name

a young law student asked me

if I sold dope? I said

no. I was only there to assimilate.

Maybe it was my red, black, and green

striped bag my mother gifted me. A bag

she purchased when she visited

Chiapas that inspired this stereotype,

or perhaps I reminded him of his

former mota retailer, greying hair, blue eyes,

undolled-up, relaxed, alone in a bar.

It bothers the young the most, being

wrong about their expectations. That first

pathetic drunk night. The beer warm,

the music not funky enough. Or the special

night, getting sexed up in the small car.

The romance mimicking a PBS

wildlife mating show.

Once after high school basketball

practice, my friend, Maza, smiled and explained,

he liberated his mom’s Percodan. His fingers

uncurling like a jump shot follow through,

exposing the small plastic bottle.

The fact that one day everyone who

loves comic books realizes

Superman is undocumented.

(Talk about labor exploitation).

I think the law student counted the number

of cigarettes that remained in the pack, rose up,

smiled, walked over and shook my hand. It

was fine I couldn’t help him get high.

He walked out like a penguin

waddling to the edge of the iceberg.

Scooby Doo Backpack

In 10th grade English class most of the students

desire their driver’s permit and then license.

In their eyes the world will suddenly

become awesome…a rap song crescendo,

and everyone will love them, buy them

cokes and potato chips, when they acquire

their driver’s license. They crave a

freedom that a driver’s permit must deliver.

So these questions seem right for the time.

What does the blinking red light mean?

You can’t pass in a school zone? What’s

the fine for parking near a fire hydrant?

But one day early in the semester he showed

anyone who wanted to see it, his

ankle monitor. He just lifted up his pant leg

and there it was, secured with a thick black

Velcro strap. I knew the situation. Caught dealing

drugs out of his Scooby Doo backpack

at his last school. Even this day,

his notebook and pens

were still in the classic cartoon

backpack. The Great Dane exposing

a huge smile, Shaggy, his sidekick wearing

dark sunglasses and looking content.

The Class had questions. What happens if you remove it?

Does it hurt? Itch? What if you shower?

Batteries or do you plug it in and charge It up?

He looked like the other teens. Pimples,

and anxious about the crowds around

the restrooms. Almost everyday he said the school did

not have enough bathrooms. No way

you can take care of business and get

to class in seven minutes with the crowds.

He did the classwork. Read out loud like the

others, asked questions about words

and engaged in class discussions.

Decriminalize dope, private prisons are whack.

Then we read Romeo and Juliet. She kissed him

Without knowing his name? She’s a slut. But

Romeo didn’t know her name too.

He’s a player. The double standard making

even him chuckle.

After most of the school year, his desk

missed him for a week and I went to investigate.

The counselor told me that the administration

kind of suggested he find another way to

complete his 10th grade. Just too much for

the school to worry about. The reputation

getting around. The walls threatening

the ceiling. The floors waiting to open up

under everyone’s feet.

About the Author

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith

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Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith was born in Merida Yucatan, grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and taught English at Tucson High Magnet School for 27 years. He graduated with a degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona and his writings have appeared in 580 Split, The Laurel Review, the anthology, America, We Call Your Name and others. He has been retired for almost 4 years and fills is days with adventures, writing workshops and volunteer work.