BUREAU OF ARTS AND CULTURE: SEPTEMBER EDITION
THEY CALL IT THE CITY OF ANGELS
SEASON TWO / EPISODE THREE / CHAPTER 25
THEY CALL IT THE CITY OF ANGELS
Many of Jordan's people were third generation Muslims and although praying five times a day was often for survival, food, a new job or in hopes that a loved one would come home unscathed, they did practice regularly. When Wanda got pregnant, some of Jordan's stricter friends at the mosque suggested that the girl convert, so the child could be assured a place in heaven with Allah. Wanda loved Jordan and would do most anything for him, but converting seemed a bit much to her. Wanda was a middle class working girl with a flair for fashion. She had an earthy style that was very cultural, but more in a reggae style rather than a strict way of living and eating and dressing. Jordan said it would be good for the family as a unit, but Wanda resisted. Some of his friends at the mosque suggested that he bring Wanda for a visit on a day when many of the ladies would be having a sale of all kinds of fashions for Muslim women, lots of scarves and accessories for the modern muslim woman. Jordan agreed that he would try. Soon enough, he had persuaded her to visit. Wanda met other muslim ladies, they ate, talked, welcomed her. Jordan bought Wanda a few new outfits with scarves and the plan seemed to be working. But then the guys at the mosque said that if Jordan wanted Wanda to be certified officially that she would have to make a statement that Allah was god publicly and then she could be given a piece of paper from the mosque stating that she was Muslim. Jordan knew that this was going to be difficult. Wanda believed in a heaven on earth, in the grand Rastafarian sense, that, like the Jewish people who were chosen, so too were the Rasta and that returning to Africa was equivalent to visiting Mecca for Jordan. "Why can't our baby be part Muslim and part Rasta ?", she wanted to know. Jordan laughed so hard that he fell off the couch, he rolled on the ground roaring. She was so beautiful and funny and sexy and smart and dedicated that he actually didn't really care what she was: this woman was giving him a baby and he was so damn in love that he was giddy. "Half Rasta and half Muslim ? Whats he going to do smoke all day and pray all night ?", Jordan joked. "Thats not funny, the Rastafari pray by their actions of righteousness.", she replied, "Yeah, but neither eat pork and I see you eating baby back ribs whenever possible.", "Jordan you a punk sometimes. You know that ?" He just shook his head, "I love you. I'm in love with you. I will do anything for you anytime, anywhere. Can't you just say that Allah is god and we can get on with our lives. You don't have to wear a scarf every day or change your fashion. It is just a symbol of unity between you, me and the baby." Wanda looked at him, "You just don't give up do you?", "Not on you I don't and never on this baby." They looked at one another for a long time, neither spoke, finally, Wanda said, "Yes", that she would visit the mosque and say the words. But she wanted him to know that the baby was going to have to decide for his or her self what to believe. Jordan agreed and the negotiation had ended. The day that Wanda had made the official statement, she had met more of the families of Jordan's friends. Several of them lived just a few blocks away and they had assured her that they would be there to support Wanda through the pregnancy and that one of the friends sold organic foods and would it be all right if they periodically dropped of fresh fruits and vegetables to the house? "Yes, of course, you are always welcome in our house", Wanda had said, trying to be kind and considerate of their offer. All of these events transpired over a period of time just before the riot. When Jordan went primetime with his Uncles guitar, everyone at the mosque was surprised at his actions and when he lost his job shortly thereafter, things looked even worse. Wanda thought it was embarrassing, but she also realized it was typical of Jordan. There was something slightly funny about it. The fact that he pulled the bus over, ran into the shop and then hopped back on the bus with his, 'family heirloom', as he put it, or as the guys in the band called instruments, 'his Axe', was downright humorous. But when Ted Koppel and other national news shows ran the image, she was hoping he could handle that kind of exposure. After all, Wanda had minored in journalism and when the station called for Jordan's side of the story, it was Wanda who helped him write his official statement. When the station wanted to conduct the interview in front of the burnt out remnants of the pawn shop, Wanda said no. Jordan eventually had made his statement in Leimert Park instead, with a group of Jordan's supporters and a group of people protesting the unjust decision that actually caused all the problems to begin with. It came off like a civic statement, instead of some ghetto style interview that normally was presented and the community rallied behind him.
Wanda was several years older than Jordan, she had been in this neighborhood back when the riots of 1965 happened and it brought back some terrible feelings. She had forgotten that Summer and now some of the memories were creeping back into her consciousness. Terrible images of racism, hatred, destructiveness and that feeling of simply being helpless. She remembered looking up at the adults and realizing that they weren't actually smarter than her, they weren't doing the right thing, they were hurting themselves and everything around them. Now the actual smell of ash and soot and wood and rubber and asphalt and sulphur mixed together began to make her nauseated. She remembered thinking that, back then, it was somehow her fault that the riot had started. Her parents had been quarreling over wether to visit relatives out of town or to stay in town for the summer. If they left town than none of Wanda's friends would be able to come to her birthday party. So, she made a big scene while her dad was out back burning trash. In those days most homes had a place to burn your trash, it served as a bbq on holidays and an incinerator whenever leaves or trash needed burning. After her little burst out, Wanda had ran off down the block to the park in tears, she had been spoiled by her mother and adored by her daddy, so these little outbursts were common. Like most kids she was easily distracted and had a large imagination, so when she got to the park, several hours passed quickly. When it was time to go home, Wanda found road blocks obstructing her usual path home. Police cars and firetrucks were everywhere. The entire block was going up in flames and smoke was everywhere. She stood on the corner while two big policemen began talking, one of them sat in the passenger side of the car with the door open, while the other stood on the sidewalk attending to the road block "So, what's this all about ?" the cop standing asked. "I'm not exactly sure.", the cop in the car answered, "But It looks like some crazy bastard got pissed off and decided to burn his own f*cking neighborhood down." Wanda heard that and ran as fast as she could to her Aunts house, which was a few blocks down. She had heard her Mom call her Daddy a 'crazy bastard' a whole bunch of times, so she knew for sure who them two cops were talking about. Wanda ran into the back door and into the kitchen, "Auntie, Auntie, help, help, my daddy's burning the neighborhood down cause mama don't want to leave to the lakes on account of my birthday. Help, we gotta put out the fire…", She collapsed into her Aunts apron and Uncle Milt walked in, "Whats this all, about ?" Aunt Mae just shook her head and said she didn't know, but that Milt better call over to the house and find out. Milt had been watching the beginning of the uprising on television and he and Wanda's dad talked about it a while, "Terrible Ain't it, gonna set us back a few years this kinda thing…", he handed the phone to Aunt Mae. Then Uncle Milt turned to Wanda, "Your Daddies house ain't on fire, sugar, were in the middle of an uprising girl." He picked her up and they watched the television coverage together. Aunt Mae came in a few minutes later and said that little Wanda was staying the night and that they was gonna be baking a peach pie together, "How does that sound ?" She just shrugged. Aunt Mae's patience only went so far, "You get your little butt upstairs and wash that face for dinner right now young lady." Then she added, "And by the way, your mother wanted me to tell you that you will be having your birthday at home this year. Wanda finally smiled, ran over and gave her Aunt a hug. All these years later, Wanda wished there was someone like that to hug right now, the doorbell rang and her wish came true. One of those, 'Watch - what - you wish - for' moments.
Baby was able to scrape up a one way ticket and enough money to get her hair done, buy a dress and a new pair of heels. When she got to Los Angeles, she already had Jordan's address from the Transit Authority, having lied and said his father was sick in the hospital. She hadn't seen Jordan's father in years, he could have been in prison for all she knew. By now, military soldiers were camped out everywhere, but the damage had already been done. Baby stopped into a local grocer who had somehow survived the uprising and picked up a big gallon jug of red wine, a large bottle of Southern Whiskey, a bunch of collared greens, peas, potatoes, a giant rack of ribs and a chocolate cake. When the cab pulled up to Jordan's, his Mama payed the driver, but asked him to wait until the door opened before he drove off. Just in case her 'famous son' was not home. When Wanda answered the door, Baby waved at the taxi driver and said, "I'm Jordan's Momma, Baby, and you are… ?" "I'm Wanda, Come on in, it's Florenze right ?", "People call me Baby." She walked right into the kitchen and started unpacking the groceries as if she had been living there her whole life. "What a pleasant surprise, Jordan is always talking about you and his daddy." Baby replied, "He may be talking 'About' us, but he ain't been talking 'To' us for quite some time." Wanda just let that barb go and helped to unpack the groceries. "Then, I don't suppose you knew that we are expecting." She held up her shirt and exposed a tiny bump of a tummy. Baby just looked at it and said ,"Girl, you better get to eating if that kids gonna have a fighting chance. I am going to cook up the best damn southern style meal you ever had in your life. But first I need to rinse off a thousand miles of railroad tracks, if you don't mind. Feel like I just went to town with John Henry himself. Wheres the bathroom honey ?" Wanda led 'Baby' into the den and suggested she put her things in there for now. She gave her a quick tour of the place and started a bath. For the next few hours Baby was holding court, playing music from their collection, making her original recipes and telling Wanda all those stories that mothers like to tell about their kids. Though, there weren't too many to tell, since Jordan had mostly been raised by Aunts and Uncles. Baby smoked cigarettes on the patio and continued to tell her stories without missing a beat.Talking through the screen at Wanda, who by now was falling into Baby's routine comfortably. Wanda hadn't consumed any alcohol in a couple months and decided to pour herself a glass. Baby was drinking whiskey on ice pretty regularly and continued to play Jordan's extensive collection of rare jazz, blues and soul records. "The kids got great taste in music, thats for sure." then she added, "I think he got a lovely lady here too." And she gave Wanda that hug she'd been wishing for. The two women were having a time. Wanda got tipsy from the wine, the music and all of the energy coming off of Jordan's Momma, who hadn't stopped talking since she walked in the door. As evening set in, Jordan came walking down the block from having recently visited a lawyer about his being fired, he decided to fight it on principle. As he came down the block with a bouquet of flowers, several of his friends from the mosque stopped to ask him how everything was going and they talked a bit.They had a box of fresh food for him and Wanda and Jordan immediately invited them over. The men, several dressed in traditional garb, hats, scarves, beards all discussed Jordan's recent response on television as they walked down the street toward the house. They were both excited and proud of the way he had handled himself on camera. Some of them were saying that maybe he had the type of leadership skills that could be good for the community. Jordan opened the front door to their place and the men walked in to find the two women dancing to James Brown and singing, "…Stay on the scene, like a sex machine, the way I like it, is the way it is … Get up, Get on up, Get up, get on up …". In her right hand, Wanda held a giant baby back rib, in her left, a glass of wine, she was wearing a bra and an african quilted skirt while dancing about the living room. Jordan's Momma had a cigarette dangling from her lips and was pouring a tall glass of Whiskey on ice. By the time James Brown was, 'Takin' it to the bridge', the two ladies turned to the front door and Baby screamed out, "Oh My God, theres my goddamn little revolutionary", Jordan stood there in the doorway, holding the box of organic vegetables in one hand an a bouquet of flowers in the other, his friends stood behind him: aghast. "Fellas", he said, "This here is my Momma." The men all looked at one another, the music stopped and Jordan's show had just gone primetime.
THEY CALL IT THE CITY OF ANGELS
Celia had always been a homemaker from the get go. She had dreamed of finding a good man and having kids most of her life and so, the dream had come true and she was a very contented person. Her daughters were smart, rambunctious, funny, and sometimes downright mischievous, not unlike the way she had been as a child. She kept up the house and the garden, had her hands full with the girls, cooked, did the laundry and through it all seemed to have found the perfect man to share her life. To her, Chuck was hard working, honest and cared about the world. So the day she found the recording device in his office, which she normally did not clean because it was usually locked when Chuck was not home, all hell broke loose. She pressed play and immediately a series of calls between Junior and his girlfriend began to play, "So what are you doing right now ?", "Nothing" "Can you come over ?" "No, I can't, maybe at the end of the week." "I miss you." "I miss you too." Celia fast forwarded to the next and the next and the next, she freaked. When Chuck got home that night, Junior and Lewis were gone on a fishing trip and the girls were already asleep. He walked into the kitchen and she said without hesitation or reservation, "I want to know why you had been recording my bother's f*cking conversations." Chuck just looked at her. "Look, When a guy gets out of prison, theres a chance that he can get involved in stuff that could end him right back in the joint. I did it to simply monitor him, make sure that he's not getting involved with the wrong people. "Oh yeah, well what If I got involved with the wrong people Chuck ?" She looked at him. "What if you got involved with the wrong people ?" He didn't respond. "This is my family, this is my brother, how could you do that ?" he said nothing, Celia continued, "Why, when there is a whole world of evil and ugliness and very bad people would you bring that type of scrutiny into my house ?" Now he got fired up, "Hey, this is our house. We have daughters. You don't know what kind of things even go in prison. I don't even tell you a small percentage of the stuff that I see everyday on the streets because I don't want you to become jaded." She just shook her head and crossed her arms, "We grew up here Chuck, my family has been through a lot. I lost a lot of friends before I even graduated from high school, did you know that ? So don't try to tell me anything about the goddamn streets. My first boy friend was killed by a kid from another gang simply because he answered the question, "Where are you from ?" to the wrong group of kids, "They blasted him in the back, Chuck. Understand ? You didn't marry some little white girl from Pasadena here. Junior is my only brother. I will not condone any type of surveillance of my family whatsoever: Do You understand ?" He looked at her directly but said nothing. "I will take these girls and go away from here so quick if I ever see or hear anything going on between you and my brother. He just did fifteen years for something that happened when he was a kid. He paid his debt to society. Now go out there and protect the public from harm. And I don't want to sleep with you tonight. I'm staying in the girls room." Chuck was devastated. He had never seen Celia so upset. Well, at least not in a couple of years. On top of that, Chuck had been assigned to handle riot crowd control tomorrow and didn't do very well on the job without the support of Celia, who was his rock of personal security. He sat in the kitchen and cried like a baby. Then he slept on the couch, got up early and was out of there before the girls awoke.
He and his partner were assigned to Long Beach at Signal hill, the night before, they had lost an entire row of shops to angry protestors and things were heating up. They were getting so much flack from people on the streets that is was more than discouraging, it was denigrating. Four cops had beat the hell out of a guy and got away with it in a court of law and now every cop in the entire city was being blasted with more hatred, more humiliation and down right aggression that many of he cops were feeling defeated. Chuck was among that group. He knew a few real assholes on the squad and thought: Why should I be talking abuse because someone else can't do the job properly. They spent the afternoon showing their presence to not much effect. People still looted and pillaged, even in front of the show of force. At one point, things got so bad that a group of police were forced to simply stand by and watch things burn to the ground. Chuck told his partner, "I am not going to arrest some kid for stealing a pair of shoes that cost five dollars and ninety-nine cents on principle alone. I won't do it," and his partnered just looked at him. They got back into the squad car and headed into down town. They got a call to visit activity up on Pine Street. On the way over, Chuck, who was sitting in the passenger side, noticed the beat up station wagon three car lengths ahead of them, "Wait a minute, drop back, drop back." His partner asked, "What is it ?" Chuck replied, "This guy in the station wagon, follow him, stay way back, keep a couple cars between us." "What is it Chuck ? Were supposed to get to Signal hill." "Trust me on this one." His partner replied, "I've heard that one before.", "Just follow this guy,will ya ?" They followed him as he drove down a few streets and up another and parked the car in the drive way of a home. The man grabbed what looked like a twenty-five pound bag of rice, put it on his shoulders and carried it through the back entrance. Chuck wrote down the address and cross street. When the man exited, two girls got into the back seat of the station wagon and they drove toward the bridge. Chuck said to follow them. Now his partner was getting upset. "Chuck, you better know what you are doing here." "I do, now just follow this guy." They drove up and over the bridge, the man headed directly to the house where Chuck had dropped off the girl. Then Chuck ran the sirens, cranked the lights, and called it in. "We've got a random traffic stop at …" he gave the address. The two girls panicked and ran into the house. Chuck asked for back up and also requested coverage at the address on the house on the other side of the bridge. He pulled out of his gun, asked the man to raise his hand sand exit the vehicle. He told his partner to watch this guy and kicked in the front door, the girls started screaming. The woman sat in the kitchen watching the riots on an old television on the counter, "Put your hands on your head and stand up with your back against the wall." He saw the back door was wide open and when he looked in the yard, noticed an entire chemistry lab with metal barrels, all sorts of giant vats. He kicked in the door to the back structure and discovered two and a half pallets of meth. By then, his back up had arrived and the house was discovered to have eight different bunk beds crammed into three small rooms and a handful of underaged girls scattered throughout the house. When they included the contents of both houses, it became one of the biggest drug busts to date. The girl that Chuck had met in the park was the first to testify and the arrest of the couple led to the biggest ring of child trafficking cases and it busted the city wide open. Because of the Los Angeles riots, an arrest that would have normally made the front pages was relegated to a brief mention. Chuck didn't care, he wasn't looking to be a hero, he was looking to become a detective. When he got home that night, Celia had made a special dinner and all the girls were dressed in their finest. The living room table was set and the seating arrangement had been formal. He walked in the front door and Celia announced, "Girls, I want you to come in here, your father is home." The girls came running in and kissed and hugged their dad. Chuck looked at Celia, he was still unsure. She grabbed him and said, come here, "I want to see what its like to make love to a detective," and she gave him a kiss that even made the girls react. Chuck had finally made detective.
Sam's family had rallied behind Fred ever since his lawyer began to support their son, who had made a dire mistake by attempting to collect on the insurance deed on Fred and Sam's store: by creating a fire. This little event complicated and slowed down the eventual process of Fred being able to collect on his insurance due to the damage caused during the actual riots. Because Fred's store had been entered into first, this allowed for him to collect a full insurance payment for theft and damages. After all had been said and done, it was strange for both Fred and his dead partner's family that, 'a fire and insurance', would somehow end up settling their differences. It took months of waiting and processing, but eventually, Fred received a check and split the value accordingly with Sam's family. Surprisingly, he and the boy had become friends. Ever since his father Sam has passed away, the boy had drifted into loneliness and despair, which led him to do the kind of things he did to the store. They had named the boy Alex. Fred and Alex spent a few afternoons together, boarding up the front of the store directly after the riots, his mother demanded it. But after a while, the two became close. Fred began to tell Alex stories about his father that made the boy laugh. Things that Sam had done to deflect abuse that happened to just about every immigrant class to enter America. He explained how they had worked in the factories and warehouses and canneries, the back breaking work, the dismal pay, the names they were called and when they were actually offered money by the government to start their own jobs and businesses, they had jumped at the chance.
Back then to own a liquor store was a tried and true respectable business, it was a corner market, a convenience store, as they were once called. Now, Fred explained people were saying there were too many liquor stores in that part of town. Fred looked around and eventually had to agree with them. He and the boy went fishing and eventually decided that they would go into business together. Fred had his sights on the next big wave of services to provide. Everybody was talking about yogurt being the next big thing, second to that, water infiltration. Both were good for people and both could be sold to folks from low and middle income families. Fred knew that on his own, he could only afford to open one store, but if he and the boy as well as Sam's wife went in together, they could have a few very small stores throughout the city. Fred said that he was getting too old to run the places himself and that if Alex and his siblings stepped up, they could have their own places to run and eventually have their own stores altogether. Alex asked the man point blank, "Why would you want to go into business with me ?" Fred stared long and hard at the young man, but said nothing. Then he simply stated, "Anyone willing to do what you did to get what you wanted has the guts and the tenacity to deal with the challenges that will come our way with this business. People are sometimes hard to deal with. The stores are sometimes vandalized. All kinds of things can happen. Just the fact that you and I have become friends is a sign that we can transform this into something better. Besides that I owe it to Sam, too." Then Alex said, "I think I would make a good American business man, if you show me how." Fred put his hand out and the two men shook on it. When everyone in the family found out that Fred and Alex were going into business, it sent a ripple of hope through their community.
They were back in business within eighteen months and now had three stores, two for water and one for fresh yogurt that was served with berries and other fresh fruits, Fred called it Josie's, they played a constant track of hip retro music and designed the place with her favorite colors. Fred enjoyed being around Sam's family, the young adults and their kids became his second family in a way and if anyone had a problem, needed someone to talk to, they went straight to Fred. By now, the second trial prosecuting the police officers who had originally been found innocent had been completed and two of the officers had been found guilty, they did time and lost their jobs on the force. The entire fiasco transformed law enforcement in the city of Los Angeles forever. For the opening of 'Josies', Fred called Ryan's little brother to play live music. Since that original meeting, the band had been signed by a record label and had actually gotten lucky with a hit single that played on alternative pop stations. So their appearance at Josies became an event. The band's label had demanded that Fred hire extra security for the opening night concert which was to happen in the parking lot of his new business. He couldn't really understand why, but when he drove up to the store at nine a.m., a group of about a hundred kids had already lined up. By the time, the band showed up, the entire street was flooded with young music fans. Apparently, Ryan's little brother and his girlfriend had become a total out and out hit. They now had a full band that was part reggae, part punk and a touch of soul. "Hey everybody, welcome to the grand opening of Josie's. This city has been through a lot of tough times, but no matter what, we are a city and we need each other. We don't play cover tunes anymore, as you all probably know by now, we play originals. But for the sake of remembering a beautiful person who couldn't be here with us today, we would like to sing one of her favorite songs, her name is Josie, the song goes like this …"
THEY CALL IT THE CITY OF ANGELS
New Fiction By BUREAU Editor Joshua TRILIEGI
Each Chapter is Written Consecutively in a 24 Hour Period without Notes & Published
SEASON TWO / EPISODE TEN / CHAPTER 32
Junior and Louis had done the impossible and yet, for Junior, it was only the beginning. He still had to follow through with his assignments. The first was to visit an upholsterer just outside of Mexico City. That was going to take a day, then he had to get back up to the border, which was another 30 hour drive. He talked Louis into staying on at the ranch. The adobe abode to the East was made available and Louis could live comfortably there for the time being. There was no reason for him to return to work as a busboy at this time, he had been given a new bank account and was now just soothing into the idea that he was now a Don. This was his Ranch and he was now an active partner as opposed just the guy renting the place to someone else. Because of the fact that Rafael and his family had started their business entity with Louis' original stock of animals, trees and machinery, it gave him an actual interest in the advancement of that stock in a financial way as mentioned in his original rudimentary contract. Now, the new contract included a salary, a percentage breakdown of stock at various levels and allowed for Louis to stay on the property as long as he desired. Junior had done well by his father and when he called the members of his circuit, they told him that the reward he had been promised had now been delivered and he would have to work hard to retain that reward. He agreed to do so and they gave him the exact address and location of the upholsterer outside of Mexico City. He was told to order the new seated upholstery in red leather with white piping and to be sure that he was there at the opening hour. Then he was to drive back up to the border and enter back into the United States at five in the afternoon, two days after the upholstery had been completed. Which meant he would be driving fifteen hours a day. Junior was told that an event was going to happen at the border. His job was to delay the officials from apprehending a group of individuals who will be crossing into America at the same time. Which could mean any number of actions depending on the day's circumstances: keep the attention of other guards, distract through some form of activity, obstruct the pathway of anyone in pursuit and if all else fails, if you see an action happening elsewhere, to make a scene for no reason at all. Junior said he understood. Junior got into his car and headed for Mexico City
Junior was parked out in front of the upholsterers when they opened up. He began describing what he was looking for: red leather with white piping. The man looked at him kind of funny and repeated very slowly,"Rojo and Blanco" ? Junior shook his head yes, "Front and back. Right away." The man ran to the back of the store, he got on the telephone, made a quick call and grabbed his tools to begin removing the seats from Juniors car. While Junior sat in the front of the store a man dressed as an old style monk entered the store carrying a small leather bound object wrapped in a roll. The two men talked and then the man sat next to Junior. He spoke in a broken english, "So you are getting your seats improved ?" "Yes," Junior replied. "Have you seen our church yet ?" "No, I just got into town." The man continued, "It is going to take most of the day, why don't I show you around and give you a tour ?" Junior sussed up the guy, "I would like to see the church. Are you a Father," he asked the man ? "No, I am more like a brother, you might say." He continued, "This is the best leather craftsman in all of Mexico City, How did you come about utilizing his services ?" Junior was hesitant, "My father owns a ranch near Centro, we heard that this was the best place to get saddles long ago." "And so you choose red leather with white piping. How did you come to make that choice ?" Now Junior was unsure of this guy, "Well, I have always liked that particular combination. You know, the purity of white and the passion of red." Now the man became animated and asked if he would like to see the church now. Junior agreed and the two men walked a few blocks and entered through the side. "You know that long before the churches were built, before the spaniards came, the Indians used this exact same location for their ceremonies. Prayer, music, healing, deep thought, meditation, marriage, community, ecology all stem from the original Indians." Now Junior was getting interested, he had been thinking much about his experience with the Indian from his childhood and he spoke up quickly, "As a very young boy, I experienced many things with a local Indian, he gave me lessons, including bear medicine," he added the word, "brother." The man from the church continued, "There is a new movement that is happening here in Mexico and around the world. Indigenous peoples are rediscovering their history and making a direct link with the pre conquistador experience. It is not a rebellion, it is an awakening, an awareness of our power. Many people both within the church and without have come to a major realization that the individual is the power. Yes, we are a group of people. But each person must find their own personal power, as Jesus found his…" and he pointed up at the crucifixion. "But what kind of power is that, to die in such a way ?" He looked at Junior, placed his hand on his shoulder and said, "Every man and every woman and every animal and even the plant life, must die, but what did you do with life ? What did you do with death ? To inspire so many millions of people, was that not a death worth dying ?" Junior looked at the man as he went on, "The Indians have made peace with the church and with themselves, but we are not fools, we are not puppets, we are not living in fear of crucifixion as we once did. When men in boats rode horses into our villages and exposed us to the image of a man tied to a cross. Can you imagine how that image was originally interpreted ?" Junior thought about it. Then the man continued, "That image scared the original Indians, it was an illustrated threat that said: This is what we will do to you, if you do not cooperate." Junior had misjudged the man, he was actually a radical. "Where do you live ?", the man asked. "In America", Junior replied. "Where in America ?" the man asked. Junior then answered, "I live in Los Angeles." The man said out loud, "The City of ANGELS" and pointed to all the paintings on the walls. "Have you been to Broadway ?" he asked. Junior thought he meant Broadway in New York, "You mean the street ?", he asked. "Yes, that street is actually called, 'Eternidad', it was a Mexican Street in a Mexican City and State and Country, long before Pico and Sepulveda pushed the Indians off their property, so they could gain some for themselves. You recognize those names too, eh ?" Junior replied "Yes, brother." The man continued, "Long ago, a man came to this church and he brought a box of sacred objects from Europe, from Italy and from the Middle East. It is said that he had travelled the world to protect the ancient objects and relics and so, many were replicated, so that the actual original objects could stay in the hands of the people, instead of the many institutions and when I use the word, 'institution', I am actually referring to the very place that you and I are standing. The people of this planet feel that they own the right to their great teachers and Gods: Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Sellasie, Muhammad, Yahweh, the great one, all mighty god and to some, to the Indians, the very earth itself. You are now apart of something. This is bigger than you and me and this church and anything you could have ever imagined." Junior didn't say a word. The two men walked up the stairs to the top of the bell tower and looked over the city. "Imagine all this before conquistadors. Villages, teepees, ancient astrology, sciences, medicines, sports, agriculture, time systems: we are a noble people. You are a man with a very important mission." Then the old man halted his speech, turned to Junior and said, "Now, lets get something to eat, I'm starving." And the two men walked back down the steps. Junior began to like this guy.
Junior had spent the entire day with the old man and his imagination was now swirling with ideas. He didn't know why, but he was feeling very much alive. When the man walked him back to the upholsterer, the work had been completed. Junior was amazed, how could one man do all that in eight hours? When he walked into the back room, he saw a team of men sitting around a small table playing cards and laughing up a storm."I have come to pay for the work." Junior announced in spanish, the owner told him the cost again and Junior paid the man. "Well, Brother…," he told his tour guide, "It has been a fascinating afternoon and I appreciate your company." The man was visibly touched by Junior's leaving, "You have a long journey ahead of you. So I want you to be very careful. As you had recognized long ago, this place here makes the best saddles in all of Mexico City, but only a great man can handle great power. Remember, the conquistadors wielded their power over us with horses, but now, we have learned to ride. Handle your power well young man. Complete what you have bargained to do and be very careful as you enter back into America. You would not have been be the one chosen for this task had you not already been tested. Any man who lives in the dark for so many years is sure to recognize the light. If blood is spilt, be sure it is not yours, but if it be yours, do not fear for god is on your side." The old man had gotten so worked up that tears began to stream down his face and as Junior drove off, he began to wonder what the f*ck this was all about. As he looked in the rearview mirror, the group of men had come out from the back room and a small argument broke out between the men. It appeared that his tour guide was being chastised by the upholsterer, but he couldn't be sure. He had a job to do, so he got back on the road and headed north. He was just a day or so away from completing his mission.
Junior was half a day ahead of schedule, it was now Sunday. He hadn't seen a bullfight since he was a teenager and decided to attend. Plaza del Toros was a giant arena, the size of Dodger Stadium. It was beautiful cylinder shaped structure that sat just a mile or so from the coast and could be seen by those driving both south and north. Bullfighting was not just for the tourists, nor was it just for the wealthy. Not unlike other sports, a seat up front went for more than a seat in the bleachers, but when Junior was a kid, he noticed that to watch the bullfight from above, gave it a sense of ceremony and even majesty that a seat up front could not provide. He was so nervous about the coming event at the border and making sure that he was there at the exact time and place, that this was just a way to bide his time. He had always loved the pageantry of the event and found it a hypocrisy when people who ate red meat, wore leather belts and shoes and in general approved of the killing of bulls for food and fashion, but not in an ancient ritual. Most of the people who claimed to dislike the sport had never attended and had no idea that if the bull actually gored the toreador and won, then he was saved and set free to roam the ranches at will. Junior had never actually seen a bull win, but that possibility was always imminent throughout the ritual. He parked the car up front and noticed, for the first time in his life, the wealthy people of his fathers homeland. A group of men and women entered in their Sunday best, it was an entire family. The daughter was a healthy girl with a beautiful face that was both adorable and despicable at the same time. She was extremely attractive, the kind of woman that a man like Junior had never been close to, but had always been curious about. She wore a dark dress, her eyes flashed deep black that matched her hair which was braided in a way that looked like a work of art. Her skin was light coffee and she was obviously a woman, not a girl. Her eyes and lips were painted tastefully and Junior fixated on the girl. Then he saw that she was trying to get the attention of a young man among her friends, when the young man turned around, Junior saw the man next to him was Rafael, the younger man must have been his son Rafi and this was most likely the family that had invested in Junior's father's ranch. Junior saw Rafael and tried to avoid him, but Rafael had already caught his eye and excitedly, waved him over. "Junior," he shouted, and Junior waved and walked over to meet everyone in the group. "Everybody, I would like you to meet the son of Don Louis, the American businessman who owns the property and is now a partner in our family business," he said in spanish. Louis Junior shook hands with the men, said hello to the girls and the older women and when introduced to the Lady he had fixated on, he grabbed her hand, bowed, held it to his lips and handed it back to her. This was a very antiquated and dignified tradition he had seen in the movies when he was a boy and it caught the attention of the older folks. The women giggled and the men smiled. Then it came time for Junior to meet Rafael's son, "So, you're the crazy American Indian I've been hearing so much about from my father." He said in pitch perfect english. Junior laughed and to match him, tried his best to respond in proper spanish, "And you are the brilliant young scientist who went to University in Mexico City." Everybody laughed. They shook hands and now the girl with the deep black eyes was trying to get both of their attention. It looked to be quite an interesting bullfight.