The Rio Grande

Image of Emily P.

Emily P.

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“What do we do now?”
“Put him in my trunk,” Dean said.
“Are you sure about that?”
“ Get his legs, Kev.”
Without hesitation, Dean bent down and was ready to get his arms. I gazed at Joe, on the cold concrete in his own blood, and beneath a sheet of ice. I thought about his mother, with her dementia becoming worse, and whether she would remember her Joey. Winter had just begun, the holidays were due soon, and, yet, I yearned for Spring.
He was a heavy guy for someone who weighed 180 and he hit the inside of the trunk like the sound of a bowling ball colliding with a lane.
“I wanna be in Laredo by tomorrow,” Dean said.
The smokestacks began to blur and I thought about my own father, who worked the graveyard for many years. He was a decent man, but not in the days I knew him.
“My dad was good man,” I told Dean.
“Don’t let him know that” Dean said, “He’d tell you to be a man about this.”
Dean had to turn up the radio to keep Joe quiet. We passed cornfields and one-stoplight towns. I thought about the families in houses that were white, pink, and baby blue as Dean began to talk about his Uncle, who owned a farm in these prairies until the Depression. Then, his talk drifted into whether his son would miss him while he was gone and how he never got anything out of serving his country. I didn’t need to hear any of it, but it took my mind off of things.
“If Joe had kept his mouth shut,” Dean said.
“What about his mother?”
“Ain’t nobody gonna come looking. They’ll say, ‘Joe? Joe Who?’”
We hit Fort Worth as the sun began to wipe the moon out of the sky. I wondered about the men in Kansas City clanking their pails as they were relieved from their shift just as my father once was. As much as I wished for my eyes to be closed forever, Dean awoke me when his Thunderbird reached the river's edge in Laredo. The afternoon sun casted a bright light on us.
“You think they're out there?”
“Ain’t no feds looking for us” Dean said.
We took Joe out of the trunk and let him have his peace in the murky river. His eyes glowed on me as he sunk further until the glow disappeared. Dean then gave me a pat on the back, as though I’d won a championship. But, I felt like I lost. A grey cast took over the desert and Dean thought that it might rain.
“Better get out of here” he said.
His visions of Mexico were an escape. Mine were hollow and would etch at my skin until it broke. I didn’t want to go but, we couldn’t stay in the old country. It was time move on.

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