Blood in the Water
I got a bad feeling staring through that window at those little girls. Like the feeling I got when my father told me my mother was sick but not to worry.
“Rosalinda, we need to get back to your Play Room right now.”
This time I picked up Rosalinda and carried her as I retraced our steps out and down from the second floor. To get her cooperation I held her facing forward sitting on my left arm leaning back against my chest with my right arm holding her around her waist. “You’re flying the airplane!” I said. I released her waist and held up my thumb, “Here’s how you steer!”. She grasped my thumb and I made propeller noises, dipping and swerving as she turned my thumb. Her shrieking laughter almost hurt my ears and I wondered if this was really the best way to sneak back into the Play Room.
“Coming into the airport,” I said as we entered the Play Room. And of course there was a crowd at the “terminal”: Pastor Maximón in his wheelchair, Lucas, Esmeralda, Irma, and Itza.
“Hail, Cesar,” smiled Pastor Maximón, “I see you have conquered.”
All I could say was, “Pastor Maximón, my friends call me Alonzo.”
Lucas muttered to me, “What friends?”
Esmeralda pinched his arm.
Irma put out her arms for Rosalinda and I handed her over.
“We were just playing ‘airplane’ in the hallways,” I said as matter-of-factly as I could. Itza smiled but the way she stared at me made me feel like blood in the water.
Pastor Maximón said in a booming voice, “Alonzo, you are really going to feel good about today. We are making a TV commercial that will show the good work we do here and make an appeal for support from viewers for the Mudéjar Orphanage.”
Two men entered the Play Room with camera equipment. “’Bout ready?” smiled the husky director wearing the Oakland Raiders baseball cap. He gave directions to his cameraman partner about lighting and angles. “So, Pastor, we’re going to have children all around you and you will hold the little girl with no legs on your lap. Your wheelchair will be a nice touch, by the way. So let’s cue the children, OK?”
Itza went to a door at the other end of the Play Room and opened it. Children limped, hobbled and wheeled in like a defeated army. Itza carried little Belicia and placed her on Pastor Maximón’s lap. Itza and the cameraman arranged the children in a semi-circle behind Pastor Maximón.
Little Belicia began to weep.
Rosalinda ran over, “Don’t be scared, Belicia. Being on TV is fun.”
“OK, kid, you gotta move,” said the director.
“No,” said Pastor Maximón, “She will be fine. She is Belicia’s friend and she will comfort her little nerves.”
“You dah boss, Pastor. Let’s try one, OK?”
Rosalinda reached up and held little Belicia’s hand. Pastor Maximón snuggled against little Belicia’s cheek.
Pastor Maximón said to the camera, “Dear ones, this is little Belicia. Isn’t she pretty? But life has not been pretty for little Belicia. She lost her family and she lost her legs in the recent terrible earthquake.”
I looked at Belicia and she caught my eye. Jesus damnation, I heard her voice in my head! “I was mad at Mama and I ran away outside and I said I didn’t like her and the big earthquake came and my house fell down on Mama and my tree fell down on me and I want to tell Mama I’m sorry.”
Tears began pouring down Belicia’s face as she stared at me.
“Perfect!” I heard the director whisper.
“If not for the generosity of you, Dear Viewers, what would become of little Belicia? She has no family. Where would she go? There is no place for her except in your generous hearts. Won’t you help the Mudéjar Orphanage to help Belicia?” Pastor Maximón kissed her hot streaming tears.
<For previous chapters, search “scorpion” on my blog>
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