Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Tortilla Curtain (copy)

The scene plays over and over in my head. I cannot stop it. When I make coffee the black tar on his teeth seems to gnaw at me. When I fold the laundry his crumpled up leg appears in the basket. When I bend down to feed the cat his row of ribs void of fat thrust out towards my hand. Even the day the coyote took our precious dog, Sacheverell, I saw the red in his watery blood-shot eyes penetrating me from that mangy beast.


I hit a man in my car the other day as I drove up the canyon to our home in Arroyo Blanco Estates. The damage minimum as a headlight and dent in the bumper were easily replaced and hammer out. It was the thought of his body flying in front of the car then doing some aerobatic maneuver that has me stunned and reliving the event.

Where did he come from? There are no houses on this stretch of highway. There are no businesses. It was like he appeared, did his act for my entertainment, and then magically disappeared all in the blink of an eye; unfortunately, it is my blinking eye or eyes. This scene plays as a rerun in slow-motion video for a dazed crowd who cannot accept the foul.

Foul is a light smell in comparison to the man I found ten minutes later. Had I not heard his moaning under the brush along the path to Topanga State Park, I believe I could have sniffed him out. His homeless look of tattered rags and oily hair now authenticated with his blood and sweat from the accident. He must be camping by the creek as I caught a glint of shinny shopping cart further down the path.

Are you hurt? Do you need a doctor? Can you walk? Do you want me to call you an ambulance? Didn’t you see my car? Why did you run into the road? All my questions were met with moans but no answer. Finally, the man grinned at me with his jagged blood stained teeth and said, “Monee?”

I handed him a twenty, got back in the car, drove to my soon-to-be gated community and cried.

This is my interpretation of main character Delaney Mossbacher in T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain. A character I did not like at first. He cares more for the environment as this incident is soon forgotten.

This story turns and twists like the canyon road setting in California northwest of Los Angeles. Adding nicely to our summer travel theme, we also go south of the border in flashbacks. ¡Lectura recomendada, si!

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