Due to recent events in Furguson, MO, I felt it was a good time to share this excerpt from Chapter Six of Chuy De Cabra • The Journey Home • El Chupacabra.
The book is about Chuy de Cabra’s search for self discovery, his life on the streets of East LA, and his travel through mystic portals to other worlds. This excerpt is a window into Chuy’s world mixed with social commentary.
I have been working on this book for years, and this excerpt was written several years ago and was once the opening to the book.
I plan to post a new excerpt each week. Your posts, email response and opinion would be appreciated.
Che Che and the Land of the Free
“You have to take control of your environment, be positive, focus…that’s a bunch of crap!”
The two had been sitting in Che Che’s Continental having Tommy’s hamburgers for breakfast. Che Che sucked down a mouthful of creme soda and continued.
“You’ve been out of the barrio too long, Little Cousin, you’ve forgotten. If you’re a minority and you see those colored lights flashing in the rearview mirror, your whole life flashes in front of you. Your heart starts pumping, sweaty palms, panic. You’re not thinking, Did I run a red light, was I going too fast? You just wonder, Has my time come, is it time for me to go down? – just because you’re brown, just because you fit the description. It may sound silly but, you know, at that moment you realize that the land of the free is only free as long as they allow it. That freedom can be revoked at any moment. I’m not talking about immigration, deportation, I’m talking life and death. I’m saying, that cop flipped a switch and, at that moment, your freedom was revoked.
It’s Saturday afternoon. You’re not out cruising the boulevard, you’re on your way home from Safeway with a trunk full of groceries. The oranges you bought from that pretty girl who stands in the median, fresh tortillas from Gabriela’s. So, you sit there and panic turns to anger. You say to yourself, Shit, I’m so tired of this. This is the third time in two weeks.
PLEASE STEP OUT OF THE CAR.
“These alarms go off in your head, like fingernails across a chalkboard. Dude, you know, I saw this program on PBS where they took that nails-on-a-chalkboard sound frequency and tried to match it with other sounds in nature. You know what they came up with, dude? It matches the screeching sound monkeys make when there is danger. Does that mean that we are all a bunch of changos and our forefathers lived in trees? I don’t know, but I do know that when you’re a Chicano, would you please step out of the car! is right up there with every alarm known to man.
You’re thinking, shit! this is it! The adrenaline is pumping, you move very slowly keeping your hands in full view, trying to keep them from shaking.
PLEASE OPEN THE TRUNK.
“The sun is blazing down, the trunk is filled with bags of groceries.
PLEASE REMOVE THE BAGS
AND PLACE THEM ON THE CURB.
“Cal-ma-te…be cool, I say to myself. I start moving the bags, placing my family’s food on that filthy sidewalk, moving slowly, being careful not to make any sudden moves. The ground beef. The oranges you bought from that pretty girl who stands in the median, the fresh tortillas from Gabriela’s. And then, bam! A bag breaks and the food starts hitting the ground. I hear a car back fire, then boom! I’m on the ground with salty tomato paste all over my face. Then I realize, I didn’t buy any tomato paste…and poof! I’m out of it.
Next thing I know, I’m being charged with assault on a police officer. Now, tell me how could I have been more positive? How could I have taken control of a situation that I had no control of to begin with?”
Che Che’s words echoed in Chuy’s ears. Maybe his cousin was right. Our people have no rights, there is no hope. Just a few hours ago, Chuy was sitting on top of the world. He was cracking jokes and flirting with female callers as he filled the airwaves of Los Angeles with music. He had thousands of friends with whom he shared his comic philosophies and ethnic humor. Now, he sat staring at the concrete walls of the holding tank at the Santa Monica substation. Would you please step out of the car. Che Che was right about one thing, Chuy thought to himself – like nails across a chalkboard.
Copyright ©2014 Max Uballez. All Rights Reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part, in any form. This publication is protected under the Copyright Act of 1976, and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws; no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including the use of information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Copyright Owner.
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Paperback ISBN978-0-9909308-0-8 (6 x 9, 159 Pages)