Jon looked just plain silly. Each of his toes sat wrapped in a neon red, blue and green Band-Aid. They looked like two rows of psychedelic enchiladas with Neosporin ointment substituting for the red sauce and melted cheese. He wriggled them up and down and smirked.
"Ouch!" Jon suddenly yelled. "They hurt!"
Claudio shook his head. "Mijo, Mama warned you not to stay in the pool so long. This happened last time. Don't blame us for your own bull-headedness."
All the skin from the bottom of each toe remained someplace in their neighbor's pool or pool filter. Sunday's barbecue with the Fujimotos consisted of Jon swimming for four hours while his parents and neighbors ate, drank and watched.
"Well, Papa, you should have made me get out."
For a nine-year-old, Jon was developing quite a smart mouth. This combined with his honest belief that he simply could do no wrong drove his father to distraction. What kind of adult will Jon become if he did not clean up his act? Claudio did what his wife instructed him to do whenever he felt a wave of anger start to rise. He counted to ten. Then, ever so slowly, he said, "We warned you, Jon, and you can't blame anyone else but yourself."
Jon started to say something but Claudio said through his teeth, "Don't even try to argue unless you want to lose TV privileges for a week."
Jon offered a blank look in self-defense.
"I mean it, Jonathan Cohen-Ramirez."
Claudio's use of Jon's full name had the intended affect. Jon looked down to his toes and then headed to his room to get dressed for summer day camp. He walked on his heels splaying his toes dramatically. "OOOCH! OUCH!" he exclaimed with each step.
"Hurry it up. We're going to be late."
Claudio headed downstairs to make Jon's breakfast. Jon's mother, Lois, clutched a mug of coffee as she leaned against the kitchen counter. Claudio entered the kitchen and looked at her. She had already showered and wore her short floral robe. Though forty, she looked ten years younger with almost translucent skin and a long exquisite neck like Audrey Hepburn. Lois kept her dark blond hair short. A few gray hairs blended in with her natural lighter streaks. Silently, Claudio came close to Lois and slowly put his arms around her tiny waist.
Lois fell out of her trance. "There's too much going on. Work. Getting ready for the new school year. The miscarriage stuff. My head's going to explode."
"I know. But we always made it through."
Lois looked out the window at the cypress trees that lined the back wall. "Six miscarriages. Six. And Jon is already nine years old. Even if all goes well this time, Jon will be ten or eleven if we get pregnant again. That's such a huge gap."
"I'm content to stop."
"You can't say I didn't give it an honest chance."
"I said that we could stop long ago. You're the stubborn one. A litigator to the end."
Lois laughed. "Yeah. I'm a pit bull."
Claudio leaned in and nuzzled Lois' neck. He breathed deeply of the L'Air du Temps. Lois had been using that perfume since they met in law school eighteen years ago. It'd been two weeks since they made love.
"I wish we had time this morning," Lois said reading his mind. "But I've got a big conference call on the Jordan case."
"I could drop Jon off and come back."
"No, no. I don't have time. And neither do you."
"I know. A boy could dream, can't he?"
At that moment, Jon bounded into the kitchen forgetting his painful toes. "Hey, what's going on here?" he said with a laugh and quickly inserted his body between his parents. "That's my Mama!"
"That's my wife!"
"Oy! When is this Oedipal stage going to end?" laughed Lois.
"Never!" said Jon as he buried his face deeper into his mother's side.
"You don't even know what 'Oedipal' means," said Lois.
"I don't care!"
"Come on, guys," said Claudio. "We all gotta' get moving here. Mijo, let go of Mama. Come on."
"¡Aye Chihuahua!" and Claudio put his hands on his son's shoulders.
Lois rubbed Jon's cheek. "Come on sweetie. Mama's got a lot going on this morning. So does Papa. We have to get you to camp nice and early."
Jon tightened his grip. Claudio lost his patience. "Move it, mister! Do you want to lose TV privileges and your Pokémon cards, too?"
Jon didn't move.
"Uno, dos," started Claudio. "Don't let me get to tres!"
Jon finally let go of his mother and ran to the breakfast table. "Thank you," said Claudio. "I'll get your Pop Tarts ready."
Clem's head looked like a pot roast as it lay nestled heavily in the over-bleached pillowcase. He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the cottage cheese ceiling. Clem liked how there were little silver and gold sparkles spread randomly throughout the ceiling like a starry sky. He let out a snort after a few minutes and kicked the blankets off of himself. After a few more minutes, Clem gathered all of his strength and swung his fat white legs over the edge of the twin bed and forced his body into a sitting position.
"Shit," he muttered as he rubbed his face. Clem's belly hung over his boxers. His head suddenly popped up and his eyes widened. "Oh, shit!" Clem jumped out of bed making the springs groan and he ran to the window and drew the blinds. Dust filled the air and the bright morning sun magnified each particle that floated about Clem's head. His eyes darted back and forth as he searched the parking lot of the motel. He let out a sigh as he finally fixed on his battered green Ford van sitting in the far east corner of the lot just where he had parked it last night.
"There it is."
He dragged his feet to one of the two green vinyl chairs at the round wooden table in the corner of the small room. Clem sat down with a grunt and the chair clicked and cracked under his weight. Five empty 16-ounce cans of Bud Lite lay crumpled on various pamphlets near his wallet, keys and loose change. Clem rubbed his face and tried to clear his mind. What was today? Tuesday? Yes, it's Tuesday. His drive from Seattle had taken much longer than he'd expected. Clem wanted to have all of Sunday and Monday to make his plans but he got into the city late Sunday night. But he couldn't have predicted an overheated engine when he hit Bakersfield. That's all behind him, now. It won't matter soon. And, besides, he did perfectly good research on Monday. Now, all he had to do was make a final decision.
Clem stood slowly and his knees cracked. He laughed and stumbled towards the bathroom.
"Bye Jon," said Claudio. Jon was already milling about with his friends in front of the community center and the yellow buses sat by the curb. "I said, 'Bye Jon.'"
Jon looked up. "Oh. Bye Papa."
"I love you."
"Love you, too." Claudio wanted to kiss him again but he knew that that would embarrass Jon to no end. So, he waved and started to walk back to his car. Jon looked so big in his baggy T-shirt and even baggier shorts. And the way he tucked his thumbs under the straps of his backpack made him look like a teenager to Claudio.
When his father was a safe distance away, Jon opened his pocket and showed Joshua his contraband.
"You can't bring Pokémon cards to camp anymore," whispered Joshua.
"I know, I know. But I promised to show you my new Meowth card."
"English or Japanese?"
"English, of course," and he slipped the Meowth card out of his pocket and cupped it in both hands to hide it from Miriam the counselor. "Look, 50 HP and it's 56 of 64."
Joshua's eyes widened. "Wow. Want to trade for a Sandshrew?"
Jon laughed. "No way. Sandshrew is only 40 HP and he's 62 of 102. And he's a mouse, too."
"Who's a mouse?" asked Shoshana. She stuck her little head between Jon and Joshua so that her long black hair covered the Meowth card.
"Hey, get your hair away from my card! You'll get lice on it!"
"I only had lice once and that was two years ago!"
"Lice head, lice head," sang Jon as he pulled away. Miriam wandered by and Jon popped his card back into his pocket.
"Okay, kids," said Miriam in her deepest voice. "Time to get on the buses."
She walked around with a clipboard and scanned the children. At nineteen, she looked no more than fourteen because she stood five feet even and weighed about ninety pounds. Miriam had a cute perky way about her and the kids listened to her because she was cool. "On the buses, now!"
They had to travel ten miles north to the larger campus of the Jewish Community Center because the west campus couldn't accommodate the almost three hundred summer day campers. Fifty of them began their morning at the west campus and then at 8:30 they were loaded into the buses and transported to join the other two hundred and fifty children.
"Come on, folks! Load up!"
The children pushed and laughed their way onto the two idling buses. Jon and Joshua found a seat in back and settled in fast so that they could look at the Pokémon cards. The other bus left first. When the second bus followed, Miriam yelled out, "Who wants to sing songs?"
A cheer went up. "Damn!" said Jon. "I don't want to sing."
"We could just pretend to sing but keep on looking at the cards," offered Joshua.
"How about 'Pharaoh, Pharaoh'?" one of the girls asked to another cheer.
To the tune of "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen, the children began:
Whoa baby, let my people go!
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Jon looked up and smiled.
"Oh, I like this song!" he said. Jon put his cards away and joined in.
Clem sat at the counter of the International House of Pancakes and shoved large forkfuls of a cheese omelet into his mouth. He had gained thirty pounds in the last two months and his Army pants pulled tight at his waist. The waitress came by and refilled Clem's coffee cup.
"Late start this morning, hon?" she asked.
Clem looked up but kept chewing. He admired the waitress' sharp angular face and freckled nose. Clem sat straight and sucked in his gut. "Well, sometimes you have a little too much fun before a big day."
"Know what you mean," the waitress said.
"And today is a very big day."
The waitress put the coffeepot down and grabbed a wet sponge and started to wipe the counter though it didn't need it. "Big interview or something?"
"Sort of. A lot of folks will know me soon."
"Well, that's good, I guess."
Clem grew uncomfortable under the waitress' stare. He cleared his throat. "Live here long?" he asked trying to sound in control.
"Oh, no," she laughed. "Can't you hear my accent?"
Clem thought for a moment. "Texas?"
The waitress laughed again. "No, no, no! New Orleans. Never been in Texas. Just flew over it when I moved out here."
Both became silent and Clem started to shift in his seat. He noticed a tan line on her ring finger and saw her nametag had the name SARAH embossed in large white letters.
"So, you said you got a big day ahead of you?"
"Uh, yes, Sarah."
Sarah smiled. "Well, come by here after you're done. You can tell me more."
Clem shoved the last of his breakfast into his mouth. He moved his jaw with the determination of a prizefighter.
Sarah grabbed her hip with her left hand. "You're not from around here, are you?"
Clem looked at Sarah's breasts that were small but pulled tight within her uniform. He tried to will his groin to feel something but it was no use. It had been months since he had an erection and the more he tried, the more hopeless it seemed. This small talk will lead to nothing, so why bother? Clem took a gulp of coffee and then reached for his wallet. "Here. Keep the change." He stood, nodded and walked out of the restaurant.
Sarah watched him leave and sighed. "Just like those big men," she said to herself as she rang up the bill. "Those big men."
Clem reached his van and slid the key into the lock but he couldn't turn it. "Goddamn it!" He took a deep breath. The thermometer already hit one hundred degrees and the smog sat in the Valley heavy and thick like a dirty blanket. "No time to panic." Clem tried the lock again but this time he gently turned the key with a click. It finally gave a little and then turned. He opened the door and he began breathing again. The vinyl car seats let off heat in waves so he reached in and started the car so that the air conditioner could run for a while. Clem popped the Janis Joplin tape into the cassette player and the end of "Cry Baby" filled the van. After a few moments, he got in and pulled his sunglasses from under the seat. He reached behind him and grabbed a well-creased map of the city with red circles marking three locations. Clem studied the map and his neat notes by each of the circles. He closed his eyes and sat silently as Joplin started in on "Summertime." Suddenly, his eyes flashed open and he saw a woman walking across the parking lot holding the hand of a young boy.
"That's it!" Clem said. "You're a fuckin' genius."
Clem looked at the map again and traced one of the red circles with a thick index finger. His long fingernail made a scraping sound on the paper. Clem squinted and read the notes he had made near that circle and then he moved his finger from the circle to the nearest main street and connector freeway. His heart beat hard within his chest and he felt a wave of nausea wash over him. Clem leaned out the car door and vomited onto the hot asphalt. He sat for a moment breathing hard through his mouth. When he felt as though he would not retch again, Clem reached into the glove compartment, pulled out a Wet Wipe, cleaned off his face and threw the lemon scented paper towel onto the vomit. Clem snorted a small laughed because the towel landed in such a way that it looked like a circus tent. He shut the car door, put the van in gear, backed out and turned left at the exit looking for the freeway sign.
All of the different age groups were in the large field behind the community center. Jon's group - nine-year-olds who dubbed themselves the "Dr. Evil" team - were playing Ga-Ga in the miniature wooden corral. The game was a cross between dodge ball and soccer. Jon's shirt dripped with perspiration and it looked as though someone had dumped a bucket of water on his head.
"I need some water!" said Jon.
"Again?" said Miriam.
"It's hot. My Papa says that I have to make certain to rehydrate on hot days."
Miriam laughed. "Rehydrate? Jon, do you know what that means?"
Jon scratched his ribs. "Yeah. Get water in me. Like a plant."
"You're a funny little boy. You can go get some," and she pointed to a fountain near the eucalyptus tree.
"No," said Jon. "That water's hot. I want to go inside. The water is cold in there."
Miriam realized that Jon was right. "Okay, you can go in. Anyone else need to go? Tell me now or forever hold your peace."
Five small arms shot up. "Okay, then," said Miriam. "Jon, you're in charge of the water expedition. Joshua, Shoshana, Robert, Samuel and Leah: you guys follow Jon. Stay together and don't fool around, okay? No running. It'll be lunch pretty soon."
The six children marched to the main building with Jon in the lead. He liked how the counselors often put him in charge of the other children in the "Dr. Evil" group. He was the tallest of the nine-year-olds and one of the most verbal.
"Stay in line or else you're going catch Hell from me," Jon barked.
"Oooh, you said a bad word!" said Shoshana through a giggle.
"I meant 'heck,'" said Jon.
"No you didn't. I'm gonna' tell!"
"No you won't."
"Yes I will."
Jon had to think fast. "I'll show you my Pokémon cards later." He knew he had her. "Well, Shoshana?"
Shoshana had the worst crush on Jon. She giggled again. "Okay."
They continued their march past the pool where several senior citizens practiced their water ballet routines. The children giggled at the wrinkled bodies.
"That man has breasts," said Jon.
They continued down the cement steps and into the back door of the main building. As they opened the door, the strong rush of the air conditioning hit their faces and they let out a collective, "Aaaahhhh."
"Okay," said Jon. "Follow me."
Clem had gotten on and off the freeway three times and he was lost.
"Shit, shit, shit," he said as he got off the freeway yet again. "Goddamn city is too fuckin' big."
He saw a UNOCAL station and aimed his van towards it. Suddenly, he saw the name of the street he was looking for.
"Fuckin' aye!" and he made a hard right turn. Clem could see the community center not more than a half block away on the north side of the street. It looked bigger than it did yesterday when he cased it for about an hour. He drove past it and made a U-turn so that he could park right in front of the main building. After easing his van into a good spot with plenty of room for a quick departure, Clem went into the back of the vehicle. He pulled back the dusty tarp with a quick "thwap" and looked at his weapons and ammunition. Without much thought, Clem grabbed a 10-shot Model 26 Glock. He tried to stick the Glock into his pants' waist but there was no room so he shoved it into his Army surplus flak jacket. The jacket made Clem perspire in big droplets but he thought that it made him look tough so he suffered through the heat. He grabbed a modified Uzi with his right hand and got out of his van purposely leaving it unlocked and running. For a moment, Clem stood on the sidewalk just looking at the community center. He shivered and then noticed something strange: his groin grew warm. Clem smiled, rubbed his erection with his left hand and walked up the driveway to the double door entrance.
Claudio came back from the restroom and sat down at his computer. The day was chugging along pretty well. Claudio got Jon to camp on time and now he hammered away on an opposition to a motion for summary judgment.
The floor was quiet because most of Claudio's coworkers already sat in the State Building's cafeteria. He didn't join them because he had lunch plans at 1:00 with María Elena, a former intern of the Attorney General's office, who was now a young attorney in a boutique firm on the westside. She had learned of the office when she was an undergrad and attended a symposium on the professions Claudio helped plan for the Stanford Chicano/Latino Alumni Association.
As he typed, Claudio decided that he could use a little jazz so he turned on his radio. After a few moments of music, the disc jockey broke in and made an urgent announcement but Claudio only heard some of the words: "shootings" and "Valley Jewish Community Center" and "at least a dozen children and adults wounded."
"Oh my God!" Claudio jumped up and grabbed the telephone receiver to call Lois at work. No answer. Just voicemail. Claudio left a message that summed up what he had heard and said that he would be heading out. He then called his mother-in-law who lives near the community center.
"Claudio, what's wrong?"
"There's been a shooting a Jon's camp. Go there. Find him. I've left a message with Lois. I only got her Goddamn voicemail!"
"It's going to be okay. Just get there. I'll find you."
"Okay, okay. Bye."
Claudio grabbed his jacket, ran out of the building and crossed the street to the parking garage. When he got to his car, his legs started to buckle. Claudio realized that he had not taken a breath since he left the building. He leaned against his car and breathed deeply. Claudio rubbed the smooth paint of his Accord and tried to concentrate.
"Okay. You have to do this. You have to do this."
Claudio got into the car and started the engine but sat for a moment.
"Get your act together!"
He pulled out his car phone, set it on the passenger seat, turned on the radio and tuned to the all news station. Claudio put the car in reverse and then maneuvered out of the parking garage to start his twenty-mile drive to the community center as he concentrated on breathing evenly.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck!" he yelled as he got on the freeway and saw that the traffic was heavy for this time of day. In a few minutes, he broke out of the pack and was able to break the speed limit with ease. A news announcer gave out a number to call to find out about the status of the children. But it was busy, of course. Then Claudio tried to concentrate on the road so that he wouldn't crash and fail in his mission.
President Clinton offered words of condolence and resolve: "The terrible events today at the Jewish Community Center make us remember how fragile life is when one hate-filled man can obtain and use automatic assault weapons."
After the president spoke, the news announcer said that of the twelve people shot, six were boys and three of those were seriously injured and had already been airlifted to a university hospital. Was there one shooter or two? News reports were uncertain on that. Claudio felt guilty as he prayed that his son was okay when that would mean that someone else's child might die.
Claudio eventually got off the freeway and turned right on the light. He entered what looked like a scene from a disaster movie. Before him was an undulating crowd of police, firefighters, parents and neighbors. News vans had already set up their satellite dishes sticking high into the sky and reporters out numbered the parents three to one. Claudio saw a policewoman who directed cars away from the area.
Claudio put his window down and yelled out, "I'm one of the parents. Where do I park?"
The policewoman pointed to her left and yelled back, "Park anywhere down that street. Be careful!"
Claudio turned down the small residential street and parked his car about three feet from the curb. He grabbed his car phone and ran up the street and threw himself into the crowd. He quickly spotted his wife and mother-in-law.
Claudio clawed his way to them and enveloped them with his arms as if he could protect them from everyone else.
"Any news?" he asked.
"No," said Lois. "Nothing yet. They said that some of the kids are here right now but no names have been given."
Several news helicopters noisily hovered overhead like voyeuristic birds making it difficult to hear anything below a shout.
"And the injured kids? Any names?"
Claudio called his parents and left a message for them on their machine trying to sound hopeful. An hour passed and the sun grew hotter. Claudio looked at Lois and noticed that her lips were dry and beginning to crack.
"Look," he said. "The fire department is giving out water. I'll get some for us."
He walked over to the truck where volunteers gave out refreshments. Claudio turned around to look at Lois and Joyce. They huddled together looking very small. He turned to the truck and grabbed three bottles of water. As he walked back, a reporter put a microphone to his face. Claudio recognized her bleached blond hair and harsh make-up.
"Are you a parent?" she asked making a concerned face for her cameraman.
"Yes," Claudio answered.
"How do you feel?" and she squinted trying even harder to look concerned.
"How do you think I feel?"
Without missing a beat, she put a bony, veined, manicured hand on his shoulder and said, "I understand."
"How could you?" and Claudio turned on his heel to join his wife and mother-in-law.
Every so often, the police called out names of "safe" children and their parents were allowed into the St. James, the Presbyterian church that stood next to the community center. Claudio perspired through his suit. Lois and Joyce shivered.
There, in the church, several parents had already been reunited with their young children. But then this process stopped and the crowd grew confused and restless.
"I can't take this anymore," said Lois.
"Soon, soon, we'll see him. I promise."
But another hour went by and no news came. A policeman eventually made an announcement on the loudspeaker: "All parents and other relatives who have not been let into the church yet please line up to my right. No one else! No press!"
The family members lined up and where herded into the church. The sanctuary was dark and small. Six police officers and two firefighters crowded the altar.
"Please, please. Find a seat," said a large policeman.
Everyone rushed to the pews and within a minute, everyone had a seat.
"Plans have changed," began the policeman. "The children who were not injured are being kept at a nearby park. You can imagine why we don't want to bring them here. The press has swelled the crowd and it's still unclear if the shooter or shooters are anywhere in the area still. I will read out names and when your child is called, please leave through that exit and you will be given directions to the park by Officer Gonzalez."
The policeman started reading names. Five, ten, fifteen names but Jon was not there.
Lois and Joyce sat on either side of Claudio in the chapel. A large crucified Christ hung on the back wall. The remaining parents and relatives sat huddled in the hard wooden pews. The policeman grabbed another list of names.
Joshua's mother let out a shriek and she was led out.
Her parents leapt to their feet and headed to the exit.
Lois, Claudio and Joyce jumped up and raced out of the church.
"Do you need directions?" asked a police officer.
"No, we know the park," said Lois.
"Let's take one car," said Claudio.
"Who parked closest?" asked Lois.
"Let's just take mine," said Claudio. "I'm pretty close."
The news cameras focused on them as they rushed past the police tape. When they got onto the sidewalk, a cameraman walked backwards and focused his camera on the trio.
"Stop filming us!" said Claudio through his teeth.
The cameraman kept on filming.
"Keep your head down," said Joyce. "Keep your head down so that they can't see you."
"Stop filming I said!" They eventually passed by the cameraman. "Vultures," muttered Claudio.
They finally reached Claudio's car. "Direct me and I'll get us there," he said as he unlocked the doors.
"Lois used to play at that park," said Joyce.
"Good, so tell me where to go."
They drove for a few minutes until they reached the park entrance. At that point, police officers directed them up a hill to a structure that looked like an old house at the top of the park. Six police officers surrounded the building while two checked identifications. One of the camp counselors stood by with a list of names. The camp counselor recognized Claudio.
"Bobby! Is Jon okay?
"He's fine. But don't be startled. He has blood on his shirt and shoes from someone else."
"Hold on," said a policewoman. She was short but strong looking. "Identification please."
"Of course." Claudio pulled out his license.
"Okay," said the policewoman. "Call his son."
"Jon! Your parents are here!"
Jon poked his head out of the doorway. One of the other camp counselors put her hand on Jon's shoulder and walked him down the wooden stairs. Claudio, Lois and Joyce threw their arms around him.
"A man shot people," Jon said. "I saw him. The smoke made me cough."
"Are you okay, my baby?" said Lois as she started to cry.
"Shoshana had blood on her. I hugged her but the fireman took her away."
Claudio looked at the police officer. "How much have they been told about what happened? About who's hurt?"
"Some know more than others. You'll be contacted later about the city's victim counseling services."
"Okay," said Claudio as he rubbed Jon's face. "Thank you."
As they walked towards their car, Lois started to shake and sob.
"What's wrong with Mama?"
"Mama is just happy to see you, Jon."
"Why is she crying then?"
Claudio didn't answer. They reached the car and everyone loaded in. Claudio put the air conditioning on the highest level.
"Hot, hot day, Papa," said Jon.
"Yes, Jon. Hot day."
"You'd be proud of me."
"I remembered to rehydrate like you told me."
Claudio let out a sigh. He put the car into gear and headed towards the freeway.
The shower made him feel great. As he dressed, Clem watched the news on the TV. He smiled when the reporter said that the gunman yelled out, "White Christians of America unite!" before spraying the lobby of the community center with the Uzi. After putting on his shoes, he reached for his flak jacket but it was still sopped with perspiration. Clem put it on anyway. He patted the Glock and felt reassured by it. Clem only had to use the Uzi so the Glock still had a full clip. He turned off the TV and left his motel room. Clem hummed a Patsy Cline song as he almost skipped down the steps to the parking lot. He walked to his van and put his hand into his flak jacket to get his keys.
"Don't move! Police!"
Clem's hand slowly moved from his keys to the Glock.
"Okay, okay," he said. "Don't shoot. I'm going to turn now."
"Do not move!"
Clem could hear several police cars pull into the parking lot with their sirens turned on. He imagined that there must be a whole squadron of cops behind him at that moment.
"Okay," he said. "I won't move."
Clem heard footsteps approach him. He closed his eyes and grabbed the Glock. In one fluid movement, he whipped the gun out of his pocket and swiveled around. As he shot at the police, Clem heard what sounded like a hundred firearms preparing to shoot. He saw flashes and heard thunder and wondered how it could rain on such a clear day. As he fell to the asphalt, Clem's body jerked and jumped and rattled. He felt as though he caught fire and he tried to take a breath but he couldn't. For some reason, Clem remembered how the little children smiled at him and then their eyes suddenly widened and the lobby filled with screams and smoke. And he thought about Sarah at the restaurant counter. She was so pretty. And he remembered how Sarah flirted with him even though he was fat. And he thought that he had to make good on his promise to visit her when his big day was over. Yes. He had to keep that promise.
DANIEL OLIVAS is the author of Assumption and Other Stories (Bilingual Press, spring 2003), for which he was one of ten finalists in the 2000 Willa Cather Fiction Contest, sponsored by Helicon Nine Editions. He is also the author of the novella, The Courtship of María Rivera Peña (Silver Lake Publishing, 2000), and his stories, essays and poems have appeared in many journals, including The MacGuffin, Exquisite Corpse, THEMA,The Pacific Review, The Raven Chronicles, and Red River Review. The author's writing is featured in several anthologies including Fantasmas: Supernatural Stories by Mexican American Writers, edited by Rob Johnson (Bilingual Press, 2001), and Love to Mamá: A Tributeto Mothers, edited by Pat Mora (Lee & Low Books, 2001). He received his B.A. in English Literature from Stanford University and law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles. The author practices law with the California Department of Justice specializing in land use and environmental enforcement. He makes his home with his wife and son in the San Fernando Valley. This is is second appearance in The Adirondack Review.