|Through the Glass
Author: Amiigan PM
We live in a world of worlds - from class and race to gender and orientation, along with the physical and the spiritual. Often they exist right next to each other, right out the window, right on the other side of the glass. In spite of these barriers, a sister and brother will keep their bond of blood and spirit.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Supernatural - Chapters: 15 - Words: 73,744 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 02-14-13 - Published: 07-27-12 - id: 3045274
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Listening to Jessica's Christmas present of Big Pun's CD, Capital Punishment, Emilio played video games with the Marquezs. He was snuggled up on his bed with Jessica, while Hector was on the floor dodging fire from his space fighter in Star Fox 64. Julio sat in the nylon camp chair, munching on popcorn as he insulted his male cousin, telling him he was disgracing Mexico by letting a Puerto Rican beat him.
That's when Emilio heard the doorbell. Blowing Hector's craft out of the digital sky, he handed the controller to his girlfriend and went up stairs to find Joe at the door, "Hey Em."
"Holy shit, you're out", he greeted back.
"Yep, free with the new year." Joe stepped inside. "So what's going on? Barely see your ass at school since you got with your new girl."
"Sorry, you know how it goes."
"Yeah, but you get to hang with our resident gangsta too. Me and Andy are pretty lame by comparison, I guess."
The comment hit Emilio, despite its sarcastic delivery. For the last two months his 'chilling' with the Marquezs and his new friends, coupled with Jessica and him officially hooking up made finding time for just his childhood pals a neglected concern. "Man…I'm sorry. Really, I didn't…"
Joe laughed, slapping him on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it Em. You got a girlfriend, a hot one too."
"Well she's down stairs, so can you keep it down with that."
"I don't know if I can keep my little head down."
He narrowed his eyes at his friend, who replied with another laugh.
Joe went over to the fridge, "Have some good news though. I got an offer from the U", referring to the University of Minnesota.
"Yep, full ride scholarship, me, ha! Who knew this football shit would get me in college. I just joined it as a joke back in my sophomore year. It's fucking insane!"
"I know, holy shit! Congratulations, man", and slapped hands with his friend. Seeing he reached for some left over pizza, and that Joe was getting a little flabby like he always let himself do in the off season, Emilio warned, "You better make yourself a salad instead, if you're playing college ball in the fall."
Joe waved him off. "Summer's for that crap", and took a huge bite out of the slice of sausage and pepperoni.
"What's going on up here?" Jessica emerged from the basement, startling them. "Oh, hey Joe." Emilio let her in on his achievement, and she showed her congratulations with a hug, "God, That's great!"
That's when they were interrupted again, this time Jason, and in a bathrobe and nightclothes he didn't look in a celebratory mood. "I'm trying to sleep", his eyes falling on Jessica, "this isn't some hangout spot for the homies." Shifting back to Emilio, "People need rest for work. Or are you still too high and mighty to do that, like my pasty ass."
His words brought Emilio back to Christmas dinner. As the usual routine, they went over to Jason's parents' in the more uppity suburb of Oakdale. He found them to be as fun to visit as watching grass grow, and aside from the well-cooked spread, it was a yearly trial. Even the presents proved lame, especially as he hit adolescence. I don't wear polos or care about the cheap knickknacks they get from their yearly trip to Key West.
Around the nice polished oak table they listened to Jason's dad, Mitchell (and never Mitch), a typical middleclass white guy, baring a strong resemblance to his son – well a clean-shaven, glasses wearing, bald version. A retired Target employee, who worked some boring office job that was as boring as him, granted a fancy, but ultimately forgettable title to make the barer feel better about being nothing more than another meaningless cog. Even if offered a million dollars and a book deal, he couldn't recall one thing the man droned on about. At least me and Jason can agree on this, having one of their rare bonding moments making fun of his father. "You remember hearing someone talk, right? At dinner?"
Janice, his round-faced mother who still grew her hair out to her shoulders, curling and dying it, wasn't much better. She loved to read about other countries and cultures though, sharing that information, which made it quite sad a housewife had more interesting things to say about the world. Janice also bonded well with his mom, since they had a love for wine and cooking (particularly since his mom didn't have time to make the big meals her own mother and mother-in-law whipped up). Even with this, he'd take his racist hic grandparents over this pair. At least they know what I like, mailing him their gifts of an older, collectable volume of 'The Lord of the Rings', plus a collection of Keats poetry.
The monotony was sharply interrupted when Jason's sister disagreed with her father about something, "Those education taxes are needed Dad." Emilio had watched the ESL teacher grow into a very obese woman thanks to her laundry list of health problems, whose long dark hair fell past her shoulders. "We have an influx of students who need help with English, not to mention the special needs kids."
"Arlene", Mitchell said so dismissively, it grated on Emilio's nerves. "I bet over half those children shouldn't even be in our schools. Illegals shouldn't get language lessons off our dime."
Arlene's husband, Jerry, came to her defense, "What about the kids born here. They're American citizens, they deserve an education." He was physically the opposite of his spouse, a skinny guy like his Uncle Troy, with the look of a forty-something nerd. "Or would you rather have them illiterate and stealing your car?"
Emilio liked the couple. They had always gone out of their way to make him and his mom feel welcome to their family, plus they weren't conservative douchebags like Arlene's parents, admittedly not much more exciting company however. Though they're super Christians, at least it's the open minded, last to cast a stone kind, unlike my aunt. He was also close to their daughters, who'd rescue him from the tediousness of such family gatherings; but both had reached college age and off on opposite ends of the country.
"Well if they weren't here, their kids wouldn't be." Jason decided to cast his lot with his father. "If they were legal, it'd be one thing. But I agree with Dad, why should we pay for some illegal immigrant's kids, when there are plenty of actual Americans that need that money."
Janice and Emilio's mom readied themselves to shift the subject off politics, but the teen decided to stick up for Joachim, Leticia, and Analy. "So what should those kids do, they are real Americans?"
Jason looked irritated, "I'm talking about people who've lived here and paid taxes getting shafted out of things, so the kids of criminals get free rides. It's bullshit."
He snapped, "It's bullshit they should suffer for what their parents did!"
"Emilio!" His mother cautioned.
"It's bullshit I should suffer for them." Jason raised his voice. "Makes sense you'd support freeloaders, sitting on your ass and hanging out with that cholo, or whatever you call their gangbangers. You already got busted for drugs once. He your dealer?"
Jason and Emilio's moms tried to calm things, but Emilio was propelled to his feet by righteousness. "Oh, so we're all just drug dealers now, cause we're brown!"
He jumped to his feet as well. "Oh don't give that crybaby racist shit. Why can't you guys just shut up and work like the other Mexicans! The ones that don't belong here work harder then ones that do."
"First off, I'm not even Mexican, I'm Puerto Rican; and two, we aren't here to serve your pasty ass!"
"Ok Emy. You're Puerto Rican now, please kid. You're just as much as a gringo as I am. You even speak Spanish? Hell you're almost as white as my pasty ass too."
The rest of the family shouted for them to sit. Jason simply departed without another word, leaving them to finish Christmas in an uncomfortable silence. Things had remained tense since, even with the forced apology brought about by his mom.
Back in the kitchen he was tempted to reignite the fire from Christmas, but seeing Jessica about to say something calmed him. He put a hand on her shoulder, telling her and Joe to come on. Jason hmphed, and drifted back to the bedroom.
Jessica did curse him, "I can't believe him! You're right Emy, he's a racist asshole. This isn't a hangout spot for the homies, what the hell!"
Emilio replied, "I told ya."
Joe asked, "Yeah, what the hell was that about? What's up his ass lately?"
"He's just pissed his step-son isn't white." Emilio replied, plopping down on the bed, Jessica joining him.
Julio had paused the game, and along with Hector gave them questioning faces. "Is that puto still giving you shit from that crap at Christmas?"
Emilio nodded. He was so upset, he couldn't really find words to express himself. Thankfully the Marquezs had been sympathetic ears, and understood completely. Seeing Joe standing there confused, he remembered his friend was quite possibly out of the loop on his problems for the first time. "Jason tripped out about us brown folk being drug dealers, and how we should just shut up and work, 'cause taxes shouldn't support kids learning how to speak English or some crap."
"Wow", he slipped through his teeth, seeming a bit unsure of what to say. "That's messed up."
"Fuck it though", Emilio declared. "Lets just play some games, we are on vacation still."
"I hear that." Joe then went out to the basement proper to fetch a spare folding chair. "This totally ruined my high off getting that scholarship", which he had to explain again.
"Well in celebration guey, you can try and beat me at this shit." Julio snapped the controller out of his cousin's hand and tossed it into Joe's.
"It's on. This is for the hood of Maplewood!" Joe jested back, earning him insults from Jessica and Emilio.
"I still can't believe it," Julio cried out. "I got a B, a fucking B, dog! And I haven't had anything higher then like, hell maybe a C since fourth grade."
"Well you did it, man", Emilio said happily back. He'd never seen the reformed thug so expressive, with the exception of that confrontation with the North Side Boyz.
"And it's all cause a you", he shook Emilio's shoulder. "I might actually graduate!"
They stood near Julio's locker, overlooking their grades. Good marks were never too much of a challenge for Emilio, but he'd done better than ever himself, nearly straight As. He was beginning to think this was probably the best quarter he'd ever experienced in high school, maybe all of his schooling so far. Too bad Mom's acting like things are all going to hell because of Julio. She'd officially banned the Marquezs, even Jessica, from the house after Jason complained. "She might be a good kid, but her family obviously isn't if they're going to bring some criminal to live out here!" Whatever Mom, sorry I fell for another spic.
Putting his frustrations aside, he went on with his encouragement toward Julio. "You will man, you will. But we should go, I'm sure Jess's waiting for us."
"I still can't believe they got her a car?" He complained again. "My cuz is hella spoiled."
Jessica earned her license the previous week, and in reward her parents bought her a ride. It wasn't a new car, but it being a 94 Sephia, in pretty good condition, was no small gift. It was good timing for their burgeoning car pool as well, since Andy's POS of a Chevette broke down over break.
Nearing the front doors, they passed Kohler and his crew. The wannabes eyed him and Julio. The real gangster just rolled his back, not even giving them a direct look. Kohler in particular didn't like that, but the others restrained him, especially when the short, but muscular coach and instructor, Mr. Klasinski, noticed the brewing storm; stroking his thick goatee, he asked Big Mike what the problem was.
"Fuck those wharos", was all Julio had to say, pushing open the door.
Out in the parking lot, Hector waited by his sister's car. That's when he felt a tug on his backpack, followed by the contents spilling out. Goddamn it! He knelt down to pick up his things, while Julio went onward, unaware of his troubles. Other students passed him, some accidentally knocking his things about, others giggling. How the hell did this happen? Shoving everything back in, he examined his pack to see if it was damaged, when his eyes caught the Little Person, smiling at him from amongst the throng. No way, no, he thought, looking the creature right in his eyes, before a passing girl blocked his view. The trickster was gone as soon as she walked off.
He was hit, a tall body tripping right over him. Slamming into the icy asphalt was Big Mike, scowling until he saw Emilio, his face dropped into utter shock. Just fucking great.
The cry of, "Come on motherfucker, you wanna talk shit now", pulled Emilio's head back toward his friends. A quartet of North Side Boyz, lead by Kohler, closed in on the Marquez cousins. After his exclamation, Kohler reared up the tire iron in his hand, aimed at Julio. The once Latin King darted out of its path, shattering the Sephia's window instead, and hurried to grab the wannabe gangster's arm, launching a punch that sprouted blood from his nose. Meanwhile, Hector tossed his bag at one of his opponent's faces, followed up by tackling the bigger one. As Emilio stood, watching with the rest of the growing crowd, he heard a crack – the tire iron, now in Julio's hand, collided into a fat North Side Boy's jaw, sending blood and teeth to the ground with his body. A boy to Emilio's left hurled at the sight of the violence.
Whipping back to Big Mike, he understood why he was so taken back. With a speed that surprised himself, Emilio leaped to his feet and kicked him right in the gut.
I have to do something! It was the only thought to shoot clearly through his mind, leaving Mike behind to shove his way through the spectators. Knocking aside a pair of stunned freshmen girls, he caught sight of Hector, struggling with the pair he was fighting. The one he threw the bag at had the younger Marquez in an arm lock, while the bigger wannabe struck him across the jaw. Emilio yanked the larger kid back by his coat, tripping him. Julio arrived to free Hector from the other, swinging away on the white boy, not stopping even when he hit the ground.
Before he could so much as flinch at the beating Julio dished out, Emilio felt a vice clap around his neck, dragging him away. Uselessly trying to free himself, he gazed up to see Mr. Klasinski. "Quit fighting, you little shit!" He ordered, reinforced by a swarm of hall monitors and teachers.
Principal Marks stared at him, her big bugged out eyes bulged even more, seemingly on the verge of popping right out of her skull. "If not for several teachers speaking glowingly on your behalf, and an impressive academic record, I'd see you in hand cuffs as well young man. I do not care if they are your friends, fighting for any reason is prohibited. Your week of suspension will give you time to think about this."
But the teen found away to defy even this, sitting on his bed, second night into his punishment, and already reaching the last few chapters in his reread of the 'Eye of the World', only leaving the room for his bodily needs. His mom had stripped his room of all his electronic distractions, but at least she left me my books. If he was going to be physically removed from the world, he might as well remove his mind too.
Emilio was pulled from the sickly, rotting wasteland of the Blight, presented in the novel, by a wrapping on his window. Thoroughly surprised to see Jessica peering in, he flung himself up on a chair to let her inside. "Whatta you doing here?"
She pushed her body through the small window, Emilio helping, but only accomplished slipping and falling onto the floor together, dragging along a heap of snow and ice chips. Wrapped around each other, frozen in fear from worrying if his parental units heard something, it gave him a much-needed laugh. Jessica did not share his amusement, coursing with nervousness, she pleaded with him to shut up.
Emilio complied, but kept on with the humor, "So, you just couldn't live a week without me?"
"I don't got time to play around", she stood up, rubbing the shoulder she fell on. "My parents think I'm out getting food."
"Not even for a kiss", and he leaned it, which she took.
Breaking from the tongue tangling, Jessica got to the point of her visit, "I came to tell you a few things." She sat down on his bed, her expression growing pretty grim. "Well Julio and Hector were expelled. And just like I said, Julio got all the blame and he's looking at juvy."
Joining her, "What about the North Side Boyz?"
She shrugged. "They wouldn't tell us. Probably expelled too. Julio put two in the hospital."
"This is such a fucking disaster."
He put an arm around her, sitting in silence for a few heartbeats. Emilio felt bad for her, since the fallout was really hitting her family hard.
"I got some more bad news…I've been forbidden to see you."
"My dad thinks you getting involved was stupid." He could just feel the rage of the argument in her voice. "That it shows you're irresponsible or some crap", finishing with a deep sigh.
"So…we're breaking up?" Emilio couldn't believe how hard those words hit him.
Jessica felt them too, tearing up. "No…no, Emy. We can still be together at school. They're just going to be watching me like hawks, so…ya know."
Emilio nodded, relieved, but his heart sunk more than he ever thought it could.
"Well I'm gonna go. Love you." Jessica departed with a kiss, worming her way out with his help.
With her gone, Emilio collapsed on his bed, an emotional hurricane ripping through his heart. Get a grip Em, it's not like you aren't gonna see her again, attempting to clear the skies of his feelings when he saw movement again by the window. Thinking Jessica had returned he sat up, but taking a closer view, he made out the little being who plagued him since childhood. Seeing the cursed Djabelek again, Emilio snapped, grabbing one of his thicker, hard covered books and hurled it through the window. With the crash of glass it was like the spirit was never there, like the figment of imagination he always hoped the creature was, but knew deep down wasn't.
Desperate, Emilio screamed, "LEAVE ME ALONE!"