This is Part 4 of a series of excerpts from new stories.
I was standing in the shade of my tree when an old, faded, rusted, and at-one-time-military Jeep drove up. It was a standard army model without doors, with a currently upright fold-down windshield, and no creature comforts. Pancho drove, Little Rigo rode shotgun, and a pretty, young woman sat in the back. None of the four of us moved while their rooster-tail of dust blew away or settled to the ground.
Little Rigo hopped out first, grinning and waving at me, then tilted his seat forward and stood by while the young woman climbed out using the boy to steady herself as she stepped down. Pancho was smiling from ear to ear and he wasn’t waving a pistol, which were moves in the right direction. I went to the door and motioned them inside.
The young woman was, of course, Rosalita Gomez-Garza and her English was serviceable but hesitant. The kid was our translator and he spoke good English. I unclipped the sheaf of paperwork that made up the I.N.S. form, took a pen and a fresh notebook from my bag, then sat down. Through Little Rigo, I asked them to sit.
Rosalita, the kid, and I sat at the table and began answering the questions on the form. Pancho leaned on the fridge or fidgeted between the front door and one of the little windows. The windows were too high to see out but Pancho kept trying as if the height of the window might change. It didn’t.
In less than an hour, we had all the questions answered. I explained that we could fill out this form using a pen or, whenever I could get an internet connection, I could download a clean form to fill out neatly as a PDF or word document. Of course, this would mean finding a printer as well as an internet connection.
My suggestions for downloading a fresh document, getting a connection, finding a printer, etc. caused excitement and much discussion. Rosalita and Little Rigo started talking happily in Spanish, then they were joined by Pancho Villa who grumbled and mumbled in counterpoint to the other two. I occasionally caught Pancho’s ‘fockin’ or ‘el norte’ and the kid’s ‘Tay-haus’ or ‘dol-larz.’ Rosalita spoke so fast that I wouldn’t have understood even if she’d been speaking English.
Little Rigo was grinning, Rosalita giggled, and even Pancho’s grumble sounded happy. “OK, we got it,” said the kid.
I asked, “What? You’ve got what?”
“Innernet, printer, all that chit.”
“All right.” I had been told that WiFi was an hour away. “Where is all this technology?” I imagined a drive back to Brownsville.
As if they’d practiced saying it together, Rosalita and Little Rigo both said, “La Bodega.” Then all three laughed at the obviously shocked gringo.