|Flor de Mal
Author: Guede Mazaka
Kids in Mexico stole cars. They drove them, too. Chicle, however, kept to his bike because it was small and could get into any place in the city. Like him.
But when the sky exploded and dead men staggered up from the dust, he decided he needed a car. And he got one: nothing special, but it had a big wide cradle of a backseat for catching the blind man's tired body. After all, the gringo had paid far more than the gum had been worth, and somewhere in the quiet dark of Chicle's mind, he felt another day of service was owed in return.
That day had its sun set on fire and bleeding celebration, and another's crimson ball rose high over fever and delirium. A life hung on tipped scales, and yet the man refused to die. It made Chicle curious. He'd been there for the very beginning, something that few could claim, and now he wanted to know the end. Ever since he could step outside the threshold of his home, he had watched badness stroll in the streets and goodness fall to broken knees. He had listened to the priest speak of the sufferings that must be endured with patience, and he had heard the bragging of the native devils that propped up the country.
Then he had seen something different. He was still seeing something different. Weakness overwhelming strength. He didn't think it could last, but it still made him wonder.
So he stayed. He drove.
One parched day, when resting by the open door of the car, he squinted through the heat shimmers and saw another man shaking his blind one. Pushing him up against the cracking wall so plaster flaked down in a blurring shower. Chicle reached back till smooth black ice stained his hand, and he aimed the gun like his companion had always done.
When the trigger went back, the kick felt as if someone had fractured his entire side, then wrenched the two edges apart till he couldn't help but spill himself into the ground. But it was the other, the intruder that fell, and Chicle who walked unsteadily over to kneel by the huddle at the base of the wall. He raised a hand, letting it hover over the top of the lank black locks.
The face lifted from its bent knees, revealing blankness pitted with two gaping darknesses. But Chicle had long since stopped noticing such things. He put his hand against the sharp chin-gingerly so it wouldn't cut-and splayed his fingers around the nose. One tip grazed the high bridge, and two others feathered at the very edges of the pits. The skin was cold like the gun, and silky like the metal.
"I didn't shoot him." Words breathed themselves against his palm, shivering deep.
"Yeah?" A trace of otherness passed across the paleness, momentary kaleidoscope like light on spilled oil. "So that make you a man now?"
//I don't know.//
Nothing changed in the blind man's face-except possibly for a faint twitch of the muscles around his twin hollows. When he spoke again, though, his voice was unlike anything Chicle had ever heard before: black and straining white. "Give me the gun."
Chicle slowly drew away his hand, shaking it slightly to relieve the numbness that had crept in, and returned the pistol.
A slight smile flitted across the blind man's lips as he turned the gun over in one hand, then pointed it at Chicle. "For the last time. Run."
Silence. And the crevasse in Chicle's side widened so the hot wind could sear his mind with knowledge and perception.
"I don't hear you running."
Kids in Mexico stole cars, and drove them, too. But men walked. So Chicle got up, feeling tightness settle behind his eyes and twist his temples, and he directed his feet towards the edge of town.