Category Archives: Fiction

Petals in the Wind

Petals in the Wind

 

 

Cast of Characters

Stephen- A young man approximately 19-24 headed to war.

Susan – A red head young woman age 18-22

Conductor

This play takes on the platform at Pennsylvania Station, March 1940.

 

 

 

ACT I

SCENE 1

 

(At Rise)

(The man stands waiting on the platform. There are people to see all around. The air is dark and moist. The busy new sound of “Rhumboogie” sung by the Andrew Sisters is wafting out of the USO.

Soldiers in all types of uniforms are walking in and out with beautiful blonds and redheads on their arms.)

He watched as the tall “chocolate cherry” headed woman rushed across the platform toward him. People are walking in and out of her way. Their eyes meet, she sees him and then see does not. He can still see her face, but their eyes have lost that lock. Her face shows the angst of the rush. Her cheeks show a high blush.

Just then the enormous steam engine rolls forward from barn like door that let it in. It comes to a grinding stop on the platform right behind him, letting out a sheer whistle and billowing smoke from beneath its heavy iron skirt.

Finally she reaches to him. He reaches out for her and she falls quickly into his embrace.

He pushes her back from him; holding her at the elbows.

STEPHEN

Now look at what we have here… Prettiest thing I have seen on this side of Buffalo…

SUSAN

Oh Stephen… I never thought I would make it.

STEPHEN

I’m not glad you came. He smiled slyly at her.

Susan stood bewildered then turned her nose up at him and set her eyes upward towards him pointed up to the outer corners. Her full pouty lips drawn in a bow, and her forehead wrinkled in a V.

Stephen Lets out a half laugh, and hugs her tighter.

SUSAN

Now don’t tease me like that Stephen. I see nothing to laugh at in that; nor should you if you are really love me.

STEPHEN

Oh you know I love you—my very own cinnamon stick; –You know I was just teasing you… I was merely teasing you just to see those pouty lips.

Susan let out a huff and smartly turned her face towards his and eyed him with contempt.

SUSAN

Oh Stephen, You can be such a bore sometimes…

STEPHEN

Did your parents ride with you today, or do I have to behave myself?

Susan’s cheeks blush and her eyes cut up at him again.

SUSAN

I am sure I would let you steal just one Kiss, since mother and father are not here. They both sent their love, though. Mother could not make it, she had one of her spells again and is home resting. Father is off doing business again.

Stephen eyed her suspiciously and then with amusement, and then grinned at her.

STEPHEN

Susan, my Love you know I am leaving today.

Her eyes cut down towards her pointed toe as she held it two inches off the ground swaying back and forth.

SUSAN

Let’s, not talk of such things.

STEPHEN

Susan, we must talk and we must talk now, my train will be leaving soon. I have to know. Will you be here for me? Will you be here for me when I get back home?

SUSAN

I cannot think. I don’t want you to go to war. I want to come with you, I can be a nurse.

STEPHEN

That is the biggest foolishness I have ever heard. Susan, you have your studies. Our plans! You are going to teach music. You cannot give all that up. I will be back soon.

Holding her face in her hands and speaking tersely.

SUSAN

Oh, Stephen I wish you would not treat me like such a child. I can do what I want… I will follow you if I have to. Of course I will be here for you when you get home. What kind of foolish question is that for you to ask?

STEPHEN

It’s not a secret you were seeing Jimmy Raines over the summer of last, I know he is not going to the war. At least he has not decided to yet. I just don’t want to come home and find you all married to… him. I guess its ok, if I don’t come back…

Quickly looking at him with her full face and her eyes open wide.

SUSAN

Oh, Stephen you must not speak like that. I don’t know what I would do without you.

THE CONDUCTOR

All Aboard!

Stephen turned to pick up his bag then stopped. He grabbed her into his arms and found her lips with his mouth.

STEPHEN

Susan, I must go now.

SUSAN

Oh Stephen you can change your mind, go to college and get a degree.

STEPHEN

You know I must.

Susan pressed a red rose in a book and handed it to him; her eyes welled up with tears.

SUSAN

Please keep my favorite book, to keep you company. Will you keep the rose to remind you of me? Stephen if you ever start to forget, just take it out and look at it. I know you will come back to me.

He pushes the book back to her hands.

STEPHEN

Susan I can’t promise you that you know I am going off to war. Please go on with your life and if you find someone else, please don’t ever look back to this day.

He pulls her into his arms and kisses her. Picks up his bag and walks toward the train.

She crumples into a heap and watches every step he takes.

She jumps up and starts to run after the moving train. She takes the red rose out of the book and plucks all of the petals off of it, and tosses them into the wind.

The End

“As I Followed the Sun” Flashback Scene description

Flashback opens on to the day Sidney arrives at Terrill’s Pecan Farm.

A scuffle takes place between Miguel Zapata and a worker from another Farm—that has just come for the day, The Other worker pulls out a knife on Miguel and the  Farm Manager happens upon the scene right after Miguel leans down to pick up the dropped knife… Sidney had watched this all and The Farm manager wanted the Zapata’s to leave, but Sidney vouched for Miguel.  The Manager believed Sidney and offered him an overseer position and Sidney did not accept it, but asked to Day Labor just like the other workers.  The Farm manager although Skeptical and did not want attention brought to his farm from the Run Away.. conditionally accepted it.

“As I followed the Sun” — Chapter 2

Miguel’s own mother, Marisol Moreno-Zapata had died in 1973;  In the end she had suffered from pesticide poisoning. Conditions in the Colonia’s were often harsh. There was a lack of clean running water, electricity was a rarity. Medical attention was often not found when one of the workers really needed it. Miguel told me of how his mother, just went crazy. One day she developed blisters on her hands and arms. Then he said her skin became this strawberry color. In her last days she fell into a coma and then later died in Luis’s arms with her entire family at her side. His family buried her there in Castroville California.

Soon he brought his family to New Mexico in the late 70’s from somewhere in California. I just can’t remember where, at this time.

Miguel would cry each time he would tell me of his brother he lost the same year as his mother. Alex had only been 3 years old then in 1973 He died two weeks after their mother also from pesticide poisoning. He would get all choked up and tell how his little brother was so full of life one day and then in a matter of days was gone.

His father Luis would irrigate 24 hours a day. His father would irrigate in the rain and cold. Miguel and I worked spring, summer and fall. During the harvest season, we would work seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day, earning only 40 to 60 Dollars a week.

Miguel’s brother Jessie and Sister Magdalena lived with us and worked in the fields too. Luis’s Brother Daniel would sometimes come to stay with us in between stints in jail. He would be around just long enough to get into a fight at the local bar and they would haul him off to Jail.

Magdalena was  only 14 when I met the Zapata’s. She was a rare desert flower. Her beauty far surpassed any of those ladies my mother would have had lunch with at the clubs. Magdalena had a simple crooked smile that could melt butter. I would watch her every moment that I could. She had the long elegance of a dancer. Long fingers and slender wrists.  She seemed to just float above the ground as she preformed the manly chore of picking Chiles or Cotton or Soy beans, or shoveling the pecans into the trucks.

Magdalena used to sneak off to the river and pray during lunch when we were not in full harvest.  I asked her once why the river, she said that it was clean place and that she was embarrassed for God to visit her in the roach infested shacks we all shared.

Jessie, like all younger brothers tormented us. He was always witty in his words and devilish in his schemes. He would never let us be for even a  minute,  he was always trying to be part of any conversation we were having. He would go on to college someday, but at the time we were just working to make our daily living. He could do math in his head big math problems. Like how much we would all make from the days work. He could figure it all out.

We would work from June till right after the first frost each year harvesting onions and chilies and pecans. I would move from farm to farm depending on the crop that was coming in. After the crops were done for the year, Jessie and Magdalena would go to school.

The Desert life had been cruel to me in my short 19 years. My skin was like leather from working in the hot New Mexico sun. The sun redden and bronzed my skin, I could easily pass as a local. Despite my golden locks, I still could fit right in. My hands were full of callouses and cracked and bled in the winters.

At night I would watch the children of the Colonia’s run around and play. They were still children and young at heart. Life had not hardened them like it had me and Miguel. Life had also not touched Sweet Magdalena either. She would write at night in her journal and a smile would cross her face as I watched her. I hoped she did not know how often I would watch her.

I watched Luis whittle at stick one day into a whistle, he was so skilled at carving the whistle. It inspired me to learn how to carve too. I started making little figures of animals and trees and Dinosaurs too.. One by one the children from the other shacks would come and whisper to me what animal they would like me to carve for them.  Soon all of the kids had their own toys, something their parents could not afford to give them.

 

To be continued….

My Emulation of John Steinbeck.. As I followed the Sun..

It was the end of November on that Tuesday when I stepped off the Bus. I watched the last few hours of daylight diminish as they slipped off into a sea of orange and purple, reflected off the Organ Mountains. The moon was already starting to rise in the distance and fill the night. The moon was as big as my Great Grandmother’s cake plate that my mother kept on the top shelf of the china hutch. There was a distinguishable moist snap to the air. You could feel the first real frost was threatening. I righted myself and sucked in my breath as my heavy ruck was tossed to me.

I spent my first night in a homeless shelter. A young man on the bus ride from Roswell was sleeping on the cot next to me. He too had traveled from Colorado, always where the crops took him. He had told me of this way of making a living. It sounded like the life for me. It was far enough away from military school and far enough from my tyrant of a father. It would also be the last place my Father would look for me.

The next day I hitched a ride south out of town. The dust trailed and billowed behind us as the driver sped down the rocky gravel road. We passed orchard after orchard and Stucco house after another. The suns light tickled my face as it jutted in and out of the breaks between the trees. I allowed myself to start to fall asleep. Just then the truck pulled off the road into the largest Pecan orchard that I ever seen. Rows and Rows of pecan trees stretched out for miles and miles. The trees were righted to the sky like soldiers standing in formation. Their branches were bent with the weight of sweet nuts yet to be harvested. Work would be good here. I was excited, but terrified that they would not want a runt of a run away like me. I stood just barley 5’7″ and weighed hardly 140 lbs dripping wet.

As I jumped over the side of the dusty green pickup that had given me a ride, I let out a deep sigh. I nodded to the man who had given me a ride. He just regarded me with suspicion. I dipped my hat to the man’s wife. The truck took off with a start, kicking up dust as it fled. I tasted the dust from the truck, and felt the gravel on my shins, as I thought to myself, that truck might just be saner than I was. I knew I was there for the long haul.

I walked down the narrow gravel road which seemed to stretch on for miles. Twice I had to quickly jump out of the way of the dusty cattle trucks that were loaded with migrant workers greedy for work and ready for the harvest. The sun was starting to set and it was playing tricks on the irrigated trees and mirroring the trees in both directions, Up and down.

There was a spread of buildings sitting in the middle of the orchard. As I looked around all I could see was an expanse of trees. I felt smaller than I have ever felt before.

I met Miguel that first fall when I worked the pecans at Terrill farm. They actually provided housing for their workers free of charge. That was the last good winter I would spend for years to come.

Miguel and I would sit up late at night and share stories as we let the day wear away. Miguel and I grew to be great friends over the next four years. Miguel was the kind of man that you could depend on, he expected great things for his future and he cherished the memories and stories he had from his past.

Miguel was a third generation Migrant farmer. Miguel would tell of his father Luis, who was the first in his family to be born in America. Miguel’s own Grandfather Guillermo was born in Guaymas, Mexico. Miguel would often tell of the Sea, that his grandfather would play by as a child. He had been told that his grandfather would tell his father stories in sing song about the bare mountains that jutted up from the ocean floor and surrounded the city. His Grandfathers words would often lull Miguel to sleep at night, retold by his father every night around the cook stoves in the Colonia’s.

To be continued….