“A Thumbnail of Bandera South of 410” by Marisela Chavez
for Pablo, Who’s Far AwayHome to work’s a straight—if broken—shot along Bandera, from Loop 1604 to West 24th Street. Today I traveled at 12:30pm in the sunny, winter light. It was perfect weather. Everything in sharp focus, shadows and all, like it is in New Mexico. Life today’s sketched with expensive architectural pens, the archival kind, serious strokes, you know, fade proof; it was no watercolor day, and so I decided I’d better get this to you, feed you some SanAnto life I know you’re hungry for, Westside animation. Like, the young couples crossing Bandera in the middle of the day, in the middle of construction, in the middle of them a child—or as Petra might say, a “chamaca” sporting churro-pig tails. All three stoic, that ageless-placeless stoicism innate to every one of us. These kids with their kids, the ones we never quite know what to make of, right? Why so many young couples cruising on foot in the middle of the day in the middle of the week---going where, and for what with their kids in tow both unemployed? He laid off? Maintenance? Construction? Something in Dickies? How’d they get here? Next I’ll sketch in the white City truck next to me: two young brown guys in sky blue going to or coming from lunch (they must get up early to work on this Amazon of a street) laughing and smiling over, not at me but at the view I’m in. The one in the passenger’s has beautiful teeth, ivory, cool and bright on his satin-brown face. Everyone’s out. So many brown folk walking or waiting or tearing the earth out from beneath one another. All going about their business that’s before them. Nonetheless, ripping up the road here, slowing things down to speed things up there, sending a mother and child through a dusty two-lane. Clogs of cars pushing through this clumsy passage, once wide with selection now narrowed down to two directions: this way or that. There’s kids in Spurs hats and hoodies walking the concrete barricade that keeps the materials and tools separate from the road work. The kids look like cousins and nephews, neighborhood vatitos walking that temporary side-walk, those concrete dividers that raise them over the traffic; they walk with easy control, never looking down or over the shoulder to see me coming 45mph towards their backs, me and an endless stampede. Oh, and Pizza Hut’s still doing the $6.99 buffets at the corner; the Mercado still looks like a bustling Westside Big Top. And let’s see, one more—oooh, I saw a beautiful old truck, you know the muscular ones with flared nostrils and chrome body jewelry? This one was the shade of Mexican-American skin: darker than the cafe con leche that can burn and softer than the deep brown that turns to ash’n’shadow. It was, as they say, a color “they don’t make like that anymore.” Let’s call it Royal Brown. --- Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com. Send your flash to firstname.lastname@example.org.