Author’s Note: This is a short story written for a college class, based off a single black and white photo. Writing the story was only step one, as the main project of the class was to layout, print, and bind a full book. For the relatively short time frame I had to write, I’m pretty happy with the story itself. The rest of the project, I was less confident in, but I passed so it was good enough. I am going to avoid too heavily editing this story from the original draft I turned in, but there may be instances that I can clean up quickly that I may not be able to resist. I will try to implement the formatting I designed into the printed book where possible.
This story also involves alcohol, references to drug usage, and violence. Fair warning.
I was born in 1882, in the small adobe hut on my parent’s farm in Apan, Mexico.
I grew up a poor, largely uneducated farm boy, and I was not unique in that respect, because there were plenty of other farmer children who would play with each other in the city when our parents took us to market come harvest time. My childhood may have been normal if not for one boy, Armando Cruz. Armando was the undisputed leader of our group of friends, even though he was not even the oldest one among us, and was only older than me by a few months at the most. But Armando had enough charisma for three people, and he knew how to use it. For all the trouble we got into, Mondo had a knack for talking our way out of punishment more often than not, which didn’t exactly make up for getting us into that trouble in the first place.
I will never know what Mondo saw in me, to choose me of all people to stick to like glue. We shared some similarities of course, both of us were only children, and we had fathers with drinking problems. Apparently that is enough to form a lifetime bond with another human being. During the harvest, all of the children would get together and run rampant for the week while our parents earned our money for the next season, but in the growing season we saw very little of one another, except for Mondo. I still remember the first time he appeared at our doorstep, late one afternoon, asking if I could join him for an adventure. A few compliments my mother’s way, and I was soon following Mondo into the foothills to have an adventure. His visits were frequent but unpredictable, and even more puzzling to me was how he managed to travel the miles and miles between his family’s plot of land to mine, and still have energy to trek into the hills, sometimes for days. If he had been walking, it would have taken him nearly three days, but I suspected he hitched rides for a majority of his journey. How he did it is a secret that he has never, and will never, reveal.
Eventually we grew out of adventuring through hills and were put to work in the fields. Mondo talked quite a few of our childhood friends into taking up jobs for one of the big pulque farms, claiming we’d make more money than just working for our parents, and so we all signed up and ended up working ten hour days in the sun, and sleeping in bug ridden cots, crammed like sardines in a glorified tool shed. It was hard labor, and most days after we finished in the fields we were too tired to eat again until our meager breakfast the next day. But Mondo found a silver lining. On Fridays, if we worked fast enough, we could finish the day’s work and then hitch a ride on the delivery wagon that was taking the barrels of fresh pulque into the capital, Mexico City. After the first couple weeks we got bored with the small bars at the very edge of town, and started trying new places. Eventually Mondo heard about a new place opening up called “El Charrito,” and it was supposed to be one of the best places in town. Little did I know that night would change my life forever.