Search This Blog

18 January 2012

"On Top of a Treetop" from My Manuscript, Kissing Dreams from a Distance (A Novel)

One of My 2012 ProjectsFinish the Novel!

The birth of "On Top of a Treetop" began in late December 2011 after I was mourning the loss of my USB drive, which held the latest version of Kissing Dreams from a Distance. Words I have learned I can reconjure but my mother in flesh—never. Many thanks to Zachary "Zak" Pugh, who rescued a few vignettes. I am especially greatful for Zak finding "Aurora in the Time of Dreams." ¡Gracias Zak! And many thanks to Arduizur Carli Richie-Zavaleta for reading "On Top of a Treetop." And Carolina Feria, my former Upward Bound student now attending UC Santa Barbara, who requested that I share a vignette from Kissing Dreams from a Distance with her writing class. ¡Gracias Caro! And A. Don Juan for the inspiration!

On Top of a Treetop

Whirlwinds of muffled sounds came from their chainsaws shearing at the long branches of the barren mulberry treetops. Piled on top of each other, the dry branches spread across the dirt like fallen soldiers. These were the trees and branches of well to do folk. What had looked like blazing matches surrounding the estate—long after the trees were heavy with sweet white mulberries—were now skeletons with signs of a biting winter well on its way.
For Julian’s father, el señor Cipriano, with fifteen years of tree trimming experience climbing trees required less effort than balancing himself on top of treetops. And although Cipriano believed his old chainsaw, El Chango,[1] would never fail him on the job, he warned his amateur son.
            “Cuidado con E-l C-h-a-n-g-o muchacho. Es muy traicionero. No te confíes. Un minuto piensas que estás seguro y el otro—pácatelas,”[2] Cipriano assured his son, who looked closely at the chipped paint and even closer at El Chango’s jagged teeth.
That’s what Julian needed to remember: life on top of a treetop was dangerous. And he had heard the stories his uncles shared—of falls, concussions, and broken bones that required a hospital visit or two, equivalent to thousands of dollars no family of five could ever afford.
Julian was wearing his steel toe boots—perhaps he should have worn spurs that Christmas Eve. On an outstretched mulberry’s arm, stood Julian’s meager body doing the job of his uncle Alfredo who was well in his twenties.
On top of the tree, thinking about what his hard-earned money would buy, Julian imagined the crisp dollars running through his fingers, knowing he could now afford a gift for Mariela, the girl in his history class.
After a precarious step, Julian fumbled with the chainsaw, and that’s when El Chango gnawed deep.  With the sight of white flesh exposed, Julian toppled off the mulberry tree like a lifeless rag doll falling from a tree house. His warm blood seeped into the dirt.
“¡Chacho pendejo! ¿Qué hiciste?[3] Cipriano screamed as he rushed to his Julianito.
Ciapriano, with his fists clenched onto the steering wheel, pressed on the gas as he drove off in his 1959 Chevy Apache truck.  Fastened and asleep, his son didn’t moan nor showed signs of pain.
Bewildered, Julian woke up past the local hospital and past anywhere near home, across the border on a table, where it looked like a hospital—but was smaller and held the sounds of barking dogs.

[1] The Beast
[2] “Youngman careful with The Beast. He’s very backstabbing.  Never trust him. One minute you think you’re all right and then another—boom.”
[3] “Dumb kid! What did you do?”