[Short Story] Listen to Me


Listen to me. I’m not feeling very patient right now and you seem to be thinking about being somewhere else. But listen to me. Look over there. No, not there. There. See? See him? Yeah. His name is Marco. He has a wife, Octavia, and two sons in this pueblo just outside of Guadalajara.He’s been in San Diego for almost six months now. How do I know him? Not important. Don’t concern yourself with the little things. I know his name. Why is he standing there? Simple. He needs work. For the day. Yeah, it’s hot. Almost ninety I’d say and not even 10:00 yet. But he needs the money. Look, look! A truck is slowing down! An old, white Ford with bags of manure with neat, green layers of turf ready to plant. Marco’s head just popped up. Look! And he’s running to the truck. But two other men get there first. They get the nod from the driver. He only wants two. Marco is trying to convince him to take three. But no. The driver shakes his head. The other two men are already settled in the truck bed. And off they go. Marco walks back to his spot by the lamp post. He would have been good for that job. He’s young with a strong back. Planting turf takes a lot of bending, stooping. Hard work, especially in this weather. Okay, okay, I know you need to get to the gym. Why do I care about Marco? He’s just an illegal? I hate that word. Illegal. You spit it out like a tasteless piece of chewed gum. Okay, you want to use that word? Well, let me say what I wanted to say and then you can go and do your cardio. What? You don’t want to hear my preaching? I’m not preaching. Just trying to let you know something. About the “illegals” to use your word. What do you mean you don’t have anything to do with them? Do you eat at restaurants? Do you stay at hotels? Buy vegetables? Who does your lawn? What? Hey, you don’t have to use that kind of language. I’m just trying to have a conversation. That’s all. Come back. Listen to me. Just a minute more. Listen to me. Please.

  • Daniel A. Olivas is the author of nine books and editor of two anthologies. His latest books are The King of Lighting Fixtures: Stories (University of Arizona Press, 2017), and Crossing the Border: Collected Poems (Pact Press, 2017). His books also include the landmark anthology, Latinos in Lotusland (Bilingual Press, 2008), and Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews (San Diego State University Press, 2014)
  • Reprinted from LA BLOGA with permission of the author. All Rights Reserved.