Failed Freewriting

Sometimes Bea and I would just talk. In the days and weeks that followed the death of her mother and the escaping we both were into at the time. We drank and smoked weed. We ate Chinese food and walked around downtown.

Do you ever wonder where your mom’s is at?


Your mother, you know.

Don’t think of that shit, Bea.

I’m just asking. I mean my mom’s gone and yours is in California.

Don’t talk about that, Bea. I’m serious.

Don’t give me that shit. I’m talking about your moms.

Yeah, well, my moms calls me. She writes me. Sends me cards. The Abuelita makes her.

She makes her?

I heard her on the phone. Tells her to think of her kids. All her kids.

That’s harsh, Manito.

It ain’t the same, Bea. I love you but it ain’t the same.

Oh, right, you love me. Well, I love you too, cousin.

Later she told me the story of our Tio Louie. He was a Korean War vet and always cornered Bea at the Abuelita’s house and told her about his time as a prisoner of war.

He told me he ate bugs and shit to survive.

No shit.

Drank himself to death over his whole life after that.

I never heard this story.

Lived off of his veterans benefits. Could never work. Just lived in Black Forest with his sons. My mother told me. She also told me his son’s lost their mama in a car accident and so the old guy raised them all himself. I used to see him all the time.

What made you think of that?

Well after his kids grew up and left the house to their own kids and shit he married his first cousin.

What?  And had kids?

No. He married the cousin after the wife. My mama told me she saved him. Took care of him and then got him to stop drinking. They got together and I never saw him drinking as much.

That’s supposed to be gross.

My mamma said he always loved her. His whole life and then after his wife was gone and buried he found her again. The Abuelita hated it. Her brother sleeping with a cousin, you know…


Well, she used to say whatever saves you, you know. Can’t blame them too much.

Yeah, I guess.


Well, we’re second cousins.

Yeah, I know.

Published by

john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

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