Bea and Manito are curious and sensitive “little mocos” from Southern Colorado who must face the reality of dead fathers, absent mothers, and the notorious murderer Ray “Cornbread” Vigil.
The Ortiz family stories are minimal and elliptical in Little Mocos and reflect heartbreak and bleakness, but they also mirror strength and resiliency. Manito does not simply recover painful memories from his family; he begins to re-envision them. It is how Manito finds his own way to manhood and a glimpse of life outside of the county of orphans.
coming soon: chapter 1 excerpt–animales
Tio Neto sat on the bed shirtless and hungover, shaking his balding head at the reality of missing his father’s funeral service. He raised both arms to smell his pits and started digging into his jeans for a comb.
“There’s a lot of the old folks waiting on you upstairs,” I told him.
When he saw who it was, Neto stood up and kicked off his sneakers, coughed and spat at the basement’s concrete floor. He dropped his soiled pants and rolled up in the sheets.
“You the only Ortiz worth a damn left alive in this neighborhood,” Neto said. His clothes were in two great big garbage bags, and he stayed still a minute as I dragged his only collared shirt out from under his stash of nudie magazines and fungus-looking weed.
I put Neto’s clothes down deep in the washing machine and asked out loud about the whereabouts of my own father.
“Listen to what I say. I can tell you this, boy,” Neto lectured before collapsing back down. “Born into this world alone and die alone. Family will leave you. Women will leave you. All you have is your own damned self.”
John Paul Jaramillo‘s stories have appeared in numerous publications, including the Acentos Review, Palabra, A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art and Somos en Escrito. In 2013 his collection The House of Order was named an International Latino Book Award Finalist and the novel in stories Little Mocos is forthcoming 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.