Friday, December 16, 2011

#FridayFlash - Roberto Makes a Stand

Roberto crossed his legs and propped his boots up against the wall. He rolled his last cigarette, licked the paper and pinched off the ends. As he dug a match out of his pocket, he noticed Diego standing in the doorway.

“What do you want?”

“They say five minutes, Señor. Shouldn’t you wait?”

Roberto struck the match across the rough edge of the wall. It flared up with a snap and a hiss. He lit the cigarette, and blew out a stream of smoke.

“What for? So they can take this away, too?”

Diego shrugged his bony shoulders. The loose shirt pulled tight for a moment and then sagged.

“It’s your cigarette.”

"That’s right,” Roberto said. “Just like Adriana was mine, too.”

Diego looked away.

Roberto took a long drag, pulled the smoke deep into his lungs. He didn’t blame Diego. The young man was just a kid really, not even a hint of whiskers on his upper lip yet, so he had little to draw upon. He started to think about how things could have turned out different, like maybe if Diego had been old enough or strong enough, but then shook the thought away. The truth was it didn’t matter how many Diegos lived in this dusty village. There would never be enough to stand up to even the shadow of Rafeal Vargas. Whatever that man wanted, he took, and while he did everyone else stood by and watched without so much as a word or a whimper. Well not watch, really; it was more like they suddenly found something interesting on the ground to occupy their time. Because they had learned, it seemed—learned that the ground was far safer to look at than a man’s eyes or what he did with another man’s wife. In their minds, it was safer—no, smarter!—to pretend that the shrill voice was the sound of only a bird in the air and nothing more. Why get involved in matters that did not concern them? Why follow an angry man into a bar to face off against the federales when he would end up like the rest of those who actually tried to do something: alone with only a scarred wall to stand behind him.

He took another long drag, blew out the smoke and watched it billow toward the ceiling and then out through the bars.

Let them have their clever thinking.

He held out his hand and stared at the cigarette.

At least I still have this.


  1. Oh wow that was full of deep feeling, bubling slowly to the surface - I hope the wall won't bear another scar!

    Loved it, you painted something very visual and emotional here.

  2. Helen,

    Thank you for the wonderful comments. Your words touched my heart. As for Roberto, it's a grim picture, but he still has his spirit intact.

  3. He's had it laid on too thick. His resignation almost relieving.

  4. John: An interesting comment, one that raises a few questions on intent. Thanks anyway.

  5. I hope Roberto is not as resigned as it may appear. He might wind up, "alone with only a scarred wall to stand behind him" <(Love that line)but I'm hoping for a jail break! Another serving please!

  6. A big ring of truth running through this Stephen, one of the faults of our time, or our nature. There is always something smarter to be doing than getting involved in another persons problem, especially when the local bad man is the one causing the problem.

    PS. I don't know how on earth I managed to miss this last week.

    I Hope you have had a good Christmas, and that 2012 is a prosperous and happy year for you.

  7. Harry: Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm glad that line worked for you. Roberto may be alone and he may not have a great future ahead, but at least he still has his spirit/soul/person (however you choose to look at it).

    Steve: No worries. I've been so busy with my Holiday Story Exchange project, and then with the holidays, that I haven't taken the time to visit other blogs. I am glad you stopped by, and I wish as many blessings and successes upon you as well. You're a great writer and I look forward to seeing what good things will come from your imagination.