Part 2. Elena Parra by Ana Consuelo Matiella

Elena Parra started feeling something she didn’t understand. It was as if there was something inside her that wanted to get out. Her skin was tight with cold, and she wanted to crawl out of her skin. Leave her body. Fly away. Anything but being here trying to keep this wild animal from attacking her.
Suddenly she felt a surge of anger. She kicked at the door and yelled at the coyote at the top of her lungs, “Get out of here! Leave me alone!”
The coyote winced, went around in circles three times, curled up on the doorstep and fell asleep.
The next thing she knew, it was morning, and the animal was stretched out across the walkway. He heard the truck first and ran towards the road wagging his tail.
At first, she panicked thinking it was the Driver, Beer Guy and Vico coming back to get her. But then she saw it was a big red Ford truck with faded paint and steer horns, real ones, on the hood.
The coyote was jumping and yelping like a dog. He obviously knew the man in the truck. A big, dark man got out of the truck. He was wearing a huge 10-gallon hat like the cowboy Hoss on an American TV show she saw once in an appliance store in Magdalena. He had on worn jeans and a plaid flannel shirt. His legs were enormous. The coyote jumped up to greet him and the giant man patted the animal’s head. He reached back into the truck and pulled out a rifle.
Elena could hear her own heartbeat as she waited behind the screen door, staring at the man coming towards her.
“Y tú?” He asked before opening the door. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” His voice was gruff and deep.
“Perdón señor, I am Elena Parra from San Ignacio.”
“And what are you doing here on private property?” He said. “I could have shot you. I can have you arrested for trespassing.”
“I’m sorry sir, it’s just that something terrible happened to me and I didn’t know what else to do so I hid here for the night, but I can go out to the highway now and hitch a ride back to San Ignacio. Please forgive me. I didn’t cause any harm. I was very frightened and then this coyote tried to attack me!”
Elena Parra started to sob.
The giant’s harsh frown softened, and he said, “That coyote is the guardian here, and he won’t hurt you unless I say so.”
“He kept wanting to get in.” She said.
“He sleeps here at night,” he said, “this is his home.”
Elena tried to compose herself as she wiped her nose with her arm.
The giant came to the door, “Unlatch the door, Muchacha and let me in.”
“Please don’t hurt me, Sir. Three young men tried to hurt me yesterday. That’s why I’m here. They brought me here and left me.”
“I’m not going to hurt you, Hija. Just open the door so we can get into the house. I can make you some coffee and scrounge something for you to eat before I take you home.”
“¡Orale, Capitan!” he called to the animal and opened the screen door. The coyote came over to sniff Elena’s leg, wagging his tail.
Elena moved back “He doesn’t bite, really?”
“No, I already told you. He doesn’t bite. Unless I tell him. If I tell him to bite, he’ll bite.”
“Please don’t let him bite me.” Elena said.
“Andale, come in. Sit down. You’re safe now.”
His name was Romeo Moreno and he was the caretaker of this part of the ranch and stables. He told Elena all about the houses and how he took care of them because the truth was nobody ever came to stay in these houses. The Maytorena girls had long grown up and lived in different parts of Mexico, and it was just the ranch hands and their horses that lived in the stables up the road.
Romeo made strong coffee and found a can of milk and sugar and made Elena a huge cup of café con leche. He found some stale crackers and some jam in the cupboard and gave her some to eat.
“Are you cold?” he asked looking at her bare arms.
“Yes sir, I am so cold. They took my sweatshirt and my money, and I thought they were really going to hurt me but one of the boys defended me and he told me to run. That’s how I ended up here.”
He showed her into one of the bedrooms and found a cardboard box with old clothes. “Here, look through these things. There might be a jacket there you can take.”
Elena found a green corduroy jacket with 4 pockets on the front. It was lined with red and white gingham flannel and smelled like moth balls. If fit perfectly.
“There’s a bathroom there, if you need to wash up or anything.” Romeo said.
He sat at the kitchen table and waited for Elena to come out of the bathroom, clean faced and wearing the green jacket.
“Drink your coffee and have some crackers.” He indicated towards the door. “I’ll drive you home.”
Romeo had a bag of peanuts in the car, and he told her to help herself.
His hands were scarred, and he had oil in his fingernails. He had a big silver ring on with the head of a tiger. He noticed that she was looking at it and said,
“It’s a beauty, isn’t it? My patrón gave it to me for my 20th anniversary with the Maytorena family.”
“They are good people if you ever need a job. How old are you?”
“I’m 15 years old, sir.”
“And you are out here on your own? Your parents must be very worried about you.”
In the hour or so that it took to get from Las Tres Hermanas to the crossroad to San Ignacio, Elena Parra told Romeo Moreno her whole story.
“So, when you get home, your father is going to beat you?”
“Yes sir,” Elena said, and then she raised her pant leg for him to see the scars.
Romeo winced and looked away.
“That’s why I was on my way to my Tía Manue’s in Nogales, Sonora. She’s my madrina and my father’s oldest sister. He won’t beat me in front of her. He’s afraid of her.”
Romeo nodded and got quiet. He drove down the paved highway. When they passed the turn off to San Ignacio, he kept going.
“That was the turn off, Don Romeo, back there.”
“I know where the turn off is, Elena Parra. I also know where Nogales is, and that’s where we’re going.”
“En serio?” She asked looking up to his big brown eyes.
“No one should be treated like that, Mija.”
Elena Parra started to cry again, and Romeo Moreno pulled out a dirty red bandana from his front pocket and gave it to her.
“We’ll stop and get some tortas and a couple of Fantas. Which flavor do you like?”
“Naranja, sir.”
“I like tamarindo.”
Romeo Moreno had Jose Alfredo Jimenez, the most famous mariachi singer in Mexico, on cassette and they listened to his music all the way to the bottom of the hill where Manue lived.
“Wave when you get to the top, Hija. I don’t think my truck can make it up that hill.”
“There are 106 steps to climb to my tía Manue’s,” she said sounding like a little girl, but I know exactly which ones to take.
Manue came out and started yelling, “Elena Parra, muchacha loca! What are you doing here and who is that man?”
Elena waved at Romeo from the top of the hill, as she said, “His name is Romeo Moreno, Tía, and he is a good man.”
“Qué bueno, Mijita. Now tell me, what in the world is going on?”
“I need your help, Tía,” she cried. “I need your help!”
“Ya estás aqui, Mijita. Ya estás aqui conmigo.” Tía Manue held her close and now they were both crying.
“Can I come and live with you, Tía? I have a lot to tell you.”
“You better be careful because I may never let you go back.” Tía Manue held on to Elena as if she was never going to let her go.
“Tía, Tía, do you remember Las Tres Hermanas ranch on the way to Santa Ana?”
Tía Manue smiled, “Claro que sí, Mijita…there was a pink house, a yellow house and one the color of peaches. The peach- colored one was always my favorite.”
“Mine too,” Elena Parra said, “Mine too!”

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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well (https://miriamswell.wordpress.com). The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

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