Sunday, July 30, 2006

Playing Catch Up

Sorry I haven't posted much. I started a short story that I read at Maria's house last Saturday and I was busy doing that. Then today I played catch up all day off and on for my online "Fiction Writing" class. I also wrote a Writer's Resume that I want to use to try to do some free lance writing. I want to get some newspaper writing experience and I want to get some clips.

Here's what I read last Saturday for ya! This is just half of the story. I'll post the rest later.

The Canal
By: Loida Casares Ruiz

It was a warm Spring day in the Rio Grande Valley and Nico and Rudy played next to the canal, like they often did. The canal was man-made for irrigation and it carried water that fed the different farms crops and orchards along the way.

The boys were eight and ten. Rudy was obviously the leader, being older, but Nico was known to hold his own. He had a strong personality for a little boy and he was just as adventurous as his older brother.

Rudy was barefoot, his small brown feet dusty from walking and playing in the hot Texan sun all morning. Nico wore shoes but he took them off hurriedly so that he could climb the old live oak tree next to the water. He wasn’t accustomed to wearing shoes and he sure couldn’t climb a tree with them on. Their feet had hard and calloused soles because they hardly ever wore shoes. They even went to school barefoot if they had outgrown a pair of hand-me-down shoes from an older brother. It was hard keeping ten children in shoes during the Great Depression.

The branches of the tree hung low and some even stretched out into the canal, making them especially tempting to climb. One large branch in particular extended out and it looked strong enough to hold one or both of them. Nico saw Rudy eyeing the branch and he saw the twinkle in his eye. He knew what his brother was thinking before Rudy even said a word.

“Go out on the branch Nico. I dare you!” taunted Rudy mischievously.

Nico looked at the branch and considered the challenge for a second.

“Why don’t you do it with me?” he asked Rudy.

“Come on, you know we’re both too heavy,” Rudy answered.

“Yeah, well you can go out there alone and I’ll just watch,” Nico laughed.

At that moment they heard some footsteps below them and they looked down through the branches at Old Man Lucas. Old Man Lucas was a man of about sixty but he may as well have been a hundred to the boys. They though he was a crazy old man, because he always wore faded denim overalls, even during the Summer.

“What are you two doing up there? That’s a very dangerous place for you to be. What if you fall off that tree and into the canal?” the old man called up to them.

“We aren’t going to fall! We’re holding on tight!” said Rudy.

“Well let’s just hope we don’t have a tragedy here,” the old man mumbled to himself as he went on his way.

The boys peeked down through the branches until they saw his blue denim overalls disappear.

”Now about that branch,” Rudy continued.

“Forget it! I’m not doing it!” Nico said adamantly, “So you can just give it up or go out there on your own!”

They boys kept playing on the tree jumping from one branch to the other, and taunting each other to go on the limbs. They had only been playing for a short time when they heard something else. It was the sound of a truck coming down the dirt road that ran next to the canal. They looked down again and they saw that it was a big white pick-up truck with some men riding in the back.

Nico was curious so he slid down the trunk of the tree to get a better look. When the driver spotted him he came to a stop. Nico saw that it was his father’s compadre’s son Alejandro.

“Hey Nico!” he waved from the truck.

When Rudy heard the familiar voice he too slid down the trunk of the tree.

“Oh hi Rudy. I didn’t know you were there too. What are you boys up to?”

“Nothing much,” Nico replied, “Just messing around.”

“You boys want to make some extra money? How about you come with me to pick some grapefruit for Mr. Stanley? We’ll only be gone for a few hours.”

“Extra money” were the magic words for Nico. With money being as bare as it was at home Nico took any opportunity he could to make money for the small extras his parents couldn’t afford. He’d buy himself pints of ice cream with some of the money he made shining shoes in town sometimes. He knew Mr. Stanley’s ranch wasn’t too far away and he didn’t think they’d be gone too long.

Rudy wasn’t as enthusiastic. He dragged his feet because he never really liked work. He made a face at Nico and motioned towards the tree.

“Come on Rudy,” he coaxed, “It’ll be fun and we can pick enough to go buy ourselves some ice cream later.”

“All right!” Rudy said reluctantly and he joined Nico in climbing into the back of the truck.

Off they went to Mr. Stanley’s ranch and as they drove away a little pair of shoes sat all alone at the foot of the tree. And there the shoes sat for a few hours until Old Man Lucas came walking down the road again. He was thinking he’d check on those rambunctious boys. As he came to the tree he saw the shoes and not a boy in sight. He called out to the boys and he went to the edge of the canal and looked up and down to see if they had gotten the crazy idea of going into the water. When he didn’t see them he headed off to the Castel house with shoes in hand.

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