Pues, because everyone said “break a leg,” I went and upped the ante and broke two bones in the same leg 🙂 Thank you all for your warm wishes and for volunteering. I am about to go on a surgery trip, gente—a magical trip that is going to leave me incoherent for about a week. After the surgery I know I will be sleeping a lot and also I’ll be heavily medicated. I figure that the best I can do is to enjoy the ride and converse with the ephemeral and perpetual spirits out there.
I do think it was very interesting that in my novel, Barrio Bushido, that the Toro character also gets his leg mangled. What does it mean? Did I write the book or is the book writing me? In honor of these questions and to get some of your insight, I reprint the Toro leg break section that is found on pages 143-145.
Always Todo Bodo Down,
Ben Bac Sierra
Brown down. Almost a month later. Laying in a hospital bed after war with warriors. Before that night, Friday night, September 13, 1991, I’d been busy with infiltrating further in the hierarchy at a place called “School,” a great cover, paid for by Veterans’ benefits. I’d started out the semester with a whole bunch of general education classes, and I wasn’t doing too bad. I guess all those dime novels and war books that I’d read over the years in the Corps had helped. Had to read them in order to prevent myself from going crazy in the reality of the Suck. That Friday afternoon, though, I had gone to the abandoned shack and found Santo living in his hole in the living room, a hole I helped him dig. We then went to get something to eat and saw Lobo in the welfare line. When I seen them both, all three of us together, I knew it was the moment that we had all dreaded, even though all of us acted as if we didn’t know what was happening, as if that day was just another day given to us, that we wouldn’t have to pay back anything on that day. Lobo had a plan, something about Chinatown.
Now I was down, incapacitated. And I was happy! Ecstatic! I wouldn’t have to take part in the offensive, and it was justified! I couldn’t move. My leg was broken split. I had charged and trampled and been trounced on by many matadors. There was nothing I could do for Lobo or against any Chinese. No one could expect anything of me now. I was safe lying down in that hospital bed, yet I was not safe lying down in that bed.
As I slept, the darkness overcame. Out of the black, there were flashes of light, shakes of the ground, a basketball bouncing—bing-bing—a shot being made—more than three points. Running and punching and gas masked men passing the ball to one another, and Ramsey had it, and he passed it to me, but I didn’t want his ball, and I passed it off to someone else, but they were all me. We were all the same in the masks—all me and Ramsey—passing the ball back and forth to each other in gas masks, and it was time for the attack, and I grabbed my M-60, and jumped out of the track and cut the corner, but there was nothing out there. I was the only man on the whole front line. Wiping the dust away from my gas mask lenses, I saw the stampede. The bulls charged out of the morning mist. I fired. Six to eight round bursts. And they came at me, a horde of bulls, so I free gunned it right there. I no longer controlled the ammunition—fully automatic. All in front of me they fell, but they kept coming harder and multiplying faster. As they got closer, I knew that they would win. I fired, but it was useless. I stood up and pulled out my ka-bar knife for close combat. Strangely, they just passed me by. They ran right through me, to an orange ball bouncing in the sand—horns at the objective—the bulls moved in for the kill, and the ball bounced up and down, and then a great “Pssst” sounded from the air coming out.
I scattered for breath. I moved for life.
His halo shining, Santo was looking down at me, saying “Pssst.” Abruptly, the face became Lobo’s.
“Toro,” Lobo whispered. “Come on.”
And I still thought it was a dream cause I couldn’t believe he would ask me to come on, as if all was fine, as if I didn’t have a valid excuse for being knocked the fuck out of commission.
“What?” I said. And Lobo was a Drill Instructor playing jokes cause I could have sworn he said it was reveille. But I knew he’d never been in the Suck, so he didn’t have the proper authority to kick me out of a nice warm bed.
“Yeah, that’s right, snap the fuck to and get your ass up. We got a mission,” Lobo said. Lobo always had these big old eyes, so he’d always seen really well. I could not figure out why he would insult me in such a way, why he wouldn’t see that I could not move.
“Get the fuck out of here,” I said. “I’m all fucked up. I’ll be lucky if I ever even walk again.” The room spun around ninety miles an hour, so I had to clutch onto the bedpost to keep from falling off. Smiling, Lobo spoke, but all I could decipher was his conviction that I was to go somewhere with him. “Lobo, I aint hearing shit. I’m out,” I said. Santo’s halo blinded me.
“Toro needs to be right here,” Santo said.
Lobo’s face dropped in defeat, his head down, his hands turned into balls, and then his chin rose in victory, a victory at all costs. “Toro needs to be with us, homes,” Lobo did not smile, and he looked at my face. “What you gonna do, lay down and get better? Aint no better between us—aint no better since that day in the park, and we’ve been zombies walking the Earth since then—pretending this day would never come. You know that. All I’ve ever had is the chase; all you’ve ever had is the charge.”
The charge. Who would I be without the charge, without the rush? I wasn’t slick enough to be like Lobo, wasn’t holy enough to be a Saint. Namelessness, obscurity, no one. The charge defined me and gave me all the pleasures and notoriety I so dreamed of as a boy. It was the charge that would remain long after I was to be taken away from this place. With the charge as my only legacy, I couldn’t turn my back just because the mission was impossible. The impossible had never stopped me before.
“What can I do?” I asked. Lobo’s face lit up, and he was talking about gold in Chinatown, and the next thing I knew I was wheeling myself down the hall, and then I was on top of the mountain smoking my first leño since I got out the Corps. Best medicine in the world for battered bulls. Funny thing is, I was no longer a bull, but a cow staring out into green pastures and stupidly grazing in the grass, not knowing, not caring that the butcher was plotting what part of me he would have on his dinner table that night. Me, just mooing in and out of consciousness, hearing rumblings and grumblings between Santo and Lobo, but that didn’t matter to me.