Ricardo Carretero


I was born in San Diego of two migrant parents. I've lived evenly in Mexico and the U.S. I didn't have the best of time growing up in Mexico. Being a Latino, means knowing the pain of acknowledging the hypocrisy and mistreatment of Natives in Latin American culture.


Cold Summer

I was sent off by my father to fetch a cool drink in the heat. I was eight or nine, and disillusioned with the world. I still had a sense of wonder, but more so a sense of dread. Mexico is not known to be kind to those who aren’t ready to tumble down a cliff and shrug it off. I took my favorite black bike, the one with the fluorescent green canine bites on the frame with neon colored “beware of dog” signs on the front. I rode it to the ice cream shop, as I was ordered, for ten minutes or so, daydreaming and wishing, I too could afford a delicious, oh so tasty, ice cream from my favorite shop. I know they had the flavor,  the one I was melting for, in this heat. French vanilla with cinnamon swirl and a hint of rum. I could taste it in my mind, the creamy goodness of the refreshing liquid gold. The ice cream shop was tiny, it had a horizontal fridge and what looked like a nightstand for a counter. I order the milkshake my father had asked, he wanted pistachio, an ok choice. I’d drink it if I could, who cares what flavor, in this heat anything cold is good! I stole a glance from the vanilla rum cinnamon drum. I reached out and picked up the entire thing in my tiny thin arms, wore it like a helmet and licked as much as I could with my mouth. I imagined my ancestors would eat similarly hundreds of thousands of years ago if they had had ice cream. I heard the voice behind the counter.

“We are out of lids for the extra large milkshakes. Here ya go guy.”

I looked at him confused at first, I really was enjoying my ice cream dream, but it was back to reality for me. I sighed and looked at the milkshake, “do you have any kind of sealed containers?” He shook his head and shooed me away with his hand, disappearing into the store. I looked at the milkshake, the weird green tinted foamy invitation-- I should drink it. I took a few gulps since it was filled to the brim. I didn’t want to spill it; I had to ride my bike back. I opted to walk my bike back after I almost spilled out of the bike with the drink. The cup was still 80% full and no one would be the wiser since it was a giant cup. As big as my head! Or so it seemed when I was young. Guadalajara is a dusty, windy place in summer. One can almost assume Mexico’s main export is dust. Before the rain cools down the implacable heat, the dust reigns supreme in its eye watering, pale, bad tasting, glory. It was quite windy that day too, there was a storm on the far away mountains. Still half a day or a day away, the wind picked up accelerating the pace at which these superclusters approached the city. I had all the time in the world to get home. I crossed more streets than I remembered riding. The first gust near a school yard blew a giant dust cloud my way. I dropped my bike and shielded the holy grail from the fierce battering of the sky shotgun. When the wind died down I picked my bike up and just barely spilt some creamy goodness on the side of the cup. I licked it clean and then cleaned the cup with my shirt. Can’t let any of this go to waste. The ice cream shop was not close, but it was not far from home. The walk just made it seem further than usual. In between guilty glances, I suppressed impulses to hide for the rest of the day and pretend I dropped the drink and was too embarrassed to go home. I decided to continue the task given me. It took all my will power.

Ah, the last two blocks! I passed an empty lot on my right side, there was nothing remarkable about it. Except that was its evil plan all along. It caught me off guard when the wind blew just enough dust from the lot into the hulk hued drink to make it look like it was sprinkled with cinnamon. I gently took as many of the grains of dust out of the foam, but decided not to risk the finer ones. During the last block the green leafed, brown coated mafia shot at me with leaves. They were dancing to the wind with disregard for my beloved, half melted shake. I took out the couple of leaves that fell in and larger pieces of debris. I’d still drink it if I knew I could get away with it. Oh god I would, so, do, it, just give me a chance. I don’t even have enough change from the purchase to pocket and go buy one for myself. I had arrived at my apartment complex. I lived in apartment 201, that means second floor and to the left. I could squeeze through the bars that held the stairwell closed. Apartments were caged off from the savage beasts that apparently lived in this city. All windows were also barred. Tiny jails of the mind, heart and soul they were. Just as tiny as their physical size. They were home nonetheless, not much a boy could do at this age except resign to his fate and dread on. I parked the bike inside the stairwell, after opening the gate, by the electricity meters. The drink had traces of debris, but nothing that could not be easily skimmed off with a spoon. I didn’t want to use my hands to get the top dust off of it because I hadn’t washed them. I carefully went up the stairs and opened the door when I arrived at the apartment. My father was in the diminutive living room watching some VHS tape, I knew I couldn’t sneak past him to the kitchen to skim off the dust.

“What took you so long. Give it to me.” He said without a shred of sympathy or understanding of what I had to do to keep that drink safe from the brutal tornados of long forgotten gods that desired to take me down with them.

“They had no lids and I had to walk the bike. Do you have any change I can have? Can I keep this change? Is it o--” I felt a giant hand grip the back of my neck squeezing hard, unlike a mother cat carrying a kitten to safety, this hand was meant to carry me to certain doom. I dared not move my neck since his entire palm and the rest of his hand fit around me like a neck brace. I grimaced and my eyes widened not sure if I should panic, pretend I’m hurt, or start crying. All the options seemed equally viable to free myself from the situation. I weighed them carefully  for mere nanoseconds and came to no answer, there was no time to choose.

“What is this SHIT?!”

“I-- I--?”

“What is this shit! I fucking asked you to do. One. Thing. One, thing.”

“There was no lids and the wi--” Newton's laws and a few harmonic oscillation equations could describe the movement my body followed as I grabbed at nothing. I was flailing, but my feet soon found the ground to start pacing frantically to keep up. Small playdough fingers digging into a titanium vice grip looking for a foothold.

After my eyes were done frantically darting around and thoughts started somewhat cohesively forming, I noticed my father had taken me to the bathroom and he was slowly lowering his head to my height with the drink on his other hand. I looked down and noticed the milk white sink with its shiny metal center. My eyes darted to where I assumed his other hand was, out of my sight, neck still unable to turn. I had no sentences, no thoughts, just instincts, descriptions of feelings and despair. The drink showed up on the periphery of my vision, my face felt hot from the sun, the adrenaline and the fear. Or it could’ve been that he was squeezing way too hard; maybe all combined. I tried to track the delicious spring of life, but it was already in front of my face mere inches away when my eyes found it.

“What is this shit? I didn’t ask for this.”

“You, you sa--”

“You fucked up. You FUCKED up. You know what happens when you fuck up?” There was nothing going through my mind except two letters. Please… No.

It was beautiful. It was beautiful in the same sense that one describes the warm soft glow of 100,000,000 degrees celsius blasting the skin off your body due to a nuclear explosion a few feet away. The half warm, half cold, all loved ambrosia was incredibly slowly and deliberately poured into the sink. It was poured so slowly the stream broke at times due to the ice cream not being fully melted. Had I seen the clockwork orange I too would’ve laughed, with my eyes open forced to watch the thing I loved turn gruesome. I was already an adult by the time he finished pouring the whole drink. He handed me the empty cup. Im sure he said something. I didn't I hear it.

I stared at the sink. Maybe I could cry. Should I cry? No... it doesn’t matter. I received a pat on the back of my head as gentle as a rock from a slingshot. I didn’t really feel it. What’s the point. It all going down the drain in the end. I took the cup to kitchen and tossed it in garbage, muted feelings of self-destruction.

I could’ve had that drink. I should’ve run with it. I protected you. Now you are gone. I don’t remember the rest of the day. I know that the memory of that green waterfall still reminds me of the pointlessness of life. It was a good lesson. Life will never respect your hard work.


© The Acentos Review 2017