I sat back in my grav chair and sighed. I had witnessed so much history that I had come to believe in the fables about Miracles.
The greatest Miracle was the fact that there was what at the time was called a “United States of America”. I smiled. If someone in the past, especially early 21st Century, would have heard me repeat those words in a slight manner, they would have been ready to fight. What was equally an oxymoron; this was at a time that they would have been losing their rights, faster than any time in its history.
The world had evolved so very slow, so primitive in it’s thinking, so reluctant to think outside the box, it was, for the most part, The ME generation. Only it wasn’t just one generation, it had turned into a century. Trouble is, when thought patterns are allowed to replicate, that programs the DNA. Now you have multiple levels of habit and a more deep seated community for it to grow in.
Ahhhhh, quit thinking Jamie, it isn’t your job. Yours is to record history, accurately, thoroughly, with no disturbance to the leaves of time and the layers which they fall into.
The whole reflected set of thoughts was a flashback of the last weeks work. A double set of events, linked to a people that painted a painful picture of greed, vile, prejudice, and cruelty. Events that some of which were highly illegal, and horribly immoral.
OK, from the top. After Misha and I came back from the moon on Sunday, I found a message for my next week’s assignment. It read for the most part.
“Jamie, we need to have the period between 2016 and 2022, and the period of 1932 to 1936, USA recorded. Particularly, all history pertaining people of Hispanic culture. All records you can find copied and recorded. Do some digging for a couple of days and, oh yeah, brush up on your Spanish language, especially Mexican dialects.”
Misha and I had ice cream for dinner and hung on the deck till the setting sun behind us cast long shadows out over the city of Denver and the Great Plains beyond. Misha slipped out of her grav chair and came over and kissed me wetly on the lip. I licked my lips and mused.
“Umm, strawberry, yummy! I want all my kisses to be strawberry kisses from now on.”
She whispered, sexily, “Yaasss, it mixes so good with lime-vanilla. G’nite babe, the salt mines lie before, for tomorrow.”
“Yeah, salt mines…. g’nite love.”
I made a mental note to get some more personal recordings of especially the people in the thirties. I had done a job on the Great Depression of that period, it had to be a difficult time for even the sturdiest.
I leaned my grav chair back and opened videos of depression era 1930’s, dark grey pictures of dark grey men in ill-fitting suits and hats, with sour expressions, and a defeated look in their eyes. I did a side search for Mexican immigrants same period. My hologram blossomed into fields full of men women and children, picking cotton, oranges, apples, watermelons, and every other kind of food that grows. On and on it went as I deepened my search, not only videos but magazine pictures of what seemed like nothing but a people of labor. I muttered under his breath, “And who the F—-, would want to get rid of people that spend their lives working, and even more, why? For what reason?”
It had grown dark now. The lights out over the plains were dark, and Denver was beacon of light that could be seen from outer space. The air had chilled, time to call it a holiday well done. I stepped out my grav chair, and pressed the park button; it immediately drifted to the ceiling in a corner and hung there ready when needed. I turned and did the same for Misha’s chair, which promptly moved and parked itself next to mine.
The chairs had been a wedding gift from Misha’s parents. What a great piece of engineering! They would hang at whatever level you wished, at whatever level of firmness of cushion that you desired, and could set anywhere from straight up to full recline. The first day or so I found myself waking of a morning, still in my chair.
I had thanked her parents many times over. The company that manufactured them was in Fort Collins, just up the road. They were a by product of the latest disabled person’s mobility chairs, formerly know as wheel chairs. They had instantly gone viral on social media. And the company had grown rich.
By Thursday morning I had prepared myelf for the time jump. I had obtained permission to spend some overnights, and not return to my terminal at the end of his shift. I had to satisfy my personal questions about the times.
After log-in and time tether attachment, I pressed the button. I found himself just outside El Paso, Texas, May 17th, 2020. I stayed invisible for sometime, observing. Buses were coming in by the dozens. Someone mentioned the trucks need to go to the railroad terminal and load the people from the boxcars and bring them back to be processed. There was no processing, just people herded into cages, and then let out on the other side, to walk back across the bridge to Mexico. They were photographed and retina scanned, and fingerprinted, then turned out to walk over this huge bridge that formerly had been a highway filled with trucks transporting goods for both countries. But they had been closed weeks ago. Hmm, no chance of singling out anyone here to speak with, too much turmoil. Perhaps if I would just follow them into Mexico an occasion might arise.
I stepped out with a group headed west over the bridge over the Rio Grande. I stayed aloof until across the bridge, then as the crowd dispersed somewhat, I fell into line with an elderly gentleman and a man in his early sixties. At the end of the street was a plaza with benches and food vendors. The two men sat at a bench, the older gentleman seemed very forlorn, and totally exhausted. He had leaned on the other man the last block before reaching the resting spot. He patted the older man’s shoulder,
“It will be alright, Papa. Uncle Marcus said he would meet us before nightfall, and take us home with him. Wait here and I will get us some food.”
When he walked away, I looked around, and seeing myself alone, turned my visibility on. I stepped over to the bench near the old man, and sat down.
“Señor, are you alright?”
“What? Oh, si, I didn’t see you, until you spoke.”
“Pardon, I didn’t mean to startle you. You look exhausted, may I be of service?”
“Uh, gracias, but my son is here with me.”
“Oh, bueno. Have you traveled far today?”
“Si, they came to my home at four this morning. They took me and my son, and put us on a bus. I had no time to prepare food or to take my valuables, or even to call relatives.”
“Señor, how long had you lived in America?”
“Ahh, all of my life. I was born there. I have lived in America all my life except when I was but a nino. My father, in 1935, was forced out of the country in much the same way, when I was very small. He, too, had lived in America for years. He had a good job, he owned his own home. It was small, but we were happy. Do I know you? You seem very familiar to me, or perhaps I knew your family?”
My thoughts raced. How could the old man know me? I had never seen him before. Then it hit me. In my present time, he could not, but I will go to his past and meet his father, and it will be from that meeting will come his memory.
“Perhaps, sir, you may remember, I am not sure. We will speak of it more later. Your son is coming with food and something to drink, you rest now.”
“Señor, what are you doing here with my father? He has had very tiring day.”
“Yes, I know. We were just discussing that. He appeared very weak, I asked him if I could help him. He told me you would be back. I am very sorry for your troubles, it seems the world has gone mad, at least the United States.”
“Yes, it seems so. His brother will be here soon, to pick us up and take us to his home.”
At about that time a dark sedan pulled up. A man in his 70’s exited the vehicle and walked to us with a cane. He was wearing jeans and a western shirt.
“Luis! Hermano, what has happened? This is madness!”
He wrapped his arms around the older man, embracing him.
“Come, let us get you in the car, and take you where you can lie down and rest. Arturo, help your father. You, young man, would you please help? You are welcome to come along, this area might not be safe at night, with all this masses of people being forced in. Madre de Dios! I know not what is going to happen to us! Come, hurry.”
We all loaded into the sedan and a short drive later, pulled up to a rambling house in a rural area. Two dogs greeted us with barks and wagging tails, and two horses watched us from a board corral fence. A couple of goats munched bits of a small bush. Chickens wandered everywhere.
The younger brother, whose name was Marcus, climbed out and gave orders for us to get his brother out and bring him inside, and we followed his directions. As we entered a lady, perhaps in her late 50s or early 60, met us.
“Oh, Luis! What has happened?”
“Maria, turn down the covers in the day bed, and let us get Luis comfortable. Then we will talk,” Marcus ordered.
“Si Marcus, momento, por favor!”
Soon the older man was resting comfortably. Arturo, exhausted from caring for his father all day, collapsed on the couch in the living room. Marcus asked me to come into the kitchen and Maria would make us some food. I complied, thanking him. We sat down and had a early dinner of tortillos and frijoles with some type of peppers and meat that was delicious. I secretly wished that Misha might have been there.
I looked up at Marcus, “Gracias, Señor Marcus, Señora Maria, for your hospitality. Luis told me just before you came that his father was deported in 1935, when he was a small boy. Do you know why?”
“Si. Crazy gringo Politicians, and probably rich white men as well. It was all well before I was born. Luis is my half brother, his father passed away not too long after he was deported. Our mama remarried, she was younger than Luis’s father,” he looked at Maria, “much younger. Years later, since he was a citizen, he was able to return to Refugio. His mother stayed here, and met my father, and I was born. As I grew up, I never had much trust for the Norte Americanos, and so, that brings me to you. What is your business here?”
“Fair enough. Yes, I have some Mexican heritage, so springs my interest. But I also write for a Mexico City magazine, and I am a member of Amnesty International. I got myself deported to follow the story, and see if there is not a way of ending this travesty. My question to you; do you have any idea as to when Luis’s father was deported in the 30’s?”
“Maria, would you please bring me the big bible? I am a lucky man. I met Maria when I was in my 50’s. We fell in love and have built a simple but wonderful life together.”
Maria placed the large bible on the table before Marcus. He opened it and ran his finger down the page.
“Yes, he was taken at Refugio, on April 12, 1934 and sent to El Paso as well. It was vey hard for him, he was not as old as Luis but still, an old man.”
“Thank you,” I replied. I sat back from the table and pulled a small note pad from my pocket and wrote down the time and date and place.
“Oh, yes, and what is Luis last name and what was his father’s?”
“His father’s name was Roberto Ramirez. Luis is also the same last name. Do you think your writing will help this evil thing?”
“Señor Marcus, I am sorry to say, I know not.”
I could not tell him that 5 years from now would see a huge change in politics. I also couldn’t tell him about the difficulties that lay in the future. I leaned back, and closed my eyes.
“Ah, young man, where is my manners? You are tired! Come, you can use my son’s room. He is away for the month, it is detached from the house. Follow me.”
I did so, and found myself in a roomy little bungalow just comfortable for one person. When Marcus left, I lay down on the bed that was covered with a big serape style cover. I looked around at the various possessions that belong to this young man. A soccer ball, pictures of Soccer stars, some beautiful dark eyed girls, a large framed document. Some older toys from days gone past. My eyes started to close. I roused myself long enough touch the side of my ring, a hologram popped up of the monitoring agent back at home in the 26th century. I told her I was just checking in, and all was well, would contact in about 8 hours my time. Then I slept.
My eyes, opened with difficulty. A strange trumpeting sound erupted several times outside my window, jarring me to life. I raised myself on one elbow. A cock was sitting on a low wall, about 20 feet away, notifying the world that the sun had once more made it light and food was to be served momentarily. I dropped back. What an interesting alarm clock. There was also baaa’s from the goats and nickerings and squeals from the horses.
I dressed quickly and wandered outside and back toward the main house. As I went I saw Maria and a younger woman coming from the barns. They had a bucket of milk, I thought, although I had never seen such a thing up close, and an apron of eggs.
“Buenos dias! This is my daughter, Angela. Angela, Señor… oh pardon! What did you say your name was?”
“Good morning. I am not sure I did, we were all very tired last evening. It is Jamie.”
“Ah, Señor Jamie, come to the kitchen, we are about to have breakfast.”
Minutes later, the 6 of us were seated around a big table of eggs and bacon and homemade hot tortillas, frijoles, a big dish of whipped butter, and a jar of honey, and a half dozen other dishes I didn’t recognize. Luis and Arturo seemed to be restored, but both had worried looks on their faces. Both faced an uncertain future this morning.
Luis said the blessing on the food, and closed it by saying
“And Father, protect these families that have been sent here, who have no family such as we have to help them in these trying times. Protect the little children, that have no bed this day to lay their head on, nor a hot meal like that which has been prepared here before us. For such we thank thee, Amen.”
Maria responded, “Yes, and how about those families that have no ties in Mexico, no family here? Some don’t even speak Spanish. How will they survive, what are they to do?”
There was no answer given. I asked Marcus how I might get back to the city, to get more information. He told me at 9 a bus comes by the end of the lane to his house. I walked down about a quarter to 9 to await. I contacted my terminal and told them I was leaving 2020 and going to 1934, and all was well. As I saw the bus go by, I did a time jump to April 11, 1934, Refugio, Texas.
It was quite warm at 4 in the afternoon in southwest Texas, even for April. There was considerable amount of activity, Sheriffs and deputies, and Border Patrol.
I popped into a barber shop, sat down near a fan. The warm breeze somehow helped. I asked the guy next to me, “Lot’s of activity going on, what is happening?”
“Oh, someone said they were going to raid some more Mexicans tonight or tomorrow, and send them back to Mexico.”
“Really?” I said.
I left the shop, nodded at the barber and said I would return later. I had obtained a small city map, and walked about a bit. Then, in a small neat cottage on the south side of the street, I saw a name on a mailbox, – Roberto Ramirez. Under a small, neatly trimmed, probably some kind of oak tree in the front yard, a young Mexican woman sat with a toddler, maybe 3 years of age. I walked by and stopped.
“That is a handsome young lad, what is his name?”
“Gracias, señor. His name is Luis.”
“Oh, that is a fine name. A man can grow old with a name like Luis. Gracias, señora.”
I turned and walked down the street. This was the right home. I would be back later.
About midnight I returned to the little home, this time invisible. I found a spot in the yard to sit and wait. I could hear neighborhood sounds around me. About 2 a.m., a small bus turned down the street, followed by 3 rattling Model-A Ford cars. As they stopped, men piled out, going to three different houses, the Ramirez house hold included. I had to clinch my hands on the chair arms I was in, to keep from running to warn them, but that could not be. A serious tear in time would be irreparable. They rousted the poor people out, no possessions, barely clothed, and loaded them in the little bus, women and children included. I watched as they drove them away, probably to San Antonio, to a railroad head somewhere. If they took them to Corpus Christie or Rockport they would be taken away by boat. But I knew that Luis and his family went to El Paso. I sighed, sat back in the chair, visably shaken. My ancestor’s country did this. I opened my communicator, Misha was on duty tonight. I was glad, I needed to see a friendly face.
“Jamie, what’s wrong? You look as if you had lost your best friend!”
“Worse, I have just seen the dirty underbelly of our ancestor’s country, and it makes me very sad.”
“Aww, I am so sorry. Wish I could come give you a hug.”
“Me too, sweetie. Maybe another day or two, then you can. I am sure I will still need it.”
I jumped time, and landed in El Paso again, different spot this time. I had to wait one more day before Roberto and his wife and little Luis appeared. I followed them, invisible, until they were in Mexico. They went to a big church and were taken in. I waited till evening, and everyone had relaxed. Then I turned visible and walked into the room, I walked over to the Ramirez family and spoke to Luis’s mom.
“Señora, I am so sorry they got you too.”
She looked down, tears in her eyes. “Si, señor.”
I squatted down and spoke to Luis. “Señor Luis, you will be fine. With a fine name like Luis you will live a good life. Señor Roberto, what will you do?”
“The priest has told us that there is a small farm outside of town, a man lives who has lost his wife and has need of someone to help him manage. We will go there tomorrow.”
I figured that I knew just the place he was speaking about. I jumped time 3 years later, appearing at the small ranch outside town. I walked up the shady lane to the rambling ranch house. A small boy, maybe 6, was playing in the yard. As I walked up his mother appeared on the shaded porch.
“Ah, señor! Como esta! How are you?”
“I am fine, señora. I am leaving Mexico, and I thought to come back and see you and Señor Roberto, and of course, Señor Luis, before I go.”
She melted in tears, then straightened herself. “Señor, Roberto passed away about 3 months ago. His heart was broken over what happened, he never recovered. The man who owns the ranch has let us stay. He has grown attached to Luis, so there is hope for us.”
I sat down in front of Luis, he looked at me with a frown.
“I know you, I have seen you before.”
“Yes, you have Luis. And you know what? You just might see me again before you die. Here I have something for you.” I gave him a tiny American flag, the sort that goes on a coat lapel. “Here is something to remember me by. Now, adios to you and you too, señora. You will not be forgotten.”
I walked back up the shady lane to the small ranch again, this time in 2020. Marcus raised his arm in greeting.
“Hola amigo, you return!”
“Si, but only to say goodbye. I am leaving Mexico, but felt I need to thank you one more time for your hospitality, and hope if I ever return, that I might be welcomed again.”
“Of course you will. It would be our pleasure, stay as long as you wish. Maria is calling me.”
I sat on the chair opposite Luis. I looked into his eyes, those sad eyes that had seen so much change over his 80 plus years.
“Luis, you said you thought you might have remembered me, is that true?”
“Yes, I still think I remember you.”
“Do you remember when you were but a small boy, someone gave you a tiny American flag?”
For a minute his eyes went blank, then a memory stirred and with it a puzzling look. He became confused for a moment, then he looked me in the eyes, and with a frown he said “I know you, I remember. How is this possible? It is you, you look the same, but how?”
“Luis, I came back today to tell you, that you don’t have to understand, but I want you to know, I wanted you to know, that the future holds such marvelous new things, and much better lives. Yes, there will be more trials as time goes on. But we will get there. Rest easy, sir, and enjoy your days here with a loving family. I must go.”
“Señor Jamie, are you from another world?”
“Yes and no. It is a very different world, but the same planet. I live in the 26th century, but don’t tell anyone that or they might think you are not right!”
“I won’t, thank you for telling me. If you can comeback sometime and tell me more, I would love to know. I have grandchildren and great grandchildren, and it would give me pleasure to know about their world.”
“I will try, sir, but this is very controlled thing we do, we must be very careful. Adios, Luis!”
As no one was looking, I smiled at him and touched my ring and faded slowly from his world. The peace on his face, and his smile, was worth it all.
At home that evening I sat overlooking Denver and tried to imagine what motivates leaders of countries to commit the horrors that they commit on the people they are supposed serve. In the 20th century the people on the right were screaming no open borders. They couldn’t accept that the left didn’t either. Borders must have control, but the right wing media made it seem to some that the left wanted them open. The left put little effort into understanding the rights opinions and beliefs, so it went on for centuries before we evolved enough to get it right. This history recording certainly helped. When the facts are put before you, well, it just makes a difference. Sure, some will always say nay, but over the last hundred years it has become less and less, and as we reach out across the galaxies and populate other worlds, the need gets greater to succeed.
I kicked my grav chair back, and drifted away, thinking of a little ranch outside of San Antonio where they served real Mexican food.