Chapter Thirty Four
Friday, April 13, 2012
The next morning, Nayeli goes out on her own. She walks to El Gallito, a taco shop nearby, and knocks on the window. She tells the man she has come from Sinaloa and is looking for her father. He asks his name, but replies he does not know of him. He advises her to go to the library, the big silver building downtown. Worried about being ridiculed or thrown out, she expresses concern, but the man assures her they love Mexicans in Kankakee.
Nayeli walks to the library and is intimidated by its size. She passes a group of Mexican kids at the entrance and goes inside. She starts to walk back out, but is too embarrassed to walk past the kids again. She sits on a couch and looks around. A man at the counter whispers in the ear of a woman and nods toward Nayeli. The lady approaches Nayeli and asks her if she needs help. She replies she is looking for her father. The man walks past and exclaims that Mary-Jo runs this city! She finds out Nayeli is from Sinaloa, and replies that they have a few Sinaloans, but most the people are from Guanajuato, their sister city. She picks up the phone to call the police and Nayeli starts to jump, but Mary-Jo tells her not to worry. A few minutes later a Mexican-American cop arrives at the library and Mary-Jo tells him Nayeli is looking for her father from Sinaloa. Nayeli tells him his name, Pepe Cervantes. The cop makes phone calls for about half an hour and finally says there is a man on the north end who might be who she’s looking for. Mary-Jo and the cop both offer to take her, but in the end it is Mary-Jo who drives. She drops her off a street away after Nayeli insists that she must walk the rest on her own. She misses the house the first time, walking to a dead end, and starts walking back, thinking of how she will greet him. She decides this has all been worth it and laughs at the great story she will have to tell. A new pickup truck passes by her and pulls into a driveway. A woman gets out of the passenger side and Nayeli sees her pull a toddler out from the back seat. She starts to hurry towards her in hopes that she may ask her about her father, when a man gets out of the driver seat. Her father. He laughs at something the woman says, kisses her on the mouth and smacks her bottom as they walk in the house.
Nayeli runs to the end of the block and into the field at the end. She collapses in the crops screaming “FATHER!” over and over again. After an hour she walks back to the house. She can hear the baby crying inside. She takes the postcard he sent her from her back pocket, smoothes it carefully and tucks it under the windshield wiper. Nayeli walks away.