WHO IS MY FATHER?
It took a moment for me to realize that I had collapsed onto a chair in the main cabin of the secret Joshua Tree zombie training camp. The impact of seeing Juan de Oñate’s photo and realizing that his face was the mirror image of my own face was shocking and mind-boggling. Oñate was our mortal enemy, he had killed my mother, and his goal was the enslavement of humankind. And yet I looked just like him.
It was my zombie dog, Vida, whining urgently and licking me in the face, that jarred me out of my shocked reverie. I immediately turn to Mr. Nez.
“I don’t understand.” I said softly.
And I meant it. I didn’t understand how I could look like Oñate but I also couldn’t understand why Mr. Nez hadn’t told me before and why he waited until now, in front of everyone, to spring the revelation on me. What kind of sick cruelty was this? Suddenly I started to get mad.
“What the hell is this?” I demand of Mr Nez. I could feel the adrenalin beginning to flow though me.
“Are you telling me you think I’m his son? And if that’s what you think , why didn’t you tell me before? Don’t you trust me? What’s going on here?”
Mr. Nez took a long look at me and then nodded his head.
“Lazaro, I apologize.” He said. “We didn’t know how much you really knew about Oñate or if…”
“Or if I was a spy? If I was one of THEM?” I was really pissed now. The Oñate zombies had murdered my mother and Mr. Nez doubted me?
“Lazaro,” Mr. Nez replied, “we had to be sure. Too much is at stake. Too many lives. I couldn’t risk you being planted here by Oñate himself. I needed to see your reaction to the photo. Your reaction was not anything that could be faked. Again, I apologize.”
My mind leaped ahead.
Mr. Nez considered that I might be in cahoots with Oñate. Did that mean that he knew something about my parentage that I didn’t? My mind raced back to all the conversations I’d had with my ‘ama about the dad I never knew. She always made clear that she hated him. But she never told me much about him except that he was a sinverguenza. I remember when she had tried to get my uncle to play father to me and how he had gotten me drunk instead.
The question facing me was unavoidable: COULD the dreaded Juan de Oñate really be my blood father? And if so, how did that happen? I suddenly realized that at eighteen years of age I didn’t have a clue who my real father was–anyone in the barrio could be my dad!
The only person who had the answer to all these questions was Mr. Nez.
I looked around at the other zombies who by now were closed mouthed and staring at me as if I had leprosy. Even Pearl hadn’t said a word. Only Vida, my faithful pit bull mix, was at my side, licking my face as if that would make everything alright.
“Mr. Nez,” I said., “is Oñate…” The words were difficult to form. I could hardly get it out. “Is he my father?”
“Lazaro,” he replied, “I honestly don’t know. You’re a unique case. We made overtures to bring your mother into out group so we could eventually ask her about your father. But she’s gone now.”
“But you’ve been spying on me all my life, you’ve been monitoring me all these years. Didn’t you find out anything?”
“We’ve had two private detective firms working on your background for more than ten years and they’ve turned up nothing. You’re as close to a tabla rosa as we’ve ever encountered.”
There was a silence as all of this sunk in. Pearl finally snapped out of her daze and came over and gave me a hug.
“Oh my poor Lazaro,” she said, “I’m here for you, no matter what.”
Vida reiterated that with a plaintive whine.
Mr. Nez suddenly snapped back to his professional demeanor. He turn to the assembled group of zombie raiders and pointed to the photo of Juan de Oñate.
“Oñate may or may not be Lazaro’s blood father but all of that is irrelevant. Lazaro is one of us and his going on the raid. Oñate is our mortal enemy. He is set on wiping out La Familia and enslaving the human race. He must be stopped. I just need to know that everyone one of you is prepared to kill hm on sight.”
The zombie soldiers looked from one to another.
“I want to hear it,” Mr.Nez demanded. “Are you prepared to kill Onate and his soldiers, at all costs. Yes or no.”
Gus Dominguez rose from his seat.
“Yes!” he said emphatically.
One by one the other soldiers answered in kind.
“Yes,” I heard Pearl say, standing next to me.
And then I was my turn. Was I prepared to kill someone I didn’t even know but who might well be my blood father?
Copyright 2013 by Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc. This blog was previously published on Latinopia on June 16, 2013.