EL SERENO AND AN OPPORTUNITY
When I was seventeen my mom got a job working as a cashier at the Home Depot in Alhambra. It was quite a drive for her each morning and she often complained of the drive and the traffic. Then, one day, she returned from work very excited.
“Mijo,” she called out as she entered the house. “I think I found us a new place to live in El Sereno!”
“El Sereno?” I asked. I knew where El Sereno, just over Rse Hills from Lincoln Heights, but I didn’t know we were looking to move.
“Sí, mijo, it’s over near Alhambra, I’ll be close to my work. Come on, get in the car. I want to show it to you!’
Hey, I was game.
We drove north on Broadway to Huntington Drive and then East along Huntington Drive.
Along the way my mom explained that it wasn’t a house but a duplex. “But it’s a large duplex, mijo, big enough for you to have your own room and it comes with a built-in washer and dryer.”
Finally we came to Sheffield Avenue and pulled up next to a two-story stucco apartment building. The green stucco building had one entrance on the bottom floor and another entrance at the top of stairs leading to a second story apartment.
“It’s the one upstairs,.” My ‘ama explained.
We walked up the stairs and peeked into the empty apartment. It was late afternoon and the rays of the setting sun shown through the window giving us a real good look at inside of the apartment. It was really modern and really nicely painted and decorated. Made our regular house in Lincoln Heights look like a dump.
“Wow, “ I said, “Pretty cool mom. Can we afford it?”
“Si mijo, the rents here are low because they think they’ll be putting a freeway through here. Th ereal estate lady said there’s nothing to worry about. It’ll be years before the get the freeway through here. Do you like it?
“Cool mom but…”
“Well, it means I’ll have to switch schools. I think if you live here you have to go to Wilson High. I wont’ be able to go to Lincoln anymore.”
Mom was quiet.
“I was going to ask how you felt about that.” she said sheepishly. “I was hoping you wouldn’t mind. But I guess you don’t want to move away from your friends.”
“Mom, I don’t’ have friends. Remember. I’m a zombie.”
Truth of the matter was the idea of moving away from Lincoln Heights didn’t upset me much. When you’re a loner, one library is as good as another, one school with no friends is like another school with now friends.
“Mom, it’s okay. I mean about moving. I just need to get used to the idea. I was just surprised by all of this.”
“Mijo,” if you don’t want to move we don’t have to.”
But then I thought of mom getting up early morning for her long drive to work.
“No sweat mom. Let’s do it!”
It took me a few days before the idea of moving out of Lincoln Heights finally sink in. And then I got a brainstorm.
This move could well be a golden opportunity for me!
For a year now, I had been gradually losing my usual zombie pallor and was looking every week more and more like a normal kid–well, a very light skinned kid. I had to change the make-up color every week or two to a lighter shade that still allowed me to look Mexican. My zombie smell, what I had identified years ago as the smell of a dead thing, had also begun to fade. I still dosed my self with Pachouli but used very little now.
I wondered, could I pass for human?
I found out one Saturday morning when I decided to undertake an experiment. I put no make-up or Pachouli on and took the bus downtown. I spent the whole day walking downtown, going in and out of stores, rode the bus to Santa Monica and back to Lincoln Heights. Throughout the day not one person said a word to me. No one studied my skin color or sniffed the air around me. I passed the whole day as a normal human being!
When I got home I couldn’t wait to tell my mom.
“You didn’t put on your make-up? Oh mijo, what if someone found out.”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you ‘ama. I can pass now as a real human–without make-up and Pachouli!”
“En serio, mijo?’
“Mom just look at me. I’m not wearing any make-up now!”
“Hay mijo, you look like a Gringo! Pero, mira no más!”
She sat down and kept staring at me.
“Mom, “ I said. “If we move to El Sereno, I’ll have to change schools. I’ll have to go to Wilson High. But I can enroll looking like this without the make-up .No one knows me there. I’ll just look like a light skinned Mexican. What do you think?”
“I think it can work, mijo. Te ves muy gringo!”
We waited another month till the Christmas holidays were over so I could begin at Wilson High at the beginning of the year. It was a natural break in the school calendar.
I couldn’t wait. For the first time in my life, since being resurrected form the dead at age five, I would be able to go to school without having to disguise my zombie identity.
But would it work?
Copyright 2012 Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc.