Pearl and I stood for a long silent moment in front of the One Hundred building at Wilson High. Around us a few students walked by, on their way to their Mexican American normal lives in normal homes in normal El Sereno. They’d do normal homework then have a normal dinner with their normal families. Afterwards would watch some normal TV. And the next day, they’d do it all over again.
But for me, my life had suddenly changed.
It just taken a very, very ABNORMAL turn. Pearl has said “us.” That meant that what I had a suspected for so long was true. There were other zombies in the world beside me.
“There are more of us?” I Asked Pearl.
“Oh, Lazo, many more.” She replied with kindness. She could see what a shock all this news was to me.
“Yes, of course! Why do you think my parents didn’t want me to have any friends? They were afraid I’d be found out.”
“That story about your parents not allowing you to be my friend because I was Protestant and you were Catholic…?
“Just a cover story. I told any Protestant boy or girl who wanted to be my friend that I was Catholic, and the ones that were Catholics, I told them I was Protestant. The whole idea was not to let anyone get to know me.”
But if she was true zombie, then she must also have that smell of death about her.
“That’s what first clued me into you, Lazo. When I saw you the other day for the first time in years, I smelled your Patchouli.”
“Yeah, I used it to mask the smell…”
“…of death.” She stopped then and looked around, self-conscious that someone passing by might hear us. She motioned for me over to a quiet side of the building. By now most of the students had left the area. We were alone.
“I use strong perfume to mask my death smell. When I smelled your Patchouli I could still make out a faint whiff of death. And then when you asked about the mano poderosa..
“Mano poderoso?” I interrupted her.
“That’s what we call the open palmed hand symbol. Anyway, when you asked about it I knew you must be one of us. But I didn’t know how much you knew.”
“Honestly, Pearl, I don’t know anything. I’ve been trying to track down La Señora Falcón who brought me back to life when I was five years old. But she doesn’t seem to want to be found. I thought I saw one zombie kid months ago, but that was it.”
“There’s a lot you need to know. I’m so glad I got permission to tell you.”
“When I told Mr. Nez that I though you might be one of us. He said I should approach you and find out, but to be very careful. Now you can come to our meetings and he’ll explain it all to you.”
“Yes, we meet once a week. Welcome new members, report on our individual assignments, take any steps necessary to keep our secret hidden. And, of course, we work on the Mission.
“Lazo, it’s bit complicated. Have you noticed some changes taking place in your body lately?
That’s when it struck me. Pearl HAD been darker skinned when I knew her as a child.
“Pearl, you were once darker skinned weren’t you?”
“Yes, of course, and so were you. But now we’re changing. I no longer have to use as much make-up to look Mexican and the smell of death is much less pronounced now.”
“What’s what’s happened to me. What’s causing it?” I asked. I really did like my earlier zombie self, make-up and all, much better than the new Lazaro.
“Oh not to worry,” Pearl replied, seeing my anxiety. “It’s normal, it’s zombie puberty. We all go through it. But you’ll be hearing all about this and so many other things at the meeting next week. In the meantime, you must promise not to say anything to anyone about this. “
“The only one I would tell is my mom. She obviously already knows I’m a zombie.”
“You can’t tell your mom about us yet. Not now. There will be a time when you can tell her everything. But for now. For now just keep all this to yourself.”
And then she unloaded a real knock-out punch to me.
“Oh, and one more thing, Lazo. For the time being, until we can come up with a good cover story. You and I must not be seen hanging out together. Just a precaution, but we haven’t remained a secret society for five hundred years by taking chances.”
The thought of not seeing Pearl for a week was devastating. I had so many questions to ask. How had Pearl died? Had she resurrected like me? How old was she when this all happened? And how did I fit into this new zombie world?
“But, I need to know more,” I told her. “I need to know who I am.”
“All in good time, Lazo. This is all that I’m allowed to tell you now. I’ll be in touch about the meeting next week. You’ll have to get there alone, but I’ll be there waiting. And I’ll introduce you to everyone.”
Then she did the unexpected. She looked around to make now one was watching and then gave me a kiss on the lips.
“Oh, Lazo, I’m so happy you are who you are! You don’t know what this means to me!”
With that Pearl turned and ran off.
I was numb. My head was reeling.
Pearl was a zombie like me and she had just given me my first kiss. And now an underground society of zombies that had existed for five hundred years? Secret meetings once a week? What was in store for me now?
Copyright 2012 by Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc.