After Pearl told me she was a zombie like me all I wanted to do was spend long hours with her, comparing notes, finding out about her zombiness and about my own. I had a million questions! But she had insisted that we not be seen together until the secret meeting of the zombie group. So I kept my word. And, of course, the week dragged on interminably.
Then, on Thursday, I was walking through the crowded hallway in the Four Hundred Building at Wilson High when someone bumped into me knocking my books to the floor. It was Pearl. As she helped me pick up my books she discreetly handed me a note.
“Sorry about that, ” Pearl said giving me a knowing look.
“No problem.” I replied as Pearl walked away.
I immediately went into a stall in the boy’s bathroom and read the note.
“The Mano Poderosa meeting is tomorrow night at 8PM. But Mr. Nez wants to meet with you before the meeting at 7PM. I’ll meet you at 6:30 in front of the Gazebo in Olvera Street. Pearl”
When Friday finally arrived I told my ‘ama that I was going to the downtown library and that I might be late because the buses often ran late. I had kept my promise to Pearl not to let my mom know about my discovery that there were other zombies in the world. I caught the downtown bus and got off at First and Broadway and made my way to Olvera Street.
Pearl was waiting for me the Gazebo.
“Hi, Lazo. Great to see you!” she said as I caught up with her.
“I’m really nervous.” I said.
“Nothing to be nervous about. You’ll find the other members of La Familia to be really sweet. “
“Oh we kinda see ourselves as a big extended family–la familia. Come on Mr. Nez is waiting.”
“And who is he?”
“Oh, I guess if we’re a family, he could call him the papa or the boss or our fearless leader.”
“Is he the guy who started the group? I asked
I remembered Pearl had said about the group.
“I thought you said the group was five hundred years old?” I asked her.
“Then how can this Mr. Nez have started it?”
“Lazo, Mr. Nez doesn’t look it but he is really, REALLY old. No one knows exactly how old, but he talks about events in ancient Mexican history like they happened yesterday.”
“What does he do?”
“He runs the corporation?”
“There’s a corporation?”
“We’re getting ahead of things. Just hold your questions till you meet him. He’s the one who’s supposed to tell you everything. And he’s waiting for us so we should go.”
With that she started out in the direction of City Hall. We walked for about six blocks before we came to an ally off of Spring and Fourth Street.
“It’s this way,” Pearl said, looking around to make sure no one saw us enter the alley.
The alley was empty except for trash dumpsters stacked against the brick walls of the old downtown buildings. The only other thing in the alley, not far from us, was a beat-up car with a homeless man inside.
Pearl saw me checking out the homeless guy.
“That’s Robert, our lookout. He’s not really homeless. His day job is head of Security at Twentieth Century Fox.”
We walked past the car and Pearl waved at the man in the driver’s seat. He looked up from his laptop. I peeked in and saw that the laptop was filled with images from a dozen surveillance cameras monitoring the entire area around the alley. He smiled at us.
“You can ago on in,” he said.
Pearl led me past the car to the adjacent building with a plain-looking wooden door. I noticed that a small open palmed hand was displayed at the bottom of the wooden door and a small surveillance camera discreetly placed above the door.
Before Pearl could knock on the door, it opened and a heavy-set man who looked to be about fifty years of age motioned us in.
“Mr. Nez,” Pearl said, “This Lazaro.”
The man closed the door behind us and turned to me. He took a long moment to size me up. Then he nodded and a smile crept across his face. He shook my hand warmly.“Welcome to the family, Lazaro. Come in. We have a lot to talk about.”
Copyright 2012 Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc.