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I Am Santo

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Antonio’s tears came on suddenly when it was just the two of them standing graveside, their son at rest in his lowered coffin. Carlos put his arm around his smaller, now shattered brother and the flood of years streamed down Antonio’s face as he sobbed like distant thunder, trembling as if he were land in the grip of ending drought. The last time he saw Joseph was at the mall kiosk he’d just started working at. It was Antonio’s thirty-eight wedding anniversary and he figured Joseph could help him find something for Eunice, whether at the kiosk or elsewhere. It was a small offer of friendship from the savage father to his estranged, rogue son, but the boy smacked it down and, as always, Antonio went for the jugular, tearing into Joseph’s lack of care for anyone other than himself as if it was an exposed neck for his wiling teeth. That was it, their end. They found Joseph anchored underwater by chains and concrete next to pier seven a few days later, and Antonio watched as the news ruined everyone in his life. But in these ripples of anguish he understood his own role; for the stone was tossed into the sea by someone, and Antonio’s hands were one lighter. He’d killed the boy, and now his brother, the kid’s real father, attempted comfort when none was deserved. Their’s was an illness of rogues and savages, the liars and merciless; how could he not have tried to break him for he needed the strength to live as a Chavez. Carlos gave up his son and his love for Eunice. Antonio was reminded daily of the Infidelity that brought Joseph into this world. Love was chewed aspirin and sooner or later the bitterness stopped easing pain. But he cried just the same, his mistakes falling like precious rain. His brother tugged him away from the grave, but not from the death squeezing each of their hearts like a tightened vice. “I tried,” Antonio told his son’s blood father. “I know,” his brother said. “But it stops here.” Antonio begged the turbulent late afternoon sky for rain, but it roiled and threatened like the father he was, never truly providing. So his tears fell instead, for the living and for the dead, the ground swallowing them as they did his son.

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