General Fiction posted November 20, 2023

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Amarga Navidad

Something In The Air, That Night

by jim vecchio

Ay, Christmas in Mexico! The fiestas go on from December 12. All around were exquisitely decorated trees, nativities, and, of course, poinsettias.

Somewhere in the distance, a voice crooned “Amarga Navidad”, “Bitter Christmas”, bringing to mind that bitter Christmas of 1912 when a bullet found its mark in Gordito’s head. We were young, too proud to cry, and ashamed that we didn’t. Gordito was a good friend and Christmas time is a terrible time to die.

There were  also drums, now, pounding, just as on that starry night. Softly, in the distance, someone was now strumming a guitar, singing softly so only the wind could hear. Ay, but I heard, and I knew it was him. Fernando.

We had fought side by side that cold and chilly winter, in the Revolucion Mexicana.

We had backed Francisco Madero in the rebellion against Porfirio Diaz. What cared we for motive or power? We were young, foolhardy and fought alongside men we viewed as patriots as the sounds of guns and cannon caused lesser men than we to weep.

I ran over to that voice as fast as my aged legs could carry me. When he saw me, Fernando tossed his guitar and threw his arms around me. The scars we so tried to hide from others, we now openly displayed.

Fernando kissed me on the forehead. When you’ve experienced that sharp corner of death with another, a kiss becomes your bond of acknowledgement.

“Fernando, mi amigo!”
“Mi Amigo grande!”

Soon we were seated at a table with a bottle of tequila.

“To Gordito!”, our first toast.

Then,  “To Friendship!”

A voice from the distance shouted, “To Huerta!”

Fernando grabbed the bottle and smashed it on the table.

(Madero and his vice president Suarez were assassinated by Victoriano Huerta. The battles then became bloodier; that was where Fernando and I received our scars.)

“Fernando, we are two old soldiers. What can we do now?” I asked.

He responded, “I never thought we could lose. Lose so badly!”

Then, I returned, “I’ve no regrets!”

Fernando ordered another bottle and we took it outside. The night was still full of stars.

“I confess to you, Amigo,” said Fernando, tearing. "I was so afraid! So afraid to die!”

“As were we all, Fernando, but those lights, the ones in the sky-They did shine for you and me!”

“Si, Amigo,” said Fernando, “As the Holy Star shone that night of the Savior’s birth.”

Christmas Story contest entry


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