DP Challenge: Carlos Santos Cardona

DP Challenge

Carlos Santos Cardona

***

Carlos Santos Cardona had been incarcerated here at Refugio for 28 years when he was taken from us.  He called cell 517 his home for the last 26 of those 28 years.  We seldom saw him as he did not mingle with the general population much.  Trustees usually delivered his meals to him and he seldom availed himself of his time allotted in the yard.  His health was not very good you see.  No visitors ever came and asked for him.  He had nothing to look forward to.  He was comfortable though, sitting in his cell watching the river through the bars and weaving his ribbon.  Occasionally when we would get a new warden or jefe de la guardia he would have to sit in the workshops where, he could be watched by the guards for a time, but these forays would never last.  Within 4-6 weeks he would always be back in his cell working away as before.  He was not more productive in the workshop nor was he less productive.  His daily output was always constant regardless of where he worked.  He simply preferred to work by the window, looking out between the bars of his cell.  No one objected.  He was never disruptive, and he never caused trouble.  He was a peaceful man.

Everyone at Refugio has a job.  Everyone must contribute.  Most of us work in the fields.  Our crops rotate to insure the most productive soil.  Primarily we grow cotton but, we intersperse corn, alfalfa, and sorghum to reduce the incidence of the pathogens that affect the cotton crops.

When I came here, Cardona was already the ribbon maker.  The only one here to create cloth from the threads made with the cotton we grew down by the river.  Whether he got that job through chance, seniority, or blackmail I will never know.  I am certain that he was the only one left who would remember something like that.  It never crossed my mind that he would tell either.  I know that, like me, he was a political prisoner.  The exact nature of his “crime” was unknown.  The length of his sentence was unknown, probably never having been defined in the first place – locked up for an indeterminate amount to time.  But Cardona knew acceptance.  He knew patience and he had come to the realization that making ribbon at Refugio was to be his lot in life.  He may have even convinced himself that he had chosen this position, this… vocation.  He was at peace with his place in the world.  Cardona never got angry or raised his voice at anyone, or anything.  Courtesy, that was how he controlled his world.  He was courteous and polite to all.  Though he seldom smiled, he never frowned – his expression was ever one of acceptance if not contentment.

Through the years I watched him change.  I watched his hair grow from a thick rich ebony mane to a thin wavy brush of silver.  I watched his growing reliance on the reading glasses that perpetually perched on the end of his nose.  I saw these signs in him but missed them in myself.  I saw how he treated each day as a gift, and I learned from him how our daily activities are important.  How they help to keep the world turning on its axis day in and day out. How they keep things stable. He understood this and, over time, I grew to understand it as well.

It was exactly ten years ago today that Carlos Santos Cardona was shot in the back seventeen times by the guardia as he walked slowly away from the walls of Refugio.  He was not running away.  He was walking peacefully to somewhere else.  In fact he had even excused himself prior to his departure.  It was during one of those times, the new warden was trying to establish his authority and Cardona was in the workshop. “Perdóneme,” he said quietly as he pushed his straight back chair away from the table where he was working.  He stood and walked out of the building towards the river, crossed the river where it was shallow and then was gunned down before he took another two steps.  They left him lying there for three days before they let us bring him back and put him in the ground.  The birds took his eyes but the old guardia at least kept the coyotes at bay.

Cell 517 has been unoccupied since that day.  Each year on the anniversary of his death a mural appears at the window of what had been his cell.  I do not know who paints it there.  It will remain for a day or two, until the warden notices it and we are ordered to paint it over.  Then it will reappear exactly one year later.

Carlos Santos Cardona still lives here at Refugio.  Or at least his memory does and, I suspect this will be the case as long as there is at least one of us here who knew him then.

creativity

(Photo by Cheri Lucas Rowlands)

***

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Daily Prompt: The Sincerest Form of Flattery*

***

The paramedic van arrived and two EMT’s started moving towards Carol.  She saw them coming, shook her head and pointed them to where Gary was sitting with Lilly McGill.  They swerved and headed over. Gary knew these two guys.  They were like Mutt and Jeff.  Jaime was a big guy over 6 feet tall and at least 230 pounds.  He had a body fat percentage of zero.  His partner was Omar.  Omar was about 5 foot 2 and might have weighed 115 pounds, soaking wet.  “Hey Gary,” Jaime said.  “What’s up?”

Omar immediately knelt by Lilly and started talking softly to her.  He had recognized the signs of shock and was gently probing to see if there were anything else, not so evident, that he needed to pay attention to.   Gary stepped away with Jaime to brief him on the situation.  When he finished, he turned the care of Ms. McGill over to the two competent EMT’s and went over to speak with Carol Napolitano.

“How’s it going Carol?  Learning anything?”

“Not much Gary, most of these guys didn’t see anything until after the fact.  They got involved when Ms. McGill was already out front and panicked.  I still have a few more folks to talk to though.”

“Keep me in the loop if anything of substance turns up.  I’m going to go talk with Stan.”  Gary said and he headed for the house but, Omar waved him over.

“We are going to administer a mild sedative to calm her down.  Her blood pressure is critical and she is somewhat incoherent.  Doc Thornton, over at Mercy, has authorized a small dose of Benzodiazepines to calm her down.  We’ll take her over to the truck and let her lie down.”

“OK Omar.  Keep me posted.” Gary said as Jaime was helping Lilly McGill to her feet.

“Stan?” Gary called, as he entered the front door.

“Upstairs.  Be right down. Nothing or no one in here. I’m just getting ready to head out the back.”

Stan came down and they both headed out the sliding glass doors to the back yard.  There was a small blanket spread on the grass under an ornamental plum tree.  A bag of baby paraphernalia was sitting next to the blanket.  The two cops started to head in that direction but, both stopped when they heard the crying.  Not wailing or screaming but a soft cry.  They ran towards the blanket and kept going towards the fence.  Stan got there first and looked over.  There, nestled atop the boxwood hedge on the neighbors side of the fence was a baby.  “Over here, Gary” said Stan as he reached over to retrieve the child.  They assumed that this was Colin McGill, only son of Jake and Lilly.  There were puncture wounds on his left shoulder where the bird’s talons had pierced the soft skin but other than this he appeared unscathed.

Gary reached for his handheld and contacted Jaime.  “Jaime, can you come to the back.  I think we need your expertise back here”

“On my way.”

Jaime stepped on the back patio and saw Stan holding the boy.  His grin lit up the entire neighborhood. “You found him.  Where was he?”

Gary pursed his lips and said, “My guess is that Colin was a bit heavier than the bird anticipated.  He was unable hold on to him and gain altitude.  He had to drop the baby.  Fortunately, when he did the baby landed in this hedge.”

Jaime took the child and started back through the house.  When he stepped on the front porch everyone cheered.  He headed over to the truck where Lilly was resting.  “Let us give him a quick checkout Ms. McGill. Then you can have him back.  We’d like to take you both to Mercy so that the Docs there can take a look at you.”

“Of course” Lilly said as she reached for her son and took him from Jaime’s protective arms.  She was smiling.  So was everyone else.

Maintenant, j’ai besoin d’écrire quelque chose en français. Comment j’ai fait Jetgirl?

***

*I had two goals today.

1) To write in accordance with the instructions / inspiration provided by the daily prompt and

2) To conjure up a suitable ending to the piece of fiction I began yesterday – I didn’t really want to leave the story with a missing baby.  Babies are too precious for that.

Finishing the story came pretty easily but then I had to make it “imitation”.  I chose to close the story, albeit somewhat clumsily, in a manner not unlike one of my fellow bloggers who seems to truly be enjoying what she does.  Keep up the great work!

I should also point out that I know very little about hawks and even less about Benzodiazepines.

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