187

187
by Jose Rivera
John

(The City of Industry, CA. Present day. Five PM. A bus stop. ALEJANDRA waits for a bus. She ‘.s exhausted after working an eight hour day in a factory. JOHN comes running up to her He*s run a long distance. He is exhausted from working the same job.)

There*s something I have to tell you…… hi… hi… I*m sorry, hi…(Catching his breath.) I—I don*t chase people. I have my pride, you know. Pride*s very important these days. Not much of it left. ‘Specially when you*re working a crap job like we are, huh? The conditions in that place… like a slave labor camp… some gulag… I don*t think they*re gonna pass a hike in the minimum wage… looks like we*re stuck in this Dickensian hell forever… Dust, cat crap, bad lighting, noise, filth, low pay: it*s immoral is what it is; but it*s work, I guess, and I don*t let the work get me down. I have my pride, like I said. That*s why I feel weird, you know? Chasing you. I don*t chase people. Hard to have a lotta pride when you*re waiting for a bus, I imagine. (Beat.) I*ve got an old T-bird. Twenty trillion mules. But it*s an ass kicker. Red interior. Original everything—except the engine. Which I rebuilt myself. You*ve probably seen it in the lot. It*s right over… there. I could drive you… I mean, I swallowed my pride and ran all the way out here chasing you to ask if I could drive you home in my ancient but very cool T-bird. Wanna? I*m John. You*re from a Spanish speaking country. But you don*t look like a lot of the Spanish speakers at the plant. You are, uh… well… they*re kinda smaller.., they have more Indian, I guess, features.., dark… and eyes that really penetrate… you don*t know what their minds are doing… you look into their eyes and it*s like looking into an infinite tunnel going into this deep ancient place and all you can see is this dark alphabet spelling words and feelings you can*t read. You*re not like them. Your eyes aren*t so… unfathomable. There*s light in that tunnel. A sparkle. Something I can recognize and read. A friendliness. Like you don*t wanna, you know, cut me up on some Mayan pyramid and offer my heart to some jealous horrible god. You*re not gonna do that! There*s a frightening, primitive distance I feel with the other Spanish speakers at work. But you*re different. You*re a different branch of the Spanish speaking world. Where is your home? Where? Oh, Argentina. (Smiles.) That makes sense. There*s something more Italian about you than those Guatemalan chicks I see all the time. A Sophia Loren kinda quality… Whoa, back up… I know you’re not Sophia Loren. Just want to say hello. I don*t know. You don*t have to…Idiota? That doesn’t sound like a compliment! Who*s talking about love anyway? Ijust wanna drive you home in my car. I don*t want you to wear yourself out taking four buses every day. I don*t want to see you breaking your back any more than you have to. I*m offering you something good in your completely crappy day. I didn*t imply anything else. You—you— brought up sex and love, not me! I have feelings too. Latin Americans don*t corner the market on feelings! Yeah, that*s fine. You can do that. You say no it*s no. I*m not from the 1950s when no didn*t mean jack to a man. I know what “pendejo” means: you can*t call me that ‘cause I ain*t one! (Slight beat.) I was drawn to the light reflected in your eyes. It warms me. I don*t get enough of that light in my life. Thought if you spent a little time in my car as I drove you home you could tell me aboutyour world and I*d be able to enjoy that light a few extra minutes.(Slight beat.) Because I live in darkness. I live in a pit. I live among the moles and shrews and earthworms, all these eyeless creatures digging in the crap of the world looking for their love and their sex. You*re the one person I*ve seen in a year in this city that*s got more than survival on their minds, whose laughter I*ve heard louder and clearer than all the sounds of all the machinery in that damn plant. I thought I could live on that a few extra minutes a day. To keep me from suffocating in the darkness. You have that much you could hold over me. That much. And I don*t have anything. No money, no degrees, no family, no politics: just a pathetic old car my older brothergave me ‘cause he felt sorry for me. (Slight beat.) The only thing I have, I guess, is that I live here. I*m American. And you*re not. I have this country and its laws. And you don*t. You have your papers, honey? You have that green card? You have a right to be standing here waiting for my bus? Using up my roads and my housing? I*ve seen it happen before—I*ve seen the company call Immigration every time there*s a little agitation at the plant. Union talk. Unhappy workers. I*ve seen it. It*s not nice. The place goes crazy when those agents appear. You see old people running pretty fast! I*d laugh—I would—I*d laugh watching those pretty legs running from the INS like a dog. (Beat.) I*m sorry. Forget that. Sounding like a Nazi ass. I don’t mean to make threats to you. I’m not the kind to do that. I guess it’s the only power I thought I had over you. And I guess I don’t even have that.

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