There is (was?) an artist named Frederick S. Fudala, somewhere in upstate New York, who (a long time ago) was on deviantart and created this drawing which I “embedded” into “‘Tami Smithers Was Here’” on the writingsofleviticus site. It’s called “Druuna’s Ascent”, a tribute to the graphic novel character created by Paolo Serpieri. As I recall Mr. Fudala’s original comment was: “I picture Druuna, having been stripped by a gang of thugs, escaping by scaling this cliff, only to find herself thrust into yet another peril which she will have to deal with while naked.” It fits in with Tami’s plight in general, and in particular her scaling the cliff to get away from teenage toughs at the end of Part 29 of “‘Tami Smithers Was Here’”. Fred, I’ve been trying to find you for years, please contact me!
Guadalupe, la Chica Virtuosa
“It’s nothing, chica. It’s the beautiful body God gave you. You’re no puta. You’ll still be a virgin! And it’s for a good cause!”
Remembering Rosa’s comforting words did not help. It was her third dance and it was now time for Guadalupe -- stage name “Naughty Nina!” -- to take off her G string. She said a short prayer and, careful to keep her hips gyrating, balanced her petite body carefully on the clunky, ridiculously high heeled sandals. She bit her lip as she placed her thumbs over her hips and sidled the sparkly strings down, prompting loud, gross howls from the mostly White crowd in cowboy hats. The nervous teenager stepped out of the strings, almost tripping as they got tangled on the heels, forcing her to hop on one foot, her disproportionately large breasts bouncing side to side, turning in a circle with the result that everyone got to see her cute little butt jiggle. The ten men sitting around the stage sipping their long-neck beers, and the dozen or so others at the tables, were enchanted by her awkwardness, which they took as an act, though well-played. Also taken as well-played was the fear in her spotlit eyes, which turned to amazement as she saw tens and even twenties thrown her way, instead of the usual fives and ones.
It was her first time nude onstage. It had been enough of a trial showing her breasts. But she had been encouraged by Rosa and the other girls, who had taken a liking to the shy teenager despite her being such stiff competition, what with her Playboy body and beautiful face. She had always gone off shift at 1 a.m., when La Chiquita Peligrosa stopping serving alcohol and became an all-nude club. But on this Saturday night in May, she steeled herself and told Enrique she would stay until closing at 3 a.m.
She knew she was not a “puta” (whore) but it was still scary to feel air hitting her lower crevices, places that had been uncovered only for a few moments while changing or in the bathtub. She had been working here for two months, ever since she met Rosa at that church picnic and they commiserated about how to get an education. Rosa, the pastor’s cousin, seemed out of place at that event, a little too flashy in a short skirt and a low cut peasant blouse that showed a hint of cleavage. She gave her a phone number.
Guadalupe was determined to go to college. She was a good student but her parents were against it, particularly her father. College kids were doing weird, sinful things these days and he didn’t want his daughter exposed to all that. She should get a job in town, find a husband. “Everyone knows you’re smart,” he pointed out. In a month she would be the first in her family ever to get a high school diploma. Both here and in Mexico, hers had been a family of farmworkers and truckers, quitting school early because they had to. With that diploma she already would be a step above them, with better job prospects. To some extent the desire for a college education -- to be part of the world she saw on TV -- made her feel guilty. Her parents did love her. They were proud of her. They did want only the best for her.
And now here she was, trying to balance on “puta” shoes, seeing more cash than she had ever seen in her life being thrown at her. Cash she would hide in her bedroom, behind the statuette of the Blessed Virgin Mary on her dresser. By now she had enough to register at the community college in Lordsburg, and maybe enough for the first semester. She didn’t know much about how college got paid for but once there, people would help her out. Of course her parents didn’t know about her dancing. To explain her lateness coming home on Saturdays she had been telling them she was “over at Lisa’s”. But the exceptional lateness tonight needed a different explanation. She had hatched a plan. Today she told her mother she would be staying overnight and going to Lisa’s church in the morning. Lisa was a classmate from the White side of town, and she assured her mother that Lisa was Catholic. Then, at 3:30 or so, when she came home, she would tell her parents that she changed her mind, she wouldn’t feel right unless she went to the Mexican church, sitting with her family and receiving the Body of Christ from Padre Solano. That would impress her parents a great deal. Unfortunately she could play that trick only once. And it was a lie. What about next Saturday? She hadn’t figured that out yet. She was beginning to think that soon she would have to tell them the truth. She was not looking forward to that.
The 11 a.m. Mass at Iglesia de Santa María was attended by practically the whole Mexican side of town. It was the high point of their week. Everybody knew everybody. It seemed like half the grownups were godparents to half the kids. Her whole family went, all dressed in their best clothes, parents and grandparents and all six children, and her aunts and uncles. All except those who had to work on Sunday, like her great uncle Jorge, who had to spend Sunday mornings making deliveries to restaurants with his refrigerator truck. He and great aunt Julia went to the evening Mass at 6 p.m.
Yes, she told herself, staring into the lights, I am naked, dancing for loud, crude men, but I’m making money for college. I’m not a puta, I’m a good churchgoing girl. I was even named for the Blessed Virgin Mary (a.k.a. Our Lady of Guadalupe). She set her little jaw in determination as she finished her set, hands behind her head, bouncing breasts thrust out, with two bumps of her hips, and a cute, semi-forced smile. She gathered the money in her pouch, waved to acknowledge the hoots and cowboy calls, went into the dressing room to put everything in her locker, then came out again.
This was the part she most dreaded. Dancing on stage, being on display, was in a way solitary. She could pretend she was somewhere else. But to mingle, all naked, with clothed men! She felt like a sinful, bad girl. Talking with them at the tables, pretending to be interested in what they were saying, and being sure to keep straight in her mind the details of her life, fabricated along the lines Rosa recommended. Her real name was Gloria, she was 22, divorced, with a little boy at home being watched by her mother. The girls said this type of life story got you bigger tips. Not that Guadalupe was all that convincing. She still came off young and innocent, like she did when she first applied here. At first Enrique wouldn’t hire her, but then she showed him her Green Card which proved that she had turned 18 the month before.
As she sat with Hank, a lanky man in boots, jeans, jacket and cowboy hat, and her completely naked but for her shoes, with him sneaking little pinches to her nipples as they talked -- strictly speaking not permitted, but to get the big tips you had to put up with things like that, and pretend to be turned on -- she kept pushing back feelings of shame. No nice girl should be naked. Last night she dreamed that she had to go to school like that. She would die! What got her through was thinking of people who had it worse. Like that sweet boy Rodrigo, who lived down the block. A few months ago he had to stand up in English class to give a recitation and the kids giggled -- his penis stiffened at inconvenient times and was very noticeable. It was enorme, like a very big yuca, stretching his pants and running halfway down to his knee. Guadalupe didn’t giggle. She felt bad for him as the poor boy, blushing, almost in tears, had to recite for five minutes. Mrs. Stanton, clueless, did not know what was going on. Maybe because her desk was behind him she didn’t see it. This was not the first time Rodrigo had “popped a rod” (as the White boys put it) in public. Guadalupe hated hearing all the cruel chatter. He had been suffering these incidents since sixth grade. The Mexican boys teased him by calling him “Ariete” (battering ram).
Thinking of Ariete -- or rather, Rodrigo -- and his ongoing personal Hell, Guadalupe didn’t feel so bad as she listened to Hank talk and talk and talk (this time it was about baseball). There was no danger of anyone she knew walking in to this place. Unlike Rodrigo, her shame was anonymous. After Hank there was Jeff, another regular. Then the silk-shirted Tomás, who at least she could talk Spanish with, though he all but boasted about making huge amounts of money selling drugs, and kept wanting her to go out with him.
Finally, at last, 3 o’clock rolled around. Enrique shooed the men out and the girls, Rosa and Harriet and Carla and Guadalupe, went to their lockers and changed into their clothes. They had all done three sets nude. Guadalupe supposed it was rude to count money in front of the other girls but she guessed her pouch held about two hundred dollars!
Rosa brought Guadalupe out the back door which opened up to a rickety little porch. The club was outside of town, basically a big old cabin perched on the edge of a huge sand pit surrounded by weeds. There was a rock to prop the door open with. After Rosa kicked it into place she said, “How was it?”
Guadalupe, by now overdressed in her blouse and jacket, covered her breasts as if she were naked again. “I - I don’t know if I can keep doing this.”
The two young women, ages 27 and 18, looked out onto the darkness, the lights of town on the other side of the pit, maybe three miles away, shimmering and blinking in the warm air. On a desert night one can see great distances. Guadalupe had never been out on the porch before and was struck by the sight.
Rosa lit a cigarette and looked down at her little teenaged friend. “You have to get used to being naked. Did you ever walk around with no clothes on before?”
“Well try it. Someplace where no one can see you.” After a drag on her cigarette, Rosa said, “You can make really big bucks, with that face and those tits.”
“Oh Rosa -- don’t -- ”
“Sorry for being so crude.” Another puff. “I gotta go. Want a ride?” Guadalupe didn’t have a car, and didn’t drive. She always got a ride with one of the girls, who dropped her off a few blocks from her house.
She didn’t want to leave yet. She had an idea. “No, I’ll ask Harriet. Or Maria.” (Stage names “Delicious Dara!” and “Curvy Carla!”) Harriet and Maria always stayed a little late, cleaning out the bar, for which they got paid extra. Rosa and Guadalupe came back inside, and now the girl found herself alone in the dressing room. Her older friend was right. She had to get used to being naked.
What was really wrong with nudity anyway? It’s the way God made me. Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of Eden. She decided to be naked for two minutes, out on that porch. She got to it fast, before she could talk herself out of it. When would she get another chance? She took off all her clothes, even her sneakers, and stuffed them into her locker. Then she stepped outside.
No one could see her here. It was just her and God, her and creation. It felt good, the warm desert air wafting over every inch of her body. No gross cigarette smoke, or loud music, or dirty old men. She shut the door behind her and raised her arms up and prayed. Please God, help me through this.
She walked to one end of the little porch, then to the other, making sure not to catch any splinters on her bare feet. Then she prayed again. God, I am doing this for good things. I am not being a puta.
Guadalupe exhaled. Yes, Rosa was right. This did help. Now back into the dressing room to get into clothes.
The door was locked.
Now she knew why Rosa had propped it open with a rock. She grabbed the knob with both hands and twisted as hard as she could, then pulled and pulled. This made her breasts bounce which shamed her, reminding her of dancing. Please . . . she would hate to knock to get help; they would know she had locked herself out with no clothes on. One more pull --
She tugged too hard and her hand slipped off the knob. Her body fell backward, and the flimsy cross-piece of the porch snapped with the impact of her shoulders. Backward and down, onto the scratchy cushion of weeds, and then she rolled down, down, down, tumbling, tumbling, down, down, toward the vast sand pit. Somehow she got to her feet but it was such a steep dropoff that her momentum forced her to run, unable to stop. In the dimness ahead she glimpsed a boulder, which she might have cracked her skull on, but running forward she hopped onto it and then down past it into what seemed like a rushing waterfall of weeds, cracking under her soles. She ran and ran and ran and tried to stop, without success. Finally she found herself on more or less flat ground, a dark, endless basin on this moonless night, and slowed down and stopped. She leaned on her knees, catching her breath, and turned. La Chiquita Peligrosa with its broken porch was far up and maybe hundreds of feet distant. And now she recognized the lights of Harriet’s car as it drove away. The place was now deserted and dark. Maria must have already left, each thinking the new teenaged dancer had gone home with the other.
And, her eyes still not used to the dark, she sensed something rapidly slinking toward her, hissing and rattling.
There was no time to think. Someone told her once that running only makes rattlesnakes chase you faster -- but her flight instinct took over. Run!
As she glanced back she saw there were several of them, coming from the general direction of the weeds, venomous heads darting towards her. Then she turned forward and ran, ran, ran. She didn’t mind the pain in her overlarge breasts, bouncing around wildly without a bra, and was only vaguely aware of the rocks in the sandy soil poking her bare feet. As she fled she dodged the blocks of broken concrete, wrecked burned-out shells of cars, decomposed couches, old bicycles, tipped-over refrigerators, and climbed and descended the piles and hollows of nondescript dirt. It was only after a full minute that she dared slow down, stop and look back.
The rattlesnakes were only defending their weedy home, which she had violently disrupted, and had turned back some time ago. Now, in the middle of this vast basin, she was alone.
Or was she? She heard something skitter past to her left. Her dark brown eyes were getting more used to the dark now and she thought she caught a glimpse of a whitish tail disappearing behind a car wreck.
Maybe it was a coyote. Coyotes were known to ravage people’s backyard gardens and she heard that they could even attack people. Maybe there were other animals here too, wild dogs, more snakes. They all had fur, scales, teeth, claws to fight with, and good night vision. She had nothing. Naked and defenseless.
As her breath finally calmed down she felt sweat exuding all over her, the dust she had kicked up sticking to her. Plus she felt the scratches from all those the weeds. She was at least thankful she hadn’t hit her head on that rock.
Why did this happen to me? She crossed herself, bowed her head, and prayed. Please help me, Jesus. Show me the way out.
A gust of wind made her even more aware of her nakedness, as it flew past her nipples, hard and erect with fear, ruffled her pubic hair, and brushed her thighs.
Where am I? How do I get home? Do I even want to get home first? Is there someplace I can clean up and get clothes? I can’t go home naked. Maybe I can find clothes somewhere and then go home after that.
She turned all around, 360 degrees. She was not exactly in the middle of this vast pit. One edge of it was closer. Above the nearest cliff was a low, one-story house, dimly silhouetted against the cloudy, starless sky. Must be the “White” part of town, with big properties. On the other side was a vast expanse of hilly sand, piles of rock and junk. As her eyes focused more she could see trucks moving above; there must be a highway up there. To one side, the basin curved around so she couldn’t see the rest of it.
Despite the warm air she felt goose pimples all over her. She was afraid. What if bad people were lurking around? A naked, defenseless girl -- bad things could happen to her. She was so far from everything that even if she screamed for help no one would hear.
She looked up again at that house. It was all dark, no lights on. Not surprising at this time of the wee hours -- the madrugada. She thought of her little house on Bowie Street, her parents and her brothers and sisters sleeping, her empty bed next to Dorilda’s and Luisa’s. Her parents might be staying up, thinking of her sleeping at her friend’s. She blinked back tears. She missed her family so much right now.
Now her thoughts were distracted by the itching from those weeds.
There was something in front of that house. It was hard to see -- a diving board. They must have a pool.
She looked down at her scratching fingers and suddenly realized -- poison ivy! Or something like that. The weeds must have been full of it. Now her toes rubbed against each other, and she felt something burning between her thighs, and a place behind her shoulders she couldn’t reach. She knew that scratching only made it worse so she stopped. But as she stood there, fists at her sides, the itching became unbearable. It felt like bugs were crawling all over her body, bugs with burning little mouths biting her.
She had to get into that pool and wash off!
Once again she broke into a sprint. She got closer and closer and saw that to get to the house she had to climb a mountain of big rocks. At least it wasn’t more weeds. She hopped onto the first rock, a sharp edge cutting into her foot, then bent forward to reach the next rock, breasts wobbling. Were there snakes hiding here? She avoided the smaller rocks and tried to climb the bigger ones, away from the low dark places, fingers and toes clutching every little crag. Halfway up, a dirt path appeared. She hopped onto it and ran up the steep incline, calves and feet straining forward.
Finally her head poked up behind the flat surface of the sparse lawn. There was a whiff of something really foul. It must be garbage from behind the house. Dios mio! White people call us Mexicans slobs but they’re more sucio than we are!
Now that she was up close she could see for sure that no lights were on. Not that she was thinking clearly any more. She had been driven half-mad by the itching and had to get into that water. She had enough wits left not to jump in and make a noisy splash. Instead, she slid in to the deep end, just under the diving board, and felt cool water wash away all that grit and dust and poison ivy. It was heaven. She came up for air, then went down again, fully submerged, and rubbed herself all over, starting with fingers in between toes and then up to her lower lips, which she gladly separated and rinsed, and even spreading her butt to get at her butthole, then rubbed all over her breasts and shoulders and arms, finally her face and got the dust out of her hair. Ahhhh!
She came up for air again and was again hit with that foul smell, like a disgusting dirty toilet. Then she went down, and realized how good it felt to swim naked, water flowing past all those places that usually were covered by the modest one-piece bathing suit she wore when her family went to the community park. Or that cute one-piece she had as a little girl when her uncle Roberto took her along when he went to clean the Crocketts’ pool. She swam underwater toward the shallow end, and then felt her feet touch the bottom. She slipped, it was so scummy.
After slipping some more she finally emerged, unsteady on her feet, water dripping from her nose and chin and hair and nipples.
This water was foul! She had to get out! Slipping some more, she went up the steps and stood on the cracked concrete. This pool was not like the Crocketts’. No chlorine filter. No little tank at the side. No sound of a motor, or of water running.
She looked toward the house. It was deserted -- broken windows, an open door half off its hinges.
That awful, acrid smell. And she realized it was now coming from her. She had been immersed in that foul water, and let it into her most secret places. She was covered with algae, inside and out.
She swatted away a mosquito, and then another. Her filthy self had become a magnet for them, and in seconds they were all over her face, in her eyes, biting her butt, her legs --
She ran into the house, through that open door. Maybe there was something in here that could help her. A working shower? Or bug repellent? She had to find the bathroom. She stepped on something warm and furry and it squealed. A rat! She was terrified of rats. Every Mexican had a fear and hatred of them. She heard sounds of little claws scurrying around the trash-strewn floor and realized there must be a whole nest of them circling her.
Once again her instinct took over. Without thinking she got the hell out of there, back across the crusty lawn, hopping down the rocks, ignoring the mosquitoes that attacked her face, her back, her breasts, her thighs --
When she got down to the bottom, stinking and bitten, she rolled around in the sand, flopping around like a fish, spreading dirt over every place she could get to with her frantic hands. It was gross but not as gross as being covered with foul water and bugs. She got up and ran again, then scaled a little hill. The sand dried and fell off and there was only a mild whiff of foulness now. She had outrun the mosquitoes.
She kneeled, feeling dirt fall from her hair onto her nipples, and some more falling from her back onto the sensitive skin of her anus. Again the naked, virgin teenager prayed, ignoring the little stones digging into her knees. So many bad things, so fast. Why?
Maybe God was punishing her? Older folks would say such things -- “God is punishing me”, or “God is rewarding me” when something good happened. Kids her age dismissed such thinking as superstition. But now she was beginning to believe there was a reason for all this.
She remembered hearing in church the story about Pharaoh being attacked by plagues because he wouldn’t free the Jews. So far it had been scratchy weeds, snakes, poison ivy, algae and rats. There were ten plagues. She hoped there weren’t five more in store tonight.
Was she being punished for dancing like a puta? Or maybe for lying to her parents?
Near the horizon a faraway cloud lit up. Then, about half a minute later, thunder. If lightning was coming she had to get away from open ground. After saying “Amen” to end her prayer she stood up.
Her travails had shrunk her bladder. She had to pee. Ridiculously she looked around to make sure no one was watching. Of course not! She had never peed outside before -- and naked! She squatted and gratefully let go, the stream hitting the dirt, echoing loudly around her in the dark silence. In the dimness she watched the stream run down the little hill. The warm smell of urine wafted up to her face. She felt like an animal, peeing like this. And right after praying! When she shook the last few drops loose she wondered if she should cover it up. She decided to leave it like it was.
Her mind was clearer now. She stood bolt upright, all four feet eleven of her, breasts thrust out over her concave tummy, and decided she would make her way toward that highway on the other side of the basin. The lights of another truck, barely visible, reminded her where it was. Until now she didn’t know what direction to get home, or at least back to her barrio. She hadn’t paid much attention to the way to La Chiquita Peligrosa when one of the girls drove her there. But suddenly she had a definite feeling that the highway was Calhoun Boulevard, which led into town. And what would she do when she got there? She had hitchhiked before -- most kids around town did. She could not do that naked. But where there was a highway, there were stores and houses. Anything was better than rattlesnakes, poison ivy, foul water and rats. This time pacing herself, the naked girl began her long trot in that direction, watching her bare feet so that she stepped on only soft sand and not rocks or trash.
Now, louder thunder. And a cloudy flash of lightning only ten seconds later. She ran faster, arms pumping, feet thudding harder into the gritty sand. Now a few raindrops.
She would welcome a downpour, to clean off the dirt, and the slime from that horrible algae-filled pool. As she started sweating with her exertions the foul whiff returned. She radiated filth. Please God, wash me clean!
Alas, the rain was only a few drops. Then a loud crack to her right. In the corner of her eye she saw a jagged bolt hitting the ground!
She could not outrun an electrical storm. She had to find a low spot. She remembered hearing about a baseball game, at a high school not far away, where the pitcher got struck and killed because being on the mound he was the highest one up. To her left she saw a hollow and dove into it, a belly flop, all at once, sliding as if into home plate, her breasts tugged downward painfully as they got snagged under her.
Her hair prickled against her scalp with the sudden gathering of static electricity. The air around her crackled. Oh God, I’m about to get struck. So many thoughts ran through her head in that half-second. The prayer for last rites. She would thumb through the back of the Missal during Mass when she was bored. How did it start again? Auxilios espirituales --
She would be found dead the next morning. Unless the vultures got to her first. Her family grieved and also puzzled -- naked, in the middle of a vast pit?
She shrieked as lightning hit a hundred feet in front of her. Then she cried and cried, like she hadn’t in a long time, not even when she was six years old playing with her father’s hammer and accidentally hit her finger.
She cried and cried, not hearing the storm pass. Finally she had to catch her breath. There was no thunder or lightning now, just rain, drenching her from top to bottom, her hair, her shoulders, her arms, her butt, the backs of her thighs, her heels. Her legs were a little separated and she felt it running past her butthole and into her womanly cave. “Oh . . . Dios mío . . . “ No, she hadn’t been killed. She was alive. Maybe she died and came back? She was grateful for the rain on her bare backside, breathing air, the sensations of sand under her. She’d been given a second chance.
She said a prayer. “God, I will live a new life. I will stop lying and doing ‘puta’ things like dancing.” Rosa was nice, and like the big sister she never had, but she never should have let her talk her into the life of a dancer.
Somehow Rodrigo came into her thoughts. Being so degraded and traumatized, and shamed, she had something in common with him. She will make him her friend. He smiled at her once in the cafeteria and he must think I’m pretty.
As she came back to earth and her senses fully returned she noticed other things. Her mouth was filled with sand from when she flopped down. She tried to spit it out. And that nice smell of the ground when it starts to rain? Here the moisture only brought out the pit’s foulness. For the first time she noticed a pile of dog poop (or was it coyote poop?) a few feet in front of her and turned her head away.
Her breasts were uncomfortably crushed underneath her. She did not like having big boobs, or having to hunt around at the store for another 36DD bra. Rosa said it wasn’t the right size; she should be a 32G, and she offered to drive her to a bra store in Lordsburg where she could get properly fitted. “G”? The girl didn’t know they made letters that high. Ever since she started “developing”, in sixth grade, she’d had to cover up with layers so that the boys didn’t make fun of her. It was uncomfortable, especially on hot days.
Now the rain stopped. As is typical in these parts, wind started up and in a couple of minutes the clouds were blown away. There was no moon, and stars were starting to fade now that dawn was approaching. She felt the wind across her butt. She felt so exhausted, both in mind and body, by what she had been through, that she felt she could sleep here, naked under the stars, no blankets or pillows, face down on dirty sand. But she couldn’t do that of course. She was about to get up, laboriously, when a whiptail lizard ran in front of her. Before she could react it had scurried onto her butt and stayed there, its little claws digging into her skin.
Guadalupe was afraid to move. She had seen lizards before but was always a little scared of them. Did they bite? The little creature, perched on top of its newfound girl-mountain, seemed content to stay where it was. Minutes went by. Then it stepped a little forward. She prayed it didn’t jab one of its claws into her butthole, it was so close to it. Then it scampered down to her heel. She longed to kick it off but dared not. Her toes squirmed uneasily in the wet sand. Finally it hopped off.
Aiee!! A scorpion!
This arachnid, small but venomous, crawling into sight triggered yet another panicked escape in a night full of them. She hopped up and ran, toward that highway.
In the faintness of “nautical twilight” she could see that there was a big concrete wall blocking her path. When she got closer she saw that it was really tall, maybe forty feet! How could she scale it? She briefly turned to her left; somewhere over there was La Chiquita Peligrosa, inaccessible, blocked by a forest of snake-filled weeds.
Ouch! As she ran her foot stepped on something metallic and pointy because she wasn’t looking. Now she carefully dodged what looked like the remains of a wicker chair. She kept on the lookout with blinking, focused eyes for any more scorpions. She remembered now that they tended to come out after it rained. If only she had boots! The worst part of this ordeal of nudity was her feet being bare and unprotected.
As she got closer she saw that the concrete wall was some kind of retaining wall, holding up whatever was behind it. On top, a little set back, was a little building in an open space. How could she climb it? Wait -- there was a ladder!
Not really a ladder, but a series of rungs, old and rusty, that started six feet up and led up to the top. She was afraid of heights. But she had to get out of this pit! She ran the last hundred yards and then stopped at the base of the wall, caught her breath, and looked up. Yes, she could climb it. Just remember not to look down!
Breasts wobbling, she hefted herself up past the first rung. They were about two feet apart, a stretch for a small girl, and as she opened her legs to grab the next rung with her toes, her knee up next to her head, she felt air going into her lower spaces, and sand and dirt falling into them from the rest of her. The rungs were rusty and old but looked secure. Big tough men must have scaled these in their heavy shoes and work clothes. Here I am, a teenage girl, without the benefit of clothes or shoes. It was uncomfortable, stepping on these rungs in bare feet, but she ignored it.
She was halfway up when she heard a car engine somewhere behind her. She turned and saw, in the distance, a police car. It stopped in the middle of the pit and a couple of officers got out, with flashlights, heading in her direction.
The naked teenager felt goose pimples all over. Why would police be snooping around this huge deserted pit at this hour? Maybe looking for her! She was being watched!
She didn’t stop to think how that was possible -- there were no houses anywhere near her, and it had been dark out. Still, the idea of someone spying on her nudity, and all the humiliations she had been through, made her face hot with blushing. It was in its way worse than when she voluntarily stripped for those cowboy-hatted rowdies at the club.
Even in the dim twilight her dark Mexican skin must be easy to spot against this wall of concrete. She certainly couldn’t go down the rungs to be easy prey on flat ground. The only way to escape was up. She tried to skip a rung, stretching her foot way up so that her legs were almost a ballet dancer’s split, but she couldn’t get any muscle power that way. So she just climbed faster. Soon she was at the top. She would hop onto the high ground and --
But no. The ground behind this retaining wall must have subsided. As she peeked over the top she saw a yawning gap to an eroded plateau of dirt, too far for her to jump across. Below was bottomless blackness. Going on instinct again, she hopped over the top of the wall to hide herself. As she clasped the lip of the wall with her hands, her feet dangled aimlessly, trying to find something to support her weight. Her big toe found a little outcrop to step on, though it was too small for her other toes to grab. Her other foot swung around, unable to find anything in the unknown darkness. She needed more support. In desperation she swung her foot up above the lip, and planted her heel on top of it. Her legs were stretched wide, not as wide as a split, but it was uncomfortable, her Achilles tendon scraped by the concrete lip above, her toe struggling to hold on below, her breasts crushed again, not against gritty sand but this time against rough, ragged concrete. She could stay like this for a short while though.
She listened carefully. What she wanted to hear was the fading sound of the police car leaving. Instead she heard the crunch of approaching boots. Then voices. She couldn’t make out the words but from the lilt she could tell they were White.
They were probably sent by Harry McNeil, owner of the local paper. McNeil was a racist and played up any news he could get to prove that the Mexicans in town were lawless thugs, or loose women, a threat to civilized society. He had a network of “informers” who were always calling in “suspicious activity” and of course the police were required to investigate. It was all nonsense. Even the Mexicans who were here illegally, like her cousins Rafael and Juan, and the Fuentes family across the street, were well behaved and honest. For a deslegal to break the law would be really stupid. By now everyone on the Mexican side of town had gotten used to the police coming in and searching their houses. The funny thing was, the police were always nice. They seemed almost embarrassed at having to do what they did. When they knocked and entered into a Mexican house, the family chatted with them and sometimes made coffee for them while they did their perfunctory lookaround.
Still . . . being found by the police out here at this hour --naked! -- was something she didn’t want to happen. She saw flashlight beams passing over her in the night air. She suddenly realized that part of her foot might be seen. It would be an odd sight, the brightly lit sole of a girl’s bare foot, toes up, sticking up over a forty-foot wall. Fortunately her foot stayed in darkness.
She shivered -- what felt like an ant was crawling up her twitching big toe! It crawled up her insole, tickling her, then steadily up her calf and now the inside of her thigh. She wished she could shake it off but she couldn’t without losing her grip and falling into rocky blackness. Now it was joined by another. She bit her lip. Please, please, police, go away so I can get out of here! With dread she feared what the ants -- spiders?? -- would do when they got to her crotch. It turned out worse. Attracted by the moisture and warmth, they crawled into her pubic hair. Due to her near-split her lower lips had parted. In they went, exploring. It felt like a lot more than two ants. Maybe a dozen? And now her anus, opened slightly by her stretched posture, was invaded! She felt tiny legs poking at her most sensitive sphincter, then crawl inside.
Guadalupe whimpered and wanted to cry out. With a mighty effort she stifled her anguished moans. Her body shook like a leaf in the wind. Tears flowed silently down to her quavering lips.
The tiny legs poked her in places she had never felt before, exploring the interior of her virginal vagina, and up into her rectum. Now it felt like there were hundreds of them crawling around in there, having claimed her twin cavities as their home. The ones in her butt were up so far, she wondered if they would climb her entire digestive tract, wiggling all the way, and crawl out her mouth. The suffering nude teenager prayed and prayed for help.
She hyperventilated, then tried to tamp down the sound of her breathing. She thought of ordeals suffered by others, the suffering of Jesus, those fourteen Stations of the Cross along the walls in her church. But Jesus was the Son of God. She was just a helpless, nude teenage girl.
Blessedly, she heard the sound of the police car driving away, tires on sand fading into nothingness. Now how to get out of this position? Her eyes had gotten used to the darkness of this side of the wall. Looking to her left she saw that the plateau of dirt was reachable if she sidled in that direction maybe thirty feet. Letting go of her toehold, and lifting her other foot off the lip of the wall, she swung her legs from side to side, while moving her hands along the lip with the swaying rhythm of her legs.
It was an uncomfortable if not exactly painful business. First she was trying to shake those ants off her legs. She thought about squeezing her legs shut to kill the ants inside her, but did they bite? Anyway she couldn’t do that while swinging side to side. Worse was feeling the rough concrete scrape against her breasts, especially her nipples. They were always sensitive, rubbing even against her bra. The stimulation would make them poke out through her blouse, which was embarrassing. Since eighth grade she had learned to put band-aids over them before strapping on those huge 36DD things with the six clasps. Now, her poor nipples exposed and being rasped by the rough mortar, the stimulation was too intense for her to bear. With the police gone, she could now whimper out loud.
Finally with another swing of her legs to the side, her toes grabbed onto dirt. She brought her hands along, got her body upright, let go of the wall and fell back onto what was not dirt but gravel, digging into her butt. It hurt.
No matter. She was finally out of that horrible pit. She rolled onto all fours and jabbed fingers into her vagina, trying to clear out those ants. Then, disgusting as it was, she painfully forced a finger into her butthole, and poked and swept around inside herself.
She didn’t know if she had gotten all the ants but as if driven from behind she got up and ran, exhausted, her feet hitting the ground with a crazy zigzag pace. She didn’t really know where she was going, didn’t think about it. The sky was getting light. She had to go somewhere.
She passed that little building, which turned out to be a locked-up equipment shed, then found herself on open ground. Horse fences were off to the side. This must be a ranch, though without any horses. Running some more, feeling the crusty brown grass under her feet, she saw what looked like a stable and ran toward it.
She made it to the open door, then staggered inside. No horses. This ranch must be abandoned. Then she looked in front of her and, in her exhausted delirium, giggled caustically. A wash stand! For horses! Another cruel joke being played on her. Just what she wanted, a place to wash herself off, wash off all that crust and foul algae and grit and rinse out the ants inside her, and clean off the finger she had stuck up her butthole. And it mocked her, surely as abandoned and useless as the rest of this ranch.
Playing along with the joke, she lurched forward and turned the faucet.
It was working! Water coursed through the hose and spurted out the far end. The dazed girl immediately blinked to her senses. No clothes yet but she was at least going to get a shower, get nice and clean!
She approached the water gun with caution. Her cousin Pedrito had once worked on a ranch, and had taken her to see him scrub down the horses. He let her squeeze the gun. She was about seven years old and the recoil pushed her onto her butt. These sprays were powerful.
It took a little thought, but she wrapped the hose around the bar, then braced the gun against the wall. Then she turned the little ring slowly, so as to get a trickle, then a little more, then a little more.
To her great surprise there was a brush on the wall, and soap!
She twirled in the cold spray, like a nude, barefoot ballerina, then scrubbed herself all over, then twirled again. Aaaahh!! It was like that pool but the water, though freezing, was clean. Here I am, getting hosed down like a horse -- and it’s wonderful!
She carefully angled her spread crotch just so, and opened her lower lips. Good bye ants! Then she turned around and bent over and spread her butt cheeks . . .
It was such a relief from stress and danger that her insides relaxed, and she realized she had to poop, terrifically. She looked around. Then decided, why not? She certainly couldn’t find a bathroom, and this was the best place. She squatted over the drain, perching her feet well apart, feeling more like an animal than ever, and evacuated. A few shots with the hose and the poop disappeared below.
She wished there was a towel, to dry off with and (dare she hope?) to wrap herself in. Alas, just a rough cloth tied to a chain, about waist high. To get all of herself, she twisted and turned and braced her feet against the wall. All that dead skin and grit was now off, down the drain with her poop.
She stood in the archway, dripping, finally clean, her dark brown skin seeming to glow, looking across the expanse of half-dead grass, a rise leading up to the horizon, the pellucid blue of dawn. God, I thank you that I’m finally clean. Though she dearly wished for clothes. Having showered and with nothing to put on, she felt untidy.
One thing she had become sure of. She would never be naked again! Even if it was hot out, she would stay covered up. When she got back into town and back to her regular life, they would not see so much as a bare shoulder!
She also thought, once again, of Rodrigo. One time she overheard some girls at lunch. “Who could ever have sex with a dick that big?” That was her friend Tonia. And then Jamika said, “If he whipped that out, I’d run away as fast as I could. Later, man!” They were being cruel, as usual. Poor boy! The more shame she felt tonight, the more she thought of him. He’ll never get a girlfriend, or get married and have sex. Not with a penis like that, which everyone knew the size of, to his shame.
Then she remembered something else she overheard, when she was a little girl, when her family was visiting relatives. She was supposed to be asleep, on the living room floor with her sisters and brothers and cousins, but Tía Ana and her mother were talking at the kitchen table. Her mother asked why Ana didn’t have any children. “We can’t make it work; he’s too big,” Tía said. That puzzled her. Tío Daniél wasn’t big; he was shorter than her father. Now she knew that Tía meant. Yet she and Tío were a happy couple, always joking around with each other, playful like kids. “We have fun anyway!” Ana said, which made her mother laugh and almost spit out her wine.
The last Senior Dance was next week. She wasn’t going to go. But now she decided she would go with Rodrigo -- and not like a typical “Mexicana”. She was going to go up to Rodrigo and she would be the one to ask!
Guadalupe, age 18, thought about what it means to be all grown up. Now, refreshed by the powerful jets of cold water, she felt sleepy. Her mind and her body needed rest. She lurched over to the side of the stable, a clean area of dry grass, and fell onto her side. Within seconds she was snoring.
She dreamed about being on the Moon, running from space monsters, naked, her feet falling into craters. And about being tied on railroad tracks while Rodrigo -- Ariete -- was being pushed down on her by the school bully crowd, his “Ariete” the size of a baseball bat, the boy terrified of hurting her. And about swimming in a cesspool, then ascending into the air and being washed clean by a bright, cold rainbow.
She was awakened by the sun in her eyes. Judging by how high it was, she must have been sleeping for several hours. And she heard something. On a Sunday morning in the desert, sound carries. She sat up with a jolt, and by the time her breasts stopped wobbling she could identify the sound, familiar from long ago, like another dream. It was faint, far away, but there was no mistaking the steady growl of the 24-hour refrigerator motor on her great-uncle Jorge’s truck. Which he always kept parked behind his house.
Guadalupe, forgetting nudity, ran in the general direction of the sound of her great-uncle’s truck. After some initial confusion she got a clearer idea of where it was coming from. Fortunately it was across grassy vacant land which was kind to her bare feet, after all they had been through. Now past a row of palm trees, and finally onto a stretch of dirt road.
Tío Jorge and Tía Julia’s house was outside of town. It probably had to be, with that refrigeration motor going all the time. When Guadalupe was a little girl she would sometimes ride with Tío Jorge when he did his weekday deliveries. She was an inquisitive child. “You are full of questions!” he would say. He told her that he only turned off the motor every month or so, when he was sure he had nothing to deliver. “There’s dangerous fluid in there!” he said. “I bring a special man in to clean it.”
She scaled a small hill, and now the area looked familiar. And -- there was Tío’s truck, backed up on an incline behind their house, with the windows of the bedrooms over the lower roof. And on top of the low roof -- just like she always did -- Tía Julia had hung laundry! Clothes!!
The girl was conscious again of her nudity. Her relatives absolutely could not see her like this. She hid behind the garage, then shot to behind the front of the truck. She crept uphill along the side of the truck body, forming her plan on how to get at those clothes. They didn’t fit her of course, they were Julia’s old-lady clothes, but she didn’t want to knock on the door and have them see her naked. She would have to tell them she lost her clothes, and would have to tell them the truth. But at least she would be covered up. She imagined their surprised expression as they opened the door and saw her, barefoot in Julia’s housedress, with quite a story to tell, a series of misfortunes, and they would take pity on her. They always knew that she was a modest, virtuous girl.
And she imagined them feeding her. She could smell Julia’s delicious fish soup, their Sunday breakfast. She was hungry, not having eaten since last night, and depleted from her travails in the sand pit. She almost cried with gratitude, thinking of the comforts of her childhood, growing up in such a happy family.
She made it around to the back of the truck, which was only a few feet from the low roof. The truck had a roll-up hatch. To hop onto the roof she would have to climb up the edges. It shouldn’t be that hard . . .
She hopped onto the loading step at the rear of the truck, then brought her foot up to insert it into the pulldown strap like it was a stirrup. She remembered how, when she was a little girl, she would “help” Tío Jorge close the hatch by pulling down the strap for him, as she sat on his shoulders. Now, she grabbed the corner of the truck precariously with her fingers, then hoisted herself up to grab the latch. Whoa! Her body swung away from the edge and behind the truck. To keep from falling she stretched over to get the latch and strap on the other side. She was now spread-eagled against the back of the truck, facing the house, her butt pressed against the hatch. In stopping her fall she had twisted one of the pulldown straps around her foot. She was as stretched out as she could be, arms and legs in a wide, wide “X”, ten feet above the ground, feeling the air in her lower lips as they were forced open. To undo her foot she had to stretch more but that was impossible.
But -- she was close enough to the low roof that she could just let go, fall forward and grab the eave with her hands, and then push her foot down to get it loose. After that, climbing onto the roof would be easy, just bring her feet up to press against the latches and hop up. A tricky maneuver but she could do it. She carefully timed when she would let go and grab the eave. Three -- two -- one --
The truck rolled downhill and forward, away from the house, and bucked a bit as Jorge popped it into gear. He had been having problems with the battery being low. But it hardly mattered with a manual transmission, and living on a hill. Because of the refrigerator motor Gualalupe hadn’t heard him walk around to the cab, shut the door, and release the emergency brake. Of course he didn’t see her, being that she was plastered to the back of the truck, even her fingers and toes out of sight.
Jorge turned the truck around in the driveway, shifted into neutral, gunned the engine, and as Guadalupe hung on for dear life, spread-eagled and facing outward with her butt pressed against the back of the truck, he drove uphill along the cracked, bumpy driveway, over the curb and onto Calhoun Boulevard.
At Calhoun and 4th Street, the truck stopped at a red light, in front a Ford Fairlane driven by the High School Principal, George Windom, with his wife in the passenger seat, whose children Guadalupe had babysat.
At Calhoun and 6th, the truck was passed by Luis and Maria Salcedo, who honked their horn and shouted. Jorge was a little hard of hearing, and couldn’t hear what they were saying anyway because of the noise of the refrigerator motor right above him. But he had a good idea. He had seen this kind of behavior before and had learned to ignore it. Yes, he drove slow, but he had a valuable truck to take care of and he made sure he was never in a hurry.
He made a slow turn onto 8th Street, witnessed by Lisa and her family on the sidewalk, who were walking to Mass at St. Joseph’s Church.
The truck stopped at the light at Meade and 10th, in front of her friends Tyrone and George from her bio class, who were passing on their bicycles.
Jorge turned onto Bowie Drive. He was passing Guadalupe’s house when he remembered he should have turned onto Houston Street, not Bowie. He was at the age when he was getting a little forgetful. He backed into the Fuentes’ driveway, where Enrique Fuentes, who always had a crush on Guadalupe, was working on his car. Next door the Gonzalez’s, husband and wife, were working on their lawn. Felipe, Nando and Tuni, old guys, were playing dominoes at their table on the sidewalk, as usual. Naturally they all looked up. For a moment Jorge thought the truck had stalled but he got it back in gear and laboriously turned it around back toward Meade.
Along Meade, as the truck passed the IGA Supermarket, it stopped at a red light and caught the attention of the guidance counselor, Mr. Jensen, who last week had told Guadalupe that she had a future in journalism. Walking next to him was Fr. Huertas, who said the 6 p.m. Mass, and was shopping with some volunteers.
Jorge drove down Main Street, bothered by the occasional honking, and, once again, realized he should be going the other way. To turn around he stopped in front of La Iglesia de Santa María and backed up onto the sidewalk, right in front of the big church doors. He knew it was awkward and impolite to do this but he intended to execute the turnaround quickly. But the truck then stalled. He turned the key and it wouldn’t start. As a crowd gathered on the sidewalk he cursed (quietly, he being near a church) and got out to pop the hood. He jiggled the cables and concluded that the battery was finally dead beyond recovery. The refrigerator motor, running off a separate two-stroke diesel engine, growled on. Jorge went across the street to the hardware store, where his friend Mariano was the manager, to see if he could get a new battery.
While he was waiting in the store, as might be expected, a traffic jam resulted on Main Street. At that moment Mass ended and the big doors of the Iglesia opened, half the Mexican population of town pouring out, friends and family and neighbors, their normal boisterous chattering quickly subsiding into open-mouthed silence. The police were called, who decided it was a job for the fire department. Her cousins Ramon and Benicio answered the call. It took half an hour to get her down.
McNeil could hardly contain his glee. More evidence of Mexican moral depravity! He decided to write the story himself. It can still be pulled up at the library, in grainy microfilm, with the banner headline on the front page of the Gainesburg (New Mexico) Herald for Monday, May 16, 1971: “Local Mexican Girl, Nude Dancer, Arrested for Indecent Exposure in Front of Churchgoers”. The girl being over 18, there was no problem with printing her name, and her address, and her photo, taken from the high school yearbook, smiling proudly in her virginal white cap and gown.