Chapter 25: Smugglers
by Ron McFarland
When trouble comes, hopes and dreams scatter. The sun hammers on the sand. Straggled tufts of ironwood and cholla stretch their spinney arms towards the dry winds. Iron black hills outline the wide desert stances. Into the scorched desert, live the fantasies of men.
Pathways that follow the occasional sandy gully stretch northward. Each is strewed about with sun-scorched cans of Vienna sausage, torn shirts, and trash mixed with the sand, and a few emptied canteens. A straight and long barbed wire fence cuts over an occasional arroyo separating the United States to the north and Mexico to the south. La línea.
The last mid-July monsoon drowned arroyos and gullets with tumbled rocks and mud that flooded over an occasional low spot on Arizona Highway 80 that runs parallel from the border connecting Douglas, Arizona to Bisbee, Arizona to the west. By mid-August, the heat spikes to 110 degrees during the day under the low hanging shade of the occasional yucca.
Border Patrol agents frequently find the remaining frames of Mexican nationals – men, women, children — dried out by the blast of the sun and picked apart by night creatures that roam this part of the Sonoran desert. Delirium can set in from heat stroke and thirst, causing immigrants to strip off their clothes in search of respite. A few would later be found with their heads buried under ironwood tufts or clumpings of yucca in search of shade. A silent stillness lives in the heat of the midday sun with the infrequent sigh of an arid exhale from the hot gust.
Men and women see no amount of misfortune, which could separate them from their dreams northward. Their dreams were too great to be defeated by any man or by any means. This barren land was their last great sand fosse to cross. The hope of respectable work to feed and properly clothe their children drive men into the Sonoran desert, la Fonterra, where the risk is known well by residents south of the border. Some crossers die like road kill.
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(c) 2015, Ron McFarland