THIS WAS NOT the way Juan Carlos Luis Rodriguez had anticipated returning home. Not that he’d anticipated returning. But if he had, it would not have been at the hands of the United States Government, cuffed and shackled like a common fence jumper or border bandit.
Sure, he’d messed up chasing after another man’s wife and marrying a woman, he didn’t love, solely for the purposes of obtaining a permanent green card and eventually, American Citizenship. But that had not warranted being handcuffed and marched – at gunpoint – onto a plane loaded with the worst elements of Mexican society.
Not to mention, that he’d dragged an innocent woman into his mess. A wife he’d never wanted, he thought, as he caught a glimpse of the vivid oranges, rusty reds, and moss greens of the Ozark National Forest as it disappeared as they flew south.
How the hell was he going to explain Eleanor to his mother and the rest of the family? To Don Manuel? To Manuela?
There were sure to be questions. Should he be honest? No! Absolutely not. Telling them that he’d married Eleanor so that he could continue having sex with a married woman, his wife’s next door neighbor and friend was sure to bring on a nasty family argument.
He pondered all of this as he peeked across at Eleanor, who sat quietly in her seat, crying, with her hands cuffed in her lap? Their marriage, he thought, was off to an exceedingly bad start.
Eleanor was stoic as silent tears dripped down her face that was swollen and puffy from having cried all morning. Her heartbreak was palpable. It was as if she’d lost everything. Everything dear to her. And she had.
Everything that she loved was back in Chicago. Her life, her job, and her apartment. Most of it within the walls of her apartment. Years of collecting. Years of picking through dusty covered second hand thrift stores and lugging her finds home.
Thank God, she’d paid her November rent, she thought. That at least gave her thirty days to find someone to sublet the apartment.
Without someone willing to take over the apartment for the time she was gone, how was she going to pay the rent? Her job was gone.
Two years of intense schooling and twenty plus years on the job, all down the drain. She hadn’t had time to call in and let her supervisor know about the trouble she was in. And even if she had, she was more than certain that the hospital would terminate her employment for committing marriage fraud. Besides, it was a hell of a commute from Mexico to Chicago and back. Too much for her.
This whole thing – being deported – was like some horrible nightmare that she couldn’t wake up from. This was not how it was supposed to go. If anything went wrong with the plan, it was Juan Carlos who was supposed to take the fall and be deported. Not her!
What was she going to tell her mother? Hello, Ma. Good news I finally got married. But I also got deported to Mexico because of it. She could just imagine how well that news was going to go over at the next family get together. Oh God, she was going to miss Thanksgiving, and even Christmas, this year and probably next year, too.
She leaned her head back against the headrest and started crying all over again, sucking in big gulps of air between sobs.
Eliza D. Ankum
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