“PLEASE! P L E A S E! You can’t deport me! I’m an American citizen,” Eleanor begged of the armed guards stationed on the US side of the Brownsville-Matamoros Bridge.
“I was born in Chicago. Look at me! Eleanor said, touching her graying blonde hair. Do I look like a Mexican? A Wetback?” Eleanor pleaded with the military clad men forcing her to enter the International Gateway Bridge that spanned the Rio Grande in the direction of Mexico.
Juan had already entered, willingly, and was standing nearby waiting for Eleanor. And he’d heard everything she’d said to the guards. He was beside himself with anger. But he knew he couldn’t leave Eleanor alone on the bridge. She’d never survive.
Despite the raging anger he felt, he’d taken a vow to love and protect her. While loving her was out of the question at the moment, he knew he’d never forgive himself if he didn’t protect her, or at least try. So swallowing his disgust, he walked the few paces back to the Brownsville entrance, with his hands up in the air, showing the armed guards that he wasn’t a threat, and grabbed Eleanor pulling her into the concrete and steel bridge.
“Come on Eleanor we have to go. We have to hurry or else, we’ll be stuck at the station in Matamoros overnight.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” she said, jerking free and heading back towards the Brownsville side, hate dripping from every pore of her alabaster skin in the eighty-six degree heat of a late October afternoon in Texas.
“Damn it,” Juan cursed. This time, he didn’t bother pushing down the anger stirring within him. He caught up with Eleanor and swung her around so that they were toe to toe, eye to eye, and with his patience growing short, but with sincere concern for her well-being said, “Eleanor, it’s obvious to everyone on this bridge that you’re a Gringo. And with your racial slurs, you’ve made yourself a target. If you stay here, you’ll be raped and maybe even killed. If you come with me, once we get off this bridge, you can go wherever you want.”
“I’ve told you that I’m not going anywhere with you! It’s because of you that I’m here in this disgusting place. It’s all your fault and I hate you because of it. I wish I’d never met you. Or listened to Willow. And where is Willow, by the way” Eleanor screamed, with such venom that the other deportees on the bridge made a wide berth around the two of them.
“I’ll tell you where she is,” Eleanor continued, as Juan blushed a deep shade of red. “She’s at home, in the United States, with David, her husband. That’s where she is!” Eleanor spat. “She’s at home in Chicago, where I should be. And she should have her skank ass, here with you!”
“Eleanor,” Juan hissed, clenching and unclenching his right hand. He’d never wanted to hit a woman so badly in his life as he did right now. Instead, he slammed his closed fist into the heavy duty fencing that kept people from jumping off the bridge into the Rio Grande.
“You either come with me and live or stay here and die,” he said walking towards Mexico.
He didn’t want Eleanor accompanying him into Mexico any more than she wanted to be there. And he hated even more the dishonorable way in which he was returning. Because when it was whispered about in the homes of the Marianismos, – the venerable old women – as he was sure it would be, his mother would don the traditional black mantilla of mourning, go to Church at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, and pray for forgiveness of her son’s many transgressions – having an affair with a married woman, then marrying an old maid trying to stay in the United States, being deported, and losing his coveted professorship in the process.
As Eleanor watched Juan walk away, and realizing that she was surrounded by impoverished brown-skinned strangers, the remainder of her pent-up rage dissolved. So, despite the desire to beat him into a bloody pulp, for putting her in this situation, she ran and caught up with him.
Eliza D. Ankum
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