Monday, December 26, 2011

Standing Tall

Rolando is a big man, and in many ways. He stands nearly six and half feet tall, with an impressive belly that sports the largest of belt buckles. The piece of silver that centers the buckle is a walking advertisement for his ranch, one of the largest in the state of Chihuahua. People generally fear Rolando, and steer clear of him.

Eduardo, “Eddie”, lives in the same town as Rolando. He too, is a tall man.

No one in town fears Eddie, however, and no one would consider him a large man. 

Eddie is gay.  Mostly homeless, he can be found  sleeping along the town’s railroad tracks, occasionally working as a prostitute, or begging, or dealing small amounts of drugs.

Some years ago, Rolando lost his left leg to the effects of diabetes. About the same time, Eddie, drunken and asleep, had his right leg cut off when a train car rolled over it.

Each New Year’s Eve, Rolando drives the seven hours to the state capital, where he buys a brand new pair of boots.  Shortly afterward, one can appreciate the brilliance of the artwork as he clips past you on the sidewalk, eyes ahead, and stern.

Rolando does not smile, nor does he return a “buenos días,” as his boot slaps on the sidewalk, and moves in phantom rhyme with the missing leg.

Each New Year’s week, Eddie sits himself on one of the park benches around the town square, taking in the noonday sun. His one good leg is stretched out before him. A brand new boot, resting on the ground, toes upward, winks, and then smiles at those of us who pass by.