© Nicholas 2004 - 2009





Oh my God! The garbage truck! It found me where I was hiding. It was going to crush me! I could feel the rumble of its engine, it was so close. I could hear the clanking of the lifter thing. Kind of crash and whir and clank all at the same time. But loudest and right almost inside my head the rumble, rumble of the great big engine. I had to run, but I didn't even know where I was at! How could I get away? Which way should I go? I couldn't see anything.


That's it! I'm up and running. I've got to get away. I don't want to be crushed.


I run around a corner and slip on something. Fuck! That hurts! I bang my head against a wall. Then Ol' Jake grabs me and I scream!

"Ay! Paulito!"

I scream again and fight against him. I ain't gonna let him poison me again. I ain't!

I'm beating at him with my hands and fighting, but he just holds me tighter. Crushing me to his big chest.

"Paulito! Despierte! Wake up! Paulito!"

God, he knows my name! He's gonna make me suck him again. No! He's not!

My fists are banging away, but he's grabbing me tighter and tighter into the white shirt he's wearing. I hear someone else he's hurting screaming too.


God he must be killing them they're screaming so loud! Maybe if I pretend to not fight him he'll let me loose. Yeah, that's it. I stop banging on him with my fists. I just go limp and wait, maybe he'll let me down and stop the noise that other kid's making.


They're still screaming, but he's not letting go. No! Wait a minute, he's not squeezing me so tight.

"Shush, Paulito. Ay carumba, calma abajo la pequeña! Just a nightmare, It's alright. Calm down little one. Shush....."

His hands are on my back; hey, but he's not crushing me. He's patting my back. He's whispering like in my ear.


"Silencio pájaro!"

I feel him kind of rubbing on my shoulders as he holds me. I look to see where I can run.

Damn! I'm not in the alley! There's a bird in a cage. He's the one screaming. Look at him bobbing up and down on that perch, watching me with those beady black eyes, squawking and screeching. Wow, glad I'm not in a cage. I feel the arms still holding me and stiffen, scared.

My right hand's free though, I can feel he let it go. I turn to look at Ol' Jake ready to see if I can scratch his eyes or something to get away. I'm reaching up real fast and ready.

I look and see. Oh shit! It's not Jake! It's Manuel! It's his white cooking shirt that's holding me. He looks into my eyes and suddenly he smiles.

Oh God, I melt against him. I'm not afraid. It's Manuel! I'm safe! He's holding me and now I'm safe!


Shut up bird, I think, shut up! I'm so confused. How did Manuel save me from the garbage truck? How did I get here in this room?

"Ay! Paulito, shush....." Manuel rocks me in his arms and I make my hand reach out to touch his face, to make sure this is real, to feel that he really holds me.

All the tension and fear leaves me and I just melt into his chest. He's so strong, but now I know it's just to hold me safe. To keep me away from that garbage truck. To make Ol' Jake disappear.

My hand touches his cheek and I feel his arms around me relax too.

"I'm sorry," I whisper at his chest.

"Shush... shush," he kind of rocks me back and forth. He turns and I see the stove. I know now, we're in the kitchen. The bird's by the window and table where I had a burrito last night. I look and there's a mixer there now. I sniff and smell something like the cinnamon, like the good smell I remember from somewhere. Hey! Like the smell yesterday when Carlota's cloth soothed my face.

Manuel is bouncing me and one hand's reaching out and opening up the oven.

"Cuidado," he says as he grabs a cloth and reaches in and pulls out a tray.

I know he means it's hot, so I stay real still. He walks it and me over to the table and puts the tray down. It's got these funny kind of long things on it. Not really cookies, not flat enough. Not bread either, too skinny. Boy it sure smells good. My tummy growls.

He laughs and bounces me and says, "Ay! A tiger! Here."

He guides my hand to a big shaker thingie and I pick it up. He takes my hand to the tray and together we shake white powder all over it. I giggle, it looks like that stuff Mom had once. She shaked it on the table and then she kind of sniffed at it 'til it was mostly gone. Funny, I thought it'd make her sneeze, but she just got all dreamy like and didn't do nothing for a while. I'd sniffed a little bit that was left, it had tickled my nose. I remember I crinkled my nose and tried to watch TV, but I don't remember what was on. I had some strange dream though, something about a grassy hill and lots of squirrels and some of them kept trying to get in my shorts and get my nuts. I remember it was real weird!

Manuel had me put the shaker down and took my pointer finger and stuck it in the powder and then brought it towards my face. I was gonna sniff it, but he laughed and told me to stick out my tongue. I shuddered 'cause it was kind of like what Ol' Jake said. He felt me stiffen and looked at me and with a big smile made my finger go to his mouth. He stuck out his tongue and licked the powder off.

"Yumm," he kind of hummed and his face asked me if I wanted to try too.

I slowly got some more on my finger and licked real small at it. Damn! That was good! No, that was great! I took a big lick and he was laughing and his smile was so bright and I hugged him 'cause I was safe!

"Hot!" he said and kind of pushed the tray away but managed to move so he could like put me in the chair that was there. I sat down and like all in the same movement he took one of the cookie thingies and put it in my hand and ruffled my hair and told me, "Eat!"

Didn't take two times to tell me, I snarfed it down like I had never eaten before. He just laughed and while one finger went into the cage and kind of petted at the parrot's chest the other hand gave me another cookie thing. He went to the fridge and poured a glass of milk. At almost exactly the same time as he set it down Turi was on the table beside me and trying to stick his whole head in the glass.

"Ay, TUTU! " Manuel kind of laughed and just picked Turi up like he had me, so easy like it hardly took any muscles at all. "Scat!" he kind of laughed and put the cat on the floor. Turi looked at me and back up at him and blinked real slow and jumped right back up beside me on the table.

"Carumba!" Manuel said, but not really mad like and he took one of the cookies himself and went back to the oven.

I watched as he just kind of cleaned up and moved things around. He was so big and looked so neat in his white shirt. Wonder if I will ever grow so big? Hehe, maybe I hope not, then he couldn't lift me up and hug me. That felt so good when he did that. I jumped up and ran over to him and just threw my arms around him and hugged. He lifted me up and hugged me back. I just snuggled in. God this felt so good, wonder if this is what the babies felt in the shelter when their momma's held them? I could just stay in his big safe arms forever.



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