“Santo Pollero” by Ben Roberts, Austin TX

Connected November 13, 2011 14:55

topic: CONNECTED medium: TEXT

as submitted for the “Connected” Contest

Listen to the Story!

He ghosts along the border, spiriting those who cross over. Seven is his number. He looks so serious and haloed. They say he coyotes in an old pick-up. The wheels are spokes of boots, turning. He’ll drop you some cash, cure a snakebite, give water. In his ribcage is a small round window, and through the glass is an enclosure lined in red velvet. Inside his chest is a bone of his ankle. See, in his heart, he is always gone. Yes, he wears old boots, but when he walks, his feet never quite touch the ground. He is like a phone call. He stands at the threshold between memory and vision. See, it is a moving threshold, shifting, placing his feet one after another and another and another. Who can say, really, how many feet he has? He has been transmitting for almost a century. We can see him now. He wears a cassock made of old boots. Look, his head is ringed with shoelaces and cobbler’s thread.

When they came to kill him, he said, “I am here, but do not kill me.”

When he was dead, he said, “I’ll never help nobody do nothing.”

He finds us in between, journeying across the place of the crossing. His scriptures are a map. Inside his Prayer Book are mountains, rivers, swords of fire, angelic realms, satellites. They say his cellular phone is constructed from the sainted bones of the Cristiada. They say his network runs on holy water and dirt from the church graveyard. They say in Jalisco, where he lives and where he is perpetually killed, the telephone poles are crucifixes. The wires run from one Jesus to another and another and another. Of course, these are the old stories, and for all their dusty horror, the words are tame and domestic. See, Santo Pollero has no home. He has no roof but the heavens, and that, as we all know, is full of holes, and that, as we all know, is full of terror immeasurable, indescribable, and that is, you can see, another and another. Look, the nothingness is no roof for the rain, and yet it seems to keep out the storm. Close up your Prayer Book, Santo Pollero. The meditations become roads too far to travel, routing the future to the past without any connection to the present.

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