Canto 14 – En el Mercado de Dallas
Rogelio was definitely in la Tierra de los Muertos, the Land of the Dead. The general scene around him was black. The ground, the sky, the distance… all darkest black. The buildings, trees, and other physical features were painted in with lots of shades of gray, the sparse highlights being white. Rogelio himself was still naked, riding the skeletal horse with white bones and flesh of nearly transparent gray. He could feel the leather saddle under him as if he was naked, but he did have a semi-transparent appearance of grungy, homemade clothing, and a nearly transparent gray cowboy hat that looked beat up and droopy all around.
“So, this is what Texas looked like in your day, before cameras were invented?” he asked Steven. Mainly to test if Steven was still there in his head.
“Of course not! We had cameras then. Just not around here. And what you’re seeing is the long-dead world of the past through inadequate living-human eyes from the present world. Nothing that lived then is still alive in the here and now. So, all you can see is the bones of the dead world.”
“But this is Dallas?”
“The outskirts… It was a big city for the time, but much smaller than the Dallas you live in. We’re headed for the place I first met her… the Mercado.”
“One of them, yes.”
“And you mean you met Yesenia there?”
“No, I mean Imelda, the girl I fell in love with.”
I continued to wonder at the people I saw as we entered the mercado. They were all skeletons of varied colors with only the merest gray outlines of the clothing and hats they wore. There were many cowboy hats like mine and many more Mexican sombreros. There were also three civil war kepis that were probably confederate, but you couldn’t tell by the gray color because all clothing was made of lines of gray.
I dismounted from the horse outside of what was obviously a general store. I mean, of course, Steven made me dismount. I felt kinda funny walking around naked wearing only ghost clothes, but when anybody looked at me, they weren’t looking with human eyes, but only the dark eye sockets of their colored skulls.
And then I saw her. It was Yesenia naked, dressed only in what was obviously supposed to be a fancy hooped skirt. She was with a bright pink skeleton lady similarly dressed in what was likely an expensive hooped skirt.
Steven made us saunter over to the display box of mangos where Yesenia was looking at the ghost-gray produce.
“I bet those mangos aren’t near as sweet as you, hon,” Steven said.
“Don’t let mama hear you talking to me, gringo. I am not allowed to speak with the Americanos from England.”
“Ah, but you do seem to speak English.”
“I do. Father taught me. It helps our business that I can speak it good.”
“What’s your family business?”
“Vacas y caballos… ah, I mean, cows and horses. We have a ranch out west of town.”
“My name is Steven. I herd for Bill Davies’ Bar W Ranch, to the East.”
“How old are you, Steven of Bar W?”
“Fifteen. How old are you?”
“Fourteen, but soon to be having my quinceañera.”
“Oh, wow! That’s going to be a big day for you, huh?”
“Oh, yes. I wish I could invite you. But mama won’t allow it.”
“What’s your name, pretty lady?”
“Imelda Dolores Gonzalez.”
“Where are you staying tonight, Imelda Dolores?”
“At Zuniga’s Inn down the street.”
“If you are awakened at midnight, it will be me.”
She looked at us and blushed in the most heart-stabbingly beautiful way. I knew in an instant that Steven was completely in love with her, and he was capable of doing really crazy things about that love.
The pink skeleton that was obviously Imelda’s mama was coming back out of the store.
“Run away quickly so we are not discovered!”
“Midnight, my lovely… remember!”
“Perhaps.” That beautiful blush returned to her face. Steven made my legs run back to the horse. We mounted and Steven waved our cowboy hat at Imelda/Yesenia from a distance.