Monday, November 1, 2021

the last book I ever read (The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, excerpt thirteen)

from The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio:

So I got into a fight with Leonel’s lawyer. I was working on a newspaper story on Leonel and he had been telling me for a long time that his lawyer had been treating him—communicating with him or not, mostly not—in ways I understood to be negligent and so I called him up and asked him a list of Bob Woodwardy questions that any discerning person would have understood meant I was asking around the issue of negligence, and he asked me to meet him at the church the following night at eight o’clock on the dot, like a playground bully, and yelled at me in front of Leonel and Sofía, told them they could not trust me, because he did not trust me, and they looked down at the floor because what could they say?—their lives were in his hands. So I was quiet for their sake, and also I am not a confrontational person—I am shy and I cry easily—and I went home and I cried and cried. But after a few weeks later I sent him an expensive bottle of scotch to appease him because I needed to still have access to him, because access to him meant I could help Leonel. Our meeting forced him to go to the church for the first time in god knows how long, which is what Latinos Fighting for Justice had been trying to get him to do, and while he was there, they talked to him about a new strategy, which he agreed to pursue. One of the organizers called me that night to ask if I was okay and to say that never mind all that, the strategy had worked (oh yes, the strategy!). On Thanksgiving Day, out of nowhere, Leonel was released. He was out! He called me and I tried not to cry, because it wasn’t about me, a known pussy, and our conversation was awkward. Are you stretching your legs, Leonel? Soon after, on Facebook, I saw a picture of him stepping outside the church for the first time while Sofía cried by his side and I am lucky I was already married and will not have kids so I do not have to lie about what the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen is.

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