By Chad Tsuyuki
After that sinkhole opened and all those kids on the bus died, people started coming from everywhere to get a look at the hole that was as wide as a football field and three times as deep.
“Why we still here, Row? Look at this place.” Nestor hated the sinkhole, called it “mala suerte.” He looked out the window and pointed at the cops across the street. “Every day it’s more people, more cameras. It’s stupid.” He was right. It wasn’t smart.
“You just gotta relax, baby. Trust me.” I kissed the cross inked into his neck. “This is the best kind of place to kill time. In the middle of everything.”
At first it was news vans and church groups. They came to pray and leave candles by the barricades, that sort of thing. I met one of them in the checkout line. She had those wide, crazy eyes that just didn’t look right, asked me if I knew any of the children.
“There were two sisters I used to babysit.” I pointed at the pint of mint chip. “They loved their ice cream.” Crazy Eyes couldn’t help but take my hand and tell me how sorry she was for my loss. The truth was I didn’t know any of the kids on that bus. We’d only been in town a few weeks before the sinkhole opened. Aside from the motel lady we paid every week and Timmy over at Al’s Place, who gave me free drinks because I looked like his daughter, we didn’t know anybody.
Anyway, the way I saw it, this poor girl had come all the way down here with a bunch of Jesus freaks and needed more than candles and prayers. So that’s what I gave her. Before I grabbed my beer and ice cream, I mentioned something about pillow fights and building forts, stuff I never did with my sister. I told her she didn’t have to worry no more because they were at peace. She smiled and teared up again.
Once the tour vans started coming and the hipsters started jumping over the barricades to take fake suicide pictures, the sheriff and the mayor decided it was time to put a fence up. I got Nestor to take some part-time work digging post holes and pouring concrete. It was good for both of us. Nestor got back into shape and I had time to plan our next move.
The night I told Nestor about the little bank by the border, we were at Al’s drinking High Life and shooting Patrón. “Beast of Burden” was blasting out of the jukebox.
“If it’s good, we could just keep heading south and disappear across the border.” Nestor liked that idea. He wouldn’t say so, but I knew he missed saying words like lengua and cocido. I missed hearing him say them.
We got good and drunk that night, toasting shots to real tacos and making out to Mick Jagger. We did that kind of stuff back then. Afterwards, we got some quarters from Timmy and played Tetris in the corner, laughing at how fast the blocks kept piling up.
After the fence was finished, the paper did another story on the sinkhole, with a bunch of comments. People said stuff about erosion and mines, stuff about God sending us signs. But most of the comments were about the jumpers. They said the hole should be filled up or covered. Some lady named Betty said it was turning into a mass grave. I remember her exact words: People keep coming here to kill themselves. After I read that, I told Nestor he was right. “Mala suerte, baby.”
That day in the bank, while Nestor was filling the bags and I was pointing my old man’s .357 at this teller’s sweaty face, my mind flashed to Crazy Eyes and the kids on that bus.
Maybe we could have a kid at some point.
As we crossed over into Mexico, feeling like everything was behind us, like it was finally our time, I asked Nestor about the sinkhole.
“You think that bus is still down there? You think they ever took it out?”
“I got a better question,” Nestor said. “What if the hole is still sinking?”