5:30 in the a.m. and breakfast has just finished. I lay back down in my bunk and pulled the covers over my head trying to ignore the screams of the five year olds tormenting that poor kid again.
It took a few moments to realize that the guard was telling me to pack my things. They are moving me somewhere, finally, but the where is unknown. I have been waiting, hoping for this moment for a few weeks. I hear the guard scream out a few more names that echo into the artificial yellow light of this artificial morning.
The last name is called, it’s Javier.
I look at him, he did not deserve this stolen life, did not understand the actions of these angry and confused people.
A few days earlier he had told me about how he was put in. He was out celebrating his brother’s birthday deep into October when fate turned red on him. The family and their spouses all were dancing and sweating to the Spanish euphoria of a local Tex-Mex club when his girl’s very beautiful Colombian cousin and her friend showed up to meet the rest of them. She came and greeted the group with the Latin custom of the friendly kiss on each cheek. Javi’s brother, amidst the group, embraced her in a hug and reciprocated. His brother’s wife witnessed the exchange and dove into a violent rage. She was white and, from what he was explaining in more words, also very, very ghetto.
She pounced on the beautiful Latina girl setting off a chain of altercations that ended the festivities pretty fucking abruptly. Javier tried to stop the fighting unsuccessfully then resigned to finding their coats to head back home. At the coat check he found himself face to face with accusations from the large bouncer by the door. An argument between them broke out while he was trying to explain what was going on. Once again he tried to leave and was stopped yet again but this time by the long, hairy, flabby and bored arm of the law, might as well remind you now that this is also in the commonwealth state of Virginia.
Having a bit of experience with this species of Hayneous Swineyous, I know what he told me didn’t need to stray too far from the truth. Beat cops on a club night are always waiting for those people leaving the party, goddamn jackals in the weeds. They found words when he began to search, and then detain, Javier immediately after exiting the joint. No reason given for his detainment, Javier decided, rather stupidly, to argue his case to them as well only to be received by a sharp blow to his ribs. This started the end of his stay here in the grand ol’ United States.
Javier swung back, breaking free of the cop’s grip and tried to get away but the cop pulled him by his scruff, mid-stride, back into the fight. His back-up was not far away, only watching and laughing while leaning against the hood of his car. The “fight” lasted a few minutes before he decided to step in conveniently upon the arrival of the other squad cars. Javier, now in cuffs, received a few more hidden blows from this pig just to solidify who was boss ‘round these parts, a few goodbye presents from our benevolent protectors of their pieces.
He was an illegal that came over with his family at the age of 14, a hard worker for a company owned by his brother and father, as well as the father of a beautiful bouncing three year old girl. The American dream was built from the dirt found underneath this man’s fingernails.
This country is dying of desperation because of men who refuse to build from the dirt they tread on, a few men blind to the toils of farmers and the people who depend on them. And we all watch as this vulgar display of power unfolds itself as if on a script written a generation before this one and the one before that, we a captive audience for the unholy auteur, the 0.1% of humans who are devoid of understanding and compassion.
Well this specific time it was the always useful human scapegoat, the immigrant, who took the fall for the comfort of others so that they may correct all the problems of the country from the front row of their couch.
Javier Gonzalez spent the next six months inside the Richmond City Jail in a block filled with the most violent prisoners that city had, gambling, fighting and screaming all their, and his, time away. They are still blind to what is being done to them but Javier had his eyes open the whole time. That was the first thing I noticed about that man. The others, they were unfortunately born into a culture mimicking the one I watched up until today and were almost doomed to repeat it unless they decide to educate themselves.
In a place where fights happened sometimes two or three times a day, he managed to not even get into one. Hell, I didn’t even last one week of pacifism, I was thrown right into the fire. Maybe it’s because javi is like 190 lbs. and I’m barely 140 soaking wet.
During his whole stay he never heard one thing from immigration, never privy to the plans being laid for him. Javi calmly awaited his reunion with his family and his freedom. His last day was supposed to be the 24th.
When they called my name I was almost happy, still scared but almost happy. They had called a few names in between us that we knew were not immigrants so when they finally called his I tried to assure him that he was going to be released. His whole family had made the trip into town yesterday morning to receive him back lovingly into their arms.
He was one of the only people I came to trust in that month spent barely even trusting myself. I knew in the back of my mind though what was going to happen. They walked us out, bedding and property in hand, lined us up to the processing room. On the right wall there were 6 other inmates, obviously natives to this country, laughing and joking with the guards about the next time they’re going to see them again. They were on their way to the outside world and already they were planning their returns.
Five minutes passed, they brought another inmate and directed him to the left, a man from Honduras who couldn’t speak a lick of English. The guard sat him down right next to the two of us. Unable to deny the situation any longer, Javier’s face turned to that of a child engulfed in sorrow and disbelief, that innocent, immaculate look of the first true feeling of injustice and pain.
I placed my hand on his shoulder and found myself instantly fighting back the tears. It is a fight that is still with me, an ongoing one that I met early on only to be repeated endlessly throughout the entirety of my life thus far. As I touched him, I could feel the impacts of the images of his daughter, of his wife and of his parents shooting from my hand directly to my chest. Tears began to well up in his eyes as they already were in my own.
He pulled himself together, I sluggishly followed suit.
There are some in this world who will never have it easy, who fate has chosen as martyrs, the ones that others will try and make examples of, the ones who must cry in solitude. These are the patriots of the human condition who must show that even while staring in the face of absolute hell will not break their spirit completely for they will work ever harder until this life kills them.
Javier barely spent five minutes inside the terror of his reality before going back to that façade of invulnerability that only a man of great strength or undying foolishness would want to carry.
It wasn’t long before we were back in our street clothes, ready to be transferred to the next facility. I, looking like a dirty mad max character and Javi a rapper from a raggaeton video. We took one look at each other and broke out laughing, both of us trying desperately to ease the blows we’ve been enduring. The I.C.E officers loaded all of us into the right side of the van but not before they shackled us wrist to waist to ankles. The beleaguered group of immigrants all shared a look of solace before our heads were lowered into that beat up people mover.
We were seven deep in the back of that van. Spanish banter filled the busy space between my ears to full capacity. I tried hitting the mute button in my mind but the damned this was broken, so I pressed my head against the steel shell and the window and tried to sleep or daydream it all away. Luckily, the shocks of the van were more worn out than the sandals of Moses from all the trips it had been taking recently up and down the beautiful Virginia landscapes while on the path of G. Dub’s great brown exodus through the holy land.
We begin to get closer and closer to the outskirts of D.C. where we will be taken to for processing. The flag is painted on the exterior of every office building around here, plastered in commercials, married all around us to the term Freedom, worn on buttons attached to the people driving next to us. I’m guessing this is all to convince the true colors of this country that they are in good hands, that the important crayons in the box are safe from having to color the bad images, a conscious being devoid of the knowledge of dirty work. This country so often forgets, or ignores, whose backs those buildings were raised on top of because the marble they were built from happens to share the same color with the smiling, shiny men behind the curtains pulling the strings.
How fucking convenient.
The van clunkers on, my head now bouncing NBA style against the pane of glass separating me from fresh air, the colors of this state bursting and blurring in the depths of springs as they whiz by my eyes and my life altogether. I see a driver next to us, a brown man whose eyes are wide because he knows exactly what the contents are of the solid white van speeding by him. I smile and wave a shackled hand as if to try and ease his worries, this is not the end for any one of us, we are simply being rerouted or simply pausing in our journeys. Some of these men will sign off their rights to stay and take their single allowed bag of no more than forty pounds across a border painted by politics only to return soon enough, but some will never make it back.
Some have decided it best to uproot, liquidate and leave the sinking ship altogether feeling it best to keep air not liquid in the lungs. Funny how right at the end of the trip they turn the captain’s wheel to a black man and salute his historic and brave duty of going down with the ship all the while fighting still to keep the ways of ol’ that tore the damn hole in the hull in the first place. That vacuum is growing ever bigger with every successful rape of our once ravishing lady liberty.
Sleep came for about twenty minutes during the four hour trip. I woke up drooling with my whole right side numb. Our arrival at the facility in Fairfax was greeted by an open slap to the face just oozing with irony. Our van of tired, hungry and poor took a right off the main road and onto a street aptly named Prosperity lane, a street that opened into an office complex that was damn near deserted. As we pulled into our destination, we were slammed with the visage of a huge flag that adorned two whole sides of the building whose basement we were entering. These things had to be fifty feet by a hundred feet in size.
Church of freedom in the land of prosperity my brown hairy ass!
They unloaded us from the van using a beat up milk crate as a step ladder. While accounting for our personal property, I yet again had to argue with the officers working that I had a little bag containing a four hundred dollar cell phone as well as an ATM card linked to an account that, for the first time in my life, actually had money in it. After that came the routine frisk, even though they did this upon entry into the van, you know, to assure I hadn’t conjured up a tec-nine out of thin air or my condensed feelings of rage and pain.
This is where Javier’s story will be forever separated from my own. I would catch one more glance of him while in intake before he went off on his own battles to try and return to his family. Even in that last moment, the image of his daughter flashed into my mind, a faithful reminder of the weight of his existence as well as all of those who have passed through these concrete halls before us and all that will follow. I felt their stories planting themselves firmly into my mind.
Lines were formed, dividing us into three equal groups. There was a shuffling of shackled feet in every direction and we were suddenly led into the catacombs of the building’s basement holding cells. As soon as my body touched those hard and dirty benches lining the walls I passed out for a few hours. I dreamt of Mexico, of Uruguay, of my family there, of my family here. When I woke up I was sweating and being shuffled off again.
Within half a day, we were loaded up again except this time it was a completely different set of brown faces around me, but... yet again, Spanish was all they spoke and yet again my head was bouncing along that Virginia countryside wondering what the fuck else would happen next.