My dad picked up the tricycle for me from the Martinez’s around the corner. I was afraid for him because my dad was sick, and the Martinez’s were tough, and I feared something wrong happening, something violent, something bad. I watched him walk out of our yard through the gate at the sidewalk and limp across the street with the orange sunset filling up the ivy embankment of the Long Beach Freeway that slanted before him, filling it up in squares and chunks of orange, and below it, my dad an insignificant figure. I kept my eye on him, my dad making his way to that weedy, overgrown yard where my tricycle lay on its side next to the older brother’s bike, who said he was keeping it, come and get it if I wanted it. So I left.
I had come home in tears. And now my dad was on his way there in the pre-dinner hour when the street quieted and nobody went outside but for trouble. I saw it that way. I had seen a fight in the street once.
But now my dad came back with my tricycle dragged in his hands, half-rolling, half-carrying it. And he lifted it over the white picket fence that ran along the front of our small house in Los Angeles. And he opened the gate and limped up the walk and made it to the front door. He wiped his shoes on the mat and came in.
“I got your bike. Mr. Martinez was nice. He said why didn’t you take it home?”
I couldn’t tell him any of it. I just turned away with a broken smile.
Author Bio: Stephen D. Gutierrez is the author of The Mexican Man in His Backyard, Stories & Essays, recently published by Roan Press. His two previous books are Elements and Live From Fresno y Los, which won the Nilon Award sponsored by FC2 and an American Book Award, respectively. He is well published in anthologies and magazines in both creative nonfiction and fiction, and has had award-winning plays produced. He teaches at California State University East Bay. Learn more about him at stephendgutierrez.com.
Artwork: Dan Stuckey is a Bay Area graphic designer and screenprint artist. For more visit www.dstuck.com.