Thursday, April 5, 2012

the white girl

here's an illustration i did based on a very
cool short story by Luis Alberto Urrea.

the white girl - Luis Alberto Urrea

2 Short was a tagger from down around 24th St.
He hung with the Locos de Veinte set, though
he freelanced as much as he banged.
His tag was a cloudy blue/silver goth
“II-SHT” and it went out on freight
trains and trucks all over the fucking place.
His tag was, like, sailing through Nebraska
or some shit like that. Out there, famous, large.

2 Short lived with his pops in that rundown
house on W 20th. That one with the
black iron spears for a fence. The old timer feeds
shorties some times when they don’t
have anywhere to go—kids like
Lil Wino and Jetson.
2 Short’s pops is a veterano. Been in jail
a few times, been on the street,
knows what it’s like. He’d like 2 Short
to stay in school, but hey, what you gonna do?
The vatos do what they got to do.

2 Short sometimes hangs in the backyard.
He’s not some nature pussy or nothing,
but he likes the yard.
Likes the old orange tree. The nopal cactus his
pops cuts up and fries with eggs.
2 Short studies shit like birds and butterflies,
tries to get their shapes and their colors in his tag book.

Out behind their yard is that little scrapyard on 23rd.
That one that takes up a block one
way and about two blocks the other. Old, too.
Cars in there been rusting out since ’68. GutiĆ©rrez,
the old dude runs the place, he’s been scrapping
the same hulks forever. Chasing kids out of
there with a BB gun. Ping! Right in the ass!

2 Short always had too much imagination.
He was scared to death of GutiĆ©rrez’s
little kingdom behind the fence.
All’s you could see was the big tractor G used
to drag wrecks around. The black oily crane
stuck up like the stinger of the monsters
in the sci-fi movies on channel 10. The Black Scorpion and shit.

The fence was ten feet tall, slats.
Had some discolored rubber stuff woven in,
like pieces of lawn furniture or something.
So 2 Short could only see little bits of
the scary wrecks in there if he pressed
his eye to the fence and squinted.

One day he just ran into the fence with his
bike and one of those rotten old slats fell
out and there it was—a passageway into the yard.
He looked around, made sure Pops wasn’t watching,
listened to make sure G wasn’t over there,
and he slipped through.

Damn. There were wrecked cars piled on
top of each other. It was eerie. Crumpled metal.
Torn-off doors. Busted glass. He could see
stars in the wind shields where the
heads had hit. Oh man—peeps died in here, Homes.

2 Short crept into musty dead cars and twisted the steering wheels.

He came to a crunched ’71 Charger.
The seats were twisted and the dash
was ripped out. Was that blood on the old seat?
Oh man. He ran his hand over the faded stain. BLOOD.

He found her bracelet under the seat.
Her wrist must have been slender.
It was a little gold chain with a little blue
stone heart. He held it in his palm.
Chick must have croaked right here.

He stared at the starred windshield.
The way it was pushed out around
the terrible cracks. Still brown.
More blood. And then the hair.

Oh shit—there was hair in strands still stuck
to the brown stains and the glass. Long blonde
strands of hair. They moved in the breeze.
He touched them. He pulled them free.
He wrapped them around his finger.

That night, he rubbed the hairs over his lips.
He couldn’t sleep. He kept thinking of the white girl.
She was dead. How was that possible?
How could she be dead?

He held the bracelet against his face.
He lay with the hair against his cheek.

When he went out to tag two nights later, 2 Short aborted his own name. Die Hard and Arab said, “Yo, what’s wrong with you?”

But he only said, “The white girl.”

“What white girl? Yo?”

But he stayed silent. He uncapped the blue.
He stood in front of the train car.
He wrote it. It went out to New York.
He sent it out to Mexico, to Japan on a container ship.

He wrote it and wrote it. He sent it out to the world. He prayed with his can. He could not stop.

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