Jorge said, “we’re going to hell……. We’re going to hell…… we’re going to hell.” Luis turned to him and asked, “you don’t believe in hell, do you?” Jorge opened a book with his family’s picture inside and stared at them. He said, “I don’t know what I believe in, but what I do know is that we need to make this right.” Luis replied, “nothing we’re doing is going to make anything right. You don’t kill your way to right, but……. I just don’t care. I want them all dead.” The broadcaster reported over thirty children ranging from the age of three months to seven-years-old died in the church. Jorge turned the television off. Luis stopped cleaning his gun and said, “where’s the outrage for our people? Where’s the outrage for all the children dying in the drug war and crossing the border? They only care about little white children.” Jorge got up and went to the window looking out. He said, “can we really do this?” Luis got up from the table and walked over to Jorge. He rubbed Jorge’s shoulder working his way down his bare back to his loose-fit boxers. He put his head on his shoulder and whispered, “this act will win us the war so how can’t we do this?”
The national news covered the church all that day and into the next. Gina took her children out to a park to get away from the news. After some talk, Gina decided to take the kids with her and Jill on their trip to California to see Jill’s mother. With some talk, Jack was able to talk his way onto the trip. In what had become their usual morning, Cathy was left to clean up the morning dishes. She fought the urge to scream or yawn. She was entering what had to be the third month of her pregnancy and like the one before she was feeling rundown to the point of exhaustion. When she lost her last baby, she felt the same way, but that was because of David poisoning her and not another problem. Her doctor told her she was fine, but nothing felt fine. Worst of all she couldn’t tell Wendy because she could see how her condition reminded her of something she could never have. Wendy said she wanted this to be their baby, but since then they did nothing. It wouldn’t be too much longer until their baby was there, and they had to address their lifestyle. Cathy turned around and saw Wendy behind her washing dishes. She hadn’t said a word she just joined her, and together they cleaned the kitchen then the common room. By the time they were done, Cathy felt better.
As Cathy and Wendy cleaned the kitchen, Darrel and Scott drove the Jeep to the hospital to exchange it with Owen for the Van. The digital-desert-camo paint had a mix of flat, gloss and metallic paint causing places to shine in the sun. On their way there they stopped at Owen and Ana’s home and took the removable top off and replaced the doors with the smaller doors so she could experience the full open top effect while still having doors. The van was going on a trip to California with Jill, Jack, Gina, and her children. They met up with Owen who couldn’t get over the look of the jeep with the paint job and all the extra touches that were a part of her wish list right down to the LED light bars on top and two winches. Ana came out looking for the van and for a second, she looked worried like they had left her, but then she saw the Jeep, and everything was good. She was wearing a specialized prosthetic leg to help her learn how to walk with one until her final leg was finished. She was on what was a very long list of people waiting for a prosthetic. Darrel whispered to himself, “I think we can do better.”
That night Owen and Ana slept in the same bed for the first time since she was attacked. She still couldn’t stand him touching her other than a simple hug or kiss, but she was able to sleep with him in the room. Her therapist said this was a journey and not a race and getting back to a place where she felt comfortable again would take time. For his part, Owen made sure to hide the ring, so she didn’t feel pressured to get better. The first couple of nights after she came home, she slept with the door locked and a chair underneath the knob. When Owen was working in the shop, Zoey would come over and stay with Ana, but that didn’t last long with Zoey and Gary taking another trip out of the state. For a while, Ana thought about going home and seeing if her father would take her back, but with enough time, she soon came to see her place with Owen as being her home and Mexico her past.
Gina dropped off Maria-Rose at her elementary school then left to take Francis to pre-school. Gina started them in public school, so they could have social interactions with people their age and just maybe away from all the talk of killing. Maria-Rose tested at a sixth-grade level, but they decided to keep her with her age group so she wouldn’t feel alienated while they provided special classes on the side. Her school offered an open curriculum like how Gina was teaching her which gave each student a specialized course of study to meet their needs. The school gave Gina Maria-Rose’s course work, so she could study on the trip as well as receive class work online. On her way out of the school’s parking lot she passed a van with two men inside and the sign, “Two Juans Can Make it Right Handymen Services.” She passed Jorge and Luis not giving them a second thought. Jorge thought the truck looked familiar, but many people drove pickup trucks. A utilitarian vehicle used like a minivan and not a work truck. Luis said, “OK its time.”
Every day for the past thirty years Principle Edward Antonio Dyas stood in front of his school and met with the children as they walked in. He knew many of the parents as they dropped off their children as former students and they liked seeing him. Part of this daily greeting was to make sure every student was in the school mandated uniform, but he thought of it as showing a warm and friendly presence of authority. The school had a U-shaped driveway so that the parents that dropped off their children could without blocking traffic, and in theory, it should have worked, but in practice, it wasn’t big enough for all the parents, so the road became snared with cars every morning. It was Principle Dyas that saw them first. A van pulled into a place where there was usually a police car and an officer to direct traffic. Parents knew that this was not allowed. The side door opened and a flash of light as something streaked overhead then gunfire. People dropped to the ground as cars bashed into each other with people trying to get away from the gunfire. Principle Dyas turned and saw a hole where the doors should be and bodies. The gunfire seemed to be aimed at the building, so Dyas directed students away from the van and the building. Thirty-seconds after the van opened fire they were gone only leaving an AK47 with a few magazines on the side of the road along with the bodies of forty children, six teachers and Principle Dyas who died while shielding three children.
Gina sat in her car paralyzed with doubt and sorrow. Sitting next to her in the passenger seat was a Glock-19 and next to it were several magazines loaded with hollow-point rounds. She sat about a block away from the school watching the police and ambulances come and go. From behind her, Francis was crying. Maria-Rose leaned forward and said, “mom let’s just go home.” Maria-Rose was covered in blotches of blood from two of her friends and a teacher that was trying to guide them to the school, but Maria-Rose went away from the school and the gunfire. She saw as the unknown teacher was hit in the back of the head with her face exploding outward. A local talk-radio station was located across from the school with windows that overlooked the parking lot where they saw the assault. Gina was listening and turned around passing Luis and Jorge as they left. Gina found Maria-Rose in the chaos. Seeing the blood on her daughter as well as the panicked look on her face Gina drove away. Ten minutes later they were home to find everyone there waiting for news.
Owen stayed up watching the news talking about the school, church and gas station remarking on all the recent violence along the border while simultaneously saying how there was no discernable connection to the border or the growing illegal immigration. Ana went to bed trying to put the sight of little Maria-Rose covered in blood out of her mind. She went to sleep and found herself in a school uniform in front of her old elementary school waiting for the doors to open. As she stood there someone ran by then another. Both had blood on them. She turned and saw Jeb, Andrew, and Ricky walking up the sidewalk with AK47s firing into the crowd. She turned and tripped falling onto a wood floor. She was spun around by Jeb finding she was in the trailer again. He was on top of her with that wicked grin and nasty breath. He said, “you will always be my peach.” Ana grabbed him by the genitals forcing him off. She spun around and out of bed grabbing her gun and shooting Owen as he came into the bedroom.