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* I Was Only Nine *
This is a true story

It was hot up there, on the rooftop.

It was always hot,

but it seemed hotter than usual

on that day. And I, unafraid

in my youth, sat there - smoking.

I watched detachedly, as the traffic

flowed by, on the street below me.

I was alone in a foriegn country.

Not totaly alone, I suppose,

for in the house below me

the rest of the family went about

their day to day.

But for the moment, I was alone.

I puffed tenderly at my cigarette,

having recently picked up the habit.

It was a marlboro - red of course.

My pack lay open next to me,

The box kind, I hated the box kind.

That morning I had gotten up early.

I crept into my mothers room,

quietly, while she slept,

and ransacked her purse.

My brother did it all the time,

so I knew she wouldn't miss ten

pesos or so - that's all I needed.

It was just enough to get a couple

packs of smokes, some matches,

and still have some left over

for a Pepsi.

Damn, it was hot!

Any way, I snuck out of the house

and walked down the street,

turning right at the corner,

I proceeded.

There was the park entrance

on the left.

They had this big statue of Jesus

in there, and when you stood at the

bottom, It looked like

it was going to fall on you.

It was kinda spooky.

Past the garbage dump,

on the right, was a little Cafe.

I don't remember much about it,

except, it was open

in the front, or rather,

it did not have a front at all.

It was painted bright colors,

orange and yellow, if memory serves.

So I go in to the counter,

and using poor spanish,

ask for my smokes.

The man kind of laughed, He

rambled something in Spanish

to the old guys at the table,

and they all laughed - there

were always old guys at the table.

Then he gave them to me.

No questions, no, "How old are you,"

no, "Where are your parents kid,"

he just gave them to me.

I mean, after all, I was only nine.

So any way, I picked up my smokes

and matches, and I paid the man.

As I was leaving, he said

something else to the old guys,

whereupon they all broke

into raucous laughter once again.

On the way home I stopped at

the dump. I found a can, and

I put one of the packs

of cigarettes inside it.

I layed the can down where I

would find it again, when

my first pack was gone.

I hid the other pack in my

underwear. The corner of the box

kept poking me - maybe this is why

I hated the box kind.

I had to sneek back into the house,

when I got home. I went up to my

room and put my smokes

under my pillow.

Later that day my brothers

were picking on me so I

retrieved my cigarettes, and went

out the back door.

We had a garden out back,

and in the corner, we had a trellis,

that went up four stories.

I climbed the trellis to the first

roof level, and had to balance some

bricks to get onto the next level.

So, there I was, hot as hell,

and smoking.

There were a couple of bottles

of Aguardiente (fire water) laying

around. Ric and his friends from Paraiso

probably left them up there.

I wasn't the only one who went

up there to get away.

Any way, I sat watching the traffic

and the Black women with the

big pans on their heads. those women

would scream out the name of

what ever goodie they were

selling that day. Javier ran by,

he looked like that little boy Damien,

from that movie,'The Omen',

He always was kinda scary,

lookin like Damien and all.

There was a dead dog on the

median in the road. After a while

the buzzards started circleing.

They were afraid to land

because of the traffic being so busy.

Every time there was a break

in the traffic, the bravest one

would fly down, trying to tear off

a big enough piece to tide him over.

They never really got the chance.

As soon as they landed and could

put their beaks to it, another car

would fly around the corner

and scare them off.

I must have sat there for hours,

just watching, looking over the side,

while I smoked.

A buzzard flew by.

He was about six feet wide, from

wingtip to wingtip,

and less then ten feet above me.

I flipped my cigarette at him,

but I missed.

I must have been sitting to still,

and he thought I was food.

I started thinking to myself,

maybe I should get down from here,

After all, I was only nine.

8-18-89
W. A. Mogollon

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