Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Enter (02/27/06)
TITLE: The Detour
By Debbie Sickler
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“Come on. Come on!” Mr. Ruso’s gonna freak out if I’m late. He mashed his horn, desperately trying to move traffic along. The c.d. player started skipping once again. I’ve gotta get that thing fixed this weekend. He reached over and banged on the faceplate a few times, hoping to temporarily solve his problem.
“What? You’ve gotta be kidding me. Not today.” Bright orange cones and detour signs littered the road ahead. Impulsively, Dave cut across the rows of now idle cars and sped around the first corner he came to. Hopefully this street’ll go through. I better call Becka and tell her I’m gonna be late. Knowing his job may be at stake, he fumbled in his briefcase for his cell phone, knocking it to the floorboards and spilling the entire contents of his paper cup in his lap. His attention turned to the scorching pain in his groin; Dave failed to notice when he entered the school zone…
Juanita ate her eggs and tortilla quickly. Mamá will be so proud of me today. I will beat Guillermo to class and HE will be the one to empty la basura tonight! A gleeful smile crossed her face as she finished her juice. He was always the first out the door, now that their mother used the trash as a way to keep them from dawdling. But not today!
As fast as her seven year old hands could move, Juanita spread her blanket across her bed and arranged Pablo, her favorite pig, in front of all her other stuffed toys. There will be nothing to make Mamá sad today. It will be perfecto! After kissing her mother good-bye, she gathered her lunch and headed out the door. Her brother Guillermo was only seconds behind.
Mrs. Baptista smiled at her children through the window, as she set a freshly cleaned glass into the drainer. It is nice to see them so eager to get to la escuela. She was happy they had moved here so Guillermo and Juanita could get a good education. Mexico would always be home, but Los Angeles was beginning to feel like home as well.
With the dishes drying on the counter, Mrs. Baptista knelt next to their old sofa and began her morning quiet time. She opened her Bible and read a few Psalms. As she entered into the presence of God, she began praying blessings for her loved ones…
Reality was still coming in bits and pieces for David: mornings in the yard, staring at the world through a chain-linked fence toped with barbed wire; standing in the long line for a meal; at night when the lights turned off, whether he was sleepy or not. In an instant, his whole life had changed and a child’s life had ended. She was so tiny and fast. I didn’t even see her. And her brother. He just held her and stared at me with those dark eyes. God I’m so sorry! I just wanted to get to work. I just wanted to… How am I ever gonna face her parents? Dave’s eyes nearly swelled shut from the tears that flowed in anguish.
Finally, it was time. A guard unlocked the heavy cell door and Dave rose to his feet. He got in line behind the others waiting to go before the judge. Their orange jumpsuits formed a caterpillar as they marched, single file through the underground tunnel; two armed guards served as the antennas.
In the courtroom sat the families of victims, as well as those of the offenders. Some sat in prayer, while others chattered nervously. Mr. and Mrs. Baptista sat together off to the side. A disturbance broke out in the back of the room, but was quickly silenced as the inmates shuffled into the small section of chairs reserved for the accused. Taking in every detail, Dave entered the courtroom, fully aware of his surroundings.
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