Walking the Road of Death This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 2, 2012
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Sweat dripped from his face. He dared not move in the blazing heat. He couldn't. His only glimpse of hope was to go over the electric fence. He had to cross the road of death in order to survive.

Standing 6 foot 6 inches and 280 pounds, Gabriel Silesia was a farmer from South Mexico. He worked in a ranch owned by an American. Although he was born into a poor family, and given the circumstances, he never lost his smile. He also could speak fluent English since he had worked on the ranch since he was 8 years old. He had no choice but to work on the ranch. His father had died when he was only 7. God-forsaken that was the best word to describe his life. It was only when Gabriel turned 21, that he found purpose. He married his childhood crush, named Marissa and had three children. It seemed as if he had done it all. It looked perfect. The reality though, was that it was nearly impossible. Gabriel had tried so hard in his work, but his pay was too low. He could not feed all his family.

For many days, he struggled to find a way to feed them. He had trouble going to sleep. Home was no more home. He and his wife argued. He could not find any reasonable solution. In frustration, he chose what was unavoidable. Gabriel believed the American dream. He told his wife that it was their only chance of survival. His wife resisted. Days and nights were gone as the struggle continued. Death was in front of their children's eyes. He could wait no more and Marissa had to let him go. He vowed to his wife, Marissa that he would return soon, not knowing the risks and dangers he would soon confront. Gabriel left at midnight, kissing his beautiful daughters, sleeping peacefully before his long trip. The bright midnight moon shone upon Marissa's face as endless tears came down her cheek.

It was early in the morning. He was tired from last night's journey all the way from South Mexico to the border. He stood alone in the deserted hills, still unclear. He grabbed a potato from his pocket and gulped it down hurriedly. He reminded himself that he should not hesitate. His love for his family meant that he could endure anything. Now firmly determined, he stood up, looking towards the valley of death, blinded by fortune and money. He believed it was his last hope of survival. He ran towards the electric fence about a mile away.

Halfway there, He came to an immediate stop. There was a swamp. He hadn't known about it. Between painless death and agony of life, he chose the harder one, life. He began swimming across the swamp. His body was drenched as he came up. He climbed the fence, only to find out that it was electrical. The excruciating pain and shock did not stop him. It only served as his motivation. When he finally reached the top, his body fell to the ground on the other side of the fence. The shock had threw him off the other end. He lay flat on the ground until he was conscious. He knew he couldn't stay down too long. The border patrol came searching for illegal aliens almost every 10 minutes. He stood up and didn't notice his legs were wounded. His right leg was seriously injured from the electric shock. As he was trying hard to jump over the fence quickly, his right leg was caught between the metal wire. Pieces of metal stuck to his shin as he was desperately trying to get loose from the wire. The wire turned out to be lethal. The wire was old and had three sharp ends that made it hard to take it out once it was in. It was slowly deteriorating his leg. He squeezed his eyes in pain as he stood up. He slowly started walking, his right leg hanging lifelessly. Steadily, he began to gather speed. He closed his eyes, believing that the pain would go away. Chaos swept him away. Soon, Marissa came with his children. They were shouting something. He could see the wet eyes of his children. He felt demoralized because he couldn't do anything. He could only keep running. He promised that although he wouldn’t be successful in his life, his children would certainly be. He felt tired as he ran for his life. He opened his eyes and was now far way from the electrical fence. He sat down. Rain started to fall. The sky was getting darker. God-forsaken, those words were true. His life seemed to head into misery. He covered his body with a blanket and sat under a tree. A man walked up towards him. Gabriel could only see a glimpse of him. He was scared. A man was talking. Gabriel couldn't hear. Gabriel closed his eyes and lost his consciousness. It was peace now.

He woke up and the whole world was different. He was in a room. It was weird, he was awake and alive. It wasn't the heaven that he had wished for. He sat straight up on the bed, touching his silver white t-shirt that read navy. The whole world was different. At the right, he could see a picture of a young man in a military suit. In front of it, he saw a white paper with the bank of America sign. On the left side of the room, there were posters of basketball players. To the back of Gabriel, there was a window. He stared out for a long, long time. He was now in Arizona, United States. He could feel the heat. He could smell something that was different from Mexico. He felt safe and secure although he did not know a thing about where he was right now.

“Knock, knock, knock!” There was someone on the door. Gabriel just stood there, watching the door. The door opened and then came in a old man. He was smiling. A genuine smile. His body moved slowly though. His body trembled, and he shivered from the morning weather. “You were half dead, young man,” the old man said, as he gave Gabriel another big smile,”What in the world were you thinking when you jumped that fence?”

Gabriel could not reply but just put his head down. He saw his right leg. It was clean and covered with bandages. An unknown guy had saved his life. He silently said,”Thank you, sir for saving my life...”

Clearing his throat, the old man spoke,” My name is Allen. Here's breakfast. Eat and rest till you feel better.” The old man gave Gabriel a plate of pancakes and a bowl of cereals. Gabriel ate the food hurriedly for he was very hungry. “Slow down, young man. You just might kill yourself again.” the old man spoke and laughed. Gabriel began eating slowly. Allen spoke, “How does that shirt fit for you?Good?”
“It's good.”
“Man, you were heavy when I tried to put on some dry clothes and how is your leg? Feel better? I put some medicine on it. Take some pain-killers after breakfast.”
“Thank you sir,” Gabriel spoke as if he was nervous.
“So why exactly did you jump that fence?” Allen asked cautiously.
It took a while to reply for Gabriel. “My family was starving...and I couldn't do anything about it so I..”
“Ah... I understand.” said Allen softly with a kind voice. “Well, you can stay at my house as long as you can, and... um... Don’t worry about the police. I'm not one of those patriots. Actually my parents were immigrants too,” said Allen with a laughter. “And if you look in the closet, you can find some pair of clothes.” “Those are my son's. He's a goner. Stupid. Dead. By those drug-lords...”
Silence flew in as Allen talked about his son. Gabriel couldn't say anything. Gabriel could see Allen looking at his son's picture. Trying hard not to cry, Allen quickly turned away from the picture of his son. “Oh well, if you're done, let me take them away. Rest well, young man,” said Allen as he left the room holding the empty platter.
“Thank you sir.” replied Gabriel. He couldn't say anything else but a genuine thank you.

Morning came as Gabriel was already awake. He couldn't sleep, thinking of his family. He was going to ask for jobs around the town of Arizona today. He left a note for Allen and walked out. As he was walking out of the room, his eyes dropped in amazement. The house was extravagant. Gabriel stared out his room for quite a while, when a person came and said, “I’m Mr. Allen’s servant. May I help you?”

“Oh...No thank you. I think I'll be fine.” Gabriel replied with hesitation.
“You sure? Cause in this house, you'll get easily lot when you don't know where you're going.” the servant answered.
“I'm sure... Thank you though.” Gabriel said.
It took a while till Gabriel found the exit. He had to wander around through 60 different doors. Allen was rich. He was actually filthy rich. The exit was huge. He had to walk about 15 minutes to go through the actually gate. He was tired as he took a breather from the entrance to Allen's house. He could feel the heat. The weather was hot. It was kind windy but sweat dripped from Gabriel's head, just like in Mexico. He didn't even know where he was heading. He was just going for a walk and think about how he was going to make money and get it back to Mexico. As he was coming out from the house and was just about to walk around the corner, a car stopped him. It was the new Audi A-8.

“Gabriel! Where you going?” a man said inside the car. It was Allen. He said he was coming back from the market buying some food for him, Gabriel.

“I was just... I mean I can't do this to you...” Gabriel said.

“Oh! No don’t feel like that. It's fine. Besides I'm just an old man ha ha.” Allen replied. “Let's get back inside. It's freezing.”
They both got inside the car and they started talking about life and money and all that stuff.

“So how did I get to your house?” Gabriel asked politely.

“Oh yeah..I haven't told you yet. So basically I went to play golf in the Arizona desert golf club near the border, down to that boulevard” He said as he pointed out. “I hit the worst shot in my life and went to pick my ball under a tree. There you were, seriously injured and because you lost so many blood you were unconscious. I suspected that you came over the border and I took you in my house. Called my doctor. and... Here we are right now.” Allen replied. Gabriel was silent for a second. He didn't know what to say.

“Thank you very much.” Gabriel said.

“I was thinking of something where we can work things out... how about if you promise that you won't let anybody else like you do crazy things like this and help them out, I give you my ranch in Mexico.”

“Wait... What?”

“I'm dead serious. You! Be my head director of my ranch in Mexico, and promise me to help people like yourself who are jumping over the fence to die literally.”

Gabriel could not speak. Allen stared at him, waiting for his answer.

“But can I? Do you trust me?” Gabriel said with a little doubt.

“You’re a good man. I believe in you.” Allen replied. “Remember the first day you were in my house? I left a 500 dollar check in your room with my signature on it, next to my son's picture. You didn't even touch it. ““I honestly thought you were going to take it and leave with it.” “That was my way of doing it but you” Allen hesitated. “You’re just like my son, very honest. You're not unscrupulous. You have your way.”

Gabriel could say no more. He accepted Allen's offer. That night he was on Allen's plane to Mexico, back to his hometown. Amazingly he remembered that night where he had an illusion of his wife and his children. He remembered that they said to him. They were yelling ‘take the job daddy.’ Ironically, he took over the ranch which was the one he had worked for. He raised the worker's income and environment in the ranch. He promised Allen that he will take good care of it, and also wanted Allen to come visit him every once in a while, to check on him.
In the end, it was good for everyone. Allen found a new son. Gabriel found a new job. Marissa found a new husband. Gabriel’s children found new lives.

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