The Unlikely Samaritan

May 5, 2013
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Shots. Money. Death. These three words describe my life perfectly. Name’s Don, Don Rodriguez. I am a twenty-six year old Mexican man who is currently trying to answer life’s problems. I was part of The Cartels. Yeah, I know, that’s scary. I often hear people on the street talking about how dangerous we are. How horrible we are. To be honest, I was in it for the money. We make so much money. The killing, the deaths, they’re just added excitement. I know, I know, what a terrible thing to say right?

I live in New York, but I was actually born in Mexico City. My grandfather moved up to here when he was about thirty-six years old. He used to visit Mexico often, and I with him. I became bored after trips I explored, and met people.

My grandfather doesn’t know about me being part of The Cartels. As a twenty-six year old man who is part of a powerful gang, I took up a job that people would never suspect: a part-time librarian.

The Morning Of

“Abuelo,” I exclaimed. “Abuelo, are you up?”

No response. The clock was ticking loudly and my eyes scanned my bedroom as I made way out the door. “Abuelo,” I called again, this time shouting. Nothing. I knew that my grandfather’s daily routine consisted of waking up, watching the seven o’clock news on maximum volume, and drinking black coffee. This morning I heard the seven o’clock news, but not on maximum volume. I didn’t even smell the bitter, black coffee aroma that came from the kitchen. I started to question myself. “Have they found out where I live? Or maybe they figured out I had a grandfather, and then killed him! Wait. That’s irrational. They probably tied him up and duck taped his lips.” I sprinted into the living room at the thought of this. The living room was normal. Everything in place, except my grandfather. He was passed out with pills on the small, wooden-carved table. I looked around the house. Opening doors, checking mats, looking through of all the rooms…

“I can’t call the police”, I said out loud. I am a Cartel, if they enter my house, they might do a warrant search and find the three AK-47s’ I hide under my bed. They might question my credibility as a librarian because my shelves are filled with nothing. Nevertheless, I still cannot let my grandfather die right in front of me. His death will kill me internally. I need to tell someone; but I can’t put myself in danger at the same time.

So, I paced. Back and forth. My feet went in sync with the ticking of the clock. Should I call the police to save my grandfather? Or should I deal with this myself and risk my grandfather’s life? I stopped pacing and looked all around the living room. My eyes finally landed on abuelo, and I then knew what I had to do.

“911 here. What is your emergency?” the operator said.

“My grandfather is passed out on the couch with pills by his side,” I whispered.

“How long has he been like this?”

“I don’t know… I just came into the room and saw him like this,” I lied.

“Alright sir, the ambulance will be there in about five minutes. Please don’t hang up until they reach there.”

I stayed on the phone. My breathing was loud. My heart beat quickly. I felt like I was in the middle of interrogation.

The police came. The sirens rang. My abuelo was hooked up to numerous machines. I stared at my grandfather as I stood next to the stretcher. It’s weird. It’s weird how although I have killed hundreds of people, I have felt nothing. But the fact that one of my own is possibly dead. That’s the tragedy that finally shakes me. The paramedics rushed all around, attaching and detaching wires and medicine to my grandfather. I watched and understood, for the most part, why they were attaching those plastic tubes my abuelo. I knew the fates had come to choke him out of his life.

I waited, for what seemed like hours, in the hospital’s lobby. I paced back and forth until my shoes started to leave imprints in the carpet. Angry tears fell down my face. I shouldn’t have let this happen. This was my fault. I will take the burden, but I won’t let him die. Not today, not tomorrow. I will never allow him to die like this. The doctor walked in and announced, “Is there a Don Rodriguez here?”

“Here, I am,” I replied.

“We have bad news, and good news.”

“Give me the bad. I want the bad first.”

“Sir, your grandfather’s lung cancer has reached its peak. He has twenty-four hours to live.”

“Twenty-four hours? Twenty-four hours! I monitor his medication. I’ve done everything you damn people have asked me to do. I pay for his bills. What else do you want? More money? Huh? Is that what you want?”

“Sir, please, calm down. We are informing you that your grandfather’s is in critical condition. However, there is a drug that can help prolong his life. The drug is called Yunjini, and it can only be found at St. Jude’s in Maine.”

I stared at the doctor without saying a word. He knew the consequences would be fatal; and I knew that I would lose my grandfather.

I looked away from his face, and plainly uttered the words, “I’ll get it done.”

Almost there

Now only four hours away, the highway became my fast lane. No one could stop me. Not even my supposed “amigos”. Tupac’s Dear Mama blasted from the radio.

I knew what I had to do, even if it meant killing a person to save the life of my abuelo.

I turned the wheel towards the next road and waited patiently for the traffic light. As I did so, a homeless man knocked on my car window. “Hello,” He spoke hoarsely, “I need some money please. Please give me some money.” I looked at him. He was scrawny, unkempt, ugly, disgusting, and frankly, terrible. How could I give money to a guy who would probably waste it on something useless? The man proceeded to stare at me. I stared back. “No,” I offered. The traffic light turned green. I took off and didn’t look back.

From a distance, I saw the hospital. It was beautiful, glorious in fact. The architecture, the flowers, the windows, the whiteness, it was truly magnificent. A hospital is the heaven for those who have been through hell. I knew that because I’ve seen people go into a hospital feeling, looking, or acting like s***. Yet, when they came home from the hospital… they were brand new to some extent.

I parked my car and walked in.

I met with the doctor and accumulated the medicine. I looked up at the clock and saw that it was midnight. “I’ve gotta go Doc, but thanks for this.” The doctor nodded at me, and I smiled. I found myself thinking about the homeless man. Perhaps he will find a place like this hospital and make himself useful one day.

The Crooked Path

I’ve got to get there. I need to get there. I am seven hours away and my grandfather has approximately seven hours to live.

What would you do if you had seven hours to live?

See, I would burn my cash, my identity, and my life. I would reveal the Cartels and make them pay for all their homicides. No person in my life, besides my grandfather, would know anything about me. I would erase myself for good.

Just as I was thinking that, my cellphone rang. It rang loudly. Loud beeps. It caused me to brake hard in the middle of the road. I picked up. The person on the other end spoke. It was my grandfather.

“Mi nieto. Te quiero. Te quiero. Tú eres mi mundo. Tú eres mi mun---” (My grandson. I love you. I love you. You are my world. You are my wor--). The phone went silent.

I sat there, in the middle of the road, with seven hours to go. Replaying his words over and over in my head. Yet, I was too late. My grandfather was reported dead right as the phone went silent. I knew the nurses and doctors bustled in and out of my grandfather’s room. I cringed at the thought, and cried.

The Aftermath

Today I am in jail. I turned myself in because I knew that’s what my grandfather would have wanted. People ask me, all the time, why I turned myself in. I often wonder to myself if I had just let my grandfather die like all of those other people… would I be here today? The choice I made to save my grandfather’s life, changed my life permanently; and ever since then, I’ve been the unlikely Samaritan.

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