A Typical Californio Boy (Chapter 5)
by Manuel Hernández
Joey and Alma planned to elope. Alma’s father would never
the relationship, and they loved each other too much to break
had met secretly in parks and shopping centers, but they wanted
live together, have children, be happy, and it was impossible
to continue seeing each other like this. Alma’s father, Mario
the Italian entrepreneur, was well known in Manhattan, and
to be recognized by one of his friends or associates. Mr.
broken the news to Alma about her up and coming wedding to
the son of
the wealthy Louie Righetti, and she was devastated. He had
Righetti that she would marry his son, Louie Jr., the sole
heir of the
Righetti financial empire, but Alma kept quiet because her
allowed his family to have a word or say in his decisions.
Joey convinced his soul mate that California was the right
for them to begin a new life. He had become an excellent cigar
and was trained and prepared to begin his own tobacco trade
The trade of his half-brothers from The Island had found a
space in his
heart. When his compatriots observed his determination to
trade, they reminded him of his Puerto Rican roots. It was
in his blood,
they said. Joey laughed, but this time was thoughtful about
It didn’t make sense to him. Joey’s Puerto Rico was all in
telegrams, newspapers and stories about a great-uncle and
a farm in a
nightmarish mountain that his father never forgot. It was
island to him. The more his co-workers spoke about The Island,
interest he gained in experiencing it. California was his
the land of his upbringing. He had left friends and relatives
but he felt like there was a piece of him that was still missing.
Maria knew about her son’s relationship and wrote a letter
father, Don Pablo. She had grown tired and weary of her marriage
Manolo and saw her son’s dilemma as an opportunity for both
Manolo had begun visiting local pubs and was too interested
vecina”. Maria knew he was cheating and sleeping around again.
Don Pablo’s reply came three weeks later. He never liked Manolo
loved his daughter, but he did not want any daughter of his
husband, but he was willing to help Joey escape from New York.
read the letter with tears in her eyes. There was no escape
Joey received the news with mixed emotions. Deep down inside
he knew how much his mother had suffered, and he wanted to
California but didn’t want to leave his mother in New York.
uncertain about his future. He had witnessed the daily shouting
verbal abuses of his father, and he stayed quiet out of respect
his father, but he also felt that Manolo had gone too far.
Alma was emotionally on the edge. She was formally committed
to marry a
man she did not love. She was torn between the respect she
had for her
father and the love she pledged for Joey. It was too much
to handle. The
wedding was in six months, and Louie Jr. already wanted more
hugs and kisses. Manolo did not like the idea of having another
fondling his Italian beauty queen. Alma’s emotional storm
had turned her
into an extraordinary gorgeous woman. Manolo had to decide
started exploring the possibility of moving to “La Isla”.
It was during the current course of events in his life that
Manny. Joey was taking a course in English Literature during
evenings. His love for literature had developed immeasurably,
wanted to read more about Shakespspeare, Milton and Shaw.
But Manny was
a non-traditional teacher who transformed literature into
a reality that
went beyond ordinary situations. His students loved him, but
disliked his freestyle way of teaching the classics. Manny
felt he was
ahead of his time, but Joey had observed an inner peace in
that he had not seen or experienced elsewhere. At this point
life, he needed advice from someone who lived what he needed