A small figure in orange chaps slowly ambled up the slope of the dune and spotted the four legs of a dead horse pointing upward from underneath the sand. He sighed a long heartfelt sigh and sat down near the legs. He had had a long and exhausting day trying to cross the border and had met with defeat at every turn.
Like so many others, Mateo Sanchez was trying to get across the border. Since he had no documentation, it was necessary that he broach the perimeter surreptitiously. He attributed his failure to his nature which was anything but surreptitious. In fact, Sanchez was one of the most blatant people there was. It wasn’t his fault that he was that way. But whether it was his fault or not, it resulted in him having difficulty getting across the border.
Sanchez had been trying to get across the border for five days now. Every time he got near the perimeter, someone dressed in black would ask him for his identification. The problem was that the only identification that Sanchez had was written for him by a New Age astrologer who only used Esperanto. The men dressed in black did not seem to know Esperanto. So Sanchez had to find some other way to get across the border.
Sanchez had about decided to give up. The opportunities waiting for him might not be worth all the effort he would need to expend to get there. But then he looked around him at the great vastness of sand leading to the mountains far in the distance. He saw the four legs reaching for the sky and they reminded him of the camel he had at home who needed his rations. And the only way the camel could get the rations was for Sanchez to give them to it. And the only way Sanchez could get rations to give to the camel was to get across the border to take advantage of the opportunity.
Sanchez tried to think of new ways to get across the border. He mulled over the possibility of swimming, but swimming in the sand was very difficult. He didn’t think he would get the same kind of push by stoking his arms and hands that he would if swimming in water. And, of course, it would be a real challenge to swim under the sand if he had to avoid the watchful eyes of the men dressed in black. Sanchez put the option of swimming across the border on the back burner. He might try it eventually if he could not work out something better.
Sanchez was very frustrated in trying to get back into his own native country. He had picked cotton and cabbages. At this time of year, he was a pepper picker, and now was the time when the Jalapenos were ripe and ready to be harvested. His camel loved Jalapenos. But he needed to go home to pick them. And because of official rules, he couldn’t.
Sanchez looked around him for inspiration. He saw the four legs, now pretty well bones after having been dead for some days, point toward the sky. He wondered if the legs pointing to the sky might be a message for him. Perhaps he could make something out of them. Could they be used to make a boat, for example? He looked at the shirt he was wearing to see if it might serve as the skin of a canoe, and then realized that it was not waterproof.
Sanchez hung his head in defeat and stretched out in the sand. He fell asleep under the stars which were now just beginning to twinkle into being in the darkening sky. All night long he dreamed of men dressed in black trying to hunt him down. And Jalapeno peppers, of course. And several times he was on the verge of awakening when a dream of a cotton ball or a cabbage interrupted his nocturnal imagery. But he somehow made it through the night.
He finally woke when the first vestiges of dawn began to tentatively peak above the horizon to see if it would be welcome. Sanchez rubbed the sand out of his eyes and took stock of where he was and began wondering again how he would get back across the border. He recalled his idea of swimming and then recalled that he had temporarily dismissed that idea. Similarly the idea of making a boat from the leg bones and his clothing. But then new inspiration hit him.
Perhaps he could fly across the border. He had neither the materials nor skills to make an airplane, but there was the possibility of making a kite big enough to lift him over the border patrol. He went over to the great dead horse Caspar and looked at the bony legs again. They were clearly not strong enough to build a kite big and strong enough to lift him. Similarly, his shirt would not be sufficiently taut to catch the wind just right.
But Sanchez thought he knew where he could get the materials he needed. And he had the necessary skills to make the kite once he had the proper materials. If the kite idea worked, he wouldn’t have to try swimming in the sand. In contrast to the desperation of yesterday, Sanchez was quite elated. He now would have a plan of action. He would be doing something, even if the plan didn’t succeed. He was no longer helpless.
Sanchez went over to where the four legs reached to the sky and muttered under his breath a “Thank you” to the great dead horse for its support of his mission. He patted the sand where he thought the horse’s belly should be underneath. While filled with a new sense of purpose, Sanchez would still be somewhat saddened by leaving his good friend.
Sanchez gathered up his few belongings and stuffed them into his knapsack. He saw a flash of light on the horizon as he started the long trudge toward the town of Jackknife.
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