Friday, August 24, 2018

Mennonites and Vampires

Continued from While in Mexico

I quickly sat up and listened carefully, thinking that I could be wrong. But I heard right. It was Aaron Newdorf. He was drinking, socializing and appeared to be having a great time. That bothered me a lot, especially because as long as I’d be hearing him, I wouldn't have any peace. I thought, “How can I stop being afraid of him?” and talked myself out of freaking out. But that was hard work.

I continued stargazing with my little sister. Every time I heard footsteps near us, I panicked. I finished my drink and kept an eye on Izaak, and I thought, “I can really use another drink, and the minute he goes to mix himself one, I’m going to get myself another one too.”

When Izaak finally went back to his car, I told Maria that I would be right back, and snuck my way to Izaak’s car. “Hey, can I have another one of those?” I asked.

“Hey! Yeah, sure. Ahhh what’s going on? You look worried.”

“I am, but the drink will help.”

I wasn’t sure if I should tell Izaak about Aaron, because they had been friends for a long time. So I just talked about the car he left me in Canada.

“Thanks for letting me use your car. It has helped me out a lot.”

“I’m glad, and you're welcome.”

“But I can’t tell you what shape it will be in when you need it back. My brothers would be disappointed in me if they knew that I have never even opened the hood of your car, or even had an oil change or anything.”

“Its, okay, Anna. I don’t care if you drive that car into the ground. I am making pretty good money working in Texas; I will just buy another one if I ever come back to Canada.”


“But yeah, you should go and have an oil change done on it soon.”

“Sounds good. I will do that.”

“Okay, enough about my old car. Why do you look so stressed?”

“I have had a long day and I really just want to go inside and go to bed, but I can't until my parents’ company leaves.”

“Okay, is that all? Because I think there’s more to it, and you know that you can tell me, whatever it is.”

“Ahhh, well, actually you're right. There is a lot more to it.”

“Tell me. What is it?”

“It’s more like who, and it’s Aaron Newdorf. What is he doing here anyway?”

“I knew it! He just showed up. He thinks we are friends just because we go way back and he's got no other friends left.”

“But I thought he had a girlfriend in Potes.”

“He did, but I think she was a smart one and realized what an asshole Aaron actually is and dumped him.”

“Oh shit! Good for her. Bad for me.”

“I don’t know how he manages to make enemies wherever he goes.”

“I do,” I replied.

“I kinda feel sorry for him. Most men our age are married by now. It doesn’t leave him with a lot of friends to hang out with here in the colony. Especially when the holidays are over, and most of us leave.”

“Yeah, that’s true, and it sounds painfully familiar.”

“Doesn’t it?”

“Are you still planning on going back to Texas with Uncle Jake and me?” I asked.

“Yes, and I can't wait. I’ve had a great time, but I’m ready to get out of here.”

“Okay, great. I’m glad you're coming,” I replied.

“Me too. It'll be fun. I can't wait to take you out and show you around Texas.”

“I wish we could leave now,” I said.

“Soon enough, Anna,” Izaak said, and laughed as he handed me the drink.

“I wonder why Aaron doesn’t go to the states or Canada,” I asked.

“Actually, Anna, he can’t cross the border.”


“I don’t know if everything I have heard is true, but I might as well tell you what I do know for sure. Aaron has gotten into a lot of trouble lately, mostly because of the people that he has gotten involved with. I didn't know if you know, but there are these groups of people.”

“You mean the narcos?” I interrupted.


“Okay so when he told me that I was surrounded by a bunch of narcos at El Guero’s party, he was right?”


“I thought he was just trying to scare me. I also thought that narcos weren't real. I thought that they were only in movies and telenovelas.”

“Oh no, Anna, they are real.”

My heart began to skip beats as our conversation continued and everything began to make sense.

“Okay, so is Aaron involved with El Guero’s people?”

“No, it’s a different group. The way I understand is that this group and El Guero’s group are enemies.”


“The only reason El Guero’s men let Aaron through the gates of El Guero’s ranch last night was because he is also one of us.”

“One of us as a Dietsch?”

“Yeah, that and I think El Guero likes to keep an eye on Aaron in case he gives out any hints on the whereabouts of  El Guero’s enemies.”

“Oh shit!”


“It sounds like a movie.”

“Yeah, but unfortunately for Aaron, it has become very real. I have a feeling that he is going to get himself in so deep that one day he won't be able to bullshit his way out.”

“I should have been talking to you a long time ago.”

“Well, I’m glad you did tonight. When I saw you at El Guero’s party, I wanted to talk to you about this, but I didn’t want you to think that I was telling you what to do or who to be friends with. You have enough people doing that already.”

“Yeah, and thank you!”

“You’re welcome.”

“What about El Guero?”

“What about him?”

“Ahhh, do you know him well?”



“I know that he likes you, he likes you a lot, and that he would never purposely hurt you. I’m no one to tell you what to do, but given the business he’s in, being around him does put you at risk every time. I don’t know all the details, but there is a lot of bad blood between the people that Aaron is involved with and El Guero.”

As I listened to Izaak, things began to make a lot more sense. I began to feel a cold shiver going up my spine, and I thought I was better off not knowing what Izaak had just shared with me.

“So that’s why El Guero has that many men with guns around him all the time, in case those guys show up?” I asked.

“Something like that,” and our conversation got interrupted by Maria calling me to come back to the blanket.

“Okay, I gotta go. Thanks, Izaak, I’ll talk to you later.”

“Sure, anytime.”

I went back to join Maria on the blanket until my parents’ company left and mom called Maria and my younger brother in.

After Maria left, I sat there alone and sipped away at my drink. I took a deep breath and lay down and exhaled with a sigh, gazing up at the sparkling, star-filled silver night sky. I felt the tequila massaging its way through my body as I became one with my vampiro.

I briefly closed my eyes, and thought I was having a nightmare when I heard Aaron’s voice say, “I hope you are thinking about me.”

“I jumped to a seated position and said, “NO!”

Aaron sat down beside me anyway, “I really need to talk to you. This might be my last chance.”

“Do you even know what the word NO means? I think you have YES and NO mixed up!!! No means, don’t sit down.”

“I’m sorry, Anna.”

“Go away. I don’t want to talk to you!”

When I heard him say “I’m sorry” for the second time, I said, “WHAT?” as I jumped up to a standing position.

Aaron stood up. “I’m sorry. I have no excuses. I am an asshole,” he said. He got down on his knees in front of me, placed his hands on my shoes and kept saying, “I’m sorry.”

“REALLY?” I asked, as I backed away and hoped that no one was looking in our direction.

“YES, Anna. I’m sorry, I’m sorry for everything!”

“Okay, okay, just get up!” I said, and sat back down on the blanket.

Aaron sat down facing me, covered his face with his hands, and said, “Look, Anna, I don’t expect you to forgive me just like that, but I just want you to know that I really am sorry for the way I have treated you. I realize that now, and I see how the people you are drawn to treat you.”

“Okay,” I answered.

I was in disbelief. I didn’t know if I believed that he was for real or if he was trying to manipulate me.

“I don’t even know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything. I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I just wanted you to know that I am truly sorry.”

After sitting there for a moment and processing it all, I began to believe that he was being sincere. I thought, “Maybe if I accept his apology I can finally put that stupid mason jar to rest. It's too big and bulky for any purse.”

Looking at him sitting there like that, I began to feel sorry for him. I didn’t want to, but I talked myself into accepting his apology.

I looked at him again and thought, “Look at this oma schetat. He seems dead inside. Say something, Anna!”

Looking at him and remembering all the horror he put me through, my whole body shivered with disgust.

“Maybe you should hit me!” he said.

“Oh, believe me, I want too!”

“Anna, I don't want to leave here tonight until I have convinced you that I really am sorry. I wish that I could go back in time and start over, but I can’t.”

Dietschjat I hate you!”

“I know, and that’s what’s killing me.”

“But I don’t want to hate you anymore.”

“Okay, then let me show you how sorry I am and let me give you a hug.”

“Are you serious?”


“Wow, you have some nerve!”

“I will leave right after. I promise.”

My heart was pounding. I really wanted to hit him, but in spite of my shaking body and feeling like throwing up, I got up and accepted his request. He got up and looked at me for a moment before putting his arms around me, barely touching me at first. I stood there like an ice sculpture. When he pulled me closer, hugging me tight, I noticed that he was crying.

“Thank you,” he said, and dropped his head down as he walked away.

He left me standing there speechless and shaking, as I watched him walk away into the darkness, off of Uncle Jake’s property, wondering what the heck had just happened. And why the sudden change in Aaron’s behavior. The whole experience left me with an unfamiliar and odd feeling.

I snuck my way past the crowd of men still standing around the bonfire and walked across the property to my parents’ house. It was quiet in the house.  I assumed that everyone was sleeping.

I tippy-toed inside, took my mason jar and snuck back outside. I walked to the back of the property to my dad’s pile of old tractor parts and smashed the mason jar against a rusty old rim.

On my way back to the house I thought, “I’m going to have to clean that up tomorrow before dad sees the shattered glass.”

I lay down in my bed, focusing on the smell and the twinkling flame of the burning kerosene oil lamp.  As my day faded away, I wondered if I could really put Aaron Neudorf behind me for good. Click here to continue reading my story.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

While in Mexico

Continued from Torn Mennonite

After a moment of awkward silence, El Guero asked, “Do you like tacos?”

“Yes, I love tacos.”

Excelente!” he said as he pulled over and continued, “How about we send Valentin, to get us some tacos and then go to La Magdalena to eat them? We don’t have to drive far. It’s just behind Patos here. Have you ever been to La Magdalena?

“Okay, yeah, I have been there before. It’s a beautiful place.”

“Great!” he said as he turned to Valentin and spoke to him in Spanish.

I couldn’t understand much of the conversation; they spoke so fast I didn’t have a chance to process it. Valentin got out of the pickup and walked across the road to a taco stand. While Valentin was ordering tacos, El Guero seemed uneasy and constantly kept an eye on our surroundings.

He acted exactly like I felt on the inside, extremely worried that someone from the colony might see me sitting in El Guero’s pickup.

I felt the relief that washed away El Guero’s apprehension when Valentin climbed back into the pickup with the tacos. As soon as Valentin closed the door, El Guero stepped on the gas, leaving Patos behind in a cloud of dust.

A couple of minutes later we were parked at the dried-up river at La Magdalena. Valentin got out first, and looked around before opening the door for me. He walked to the back of the pickup, where he briefly spoke to El Guero before opening the tailgate of the pickup. He grabbed a couple of beers from a cooler and handed them to El Guero.

We left Valentin behind at the pickup and walked past an abandoned house that was ruined by Mexico’s harsh weather. I followed El Guero to a tree in the middle of the dried-up river that had big rocks under it. El Guero turned to me and asked, “How about this table?” while he pointed to a smooth rock with a flat surface.

“I want that table. It's perfect,” I replied.

He placed the bag of food and the beers in the center of the rock.  “Have a seat,” he said, as he sat down cross-legged on the rock facing me. I climbed on the rock and struggled to get in a comfortable position in my pleated dress.

He sat and patiently waited until I had positioned myself, covered my legs and stopped squirming. He looked at me, smiled, and asked, “Listo? (Ready?)”

“I think so.”

El Guero opened a beer and handed it to me, and then opened one for himself. He held up his beer and said, “Salud… a una comida sin interrupciones con la Guerita más valiente y hermosa que jamás haya conocido. (To an undisturbed meal with the bravest, most beautiful Guerita I have ever met.)”

“Okay,” I replied as he tapped my beer, making a clinking sound that echoed through the dried-up riverbed. We both took a sip of beer. I just watched him as he put down his beer, took the food out of the plastic bag and unwrapped the tinfoil from the square foam plate holding the tacos. He handed me the first plate he unwrapped.

“Thank you,” I said and took the opportunity to quickly sneak in my mealtime prayer quietly in my head while he unwrapped his plate, placed all the little containers of salsa in front of me and placed a plastic spoon into each of them. By the time he placed the napkins down, I had repeated my prayer seven times. I figured it couldn’t hurt, because I had a feeling that any joy I was experiencing was going to come back and haunt me later. When I looked over at Valentin and saw him standing there so wide legged, with a pistol hanging down from his belt, I thought, “Maybe I should have said a few more prayers.”

“Is he waiting for someone?” I asked El Guero.

“No, not really, he's just watching over us.”

“Okay, but why?”

“Well, some people aren't happy that I am here in Patos. Just try to ignore him.”


“I will tell you more about that another time. Remember when you told me how you wish that you could disappear and then come back as Isabell Lopez?”


“Well, this is kind of the same: today I want to forget who I have become, what I do, and just be an average dude who’s lucky enough to be able to enjoy a meal with a beautiful menona.

I just smiled and stared at him as he began eating, admiring his neat and clean eating technique. I didn’t hear a single schlirps or schmaks coming from El Guero, while I was very self-conscious about eating in front of him. The harder I tried to eat a taco and keep it from getting sloppy and all over my dress, the messier it got.

Finally, I just gave up and enjoyed the tacos. After I had used up all my napkins, El Guero smiled and kept handing me the ones he didn’t need.

El Guero’s masculinity became overwhelmingly attractive. I was happy to be a woman in his presence; I forgot all about wishing that I was a man earlier that day.

While El Guero gathered our garbage, I drank the last sip of my beer. I turned around to face the mountains and repositioned myself. El Guero jumped off the rock, tied up the bag of garbage, put it aside and sat down right beside me. My heart began pounding out of my chest. After processing the fact that he was just sitting beside me, I leaned my head on his shoulder and said, “Thank you for the tacos; they were so good.”

“You're welcome!” he replied, putting his arm around me and gently rubbing it up and down.

And just like that, my anxiety returned. I instantly froze. I didn’t dare move or turn my head to look at him. I put all my energy into not acting like an ice sculpture as we sat there in silence, watching the few clouds in the sky change from white to pink and then to orange as the sun slid behind the mountains of Nuevo Ideal.

It was anything but silent in my head as my thoughts repeated, “Don’t freak out! I shouldn’t be here, just breathe, dietschjat he smells good! Just be here, look at those clouds! Breathe, Anna! Breathe!” The whole time, we were sitting on that rock.

When I gave up on shutting down my thoughts, I said, “I should get going. My parents should be home by now, and my uncle probably needs his truck back. And I was supposed to bring him a six-pack. What time does the beer store close?”

El Guero took a deep breath that sounded like a disappointing sigh when he exhaled. I knew it was because, by letting those stupid words out of my mouth,  I had ruined a perfect moment that we would never get back.

On top of all the anxiety I carried around about being alone with a man from my past experiences, I had taken on some of the anxiety that people had around the beer store's hours of operation in Canada.

“Oh Anna, the beer store doesn't close, especially not when I am the customer,” he replied and turned to face me. He placed his hands on either side of my face, rubbing my cheeks with his thumbs and said, “Anna, I recognize that you must be experiencing this very differently than I am. So thank you for this.”

I just took a deep breath, and this time kept my thoughts to myself, allowing the sound of his voice to linger in the air as long as possible.

When thing got quiet again, I thought, “My expectations are always bad, and I always let them ruin things.”

“Alright Anna, let's get you home,” he said as he gently squeezed me against him before jumping off the rock. He stepped back and held out his hand for me to hold onto, helping me jump off the rock. He picked up our beer bottles, tossed them into the garbage bag, and walked me back to his pickup. Valentin was still standing as he had been when we left him there. As El Guero tossed the bag of garbage onto the back of the pickup, Valentin opened the door for me, and off we went, back to Patos.

El Guero drove around the back of Nuevo Ideal to the beer store where I had parked Uncle Jake’s pickup. The men were still standing around the pickup, just as they did when we left. They all backed away, giving us space to park and get out. One of the men came to my side to open the door for me, while another opened the door for El Guero.

El Guero spoke briefly to the man who had opened the door for him, and that’s when the look on his face changed. It looked like he had just received bad news that he wasn’t prepared for. El Guero quickly raised his arm, snapped his fingers, pointed to the back of the pickup, and shouted something in Spanish. He walked me around to Uncle Jake’s truck, and by the time he closed the door for me, one of the men had brought a six-pack of Tecate for me to bring to Uncle Jake.
“You should go now, before it gets too dark. Drive safe, and I hope to see you again before you go back to Canada.”

“Okay, thanks,” I replied, as I backed out and drove off, back to the colony.

It all happened so fast. While driving back to the colony, I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on. It seemed as though El Guero and all the men were eager to get me out of there as quickly as possible. But I was more nervous about facing my family than about any reasons I could think of why El Guero and his men couldn’t get me out of Nuevo Ideal fast enough. But when I pulled up to Uncle Jake’s property, all was well in the colony. My parents had company, my little brothers were chasing the last few chickens into the coop with their friends, Uncle Jake had made a bonfire and was barbequing steaks. I was relieved to see my brothers and my cousin Izaak standing in the crowd of men around the fire. I didn’t see Uncle Jake’s Mexa megal friend anywhere in the crowd.

I walked up to Uncle Jake and handed him his keys and the six-pack.

“Thank you, Anna.”

“You’re welcome, and thanks for letting me borrow your truck.”

Dot es gonz got. (It’s all good.)”

I went and joined Izaak and my brothers by the bonfire. They were all drinking, and having a great time. When Izaak saw me, his face lit up; he opened his arms and received me with a warm and welcoming hug.

“How are you? I haven't seen you much.”

“I’m okay. Trying to make the best out of this trip and enjoy myself as much as I can, which isn’t easy, you know.”

“Aw, it’s pretty easy for me. I am having the best time.”

“Yeah, I’m so jealous of you. It's so much easier for you because you are a man.”

“I know, prima, that’s true,” he replied, while giving me a sympathetic hug and walked me to his car. He mixed me a strong vampiro. Izaak had decided that I needed a strong drink and just handed it to me.

My sister Maria interrupted our conversation to invite me to come and join her on the blanket that she had carefully placed on the ground near the bonfire. I took my drink and followed her. I lay down beside her, exhaled a sigh of relief, looked up at the sparkling, star-filled night sky and thought, “Wow, incredible!”

Everyone was busy visiting. During a quiet moment, I heard a haunting and familiar laugh echoing through the crowd. And just like that, all my anxiety returned, times a thousand. I thought, “NOOOOO! This would have been the perfect ending to this New Year’s day, but NO, not in your stupid life, Anna!” Click here to continue reading my story.

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