A Novel Excerptby Kevin A. González
If you were to ask my mother why I went, she’d hesitate and then give you something vague about how she can neither condone my actions nor condemn them, but that’s all she’d have to say, she doesn’t believe in discussing politics with strangers, and besides, she’d add, as long as I was back by the second week of August, when I was due in Boston for freshman orientation, I could be off in Antarctica all summer, clubbing baby seals, for all she really cared. And if you were to press her with a follow-up, she’d raise her arms and say, “Why coño you ask me for, you think he tells me anything? I can read his mind? You want to know so bad, why don’t you ask him?”
And if you’d done this, if you’d asked me at the time, I would’ve pointed out that not a single time in the history of humanity has an empire seized a colony and willingly given its people equal rights. I would’ve told you, as I told Bondy at La Pregunta the night before I embarked for Vieques, that there comes a time in a man’s life when he must rise and fight, and that after a century of American oppression this time arrived for me when, on April 19, 1999, during a military training exercise, a Hornet fighter jet dropped a five-hundred-pound tritonal bomb on David Sanes Rodríguez, a civilian guard manning an observation post on the outskirts of the range, a range that had been built on pillaged land, land whose inhabitants had been displaced and that, for over fifty years, had been poisoned by the US Navy with uranium and napalm and arsenic and lead.
Bondy smirked. “Right. So what’s her name?”
“What!” I said. “Vieques is her name! Borinquén is her name! La hija del mar y el sol, where I was born and raised!”
“Please.” He crossed his arms. “You really expect me to believe you’re not doing this for a girl?”
“Seriously, cabrón. How dare you?” I stood and walked away.