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Alan, Alien

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“I’m going to live in Mexico,” Alan announces, taking a long slurp of Coke.

“Me too!” says America.

“But you won’t have all the things that you have here,” Rafael argues. “Like all your friends and movies and video games.”

Alan looks at his father, thinking for a moment. “I don’t care. I have cousins in Mexico.”

“Me too!” says America.

After lunch, the three walk back home and settle down in their bedroom to watch home movies from Acatlán. One of Alan’s favorites was shot when he was little, a year before he left Mexico for the first time. There is Alan riding on a cousin’s back, as if he were riding a bull. There he is dancing until he becomes dizzy and falls on his behind.

“See, you used to like to dance,” Rafael says to his son. “The song is one of his grandfather’s favorites. It was always on in the house. But now he says that he doesn’t like to dance.”

Alan giggles, embarrassed. “I only like to dance to rap,” he explains to his dad. “Like . . . I like to dance to 50 Cents.” He picks up his older cousin Adriana’s DVD Get Rich or Die Tryin’. “This is a good movie,” he says.

“Oh, I don’t like that!” America yells. “It’s too scary. Yo tengo una película de Shrek,” she says, then switches back to English. “And I have Madagascar and Cinderella . . . ”

“Ecchh,” says Alan, picking up one of his toy wrestling figures.

Watching the videos makes Alan think about going back to Mexico for another visit. “Yeah, if I go back there, then I have to cross again.” He puts the toy down. “But I don’t wanna go back, because I’m scared of the river now. Actually, I probably won’t ever go back. I really don’t want to have to get chased again.”

On the television screen, a dark-skinned man wearing a straw hat and a white short-sleeved shirt passes by, carrying a basket full of bread. “That’s my grandpa,” Alan says. “When I was there, we planted a seed to make a tree. Maybe it’s a tree now?” he asks himself. Still watching the screen, he nods. “Yeah, it has to be a tree now. When I go back, I’m gonna make sure to see it.”

A few moments pass. “Oh, wait. Then I’d have to cross!”

He’s momentarily stumped. “Wait. I know! I’ll just go back and stay. No one would ever try to catch me then!”

On the cloudy and humid morning of April 1, Alan is wearing a navy-blue shirt that reads YO SOY 100% MEXICANO. He trails behind Margarita, Elizabeth, and America as they join the thousands of people preparing to march across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest a new immigration bill that would turn undocumented immigration into a felony. He and Daniel are practicing chants. “I know a good one!” shouts Alan. “George Bush is unfair, he can kiss my butt!” Daniel nods his approval. “If the new law passes, then every immigrant has to go back to their country, even me!” Alan explains to his friend.

A helicopter hovers above the crowd, and Elizabeth turns back toward her nephew. “Be careful!” she shouts. “Immigration is watching us!” Alan looks concerned for a moment but breaks into a smile when he sees Elizabeth laughing.

“April fools!” Daniel says. “They’re not gonna mess with you here. But it’s not fair, man. Even though I’m not an immigrant, it’s still not fair. My parents are immigrants. Over there, it’s a lot of poorness, and the houses aren’t nice. People should be able to come.”

“My house in Mexico is real nice,” Alan responds.

“Well, but some people don’t have nice houses. That’s what I’m saying.”

A TV camera trains in on the boys, who raise their fists and begin another chant. “Queremos justicia! We want justice!” Once they pass the cameras, Daniel and Alan quiet down, pleased by the attention.

“We’re going to be famous!” Alan says.

“Do you know what channel they were from?” Daniel asks.

“No. Are you watching Wrestlemania tomorrow?”

“I can’t, ’cause I don’t have pay-per-view.”

“Me neither.” Alan looks down through the cracks in the bridge pathway. “Whoa! We’re really, really high up right now!”

“How are we gonna watch Wrestle- Mania?”

“I don’t know,” Alan says. “But we have to see it. Rey Mysterio is fighting.”


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