The Plutarco’s and their three glorious Saturdays

Fulano’s note: Fulano translated this from the original story in Spanish. The author is anonymous, but leaves this comment:

“This story was shared by the boy’s family caught in this endless war. The names and places were changed to protect their identity and for their security. Permission is granted to reproduce this.”

At 43 years of age, he was a man with balls. No one had seen him cry. He suffered, but did not cry. Not when his first girfriend left him back in childhood. Not when his parents died.

This day was different. He wept like a child. He pounded his fists on the wall of the funeral home until they bled when they handed him his son in his assassin’s coffin, two months and 14 days before his 18th birthday. He could only see his closed eyes, because a blue cap covered his face, or rather what was left of his face after two hollow-point bullets entered his head and out his mouth. He saw those eyes that once had a face, and cried.

His son is called, or was called — not knowing how it is said correctly — Plutarco. Like him, like his grandfather.

Plutarco finished elementary school with good grades. He only completed his first semester of middle school and never returned for the second. At 16, he got a girl his age pregnant and took her to live in the house of the Plutarcos, as it was known in their neighborhood, which was called colonia Gobernadores. His baby son was also named Plutarco.

Ever since taking his wife into the Plutarco home, he had to work: in a beer dispensary, in an Oxxo quickie mart, washing cars, sometimes as a day worker. He earned, on average, $50 per week. Sometimes he earned a little more. Enough to eat poorly. Not enough for diapers. Even less for beer.

Plutarco did not have many ways to improve his situation. It was not possible to return to school. Or work or study. He had to work. You will have to excuse the irony, but he had no politically connected relatives to get a state government job. Nor could he hope for a clerk’s job or a taxi permit like others.

Saturday, after work, a cousin invited him for a night of drinking. They ate seafood. His cousin offered Plutarco a job. $170 a week. A car. A cellphone. A pistol. Easy work. No violence. Go, see, report. That was the job.

“Don’t answer me now, tell me next Saturday,” said his cousin when he left him at home in his little 2002 Toyota, big stereo, music of Los Tigres playing, not loudly so as to not cause a problem, to not attract attention.

“You’re an idiot, they’ll kill you. What do you know about these things,” his wife told him on Sunday when they were watching an El Santo movie.

“If you take care nothing will happen,” he said Monday after talking with her about seeing a baby stroller at the store.

“Promise me you will not touch the gun,” she begged him on Tuesday after he said that in December they would be able to go on vacation with her sister to the Riviera Nayarit, where she once worked as a housekeeper in a small hotel owned by a town employee who in three years earned a respectable enough amount of capital to become a businessman.

“With your first paycheck, buy me a cellphone,” she said on Wednesday.

The next few days they did not speak about the new job, as if this silence was a solemn pact between the two.

That Saturday his cousin waited for him at 1 o’clock as he left work. He drove him to a street in colonia Amado Nervo. He gave him the keys to a 2006 white car, washed and freshly waxed, the smell of cinnamon and apples in the interior, a good stereo. A Nokia cell phone. And a gun.

“You don’t know me. They’ll call. They’ll tell you what to do. You go to where they tell you to go on the cellphone. Someone will pay you early on Saturday. $170, like we said. Don’t be stupid, only do what they ask,” said his the cousin and then left. Plutarco took the car and parked it outside his house.

The story he told to everyone was simple and believable. A crony in the government had given 10 Riviera Nayarit and Tepic taxi permits and and he would be a driver of one of those. The car he had was going to be painted for that purpose. He did not know if it would be painted red or yellow.

Hiding the gun was no problem. He always wore loose shirts that were not tucked in. He had no idea how to handle the gun, but it was a dizzying thrill to go into the bathroom and look at it, smell it, and point it as if there was an idiot in the sights.

He received no call or Saturday, Sunday or Monday. It was not until Tuesday at four in the morning. He ate an Emperador cookie, drank a Pepsi and left. He returned about 11 o’clock in the morning. He said nothing to his wife and she didn’t ask. From that day on, he came and went. Only he knew what he was doing, he said not one word to his wife.

On Saturday, he came home at 3 pm. “Let’s go eat,” he ordered his wife. They went out to eat. “We don’t have enough to buy the cellphone or the stroller,” he said and took her to buy diapers, cookies and sausage. He grabbed a bottle of Presidente to give to his grandfather as a gift. And beer for himself.

Three great Saturdays. To many it may seem a little thing, but Plutarco never could afford such luxuries. Nor his father. Nor his grandfather. There still was not enough for the cell phone for his wife, or for the baby’s stroller, but there was food, diapers and a few drinks. That, believe me, is a great Saturday for the vast majority in Nayarit.

The third $170 Saturday he took dad, grandfather, two brothers and the wife out to eat. They ate until they were stuffed full. Nobody suspected anything, and if they did they just acted ignorant. It was only his grandfather, who said that when the taxi was ready things would be better. “Because there are taxi drivers who aren’t worth crap and they do OK,” he said between joking and being serious after the third and next to last beer.

At 6 o’ clock in the afternoon they were in the house. Shortly after 7 o’ clock Plutarco received a call and left. He never returned.

They called his cell phone Sunday afternoon and he did not answer. On Monday, an acquaintance brought a newspaper to the Plutarco’s. He showed it to the wife without saying a word. “They destroyed his face,” read the headline. They went to the internet cafe to see pictures from the Internet. It was Plutarco’s white car. And the plaid shirt he had on when he left on Saturday.

They held a wake for Plutarco in his aunt’s house. His father’s sister, in a neighborhood in Xalisco. His family knew that the white car was not a taxi but nobody wanted to know more. They knew that he had been killed that way for obvious reasons. They were afraid that somebody would come and spray the wake with bullets, as had happened here and in other states, according to the television news.

They held a funeral and buried him under rock and mud. No one has come to the door. Not even the police, to investigate the cause of the death of this boy who for a frigging $510 and three glorious Saturdays lost his life behind the wheel of a white car that was not his nor would ever be a taxi here or the Riviera Nayarit.


Ten Years After September 11, 2001

From the mid-1970’s through the mid-1990’s, Fulano was with an international firm of public accountants based out of Los Angeles. Over the years, there were many, many staff accountants who worked for the firm, and directly for Fulano. One of those accountants was a sweet young lady named Nasima H. Simjee. She was in her mid-20’s back then and Fulano remembers she had beautiful dark eyes and a radiant smile. Nasima came from a large family, and had three older sisters and three younger brothers. She immigrated to the United States in 1982, when she was 19-years old.

Nasima left our firm in 1991 and moved back to New York to pursue her MBA degree at Columbia University, and earned it in 1993. After graduation she remained in New York, holding a series of jobs with the Bank of New York, Sanford Bernstein and, ultimately, Nasima was a vice president for global research with Fiduciary Trust Co. She was working at her office in World Trade Center Two on September 11, 2001, and perished. Nasima was 38.

Nasima Hameed Simjee

Nasima Hameed Simjee was a Muslim. 31 innocent Muslims died that day.

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