La Ciudad de los Sueños Rotos

La Ciudad de los Sueños Rotos

A Story by ovisaries4894
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A short story about a day in the life of a young man in a stereotypical African third world country.

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            Santiago Pérez pedaled his rickshaw down the crowded street, as vendors sitting on curbs, squatting near plastic tarps, and standing behind pushcarts loudly proclaimed the quality and low price of a multitude of products ranging from carp in small tubs to pastel-hued plastic stools. His tall, wiry frame forced him to curl up to fit his legs between his seat and the pedals. The midday sun beat down upon him, causing sweat to run down his forehead in rivulets, soak his black t-shirt and tattered beige trousers, and pool at the bottom of his battered athletic shoes. As he pedaled, he wished again that he had not lost his hat. It was one of the few things he had brought with him from his village, and now it was lost, stolen while he slept on the long distance bus which had carried him to the city in exchange for half a year’s savings.

            Santiago turned as he approached an intersection, swerved to avoid a dented van driving in the wrong direction, stopped in the middle of the intersection as a crowd of pedestrians blocked his way, and honked his horn in an attempt to get them to disperse. The sound of the horn startled his passenger, a man with slightly lighter skin than Santiago dressed in a formal blue shirt and black pants. The man raised his head to figure out what was happening, then slouched again and resumed his furtive scanning of his surroundings. Finally, the pedestrians passed, and Santiago resumed his trip.

            After a few more minutes of weaving through traffic, Santiago pulled up at a curb outside of a concrete office building, and was about to let his passenger out of the small cart at the rear of the rickshaw when a policeman who had been harassing a street vendor sauntered over to him. The man was sturdily built but not tall, wore a pair of patched-up jeans, a blue shirt, black boots, and a baseball cap, and could be identified as a policeman due to the presence of a piece of cardboard containing some words Santiago could not read and a star pinned to his shirt. His eyes were of the same dark brown hue as Santiago’s, but were located closer together. He was better armed than most police, and had several weapons including a submachine gun slung across his chest, a pistol in a hip holster, a collapsible baton in his right hand, and a tube of pepper spray in his belt.

            “You have a license?” inquired the policeman,

             “No, sir,” replied Santiago. He reached for the pouch in which he kept what little he earned, hoping that he still had enough money left in it despite knowing that he had given most of it to another policeman just a few days ago. No money had miraculously appeared within the pouch, however, and Santiago found only the hundred and fifty pesos he had possessed previously.

            “Well, pay up now!” shouted the cop. “I haven’t got all day! Or have you blown all your money on booze and w****s?”

            “Well, sir,” stammered Santiago. He tried to breathe deeply without appearing to do so, and to look into the cop’s eyes without staring. “My brother’s got the virus and he needs medicine and you know that costs a lot and I just sent him my savings so he could get some. Mr. Policeman, I know you are very a generous and compassionate person, would a hundred and fifty be fine?”

            “No way! I don’t believe that story for a second! You stupid Inlanders would say anything to get out of trouble,” said the cop, tapping his baton against his left hand gently, but not gently enough for Santiago to not notice. “And even if I did,” continued the cop, “That boy deserved what he got, for breeding more of your foul kind. All you Inlander worms ever do is eat, whine for others who are actually doing something useful to feed you, and pop out babies to eat more of our stuff. I’ll be doing our nation a favor by letting that worm get what’s been coming to him! Give me five hundred, right now!”

            Santiago considered for a split second pointing out the hypocrisy of the policeman’s statement, but did not. He never did. It would achieve nothing. Instead, he tried to placate the policeman: “Please, sir, I’ll give you a hundred and fifty now, and send you six hundred more in a week, I promise. I swear on the cross.”

            “You filthy heathen Inlanders don’t even believe in the Bible!” said the policeman. “All right, you all say you do, but I know you all worship the devil in those rituals and ceremonies of yours! And if I let you go now, I’d bet a million pesos that I’d never see a cent of your money. If you really haven’t got money, give me your shoes. I bet they could sell quite well.”

            “But I need my shoes!” protested Santiago. “How will I pedal my rickshaw without them? What will I eat?”

            “That’s not my problem,” said the policeman. “Besides, I see plenty of rickshaw drivers without shoes. You Inlander worms are so lazy and weak that you can’t even pedal a rickshaw without shoes! All you want is to lie on your back and nap while hard working folks break their backs feeding you.”

            “Please, sir"” said Santiago, but the policeman interrupted him.

            “Shut your ungrateful Inlander mouth!” said the policeman, brandishing his baton. “Give me what I want now, or I’ll take you to the station, and you can explain to them why you’re operating an illegal rickshaw. And I’ll bet that you’re either living in some shack without a city residency license or sleeping on the streets and breaking the vagrancy laws. We’ll lock you in a cage to stew in your own filth, and the filth of the worm in the cage above you. Or maybe we’ll sell you to the mines, or some plantation. They’ll pay us well, and they’ll teach you how to do some work and not be such a lazy, useless worm! Or maybe I’ll just beat your head in right now, as a lesson to all the other useless, waste-of-oxygen worms!”

            Santiago glanced around to his left and right, seeing dozens of pedestrians walking briskly around him and trying desperately to not notice the confrontation. He contemplated running, as the policeman probably wouldn’t attempt to shoot in a crowded street, but the policeman would probably be able to knock over the rickshaw and pummel him into submission if he attempted to get off. As he looked around, the passenger seized his opportunity, dove to the right out of the covered cart, and dashed into the building. “Oh well,” he thought. “It wasn’t as if I would have been able to keep his fare anyways.”

            He held his meagre savings up to the cop, hoping that the man would somehow miraculously develop a sense of empathy, but the policeman instead drew back his baton. Santiago tried to get his left foot over his seat as the policeman lunged forwards, swinging his baton upwards while extending it to its full length, and just managed to get off the bicycle when the policeman slammed the weighted end of the baton onto his head, eliciting a scream from Santiago. The policeman kicked the rickshaw over just as Santiago started to run, knocking him and a pair of pedestrians over. When Santiago tried to rise, he felt a sudden pain in the side of his right thigh, just above the knee, and his leg buckled beneath him and refused to support his weight. His head swimming, Santiago made an attempt to kneel, but the policeman jumped over the fallen rickshaw and tackled Santiago into the wall of the concrete building.

            The policeman said something, then laughed, as Santiago tried to rise yet again. The world spun around him, and there was a metallic taste in his mouth. The policeman let Santiago rise partway on shaky legs, then began beating him, alternating overhand strikes with his baton and powerful blows with his left hand. When Santiago slid to the ground yet again, the policeman began kicking him. Santiago curled up as best he could, trying to protect his head and abdomen, as the policeman continued his onslaught.

            “You aren’t such a whiny, obsequious liar now, you stupid son of a b***h!” shouted the policeman as he kicked. “You stupid, ungrateful Inlanders need to know your place!” He kicked again, and Santiago felt a cracking sensation on the left side of his chest. He screamed. The policeman laughed, and Santiago dully wondered what the word “obsequious” meant, and where the man had learned it.

            After what felt like an eternity to Santiago, the policeman ceased kicking him. The policeman bent down by Santiago, and brought the end of his baton down on Santiago’s right hand, which had been clamped tightly around the money during the whole confrontation. Santiago let go, sobbing, as the policeman snatched the money and shoved it into his pocket. The policeman then walked behind Santiago, who felt a tugging sensation on his feet as the policeman relieved him of his footwear. Next, the policeman walked over to the rickshaw, and began destroying it. He yanked the chain out and shoved it in his pocket. He then pulled a knife from a sheath on his belt and slashed the tires and the plastic covering of the cart where passengers sat. Finally, he grabbed a brick from a pile lying by the building, and smashed the rickshaw’s frame with a few blows.

            “There,” said the policeman, bending down to look in Santiago’s face. “Now you won’t be able to laze around, cycling passengers around for easy money. Now, you’ll have to work like the rest of us, you filthy worm. And to make sure that you learned your lesson good and proper, I have a little gift for you!” He took the can of pepper spray from his belt and sprayed it into Santiago’s face for a full twenty seconds. Santiago screamed. The policeman laughed, and turned to walk away down the sidewalk.

            Every part of Santiago’s body ached. His eyes burned and watered. His nose was full of mucus, forcing him to breathe through his mouth. At that moment, he decided that he would not let the policeman get away with what he had done. He would make the man pay, even if he died in the process.

            Though his body demanded that he rest and allow it time to recover and though the world seemed to tilt around him, Santiago pushed himself to his feet with both arms, and staggered after the policeman. The man heard Santiago’s struggles, and began turning to meet him, when Santiago swung his right fist as hard as he could at the policeman’s torso.

            The blow connected. Without effect. The exertion took the last of Santiago’s strength, and he collapsed onto the policeman, who shoved him to the ground in disgust.

            “You dare to attack me? A policeman?” asked the policeman. “You sure are a pathetic, thick-skulled little worm. I would kill you right now, if it weren’t for the fact that bullets cost money, and you are a worthless worm. You’re life isn’t worth thirty pesos. Hopefully, this will help the lesson sink in.” He drew his foot back and stomped it onto Santiago’s face. Santiago felt a tremendous pain as the man’s boot connected with his mouth, which filled with blood. The policeman turned and strode away.

            Santiago tried to stand, but collapsed. Pedestrians walked by him in both directions, averting their eyes and giving him a wide berth. He knew that he had to move or he would risk being run over by one of the many cars attempting to drive on the sidewalk, so despite his pain, he tried to push himself up on unsteady limbs and crawl to the wall of the building his passenger had run into. It seemed like something that had happened years ago, now. He did not even manage to cross the perhaps twenty centimeters separating him from safety before losing his balance once again. He reached out, and managed to slowly and painfully drag himself over to the wall with his arms and lay awkwardly against it, despite sharp spikes of pain in his chest.

            What’s the point of this?” wondered Santiago, as he put his hand to his mouth. His fingers came back covered in blood, and he felt only a hole where his front teeth had been. He had hoped to make a new life for himself in the city, perhaps send some money back so his little brother could have the chance to obtain an education, but now, everything he had saved up was lost. The rickshaw he had saved his wages from performing odd jobs for was now destroyed, the knowledge of the area’s layout he had gained now useless. Perhaps, he could get back up and find some a new job. But then, inevitably, some parasite, reveling in his superiority as a Coastdweller, would take the fruits of his labor yet again. “This is no way for me to live,” thought Santiago. “This is no way to live.”


© 2017 ovisaries4894



Author's Note

ovisaries4894
This is my first attempt at producing fiction which has lead to a coherent result being produced. Could you tell me about any mistakes I have made? Plot holes? Illogical stuff? What genre is this? I may expand on this universe.

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That was interesting and did fairly well in making me feel sympathetic toward Santiago during the piece's conflict. As for your questions, I don't believe I noticed any plot holes or anything that was unduly illogical (that wasn't a character's illogicality, which are more characterization than a problem). As for genre, I also can't say.

First sentence, second paragraph, in the phrase "driving in the wrong direction" you could get away with removing the word "in." The phrase, however, is fine as is and this note is more a matter of personal decision. Feel free to ignore.

A more general point on the second paragraph is that there is room for the references being confused. Who is honking the horn? Who is stuck in the intersection (this one in particular, as it could be either the van driver or Santiago)? More clarity early in the paragraph would resolve reference confusion later in the paragraph (such as whose passenger is alarmed by the horn).

Third paragraph, first sentence: you could remove the word "previously" without harm to the meaning of the sentence as the remaining "had" and "been" maintains the meaning.

A point to make using the description of the officer in the third paragraph. You use the adverb form of "sturdy" when you should use the base adjective form since you are modifying a noun.
In a similar vein, look at the variations of some of the words you're using and make sure you have the right one for the situation. For example, in the line "The policeman laughed, and Santiago dully wondered what the word “obsequious” mean, and where the man had learned it.", the word "mean" after "'obsequious'" should be meant due to the tense being used in the piece (past tense).

There are some word combinations that do little more than pad the word count (we all use them fairly unconsciously) at best and at worst can sap the sentence of strength. For example, in the second sentence of the first paragraph is the phrase "in order to." The first two words add nothing, and you can often enough get by through the use of "to" by itself.

A final note, you can probably trim some sentences down by reducing reference to specific details. Ask yourself "does my reader need to know?" Take the end of third paragraph's first sentence. Do we need to know what was in the vendor's cart? If it plays a role later on, then keep it. If not, consider if it needs to be there.
Unfortunately, this can be complicated as you'll sometimes want to sneak these details in to give a fuller idea of the setting. On the other hand, there are times, like the one I used for reference, where you can safely cut words without as.ny harmful impact to the work.

That said, this was pretty good for a first stab at fiction. Many of the finer points will come to you as you keep practicing, as long as you don't stop trying to learn and refine your craft.

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

ovisaries4894

7 Months Ago

Thanks for reviewing!



Reviews

That was interesting and did fairly well in making me feel sympathetic toward Santiago during the piece's conflict. As for your questions, I don't believe I noticed any plot holes or anything that was unduly illogical (that wasn't a character's illogicality, which are more characterization than a problem). As for genre, I also can't say.

First sentence, second paragraph, in the phrase "driving in the wrong direction" you could get away with removing the word "in." The phrase, however, is fine as is and this note is more a matter of personal decision. Feel free to ignore.

A more general point on the second paragraph is that there is room for the references being confused. Who is honking the horn? Who is stuck in the intersection (this one in particular, as it could be either the van driver or Santiago)? More clarity early in the paragraph would resolve reference confusion later in the paragraph (such as whose passenger is alarmed by the horn).

Third paragraph, first sentence: you could remove the word "previously" without harm to the meaning of the sentence as the remaining "had" and "been" maintains the meaning.

A point to make using the description of the officer in the third paragraph. You use the adverb form of "sturdy" when you should use the base adjective form since you are modifying a noun.
In a similar vein, look at the variations of some of the words you're using and make sure you have the right one for the situation. For example, in the line "The policeman laughed, and Santiago dully wondered what the word “obsequious” mean, and where the man had learned it.", the word "mean" after "'obsequious'" should be meant due to the tense being used in the piece (past tense).

There are some word combinations that do little more than pad the word count (we all use them fairly unconsciously) at best and at worst can sap the sentence of strength. For example, in the second sentence of the first paragraph is the phrase "in order to." The first two words add nothing, and you can often enough get by through the use of "to" by itself.

A final note, you can probably trim some sentences down by reducing reference to specific details. Ask yourself "does my reader need to know?" Take the end of third paragraph's first sentence. Do we need to know what was in the vendor's cart? If it plays a role later on, then keep it. If not, consider if it needs to be there.
Unfortunately, this can be complicated as you'll sometimes want to sneak these details in to give a fuller idea of the setting. On the other hand, there are times, like the one I used for reference, where you can safely cut words without as.ny harmful impact to the work.

That said, this was pretty good for a first stab at fiction. Many of the finer points will come to you as you keep practicing, as long as you don't stop trying to learn and refine your craft.

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

ovisaries4894

7 Months Ago

Thanks for reviewing!

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