What happened in the monster surf off Peru’s coast that changed the fate of Joe the American, Jose Miguel, and the spirited Milagros? Set among Peru’s pastel-painted fishing villages, its barren Andean towns, and its old Spanish haciendas, Tocayos and Resaca tell a story of passion and betrayal, of rivalry and redemption, and of a boy who must choose how he will become a man.
Jose Miguel gets what he wants. By charming, persuading, conning, or bullying his affluent family and friends, as well as the dedicated teachers at his exclusive Catholic school for boys in Lima, he bends the world to his will. Until he is frozen in place by the startling presence of Joe the American. Unable to dominate the combative New Yorker, Jose Miguel decides to unlock the American’s power by becoming his friend.
As Jose Miguel introduces Joe the American to the pleasures of his homeland, a genuine friendship forms between them. But when his hometown and the lovely Milagros fall in love with his American friend, Jose Miguel’s friendship dissolves into a bitter, but secret rivalry. Unable, at first, to check Joe’s growing popularity, he discovers a devastating secret about Joe’s father and sets in motion a plot to undo the American and recover what is rightfully his.
Tocayos and Resaca, parts One and Two of this story, are set in the monster surf outside the pastel-painted fishing villages of Peru’s coastline, in the barriadas that surround Lima, among the barren mountain towns of the Andes, and in the haciendas of its coastal desert. Together they tell a story of passion and betrayal, of rivalry and redemption, and of a boy who must choose how he will become a man.
I’ll be ordering hardcopies soon.
Painting courtesy of Pinterest.
You must understand, in Peru during those years, there was only one phone for each house. And the maids answered it. And when a boy asked to speak to a daughter of the family, the maids had orders from the parents to say “Who? She is not here.” The only way to reach a girl was to go where she was.
However, you could not simply go to her house. No. “What are you doing here?” the parents would ask. “There is no party today. Come back next year.” You had to find out where her friends hung out. And you had to pretend you were there by accident. “Imagine that! Running into you by accident. What a pleasant surprise.”
“You need a girlfriend, Tocayo,” I said, looking back at Charly.
“So you can go places with Angelica and me.”
“What about Anna Maria?”
“Angelica is my real girlfriend. Anna Maria is only a diversion for Playa Sur. Even I am not crazy enough to have two girlfriends on the same beach.”
My friend from America, land of Calvinists, probably believed that my strategy was immoral, and secretly wished I would get caught. In flagrante delicto, as they say. Arms and legs entwined, rolling in the sand. Other girlfriend shows up. Screams “Bastardo!” Points the finger at me and turns on her heel. “Who’s that?” first girlfriend asks, untangling herself from Carlos, the Peruvian Don Juan. “But but but but but,” I beg, not letting go of her half-opened blouse until she slaps my hand away and storms off.
He would be wrong, of course. I would not stutter and beg. I would simply release a heavy sigh and fall back on the sand, slayed by my pain. And in time they would both come back to me.
Excerpt from Part II of Tocayos, which I will publish this Winter, a bit behind schedule. Part I is available from Smashwords.
And, as so often happens in Catholic school and horror movies, a figure materialized on the teacher’s platform. No one saw or heard him walk in. A little unsettled, one by one we, the students, we turned in our seats to face the apparition. He was a towering man in a dull black cassock and crisp white priests’ collar. His giant hands clasped a bedraggled Bible against the front of his body. He was completely bald. He was ancient, and his old cassock hung thinly over his broad, bony shoulders, the sleeves not long enough to cover his arms or hide his powerful hands. Though 2 meters of height, he stood straight as a redwood. A priest that tall had to be North American, I thought, but his leathery skin was more olive than pink, and his features were almost indian, his eyes almost black.
He studied us with great concern, and remained silent until the last student had turned around.
“I am Father Bartolome,” he said in a voice that crumbled like old wood. “I am here to teach you social justice.”
Excerpt from Chapter 33, Burguese’s Lower Lip, in Part II of Tocayos, which I’ll publish in 2016. Part I is available from Smashwords.
Photo courtesy of Nice Cool Pics.
I stopped breathing. She was a beauty of such astonishment that my sense of time folded back over itself and I was suddenly unsure whether I was seeing her for the first time or remembering her from the moment of creation when God, as the centerpiece of his plan to make man strive for eternity, gave me a glimpse of the perfection that would remain forever out of my reach.
I had to see more of her. Her dark hair cascaded, thick and loose, to the middle of her shoulders. The face it framed was exquisite. I examined it like a reckless boy, jumping from the lips of a sculpture to the eyebrows of a movie star, skipping beneath the shadow of her hair and tracing the contour of her cheekbones to rest again on her lips, where I paused to breathe many times. I lingered in a state of awe along her elegant jaw line, moving aside her hair with the back of my hand to reveal the earlobes of an angel, pierced with a single pearl. Hidden from the world beneath the curtain of her hair I kissed the length of her neck until the gymnasium swayed. Leaning back, I stared into her eyes. Chocolate brown like her hair, they were priceless gems that defeated space, collapsing the distance of the court between them. Them? Between them? Why not between us? No! She was staring at Charly!
Excerpt from Chapter 10, the Gospel According to Carlos, from Part I of Tocayos. Part I is available from Smashwords. I will publish Part II and a hardcover version of both parts in 2016.