Synopsis of Tocayos and Resaca



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.

You need a girlfriend, Tocayo


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.”


I nodded.

“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.

Father Bartolome


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.

Milagros Across the Court


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.

Little Brother and Tocayos In the Principal’s Office


At a book signing in Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstore last weekend I bought Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother.  I usually read slowly, but I inhaled Little Brother.

The novel I recently published, Tocayos, takes place in Lima, Peru, in the late 60’s.  Little Brother takes place in San Francisco in 2008.  Both stories include a scene in the principal’s office.  I though it would be cool to compare them.

Here’s Cory’s scene, reproduced from this site according to the Creative Commons, license:

“I ambled the rest of the way to Benson’s office and tossed him a wave as I sailed through the door.

“If it isn’t Double-you-one-enn-five-tee-zero-enn,” he said. Fredrick Benson — Social Security number 545-03-2343, date of birth August 15 1962, mother’s maiden name Di Bona, hometown Petaluma — is a lot taller than me. I’m a runty 5’8″, while he stands 6’7″, and his college basketball days are far enough behind him that his chest muscles have turned into saggy man-boobs that were painfully obvious through his freebie dot-com polo-shirts. He always looks like he’s about to slam-dunk your ass, and he’s really into raising his voice for dramatic effect. Both these start to lose their efficacy with repeated application.

“Sorry, nope,” I said. “I never heard of this R2D2 character of yours.”

“W1n5t0n,” he said, spelling it out again. He gave me a hairy eyeball and waited for me to wilt. Of course it was my handle, and had been for years. It was the identity I used when I was posting on message-boards where I was making my contributions to the field of applied security research. You know, like sneaking out of school and disabling the minder-tracer on my phone. But he didn’t know that this was my handle. Only a small number of people did, and I trusted them all to the end of the earth.

“Um, not ringing any bells,” I said. I’d done some pretty cool stuff around school using that handle — I was very proud of my work on snitch-tag killers — and if he could link the two identities, I’d be in trouble. No one at school ever called me w1n5t0n or even Winston. Not even my pals. It was Marcus or nothing.

Benson settled down behind his desk and tapped his class-ring nervously on his blotter. He did this whenever things started to go bad for him. Poker players call stuff like this a “tell” — something that let you know what was going on in the other guy’s head. I knew Benson’s tells backwards and forwards.

“Marcus, I hope you realize how serious this is.”

“I will just as soon as you explain what this is, sir.” I always say “sir” to authority figures when I’m messing with them. It’s my own tell.

He shook his head at me and looked down, another tell. Any second now, he was going to start shouting at me. “Listen, kiddo! It’s time you came to grips with the fact that we know about what you’ve been doing, and that we’re not going to be lenient about it. You’re going to be lucky if you’re not expelled before this meeting is through. Do you want to graduate?”

“Mr Benson, you still haven’t explained what the problem is —”

He slammed his hand down on the desk and then pointed his finger at me. “The problem, Mr Yallow, is that you’ve been engaged in criminal conspiracy to subvert this school’s security system, and you have supplied security countermeasures to your fellow students. You know that we expelled Graciella Uriarte last week for using one of your devices.” Uriarte had gotten a bad rap. She’d bought a radio-jammer from a head-shop near the 16th Street BART station and it had set off the countermeasures in the school hallway. Not my doing, but I felt for her.

“And you think I’m involved in that?”

“We have reliable intelligence indicating that you are w1n5t0n” — again, he spelled it out, and I began to wonder if he hadn’t figured out that the 1 was an I and the 5 was an S. “We know that this w1n5t0n character is reponsible for the theft of last year’s standardized tests.” That actually hadn’t been me, but it was a sweet hack, and it was kind of flattering to hear it attributed to me. “And therefore liable for several years in prison unless you cooperate with me.”

“You have ‘reliable intelligence’? I’d like to see it.”

He glowered at me. “Your attitude isn’t going to help you.”

“If there’s evidence, sir, I think you should call the police and turn it over to them. It sounds like this is a very serious matter, and I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of a proper investigation by the duly constituted authorities.”

“You want me to call the police.”

“And my parents, I think. That would be for the best.”

We stared at each other across the desk. He’d clearly expected me to fold the second he dropped the bomb on me. I don’t fold. I have a trick for staring down people like Benson. I look slightly to the left of their heads, and think about the lyrics to old Irish folk songs, the kinds with three hundred verses. It makes me look perfectly composed and unworried.

And the wing was on the bird
and the bird was on the egg
and the egg was in the nest
and the nest was on the leaf
and the leaf was on the twig
and the twig was on the branch
and the branch was on the limb
and the limb was in the tree
and the tree was in the bog —
the bog down in the valley-oh!
High-ho the rattlin’ bog, the bog down in the valley-oh —

“You can return to class now,” he said. “I’ll call on you once the police are ready to speak to you.”

“Are you going to call them now?”

“The procedure for calling in the police is complicated. I’d hoped that we could settle this fairly and quickly, but since you insist —”

“I can wait while you call them is all,” I said. “I don’t mind.”

He tapped his ring again and I braced for the blast.

“Go!” he yelled. “Get the hell out of my office, you miserable little —”

Here’s the scene from Tocayos:

“A junior at Del Pinar does not behave like a 2-year old throwing his toys around the room,” Brother Bernard said to Charly, in a tone of voice that made everybody listening think he was very bored.

This was Charly’s impression. But it made no sense to me. As the school principal Brother Bernard had an obligation to display outrage. How could he fail to do this? Perhaps he was employing a traditional yanqui trick: pretending not to care. This has been a custom between American men for many years, yes? John Wayne, after he and Roy Rogers, they shoot 20 indians between them and save the hair of the people of the town from being removed by the indians, they say to each other…

“Howdy Roy Rogers.”

“Howdy John Wayne.”

“Nice day, no? “

“Yes. “

“Another day, another town saved from a fate worse than death. “

“Yes, excuse me while I yawn.”

“Well, got to go, Roy Rogers.”

“So long, John Wayne.”

Ha! If it had been me who had beaten the Immaculada boy bloody, Brother Bernard would have screamed at me so hard that the veins in his neck would have looked like dancing serpents. Fat serpents. Doing the mambo. Chaka-chaka-bum. And Papito would have done the same. And Mamina. And my older brother would have also, just to practice.

This behavior, however, was not applied to Charly the American. Even by his own mother! She arrived a few minutes late. On purpose. She apologized with an obvious lack of sincerity. Another yanqui trick, perhaps? She then proceeded to dodge all of Brother Bernard’s questions about Charly’s father. No, he was unable to attend the meeting. Why? You ask me why? Because he was out of town, of course! Rescheduling the meeting for another time would not help, no, because he traveled very much. His business made many demands on his time, but his family understood. Yes, her son would prefer to have more contact with his father, but what teenage boy would not? Her understanding, however, was that in the incident in question, her son had merely defended himself from a personal attack, so her question to Brother Rudy was, “Why doesn’t the Catholic Church in general and La Virgen del Pinar in particular do a better job of protecting the children entrusted to their care?”

Brother Bernard, he exhaled and sat back in his chair. A boy’s mother is a formidable adversary, no? Even for the principal of a Catholic High School. Brother Bernard stared at Charly for a long time. Then he turned to Charly’s mother and explained to him, while talking to her, that it was the burden of a Catholic man to endure suffering and injustice. Provocation would come. Injustice would find us. They were tests of our faith in God’s justice. It was a weighty burden, heavier on the shoulders of the young, but it had to be borne. And it was certainly no excuse for trying to violate the Sixth Commandment.

I am not ashamed to say I had to look it up, too. “Thou shalt not kill,” Moses carved into the book made of rock. This is the sixth commandment. I do not believe Charly was trying to kill the Immaculada boy, but high school principals, they like to be dramatic. Besides, there is no commandment that says, “Do not pound a boy’s face into massamora, no?” To be honest, the New Testament is not much help, either. “The meek shall inherit the earth?” Noooo, this is madness. “Turn the other cheek” is not a philosophy full of appeal to a teenage boy. Perhaps if they had let me write one of the gospels …

Carlos 6:1-7

1 If a pendejo, he come unto you and violate unto your person’s
honor and dignity to the cheers of his pendejo hijo de puta friends,
2 Yes, this huevon he deserve a beating at your hands, but no,
you cannot give him a beating because the adultos I have
anointed to raise you will beat you in return.
3 You know this, yes? Is this fair? No. Of course it is not. It is stupid.
4 But like you, I was a teenager once, and so I made some mistakes.
5 Nevertheless, I am God now, so please trust me.
6 You run out now and go laugh, you fall in love, you take
long siestas in the shade. 7 One day, when the time is right,
I will smote that pendejo and together, you and I, we will share a high-five.

Let me know what you think.

Where to buy or download the books: