“There’s the way Abuelo tells the story, and then there’s what really happened. Rafael, you must not listen to your grandfather’s version of how the family came to where we are now. At least, do not write it down for this homework assignment, ok?” Rafael listened to his mother intently.
“Sure thing, mom. So, what really happened?” Rafael always had an inquisitive side, a side of him his mother encouraged despite being wildly annoyed by the consistent ‘why’ question that had filled her home since the boy was three years old.
“Abuelo Carlos, Carl at work and with his bowling buddies, was all of 24 years old. He was always a very cautious person. You know how he looks both ways four times before crossing the street even when the little guy says it is ok to walk? He has always been like that. In the spring of 2016, Abuelo was getting ready to go to work. He was sitting in his car, putting his phone into ‘do not disturb’ mode so he would not be tempted to check text messages or email alerts,” Rose paused.
Rafael interuppted his mother, “What is a text message?”
“It was holochat before holochat was a thing. Before my time. People would send short sentences to each other. Terribly dangerous when driving. Could you imagine trying to read a book while navigating the road? Yikes,” Rose told him.
“I can’t drive, so no,” Rafael was a very literal little boy.
Rose crooked an eyebrow and continued her story, “Abuelo had just put the car into reverse. And don’t ask me what reverse is. As he heads out of the driveway, an enormous sink hole explodes beneath his car. He must have freaked out. Such a cautious human and despite his very best efforts to remain safe, the earth itself tries to eat him. The sink hole was deep too. The car bounced down, down, down further into darkness. Then he landed. The car stopped and he looked around. The walls were shiny. The overhead light inside the car flooded the cavern that housed Abuelo,” Rose made motions with her hands for dramatic effect.
“That was when Abuelo found the gems?” Rafael had no time for drama.
“Yes, Rafael, that was when Abuelo found the gems. Let me tell my story,” Rose chided. “Abuelo stepped out of the car and was surrounded by magnificent gems. A hundred or two feet below his parent’s home and no one ever knew. Needless to say, Abuelo did not go to work that day. He did go the day after, once his car was fished out of the hole. It still ran.”
“And that was when Abuelo started mining the gems himself and selling them off? Then he turned those profits into investments and became a local hero?” Rafael asked.
“For the most part, yes. Things take time and work, but the gems were technically his and his parents. They moved off the land for fear of being once again eaten by the earth, but basically yes that is when everything changed. No need for more questions. Go write your paper.”
Abuelo coughed and laughed from his oversized fluffy chair in the living room. “You forgot the important detail, Rosalita,” he said.
Rafael’s interest was piqued. What important detail could have been left out?
“Papa, don’t tell the boy your tale. It will give him nightmares,” Rose said.
“He needs to know the truth. When I was in that hole, nothing but shiny rocks and stinky dirt all around me, the left blinker on the car flashing all about, I saw something. Something weird was in there. Some sort of gremlin skittering about the cave. I spent years in that mine trying to find it again until one day, it showed its face again. It didn’t see me, but I saw it. I raised my pick and…”
Abuelo plunged his arm between the arm of the chair and the seat and pulled out something Rafael could not make out. Before he knew what happened, Abuelo had thrown the strange object at Rafael.
The young boy’s frightened scream rattled the house. He was sure the gremlin had emerged from the fluffy chair and was now trying to eat his face.
“Get it off! The gremlin has come for us all!” Rafael shouted.
Abuelo laughed harder than Rafael or Rose had heard in a very long time.
Rafael looked down. It was a slipper, nothing more than a shoe with some fuzz around the edge.
Rose sighed. “That is why we do not ask for Abuelo’s side of the story. He did that to me when I was your age too. Then Auntie. Then Uncle Ramon. Then your father.”
“It gets funnier every time,” Abuelo said between laughs.
Thanks for reading!