Mariposa sat in the space once occupied solely by tarantulas and the rocks they hid under. It sat half on one side, half on the other. They’d dropped it just west of the Nogales-Hermosillo highway like a flat-pack explosive device. It was still in the process of unfolding itself, Tab A into Slot B, still growing into a “planned prototyping community” or “cultural moat” or “probationary testing ground” or whatever it was meant to be. Ulicez had looked up pictures of it and it still looked raw and new, more like a movie set than an actual town. Given that everyone going there was auditioning for something, he supposed that made sense.
On the way out of Nogales, El Tejón joined him. Ulicez had no idea what the old man’s real name was. He’d been called Tejón forever, likely because the whiskers on his chin were streaked with white like a badger’s. But now he melted out of the alley like a tomcat and kept pace with Ulicez without any appearance of effort or exertion. It was as though he’d been waiting for Ulicez to pass by, even though Ulicez had told only his mother that he planned to walk. Then again, it was somehow fitting that the old man be the one to take Ulicez across. They had crossed the same distance together so many times before, although by another route.