1980 Corvette

Her Past

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 15 Apr 2023



Sanita in Mexico teaching a young girl how to smoke? She was a heavy smoker all her years with me.

A week later, as we agreed, I drove her across that bridge to the airport, (Bruno coming along for the ride). She was to spend the month of March with her mother, think about me and if she wanted, fly back on a one-way ticket this time, to try our affair out seriously.

I was lucky in this too, sending her back that month, because her mother had a live-in boyfriend for ten years after her divorce from Jack, Sanita’s father. He was a postal worker, Walter, who happened to die in his sleep at the beginning of that very month. Sanita was there to help her mother with the trauma and details, help very much wanted and needed. On one of the last days of March, her mother’s matters settled, I picked her up on a sunny morning at the S.F. airport.

Since I’ve already described her as ‘childlike’ and pretty much ‘weak’, let me explain and qualify such simple words from the few facts I found out later. She rarely talked about her childhood in all our intimate talks that first year, while I was full of stories about mine. This only means one thing. It wasn't all that happy. Lovers share their life events in bed, tit for tat, whenever they can without discomfort. It’s only human.

She grew up in a semi-dysfunctional and poor family on the outskirts of Dallas, the first child of Jack and Betty’s marriage, with a sister from another father three years older and a brother a year younger. Both parents were from the environs of Wichita, where her grandmother lived, thinking it an upward move to go to Dallas. Jack was a hard-working, family supporting roofer, the hardest trade in construction. Betty was a pure mother, not educated but in love and caring as good as it gets. There must have been some home issues, as Jack did have a temper and a cruel streak and by the ninth grade Sanita was a pale, emaciated, pill obsessed girl, holed up in her bedroom. I saw one picture of her that told the whole story.

Then she ran away from home, forever. She hooked up with a runaway teenage boy and his girlfriend and the three met the exact description of the life depicted in ‘Drugstore Cowboys’. I remember when we first watched that movie together, by chance, she told me it was a painful shock, so true a mirror to her own history. Then her brother joined her after he left home. But he was a prodigy at sixteen, sneaked into the construction trade and was able to make great money in several enterprises. He took her in, supporting her along with his stream of girlfriends, always a happy trio. They came and went but she always stayed, his one, dear sister.

They had a few very profitable years by their early twenties. He was handsome and a talker, Texas style, and maneuvered himself into great positions, just like when I joined him in Puerto Rico in 92 to build ‘Gap’ stores in malls. He not only sealed that deal with their envoy but talked me into loaning him the twelve thousand dollars to finance this first big job. He repaid me with thirteen, just six weeks later.

In Dallas, during the oil boom of the early eighties, when skyscrapers were sprouting up like mushrooms, he convinced some building manager that he had a cleaning crew that could handle the largest buildings, all Mexican illegals, and excellent workers. He won a contract for hundreds of thousands, met it for a couple of months and then blew one especially fat check on a new sports car, (a story he repeated in Puerto Rico with me). He could make extravagant sums of money by his hard work and talents over months. But whenever his wallet grew fat, so did his head, like encephalitis. Then the mad spending would begin, and all the money gone.

There are people in life, and I’ve met a few, who, if you want to destroy them, just hand them a few million dollars in a briefcase and the deed is done, a perfect murder. Jaime was such a one.

He had the new Corvette all revved up outside the building but was unable to make the full payroll to the poor Spanish employees that Friday evening. An ugly scene ensued. He promised to be back within the hour with the money, but flight was his only real choice, with his sister beside him. And so it was, the contract, (and that career) up in smoke.

They drove to South Padre Island and started a sailboard rental business with a few incoming checks. That lasted awhile. Sanita was his ever-faithful adjunct, far more than that, his sister and only family. He never used her, except on a few business forms. When I first met him in April of 1986, when Sanita and I and our friend Jim (from warehouse days) took the long drive to Texas to meet the relatives, he took an immediate liking to me in Galveston at his father’s house and paid me the highest compliment he could, as we were leaving, saying he thought his sister was in fine hands and that I would take good care of her.

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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