Read the short story. And then, watch the short film.

A Biology professor encounters a cockroach on his chalkboard, struggling to get rid of it. Instead, he begins to communicate with the bug. He names the bug Cuca – short for Cucaracha in Spanish. The close alliance seems to improve until someone makes a terrible mistake.

I can still remember the moment I became a pacifist, an animal lover, and a defender of animal rights. From that moment on, I also turned into a better person.

Armed with a flyswatter, playing in the backyard, I squashed a butterfly with it. My big brother witnessed the act, became upset, and gave me a lecture I would never forget.

“That butterfly probably had a family to feed. Everybody loves butterflies. They’re harmless, beautiful creatures. The way they fly and the way they move bring happiness to everyone. All living creatures have a right to live. Even if it’s a cockroach, mosquito, or bee, you should respect their lives as much as possible. Only if an animal attacks you should you defend yourself. And only then, you have a valid excuse to kill an animal.”

My big brother was twelve years old, and I was seven. It remained in my mind forever. It affected me for the rest of my life. Since I received that lecture, I have never knowingly hurt any living animals. I didn’t like violence. I was never involved in a fight in my whole life. I was patient, and I reasoned with measured actions.

That lecture sure had an impact on me. I became a teacher, studied biology and zoology, and became an entomologist. I had many books on animal behavior. And I loved pets and all animals that crossed my path, even after my big brother got killed by a bear on a camping trip in Yosemite National Park.

When I was in sixth grade, it took me a week before I could decide to dissect a frog, I loved science class, but whenever they had to experiment with tiny insects, I couldn’t do it. Only when I went to college I began to overcome that phobia. Visits to the Zoo became more enjoyable the more I learned about animals. I supported PETA and regularly volunteered my time at the local animal shelter.

The first time I saw that cockroach on the blackboard was the first time I’d seen a roach in my house. My reaction wasn’t normal, like calling the exterminating company or running to the store to get a can of Raid or Combat. But I wasn’t too happy about it either. I knew how they propagate if you don’t take the proper steps. My house was clean and organized. I barely cooked at home. The kitchen was impeccably clean most of the time. I lived alone and hardly dated anyone. I was introverted and loved my solitude. I left the bug alone.

In the following weeks, I saw the cockroach a few more times, always on the blackboard. I hoped it was the same one, and the only one. I struggled to decide if I should get rid of it. I thought that if I saw more than one at the same time, I would take action. Not directly myself, but I would call an exterminating company and leave the house for a week.

My blackboard was always full of notes and writings. Every week, I would scribble all the highlights about the next test I’d give to my students. After a few weeks, I noticed that the roach was always at the center of a letter. Having all the time in the world, I decided to check what its favorite letters were.

The first two letters I noticed were h and i. I smiled and said “hi” in return.

The next day, the letters the roach ‘stepped on’ caused the biggest shock in my life, ‘f o o d’. After the surprise faded, I thought it was a coincidence until the next day when the cockroach stepped on the same four letters.

I thought it was so absurd. I needed more proof, much more.
Baffled and still in shock, I put some bread crumbs on the board next to the chalk holder.

All rationality and common sense disappeared after those ‘conversations’ with the cockroach. Curious but still doubtful, I erased all writings on the blackboard and left them clean for a few days.

The cockroach disappeared for the same period.

I knew cockroaches could survive a nuclear war or live without food for about thirty days and water for about a week. I assumed that my house, being so clean, my little friend would starve to death or move out of the house. Both outcomes would have caused great misery in my heart. And, of course, my heart wouldn’t allow the poor bug to die.

I couldn’t bear that guilt, and after a few days, I wrote on the board again. And right away, my little friend showed up, and we resumed our ‘correspondence.’

“Food,” wrote the hungry insect again in a few seconds.

With my eyes and mouth wide open, I ran to the kitchen to get bread crumbs.

After that, I stopped all experiments, and during dinner time, I gladly shared my food with “Cuca,” which was the name I gave to my new friend, which was short for ‘Cucaracha’ or cockroach in Spanish.

I knew cockroaches preferred dark places, so I closed all curtains and blinds in the morning. I started to give small chunks of food to my friend. And I also began to write a journal.

I had never been so happy.

One day, Cuca spelled “ugly” on the board.

“Me?” I asked.

“Yes,” Cuca replied.

Of course, I agreed. Obviously, every animal species thought the rest of the species were ugly. What could a gorilla think about a hyena? Or a chicken about a snake or a peacock about a crocodile? But it was a little different for humans. Many animals were beautiful to humans, like doves, eagles, Blue Jays, deer, and even elephants and whales. And, of course, butterflies too.

“What about pain?” I asked.

“?” Cuca answered.

“Can you feel pain?” I asked again.

“?” replied Cuca.

Okay. Cuca has never felt pain, I concluded. How fortunate.
Then, I had an idea. I went to get my magnifying glass. I thought about meeting Cuca up close and personal. When I returned, I opened the window to let some light in. It was a little after noontime. The sun shone on the board. It was perfectly bright to meet Cuca for the first time, face to face. When I put the magnifying glass near Cuca, smoke emerged from one of its wings. Cuca vanished in a fraction of a second.

“Ah!” I screamed and threw the magnifying glass to the floor.

“Oh no, what did I do?”

Cuca didn’t come back for an entire week. And when it did, it spelled “Pain.”

When I approached the board, Cuca reluctantly stayed. I brought some food, enough for an entire colony. I wished Cuca could get all its family and friends; I didn’t care if they caused the worse infestation ever. I was that sad. It took another week before all things went back to normal.

Cuca healed nicely. It only left a small black mark on its wing.

One afternoon, when I returned from school, I met the cleaning lady as she was exiting my house.

“Good afternoon, professor,” she greeted me. “I must tell you something; I killed a cockroach on your blackboard. You must call the exterminating company before an infestation invades your house.”

The End

*Just because a subject is serious doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty of absurdities.

-P. J. O’Rourke

Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. Nov-25-2016

A Conversation With God

***If you’re religious, this is not for you. (irreverent)

Introduce yourself, please. 

I am God. I made everything. That’s all you need to know.

Are you perfect?

No, I am not. I make mistakes. The biggest one so far was trying to make you an image of myself. But I failed. I could have erased you and started from scratch again. But in the end, I liked what I saw. You had imperfections, and you had your whole life to work on them.

Are you happy?

Happiness is never permanent, which makes me sad.

Why do you allow so many injustices in the world?

You have to stop blaming me for everything. I gave you life. You live it as you wish, if you’re happy or not. It’s your free will. The choices you make will make you happy or miserable. It’s all up to you. You create your destiny. 

Do you have a mother? 

No, I never had one. I’m not sad because of that. There’s nothing to miss. 

Are you going to help us one day? 

No, you’re on your own. You should help yourselves. You should know that by now. I gave you the world; if you destroy it, it’s your fault.

If you’re our father, who’s our mother?

You can have Eve or Mary or Mother Earth. If you ask me if I have a wife, I don’t. And I’m not looking for one either. 

Do you believe in the Bible?

That’s a funny one. 

Do you?

Nobody should. It’s been edited without my permission a million times. You should consider the Bible to be just a rumor. Somebody said: “News told, rumors heard, truth implied, facts buried.” I can’t say it is better than that. Rumors don’t care what’s true. What you say now it’s going to be changed tomorrow. Always remember this, rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots.

Do you listen to our prayers?

No. Why should I if I’m not going to fix your problems? 

Is there anybody you admire?

Yes, the list is long. And not all I admire are here with me.

Does that mean you can also admire evil people?

I don’t want to set a bad example. The answer is no.

Is the world going to end soon?

I cannot answer that. The world ends when you die. Don’t worry about that. Embrace life. Death is your reward.

Are the Popes helping you?

Not at all. Popes are too old-fashioned, too narrow-minded, and too arrogant. They’re worse than my apostles, disciples, and prophets. Not all of them are here with me. Sorry, I can’t give you the list. 

Tell me a little about Paradise and Hell.

They don’t exist. With your behavior, you can experience both of them here on Earth.

Is your job boring?

If all of you were good, I would have resigned long ago. What makes it interesting is bad people. My job is not boring; I’m watching millions of movies simultaneously. Evil is winning.

Will you ever send another of your sons back to Earth?

No, you people are too mean. Jesus is still traumatized by your actions. 

Can you perform a miracle?

I’m not a magician. When you die, I’ll make you stop breathing. How’s that for a miracle?

Do you have anything to say to Atheists? 

Atheists are fools, and so are Jesus freaks. I feel sorry for them. They should spend their time more wisely.

Do you dislike homosexuals? 

No. People that hate homosexuals are fools too. Your body is yours, do with it as you please. Just don’t mistreat it, and don’t kill yourselves.

Did you write the Ten Commandments? 

Yes, but initially, there were only six. The rest were made up to make you docile and obedient. I don’t want you to be afraid of me. If you don’t worship me, nothing bad will happen to you. Moses must have smoked weed before he climbed that mountain. I’ll give you the list later.

Are you really everywhere?

That’s nonsense. Religions are man-made, and their leaders want to manipulate you with fear. The best way to obtain obedience is to plant fear. I can’t keep an eye on all of you constantly.

Who is the Holy Spirit?

Same thing as mermaids, unicorns, and Bigfoot.

Are you handsome?


Can I take a selfie with you?

Don’t be silly.

Are you against divorce and contraceptives?

No. Marriage should not have chains; your body should not have chains. Everybody should always be free. Promiscuity is what’s bad. 

Of all the injustices in the world, the most terrible is seeing children suffer. Can you do something about it?

Children are human; all humans sometimes suffer.

I’m not convinced; you need to do something about it. You have to promise you’ll do something. 

If all of you help me, something can be done.

Do you hate Satan?

I don’t love him, and I don’t hate him. I dislike him. I dislike Hitler too.

Can I have my cake and eat it too?

Yes. But when you die, you won’t be allowed to bring anything here, not even a slice for me.

Do you like Rock? 

It’s okay, but I prefer classical music. 

Rolling Stones or Beatles?

Beatles. When the Stones release “Sympathy for God,” I might reconsider.

Why did you allow the holocaust to happen?

I have no blood on my hands. Humans kill humans, “intervention” is not in my vocabulary. 

Can you disarm the entire world?

Humans kill humans. Humans build arms and weapons.

Will we ever have a new God or Goddess? Can someone else come and challenge you?

Have you heard about Satan? A Goddess might be a good idea.

Some people might say that this interview is fictitious. They might think that I’m answering my questions. 

If they can believe in the Bible and its million tales, they can believe in this too. If not, who cares? 

Can you be my friend?


Why are your responses so laconic?

I don’t need to adorn things up. I’m wise.

You’re a bit cold. Do you love me?

I’m sorry. I didn’t want to give that impression. Come here, hug me. 

You mentioned several times that we are on our own and that you don’t want to intervene anymore. Then, what do you do?

Are you saying I’m useless?

No, I’m just implying that you don’t do anything anymore. (same thing)

I’m the judge and the administrator. I’m the doorkeeper too. 

Do you enjoy giving punishment?

You get what you deserve. If the balance turns out to be unfair, it gets even after you die. 

Who made you?

I thought you’d never ask that. I made me myself. 

Are homosexuals a third gender?

Procreation is love and reward. 

Why don’t you show yourself?

I sometimes do, but you ignore or mistreat me as you do with each other. 

Why don’t you make guns and drugs disappear?

If I did, you’d reinvent them the next day. 

Are you better than Superman?

I wish.

Are religions good for humankind?

No. I’m still waiting for humans to invent something good.

Was it all planned this way, including your mistakes? 

No, it’s been deteriorating from the beginning. If you could alter my design, you’re smarter than I thought. 

Can you give us a copy of the original manuscripts of the Bible? 

What for, you’ll change it again. 

Could we have been able to domesticate dinosaurs? 

No, they ate your first generation.

What side are you on, Israel or Palestine?

None, they’re both fools.

If you are omnipotent, why don’t you get rid of Satan? That way, everybody could be good all the time.

Satan is in you, and so am I. You fight good and evil within you. 

I need to take a leak. Do you pee too? Mm, never mind that.


How old are you and when’s your birthday?

Next question.

What’s outside the universe?

More universes.

Why don’t you get rid of mosquitoes?

A mosquito asked me the same question about humans.

Are you going to cry when I die?

The only time I cried was when you crucified my son. 

Are you an extraterrestrial?

Yes, I wasn’t born here.

Are you the only God? Do you have your own God?

I’m the only God on this planet. I believe in myself.

What would you do if Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on your door?

I wouldn’t make any noise until they left. 

Is the human race improving?

Very slowly. 

Do you have a favorite Country? (please, please, say the USA)

You’re funny. Humankind is a single nation, a single planet. There are no countries in my heart.

Then, “God Bless America” is meaningless and useless?

Only American innocence and naivety could believe I exclusively “bless America.” That’s silly.    

Can you give us the original list of the “Ten Commandments”?

1. Obey your Mom and Dad.

2. Do not kill.

3. Be faithful in marriage.

4. Do not steal.

5. Never tell a lie.

6. Don’t envy what others have. 

Somebody added a few more without consulting me. The other four Commandments depicted me as a selfish, controlling God; nobody should consider those. 

Any last thoughts or advice for humankind? 

Be good and love each other. 

The End

Edmundo Barraza

Lancaster, Ca. 09-16-2014


Your mother should know.
The things that matter you ignore
Your ego is not your strength nor your asset
Superficiality is your best quality
Your style, never your own
Aversion to sincerity
Your favorite answer is “is complicated” ’cause you have no clue
Your sterile concern, I will not try to discern
Your criticism, keep it concealed
Your advice, keep it confined deep in your mind
Nurture your torture
Nourish your hatred and wrath
Your caring, warmhearted soul conflicts with your perverse desires
Under cover of genuine intentions
You use your virtues to crush humble feelings
You pulverize enthusiasm with indignant anger
And destroy modest goals with sarcastic compliments
That only reflects a sadistic disdain
If I love you, you laugh
If I hate you, you smile
And if I ignore you, you’re dead
Guess what I wish for you?
Your mother should know.

The End

Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. Nov-29-2015

The Psychic

Read the short story, and then watch the short film.

Never before did I consider visiting a psychic or a palm reader, even though I’ve seen that place in the corner maybe hundreds of times. But I never had a reason to go. I wasn’t even curious, not even if I got a free consultation.

I know I am rational and mature, but admitting it shows immaturity. Believing in spirits, ghosts, the afterlife, or the hereafter was not my thing. But after that absolute life nightmare, I considered visiting that psychic place. I’ve seen the lady many times before, parking her fancy car in her driveway. Lovely looking lady in a typical businesslike dress, not like your regular gypsy. She never wore long flowery dresses like old hippies. No, she didn’t look like a witch either. And she seemed friendly too, always with a smile on her face.

After the accident, I became a widower and an orphan father. I was left alone and turned into a zombie. I thought there was no reason to continue living. Life was utterly meaningless. Suicide was often on my mind, but life had always been a precious treasure, so I hung on, waiting for, I don’t know what—waiting for them to come back—or waiting to see if I could form another family, maybe? But to consider that would be to betray their memory. No, nothing could fix me. Nothing seemed remotely possible. My happiness was cut short without a reason or an explanation. I need to communicate with my wife, or else I can’t go on living.

I didn’t know what I was expecting when I opened the door to her office.

“Good evening. How can I help you?” she said with a friendly smile.

“I don’t know if you can. I sincerely doubt it. But I need to give it at least a try. I find it hard to imagine ghosts dancing around your desk, and I’m suspicious about your abilities to connect people from different dimensions. In my mind, I always related your profession to frauds, scams, and charlatans. I’m sorry I’m being so blunt, but I needed to get it out. As a non-believer, could I influence your talents? And are you still willing to help me?”

“Wow, at this point, you could be one of my worse clients ever. You almost stepped over the line. You were a little bit disrespectful, not just blunt. You can leave anytime if you’re unsure about what you want to do. I wouldn’t feel offended; instead, I would be pleased. I don’t need to be a psychic to sense your sarcasm. Oh, and more thing, I haven’t seen any ghosts dancing around my desk either, but I’ve seen spirits sitting on the same chair you’re sitting on.” she replied.

“I’m sorry, you’re right. I forgot that I came to ask for a favor for a moment. The words I chose were a little rough. I’m sorry. The main thing is that I wanted to be honest and clear. Can you see spirits or ghosts?”

“I can feel their presence, and I can see them sometimes. I don’t mind if you don’t believe me. That doesn’t change the fact that I can see them sometimes. But let’s change the subject. I don’t need to convince you to believe.” she said.

“Is business good?”

“Yes, lately, spirits have been running rampant and unrestrained. If you trust me, you’ll soon find out what I mean. Why do you ask if business is good?” she responded.

“Well, good psychics should always be busy.”

“Why don’t we get to the point? What brings you here?” she asked.

“I need to communicate with my wife. We were involved in a car crash. My wife and daughter died, and it was my entire fault. I don’t want to be on this earth anymore without them. My guilt is so big it’s eating my soul. You see, I was driving the car, and at the same time, I was trying to give the bottle of milk to my daughter, but I couldn’t reach it, so I removed my seat belt for a second. The vehicle went off the road, and I was ejected and passed out while the car overturned several times. I never saw them alive again. I need to ask my wife for her forgiveness. I also want to join them wherever they are.

“Do you believe in God?” she asked.

“Not really, but I used to be a believer, but things changed, and I became a materialistic cynic. Now I would feel like a hypocrite if I prayed.”

“Some things are easier to believe if you’re spiritual. The nonphysical part of a person sometimes manifests as an apparition after their death. A spirit can survive physical death or separation of body and spirit. Sometimes, when the body ceases to exist, and nothing can hold a person’s soul, character, and emotions, it wanders, seeking a body that doesn’t exist anymore. I think your family is alive and well.” she said.

“Do you mean . . .?”

“Yes, I’m sorry. You can leave now. There’s no need to open the door; you can just cross it.”

And as the man crossed the door, a couple of tears fell from the medium’s eyes.

The End

Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. 12-27-2016

Anchor Baby

If Jesus had been born near San Diego and his parents were Mexican.

Jose was an excellent craftsman. He made spinning tops, caps and balls, puppets, and other wooden toys by hand. The quality of the toys didn’t match the low selling price. The toys were a good percentage of his profits, but still, Pancho was an essential part of the business. Pancho was his partner, best friend, and a crucial element of his show. Also, Pancho was an alcoholic. The donkey carried a sign hanging from its neck that said, “Pancho,” and all the tourists at the beach loved to see him drink beer. 

The donkey had been loyal to Jose for years; he carried the merchandise, entertained the crowds, and got paid with beers. Most days, it appeared that Pancho was too willing to go to work, but Jose knew that, in reality, Pancho had a hangover, and all he had in mind was to go to the beach and get drunk again. The happy appearance of Pancho was misleading; Jose knew he was exploiting Pancho even though the donkey had a constant smile on his face, but his addiction provoked the smile.

Jose’s wife was in the last days of her pregnancy, and for the previous two weeks, she couldn’t join him and stayed home. They made a decent living in Tijuana. Their modest house had barely the essentials for a happy living. Jose wasn’t too proud of their way of living or the options and examples he would give to his future child. Jose and his wife had talked seriously about improving their child’s chances for the future. And the decision was final: the child would be born in the United States.

Most people in Mexico blamed the US for their eternal misery. The graffiti on the poorest slums from Tijuana to Central America and beyond proclaimed: “Yankees go home,” in contrast, signs near San Diego showed immigrant parents with a girl in ponytails running and crossing the freeways. Making a racist allusion to illegal aliens crossing the border.

Indeed, the US had been robbing them of all their natural resources, including silver, gold, oil, lumber, and even cheap labor. They were taking all the stuff the country produced and leaving them with increasing debt. 

Mexico had survived centuries of Spanish pillaging and exploitation. Now Spain had been replaced by the US. 

In most cases, the only solution they could find was to flee to the US. The US had nothing to recriminate. All of it was just a vicious circle initiated by a greedy villain. Talking about poetic justice.

Jose and Pancho had been a permanent fixture at the beach, and tourists had taken thousands of pictures and videos of Pancho and his drinking habits for many years at the Mexico-USA border on the beach. They were never bothered by immigration officers while going back and forth the borderline, temporarily invading the US side a few hundred yards. 

But the following day, they had planned to go further into USA territory.

Maria was ready to give birth. She wasn’t too cheerful. Her first baby was going to be an American child. She was proud of her race, brown skin, and Aztec roots. She even imagined that by giving birth in America, her child would be a white boy or a blond girl, just like that automatically by crossing an invisible border, even if the other side used to be part of Mexico. Jose and Maria had decided it was the best for the child. Their child would have access to better education, medical care, job opportunities, and everything else. He could be a professional athlete, an astronaut, or even the President of the United States. Yes, it was the best for the child.

Maria was riding the donkey; it had all kinds of trinkets hanging from its neck, not cheap, but inexpensive wooden toys that mainly appealed to poor kids on the Mexican side. Cheap meant low quality, but these toys were good quality, so they were ‘inexpensive.’ Pancho was having a hard time carrying the extra weight. He was sweating off a hangover from the day before, and he was anxious to have his first beer of the day. But Jose was making fewer stops than usual. They hadn’t walked a mile on the US side when an Immigration Officer stopped them and asked for their papers. Then, another officer showed up and said that it was okay, that Jose and Pancho were allowed to come and go just a couple miles into US territory, and that Pancho had been entertaining tourists from both sides for years. So, they left them alone.

And they continued their trip.

They didn’t plan on giving any shows or trying to sell anything; their only goal was to get to a community hospital in Chula Vista. But along the way, they made a few stops to avoid suspicions. 

The first stop was unplanned. Pancho decided to stop with a group of teenagers. He needed a beer. The kids were drinking beer from red plastic cups because drinking alcohol was not allowed on California beaches. Jose couldn’t understand how Pancho noticed the teens were drinking beer. Pancho came to a standstill in front of them and stubbornly refused to continue. He deserved a break, thought Jose. 

Maria dismounted the thirsty alcoholic donkey. Pancho looked a little pathetic, but soon, with some luck, he would change that look into a smile. The teens couldn’t believe Jose when he told them the truth; the donkey had a terrible hangover. Ultimately, they had a lot of fun with Pancho; they even bought some puppets and spinning tops. Pancho drank five beers, and before they left, Pancho brayed rather noisily. He was happy again. The teens rioted when a naive girl asked Jose if she could kiss his ass. Maria didn’t like that. 

And they continued their journey.

All along the beach were showers, restrooms, and other facilities, including lifeguard posts and free public parking spaces. The ocean water, the wind, and the sunshine were the same, but somehow the American side seemed more serene, pure, and less polluted. How can that be possible? 

Pancho had decided to be in charge of the rest stops and breaks they would take. This time, he took refuge in the shade next to a restroom. And while Maria used the facilities, Jose fed Pancho and gave him some water.

They weren’t dirty or messy but seemed odd and out of place. Maria wore a long dress, a headscarf, and a straw hat. Nobody could deny she was beautiful. Jose was wearing a pair of white loose cotton pants, a white guayabera, and brown sandals. He was handsome too. They neither looked like tourists nor natives. 

Before Maria exited the restroom, a lady blabbered in a fastidious tone, aiming her venom at her waiting husband just outside the door, “I can’t believe it! These Mexicans are invading us. It seems like the borderline is getting closer to San Diego; I can’t even use the restroom without tripping with one of them! Oh, my God, we need to move to Canada!” “Yes!” answered her husband, “And look at this, they’re even bringing their burros!” They kept complaining as they walked away. Maria came out of the restroom sad and confused.

“I don’t know what happened, Jose, I didn’t do anything, but that lady was so offended by my presence. I don’t understand why,” Maria said, exiting the restroom.

“It’s okay Maria, don’t worry, you’re not to blame. Some people are just intolerant of other races. Please, darling, don’t be upset. Just ignore them,” Jose said as he helped her climb up Pancho. 

Jose couldn’t understand it either since all American tourists they encountered in Tijuana were highly polite and gracious; they were always very respectful and well-mannered. They’d never seen such mean people before. 

And they continued their trek.

Maria was still sobbing quietly when a short, skinny guy appeared jogging next to them and suddenly stopped and asked Jose in Spanish if he could ride his donkey for a little bit. Such a request was common to hear from kids, but since Jose couldn’t find a reason to refuse, he agreed. And while Jose and Maria sat on the sand to rest, the little guy went up and down the beach, riding Pancho full of joy. Even Pancho appeared to be having fun. They looked a little comical too.

When they came back, the man sat next to them. And while still laughing, he mentioned that he started riding donkeys when he was five years old, back in a little town in Oaxaca, where he was from. It turned out he was a jockey. He said he would run a race at the Del Mar racetrack the following day. He said he missed Mexico and felt lonely and nostalgic most of the time. Jose told him their story, why they had crossed the border, and their intentions to give the baby a better future. 

After Jose finished their story, the short man offered them three hundred dollars to help with the medical bills, which Jose accepted with sincere modesty. 

Even though Jose had all their life savings, he was worried he didn’t have enough money for the hospital. Now, Jose was glad nobody would call him a freeloader or a leech. Even Pancho disliked burdens.

And they continued their expedition. 

They were near their destination. Maria’s contractions were getting intense and persistent. She told Jose it was time. While she rested next to a lifeguard’s tower, Jose went to get a taxicab. 

To the right, the waves were crashing violently against the rocks. To the left, and as long as you could see, the high tide kept delivering surfers to the beach. One of them saw Maria trying to stretch and relax, but nothing seemed remotely relaxing on the sand, not even a towel. The surfer offered his surfing board for her to lie down on. Other young people brought more surfing boards and built two walls around her. Then the lifeguard brought a stretcher and some sheets. Maria couldn’t wait to be taken to the hospital.

The beach sure looked like paradise. The place where the ocean waters were embracing and caressing this beautiful planet was a perfect place to deliver a baby.

The lifeguard and the surfers were good enough to deliver the baby. The healthy boy didn’t need any doctors or nurses or emergency rooms. Many surfers were offering their arms to hold the smiling baby. 

When Jose returned, as he held the baby and kissed Maria, the crowd went wild with cheers.

And, of course, they named the baby Jesus.

And thirty-three years later, Jesus would have to experience his own journey.

The End


U.S. Copyright Office — Submitted / Pending

Edmundo Barraza

 Lancaster, Ca. 02-20-2016  

A Day in My Life

The barber was almost done with my haircut when I heard the beginning of a song on a tiny radio. First, a single beat of a drum along with the piano, followed by the guitar and then the vibrating organ. The first sound grabbed my complete attention with its beautiful melody. 

I couldn’t understand a word. The lyrics were in English. Before I heard this song, I had listened to the Beatles and Elvis: great music, but nothing quite like this. The song went straight to my heart. At that moment, I would’ve given anything to be able to understand the lyrics. 

Until then, my young mind had refused to accept other kinds of music. For me, only rock existed. My mind blocked everything else. My inability to understand the lyrics wasn’t an inconvenience for me to enjoy it.    

I was fourteen years old, living in Mexico in the summer of 1966. In those days, I didn’t have a friend who liked rock and roll as much as I did. 

By the time the barber finished, the song wasn’t over yet. I stood there paralyzed. I looked at myself in the mirror, wishing for the music never to end. Then, I noticed the barber staring at me. I was sure he was thinking. ‘what’s wrong with this stupid kid?’

But he was right. I was a stupid kid because if I could run to my house fast enough, I could listen to the rest of the song and catch the title. I was three blocks away from home. And I ran. I didn’t see the cracked sidewalks, the unpaved roads, my friends playing soccer on the street, the grocery store, or the butcher shop. I didn’t hear the birds singing, the dogs barking, or any noise. I was still listening to the most beautiful song I had ever heard.

We used to live on the second floor of a two-story house. I was up there in a flash. When I went to my room, I could still listen to about a minute of it. The humble authoritative angry voice, the sweet, sad harmonica drilling the core of my soul. And the part where the organ cried full of joy or pain. It induced my first mental orgasm. 

They said the name of the song and who played it. I knew that very instant that I had to buy it immediately.

I went to ask my three sisters for money. The first one, to no avail. She was the stingy one. The second one, the pious one, I asked her for church money for the next day. And the third one, the one that loved me the most, I told her the truth, and she gave me the rest.

I got the record. People used to call them 45s because they used to turn forty-five revolutions per minute (RPM). I played it all afternoon. I even marked the record and counted how many turns it made in a minute. They were right; forty-five times per minute, about 280 times. I played that song dozens of times that day, loving it, even more every time I played it. At that moment, I promised myself I would learn English before I died.

Anybody could get bored after listening to the same song a few times in a row, but not me, not with that song. That night I didn’t even watch TV. I had dinner, then I took a shower and went back to my room to listen to “my song” a few more times before falling asleep. 

It was probably past midnight when the sound of music woke me up. I stood up and turned the light on, then turned the record player off and returned to sleep. But the music woke me up again. This time, it was the radio, but it was playing the same song. And once again, I turned it off.

The same thing happened once again. Pissed off and scared, I disconnected the cable from the plug and the radio. I pulled it from the wall, removed the batteries, and put it under the bed. That should do it. 

The next time it happened, I was out of my mind. I didn’t want to open my eyes. I thought Satan was playing tricks on me under my bed. I gathered all my courage and went under the bed. I was having terrifying thoughts. I imagined Lucifer grabbing my arms and dragging me to hell. But no, the only thing down there was my record player. Still shaking, I threw it to the cement floor downstairs, where it broke into a million pieces.

In the morning, my mom was poking my ribs and saying, “Wake up, son, we have to go to church.”

I opened my eyes and saw my record player in one piece with my new record still on it, unbroken and ready to be played. 

But first, I had to go to church and pray. 

And I begged God to allow me to enjoy music again without receiving any punishment in my dreams.

The End

© US Copyright Office / Submitted / Pending

“Like A Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan. Duration: 6:31

2004 Best Song of all time. Rolling Stone Magazine.


Visalia, CA. 06-04-2012


The middle is a convenient and easy place to be, where no arguments or controversies exist. The center is a comfortable neutral point where conformity shares space with submission. The middle is a tedious place where no one voluntarily should remain for a long time. Life is meant to be a continuous experiment. The middle is fine, but only temporarily. I must go to the extremes, both extremes. I should never be static. I should never allow myself to fall into docility or mediocrity. I would rather be invisible than mediocre.

If I ever get lost, I should dig deep inside my mind to find myself again and break through to the other side. My inner light, where my subconscious remains amid heaven and hell. Limbo? Then while there, I should visit my storage dump, where all my repressed memories lie, and cleanse myself of regrets, fears, and sins. And reconnect the mind and soul with my mortal spiritual body.

I should also distance myself from all human suffering that obscures my enlightenment by crossing the abstract threshold that leads to the path of my intangible insight that helps me to assimilate the objectives of a meaningless life. I would also liberate the confined beliefs that could help me realize that suffering is never inherent to any situation. My good deeds will eventually guide me to my karma and final encounter with the ecstasy of reaching my Nirvana.

I must find where the past and the present collide to avoid an unmerciful future. I need to push the button to pause all brain activity to counteract severe burnout.

Nihilism will cease to exist. My zenith will rise above my nadir. My reborn optimism will help me obtain the best possible world. Now that I reached the highest happiness, I will create my perfect destiny. The scary part of reaching Nirvana leads to a downward spiral to the depths of hell. Once you get total spiritual bliss and total euphoric ecstasy, you will crash against a wall of confusion.

Damn! I can’t continue. I ran out of weed. That was my last joint. Now what?

The End

Visalia, CA Jan-11-2012


I don’t have a list of my favorite movies on my Facebook page because no one agrees, just like in religion and politics. It’s just a matter of taste and preference. In the issue of movies, everybody is an expert and a critic. But we all agree on one thing. Nobody’s right. My list could be absurd and even ridiculous to everyone else.

Each magazine picks different movies. Each critic has other choices. It’s the same thing with every person. My favorite movies might be dumb choices to everyone else. If I see your list, I might disagree with some of your favorites. That’s why we call ourselves individuals. Ultimately, all lists are useless because every single mind is different. 

The best thing on this Earth might be the individual mind and the assertion that no two minds are alike.

The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences or Oscars is the bible of universal films. (What an arrogant and inflated title) Most people don’t agree with many of their choices. If you are going to trash the ‘experts,’ I can’t imagine what you would do with my list. (But I can guess.)

I saw my first movie when I was seven, and since then, my passion has only increased. And I was hooked forever. I still remember many details about the film and even the surroundings of the ‘movie theater .’ (The exterior wall of a church was the screen.)

For many years, one of my favorite programs was Siskel and Ebert at the Movies. They later renamed it Ebert and Roeper. I watched it religiously every Sunday. They were very smart, so bright, that even when one had a thumbs down and the other a thumbs up, I would agree with them after they gave their reasons. They made me love the movies even more. And I also enjoyed the end-of-the-year program dedicated to the year’s worst movies. It always gave me significant pleasure that I never saw any of the worst films they listed.

Sight and Sound, a respected and revered British film, monthly prints the list of the ten best movies of all time every ten years, chosen by hundreds of critics worldwide. It is as close as possible to fairness and perfection; still, half the world wouldn’t agree. The 2012 list includes one Japanese film, one Italian, one from Russia, two French, and five from the USA. Of the ten, three are silent films. The list of the top fifty films from the same magazine shows various languages and genres. Out of the top ten movies, I’ve seen eight.

I’m not fond of Musicals, where everybody dances, sings, jumps, and fights with fake knives. Or when a lady sings atop a grassy mountain, followed by a bunch of nerdy, rich kids. That’s different than my choice of a good movie. I would not pay to see that. To me, Lawrence of Arabia was a four-hour documentary about sand. I love England but not their movies about kings, queens, and boring things. I was not fond of The English Patient or Chariots of Fire. Also, if it’s too romantic, I’ll skip it.

So there you have it. Now that you know what I don’t like, you can slaughter my choices, mock my list and ignore and condemn my preferences.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could retire the great movies to a “Movie Hall of Fame”? For example, pick the ten best of every decade, put them in the Hall of Fame, and do the same every ten years.

On another subject, I wouldn’t feel so sad when Blockbuster finally disappears. How can they have fifty copies of Eat Pray Love and only one of City of God?

I can easily add another hundred movies to my list of favorite films. I can put them all in random play and be happy for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t feel like I’m wasting my time. The common denominator in all these films is a great story. The story is the heart of the movie. First of all, we should thank the writers.

These movies shaped my life and inspired me to be a good person. (I’d like to think I am.) I love and enjoy life because of these movies. By the way, probably half of them had made me cry.

Without any order or preference, here’s my list:

  • THE 400 BLOWS
  • M
  • IKIRU 
  • RAN 
  • ONCE 
  • GET OUT 
  •  ROMA 

 They ask me, “If you were alone on a deserted island, what movie (book or album) would you take?” I’d answer, “None.” I need at least a hundred, not just one. It’s like asking a mother which of her two children she prefers. (Oh, I forgot about Sophie’s Choice!)

You might say, “Oh, but you missed this one or that one,” I’ll respond, “Yeah, I know, but they belong on your list.”

So, why put a shortlist of my favorite movies on my Facebook page if all my friends disagree with my choices? Why not add a more extended list to my blog and tell the world about my disparate preferences? 

The End


Visalia, CA. 08-14-2012

Se Rentan Nubes

El paisaje no podía ser más horrendo y devastador. La tierra se veía triste y gris y su aridez era muy profunda.

Así era la tierra de mi padre en esos tiempos. La tierra seguía siendo fértil, sólo que esa fertilidad necesitaba agua. Yo tenía cinco años la última vez que vi llover, la mitad de mi vida.

La tristeza era visible en el rostro de mi padre y se comenzaba a parecer a su propia tierra pues ya se le notaban surcos áridos en la frente y alrededor de sus ojos.

Cualquier desierto podría tener más vida. De seguro había desiertos en el mundo con más alegría, tierras áridas pero llenas de orgullo acostumbradas a vivir sin agua. Tierras desintegradas y convertidas por el extremo calor en granos de arena, tierras sin capacidad de crear vida o alimento.

Me daba mucho gusto ver a mi padre feliz, pero su felicidad era cada vez más paulatina y escasa. A veces, antes de irnos a dormir salía de la casa y miraba al cielo esperanzado a que las nubes fueran más sociables y amistosas y que al fin se reunieran a festejar algún milagro. El milagro de la lluvia. Pero al día siguiente la tristeza de mi padre se acumulaba al ver sus tierras aún más desoladas y secas.

El agua comunal ya no existía. El río sólo parecía una vena, vacía y seca, por la cual ya no corría ni una gota de sangre. El río estaba tan muerto como la esperanza misma de las gentes de los alrededores. Algunos vecinos ya se empezaban a ir a las ciudades.

Y yo le rogaba y le imploraba a Dios que nos enviara agua porque me dolía mucho en el corazón ver a mi padre cada vez más triste. Mi padre no se daba cuenta que yo notaba todo, tampoco se fijaba que yo veía que el vaso de agua que tomaba para apagar su insaciable sed no se lo terminaba y le iba a echar el último trago a la plantita que teníamos en mi ventana.

Y yo veía en las noticias como en otras partes del mundo había inundaciones, huracanes y lluvias torrenciales que arrasaban todo a su paso. Y yo le preguntaba a Dios por qué era tan injusto y no repartía sus exageraciones, y por qué no traía un poco de los excesos de allá a las escaseces de acá. Y por qué la gente más pobre era siempre la más afectada en todas las miserias que padecía el mundo.

Pensando en eso fue cuando se me ocurrió que debería haber una forma de juntar las nubes y forzarlas de alguna manera a que soltaran sus aguas en algún lugar específico, no para el placer de sólo ver llover sino para satisfacer el hambre y las necesidades más elementales de la gente del campo. Además mi hermanita de cinco años nunca había visto llover.

Y así me fui a dormir una noche, pensando cómo hacer para traer las lluvias y devolverle la felicidad a mi papá.

Y esa noche soñé con “Nube Mojada”, el jefe apache de la tribu “sinsolnisombra” que me enseñaba la danza de la lluvia. Su poder sobrenatural de atraer las nubes y su fama ya había rebasado fronteras. Las tierras inmensas de su tribu las envidiaba el mismo paraíso celestial. No sé cómo, pero en mi mismo sueño me daba cuenta que estaba soñando, aunque todo se veía auténtico me daba cuenta que todo era irreal. Y eso me obligaba a poner más atención para aprenderme al cien por ciento la danza de la lluvia para aplicarla al día siguiente en las tierras de mi papá.

Pues si me la aprendí, y en la mañana antes de irme a la escuela, antes de bañarme y antes de desayunar ejecuté el baile tan auténticamente como pude. Con una olla y una cuchara traté de imitar el ritmo de los tambores. Todo estaba bien hasta que mi mamá me agarró de la oreja y me metió a la casa, diciendo que me iba a llevar al manicomio si no me comportaba como gente normal.

Por el río no había corrido agua desde hacía tres años, tampoco mi hermanita sabía lo que era un río. Me imagino que si soltaban agua de la presa o del lago, o de donde salía el agua del río, solo alcanzaría a humedecer por unos segundos la tierra tan muerta de sed por tantos años. Estoy seguro que nosotros estábamos a muchos kilómetros de donde sea que nacía el agua. Y cada vez que pasaba por el río vacío, desquebrajado y seco, me acordaba de la tristeza de mi padre.

Un día vi a mi papá con una vara en forma de “Y” caminando incansablemente por todo el rancho. Según el buscando agua subterránea, y lo único que encontró fue una sed inmensa en su garganta. Decepcionado se fue a sentar a la sombra flaca del último árbol vivo que nos quedaba. Tal vez mi padre necesitaba una vara más grande, mucho más grande.

La preocupación de mi papá se me había contagiado. Antes de dormir, mi mente le daba vuelta a mis pensamientos y por horas sólo veía agua dentro de mi cerebro. Una mañana desperté con buenas noticias en la televisión. Habían encontrado la forma de hacer llover. Según esto habían inventado un imán de nubes. Este imán reunía nubes en un par de horas y luego le lanzaban cañonazos o misiles desde la tierra que explotaban sobre las nubes, obligándolas a soltar el agua del susto. Pero todo esto acabó repentinamente cuando empezaron las guerras civiles entre pueblos vecinos, pues reclamaban que les habían robado sus nubes. Y aun así, cada vez aparecían imanes más grandes y poderosos. Hasta que el gobierno los prohibió.

Y por supuesto, yo despertaba de mis sueños fantásticos cada vez más decepcionado. Aunque eso de los imanes me parecía buena idea.

Nuestra preocupación creció cuando el agua para bañarnos ya se consideraba también un desperdicio. En la casa ya no había macetas con plantas vivas. Los perros ya no sacaban la lengua para no sudar, y así ahorraban vueltas a sus recipientes secos.

Por las noches ya no rezaba ni le imploraba a Dios, sino que le reclamaba y le reprochaba sin ningún temor que se bajara de su nube y nos la prestara por tan sólo un rato. Y le recriminaba lo que había aprendido en la escuela: Setenta y uno por ciento de la superficie de la tierra contiene el noventa y siete por ciento del agua en el planeta. Y le preguntaba por qué no la distribuía equitativamente o aunque sea que le quitara la sal al agua del mar y que hiciera un millón de ríos nuevos y luego el calor del sol podría evaporar parte de esta agua y luego esta evaporación se convertiría en nubes y luego en lluvia y luego la lluvia regresaría a los ríos y así sucesivamente, un ciclo bonito e interminable.

Y así, con tanta agua de lluvia, el mundo entero se convertiría en un paraíso terrenal y ya nadie le pediría nada, y el estaría en paz descansando por toda la eternidad, o podría irse a otros universos a crear vida nueva con otro Adán y otra Eva. No creo que eso sea tan complicado para Dios.

Viéndolo bien, nos podríamos mudar a donde hay muchas inundaciones, por lo menos nos desaburriríamos de esta sequedad tan terrible. Mi papá dice que eso está muy complicado y que necesitaríamos por lo menos diez años para adaptarnos a semejante cambio tan drástico. Y yo digo que me gustaría haber nacido en medio del agua. Y yo digo que dentro de diez años vamos a seguir sin agua y sin lluvia. Y él dice que me calle y que no eche la sal.

Ya no quiero dormir, ya no quiero soñar. O bueno siempre si, si quiero soñar. Quiero soñar que amanezco ahogado en un inmenso lago de agua dulce y fresca. Quiero disfrutar más mi felicidad y ver la cara de mi papá sin arrugas y sin surcos. Quiero ver su cara con una sonrisa eterna, que salga a brincar junto conmigo en la lluvia mirando al cielo con nuestras bocas abiertas y recibir el agua dentro de nuestras almas y corazones y dejar que corra por todas nuestras venas. Eso es lo que quiero, soñar y ya no despertar.

Pero vuelvo a despertar. Y creo escuchar que está lloviendo. Pero no me entusiasmo porque sé que estoy soñando. Y escucho a mi papá y a mi hermanita afuera brincando y riendo bajo la lluvia. Y luego mi mamá se acerca a mi cama y me pide la mano y me dice que me levante y vaya a ver cuánta lluvia esta cayendo. Y le contesto que no quiero, porque estoy dormido y estoy soñando.

Hasta que regresa con una cubeta llena de agua y me la vacía sobre la cara. Y entonces si despierto y me levanto y voy a festejar el milagro de la lluvia. Y brincamos todos juntos agarrados de la mano y nos cansamos, pero ya no nos da sed.

Y me voy a dormir y vuelvo a despertar y sigue lloviendo.
Y sigue lloviendo.

The End

© US Copyright Office — Registration Number: TXu 2-367-222 / 05-01-2023

Edmundo Barraza
Written in Lancaster, Ca. 9-1-2014
Posted on WordPress 11-17-2019 — Reposted 3-11-2023


Young and daring freedom-loving fearless punk
Addicted to excesses school, he flunked
Found love early. The free bird also found a cage
Never-ending bliss decreased he then turned to rage

Went to Vegas, risked it all, and lost even the house
Defeated, he returned feeling smaller than a mouse
The pride he also lost but one thing he gained . . . a divorce
He lost his mind and soul. There’s nothing worse

Pawned his ring and bought a gun
Put it against his temple now he’s gone
Better learn a lesson, my son
The simple truth is I’m a bad example. Now I’m in hell
Just concentrate and do the opposite, and you’ll be well

The End

Visalia, CA. 04-05-2012