“Did they turn into wizards? Witches? Vampires? Zombies? Or, are they monsters of unknown origins, their only aim to annihilate their neighboring monsters by gnashing them into delicious morsels with their ridiculously sharp incisors, leaving the planet to stew in the juices and horrific odors of rotten animal flesh, splintered bones, and exposed innards, then kill each other because: (1) they get hungry again and (2) they don't like vegetables?” NO. None of that stuff will be found in this novel.
Saw Here Standing There is not your normal ordinary book to read but it is a kind of book for the generation of today. Through the pages of the book, you will learn and get to know Ryan and Lane, who are regular humans devoid of superpowers, as well as their fellow Filipino-American friends, and how they maneuver through personal challenges while attending their Queens High School. A lot to look forward to as you read the book from kissing (attemp), foul languages, excel academically, play sports, fight, go to parties, eat food, take public transportation, and, most importantly, learn about each other.
The Author and The Wife
I Love that the author of the book Patrick Formanes mentioned during the book launch that It is the longest love letter he had ever written to his wife - the book! Now i have my new additional definition of Romance, I mean i had never known anyone who had done that to their love one not until i met Mr. Patrick Formanes.... his wife, Eileen Formanes is such a lucky one (mushing and twinkling hehehe)
Introduction by Ms. Eileen Formanes
In New York City there were these people, Ryan and Lane. They met in high school, fell in love,
and later married. Yes, to each other.
Saw Here Standing There is available at Fully Booked branches: Alabang Town Center, The Fort BGC, Greenbelt 5, Century Mall, Powerplant Mall & Eastwood Mall.
Through these pages, you will learn about Ryan and Lane, who are regular humans devoid of super powers, as well as their fellow Filipino-American friends, and how they maneuver through personal challenges while attending their Queens high school. Follow them as they play sports, kiss (some attempt more than that), use the foulest language, excel academically (at least most of them), fight, go to parties, eat food, take public transportation, and, most importantly, learn about each other.
Initially published, December 2014. Revised, July 2016
Young Adult/New Adult
Age: 15+ (High school and above)
He married his high school sweetheart and they have two daughters.
"Eto ang pinakamahabang love letter na sinulat nya para sa akin." ~Mrs. Eileen Formanes
The author, a first-generation Filipino-American, was born and raised in New York City to immigrant parents and has one brother.
He attended New York University and majored in Journalism. He proceeded to work in the field of publishing for over 14 years before writing and completing his first novel, Saw Her Standing There.
He currently lives in NYC, dividing his time unevenly. If depicted on a pie chart (one will not be provided here), the largest chunk (99.8%) would show the amount of time he spends with his family. Other multi-colored slivers (the remaining 0.2%) would consist of: rooting for the New York Mets, improving his guitar playing, pestering his brother about stickball, and playing tennis.
Today and a Week Later
“It’s not going to stop! Ever!”
From the second-floor, living room window of the one-bedroom apartment Lane shares with her
fiancé, Ryan, in the New York City borough of Queens, this Filipino-American couple watch thick snowflakes
fall and pack on the approximately three inches of snow on the ground.
“Look at all of this snow!” she continues, tucking her straight, shoulder-length black hair behind her
ears while looking at the courtyard. “Why is it snowing? It’s March! Spring started 12 hours ago! What are we
going to do if there’s a blizzard next week? Our wedding could be cancelled!”
“I don’t know,” he says, slowly shaking his head and running his hands through his closely cropped,
black hair. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. This whole thing is so awful…I don’t know what to do.”
Jumping high off the love seat he’s sitting on, his feet creating a thud when they hit the floor. “We have to do
something to defeat the snow!”
“A flamethrower! Snow evaporates when exposed to fire!”
“But, alas, we cannot! It’s too expensive because we’d have to get more than one! We’d have to arm the
entire wedding party! And, if we did that, how would we get married if we were all standing in front of the
church shooting flames into the air? The police would show up and arrest us for filling the sky with fire! We have
no other options! That’s it! We’re going to die!!”
Lane sits down and calmly watches him run around the coffee table, screaming, “Hot chocolate! French
fries! Porridge! And, now, our wedding! They’re all horrible when they’re too cold!”
He plops down next to her after finishing the second lap, sporting a cartoonish grin so grand his molars
can be seen.
“Are you finished?” Lane asks.
“Are you finished?”
“Oh, come on, Ryan. You can’t blame me for having a mild-to-moderate freak-out about this.”
“No, I guess I can’t,” he says, placing his right arm across her shoulders. “However, you do know that if
it does snow next week, it wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
“In what way?” she asks, her head resting on his chest.
“Come on. Remember? What was happening when we started? I know you know the answer to this.”
“It was snowing,” she says, her tone softening momentarily. “It wasn’t snowing like this! On the other
hand, I guess a little snow wouldn’t hurt. It might even be a little romantic,” she says, pointing at the scene
through the window. “But, I wouldn’t know what to do if a blizzard showed up next week.”
Instead of discussing how destructive the snow would be, why don’t they just go outside and enjoy it?
They should embrace the new snow. Maybe they could build a snowman. That would be therapeutic. They could
even think about how the snow is good for the reservoirs in upstate New York, which supplies potable water to
the city. Weather forecasters on the local news regularly remind viewers not to waste water, thereby preventing
water levels in the reservoirs from dropping to lower than normal. All this snow is a good thing for everybody in
Their wedding is in seven days and the prospect of it being snowed out is there. Several times in their
lives they had seen heavy snowfall on consecutive weekends. They know a blizzard next week isn’t inconceivable.
The preparation for the wedding – and especially for the reception that follows – consisted of nearly two years
of saving money (because they covered nearly all of the cost) and rehearsals for the first dance that they’d share
with their wedding party.
Would there be clues of what would come? The snow slowly tapers off shortly before midnight and
stops at 4 a.m. the next day, leaving behind less than seven inches sitting on the city. Monday morning comes
with a steady, driving rain. It isn’t the sign they’d been hoping for. And, the effect the rain has – street flooding in
some areas as well as lots of slushy ponds dotting sidewalks – saps them of more optimism. Sloshing through
the morning rush hour with other drenched commuters isn’t helping.
Standing in a crowded F train rumbling into Manhattan and involuntarily inhaling the scent of other
waterlogged coats, they didn’t consider the advantage the rain would afford them: some – hopefully all – of the
snow melting. More help comes courtesy of the weather from Tuesday to Friday as the sun bakes the city while
the temperature stays at least 15 degrees above freezing and the evenings stay relatively warm.
Still, the experience of a week of unusually nice weather at the end of a northeastern winter that
dropped plenty of snow didn’t do enough to calm some nerves. “I know the forecast for tomorrow is supposed
to be sunny and warm,” the jittery bride-to-be alerts their wedding party during the rehearsal dinner toast. “But,
in case it snows like it did last week, I’m going out there in my gown, shoveling snow, and spreading rock salt on
“I’ll be doing the same,” Ryan adds, “sadly, without the gown.”
Saturday has arrived and the forecast is holding up – cloudless skies and a balmy 70 degrees. Are there
going to be any other surprises?
Well, it is a wedding. Some things, big or small, will go wrong.
The two limousines transporting the couple (not in the same vehicle, of course), immediate family, and
the wedding party to the church remains parked by the side of the building for nearly 15 minutes because a
memorial service in the church’s chapel is running late. Church officials didn’t think it would be appropriate for
the well-wishers to walk happily to the wedding while mourners walk out of the chapel less than 20 feet away.
The echo caused by the building’s open floor plan, its marble floors and 40-foot-high ceiling, as well as
the repeated rumble and clang of multiple trains on the 7 line outside (and seemingly above) the church, is
presenting some sonic difficulties to the expensive, rookie videographer and his crew. Although they attended the
rehearsal last night to get more familiar with the surroundings, they tell the couple that today they’ll do what they
can to make sure everything will run smoothly. “Don’t worry. These guys are the best,” the videographer says.
Additionally, the photographer misplaces the special black-and-white rolls of film. “I could still take
color photos,” he tells the disappointed couple. But, when the groom’s father overhears this, he seeks out the
photographer in the church’s lobby minutes before the ceremony. “Color photos?” he growls. “I could take color
photos!” After more grousing from both men, they reach an agreement that won’t interrupt the ceremony: the
photographer will work at a reduced rate and the groom’s father agrees that he won’t “kick his ass up and down
Some people involved in this ceremony had taken part in other weddings and experienced the stress
leading up to the wedding day; the feeling in this one is no different. The additional expenses that went to hire an
ambitious student filmmaker and three of his friends from the Film Institute of New York on their first
freelance assignment and an allegedly prepared photographer are necessary tools to document the knot-tying of
a thread that started many years ago. Naturally, the ceremony starts late because of the church’s unwillingness to
let them in, there are problems with the photos, and with the sound for the video…maybe there will be more
problems that await them three hours from now at the reception in Long Island. Judging from their reaction to
last week’s snowfall, these new snags are likely weighing heavily on the couple.
“So,” Ryan whispers to Lane while they kneel at the altar, “was the movie better than the book?”
“There were things in the book that should’ve been in the movie,” she whispers through an intricately
laced veil. “Without them, the movie didn’t turn out that good.”
“You see? All that reading you do is ruining your movie-watching experience,” he says, shaking his head
in disapproval. Shifting slightly in his Barong Tagalog – a traditional Filipino wedding shirt for males made from
piña (pineapple) fabric – because it seems to move independently from the white t-shirt underneath.
“Hey, I like reading. I’m not like you,” she says with a light defensive tone, gently tugging on the train of
her wedding gown that nearly reaches the first pew 15 feet behind them.
“You don’t like all reading. I know that much.”
“That’s because reading documents isn’t fun,” she says, referring to her job as a human resources
generalist. “But, reading fun things for fun is fun,” she says, giggling at the absurdity of that statement. “That’s
why when I’m not at work, I’m still reading.”
“Well said,” he says, chuckling. “But, that’s my point, you know? After seeing how reading ruins parts of
your life that are supposed to be enjoyable, why would I give myself that kind of hassle?”
“Good point. I guess that’s why you work in publishing. To get away from doing reading of any kind, I
guess,” she says. A smirk sneaks out from the right side of her mouth and punctuates her sarcasm.
“I save these eyes for the job. That’s where the money is,” he says, referring to his job as a proofreader.
“Seriously, though, I wouldn’t even have a job like that if it wasn’t for you helping me realize that I did have
some writing skill.”
Lane sees Ryan lean in for a kiss. She smiles and moves closer but is interrupted by her veil. Halfway to
moving it out of the way, her maid-of-honor’s voice comes from the left of the altar. “Guys, stop it,” Serena says
in a loud whisper.
She places the veil back down and exchanges giggles with the groom. Having been shushed by her maidof-honor,
they look at the priest, who is conducting a truncated service because of the late start. The church also
instructed them that the mass that follows is to start as scheduled.
“Is it OK that the ceremony’s shortened?” Lane asks Ryan.
“As long as I get permission from the State of New York to kiss you, I don’t really care how long or
short it is.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Ryan notices that Lane leaning in and keenly listening to the priest in front of them. He taps her on her
right elbow to distract her. “Don’t worry about it. He said he would let us know when we’re supposed to do
Lane looks at Ryan’s wrists to see if he is wearing cufflinks. He is, but also sees the watch on his left
“Why are you wearing your watch?”
“Why shouldn’t I?”
“What if I needed to know the time? Hmmm? You’re always asking me for it even though you’re also
wearing a watch. Are you wearing yours right now?” he asks, looking at her left wrist.
“No, because it doesn’t match my gown,” she says, exposing her left wrist.
Ryan looks at the wedding party seated in two long, mahogany pews that flank the altar – the
bridesmaids to the left, groomsmen to the right – and leans over to the bride. “The guys look a little nervous,” he
says. “They look like they’re the ones getting married instead of us.”
“They should relax a bit,” she says with a giggle.
“I have a straw in my pocket. Maybe we can blow spitballs at them.”
“Stop it,” she says with another giggle, gently nudging the groom with her right elbow. “Why do you
have a straw in your pocket?”
“For drinking, of course,” he says with overstated effect. “Blowing spitballs is another option.”
Another glance at the group, composed of lifelong friends or close relatives, leaves her nostalgic. “If it
wasn’t for their help, today wouldn’t be possible.”
Just as Ryan is about to look away from the groomsmen, he sees his best man, Tomas, reach into the left
pocket of his black pants and pulling out a fistful of silver coins.
“Hey,” Ryan says, gently nudging Lane, “are we going to the arcade?”
“What? No, of course not. Why?”
He covertly points to the right with his left hand. “Look at how many quarters Tomas is holding.”
“Those aren’t quarters; they’re silver dollars. You know that. You also know that they’re part of the
ceremony,” she says, referring to the arras, which, in this case, consists of 13 coins to be presented to the bride
from the groom in a silk pouch.
“Are you sure that the coins are a part of the ceremony?” Ryan asks. “You’re not just trying to throw me
off and then surprise me with going to the arcade before the reception, are you?”
“Do you think going to the arcade before the ceremony makes sense?”
“It could,” he says with a hopeful smile.
He refocuses his attention on Tomas. The best man uses his right thumb to clumsily flip a coin, causing
two neighboring ones to drop. Panicking, he quickly moves to the right. Reaching for the fallen coins, he drops
three more. With all the jerky movements, all but one eventually spill to the marble floor, careening in various
directions. Some are accidentally kicked as far as ten feet away, close to the groomsmen’s pew where Sam and
Odor are seated. (Maria, Ryan’s lone female best friend, insisted on being a bridesmaid, joining Lane’s other
female best friend, Daisy.) Rob, another of Lane’s close friends, leaves his seat next to Sam to help.
The priest sees the commotion to his left and stops mid-sentence because corralling the runaway coins
turns into a cacophony of grunts when Sam and Odor join in, creating a bigger fray. They hastily try to pick up
the money, but some drop them, and others run around causing loud screeching from the rubber soles of their
dress shoes. Odor even stomps on some, creating even more noise.
Throughout the episode, the about-to-be-married couple tries mightily to control their laughter. “You’re
right,” Ryan says while the red tint that formed on Tomas’s face when he first dropped the coins grows darker.
“They’re completely responsible.”
The Beginning: Juniors
One Saturday in October, eight years earlier, was the first in several not to feature rain in any form. It
was a crisp evening in the city and nightfall transformed what was a cool afternoon breeze into a chilly, brisk
Three 16-year-old friends in the Martinez household on York Street in Jamaica, Queens – a large,
working-class neighborhood in the central part of the borough – prepared to take advantage of the welcome
change in the weather. Instead of leaving on time, however, they were forced to wait for the fourth member of
“What is he doing?” Lane Morales asked, leaning on one arm of the living room couch. “We’re going to
miss the movie.”
“Rob! Let’s go!” Serena Reyes yelled upstairs. “We should’ve left 15 minutes ago,” she said to Daisy
Roberto Martinez closed his bedroom door and ran downstairs. “Let’s go. I’m ready,” he said, standing
on the last step, creating the illusion that added more inches to his six-foot frame.
“Finally,” Daisy mumbled from the living room couch.
Rob stepped down to the landing but stopped when Lane stepped in front of him. “Hold on,” she said,
her right hand on his chest. “Didn’t you say you had to go back upstairs to change?”
“But, you’re wearing the same thing as before.”
“On the outside. I’m wearing a different t-shirt,” he said, retrieving his boots by Daisy’s feet.
“It took you 20 minutes to pick out a t-shirt?” Serena asked.
“So, we might miss the movie,” Serena said.
“No, we’re not,” Rob said, tightening the laces of his favorite black, work boots.
“We might,” Daisy said. “You know that we always leave a little early because we have to get the
popcorn and stuff. And, I don’t like missing the movie trailers. You know that’s how we do things, Rob.”
“Sorry,” Rob said. “I just couldn’t go out with the t-shirt I had on. It had a really dirty neck hole. The
one I have on now is less dirty.”
“Ugh,” blurted the impatient trio.
As they slipped their coats on, Rob’s father, Raul, walked to the coat closet by the front door and took
his brown overcoat off its hanger. “Do you need any money for the movies?” he asked his son in accented
English that had changed little since emigrating from the Philippines 25 years earlier.
“No, thanks. I have enough.”
“We should be home late from the reunion,” Raul said, adjusting the scarf that hung loosely from
around his neck.
“Is it a high school reunion?” Daisy asked.
“No, we all worked in the same accounting firm in the Philippines,” Raul said. “Many of us moved to
America after leaving the company.”
“Would you go to our high school reunion?” Rob asked the girls about Gibson High School, one of
nine public high schools in the neighborhood where they were juniors.
“Of course,” Daisy said. “Only if you guys are going to be there.”
“And, if they’re not going to have it in the 3rd Floor cafeteria,” Lane added.
“Yup,” Serena said.
“Isn’t mom going with you?” Rob asked his father.
“No, I’m bringing someone else,” Raul joked.
“I was just kidding, Roberto,” Raul said. “I’m going to be picked up by an old friend – Roberto’s Tito
Gus – and we’re going to pick your mom up at 179,” he said, referring to the terminus of the F train line at 179th
Street and Hillside Avenue, less than five minutes away by car. “Do you remember your Tito Gus?” he asked.
“Don’t think so,” Rob said, trying to maneuver his thick sweater inside his coat.
“It’s probably because he last saw you when you were a little boy,” Raul said. “He’s also going to the
reunion and offered to give us a ride.”
Deep in the coat closet, Rob searched for his brown scarf when a loud chime rang out above the front
“That must be him,” Raul said, pulling the door open. A man, about the same height and wearing a
similar overcoat, stood outside. It had been seven years since he’d last seen Gustavo “Gus” Fernandez, a fellow
accountant he’d known for nearly 30 years.
Raul motioned with his left hand for his son to come outside. Rob stood next to his father and Raul
reached high with his left hand, nearly above his head, and placed it on his son’s right shoulder. “Roberto, say
‘hello’ to your Tito Gus.”
Rob extended his right hand. “Hello, to your Tito Gus.”
“Roberto,” Gus said, smiling while they shook hands. He stepped back and marveled at how tall he was.
“The last time I saw you,” he said in accented English similar to Raul’s, “you were this little,” holding his right
hand parallel to the ground three inches above his waist. “How are you?”
“I’m fine. Thanks.”
“You’re so tall now. Wow,” Gus told Raul while Rob looked on awkwardly.
“And he keeps growing,” Raul said. “He eats and just keeps growing.”
Rob hastily waved the others outside. “And these are my friends, Tito Gus: Serena, Lane, and Daisy.
Guys, this is Tito Gus.” Daisy closed the screen door after she walked outside.
“Nice to meet you,” they said, waving.
“Same here,” Gus said.
Following a minute of small talk on the stoop, Gus walked down a brick-bordered path to the curb
where he parked his car. “Roberto, be home by 10,” Raul said, interrupting his walk to the car. “And, of course,
you’re all welcome to hang out back here after the movie,” he told the girls.
“Thanks, Tito,” Lane said.
“Have a good time,” Raul told his son.
Watching his dad and Tito Gus start their walk down the path, Rob overheard his dad speak Tagalog,
which he didn’t comprehend well. Lane, however, spoke it fluently. “What did my dad say?”
Lane tried but was only able to catch a fraction of their conversation because they were several yards
away. “He said something about somebody named Abby. Do you know an Abby?”
The duo saw them reach a black four-door sedan and a woman exited the passenger-side door in front.
“I think Abby is Tito Gus’s wife,” Rob said, seeing them laugh, hug, and speak loudly.
The Beginning: Seniors
On the same night several miles to the west in Middle Village, Queens, two 17-year-old friends were
engaged in a kind of wrestling match inside a one-car garage on McReynolds Place while a third 17-year-old
looked on in agonized boredom. Amidst the clutter of various home and garden supplies, the match was
broadcast through a 20-watt guitar amplifier.
Torrents of guitar feedback, caused by loud, distorted volume coming from the amp, filled the garage.
Sam Delacruz and Ryan Fernandez stood in the middle of the garage holding electric guitars, its straps slung
across their chests. They stood motionless, their right hands – which were violently manipulating the tremolo
bars on their guitars, creating different screeches and howls – were the only parts moving.
Not everyone was enamored with the noise. That message was sent when a pair of drumsticks smacked
into their backs. They turned around and stared at the drummer.
“Odor,” Sam said. “What the fuck?”
Behind the shiny, black five-piece drum kit, Theodor Chang (known to his friends as “The Odor” or
“Odor”) sat on the drum stool and shook his head. “You guys were doing that for so long that I forgot what we
Ryan adjusted the brown guitar strap on his guitar. “We were only doing that for a couple of seconds. It
was the ‘big finish’.”
“No, that was the part we were supposed to do the duel guitar solo,” Sam said.
“But, if we both do it, is it really a solo?” Ryan asked. “Doesn’t ‘solo’ mean ‘alone’?”
“Hey!” Odor yelled. “Whatever it was, it went on for at least a couple of minutes.”
Sam removed his guitar and gently leaned it against the tool bench. “OK, but, what did you think of it?
We played an E chord and had it feedback for more than two minutes.”
“That’s the length of an entire song!” Ryan exclaimed.
“We wrote our first song!” Sam yelled with equal delight.
Ryan and Sam jumped and hugged, but not simultaneously, narrowly escaping injury and an accidental
kiss. “It’s not our first song because it’s not even a song,” Odor said.
Sam picked up the drumsticks by his feet and walked them back to Odor. Before handing them back, he
smashed the sticks on the kit’s only crash cymbal. “Why can’t it be a song?”
Odor grabbed the cymbal, muting its vibrations. “Because it doesn’t have any words or anything that
would make it sound like a song.”
“Jacob has an album of this guy who did a whole album that was only guitar feedback,” Sam said,
referencing his 20-year-old brother’s eclectic collection of guitar-based music.
“That’s whoever that guy is,” the drummer said, receiving the sticks from Sam. “I’m sure it’s awesome
and everything. But, aside from making guitar noise, I’m sure he’s a pretty good player, too, right?”
“Yeah,” Sam said. “I suppose.”
“Well, that’s my point,” Odor said, walking out from behind the kit to join the others by the amplifier.
“Let’s learn how to play our instruments first.”
“Then we can act like we can’t play,” Ryan added.
They turned around when the side door opened and Sam’s older brother, Jacob, walked in. “Hey, Jake,”
Odor and Ryan said, calling him by his favored, abbreviated name.
“Guys,” Jacob said, reaching them after sidestepping the cords on the floor, “Mom and Dad said that it’s
time to stop.”
“What time is it?” Ryan asked, looking at the clock on the wall behind him. “Wow, eight o’clock already?
We’ve been playing for, like, three hours.”
“That’s probably why they told me to tell you guys to stop,” Jacob said, picking up Sam’s guitar. His
expertise and dexterity were obvious, ably playing a song from his record collection that his brother recognized.
“So,” he said, scanning it from its neck to the body, “how often do these things go out of tune?”
“That’s the beauty part,” Sam said. “We don’t know how to play that well so we don’t know if we’re in
tune or not. We’d probably be better if we had instruments that stayed in tune better,” he said, grinning
“I know you’re not talking about my guitar because that shit’s not going to happen,” Jacob said about his
1973 Gretsch Country Gentleman.
“Whatever,” Sam mumbled.
“It’s not ‘whatever’,” Jacob said, turning the amp off.
“You’re just sensitive because it was your graduation present.”
“That was your gift?” Ryan asked.
“Actually, it was a combination gift. It was for graduating from high school and for getting into
Columbia,” Jacob said, mentioning the city’s lone Ivy League university where he was a sophomore. “My parents
were really happy about the second part.”
“If I got into Columbia,” Ryan said, “I think my parents would pass out.”
“Or your dad would say, ‘I guess Columbia’s really lowered their standards,” Odor said, laughing.
“Yeah, you’re right! He would!” Ryan yelled, laughing loudly.
While Odor and Ryan playfully shoved each other, Jacob looked closer at Ryan’s guitar, a replica of a
1982 Fender Stratocaster. “Ryan, where did you buy this?” he asked.
“It used to belong to my Tito Manny’s friend. He bought it at a five-and-dime up in Canada. Go ahead
and try it out.”
Naturally, the edict that the boys quiet down because of the late hour was ignored. Jacob inspected the
boys’ guitars, tinkering with their tuning and the amp with Odor occasionally accompanying him on drums – at
least when he wasn’t wrestling with Ryan and Sam.
The volume on the various activities elevated for the next ten minutes until it was interrupted by a
familiar authoritative voice filling the garage. “Boys!” the voice yelped. “Jacob,” their father, Carlos said, standing
in the doorway with his hands tucked in the pockets of his brown slacks. “Did I not tell you – and to tell your
brother as well – that it was already too late in the evening to be making all this noise?”
Jacob quickly placed Ryan’s guitar next to Sam’s. “Yes, sir, you did. And, I did tell him.”
Carlos walked into the garage and followed the same path that Jacob walked earlier. “And, yet, I still
heard noise. The message didn’t seem to get through. Would that be the fault of the messenger or the receiver?”
The others watched the two brothers stand silently and seemingly will the other’s head to explode. “Tito
Carlos,” Ryan finally said. “It was my fault.”
“And why is that, Ryan?”
“I…I was telling Jacob about something dumb that Sam did,” Ryan said. “And, Sam told me that Jacob
did something dumber than that. Then, Jacob argued that Sam was dumber. After that, it turned into a contest
on…which one was dumber…sir. That’s it.”
“Unfortunately,” Carlos said, frowning, “these two make it difficult for me to decide, as well. I don’t
know. For example, I told one to tell the other to keep it down and the opposite occurred. I don’t know why you
guys don’t listen,” he told his sons. “I don’t…hey! Ryan, is that an early ’80s Strat?”
“Actually, it’s a copy of one,” Ryan said.
“Yes, I do know a thing or two about these things,” Carlos said, picking it up and strumming it with his
right thumb. “We wanted to get Jacob a replacement for his only guitar, the one that we bought at a guitar shop
that closed a long time ago. You still have that, Jacob?”
“Of course, it’s in my room. Still plays well.”
“Finding that guitar for the right price required a bit of research, I assure you. And, it was during my
research,” Carlos said, slipping on the strap, “that I learned to play a little as well.”
The Delacruz boys, fully aware of their father’s limited ability, looked at each other. “Dad, you just asked
us to stop,” the younger son said. “Maybe you shouldn’t make any noise, either.”
“Nonsense,” Carlos said. “I don’t make noise. Noise is that horrific caterwauling that you boys were
“That’s what we were going for,” Ryan proudly said.
“That’s noise. I play music,” Carlos said, the guitar’s strap secured on his back. “Come on, Ryan! Turn on
Carlos didn’t even wait for Ryan to flick the switch as he was already enthusiastically playing the riff to
The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. When it clicked on, the dissonant notes filled the garage
while his sons looked at the floor. Ryan and Odor, meanwhile, bobbed their heads in unison while the elder
Delacruz exhibited his best guitar face, pinching his eyes shut and wrinkling his cheeks.
“Let’s crank this thing, guys! Louder!”
“Yes, sir!” Ryan yelled. Odor, meanwhile, ran back to his drum stool and picked his sticks off the snare
“Jacob, why don’t you join me?” Carlos asked.
“I don’t like this song!” he whined over the din.
“Don’t be silly! This song’s a classic! Besides, I don’t know any other songs!” he yelled, attempting to
keep time with Odor, who was trying to keep time with him. The result was a version so wobbly that motion
sickness was sure to follow.
Ryan joined them when another familiar voice rose above the noise. “Carlos!”
“Hi, Mom!” Jacob and Sam yelled.
Sonia stood in the doorway, fingers curling out the sleeves of her black windbreaker. “Carlos…”
“Time for you boys to go home,” Carlos quickly said, carefully placing the guitar against the amp after
Ryan turned it off. “I was just telling them that it was time to go,” he told her.
“I’m sure you were,” she said. “Theodor? Ryan?” she asked the boys while they packed up their
belongings. “Say ‘hi’ to your mothers for me, would you?”
“No problem, Tita Sonia,” Odor said.
“I will,” Ryan said. “Have a good night.”
“You, too,” Sonia said on her way back to the house.
“Boys,” Carlos said to Odor and Ryan, “would you like Jacob to take you home?”
“Sure, if it’s not too much trouble,” Odor said.
“Yeah,” Ryan said.
“It isn’t,” Carlos said before his son could make a decision. Reaching into his left pants pocket, he
handed the car keys to Jacob. “Take them to their homes, return your brother here, and then you can have the
“OK,” Jacob smiled, dipping the keys in his right pocket.
Carlos fished in his right pocket to retrieve money, but grabbed tiny lint balls instead. After a brief pat
down, he reached in the breast pocket of his shirt with his left hand and pulled the bills out. “Also, before you
come home,” he said, handing him two ten dollar bills.
“At 3 am?” Jacob asked.
“One,” Carlos countered. “Before you come back, please put gas in the car?” Halfway to the door, he
stopped. “One more thing: if your brother wants to drive, let him.”
“What? Why?” Jacob asked.
“Yes!” Sam exclaimed, pumping his right fist.
“But, there is a provision,” Carlos said. “I’m aware of all the scratches and miniscule indentations that
are currently on the car. And, before the thought becomes fully formed in your head, Sam, I’m not singling you
out. I’m very aware that both of you have been regular contributors. This has quickly become tiresome. So, if I
look at the car tomorrow and find new ones, I’ll know how they got there. Understand?”
“Yes, sir,” they said. “But, what happens if we get into an accident and the car is wrecked and we get
horribly injured?” Sam asked with a slight pout.
Ryan and Odor looked at each other with their eyebrows wrinkled. Jacob scowled and shook his head
“Well,” Carlos said, hands in pockets. “Your mother and I would be very concerned if either – or both –
of you were in an accident. But, if it was determined that it was caused by your recklessness, you’d be dealt with
severely and your prized belongings become my prized belongings. Clear?”
“Yes, sir. More questions, Sam?” Jacob asked, leering at his brother.
“No, I think that about covered it.”
“Uh, thanks, Tito Carlos,” Odor said after three seconds of uncomfortable silence.
“Yeah, thanks, sir,” Ryan said.
“No problem, boys,” Carlos said. “Please say, ‘hello,’ to your parents. We hope to see them soon.”
“We’ll do,” Ryan said.