Our main character, Geanie, has been assigned to work in flood relief by the volunteer organization in Bolivia. The 2nd excerpt of the novel “Immigrant Juggler”:
The surrounding devastation put us in a somber mood. Flat-bed trucks with wheels large enough to not get sucked down into the muck held all the supplies. There we found yellow rubber boots which came up to our knees. We put on florescent orange vests and hard hats. The stench of rotting garbage, swamp like sludge, and decaying flesh made me grateful for the bandana I had tied around my neck. I slipped the purple paisley patterned cloth over my nose and grabbed a shovel.
After a couple hours of shoveling gook out of houses and stores I wished for some gloves. I headed back over to the truck to see if anyone had turned in any. They had run out before. I concentrated on the oversized boots as they threatened to stay behind with every step I took. On my way over I felt a tap on my thigh. I turned and looked down expecting to see a child.
Instead a leathery face looked up at me. The wrinkles carved lines of worry and lines of joy. Her lips curved up in a permanent smile yet the corners of her eyes pulled down giving the sense of a person who smiled out of force of habit to hide her true feelings. The cataract eyes clouded under a squint. She craned her neck to look up at me. A brimmed hat, painted white, with a black accent ribbon tied on it, sat pinned on her head. Two long, salt and pepper braids hung down her back fastened together at the ends with a brown piece of yarn. She wore a layered skirt and a button up, capped sleeve, shirt. Her legs matched the color of the mud so I couldn’t tell where she started and the sucking dirt ended.
“What pretty blue eyes you have,” the aged woman said with a strained voice and a Spanish accent I did not recognize.
One of her thin hands clenched a walking stick, also connected to the grime below. The other hand she used to touch my thigh. Because of her crooked back the raised hand, cupped to the sky, reached no higher than her chest.
The stoic eyes spoke, matching the begging words coming from her pale lips, “Give me a coin. With eyes as kind and blue as yours you cannot say no to me. Give me a coin.” She again tapped my thigh with her stick like fingers.
I rested the shovel against my shoulder. Painfully I put my hands with the pink, broken flesh into my pocket searching for some money. My spoiled fingers touched on some cool, smooth coins. I pulled a few out and placed them into the cup shaped hand.
She bobbled her head in thanks and began the trudge to the next worker. I grasped the shovel once again as pain shot through the open wounds. I flinched yet held tight.