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Caonabo at the Resort


You may not know me, but you will judge me. I know, looking back at my life and this moment many years ago, that I have done the right thing. But, regardless, you will judge me. I am certain of this.

I am the proud owner of a textile factory in Newark. It’s a four-story structure built in the early twentieth century and in need of some mild repairs, but still a well-respected place to operate a business. I paid over a million dollars for this building, something I never would have thought possible when I lived in The Dominican Republic, scraping together enough just to take a bus or buy food that would only last me about five days. But here I am, the proud owner of a maquiladora. Who would’ve thought? Makes you want to slap those fools who keep telling everyone the American dream is dead. Pendejos don’t even know what life is like in some countries, where the Value Added Tax on a soft drink is more than what an American pays for a gallon of milk and a package of medium roast coffee. It’s expensive to live in the developing world. The average American could never afford it.

I have over a hundred employees. I’ve got a couple of contracts with several designers who have presented at prestigious fashion shows in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and New York. One of my clients just came back from Shanghai Fashion Week, where he sealed a deal with a European purchaser who bought up an entire collection and committed to a five-year distribution agreement in Luxembourg, Belgium, and France. I’m the real deal, homie, don’t get it twisted. It’s one thing to produce for gaudy New Yorkers, but it’s a whole other game to have your textiles worn by the descendants of Flemish royalty and the same people who ran out of Paris when Marie and Louis were reduced to a couple of heads in a wicker basket.

Most people raise eyebrows when they find out the production was a New Jersey export. I don’t blame them; a lot of people lack a historical understanding of the fashion industry. Although you may not know this, New Jersey was once a textile powerhouse. Just under an hour from my plant, maybe less if you drive like my husband, Paterson boasted a world-famous silk garment industry. But this was many decades ago, before the riots and globalization, before white flight and defunded school systems, before New York became unaffordable for Black and Brown people, and houses in Jersey City started selling for over a million dollars. It is now, for lack of a better description but with puro amor for the wonderful people who live there, a victim of urban decay, police corruption, and people who either just recently began their American story or those who long ago abandoned it. The opioid crisis has hit this place hard, brother, like Pookie from New Jack hard, know what I mean?

My company, Maguátex, is preparing for my label’s debut at Paris Fashion Week, an accomplishment that has taken years, something that in my youth was almost impossible to imagine, something that once seemed as likely to happen as my husband not curling his socks up and leaving them on the living room couch after coming home from his law firm on Ferry Street or a Catholic not having a panic attack every time they find themselves spending too much time on a Pornhub search crawl. Pero, tú me entiendes, right? This, and by thisI mean the America you are familiar with, is not the world I was born into. And for this, I gather, you will judge me as well, as a thief, perhaps, or as a man dealt an unfair and unearned fortune, a future that could have been woven in a very different pattern, with threads so fragile they would have come apart if someone rubbed them together with their fingers, not harshly, but lightly, just enough to feel the pressure of the index rubbing the cloth above the thumb, enough to destroy the threads that carry a person’s life and whatever comes after.

But it depends, I suppose. Maybe you’ll accept me as someone who belongs here, or maybe you’ll think I never should have come to your version of America. But, in all fairness, I could give a rat’s culo if you don’t want me here. Cristoforo Colombo shouldn’t have been here either. He was looking for India and accidentally stumbled upon an entire civilization of Tainos who thought he had dog hair and a weird nose. The first illegal immigrant has a whole holiday named after him. This entire continent is named after another illegal immigrant who liked to draw maps when he wasn’t hurling babies into pits of fire or putting women and children to work the gold mines that Spain needed to pay off the debt that it had accumulated due to piss-poor financial planning. America, the entire continent, is an homage to the spirit of the illegal immigrant.

Hombre, como pasa el tiempo. Coño, I’ve spent the past two weeks slicing my fingertips while working on a design that took me years to perfect. It’s a method in which I impregnate expensive stones into a cotton with an unearthly thread count, something only seen in India, and never quite done right since the 18th century. I’ve been toying with this cloth since I learned Josephine Bonaparte raided an Indian warehouse and bought up all the Dhaka muslin she could get her grubby little hands on. Since I suffer from an extreme case of dermatitis and my fingers are already flaked and ugly enough to substantiate a medical diagnosis, I might as well destroy the tips some more while I work on the design that made me famous. I have become the first Dominican since Oscar de La Renta to enthrall and explode into the world of haute couture with the same fierce enthusiasm as my Santo Domingo compatriot. He did it designing for the children of American ambassadors in Spain. I did it breaking stones and punishing my hands from the fourth floor of a turn-of-the-century factory in New Jersey.

My name is Caonabo. In the late 1990s, I was a young man at a resort in Punta Cana. Perhaps you have been to the city, and maybe even to the same resort where I used to work twelve-hour shifts, seven days a week, for four years of my young, adult life. I had moved from a small town, Cotui, in the Cibao region, and I was dating Carlos, a bartender. He had thick curls that fell to his shoulders and big, bright teeth that took up half his face when he smiled. My job was to clean the restaurants at the all-inclusive and prepare them for the following day. I spent all afternoon and a good part of my evening cleaning up after guests, mostly Americans and Canadians, although the occasional Russian and South American made an appearance as well. I was often scrubbing the floor, picking up trash, throwing away the half-eaten food they left behind, or the napkins with vomit and boogers that we often found lying around in the bathroom or on the lobby floor.

Carlos used to tell me that the Americans were good people with large wallets but empty skulls. I often wondered what their lives were like, where they went to school, how they went about their days when they weren’t passing out by the pool, jerking their arms and legs around on our dancefloors, or trying to sleep with the young women who worked at the resort many of whom were single mothers trying to put together enough money to buy a small house back in their hometown. I didn’t envy them, the tourists. My grandmother once taught me that we should not envy others because everyone’s life sucks and you should be happy with the lot that God has given you.

“You could have been born much worse, Caonabo; you could have been born without a mouth, a blank, faceless thing, unable to scream or laugh,” she once said to me.

I never once felt anger or hatred for the circumstances in our society that divvy people up like Uno cards. Some are dealt shit numbers, and others are blessed with a hand that allows them to skip turns, force people to take more cards, or get lucky and end up with the ability to turn everything upside down and invite complete chaos into the world around them. And, as abuela had pointed out, I could have been born with no mouth, desperately trying to scream at the nothingness, begging on the street, dancing like a marionette in downtown Quito or Medellin, hand out in front of white people with backpacks so big it looks like they stuffed a human body in there and carried it around as a mummy offered to their North American gods. Quién sabe? They’re all out there in the third world thinking they’re romancing the stone or looking for legends of the hidden temple or some elephant pants and Panama hat bullshit they’ve bought into to justify the strange shit they bought two weeks before boarding a flight on Spirit Airlines.

“In America, they give you credit cards, even if you can’t pay them off. They just throw them at you. You can’t say no. They make you use them. It’s, like, how they measure their entire economy. My cousin gets a new credit card in the mail every week. They’re piled up on a desk in his kitchen. He’s like thirty-thousand dollars in debt,” Carlos said.

“Dios mío! How do they keep up with all the credit cards?”

“I don’t know. They just do. Somehow it works. Everyone’s rich and everyone’s in debt. They say that’s what we have to do here in the DR. Imagine that! If you gave a credit card to every Dominican once a week, this island would probably empty out. It would just be Haitians and gringos. No one would be left to cook the mangú at the resort or help the bloated tourists roll their way back to their discounted hotel room.”

“Qué vaina. Un montón de Dominicans putting everything on credit cards? Qué locura. If I owed thirty thousand dollars to a credit card company, I would disappear, start a new life in Lebanon teaching hand weaving to tourists. I’d never pay that shit back.”

“It would be a good life. I’d never pay it back, either. Probably run, just like you.” Carlos said.

I knew of a man who hopped into a makeshift boat, a yola, and carried himself across the Atlantic Ocean to Puerto Rico. Everyone in the Dominican Republic knows of someone who has done this. Sometimes you would hear stories of people who had drowned, families with children, babies, older men and women, who would end up getting caught in a storm or some unfortunate event in the middle of the ocean and were never heard from again. Much like the desert I conquered in 2002, the Caribbean Sea is home to many souls who never made it, who still wander about looking for that primo or that amigo de un amigo or that eres uno de los míos that told them they would hook them up with a small job in Puerto Rico or Miami or Paterson or Lawrenceville or New Providence. I couldn’t imagine myself in a wooden box, the violent fists of the ocean knocking me around for hours, the constant dread of ending up in the black, frozen universe below me. Dios mío, I didn’t have the courage to go that route. I’d take rattlesnakes and sandstorms any day over that sort of dark, deep terror. And I did, that’s how I ended up in your America, because I found myself the victim of an unfortunate set of events, some I was responsible for, and others that were completely out of my hands. But the ocean never claimed me. I never let it happen. There are a lot of ghosts at the bottom of the ocean. Some say the ghosts come up to the borders of the surface and drown the tourists, pulling their feet down into the water until they can feel the breath escape their bodies. These are vengeful spirits full of anger and regret. You would be wise to avoid them.

“Caonabo, I need to speak with you; please come to my office,” the resort manager said over the phone.

I placed the phone back on the receiver. Looking over at Carlos, I raised my forearms in confusion, extending my palms out.

“What does he want? Qué pasó?” I asked.

“Who knows? They always want something from someone. Maybe he needs you to unclog a toilet or drag an American out of a closet. I found a man in a closet the other day. He had no pants on and a blue shirt with little cartoon lobsters on it. We had to wrap him up in a towel and walk him to his hotel room. He was shaking like he had scurvy or something,” Carlos said.

I sat inside his office, which I rarely went into. Most of the time, the managers barked orders at us, and we just followed instructions, never really seeing any of the logistical operations that made the resort run so efficiently. I wondered if I had left garbage in a room or forgotten to clean one of the kitchens in the morning.

“Caonabo, how are you?”

“Is everything ok?”

“We have a report that a black bag with some money inside of it is missing. Do you know anything about this?”

“What? Of course not. I haven’t seen any bags, certainly not any money.”

“One of the guests said he saw you take the bag out of his room.”

“Never, of course not. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“That’s what he says. He identified you when we walked around the resort trying to find the person he said he saw carry the bag around the resort.”

“I thought he said he saw me take it out of his room?”

“He said he saw you with the bag, Caonabo. You, he saw the bag in your hand, walking around holding it.”


“He doesn’t have a time. He just says he saw you yesterday with the bag.”

A big fuss began outside of the manager’s office. The man who claimed he had seen me both take the bag out of his room and walk around with it at an, unknown time the previous day, started to make his way towards the office where I sat down with my direct supervisor.

“He took it! He did it! I know it’s him. I saw him. Bring him to me.”

My eyes opened wide. I was only twenty-one, thin, and I spoke little English. This man was like a shaved bear, pink-skinned with cheeks so red he looked like he was developing early rosacea, and he was top-heavy with a big stomach and back but legs so small and thin it looked like he would topple over if he took off too fast in a crowded room.

“Let me at ‘em. He’s got my money.”

Hotel security ran towards the manager’s small office and held the man back. He swiveled around and tried to get loose. The Dominican security guards were much larger, and they held on to him like he was a wild boar. He was wheezing and hawing, shimmying about the lobby, trying to shake off the guards.

Suddenly, after a couple of minutes, a small woman with sunburned skin and long blonde curls came running towards the man.

“John! John! The bag, your mother found the bag in the hotel room. It’s okay, stop, stop struggling. Let him go! Everything is ok, we found our bag. Please, let him go! John!”


“You’re not going to catch and release this guy, are you?” Officer McKnight said.

“Look, there’s no proof he was the one. If anything, it looks like maybe he was part of a group smuggled over from El Salvador,” Officer Gates said.

“But he’s not Mexican or Salvadorean. He’s Dominican.”

“How do you know that McKnight?”

“I worked INS in Boston. Trust me, this guy is full Dominican.”

“Yea, that’s odd. But still doesn’t do much good to hold him. Process him. Send him on his way. I don’t think this guy had much to do with it; he may have been attacked himself. The medical unit checked him for wounds, just some scrapes and bumps, nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Got it. I’ll process him.”

McKnight turned over and brought me back up on my feet. I felt heavy, sore, my skin still burning from the hot stings of the sun and the fight I had when I had reached Laredo. They made me take off my shirt, my pants, shoes. I was handcuffed to a metal railing in the lobby, naked like a calf brought out to a beef convention. People walked by and handed in forms, watched me stumble around, a born loser on exhibition, a 25-cent show for all to watch. Come one, come all! Come see this wretched, pathetic thing that tried to make it into Texas; come watch this criminal, this bandit, this bad hombre, watch his stained red hands, his bruised lips, the cracked skin on his forehead, come watch his legs shake, and his arms trying to hold him up as he hangs out in the front lobby of a police station. A malignant specter, a wraith, a brown piece of gunk dug up from underneath the earth and placed here before you! Point! Laugh! Look at it! Goddamn, it’s a sad sight we have here folks, a real fourth-degree human being. Maybe even a fifth degree, not sure; it’s hard to tell with the poor quality of this specimen.

"It's a three-day stay, buddy. You have court in about a month," Gates said.

“Perdón? What did you say?” I asked.

McKnight walked me out of the front office, ran my fingerprints several times, and took my name and date of birth. He struggled with the prints for a couple of minutes and changed the paper and ink about three times, muttering something under his breath that I could not make out due to my language skills and the peculiarity of his Texan accent. I didn't give him my real name. I made up a name. He knew I was Dominican, so I didn't hide that from him, but I gave him the name of a man who had once dated my sister in Cotui, Mikael. When they are powerless, dishonesty is one of the last forms of independence left to human beings. McKnight gave me some used clothes the police had in a box somewhere and walked me further down a corridor filled with jail cells that smelled like a thousand men had urinated inside of them for three weeks straight.

"Okay, Mikael, vamos por acá. El cellblock por acá Mikael." His hand on my upper left arm felt like a crab pressing down on a passing squid; it was hard-nailed and aggressive in a manner almost unnecessary to hold down his prey. Ya estaba muerto, no había necesidad de tanto abuso.

I was led into a dark cell where I spent the weekend. The walls were grey, the food was garbage, and the phones were broken so no one could make any calls. Not that I had anyone to call. Who would I call? Carlos? He had already ended our relationship when I told him I had moved to Santo Domingo to try to find a job in the tourism industry. And by the time I found myself covered in a strange man’s blood, my face torn open, and my clothing ripped to shreds, I was drifting in an unknown land that was hot and dry and full of people who became more and more violent as they got bigger and bigger. I wondered if I would ever see my family again. But then, three days later, I was in the middle of the street with fresh clothes and a piece of paper that said I had to go to some court in some city in Texas. I walked around and found a trash can, crumpled the paper up, and dumped it inside. “A la mierda con eso.” I had nowhere to go and a stomach that kept reminding me I hadn’t eaten anything worth calling food in several days, almost a week. I hadn’t showered in the same amount of time, and I could feel the sand inside my underwear and shoes. My feet throbbed, my face was hot from the cuts in my forehead and chin, and I started to feel my legs giving out. I held on to a metal pole, fell on the sidewalk, and lay there for several minutes. I swear to God, it was coming, I felt like Ramo on the train track in Beat Street. Mi pana, I was ready to die.

“Hijo, hijo, estás bien?” a woman asked.

I tried to respond, but the ghosts had swallowed up my voice. Nothing came out. My chapped lips pressed together but could produce nothing.

“Hijo, estás mal. Manuel! Manuel! Por favor, ayúdame con este joven.”

A man came running over and placed his hand under my head. He asked me who I was and what had happened to me, but I was too weak to explain myself correctly. I pointed down the street to the building where I had been kept by Immigration and Naturalization Services.

“He was released, I suppose. He’s real beat up. Graciela, help me bring him into the car and take him to la pension. I’ll speak with Mabel, and maybe they can house him there until he is better. Careful with his head; it’s cut up awful bad.”

“Ven acá hijo, come with us. This is no place for you.”

The rest of the day was a flash of lights and voices, people pouring water over my face, fevered dreams filled with screams and the sound of a head pummeled against a rock, the skull bone crushed over and over and over again. When these dreams came around, a woman’s voice appeared, different from the older lady that had helped me when she found me on the street and pulled me back from whatever dark abyss I had been swimming around in until I felt the shores of reality at my fingertips. “Careful, careful,” she would say. Finally, after what seemed like hours and hours of drowning in a lake of blood and despair, I fell asleep.

The following day, I woke up in a warm room covered in a soft blanket and a damp cloth over my forehead. A woman knocked on the door. I looked around, trying to remember where I was and how I had arrived there.

“Sí, sí, come in.”

A door opened and an older woman with long braids entered the room.

“Hey there. I see you are better. Do you speak English? Unfortunately, I do not speak Spanish very well. It’s something my grandparents never taught me. You seem better, at least you have regained your senses. I was worried but did not want to check you into a hospital, not yet at least.”

“A little, yes. Better, yes, better.”

“Ah, okay. I’m happy to hear that. My name is Mabel.”

“I am Caonabo. Thank you, Mabel. I want to thank you.” I tried to sit upright, but my body was still sore, and my arms weak, wobbly with throbbing, piercing pains in the flesh above my elbows.

“It’s okay, Caonabo. Don’t worry about all that. You were found on the street, pretty beaten up. Looks like you got very little medical care. Let’s see how you improve today, if your condition changes then we’ll see if we can set you up with a room here until you’re back up on your feet.”

“Yes, I was hurt when entering Texas. A man with a knife. He tried…”

“It’s okay Caonabo, let’s rest. I’ll bring some food so you can get something in your belly.”

She was a kind woman with a warm smile. Her eyes were large and round and she wore a colorful cloth with red and green designs on the front. I felt I did not deserve her mercy, her empathy. I looked at her, tears hot in my eyes, their sting a reminder of my mortality, my two-week journey from the Caribbean to Laredo.

“Gracias Mabel, que Dios la recompense, por todo, por todo esto.”

Tears poured down my face. Un llanto filled the room, its howls forming water in her eyes, the skin around her nose turning a light pink as she watched me scream at my ancestors. I could not face her. I could not look her in the eyes. Mabel did not know this, but five days ago, I had just killed a man.


After some early morning chocolate and a stroll by the Jardin des Tuileries, I rented a car and Ernesto drove us out to Versailles. The palace has always fascinated us, and we like to, whenever we find ourselves in Paris, rent the little golf carts they have in the front entrance and drive past the various gardens. We usually park somewhere near a hidden gem and wander around the gated sections where some random recreation of Commodus or The Borghese Faun will greet us if we are willing to venture far enough out into the areas often unexplored by tourists. We have been coming to this area since I landed my first job working as a designer when dreams were worth a nickel and our future was a giant question mark in the sky. As Ernesto tells me, and he always has something to share porque he is like a maldita Wikipedia page this guy, the town had originally been a Podunk strip of countryside full of trees and a rustic poorly maintained hunting lodge. The King’s advisors hated the place and thought it was a backwater dump unfit for royalty, and as Ernesto explains, Louis XIII agreed that the original Versailles looked like something that was meant more for a peasant, a commoner like me, and not a monarch who starved his people to death and never had to work a day in his life.

“Wait, wait, I never said he starved his people to death,” Ernesto interjected.

“I know, but I added that because it is historically accurate.”

“Mmm, Caonabo, you’re a little ahead of yourself there. You’re thinking the French Revolution, but that wasn’t until the late 18th century. That was Louis XVI, the last king of France. I don’t think Louis XIII starved his people. You’re thinking of Citizen Louis Capet. He was executed a couple of months after his capture. He’s the one who married Marie Antionette.”

“He’s the one who married Marie Antionette,” I repeated, mocking him.

“But I’m right here, you know this.”

“False. You fail to understand a universal truth of those who never earned their leadership.”

“And what’s that?”

“All kings fail their people. Men with absolute power empty the stomachs of society.”

“Bueno, si lo pones like that, then, perhaps, I suppose there was some level of starving going on. It’s hard to argue that there is an element of truth there.”

“Of course. I’m always right. Don’t question me.”

So, as Ernesto states, the palace was created to fit Louis XIII’s public image, rebuilt several times to appease the tastes of the continuing Ancien Régime, inherited by various heirs who expanded the compound into a sprawling classical and baroque estate, defunded during political crises and wars against enemies, refunded when times called for more French extravagance, and then taken over by the public when the revolution came about and gave France its modern, democratic system (with brief interruptions by Napoleon, the Bourbons, and a little pathetic man from Germany). The whole thing, as usual, absorbed me, and we spent the afternoon walking along the different rooms, admiring the walls, the sculptures, the sheer human vanity of these large, centuries-old buildings.

I also could not ignore the irony of this trip, a getaway from my Parisian premiere in haute couture. Me, a man who had once cleaned vomit off the carpet in a room in the middle of the Caribbean after three men and a woman had an orgy in one of our premier suites.

Whatever I stole so many years ago, a man’s life during a struggle for survival on the Texan border, a future that was not destined for me, an identity I created out of endless nights cleaning more toilets in America than I ever cleaned in the Dominican Republic, created from English as a second language classes five nights a week for five years straight, created from marrying Ernesto when the Supreme Court made it possible for me to become a husband and a U.S. citizen, created when I attended a prestigious fashion institute as a man in my mid-thirties, created out of endless debt to fund my first professional collection I exhibited in Los Angeles, all of it was the reason I now wandered around Versailles. I thought about this when I took some pictures outside in the courtyard steps, standing there in the brisk French wind until the sunset fell over the golden gates, my last moment of relaxation before I would find myself yelling at Ernesto to bring me a pair of scissors (they were confiscated in JFK before leaving for Charles de Gaulle). Over three hundred million people call themselves U.S. citizens, but I don’t see three hundred million people burning their fingertips in a Paris hotel room for fifteen hours before displaying their hard work to entities like Vogue, Business of Fashion, and the hundreds of Instagram and TikTok accounts that cover what Nietzsche referred to as a kind of eloquence of power in forms. Americans seem to overestimate their extent of the privileges they are born with, and that is one thing an immigrant, like myself, has trouble understanding. So proud of so much, yet so quick to do nothing to protect their freedoms except complain about insignificant, childish things. So quick to hate, and so slow to make something out of themselves. You may disagree, you may hate me even more for what I am about to say, but more than half of the companies that dominate America are the brainchildren of people like me: a foreigner who sees what you have and makes something out of it. Soy el futuro, de eso estoy seguro, eso no me lo quita nadie.

The following day, a black truck pulled up in front of the hotel on Raymond Poincaré and Ernesto and I loaded twelve large black bags that contained my ready-to-wear collection for Fall 2025. I grabbed a large box with various shoes and jewelry to accessorize my designs, a couple of muffins from the hotel’s breakfast lobby, and a bottle of sparkling Crémant Limoux that would help keep my nerves at bay during the show. One of the most terrifying experiences during a fashion show is that the creator, the designer of the clothing exhibited before attendants and social and traditional media, is left in the back to watch the show play out from a monitor in the dressing room, unable to fully witness the beauty of their art, the music, the legs swaying back and forth draped in the textiles the creator selected from various regions of the world, watching the lights bounce of off the gems and crystals in the threads the creator has used to compliment a vision. The creator is only able to walk on stage after the show has ended, never able to fully experience their magic and its hypnotic, sozzled effect on the audience. The Crémant Limoux would help offset this struggle, which distresses me before every show.

When we arrived at the Carrousel du Louvre, we were escorted by security past the photographers and guests arriving in staggered intervals better planned than heads of state attending a summit hosted by pencil pushers and diplomats. Ernesto carried a bag with some of my essential tools for last-minute adjustments, and my team of assistants carried the twelve garments into an elevator and then into a room full of long-necked, striking men and women who smiled and greeted us as we entered. I walked toward a corner, started placing my garments on the hanging racks, and looked over the cue cards for the models who would be walking out during my debut in the most important week in world fashion, the moment when I could finally say that everything I had ever lived through, cried through, bled through, screamed through, had been worth its weight in gold.

You may be asking yourself how I evaded being captured for so many years despite having murdered an American who threatened me and the other men and women that crossed the border that fateful day more than twenty years ago. He found us on his property and attacked us with a bowie knife, hurling at me like a feral pig on fentanyl, a murderer who had to kill or be killed. And when we struggled on the ground for what seemed like a short time, but lasted, according to witnesses, a full twenty minutes, I found a way to slide the knife inside his belly and mash it around, feeling the soft innards the way one moves around a fork inside a thick, meaty dish covered in red, chunky sauce. But, while I was wanted for several years, and perhaps still may be in some law enforcement database used by the federal government to screen immigrants in and out of the United States, I never gave the officers my real name. All they had was the name and date of birth of one Mikael Pacheco, the doomed ex-boyfriend that once told my sister she was a bitch for not giving him a handjob outside of his brother’s wedding. And my luck, at the time unknown to me, is that extreme dermatitis of the hands and fingers causes prints to disappear, and the patterns we all take for granted as being original and unique to each human being are canceled out by a common medical condition that has existed for thousands of years. I am, therefore, fingerprintless, and when I applied to become a legal permanent resident and then five years later a U.S. citizen, the biodata collected by the government did not match the ones taken in the Texas immigration detention center when I was a young man. I have always hated my deformed skin, the flakes and tears in my fingertips that have caused me great shame, but the day I found out that I, a man wanted for questioning in the involvement of a horrid murder but never officially charged or investigated, had naturally erased the only evidence of my crime, I learned what my mother once said to me had always been so true: the Lord writes straight letters in crooked lines. It sounds much better in Spanish, but you get the idea.

“Caonabo, you’re on!” a young Italian man who worked for Paris Fashion Week screamed out from behind the curtain.

“Andiamo,” I said to my staff.

Now, you must excuse me, I must watch the television monitor. I have to witness everything I have ever dreamed of become reality. We’ll talk some other time. I have much to tell you.

Diego Arias

Diego Alejandro Arias is a Colombian-American writer who has lived in New Jersey for over three decades. He is also a diplomat, lawyer, and civil rights activist. His work has been featured in Another Chicago Magazine, Somos En Escrito, The Arlington Literary Journal, Acentos Review, Action Spectacle, and others. He is a native of Medellin, Colombia. He can be found at

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