On the Border
By John Duncklee

Two men faced each other across the somewhat sagging barbed wire fence that designated the Mexico-United states International Boundary. The Mexican pointed his AK-47 at the heart of the American.

“Why do you want to kill me?” The American asked. “I am unarmed, and I am not here for trouble.”

“You have trouble anyway,” the Mexican said, and waved his weapon slightly. “You stole half of my country.”

“I didn’t steal any of your country. I was not born when all that happened,” the American said. “I do not look at that with pleasure.”

“Why do you hate Mexicans, and send them back when they go to your country to work?”

“I do not hate Mexicans. As you can see I learned your language. I don’t hate anyone. I am a man of peace.”

“I have been told that we Mexicans should hate all Americans because you stole half of our country,” the Mexican said.

“There are people everywhere that hate something or someone. There are some that hate everything. I am not one of these people. I would like to become friends with you, but that is difficult when I am looking down the barrel of your Ak-47.”

“Why do you want to become my friend while I am standing here about to kill you. I belong to a cartel and you are standing where you should not be standing.”

“I did not come here to get in your way. I am here studying vegetation differences along the border. What you and your cartel do is none of my business. Why don’t you lower your rifle, come through the fence, walk with me to my camp and we can drink coffee together?”

“You might be setting a trap for me,” the Mexican said.

“All right, I will accompany you to your camp and we can drink coffee there,” the American said.

“How do I know you are not trying to trick me somehow?” The Mexican asked.

“You don’t know, but I am telling you that I am only going with you to become friends.”

The Mexican lowered the AK-47, walked to the fence and held the top strand down with his foot so that the American could step over it. They stood facing one another. The American held out his hand to the Mexican. The Mexican hesitated, then took the American’s hand in his and shook once.

“All right, friend, let us go to my camp and drink some coffee,” the Mexican said. “But, I don’t know why I am doing this. My bosses said to kill any Gringo that interferes.”

“I am not interfering. I am just here looking at shrubs and grasses,” the American said.

After arriving at the Mexican’s camp they drank coffee and conversed about their two countries. They introduced themselves and discovered that both their families had originated in France. One branch had immigrated to Mexico City and another had gone to New Rochelle, New York. The American got up to leave. The two walked back to the boundary fence, and the American stepped over the loose top strand again. He turned to face the Mexican.

“Well Enrique, It has been a pleasure getting to know you.”

“The pleasure has been mine, Jack, or is it Jacque?”

“I hope we do not become strangers again,” Jack said.

“I agree. And I must say that I am very happy that I did not shoot and kill my cousin Jacque.”


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