The Run

Taos New Mexico 1975, a cool night in late October… this memory comes back to me over and over again; it’s colder than I imagined it would be as I spring off Maria’s back porch and head into the beckoning darkness of the mesa behind her house. I can hear her father screaming in a drunken rage somewhere in the brightly lit kitchen, the curtains casting furtive shadows behind us. “Quickly,” I murmur hoping he hasn’t realized we have fled the house. I can see the lights of my home in the distance it seems so close but must be a few miles off.

The moon is up and spills a ghostly glow among the silvery sagebrush as we run too afraid to look back, too afraid to stop. I don’t know what caused the rage, but even a ten year old understands the threat of a drunk with a knife. My lungs are on fire and I can hear her softly crying behind me trying to keep up the sandy soil tugs at our shoes. I am filled with a deep sadness I don’t quite understand but I feel the hot tears on my face even as the night air pushes them away. I don’t know what to do, I just know I need to get to my house, my mother, the safety of those lights glistening just out of reach.

My face explodes in pain and I am on my back as the sky opens above me. For a moment all I can think is how beautiful it all seems as the stars seem to swallow me up. I take a deep breath as the salty-coppery taste of blood fills my mouth. I just lay there feeling the cold sand beneath me, smelling the pungent sagebrush in the night air; I can feel my heart pounding as I try to understand what has happened. The barbed wire had been strung years ago and the fence posts have long since given into time and weather, but a few remain upright and a single strand hangs on. It is enough though to bring me up short on this dark night and tear a fearsome gash in my upper lip. Fear, adrenaline, and maybe the bravado of youth force me back up into a run.

I left Taos shortly after that and have no idea what ever became of Maria or her family, but I carry the scar of that midnight run to this day, a reminder of a different time, a different life, and a night sky that caught my breath if just for a moment.

About the Author

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Born in Manhattan in 1965 Joseph Castagno is the son of a second generation Italian American father. His mother’s family were mixed heritage people: Indigenous Haudenosaunee, French, some of the earliest Dutch settlers of the Hudson Valley. Growing up with such a multicultural heritage provided him with a view of both the immigrant experience, a perspective on the founding principles and ideals of the United States as well as the original teachings and ways of Northeastern Indigenous people. Having lived all over the United States Joseph has a broad perspective on US society and the variety of social values and customs that make up this great country. He currently resides in Florida with his wife Tammy, having raised four children they are now enjoying their grandchildren. Joseph has always had a passion for reading and writing and has published a number of articles in local papers and magazines. After a long career in healthcare he published his first novel “Jake” in 2016 drawing on his experiences and observations living in the Southeast and Florida. His current novel “Traffic” has just been published and he is currently working on his next novel and spoiling his granddaughters!

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