Eduardo Garcia was the only real Mexican in the neighborhood. And no one could talk him out of it. Eddy, as he was known, was the neighborhood bully, the terror of the classroom, and the pride and joy of his parents. He had a stocky build, red hair, freckles, blue eyes, and light skin. But he still looked Mexican. His sister Graciela, who greatly resembled Eddy but looked even more Mexican, was also in our grade at Holy Cross School with Eddy and me. Eddy was a year behind in school because he was so smart, or so he told us. I remember once in the second grade, before school started, he took of his belt and started hitting me with it. I tried unsuccessfully to defend myself. Eddy was much bigger than me. Then the school bell rang and we went in to school. Sister Bartholomew saw that I was crying and asked me why. I tried to tell her in my best English, but the class laughed when I said, “Eddy hitted me with his strap.” Of course, Eddy denied everything in a very believable fashion and that was the end of that incident.
Over the years, Eddy acted as if we were friends. One day, he invited himself to my house after school even though I made all kinds of excuses why he couldn’t come over. I was afraid of him ever since he hit me with his belt. He didn’t listen to me and he came over to house at 4546 S. Marshfield Avenue anyway. He was surprised that the hallway door was always unlocked. He saw my bike in the second-floor hallway outside our apartment door. We never locked the bikes up because no one knew the bikes were there. The next day, my bike is gone. My mother called the police and we go to Eddy’s house to look for my bike. I had described it in detail to the police. I only found the wheels of my bike on another bike. Well, the police made Eddy give me the wheels immediately. And he had to give me the rest of the bike by the next day, or I could call the police again and they would come back with me to Eddy’s house for my bike. Sure enough, the next day, the rest of my bike is in my hallway. After that, Eddy didn’t talk to me very much anymore, much to my relief. I think he over-reacted and took the entire incident way too personally.
A few years later, we were sitting on the stairs of the field house at Davis Square Park just hanging out until dark, but before curfew, on a warm summer night. It was one of those nights where we were all bonding talking about everything and anything. That night, everyone there at the park was Mexican, except for Chuck, the wannabe Mexican who was actually more Mexican than some of the actual Mexicans there. Anyway, someone started talking about a previous trip to Mexico and soon everyone began recounting his or her favorite trip to Mexico. Suddenly, Eddy showed up. No one in our group liked him, but everyone was afraid of him. Eddy asked what we were talking about and we told him Mexico. He smiled and immediately took over the conversation, cutting off anyone who tried to say anything. Eddy asked a few questions of everyone such was when and where and how and what they did in Mexico. Then, he said, “You call that going to Mexico? That’s not going to Mexico!” We knew better than to contradict him. “When I went to Mexico,” he continued, “we drove there in a pickup truck. That’s going to Mexico. I didn’t go to a city and live in a house with relatives. No! I rode on horseback away from all the cities and I slept in a tent. I wore a holster with guns and I hunted for my own food. That’s going to Mexico!” Well, no one said anything and Eddy finally left. We were relieved when he did. But he really ruined the wonderful night we were having until he showed up. We all agreed that we should all pitch in and send him back to Mexico.