Written by Héctor Tobar
The Barbarian Nurseries, 2011
"Hey, look, there’s people down there," Keenan shouted, loud enough to get the attention of the four or five other adults in the car, who looked up from their newspapers and laptops just long enough to glance at and quickly forget the familiar sight of the soiled caste who lived by this stretch of track. "Los homeless," Araceli said. Brandon pressed his nose against the glass and looked downward, spotting a line of shelters between the train tracks and the river, teetering house-tents of oil-stained plywood, sun-bleached blue tarpaulin, frayed nylon rope, and aluminum foil. They looked like ground-hugging tree houses, improvised assemblages built by children and taken over by tubercular adults. A few humans sat on chairs in between their creations in this village as it followed the curve in the tracks, their roofs a quilt of tarpaulin and wood forming a long crescent dotted with the occasional column of smoke. Brandon searched for the sources of these fires, and spotted a gangly man in aviator glasses tending to a kettle on a grill.
© 2011 Héctor Tobar; New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux