The Hundredth Meridian

In the Looking Glass

The holidays were fast approaching, and, for the first time in his life, Héctor could find no joy in the prospect of the Christmas season.  Homesick, guilt-ridden, pinched in his wallet by his irregular business schedule, and worn down by the rigors of patrol with the Critter Company, he felt physically and mentally exhausted.  The lack of privacy afforded by the ranch house rubbed his nerves raw, as did his wife’s nagging and his daughter’s incessant vocalizing.  AveMaría was insistent that the family begin attending services at the Assemblies of God church in Lordsburg, which meant a 160-mile round trip every Sunday.  (She persisted even after he’d explained to her, patiently, that church on Sunday morning conflicted with his sworn duties as an active Critter in good standing.)  And Contracepción, bored to distraction on the ranch, had recently conceived a burning ambition to become the new Britney Spears.  (“I mean,” Héctor overheard her explaining to her mother, “she’s like, you know, so fat and pregnant and divorced and everything—it’s time for her to move her lard butt over and let someone else have a turn, for a change!”)  In pursuit of the dream, she’d ordered all the Spears CDs from Amazon.com and begun singing along with Britney for three or four hours a day.  Though he was too good a father to say so,...

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