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The Hundredth Meridian

Cupid’s Thunderbolt

In the weeks immediately following the encounter with the illegal immigrants in the arroyo, Jesús “Eddie” and Héctor were men possessed by a single idea, though not the same one.  Jesús could think only of joining up with the recently formed Critter Company, based in El Paso but with a chapter in Deming, and fighting Islamists at the border.  As for Héctor, his sole, overwhelming thought was to get home to Belen with his family, far away from the bewitching siren at the Pink House in Las Palomas.

Never in twenty-something years of married life had he been tempted by another woman—until now.  Héctor tried to assure himself that his desire for Jacinta Ruiz was entirely normal, because it was completely natural.  Adultery is as American as apple pie, and just as healthy; indeed, it is positively pro-American, as anyone who watches TV and reads People at the barbershop or on the checkout line at the supermarket knows.  And yet, for some reason he couldn’t fathom, he was unable to acknowledge that yielding to his male instincts by cheating on AveMaría was acceptable behavior.  In what he clearly recognized to be a failure of imagination and nerve, Héctor blamed himself.  Had he come to the United States as a child, perhaps he might be more completely acculturated to modern, progressive American ways.  As it was, the notion of...

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