The Hundredth Meridian

A Desert Idyll

For Héctor, Las Vegas was the American city.  The Strip at night suggested, Héctor thought, an explosion in a fireworks factory—all the flashing, soaring, running, bursting lights in every color of the universe; the gaudy hotels, like upended cruise ships; the fancy stores, luxurious casinos, and romantic cocktail lounges; his compatriots crowding everywhere and jabbering at one another in every dialect known to Viejo Méjico.  Vegas was his dream town, a cornucopia of everything he’d sought in coming to the United States in the first place.  Las Vegas, Héctor felt, soothed his soul—which very much wanted soothing in the wake of his political disgrace and the Democratic Party’s landslide victory when Tomasina Luna crushed his emergency replacement as the Republican candidate for District 1.  (That, at least, had not been his doing, as he’d warned Santa Fe in the strongest terms against running his former campaign manager, Haníbal Aragón, in his stead.)

Besides embarrassment to contend with, Héctor now found the Department of Homeland Security, the Minutemen (once again), and, a viciously anti-immigration website, breathing down his neck.  (True, President Bush had praised him, publicly and by name, as a selfless Mexican immigrant seeking only to take upon himself a civic burden of the kind Americans won’t...

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