2008 Contest Shortlist

Mexicano in the Hamptons, New York

4000 miles from home, deep in WASP territory. He falls asleep wrapped up in an American flag.

To the owner of an American flag which was stolen on the fifth of July 2004 outside a bar in South Hampton my deepest apology. I can imagine one cheerful family appalled when they returned to the spot they had saved for the parade and found their flag had been stolen. Kids crying, a pissed off father starting a fight with a suspicious neighbor; it’s all my fault. The hotel where I was staying costs four hundred dollars a night, yet I choose to sleep outside a bar and use an American flag as a blanket.

A cab finally came to pick me up at seven or eight in the morning. Was I still wrapped up in the flag? I don’t remember.

‘So you’re the guy who’s been calling all night?’ he says to me, but I don’t say a word.

I’m their own private joke, they must have my drunken voice recorded, calling every fifteen minutes. Two nights before I was sharing a cab with a couple of paisanos who where shocked to know I didn’t have a job.

‘Sooner or later vas a tener que vender tu cuerpecito,‘ said one of them. He could be right, somehow I did end up selling my little body but maybe it was all for free. I’m too embarrassed to return to the bar to find out what happened the night of the fourth of July. I’m too thirsty to even notice the damage alcohol has inflicted on my body. All I want is to get back home, but home is four thousand miles away. Right now even that studio apartment in New York is something I’m looking forward to.

Mexicans don’t travel to the Hamptons to buy a towel at Ralph Lauren or a t-shirt of East Hampton. We are not tourists but part of the working force. It’s quite simple: If you’re not invited you’re not welcomed.

But why does someone at an eight week intensive course on film end up in a place like the Hamptons? In the voice of Lee Lee Sobieski in the movie Never Been Kissed faking an English accent: It’s the movies, dahling, it really is.

Americans are surprised when I ask them if WASPS are portrayed correctly in the movies, they think outsiders don’t know about them. I might not know about the civil war or even about the war against Mexico but I know about the Tom Buchanans of the world. They all have a house at the Hamptons.

PENN STATION, AFTERNOON, JULY THE FIRST

Fuck New York. A la chingada with film school. I’ve been living one month in this city and I’m already cursing the only place on earth where I thought all my dreams could come true. But, what exactly are those dreams? After a series of endless possibilities it all narrows down to one pursuit: Love. In the search for the perfect women there is no other place like New York: Smart, sophisticated, literate, globalized, neurotic and paranoid. I spent most of my days below Park Avenue South and lived at the infamous Alphabet City. Not exactly the Upper East Side Prince all the beautiful girls were looking for.

Where could I find my Upper East Side Princess? According to my studies on film there wasn’t any better place than the Hamptons. Before there was Gossip Girl there was a great movie called Tart. A train was leaving in thirty minutes.

SOUTH HAMPTON, JULY THE FOURTH

To the beautiful girl who owns a poem written in drunken Spanish in a napkin, I ask to be forgiven. Especially to her best friend who knew español but came to tell me my muse had a boyfriend, yet was intrigued to know what I had written, something not even a sober girl could figure out. How easy it all was, to carry a pen with me at every moment, grab a napkin, ask the barman or a waitress to give the poem to a beautiful girl and see what happens.

Does she still keep my poem? Could I ever get in touch with her to find out what I wrote that night? She said she had a boyfriend – maybe I caused problems when she questioned him about never being as romantic as the drunken Mexican on the fourth of July. Could it have been enough to break up a relationship?

All I ever wanted for that night was to see the fireworks. But the beach was private and there was no room for a drunk Mexicano.

Raul Gallardo