Chapter 3. An immigrant buys his first car.

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(The story until now: Roxanne Delacroix comes out of the Caffeine Den and collapses at the table where she and her friend Olga Waring had been sitting. An ambulance comes and takes Roxanne away, leaving Olga to take care of Roxanne’s bulldog, Russet.)

That morning, a little before Roxanne Delacroix went inside the Caffeine Den to get her coffee, only to come outside again and collapse, and before Olga Waring started studying her apps, Rogelio Cortez was having a difficult time trying to figure out where he was going. He was at the wheel of the first car he had ever owned — or driven. He was in central Madera, and was coming to grips with the fact that whoever had laid the city out never had Rogelio’s welfare in mind, or anybody else’s welfare, for that matter. The streets were laid out at right angles to the Union Pacific Rail Road track that ran through the center of town, which in a better-designed town should have made finding one’s way around easy. But the railway runs through Madera at a 40-degree angle, which means that east-west and north-south streets were not east-west or north-south at all, at least not in the center of the city, which was where the streets had been laid out first, back in the nineteenth century. They were instead northwest-southwest and northeast-southeast.

That was not how the Egyptians had laid out the pyramids, or so he had heard. They had gone with north-south and east-west. But he never had been to Egypt, nor had he even been to the famous pyramid at Chichen Itza, to see how it was situated. He had grown up in a small village on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, where there had been no school, and while Chichen Itza wasn’t all that far away (perhaps 100 miles) it was still too far for someone whose only means of transportation was walking.

Other than having lacked transportation except for his own legs, he wasn’t unlike a lot of Maderans. Many Maderans never had been to Yosemite National Park, which was Madera County’s principle tourist attraction. It was one of the entire country’s principle attractions, for that matter. He knew Chichen Itza would always be there if he ever wanted to see it, so why bother? He had plenty of time...


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