The Daughter Chronicles

Thursday, August 25, 2005


South Phoenix, 2 a.m. The temperature has dipped to 87 degrees Fahrenheit, but the heat still rises upward from the miles and miles of blacktop like a hammer. Somewhere in the distance a police siren wails. The half-moon slides from behind scudding clouds to shine its lambent light down on a deserted warehouse. From within comes the stir of high-pitched voices.

The warehouse belongs to Manuel Escalante, who owns most of the block. Mr. Escalante immigrated to Phoenix in 1966 with nothing but $1.33 and a dream of owning a block of deserted warehouses. After years of working "at jobs no American would do," Mr. Escalante had saved up enough money to marry, sire seven adorable children, and buy a whole block of warehouses. He promptly moved to Scottsdale, enrolled his children in the best Catholic schools, and ran for State Representative. His platform was stopping illegal immigration. "Those wetbacks need to be stopped!" was his rallying cry. He won in a landslide.

But Mr. Escalante had a dark side. A side that no one knew about. A side he thought he left back in Sonora. And one day, he received a knock on the door from someone who, somehow, had discovered his dark side. That person didn't want money. That person didn't want recognition. That person simply wanted the use of one of Mr. Escalante's warehouses for one night a month, rent-free, without any outside interference. Mr. Escalante knew he was getting off easily; he took the deal without even worrying about it.

So that is why, at two o'clock in the morning, there are voices coming from the abandoned warehouse in south Phoenix. Mr. Escalante wants to know nothing about what is happening, and his life would probably be in danger if he ever gained any knowledge about it. However, the story needs to be told. It is that important.

The small child stands at the podium and bangs the gavel for order. All the other children come to attention and titter gleefully when they think about how their parents shout and threaten to get their attention. The small child at the front speaks:

"Those of you who have been here before, welcome back. Those who haven't, welcome to the 56th Annual meeting of the Southwest Babies, Toddlers, and Youngsters Association to Drive Parents Insane. My name is Madison, and I'm five. I have the honor of being the chairperson of this event. Now, without further ado, since some parents will be waking soon, let's hear some of your latest ideas."

A two-year-old raises his hand. "My name is Kodey." "Hi, Kodey," everyone chimes in. Kodey stands. "My parents have five other children. I'm the youngest. My brothers are named Karlson and Kooper, and my sisters are Kasey, Kendra, and Kiki. All our middle names begin with 'P'."

The crowd hisses the bad pattern of names. Kodey looks like he's about to cry, but he composes himself. "Whenever my parents try to feed me, I throw the food in their faces. They think it's cute. Whenever they change me, I pee everywhere. Again, the cuteness. Whenever my mother takes her eyes off of me, I place a collander on my head and run at top speed into any hard surface I can find. She cooes and calls me 'Mr. Tough Guy.' I'm at the end of my tether. How can I punish my parents for naming us all this way?"

Madison sighs. "I'm a girl named after a president, Kodey. I know where you're coming from. May I suggest you find whatever your parents consider valuable and just start smashing it? That might get their attention."

Kodey says, "Everything valuable was locked up long ago."

Another girl raises her hand. "Hi, I'm Susan. Kodey, your siblings are crucial allies in this battle. First, you make sure that your parents think you hate each other. Then, while you're wrestling over the pudding, mention that you need the keys to the cabinets. This will go up the food chain to the older siblings, who have easier access to the keys. One day the cabinets will mysteriously open. Be ready for it."

Kodey thanks everyone for their help. A devastatingly cute three-year-old raises her hand. Madison acknowledges her.

"Hi, I'm Mia. I would just like to share some things that make my father insane. Whenever he gets me food, I know the fun is about to begin. I love chili. And lentils. And all sorts of crackers. I also like sweet potatoes and squash. However, when my father gives me those things more than one day in a row, I find it amusing to pretend I don't like them. He rants and raves about how I liked them yesterday but not today and how he doesn't understand it. I can actually see the veins in his eyes start to expand and give him a headache. It rocks."

The crowd claps appreciatively. The small baby next to Mia raises her hand. Madison nods in her direction.

"Hi, I'm Norah. I'm Mia's little sister. I'm only two months old, but I've already been taking some lessons from my big sis. For instance, whenever my daddy feeds me, I'm happy. He holds me in his arms and gives me the bottle, and I gently drift off to sleep. Then, when he goes to put me in the bassinet, I wake up immediately. It's a hoot! I can easily sleep in the bassinet, I just like to mess with him. He picks me back up and starts feeding me again, and it's a simple case of repeat as necessary. I can go all day with it. It never gets old."

She high-fives Mia and they both start laughing like mad dictators. The crowd roars in approval. Madison waits until they all calm down.

"It sounds like you have some real winners, there, girls. I'm sure your dad will be insane before long."

Mia smiles. "We get the cats to puke on the carpet, too, even though there's plenty of tiled floor in the house."

That seals the deal. The crowd of children cheers long into the night. When they finally subside, Madison addresses them once again.

"We've heard some very productive ideas from Mia and Norah. I hope everyone was taking notes. Now, does anyone have anything else to share ...?"


So now we know. Don't let them know we've figured it out! Terrible retribution will come if the children know we know their secret! But understand this: they are organized, and they are ruthless. Stay on your toes!


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