An excerpt from The Ghost of Milagro Creek

The door of the classroom opened. “Crystals form in cavities in rock,” Mr. Cisneros was saying in his dry voice.  “Water flowing through the rock dissolves some of the minerals…” 

Tomas Mondragon, who had been slumped in his desk, snoring softly, opened his eyes.  Like a wolf, he was instantly awake, and with a side glance at his blood brother Mister Romero, he emitted a long, low whistle.  The whistle caught on and moved rapidly around the room, ascending and descending in and out of harmony as it traveled to the doorway where it hung in the air for a moment, pulsing, then fell to some mysterious realm beyond the reach of the human ear.

“Class, this is Raquel O’Brien,” said Mr. Cisneros, “from Santa Fe. ”Raquel O’Brien wore high heels, tight bell-bottoms, and some sort of bra for a shirt.  She had red hair, cut over her ears, and black crayon around her green eyes.  She was the only girl in the room, and she produced the effect of a mouse dropped into a snake’s cage.

“Yowza,” whispered Mister. 

“S’up hoochie-pants!” called Tomas.

“Class,” said Mr. Cisneros.  “Let’s all quiet down now.”  He remained standing, but his pale, thin face had already settled into the familiar lines of defeat, and pandemonium ensued.

“Oooh, she not from da barrio. She from Santa.”

“She punk you off, man,” said a guy named Ed. “You stanko to Santa-Girl.”

El Gingero, you wanna come over here and sit in Special Ed’s lap?”

“Class,” said Mr. Cisneros.  “That’s enough.”

“Hey sweetheart,” said Tomas.  “Homeslice is sorry he was so foquin rude.”

“Please don’t make me pass out detention points.”

“Mr. Cisneros, ese, I was being sincere.”

“Thank you, Tomas.”

De nada.”

“Go back to sleep, Tomas.”

“You want me to become a statistic, sir?” asked Tomas, winking at her.