The sun beat down on the back of Joel’s neck as he pulled the handkerchief from his back pocket to wipe his forehead. It’d been sixteen years since Texas had a heat wave this intense in April; that was the year his father pulled him and his brother Manny out of second grade to work in the fields. His favorite months to work were February, March, and April because that was the time to harvest strawberries. They were Joel’s favorite of life’s simple pleasures. His
  favorite color, a beautiful woman in a red dress, a perfect rose, the hot rod his uncle Ruben used to own, in a sweet mouthwatering heart shaped product of the earth. 
    “And nothing to get hung about. Strawberry fields forever,” in his John Lennon voice as he picked a strawberry and ate it. His brother Manny making his way toward him looked like an Olympic hurdler over the rows of strawberry bushes. It was hard to believe he was Joel’s younger twin. Manny stood taller than Joel and was much more handsome in a James Dean sort of way. His strong jaw and bright brown eyes made him look older and more sophisticated. He was also built a little more lean but not as strong or fast as Joel. Together though they made the best duo in soccer, baseball, or bar fights. 
    “How are you doing?” asked Manny.
    “Is it possible to get stuck from bending over too much? I wish they’d give us garden tools we could be efficient with. I’m doing well though. How are you? Here, have some water,” He grabbed his canteen off the dirt and tossed it to Manny.
    “Thank you. I think I’m almost done so I can come help you.” He took a swig of water from the canteen. “I keep thinking of Apa at home, I hope he’s doing okay. It’s so damn hot today. Those storm clouds need to move this way a bit quicker. A nice cool rain would be perfect.”     
     Their father was one of the many people who’d been sprayed in the fields with pesticides by airplanes not only here, but many farms all over Texas and even Arizona and California. He has good days and bad days and seemed like he was going to pull through, but they couldn’t be certain because many of the people they knew who’d either been really sick or known someone else really sick... well, pesticides kill more than bugs let’s just say.
    “I’ve been hearing talk of a rebellion today, when the clouds get overhead,” Manny murmured in Spanish.
    “Oh perfect! While they’re off doing that creating a distraction we can go snatch up the farm owner’s daughters and take them dancing.”
    “I was thinking we could join in. You know you’d like to set some shit on fire and make a stand for everything we deal with. For Apa, you know?” 
    Simultaneously Joel’s eyes grew wide and so did the space between him and his brother as he took a step back and continued his work on the strawberry bushes.
    “You can’t be serious,” he laughed hoping it was a joke. “That’d be muy dangerous.”
    “I am serious. All of them, plus you and I, we could really get what’s owed. The owners have it coming to them, man. Don’t you want to get back at them for what they’re doing to our people, what they did to Apa?”
    “Well yeah, but Manuel, violence isn’t the answer. We’re not just a fight at the bar here. We could get in a lot of trouble afterwards. Somebody could get really hurt. They’re doing non-violent protests and boycotts in California. There’s a guy leading a nonviolent movement out there, Cesar Chavez, he’s getting justice and fair working conditions for workers. Besides we
want to have a job still to bring home payment, not bite the hand that feeds us.” He picked another strawberry to eat.
    “That’s bullshit, Joel. You know we’ll always be able to find work no matter where we are. It’s not like we don’t move several times a year to find a new farm to work on. And why isn’t Cesar Chavez here then? Why are we still being treated like we have no rights? Why are we still being pushed around? Why are we being sprayed with pesticides by airplanes? A lot of good he’s doing with that approach. That’s bullshit, Joel. It’s time to take action.” 
     Manny’s voice was raised, but he was still speaking Spanish to prevent any unwanted listeners.“Isn’t the whole reason we left school in second grade to help support the family? That’s why we’re here right? Because family is everything. What are we doing if we’re not standing up for ourselves, our people, and our sick father at home?” Joel was again giving his full attention to his brother.
    “Lower your voice idiot! You don’t want to attract attention,” he said. He raised his had to his forehead and shook his head. “I don’t know how I let you talk me into things when I’m obviously the one making better decisions.” 
     A drop from the sky landed on Joel’s forehead. He pulled out his handkerchief to wipe his brow from the sweat. “The clouds are getting close.”
    When it began raining a group of workers went to the farm owner to collect their pay and create a diversion. The rest gathered farm tools to use as weapons and set fire to his truck and farmhouse.  
    As most set out to destroy the property, some attacked the owner and his colleagues, Joel and Manny were of that small group. No one had expected the owner and his men to be carrying guns. Shots were fired and a man was beaten to a pulp with a garden hoe and a spade shovel and fists and boots of rage. The rebellion didn’t last long as policemen showed up quickly and also drew their weapons. Manny held the owner by his shirt collar and was continually striking him with his fist.
    “Stop what you’re doing and put him down!” shouted an English speaking voice simultaneously with Joel’s inner thought of the exact same request. Another shot was fired, startling Joel to the point his heart dropped. 
     Manny stopped punching the farm owner and let him fall to the ground. Joel rushed over to him only to have his brother fall to the ground before he was even close enough to catch him. Joel dropped to his knees next to his brother Manny while the rain fell on both of them.         
     Now was not the time to say, “I told you so.” But when Joel looked into Manny’s  eyes he seemed to understand that’s exactly what was on the back of Joel’s mind and gave a little smile and laugh that seemed to say, “You were right.”
    “We avenged Apa, brother,” Manny managed to say with his last breath.
    One week later Joel and his father buried Manny. That same day they left for California to join the UFW of United Farm Workers and involved themselves in the nonviolent protests for La Causa.  
 


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