Monday, October 22, 2012

Tony Hernandez/ Carlos & Yolanda

Salvador is free, so he is going back to his New York barrio to catch up with the people he has known since he lived there.

First up is the Umbrella Man himself, Tony Hernandez. Hernandez was the one who brought him into the Vampire gang, and the other one who served time for the murders that fateful night.

Tony calls out to Salvador from the darkness with a compliment: "You know, it takes a strong man to survive." This is the same line he used in the song "The Vampires" to entice Salvador into the gang to begin with. Only know does he realize how right he was.

Salvador is glad to see him: "Man, I thought you were dead." Hernandez replies: no, he's "living in the Bronx." Salvador shoots back: "Same thing."

Hernandez-- not that he should, but that he might-- seems to hold no ill will toward Salvador and calls him his "Death Row brother." He is willing to meet him here-- not in the light, as that might tip off the parole board-- but in shadow, if that's what's necessary. When Salvador invites him to join him to see Carlos and Yolanda, Hernandez declines: "I don't like to see nobody, only you." Perhaps their common troubles have made Hernandez feel that Salvador is the only one who could understand him.

Hernandez continues that his father has died, but he has a daughter now-- "it balances," he philosophizes. He adds that he has a job as a janitor at an area hospital: "But there's one stain that don't fade./ You know what I'm talking about, Sal?" Yes. Yes, he does.

He wishes Salvador farewell and good luck with his writing career. Then he adds: "When I look up in the sky above/ It's like an old umbrella with holes." He was once the fearless Umbrella Man. Once. And for what?

Now, Salvador visits Carlos and Yolanda. He tells them he is OK, but "feels like a ghost." Carlos admits that he understands, having been in jail himself, and he wants to be there for Salvador now, the way Yolanda was there for him after his sentence.

Carlos tells Salvador he has his "papers," perhaps those works he wrote in jail. "I wrote those pages.. with blood," Salvador recalls. Carlos says that's good, "That's the stuff that sells." And when Salvador protests that money was not his object, Carols is all practicality: "You got to eat."

Salvador muses that he will never shake the moniker "Capeman," and Carlos soothes: "No one remembers anymore." Of course, as soon as they introduce Salvador to their son, the boy asks: "Are you the Capeman?" "I used to be your father's pal," he side-steps.

Yolanda says he always will be. Salvador, surprisingly, challenges this: "Or, in your mind, was I the only one?" Carlos sighs: "But Sal, it was dark, so long ago, you and Tony..." This implies that Carlos had something to do with Salvador's incarceration, but Yolanda quashes the whole conversation: "What's done is done."

Then, suddenly, comes a man selling raffle tickets-- the prize is a trip to Puerto Rico: "Leave your worries and your kids in the Big Apple/ We may live in New York City/ But it's Puerto Rico where our hearts belong." Really? So the answer was never to have left Puerto Rico for New York to begin with? Now he tells us!

The song begins and ends with a chorus singing, in Spanish, "My liberty/ My freedom, come." But both Hernandez and Carlos refer to the Puerto Rican Day parade that is just ending. Hernandez asks if it's Salvador's first; perhaps they began when he was still in prison. Perhaps they began in reaction to his notoriety, to reclaim some Puerto Rican pride. But Carlos says "The parade is almost over."

This line comes as a relief. There has been so much "parading" and noise and marching and ado in Salvador's life. Even in jail, he was more mobile than most. Perhaps this line means that he can finally welcome his freedom-- to sit still.

The parade is almost over, but is has one more stop. In the next song, Salvador finally reunites with his mother.

Next Songs: Sal's Last Song/ Esmerelda's Dream

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