Today we present “Longshore Drift” by Scott Broker, the latest addition to our New Voices library. In this story a pair of siblings visit their grandfather in Mexico, skeptical of the man they’ve heard so much about from their parents. Over the course of the trip, the narrator Joseph discovers where his own family alliances lie as he learns more about his enigmatic grandfather.
On the way to visit our grandfather, my older sister Jackie predicted my death.
“The cards don’t lie, boo,” she said, sliding the horseback skeleton across the tray table. “Do you want me to tell you how it’s going to happen?”
Her tarot deck was new, a Christmas gift from our father, and in the three days since tearing it open the cards had ruined my life by ending it at least ten times.
I pressed my head against the plane’s window and felt the turbulence trembling through my jaw. At ten, I was willing to believe anything Jackie told me: microwaving your socks kept your feet warm during winter; a dozen spiders were sleeping in your stomach at any given moment. The cards did not give her authority, but simply reinforced it.
Jackie pulled the death card away and slipped it into the deck. “Well?” She looked at me—eyelashes stretched and clumped by mascara—and I nodded.
“It’s probably going to happen while we’re in Mexico,” she said, thoughtfully touching her chin and gazing down at the Sea of Cortez. “So I see two options: you’ll either be kidnapped by the cartel and have your head cut off,”—she dragged a finger across her neck, leaving a pink disturbance behind—“or you’ll be torn apart by a pack of wild dogs.”
Dim shapes moved at the peripheries of my vision and I dragged a slow breath into my lungs to try clearing them. I didn’t want to cry, but felt that familiar heat start to rise.
“Don’t look so sad, boo,” Jackie said, pinching my cheek and sipping at her soda.
Beneath us, the scar of sea separating Baja California from mainland Mexico was replaced by blinding desert and, on the intercom, the pilot directed us to behold la maravilla of Cabo San Lucas.
Jackie crushed at the ice from her drink and spoke through chews. “At least you’ll die among palm trees. Plus, the cards might be wrong—who knows?”