Guadalupe Roncal and her fear of the prison

I want to highlight this passage from page 299, in the heart of “The Part About Fate,” as an example of what you’re missing by not reading this book:

“I have to go visit him in prison,” she said. “The chief suspect–your countryman–has been in prison for years.”

“So how can he be the chief suspect?” asked Fate. “I thought the crimes were still being committed.”

“Mysteries of Mexico,” said Guadalupe Roncal. “Do you want to come along? Would you like to come with me and interview him? The truth is I’d feel better if a man came with me, which goes against my beliefs as a feminist. Do you have anything against feminists? It’s hard to be a feminist in Mexico. Not if you have money, maybe, but if you’re middle class, it’s hard. At first it isn’t, of course, at first it’s easy, in college it’s easy, for example, but as the years go by it gets harder and harder. Mexican men, I can tell you, find feminism charming only in young women. But we age quickly here. We’re built to age quickly. Thank goodness I’m still young.”

“You’re pretty young,” said Fate.

“But I’m scared. And I need company. This morning I drove past the Santa Teresa prison and I almost had a panic attack.”

“Is it that bad?”

“It’s like a dream,” said Guadalupe Roncal. “It looks like something alive.”

“Alive?”

“I don’t know how to explain it. More alive than an apartment building, for example. Much more alive. Don’t be shocked by what I’m about to say, but it looks like a woman who’s been hacked to pieces. Who’s been hacked to pieces but is still alive. And the prisoners are living inside this woman.”

“I understand,” said Fate.

“No, I don’t think you do, but it doesn’t matter. You’re interested, so I’m offering you the chance to meet the chief suspect in the killings in exchange for your company and protection. I think that seems fair and equitable. Do we have a deal?”

“It is fair,” said Fate. “And very kind of you. What I don’t understand is what you’re afraid of. No one can hurt you in prison. In theory, anyhow, prisoners can’t hurt anyone. They only hurt each other.”

“You’ve never seen a picture of the chief suspect.”

“No,” said Fate.

Guadalupe Roncal looked up at the sky and smiled.

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