Fiction: Old Beginnings (Juan Corona)

OLD BEGINNINGS: This is an unedited first draft intros of writing projects that stalled. Maybe it’ll inspire me to finish. This is a semi-autobiographical piece called “Fighting Son”. The intro is actually true to my life, but the rest was to split and wind a different path.


In the weeks preceding my birth, the infamous Juan Corona murdered twenty-five migrant workers in Yuba City, California. Whereas my obstetrician used a scalpel to free me from my mother’s belly, he dispatched his victims with a pistol, a club, a meat cleaver and his favorite, a long knife upon which the phrase “Tennessee Toothpick” was printed. From her third-story delivery room at Fremont Medical Center, mom could make out the Sullivan Ranch, once the world’s largest walnut producer. Between rows of century old trees, investigators dug at shallow burial plots made visible by recent rains. Behind them, but not far behind them, onlookers snapped pictures of forensic explorations and posed in front of Corona’s battered Chevy van.

My father lost twenty dollars in a birth weight pool. He predicted that I would weigh 8 pounds, 10 ounces. In actual fact, I came in a whole lot lighter at just south of seven. I know this really disappointed him. Our family has a proud history of big baby boys. Big boys who grow up to be hulking men. He blamed my mother and her Irish-white thighs for watering down the lineage, and I think somewhere in that huge Samoan skull of his he blamed her as well for watering down my spirit. Pops was never one to recognize his own role in things…

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