This is the time of year when commercialism influences almost everything. Usually seasonal chaos bullies us into invitations and shopping depriving of the world of undisturbed reading. E-readers make it easy for us to read without anyone being the wiser that it isn’t a holiday tale that captivates us. This season author R. Narvaez had a surprise waiting for me. In search for something different, a few touches introduced me to R. Naveraez’s Roach Killer and Other Stories. This selection contained a sleepy tale titled Santa’s Little Helper.
Naveraz is a writer who stepped out from the pack with Santa’s Little Helper. This twist on seasonal gift delivery has a singe of coal on it. Bianco, a not so angelic United Parcel driver has a new helper. His name is James. James gives Bianco a chance to let his hair down. Bianco gives James opportunities to be stupid. It appears this duo misses the mark about one another during their larcenous service. As expected, all is not well in Workville. These Elves are restless and who knows what will be at risk. One thing is for sure, low rent criminals always get their due. Naveraz weaves a web of distraction in the eight stories in Roach Killer and Other Stories.
Narvaez’s Roach Killer is not just a fictional story. It’s a collection of works about eclectic characters’ whose lives are on the edge. Eight stories take readers on a tunnel ride which allows readers to view these character’s worlds through a kaleidoscope. Readers who respond out loud need to find themselves a secluded spot. The mind begs a series of questions in every story. Dumb criminals, frustrated mistresses, hit man, and a host of others destined to stumble will entertain. There are plenty of passages that prompt you to ask Iris and her cohorts, “Do you really want to go there and do I have to go with you?” It doesn’t make any difference because you are already hooked. Initially, you hesitate to turn another page. But like most book lovers; you click, touch, or bend the page to the next morsel. It is almost impossible to resist a story with spikes of reality that cause your emotions to churn.
Iris a favorite, a single pregnant unemployed mother leaps off the page shouting, “Hey look at me.” The man in her life who refuses to marry her but will gladly do the rest. He even chides, “You can support me now.” Iris was slow to see many things but her circumstances didn’t keep her from seeing an opportunity to set herself free. Iris like most enterprising women is full of surprises. She has ambitions and dreams. Becoming a numbers gives her the courage to sustain her life. This is a decision that is not met without opposition from friends and family.
In Naveraz’s Hurricane, a 2012 eBook formerly known as Juracán depicts how is a tale about a guy who calls himself Papo. Papo has returned to Puerto Rico for his cousin’s wedding. This wasn’t his first or last mistake. He has a past contrived from bad decision-making which follows him right up to the morning after his cousin’s wedding. Papo is a likeable guy whose soft spot for dogs and women keeps him in the middle of history, road carnage, and the turmoil from a beauty named Itaba. Itaba is a married ruthless archaeologist with ambitious plans driven by an insatiable lust for power.
Naveraz uses his uncanny ability to use human behavior and institutional symbolism to hinge his character’s fate around one simple decision. Sometimes it’s the choice of vocation. Other times it’s the choice to have another drink or linger over breakfast. Sometimes one more drink for the road is just that. Or another serving of breakfast bounty is satisfying one’s hunger. In Hurricane, nothing is just that simple. Those innocent acts plot the character’s path to intrigue through marital betrayal, the history of Tainos, and Yocahú, a Taino deity.
Naveraz uses history akin to prevailing story telling educating readers beyond the spin of the story. Hurricane offers readers a peak into the culture of the Tainos who are Native Americans of Puerto Rico, the indigenous people of Boriken. It doesn’t take long for Papo to learn that Boriken is the real name for Puerto Rico. He also finds that he is about to become as much of a victim to Itaba’s whims as the Tainos for Columbus’ ploys.
Papo like the Tainos met their foe in Puerto Rican shores. The Tainos hospitality brought them extinction from smallpox. Papo’s freedom is doomed for extinction on the shores of Puerto Rico. Hurricane is a story which shares the perils of weathering the storms of life.
Roach Killer the Hit Man, is smart enough to know prison friendships are not relationships he wants to continue. Naveraz uses the patterns of street vernacular to depict this tale of challenges for his main character, Roach Killer. Naveraz’s character finds that it’s not his past mistakes are not the only thing haunting him. Those prison relationships are sticking to him like a stench that lingers beyond the soap. Naveraz’s depiction of surviving prison gives a striking perspective as RoachKiller navigates his world.
Change is not easy. If it was every fictional character would be perfect. Naveraz knows this as he paints a picture of a thug in turmoil. Naveraz captures the language as well as those intimate moments of life on the rough side. Who knew a killer would have a heart. His love for Abuelita kept him imprisoned on the outside. His weakness for a kid weakened him. RoachKiller is a story with meat
Naveraz’s Eulogio Vega in the story GhostD mimicked the popular detective hero. Vega is a man caught in the times hoping to do something different. Like anything else his is forced to reckoning with his circumstances. This time it is finding a seventeen year old bookie mixed up with somebody else’s money. Situations bringing Naveraz’s characters to life are predictable. How they react is not.
Each of the characters in those remaining stories like Unsynchronicity (2006), Ibarra Goes Down (2010), Watching the Iguanas (2010), Rough Night in Toronto (2006), and Zinger (2012) weave a very special tale with their unique blend of flavors. Naveraz manages to depict dubious morals and unlikely victories under the worst of circumstances. Readers will debate their individual merits of worth endlessly. But they will be hard pressed to present a view which can be labeled wrong. The only way to be sure is to read Naveraz’s RoachKiller and Other Stories for an evening of unexpected diversions.