It was a warm night with a thin crescent slice of moon and thick cloud cover - so very dark.
Away from the streetlights and illuminated signs, the prowling taxi headlights their reflections in the shiny surfaces (ubiquitous in any urban setting permeated with the reek of stale feces and festering garbage) the darkness seemed so much more intense. Off in the distance a dog barked.
Oppressive, even, as Carlos walked along the barely discernible broken sidewalk pavement.
The little boy, struggling to keep pace, momentarily lost his footing and stumbled into Carlos. Quickly, he voiced an informal mild apology and fixed his eyes at Carlos's blank face.
Carlos grunted an acknowledgement but never made eye contact and the little boy shuddered as he felt feelings that were new to him.
Fear...? Unmistakable. But no threats or shouting, no dark looks or even tones of voice had occurred. He couldn't understand his own emotions and he forced himself to dismiss them. Seconds later the same feeling sprang back into the pit of his stomach - stronger than ever. It even caused him to experience a type of acid reflux.
He didn't realize it but his feelings were the creation of his intuition. The remaining bits of our pre-civilized defense mechanisms were triggered. They were as unmissable as klaxons, sirens and flashing red lights but the little boy knew of no reason for them, so he used the refinements that we humans developed during a hundred thousand years of detaching ourselves from nature or, as it's more commonly known, from civilization.
They walked around a bend in the meandering path of the barrio hillside. One could see distant lights of Tijuana twinkling in the windows of flat-board shacks and adobe homesteads for every direction. He realized they were miles away from every possible destination.
"Senor...Senor..." Said the little boy. "I'm frightened".
Carlos finally fixed eye contact with the child.
"How do you think I feel?" he said. "I have to walk back alone".