The Painted Boy
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Jay Li should be in Chicago, finishing high school and working at his family's restaurant. Instead, as a born member of the Yellow Dragon Clan--part human, part dragon, like his grandmother--he is on a quest even he does not understand. His journey takes him to Santo del Vado Viejo in the Arizona desert, a town overrun by gangs, haunted by members of other animal clans, perfumed by delicious food, and set to the beat of Malo Malo, a barrio rock band whose female lead guitarist captures Jay's heart. He must face a series of dangerous, otherworldly--and very human--challenges to become the man, and dragon, he is meant to be. This is Charles de Lint at his best!
grandmother thought I should do some traveling, so I closed my eyes and stuck my finger on a map. Santo del Vado Viejo is what came up.” Flores nodded as though this made perfect sense. “Boss,” another of the gangbangers said when Flores continued to stand by the pool table, cue in hand, all his attention focused on Jay. “You want us to take this kid out back and—” Flores turned on the man. “Didn’t I tell you all to shut up?” “Yeah, but—” “Get out,” Flores told him. He waved his free hand to
in a tight voice, “because you don’t know any better. But don’t bring it up again.” “Look,” Jay told her. “I don’t know you and I don’t know him. I don’t care what is or isn’t going on between you because it’s none of my business. I only came by because I want to be left alone.” He turned to go, but she caught his arm with that strong grip of hers. When he stopped, she let her hand drop. Jay had to make an effort not to reach up and rub his arm. “We’re not enemies,” the woman said. “Yeah,
“Maybe so,” I tell her. “But right now I just want to collect the dogs and go home. I’ve got a lot to think about.” And a phone call to make, I add to myself. Lupita takes me back to the trailhead where the dogs are waiting, and we walk her home. On the way back to Tío’s, I call Paupau. I don’t care how late it is. But of course, all she does is turn my questions into Zen riddles that I’m supposed to figure out on my own or the answers won’t have any worth. I begin the conversation full of
attention focused on Margarita’s assailant, and felt a sudden pressure in the air as though a thunderstorm had come up out of nowhere. The small hairs on her arms rose up and her skin prickled. Jay opened his mouth—impossibly wide, it seemed—and Alambra twitched as though something had struck him. She knew he was considered a real tough guy—so she was surprised when his eyes went wide with shock and fear. What was going on? Jay stamped his foot on the floor and Rosalie could swear she felt
spirit embraces all the elements. Fire and water, rock and air. He called on air now. A wind, narrow and focused, plucked the knife from Cruz’s hand and sent it clattering down the pavement. Cruz took a step forward, stopping when Jay held up his hand. “This is the way it’s going to be,” Jay said. “No more gangs. No more drugs. No more violence. If you want something to occupy your time . . .” He made a sweeping motion with both arms and the long row of motorcycles and low riders parked in