On a Busboy

Juan Romero. He is one of those people in history you know, but you don’t really know you know.

You know?

As he rode the bus to school on a warm early-June day in 1968, Juan yawned and looked at his hands. There was something under his fingernails, something dark. He thought about what it might be, and he thought that maybe it was something he had come in contact with at his job the night before.

You see, Juan worked part time as a busboy in an Los Angeles hotel, one of the big ones. He was only 17, and he worked at the hotel when he wasn’t in high school or studying for tests. Juan did not see the work as a career, of course; it was merely a job you have in high school to earn some spending money. Besides, his ultra-strict stepfather insisted that he work in an effort to keep the young man off the mean streets of East Los Angeles. So, Juan worked clearing tables in the banquet halls and taking room service food to guests on the upper floors of the hotel. It being Los Angeles, Juan was able to meet a few celebrities during his time at the job. He liked that part. Until later.

After high school and a marriage to his sweetheart, Juan decided to leave LA and head inland. He settled for a time in Wyoming. Out there, he worked at several manual labor jobs and made decent money in the construction business. In later years, his marriage failed, and he moved back to California. This time, he lived in San Jose. He met a nice lady on Facebook, and Juan was excited about their future. Then, he suffered a heart attack with little warning and died a few days later in 2018.

Isn’t it interesting that, no matter how long someone lives, a particular moment in time forever seems to define you—at least in the imagination of the public? Juan Romero had such a moment when he had been a busboy…on that night…back in 1968. You see, Juan had been forced to stay late at the hotel the night before because of a function and then because of…because of something else that happened after the function.

So, despite being dead tired the next morning, Juan got on the bus and went to school. He thought it would take his mind off what had happened the night before. That’s when he looked at his fingernails and noticed the dark stuff under his nails.

“You’re him, aren’t you?” a woman on the bus said to him, pointing to Juan’s photo on the front page of the newspaper she held. Juan nodded. He looked back at his hands. Then it hit him what the dark stuff was under his nails.

Bobby Kennedy’s blood.

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