One summer, in what's now called the Oregon Zoo— back in the mid-nineties, way back, when a chain of metal clamped my teeth, before I knew what to do with my wild and dark mane, long before I grew comfortable lining my eyelids— I donned my ZooTeen volunteer t-shirt and worked at the Carmen Sandiego scavenger hunt stations, where kids solved puzzles and earned stamps. Her henchmen lurked at various sites, actors glimpsed near the hippos or giraffes, and once in a while, Carmen herself above the old elephant exhibit in lipstick-red clothes and raven hair, an elusive embodiment of Latina moxie and wiles. I volunteered at the entry station, instructing young gumshoes in the rules of the game. At break time, I disappeared for lunch on a bench near the goats, watching the zoo's detectives disperse. Two girls approached my bench and asked, in nervy unison, "Are you Carmen Sandiego?" "No." Then, I pictured myself in a trench and fedora. Vermilion. What would be the harm in saying "yes"? But the sleuths had already returned to their bold quest for the dashing mastermind thief. Imagine that red coat belted, collar upturned. But I get to hide in plain sight. What a relief.
Katherine Quevedo was born and raised just outside of Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Rhysling Award, and her debut mini-chapbook, The Inca Weaver’s Tales, is forthcoming from Sword & Kettle Press. Her speculative fiction appears in various anthologies and magazines. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys playing old-school video games, watching movies, singing, belly dancing, and making spreadsheets. Find her at www.katherinequevedo.com.