A WRITER’S GUIDE TO SUICIDE (1982, Cut 1)

hemingway

A WRITER’S GUIDE TO SUICIDE (1982, Cut 1)

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Here it is. Ready to go.

Margins set.

Doh-doh-doh not stohp.

Here, time is only silence.

Dance, fingers, dance.

Stream-of-Ribbon,

Snappin’ tappin’ like flames on dry twigs.

Don’t stop. Burn.

The church bells fight with the radio.

Don’t stop. Don’t lie down.

You’ll freeze.

Don’t rub your lip, don’t blink, don’t look at your life passing before your very own eyes.

So jam, fingers. Don’t stop to pick up a comma.

Period.

You wait like you pray.

Silent fingers, boiling brain.

Look around. Can there be words for all this?

It’s not a piano, I told me before.

We’re talkin’ graphic lines, simple twists, turns, and angles, washed by crawling sliding shadows…..but you’re stopping to think, AGAIN.

But all that llooookkss lliikkee sshhaaddoowwss oonn ggrraanniittee, ssppeeeeddiinngg ddiizzzzyy ssiiddeebbyyssiiddee.

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Chapter One

Guilt,anxiety,suspicion,anger,revenge,hate,hurt,hassle.

Chapter Two

Sex,suck,slurpussy,hotbonemeat

Chapter Three

Go downstairs and get the Coke, cos everything is ready. OK. I knew I had a job.

Chapter Four

Fresh and meaty smells the room as I open the door, returning, remembering fingering the coin slot, wondering if I’d get caught being small.

Not at all.

Safe in my imagination of how It Is.

Uplift to three-floor, cold sweaty tin in my grip. Gulp.

Anticipate, osculate,

Cunilingus Candidate.

All this typing is already getting out of hand.

This is supposed to be a squeeze…

Jio jy joy jeeee juice from the lemon.

Stay out the moon agrinnin’, the mist of poetry rising.

Facts forget inferences.

Chapter Five

The last chapter was so long, there will be nothing happening in this chapter.

Chapter Six

Pack. Something thumped the wall again.

What was that? Did you hear something?

Chapter Seven

Hanging. In a musty cobweb of dull reruns, running faster each time.

Trying to twist up your eyes.

Whirl the weight faster, round and raounde, let it go, carry itself away with what it took, and you can’t hold on to it anymore.

Loosen the nails a bit.

“Excuse me.”

“Bless you.”

Chapter Eight

Put the book down.

Dog-ear it.

Go to work.

Chapter Nine

We need to do that scene in the Bedroom.

Yeah. I know.

Chapter Ten

Guilt. Tensionintight chest.

Breath deep. Sigh.

See someone cry.

It’s all yours, Lord.

Give-in, quit dying for your Sin all around me.

I shouldn’t. I can’t hold on to concepts.

Lick and stick is all you understand.

Chapter Eleven

Open the window. Let in the fresh light, night slightly cool but definitely clear.

Something better happen here.

Don’t fade into yellow rage, don’t stop.

Go slower but don’t Stop.

Let’s spend the night together Live.

C’mon, melt like radio waves.

Chapter Twelve

Outlines. Period.

Chapter 13-THIRTEEN (thirtenly)

Notebook like guitar, typewriter like piano, voice like drums, eyes like violins.

Fingers play saxophone.

Free for all.

Chapter Fourteen

Damn it. I forgot.

Chapter Fifteen

Lean on your head.

Do you have to wonder “What for? Where to from here?”

Consider this a finger-jogging exercise, finger-fuck exercise, because there is no such thing as exercise.

You’re either playin’ the game or you Ain’t.

I am not afraid of Margins. I just lean on Margin Release.

He lets me past.

Chapter Sixteen

Shit. It’s after midnight.

Answer: I know.

Chapter Seventeen

Hello. I am Monsieur Bonheure.

She is Suizette.

We were on the Amtrak train that burned in the mountains north of here.

We were next to the Sleepers that burned.

While they burned we were naked.

I poured dry champagne upon Suizette’s lips.

I kissed her legs. The countryside reeled by in Springing colors, slid on our open window.

Just outside of our heads, we heard the stampeding feet, the rising voices, the screams.

It is good that Suizette is a student of Anthropology.

Chapter Eighteen

Stall.

This all ties to one hitchin’ post: Yester Bay.

At the site. The endless cave in Black Hill. The village. The Indian village at the Mission, buried under yards of mud and rock.

Chapter Nineteen

Etc.

Chapter Twenty

Who can Enola be? Does she know how thismesshere will become books?

Does she work at the nursery?

Chapter Twenty-1

HEY.

More wood over here. He’s smoldering out.

Face it. I’m a little burnt out on Yester Bay.

It’s still a massive mess.

A pile of spaghetti the size of Morro Rock.

Picture this:

Visions of the Gone

Minutes of the One

Between the Letters

American Seed

Seven Stories Tall

Chapter Twenty-too

This is it. Fingerwrap.

The type is cast.

I wear no glasses. See no words.

Machine gun ammo-belt word-fire is heavy, sir.

Request support. Send the Union division.

Yes. The suicide squad.

I will peek around paragraphs. Duck under commas.

Evasive action. Persuasive death. Genetically engineered re-runs.

Fractured. Disconnected.

Islands in the Silence.

I can’t believe it. These words are like seeds. Millions of spores. Looking for time and space to grow.

Fall over the hill, spring in the air conditioner.

Cast your image.

Tie up the virgins who doubt. Give them to the Gods at the bottom of the Memory Lake.

Turn these sticks into people.

Chapter Twenty-tha-ree

I’m just getting to know my typewriter.

Chapter Twenty-for what?

                Indented servants, pushed into paper. You crumple in masses.

Fall, pray.

Like an old woman.

All of your senses are hanging by fingertips.

Slippin’ into something more comfortable. Not wet.

Unchanged in the morning. Your head can only turn one way to a friend.

The laughing crow that sits on your window in morning.

None of the nurses-aides have seen the crow.

They do not listen with their hearts to the old woman.

They never see the crow.

Chapter Twenty-5

For 25 cents the hero admits he is crazy.

Chapter 26

        Stroke my mind like a tube of toothpaste.

My tongue is dry but my fingers can get so wet.

Honey-comb, you’ll make me sprain a circuit.

Just think how much flashed behind your eyes….in the time it takes to tap to twenty and back.

Fossils of radiant ideas, thudding slowly in deep clay.

That is the distance I want to leap. Then lie.

Because then it won’t matter if it is 1:30 AM.

And there is a dance called work, out there.

Meanwhile, I will wander wildly, stumble smiling into fields of blooming stories.

Living in shade, living on fruit, vegetating the sun under.

Howling rows of laughter. Drinking it all in slowly.

Dreaming once and awhile, under branching shadows, seen as jail bars.

Waking, as if coming up for air.

It’s always a close one.

But then I will feel the hand of the sun, the breath of the sea, hear harmony silent.

Was a good life.

I wrote my books.

I played my songs.

I love you.

You cannot leave me ever. Not even now.

I will hold you when I fall over the brink.

Sink in generous release, shedding like garments as from kids running to the water.

Chart me one more time, tonight.

It is down to any time.

I know it. Beyond useless fear.

I am curious fire.

I ride my slow breath

Out to the world like a lizard tongue.

Not very far. Back in again.

Deep. Sigh. Out again.

Like a barnacle raking in tiny plankton, clutching it back inside.

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SHADOW WITHOUT A MAN

shadow without a man RESIZE 1

SHADOW WITHOUT A MAN

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Drip

D

R

I

P

Can you hear that?

No, not that. That.

There, that.

Listen.

Like rainwater from the mouth of the gargoyle

Garglin’ gutter, utter guttural

Diverted funds

Glitter in the crow’s nest

Amputated trees, heaven for a friend

Cathedra Gloire

Cloaked in snow

Mary, the holy vessel, exhalted

Above cynical searches staring

Up her stone dress

Dropping prices break the braggart’s oily words

Tough times mean hard choices

Tax the unemployed

Pale yellow rind of the day, squeezed dry of daydreams

Sucking off the TV set

12,000 teenage suicides

(makes it easier to get a job)

Groaning streets, wheeling, dealing

The head of St. John, encased in gold

Welded to a platter

Scoured from the holy land

A nail for Jesus

Bile from a spigot

Blood blown spatters on the ceiling of the synagogue

Fingers scrape splinters from the polished coffin

Poem de terre, de la guerre

Tearing care, carry tears

Grasping fog, enshroud

Touch, tenderly

Rest your edges upon my fingers

Grasping for a form, to and fro, from far afar,

Touch, tentatively, blindfolded in black ribbon, hesitate

Milk the alligator, darling

Words rocket like flares

Burn this long night lost

Pebbles of thought, piled in monument

To the inner world

Verses strung like cheap fake pearls

Clichés clash like gnashing false teeth

Paper gliders aimed at the stars

Fallen to raw earth

Prospectors pan nuggets, dust, mud

Essence shorn of slag

Notes, words, scales without rhythm

Soup de jour: brain soup

Sopped up in chips of ink

Slurped into the eye

Words like blasts of birdshot

Fired blind hope bring down

Edible ideas

Screams of conscious

Soundwiggles

Piss in the Stream of Conscience

Words like noisy little firecrackers

Won’t make you fill-in the blank

Playing taps on the typewriter

Bitching obituary

Feels like so much, looks like so little

At the No-Tell Motel

Fire red enamel

Glossy lip

Glancing off the surface

Reflecting the rage of emptiness

Burn this page in flame black and white

Inner smile

Playing with my plastic girl

Beheaded by jagged glares

We are what you eat

Timid word forays go not far

Dash into the white darkness of this no-man’s land riddled with words way out to here

I’m back

Sequestered in soft tissues

Exhausted, losing sight

Invisible, unheard in passing

Purposelessness, and empty purse, abandoned nest

This empty space so pregnant with potential

Avoid a void

Might as well be drunk in the bar below

Lying about the opposite sex

Howling down the walls of darkness

Laughing in the parking lot

Cool the dancing sweat

Suckle beer singing

Puttering in my garage

Old stuff never quite mended

New things not built

A place for dirty pictures

A calendar unchanged

Except for edges of creeping brittle yellow

Words lift man to the moon

Scoffing at coffins

Sheets of poems stop bullets

Plop, poems fall plump

Some hard, some overripe

Scatter, rot or grow

Soiled in gnarled shadows

Downrooting, trodden, sullen

Burst upright blasting green

Uprooting heaven

Verbal compost, yes, all this, I know

Hot stinking mulch of severed ideas

Scrap images

Scraped off the inner walls

Behind the eyes, in the migratory, imagined mind

So-called, as cloud versus stone wall

Shadow versus skyscraper

Verse versus verse

Old age and death laugh at the material world

Pride, pain seek material

Work means so much now, work for food, reproduction

Escape from the pendulum

It isn’t in a book, it isn’t what you know

It isn’t what you think you don’t know

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The coffin was on a frame like a brass four-poster bed.

The hole lay below, with the lowering lines already draped.

The unearthed pile of dirt was discreetly covered with a tarp.

The minister did not show up.

The man’s brother gave the eulogy:

“People said he was 52, but he looked 70.”

The balance is too fine to weigh with words.

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SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 8, The Fall of the Blessed Virgin

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SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 8, The Fall of the Blessed Virgin

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          “What are you doing with her?” Rita demanded of me.

          Startled by the tone of Rita’s voice little Rosalinda took my hand again.  I resisted the impulse to yank my hand away.  That would have made it look worse.  Esmeralda lowered her gaze and imperceptibly shook her head.

          Rita continued without mercy, “Irma told us you were following her and then you disappeared.”

          I said, “I was just waiting for Irma.  I saw Rosalinda go through that break in the wall so I went after her.”

          I looked over into Irma’s unflinching eyes and knew I shouldn’t tell the truth.  Irma knew I was following her the whole time and she had acted like she didn’t.

          Irma asked little Rosalinda to come over to her.  “You went out again?  What am I going to do with you?”

          Rosalinda replied emphatically after serious consideration, “I don’t know.”  Irma carried her away inside.

          Rita dismissed the workers and she, Itza and Esmeralda had me retell what I had seen when the tourist man and woman were killed.  I didn’t tell them about Irma and Carlos.  They hadn’t asked.

          Rita and Esmeralda agreed that they needed to meet with all the other apprentice pastors as soon as possible in the cloister.

          They seemed to shut me out once again as they strode down the corridor away from me.  I shuffled past the room from which Irma had taken the metal suitcase.

          The door opened abruptly.  I was startled.  It was Irma.

          “Come in here. Quickly.”

          She shut the door behind us.  It appeared to be her bedroom.

          Against one corner was a simple mattress covered with colorfully woven blankets.  Beside the bed was a small table improvised as an altar.  Upon it were lighted votive candles that illuminated a portrait of the Blessed Virgin.  Next to that was a rickety bookshelf of holy articles and figurines.  Against the opposite wall was a wood closet inlaid with a spiral mosaic.  It was open and I could see her few humble skirts, tops, and dresses.  There was a single lantern on the wall.

          I turned around to her and she said bluntly, “If you tell anyone what you saw me doing I will deny it.  Who will they believe?  Me, or you who already have a bad reputation?”

          I was stunned.  I didn’t know what to say.

          “And if you tell, you can believe me that your life will be worthless.”

          Then we both heard Carlos angrily calling out Irma’s name as he clomped down the corridor.

          “Get into the closet!” she was pushing me.  “If you make a sound, you can believe me it will be your last.”  She closed the two doors of the wood closet.  I curled against a corner and tried to cover myself with a dress.

          Carlos burst into the room and shoved the door shut again.

          “What did you do?!” he yelled.

          One of the wood closet doors popped ajar and I could see them both.

          “What did you do?!” he started to rage.  He shoved Irma to sit her down on the bed.

          She taunted him, “Be very careful what you say to me.”

          Carlos gave her a swift clubbing across her face with his big hand.

          Irma coiled and spit blood onto his pants, “I have hidden your precious suitcase.”

          Carlos froze.

          She leaned back and her eyes flashed, warning, “So, if you do that again you will never find it and they will kill you.”

          “They will kill us both!” hissed Carlos.

          Carlos fell to his knees in front of her, bowing, pressing his fists into his eyes and clenching his teeth, “Why did you do all this?  Why?”  He was almost crying.

          Irma placed her hand gently on his head and caressed his hair as if he was a little boy.

          Suddenly, Carlos arose and grabbed Irma’s hair on both sides of her head behind her ears, pulling her up from the bed.  They stared venomously into each others’ eyes.

          Slowly Irma raised both her arms and with her finger tips began to stroke his wrists.

          Holding her hair Carlos flung her against the bookcase.  The holy figurines on the shelves trembled.

          Carlos then grabbed the neckline of her dress with both hands and tore it open to her navel.  Her breasts were tattooed in concentric circles.

          He reached to the crotch of his coarse military pants and opened them.

          He then lifted her dress and penetrated her, again and again pounding, pounding; bludgeoning her with his pelvis.

          The religious relics tumbled to the floor.

          She hung onto his shoulders with both her arms up his back.  Then her legs closed around him.  She leaned forward and bit his neck.  Through their clenched teeth they both screamed.  He staggered sideways and they fell onto the bed.

          The tiny altar table jumped and the portrait of the Blessed Virgin fell forward onto the candles extinguishing them.

          The room seemed to pulse as the lantern on the wall swayed to their harsh breathing.

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SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 7, The Orphanage

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SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 7, The Orphanage

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          I was still seeing the killings, over and over again.  None of us had said a word since we fled La Antigua.  Irma was driving us straight to the orphanage in Mudéjar.

          Itza kept looking over at Irma.  Irma’s ferocious outburst had upset me too.  Did she just assume that woman “Olivia” was guilty of child abduction and deserved to die like that?  Her anger seemed personal.

          We came to a long wall that had fallen in many places.  We drove right through one of the breaks.

          The orphanage is the former main house of the ancient colonial estate.  We stopped near the entrance.  Itza got out, “I’m going to find Rita.”  Irma followed her through the door but said nothing.  The food was still in the Rover but I wasn’t going to just stand there.

          The entrance opened into a corridor that surrounded a cloister.  There were many stairwells and other corridors.  I did not expect the intricate and colorful tile.  I saw that Itza had gone in one direction but Irma was going in the opposite direction.  I followed Irma.

          I wanted to talk to Irma but for some reason I kept to shadows as I followed her.  She stopped at a door and quickly entered.  I was unsure what to do.  I didn’t move.  A minute later she emerged dragging a metal suitcase.

          Irma kept looking behind herself but she never acknowledged me.  She struggled with the suitcase through a passage to the outside.

          I started to follow but suddenly a little girl stepped in front of me.

          She looked up at me and beamed, “Hello.”

          “Ah, hello.”

          “My name is Rosalinda.”

          “Hi.”

          “What is your name?”

          “Me, I’m Cesar.  I’m sorry, cariño.  I’ll see you later” and I moved past her.

          “Do you live here?” she said sweetly behind me.

          I went outside through the passage.  I was in a walled patio.  I saw a breach in the wall.  I could hear Irma thrashing through the vegetation beyond.  I didn’t have to be quiet as I followed the noise.

          Now close ahead the noise suddenly stopped.  I stopped.  Then I heard her huffing and I heard tearing vegetation.

          I heard her coming back my way.  I stepped behind a cluster of big leaves and I crouched down.  Irma passed me without the metal suitcase.  Her face was sweaty and she brushed her soiled hands.

          I could no longer hear her.  I proceeded to find where she had hidden the suitcase.

          I came to what looked like a T-shaped headstone.  The stone looked very old.  There was a shape carved into it.  It could have been a scorpion.  The vegetation behind it had been uprooted and then returned.

          I went around the stone and on my knees I pulled up the debris.  I soon uncovered the metal suitcase.

          “What did you found?” said little Rosalinda peering down at me over the stone.

          “You aren’t supposed to be out here.”

          “Why are you?”

          As I quickly covered the suitcase again with the torn vegetation I said “I’m not supposed to be here either.”

          “You better come with me” said Rosalinda wrapping her hand around three of my fingers.  We walked back along the trampled path.

          At the wall I picked her up and set her through the breach into the patio.  When I stepped through I looked up.  Rita, Itza, Irma, Esmeralda and several workers were there staring at me.

          “Me puto.” I raised my eyes to heaven.

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SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 6,The Burning Desire

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SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 6,The Burning Desire

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          I was against the wall, I was being stoned.  The crowd threw kerosene on me, I heard the flames crackling.  My eyes went blind with black smoke from my own burning flesh.

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          I awoke from my nightmare.  I heard rain smattering on the roof of Itza’s house.  I smelled smoke but it was sweet.  I just stared at the ceiling.  My mouth was dry.  I wanted water.  I sat up.  I could just make out objects in the twilight of that morning.

          I saw the shapes of people slowly sitting up and stretching their arms.  Some still snored softly and were quietly teased awake.  A lantern was then lighted in our room.

          Itza announced gently, “Rita has made breakfast.”

          Someone laughed, “Oh, no!” and Itza quickly amended “With my supervision.”

          Lucas, one of the male apprentice pastors, mimicked Rita, “And now I’d like to say a little prayer of thanks…”

          We filed through the open air kitchen.  There were pots and bowls of colorful ingredients.  A big cooking fire snapped and popped and smoked.

          Rita handed each of us a paper plate of panuchos or so she informed us.

          It looked like a gooey pizza but it smelled delicious.

          Some ate outside under the patio cover and watched the scattered rain.  Some leaned against the walls inside the house or sat cross-legged on their mats.  We drank our bottled water.

          I had not seen my guard.

          Rita came in and led the Morning Prayer.  She then announced “Today we start our mission by helping with reconstruction at the orphanage.  You will all be assigned to a workgroup.  You won’t need your duffle bags.  Just file outside and wait to be called.”

          Each apprentice pastor read out loud his list of assigned workers.  I was not called.  Rita said that I would accompany Itza into La Antigua to buy food for the orphanage.

          An old Land Rover bounded up the muddy alleyway and came to a sliding stop next to Itza’s low stone wall.  The woman driving leaned over to look at us.  Itza waved that we were coming.  We walked toward the Rover and suddenly my guard was beside me.

          “I go with you, pendejo.”

          I tried to sound friendly, “Hey, what’s your name anyway?”

          “Rico Suave” and he spat into the mud at my feet.

          So I thought “OK, fuck you too.”

          The woman driving was called Irma and she worked at the orphanage.  She knew Itza who got in next to her.  Irma said hello to me but nothing to the guard who sat beside me in the back.  As the Rover picked-up speed the slender Irma began a gyrating dance working the clutch, pushing the gearshift, and wrestling the steering wheel.  The muscles on her arms stood out.  All the way to La Antigua the Rover shuddered, slid, snorted and bucked like it was a bronco with Irma the rodeo rider.  Although I braced and shifted in the backseat I was able to appreciate the rolling jungle hills and the low clouds caressing them.

          El Mercado was a huge maze of shops and stalls a few blocks from La Antigua’s town center.  It was crowded with local families and some tourists.

          Itza looked at fruits, vegetables, live chickens and gossiped with all the vendors.  My guard shouldered his rifle and walked away from us through the crowd toward the plaza.  I saw Irma move away though the crowd behind him.  I couldn’t help it, I followed.

          Irma came to the end of a block and peered around the corner.  I went to the opposite side of the street and followed her gaze into the town center.

          My guard was conversing with a man and a woman who looked like tourists.  The tourist woman laughed and touched Carlos and never took her gaze off of his face.

          When I looked over for Irma she was gone.

          I quickly headed back to where I had left Itza.  She was still shopping and loading the Rover without my help.  Irma reappeared but said nothing while picking-up fruits and setting them down ignoring the vendor.

          Then there was a commotion back toward the town center and everybody began to move in that direction.  I followed in the vacuum of the crowd.

          In the plaza I could see the tourist man and woman backing up from a crescent of shouting gesturing people.  Someone threw a rock.  The tourist woman yelled for help.  Then more rocks and bottles were hurled at them.

          A fat old policeman appeared and tried to intervene.  He raised his pistol and fired a shot but he too was showered with objects and he ran away.  I could hear that the tourist couple was being accused of a child’s abduction.

          A rock struck the tourist man in the head and he crumpled to his knees.  A boy ran up behind him with a baseball bat and struck him between the shoulder blades.  The tourist man fell on his side trying to draw a breath.  A woman threw a liquid on him.  A man stepped up and flicked a lighted match.  The tourist man was suddenly on fire.  He just curled up and burned like a bug.

          The tourist woman screamed and screamed and screamed for help.

          “Olivia!” someone shouted.  It was my guard trying to force his way through the mob.  He unshouldered his rifle and struck people out of the way with the rifle butt.  “Olivia!”

          “Carlos!  Carlos!” she kept screaming.  Then she was hit on the head by a big rock and she fell to her hands and knees.  She started crawling toward Carlos’ voice like a baby, wailing and drooling .

          A young man ran out of the crowd and doused her with liquid.  She rose on her knees shrieking.  She dropped back down and crawled furiously.  Her knees left bloody skid marks.  The mob threw burning trash.  She set her hand down on a burning piece of paper and she burst into flames.  She tried to stand flailing her arms; slower and slower and then she fell forward hard on her face and she burned.

          Itza grabbed my arm.  She already had Irma in tow.  “Go right now!”

          Back in the Rover Irma stalled the engine.  It finally roared and we lurched in a cloud of black smoke.  We left Carlos somewhere behind in the mob.

          I could only yell, “Why did they kill them?”

          Itza shouted back to me, “Too many children have vanished from here.”

          Irma said viciously, “I am glad the whore is dead!”

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A REALITY TOO FAR

blue crow

A REALITY TOO FAR

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        We were all invited to The Katman’s Cutters Lounge cigar bar to share in his review of a new cigar.  The Katman’s daughter serves the ceremonial Clynelish 20-year old Scotch to Michael, Rick, David, and me.

        The Katman has been approached by a new client to review the Lars Tetens Cubagua cigar.  As he punches the stick and lights it, I can see revelation glisten in his eyes.  He scratches notes of his experience for the review.

…The secret infusions plus the masterful touch of a tobacco blender are at hand with each puff. The construction is very solid. There are a few veins but nothing out of the ordinary. The cigar is immediately complex…

        The Katman’s daughter Katie holds out to Michael, Rick, David, and me a tray of San Lotano Maduros that remained after The Katman’s last review.  Rick, David, and I reach like good little boys offered candy, but Michael holds back.  The Katman notices Michael’s pensive expression and asks him, “What’s up?”

        Michael reaches finally for the proffered cigar, but he says, “This is a beautiful routine, but it is a routine.”

        Michael sits back and looks at the silky construction of his San Lotano, but his ears are perked for one of us to rise to his bait.

        Rick strikes first, “You mean ‘realize that a good hunter knows one thing above all–he knows the routines of his prey’?”

        David says in an exaggerated moan, “Oh, no.  Not Carlos Castaneda.”

        Michael gives David an imperious look as if to silence a jester, and he quotes, “‘All of us behave like the prey we are after. That, of course, also makes us prey for something or someone else’”.

        David skewers back, “Well I pray for something or someone else.”  David always takes pleasure farting in Michael’s imperium.

        Michael’s comments had transported me.  When I was in college I joined a book club and chose a free book because I liked the cover: Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Casteneda.  I started reading it and then I carried it with me class-to-class reading it on my lap.  I read it all in one day.  I don’t know why I didn’t just take the day off, but the perspective and philosophy of Journey to Ixtlan filled that college kid’s need for a new true belief.

        Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books [I found out that Journey to Ixtlan was the 3rd book] that describe his alleged training in shamanism. The books, narrated in the first person, relate his supposed experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui “Man of Knowledge” named Don Juan Matus. His 12 books have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages. Critics have suggested that they are works of fiction; supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy and descriptions of practices which enable an increased awareness.

–   From Wikipedia,

        It had been a huge fad.  And even now, concepts from Castenada’s works have been used in The Matrix, Inception, and other movies and TV episodes.  I had always thought that whether those books were true or not, one could prove the principles for oneself.  Michael, Rick, The Katman, and me had taken it to heart “back in the day”.  Since there were supposedly only four kinds of men, therefore in our “warrior’s party” Michael was “the man of action”, Rick was “the man of knowledge”, The Katman was “the man who pointed the way”, and I was “the organizer behind the scenes”.

        David, who has always been a realist, even as an acid poet on a fishing boat in Alaska, does not let drop the metaphorical skewer that he has in Michael’s side as he Googles his iPhone and reads to Michael from Wikipedia without mercy, “Castaneda died on April 27th, 1998 in Los Angeles due to complications from hepatocellular cancer.  At the heart of Castaneda’s movement was a group of intensely devoted women, all of whom were or had been his lovers.  They were known as “the witches”, and two of them vanished the day after Castaneda’s death.  A few weeks later, Patricia Partin, Castaneda’s adopted daughter as well as his lover, also disappeared.  Partin’s red Ford Escort was found abandoned in Death Valley’s Panamint Dunes.  In February 2006, a skeleton found in Death Valley was identified through DNA analysis as Partin’s.”

        Ricky comes to Michael’s rescue, “The principles are valid.  They are from Native American philosophy.  We just couldn’t live that way, that’s all.  We were too self-important to change.”

        David observed, “It didn’t do the Native American’s much good, now did it?”

        Ricky countered, “Most of them were ‘average men’.  They weren’t all spirit warriors.”

        Michael sneers, “The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of the onlooker and calls that self-confidence.  The warrior seeks impeccability in his own eyes and calls that humbleness.”

        Ricky continues his support, “We have all learned to relate ourselves to our description of the world in terms of our routines.”

        Michael reaches his crescendo, “Are any of you still warrior enough to stalk the unknown?”

        David shakes his head, speechless.  The Katman asks Michael, “What exactly do you have in mind?”

        Michael challenges us, “Let’s break this routine, escape our tonal and go outside for a walk tonight, which we never do, and see if we can encounter the unknown, the nagual.

        In the warrior’s credo, the tonal is the world we see and the things we name.  The nagual is the inexplicable unknown that dwells behind all we see, the ocean surrounding the island of our tonal.

        Ricky stands up with a flourish, “A walk would be nice.  If we dare.”

        I concur, “Sure, why not.  It’s nice out tonight.  I can always use the exercise.”

        Michael slowly arises and taunts David, “Well, David?”

        David laughs and replies, “Sure, I can make time to watch ‘the unknown’ kick your ass.”

        Ricky ameliorates, “That’s the spirit, gentlemen!”

        The Katman’s eyes glow from the ember of his cigar, and he observes, “Well, well, a warrior’s reunion.”

        The Katman’s daughter Katie is nearby and she asks, “Do you cigar-store Indians all have your warrior’s walkers?”

        We all blow clouds of smoke at Katie, saying in derision, “Boooo!”

        The Katman’s Cutters Lounge is a couple blocks from the beach on Newport Peninsula.  The day had been record heat, but now in this evening the marine layer of low clouds and fog are being drawn past us into the pillars of heat that rise from the inland valleys.

        Michael gestures above with all his fingers caressing the air, saying, “Create a fog around yourself and your life.  Nobody will know for sure who you are or what you do.  How can I know who I am, when I am all this?

        David laughs, “I’ll Google my iPhone.”

        I can’t help joining the teasing, saying, “I’ll subpoena your tax records.”

        The salt air is refreshing to the palate.  My cigar tastes even better as we stroll, listening to the inhale and exhale of the rising tide.

        Suddenly there is a long lamenting cry that surrounds us.

        Michael says triumphantly, “What was that?”

        David sags his shoulders in exasperation, “That was a Sand Piper.  A common sea bird.”

        Ricky shakes his head grinning, “Or so the nagual would have you believe.  That’s the routine answer, David.”

           Michael turns around and starts striding backwards away ahead of us, commanding, “Disrupt routines.”

        On that cue, we all start clowning with silly walks from the old Ministry of Silly Walks skit by Monty Python.  Michael is still striding farther ahead of us.

        We see a car pull up to the curb beside Michael and we can hear a passenger say, “Hey, dude.”  Michael approaches the open windows of the vehicle.

        A passenger asks, “Do you know where Water Street is?”

        Michael considers for a moment and then says, “I’m not sure where it is,” as he is looking to us quizzically.

        Suddenly, the passenger hollers, “It’s right here!” and there is a volley of water thrown upon Michael from a Soaker Water Gun and a Water Gun Blaster.  Michael is drenched in an instant and the car peels away screeching and spewing laughter.

        We stop fooling around and rush to Michael’s side, saying while suppressing laughter, “Are you alright?”  David roars with laughter first, and we all twirl and collapse laughing.

        Michael forces a good-natured grin looking down at himself, and he says, “Well, David.  I guess the Unknown did kick my ass.”

        The Katman’s eyes glow from the ember of his cigar and he pronounces, “The nagual is terrifying but it is not without humor.”

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