Sunday, February 13, 2011

Death and Politics at the end of the World

(Having made her way down through the Keys, my main character is finally arriving onto the island. If you want to review you can find the first part of her drive here and the next part here. Perhaps it might be helpful to know that you are entering an otherworldly realm as you journey with my character. It is not fantasy nor is it magical realism although perhaps that might be a helpful touchstone... things happen that are out of the extraordinary so be prepared!... a reminder that my formatting is different in Word. I have far more freedom than I do in Blogger and formatting is part of the text. I use formatting and fonts to promote a mood or to have the words show more than might be shown in simple text formatting. )
Bells over my right shoulder, I glance over, startled to spy a stout, charcoal-skinned grandma in full gypsy garb, hobbling off the curb just as the Conch Tour Train rattles up to the light. She leaps nimbly backwards, the fluid motion in sudden and surprising contrast. She lifts her fist and shouts, face contorting as though uttering a curse as the train rambles obliviously on around the corner. A tall broad-shouldered… woman? adorned in a floral, foo-foo tutu and flowing hot pink boa hangs out the door of the train, shouts back to a thick-chested man leaning against the back window sporting a leather bustier, one thigh-high booted leg draped casually down the side of the car. The passenger-laden train is blossoming with men outfitted in a bouquet of taffeta and silk. A rowdy rooster struts down the sidewalk, confident in his own colorful array, raucously punctuating the human cacophony. He flutters onto the sidewalk, inches from the tire tracks of a swimsuit clad couple, sporting matching full-body tattoos, brattling by on scooters, weaving in and out of idling traffic.
            “… more like a carnival.” I ease my vice grip on the wheel, clicking the red ruby slippers of memory. “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
             Involuntarily, yet necessarily
drawn to the water,
I drive.
            Past the turn in to an abandoned bar;
                                                past palm and pond;
            past bougainvillea and banyan;
and finally,
 past the fort . . .
past the past.
Bread crust colored shoreline nearly deserted.
The gulf breeze tousles my hair
I come to myself, agape… 

Here are your waters and your watering place…
deep calls to deep
A woman and child face each other in the water, modest swimsuits quaintly reminiscent of an innocence long forgotten, capturing my attention. “Allie, put your face under the water! It won’t hurt you. Now blow bubbles…” The girl's shoestring arms cling then flail. Her moon-shaped face dips, arcs, mouth gapes in a desperate gasp, then sputters and coughs.
 frightening depths…
thought I would die…
terrifying baptism…
“It’s all right… won’t hurt you. Just a little water! Here.” Clutching, they buoy in the waves until the child’s laughter peels over the sonance of wave, wind and wings.
generated soul…
drink and be whole again… 

“So you come to the end of the world, Child,” a lyrical voice breaks my reverie. “What you think you’re going to find here?”

  The question hovers, a sparrow caught in a headwind. My gaze flitters back to the pair still bobbing in the waves. I know them… how?
  “Trying to find yourself?” Her voice holds tangy lilt that exposes the question’s banality.
  I squint, amused that she is so dispositioned to entice consumers, approaching them regardless of their susceptibility. “What are you selling, Grandma?”
   Her fake grin dissolves. Thick webs of tangled braids oscillate around her counterfeit affability. She smiles wryly. “Lookin’ to tell Martha Money how she will meet the love of her life.”
   “I’m not interested in having my fortune told. Save it for Martha and the rest of the rubes.” Where did they go? They had been by the rocky outlay. On the beach? A lobster-colored young couple lies motionless side by side. An elderly woman creeps to the concession stand. Underwater? Gentle waves lap onto the beach undisrupted by thrashing limbs.  
            “You’ll find many things- here - at the end of the world, child…” Her voice blends into the music of the beach.
            I turn back to the parking lot and search for the duo on the road:      
exiting the park???                       
gathering bicycles???              
I cross the blistering tar preoccupied with my hunt. My senses are awakened by the metallic melody of bicycle bells, the roll of engines, searing sidewalks, and piquant seafood. No hint of the familiar strangers. Dead ended, my curiosity dribbles off and the urgency that brought me across the country tugs at my sleeve again. I turn toward the parked car to finish my journey.   The tumult of a couple in the throes of modern love impedes my departure, the loci of the contention blocking the rental. Leaning against the car door, quietly hoping Heathcliff and Cathy note my presence and scram, I resume my recollection, ingesting the ambience of the beloved burg I experienced when visiting my aunt as a child.
Cathy’s voice rises over the sounds of the street, the words shrill, taut, faltering as a sob breaks through. Heathcliff steps forward, the timber of his voice low, controlled. Her sharp protests interrupt his words, their voices trip and collide.  “You said”“we were supposed””you are such”“to go after the show”“a liar”“I told you”“I hate you”“I was going to”“you told me”“you are such”“you loved me”“a bitch” watch out “Would you shut up and listen”what is not known “You can’tcould kill you...
            I turn, seeking the source of the third voice. Perhaps the Rastafarian fortune teller followed me…  then spot the old lady lingering in her booth, a black hole in the murky shadows. It echoed her voice, her accent, but distinctions coiled around the couple’s blistering words making it impossible to extract origins. The low bassy boom of a passing car… a radio?
            “Don’t expect me”“leave me”“take you home”“Bobby you said”“find your own way”“you loved me!” Her final words ring out as he strides past, brushing away grasping hands. She collapses onto the car, her back bowed, head buried. 
            I glance at drifting stratus and exhale, relieved there’d been no need to ask anyone the number for nine-one-one. The air backlogs, my cheeks balloon. A slight whistle escapes between pursed lips. Hesitant to break into her solitude, I nonetheless burgle.  “Umm, hey, I’m sorry. That, that was… uh, You okay? I, well, I was wondering… I just need to ask… did he tell you to watch out? Or that something could, um,  kill you?”
            She lifted her blotchy eyes to mine. A puzzled expression said more than the mumbled “What?”
            “Well, did you? I mean you didn’t say you’d… umm, kill him?”
            The cash register of her mind completes the transaction. “What the fu--”
            “Yeah, no… I didn’t think so. It’s just that I, err…Never mind…” I flee. Pulling out into the steady stream of traffic, I am only half aware of changing lights and turning cars as I measure my own lucidity.


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