Archive for January, 2011


Roland’s Choice

by mdjb

Nothing had changed. The thirsty reaper had righteously chosen water over wine and Chezery had been delivered a backhand miracle.
On the roof of their home, in another era, Jean Claude and Laure lay stargazing, but as the Pinot took effect, he lost count causing her to do the same. She blamed the wine, not him. They had brought their own.
“You know,” he said, “A ticket out does not ensure kismet will follow. Fate still has the upper hand.”
She climbed on top of him, and for a few minutes played at engaging his interest, but when she felt him trying to respond, actually trying, she desisted. “I want to go down to bed,” she whispered, keeping accusation out of her voice. “The stars are making me dizzy.”
“What is true will be true anywhere,” he said, and she knew he was still on about the Big Move, the concern over which explained his lack of response to her ministrations.
One of them had haphazardly tuned the radio to a station playing older, softer tunes where the host alternated music and chatting of this, that, and everything, and it had stayed on all afternoon into the evening. At one point he had related the story of Saint Roland and the thirsty reaper, followed by historical bits about the region.
Later in bed, Laure not so tired as she thought she was, lay awake listening to the radio when a flashing light crossed the sky and she shifted position, pulling the the duvet up to her chin. Her quick movement caused Jean Claude to stir, and he asked her if something was bothering her.
“I was just imagining what life here would be like had he chosen the wine,” she said.
“Who are you talking about?” he said.
“It’s nothing. Did you see that shooting star?” but there was no response, and she knew he was awake.


Slightly Closer to the Heart of Creation

by mdjb

I just needed a little more time, but wasting away as I was, moved not close enough. Color was and is everything.
Behind the bleachers, I noted a young woman of grace and bearing, and in the background, a heron. Perspective played a trick and the two appeared to be conversing. Color told the truth, as her face and blouse brilliantly explained the conversation was an illusion, though she seemed perfectly capable of communicating with the bird, and was extending her neck as if as if having grounded herself after a flight.
My musical career, though remarked upon and favored by my parents, gained me less notoriety than my paintings. I had always the facility to sketch, but it was not until I was the granted the gift of understanding color theory, that I was able to fully communicate what I was thinking, and then there was no going back, though I often sat in reverie. Gone were the momentary vicissitudes of youth, but the light produced sweeter sounds than ever the scales could help me reproduce.
I never told Lily how much that young woman reminded me of her, the way she looked when we first married sixteen years earlier. The woman was a piece of candy to the banquet of what Lily became.
Every day in later years, I went to the mailbox waiting for word on my citizenship in the country of my birth, which would not be granted until six days after my demise, wasted but ultimately vindicated. That must have gladdened my survivors for the little good it did me. I was exonerated, and promoted from the pornographer I had been considered. How I loved color.
My only regret is never having explicated the use of phallic symbols in the portrait of the young woman behind the bleachers. Darling Lily never got over that. She often stated I should have followed my parents’ wishes.


Warm Up

by mdjb

We all knew what was coming next. Mr. A would turn off the projector, another Inconvenient Truth would be followed by his imploring us to think up ways to save the world from global warming, we would make up some posters or a couple of teams would shoot some videos, and that would be our term project. Mr. A never updated his scenario from semester to semester. Once, when Jared offered that we’d watched a very convincing opposite point of view on YouTube it enraged him that anyone could think the world’s end would not be caused by mankind.
In the garage that afternoon as the band was rehearsing for the February Festival of Song, Jared surprised us with a notion to write a song about global warming we could perform in the cafeteria and collect money to donate toward research on the problem. “That could be our project, and that way we could kill two birds with one stone,” he said.
“Ah,” said Paulie, who was majoring in History, “The Single Bullet Theory. Kind of ironic, don’t you think? Killing two birds to save the world?” He strummed the opening chords of Human League’s Seconds.
“Are you getting soft on Mr. A, Jared?” Nick asked.
“Not really, but I have to get good grades this term, or I’m not getting my car in the summer,” he said.
“A car that will add to the warming problem?” Paulie asked.
“You don’t have to ride in it,” Jared countered, “But I know you will.” That was a low blow because we all knew Paulie’s folks couldn’t afford to buy him a car. He had had to work all last summer to pay for his guitar. Jared, who might ride Mr. A until the cows came home but was never really like that with his friends, must have realized how his remark sounded and quickly apologized, “Sorry, Paulie, that just slipped out.”
Nick had been jotting down some ideas for lyrics on a notepad, and said “Hey, guys, listen to this. Something’s leaking from my car, and I think it’s the end of the world. I don’t want to stress that I dress to impress, but it’s never about the girl…”
“What the hell does that mean?” Paulie asked.
“I don’t know. That’s all I…” Nick began, but was interrupted by a loud knocking sound like someone desperately trying to get in, or out, of some contained place.
The others looked at me, I guess because I hadn’t said anything in a while. Then we looked at Jared because it was his garage and the noise seemed to be coming from the trunk of his father’s car.


Found in the Gutter

by mdjb

My brain hurts. I am lying on the floor under the bed. The light coming in from outside is too bright even with the curtains drawn.
My mind feels like a box containing the sins of my past. I have not so much to fear as some of my acquaintances in reflecting on past sins, but in this morning’s condition, it hurts even to think about more than crawling into the bathroom for a bromo and some aspirin, though I doubt I have the strength to do so.
I think of the Spanish word for hangover, la cruda, and I do feel crude. When I get together with friends and they start tossing back the tequila, I am usually left behind sipping my second or third drink when it’s time to search out another bottle.
New Year’s Eve is different.
As I effect that thought, I try to encase it in one of those cartoon bubbles, so it can drift somewhere to the left or right of my head, but definitely outside, and not working on bursting my brain.
Have I done so much wrong in my life to deserve this pain from celebrating the end of another year with recently-made friends? None of them ever want to know about what my life was like back in New York. They repeatedly ask what I am doing here in Mexico; as if my life began the last time I stepped off a plane. Last night on the way to José’s place I found in the gutter a charm lost from some woman’s bracelet. It looked like a thought balloon with the words Te lo mereces inscribed on it. As I, for some unknown reason, pocketed the charm, I was reminded of a foolish and terrible experience I had undergone as a teenager, and during the rest of my walk, I rehearsed the Spanish words in my head to be able to relate it to the rest when the joke telling started. Somehow I never had my chance when the conversation started moving too fast and the tequila blurred my past into my present.
So today is January first, and I am hiding from the months to come. Although they’ve got to bring better than what’s gone before, I feel like shit, and wish someone would just wipe me away with a piece of toilet paper. Or at least bring me a couple of aspirin and let me lie here for a while until they take effect.