Archive for June, 2011


Fault Lines

by mdjb

Ana showed me a light blue bruise on her left arm, and told me a student who burst through a door had accidently whammed her a few days earlier. “It looked worse yesterday,” she said, “So I guess it’s getting better.” I had just shared a smoke with one of the young women down visiting from Monterrey Campus, the one who still bore scar lines on her forearms from when she used to cut herself, the same student who used to leave me love notes folded into their own enveloping little rectangles. Those notes would alternately praise my dynamics and complain about the sameness of the assignments I handed out. Ana, who had had Terese in her class the semester before I did, had asked me to go easy on her. “Trouble at home that’s beyond our fixing,” she said. As I noted her mending bruise, I was reminded how student problems become teacher problems, as much for the unregarded teachers of English as for the truly dedicated and variously commended individuals who taught the important subjects.
Terese, who now smoked because her fiancé did, had told me she was soon to step into a high-paying position in the Office of International Relations, and had come back to the Chiapas Campus to pick up some needed papers. She also asked if I would write a letter of recommendation. The constancia seemed like overkill as she had already obtained the job she was seeking. When I mentioned that I had not seen her younger sister in some time, she told me Paulina was studying in Germany for a year, and would return to get her diploma after a couple of ultimate classes. Both such plain-looking girls, they would never have to worry about their appearances as they matured into women because they came from an old- moneyed family. Her fiancé would never worry either. His name was Angel, and Terese referred to him as mi angelito, but if truth be told, it appeared they were role playing. The thin brown hairlines on her arm were always in evidence, and I assumed she did not think about them much.
Ana is a beautiful woman, voluptuous in a way that does not come off like working at it. Paler-skinned in parts usually covered by sleeves, her ten-peso sized blue spot almost looked sexy. Her one fault is the tendency to share bits of gossip, and an intermittent directness that sometimes reverberates beyond its worth.
“You’ve been smoking,” she said. “Did you see Terese out back? I know she always liked you.”
“As a matter of fact, I did,” I admitted. There are times I enjoy winning, and too often I have felt I could not live up to her prior term mothering.
“They won’t last. I see them divorcing after maybe two years.” She was a good winner, but a terrible loser, and it was only in such situations she might crack wise or snap back unthinking, but I am not beyond parrying a foul shot, and replied, “I hope your arm feels better by the weekend.”
Our roles are now reversed once again. I used to work for her, although I never completed my tasks in a timely manner, assuming privilege of previous leadership, subconsciously or otherwise, and lately she had been responding in kind. She admitted she did not care much for my assistant, a position that had been created when I was asked to return to the post after five years among the drones.
“It’s nothing.” She brushed it off. “If your young Romeo waltzes by Terese, she and her angelito might not even make it to the altar. He’s a charmer, that one.”
I was going to ask if that door had hit her head instead of her arm, but there was her blueness doubtlessly declaring her rectitude. I was having issues of my own with young Romeo, and recalling a teacher who had been sent packing after a little too much congeniality with female students, but they were issues I had decided not to discuss with my beautiful ex-boss. I was not even certain they existed or whether I had imagined them into being. I was still smarting over being told I would have an assistant to help me through problems that had once repositioned me. I thought I had overcome them while droning.
“Well,” Ana said, “I’d better be off. I have tons of papers to grade.”
“Take care,” I said as she headed towards the back court. She would be going to her car, and I knew she would check to see if our visitors were still hanging around. If she stopped to chat with them, it was a certainty there would be some nervous sleeve-tugging occurring.


Something About a Train Wreck

by mdjb

When decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train and the murderer of a curator at the Louvre. In an assignment unlike any he’s ever known, he learns he’s part of a sinister government secret that has been protected since the days of Christ, a program that enables him to cross over into another man’s identity in the last 8 minutes of his life. With a second, much larger target threatening to kill millions in downtown Chicago, the granddaughter of one of the victims and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, help Colter re-live the incident over and over again, gathering clues each time becoming both suspects and detectives, until they can all claim the resolution of the mystery of who is behind the bombs, the murder in the museum, and the stunning secret of the ages, and also prevent the next attack. This mash-up is filled with mind-befuddling twists and a modicum of suspense, but not nearly so many as in the books, which ended every chapter in cliff-hangers that did not transfer smoothly into the screen version. Still, if you’ve got four and a half hours to spare, you may enjoy the popcorn, and the French woman looks lovely, though not so charming as she did in the movie that originally attracted our attention–the one with all the bright Dick Tracy primary colors.