Posts Tagged ‘Series’

Dreams That Haunt Us

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Fiction
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Dreaming men are haunted men.” Therefore, every man is haunted. And little girls too.

It is the peculiar aspect of dreams that haunt us, the I-know-not-from-whence aspect to them that causes them to stay with us. Sexual dreams gratify, dreams of wealth and prosperity excite us, dreams of health and well being entice us. But those are not the dreams that stay with us. It is the dream of the room at the top of the stairs, the one with the shadow just off in the distance, the dream of the face unknown yet wholly familiar; these are the ones that resonate and find a home within. In short, the dreams that come and call to us. The one just beyond explanation.

Our second tale is about Renita Jai.  A little girl haunted not only in life, but in her dreams as well.

Dreams That Haunt Us: Monnstro

Little Renita Jai. She had been called “Little” since she was born because she had taken her name from her great grandmother, the great matriarch of the family. A woman so important, so revered, that her name had been hers alone, kept from at least two generations. Hers alone, that is, until Little Renita Jai. She was the stuff of miracles: born premature, given a grim prognosis by the doctors. Her parents were told that if she lived at all, it would be at a ghastly price. That she would never maintain a “normal life.” Her eyes were malformed, though she could see. Her tiny arms were mangled and deformed, the shape a stick of Laffy-Taffy might take if left in the South Texas sun too long. Laffy-Taffy was her mother’s favorite candy, banana flavored. Her legs were bowed at the knees, so much so that they might have been portals to another dimension, to another time.

Her skin was so dark and mysterious, with multiple shades of deep, dark bruise-purple, it made the dense night sky writhe in jealousy of her. Her eyes, when they were open to be seen a deep eerie white, as white as pure sin after the Lord’s grace had washed it clean. She was a scion of a proud African family that came to Kingsville very early, when dark folks were welcomed only for the labor they could provide. They had settled in what was called “Little Africa” on the corner of 2nd street and Huisache; her great grandmother among the first to settle the neighborhood on land donated to the “town folk” by the venerable King family.

Renita Jai was not expected to live passed a year. And that year was to be full of heartache and medicine, doctor’s visits and costly procedures until finally what ailed would prove victorious and take her fragile little life. Leaving the family with memories and questions of “Why?” And yet, here she was at age six. A precocious girl with dark curly hair, eyes a splendid moss green, and a smile as wide as Texas itself. She still suffered the pains of her misfortune, of course, because miracles never work out as we’d like them to. In life, Lazarus never really rises from the dead. Or Jairus’ daughter for that matter. But here was Renita Jai, alive despite all the wisdom of the learned medicine men. She had just began learning to talk, a symptom of her mother’s insatiable need to read her stories at night. All the classics too: Dr. Seuss, the Brother’s Grimm, Aesop. When she began to speak it was a little miracle in and of itself.  When she was able to put words together, enough to string sentences along toward a semblance of meaning, she told her mother about a recurring dream she had.

~Mommy, I dreamed of a place I’ve never been. I was wearing a pretty dress with my new shoes daddy bought me and my hair was up in a bow. A purple bow. It was a big parking lot but there was no cars. It was night and I was all alone. The lights were on but I could only see so far into the distance. And it was purple everywhere. Dark and purple, like when I look out the window when you read to me, and the train tracks go on forever and ever. I was scared because I could feel something was there in the dark where I could not see.  I called out, “monnstro…monnstro,” like I knew the name of the thing that was there in front of me.  Then a man came behind me. He was a good man and asked what I was doing all alone out in the parking lot.

In my dream all I could do was point out into the darkness. And the man asked, “what are you pointing at? Are you afraid of the dark? There’s nothing there sweetie, I promise.” And all I could do was point out there. I was very thirsty too. When I could talk, I told the man “monnstro.” But he could not understand me: “Monnstro, what’s that sweetie? What is that?” I looked at him but he still didn’t understand me. And so I pointed again into the dark place. Then he said, “do you mean Monster?” And he walked a little bit to see if he could see something. And he said, “there’s nothing out there sweetie. No monsters. Nothing.”

That’s when we heard it. A loud noise, mommy. A very loud noise like a lion and a pig and a person all screaming at once. And the man jumped toward me to try and cover me. All I could do was cover my ears and close my eyes real tight. And then I woke up.

Her mother was put off by the dream she heard.  And told her that dreams are mysterious things that happen to everyone.  That sometimes they are scary but sometimes they are really good too.  And throughout all your life, she told her, dreams will always happen to you.  There’s no need to be afraid of them.  It was then that Renita asked pointedly, then why do I have this one all the time? And not those other ones?

Renita Jai lives and resides in Kingsville to this day.  Her mother has passed and her father too.  She lives her life with some pain and sorrow, as we all do.  She’s made something of herself. She can walk, talk and work; do all those things “normal” people do everyday.  All that which the doctors said she would never do.  Those words she outgrew long ago.  She has had a thousand dreams since then, and a thousand nightmares too.  But  this one, this dream, of her fragile little voice echoing in the night, “monnstro,” haunts her still.



Posted: August 6, 2011 in Fiction
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     The people of Kingsville are cursed. I mean this in the best sense of the word, too. They are burdened by a thing outside themselves; a longing for something more, an abiding spirit for elsewhere. A small town can do that, you know. It’s in everything, in everyone. It drips from the pores like sweat on any given day. And to quote R.P. McMurphey, “it ain’t up to [us].” It’s beyond us. And yet we make do. How you ask? By developing culture and communal good times? No! We are a non cultured folk. For as much as we want something “to happen,” for as much as we want something “to do,” when it comes down to it and something does happen, the turn out is nil. Just ask any musician, or any artist or an event coordinator, the turn outs are nil.

We thrive in the individual spaces where by we drink and, often, drug ourselves into intimacy. Dawn-lit restaurants where folks drink their coffee and eat their food, night drenched houses where friends engage each other, the incessant car culture: that hallowed space in which we cruise our lives away. And most especially at work. These are the truest expressions of life in the Ville. The places where utopian moments of the face-to-face are created to endure the mundane life of our town. We are forced rather “to be” than “to do.”

Our first tale comes to us from roofers, those all important souls envied by none. A tortuous job in stifling heat, a job had by a lead “strongman” with experience and authority and the young-uns who take orders and try their best not to get thrown off the roof.


Lucas looked up suddenly, holding his gaze forward just above the horizon. He placed the shovel on the surface of the roof and said aloud:

I’m taking a break, yo, I’m feeling titular.”

–You have gained a lot of weight over the last few months, you should be feeling the weight of them bitch tits you got going on, Erasmo retorted annoyingly,

–this is the fifth time you stop working.

With all the petulance of a spoiled child he could muster, Erasmo mocked him derisively:

— “it’s hot,” “there’s sweat in my eyes,” “I’m losing my footing,” “My hands hurt,” “I’m thirsty.”

Real funny, retard. Why don’t you try reading a book, yeah. Titular: I just got inspired with a title, yo,  for a song. And I ain’t about to work through that shit – I’ll forget”

–Inspired by what kid, the blazing sun?! We gotta finish this shit before Clifton gets back. This section of the roof’s got to be ready by tomorrow! Be inspired after work, homie, he cautioned with all the concern of an older brother he could muster.

It ain’t even lunch time yet, dog, we got all day for this shit. Check this out, I got a title for a song: Quaalude Kerfuffle ”

–You’re on Quaaludes, man, what the fuck does that mean?”

It’s about an argument right, an altercation between two lovers while on Quaaludes but because they’re so bombed they can’t do anything but laugh about it, yeah – I got a beat for it an everything.”

–And that’s what you don’t want to forget?! You trippin’ man, let’s get back to work already!

— I ought to kerfinkle you off this damn roof, motherfucker.

Lucas, by now begrudgingly persuaded, picked up his shovel and began tearing into the roof again, stopping for momentary breaks to wipe the sweat from his brow and to shelter his eyes from the powerful sun. About five minutes passed when he asked with feigned curiosity:

“Is it almost lunch time? I’m hungry like a wolf”

–Dude, stop again and I swear to God you’re working through lunch! I ain’t got time for this shit!

Relax, dog, it’s just a question, damn. Why you gotta get all Rosanne Bar on me”

–One hour man, that’s all we need if you shut the hell up already and work. O-n-e. H-o-u-r!

Ayight man, cool. Where we going for lunch?”

–Bitch, we ain’t “going” anywhere, didn’t you bring your lunch?

Uhh, no!”

–Well, guess who ain’t eating then…

What?! That’s fucked up dog! But you know what, I’m cool with that. I’ll work through lunch- but my work, Not this wetback shit. I’m gonna write lyrics for my song, yeah.

–Do what you want, bro, Quaalude Garfunkle my ass.

Kerfuffle. Get it right: Ker-fuf-fle!”

And so Lucas began. Mentally mapping various rhyming schemes, hooks and catch phrases. Hi-hat patterns and snare blitzes.  He’d often break into melody and dance on the spot sending Erasmo into fits of laughter.

–Dude, you ain’t right, he’d say.

Time flies when you’re having fun so before he knew it, Erasmo informed him about lunch.

–hey Snoop Dog, it’s time to eat. And I got your lunch right here, he said, holding on to his crotch.

I always knew you went that way Assmo! I just knew it, dog.”

Finding a place under a tree they sat under the blistering sun to eat.

–Here, I happen to bring extras today. You’re lucky!

Shit, you alright man. I’m hungry as fuck”

–yeah, yeah – like a wolf, I know

But I’m still gonna work on my lyrics though, if you’re lucky I’ll include you!”

They laughed with each other as much as at each other and began to eat their lunch. Raising their tacos to each other they shared in a moment of rest:

Cheers, dog”

–Cheers, man!

What Heat Hath Wrought

Posted: August 6, 2011 in Current Events
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I’m not one to point out the obvious but it is hot outside!  All over Texas, and much of the U.S. as well, the temperature is rising higher than the national debt or the ubiquitous student loan.  And there seems to be no respite in sight.  All over our nation, a dozen or more have died from the heat, from the elderly to the homeless.  I was recently informed by a friend, given his Farmer’s Almanac proclivities, that the first cold front came to Kingsville on September 27 last year.  And so I have chosen to mark that date on my calender…in hot pink…like a precocious, indulgent teenager marking her first sexual experience with “the one!”   But moodiness and indulgence of another sort: stories.

One of the enduring aspects of actual education I received in a college history class was when we read ‘The Decameron’ by Giovanni Boccaccio.  If you’ve not read that book, or parts thereof, I suggest you drop by the local 1/2 Price and pick up a copy of the MOFO (you’ll thank me later).  I will ever be thankful to Dr. Ferguson over at TAMUK for the formal introduction to the book, it deeply changed some stuff for me; or at least provided a healthy rearranging of literary things.  It is with that book in mind that I embark on daily stories to combat the ill effects high temperatures can have on the body and the mind.  And to keep me busy as I spend all the time I can indoors!