Sunday, April 22, 2012

After the sun disappears I find myself on Pangolin street, under one of the cameras, pulling faces and practicing sign language. It has been years, I realize, since I took any lessons, and those were from someone I could never be sure actually knew what he was doing. Perhaps he was simply making the gestures up as he went along and I was paying him twelve dollars an hour! The prospect, the first of its kind to visit since those rarified days, fascinates me so much I drop my hands so as to better concentrate on all its implications -- so as not to distract the weak and minimal movements inside my mind with those naturally more rigorous conducted by my body. Just then someone tosses a dart in my direction. I am completely vulnerable, zoned out like an aye-aye on its vine, my hands slow to come to my face’s protection and so the dart sticks a little in my chin. It wobbles and doesn’t hurt and what blood emerges does so only reluctantly and in trace amounts, as if the blood knows that it is unwelcome here, that its prospects upon emerging are basically nil. I hear some hushed whispers from the shadows, the first trace of someone’s mirth, a sound no doubt belonging to the culprit and one I attempt to commit to memory so as to match it up later with whoever happens to emit that sound in my presence. Thus, I suppose, giving his identity away and opening himself up to the retribution I am almost positive would be forthcoming. I like to think I am a patient man, but the truth is I have no patience, and my memory is brittle like a sponge out of water. Only guilt sticks around for any extended period of time, a hazily-defined mass that hovers at shoulder-height and follows me now down Pangolin street with the dart still sticking in my chin. The first and lasting thought is, of course, that I somehow deserve this, that it is in cosmic alignment with some deed I have committed in the past or something I am going to do in the near or even distant future. Perhaps, then, it’s best to leave this emblem of my transgression where it is, let it hang there for all the world to see as testimonial of some sort. Or, better yet, talisman. Against whatever else might be in the works. The vengeance coming down on me in sheets and rivers of lightning, in letters filled with vitriol and published in the editorial section of the local newspaper. But then, no one reads the newspaper anymore and they never really look beyond the mirror. I’m not talking about the actual mirror they keep on the wall in the bathrooms of their houses, but the mental one they carry around inside them wherever they go, the image of themselves they have generated over the decades by plucking attributes from those they meet on the street – an eye here, a protruding nose hair there – and re-arranging them according to a pattern they have worked out based on the tales they tell about themselves in their heads. You know what these tales are like! Truly remarkable things happen in them. The whole world is brought to heel. Even Love is there. It makes its appearance. Love plays a musical instrument. It is a virtuoso, in fact, on something very like the Hammond organ.

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