Protected: The Oil Gypsie


  (Names, dates, and personal descriptions have been altered to protect the participants of events. Some things have been made ‘semi-fictional’ for the same purpose. In what you read here only events are real.)   The Oil Gypsie By Mary (Maryam) Shannon aka ‘Irishasia’ She: What Came Before Many generations before I was born SHE existed. I only came to know about her because She knew I was looking for Her. This, then, it how it really began milleniae before this ‘I’ came to be. Before the days of many gods and goddesses there was one Being who dreamed everything and spoke it into existence. Everyone knows this. The story is older than Time Itself. When ‘time’ happened there were men and women walking the entire Earth.  They bred and peopled the planet with children. During these days all the creatures could be here, where I tell this story, all at the same time and everyone understood each other with a clarity one cannot find now. Lying was impossible. There was no concept of ‘naked’ nor was there any concept of ‘good’ or ‘evil’ and no one had any law other than the ones they made themselves. ‘Law’ is not a good word. They had a ‘way-of-life’ that was simple: wake up, bathe, pick food from the land, walk everywhere, breed, raise young, and people had very long lives then. They were simple people. Today we classify them as ‘close to ape-like’ as if we are somehow superior but they were nothing of the sort; they were as smart, and in some ways smarter, than we are today. They were able to create what they needed with very little thought or effort and they lived and loved and were at peace with the land. The Great Being, who later was named ‘God’, was outside of Time and had no end nor any beginning. That One could see all that would ever be as if It were reading a vast book and, later, humanity would come to have the idea of such a ‘book’ and call such books ‘holy.’ Indeed, after a time those books were needed because of a singular event in Time. The Great Creator was alone. It had created everything and loved the creation dearly but the Creation could not understand that vast love and the Being decided to try to create something that It could talk to. It would be a stretch to call what It created a ‘child’ but, in some ways, that was a little bit like the idea. What It created was going to be the pinnacle of everything It had ever created and the crown jewel of Creation Itself for the whole of Creation was also alive and was, and is, aware and sentient. It wanted to create something like the people and angels that already lived, together, on the blue, white and green planet it had set spinning like a sapphire in the vast dark of space that had blown out with a ‘big bang’ and the Being exhaled the sounds that commanded It’s creation to ‘become’. It was close to all that It had made and could easily talk to all of it and all of it could reply but there was something missing. The Great Creator went, personally, and caused a lovely garden to occur. It was paradise and some of the humans that came from it would later name it ‘Eden’. From the ground It created a ‘man.’ That man was the king of the world. That man could think on a level higher than all the other beings created and that man named them all because naming a thing was new and the first words of the first language were spoken. Those words were the same words, that you can see small traces of, in every tongue that utters sound today. This story is an old, old story. It is so old it cannot be copy-righted. It is so old that most of the people, on what we now call earth, understand some similar version of this tale and the tales that came after it. It has become an ‘Archetype’ for the Human Race and also has been accused of being nothing more than a figment of the Human Mind but once upon a time… …She existed. We all call her different names. Only She knows her name now. There are no accounts of her death. She still walks the earth as the spirit of an old woman but, once upon a time she was young and had eternal life. The twist in Time had not yet been ‘cut’ by ‘Knowledge.’ For centuries She ruled this planet before men thought of ruling anything. For eons she was the Virgin Queen of Light in the days when the Earth was young and strong. She lived in a Paradise-on-Earth and she ruled it and all that was in it. She was not made of ‘dirt’ like the first creations but she was made of the finer stuff the finest creation, that existed before her, was made of: Flesh and blood. She was both a daughter and a sister at once. The Earth was under her feet. On an endless lovely day she walked the garden. He was swimming in the lagoon after they had a water fight…she did not know about the conversations taking place without her awareness… “Why did It create them to be over us? WHY! WE are the strongest of all! WE know things that pair of idiots has not been taught yet! LOOK at them! They are designed to reproduce and yet they do NOTHING!” This was said by an angry Angel. “Brother…why does that bother you so? They will get to this with Time.” “Why can’t WE make more of ourselves!” The angry Angel was yelling and thunder cracked across the Skies of the slowly spinning earth. The First People ran for the caves and the warmth of fires. “We have eternal life. We do not need to reproduce. You know the Law. The Universal Law. They do not know the Law and they are innocent.” “Then I will TEACH them the Law!” “You know we are forbidden to interfere.” “They can’t fly. They can’t make things vanish into nothing!” the angry Angel pointed at a tree and lightning struck it and the First People saw it as a bad omen. “Stop being childish even YOU don’t know all there is to know yet!” “I WILL know and I will teach…. HER!” The angry Angel pointed at the Queen of Earth. She walked through the garden and admired it’s great beauty. This was home to all of the best and the most beautiful things on the planet and she had not yet seen them all. Each discovery was a new and lovely surprise. When she had first become aware she had seen His face looking at hers and smiling as they lay on the soft grass and flowers. He was, without doubt, the most beautiful thing in the garden! She smiled as she remembered how he had said she was the most beautiful thing in the garden. The rabbits and deer played at her feet and flowers grew where she walked. Millions of years later She would be portrayed in movies like this as many characters that Men thought they had invented but, in reality, she is the faintest memory of the perfect ‘Mother’ and, as such, is a part of the vast Human consciousness that strives to explain Life; but, on this day, she was simply the most stunning woman on Earth. As she walked she became aware of someone nearby, “Come out of the trees! I thought you were still swimming!” She laughed and the trees sighed with joy! “Hurry! Catch me!” She began to run and heard movement in the bushes and was delighted! She loved this game! Later generations would call it ‘Hide and Seek’ but she just loved the game! She quickly climbed a tree! See if HE could find Her hidden in the leaves! The Angry Angel shifted his shape angelic to humanoid. In the realm of Angels he was much larger than any human being but, He could shape-shift into a tall humanoid form with wings. He watched her running and laughing. He hated the man she belonged to and he knew that she was the key to his plans… …but already he was beginning to fall in love with her. As light as a feather from his own wing she leap’t from branch to branch. Without any effort he rose on the those wings that were as wide as he was tall and hovered as he allowed himself to appear to Her. In the distance he could see the Man, still swimming, in the lagoon. He watched as her eyes widened with joy at seeing a new creature: Himself. Often he had seen this look directed at anything new she saw and now she was looking at him with those amazing golden eyes! He hated everything about his own existence at that moment. He hated what he was going to do to Her. Once more he looked at the man who was swimming far away and decided he hated him the most. “I have never seen you yet. What is your name?” Her voice was liquid sunshine. Her mouth was the colour of red roses and her skin was like the smooth velvet a young mesquite branch. He wanted to teach her everything he knew. He wanted to take her away from HIM. maybe if he could make her love an Angel…? Maybe if he could take the place of the Man? Maybe if he could prove he was just as good? Maybe? His chagrin must have shown on his face because she was suddenly compassionate. Her slender, long fingered hand reached out to touch his face and he grabbed that hand and kissed it’s palm. She allowed this with such kindness in her eyes! “Are you a kind of bird-man? I never saw anything like you before! What is Your name? Did He see you and name you yet?” His heart flamed with dislike of the one that was now his competitor but he hid that emotion. “No I have no name but the name you give me My Queen.” he whispered that with every atom of his existence in the words. “You are the most beautiful creature I have seen yet…so I will call you ‘Light’.” She had named her first creature! Her heart was filled with joy! His heart also thrilled with joy as he swept her up into his arms and carried her into the sky, both of them laughing. The Earth was happy and the weather was great and the First People came out of their caves and were glad after the terrible storm earlier. They gave thanks to the Great Creator and celebrated! They saw the pair flying overhead and laughing and thought they must be Angels of Mercy and chiseled rocks with pictures of the pair. She looked into his black eyes as they flew and the force of forward motion carried her body against his. “Wrap your legs around me and you will not fall.” There was something strange in his eyes and she felt it down to her soul and was troubled. “There is no need to be troubled.” He was soothing now. “I can teach you the secrets of the universe. I can teach you things beyond your wildest dreams. The first thing I can teach you is how much I love you. I want you to have my children.” They were flying high into the clouds where no one could see them from the ground and he took her in mid-air. When she screamed as he plowed into her body with something inhuman the earth shook and cracked open and what was once one large area of land, that would later be called ‘Pangaea,’ became floating islands on a molten core of fire. She learned he had been appointed the ‘Watcher’ or ‘Guardian Angel’ of the planet Earth. She learned how to make love and how to reproduce herself with him. Her children learned how to wear colours on their faces and herd animals and farm and play music. Her children would be known as titans, nephilim, djinni, and they would be called ‘gods’ and rule the nations that began with the land of Ur…More angels would come and take her daughters as wives and they would be granted privileges as goddesses but first came the disaster: As they lay under an Apple Tree she had been so full of the magic spells of her new lover she had forgotten everything before. It came back to her now as she looked upon the gorgeous creature lying next to her under the tree whose seed she now carried. He was clearly in love with her. They had flown outside the garden into the lands of the First People. She became afraid. She had never been afraid before. “I think we have…”she could not find a word for what she felt. “You are learning now. I am an eternal being and our children will have half of my life span and will seem like gods and goddesses to these people.” The creature beside her waved a lazy, finely tattooed blue hand at the surrounding area. “Would you like to be seen as a goddess? You are my goddess! I will find a way to make you live forever!” His eyes looked fierce and his blue-green muscles flexed in his arms. He later would, indeed, cause her to live in what seemed to be ‘forever’. She would be known as Ishtar and Astarte. She would be known as Hera and Ashura; some would call her Inanna and still others would call her ‘Lilllith’. “We need to go back in the garden and check on HIM! I was not supposed to leave him alone!” Panic possessed her! What was she supposed to do? “Please! PLEASE take me back!” “You belong to me now and no longer to HIM, but we may go back.” The angel caused wings to grow from her back and she cried out from the pain. “This will hurt only this time. Then you may change your shape as you please. Come. Fly back with me.” They flew back to the Garden of Paradise and found an invisible barrier they could not cross. They could only watch as the Great Creator caused the King of the World to fall asleep a second time and they watched as a new woman, who looked exactly as the first one, was created for him. SHE began to cry as she realized what had happened. “Why are you sad? he will never know it is not you and I love you with all of my being!” She stiffened in his arms as her tried to hold her close and regain her once innocent heart but it was too late. She looked at the Angel with hatred and vowed to get even with him even if it took Eternity. He hung his head and huge waves of sorrow washed over him as she watched her fly away carrying his unborn children. He would never know that every daughter she raised she would raise to hate him and his kind even as she gave them all in marriage to the Sons of Light. They would destroy the world. The First People were kind. She was heavily pregnant and had no where to go, having adopted their shape they did not recognize she was one of the ‘others.’ Her once beautiful ‘Light’ had seduced the second woman and the third attempt at creative redemption. The child was born a cursed twin to his fraternal twin and the children of two different fathers had shared one womb. She felt soory for the ‘other woman’ but it was not her problem. She was also about to give birth. They had allowed her into their cave dwelling and, for the first time in human history, she noted they had killed animals and made leather. She tried to talk to the Great Creator as she had before but That One could not hear her anymore. She had watched, with both pity and satisfaction, as the man she had been paired with and his new bride had been driven away from their beautiful home and made to drink the blood of the animals they had named and loved. Only one creature she had named. If he had loved her so much why did he go to the other woman as well? “Oh God! Oh God please talk to me like days of old!” But there was nothing. The First People thought she was praying and was a priestess. They made her sacred and they piled stones for her to sacrifice animals upon the alter so they could appease her God. To kill these creatures whose language she once understood killed her inside as well but it was ordained to be so. They showed her the drawings and carvings of the ‘gods’ on the rock and she recognized who she had been. They had told the story of the tree and the storm there as well and it made her feel the foreboding future. When the pains came she screamed as she was torn in two and felt Death near to take her away as her baby girl cried “LIFE!” and was born. When Light came to save the woman he had once loved and restore her once more she allowed this and the people saw they had ‘gods’ living amongst them and they worshiped these gods. The baby girl was as fair as Light and the mix of blue-green and copper resulted in a pale and lovely olive gold with black eyes and hair. So it was the First People called her ‘Fire’ and she was the first of the many goddesses on the earth. Light and Lillith danced again and made a son. The son and the daughter married and what would become ‘Egypt’ one day was born to them. From them would come Greece and from Greece would come Rome and from Rome would come Europe and from Europe would come America: the youngest nation of that kind. From the ‘other woman’ came Mesopotamia and that became Babylon and that became China, The Middle-East and Saudia and from these would come Pakistan: the youngest nation of that kind. Everyone knows about the Great Flood and how humanity started over and why it had to be done. They don’t know all the details but it really isn’t needed to explain me or why I exist. I am of HER daughters. The one that some call ‘Lillith.’ I have only a small drop of the ‘bloodline’ but I carry the blood of the doomed in me: one that other say is the spawn of shape-shifting lizard people. They are only partly right. I found this out when I met her in a dream. I was looking for something unknown, There is a road, An Old Path, … It is not large enough to accommodate two travelers walking side by side. It winds around a lake in the north. The land is rolling hillside covered with Cedar Green and blood rusted dirt and yellow sunflowers. The air is thick and the wind blows hard from the south. I walked on this same road alone many times. I came to a place at the foot of a steep red hill A grove of Cedar Trees lay ahead. The shade looked cool and easy to a traveler. As I entered the grove there was an old woman sitting quietly at it’s center, tailor fashion, rocking back and forth, like I did as a child, while she crooned. It sounded like some anguished prayer and I thought to myself, “What is wrong with this old woman to cause her such sorrow?” I waited, curious but detached until she saw me. freezing in mid-prayer, she did not bother to look at me or turn, “Who are you?” “A tired traveler….” “No…who are YOU!” She commanded me “I am a lion…captured and trained by evil gods, I have all the instinct to breed but the ability stolen… I fled the cage with wild yearning but my keeper Came and rescued me from near starvation I was never taught to survive… I escape every time and am returned to the cage…. Every time.” “What is you NAME!” Another demand….a harsh demand “My name is Moira, Mara, Maria, Mary, Marie, Maryam, Mirium, Meara….” I trailed off “Mary” she sighed deeply, “Each contact is a stab for me…it hurts to be alive…” She rose slowly from the ground and turned to face me, “Why would you speak with me?” I wanted to leave because I had no easy answer. Had I been seeking her? I was only walking the Old Path. How could she have seen me so clearly? It seemed as if I knew those eyes: her eyes. They were at once both clear and black…bright and young in an old and withered face. As she studied my face she began to chuckle…. I DID KNOW HER! “You know who I am and you are speechless! What do you ask the first woman on earth? What to you say to someone as old as dirt? You believe that if you understand me You will understand yourself…so be it…. But I will make no promises…” I stayed with her until I went to sleep and woke up in the ‘other’ world where life is modern. The next night I woke up once more in the cedar grove and there was the old woman, praying and crying in that odd language, “Why are you crying?” “Why?” She almost swallowed the word with a sob, She turned and those young-old eyes pinned me, “I weep for my children who will, shortly, destroy each other. They will unleash the great force of light…Wisdom…but there will be no wisdom it it. The light will annihilate them…..once light was a rainbow after the first rains, and far away where I could no longer go was a lovely garden in my memory, I gave the gift of free will where only destiny should have been measured… This would have been given when it was time to give it….I gave it too soon.” She was crying again. “I have been all over the world. Very few noticed me. I have seen everywhere but where I wish to return to. I have seen the Earth when she was an infant…I have seen what my children have done to her and to themselves….” Again she was weeping… While she cried I thought of all the places I would never see. I already knew in my heart and had seen that much was written. The Rift Valley, Mount Everest, The Khyber Pass….all dreams of dreams….The fables cities for song and story: Tashkent, Samarkand, and I might never see Kashmir. These places danced in my head and I knew the old woman had seen them all…how horrible to see the end from the beginning….the price to pay for teaching too much…to be deathless without any glory left… “STOP NOW!” She screamed at me. “Do NOT dream of what you DO NOT know that way leads to the death!” I looked at her stern face with it’s still strong lines etched in iron, “How did you know what I was thinking?” I asked softly, “You are a part of me I can never reclaim. You are that part of me which desired to learn. I know you as well as I know my own self. You are my daughter.” The old woman walked stiffly away from the grove then and the wind shifted now blowing from the north and the sun…sun here?….cast long shadows…what had become of time??? As I mused she was about to round a corner of the tall canyon, “WAIT!!!!” I cried out to her But she was gone. I, once more, went to sleep in her night and woke up to my day and then went to sleep in my night at woke up to her day. As I awoke once more in the cedar grove it was nightfall and she came back around the corner with sticks for a fire. She blew on them and a fire appeared. The oldest woman on earth… … “I thought you were dead.” She began to laugh and cackle almost like the crackling fire… “In all your readings where was it ever mentioned that I died? In one tradition I was turned into a demon…but that was not so. This is my punishment. To see all things deteriorate into nothing. I had children with him. SHE had children with him. On this earth are two sets of these. You are of mine. ” This struck me with a kind of force past words. She was not talking about what happened AFTER the flood…she was… ….as the idea exploded in my head she started to laugh…. “You are right….I do not ever recall a story about your death.” “My body has wasted away to almost nothing and so the impression was that I died. This pleases those who rule. I am an earth bound spirit and I cannot leave until I have completed the years of my curse here. Why you are allowed to meet me in this dream I do not know.” Then I woke up and I have never seen her again. I was stored away in the heavens for what seemed like eternity and those who came before me all reproduced the substance I would one day become. The churning Earth mixed and matched and mixed and matched until the tectonic plates moved far enough apart to cause the genetic mutations and language barriers that existed up until the day I write this and anyone can put words into ‘Google Translate’ or ‘Babylon’ and find a decent approximation of the meaning of any word in any language. In spite of the barriers of land people still managed to mix. Fast forward in time through the Battle of Badun and the Venerable Bede. Go past the death of Boadicea and her daughters at the hands of Rome. She carried the blood-line the same as I carry it. Go past the slaughter of the Natives of the Americas and sail over those slaves, who rest in unmarked graves, in a strange land far from The Ivory Coast. Mix the bloodlines of the First People with the Second People and the Spirit People and you get me: I am an Oil Gypsie. I find it ironic that I was born into the life, from all the life, that will one day take all the life but that is another story for another day. My story begins here. Prelude In the 1950’s The Oil Industry was booming and men like my da signed on for life. This is how I became an ‘oil gypsie’.      When I was young there was one smell that was always around: The smell of Black Gold. The smell of Texas Tea. The smell of OIL! From the time Da was on the offshore rigs to the time we went out to the countryside and he let me play, “Delta Dawn” and “Zombee Jamborie” on my ‘git-fiddle’, as many of the ‘hands’ were wont to say. Imagine a 10 year old kid with an over-large guitar singing, “Back to back…belly to belly Well I don’t give a damn ’cause I don’t that already! Back to back…belly to belly It’s a Zombie Jamborie! I said ‘oh no my sweety pie’ She said, ‘if you don’t Your gonna die…”      I could imitate a Virginia Hill Country high twang while finger pickin’ and they loved “Barbara Allan”. Da and I sang together often on such trips, even as a very small child we would sing in Piano Bars and Honkey Tonks. Just Me and Da always then. Always there was the smell of oil everywhere on red and grey coveralls of competing pressure control companies and loud drunk rowdies who were built like bulls and talked some odd vernacular all thier own sprinkled plentifully with swear words. How to describe the smell of fresh raw oil from old memory?      Imagine the smell of healthy black earth only 1000 times stronger and pungent to a rich bloom. The smell was all over in mechanics shops and every office I went into back in those long gone days of wild iron horse riders! The smell had a twang to it too like the music I could play and the voices of the men on the rigs as they capped wellheads and got covered with black earth blood. At first the high seats of wireline trucks that smelled like oil and later the seats of smooth sedans complete with phones Da and I traveled all over oil country, singing in the bars and staying in sleazy hotels and he let me hike all over creation while he worked at every rig. Sometimes the men would give me hand-fulls of the wonderful cobalt-blue marbles they used to ease pipe in and out of well holes and sometimes they told tales about fishing tools out of deep holes….They were like land pirates! Sometimes, in the sun, surrounded by loud rowdie voices and the smell of oil and cowshit and cedar trees and hot grass I would look at the sun through a cobalt marble. I never understood why Da chose me for these trips and none of the other children and in a way it took me away from knowing them and playing with them…There is nothing like the atmosphere that was then out in the vast wild land of the Oil Patch… …but first I had to be born. I am America. America was founded on a strange mix of war and religion, of oil and coal, of slavery and money-barons. America’s roots go back to old royal England and far away shores on the Ivory Coast, they were made by feet that crossed the Bering Strait from Asia, they came from the south with the Azteca. America is every colour of the rainbow and has roots from all over the face of the earth and so it is today I am here. I am a royal slave. I am a peace-loving child of war lords. I am a mixed breed mutt with a lucky white face… Just before the ‘Roaring twenties’, here in America, a man from Norway got off the ‘immigrant boat’ on the coast of New York. He was a rugged fellow and an uneducated farmer… but very smart. He taught himself to read and swore to work hard enough to give his son the best of educations. He came with his wife and went West and earned a farm in Minnesota. They had a son, and they worked very hard and sent him to college where he became an engineer. He got rich quickly travelling all over the world building Dams. He worked on many famous dams including the Hoover and the Panama Canal. Eventually he became a multimillionaire (but not before being very poor and working hard in a top secret place where they worked on the nuclear bombs towards the end of WWII.) He married a woman who was half Jewish and half blue blooded royalty whose ancestors dated back to the Mayflower (and that was on more than one branch of her family tree.) Her father came from the ‘royal stock’ listed in Burkes Peerage and her mother’s father was called by the name of a priestly caste. He disowned her when she married a Christian. She had a son and then married another Christian: my great great grandfather…(who could trace his lineage back to 60 ad and was proud of every connection he had ‘back East’) came from an OLD wealthy family. This is where my mother comes from. I look exactly like my great grandmother who people said looked like a Jewess. I have her picture, along with a picture of my Cherokee great grandmother who came from my father’s side and I can see my face in them both but I could be great grandma Martha’s twin sister. There is a family joke that if 7000 people died my mother could be queen of England… …it is a joke of course? From such a history my mother came and was born into the world to a mother who told her she was ugly and did not ever say once, “I love you.” A little blond girl of an almost ‘pure’ bloodline watched her mother and father dance. Three brothers were with her. One of them almost died from malnutrition at the end of the Great Depression but now they were rich and happy. When they danced like that Mary knew that her parents were leaving again. She went up to her mother and asked, “Can I come with you this time?” “No you can’t come with us we have found a family for you to stay with. You will have a nanny and a butler!” “But I want to come with you.” Seeing that his daughter was about to cry he told her to come dance with him and she stood on his feet and they waltzed together. She adored her father very much…but mostly she was raised abroad in South America, Mexico and British Columbia by foster families, servants and convent schools while her mother and father travelled the world together without their children. She learned to speak fluent Spanish. My partrilinear line comes from a man named Sean and he was Irish Catholic from Dublin. His surname meant “son of the son of the bloody knife”, and the family’s coat of arms read, “Death to The Enemy.” He was fluent in English and Latin but the English had killed his language and tried to kill his culture. He was a man of war: a guerrilla fighter against the English when he heard of the civil war going on in America. Ireland was in bad shape at the time. Potato famines and English law all but ruined the small farmers in the country side. His story was the story of thousands. President Lincoln had sent messages to the world that he was fighting slavery in America. As Sean had a price on his head for killing an English officer the idea of fighting slavery for free land and a pension appealed to him… …he got on a boat with many other like him and fled his homeland with tears in his eyes. He joined the north to fight slavery but the promises of free land and a pension never came. He was poor and broken in both body and spirit when he decided to go WEST….everyone with nothing was going west. Yes there were dangers, but it was worth the promise of free land. He left New York City and headed west and then south….his son….also named Sean, married a Cherokee Indian woman before the west was called America. They had been named Sean for generations….today my own brothers name is Sean. The Cherokee woman took an English name. She became like the whites and renounced her heritage. Her son was tall and handsome and a drunkard. Born into an era that would become ‘The Great Depression’ in American history, her son attracted and had more than one wife…not hard to do in those days, as it was difficult to verify who was married to whom. Our own line from him came from a woman named Rose: a French Communist. He gave her ten children. On my father’s side used to be a red, leather-bound book that had his matrilinial side scribed into it, in quill with the ‘S’s the looked like ‘F’s and his mother’s family had a story in it. This story was told many many times…In that book is a list of 200 slaves and how much they were worth and in it are Annie and Sampson. It was just before the civil war and the state of Texas was still Mexican Territory. On a slow, hot sleepy afternoon in Georgia the youngest son of a wealthy planter was playing with his cousin….a little slave girl named Annie. They had always been best of friends. She had been educated alongside his own sisters and her grandmother was a black slave. She was so very very pretty and fair skinned. In picture books she looked like the Arab women artists imagined. She had long curly dark hair and huge black eyes and such white white skin… …whiter even than the mistress of the plantation. Lafitte never could understand why his friend had to be a slave. She was his grandfather’s daughter after all….but she cooked and cleaned and was a maid to his sisters who treated her like trash. But she was a gentle soul and never fought back. She was what was known in those days as a ‘mulatto’, who is someone with Black Blood in them. Lafitte loved Annie very much. Some time passed. The old master was dying. As he was failing he told the servants to call his ten sons. “Sampson!” , he ordered with a surprisingly strong voice, “Get mah boys! Bring ‘em all in heah!” Sampson, who had been purchased for 200 gold, on account of his education, went and got the boys.The old master, or ‘massah’ as most said back then, told each boy what he would get. As he looked at his youngest son, Lafitte, he said, “Boy, you got mah brains and mah heart and the will to go make something of yerself and that is all I kin give ya!”, and with that he died. Lafitte went and told Annie, who was now old enough to be used by all his brothers, what had happened. She has been very worried cause the oldest of all of them had been stopping her while she worked and trying to corner her. Lafitte said, “I will marry you then!” Annie said, “They will hang you for marrying a slave like me! You have to forget me!”, and she began to cry. Lafitte said, “No worries I have already planned this. You are coming with me tonight and we are going to Mexican territory! You can say you are Mexican! You look like you might be Mexican. There is free land there! My sweet Annie we are leaving NOW!” She gasped in surprise as a smiling Sampson brought two horses already loaded.The night was coming on fast and they traveled many many days to reach the border. They came to a small Catholic church in Mexico and they married as soon as they could and made a ranch in what is now West Texas. They never went home again. This is also part of me. (When he was young people called my father’s uncle ‘Nigger Lips’.) My maternal grandmother gave her 9th son, of ten children, away to neighbours when he was four years old. In his life he was to see his real father only 6 months out of 76 years. He watched his older siblings go to work every day. They were in their early or late teens and the oldest four, of those ten children, were already in the military or working in factories. It was the end of ‘The Great Depression.’ He had seen his father once or twice but his mother said his father was in prison now. His father was a drunk, with other women besides his mother, but he did not know that until well into manhood. All he knew now was he was hungry. “Mama? I will go out and hunt for eggs! If I get eggs you cook them?” She said nothing but smiled at him and he ran out to the dirt yard out in what was then rural West Texas and found that the hens had run away. She watched him out the window. He was too young to understand that they were old hens and the chicks were too young to lay and that they had no food in the house and might not have until his brothers and sisters came home from their farm work later in the season. He was too young to understand that there was no food for the animals now and they had gone to make the soup they had eaten this week. She watched, with regret, as he grabbed his youngest brothers hand, and they ran to the now empty nests to look for food. “CARL! BERTIE!!!!!” She yelled out the open door. “Get back to the house we are going into town!” He still had Bertie by the hand and dragged him back. Bertie was only two years old but he knew he was FOUR years old! He watched his mother with her still-black, long straight hair, that was pulled into a bun on her neck, tie a scarf around her head and get out her red shawl she knitted herself. He looked at her face and he knew there was something wrong. “Mama?” “Hush Carl!” He hushed. He always did what mama said because she would smack them with a rubber spatula if they misbehaved but she would hold him and rock him and his baby brother and sing French songs to them and tell them stories about a huge rich farm his siblings worked on in a different part of Texas. She would sing, “Gue gue solangaie balliez chimin la…. Gue gue solangaie balliez chimin la…. M’a dis li M’ a dis li callbass li connain parler M’a dis li M’a dis li callbass li connain parler….” He and his brother Bertie, whose nik name was ‘Bitty’ on account of that was what it sounded like when Carl said his name, would fall asleep. He loved her so much. She was the most beautiful woman on earth. Right now she had on her ‘Sunday-go-to-meeting’ clothes. That meant maybe the ice cream parlor! He started to dance around! “Mama mama I LOVE YOU MAMA!” “Bring your little ‘Bitty’ with you…you and Bitty hurry along now. Keep up with me!” She looked at the few pennies in her purse that was all there was left of anything they had in the whole world and made her heart hard for the sake of her boys. She started walking towards town on a dusty dirt road in the country that Carl would see again one day, paved, and part of the biggest city in Texas, but now he kept a tight hold of Bitty’s hand as they ran after their mother down the road. They had started out in the morning. It was afternoon when they reached town. People here already had cars, radios and a very very few even had TELEVISIONS! Carl stared around with his skinny, knobby-kneed country legged pants, covered with road dust, and became very quiet as he followed his mother up a pretty, nicely paved street. She grabbed both boys hands and, looking resolute, stood tall and straight with her head high, and took both boys to the front door. She knocked and a woman, smoking a cigarette, answered. Carl had seen this woman before. This woman was married to his uncle…the one the townspeople called ‘nigger-lips.’ The woman let them in the house and both woman went into another room and left Carl and Bitty, sitting stiff and uncomfortable and hungry, on a fancy, brocade sofa. The woman of this house worked for a living and had worked most of her life. She was one of the original ‘Rosy the Riveters.’ She had no children. She was well off by the standards of that day. Both women came back into the living room and Carl’s mother told him the bare truth, “Son, I can’t take care of you anymore. I had to divource your father. He is still in prison and I have no idea when he’ll get out. There is no food in the house and I know you are hungry. I am leaving you here with your new mother…” She took Bitty by the hand and left quickly so he would not see her cry. He tried to follow her but the woman grabbed him and hugged him while he beat on her and tried to get away crying… “Maaaaaaa maaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!! MAAAAAAAA!!!!! MAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! BITTYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!” When they were out the door the woman let him go and he quit kicking her and ran to the window and watched his old life walk away from him. The woman who would now be his mother said, “Son? I have breakfast cooking. I have to go to work and the lady next door will take care of you while I am at work. You can eat all you want I know you have not eaten in a long time.” Carl looked at the woman. She looked sad too like he felt. She looked like a nice lady. He was soory he kicked her. “Is mama coming back?” “No son she is not coming back she promised me you belong to me now. Your father will be home before I will be home. Be respectful.” “He is Uncle Nigger-lips.” He screamed and kicked her again when he smacked his face. “He is your uncle and you will NOT call him ‘nigger-lips!” Then she took him into the dining room and fed him the tallest stack of pancakes he ever saw covered with honey! With his belly full and all the stress of the day he fell into a deep sleep as his new mother left for work at the telephone company. He had no idea when the neighbour woman picked him up and tucked him away on a big soft fancy bed, with fancy carved furniture, in his own room. He would later come to love the woman who raised him and even defended her when the Jehovah Witnesses came to tell her she was not good enough to raise him because she was a ‘working woman.’ He came into the parlor with a butcher knife in each small, childish hand and GLARED at them until they quickly excused themselves. He had come ‘home.’ Until many years later all he knew was….his mother did not want him anymore. It followed him all his life. His new parents loved him very much and they were also drunks. The Great Depression was ending and he was given away several times after that when his parents were drunk to different family friends and neighbors. He never knew that his real mother had come back to fight to get him back until years later. My grandmother was this woman. She worked hard, like a man, all her life. She was an original ‘Rosy The Riveter’ and she swore and smoked and drank like a sailor and loved her adopted boy intensely. His real father had abandoned the family before he was born. I met my real grandfather once before he died. In his childhood my father had the extremes of harsh life and great love from my ‘adopted’ grandmother. From this I also come. It was the late 1950’s and me da was becoming a young man. When his adopted ma was not in mental institutions and his da was not drunk they were teaching him how to be tough. As a child it had begun with beatings and treatment like, “Mother…I can’t leave for school those boys are gonna beat me up!”, to which she shoved him out the door and replied, “Don’t come home until you have beaten them all up and you better have some bruises yourself to show you did!” and then she locked him out. Half the time he was raised by the nuns at the local Catholic Church where he learned Latin and most all of his studies for school. As he grew he turned into a tall, pimple faced rather ugly young man prone to weight gain. Still he was a great outdoors man and earned the highest achievement awards in the Eagle Scouts which included proving the ability to start fires without anything but tinder and wooden sticks. He eventually grew to be almost 6 feet 5 inches. Like many in those days the only thing for a poor young man with no prospects was to join the military which he did. He joined the air force. They humiliated him by putting him in ‘Operation Fatboy’ where they gave him drugs that are now illegal to make him lose weight. He was an airplane mechanic and he also loaded and unloaded nuclear bombs from B-52’s that over flew American skies. At the time it was Top Secret…it is not anymore. Before he left to join the air force he went to do a good deed for a friend of his mothers who lived up the street. The woman had a daughter. Her name was Barbara and she loved my father very very much. She was not a pretty girl herself but they had grown up in the same place and more than once he had defended her honour by punching fellows who made fun of how she looked. She adored him. She did something unthinkable in that day…when he came to her mother’s house she went up to him and asked him to marry her….and said how much she loved him. He told her “no” and left to join the military. In 2004 me Da and I were at his new computer and he said suddenly, “I wonder what happened to Barbara?” He Googled her and found her name and address and found her obituary….she had died that week…. ….as a Catholic nun. Not only that but she had joined the sisterhood the day he left her mother’s house. She loved him so much that she would never marry in her life another man. My father would pay for his choice in ways he could have never foreseen. While my father was growing up my mother was also doing the same thing. My mother was living in Mexico City studying to become a Catholic nun. Everywhere she wore her blue reboso which is a scarf that the Mexican and Spanish women wore at that time. It was a lovely city then…high in the mountains made from a lake that was drained from the days of the Aztecs. The locals called my mother “white with a brown heart”, or “Blanca con espiritu café”…she was studying art and had met Diego Rivera in person…as well and lived with a wealthy family in a compound with high walls that had iron spikes on top and crushed glass. She and the daughters of this family would feed the poor children that came to the back gate bread and bananas as a kind of tradition of wealthy people. When they went out it was always with an older woman who was a duenna…. One day my mother was waiting at a bus stop high in the mountains when she saw him He was wearing a black cape. She looked in his eyes and forgot about becoming a nun and also about who she was. His name was Carlos. He had duel Spanish/Mexican citizenship and was also part German and fluent in all three languages. His family was wealthy and they would have been a perfect match but for one thing: he was brown and she was white. She wrote her parents who were then in Canada and told them her intention to marry him. She got no response. He also told his parents who approved. It would be a good match. He was ready to graduate and he told her, “I am going to California in America and I will make a place for us and send for you.” He wrote her as soon as he got there and they corresponded through letters. It was slow in those days to communicate but their letters went with great love and passion back and forth as they made plans for everything even what to name their children. My father never knew that three of his daughters have names Carlos and Mary chose for the children they never had. Her last year there her family recalled her home to finish college in America in Texas. She sent him her new address and packed her bags and left for the United States. She enrolled in college and finished her degree. She lived with her two old maid aunts and she waited for the letters from Carlos but they never came….after a year…broken-hearted…she decided that no man would have her as she was ugly and she got a job as an airline stewardess and considered again becoming a nun. She graduated college with honours but it was sad. She got her own apartment and a female roommate who died by being struck by lightning one stormy night as she threw out the wash water. She was one of the first girls in America to wear a bikini….she was wearing it the day my Da, who was on leave from the air force and visiting a friend at the apartments where she lived, walked up behind her…picked her up…threw her in the pool, and roared very loudly to all present, “YOU’RE GONNA MARRY ME WOMAN!” He did not even know her name yet…but to this day he says it was love at first sight. She hated him immediately. He kept on asking her out and buying flowers and being romantic til she gave him a date. She was thinking. “I am already 25 years old and no man has come and Carlos does not love me now. This man loves me and he is the right religion…I do not love him…but…?” When my father asked her to marry she told him “I do not love you” He said “I can love you enough for both of us” He was so overwhelming and she felt such pity for him that he might die without her that she said yes. The little rich girl who had once dated senator’s sons and traveled all over half the world from Northern Canada to Peru…the little girl who wrote and spoke like a British national and later taught me to do so…the young woman with the college education was about to lose everything normal in her world including what little love her mother might have had for her although feelings softened when grandchildren came…a little girl who learned ‘God Save The Queen’ before she learned the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ even though she was born in Minnesota was about to learn about a life she never dreamed of. On the eve of their wedding she was telling her brother that she wanted out and wanted to change her mind but it was too late…the promises were made and the guests were there and she went and said yes before the priest at the alter. Even today in her wedding pictures I can put my hands over her small shy smile so only her terrified and sorrowful eyes show… …she would pay for her choice in ways she could have never foreseen. She was 8 months pregnant with me when President Kennedy was assassinated…she could almost reach out and touch him from where she was in the crowd as he fell…then her old maid aunts died as well as she inherited the little bit they had. As she went through their belongings she found, hidden in a drawer, all the letters that Carlos had sent her over almost two years…the last one was dated just two months earlier…It was begging her to answer and to come be with him as he was ready…and it was too late… I was in the womb and I heard her scream and I felt the agony of her sorrow flow through me. This was to forever ‘mark’ my brain. This then is me…. A child of sorrow and a daughter of a line of daughters who belonged to a tainted bloodline…born during the Vietnam War…underneath the ‘shadow of the bomb’ during the start of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. I did not want to be born into such sorrow. They had to pull me out with forceps. I could feel the cold metal on my head even before I cried out in anger at the world that I was to inherit. Just last month I saw Carlos’s picture again. My mother has kept it all these years. I have known this all my life then… …(Funny, as I write this, that it becomes apparent that my mother’s true love and my father share the same name: Carl.) Awareness: Part One We lived in the Border Town. I had a beloved ‘Ragged Blanket’. It was here when I got born. It was white and soft and made me sooooooo happy. That blanket was my friend when there were murmurs that sounded sad in the sweet tall ladies voice and then in the dark room I could see the one mattress bed and watch the humps move up and down and make it “EEEE EEEE EEEE EEEEE” patty cake sound and no others sounds. I did not like that sound. I put my head under the soft white and made the shadows go away and the sounds muffled. Sometimes the tall pretty lady would sit me in the window and tell me stories about the blue rebozo and Mexico. She did not know I could understand. She used to talk about me to neighbors about how I was allergic to my own pee. Sometimes she and the tall man would talk about me playing ‘jumpy jumpy’ and how hard it was to make me eat. The tall man I learned to call ‘Da’ and the woman I called ‘Mary’ for many years. Adults thought I was cute and strange and odd. They said I was like a small adult speaking in full sentences instead of baby talk. Mary said the first thing I ever said was, “The stars are sleeping.” They said I was not very affectionate. Sometimes I would let Da hold me and rock me in the rocker and sing when I was very very sick. In my baby crib there were bars and my head would not fit through but my hands did. The tall lady who loved me and fed me something warm and brown off the stove from a bottle when my tummy hurt and my head was hot and I made the stinkies all day and they whispered and worried and all I could drink was the warm, brown sweet liquid. They called it ‘Pepsi’. They said the word ‘die’ alot and talked about ‘fever’ all the time. The tall woman who loved me cried alot. The man would rock me in the rocking chair and look sad. They were glad when I got well and I could not feel my bones so much that time. One day Mary smiled and set me in a chair. She said, “You did this before. Can you do it again?” And she smiled and her teeth were white and happy like my blanket and she showed me the little spoon and the jar and I remembered. I ate like that before. I was scared alot at first because I did not want to be sick with the bad water stinkies but I trusted her and so I opened my mouth and she put in some mushy green food. I loved that blanket. When the bad men came to move us away I held that blanket close and they could not take it. Bad men were always coming to move everything out of place! The tall man took us out to the beach to say goodbye to the beach and the ocean and I dragged the blanket and held the tall woman’s legs and her stomach was SO BIG. I could reach up and touch the bottom of her stomach and it MOVED! She said , “There is a baby in there!” Da took my hand and showed me the jellyfishes and said they were bad bad! Then he let me go to the water and watch the foam come with the little waves and we said goodbye to the big water and I would never see it again. The white blanket was there with me. It sat on the sand with me. It was always the same. It never changed. The bad men put everything in a yellow truck and I kept a tight hold on my blanket. In the new place I had to sleep by myself in a room. There were two rooms now. It was very very quiet and sometimes in the night I woked up and rocked and rocked and rocked and laughed and the tall man I named Da and woman named  Mary came in and looked at each other with a strange look and the tall man would sing: “Gue gue solangaie balliez chimin la…. Gue gue solangaie balliez chimin la…. M’a dis li M’ a dis li callbass li connain parler M’a dis li M’a dis li callbass li connain parler….” The sound of his voice was hypnotic and always I stopped rocking and listened. The blanket was with me. It was better now even! Old and soft and there were nice places with holes and it felt good to see the holes and know it would always be with me. One day an older woman came to see Da and he was angry and he yelled things at her and the Mary cried. That woman came and looked at me and said I was a strange child. She said she would help the Mary and she took my blanket away and she put it on the loud machine where that Mary made clothes. I tried to tell her…through the bars I tried to reach her and she smiled and she put the blanket in the loud machine! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In a few minutes she gave it back and there were no holes! They were all gone! I left there then. I sat up above then tableau and listened. “She is screaming what are we going to do!” “Let her scream it is good for her lungs” “She has been screaming for an hour now and she is banging her head on the bars!” “No don’t pick her up she needs to learn!” The voices babbled in a blur for long long time and some thing was down there screaming and screaming. Mary was crying and she told the other lady and the angry tall man, “I DO NOT CARE!” And she grabbed my from that place and held me while I fought and she dropped me on my head, by accident, and it hit the seat of her already old and decrepit piano with real ivory keys. She picked me back up, still screaming, and held on tightly and took the blanket and ripped back all the holes in it and gave it back to me. My head hurt so bad. I hugged the old white blanket but it was dead now. That other lady had killed it. I looked at her with anger and she was scared of me then. She left. I said goodbye to the blanket and threw it away through the bars. Ahhhhh memory. You are like an old song. Last night before I slept I heard the distant whistle of a train. The cool night air came through the screens bringing the smell of false spring. As my eyes closed and I prayed to Allah in my heart and then out loud I thought of the mapless farm town. It, too, was settled on the rail ways lines. As a child I had ridden Amtrak. So much today. Doctors and shopping in the city 20 to 40 miles away each place is yet to drive that is common here. As mom drove me to the appointment she stuck in a disc and she began to sing, “Raindrops… Raindrops… Fall upon my window… Sparkle on the leaves of the thirsty apple tree… Raindrops… Raindrops… Down the hills and through the meadows, No time to stop on their journey to the sea… See the pretty raindrops… Fall upon the rooftops and tumble down the chimney… And go, laughing on their way…” As she kept singing I closed my eyes. I went back in time to 1966 in the ‘terrible’ house we had just moved into in that little farm town. Mom was skinny and almost sick to the point of maybe not living but we did not know that then as she sometimes smiled with a big round belly and big blue eyes an white teeth. Her hair was SO LONG…no other woman let their hair grow that long! She was what was then known as a ‘Homemaker’….no one had burned their bras yet…no one called anyone a ‘Stay-at-home-mom’ like it was some bad thing. For a moment time went backwards as mom and I sailed down the highway and I smiled as ‘Mary’ led her little ducklings around the living room singing and clapping, in a circle. It was a song about God. There was no school yet. Mom cried so much it was lovely when she was happy! We would march around. Mom first and then my little sister and then me. Later when my brother and other sisters were born we all marched around in a circle to that song… …I opened my eyes and saw the farmlands passing the window and was glad to be sitting in the back seat. Mom could not see the silent tears slide down. “Where did you get that?” I kept my voice low and steady… “Carl found a STACK of old albums! He bought a TURNTABLE on EBAY! We did not know we saved all those old albums…he is playing them all and burning them to discs!” Mom calls Da “Carl”. She played it over and over as I thought of how the years have separated us all until we were almost strangers to each other. Nice kind strangers who even helped if they were in town every one to five years but…I have online friends who know me better than anyone in my family besides my mom. “Sister Smile”……where I learned my first French. So many old songs… “Frere Jaques Frere Jaques Dormir vouz? Dormir Vouz? Sommeil La Matines Sommeil La Matines Ding Dang Dong Ding Dang Dong… There were two times I belonged to this world…one was the mapless farm-town, the other was Edmond Road on an Autumn day…And in the distant mists of time before alcoholism ran rampant among us all I heard me Da sing,”Gue gue…solange balliez chimin la… …And I wonder what he might have been like if there was no alcohol. But before Life began in the mapless farm-town we were leaving the Butter Town. I saw the burly men picking up mom’s zither and I knew something bad was happening. I ran to her screaming, “THEY ARE TEARING OUR HOUSE DOWN!”, She caught me up in her arms and tried to make me feel better but her belly was huge and the baby in it kicked me away…. “Please?”, I tugged on the men’s shirts crying, “Please don’t take our house away?” They looked at me and laughed and then ignored me and kept on picking up heavy things and moving like human oxen to a big yellow truck parked outside. My younger sister stood there with her finger in her mouth and wide round eyes. She did not understand. I knew already because we had moved before. We had moved from the two rooms where every night the bed creaked like the rhythm to the Mexican songs that rolled out of open screen doors and down dusty border town streets in Texas. Mom, (whom I still called by her first name, Mary), had told me all about the zither and how it came from the old country and it made music. Me Da was always going to fix it but he never did…it rotted for years in all the garages it was stored in, over the years, but that is another story. Mom sighed and sat down heavily. I was remembering the mariachis as they played guitars and sang the songs ‘Marlena’ and Cielito Lindo’. I remembered  the chicken wire fence around the spot in the dirt where I played and the dark eyes of the boy from across the street as his fingers clutched the wire and he asked to come play with me. I was recalling the warm Pepsi that saved my life when I was dying with amoebic dysentery. It was the only thing I could keep down and my mother crying day after day after day as rats and cockroaches ran free… …this was a better house. It had four rooms and a bathroom and why did we have to leave? My sister, Susan, stood there with her dark hair and almost purple dark eyes a contrast to my red blond hair and blue eyes. She just kept on looking in silence. “MARY! Please don’t let them tear our house down!” I was begging now…why did all the adults think that was cute or funny or annoying? They hated me the adults did! Why couldn’t they understand me? I cried myself to sleep in that hot little red Volkswagen bug as we pulled away from the little grey house that had been my home for two childish years. We drove for many hours. Dad began to sing for my mother. Then he loved her so much. He sang all the love songs from every Mario Lanza album. We did not have a radio or an air conditioner in the car but me Da could sing like an angel. We stopped at little hamburger joints along the way as we travelled the oil route from Texas to Oklahoma as we would do many times over the years. I kept wondering when we were going to get to the town….we drove finally down a small narrow dusty street followed by the ugly yellow truck with the mean ugly laughing men in it. We came to the end of the street. It was dirt at the end of a concrete street. We pulled up in front of the biggest house I ever saw…it had four rooms and one bathroom too but it was bigger. But it was an ugly house. But it had a porch and the other one did not. And it had a window unit air conditioner in the living room and the other one did not…..but it was ugly and everything was ugly and I made myself very ugly to everyone because the world was ugly…(and I learned later I was right)…but then was the last time I would know an innocent world… …in Oklahoma, in a town that was so small that, back then, it was not even on the map. Less than 5000 people lived there and they were all farmers and oil gypsies. We were at our new home. The Mapless Farm-town We got out of the car and I was so angry I ran off into the fields by the house… “SHAAANIIII!!!!!,” mom called out to me but I kept running. I was not going to go into that ugly house! Da came after me but could not catch me…I ran blind with tears until I was stopped as if I had hit a wall by the most magnificent sight: miles and miles of purple vetch that went on as far as my short eyes could see. It was full of bees busily at work getting nectar. Da came huffing up behind me as mad as the horned toads that spit blood from their eyes…”LOOK DA!”, I cried out softly as if this was in a church! He stopped and decided not to be mad and he said, “That is vetch…the farmers grow it for making honey and for their animals to eat in the winter.” As we walked back he showed me milkweed and musk grapes and ground nuts and said I could eat any of those if I were ever hungry. The ground was rich with food: wild food. Sumac bushes grew on the fences, with their stiles, and over time he showed me what was poisonous and what was not. I learned about the rocks that were magnetic because they fell from the sky. I collected rose rocks made by ancient lava flows and Da taught me that where we lived was once under a huge sea. There were many there made of sandstone and shaped like red roses. I still have one with me today. The day my sister Susan and I found iron pyrite we ran to Da sure we were RICH! He knew all about geology and he laughed and laughed! There were many times I was so hungry I ate that wild food but I never felt poor then. That field made me feel very very rich and so few knew it’s secrets. One neighbor had a daughter named Rebecca. They were rich. When we went to their home mom told us, “Behave and have good manners and talk clearly as I have taught you! Make me proud!” We would nod solemnly and go racing up the street! Those girls had the fanciest dolls and ALL the Barbie accessories and they had a washer AND a dryer and they did not have to help hang the laundry, like we did, on the wires Da strung across an old rusty A-frame ‘swing set’ in the back yard! They had a real PHONE and they talked on it and every time we came their mom made cookies and each girl and boy had their OWN ROOM! Unbelievable! They had candy in dishes all over their house and when I went to see them I always dumped the contents of a whole bowl somewhere in my skirts or pockets to eat later. Her mother never said a word but many many times it seemed the bowls had more and more candy in them…much too much to carry it all home. I ran the fields and I ate the farmers honey. I had not yet been to a real school. I played princess and I was queen of the cow pasture and I knew life was wonderful… …it was not until many many years later that I learned how many meals my mother went without so that we could eat enough food then. One day Mom went out on the front porch and on the porch was a large box. She brought it in and opened it and winter was coming and we needed warm things. In that box was all the winter things from the rich family’s kids from the year before.They had given us their children’s old clothes. I was soooooo happy to get that box of those clothes from the rich people up the street! Mom laughed at what I chose. I chose the long dresses because I wanted to be a princess. Those long dresses were not for everyday wear they were for parties and church. Everything else was pants and shorts and somehow undignified to someone of my high station. I learned to read all by myself before I ever went to school. I could never learn my numbers. Not even now. Mom cried about that box. When I was older I learned that she had been rich like that once and given things to the poor. We tried on coats and scarves and saved some of the bigger things for next year and in every pocket of every coat was filled with candy! Those people never said they gave us anything. Some things we gave also to neighbors. Those kids went to private school somewhere far away so no one knew where any clothes came from. It made Da angry but….he accepted it. A Brown Paper Sack Time was when there was penny candy. It was 1970 and The war about The ‘Nam was coming into my consciousness. I looked in the pictures of my mother’s book about ‘Valley of the Mekong’ and I saw, on the news, the picture of the naked girl running away from smoke and bombs, her body covered with napalm. I was too young to see such things but they were never kept from me. There was another baby on the way and too much work to watch me closely…as oil gypsies we had no family close to us to help my mother. I was her best friend and from her learned things children learn much later in life because I was all she had. There were three channels on TV and my world alternated between grim news footage and children’s programs. In between beating and loving and war and peace and work and tears and chaos there was a special time that I came to love… …in the Mapless Town was a small store. In that store on the bottom shelf where a child could easily reach was a long long row of boxes. Each box was full of coloured magic. There were bubble gums and jaw-beakers and brown cows and ‘Bbbbatts’. There were coconut bars and taffy sticks and sweet tarts. One day mom gave my sister and me a quarter to share. She said to us. “You are old enough now to walk to that store and choose your candy…you have been good this week.” My sister and I were six and seven years old and the store was one mile away…but back then it was safe to do such things in that tiny farm town. We were sooooo excited! I grabbed her hand and we ran out the door and down the street. We knew how to get there we had been there in the car many times. We strutted, proud, we waved at Loreen cause we knew she was not allowed to go so far yet. She waved back from her front porch and ran to meet us, “Where are you going!? “, she asked breathlessly, “I answered. “We are walking to the store!”, Her eyes got big…and even bigger as I showed her the quarter. “OOOOooooo! What are you going to buy?” I smiled and said, “We don’t know yet…” It was hard for me to say because this was a first time rare treat and I had never used money before. She said, “OK.” and ran like the wind inside to tell her mother the amazing news. We walked and we walked to the end of the street. Beyond was a world we had never been alone and we looked at each other and I ran around the corner and hid in the neighbors bushes and peeked at the road that went on forever. Far off in the distance was the store…I could see it shimmering in the summer heat from the blacktop. A tiny speck it looked. There were no cars coming. We walked out cautiously and begin the trek to the store. As it is in many country towns there is green and bushes and weeds along all the roads unmowed so every time a car came we would run and hide…when it left we would come back out again and keep going. It was a long hard walk to that store and it was hot and we soon were tired out badly…but it still was far away and we walked…. “Lets pretend!!!!!”, I told Susan, “Lets pretend we are in a desert and we have to live and make it to an oasis!” She looked at me like I was crazy, “What is an O-A-SIS?” she asked I got annoyed. I forgot that I knew more words than even some adults….. “Nevermind”, I said. She started to sing under her breath very softly….”Zum gali gali gali Zum gali gali….” I said, “Where did you learn that!!!!!, she said, “Da..” “What does it mean?”, “I don’t know”…she said, I knew I would have to find out somehow somewhere someday cause it sounded so normal somehow and so I began to sing it too and we sang it together and somehow the store was there before us in no time…We went inside and high above a fan whirled around. There was the old man who was always there and he said, “What can I do for you ladies?” like he knew we were coming…we blushed and pointed at the candy and he said, “Well go ahead and choose,” …OOOOOOooooooo…What to choose! There were gumballs in every colour of the rainbow! Grape and cherry and orange! Each one only a penny. There were little wax bottles filled with sweet liquid and there were tiny boxes of make-believe cigarettes made of peppermint sugar. There were jawbreakers that would last for what seemed hours and tiny rolls of little candies that were so sour they made you make faces…there were big sweet red wax lips and black mustaches…what to choose!!!!! OOOOOooooooo…we were SO rich that day. We were the richest people on earth with that quarter and that selection…25 pieces of candy to choose! 25!!!! We made our choices and the old man put them in a small, brown paper sack. That sack held all the riches in the world and how privileged we were to get them! We went back out in the heat and sang our way home around mouthfuls of grape bubblegum… …Years later I went back to see it…that store was abandoned and falling in on itself as the wooden frame rotted away in the spring humidity….and our old house looked as tiny as a cracker box and I wondered how it was that seven people fit in it. But the saddest thing was the field of purple vetch and the wide expanse where horned toads ran free and black magnet star rocks could be found…it was all built over with new houses…and so I went on with my life… …Zum gali gali gali Zum gali gali. A Day In The Life Of A Gypsie Farm Kid Da was a beekeeper when he was not off working on the oil rigs. Out in the farmers field next to our house was an ‘iron horse’ and every night we went to sleep with the sound of it’s mighty hooves pounding. Out in the same field was a series of white-washed wooden boxes filled with bees who made honey from the endless stretch of purple vetch that caught my eye when we went there to live. Others there were bee keepers too and they all went out with white netted hats on their heads and bellows full of smoke to make the bees high and sleepy and sting less. They wore thick cotton gloves and they gathered around the hives and took the wooden frames on bee spit home with them…for that was what honey was: Bee Spit. Da said never wear white and go close to the hives for that made bees think you were sweet. When Da came with the frames we could see the wax geometry that held the treat we loved so well. It was messy and did not look very pretty at first but then Da got the extractor! The extractor was a green barrel with a hole in the bottom and a crank on the side and a crushing mechanism inside and Da would knock the raw honey combs out of the frames and into the barrel and he always let us pick a choice piece right then and melt the wax with the heat of our mouths and let the bee spit fill our own mouths with spit as sweetness poured down our hungry throats and then we chewed the wax too! It was a big treat…The honey time. Out of the hole would drip a thick stream of pure gold with tiny bits of wax in it. Da saved all the wax and kept it to melt over the glass jars that caught the gold for us. Mom would heat the wax in a big pot and they poured wax carefully over the honey in the jar and stored it for winter for us to eat on shelves in the attic.Then we would play while mom washed the dishes or cooked. One day she was watching a soap opera on TV. and crying. Susan went up to her and said, “Why you cry mama?” and mom said, through tears, as she pointed at the TV, “Because it is so sad! With a serious and practical little face my younger sister toddled over to the TV and turned it off. “No watch sad thing!” Then she went over and hugged my mother. Mom got up off the floor and the wet, freshly washed clothes, on the front porch. She stopped crying and said, “You can both help! You can hand me the wet clothes!” She went out with a large basket and put in all the wet clothes and sheets. We followed her to the back yard and because she was always pregnant (even if they did not all live) it was hard for her to reach the wet clothes. Susan and I took each piece and held it up for her to reach and soon the wire that was strung on the rusty old A-frame swing-set was covered with wet clothes flapping and snapping in the high hot summer wind of Oklahoma! They dried very fast and we took them down and the SMELL…Did you know you can SMELL what sun smells like? It smells clean and hot and fresh! No modern dryer can make that smell! I went out into the cool garage after that and Da was sitting at his bullet making machine. “Can I have some powder?” I asked him and he said, “Come over and watch!” Da made bullets for three police forces in three towns as we moved from place to place. It was good extra money. Da had a table and inset into the table was a machine to make the bullets with….there was the casing…then there was the lead top and then there was the tiny, barrel-shaped thing that went in the bottom and then there was the gunpowder. “See?” he explained, “First you measure out the powder and you put it here.”, He showed me where he poured it in. “Then you line this up in this groove here and see this?” He showed me a tiny, round barrel, “This goes at the bottom! and this is lead and this goes at the top…and you line them up in this groove JUST SO!”, He lined them up and then he let me pull the long handle down. “Don’t pull too quickly you want to HEAR it seal off right!” So I pulled slowly and heard a ‘snick’ sound… Da let me take some gunpowder and a hammer. He had already showed us how to fold small bits of paper into squares and hit the paper with the hammer and make it go BOOM! (Da loved guns and had many guns. When he made bullets he would put each part in it place in the machine and then pull down the handle….he could feel when the bullet ‘sealed’ and it made a small ‘snick’ sound. When each of us was strong enough to hold a gun he taught us all how to shoot. Mom hated that. We loved it!) After that I went hunting ‘Horny Toads’ (which are really lizards) They are almost extinct now but back then we caught many Horny Toads that spit red from their eyes when they were mad! They looked like little dinosaurs! We would always let them go. Susan and I ran out into the field by the house and found the skunk grapes and shared them. Then Loreen came over and then many other children from the same place walked a long way so we could all play RED ROVER! Two lines would form….Loreen was head of hers and Susan was head of ours and there were five to ten children in each line all linking hands! Each line facing the other one at about a hundred paces.One side chanted, “RED ROVER RED ROVER LET JIMBOB COME OVER!” And Jimbob would RUNNNNNN like the wind and try to break our arms apart and bust through the line! “RED ROVER RED ROVER LET ‘BECKY COME OVER!” And Rebecca would run back and try to break the line….Sometimes, for fun, we would let go and someone from the other side would fall thinking that we would be trying to stop them…Many of us ate red dirt in this way but it was FUN! The time came when a day in the life of a gypsie farm kid involved school. It was to be my first day at school in the Mapless Town and I was not going to go. Mom forced me to go but I looked at me little sister with eyes of envy as she stayed home with mom. The yellow bus came to get me and I was alone with alot of other farm and gypsie kids as we went to the little school that had kindergarten to high-school all in one building. We stayed in one room all day as teachers shifted. It was in kindergarten that they led my first teacher away in tears. He was an old man and the new American law said you could not work anymore after 65….you had to retire and take the money you had paid the government all your life whether you wanted to or not. He was 72. He was healthy. He argued right before us his right as they finally led him away in tears and brought young Miss Beckers in to teach us. Miss Beckers hated Nixon and put McGovern buttons on our clothes which made Da very angry. It was not illegal to do that then. She preached anti-war to us, kindergartners, and taught us the basics of meditation. She was weird and thought I was a genius because I could already read. I met Shelly. We finger painted and I loved that SO much with the bright colour on the paper in smears! 40 years later my younger sister told me how angry she was I got to go to school first. She told me how she and mom would play like mom was a teacher and they were in school but Susan was never as smart as I was…nor was I ever as pretty as she. I told her how angry I was I had to go first. We then laughed. We had each spent a lifetime of jealousy over so many things that all began with who went to school first. The Tornado! In the Mapless Town my sister and I were hunting grasshoppers. There were many that year and some people even liked to fry them! Green and young the season was never long enough for them to become locusts but we did not know that then as we trapped them in our hands and put them in jars. The smell of rain was in the air and yet the sun shown over the green fields. She was running ahead of me into the field in her dark blue dress and her long ponytail flying behind her. It was and is not the custom to shave a girl child’s hair here and I was jealous of her long hair… …and always would be. I watched the sky intently and the white sun-limned clouds were growing fast. The sun cut under the clouds as the evening fell and the clouds grew as high as mountains in the sky. From far off I saw they grey, rectangular slants on the far horizons of the great sweet expanse of green alfalfa and then came distant thunder and the great trees of light…I gloried in the smell as the wind shifted to the Northwest and a sudden gust of chill sliced the summer heat from it’s firm stand on the land and electrical charges ran through by body from the ground. The wind picked up and my sisters blue dress was all I could see as she came running home as the wind came in. I stretched my small arms out as far as I could and tried to hug the wind. The dust rose from the farmlands too long dry and it got in my teeth and made me laugh. All over the little houses at the edge of the mapless town people were running indoors and I stood at the edge of the field and ate LIFE! Big, cold drops of clear rain began to hit my scalp and run down my neck and I began to dance around as children do when they are very happy. Da laughed from the front porch….the light was obscured by the now huge, deep grey cloud and the coming sheets of rain. “C-R-R-R-A-a-a-a-A-A-A-A-A-A-C-C-C-C-CKKKKK!!!!!! BOOM!!!!” The voice of the mighty thunder spoke and love filled me up to the brim! I counted the seconds from booms to flashes at the edge of the field wet and transfixed by the beauty and power of the storm…2 miles away…Da taught me the secret. Suddenly the sky became GREEN as the alfalfa and the wind stopped and the rain and it was like Time Itself had stopped and Da yelled at me from the porch… “COME INSIDE NOW!!!!!” He was afraid. I did not disobey this time. As I ran to the house a roar began…the roar of many winds….it sounded like the train that passed the small grain stores in the farmers co op….a sudden wind slammed my back and as I fell Da grabbed me under one arm and ran the rest of the way to the house and shut the door. “Everyone get in the hallway NOW!” We did. Mom began to cry and the twins looked at her like she turned into a Martian. Susan got round eyed as winds roared around us and Da stood over all of us with his body like a roof with his arms planted on the wall while we sat on the ground underneath in a pile…the twins on mom and Susan and I at her cross-legged feet.The walls began to move as if they were breathing and all over the house was the sound of windows breaking and doors slamming as if some huge giant was angrily throwing things around our house I heard the sounds of roaring and breaking and Da was yelling out to God and mom was praying under her breath. The twins had started crying and I was awestruck……what power was this!!!!! It seemed an eternity yet it was over as fast as the wind can blow and when it passed we got up and looked at the house: Every door was unhinged, every window was broken, there was water all over the floor, but the walls of our little house were standing and the roof was still on it. As we wandered no one spoke. We went out side. As if It had a mind the Wind had smashed every other house, like a huge hand in a checkerboard game! There were people who had been inside their homes with no clothes and they were naked outside and mom and others took them blankets…I made a promise to myself then that the only time I would ever be naked, without my consent, was to bathe and I have kept it to this day.There had been a huge Cedar tree that my little sister and I had climbed in whose roots had grown beneath the foundation of that small house. It was now a half a mile away in the farmers grazing pasture behind us. We had no power and no tap water for a while but we got on. People stocked up on things back then…ready for disasters. We later learned we had lived through a cyclone that had split into twelve tornadoes and smashed a third of the already very small town… …but we were ALIVE! The Doll From Thailand Mom had a friend who was married to a spy and sometimes that friend would send her things that came from around the world! One day she got a box in the mail and in it were some hand-made dolls from The East! I wanted them. Mom said they were special and put them on a high shelf because she knew we would destroy them if we played with them but she let us hold them and touch them. Susan and I held those precious things from that faraway place with such awe! They were exquisite! They had hand-made doll clothes like mom had taught us to sew for our Barbie dolls but these were nothing like we ever saw they were bright blue and yellow silk with purple embroidery! I became fascinated with the EAST! Mom saw I wanted to read. She found me teaching myself to read from a Readers Digest that Da kept in the bathroom. She got a book called ‘The World Book’ from a door to door salesman and I took that book and made it mine! I would look at the dolls, stuffed with sawdust, with their black yarn top-knots and I made myself learn to read that World Book, thick and heavy, with the bright yellow spine, and mom helped me sometimes. I read about the ‘new’ United Nations and saw the names of the trees Da had already taught me and their pictures. This was how I learned. I knew which scribbles meant which pictures. There was one picture that I kept returning to over and over and over until that page was loose in the binding: The little Persian boy and girl sitting on a rug smiling. After that I loved the girl from Bali in the bright sarong with her feet and hands crooked at strange angles and then the picture on a smiling Arab, on a camel, near a striped tent.The first things I ever learned from a book, about the world, came from that book. Hunting Snipe Many have, perhaps, seen the episode of ‘King Of The Hill’ where the sons of two Texas families learn to hunt ‘Snipe’. In real life that is an actual TRADITION and when I was very young my father taught us to hunt Snipe. The first thing you do when you hunt Snipe is go on a camping trip. We went to ‘Sulphur Springs’ which is on Chickasaw land. It is a ‘healing’ resort type of area and quite lovely. We would go camping there often and one day we went camping and Da told us we needed to learn to hunt Snipe. He called us over after we spent most of the day swimming in the shallows and we went over to the tent were he and mom were sunning themselves and the barbecue grill at the campsite was already loaded with meat … “First you need to get a big stick like this one.” Da showed us the stick. “Then you wait until the sun starts to go down because Snipe come out at NIGHT!” He narrowed his eyes and looked scary! “Da what’s a snipe?” I asked him and my sister echoed me. “Weeellll a Snipe is a creature that lives in the bushes and JUMPS out at you!” He LUNGED in our faces and we gasped and stepped back and he smiled broadly. “Now go find sticks to hunt Snipe with!” My sister and I found two sticks that were a good size for us the carry and went back to Da. “Put them over there for now we are going to eat supper now.” Supper was awesome. Beef and onions and carrots in rough chunks grilled on an open flame and salted lightly. We had Coke in glass bottles back then. We had supper and mom was worried about us walking too far away from the campsite but Da said we were old enough and smart enough not to get lost in the dark…(Truth be told we were already too scared to go very far!) “Now go get your sticks and go hunt-us-up some snipe!” “How do we kill them?” “You hit them on the head!” “How will we know it’s a real snipe?” “Because they go GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!” he lunged at us both again and we ran screaming and laughing to a little bit and as we ran off he called out, “Bring back some Snipe!” The sun was going down and the fire-flies were coming out…it was scary and beautiful and we could hear mom talking and we crept around the bushes…. A noise!!!!! My sister and I started wacking the crap out of a bush! “Hit it! Hit it harder! We need to bring Da a SNIPE!” We were yelling and I heard Da laughing about something with mom. We didn’t find a Snipe in that bush so we kept looking….we were so intent on our task we forgot to listen for our parents and suddenly there was a noise in a bush nearby and we ran to it and wacked it until our arms hurt! No Snipe…then another bush nearby! We ran to that one and started wacking it with all our strength and this kept up until we were breathless and tired and sweaty! We knew Da would be disappointed but we decided we would not catch any Snipe that night. We went back to camp. Da was gone. “Where is Da?” Mom was laughing. We danced around her chanting “Where is he where is he!” He came out of the bushes from the same place we had been… “Did you go Snipe hunting too Da? Then you know there are no Snipe out there!” Da made a noise. It sounded like the noise in the bushes. My sister and I looked at each other. Mom was laughing. She took the sticks away and fed them to the campfire she started while we hunted Snipe. Da made that noise again and grinned really big….my sister and I started to get suspicious…. “What does a snipe look like Da? Tell us!” Mom was laughing harder. Da made that noise again. Mom broke the secret to us still laughing…. “Snipes look ALOT like your FATHER!” OOOOOOooo we were MAD…We ran at him and he picked us both up one under each arm trying to kick him! He kept on laughing until we were tired and said if we would not be mad he would sing for us and we could roast marshmallows. And so we did. He looked at my mother and sang a song from the musical ‘Camelot’ while we roasted marshmallows and watched them grow big and burst open and the smell of burnt sugar filled the air as he sang…. “If ever I would leave you… It wouldn’t be in summer. Seeing you in summer I never would go… Your hair streaked with sun-light, Your lips red as flame, Your face with a lustre that puts gold to shame! But if I’d ever leave you, It couldn’t be in autumn. How I’d leave in autumn I never will know. I’ve seen how you sparkle When fall nips the air. I know you in autumn And I must be there. And could I leave you running merrily through the snow? Or on a wintry evening when you catch the fire’s glow? If ever I would leave you, How could it be in spring-time? Knowing how in spring I’m bewitched by you so? Oh, no! not in spring-time! Summer, winter or fall! No, never could I leave you………at all!” He loved her so…many many years ago. He did not ever leave her until he left this world on October 6th 2012 at 2 am. My Da came from a line of men and women who could not be parents and he broke that tradition…from love. Hunger I have said I never remember being poor or hungry but today an old memory came back. There was a time, in grade school, when there was not much to eat before school. Before lunch time came my stomach was growling so loudly… …it sounded like a lion roaring, (at least to me), in class. White walls and chipped varnish on desktops. I was scared even before I got on the bus because I KNEW what was going to happen! It would be even worse if I ate the apple mom gave me from Hoss Spangle’s tree because then two loud sounds would reverberate throughout the class room! That apple was breakfast. I could eat it and make a lot of kids laugh or not eat it and make less kids laugh. To this day I am not a huge fan of apples. I did not mind climbing Hoss’s tree to get them. I did not mind farting where no one heard…but farting in class? That would get you killed! The teacher we had insisted on absolute attention and quiet. There was no way to hide anything. Troy would make a joke out of his predicament and actually rise out of his seat and announce his intention and Wyne had to take the ‘blow’ every time because we had assigned seats. Troy always was sent to the office and we all had to gather in a circle and watch while the teacher whipped him for disrespect. He laughed through every whipping until that old woman who taught us broke the paddle on him! Everyone laughed at HER then. He was a HERO…. ….for farting. I wished I was a guy then I could do that too but I did not want trouble. if I got into any trouble at all I would go home to a strap….hell I wasn’t even in second grade yet so any noise in class was terrifying to me. Every day was terrifying for a little while. There was no A/C and no humming machinery or loud voices to break the silence unless we raised ours hands to talk or Troy musically burped out, “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, or announced his intent to ‘gas’ Wyne and go to the office. “Class we will now recite the “Pledge Of Allegiance”, the teacher ordered us to stand and place our right hand over our heart and recite: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” “Be seated and open your books to chapter 23 on the geography of the world….” Her voice would drone on and on and I could concentrate at first but at 10 am came closer and would become more and more nervous. Would today be a bad day? I did not even like to use the schoolroom restrooms. I did not even EVER want anyone to know I even HAD to flush! Being human was SO embarrassing! My mind would freeze with terror as that sound came up from my little empty tummy…. “RRRrrrrrrrrrr….ptttttpttptttptpttttt…rrrRRRRRrrrRrrrrrrrrrrrrr”, I felt hot all over and did not look at the book as I heard someone behind me giggle helplessly. The teacher LOOKED at me over her glasses and terror filled me! The class was utterly silent awaiting the drama….I could FEEL the cuttable laughter all around me as my tummy refused to listen to my fear! “RRRRRRRRRRRRR….RRRRRR…BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR….!!!!!!” My tummy was screaming so loud I knew God could here it! not only that but the fear of trouble and the strap and lack of food made the sound go away as I almost passed out…Just then Troy saved my life! That little inbred buck-toothed hard-assed bandy-legged little red neck kid stood up and drawled, “Git reddy!!!!!!” He farted in Wyne’s face so loudly I KNEW God must have heard that! As they led us all outside to watch his whipping he smiled that big, buck-toothed freckled face smile. Four Dead In Ohio It was 1970. I was born in 1963 so I guess that made me…SEVEN YEARS OLD! Sheesh I always think I was older! Shelly’s brother Mack had filled out his information to be drafted if he was called. I was in the first grade then I guess in the little farm town. Mom hated the ‘Nam! She had a book that was called “Valley of the Mekong” (Yes I could read VERY well at five! I was waaay past the ‘Dog named Spot’ stories!) In that book were photos of war. One photo was new and shocking and I was deeply impressed! I little girl not much older than me, running naked down a road, her mouth opened in a black and white silent scream…That is when I learned what ‘Napalm’ was. As I write this I had totally forgotten how young I was! I never did the math until this moment as I type this…. ….I am in shock. One night we were watching the news. Da said,”Damn hippies! They deserve it!” I got interested. I began to watch with Da…mom was cooking and Susan was playing with a slinky. The windows were all open and Da and I sat on the floor and watched.They were interviewing people and many of them spoke like my Da did saying they deserved to die. One woman had a white dress on the black and white TV and a short bouffant hairdo….MY mom had PRETTY hair! They were showing footage of smiling people dressed in jeans and all the guys with long hair and there were two people putting roses in the ends of soldiers guns! I knew better then to ask Da anything! I kept my mouth shut and my ears and eyes open! “They look like GIIIRLS! I can’t tell which are the girls and which are the guys!” He started to laugh. I could hear the pressure cooker going “ssssst ssssst sssst ssssst” and the smell of chicken and potatoes came drifting into the living room with it’s fourth hand sofa and indoor/outdoor ugly brown carpet. Susan was fully engrossed by the slinky as I kept watching that old black and white TV…and the soldiers lowers their guns! “That’s OUR boys!” said Da with some pride. ‘Our Boys?’ It hit my little kid mind with the force of a freight train that rumbled by at a high speed through the field of purple vetch that went to eternity! MACK! If Mack went to The ‘Nam or even the National Guard and they told him to kill me or anyone in my family! I said, “THAT IS EVIL!” Da looked at me and said, “They are traitors! They should die!” …and as I watched the footage I was horrified as the strangely dressed, smiling people started to run and cry and it was not until the following days that the news released the information that OUR BOYS had killed AMERICAN CIVILIANS! Later I learned about he Mad Treaty and nuclear war but this was one of the things burned into my brain that has made me what I am today….It was only the year before he had ripped the ‘Vote for McGovern’ button Miss Beckers had pinned to our shirts…(today such things are not allowed in school)…and sent an angry note to the school. I was seven years old Today my heart goes out to every five year old who not only witnesses the violence their own governments do to their people but have to see it in PERSON. If this affected me so much only from the news….how much MORE could it affect…? It breaks my heart that death must be to set the prison world free….. The Playground Marriage I was the child-star of our little playground in the map less town. I was the best at climbing the monkey bars and I would bunch my skirts between my knees and hang upside down from the top bar with only my toes. The other children were in awe of me as I climbed to the top the swing set and balanced across it like a circus lady. I was the only girl who wore a dress then. One bar high above the ground and I walked across it with the ease of a dancer…which I would later become. It was 1968…I was in the first grade.It was August and it was SOOOOOOO green. Hot and windy and I faced the wind and spread my arms and tried to imagine I would fly like a bird if it blew any harder….from a distance was a boy named Sam. He was five years old like me and his father and mine worked together in the same ‘Oil Patch’.He came over very shy….looking at the ground…and grabbed my outstretched hand and whispered in my ear…. “Will you marry me?” … …he would be the last to ask until I was way beyond 40. I said yes and we hugged each other. Rodger came to us and said he would be the preacher. And the other Oil Gypsie kids gathered around us…later I would see some of them again in different towns and different places. Rodger yelled out to all, “Who are my witlesses!” Many of the kids came forwards all clamouring to be a‘witless’. They stood around us in a circle and Rodger said “You have to hold hands”…. …so we held hands.Then Rodger said…. “Do you, Sam, want to take this girl to be your ….”, and he could not remember the right words….one kid yelled out… “WIFE!” and Rodger said… “OK…and you”, he said looking at me, “Do you want this boy as your husband?” I said yes and then Rodger said…. “OK you gotta put a ring on her finger and kiss her.” In unison the crowd of five year olds went “EEEWWWWWWW!!!” and someone said, “Girl cooties!” Sam dug around in his pocket and came up with a tin ring with a green stone from a bubble gum machine….a ring that cost him a whole penny! I was very impressed! He put it on one finger and then another but all my fingers were too small so finally he put it on my thumb. Then we leaned over towards each other and almost touched lips while the crowd of children watched with great intensity. Rodger yelled, “OK YOU ALL ARE MARRIED NOW EVERYONE SAW IT!” and the crowd dispersed. Sam wiped his nose on his sleeve and we stared at each other. What do married people do? We decided it meant we shared our lunches. So we shared out lunch that day. The next day he came to me and said… “I am marrying Loreena cause she gave me a box of raisins”….I said, “OK, but I am keeping the ring.” He said…”OK” but Loreena was mad at me all day cause she wanted that ring…she was as green as that ring eventually made my thumb turn colour….. The day Da died he came by to see me on his way out and he reminded me of this: Back in the little farm town at the end of the concrete road sometimes Da would come out and play with me and my younger sister when he had a day off. He would let us pretend we were giants. Da stood about 6 feet five inches in his stocking feet back then. He had a big white smile and black hair and was always tanned from working on the oil rigs. In the summer when the days were hot we did not mind sweating. We were all so young and healthy then. Da was an ox of a man. 500 pounds was a feather to him. He put chin up bars in the doors of the house and made us learn how to do them. We wanted to learn it was fun. We would have contests to see who could do the most. We were just little kids. We loved to play ‘Giant’. Da would let us hide outside and we would let ourselves get caught because if you got caught you got to be a REAL GIANT….like him. We would turn from skinny little munchkins into GIANTS….because when he caught one of us we got SWOOPED around in a circle and got to sit on his shoulders and hang on to his forehead while he walked up and down the street pretending he was a mean giant. From high above the ground I grabbed his sweaty forehead and felt the muscles in it move when he made ‘faces’. The bright hot sun felt good on my head and he grabbed my feet when my hands slipped off his forehead so that I would not fall….The sky seemed closer and, laughing I would let myself fall backwards and upside down and watch the world with upside-down eyes and we walked down the street….then I would pull myself back up and grab his head again and both of us would smile in the Oklahoma wind…a little tiny blond waif and a huge black haired giant. Some times he would raise his arms high above his head and I would stand on his shoulders and grab his hands and then I felt like the whole world belonged to me… …in a little farm town. Licking The Pot Time was when mama had four of us ranging in age from 2 to 10 years of age when we lived where the blacktop ended by the field of purple vetch that ran for miles….those were good days then when sweating in the hot sun felt good and it tasted like salt on my lips. We had nothing then but sun and wind and green green green with green storms that dropped whirlwinds like calves are dropped in the spring, Sometimes Da was out on the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico…it was a good summer and he would be gone for all of that time…mama was sooooooo skinny and she never told us that sometimes she didn’t eat so we could eat more…we never knew but we knew she could cook anything with nothing and sometimes all we had was bread and butter with suger on top but we were happy. We were all knobby knees and climbing trees and running into the wind except my baby brother who was finally born so Da had someone to carry the name on-wards…he was inside peeing on the ceiling…we knew what we could eat from the land and there were skunk grapes and ground nuts and plantains and we ate ‘em right from where they grew wild…we ate the apples right off the trees and we ate the black ants right along with the mulberries…always hungry…but there were some magical times…mama would get the condensed milk and the cocoa and sugar and butter and make fudge….all of us would gather around her looking up with expectant eyes hoping…hoping…waiting… ….to lick the pot. She had a rubber spatula but still somehow she never managed to get it all out and when she was done she gave us the pot and we all scraped our fingers over the sides to get every molecule of chocolate that was there and then we would draw sticks to see who got to lick it clean… …today I sometime think about those days as I see people throw food away that others could eat…We did not have anything much…but I had the whole world then and I was as free as the Oklahoma wind that carried my spirit to the sky as we ran the fields and smelled the alfalfa…since then so much of what was has been lost in time…a dream of a world that is no more…more than love or power or money or anything this world could give me…I would be that child again…If God is kind and paradise awaits me I hope there are fields of purple vetch and apple trees to climb in a little mapless town where the blacktop ends. Shelly There are times when memory becomes myth and lives like a sparkling jewel in the heart as some paradise that can never be reattained. It was the 1970’s and I was 7 years old I think. I was at Shelly’s house. I loved Shelly with an uncharacteristic intensity for one that young and I loved her brother, Mack, as well. Mack was 18 and he was being called away to the ‘Nam. We hated the the ‘Nam for that…My friends parents cried. He had a small satchel with a few things and some friends who had also been drafted came to get him. Before he left Shelly and I sat with him, in his room, while he tried to act brave and nonchalant. I thought he was like some hero…that freckle-faced farm kid from the town on no-one’s map… ..Shelly and I were inseparable. We played in the cane groves that grew thick behind her house and made believe we, too, were at war… making the ‘akk akk’ gun noises with sticks and pretending to fall over dead. There was a Benjamin Franklin Store in town. In that store were jersey, psychedelic outfits for little girls complete with brightly flowered plastic boots and wrap around skirts and tie dye T-shirts….any little girl who got one looked like a comic version of a small hippie and sheilas parents got her one. Out on the playground near the slide we linked arms and sang, “These boots were made for walkin’ and I’m gonna walk all over you!” Only I did not have boots. My sister Susan was stepping on Stacy’s long curly hair because it was the longest hair in the whole school and Susan was jealous! Susan climbed behind her and whenever Stacy screamed, as my sister’s foot stepped on her hair, the wind wafted it over an iron bar and jerked her head back. Shelly and I laughed as Susan, with a look of complete innocence, said, “OH OH I SO soory I will try not to hurted you any more!” I loved those plastic boots with the psychedelic flowers on them. I wanted to walk all over bad guys in them too! I went home after school, “Mom? Can we go to the Benjamin Franklin Store?” “I will ask your father dear.” She was cooking something in the pressure cooker and it went “SSSzt SSSSzt SSSzt” like a clock ticking and smelled like the vegetables from the garden and garlic. I LOVE garlic even to this day! Da took us to the short, small dusty main street with a few shops and BEN FRANKLIN’S Five and dime GENERAL! I loved that store! It was full of weird cheap things and hanging their on the wall was THE outfit I wanted! The bright Pink and Yellow BOOTS! Sheila and I would MATCH! OOOOOO!!! OOOOOOO!!!!! “DA! DA! LOOK!” I pointed at the outfit and he went over and looked…. “Looks like something one of those damn hippie whores would wear!” was all he said.My heart fell.Mom saw and took me by the hand and said, “Look at these clever little dolls!” They were tiny Barbie dolls only three inches high. They were 10 cents apiece….she got me one and it became like a small amulet at that tiny doll had boots like the ones I wanted on her….mom said, “You can pretend this is you.” I loved that doll. It was a symbol of all that I would someday be: Someday I would be different than my mother! I would be beautiful. I would travel the world like she did when she was little. I would go to fancy school where smart people went! I had such lovely dreams! Shelly and I were sure that we would both one day be great beauties like our Barbie dolls and we would both get to be Miss America! (I found out later that Barbie might have been based off a German sex doll but it was too late by that time) In the early 1960’s a new trend was catching on: Miss America. Every year the family gathered together in front of the TV set and waited with great excitement for this showtime. We were only a small part of a huge movement to change America. There were two very important rules to being Miss America: You could not be married or have children. You had to have some college degree and be talented in a major way. Back then we all gathered around the TV set. There were three stations to choose from. Miss America show would come on and we would all gather…three little girls and one little boy and pregnant mom and Da and watch the best of America’s women strut across the stage to the mike in all their glory….They would stand to the mike and say things like, “I am so glad to be here and meet all you wonderful people. I have a Masters degree in Ocean Biology and I am an expert concert pianist. I work with underprivileged children in the inner-cities and I hope to run a large business one day….” As they walked across the stage in lovely ball gowns, did their amazing talents, and finally the swimsuits we would all sit together and judge which one was the best one…the smartest one…the prettiest one…Da would lead the way and this was as normal as everyday life but year after year an insidious message came clearly to a whole generation of young American girls… …motherhood was for those who were not pretty enough or smart enough to do something more important…..the last generation of American women to have more than 2.5 children was my mother’s generation….of four daughters and one son all over 40 she has 3 grandchildren…three daughters and one son as corporate executives and me…. I watched with fascination as the best woman in America was chosen to represent America and get roses and money and the proposals of many men from all over the world for marriage…every little girl in America wanted to be Miss America…very few would ever be pretty enough…or smart enough….I saw my mother hungry and sad and struggling as Da would sometimes yell at her and beat her and dream of a world where men worshiped at my feet and everything was mine…I was so young…I believed it….I wanted love…I wanted love sooooooo much. Did I want to be mom… …or Miss America? Every little girl in America wanted to be Miss America. We played at pageants and pretended. When we were in the Mapless Town there was going to be a children’s beauty pageant in the nearest large City. Mom heard about it. She asked me if I would like to go. I said, “OHHH! YES!!” I thought I was a princess and played princess all the time. I was at least as good as Snow White and Cinderella! I had Barbie dolls and I thought I would look like them one day….the world was so full of joy and hope. We went to the town to enter. Mom and I drove by ourselves. I felt very important. We had gotten the rules and the fee to enter and what costumes you needed to have…mom was worried. We went to a clothing store….OOOOOooooo… the things there were REAL princess dresses and I had never seen them like that except at Walt Disney cartoon movies. Mom sighed. “We can only afford this one and that one….” as she chose the cheapest ones but those pretty pink things were so fancy to me….we went to a large brick building where you signed in and paid your fee. There was a brown haired lady there wearing horn rimmed glasses…she said, “Who is entering?,” as she tried to peer around me and my mother through her spectacles…..my mother pushed me forwards and said, “My daughter Shani.” The lady looked at me…told me to walk back and forth, tilted my head and look at my profile and then told my mom very kindly, “Dear…your daughter does not have a chance to win this contest. Her nose is too long and her ears uneven. She walks rather clumsily and she looks to need some dance lessons. Don’t waste your money dear.” Mom was angry…she grabbed my hand and said… “There won’t be any beauties in THIS contest only ugly people like YOU!” …and she dragged me out. We went back to the store and returned my clothes…I was sad to see them go but I was not a princess…why did I need them? Shelly was the fearie girl…the little princess….I was just a…well maybe a big boned tomboy! (Mom did get me, and my sisters Susan and Marla, ballet lessons.) Mom’s Underwear Back in the day…when mama’s steps and stairs brood was just about waist high and downwards…we decided to play ‘Spider-man’. Now we had to have costumes but everyone wanted to be Spider-man! “You have to be the Green Goblin!” I told Susan “But I don’t WANT be a GOBLIN!” “But Spider man has to have something to fight!” “OK I fight you…you be a Goblin!” “I am older and taller. I get to be Spider-man!” “No let Beato be Spider-man. He is a boy.” My little brother looked at us with mild interest. He could talk a little and he liked Spider-man but he didn’t really understand it all completely yet. My other two sisters were younger. They liked to copy everything but they didn’t understand anything yet. “Ok then Beato can be the Green Goblin and Marla can be Mysterio and we can both be Spider-man because there are enough enemies!” “No fun they won’t KNOW!” “Let’s dress up anyway!” “OK how?” I thought about it. What thing would make us look most like Spider-man? It would have to have BIG eye-holes and cover our whole heads! Then it hit me like a flash! UNDERWEAR! We could put underwear on our heads and look through the leg holes! I led them all to my, and my younger sisters, room we shared and opened the underwear drawer and passed out five pairs. We each pulled a pair over our heads and discovered the size was too small and we could not see anything! “What we do?” said my sister “We sneak in and get mom’s underwear!” “O-tay” The younger ones still had our underwear in their hands and they toddled after us as we ‘sneaked’ into Mama and Papa’s room and opened all the drawers until we found her drawers. I grabbed the red silky ones because they would make the most realistic mask. I handed some black ones off to my sister and more to the youngest ones who had dropped ours somewhere in the hallway. “So we all are Spider-mans?” she asked “Yes.” She and I helped the youngest ones get mom’s underwear on their heads so they could see out the leg holes and then we helped each other put on our masks…then we went outside to play. Inside the house my mama was cooking and she heard the phone ring…. “Yes…OH NO YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING!…. MY KIDS? ARE YOU SURE?….OH GAAAAWWWD!” We were all trooping down the street looking for bad guys and were almost to the end of the road when mom rang the big huge bell from Belgium that was a coupla hundred years old and you could hear it for a mile or two! “Mama’s ringing. We are trouble now!” It was a 200 year old brass bell from Da’s side of the family and it sounded like a small version of a church bell. We had to turn around and go running up the street but not too fast because the younger ones had to keep up. As we ran back up the street everyone’s mama was out on the front porch laughing! 40 years later she will never forget the day she was embarrassed when all her kids went running down the street with her underwear on their heads! Sea-monkeys and Moon-rocks Down on Main Street at ‘ Benjamin Franklin’s: the ‘five and dime’, (five meant a nickle), We used to get ‘Moon Rocks’ and ‘Sea Monkies’. We begged mom to buy them for us. Every once in a while she did. Moon Rocks were Calcium substrates and a chemical solute that caused them to expand and ‘grow’. They came in bright rainbow colours and we would put them in a glass and watch for two ours without moving to try to ‘see’ them in the act of growing and while they did grow it was majikal that we never SAW it while we looked…Then we would pour off the liquid solute and add water and put it in front of the night light in the bedroom we all shared so we could we the ‘mountain shadows’ just like on the moon in the sky, cast upon our walls. Those moon rocks were such fragile things. Like life does they broke and crumbled to dust. We once tried to breed ‘Sea Monkies’ in an old tank full of Moon Rocks. My sister and I were eating ‘Space Food Sticks’…(we preferred the peanut butter). Everything was about astronauts then….We were eating the SAME FOOD the astronauts ate! Every time we tore the wrapper from one of those we would look at it in awe and think of the men saying, “One step for man..” “Maaaaaaamaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! I want to go to Benjamin’s!” I looked at my sister and I knew….we looked at the empty tank full of fading, crumbling moon-rocks. I went to mom and tugged at her skirt… “Can I have another Space Food Stick?” “No dear…they have to last…those have all the vitamins for one day in them!” “MaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaMaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!”Susan was tugging at her long hippie hair…. “OK! OK! We will GO! But we can’t get anything expensive!” she was pregnant with my last sister Sara… but not so big yet and skinny legs. She led us off to the van rolling her eyes while we danced around her chanting, “SEA MONKIES SEA MONKIES!!!!!” My baby brother was in a regular adult seat and there were no car-seats for kids then. We drove to the five and dime and we opened the side door with all the strength our little arms could muster to slide it open…we ran inside and the bells on the door jingled and the store smelled like Christmas candy…We ran to the counter before mom even got in the store and asked where the packages of sea monkies were…we had them at the counter by the time mom was in the store and we were jumping around like little monkies ourselves. Mom went and got a few boxes of ‘Chef Boy R Dee’ Pizza’s and we knew all four of us would share one pizza a day for supper. Today people eat half a Mazio’s Pizza all by themselves but then we had to share one thin 12 inch pizza 4 or 5 ways if Da was home…there was sooo little money and pizza was a treat. On the ride back, with blissful intent, I stared at the black dots on the canopy of the van until I saw two levels form…When we got home we grabbed the package and fought over who would do it….Sea Monkies would be SO GROOVY! They made little families and would breed and be like pets! We saw the TV commercials! We were so excited. Mom said, “Don’t be too excited dears. They are only brine shrimp.” We could not hear her we were intent on our task of building a kingdom in an old tank of moon-rocks and fill it with sea monkies! The garden hose…the tank…the package…the instructions and all we followed and put the monkies in the garage and watched intently…. ….nothing happened. After a while, bored and disappointed, we forgot all about that wasted dime. a few weeks later it rained and I was playing in the gutter that ran along the house and was building a dam that caught the water until I had built it with mud out of the fields and it ran all the way across the road and I was hoping no ones tractor would run over it and break it. The next day I went to see if it was still there and lo and behold!!!!! There was a CLEAR pool full of little wiggling things! They were SEA MONKIES!!!!!! “Maaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!! Maaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!” I ran screaming to the open front door. Breathless I gasped out, “Jar Jar!!!! need a jar!!!” “Why dear?” “SEA MONKIES….OUTSIDE!!!!” She reached in the high cabinet and got a Mason Jar with a lid that already had holes poked in the top. We always brought things home: Grasshoppers and baby rattle snakes and mice and tarantulas and horny toads…she was always ready…She gave me the jar and I RAN back outside and scooped as many sea monkies into the jar as I could!!!! I, reverently, put the jar in the bathroom before Da came home. When Da came home he went to the bathroom and came stomping out of it mad as hell! “OK! WHO BRED 1000 mosquitoes in a jar in the bathroom and shut the door!” Mom started to laugh….Susan stared at me like I was an alien…. “Da they were SEA MONKIES!” He began to laugh…. “Da I need a toilet paper roll and some copper wire….” “What for????” “I want to make a toilet paper radio.” Mom and dad laughed until they cried that day….. Learning The Nature Of Pain We were still in the Mapless Farm-town and there were four children now…I was maybe seven years old then. There would have been another brother but he was born dead. My mother was pregnant with Sara and so so skinny and weak. She still always cried. She told me about her childhood and her dreams as if I was a small adult….but we were hard on her starving nerves. She had no friend but me…I was her best friend so I knew everything when I was five. About babies and how they are made and where they come from and how she did not love my father and about Carlos. I was in kindergarten then and something in me Da changed….One day he came home from work and found mom crying…he got angry and he asked her what was wrong and she told him all her troubles…some of which were caused by us. Da looked at me oddly. There was almost hatred in his eyes. I still am not sure what I did wrong to this day but at five even I remember…he said very quietly, “Come here” and he made my mother stay in that room. He took me in the master bedroom and shut the door. He got a piece of leather with a hook on one end from the wall where it hung. I asked him why he was getting that. He said that he needed to teach me how to behave. “What did I do?” “You sassed me just now by asking that question!”, now his eyes were mean and hungry. He said, “Take your pants off” “NO!” “then I will do it for you!” “No you won’t!” “The more you fight me the worse it will be!” “I HATE YOU I WISH YOU WOULD DIE THEN! YOU MAKE MOM CRY!” He grabbed me and off came the pants and over his knee with my butt in the air he beat me until I was bruised and blood came. He counted….”One” The leather met a childs flesh and lightning struck me and I screamed and cried…. “NOOOOOO STOOOPPPP NOOOO! PLEEEASEEEE! NOOOOOOO!!!!” “Two…I will hit you with this until you stop crying…I am not hitting you as hard as I could” Again the leather met wounded flesh and I cried until I vomited as he hit me again for vomiting and making a mess for mom to clean…and again and again…how can I explain the way pain burns until it becomes numb and goes away? He beat me until his arm was tired.Then he held me in his arms while I sobbed how much I hated him and told me this was for love….that I will learn to be a good girl this way. Something is me broke and I swore I would never be good again…but I said nothing to him just trembled with pain in his arms and afterwards I could not walk. Mom cried and cried. I cried. He threw up his hands and said he was tired of crying…I cried all night and was sick for days. I swore to fight him always…even in my childish way… “I am RUNNING AWAY!” I was crying ’til I could not stand it and mom was crying and Da was pissed and the babies were upset ’cause he had just counted 100 straps to my childish ass. I was about seven… “GO! Run away! Who will feed you! You will die out there. You think I am mean? You wait ’til some one REALLY sick gets ahold of you!” Mom screamed and cried more…I staggered out the front screen door in the mapless town. We were going to leave that town soon. I did not want to move again. It was dark out in the little country town and no moon. On the front porch I sat and thought how I wish he would die. I did not know then how much his own life had hurt him to make him how he was. I thought about Carlos and wondered if I would be here if HE was married to my mom and they lived in that far off place full of hippies and surfers called ‘California.’ What if I could walk to California? I sighed and my face hurt from salt burn and muscles stretched in the rictus of pain before but all was quiet now…inside I could hear mom crying softly and Da telling her not to come get me that I was not going anywhere because I was a coward. A coward…a seven year old coward….I curled up in a ball and gave up and went to sleep on the porch and woke up when the sun hit me in the eyes…Words are far more painful than blows. I would a thousand blows to death than what he told me I was that day… …Coward. (Even to the present the greatest love and the greatest hate I got for all men came from him.) The State Child Welfare Ladies The doorbell rang. My sister was still limping from the bruises and still had bloody legs. Becky’s mom had started to check our legs for injuries when we went to her house and it was bad enough when Da yanked our pants off to spank us but worse when someone’s mother did, gently of course, to make sure we were not badly hurt. I am not sure who found out or called but the doorbell rang….We were still in the mapless town…me and my next younger sister were beaten bruised and or bloody on a regular basis for bad acts… …we never knew what it was we did that was so bad but whatever it was we did it…baby asses in the air with a razor strap and each stroke counted while we screamed and then after cuddled and loved and explained why this was necessary so we would learn to be good and how it meant Da cared for us. A strange women came in. Mom looked scared. Scared and skinny and sad. The strange woman said, “I have heard reports of severe child abuse from this address may I see your children?” Mom was pregnant with the last one then…she looked horrified. She called us all in to her and tried to fit all four of us into an embrace shortened by child number five’s growth. We all looked at the lady and she smiled at us kindly. I sensed she really was a nice lady. The woman motioned for my next youngest sister to come to her. Susan toddled over while mom looked stricken…the woman took off Susan’s pants and gasped and mom began to cry. The woman became very stern! “DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS!” Mom was in the floor now sobbing uncontrollably and almost unable to talk…. “N-n-n-oooooooooo” she gasped out! “He…gasp never…..gasp lets me in and he…gasp shuts the doooooor!” She was wailing now…mom was soo scared I got scared. “I think it would be better if these poor children were in another environment….” she smiled at us and all of us stared at her without comprehension while Susan tried to comfort our prostrate mother while she moaned in the floor. Another woman came in then who had been waiting out side and my mom crawled over to the first womens legs and hugged her around the knees while moaning over and over again, “Please don’t take my babies they are all I have…please don’t take them I have nothing else…pleeeeeeaseeee!!!!!”, I was so short then I could see moms snot and tears making spots on the woman’s pant leg. All my sibs but me were crying as I looked at the strange woman and wondered if it might be better to go with her. At this time Da came home covered with oil from head to foot in his red overalls, not yet the huge, obese man he would one day become and he saw what was going on…he roared, “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE OR I WILL CALL THE POLICE! I MAKE BULLETS FOR ALL THE OFFICERS HERE AND IF YOU COME BACK TO MY HOUSE….!” The woman was NOT afraid….she said back very quietly and angrily, “Sir. You may terrorize your wife and your children but you will NOT do so to me! I am here to take your children out of a dangerous situation so that they will have better lives.” Then Da was quiet, “Take them and you are a dead woman. I know the laws in this state and you can’t do that unless my wife and children will testify against you in court! They won’t do that…” He looked at me with THAT look in his eyes and I looked down quickly…he grabbed mom by her long hair and pulled her off the woman’s snot stained legs and stared her down ’til she started backing up. He reached down and helped my heavily pregnant mom off the floor. “No need for you to worry anyway as I have just been assigned to the offshore drilling rigs in the gulf and will be gone for some time! “GOOD!”, the nice lady said as she and her companion left. Mom cried and cried until Da called Dr. Mores. Back in those days doctors still made house calls. Dr. Mores looked my Da in the eye and said, “If you keep up this way with your wife she will die….her body is already too weak now and what about all these children?” Now it was evening….Mom tucked us all in bed and she and Da sang songs to us together…in those moments was as much real love as their good be the other extreme of pain and hate. The next day when we woke up Da was gone, mom was happy and making breakfast for us. Da was gone for three months that whole summer and when he got back he said we were moving to a new town. Something in me broke forever then…all I loved was in this town, In the new town Da could beat us more… …I swore then I would never love again. Later as our little gypsie caravan pulled out of the Mapless Town to go where the next job was I decided I would never forgive life for it’s cruelty. I was not even allowed to say goodbye to Shelly as they thought, in their great wisdom, that would hurt too much…it would be many years before I made another real friend….as we drove down the freeway in the van Susan asked to see the small doll that had come to mean all that was good in the Mapless Town, all that was Shelly….as tears rolled down my face that had no sound I gave it to her and she smiled and threw it out the open window….I screamed…I fought…but Dad would not turn back….It would be 1978 before I made another friend….even now as I write this the tears still come… …Shelly. The Evil Town Shining right in my window is a big, round moon…I have mixed a batch of henna and lemon juice and water with dark tea and am waiting to stir it a second time before I store it until it is ready. It smells like spinach and lemons in here now…as I sit here I recall the Evil Town once more, the girl with the cornrow braids. (This story is dedicated to a remarkable young man I met online named Toney Gaines Jr. II. It has been published in ‘Twisted South’ and has won awards…The time period in which this occurred was just after the decade when the doctrine of separate but equal had only been struck down as law during the 1950’s. Many small towns across the south continued the separate but so-called equal practices even into the 1960’s by a kind of unspoken consent. What people called ‘forced busing’ was the government’s attempt to integrate society; but, in a majority of these small towns, people actively fought this idea. Not all of those people were white. This integration attempt was enacted for over a decade before it ended in the mid-70’s. Toney had written a story, in an online group, in which he stated that he hated white people. He was the same age I was (when my history happened) when he was watching old TV footage from the 60’s where whites across the south were aiming fire hoses (and guns) at peaceful demonstrators. He then felt hatred for white people. He does not feel the same way now but he saw on TV what I saw in life and it affected him with anger as well as me. He brought back to mind this bit of personal history. Toney and I became friends. Look for him. He will be a big name one day! Toney…wherever you are…this is for you.) It was 1969 in a small north Texas town about midday. It was summer and I would be starting second grade. Da was a roughneck on the oil rigs and we moved like gypsies from one small farm town to another. I was going to a new school and a new town. As we pulled into town I saw it was the biggest town I had ever been in! IT HAD A REAL ZOO! It was hot and the windows were rolled down on the van. My mother was full of baby and my little sister and I looked with big eyes on a kind of town we had never seen. The two year old twins were sitting behind us. As we passed a large park I was excited….A SWIMMING POOL! We never lived anywhere with a real swimming pool! Not only that there were TWO swimming pools! This must be a rich town to have two of them! One of them was white and one was blue. One looked older and empty and one was full with people in it. “Why are there two pools daddy?” I asked the back of his, then, still black haired head as he was driving, “Shut up.”, he said quietly. Mom gave him a strange look and they said no more. My sister and I looked at each other and we shut up. When daddy said “shut up” that way we knew he meant it. We pulled up a street and came to our new house. It was the most beautiful house I had ever seen! We had always lived on dirt roads with cows and wheat fields and vetch purple and far as a child’s eye can see and old farmers who let us eat raw honey and chew the combs. This was a cement road! No red dirt anywhere like back in Oklahoma! The back yard had trees in it with pink faerie flowers that were so fragrant and looked like pink powder puffs. The grass was so very green. We were surrounded by loveliness and daddy was proud he was making more money now for us to live like this! Old ladies came from their houses clucking over mom’s ‘condition’ and the young wives brought cookies and things they made. Good things. It was a clean, well ordered German town. Mom said Protestant. One of the ladies asked her to come to the church in town. Mom looked around like she was looking for a door but then turned and said to the woman, “No thank you we are Catholic.”, Most of the women found reasons to leave quickly but two women stayed. They were Catholic too! They were Italian and we were Irish but it was no difference. All of them began to laugh. All of them were pregnant. All of them had more children than was fashionable for the late sixties…not all of them lived. We were enrolled in school. Word was out that we were Catholics. The most miserable years of my entire life were spent there. Kelvin Underhill beat me up after school every day. (Years later I found out he was put in prison for murder and I was not surprised. ) That year forced busing was made law in that town. I did not know what forced busing was but the whole neighborhood and the whole town was up in arms. Our neighbors whispered to each other and to my mother and after that we had to stand together when the ‘Black Panthers’ came to town! The men were getting out their guns and oiling them and daddy made new bullets in the garage. We had to be ready to fight them. I asked my daddy why cats from a jungle were coming to town. I had seen the zoo. I knew panthers were dangerous cats but how did they know which town to come to? He said they were dangerous men and they were ‘sub-ver-sives’. My Mother looked at him oddly. Later that night I was afraid and she said that all the people were all silly. She said I should always remember that this town was full of silly people. She said there were no panthers coming here and that stupid men were making up reasons to do bad in this world. Then she sang me to sleep. We went to class the next day. In those days you stayed in one classroom with one teacher all day. Our teacher was Miz Baxter. We were all seated when a new girl came in and stood in front of the class and she looked scared to death. The teacher did not look at her. I did look at her. She was slender and wore a pastel plaid dress with ruffles and a full skirt. It was starched! It was not the kind of dress you can buy in a store! Somebody made that dress! It was pink and pale blue and pale yellow and threads of white shot through it. I could not help but stare at her like everyone else… I had never seen a black person before. Her eyes were big and golden and you could see the tears just about to fall from them but her face had no emotion. Miz Baxter did not look at her. The girl stood there helplessly not knowing where to go, where to sit, and all of us stared. I had never seen hair like hers before! It was perfect! It was amazing! Each line tracing her head was like a thread of black lace in a perfect row. Each black line met in the back and each time she looked at the teacher, speechlessly, for help of any kind I could see the little tiny bows that matched the colours in her dress. Each line of ‘lace’ ended at her shoulders in perfect little bows. One of my classmates snickered in his hand, probably Kelvin, and said “Cornrow Braids!”, like it was something bad. Some of the other kids laughed with him. The girl was frozen in front of us. I was mesmerized by those braids. They were exotic and unusual and I thought very pretty but what did I know? I was an ignorant Irish Catholic farm kid. Her skin fascinated me. It was like the taffy on the apples at Halloween. I wanted to touch it and see if it was real. I raised my hand, “Miz Baxter?” I almost whispered, “There is a new girl…”, Miz Baxter glared at me and roughly motioned the girl to the only empty seat in the middle of the room. It was catty-corner to my own seat, to the left, in front of me. There were rules in the class. Anything you wanted to say or do you had to raise your hand. Miz Baxter did not like me at ALL! But she would call on me when I raised my hand but this new girl, each time she raised her hand Miz Baxter ignored her. Miz Baxter called role and when she got to the new girls’ name she skipped it. I never knew the girl’s name. The other kids seemed to know what going on to some childish degree. They knew about the busing and what it meant. They knew about the fact that there were black people who lived on one side of the town. I did not know anything. I was ignorant and they laughed at me too when I said, “Miz Baxter, the new girl has her hand up.”, Miz Baxter ignored me. All I could see was the back of the girl’s head and shoulders and they shook ever so slightly and with horror I saw a thin stream of yellow fall from the chair she sat in and roll down the white tiled isle of the floor. The girl had too much respect for authority to get up and leave without permission and too much fear to say a word! I was filled with an unspeakable rage. I think I never hated anyone as much as I hated that teacher. I am not sure what happened the rest of the day. I know the girl left and never came back to our class. The next day the school was abuzz with stories of how the principal locked himself in his office while members of someone’s family threatened, with hatchets, to break down the door and how the police came and arrested them. I heard how the fire trucks came and the police as young students fought each other at the high school…but all of this was distant to me as I recalled then and recall today… … the child with the golden eyes and the cornrow braids. After the incident with the golden eyed girl the whole school had to undergo some kind of government thing. I did not understand it but a part of it was Miz Angela. The school was forced to hire her and she was black. And she turned out to be their very best teacher for that reason and because the kids said she did Voudon. I was lucky to have her. She was the only good thing about that school. When Kelvin blew spit-wads at me she made him eat them and swallow them. He hated her. He called her ‘nigger-bitch’ behind her back. Her class was interesting. Whenever kids talked while she was trying to teach she would throw hollowed out orange rinds at their heads. She had glued them together with rubber cement and her aim was perfect!!! On her desk was a jar full of chewed gum and any child who dared to chew gum in her class had to spit theirs into the jar and take another person’s piece and chew it instead. The idea was so disgusting that no child ever tried her to see if she would do it. She did everything she said she would do….why not that? Everyone was always eyeing that jar of gum. I hated recess. That was the time that people hurt me. It began the first day of school when they chose sides for soccer and chose me. I was a marvel with that soccer ball and one side was laughing and one side was cheering! When it was all over Miz Angela took me aside and asked me if I knew right and left. I had made a goal for the wrong team! The kids were laughing at me and pointing at me and I started to cry. For some reason I could not stop crying then and as the laughter died the kids looked at me like they were scared as I cried for the next three hours. Miz. Baxter was gone now and Miz Angela was there, but something in me had changed and I could not explain it. After that day at class Kelvin and some of the other boys stopped me on my way home. They pushed me off the bike and knocked me to the ground. Kelvin ripped pages from my books and threw them to the wind. Then he hit me. He gave me a bloody nose as I got up from the ground. This went on every day for the whole time I was in that school. No one ever tried to stop him. I stopped talking, smiling, trying, or doing anything but living in books. I lived in books and I read more than any other child and at a higher level than even some of the teachers there. It soon became clear to everyone that I was not going to communicate, answer questions, or in any way acknowledge that anyone near me was real. At recess Miz Angela would give me a worried look and let me go my own way as I walked to the chain link fence that bordered the farthest side of the playground from where the other children played and I made them all disappear before my eyes and I was the only one there. She sat on the playground…far away from the other children laughing and playing. They did not belong to her world. They were hard and cruel to new people. The grass was green and soft. The trees were friendly. The birds sang drops of sunlight and under the trees were feathers. The children disappeared. A whole different world came into being. I was alone in that world. Fearies no one could see sat high in the trees. Gnomes came from the heart of tree trunks and pointed to the feathers on the ground. Blue and white banded ones…soft grey ones…red tipped ones…No one came into my private world. With hands full of feathers I began to dance and smile under the trees by the fence. Music was everywhere! I whirled as fast as I could and fell, dizzy, in the grass alone. Time was eternal here. There was no playground. No cruel people. There was only one joyful child smiling and dancing with the unseen universe. Sometimes a tall bird-man would come to see me. He was beautiful. He chirped and he talked with his mind. “if you want the birds to come to you make this sound.”  The tall bird man chirped and asked me to repeat it. he smiled at me and taught me how to catch birds and how to talk to the wind. He was my best friend in the Evil Town. I never could understand why one of my great grand-daughters chose her human part over her celestial one. She had so much potential to be great but it was somehow locked inside of her. I had tried every means I could, including violence, to get her to unleash what she could be but she continued to choose to be human. She never seemed to understand that she would never belong to the human world. Sometimes I know she could see me looking out of her fathers eyes. She would see herself. She would not understand why she would never have a real husband or a real human child. She was already promised in My world. Why did she stubbornly keep choosing to be human? Maybe if I showed her how powerful she could be…? Miz Angela raised her hand to her eyes to blot out the sun and looked at the little blond girl in the corner of the play-ground all alone. She worried for that strange child…she would be devoured by these country red-neck kids…she let her dance by herself. She hoped none of the other kids noticed. Sometimes they did and she would end up with a little girl hiding under a desk…hugging her knees…jeered at by everyone because they could not understand. The bell rang. With a sigh Miz Angela went and took the child by the hand. The little girl let her lead her back into the other world where the mean people were. She looked at the child’s now stone faced stiff bodied walk. She led her gently into the school. I collected the bird feathers that fell on the ground and they were lovely cardinal and blue-jay feathers. I hid them under my shirt so Kelvin would not get them after school. Into the world I had created would come Miz Angela and she would take me by the hand and lead me inside like a doll. I never heard the bell ring that said we should come in…nor did I realize we were on a playground. I had left reality behind. As the days passed even the speech around me became unintelligible. I could not understand the maths. Sometimes I would cry for hours until the pool of tears on my desk was big enough to begin to roll off of it and fall onto the floor. My parents decided that school was not good for me and took me out of it. In the town wherein lived the girl with the golden eyes I found a spirit of evil that was like no other I have ever experienced; as young as I was, I could feel it breathing through everyone and everything around me. It was a rich town and there I got dance lessons and piano lessons and my first REAL, (not a piece of junk), guitar. That was a very very pretty town, but underneath the southern charm was an ugly spirit. I was riding my bicycle past an abandoned gas station on my way to the zoo one day and a man sat there in the sun. He looked strange and unreal. Being still fearless I pedaled up to him and asked him if he was OK? In the map less town this would be the proper thing to do. He looked very odd. There was something inhuman in his eyes. He said, “I have puppies and kittens inside…would you like to see them?”, My thought was that I should rescue those puppies and kittens from this man. I said, “Yes I should like to see them!” I followed him in and the place was big and high and windows at the tops of solid walls and garage doors unopened in many years. Inside a bird flew around the windows banging itself into them and hurting itself. I said to the man, “We should open the doors and let the bird out.” He seemed not to hear me and he said, “Come here and see” I went to see and also to make him open the garage doors. He stood in front of a small room. I said, “Well if you want me to see you will have to step aside.” He moved away and I went in but there was nothing there. I turned to tell him there was nothing there and he had vanished as if he never existed! The poor bird was still caroming around the place but the doors were locked and I could not let it out. I ran from there then like the wind and pedaled my bike home and told me Da about the man. We all got in the car and looked for him but I said to them they would not find him because he vanished into thin air. We got out and dad tried the doors. They had rusty locks on them. Locks that had not been opened for many years; then I knew, inside were the dusty bones of a long dead bird. There was a small Catholic School my parents put me in after taking me out of the public one there. I was already so messed up but mama was trying hard. They had uniforms. I hated them. They were itchy and gave me a rash. The tartan skirts were too short and the woolen socks, along with my orthopedic shoes, gave me blisters. They put me in a class for ‘Special Kids’. (I often forgot when class was over and left in the middle of it. Great gaps of time are missing from my memories from this town….) I did not care. It was like going back to kindergarten. The teacher was a ‘modern’ nun and she did NOT like me but she had to behave. She said I was uncooperative. She gave me a blue green crayon and let me draw and left me alone except to give me dirty looks from time to time if I ignored a classmate who tried to talk to me. I was in third grade and I had already learned to hate other human beings with a hatred that was almost palpable! People were evil. As we learned catechism and the Bible I figured out that since God made people and people were evil (except for my mom and Miz Angela) God must be evil too! Mom had taught me to say, “God forgive you.” every time Kelvin Underhill hit me. At first I did but all forgiveness got me was more slaps and blows and ridicule. I learned early that hate had more value than forgiveness. Silence was my friend…as I learned to hide from the world I slowly became ‘two of me’….one me was the little girl princess but I had nailed her in a coffin and I WAS HERE NOW! I told people to stop calling me Shannon and start calling me my first name because I read it meant ‘bitter’ and I was as bitter as a sacred mushroom. (I did not become ‘Shannon’ again until I met Nadeem.) At one point I became so ‘divourced’ from reality it was not uncommon for me to put my chair on top of my desk, upside down, as was the custom, and leave thinking class was over right in the middle of class and if they did not notice I left they found me outside crying…thinking I had missed the bus. Soon Da took us out of that school cause someone there was abusing my little brother and he was having odd seizures. I was happy to be out of school and they said it did not matter cause we were moving again soon. The time came to take first communion and repudiate Satan. I refused. The way I saw it…If God was bad and humans were bad then whoever they did not like must be good and so I was not gonna say anything against whoever that was. My parents were HORRIFIED! They would be humiliated if one of their children did not become a full fledged Catholic! I did not want to be! KELVIN was Catholic and I was NOT going to be anything HE was! He was the first to teach me hate outside of the family. Deep unrelenting unexpressed hatred. Mom cried and begged and pleaded and Da said he would whip me and I said “Go ahead!” Finally I told mom I would do First Communion if I could have a MALE patron saint….…WELL! After going through the archbishop at the archdiocese they agreed that I could have a male patron saint so I chose St. Francis of Assisi because he loved animals and animals were better than people as far as I was concerned! They told me when I took First Communion the priest (back then the priests did not face the people during mass) would simply refrain from saying WHICH St. Francis I chose and I said, “I want it RECORDED that it is Assisi! I do not care WHAT the priest says!” (I was waaaay too smart for a 10 going on 11 year old kid!) So I did the whole thing…said that I repudiate Satan and all his acts and took the Catholic vow and did the Apostles Creed all by heart and went up to the railing and knelt and took the dry little wafer in my mouth and it melted and I was thinking it did not taste much like my skin and I took a sip of the wine (yes they used REAL wine then!) and I was thinking it did not taste coppery like the blood I sucked out of wounds I got to keep them from festering when I hurt myself…I liked the taste of blood…the first time Kelvin hit me and it ran into my mouth from my nose.Then I decided to start reading about medieval torture methods used on the saints and on witches…heavy reading for a kid. As the ceremony ended I thought of the last time I was ever innocent in the Mapless Farm-town. In The Evil Town there was a time things bothered be very badly. I had become aware of evil and injustice in a very acute way that made life almost unlivable. Everything down to the tiniest bit of left over food took on immense importance. It was a sin to waste. It was a sin to speak badly. It was a sin to THINK badly. It was a sin It was a sin it was a sin. I, at 8 or 9 years old, lived in constant and unrelenting fear of every move and every thought. When my Gramma left out books by horror fiction writers I would read them and be completely disgusted that someone hung a man up on meat hooks in cold storage and let him die…and even more terrified that God would slay me from above for touching the book! Gramma let me see movies like, “The Devil’s Daughter” and I was scared for weeks afterwards that I would grow up and marry the devil! I knew too much! Much too much! Sara was finally born. Sara and Susan would grow up to be the beloved stars of the family. I was only that once in that little farm-town and that child was almost gone now. Marla was the one who was going to die now. Da would hold her sometimes and his only son, Sean, who we called Beato. Beato stuttered and crawled backwards. He ended up an IT expert…but then that becomes his story. For some reason we were all screwed up already. People said Marla was retarded and would not live. Later one of her teachers discovered she could add numbers, as if she was a human calculator, in her head. I have said that if you put her brain and my brain together you would have a complete genius. Not only did Marla LIVE she went on to be tapped, when she was young, to compete in Miss Olympia…but that becomes her story and not mine. Susan was a social star from the word ‘one’ and would always be that way all her life…but then that becomes her story. These days were the days that we slowly began to draw apart from each other as I tried to enter the world of popular and golden people only to be violently and cruelly rejected by people who could not understand why I could not understand. My world slowly withdrew to the written word. I once asked my mother, during this time, “Mom, am I a real part of this family?” “Yes you are dear you are the first-born and you are very special to me.” “Was I born a boy and then made into a girl?” “Noooo!!!!” She laughed and brushed my forehead with her lovely, slender hand, “You were born a girl you are just a little DIFFERENT is all…” “Is Da my real dad?” “Please please let me tell her human woman! Let me tell her who, and what, she is!” “Yes Da is your real father now go play and no more foolishness!” The Charismatic Circle One day mom was invited by a woman friend to go and join a ‘Charismatic Prayer Circle’ and mom took me with her. I was the only child there. about 30 ladies were in this room together at the Catholic Church and they all stood in a circle and help hands and started to sway back and forth and sing: “And when ye go PREACH Saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the blind, cast out devils, Freely ye have received, Freely GIVE!” The ladies would sing this over and over again and then after about an hour of swaying and singing some of the ladies would ‘fall-out’ and have ‘fits’ and be ‘filled with the holy spirit’ and I was BORED OUT OF MY MIND! One day, Mom took me there and they let me in the circle and each lady grabbed a hand and sort of swung me back and forth in the circle, (which was fun) and then started singing one of their songs and I got sooooooo bored and sooooooo sleeping from swaying that I fell asleep right in the middle of two ladies holding my hands! One of the ladies then fell out and began to speak gibberish. I must have been really tired because I never knew I fell on the ground with her. When they woke me up later they were all staring at me like I was a huge weirdo. They were whispering to my mom. Mom came over with a glowing face and said I was chosen! She said I had been filled with the Holy Spirit! I was soooooo disgusted with those ladies! That was no spirit they had just bored me to a deep sleep! Kelvin was at school every day. I was always listening for the sound of his voice and always on ‘high alert’. I did not want to go to school. Every day was a bloody nose or a book, torn to pieces, that my parents could not afford to buy. It was kids ringing around me and Kelvin Underhill sing-songing “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” It was him pushing me on the ground while I cried and he and others spit on me. I was thinking hell and devil did not sound so bad. I thought maybe if Satan made me a demon I could kill Kelvin. “I am not going to school!” I was lying in bed and it was the Evil Town where Catholics were “baby-killers and drank blood” according to many of the locals. Dad came by and turned the over head lights on and yelled in his strong tenor, “RISE AND SHINE CHILD ‘O MINE!” and then said to mom, “Quit catering to her she has to get tough!” …and then, blessedly, he was off to work. Moms long long brown hair tickled my fourth grade neck as I hid my head under my pillow and stopped talking. Susan got up and slid out of the fancy French Provencal beds we had now and went to the closet. Always obedient and always with many friends. Mom physically lifted me off the bed and set me on the floor and down I sat. She sighed. “The bus is coming you will have to walk if you are late.” “I am NOT going!” ” Honey……” “I am NOT going he will HURT me!” “OK try this. Be like a good Catholic and went he hurts you try not to cry and tell him you love him and forgive him.” I looked up at her. Would it work? Could love and forgiveness make this brutal animal peer of mine turn into a Human? Sullenly I got up and went to the closet. “OK I will try it.” There was no time for breakfast as the bus came and we boarded. Some kids called out to Susan and she went to sit with them. She acted like we were not related. The yellow bus stopped at Kelvin’s house. He got on and sat next to me in the back and spit on my dress and smiled. “I love you Kelvin and I forgive you.” Pure horrible rage filled his eyes and he yanked one long blond braid so hard my neck hurt for the next three days. “FUCK YOU!” He hissed.” “I love you Kelvin and I forgive you.” “He punched me then. The more I said it the worse he became until I cried all day and could not turn my head one direction and they called my mom to the nurses office. She took me home. Later that day Da said, “Let me teach her how to FIGHT!” Mom was horrified. “NO!” Da shrugged and went back to his glass of scotch and the TV. Kelvin did not understand love or forgiveness and I kept on telling him that ’til the numbness of abuse set in as he had two friends hold my arms so he could make me watch while he poured gasoline on a cats tail and held the cat til the cat was screaming in pain and I was crying and saying, “I Love you and I forgive you…” …but the words meant nothing to me anymore… …20 years later I would find out he shot himself after killing the man who married the girl who left him because he was abusive. He shot her too but she survived. Scotch On The Rocks There came a time when Da changed even MORE. He was two different people. One of him could sing opera and live off the land and say the whole mass in Latin and the other him was evil and cruel and delighted in having absolute control over weaker things or destroying them. The reason he was two different men: Scotch. Now Da was a big man after a while and when he was only 30 he already had five kids one after another and no real frame of reference on how to be a real father. All he knew was very simple; make your mother cry and I will beat you. Trouble was mom would cry even more and that would make him even madder and … …well… …as he got richer he drank more and he said it was his reward to himself for having such a hard life. One minute he could take in a stray dog and feed it and make sure it got a home and the next minute he could take a stray cat by one hind leg and sling it around his head laughing and let it go sailing out into the middle of the street limping from a dislocated leg…(which I re-set even though I got scratched.) By the time I was 10 or so Da weighed in on the cattle scales at almost 500 pounds. At 6 feet 5 inches he was amazing looking. By the time I was 10 or so Da was drinking a half a gallon of scotch every other night and did so for the next fifteen years. He was still functional. When we went out to the rigs he would balance a ‘scotch-on-the-rocks on his vast belly. By this time he was the boss. He would drink as I poured him another one as we sailed down country roads and God help me if I spilled a drop. Until the day he died he had a perfect driving record. Even his bones were big. When he was x-rayed for a possible broken rib it took TWO films to get his whole rib-cage! At home…when Da came home after work….it was the job of every child there you could pour a drink to keep a steady supply of scotch on the rocks in his hand….when we failed to do so he would thunder, “I work my ass off all day and come home and all I want is some respect…dammit…get me another drink!!!” Sometimes he would get in a mood and if we had done nothing wrong to warrant a beating he would take a gun out on the porch and shoot birds. He taught all of us to shoot and he was an expert marksman. Most of the time we had to stay around him as he drooled over the cuties in their short shorts on ‘Hee Haw’ and ‘Laugh In’ and ‘Benny Hill’ etcetera-ad-nauseum over the years. Mom stayed with him even when he beat her head on the van for crying too much. I learned from him and from the media and from feminists at school that motherhood was for those who were not smart enough or pretty enough to do something more important. I knew one thing: I did not want to be as miserable as either one of them…..I wanted to be a beauty queen..important…special….and I would do it one way or another whatever it took…bad attention was just as valuable as good attention…either way I was getting mine. (I was 16 before Da stopped with the beatings.) We were on the front porch and cruel blue fire looked into cruel blue fire as we was into each other’s souls the reality of how alike we were….and I hated him…and I hated myself for being like him and while I had hit him many times before this time when I hit him it hurt…instead of laughing he looked surprised…and then sad…he said, “You would hit your da?” I said, “Yes I will, and I will do it every time you hit me.” He said, “You are too big to discipline now.” And he went inside and shut the door and left me on the porch amazed. I knew my great grand-daughter had seen me in her father’s eyes. I always tried to challenge her but she was walled away like a diamond under more than a mile or two of granite. I knew she had seen me and seen herself and when she did she changed something to her benefit but still could not understand. I had made so many mistakes to try to reach her, or let other ‘spirits’ reach her but she was un-reachable in this state. I kept trying so that she could one day join us, her real family where she really belonged, and finally be happy. Things fascinated and repelled me both at once and no one knew as I watched Gramma cough and smoke herself to death with her husband and yet loved the smell of the smoke…I KNEW things. I knew things no child should know and I still do not know how I knew them all…some I read and some are a question mark. That year, because I was so uncommunicative and never smiled and cried several hours out of every day, in front of the whole world, at school they had me tested to see if I was maybe retarded. They were astonished when I tested out at 142 IQ. Then came the question: “What is wrong with her?” “Your child needs to see a psychologist.” “No! There is NOTHING wrong with her and you, ma’am, are wrong also and my daughter needs to stop pretending and lying and…” His words faded into a blur. While they argued in the white office I looked out the window and left the room. Sometime we went home and later that day I dropped a glass on the back patio of that big fancy house we now had like rich people! It shattered and glass went everywhere and I felt like mom looked when she caught me playing with mercury from a broken thermometer two years before. She had explained about keeping the earth clean and being responsible with batteries and about mercury is poisonous and I was worried that I broke a glass and that it would cut the grass open and the grass would bleed green and people would walk on it barefoot and cut themselves so I stood guard over that spot and did not move and warned everyone away so they would not get hurt. Da laughed at me.That same day after the coaxed me in with a new book by Michener the other Gramma came (the one that always made mom cry after she left). She looked at me and said I had the ‘Family Skin’… …I asked her what that meant and she took me to the mirror and showed me the blackheads on my nose. she said, “You will be too early” I knew what she meant I knew everything….I ran back outside and looked at the sky and shook my fist and yelled up, “I DID NOT EAT THAT APPLE!!!!” Gramma #2 looked at me like I was a crazy person….Da shook his head and said, “She just wants attention. Ignore her.” In the Evil Town my sister and I shared a room. We had pretty furniture now and our own phone extension. We were richer than ever before but Da was drinking a lot of those riches down. The razor strap travelled with us and still hung in the bathroom. It was a source of constant fear. I was reading so much that the librarian just let me take any books I wanted without trying to talk to me because they knew I would say nothing back. They also knew I would come back with the books and get more books. Often, one of the women behind the counter would raise her eyebrows at my choices. She once asked me if I could understand what I was reading. I could but why did she need to know? They let me come and go at will. I got a book on Transcendental Meditation. I studied it to the best of my ability and decided to create a focal point in my room. I hung a black ball from the ceiling and it swung at eye level as I sat cross-legged on my bed. I stared at it with my entire concentration to no avail. Just as I was going to give up there came a time that something happened. I was going to try to reach her if I could. The sun was high in the sky and so many years had passed in her life like hours pass in ours. She could have joined us then but I think she had met my first wife, in a dream, who will never forgive me… The back of my head began to buzz and I felt my body slump and I was out of me looking down at me on the bed sprawled out in a wild tangle as if I had struggled with something. Then I was no longer ‘there’ and all around me was black but it was not black. It was falling rapidly yet it was not falling. There was a wall around me and yet it was not a wall. There was a voice that was not a voice that whispered a command, “Go through the wall.” I was more frightened than I had ever been before in my life. I put out my pinky finger that was not my pinky and put the unreal tip of it into the unreal wall…..FEAR! There is no fear like this on this earth! I knew if I went through that wall I would know EVERYTHING in the world. The price of that knowledge would be FEAR. I would have all knowledge! I knew one more thing. That my family would find a dead body on the bed when they found me if I did go! I screamed without sound, “GOD! GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!!!!” I sat up on my bed badly shaken. Over the next few years THAT thing would reach out and try to take me, paralyze me, but I always fought it off. It eventually left. It would not be until 2003 that it would come and try to take me again.This is the Irony: Today I live with death always. Everyone does but most are not forced to confront it in the way that a minority like myself are forced to do unless they live in a nation torn by war. I live everyday in a kind of shadow of the fear I sought to escape…and I KNOW that no matter what I do… …Knowledge is going to COME! We packed up to move again. I no longer cared about this as I had made the promise to myself to never make such close friends that it hurt to lose them. The ugly men in the yellow truck I now knew were from the ‘Mayflower’ company and they were hired to move Otis employees from town to town. Our little gyspie caravan was now seven people and we traveled in a blue Volkswagen van. We headed north on highway 40 going towards our next destination. The Ranch Town This time Da also had a sedan, provided by the company, that he and I traveled in while mom drove the van, with my younger siblings in it, behind him. The yellow truck and the sedan had devices that had just become popular called ‘CB Radios’ and Otis provided some of the first ones on the market, to it’s employees. I watched Da as we sailed down the highway, behind mom and the Mayflower movers, lift the radio mike to his lips and intone, “Breaker 1-9…Breaker 1-9” A disembodied voice came from a car somewhere ahead of us on the high-way saying, “Come on!” “Where are you? I am at mile marker 119 and I have a crotch rocket just ahead of me…Any county Mounties up ahead?” “10-4 good buddy you got a smokey-the-bear ’bout 10 mile up” “10-4 good buddy I got your back door, see if we can get a few bull-dog for a convoy 10-5” Da was asking everyone with a CB to give him information about police on the interstate ahead of us and asking if the truckers on the road with us would make a convoy. It was harder for state troopers to pull over 20 speeding vehicles than it was one. Whoever had the ‘backdoor’ was most at risk for a ticket and we were in the last of our little caravan. Today you don’t call people ‘good buddy’ anymore because it means ‘homosexual’ but back then it just meant, ‘nice fellow driver’. “I got my little girl with me good buddy I am going to let her ratchet jaw.” Da smiled at me really big and handed me the mike and I was amazed and giggled. I put my lips up to the mike and keyed the side like Da did and laughed, “Breaker 1-9 breaker 1-9…” I forgot to take my finger off the key and Da laughed. “You can’t hear them unless you release the key. Now make up a ‘handle’ for yourself! “AWWWWWWW!!!!!!!! A HANDLE!!!!! My Da’s handle was ‘Papa bear!” I un-keyed the mike and some truckers were saying ‘hi’ back to me! I said, “Come back?” A trucker from somewhere ahead said, “You got your ears on?” “Yeah I got my ears on!” “What’s your handle?” I thought about it for a second and I said, “I am the Oil Gypsie 10-4!” “That your gal Papa bear?” Da took the mike back from me and said,”Yeah that’s my gal…” Da knew how to speak ‘CB’ like a pro. We sped forwards in time to our next destination and I smiled at him and listened to the CB chatter as the cold AC blew in my face and we headed into desert country To our new home in the Ranch Town! It had been two years since I had any friends or talked much to anyone… The Evil Town I had lived in before had hardened me to the point of diamond and as one teacher said, when Mary told her we were moving and leaving that town, “Why! That is the first time I have seen her smile!!!!”, There were other problems with religion and family that caused me to retreat to a place where English sounded like a foreign language and no one could touch me… …but that was gone now with the arid land on which I hiked and I made oil patch friends….other gypsie kids like me…Tamara: who told guys she lost her virginity to a tampon, Evette: who had blond hair and black eyes and would kick any guys ass who even tried to touch her, and Kathleen; who owned a motorbike. The desert was a clean wide place….and people in our position in life got hard young. But Da was moving up and we were richer now and our bellies were fuller and our house was bigger and he could drink as much as he liked. Where we lived now everything came from the northwest and the winds I played with and loved so much came from there as well…. We were all about 10 or 11 years old. School was starting and this town was full of ranchers and oil gypsies. That day I got on the bus and went to school in the new town for the first time. On the playground that day I began to do what I had been doing for a few years now: playing with the wind. The Evil Town had warped my thinking in ways that stay with me to this day and I am one who will go her own way no matter what others think….I did not care if anyone saw me play with who had been the only good friend I had for the two years previous…and a faithful friend too! People stared as I began to twirl and dance and the winds came to play… …and did they play!!!!!! The sky over head became red like blood and the sun shown like blood as in the ‘Book of Revelations’ on the last days, (so said the teachers who saw this), and soon a wild dirt storm raged across the countryside and it was beautiful to me!!!! But it was not so beautiful to those who were onlookers and it was not beautiful to my mother who stuffed towels and newspapers under windows and doors to no avail…red dirt was everywhere!!!!! All of the kids getting on the school buses looked like short slender bandits and even the cloth we wore over our faces did not keep out the taste of raw iron. Adventure ran fierce as the wild winds that blew through my veins and keen amazement shot through me at the power of nature and the beauty of that power…(..I even knew the wind’s name…a name that I have told very very few even now…it is a sacred name and it is only to be used with love and respect). A yellow school bus pulled up from another school and the students who got off of it carried band cases with music in them and they ran like the wind into the auditorium….among them was a fellow with long blond hair and black eyes…he must have been twelve, carrying a saxophone case…our eyes met through the maelstrom of flying iron and for a split second I recognized myself and then he was gone….I would meet him again a few years later in another place and another town. He would be my friend, lover, husband, and then friend again for many years but that was not yet to be… (…he would be my friend until I was almost 50 years old and he found out I had become Muslim.) A few days later Mary went out to the mail box and got a letter…she opened it and looked concerned…she gave it to da and his face looked like a thundercloud, “Hillbilly Idiots!,” he said with disgust. For some reason when the bus came the next day they said I did not have to go. They left me in charge of the younger kids and the house and they went to the school. They came back and the next day I went to school. It was kind of strange to be treated the way I was….shunned and left alone except for the girls I mentioned above. When I got home I asked Mary what was wrong. She said, “they signed a petition against you….over one hundred people…” I said, “Why?” She did not want to answer but she had to…I knew about Carlos and all her hopes and dreams she never had cause she married my Da…I knew her whole life story already and everything she had taught me including that American writing was incorrect and how to do it like they did it in British Columbia…( As time went on I would morph both styles together even later than that I added some of my own spelling techniques that made English teachers insane. These were deliberate.) She looked at the white wall as if that would give her an escape from the answer and then she sighed, “They say you are a witch. Even some of the teachers asked that you be removed from the school. We threatened to sue them. It is over. Your father does not want a big deal made of this. Forget I told you.” …..A witch….obviously people were afraid of them….this was something I would need to look into! Bleeding I was at church camp when I bled the first time. I was 11 years old. My chest hurt while it grew and I couldn’t lay on my stomach anymore. Susan could still do gymnastics all the time and I had to wait to stop bleeding part of every month now and no one really taught me anything about being a woman except what I learned from books. I did not even know women shaved their legs until the girls in P.E. made fun of my hairy legs! At church camp we were sleeping in the bunks and I used to try to not pee until all the other kids had left the cottage because I did not want them to know I had to do that. That made me late for breakfast and I had to eat too fast. That was when Scott fell in love with me. We would sneak away and walk around the edge of the lake. He was very shy and so was I and when we tried to hold hands I could feel his pulse jumping in his thumb and it tickled my hand. I was not ready to be a woman yet. I wanted to stay young like my sister Susan. She was so lucky she was over 16 before that happened to her and I was at church camp with no sanitary napkins and not wanting anyone to know anything. I was stuck there the whole week and there was nothing I could do. I dreaded telling mom! She was already buying me training bras! I duck walked everywhere holding it in until I could run to a toilet and let it all out. That was not always possible. Sometimes I stayed in the water and washed up by swimming in the lake over and over. Sometimes I played sick and washed my underwear in the sink in the cottage and somehow managed to escape notice. During this time I began to wear two or three pairs of underwear, all at once, to try to help soak up the mess. When I came home from church camp I told mom. “…I think I am a woman now.” She was silent. “I need help and please don’t tell everyone!” She looked at me strangely and we got in the van and she bought me my first box of Kotex. She just seemed extremely embarrassed for the first few times, if I needed any help she would give me money and drive me to the store and wait for me to come out. I was always horrified to take that box of Kotex to the check out counter! Mom, by then, was too busy to tell anyone and I realized I had been afraid for nothing. I HATED being female. I hated what I had become! For one week out of every month I was almost paralyzed with terror to be around any people. I was terrified they would know, or smell. blood! Tamara was my friend in the Ranch Town and she was ‘early’ like me and we became friends. She had an older brother who called her ‘tadpole’ and she called him ‘Frog’. When I spent the night at her house we would pretend to get drunk on a carton of milk. We would pretend it was a bottle of Scotch and take big swigs off of it while walking around the block. I had a big red-wood guitar and a case I could carry it in across the desert terrain that was my new home. I would take that red git-fiddle with the steel strings out to the dry, red clay canyon beds and sit on the edge and play and sing, “Hang down your head Tom Dooooly!” “Hang down your head and cry…. Hang down you head Tom Dooley Ol’ boy your bound to die… Oh I Know tomorrow… I reckon where I’ll be Down in that lonesome valley Hangin’ from that White Oak tree Well well well…. Hang dowwwn your head and cry! Hang down your head and cry… Hang down youuuuur head and cry Ol’ boy your bound to die!” Then I would walk over to Tamara’s and her brother would say, “Come here?” “Why?” “Because” “No. Why are you hiding behind the bed?” “Because” Tamara would walk in, “Leave her alone Frog!” We would laugh and take a carton of milk out even if it was freezing in December. One of the school bus drivers was a blond, wide-faced pedophile and every time he took us to a school event he tried to ‘feel me up’. One day we went to a football game where the high-schoolers were playing. He followed me and cornered me under the bleachers. He kept trying to get me to come to him and I wouldn’t. He got mad. Suddenly Tamara and Kathleen came around the corner and that pedophile left quickly like the coward he was! The Tarantula Army In was the mid 1970’s in the late summer and a storm was building off to the west. Way out in the NW end of the state and it was all desert. It had its own kind of rough and wild beauty but not an easy place to live. The town we landed in was very small and mostly scattered ranchers. Times were when red dust storms would get up and blow dirt so think it hid the sun and a red gloom cast over everything and we wore bandannas to school like the cowboys of old who rode through this when it was Indian territory. Da and I were driving back from a well site as the sun sank over the western rim of the horizon just peeking under towering storm clouds that cast an eerie half-light over the two lane blacktop highway…a sort of green light. There was no wind it was deadly quiet and the only sound was the smooth engine as the Chrysler sedan provided by the Oil company, complete with its own telephone and CB, moved quietly over the old, well maintained blacktop…. “Gonna be a while before we get home.” Da said,”We might not make it before the storm hits.” I looked out the window to the west and the clouds did not look like they were moving…not even one bolt of lightning was coming and Da said, “I don’t like the way this looks…if we have to I will pull over and we can try to get in the lowest spot on the land we can.” I knew what he meant. I have already been through one tornado and seen several more and there were plenty on green-gray ‘pop-corn’ clouds out west of us….Lots of times Da took me with him now…I hiked overland all day with a pack and a compass while the men worked…some of them on the high platform that reminded me of the crow’s nest on a ship in pictures I had seen in books. The big black iron horses were not always near the platforms and I bet the men could see for miles up there….I could not see the signs of rain yet. The grey areas that looked like slanted rectangles that one might see out in the distance….it was coming from the direction of Black Mesa where, at the time, no one knew the federal government was storing nuclear waste there….today whole sections of the park are bare of life….and people are not allowed there but back then we hiked through radioactivity we did not know was there in salt caves under the ground. Up ahead in the lowering light was a black movement across the road…it was indistinct at first…we were still quite a ways away and it was odd to see the black top look as if it had come to life. Through the open car windows the sound of distant thunder came and on that vast landscape of flat desert the winds began to blow big, round tumble weeds across the road…. “Yep.” Da said, “The storm is gonna get us.” The dirt started to billow up in clouds where there was no grass. I did not talk much in those days. ‘Did not have much to say about anything but the closer we got to the living blacktop the more curious I was. My ears popped as the pressure outside suddenly dropped sharply. Then came that SMELL….there are no words to describe the way a storm like that smells. I will try though….it smelled wild and sandy. It was not the same smell as a rainstorm on garden earth it was more masculine…more dominating. “DA!!!!!” I gasped out, “LOOK!” It was too late we had already run over some of them but I will never forget the literal SEA of Black Tarantula Spiders that where moving in a huge army across the black top. All going the same direction at the same speed. All neat and orderly as if Roman Captains were leading them in a war charge. Da stopped the car in amazement. We idled there in dual awe as we watched a sea of huge furry spiders the size of the palm of a human hand march across the desert sand and turf. The spiders ignored us and da said, “Well we better pay attention to them. One of the lessons you should learn and follow when you are not sure what to do and out in the wilds like this,” and he backed the car carefully away from the spiders and chose a road we would not run over them as we paralleled their direction and course much faster than they could go…Da got on his phone and reported the storm to the local sheriff of the town before we made it home and the rain and wind hit us like a fist and almost blew the car off the road but Da was as calm as an ice-cube as we rolled up the windows and as I looked back west where we had been as we traveled east and the wind slanted past us a bolt of lightning made a huge tree in the sky and I saw a big round tornado for a split second in the light right where we had been…..I wondered how many spiders made it out of the way or why they were even moving when they lived in the ground until Da said, “Yep, It is gonna flood out that way really bad tonight…the spiders knew it and a good thing we took their example.” Sometimes nature can save your life if you pay attention. Just about All I know of Nature comes from Da and books. Da and I shared a great love of nature and in a cruel twist of fate have the least ability to enjoy it. My favourite place was called: Dog Run Trail When my great grand-daughter went hiking she was most free. I loved to be with her then. She was always aware that she was not alone. One of our kind, to whom she was promised, went with her every time. There is a Mountain south of me that the First People say opened to allow the last of the buffalo in to save them from extinction from the white men who were killing them off by the hundreds and letting the bodies rot. It was said that when it was safe the mountain would open once more and Buffalo would once more range the sacred land of 32 springs….Medicine springs. It is not really a mountain and it is only 2000 feet high but it offers a panouramic view of the rolling hills and desert grasslands around it. Many many times I climbed it without a trail and rock hopped back down again through prickly pear cactus that is edible and fruits red and through arroyo mesquite bushes that are good for sickness and always the small, gnarled oaks with nuts so high in tannic acid they have to be parboiled twice or more before you can eat them….but the tannin water is good for gripe but I digress…. Out there are great grey mountain rattlesnakes and often you find their shed skins in season and bees make their homes up there and you can hear them when they swarm, in great masses, from far away. A person who knows the land can go alone and I did go alone quite often years ago. If you pay very close attention you can smell and hear and see what is there before you get there. There are tracks of birds and hooves. If you see hawks circling over head you always know why. These granite rocks that jut impudently out of flat prairie are my bones and the red dirt is my blood and the wind is my friend. I love this land. When my feet touch it I do not think of nations. I think of home.Off the black top, past the prairie dog fields where mounds of rich dirt dot the land behind a fence, there is a turn off and a short dirt road that ends in a peaceful clearing with a trashcan near a painted wooden post marker that has the trail marked for the hiker. Da and I used to go there and he would go one way and I would go the other. He would go where the fishing was good and I would hike and we would agree to meet back at the marking post. I always took with me water and a compass and a short, sharp knife. I was one of the few people who was not afraid to hike in sandals and so I did because they are comfortable and tall rocks are much easier to climb barefoot and sandals are much lighter to carry. There IT was before me: Gods’ Paradise made for me….I would breath deeply of the smell of sun hot dirt at the beginning of the trail and see the Black Oaks around and hear the trickle of the stream that was just ahead where reeds grew tall and you could fish for cattail roots with your toes and the smell of rotting vegetation where beavers backed up small dams as the trail began in lush green….but the cacti around reminded one always that this was the edge of desert country. Dog Run Trail was supposed to be marked and the trail sanded every year but every year the trail would quickly wear away and you were on your own to make the four mile circle through several terrains up and down and past one small water fall so no one who hikes there looked for man made markers because those of us who KNEW…we knew BETTER…People say you should never travel wild land alone and often cite the many dangers and I suppose they may be right but in all the years I did it the worst thing that ever happened to me was sitting on a cactus while squatting to pee…and THAT hike was nearly three miles back to base after I THINK I pulled all the long spines out myself, blind of course. Never was there a time I wished I was MORE flexible then head-between-the-knees… …but once more I digress and that is another tale for another time. What can I tell you of the wild land all around? The feeling of the hot summer wind in your ears as it roars with the leaves that are too dry from lack of rain until the Fall? The way that mud squishes up around your toes and tries to pull the sandals from your feet as cold spring water like ice contrasts with the hot wind? The chills of awe that climb your body as you realize there is nothing between you and God and that God has laid out this orchestra of light and sound and colour just for you? The way that salt dries on your face as you move free and drips down to kiss your lips like a lover and the taste of the human sea within? The way the wind pushes into your arms when it blows hard from the mountain face and holds you close to It’s heart and you KNOW….YOU KNOW that earth is alive and real and laughing at you and feeding you energy from her Motherly center? The way your voice sounds when you yell and it echoes down rock valley walls? Memory crushes me now as those granite boulders crushed the land and made the terrain a xeriscape of unspeakable beauty that no human could, can or ever will match! And now it is not the salt of sweat I taste but tears from eyes that have SEEN that God is REAL. As muscle pushes legs to walk and one step more and you think you cannot and some power within takes over and you stride the hills suddenly with all of their strength and longevity. Nature makes love better than any human. That I can attest to! The red trail looses its gravel very quickly to the wind and storm and if you do not pay attention it is easy to be lost…..as the stream bed passed away I veered from the trail as was my want to do….I always found the water fall because I knew that I had to pass the small valley of Cedar to get there to the rock falls with the small cave beneath and the bright flash of a small desert stream that only flowed in season where once Johnny and I….and yet once more another story. As I hiked across granite outcrops and climbed and alternately followed random deer and buffalo trails until I was far enough afield in a plateau of tall-grass prairie That I realized I was at THE FENCE. Because it was a fence I had to go through it! The barbed wire was wide and easy to skinny through. Now I was in the NON tourist land…the wildest of all! There is a special almost sacred feeling that makes you very quiet even though you want to cry out with joy and dance as I had done on other occasions there, but never alone. When you are alone it is best to be quiet in that land. My leather sandals crunched the dry grass underfoot and made me think that this was the season for fires. Just ahead of me was a tall boulder with crevasses in it and it seemed to be perhaps 24 or 30 feet high and I thought it might be a good idea to climb it to get the lay of the land as I was now in buffalo grazing pasture. I always wore brown and green when I went and never any perfume because white attracts bees and red attracts everything and perfume attracts anything that flies and has a stinger in its tail…but even with all of these precautions I was not prepared to round the boulder and face an angry bull who suddenly noticed me instead of the herd. There is a wild smell to them…and also whiffs of scat as my sandals flew from my feet and my hands and feet found a way to climb that boulder and leave my sandals behind. The top of the boulder was flat. The bull knew I was there and circled.I began to panic. The sun was moving. There was no cell phone then they did not exist. there was no way to contact Da. He would go to the emergency phone by the prairie dog field and call the rangers…if they had to send a heli out for me how could he explain he let me go alone? I watched the sun sweating rivulets and sipping water and then laughed at myself for the fear…I was glad when the bull was distracted by something in the herd and left. I climbed down and made my way back to the fence and back to the marker….. …..late. Da asked me what had happened. I said I lost the trail but found it. It was nothing at all to me now to think of moving again. We did move again. We moved to Bohemia. Bohemia The Lost Years  She could never understand she was not meant to marry a human. That did not stop her from trying. The male of the human species was afraid of her, for some reason, down deep inside there were very few who had enough of the bloodline in them to match her. Those who had the bloodline felt, without being told, that she already belonged to someone; they just could not see who that someone was with human eyes. We left the Ranch Town and I was to meet Tamara and Kathleen again in the future as their families were also Oil Gypsies. I hated to leave that town but it did not hurt too badly. I was not so close to anyone that it killed me to have to leave them and so we packed up and moved, once more, following the yellow Mayflower truck. My mind went into ‘disassociation’ mode again, as I could will myself to do that back then. I will try to portray these years to the best of my ability. There are not many stories because I spent every second of free time in silent libraries, living in my mind, reading as I pleased…Most of the things I was interested in dealt with the ideas of war, science fiction, and The Mujaheddin. I already had been fascinated by the East because of the way I loved to learn and read. The ‘axis of evil’ was, at that time, the Soviet Union. I grew to love the stories of those who could beat back the Soviets and those who beat them back the best were the Afghans. Having spent a few years thinking I might become an archaeologist I had already read a great deal about the region and, I must admit, I found the men of that region, with the beards, turbans and dark sunglasses, quite handsome! I lived in books and news stories and a world that was completely unreal to the one my body inhabited. Most of the joy from these times was books and nature and avoiding people. There are great gaps of missing time but there are a few noteworthy stories… …in order to understand them you have to understand how I had come to see the world I lived in. When I was a kid we read a Bible Story about Jacob (AS) and Leah (AS) and Rachael (AS)…The first time I learned that story it was told like a romance: This guy had just fled his brother after getting his inheritance by cheating because his mother told him to cheat. (I did not think that was very nice.) Then the cheater ran to his uncles house and fell in mad, passionate love with his uncles younger daughter and agreed to work 7 years to get her. On the wedding night the uncle cheated the cheater and he woke up married to the oldest, uglier daughter. (That ticked me off on two levels…MORE cheating and cheater gets cheated but at the EXPENSE of a desperate ugly girl and I was really mad at the whole thing about this point!) Then he has to work ANOTHER seven years to get the one he wants! AND HE DOES IT! Sheesh wasn’t ONE good enough! (Oh I was raging mad now! I HATED that guy!) As I heard the whole story I had this image in my head: This cheater guy goes and works for a cheater guy and they trade the ugly girl like some pawn and cater to the pretty girl and this cheater guy is saying, “Oh man I have to go sleep with HER again ’cause it’s HER turn and she already is having all these kids and she is like a bowl of water now! No sides!” Then going to the pretty wife all “I can’t WAIT I can’t WAIT!” (I envisioned him running to her tent.) Because of culture I MISSED ENTIRELY the point that all the children the older wife had were GOD’S BLESSINGS on her for the unfairness of her life…yet she had asked for that too knowing that she was getting older and no one wanted her. As I learned the stories they were all full of unfairness, A king had to kill ALL the people even the INFANTS! Another king murdered a man to take his wife because she was…there is that word again…BEAUTIFUL! In my world I saw all the men in it worship beauty, drool for beauty, sin for beauty, cheat for beauty and there I was reading stories that were OLD OLD OLD and it was the SAME THING! As I got older I found the beauties compete for their male equivalents and saw men and women turn into dogs and vultures all fighting over the meat! It is a rare man, it seems, who loves what he has but there are a few. I wonder sometimes what it would be like to be with someone who was not blinded by the illusion of this life… …wish for the impossible. For this reason I decided to take matters into my own hands! I was a woman at 12 and I looked much older. Tall. Pizza-faced. Skinny and a member, in good standing, of the ‘Itty Bitty Titty Committee’ I watched pretty girls get all the attention for nothing. They could even kick a guy and he would beg for more. I sent valentines to guys that they never returned, love letters that they laughed at…and lots of the guys would bark at me from the back of class because they said I was as ugly as a dog. I would get up in class and tell them to ‘Go f*ck themselves’ and I always managed to end up in trouble. I was a virgin still and ashamed of it. We had just moved to a new town and it was full of golden people who knew where they belonged and their families had lived there for more than two generations. There was only one thing I was good at: dancing. When I danced…even on roller skates…I was transformed. People forgot to look at my face and they could only see how clever I was at moving my body through space….but even then…I had no male takers…only the gay fellows who admired my dance moves. The new town was the biggest one we had been in yet. It was near a city too. It had two places I loved: A disco dance hall and a skating rink and anytime I had free time I was there making sure everyone noticed how great I was at dancing. I knew I had to find love of some kind. I was SOOOOO lonely watching the pretty girls get so much attention. My life was like this: We now had seven people in one house with one bathroom. Five kids and two parents. Susan was tall with clear skin and dark purple eyes and legs to her waist. Guys called her all the time. She was only one year younger than I was…her hair was black and long to her butt and she KNEW she was pretty. In the bathroom she would always shove me out of the way of the mirror saying, “You don’t need it it will not do you any good to look.” It hurt very much to be the ugly one. Susan had already taken on the role of the oldest girl and I had what I wanted as far as responsibility…but she made no effort to draw me into her world of golden people…I was a beggar looking in from the outside and what was worse: She was a better dancer than me….even today she has everything….including her health left and I always have felt like nothing next to her my entire life. I watched young men beg at her young feet as she laughed in their faces while I begged at young men’s feet and they laughed in mine. One day I decided to be first at something. I would not be a virgin anymore. I made a plan…I did not know how easy that plan would be to carry out. It was summer and it was hot. Mom drove me to the skating rink where all the kids hung out and skated. I was almost 13 years old. Four months and my birthday would come. People laughed at me for skating in a long dress but I ignored them…I was learning to ignore people. There was an older fellow who was the rink’s skating referee and he made sure everyone behaved….he was a brilliant skater but he was also very ugly…a hunchback…with skinny legs and bad skin like mine. He was very lonely I knew because when the DJ called out ‘Couples Skate!!’ he and I were always the only ones no one asked. We sat on the sidelines and watched the lovers skate…he never looked at me he was 20 and I was a child in his eyes I guess…I saw him watching the pretty girls with hungry hopeless eyes and I KNEW he was a virgin like me. He was my target. Maybe It was evil but in my world I had learned how to be hard and mean. I was sure I could not get anyone better. I chose my moment and I skated over to him making sure to skid stop with perfect precision… …”Hi”…..I said offhandedly, “What’s your name? I noticed you are an excellent skater.” When he heard me he stopped drooling over the lovelies out on the wooden floor and looked at me in total surprise and I knew then that no girl had ever addressed him either. “Uh….Tom..” he said in a soft and awkward voice. “My name is Tom and I am 20 years old what is your name?” …..”Shani.” I said, “I am 16…you wanna skate?” He looked at me as if a shark had suddenly grown legs and walked on land then sprouted wings and started to fly…. “Uh….yeah..” he almost whispered. I grabbed his hand and pulled him out on the floor and it turned out we skated very well together as we were both skilled at this….people were watching us loop the loop and waltz on wheels and I saw him notice and try to stand up a little straighter….it was then that I noticed my first lesson about vulture women, If they are prettier than you are and they know it…they will go for the guy you chose like hungry predators to prove how much better they are then you are…..suddenly that lonely hungry shy young man had girls asking him to skate because of me….guys are not the same way so I was still on the sidelines….after a few skates he threw them off and came back to me and stuck out his hand. We skated together the rest of the night…at the end of the night I got my first kiss…he asked where I lived and how to get a hold of me….that was a problem…I said my parents would not let me date and we would have to meet here. It was a pity I could not love him or stand him to touch me….but he was so desperate for love and I was so desperate to be over my sister in SOMETHING! We dated for a couple of months…meeting there and then leaving there and going places in his car. At first he did not try anything but as time went on he got bolder. He asked me if I was a virgin once and I said “no”. He looked relieved. He made up love songs for me on the guitar and he fell in love with me. He still did not know the truth about me. Before my birthday in December he bought a bottle of wine and took me to the lake…..he brought a blanket and the means to make a fire in the night….and while our parents thought we were skating he was arranging for the first time under the stars in the cold December night. He had no idea it was my first time too. He kept asking me… “Do you love me? “And I kept on saying… “I like you a lot but”….and he would look sad. We parked the car and turned off the engine. He got out and made a fire and laid the blanket on the rocky ground. He took my hand and led me to our ‘bed’ and sat down with me and uncorked the bottle of wine. “Do you drink?” His voice was husky with emotion. “Sure!” I lied. He handed me the bottle and we both drank it down under the cold winter stars. It made me giggle until I couldn’t stop. I was laughing and laughing and he said in a peevish voice, “Stop laughing you are ruining the mood!” So I tried to stop laughing….he took his pants off and I saw IT….funny…it seemed as if I already knew somehow…was born knowing…but it seemed as natural as the world around us….to watch him jack himself to get hard in the cold and how funny it seemed to pick this time and place. Like a lifeless doll I let him undress me. I was not at all cold. That was funny too…I seemed I should have been cold but I was not cold at all…I was numb to reality…..it was like a dream world and a part of me floated above and watched it without any passion but with intense interest….I wondered if this was going to be like the romance novels but already it was more like a joke than a reality. It was so odd it seemed as if I had seen a man masturbate before but I had not….? It was so confusing.Then he was on top of me and his knees were pushing mine apart….again I was like a lifeless doll and I let him. He was so hungry with all the rejection of women in his life that he did not notice my lack of response. He took himself in his hand and he found the tiny entrance that was me and without noticing he tried to thrust into me….and it hurt him. He did not fit and his eyes got big as the realization set in that I had lied to him… …I was a virgin. Then something like fear crossed his face and then savage need that over whelmed anything he might have felt. He changed something in the way he was positioned almost as if this was a natural thing that no one needed to be taught and pushed again … …PAIN! Screamed through me like a knife and yet I made no sound…not even a gasp as I could not breath and a rock on the cold ground poked me in the back and the stars swayed crazily overhead and I almost lost consciousness….but I did not even cry I was completely silent. When it was over there was blood all over the blanket….he was looking at me as if I was some alien….as if to accuse me of not being a normal girl. My legs hurt as I pulled them together and pulled a part of the blanket around me. I felt like my insides were all torn up. But still I was not crying…..but he was crying softly. “I am sorry…” he kept saying over and over…I was speechless what could I say? Then he could not help himself and he cried as he tried to take me again but I pushed him away and said no…..then he got up and walked to the trunk of his car and pulled out a gun….I was still not afraid I thought to myself, “If this is my time to die so be it.” but he did not do as I expected, instead he put the gun to his own head and cocked the trigger and said, “I love you even if you don’t love me….please let me love you?”, Then I learned the second lesson of love: Sex is an all powerful tool in the hands of even an ugly girl, and I knew how I would use it from now on…no one like my sister or my sister would ever have a virgin if I could help it…I would get even for the unfairness of life and I would have them first and know even as they knelt at someone else’s feet I would stain their souls…I said nothing as, crying, he pulled me towards himself and began again in the bloody mess he has made of me…I was as cold and numb as the winter stars shining over head…emptiness filled me along with the pain and I knew my lot in life was pain…. Even though I had made that vow it would be a few more years before I made good on my promise. The Missing Baby It was March and I was thirteen and something was wrong. (I had managed to hide what I had done from my parents. I just told my mom I had started menstruating and she asked no more questions. I bled for two days. Then it stopped. ) But now three months had passed and I knew; I had seen my mother already too many times. I was in the school in silent agony…going through life as if nothing was wrong and inside I was boiling over with fear because I knew what was gonna happen to me if Da found out….and I knew it wasn’t gonna be good….and I knew if I kept throwing up my breakfast every morning there was bound to be trouble. In the girls bathroom I sat in the floor and screamed inside even while no tear traced my pale cheeks. I hugged my arms around myself and tried not to breathe but that was no answer. I walked for miles and miles for a week and at 3 and one half months I had to tell someone… …Who? I never wanted to talk to that fellow again. In those days you could not tell a teacher and abortion was illegal…Roe vs Wade had not yet gone through. My Da had become rich but alcoholism was soon to run rampant in our family… …finally….because I knew it would hurt him the worst….I went into my father’s room and quietly told him, “Da…I am pregnant.” I waited for the rain of blows the yelling and the screaming and the pain…he just sat there like a tree struck by lightning….speechless. In a dangerously quiet voice he asked me, “Who was it?”, I did not answer for several minutes and then I told him. He said, “Get in the car.” I did so and he got in the other side and we drove to the skating rink. We went inside. He said, “Point to me who he is.”, I pointed. He waited and caught the young man’s attention and called him over. They begin to talk and the young man looked as if he was pleading. Even though I was right there I had again moved out of my body and was looking at them from above and I could barely hear them….The young man said something about loving me and marrying me and my father said something about me I could not understand and that the young man ‘should not feel bad’. He said he would not kill him or have him sent to prison if he joined the military and never spoke to me again. The young man started to cry but Da was adamant. Then we got back in the car….everything was surreal like an evil dreamscape and half the English I heard made no sense. We pulled into a hospital and my father talked quietly to a man there. He gave him a wad of money from his wallet. They took me into a room and put me to sleep. I woke up different and I had a small scar on my stomach… …I would never be pregnant again. I did not want to be pregnant like mom anyway or have any man’s baby until I met Nadeem many years later. But then it was too late. Mom cried and cried and cried….she wanted me to have that baby so much. The Wild Days WWW Underwear Fight Night Da had a habit of shuckin’ all his clothes but his tighty-whitey’s after work every day for as long as I can remember. He would sit in front of that TV for hours, after work, like a huge, bloated ‘Scotch Bacchus’ and make us change the channels for him. There were no remotes back then. In between making drinks and switching channels we would all try various means of escape: go to this person’s house or that person’s. Since my escape was books I was the one stuck making drinks and changing channels most of the time. I asked him once… “Don’t you care what people will think if you die like this and they see you this way?” he grinned wickedly and said, “Well hell Imma be dead anyway! Why would I care who would see me then?” One hot summer night at about midnight we were still at drink making and channel switching. This year it was ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and I hated them. Mom was in the kitchen cleaning up after supper and the phone rang…she picked it up and gasped….Da roared, “WHAT IS IT! IS IT FOR ME!!!!”, mom said, “I think it is the next door neighbour!!!!!” Those days there were no portable phones yet in our house either…if they existed I did not know about them….Da heaved his considerable bulk slowly off the ground…if you could imagine a mountain of flesh moving…he strolled into the kitchen with his enormous butt encased in tight white cotton like a grotesque championship wrestler gone mutant. He listened into the phone and began to curse whoever was on it….turns out the next door neighbor, who was also alcoholic, was drunk and insulting my mother on the phone….BIG mistake! Da could move fast for a man of his girth and size and mom could not stop him as he barreled out the extra wide front door he had installed and out onto the lawn in the bright moonlight which made his underwear blaze like the sun! We went out on the front porch and mom and I were speechless…the fellow next door, who was also in the Oil Patch, was running out his front door with his fists raised. He was a tall skinny fellow and wore bright green boxers and I thought to myself “Ladies and Ge’nn’lmen! In this corner we have the GREAT DA weighing in at 500 pounds of meat and mad as a bull and in THIS corner we have that bantam rooster the GREAT GUS, weighing in at….How much does he weigh? ….100 pounds? NOOOOO!!!!” and the crowd roared and said “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!” …and the bell clanged and the contestants circles each other throwing insults like: “Y’all talkin’ bad about my wife I will wipe the ground with your ass!” ….and the moon shown full down and played the referee and two spectators stood on the front porch to watch it begin. A few days back Gus had made a low brick fence between the yards in which to grow his daisies. It was only about 6 inches high and hard to see in the dark. Da went over it and threw a punch and missed and fell down….Gus also threw a punch and missed and tripped over Da and also fell. Da heaved up and the Gus was already up and raining blows which made da roar with laughter….the two men went back to their corners and ran at each other…but both forgot the low wall was there…as they barely missed one another in a mighty crash that would have killed Gus they both tripped over the wall and landed face first eating the dirt… …it took all the fight out of ‘em somehow…. Without looking at each other they got up off the ground and everyone went inside but me as I stood on the porch and watched a police cruiser come up the street. I never knew which neighbor called the police but as the cruiser passed , Pigtail, who was a friend of mine, saw me and gave me the thumbs up…and he smiled so that his white teeth gleamed in the moonlight through his open window and I swear I heard him chuckle even from the street and over the motor….and I knew…like me….he too had heard the crowd and watched with astonishment as the two men engaged in battle….then he drove on and I went inside thinking… “When can I marry her?” “When she is ready to come home.” “It is not fair to make me wait.” “She is MINE still, not yours. You complain about the lives of these may-fly humans as if she won’t belong to you by the end of the day? YOU are not ready yet!” There came a day the balance of power shifted between Da and all of us. It did not matter so much to his favourite kids, Marla and Sean. It did not matter to Susan who had found many ways to escape. It mattered alot to Sara who was Mom’s favourite. One day I led the ‘Family Charge’ to beat the door down while my youngest sister screamed, in the master bedroom, under ‘The Strap’. I never knew what it was that made us deserve our beatings. Da and I had come to an agreement that year when I finally hit him back hard enough to hurt him. One night, for a reason so small I cannot recall it, Da took my youngest pre-teen sister in the master bedroom to have a ‘talk’ with her. As I heard the screams come from the room I became livid with anger. She always fought back like I did and we were always punished the worst for this. I told everyone in the living room, also my Mom, “ARE WE GOING TO LET THIS HAPPEN!” As I marched to the locked bedroom door the youngest ones followed me. Mom followed us crying and scared that this would make matters worse. I did not care….soon all of us were beating on the door screaming at him to come out and let her go NOW! Every one was screaming. I told mom, “I am calling the police!” I told my younger sibs to keep beating on the door and mom followed me into the kitchen begging. I called the police and they came with their radios and their speakers. They pushed the youngest ones out of the way and they told my father through the wooden door if he did not open the door they would break it down! They looked at my mother sternly as Da opened the door and my hastily covered up sister screamed and cussed at my father who was drunk and furious! He did not say a word to the police. They asked my mother, “Maam we can arrest him right now at your word.” Mom was too terrified and crying to speak…Da was looking at her like she would be dead if she did any such thing. My sister ran out of the room covered in a blanket. When they could get no answer from my Fire eyed Da or my Screaming mother they tried to speak to my youngest sister who had retreated into a fetal position and would not speak. They got on their radios and started to leave but told my mother that she could call anytime and they would take him. When they were gone Da punched several holes in the wall and we all had to keep him in a steady supply of scotch and water….He looked at my mother who was grey-faced and speechless and said, “She is not mine anymore…YOU raise her!” Quartz Mountain I was 17, I had just chopped off all my hair. I spent most of the time in the library and writing poetry. I had just met Elise not long before. She was light to my dark. I was Goth before there was a definition for it. My mom cried when she saw how short my hair was. I was the ANTI _______(fill in blank) and nothing mattered then. Not life not death not God not not not…..just glorious fabulous amazing beautiful words that whole universes were created from…the year before I met those in the band ‘BDSM’ and long after reading a partial work of the ‘Divine Marquis’ and stuff about medieval torture methods…Yeah I was a weird kid but when you get the crap beat out of you and cut down all the time you might turn into a weird kid too….My writing heroes were Carl Sagan and James A Michener and my favourite book at that time was ‘Caravans’. Elise and I were social outcasts…she was American high caste social outcast and I was only an oil gypsie…Both of us geeks she was ‘goodie two shoes’ geek and I was ‘burn the shoes’ geek. That year Oklahoma had it’s first year of Quartz Mountain Summer Arts Institute and mom made me submit a poem…I did not think I would win but I got chosen as runner-up and a doctor, in the city, sponsored me to attend. The one who was chosen before me to attend could not make it…so I still felt like second place but at least there would be an adventure in the mountains!!!! I even got mentioned for something GOOD in the local newspaper! “Looking through the windows of dark, misty fading glass. I see the marching by of memory as it comes to pass, The fields we used to run in… the clouds we used to chase, The blowing gale and gentle breeze blew freely in each face… The creek of honeysuckles, the skies of lazy dreams, Our broken down old tree-house full of golden bright sunbeams, The chivalry, the rivalry, the joy and all the pain, I would go through fire and water just to be that child again” ‘You ever eat a Honey Suckle Flower? First thing is to be ready to be stung by a bee. Second thing is to carefully break off the white, sweet smelling, fountain shaped flower at a tiny green ‘ball’ at the base where it connects to the vine. Third thing is to VERY CAREFULLY break off the green ‘ball’ at the base. Fourth thing is to slowly pull the male part of the flower’s ‘sex’ OUT of the flower completely and then slide out the female pieces. Fifth thing is to squeeze the slender neck of the flower until a clear drop of sweet fluid forms at it’s base and quickly put it on your tongue. In the great burst of sweet is a tiny hint of bitter that is like birth and death together. If you eat the flowers you will get the shits…I know I tried it once. Only the nectar! This poem won me my place. It is even more true now than it was then…I cannot remember how I got there but I do remember the small brown cabins and the lodges and the rooms. All very luxurious…One day I went out hiking alone in the mountains all day and missed ‘classes’ there and got in trouble when they had to send a heli out to see where I was….The Park Rangers and the Director scolded me in the Park Rangers Office even while I tried to explain I could have spent the night out there with such rich land all around and never been in any more danger than I would be alone on a city street…While I was hiking I sat on a rock and watched hawks circle for a kill and heard the distant sounds of a flute….the red granite outcrops and jagged hills filled with green cedar were awesome and I had pockets of loose quartzite…no purple though and I wanted purple! Purple Quartzite was what I had been looking for or even better a GEODE!!!!!! Some of the geode crystals even glowed when Da would saw the rock open with his rock saw! Those that glowed were an even rarer radioactive fluorite! After that they would not let me leave the compound area. They got angry when I wrote a poem about abortion and they got mad when I tried my first, and last, time to get a tan and got second degree sunburn from falling asleep in the heat in one of the few bathing suits I ever owned…I could not move for a coupla days swathed in ointment and gauze and peeling off a whole layer of dead skin! Later on two lines in a poem read by a TV character made me cry as I recalled those days: “Too short to be quarterback too plain to be queen” (Roseanne) Today I would give just about anything to be that imperfect again…and I smile and think that next year I may feel that same way about this year…if I am still here In sha’Allah… His Car Isn’t Nice Enough We were getting even richer then! Even though Da drank down two college educations and a house we still had plenty! That is how rich we finally got! Da was proud of everyone but me I think. They were all drunks like him…Heck I was for that short time too but My sibs were golden. They did not fight back like I did and they stayed away from home more and saw what more ‘normal’ families were like…Now only two girls to each bedroom and my brother got the small bedroom all to himself and mom and Da had their room…even one of the bathroom’s  was ALOT bigger! The was Bohemia! My sister and I even had, (gasp!), OUR OWN PHONE LINE! (faint!) Susan was a cheerleader…she and I shared a room. She wore three pairs of hose in the winter and when I sat up in the bleachers on those dark, cold nights and the stadium lights popped on I could see her doing back-flips down on the sidelines. Red and white sweat shirts with big red ‘M’s for ‘Millers’ (’cause this was a farm-town then too only a bigger richer farm-town near a city) and those tiny little skirts with the wide pleats that showed her red underpants every time her feet flew, with expert precision, over her head. I would be far away at the top of the bleachers at the edge of a strange universe in a huge T-shirt with my shorn hair and super baggy jeans and deliberately holy sneakers…I pretty much figured, at that time, If I was not gonna be popular I was gonna be ME and ME was pretty pissed off at just about everything! One night there was a girl sitting a row down from me. It was about 43 degrees Fahrenheit that night and the girl was shivering so I tossed her my jacket cause I was too hot anyway…she looked at me with a mix of relief and disbelief…I told her, “No I am not cold…” And I wasn’t! I skinnied through the cracks in the bleacher seats at the top and held on to the bars underside until I was hanging by my fingers and dropped to the ground with a crouch and a roll, (yeah I took gymnastics too…), and got dirt and some sticky candy stuff stuck on my shirt and watched the big sodium greenish sodium beams make bars on the ground through peoples legs and took deep breaths of dark, cold air and that glorious feeling of BEING struck me and I climbed around all over the underside of those bleachers and no one knew it….sometimes swinging from bar to bar if they were free…and tuning out the cheering crowd of locals above me until they seemed to be a part of some other world….When the game was over we met our parents at the curb: Susan, sweaty and jubilant, and me dirty and coat-less and mom exasperated and Da pissed cause I lost my coat! “How did you lose your coat!” “I gave it to a cold girl…” He was in a good mood and shook his head while mom wailed about how much that coat cost! When we got home we went to our room and the phone rang. I never bothered to pick it up…it was never for me. My sis got it and said, “Oh hi!” “Yes! Oh thank you!” “No, I don’t think so I am busy on Thursday but thank you” and then she hung up. I was lounging on the bed all cat-like and surly, “Who was that?”, I asked like I did not give a damn, then came that fearie-tinkle laugh, “That was Royce!” OOOOOOoooo boy! Now THAT guy every girl in the whole SCHOOL wanted…tall blond handsome straight A student jerk type!, “So what did he want?” I said in an offhand way, she giggled, “He wanted me to go out with him!” “So you are not doing anything Thursday?” “No I am not going out with him Thursday…” “Why not?”…… ……(oh the memory!) as she flipped her long silky black hair back she said smiling sweetly, “His car isn’t nice enough!” A regular occurrence in our house was all of the girls, and sometimes even mom, borrowing each others clothes without asking. We all did it. One day Susan confronted me, “Don’t wear my jeans! You’ll stretch out the butt of them and I will look like my butt is sagging when I wear them!” That was my cheerleader sis….that was over 30 years ago… (‘Looks’ were always a HUGE issue in our family…my Da, who was hideous along with all of his sisters), was called ‘The Human Garbage Disposal’, by mom and soon all of us cause he would eat anything! He was always hungry… …until in between a half/gallon of scotch every other night and dinner every night at the ‘Oilman’s Club’ he finally weighed in, on the down town cattle scales, at 500 pounds. They found out later he had a genetic endocrine problem that made him constantly hypoglycemic…a pancreatic malfunction that was said not to exist then but does exist today called ‘hyperglycemia’…people like that can starve and pass out or eat a whole cow in one day no matter what they do they will be giants…strong amazing warrior giants or huge fat people…but I digress), “Ok sis here are your jeans!” I threw them back and resolved to never wear jeans again….I walked into the living-room and Da was drunk on the floor with a scotch on his belly watching “Charlie’s Angels” and he said, “Girl your ass is as big as the side of a barn! ‘Look like my sister when she was young!” I was 14 years old. I weighed 117 pounds barefoot. No matter what I did to stay thin, including starvation and cigarettes I was doomed from the start. It seems like ‘just the other day’ Da was having triple bypass surgery, the year before he died, and I was there in the wheel chair and ‘cheerleader’ sis, (who was drunk and still looks hotter than Shakira on a miniskirt and is 1 and 1/2 years my junior), leaned over and said, ‘ You are too fat….you used to have the BEST FIGURE OF US ALL!’…… …I sat there thinking to myself… “WTF? All my life I hear about my huge ass and now you wanna call me names from your wealth and lofty position and plastic surgery!!!!!! YOU got MOM’s genetics from the Jewish side I just got the NOSE and the CURLY HAIR! YOU got….aww fuck it!” …so I quit thinking to myself and just smiled at her and wondered if she had my life and brain would she be in as good a shape as I am???? Today mom wanted company…all she could talk about was fat…Da was too fat…fat fat…his sisters were fat…his whole family was TALL and BIG BONED and FAT…she said, …she looked at me and without one mean bone in her body, as innocent as a child, she looked at me and said, “You look like dad’s sister”, So here I am typing this because ONCE MORE…(drumroll)…I know I am NOT GOOD ENOUGH! (If I had ANY self respect I would shoot myself but NOOOOOOOoooooooo! I am a coward…just like I was when I was 7 years old and going to run away from the violence…I never forget. Never. It was 1980 in Bohemia. There was a middle school called ‘The Alamo’ and from that school we went on to the fancy new high-school across from the town’s graveyard…The graveyard had no fence. I would go there and eat lunch everyday. One day there was a big school function and we all went to get out of class and down on the gym floor in a talent contest was a band called ‘BDSM’. A band I would later join first as a groupie and then, sometimes as the guys allowed, to sing or play the bass. That day they played ‘Black Diamond’ by KISS. I sat way up in the bleachers as far away from people as I could and watched Arnold blow fire and set his beard on fire!!!!!!! He was the drummer…something in me long dead woke up again that day. The next day I saw him coming from classes and made myself go up to him, “That was brave to keep playing even after the fire department came.” He smiled at me and was soooo nice and said, “Hey thanks!” It had been a while since I talked to people, other than Elise, for the purpose of making friends. This time I knew better than to try ‘the golden people’ because I knew, from observation, the most accepting people of all were the ‘frybrains’ and the ‘party animals’, The golden people were mean spirited and cruel but these free spirits let everyone in and I smoked my first marijuana that year. I began to fight back against bullies too instead of cry…a typical day for me was like this: as I walked into Business Math the football players in the back would start, “ARF ARF!!!!! WOOF WOOF WOOF!!!!! Here you want a bone????? AAAAAAAaaaaaaaOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!! Eat my bone!!!!” …and I would stand up calmly and say, “Fuck you… …eat your own bones…but your bones are so small I seriously doubt any of your mouths would reach.” They would laugh and howl and the teacher would send me to the office. The Principle was a nice guy and there was a boy there with sky blue eyes like mine and a John Denver haircut. Later he would become a famous country and western star. I would sit there and wait to get detention and he and I would chat. We both played guitar and he wanted to be in THE rock band…the one all the kids knew about! BDSM! Everyone knew about them! One day I was invited by a fellow, who would later be my first husband, to go to the garage where BDSM practiced at his father’s house. I would, later of course, ask him to marry as I always have done… He invited me to the GARAGE! Everyone was drunk and high and I became a party animal that night. The boy with the John Denver hair-cut wanted to be a part of our group but the fellows were scornful of him. He was not cool enough. They made fun of his ‘Bowl’ haircut and he stopped trying to become a part of them, but he and I still saw each other, often, in the principals office at school… (I was later to be Presidents Honour Roll, every year in college, and a member of the International Sigma Tau English Society) but back then I graduated high-school by ONE point!) This fellow, who was scorned and made fun of behind his back, went on to become one of America’s top Country and Western Stars…a Multi-millionaire. My mother was friends with his mother way back then. Today the members of BDSM are in ‘prison for life’, have been in prison, have gone insane, and only one fellow STILL drums and raises Black Widow spiders for fun in The City. But the bowl-cut hair kid…the one that was kicked rose to heights we never dreamed of… …I wonder if he remembers the short haired girl-wannabe-guy who was always in trouble long ago? Before I was with my first husband I was dating. One of my first dates was an agreement to meet that same drummer, who raised Black Widow spiders, on the roof of the pavilion at ‘Dead Mans Pond’ Park. The pond was made from cold springs that came up from the ground and it was shallow. It only came to my waist and I could feel the springs bubbling up between my toes. Mitch and I used to try to swim there and he told me that the Mafia dumped dead bodies there so we called it ‘Dead Mans Pond’. The sun was setting and the ‘skeeters’ were coming out and I climbed up the chimney and through the hole in the roof and saw Mitch, the drummer, had made it there before me. I had met his brother there as well who had brought home ammunition from the military and had defused bombs in HIS bedroom that he painted, “To Russia With Love’, on them…they were weird like I was weird and I was so glad to meet people as strange as I was. Many times my friends and I met on that roof. We would lie on the roof in the sun and spit off the edge to see who could spit the farthest. There were ducks and geese there and fish in Dead Man’s Pond. We hunted crawdads with dowel rods stolen from Da and sharpened in the pencil sharpener like spears and we loved that wild park and took the dirt bikes on the dunes in the field where the oil well ‘horses’ were…. Mitch even rode one of those black iron pump ‘horses’ of once! he was CRAZY like me! There was poison ivy and trees that hid the local drunk while he swigged off his fifth and sometimes I would meet him there too with my guitar and play music for hours by the creek that fed the pond. Mitch was going to see if we liked kissing. He actually wanted to practice on me so he could impress a girl he liked. So he kissed me once and tried to cram his tongue in my mouth right away and I laughed and he got mad. I said, “Do you want to learn or not? You have to do it this way first…” I showed him that you have to build up to the tongue part with the lip part first…He freaked out and jumped back when I BIT him and said, “Yeah…she will REALLY like me for that!” …and wanted to try some more…but headlights came up the road leading to the pavilion. The sun had already gone down and it was dark. It was my Da’s sedan. My Da got out and yelled up at the roof, “SHANI I KNOW YOU ARE UP THERE COME DOWN NOW!” I risked a peek over the edge…DAMN! He had his RIFLE! “Mitch…” I whispered, “Don’t move don’t make a sound!” “BOOOOOM!!!!!!” Suddenly all the sleeping geese woke up and starting honking and making noise and attacking my Da! “BOOOOOM!!!!!……COME DOWN NOW AND GET IN THE CAR!” He was shooting in the air! I thought it might be a good day to die so I jumped off the roof and landed right in front of him! This pissed him off….my agility. “If there is anyone up there with you he is a dead man!” Da grabbed my arm and threw me into the passenger’s side door which was open already…. “Who was with you…” he said in his kill voice… “No one…I was just enjoying the night sky..” “Hmmmph!” It was two weeks before Mitch would speak to me again. The Drunken River (This story has been altered to protect the identities of the participants…although the events themselves are real.) It has been said that traveling through memory can be a dangerous thing… …It was 1981 and I was in my last year of high-school. We had finally lived in a town long enough for me to have friends…I had learned over the years that those who would accept me were most often those who were social outcasts themselves. By this time I could beat many men arm wrestling and I could do many amazing feats of physical derring-do. I was somewhat famous for it. I was famous for telling teachers who were stupid exactly what I thought of them and I was famous for making perfect grades on non math subject for the final tests without turning in any homework or cracking a book. I was a teacher’s worst nightmare. I passed high school by 1 point; one point less and I would have failed it all, but it was not yet time for the cap and gown and it was the fall of the last year. It can rain a lot in the fall and the rains that year were higher than normal and the local river was over flowing its banks. We all used to gather at a place called ‘Bridge Out’ and make big bonfires at night and sit on the sand by the river and drink and dare each other to do outrageous things. The day was beautiful and the evening was cool with hot sun and cold north winds. I was with my group at that time then. For the first time in my life I was not only a part of a group one of the leaders of the group. We did not have an official name indeed in those days no one did that sort of thing. The river was running high and flood stage warnings were out. There was much less beach at bridge out than usual but…there was enough…. That day I called Mitch and said, “Can you get your dad’s car?”… “Sure!” he said with enthusiasm, “What are we going to do tonight?”, I laughed at him…”What do we ever do on a Saturday night this time of year? Go to Bridge Out of course! Bring money!!!! Call Sam! I will call Brandon. I will try to get a hold of Steve too!” We agreed to meet at the game shop where there were pinball machines and the very first computer games ever made called ‘Asteroids’… …I walked there it was close to my home. At that time…in place of long dresses I had changed my attire to loose jeans and huge shirts that belonged to my then almost 500 pound Da and those shirts pretty much hung to my knees. The year before I had cut off all my long hair into a boy’s haircut and for once I felt so free and easy. As I looked ahead of me I could feel the heat of the pavement through my sandals and I felt sooooo good as if the world belonged to me and I could conquer it and rule it with ease. My stride was long from many hours of hiking in the back lands and my face was brown from sun. The shabby little gaming shop was just ahead. It was run by a one legged one eyed veteran from the Nam war….we adored him he had so many old stories and jokes…all of them raunchy of course. I found Steve already there playing fooz-ball and holla’d him. “You up for some some fun tonight? We need money….” “Sure!” he had such a kind smile and a good heart….when he was not in one of his cruel moods…he pulled five bucks from his dirty jeans pocket in a crumpled wad and put it in my hand. “I am keeping all my quarters for asteroids!”, he smiled and went back to his fooz-ball game with another fellow I knew. The inside of the place was crowded with posters of girls in bikinis and guys on motorcycles and old war photos. Games of various kinds lined the walls all being operated by intent young men whose sole purpose was to win the game being played and not lose a quarter… …As usual I was the only girl there. “Hey Old Man!” That is what we called the proprietor, “has Mitch gotten here yet?”, The vet waved his hand over to a corner and there was Mitch scaring people by telling them he raised black widow spiders for fun…what was funny about that is, he really DID raise those spiders in his bedroom! Mitch waved me over lazily and puffed on his cigarette like he had been doing it all his life…but I knew he was the first of us to smoke that year. He was tall and fierce looking and had black hair hair to his waist and muscles like a Russian weight lifter. He was a scary looking fellow but I knew he was a pussy cat. “We are going to have to go get Brandon and the rest”, he said in his slow southern drawl, I’m ready to go and I have money…so let’s get out of here…” …as we were leaving I slammed Steve on the back and he followed us out. We got in Darryl’s charger and went and rounded everyone up….then everyone put in their money…some more some less but we did not fight about that sort of thing…and we drove to the other part of town and bought a keg of beer. Brandon had borrowed one of his parents huge rubber trash cans and we went to the 7-11 and bought bags and bags of ice and put the keg in the trash can and filled the rest with ice and left it hanging out of the trunk of the charger as we headed out to the countryside to “Bridge Out” Mike had an 8-track and we listened to Led Zeppelins ‘Black Dog’ and watched the dust fly from the wheels in huge red clouds from the red dirt roads. Those red dirt roads were the love of my life and I still love them. The green green landscape and the red red dirt and the smells of honeysuckle growing wild like we did on broken down fences. In those days I had become a guy…no guy touched me unless I said…but they were too afraid to touch me…I might hurt them and I could stand toe to toe and eye to eye with everyone but Mitch. But when they did touch me it was with the wonderful camaraderie of males hanging all over each other with tangled arms over arms laughing as the dirt hit our teeth and made us spit red like the mad horned toads that were now becoming extinct….all the windows on the charger were down and one was missing….dirt blew everywhere but we did not care….we were going to Bridge Out! When we got there we all piled out…the beach was narrow and the river was high and things were floating down it…tree trunks and dead animals too….it was going fast fast and it was a high sky and a lovely day with huge white storm clouds building in the southeast. Brandon got out and started pulling in drifted wood..it was wet most of it…but with some effort and a lot of stinking lighter fluid we managed to get a fire up and hauled the trash-can out of the truck of the beat up old silver paint-less charger that Mitch called a ‘sleeper’…..and it was too! The beer was cold and we took it out of the trashcan and filled whatever we brought to drink it out of and getting a good drunk on….there were five of us. We watched the river take its unholy cargo south east towards the storm clouds and we laid back in the dirt and talked about nothing really…and sometimes we did not talk at all…just rested and drank and enjoyed the evening as the sun now struck a 45 degree angle to the earth. And the shadows on the trees began to grow tall… Mitch looked at the river through now slitted eyes and said aloud to no one in particular, “I wonder if anyone could swim that?”, Always one for the challenge and especially since I needed to pee really bad and needed an excuse and was too drunk to think of any better way than to jump in the river and do just that I said, “I can swim it!”, They all laughed at me but they all looked at me too with that LOOK…because they had already seen me do things that were crazy like jumping off bridges into the water to swim and jumping off the roofs of houses and landing with no harm just for fun…Brandon said, “Don’t do it Shani…really…don’t do it,” So I did. Before anyone could grab me I was off and in it! The current was much more powerful than I expected and I was too drunk to be afraid but it was too late to get to shore either…somewhere back in my beer-addled brain was Da’s voice telling me a story about swimming at a slant WITH the current of the water to the other side….the boys were yelling at the edge but all of them too drunk and frightened to come after me…we were far too far out in the country for them to leave me there to get help. I don’t know, to this day, what they did while I was gone but I know I had a mighty battle with a drunken river. I made a course to angle towards the opposite shore and I tried not to fight the current too much but it was more than a mile downstream before gasping and coughing up water I crawled over a small sandbar and laid on the ground like a dead person. The sun was touching the trees now and it was getting cold and I had to get back to my friends…I was so drunk it never occurred to me to hike back on the side I was on…they could have just seen me on the opposite bank and then went for help when they knew I was OK… …but NOOOOOOO…I thought I had to swim BACK to the other side! …somewhere in the river I had lost my sandals… She never did belong and she kept thinking she could live life in the human world they way we live life in our world but if you try to do that you court Death and so I would likely have to save her life…again. …I wondered if they would wait for me. I still cannot tell you how I made it back to the other side…it is as if some spirit took over and when I came to I was in a patch of sticker weeds gulping air like someone with no lungs left and it was dark now as the last of the light faded over the trees…I thought I might be two or three miles away from where I began. I seemed like a hundred years to hike back to where I began and I was not drunk anymore…every few steps I had to stop and pull stickers out of my feet as I stayed close to the banks of the dirty, stinking river that let me live…In reality that hike must have taken about two or three hours and they were waiting for me when I got there…all the beer was gone…Brandon threw his shirt over me as did all the other and they wrapped me up and carried me to the car. Mitch said, “We are gonna be in a lot of trouble…we are way late to be home…but we stayed anyway…” They wedged me between them all in the back seat to keep me warm and Steve said “You really STINK…damn that was something! I can’t believe you’re alive!” Mitch looked at me and told them all…”I knew she was coming back….” And he drove with one hand on the wheel as he lit another cigarette and took us back into reality. Spool On The Hill One fine spring day we were all at the game shop looking at a picture that the ‘old man’ had made of himself. He got one of the local cops, who was a friend, to pose with him for the photo and it was going on the wall. It was hilarious. It LOOKED like the old man had his foot shoved up the cop’s ass all the way to the knee…but of course he had no leg under that knee so it was just a joke picture. We all recognized the cop…we called him ‘pig-tail’ on account of he wore a silver tie-tack on his uniform tie that was in the shape of a pig with a curly tail. He was the one who let pretty girls go, even if they were driving drunk, for a kiss or a date. We are all looking and laughing and with great pride the old man went to the wall with a thumb tack and tacked that photo right to a bikini-poster-girls behind! Some of the guys were playing darts with another such poster hung on the far wall and howls of laughter went up every time someone hit the ‘bulls-eye.’ After we were finished with the picture Mitch said, “Anyone wanna go get lost?” We were ALL for that! Getting ‘lost’ was one of our favourite things to do ‘cause in our town there was no movie theatre or anything like that or any mall…just the game shop. It was more fun than driving into the city. ‘Course we never really WERE lost…but we almost were sometimes. We all piled out in that old charger with the bad-ass motor and the ugly busted down exterior with cigarette burns on the seats and we were off to our youthful paradise…exploring the red dirt roads of our native land. All the windows were open and my foot stuck out the window with no glass as there were so many of us I was almost sitting on someone and the only place for my foot to go was out the window! It wasn’t but five minutes in that then-small town to hit a dirt road and we were off…bouncing over rocks and ruts as free and birds and as fast as we could…sometimes the car seemed to fly a bit. Brandon was beating on Mitch’s back… “Go LEFT! GO LEFT!!!!!” …as the music of Black Sabbath screamed from jacked up speakers and Ozzy Osborne sung ‘Dirty Women.’ I yelled at everyone over the music and the sound of the motor, “LETS GO TO GREEN RIVER!!!!” I knew that was what Brandon wanted. Green River was a spooky old house full of spiders about twenty miles out of town. The prairie grass grew half again as high as the house itself stood and it was a rich old fancy house with an arch way you drove into with the name ‘Green River’ in wrought iron curly cues at the top. That archway was covered in poison ivy and the best way in way where we had put sticks and twisted them in the ‘bob’ wire of the old broken down fence around it. There was rust on that barbed wire and we were careful not to touch it as we skinnied through the slit we made with the twisted sticks… The was an empty pool there all laid with mosaic tile of a blond mermaid woman in the bottom that must have once been beautiful but a lot of pieces were missing now….it was right next to the drunken river and, over time, huge chunks of land had been carved away so that now the river was almost at the foundation of the house. We used to speculate why that house was abandoned…did someone kill his wife? Did ghosts come and scare everyone off? Why was such a lovely old home left to rot like that? It could even still be salvaged and we would dream about the day we would pool our money and buy it and work and make it the glory it once was. We would go right through the unlocked front door through the thick thick grass and untended yellow rose bushes that reached the roof and gave such and amazing sweet smell….we would sit inside and drink beer and tell stories and try to scare each other with ghosts…One the way there was a steep steep hill that went at an acute angle downwards for about 50 yards. It was a wonderful hill. It was a dangerous hill. It was red dirt rock and no sides and we loved to speed into that valley so it felt that our stomachs would fly into our throats! At the bottom of the hill was a small creek that fed into the drunken river….As we got to the top of that hill, right across our way almost stretching across the width of the road was a large, strange, very thick cardboard tube that was big enough, it looked like, for a person to get into. Mike stopped and got out. We all got out. The blue sky went soaring over the green that was like a vast ocean as the buds on trees were bursting into leaves and the small, poisonous, purple star flowers were coming up with their prickly silver leaves along the road side and already tall stalks of what would soon be giant sunflowers were reaching towards the light. The smell of vanilla wafted from white clover…ahhh that land was so rich! “Imma do it!”, said Mitch as he stubbed his cigarette out in the dirt. OHHHH Lordy! I knew what he was gonna do so I said, “Ok then I am next.” He looked at me and nodded and while everyone was wondering what was going on he slithered in that tube like a snake and in a muffled voice he told the astonished onlookers… “Push me down the hill!” Steve , who was small and quick like a ferret began to laugh…Brandon, who was slender and serious told everyone it was a bad idea and with a wicked grin on his face Steve shoved Mitch down…Brandon was mad. He said to us all… “That fool is gonna bust his head open!” …looking at me with a very pointed look. It only took a few seconds but it seemed an eternity as Mitch rolled down and as he rolled we realized that road was slanted off to the right even though it did not look like it…Oh CRAP! He was headed right for the rocky creek and headfirst at that!!!!!!! Brandon and I ran-bounced-skidded-on-our-butts- fell-tore-holes-in-our-jeans-bruised-knees as fast as we could get down that hill! We were almost to the bottom when Mitch went down off the edge of the rocky ledge with his arms pinned to his sides, head first into the creek. The open end of that cardboard barrel was down in the water when we got there and Brandon jumped in the creek and I kicked the end propped on the rocks down while the other two howled with laughter at the top of the hill. “Assholes…” Brandon muttered. We pulled a very calm Mitch out of the tube and he said, “I knew you guys would not let me die”, and then he looked at me and said, “You are next.” Brandon knocked him in the creek, “You dumbass! No one is next! Shani come on!!!!”, He grabbed my arm and dragged me back up the hill and I let him. We never made it to Green River that day as we drove down red roads where spring was exploding everywhere…past brown cows and red barns and old farm houses….That night I asked Da what that tube was and described it. He said… “That was a wire spool off a wire-line truck…..why?” I said, “Just curious..” I have been back to that town and now they have a movie theatre. The little game shop is gone and in its place is a Shell gas station. The old man passed away and the hill we played on is level now and covered with concrete as it runs through a business district. Pig Tail is now an old man judge there…retired. The drunken river now runs through where green river once stood; it’s banks reinforced with concrete and rebar…and the river of my life goes on as I hear my sister from the distance of childhood singing…”Zum gali gali gali Zum gali gali” Now you have to understand that back in those days only white people lived in this town and the KKK was active for nothing. There was nothing to be active against and while I had a very different understanding of race, (because of previous experience), race was NEVER an issue in any of our interactions with each other. Even the Native Americans in our town were looked upon as equals because at least one quarter of the townspeople were already ‘part Cherokee’. This next chapter is to be taken as a white on white act with no real idea of the over-all implications it might have in the larger world. The Fiery Cross Midnight 1981 and beer was still legal for 18 year olds to drink here. But we were not drunk that night we were razor straight coz no one had a penny. Danny was up for pickin’ up Karen. Since we were still in his red El Camino with the dented right fender we had to… Karen…what can I say about her? She was an oil baby sure! Most everyone was in the back of the ‘Camino and it was spring and the weekend and everyone was full of hormones….’specially Karen back in those days. She and Danny was gonna get married. He gave her a family heirloom necklace that was at least three hundred years old and had come from the ‘old country’. This was OLD Bohemia and mementos like those meant more than anyone could imagine! Danny put it in gear and we went and got her. She jumped on me. “HAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!” she yelled and knocked me out of the back of the car and we were wrestling on the ground. “STOP! STOP! Come on! ” She was out of breath and huffed, “OK then lets make Danny go get George cause I wanna do something fun with his car! George had a Pacer. She grinned that toothy wolf grin and laughed, “I have MONEY too! Danny!!!!! Buy me some beer!” Danny said, “Get your ass in the car then and lets go!” I hopped in the back with Mike and Steve and some of the other guys and we were off to George’s house. On the way we stopped for beer. Now those days sex was sort of a free-for-all but Karen and Danny were an item and everyone knew it. So when Danny went in the 7-11 to get some beer and she hopped in the back and unzipped Mike’s jeans we all looked away astonished! He was as still as a rock while she gave him head and it was over fast and she looked at us and laughed manically and Danny brought us all out some beer and the night was ON! Nobody said a word to Mike and everybody acted like this was no big deal. We all ignored it what else could we do? After all it wasn’t like we had never all made out together in the same van…so anyway we got to George’s and asked him to come with us and get drunk on Karen’s’ dime. He was more than happy. We now had two cars. Karen got in the pacer with George (whom we nik’d ‘Geo’) and I and said, “I want the door seat! you sit in the middle and straddle the stick!” I asked her why and she said with a merry twinkle in her eyes, “You’ll see just wait!” Danny was following us on the road and Karen said, “Get on the freeway it’s after midnight and no one is one the road!!!! DO IT NOW!” George exited off Mustang road and Danny and the gang followed. We were off down I-40 with the clear bright night and an empty highway and a crazy woman! “Faster!”, she yelled at Geo, “Faster!” Geo said, “if you wanted to go fast you should have stayed in the the El camino!” she pouted, “Yeah…but Danny wouldn’t let me do what I wanna do!” Geo and I looked at each other and shrugged and he gave the old Pacer, that looked like a pregnant duck, the lead foot. As we went faster she rolled down the window…she commanded, “Geo, roll down your window now!” He did…nothing big there….but then….Ooooooooooo….before we could do anything she was out the window and on top of the car with one hand locked around one window top and the other hand locked around the other like the figure of a dragon on a viking ship as we sailed down the highway at 60 or 70 miles an hour and we heard her screaming like a banshee to the moon and laughing while she got hit with bugs and bug guts on her teeth! Geo made a weird face and got mad and we could hear Danny yelling something as he hung out the open window behind us and Geo, very carefully, slowed down and pulled over to the side and got out of the car and pulled Karen off the Pacers roof and started , “What the HELL did you think THAT was for! What you want me to be convicted for manslaughter you bitch! I can’t believe it…go with Danny in the ‘camino and stay out of my car!” She was furious, “Danny! Are you gonna let him talk that way to me? Are you!”…Danny was furious too but quiet as he said, “Get in the car NOW. I am taking you home!” Karen looked at him and twin fires blasted from copper-flecked eyes. She stomped to the car after she looked him up and down with pure scorn and said, “Don’t forget who bought the beer!” I decided to ride with Geo. As we rode he looked at me and said shyly, “You wanna come and see my crow tomorrow at my parents house? His name is Algebra. I raised him from a baby.” I looked at him. That was as close as asking for a date as he could get. He was a tall skinny guy with bad skin and a permanent facial tic and a heart of gold. Something in me melted and I said back, “Sure I would love that….when would you like to come get me? ” So we made plans while we followed Danny back to Karen’s house and she told him with great scorn that he could have the beer since she could not let her parents know. And she went in and slammed the door. The next day Danny opened his mailbox and in the mailbox was another box, small, wrapped in brown paper, and he opened it and inside was a small card that wrote: “Shove this up your ass you bastard.” Under the card was the necklace. She, or someone, had taken wire-cutters to it and chopped the soft gold locket and chain into little pieces…the heirloom was unrecoverable. Danny was heart-broken…but was mad-as-hell and I knew the perfect way to get even… …the perfect way! The next day we all gathered together. We gathered where they were building a new housing edition across the street from my parents house. Most of us could walk there but a few could not. I was on the phone to everyone and asked them all to come and they all said they would but I knew they all would not. I already knew who would be there for sure, but I asked. Before I left I had to sneak something out of the house. “Mom! I am going for a walk!” “OK! Just be careful” I went into the hallway past the pencil drawing of a grave-site I had made and mom had framed. I very quietly opened the linen cabinet and took out one large king size sheet from the bottom where the old ones were, that belonged on my parents bed. Then I thought that would not be enough so I took two of them. I had them under one arm and was almost to the door when mom startled me and said, “Where are you going with those????” “Me and some of the guys have an art project”, I was thinking quickly, “It’s going to be the backdrop for the band. We are going to paint some neat stuff on it and hang it when the band gets to play at the school in the next talent contest.” “Ok….just be careful and have a good time.” “I will…..I love you mom. Thanks.” And out the door I went. We met in a half built house and I threw the sheets on the newly poured and dried concrete. “OK guys start tearing ’em in strips.” Only Danny, Mike, Geo’, and Ryan showed up. Mike grinned at me like a happy demon and Danny said, “Why are we tearing em up?” I told Ryan “We need your dad’s post hole diggers and his truck. Can you get ’em?” He looked at me oddly and said, “Sure I can!….wha….” Mike was grinning bigger! I said “Danny how much lighter fluid can you buy? Can you get two or three of those big cans of it? Anything like that?” Danny nodded and Mike said, “We’ll need some wood.” He went over and chose a 10 foot piece and a 4 foot piece from the pile the workmen left. Back then it was not as big a deal to secure materials and it was the height of the oil boom before the fall and people were careless with goods. Mike said, “I will get a hammer and nails and we can all meet back here.” I nodded and Ryan went to get his dad’s truck and some post hole diggers and the rest of us started tearing sheets in strips….while Mike and Ryan were gone we got them all torn up and ready. Mike was back with a hammer and some long bad ass nails, 10 penny nails I think they were called…he got up to putting a cross together before I asked and by that point everyone knew without asking what we were going to do. There was no need for words or talk as Ryan drove up in his dad’s truck and got out…and we all began to wrap strips of sheet around the wooden cross that Mike built. Silently we put it in the back of the truck and it hung out….as it was now after midnight and all of us were already going to be in trouble we did not worry for time. All of our parents knew we were hooligans. We pulled up to the curb and in complete, cat-like silence Ryan dug a hole in Karen’s parents’ front yard. Mike carefully lifted the cross from the back and Danny drenched it in lighter fluid, being very careful to get it only on the cross…we all had our faces covered to avoid fumes and we were lucky there was no breeze that night. The boys wore work gloves as they carried it to the hole and dropped it in. Ryan had brought some gravel and carefully poured it around the hole where there was empty space so the cross would stand up right. Upright and in the hole it was only 8 feet tall but that was good enough. Mikes teeth shown white in the gleam of the moonlight as he took a one foot long fire-place match and lit it and the cross began to burn….the flames began to spread slowly upwards as we ran to the truck and got in and carefully drove away…..We had driven a coupla blocks and Ryan said, “I wanna go back and SEE it!” The window to the cab of the truck was open in back and everyone of us heard what he said. “NOOOOOOO!!!!” we all chorused in dismay. Mike yelled through the window, “Dumbass we didn’t bring any weapons and I bet the cops are there already!” I looked back through the window at Mike and said, “We never have any weapons but you are right there are cops for sure!,” I turned to Ryan, “Don’t go.” He said, “I am driving and everyone goes where I want!” So all of us were begging him to stop and let us out of the truck and he said, “NO! You helped do it you should see it too! If you want jump out of the back of a moving truck! Mike you shouldn’t have taken your shirt off your nose! Fumes got to your brain! ” “Huh!!! MY brain and my shirt FELL off putting that cross in the hole!” Danny was quiet. He gave up trying to change Ryans’ mind. Ryan turned the truck and we went back. Sure enough the whole neighborhood was wide awake! It was the spectacle of the year! Every cop car in town, BOTH of em, were there. There was the fire truck! The street was packed with cars and people rubbernecking at 3 AM!!!! People must have really been bored that night and back then a lot of regular folk had police radios and guns, (they still do),The fire truck had not made it to the cross yet and while it was a small one it was magnificent!!!!!! I had been worried it was not going to catch fire when we left. I realized Mike must have been careful to direct the fuel distribution on it upwards. It blazed like the symbol of righteous anger it was meant to be! We were awestruck! WE did that! The geek musicians from BDSM! We did not pay attention until it was almost too late: Hank and her seven other brothers had seen us and they KNEW who did it. Compared to us they were BAAAADASSSES! Hank, and all seven of them, climbed into his powder blue Volkswagen ‘Bug’ and each of them was carrying a heavy chain in their hands! So many were in that little car that arms and legs were sticking out open windows! Ryan said, “We better get out of here!” and Mike yelled through the window, “Yeah no kidding dumbass!” We tried to get away fast but the street was so full of cars. We were lucky that they were impeded by the same problem. Finally we got out of the morass and we started to get out of town like we should of in the beginning. We did not make it fast enough. As we hit I-152 that went into Mustang, The same road I had biked 16 miles on with a bicycle for fun more then once to Mustang and back and it was an old, empty peaceful highway but not that dark early morning. Screaming threats and cussing us like the crazy Irish drunks they were those red-headed Djinn boys swirling chains out open windows chasing us into the darkness! We turned off our headlights. No matter…we sped up…no matter…they were determined to get us and we were scared! Finally Ryan got a bit a head of them and stopped. “WHAAT THE HELLL! DUMBASS!” Every one was screaming at him and I beat at him with my fists while he drove but no matter…he was implacable…Their head lights bore down on us…they piled out of the powder blue bug and ran towards us like chain swinging red blond Vikings howling in the pitch and still Ryan stayed stopped, “GO GO GO GO!!!” We chanted to no avail. A heavy chain crack the windshield and Danny cried out as a heavy chain hit his back and the truck was dented with chains and just as one of Hanks brothers was ready to board the back of the truck and the drivers side window had been smashed out and we were covered with glass, Ryan put the truck in gear and smiled at Hank through the open window and floored it! We shot ahead with a squeal of blacktop burning rubber and Hanks brother fell in the road cursing and Mike, who seemed to be almost psychic, grabbed Danny before he fell out too and we all managed to leave them behind us. I looked at the back of Ryan’s head through the open window and yelled over the noise of the truck at him through the back, “Danny is bleeding and what are you gonna tell your dad this is his work truck!!!! We were all mad at Ryan for wanting to go back…but we also had the memory of the cross emblazoned in our minds. We drove around for a while not sure what to do out on the red dirt roads. The early morning was eerie and finally we knew…Danny said it, “We have no choice we have to go back…lets just tell your dad that some hoods attacked us and we don’t know who they are.”, Ryan agreed and we headed back into town the back way so as to not be seen by anyone…Ryan’s dad was on the front porch with his arms crossed and a look like the devil on his face. He waited ’til we parked and asked us why we were late and everyone’s parents had been calling each other wondering where the hell we were. “How did this happen to my truck,” he said with a kind of quiet fury, “Uhm…dad, there hoodlum guys attacked us while we were driving in the countryside and we were afraid to come back and try to explain this to you.” “I see..” His father seemed to relent a bit and relax and being the only girl I said, “Can you call my Da and have him come get me?” “I will call them when we get to the police station we are all going to report this.”, his father looked grave, “Must have been the same kids that burned that cross…” We did not say anything….Ryan’s dad got his Chrysler sedan and had Ryan drive the ‘evidence’ and we started off on the five minute journey to the tiny police station that had four cells. The first ray of sun was just topping the horizon as we were followed in by another police car and Karen’s mom’s old brown station wagon with all her brothers hunched over in the back. Both her mother and Ryan’s father arrived at the front dispatchers desk and waited to see a police officer to make their reports. Everyone’s parents were called and all of them arrived to get their children and something happened: Danny’s mom, crying, brought the necklace that was cut in pieces to report a claim herself…all our parents were very upset with all of us….as Danny’s mom came she showed the chopped up necklace to the sheriff and explained what she believed happened and pointed at Karen. None of us were going to say anything on any side… …but that necklace…it had started it all. The sheriff got with his officer and they put their heads together and much to everyone’s surprise they marched us all into the back room without our parents and lined us up against the wall and night officer, Red Trail, who weighed in at about 300 pounds at 5 feet 6″, walked up and down the line staring at all of us while Sheriff Parks followed him with an evil little smile. We all looked at the ground and shifted around nervously. “Waaal….ya’ll all been up to some shee-nanni-gans I think!” Drawled out old ‘Red’ in is best country boy…. “Any ya’ll wanna say anything about it?” Old Parks was grinning and looking RIGHT AT ME! I kept staring resolutely at the ground. Hank was looking at that locked steel door like he was ready to kill himself busting through it! They kept walking up and down the line…. “Whatchoo think we oughta dooo with ‘em Parks?” “Eh …..mebbe lock em all up til someone talks…I don’t know” “What are we gonna tell their parents???” Parks walked up to Mike, who I admired so much, and sneered at him, “I think imma smellin’ me some lighter fluid!…whatchoo think Red?” As Red walked up to Mike, who looked as stone faced as any king, I could not let him take the rap for my idea. I stepped forward out of the line and said, “Mike is a smoker sir. I burned the cross…it was all my idea” As I stepped forward so did the others and soon the whole story was out and the two lawmen were trying really hard not to laugh. “Seems like this one’s an easy one!” said Old Parks…..it’ll make him mad but call Judge Ramsey down heah….mebbe he will be laughin’ too!” They locked us all in one cell and called the judge. The Judge came. They let us out and with the judge present they brought us all before our parents…Old Parks told our parents, “Now Karen here destroyed sumpthin’ from your family worth more’n 50 dollars and that is a felony! And this here group committed arson and that is a felony! And that group over there committed assault and battery and we called an ambulance to come get Danny…” he looked at Danny’s mom…”Seems like he is gonna be alright but ‘better be sure cause I think he is hurtin’ by the looks of him!” He continued, “This is how it is folks, any yall wanna press charges we can bring our own cause all these MINORS,” and he stressed that word, “have committed felonies and we can see to it that those felonies stay on their records a long long time….OR…Y’all kin forget this ever happened and shake hands and go home. Judge Ramsey you are a WIT-ness! Do you agree?” Ramsey busted out laughing “Sure! I am in complete agreement!” Parks said it again, “So what y’all wanna do then?” Everyone looked at each other and did not say anything…Danny’s mom was crying and Karen was enjoying the whole thing and my Da looked like I was gonna catch hell for the next lifetime! All the parents glared at each other and, as the three lawmen grinned, they all collected their errant children and left the jail and not one suit or complaint was filed… …Years later Karen showed up at my parents door and asked for me. I happened to be visiting that day and I went to see her. She was merry and pregnant and I asked her what she wanted. She said. “Will you sleep with my husband cause I can’t right now I am too close and he is horny…” Some things never change. And the faintest echo I heard, “zummmm ghali ghali ghali….zummm” The Rez If you go west down Route 66 you come to a little town I call, “The Town that Time Forgot” and if you go six minutes farther you will reach the town of Concho, Oklahoma. That is Cheyenne/Arapaho country. People there, when I was young, still knew alot of the old ways and many many people had names from a language other than English.   There was a group of us that were not allowed into the circle of ‘Golden People’. That was an all white town back then and you had to be a certain way to be accepted and the locals could be brutal if you didn’t fit but, this was a better town than any I had lived in since the mapless town. The best part about it was the MANY people who did not ‘fit in’ and who were ‘social outcasts’ like me. By the time we were in high-school we were party animals.   I am going to dedicate this story to ‘Little Hawk’ because she inspired it.    Now most ALL ‘Okies’ have been to Anadarko and seen the fancy dancing and are very familiar with Native America because we lived, and live, in land that was once supposed to be a sovereign nation, within a nation. Technically Oklahoma is a Nation unto itself. A huge percentage of the people here who claim white ancestry are really not ‘pure white’ and, although most look pretty white if you were to genetics test a random sample of those who were here before the, ‘Boomer Sooners’ (Our Teams are named after the white guys) you might be shocked at how many people are really ‘mixed’. So when I say ‘all white town’ that was because everyone perceived it that way…and when we were young that included people from the reservation who had family who lived in town and went to our schools. No one ever mentioned the word ‘reservation’…that was the countryside where all the best parties happened because no one would arrest you. OK now maybe the ‘golden people’ had different ideas, I have no idea. But me and my friends were, lets just say when ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ came out we were like, “THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT US!” One of the cool things about being a social outcast in a town with a large number of social outcasts is the fact that all of us had an idea of each other…from the guy everyone called ‘Suger’ because they claimed they found him, at an FFA event, screwing his prize horse, to the girl who wore her pants twisted be cause she had a mild case of MS. We were a motley group of misfits. Children of violent alcoholics, ‘Earth Pigs’, ‘Butter-faces’, Geeks and Fry-brains and Orkies and even a few Shit-kickers who had too much acne. Stay FAR AWAY from the ‘Soch’ crowd was the name of the game. We had our own fun to make. We had our own parties. We did stuff they did not even have the brains to dream of! Time was when all of us would get invited out to ‘Two Moons’ father’s land to get soused and high and have an awesome time. His dad was the chief at the time. He used to live with his gramma, in town, sometimes to have an address to attend our school. He lived in the same neighborhood as Mojo, the guitar player, and if you were close enough in the party circle he would raid his dad’s peyote tea for you. We used to hang out with his sisters, (one of whom I would see years later working in the social security office when I applied for disability…she cried as we left the parking lot she we came just as she was leaving from work and we remembered the old days) Lots of guys were after the younger sister she was a very pretty girl and her brother was after the crazy blond party girl who lived across the street from Mojo…he would come up to her window at night and make her laugh. Those were such innocent days. No one cared. No one cared about ability, looks, origin, or any of that. We were a bunch of picked on kids who needed each other and we had so much fun! The day we were invited out was Two Moons 19th birthday. He had graduated and was a man now. I drove my white ice-cream truck with the rainbow pinstriping to go pick up some of the locals. I left the cab-over in case it rained. We used Highway 81 to get there because it was faster and we were not going into El Reno for cheap cigarettes that day. We had a whole ounce of Thai Stick and some massively awesome Colombian Gold. It had a little TOOO many seeds but it was still a great high. Back then there was no well defined sign or marker that said, “You are now entering from one nation to another”. We had our passport: Two moons and his sisters. It was way out in Okie Badlands. Rocked red roads and un-cut weeds and wildflowers of every native kind everywhere. When we left one nation and went into another it was clear something was different. Wildlife was not ‘controlled’. It felt different. It felt more free. We drove down the rock-red road to the double-wide trailer out on vast acres of REAL Oklahoma. I had a friend from Japan, Kainu, who was disappointed she did not see cowboys and Indians, when she got off the plane, at Will Rogers World Airport. People are like that. You might be getting ready to hear something different but when we got there the yard was mowed like any other yard. The trailer looked like any other trailer and we expected that. Two moons came out to the gate to meet us wearing a black T-shirt and jeans. He had long hair. So did most of the white guys. No big deal. You might be expecting that he had an accent.   He didn’t.   He sounded like we did.   Lots of people were already there, tailgating, and kegs of beer in huge trashcans of ice dominated the landscape. The smell of ganja was everywhere! The trailer was open so that people could use the bathroom but all the guests had been asked to stay out of the main house as his parents were there and they did not want to be disturbed. That was fine we had the same kind of parents too!   Of course not everyone’s parents were as cool as his were!   He came to the gate and opened it,   “Hi! I am really glad to see you guys!” Mojo said, “Did you convince Jennifer yet?” “Hahahaha…no she just keeps laughing through the screen.” “She likes you take the screen off and just climb in!” “Hmmmm….I might do that!”   The guys went on with their guy talk and we later learned he had done that one night after the party and Jennifer had a lovely baby girl…but that is another story…with a happy ending.     “You can park over there.” Two Moons indicated a space where there was room. “Here is your birthday present!” Mojo handed him the ounce of Thai Stick… “Hey thanks we will share this later with some of the tea!”   Two moons winked at us. We were in the ‘inner circle’. Mojo and he had grown up together. Never mind one was a white Czech kid from the poor side of town and one was Native American. They didn’t care. Tea! That meant…   ….AWESOME!!!!   The stuff was bitter and horrid and tasted and smelled like…You might be thinking we did rituals. We did not. You might be thinking alot of things but really we were a bunch of kids at a party and that was it.   …we chased it with orange juice. It came back up. We were ready for that too.   It is NOT like an acid high!   Yeah you hallucinate and all that but it feels more like…   I was looking INSIDE of myself.   As the night fell we dulled the effects of the peyote by passing around a pipe full of pot. It helped. The night fell and the moon was magical! It was ALIVE. The night was ALIVE. WE WERE ALIVE! Everything was sentient and everything was speaking and…I really have no words past that. I wanted to hike out on the wide expanse of land and no one stopped me. No one cared.   What can I tell you…when everything glows with an aura and seems to emanate light from WITHIN. No ghosts or spirits no…the earth WAS the spirit.   I really don’t remember the rest of the party all I remember is being under the stars and under the moon while the world glowed…   …softly around my travelling feet.   (For reasons best known only to me this is a compilation of two people and only the events themselves are real.) During these budding days of natural wild-life I had another side to me. The Geek. The Book-worm. When I was not at a party I was reading. I read everything. I read the ingredients of cereal boxes. I read the backs of shampoo bottles and I read one book a day, every day, from the age of 5 or 6 until I burnt out on reading ‘The Wheel Of Time’ series by Robert Jordan during the time I had radiation treatments. That is THOUSANDS of books. I can honestly say I have read, and forgotten, more than most people read in a life time. During these days there was another side to my life. I different ‘me’. A part of that ‘me’ was Tommy the Snowman. I know I had once made a vow to ‘stain men’s souls’ but, after the abortion, I had lost all interest in being remotely female. I hated being female. I did not have sex again until I met Tommy. In retrospect I should have kept him. He was a GOOD GUY. Yes he was a GUY. Yes he was sexual. But he was a GOOD GUY. He was the kind of guy that would work his ass off, pay your way and the movies, and buy you a house to live in. My parents LOVED him. I think they prayed every day that I would marry him. He lived in the same neighbourhood as my parents. He loved me. I did not love ANY men. I did not want them I did not want to marry them I did not want to be a mother. I wanted to BE a man. If I could not BE a pretty princess girl I wanted to BE a guy! The Snowman made me feel like a girl. He brought out the ‘girl’ in me and I hated that but it also attracted me. He never let me drive. He paid for every date. He brought me home on time. He could dance. He was one of the best looking guys ever with perfect white Chiclet teeth and the fine, symmetrical face of classic beauty. He had sky blue eyes. He made me feel so ugly standing next to him from his perfection and that was also a problem. He was one of the only guys I ever met who HONESTLY did not care more for a woman’s face and figure than he did for her soul… …and I was a 17 year old idiot. He drove a ‘Gremlin’. A red Gremlin and he and I were both super-geeks together. I met him at Dead Man’s Pond. I was hiking there and so was he. He smiled when he saw me coming up the trail… “Hi! What are you doing out here?” I looked at him smiling, “I am just kicking the dirt clods out of the way…what about you?” “Same thing, I saw you in the library at school. You were reading ‘Broca’s Brain’. You like Carl Sagan?” “Yes I do I have read every book he has written thus far!” “I know you live nearby I saw you get off the school bus. You don’t have a car yet?” “No not yet they are too expensive.” “No problem I can come around and start driving you to school.” That was AWESOME. Only LOSER kids had to ride the bus and I HATED cars! I had to say yes to this guy! “YES! Thank you! Come home and meet my mom!” We walked back to my parent’s house together and he reached out and grabbed my hand and he had a nice warm hand and he didn’t try anything else. I smiled at him and he went into my parents house with me and met my mom and she liked him instantly. He did something unheard of for me after my mother and he had talked for a while. “May I take your daughter out on a date? Wizards is playing at the local theatre.” I think maybe my mom and I both almost passed out. My mom said “yes!” FOR me! She even helped me get ready for the date! I had a REAL ‘boyfriend’. I continued to keep my world of The Snowman and the world of The Party SEPARATE. Each universe had it’s own compartment in my head. Magic Mushrooms Geo’, myself, Ryan, Mo-jo, Steve, and Danny all decided to try out ‘shrooms for the first time in Steve’s second story apartment in the city. We purchased these plastic baggies full of dry, stinky, already-been-chewed-by-a-cow textured dark lumps of extreme bitter taste that we chased down with orange juice which came right back up the same place it went in not too many minutes later it seemed….utterly nauseating! Then we all sat in a circle in his tiny living-room with the green Naugahyde chair and the couch he found by the side of the road that had been someone’s trash and we put on a Black Sabbath album and ‘Planet Caravan’ began to play on the cheap plastic turntable….He had a coupla lava lamps and some freaky Jimi Hendix and Pink Floyd posters on the walls and we sat there and waited for something to happen…Just when we were sure we had been gypped I felt it come on like the surf! Ryan was surrounded by a green glow and the others were like dead people with no light at all. Geo’s face was ticcing without any control and every thirty seconds he looked at me and said, “Are You Alright?” “Are You Alright?” “Are You Alright?” “Are You Alright?” Then he would laugh a choppy weird laugh, “HA-HA-HA-HA!” like some robot and ask again, “Are you alright?” Suddenly The Snowman was there too but what was he doing there he did not run with this pack? Suddenly I could hear the cars driving by on the road one story below us and as each car passed it occurred to me I could HEAR the CONVERSATIONS in them! I looked at my companions…all speechless except for Geo’ and I. This was NOTHING like an acid high! Acid highs were nothing to me even while everyone around me was seeing weird stuff I was too but a part of me always remained unaffected by acid. It was like I was split in two… …THIS staggered me! I had NO CONTROL! NONE! I was terrified. It was FUNNY! Planet Caravan played all night long as spirits moved among us and within us and there was nothing we could do as the one in me sneered and said, “You know you are an animal. Everyone here is an animal.” Geo had a bible by the lamp and a picked it up…I began to read it and as I read about the snake and Eve it seemed that God was the one who was unfair! I quickly dropped the book as if it were on fire! This went against everything I ever learned! “ANIMALLLLLLL!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! I will SHOW you go in the kitchen and get a knife?” I went in the kitchen….I had never been in his kitchen….like an arrow shot from a bow I went straight to the right drawer! I looked at them….sharp carving knives. Then time fled and I was once more in the living room with all of them yet Ryan was missing! Did I kill him? Did it matter if I did? That part of me that had control at all times was sitting in a corner of my mind as numb as an ice-cube and was as terrified as some bound and tortured prisoner that was shrinking to a dot! I needed a shower. The rest were like statues in a room bound to their chairs unable to move…giggling hysterically…I was the only one who could get up…they were laughing at me…I went in the bathroom and tried to wash off the filth but it would not wash off…the water felt like air and needles. There was no hot or cold…I got out of the shower….was I wearing clothes? Was my hair wet? I looked in the mirror. I was looked sopping wet and felt like I had been in the middle of a desert all day! WATER! DRINK WATER! Taste nothing!!!!!!! FEEL nothing….! Walk? Back into the other room after some hours lost in a black iris where animals screamed and Planet Caravan still played on! Now each one was locked in their own insanity and still unable to move. I tried to reach her. I tried to teach her in that teachable moment. She almost could SEE! I had tried before when she was younger and she had run away.  Ryan had reappeared. he was standing by the couch and I saw his hand going THROUGH the solid matter. he looked at me…terrified. he was a magician and made things disappear but this was REAL! No TRICKS! I gave Geo the butcher knife from the kitchen. He giggled at me. I told him to read the bible and see what happened. He picked it up and began to read and then THREW it across the room! “Do you SEE now?” I asked him….The knife was gone now and the sound was slowing down and time itself was slowing down.This ride was a lesson then….a lesson of the depths to which the human mind can plunge and as I had fallen before so I fell again and felt no bottom to fall upon….I would have to ride this one out as I laughed at them all so helpless there and so funny and something in my mind whispered as the trip faded out into morning. The Snowman looked sad as the waves of hyper-brain washed out and the whisper of that voice from my childhood sneering at me, “Animal….animal……..animal……….aaannnimaalllllll………………………” Algebra He came and picked me up in his little brown pacer. We were quiet in the way to his parents house we did not know what to say and anyway his face kept making that small odd tic like a half-smile…not at all offensive but defiantly odd. He was odd. I was odd…we were all odd back in those days. The top of his head hit the velour covering the metal to the car top itself even denting it. He was well over six feet tall and sooooooo skinny. He had long brown stringy hair that is the fashion these days, called ‘bed head’ but back then it was not in fashion where we were….even the local hippies combed their hair. He looked like he belonged in another century or even another world. It was almost as if, through the jeans and the brown leather jacket there was a swirling black cape and a buckled on sword. He was, by the standards of the world, an ugly fellow, but I was also and both of us were not ugly in the sense of…hideous…more ugly in the sense of…no one looked even remotely like us and therefore there was no template in which they way we looked would fit. He put his arm out on the seat and without words I just slid over underneath it as if that was the most natural place to be. But that did not work so well with the stick shift and somehow that was funny and we both began to laugh. We were still laughing when we pulled up to his parent’s house. His parents acted very odd. His mother was already old and I deduced that this only son of hers was a miracle child to her. She seemed so incredibly grateful that I was there as if no woman would ever want him. Did I want tea? Coffee? She made me stay for supper. His dad was also an older fellow who seemed lost as a human figure. It was as if he was a part of the furniture and when I greeted him he made a grunting sound and that was all….after we ate the cool spring evening was falling and we went into the backyard and there on the clothes line perched a completely free, un-caged crow. He was a BIG crow. Finally he said something, “Are you cold?” “Yes a little….” And he opened up his jacket and I leaned back against him and my head hit his chest and I am five feet 8 inches tall. He was the tallest man I ever knew. He put the jacket around both of us and he called to the crow softly…almost a whisper “Algebra!” The crow flew over and landed on his right shoulder…it began to play with his hair with its beak. It then proceed to make its way to the top of my head and down to my shoulder and I was amazed that this wild creature chose to stay with him. Then the crow began to play with my hair sometimes picking a strand of it out which hurt and made me jump and made him laugh and then me too and it seemed like an eternity we stood there like that… …no words… …watching the sun go down. As it got cooler we went back in and his mother seemed overjoyed…almost demented with it. He looked very embarrassed…she let us even go to his room and shut the door. Then he said the oddest thing. “I have never made love before…do you want to?” I was a mix of emotions. I was not attractive nor did I feel it. He was not attractive and I knew he did not feel it…it was almost as if he was just wanting to do something…like he HAD to…But it was nice being in his arms earlier and we were a match of sorts if an odd one and…why not? I was not a virgin…I knew what to do…even though it had been some years since the last time and I had made that vow that I would sleep with everyone I could it had not worked out that way yet. “Sure! Let’s do it!” So we did not talk as I took of his shirt and revealed that super skinny frame and he took off mine and it was obvious I was flat chested. Both of us with an acne condition. There was no disco music to make me shine…no dance no makeup no props to hide either of our realities and as he looked at me as we got down to our underwear he began to laugh…at first I was very mad at him but then I began to look at him and with the face ticking and the skinny body and I, too, began to laugh. Soon it became uncontrollable and soon we were howling with laughter and hugging each other in our underwear and pounding each other on the back and crying with laughter and he fell back on the bed totally NOT turned on but then neither was I. Finally the laughter died a bit and I said, sort of choking still, “S-s-tand..up…l-let-ts try to kiss.” He stood up and we tried the standard romance hug with kiss and just as we were about to touch lips his face twitched and he started to laugh again and he said, “You have something green stuck on your tooth…” We were off again!!!!!! We laughed so hard I fell asleep in his arms on the bed and I guess he did too…About an hour and a half later we woke up and he and I got dressed but something had changed…there was a bond between us…after that we hung out many times and always he was like a lover with me as if it was our own little secret about the reality. As I left his house that night and he took me home we held hands and grinned as if we had done something and we had done nothing at all and he was still a virgin yet SOMETHING had linked us. One day he disappeared. Sometime after that I saw a crow at the Sonic drive in. It was a big crow. It looked at me and it asked me without any words for my burger bun… “Algebra????” …I stuck my hand out the window and he flew up and perched on my wrist. I got out and I saw Katrina, who was one of the band groupies, and she saw me too and came over…By this time Algebra was on my shoulder and pulling out pieces of my hair. I knew it was Algebra…but Algebra was free? He might be here right now or anywhere he was never in a cage…. “WOW!” Katrina exclaimed, “You must be magical!” “No”, I laughed, “this is Algebra….Geo’s crow.” Her face changed then and she said, “You heard about Geo?” “No…what about him?” “No one ever knew but he had this genetic disease and he died a few months ago.” She said goodbye and walked back to her friends in their car. Algebra was still waiting on my shoulder for the bun. I stuck out my arm as many people watched in amazement and the crow sidled down my arm and I looked in those eyes and saw INTELLECT! “Geo…” I whispered…and held out the bread and he took it and flew away. The Second Time It happened because of The Kama Sutra. It was a misunderstanding. You see Geeks read EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING! I had never told Tommy about my ‘other’ life but he found out somehow and he confronted me about it. I told him the truth that I never had sex with any of those guys and he asked me if I was a virgin and I told him the truth about that too. He looked sad. I always felt weird going to his house. His father was un-involved and his mother was non-existent. They had weaponry from the martial arts all over the house and while he never told me I was sure he and his father were probably both black-belts. After some months I was able to get the information from him that she had died of cancer. He did not want to talk about it. He hardly shared anything about his personal life at all. It bugged me but I allowed him that privacy and I did not pick at him anymore after he told me about his mother. His father was gone the day it happened and we went to his house to study. “Can you do my math for me? I HATE it.” He was laughing, “No you have to LEARN!” “I have tried to learn all my life it doesn’t work!” “OK I will explain it to you one step at a time.” We went through the algebra problem and he explained it ONE BABY STEP AT A TIME.” “OK now you do the next one.” I tried but all the things he told me went into a huge tangled mess. He was exasperated! “NO! NO! This way…lets try again.” No matter how many times we took those baby steps together we ended up in the same place. Finally he just did my assignment for me. We started to talk about the things we read lately and I told him I found a book in the library about the Kama Sutra. He got a weird look on his face that was almost angry and I did not understand why. “So you READ it?” “Yes I READ it what’s the problem?” Without warning he had me tied up like a human pretzel. It was a good thing I was limber and athletic. Guys were always like this. He looked really MAD! “You READ the book?” “Yes I READ the book…why are you angry? Hey can you let me go?” I was in a very embarrassing position and being tied up that way was not easy to mentally wrap my head around. “Hey listen just let me go and do whatever you want I don’t care.” That made him MORE angry! At least I still had my clothes on! “OK I will if you can tell me the name of the position you are tied in now?” “Why do you need to know that? I just told you I read a book about the Kama Sutra.” “ABOUT the Kama Sutra?” “Yes ABOUT” He started to laugh and untied me. He was laughing so hard. I was mad at him. “Why are you laughing? It was a history article about MONKS in the mountains who wrote poetry and made illus…” He still had the rope part of the nun-chucks he had used to tie me up with in one hand when he suddenly had his arms around me and was kissing me. We ended up is a wild tangle all over the floor with clothes flying everywhere and it was so much DIFFERENT than the first time almost five years earlier! After it was over I asked him why he was angry. He said, “I thought you were lying to me. I hate liars. You can’t READ the Kama Sutra it is a book full of the illustrations of sex positions. Here I have a copy.” He showed me and I was astonished the human body could do all that! I was also not sure I wanted to be the girlfriend of a guy who was so quickly angry! Skyhook It was the last two years of High-school. The principle had told my parents I was not going to graduate and I had to go to summer school and two years of trade school in addition to the regular subjects. This was on account of being kicked so much by the ‘golden people’ and readily accepted by the nerds , geeks, and fry-brains. When guys bark at you from the back of class everyday and you quit crying and start making trouble you also start losing your grade point average. In subjects I liked I scored A’s without breaking a sweat. In subjects I did not like I read Shakespeare behind the other book in class or drew pictures of the teachers….some of them not so flattering. One year I had a crush on a math teacher SO BAD I actually tried but it was WAAAAY too late! I DID make him a cake! A green mint flavoured cake! I was very proud of that cake! It must have weighed about ten pounds! (Da said my pancakes sat in the stomach like concrete.) No boxed ANYTHING! ALL from SCRATCH! He took one bite and got this strange look on his face and quickly took the cake to the teachers lounge. Poor thing. I swiped a bit of frosting before he took it and I guess I put WAAAAYYYY too much mint in it! Should have tasted it first! There was that day I was SOOOOOO bored in his class and he was SOOOOOO handsome with his curly blond hair and blue eyes that I drew him…..ahem….Yes lets just say I drew him….it was not until I was in college years later that we drew nudes from models and everyone in the class was a volunteer model! (Hey it was ten bucks an hour and only the coolest people did it!) The LOOK on his face when he got that picture!!!!!! OOOOOooooooo!!!!!! I just STARED at him and shortly after that was recommended for trade school. I WANTED to be a Draftsman! But Da said only men did that and I should pick something else so naturally I picked graphic arts. John Hawkins…He was an OLD man and we learned how to run the huge industrial cameras like the Brown 1000 and we learned the printers arts and how to burn plates and set them on the press rolls. I LOVED it! My first job out of High-school was as a pressman! That was when I learned to smoke too! There is a photo of me somewhere with short, curly golden hair and baggy jeans and a huge shirt that hung to my knees outside a factory smoking a Marlboro somewhere….But to get back to my first semester there. ‘Vo. Tech’ is what they called it…short for Vocational Technology. People were learning how to be welders there and car mechanics and all manner of things! At the first of the semester I was the only girl in the class. Mr. Hawkins daughter worked for him and he told me, in front of the whole class, could I please go to the aviation mechanics class and get him a ‘sky hook’? His daughter smiled at me and went back to grading. I said, “Sure!” …and walked out. Well it took me while to find the mechanics garage as I was new and did not know the layout yet. I asked for the teacher there, almost overpowered by the smell of oil, and over the noise of testing engines I yelled at him, “SIR! DO YOU HAVE A SKYHOOK! MR! HAWKINS WANTS ONE!” “NO!” He yelled back, “I LOANED IT TO THE TEACHER AT THE CAR MECHANICS GARAGE!” “WHERE IS THAT!” He pointed a direction and went back to work….SOOOOOO I went to see if THAT guy had it! I finally found him and it was not so loud but still that familiar smell of oil and grease and I asked him, He thought a moment and went over to someone and then said, “One of my students took that over to metal fabrication.” “Where is that sir?” He pointed and off I went…..I found that place and the teacher there was laughing, wondering what was so funny I asked him if he had the ‘sky hook’? “No young lady I don’t have the sky hook.” He started laughing again. It was very hot in his section and smelled like burning aluminum like when we burned beer cans in campfires because of the pretty colours that happened. “Ok sir where is it?” By this time I was suspicious and exasperated! “I sent one of my boys to take it over to Mr. Hawkins. “OK.” …I was pissed now. I left there and went back to the part of the school that housed the ‘daintier’ arts and as I opened the door Mr. Hawkins looked up. The class was very quiet and the students were working on designs for caps and T-shirts for the Vo-Tech School. about 30 or 40 fellows in there all busily drawing or quietly working the huge cameras the size of stoves. I loudly interrupted them all and they stared at me as I said, “Mr. Hawkins SIR. I want you to show me that sky hook NOW!” Everyone started to snicker under their breath…. “NOW! Show me the damn skyhook NOW!” Mr. Hawkins looked appalled and the guys shut up! I was furious at this point. “Mr. HAWKINS! WHERE IS THE EFFING SKYHOOK!” “Please…. let’s go outside the classroom…” he said looking alarmed, So I went out and he followed,”There is no skyhook. That was a joke. I am sorry…we play it on everyone new.” He actually looked sorry but I was too furious to care, “You pathetic son-of-a……” Turning my back I walked off and went outside and started hiking home….the bus driver saw me and picked me up half way back to town when classes were over. Vo. Tech. was in the middle of farmlands in between two towns and it was 8 miles back to Bohemia! The next day I went into class…he apologized again and said he never met anyone with as short a fuse as I had before. The guys left me ALONE after that…except for my buddy Dean who worked in the mechanics section…later two other girls joined the class! Moon and the girl Tamara from the Ranch Town! It was a bad start but it was a grand two years I spent there…and passed with flying colours! There was a place we used to go to try to catch THEM in the act! We called that place ‘Devil Worship’. It was off I-92 and you turned right by a little honky tonk bar just off a dirt road. We would go down that dirt road in our cars. We wanted to see if we could catch those devil worshipers in action! Standing around a big bon-fire in their devil robes and hoods! We would get REALLY stoned on sheesha and drive out that black-top and make that turn and go, slowly, down that double-rut dirt trail til we came to a cattle guard in the middle of a fence near a hand painted, wooden sign that said, “KEEP OUT! TRESPASSERS CAN BE SHOT!” We would TRESPASS! That dirt road wound under untrimmed trees that made a gloomy, scary tunnel arch and orange bag-weave spiders had webs strung all the way across the road if it was in the Fall season! We could feel the skin on our necks prickle up as the cars made their way into breaking each spiders web! We went so slowly that the spiders sometimes crawled on the windshields and any girls with us would scream and grab their boy-friends and hang on tight…. ….which is one reason why we went there. *grins* But we also went to CATCH THE DEVIL WORSHIPERS IN THE ACT! “Mojo don’t bogart that!” “Hey I am driving! Geo give her the pipe OK?” Geo passed the pipe to me. Blond Hash. “Hey turn here this is it!” We turned. We had Led Zepplin in the eight track and the tape suddenly stuck and started to play backwards! The bar was empty of cars and the evening was suddenly cold. Chills shot through me! “Turn it off Mojo it’s creepy!” We had been at a party that same year. We had listened to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ backwards on a turn-table and the studio version DID have the words, “My sweet Satan” on it! That had scared us badly and we immediately broke the album in pieces! Mojo turned the 8-track off and we went the rest of the way in silence and we passed the trespass sign and there were NO animal sounds at all around us as the sun set and the gloom under the deep Black Oaks grew stronger. We were in devil worship land! I took a hit and held the smoke in deep. It made me a little dizzy and I handed the pipe back to Mojo and he lit it again. Geo yelled suddenly, “LOOK! HOLY SMOKES LOOK!” His voice seemed to be sucked up by the gloom even while he yelled. We looked and there in the bushes, on the fence line, were two men in white hoods and robes! They were running at us! “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE! They are AFTER us!” Mojo did not even bother to turn the car around he backed up as fast as he could and we dropped the pipe in the floor boards somewhere and the two devil worshipers stood in the road like evil guardians watching us run! It was not until YEARS later we learned that the KKK met there and that they were ‘Clan’. Wreck In The Graveyard Always did have a hair trigger temper. Sometimes I went a little crazy! I pulled up in the high-school parking lot in my tiny blue Honda in Bohemia. I could see the others had already arrived. Someone had spray-painted the words “BDSM sucks” on the the brick wall at the school entrance but still I had managed to talk Mr. Mott, the school principle, into letting us practice there. I had my guitar and was ready to go and Darla said we needed some beer and could I go get it. I told her I had promised Mr. Mott that we would not do drugs or drink on school property…Darla called me a “pussy’ and so I grabbed the two six packs of beer from her hands and strode out into the farm field by the graveyard across the street from the school and made her follow me to get the beer and drink it. That graveyard I had spent alot of time in and it was a pretty place…quiet and serene with two HUGE Oaks at the entrance and nothing else…I was too pissed off to notice the graveyard this time! “Dammit stop walking so fast! If you take all the beer out here they will smoke all the weed without us!”….she was pissed! I snapped back, “So let them get arrested then I want no part of any trouble we are IN CITY LIMITS….DUH!!!!!” She grabbed the beer from me and headed back…Black haired little fireball that gave one fellow a bloody nose and went after another one with a ball-peen hammer when he tried to date-rape her…she was FAMOUS…she was five feet nothing and weighed about 90 pounds! I let her stalk off and I sulked in the field and tried to let nature heal me as it always did before I went back. Everyone was already set up. They had set me up also and we were ready to go and after a few songs we took a break and she was mad cause they would not let her sing any ‘Pat Benetar’ songs…At that time I was not yet married to the bass player and she and I got into it and finally, with everyone drunk or stoned or both, she told me I had put a ring in my boyfriends nose and now he was good-for-nothing! SHEESH! Mojo was the one wearing the RING…NOSE ring…SLAVE collar…damn little dominatrix wench! I was pissed. I was crazed and mad and my LOVER did not even bother to defend me! I was gonna end it! What a load of BS this night was and it was gonna END! I stalked out and got in the Honda. I keyed it and screeched out of the parking lot. No one gave a damn or came outside. GOOD! SCREW ‘EM! There was a road right alongside the high-school leading into town…it led right into the entrance to the graveyard with the sentinel trees…It was dark out now and moonless and hot with summer…that road was long enough….yes …As I had done when I was a child racing into the freshly plowed fields in the dark with my eyes closed to embrace Fear like a friend so I did now and revved the tiny motor at the far end of the street and aimed my little blue Honda at the huge oak tree on the right side of the graveyard….I planned to smash and die. At about 50 miles an hour or so I entered the dirt road into the graveyard and the little car BUCKED UP! What the….???? The hood buckled in seconds and the windshield smashed in, covering me with glass and the car stopped dead just a few inches from the tree! …Shit! There was nothing wrong with me! What had stopped the car??? There was no gate! No fence! Nothing! Why??? What???? I heard sirens coming in with the Doppler sounds as they raced in closer and knew I was in some deep ‘doo-doo’! What to DO DO! OK THINK…Ok when they get here I will conveniently have amnesia! So I waited patiently and tried to look ‘vacant’…A man ran up and asked me if I was OK…I said, “I think so..” “What is your name?” “I don’t know.” “Ok I called the ambulance and they are just pulling in..” “OK…” I carefully got out and brushed the glass from my clothing as the cops pulled up and the ambulance and they determined I was physically OK but mentally deranged…I suppose I was just not how they thought! The cops searched the car for my ID which had been thrown in the back along with alot of other debris and I looked at the car….a thick cable cut the car in two, horizontally, like a crazy grin and the buckled hood sneered at my pathetic attempt to off myself! This cable was attached to a new chain-link fence and in the flashing lights I saw the cement making shapes that told me it was not completely dry yet stuck on the ends of the anchor poles!!!!! Me and my little Honda had yanked up that metal fence out of the ground and dragged it 200 feet!!!! It has just been installed that evening by the city!!!!!! Laws are like fences…sometimes they keep us from killing ourselves! …I am alive today because of a chain link fence. I asked Ryan to marry me…after Tommy left me because I was so…I guess the best way to explain it is like this: Ryan was a ‘bad guy’…it wasn’t so much that he was the most beautiful he was not even close…I had the most beautiful many years later…but I had not met him yet to love him…Something about those brown eyes snagged me…Brown eyes were rare in these parts then. Lanky, lambhu tall with laughing eyes and a delightful liars smile….he was the ultimate trickster. He could pull quarters out of your ears and make kabootar disappear in thin air…he was a real life Magician. He was also the only person in 1000 miles who knew anything about SW Asia. It was a common interest…he for the Djinni and me for the archaeology and history. We were not each others type…but we could not help it we fell in love at the local disco…I stayed faithful to him for three years until I married him when I was 19. Welcome to the world of drugs and alcohol. Not the experiments that were a one time thing…but the daily events of pushing and buying. Welcome to the world of Rock and Roll…Vitame Vas from the post-card of Oklahoman Bohemia… Sometimes the loves of my life come back to haunt me. I cannot forget any of them. There are days they are stars in my empty skies and nights they are mountains that crush my soul…but I loved with all of me every time. You never lose love…it stays with you. It was not until much later in life that the wisdom of ‘staying a rose’ became preferable to what was already too late to forget. You see you never forget love. Every love you ever had walks through dreams and memories and when you are young and strong and healthy it seems so easy to hunt down another one…maybe this one will make you forget????? It does not work that way. Like diamonds on rusty chains that bind you for eternity they mock you with the unreachable glow of what was… …how I envy the innocent. Youth believes it wants and desires ‘THE ONE’…age knows that when you get ‘the one’ that one becomes a human being and like a house you rent that is awesome for two weeks becomes tainted with time as the flaws and cracks become evident to it’s inhabitant…and yet when we leave the house we cry over every bit of chipped sheet rock…we may never tell anyone or we may tell the world but you cannot dump your brain like you can your desktop. He was a ‘bad-guy’. With him I learned about the world of deception and police officers beating him and cuffing him and carrying him off and how he made them so angry with his Houdini-like knowledge of Yoga: They could never handcuff him and it made him laugh so they beat him while he cussed them. The part of him the world never saw was the part that cried over a missing mother and a broken family and a kind of hopelessness that was unrelenting. How we could dance! How his smile flashed in the mirrored lights! How drunk I was as I walked up the church isle to say the words in front of the priest and how much I loved him he never knew. One year together and we were divourced. I asked him and I divourced him and learned too much about how my mother delighted in every divource and how she lived her desire through me in each one…I was and am still the needed vessel. He hit me. no one does that and walks off scot free. I would strip tease to make money for him. I would let him drive me to see clients… I would do anything for him but let him hit me. I got a letter from him from Lexington. he won’t be leaving until he is 65. ‘Pulled one too many a gun in shoot-outs with the cops…stole one too many bags of dope… …but once upon a time when the world was young he smiled at me and pulled a quarter from my ear. You never forget who you have loved. Never. Here, in America, when I was a teen, unless you ‘declared your intent’ for someone, IN PUBLIC, you were free to date, sleep with or ‘do’ whoever you wanted to ‘do’. The Snow-man was ‘old school’ like my Da. One of the last raised that way where I came from. He was old school by American standards anyway and he pretty much considered me his property and my parents LOVED him so he needed no invitation to the house. He could even walk in without knocking as if he lived there! The only thing was… …he didn’t want to tell the world I was his like all the other Kids did. That made me MAD! Like I had said before I kept my life with the band and my life with my family separate, at this point, and also the men in both separate. Any men who have ever tried to do that with two women will understand, immediately, what happened next! There were several issues going on at the same time. One: I thought I was pregnant again, (I wasn’t but I was late), Two: Tommy the Snow-man was the father! Three: Ryan was alot more romantic than Tommy and alot more interesting. He could do magic tricks and pull quarters out of my ears and he was in THE BAND! He was a REBEL like ME! Also he was no so intimidatingly beautiful like Tommy! I had to act FAST! If I could get a wedding up in two months or less??? Could I? The Snow-man was not asking me to marry (even though everyone was kind of agreed that would happen in the future we never talked about it.) One day the Snow-man took me to this FANCY place to have sex that had chandeliers and a spiral stair-case and brocade bedspreads on the beds in the rooms and a vaulted ceiling! While we were making ‘love’ (?) I had my eyes closed and I drifted off and kinda stopped thinking. For some reason I could never relax with him enough to enjoy it. I thought there was something wrong with me. While I was drifting while he did his thing I was thinking of Ryan and I dancing at Starship Nine, the local disco. I sort of started to imagine that Tommy was Ryan and when he ‘came’ I said Ryan’s name. Now THAT was a moment for the history books! He looked like he didn’t know quite what to say. Neither did I. We had never really TALKED about love or even being faithful it was just this sort of unspoken family expectation that we would one day marry. No one ever taught me I could tell a man ‘No’. He looked at me really weird and then tried to make a joke out of it as if I had been the one to wrestle him to the floor! “Well…” he sort of smiled and looked surprised and sad both at once, “…you can’t rape the willing.” I sensed that this compartment of my life was about to close. We got in his Gremlin and he said nothing when we drove home except to dedicate this song, by ELO, to me and he even sang it and I never realized what it meant until he was gone: “I see the lonely road that leads so far away, I see the distant lights that left behind the day But what I see is so much more than I can say And I see you midnight blue. I see you cryin’ now you’ve found a lot of pain, And what you’re searchin’ for can never be the same, But what’s the difference cos’ they say what’s in a name. And I see you midnight blue. I will love you tonight, and I will stay By your side, But lovin’ you, I’m feelin’ midnight blue. I see you standing there far out along the way, I want to touch you but the night becomes the day, I count the words that I am never gonna say And I see you midnight blue. I will love you tonight, and I will stay By your side, But lovin’ you, I’m feelin’ midnight blue. Can’t you feel the love that I’m offering you, Can’t you see how it’s meant to be, Can’t you hear the words that I’m saying to you, Can’t you believe like I believe, It’s only one and one it’s true Still I see you midnight blue. I see beautiful days and I feel beautiful ways But loving you, Everything’s midnight blue. So I will love you tonight, and I will stay By your side, But….lovin’ you, I’m feelin’ midnight blue. That was the last night we were ever together. He came by the next day to return some things and by some strange coincidence Tommy, the blue-eyed clean cut apple-pie American boy showed up at my parents door at the same time a long dark haired Bohemian hippie-musician showed up and I was in the bedroom and Da answered the door and he looked at them both and I could hear how mad he was, “SHANI! YOU HAVE A MESS HERE! COME CLEAN IT UP!” In the following days I was sure I was pregnant. I was on the desperate end of a weird insanity and while we were all at the band room and the band was taking a break, to smoke some weed, I looked at Ryan and said, “Marry me?” He said, “Sure.” One of the more unusual things about this situation is that the BAD guy was not pushy about sex and the GOOD guy was. That was how I ended up dating someone and not DOING anything…Yeah we messed around some but we never DID anything! But he was super intelligent and smart and romantic and, yeah, OK he was kind of a little on the femme side and even people said he was gay, (he wasn’t), but he was so smart! He was a perfectionist too and I would learn all kinds of things watching him practice bass-playing until he had Geezer Butler’s licks down PERFECTLY. He would take the time to teach me which gave him an excuse to touch me and assure the world he was not at all gay he was just… …HE WAS A VIRGO! I was a Sagittarian and in some ways maybe we were doomed from the start. When he was not playing in the band he would pick me up and I would help him do performances as a magicians assistant. I learned alot of the tricks that way, (and no I will not tell any of them), except you need AWESOME hand-eye coordination and a great ability to ‘misdirect’ people’s attention. My Da hated him. So did my mom. When I was dating him I had no idea what he was like as a married person and no reference for marriage outside of my parents, who were miserable, but if I was going to have a kid the kid should have a father and at this point no one knew, but me, what the real situation was. When I asked him to marry me and he said yes I told my mom I was pregnant and she got the whole ball rolling even though she hated him and his family pulled out their part too and we had a nice church wedding with 400 guests. Before the wedding I went to see a doctor about the baby and he said, “You are not pregnant you have a divided uterus and some other problems and…” …as he explained I sort of tuned him out. I wasn’t pregnant. I was about to be married the same week and I was not pregnant! The day I married I had a Princess Diana style gown and as I walked up the isle they played a song from the band ‘Bread’ “If a picture paints a thousand words Then why can’t I paint you? The words will never show The you I’ve come to know If a face could launch a thousand ships Then where am I to go? There’s no one home but you You’re all that’s left me too And when my love for life is running dry You come and pour yourself on me If a man could be two places at one time I’d be with you Tomorrow and today Beside you all the way If the world should stop revolving Spinning slowly down to die I’d spend the end with you And when the world was through Then one by one the stars would all go out Then you and I would simply fly away” I was as drunk as a lord! I, and the brides-maids, downed a bottle of scotch in the dressing room before we came out. We did the “I do” parts and it hit me, “I don’t have to do this,” But it was too late and the guests were there and all of the expectations and… History…it always repeats itself and I had to watch my only great grand-daughter go through these things she had chosen and forgotten she had chosen. Her arranged marriage was on hold while she lived an entire human life that was hardly a night’s dream in the world she belonged in…yet she persisted in this. Had she spoken with my first wife?  3) Ryan the Magician and Thief (First incident with police where he pisses them off with yoga) 4) Honeymoon Night (Never saw one that big in my LIFE!) (Sex with him was maybe like having a baby) (I fix the car becauase he does not know a damn thing about solenoids or dirty spark plugs) 5) Gypsie packs up once more and moves to the city. 6) Bloody foot Waltz These stories will be added in at a later date…main themes are 1) Guys watch too much porno and think size is everything (it isn’t). 2) When women become like men the opposite also happens 3) Don’t marry because you HAVE to in order to ‘do the right thing’….if you DO the right thing in the FIRST place you won’t have to get married to ‘do the right thing!’…. One of the most difficult things I have ever had to come to terms with, in my life, is the very real fact that people love beauty over a sinless state. When I have lived in sin I have been popular, had fun, been complimented and told “That was the best you ever looked you WERE so beautiful then!” The nation was on the cusp of the ‘oil bust’ and a HUGE recession! The economic bite was being felt all over, even before it occurred, as the SAME jobs I had trained for in Vo. Tech. began to go out of business as one pressure control company after another bit the red dirt. Otis was purchased by Halliburton during this time. Many men lost their jobs. My father did not lose his he was too valuable to the Oil Industry. His reputation extended beyond the company he worked for. After High School I was working at a small print shop when the oil bust happened. All the work we had was from Oil. It was not long and I was laid off and asked Ryan to marry me. At first his dad hired me to paint billboard signs alongside highway 40 and 44. Sometimes I would do drafts designs and bidding for jobs but I was not very good at that. My strong suit was the actual work itself. He had a BIG truck with a hydrolic lift and a ‘cherry-picker’ at the top but it was old. I started working for him when the hydrolics failed once and the previous fellow busted his head so bad he could not work anymore. We did not do anything fancy. Today signs have alot more computer gadgetry about them but back then we often had to hand paint numbers and letters. A skill to learn while high in the air on a catwalk in any weather but rain. I was pretty good at it. When we would break we would sit on the bottom bars of the sign and smoke. Sometimes I would slide the plastic off the cigarette package and catch any flies who DARED to land on MY lunch and put them in the plastic and roll the top and burn a hole through the plastic and fill the small space with smoke and watch the flies get very high and then let them go…they were not interested in my food after that. Halliburton purchased Otis Engineering and many lost their jobs but not me Da…even with no college education he had invented some things in the industry that impressed people….that and he was an excellent salesman…but soon the work dropped off even in this family run sign business and there was no work to be done. My husband was no good at finding work until he found ME work…… ..…..as a dancer. Dancer My first husband and I drove up to the glitzy building covered with a pink neon, “Ooo La La” sign that blinked and flashed like a Hollywood movie theatre. Ryan told me I could be a great entertainer as I was already a trained and accomplished dancer. He told me to go while he stayed in the car because they did not like girls to be married there. I had to admit I was curious and that was my nature. I thought I should do this thing so I might write about it later in some great book and had no idea I would be writing about it like I am now. I pushed the heavy, ornate doors open slowly and peeked inside. There were a few businessmen dressed in very expensive suits being waited on by scantily clad girls carrying drink trays. It was dark and filled with smoke and dark wood paneling on the walls. All very fancy. This was known as the most prestigious club in the city where only the richest men went. It was during the very LAST days of the Oil Boom and my Da was now a big time consultant for Halliburton but I had asked a loser to marry me so I was out of the family for the present. A short sweet woman with short curly hair came up wearing not much more than a thong and heels and a smile. One breast was much larger than the other one. “I am the House Mother” she said with a grin, “If you are looking for work you can go up those stairs to your right.” I smiled back at her, unsure, and went up the stairs. Dark wood also and at the top a door with a dimly lit office behind it and a fellow I never can, even to this day, recall except he was Asian. He was totally uninterested in me and asked if I could work nights and weekends. I said “yes” and I asked about the ad in the paper, “It says you pay 10.00 an hour for good dancers..” he laughed and sneered, “You can make ALOT more money than that and we don’t pay anything. You are your own businesswoman and we get a commission of everything you make. You can make as much money as you are WILLING to make…” He trailed off with a leer on his face and looked at me with a kind of scorn…as if he did not think I could do the job. That made me mad I was a GREAT dancer and I had had dance classes and won awards in recitals! He saw the look on my face and said, “Go…go downstairs and see if you can do this and if you can you can start today but you will have to buy different clothes those long dresses will never do. If you want the job the House Mother will tell you what to do.” I did not like the look on his face so I left and went downstairs. As if a plan was set in motion she was waiting for me and led me to a chair. I watched with total surprise as 15 different girls came out one at a time and stripped naked to the music. They served liquor there so by law they could not be TOTALLY naked they all wore thongs and pasties. I did not know what that was then but I will explain it now. A ‘pasty’ is a round circle all glittery and decorated that you glue to your breasts. This was how they got around the law of being naked. None of this was like any movie I ever saw. This was much more hard core but I was very hungry and my husband was stealing and he did not work and we had no place to live…A part of me was sickened and a part of me was fascinated as each girl danced with total grace and I noticed they were all as good at dancing as I was…one even better as she snaked down a greased silver pole by the stage HEAD FIRST and did acrobatics that an Olympic gymnast would have been proud to know! I was torn but I needed to survive. I took a deep breath and said, “I can do it.” The House Mother…She took me to a small room off to the left side of the mirrored stage as I watched who I came to know as ‘Sugar-doll’ make sure each dance move was perfect in the reflection of the floor and wall mirrors. She was totally concentrated on performance and a huge bright flash of white smile at the audience at perfectly timed moments. She was almost 7 feet tall and was amazing looking! She had long dark hair like some exotic gypsie and was as smooth as cafe` au lait…we went past a curtain and there, in the back room, was a weird kind of ‘dressing room’ and all the girls who were not dancing or waiting on men were there putting on lipstick or changing a costume. “Say ‘hi’ to the new girl!” said the house mother, and they all looked at me…some bored some friendly some with outright scorn and a few said ‘hi’…and she began the newbie lecture, “After every dance come here to freshen up and change your look. The more different costumes you have the more money you can make. Make up your own kind of style. Watch the other girls but do not copy the ones who have been here a long time they would not like that. Choose a name you want to be called as no dancer uses her real name. Sugar-doll and Chanel can help you figure out what to do so if you have any questions you may ask them. Sugar-doll is the one you saw dancing just now and this is Chanel,” She pointed out a cute slender woman whose age was hard to fathom. “You need to buy a costume but if you have no money you might borrow some from anyone here who is willing to loan it. Chanel she is yours now…” Chanel took my arm and led me out onto the floor, “Always be a lady. Never cuss or tell dirty jokes. Always act with kindness and have a sense of decorum. No matter how naked you are never forget you are a real woman on the inside and not an object.” I looked at her in surprise and I noticed her eyes were sad, “Some of the girls who have worked here a long time have regular customers so you leave them alone. you will have to figure this out as you go so be very careful. It is against the law to solicit any man for anything so never ask for any money as there may be undercover police here waiting to catch a hooker,” An expression of shock must have crossed my face as I wondered WHAT I had gotten myself into!, “ALWAYS act like a lady! never forget that!” She was so severe and clear about that statement. Sugar-doll was finished dancing AGAIN when Chanel led me over to her…. “Sugar-doll will finish teaching you.” Sugar-doll led me around the tables pointing out a few customers who were ‘taken’ and said, “Remember the faces because no one will have time to remind you over and over! Do not sit very long with any man who is not spending money. They understand they are here to spend money. If they are not buying you drinks do not sit. Dance. Make them notice you. Our job is to attract more customers…” I was dizzy from the smoke and the flashing lights and the naked bodies everywhere…her voice became a drone and then went away as people had done when I lived in the Evil Town. I did not change my face or cry or show any fear as she led me back to the curtain to make my debut…I did not hear the DJ announce my name nor was I aware of changing into the costume of a dancer…complete with the 6 inch heels that made me over 6 feet tall. The first and last time I was to ever wear high heels was the four months I danced like this. someone shoved me gently from behind and I was at the edge of a mirrored stage and every direction I looked I could see myself and the lights were so bright the audience did not exist and at that moment I left my body and once more watched from above as something took over and ‘I’ began to dance. I watched ‘her’ from above as she closed her eyes and as she closed them to all but the beat of some exotic song I was dropped unceremoniously back into her body…she was swaying and had left it to me to take over now. Always the strong one. Always the one to take the pain. The high heels hurt my feet as I was used to flat sandals. It was hard to move and my ankles were weak…how was I going to dance all night? I had to do this…I was so hungry I felt like I might pass out. I kept my eyes closed and swayed to the beat. I could not think. I could not think what I was supposed to do. My heart was in my neck pounding like someone in front of a firing squad. I heard the DJ announce something about a duel treat and I opened my eyes and noticed Sugar-doll coming onstage…I realized we were close to the same height and she was not seven feet tall. I looked down at myself. They had given me some pink baby doll starter set…the shoes were plastic with pink bunny tails on them. She smiled at me and whispered, “Copy me!” So I did. Like a machine off came everything and I learned all the basic moves of the oldest fertility dance of all gone on since the beginning of time…then she led me offstage and sat me down and told the girls in general… “She is about to pass out! get her some snack or something! Get her something to drink! Get her a rum and coke!” While the room spun someone shoved a candy-bar into my right hand and a glass of rum and coke into my left one…as the alcohol went down all warm and the sugar from the coke went into my veins I began to feel better. “You did just fine sweetie.” said the house mother…” You did just fine!” They were all smiling at me. We all had to keep dancing for as long as eight hours straight unless a guy was buying us drinks, (which made money for the ‘house’), and then we got to sit down and rest. My toes went numb and stayed that way for almost a year after I quit dancing. I learned to RUN in high heels!. There more girls there were to dance the more ‘rest’ each girl got in between dances and the more opportunity to make MORE money in the darker corners of the bar… From 10 to 20 girls, on any given night, would dance. There was even a very popular transvestite that only WE knew was really a guy. He was THAT GOOD! Famous porno stars would come and dance with us while they were touring and if you were a ‘lucky’ girl you got invited for 2000 to 5000 dollar ‘shoots’. I was both unlucky and lucky enough to not be among the prettiest girls there so I was never chosen but I had my fair share of lucrative ‘work’. Each dance lasted 2 to 6 minutes and then the whole ‘girl-train’ would start again and in between drinks and dancing we were in the dressing room ‘making up’ and ‘changing costume’. I learned something I never knew while I was a dancer. For the first time in my life men fell at my feet and asked for more. I was riding the crest of the wave and making hundreds of dollars a night and no matter where I went I was treated like I was royalty…for a time. During that four months of my life I felt like princess. Men took me to clubs. Men paid my way everywhere. Like a minor movie star I was courted. I did not even have to do anything…at first…but dance and flirt. I got so high off of all the attention. I wanted more. I wanted to be loved and important like I never was before and it seemed I was. I learned to walk in high heeled shoes. I learned to dress and make up to make men want me. I became very athletic and proud even moreso than I had been before. I went 120 miles an hour in a cocaine dealers Porche down I-40. Men gave me 100 or 200 dollars just to sit and get drunk with them. My friends from the band Masochist liked me more…They let my husband back in the band. I was almost worshiped. My hungry heart was fed trash as much as I was hungry for food and a place to live. My mom, who did not know what I was doing at the time, used to tell me how beautiful I was becoming and how she had never seen me happier in my life. That still hurts to this day and it is not her fault she, like most all of us, was sucked into the myth of Beauty’s altar. One day my Da found out. He brought some rich oil clients to the club. I was very angry to see him cheat my mother once more and went on with my performance. Mother told me later that he requested that I never mention him and she found out what he was about and what I was about. Let me tell you something my men friends, the woman in that magazine or on that stage is someone’s daughter, mother, sister….the woman you would forsake your own woman for in the name of beauty is the fall of both of you. The society that teaches that this thing is GOOD shall surely rot from within…. One night as I went into work and decided to wear the black leather and do the ‘Born To Be Wild Theme’ for which a I had developed a kind of ‘skit’ dance I saw a man sitting at a corner table alone. He was wearing a military uniform and was some type of officer for the Air Force. He was not a regular so I went over and sat down and introduced myself…he looked vaguely familiar…for his part upon his face was a look of shock. “What is wrong sir? Can I get you something?” He put his head on the table and began to sob uncontrollably. I went to get the house mother with some alarm. She and Sugar-doll went over and tried to comfort him. They could not. They sent Chanel and she had a way with people. We could see his shoulders shake and he told her something and he got up to leave….he walked familiar….he seemed familiar but….no…how could he be the one I had been rollerskating with five years ago? This fellow looked strong and straight and clear skinned…?????? Chanel came over as he left and said he asked her not to tell anything and she never did tell. I was perplexed by him for many months until I recalled one feature…the mole on his chin. It WAS him! It was the young man that my father had told to never speak to me again…It was the young man he had told to join to military or go to prison. It was the young man whose child I had once carried…the only one I ever did! He never came back to the club again. I think of him often and I hope he became one of the strong men. The little girl who studied ballet and tap and jazz and won competitions was now a strip tease dancer in a liquor bar where her father’s business cronies did their main transactions. She was married to a ‘pot-headed’ musician/magician who could not make a penny and she was making more money than she ever saw in her life and the percentage she had to pay the ‘house’ to work there was no big deal. That little girl was what I had become…flying high with drugs and attention…snorting cocaine from hundred dollar notes at the table in the back reserved for a special customer from South America who liked me alot because I was blond. I started leaving the bar with quarter ounces of free coke from him and free rides in his fancy red Porsche. One day he took me to a party where everyone was armed and in that posh and well appointed house with a huge swimming pool were blocks of cocaine wrapped in black plastic and naked girls swimming in the pool. Everyone was snorting coke and drinking and it was weird. Suddenly I did not like where I was or who I was anymore but there was a line of coke on the glass table and a rolled bill in my hand. This party was supposed to be for some young man and I was the main entertainment. They brought him out… …he was maybe the same age I was when…Something in me screamed “NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!” But my husband had dropped me off there and I was there and if I said no to the son of some drug lord then what?Just then the laces up my ankle on those high platform shoes came loose and I fell and broke that ankle! I think I was never so happy to feel pain and some other girl was chosen for the job with no hard feelings. I did not make a penny. One strange fellow helped me outside and my husband drove me home to our apt…he was not happy but it was not my fault. There came a time when I divourced Ryan whom I had asked to marry me. We were married for less than a year. Mo jo, the guitar player in ‘BDSM’ had been divourced for about a year and we were seeing each other and while sharing a bottle of wine one night also decided to share a home. He took me to my job and he did not like it at all…he said it made him look bad that I was a dancer and I could work in a kitchen or nursing home somewhere. I still wanted the money and the attention but he did not like it…yes he liked it that I was hot looking and athletic but not how I got that way… I was to live 16 different places in the same city from the day this was until the day I type this now. Every place will not be covered for the sake of the story. The events are real. MOJO I met Mojo in 1981 and he was dating Darla. Darla was a spitfire. The first time I met her she ‘cussed’ me for ‘stealing’ the bass player, from the band, from her another girl who was her friend. Ryan never told me he had a gal. Darla had on a huge white sunhat and looked so sweet and feminine and cussed like a sailor! I will speak more if Darla and Ryan later. This bit is about Mojo. He became my friend while i was dating the base player, Ryan, for three years before I had asked Ryan to marry me. Ryan and I had an odd kind of love story and I think of him when ever I hear the theme song from ‘Logan’s Run’. He came from and abusive home, like me. All of us did now that I think back on it…one good parent and one horrid alcoholic parent. I suppose it was not any wonder we all ended up together. There came a time that Darla divourced Mojo and I divourced Ryan. I used to pick Mojo up at the car wash, where he worked, so we could go to the lake and smoke a ‘fattie’. Darla worked there too. I loved hanging out with Mojo. he was a cool guy. He never begged for a kiss or came on to me as long as he was married to her. He was a really smart fellow and I grew to really like him…(and later love him with my whole heart LIKE THAT for YEARS until ‘Barbie’). One thing we all knew about Mojo….his music was his first love and any woman in his life came second. Darla gave all her time and effort and her truck to his career but she REALLY wanted him to settle down and have kids and be ‘regular guy’ like her dad. Everyone was on the fast train to alcoholism then and her father and mine were both violently tempered, functioning drunks. Her mother had passed away when she was nine. Her family split apart, her heart full of misery and anger and the desire to love and be loved and belong. (Something she never found even to this day). After she bore him two sons, (which he said watching them being born was the most beautiful thing he ever saw) she divourced him. No warning. State gave her custody and he was a musician for a living and the war was on until long after the boys grew up. (They spent most of their lives in a private orphanage in Texas but no one knew until they found me and their father in 1996). Neither parent was parent material. It was a mistake from the day she lied about getting pregnant on the pill until today when her son, like his father and his grandfather before him, has children by three different women and is working on number four hoping this is the ONE! He does not speak to his mother and father…in his eyes they will have always abandoned him. The closest family he had in the world, his brother, died in the army. One day I called a mutual friend, Nick, and asked him to give me Mojo’s phone number as I had a bottle of wine and some hours to kill and I was divourced and lonely and recalled how nice and smart he was. Nick gave me his number and I called it, “Mojo! Hey remember me? We went to the lake and got stoned together? I have a bottle of wine and an ‘ice-cream truck’ and some time….wanna get drunk?” “Sure! Come get me!” So I did. We talked about everything. EVERYTHING our young lives had shown us up to that point. There was a point where I told him about the dirt storm in the ranch town and the blond haired kid with the black eyes who carried a saxophone from the yellow school bus and how that kids black eyes met mine for a split second and I never forgot him. He gave me the oddest look, “Blond braids? Red bandanna? Blue jumpsuit?” I looked into his dark eyes and shivered and nodded as it suddenly occurred to me that those eyes from back then were the same eyes staring at me NOW! We were both drunk. We were both high. Suddenly it seemed like destiny and we stared at each other in shock! Without warning he was around the stick shift in front of the bench seat in my truck and as I backed up he opened the door and somehow we both fell out on the gravel near a still-functioning Wild Iron Horse and soon two sets of pumping were going on while a rock poked me in the back and I laughed like crazy and the stars in the night swung overhead like pinpoint spotlights! Mojo and the City In The Dirt We were young. The world belonged to us and all dreams were possible. Drunk, stoned, high every day we lived in a perpetual dream of sun and fun and endless wonder. Our visions were brighter. Our senses keener. Our bodies strong to stand to any abuse. The dancing and the cocaine had finally made me as beautiful as the world’s eyes thought I should be. For a small moment in time I was ‘Barbie’. I was Barbie and Mojo and I were in love. For one brief moment I was the girl all the guys drooled over and courted and I could stand beside Mojo and hold my head high when girls tried to get his attention: I knew I was the best then. We were all at the lake one day and Mojo and I were happy and stoned and fearless. We walked away from the others and we began to collect pieces of broken glass. We hunted these objects of intense interest seeing the utter beauty of garbage. We found blue, green and gold glass from smashed beer bottles under huge Cottonwood trees snowing down on us from the green, blue and gold skies. He was beautiful. I was beautiful. I was so skinny I could wear his jeans. I did not know I would keep getting taller for a few more years past the regular ‘normal’ and he was not much taller than me but we went well together. Without words we flashed smiles as he came with me to the ‘far away’ world. Most people did not know how to follow me there. To this day, on that day, only he made the journey with me to the place where the world dissappeared and words were useless. We had become small children together. We sat in the dirt, cross-legged, with our ‘treasures’ and we each took turns putting a piece of glass here and another there in a lovely mosaic of garbage the colour of the skies. We said nothing as leaves rustled overhead and sun flashed down upon us like the shards of glass…bright and sharp and real. Time stopped. Everyone disappeared. It was just He and I, sitting in the dirt, young adults barely past our teens, stoned beyond sensibility, making beauty from garbage. Mojo Asks Me To Stop Dancing One day he took me to work and I tried to go inside. I pushed. I could not go inside. It was as if some giant, invisible hand was parked there and would not let me pass… …I waited for someone to open the door and tried to go in with them and I hit something solid that I could not see. Mo jo was looking at me with an odd look…He got his wish…I was never able to do that job again….But there was one thing he did not understand…women are generally NOT whores and angels both at once and the devil he fell in love with rapidly lost his interest as she went to work in a nursing home for the elderly and found GOOD and asked the second man in her life to marry her. Mojo. He said he would do it that year in September of 1985 and I was so happy I told everyone at work. My boss looked at me with tears in hers eyes and said, “Do not count on things like that until they happen.” I waited until September was over….no marriage came. He was too scared of what had happened with Darla. I loved him so much I wanted to prove to him I was not like her. I stayed with him over the next 6 years and into the 7th one trying to prove my love and failing miserably. We were married only by ‘Common Law’. If we had been Muslim I would have been a ‘mutta wife’. His mother and I bailed him out of jail three times for drinking and I stayed with him when a drunk in a Yellow New-yorker ran over him and ruined his teeth and his jaws were wired shut for 6 months. I stayed with him when he left me behind to go see California. I let him buy tickets to concerts and go by himself when there was not enough money for us both to go…I tried SO HARD to prove I loved him and he never seemed to notice as he sunk deeper and deeper into alcoholism. Every day, to see that brilliant soul fall, was like a knife in my gut. There were nights he did not come home and I called the jails and hospitals and flop houses looking for him and waiting for him to come home even if I had to get up early the next day. That made what happened with Barbie,later, such a huge blow, never again would I be able to see myself as even marginally good enough… …and I was never good enough most of my rest of my life. Biker Party At Lake Dirty Bird The band was booked by one of Mojo’s friends who was an ‘OutLaw’. That is one of the Biker Gang affiliates in this area. Other Biker groups would be represented there. I had never been to a Biker party before and I was surprised at the huge diversity of people; they ranged all the way from nomadic tent dwellers to mansion-owning lawyers and doctors, but they all had one thing in common: they were rebels to the core. We got there early and someone who had a friend, who was a trucker, pull his big rig onto the large, flat, hard-packed grassy area where this crazy party would take place. The trucker, pulling a flatbed, parked and several guys wearing denim and black leather Outlaw jackets started setting up gas powered generators all around it. Mojo and the guys and some other bikers were unloading the music equipment onto the flatbed and setting up for the show. We were MILES away from anywhere civilized. We came in my rainbow-striped ‘ice-cream’ truck, and we tailgated after we unloaded the stuff from it. It had a nice shell. Darla rolled a fatty and we all passed it around the inside of the truck bed, inhaling and holding it for as long as we could so we could get the best high, and talked while the guys set up. After that we went walking around. Hundreds of bikes in neat lines circled the whole area. Food trucks opened up shop and whole sides of beef and whole pigs with dead mouths stuffed with an apple were slung on huge, (sometimes improvised), bar-b-que grills even made of old bathtubs. All the food was free. Everything was free. The weed the drugs…everything was free unless people were selling bulk. I saw women wearing dog collars and heard the word, ‘bitch seat’, for the first time. The party had just started and trucks pulled in with huge kegs of icy cold beer. The steaming hot summer sun was merciless and the lake was at least a quarter mile away. Another trucker came and the many bikers unloaded a long row of ‘port-o-potties’ and more people kept roaring in….thunder sounded everywhere. Several people in motor-homes gathered together in one spot and most of the motor-homes were driven by women. If you made friends with one you could avoid the port-o-potties. We had alot of ganja with us so we made friends with one of the biker woman with an RV named Chaundra. She set up some folding chairs and a card table and we all sat around and got high and each of us took turns wading through hundreds of wild men to get to the beer lines for more beer. They sent me to get food. they said, “Bring anything you can get.” There was a whole line of bar-b-que pits by then and meat sizzled on all of them. I had a big metal tray and just started piling bar-b-que on it until it was almost too heavy to hold and took it back. I set it on the card table and we all set to! “Damn this is GOOD. Best beef I ever had-melt-in-your-mouth!” “Here try a bite of the brisket..” “Pour me another beer before it gets hot.” “My old man will probably want to swap tonight…” I was listening to the biker women talk…I guessed there was going to be a big ‘swap-athon’ at some point and I was kinda nervous because I suddenly realized I was with a group of women who did whatever their ‘old man’ said! I was also getting soused and high and a small voice inside said, “You came here of your own free will don’t start crying now…might as well enjoy the scenery.” The band started to play and the bikers did not like heavy metal they wanted 60’s and 70’s hippie cover tunes and kept requesting ‘King Bee’ over and over and ANYTHING by the Rolling Stones. Mojo hated that stuff he thought it was stupid music but he played it anyway because he was surrounded by a crap-load of high happy drunk bikers who were going to pay a few hundred for this gig. That left me alone to watch the circus… …and circus it was!!!! I am telling you I have NEVER seen a party like this before or after and I never went to another big one again but this was porno paradise! Naked gals everywhere and they were proud of it too! As the evening progressed while the band listened to the screams of “PLAY FREEBIRD!”, they set up a log pulling contest just as it started to rain! SHIT! Mojo would get electrocuted! I guess the guys thought of that too because about 30 bikers had a tent pitched over the band on the flat-bed in seconds. the music was so loud from the Marshall half stacks it ALMOST drowned out the chugging generators. In the quickly rain soaked ground a HUGE tree stump with a chain attached to it was hauled out onto a large, open space in the field and several Harley Bikers had a ‘stump dragging’ contest. the onlookers coughed up the prize money out of their pockets but then they upped the ante…the contest had a second part… …Bite The Weenie contest. I watched in utter anthropological fascination as a clothes-line was quickly implemented and several cooked sausages were hung from it after having been dipped in hot mustard. The guys who had been hauling the log through the mud now went and got their ‘old ladies’ and what came next was rather astonishing! The bikes lined up in a neat row in the mud and the women who ‘belonged’ to each biker swung her leg over the ‘bitch seat’ and stood up on the foot pedals while holding onto thier ‘old mans’ shoulders! It suddenly also became a ‘wet T-shirt’ contest as some of the men noted what the rain was doing to the t-shirts the women wore! Guys were digging up MORE money! Hundreds of dollars! The engines started! Mud spun out everywhere! They went forward and each women had to ‘bite the weenie’ as her man passed under the weenie designated for him without slowing down. It was a race and a t-shirt contest and as the guys passed under the dangling weenies and each woman snapped her teeth for one…the crowd roared with approval as one woman managed to get the whole weenie free without biting it…she won about 400 dollars for that feat! It kept raining but this group did not let anything stop them. They danced in the mud until they passed out in the mud…drunk. slipping and sliding and friendly fisticuffs broke out here and there and bets were taken of who would win. They kept the the guys in the band high on cocaine so they could play crappy music for HOURS until the sun rose. I will never forget that day.I am STILL astonished! The Great Puke-fest Time was when things were FULL of life….and all of us were so very very FULL of it ourselves…..it being life and that which creates life and even eventually feeds life in every mode….but this night we needed rubber boots. How many ways are there to say ‘regurgitate’? Well…that night we blew chunks…we blew chow and cookies! We hurled and spewed and cried “RALPH!!!!” at the porcelain throne! We were on our knees to the laughing gods of beer gone bad and technicolour digestive juice was the order of the day! Johnny, whose parents were quite wealthy, owned a home at Cedar Lake. One night before Halloween he called all of us and told us to call all of our friends and them to call theirs and send out the word to all the young adults in Czech town that THE GREATEST HALLOWEEN PARTY of all history in that town was to be thrown on the eve of Halloween at his parents lake house. No money needed he would provide everything! We arrived. That house was stunning…lake-veiw…swimming….crystal chandeliers…carpets so deep and soft they reached your ankles…. Oak paneling everywhere and marble floors and counter-tops and huge bathrooms and even a Jacuzzi! Leather furniture and the whole thing overwhelmed into a deep red velvet brown luxury fantasy! We arrived first…me and Mojo and Mitch…to help set up the band named ‘Masochist’ to play for the party. Mojo would be on guitar and I might get to sing and Mitch would play drums…The man who HAD been my first husband, Ryan, would be the bass player. Johnny was so happy to see us…. “Help me set up! What do you think of my costume?” He was dressed as the grim reaper…we helped him load the kegs of beer into the huge plastic trashcans of ice. “I hope I get laid tonight! This party should catch the eye of more than one piece of ass!” Johnny was pretty….curly blond hair and deep blue eyes and angelically white skin. He was sort of short but that did not seem to stop the women…although the money aspect DID help. He liked to use the pool table in the game room as his sex-prop but none of us was prepared for the night that was to come oh so shortly! The people arrived! Sexy witches! Warlocks and ghosts! Chainsaw murderers! Every conceivable type of elf and fearie imaginable! About 150 people showed up for the party that night and the kegs were breached and the hurrahs were yelled to the high night sky as the smell of weed and beer pervaded the night. About two hours into the party I noticed the bathrooms were full…I was not drinking so much because I had to sing some of the songs….about two hours into the party I was violently ill! Within two hours the party had degenerated into bedlam. There were two bathrooms and each bathroom had three people puking in the tub one in the sink and one in the toilet. Several people were puking in the Jacuzzi and even more were lined up around the swimming pool. The kitchen sink was full of spew and hurl shot from open mouths even while people tried to run outside as a veritable hurricane of vomit blasted the luxury home at Pine Lake. When it was all said and done the bushes were decorated with chunks of Halloween delight in many different hues. The smell was indescribable but I imagine that is what Jonah smelled in the belly of the whale… …Later that night as we left that charnel house still pale and sick we were grateful that no one had died. The beer we had bought was bad…but the party was illegal so there was no recourse to suit. As we pulled up in Bohemia, at his parents’ home, we saw a police car there. Johnny was SO worried about what his parents were going to say to him. When he saw that police car he looked at us and said, “I am so sorry if I got you into trouble…” We got out of his sleek red mustang and walked slowly towards the police. They took Johnny aside in his vomit-covered reaper costume….we saw him sink to the ground as his brother and sister arrived. When more of his family came the police left. We walked up to him amazed that no one was arrested. He grabbed Mojo and cried out like his heart was being ripped from him, “THEY ARE DEAD THEY ARE DEAD!” He ran into the house and we all followed and those in his family too let us in….they saw he needed us. “My mom and dad were flying back in his Cessna…” he choked out in between sobs, “They crashed…They…” He ran into the bathroom and was laying on the floor…his sister went in crying and tried to rouse him. It did not work. We sat with them that night…later he came out of the bathroom with an angelic look on his face. He said. “I saw them…they said they loved me…that everything was going to be OK…” His sister shook her head and his brother gave her the ‘be quiet’ look. That fortune was split between the three children…but Johnny did not want his. He gave it to his brother and sister. Today he lives in a trailer 30 miles out of town with no electricity and thirty cats…when he needs something he asks his siblings for it and they give it to him. He lives like a hermit and never married or had children. So does the story of Life go on… And in the distance is my sisters tiny voice….”Zum ghali ghali ghali Zum ghali ghali” Bianca There was a place at Lake ‘Hold-her-closer’, in the old days called, “The Flats”. That was where the major town parties took place. It was just a big, flat grassy area that turned to mud every-time it rained really hard, right at the edge of the lake, where many people liked to go fishing. The view over the lake was cool and wide on a hot blue summer-skied day and all the bikers were out with their Harley and leather. The flats were about half the size of a football field and that particular day they had made a banner that was fifty yards long and held up from a bike parked at one end to a bike parked at the other end. The long cloth banner read, “SHOW US YOUR TITTIES!” We found a place to park and minded our own business as we smoked dope and drank our beer and went fishing and caught nothing. There was a Caddie that tried to pull in among the bikes and hit one and knocked it over. Soon that Caddie was sideways on the grass and the Paddy Wagons were pulling in and hauling people off to jail. We were not causing any trouble and were far enough away from the action to be ignored. The smell of weed was everywhere and ‘fatties’ were passed from hand to hand and no one knew where they came from or who rolled them nor did we know where ours went in the dense crowd… …Darla had some Windowpane and she and I and Mojo each took a square on our tongues and a girl with long brown hair showed up and took a square on hers from Darla. We asked her name. “Bianca.” she smiled at us. Hallucinations are different in the daytime and the light becomes excruciating in it’s brilliance…I felt as if my eyes were being assaulted with bright glass shards and yet it was funny somehow…someone gave me some mercifully dark sunglasses and everyone partied well into the night. Mojo and Bianca and I were walking around together and watched her brother, who was Golden Gloves boxer, start fights with bikers who were drunk and win money and then get drunker with them… …Mo-jo kissed me and then kissed Bianca and she laughed and said, “I am 13 years old!” and started giggling. None of us cared because everyone’s teeth were glowing and the lit cigarettes made red-purple and white tracers in the now dark air around us. They asked me to drive them home at 3 am because I was the only one who could drive stoned and drunk and hallucinating. None of us could ever figure out how I did it. To this day I do not know what happened to them on ‘trips’ I know only that they could not function and I could, even while music had smell and I could taste colour….I had a white truck then to replace the wrecked Honda and I had pimped it out with rainbow pin-striping that everyone made fun of because they said it looked like an ice-cream truck. I liked my truck highly decorated! They could eat shit and die if they did not like it…that was not my problem. I had snapped off the cab-over on the truck before the party and left it at home so the back of the truck was open. “Sure! I will drive everyone back!” Bianca got in next to me and instantly passed out on my shoulder and Mojo passed out next to her in the bench seat in front and was drooling on my window which was funny and I could not stop laughing! It was a 5-speed. I always drove 5-speeds. Automatics were for wuss’s! Changing gears was a challenge because the drool was distracting and Bianca’s hand kept flopping into the gear shift! I began to laugh as I realized that I really had no idea who she was…and it occurred to me that maybe they were both dead. That was funny too for some reason. Acid is a funny thing….it makes evil good and good evil! NEVER read a holy book while tripping…I managed to get my truck on the main road into Bohemia to take friends home who did not live in the city. There I was, at three am, heading into the town of bored cops with nothing to do with a strange girl passed out on my shoulder and my mutta-hubby drooling on my passenger-side window. I was speeding with a kind of powerful ecstasy when the bright, pretty peppermint coloured lights of a police cruiser flashed in my rear-view and sent tracers flying everywhere! CRAP! We were in some deep doo doo now! What was I gonna tell the cop with the pretty lights about the drunk minor in my front seat I did not even KNOW HER! As I looked in the rear-view again I noticed something else new: who the hell were the people in the back of my truck! CRAP HOLY CRAP! Who were they and how did they get there! A bunch of guys with a keg drinking beer! That was why the cop was pulling us over! There was a party going on in my truck-bed! I pulled over to the side of the road and told the guys in the back to shut the F**k up through the sliding window and asked who the HELL they were while the cop got out of his vehicle and sauntered over casually and I KNEW we we jail-bound…and it made me wanna laugh! Suddenly I thought I might need to pee and wasn’t sure and THAT made me laugh…then I did not know if I did or not and the officer shoved his flashlight in my eyes and I remembered to squint like it hurt my eyes…he said, “Were you aware you were speeding ma’am?” It was all I could do not to bust out with huge guffaws as his head BALLOONED and his teeth GLOWED and his pores on his face looked like craters on Mars! I had to think FAST! “Sir officer sir these JERKS called me at this ungodly hour because they were all too DRUNK and stoned to drive and I am really pissed off because this young lady who is with HIM..” I jerked a thumb in Mojo’s direction…”She is a MINOR and I have NO IDEA what I am going to tell her parents and I have NO IDEA who the guys in the back of the truck are they just hitched a ride!” The officer thought a moment, then said, “Get this bunch home…I feel bad for you but drive the speed limit ok???” “Yes SIR I will!” He drove past us on the the cop-shop a coupla miles away….at the next traffic light the party in the back of my truck jumped out and took the keg with them and disappeared into a wheat field just outside of town…I somehow managed to elicit enough information to take Bianca home…She got as far as the front yard and passed out under a tree and I got out to make sure she was breathing and watched spiders crawl everywhere and then got back in the truck and drove hubs and myself back to our apartment and realized I had no key! I climbed in the bedroom window and watched things move around and flash all night as the high from the windowpane ebbed like the tide of the sea going out and I felt like I had been EATING glass! I had NO IDEA when, how or IF Mojo made it out of the truck that night! That was How I met Bianca. Last night I dreamed I rode a motorcycle all night and all day long all over creation and came to a lovely lake full of Islands and swam and swam until the floods came in and as they covered the land I did not wish to wake but wake I did….with this memory and others connected to it like the year that Kainu came and rode that same motorbike with Mojo. Me, Mojo and His Motorbike We were going down to see Uncle Lewis and Rick race the quarter mile with their modified motorbikes that had the wheelie bars on the back. Me, Mojo, Bianca and Aaron planned it and I was excited because most of the time there was only enough money and space for Mojo to go and I was left behind. Many times I let him go so he could be happy when I really wanted to go so badly too and I would lie and say it did not matter…. …but it did. So this was a BIG deal! Johnny, (the one who was the current singer in BDSM), decided to come along. He was solo. No girlfriend. “Got the weed?” Aaron was wooried it would be found in his glove box it was much easier to toss from a moving bike. “Yep!” Mojo was ready. It was good weed too! What was left of his solo trip to Cali and the guy who used to be the drummer who had one lung left and a hydroponics farm with 23rd generation genetically mutant weed. (The guy was also a bio-engineer). We called it ‘Chernobyl’. Two hits and you were in LaLa Land! ‘Zipper-head’ (who had been the bands manager) had moved out from his old place and Mojo and I had moved in and we were a recognized couple now. Zipperhead got that nik when he wrecked from a drunk drunk driver and died from a brain injury and came back. He was (and is) almost normal but then who IS normal…but I digress...Mojo made me wear the helmet. I hated it it was hot in and it was summer. I got on the back of the motorbike rather gingerly because I was taller than him and the seat was higher and the bike was a BIG ASS Yamaha and the physics of the whole arrangement were worrisome as this LITTLE guy balanced an AMAZON and the back of that Black Monster Yamaha! (Before ‘Barbie’ people would ask him where he caught the Amazon. When I stopped dancing for a living and started doing menial labour it was much harder to stay thin…) We headed out of the parking lot and down the main road to Mustang exit on I-40 and headed south. It was my first bike ride with Mojo and it turned out he was a pro with that thing. Just cause you might be a little guy does not mean you can’t handle a bike and soon it was FUN! The helmet sucked but the way the windshield cut the wind and the straight, smooth highway were AWESOME. Thirty minutes into the ride I could tell I was getting numbutt but I did not care. We had never ridden together before so I did not dare rise up on the pegs without warning at 70 MPH on a crowded freeway! I stayed leaned into him with my arms around his waist and followed all his body movements and we were flying like the wind! It was AWESOME! Halfway there we stopped at a truck stop to stretch our legs and get rid of ‘numbutt’ and have a soda and a snack and….SHEEESH! Smoke a FATTTIEEE! Awe damn! Johnny was ribbing Mojo about what it was like to have an Amazon on the back of his bike and he just grinned. We stood out in the parking lot. Mojo folded that Joker like a pro too after tearing off half the paper cause who wants to smoke paper when you can get more Mary-jane in there…????? He lit it and that SMELL! He took a deep drag and holding it in he handed that fattie off to Johnny, “Ere.” He croaked, trying not to cough up that valuable smoke. Johnny D. breathed out all the air in his lungs so he could get a GOOD hit. “Hoooooooooooooo” he sucked in the smoke and I pushed all the air out of my lungs and he handed the fattie off to me and Aaron and Bianca came back with some 6 packs and ice they put in a cooler in the back of the brown truck. “Hey save some for us!” Bianca was yelling and smiling as I filled my lungs ’til they hurt with purple Chernobyl smoke. I passed it off to Bianca as she came up, eyes sparkling. Aaron said, “When we get back on the road lets RACE!” I held that hit in until I was dizzy and let it out slowly not wasting one precious molecule of that Chernobyl. RACE! What ‘th everlovin’ hell…..? “Sure!” Mojo was ready. We hit the road. Higher than Afghan kites on mountaintops we began to speed up. The truck (which had a ‘Hemi’ in it) was FAAARRRRRR ahead! I forgot to buckle my helmet which flew off my head! Johnny was right behind us. Everything seemed super sensitive! The hairs on my arms stood up with chills while sweat from the hot summer sun dried salt in my scalp and hot and cold collided in my body like a storm building to a tornado when a high pressure meets a low cold in the wind! Mojo stepped up the speed and leaned into it. I followed and as he flattened down of the seat the buzz of the engines and the wind made my arms get numb. My face too as hyperventilation along with elation and adrenalin shot through me like a second rush after the Chernobyl! Mojo was flat out now and I could feel what seemed to be the front wheel coming off the road! Almost by instinct, as the straight shot flat out grey zoomed before us, we crept up on the speeding brown truck as I hooked my heels on the pegs and raised enough to flatten myself out over his body and slide my hands down to grab the seat as he almost was riding the gas-tank now and we shot past the truck and I heard Aaron YELL something! My heart was booming in my ears as we slowed and I was frozen in place and Mojo turned into a gravel entrance to an oil rig where the black iron horses of my youth no longer pumped and rusted in the heat of the sun like a harbinger of the future. My muscles would not move and my ears wear buzzing and we ‘wrecked’ in the gravel going very slowly as we turned and the hot engines almost burned me as he, agile, slid out before it fell and took me with him as we slid sideways on the gravel and and eerie stillness came over all things. Johnny came some minutes later. Aaron and Bianca were beside us laughing. We pulled ourselves off the gravel. A hole was torn on my sweats. I could not even feel the raw flesh I saw oozing a little blood. My hair stuck out in a style only the wind could make like a Celt’s limed warrior tail! We were damned lucky! Bianca said, “You PASSED us and we were going 140 MPH!” Mojo laughed and said, “Your speedometers off that is impossible even stretching the laws of Physics! What happens to your helmet?” He looked at me, then at that big black beauty now all scratched and dented on one side and Johnny laughed, “It almost smashed my windshield on the way out.” We got back on the bike and I was in some otherworldly daze the rest of the way. When we got to the wild cold springs just before Lone Grove we stopped to soak our bruises and scrapes in the chill clean water running and bubbling over rocks in the deep green trees and smoked another fattie while bees buzzed by on business other than our own. I guess there is nothing for tonight but to keep writing. When the silence screams and pain reigns supreme what else is there left to do but have two fingers type? So once more I will dive into yesterday’s 1000 years ago. It Was Only Yesterday 1000 Years Ago, We were hanging out with Buffy the beautiful coke dealer/whore. She had a nice fast boat and we all went out on the lake. There was an island in the middle of the lake and we beached there. I guess Buffy wanted to leave me there so when I went off exploring with the rest each in different directions and I soon found myself alone on that Island. I went to the small sandbar that was a stand in for a ‘beach’ and then climbed the large rock to the tallest point of the Island and looked in all directions. It was too far too swim. I climbed back down after enjoying the sun a while. She liked being queen bee and I guess I was one too many girls around. (The ONLY other girl and not EVEN close competition….LOL…talk about a peacock versus a wren!) But still I liked nature and even if I got stuck there all night I could fish if I could find the right materials and I had a lighter and cigarettes and dead wood was everywhere. If she did not come back I would be OK a while ’til someone else came so I sat on that rock. I did not miss the cocaine since I did not do it at that time.The late afternoon became evening and I started to drag the wood into a heap. As I did so I saw Mojo sitting on the little sandbar. “Why didn’t you go?” I asked him. He gave me an odd look and said, “I am not an addict of coke or Buffy.” “Why are you here?” I replied, “She wanted all the guys to herself…” he smiled at me then when he said, “Not this guy!” We started a fire. We walked around the little island laughing and drawing pictures in the sand with long sticks. I looked at him then with his black eyes and blond hair and impish, lopsided grin. He was not aware I was staring. I asked him softly, “Does anyone ever come here?” “No, not hardly at all except to shoot up or drink. look around.” The Island might have been pretty but for the debris of party animals. There was even a small streamlet upon it’s sandy base. We followed it as the sun slid in front of the rock I had been on top of earlier and found a place where it looked as if no one had ever been where the sand was smooth and the smell of rot was absent and little green things grew in that small, trash free place.Without words we picked up sticks once more and wrote our names in the sand. “Do you think this may be a fossil one day?” My almost whisper was lost and he looked at me strangely again and we walked back to the fire in silence. As we got there Buffy was coming in her boat to ‘rescue’ us with lines of coke ready to ‘placate’ us for ‘forgetting’ we were there. We kicked sand over the fire and got on board. Mojo took his but I refused. He joined the others as I sat alone and peaceful in the back of the boat watching the stars begin to twinkle. Some years later, after Barbie had come and gone he and I went hiking at Roman Nose. As we circled the ridge above on the worn, red granite outcrops I saw a place where there was a carving of two names: Mojo loves Barbie. I said nothing to him as we passed but I recalled a time when Barbie had told me they had carved their names on a rock in a park while hiking….only yesterday….1000 years ago. Bark Like A Dog Buffy was the ultimate coke whore. She was also the ultimate coke dealer…she was a blond bombshell with a strapless tan who liked men alot. The band practiced in her garage as long as her pet boyfriend got to sing. She did not like me but she had to put up with me as my ice-cream truck was the only thing large enough to haul equipment. The drummer, who was married and had a kid on the way, wanted to screw her so badly he practically saluted with his whole attitude…(along with other things!) He was her slave. They all were her sex slaves. In a reverse role play she had men begging for her and for coke and doing as she wished! She lived out in Norman in a really nice brick home financed entirely by drug money…she drove a black corvette and when she got out with the torn jeans and the white chiclet teeth smile and the bikini top men dropped like chem-trail poisoned birds. She kept a white powdery collar around her pet with his dark curly hair who was only too happy to help her select extra ‘partners’ for a nights fun so all the guys pretty much kissed his ass too. Most of the time I just watched. I never did coke again after I was a dancer so I watched the others and how they acted. She had this bed with four posters and mirrors on the underside of a flat solid wood top…the net effect being that anyone who laid on it looked up at themselves. Many a fellow found himself tied to Buffy’s bedposts begging. They let her tie them up for coke and then torture them for fun. If she was in a really good mood sometimes she would invite two or three guys so all the guys made sure she stayed in a good mood! The drummers pregnant wife hated Buffy! She called thirty times for him one night and Buffy never told him and finally the pregnant lady let her ‘have it’ over the phone so loud I could hear the cuss words! Later Buffy told Mojo, myself and the drummer, over a razor blade and a rock that he better tell his “bitch” to get her shit together and leave her alone! One day the drummer was begging for another line of cocaine. He asked for more and she said, “Get down on your hands and knees and bark like a dog” He did this. He did this for every line of coke she gave him and then she let him into her private party room. Everyone in the band was married now. Their wives were not allowed in her house. I was the only wife there. She kept trying to break Mojo but he was not into coke. He might have done her too if I was not there but instead he just watched and told me all about it later…Sometimes I think of the places I have been in life and I am glad I am not in those places anymore. For the purpose of the story I will re-arrange certain events. The events are real. The Red Dog If you run down tenth street to the ‘gangsta zone’ there is still a strip tease bar called ‘The Red Dog’ and people still work there now….proof that on earth, at least, Men may stop getting haircuts and barbershops may close in bad times but men will always go drool over naked women…Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s it was alot more upscale. Right next to The Red Dog was Queen Anne’s…they sold sex toys and head-shop gear like incense, hookahs and bongs. I still had my Ice Cream Truck even though I did not party anymore and Mojo had not yet met Barbie. Mojo was running with the Kane boys hoping to become an electrical contractor himself instead of a union apprentice. This meant doing alot of stuff he might not have otherwise done so that he could be in the politically ‘IN’ crowd. This meant that when Queen Anne’s put all their unsold porno books in the dumpster out back he would come home to the apartment with John Kane puking out the window and a truck-load of crap in my truck bed! John would take it and sell it. I loved Mojo so much I stayed with him even though I was miserable. He was seeing a dancer there named ‘Raven’ who worked with another dancer named ‘Leather’…’Seemed like all my money, that I made as a Social Services Director, paid for food and rent and all his money went for booze and dancers in hopes of landing ‘the big gig!’ Mojo blamed me for our soured relationship and why he would not marry me…we had been together 5 years…I blamed him because the manager of the apts was gay and I was not going to do him or her since they were both drug heads! Mojo knew if he wanted anything from me by the way of sex he would have to take it cause I was not giving it to someone who did not love me enough to marry me even while I begged. After a while I guess he got bored with force. I made my life all about his life thinking I had no value…he still played in the band and he still partied and he was leaving me behind for Raven…for Booze…for Porno…. Mr. Big was a famous band in America, (and still IS), and they came through one year and he went to a concert and came home elated! “WE PARTIED WITH THEM!” “Who?” “The band you MISSED again this time!” “Why do I wanna be with a bunch of hookers and druggies my dearest love?” “YOU MISSED IT! They wrote a song about that dancer we know! LEATHER! They played it!” Oops! Elated drunken men are prone to ‘oops’…. “What dancer named Leather?” “OH!….uhm….I never told you?” “Nope!” I cried all night until I was sick and it made him mad….I wished then I was a dancer again and then maybe he would want me again….this then is the song written by a band one of my ex- husbands partied with: “I got a little toooo drunk in OKLAHOMA CITY…. I didn’t care if she was young I didn’t care if she was PRETTY…” Beer In The Baby Bottle Mojo was mixed up with Herb who was a big time dealer of ‘snow’ under the guise of being an electrical contractor. Many a Hooker Party was thrown off Reno Avenue but Mojo was one of the employees who knew nothing. Once Herb tested him to see if he was the right material by dropping several hundred dollars in the office and leaving Mojo there to pick it up. Mojo did pick it up and gave it back to him when he returned…so there was no using Mojo in his crime ring. Mo-jo said the Kane boys were in it up to their necks but when the federalis came around those local boys went poof and someone said they were in Kansas. Herb even landed jobs at the Air force base…. Later…after Barbie…When they put those cuffs on Mojos wrists later the first thing that happened was not the interrogation about a dead baby, with the good cop bad/cop crap they pulled, after Hoff let me hear the tape of it…it was the feds going to The County Jail and asking Mojo to cough it up about Herb since Herb had hung himself in his cell at Lexington processing center in the isolation unit… .…but we all knew he was murdered by people who wanted him to shut up…. But none of that was any part of my own life… Just Jennifer and Chase as they tried to stay friends with me through the hard parts…she was preggo again and we all went to a little biker house party on the south side…I went in the door…assaulted by the smell of weed…there were people sitting on the couch tripping on acid…somewhere a baby cried and the Kane brothers showed up with white rocks…while they chopped those rocks up on a large glass topped coffee table a baby cried….that baby kept on crying….Jen told the baby’s mother, “You should check on him.” “Oh let him cry himself to sleep!” Everyone kept on partying….I felt like I was somewhere I should not be and did not know what to say to anyone. The baby boy cried almost an hour. I finally risked going back to see if he was OK and his mother followed and went into the kitchen after me as I followed the sound of crying through that area….she stopped me and opened the refrigerator door. In it were a few things…mostly beer and a half a gallon of apple juice. She got a bottle from the cabinet and I thought she would reach for the apple juice…. ….she reached for a beer!!!! She popped the top on the can and poured the beer in the bottle and handed the bottle to me and said, “Here feed him this. It puts him right to sleep when he is a problem.” Then she got another beer for herself and went back to the living room. I was horrified! As hard as my own life had been it was nothing compared to what this child faced! I dumped the beer out and rinsed it and filled the bottle with apple juice and went into the tiny room in the back where there was a dirty crib and a smelly baby crying and gave him the bottle…he grabbed it with both hands and shut up and drank! I left that house out the back door and walked to a pay phone and called Johnny and asked him to come get me and called DHS and gave them the address where a baby cried himself to sleep in a shitty diaper in a house full of drunken druggies…. Barbie Not so long ago the Learning Channel ran a program where they hired ten models and ten average people to apply for jobs on Wall Street. It was part of a study on the power of beauty. What they revealed was what I have known all my life. The beautiful models resumes were to the level of competency and the resumes of the regular people were advanced. They sent each group out wired for sound and picture and had them apply for jobs on Wall Street. Nine out of ten times the beautiful, less advanced models were hired over the average people….I just nodded and said… “They needed a study to prove THAT!!!!” In 1985 I went straight overnight. No more drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, nothing. I was a Social Services director in a nursing home and I was well respected. I was living with Mojo in a one bedroom apt. It became obvious that we were going in different directions. I could no longer be a part of his world or he a part of mine…but we had been together for almost 6 faithful years. I had so much invested in him. Many nights I would wait for him to come home drunk with a load of porno in the back of MY truck as he did not have a car at the time. He did not have a job. He was dealing marijuana out of the apt when I was not there. Things were bad. Over time our sex life dwindled to almost nothing. The dancer he had fallen in love with and expected to quit dancing and become a good girl for him had now become too good a girl for him. I was angry with him all the time. I had two separate lives. One was a road to success and the other one was my love for him and both world’s were about to violently collide. “I am not going to sleep with you unless you are not drunk or stoned!” He pleaded, “I am not drunk right now! I am not stoned right now!” I said with absolute anger, “You will be stoned as soon as we finish…and can you please smoke outside?” “Why should I smoke outside I LIVE here too! And I think you love your Rubix cube more than me!” That did it! I took the cube and went outside and smashed it on the wall and started to cry….I was sick for three days. All he said was, “That was sure stupid!” (Mom Takes My Artwork To The Rich People’s College) (The Rich College And The Art Scholarship) (Meeting TJ) (The ‘Bush People’) (Jaffary tries to recruit me to go to Singapore) (The Snow Man With Boobs) (Teaching Kurt To Walk Backwards) (The ‘Snake Society’) TaKaKo We were sitting outside of the student’s union where the main dining hall was and eating at the picnic tables outside in the sweet Fall weather. Reggie ,TJ and me. The three of us were like the ‘Musketeers’. I was studying for my first degree in art…(which I later changed). I was 24 and almost done. People thought the three of us were very strange. TJ. liked to mess with Barbies and then stomp their hearts. He was once a fat kid and golden people hurt him and he practiced martial arts until he became a fine looking and strong young man that Barbie Dolls chased and he gave back to that prototype what that prototype had given to him. (Today he runs a well known Martial Arts school here in the city) Reggie was a warlock. That is a male witch. He was 6 feet and 5 inches tall with snow white skin and raven black hair and he, too, had his share of beauties but he usually convinced them all to stay with him as a group. I was into the ‘beatnik artist’ role at that time and just started living on my own…there was no interest in me from those two chick magnets I hung out with. It was cool in the concrete overhang with the tall columns and we were eating and Reggie looked up and poked TJ. in the ribs and so I looked too and there she was…A Japanese girl in a short plaid skirt with hair to her waist and oddly shaped eyes for someone from Japan looking as childlike and lost as anyone we had ever seen…I looked at both of them…crap they were going to BOTH try to get her…both went up to her at the same time and asked her name. She had been watching everything very closely and she completely ignored them and came and sat down next to me. “Please…no speak Engrish well. You help me? I want to find HERE!” She pointed to a spot on the map that was the science building. Reggie and TJ came back and sat back down and gazed at her which made her very uncomfortable. “What is your name?” I asked her, and she almost whispered it with men that close and looked at me strangely. “Kai nu” in very distinct syllables as if she had already had too many people who could not pronounce her name. Then she said, “Please…YOU show me!” …and gave my friends a LOOK! THAT Look! The “Hands off!” look. I gave both of them my biggest, toothiest wolf grin and told her, “Yes I will show you!” Reggie jumped up and tried to grab her books and carry them for her and she would not let go and they ended up on the ground and TJ. could not pick them up for her fast enough and she started laughing. She had the most delightful laugh. she grabbed my arm, and ordered me, “YOU show me!” and then pushed me ahead to lead her, “Your books….?” she was laughing again, “They will get!” …so I went on and she held on to me and they followed us each with an untidy stack of her stuff in their arms. I showed her the building and they tried to hand her the stuff and TJ asked her out and she smiled sweetly at him and winked at me and said, “No speak Engrish. Thank you”. She was to become the fourth member of our group of ‘Musketeers’ but no matter how they tried they could never have her. She had taken a vow to remain a virgin for life and I believe she kept that vow. We all learned from her and she from us as a young man from Indonesia named ‘Kurt’ joined us later and another young man from Hong Kong joined us and his favourite words were, “Before China gets us we will burn the city to the ground!” (We learned later that Kainu spoke perfectly good English. *smiles* The last letter I got from her was last month…before the 10 point Honshu Quake) “Dear Shannon,Thank you for sending the book ‘Walking With Grandfathers’, I shared it with my students. They liked it very much. I still have ringing in the ears. The doctors say I will have this always. I listened to the CD that came with the book and my students liked the stories about the ‘trickster’. I am living with my brother now and taking care of his children. Please write back and let me know how you are. Sincerely, Kainu” The letter was with one of those lovely fold out cards with the tiny figures around tiny, colourful buildings with the mountains as a backdrop. She always sent these lovely little fold out paintings of where she lived….The Iwate Prefecture. ….If you are alive Kainu, …..be well….I am sorry your computer and mine never could work together…How time has flown. You and I like feathers on the wind… Kainu   Mojo was always asking me to come with him to the jam room in the city and watch him play in the band…I had taken to wearing my long dresses again and when I would go there was a roomful of long haired Barbie girls getting drunk and taking their shirts off and throwing them at his feet…I just could not deal with it as gracious and stone faced as I managed to appear. I went less and less. I could feel evil in that room almost so palpable I could reach out and touch it. The Song they were playing was “Cowboys From Hell” by Pantera. I looked at the walls and there was graffiti there…one graffiti was of anal sex and when I looked at it a blast of giggles came from across the room…I could not see who laughed at me from the mass of girls. One of them swayed over and handed me a beer. I handed it back. She opened it and dumped it in my purse right in front of me. I later learned she was Barbie’s best friend Reena. I left and got in my truck and emptied the beer out of my purse and left. Mojo could get his own ride home. It was not until 4 am. he came home drunk and stoned and happy as a gypsie with money. One day I went with him to a club and there on a bar stool was a girl. She looked exactly as a Barbie. She had long blond hair to her waist and huge blue eyes and the shortest black and white polka-dot skirt at the bar and legs that did not need hose….she was tiny and cute and every guy in the band and in the room was buying her drinks and drooling at her feet and fighting over her…except Mojo. He was ripping the strings on his guitar with his dark eyes closed in ecstasy of the drunk high and the music as his long blond hair swirled around him. The bar was dark and smoky with coloured lights flashing and men all gathered around one girl worshiping at her feet while she told the young Greek she was with to go wait in the corner. ….I looked down on my dowdy dress and at the plain coke in my glass and I knew I was less than she was as I say by myself and noticed her staring hungrily at Mojo. I went outside and stayed outside alone for some hours sitting on the curb until they were done. We went home…he said, “What did you think of the music?”, I sighed and said, “You were brilliant as usual…” he usually was. About a week later he came home from a gig and he was straight….oddly so I thought…he came to me and took my hand and set me down and looked into my eyes and said…. “I think I am in love with someone else”. Something is me went ice cold and with all the graciousness of a queen I said, “OK…bring her home.” The next night he did and it was the Barbie from the bar…she had been kicked out by her Greek boyfriend and had nowhere to go. She cried as she told me all about how he beat her and beat their infant daughter and how terrible her life was…I felt badly for her and I let her in…I slept on the couch. She brought her daughter to live with us. I never noticed until later how odd it was…but the little girl screamed with terror as her father the ‘Evil Greek’ handed her over with a very sad face to her triumphant mother at the door of the one room apt on the poor side of Bohemia where we had recently moved. After two weeks it became obvious what was going to happen…I was in my fourth year of college for the second time and, at 27 years old, I could not compete with a 17 year old Barbie with a baby girl…I could never have children. One night she was upset that she had to stay home and babysit her own daughter…because I made it clear I was keeping my four point grade average and I would never sit another person’s child. She was mad because I made the front room mine and the back room hers. I could hear her in the back room screaming at her daughter, “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! STOP CRYING! I CAN’T STAND IT!” Then she began to cry. I sighed and I put my book down, Shakespeare, and knocked on the door….she came out with her beautiful tear-streaked face and she said…. “She fell down off the bed!!!” she started crying harder….I said, “You really want to be with Mojo don’t you? She said “yes…”, and sniffled pitifully, “I want him to myself and this place.” I asked her quietly, “How will you pay for it?”, she said, “D.H.S.” Mojo came home later that night and he was happy and drunk….she and I had been talking and because I loved him so much I let her come to live with us I also loved him so much I had to ask him to choose…for both of their sakes…so that they would not have to live any lie. I said, “Mojo….you have to choose one of us. She wants you to herself. You have to choose who will it be.”….he said…very softly…. “I choose her…” I said “I love you both…I will see you later”…and as I turned to leave she said hopefully, “You will come back and visit? Like an auntie?” without turning around I said, “Yes.” There are some sorrows that are so deep there are no tears for them….I wandered out into the night and got in the truck…I went to his mother’s house and smoked a whole pack of cigarettes in one night as I rocked back and forth, stone faced, wordless, while she talked quietly to me. Getting Even His mother told me, “Don’t SMOKE so much PLEASE don’t smoke you quit for TWO years now I am SO proud of you!” I shrugged and said… “So I live so I die…what matter?”, she scolded me in a gentle voice, “IT MATTERS!” there are people counting on you! “Don’t hate him…” I said tonelessly, “I will not hate him…how can I hate my own son? But I hate what he is doing. Where do you want to go?”, I looked at the ground. How much worse could it be with da’s disgust with me than living with THEM. “Can you drive me to my parents house?” I asked her, “Tomorrow I am going to act like nothing is wrong and I wanted to do this…I don’t want Da to gloat.” She knew very well what I meant. The next day she drove me home. Mom was so glad to see me but Da was not…in the next two weeks it became too much to be a social services director and go to school too. I concentrated on college and gave my resignation at the nursing home. Da was furious but it was all I could do to stay in school…I was putting a happy face on not wanting to live. I went back to my old ways of pot and cigarettes and the wild life but I could not drink the alcohol anymore. I still was a part of Mojo’s life and visited him and his sweetheart and their baby…to the world I was laughing it up but inside I was bent on self destruction. I decided that I should sleep with all his friends and, as they were male and I was an ‘attractive’ (I still HATE that word) female this mission was not difficult and I had been friends with most of those fellows for years already anyway. It was easy with each one…some reefer, give ‘em a bottle of wine, flash some body part and off we went. All six of his best friends I had in one way or another. I did not say anything, as we chatted nonchalantly about the situation with Mojo and I and Barbie, about how I really felt…or how deeply it hurt me to hear them say how lucky he was to get such a hot young thing without even realizing who it was they were talking too because I had been one of the guys for so long. I had to finish school if nothing else…so I walked the lonely road with all the sorrow of the ages locked inside…smiling at the sperm that would make nothing and the talk that she and he would hear. I did not find out until years later she had slept with all of them too… …nor did I know the great tragedies that were lurking just around the horizon not the brief flash of amazing joy that would tear my life to pieces for almost 20 years. I saw her everywhere and she laughed at me from the posters of billboards and the pages of magazines for so long. It was not until I was very ill that such things ceased to matter to me at the level they had before…but even now there is a still, small voice inside that says, “You are never going to be pretty or know what it means.” Like Jim Carrey Told his son in “Liar liar”, when his son asks him, “Is it really more important to be pretty on the inside than on the outside?” and Carrey’s lawyer character TRIES to give the right answer and then says, “No son, that is just something that ugly people say to make themselves feel better.” Brawl In The Parking Lot Barbie and Mojo invited me to the band’s club one night to hear a new original. I had left my parents house and with the school money from the scholarship I had a very small two room apt in an even poorer part of Czech-town. I got in my car that I had bought for 500 dollars ‘cause it was already smashed up but it was street legal and it ran. I had quit the drugs again and only the cigarettes remained. I drove into the city…It was a big parking lot…gravel…and a large warehouse in a business district and from it came the sound of loud heavy metal music. I could hear it a quarter mile away from my open window. I got there late and did not plan to stay long…I was just making an appearance to be nice and hear their new original songs…one called “Blackened Eye” and the other one called “1-900”. As I entered the door above which was the saying, from ‘Dante’s Inferno’, “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here”… …I went into Hell’s own den. Iblees would have been so pleased to see it. There was now wild sexual graffiti scrawled all over the walls and words that people did not say in polite public. Girls dressed like hookers from upper middle class families got stoned and drunk with young men from the dregs of society who happened to be talented and good looking. An odd mix of worlds all breathing in and out of sex and drugs and rock and roll…through the dim smoke I saw the band and heard them playing the 1-900 song about calling a phone hooker to talk dirty for money and it was so loud it was beyond description. I think only an AWAX plane would have been louder. No one but Ryan, the bass-player, noticed me as I entered. I had been married to him once long long ago…he smiled and went back to his long haired heavy string thumping.The band took a break. The singer, Don, came up to talk to me and Mojo went out to the parking lot to smoke. It was hot in that warehouse and soon everyone was outside on the gravel parking lot under the night stars. One of the young wanna-be-hooker girls cat strutted over to Mojo and took the cigarette from his mouth and said, “Thanks baby!” Mo-jo smiled at her and Barbie came sailing across the parking lot like an open sack in a high wind! She slammed into that cigarette-stealing bitch and down they went! Screaming and squalling like mating cats I could hear the muffled words, “man-stealer!” and “Dirt-bag!” amid the flying hair and scraps of clothes and Mojo stepped out of the way in alarm…he hated fights…Jessie, the drummer, yelled, “CATFIGHT!!!!!” …and soon everyone ringed the two girls….Barbie’s boob hung out of one side of her shirt and her face was demonic. The other girl was on all fours on the ground snotting and crying with blood streaming from her nose and her drunken boyfriend saw that and got enraged and went for Barbie as if she was a man…several of the fellows there who were in love with Barbie saw this and stood to meet him…Mojo stepped back even further and Barbie looked at him like a savage demon…if looks could kill he would have dropped dead where he stood. The fellows protecting Barbie were going after ONE guy and some of the drunken bikers there did not think that was fair so they went to the poor fellows aid while his broken and bloody girl-friend crawled off the field….Barbie was in there swinging fists with one boob flying around and blood on her face. Before long about 50-odd people were brawling in the gravel parking lot with a kind of glee that you see only in Hollywood westerns. Only Mojo, Jenny, Chase and I stood back from the melee watching in astonishment as one girl brought the whole evening to a screeching halt. No cops came. We were too far away from any neighborhoods for anyone to here this trouble but as people tired and slowed and the dust settled and the bloody noses where wiped and black eyes and bruises ignored the fight ended and everyone grabbed a beer or passed around a joint and pounded each other on the back and said how great that fight was. No one was killed… Barbie was surrounded by a knot of admiring young fellows and her rival licked her wounds in a dark corner alone. Mojo looked at me across the parking lot and in the moonlight I saw his face and I knew he was feeling bad about his choice….but it was too late. Barbie was seared into my brain as if she had branded it with a hot iron.   (All of this part of the story comes from testimony of witnesses that I collected who were there at the time. Yes. I also acted as his defense. He could not afford a lawyer and the public one given was no good. His mother mortgaged her house to get a private lawyer and he was also worthless. I did most of the law work myself and the research. There was one problem. None of the witnesses would testify at trial….they were all dope dealers and pregnant DHS moms. They would give written statements but they would have to be subpoenaed….and it is nearly impossible to subpoena druggies who do not want to be found. Mojo would spend three years in jail before I could get enough evidence to have him pardoned.) Stoned On Saturday night, in the apartment I used to share with Mojo, a roomful of stoned people sat around a wooden coffee table in a two rooms on the poor side of Bohemia. It was really GOOD Columbian Gold and the smell was strong. Jenna was heavily pregnant as she leaned on the denim cushions to support her back and prepared for the next big bong hit…. “Hey don’t Bogart that!!!!” she laughed as Chase took a second hit before he passed it on. Some blond hashish was impaled on a pin, rigged to a round wooden base, with a water glass over it and was also circling the group. Hashish was not that hard to get back then. But mostly we got blond. It had its own kind of high and everyone was mellow and calm and through the crowd of legs sticking out from various articles of furniture that lined the ‘den’, as I had come to think of it, wandered a small 18 month old little girl. She too seemed hypnotized by the smoke and the music playing in the background, ‘Pink Floyd’….”All in all you’re just a’ nother brick in the wall….” No one was really paying attention and she stumbled over a foot and fell and hit her head on the coffee table. She did not seem hurt or cry much so Barbie went and put her in her crib in the back… The next day Barbie left her daughter in Mojo’s care and went to get pizza….when she got back the child was still sleeping and had been sleeping all day. Mojo said he thought it was weird so slept so much and they went back to look….She was not breathing. Barbie screamed and grabbed her…someone had told her that if you lightly shake a child it will begin to breathe so she did but soon she was crazy with grief as that did not work. Mojo called 911 while her attempts to wake the child became more frantic…. .…and more violent with desperation. When the ER tech’s got there they said the child was in some kind of coma and had such a faint pulse it was barely there. Mojo and his love followed the ambulance to the Charity Hospital in the city… ….when they got there the head doctor looked at Barbie and said, “Little missy…you are going to jail tonight so you better start praying.” She began to cry and she grabbed Mojo and wailed….he held her in his arms and said, “I will take care of it.” When the police came he held out his wrists and let himself be cuffed and led away and she called her grandmother from the hospital to get her Uncle from Dallas to fly up …he was a wealthy attorney. The doctors came out and said…. “She is dead….she was shaken to death.” Mojo would never hear from her again until after he was married to his last wife, in 2004…. Briarwood Apts. Two rooms….part of the front one a tiny kitchen on the poor side of town. Still in college to finish my art degree and it was around 1989-90. I had left everything behind for Mojo and Barbie and left my parents house. My mother and the school were paying for me to live in that tiny place and I made it my own. I made it green. Just across from the complex was a bar where all the town’s inhabitants went to get drunk. That included police officers off duty. At school I moved like a frozen ghost through people and my only friend outside of my mother was Mojo’s mother. She needed me to drive her in the beat up old car I had to the jail to see her son every week. We would go and leave him money to bribe people with and buy cigarettes. Little fellows like him are often badly hurt in jails unless they have people behind them….a wife is the best as she can come and go much more freely and bring things. I asked him through the thick glass to marry me one weekend when Annie and I went to see him. He would not marry me when he was free and after he said “no” a few times he finally said, “yes.” But that is a later story….this one is a part of how that came to be in the poorest section of the whole town: “Crack Heaven.” I had been there for 4 months alone. I had just finished up a semester and was taking a breather in between before I had to go and register again. Since I had nothing to do but school work I was on the president’s honour roll with a 4 point grade average and a reputation for eccentric brilliance in my classes but outside of that world I was alone 90 % of the time. I talked to walls, stray cats, strangers, light poles, the wind….and even myself. One night I became incredibly sad. I unlocked the door and began to cry. I stood in the kitchen area and cried as if the world was ending and then I heard his voice behind me…… ……”SHANI!” ….there was no one there. No one. It was Sunday night and I had gone the night before to hear them jam at the jam room. I had not stayed long as the bad feeling I got there became more intense every time. I did not see Barbie there that night. Only Mojo had been there playing his guitar and I wondered what had happened to Barbie. I asked him at a break and he said, “her ex-boyfriend would not come and get the baby so she could come here….she and her friends partied all morning and afternoon while we were here jamming…she was pretty upset to be stuck at home.” I remembered all the times she asked me to stay and visit her…and she told me all about how having that baby had made her deformed and how she was ruined from having that baby and how she and Mojo had anal sex and how she talked Reena into a threesome with him. She was obsessed with this idea that having a baby had ruined her female parts forever and that now only her ass was any good. She told me everything that she and Mojo did, in bed, like she HAD to tell me. But that night I was not thinking of her…I was thinking of the baby and that baby was looking at me from the second story of the apartment, where they lived, and that little baby girl oddly had no arms. It was the strangest vision and I could see Mojo thinking only of his music the way he always did. Music first and woman second. I had tried to tell her that before she insisted that she wanted him for herself alone but she would not listen. He was brilliant and amazing and that was all she could see. I knew that from experience….if there was a choice between going to a gig and staying home with a sick wife…or one who had to watch the baby…he was going to the gig. Mojo and I chatted that night a little bit and the singer, Johnny, said, “You and he will always be friends won’t you?” and I said, “Yes.” He said, “You are the only woman like you that I know…”, I laughed at him and said, “But not hot enough for you to want to keep me eh????!!!” Ryan was so stoned he could barely notice me as I came in… …But that was the night before and it was THIS night and this night I heard Mojo call out for me…. “Shani!!!!” I called his mother at midnight and she was crying…she was saying, “We are at the hospital and Mojo’s brother is getting off work and coming here too….she is DEAD!!!!!” Barbie’s little one year old girl was dead. They asked me to go to that apartment and bring her baby toys to the hospital and I did that. I witnessed how much Mojo loved her to sacrifice that much and wished I had been worth the same. The Man Who Died I had not yet met Nadeem. I was still going to school. I was still living in the little green apartment. I was trying to help Mojo get out of jail. He had been such a huge part of my life and I could not stand to see an innocent man suffer. I tried not to hate Barbie. I was so lonely that most nights I left my door unlocked hoping even any stranger would come but none ever did. It was in this apartment that I first knew, even without being there, that something bad had happened, and it was from this apt that Mojo finally came to stay for two days before they took him away. He made love to me that last night before the cops took him, crying and saying how sorry he was that he had left me and how he had regretted it from the moment he chose her and I believed him but still all I could see was her face. I spent almost two years there so lonely a rapist would have been welcome. I would laugh to myself that they would probably be scared to death of me…as I was so desperate and rapists like fear and I would be like, “You wanna WHAT! Hey sounds great how fast can we get down to it?” Most nights I talked to the walls or cried myself to sleep. My mother was, as she has been all my life, my only real friend. As I was not partying and did not drink or do drugs, only smoked cigarettes, most all of my friends had once more left me behind. No one came to see me. I began to think that I was not real. One day Jenny and Chase came to see me while I was undertaking some revenge. It was the first and last revenge of that kind I would ever take. I lit every Candal in the apartment. It was September and the fall had started. There were twinkling flames everywhere when Jenny and Chase surprised me by coming to say hello and say how sorry they were. I asked them, “Would you like to be a part of something?” they said yes they would…..I wrote his name on a piece of paper, The policeman who had interrogated Mojo and lied to the media about him, and burned it and went outside. I told them to think at me their mental strength to add to my own and I gave the ashes to the wind who was my friend. We stood there and Jenny, whose baby was born now and living with Jenny’s mother, was afraid and said, “Where is your circle?” I told her, “There is no need for a circle we are standing on a sphere and if you think a line in the dirt is proof against what you will see then you are mistaken.” I raised my hands and began to keen with the wind which was growing stronger by the second….Jenny and Chase ran back in side as a huge CRRRRRACK of thunder broke the sky and the storm howled in as I sang my sorrow to the winds and my hatred for the man who was the reason for injustice. It was done. I went back inside. They were sitting on my couch staring at me as if I was the devil incarnate….they made up reasons to leave quickly and I was once more alone.The day after the next one the local paper ran its story about how the man had died of a heart attack in the thunderstorm that had occurred the day I desired revenge.You can say it was coincidence. I would prefer that it be coincidence myself…but I never performed the act again of desiring my own justice. Halloween Biker Party Prosecuting Attourney was still alive. I almost wanted to try to kill him with magic too because he was well known to care more for being right than Truth and elections were that year, for his superior, and the news had already plastered my best buddy’s face all over the television as the murderer…but in a way it was his fault for protecting her from a feeling of love…and sticking his hands in the cuffs of local injustice, not aware of the full consequences, when the doctor told Barbie, “You are going to prison little missy!” Mojo never would lie and said he did it but they wanted him for another reason too: Harlie the mafia man….but that is another story…yes….drug/porno mafia is everywhere….Oklahoma was a hub then. Oklahoma’s second biggest cash crop then was marijuana! In a way it was my fault too Barbie’s baby was dead and he was in prison. She was not a good mother and as I had gotten to know her boyfriend, the babies father, the Greek fellow, he was a nice guy and the child seemed to prefer him but that is another story too…I did not want to be accused of being jealous. In this state the mother is always awarded the children. I was in college, working on Mojo’s defense for his pardon. Working on my degree keeping a 4 point grade average each semester and so lonely I felt like ghost in a vast, pitiless field of nothing. Everything I did was for other people. Everywhere I looked I saw a mother and child…a man in handcuffs…people high on drugs. Like a bull I kept pushing on. Jenny invited me one night to a bikers Halloween party.I dressed in long clothes and wove flowers in my hair and my charactar was to be ‘Mother Nature’…Jenny wore a hooker outfit and Chase wore a grim reaper costume…men loved those. Half the guys there were a form of tatooed ‘Death’ and the other half let the women wear the costumes.They had a ‘best costume’ contest…. I won third place completely covered and the girl who won wore a unicorn head over her whole head and was totally naked except for a leather collar and a chain in the hand of her…’keeper?’….she won first place. Sometimes she would disappear in a dark corner and stagger back…drunk? Could she see? A man with alcohol on his breath kept asking me to dance and leering at me…in the smokey dark bar without even a mirror light where the local band played metal head music I could not say no forever…Jenny was with Chase so she was safe. I was thinking what to do when the man grabbed me and pulled me out on the floor and yanked me up close against him. He whispered in my ear, “Where is YOUR man little girl!” A sudden idea hit me and I smiled a big angelic smile at him and said, “He is on death row for first degree murder!” That fellow let me go so fast I almost fell backwards on the floor! “Sorry maam! Not Interested!” I was fine with that as no man touched me the rest of the night….. (later to be added) I meet Sherriff Parks Again at the Jail House Wedding I have said many times I was truly ALIVE twice in my life. One time was a Mapless Farm-town and the second time was Edmond Road on an autumn day….   Why I Love Asia: Part Two People always ask me from both sides, “Why do you like (Pakistanis, Afghans, Persians, Asians in general, Arabs)”, and I am going to explain this once more in this postcard from my life. When I was barely out of diapers mom got me a book called “The World Book” and I could read a little bit but one things the book had was BEAUTIFUL pictures. It had a bright yellow spine and was satisfyingly heavy and thick and in it, I thought, was all the knowledge of the world….It said so on the title! There were pictures of trees and flowers and their names and a picture of the United Nations and said how wonderful now our world could be this way and my little mind was filled with dreams of flower children like i saw on TV all holding hands singing ‘Kumbahia’ and that those poor kids in Vietnam would never starve or cry again…(yes I was acutely aware of them and of war…my mother wanted us all to HATE war! We were protected from nothing that was real in the world.)…and so I dreamed as Nixon promised the War would end and visions of American soldiers killing Americans at Kent State skipped through my childhood dreams while I owned that book and read it over and over until it was ragged. Most of all I loved the pix of the camels and the deserts and the smiling arabs with the striped tents and the persian boy and girl sitting on a carpet in fancy clothes and the balinese dancer girl with her foot crooked at an odd angle and I made my first impressions of the EAST…..Full of tales and strange beings called djinns and CAMELS! Camels….those are SO AWESOME to an Oklahoma farm kid who loves to read and has a mother who was a bilingual world traveller…she was my inspsiration to be filled with stories….when I was 10 we celebrated the end of the ‘Nam but a new war became clear…the distant tales of the jackboots of the Soviet Empire!!!!!!! While reading about Sheherazade and the 1001 nights and dreaming I was some exotic princess in some land I knew nothing of the Soviet Union became the ‘axis of evil’ and we had drills where sirens would go off and we would hide under our desks… (Later I laughed knowing how stupid and fultile that would have been had the MAD treaty ever been broken.) I was aware of war and politics early and facinated by them and had nightmares of them and we were taught to hate the Soviets who put Christians in Gulags and tortured people to death for speaking thier minds…. But there was a shining light in my child and preteen life….the Mujhadeen. they said on the news these guys were the toughest on earth, They told us tales of such derring do and bravery where they mighty Soviets were crsuhed with all thier superior weapons by Mujahids with almost nothing to fight back with….it was like hearing about real life Sinbads who made it over the bad guys every time and they even compared those Mujahids to my own anscestors on moms side who were freedom fighters against the British and I recalled the stories of Da’s people and how they fought the British and the stories here of Mahsood, ‘The Lion of the Panjsheer’ and the movie ‘The Beast’… …and while I saw these things and read these things i was also reading Micheners book ‘Caravans’ about the Cochis and the Silk Route and I wanted to grow up to be an archeologist like James A. Michener was and see the Khyber Pass and MoHenjo Daro and travel across the Hindu Kush on the back of a Bactrian Camel… …In particular I still recall the face of an Afghan girl with green eyes who was near my own age, a little younger but….on the cover of National Geographic. We had a subscription for years and any map of the east that was in it was MINE the day it arrived….years later that haunting face was to be the project of a search for a different reason in a different time….to this day I can see those green eyes staring into mine. I knew so little and so much….Ghengis khan…Alexander the great…Marco Polo!!!!! Ahhhhhhhh…The tales of Kings! the Mughal Empire! Shah Jehan! Omar Kaayaam….My young mind thrilled to these things and these romantic ideas even while mujahids beat back the evil Soviets…..In 1991 I met some real Pakistani’s….with ALL THIS behind me already….I would never be the same again. Samhain It was Samhain and it was a glorious day. My house was clean, my sacred objects were ready on the altar and the International Student Union was having a fall event that promised to be very entertaining. I put on my long, black dress with the red roses on it and my long,white English riding cape as it promised to be a cool evening. I was not beautiful…but that night I looked exotic and mysterious and I gloried in it! I smoked the last of my weed, sprayed on some ‘Maroc’ parfum and headed down the highway for Edmond Road. It was getting dark when I arrived and cold. I was glad for the fluffy, white cape that reached my ankles. I pulled the over-sized hood down past my brow and entered that cold evening gliding soullessly as the burning stars that had begun to show their bright faces to the Mother upon whose sacred circle I put my feet and my very life flowed down into the ground and I KNEW that tonight was the night of all nights; the pinnacle of my existence… The event was on the third floor. I entered the doors and took the elevator to arrive in a different dimension…it looked the same but it was not the same…it was the theater of The Djinn. He was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. He was dressed like a Pattani tribesman and he carried a simitar…a chitrol pak to top it off and I wasin love with a dream that was not of this world. He did not see me…or so I thought. I did not know he had captured my image the day before when I visited the student exhibits it my long witch dress and beads. I entered the theater… …and was never the same again. Oh what I saw that night! Divya in her purple, gypsie skirts swirling like a dervish with fire in her hands and stick dancing in a circle with smiles gleaming and long ponytails flying like birds in an invisible wind! There was magic everywhere…thick like the smudge sticks at a Native American pow-wow…and then HE came onstage and began to dance the ‘sword dance’…the sword flying through the air and down, jumping like mountain rivers through boulders and voices chanting wild rhythms in the night I was transfixed and he could have ripped my heart from me and laughed in my face as I died and I would have thanked him for the privilege but, I knew in my heart, men like him don’t ever fall in love with girls like me… (I am still trying to find that song today…I have tried to find it for years.) It was hot. I realized I had never even removed the cowl from my head and, when the dance was over I had to go outside…I needed a cigarette worse than I ever needed one in my life. I left the stuffy auditorium and went out the doors to the balcony and lit up the cigarette and some one behind me said something that sounded like “Vouz Maroc?” I turned rapidly around ripped the hood from my head and said, “No. American!” You could have heard a star die in the shocked silence that followed as seven Pakistani youth stood speechless in front of one cigarette-smoking American woman dressed in what they thought had been a Moroccan man’s burnoose. One of them said to another in an almost whisper, “That’s the lady from the picture!” As my eyes went to the end of the line of them there he was…now dressed in jeans and a leather jacket grinning like a demon. Our eyes met and I knew him. In how many lives I had seen those same black eyes….something cried out in my heart like someone dying and I knew then that I belonged to him. Nadeem walked up to me and asked me what kind of garment was I wearing? “This is an English riding cape.” The other fellow, who spoke French, said, “We thought you were from Morocco! We are going to go meet people would you like to come with us?” “Sure!” He told me his name was Faraz and we all went back into the auditorium that was now full of bright lights and a crowd of people, from every nation on earth, all dancing like crazy people! That night we all went out to Western Sizzlin’ Steak House and they bought me dinner. There was a point at which the balance was tipping between Faraz and Nadeem as to who might win me but then Faraz suddenly stepped back, although he had talked the most. As we left Nadeem wrote his number on a sandwich box and they went to their car and drove off and I went to mine… …smitten. November of 1991 he brought me home with him. I had hunted him down. He had given me a fake phone number and I was determined to find him. I had his whole name it should not be too hard to do. I called the International Student Union and said that I wanted to share the sites of Oklahoma with some students I met at the end of October at the International Students Union party. I was able to convince a girl at the phones that I was going to rent a bus and take a group to see some of the sites and I said I needed to contact Nadeem. I must have said the name wrong but I got a number and called it. I told the fellow I was looking for Nadeem and he said the strangest thing, “There must be a God!”, I asked his name and he said “Nadeem”, I said, “Are you the one who did the sword dance?”, he said “No.” I said is there another one with your name? I repeated it again….he sounded very sad then. He said “Yes I know him.” I told him about my idea and he gave me Nadeem’s real number…which was only one off from the one written on the sandwich box he had given me. I called that number. He answered and was astonished…. “How did you get my number?”, I said, “You gave it to me.” He tried to recall what he had written on the box….but he could not remember….I asked to meet with him and he said yes…I told him the park nearby…he said he would come there. In Haver Park in November I saw him again. His dark hair was going to trap me I knew but I was going to hunt him down and catch him. I knew in my heart already that he would break mine…but I said to myself to let sorrow fall from me like the red gold leaves of autumn were falling from the trees. He got out of his car….tall and amazing looking. I got out of mine….we looked across space and it was if some electric jolt shot between us. He said, “Your hair…Daughter of a Djinn…” and began to laugh. He was going to help me bring her home and he had no idea just how true, what he had told her, was. I liked him. But she was promised and he could not have her to marry as a wife. He also, although he was not aware of it, was ‘bloodline.’ We spent the afternoon walking through the tall grass and the long paths through the trees near the low small creek that flowed a trickle over small pebbles……we talked and laughed and joked but even though what we said was nothing the feeling between us was so strong it was almost visible. Both of us got in our cars to leave with some regret. But that bond was still very strong in us….he called me then and we agreed to meet again. I had a small apt still but money was running out and I would have to move home soon. He would not drive so far to meet me where I lived and so…like every other time in my life before…I was the hunter and I drove to see him.The winter was coming… It had been ‘instant love’ stir and add the water of tears and the sweetest flower in my life had bloomed. I was easy to catch…hunter trapped hunter… …LOL… I had been discarded for Barbie, ignored, alone….giving all of me for everyone else….the perfect target yet…(even later, when he told me how hot my sister was, I did not care.) Winter was coming…. We met at the park…We got out of our cars I had not yet moved in with him I still had the little apartment at Briarwood. The park was cold and grey and I laughed out loud as I saw we both wore black….Winter can be lovely when a dark-haired devil is walking by your side. We walked the path through the almost leafless grey trees to the circle of golden red sandstone rocks with the tree at the apex of it. “Your hair is the same colour as your land in autumn” He had such a sweet and merry smile. “Your eyes are like the night sky wherever it falls in the world…”, something in me was so peaceful and content in that split second of time…he leaned up against the tree…I wanted to remember him that way a life time….So dark and tall and handsome…So sure of who he was and where he belonged. The chill breeze was light and blew hair too long for a guy in my world off his forehead and the cold did not bother either of us. He was so tall. Without words he opened his arms and smiled at me with so much joy and without words I walked right up to him and let him draw me close. He smelled like pepper and roses and rain….like clean earth and snow…no one ever until this day had that smell…He was laughing and circled each of my arms with his long brown hands and lifted them up and I tried to reach around his neck and couldn’t….so he slid down the tree a bit and he was wrapped around me and I locked my arms around his neck and there in the cold under bare trees and grey skies red-gold hair rested on black silk shirt and I closed my eyes and drown’d in something that I still cannot describe to this day….we stood there a moment? An eternity? I could feel the roots of my land send the energy from dirt and rocks up through my soles and into his soul…and I felt as if I had become the sky embracing the mountains where flutes and drums beat wild around ancient campfires.After some time I moved home again and it was December. Before long my father and I had a fight and he kicked me out. I called Nadeem….he said to come and he would let me in. He asked me to please come to the back door as many people lived there who would misunderstand my being there. I agreed. I pulled into the parking lot late at night…I went to the back door and barely knocked….he answered and let me in. Sitting at a kitchen table, eating, was a group of young men…some of whom had also done the sword dance. I said hello to them and they ignored me. It was very strange. He quickly led me off into the front room and we sat down and began to talk. Before long I was in his arms as one might hold a child and looking into his eyes like a bird hypnotized by a cobra. Something in my soul dropped endlessly into darkness and I did not care. “I said…I need to go now…”, he said, “Where will you sleep?”, I said, “In my car, ” he said, “No you can sleep here…” I thought about it and I said , “OK I will sleep on the couch…thank you.” He said, “No I will sleep on the couch and you can have my bed.” I agreed and he led me upstairs…all of the young men I saw had somehow disappeared as if they were hiding. In the room across from his behind a closed door came voices and I knew they were all there….he left me in that room and closed the door….I was almost asleep in the complete darkness of a very comfortable single bed that smelled like men’s cologne…Later I was to find out that was Adeel’s room too but he was so disgusted with a woman being there he was sleeping in the other room with everyone else….at the time I had no idea of the truth. As I began to fade off into dreamland a heavy body landed on my legs and as I rose up in intense curiosity a big hand grabbed both wrists and slammed them and me back on the bed…if I had been prepared to fight he would have had quite an amazing one but I was half asleep so it was not an equal situation. He cut of my words as I began to ask ‘why?’ with an amazing savage kiss that almost choked me….the other hand proceeded to rip my roses on black dress off along with some silky black matching underwear and he forced one knee between mine and soon he was in me like some hungry madman who had not had sex for much too long. He hurt me and every stroke was banging the inside of me and bruising me…I tried to pull my legs together a little bit to stop that and he hooked his arms under both knees while I cried out but it could not be heard because his tongue was down my throat and in spite of the pain he was hitting just the right spot until every stroke was into a contraction and pain and pleasure collided like a wreck in the dark…It was not long and it was over…and he ordered me not to make a sound…I could feel his amazed surprise in the darkness as I whispered, “Lets do that again!” He whispered back, “Are you a virgin?” I said, “No.” and laughed softly….he was speechless in the darkness and we began to talk and the next time he was as romantic and sweet as he had been savage the first time….he said, “There was something about you so…sexy I had to do it.”, I told him there was no need for force and he said, “But you were so tight!” He was making me laugh as I realized that he was, in some ways, kind of innocent and probably watched too much porno. We continued to whisper as he was afraid his buddies in the other room would find out he was with me…I told him it was just that it had been about three years since I had any sex and then I told him, “I loved you the moment I saw you in the sword dance…that is why I hunted you down. I wanted this.” He was quiet for a long moment and then he pulled me down next to him and we fell asleep tangled in each others limbs. I fell into endless darkness.Through the thick curtains in the upstairs window sun bled in bright strips from around each dark square and as I awoke I realized my clothing was ruined. Red buttons had flown off and bounced off walls into the floor and now the black dress with the roses was a ragged thing. Red marks that would soon become bruises around my wrists and cloth twisted under and around me both sheets and ruined clothing. As I raised my wrists to look at them in the dim light I became aware that one leg and one arm trapped me close to him. He was warm and strong and I did not want to get up but I had to. I tried to move his arm away and sit up and he opened his eyes… “No.” He was very strong and he grabbed me by the waist and moved beneath me easily and as I watched his wild black hair twisted into knots and those long beautiful hands grip me all I could do was grab his upper arms and as I fell forwards he slid backwards until he was sitting and leaning on the wall and there was nothing I could do but lean on him and let him…as easily as if I was nothing he set me where he wanted me…and in my life not one man had ever achieved that in that way. As the sun began to come up fully and he ordered me to make no noise someone banged on the bedroom door. “I am giving you my energy” As I lay against him in a kind of speechless awe I felt him pulse deep inside and his whole body go rigid for a moment as he bit off a cry himself. Someone yelled through the door at him but I did not understand then. He sighed and lifted me off and told me to lay back down and not get up ’til he came back and said it was OK…As I looked at him a great sorrow seemed to well in his eyes and he said, “You are so sweet, so smart, so wonderful…I wish you were younger and more innocent…” I laid there with a maelstrom of emotions…love, self hatred, hurt, and after he shut the door I cried silent tears…I was not special after all…not to anyone. He returned dressed and wet headed, “Everyone is downstairs and the shower is free now and no one will bother you in the bathroom.” He went to one of the closets, “Here is something decent to wear and I am soory it is all I have right now…It is men’s clothing but it will not matter.” I stared at him, and I whispered, “I love you….” He looked at the ground ashamed of something and said….”I am fond of you…but I do not love you.” And he left me there. In a strange apartment in a houseful of men who did not love me I washed the love away and pulled on my first plain brown salwaar-kameez with drawstring pants and a long wide shirt with a hand woven kind of ‘blanket’ I still have today. After finishing that part of life I sat on the edge of the bed and realized one thing…. …for the joy he had given me he could kill me and I would love him even as I bled to death and for the first and last time in my life I knew what it meant to love someone more than you love yourself… …and I found Joy. (Some of the stories are compilations but all of the events are real.) I lived with them for about six months. It is so odd that in that short span of time a people could have such a profound effect on my life and my opinion of myself. If I had anything bad to say about myself Faraz would get angry and tell me to “chup.” He never let me say anything about myself unless it was good. Once more, in my life, I was balancing on a tight-wire that was very high and I had no safety net. Once more I was living two separate lives but the sweetest life I ever lived were these times… The Great Fight “Why did you bring that WOMAN into the house! This complex is desi only! …what are you thinking! This could get back home!” They were screaming at each other downstairs in Urdu. I was beginning to understand a little bit and I was curious why they are screaming about me when they avoided me and they never looked at me or spoke to me. Nadeem was yelling back. I came downstairs. I was listening and they all ignored me. I listened all the time with hyper-intensity! I had grown to love the way Urdu sounded. It made me feel like a child again. I went to look out the window and Faraz spoke to me for the first time, outside of a public place, as he said sharply, “Get away from the window everyone is outside looking at us already!” He was right… In the short glimpse it seemed every Asian fellow that lived there was out in the parking lot enjoying the weather and talking to each other and staring at this apartment. My new housemates went on fighting. Faraz called me a name that means, “Woman who goes her own way” and I knew it was a bad name….I yelled at all of them as loud as I could, “MEIN PAGAL, TUM PAGAL, HUM SE PAGAL!!!!!” I knew I had one word wrong but dead silence fell over the room…I ran back upstairs and Faraz ran after me begging apologies. I turned and said to him from a higher stair, “You think I would not much rather be in a place of my own! If you want me to leave then I will leave!!!!” I began to pack up my things and he stopped me and unpacked everything as I packed it and said… “This is not about you this is about Nadeem and what HE needs to do and HIS responsibility!” He grabbed my shoulders and made me sit down….he said, “This is not your fight…you come back down and we will all calm down.” I went back down and the fellow I had come to know as ‘Zee’ was still looking at me with total surprise, he said, “We will have to be very careful what we say around you from now on”…and then Zee smiled at me….a dazzling white friendly smile like I never got from any of them. He patted the seat on the floor next to him and I sat next to him and he told them all I was his older sister now and they would act as if I were and while they discussed how to live around me we just smiled at each other and ignored them. The Phone Call from Abroad Things had settled down in the house and a sort of routine had set in for the rules for how to act around Zee’s ‘sister’. A part of that was that the boys would make up reasons why I could not be with Nadeem and they would have large sleep-ins downstairs with everyone in one room so that no one could do anything wrong or everyone would see. It made Nadeem very frustrated and he tried to take me to hotels but they were always wanting to know “Where is she going? I need to go shopping I am coming along…me too there is a car I need to see about you can drive us” and it became a game. Nadeem trying to get to me and them trying to keep me from him. One day Nadeem said, “I have a friend calling me from Pakistan at 4 pm today….meri mary…could you help me make a joke on him?” … “Sure!” I laughed, “I will help!”, he said… “Can you make your voice sound like those hooker voices on those sex-call lines?”, I said, “Yes of course I can!” So we taped the answering machine to say in a really sexy way, “Hi there! Are you looking for fun? Well you’ve come to the right place big boy!” We all waited for a half hour in the living room for that call to come laughing and giggling like mad…..waiting for his friends response, At precisely 4 pm the phone rang….we began laughing like crazy and pounding on each other and such until a woman sharp toned voice left a message, in Urdu, “SON! YOU ANSWER ME RIGHT NOW!” It was Nadeem’s mother. His face turned several shades of red and Faraz began to laugh like it would make him sick and Nadeem rushed to the phone and started with the, “Nehin…nehin….atcha, atcha, nehin….and for the next two hours he tried to explain to his mother what a woman’s voice was doing on his answering machine….Faraz told all of us, “He should have never answered that. He should have let it ring and stop and changed the message back and let his mother call back and tell her she got the wrong number. I loved to hear Faraz talk…his voice was so deep. It was funny the two of them…Faraz so evil and yet so good…so tall and slender and fine boned you would think he had the high voice but it was Nadeem with the high voice… The Broken Vow He looked at me sadly, “He broke a vow for you….he swore he would not touch another woman after the blond French woman. We all travelled together here. I loved you first…but he….” He looked away and had no expression. He was in many ways both the worst and the best person in it. Although it still makes no sense to me today he was such a paradox; smoking cigarettes and watching porno without regard to who was around him and yet at the same time he acted more to care for myself and his brothers than anyone else in the group did. I remembered him from the night of the student union, tall, slender, laconic and sarcastic. Shy in some ways but not in other ways. He was the one who could speak French and the one who tried to make his brothers be good MOST of the time. He was no hypocrite nor did he ever pretend to be anything he was not…He went on adventures with me but he never touched me. To him, I was Nadeem’s, even with his broken heart that I would never know the depth of until much later. “You did not understand when he first brought you. We could not look at you or touch you. It was not you, personally, it was that he brought sin into our house. We did not know what to do with you or how to react to you. The only thing we could do since you were not leaving was to make you like a sister to us. Asim is…tharki…not for you….he does not love you…”, I had not yet learned the word ‘tharki’ but, in retrospect, that may have been what he said. He looked away again and we did not say very much….we spent the day studying our subjects and then Everyone came home from work. Adeel made chicken biryani and roti…..everyone watched Khal Nayak in the living-room and I listened to everything. EVERYTHING. A Night With Faraz “I need to sleep…I need to get up early you can have her,” Nadeem said to Faraz and we all looked at each other….I knew what he meant although I did not speak Urdu. Zee laughed nervously and then everyone did except Faraz because only he and I now knew what he had wished from the beginning. Since they had been keeping me from Nadeem, in one way or another, to keep us both out of sin, Nadeem saying this was very odd, given the circumstances. Ali looked at Faraz and said, “Can you be OK with this?” Faraz nodded. At the time I knew nothing of what they meant or their plans…or why it was funny I did not find out until afterwards. Faraz said, “You will sleep in my room tonight.” We had spoken many times and I trusted him and I expected that I would belong to him too as things went in my life. It is not until I am writing this now that the tears come and I realize just how much he loved me. Not by his action, but by his lack of it… …Everyone ate together in the kitchen…each using pieces of roti as scoops for the briyani and saffron rice. As each group left to go to sleep Faraz took me by the hand and led me upstairs with him….Nadeem just looked at the ground and said nothing….he went to sleep too. Faraz had the nicest room. He was fastidious about being neat and clean. We both smoked so we chatted and smoked and finally got tired. I had long nightgowns I wore and nothing showed I could have worn them in the street with no shame. Faraz said, “Come here and rest with me.” I sat next to him and he rolled over on his side and held me in his arms….I was surprised the one so slender was also so strong as neither of us ever showed our arms…he whispered, “I love you.” And we went to sleep and woke up the same way. He went into the bathroom to get dressed for work and then came back out, I was amazed, I asked him, “Why didn’t you…” He cut me off and he said gently, “because I really care for both of you…” and he left to go downstairs for breakfast. I had never met a man who would just give love for nothing until I met him… …he and his friends changed me. Pancho’s Liquortown We were done with finals and the boys were all going north to drive as cabbies and cross the Canadian border and make enough money to come back and they were all going to be gone soon…leaving me behind for a short time.That day we decided to all cruise around town and see what there was to see. We also had to go pick another fellow up at the airport. Faraz was driving. We pulled up to Will Rogers World Airport and made curbside. Back then no bad stuff had changed the world to the degree it has been changed now and we got that fellow with no problem. We had two cars because alot of people wanted to see him and make him welcome. He got in the back of the car with us and LOOKED at me like, “WTF!” but did not say ONE WORD…so then Zee started to chatter at him and Farhad tossed occasional comments back and he seemed to settle in. At one point we passed ‘Pancho’s Liquor Town’…..This suddenly became funny so I started to listen…(I did ALWAYS listen to what was being said around me and try to understand it). This becomes funny on several levels across cultures when you know a few things. First I lit up a cigarette about the same time Faraz did….the new guys eyes got kinda big…. ’Pancho’ is a Mexican name and it is also a kind of warm throw on garment for winter. The most famous real Pancho was Pancho Villa who was a real bandit (dacoit) in real life and there are many jokes in Texas about him the most famous one being about a shit-eating contest at gunpoint…but I digress…now around these parts the word ‘liquor’ is pronounced ‘likker’ and also used in many double entendre jokes about male/ female dating habits. My buddies knew most of this but the new guy did not….He asked Zee why was a place that sold liquor called THAT! Well I perked up…what was the big deal here! Hmmmmm!!!!! Zee started to explain about the name and he guy said, “That sounds like ______” He said a word that sounded not much different than the Mexican name! The car ROCKED with laughter! No one had ever thought of this before! My friends were screaming with laughter and I did not know why…. “OK please explain to me what ______ means?” Ohhhhhhhh Boyyyyyyy!!!!!! That brought the house down! They were screaming and laughing and crying except the new guy who was speechless and staring at me with my lit cigarette and the fact that I said ______ and the fact that I had a CLUE at all to what they were saying! Zee started in English, “_______ means…” Faraz snapped at him, “CHUP!” Everyone was grinning at me…at the new guy…at the situation…Later Faraz took me aside privately and explained what was so funny….the Urdu equivalent of M.F.’r only a different family member and ALOT worse to say culturally…..and applied to a place that sold haram sharabi too! What a life! The Top Button Ali was coming in from another college and Faraz and Nadeem were watching their porno on VHS. They were wondering how a girl can pee that far when Ali came rushing in through the door and threw his back pack on the couch and headed for the kitchen for some milk and some leftover chicken tika and as he passed the two porno hounds he stopped and gasped in surprise, he turned several shades of red and white and went into the kitchen and did not come out. I had been studying art books on the couch and not paying any attention to their porno. I looked up at his face as he ran into the kitchen and followed him…. “That is wrong Mary! That is very very wrong. I can’t believe they hide this from me! That should not be in this house it is a curse in this house How can I live here if that is here also?” I went back out and walked up to the TV and turned it off. “Why did you do that!” Both men were chagrined. “Women!” said Faraz with some scorn. “SIN!” I said with a scorn of my own, “I do not care as all of us are already corrupted but Ali is innocent and you have hurt him!” They went into the kitchen and got Ali and set him in the armchair and laid it back and said to him, “You should at least LOOK once…it won’t hurt you…Ali was trying to get up and they were teasing him and fighting with him…he was really mad…. “I am not watching that!”…. Ali was not going to watch that so i was going to back him! “Why are you trying to make him? Leave my brother alone!” I went over and begin to struggle with them to push them away from him. My palm may be the only palm outside of his family that was female that he ever touched…but he accepted my help and I pulled him out of the chair and we were both going to go, he said to me as he looked at me with great seriousness, “You cannot stay here if that is here.” He told them, “She is not coming back until you have gotten rid of it out of this house…if you want to watch it go to the apartment next door they are dogs!” As we left he looked at me and smiled and reached out his hand towards me. I watched in fascination as once more an action I thought would be one way turned out to be another as his hand caught hold of the top button of my blouse and buttoned it up, then he said, “NOW we can leave here!”…and looked at them with disgust. He called them after some hours and they assured him that the tapes were gone and that we could come back. We had been staying at another friends house drinking chai with thick milk and lots of sugar in it. He would not let me have my pack of cigarettes the whole time….he said, “Someday I hope you stop these forever….but this pack I will save you from.” (I would not stop smoking until a doctor told me a had a tumour in my head many years later.) Everyone decided (without telling me) that the best way to stay sin free was everyone sleep in the same room together so no one could get away with anything…I thought it was a kind of party so before we all went to sleep there was a huge mess made: All the couch cushions were put in the floor for a mattress…that way the couch AND the cushions could be a bed…the cushions were taken off the recliner for the same reason and those who were used to the floor just put their blankets down on it. All the guys went upstairs and I knew they prayed up there together. Alot of people there that night because there was a big choice to make: Where to make money for the summer….most everyone had agreed one of the border states with Canada as taxi cab drivers. Maybe 2O guys were there and all related in some way and all used to me and my existence….and all nicer to me than any fellows had ever been….That night they had home made Karaoke and it was the funniest thing I ever saw and I did not understand half of it. Sami got the ironing board and pretended it was a key board and Faisal got the fry pan and made it a guitar and Adeel (who I would meet again years later) Got a mop and pretended he was singing to a girl and stroking her mop head hair…some of the other grabbed kitchen objects and banged them in time to the music as they sang the popular Bollywood songs from the 90’s…..the funniest was when they made fun of Khal Nayak…everyone was roaring with laughter as one of the fellows did the men’s imitation of the theme song “Choli Ke Peeche”….As we all laughed until we cried and Adeel stroked the mop head and sang love songs to it and for a moment time stopped for me and it was as if they all froze as my mind said, “We are having a party….with no drugs….no alcohol…so sex….no nothing and everyone is happier now then anyone I ever saw at ANY party I was ever at in my whole LIFE!” And then they came to life once more and something hit me in the back! A couch cushion!I grabbed it and hit back! Before long cushions and pillows and blankets were flying every where! Zee and I were matched off in a beat-each-other-to-death with-feather-pillows match and it was the safest most violence FREE fight I ever saw…laughing like kids and I felt like I was five years old again in the mapless town…. …what joy to learn that the most amazing times can be had with the good will of the heart. I was to spend the rest of my life looking for, and never finding, that as i did not realize then how totally WEIRD the situation I was in WAS and how unlikely it would ever be again….I did not know enough about cultural differences or what a huge change they all had made in their own lives for me….and I will never forget it… …five minutes before I die I will think of them all. Soon everyone was tired and beds laid on the floor and everyone crammed into a spot and asleep. When we woke up…which was always very early at the same time so whoever was there could go upstairs and pray…Faraz was sitting on the couch with his arms folded and his feet planted looking like he wanted to fight. “What is wrong what is wrong!” we all cried…why the bad face????? He looked at all of us with complete disgust…he said in his deep sarcastic voice, “ALL NIGHT…..all NIGHT! ALL OF YOU!!!!!!! F**king ORCHESTRA! I got NO SLEEP!!!! Everyone SNORING in different KEYS!” Howling with laughter while he looked disgusted they all went to kitchen or bathroom to make that huge water mess and go upstairs with wet heads and pray….I did not know what ‘wudu’ was then…. Three Dots There was an International Student Union Event on Edmond Road. It was winter. I did not know the significance of the event at the time but now I know it was the end of Ramadan. All my friends were going. Nadeem was wondering if he should take me or not. It was two days before the party…Zee said, “Mira khayal ha issay bi sath lay chaltay han” Faraz was not sure, he thought about it and said, “Kia kahayngay ya kon ha???,” Nadeem said quite sharply, “Iss ko sath nahi laykar jana.”…This decided everything for Faraz as the two men always competed. They even seemed to speak different varieties of Urdu sometimes. I guessed it was whether or not i was going with them. He said, “Yaa bi hamaray sath jayee gee!”…Zee smiled and Faraz said, “Ok I will call my friend in New York who is coming here to bring her the right clothes. Nadeem then told him to bring me something of his regional style. Faraz agreed and everything was set. For the next two days they planned what everyone would wear…Zee looked magnificent that night all in white with the rolled brim chitral and white chaadar with purple trim and Faraz wore solid black with black embroidery…..Ali wore white also and a brown leather vest and the rolled chitral…Faisal and Sami wore white with deep green embroidery and I had the fanciest thing to wear I ever wore in my life….it was deep purple and covered with Gold embroidery and had deep, long sleeves and a long dupatta. All purple with gold embroidery….before we left, Nadeem said, “Do not speak to anyone but us. And he took my eye pencil and made three dots on my chin with it, “Do not wipe these dots off!” it was a command. I obeyed …Nadeem was magical with make-up and while I ofen ended up wearing a half a pound of it for him I never looked so good! As we got out of the car and went into the parking lot I felt as if I were surrounded by a group of kings….and as we past a fellow he called out to Nadeem, “Aa karay botay naloon layee yaa!!!!!!!” Nadeem laughed when I asked him what that guy said as Faraz stared at that rude guy and said in English, “This tree is in MY garden and no one can pick anything from it!”, and the fellow walked on… …All night long they stayed around me and allowed no one near. I do not know what anyone thought then but I do now…They thought I was someone’s Pahktun sister. Zee’s Bride It was 1991 and 8 of us were gathered around that small, round kitchen table trying to help Zee b’hai make a choice. “This one! Look at this one and read the letter!”, “No, look at this one! Your mother likes her alot….she is your cousin to and you know about her already!”, Zee threw up his hands and said, “All of you decide then and I will see if I agree!” He folded his arms with an adamant look on his face and I knew he was disgusted! (I had seen HER picture a month before. He had dragged it out of his wallet with tender hands and fingerprints that made the edges ragged. She was a smiling, innocent young girl dressed in blue walking down a side walk looking into his camera.) He had told me then, “Her family rents from us. Her favourite colour is blue. We love each other and I want to marry her but my mother does not like her. She is not….” As he tried to explain I learned more about the ephemeral idea of ‘caste’ that all societies world wide practice and realized there was an economic disparity between his family and hers. He would stare at the picture with hungry eyes and a sad face and hope he got to stay here in America so he could bring her here.) “THIS ONE!”, said Nadeem, “She is the prettiest!” “No look at this girl and what she wrote she likes….”, and so the ‘fight’ went on while Zee tuned us all out and I looked at him KNOWING! Finally we all decided and shoved a girls picture that his mother had sent him under his nose. “This one.” said Faraz. Zee bhai looked at it and laughed, “I am NOT going to have anyone who looks BETTER than I do!” This defused the tension and everyone began to laugh and he pretended to be offended. In 2002 I was working at Taco Heaven and thinking of those golden days…Midwest City is a military city and the manager was an ex drill sargent so we had to answer all drive through customers with a military attitude that always made me feel like saluting. It was November again….the time of change always. I heard a familiar accent in a womans voice order some burritos and I felt stupid as I barked out, “Welcome to Taco Heaven can I take your order MAAM!” in perfect military style…I took her order and a desi woman in a blue car drove up. She was wearing blue scrubs and the interior was blue and with a shock I immediately recognized her: Zee’s blue sweetheart. As I looked into her wide set panjabi brown eyes I saw a deep sense of sadness and trouble and she looked pointedly at the dashboard….there were two photographs there! One of Zee and her and their young son and one of Me and Zee standing together on the night I wore purple and gold…..I caught back a hard sob and kept my face as Nadeem danced through the rivers of my heart and I smiled at her and said, into her now shocked face, “He was my baby brother here. He loved you so much. I cannot tell you how happy I am that he got the love of his life! Thank you.” Tears filled both our eyes as she drove off and she never came back or said a word to me but as her eyes met mine she had known I spoke the truth. It was last night, the end of November 2010, as I hugged my kitty all alone in this apartment and cried and cried with others who cried as I did for men who did not love them….”Now when I remember Spring (youth) all the joys that love can bring….I will be remembering….….the shadow of your smile.” (Andy Williams from ‘The Sandpiper’) I can still smell your cologne even now….even at this moment as if you were standing behind me. You are not there. I looked.) The Blizzard The snow outside today in this year of 2010 reminds me of the day in 1991 we all went out in the very dangerous blizzard. We went to Hafer Park. Faraz always drove. I sat in the back with Ali and he stole my cigarettes and would not let me smoke them. Even casual he was always the picture of elegance. It would not be proper for me to go searching his pockets so I had to just let him steal them. Divya sat in the front seat between Faraz and Nadeem. She was a lovely girl. Nadeem always told me whatever he did with her…I loved him too much to complain…of course they were keeping me from him too now so…they all knew I loved him so. Divya and I standing side by side was a small china doll standing next to a blond version of ‘Zeena the Warrior Queen’…they were always joking I needed to find a wrestler for a mate and laughing at the meaning of the name…I can hear their laughter as clearly now as it was then, light and free and happy….Nadeem had his arm around Divya. I hurt but I did not let I did not let it show…she was not to blame…I was kidding around and we all took pix and risked being stranded in a blizzard like young idiots. One pix looked like a movie shot: Nadeem’s face next to beautiful Divya’s laying in the snow…I got back in the car and Ali never left the car and while those two young people had a snow ball fight I acted tired…Ali did the oddest thing, for him anyway… “I am sorry.” Then he put his arm around me and I leaned against him and we said nothing.There are pictures of me that day somewhere in the world wearing a long purple cape standing on a high icy rock, alone, arms out, with a barely visible smile of pure joy eating the thick, fat snowflakes even while tears froze on my face….because I knew….I knew I KNEW that was like a diamond in time already cut and sold to the highest bidder… …Time. Nadeem posted me some videos to watch by a popular Islamic scholar. I heard them over my iPhone he gave me and after the last one Memory came and tapped me on the shoulder. First I have to say that, in recent events, I now have a cover like others who are also writers and help from an IT guy when I needed it and he was reliable and prompt to answer. All these people are Pakistani. People often call the names here having no real knowledge of anything. People from India, Pakistan and Saudia Arabia are all ‘Rag-heads’ but those ‘rag-heads’ are as culturally diverse and different and you can imagine and hardly anyone from Pakistan wears ‘rags’ on their heads. People just see someone brown and assume that shade of brown is the same and do not even bother to notice name, dress, or any other factor that might show there are differences. As I finished listening to the videos and Memory came I told Nadeem the story from 1991. The First Mosque I was living with my friends then. I lived with them for six months. During that time I learned so many things. The most important thing being that they loved and accepted me just the way I was and I was a crazy messed up person. One night at midnight everyone was awake, with the exception of those who had to get up early. We were talking about God and Fahad and Faraz decided they would show me the mosque. I was concerned. I said, “I am not Muslim. I am not supposed to see the inside of one unless I am Muslim because that is what I have always been told.” “No no! It is not like that!,” said Fahad, “The imam there he loves all people he will talk with all people or teach anyone who asks and wants to learn. He will not mind.” Fahad had a key. He was one of those who could recite much of the Quran and maybe even a hafiz, although if he was he never bragged about it. He was a very holy-minded person but not the kind that beat people over the head with it. He was the kind that lived what he believed and smiled and was always happy and peaceful. It was Winter it was and cold out so I was wearing a heavy knitted shawl. Fahad got the key and Faraz drove us both to the mosque. We pulled into the parking lot and Fahad unlocked the door. “Do I have to cover my head?” “No you are not Muslim you do not need to cover.” Fahad smiled at me. I was going to enter without my head covered but I could not show less respect in a holy building than I had shown in a Catholic Church when I had to wear a ‘mantilla’ to church when I was a child. To the surprise of them both I pulled my heavy shawl over my head…. …and we went in. It was very small and simple. There were notices on the wall and I peeked into the main prayer room where they held Jummah. The carpet was a curious set of lines that automatically oriented the one who would pray in the right direction. Along the tops of the walls was the lovely Arabic Script and Fahad said they were suras. They showed me the door to where the women prayed because I said I wanted to pray. They did not know what a wreck my life was because, while I was with them, I was so happy to be accepted and a part of their lives. But I had been looking for God and looking for answers and not finding them anywhere. I felt like I had to pray while I was there. If God could not hear me anywhere else maybe God could hear me there? I knelt on the floor facing the way the carpet lines directed and put the shawl over my body and started to pray. I did not know about looking right or left. I did not know to greet God first I did not know anything about Islam really except what was glossed over in Comparative Religions class or was a part of the history of the Mughal Empire. I prayed out the human wreck of my heart this way, “God I have no idea what you want from me and no idea what to ask for so just be with me and let Justice happen and let all thing be for all people for the best good.” That was all I knew to say and I stayed there for some unknown time, in the dark, crying because I had no more words. I was sad that there did not seem to be an answer but, resolved, I got up off the ground and wiped my face on my sleeve and, with the heavy knit shawl over my head went back out to meet them. They were talking in the foyer waiting for me. Faraz said, “Did God answer you and do you feel better now?” “I did not hear God answer but I do feel better now.” “That is good. I feel better after I pray.” said Fahad. I was to lose them all for 20 years and some of them I was to lose for my life time. The way they were I have never lost the memory. Whatever time has done to them and to me the memories of those days never leave me. But I was so happy to get two of them back 20 years later. You see I was sure it would be only in paradise before I saw them again. Years later, in 2005, I became Muslim. I would be a liar if I said that my love for my old friends had nothing to do with it. Allah bless them them all for eternity. (Dedicated to Pasha because he was disappointed once) I haven’t been able to write this until now. I don’t know why I can now but… Saying Goodbye Mojo had finally been realeased from Big Mac. My ‘jigri’ friend. My buddy I married so I could see him on death row. My buddy I worked so hard to free him…driving his mother, who had no car, to see him every week with me on my dime and on my time because she was a good woman. He called me near midnight from the bus station in the city and I went to pick him up in my little grey Honda and when he saw me his face melted with joy. He almost thought I would not come. I saw him and I saw my best friend standing there alone in the dark and thought of the man I loved who kept insisting I keep going to see who he knew was my husband by paper, for the purpose of assistance… …I also saw her beautiful young face…the reason why I suffered all the years. We hugged. He was so frail. So tiny. So strong. Smiling and crying he was when he got in the car and I put off the moment I would ask for the divource until later. Now was not the time. “I didn’t think you would come…” I took his hand and held it gently around shifting gears… “You are my best friend…how could I leave you here alone?” We did not have much to say as I took him to his fathers house and dropped him off. I felt like a jongleur with many balls in the air as dread filled me for the price of truth…any truth…and I moved back into my parents house. I kept going to college and went to see Nadeem and things were surreal and blurred like a painting by Monet. Outside the apartment where I lived only part-time with my friends I heard the familiar deep rumble of what I knew was a black souped-up ‘Vette. “He wants to talk to you.” Nadeem was torn in two I could see it in his face. Here was another man like him who had a claim on me. Pakistan was blacklisted that year and no one wanted trouble. He had already been clear he did not love me and he had never lied but he knew he might lose me and like a weather vane runs in the wind we faced whatever direction we had to face…you see…neither of us had expected him to be pardoned and we thought we could carry on with this relationship indefinitely. I already had planned to marry him at some time if I could somehow with all the desperation of my soul. “I cannot talk to him what can I say to him?”, Deeply saddened I went out and talked him into leaving but he would not leave us alone. He stalked me and a part of me was confused. One man was fighting for me and the other one was standing back…it was like the saddest Bollywood movie I could think of. Everyone playing their part with as much nobility as they could in the drama that makes me die a little inside to write it. There came a day that, as I left my parents house, he asked me to get in the car and I did. He took me to his fathers house and they all stood in the door with the paper that said we were married and told me I would live with them until Mojo found a job. My mom was angry my Da was happy, my college was not finished and graduation was less than a month away and I had been guaranteed a job as university professor. I only had finals left. Da sold my car. Mom came and got me once and I was at her house and I called Nadeem…I was crying…he could not hear it. He asked me to say something naughty for him. I tried but I broke down. I apologized. Then he said what I will never forget: “They will tell you I never loved you. I love you. I love you. I love you.” Even as these words come from my fingers at this minute every cell of my body is screaming the day it did twenty years ago after I hung up the phone. The rumble of the ‘Vette was outside and putting on a stone-faced smile I left with my ‘paper-husband’ who fought for me harder. My heart was a rock and my eyes were damned rivers with no outlet. When we got to his fathers house he said, “Give me his number.” “No.” “Give me his number I want you to choose now.” Once more her young lovely face smashed into what I thought was a dead heart the day I had told him he had to choose one of us. I gave him Nadeem’s number without speaking. He called it. “Yes. This is Mojo. This is her husband… …yes. Yes. I want you to stay away from her. Yes.” He handed me the phone with a look like Death. “He wants to talk to you.” There are no words even now for the abyss of pure hell that burned me and scarred me forever as I took the phone and heard him say things and all I understood was, “Are you happy with this?” The world was exploding my heart was insane and I forced out the lie around tears he could not see, “Yes I am happy.” Mojo watch me cry silent tears and watched my hand shake as I handed the phone back to him and once more I left reality. Someone else took over. I gave Mojo that day what he did not give me the day I left him with Barbie.   I did not complain that he did not like me to go to college. I did not complain that he wanted me to be a homemaker. I did not complain about the cigarettes and the marijuana and having to deal with his ex-wife. I was over forty before I completed my degree. I was not the girl I had once been…I told him, “I do not love you.”, he said, “I love you enough for both of us.” ….as he said this the words of my mother and father echoed down the canyon of memory in my brain… …my life was over. (I saw Divya again the day I took the vow at the mosque on St. Clair in 2005 ….still unmarried. As she bent over a pack of Marlboro cigarettes fell out of her duppatta and the crowd waited for me after Jummah to witness…As I said the words,”La illah ha illah Allah Mohamedan rasoolallah” Some one in the crowd of witnesses cried out,”Make her say it all in English!” I was no longer Catholic and she was no longer Hindu and all because of a set of golden days set in the diamond sold to Time….As each word comes from my fingers I can smell your cologne Nadeem…From the days of my youth… Geo is dead…Johnny is dead…Tommy is dead…Ryan is in prison til he is 65 for assaulting a police officer…I am blessed indeed… ….Allhamuillah.) Mojo…he was free from jail now….I tried to love him as he now loved me. He fought for me….even kidnapped me and took me to his fathers house and said I could not leave until I gave him Nadeem’s number, …He did not realize what it would be like to live with a broken-hearted woman for over 10 years and not change anything that had made me angry like drugs and cigarettes. ….It was 1993. Mojo and I were legitimately married, the way we should have been the first time we met before he chose Barbie all those years ago. He found a job as a maintenance man at an apartment complex and I found a job there as a landscaper. Mojo had just been pardoned off of death row. From the beginning Barbie’s face was always there and the drugs did not go away. As much as we loved each other we were so vastly different now that our relationship was doomed from the start…but we tried. For over 10 years we tried. That year the phone rang. Land lines then. Cell phones were a luxury. I answered it….Mojo was supposed to be in the back bedroom practicing his guitar but instead he was playing a prank call on me, he said, “Hello does a man named Mojo Vaclav live there?”, I began to laugh…. “Cut it out!”, I said laughing thinking he was on the other phone in the other room but then he walked out of the other room and he said, “Who is it?” I was startled! I asked who was on the phone. What sounded like Mojo’s voice again laughed, “Jan Vaclav!” said the identical voice with the identical laugh! Then I knew who it was and I screamed and dropped the phone, “MOJO IT’S YOUR BOY!!!!!!!!” I could hear his long-lost son laughing on the other end of the line. Mojo picked up the phone. “Yes? Yes?…” and tears began to roll down his face as he listened to that voice… …He had looked for his two sons on and off for 14 years. One was 15 and one 14. He never could find them. He hung up and got his coat and said, “I am going to the bus stop.” I did not ask any questions because I KNEW….and time went backwards then to the old white truck that was Darla’s back in the party days… …I recall her even now, “Ruth gets all the attention and I do everything to help and no one cares….I think I will stop taking the pill…” I was looking out the window thinking….I did not want to hear other people’s business and she was married to Mojo all those years ago. I remember when everyone except me was begging him not to marry her that he would be sorry all his life if he did, (and he was), but I told him to follow his heart….weird….I did not know then I would be his next wife. Ruth was sweet and kind and pretty and made people love her even if she did do acid while she was pregnant….but Darla was a fireball and hard to like and they set me to ‘baby-sit’ her to keep her out of band practice many nights….I would end up playing Poker with her and her Dad while he got roaring drunk and called her a ‘Chili-belly’ (her mother was a Mexican lady who died when she was nine) and talked about ‘Nigger this’ and ‘Nigger that’…a man more uneducated I never met but he did love his little ‘chili belly’ with the fire spirit in her! Darla got pregnant without telling Mojo and she planned to NOT have children because they had agreed he was going to have a career as a musician….she thought that meant some glory for her too…not women throwing their underwear at him and local gigs! She had this dream he loved her enough to change for her and if she had a son maybe he would become a ‘hero’… …I knew it was a mistake…Mojo only ever loved Barbie the way we wanted him to love us. As I was musing Mojo came in with two tall, slender young men. One was a copy of Mojo’s dad….One was a copy of Mojo….he was still young enough they were almost twins! As it turned out Darla had dropped both boys off at a private orphanage when they where four and five with the instructions that “No-one that ever came asking was to know where they were.” They had been raised by her father, the old man I played poker with, until he died while she drove an 18 wheeler across America from one shore to the other for a living just as her father had done before her….when the youngest turned 14 they could, by Texas state law, be allowed to be declared ‘adults’ and go find their parents…the older boy chose to live with his mom. The younger boy chose to live with us…It was the only time in my life I was ever even close to being a mom….Even today after 2 tours in Iraq and his brother deceased sometimes he calls and still calls me, “Mom.” The Day My Left Arm Quit Working It was August of 1996 when I was getting up off the floor from my customary cross-legged position. For some odd reason I could not. “Mojo? Come help me?” He looked concerned and pulled me to my feet. My left leg worked but was buckling now and then and my left arm was limp. Suddenly the left side of my tounge was siezed as well and for a coupla seconds I heard my voice sound like a child with down’s syndrome… …or a stroke victim. Mojo looked scared. I got my voice back. “We can’t afford a doctor.” “I  will for it to pass.” he said softly. I lived that way for a year and a half. I rehabbed myself with Mojo’s help. I studied anatomy and muscles and had him tape my shoulder socket into place with the tape going in the same directions the muscles would. My arm was separating from it’s socket from it’s own weight. The tape pulled sores in my skin but it helped as I made mayself pick up marbles, pencils, and with my right hand would lift my left one into the frame of a window to try a little weight. I still mowed da’s yard as I had for years but now made circles instead of squares using the weight of the self propelled mower to make me have to use my left arm. Other muscles took over for the ones that were damaged and atrophied and I got partial use back. My tongue siezed up for about two years on and off before it made a choice to be crooked and I formed my speech around to sound normal again. Once more I was strong. I think then is when the tumour began to grow but no one was to find out until years later. For many years I was accused by even some of my own family for making up symptoms for attention. Mojo believed me. He lived with me. As I became stronger I volunteered to keep the front garden for the owner of the property and he eventually re-hired me on as a landscaper during a time I was, with the exception of limited use of one arm, quite possibly the strongest, physically, I ever was in my life.Those were good days then. Working the land. (Raking the leaves and singing songs in Gaelic) (Learning Xeriscaping) We moved from apartment to apartment every two years as the maintenence work went….My family hated him for pursuing me. He kept on with the dope and the cigarrettes and as I no longer cared if I was dead or alive I joined him in the race towards death once more….Barbie was always there….even to this day the choochoo train girls laugh at me from billboard signs and commercials showing me that I have no value in my world. He could never understand the depth of the wounds or the love that once was….so puppet life became real and I was ‘Mary’ once more. Mojo was pissed at the Mormon we were working for and wanted to leave. The church he was going to had a fellow in it that was a dealer in cheap real estate and was very rich. That man supported the church so the preacher preached whatever the rich man said to preach. Mojo and Ron became friends and Ron told him, “Well if you don’t like where you are working I have a friend you can work for from Utah who is buying an apartment complex here….You and your wife can be a team. She can manage the complex and you can be the maintenance man there. It is only 40 units. It is not as much money as you are making but the apartment is free and YOU will be the boss there instead of someone else!” Mo-jo said “Yes!” and told me what a GREAT opportunity it was and I was not thrilled but I said “OK…” because he was happy. Elton came with us to the new place and we moved all of our things into the new apartment. At that time Mojo had two cars. One red sedan my parents had given him and white sleek white corvette. (most all of his money was spent for pot and car.) The first thing I noticed about this place was that 10 of the units were burned. The second thing I noticed was that all the windows were Plexiglas which is not pretty after a while and scratches easily. The third thing I noticed was that all of the cars there were rust-buckets or ‘jacks’ or busted windows in them. Our apartment was roach infested and I had to move in anyway….Hubby, me, son and Solomon the half bob-cat who peed on my sons clothes if he left them in the floor. We met the owner: Another Mormon! He said, “This is what I expect from you. I want all these units renovated and I want YOU,” he looked at me pointedly, “to find LEGAL reasons to evict everyone living here so we can put a new dress on ‘granny’ and sell her for more money!” he laughed, “We won’t worry about her underpants!” I was thinking, “OOoooooo boy….In the search for an easier job Mo-jo has landed us in a small slum-lords hell hole”… …as we worked towards the owners goal we learned some things. One: The previous owner had paid city officials not to condemn the property for demolition! Two: Most of the children there had worms or lice….I came to know this when they would be locked out of their apartments until mom (and MAYBE dad if they were so unlucky) came home from work and they asked to use the office toilet. They never flushed. I saw my first worms wiggling in human feces. They also liked to play in the dumpsters! Three: Right across the street was a Box Factory and it STANK and the prevailing winds blew the stink over us all the time!If there was a local place in the city for hell that was it! There was a maintenance man who had already been there. He had the previous owner purchase about 150 white porceline toilets and they were stored in the burned out units. There 500 wax rings in there and all manner of useless junk….not to mention that for every one person I evicted two more came seeking a cheap place to live and I could not turn them down. In the apartment next to us a young man lived and the sickening smell of a meth lab assaulted us continually but we could not evict him because when we called the cops they said they needed more evidence then a smell. One day I was sitting in the office and two men in expensive dark suits and dark sunglasses came in and the first one flashed his ID; but, unlike the movies, he let me READ it! His name and EVERYTHING! He and his companion were ‘quietly’ well armed and quite polite! This was not exactly like TV! “Maam we are looking for this man and woman and we have information that they live here.” He showed me a photo. “I have seen her around these apartments but not the man. I do not think they live here they must be visiting someone.” He nodded at his companion. “Can you point to the unit that you saw them enter?” I thought a moment. I HAD seen them on an upstairs balcony near where an old hermit man lived but never WHICH apartment they went into. “Sir I am not sure what unit they went to but I can show you the balcony!” I took them outside as the hot summer winds blew the stench from the box factory over us and some children came running from the dumpsters to see the weird men! They stood and stared with their tangled locks and tattered clothes and still innocent little dirty faces at the tall expressionless fellows next to me. Mojo must have been hiding out because he, for very valid reasons, was terrified of anyone that ‘smacked’ of LAWS… …One fellows nose wrinkled at the smell but he said nothing. Quietly and slowly they made thier way up the rickety rusty iron stairs to the second story where the cement was so cracked it is a wonder that those living on top did not fall on those living on the bottom! They began to knock on doors as the hot sun fried even the dust that the always present wind swirled around our faces. Salty sweat mixed wih the dust ran down my face from my head as I shaded my eyes and watched them. No one answered any door except the hermit and he indicated a vacant unit next to him. They kicked the door in with guns drawn. I was shocked no one lived there! At least the papers said they didn’t! I went back into the office…I searched through. I called OG&E and they said there was no electricity running to that apartment and while I did this the two men came back. “Maam how long have you worked here?” “I just got this job about a week ago.” “Did you know people are living in some of the vacant units?” “No sir I did not.” He nodded at his companion once more and said, “You will have to clean that unit and fix the door but not until we say you can. We have informed the local police to come and gather the evidence.” Then they left. That evening on TV they showed the faces of a man and a woman who were charged with abducting and transporting a child across state lines and asked all citizens to call the FBI if they saw these people. It was the man and woman whose photos the two men showed me! In shock I thought to myself, “Some poor kid was held hostage here and I had no idea! Nor did anyone!” As I thought about it I wished I was never here and that things were different and the smell of burning crack came through the walls from next door. I guess there is no need to say that ‘Cherry Pit’ was a ‘gangta’s paradise’……drugs, hooking, cops, the whole nine yards. It was like trying to run a train wreck. As manager I had people paying rent once a week, once every two weeks, once a month and sometimes giving six months cash up front for a lease without a word. I had to live on the property and Mojo was starting to hate this job too. Many days he would sleep in long after I got up and many times I would do some of his work too. I think he felt lost in an ocean of broken things and crooked people and he could not fix things fast enough….the place should have been demolished long ago. Already the residents knew I was boss…already they looked past Mojo, stole his car stereo, took advantage of his honesty for, even if he was a druggie too he was honest….He sold the red sedan to a fellow to get money for more pot and only got a fraction of what the guy promised to pay before the fellow left. His life there and mine were both spiraling into a kind of ‘Blame Festival.’ One day I had to put an eviction notice on the fellow next door’s apt. for failure to pay rent. I was sooooooo happy….that SICKENING smell that made me dizzy would be GONE! That night Mojo came home in the white corvette with groceries. One the door was a spray painted graffiti that was a death threat. I was not familiar with what it was called. That same night something heavy slammed into the door! Mojo thought it was the cops and went in the back bedroom and said not to answer…he was right most likely…But I answered…after the meeting with those feds I was not in the mood to have my door kicked in and what Mojo had in the apartment would have screwed me too EVEN IF I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT! Always be nice to the ‘Laws’…..they might be nice back! I opened the door…. ….there was my neighbor who had been beating on my freshly decorated front door with a tire iron! “YO! Imma KILL you and BEAT yo SORRY bitch ass and then maybe have fun with it too!” He waved that tire iron around menacingly! Mojo came out when he realized it wasn’t the cops and told me to shut the door and call the cops but this fellow REALLY ticked me OFF! “Who EVER in Hell’s half ACRE, where we currently ARE, SIR, Are you to tell ME to let you live here for free and lose MY job? I KNOW you are cooking crack next door I can SMELL it! How would YOU like the cops to KICK YOUR DOOR IN!” Mojo was inside and he came out and tried to be a peace maker, “Ok you two we don’t need any trouble here…..” “FUCK-YOU-WHITE-CRACKER-HONKEY-ASS!” He started to go for Mojo…..Mojo was backing up….I was pissed! “Oh yeah you coward go after someone half your size with no weapon and don’t think I don’t know who stole his stereo you jackass!” He turned back towards me and there was a different look in his skinny crack head eyes….I knew he was not gonna kill anyone….the ones that do kill first and ask questions later. “Maaaaan yo one MEAN ass bitch!” “Yeah FUCK YOU TOO!” Well we had been screaming all this at the top of our lungs when someone upstairs yelled, “PO PO!” Now at that time I had NO idea what that was but he vanished in the night tire iron and all and I was left standing alone, astonished and now scared to death that I was such a fool! I guess Mojo, with his prison record, knew what ‘po po’ meant ’cause he vanished too and shortly a police cruiser came by the entry way and shown a light in the breeze way where I stood with my heart beating 10 thousand miles an hour and the beginnings of the adrenalyn rush starting to fade….I looked at the guy in the cruiser and he got out, his badge flashing in the dim breezway light, and he asked, “You OK maam, someone called and said there was a huge fight goin’ on here.” “Yeah I am fine Officer…..I guess it is over now…” “You wanna make a report?” “No sir….No that’s ok.” “Ok well just keep it down willya? I don’t want to be comin’ back here tonight.” “Yes sir!” He left and I went back inside and Mojo blasted me for being an idiot but I was too tired to care. The next day that fellow next door packed up and left and later that day the owner came to the office and said Mojo and I were fired. I hugged him and shook his hand and started laughing and thanking him profusely ’cause I was SICK of living there and did not want to fight with the Hubby over it. “You got one week to move out…” “Oh no problem sir we will be gone alot sooner than that!” I went home and told Mojo to start packing….he was mad but he was tired of the place too…I said, “You know old Mormon boss will have you back!” I Might Be A Guy Hard to believe if you look at me now but in 1999 years ago I had really short, kinky blond hair and I wore overalls and steel toed boots. I was a Landscaper and I had my own business. I was married too and he and I had a running joke that we needed a wife. Even though I was female I did not cook… I could lay rock walls all day. I could pick hubby off the ground and throw him over one shoulder….….no kidding. ‘Always did have a thing for short skinny guys…(never let that fool you they can be pretty tough little cookies!) Always seemed to meet Desi people in the Fall and I worked outdoors alot. One day I was on a ladder with a chainsaw pruning a tree. It was obvious I was female if you bothered to look ’cause I have boobs and no adams apple…I guess I looked a little exotic in the steel toed boots and the camo overalls ’cause a car pulled up next to the curb where I was cutting branches away from the parking lot walls and a guy with that oh-so-familiar accent yelled up at me, “Hey Sweetheart! I have some sexy lingerie in my car trunk and some free time and some money how would you like to spend the night in a fancy hotel?” I looked down at him….nice looking cheeky fellow….I decided to have some fun with him. So I climbed down the ladder and with my chainsaw held something like heavy artillery I said, “You like handcuffs and that sort of thing?” “Ohhhh yeahhhh!,” he said with a gleam in his eye. “Then lets GO! That sounds like the BEST kind of fun but before I hop in your car there is one thing you need to know” “What is that?” he said with a drool, I leaned in his window and told him I had to whisper it in his ear so he turned his head to accomodate and blowing softly while I whispered I said, “I might be a guy baby!” I ripped the cord on the chainsaw as a look of pure alarm spread on his face and laughed myself silly as he drove out of that parking lot as fast as he could and never came back! Now all of that is gone. Age and health takes equally from all it strikes….That was, without question, the best job I ever had… (The Ice Storm) (The Tornado That Destroyed Del City) (The Gardens) (Throwing Rocks) (Hameed and My Calloused Hands) The Letter To God It was 2002. When I was married to Mojo we watched TBN all the time because Mojo had become a what is known here as a Pentecostal Christian while he was in prison. Once day Jan Crouch, (who Mojo’s, and my Jewish musician friends who lived on the property, thought was a hooker the first time they saw her on a a Christian TV channel and freaked out…), Jan Crouch was talking about taking letters to the holy land and gave an address to send a letter in to be stuck in the Wailing Wall and prayed over. I was already beginning to loose my strength again and that was the last year I was able to be a landscaper. “Ohhhhh! I want to send my letter too! I am going to write it!” Mojo looked at me with some scorn, “You do not need to do that. Just Pray directly to Jesus and if you have enough faith you will be healed. You will never be healed if you do not have enough faith!” “I asked God to make dad quit drinking and I asked God to make the bullies stop and yeah those things happened AFTER the damages were done. I believe in what I see and feel and touch.” “That is why you cannot ‘speak in tongues’ and why you are still sick.” He always blamed me for what I was and as much as I hated pot and cigarettes and as sick as they made me he kept right on with them. He would go to church and get filled with the Holy Spirit and then get stoned and buy us cigarettes because I could not stop smoking around a smoker. I said once, “If you loved me you would stop so I can stop because addicts cannot live together and only one stop. Remember when I did that the first time and you ended up with Barbie because she did the same things you did because I stopped but I hated the way I felt with it all around me.” “If YOU loved me you would have self control and stop and love me just the way I am with no bad feelings.” “If you want to be a true preacher and holy man you will have to stop smoking.” “I will some day. If you want to be healed of your ‘illness’ you will have to receive the Holy Spirit and talk in tounges.” “I love God. I just want to send a letter like Jan Crouch is offering.” “That is stupid!!! You don’t need a letter! If you had REAL faith you don’t NEED a letter!” I got angry! Who was this hypocrite I loved who claimed he loved me to tell me how to be holy while he wanted to be a doped up preacher???? I wanted a part of myself to be in SOMEONES holy land! Some land that belonged to God what was stupid about that? Mojo and I always fought about religion and hypocrisy and free will and destiny and all the things that intellectuals scream over. It was becoming a ‘holy nightmare’ and I grew to hate the kind of person who did not practice what they preached. To this day I can learn nothing of religion from anyone without love and a true spirit and a letting go of anger that is hard to do. Eventually I was to become involved in a strange relationship with Hameed. He used to tell me, “You should become a Muslimah you would make a great one.” I would say, “Kidnap me then.” But he never did. We met when I was tending the front gardens in late Summer and he was delivering a Pizza to some residents who had failed to give him the right gate code so I had to let him in the gate. He drove a dark blue hoopty. On the way out he stopped and stared at me and asked my name. I went to the opposite side of the garden so he drove the U-turn drive-way and came to the other side…so I went to the other side again and hid behind the sign. He started to laugh and drove off. I finished my work and went ‘home’ (the apartment we were currently living in) and did not say anything to anyone. He started to come around. Elton would be home and answer the door sometimes and I would be mortified and the Mojos son would say, “Just some weird stranger at the door with the wrong address.” Elton and his brother were pressuring their parents to join the military early and both gave consent. They joined the army together at 17 and 18 years old. Hameed continued to stalk me. He threw pebbles at the windows. He found reasons to come on the property. He would get out of that old blue hoopty and come talk to me while I worked. The first time he shook my hand his eyes got huge! I had callouses any farm hand would be proud of. I earned them in bloody blisters digging trenches around the decorative bushes the first year I did the job. He did not care that I often smelled like gasoline and was covered with grass clippings and a fine layer of red dust. One day I had my two five gallon gas cans on a shoulder pole and was walking across the street to the station to fill them so I could use the riding mower that day. It was a HUGE property! He was there, waiting, in that hoopty. He said, “I will take you back” Something in me said ‘no’, but like all the times before I did not listen. He took the gas cans and put them in the trunk. I was hot and tired and sweaty already and covered in grass and dirt. “I hope you don’t mind. I will mess up your car.” His eyes were merry… “It’s a mess anyway.” I got in and he did not take me back to work. He took me to his home and took me…without questions or explanations…after throwing me in the shower and hopping in after me. “Are you going to kidnap me?” He did not say a word but I was sad when he pulled me back outside with a wet head and the still dirty clothes back on my body and drove me home and carried the gas cans to where the mower was parked in the parking lot. We met several times after that and I grew to like him but he would not keep me so I could not commit to him. Soon he married another American lady and soon My husband and I moved…AGAIN…to a new property owned by the Mormon Doctor. Oddly enough that property was right next door to where Hameed worked. Once more he began to stalk me. The Day I Died The First Time We were cruising in his limited edition Corvette, sleek…black…on a date trying to save our marriage. I with a Marlboro in my left hand and him with some reefer rolled in his right sharing the ash tray as we went up 16th street…The smell of the reefer made me feel sick. I hated it. We had not yet moved out of the same house but for all we shared it we should have been in different worlds. Even after 12 years SHE mocked me…Nadeem haunted me…and Hameed stalked me. And because Mojo and the apartment manager had some Christian thing on I had cheated. I had cheated with Hameed but that was over. Even though He would come to the door and walk away if anyone but me answered! I became terrified to answer the door! Mojo and I were cruising down the same street where Hameed delivered pizza for the Bengali. It was below freezing outside and it was February…Black Sabbath played on the radio…There was a full moon shining in the passenger side window…we were both completely silent when ‘it’ HIT ME! “Mo-jo” I said very calmly, “Take the cigarette before I drop it and start praying….” It would never do to have a cigarette burn in his perfect car! As he took the cigarette the back of my head went numb and and I could feel the tentacles of tingling paralyzation grip me in a physical rictus before I lost consciousness. Just before I did I could barely see a look of panic spread over his face…When I came to once more I was slumped in the seat… “9-11” “I can’t call them the car smells like weed they will take me to prison again.” “9-11″ He was driving aimlessly and helplessly all up and down the Lake Road….”9-11” “Talk to me SAY SOMETHING WHAT IS YOUR NAME!: “9-11” I wanted to say something to him but I could only say “9-11” I wanted to say, “You have a cell phone call 9-11!” but I could not talk..I tried…I tried and all that came out was “9-11” About this time I looked at the clock and it said 10 pm. I knew that even if I could not recall the date of my mothers’ birthday I would remember this date! My MIND was OK but my BODY and mouth would not work and I could only repeat “9-11” over and over faster and faster hoping he would get the message! He was crying. All the windows were rolled down. That was a blessing. I felt like I would melt in the fires of Hell…. “9-11” I was sweating gallons! A spasm of nausea hit me! even though we were moving I mindlessly opened the door somehow and he screeched to a halt while I rolled out of the car and fell on the ground, peed all over myself and began vomiting…. “Please! Please be OK! Please if a cop drives by they will think I poisoned you and if you die I will go to jail!” I kept on retching. He got out and held me from behind with his arms holding my flopping head against his skinny chest while his hands locked around my stomach and he steadied me between his legs and as everything went dark I heard him, or someone, start to pray….In Arabic? Hebrew? Whatever it was it was not English! When I came to once more he was dragging me to the car. “Get up in the seat…help me get you up in the seat we will go to the fire-station up the road” Somehow…crawling, flopping, rolling into the seat which was now laid all the way back he got me back in the pristine ‘vette….he started to roll up the windows. “No!” “No?” “No…cold…JESUS 9-11…cold yes yes!” I was so happy! Somehow I was talking again! The smell of weed was gone from the car. He drove to the fire-station. He rang the night buzzer and said his wife was out in the car and could not move. They came…I was sooooooo happy! They asked him what happened. He was crying and scared, “Sh-she…she bowed back and went rigid! I p-p-put my finger in her mouth so she would not swallow her tongue and it w-was curling back and her eyes rolled back in her head and…and….she almost bit my finger off and I am a guitar player and…and….I think she died and came back!” “Calm down sir everything will be alright….damn look Rodney! She almost DID bite his finger off!” Another one was asking me questions and giving me commands, “Smile! …Ok good enough…who is the president of the United States….That’s OK don’t worry about that you smiled…Rodney call the ambulance!” I could hear the sirens coming….”Raise your arms….good….Sir does your wife have seizures?” “No she never had one sir!” “Well we are having the ambulance come get her…you may follow in the car.” That week I wrote Hameed a letter and delivered it to him personally saying I could sin no more. (Two years later after being treated for a nervous disorder it happened again and they thought I would die….then they found the brain tumour on a Saturday night in August in 2005. When the doctor came in he was wearing Native American beads…I loved that. I had just finished playing guitar songs that day for mom and some of her friends before this one had hit. They wasted no time calling 9-11. The Doc look so serious when he came in and said, “You have a rather large tumour in your head…” He looked ready for the storm….I started laughing SO HARD…” MOOOOOOMMMMM!!!! For two years they told me it’s all in my head and I was making it up…Hahahahahahaha….IT IS ALL IN MY HEAD!”….on the way out of emergency with anti-seizure meds in hand I threw my last three Marlboros in the trash and never looked back….when I did I thought of Ali…. ) Lesbians and Pineapple Pizza It was in 2003 in the spring that I separated from my husband of more than a decade. He had left with a woman to found a church in Guthrie. I was hoping in my heart of hearts that he would be happy with her and go as I had been miserable for many many years with the memories of Nadeem and the reality that I had to take care of myself married or unmarried. He and I had become as two men living in the same house. I had left my landscaping business as it had become too hard to do well anymore and I had sold my equipment. In a horrible depression I lived, once more, in two tiny green carpeted rooms in a repetition of the first time he had left me for Barbie. I did not know why I was getting weaker…it was so slowly occurring it would seem like one year I was mowing acres and greasing my axles and the next year I was barely able. The world was, once more, blind to my existence with exceptions I could count on the fingers of one hand. Mehdi, Hameed, Shahid, and my mother. The Genteel Lady She used to sit out by the pool with an elegant, long stemmed wineglass in her hands and get drunk like a genteel older lady does along with another older woman and two young Moroccans. They were a little ‘set’ and I would watch them, alone, from my upstairs apartment, along with many of the other drunks there who put on quite a show every weekend. They were not like the other drunks. They did not fight or need to have the police called on them they talked about religion and politics and all were quite smart. The oldest women, in her sixties and still gracefully lovely, had no children or husband or anyone. I always watched them from a distance. One day she was not there anymore. The group was gone and the other woman had taken the group to her back patio. Now they drank in private. I assumed the other lady was with them.There was a day that week I was walking and passed their patio while one of the young men went in and saw the older woman was not there. Curious, I went to her door and knocked and heard a thin cry from inside. The door was locked…I went to the manager and explained. The manager gave me a key and I went and unlocked the door. The place stank so badly. This could not be the house of that elegant woman! Everywhere was elegance in chaos. her cats ran to me ‘MIIIOOOON MIOOONNN RRRAAAOOOO MIIIIONNNN’ and led me to the kitchen where there were empty food bowls and water dishes that I filled from the cabinets. The cat boxes were overflowing and I heard her voice calling weakly “Who is there? Who is there?” I went through the living room where it looked as if things had been knocked over by something dragging and went to her room… …she looked mortified. By her bed were open cans and a can opener and they had been pulled in on a sheet drug across the floor perhaps and hauled up to the bed somehow…empty cans were everywhere and a dirty spoon and she was huddled under a satin comforter and the room smelled like…. “Please please can you get me some wet washrags from the bathroom?” Her voice was so weak. “Where are your sheets?” I asked her “In the middle cabinet in the hall.” she whispered almost like relief. When I came back to her room she was on the floor on all fours in a lovely elegant lace gown stained with humanity. She looked so piteous. “The wolves are at the door!” “There are no wolves we are in the city.” I assured her, thinking she was weak from hunger and seeing things, and I wondered why her friends were not here with her? I took the soiled sheets off the bed and put clean ones on and did like I remembered from the days I worked in a nursing home. I put a smaller sheet where she would lay that would be removable and save the bed. “Can you get up?” I asked her “No.” She whispered back…. “Ok then put your arms around my neck and we will do the ‘firemans hold’, Do you know how? She nodded and I managed to roll her back onto the bed. “I need to call someone to help you. who can I call?” “Please give me the wet washrags and leave for a few minutes?” She was crying. I left. After some time I went back and she had tried to hide the soiled rags under the bed… “Where are the trash bags?” “They are in the cabinet above the sink.” I went and got them and used them like a glove to retrieve the soiled things from the room and bag them up without touching them and put them in her washer with some soap…I stayed a while and set her house in order and kept asking her who I would call to help her but she would not allow it. “PLEASE PLEASE don’t tell anyone about me!” She begged me with tears in her eyes and against my better judgement I agreed. I went back once a day for the same routine for only three days and the next day I went and the door was wide open and ER technicians were standing in the living room. “Are you her next of kin?”, They asked me. “No I am not but I was helping her….” “The last thing she told us was ‘the wolves are at the door’. do you know what she meant?” “No but did her cats all run out? She told me a lady who was going to take them and I have to take them to that lady. How did she die?”, I asked them. “It looks like she had a broken back…she must have been in terrible pain. Are you her friend? Do you know who we can call?” I thought of all the times I saw her with her friends…I thought of all the times they laughed and all the times they spent together…no they were not her friends. “She has no one sir.” “OK I will call a mortuary…thank you the police will come and may want to talk to you later but this looks like natural causes.” That older woman had osteoporosis and cancer and had never told anyone. The wolves had come. Every week I drove into another town to see my ex because his church had fallen through and he found once more he loved me after all. He could never drive to see me except to come and spy…to see what man might be in my apt. The only man that wanted sex was never there and I did not feel bad about having chaste male friends. I began to have what can only be described as mini-seizures. One of the reasons he left with that other woman to make the church was that he could not stand for me to be so sick so much…and he would always be sick at the same time I was. He and my father both thought I was making it up for attention…these were black and lonely days with very little relief except for Shahid, in particular, who was my friend until one day I called him and heard a girl’s voice with him and he never spoke to me again…but that was a few years later. It was the year before I turned forty and I got a job working as a fast food manager at one of my brother in law’s many restaurants….It was November again….always a time of great change for me. Hameed had followed me to this place, as he had to all the other places I had lived, but I would have nothing to do with him as he was now married and I never wanted to tread on another woman’s ground, in the way mine had been tread on, so the only source of affection I had was blocked from my life. There were to friends of mine who lived a few doors down from me in the same top row. One was from Pune India and his name was a Doctor. He was discouraged that his degree and his Brahmin status mattered less than nothing here and he was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. Often he was without food and I would always leave some for him in the guise of him sharing a meal with me, although he would only eat the beans and rice.….the other fellow was an Iranian Atheist named Mehdi who had some severe mental problems from his flight from the Iran of the Shah in the 70’s…..those men were my best company even though they were both very odd. The man who lived below me was a drunk race car driver and everyone there but the two fellows and I were drunks and every weekend we watched the drunken free for all as heli’s flew over head with their searchlights looking for criminals. One night I even saw a heavily pregnant woman so drunk she had to be carried into the apt. below. Most of the time I was totally alone. I looked forwards to work so I could be with people and once more I left my door unlocked all the time….who knows what luck I might have???? I was still strong enough then for stairs and laundry. I carried mine on my head. One day in November I was carrying a huge basket of laundry down the stairs….it balanced quite nicely on my head and I did not give a damn if the neighbors stared it beat carrying it in front and risking back injury! As I came down I saw a desi fellow with a forlorn look carrying a pizza box. The back of his head was flat and I thought he must be Punjabi. He was a fat fellow but still classically attractive….so I said, “Salaams” He looked at me and said, “Salaams sister would you like a pizza? The lesbians downstairs just stiffed me and I will just throw this away anyway…it is fresh and no one touched it.” “Oh thank you! I will share it with My friend from Pune!” I said! “I will trade you the pizza for the load of laundry,” he then lifted the laundry off my head and handed me the pizza and we both went to the laundry room and he stayed while I started the laundry….he walked back with me to the apartment. “What is your name?” I asked him, and he said, “Shahid…I am helping my friend from Bangladesh who runs the pizza place on the corner..come by and see us.” He was friends with Hameed! I would not move back in with Mojo…my parents pressured me to leave him but I did not want to break his heart. Eventually I had to break it. I could not try to love him anymore. (The Plain Vanilla Divource) The Radioactive Ones It was 2005 and my 15th day of radiation treatments. One the first day of treatment they told me everyone responded differently and I had to sign papers saying they would not be held responsible for whatever damage was done. I was a charity case and I signed. The doctors told me they were very sure this would shrink my tumour and promised no bad side effects….It was day 15. My hair fell out all at once, from the back, and as I awoke it was all over my pillow and sparse on top. As I became more awake it was apparent that I could hear nothing from my left ear (the nerve is dead beyond repair now) and my left eye had a blind spot in it. (It has grown over the years.) It seemed this had happened over night. I was very thin already as the radiation had taken away my ability to taste anything (and ability that, to this day, only partially returned) my back teeth had to be pulled and I had no money to replace them. (It is only now that I might have the opportunity) And I was increasingly nauseous by increments each day until this day I actually threw up. (I continued to throw up for some months afterwards.) It was day 15 and I was crying. Overnight I lost my hair, hearing, sight, balance, taste, and stomach. I was crying when Da took me to the appointment as I had 10 more to go. I signed in with the nurses and sat in the waiting room with the other charity patients. All of us were sick and bald and skinny and tired and we did not chat much. It was the same group, for the most part, each time and most of the sound came from a very young girl sitting with her father, wearing a pretty pink scarf. I saw her many times. She was always laughing. She was the only one who was. She was so skinny herself. Her appointment was always before mine. At first she walked in herself and later her father carried her out and she still smiled up at him…later he carried her in AND carried her out and they chatted about children’s shows and passed me where I sat in the “It’s my turn to be tortured next” chair. It was day fifteen and as I sat in that chair crying the nurses took the laughing, joking little girl from her father’s arms and left into the ‘beam room’ with her and I overheard, with my good ear, the doctor ask the little girl’s father if she knew she was going to die anyway. The father caught back a sob and did not even cry and said, “yes…she knows and she is not afraid”… …the girl was only maybe 9 years old. And here I was crying for my losses when I still had much more life to live….how much? Even now no one can say but that little girl died before my treatments were up. It was day 15…I stopped crying for what I lost that day. I still cry and get mad at other things like being called a liar or being cheated but I kept on and keep on long after I think some in my place might have done. I am still alive to write this story. Many people think all brain tumours are cancerous. Many people think the hair loss is permanent. Many think that only cancerous tumours are dangerous. They are all wrong. None of us there had cancer but we all were risking cancer to make tumours, that would cause us trouble or death, shrink. That little girl did not have cancer and she died long before I have.I have a joke: You want new, fast growing hair? Get radiation! I think my hair never grew back so fast or nice looking as it has in this last five years and Alhamdulillah I am still alive and while I have problems I do fight them every step of every way….mostly because I cannot let a little girl be stronger than I am who laughed until she died. People who say things about me and do not know me do not know I worked until I could not walk well and completed a degree after I could no longer drive and I am grateful to everything Allah has given me and I know there are those who would take ALL my physical problems just to have a life of peace…Do not judge another until you have walked a mile in their moccasins. After The Radiation I was sick for a while but began to get better and kept on trying to work. The Club A few months after radiation treatments I went back to work. No one would hire me with the brain tumour so it was not easy to get a job. Finally my sister got me one in a shi shi club where tennis pros who were even from as far away as Australia did their daily workouts or gave lessons to rich Nichols Hills people. It was ‘Barbie-doll-plastic-surgery-city’ but at least they would hire me for a menial job because of my sister. I did that job too because I had promised Westside I would pay my half of everything.The first day was hard. It was a loud place and with one deaf ear I could not tell where sound came from but I could hear well enough to book the tennis matches with my right ear and make X’s with names or initials in the time slot boxes on the schedule sheets. I still had a pretty big bald spot and I could still drive but ‘Sandy’, the barbie doll boss, needed someone very badly. She needed someone so badly she did not care who she hired. I worked for minimum wage and had no health care. There was a fellow I worked with who had six daughters and was very good looking, in a fashionable way, and was on full disability for insanity but he was one of the sanest people I ever met and I good poet and was a consummate athlete….I never could figure out how they did it until one day his wife said, “They are saying I need to go to work again” and soon she was pregnant with number seven. ‘Dean’ only had to work a few hours a week for a free membership to a shi shi Club where he could sell books of poetry to rich, well kept, 50 year old ladies who liked male eye-candy. I had no such disability although I could barely make it up and down the stairs with the sweat towels in the wheeled baskets. Laundry was also a part of my job. To make it up and down the stairs I put my back against the wall and used one arm to drag the laundry up each stair one at a time. I was proud of myself. I was doing things that would make me stronger. One day I came to work and my schedule was cut to only five hours after everyone said what a great job I had been doing for four months. I asked the ‘barbie’ boss why and she said, “My girls came back from college and I promised them their jobs back.” I said, “You did not tell me that when you hired me.” She refused to speak to me after that….the girls that took my place looked and dressed like porno stars. I guess I could have sued the place but I was not in the mood to fight with rich people when I had nothing. As I left the club one of the tennis pros stopped me and said, “I am sorry this happened to you and it is wrong, They have an image to keep here and you were used to fill in and now the image has come back wanting its job. I will give you a good reference and all the pros here will we like you and think you did a good job.” He looked at the barbie girl manning the desk and said, while shaking his head, “She is stupid as a cow and worthless but DAMN she looks good in short shorts!” I left. I was crushed. Once more I was not pretty enough. I thought about what I DID know that was left, There were so many skills I had lost and so much strength so what COULD I do! Then it hit me, HERBALIST! Something I had done for years thinking it had no value…done for free. Because I was poor I had been my own (and others) ‘doctor’ (of a sort) for many many years on the side….maybe I could make money at it????? So I was hired at The South-side Health Food Center where they worked with my disabilities for two years until I could barely walk anymore…..I worked part time and went to school part time and all my friends were in ‘the box’, as I came to call my lappy. Working there was like this every day: The Day of the Bad Smell It was a regular work day at the Center for Health, or, the CFH as we like to call it. Hermanito came to work with a black eye and looking like a figure out of a Japanese anime movie with a topknot made from his long dark hair. He is a cross between South America and Japan and all the girls are crazy for him. Today we were asking him where his magical object was because all anime characters have magical objects and maybe if he had had his he would not have a black eye! His black eye was so good I had to ask, “WOW! Can you SEE out of that eye! What HAPPENED to you!” ” Oh I got this in a kick boxing fight on Wednesday night..,” he said sheep-ishly. Now everyone knew that he gets into fights on the weekends when he drinks too much and breaks the rules of martial arts by challenging all comers so we KNEW that his girl-friend had decked him for looking at Marlena’s, uhm,more noticeable body parts! Marlena came swaying around the corner on her 6-inch heels and said, “OOoooooooo Hermi! Porbrecito,” Now Marlena is drop dead gorgeous! She knows it and she makes the guys pay for their idiocy BIG-TIME! It is a sight to see! But Hermanito’s girlfriend hates her and made her an organic sandwich at the health-food-bar that had organic bugs in it running around on the lettuce! Now nobody will eat there anymore who is employed there unless they know Hermi’s girl, ‘Cat’ likes them.This is fine with her, as she enjoyed her self-imposed boredom behind that counter, so she can watch WWF on the juice-bar’s T.V. instead of make fruit smoothies for everyone. Marlena was making Herm tell her all about the big bad fight and she was laughing in his face at the same time. He was eating it up! Cat was giving us all the evil eye and she finally tore herself away from the TV and came sauntering slowly across the sales floor. Watching her walk is like watching a combination of a Viking Valkyrie, a roller-derby princess and a car wreck all mixed together. It is AMAZING! She has a few black belts in martial arts herself! She got to the information desk where we all were and drawled out in her best Texan, while looking pointedly at Marlena, “Do any of Y’all know where shit goes?,” as she leaned over the counter and flexed her formidable biceps. I could tell this was NOT going in the right direction so I intoned in my scholarly best, “Yes, I know where shit goes! It turns to stone! Stone shit is called ‘coprolite’ and archaeologists dig it up all the time!,” Well THAT got everyone’s attention! All eyes were on me! Now I can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt that Intellect can trump Beauty every time if you can get the right mix! Marlena looked startled and said, “How do you know that?,” “I studied it. I was reading about fossils and how they dig up Mastodon turds that have turned into stone and are so heavy…imagine! Shit that is millions of years old! Also shit is broken down very quickly in the environment and there are even beetles that lay their eggs in it! Think about this: every thing shits! A fly craps every time it lands! Where does all the crap go I ask you? Has anyone ever thought of that? We all might be breathing molecules of crap this very minute! How much pigeon crap do you think is in the parking lot…not to mention the whole world! Shit is really versatile! Plants grow a lot better with it…Ok think! Every time you eat organic you eat a little bit of what came out of the back end of a horse!,” “EEEEWWWWWWW!!!!!!,” groans Marlena, “You are really WEIRD!”, “Hey thanks! I love you too sweetheart!,” I laugh back at her, and Shell walks up while Hermanito is grinning like he got away with something because how can Cat tell him off NOW! She looks murderously at me……no sandwiches for me today! Shell says, “That’s true you know! I let my chickens crap all over where a plan to plant my vegetable garden every year! Marlena…those tomatoes you like so much? ‘Full of Chicken sh….,” Poor Marlena is looking green as Cat is but not for the same reason. About the time Shell is gonna finish Robert comes in and he is late and looking homicidal. Probably a hangover and Cat makes the mistake of asking him a question. “Robert, what do I do about a headache?,” He looks at her without expression and says, “A hammer!” Hermi asks him, “Is it possible for a guy to break his…,” “SHUT UP!” growled Robert glaring at him! This broke the tension and everyone started laughing. Hermanito found his magic object to carry around all day. I did not know we sold them. It is called a ‘two ball back massager’ and looks very phallic. He began to point it at us at which point we all folded our hands and began to bow profusely while customers began to laugh out loud. Poor Robert stalked off only to be stopped by a customer carrying a plastic baggie full of fecal matter. The man was very concerned about his health and Robert is known as a naturopathic type. The man said nervously, “I am really worried! This is BLACK poo,” and he shook the bag under Robert’s nose. Robert said kindly, “You really should take that to a doctor…black poo might have blood in it.” “BLOOD!,” the man shrieked, “That means cancer!” “Not necessarily,” said Robert, “It could mean an anal fissure.” “OH! So NOW what are you implying!” the fellow said very upset, “Constipation. It can cause hard stools…,” “Oh…,” said the man calming down, “Well I have been taking a lot of Pepto Bismol…,” “There is your answer!” chucked Robert, “Makes it turn black every time!,” Helping people who really need it makes Robert very happy and his mood improved. The day progressed as a normal one: Hawthorne for blood pressure, Black Cohosh for hot flashes, Bitter Melon for diabetes; as a trained herbalist I was in my element. Helping people with herbs is one of my favourite occupations. I have a reputation so I am always glad to hear my name over the intercom, “Line one for Shani…Shani line one.” I picked up the phone and heard the familiar voice of a lost female on the phone. My heart swelled with the desire to help as she said, ” Uhm…I just got this bottle of stuff there and it says to take three pills for one serving each day. Does that mean I take three pills a day?,” “Yes take three pills a day, one with each meal unless it states otherwise.” “OK…is that three pills with each meal or just one pill with each meal?” “Just one pill with each meal…,” I said gently which seemed to tick her off, “Well how do you KNOW that they don’t mean 9 pills equal one serving?!” “The bottle only says three pills a day right?” “You are rude I want to talk to someone else!” “OK!,” I said brightly, “No problem…and my name is Shani!” I turned to Grandma Jana, as we all called her because she was like a real grandma to all of us. She had just come up to the information desk to get some water to drink. “Grandma…There is a call for you on line one.” As I walked back out onto the sales floor I heard her say, “Yes, that is three times a day…..yes…..no not three pills per serving…yes…no…ARE YOU BLOND!” Grandma has a hard time putting up with certain kinds of people. As I went up isle ‘A1’ a lady stopped me, “I am looking for something and I cannot find it can you please help me?” “Sure!” I said with a big smile, “What is the name of it?” “Well, I don’t recall…,” “OK, no problem….what is the bottle colour?” “I am sorry I don’t know….,” “Brand?” “I am so sorry..,” she said with that LOOK…it always breaks my heart! “OK…what was it for?” I asked. She brightened considerably, “It was for weight loss!” “Great! I can help you then! Let’s go to ‘Diet Island! Follow me!” Diet Island is a place in sports nutrition where all the diet things in the whole store are placed on an advertisement ‘Island’ of shelving in the middle of the sports section. We saw Hermi with his black eye and black silk shirt with the red dragon on the back and his cute little top knot giving kick boxing demonstrations to a group of teen girls from the high school he recently graduated from…occasionally he would allow one lucky girl to touch a rock hard bicep. The customer I was with said, “Ooooooo! If you don’t mind I will ask him!” Laughing inside I said, “Why of course! Let me introduce you!” my customer was a woman my age who loved to work out and was cute…but no match for the girls and she WANTED Hermi! I was going to watch this! Fun fun fun! “HERMI!,” I sang out, “This lady would like to talk Business with you! I will be happy to take your young ‘customers’ and help them find what they need!” The young girls, abashed, walked away from us and the lady winked at me and I left them together as she backed Hermi into a corner by the locked case… Marlena walked by and gave me the ‘thumbs up’ sign. I decided to walk with her. While we walked a plastic bottle suddenly crashed on the floor from the top shelf of ‘12B’….we both bent to get it at the same time and another one crashed to the floor just head of us. “It is the Meeks Fault Line.” I whispered….it is an earthquake!”, Marlena screamed a little scream but I kept a straight face. I knew what was going on. She bent and picked up the second bottle and a third one crashed down. She screamed again and went running outside. She was from California. When she was out the door Roberts’ head popped up over the top of the opposite isle and we laughed. Now Robert is TALL! Almost 6 foot 6 inches and he looks much younger than his 50 years. Slender and elegant he cannot be caught by any woman. We all know why but we love him anyway. All newbies get the earthquake routine. He is the only one tall enough to reach across and knock the bottles off and quick enough to hide before he can be seen. We love him but we tease him too! Today one of the sales reps called out, “Robert! Your skirt is showing!” and Robert called back, “OOOooooooo! Is it pink?” The boss walks by and she sighs and says, “Will you guys go tell Marlena there is no earthquake and do it NOW!” Hermi walks by and gives me a dirty look and all of us fold our hands and begin repeatedly bowing. Even the BOSS! He sticks his nose in the air and walks off and them boss-lady says, “Now go get Marlena out of the parking lot before someone propositions her!” We go with fake sorry looks upon our faces. The day goes on. Celery seed for water retention, Apple pectin for constipation, Magnesium for calming down AND constipation…we all dispense our years of knowledge to seeking customers. We are good at it and we know it. As the day winds to a close some of the customers begin to complain about a bad smell. Shell says she can smell the bad smell. The boss tells us we should go and find the source of the bad smell. Robert says maybe that fellow with the baggie of poop left it somewhere and it got stepped on. Robert and Hermi and Marlena and I all go looking for the bad smell together. Shell checks to make sure the toilets are not backing up. We are all following Robert as he leads us through the store. We look everywhere! The smell is getting worse! Customers are beginning to clear out. Robert is a true leader as he even goes through the trash cans in all seriousness! Marlena is still mad at us and she is mad too because she can’t ever get Robert to notice her! We search EVERYWHERE! We cannot find the bad smell. Robert suggests we meet at the information desk and try to think if we have missed anywhere. When we gather at the desk I notice Robert is eating the new meatless Turkey Jerky we just got in with a new product line. I meet his eyes and see a twinkle in them no one else can see. “Robert….you know that jerky has soy in it and you know what th…….,” All of the sudden he cuts loose with a fart that was loud enough to be heard in the bosses office across the store! He begins to laugh so hard he starts to cry. I begin to laugh as well and yell, “Oh my God! My eyes are burning!” Hermi is laughing and Cat is laughing from over at the snack bar…the boss is even trying hard not to smile from what we can see of her behind the glass. “OK!” Robert says gaily, “Time for me to clock out and go home!” Marlena saw her chance to make a move! She moved up very close to him and said in a husky voice, “I love you you big stinky man!” We never saw Robert leave so fast in our lives! Marlena stared at all of us like we were insane as we literally rolled on the floor with laughter! Ahhhhhh! I love my job! (The Day Johnson In Sports Nutrition Called Me A ‘Witch’ And said I broke Up Him And His Girlfriend) (The Day I cannot walk far enough to keep working as an Herbalist) I got another job: The Pakistani fellow who owned the chicken place where Westside worked let the general manager there hire me and I did as much as I could. My hair began to grow out very fast and I wore a white scarf to work. I still had that bald spot though. I worked with Westside and his friends and then decided to finish my degree. Working in fast food was too hard and I kept getting orders wrong because of hearing problems….they tried everything but I just was not strong enough or fast enough anymore. I did not know then how long I would live and was still scared but I did not want to be disabled yet. I drove and then drove only on side roads and when my boss said I had become a liability and could no longer work I applied for disability. My last day of college I graduated and mom drove me….that last day to finish my second degree I had started years ago I was almost done with….It had taken much longer because in between 1992 and 2007 the requirements for my degree had changed. That last day it took me several minutes to totter down a hall while the teacher waited on me with the door open in the same college where I once sprinted through the snow…..But I got my degree….call it my version of ‘Skydiving’….these stories are from this time period: I Ask My Last Man For His Hand In Marraige Gurl!   “Gurl I could HAVE him all I would have to do is walk BY and SWISH my tail and…..” Ramirez walks by me with his ‘flaming hooker’ walk and snaps his fingers in the air above his head. It was 2003 and I was the night manager at an all night Taco joint. It was sort of a joke at corporate that half the employees were gay and the ones at the top kept on hiring them because they kept cleaner stores and made better food than the non-gay managers but I was a GOOD manager and straight too…I had asked for nights ‘cause I prefer them…easier to live without a clock. My whole crew was gay Hispanic males….good kids generally speaking….young…most of ‘em you could not tell one way or the other just by talking to them but Ramirez FLAMED like a tiki torch at a luau! We were watching the fellows at the restaurant next door: a chicken restaurant and we were wondering if they would trade food with us….we were sick of bean burritos and rice and wondered if they were sick of what they had. Ramirez had his eye on the fellow at the drive through….I was watching him too….curious… “How can you tell you could have him Ramey? I can barely see him….” “Gurl! I have GAYDAR! I can tell at 200 YARDS or more if someone is gay!” Juan yelled at us across the kitchen, “Ramey! You gonna do your ‘Cher’ impression at the Cabana Club tonight?” Ramey wiggled across the Mexican clay-tiled floor like a dancer in a tight dress, “You bet I am gurl! And imma WIN this time too!” I had to admit I had seen him when he was off work come through drive through and he DID look A LOT like the famous ‘Cher.’ Juan had been after me to go over there and ask them to trade food for a week or two…. “Please please please!!! I want some fried chicken!” Ramey started teasing him saying, “Gurl you know ‘cause ain’t nobody WANT you after those burritos! You be gassin’ up the place and makin’ us SICK and…..” Juan and Ramey started boxing around with each other and I said, “OK! OK! OK! I am going! Sheesh!” They all started slapping hands and high-fiving and such and I loaded up some really fiery hot chicken salads and some bean and rice burritos and I got in the car and went over to say hello to the group working at the restaurant next door. In the time it takes to say one thousand one one thousand two I was at the drive-through asking to see their manager….HE was at the window…the object of Ramey’s dreams. He said in perfectly intoned, clipped British-style English, “I am the manager tonight how may I help you?” I felt sorry for Ramey….he was guttah-gangsta posh boy and this young man was the TYPE….highly educated multilingual foreigner and the only reason he was managing a fried chicken hut was to make pocket money on the side…he did not seem at all gay, but, even if he was he would never look twice at poor Ramey….he was a very proper sort! I said with all the polity mom had taught me from her years in British Columbia, “I would be very pleased if you would consider trading food with us and I have brought this gift to you with that intention….” And I handed over our best. A huge white smile broke that somber brown face and he yelled something in Urdu over his shoulder. Several fellows came to the window smiling. I was astonished! It seemed it was my destiny to run into Desi people continually…he was so pleased! He said, “We were getting very tired of fried chicken. It is not even halal but we eat it because it is free. We do not eat the butter for the biscuits because we did an experiment and even the flies will not eat it!” We all began to laugh and they handed me a bucket of chicken through the drive through window and a bag of biscuits and a large container of cole slaw. “We can trade food anytime you like, and…..He yelled something in Urdu to someone in the back and smiled at me again and said… “Good you brought plenty of ‘Fire sauce’ (as the company called it’s hottest variety) but it will never be as hot as the Panjabi food I CAN make!” I said “good by” and drove off. It was November. It always seemed to be November when I would meet them every year….? ….but no matter…. I took the chicken back to our store and the boys were estatic! “OOOOOOoooo gurl you are the BEST manager! You are gonna be my ‘fag-hag’ for SURE!” giggled Ramey and then he pecked my cheek with a chaste kiss. Then he put his hands on his hips like an angry dairy maid and began to demand, “So what’s his name! What’s he sound like! Is he cute up close! …” he kept on in this vein and I said, “OK…go and drive over yourself and ask.” Ramey rolled out the restaurant parking lot like a late freight looking for a mate and skidded into their drive and we all watched him talk to that fellow for a few minutes. He sort of slumped as we watched him and Juan said, “it is gonna be a BAD night!” He turned and went back to making his guacamole, which was and is the best guacamole I ever tasted, and he seemed sad…the other boys sort of went back to working very hard and that was good too…in thirty minutes the bars would close and the hungry drunks would descend on us ready to eat. Everyone was very quiet as Ramirez pulled up in the parking lot. He came back in. he looked at me like it was my fault. “He has some weird name and he is STUCK UP!” Poor thing was like a mad wet puppy….then he put his mask back on and started to sing bawdy songs in Spanish about an oven being hot and I could not get more than the gist of it…it was a sexual double-entendre thing. The other boys kind of perked up and Juan hugged him and the drunks descended us in their hourdes and they garnished out parking lot with chunky gifts and made the store money. Thus it was that I came to meet the fellow at the store next door, they called him “West Side” because they could not pronounce his name Westside and I were buddies before we got married. I thought for the last marraige of my life a buddy would be good to have. We used to do things before that piece of paper he waved in front of his uncle’s nose that Eid in Ohio, squealing, “Chachu! Chachu!!! Amerika Amerika!” After a very blurred set of ‘wedding’ pix was taken while I looked my worst. before we married we did stuff together and I thought how nice it would be to have a buddy for the rest of my life. I remember the day I tried to teach Westside to drive a fivespeed at the lake… “Hey! How are you! I need to get a license I want to learn to drive!” He was calling from the cell phone and he had just sent me several pictures of his fish…to this day he loves his fish and cries when one dies. “Wazzy I have a FIVE SPEED…remember????” I thought people who drove automatics were wuss’s. “That’s OK I need to learn to drive here will you teach me?”, I thought a minute, “Yeah sure OK! Be ready I will be there in about ten minutes.” Back then he did not live so far from me. We have known each other for 10 or 11 years now. 5 of them were married ones but two of them were, before the vow changed everything, buddy ones. I was still a manager at Taco Heaven. He hung up the phone and I threw on a long dress since I was going to the Mosque Compound to get him and he met me at the gate. I still had not been diagnosed yet. “HEEEYYYAAAAA!!!!!” I got out of the car and we hugged each other and I said, “Ok get in the drivers seat this neighborhood is slow and quiet….a good place to learn.” He grinned at me so big and got in the drivers seat and looked at the key. I said, “Did you ever drive before?”, He giggled, “Not really. I drove once when me and my dad were in Oman but that was a long time ago.” “OK” I said, listen, the key goes there,” and I took his hand and showed him and he giggled like a girl. “Now, release the parking brake,” (We were on a level surface so this was no issue.) ” Now put the key in and turn it and push down on the clutch and the brake at the same time.” He looked down at the floor boards and saw the pedals I indicated and pushed on both of them and turned the key. IGNITION!, “OK we are in business young man!” He was laughing alot now, “Ok….now you see that stick shift there?”….He looked at me with a face like a huge question mark. I sighed. “OK like this.” Once more I took his hand and put it under mine and showed him how to put it in first gear, “Now let up slowly on the brake and as you push the gas pedal release the clutch.” he was laughing as he popped the clutch and we stalled in the road. He was still smiling but looked nervous. “Ok start again….” We started again and crept up the road in first gear and I said, “Now push in the clutch and change the gear to second…” He was thinking while he popped the clutch and we stalled again….I was also laughing now. “OK…lets try this another way. Keep your hand under mine and try to get the feel of the gears. you will feel them as they snick into place.” he gave me the ‘broken dollie’ look. “Snick?”, he asked, “Yes”, I said, “It is a sort of sound that your palm feels.” So he let my hand cover his as I told him when to push and when to release and my brain went into automatic as the past superimposed itself upon me and I recalled the day I stood behind Zee and had Nadeem tape our hands together so I could show him what it felt like to play ‘Fur Elise’ on the piano and his fingers followed mine on top of my hands. We were in third gear when my reverie was broken by a horrid grinding sound as Westside tried to shift into fourth…. “THE CLUTCH THE CLUTCH!” I yelled and he jumped and we popped and stalled and he said, “You drive. I need an automatic!”, So we got out and traded places and I drove us around the lake while we talked like old friends about nothing and everything….. The Death Of Solomon The Half Breed Bob He called me after our divource. It was February. “Mary?” Then silence…then, “How are you?” “What is wrong Mojo?” He sounded almost accusatory and sad past tears, “Solomon is dead….he…he…..,” he was gasping for air and trying to speak, “he came up to me and raised up and put both hands on my leg and looked in my eyes and fell over sideways and quit breathing and I had just given him his medicine and he did not want it and he was running away before and I think I killed him trying to give him his medicine but if he did not take his medicine he would die and now he isn’t breathing and I put him in a shoe box and …. ….do you want to come see him?” Solomon, Half Bobcat and half feral housecat and never able to reproduce with a hormone condition that required medicine from the time he was a kitten for all ten years of his life. He was almost Human. Big and mean to strangers he scared many a man up against the wall who hated cats…He could jump on the furniture and turn the lights on and off for fun and open doors with his huge paws at just the right angle on the knob. He was very smart. He used to pee all over my step-sons clothes if he left them in the floor. He was born in 1994 in January on a day so cold it was -14C and it was way out of season for Bob’s. His feral mother soon lost her milk and his siblings died one by one of cold and starvation as they would not eat any food that smelled of humans. There was a day that baby wild kitten and his mother sat vigil all day over his last sib. Unable to stand it any longer I cut up weenies into small pieces with tongs….All the money went on Mojo’s weed and we hardly had food so it made him angry that I fed out food to the kitten…but finally the feral cats grabbed the bits of weenies and ate them…the first time that tiny gray ball of fur came out in the snow and grabbed a chunk of weenie and tore into I saw the look of sheer bliss….his mother always let him eat first. As spring came and mice were born they went back to the wild as agile as squirrels running the roofs and the owner…who hated cats…set out poison to kill them and the poison was killing other animals as well…and we all decided, those of us who worked for him, to save the two cats….using tongs and cowdung and other things we were able to lure them into a trapcage and one of the fellows who worked with us who had a farm outside the city took the mama cat and we took the baby….Little grey Solomon keened for his mother for two days in the window before he gave up and soon he adopted us as his pets….When Mo-jo and I divourced he said I should take him and I did but soon Solomon was pining away for Mo-jo until I told Mo-jo to come see him and then he knew that Solomon would rather die than live without him so he took him home…. it was 2004 when I got the ‘call’….As I drove from the City into Czechtown to the small apt. where they lived Mojo met me at the door with tears in his eyes and showed me where ‘Solly’ was laid to rest wrapped in a baby blanket in a shoe box…..his eyes were open and he looked alive. “Come here.” I said to Mo-jo…”Come here.” I looked at the big red brocade armchair and opened my arms and into them he came and put his head on my shoulder and I gave him what no one ever gave me….he was suddenly so much like a child…This master musician who was brilliant and charming and left me twice for other women even while I cheated to get even and gave two years of my life to free him from death row….If there was or is anyone in my life who is my ‘jigur’ for real it would have been him….Like a child I led him to the big red chair that would hold three people and pulled him onto my lap and he fit there as a child fits and I held him in my arms while he cried and blamed himself and I murmured all the things he needed to hear…This man I had once thought of as a mountain was in my arms like a child and weighed no more than 100 pounds and was so small and fragile…I held him and rocked and rocked… We were friends for 30 years. Even after he was married to the woman he is with now we were friends… …until he came to know I was Muslim. I became Muslim before I married Wazi and before radiation treatments. They had taught me everything I needed to say. They had promised they would teach me. Hesham was much closer to me at the end than Wazi. I loved Hesham very much until, during the divource, Wazi told me, “He never like you he just did that because he love me!” What was most sad was that they did not want anyone at the mosque involved with me as all of those people knew all of us and none of them knew we had married. Indeed, they would have made Wazi Nikah, the Muslim way, had they known. When they would come to the house Wazi would ask me to go upstairs. We shared an apartment before we married and, as a true buddy was supposed to, I paid my own way for the first four years of the six years of our ‘marriage’. I asked ‘Westside’ to marry me. We were working together in the restaurant and we were on break…we were sitting outside in the hot sun….”Westside…why don’t you marry me?” He looked startled and said “NO!” and I thought I had lost someone who was my best friend. “No listen, just listen. You have told me all about your life and I have told you mine. We have shared as friends. I have already married and divourced three times. Once to the same guy twice…I do not need sex from you…I just need you to hold my hand when I am scared and hug me when I cry and I just want to belong to something in the time I have left….that is all….” Westside’s very fair-skinned face was beet red under that curly black mop on his head. He did not say a word but walked back into the store….. Soon as older fellow named Hesham came along and I had the weirdest experience of my life, I call it now, “The Talk”……what is funny is that I imagine that this is the sort of ‘Talk’ that father’s have with a boy who asks for their daughters hand….I never thought that I would be alive still to write about it and yet I am…I had seen him before at the drive through of the restaurant where Westside worked and thought nothing of it. This time he pulled up outside the restaurant while I was making biscuits and asked the G.M., who was from Persia, If he could see me. The G.M. came back and said someone was asking to talk to me so I went out to the lobby. It was West-side’s friend. He gave me a suspicious look, ” Salaams….Why….did you ask him to marry you?” “W’alaikum asalaam….Because he was nice to me when I was sickest. I want to be a part of something like a family before it is my time.” “I know you are sick what if you die and he is in the house and they blame him for it. You know the climate now they will use any excuse to deport a person.” He was right. My friend Shahid had some friends who had been deported for just showing up in the Homeland Security office with ‘fake’ marriages. Mirza looked down at the chipped white enamel on the restaurant table..the beeps from the Drive Through punctuated his words in an odd fashion, and said softly, “I would rather him have to leave here and go be with his family then go through that.” “He will have to marry that cousin of his.” “Yes, I know, but that is the right thing.” “He cannot stand her!” “Yes…….” Hesham sighed, “I know…”, he thought for a moment, “Come by our home and we will talk more…” “OK I will. I will bring my mother with me….One thing….To me this IS a real proposal and while it is unusual, given my health and his age it may be the closest thing to a family I can have….and Hesham… ……he can stay a ‘Rose’….”, I trailed off and Hesham looked surprised. I said “Allah Hafiz..” He smiled at me a little, “No it is ‘Fee Aman Allah’….” and he left…. I went back to making biscuits and Westside came over with a thousand questions, and I was too bemused to answer any of them….Later that evening mom took me to see them and we pulled into an open gated mosque compound where there were several apartments. Only Muslims lived there. Dr Avi-the Brahmin had given me a lovely salwaar Kameez and I wore it for this day as a kind of respect. Mom is American and she was in her late 60’s at the time and she was (and IS) like a freight train in long T-shirts and leg hugging capri pants is screamingly loud colours! We found the apartment and the children playing stared at my mom unabashedly! Mom knocked on the door and Hesham answered. “Come in!” he smiled at my mom and the look turned into one of shock as she gave him a big hug! “Thanks for being nice to my daughter!” There were two other guys there and after mom did that one of them even hid behind the door! The other went into another room…West-side was laughing so hard he almost was crying until mom descended on him too! He tried to get up off the couch to escape but it was toooo late! He got a BIG huge and Mom looked at Hesham and said, “So you are Westside?”, By this time Hesham was laughing and so was the guy behind the door… “Who is hiding behind the door?” mom asked and they BOTH started laughing! The guy behind the door peeked out and RAN into the back rooms! By this time the guy who had escaped to the back first was also laughing and mom said very loudly, “What’s so funny!” I said, “Mom you can’t just walk up and hug strange guys!” Mom said, “I am old and this is America and we do that here! Sorry if I offended anyone….” They were all very nice and they told her they were not offended just surprised. We all visited a while and left….after a short time Westside accepted my proposal. (I lived with them for four years….in that time it was very difficult to watch them wrestle and play and love and give and be left out of things. They gave me the largest room. I asked them to teach me to pray and they said men can’t teach women to pray. The had fights over whether to watch drama or news on the satellite dishes aimed at Pakistan and Dubai….Sometimes ‘Geo TV’. and other times ‘Dhoom’ Westside would be laying on one couch with the remote and Hesham on the other…They would argue an Hesham would say what Westside liked was sin and Westside, watching a fashion show, would say he was not having bad thoughts at all and news was SO BORING! Then they would fight over the remote. I lived upstairs and was alone for sometimes days at a time with only my computer for a friend. Getting up and down the stairs got harder each day and when the time came that I had been let go from my last job and mom was driving me everywhere they put the microwave upstairs and also bought a small refrigerator and put it up there for me and once a week Westside would bring me food. Mom could not do the stairs well either and she began to hate them. She said they did nothing for me and that living there was killing me but I had a promise to keep. Sometimes I was so lonely I would cry for hours….They even knew this but no one came. Sometimes just to feel something I would cut my arms open and let them bleed…not to die….just to feel alive….and they never knew….Westside said I HAD to live there because the authorities were always watching…He was not my best friend anymore…I was ‘ziddi’ and he was a point of honour) Perfect “MAAAAARRRRYYYYAMMMMM!!!!!!” He was screaming like the kitchen was on fire! “MAAAAARRRRYYYYAAAMMM!!!!!!!!! “It sounded like ‘medium’ and I was on high alert! We had just moved in together and my sister had arranged and donated all the furniture for us none of which he liked and he rearranged ALL of it which was sort of a slap in the face to my sister but I let it slide….I had taken the vow the year before radiation treatments. The radiation treatments were over and we were almost married. I almost fell down the stairs trying to get to him in his frantic screaming! Earlier in the day he had given me a bunch of wall decorations and a hammer and nails and said, “Decorate the kitchen!” So I did. I hung up all those wall decorations. Now he was downstairs screaming like someone had a gun on him and this was ‘the hood’ so maybe they did???? I fell down the last two stairs and was on my knees in the walk way where people wipe thier feet and held onto the post and pulled myself off the ground and looked where he was: standing in the kitchen, looking at the wall with arms akimbo, as if someone had sprayed gang graffiti on the wall! “What is wrong!!!!!! PLEASE are you OK!!!!!!!” My heart was beating 1000 MPH and he turned and looked at me and flung is hand at the wall….. “LOOK AT IT!!!!!!! JUST LOOK!” he was yelling, “IT”S TOO BUSY! BUSY BUSY!” He looked just like a mad wet hen! I could not help myself I began to howl with laughter! With an attitude of great disgust he took the photos OFF the wall and rehung them all just like he re- arranged all the furniture….. “I don’t like the green couch! We cannot sit on anything green! Green is a sacred colour! I don’t want you to wear anything green anymore either it shows a lack of respect! I will get another couch!” I could not stop laughing…”Why you laughing at me!” he pouted. He began to arrange the lilies he had in the windows and he thumb tacked the Pakistani and American flags….HUGE ones…to the living room ceiling! “I want get get salty water fish. I always wanted salty water fish…..” he was talking to himself…..I asked him “Where is Hesham?” “We have fight.” he sighed…..Over the next four years I was to learn that they fought and made up every three days without fail. I watched as he turned a bowl with a lily in it right and then left…and then right again…and then moved the table it was on….and then moved the bowl again and he stood back from his efforts and with great delight he said, “PERFECT!” Married We were married in front of a judge in a paper marriage. It was very clinical and the funniest part was when Wazi’s boss laughed when I pointed at Wazi and said, “Ye mein nehin mehboob houn!” right before we went into the office to say “I do” in front of a judge. After that, even though I was still radioactive, he insisted we go on a ‘honeymoon’ to see his uncle, for Eid, in Ohio. Human Isolate Do not go into the small city called ‘Chicago O’hare’ airport while wearing an abaya! ESPECIALLY if you recently had radiation! We got off the tiny ‘tomb’ plane that brought us from Oklahoma City and took the shuttle bus to a certain entrance at Chicago O’hare to get to the right floor to disembark and get to the right place to board for the next plane flight to our final destination. I was already angry as I was allowed, by my best friend and companion at the time, (I thought), to have a panic attack with no solace from him…not a word not a touch…nothing from my brother but distaste….and now the LOOOONG hallways full off people and over-speakers calling out flight numbers and people in suits rushing by while I hobbled along in my black abaya as my companion left me far behind. I could SEE him but he would not stop to let me catch up. My anger rose as he STOPPED for a girl in desi clothes and he walked and talked with HER. I discovered the moving belts that people were using to avoid the long walk and it was a relief as he was also making me haul my own luggage and that made me very slow! As I caught up with him in the security check line I was furious! He got a terrible look on his face when I refused to lift my own luggage up on the belt and simply dumped the contents of my purse on the belt and……BEEP! Triggered some alarm. A man in a homeland security uniform grabbed me by the arm and told me to follow him. he asked if my companion was with me and I said yes and he indicated that he should come along. Now fear replaced the terrible look but I was even MORE furious now! As we were taken to a separate room I was asked for my shoes and also took off my socks and began to take off all my clothes! I was THAT mad! The officers were chagrined! They said, “we did not ask for that yet” and refused the scarf. I said, “hey look at the bald head! I have a brain tumour! Old lady with brain tumour!” and smiled at them like the Grinch! My companion turned 12 shades of red and I was so mad I did not care. “He’s my HUBBY! I said and grabbed him around the waist…they barked out, “DON’T TOUCH HIM!” I said, “Sir yes sir!”, and saluted and one of them tried not to laugh and the other one was pissed. I began to take EVERY thing off and I warned them, “You will go BLIND! I am RADIANT!” But they kept making me slow down on disrobing and I guess they were not interested in having an mad old sick lady get naked for the whole world to see ’cause suddenly they let us go. Suddenly I was desperately ill and my companion walked away from me so fast leaving me to sort out the luggage I refused to follow him and made him come back and get me…I was so worn out from the adrenalin rush of the event I slept the whole way on the next ‘tomb’ plane. I had not taken the vow so very long ago and had just learned to pray, parrot-like, the basic prayers. I had learned to do them sitting in a chair as I could not get up off the ground and might be prone to fall…which ruins the prayer. We arrived and they gave us different rooms. They gave me a separate bathroom from everyone else. This happened because I knew, ahead of time, that I would not be able to use the toilet the same way they did. Wazi could not touch me and no one else their could touch me who was strong enough to pull me from a desi-style toilet set up in the shower and how could they ask a neighbour to help me who was not even Muslim and would wonder why didn’t my husband help me so a brought baby-wipes because, hey, those are better than TP you know? Auntie was horrified and no one seemed to care about my predicament. I had really not even wanted to leave the city we were living in while I was still sick! Wazi was angry when I was too tired to socialize but I was still sick. I called Mojo on the phone and talked to him since Wazi was not talking to me. We had a nice dinner and his uncle and his uncle’s mother were the most sweet souled people you can imagine! We got up early for fajar prayers and then piled into the family van. Now, for Eid everyone was to have new clothes and I had paid an American lady copy the salwaar-kameez for the occaision. It looked good on me and the capacious scarf hid the disappearing bald spot on my head. I was going to wear it when my companion said, “My aunt made you an outfit for Eid so could you wear that one?,” Now you must understand we had been there for some days and his aunt did not like me at all for some reason. The two little nephews and their grandmother LOVED me but the mother did not. She had sewn me a new salwaar-kameez and it was ugly velveteen grey. It was stretch material that smelled like mothballs and she sewed it to where it fit too tight and the pants too short and she tried not to smile when I put it on…I decided to go ahead and wear it and brag on it’s most kind and generous maker…I looked hideous as the rest looked smart and we left for the mosque. Now you must understand that I was easily the tallest person there topping the height of chachu by a good 6 inches. In short, I was a huge hideous grey giant. Even worse was that I could bring no makeup through air port security and we were travelling light by my companions’ request. I was the only Muslim woman I saw all day without any makeup on! My hostess had also forgotten to provide me with shampoo so I had to use dish soap…I was looking such a sick and sorry mess when we went for the Mosque…but I was CLEAN! It is important to note that the desi Islamic community of that area was too small to have its own mosque yet so the brothers of the Nation of Islam shared the building they used as a mosque with the few desi there. The Pakistanis chose not to argue with their black brethren about Elijah Mohammad so all was peaceful. We arrived at the place and it was a large meeting hall purchased from the Mason’s with some of the emblems still on it as it was undergoing renovation. The emblems had been covered with material but now and again the chill wind would blow them upwards and you could see beneath them. It was a spare, bare, gray place stripped of all glory and crammed full of cars. Out of the cars were emerging The Nation of Islam. Those that preached hate against blue-eyed devils. I was the very person they preached against…Auntie was with them in her belief I think. So there I was in the cold autumn; a lone white soul in a sea of tall black people wearing long sleeved dashikis and pillbox caps imported from Nigeria. Very handsome folk many of them and I was with a small handful of tiny Pakistani people and my presence screamed. I never wished for that niquab in my whole life but then! All the black ladies had them…none of the made-up Pakistani ones did! If there was a hole I could have sunk into I would have done! But it was too late and it was time to go in. I was very glad that the men made it a point not to look at me. I didn’t want to either as I struggled to suck in my gut, control my nausea and keep my slippery material scarf from falling off my head in a blasphemous way! I walked with bent knees so my ankles wouldn’t show and I was STILL tall! Now the Pakistani family I was with was in many ways as lost as I was during parts of the sermon as the fellow who was the Imam for the Nation of Islam spoke Arabic like he was born there and all we could understand were the suras that we had learned parrot like and new the meaning of and the religious traditional words. We followed a pattern that was simple to follow yet much of which had no real meaning for any of us beyond our memorization of it…and I had the ignominy of sitting in a chair to pray my part. Now I knew a woman should never walk in front of a man who was praying. Off to the right were the men’s and women’s bathrooms and the room was so cram packed with people that rugs were spread all the way to the entrances to the bathrooms and there were little trails, in between the rugs, left for people to walk through to go into them. One of the curiosities I noticed was that while the men sat in front and the women in back the women’s bathroom was plainly marked in English in the front and the men’s was plainly marked in the back. This seemed very wrong to me but if they wanted it that way who was I to argue??? I had to go to the bathroom in the worst way and I held it until after prayers and then got up while the sermon was going on when I noticed that other people were beginning to move around also…and I was single-mindedly headed to the bathroom! Here it becomes important to note that I am deaf in one ear and I cannot tell what sound is coming from where in a crowded place so I heard nothing but the sonorous voice of the Imam’s Arabic and a kind of dull roar…I carefully picked my way through the carpet pathway with my bent knees and my sucked in tummy almost ready to pass out from dizziness and pee all over myself and I was amazed that the place was so crammed for the Eid that men were even backed up into the hallway to the women’s restroom! But I was on a mission! They could stand where they liked! Much to my surprise when I got in the bathroom it was full of men! This made no sense. It really ticked me off badly. So I FIRMLY told them, “THIS IS THE WOMAN’S BATHROOM!!!!! CAN ANY OF YOU READ ENGLISH!!!! WHERE ARE YOU FROM! GET OUT NOW!!!!!!,” Some of them were even in the stalls and as my scarf fell off my greasy head and I hopped on one foot the place cleared and one man was so scared he did not come out of the stall the whole time! The whole time I was grumbling about stupid men and who the hell did they think they were and I tied my scarf on so tight it almost choked me and got over the toilet part and did the whole wudu thing and very carefully once more picked my way, like a doe, through the carpet path with great dignity and looked not at a single one of those dunderheads!!!! As I came back to where we were sitting auntie grabbed my arm and hissed in my ear, “Didn’t you here us calling you?” It was lucky she got my good ear or I would have thought she was coming on to me! After the day I had had nothing would surprise me….she grabbed my arm and hauled me out to the car and the family was already there waiting and we sped off… “That was fast, It is over already?” I asked. Auntie looked murderous and grandma was trying hard not to laugh and the two boys were roaring with laughter and chachu’s mouth was twitching and Wazi looked totally disgusted. Auntie said, “They could hear you all over the hall from the bathroom we had to leave I think we ruined the whole Eid service!!!!!!” I was confused, I said, “I had to tell the men to leave the women’s bathroom! What were they DOING in there!” Chachu and his wife started that rapid-fire Panjabi and I could not follow anything but her cuss words and I am pretty sure she called me a stupid ‘cutia’…which does not mean ‘cutie’ by the way…Wazi sighed and looked out the window and said, “We are probably lucky to be alive.” Auntie moaned and put her head in her hands and said, “We still have to go to all the Eid parties!” I snapped out, “Will someone PLEASE tell me what is wrong!” It turned out I was the only one who did not realize that, as the place was under construction, that there had been a rule understood by all there, (but never explained to me), that the men’s toilet was the woman’s and vice-versa…when Auntie turned to give me a dirty look I smiled at her and said…well anyway…thanks for the outfit!!!!! While auntie and chachu were still arguing in Panjabi I became a human isolate. There I was in a van with a group of people I really did not know, with one exception, and he was totally disgusted and had nothing to say. As we sailed down the freeway the boys stopped laughing and put on their Ipods and as I looked up one of the green highway signs said ‘Hoover Dam’ it and I wondered why? Why mention Hoover Dam this far away from it? I sank into a reverie thinking of the photos of my Norwegian grandfather as he helped to build the Hoover Dam and presently we took a turn off on a scenic, older bit of highway and then another turnoff into a very odd housing edition. There were several HUGE homes. To this day I have never seen such huge homes. They were in a plat that was devoid of trees and new so I guess it was either the wrong season to landscape or the people had opted to spend all the money on homes and none to import grown trees. One the only street there was another sea of fancy cars was parked and the conversation between my hosts died as they pulled to the curb of a huge, white, plain looking farmhouse style building. I got out of the Van in the ugly stretch gray velveteen that smelled of mothballs and bent my knees and sucked in my stomach once more and made the scarf grip tightly about my dish-washed hair that stuck to my head in a greasy fashion as my hosts had provided no regular shampoo and I was not going to ask…I watched them all walk ahead of me all looking smart. Auntie in deep green velvet with maroon trim and heavy makeup that made her look exotic and some very nice jewelry and I looked at my hand and began to laugh at the cheap 60.00 wedding ring there…complete with a dull stone that I had just received that morning as a gift. It was hard to tell if the stone was a sapphire or not and somehow the hilarity of the situation struck me and I giggled and auntie gave me a dirty look and grandma, the best angel there, gave me a real hug. The youngest son must have felt something was wrong because he looked up at me with serious eyes and slowly parted with his favourite Pokemon card. Count on the elderly and children to give love….. (….I still have that card today.) No one said anything to me as we approached the house and a butler opened the door! A BUTLER! Who were these people then who could afford this thing! In America too! As the door opened a huge cacophony of human voices spilled out in many languages and as we entered the foyer and left our shoes in a long hall we were escorted to the biggest living room I have ever seen! The ceiling was two stories high! Everything was dark wood and crystal and leather and velvet and the room began to spin. Someone grabbed my arm and sat me in a corner with a woman named ‘Rubia’. As the spinning stopped I saw a huge room full of women all made up and dripping with jewelry and as bright and smart as peacocks with all sorts of bindi and…it seemed I had stepped into some giant harem and ladies were hugging and kissing and catting around and showing off and chatting and hugging and making a huge din! It made as much sense as the rock concerts I had been to many years ago….The woman I was seated next to was saying something. She tapped my shoulder. I looked at her and through the noise she very carefully mouthed the words in precise English “Hearing Problem?” And let her face express the question. “Yes” I whispered. She could see I was overwhelmed. I explained to her that I could only hear from one ear and she traded places with me on the couch. “What is your name?” OHHHH NOOOO! They had told me not to give my real name as they would not be able to explain why…quickly…under the scarf…I took the cheap ring from my left hand and put it on my right not aware at that time that it would have made no difference. A diamond sparkled in her nose and she was very fair skinned with red hair. I ducked my head and whispered my name not wanting to lie, “Maryam.” She took my hand and held it reassuringly and said, “I am Rubia. Do you Like Pattans?” Oh then we were off and running! I loved and love that history so much and we began to chat about history and once more as it was in my childhood in the Evil Town all the noise and world faded and it was just she and I talking with our heads close together. She did not seem to mind the smell of mothballs coming from the grey suit that did not fit or mind that my face was plain and my hands undecorated. This came to a rude halt as auntie sailed in with more rapid-fire Panjabi and stopped the conversation and told me to go get food in the kitchen. I later found out she told the guests I was feeble minded with the brain tumour so she could not be held responsible for my mistakes. Ohhhhhh the kitchen!!!!!!!! It was HUGE with two double sinks and it was as big as the apt. I lived in all by myself before I was sick. Like a Human Isolate I stood dumbstruck at all the granite and marble and sheet cakes big enough to feed 1000 people and pots and pots and POTS of every kind of food you can dream of all in Halal style even fried chicken! People smiled at me and rushed around me and very slowly and carefully I made my way to a corner and watched auntie chat and hug and talk and I felt like a wren in an ocean of peacocks and parrots. The noise became unbearable and suddenly I had to leave. I told no one I was going. I crept down the hall…it seemed to go on for a mile. men were coming and going out of one room and many wore the rolled chitrali style caps. They were also smart looking and decked out in their best and no one noticed me as I slipped out, barefoot, into the grey skied chill November day that matched my clothes. Clean wind swept the smell of moth balls away and I refused to shiver outside in that cold and I hid from the guests behind cars and tried to watch the door until I saw my hosts come out…I left those shoes there and got in the car with them….as we made the round to lesser parties no one noticed my feet. I kept them tucked away. As we pulled into the driveway of their home I was never so glad to be in a place that was, I thought, in the beginning, kept at too hot a temperature to live in….. For The House I remember the ‘photo-op’ party Wazi hosted when we first moved into the apartment. I thought it meant I was really being accepted. All of Amin’s family came and I knew none of them but Amin’s mother was very very kind to me. I had this feeling that maybe I had made the right choice. Wazi had pushed hard after I asked him and after I was radiation sick and my father did not want me at home. Perhaps I was going to be a part of a family? Maybe? I pulled the band Sana had given me over the bald spot left by the radiation and put a grey scarf over it. I went downstairs and they had laid blankets out on the floor covered with bowls of food. Memory of joyful times came back again and the sound of Urdu and Panjabi filled the room and I closed my eyes and imagined time had once more gone back. This time there were women. The women ate together. The men ate together. Amin’s mother sat with me and everyone talked. As they talked I noticed he was talking many many pictures and that his wife was frowning at him but accepting it as if she had no choice. Then the memories fled and I was in a room full of strange people only one of whom seemed to care. We smiled at each other and laughed at the clumsy way we spoke each others language and I was grateful to her. Everyone else ignored me completely unless they posed for a photo with me. The time came for them to leave. Amin’s mother grabbed my hand and kissed my cheeks and when she pulled away she said, “For YOU!.” and smiled like an angel. Amin’s wife ran up and gave me a look of sharp, bright hatered with a smile pasted on it, “FOR THE HOUSE!” she said loudly as she steered Amin’s still smiling mother away. I looked at my hand and it was full of 100 dollar bills. Her bright smile of dislike filled my mind as I walked over to Wazi and gave him all of the money and whispered, “For the house.” I had no idea how much worse things were going to get. West-side Discovers Vacuum Cleaners West-side discovered a secret about vacuum cleaners. He never had one before we married and they did not have carpet at the compound, in the city, where he lived they just swept the floors with brooms. When we moved in together he was delighted with the vacuum cleaner! It was a cheap one but I had it for nearly five years because I kept it very well. I never tried to use it to clean up spilled thumbtacks or big chunks and I emptied it out regularly. The first four years we were married when I was still strong and working on the South-side I kept the house clean (most of the time). When I couldn’t do that anymore West-side took over that job while I lived upstairs. I would yell down to him to bring me the vacuum when I wanted to do my room but, as I rarely left it, it rarely needed anything done. That vacuum was 9 years old. West-side was fixing up the house for company. There would be a party downstairs for his boss’s father’s second marriage. I was invited and so I put on the salwaar-kameez and dupatta and ‘sat’ my way down stairs. Made me feel like a little kid again. Gramma Rice had lived where there was a stair-case when I was a kid and I used to sit my way up and down it making babbling sound with my tongue and lips. I almost started to make those babble sounds and then laughed at myself. West-side watched me sit my way down. The living room carpet was horrific looking. “You haven’t swept in a while have you” “No was working too hard…hhhhhhh” I sat on the couch and watched him look disgusted. He got out that nine year old vacuum cleaner and said, “It do not work as good now.” “Well it IS nine years old it worked fine for me all those years. Have you taken care of it like I showed you?” “Yes I took GOOD care of it!” He untangled the mess of a cord, (I used to ‘figure-8’ it), and plugged in the machine. It was a bagger style so you could not see the innards. I had assumed he changed out the bag as I had showed him. He started to sweep the nasty carpet with it… “YOU HAVE TO PICK UP THE BIG PIECES FIRST!” I yelled at him over the roar. “I DID PICK!” he yelled back “NO LOOK YOU ARE GOING TO……” Ahhhhhhh that SMELL! The smell of a small, burning machine engine! “TURN IT OFF IT WILL CATCH FIRE MAYBE! YE TICK TOCK NEHIN!” “NO I WILL DO THIS!” I watched him as the smell of a dying sweeper filled the living room and he shook his head that it picked up nothing and, allhumdulillah, the poor machine died without catching fire! The living room carpet was still a chunky stinky mess. He was MAD! He ripped the cord from the wall outlet. “This sweeper is no good!” “Hahahahaha…you killed it West-side!” “No I didn’t do anything…how do I fix it I have to clean before they get here!” “Well it is probably dead dear but go get a vacuum cleaner bag out of the closet and change it maybe you will get lucky.” “A bag? What bag?” “Remember I showed you how to change the bag?” He got that ‘broken dolly’ look on his face again…I had to laugh… “Open the front panel dear and look..press that latch down it will pop off” I indicated where to push. When he did that the panel POPPED off and the bag fell out and so did HUGE chunks of carpet mess and a huge cloud of dust and the bag was ripped open it was so full and the whole compartment was PACKED…. He looked at me and almost cried…. “I have to clean the whole house before they get here!” He called Hesham and Hesham came back an hour later with a brand new vacuum cleaner…. ….it lasted less than six months The Interview After we were married Westside, Hesham and I all had to go to the Department Of Homeland Security and do ‘the INTERVIEW’. Westside said I had to know EVERYTHING! His birth-date, the kind of underwear he wore and so I mentioned his girdle too! He blushed. He said, “Ok when was I born!” “April 12th, 1984.” “What kind of socks do I wear?” “You don’t wear socks…hey listen Wazi I have been married three times already and I NEVER knew what kind of underwear ANY of my husbands wore this is SILLY!” “You have to KNOW they are going to ASK you and if you don’t KNOW they will DEPORT me and take you off to the side and offer you whatever you need to live!” “WAZI! I am not for SALE dammit! If I was don’t you think you would be paying health insurance for ME instead of just YOU!” “Well If I get sick then who gonna care for you? Your dad? He do not even want you! Now. What kind of underwear do I wear?” I rolled my eyes, “POUCHES.” As this went on I felt like I was being grilled by the some weird CIA guy. The only thing that was missing was the light. He grilled me until I could shoot every answer back at him and since I was in a mood because I had no idea it would be this much WORK I asked him….. “OK….how big is your dick?” “They are NOT going to ask that Maryam!” “How do you know?” “OK now ask me everything about you.” “OK what mood am I in right now” “Pissed off!” “Why?” “BE SERIOUS MARYAM!” “OK, Can you smell it when i go to the toilet?” “HESHAM I GIVE UP!” Hesham was sitting there laughing his ass off. He was still laughing as he said, “We have to go now.” We went out to the car and got in. I wore the scarf still to cover the rapidly-filling-in bald spot. No one said anything as we drove out to the isolated place where the HS building was located out by Will Rodgers Airport. As I was getting out Westside said, “You can’t take cell phone. Leave it.” That scared me. At that moment I made a promise to myself that I was NOT going to lie to those guys in there because if I did I might be in jail! I would not even have a cell phone to call my mom and she would never know and it would kill her. the Patriot Act changed EVERYTHING. Hesham would wait in the car. To make matters worse Wazi’s voice shook as he said, “If I don’t come back out soon call my lawyer.” I was thinking, “Oh bap re bap what the everlovin’ HELL am I into NOW!” We went in the small, well guarded building full of people from all over the world. We passed through metal detectors and they ex-rayed everything we had. We sat on hard plastic chairs that almost got stuck on my ass when I tried to get up out of them when Westside’s name was called. We went in. It was not what I expected. It was a Redneck guy behind a desk in a very plain, non confrontational looking office much like the waiting room at a police station. There were a coupla pictures of his family there. He seemed relaxed. we sat down. Without warning he LUNGED over the desk and planted his suddenly fierce expression just one inch away from Westside’s face and GROWLED loudly, “YOU ARE A LIAR! TELL ME YOU ARE NOT A LIAR!” He did not even look at me. All the focus was on Westside. Westside froze. His eyes were huge as dinner plates. His mop of curly black hair and even more sharp contrast to skin now so pale he almost looked like Snow White! A part of the back of my mind was almost hearing the dwarves sing, “heigh ho, Heigh ho, It’s off to jail you go!!!!” “TELL ME THIS IS A REAL MARRAIGE!” No answer, his mouth moved but no sound. “Do you swear to take care of this woman!” Nothing….not a sound. This was going down as fast as a flushed turd in an efficient toilet! “YOU LIAR DO YOU LOVE HER! TELL ME! SAY YOU LOVE HER!” Nothing.This went on a few more minutes and the man scared Westside almost to the point where I was sure he would faint. The man’s left shoulder was near my face….I reached up and tapped it gingerly, he turned and looked at me almost startled. “Sir.” I said with a kind of weird, calm respect,”Sir, I asked him to marry me.” He sat down suddenly and looked at me. He asked me, “Is anyone paying you for this?” “No sir.” “Why did you ask him?” “Because he is my buddy and he hates his cousin and did not want to marry her.” The man was silent a moment. His mouth was twitching. “Ok tell me the story I gotta hear this.” Wazi looked at me with absolute terror but I was not going to lie to this man. I told him about being sick and Wazi was my buddy and he did not like any of the girls he was being pushed to marry and how much he liked to decorate the house and how much he giggled and the man’s mouth twitched more. I told him all the stuff I thought was important while Wazi looked like he wanted to sink into the floor. I told Wazi/Westside, “Show him the pretty scrap book you made?” Wazi was and is a good artist and it was a very beautifully arranged scrapbook. The man took it with his mouth twitching almost violently until he got to the pictures of all of us shooting skeet off my sister’s back porch. When he got to the picture of Wazi holding a baby’s rifle aimed downwards instead of upwards in complete ignorance of the knowledge of a bullets trajectory and the terrified look on his face in that photo he suddenly broke out into huge guffaws. he could not stop laughing. Old fat one and young fat one. Manly female and feminine man. It was too much. When he was finished laughing he looked at me and said. “My family likes to do that too. Are you pretty good at hitting a target?” I smiled back and said, “Eh…OK but not great.” He looked at Wazi and he told him to go bring his sponsor in. Wazi went and got Hesham while The man and I chatted about country life. We were passed. (Westside cries all night when Mirza marries and I cannot comfort him) ….I owned ‘hoopty’s’ all my life. Never had a nice car that was how I learned to scrub the spark plugs with a wire brush and change the air and oil filters and since I always had old cars they were alot simpler to work on. No fuel injectors or side-wise engines you needed a specially built tool for. I knew what it sounded like when the solenoid went out on the starter and while I was no car mechanic I could fix alot of things myself including a flat tire. My last car was a 20 year old ‘hoopty’ and it was parked in the local city ‘hood’ that was alot like most of the places I had lived every two or three years of my adult life as the maintenance jobs went from one place to the next…..but this time I was married to Westside, the Pakistani decorator, and his jigur lived with us. Even after radiation treatments I kept working long after others would have quit. I could not run or jump or dance without extreme vertigo but if I was careful I could walk and I could still drive. Had a perfect driving record. Not even ONE ticket, but the hard part was that I was failing a little bit at a time as hard as I fought and there did come an un-named day I could not get on and off the ground again without assistance, but I was not yet as ‘moti’ as I am now. My boss let me go at the last job I had because I was becoming a liability and Westside said he would take care of everything. I went back to college then and decided to complete the degree I had lost to a broken heart almost 20 years before. Westside drove me there when I went to enroll the first time. (One of 3 times He ever drove me anywhere in 5 years that was not an appointment at the INS office.) I took out the requisite loans as they had been taking money out of my check for years and I was not in default. I used most of that money to take care of myself so Westside would not have to be burdened with so much. I was stubborn. I was keeping my promise no matter what. As we drove onto the grounds of the campus waves of memory washed over me. There was the building where had been the Djinn’s Theater that night so long ago. There was the English Arts building where I was on the presidents honour Roll before I disappeared. I started to cry uncontrollably. Westside would not touch me he never touched me. In five years I got four hugs and those were as ginger as if he was trying to pick up cat shit with bare hands. “Please don’t cry” he looked distressed, “My friends all go to school here…Ok we will park far enough away maybe the walk will calm you down.” We parked on a side street and the trees seemed preternaturally green and the birds seemed harsh. He walked with me, while I cried, towards the Administration building. He had insisted I wear a black salwar kameez and it was burning June for summer enrollment. By the time we got there I was sweating rivulets and ready to pass out. I still had a bald spot on my head that I wondered if it would ever go away. (It did but the hair there never grows the same as the rest) By this time, if I wore my hair right and used a little hair spray like I did for work it did not show. “If we see any of my friends do not say anything but ‘salaam ‘alailkum’ and I will explain everything and just be quiet.” There was no way I could have carried on a conversation after that walk! Limping and trembling and the blast of memories and A/C and he took me around to all the offices and arranged everything and many of the Desi there WERE his friends and there was no place to sit down so I gave up and sat on the floor. He would have to touch me to help me up and I knew he hated that. He ignored me and so did his friends. One of his FRIENDS smiled and helped me off the ground when the time came and I whispered “salaam ‘alaikum” to him and he smiled and said “W’alaikum asalaam” back and Westside was already walking down the halls….Westside never wanted me to be friends with anyone he knew. Even when we were at home if anyone came over he expected me tp go upstairs to my room. Even THAT was getting hard to do. (The time would come when I would go up and down the stairs sitting down.)The halls were full of ghosts. Young people from a different time. I started to cry again and people stared at me and backed away from the sobbing old woman in the black salwaar kameez walking alone. Some of the modern Desi girls looked at me and burst into uncontrollable laughter and the old ‘bully’ ghosts of childhood came back and I cried even more. All these girls wore tight jeans and flipped thier long hair around and KNEW they were beautiful and perfect.That walk down that hall to finish my education was like I Imagined Hell would be like. Westside was faaaaarrr ahead of me as I stumbled through fast-moving heartlessness that had no time for my pace. He was at the car loooong before I made it there in blind, heart choking madness. We drove back in perfect silence. When we got home all four tires of my last old hoopty were flat. Someone had stuck a screwdriver through the sidewalls of all of them. They would have to be fixed before I could drive to my school and finish what I started so long ago. Westside and Mirza said they would fix them. They had the sides patched. If I was still strong I could have done it myself. But if I had the money I would not have side patched them I would have purchased used ones that were free of holes on the sides because that cheap way of fixing things was how people died in blowouts on the free way. I would, I thought, be taking the freeway…..When mom found out about the tires she came out with her camera and knocked on every door and took pictures of the flats and made such a HUGE issue of it I was assured flat tires as long as I lived there. You just don’t act like that in the ‘hood’. The Day Of Pigs I was living upstairs in the ‘pretty isolation unit’ at the time and my hubby had moved next door and they lived both places…. They used the kitchen in the unit I was in so they would not have to mess up the kitchen in the unit they were in. I had a small refrigerator upstairs and a microwave: That was MY kitchen. They rarely came up the stairs these days unless Hesham was concerned I might be too alone, (Allah bless him), I saw him every once in a while but not that often. Sometimes I would hear them talking and laughing as they came in the door to cook and I would stand by the door at the top of the stairs I had already fallen down, (the last few), twice. I suppose I could have ‘sat’ my way down the stairs and pulled myself up the railing, at the bottom, to be with them but I was never warmly invited (for all they said that I was). When they cooked they made messes that stayed on the floor for days…bits of chopped vegetables going to mould, sinks piled HIGH with dishes neither of them wanted to do…and TRASH bags full to overflowing of trash neither of them wanted to take out. When I was well, in better years, sometimes, I used to clean it for them but I was not that well anymore. I kept my door shut most of the time and they filtered all the people who could see me, (which was everyone but my mother who hated them and hated to be there). You see they had a contest about the dishes and the trash: They would leave it until one of them broke down and got sick of it and took care of the problem. This meant that many days might go by before the trash left the apartment and the swarms of gnats never bothered them as they opened all the doors and windows when they COOKED. They were GOOD cooks. The food they made was SO HOT that it hurt going in AND coming out! They had learned how to do all the things their mothers and sisters used to do for them at home except CLEAN UP AFTER THEMSELVES! Many times West-side would sigh and say, “If my sister were here I would not even have to get up out of my chair to fill my glass with tea…I would not even have to make the tea!” One day they had not cooked in the kitchen a few days and my mom came…I knew she came because I could hear her screaming downstairs as hourdes of gnats assaulted her and the smell of spice and mould made her ill…..she screamed…. “These people live like PIGS!” Well whenever my mom came over West-side would run over, (if he was there), and try to ‘charm’ her so she would not hate him so much…but as he came through the door he heard her screaming about ‘living like pigs’ and he got defensive. They screamed at each other and he left and went back next door. My mom cleaned the kitchen that day. She cleaned too heavy pressure cookers filled with food so cooked on it she was, at 69 years old, sweating buckets and mumbling about big, strong lazy PIGS and she swept and mopped the floor and cursed the gnats and opened all the doors and windows and drug HUGE heavy bags of trash out to the ghetto dumpsters and hurt her foot in the process and she unloaded the dishwasher, (which they used to store dishes in), and washed all the dirty things she did not have to scrub and left them piled on the now-clean counter-tops…the gnats followed the trash and the place was clean and mom came up the stairs barely able to walk and as angry as a hornet… “PIGS! live like PIGS! You should LEAVE him NOW!” “And go where mom? Da made me promise to never come back and it is winter time now and cannot shower in the backyard I will freeze to death.” “They don’t care about you they are USERS and….” “I have no where to go mom…” “Divource him and get on disability…” “Where will I live until then?” “With me.” “I promised Da I wasn’t coming back he made me promise he does not want me there.” “OK if you want to live in a PIG STY!” She went limp-stomping down the stairs. As soon as she left West-side came charging up the stairs as mad as a stuck and bleeding arena bull. He opened my door and said screamed all the things at me he wanted to scream at her… “SHE DESTROYED THE KITCHEN! SHE LEFT DISHES OUT EVERYWHERE! WHY DID SHE USE THE DISH WASHER IT WILL NEVER GET THEM CLEAN LIKE HAND WASHING NOW I UNLOAD WHOLE WASHER SHE MAKE MORE WORK FOR ME! I HAVE TO WASH EVERYTHING AGAIN! KUFAR DON’T KNOW HOW TO WASH DISHES RIGHT! SHE DRAGGED TRASH OVER THE LIVING ROOM CARPET AND NOW STAINS ON IT….YOU PEOPLE LIVE LIKE PIGS!” …He forgot the day he was next to me when I took the vow… The Pretty Isolation Unit #4008 After they moved me down stairs for medical reasons I would have to sit my way up the stairs to take a shower and sit my way back down. I did not mind. I minded the loneliness. Mom came every day then and took me to all my doctor appt’s until the year the charity hospital cut me off because Westside made too much money. But not enough to pay for everything and buy me health insurance either. Hesham, his boss, paid for his health insurance. He was and is Hesham and Talibannette’s servant. He spent all his Time either with Hesham or Talibannette and her kids driving them everywhere and shopping for them. My mother took care of me. I made friends with the next door neighbors and every day Mahala would come and play on my laptop and talk with me. I gave her whatever she asked for. She was pleasant company until one night at two AM she came to my door crying saying her sister had locked her out. Mahala was 10 years old. her Mother was a veteran of Desert Storm and was in an active combat unit and was too deranged to be a good mother but she was a sweet hearted lady. Her oldest daughter ran a mini whore house from upstairs next door and I became aware that they sometimes locked Mahala out. So I let her in and we waited for her sister to come. Mahala was what you call a ‘late in life baby’ and she was a bright and sparkling kid but already learning how to live in the ‘hood’ and hide from the ‘po-po’ and use sweet little old ladies for whatever she could get from them…I did not mind. I liked her. But after they locked her out I had to called DHS. Westside and my mother were both horrified and said, “You know she could accuse you of ANYTHING! ANY lie and the law would believe HER over YOU! remember what happened to Mo-jo????” My mom became terrified of that place and insisted I come home so I packed my laptop and some clothes and went with her. It was summer. I could not use da’s shower because he had some infectious disease and I could not use mom’s because she was afraid I would flood her bathroom so I showered out in the backyard. It was not so bad….nice benches made of metal and tall fences so no one could see and a garden and cold water on a hot day….so this way I lived for a while. Because Dad did not want me there if I was not showering in the back yard I stayed in the storage room they made my bedroom. I never left it except to eat and shower. It was such a small room that most of the time I never left the bed except to do the things I needed to….so many many hours were spent on my back with the laptop on my lap. Westside did not like this at ALL. He was worried about everything, especially house visits. Every day those neighbors asked him where I was and he was terrified they were spies and he told them that I was sick and at my moms because he worked too much to take care of me. One day he went outside the apartment to go to work early in the morning and Mahala was there on the shared front porch wearing nothing from the waist down. Both of them screamed and Westside got in his automatic and left in a hurry and called the police to report a naked 10 year old running around outside. He was glad when they moved out. He called me and asked me to come back home they were gone now. I was tired of showering outside and winter was coming and I was tired of laying in bed all day in one room to avoid trouble and when I left my parents house again my dad said, “You are not coming back to live here…..right?” and I said, “No sir I am not” When I got there all my things had been moved upstairs. At mom’s house I had a comfortable single bed I LOVED and Westside said that would never do. He bought a very hard mattress-ed double bed futon which gave me bruises when I slept on it…..alone…..but it HAD to be a double bed in the master bedroom and we could not afford a nice one. He was considerate and got a small refrigerator and a small window A/C window unit and a microwave. Every thing I needed was crammed up in that one small room….I shut the door…and for the next year the world disappeared. I threw my laundry down the stairs and he brought it back up and left it by my closed door. Once a week he brought microwave pizzas and dinners and such and handed them through the door. Mom could not do the stairs and she hated that place passionately and so I rarely saw her unless I sat my way down. For a year I was shut up in that room so alone that even screams and cries went ignored because, like some crazy Pattani, I HAD TO KEEP A PROMISE! I have scars on my arms from cut marks. My world was inside a box. I was going slowly insane. Most of the time I wanted to die. I can tell you it is harder to live then die. I blame myself for this because any time I could have left and kicked him to the curb but that PROMISE…… That promise… …and I was such a fool I did not even know I had already fulfilled that promise. In that room I gained 100 pounds in one year. In that room I lost all hope. In that room I gave up what tiny bit of life I had been holding on to….I could not see I would have been happier at ‘Jesus House’ for homeless people….I was blind to all but the reality of the PROMISE. The only times I left the bed were doctors appointments and the necessity of washing and being clean and shoving a frozen pizza in the microwave. Mom saw me going downhill. As much as she once liked Westside she began to dislike him but she, too, knew the value of keeping a promise. She had kept her promise to my father no matter what he did to her or to us. My father was not always bad….nor was Westside bad either….but I think I have literally given my life for his dream….much more than just five years of it. Loneliness, I wonder sometimes about myself. On the other half of the globe is ‘Pretty’ who is wondering where I am at an how do I tell her they went ahead and shut off my cable before I could get it put into my name. From 1963 to 2005 I lived without ever touching a computer and did not feel the loss of it. I was still very lonely but I read the whole library instead. I miss them all, those people who are photos on a screen: Pretty, Commander, Habibi, Lao Tzu, Alam, and soooooo much North Star and Cinnamon for different reasons and Warlock because he is unusual…. It is two am. There is a black spot in the lower periphery of the screen that looks like a scotoma. I have been having ice pick headaches again and I hope the reasons are nothing.The Cherokee guy I met once that spelled trouble drove by in his red truck while I walked outside a moment ago in the darkness and I almost wished he would stop but then, he is the kind that is trouble. For two days I actually had to look things up IN BOOKS! IMAGINE! I also went to the park every day during the three days I was without internet. I zoomed along in my chair and even dragged back a huge dead fall branch from a tree to decorate my garden. My neighbor put it up for me. I notice the weird ice pick headaches and tongue jerks more when there is no human distraction for long time periods. Mom and I spent more time together. I went to see if they might let me work a small sit down job for two or three hours a day at a place I worked at when I was 24. I live now in the same place I lived when I was 27 and painted a mural on the ceiling where a permanent leak always dripped into the bird bath I hauled upstaires then. I saw my environment like this: If they can’t fix it…..make it look like it’s is SUPPOSED to be that way. It is weird. We went to Westside’s and he gave me a a certified copy of the marriage licence and all the paperwork I asked for. Mom drove me. It is almost over now….the family that was supposed to be and never was…it is kind of sad in a way that I could never be a part of it but I am glad the last ties will be gone. I wonder what my friends think that I disappeared without warning? I talked to my real brother and he said don’t worry he has an account set up with my name on it he is not touching. I am so blessed with he and Faraz again. My next door neighbor KNOWS DIVYA’s DAD! Divya!…..the girl I saw once in the snow inn a blizzard and later with Marlboro cigarettes falling out of her dupaata at the mosque. My neighbor said her father is an ass. All of my friends back then worked at his hotel when we were in college. He still does not know Divya is Muslim now. She ran from an abusive husband they sent her to India to marry. I remember Sana telling me Westside should marry Divya because she was not that much older and he could become a citizen like he wanted to be. I recall when he told me,” You asked me to marry you and I am glad.” “Why not marry Divya? She is VERY pretty and she is the right religion now….you would be a good match.”” I cannot love her. I do not want to touch her. That would not be fair to her and she is my friend. She would want children. She is Muslim. Sana is her friend they would make me marry her in this mosque. What about Hesham? He and I have been together for so long and she is not his family so he could never see me like before.”” OK then, I told you once the offer to marry stands. It does still, but you know I want to be part of a family and belong and be loved too?”” Yes but you don’t want sex and children!” He shuddered, “ We won’t have to be married in a mosque!” As I look back now. I should have let them push him to Divya. They cared nothing for my feelings as I was not ‘desi’ enough…desi enough to be friends with…but after the PAPER not desi enough to care to teach more. People say race and colour should not matter….but they do. I have experienced this as the ‘minority’ in a world full of ‘brown’ people who did not think I was brown enough….and white people who could not believe or accept that I did not see brown. Because of Westside I would be lying if I said I had not learned to ‘see’ brown….but the damage is done. I just have to always know, with my mind, that people are not all the same just because they are brown and I just happened to land in a group that saw me as inferior…less than. This is easy, If ever I feel ‘less than’ all I have to do is think of Nadeem and Faraz and recall the days that hours were golden and life was full of amazing things! I Never Drove Again There was a time they had to MAKE me learn to drive at 18 because I did not want to learn. But I did learn….. I was on I-40 in 2007 on my way to college from OKC to Edmond going 77 mph when I felt an odd sensation and then could not recall why I was on this road or where I was going. When I came back to myself an 18 wheeler was changing lanes right into me! and I was blocked by cars on all sides and had to floor it to get away from him and shot out ahead of the pack at over eighty by 2 inches. I was hyperventilating. I pulled over to the side of the freeway. I knew I would be late for class. There were two more incidents like this. Once when I drove to meet my sister in Tulsa for dinner and two highway patrolmen found me parked by the side of the freeway not knowing where I was and once on the way to UCO on Broadway Extension, once more the patrols found me in this condition. Both times ambulances were called. After 40 years of a perfect driving record I decided to take the safer back roads. Instead of 40 minutes to get to school it took 3 hours and towards the end it took three hours to get to a one hour class. People who have been to college know the closer you are to your degree the less classes you get to choose from at times convenient to you. At the very end I was no longer driving and mom was driving me to class at night because Westside was too tired or was working or was babysitting Talibanette’s kids. My mom was 70 then. The last days of class the Instructor would wait for me as I gheta walked up the halls and he held the door open for me until I got there and mom slept through my last three hour class under cold winter skies. I gave my graduation tickets away and received my BA in the mail. Mom said…. “You need to apply for disability” “MOM I do not want to BE disabled!” “I will not always be here for you. You need to get your life in order” I told Westside about applying….he said please do not do that until he got his passport. I asked him, “Did you get your green card?” he said, “Yes but it is not THE green card! They could still make me leave!”, I had a promise to keep…I had no healthcare and no nothing. I said, “I cannot do the stairs anymore” he said, “We will move you downstairs. AGAIN.” One day mom came. She said, “You never drive that car anymore….dad says we should sell it and he will use the money to buy you a new laptop.” I looked at that car….I told her, “OK as you see fit.” She sold it and da used the money to buy himself a laptop. I never said anything. He is my father. That was the last hoopty I would ever have. From that point onwards my mother was my taxi….neither Westside nor Hesham had any time to help me. I would not apply for disability for another year for the sake of Westside and my promise. I did not know, at that time, that he was safe with the green card he had. It would just take three more years to become a citizen. Already I could not afford to be married to him. But I stayed….carless…with my mom driving me everywhere and Westside paying the rent on a place I did not even know he did not have to pay the rent on anymore. I would never drive again. The Lawyers Office Somehow even though I had to use a walker the full impact of what was happening to me had not set in. In spite of everything I still thought, and think even now, that it is possible for things to stop or even reverse themselves but that day mom said to me, “I know Westside is paying rent and electric and I know you have a place to live and food but every day I see you dying and it breaks my heart. I am your mother. I have known everything you have done for 20 years and it has come to this. My gas drives you everywhere. I take your laundry and do it. I am old and I will not always be there. You need to do this as fast as you can because I can see what you cannot see. Westside cannot take care of you. You need healthcare. You need a doctor and if he really is your friend he will understand this.” So Mom and I went to the lawyers office. I was so weak I could barely push the heavy glass door open and something in me broke. This was it. This was the admission. This was the reality. I pushed the walker in the door as mom held it open with her crabbed and arthritic hands….it hurt me to see her hands The woman who I once left in the dust while walking with all the pride of youth now held open a door for me, her own daughter. Right at this moment I think what a monumentally strong woman she has had to be, and all she ever was, by American standards, was a mother. We sat in the office and waited while a woman came out and spoke to us. I let my mother do the talking. She brought all my medical records and school records of disability accommodation for parking and the letter from the Oklahoma brain Tumour Foundation and every item she could think of they might need. The lady took it all and said she would call us. Later we got an appointment at Social Security. My case worker was a woman I had known from high-school. Her superior was a woman my sister had gone to high-school with and our case went through and passed in less than a year. I was disabled but now it was official. With the money I was given that I had paid into the system I rented an apartment near my mother so the gas costs for her would not be so high. Now I had Medicare. Now I had access to at least the most basic of care. I made my home disabled friendly and when the doctors saw my ability to walk they gave me a power-chair through Medicare….I had to pay my own money to make my apartment disabled friendly as ‘Section 8’ Housing was now closed and no owner anywhere was required to do this. It took me 8 months to make my little ‘Hobbit Hole’ and things that could have been done in a few days by the old me have taken months by the new me and alot of my own money to pay people to do it but I am here and very slowly I have gotten a tiny bit stronger. And one night this spring Allah heard me crying and sent two of my angels back to me and a third angel I did not know I had….and if Allah wishes maybe a fourth one. Westside will stay in this country and whether or not it takes him longer to get to citizenship or not he is safe now….I know that now my angels told me. Allhamdulillah, Even though by back is screaming and my arms hurt…..ALLLLAHHHUUUUUU AKBAR! My Muslim Brothers Since I moved here in October and got a cat I thought the cat was peeing under the sink. At first there was old nasty carpet there but when my sister paid for the new tiles the fellow who installed it had to scrape mold up off the floor and he said there was a leak somewhere….I mopped up water from the floor every day…just a tiny bit..mystified and called the Maintenance Guys….They sent Reuben…He is a really nice person and he said whoever put in the faucet was stupid. Now I have to buy new faucets for him to put in….he will do it for free. The owners won’t mess with it. He fixed the leak with cotton and plumbers putty. It is SO quiet here. I can HEAR nothing. Literally! My legs have hurt for so long I have no idea what it might be like if they didn’t. Next week I will pay someone to touch me and try to acupressure the pain away….no real substitute for love but better then nothing and safer than a man-slut…People think only men have needs…. *rolls around laughing like a mad person* I do too but I am a GOOD GIRL NOW….I have to be…only dogs come sniffing and I am not in the mood to hear them bark…so I write my own erotic porno no one sees, (of course in MY porno the couple is MARRIED!) Sheesh! can’t even cut loose there! Like being married in a story makes it less wrong….at least no one but me sees it! I also try not to surf because my jihad is to try to be a good person. I am so clean I squeak! (What ever we are one way is as far the other way as we are capable of going…) “BACK BACK!!!!! Evil demons GO HOME TO HELL and LEAVE ME BE! Bismillahi R-ramani RRRRRrrr-haheeeem!!!!!!” My back hurts so bad I could scream. It’s starting to make me high. Who needs BDSM it lives in me I feel like I just got 1000 lashes with steel tipped cat-o-nine tails! I am not even Catholic anymore! “Ya Allah….Ya Allah…Ya Ghanial Hameedo…Ya latifooooo…..please please please…..I hurt sooooo bad!” Forgive me the times I am not there….I am laying down….Another pain pill tonight…..I do not give up on Islam because of them…but it is not easy to be alone and female in a Muslim world or alone and female in a non-Muslim one. My mother wants things done that men can do but she cannot expect men who are not really related to me by blood to treat me as if they are so. The makes the Muslim men here who know me look badly and I know, as my status, I am last on their list of priorities….this puts me in odd situations, like today: being unable to drive puts you at the mercy of others and mom is my driver as no man around can or will drive me. My mom is 73. I owe more to her than any man at this point in my life. I was stuck at the doctor’s today because the price of gas is high and the doctor far away and so I was stuck in a room crowded with others just like me…..maybe 60 people or more…to see a doctor for 5 minutes to get medicine….I hate crowds…the chairs are HARD…My legs are weak…mom’s van won’t carry a wheelchair it is not large enough…..It was hot and loud and noisy and I hobbled everywhere like there were short chains on my feet because that is how I walk now…As if I am wearing ‘geta’ wooden sandals….The dull roar of the crowd…the smell of unwashed bodies in a too brightly lit room and my brain is screaming for mercy while I rock back and forth and rub my knees and try to mentally LEAVE there with my mind and the loudspeaker sqaulks, “MARY A! MARY A! COME TO THE CHECK IN DESK!”, and everyone stares because that is all there is to do in there: stare at who is getting squalked at! I see the doctor and am approved and call mom, “I am done now”, she is on speaker phone and yelling over the sound of the van and because she knows I cannot hear so well, “HONEY BECAUSE OF GAS PRICES I HAVE TO KILL ALL MY BIRDS WITH ONE STONE! I HAVE TO DROP THIS OFF AT THE POST OFFICE…..” …as she went on with her list I closed my eyes and mentally tried to escape again. My feet were going to sleep and my ass was numb from the hard chair….It was two hours before she could get me and by the time she arrived all I wanted to do was sleep. She had been after one of my ‘brothers’ to put some pots that she had gotten for our apartment, years ago, into her car to put them at my apartment. Both brothers said they would be glad to do it on thier day off on Sunday….Mom noted to them that they do anything any day of the week any time for one of my brothers wives but she does not understand….wife first…adopted sister with no man last…This makes her angry. Today as we came home from the doctor’s appointment she said, “This road goes right by the apartment I am going there and GET THOSE POTS!”, I was too tired to fight with her so I said softly, “Whatever makes you happy mom, but they are too heavy for either of us to lift.” Mom stated with all the righteous certitude of age, “I am going to get those pots!” We drove up. There was one of my brothers vans parked right outside. He was home. he knows what my mom’s car looks like…she waited for him to come out and greet her like he did when he needed her alot but he did not. So she marched right throught the gate and started to drag pots around to the back of the van….My brother could not have missed who was doing it or why…she was being purposefully loud. A young, strong lady who lives there and is a machinist was wearing short shorts and a halter tops and saw my mom and me….as I had gotten out to totter around and try…she strode up like the amazon queen I used to be and said, “I can do that so STOP right now!” she grabbed the pot out of moms hands. My brother MUST have seen this but still nothing. That almost naked girl carried all the heavy pots to the car with ease….mom was SO grateful and gave her some food and money. It is a poor neighborhood.On the way back home my ‘brother’ called, He tried to act innocent and I did not bother to fight him as he said, “Salaams! Dear there was a THIEF on the back patio and I was SO SCARED I could not move! They stole ALL the pots and I am afraid your mom will be mad with me!” I thought, while I answered, You BIG TALL STRONG man! You were SCARED? Why didn’t you CALL THE POLICE!, but instead I said, “Wa’alaikum A’ salaams dear that was mom…she took them.” “T’hanks GOD!” he said with relief while I thought, “Yeah ‘Tanks God’ you did not have to do anying for me!…. ” and then I sighed, because I know he is tired and works hard and all his energy goes to his ‘real’ family here… “Don’t worry everything is cool you don’t need to be afraid now….I am in alot of pain and I have to go. I was at the doctor’s a long time and I do not feel so good.” All the way home mom thanked God that the strong young girl was there to help us and I almost went to sleep again and thought how grand it would be to rest in calm strong arms and let someone else worry about how things will get done…We got back to my neighborhood. It is poor also. Mom saw some strange men walking down the street and hailed them. “Hey guys come over an help us!” They came over and unloaded the heavy pots full of rocks and dirt and weeds fron the back of the van. Mom left then because she trusts people but after she left the tallest guy said, “Do you party? Do you drink? Do you smoke? My you are pretty! I live just around the corner ask for ‘Charles’. As he talked he was playing with my hair. His breath smelled like alcohol. He was SOOOOOO tall…his buddies were nervous…he stepped into my house and his buddy was pulling on him to leave. “Do you have any painkillers?” He was looking at my cabinets. Men like that do not take no for an answer and it is obvious to anyone who sees me in real life that I am the kind of person who would have those. I said, “Take them all.” and poured them into his hands so he would leave. He looked at the photo of my great grandmother on the wall and noted, “She looks Cherokee is she Cherokee?” I said, “Yes how did you know?” He smiled at me then….all six feet five of him with his long long hair and dark eyes and I realized that he looked alot like her, my face must have changed for he began to laugh, “Yes I am Cherokee also….You must be my age? 38????” It occurred to me that if he were not a drunk or a drug addict he would clean up to be extremely handsome. Without warning he bent and kissed my cheek and then his buddy said, “LET’S GO! And please don’t come back here to BEG her can’t you see she is disabled!” As his buddy pulled him out the door he kept grinning at me like he was going to come back… I just spent the last several years without sex! I need a shotgun! The Guitar First one I ever got was a big-red-box-wood-no-name-brand-second hand I could not get my fingers around and on those steel strings I learned to play…at first I bloodied my fingers on those old stiff strings. Joe B.J. taught me how to tune it with only my hands and ears….no forks or machines. He taught me to listen for the tonal vibration between two strings that meant they were not tuned. The first chord I learned was E minor and it took off from there. My little child fingers got strong learning to play….and I could SING like an angel….like my Da could and did until the year before he died….That guitar was my friend when I had no friends in the Evil Town and the Ranch Town it came with me. I learned to make sounds by ear mostly…if there was money mom would buy a few lessons here and there but I mostly taught myself. Many days my guitar and I would traverse the country side and I would sit at the red canyon in the ranch town and watch the sun go down. I loved the Kingston Trio and Bluegrass and Folk music. I fell in love with every male musician I met from preteen on-wards. They never looked at me until much later except to say how well I could play. I had my friend with me always….Even if it was not the original friend which I destroyed because I was angry with my da….I always had a guitar and an angelic voice to make up for other lacks…I could always dance and sing and play…..All that changed in one month in 2005 after 25 radiations treatments. In one month I lost my balance my voice and my ears. Since then I have kept the guitar hoping that something would change…..but it sat there and collected dust and stared at me everyday reminding me of what I once was… …I gave it away today to a 15 year old musician who was so thrilled to have it as he had no steel string guitar and could not afford one. I would be lying if I said there are not tears rolling down my face now….but I have to leave the past. I am not what I was and maybe will never be again….now I have to find out what I am. She never realized how only a day or two had passed here where I was while half her life had passed by where she was. Her finance was angry I had let her do this but how could I not let her? She was one of the daughters of the woman I loved…still loved…would always love. If she wanted to do this how could I stop her? How could she fall in love with humans like this? Yet ONE human had made a mark on her that even her real world could never erase and that further angered her fiance even while he, too, loved her as much as I did love her. Hell Oh River, ‘No rest for the wicked’ this morning…I think the skin on my face will crack. Very few will care. Funny how everyone knows they are right. They all know the answers. I don’t know any of them. All I know is nothing…Who goes to heaven? The one who makes a smile and comforts or the one that tells you all you need to change? Who is so holy that they know? Not allowed to laugh too much joke too much cry too much complain too much…what exactly IS too much? Anymore it seems that it is a ‘my life sucks the worst’ contest with a suicide threat tossed on like a cherry…Call a real life brother crying and they say they have a call they have to take…hahaha…guess I need bigger boobs and a smaller waist to get any sympathy. I know one gal that cries when she breaks a nail and all the guys on her page are all “Awwww baby that is so terrible let me come get you!” I cry cause I have a bloody broken heart and get the, “Hey stop thinking of yourself and do this ’cause this is why I don’t kill myself.” People think I can’t see the difference? Nope Me no princessa that is for DAMN sure and if I damned that forever by saying it that way well it ‘aint like it hasn’t already BEEN that way! I have had it up to my chin with know-it-all holy rollers! I guess that makes me bad…maybe this is a lack of sleep and a really sore face speaking…but every word is as real as the pain in my back and shoulders and the constant sneezing and the fucked-up thinking and insanity that runs this world into the proverbial ground ’til I don’t care if I am coming or going…. ….yeah I am pissed off. Not pissed off at peoples good hearts….not pissed off at true good intent…I am PISSED OFF AT RAGING STUPIDITY! (That includes me of course ’cause if I was smart I would not give a happy rats ass what anyone thought about me and I guess this is one of those rare times I do not.) It is never enough. I LOVE and LOVE and it is still not enough. I am not enough ______ for someone…so many have something to say about what is wrong with me….(none of them can seem to come to an agreement about that…) and the few that love me how I am I am so grateful for they can not possibly have any idea….WORLD YOU KNOW WHAT POINT I AM AT!DO YOU? (not that it matters of course) The first REAL LIFE person that is compatible with me who comes along I JUST MIGHT FOLLOW THEM WHEREVER THEY ARE GOING! Sheesh I am effing tired…but no one is gonna go “AWWWWWW” except for maybe K-Baba (bless him) or A-Islam (bless him too) and I wish one of ‘em was around right now in real life…might make this rage go away but then one cannot have it all I guess…..mom is telling me on the phone: “Your other sister’s father-in-law has cancer too but they told him it is in remission now. He did radiation AND chemo and he had this dream he had all his life to buy a Harley and take trips only now he can’t do it cause he is too old and weak and they need the money….so if you know anyone who wants to buy a Harley?”, “I wanted a motorbike once and you said I could not have it….there are alot of things I will never have now because I listened to what someone said or kept a promise.” “Well that is Life for 90% of the people on this Earth honey. Do you think I ever wanted to be in some hillbilly town with a senior center that has shit-kicking line dancing instead of ballroom dancing because most people here are farmers?” “Well at LEAST YOU can still DANCE!” These are the kind of conversations mom and I have but this one made me think because today I was talking to a 20-something young friend and he was at the stage all of us ‘oldies’ who never lived our dreams were once at: free from major responsibility and young and healthy! My Da wanted to be a singer….but he fell in love with my mom and ended up having five kids and needing to work a real job to live. Later, when he was free to choose something and he and mom could have split and he could have lived his dream of a streamside cabin in Texas he did not do it hoping mom would forgive him for screwing his secretary and giving her herpes for life. He did not live his dreams…As good or as bad as he was he lived his life for OTHER people or to keep promises or make someone else happy. Mom wanted to be a concert pianist, a nun, or married to Carlos but instead she ended up with five kids working from sun up to sundown cooking and cleaning and teaching and crying over lost dreams….When she could have split and left and had a little house of her own she didn’t ’cause she made a promise to live with my Da until “death do us part.” I too had dreams that were always beyond permission or the happiness of other people or a promise I made.What is best? To live for Self? To live for Others? How many people have planned on the dream when the __________ only to find that, by the time they arrived there they had lost all thier __________? If you are young this is your chance for better or worse to choose. What life do you want? Do you want the life I had? Small meaningless rebellions instead of the the REAL dream that would have shaken the foundations of your families world? This is a choice we all have to make. If we are lucky we get it more than once. Most everyone gets it once. When my mom was at the restaurant before the wedding talking to her brother saying, “I really do NOT want to do this but I made a promise and he says he will die without me…” She could have left then. Would her life have been much more exciting and happy? Can we ever know? Is his why she pushed all her daughters to join the ranks of men and barbies dolls so hard without even being aware she did it? So she could live the life she wanted to live, vicariously, through us? In giving her what she wanted then did we too lose out on real dreams? Does this matter? Right now my real life lovers are Pain and Silence. (from the poem ‘Maud Muller’) “Alas for the maiden, Alas for the Judge, For rich repiner For Household Drudge, God pity them both, God pity us all who, Vainly the dreams, Of YOUTH recall….. For of all sad words, Of tougne or pen, The saddest of all are, “It might have been…” It’s All Good In The ‘Hood One of my buddie’s names is “Adnan” and, in real life, he is one of the few I know I can call on to make a sad night funny. He is my ‘sometimes brother’ ’cause sometimes he disappears after some embarrassing event for a long time…He is a 37 year old 47 year old who looks pretty good for his age and sprays that black dye in a burr haircut and it looks like he is not going bald if you don’t look REAL close. He has been in America so long I call him ‘Redneck’ (he can do that thar ‘yeehaw two by four chewin’ dialect reel good!) and he is hilarious sometimes when he gets into making fun of the local preachers crying out, “LAWDY LAWDY YOUZ GWINE T” HELLFIRE FO” SUUUURE!!!!!” punctuated by the deep plosive “HUH!” of the African American preacher… This fellow needs no urban dictionary he has lived in the ‘Hood’ so long now he sounds like a ‘Bruthuh’! He can sing song out the Ebonic Dialect with the pros and knows it all…We have a standing joke about his ‘favourite dancers’ but he did not get this way before some heartless blond stomped his heart into a pancake! Still I am proud he is my friend. he is the epitome of the good hearted bad guy…generous, gives to people, sits with sick people, helps another brother out who is new, anything…likes skirts…gazes at naked ladies in bars with a plain coke in his hand and dates non-Muslim girls and swears he will never marry….soft spoken and kind and even though he is a ladies man that does not think much of the ladies as worthy of keeping he still is very honest with everyone he meets about who and what he is and he pays for whatever he gets….in short…he is an American GOOD guy now. Ok you can smile now but ain’t it de truf? Spend over twenty years here and see what happens to you! I called him the other night on account of my being very depressed. I knew he would cheer me up….but there was no answer. I was pretty sad then and wondering if is possible to sleep yourself to death and slummed around the apartment all sad and gloomy and even my cat walked away from me! After a coupla hours at about 11pm the phone rang….OOOOOOOOO…. A PHONE CALL! I almost fainted from joy! I looked at the number…ADNAAANNNNNN!!!! WHOO HOOOOOO Everything was gonna be OK now we could poke fun at his harem and he could do hillbilly impressions for me! I GRABBED the cell and dropped it and cussed and picked it up and answered just in the nik of time! “Salamalaikummmmmm!!!!!!!!!” There was no sound…..Hmmmmmm…..I could hear a car engine so I knew he was driving and had his speaker phone on so I knew he would say, as usual, “I am almost home. I will call you back when I get there.” So I waited…..…nothing…..Suddenly a woman started giggling and it wasn’t me! And he was answering her in a flirtacious way! They were on their way to his house! OOOOHHHH NOOOO!!!! I hung up quickly! He called back the next day, and I said, “Hey dude I am sorry I hope I did not yell ‘Salaams’ out too loud when you accidentally called me and hit ‘speakerphone’.” He was quiet a minute….”You called?” “No you called. I am sorry I hope I did not mess up your date…” He was quiet a LOOOONG time…., “What time did I call you?” “11 pm.” “What day was that?” “Yesterday…” “Uhm…Check your phone and make sure that was my number…” “I already did and it was…” He seemed lost which is not like him…as kind hearted as he was I could see his mind spinning the scenario as well as he knows me and he was thinking he was a bad person to be in front of a sister like that” “Hey wait Adnan! Wait! I looked again just now and it was not you….just one number off…Must not have been you…” I could almost feel the relief…”Lawdy Lawdy! How are you Homie!!!! It’s all good in the hood!” Hell’s Half Acre The sun shone through the windows I left open all night because my cat was howling if they were closed. I had stayed up until nearly 2 am this same day freaking out on what I still think might be another D.C. I never know what to do with them they freak me. Always a sucker for butter. As my spirit returned to my body and my dreams slipped into oblivion there was my cat sleeping at my feet…head in the opposing direction as predators do when they protect thier own with his back up against my leg. The bright curtains were cheerful. There was drool on my pillow. My mouth felt like the Sahara Desert and I think my eyes were glued open….that happens sometimes. Suddenly the heart arrythmia of waking and the need to answer nature’s call were more important than the warm spot on the bed and with every joint and muscle screaming I lurched into the bathroom….. ……what time was it? “Just forget about it and pray and be sincere….” I told myself and did all and slugged into the shower, sat down, grabbed the bar and washed and dripped out and put on clothes and took meds and brushed teeth and unhooked the powerchair from the wall, sat in it and faced it east and prayed what Tariq taught me….I was thinking about him as utter silence ruled but for the cat throwing it’s litter around in the box….the hum of the chair was welcome in the silence and on came my best friend Mr. Computer. While it booted up I hummed to the kitchen and got out of the chair and in between the narrow cabinets I was safe enough and washed the early morning dishes and ate a bananna and the phone rang while I was still coming to life…mom. “Baby? Remember Tammys cat? She just called me and she is frantic he has diarrhoea and is running all over her house and trailing it everywhere and she can’t catch him she is 80 and he thinks she is going to give him medicine and you recall how long his fur was…?” She went on in this vein without a breath for five minutes. When she got to…. “His BUTT FUR IS ALL MATTED WITH SHIT….” I broke in…. “Mom just get some of the money we saved for me to live on and give her the money and take him to the vet and come get the cardboard box I carry my cat in…..” she cut me off…. “But I am not finished TELLING you everything yet! Your nephew has malnutrition because his MOTHER lets him eat only McDonalds food because he throws a fit if she makes him eat vegetables and he is already almost a teenager no WONDER he’s not healthy!” “WHAT?” “Ok let me email you and my poor son your brother is such an angel he has to cook and clean and everything…HE works too!” “She makes alot more money than he does mom.” “YOU KNOW WHAT SHE DID! She TOLD me that the youngest drove her crazy and she MADE your brother watch him! Your brother is an angel….” she went on and on about how my niece by my brother in law’s second wife is too dominating and how my nephew was brilliant and how my sister was such a perfect mom and how they all went skiing is Colorado and how Da was having to go to the bathroom every three minutes and how he couldn’t find his…” “MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!! Sheesh mom I love you you want me to have mental problems?” “Did Did Adnan or Westside come get the TV that does not work and take it away they are big strong men! They should HELP you! I want to watch TV over there and how can I unless I can give you this one and….” “Yes mom Wazzy put the TV out on the front porch and he will…” “WHHHAAAAATTT!!!!!!!! I am coming over RIGHT NOW!” Click…..buzzzzzzzz….sigh I typed out a message to the mysterious fellow online and did not know what to do…He was…I cannot say for sure but THEY always come to me…no matter the religion because they know me too…too confusing…I opened my front door and the deep silence was shattered by a woman screaming, “WHITE TRASH WHITE TRASH LOOKS LIKE WHITE TRASH!!!!!” I hoped no one called the police on her as I shifted to yahoo and hummed over to the front screen and unlocked it and she frieghted in cussing like a cowboy…this woman who, when I was a child, never let me talk like a redneck had BECOME a redneck! “Damn they could have taken that to the dumpster….big strong LAZY men they are all LAZY I will get John to do it….” she slammed the door open as a Uhaul backed in and some Black folkes got out and caught her mumbling about “white trash” and cussing and the older one asked what was wrong and she grabbed his arm and said, “OH OH you are an angel my daughter is disabled could you please take that TV to the dumpster???” and they laughed and said “yes” and she came back in and said, “Now they were REAL men!” While she was screaming “White trash” and running around the house she somehow backed me and my chair over a corner of my favourite Kameez and the wheels had ripped the back right off of it! I sighed…..I said… “Look at my dress it is ruined now” she said, “I don’t care it is just a dress!” Just then the orange light came on Yahoo….TARIQ!!!!!! OOOOOOOO!!!!!My bestest buddy and I answered the mail and he told me his mom died four days ago….. I started to cry…mom did not know…she just said… “I have to get out of here and go somewhere CHEERFUL! I love you baby!”And out the door she went. And I was not mad at her either because if it was not for her I would have nothing in this world. Yesterday’s Neighbor When they moved in mom asked them to move the old TV while she was screaming “White Trash!”So they noticed me….especially one fellow who is 39 years old named Andy. When mom cannot make it by to help me I use my walker to transport things. One day after they moved in I was going out to the dumpster with the trash on the seat of the walker…it is hard to lever the walker over the curb and suddenly that day someone ‘whooshed’ behind me at a run and grabbed the trash… .…Andy…. Over the last month he talks to me when he comes to take the trash on the way over…our last conversation was typical, “You still a pretty lady how old are you?” “48” “You live there yourself I know cause I watch out for you and no man ever comes.” “Yes but I am OK…..Mom comes by all the time and I never know when one of my brothers will show up…” (hardly ever but he probably knows that if he is watching out for me.) “You know we gotta be nice to people ’cause you never know someone might be an angel in disguise….” “Yes this is true…” “You know even big women need love too…” “Yeah…when Allah sends me a husband I guess I will get that.” “Oh yeah you Muslim…Why you Muslim I already did that whole scene once what you get out of it?” “Paradise” “Sho doan look like paradise to me..” he shakes his head….Then he goes back to his apartment and I go to mine shaking my head. Over these trips I learned he lost his wife to cancer and that he has children by three women and is proud of that and he wants to make love to me….sigh….over the last month since they moved in he rings the door bell and by the time I get there he is gone….if the door is open to let the air in when the weather is good he says something through the privacy screen door and by the time I get there he is gone. Last night he rang the doorbell. Drunk. I opened the door and there he was. He came in and shut the door. Bold fellow but it isn’t like I lived a while so…? He said, “You ‘fraid of me?” “No.” “You ‘fraid of me I know you are.” “What gives you that idea…have some tea?” “No no tea.” “Ok sit down then” “No I won’t sit down” “Why?” “‘CAUSE!” “Cause why?” “You ain’t ‘fraid of me?” He seemed hopeful and disappointed at once, “No not at all…” “Then why you never come to the door when I yell in?” “I do but you are already gone.” “Ain’t I a good lookin’ guy and you in that power wheel chair and weak and all you gotta grab whatever you can get in life…Here I am…” “I am not sleeping with any man unless I marry him…I am not interested in hell. Are you sure you don’t want tea?” “No Tea no games…” “I don’t play games.” “What will it take to get you?” “La Illah ha illah Allah Mohammadan rasoolallah…and a molvi” “I cain’t marry you! I am goin’…” “OK have a nice evening” Today his SUV is parked right outside my door…Sigh…Last night was a bad night….I woke up several times not breathing or breathing too fast…. The Day The World Changed I was sitting outside in the cool Spring breeze when my mom called, she said, (I could hear the smile in her voice) “GUESS WHO CALLED!!!!!”, Guess who called? Hmmmmm…That was a broad one! “The President Of The United States!” “NOOOOO!!!!!! MUCH Better than that!!!” (I could here the smug laughter of KNOWING what I did not know) “PUBLISHERS CLEARINGHOUSE!!!!!!!” “Honey come on be serious!” “Ok Mom…it was a leprachaun right?” “No Noooooo….”, she giggled like a young girl, “He told me not to tell you…..Faraz called!” Somthing walled up in me for 20 years broke right then…..Faraz…..Faraz who put the stolen flashing street light next to his bedroom door! Faraz who went to the lake with me the last day I saw….. Faraz….. “Honey? Baby are you there? Can you answer me? Can you say anything?” I had my hand over the reciever as I was gulping great huge gasps of air and hyperventilating while my lips got numb…Her voice faded in and out of my ear with each beat of my heart and the sidewalk tilted….I did not want her to hear me cry…..almost 20 years…..almost twenty years…..she kept asking if I was alright….Faraz….The deep voice with the smile hidden in it. The good bad guy….the…the…OOOOooooooo……suddenly I could not stop crying and her voice became clear again….. “Baby! Baby girl I am sorry! Please I did not know you would take it like this…please forgive me I gave him your number….baby talk to me…say something….PLEASE!!!!!” All that would come out were huge racking sobs….. “Listen…he is going to call…he told me not to tell you but I knew this would happen…Please I am sorry! Please he will call any minute…please?” There was nothing I could say. I had known I would see him again….see all of them again in the NEXT life…never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe I would see any one of them again in this one! I could hear my heart pounding in my ear and a black spot pulsed in my left eye….but I did not care….Even if It was time to die I would talk to one of my jewels once more….Mom hung up apologizing and I tried to breathe slowly like the ER guys had taught me…..I sat there out side in the sun and the whole world seemed to once more belong to the Djinn people…it was there but not there and life seemed as tenuous as a thread. I held the phone and looked at it and waited….the gut wrenching sobs died and the neighborhood kids went across the street to play and looked at me like they were frightened. An odd, false Peace came into me and the phone rang and I answered it… …that same deep voice. The fragile Peace fled like a ghost in the first rays of sun as he questioned, “Shani?” “Salaam Alaikum…..” Then the harsh sobs began again….in between them there was something calming in the sound of that deep voice. I cannot even tell you what he said except, “Nadeem asked about you. He wants to call you” “No!” a huge knife went through every breath, “Don’t give him my number!” He kept on talking and soon all emotion was washed out….. ….I thought. He said, “I will see you next week. Your mother gave me your address I can find you. Will you be alright?” My lips were numb again and I said, “Yes, I think so, Allah hafiz” I sat there as if struck by lightening but the human body can only stay in flight or fight mode for so long before it must rest or die….. ….I thought. Then the phone rang again and I thought mom was calling back to check on me…… ……”Shani………..Shani????”, I could not answer. I could not say anything. “This is Nadeem.” Nadeem….The one I had spent almost 20 years crying over. The one I had tried to forget. The ONE….but it was not his fault I left…I always prayed for him to find someone to love as much as I loved him…..He never lied to me about how he felt for me….I chose to hunt him it was not his fault and yet….I thought every wall had already crashed to rubble and yet one more came smashing down….Is it possible for any human being to cry that hard and live? “Shani please talk to me….” My throat was so tight only a whisper would come out. “Nadeem………………………..I told Faraz not to give my number……” I have no idea now what we said to each other. But soon we were both crying like babies and he told me about his wife Rani and his life and all that had happened. At that moment something I had tried to set free many times was set free in real….and I loved Rani even more than I loved him now for giving him what I always prayed he would find….He told me how to find him on facebook and we hung up and I took the powerchair inside….more drained than I thought I would ever be and asked for friends with my old friends at thier request. She is lovely. They look so happy together. She lived my dream. I was angry at life for a day or so but then..like all things…..let it go….all the things I wanted to do once upon a time she had done….I chose to be glad for her…..I chose to love her. It is hard to make dreams of things and see them die again and again for reasons of choice and honour but then I have to make a new dream…even a small dream is better than no dream at all…..But the most unexpected thing happened the following week while I finally began to grow the wings to fly higher than my reality…..In the following days I realized that these old friends were he same as they always were before and it was as if no time had passed. They truely are angels in human form. Love takes many forms and we do not stop learning until we die…. Time Runs Backwards He called and promised he would be here….this day…this week….I almost killed myself getting everything ready and looking nice and then when he called he asked me, “Salaams what do you need? I can pick it up on the way there after work….” I DID need a few things and I was flabbergasted! At first I did not know what to say….almost 20 years….and he cared the same as if that was yesterday! I remember when he towed my car…bought food….anything all without being asked…here once more was the same. His voice was the same. Deep and curly with a grin in it. One of my two dark winged angels who had come home bringing me gifts and love as if I was, once more, a part of a family….A FEMALE family member! Someone you take CARE of! A princess… …that old feeling started coming back and felt weird after so many years….I still had not seen him….what should I say his question was like a reading of the mind….for Mom was in Norman with my nephew and I had no one to take me shopping…I was almost out of food….. “Walaikum asalaams…” I sort of laughed and whispered and choked all at once, ” Uhm….Vegetables and chicken and rosewater for favouring…” “WHAT! You LIKE that???” he was grinning I could HEAR it in his voice! “OK Halal or hormone free?” “I don’t care…” My voice was stronger now, “Bring whatever just bring YOU!” I could still hear the grin in his voice and he said in that deep and curly way, “OK I will be there at 6:30 “I could not concentrate….not on anything! I went around arranging this thing and that thing….light a candal so it smelled like flowers and set out a bowl of dates???? Figs???? What should I do? Make TEA! I boiled tea and then realized there was two hours to go I would have to reheat….what to wear? Something modest with a head scarf for sure! Ok…OK…OK…Breathe….1….2….3….4..5…1..2…3..4…5…. “NO BREATHE SLOWER!” I was yelling at myself. “GO LAY DOWN!” I went and laid down and mom called….I don’t remember what she said or what I answered! She was laughing at me! “OK I will hang up I can see you will not make any sense right now…” I was trying to sleep…two more hours! But it was no good…I was on facebook counting down…should I answer the door in the powerchair or stand up with the stick???? What should I DO! I took pictures of myself…..I forgot to adjust the lighting on them for best effect and realized I actually looked OK at the normal settings! 30 minutes left…make up or no make up??? I was screaming at myself again… “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU! WHY ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THAT THIS IS FAMILY HERE NOT A DATE!” I went in the bathroom and put on makeup….what was to much and what was not enough????? “I DON’T KNOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!!!!” I screamed at me again…. What to do what to do????? “OK Breath slow…..3 minutes to 6:30 pm…..OK yes candal it smells like fried onion chicken in here….OK don’t look weak look strong….be standing at door….heat tea…..bowls full….cups out….OK….OK…OK….BREATHE…..6:30 and he is not here….OK….stand in doorway….sun is slanting over the back and long, cool shadows are casting…..is that his vehicle? Is that one? Is that one? Which one would be his? PHONE YES PHONE! Call him!” So I did. There was that deep curly smiled voice again…”What! Don’t be silly get inside and stay there I am passing Council Rd. I will be just a little late….go sit down and rest!” An order! I love the cowboy types! OOOOoooooooo! What a mess! But I could not stay sitting and stood in the door waiting with the stick once more and forgot my legs hurt and kept wondering which car and then I saw him as he slowed a moment at the corner….He looked up and saw me and his smile was big enough to see from FAR away! As he pulled in the parking spot my hand flew to my mouth and I started to cry….and he got out with two bags of groceries and came and hugged me right at the door! “Please don’t let go!!!! I will have to kill you and bury you in the backyard!” I did not want to let go….he smelled like cigarettes and time flew backwards and I almost fell backwards and he caught me and we came in and it was as if no time had passed! He looked exactly the same!He would not let me do anything…he put up groceries and we started to talk and talk and he wanted to hear everything and I must have drowned him in words and he grinned and grinned and I told him there was a park and I went there in the evenings in the chair….I let him sit in it because I hate looking at guys from a height I am so tired of being an ‘amazon’…he laughed at me and said, “You are a princess” Which made me cry again…..and then laugh and then he said, “I will drive us let’s go!”OOOOooooooooo!!!!!! He came to see me! He brought me something I needed. He offered to drive! Both my angels where being this way….REAL men….not fake wannabes! I began to remember why I loved them all so much and he told me what he knew of everyone and that he still had PICTURES and and and…..OOOooooooooo…and…..even I cannot write right just trying to write all the good things….impossible….miracle…..ALLLAHU AKBAR!!!!!!!!!! While I tried to wrap my mind around all of the little miracles he opened the door for me…helped me in the car….I am still so freaked out I don’t even recall what the car looked like except it was white. We drove the short block to the park and he let me use him for a human bastion so I could walk to the park bench…..The chill wind was blowing JOY everywhere!!!!! It was blowing fast and hard and the scarf almost flew off several times til I just put it around his neck and said, “I want to go to the fence….” “Can you make it that far????” “Maybe…look at the way the benches are spaced!” There was a bench every ten or fifteen feet. “I don’t want you to hurt yourself!” I think I was so high on Joy at that moment someone could have shot me in the shoulder and I would have laughed at the pain! “Yes yes! I want to try! I want to gooooo!!!! Please!” “Ok then hold on!” We walked from bench to bench and rested each time and tried to make his camera work in his phone while I hugged a tree near the last bench! We sat there and he said it was cold. I said, “I am a human furnace!” I tried to wrap my hands around his to warm them but his hands were too big. Just laughing like crazy drunk people on JOY! He made joke after silly joke and it felt GOOD to have someone to lean on who was strong! Me made it to the fence and I was laughing and swaying like too much sharabi and he was laughing with me! I think he smoked some ciggarettes too but I am not so sure now….we went back the same way from bench to bench and got to the little car and the same treatment….like a princess….I was thinking “This is the kind of person who would save a sister the troubles of the world….” (Both my angels….both Aries…both thier own kind of leader….) I was out of breath….We came back and I realized we forgot to put up ALL the groceries….I began to and he told me to sit down and did it himself! I felt dizzy and sat down and he brought me the figs….he looked worried…I was soooo HAPPY!!!!!! “I can die now..” I laughed….he said very sternly, “Don’t say that.” When he left he gave me a big hug and promised to come back. After wards mom called and started to ask questions….still in a daze I could not answer a single one! She laughed at me MORE!I wonder if I will ever sleep again?????? Heaven On Earth It had been an amazing and tiring day for me….My cousin and I kicked back on the bed while mom and my other cousin jabbered at each other in spanish and medical in the other room….we just layed there and rested…he works so hard to just make life work…and even took the time to come. We did not say much. I was dizzy….High on Joy and love and Allah and and and….beyond words. Finally words came, “Heaven came back” “Heaven was always there it was never lost, just misplaced” Faraz said with the deep curly smile in his voice….What a day! This might be a normal day for some people but it was like Eid and Christamas and Hannukah and Yule all mixed up in one huge, amazing thing!!!!!! It began with the phone waking me from a deep sleep in the middle of a weird dream…..Nadeems ‘Authority’ voice, “We’ll be there in thirty minutes be dressed and ready to go!” “Huh???? I just woke up?” “How did you sleep? You went to sleep before 3 am right?” “Yes…I did……” My eyes, which had been trying to focus on things finally saw the room in a ‘blur’ of morning….. “What time of the morning is it….” “MORNING! It’s almost NOON! I am HUNGRY! You have thirty minutes!” I could hear the grin in his voice…… “Ok OK!!!!!” I was laughing now….” “How did you sleep?” “Like a ROCK ’til just now!” “GOOD! Be ready!” Hahahahahaha! Like I can be ready in thirty minutes! I did not even look at what I grabbed out of the closet but it ended up matching and I ripped a pant seam with my foot trying to step into them too fast and almost fell face first in the floor and then remembered I had to sit down first and the rip would not show anyway everyrthing I own is LONG! About the time I was dressed and stumbling around trying to find my glasses and medicine…all wild haired from sleep with no makeup they were at the door….I did my ‘gheta’ sandal walk to the door and let them in and laughed, “Don’t run away I don’t have my face on yet!” “What do you mean ‘no face’…I can see your face just fine! (I love that deep voice!)”Go put some makeup on!” Nadeem grabbed a cheek like I was a little kid.., …he never changed ordering people around….lol!!!! I went back in the bathroom to finish getting ready and it looked like my hair was in several curley knots and I tried to brush it out straight but it just recurled and I added the ‘required’ makeup and was escorted, to that old white car of Faraz’s, by two angels….I was speechless….this was like the old days! Yesterday was awesome and like some amazing holiday and today was like….even now writing it I have to remember to breathe! Whatever thought I was capable of had flown right out the car’s open door! “Where do you wanna go? Denny’s? I-hop? Where…..?” I could not stop smiling…. “Where where tell me!,” The world was spinning and the sky was HIGH HIGH and my heart was doing flip flops of joy and Faraz laughed and said, “She can’t answer you…” I pointed at Faraz and nodded and smiled….Faraz always drives…even back then….and time once more leapt backwards as they began to decide what to do in Urdu while they tried to figure out where an I-hop was so we could go eat…Zooming backwards I could not speak because too much joy was in my heart to say anything….I loved the sound of Urdu…then and today it was and is a comforting sound like the sound of the world being sweet and Allah being kind and loving me. When we got to the restaurant they helped me from the car and once more I felt like I did that night surrounded by a protective circle of family who loved me when I wore purple and gold….and when we were escorted to our seats the same postion was assumed that we had at the Western Sizzling after the Student union almost two decades ago….only one fellow was missing but I could almost imagine he was there too with us….I don’t really know what I ate…it was made out of eggs….I had tea….we took photos and they promised I should have them when they got a chance…… …….but mostly it was the free hugs….If this is love I want to drown in it every day…no sex nothing like that just pure love….no strings….I felt like some starving person on a desert Island who had a basket ball for a friend for too long….Then I had to wire some money to a nice lady whose was making me clothes and Nadeem asked where she lived… “Look you do not have hardly any money and you are on your own….who is she and give me the details I am going to Karachi in July I will pay for it and pick it up for you. Email her and tell her…” This was also an order….I am so used to taking care of myself and being alone….to have all this care and love lavished on me as if I am someone so special….even as I write I am crying….then to top it off…. “We are here in the store what do you need.” I was holding on to Faraz for dear life while sitting on one of those scooter carts and I could not let go of him….. “What do you eat?” “Meat and vegetables mostly…soup and olive oil and…” Nadeem was off and running….HE WAS SHOPPING FOR ME! I held on to Faraz and started to cry…. “Don’t cry,”….He was smiling. “OK Cry if you want to….” Still smiling….I think I started hyperventilating about the time we went to the parking lot because my lips were numb……… ……….Guys…..GUYS were treating me like a GIRL again….neither cared if I could not walk or if I was this or that or ?????….they LOVED me….LIKE FAMILY……Allah Loves me I know this now….I know this because of my angels! Letter To Rani I wish I had words great enough to tell you how much it means to me that you found each other and fell in love. For almost two decades I wished that for him every day…never far from my life…never far from my mind. Inside I was smiling today listening to you. I could feel the kind of love you could have for people. I used to wonder who you were….what you looked like. You lived all my youthful dreams…You earned every right you have…but the love…You know how few women there are in this world who could let someone be a part of a circle, a family, however distant who loves the same man you love from a distance. How few could understand the ways of the human heart. Only someone awesome could get someone awesome. A friend once said, Only God and mothers love, the rest of us just ‘need’…well every once in a great while you meet someone who does not need to fall into any category to understand what love is…rare these people are…and you are one of them. We don’t always get our dreams. Sometimes we get something stranger than a dream…sometimes we get a day of an odd reality…that you can be happy for someone you can never have… But then I think you are a wise one Rani…You know without my saying it that we never really have anyone…. We choose them… If there are no accidents in this world then, many many years ago the stage was set that I would meet you in this today…and have the honour to know the love of the love of my life. Without doubt… …you are an amazing woman. Thank you for letting me be a part of your family. The Computer Years This series is yet unfinished. There have been more who came to join the ranks of ‘Mythos and Muse’ and I cannot leave them out, but this will be a start. The Computer Years …the dreams. Awesome, lively and terrifyingly real sometimes I came back into myself, almost awake ,with the voices and faces still fresh in my mind as if I had lived every moment of sleep as if it was as real as… …as… Light sweat covered my forhead and a sharp headache, from sleep apnea perhaps, stuck like an ice-pick in my left temple. Still clean from the shower last night and bodily functions not yet awakened with the mind she started the whispered prayers. Prayers for family and friends. I did not feel bad they were not perfect… …I am not perfect an Allah knows all intents. The bed was warm. The cat was warm as he guarded me, half sleep, facing my feet. The pillows were warm. Pain is so normal in my everyday existance that the head-ache only inspired a mild sort of alarm and I went back to sleep… …almost, but the call of nature made me suddenly too slow and heavy body have to move from it’s place. The dreams of running faded a little. My cat, which had been purring, gave me a dirty look as he was forced to move from his own warm nest he had made. He flipped his tail and jumped onto the floor and padded into the other one of two rooms. I rolled on her side and pushed up and sat on the head of the bed rubbing my sore head and wishing the headache had been for some awesome reason; like maybe a hangover, and then I sighed and stood up on slightly unsteady legs… …but I was standing! Three years ago I had come here to die and I was standing here alive. No one knows how often I fought off the devils that said, “Die die!!!” and I defied them with all of myself in spite of all the losses in life. There were those who really knew nothing who stood in judgement of me life but, at this moment, just waking, they were like cricket-voices chirping from far away. I lurched forwards and went in to wash my face and looked at the double vision of myself in the mirror and then at the magnified circle in the center that allows me to see clearly: the age, the fact that my face seemed to grow more asymetrical with each passing year, some turkey-wattle starting to show, white hairs curling around my forhead sprinkling the blond, red and brown I have in a curly wad that made me look like some bleary-eyed mad-woman. I got over being a stinking human. I shucked the night and stepped into the tub…. …I sighed again and turned on the water, glad for the blessed plastic bath chair…and bar…the water table was high here and the source plentiful, allhamdulillah, the water jetted out fast and made the only noise, as it gurgled down the hollow pipe, that I heard yet in the day…I made a mess with it splashing all over. A mess to clean up later…maybe….it was only water. I got out. I stood in front of the mirror glad I cannot not see so well. In this vision I looked a little bit like the fat earth-goddesses they dug up in tel’s, from old wadi’s, around Palestine. I am glad I still had a waist left. I combed my hair, holding everything, made the lop-sided pony-tail that has become my trademark-by-default. I can make a straight one but it takes alot more effort and ,lately, I have been very very down…and thinking of cutting off my hair altogether. Putting a happy face on a kind of vast desolation is hard to describe…no makeup today…or any day…I put on the same clothes as the day before. They were not dirty yet. I thought of the old days when clothes were sweaty and used up in one day…I looked again in the magnified mirror and wondered about makeup… …last year even I wore makeup for no one and for no reason but that seemed so superfluous now. I ‘gheta-walked’ into the main front room. The cat was looking hopefully at me. I hobbled over and filled his bowl full of chow and saw his water bowl was still full. I looked at the mess of my house and was glad my sister was coming next week to help me clean it up. I had decided to let mom believe it was her idea to stay alone, instead of live together because mom was so happy about it and so I am glad to wait for the assisted living center…then it would be stamped in concrete: I would be old and decrepit…but still that place would be a blessing anyway…I have made up my mind to tell everyone how aweome the idea is… …maybe it is? At the moment; however, the facade of contentment is mostly a facade and the hope for the future is in the future and anyone who tells me to live ‘now’, in the wrong way, gets the hard edge of my personality…and I have had a hard edge. It was not loud. It is not combative but it is relentless and forgets little. Pain and Silence are my best friends. I took my blood pressure…the only time it is high is when I wake up. I live with the constant feeling of my scalp crawling and cold-hot pricklies in the middle of my upper back. Pain in the left eye. So many things and doctors just said, “There is nothing we can do it is all the brain tumour.” I took my meds… I opened the front door to the life outside, sneezed twice, thinking how odd it was that this year the allergies never stopped. I like to leave the front door open so there will be noise in my house: cars driving by, people laughing and talking while they walked to the park. I put on tea water to boil: bismillah I have a water filter that worked, as the local water had arsenic in it, which caused people to get very smart before they got cancer if they lived here and drank it all their lives…I have not….I have lived so many places, in one region, in these fifty years. I made a chicken sandwich and thanked Allah That I have these choices and I unplugged the powered-up electric wheel chair and sat down in it…blessed relief from some of the pain…then I turned on the ‘box’…the music played as Windows opened, (how ironic), and my ‘real life’ began…. It really began in 2005, in December, when I got my first lappy from Da when he was still alive. I used to get so exasperated with him for making me learn the computer things when I never thought I would need one and had never lived with one. Before radiation I never dreamed I would be where I am now but I got that lappy for my birthday. I started to learn on Da’s computer first and, while I was sick with radiation, I lived with my parents, once more, in Czech town. Da took me to all my radiation treatments. He was in the first stages of his own sickness then. He was not easy to live with and he and mom fought all the time. He called her names, she refused to forgive him, she told the entire world all how horrible he was and I am truly their daughter…I fight and I do not forgive. Many times mom would make plans for all the changes she would make for the house “When Da would die.” She insisted I would live with her, in bliss, when “Da would die.” She had her whole life built around when life would begin, “When Da would die.” I opened my lappy and made my first Myspace account. Myspace was awesome back before they gave you the bandwidth warnings for too much html script. It was at Myspace I was to make my first real internet friend: The Creep “Too cool too Tackle” with a closet full of old angels…..He was the first guy I met online. ‘First Person I was social with and brilliant. We were never in any kind of love like romance but we were, oddly and unaccountably, in LOVE. Both of us lied a coupla years about our ages up and down but that made no difference in the end. That kid was a poet like no other. We bonded in a way that passes explanation. We wrote poetry together. He would start a verse and I would finish it. He was my best muse of all time and I found him in a really weird way: I was looking for my soon-to-be-next ‘hubby’ online because he fancied himself to be a poet and I was hunting of course. I found the ‘Creep’, as he later called himself, back then. Sarcastic, self controlled, biting sense of freedom and right and wrong sometimes we fought and sometimes talked for hours at a time non stop. One day we told each other the truth about our ages and I guess he proved he was a real friend because he still is today but he has stepped back and is living his life… …but there was a night when a super collider in Geneva was going to end the world and I was honoured past all honours that he chose to spend that time with me…. Time has taken him away from me. Time and college and GIRLS. I have always wished him the best of all worlds and I still do! He was my friend before I became Muslim and he was my friend afterwards and he was my friend through throwing up and losing hair and my friend before my last marriage. He eventually became a permenent part of me that can never be erased. …and as I was soon to find out, each precious gem I was blessed with would also leave. That snarky vegan kid from New Delhi was the first to go. He is always in my mind…living where dinosaurs eat people and words create pictures much better than I can create them…and I still love him. On the heels of the Creep came the ‘Drunk from Jordan’ and soon came Spankit and the Death Witch and Tho-maaas and my first cyber-daughter Dawn. Ankur arrived with The Great Guru and soon I was surrounded by binary friends. My real-life friends, all but one, had fled away from my sickness but my binary ones either did not need to know or did not mind. For the first time in my life, outside of Edmond Road, I had the first and last opportunity to be a pretty, popular princess with fake DP’s of pretty girls or really photoshopped pix of myself from a professional eye. I gloried in it until it hit me, one day, that I was nothing more than a lie and if any of them met me in real life they would be shocked. They were not flirting with and loving ME they were flirting with and loving who I wished I was…. ….I was so new to the computer I did not even realize people ‘cammed’. I did not yet have double vision from radiation and I was looking in the tiny chat box as a pair of unseen hands typed out, “So shall I be your swain?” Who was this 24 year old guy from New Delhi who knew the word, ‘swain’? I was 41 but I lied and said I was 39. “How do you know the word ‘swain’?” “I love words.” “Ok lets write poetry together!” “Hahahaha” “I am serious!” “Ok then you start.” I started with an already-written poem by Christopher Marlowe, “A Shepherd To His Love” and he completed every stanza so quickly I knew he must have also memorized it. It was my first experience of meeting a human mind OUTSIDE of it’s ‘shell’. It was amazing! Tickle Some years ago I was minding my own business playing around on Tickle when I met Ankur and Ravan….(and later a 56 year old heathen Biatch who called me a liar and ‘thats when the fight started…’) Anyway most of the people in Tickle (a group sponsored by Monster.com) were part of a huge secret psychological-behavioural experiment and some of us played that like MAD on purpose…one fellow named ‘Adam’ claimed he had 100 profiles all to himself! Ankur was a computer junkie like me and Ravan was the Grim Reaper. I have known them both for so many years now. We all had fun. Tom, Ravan, Dawn, Tones and I wrote one I STILL have most of….printing it off page by page as fast as I could until Tickle closed. But I am jumping ahead. I met North Star there too! I also met two women….in the classic words of Dr. Seuss I will call them ‘Thing One’ and ‘Thing Two’. ‘Thing One’ was always telling people how dangerous I was and how much of a man stealer I was….(If you KNOW me this becomes VERY hilarious)….Dawn and I had a MAJOR flame war going on with her because she just would not STOP! She did not stop until Tickle closed….she was the first one to call me a liar. I used to send all her PUBLIC love talk she had with other men to her boyfriend she supposedly loved so much she was going to get him a green card. (She never did) I met Famous J there too. She had promised him first and then dropped him for the new guy. He hated her. Then there was DPA…..the kind of 50 plus year old woman that screamed about pedophiles and slammed on some poor Jewish girl who was in love with a Pakistani guy named ‘Wise One’ and I found out she had public sex chats with guys even after she found out they were only 16. She was a Chuck Norris fanatic and after Tickle closed she started ‘The Other Tickle’ (which eventually flopped) but once more I am getting ahead of myself. At first she was nice to me until I pointed out that Jewish girl was not so bad…then that old rattle snake turned on me like a devil woman from the pits of hell. The WAR WAS ON! All I had trusted her with she now called a LIE! Even the Editor of this Phycho experiment became herself MUCH too well aquainted with us both! At one point I threatened to sue that lady and Tickle and the editor talked me out of it. (somehwere on my old hard drive I saved every word of everything…LOL) In retaliation I spent three days without food or sleep often passing out and once going to the ER getting EVERY NASTY CONVERSATION LINK the snake lady had with EVERY kid and I sent all the links to every local TV station. Then I informed the editor I had done so. The editor sent me a private note saying she was sorry. I told her I was going to sue. Later that day there was a letter posted on the editors profile Saying that Tickle was closing in three days. Someone posted a question asking if I was the reason????? The Editor said “No…This was already scheduled to happen and I already have another job with Monster.” I did notice that Tickle removed the keylogger they had put on me to see what I data I was collecting when they closed Tickle….I did not care about the keylogger…I wanted them to KNOW….who was lying and who was telling the truth…Now no one will recall (but a few) my main Tickle moniker….and it was said I was not the reason why…. …but a KEYLOGGER????? LOL…. OK…..It is not my fault Tickle closed…..I blame it on the snake woman…… Cinnamon What can I say about him? I get lucky enough to meet the best and brightest. I was happy to be an editor and help him with ecology papers after all….he made a blog site for me. Everything about it is his work. He told me what a great writer I was and he READ all of it! He could prove he did he could talk about every story without surprise so I suppose he is one of the very few on this earth who KNOWS me. He never said that much about himself and for the longest time I was pretty sure he was really an American marine. He looks so American it even freaks me out now. He is just as fair skinned and featured as the cowboys and farmers of my own region but he is from Marwat. Over here people get ideas that those from Pahktun regions or decendants of Pahktuns are not really smart. They even have jokes about that just like we have blond jokes and ‘red-neck’ jokes and people have Sardar jokes but so far, online, I met three people from Marwat and their written English is better than mine and I am a native speaker! Over here people have NO idea what ‘smart’ means in an easy world. These guys are among the best brains on the planet and yes there are some stupid ones too but even their brand of stupidity is pretty smart…..ANYWAY! I am still not sure he is not a marine but his heart is the heart of a ‘ghazi’ and also the heart of a poet and so he must be Pahktun….Habibi once told me to “Be a ghazi!” and when I hear that word I think of Cinnamon. We had only a few long conversations and in those I sensed such a wild and sweet spirit…easy to anger…easy to forgive…easy to love.This is another one who cannot be put in a mental ‘gutter’ that the world calls ‘love’ but one I love with my whole heart and miss just as much although I know one day he will be gone, as others have gone, in the march of Life that we all must go on whether we wish to do so or not. He does not like music so much because it makes him feel and this I understand only too well….so this is my tribute to him in this writing…..I love you Cinnamon. Habibi I am not sure how I met him and I may never be sure. Sometimes I try to figure it out…was it that decendant of a Mughal? Was it that forgotten progeny of a Raja’s family? Was it Tahreek Insaaf? I still have no memory of how I met him but I do recall in those days everyone thought I was another guy. They could not seem to figure out if I was an Ameriki ‘ABCD’ or if I was playing and lived nearby or if I was just insane and they had to be nice to me ’cause in Islam you have to be nice to crazy people! Commander was the most demanding with questions all of which I answered to the best of my ability but I guess the ‘Fast Fuuastians’ decided it did not really matter after all…. .…but back to Habibi. I always thought his name was Habibi. It fit. He was Habibi and that was it…simple. One day I was tagged in a video and in it there were guys singing and being directed by Habibi. Then another video followed with the theme music from ‘Hai Junoon’ and it made me smile. I started looking for his few videos when he made them because they made me smile every time. They were simple. They were home-made…. .….They were AWESOME. Why? Because one of the hardest things to do in this sad and crappy world is make people smile. Making people cry is alot easier. I was Impressed! As I came to know him and the group he ran with I was further impressed…they loved thier country. They cherished what they had. They showed me scenes of friendship I had never known but one time in my life. They loved each other they helped each other they were like a living example of how people should be to each other. One day I got angry at one connected to that group for being evil and Habibi said, “You knew he was and you are his friend why are you compaining?” He even said it in Urdu so I would have to translate. Kinda stopped me in my tracks. I started breaking his photos and finding out things I never knew and each new thing was weirder and more creepy than the last….not because HE was, or is creepy but because he is alot more than just some ‘kid from Islamabad’. But more than that was a weird kind of love…not the first time ever and not the last I am sure but a kind of purity of love where someone is too good to put in the ‘gutter of the human mind’ and yet you cannot help but love them all the same because they have a spirit that come past who they are that touches the heart. I can look at his videos or pix anytime I am sad and feel happy again. I love Habibi. And this song always makes me cry and smile…cause it is not so far off from a bright and beautiful time in my own youth…(Hai Junoon) One of the only reasons I am still here is Habibi’s Phrase, “Be a Ghazi.” Doesn’t stop me from complaining though…I am sitting here right now wondering why there is a ‘dent’ in my hand and wondering if it even matters. It has been a really bad 2 months and I am too tired to even make the list now as I write but the list is there and also the question: “How to let things go?” Short of being dead how DO you let things go? I get really confused because in order for me to let things go I have to get rid of them out of my life. I do that already. Does not work there is this annoying little thing called ‘Memory.’ I tried putting all the bad stuff in a balloon once and ‘let it go’ symbolically and found out I might have killed a few birds or maybe even made a plane malfunction. “Your ass is as big as the side of a barn!” “You will have the family skin…” “You are wierd!” “Dear Mr.and Mrs. _______ we kindly ask that you take your daughter out of our school as she is scaring the other children with her witchery.” “I am sorry your daughter could never win this beauty contest.” “You are so sweet and kind and I wish you were younger and prettier.” “I think I love someone else and I wish you would meet her.” “You are Lazy, and Stupid!” “LIAR!””Fatty!” “Blubber!” “Witchypoo!” “FOUR EYES!” (ad nauseum) I did get a coupla comments over the years: “Smart” “Genius” “Good writer” (none of those get you laid when you are lonely enough to date the Devil and anyway there is SIN to consider not to mention the critique: That was not really sexy what you wrote.”) Ok dude! Sheesh! I’ll make it a POEM! Here lately I hear alot about how cool OTHER people are and thats great and all….(just don’t expect me to marry you or anything!) Right now my back burns and my left shoulder hurts so bad I am almost crying but crying won’t make it stop hurting. If I cry I might not stop. How am I supposed to keep on living? HOW TO LET IT GO! Balloons don’t work…trust me. I don’t expect any knight in shining armour I don’t think there are any left on earth. Sometimes I think I would sign my soul over in my own blood just for a place to rest myself in some strong and loving place and let some one ELSE deal with the workmen, the blasted kitchen, and the cyber attacks by people who have no idea who I am….….and ALOT to protect me from assholes who would claim I asked for my health problems or it is a lack of faith that keeps them from being healed. If a Gay Russian Midget from the Kamchatka Mountains came down to see me and knew my name and healed me….?????????? I might take on Russian Citizenship! Sometimes this world and it’s lack of real compassion stinks…..and so that last invectives of, “Are you a REAL Muslim and “PRETTTYYYYYYY DON”T LEEEAVE MEEEE!!!!!!” (and to me) “See what you did you DEVIL are you happy you DEVIL!” How to let it go…..the piles and piles of words and events that are the sum of all of me…sheesh right now even a deep breath is hurting! If I had a day without physical pain I would run screaming out the door….I want to cry but Habibi is standing behind me saying, “Be a Ghazi.” Be a Ghazi. Not easy. Paste the smile back on. Be a ghazi. Especially since Habibi is also gone now because of a misunderstanding and his discomfort with the very real fact that I cannot help but love him. Madly, passionately and with such intensity I cannot even write him into a romance or a gutter story even if I wanted to because he is THAT HOLY to me… …but he is missing now and I know I will miss him for a long long time. Ya Allah is there anything left? Ya Allah how can I forget? Ya Allah can you take this tear that rolls down a lifetime from my soul? Sufi When I met him he was a giant Panda bear. He was an ex-student of a false teacher. He never said that I just got that impression ’cause later that same guy told me to be nice to his cousin cause he had no dad and was not right in the head. So I accepted that cousin back as a friend and he was just as rude as he ever was and he even said his cousin lied about him…that he had a dad. For the longest time I believed the Sufi Guru and did not speak much with his ex student who would never say what had happened between them. To the great Sufi guru’s credit he was always kind to me in a distant way….but it turns out that his student was much more accesible. At first we did not talk much until we began to chat on Skype and the timing was the timing of the ‘asshole brigade attacks’…., (he would not like me to use these words but this is who I am), I still cannot figure him out. Sometimes I think people are there with him when we speak and I am part of a lesson on what not to be but then other times I think he is such a peaceful and calming force. Of all of my friends online only two could save me from rage by thier natures. One is Pretty….The other one is Sufi. In the wake of the star of the evening sinking below the horizon and missing people who are precious beyond explanation to me is this calm, quiet, unpreturbed voice telling me tales of miraculous sheep that no one remembered a week later and, in the beginning, tales of how the tribal warriors came from Afghanistan to Pakistan. I don’t know what it is about his voice and personality that can make me feel calm when I am raging and cussing people who, even though they deserve it, hurt me more by being angry to them then it does them because such people are heartless and care nothing for other human beings…unless it serves them somehow….Weird things are happening…..somehow he is connected. Lao Tzu I was minding my own computer beeswax admiring some photos of Muree I found in a friend of a friend’s information. They were really nice photos and I was commenting on them one at a time.Suddenly, out of NOWHERE…..this faceless person starts commenting BACK on one of the photos! (this pissed off one of his buddies who was tagged in that photo and kept having alerts to answer a conversation that was not his and went on to have over 100 posts!) This person was slamming the verbal raquetball like “Bam bam Bam bam”…he/she has one DAMNED wicked serve and it was all I could do to keep up! I found out it was a guy and checked out his page and found someone who was hard to guess….Old? Young? Chinese Spy? Suddenly it hit me! It was Lao Tzu! I almost fainted! Every meeting was a public display of hilarious verbal warfare and he would call me “MOTIIIIIII” (which means ‘pearl’ wink wink) and I would tease him about his 10 children in the mountains. The one I called ‘Commander’ once messeged me, “Who is he?” I said, “I do not know I thought he was YOUR friend!” As time passed our time pass came to be a time pass that maybe meant more to me than him I have no idea but there was one day I cried all day over him when his friends told me he died. I was all over Google trying to find out where the bombings in Peshawaar were and figured out there were some that very same 24 hours…I was sick that such a bright and beautiful mind would go and when they finally told me it was a joke I was already on the way to being sick three days from cussing them all up one side and down the other. It ruined what fun we all had before but I still could not stay away from that Chinese Spy from Skardu….Since Evening Star left me for another who kicked him I keep wish Lao was over 40…but like I told Habibi…. “Wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up faster…” That was a good day…when I got a Lao Tzu for a friend. Life claimed him also as he got engaged and then married. Along with him came the ‘Premium Pack’. They all grew up and moved on and I miss them all. (The Premium Pack) (To be added soon) (Gold Nugget) (To be added soon) (Bright Smile) and ‘bouncing ballistic missiles’ and the accidental naked lady post. (To be added soon) Pretty She told me about a guy, from Marwat, was the only one to ever call her ‘Pretty’, besides me, but much like ‘Habibi’, The name fit. ‘Never can recall how I meet people….somehow I met Pretty connected to some godforsaken hellish social site that I kept leaving and kept getting dragged back to so I could be knifed by asshole brigades from a particular region I will not name. Finally I had the good sense to leave that social site but I kept Pretty as a friend. Pretty SHOWED me things in real! She showed me that when we got in three way conversations with a guy the guy always favoured her. It was this way that I lost Evening Star and he asked me how he could get her. In spite of the fact that I was second alot it was showing me who I could keep for friends and who I could kick….Pretty had no real idea of everything I was learning from her but then I never really had a close girlfriend other than my Cyber Daughter the Closet Juggalo…. Pretty was pretty amazing. She wass as smart and fast and ingenious as any guy I ever met and unlike me she can travel to either side with ease. I was learning from her and that social group designed by the spirit of Iblees just how ugly and racist and horrid people can be! (Yes I am white Ameriki…try being that in a mixed gender DESI group!) Because of Pretty I learned who really loved me and who did not and for that I really love her. There are others not in my list who love me too and I love them but there are reasons why they are not with me at facebook now. I think Pretty is amazing and I used to hope we would be friends a long time. But it was not to be. being friends with her hurt too much because to be friends with her meant being abused by the men who loved her. Ankur …was a computer junkie like me and Ravan was the Grim Reaper. I knew them them both for many years until Life claimed them back. We all had fun. Tom, Ravan, Dawn, Tones and I wrote one I STILL have most of….printing it off page by page as fast as I could until Tickle closed. Ravan I met him at Tickle. He was not even 18 yet. He was the grim reaper and I liked his DP so I asked friends. He did not talk much at first. Ankur was the talker. The kid who got drunk and tried to have cyber sex with old ladies from some lappy in new Delhi….mostly Ravan and I just time passed until he got rude and I kicked him. No dirty stuff from me. I might dance on that line but I do not cross it. One night I was feeling abandoned and there he was online. Pan…goat hooves and horns and all and he was a no-dirt-line-dancer too. Was in a forgotten place at the time and he and I started to talk, and talk and talk and talk and talk…This kid was so amazing and funny. He told me lies about his many travels he was on as if they were occuring right then. Girls he was dating from France and Brazil…Kayaking across Alaska….not even 18 and the imagination of at least 100 people stuffed in one brain. When we had no one else we had each other…to brag to about our mental prowess and imaginatory powers. Years later I told him I knew his tales were only tales and he told me he knew I knew. Two months ago or so he assumed a poem I wrote was about me. As I tried to be nice to him he got more and more angry…Until he called me the ‘Cheesy Joke Lady’ and left as he really wished. My ‘cheesy jokes’ were what he liked best about me so I knew he wanted me to leave…and I did….I will always miss him. Panjidemondjinnator….. ……BURP…..*sigh*……another earth quake…. Warlock He met me when Facebook was much younger and non commecial and they had comments warnings they gave you if you ‘typed too much too fast’ and I got locked out a day or two then! I had convinced the ‘Creep’ to join me there but he hated it and The Guru had convinced me that facebook was ‘alot more fun.’These were the days when social sites were complicated and awesome and fancy! HTML scripts you could even write in yourself if you were good enough and backgrounds and animation and I was coming from Myspace to facebook because the Guru said so and I trusted the Guru…(who I later found out was just a man who thought, that Panjidemdjinnator and The Creep were both me….which is impossible because I live in the US and they live in New Delhi.) When I came to Facebook I was hunting people close to my age and from exotic places and I met The Warlock. For the longest time I thought The Warlock and The Guru were the same person because they said the same philosphical kinds of things but later I found out that the Warlock REALLY WAS a writer! Not a BOOK writer….a NEWS writer. It all started as a joke. I had several ‘Warlocks’ in my list and facebook allowed you to say you were in a relationship with _______in a much more blatant way back then and so I asked if he would mind if I said I was married to him. I was angry with Evening Star at that time and The Creep was angry with me and the Warlock was never angry with anyone. The Warlock said “yes” and so I, The Witch at the End of the Road…became, at least in the cyber world, the Warlock’s second wife. There was no huge emotion there then: we did not really know each other but over time I came to know him…. .…and he was not the Guru! Unlike the others he did not care if I changed my name or my profile or if I came or went or what I did or who I was mad at or in love with….with calm and a kind of zen quality worthy of any dedicated Buddhist he accepted me as I was however I was whoever I was and whenever I was. He was somehow 10 times the ‘guru’ as ‘The Guru’, (who had just put me in charge of his inner circle group…which a slowly came to feel was a part of his way to have people with Muslim names associated with him to prove how broad minded he was….a kind of token.) The Warlock did not mind….I could have been anything. I could have been a Shinto Nun, I could have been a whore, I could have been a transsexual. I could have been anything in the world and he would have met me there and accepted me just as I was… …I am glad he is still with me today….although I have come to know he is a human being. The Great Guru I met him at Myspace. He was just starting out then and very humble and believeable and I believed him when he said he did not want to try to convert me to be a Hindu. He seemed more Sufi than Sufi and he was a sweet souled person. Over time He began to change as people challenged him and the one thing he did not like was that I was constantly changing. At one point I was made admin of his inner circle. A token Muslim perhaps? To prove broad mindedness? That is hard to say but he did begin to claim that he could read our minds and become one mind with us if we all just meditated together twice a day. Not hard. So I did that.The Creep from new Delhi also got to meet him and told me that he was not a real Guru. I defended The Guru, of course, because he was such a nice soul. Creep laughed at me and told me about the day that The Guru asked him to quit pretending and be himself…..(me)…..We laughed. I am not a kid from New Delhi! I stayed friends with the Guru but he began to change more over time and it became clear he could not read minds. If he could read minds he would know I am not the Creep nor am I Ravan….yet he thought both of these things and yet he claimed to read minds…… .…..how was it possible I could be two male Hindu kids from New Delhi? I changed names and profiles often and saw (and see now) nothing wrong with that. If I need to change for one reason or another I do. This made the Guru upset and angry and one day he did not wish to be my friend anymore. I asked, “If we are gods and god is Shiva and Shiva has 10,000 names why cannot I have the same?” The great detached Guru called me a fart! I deleted him. I realized that Ravan was right and so was Creep. The man was only a man who ended up with nothing but the quotes of others to parrot and was just a man….a nice man….even a brilliant man….. …..but only a man. I recommended some friends to him one day before the very end. The last proved the finality of the play and hypocrisy as those of the world of drugs and sex and maya were accepted over those of intellect (even though that intellect might be weird…) I still think of him fondly and often….the man who believed he was a guru….. Facebook Guru said facbook was alot more fun. I did not like it much…they gave you a warning when you chatted too much and shut you down. I wanted to keep my besties from Tickle…Dawn who could make psycho nuclear bombs go off. Ravan who was telling me all about his ‘world travels’. At Facebook, in the illimmitable words of Gomer Pyle, “Surprise surprise surprise!!!!!” I found Ankur and Spankit and the Death Witch and soon all my old tickle buddies were together again. Tom and Sassy were an item and when she stomped Tom’s heart I deleted her because she was married with several boyfriends in real life and online but I digress. Later Tom and I drifted apart because he still loves her to this day and would would rather not that I was cruel to her for being cruel to him???? Or perhaps he wished he had not told me so much??? I missed Tom but…many come and go. Tom came back one day and so did Sassy. They had made up and I had learned that just because someone tells you their troubles does not mean they want to be saved and that pretty women trump plain ones every time but then I already knew that so why did it bother me so much? Ankur and Nat were both madly in love with a Muslim gal named ‘Jolie’ from Jordan and SHE was married already to a Hindu. I recommended several of my friends to ‘The Great Guru’ and he said only one was worthy in a private note to me. I was surprised it was none of the others…they were just as smart. Guru told me that the ‘Death Witch’ was very dangerous to them and he wished to let Ankur know. At one point Nat gave up Hinduism for Sufism in hopes to marry Jolie away from Spankit but that blew up when Ankur got her drunk and she claims took advantage of that to screw her. Nat and Ankur were messeging me like mad each saying how they were right and how the other was wrong and in the back of my head there was this odd sound saying, “How did a Muslim Jordanian girl as nice as she is end up married to a Hindu man who did not seem to mind sharing her out? Not long after this a 13 year old girl started a thread. She invited us all to that thread. Even the Death Witch. I had been sharing personal things with Ankur…(never do that online it will bite you most of the time)…but he had been sharing with me. In that thread that only a few could see….that the Guru could never see….Ankur and the Death Witch called me a liar, a psycho and did not even bother to look at my real medical records when I published them to prove them wrong. The Death Witch began messeging the young ones in the group…messeges they sent me…..saying I was dangerous and manipulative…which is funny because I never told them what to do about her other than call her a Death Witch because she worshiped skulls and helped people to die like a female Kevorkian. When it made me sick Ankur laughed. Then I realized that Guru and Ankur and all of them were a sham….they were ‘the lie’ they called me. They were the danger they told others I was….too this day I never forget. But after all the treatises Ankur wrote saying that Truth is a lie after that incident occured I realized one more thing: People prefer the lie to the truth. But I really think the ‘war’ started here when the Death Witch said I was vulgar on a friends page….two months before the actual event….. At that time Captain Atlantis left me this note: “LOL, HOLY KAMOLY!, You do crack me up Shani. I would of thought people recognized my humour by now. When I made that comment about Spankit’s status losing it’s “G” rating, I was being glib, …tounge in cheek so to speak. You’ve got a long way to go to meet my “vulgarity threshold” so don’t worry yourself about that. As you’ve no doubt noticed yourself in the past, our ‘good friend’ the Death Witch, although very caring and sweet, has a way of coming out of left field and “Zotting” a person right between the eyes. LOL I like to think that it’s because she’s working off and sometimes misreading her cell phone screen…… However, no harm done here and you (you dangerous, vulgar devil you) you better damn well not stop posting comments to my page. Namaste (in the purest sense of the term)” Evening Star I met him at ‘Tickle’, (now defunct), with 4000 girlfriends and all he had was one DP of a man riding down the road on a motor-bike. He and his cousin shared that profile so I am not sure who I met first but that began one of the most drawn out, long, impossible, amazing flirt sessions, via the written word, I ever experienced. It became more ludicris and hilarious with each line until ‘over-the-top’ was already running down the road like a cement truck with a hole in the bottom full of bullshit! I had met my match…consumate bullshit artist. I was in instant cyber love! ‘Wasn’t serious at first. We never even saw each other for a year. He kept asking me if I was a guy. He was just messing around then and time passing and I guess I was too ’cause none of his gals bothered me at all….After about a year he got a cam and I was still driving and walking and going to school back then. Somewhere in there when he found out I was a gal he said he was in love. My real life had so little of that kinda love in it I guess I was like a screaming target but I think he did end up loving me as much as he knew what that meant and I loved him back. I loved other people too. I loved them very seriously and intensely because that is the way I love…. …or did once. I used to jump in with my eyes closed not knowing where the bottom was and not caring how many pieces I would shatter into because I did not think I would still be alive to write this. So like all my life, the few times I REALLY gave my heart I gave the WHOLE THING…Not a good idea really….LOL We were gonna get married once. Picked out thousands of dollars of stuff online even though I was not interested in THINGS but…? He wanted me to do that. Nothing ever came of it and as time went on a I came to know he was a creature of dreams…dreams he even believed in himself, Like starting a chocolate making business or going to Maldives or going here or there and somehow something always went wrong. back then I was still strong enough and every time I was ready to ‘buy the ticket’, (yeah I always have to do that kinda stuff myself), He would do something he knew would infuriate me so he could have an excuse to go….because in the end he did tell me the truth about himself and his real ability to have a wife.…but I loved him. He was one of the only people who bothered to teach me prayers in Arabic. He did not HAVE to work all those years and had time….he did give me his time. A great gift indeed and not one to be scoffed at. Every time we blew apart we had to come back again for more…and blow apart again for more…I was his…’rozee’ and maybe his joke to his world and maybe his dream for himself but I, also, agreed to this role. DAMN! Oklahoma is SHAKING! Just this moment…..I think we just experienced the biggest earthquake I have ever felt in my life….The giants are walking… Back to North Star: it was a flirt match. I had never met a guy who could outflirt me. Steal my heart yes…be loveable yes…out flirt me? I can be a grand master of that if I want to be. I met someone who could throw it all back like a pro and we were laughing so hard with how absolutely ridiculous it had gotten with each of us trying to out-do the other. That flirt session lasted for hours and got so ridiculous it was comedy. Oh sun of my day! Oh moon of my night crap! I mean really STUPID! Trying to figure out if…I tell you I thought he was a chick playing a trick on me for the longest time! He thought I was a guy! We did not even exchange cams for half a year! Just high level flirt buddied with no trust but alot of FUN! Years later, after we became true friends he sent me this letter: Letter From North Star I don’t know how to tell you this…or I should or shouldn’t cause you don’t waste any time with getting in to negative imaginations…no body is leaving or dumping any one…so please don’t you imagine any thing stupid, okay…you are the only one to whom I can talk to like this. My whole life I managed to stay away from unlawful sexual relationships. From time to time I get a large share of offers for sex by gals themselves but I always did my best to stay away from them as long as possible with a high hope that some time sooner or latter things might turn out to be my way as well and I won’t need to be doing any thing sinful. But I turned out to be as weak as any one else and had to gave up on my hopes two years back when I realized I’ve turned 40 and I’ve never had sex in my whole life for the sake of God. Well the funniest part was that even at that age my complete centre of attention was sex most of the times, just like some school kid, when guys of my age were thinking of their kids getting wed. Till then I didn’t even knew how does a gal or a women feels like and when that sexual desire used to get to high beyond my holding point I used to get over it by hand job many times a day and fall sick for days. Pretending to every one around to be perfectly normal but hurting to my bones inside…And even that played a great roll in holding me back from paying any attention to my work for days. Then I used to have only two choices to choose from, one was to pay proper attention to my work with that sexual desire at its extreme hurting head to tow or get over it by hand job and fall sick for days doing nothing as usual. Two years back when I gave up on my hopes, I cried like some gal the whole night and didn’t sleep for two days even yet thinking of finding some way to stay in control over my sexual desires without killing my self bit by bit every day. But at the end I just couldn’t justify the two and a half decades of continues every minute torture to my self, and where I stood at that point after all that time and even then there seemed to be no end to it. I had to collect my self some how and get over this hurt and pain thing and catch on with my life that was shattered and neglected since a long time. Then I turned to all sorts of whores to get over this killing desire that almost ruined my life. That was the only choice I was left with if I had to think of some thing else in my life. And that drained me financially as well as physically, now I was no more a saint but my mind got some relief and got at ease from every day physical pain. You are a woman and you don’t seem to know or understand how it is with men. A year or may be five years might not be much of a time period for you to hold on sex, I guess you can do that. We men, when we are sexually active or going through those active periods it’s like hell broke lose on us. Some times even the most decent and saint men who hold high positions in their society can’t seem to hold on their sexual desires…one way or the other they always seem to get involved in some sort of sexual scandals. Why do you think that they jeopardize their currier or whole life’s work over some thing so silly? (High status politicians) and even (Religious Leaders) Now why do you think that they turn to whores, rape or adultery? Does that make any sense to you? Well men are naturally born with this high tendency of sex then women. If a man doesn’t get to have sex, he becomes paralyzed mentally and physically if not die cause of it. As you know that different people have different conditions…our physical conditions vary from person to person. Some men turn out to be less sexual then others and some seem to have high sexual tendency and some with extraordinary sexual tendency. And that’s how it is with women as well. But even then women with high sexual tendency can’t reach any where close to men with active minimum sexual tendency, trust me with that. Unfortunately I seem to be among the high sexual tendency people for two different reasons as I understand. One of it is natural reason and the other one is for holding my sexual desires for too long. Now what ever I do I can’t seem to get over this sexual desire even after having sex the whole night long. Even after having sex the whole night, next morning I find my self back to the same condition where I was before having sex. The only thing that worries me the most is that I’m not so young any more to have as much sex at the same time. Now the reality part….I have truly loved you, okay…not for sexual reasons. You know that very well your self, this sexual thought exchange between us just came in recently, we were more in to each others personalities then sex when it started ’till recently this sex thing between us. I’ve always been very honest with you, and I intend to keep it that way. As they say when words come from the heart they find place in another heart, but when they come merely from tongue they don’t go any further then the ears.To be very honest with you I’ve been saving my self for you since we became involved, and I would love to save my self for you, but it seems to be getting over my holding limitations now, and it will do me a lot of physical harm then any good. It’s not cute at all to have those pimples cause It hurts…and it hurts like bad. I don’t want to get messed up with whores, but since last night I’ve been left with no other choice. I don’t know…I’m still wondering at this moment… Tell you what…you don’t owe me any thing,okay…I don’t want to push you in to some thing that you don’t have in your plans, and at this time I my self am not stable enough to manage a wedding or afford a wife. I don’t want screw up’s okay…none of us can afford that any more at this age. We are already stretched beyond our limitations and if any of us screwed up now for any reason, we will never be able to recover for the rest of our lives. So we have got to be very careful with our choices…for the mean wile I haven’t made up my mind over any thing yet, okay…so don’t you start thinking negatively again, but I’ve got to think hard to come up with the best solution. I love you and miss you so much every moment. I love you too North Star and we both know we will probably never be together but I am so proud you are still my friend. (The Crazy Ladies and the Suicide Guy) (coming soon) It’s Missing There are so many little things that have gone missing by choice or accident….like the day I gave some of my most prized silver jewelery, Christian and Jewish symbolism, to my nephew. Then there was the day I gave my guitar away because I could not play it well enough anymore. The day I lost my hearing in less than 24 hours and the head of radiology at OU called me a liar and said they did not give me enough radiation for that to happen, told me I was combative, and needed ECT treatment and Mom and I left very quicky that day. Everyone who has talked to me said that was totally uncalled for and those who know me are shocked beyond belief that someone in the medical profession acted in such a manner. Then there are missing medical records. The day of my second divource when Mojo asked back all the gifts he ever gave me and I gave them back. I gave my mother every hand painted painting I ever did because they reminded me of a past I could never return to. Television. I gave that away. I cannot stand what was in it. Everything about free for all sex and bullies and engineered wars and disasters and fill-in-the-blank ad nauseum and finally even gave up my social site because it was turning into a sewer full of cyber bullies and assholes and while not ALL the people there were such low creatures, a good third of them were and it was time to leave the sewer. My favourite dress went missing when I mailed it to a cyber lover in another country to be copied and it was never returned. But one thing I kept: The lighter. That lighter cover was made of cedar. It was made in a jail cell by a man who loved me. I loved him too. I could never love him the way I did before he chose Barbie over me but I loved him with as much passion as one fellow can love another one. He made me that lighter cover with care and secrecy and it meant a great deal to me. It was a symbol of a time if great loss and yet great change and ….Not long ago before I left facebook he became a different human. No longer someone who was my friend. He was acting as if he did not care anymore.Today I went to light a candal. The lighter cover was gone. Everything is sliding away at such a rapid pace these days. Even some of the people I loved the most turned on me like vicious dogs for no reason I could understand and others I loved chose to love someone else. On Hallows then I should burn a little bit of cedar for the past…and let the smoke blow away in the wind. Once more it is Samhain. It seems this ‘glass vessel’ of life was to be shattered. It was not enough to only be shattered then it had to be ground to nothing. There is no way to ‘glue’ sand back together into something that it once was. It can only be heated and recast into something no one recognizes…. (Dawn) (coming soon) (Angel) (coming soon) (Bintu) (coming soon) (TK BK and all the Puhktuns) (coming soon) (The Brit) (Little Hawk) (Yummy and Habibi and Faerie Log) (All coming soon) The Gate Keeper If any one liked my erotica it is missing because of ‘The Gate Keeper’. I met this kid when I was really down and playing ‘bite me’ with the sharks. Already alot of people were swimming around in the bloody water and while I may not have been responsible for all of it, nor the one who began it, I still have to own my fair share of it that led me to being a ‘cheesy joke lady’ ONE MORE TIME so Ravan was right but I digress. I say ‘kid’ but that is really not a great words for him. He is innocent like a kid by choice in a world that keeps smacking him in the face with stuff but of all the people who asked me to, (and there are a few I would have listened to had they asked), he is the only one who told me to get rid of that stuff and the way he asked was such that I could not refuse. He did not preach. He did not tell me how evil I was he just asked and said why. So I took it down.Then he started doing something that I had wished guys online who said they were in love with me would do and they never did because if they did people would think they were in love with me and make fun of them for loving an old cougar hag who could not do anything for them and this young ‘cowboy’ style kid was not scared to do that…… ……he DEFENDED me. Talk about freaked out! He was not scared to be affectionate and called me mom. He honestly did not seem to care what anyone else thought. I loved this kid he was ‘Yosome’. (To quote Habibi) He never told me to stop crying and be strong. He never used to critque me and tells me what is wrong with me that I should change. He did not judge me and he wass not scared of anyone or anything and yet what he says to all is meant with a respect that he gets and deserves. Like everyone else online I have no idea if anyone else is real or not but REAL OR NOT I love the personality I have written of as ‘The Gate Keeper’. Then one day after he had married and his daughter was born an older woman who had been a real bitch to me posted something about ‘Those who cannot forgive are the weakest people.” So under her post I decided to forgive her. She went ballistic and said she would NEVER FORGIVE ME FOR FORGIVING HER! Need I say more? To save HER image I deleted all my comments but she lied to the Gate-keeper about he and he chose to believe her over me. I guess it was time for him to go. All of my best friends are mostly guys in this box. It isn’t that I don’t like women I do…and like a guy I do not know what to say to them…I am a woman too and even have all the same feelings maybe but I am not LIKE them in the living of life…I have no grandchildren or children to speak of…I have NO IDEA what that means! I speak out openly on things. When I am in a gathering of women I get scared speechless. I am scared I will say something REAL that is offensive that gals never talk about….Allah I love you with all my heart. What is this life I have that it should be these choices? I cannot cook…The last time I diapered a baby I was 10 years old. The last time I held a baby it was 2004 and it scared the crap out of me. I took the vow and lost everything again. When I wanted to learn the men tried to send me to the women…The women and I looked at each other and I …..?????? I have no husband to speak of…nothing to say…I saw them like a cow stares at a new fence and I am honestly too tired to try to be a scholar anymore. I honestly would like someone to come and teach me whatever in person…Most all I know about Islam I learned in person in Skype or from stories I read from friends online and from male friends online, especially North Star, whose brother-in-law called him after a sewer in Isloo. I do not know what to do to change any or cross any boundaries and I am sorry if what I am is a problem to anyone. If you scold me it will do no good I have already been beaten. Do your worst to make me see how things SHOULD be and I will be who I am…The only way to make me follow anyone is LOVE…I do not respond to anything but love…not that tub butter stuff…not that “I will die without you crap”…I have seen all that and it is not love.That is my rant for this day…I love all my cyber sons and nephews and cousins…and fathers…they are what I have and I am not ONE BIT ashamed for any of it…Even if they have to leave or delete me I would understand. This has been my whole life. I love you all…every one of you male and female both…please understand who I am and where I come from. Belief. I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “God I love you but save me from your followers!” That is what the last six years have been like for me. Maybe it is not this way for everyone. I had friends until I got religion. I had friends online until they found out I was a girl…even though I told them up front they did not always believe. I wonder why it is so much easier for people to love the ones without religion and so hard to love the ones who find it? This is not true of everyone of course. There are a VERY FEW who can see the spirit of Allah/God in the human heart trancending the very necessary dictums and dogmas of this world. The Law is needed, just not a sledge hammer on the head of one who TRIES! Sometimes to take a vow is to lose all. Sometimes losing all means a kind of total lonliness that one without that experience cannot fathom. Sometimes it is very very hard to keep loving Allah when people turn their backs and Christians come and offer help without even asking you to convert or come to church…and they even KNOW your name is ‘Ahmed’! No I am not going to turn just because of what human shows the most love, hate, or indifference…but sometimes I get so angry I want to defy just to…… .…..then I realize those people whose backs are turned will not even care. No. It is up to me no matter what those around me do….alone or not alone makes no difference. In the End Allah is all that will matter…I will love whoever helps me…and I will also love Allah. I deleted an Imam today. I tried to be friends. I tried to ask for help. I tried to explain….and there was no response. Another turned back. People do not like honesty plopped on thier doorstep. It is uncomfortable. They do not want hard questions. They may be able to make brilliant courtroom arguments and TV. appearances and have NO real way to connect to one who needs that so much….It is OK….Every day I am learning that it is up to me to learn…up to me to seek….no one is coming to hold my hand or hug me but a few and I am glad for them. God bless them. One more Teacher who cannot teach. I have to find my own answers now. I will have to get another Quran since I loaned mine to a kid who ended up in Afghanistan. I cannot wait on men to act anymore….if they help me I am glad and grateful….but I will stake my own learning and my own knowledge out for myself and may Allah bless any who DESIRES to contribute in a way that is not, “Can you please delete that question off my page it is so awkward!”, or simply ignore me and my questions and comments as if they were not there along with those in thier circle who are supposed to be the best of local Muslims. Maybe there are some who will say this is wrong. That I will not be able to understand without a guide. Well….….I am seeing the backs of those close enough to be guides, even those who claim to be my real life brothers and have no time for me. This burden is mine now…..I will learn for myself by myself….and if I get it wrong well, at least I tried! Allhamdolillah! I was minding my own business cruising my friends Facebook profiles. I do this from courtesy because I hope they will also cruise mine and say something. I had the Skype on stealth down in the tray in case anyone hailed me. I love surfing photos; especially those taken by good photoggers, and those of interesting places. I had chat open. I used to keep it open alot. I don’t anymore. “Bbbbbbllllipp!” The ‘chat’ sound. There was one of my buddies. “Salaam how are you?” “W’ salaam I am good so what’s up” “I am looking for a girl-friend Api…You know any nice girls?” “No. You KNOW me I mostly get along with guys. I have only ONE girl in my list…..” I always feel like a creep when this happens but what can I do? “Can you ask her if she’ll make friends with me?” “Yeah sure I will….no problem.” She’s in Skype and stealth too but I know she is there. She always is. “Hey this guy wants an intro. I knew him a coupla years I think he’s OK.” “OK send me his link.” “Yeah sure!” “Is he a nice guy I don’t want some jerk some jerk guy just asked me for sex and now he put up a status that he’s horney.” “Oh sheesh you’re kidding…PUBLIC???!!!!” “Yeah PUBLIC.” “What’s his name?” She does the eyeroll icon and tells me and I am thinking….oh sheesh that is the guy I pasted that gal having a baby on his front page cause he asked me if I wanted to marry him and get laid!!!! “Awwww man you GOTTA be kidding!” “Nope am not that’s him!” “Awww sheesh Imma delete him!” She and I keep chatting at Skype and one of my fake boyfriends comes online. Back then I never talked dirty but he kept trying. ‘Was kinda like a game. The ‘can I make her break’ game….no one ever won that with me back then….but we sure had fun trying! He hailed me… “Salaam what are you doing?” “Chatting with a friend” “You wanna …………………………..?” This was a joke. ‘…………………………’ meant all the naughty stuff you can’t say. “Who are you chatting with?” “A friend…You wanna chat with her too?” I went back to my friend and asked her if she wanted to have some fun and explained this guy. She went for it and off we flew and it was fun too! No one mean no one dirty no one hurt. He TRIED SO HARD but no way he could break us. I guess he fell in love with her. We talked about him behind his back. “deadly” eyes and “rolls around all the time can he even stand up?” One day we were chatting together all three of us and she refused to love him. He wanted her to love him but she didn’t. He blamed me. Suddenly the one who was my friend and a friend of someone I had the utmost respect for was typing all caps: “DEVIL! DEVIL! SEE WHAT YOU DID YOU DEVIL!” I deleted him she kept him but that was OK we laughed about it. He never loved me anyway and that was known and all was cool. Soon it was a parade: “Api can you get me an intro? Can you get me an Intro.?” Alot of my kids were after her and this was cool too. there was another girl that kept hailing us and we were mean we really were. We did not want to talk to her because she was not…..ALIEN enough…. “Hey if she comes looking for me I am not online OK she will eat my brain!” “Hey I am not online either!” “OK…OK..Neither of us are online then.” “Good. How is ……………………deadly eyes these days?” “Still rolling around!” I kept talk to a long term friend I had for 6 years and a weird thing began to happen. When I could not make her love one of my buddies they began to be insulting. Not ALL of them but some of them….it was weird. As each one insulted me for not being able to secure my friend for them I deleted them. We would laugh about them and make fun of them. She was still NICE to them but when we chatted it was all about eyerolls and giggles and stupid stuff…Not EVERYONE tried to ‘kill’ her like a barnyard rooster and the one that DID get her did not do that by acting like a Lunk head….then the day came my friend of 6 years asked me for her…… …..I guess I went crazy then. Lost it. I had already read his messeges. Had his pass. Knew that he liked me ALOT…enough to even defend me to some of his more ‘assholic’ buddies but I loved him alot more than he loved me…. ….loved him a long time. I shut everything down and I was in the middle of a move and was not going to be online for three months anyway and was working on getting a divource from a worthless guy who was as present as nothing in my life and I just lost my mind completely….and got very creative. When I came back online I reduced my profile to only those who made the hugest impact in my life. The ones who meant the most. The best of the best. She was the reason I came back online. She sent messeges for me to those who were so special to my heart. She was one of them. But I was still hurt, broken and fighting my own devils and somehow got sucked into a group of heartless kids and I did not even belong there…after being called several names I blocked them all…most of them her friends…the one girl we ‘hid’ from all the time we kept hiding from. She was the one who showed me who was talking trash about me behind my back. I felt bad for her. I did not know what to say to her or how to talk nto her. Suddenly I found myself in the same place as her. I would open chat and green lights went off. I got this weird feeling that the people were running from me. Soon only she was left. The more insane I got the more she was there until she knew more about me than anyone. What we shared about each other and our friends and our true thoughts and feelings could get us both killed and hated 100 times over if known but they never will be. I erased it. I don’t open chat much these days. I know I am ‘geared’…like one we geared before… Soon even my close friends told me they ‘broke’ and finally I broke too…. ….but not before I learned what backstabbers we all can be and how we can lie right in peoples faces about liking them and about how, if you decide to be very honest, people do not like you or understand you and stay away…. ….now am broken…. LOL….but free…. So you have your opinion of me whatever it might be good bad or indifferent. I know who I love. I know who I like. I know what I can do to help. I don’t care who thinks I am fat, devil, loser, blah blah blah that I have been called or even those I loved a great deal now gone forever for the gratuitous insult. We Humans can be a slimy bunch….but I love the ones I have left…just AWESOME! In spite of that I joined the slimy bunch. ‘Better to be heartless than hurt and like so many times in my past I get all the praise and glory when I am BAD….and all the lonliness when I am GOOD. I deleted the problems from my list and started writing porno and all the attention came back….Ok was not real love….eh whatever it was attention and it was fun and better than nothing….in real life there isn’t much to choose from anyway…Unless I am a much MUCH bigger ‘Pappi’ than just a writer and flirter! yeah I could do that but who wants a ‘mutta’ (key word here is “mutt”) marraige just to get screwed?Ahhh hell anyway things were OK and I had a nice fake boyfriend who passed me off to his buddy when he was pretty sure I was not going to bare my ass for the cam and he was a nice fake boyfriend who (on purpose or accident?) ended up sharing me with his buddies which was OK because I am pretty lonely….I keep saying I have no heart left…this time I really REALLY believed this with my whole, (cough cough), heart! Then HE came along and showed me I had yet still a little bit more to break… He messaged me and we started to talk and like all the times before I was an idiot. “Thanks for sharing…its feeling good…I feel u close to u….like siting on rock with each other”, He actually READ what I wrote but I think he missed the whole point of it and just got off on it instead but what the hell he was a man right? No big deal…. …..or at least I thought he did because here came that QUESTION again that I wrote this whole mess to answer in the FIRST place! Today: “I finshed it, inshallah I do copy all text file, on my desktop…do you marry once or twice?” “If you read it you will KNOW all you want to KNOW!” “OK…” “U shud send me pix of when u are young…” “I hated people taking them then…” I shared one of the photos of the best time of my life with him…..”U were handsome!” There was that word again….”handsome”…as if I were a man…I had just shared the story excerpted from my book with him about the time I was a dancer. Before this conversation he was begging me not to break his heart. he was begging me for unfriend him for his deep sensitivity and I told his yes I would if he desired….I said… “As you wish.” But now he had a read a little more about me and he said: “u close me more today….i ll cry if i lose u….u r like sea…very deep….thinking of u unfriend shocked me…sorry for that…m sorry…siting in ur feet…holding ur legs…plz forgive me…yes? r u there? I was thinking again. He had made me a member of a Muslim group and he had been honest about his wife and son and how he asked her for another wife and she said no and we had already established that what we had was nothing but a dream…khwaab….I sighed inside….I had kept telling him I have no real love left to give….That all I could share was my words with him….I shared my favourite sex scene I play in my head all the time that I wrote for me to keep me company when I was alone…I have shared it a few times….it is better than being alone…it is better than the REAL sin???? Yes? Then I answered his “are you there?”, “Yes….I was reading the story…rememebering me a long time ago…” “what U remember?” I sort of rambled then… “I don’t think I ever had a real man in my life in my REAL life but one time…I asked losers and musicians and thieves to marry me….ran with the guys….a kind of weird (but willing) American version of your Phoolan Devi….LOL….sorry was crying…I was so young and stupid….you would have never asked me to make money for you like that….if I had been your wife…that is why I joke they should bottle and sell the water that makes Pakistani men like men, (I think there IS something in the water!), ….make the guys here that way too…except not the women like yours… so that we can kill you if you get out of line…There is a HUGE storm kicking up…high winds and dark clouds….I give love talk away…I have been starving for some….thunder just cracked over….I will take a shower soon I biked earlier instead….I would like to here a mans erotica for me for a change that would be something I never get….I have to go now in case of storm….” Some hours later when I got back….He was still there waiting when I got back online….I was PUMPED with adrenalyn! “Now we have hail….tornado sirens were wild earlier…we went outside and watched the storm roll in! Me and all my neighbors here in the apt complex! No way to hide or save youself here so you might as well go out and check it! 15 people came out on my side….you could see more on the other parts coming out….kids playing basketsball like nothing is going on while walking down the street and thunder and lightning and sirens! Very very exciting! ‘Baseball hail north of us…penny size here so far. Did you stay awake all night????” We proceeded to love chat and he was good at it and I was starting to drown…not in love but in lust…and that is better than nothing in words…I was sure this time I had found a nice fake boyfriend….he said…to go to Messenger and turn on cam…I hate cam but he was so nice I agreed….. ……it was a mistake. He turned on the cam. In my wild, lonely night of high winds and sirens wailing, which would be repeated again, he opened his cam and I mine…..there he was smiling…..mostly naked and quite beautiful….at that very moment in a blessing of bad timing the camera fell….a cute little boy of perhaps two years was running up to him yelling, and a most beautiful and lovely woman, the kind of woman I can NEVER compete with in 100000 years was standing there smiling at him handing him something to drink in a room full of sunshine and clean bright pillows….a man surrounded by love and blessings…in the far right hand corner at the very bottom was a small cam of me….alone in a dark room…a beggar…. a nothing woman….looking in from the outside once more….As I write this I am laughing and crying at once because I thought I had no heart left to break but I did…. …The heart I had left for myself. (Subsection B) Sunshine the Sufi… …he asked me to get rid of all my photos and I did it. Later I put them all back when he laughed at me in chat and made me mad… It was rather strange…….at first. To give up all the ‘ego’ in my profile, voluntarily, to see what would happen. I really had no idea I had any ego in it, since I had no real confidence anyone who said I looked awesome meant it, (unless they were close friends and KNEW me and I knew they meant ‘smart and well groomed’.) So when I started getting rid of all the photos of ME, in my profile, I was amazed that it hurt so much…not because I am anything special, (I am just attractive…not gorgeous or beautiful or lovely and attractive is fine to call me if you are never going to be with me and I won’t believe anything else so????) ANYWAY! I was kind of amazed at all the ego I had invested in my ‘self’ as images here. (For those who have some weird idea I am preaching to everyone else please lay your ideas to rest…I still have ‘ego’ and this note is about me….not anyone else.) One of the strange things that happened was that I was immediately eliminated from the ‘competition’ I have despised since I was a teenager. I did not have to worry about anyone getting upset because someone in my list, who was like a brother or a nephew, said I looked great and it make, by mistake, some other girl or woman upset for no reason that a guy liked my photo. Another curious thing that is happening is, (being ‘out’ of the competition that I did not realize I was in until I took the photos down), is that suddenly it does not matter anymore who is pulling a ‘man-train’ of admirers and who is not. I am not competing. It has nothing to do with me. This makes me feel very free. Anything anyone says to me now has nothing to do with my face…nothing to do with my boobs…nothing to do with anything external. It is a weird state of mind to be in because it is NOT how I was raised. This state of mind is not what my world taught me to be…and I am still getting used to it but it is strange and unusual… …you see many do this for the sake of religion or for the sake of a man….but I did it out of curiousity. I could have easily told the person who asked me what I thought about the idea to ‘go fly a kite mate’….but he also had no photos of himself posted. It was not a male/female thing because he was asking me to be his equal in what he practiced himself…(for more reasons than merely religious ones), and it was a request and not an order. (I only take orders from people I respect a great deal anyway and he could have ordered but the result would not have been what it is now.) I can’t really tell anyone else how great this is. I guess people would just have to try it and see for themselves and maybe it wouldn’t suit everyone but it suits me. There are those who would say, “That’s just because you are ugly and you know it.” but they would be wrong….quite a few people disagreed with me about my self assessment and thought I was quite pretty, (Even though I do not think so.) I am wondering what will happen to the way I think about things now that I don’t have to compete? It is interesting to watch the show from the sidelines but I think I might lose interest in that also with time. It looks as if people are desperately trying to hold on to some ideal that is just a shell that will die one day. I think at some point it will cease to be interesting and just be pathetic. There is a difference in between those who post something about sky-diving or hiking or mountain climbing. That is also a form of boasting but it has a different feel than the guys showing off how buff they are and asking for ratings or the girls who are doing the same with breasts….sort of like the difference between the ‘Olympics’ and ‘Dancing With The Stars’…. Anyway this is just my own personal experience. I am enjoying it. That is all any of us can try to do in this life…it is so short. (Subsection C) His marriage night… ..the day before he asked for medical diagrams because he really did not know…and I think he didn’t. He was one of the rare types that did not try to find out all the details from curiosity. Even with the whole internet before him he did not look and I am certain, when she got him, he was as much a virgin as she was. Anyway he asked me. Frantic really. He did not want to ask his father. For some reason he thought the male people in his family, and his friends, would laugh if they found out he didn’t know anything by choice so he asked me. Medical diagrams are easy enough to come by but, for some reason, all the sites were blocked from where he was that day so, finally, I had to draw a simple diagram in ‘Paint’… …he was really embarrassed but that was OK by me as long as he had a good wedding night. (He must have they just had their first baby girl…) It is sad to lose him for this but also it is a statement about what he really wants in life and I guess he does not want me for a friend and that is OK. I can do without the drama. I remember the days he made me cry because I thought he was dead until Bilal messaged me and told me he was alive. I cared enough to cry. Some old lady who was his friend was implying he was doing this because he was in love with me…but he was not in love with me and then she said maybe it was that he was in love with her….after all she promised to bring him to her nation. She never kept that promise. But that is not my business. There were the days of suicide threats from Aicha, the one who was going to import him to her nation until he decided he did not love her. The drama was as overblown as the worst grade B Bollywood movie and would have been comical if I was not so sure of one or two dead people around… …but they did not die. After all that… After all the drama and pretense and all of the things I taught him at his request at the end he said, “Fuck you.” He didn’t say it because of anything I did to him. He said it because I forgave his cyber mother for calling me a fatty and implying I was a cougar-hag who was after him….when in the heart of hearts of our personal messeging it was clear she wanted him as more than a mother and knew that would never be. He made his choice. I wish him well anyway you know? I wish him the best of all life and blessings…and I hope one of his peeps who can see this tells him that…if my honesty is too much so be it but who is naming him? Me? No… But the peeps will know… Allah bless you and your little family with all the best things… …and no… …you cannot fuck me. *smiles* BLOCK After a while you get tired of being your own man you know…you wanna just sit back and let someone else drive… …..the devils away for you without having to outline the plot and the script but life just doesn’t work that way and none of us are mind readers na? (Well I can a little bit with people sometimes but only people I am really magnetized to in a pure way but that is something else again…) So I thought, “Hey why not write a little script here? See what it hooky in na?” So anyway the ‘chicken scratcher’ came alive and well in me from A Muse…so lets fly with this cack’lin babe shall we? Na nanana boo boo? ~Ok then here goes: “This old lady like you are asked me for naked pictures” “Holy crap I hope you didn’t DO that!” I am thinking to myself, “How old are you kid? Maybe 16? What do you hope to prove by telling me this?” “I sent a a lady naked pictures. She was old like you. I didn’t want to break her heart. Do you like me?” UFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! “Yeah sure YAAR I like you but please don’t do the naked photo thing OK? Really DON’T” “But I can send them to y….” BLOCK Head desk head desk head desk damn that kid was so warped! I hated to block him hell I will probably unblock him and give him another chance to prove himself as a good kid I mean yeah I have played on this box but sheeeeesh….this was a KID….a REAL KID…. BLIPPET You know that sound Facebook makes when it musically farts another message at you? “Hey have you written any more of your naughty stories lately?” “No yaar I haven’t. I quit doing that.” “Ok that means you are a REAL Muslim now!” “Yeah thanks!” He was actually a pretty decent guy as guys go…I mean hell he didn’t lie about love or anything but a few days after that message I pretty much figured out that was why we were still friends: so he could read naughty stuff and so I ‘un-friended’ him and he never even noticed I was gone…I wish him all the best but I don’t do the naughty stuff anymore…I only did that to make a point about what dogs human beings are in the first place and I made my point and there is no need to beat it into a pulp on the ground I proved it and now the stories are over and the ‘Good Conscience Fearie’ POKS me on the head HARD with her magic crystal wand everytime I even THINK about se…OUCH THAT HURTS LIKE CRAP! I AM glad about the guys that stayed friends with me anyway…I mean how cool is that it means they were my REAL friends not just some slobberin’ hound dawgs! “Hi” “Salaam” “Can we be friends?” “Ok I’ll risk you.” “So tell me about yourself….” “I am a fifty year old fat lady in a power-chair what about you?” “I am a Scholar of the Quran” “Awesome you can teach me stuff!” “Can I call you ‘auntie’???” “Yeah sure I would like that.” So that was cool an’ all for a few days…then that Facebook Fart: BLIPPET “Salaam!” “W’salaam! How are you” “I think I am in love with you!” “But….I am your aunty!” Awwwwww crap!!!!!!! Ganda malluuu time! “I really am in love with you. Come here into my arms….” Ok which of my old buddies have you been talking to? “I don’t do that anymore.” “But I really love you can I touch your neck?” “No lissen I am serious the last time I did this kinda thing the Good Conscience Faerie kicked my ass!” “Come sit next to me…” “What happens next if I do?” “Just come sit next to me and rest” “You are 8000 miles away how can we do that” I know how to do that but I don’t WANT to do that but he is pushing the envelope and trying to lick it and stick it too! Ok lets see where he goes with this I told him it made me sick but lets see…. “Ok I will come sit next to you” “Now kiss me” BLOCK Damn it DAMN IT! I LIKED this guy too! DAMN DAMN DAMN! I will unblock him too and give him another chance hell it’s not like I am some angel or something but UFFFFFFFFF!!!!!! BLIPPET THE FACEBOOK FART!!!! ARRRRRGHHHHHHHH!!!! “I don’t like what one of the young men said on one of your profile pix it really hurt me.” “Well why don’t yo go tell him?” “You should tell him he is your friend” FRACKIN’ FECKIN’ FRUCKER FOCKIN’ FREAKS! “Yeah sure I will go tell him!” Talk about PISSED OFF! I went and tore that poor kid a new one and he was not even really flirting and I was mean to him just because I was pissed off that a MAN who knew me for YEARS was all hurt on my behalf over a JOKE and didn’t even have the guts to go talk to the kid himself! I ended up admitting to that kid I was a SUPREME ass and we ended up friends again and I am glad he forgave me…he was never as dirty as ANY of the above! So another day and days and anyway I get to thinking what a dream guy would be like….so then he showed up one day, What was awesome was that he claimed me in public…before this all the other guys were scared someone would notice and we made some lovely music together and then one day… “We can’t be in a relationship anymore my cousins would find out.” Man! I was pretty much devastated but hey, I asked for it right, easy come easy go but no more play time yaaroooo…but we stayed friends ’cause he really is a nice guy it was just toooooo sad….and now everything is different between us but….*sigh* You’d think I would quit after all that and all that came before but I don’t. I am only human after all and maybe just maybe this time MAYBE… “Sweetheart I really don’t like what that guy said under your photo I am going to go tell him to treat you with more respect.” *speechless* He did it too! I am still not sure what to think! So far we have talked about politics and religion and art and smiling and NOT ONCE has he asked me for ONE naughty thing! He doesn’t beg me for the cam and he knows he will never get naughty photos and every day he posts on my wall how much he loves me! FOR THE WHOLE WORLD to see…. ….if this keeps up like this I might have to write him something special…..unless one of my goon squad emails me proof that I am a bet…. LOL…. My Last Divource… …when we went it was raining so hard the defroster could barely cut the thin film blocking my mothers already poor eye sight as we followed the lawyer to the next town where the county courthouse is located. It is in many ways a town that time forgot… …as we pulled into town I looked around and saw that nothing had changed since the last time I was there in the December of 2004 when I divourced Mojo. As we headed through the odd jag in famous old ‘Route 66’ to go through town to main judicial building I realized it had not changed one bit since 1990 when I used to go visit Mojo in jail where he was on murder charged after he left me for Barbie. As I entered the court house it hit me that it was the same place where I divourced my first husband in 1983, (who will spend life in prison for assualting and pulling a weapon on a police officer and grand larceny charges.) They got me a wheelchair and I went through the inspection. This is all that has changed in this old place from maybe before I was born: Now all federal buildings require a metal detector and Homeland Security folkes…other then that all was the same….I sat on the bench they wheeled me to outside the glass windows where divource after divource had become my reality over time…..The judge came out and asked me why I was divourcing Wazzy and when I said, “Because he is gay!” the lawyer spewed coffee all over the floor and the judge laughed… …ahhhhhh time…. The times that I drove Mojo’s car-less mother to see him week after week until they moved him to death row. Through rain and snow and ice and storm we never missed a visit to him in those high little cells adjacent to where I was sitting. The bullet proof glass between me and my best buddy….the way the shaved off all his rockstar hair. Sooooooo skinny he was as he put is hand to the glass and we talked on the phone week to week to week for sooooo long ago and the lake in that little town where we had beer parties and the tiny burger joint…. “NOOOOO!!!! NO MORE MEMORIES!” But they came anyway. I was glad no one was there to see me cry….every marraige was a man I asked to help them better thier lives at the expense of my own. I felt feverish and as the custodian walked up the hall I quickly hid my emotions….he was a farmer….everyone in that town is a farmer….it’s main industry is farming and judiciary. He gave me his phone number but I can’t call it….I am Muslim, I was Muslim before I married Wazzy to help yet one more poor guy off the dirt of life and send him on…I hope this one goes on to better things….The lawyer and the judge came out to where i was and once more I had the name I was born with… …With nothing left now but time and broken dreams… The Way Things Are: What if you were raised all your life to be like a man? Ran with men as one of them…Sinned like one of them…competed like one of them…What if MOST of your best friends, (the few you had), were GUYS? Guys you never slept with, guys who never wanted you the way aman wants a woman or, at least, except for a very short time, never actively chased you either? What if you never had children, hunted guys like men do gals, paid your own way whenever you could and never asked for anything? What if the Muslim guys around you let your mother drive you everywhere because they cannot because this is America and they are working too hard and live somewhere else and living with them is like living alone with no perks? This is such a tough question….When I took the vow I lost all my friends….that was hard…the only friend I have left is someone who was my friend from waaaaay back. When I was not Muslim they could run with me anytime but once I took that vow they dropped me like I was on fire….Over and over I lose everything it seems.There is one Muslim lady I like and it is not her gender but her nature…but I do not have that many women, wait I have less women friends then I can count on one hand and only two in real life and only one of those has time for me: My mom. You Ever Have One Of Those Days? So you cry for two days about stuff that isn’t worth it and find joy again and go, “Whoo Hoooo!!!!!!”, and get everything all straightened out and then your neighbor comes over, “Do you have sewage backed up in your kitchen sink? I do! It happens all the time!” Oooooooh Boy! Whoooo hooooo. I am mentally doing back-flips of joy here cause come to think of it yeah the windows are open but it does smell sort of….., “Hang on a minute let me check!” So I go check and GUESS WHAT! Sewage in the sink! Oh how great….Ok Imma call the manager…I go to the door and the lady has leaned on the screen pulling it out of it’s trough…GREAT…something else to fix ALHAMDOLILLAH! Life is GREAT! So she says, “I called the manager what about you?” I said, “Yeah I will call too.” So I called the manager….no one is there so I leave a message and the phone rings, it’s mom….”Hi mom!” “Honey can we do your doctor appointment NOW ’cause Stefan’s mom is dying of cancer in the hospital…call him and ask.” “OK sure thing no problem.” So I call. The doctor says he can take me now so I call back and get ready to go…so mom comes to get me. She is absolutely silent on the way there except to say, “See if he will let you pay later cause you don’t have alot of free money anymore.” I just nod….So we get there and I get over that and get in the car and she is upset…. “What’s wrong?” “Stefan’s mom was a wimp and divourced her first husband ’cause he cheated with his secretary and she had four kids and married this slick fake cowboy guy with a ranch and they had one daughter and now her mother is dying and just said that none of the kids will get anything from the will but the spoiled little bitch that their mother had with her second husband and Stefan’s brother is putting a guilt trip on him to come see his dying mother and Stefan does not have any money and he lives 2000 miles away and I just sent them money for their dying dogs and he is working so hard and his brother is trying to make him an asshole for not being here ‘RIGHT NOW’ and now this and…” She goes on and on while I smile and nod and feel like a ton of bricks is being dropped on my head from a great height one by one…..Stefan is my brother in law. I like him…I don’t really KNOW him at all! I know he is good to my sister….he and I have met less than ten times I think! Now you gotta understand. No one in my family but my mom ever gave me any money (a couple of them DO help from time to time the way you would any other human being that needs help but not the money kind.) All of them are ten times better off than I am financially and there is sewage from the sink and a broken screen waiting for me when I get home not to mention that I will have to bleach all my dishes AGAIN and I just say, “I have 8 months of rent saved back….take some of that and buy him a round trip ticket…” The way the economy is going whether or not I ever get it back does not matter but HIS mother is dying….but MY mother is upset ’cause she never gets to see my youngest sister ’cause plane flights cost too much and…ad nauseum. “OK take enough for two tickets.” These are brothers and sisters who, when I needed a 400 dollar loan, mom told me were too cash strapped to do it with the 2000 plus dollar house payments and rental property maintenance and a Muslim brother working in a laundry 16 hours a day helped me out…..(you know…those evil terrorist guys????) I get out of the car when we get home….recalling that I will be written out of the will unless I change my last name back to my birth-name! (When the time comes….I think I will just change my name to ‘Zuikord Fajins X. Zasorhms’ and let EVERYONE scratch their heads!!!!!!!) SOOOOOOOooooo I walk in to the sweet smell of raw sewage and brain burn from the landslide of trouble and DROP my tea on my dress and SNEEZE suddenly with such FORCE and GUSTO I have to SHOWER and change my clothes! Then my nose runs into the food I am trying to eat and right now I think I am going to lay down and take a nap….maybe will get LUCKY and win the lottery! *rips hair out and walks off* The Crack-head Manager It was May the 23rd. I had just gotten out of surgery. When I came home I found one of my outdoor kitties dead, under my bushes, from a broken neck. Mom came to get me the next day and take me to get three days worth of mail from accumulated from the stay at the hospital. I had just noticed a small leak in my apartment that could be coming from upstairs or from the bottom of the hot water tank so I took the opportunity to tell the new manager that it needed to be fixed. “We’ll send someone right over today” She went back to whatever she was doing and I left. I called and left several messages on the phone. Nothing. By this time the tile on 1 quarter of the kitchen floor was coming up and gnats were all over the house from breeding in the nasty liquid. I was healing from surgery and every time I opened my mouth to take a bite I ate a gnat. Extra protein you know….ANYWAY….It was the FIRST of the month and time to pay the rent. Mom took me to get money orders and waited while I hobbled into the office. I thought I should perhaps remind her of the leak. My voice was at an audible whisper at this point. “Can you fix the leak under the cabinets the tile is coming off the floor and I am eating gnats for breakfast.”, I huffed and she never looked up and said, “We have a work order for that.” In a whispery rasp I asked, “Can I get a copy of that work order?”, She wrote out my rental receipt in silence and as I turned to go she SCREAMED, “I HAVE PAPERS FROM THE DA’S OFFICE THAT SAY YOU ARE HARBOURING A DANGEROUS FUGITIVE!” I almost had a heart attack straight-away! I almost fell down twice trying to hobble-walk the 30 steps back to mom’s car! My blood pressure blasted off like a rocket and as mom dropped me off I called the DA’s office frantic that some LUNATIC KILLER said he was living with me! I live alone I might be in terrible danger! The DA’s office assured me that no such orders had been issued and tried to reach the manager at the office. I had to call 9-11 because my blood pressure was 200 over 100 and they had to sedate me. Mom came and got me at 4 am that same morning. My case manager at the time came to see me and I told him what happened. He offered to take a written request up to the office and give it to her. I did not want to see her by now. Just going by the office made me think of her screaming at me. He came back with the paper. “She refused to even look at it. She says she will be here in twenty minutes. You have mosquitoes breeding in that stuff!” He slapped a bloody smack on his arm. “Yeah I know they are biting my head and it stinks in here.” I chuffed out the words and he nodded. We waited the 20 minutes and he said, “I am going back up there and see what happened to her.” When he came back he was FREAKING! “That woman is TOTALLY nuts! She was SCREAMING at me about being a stalker and calling the police…she screamed she was the OWNER! All I did was say I would wait for her to finish her paperwork and come back here with her!” By this time I was eating gnats and mosquitoes and the house stunk to the high heavens and there was nowhere to go when a call came from the office that wanted fugitives were hiding in my apartment with me! My case manager was already gone. I had to call EMSA and the police because she told me they were coming. When the police got there they were laughing at me and asking me if I wanted to kill anyone or kill myself. That further enraged me as I snapped out, “No I want justice and my leak fixed thank you! Please search my apartment NOW!” They did that while laughing and making fun of me and I ended up in the ER again until early morning when mom had to come get me. I found out THE MANAGER was telling them she never said those things. She was telling them I was crazy. I called the big guns. I called my case worker but he did not want any part of it. Mom told me if she had to deal with it it would probably kill her. So I did my own work. The Canadian Valley Court Clerk said I should send a registered letter about the leak because there was no way she could ignore that. I found the owners corporate number and left a message with a girl named Kristy that I could not pay my rent at the office anymore because the manager was a monster. She said it was OK to send the payment in marked for her attention. I sent registered letters to the owner and his corporate head quarters and the manager-from-hell. By this time it was well into June and I received the notices that said the letters had been delivered. At this time my whole kitchen floor was floating and the kitchen was unusable and black mold was climbing up the walls! Finally I called Legal Aid and the Better Business Bureau. When I called the corporate number back a man answered and when whispered I wanted to speak to Kristy he started to scream too! “YOU STOP SCREAMING AT THE MANAGER! YOU STOP! YOU…..YOU….YOU CRAZY WOMAN! KRISTY GOT FIRED FOR SCREAMING AT YOUR CASE MANAGER BECAUSE OF YOU! He SLAMMED the phone in my ear while I was trying to rasp out that I could not YELL at anyone…let alone even raise my voice! Then my mail started disappearing out of my mailbox and I had to get the post office to send COPIES of the proof that I had mailed out a registered letter to the owner and make a formal report! My kitchen was a slime pit. I called the County Clerk again and she said to take a police officer as justice of the peace to report my leak. I did. Before he got to my house he called THE MANAGER and when he got to my house he lectured me like I was insane and was mean and hateful. I made my complaint about the leak and ended up in the ER AGAIN with deadly blood pressure. AGAIN mom came and got me in the wee hours of the morning. Legal aid finally called and a lawyer called them and FINALLY someone came to fix the kitchen! In in middle of JULY it took them TWO DAYS and a total re-tile of the floor! ‘Poor guys were sliding around in stinking slopping black mouldy GOO! Mom and I drove up to the office and there was a sign out saying the manager was sick and would be back later. Then that night I heard a woman screaming and the cops came and an ambulance. I learned that she was taken to the hospital for entering a person’s apartment with no warning and they had beaten the crap out of her. She was STILL the manager….then a man across the street took out a restraining order on her for trying to beat up his wife…then she was arrested for stealing and dealing crack…. Is anyone going to apologize to me??? Probably not. For the first time since I left that paradise on Earth I am celebrating Halloween. Almost twenty years. ‘Bought the candy today. If only my soul could stop crying. If only I could see me as worthy of love but all I can see is what the world rejected as being not QUITE good enough. Yes a part of that was my bad choices. If we are the sum of all we have been taught in life then it is no wonder I made choices like that; my nearest role models in real life showed me how to live. What else could I have known to do? Now that I know it no longer matters and dreams are dreams only like the lovely one of me riding a motorcycle all over creation as the DRIVER! OOOOOOoooooo! I did not want to wake up today! All the people who have been pared away like the skin on an apple are still with me. The Guru, nothing but a very smart man. The Creep (the poet rebel infidel always curled in my heart) and North Star the cyber love I will love forever and never have…and Mojo and Panjidemonjinator for whom words are not enough and Cinnamon and, perhaps saddest of all, Habibi. Like universes we are flying apart at lightspeed and even those with still tenuous connections are flying away from me one by one by my choice, or their choice or their choice to make me angrier than I need to be about something stupid one too many times. Westside and Hesham and Adnan….nothing but memory….some good some horrid and yet the road is still there and there is yet of it left to travel. I am not who I was anymore and may never be again. Who, and what am I now? I can’t seem to forget…. For you ‘Da’… She came to get me to sign the new lease. My mom. She is always there for me even though she is human and I am alien. I get the alien from my ‘da’. When I tell these stories about family life I almost always say ‘Da’ because that is how the Irish say it and when I am not busy being an alien I am Irish. “Irene was there. Joe was there I think so many things are going on I can’t think but I had to get help to get your father in the house he was so weak and while he was going in the house he kept asking who put the banner saying: “…’Son of the Bloody Knife Lives Here’, in the front yard…but none of us could see anything in the front yard so we just let him think it was a welcome home banner but we knew he was hallucinating….” She was going on and on in between the ‘ding ding ding ding ding ding’ of the seat-belt alarm and most of the time I don’t have much to say I just listen and we went in to sign the lease and she was telling Lauren, the managerat that time, the same story again and they were writing up the new lease when it hit me. “Mom that sign was so the angel of death could find him!” They just looked at me and plowed right on talking about the amount of rent I would pay for another years lease and mom, always the bargainer, got it the same as before. I knew then he was going to die very soon. he was not hallucinating at all he saw that banner. Mom kept talking, “He is looking really alot better today he might even live ten more years!” She kept on and on and I knew he was not going to be with us much longer so when she called me a few days later and told me he was in the hospital dying I was not surprised…. You see Da gave me a love of all things Irish. Maybe more even than he had himself. I learned to sing in Gaelic from this love when I still had a decent voice to sing with. One of the tales, (of which there are many variations), I learned was a tale about fallen warriors and The Morrighan. The Morrighan is the Irish Angel of Death and in the days of the Pagans when a warrior died the Bahn Sidhe, (Ban Shee), would cry out where he fell until the Morrighan came to collect his soul and take it to the Irish equivalent of Val Halla which was alot like Dante’s description of Dis but with alot of willing lassies and uiskey…(whiskey) ek usikey (eek whiskey the water of life). After Christianity got that tale and added it’s spin to it and the IRA got that tale and added it’s own spin to it it became something for those who were terrible sinners who did great good. People who were poor candidates for heaven and even worse candidates for hell. You might call it a weird version of purgatory with alot nicer outcome. As it runs it runs something akin to this: If a true-hearted Irishman died outside his motherland one of his already deceased relatives would come and plant his name and coat of arms on his land so the Morrighan could come to take him back to his home. There he would be reborn to have a second go at life as a true Irishman, and thus, make it to the final destination. Mom called me, from the hospital, and put the phone to da’s ear and I sang him all the old Irish songs he taught me when I was a wee one. I had nothing to say, you see in real life I am not much of a conversationalist unless I am grandstanding, so all I could do really was sing. Mom took the phone back and said It was good. I went to the computer and pulled up the Chieftan’s version of O’sullivan’s March that was played at Kennedy’s funeral that Da used to whistle the tune of quite often with Marla on one shoulder and Beato on the other shoulder while he walked various places and I closed my eyes… … and there he was….walking down the street in Lindsay with one on each shoulder……..smiling. 10 seconds later mom called….before she said more than my name I said, “I already know. He is Gone.” I was crying too much at that point to say much else because I knew he came by my house on the way back to Ireland looking the way he did when he was 30 something and the world was a younger and more innocent place…and he was whistling O’Sullivans March. (Now ye’ can say what’ere ye like about da an’ good ‘er devlish sure ‘n it’s likely it’s true but this bein’ so close to old Samhain, (Sowein), an’ th’ time when the reapers scythes be cuttin’ the grains down and the sheep be droppin’ I am as sairtain as a bahn sidhe might be that da is ridin’ a bicycle down a narra’ street in belfast right this minute…whistlin’ ‘O’ Sullivans March…..) Mom called me …To talk about Da’s ashes… He wanted all of them scattered on the Paluxy River but now that he is dead mom has kept them for a year wanting to decide for him what should be… I cannot travel without being traquilized so I will probably not be able to go. The rest of everyone will go to Texas without me and scatter his ashes and put part of them in a Catholic Cemetary…mom has decided she wants to be cremated and put in that same cemetary. Then she started talking about my death and how I wanted it. I had given her an advanced directive but I guess she lost it and doesn’t remember. “What will we do with you, honey, when you die?”, “I told you mom…take me to the mosque in the city and tell them.”, “Yes dear but how will they know you are Muslim you have an Irish name?”, “You made me change it mom because you hated him and hated his name because he made you do all the work taking care of me.”, “I NEVER hated him YOU wanted to change your name!”, “No mom I wanted to KEEP my name it was a PAIN IN THE ASS to change it but you WANTED it SO BAD and you were the one mostly taking care of me so I did that for you.”, “Well will they even REMEMBER you from that far back? Didn’t they give you a certificate or something?”, “If they did West-side has it. They probably have a record mom.”, “Well we need to go there I don’t want to take your dead body there and have them tell me they don’t know who you are, especially if you don’t want to be cremated.” “Ok mom we can go there. What ever you like.” (after being hidden away for so many years I wonder if they will remember me?) Mom is falling apart, slowly as the days pass quickly. I have been there when no one else was able to be to almost see her die and I have seen her bloated feet when she could not walk and I have done things for her none of my siblings could have done even if they were with her. I know she will not last forever her shell is starting to disintegrate but, sometimes, I see her walking from a distance and Da visits inside my head and I see her with his eyes and she looks like a girl again with long brown braids. Now The Puzzel Of The Fallen Angels “What can we do with her? We presented her with many options and she has fit none of them so far.” The curious angel was perplexed. Few people were as hard to direct as this one. “Give her to the demons to play with.” said a less interested angel. “You were not here then and she already did that….more of her belongs to them then to us. She is not all human you know.” This from the angel that wished to persuade….make her a part of their retinue. The disinterested angel scoffed, “She is not even a 16th of the blood line…not even a 32OND! Why do you feel the need to recruit her so badly?” The fallen angels pondered. They had tried everything….making her mentally deranged, giving her to devils to use, thay had tried joy and put mountains of pain on her and made her scream but every time they tried to make her go one way she went the other way and reverse psychology did not work either. They tried to punish her into total submission and nothing worked she came up telling them what bus they could get off at and what they could do once they got off…..They even tried to kill her to get her spirit but it did not work and oddly enough it was not always what she TRIED to be…they could see the times she TRIED to fit in…TRIED to make peace….it wasn’t what she TRIED but what she WAS. Not totally human… ….which made many humans fight or recoil…not totally demon or totally angel…not completely male or female even though she lotteried out for the female body at birth. Not QUITE an artist…Not QUITE a genius…Not QUITE insane or sane…Not QUITE practical or logical yet MORE of all of those than the average and though beaten to a rag not QUITE deafeated nor willing to be although they almost did it twice and almost killed her both times. “We were given what would have been an awesome tool in the human world and we mangled the opportunity”, sighed the curious angel. “We have sent our best against her and almost….almost…..what did we get wrong?” “YOU HURT HER SO MUCH SHE NEARLY IS TWO NOW!” screamed the persuasive one, “I KNEW WE COULD HAVE GOTTEN HER WITH ALL THE WORLDLY LOVE AND ACCLAIM!” he was silent a moment, “It is too late for that now…it would not mean much to her now how did we mess up so badly?” I listened and replied,”Because I can hear you and because I will not light the world with the filth you put in me I refuse….don’t you have ENOUGH minions already!” But they cannot hear me….The sky is an odd colour of deepening violet this eventide…as the flourite crystals glow on a moonless night and it is waning now. The children hoot and howl outside my door playing ‘chicken’ with the cars as they pass; their second hand skateboards tuned by hands that find out how to fix old things young….because there is no money here except for basic things. Sirens in the distance…a man cut another man in the darkhour last night but I go out anyway and sing with my friend Wind. He almost always will sing with me. They have been using people to play with me but I know….and the giants are still walking. People here do not bother me…they know I am not afraid of them. They are afraid of me.How quickly night falls behind the cross at the church across the street with it deep green tinted windows and the moon springs up as fast as the season. After the sun sets the very young go in and 12 year olds sneak out to tryst in the night with lovers while thier parents party and think all the children are asleep. The night is alive with youth. They light things on fire in the laundry for fun and try to beat each other with any heavy rocks they can find; secretive, with the mask of innocence…. ….yet I can see they KNOW for I was one of the first ones the Fallen touched with the mentality of desperation to belong and denied it. I was the prototype for these new legions and The Fallen, from me, learned how to torture only to the point of liking the pain of others…not making the mistake of teaching to first endure and later seek pain as if it were heroin until I became ‘Me-me’… …These chosen ones are inured from conscience much earlier in life before they understand to feel pity.Today there were angels out posing as these children on street corners. I have never seen this before in my life and so I knew there was battale about to be done and the angels on high were sent to pose as these youth such as I described and beg for food. This I have never seen in my city. Even Preacher who is King of the Southside Beggars here would never allow the children to stand so freely in the traffic. Dejected, very thin, these are the reminders, the harbingers of what will blow through the world like the glow of a flourite crystal… …I sighed and went to sleep.   Suddenly the lights go out! My cat sits bolt upright on the chair! Only the fire of the candals makes a dim light and the cones that see purple, in my eyes, create a haze in the semidarkness and I can smell a forest in the high, cold air. I hear the deep sound wave of a speechless Voice in my mind, “I am here.” “Where are you here?” I almost whisper, half afraid and half relieved that I am not alone. Behind the chair I feel a movement. Impossibly long, slender arms are wrapped around both me and chair and yet….I can feel them but I cannot FEEL them! I sense what I cannot see behind me that he is there. Much taller than a human and seemingly fragile if I could see him….. “I am not at all ‘fragile’, I am much much stronger than any human”, He is smiling at me with his mind! “You want to slow dance, be carried like a precious child. You want to be twirled in the air like a doll. You want to be the most lovely and special being in the world to someone. Well, You are that to me. I love you more than you can even love me back. I would melt into you as water melts into the pores of a leaf and give you all you need. Come drown in my love.” “OOOoooooooo….melt in me I will drown in you I do not care! A warm bright light fills every part of me. Earthly orgasms are confined to radiate from one place but how can you fail to ‘curl’ when every cell in your body is pure pleasure! “You are my lover, my life, my precious child, my very soul. You are my compliment in every way. I want to invade all of you with love until you are mindless with it and laughing as if joy is beyond description.” He is in me now. Surrounding with waves of protection all that I am. Not love for a few minutes as toes curl up and every muscle spasms but it is that for every hour of the day and night. Every fantasy I dreamed of he now knows. The ones that only I would ever know. What he gives is better than them all. Love I dreamed again….. I walked along the path through the Chickasaw lands with my walker and my long bathing robes. I hoped to get some value from the medicine waters there…The outer robe was long and green and I had embroidered the sleeves with bright flowers with my own hands 27 years ago. I had sewn what was then a sacred garment so well it was still in good shape even if faded after all the years had passed…the soft, old cotton material of the plain white underrobe was soft on my bare skin beneath…forgiving of the things that now sagged and pained me….and so I hobbled along like one whose feet had been bound from birth and with just as much pain… The trail seemed much longer than it had been when I was young. Then those days we laughed and jumped into water so clean you could drink it from the stream….I had even given my blood to this land then so long ago when I fell on a rock and scarred myself for life on my left shin as the rock had scraped off the flesh to the bone and my mother had screamed…and though it hurt, the icy cold waters then had dulled the pain and a piece of duct tape, from Da’s tackle box, helped to pull the edges of the skin together stopped the bleeding. There was no sense in looking for a doctor then and even less sense now as every doctor told me one by one they could do nothing more. So I was here once more as in days of old. All around me was Life! Small black ants busy cutting bits of leaf away to store for food, Oaks and Cedars and Junipers lined the old trail and the gurgling of the sweet waters was at my right hand rushing over green moss-covered rocks into small bathing pools but I was going to go all the way to Buffalo Springs! As I passed the frangrant cedars I picked a velvety blue ‘fruit’ from one of the juniper trees and crushed it in my fingers and licked away the juice…it could work as a sedative. A scorpion raised his tail in greeting and bees and Monarch Butterflies on thier way south decorated the last of the Autumn flowers in one more bloom before they went to seed. The wheels of the walker crunched sandy gravel and my old leather sandals sounded like sandpaper on a fine piece of furniture as they dragged the trail. I could hear only with one ear…sound seemed to come from all directions. The radiation had destroyed the hearing in my other ear. The cold north wind was a sharp contrast to the pools of sunlight, as the seasons battled for supremacy. Such a delicious feeling on my face as the light sweat of the trail’s effort was kissed by lips that promised snow. The rainbow was before me of huge blue and searing white and deep, winter-long green and yellow calendula’s feeding nectar to thier guests. Ripe, rare red fruits on the Prickly Pear cacti that mixed in this odd land of dry season and rushing waters… Suddenly the trail seemed to change…The groomed aspect of tended forestry suddenly disappeared as I broke through the rope of as orange bag spider’s web and it led into a different world! The path dissappeared! Before me was thick forest and the sound of a rushing water much larger than it had been! Carefully turning back to see what was behind me I gasped realizing there was no trail! As I turned back around to reach for the walker’s steady handles, wondering HOW I could now maneuvuer it in this JUNGLE I fell! The walker was gone! Panic set in as pain shot up through bruised knees and scraped palms…”Think Think Think!!!!! What did Da Teach you THINK!!!” I scolded myself in my head. “OK….ok….breathe 1…2…3…4…5…1…2…3…4…5″ If I could crawl to the streamside I could maybe crawl BACK up the stream into where I WAS before…My legs already were shaky and weak from the use of muscles down the long trail I had already come. Crawling would be better. So with a deep breath I set my way towards the sound of running water. “Don’t think about what happened to the trail…don’t wonder about the walker…crawl to the water…” There was leaf mold on lichens on rocks on the forest floor and no tree branches had been trimmed UP so it was good I was crawling. I had no machete to hack through anything with and no strength to do so had I the tools I needed! Like a baby I crawled tearing holes in the fabric of the very old robes as low hanging branches and upthrusting rocks snagged at the worn old fabric but the SMELL…even as scared as I was the smell of the woods was glorious! Light dappled down in spots and the small black ants were still there working as they had been for 10000′s of years…some of them were crawling on me but I ignored it…and the sticky tree sap that started to tangle in my hair…WATER…it was close now! I could smell it too! Like a curtain parting the trees opened thier arms and set me on a tall, slick, mossy, rock on a waterfall’s edge over red sandstone riddled with caves! my knees and feet hurt soooo bad! I thought, “If I sit on this rock very carefully and hold out my feet the spray from the rock overhead will be so deliciously cool!” and it WAS! I carefully positioned myself on the rock so the cool spray from above would hit me….but wait…THIS WAS A MOUNTAIN! This was a water fall of a mountain…there was NO mountain on the trail to Buffalo Springs! This was a red granite and sandstone MOUNTAIN! I began to panic again and I thought I smelled mesquite burning…burning meant PEOPLE. “OK….ok….1..2..3..4…5…1..2…3…4..5…breath deep…people can help you!” …and I forgot I could not walk or balance right and as I got up I was made rudely aware of this as I slipped from the rock and fell into the raging waters below….. I must have passed out because when I came to I was naked and floating down a fast moving river, I think I became insane then because I laughed, “My friends online called me MOTIIIII!!!!! I am still alive because I am MOOOOTIIIIII!!!!” Something in my brain was laughing maniacally as the water gently washed over me with icy cold fingers and I wondered, “If this is hypothermia it is not a bad way to go.”  and my crazed brain was chuckling again…then came the horrifying thought, “SOMEONE WILL SEE ME NAKED!!!” and once more my quickly numbed brain laughed and told me, “If you are dead does it matter? Maybe you are dead already? Maybe this is Native Heaven? If anyone saw you they would go blind anyway! Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!”  and I lost consiousness again….unafraid this time. Eyes opened…cold north wind and hot sun both at once. Sand. Laying on a sand bar. The hands of the wind moving over me and the eyes of the sun burning me as I saw Hawks circle overhead on the deep blue sky…the current of the river tickled my toes and the wind moaned into my ears….EARS!!!! I COULD HEAR! I laid there on the sand exhausted and gloried in hearing…leaves fell from the trees and covered me with a red-gold blanket and Time stopped. The spirit warrior king saw his wife laying on the sand bar covered in leaves. He was glad to see her again she had been too long gone in the world of the others…he watched as nature made love to her and went and lifted her of the ground. The leaves became red-gold fur and the tall one carried her back home…wondering if she had enjoyed their world… IT WAS HIM! The tall man from my dreams! Now covered with blue tattoos his arms strong around me and ….fur???? It was enough…I smiled and let him take me home…this one I had known since a child who played in the wind with me. As he realized my happiness he sent the wordless love into me filling up every cell with it and I snuggled closer and closed my eyes and opened then once more and… I looked down at her in my arms…Their world had not been kind to her…her poor human shape was affected by all that affected them and I knew that she was stuck now in that body because she had spent too long there. I could see her mind. All the cruelties inflicted on her and all the cruelty she had made a part of her psyche of love and I held her even closer while I knew she slept once more to my world and was awake in theirs. Her mind was warped to the extent she could not even remember me. My love of 1000’s of years who wanted to know what it meant to be human. What could I do for her now? My Love, my wife-to-be, my soul…All I could do was love her…she had nothing there now but human gadgets and tears. I carried her back to our home where nature makes all things usable and laid her, wrapped in the red fur, on a mound of grass which made itself thick and soft for her and thanks the rocks for making her lose her footing. At least I could make her whole…so while she dreamed in their world I unwrapped the fur and cried as I begin the Healing. I had made myself as human a shape for her as possible. What I really am she would not understand now. How did these humans crush her so? Why did she love them? While she slept I became light and I entered her and filled her up. Even while I was in her body healing it I could not help but make love to this spirit I loved so much.  But there would come a time she awoke that I would keep her once more…and we would fly together in the skies like the days of old. No MAN in her life had ever been my equal as, I had allowed her, once in human form, to forget me and what I was…yet some part of her remembered. Always she was looking for HIM…. I watched her sleep in their world as she was only marginally aware…. I WAS him…. AM him…. I woke up and I was THERE! The lovely land of dreams! With joy I flexed long dead muscles and noticed HE was with me. We waded into the shallows and soon into the deeper steam with it’s clear. lazy current and watched the red hill’d and deep green velvet pass either side. Spicy white star-flowers dotted each bank as I let the current take me past her just paddling aimlessly and then I noticed the rock walls of a narrow spot and jagged rocks pointing up from swirling white waters. I had noticed it before it noticed me and quickly same against the current back to where she was and it felt so GOOD to move freely! “There are rapids ahead swim back!” He nodded and we went back. I wanted to see the whole lay of the stream and she waited in the sun with his hair like copper fire while a ring of trees stood sentinel all around, huge and tall from a high skied atmosphere and wearing gems of brilliant emerald in their branches…..The shallows sparked white flecks of fire light bouncing from the shallow ripples in every direction and the smell of the air!!!!! I climbed and ran and jumped the hills up the steep banks making a tight trail through trees and overgrowth and careful not to break the limb of any plant and only tread on soil and they helped me…all the plants. The Grandfather  I could not leave her there alone anymore. What was a moment to me was a year to her and even a moment of her pain was too much for me to bear so I broke the rules she broke because she wanted to be born as a human…only I simply broke them…as I am. I can appear as a human to some degree and live among them unknown….so I would be for her who was mine only yesterday to me and a forgotten lifetime to her…. He looked familiar. But that was impossible I met him while in a dream! In the dream he was not even human so how could he be standing on my doorstep in broad daylight? I studied his face and he stood there without any words. Same face as the dream. Sad and very thin and thin,long,  blond hair and such a small mouth. Not the person I would choose to dream with yet he had been in a dream with me….a lovely dream. An awesome dream! Same clothes…..grey and neat like some old Russian peasant style from a long time ago. He was also TALL. If he came in my door he would have to bend his head! We both stood there frozen and not speaking. I was looking in his eyes. They were grey too like the sea in a storm with a hint of green from hidden suns…he was not beautiful at all and yet… ….he was beautiful! “Daughter by another Woman you have only been dreaming less than three days. Welcome home to your family…Your betrothed.” I watched my daughter as she took my son’s hand and they ran to jump the white flat roofs high in the green and white mountains under the lovely, stormy skies. I vowed that no angel would ever try her again. I hoped that one day when the world was made again anew that I could make her first mother love me and she would be young again and we would fly over the new people.              

Raindrops

snow angels six_crop(Names, dates, and personal descriptions have been altered to protect the participants of events. Some things have been made ‘semi-fictional’ for the same purpose. Very few have read the original or have bound copies of it as proof. In what you read here only events are real.)

The Oil Gypsies

(By Mary S. McCloskey-Ahmed)

I am America. America was founded on a strange mix of war and religion, of oil and coal, of slavery and money-barons. America’s roots go back to old royal England and far away shores on the Ivory Coast, they were made by feet that crossed the Bering Strait from Asia, they came from the south with the Azteca. America is every colour of the rainbow and has roots from all over the face of the earth and so it is today I am here. I am a royal slave. I am a peace-loving child of war lords…

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