Friday, May 18, 2012

Evening on Calle Cinco de Mayo

It had just grown dark and folks were saying buena noches instead of buenas tardes. Iggy, Angie, and I were coming from the little park of unknown name, where they had been playing with Timòn and I had been tutoring Timòn's owner in English.

There was a truck with a loudspeaker parked ahead of us, blaring music, but I wasn't really paying attention. It's election season in Mexico, and I hear or see trucks with loudspeakers at least five times a day. There was a trailer attached to the rear of the truck with signs on its frame, but it was too dark to read and I wasn't really paying attention. Suddenly Angie was acting spooky. She didn't want to walk past the truck, and I told her to "come on!" sternly. She bolted past and up the sidewalk about a block.

Iggy began barking in the direction of the trailer and I a large shape lunging at us at the same time I saw the bars and mesh holding it back. For a moment I thought it was a huge dog, a mastiff or something, then I saw it was a tiger! Iggy continued barking at it like the bravo he is. Angie wouldn't come any nearer. Both dogs moved into the middle of the street, to have a clear view in case there were any loose tigers about. I had to shepherd them back to the sidewalk before they were run over.

A few blocks later and we were home. I fed the dogs, then cooked and ate a light super. I hadn't written anything that morning because I had taken Mariana to DIF (Mexican social services) so she could get a disability card. She had shown up an hour late, then the address she had was wrong, but we found it eventually. It was afternoon by the time we were done, but Mariana hadn't brought any of her documents, so we will have to go back.

Anyway, back to that evening. Tigers. Home. Feeding of animals and myself. I was tired. I thought about writing, but decided against it because it stimulate me too much to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. I read for a while, set the alarm for early (so I could get a good start on writing in the morning). I turned off the light and went immediately to sleep. I think it was around 11.

At exactly 11:30 I was jolted awake by very loud clanging, very different from the school bells or the church bells. Looking out the window I saw two men prying open a metal cover in the middle of the cobblestone street just in front of the house, directly in front of my bedroom window, in fact. They peered into the hole with flashlights, then closed it and walked around the corner where they had some sort of encampment under the trees across the street.

I retrieved my field glasses and spied on them from the side window, hiding behind the curtain. The source of light in their camp was a gas torch with the oxygen turned down or off. The flame was long and yellow and flickered in the night air. One man was sitting on the curb, the other was in the street facing them. I couldn't make out their faces clearly. They were talking softly.

I went up on the roof and spied on them. I realized I was presenting my profile against the night sky, so I moved to where my back was against the wall of the rooftop laundry enclosure. I couldn't tell if they were up to no good or if they were supposed to be there. Behind them, in their "camp", lit by the torch, I could see tool boxes and shovels and other implements. Finally a truck pulled up. On the side ofthe truck was the logo for SAPASMA, the state water utility. So they were kosher. That was a relief. There was a conference with the driver, then the men piled their tools into the back of the truck. They got in and the truck drove off.

I went back to sleep.

An hour later, I was woken by the sound of a shovel scraping on the stones of the street! Ay vey! Oy caramba! It wasn't loud, they were trying to work quietly, but it was loud enough. They finished shortly before 2. I reset my alarm and went back to sleep.

I woke up 10 minutes before the alarm went off, but was still groggy an hour later, even after my coffee. I sat down in my camp chair, lit a cigarette, then wrote the scene where Bob offers Antler Man a job. It was about a thousand words, which seems to be my typical daily productivity since I began writing this novel. I thought about Billy Jack's play and wrote a page worth of notes on the play and an interview of him for the Paris Review. Not bad for a morning's work. I don't feel sheepish telling people I am a writer now.

I'm looking for a patron or patrons. If you want to help out a writer working on his first novel, drop me an email at marcosmalo c/o (replace the c/o with the "at" symbol) I'll send you the story so far. Fifty or a hundred bucks each month would make a huge difference. I'm hoping to have completed a first draft in about ten weeks. At that point I'll start looking for an agent or publisher, so if anyone has any contacts in the publishing biz, or is in the biz, let me know!


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