where the writers are
MAMBO

Mambo

The all prevailing woman

I strayed with her into the path direct.

A O SPARE

 

 

God must have feelings too if he is truly the image of a man, and Goddamn it, I feel hurt! I must go beyond myself if I am to remain valid; yet I sit and wait. I want to experience something real for a change – not just talk but do something real. I have read about Magic but reading is not enough. I have only lived inside my mind yet here in Haiti there is living Voodoo! I am at this juncture in life because I feel dead inside – there is nothing thrilling about life anymore - it just continues like it did before - I need the miraculous! Thus thought Dr. McCoy as he sat in a deck chair on the only beach in Port of Prince - the property of the Royal Casino Hotel.

He had not been out of the hotel compound for the whole week he had been here, partly out of fear. The ocean breeze revived his spirit as he sat alone watching an old freighter on the horizon going slowly into nothingness. His mind went with it – no thought at all  -lost in an abstract rumination while his heart blended with the distant beat of drums. He breathed the atmosphere full of fragrant woods burning in an open pit and relaxed in the noon sun drinking his cold lime rum.

The sun went behind a cloud; he felt a chill and shivered; just then he heard a desperate crunch of the sand behind and shot up as if stung by a bee only to fall backwards into the sand. He looked up to see Martha Bovine, a fellow guest at the hotel; he noted her rather robust figure packed into a very small bikini.

She rushed over to him and said, “I’m so sorry I startled you, how awkward of me, I want to ask your advice on my health.”

“I’m not a medical doctor, I am a professor of Anthropology.”

“Oh doctor,” she gave a feigned surprise then smiled, “it’s my heart, it goes pitter-patter –listen.” She thrust her breast into his face.

If he wanted magic in his life, this seemed to be excitingly real. He suggested they go to his room for a thorough  examination.She smiled. Eros is the urging of God to join him in the process of creation –he gives the arousal of possibility. Eros is the urge to love and be loved –the bringer of new life. Put succinctly, Eros is the word of God.

Latter that afternoon they decided to visit a houngan she knew. “We have to get you out to see things, she told him, “or you will sit here and do nothing.” The Houngan is on the road to Petionville so they have time visit the rum factory as well. In the taxi she began expressing her own feelings about things, “Look at this poverty – some of the poorest people in the world and it is all engineered by the political system. Inside these hotels money is vomited away in a raw glut of gambling. What have the Americans done since coming here, but fuel corruption – everything is for sale.”

Julian looked through the open window of the taxi into the thronging masses, most dressed in white cotton because of the heat and humidity. Everyone busy trying to make something – anything happen within impossible conditions; in dire poverty everything is against you and the simplest things become an overblown hassle. 

Suddenly a man with no arms or legs crawled across the

path of the taxi; the driver slammed on his brakes to keep from hitting him. “Wait,” she cries, “I want to give that poor man some money.”

“Don’t bother,”says the cabbie, “he do it every time – he see tourist and start a crawling.”

“Oh life is cruel,” she swung open the door and ran over to give the poor unfortunate a hundred dollar bill. The man took the bill in his mouth and crawled off quickly with fear in his eyes.

The cabdriver looked back at us and said mournfully, “No matter where he take that money,they will steal it. Even his brother would. A man that bad off has no friends –he is most likely dead already.” He waved his hand as if to banish the wholematter, “in Haiti everybody know everything.”

The houngan had a small hut half way up the mountain - the house was painted white. She talked  with the man at the door in French and gave him some money and a bottle of rum.“He is a master of the Petro,” she told Julian, “he will give you courage.”

The Houngan took Julian to a small room with a cement floor where two other men were waiting –they were armed with machete. The houngan took a deep drink of the rum and sprayed the other two men – then sprayed the four corners of the room before passing around the bottle for the others to drink deep.

Mrs. Bovine waited out side with the taxi; this made Julian fear she would leave him. The men formed a triangle around him and started a raucous chant; he began to tremble and thought he might faint. They started to smash together the machetes over Julian’s head with such ferocity that he could see sparks fly as they cracked together.  One of the sparks seemed to somehow penetrate his consciousness. Suddenly Julian felt strong and fearless.  For the first time in his life he had real courage, there was some kind of incomprehensible force inside him – he was ready for anything.

She smiled when she saw him, she could tell that he had gone through a transformation. He smiled back at her, ready to face any danger. They then took the taxi the rest of the way up the hill to the rum factory.

An abrupt storm struck just as they arrived and everyone left the patio to gather round the bar. Martha left for the powder room leaving Julian to order some drinks. As Julian took a sip of his coconut rum he glanced in the mirror behind the bar.He caught a glimpse of large menacing stranger with dark sunglasses staring at him. Julian, who normally would have looked away, was emboldened to stareback.  In fact, Julian actually felt like challenging the man by asking why he was staring.

The large man seemed to sense Julian’s thoughts and began puffing very rapidly on his big black cigar, filling the room with irritating volumes of smoke. The waiters and guest choked, coughed and gagged. Julian’s eyes burned and tears rolled down his face and when Martha returned she too was crying.

The storm by this time had passed so the lovers could step outside to talk in private. The verandah stood over a deep valley and as the sun dissolved the mist, one could believe the storm had never been. The clouds billowed out like fantastic rose-gold wings of an eagle when grabbing prey.

Supporting the arcades above the balcony is a massive bulk of stonework and plaster; it left a heavy shadow. As they walked into the shadow Martha became visibly alarmed.Julian saw her shiver and knew something had happened.

“That man…” she said then stopped.

Julian sensed danger when he felt a cold hand of persuasion heavy on his shoulder.  He spun around ramming his fist into volumes of fat, then looking up into a face pained like a thumb pounded by a hammer, sharpened teeth set in purple, snarling as if intent to tear his throat open in carnivorous delight. The big man locked his eyes on Martha and from her reaction Julian realized she knew him!

“Your husband wants you to return immediately,” he said with great restraint in a heavy wooden tone and then pointing to himself said, “ he want Macomb to bring you NOW.”

 Julian was astonished they had been found here but remembered the words of the cabdriver, “In Haiti word travels fast – everybody know everything.” Julian wanted to fight but realized he had no say, “Go ahead I will take a taxi back.”

Once alone Julian felt distraught, he drank rum till well after dark and upon leaving he found there were no taxis. He was drunk enough to think he might walk to a bus stop or see an empty taxi passing by. As he walked the mountain air began to revive his clarity, he felt strong and ready for any danger.  He worried if Martha was all right as he walked down the mountain toward the city of Port a Prince far below.

It became clear to him as he wandered past shanties, shacks and little shops how empty he really was. I have been asleep all these years and only now I see how badly I have slept! All the damage and havoc I have created while sleep walking – yes sleepwalking through broken dreams and unsettled nightmares.

Passing a little peasant church he anguished at his poverty of spirit, how little of the essence of existence he had experienced. It were as if he had cleared the pool-table of all the balls and was preparing to take out the eight ball when he realized there was neither ball or table, it was just a dream! Truly all he wanted was the divine!

He woke from his reveries to see he stood at the crossroad. He became fascinated by the dance of birds – Pintards, thousands chattering in a great mimbon tree. Watching them gave him a sense of freedom and that sense of freedom allowed him to follow the rhythm of the drums all consuming.

The drums absorbed him –  possessed him – his mind grew quiet and he followed. No longer did he notice his surroundings – the drone of the beat seemed to signal his every nerve, sinew, and vessel. He moved toward its lure without seeing all the lurid and bazaar creatures all around. Most likely these were things he would not want to see anyway as he wandered through slums of abject poverty, down dirt paths into ever darker byways both strange and morbid.

There came a great sense of yearning, a full-bodied desire, a manic craving, and a desperate longing for some illusive abstract unknown – something found at the root of rainbows or the fulfillment of dreams. The night was dark and foreboding as he wandered past haunted graveyards peopled with grotesque groping zombies,growling snarling snapping dogs, squawking hens, and terrible bogs. He knew not where he wandered nor did he care.

Then all became quiet and serene as he entered a groove full of sweet smelling flowers mingled with honey and spice. He heard a buzzing that gave a gushing pleasure, he felt a vibration deep inside that emerged from his solar plexus then took him over in a full bodied urge to dance and leap with joyous abandon. In the midst of all this he saw a beautiful black woman full and voluptuous dressed all in white chiffon like for a wedding with sparking all around like fireflies and diamonds. She called him to her and he was full of fire. Her eyes were black as coal yet sparkled like stars in the night. For that moment all was quiet but for the crickets and croaking frogs. She pointed to the Veve etched on the black earth with white corn flour.“The Loa call and now you come.”

In an almightyuproar the crew of drummers pounded with all their might a powerful rada beat and a savage naked man with horrid hateful eyes leapt up shaking like a leaf in a violent wind  - he shouted indecipherable phrases in the four directions. He took rum in his mouth and sprayed it out in roaring flames; then he took a bite of the bottle and began chewing the glass. Several woman bare breasted came forth cracking whips andJulian felt some being climb on his shoulders and ride him like a horse. Julian felt a power within him making him strong – he felt immersed in a glittering scintillating light. Julian saw the full moon rise above the trees and extend a beam of light on which Julian rose ever higher in an orgiastic frenzy. Desire was equivalent to action and great was his desire of the moon. It was like dreaming only more real than real. She like silk and smooth alabaster sprinkled with delicious peddles of rose. The hours passed through the night and into morning till he heard the crow of a rooster. He looked over his shoulder and saw his naked body lying in a bed of purple; she entwined about him.

He could hear the songbirds twittering joyfully in the dawn’s rosy light. She, who is everything and more, more than he could realize, calculate, estimate, or call,  more even than life and death and all that is between, more than even this. It was a moment full of intimacy and incongruity, she more familiar than my fondest memory of all I know, she more close to me than my very heart yet so very alien and ominous. She leaned over and washed my naked body with white scented cloths moistened in warm water. At the foot of the bed stood a heart shaped altar upon which burned sweet smelling incense. He kissed her breast.

She with drew smiling and said, “Later, first I must find a black egg laid by a whiterooster.”

“But it will be hard.”

“That’s the way Ilike it,” she smiled and walked through the door.

He dressed and strutted out to the front porch, closed the door and sat on the stairs. He needed to pee! He realized he needed to pee like never before. He tried to open the door but he door was locked. He felt abandoned and alone – God! you must need to pee sometimes - we all do - we men.

Well what the hell he thought, let me just cut loose right here on the street. Just then a van of sightseeing church ladies from Idaho pulled up and started taking snapshots. Julian, the prude he was pulled up his zipper and walked cross-legged toward the patch of trees across the street; dogs nipped at his heel, a black cat screeched, a goat butted after him and yet he strove onward. He ran toward the privacy of the wooded jungle before him and after jumping a sewage filled ditch tried to go behind a tree but found it guarded by a giant and revolting spider with a web stretched cross the path. Julian lost continence in that moment. He turned to see the house but there was none. He is lost, beyond redemption, yet he knew he had found the way.