Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eleven by Night

Flocks of feathered floats had helped to facilitate the fantasy, flaring in and fanning out; ruffling as if the breeze had snuck up from the adjoining seaside and tickled them. They were tugged on and put on parade by tanned figures that were glistening with sweat, gyrating and giving in to a general sense of euphoria. They danced on vapors. It was an emancipation exclamation, a festival of melody, a gala that deceived even the native residents into thinking that they had been transported to some tropical dreamland for Carnival. Carnival! Except that this was North America; this was the land of migrants and Mounties, in the summer months, when the clouds were flickering and fleeting, and something frigid was a-rolling-in.

Fed by all the frenzy of the earlier hours, the revelers took the nightfall as it came. They took to the streets, persevering with the recreation and the revelry. The more flamboyant of the set parked expensive automobiles on the avenues with lights beaming, sounds blasting and the cleaning solutions drying unseen into the paint. The sidewalks were abuzz with the intoxicated and the inquisitive, and impudent youngsters on the prowl for their own amusements. Another line of vehicles made a syrupy slow drain down the main boulevard. And inside, the passengers' faces drew closer to the glass, meaning to miss nothing.

From five or so feet away, there seemed to be another costumed mass gathering – similar to that which was marching in the sun just hours before…but here? No. All of that pageantry had died out with the daylight; these were symbols of a different variety. Was it the red stripes surrounding those caps that made them look so unnatural? Out-of-towners would find the attire too bright and celebratory for actual enforcers of the law to wear. And then, a woman screamed! The throngs suddenly became sluggish; frowns were formed out of just buoyant features; a kind of internal movement changed the formation of the police unit and a woman screamed.

Fists pounded on metal. The air had changed. The surge of blue parted to reveal the woman; her braids had unraveled and her head swayed low over her protruding stomach. The squad of blue, eleven they were, advanced upon the bawling captive. She wailed an announcement of her pregnancy, but she may as well have been shouting at thunder. The woman screamed. She wrestled her wrists against the silver handcuffs. Eleven officers struggled to take hold of the woman’s body, unaffected by the emotional exhibition. Eleven men were taking hold of one woman’s body. This, at Carnival!

Monday, January 17, 2011


The noises that echoed from the hollow spaces in the back reached around the hall like long fingers and grabbed and wiggled at his ear. Even at the gate where he stood, the words were crisp with enunciation. It was like listening to a radio in the dark; in the wee morning hours when all but one thing in the world was mute. He waited for an acknowledgement that he could carry out his task. He leaned on the wall in his gray suit and something misty was floating around his mind. He overheard his name. He was surprised. Even at the gate where he stood, the name was crisp with enunciation. His name! There was a sudden foreboding rumbling in the deep. He would know before knowing that whatever reached him next would hurt him. And then, the adjective came; it made his spirits fall like cucumbers just sliced by a knife.

Still, the God of the universe had been merciful, for it allowed him to receive this latest destruction in the hallway alone. The God of his imagination had destined that he would have to share this shame with no one.

Amen. He let his head hang for a second in a mood reminiscent of his earlier more vulnerable days, long before his majestic transformation; his evolution into something elegant with a suit and a pricy watch and an expensive cashmere overcoat that fell toward his ankles; Oh how he walked like a king and held his shoulders up, and stood face-front before judges to articulate his phrases - very persuasive. Who could even comprehend the catalogue of mortifications he had already crawled out of? They were always nipping secretly at his heels. There was a quick moment of delirium. Panic. His eyes were searching for a swift solution. And then, it was decided. He would walk to the end of the hallway and return after an introspective intermission. Perhaps, none of this had happened at all. He was his only witness after all. Yes. He buttoned up his jacket and started to walk.