Verboten Vernacular Vicissitudes; MS-in-progress: Mi Padre Y Yo Escalamos El Caribe (My Father and I Climb The Caribbean), Part I, Chapter 4 Excerpt
"...the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'" -- Jack Kerouac
Toxic texts tangling the ...
My bother's in the
I say things like a cocky
Too much weed, caffeine, and beer on an
I go visit. Then I leave. Then I visit.
This time, I bring him
Then I walk to get him a fresh pair of
The nurses and doctor
I leave the hospital and down in the subway I help two young black
get their bikes
"We don't have enough money,
"Well, where are you
They have no clue how the subway works. I help them out.
with their bikes, I show them how to keep their
front tires lifted and to stay
safe!" I tell them. This is after I'd found out on
that I'd be riding out, possibly,
3,000 miles with my cousin
west to California, to help him restart his new life
by being there for him
country. I readjust, readjust. It's okay.
I made due. I plot and plan and
I drink beer back at my apartment and cook
some radishes with chicken and kale and lemon.
then I sit down to this MS-in-progress, something I started writing
I printed out the script
ago. Too terrified to look at
I found a publisher
this month. So I made a
plan to write the second part this week,
after editing the first 9 chapters.
I'll add 20-thousand words to
20-thousand words. And I'll
edit the son-
then, I'll take off for
Here's Chapter 4, from Part I.
Mi Padre Y Yo Escalamos El Caribe (My Father and I Climb The Caribbean), Part I, Chapter 4
The clocks swirled in vibratory harmony with our tumultuous yearnings for the beaches of Punta Cana. Everything slowed to a pace that my father and I had only known in our dreams of faraway lands, where pistachios were pistachios, and lava lamps were granulated pixels of incomparable understanding between human hearts. What was there to decipher? Besides the birds and the trees -- everything.
We rode out to the beach on a shuttle with a few other tourists. That shuttle, I’d learn, would repeatedly make its way to the beach, and around town, to the hotel and back again. It was a never-ending cycle, a marooned marauder destined to serve the whimsical allure of the white-sand beaches, where the tourists floundered. That was where they went to spend their money and time.
Arriving at Playa Blanca beach was like stepping onto the surface of the moon. But, rather, the isolation was not equidistant to Mars and Jupiter, no. It was the earth’s remote way of saying, by way of this beach: “Hello.”
To the beauty of the Caribbean Sea! My father and I trekked like nomads escaping American degradation. We were destined to undo the conditioning of hundreds of thousands of years, all the same. Although my father was athletic, and he could beat me in any race to anywhere at any time, day or night, I had gloomily known about his atrophying heart, when it came to earning his bread and butter. His phones and bones were willy-nilly, like applesauce without the steaming pie. A nonsensical attribution, a physical nom de plume that stole your soul, and your pumpkins too.
He had spent so much of his life working hard, and brutally so. There was never any escape.
Except for now.
Now, we were at the beach. Playa Blanca. We walked together onto the white sand, after passing through a tropical garden, bar, and restaurant, which was an outside dining room. Like a Tiki-Hut for worldwide and international tourists. They dozed on blankets. They played Frisbee in the sand. Some posed for pictures on the palms, which had silently rested there for generations. Forever wasn’t possible. Was it? Anyway, that’s what it felt like to me. A timeless haven for beach-goers, for those with their souls still splashing around somewhere inside of them. They wanted to play in the little waves hitting the sand, and without introspection. Not thinking about anything at all.
My father and I greeted the Caribbean like it was the savior of our souls. There’s no possible nomenclature to relay the feeling of stepping out into that big body of water for the first time of your current lifespan. Now. Now I was wading into the water. Now I was diving under the cool and breezy waves. The sea was calm. With my feet I could touch all the unknown creatures, alpha or otherwise, plants living underneath the surface, breathing the water like oxygen.
Just swimming along with the current. I felt a serene and easy peace. Turning to look back at the shoreline -- actually, I wasn’t so far out -- I watched my father cupping his hands over his eyes, staring out at the horizon where tiny boats and big bastard freighters tooted in the depths. They were fishing. Or maybe they were blowing into harmonics of invisible frequencies, creating a symphony that was only heard by the dolphins and the sharks. The only thing I knew was that my father was at once peaceful, and quiet. It wasn’t Miles Davis into his horn, no. Simply it was the man who’d given me birth. George. Looking out at the Caribbean, taking it all into his belly and up to his brain.
I watched him taking pictures. Then he snapped one of me. I said, Okay ducks. It’s time to swim. I dove and swam and flopped around. Trying not to intervene with the few couples who were holding each other in the softly intermittent, whooshing waves, I did a cartwheel. I was happy. Like a dove. From the few yards I had drifted out to sea, I could turn back and see countless beach bums resting in and on the sand. They were like thousands of innumerable grains. We’d come from the clay. Hunting and foraging for food. And now? Now we rested on it. We took it easy. We were escaping the frustrating realities of back at home -- or we were enjoying ourselves in and on the fruits of our laboriously interwoven economies of life and living on the ancient, spasmodic earth.
Then I was on my back, staring up at the clouds. That one’s Jupiter. That one’s a home in a forest by a lake. That one’s a magic marker drawing outer space. That one’s the earth hugging the sea and the sea responding thus: “Thanks, ya old billy goat.”
My father came over to me. I told him that I’d go protect our belongings upon the sand. He dove into the water and splashed his feet around, a strong swimmer, no doubt. Reaching our stuff all senselessly scattered about, I thought what it might be like to lie on my back in the sand. But I was too restless for dreaming. So I dried off my writer’s locks and did a few jumping-jacks. I ran in circles. My father did the backstroke and told dirty jokes to strangers. The sun shone gloriously long and loud like it craved the attention of its warmth. You couldn’t look away.
Everything was beautiful.
My father came up to me as I was reciting poems in my jockstrap.
“Waddya think, Hop?” My father had given me this nickname before I’d even been able to speak. He said that I used to hop and dance around, like a cocker spaniel doing tricks for little gifts of food and treats that equated to a pat on the head. I was a good dog. At least for the time being.
“Yeh,” I responded. It was all I could say.
He laughed at me, sitting on a beach chair. Combing his wet hair with his hands, water drying on his eyelids and twinkling in the sunshine. Relaxed. All this way to sit on our asses and everything is cookies and ice cream, like coffee on Sunday mornings when the rain patters down, making sounds like lullabies lulling you to sleep. But it was a good and well-deserved sleep. It was a sleep of the soul that said: “Hooray.”
We decided to get a drink at the bar up towards the Tiki-Hut. I walked to find a bathroom and washed off my sandy feet. Returning to the bar, feeling naked and free in my spiritual ecstasies, I sat with my old man.
“Frio! Mucho frio!” one of the bartenders exclaimed, handing us our first round of beers. Two ice-cold, green bottles of El Presidente. Cold and divine. Fresh. Deliciosa!
“Cheers, son.” My father said, toasting to our adventure.
And those first two beers were delicious, too much for words. We were there, in the Dominican Republic, to climb the Ceiling of the Caribbean with a group of 70 Dominican kids, teenagers. My father knew a guy in the U.S. Special Forces. He took the kids up the mountain, twice a year. It was to be a momentous endeavor, especially in our souls. So my father and I drank to that. We were soon to be heading for Pico Duarte, all 10,000 feet of it, come the morn.
What was there to think about?
Twisting around on our bar stools, we could see the Caribbean stretched out across the horizon line. I was awestruck. To the left were houses all along the coast, aligned above the rocks. Yellow. Red. Blue. And brown. Some had big porches and long decks on second-levels, where I imagined big parties took place, with loads of fresh fish and girls and jugs of wine. And rum. And bonfires in the sand, when the sun had gone down and all the tourists had gone back to their hotels to wash the salt and sand out of their hair and itchy crevasses. With the first few sips of beer, I’d fallen into my daydreaming. It was a dreamy place. I couldn't help it. Let’s just stay, I thought. Let’s never go back home....