Down the rabbit hole
N 73°51'47.3004'' W
The man who can spend his evening crafting an exquisite seven course dish, then sits down and deeply enjoys the meal all by himself, in full awareness that his entire effort will end in a thick pasty roll of steaming shit, now that man, that man has understood life. These are words of wisdom my second grade English teacher Mr. Addo used to tell my class all the time. He also told us that masturbating would stop our bodies from growing and turn us into midgets. So yeah, let's just say he had his hits and misses.
Why is this morbid drivel going through my head right now? Why? Because there is a rusty revolver pointing directly at me. Just inches away as my head bobbles from side to side, trying to escape the gun. A rather unimpressive piece. They didn’t even take the time to properly remove the serial numbers. The last digits are: 4, 4, 6... what does it matter? As long as it does the trick.
A hairy old man is holding the gun with a trembling hand. His pale blue eyes glare at me through an open 6th floor apartment window. Explain yourself! Explain why you are kneeling on his fire-escape in the middle of the night, dressed in an oversized Santa costume.
“Don’t shoot! Just bringing gifts to the neighborhood. I’m not a robber, I’m Santa. I mean, not really but-- I’m not a fucking thief.”
pupils are two black holes, gaping and empty. He is flying at an
altitude of 327,360 feet, high out of his mind, not registering a
single word. That’s what you get for living in a building full of
junkies. And that’s what you get for trying to do something good in
life. Ah shit, this can’t be the end. No rhyme or reason, no
poetry, no graceful battle. Shot by a random junkie. Please no,
please don’t let me die like this.
A glaze covers the old man’s eyes. Words are useless yet my lips spread wide in defiance. Out comes a whimper carrying hope and an eternal belief in tomorrow. His muscles twitch.
“No, please no.”
Saliva drools from the edges of his mouth.
“Fuck no, no...”
1: Things Fall Apart
Scale 1: 35922.3021583
All is dark.
Fuck no, no-- good enough last words as any. Pretty much sums up my life. What is this now? Heaven? No, it can't be, even god wouldn't have such a sick sense of humor. Or would he? Is this hell then? Does it matter? The difference really being a matter of taste.
All is dark.
There is nothing to see. Nothing to want and nothing to need. Life is in the mind alone. All is safe. Quiet and safe. Warm and safe. Too fucking safe. The dark is suffocating and the warmth boring. There must be something else. Time has frozen-- then suddenly, it starts to tick.
Light flares all around and mother holds me tight against her skin, blinking away the golden sunlight, refusing to let me go free. Beside her sit two loud females, cackling and making wild explosive movements.
Mother? What is she? What is happening? Who, when... fuck! Even death can't come peacefully. Everything's always gotta turn into a whole thing.
“You have to learn the Twi eh, sister Alisha. Learn the Twi so you can teach your son. He has to learn our language.” says the small lumpy one.
Mother swings her head up and down.
“English is not our language. It is borrowed so we can never truly speak it. We are not able to write great stories and songs because of this. Everything we do in that language will be second rate. Bastard,you understand?” says the big dark one with the fiery voice.
This is me, my past! My mother. And Aunt Betty and Aunt Margaret.
“I understand.” says mother, shifting me from one knee to the other.
“You are a very good woman. Yes very good, very strong. Joseph is lucky.” says the one with the fiery voice.
“Yes, you American women don’t play around. You have suffered just as we have suffered and that is why we are one.” says the small lumpy one one.
“We can tell that you know how to keep your house. That is the most important thing. Yes, we are lucky that we got you for our Joseph. To tell you the truth, at the beginning, I was not so sure but now I can tell you, I am sure.”
“Yes, we are lucky we didn’t get some other foreigner. Like some Yoruba woman.”
There is squealing laughter.
A bullet flashes up, the bullet from the hairy old man's gun. It is looming right above my left eye, stuck in space with nowhere to go but forward to drill a 9mm hole into my head.
“Jesus, a Yoruba woman, like we would be dead.” says the one with the fiery voice.
“What is so bad about Yoruba women?” asks mother.
“What is so bad? Look at her, she doesn’t know.” says the small lumpy one.
“They are dirty people, very dirty and wicked.”
“Yes, very wicked and the women don’t know how to keep a house.”
“What do Yoruba women call their child's first birthday party? asks the small lumpy one.
“I have no Idea.” says mother
There is more squealing laughter.
What do Yoruba people call a morgue? asks the small lumpy one.
enough, my son is here!”
“Oh he doesn’t understand. Eh, look at him.” says the small lumpy one.
Her hand swings in my direction and reaches for my head.
Maybe my body could just shift a bit to the left, dodge her hand and the bullet at the same time. That's it. Yes, yes...
“He is happy playing, a good boy. Look at him. What a fine boy, he has such nice hair.”
… no. No. My body is stuck, it won't obey me. Not my current body and not the one crawling in between mothers legs to escape Aunt Betty's petting. A sitting duck, watching a bunch of bickering housewives flap their mouths about until my brains are sprayed wet down the fire escape.
So, what do Yoruba people--”
“Please stop. I mean it okay?” says mother. Her heart is beating hard.
“Okay, okay. Isch, boss woman. That is why I know you will make a good wife.” .
“Boss woman.” says the one with the fiery voice.
“Yes, a very strong woman!”
“Sister Alisha, could I get one more, what is it… Fanta please?
“Of course.” says mother
Mother gets up and disappears. Where did she go? My heart starts beating furiously.
“Look at her, her head has grown big. She thinks because she has a son now she can tell me what to do.” says the small lumpy one one.
“Too know, she is too know.” says the one with the fiery voice.
“She can't come to my country and tell me what to do. Impossible!”
Mother comes back.
“Iish, there she is. Boss woman.” says the small lumpy one
Mother smiles and hands her an orange bottle.
“Thank you sister Alisha. Thank you.”
Mother sits back down and smiles but a twinkle in her eye has disappeared.
Finally. Moving on. Those women were unbearable even back then. No idea how mother could take it. She had about as much in common with these people as with the Queen of England. The “beautiful motherland,” as she used to call it, was really just a dream built up in the hearts and minds of rejected individuals, hoping for a home away from home. But that's all no matter. On it goes.
If this is my life flashing by then how far along will we get before the bullet blows up the projector and the theater goes dark? Will we get all the way to the end or will the audience be left booing throwing pop corn at the screen?