Posts Tagged 'storm stories'

October 12th, poolside

Three months ago who would have thought that I would be here? The stars are shining on me. The stars are shining on my clean body, floating white and naked in a perfectly heated pool in the moonlight in October. October is grand, isn’t it? Is there any place in the world where October is not the gods’ favorite month?

Zuzu is eating olives and writing letters in permanent marker on 14×22” white boards. She writes letters to each of her old friends, and those lovers whose names she can remember and whose addresses she’s managed to find on-line or through other means. The olives are briny and fat. The French doors open to the pool, which is filled with filtered salt water. Warm and buoyant.

As she finishes each letter, she signs her name in red and black Sharpee. Zuzu de Graib. She gives herself various titles. Esquire, Lady, Mrs., Dr., Junior, Ph.D., Ph.Z. Doctor of Zuzulogy –  she laughs and sucks on a pit, a dark black kalamata pit, the kind that makes the underside of her feet itch, they are so strong.

Zuzu is the happiest person in her family, happy in her home, happy in her mind, happy in the astrological benediction that brought her here. Tile, sand, water, fish, mango, pineapple, light sheer curtains switching in the open doors. That smell, what is that smell? Frangipane?

She writes frangipane down on a dry erase board and puts it with the others. In all of her life, she never imagined she’d have all the dry erase boards she could ever want, and a place to keep them, where she could write words to be erased, and words to be kept. This is Zuzu’s first and only real home.


I was alone for 15 years or so, alone the way we are when we are not children. How is alone now, what is the shape of alone, do you know? I shook a stick once at alone and it hissed back at me, a snake, a goose, a small cat with big green eyes. I have shaken my solitude so hard that all of its fruit fell to the ground and lay there fallow, lay there unseen for year after year. Little nuggets of solitude, little nuggets of loneliness, they lie there in an orchard, an orchard of past stories, stories from before the travels that took me away, away from hearth, from home.

I left in the winter of my 15th year, as is traditional. I rode a small horse with a fine Arabian head. Not the horse of the nobility, nonetheless a horse that suggested connections. I might be an important bastard, said the horse, I might be a well placed clerk in a prosperous, powerful and dangerous religion. Religion being, then as now, a dangerous and dishonest pursuit, was very appealing to second sons. I might have been a second son, that was generally agreed upon, or a bastard, again, that also was agreed upon. 

I left in the winter of my 15th year, leaving my lady and my lord in disguise, to travel and claim a kingdom for my own in lands far away. Once taken, I would return to tell the king and queen, my mother and father, about my acquisition, and then they would name me heir and bond me and mine forever to them, in spite of my bastard status, in spite of my feminine nature, in spite of my brother, the king’s first son, who was more of a bastard than I was ever likely to be. In spite of his mother and father’s marital status.

I left in the winter of my 15th year, as is traditional, riding my horse with my man to the edge of the sea, where I left both and boarded a ship with an uncle, who agreed to allow me on board as long as the secret was kept, but who could not guarantee my safety if ever all was discovered. This uncle was a first cousin to my mother, a man named Thomas Wilcomb, and he let me onboard at some personal risk. I came aboard as first boy, and looked after his parrot, kept his books, and ran away as soon as ever  I could, so that I might seek my own fortune, and not simply add to his.

Southern fried girl

I am a southern fried girl. I am a southern fried girl. I am tearing off my wings and dipping them in hot sauce. I am a southern fried girl.

I read a story once about a man who had a need to get away from where he was living. Arkansas, I think, but it coulda been Oklahoma. Anyway, there was a bank and a whole lot of people who lost the farm – that expression always makes me think of my daddy – bought the farm, actually, but that’s close, lost the farm. So he and his family put together all their money and drove out to California, where they could eat oranges picked fresh off the tree.

Not me. I am southern by choice, I am. Allergic to oranges; they give me hives. Peanuts too, come to think of it, and they do grow peanuts around there, but anyway I ain’t moving to California if all they got going for them is a buncha oranges and people with shiny orange skin and six pack abs.

But what I had been thinking about was someplace with less sun. Sun makes me sick sometimes, seems like it don’t ever go away. One damn sunny day after another. First I thought I’d go to China and live on a boat on the Yangtse river. A junk. I pictured myself leaning back on a pile of soft cushions, leaning my hand out one side of the boat, eating Peking duck from a bucket, and some good looking man rubbing my feet with warm oil. Turns out China’s not hiring American, though, not buying American either, and keeping all their money in their own towns, which don’t seem like a bad idea, though it never seemed to happen in the south, which I had decided to leave, as I mentioned before.

I pictured these mountains in my head, and they were foggy and cool, and there were lakes, and fish, and not a whole lotta sound. I don’t like a whole lotta sound. Makes my head feel funny. I like to sit back quiet and cool and let the water brush past my fingers, brush past my fingers. China was out of the question though, I could tell after I looked into it some, so I got to thinking about Oregon, or Alaska, or Washington, and those looked closer to what I had in mind. I took the bus – the Labrador Lines, Greyhound was too expensive for me – to Portland and stopped there for about two days before I ran out of money. Then I went west, into the rain forest, and it was quiet there, and foggy, and there were lakes, and rivers, and any number of hairy, mildewed river trolls who were friendly enough to a good natured deep fried southern girl, and I got a job and a place to stay. Drove an old blue truck around, delivering eggs and local herbs. Then one day Hal, who grew the herbs, says to me, we’re done with that truck, go put it away for now. And he gives me the key to Nirvana, his electric car that goes up and down the Oregon coast, runs on moss and powdered crab shells, and I drive smooth and quiet as a cat, and that’s what I like, that’s what I like much better than hot dry sun and smoke and trucks with their screaming truck stop brakes. A little quiet, that’s what a southern fried girl can live on for awhile.

(Prompt: three pictures, chosen randomly. 15 minutes. To be added to Zola stories, in Mayhem Texas.)

Watermelon goblin


I put a chunk of Spam on a slice of bread. I put Miracle Whip on top of the Spam, sprinkle sugar on that, and cover it with another slice of bread. Then I press it down hard and wrap it tight in Saran Wrap. When I take it out at lunch time, it is warm and the sugar has melted into the Miracle Whip. This taste is like ham baked in brown sugar with pineapple. Only without the pineapple.  I always have a Fanta Orange with this sandwich, usually warm. Then I go back to work.

There is a roller coaster back there, behind that fence. You can’t see it now cause it’s in pieces. Last month the big circle part of the coaster hit a bad chunk with 12 cars and 27 people on it and the chunk hurled out two of them. The rest were okay. So it’s behind the fence right now for repairs.

Last night I’m at drumming circle with those belicana with the good smoke. I’m wearing shiny black shoes like church only they are not shiny long, mostly covered with dust. I dance til my shoes fall off and then I think this is like revival, like someone hit me in the head and the spirit of Jesus moved in and knocked me on my ass.

I look in the mirror this morning and I think I chipped a tooth. My tongue is worried about this a lot, but the rest of me says it is something to forget about. It’s a tooth, just a tooth, that’s what the rest of me is saying, like I got all my aunts and uncles and grandmothers sitting in the back of my head in tribunal. I decide it’s time to go home for awhile. Leave the roller coaster to someone with a better head for cheap vodka.

I’m hitchhiking now and it’s pretty hot but that doesn’t seem too bad. There’s a roadside stand about 20 miles from here with good frybread. Usually they got ice for the cokes, so I get off there and say goodbye thanks to the truck driver who brought me from Cañoncito to here. His name is Sigmund and he wants to talk about cigars, but I know what cigars mean to high-talking truck drivers, so I figure it’s time to just sit down on the side of the road with some beans and a warm piece of bread and a cold coke and think about the meaning of life.

As I’m thinking about the meaning of life, I see a lady come up to the stand and order one frybread, a bowl of green chile stew, and extra napkins please. She’s wearing sandals and I can see her toes ‘cause she’s standing maybe only two-three feet away from me. Her toenails are a light blue color, sky blue, with little white daisies on them. She looks at me looking at her feet and I smile at her, hey, being friendly. She smiles back, pretty nice. In a little while, her husband comes by and they ask where I’m going.

 Up north, I say, Four Corners.

 We can take you as far as Chaco, they say.

Ok, you’re on.

And I’m in the wagon with them, sitting in the back, admiring the air conditioning.

There’s a story everybody tells about a box that should never be opened, and in the story of course somebody always opens it and then things happen. This is a story told by all the people of the world, is what my grandmother always said. In some stories the box is made of gold, or pewter, or brass. In some it is made of woven rushes, or thin porcelain or wood. In my grandmother’s version, the box is made of mud, and inside the box lives a storyteller also made of mud. He is a mud goblin, with reaching hands and a large slobbering mouth. He shoves small children and the frail elderly into his mouth and his breath is like shit and sugar and bad foot smell all rolled into one. When children eat too much candy, it is the mudgoblin who comes after them in their sleep.

The mudgoblin does not live in the small mud box anymore; we all know that. The mudgoblin was let out who knows how long ago and today he lives with us, all of us. I see him sometimes on the western slope of the watermelon mountain. I see his open mouth and his shoveling hands and I see the lights of the city. You’ve seen them, sometimes the lights of the city that used to always be bright and singing, sometimes now they almost disappear in the mud and dust as the hobgoblin sits on the mountain side stirring up his appetite for small cars and big fat SUVs.

I make my sandwiches out of white bread, not brown, not fry bread or tortillas. Cheese doesn’t work too well on these, gets a little stinky when you been carrying it around in a sack all day.

When we get to the Chaco turnoff, the lady with the blue toenails and her husband let me off and drive down the long dirt road until they are out of sight. They leave a long breath of dust in the road behind them. I watch it for about an hour, eat my sandwich, and then walk a mile or so up the road before I get picked up by Ray Sandoval, the cousin of a friend of my uncle Jim. It’s a good ride all the way until nightfall, even though behind me I can still see the goblin dancing in the raised dust, and the blind spot where lights used to shine as the moon comes out. The edge of the road is disappearing, like a chunk of roller coaster, like a piece of a car flying through the night sky and landing metal-dead face-down, a sudden piece of quiet on the sand, still warm, still almost airborne.

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May 2020