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.