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Malverde Days 3

by Duke Miller

(This is the Third and final story of Malverde Days for Lokkal. Thanks for reading. Duke Miller)


once a week I meet The Bullet for a game of chess in the Jardin Principal, we play with the concentration of seeds growing in fertile soil, the sun is the bronze face of General Jesus O'Malley Vazquez
He shines down astride a rearing horse above our bodies
General O'Malley is the patron saint of Malverde, his likeness is everywhere … bridges, the backs of pretty women, the muscles of evil men, gold medallions … you get the idea
The Bullet believes in General O'Malley and the metaphysical aspects of getting out of trouble
You need to know who and how to pray, it is essential, he says
They call him The Bullet because of the large lead bullet fragments in his skull placed there by a gun battle with some of his Malverdiano friends
If you place a small magnet on the side of his head, it will stick like a third ear and he claims to hear radio programs from the capital
It was a small thing, he says, oh they hurt, all the time, but I have adjusted, learned to live with it, General O'Malley has saved me
The Bullet is a big believer in General O'Malley and the intensity of his faith has put him on a solid spiritual foundation in the community


the bullet finally gets around to telling me he uses opium to ease the pain in his head, it also helps with the assholes, he says, they turn into very soft versions of themselves and I blow them away like suds in my bath … General O'Mally approves, he told me so in the fragments


the little boy, about seven-years-old, knocks on my door, in the trees all the birds are waking, chirping about cats and water
I need help, he says, so we walk hand-in-hand to an empty house a few streets over, I get the rusty latch open and he goes in with a smile
A few hours later he's back and seems to be at least ten
He asks if I can let him use the phone, sure I say and then he calls his mother in a thin voice to come and get him … mommy, mommy please … and then he hangs up and stands on the street corner like a crushed sheet of paper
Sometime in the afternoon he returns and seems to be a girl maybe eighteen-years-old, but somehow the same … hi, remember me, she asks … sure I do, come in and we talk for a while
Her voice is incomplete like light rain upon dry land and she wants to know if I can recommend a good psychiatrist
I give her Dr. Pablo's address and when she leaves, I can once again feel the minnow gods lifting me out of the wet shadow of the river, my emotions a strange cadence
Later that afternoon, after her session with Dr. Pablo, she returns, but is somehow older
She's happy that he's a psychotherapist, they discussed ketamine and yoga
After she leaves I steam beets and greens and read a thick book of poetry by a man who was tortured because of his politics, his gnarled hands changed him into a heartless judge of people, he's dead now, so the poems are speaking to me from an incurious time very, very far to the west of Malverde
During the night she calls and asks if she can come over, I tell her it's almost two a.m., but no problem and then she's suddenly there behind an African mask… the cool breeze moving the curtains … she's over thirty for sure and we talk about the book of poetry I'm reading and her plan to work in a zoo because animals don't judge people and she thinks the world is going to end soon, so why not help beautiful animals before everything is destroyed like the hands of the bitter, dead poet
Dawn arrives speaking of monsters eating the children of South Sudan and then she says she's depressed, needs to go to an all-night store, buy liquor
After she leaves I know I will never see her again
I fall asleep just as the birds are coming to life and they enter my thoughts and I sound like a violin playing the song of the little girl I know so well … her soft skin, her sad eyes and then the song ends in that spot where everything grows, changes, dies beneath the light of Malverde days


vivian lives two doors down from me, all alone in a large house that is constantly being built by ten-foot men and horses … they only work at night
I call her house the Temple of the Moon
I like to play rousing games of backgammon with Vivian
Of course, none of them are rousing at all, everything cold and silent
The dice roll like a computer freezing, our moves the age of amber
We sit across from each other eating celery, listening to the sounds of birds pecking at granite in the garden
I half joke, you're always cheating
She stares at me like a witness and announces, I'm not cheating, I'm just walking the fence line between now and what I used to be


there is a mural in Vivian's living room, it shows her old husband shaking hands with Richard Nixon in the Oval Office
Vivian used to be married to a famous politician, but he died quickly in her arms and now she dies slowly, surrounded by her help … death is sold by the bunch here
Her husband is buried in the Malverde cemetery … far away from the main wall where the grave diggers stack the coffins of those who can't pay their internment rents
Sometimes I stand near the flower sellers at the boneyard gates and absorb the petals
At night the petals come out and rustle underneath my sheets, scaring the bugs and spiders away, stopping them from nesting between my legs, my shoulder blades
Dying flowers are carrying and kind


no one can ever understand my habits, but that's the trick of writing in Malverde … making the inexplicable understandable in a warm way that satisfies who you and I are
Style is more important than content, it tells you more about emotion than facts, more about what causes one to eat a whole cherry pie at midnight or cut a purple wrist with a razor blade … both lending themselves to the color red, to all the colors of Malverde


Duke Miller is a writer and ex-refugee worker living in San Miguel de Allende. He has published four books. Living and Dying with Dogs is about his years as a emergency relief volunteer in war zones. Malverde Days is about his life in San Miguel de Allende.

See Duke's Books on Amazon


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