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From The Mexico Station, Report #3

by Duke Miller

I have decided not to let my maid into the house. She is too afraid, so I will pass a month's salary to her through the mail slit on the front gate. Her hands will be small and delicate at the opening. She worries about someone cutting off her fingers. She says it will hamper her ability to mop and dust. She knows someone who lost their fingers. I explain what gloves of chain mail are. She is interested as I play my role in the culture of patrónismo in Mexico.

If I catch the plague, it will probably kill me since I have underlying medical conditions. My lungs are shot. My dick is limp. My eyes leak acid. My spine is twisted. My nightmares are legion. (Where am I?) My stomach is a boiling vat of bullshit. I'm losing my mind, as the rest of this Report #3 From The Mexico Station will bear out.

I am not a religious man, far from it. You can find me with the forsaken poor. They understand me when I mutter. The Indians in Central America accepted me as one of their own. I told them I was not, but they just kept beating their fists into the sandbar fire and then I said, "Okay, I'm just like you."

I know somebody who loves songwriter Townes Van Zandt. She lives around the corner. He wrote:

"Won't you lend your lungs to me? Mine are collapsing, plant my feet and bitterly breathe up the time that's passing. Breath I'll take and breath I'll give, pray the day's not poison, stand among the ones that live in lonely indecision."


Townes Van Zandt
***

Townes probably never understood his lyrics as secret warnings about a plague taking over humanity's lungs, but then maybe he did. He had that look in his eyes, that perception without name that trades across time. His eyes had been worked upon and people reacted accordingly with dismay, love, and appreciation, but his look could never see any of that, and so he moved on down the line.

We build and lessen ourselves with cells and sometimes they scar us, but please know that in my world, scars are not necessarily ugly. They can be a form of madness and injury, but also armor, honor, even love. Everything depends upon the person. Day after day our silhouette of life takes shape. With luck, there will be extraordinary events you might survive, but after the clean-up and the last truck departs, you will try to reconcile your thoughts with the daily movement of life, the chatter of inexperience, the face of fools. You must try to compensate for what you have become. You have to guard against your feelings of intolerance, because it is always there, ready to show itself in addiction, suicide, crime, arguments, lack of sleep, lost jobs, mistreated lovers, broken promises. You have to become hardened against what others say. Although you try, still it wounds. The question is always there: will you harm yourself and others?

I am writing this because the plague has given me time to remember. Not in the way of momentary thoughts, but rather a full recounting of my actions and words in the past. I am partial to the past. I love it more than the future. Unfortunately, I have a very good memory. I am rereading Arrival and Departure, by Arthur Koestler. I mentioned the novel to my publisher and he said he had never heard of Koestler. My publisher is a MIT and Harvard graduate, a nuclear scientist, a holder of patents, a rich man living on Long Island, his property adjoins Jackson Pollack's studio. He also has a triplex in Brooklyn; he owns a yacht and a Brough Superior SS 100, the same make and model of the motorcycle Lawrence of Arabia was driving when he killed himself.


Arthur Koestler
***

Yet, my publisher knew nothing of Koestler: about how he was a refugee and a spy; how he wrote with blood; how he had that look in his eyes. My publisher's confusion proves that all of us are ignorant of even the mightiest. Koestler wrote Darkness at Noon, which ranks side-by-side with 1984. I consider Arrival and Departure to be the greatest book ever written about refugees. The main character, Peter Slavek, is a refugee who has been badly tortured. His trauma is central to his existence. Everything he does is fumbling … smiles are tight lips, sex is rape, love is obsession, forgiveness is unobtainable. The setting is a small town, filled with political refugees, where people are isolated, fearful, and waiting for a fascist invasion. Peter Slavek is a doomed man. As I read the book, almost every page reminds me of Mexico and how we are all waiting for something terrible. Yet, we have time to think and consider our mortality, our past, our mistakes, our crimes. In a way, this is a luxury. Imagine if you were a refugee, living in a camp of hundreds of thousands, surrounded by war. The population would be old people and the very young. Everything dirty, with little water and then the plague arrives, in the night, with the kiss of someone you love.

When you are feeling bad, watch the refugee and displaced camps. It'll make you feel better about being in your house. The plague will kill them quickly and very few of us will help them as they fall like the bougainvillea petals in May. ("Breath I'll take and breath I'll give, pray the day's not poison, stand among the ones that live in lonely indecision.")

For some reason, I could not fit how the past, present, and future are part of our genetic makeup. I must include that in Report #4 From The Mexico Station. I've already written it, but it somehow seems out of place with all of the bullshit above. Signing off from Mexico, Duke Miller.

**************

Duke Miller: I just found out Heather Stewart died two years ago. She was my bush pilot. We flew together into Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, and Ethiopia. She inherited the legacy of Beryl Markham of West with the Night fame. When Heather moved to Kenya and started flying, Beryl advised her, but, over time, Heather made her own legend. She would literally fly anywhere. We landed on terrible strips in the middle of war zones over a three year period. I could always count upon her. She had an impeccable flying record. As you might have guessed, despite her high risk life, she died of natural causes, at home on the Kenyan coast. RIP Heather, one of a kind.

Saying Nothing in Particular, by J.T. Twissel

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