Six - Letter from James to Pedro
Hola, amigo. I didn't hear back
from you so I figured I'd write again. Three giant ducks are moving
away from the canal fifty feet in front of me. Two are black, one
white. They walk purposefully, far more upright than I thought
possible for a duck, and from here they appear to be fully competent
to use tools. It becomes harder and harder to keep my thoughts away
from fantasies of the Apocalypse.
Standard roadkill in these parts is
not ducks, but alligators. I have not seen one to-date on this
journey, but my last time here they were everywhere, so I suspect
still are. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if one climbed out of the
canal as I write and consumed a duck or a small child. Et voila! No,
just a shadow blown by the wind.
What I have seen are giant iguanas
sunning on the concrete embankments of the estuaries, infant-size
lizards with fans behind their heads running on two legs across
parking lots, a possum the size of a microwave, geckos which are not
geckos, one of which crosses the screen porch as I write and at
least one more of which does not, long-tailed black winged creatures
with a cry like the death of the industrial age, and many more
beings which ought to be extinct or not yet evolved.
A small boy, perhaps eight, just
ran across my view away from the canal. What was it that scared him?
It could have been anything. He made it, this time.
An old woman leads a huge loping
black shepherd on a leash. Non-geckos head in that direction. His
coat is much too heavy for him in these temperatures. The slow but
inexorable pressure of the earth tries to squeeze him into a
You might remember our old friend
O' Dowd who drove down from the Blue Ridge on Monday to see the show and
do some drinking. Eight hundred miles into the heart of hell and
paradise. He was filled with stories of West Virginia police
brutality and the methamphetamine haze of previous decades. Sitting
on the beach drinking beer we managed to conceive a half-dozen
contingency plans to be resorted to if the primary goal of not
having to make a living in any recognizable way fails. A few are
also available just to alleviate the painful boredom of
We met a girl who O'Dowd believes
has involved herself with heroin. No tracks were visible, so if it's
true it must be going in some other way. But what a human she was. A
little disturbing to be able and allowed to see that far into a
person's eyes. She could be seeing the world as so many beating
hearts of varying sizes, so many greedy or generous hands, so many
voices willing to tell the truth or unaware what it would even be if
it could be told.
Many drinks later we found
ourselves on the screen porch playing music, near-geckos crawling in
and out of the guitars to try to find the ideal vibration. By 5 in
the morning our fingers were bleeding and the lizards were asleep,
so we called it quits.
By the time of the show on
Wednesday I found some parts of the script had been erased from my
neurons, one or two words at a time, but I skipped them without much
compunction. I'll carve them back in for the next performance. It
isn't one or two words that conveys the story anyway, or even all of
the words, but the faith with which we approach each retelling.
Sometimes the words are as much in the way as they are the vehicle
of communication. I think a great thing to do would be to perform
English plays for non-English speaking audiences. I experienced the
opposite thing in Sao Paolo at an international theater festival
almost a decade ago. I couldn't understand a word much of the time,
but some of the pieces worked anyway. Before long I'll be back in
New York. I need to fly back for a day right before the show down
here ends, to take an audition for a couple of upcoming tours. A big
London-based producer has evidently rejected the idea of working
with the U.S. actor's union, so two of his shows are touring as
non-union productions, much to everyone's surprise. I wonder what
that might mean about the climate for labor unions in general in the
next few years. I for one am going to try to make a list of the
corporations that might have a vested interest in abolishing Actor's
Equity who could be working behind the scenes to make these
non-union tours happen. Try to make sure that "Corporate
Conspiracy" is one of the search topics that leads directly to
The Goliard. That should attract a new breed of frustrated reader.
In the meantime, I will search the
Burroughs letters for information about heroin addiction,
specifically re: alternative means of ingestion.
And speaking again of Mr. B., it
was on this date 47 years ago that he wrote Allen Ginsberg from
Tangier and included this parenthetical comment: "(When I was a
child I thought you saw with your mouth. I remember distinctly my
brother telling me no, with the eyes, and I closed my eyes and found
out it was true and my theory was wrong.)"
Adios por favor,