martes, marzo 29, 2011

Exile on Bowery /Exilio en Bowery - Chapter one

 Israel Centeno




I was taking my second tequila shot in a dark bar placed in the alleys of Bowery, when Erwin the negro showed up with that sneer that doesn’t finish in laughter, but it denote his mock, his particular mock towards everything that we usually define as human or vital.
-What’s up?
-Charlie wants to see you –He said to me- he has work for us.
I pulled an angry face, some gestural flap. I was tired. I hurried my drink. Two years in shit without the faintest hope of rising up with a good project in this country where the wise move and the opportunities are not as easy as they told. When, after the drastic reduction of the bureaucracy, the cultural foundations closed their doors and we ended up on the streets: teachers, liberal arts graduates, writers of every kind of shit, started the Diaspora without caring if the devil itself ended up taking the whole nation to that place where he shouldn’t ever took it out. I grab my jacket and I put the scarf around my neck; I was wondering what crazy thing has popped up into the professor’s mind this time. I wanted to take another drink, but, according to Erwin, time was getting on.

We went to the cold afternoon of Bowery and walked brushing the shoulders against the sandstone walls. There was a hostile wind. God knows how much I needed a drink. The vagrants were making a circle around improvised bonfires; the little stores gave off a smell of antique things, the beggars constantly besieged. God, I needed a drink to get to the subway.

Sandoval & Tapia, the recently created and important sign of cultural projects for the latino world, took place in an office at the 40th floor of a skyscraper from where one can see the profile of the Brooklyn bridge. The elevator opened its doors leaving Erwin the negro and me get out of that terrible coffin of the 50’s.
Charlie was comfortably sited in a leather armchair. He had in front of him a big desk of embossed wood, polished in a very mediocre way, where he rested his short bunny legs on. The little man still kept the William Shoes, a Christmas gift of a native set of television where his brother, the martyr of resistance, worked sometime, who at first take up arms in the wooded areas of Caricuao, he died of amoebic dysentery after indescribable suffering.

-So? – Charlie Sandoval (the bunny) blurted out while he bit the tip of a cigar.

-Sup? –I answered this man that had been recontextualized after the exile, legitimizing his resemblance to Groucho Marx, now in New York, with a background that let us see Manhattan’s bay. We stare at each other for a few seconds in order to create the needed ambiance that must exist when it’s going to be stated a crazy proposal.

-What have you heard of Tapia, the Viejo? - asked, while he spitted a piece of tobacco.

-Nothing. Last time I saw him was after the pension’s scandal, when we had to arrange his escape out of the country.

-He deserves it – said Erwin the negro, that never could hide his dislike towards Tapia-. Everyone knows that the woman that was found in that pension was brutally flagellated in the buttocks, precisely with a whip number five, the Viejo’s favorite.

We kept quiet once again. I noticed how they have engraved the sign of the agency in the frosted glass of the door. After giving two long puffs onto the cigar, Charlie restarted the conversation.

-Precisely, that entire problem was nothing more but a smoke screen. Of course, we had to put it a little bit of reality, matter that Tapia didn’t bother, but as you know, we are here with significant intentions-. I felt how my stomach softened up and I coughed. –In his vacations in Puerto Rico, the Viejo is after something big. I have my reasons to believe that the finish of this exile has started, lizard. He knew that I was very sensitive to the mocks that had something to do with animals of cold blood. I banged the palm of one of my hands with the fist closed, just how I’ve seen that character of the comics doing.

-Holy shit! You know I don’t like when you call me lizard… bunny!

-Take it easy, tó. Be quiet. Drink it with a soda. The thing with that snake that left you has no importance right now. This time we have the return solved, the sky is the limit. The mysteries of power have been revealed to me, and I’m pursuing three archaic elements that would restore us far beyond of the cultural foundations, far beyond of the institutionality. We’ll turn back in a ship of glory, we will turn back to our lives, tó –he opened his eyes like a maniac while he puffed on his cigar over and over again.

-We will return to our readings, to the masterly classes, we will be more than a simple editorial of the state, we will be The Editorial. The Poet. The Narrator. The Essayist. Nobody has ever had as much as power as we will have, and we would owe everything to the Viejo, we would owe everything to the three archaic elements that would make us invincible.

-What? –we asked at the same time-. You’re not thinking about the Soneto de Aguirre again, and the other stuff, right?

Sandoval with that disgusting vice recently acquired of smoking four dollars’ habanos, had the paroxistic look of the overdosed by amphetamines. For a moment I almost believed that the poor bunny was going crazy. A terrible short circuit threatened our now weak stability in the north, place where sometime everyone desired to go to.

If Charlie went crazy, we could see ourselves as fugitive homeless of immigration on the streets of Bowery. Since we exiled, we have been trying to stabilize ourselves and bear the uproot. We read once again the old manuals of the communist party, with the purpose of create organized cells of a body that should have survived in a tough reality. Charlie and Tapia organized themselves, and the rest of us were fighting on the streets of Brooklyn and Bronx, facing the implacable mobs, the marked territories, the caprice of the New Yorker justice. Our objective was to find cultural latino values to promote them, though sometimes we were forced to participate in the selling of crack and other weeds in order to solve quickly our more urgent problems, food.

Behind that investigation of artistic expressions, it was hiding a very original claim. We should find the trace of a sonnet, of a Polynesian statuette and a star of seven blunt tips. Why? For reasoning there were Sandoval and Tapia, the satanic duo: the dynamic duo that would evolve in an agency of representations, in the point of necessary junction of who may have any information about the three elements that we were looking for. In that office of the 40’s, passed ponchos’ manufacturer, virtuous of the small five-stringed guitar (charango), the best dancers of Dominican merengue, suppliers of Ron Bacardi, dealers of copies of Rivera’s and Khalo’s paintings. Each of them left a piece of the puzzle that patiently were placing our sinister heroes.

-Listen – Charlie took out of his desk a bundle of sheets-. According to Tapia, Aguirre’s sonnet was in Puerto Rico, and the evidence of this is that he talked with the resurrected Maelo. Yes, look at these pictures-. The pictures revealed a shorty man, of short legs and thick thighs. His nose was wide, like the paw of a cat, and a grey, dense beard. He was hugging Tapia, the Viejo, which, even if he wasn’t looking too well, was trying his best to keep a wide smile that wrinkled his face. In the middle of them, squatting, there was a mulata, really good looking and young, of dense dreadlocks burned by the sun. Her carnival teeth expressed voluptuousness that carry all of us, looking at the picture, to catch our genitals, like if we were catching a rolling in third base.

-The Viejo wasn’t in a terrible spite because M.C, the one of the whip lashes in Brooklyn, was gone? -asked Erwin using his green card to help him sniffing a line of cocaine…-and he searched there in Manhattan, and he searched there in the Bronx, he wrote bullshit in the walls about crack smokers, he was a poet: listen New York, cold city, show me your heart…or that other Neruda’s miasma of kissing me on the lips that you’ve told me, only death can tear us apart…

-Shut up, dumbass! Listen, bastards, this is the encrypted diary of Tapia. We all know about his habit of writing in diaries. We all know about the existence of hundreds of notebooks of the ninja turtles that gave him company since he came out of Antofagasta. He always has been serious about that of the legacy, if not historical, then literary. Watch this, boys -. I asked the negro to hand me some perico to endure so much shit- we are in front of a manuscript with a background of sea- (This crazy lunatic throw up Cortázar). I sniff hard and sharply, I closed my eyes and wait for the warm knock on the temple-. A letter in a bottle- (Poe, this has no turning back). Another touch of snow let that certain hope took place inside my chest-. A return to the homeland-(now he’s rubbing into our faces he’s knowledge of Venezuelan’s literature of the XIX century, which was off topic, we’re fucked up). This is important. Because of this I called you, lizard. Excuse me, tó. Because of this I want you by my side, closing lines, now it’s time, gentlemen. My proposal is to pack our bags and go after the different paths pursuing the three archaic elements. The moment has grown. Concluding, like you already know, we should build ourselves out of this three figures, before that Mandibula and his dancers of Tamunangue, on the contrary, we are fucked up. We have to produce the plan because each one of them is placed in different spots. We should find them and collect them, getting around of the threaten of our enemies. And when we have them all together: the apotheosis, like Blanco Fombona would say. The end, like Fortoul said. Gentlemen, here is the diary –he puffed on his habano, that creak sparkling-. True word.

Immediately, he opened the notebook that had the ninja turtles in action in its cover. Erwin the negro and I look for comfort in the seats in front of Charlie’s embossed wood desk, but first we went to the decanter and brought with us two cups and a bottle of Old Crow, excellent whiskey, distilled in the basement of a house of people from Margarita, neighbors of the Bowery.