Sightseeing & No Name Maddox

During my time in Central America, I thought about a lot of things. I thought about God. I thought about death. I thought about life and living. I thought about going back to school. Getting married. “What in the world am I gonna do when I get back?” I’d ask myself. I thought about how my family needed to see and experience what I was seeing and experiencing… How much father would’ve enjoyed something like this. How my friends wouldn’t understand.

On the night before I was to make the 8-hour drive-hike-walk-hitchhike to an awaiting twin-engine passenger plane in Tegucigalpa, I made one last stroll to the waterfall just off the Paraiso line.

To this day, it’s the most beautiful place I have ever been. The water was loud—the kind of loud that’s almost silent. Like how silence can be deafening, I guess. I never knew what that meant ‘til then.

This is the place I would go when I was homesick. I’d go there when I was so hungry, I couldn’t eat. I’d go to the waterfall to sing and act like I knew how to play the harmonica. I’d talk to God, right out loud as if He were standing directly in front of me. It’s funny; if ever He’s been in front of me, it was at that waterfall.

I stepped to the third rock from the center of the ideal vantage point. One time, I composed a poem on that rock. I didn’t write it down and do not remember how it goes.

I was terrified as I started to fall. And then I fell. I could no longer hear the roar of the water, but I could see the stars on my way down. I think I was smiling, believe it or not.

*****

Jose blew smoke rings from his chair in the corner of the room. I taught him that. I’ve never been a smoker, per se, but I love to blow rings and act like a silent film star like Harold Lloyd or Buster Keaton.

The smoke smelled good—refreshing. My head hurt. My leg hurt. It felt like someone was pouring hot wax on my shoulder and back.

“Como esta, Usted?”

Jose had never added the respectful “Usted” at the end of his greeting to me.

“Fine. What happened, here?” I asked. “And why are you looking at me like that?”

“Nosotros lo encontramos en las piedras. Usted cayó una manera larga. Todos lo pensaron era muerto, gringo.”

“Oh, for the love of God, Jose. Speak English!”

I had been in Honduras for more than 5 months, and still couldn’t understand when The Dragon spoke. He sounded like an intoxicated auctioneer, and it infuriated me.

“We found you on the rocks,” he said. “Why did you jump?”

*****

Why did you jump? “Oh! The waterfall! Oh, my god… My harmonica! Wait… what did you just say?”

They honestly thought I was trying to end my life… Thought I was taking the never-ending swan dive to (kaput!) Instead, I found myself in traction, on a pee-stained bed, in a roach infested room for three and a half weeks. I had broken my leg and shoulder and torn most of the flesh from my back.

When I finally arrived at the Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport, I was 40 pounds lighter, and walking with a cane. I looked like a young Charlie Manson—what with my long hair and beard.

*****

Charles Manson was born in Kentucky in 1934 as “No Name Maddox”—The unwanted child of a prostitute. He spent his youth in foster homes. He was a small, sickly boy exposed to alcohol, prostitution, and excessive abuse. In 1967 he moved to San Francisco where he led a cult following of 20 runaways and petty criminals… mostly women. The “Family,” as they were called, killed people—including actress Sharon Tate—for fun and because Charles told them to:

(kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput! kaput!)

And so on and so on and so on…

Anyway, I looked like him.

Bygones.

My mother burst into tears as I exited Terminal C-13. It was the first I’d seen her cry since the funeral.

12. The Funeral, Sex on the Beach & Sex.

13. THE Test & a Mountain out of a Molehill.

14. A Sticky Situation & Bazooka Bubble Gum.

15. Joy Follows Sorrow.

16. I Am The Greyhound.

 

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