Danger Left Out

But there was much left out of the other account. When there are long days and nights and much drinking there can be danger and Cali has it. Yesterday the Chilean couple was robbed in the middle of the day on a busy street, one big black guy grabbing the little Chilean girl while two others pushed away her Chilean boyfriend. There was pushing and pulling and fighting but then a caleña stepped in with a knife to stop the Chilean and they ripped away the little Chilean girl’s bag and ran off. They only lost some money but the Chileans seem to have lost their will to go out.

Not far away the day before, one block from our hostel, as Hector and I were walking back 2 guys and girl came to the window of an apartment building and called out frantically to us to call the police. They had been held at gunpoint and tied up for hours while 2 men and a woman stole everything from their apartment. In fact it was a professional crew, with 5 more well-dressed and well-armed guys with earpieces working the door and the other floors, taking everything out of the 7 other apartments. Computers, tvs, jewelry, cash--they worked all 8 flats of the building and took it all and loaded it into a van parked in front.

And the other night at Menga, after the hottest girl in the club ran up to me and danced with me for 30 seconds then disappeared and Hector and I went looking for her, and when I stopped and stood to study the club from the back looking for her this fat man with glasses walked towards me and stood in front of me staring. I could see from his eyes that he was a bad man and I politely asked him what was wrong and he did not say anything. He did not stop standing in front of me staring and I did not know what to do and then a big muscular black guy came and stood behind the fat man. Hector ran up and tried to work it out and we thought we had settled whatever it was but even Hector did not understand the problem. The pretty girl had not been a part of their table.

Then I went to the bar and Hector to the bathroom and I did not know until Hector told me later that the fat man and the big black guy had followed him in. We had been to JalaJala the night before and Hector knew the bathroom attendant and when he saw the fat man and the black guy he started up a conversation with the attendant, trying to keep the attendant near him. That was when the fat man interrupted and finally spoke. He was a sicario, an assassin of the paramilitaries. It was heavy shit and he still did not know about what and Hector talked his way out of it and exited the bathroom.

We grabbed the Dutch guy who was working some caleña and forced him to leave the club. We were outside a few minutes when the fat man and the black guy walked out and the fat man got on his phone. I had visions of a hit being called in with the sicarios on motorcycles coming down from the mountains and I told the guys let’s walk quickly and grab a cab up ahead where the police were stationed.

The fat man and black guy didn’t see us as we ducked into the one room strip club owned by the one legged old man on crutches and I took the number of the black stripper I had danced with earlier. She was a pro and would no doubt cost me a lot of money if I called her. Then we ran out to a waiting cab and went back to the hostel in Granada, the Dutch guy refusing to believe the story of the assassin and annoyed we made him leave his girl at the club. But he got her number and would leave with her for Popayan the next day.

And on our first night I remember we were in a taxi on our way home from Menga and the short, dark Israeli with long hair was sitting in the passenger seat playing with a glock. He was high and fidgety on too much blow and was scaring the shit out of the taxi driver with the gun. Where did the gun come from? The Israeli talked like he had marbles in his mouth and was incomprehensible, flipping the gun from hand to hand and jittery. The Israeli girl asked him in Hebrew. He didn't know where the gun had come from. She asked him for it and he wouldn't give it to her. Finally she convinced him to give it up and there was a round in the chamber and we all felt better the gun was out of his hands. She sold the gun to a Colombian a few days later for $50.

And there was the other taxi ride the other night when three kids on the roadside hurled a rock at the open passenger side window where the blond haired Dutch guy was sitting. The rock hit the door just below the open window and the driver stopped and started to back up. We were in the car with 3 other girls and I told the driver if he is going to confront these 3 guys we are getting out right now and we won’t pay him a peso. He thought about it and then drove ahead. You had to be careful in Cali even if you weren’t a gringo.


A Cali Story

We were in the Menga club district. It was the French guys from Toulouse, the 3 German girls, Hector the Peruvian, the English guy and girl, and 2 other Colombians. I did a line with the English guy before leaving and am feeling it and I'm talking in a mixture of Spanish, French and English.

We were trying to get into Praga but it was a mess with Linda, the prettiest of the Germans, questioning whether we should go in or not because she was insistent on dancing “crossover”, a music mix of salsa, bachata, merengue and reggaeton. Hector negotiates a price at the door since we plan to buy a couple bottles but then the club cashier doesn’t have change and the night is becoming a mess. It fell apart like this a few nights earlier at Eliptica, the dance club in the jungle on the top of a mountain. All the girls left then too and I danced alone.

Its starting to rain and Hector and I have had enough and we walk off in the direction of two other clubs and walk into an open air bar with 2 dance floors. We assume the others will follow us but it doesn’t matter. Its gotten too complicated with this group anyway. We go in and order beers which come in a huge plastic cup and cost 10,000 pesos and we start to walk around the place.

We’re not in the place 10 minutes when a Caleña approaches us from behind and invites us to her table. She’s sitting with 2 other girls. Two of the girls are sisters, 20 and 21 years old, the younger light skinned and the older one a dark amber color. Hector takes the lighter skinned girl to the dance floor leaving me with the other two. They can’t stop talking about my blue eyes and I’m keeping up with the conversation pretty good until it starts to slow. A guy comes to the table and ask the black girl to dance and she brushes him away. I realize dancing is what I should be doing with her.

Hector and the other girl come back and sit down and the girl is wiping her lips. Hector’s got a grin on his face and I know he’s been kissing her. I get up and drag the black girl onto the dance floor. Its salsa and we’re moving good and I’m getting into it, leading her likes she wants to be lead, spinning her, and then into a slower song and she’s singing along. I dance her into a dark corner and start kissing her, her little tongue working around inside my mouth, her lips soft, her mouth hungry. Then she’s giggling like a school girl.

Back at the table we order a tall vessel of beer for the table and we’re talking some more and all the girls are eating up my stories of New York and Miami and Europe and they keep leaning in asking to look at my eyes. I take the black girl back onto the dance floor and we start grinding. Electronic music and reggaeton are playing now and her ass and whole body is young, voluptuous and tight--all sweet smelling soft skin, powerful hard legs and ass, her breasts natural and soft, pressed up high together in her black dress. She loves to dance and she’s singing along to the songs and we’re kissing some more.

Back at the table Hector says we should bring the sisters back to the hostel. But guests are not allowed and I’m thinking about the next morning bringing this girl out in front of the German girls and I’m not too interested in doing it. It would be fun to do though, Hector and I agree. I am about to mention a love motel to the black girl (named Sandra, I think) but she asks us to come back to their place. All three of them live together somewhere.

First we eat chorizos at a street side stand outside the club and watch the sun come up. I’m having a lot of fund watching Sandra bite away at a chorizo on a stick while sitting my lap, giggling and babbling away to me in Spanish. She's got all kinds of questions about my old novias, whether I have been with black girls before, do I like Caleñas, etc.

We finish the chorizos on a stick and take a cab back to their place and we get undressed and her body is all curves and solid, with a perfect hard shapely latina ass. Her body feels young and packed to burst.

Just as we begin fucking someone starts knocking on the front door. The front door is right next to Sandra’s room and she’s telling me to be really quiet. She’s not answering the door. I’m trying to work her slowly but the knocking continues and we’re trying not to make any noise. I ask her who it is and she says its her grandmother.

Suddenly a slat on the bed breaks with a loud crack, the bed sagging under us in the middle. We lay there laughing silently and now her grandmother is pounding on the front door. But its not her grandmother. Its some guy and he’s yelling out for Sandra and Paola. I ask her who it is and she says its her cousin. We’re both laughing quietly but I’m getting a little worried.

Now the guy is banging on the window of our room, right behind the bed. We pull the mattress off the busted bed and put it on the floor and get back to fucking with this guy banging on the window and yelling. Then he’s back hammering on the door and calling out the sister’s names. Sandra still wants us to be quiet even though this guy must have heard something going on inside.

I’m pretty fucked up from the drinking and with this guy hammering on the door and window I don’t get off and just give up. She’s all over me kissing my dick and telling me its rico and she’s singing that song again which went something like “uno beso para uno marido” and we’re just rolling around and enjoying each other. The attention of a Colombiana is something entirely different. I pass out and when I awake she’s ready for me again and now the guy banging on the door is gone and we fuck properly for awhile but I don’t get off and fall back to sleep. I’m too tired. She sucks and jerks me and wants me to come on her belly and chest but I’m too drunk. She wants to get my leche out, she says, and she wants it all over her. We wake up a few more times and mess around and we talk awhile.

We get up around 2pm and Hector comes down with the other sister dressed in a towel. She’s really cute too and the third girl is sitting on the couch and starts with all the questions. Where are we staying, what’s the phone number, and Sandra is trying to get me to promise to call her and take her to the horse parade today. I’m glad I don’t have my phone working and I give them a little information about where Hector and I are staying but I don’t even know where the hostel is. The third girl writes out the phone numbers for both sisters and Sandra pulls me back into her room to say goodbye. Hector goes upstairs with Paola to do the same. We mess around a bit and we come back to the front door and all say goodbye to each other.

Hector and I walk into the hostel around 3pm with the German girls and the English girl staring at us. They were asking about us all morning. I’m mysterious about where I was and what happened and take a shower and go to my room. Hector and I are planning on going to a concert tonight. He’s my age and a good rolling buddy, has lived in New York and traveled much of the world, and being Peruvian can handle the Spanish when I run into trouble.



She will give you no higher compliment than to call you a child: boyish, immature, irresponsible, and underdeveloped. If you can get her to make this compliment with much yelling and crying, or maybe slamming a door behind her or by breaking a plate or a glass, you will have received this compliment in its ideal presentation.



Men cannot be changed, though their circumstances can be. But do not think to change other men. Rather go to where other men are different.


For 4130.2010

At least you have made an account of this nonsense because it is a good account and you have written it truly.

But there are sufferings that a man brings upon himself by choosing a path of conflict with other men and their systems, and then there are the private sufferings which are a man's own, that maybe the world knows nothing about and never will.

I think you bear a private suffering you are as yet not articulate enough to express to yourself--as to express it would be to understand it, to find a language that would make sense of it. Instead you have chosen a public suffering to distract you from what you feel privately but which remains most obscure to you.

It is an easier path to suffer publicly--to suffer among other men, at their hand, to be forced about and prodded and paraded around by their systems. To suffer publicly at the hand of lawyers and courts and jails makes a type of suffering manifest in a way that one's private suffering cannot so easily be made.

I think what you are calling an “adventure” is a placeholder for a more serious and private adventure you do not yet have the equipment to make. You may gather this equipment at some point, but these adventures among other men and their systems (misadventures really) will only distract you from the hard, lonely, silent work of gathering the tools to approach and overcome yourself.

Maximin and I both left the world of men for more than 10 years to perform this work and study. We did it in different ways but it was brutal, exhilarating, spirit-crushing and spirit-soaring. We were both very right and very wrong along the way and we went up the highest mountains that a man can climb from a small, cockroach-filled room in a friendless, empty town. There were no girls, no friends, no families, no jobs, no careers, no vacations, no tvs--nothing. It was 10 years of reading and writing, communing with other men long dead, who had done as we were doing and had left their account of it.

What I am trying say is that you are distracting yourself from some fucking hard work you may need to do. 10 years of hard study is the only way to get to where I think you want to go. Our guy Franz has written eloquently of the jail and trial and the incarceration so that you do not have to. He has written of it so well that you do not need to experience it. Brother Franz was that good.

What you must also recognize is that The Castle has no end. Franz just stops writing it. The systems of men do not have an end. If you choose to adventure inside them it will be your only adventure, an adventure administered to you by other men.

There is nothing private in such an adventure. Saying that it is “in your mind” does not make it a private adventure. It is a cowardice, a retreat, to speak of a “world of the mind.” There is no such world. You--your body--is being pushed around by other men. That is your world, and when men touch you and have a hold of you, when men take your fluids and tell you where to go and you are made to do their projects, then you will be too distracted to ever develop a project of your own, to explore the private sufferings that await you and pass through them, to overcome and to strike a new path and maybe, if you are lucky, to leave some sort of account of this great overcoming.

But as I wrote above you need 10 years of silent, preparatory work to gather the equipment for this adventure. You will find you have it in you to spend 10 years preparing for this journey, or you will not. Most men lack the courage and the will to leave the world of other men and prepare themselves for what is obscured and private. They look for shortcuts among other men, and it often takes the form of a public suffering. These are the unfortunates. Their lives are privately troubled by something they lack the will to engage and express and so they choose to suffer it publicly.

It is my observation that you are pursuing this unfortunate path. But there is time to change it. You must discontinue the public suffering and withdraw from the world of men. You must go to where it is most private and secret, the most lonely of terrains, the higher blue peaks, only sometimes visible in the distance.

When you have climbed that high and lived and worked there for 10 years you may come down from those mountains. Men will seem very different to you, but they will not have changed, for man does not change. This is work best done when you are in your teens and twenties, but it is work that can be done at any age, though it is harder to commit to it when you are older.

The question is how to live and each man who asks this question must develop his own vocabulary to ask it. With hard work and luck you may come to understand the question. The luck I can wish for you, but the hard work must be your own.


Against Sitting

Where reading and writing and it all goes wrong is in the sitting. So when it feels very wrong you get up and you take trips. But trips go wrong too when they are scheduled, and they are scheduled because you have committed yourself to returning to sitting.

So you do something entirely different.

You make a trip without a schedule and you have no plans to return to any sitting. There will be no more reading and writing or any of the other stuff and it is hard at first to think that those things will be gone and as the date approaches that you will leave you wonder if maybe you were wrong to decide to go on a trip without a schedule, a trip without an end. When again would the sitting come? When will the important writing be completed?

But then the trip starts, and it is a trip by bicycle, and it starts in the rain and at a high altitude and you have only a very poor map and a child’s vocabulary with which to speak to the people of a foreign place.

When you see the mountains from the airplane window they scare you, they scare the sitting and the writing and reading all away. You forget those things because you must ride a bike over these mountains. Something now is taking you forward and you must abide by it.

You put your bicycle together in the airport and you ride out into the night. The next day you ride up 2 mountains in the rain and into the clouds and the man who contributed the bike for you to ride has his wish of great suffering for you fulfilled. The contributor of the bike said that you would endure great pain and great suffering and now you are enduring them, but the cold and rain and the altitude forced upon you are greater than the wish of suffering you thought you had received. But you cannot stop to sit.

The suffering you endure and will endure is what you must ride into. The mountain is in your way and you must go over it on the bicycle. The suffering of the stomach and intestines will come later and so will the gales of the Patagone. The sufferings are all there waiting and your bicycle is riding towards them. You are being pulled along and it is a very different “being pulled along” than what the others are doing in their jobs and careers and marriages and families--because this is a “being pulled along” that you have created for yourself and committed yourself to and now it is done.

You start with a bad map and child’s vocabulary and the strength for 2 mountains and maybe you will die and the bicycle will stop and everyone will cry and then everyone will forget. But there is also the chance that you will endure through all the sufferings and finish the map, and you will depart from this place with the vocabulary of a man and a strength for all the mountains.



Murmur of the Heart

The interpreters of Sophocles were wrong. The son does not wish to kill the father. He wishes nothing on the father. The father is almost nothing to him. Unlike the mother he is mostly unnecessary.

As the son's lust is for many women--any woman even--he does not wish to fuck his mother, though his mother may wish to fuck him. Whether or not she wants him physically, she will have tried to make of him the perfect man, the man she has perfected for herself, made in the image of what she most wanted from the men she has known. Along with the investment of his upbringing she also shares with him half his genes and this makes for a powerful tie between them, stronger than anything she could have with his father. At the very least the mother will want the son to be near to her for life and to replace the father.

It is the father’s realization of her love for the son that leads him to want to kill the son. There is no jealousy or animosity between father and son before this realization. For fathers do not matter to sons. Verily, it is only mothers matter.


Response to a Reader

I think your criticisms are correct [of the short story "Grisaille"]. On all counts.

Though you did fail to point out how unsympathetic a character Mooney was in all this. If Mooney-- as in "mooning" someone (yes, another one thinly veiled)-- was intended as a stand-in for me, I am being critical of myself in this characterization. Maybe I am. Or I was. I can't remember. The story was written years ago.

I do not think what I remember of you is very much like Devita and whatever you are today I know nothing about. Although 10 years ago when I lived in Paris and began to write it it was you and I in that first version and that was a very different story then. With editing and time the characters became something other. That Devita has never drunk scotch, sells furniture, is married, and has a pregnant wife (did you catch that?) is how he developed, and you didn't.

It's an early story of mine, and you may be right: it may be no good. I won't get into a discussion of truth and fiction, or what it means to be a true writer, or being a man, or even Chatwin, but I will say that when you try to create something you use the things and people and places you know about and then--and this is the exciting and the difficult part--you change them in different ways for an effect. This is the work of the imagination but it is also based upon some fact. While this story seems to have not worked out, you keep trying and you learn from the failures and you hope that with luck and harder work and better training you can achieve that thing you are after.




(from the words of E. Cannefax)

I met a couple a guys
all hopped up comin' in from Denver;
One was acting ... I don't even remember
not too concerned about his health
Like really, yeahhard on your body, liver &
yeast in your stomach
compounded by poor eating habits
with nowhere near the proper amount of rest
a lot stay up all night,
not a good right thing goin'

Well, this guy he wasn't ready to go
to bed
he was all zooed up
your body's gonna give in and shut down.
Something will definitely give way
so watch 'em on that tollway in Ohio.

August 5, 1995
Copyright © Moraline Free