Friday, January 7, 2011

Making the Rounds, No Ju-Ju Here

He knew he’d done this every time, first he had no control
over the war, but neither did his mother, and look what
happened, no father any of us ever knew . . . and she was
heartbroken, no wonder I can skip the rest of the history
and come straight here, to the scene of the crime and how
she died. I don’t mean no Black Dahlia L.A. story, no, this
is natural death I’m talking about, but plenty of guilt to go
around. And here I am, he said in closing opening remarks
to thyself, he quipped. He was heartsick. That’s what you
call it. So he went down to the bar where Rocky was behind
the bar, he was here now when he'd been gone the first time
and since they hadn’t talked since a long time before the event
Rocky told someone to take over, took him down the street
and they drank café, thick chicory, and had what was on
the bar to eat. Pig’s feet, as he recalled later, the next day,
at Mama Ju-Ju's, who liked to say Mother Nell, Madame Doll
and said it now, or will as soon as we get through with Rocky
who says she died in bed, though he doesn’t know who with.
That sobered him right up. Maybe he was butting in like this,
asking around, but goddam she was his mother, his only one,
and he had an obligation to find out what it was like for her
to die since nobody, chiefly him, had the compunction then
to be around here after moving on out of town, to Chicago,
IL, or San Francisco, CA, or Albuquerque, NM, yeah fucked
was what he was, the ju-ju mama would say, he frightened
himself with such self-recrimination, and thought of Roman
baths where the stoics sliced their veins and watched blood
pour freely, he could see it in some half-assed Hollywood film
and immediately left to go back to Hotel HOTEL and make
a call to you know who, she was all comfy, she said, warm.
He didn’t say anything, and she asked if everything was OK
and he said, Sure, okey-dokey, baby, and she liked to laugh
at that expression. She wanted him to come home as soon
as he could and he knew she would say that so he said I will
and there was nothing else left to say at least for now, he hung
up and lay back on the goddam bed again and wanted nothing
–not any more, he had it all, why in the hell didn’t he arrive
before now, because he didn’t care or because he didn’t leave
in time, not ever, and now there was no sense crying about that,
you better figure it out, son, go out and find the place she died
and you know where that is, this time you need to knock on
the door, they don’t like to read notes, too many dun letters
coming through the mail slot, over the transom, hard being
what you are where you are now that when you are is over.

(7 January 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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