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Callaloo 23.1 (2000) 151-167
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On The Eve of the Hurricane *
Part 1: In the Family
And who can stop them now? -- For again they are returning, yes, the dreams and all that they carry, light, noise, color, returning even well before the voice of that time farther back in the past that will soon emerge from the hurricane building outside his window and within and, in the tones of one who witnessed it all, begin narrating the twisting byways of his tale that will recall him as he was at that time and still is, a golden man who (as he will remember it) would in the company of one thousand others walk northward across the sea from a warm land of rivers and mountains, a land of light, noise, color, gunshots fired upon that fleeing company by pursuing soldiers and carried on those same swirling winds in which the dreams first are now returning, so much noise, blight, fragmentation, the smell of shit on a billy club and yes once more a pair of desert eyes, laughing: no, now they are crying, lonely and O how they are facefacing him with yes the irrefutable truth that all in them, every secret and hidden shadow, reflects all in his own, uh huh: yes, of course, those eyes above him there gazegazing down at him on that metal table where for so many days, nights, weeks and filled with color and fragmentation he had lain on that metal table in that darkened concrete room so far beneath the ground in that time that had stretched well before this hour in which the hurricane is building outside his window and which in only a few minutes will return again, so relentless is time, he thinks, what does it care, why should it worry, it never worries, it has no feeling, you are nothing to it, he thinks, to it you are merely this *: -- that time in the concrete room having stretched before the night he had in the company of those others fled the gunshots echoing down off those skulking cliffs above the beach and splashed into the sea to step up on it and walk toward no one knew what but away from those volleys, after a journey of who could remember how many nights and days winding up where he is now, which is in a bluelit room of shifting shadows on the third floor of a twilit inn crouched low on a narrow street of soughing palms soughing, whispering, sighing, leaning and all leading down to the sea at the outer edge of a murmuring city of dreams at the end of the world, known far and wide since time immemorial to travelers both dreaming and awake only as the lost and landswept City of Illusions: where he is now, on that bed and holding that sleeping man next to him, that man who is notdead he insists, but as the winds of that unceasing hurricane filled with voices again begin to blow, he will not be in that inn's light-shifting room holding that man whose very face might be a cipher to him and whose story he does not know, no: not there, but (and who can stop it now?) back once more in the time that he remembers as it happened, as he lived-died it, as the golden man he was and yet will be, is: lying in utter darkness in that subterranean room, the memory of lighted cigarettes approaching his testicles when all of them who laughed and [End Page 151] shouted questions once more turned on the bright bright lights: yes, there again, hands manacled behind his back, blindfold about his eyes, gag in his mouth, torso and legs exposed for the the and seeing again the cringing cowering he who was I, he thinks: even then I was golden, yes, of course, ever since he was a child, uh huh, just like the rest of them on that lovely high hilltop he came from, uh huh, but not always on that table...