I went to hang up the wash tonight after my friend left. That job plus the helicopters droning, calmed me down. My friend came with bad news and it’s true, life is fragile, so I decided to post this story. I wish I had something really funny to post tonight, but this will have to do. I wouldn’t post it all because it was once rejected by a publisher here in Barcelona for being too racy, but of all the stories I’ve ever read to an audience, this is the one that got the biggest applause.
My son is standing in the kitchen on a wooden stool. He cuts a carrot for his hamster and in his high squeaky voice writes a Zenlike line in his bright blank book. “You don’t need to be tall to see things.”
I wrote poems long before my son was born. Now that I know him I realize he has always been my muse.
This is easy to understand.
His latest dream is about a world blanketed by snow. Snow on everything he says, trees, buildings, cars, streets, shops, buses, dogs, people—nothing moves, there is only silence, it’s a new planet, a new galuzy.
I tell him. You’re always having these New World dreams where some amazing and beautiful transformation takes place.
What do you dream, mommy?
At that particular moment, a frozen spitball was sitting in my gut.
I dream that I come back to life.
He gave me a look. Did you die?
When I stopped dreaming.
We are sitting side by side on the sofa facing the TV. I kiss the top of his head. I breathe the soapy smell in his soft hair. I close my eyes and make a wish: let time freeze this moment.
Mommy? Are you dreaming now?
That’s exactly what I’m doing. How did you know? Dreaming on the sofa. I open my eyes wide. It scares him.
Let’s make popcorn, mommy. And watch Roseanne in English. And stay up real late.
I look at him. He has grey shadows under his eyes. Too grey for a ten year old.
Nine o’clock lights out buddy.
That’s not fair.
What are you? An anarchist?
He has no idea what that word means. He inserts the videotape we have made of six Roseanne episodes. Darlene comes on the screen.
He wants to know what an ownarist is.
There’s one, I say, pointing to Darlene.
He returns gloomily to the sofa, I’m not a girl.
That night I smoked too many cigarettes and wrote a short story while my son dreamed he turned into a seal.
It’s obvious that this story was inspired by my son’s malapropisms and puns. “The Package” is about an absent-minded anarchist who gives up politics and gets a job as a motorcycle messenger. Everything is going along well until one day, someone steals the delivery box from the back of his bike. He curses in the street for a moment. “Me caigo en la leche, hijo de puta, cabron, gilipollas,” then he gets back on the bike and darts in and out of the heavy traffic going down Balmes. Before he crosses Pelayo, he stops off at the Heidelberg and has a beer at the bar. A few doors down, he picks up the two packages he has to deliver. He leaves one on the back of the bike while he makes his first stop. A foreign looking woman opens the door as an extraordinary, almost blinding attraction draws him to her. It’s not because this woman is beautiful, nor does she have supernatural powers, but he recognizes in her eyes the same wild lonely hunger that bores a hole in his chest every day. His ancient life looks back at him through the tunnels of her eyes. He doesn’t notice the aluminum crutch she leans on. For many years, this woman has been hoping some man would look at her like this and see her deep, powerful intelligence and true inner beauty. He is shorter than she is, but she believes in God. It is God who then sends her the thunderstorm. Rain is the perfect excuse to invite the man in. He accepts, ready for whatever will happen. They are both ready. They both want this other world, this fantasy, this dream, this eternal moment. They erase themselves in it. The woman erases her lame leg and the man erases his ridiculous job. The envelope he delivered to her remains unopened and the one he left on the back of his bike becomes splattered with rain. They begin on the floor and then they move to the bed. After the bed they try hanging off the edge of a table. Then they get up and sit in a chair and this is when the woman comes. Later, the man comes, standing up in the shower while guttural noises spit out of the woman’s throat and echo off the walls like goat noises. The rain, by now, has turned the package on the back of the bike into a soggy pulp. The illegible words running down the pages in the package were meant for the woman in the shower. It was a legal document informing her that the wealthy father she never knew she had, recently died and left her his money. The absent minded anarchist delivered the wrong package. However, a package in Spanish, a paquete, is also a man’s genitals. Considering the fact that the woman making goat noises in the shower is practically being consumed by the pleasure she is getting from the package she got, when seen in a broad, bi-lingual light, this story doesn’t necessarily end on an unhappy note.