This is an unedited excerpt from a work in progress.
Down by the jook joint is where the sweatin’ and grindin’ began. But it by no means ended there. It was a Sunday evening, just after church and before the end of the Sabbath for some. I was always there, bumpin’ and grindin’ with the best of ‘em. The cat calls that floated just above the smoke gave me a real high. It was like listening to a symphony. They were singin’ my song. They always did. Most’a the men were sweet on me. But they was afraid’a my daddy. He was the town pastor. My mama was the first lady and respected by everyone in our little town. Sonny would say, “Sissy, what you doin’ down here? Yo’ daddy gon’ whip you good if he find out.”
“I’ll whip you good if you tell ‘im,” I holler’d back. I grinned on the inside, so he wouldn’t see. But sometimes he could see right through me.
Sonny was something. He was always in my business. But he was my best friend; always tryin’ to look out for me. Couldn’t nobody do me nothin’ with Sonny around. Some ‘a the men, no matter how stinkin’ drunk they were, when they saw Sonny, they sobered up quick if they were near me. He’d bloodied enough noses and broken enough ribs for them to know not to touch me, Ms. Sissy Crawford, pastor’s daughter and the best dancer in town.
I wasn’t always as sassy as some say. But I was always alive and filled with fire. Mama said when I was born, it was like Christmas in heaven, minus the snow. I came out dancing…stompin’ on her back she’d say. It wasn’t so much the pain as the constant kickin’. I kicked as though there was a song playin’ in her womb. And when I popped out, I was smilin’. She said I smiled like there was nothin’ but joy in the world. Like love danced with me on the other side where I came from.
“Lord! That girl was somethin’ else, wasn’t she, Joseph?”
“Yes she was. She sure was full a somethin’ hot. Like coals were under her feet.”
Those in listening distance would laugh.
By the time I was twelve I started to laugh. Didn’t get it before then. Seemed like a bunch of grown folks actin’ silly and laughin’ at stuff that made no sense. It all started to make sense after a while. Plenty of grown folk stuff started to make sense. Curiosity about why mom and pop kissin’ and chucklin’ all the time soon disappeared. After Larry touched me between my legs, I understood. His hands were big, and they were hot. Felt like he held ‘em over a fire and then real fast like, put ‘em on me. He put it on me for sure. Larry was my first, but by no means my last. He usher’d me into womanhood on a starry night. He moved slow, drinking in every moment of our unity. I thought of how daddy loved mama. I wondered if he drank her in the way Larry did with me.
Larry was gone after a few weeks of bumpin ‘ and grindin’. Said he had to serve his country. Said wasn’t nothin’ gonna stop him from going to ‘Nam. I loved him for his bravery. But hated him for his stupidity. That war was not one he shoulda been fightin’ in. Black men was always fightin’ for folks who didn’t care about them. Larry wanted to fight. He needed to fight. He said he’d be back for me though. Said he’d marry me and give me a bunch ‘a babies. Wasn’t no babies gonna be had with Larry though. He stopped writin’ after a while. No good-bye, nothin’. Just silence. Weeks turned into months. Months turned into tears that flowed like a waterfall during the rainy season. Larry faded away like a billow of smoke faded as it rose into the sky.
I moved on. Decided that if I started seeing a bunch ‘a men, it would help take my mind off Larry. The men didn’t mind. They were more than happy to soothe my achin’ heart with their achin’ rod. And did they soothe? Yes, they did. For the moment at least. They took me away from my borin’ little town. They couldn’t erase memories of Larry though. I saw him in each one of they faces. His brown skin was like the trunk of a tall strong tree, a deep dark color filled with life. His soul was green like the leaves of those grand trees. Green an’ lush and filled with a vibrancy that creates new life an’ possibilities. No, they couldn’t erase him. But they filled in the spaces at times. They were the pockets o’ air inside a sinkin’ ship. I knew the time would come when the air would run out and I would drown, but I didn’t care. I had to feel good. I needed to feel good.
This is a wild idea I came up with. Definitely needs some work (a lot of work) but it could become an interesting story if I give it a bit of love. I started it a few years ago. I intend to revisit it very soon.
In the beginning there was no word. There was only energy and thought floating through the dark abyss. The darkness was the life. The darkness was where creation began. It gave birth to light. The darkness thought, let there be light, and there was. Yet, it remained, to be with its new creation. The darkness was still the source and the creative power, even though light, the demi-creator, was born. The darkness was the more vast expanse. The darkness was the essence of the universe. These were the revelations of Cree’gen, one of many on its home world, Gen’sis.
The wind traveled from just below the oxygen poor atmosphere, down to the planet, across the face of the deep…the waters, over the land and into the valley of the Knowing. It crept silently, a wisp between leaves and branches and everything green. It had no detectable color, it was untouchable form. There was no void within the wind, it was omnipresent on the planet. It was the life of the people, what gave them the ability to continue. For the moment, it was their survival in their world. Their air was made of a thin gaseous helium, abundant helium. It was their life source.
Cree’gen sat atop a mountain looking up at the suns. They both shone bright and blue on that particular day. It closed its eyes and inhaled the rich helium that was life to all on Gen’sis. It exhaled a long breath, opened its eyes, and watched the many flowers in the gorge sway from the light wind. They too needed the life giving breath of life, the wind upon their petals and their suns warming the ground beneath them.
Cree’gen picked up from its left side a book that sat on a large gray rock. It flipped open the pages and from behind its ears it removed a large feather. From its right side it reached for the ink that was in a small clear glass bottle. It flowed black and fogged the sides of the clear container, only to eventually settle into the remaining ink. It tilted the bottle sideways to watch the globs float back and forth, a mini universe in the palm of its hand. It turned the bottle up again and opened it. The feather was a bright red, and the wind caused it to blow west. Cree’gen dipped it into the ink and proceeded to write.
The book was well worn with many pages filled. Each thought was scribbled in all directions, some with a feverish hand, all with determined strokes. Cree’gen’s recent thoughts began to fill the page. It was filled with an overwhelming curiosity. The paper was where it spilled its mind, allowing it to stain each page with symbols that became words, words that became patterns of thought. And patterns of thought that became almost tangible living entities. These entities communicated through space and time, joining the ranks of the living with a fierceness that begged the question. Who and what are words? And where did they come from? The answer was always the same. Cree’gen heard their murmurs like whispers in the night.
“We were created by you. Just as you created yourself,” was always the answer. It was the answer to many questions. But it never answered the highest question. How?
Cree’gen became aware of its own existence almost immediately. It walked among its people with daily curiosity. It wondered how it came to be and why, even though deep down it knew the one basic truth of how it came to be. But the deeper how and the deeper why eluded Cree’gen. Everyone on Gen’sis knew their beginnings. Because everyone came to be in the same way. The only things left unanswered were the questions Cree’gen was determined to answer.
Through writing, Cree’gen was able to tap into truths waiting to be unveiled. The feather was the conduit. The paper the place to land. And the words…yes, the words were the second medium of discovery. They added a dimension to communication on their world that was new and exciting. Cree’gen knew this…even as most of its people used their minds to communicate. But Cree’gen wanted to explore symbols and how they bent the mind to a new way of being and thinking. Words were a gift from the source.
Before Cree’gen realized, the sky had turned a deep dark blue, with pinpoints of light blinking above its head, shining on the grand canvas that spread across the expanse. The night sky was bright. Each of their four moons were full. Cree’gen rose and walked along the valley floor, through the waist high grass that lightly lashed its legs as each tall green blade bounced about. It was a good night for thinking and meditating. Cree’gen knew this. The full moons always gave way to deep introspection. They were silent guides that spoke only when necessary, and then, only in whispers. Their whispers told tales of the origins of many things, including Cree’gen.
Cree’gen heard one of the elders speak to it. It was Bi’chen, down in the village. It had been looking for Cree’gen through many minds. Finally, it decided to call to Cree’gen through the planet. It heard Bi’chen’s voice reach it through its mind.
“Are you writing again?” asked Bi’chen.
“Yes Elder,” answered Cree’gen without moving its lips.
“I thought you would tire of such a primitive form of communication.””
“It is an interesting experiment Elder. The symbols challenge my mind to envision things differently.”
Cree’gen spoke with the elders, asking questions no one ever asked publicly, but talked of in hushed tones by fire light. It was not that it was forbidden to ask, no one ever imagined it needed to be asked. They existed. Wasn’t that enough? It was not enough for Cree’gen.
“Elder, I understand the beginning, but how did it happen and why was it this way?” Cree’gen asked.
“Child, it is not for us to understand at this time. Wait for clarity. It will come,” responded Bi’chen.
“We know of other worlds; worlds that require two to create. But we are not like them. Why?”
“Because that is not how the universe allowed us to come into being. It allowed for a different way for us. And that way has worked for us for the last 50,000 years. Your curiosity will not change what we are.”
“But Bi’chen, is it not our destiny to learn and grow?”
“Yes Cree’gen. But not in a rushed way. Not through anxiety.”
Cree’gen could not contain its fascination with its beginnings. One day it simply appeared out of nothing, at least as far as it could tell. It had taken many decades for it to discover that it created itself. The memory of that moment was lost for a time. It seemed a very long time. Although it finally realized how it came to be, it still didn’t know how it did it. There was another force that created the ability within it, in all of its kind. Cree’gen was the only one that lost the memory of its beginning. But the remembering changed everyone. Cree’gen’s awakening came with many questions no longer asked. It came with a wondering that went beyond mere curiosity. Cree’gen wanted to unlock a secret housed only in the universe and in the age of its people.
One thing was certain in all the asking, everyone from its race created themselves. It wasn’t like on other worlds where either copulation, parthenogenesis or the division of cells was a necessary methodology to bring about the existence of another. Its people simply could create themselves, from nothing. Or from the vastness of that which allowed them to come into existence. The Gen’sis people could bring about their own existence. The only problem was many of them didn’t know or couldn’t remember the conditions that brought about their desire to come into being.
This missing piece was a recent flaw. Their ancestors, the Gen’sis Elders, knew everything. They explained the process, but it was far too complex for many Gen’sis to understand. Cree’gen wanted to understand. It wanted to know its beginnings and the conditions that existed which allowed it to bring itself into being. Why did it want to exist? Why did it bundle the universal resources that allowed it to bring itself to Gen’sis, to become alive in a new way? What was the driving energetic force? Cree’gen knew there was more to it all. But it would take many of their moons’ rising and setting to understand.
“Everything in the universe comes about through need,” said Bi’chen one night to Cree’gen. “This need is never one way. Each new thing arises from an infinite amount of needs, all existing at different moments and for different reasons. New needs are created from existing needs satisfied.”
“I don’t understand, Elder.”
“Listen with more than your ears, Cree’gen. Hear me with your heart. Everything is in a state of need for survival. The universe knew it could not survive by being the only source of creation. This knowing is not a sentient knowing, nor is it a knowing lacking intelligence. It is something in between the two. Something far more complex. It needed to allow for everything. And in doing that, it allowed for all possibilities.”
“I think I understand, Elder.”
“Do you? What do you understand?”
“In other worlds, existence is dependent on what is perceived as a duality. The two, a splitting apart of things, or a coming together of things that lead to a division that builds the whole. That way is one of many ways the universe allowed for being. But with us, it wanted something more sure, something lasting. It wanted something that contained the essence of it in a purer way. So it allowed us to create ourselves.”
“That is correct. We are the other way. A way out of many other infinite ways of existing.”
“But Elder, how did it do it?”
“This is what you want to know, child. But this is not something I can merely tell you. Examine other worlds. Go on a quest. Seek out the answer you need. It will find you.”
“That is not an answer Elder.”
The Elder Gen’sis villager laughed out loud. It was not accustomed to this new Gen’sis creature, fresh and new to their world. It had a different mind. It wanted to know that which only experience could teach.
It was the time of change. The world was rediscovering itself in the aftermath of the great quake. The quake caused their planet to shift, creating a coming together of the lands. The People were afraid. They did not know what to expect because the land no longer spoke to them.
Across the vast plains sits the city of Artrack. Central to the surrounding villages, Artrack sits atop a modest plush plateau. Mahogany wood and braided rope ladders were used to climb to the top, a five-minute journey–two minutes for the strongest warriors. Yori was not a warrior, but scaled the ladders with the same swiftness of the best climber, Ignar. There was a silent understanding between them. Yori and Ignar passed glances over many seasons. They never spoke of their skills, nor did they challenge each other. The shame and burden of losing kept their tongues at bay. The silence said all it needed to say to keep their reputations untainted. Theirs was an understanding among spiritual warriors. This wisdom and understanding kept peace among their people.
The night tossed a blanket of darkness over their land. Every manner of beast roamed amidst the moonlight, hunting for a predawn meal. As they walked the fifty paces toward Artrack, the dead leaves rustled beneath their feet. They pushed aside giant green leaves with large purple veins spidering out to the tips. Dew fell from their edges, cascading onto tiny brush that lay low to the ground, like creeping vines stringing a path to their destiny.
Their destiny was like that of the vines, uncertain of the end, but sure of the journey. Their journey was the only thing they could be sure of; all else was a dream of a life not within their grasp. Their future was the wind that pass over leaves, they lightly shook and then were still, as though wind never moved them.
Ahead of them, near the clearing, they could hear the rush of waterfalls surrounding their secluded world. The water, their lifeblood, runs to the river Xior. At the base of the river lives the spirit of their people.
This is the beginning of an idea I believe I can flesh out and do something interesting with. I was thinking about consumerism, commercialism, capitalism, usury, and the poor economic state of this country. I haven’t done any editing, so…
The Elec-Trick Company
The line was long. The people were fat. They each looked like humps in a little plump caterpillar, moving through the line, colorful with multiple legs. They writhed and squirmed, seeming to be filled with gas. Their faces looked hungry. They each looked around the foreign space, seeking a morsel, or two. But there was no morsel to be had unless they’d taken to eating people. From the looks of them, eating people was probably their secret past time.
We inched forward, their eyes on us, the anomalies in the room. Slim. Astute. Clean. Nothing sold in Wal-Mart touched our bodies. The caterpillar parts, however, wore even pajamas to pay their bills. Was it because their lights were already turned off and they wanted to be dressed the part as soon as the lights came on? Plop down to watch TV. Order pizza. Scratch ass. Fart. Leave scraps in box on floor. Scream at kids. Fall asleep on couch. Wake up and head to bedroom. Turn on TV. Recall that the living room TV was still on. Good. Maybe will go down to kitchen to grab another bite to eat and can catch something interesting. Lost. American Idol. The commercial said 40 was the new 30, so indulge yourself in chocolate. Mouths open and another 100 pounds piles on. The bedroom TV blazes on. Late night talk shows and sex. The flashing on the wall as sleep takes over. While in slumber a string of commercials talk about restless leg syndrome and eating more pork, the other white meat. Morning comes and the fat caterpillar part changes its shirt but leaves on the pajama pants; it doesn’t know why it now has a strange craving for pork. Will grab some right after paying the damned bill. “Why’d they cut off my lights in the first place?” it thinks. “I was only five days late.”
They keep looking. Their parts moving almost in unison to the front desk where separated caterpillar parts sit collecting green paper. Caterpillars like green leafy looking things. They work for the lie bearers, the people who took what nature offers for free and made it into an empire. The caterpillars don’t have time to think about why they are on the line. They are too busy being caterpillars, moving along in little shuffles, into a destiny with no substance or form.
“Hello, sir,” the separated caterpillar chirps half pleasantly.
“Fine,” I lie. It’s what you’re supposed to do? Right? Tell the caterpillars what they want to hear so they don’t begin to twist and bend out of shape, losing their form.
I have such a headache today. Woke up with it. I don’t usually get headaches, so it’s pretty annoying. It’s hard to think and even more difficult to write anything that makes sense.
Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep it off and get back to writing tomorrow.
Meanwhile, below is something I wrote a while back. I think there might be a story here. It was born from a collaboration I’m still working on with a well known author whose name I won’t mention at this time.
It is unedited.
Mumbi could smell the raging distant sea. There wasn’t an echo of water for miles around. But she could smell it. Even as the mud from her rich brown land squished between her toes, she knew that somewhere off in the distance the water awaited her. It called to her like the drum beats during ritual, like the familiar beating of her heart that pounded in time with the seconds in a moment and space she imagined she would never leave. Every beat was a breath. And every breath smelled of sea water. Yes, she could smell the sea–she was keen that way. It was the sea her ancestors had played in and drew life from. It surrounded that place where everything new began. It was Alkebulan; her home. Some called it Af-Rui-Ka. But it was mother. It was birth in all its purity. It was the land of the people, the people who resembled the soil.
Mumbi was the seventh among her sisters. She was born under a full blue moon and came into the world with the same calm and quiet of that cloudless night. All that rustled the wilderness was the wind. And even the wind seemed to stop when Mumbi opened her eyes and looked up at the sky. But she did not cry for the future that lay beyond the darkness. Instead, she looked around, almost examining the stars, as though she were picking up her life from a place she had left many centuries ago–as though she were ready to tell us her story–the story of where she came from and where she was going. Once upon a time, those were the words in her soul, and from the moment she could speak, she began to tell everyone of her once upon a time. She told stories she could not know at four years old. And she saw a future none could imagine lived anywhere but in her imagination. She would speak of the sea, and that one day the people of her land would traverse its great back. It would kick and buck them about like paper. And when it was tired of kicking them about, it would swallow them whole. Her stories became legend. But before they would become legend, they would come true.