This blog - I'm Wes Rehberg - is dedicated to what I'm up to in writing - fiction and nonfiction short stories, novels, philosophy, journalism, poetry - I have a site also for experimental video art work called "The Video Curio Theater" at http://blog.rehberg.net. The theater is open.
Rust Colored Hair -- segment from an essay draft, in-progress
chartered plane from Cancun, Mexico, the Cuban band rocked the cabin, playing
for we, the illegals, the ones who dared to defy the United States government’s
prohibition against traveling to the shunned island 90 miles off the coast of
Florida. A few dozen of us, gathered by Global Exchange to violate and
repudiate the U.S. blockade. The sanctions. And for me, the refusal to allow a
government to prevent me from visiting with people from another land.
This was the
first of two journeys for me to Cuba during the mid-1990s. Our defiance on this
one had a penalty, the threat of 10 years in prison and a $200,000 fine. We
were felonious. Troublemakers. And many of us broadcast our intentions
beforehand, including me, with a local television news report and write-ups in
regional newspapers. The closing shot of the TV interview showed me walking
away from the camera, along a Binghamton University path in upstate New York where
I was working toward a Ph.D., conveying something dramatic, my guess. A
landed and we debarked, many amazed. No stamps on our passports when we passed
through customs. We boarded buses, were given flowers of welcome, and rode
through Havana, stopping once for some deliberation between the delegation
leaders, including Media Benjamin, now of Code Pink, and our hosts. When the
bus door opened, I stepped out, alone, with my flowers, crossed the road, and
gave them to an older woman among the onlookers. Spontaneous. Probably a
transgression of some kind. I wasn’t showboating. I had a gift to pass along. Contact.
became a gift, too. I wasn’t unfamiliar with so-called Third World
circumstances, having traveled to Nicaragua twice, including to the northwest
region along the Honduras border where the U.S.-backed contra forces marauded and
murdered displaced Nicaraguans in the parched region, who chose to live in
cooperatives, many of them radical Christian-based comunidades de base
ecclesiales, thrown off their former properties by cotton and sugar plantation
land thieves before the socialist Sandanista government revolutionaries came
into power. That was history then, though. The Contra attacks were no longer
necessary. The U.S. won. The Sandanistas were out of power. The base
communities considered an aberration, condemned by the conservative Nicaragua Roman
Catholic cardinal, the church. But a popular movement persisted despite that in
Nicaragua. It wasn’t “communist” like the Cuban island. It was a means of
survival, cooperative, collaborative in the midst of scarce resources, of a
people who had known the feudal oppression of a dictatorship, the Somoza
Just a minute, though. Wasn’t it
the dictatorial Batista government that Fidel Castro and his band of insurgents
overthrew? And didn’t these usurpers seek assistance from the Eisenhower
government before turning ultimately to Russia? By the time of our journey to
Cuba, now entering its “Special Period” of increased impoverishment with the
breakup of the Soviet Union? ...
course this between us is only a matter of convenience."
Two: "For now."
you have the state's resources."
mere suspicion. We're both elusive. And your resources? An enemy,
state always speaks in terms of an enemy."
law, then ..."
state has control of judges, lawmakers, hired guns, lobbyists,
influence peddlers, utilization of the underworld, you know that."
have secrets then to share?"
what makes this alliance intriguing."
where did those two go?"
are not aligned. I don't know."
you're familiar with them."
insofar as a brief historical encounter."
collapsed boardwalk then?"
mere demonstration, I suppose. There may have been another motive."
both have familiarities, then. To me it was a hallucination, an
illusion. Nothing in the newspapers."
on the frame of reference, doesn't it?"
two stopped walking, realizing they lost their bearings and an actual
physical connection with each other, rapt in conversation. Both
Agents ran their maps through their minds, pinpointing icons showing
their locations, now several blocks apart, but converging.
Two: "Our physical destination must be the convergence point."
One: "I'll meet you there."
that moment, police and fire engine sirens shot cascading shrill
echoes through nearby skyscrapers. Both Agents received enforcement
alerts: "The Museum of Culture!" They arrived within
seconds, showed respective security badges, passed through quickly
set up barricades, and stepped inside. The floors and walls looked
empty. The intrusion alerts quieted and a guard pointed upward. All
the works of that gallery appeared to have been spread across the
ceiling, undamaged, but inaccessible beyond neon-colored wires.
attached, perhaps they can't be removed, even if we get through the
wires," a museum official announced. "Just this gallery."
two," Agent Two assumed. Agent One agreed.
Two: "Oh, it's a pun."
shouldn't be. They're commercially sacred artifacts."
smiled as they sat on a park bench and watched the chaos.
this,” She said. She nodded her head.
don’t believe this!” an arriving fire official shouted. “The
whole thing’s a hoax!”
no!” a police official said. “The stuff was on the ceiling. Ask
grew louder as those who witnessed the illusion claimed what they saw
was real while latecomers questioned or derided them.
on earth could all those artifacts be hanging from the damn ceiling
one minute, then be back in place the next?” one official asked.
"It is physically impossible. Come on, you can't be serious."
the city formed a commission to investigate the occurrence. They
would hire physicists to help them.
One: “Typical of your people.”
Two: “And not of yours? Are you sure yours are not there, too?”
I probably don't need to say this -- it helps me that the clarification is specified though. Some texts in posts have since been altered, even radically, as I weave things in a story. Drafts, then, is what's in this blog. Posted with trepidation.
Speaker One and Speaker Two sat at a little round
cafe table in the middle of a noisy chain restaurant and bar. The waitress
Speaker One: The special.
Speaker Two: The same.
She: Will it be the same then?
Both speakers: Of course, what else?
When She returned, She brought blackened catfish,
baked potato and mixed vegetables for Speaker One and placed it on the table. In
front of Speaker Two, She placed barbecued chicken wings, celery and sauce, and
french fries. Voilá, She said.
Both speakers: See? The special. The same.
The bartender, He, shouted to the other patrons to
rise, circle their table, and applaud.
Speaker Two: No illusions here.
Speaker One: Thank you, all. Thank you. Enjoy our
Both got up from the table and exited the
Images of them eating remained.
What else now? He asked.
The museum, She said.
They rode the subway.
In their car, Speaker One sat at one end, Speaker Two at the other. They
texted each other, oblivious to others aboard..
She intercepted the messages and displayed them on the train's windows,
invisible to the two. Occasional lights in the dark subway tunnel flickered
Speaker One's message: "They're on board with us."
Speaker Two's message: "How can you tell?"
Speaker One's message: "Our car is decoupled, we're coasting."
Speaker Two's message: "Wait ... we're pulling into the
Speaker One's message: "That means when the train pulls out, we'll
be left behind."
Speaker Two's message: "No problem, this is our stop. "
Others on the car observed the interplay of messages, looked at who
might be transmitting them, and headed for the doors. The doors opened. They
all exited and turned to look at the car. The doors closed. The car left the
station with the rest of the train.
"What the hell was that?" a subway patron asked, angered. "I
got off, but this ain't my friggin' stop!"
Others turned looking for someone to blame. Speaker One and Two stepped
on the escalator. Halfway up, it stopped.
Speaker One: "We'll have to walk the rest of the way."
The escalator started again.
Speaker Two: "No we won't"
The angry man shouted. "It was those two!" Others turned to
look. Just then another train pulled into the station. "Forget it,"
one of the others said. "Here's another ride. There's always another one."
Look behind the illusion, like journalists are supposed to.
These two are a layer beneath, under the myth that is perpetuated on the
superficial membrane that most take for reality, the game of the frame, said
the one speaker
Oh, such cynicism, said the other.
That's it. Swallow it whole. Did not the boardwalk collapse? The
journalists will be told how it happened, will read the documents given to them
in conspiratorial tones like precious manna that's really manure. Even though
one of them may have witnessed what we had.
Oh, it was a hallucination.
How can you depart from your senses like that, said the one
She leaves the frame of the two speakers' reference and slips
between them, ephemeral. He, a wisp, with her, coils a filament around their
left ankles. She and he merge and sing in one voice. The sound brightens the
filaments and sends a message along the outermost layer of the two speakers'
skin so that it appears to be both sound in their ears and printed words to
their optic nerves.
See, said the one speaker. Is that a hallucination?
I am still suspicious. Are we getting the same
message? said the other.