If People Don’t Know Where You’re Going, It’s Hard For Them To Follow

That was how he liked it, the man who was generally unfriendly, except to the locals. 

Now in Mexico, with a wife, dogs and a number of aliments, he felt anchored for the first time in a long time.   A flame tree spread next door and a jacaranda tree painted purple in the garden and the bees flew low over the Rosio when the sun came out and heated the nectar.   He had a maid and a doctor he trusted.  Life at 9,000 feet often meant extreme UV radiation, but he never used sun screen.  He didn’t have time. 

There was a criminal, who sometimes sat on the park bench.  He’d pretend to be waiting for a friend.  Actually, he was more a drunk than a criminal and he kept a bottle of liquor in a bag and he would sip it until his eyes got glassy.  Then he would walk home to his little room of plastic, cardboard, and tin.  He didn’t eat much.  Like most of us, he was always looking for an opportunity.

One morning he saw the man and his wife get into a taxi with suitcases.  They were taking a trip.  He called his friend at the bus station to be on the lookout and when he heard they had boarded a bus for Mexico City, he knew the house would be empty for a few days. 

He could climb most anything when he was sober and so he waiting for nightfall and went over the high rock wall.  There were spikes at the top, but he easily avoided them and jumped into a tree and shimmed down into the garden.  The dogs were not there and the big one with her loud bark was somewhere else.  He was happy about that.  He broke a window at the back of the house and soon found himself in the kitchen.  Working quickly, looking for cash or a lap top, he went through the drawers and closets.  He came across a box and found a leather notebook.  He leafed through it and saw pages filled with numbers, drawings, names, a few photos, and page after page of ordered sentences and individual words.  It was a list of entries and the last number was 784.  He looked numbly at it for a few seconds and then tossed it to the side.  He only stole a few bottles of Mezcal.    

The notebook with the numbers, drawings, names, a few photos, and page after page of ordered sentences and individual words was an account of love, death, misfortune, and missed opportunity.  To skip a line was to cut out a heart, to overlook a name, was to bury a body, to ignore the numbers and drawings was to not understand the meaning of war, a disaster, a killing, a wound … a last chance at something. 

The drunk who broke the kitchen window was not a spy or a researcher, only a drunk.  He left happy with the Mezcal and he came and went, unaware, like all of us in this world.

When you find yourself in that phone booth in Sarajevo, call Gen. Wilson, 703 697-1776, ext. 509, Robert

l) She was murdered in Santiago de Atitlan, Sara, they raped her first

2)  Amnesty, Jack fake asshole, Vieth

Peshawar days – Bakers, Anwar, Tan and Susan, Tarquin, Sher, Ahmed Mir, the wedding, Teresa almost hit, the accident

8) Greg gets me to carry pot, stopped by the army, knew the Sargent

The double entry stamp for Thailand

33)  Contact in Tegucigalpa, shitty hotel, nice whore

34)  Two beat up guys standing in line, handcuffed, waiting for deportation

87)  Playing poker with Thai guards, Sucha and his girlfriend, the car bomb blew off his legs, the fire

289)  It could have been my daughter at the concert, twenty years after the fact, she looked just like her rotten mother

489)  Hunger strike in Mocoron, Perez Esquivel

They all know the shape of my dick

Line map of road from Kigali to Cyangugu, stop to see Father Leo, Green Zone, fuck that

500)  Truck drivers in Bosnia, watch one

504)  I am sending part of my social security check, I survived Auschwitz and only wish I could send more, God keep you safe

I’ll never see Stanley again, I know that and I’ll never see Mariann either

Sandra Day O’Conner is a drunk, I guess she deserves to be

590) They set her on fire in the driveway of the Hotel du Mar

When the man and woman got back from Mexico City, they found the broken window and the missing bottles of Mezcal.  They found the rummaged drawers and closets and the leather notebook on the floor.  There were tiny people spilled out around the notebook and they quibbled among themselves, about who did what to whom, and they spoke like the secret negotiations between a disappeared man and his public face.  They were quiet tones, a breeze of grace across the floor.    

If people don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard for them to follow.


4 thoughts on “If People Don’t Know Where You’re Going, It’s Hard For Them To Follow

  1. Aw, Duke, what a shame. I hope you’re able to get the notes back together. As you say, the guy came and went, unaware, like all of us do in this world. Clearly, he was focused on what he wanted–the Mezcal–and nothing else. This piece speaks volumes about writers and drunks. Sorry to say I’m a bit drunk as I write this tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You could stake an entire novel on the title…

    I feel there’s a framework built into this one, the list corresponding to each chapter/subnarrative etc., with the protag gradually getting to know the drunk, functioning as the main narrative.

    Liked by 2 people

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