It’s been hailing all over the country. The Mexico City storm collapsed buildings and caused heavy flooding in the streets. There were no drugs involved, which is saying a lot for Mexican disasters. My personal storm, here in the town on the side of a mountain, was only 30 minutes long. Hardly time for anyone to have a beer, but there was time for me to brave the storm. Go outside in the cold and wind in order to clear four drains near my house. That gave me a chance to fight the water coming through my doors.
The hot ice storm in Mexico put up a buffer of foam that hung in the air and created white, cold water that saturated the ground, so when someone spoke or a car went by without a muffler, the sound was absorbed completely by the post phenomena of ice-covered dogs hunkered down near a wall.
And then Keith, my friend from the Africa days, sent me a report about drought and population displacement in eastern Africa. Even though I have deep roots in the area, I had lost track of what was happening. Millions are falling into displacement and famine throughout the area. No food, water, or rain. The tribes naked, slumped in my mind. Long lines stretched endlessly in pain. Informal camps have started to form outside major cities. Just like the noise near my house, I couldn’t hear what was happening in eastern Africa.
I woke wide awake this morning at 3:00 a.m. Silence. I went up on my roof and the clouds were low, moving rapidly across the sky, but the moon shown through a break, and the ghostly light was all around me. More silence. Not even a dog barking in the distance. No drunks singing, no cars or cycles, nobody partying in the streets and that’s when it hit me: the once in a lifetime hail storm had forced me to see that the future was in decline, diminished by all of the problems besetting the planet. The future has almost disappeared. Losing the past is one thing, the future, entirely different. The young robbed of dreams. No more will people be secure that hard work will get them ahead. School is no longer the answer it once was. The hope of leaving a poor village to find a new life, gone. Borders will close and the fires will rage and the armies will kill those who get in their way and the destitute and desperate will turn to crime. Disease will spread among people who no longer care. The death of livestock, the fallow fields, the total lack of water and rain, the heat and the collapsed health networks. The majority of Central American women who travel up to the US border are raped at least twice during their journey. Some raped multiple times. Held prisoner by Narcos until they are killed and their bodies dumped.
Hironimus Bosch has returned to fill in our nights and days.
But what good can come of this? I think I have found it. As I have said before, there is nothing any of us can do about the systemic collapse of the Earth’s infrastructure. However, this can be a liberating condition regardless of how horrible it may seem. Why? Because there is nothing any of us can do except lead a kind and polite life until the end. I have decided to focus only on those people and things near to me.
As I told Keith, I must be a human match for even a single person in the dark. So I have adopted Angel down in the park. He is my body, my boy. I visit him every day and he is dying from anorexia and we talk about his organs and how they are faltering, but he is so injured in his mind, there is nothing I can do. I asked him what he wants from me, and he says, let’s laugh. Jesus Christ, let’s laugh … and so we tell each other jokes and goof on the people in the park and when his mother comes, she sits nearby and sometimes weeps, and Angel and I keep talking, laughing but then she leaves and we keep on laughing and I know someday this kid will go away and I’ll be left alone, sitting on our bench, but I will have made him happy for those few days, those instants we shared.
P.S. I asked someone what Angel did during the storm. I was told he walked across the street and stood next to a wall like the ice-covered street dogs of my town. Angel … he has come to the park to make me a better person, to make all of us better people.