Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ghost Mule

Fishing Trip by Charles

Rocky Point. Puerto Penasco. Bring the whole family down this time. Why not? The Chrysler packed, water bag filled, trunk bulging. Drinking and puking and fishing. Fishing and puking and drinking. Throw the gas can into the bonfire and blow a crater right there on the beach. Howard’ll be bringing his new wife. She’s a Mormon but that’s alright. Howard’s a good man. It’ll be good for him to get off the logging truck for a few days. The old lady don’t care for him much but I’ll make it up to her. We’ll stop in Nogales on the way back and pick up something nice for her and the kid. Maybe get our snapshot taken on one of them Mexican donkeys.

Pablo, the mule needs to be painted again.


Tradition by Johanna

In the ninth grade, my family forced me to ride the mule in the fiesta parade. I tried to get out of it. “It's tradition,” they told me as they dragged my whining nauseous body out of bed. My father did it and my grandfather did it before him.

With my pants hanging low, my knees sticking out of the mules side like wings, earphones plugged in under my sombrero, I sucked it up and road my mule, Philemon, in the procession between the fiesta princessas and the local mariachi band. I didn't see much through the haze of humiliation except for my abuelita sitting on the sidelines, waving and smiling at me with pride. I threw her some candy even though I knew her old teeth couldn't handle it and watched as the children scattered around her for it like birds to crumbs.

Ricky Gallegos called me Mule Boy in 5th period Science class for the rest of the semester. My girlfriend, Stephanie, broke up with me, said it had nothing to do with the parade. She just wasn't into me anymore.

This year, my own son, also in ninth grade, had to ride the mule in the parade. Once he realized there was no breaking with tradition, he asked me if he could dress in drag – the whole get-up – gown, wig, make-up and heels. He said it would be ironic. I told him, “Fine, as long as you wear the sombrero.” He laughed his ass off the whole mule ride through the village. Thank god my mother wasn't alive to see it.


Zippy, a Short History by Lyle

Across the Rio Grande from the amorphous1 South Texas, there is a town that has become rife with amorphous2 hostilities. It used to be that a donkey,3 rescued4 from Boysville where he worked as a stud of sorts5, started a new trade at a slow touristy spot right near the rowboat landing. Zippy became restless, yoked as he was to an immobile cart, at this ghoulish business.

Part of the amorphous hostility that lingered in the town manifested itself, very clearly in form, in two ways.
Zippy, reverting to form, attempted to mount a little boy, apparently mistaking him for one of the slight women he was used to in Boysville.
The angry parents (with very little provoking) led a lynch mob to a nearby tree where they hanged Zippy and let the buzzards eat him down.

Aside from the tree, an impromptu monument on which people carve the name Zippy — just a name — he has been forgotten, as has his story.6
1Rocky, brush-covered land alternately sand colored and burro grey.
2Violence colored like the land.
4Some would say kidnapped.
5A nasty business — carnivalesque and rooted firmly in the freakshows of yore, some of which can still be seen in the Mexican countryside where many of these shows retired, unwilling or unable to make the leap to the sexually explicit (the bearded lady being the exception).
6The town in now known for its large population of fainting goats (and the Association headquarters), porous border crossing and gun battles.


No More Zippy by Forrest

Zippy, pinstriped pseudo-zebra/mule of Nogales--I consider you the fabrication to ruin my parents' marriage on that ill-fated border crossing when I discovered I was Patricia, not Patrick. Even had I been the teenage girl I was always meant to be and you trotted out before my maids of honor for a quinceanera delight, my father would have wept next to smiling Jesus in the afternoon. I do not mean to say he was prone to sadness or profoundly affected by hokey tourist opportunities (even when my mother had dressed up enough for his approval). If not for my operation, I think he could have saved our sombreros. I think he would swallow the worm again. But you, Zippy. Because I did not ride off with you, a charade of a lesser equine tethered to a wagon that was not a wagon, I never felt the hot, blazing pulse between my thighs which, I now read, makes scared boys into much lustful men. And you never took the bit that I keep wearing for them since.


The Bridesmaid by Beth

I had to go and get a bridesmaid’s dress at David’s Bridal in the suburbs. It was going to be dark purple, one of our high school’s colors, although the bride wouldn’t admit it. To her, it was Lapis, and there was a difference. I had to shave my legs and wear a nice-looking bra and go in there and get a short satin Lapis-colored dress and bring in my shoes from Payless that I needed to have dyed to match. I had to do it today, because the wedding was only a month away. They would need to alter the dress to fit me.

I shaved my legs and wore the bra and took the shoes and got in the car, started it and let it run for a while, because it had been so long since we’d moved it.  I left our parking spot and drove through our neighborhood to the outskirts of the city, to where I had to get on the highway that would shoot me out to the suburbs.  But before I got to the on-ramp for the highway I stopped.  I was in this neighborhood I’d never been in before. And I had to get to David’s Bridal before they closed early because it was Sunday, so I didn’t have time to screw around, but I stopped the car and turned it off and I got out and I walked, arms crossed, the breeze cold on my face.  I walked by a place that sold pulled-pork sandwiches and had a neon sign that was an outline of a pig. And I walked by an Irish pub with big-bellied guys standing in the doorway smoking and I turned down a different street and walked by some antique stores that were closed and a store that had big bolts of fabric leaned up against the inside of the window, which had a gate pulled down over it in case someone wanted to smash it.

And I stopped in front of this other antique store with a black and white picture of a family in a parade.  The sun beat down on them so they could just look up a little bit, under their hats. And this blond kid with the word Mexico stitched on his hat was sitting on a mule painted to look like a zebra, disguised as something it was clearly not. And everyone around it was smiling.


Contrast by Bill

See such sun high overhead piling light on the girl I remember sitting behind me in another picture like this, covered in the old light of those days as if it were painted onto the two of us sitting on a horse and not this poor painted burro with the girl missing from the picture with her arms around my small body, the tiny person I had been surrounded by the young woman she was with long straight hair helping to erase my fear and smiling like this boy in his giant hat.


The Photographer by Alan

Charlie and his mother had never been outside of the country, and by country I mean state, and by state I mean city, and by city I mean town, and by town I mean street, and by street I mean house, and by house I mean room, and by room I mean corner, and by corner I mean space, and by space I mean home, and by home I mean space, and by space I mean corner, and by corner I mean room, and by room I mean house, and by house I mean street, and by street I mean town, and by town I mean city, and by city I mean state, and by state I mean country. Never been. Nope.

So upon arrival, they hired a man with a steady hand – that’s me – to show them around and give them a few memories to bring back home. I did just that. Yes. Just that and more.

You see, traveling is a lot like breathing. You’re only used to one kind of breath pattern, and that’s yours. Takes someone to come along and show you another way to inhale and then exhale. Inhale and then exhale. Yes…just like that. You can’t learn that yourself. Nope. The deeper the breath, the farther away from home you can go. Takes someone to show you that. That’s what I’m here for. There are just some things you can’t learn on your own.