August 15th, 38th entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
Born on a day like today
1688 Frederick-William I king of Prussia (1713-1740), father of the wonderful Frederick II the Great. Upon feeling he was going to die this stern fatso yelled at hiw wife,”You disgusting pig of a woman,at least today get up early because today I shall die!”A few hours later he croaked off. 1769 Napoleon Bonaparte resident of Elba (emperor 1804-13, 1814-15) born in the living room of his mom`s house in Ajaccio, he is strongly hated in his rocky island because he never did anything for Corsican independence1771 Sir Walter Scott Scotland, novelist/poet (Lady of Lake) at least he made money from his oversweet romanticism
1057 Macbeth, King of Scotland, slain by son of King Duncan, tragedy blown up by that gossipmonger that was Willy Shakespeare. Dysfunctional families are good topics for stories and plays.1519 Panama City founded, some say backwards and without latrines
1914 Panama Canal opens (under cost)thanks to Teddy Roosevelt
Born August 16th
1897 Robert Ringling circus master, he knew every country deserved a three ring circus
1913 Menachem Begin Israeli PM (1977-83, Nobel 1978) he always began a good fight
1930 Ted Hughes England, poet laureate (1984- )he couldn`t even keep his wife Sylvia Plath motivated enough to stay alive nd not poke her head into the oven
1815 Birth of St. John Bosco, Italian educator. Poverty among the children in the city of Turin led him in 1859 to establish the Society of St. Francis of Sales (the Salesians). Bosco was canonized by Pius XI in 1934.
1948 Babe Ruth Baseball legend, dies in NY at 53 , he was so incredible1977 Elvis Presley dies of heart ailment at Graceland at 42,found dead on the toilet
1829 Siamese twins Chang & Eng Bunker arrive in Boston to be exhibited,so you she, United States loves to make a freak out of anyone
1863 Emancipation Proclamation signed.,,,but did this end prejudice against African-Americans?
THE MOON FLOWER
In October 1976 the Mexican guitarist Carlos Santana recorded his hit Moonflower. In 1977 the album containing this masterpiece was released. It hit double platinum. I am not surprised. I have always liked Santana`s music,even before he composed Moonflower.In fact,when he came to Nicaragua in 1974 he filled the stadium and I was there, with my best friend next to me on the bleachers, and our compatriot Chepito Areas as the percussionist of this group. But in 1977 when I went to Centro Musical Andino to buy the album Moonflower after having heard it on the radio, a magical hand stretched out from Santanà s
Guitar into my senses. Back then I already played with the symphony orchestra and I believed that most music outside classical music was garbage in its purest state. I couldn`t fathom why that particular piece of music could touch me so. A future goose running over my grave to be?
Life has such strange ways of leading us along the most haunted paths. What can be a stone we pick up one day can end up being Gibraltar next week. Or almost ten years later. That was the year of Double playing The Captain of her Heart, my doomed engagement and my broken column. I remember my mother`s moonflower vine during a starry night,the subtle fragrance of the moonflowers and I return to that time.
It was our last night in the San Juan River department, in the town of San MIguelito. Wartime. We were lodged at an inn that had a huge vine that at night was covered with moonflowers. The smell of these flowers was so strong at night that while I tried to sleep, it made me gasp for breath and feel dizzy. It was a sensation of suffocation. Silken mist of a hand around my neck, not Bartòk`s hand seductively going down my nape as so many years ago in France. Here was only the last fringe of fear attached. Fear of what? Well, let me explain, my ever faithful reader in a world where nobody has loyalty for anyone. Dear has its own stages and mechanisms. I am an expert at that, for I have been writing horror tales since I was a kid. It is a process, as many things are in life. It can begin as simple as this.
You are in bed,trying to sleep.Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep, nibbles at you eyelids in a poetic languor. You have been at peace with your liver, in good terms with your stomach and perfect synch with your heart. But suddenly, a small leprechaun seems to have entered your brain. Through the ear, up a nostril,no matter how. And you become aware that one of your feet is uncovered.Who wants covers with this heat? That is good reasoning. But your foot looks so defenceless there, naked, with its collection of hurts and corns,with its ingrown toenail that you haven`t had time for. Outside, the moon glares reddishly through your window. And there is your foot,lying so vulnerably,uncovered.
No.It`s silly.But you cover your foot with the sheet you refuse to use to cover the rest of the body. But you are uneasy.The small slug of doubt is working its way up your spine, leaving its tiny trail of phosphorescent slime into your mind. Yes, the moon did look strange tonight and the smell of the moonflowers is getting stronger. You have a sense of foreboding that is branching into galloping trepidation. Dammit, something has filtered into your room, there is a presence coming from that dark tree. You get up, and sweat runs in rivulets from your armpits to your thighs, but a slow night breeze half dries you up.It feels like the caress of an angel wing, barely brushing by you. Or the wing of a bat that only exists in your imagination, but has the power to scare you. The worst thing is that you hate to admit you want to look under the bed. There must be something there. It is humiliating but you have to look. And you do.You would never confess it to anyone. The sense of foreboding didn`t leave me alone all night.I know why I describe this is such a detailed fashion. Because the odour of the moonflowers had somehow seeped into my feverish brain and would only be a prelude to the strangest encounter I would have the following day, after being unable to sleep.
My trip back to my capital city would be finished by taking the yacht Gustavo Orozco on its maiden voyage. A small shiver went down my back when I climbed onto the ship. It wasn`t that I didn`t trust the captain or the crew. After I had simply put all my bags where they should be, I went outside to enjoy the breeze. I was almost dozing off when the same guy I had seen the night before at the diner where we had supper came over to say hello.After we chatted for a while, he went back to his duties since he was part of the boat`s crew. Then I finally dozed off.Only to see the lake Cocibolca on which we were navigating turn blood red. I woke up screaming. The guy with whom I had been chatting would rush to get me some hot tea and he tried to calm me down the best way he could. I told him about the lack of sleep the night before, and the strong odour of the moonflowers outside my bedroom window. He said moonflowers were hypnotic plants. It was only lack of sleep.
Several weeks later he came to visit me in Managua. He told me the isolated,air conditioned soft environment of my office at the bunker scared him. After three days in Managua he was bored and went back to his job at ENICAB, the company which had several yachts cruising the biggest lake we have here. I told myself my friend was just a sailor who couldn`t be out of the water for long,like fish. Just shrugged my shoulders and kept on working,but every time I heard Santanàs Moonflower I would feel something no other music evoked in me.
I never saw Carlos,for that was his name,again.One day I heard on the radio a greeting from him to someone. Tried to track him down, wanted to know if he was okay. Offer a job or a cup of coffee. Things you do for friends of whom you are fond but for whom you don`t have much time. I learned he was from the northern city of Jinotega. Some years later,chatting with a flower shop owner who got her supplies from Jinotega,she told me of the horrible death of a guy who had swallowed moonflower seeds,which are highly poisonous. It was the second time oemthing like that happened in Jinotega. Years ago, a man named Carlos had done the same.He had ingested them in 1986, but his mother had never recovered from the suicide.She was still alive. He had gone to her house after a three day visit to Managua, gone straight to the garden and picked up a whole cup of the seeds, and ate them. He had left nothing but a note in which he scribbled I am so unnecessary.
In Nicaragua the decade of the 80s left many people with something disconnected in their heads, no doubt. Many suicides occurred,and Carlos`demise was one more. I felt my heart heavy in my chest. As if I had swallowed not moonflower seeds but a whole strip of ammunition for an M60 submachine gun.
The I remembered that my mom had always been proud of her moonflower vine,but never had she been more puzzled when one night, all the blossoms had been reddish, like the moon disturbing my sleep on the last night in San Miguelito. Only one night had her vine given her reddish moonflowers. It had been back at the end of March in 1986.
My pragmatic, realistic side of my nature refuses to connect incidents and facts that have apparently no connection. I still love moonflowers,but I would never for anything in the world have a vine full of them in my house`s garden. Nevertheless, sometimes I feel I have to listen to Santana`s Moonflower in order to continue living at pace with my memories.Something which the sailor who died eating their seeds obviously couldn`t do.