My friend Ugo once told me a story. It was 1961, the year he turned eighteen. It was a time when getting out of Argentina wasn’t easy, especially for a kid prone to getting into trouble with the law. Ugo never told me exactly how his obsession with Rudolph Valentino had begun. I suspect it was because Valentino was the only man his mother ever allowed herself to admire. She had raised him on her own with the dignity of a catholic widow, somber and always wearing black. Remarrying was never an option so she enlisted the local priest to impart a strict education to her son. Ugo would have none of it and as soon as he was out of their sight, he would get into all sorts of mischief. His obsession with “the movies” was his ticket out of a dead-end job or a life behind bars. For as much as she hated to see him go, the fear of what could happen if he had stayed was enough to make sure he was given a chance. With the help of a family friend, Ugo was able to set-up a meeting at the American Embassy to be considered for a visa. Back in those days, coming to the U.S. from South America was no easy task. Every applicant had to undergo a thorough moral assessment, answer several questions, and prove they had the financial means to cover the costs of the trip. People spent months preparing for their meetings and gathering the necessary documentation in the hopes of being granted passage to the promised land. If your application was denied, it could take months, sometimes years, before you’d be allowed to try again. Ugo showed up late, hungover, and clueless. The interviewer was the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina himself. Without exchanging pleasantries, the Ambassador began the screening process. Ugo failed to produce any of the required documentation and couldn’t answer any of the questions. Before ending the interview and sending the applicant on his way, the Ambassador asked one last question, and that was the one question Ugo was certain he knew the answer to.
“Why do you want to go to America?”
Ugo’s eyes lit up, his mouth widened into the beautiful smile only a dreamer has and he answered:
“I want to be a movie star!”
The Ambassador remained silent for a long time. He sat there looking at a young man with big dreams and very little sense. In a way, that was how the American dream had began a few centuries ago. That day Ugo was granted a green card and he has been living in Hollywood ever since.
It was the summer of ‘62, and Dick’s first time walking down Hollywood Boulevard. He had left San Francisco with a bitter taste in his mouth. ‘Too many beatniks’ he had told his live-in girlfriend one freezing summer evening. The next day he packed his bags and headed south for the resort town of Los Angeles. The bus ride was long and uncomfortable but when he stepped out of the Greyhound terminal into the LA summer air he felt like he had made the right choice.
Dick reached out to the few people he knew in town. He quickly learned the expression ‘Southern hospitality’ did not apply to Southern California. Fortunately, the Charles Dickens would have him. Truth be told, the Charles Dickens would have anyone brave enough to drag himself through the lobby doors. The room was small, making the bed very easy to find. He was exhausted, but the heat had other plans for him. The city came in through the open window loudly. For a moment he missed San Francisco, then he remembered the beatniks. His girlfriend, Rita, paid a visit to his mind next. She was probably sleeping through the cool night. He hated her. He hated her for being too selfish to quit her job, abandon her blind father, and follow him to the land of dreams. Most of all, he hated her because she was certainly sleeping with the window closed. He could never understand some people. The night came and went, hating this and that, and without major incidents. As the morning heat rose through the building, it became clear someone had committed suicide in the room next door. They did it quietly and respectfully, and if it wasn’t for the stench of rotting flesh the tortured soul might have gone unnoticed. The heat had no mercy for the living let alone the dead. But then again, for all he knew, the Charles Dickens always smelt that way. Escaping to the streets was the only sensible thing to do.
Continue reading Dick Goes to Hollywood
Sooner or later everyone misses the rain. It just happens. You wake up one day alone in a strange town you’ve been living in for the past twenty years and are certain you don’t belong. The problem with the sun is that it makes it difficult to hide from others and yourself. I checked to see if the bag was still under the bed. It was. It wasn’t a dream. I pulled it out and stared at all that cash. It represented the dreams and aspirations of decent people I no longer cared for.
Clear skies. Waiting for darkness was not an option. I threw a few things on top of the money and headed out of town. Once the parking meters were no longer lining the sidewalk I knew I’d be in the clear, at least for a few hours. Rural America came up on me quick. I felt remorse for the smiles I had shared with the good people of the Clarkson Farmers Savings & Loans. It was only a matter of time before they would discover their colleague was a crook.
Continue reading Clear Skies
I want to be free.
Desire, pain, sadness, greed, hatred, fear and the list goes on and on.
I need your help, your guidance.
You are wise. People everywhere say you are wise, they come to you for advice.
People are misguided.
Continue reading Chatting Up The Master
Jack had a secret, something he had never told anyone. Ever since he could remember he fantasized about killing anyone he met. As a child he had assumed everyone was spending their time plotting means for the extermination of their fellow human beings. The planning started out very simple, a brick over the head, a knife in the back, but over time it became more and more complex and the culprit always remained undetected.
When Jack was old enough to realize others didn’t share his inclinations toward premeditated murder he did all he could to modify his way of thinking. As a young boy, he established what he aptly named ‘a course of purification’ through a series of mental exercises that ultimately proved futile. The more he tried and the more gruesome were the fates of his victims. Unable to eradicate the evil, he learned to coexist with his mental habit vowing to never let another soul discover it.
A few schoolyard confrontations had proven to him beyond a doubt that he was a coward. After getting past the initial shame he welcomed this discovery that would most likely prevent him from ever acting upon his secret impulses. From then on he busied himself in becoming the man his cowardly ancestors would have wanted him to be, an invisible man.
Continue reading Jack’s World
“It pours out of you like a torrent.”
Michael moves up to the window. The fog crept slowly over the hills leaving the trees exposed to the last remaining sunlight.
“Do you see that?”
John turns his face away.
“You’ll never see it if you don’t look.”
“There’s nothing to see.”
“Yes there is.”
“The world! The whole wide world is out there.”
Continue reading Hello World