Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Holy Kaka, Batman...
Why didn't I listen? Or not really listen, I listened, I just didn't pay attention. Actually, I paid attention...I just had not heeded the advice. Go figure.
Only moments ago I was strolling on the beach, enjoying the sound of the waves, the wind in my face and the warmth of the rising sun on my shoulders. I was distracted by the merchants setting up their wares. I had taken my wallet with me on my morning trek along the beach and was now currently engaged in bargaining with a local over the cost of a cow hoof flask.
After aquiring said flask, I moved to the next booth that had a gorgeous hand painted sarong dispalyed. The next had adorable clay buses, laden with bananas, animals and ukeleles. The buses even had little drivers in the front seat in national garb. This was a must have to bring home for my daughter. An artist stopped me and held out a few of his paintings. The good composition and colors made them irresistable. I added those to my growing collection of souvenirs.
The next thing I knew I was several blocks from the beach, the sound of the surf had been replaced by the honking of horns. The sweet smell of salt air now hung heavy with exhaust fumes. The protection of the beach and its armed guards were far in the distance, barely glimpsed from where I stood.
I had ventured into an area that at check in, the desk clerks warned the clientele about.
“Don’t go beyond the borders of the beach. You can shop at the beachside stands, but don’t go inland farther than that. We can’t guarantee your safety if you disregard these guidelines.” The desk clerk told us as he handed over our keys to our room. “Unfortunately, there has been some violence that has broken out between some gangs….we want our guests to have a nice trip and be safe on their visit here.”
Morgan and I nodded in agreement, clinked our margarita glasses together and wished ourselves a happy and safe trip as well. That was two days ago and a venerable memory now that I found that I had wandered into the wasteland of the waring locals without having paid attention. Far in the distance held the security of my lounge chair and the tiki hut that gave me my free mojitas, with fresh mint.
It was at that very moment of revelation of “Holy Crap, where am I!” that I heard the sound. Distinct. And close. Too close.
I used to shoot skeet when I was in high school. I dated a boy whose father was the chief of police AND also the owner of a gun club on the outskirts of town. I’d go out there with Nick and shoot from time to time. I found that I was pretty good at it. On my 16th birthday when other kids were getting cars from their parents and friendship rings from their beaus, I got a shotgun. It was beautiful.
Shotgun fire has a distinctive sound. Like a mini canon. Handguns have their own heavy ping and machine gun fire…well, I’ve never heard an actual, real, live machine gun. But I can distinguish the sound as having heard it many times in movies on HBO. THAT was the sound I was hearing now. Machine gun fire. Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat.
And it was nearby.
I ducked inside the makeshift booth made of plywood and canvas tarps, squatting down behind a table of clay pottery hoping that by staying low whatever was coming this way might miss me. I quickly looked around assessing my position and realized how out of place I looked. Obviously an American. Obviously from one of the posh resorts. Why the hell do I have my Raymond Weil watch on? And my gold and diamond stacker rings? I thought, “Sure as shit, I’m dead. I’m a walking fucking target.” I silently prayed and wished I had never left the beach. This may be the last place that I ever see….this dirt floor of this shabby shop on this dirty street. I felt like the characters in ‘An American Werewolf in London’ right before they were attacked. “Beware the Moors, stick to the road.”
They were on the moors when they heard the howl. They hadn’t stuck to the road. I was now in that same place. “What the fuck, Nancy. You are in serious deep kaka.”
I said a silent prayer asking God to protect me and if he couldn’t, for my daughter to forgive me if I didn’t make it back stateside alive. I promised that if I would live that I would always listen and take the advice given while on vacation. Or when anywhere for that matter. I promised myself that I would not buy another unneeded trinket ever, if I made it out of this roadside stand alive.
It was then that I felt the blast before I heard it. Literally felt it. I knew I was dead. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t scream. I was frozen.
You hear how when placed in certain situations how some people can react, others are unable to do so...frozen in place. Unable to run. Unable to move. Unable to scream. I always thought I would be the other kind. Ther person able to make a snap decision to save the day.
I was frozen stiff. Cold artic air pushed my hair back from my face and cold droplets fell onto my cheeks as I tried to protect my head in the…pillows?
"What the hell?"
I awoke from my slumber with a start! There had been an amazing ice storm the night before. The sound that my mind had associated with machine gun fire was actually the sound of the ice breaking off the branches and pelting the skylights in my bedroom with such force I feared they might break. The cottage windows over the window seat had blown open letting the raging storm into my bedroom. Sleet was dusting my face and arms unprotected by my comforter.
What had once been a wonderful recall dream of a warm tropical vacation had amazingly turned into a violent movie by the sound of the ice. I was safe. I was in my bed. I was not in the Dominican Republic. I was not being stalked by those with machine guns. I had, however, bought that cow hoof turned into a flask as a gift for my old boyfriend.
As I jumped out of bed to quickly close the window in my still sleepy state, I wondered if he still had that crazy vacation gift or had he tossed it out after our split. It was pretty cool. I wish I’d have kept that for myself as a reminder of my trip. I looked outside and was amazed at the absolute beauty the storm had left behind. Ice covered everything. The trees glistened like diamonds. Entire branches thickly encased in the freeze. It was early, but I had to capture this on film.
I grabbed my camera and coat and headed outside to photograph what I saw. Not only the beauty of it all, but the sound of the trees blew me away. As if they were talking with one another complaining of the extra weight their branches now had to hold because of their diamond burden. I stood there, mouth agape, taking it all in.
And at this moment I again heard the sound of machine gun fire, which made me jump, just a little, in my skin. "I'm awake. There is no machine guns here!", I thought to myself as I stood in my driveway at dawn still in my pj's and boots. Or at least I hope not.
The sound was coming from my Nikon. The lens clicking away like machine gun fire, Rat-a-tat-tat-tat, as I tried to capture, unsuccessfully, the absolute beauty that Mother Nature had left for me to behold.