Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yellow Tigers Crouched In Jungles In Her Dark Eyes

Things had shaped up into mostly mud and drudgery by then. I was twenty-two and released from the gates of Camp Pendelton about six months before, still alive (beyond my expectations) and without a plan, money, or any desire to go home. I was trying to do the right thing by someone I loved, in a young idealist's way, who was struggling a little more than I. By the time this night came around, I was working two jobs, breaking freight,  and sleeping an hour or two in my van between shifts.

I paid the bills and she complained. I grew resentful and shut down. She branched out and started making other plans.

Mike Russell, who always slept with a 9mm locked and loaded under his pillow, got in touch with me from out of the past one night. We went out to a rock 'n roll night club in El Cajon. We drank, and I felt pretty good for the first time in a while. I had a shaved head then and wore boots and a Charles Manson t-shirt.

At some point I found myself watching a girl dance. She really wanted to dance but her boyfriend was too cool or too shy, and he wouldn't stay on the floor with her for long. She was Mexican, liked hard rock songs and stood about five feet tall.

When she danced, she flew. I immediately felt like I could see her soul. I mean she danced - let herself go and gave it all.

Anyway, the D.J. played White Room by Cream. I knew it would move her, and she was moving me, so I asked her to dance right in front of her boyfriend with Charlie Manson staring on from my shirt.

Her dark eyes sparkled and dazzled and smiled with the excitement of music and, taking my hand, she led me to the dance floor. Only the two of us danced. We sweat from one end of the floor to the other and back several times and lost ourselves.

I think of that letting go now with great longing. She never spoke to me in words, and I said only thank you.

Fall always spins the wheel of memory and, tonight, it landed here.

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