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Week of the Shadow

May 3rd, 2007 · Written by · No Comments

Once a week, Quinn walks up the hill to visit Arbelia. He brings her books of photographs and mix tapes. Quinn is a 25-year-old curious cat born in a small town, brought ‘round the states, soaking it up and wringing it out. Arbelia is an 80-year-old sorceress, songwriter, biker, gardener, mother and Grandmother. She has been incarcerated for 25 years. Quinn has been learning piano. Arbelia has been writing her memoirs. They were introduced by a mutual friend and have been visiting for a year and a half or so. They have created a cushion of mutual respect. A true place to start to speak from. They’ve been calling it traveling. With work and play along the way. So once a week, Quinn heads down to the prison for a brief visitation and he and Arbelia hit the road together.

Quinn: I’m not so good.
Arbelia: Me either.

Q: I can at any moment feel instantly sick about some of the things I’ve done.
A: Amen.

Q: I’m having trouble with all of this, Arbelia. I’m trying to shake my shadow’s hand.
A: Yes… Good. Me, too. I’m in the slammer, Quinn. My shadow is in my hair, in my mouth, on my skin. You have taken a step in your head. That’s good. But please be careful. The darkness will take you for a wild-ass ride. You can lose yourself over there making love to the gloom. In here turning down the lights in the room. Are you recording this?

Q: Yeah. I always record us. Is that still ok?
A: Oh, I don’t know. Does it help you listen? It makes me want to get rhythmic, so yeah it’s still OK. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. It makes me want to rhyme.

Q: Yes.
A: On New Year’s Eve 1969 I was watching the Band of Gypsies, Quinn.

Q: What?
A: Yes. And Jimi was right there in front of me glowing dark blue and red and he could feel it all and kick it all out and it was the sixties turning into the seventies and it was a time of death and war and he knew he was being recorded. I felt like we could have all died in that moment and it would’ve been OK.

Q: Damn.
A: Yes. Damn. Jimi was burning. So bright he had to die young. We swallowed him up quick. We had a bad taste in our mouth. We could feel it all submerging and darkness was descending. But a lot of us are still here and still working. Like you.

Q: I’m trying to learn and lately I’m feeling like I’m not enough. I don’t even feel like much of a humane human these days. I’m right in the thick of the killing.
A: Oh Quinn, you’re breaking my heart. It’s true! But you’re an individual, born into a system. You can’t take on the pain of the whole system, it’s not yours. You can still work and play and love and give…

Q: I can’t even tell you how bad it is out there.
A: It’s pretty bad in here, too. But it’s pretty good in here, too.

Q: You must hate it, Arbelia.
A: Oh… Ouch. I have had hurt and I continue to. Just like the worst of the worst out there. But I wouldn’t use the capitol H word.

Q: Hate?
A: I’d rather hear my children swear than say that word.

Q: Your children are all grown up.
A: Damn. Yes. Let’s send them a little blessing right now, Quinn. I have three children, you know.

Q: I do know.
A: They know me too well to like me.

Q: But they love you.
A: I love them. We’ve seen our shadows up close. We’ve spit fire down each other’s throats. But the love stays put.

Q: Arbelia, I lose track of love.
A: Ooh… Yes. It hurts like death inside of life. But love’s still right here looking for you, young man. Keep your door open! Keep your windows open and your skylight clear. The questions are enough for now.

Q: You know how to help me.
A: Quinn, how many of your friends have older human beings that they can talk to?

It’s being recorded and erased at the same time.

Q: Only a few.
A: Listen, baby, I live for this here with you. I’ve lived a long life, but I don’t have thousands of days left anymore. And neither do you. We’re sharing something holy here. Right now your dark side needs to be aired out. And that’s what we’re doing here. You seem very sad and very rushed.

Q: I’m not. I’m just anxious and… I guess I’m really sad. There are so many things that make me sad. I can’t even begin to think of them all.
A: You can. It’s all medicine. All blessings. Some wear disguises. There is soul power to be drawn out of this quagmire.

Q: This visit has gotten all diluted because of my sadness. I wanted to lift your spirits and give you something. I feel like I just showed up and took your energy away from you and now you’ll have to go back feeling drained.
A: Ahh!… Relax. I feel good. We need this. I’m not worried. You’re right where you need to be – becoming a man. Got to go through it. No way around it. You can feel it.

Q: Thank you.
A: You’re welcome, baby.

Q: No, really. I don’t know how to thank you. You’ll never know.
A: Oh, well, you’ll never know either, we just have these little chances to feel as much as we can, right? We can kick it out like no one’s ever done before! It’s all us. It’s all you. It’s all free in the end. It’s all nothing. It’s all something. It’s being recorded and erased at the same time. This whole rig is just hanging by a thread.

Q: It hurts.
A: You know this. It heals, too. Dwell where you wish. You’re widening as we sit here breathing and blinking. I’m receiving something special from you. I always do.

Q: I feel so much for you and I know I’ve got work to do.
A: OK. Yes. Damn. We’re working right now. Or did you clock out?

Q: No. But it looks like I might have to leave.
A: Yes, they’re saying it’s time. Time for you to dive back into the field of life.

Q: And time for you to abide in the four walls. We will rise up.
A: Yes. Eye level. Can’t rise any higher than eye level. You go out and give it away, Quinn. Cry it out and then cry some more. When the shadows rise, rise up with them and be brave and stay open, not clenched. It is easy to clench up and you have much too much to give to just be a fist. You have to go through this, you can’t go around it. It is for you and it is you and you are medicine.

Q: Oh, thank you Arbelia. You make me feel so free. I will see you next week. There’s more. I love you.
A: You’re welcome for nothing. Sooner than later, baby. I love you, too.

Read the Week of the Creek
Read the Week of the Steeple

Tags: Fiction ·

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