Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dust of the Earth, chapter 8

Welcome to the continuing serialized version of Phantom Limbs' bassist Jim Parks' novel, Dust Of The Earth, a Tucson story about Tucson history, mystery, other worlds, desert mojo, forbidden love, and the fledgling Tucson music scene... (c) by Jim Parks, reprinted with permission

We left off last time with our narrator waking on the couch of a book-lined room in the home of Ana Socorro Castellano's grandfather, Pedro Martin.    

Chapter 8
"I looked towards Ehmet, but couldn't hold his gaze for long."
I felt a little defensive. "I'm not sure what you mean. But thank you for looking after me. And thank Ana Socorro for me." I got to my feet, but felt lightheaded and sat back down on the sofa.
    "You should thank Ehmet, as well." Don Pedro gestured to the big Indian, who was now standing in the doorway. Ehmet picked you up after you had fallen from a tree that grows in the alley next to our yard."

    I looked towards Ehmet, but couldn't hold his gaze for long. I thanked him and he nodded in response.

    "Ehmet is mute," Don Pedro explained. "He is my servant and looks after Ana Socorro. I dislike the term 'servant', but I dislike euphemism even more. You could call him my helper, if you find that more palatable."

    Ehmet held a saucer with a cup of coffee on it. He set it down on the end table next to the couch.

    "Are you a coffee drinker?" Don Pedro asked.

    "I think I am this morning," I replied. "Where is Ana Socorro?"

    "Already at school. And that after attending morning mass. Bless her heart, she's a faithful soul."

    Looking around the room again, I noticed another shelf full of philosophical titles. I had completed a semester at the University of Arizona before dropping out. I recognized some of the authors from the humanities course I had taken. There were also books about anthropology and archaeology. Many of the books on the shelves around me had titles in foreign languages. I would find out that Don Pedro was fluent in Spanish of course, as well as English and German; he could converse passably in all the Romance languages; and he read classical Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

    On one high shelf was an ancient looking menorah, about which I became curious. This menorah would later be the subject of a revelation about Don Pedro and his family. But sitting there that morning, I began to feel uncomfortable and just wanted to go home to my own bed. I rose again and was able to remain standing.

    "Ehmet will show you out," Don Pedro said. "Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, you must leave through the back door. Not all are welcome here in the Castellano home. I myself am barely tolerated." He seemed grimly amused.

    As Ehmet guided me out, Don Pedro stopped me.

    "You know, Ehmet told me that you spoke to him from the tree before you fell."

    "I thought Ehmet couldn't talk."

    "He doesn't speak, but he can communicate through signs and also through writing. He is quite literate."

    "Well, I'm sure I said all kinds of things last night. I hope I didn't offend anyone."

    "Actually, you spoke to him in his native tongue. In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs."

    I looked at Don Pedro skeptically. 

    "The doors of perception, my son. There are mysterious worlds open only to poets and madmen - or those who make themselves briefly mad by ingesting certain substances. This is of interest to me. I would be grateful if we could meet again. Perhaps you could thank Anna Socorro in person."

 To Be Continued...

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