Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dust of the Earth, Chapter 9

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 with our narrator getting to know Ehmet ( Don Pedro's mute Indian servant) a little better.  We've just learned that Ehmet had saved our narrator from a fall out of a tree ("The Tree Of Life")...

Chapter 9
"I would meet Don Pedro, usually in his study"

I felt a little manipulated by Don Pedro - that he was using my interest in Anna Socorro to get me to visit him. On the other hand, maybe Don Juan was trying to set me up with her, which seemed like a believable thing for a grandfather to do, though this kind of matchmaking rarely seemed to be successful. Yet there was something fascinating about him, and so I began to visit the old man. 
It soon became clear that my comings and goings needed to be covert, always using the back entrance to the sprawling Castellano Manor. I never saw more than the rear rooms of the house, and even that part was spacious. I got the idea that Raul Castellano had sequestered Don Pedro in the back of the home and the two rarely encountered each other. Ana Socorro's rooms were towards the front of the house, though she spent much of her time with her grandfather, caring for him, acting as his arms and legs or items out of reach, but most often simply sitting with him engaged in conversation. There was obviously a great love between the two, as great as the paucity of affection between Ana Socorro and her father.
Ana Socorro's mother had died from cancer a few years previously, and her relationship with her father began to grow distant after Maria Luisa's death. Raul started working long hours, and speculation was that he became more actively involved with his clients in organized crime at this time. But he made sure that Ana Socorro went to the best schools, associated with all the right people, and stayed actively involved in the Church. Her quinceanera was the grandest that had been seen in Tucson in many years. Unknown to party guests, however, was that the biggest event of Ana Socorro's fifteenth birthday party was her engagement to a thirty-five year old associate of Raul's. These sorts of arrangements were common in earlier times. Tucson pioneer Sam Hughes had married a twelve-year-old Mexican girl from a prominent family. They had a successful marriage that lasted till Hughes died in old age. In the late 1970s, though, such an arrangement needed to be kept secret. When Ana Socorro eventually told me of the engagement, she seemed to accept it with equanimity.

    When I visited Don Pedro, I would be met at the back gate of the home by Ehmet, the big Indian. He would escort me into the house, where I would meet Don Pedro, usually in his study. Don Pedro and I would talk, and I would help him with various tasks - shelving books, getting other books down, helping him organize papers and photographs. Don Pedro would tell me about the contents of each book, and if I seemed interested, he would lend me the book, and we would discuss it on my next visit. In this way, I received a better education than I had ever gotten in high school. It was a 'great books' course of learning, I suppose, but filtered through Don Pedro's personal tastes and my own receptiveness.

There is a light that goes on when you pique a person's interest, and when a teacher recognizes this light, he sees a true student. And when the student follows this light, it will take him down the path of true learning. Forced schooling breeds resentment, and everything learned formally dissipates rapidly. True knowledge - like true love -- lasts forever and informs every aspect of a person's life.

To Be Coninued...

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