Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bearing the Blues

At a bus shelter there was an ad: a photo that showed a bear about to catch a salmon in a stream. The ad advertised easy money, peace of mind, or something like that.

On the bus someone said ingloriously, “we’re packed like salmon in a can of food for cats.” Someone else was commenting on a story from that morning's newspaper, a story about a homeless bear that was roaming the suburbs, hunting for scraps in garbage cans.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Los pinitos de Fénix

Hizo leña del árbol caído. De la leña, brasas. De las brasas salió el pájaro y le cayó a picotazos.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lo amargo del bolero

Cada miércoles, antes de salir para el trabajo, Chico Wolfe celebra su mediodía de bolero. A las 12:15 pone un limón entero, un cubo de hielo y media taza de agua en la Oster que heredó de su madrina. La enciende, y nomás ve que el limón empieza a magullarse, y el cubo de hielo a volverse escarcha, la apaga. No deja Chico que la suspensión se asiente por más tiempo del que le toma poner el disco (12:17).

Vaso en mano (el mismo Tupperware, apenas enjuagado, del que bebe su Toddy mañanero), de pie a la única ventana del sótano donde vive, y al carraspeo de las frituras del disco de Tony Guédez, que lo acompaña desde hace más de cinco lustros, Chico hace como que ve hacia la calle (12:18): la lluvia orquesta encuentros impensados que pronto se harán furtivos, gracias a tacones que se rompieron y paraguas olvidados junto a una puerta. Violines y trompetas se largan en un preludio histriónico (12:18) tras el cual prorrumpe una voz quejicosa (12:19):

"Ya no quedan amores imposibles…" (12:19)

Chico entonces apura el trago (12:19) y mira hacia afuera como meditabundo.

Su ventana en realidad da a un callejón soleado. A las 12:20, sin falta, llega el camión de la basura.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ministry of Rice, FAQ and Troubleshooting (excerpts from a draft)

Q: What is a monthly-pound-of-rice voucher?

A: It is a voucher with which you can claim your monthly pound of rice.

Q: How do I apply for a monthly-pound-of-rice voucher?

A: You need to be at least 21 years of age, application form filled out (write to us for an application packet); proof of work; proof of residence; proof of qualifying number of people benefiting from your monthly pound of rice (not fewer than four, each of whom must submit proof of dependency, included in application packet); proof of merit; no record of crimes, including crimes of moral turpitude; certificate of moral solvency issued within the last two weeks of your effective application; three referees (each of whom must submit their respective proofs listed above, except proof of dependency as referees must not be dependent upon anybody else); and a letter from a doctor affiliated to The Wellness Network for a Healthy Happy People (TWNFAHHP), in which he or she certifies your need for rice. Letters from doctors not affiliated to the TWNFAHHP are not accepted. You must submit a cover letter listing the aforementioned items as enclosures, in the order specified above, plus a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Q: How do I know if my monthly-pound-of-rice voucher application was approved?

A: We receive many applications and have a limited number of Ministry of Rice Application Processing Agents (MORAPA). Your application will be assigned to a MORAPA. To determine whether your application has been assigned to a MORAPA, please see our website for the receipt date of applications currently being processed. Do not contact us to inquire into the status of your application. If we inform you that your application was approved, it was approved. If we inform you that your application was rejected, it was rejected. If you do not hear from us, either your papers got lost somewhere or who knows. In exceptional cases, we might process your application late, but only if the application satisfies the conditions mentioned above. Applications which at the moment of review have reached their expiration date and time, or are within 72 hours of reaching their expiration date and time, do not qualify for late processing.

Q: Why was I rejected?

A: For several reasons, lack of sufficient documentation and/or errors in the application being among the most common. Due to the volume of applications that we process, we cannot give you an account of what was wrong; it is for you to find out. We recommend that you keep several copies of each document submitted: this would help you detect the possible source of rejection. The next time you must be more careful at providing the right documentation in a timely manner. Rejections often result from monthly applications having expired as a consequence of not being processed on time.

Q: Do I need an ID to buy rice?

A: Yes. Both your ID and personalized monthly-pound-of-rice voucher are required to check in at the selling point.

Q: Where do they sell rice?

A: In a number of locations, obviously. You may find rice anywhere during business hours of each respective location (for example, at a hardware store, a stadium, a kindergarten room, the post office, a movie theater, the hospital, or your boss’s house). People standing in line may be an indicator; however, there are different motives for standing in line. While you could always ask if you are in the correct line, nothing guarantees that you will obtain the desired answer―or that the answer obtained, even if desirable, is the correct one.

Q: I cannot find rice anywhere.

A: Ask yourself these two fundamental questions:

1) “How hard have I tried to find rice?” Try harder the next time. You have probably not tried hard enough. You can always try harder.

2) “Do I really need rice?” Consider other options, like corrugated cardboard, mandarin lessons, a plumber or a thimble, which sometimes are easier to obtain. However, keep in mind that these items obviously do not qualify for purchases with the monthly-pound-of-rice voucher, and—naturally— that they each need their respective vouchers.

Q: I heard the other day that they were selling rice at the bus station. I went there and stood in line for several hours—only to find that it had been sold out one week earlier.

A: By indulging in rumor you contribute to the spreading of it. Experiences like this constitute irrefutable proof that rumors do not help anyone to find rice. On the other hand, it might have occurred to you that those wasted hours could have been used to stand in the correct line.

Q: My monthly-pound-of-rice voucher is going to expire in one week. Although I have tried to use it since I received it three days ago, it has been impossible so far. I have either stood in the wrong line or the rice had been sold out before I could check in.

A: Be aware of this simple fact: nobody will ever find rice by standing in the wrong line. A successful search is about being at the right place and time, with a positive attitude. Do the right thing and be positive: after all, you still have time to keep trying.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

Chico Wolfe at the library

The keyboard has been idling for several minutes. A hyaline reflection of his double chin, fading in and out, on the screen, replicates the displacement of dreary clouds filtered through the skylight of the reading room. Chico Wolfe has been trying to glue together the shards of a recent episode in his life, which involves a lollipop and the hissing at it of a gray cat; but his mind wanders to a photo pervaded with darkness, a puddle of blood mirroring the darkness, and a hat by the puddle, in a book by Harry Benson. It’s barely past noon.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Crane and Cables

Article 694

The Central Government and each of its dependencies will respect the privacy of your problems as long as these remain yours. Making your problems ours is a crime punishable by law.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Notas emboscadas

Lágrimas y lágrimas, desengaños, engaños nuevos, renovados desengaños. Enjambres de súbitos pastores (y pastoras) no curtidos para los apriscos incultos, que confían al monte sus despechos, que en el monte sufren y sollozan sin cesar y sin mengua de sus bellos atributos (son montes edénicos, con río, desprovistos de alimañas, calores y nevadas, polvo y lodazales). Pastores (y pastoras) que no mucho antes moraban en la “principal y antigua ciudad de León”. Refinados pastores (y pastoras) a quienes ha reunido el azar infalible; que leen y releen sus cartas de amor con inalterable frenesí; que cantan la pérdida de sus amadas (y amados) al son de rabeles y zampoñas. Hordas de pastores (y pastoras) acogotados de suspiros, que en el mismo monte recitan sonetos bien escandidos, y, en recitando, se juran más solos que Sirio.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lecturas fragmentarias

Abro el libro al azar; página 190. Empiezo a leer. “5 December 1982. Invited to dinner by Madame Yourcenar and Jerry, just the three of us at the Takanawa ―sole for her, abalone for him, steak for me”. Alguien irrumpe a la mesa a mis espaldas: el cataplum de un bulto muerto cayendo encima de la mesa, el chirrido de una silla, tramitan la ocupación. Cada movimiento suyo (puedo verlo conforme voy por mi café recién anunciado) se regodea en un énfasis de jugador de fútbol americano zigzagueando solitario entre moles de aire. Cada ruidito que profiere (de nuevo a mis espaldas) es más aparatoso de lo que uno juzgaría necesario para sacar municiones y demás pertrechos de su mochila; colocar el conjunto sobre la mesa, articularlo, y largarse en un desaforado clic, clic, clic, ráfagas de clics de ratón.