Saturday, July 17, 2010
The Crazy Black Lady from Haitia and Other Bummers
Okay, so I had this dream last night. I was filming a documentary about some sort of political strife in this country called Haitia. (I'm guessing that maybe watching documentaries about the earthquake in Haiti brought this on.) So anyway, I'm standing on this plateau overlooking the capital city, and I'm interviewing this woman who was essentially my guide. She's totally naked, save for a bright blue turban made out of rags, and she has iron-black skin and was so dark I couldn't see her eyes. She was tall and lanky, about 6 or 7-feet tall, with all the curves and the proportions of a long evening shadow.
Any hoo, she was explaining that crime and drugs were the chief problems in her country, and she pointed down at a recently-extinguished fire pit that was strewn with small, orange, plastic contraptions that looked suspiciously like medical devices. Though she didn't explain what the drug was or how those tools were used, all she said was, "it make dem go crazy," and she spun her finger at her temple.
The jet-black, naked woman/girl-thing pointed out that we were standing on a long, looping path leading up to one of the ugly, swollen hills that loomed over the city; a curdled greenish-yellow at the top, an angry red at its base, like a cyst. "We don't go there," she said, and explained that all of the dealers, pimps, murderers and thieves of the country live up there. The police are terrified of citizens being seduced by the dangers of that hill, but since the country is so poorly managed, the path isn't blocked off or restricted; the police are forced to hide behind bushes and shoot unwary hikers on site.
In the distance, two young girls, wearing brightly-colored burkas are seen wandering up onto the path, and my guide starts running while screaming warnings at them. But since the road's so filthy and gravelly, the woman can only hop and limp while her bare feet are cut on the garbage and rocks. As the undercover police run out from the scraggly bushes to murder the girls, another group of men appear from behind a boulder and attack the cops. We realize that the men are relatives of the girls, and they had used the girls as bait to start a civil war. This conflict immediately spreads down into the city, and my guide and I wind up getting swept up in the fight. We run down into town, and witness a horribly violent uprising taking place around a giant factory posing as an elementary school.
I know, right?
So through all the chaos, it's impossible for me to tell the difference between the undercover cops and the citizens. But through the smoke, I see the ragged blue turban of my guide. Her deep black skin was now streaked a blistered white, and I could see her eyes now, all bulging and crazed, her limbs ragged and static. Someone had thrown bleach on her. She was wandering in slow, deliberate circles around the fight. I was screaming desperately for her to go away, to take cover in the woods, but all it seemed to do was deflect her for a moment, then she would stagger back into her crazy orbit.
Eventually the fighting ground to a halt, though there were still gunshots and screams in the distance. There were only a few survivors left among the piles of bodies, and the few that could stand were watching one man stand over another man; I couldn't tell which one was the police and which one was the citizen, at this point. The one who could walk slowly paced around the wounded man, just like my guide was hovering around this particular block of fighting. I remember screaming at the man to not kill the injured one, because the war was over, and - this line stuck out for me - I remember shouting, "if he dies, we won't be able to find out who won."
The pacing man stopped and stared at me. He looked exactly like one of the autistic residents of the group home I managed a decade ago, before moving to New York. He was dark-eyed, Mexican, and missing one of his front teeth, and he always smiled broadly. But finally, when I thought I had successfully talked him down, he suddenly stopped pacing. The depth of his eye contact told me that he made his decision and then he reared-up and kicked the man's nose deep into his head. At that moment in the dream, I woke up to the dog licking my nostrils, her way of telling me to take her outside.
So after all that bullshit, what's the deal?
See, about a month ago, I was really struggling about how to anchor these new wolf-people folks into the narratives of this series I'm developing. I was thinking about these new dog-characters, and their wealthy, decadent society that's based purely around their seduction of wayward children, and how they would introduce themselves into the "world" I had been working on for however-long. So one night in the studio, while staring at some blank panels and wondering what the fuck I'm supposed to do with them, I suddenly started thinking about my dad. He used to take my family camping when I was kid. I remember one time in particular, he put little bells on all of our backpacks to ward off any bears who might potentially be in the area. Funny: as a 9 year-old, that made perfect sense. It seemed like such a considerate idea, and I pictured a family of bloodthirsty bears politely gathering up their cubs and moving on as soon as they heard little tinkling bell sounds. Now, though, thinking back on that, those bears completely missed out on the fact that those fragile noises woulda led to the prettiest-sounding dinner bell of their lives.
Several of those times, while we were all out into the woods, my dad would stress the importance of staying on the trail we were using. Because if you veered off, he'd pant, you could get lost or hurt. To a small, overly-protected kid who grew up in the suburbs, the weight of those words, "lost" and "hurt," were kind of mind-blowing, especially when traveling to an unknown destination in the middle of some vast and unfamiliar forest. Years and years later, he died drunk and alone. Oh, well.
So nowadays, the idea of The Path is starting to become as much of a presence in the new series as any of my other characters. It's softened my original ideas of the wolf-people a little bit. They're luring the kids, while at the same time it's clear that they're up to no good. The wolf-people are starting to become a kind of manifestation of all the things that are about to wrong, of all the things we don't understand yet take for granted, and of all the things or people or ideas that we're taught to live with comfortably every day that are actually out to get us. So as much of a narrative "centerpiece" as The Path is, it totally doesn't matter because the protection and safety we're promised by staying on it is just some fake little painting.
Ugh. Too much. Any ideas of how to lighten up would be greatly appreciated.