Raven’s Gift (part three)

She wore a cherry hat

The Native man running on the plains of Kansas looks up to the sky after hearing me call him as I ride my flying horse Rico. The runner interrupts his southwestern race, waves at us and shouts back:

“No, thank you! I’m almost there. I have gone back to a few past villages to see what I had been up to, but now I really long to see Pat, my Mimi… How is your trip going so far?”

“Good, great, thanks! But, Pat or Mimi?” I ask in awe. “Are you Rudy?”

“Well of course! Who did you think I was?”

“It is your voice for sure but, you look like a Native runner from down in Mexico. I’d say at least four centuries ago…”

The man looks down at his clothes and explains “Oh, true… Like I said, I visited some regions of the past, here on Limboland, possible scenarios of former isles of me… Before my Mexican escapades I recently was on a limbo trip to Old England, actually. But you’re right, I should go back to my latest appearance, or maybe Mimi will have trouble recognizing me! I know sometimes it happens, at least it happened on Earth, I guess not so much in our soul form.”

He snaps his fingers and now takes the appearance of the Rudy I saw in the picture album he showed me over cherry pie: a young man with black, curly hair about to marry the woman of his dreams, Patricia.

She was born in Indiana and spent her childhood in Kansas, but her family would often visit New Mexico, which eventually made her want to move to Rudy’s state. I had the privilege and joy to sit by one of Pat’s close childhood friends while attending Bless Me, Última, the opera. It was as if we had always known each other. Much emotion was shared that day.

Rico and I are landing by Rudy the runner to walk beside him for a while, and offer again to give him a ride.

“Rudy, really, Rico can take you where you go,” I say.

“No, no, gracias. I must take this journey by myself. We all have to, in Limboland. Like I said, I’m almost there. I’m only an hour away from Elkhart.”

“Elk and Hart… What a sweet name,” I say. “An ode to my dear deer family. Maybe Elkhart is where jackalopes grow their antlers…”

“I see this Rico horse is Jack the Jackalope in your dream!” says Rudy, stroking Rico’s muzzle. “I’m glad that you two are staging, or retelling my tío Juan’s story, the one I immortalized in my children’s book…” says Rudy. “Seeing my legacy being passed down is what makes me happy to transition and go living behind the veil now that I’ve walked through life’s looking glass. Walking… Do you know how wonderful it feels to walk and run again?!?! I want to see the place of Mimi’s childhood memories before our wedding day.”

“What is the year of your earth wedding?” I ask.

“1966,” Rudy answers.

“I will never forget that year. I won’t forget anything of all I’m experiencing in this dream, actually. Both in waking and sleeping states. Go, Rudy, go and marry your love for eternity. Send her my best wishes for a wonderful afterlife together. You are missed across the veil, but yes, you did leave us a huge legacy. Be happy,” I say as I hug him my very last goodbye.

“Gracias, hijita. You are building a good bridge to love too. I bless you in the name of all that is strong and beautiful. Soon you will never again feel lonely. Fly to the place where you left that soul splinter, the obsidian mirror shard that choked you, and then run back home!”

“Gracias, Rudy. I will. Take good care on this side of the veil…”

Rudy smiles and resumes his run, and Rico and I are elevating from the ground.

Go where I go, Rico. Go, go, go!” I whisper to the ear of my magical horse, and off we are among the clouds.

“I’m so happy I got to meet him in person!” whinnies Rico. “So we’re supposed to be in the year 1966 now? It’s when Walt Disney died…”

“A year full of magic both above and below,” I whisper. “A year of ascending and falling stars blessing us with their existence.”

“Speaking of magic,” adds Rico, “I wonder where Rudy’s pink merry-go-round horse may be now.”

“Me too. Who knows… Such strange things are happening over here, maybe we’ll meet that horse again! Run now, guapo, run!”

“¡¡SeeeeeeeeeHeeeeeeeeHeeeeeeeHeeeee!!!” agrees my multilingual horse, taking us back to a higher altitude at our cruising speed.

We chat as we go, sky-tracing the invisible line that separates Kansas from Oklahoma. I try to imagine how it felt for all the “Okies” who had to leave their home when the “dustbowl” phenomenon hit. Many of them ended up founding a new home in Nuevo México. Those families left it all behind. They were truly “gone with the wind”…

The exact minute I formulate the thought, Rico is suddenly propelled upward by a mighty wind, and it starts to get pretty cold around us.

“What is happeni…. Oh my God what is wrong with my voice!? I am sounding like a cartoon character. Is this sorcery or what?”

“No,” says Rico in a similar cartoonish voice. “We’re healing, well, we’re heliUMing!!! Remember our conversation about helium, ‘heal YUM’? We’ve just reached Dexter, THE helium place in Kansas, back in the day. And in the dream world, helium, like everything else, is ten times more powerful!”

“I see… I remember reading something about Kansas helium. At first, the locals dismissed the value of a gas that would not burn; they called it the wind gas… Man, my voice though!!! I am sounding like Minnie Mouse in a cartoon from the thirties!”

“Heehee,” shuckles Rico. “Disney may have heard me when I mentioned him, and he thought we were summoning him and his work, which I am fond of. Speaking of voices, did you know he was the one dubbing his characters at first? I love those old Mickey and Minnie ‘sound cartoons’! At first people thought it was Wakan, Magic from the World of Spirits… One of my favorites of those ‘toon talkies’ are The Plowboy and The Shindig.

“I’m not sure I’m familiar with them,” I admit.

“Oh well, they do not have very complicated plots, heehee, ‘plots’ are perfect for ploughboys though. They don’t have many words either, if any in some of the earlier works, but a lot is said through music, visual details and facial expressions. I love The Plowboy because it’s when Horace Horsecollar still appears in his true horse form before adopting a man-like figure. But he already shows signs of his shapeshifting abilities, walking on his rear legs while helping Mickey Mouse plow his field.”

“Oh,” I smile, “so in that episode Mickey is the mouse version of San Isidro Labrador, proud owner of a magical horse, instead of oxen helped by an angel.”

“Haha! You always New Mexicanize everything!”

“Hey, Rico! Do I have to remind you of San Isidro’s Spanish origins? And by the way, New Mexicans never mention the holy man’s family, who lived in Madrid: a wife, María, and a son, Illán, saved from drowning in a well, whose memory became part of our village’s hybrid name back in Spain!!!”

“Oh, true… San Illán… Tell me again the Arabic name of our village, Huétor Santillán.”

Qaryat al-Watá. It’s supposed to mean ‘the alquería on the hill’. And when the hamlet became Christian under the Jesuits, they chose San Illán as its first Patron Saint, to also honor the founder of the new village: Diego Fernández de Córdoba, Marquis of Guadalcázar, Viceroy of New Spain and Peru and Knight of the Order of Santiago…”

“All this jumped down from your mouth like a dart streaking the skies!” laughs Rico. “Right! Or a diver jumping off a cliff, like the Acapulco divers. In the 16th century the Viceroy who founded our village also built a fort ten minutes away from Acapulco Quebrada rock, from where the famous clavadistas dive. Such incredible courage! I first saw them in that Lelouch movie… Hasards ou Coïncidences, Chance or Coincidence. You and I know those are misconceptions. Everything is orchestrated; strings are pulled by the invisible threads of the Great Mystery, like Lelouch being born on the exact same day as Rudy, and both creating works that fascinate me, because they were telling me about my life past, present and future… But of course I interrupted your retelling of the Disney toon, sorry!!!”

“Yes, you did!” says Rico, “It’s ok, you were being a bit like Minnie, actually! Mickey was all happy whistling as he plowed, and here comes Minnie singing, and playing the guitar… to milk her cow (go figure). The cow is super happy to see her mouse owner, and Mickey even more, so he drops it all to milk the cow for Minnie while the she-mouse sings a siren song. Mickey is so enamored that he French kisses her after milking the cow, but she didn’t expect him to be so passionate right then, right there, so she hits him… Things get a bit complicated and he ends up breaking his plow.”

“Oh poor Mickey…”

“Yes, he cries and all… But in the end—and don’t ask me why, he finds a new plow in the guise of a truffle-hunting pig…”

“Weird… Ahem, I’m a pig in the Chinese horoscope… and my parents call me ‘Souris’, little mouse. You know, sometimes I was insensitive like Minnie. If the result of insensitivity doesn’t get resolved soon enough, I feel I have to become that truffle-hunting pig to find back the diamond of the shaken relationship, taking time to turn the separating trench into a fertile furrow again, while addressing things, ‘for the record’… Problem with furrows and records is sometimes they can install us into a pattern, and we become the needle endlessly turning in the groove… but I hope if this ‘record’ has to be broken, it is to remaster it on better grounds!”

“Yay! This vintage vinyl record philosophy takes us back to my cartoons!”

“Yay indeed! What was the other toon called again, Shine deep?”

SHINDIG!!!

“It means a party! I think you no longer really know what that is. So many years spent truffle-hunting… Soon you’ll need to shine under a mirror held up high in a shindig.”

“I know… I’m stubborn, but I really need to finish this before going on a shindig! Do they have live musicians at the toon party?”

“Of course! Mickey and Minnie themselves! Yes, they got over their plow-kiss fight in the meantime.

At the shindig he plays the fiddle and she plays the piano, and she smiles and then laughs at his antics she finds funny again.

Ah, and their respective horse and cow also have become sweethearts, novio y novia! Mickey still loves teasing Minnie, but now she seems to have gotten over her attitude, and she only scolds him a little, like when he pulls the elastic tie of her skirt several times to illustrate ‘POP, goes the Beaver’. She scolds him to the tune “♫ Don’t you do that ♫”, heehee. I prefer her like that.”

“Me too,” I say.

“OK, let’s see where we are,” Rico says flying further down. It’s been a while that our voices have gone back to normal. “Oh! Small Witch City!” He exclaims.

“Heeey,” I laugh, “you took that from me! Wichita, small witch, hoping that no casita will land on her to be robbed of her ruby slippers…”

“Yes, poor dear witchy!” giggles Rico.

“There’s a painter I know who is from Wichita, Aaron Morgan Brown. We shared a couple of fun afternoons decorating bottles or carving jack-o-lanterns while he visited a common friend. His work is incredible. A critique from California said he’s ‘a scrupulous painter, who is a realist in style but a fabulist in spirit’. It’s a very accurate description. I love Aaron’s dream world because it shows that magic can be everywhere in our daily lives. Also, his inspiration, the best witch to cast spells on us all, made him paint scenes that really resonate in the chamber of my subconscious. Animals that occupy a place of choice on my ‘soul symbol shelves’; a Joan of Arc a bit lost between Saint Michael’s wishes and a rose garden with which she messed up a bit; a hobo angel who spray-paints love in mirrored Hebrew on a starry night train car, checking on a modern Dorothy as the little girl wonders if Moroccan lamps would make good merkabas, or if she should take her tamed sitting monkey on a train ride instead; a little dreamer who believes in the magic of her peace bubbles to heal all kinds of past war traumas; and finally a long walk back home… Aaron says his images are time travelers. You and I are starting to know a little something about that, que no?!”

Check his work https://aaronmorganbrownpaintings.com/

“For sure,” whinnies Rico. “How much food for thought in less than a minute! Beauty fodder is what I crave, and you’ve just taken me on a hay ride in the maze of your psyche! Do you want us to stop here in Wichita, then, mi brujita favorita?”

“No, let’s go a bit further north, my favorite whinnying witch broom. Let’s have a stopover in Lucas. There’s something I’d like to check out there.”

“Looking for more witches?”

“Yup!”

“Woohoo! Let’s go find out!”

My heart is pounding hard as we approach the town I’m curious about.

“So tell me now, why exactly are we here?” Rico asks.

 “Because of an NBC show,” I say.

NBC as in Nathalie the Blesser tends to C too much TV?” my horse ironizes.

“You know I don’t own a TV set… I watched the show on my laptop screen. The difference between TVs and computers is that the latter enable the viewer to choose what to be ‘entertained’ with, and I am always looking for the learning aspect. ‘Lucas’ is the hometown of the Dorothy from an umpteenth version of The Wizard of Oz.”

“Humpteenth Dumpteenth?”

“Haha! I would always sing that nursery rhyme to the tune of ‘Pop Goes the Beaver’, which you mentioned earlier. However the big empty egg showed up in Alice Through the Looking Glass, if I’m correct. But I’ve been mixing the stories of Alice and Dorothy ever since I’ve watched them… Watch, Latch, Hatch, Patch, I have turned them into anglerfish…”

“Is that the name you give to the April Fool’s Fish that fishes people in its jokes’ net?”

“Heehee… Anglerfish is an actual fish, with a gaping Cheshire cat smile that swallows all it finds on its way, luring prey thanks to a funny miner’s lamp on its head. When they switch their light on, they look like those color-changing fiber-optic lamps I remember from the 70s… Well, that’s for the female. The male is so tiny, the minute ‘he’ hatches he goes looking for his lighthouse girlfriend. Oh wow, I’m just realizing there is a lighthouse with an important symbolic meaning in Lelouch’s Chance or Coincidence… Yet another proof that there’s no such thing as coincidence. Anyway, Mr. Anglefish really has to be sure about wanting to move in the lighthouse, cause it’s forever… you see, the male fish is much smaller than the female, and once he finds his one and only chérie fish, he bites her. Then something crazy happens: his mouth and her skin literally dissolve into each other, so the male never releases from his mate again, feeding from her blood while fertilizing her, and he literally merges into her, losing his eyes and internal organs until they share the same bloodstream.”

“Whew! A Rumi kind of leap of faith into love’s eternal flame, maybe less romantic than the story of the three butterflies, though,” Rico says.

 “Yes, less romantic. The poor male is considered a sperm factory after that love fusion happens.”

“Witchery…”

“Hatchery,” I say in a knee-jerk answer, which creates a new memory… “Recently, in the deep sea of knowledge bubbling behind the laptop screen, I’ve read the summary of an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland by Aldous Huxley for Disney. Sadly it was never made into a movie, and the original manuscript was destroyed in a fire.”

“Then maybe it’s also what that fire by the Rio Grande, when we started our flight, was supposed to evoke… Maybe smoke signals from Aldous…” suggests Rico.

“Maybe… A powerful reminder, then. I’m sure Aldous partly got the inspiration for his Brave New World hatcheries learning from his paternal grandfather’s deep knowledge about fish, and all that had to do with biology. Recently scientists have filmed deep sea anglerfish off the coast of California, where Aldous lived…”

“For now let’s explore where the latest Dorothy was supposed to live!” wisely suggests my flying horse Rico, who always knows how to reel me back to Earth if I start wandering too far in the eternal waves of my associative mind.

Rico lands on the roadside field by the welcoming sign to Lucas, I would swear it is the one created for the NBC show. It displays a big sunflower with a mirror in it. However my horse is keener than me in his observation and points out something more subtle.

“Clever and deep to have engrained the seed of life in the sunflower center!” he says.

“Oh wow! I hadn’t noticed that. Hey, the seven overlapping circles remind me of the rainbow pinwheel…”

“Yup, the rainbow over ‘which’ Dorothy meets the ‘bad witches’ of the East and West, and the ‘good witches’ of the North and South,” he happily whinnies.

“Rico!!! You’re a genius! If one reproduces the seed of light starting from the original one in the four cardinal directions, it will create the flower of life!!!”

 “And why does it make me a genius?”

“Well, because you pointed out the symbol which eventually shows the Path of the Sun, and its connection to life! The seed of life contains the symbol of the union of ‘opposites’ and the divine feminine, the vesica piscis, the ‘fish bladder’…”

“Oh, poor Freddy…” Rico smiles.

“Silly,” I smile back. “But yes! Maybe the fish episode was also aimed at making me think in terms of that symbol of life and creation. We tend to forget that early Christians used a fish to symbolize the… bridge between Heaven and Earth brought by Jesus and his family…”

“His family?” repeats Rico.

“Yes,” I simply say. “And speaking of the new witches of Oz, they are clad in the medicine wheel colors of the native tradition! The colors order varies according to the nation that uses them, but I have a feeling that in this case they also correspond with the path of the sun, and alchemy…”

“Red and Yellow / root and solar plexus chakras / ruby and gold, ‘blink’ on Dorothy’s hands when she magically inherits “the Elements”, gauntlets from the ‘Mistress of the Eastern Wood’ after tearing the sky of Oz, killing the wicked witch of the east ‘twice’. First she ran her over in the flying cop car in which our girl sheltered from the twister; then she ‘fulfilled the wish’ of the revived witch who wanted to learn how to use a gun… and ends up shooting herself. That witch controlled the elements and was responsible for creating the ‘Prison of the Abject’, a slimy pit underneath a mountain where she kept people imprisoned in her (and their own) mind. This land of witches is where Dorothy will actually find out about her real identity, recreating herself as she steps into another world, the world of her forgotten birth in the Tribal Freelands of Oz, high up in the mountains, from which she is banned after killing ‘East’ as a result of the twister…

Ojo, a member of the tribe, takes her to the border of his realm, directing her to the yellow brick road.

Now owning the gauntlets, new version of the ruby slippers, Dorothy will gradually be able to control the elements, both in the outer and in the inner, to free herself from the darkness that froze her heart through the clouding of her mind, there where all conditioning storms start and subside… And speaking of storms, they say the flower of life was also a ‘thunder mark’, a protection against lightning, which would spare those who displayed it…”

“Ouch! The Thunderbird is burning again…” says Rico.

“I guess it’s the way Thunderbird has found to communicate with us; approval maybe?”

“Honestly, you could have painted a carrot instead, which would come to life as a reward every time I said something witty and brrrright!” says Rico rolling his r’s like María in West Side Story.

“So sorry, prrrrretty…” I answer in the same tone. “However electric storms are supposed to be more effective in helping one switch worlds! Let’s discover this town, will we?”

 We are now walking down Main Street. We leave agricultural towers on our left and start exploring ‘downtown’, which is completely deserted. A few steps further north is where all the ‘important things’ seem to be. Fire Department, Post Office, Lucas Medical Clinic (which is where the latest Dorothy would have started working, since she is a nurse in that NBC show), Public Library (ah, what would we be without books…)

“Oh look, Rico! ‘Linda’s Café’…” I say as my gaze moves past the library. “Linda was the lady left behind, pregnant, in the New Mexican ‘Savage Reservation’ of Brave New World. Soon after her son John’s 12th birthday, she gave him a book Popé had brought from the Antelope Kiva: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which John used in order to improve his reading skills, and from where he built his system of moral values. I think it’s a sign…”

“A sign of what?” asks Rico.

“A powerful sign,” I smile as I read a poster taped on the window of the restaurant. ‘Public Power Week’ is written over the illustration of a huge electric plug on which four people stand.

“Man, the Thunderbird on my chest is still itching…” complains Rico. However, he soon forgets about the inconvenience of his magical bird’s inner fire because of what he sees in the distance. “Check this out! I guess this truck coming down the road rocking big antlers —AND A JACKALOPE!!!— on its roof rack comes from the Kiva too…” says my horse. “Maybe the driver has just visited Mimi’s childhood town, there where jackalope antlers are… It seems the truck advertises the museum here in front of which it is parking now. What a long name!”

“A long name indeed,” I say before deciphering it. “World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest things. Woohoo… We’re in Alice’s ‘shrinkenlarging’ wonderland. And I found someone who creates names as long and intricate as mine! The place has that vintage feel of circus freaks and marvel shows.  Hey! Maybe it’s owned by Professor Marvel!”

“And I’m Toto…” sighs Rico.

“No, you’re Sylvester.”

“What, that huge black and white stuffed toon cat your students gave you as a birthday present back in the day?”

“Heehee, no… Don’t you remember that Sylvester was the beautiful black horse of Professor Marvel? Sylvester is the saint of New Year’s Eve…”

“Hi there, strangers! Where are you visiting from?” asks the gray-haired woman who got off the antlered truck and is about to enter the museum.

“New Mexico,” I answer.

“Welcome to Lucas! I visited New Mexico, land of the world’s largest pistachio! I’m Erika, by the way.”

“I have seen that giant pistachio! Coming back from a road trip through la Jornada del Muerto… It’s nice to meet you, Erika. My name is Nathalie, and this is Espíritu del Rico Cielo Azul, Rico for short.”

To properly greet the lady, I hop off Rico’s back and he does a little barn dance step he likes, his shindig classic.

“Wow! What a gracious dancer, beautiful horse with a name almost as long as my museum!” she says with a smile.

“Haha! Rico and I were marveling at the name of your museum AND your jackalope truck!”

“I’m proud of my little universe, yes,” says Erika. “I’ve heard your comparison. You’re not the only one who compared me to Professor Marvel, actually. Especially due to the little train-like trailer I drag all around, my modern version of a Gypsy Wagon. I love it! Unfortunately we’re closed right now, you know, that Covid thing… But make sure to check out the items displayed in the window, and peeking through Professor Marvel’s wagon too. Maybe some of my tiny treasures will stir your imagination,” she says with a wink.

“Will do!” I say. “Next time you visit New Mexico, check out Tinkertown. I’m sure you’d love it!”

Erika gives us a thumb up and disappears into her museum.

Rico and I are following her advice, taking a look at the items displayed at her museum window.

I am happy to find a picture of the giant pistachio and a couple of jackalopes.

“Oh look, Rico! This little big guy even has a saddle on, just like Juan’s Jackalope in Rudy’s story! That’s so funny. And what is this one? Let me see the caption… It’s supposed to represent a giant plate. It’s made out of a decorated satellite dish.” As I pronounce these words, I remember how the Very Large Array made me look for new ways to communicate with what felt like a silent call from outer space…

You had so much on your plate… but hey, you made it! You learned your lessons… I’m proud of you… There’s still one last thing to do though…” I hear Raven’s voice in my head.

Next to the pictures stands the small version of Erika’s truck, and all of a sudden I have a vision of a raven landing atop the tiny trailer.

“Caw Caw Caw!” I hear behind us. Here is a real raven that has just landed on the real trailer parked in front of the museum. “Caw Caw Caw!” he goes again, before taking flight.

“Rico, let’s follow him! I’m sure he wants to show us something!” I say hopping on my horse’s back.

“OK, boss” says Rico who takes off to chase the raven in the sky.

The bird does not take us too far. He lands a few streets away, on top of the famous big plate we have just seen in miniature.

In the distance I spot another of those ‘American windmills’ across the field behind a thicket. I take my rainbow pinwheel out of my bag and lift it to the wind to partially cover the silhouette of that windmill in the distance. A soft breeze makes my magic toy spin. When it comes to a stop with its green color on top, it looks like an arrow pointing at the windmill. The giant plate by which Rico and I stand has taken a green hue and starts spinning on its axis as the raven flaps his wings to the rhythm of the plate whirlwind. When the plate stops spinning, I hear the mysterious yet familiar call of monkeys—it sometimes happens in my waking life in what I call the ‘green hallway’ by the zoo. The windmill in the distance now appears on the plate turned into a giant screen. It shows a close-up of the windmill and a barn in the background.

“It’s Dorothy’s house!” I exclaim.

The invisible camera —is it a ‘monkey drone projector’ escaped from Emerald City?— zooms in.

Under the attentive gaze of the raven, Rico and I are shown the interior of the house: two scenes in the kitchen of Dorothy’s adoptive parents, which belong to the first and last episode respectively, if I remember correctly.

“A brand new Dorothy for sure,” says Rico “not looking at all like Judy Garland… Why does she look so down on that third image with the rainbow reflected on her face?”

“Because she misses Oz, and especially Lucas, the new version of the scarecrow. She loves him so… They fell for each other the second they met, but… “it was complicated” as people sometimes say on their social media status. And then both of them made foolish decisions or stuck to foolish principles or basically did what they thought they needed to do, which dug a trench between them, and trenches can run deep down the soil of our emotions. The Dorothy in the show was mistaken about what ‘home’ really was. She was born in Oz. Her biological mother delivered her there due to an accident (actually induced by the future Wizard of that Oz) that occurred in what looked like a nuclear plant, where they experimented with creating vortexes. You know, I have a feeling that stories open mini vortexes too. Writers are rarely aware of the huge power (and responsibility) that lies in weaving words together. Once it’s out there, the story will play out and take a life of its own. That’s why I try to keep these things in mind as I write, paying attention to the good spirits’ whispers. I am so willing to revisit some stories gone awry, creating new ones I like better… Sometimes I tend to get lost in the story too, just like Rosa Medina in Rudy’s Chupacabra tale. But eventually, all ends up being sorted out through words. Storytelling is the whirlwind that breaks the shackles keeping my Wizard balloon captive…”

“I don’t know if this Dorothy will board a balloon, but I think she is good at showing her different emotions through facial expressions,” says Rico who is checking out the new image that appeared on the plate screen.

“Yes, I agree. Her feelings and thoughts are written all over her face,” I say creating the ‘voice-over’ of her thoughts. {I can’t believe what I’m seeing; my heart is drowning and then freezing; Will we be together again like we used to, in my black and white memories?; Am I awake or am I dreaming? Is he finally physically here? I am working on getting my trust back. I so wish to talk to him but words and actions are still blocked; Slowly but surely though, my heart is thawing and I believe again…}”

“It’s as if you had rehearsed with her…” says Rico.

“Not really a rehearsal, but I get her, yes. Also, I’m in the best company, an expert in thawing the frozen snow I built: you, mi precioso caballo… This new Dorothy speaks Spanish too, by the way. I think she was afraid of what people kept saying around her. Apparently her coming to Oz was the fulfilment of a prophecy, something that had to do with the return of the Beast Forever, when the two moons in the sky would join. Former manifestations of the Beast Forever were devastating fires and a gigantic flood, which ended with their world as they knew it, or at least part of it. They say this time the Beast Forever will be made of flesh and blood…”

“Caw Caw Caw…” The raven wants our attention for the next image being shown on the ‘plate screen’.

“Check that out,” I say. “That scene is set in 1996, just one year before my first trip to this country. I know the creation of the show was decided in April (my birth month) of 2015, a year of change, and it was first aired en el día de Reyes, January 6th, the day all of Spain receives presents from the Magi… Also the day New Mexico entered the Union. No such thing as coincidence… Yes, this show was definitely a gift, which I need to revisit now, through a renewed lens.”

On screen we are seeing the plant where Dorothy’s mom worked, where the vortex was created that sent ‘interlopers’ to Oz: two women scientists —one pregnant with Dorothy— and the future wizard, Frank Morgan. This is the actual name of the actor who played the Wizard and Professor Marvel in the 30s! Oh, and Morgan… like my painter friend! So strange how everything intersects… Anyway, in the NBC show, Frank is a frustrated, resentful man, who described himself saying “I studied hard. I worked harder. I desperately wanted to be noticed”. It is unclear what happened to the other man present during the fateful experiment: Dorothy’s father, Roberto. He got hurt in the vortex chamber before the world switch. Maybe he was swallowed in the vortex and got stuck in between worlds… and maybe from there he is trying to take things back when mad scientists did not endanger the balance of the world. I checked if there was any nuclear plant in Topeka, and I found one a few miles south, in Burlington, operating since the 1980s. If there’s one thing I dislike about New Mexico, it’s the connection with nuclear power.

“And what are these new images now, according to your new lens?” asks Rico, bringing me back to the now of our dream.

“The yellow brick road. It’s supposed to be covered in poppy pollen. I always thought of corn pollen instead. You know, that’s how symbolic borders were created too in the Pueblo world. Do you know those scenes were shot in our former ‘home’, Rico? The crew built a seven-kilometer road in El Torcal park, and added some more pollen (sawdust, really) in Cabo de Gata. Watching the show was like coming home, not just because it was shot in our former world… It was a deeper sensation of coming home, like the one Dorothy instantly feels with the new version of the scarecrow who forgot his own name, so she decides he’s Lucas, named after her hometown, where we are now…”

The image on the plate screen switches to Dorothy treading the yellow road.

“Ok. I think it means we’d better go now, further east, in direction of Topeka…”

“Sounds good to me!” declares Rico.

“No scarecrow to accompany us though,” I say in a lower tone.

Rico is getting ready to take off again, and he does not pay attention to the last images that appear at subliminal speed on the screen, just for me…

As I tear up a little, the raven flies off the giant plate, lands on my hand and runs his wing down my cheek, as I hear “Nimbo is short for Nathalie’s Limbo. It was as painful for me as it was for you, but remember that the sun shines brighter al final de una Gran Vía…”

With a renewed heart, I urge Rico to speed up on our eastbound flight. Soon I doze off, trustful that my steed will take me where we need to be. After a while spent floating in a dreamless slumber, I am awakened by Rico’s enthusiastic exclamation.

“Woohoo, I’ve always wanted to do this, showing those machine impersonators that we are the real McCoy… Hold on tight, I’m gonna land on that iron horse coming from our right! Don’t be afraid! Or if you are, focus on that number there on the locomotive: 49… BELIEVE AND TRUST.”

I have absolutely no choice but trust my horse, whose hind leg, thankfully, seems totally fine by now. I feel a bit of apprehension but let him fulfil his fantasy of landing on a steam train… With resolution and concentration, Rico veers towards the train, air-cantering in perfect alignment with it. Then he gets ready for the head-on landing, taking a leap of faith hoping to have enough space to ‘taxi’ us safely. HE MAKES IT, coming to a stop on top of the last car of the train, with both of us unharmed!

“I am the beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeest!!!” he humbly proclaims.

“What on earth was that?” exclaims a woman from under our landing ‘ground’. She was admiring the scenery from a little platform outside her train compartment when she heard the thundering sound of Rico’s hooves on the roof.

“Rico, stay here, I will check on the lady!” I say.

I hop off his back and hold on to a rail to jump down to the platform from where the exclamation came.

I find a red-haired lady in an elegant dress, with a gaping mouth, panting but physically ok, looking at me as if I was a ghost.

“I am so sorry, Miss. We mean no harm. My horse wanted to…” I realize it will sound even stranger if I tell her my daring horse told me he wanted to take a break from flying. “Anyway, are you ok? You look so familiar…”

“I am ok, thank you. I was a bit bored, actually, so you definitely brought some action to my acting break! You must have seen The Wizard of Oz. That’s why I look familiar to you… It’s me, Judy! Well, Dorothy, either name, as you wish.”

“Unbelievable… I’ve spent this whole portion of the journey in Oz… Such a pleasure to meet the first Dorothy!” I say in awe.

“What do you mean, the first?” wonders Judy / Dorothy.

“Well, the movie industry has revisited the story several times since the sixties…”

“The sixties? We are not there yet. How do you know what will happen after the sixties?”

“…”

“I get it, you’re a time traveler! How wonderful… You’re a bit like Dorothy too, then! Welcome to this realm!”

“Why thank you very much… Maybe you’re right, I’m a Dorothy of a new kind,” I say, realizing I should not give any hint as to the time of Judy’s demise like I’ve just done inadvertently, since it might disrupt the course of events, or terrorize her. “I must admit I’ve lost track of time-space quite a bit since the beginning of this journey. May I ask you what day this is?”

“May 4th, 1945,” she says. “We’re shooting a movie about the famous Harvey Girls.

“Oh wow! The ones who worked for Fred Harvey in the restaurants and hotels along the rail tracks! A neighbor wrote a novel about them,” I say associating her book with our own particular Dorothy in the guise of a fire hydrant…

“Really? I am happy to know they will still be remembered in the future!” says Judy. “In this story I play Susan…”

“But of course,” I say, thinking of some Susan in my world, but pretending I’m remembering Judy’s character in the movie. “Interestingly I was talking about Fred Harvey earlier today… I guess I was anticipating our meeting!”

Realizing the timeline we’re on, I ask “Was it, I mean IS it complicated to shoot a movie during the war?”

“You know, we have hopes that soon our troops will find a way to end this tragedy. They’re talking about a possible solution coming from near here, in New Mexico… Just rumors though.”

“Rumors,” I sigh, keeping to myself the Trinity Site blast yet to happen two months and a half from Jude’s now, an ‘appetizer’ for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “I started this journey from New Mexico, actually. By the way, if you are a Harvey Girl in the Wild, Wild West, shouldn’t the train be going in the opposite direction, towards New Mexico?”

“Oh you know, those details don’t really matter in movie making, as long as the train runs, it’s all good for the director, haha! Speaking of the crew, I don’t hear or see anybody… Maybe I dozed off and you landed in my dream?”

“Maybe, yes! It would make more sense…” I admit. “Do you know where we are exactly?”

“We are headed North-East right now. We have left Emporia, close to Burlington, and we are about to reach Topeka. At least that’s how I think it is…”

Burlington, town of the nuclear plant near Topeka… From the train ‘balcony’, standing next to ‘the first Dorothy’, looking down where I suppose Burlington might be, I silently wish for really clean energy to come, based on a will to do good instead of making money, with no harmful effect to the planet and her inhabitants… In my heart I bless all the souls taken by war and the nuclear blasts or contaminations.

 “So tell me,” I say, determined to think better thoughts, for I know they materialize, “what are your favorite scenes in the movie so far?”

“Well, I love how Susan is telling her fellow train passengers about the beautiful letters she received from her ‘future husband’, which made her fall in love with him, when she was still in Ohio.”

“She’s a native of Ohio like Annie Oakley,” I smile.

“Oh I loved Annie! Her performances inspired me for some scenes actually. I had to shoot guns, being sort of an accidental sharpshooter, haha!”

“That sounds like fun, as long as it’s for entertainment only… I will have to watch the movie again now that I have your perspective on it!” I say.

“Yes! Also, I had fun seeing Trent’s face, Susan’s particular Cyrano, when she finds out he wrote the letters in the name of his friend whom my character was supposed to marry. Infuriated by the joke, she calls Ned a ‘yellow dog’…”

“Might as well have called him a coyote then,” I laugh.

“True… Maybe I should have said that instead. The other actresses and I also had fun playing the rivalry between the Harvey girls and the Alhambra girls…”

“Alhambra,” I whisper… “Ay mi Castillo Rojo…”

“Right now I am looking forward to playing the ‘fall scene’,” goes on Judy. “That’s what is planned for tomorrow’s shooting session. Ned and Susan run towards each other, as she hops off the train to meet him on his horse. And both of them trip and fall before being reunited, and burst out laughing, because they remember when he fell after their first kiss.”

“I am remembering a near fall of mine too,” I smile.

“Oh please, tell me…” Judy / Dorothy / Susan begs me, “I know we’re not supposed to know things ahead of time but, do you remember the scene of the ‘intuition duet’? The one in which I wore a cherry hat? They’re not sure to include it in the final cut, I hope they will…”

“Maybe you could sing it for me so that I could tell you if it rings a bell…” I suggest.

“OK. So it goes like this. I’m wearing this red and green dress, in the colors of these patterns on the train car windowpane, here. My outfit matches, like I said, the cutest cherry hat you’ve ever seen, and we start singing about intuition.  

ME: I’ve read your pretty speeches / And I must admit they touched my heart / I don’t know where you borrow them / But most of them are works of art / No school boy with his Valentines / Was ever more sincere / I’ve tried to read between the lines / To make the meaning clear / But there’s a little voice that whispers / Softly, as I fall asleep: / You better look before you leap. / My intuition says to me, / Don’t ever give your heart away / And so I simply must obey my intuition / My intuition says to me / Those pretty words may not be true / So what am I supposed to do in my position? / I’d like to trust my heart / Believe in just my heart / But it is much too young to know / So though it may be bad advice / I guess I’ll have to string along / Until you prove my intuition / Can be wrong.

HIM: My intuition goes like this: / I’m playing poker with a bunch / And all at once I get a hunch / That’s intuition / I’m playing aces back to back / And I can see a pair of kings / But if there’s one more of those things / What’s my position? /

ME: Well, if you get the cards / Then you should bet the cards / At least, that’s what I’ve always heard 

HIM: You have your hunch, I’ll have mine

ME: Suppose we both just string along

BOTH: Until we prove our intuition can be wrong…

Delighted by her melodious voice, but still able to exercise critical thinking, I answer Judy’s question: “I don’t remember the song as part of the movie, but if it does ring a bell, it’s because sometimes I’ve heard that voice too. But it’s not intuition; it’s cold feet… It’s favoring thinking with the head and dwelling on past mistakes instead of thinking with the heart, believing in future blessings. THAT is the real intuition. What you mention in the song are fear projections. Thinking with the heart is what we should always do… no matter how many times we felt it was broken. Our heart knows when it’s not mistaken…”

“Yes, I agree…” smiles Judy/Dorothy/Susan…

“However,” I add, “as far as I’m concerned, I also need to fully grasp the interactions between heart and mind, the inner workings of what makes our clock tick, because that’s how I get to go back full circle to myself, honing my storytelling skills in passing… To ride among the clouds one needs a minimum of understanding of weather conditions…”

Judy is now fully embodying Susan when she concludes in rhymes: “May white clouds come sailing to make our wedding gown, and then go trailing to the valley where the evening sun goes down…”

Nathalie, speaking of clouds, come back up here, hurry! We’ve got to fly away, a huge storm is coming!!!!!” Rico ‘whinnycries’ from atop the train roof.

“I guess I’d better go,” I say. “It was delightful meeting you, Judy/ Dorothy / Susan! Thanks for reminding me how to mend the dream of my particular somewhere over the rainbow…”

“Be safe!” she says as I hug her goodbye before climbing back on the roof and hop on Rico’s back. We have to fly above huge, black clouds that are coming our way. It is starting to hail ice stones that hurt like needles falling from the sky. The temperature is dropping significantly, and Rico is having a hard time elevating.

“Caw Caw Caw” calls the raven from above the clouds, assuring us “you can make it, you will make it…” But the wind suddenly shoves the bird’s call away and the dark clouds racing in the sky turn into a tornado threatening with engulfing us in the blink of a twister eye.

TO BE CONTINUED (here)

One thought on “Raven’s Gift (part three)

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