“Pyrostigia Venusta” by Brandon James

We were somewhere in South America. I was screaming for your attention. You wouldn’t give it to me. We were on vacation. We had lunch in the barrio, you had the need for a hat and sunglasses. I had no such need. The sun was fine and the light was lit the right way, just the way I wanted, just the way it should be. You had to buy them. There was a man selling chiclets. He had one arm and a propensity to be smelled by tourists from distances near and far away. He spoke Spanish slowly. He got your attention but you walked away. One of his eyes was swollen shut. I was still screaming. The fish we had was good. Pescado enconcado, the flavor was loud and made you happy. I saw it on your face, we didn’t talk about it. I can read a lot in your eyes. You’re afraid of something. It isn’t the spider crawling to its web along the vine by your left side. Pyrostegia venusta in orange glamour looks as does my desire. Vibrant. Hanging. I’m screaming. A rebellious light blown to silence, in public solitude. The market sings with motion. The children run through the carts and crowd playing games of chase. I remember games, we both used to play them, I remember you told me that I still do, you were unhappy with me. They laugh and tag. One bumps you, but you don’t mind. A forgiving smile. I scream, you do not notice. There’s an echoing timbre climbing along the walls. Bends of music shutters our ears. You were about to say something but bit your tongue. It bleeds as you dance to the quena and siku. Rhythms of wancara, hits of caja and tinya beat as move you dance about hips wavering as you sway with the others. The charango the sounds equal to the flavor of the llapingachos I eat as I watch the music affect your mood. It affects mine too. I laugh and you don’t mind, you continue dancing, you watch me. I’m your sour man. You’re a dancing lady who tolerates my company. You’re beautiful. At this moment I realize, you don’t believe what I do. And simply, you never did. You are always forgiving me for my mania, for my belief. I am your sour man. You believe in me.

We walk back to the house. The paint is yellow, old and opaque, you’re holding to my hand as though we were in love. You and your friends had planted flowers in their yard. They didn’t belong here, the flowers, Amaryllis belladonna. But you planted them while I was in New York, that time you went away from me the autumn before last. They were not in the house, your friends. You said they had gone on vacation and wished us to find their home for ours. I was no longer screaming, it was now you who found your voice. You made the drink I like. Whiskey, vermouth, and orange peel. You guide me toward the terrace and have a drink of your own. The sun burns the sky. The driftwood lounge chair holds your oaken-stained body, draped only in the white of silk and the hat I hate, the one you bought today along the market. You drank the sunrise and stared. Your hazel eyes mirrors to the setting sun beyond our words. I watch you beyond my novel. Nausea peaks my interest but not like the lines of your shoulders, the curve of your back, your hair cropped short for the summer.

Brandon James; aka Brandon White & Maurice White is an excited musician and depressed political activist living in the outskirt suburbs of Los Angeles County.


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