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Over the next few months I saw my grandfather occasionally. Seeing him once in the trees outside our house, climbing from branch to branch like a small restless monkey. I saw him a few times on television as a news reporter talking of the latest war or drug bust or political scandal. He even appeared as a child’s tornado---a dust devil, a small twisting wind that many said contained the souls of lost children spinning their way through eternity.
But mostly he appeared in my fitful, dissolving dreams. In those dreams I was a child, continually moving in a shadowy world made from the unfulfilled desires of others. I hovered as ether does, eventually floating into a crowd of men, starving and desperate they attacked me. I fought their battering. My grandfather, Litio, who took the form of a raven, watched the mayhem. “Help me,” I called out. “Help me fly away.” The raven, perched on column of broken cemetery stones, lifts his wings to reveal the brittle skeleton of a starving bird. I wake sweat-stained, feeling as though a demon-heated darkness breeched my soul.
One morning, after a round of disturbing dreams, I awoke to see four gypsy women sitting in a row, staring at me. Each had in their laps dark purple grapes, eating and then spitting out the grape seeds through my open window. One woman was not a woman at all, but my grandfather dressed as a hungara.
“Benny, Benny” my grandfather spoke in an old shaky voice. “You must leave.” The other gypsies nodded in agreement. “You are filled with maharime up here.” He tapped his forehead as did each woman. “Who are you?” I asked, although I knew she was my grandfather in gypsy dress. Another gypsy with skin the color of burnt charcoal answered, “Chavo, she is your Baba, we are all your Baba. It is with God we found you and it is with God that we will leave you. Give us some bread, give us some herbs, we are your finger casters.” She drew her hands out to me and on each tattooed finger were the devilish symbols of owls, snakes, ravens and goats.
Another woman, very heavy, whose silver teeth sparkled in the early light said, “Give us your paper, so that that we may bless you, Chavo. We will remove the Prikaza that darkens your spirit. Give us your paper.” I looked around and saw a football card with the picture of Rafael Marquez, the Mexican soccer star, on the table beside my bed. It still smelled like the loaf of Bimbo bread I had taken it from yesterday at breakfast. I gave it to my gypsy grandfather.
The Other Side continues...