Thursday, November 10, 2011

Paradise Regained: How I Killed Bin Laden

 It's just a feeling, a sense that something isn't... right. I'm strolling through El Yunque, the rainforest high in the mountains of northeastern Puerto Rico when it registers—an imbalance. Maybe eddies in the time space continuum. It's hard to explain. I'll try.

I come here to see the sky being born, to watch the clouds peel off the mountaintops and drift towards the sea. I come to listen to the higuaca birds croak and the coqui frogs chirp. In short, I come to be with God. It's not hard to feel a flaw on God's throne.

I'll admit that my first instinct's to avoid it. After all, I'm here to be cleansed, not to detail God's chair. But it's like ignoring trash because someone else left it behind—it's bad form. So I'm compelled to follow the disturbance to it's source.

The source is just some old jibaro, the Puerto Rican hillbillies who roam the mountains living off the land. I greet him graciously, and he offers me a cordial welcome and a box of mangoes, for five dollars. He's a dirty, old man, tall & gangly, wearing burlap clothes as tattered as his long beard and his wide sombrero. He's carrying a lot of weight, not the mangoes, but the gravity of thousands of dead souls.

"Viejo, you seem tired," I say, "¿Have you been to the fountain?" He bows his head a bit, shakes it slowly. "¡Bueno! Vamonos."
I lead him to the top of Las Minas, the waterfall the locals hike miles to for its waters' curative properties. We wade in. He's more cautious than I am, taking long but hesitant strides. "¿Lo sientes?" I ask, "You can feel it, can't you?"

I turn back to see his eyes widening wildly. "Si, but the current, la curriente—" His English is bad, his Spanish is worse, but he's right. I stop in the middle of the river and watch as he drifts closer to the edge.

"¿Ques pasa, viejo?" I shout at him, "¿Too much power?"

He's coming at me now, or at least he's trying to. He leaps out of the water towards me, but only ends up closer to Las Minas. "¡Help me!" He cries, finally, "I'm very rich. ¡I'll make you rich!"

"Look around you, viejo. I'm as rich as they come."

Poder! ¡I can make you very powerful!" He has to shout now in order to be heard.

"And yet you're the one being pulled towards the fall." I laugh. He drifts.

"¡¿Do you know who I am?!" He's shouting at the top of his lungs, but it sounds like a whisper. I can't quite make out the rest, muffled as it is by the fury of the water as it cascades off the cliff. It doesn't matter.

All that matters is that he didn't belong in paradise, especially not selling mangoes. All that matters is that the energy of El Yunque is slowly being restored as the dark, old man anchored by the weight of thousands of murdered souls is being washed out to the sea. I can now continue on my pilgrimage comfortably. I can now go watch clouds being born, in peace.

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