Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie —

Receiving Information ©2003- graphite on paper, 25x30 cm (10x12)

Receiving Information ©2003- graphite on paper, 25×30 cm (10×12)

 

The Story Continues……

Been giving a lot of thought to time and memories, how the memories we do hold, can be distorted by time. Sight, sound smell all come together to form the perceived image of what transpired, our eyes seeing illusions of what we want to believe is true.   I just may have too much time on my hands right now not painting and when I have too much time, I think……dangerous, because then I ask questions!

What I know now, I did not know then and when I look back I wonder how is it possible not to have been aware, not to have known, not to have remembered.  The answer is quite simple: it was safer to forget.  My Pollyanna attitude and can do spirit found itself when I left for Europe and buried the reality of my childhood.  This allowed me to frequently return to Ecuador, hating Capitán, but not truly understanding why; so somewhere in me for the next 20 years, I searched for redemption.  If that makes any sense at all!

Truth is always hard to believe, it never paints a pretty picture. My personal painting formed the image of what others saw:  the bravado, the fearlessness, the voice saying I could do anything, I was something, I was somebody.  Beneath the thin veneer, I was part of nothing, belonging to nothing, being nothing.  I had no real self-esteem, I saw my self as ugly and not having much value, conditioning that had constantly been driven into my being with the words of my family. Two different people, the child and the adult, fragile and strong, day and night.  Like waves it flooded me, lifting me up, dragging me down, only to lift me up again.

Coming to New Orleans to live with my aunt was a revelation, a freedom, a blessing, a gift.  They gave me the space to find myself, or at least search for something I could hold onto outside of myself.  They provided the foundation, the base, the balance, from which I could come and go, do or not do, be or not be, as long as I was there, with them, part of them, as long as they could touch me, talk to me, hold me, love me.  I reciprocated with equal intensity.

Via summer school I finished my missing classes with honors and got that American degree to add to the others. But at the time, my need for education had evaporated.  I spent my afternoons with my aunt at luncheons and teas, roaming the dense and dangerous vegetation of New Orleans high society.  At night I found a waitress job at a little joint in the French Quarter called the Kings Room.  Managed by a wonderful, older Italian man named Stanley who instantly adopted me, letting it be known that I was under his wings.  I was now “street people” of the Quarter, and could go anywhere in the city safely without fear.  The Kings Room was just one of Carlos Marcelo’s Mafioso enterprises and Stanley was one of his Capos. The bartender was a handsome tall Irish lad nicknamed Dino. I fell in love for the first time.

My relationship with Dino was passionate, strong and lasted for nearly 2 years. What I did not know was that he was an enforcer for the mob, he was an alcoholic, and when he was drunk he talked.  I was living upstairs in the small apartment on Philip Street, but my nights were spent at his place in the Quarter.

Of course my aunt and uncle were not pleased about this situation, but understood, they had met him, he attended family affairs, he was charming, gracious and ultimately was acceptable.  I was happy. Then a series of events came to pass, fate manipulating my life again.

It was in December, a typical cold, wet day, the dampness eating down to your bones. Stanley was not in the bar that night, I was informed he had a sudden heart attack and died, the funeral would be the next day.  The sense of loss was great, but more so was the knowledge that I was now on my own without protection.  After the funeral, on Dino’s advice, I quit the Kings Room and went to work at the Hotel Monteleon rooftop bar.  Dino went to work at an upscale restaurant down Bourbon Street. Christmas passed quietly and the New Year was looking bright, then shadows began to emerge.

Dino’s alcoholism became worse, something had triggered even heavier drinking, and from his babbling I knew his enforcer responsibilities had taken him a step deeper into the mob and there were  “disappearances”.  I was giving serious thought to perhaps it was time to leave him and this situation when my aunt informed me Capitán was in town.  I stayed away from Philip Street trying to avoid his presence.

The next night after work Dino informed me that Capitán had made an appearance in the restaurant bar and with gun in hand created a scene, threatening him, and advising  him to leave me alone least he be eliminated.  Dino of course laughed at that situation, but at the same time that confrontation was unacceptable to other powers that be and people began to notice and to question.  I no longer felt safe on the street.

What followed was inevitable, a confrontation with Capitán.  I took it upon myself to defend not only myself, but also my aunt and uncle against his attacks and accusations.  A horrid scene evolved, leaving my aunt in tears and my uncle telling him he was no longer welcomed in their house.

Two nights later, right before my 21st birthday, the new manager of the Kings Room came to the Monteleon and pulled me aside. He advised me what I already suspected, that it was no longer safe for me, that Dino had become a liability, that I knew too much. In memory of Stanley he was providing me passage to California with an associate, there would be a job waiting for me, in addition, he promised Dino would follow in a couple of weeks.

I felt I had no choice, I had to trust the gods that be.  I packed a small bag, told my aunt and uncle that I had to leave for a while and would be back when things quieted down. Would write them when I was settled.

The mills of the gods do grind exceedingly fine with actions and consequences coming together, forming a brew that is not always savory. To make a confusing story short, a week later I was abandoned in New York, on the street with $50.00 in my pocket, my passport and more than a little concerned as to what I was going to do next.

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. Another marvelous illustration.

    Like

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