pearls around the neck • 73
presently started drawing water mills, streams, lakes and torrents… He stuck a cigarette between his
teeth, lit it feverishly and kept drawing, correcting, crossing out here, re-sketching there. I couldn’t
follow him anymore. A tsunami had just swept over my small expanse of water. He presented his
In Shakespeare’s tongue, which isn’t my native language, there was only one way for me to express my
“I’ll give ya a deal on this and believe ya me, Bob is pretty damn good at building ponds,” said Barbra,
suddenly emerging from her cloud of smoke. She then proceeded to explain that they’d been married
25 years, had set up 9 companies, gone bankrupt 8 times but that this time they had struggled with the
mortgages and taxes and finally struck luck: for the past 5 years, she’d been selling aquatic plants on the
net and he’d been building ponds… they were afloat, at last! She took the pencil from Bob’s hand and
scribbled a figure at the bottom of the ‘sketch’.
I personally had no idea what this kind of work was actually worth.
It could have been the Three Gorges Dam, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, or the Ginkaku-ji Zen
How much was the eighth wonder of the world, Bob by the Pond’s creation, worth -in dollars?
“We’ll need half of the dough in cash now, Bob can feel this, he’s gonna start tomorrow. That pond of
yers, he’s got it nailed down!” Barbra spurted in one go.
Bob leaned toward his muse, landed his lips on her toothless mouth and French-kissed her generously…
Obviously, women like Barbra made the proverb “woman is the future of man” an actual truth.
The two lovers got up: it seemed they suddenly had something better to do.
Bob and Barbra headed for their car. I accompanied them without saying a word.
I needed to find a way to prevent this duo from settling down in my garden.
I reached the Cadillac and saw, on the back seat, a young woman sleeping, her long dark hair
“She’s sooo tired,” Barbra said, following my stare. “That’s Chelsea, our oldest one… She just spent the
day in court tryin’ to get her kids back, custody, ya know. Her ex’s got the kids, that bastard!!” Barbra
looked at her daughter and I saw her eyes for the first time: they were the translucent blue of a Scottish
lake, and in the depth of her gaze was a love that had no banks, a tenderness without conditions.
I scrutinized the back of the Cadillac, trying to see Chelsea, but Chelsea was rolled into a ball. I could
only make out tattoos, seemingly covering every inch of visible skin; piercings in places where one
would think it impossible to stick a hook into the flesh, and sensual rolls of fat in places where a young
woman’s body may develop an erotic personality. On the back seat, I also discovered a heap of liquor
bottles and a dozen or so crushed cans of beer.
Why had she lost the custody of her children? I didn’t ask.
Not that I wasn’t interested. I was afraid of Chelsea, that was all.
I just wanted the jade green Cadillac to clear out of fast as possible, taking along its cargo of human
waste, misery and failure. I wanted them to clear off with their Budweiser breath and cold-tobacco
smell, the lingering whiff of their unhealthy sleepless nights, the rings under their eyes, their slaps and
I wanted the Cadillac to take these characters away from my own shortcomings because I could sense
that it was transporting on board the grime and scum of the unlucky, the poor, the rejected and
the outcast. I could sense that this jade-colored Cadillac was ferrying misfortune and delivering the
tribulations of those that they called, here, with much disdain: “White Trash”; the whites who didn’t