an online magazine of fragmentary writing



Spring 2010 :: Current Issue

Greenwood, Kimble James

On the Road to Ixtlan

Kimble James Greenwood

He’d done it once before—come to the big city via two buses, the ferry, another bus, the bus tunnel—to meet me on the weekend and spend the night, but never so late in the day, never when it was basically dark by the time we were to connect up. He’s nearly 16, but I found myself waiting for the anticipated bus with more worry than I usually have for him these days. What if he wasn’t on the bus?

Do you know how many things could go wrong? I’d told him not to stray or dawdle. I’d told him to watch out for “demons on the road to Ixtlan”—still my favorite Castanedian metaphor for those whose intentions are maleficent: bad boatmen and bum liquor.

I was parked in a nearby parking lot watching the bus I hoped he’d be on. It was now dark. My worries were ratcheting upward. The bus stopped. The passengers disgorged. And there he was! A smile of relief went through me.

When I had him in the car and was disinterring him for his adventure, he told me how, on the streets of downtown, he’d passed by a black man in a black mask who offered to make a poem from his name.

“Sure,” he said, and so stopped while the man went through his routine, delivering the goods.

All my suppressed worry came to the surface, “How could you?! I told you not to stray or dawdle! You could have missed your bus! Why?!”

Nonplussed, he replied seriously, “I always stop for black men in black masks who offer to make a poem from my name.”

I looked at him incredulously, gearing myself up for a further rant. But then broke out laughing. There was nothing I could say. The gods favor him.


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