International Writers Magazine: New Travel Stories
and I cut through the fog coming into Barcelona and it looked
hot. I had been in Europe almost a week. The Spanish game was
different. I choaked on exhaust as the traffic moved by fast.
At the Olympic Port people were gathering by the beach for siesta.
We grabbed some pastries but that didnt hit the spot.
Sweet childish things
with belly rings showing were playing volleyball by the water and vaporous
sky. We ate lunch and dumped our bags at a cheap hotel TUGBOAT told
us about after a day of travel. I just wanted to get so far away. It
was my unsullied possibility to lose. I swam in the Mediterranean that
afternoon and once again it was the finest thing I had ever felt on
my body. I screamed out to HASH reading a book, Get the hell in
here. Take her for a spin. -he was busy.
The cold water numbed me but I didnt quite much care. I could
see my feet clearly on the bottom one hundred meters out. I didnt
give a damn anymore. The water splashed up and hit me in the face. The
sea was understandable and warm. In the middle of this Im considering
my ex and how strongly she felt about me. I could laugh with Thayle.
It was a side Id never shown before but in the end we were just
friends. We were pushing five oclock and it was paradise to me.
Out here, at the beginning, the punches of traveling sat perfectly still
together in the heats shimmer. It was yet another clear place underwater
to stare at the reflections. I could write it anyway I chose to. On
the reef men were fishing. Sailboats were moving in and that had to
be the greatest thing I ever saw. My hands were in the clouds. I told
myself one of these days I was going to learn how to sail. It was time
to say good-bye to my past. I could amend myself anyway I wanted. The
waves drifted me to the left and I didnt worry about anything.
The blue sky continued to conspire. The left was fine with me.
The streets that turn were both along Carrer De la Vidrienda, by a tapas
bar called Golfo De la Bizkaia. The two girls playing violin in the
clothes shop were divine. HASH and I began drinking our faces off around
ten, What the fuck were we thinking?-HASH shouted, We
should have been out earlier.-we stumbled inside a bar filled
with girls and smiles. The Spanish senoritas were eating shrimp and
fish on top of the tables. Most of them looked like somebody I knew
from another time, another life. Half hour in this one brunette was
talking to HASH about California. Her girlfriends were leaning on the
wall next to me telling me I was funny and had pretty blue eyes but
in the middle of the conversation wed been having things changed.
The one I was talking to tappped her girlfriend and told her something
in Spanish, What did she say?-I asked the girlfriend, Celine
loves your eyes.-she told me, She also says your tongue
keeps coming out of your mouth. She says shes bringing out the
beast in you.-in my twenty seven years alive nobody had ever said
anything better to me than that. Fuck if I knew what she really meant.
The girls split and went to some disco party they wouldnt tell
us too much about. By one, HASH and I were separated. I went with the
tide. Next thing Im in some club dancing like a crazy person.
A girl who spoke no English kept biting me and wouldnt let me
dance with anyone. I took my shirt off which in Spain means you want
to fight everyone. It took me a good hour to get out of the place. I
got lost trying to get back to the hotel. I had to shit so bad I considered
going outside and probably would have if people had stopped walking
by. I repeated the phrase, Me go poo poo in your casa.-a
thousand times out loud. When I finally found HASH he was sprawled out
flat in a puddle wearing plastic matador horns. A group of Polish virgins
were cheering him on as I crept up close enough to get a word in, HASH?
-I said, What the fuck are you doing. He looked at me and
started gurgling, Get me out of here please.
I rolled around on the mattress not being able to crash. I could still
see the stars from the other nights journey. Without me it would
just be a memory. HASH and I had one bed so our asses wouldnt
stop touching. I kept thinking of Hanoi, the Philippines, Cairo, Casablanca,
Russia or Sweden by the Gulf of Bothnia someday. HASH leaned over, Are
you ready for Amsterdam? he asked me not being able to sleep either.
I turned over on my side, I was born ready. I told him
quietly, Born ready".
In the morning we
decided to break up the trip with a stop in San Sabastian. We stuffed
our faces full of candy bars for breakfast. I felt energized all over
again to see a new place. The paper said that the Yankees beat the San
Diego Padres 9-6 in game one of the World Series on Saturday night.
Tino Martinez hit a grand slam, finishing off a seven run eighth. Chuck
Knobloch also homered while David Wells got the win. We dicked off until
it was time to leave and made the train by five minutes because HASH
was looking for ice cream sandwiches. The incentive was to be free,
to go where I would find true love both physically and mentally. I never
wanted it to stop. The entire feeling of being there had moved rhythmically
into my right hand. I wished I had somebody to at least my books and
give me an opinion but I didnt. Id moved around so much
over the last few years that I never could get close to anyone. I always
felt that would hold me back somehow. My relationships were friendships
that could only go so far. I had my best gang of people when I lived
in Los Angeles but I always hated it there so Id never be back.
My NYC friends were alright but nobody was willing to shake it down.
I wanted a writing job but they werent in the paper. I had no
idea how to go about it. I thought of teaching but I was living like
a dog there as it was. I clung to the Chuck Bukowskis words above
my writing space: Natural Guts Defeats Natural Talent. Writing
was all I had. When the looks went south someday with the personality
and the talent died all Id have would be the memories written
down. In Europe or the States it was all I had to fuse on to.
I slept all the way through much of Spain. We had a two hour layover
in the capital city Madrid so we just walked around inspecting things.
Themold Quarter, called La Latina, was where we hung out mostly. Along
the Manzanares river the built up parts of the city were architecturally
striking while people picnicked through and through. We were in the
San Sabastian train station about haft past seven that morning. Taxi
guys lined the outside hassling us for rides but we walked to the tourist
info place instead. Our first plan of attack. It wasnt open, so
we just drank espresso and waited, Just because we use a tourist
office doesnt make us tourists. HASH explained, I
never want to be a fucking tourist. The sun was silhouetted against
the Bay of Biscay. It was the sunlight of my life. It was cold. We sat
on the rocks and watched the tides grace going by. I spoke to
it with my broken eyes and had my own ideas about it. Sunrises and sunsets
are so different each and every day. It is the suns devotion to
the sky and I believe it to be the most revealing secret I can find.
For HASH it seemed to be so much more. My older brother sat there gazing
upon the meloncholy. At 28, he was living in San Francisco and about
to split up with his girlfriend. His job was bartending and for the
most part he liked that alright except for the customers, the pay and
the actual having to show up.
Most times you can only do that gig so long. I didnt know what
was going on out there but I thought he was alright with his life. There
didnt seem to be any mad rush to do anything but travel and thats
solid. He wanted to be creative with photography but I didnt think
hed make a living off it. Its just lack of discipline from
not knowing what he actually wanted. He disbelieved in America already
knowing he couldnt be what he was supposed to be from there. He
wanted to be long gone and free to choose his own bad poisons, going
toe to toe with the cavemen of the world. I could read his thoughts
but I never said a word. I remained pregnant with it. HASH was coming
down with a cold but continued to truck on. He was the way he was. He
processed a certain energy for life that many people did not. A belief
that somewhere there is a better life waitingproof that he could
be a better man. He feared falling too much in love, being comfortable
and content. His arrows pointed in every single direction. I watched
him over there and I didnt know where he was going with things.
He just didnt say. It was sometimes tough for him to get the words
out but maybe thats my joba job laid out for me in the grand
scheme of things. His face, through out the years, hadnt changed
that much. I knew him as a boy and now as a grown man sitting beside
In my red book yesterday he wrote, If you know your bullshit its
the worst thing you can see. Do you really need structure? You do? I
feel intelligent. I feel Ive stopped learning some things. Things
have a tendency to bounce off me. The clock ticks everyday but how much
time do we really have? I dont want to have to explain myself
to you. It feels good to write. I feel youre a good enough friend
to take it all in. I miss the sun. How are you? Youre the only
person I have met where I have the feeling that you are expanding me.
Im looking forward to finally meeting people or women who are
going to take me to the next level, expand me and my mind but you are
the only person I truly trust. Im on page 114 of your book. Im
thinking every time I read your work I have all these thoughts but I
never write them down. I met a pretty interesting girl in San Francisco.
I dont have a dying need to fuck her but I just like being around
her. Shes actually special to me but Im convinced that I
will never be able to have a relationship with a woman. I dont
want to be comfortable. I never did. It is a joy for me to see how far
youve come. Jules, I read your book and forgot you were my best
friend. Jesus Christ, it may not sound like much but that fucking amazes
me. Its the first time Ive felt or looked at you as a writer.
I want to show the world. I just want to thank you for putting me in
that frame of mind. Youre the only one who ever listens.
The stories would last for many years to come. After that we would eventually
lead separate lives but the times and the course of those long go rounds
would always last the same. I would write and he would read when he
could. When we had nothing but nothing we always had each other to lean
on for the most part. The experience down the highways of life ended
up different for both of us but I know the seasons of emotion and devotion
and my love for him would be there until the end of time. All I ever
wanted was for him to be happy so I sing here alone for him, tonight
while my Sunflower Girl sleeps in bed. I dont understand the situation
at times but I resign myself in trying to make a change. I work in the
dark. The walls are my static. I dont forget he was there when
nobody else was. We all know that same old song too well Im sure.
The waves remained choppy but still magnificent moving all gray and
hitting the divider walls hard with splash. My eyes were playing tricks
on me. All was not what it seemed. I wanted to find the river that led
to dream girl. I wanted her to call me home. I do not think of a day
without her here. Her blue skin had suddenly become my true calling.
I wanted to keep my bones strong, shave my face and shower my body.
If my destiny was to travel than perhaps that was my actual destiny.
I would call it exploratory surgery. I wanted to circle the world ten
times over but for now I was just hungry. We ended up checking into
the Pension Loinaz near the fish market and it smelled like shit. Nearby
shops had pictures of Anthony Hopkins attending the film festival where
we finally got something to eat. Sometimes the Be Bob bar made noises
but it was still fairly quiet. An older couple owned the place we were
staying at. Neither one of them spoke English but we managed to communicate
with hand signals and check in without any problems. There was a one
oclock curfew but the place would do. SAN SABASTIAN was a border
stronghold for the war, only a few times did it actually fall into the
hands of invaders. Many fires, however, broke out during its history
and on twelve occasions it was partially destroyed. In the year 1808,
San Sabastian was occupied by the troops of Napoleon who remained until
1813. It was not until then that the victorious Anglo-Portugueses
army stormed the city and set fire to the buildings. The town was completely
destroyed but its inhabitants, assembled in Zubieta, decided to
Although striking and probably going off in the summer months HASH and
I agreed that freezing our asses off in room 14 sucked. After three
whole days straight with my shoes on I took them off and slept from
11 to about 6 in the afternoon. The pad was cold enough to snow and
the heater didnt work, Bitch better tell us how it works.
HASH grumbled, sneezed seven times and blew his nose. The beds were
small and the sheets were stained a bunch. I left the room a little
while after that to go down to the waterline, get medicine for HASH
and take pictures of the fishing boats at sunset. I walked to The Santemo
Museum, Enea Park and La Zurriola beach where I gawked at a girl with
her top off. Other than her the sand was deserted and the wind was blowing.
On the mountain over looking this small fishing village was a statue
of Jesus with his hands reaching out and protecting the miles of space
Back by the water, I happen upon a mother and two daughters. The mother
had pulled the car over to let one of them go pee. Afterwards I asked
the mother if I could take a couple shots of them all. She said yes.
I started out taking photos of the girls chewing lollypops and
holding two balloons. The kids were shy and kept sticking their heads
underneath the moms skirt. I believed I had an amazing one where
I caught the not so shy little girl off guard and right in front of
the lens. There had not been a place I could not stand being longer
than the time allowed. I watched the balloons stretch up to the sky
when the little girl let go bending down to fetch a rock. If beauty
be in the eyes of the beholder than beauty be that of me standing there
by the white rail. I stood, as that man, and wrote while the cops watched
me scribble, while the car rode away.
HASH came down after an hour and gave me a wave. The following day was
cold again and sometimes rainy. We waited most of the afternoon for
the weather to break but got drunk at a local spot instead. HASH and
I reminisced about our trip. It was 2:26 and it wouldnt end. I
bought a pack of cigarettes and he made a face.
On route to Amsterdam was next. I called Thayle to say hello. She wasnt
home so I sent her a wine stained postcard instead. I didnt have
much to say in regards to us. I wrote the Black Crowes were playing
in Amsterdam and I wanted to stay but people wanting to be places didnt
enjoy hearing about what they were missing. In fact, its hard
to speak about the travels once you get back to wherever you come from.
Sometimes it becomes a long winded story and most of it doesnt
make sense to anyone but you. The pictures dont fly with friendsthe
things one brings back and such. You eat the memories until you meet
somebody else who went where you went but even then most likely youll
just trade stories about scenic escapades every last everyone has seen.
The feelings, and I mean the times that changed you, end up being just
for you. They make a traveler, if you choose to use dumb talk like that,
every thing they are.
I refused to sleep. I could see implausibly blue skies just above my
head. It was here that I came up with the title of the book. I wished
it out on paper. The man I was before I left New York was dead. Much
like the butterflys metamorphic life cycle, I began as a small
egg, developed into larva and grew deep roots in my heart. When the
pupa stage hit I was in my third phase of life, attaching myself to
the branch, the twig, the when love was young and we had sex all the
time. The old acquaintances would fade as those days moved on, splitting
me open as a brand new adult too see and venture the planet. None of
these times I would ever forget. Curiosity and so called liberation
would become my two new best friends. It was still dark when we reached
Henday, France. I didnt know what day it was but it still felt
good. I read Millers Letters To Emil tucked in the corner
of the train by myself, I love it here.-he wrote
his best friend referring to Paris, I want to stay forever.
God dammit, Im going to hang on by my teeth. I dont want
to return. Misery there. Here-pleasant misery.
I start tomorrow on the Paris book. First person, uncensored, formless-fuck
everything. At 6:30 A.M. we arrived back in Paris for a layover. It
was murky and damp pulling into Gare De Nord. Once again even in my
simplest actions I found an energy, something bottom floor that I couldnt
fully explain. It was another strange familiarity. My brief hour in
Paris got my senses going again before we boarded the second train heading
through Brussels. We missed the 8:35 and cramped into the 9:55 instead.
The first hours were dull. Reading Millers letters made me cry.
I was reminded where I should plant my feet. Back in New York I struggled
with everything gig wise. I felt initially I would have to do the same
thing, as in the hospitality industry or a stupid suit job, to stash
cash for my trip back here. I felt I could give myself a few weeks,
money wise, alone in Paris to gain some kind of rescue before I had
to go home. A small girl stood next to me. I gave her my seat and moved
one over. HASH remained a glutton for punishment. He farted, stepped
on other riders and swore miserable but he managed to get us two one
ways to Amsterdam for 150F compared to the eight something before. The
boy had a flair for that.
I barely felt like writing anything down on paper but still I continued
on. As we cut through Belgium I started reading Miller again, A
man doesnt live many lives....-he wrote,
and until he dies many individual deaths. Everything is won with pain
and sacrifice, at the cost of bitter illusions. Meanwhile I am rewriting
Tropic Of Cancer once again, as I told you. Hard job. Hard to imagine
that empty belly and the fever and the suspense and the nightmares.
Mostly its the construction of it Im altering. And eliminating
as usual weeding out the useless shit. Putting in new shit.-The
Netherlands was our destination. Through the tunnels the land was green,
the sky gray and dreary. At Mechelen, these towns grew tough of my eyes.
It made them hurt.
At momentary stops its people looked beaten unlike the other things
weve seen. The girl on my right was reading by a spider web drawn
out in the corner of her seat. I hadnt showered for two whole
days and outside of HASH I have not had contact with anyone. He was
my second mind. At Den Haag, there was a windmill in the grass. The
gentle sun illuminated the farms and the crossroads offered a wonderful
ease to what I was thinking about. I had my sunglasses on. Gay words
like glorious exist. The sundown shined past a belly of minor notes
above the vent. HASH shrugged at me. I smelled the scenery and my spirit
lifted and the load I was carrying felt more like a childs ankle
weight. The sun was so bright with the stars on my mind. The blue sky
was a lifetime friendship, its definitive motion shipping itself
like a baby, rubbing and running itself all over my fractured overgrown
body until at last it stayed there hidden in my heart. Then, of all
things, the beginning to the moment of truth.
There were very few round about discussions, nothing proceeding any
of these so called events unfolding in Amsterdam later on. When I woke
up that afternoon inside crazyville 72 hours later the game was on.
Amsterdam was the same as everybody says. We found a hostel for $23
bucks called Dirty Nells and checked in. I showered, shaved and
sweated in the room making noteswaving to other hotel guests passing
by the cubicles like Miss America. Every single cent I had was in my
jeans or scattered along the towel at the end of the box spring. We
had come to a new phase in our adventure. For two days solid we smoked
pot and gawked at hookers inside the glass booths doing their song and
dance, I cant pull it together. This the Devils playground.-HASH
would scream over to me every once in bit, but really nothing after
that. He was funny like that. His body was dysfunctional in a stoned
haze of White Widow or Afghani smoke. Mostly we ate Burger King or french
fries in a cone the whole time we were there. The Black Crowes cancelled
their concert and moved it to Paris. In a club called Melkweg we got
news that the Yanks had won the series. HASH jumped for joy on five
hits of X while I met a freckle faced Dutch girl with a lip ring playing
pool. She asked me to write down authors for her but by the time I got
a pen in my hands we were all smoking again. Nobody said much after
that besides the three Manchester chicks with dots on their faces who
kept showing up out of nowhere spealing weird shit like, Your
on your way and me on mine.-or, It wont light. I give
The month since I stood up at La Bastille seemed to vanish within
a blink of an eye. I felt uneasy about this. I sat on the plastic couch
in Hill Street Blues and drew our names down with a magic marker.
The misty morning sun was gone hours ago. Its ill tempered face
stood silent in the darkening sky. The patrons ate space cake digesting
that. It took an hour for me to move from the spot. The truth is I didnt
blink. For reasons I cant come up with I felt I had to be above
it all or at least thats what the fiction told me. The sex shop
vibes blended down Urinoir Street with dildos and animal porn in the
front store windows. Men with cruddy deep voices were selling mushrooms
by smart shops on DeWallen. It was like a carnival. My best friend was
comatosed. For twenty minutes straight he spoke about driving the Phoenix
to Mr. Menos math class, Mulligans Brick Bar and 7th grade
Putt Putt when I had the buger on my nose.
We stopped back at the hostel to shower and change our clothes but ran
into two Hungarian chicks rolling joints and drinking Kooper. They spoke
perfect English, took us to the Van Gogh Museum and got us higher than
shit. Later, I kissed some flyer girl with a brown shirt on. The complexities
of our fate changed direction. The three days in Amsterdam were pretty
much the same: smoke, eat and wander for lack of better term, Are
we going out out? Id ask HASH from any number of those narrow
places, Is this Argentina? was always his reply.
The last night we entered Albertos Steak House around seven something
speaking with German accents, ate our beef in fifteen minutes and left.
We checked our backpacks at the station and planned to stay out until
morning. Cave Bar was next with the freaky weird mother fuckers watching
Tom and Jerry cartoons all strung out on something. This is where I
lost HASH and ten hits of ecstasy. It was all part of a drug induced
fantasy so nothing ever caught up. After several minutes clowning around
with myself next to a pool table mirror I managed to leave. The gentle
moon illuminated the passage ways. I had a beer at the Bulldog
while everybody chanted and watched soccer. The glitz of its British
interior spelled chain bar so I left. I made travel notes sitting by
a garbage dump. I searched the streets for HASH but there was no sign
of him. It began to get cold again. The red lights hung tired while
I strolled slowly digesting the drifters, the creatures, the caged women
of the night. In a lust world did it really matter how you made a buck?
Some licked their lips, some just looked and some were washing stockings
in the sink. Every one of them, scattered from around the globe, was
sexy but things didnt jive. I considered a three way momentarily
with the two Swedish blondes waving me in or at the very least grabbing
some ass but decided to move on.
The theory was never kind to factor. It was soon pitch dark. By three
in the morning the Venice of the North was magnificent. The Herengracht
canal glistened with all the fucked up Walletjes atmosphere. It was
still a novelty of some sort. The stars hit my sleeves and hoody head
first while I grabbed another whopper by Royal Palace trying to kill
the munchies. I returned to Hill Street Blues and sat at the bar. I
sat there ignited by the spectacular grandeur of it all. The place was
full even at that hour. The bartender did a shot with me and she gagged.
I laid a twenty spot down and turned around in my chair. I was being
watched. Off in the distance I could see brother HASH sitting by himself
gawking at me. In between the smoke and music I howled out his name
twice. He just sat there with that same shit ass grin Id know
since we were five. He didnt move a muscle but I knew what he
loved it there. His eyes began to flicker. He nodded to me before
hitting up the john with a finger point and two leg kicks straight
back. I pictured myself looking at 300 sheets of blank school lined
paper trying to talk about him and what this book would eventually
be about. I imagined myself living in Paris without anyone around
writing a weighty novel about my heart beating fast. I surrendered
myself to it by passing silent ones to the beats of The White Stripes
on the jukebox. Moments later, HASH patted me on the back, I
dont feel like going home, man. I dont have that much
longer. His voice was weak and all serious, Dont
think about it. I told him but, Jesus, he was leaving. It
sobered me up a second. The journey was almost over.
For two hours we
sat in a sex shop watching two girls go at it. Then the Grasshopper
for some tea. The tickets out of Holland said 7:30 A.M. It was nearing
that already. We sat there with our hearts jumping out of our bodies,
Youll be aright. HASH said to me over and over again
wiping pizza off his jeans, You have to be here broke In Europe
and learn, he said. Youre the one. Youre the
writer, Julie. Its just the way it is I told him I didnt
know. We took to the channels of water on our walk back to get our bags
from the station. HASH and I sat there watching the sun come up. There
I understood but I wondered how long I would have to wait for it. The
blue balloons remained strung out in that version of little girl heaven.
I looked over at HASH and he took a photo of the boat lights reflecting,
I cant wait to see the pictures.-I told him but he
just sulked and kicked the dirt. The trip would be longer for me. I
would spend three weeks plus by myself in Paris defying the category
of broke American writer. HASH would return to San Francisco and catch
the third degree from Velcro but that wouldnt last, Thanks.
I said to him. His sweatshirt was tied around his waist, For what?
he answered but I just shook my head. I felt sorry for it. He mentioned
Brazil or Greenland in a haste to cover the world. I got $217
lets go.he would say, Go where? I
asked and he made a face, North. Fuck it. Lets go north.
It was brilliant. A single beam shot at us both waiting there silent
after that. A crude reminder that we would be parting ways eventually
because of money bullshit. Its where we proved to be men. We waved
goodbye to Amsterdam, emptied our pockets full of junk and jumped on
the train heading back to Paris. Whatever the outcome of our lives we
would always have these four weeks. Many times wed say the same
thing even in other foreign lands. Two countries over a girl like Id
never known before was coming off a plane from London. A red blaze shot
across HASHs face. Looking back it was the best time we ever had.
© Michael Internicola
is the author of four novels, KISS ME BABY SUNFLOWERS!,
CHAZ, ALL OUR SKIES ARE BLUE and AS RIGHT AS RAIN. His work has appeared
Thieves Jargon, Zygote In My Coffee, Smokebox and many other national
magazines. He holds a B.A. in English from Canisius College.
He lives in Key West, Florida.
Travel Stories and More in Dreamscapes
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