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Life's not Always a Beach in Venice

by V (writer), Venice!, May 03, 2007

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I gaze beyond the blazing bonfire at the blackest night-skies all around me. The air is heavy, hot and wet. I'm holding my breath, terrified. A woman lurches forward toward me, hands outstretched, teeth gnashing, eyes bulging, her skin a rich chocolate, glistening under beads of sweat. In a white, grubby, linen dress, her thick, woolly hair is secured by a scarf of the same fabric. Her body lurches with spasms and she begins to chant. I can't understand anything she's saying, it doesn't seem to make sense. Just as I am about to burst from a lack of oxygen, I wake ...

Sitting bolt upright in my bed, covered in sweat, it's the dead of night and all is quiet. I blink and then it starts again. The chanting. But I am awake. It's near. I can hear her right under my open, first-floor window. I'm no expert on accents from that region of the world, but she has the thickest accent that I place as perhaps being Jamaican. She rambles the ramblings of the mad but it's a song. It's a spell. "Ah tohld heim na ceiggarates. Ah tohld heim na ceiggarates. He leaved me. He leaved me" she sing/ cries. It's utterly disturbing and sends chills through me, as if she's trying to conjure this man's spirit.

If you live at Venice Beach, maybe you know her too. She can be spotted sometimes at 1am as if sleepwalking down the middle of Main St near the Circle, casting her spell. That accent and the sing-songy inflections of her chant, cut through any other sounds around. You can hear her coming in the dead of night and her heartache rocks me to the core.

Every day when I say, 'Good morning,' to Virgil Wolf, manning his post at the Bank of America ATM at the Circle, he tells me I smell lovely (he's blind). Every other day, the old drunk duo who work the corner of Main & Horizon outside the liquor store, tell me I look beautiful and smart and bid me a good day's work. But this lady, she's different. When I hear the eerie chant growing louder, I duck for cover and place my hands over my ears while trying to sing a happy tune.

Like Lola the showgirl, I don't want to be sitting there with feathers in my hair waiting for twenty years for my dead love to come back to me. Like the Caribbean-black-magic lady, I don't want to be wandering the streets lamenting the loss of my love. This woman reminds me that there is a breaking point for everyone. What great mysteries they are - the human mind and the human heart.



About the Writer

V is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on Life's not Always a Beach in Venice

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By Glenn T on May 03, 2007 at 10:23 am
You have to dearly love a piece that's this descriptive and still throws out an homage to Barry Manilow! Well done...
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By Venditto on May 03, 2007 at 12:20 pm
kooky and creepy, just how i imagine venice beach to be.
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By Steven Lane on May 03, 2007 at 01:17 pm
If she starts cutting heads off of chickens, move upstairs.
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By Jen on May 03, 2007 at 02:44 pm
Great article. I can almost see her and it makes me a little sad. I only hope the line between "Lolaness" and "Bitter pillar of strengh" is wide.
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By Matt Weston on May 03, 2007 at 03:11 pm
So vivid! It's these outlandish characters that define the places we live in. A savvy local in New Haven, CT - not me, but I lived there for awhile - had the idea of turning these characters into trading cards. The best part was learning their real names: someone commonly known as the "Flower Lady" is actually Annette Walton. Who knew? Downtown New Haven trading cards: http://www.lesliekuo.net/local/index.html
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By Charles Harmison on May 03, 2007 at 08:41 pm
dont worry V you should be ok. If she is jamaican its Obea which is close to voodoo but not quite the same. she's probably more like a witchdocter than a voodoo priest. no chickens and less zombies. Just don't piss her off you should be fine.
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By V on May 04, 2007 at 12:06 am
Matt ... that is seriously genius - I will go check out that link now. Trading cards? Brilliant! Jen, I too do hope that the middle ground is vast and accommodating, well put! Charles, thanks for clearing that up for me. Being pretty ignorant to those cultures, I need all the info I can get. Yes everyone, she gives me nightmares but I don't know if that's worse than the sadness it instills in me.
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