The winds blow strong. The Santa Ana’s. They come steamrolling in from the desert. Screaming. Squealing. Frantic. Frenzied. Molecule colliding with molecule. Displacing, replacing, disgracing. Tossing over outdoor furniture with little effort or regard. Whipping palm trees into submission. Ripping off dead fronds that pummel unsuspecting roadsides, cars, pedestrians. Grandmother used to say the Santa Ana’s are the Grim Reaper, the Breath of Death. Diablo’s servant searching, seeking. Demanding its comeuppance. Diablo is owed, and the time is now. A soul must be found, claimed, retrieved, taken. Delivered from the mortal to the ethereal, the spiritual, the Other. Grim Reaper is single-minded, obsessed by feeling betrayed and cheated of its promised prize. Its hot breath reminds us mere mortals that we are at the mercy of the whim of the Way, that the universe is ordered in chaos. Diablo’s winds demand our attention, demand we be humble, awed, grateful, respectful, aware.
I hear the howling in those winds. The walls surrounding me creak in their efforts to stand against the invading maelstrom. Somewhere, metal grates against metal, an eerie likeness of talons clawing at the roof, desperate for entry, smelling fear that fuels their frenzy. A kill is near. Soon. A droplet of sweat runs between my breasts. Goosebumps blanket my uncovered flesh. I sit in the dark, the light from the street lamp denied steady entry because of the twisting, spastic dance of the bush obscuring the window. The whole structure shakes, shivers, buffeted by the belligerent gusts of wind annoyed at the interruption in their endless quest.
I feel a draft of air lap at my bare feet. Diablo’s servant has found me, its searching tendril claiming entry through the ill-fitting front door. Too many years, and the door no longer fits squarely in its frame. Too many earthquakes. Too many years, and my soul no longer fits squarely in my human frame. Too many soul-quakes.
So, Grim Reaper, Diablo’s lackey, do you think you have ensnared some wounded prey? If so, you will not be satisfied with your prized catch. I am as empty as this City of Angels through which you rampage. I am as empty as the space between the buildings that echo your passing. I am as empty as the room I sit in. Does your frustration mount because you are finding streets barren? Are you angered because there are so few souls worthy of the hunt? Enraged because their absence will not create the havoc for which you hunger, so ill-connected and disconnected are these prospects? Even behind the pristine, gated communities where the money flows freely and the American Dream is lived to its fullest, idealized glory, you find homes devoid of caring or love? Instead you find parent in one room, child in another, and ne’er the two shall meet.
You scream through McArthur Park, the Hollywood Hills, the Santa Monica Pier. Glendale. Compton. Long Beach. Searching. Craving. Annoyance builds, the shrillness in your voice reaching a feverish pitch. Keep gusting, blustering, blowing. You’ll find more emptiness than substance. I am no different. I have become the city in which I live. Disconnected. Fearful of, angry at, my humanity; yet hoping, coping, trying, crying, feeling, reeling.
So, come in, Winds of Diablo. Come on in and see what you will find. You’ll blow right through me. I cannot fall because there is nothing within to offer resistance or on which you can grab, push, knock off-balance. Blow, winds, blow. Enter if you dare, for I am desolate. I have nothing you desire. Only dry skin and parched lips. Cracked. Bleeding. Sore . . . Weathered. Solitude eroding my cavernous soul. You will howl at the unmasked truth to be revealed. You have no power over me, hot breath of the Grim Reaper. I am nothing. I am everything. I am you.