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  August 2006
volume 4 number 3
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  Curran D. Vinson
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Curran D. Vinson August 2006



photo by kevin berger

    I was born in Amarillo, Texas. I was raised in a small town about 50 miles outside of Amarillo called Pampa. My mother's name is Billie named after her father- Mr. Billy Edward Vinson who, it is said, has more than 30 children. My novel ...Ho!, is a history of my family, and of a "curse" that was supposedly placed on us by an old witch more than 60 years ago, and still seems to be alive and active even today.
    I went to Howard University, joined the Marine Corps, came out to California, attended UCLA for writing, and I have been published in the anthology The Truth About the Fact edited by Michael Datcher.
    ...Truth is the light. I believe this to be a romantic, but not altogether accurate rendering of truth.Truth is oftentimes found in the darkest patches of the human experience, and most often is, in fact, the darkest part of our humanity, illuminated-by hope."




I. Patterns

“ The creaminess of her Cherokee-flavored brown skin twelve years aged, her long black curly hair reaching down to her waist, and then out as she leaned over me… she was beautiful. I could feel her raining all of the lessons of her father down on me, and I was open, my mouth wanting the wetness of his kiss, set upon the softness of her lips, his tongue prompting her to spill herself into my mouth; she taught me the lullabies of his sing-song seductions.”

    Free will - when a grown man is using his cock to cleave you into pieces - is a fable.

    A story sang to other children to keep them hoping that one day the power to change their lives will belong to them, and that they are sovereigns spinning through a shiny little universe on tiny feet - free from the gravity of mommy's and daddy's decisions, but… for my momma, as she lay there, staring at the ceiling - her eyes dead, and her chocolate lips clenched to bleed, my momma knew different.

    Momma was remembering a time long ago when a woman, an old voodoo witch, whose husband my grandmother was having an affair with, had cursed my grandmother and all of her kin.
"You will never know happiness, never know love, never know innocence. You will be dogs in human skin, you won’t see prosperity, only wanting.”

    How real does that curse seem now, as she lies on a floor encrusted with plaster and glass shards, crack pipe stems, like his fingers, cut into her haunches. The smell of him pouring down on her, flooding her eyes and nose, choking her screams into staccato whimpers.

    Life takes on another shade in this place with its broken windows and jagged rancid air.

    Sick shadows pool in urine soaked corners. The setting Sun draws them out and they begin to spread like blood, spreading darkly across the back of her daisy-patterned ankle length dress.

    Momma knew different. Free will was lost to her that day, and everyday after that. From being two and in her mother’s arms, to being 16 and on this dirty floor with a mouth full of this man’s sweat; she wasn’t in control and never would be. Later; when my mother told me the details of the first time that she was raped, she said that all she could think about was me, and how afraid she was that I would not escape the curse…

   When I think back on being molested, I can’t remember anything about it that I didn’t like - except, maybe, for the time Teresa stuck the stick pretzel in her cootchie and tried to persuade my sister and I that it would be okay to eat afterward.

    Everything, from the tingling fascination of how good doing little things could make me feel: someone caressing my chest while speaking the ABC song into my ear, and then drawing the letters from the cleft of my throat to the tip of my penis, her hands and lips teaching me the more sublime meanings of "Z."

    The softest hands; they haunt me, even today I feel them tracing lines all over my body, and every lover takes me back to those first moments under the tents or deep inside the house, under the covers in the darkest room.

    The most difficult part of my molestation was the waiting, and the anticipation; knowing that Regina was coming over always made me giddy and impatient, or as impatient as a five-year-old had the right to be. I would start building the tent hours before she came, my stomach full of a falling feeling. Four socks tying the four corners of my sisters’ sheets to the four posts that formed the divide between our beds. My sheets were only used when it was absolutely necessary because they were blue and opaque, so the light from the room couldn’t shine through - in which case we would be unable to see - and seeing was very important.

    The creaminess of her Cherokee-flavored brown skin twelve years aged, her long black curly hair reaching down to her waist, and then out as she leaned over me… she was beautiful. I could feel her raining all of the lessons of her father down on me, and I was open, my mouth wanting the wetness of his kiss, set upon the softness of her lips, his tongue prompting her to spill herself into my mouth; she taught me the lullabies of his sing-song seductions.

    Doris had the same enthusiasm for the visuals; she would tell me all of the time that I was beautiful,
“I’m not a girl," I would always respond with little boy indignation.

    Doris was my hero woman as well. I’d fallen into the apartment swimming pool and she was the only one who saw that I couldn’t swim, and she jumped in to save me. How could I not love her, and give her kisses; sweet, innocent, wet little kisses flew from my mouth to her cheeks, tingling and moist, leaving tingling trails wherever they went. She’d chide about how sensitive the inside of her thigh was to these wet little presents of mine, so she asked me to use my teeth instead.

    It never felt like anything bad was happening, but I guess that’s not the point- bad isn’t necessarily about a feeling.

    My mother was very busy tending to our survival. So much of what I’m about to tell escaped her notice completely. She was only 19 at the time, so I’m not sure that my babysitters, rattling around the thinly veiled tomb of their own broken and hollowed-out sexuality would have registered as anything but the much welcomed zeal of a fellow; a nubile partner… someone to trust.

    The streets of Pampa, Texas gave life to many such partnerships: bodies, diseased and broken moving towards destinations that are not their own; stacked in vertical rows, sweaty and foul; babies, born of the vacuum, tiny voices whispering treaties of milk and honey; they have to, to survive, form chains of sweat and bone, one body upon another until the smell of disease fades into a uniform misery where no one breathes.

    Momma was beautiful; even at 15 she possessed all the raw sexual magnetism that had been passed to her by her father, the venerable Billy Ed Vinson, lord and patriarch of the Vinson clan who, along with four women, claims to have fathered at least 30 children. Sexual accessibility has plagued my mother’s mother, her grandmother, my aunt, various cousins, and ultimately, myself, along with an inability to assert the sort of discretionary boundaries one would expect of someone of exceptional physical beauty.

    Momma was pregnant by the time she was 14 by a man that I’ve never known, and never really had the opportunity to know… I think it had to be that way… knowing what I know now; I understand that he had to leave, or she would never have chosen him, so I don’t blame him, but I must say this; almost without a doubt, had I known him, this book wouldn’t have been written.

    Maybe he’s away somewhere writing his own book… of which, maybe… I’m a small sentence.

II. Someone

“I wonder if I really like the way she tastes, or if… when she’s in my mouth I’m only doing what comes naturally to me, in the end I guess it doesn’t really matter, she’ll die all the same… she always does.”

    My mother met, and married Robert L. McLean, a sergeant in the Air Force, someone that, if asked, I would have sworn that not only was he my “father” but also that he was the most intelligent, nurturing, and reliable person in the world… and maybe, for that time, he was. He’s the only father I had ever known, and my history with him, until I was seven, was pretty base for father and son, but history doesn’t always start with our memories.

    My earliest memory of my father starts with me being about five and it’s Christmas. I’ve gotten a construction site set; the type that has the crank wheel you have turn to move the little dump trucks around a track to dump the plastic gravel into a bin arranged in the center of the site.

    Somewhere, there’s a picture of me in my underwear surrounded by this huge yellow and orange track, smiling.

    A picture; time snatched by fingers made of cellophane and light, and held in the breath of a memory. Often times they can be misleading, and other times they are an outright lie. I…

    Damn! The phone rings at the most inopportune times. How am I supposed to finish a flippin’ book about my life if every time I sit down to write my phone jumps in to stab me in the head? It’s hard enough to focus on last week, let alone trying to talk about things that happened over thirty years ago. I was reaching for something crucial, something that may have opened passageways to other things, things more important than anything that I will encounter when I pick up this phone call…

    I could just ignore it and go back to where I was, but I promised Melissa I wouldn’t do that any more - why don’t I have caller I.D.? Writing is supposed to be therapeutic; why, then, do I feel so much angst?

    Damn… okay, I can always hope to come back and finish the chapter, but… what if it’s April, Maria or especially, Carol… that makes me shiver… but the phone keeps ringing – note to self- get a new answering machine.

    “Hello.” I’m always amazed at how composed my voice sounds to my own ears. No matter what I was doing before the phone rings; sleeping, running, fucking, I always sound the same - again… this may be only to myself.


    “Hi Curran, it’s just me, calling because I miss you again. What are you doing?”
    Every time someone calls me, they –in my opinion - rely way too heavily on my (a) ability to remember their voices on the phone, (b) their being the only people that would ever think to call me, and I can’t help but wonder if they’re as presumptuous with everyone else they know… but I always play along. The truth is, I would sooner gouge out my tongue than to make any one of them feel less than the most special woman I know… it’s what every woman deserves. There have been a couple of times, late at night, and early in the morning after drinking when I couldn’t tell right away, and old habits save my ass, like calling all women baby.

    “Nothing baby, just getting a little writing done… are you at home?”

    “No I’m walking to Pete’s to have some tea…”

    Ah ha, it’s April…Damn!

    “Green” she says, yanking me from inside myself. She’s casually annoyed that I’m not truly engaged in this conversation. I don’t have to be because she’ll forgive me in the end; she always does.

    “I’m sorry baby. What did you say? What’s green?”

    “The type of tea that I’m drinking, is green… where’s Bryce?” she cuts across, loosing a few of her subtlety points.

    “He’s still asleep.” The conversation steps by the numbers. Without another syllable I know what’s coming…

    “Wow, he sleeps a lot- do you want to see me?” she says with that presumptive little giggle she uses, and that laces the whole sentence with seeds of choiceless temptation; before I even think about the question old habits kick in again…

    “Baby… of course I do.”

    It’s so automatic… I’m like a white mouse that people assume has some behavior outside of instinct that they mistake for intelligence, but really… It’s just hungry, no cognition - no thought - no charm- no desire… just instinct, an involuntary response… sharks bite humans out of instinct… they don’t even like the way we taste, but we die all the same. I wonder if I really like the way she taste, or if… when she’s in my mouth I’m only doing what comes naturally to me. In the end I guess it doesn’t really matter, she’ll die all the same… she always does.

    It’s about 10:00 in the morning; I’ve been up since about 7:00, and after going to bed at 3:00, I wish that I could say that it’s because I had been up writing. The truth is I’m not sure what I do when I’m up so late and by myself.

    Sometimes, I just sit and think about all of the things that I’m gonna do when the sun comes up, knowing that for one reason or another they all end up in fiction.

    Other times, I sit and wait for an unexpected phone call from someone… someone lonely, someone horny, someone reminiscing, someone in love… it doesn’t matter, any someone would do. I love the feeling of surprise, and validation that I experience when my phone rings at 2:30 in the morning - that someone would actually think to call me at such an unusual hour always surprises me, even though it’s what I’ve been waiting for. Often times I wait for hours, check the ringer volume, obsessively checking to make sure the phone is at peak functioning condition, and finally, after making sure that the phone is hung up for the 10th time, I take the phone and place it on the pillow and wait for my someone to call.

    Last night was a night of fiction; I sat planning the rest of my life in my head. I could see everything that I needed to do in order to save my family and myself. Tomorrow, I thought… I would type up my resume, call around and have my business cards made, sit down and write in my memoir for at least an hour, think seriously about my relationship with Melissa, find a school for Bryce, and of course, work out. I might as well have thrown in leap a tall building
in a single bound while I was at it.

copyright 2006 Curran D. Vinson