The Vicki


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Querida Mamá,

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I’m writing to you in English because you said you wouldn’t talk to me anymore anyway. This is who I am now. I am American and I am proud of my work. I am proud of my family and, yes, I am even proud of Carlos. I know you don’t understand him and you don’t understand me so I wanted to tell you a story. It’s a story about your son and who he really is.

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Había una vez

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Once upon a time there lived a man named Carlos. He left his papá and mamá in Villa Victoria and didn’t look back for a long time. He knew they loved him, but they believed he was going to el infierno and that it was his fault. They said he would burn and bleed if he didn’t change. They tried to clean him with agua bendita but he didn’t change. They prayed Dios te salve, María but he didn’t change. And when he went to school and learned Inglés, he definitely didn’t change. There he met Manuel. And he no longer wanted to change.

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When he moved to America, Mamá and Papá didn’t say goodbye. And he never saw them again. One day, he met una mujere named Claire and she made him finally want to change. He loved her more than he loved Manuel or anyone else so he knew it meant that he was changing. After ten years, his mamá picked up the phone. It was too late for her to tell Papá that his son was saved. But she promised to look at his face and walk with him in the streets if he came home. When he came home. But he didn’t come home.

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The man met another Carlos and this man didn’t make him want to change again. He wanted to be the same person he always was, but the other Carlos said he loved him. And the other Carlos said he knew the man better than he knew himself. The man told the other Carlos he was married and had children. That he had changed. He tried to concentrate on his work. But the other Carlos was made of colors and wanted the man to change again.

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Mamá would call the other Carlos loco, but he had a blessing called synesthesia. He could hear colors and told the man how they sounded. But the man didn’t understand. And because he didn’t understand he thought he could keep his life and family, without changing.

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But the other Carlos worked very hard to change him back. He worked day and night and built a machine for the man. The machine had tiny fingers that walked over wavelengths of light and made them into sound. The machine translated and amplified everything that was beautiful, like a Victrola. But it was a magic Victrola and he called it the Vicki. And little by little, with la musica de los colores, Carlos made the man change.

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When Carlos and Carlos were together, the world looked different and the man was sad and happy and missed his Mamá all at the same time. But she would not pick up the phone again. And so the man never heard the la musica of her voice again and had to listen to the Vicki even more. The sounds of the colors got trapped in his head and couldn’t get out, filling his mind and his soul. He started to hear the other sounds of the world less, like echoes without their source. His children spoke in black and white and so he started to hear them less than the one who could sing in colors.

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The man wants to change again, but this time it’s too late. He’s listening to the colors and now he can only go toward them.

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Te amo mamá

Carlosito

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Claire muffled the joy of an escaping champagne cork with a dish towel. The release that accompanied the opening had lost its sense of celebration a hundred bottles earlier, but the comfort of the underlying pinot tones would sing her to sleep.

She dreamt of all kinds of men, facing each other as they pulsed together. Claire woke in a hot sweat as she finally knew her husband for the first time. It had been an open secret that Dr Enders went both ways, but Claire had always thought of his former pairings as experiments, as lust. Claire felt at the same time old and naive as she realized she had never considered two men looking each other in the eyes.

She had to look in the archives at an internet cafe to find news of the funeral; it had been ten years almost to the day and Dr Enders was no longer big news. But there he was, a black and white photo in the local paper, his hands crossed under his chin. He must have been in his early twenties in the photo. The article was forgivingly brief. Dr Carl Enders had died in a motorcycle accident at age 53. He was survived by two daughters and was known for his work on simulated universes and color perception theory. A b-grade tabloid photo showed the funeral party, blurred in the rain.

“I didn’t know they served wine here,” said a chubby woman who sat down next to Claire and took out a set of knitting needles in the middle of the cafe.

“Well, they don’t,” said Claire with a wink as she pulled a silver plastic bag from her purse, one that must have been extracted from a box of grocery store wine. She proceeded to refill her coffee mug. “A lady needs to take care of herself these days.” She looked back at her screen. She pointed at the tall, big man with a cane in the funeral photo. “That’s the man who raised my kids,” she said for the benefit of her neighbor. But the knitter was concentrated on her mittens and didn’t pay Claire any attention.

“It must be him, Carlos. Perhaps he was injured in the accident too.” Claire ached as she looked at his grainy image. He had taken care of her girls. She loved him for that. Her grown-up daughters were in the photo too, holding hands. Claire nodded approvingly and wiped a delinquent eye. They’d done just fine without her, just fine.

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whitewonderstar

 

 

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