It’s not where it’s supposed to be.
“Dónde the fuck está el cráneo de cristal?”
Nobody in the Museum Of Cultures knows what I’m talking about.
I wonder if my wife and kid think I’m full of shit. I’m not even going to ask.
The girl on the bus is a handful.
When I string plastic beads around her neck, she collapses against me singing little songs in English and Spanish.
We’re the only Americans on the bus from Mexico City.
Before there was language, there were beads. They were the original mass media. My backpack is stuffed with lapis, coral, silver, bone, seed, and plastic. I can go anywhere, my currency is universal.
Hiro waits at the bus stop, with a peach fuzz attempt at a mustache, skinny, and dark, we might be brothers.
The girl won’t leave me behind.
In a suite overlooking the Zocalo in Oaxaca, Hiro takes her hand and says, “Vamos Anna, let your friend rest.”
I can’t stay in the room, they won’t trade beads in a place like this.
But Hiro owns the hotel, so….
Hiro’s brother rolls joints on the flat top of his Federale cap.
I’m smoking dope with a federal cop.
We need to borrow his car.
I don’t know why we need to borrow a car.
I don’t know why so many of my childhood friends had to die. I don’t know anything.
I don’t think that’s a metaphor.
Smoking weed makes me uncomfortable.
I always regret it.
There are unexpected consequences.
I am underwater stoned, traveling across an empty valley toward Monte Alban.
Feeling exposed in an open wash of mountain light with no place to hide.
Like a cockroach on the kitchen floor when someone flips the switch.
I feel exposed in the produce section if someone asks too loud what I think about broccoli.
The army is checking all the cars ahead.
Teenagers with machine guns.
I could be one of them.
Hiro has his brothers badge in his hand. His brothers gun is under his thigh on the seat.
I’m not worried about what’s in the trunk.
I should be worried.
I worry about rust.
Everything around me is rusting.
I think we might be closing in on my metaphor.
Monte Alban isn’t a mountain, it’s a city built on top of a city, over and over for centuries.
They’re still digging in the open tomb, collecting, and sending stuff down to the Museum Of Cultures.
Everyone is covered in dirt and afraid of Hiro.
I should be afraid of Hiro.
But I’m thinking about rust.
This place is rusting.
The giant is laid out on the floor. Buried on a mound of silver and gold, with a crystal skull in place of his head. His bones were hacked to bits.
Hiro is in the middle, offering a tiny gold bead on the tip of his finger.
I don’t want anything stolen from the tomb of a giant who was murdered with an axe.
I know I’m safe..... as long as the girl keeps wearing the plastic beads.