By Daniel B. Martin
June 23, 2017
In laying the foundation for this short tale, I
would like to first state that: It has been no secret to the evolution of
humanity that a wall is a great way to
separate safety from danger.
Off in the near distance hummed the agonizingly and overwhelmingly aggravating grind of the cement mixer. ‘I need to find some grease; it probably needs some oil before it burns out’. The churning grind of the mixer is complimented by the nearby rhythm of hammer and chisel against rock. Even closer still I can sense the texture and taste of cement dust as it is carried by the ocean breeze across the Castle Lawn to the wall we are working on. It’s hot, but not nearly as hot as those summer days of my youth in Tonga when I lived with my mother, I mean grandmother…
One day a man from my village came up to me and said, “I saw your mother at the market today.” I thought this was bizarre and told him, “No my mom is in the house!” He meant my mother and I meant my grandmother. I was raised by my grandmother and not my mother, I only remember my real mother from later in life and we never got along too well. She used to beat me as a child so I think I repressed a lot of my memories of her. Plus I was so young then, that these days it is hard to remember things clearly. That being said, I think now that it was better to have known her again later in our lives than it would have been not really to have known at all her before she passed away. But, still she would beat me. Even as a man.
I guess since she left when I was a child so I never associated with her as being her son. She would tell me to do something and I wouldn’t listen. My grandmother on the other hand, I had had respect for. If she asked for something I would do it, I loved her. Anyways, at a certain time in my life I was living on Oahu and trying to reconnect with my mom. Things were not going well and my grandfather invited me to go live with him on the Mainland. My girlfriend at the time was 17, I was 20… something. I was upset because she refused to move with me to the Mainland, so I hit her. When I told my mom that I slapped my girlfriend, she came at me with a broom, I ran out the door, and left alone the next day to go live with my grandfather in Los Angeles.
South L.A was wild and rough in the 80’s but I was also a Wild Man. The dope market was exploding and if you were anyone anywhere in some capacity you were in on it. Later in retrospect I realize that if I thought that South Los Angles was rough, it was nothing compared to East San Diego. A lot of weird things happen along the U.S/ Mexico border. Most people will never talk about them. It is probably better for your peace of mind that you do not know what goes on there. Most everyone was trapped in some kind of trafficking, there was big money involved and a lot of innocent people get caught in the crossfire and many either died, were arrested, or ‘disappeared’.
It is tough to think about those days, but since I have changed so much I do not mind talking about it. That is, about how I feel and felt about everything back then. I was trapped in a hell there on that side of the wall, I felt like a fly that found its way through the porthole of a French press and got trapped inside, forgetting how to get out, eventually the fly gets tired and forgets that it can get out, and dies in a bed of caffeinated remnants. Lost in the grinds of my own cognition, I bet I would have tasted worse then than the one that was poured into the cup and unknowingly sipped on too. I was a Wild Man on the wrong side of the wall at the time, like a fly in a cup of coffee, or the one trapped in the device which concocted the dark brew.
Prison was rough. I am not going to go into any detail, but when I was not in prison I will say that I used to carry a gun on me at all times. You could never be too careful in a world where you have nothing to lose but your skin. Two eyes, three even at times over your shoulder at all times. It was rough, but I am tough and back then I was not scared because I too was a Wild Man. Eventually I found God, and that is when I stopped being a Wild Man. It’s tough to find work with my history even though my life has changed so many times in ways both big and small. But now I find work cutting down trees and building walls. I am the foreman for a tough Tongan crew, I have diabetes eat fast food chicken, sugar candies and prefer to drink mountain dew over water. The scar on my forehead is another story that I have not told you.
One day while working at the castle on the Cliffside building a wall that separates the Castle from the peril of a hundred meter cliff down unto sea and rock below; we were placing rock about rock constructing the wall. When one of my workers blacked out, and shrugged his right shoulder forwards I had first thought to myself, ‘no rock, hammer, or tool hit him. Yet he thought I had struck him?’ “If I did hit him with a rock it would be a small one”, I looked down at the ground and there was a big golden brown coconut. It fell from the tree above us and luckily it just missed his head. The collision with his shoulder made him sore enough, and had caused him as I said to black out and he desperately needed to go home for the day. It could have easily killed a smaller man, and certainly would have killed him had it of fallen on his head.
Later we cut down the coconut tree, we cut it with the chainsw, pushed it over and watched it tumble down the steep cliffs down towards the ocean below. Better there than dropping nuts on me and my crew. We kept working and finished the rest of that section of the wall. But what good is a wall which cannot be crossed? One that is awkward and entrapping needs an entrance, an exit, or a staircase up, over and out. Just like the fly needed to have not drowned, or the other who needed to find that time porthole through which it found its way in. So we cut through the rock, replaced it with an opening, and sealed the perfected mess with grout.
While our bodies are working each of our minds is hoping for more work (more distraction). Each rock placed is another piece of reality away from the days on the other side of the wall when I was a Wild Man. Each carefully thought-out, planned, executed placement brings me closer to my future and away from my past. No matter how much I build or how much I willed I am, I can only build the wall, but I can’t detach myself completely from what lay on the other side, I can only distance myself, by putting more and more time, more and more rocks, more and more work and motivation and drive forwards, onwards, up and out. As I sip on a fizzy mountain dew I can proudly state that “my name is HauFou and I am no longer the Wild Man that I once knew. But I will leave you for now, because there is, at the moment, much work to do!”
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