Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Monday, December 27, 2010

No news today - Guest Post - Stefanie Freele

Although there is news somewhere everywhere nowhere, I’m still thinking about hitchhiking. This particular hitchhiker I observed while waiting for cars to get out of my way, was filthy, greasy, as grimy as taken-a-bath-in-engine-oil. His hair, I suppose was black, at least then it was. His shirt, a sort of football jersey with 07 on the back, soiled. The 07 may have once been white, but dark gray now. He was there when I passed on the way, there on the reverse trip, there at lunch, there again. While I waited impatiently at the stop, there was something, something about how he stretched, how he rotated his neck when he set down his backpack; I felt this knowledge: there was a physically strong man underneath, but a man about to give up. Okay, that’s an assumption, like assuming a koala bear is snuggly and a hummingbird is gentle, but it is the body language I watched, therefore, I thought this. I wanted to say something to him, to give him some sort of hope, some sort of wisdom, some sort of rescue, some sort of something that would veer his path toward better, but on the other hand, maybe his path was just that, on its way to damn good. Maybe he already had all of the hope in China and I was just making an ostentatious asslike moment out of my assumption. Later, I drove past again, this time, stopping, holding back my dog by the collar, and the man squatted at my window in the rain looking at me with eyes clear of drugs, clear of judgment. A look that I rarely see – no expectation. Of course, I am making all this up in my head, but this is what I think I saw: a man who had seen it all and the only way to survive was honesty. Okay, so I’m a fiction writer and all that melodramaticness was my own projection: I hear you say this in an accusatory tone while pointing a rigid claw. I said to dude, “I can’t give you a ride, but I can give you something to eat - if you need it.” He said in a tenor of appreciation, “That would be great.” I handed him an energy bar out of a box on my front seat. He took it, backed up. End of big moment. This week I’ve been studying hitchhikers. I look at the scary people, I think of the creepy people, the crazy people that could do something bad to a hitchhiker or to the vulnerable, especially the chick hitchhikers, and I want to stop it all, but what I can I do, I’m a woman with a dog and later I discover, a box full of energy bars that say “energy lite”. I didn’t realize the “lite” part and this is news to me. My big heart-opening rescue of the downtrodden is “lite” and perhaps he just threw the wafery-thing into the bushes. This is it though - I’m hoping Mr. 07 will run into a sandwich or something and his journey will be safe and well. Next time I went by: a corner of wet grass and a curb, here and there, a little bit of litter.

Stefanie is the author of the short story collection Feeding Strays (Lost Horse Press) and the flash fiction chapbook MOTEL (Bannock Street Books). She is the Fiction Editor of the Los Angeles Review. www.stefaniefreele.com

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