Largely forgotten amidst the grandiose narrative of the destruction and plunder of the Aztec Empire by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez in the early 16th century are the stories of those invading Spaniards who, upon first encountering the religion of the Aztec people, grew enamored of the indigenous peoples’ pantheon of gods and goddesses, and enthusiastically converted to the Aztecs’ religion. Today, savvy tourists can still seek out the Mexican storefront churches and street-corner shrines where the ancient rites of the polytheistic Aztec religion are observed, albeit infrequently, according to the Aztec calendar. It is said that Huitzilopochtli, the Left-Handed Hummingbird God of War and Sacrifice, lives modestly and plainly in a small apartment in Mazatlan, where he is sometimes visited by his old friend Quetzalcoatl, The Feathered Serpent. The once revered deities are said to enjoy watching American baseball on pirated Direct TV, bowls of nuts and sweaty cans of Tecate on a TV tray between them.
If not for the fact that I sleep poorly most nights, I would have remained blissfully unaware of these facts. On certain clear nights in the early spring, the shadows beneath the elms on my estate rotate on fixed axes across the lawn until they bear no congruent relation to any sources of light (the moon, a single halogen streetlamp) in the vicinity. When the moon reaches its apex, a single cab, its roof light extinguished, rolls slowly up to the curb and the shadows depart, en masse, for a night out on the town. Much later, in a still hour before dawn, the same cab returns and the shadows resume their stations at the bases of the trees, correctly aligned.
“My God,” she said, “look at your ass.” We were sitting in chairs by the courtyard pool of the Best Western, the late-morning June sun blazing down upon us. “It’s jiggling all over the place. It’s obscene.” We were looking at the viewscreen of the digital camcorder we had used a few hours before to make a video of the two of us fucking. This wasn’t the kind of motel where people used the pool or even left their rooms very much. Every once in a while, a curtain would twitch in one of the windows along the balconies above us. “That may be the least erotic thing I’ve ever seen.” We were there to meet her sister, who was supposed to be bringing forty OxyContin tablets with her, but she was already almost two hours late. Much too late. “Next time, I get on top. You can just lay there, keep your flabby ass out of sight.” I wasn’t listening anymore, however, because two cops had appeared at the service entrance behind the pool. They were talking to the morning front-desk manager and looking over at us. I turned off the video and lifted the camera so that the cops floated up into the viewscreen. They looked less threatening, less portentous, this way, once removed.
At The Third Annual National
Conference of Literary Sock Puppets
“… I don’t want to give it away, but this is an absolute show-stopper of a novel with insights into the human condition that defy any attempts to put it down. I spent six hours inhaling every word. My GOD. You know how you slow down when a great read starts to come to an end. I did that. Uh huh. Love story, thriller, paranormal and yet relevant to our times, and it all seemed so effortless, as though I were watching a film. This masterful novel breaks your heart amd yet lifts you. All told, it reminds me of a blend of Jodi Picoult, Stephen King and Elizabeth Berg. Funny, amazing, strange and beautiful, and now I see VANITY FAIR has named it as a hot read for Jan 2011. I’ll say. I’m recommending this one to everyone I know who asks, “What should I read next?” LORD HAVE MERCY this author is on fire and please, don’t let anyone put her out, because I need to know what is next, like I need her next book RIGHT. NOW. The mystery kept on and on and yet never felt strained or obtuse. More, more, more, more. I … is my time up? Why, yes, I am a real person. Are you? Well, I don’t see why …”
I have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, and it’s damned exasperating, is what it is. It’s been a few hundred billion years since God has wandered upstairs to this remote scattering of galaxies, and the place is a mess. You turn your back for a few eons and everything goes to hell. You get this weird particulate matter swarming and seething all over these worlds that were perfectly clean just yesterday, cosmically speaking. So there’s nothing else to do but wet a celestial washcloth and get to work.
The footing is tricky, here on the sea bottom, beneath the tall sea windows, shedding their half-sea light. Everywhere are the tomes, the shelves and shelves of tomes, the secret stories of the vanished tribes, the lives and times, the secret essence, of the lost people of Atlantis, wiped from history, as if they’d never existed, forgotten forever here on the sea bottom. Once, their civilization waxed mighty, basking in the surface light of a benevolent sun, but the world shifted its massive shoulders, a colossal indifferent shrug, and their time passed away and they were lost, irrevocably, to the pages of history, and only one, Aquaman, fins and flits among the ruins, his heart heavy, his dreams a yellowing screen cluttered with the shifting shapes of ghosts, silent, extinct.