Pedazos De South Padre

[written anywhere from 2006-2008 in the sky and on the ground]

July 15 / 5:45 am

The sunrise coats a warm orange onto the gray purple Atlantic.  There are only spotlights in the cabin and the first class curtains have not yet been drawn.  All the children are asleep.  The din is rushing air and mechanical operation.  Chaleco Salvavidas Debajo De Su Asiento.  Beverage announcements include margaritas.  

6:45 am

Here's a simile from the in-flight movie: "...like a cruel mother who seduces you with roses and chocolates, and then leaves you by the side of the road like a dead raccoon."  I didn't eat my "Dave's Lil' Loafer" from the in-flight snack unit.  The label depicts someone fishing under a tree.  The product contains Propylene Glycol.  Perhaps that is what gives the loafer its lustre.  

9:00 am

This is the second demonstration of the oxygen mask.  In Houston it's raining and the land is so flat there's no mystery to the storm.  Danielle, the stewardess, is sitting in the dark.  I see a stockinged leg and the square white tips of manicured fingernails that protrude from a shadow.  While waiting for takeoff I learn how to open the exit door.  DO NOT OPEN DOOR AFTER WATER LANDING.  If we would just get underway I wouldn't have to entertain as many heart-pumping futures.

1:30 pm

Driving towards the causeway to South Padre we pass giant yucca, agave, fields of cactus blooming yellow and dark purple.  The barrel cactus sits on the ground, large and rotund.  There is a small ranch house called "Little Graceland" with a miniature replica of the Graceland gates guarding the short driveway.  Inside lives a rawhide-skinned Vietnam vet who met Elvis during the war.  He has since siddled up to the TX 100 and transformed his residence into a shrine to the King, crowded with minor and significant memorabilia.  Each visitor to the house also listens to his musical tribute, a painfully awkward ballad he had pressed to vinyl.  Authentic craziness does not recognize fanaticism or obsession. 

We also pass a roadside stand that sells produce, goats and large albino rabbits.  At the conclusion of the causeway is a photo-op entrance to the island.  A couple of vehicles, including an entirely airbrushed truck, pull off the road.  The passengers pull out their digital cameras. 

3:00 pm

Neon lines the hem of Marilyn Monroe's dress.  D'Pizza serves Landshark Lager.  The salad is a plate of iceberg lettuce topped with one slice of onion, one slice of green pepper, and two slices of tomato.  Our waitress has long spindly legs and glasses that magnify her eyeballs.

4:00 pm

The Gulf undertow is strong.

The walls of the condo are plastered and painted silvery white and exposed aluminum ventilation pipes line the concrete ceiling.  Everything about the condo is dramatic.  I choose to sleep on the cream leather sectional in the living room.  Outside the penthouse door, the building is being renovated.  There's a toilet on the staircase and the rattan walls have been painted a putrid salmon.  Outside the elevators are bushels of fake flowers.