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Zdislaw Beksinski

Zdislaw Beksinski

I wouldn’t wander around Carrizal Bajo if I were you. Not in the middle of the night, and far less on misty days, or when the tide is bad. Any resident by the area can tell you about. Though is quite probable they never will say a word. It wouldn’t be good that on any given night, the well-meaning one who spoke out too quickly is discovered around there, returned by the high tide at dawn, or just missed forever more. Or is reappeared after a long time, on another given misty night, or when the tide is bad, wandering around Carrizal Bajo, in the precise moment that you decided to ignore my advice and walk by there. A really stupid idea.
But if you are distant enough from there, say in Huasco or Freirina, you can keep calm. Despite some cases have been known even from that distance. It’s because of the misty. It raises up from the coast to the center and the inner lands of the valley, quite thick, through uncountable nights and mornings, in any season of the year, dragging particles and smells form the hollow deepths of the small cove. And you never know, it can happen that sometimes anything else can be dragged. Just sometimes. Something else that dares to go beyond the reasonable bounderies where it should be held. It uses to happen. I know because it happened to me.
I should have stayed at home, as my wife insisted, but I didn’t. I should have followed the advice of a villager who warned me, but I didn’t. That’s how I ended wrapped by a thick camanchaca, in the center of a bad tide night, among the hills that surrounds nearby Carrizal Alto, half lost looking for a supposed lode I never found. A very normal thing for a lode-hunter like me, staying stuck over there, under a moon landscape, or plenty of stars in the middle of the pampa, trying to give a tangible shape to a rumor overheard, or a hot tip given in the complicity of some chat. And rumors and tips about the remains of richness that still last in Carrizal Alto, or any hidden lode, are the order of the day in the “trade”. The days of glory had gone for the region long time ago, but the promises of good fortune remained in the imaginary of the valley, and attracted one another lonely rusher here and there. Even if it was only that: promises, and the possibility of ending in the middle of no where, further more than into a complete darkness.
That’s why you need to be prepared. For everything. The cold, the hungry, the sudden night fall. I was always the most prepared. Always. But for what wanders on nights like that around Carrizal, for that, not even you would be prepared. No matter if you settled up with the best equipment, camping in the best tent, on the best place that you could find. On night like that, the mist raises up from the coasts of Carrizal Bajo to Carrizal Alto, and it is spread through the whole surroundings. It swallows the lights of the old port, now a tiny cove with remains of past glories, and it seeks among the plains and hills. Anything. Some animal, some unguarded traveler… or some half lost rusher. And it whispers things. Beautiful. Sweet. As tinkling voices floating into the wind. Can you hear them? Listen.
They woke me I don’t know what time. So thick was the blackness when I gave a glance out through the entrance of the tent, trying to check such strange noises. They came from every and no where, among a blanket of mist that seemed as packed as the darkness. The puny light from the lantern I had switched on, hardly broke through it. It shone a few centimeters ahead, over a white and bright wall surrounding everything. Suddenly, I had the feeling of floating in the center of a cloud: a shipwrecked in the middle of a sea of waters and fogs, hopelessly isolated and lost. The idea that I was dreaming started to settle down, slowly, inside my mind. Especially when I heard a gentle, acute and clear wail crossing through the restless breeze towards me.
— Who is that?
I shouted the question with the whole rudeness and threatening accent that I was be able, but I couldn’t avoid a hint of fear trembling in it. The wailing fell away into a anguished sobbing, closer to the light beam, which blinked in my hand and disappeared quickly inside the tent. In the narrow fabric refuge I could hear, anxiety increasing, the tiny sobbing howling into the wind, moving outside around the tent, as the fabric was shaken and seemed to be scraped by little invisible hands. The wind, I thought -my eyes frantically closed, it’s just the wind. But it was not just the wind.
I could talk about the horror. But it doesn’t make any sense. It is as an old memory that was detached from my soul at some point. When I heard her speaking out my name, when I went out the tent and saw her there, just as little as I left her in some point of my past life, an ancient life that has no flavor to anything, anymore. Now just remains a feeling of homesickness and endless pleasure, tied to a bitter taste of emptiness and loss, yes, but so vital, so powerfully vital. That it is renewed when I feel her childish lips touching my skin in a long, scalding and ravishing kiss. In the precise moment of the complete paroxysm of that kiss, I can feel a sparkle of that horror: the horror of a bottomless abyss where I sink down, slowly, the horror of the lucidity cracked forever, the horror of the fraternal love and the desire, both nesting into the same second, in aberrant coexistence. A fleeting sparkle, negligible. Almost inexistent. Then nothing. The boundless homesickness, as an unfinished yearning, but haunting. No matter how, but real.
I know I was lucky. I know. It is not always like this. The travelers get lost, they never return. Or wander eternaly among the mist and the wind of the night. I, on the contrary, follow the heading of a pair of little arms, and some hands that hook around my neck, of a tiny voice whispering old memories from lost lives. Urging me to go beyond, always beyond the bounderies. And I listen. I listen at last. As you should listen to my advice. If you can avoid to wander around Carrizal Bajo, in the middle of the night, on misty days and when the tide is bad, avoid it. If you are a bit farther away than that, maybe you are safe. Just maybe.
Yet if I have to be completely honest with you, I would close my windows on dark misty days, even if I lived in Vallenar. You never know. Maybe the shadow of an old fellow countryman is wandering by the streets one of these nights, piggybacking a little figure, wailing and sobbing, smelling of deep ocean gulfs.

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