To prevent malaria, or mask its symptoms, I would take Mefloquine. Friday mornings, I would take the one tablet dosage post-breakfast. One of the effects of the prophylaxis is that dreams become intensified; haunting, hallucinogenic, and often violent. I had not experienced many violent dreams, though I had bizarre coherence and the feeling that I was being stalked in my sleep. I would wake at times, shout, “Who the fuck is there!,” reach for my knife, gain the clarity that it was dream-related and resume sleeping. I enjoyed the majority of the dreams. They typically occurred in real-time, with real people, places. As the dreams progressed, they turned from flesh and bone to illustrations and animations; as though “Fantasia” entered into my REM Cycle. The story being read over the film above came from one of these dreams. It occurred in my childhood home with my Pepe. When I decided to create a found-footage film for it, I wanted it to be 16mm film of children’s birthday parties. I was not able to find many films to draw from, though I came across this piece of a mother throwing knives at her daughters, and several other films on child development. I joined these pieces together because I felt they were connected. The grandfather is at one point helping his grandson, while also informing him of the truths in life. The mother in the film is taking care of her children by earning a profit for the act, but also risking their lives, which is what people do each day to provide and protect themselves and their young. Below is the written version of the spoken text. Thank you.
Green and orange paisley wallpaper adorned the halls where grandfather stopped me from catching my foot on the door jam. His primer-grey beard scratched the top of my bald shoulder. When he brought my ear to his froth covered mouth to whisper, I smiled. Morning’s gentle light peered down the hall as grandfather carried me to our quiet sun porch. Cast within the rays, his eyes squinted, making the crow’s feet corners recede into their pinkish-white homes.
He sat across from me, studying my small frame on the faded red chaise-lounge. The missing left button of my brown corduroy overalls exposed my nipple. Grandfather’s sun-spotted forehead wrinkled as he concentrated, the dark circles turning into half-moons in the creases of contemplative muscle. His gaze tightened at the bottom of his eyes before he opened his mouth.
“Nothing in this world is permanent,” a sigh escaped as he spoke.
“Buildings will crumble,” he continued.
I had felt a shudder work itself through my spine. The back of grandfather’s right hand brushed across his nose. He wiped it forwards, then backwards, sniffing as he pulled it away. My hands played with the loose strap of the overalls.
“Airplanes fall from the sky,” he paused, this time to cross his right leg over his left. The glands in my throat had begun to grow sore. My mouth was dry.
“Automobiles crash.” He licked the hairs blanketing his top lip and slowly withdrew his tongue.
“Families fall apart,” choking his way through these three words - their sacrilegious connotation undermining his pithy Sunday sermons.
Five restless minutes had elapsed. My bare feet kicked the carved mahogany supports of the chaise. The radiator began its symphony of clings and clanks, letting heat filled bubbles gurgle through the basement piping. Receding from the room, the light climbed itself over grandfather’s recliner. Geometric shapes formed on the four corners where the walls met the ceiling. My thumb scratched a nervous itch on the back of my neck.
“People die,” he began.
His eyes became glossy inside the tortoiseshell frames of his horn rimmed glasses. I had swallowed hard. Saliva returned to my mouth bringing with it the taste of rancid milk. Grandfather uncrossed his legs and corrected his posture. He sat upright, his back firm to the chair. The tan chambray recliner cracked under his movement like tired bones popping when rising from rest. A solitary inhale entered his nostrils, he hesitated, then resumed,
“There is no hope for us,” despondent in his inflection.
I reached for the sore in my throat. It grew firm like a gallstone. My mouth parched again. The saliva that returned brought a wave of disgust throughout my body. I closed my eyes for a moment. Grandfather placed his hands on the well-worn arms of the chair. Standing up, he smiled, his crow’s feet turning to birch canoes. Grandfather walked through the door. I vomited on the radiator. An unsettling hiss escaped. I turned five years old that morning.