NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 160

“Yes...yes!” she whispered. If you wrote about that it would be very ugly, but there would still be beauty too. Art is not life, Kwame! They would still be your characters. You would still be their Creator. When you gave them breath they became part of you. Yes, you would have to love them because they are you. The subject matter wouldn’t change anything,” she said, fighting back the tears. 158 “How?? Tell me how!” he yelled. At Muhumbili Hospital, two days after his rescue from the cave, Kwame awoke delirious with fever. He leaped to his feet like a zombie, searching frantically for his clothes, thinking that he had overslept. Wasn’t he supposed to be aboard the Tan-Zam Railway press car for its maiden voyage to Mbeya where a Chinese construction crew was preparing to blast their way through two miles of iron mountain? Was he a goddamn slacker now? But the fire in his head shorted out his legs and he fell backwards onto his bed. His demon (or was it his muse?), seizing the moment, assaulted him like a choke-and-rob bandit. Kwame tried to beat it back as he seized the pen and notepad that Makamba had commandeered from a staff nurse only to appease him. He had to get down his notes on the railway story. Above all, he had to stay focused, KEEP HIS FACTS STRAIGHT. But the hostile takeover of his faculties reduced him to little more than a frenzied heart muscle pumping arterial blood through his pen, as his demon, perched at his elbow, declared: “Listen up, Homeboy! It was a serpentine ‘fact’ that was the original lie.” Hunched over his night table, mumbling the twisted words like a sanctified blues, he wrote madly, heart over brain, for the first time in his life—that is, until he passed out an hour or so later. For the next three days he lay wallowing in a feverish haze. The following morning he sat up in bed for the first time, eyeing the bared cleavage of a comely young nurse’s aide as she placed a breakfast tray on his bedside table. At his request she shyly returned the writing pad and pen that she’d confiscated as he slept. BRN-FALL-2013.indb 158 Poring over his scribbling, Kwame was astounded. It was the best thing he’d ever done. Somehow the railway story had morphed into his fascination with trains as a boy back in Chicago. It was an imaginative romp through the daredevil adventures of his childhood. In an instant he knew what all the sifting and searching had been about. Parched pilgrim that he was, he had been trying to get HERE. The goddamn desert had bloomed. Everything behind him was scorched earth. He buried his face in his pillow and bawled like a baby. Back in his apartment, in the wee hours of the morning, he became this weird nocturnal creature who lived for brief encounters with a capricious muse. In those frenzied moments he felt more alive than he ever dreamed possible. Little else mattered as he greedily snatched what was offered. Then with childlike idolatry, he attempted to sculpt them into recognizable shapes and patterns, even though they sometimes stubbornly resisted. Still he forged on doggedly, without roadmap or compass, not knowing or caring how or why, simply amazed and grateful that the pieces came together at all. In this way he managed to eke out several fledgling stories during those solitary weeks after his release from Muhumbili. These, his darlings, he hoarded for a long lonely time, fretting and fussing over them like a new mother. Then a wee