June 16, 2000


Chapter III

By Jeannine Diego

The over-excited voice on the other side of the television screen was trying to sell him another device. Was it the one promising to clean tar off carpets, or the one promising a six-pack abdomen overnight? At three in the morning, these infommercials melted into one and the same. He'd fallen asleep with the TV on again. Who bought this stuff, anyway? Sal reached for the remote and aimed it at the face on the screen with the burnt-to-a-crisp tan. He closed his eyes, hoping to forget the face and the mental footage of the day just passed.

No such luck. He sat back up and turned the TV back on, flipping the channels for another few minutes. He remembered those `nightowl movies' he used to watch to stay awake on the nights when Lauren had the chicken pox. Why didn't they show those movies anymore? He didn't own any movies, either. He'd kept promising himself he'd become a member of one of those video places, but he just never got around to it.

What about that video, the one he'd gotten in the mail? Maybe it was a movie. Maybe it was someone trying to sell him something. Worse yet, maybe it was from someone in his past. He'd gotten tired of thinking about it. With the kind of foolish resolve that only surfaces in the wee hours of the morning, Sal grabbed the videotape and slipped it into the VCR.

The images that ensued immediately chased away that middle-of-the-night courage that had prompted him to watch the tape. He recognized the streets which appeared in succession from behind a car windshield, but without his glasses, he couldn't decipher the endless subtitles that introduced the video. San Diego, definitely. An eerie sensation overcame him. What the hell was this? More streets. It looked like Mexico. Tijuana? Oh, my God. A kidnapping. Someone had kidnapped Lauren. No, no. Impossible. Sal felt around for the PAUSE button, to no avail. He extended a sweaty hand to the night table in search of his glasses. The letters came into view: "To Share a Story." Share a story? Why? What story?

A stage curtain opened up to reveal a figure in the shadows. More subtitles. In Spanish, in English. In Spanish again. Was there some kind of hidden message in the Spanish subtitles? What was this? Something about a kid who didn't want to go to school. Hector. Who was Hector? This was all too strange. Something about Hector living in Berlin. Was this some kind of neo-nazi propaganda? More Spanish. More English. A religious sect. That was it, a religious thing. Like the one in -what was it- Texas? The curtains closed. Applause. A final message: "A theater colleague once told me that he liked to address the stage as the illuminated space. Not only -he said- because it's physically lit with spotlights and reflectors, but because when we are on it and we feel observed, we become conscious of ourselves." I'm being observed, thought Sal. Observed by whom?

Sal sank deeper still into the bed as the video played on for a few more seconds, then fading to black. He found himself hoping the video was from someone he knew. The prospect of a stranger stalking him was a greater threat than that of his past coming back to haunt him. He thought of the phrase he'd heard so many times repeated, who knows where: clear and present danger. Clear and present. Should he call the police? Was he dreaming? He closed his eyes, and the present faded to black.

..to be continued...


(EDITOR'S NOTE: The Rainbow Chronicles is a sponsored project of inSITE2000, a non-profit arts organization operating in both San Diego and Tijuana. The Chronicles will be published in La Prensa San Diego for 19 weeks. For information on the project visit www.insite2000.org.)

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