Dear Benjamin Bratt,
I hope this letter never gets to you because you’ll probably think I’m a creepy stalker fan. After all who writes three entire novels and countless poems and shorts, casting you as the broken warrior, the love interest, the creative soul, anything but the actual lead.
What kind of self-hating San Francisco native takes pride in the fact that San Francisco is your city. So maybe I can find a way to see the beauty in this wasteland.
The strange thing is, I never liked you in your prime. I never watched Law and Order. Catwoman and Miss Congeniality – total cringe.
But 2017 has been the year of you. Your work, your appearance, the person you present to the media- You are my muse, my inspiration.
I’ve seen La Mission, Pinero, The Infiltrator. I’ve binge watched The Cleaner, even Private Practice. And don’t get me started on Season 2 of Star; Jahil is the icon for struggling artists past their prime.
Inspired by your strength.
This is my 2017 countdown-
Everyone asks ‘Dourdan, what is your book about?’ After much thought, I have an answer- my main character, Sean, falls in love with Jen. Jen was raped her freshman year but luckily her father is the bad-ass military veteran, Diego.
The old cowboy strutted up to the gate. “I don’t know how you do things down in Mexico but here, in the Dakotas, we play smart.”
“Open this gate,” Diego demanded.
Nathan only laughed. “No, you, my friend, you’ve lost. I hope you and your lovely family enjoy the money. Maybe use it to send your little slut to college.” Nathan was about to light a cigar when out of nowhere Diego flung the crowbar at his head. One of the guards shot Diego with a Taser.
Inspired by your character Jahil, from Star, my wounded warrior has to learn to roll with the punches.
“You could probably figure out on your own what your mother said to me: ‘How dare you show your face here? If you and your wife were tired of feeding and clothing the child you brought into this world for spare parts, I would have gladly taken her in’- excreta- things along those lines.”
He was speaking quickly as if trying to downplay the emotional nature of the situation and my mother’s fury.
“I’m so sorry.” Diego touched his cheekbone, his fingers resting below his eye.
Sara touched the man’s face. “D-Did she hurt you?”
Speaking of people named Jahil. I straight up borrowed that name for my immortal superhero warrior, in my first ever published title.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“I am called Jahil.”
Jahil smiled. “Is that because you sparkle like the sunrise?”
Can he sense my powers? In the past, the people I healed simply experienced a sense of relief from their pain or discomfort. The only other person to describe the tactile feeling of my powers was my father. “Little Sunny with her little sparkles,” as he liked to say. I caressed Jahil’s rough, unshaven face. The man was clearly very sick. I needed to do whatever I could to ease his pain. “Would it be alright if I held you?”
“I’d like that.”
The infiltrator, your face looked so beautiful even with full grey mustache and beard. Looking older than your 54 years (Happy birthday- 12/16), but regal beyond words.
Gia was awoken by the sound of Miguel’s cries. “Gia?” The man was struggling for breath. She turned him on his side to reopen his airway. The two shared a bed since, by odd coincidence, Miguel started to suffer sleep seizures after Jamie’s death.
Gia had the body of a gymnast, small, but deceptively strong. “I’m going to move your leg.” She knew that as a young soldier Miguel suffered severe nerve damage in his left leg. The pain only worsened as he aged. Gia massaged his leg from the hip down to his knee, using gentle pressure. When she was finished she kissed Miguel’s forehead. His hair was dark grey, the color of asphalt with some lighter shades throughout. The color continued to his mustache and beard.
“Gia, you are so good to me,” he said with tears in his dark innocent eyes.
Back to Diego, my veteran character, sick and dying.
Remy lit the first incense stick handing it to me. I walked around Diego’s bed, gently waving the stick. I couldn’t place the scent, maybe Patchouli. “The root chakra is the center of strength. You have always been so strong. You were strong for the men and woman under your command. You were strong for your son when he needed you the most. And you were strong for Jen. Even when it seemed like you weren’t. Your life has been kind of like the story of the tree who gave away parts of its body until there was nothing left. And then your wife came along and tried to pour stump remover over what little remained. We are gathered here to lend you our strength. Offer a positive affirmation.” I placed the incense stick in the holder on the bedside table. “Mr. Quinto, you are a survivor. No matter how much the world tries to take from you, you will always persevere like the soldier that you are.”
Inspired by the movie Pinero. I read Sideshow. I know what in the movie this version of Miguel Pinero lives and dies surrounded by the characters he created (as opposed to his actual friends and family)- not a bad way to go.
Give me your pain,
I’ll wrap it up in tin foil,
set it on fire,
and inhale it from a silver spoon,
Close those beautiful eyes,
exhale your heart into my soul
Just once before I die
I want to climb up on a
to dream my lungs out till I cry
then scatter my ashes thru
the Lower East Side.
-Lower Eastside by Miguel Pinero