Author: ©2024 William Castano-Bedoya


I went out for my usual three-mile walk; sometimes I head north, other times south, or east or west; that depends on my mood and what I set out to think about while walking. Often I accompany my steps just by listening to some literary work. That’s the case today; coincidentally, I’ve been listening for a few walks to “The Postman” by Charles Bukowski, a guy I’ve grown to love for his rich past in authenticities.

This time I took my first two blocks between the neighborhood houses that led me down Palancia Avenue to the east. Walking east is perhaps the route I like the most, as I find much peace in the surroundings. It’s a calm and free route, a gift of freedom. I walked that first stretch until a yellow-painted mansion, with pink bougainvilleas—intensely pink, like Barbies—hanging over the garden walls greeted me coyly. How I enjoy them! There, I am obligated to make a slight right turn when I encounter a curved street that belongs to San Amaro Avenue and that heads a few blocks down, south, bordering the University of Miami. It’s in that blinding curve where my tranquility is roasted; right there, during about thirty seconds of walking, some humans usually appear fortuitously, driving their vehicles in a swift and daring manner. I always fear that one of those vehicles will run me over, and as a precaution, I stop delighting in the natural spectacle of the bougainvilleas and take refuge in my survival instinct; thus, I guide my steps onto the asphalt and cautiously climb onto the grass, so my journey through that blinding curve lasts no more than a minute, as I must turn slightly to the left, leaving behind those seconds of terror on San Amaro.

By this point, my walk has accumulated about five minutes. Peace reigns within me once again. Then, with relaxed conservation instincts, I immerse myself in Bukowski and, hypnotized by the postman and his antics, I veer left and walk on a stretch of asphalt that in that neighborhood goes by the name of Mendavia Avenue. It’s a street that hugs the south of an exclusive and silent golf course, part of the Riviera Country Club, and that reveals in the vastness of the horizon the dome of the majestic Biltmore Hotel. I always look at that hotel because I owe it many pages of Ludovico, a novel I wrote one day thinking about the fictions of a character as authentic as Bukowski himself. I look at the Biltmore out of literary gratitude more than for its beauty, as I have grown accustomed to it.

Mendavia, in my opinion, is a long block that suffocates with another end of the golf course, but before that, it is crossed by Santa Maria Street, a straight street of exuberant beauty and peace. I wouldn’t call it a street, but a privilege, that feeling of absolute silence. While Bukowski accompanies me for about nine minutes on Mendavia, at a very slow pace that doesn’t reach three miles per hour (4.8 Km), once again, my conservation instinct had the biggest startle I had felt in the last months or perhaps years. I jumped so impulsively, and my heart raced so fiercely when I noticed that a very dark gray snake, like charcoal, with a long ivory-colored belly, as long as my entire right arm, lay in the street, trampled by some vehicle from which it didn’t manage to escape despite the anguish inflicted by its natural slither when it saw that black tire like death that would demolish its entrails without remedy, despite its panicked slithering, in flight. Seeing a snake is a rare thing, I thought, but seeing it dead because of a fortuitous accident annihilated it from this world, gives me mixed feelings, it saddens me, I pity the defenseless reptile. After discerning, still nervous, I took my phone and photographed it. I thought about moving it off the road, but I presumed that my conservation instinct warned me that the poor animal could still be agonizing in its silence and for sure some of its movements, which didn’t occur, would panic me.

Then, with much sorrow, I continued my walk. I left it to its fate, just as the dying are left in modern wars. Wars that are not mine. I imagined those dead still agonizing and writhing their bodies trying to escape death. In the midst of the dilemma of the snake’s death, I remembered a phrase from one of my novels, ‘Death is a punishment for the body when it can no longer perform the miracle of existence,’ but that phrase failed to free me from the image of that being turned into a coil on the ground. Death came upon it because it didn’t take precautions to crawl only through the garden and not on the asphalt. I resumed my walk thinking about its anguish before dying; it’s a being that suffers like us, the panics, the hysterias, the paranoias, and that flees from the asphalt so that it isn’t run over by the cars driven by humans. Then mental parallels presented themselves to me with those snakes walking upright disguised as humans. They paraded through my imagination leaving Bukowski as a whisper. Some snakes wearing clothes and driving cars, from that politician convicted of corruption or prevarication, whose reputation is dragged down by their illegal or unethical behavior. I also felt compassion for that chain of snakes that came into my imagination, of other snakes with clothes that, when caught by society’s wheels, crawl trying to save their honor and little dignity from death. From that religious leader trapped in a sexual abuse scandal, whose public image is dragged down by the accusations against him; to that prominent businessman accused of financial fraud, whose reputation and credibility are dragged down while facing the legal consequences of their actions, not to mention that famous athlete found guilty of doping, whose career and legacy are dragged down harassed by the dishonor associated with the use of prohibited substances, or that recognized artist facing plagiarism accusations, whose integrity and originality are dragged down due to suspicions of copying others’ work; or the recognized academic who is discovered falsifying data in their research, whose academic reputation is dragged down due to a lack of scientific integrity. Or that community leader caught in acts of hypocrisy, like preaching honesty while being involved in fraudulent activities, causing their moral authority to be dragged down. Or that social media influencer exposed for buying followers or “likes,” whose credibility is dragged down as punishment for the lack of authenticity in their online presence. Or the corporate executive caught lying about the environmental impact of their company, whose reputation is dragged down as a result of the lack of transparency and social responsibility. Or a university professor who is fired for inappropriate behavior towards students, whose academic career is dragged down due to the loss of trust and respect in the academic community.

I walked moved, philosophical inside, my thoughts bubbling with sadness, I couldn’t control it, What is Bukowski doing talking to me at this point? I thought, annoyed. I tried to immerse myself again in the postman, but the blessed snake told me that it was sad, that its protagonism in life was extinguished and that surely dozens of them will be run over without remedy and will be ropes lying on the ground, ropes that scare. I walked troubled by Santa Maria to the north; that path took me about ten additional minutes until I reached Pinta Court, a piece of street that to the left is Pinta Court but with a slight turn to the right continues to be Santa Maria. Then I decided to continue on Santa Maria until a dead-end street called Algardi Avenue, actually a long block, which meets the same Pinta Court on the other side, making a kind of loop between Santa Maria, Algardi, and Pinta Court. Right in the middle of Algardi, I decided not to listen to Bukowski anymore because I got distracted, and I immersed myself in thoughts; I knew beforehand that by taking Pinta Court to return to Santa Maria, I had already reached the halfway point of my walk and that just fifty steps on Pinta Court, the dried stain, but still with some volumes of protein and a scaly skin crushed by the passage of cars during the last three days, let me see the sad past of another snake, of the same breed and size as that one, who lost its life today. I swear that two days before I was scared with the same intensity as today and I couldn’t help but be scared when I saw that with the passage of the tires today it was no longer a snake, but a snake leaf stuck to the asphalt and that there was no doubt that in that condition it would not move to bite me if I decided to move it off the road. My conservation instinct tied me to panic at all times.

I returned home having completed the three miles, thinking about Bukowski and the tragedy of the two garden snakes.

William is a Colombian-American writer who captivates readers with his ability to depict both the unique experiences and universal struggles of humanity. Hailing from Colombia’s Coffee Axis, he was born in Armenia and spent his youth in Bogotá, where he studied Marketing and Advertising at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University. In the 1980s, he immigrated to the United States, where he naturalized as a U.S. citizen and held prominent roles as a creative and image leader for projects with major corporations. After a successful career in the marketing world, William decided to fully dedicate himself to his true passion: literature. He began writing at the turn of the century, but it was in 2018 when he made the decision to make writing his primary occupation. He currently resides in Coral Gables, Florida, where he finds inspiration for his works. William’s writing style is distinguished by its depth, humanity, and authenticity. Among his most notable works are ‘The Beggars of Mercury’s Light: We the Other People’, ‘The Galpon’, ‘Flowers for María Sucel’, ‘ Ludovico’, and ‘We’ll meet in Stockholm”.

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