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(This dramatic piece, with multi-media video footages projected on stage screens, is told through Gede The Narrator playing all parts and speaking as narrator and in character as Topaz.)


Gede The Narrator:
Topaz peers out into the bowel of darkness in the courtroom, carelessly answering the Prosecutor's questions.

" i never knew guns were so cold" she says to herself.

Fact is, i never touched a gun before i got here. Now, every time i climb-up the Minister's jeep, the idea of sitting on a gun comes to me. Wouldn't be too swift to blow my butt off by accident. At least not before i've had them children i keep thinking of lately."

Gede The Narrator: The verdict, it's unanimous. Ms. Topaz is deemed insane. Sent to an asylum.

Three years have past since Topaz's dark October night. She sits in her bright bed. She can't forget or disconnect. Every time her U.S.-born sons and daughters come to visit from their suburban white schools with stories of hurts and harms. She goes, "Hah! You think it’s hard. Try admitting to being Haitian, woman, Black woman, Pitit Ginen, Desalin's descendant."

The scared and baffled kids can't decipher the thread of thoughts as she hurls the words at them:

"Large chunks were eaten out of me. it didn't matter where i was. it followed me. in the hallways at the U.S. Embassy. At the Ministry. At my hotel or at the National Palace. i felt like i had had a bad accident which left me stranded on foot in the wrong neighborhood, at a late hour and Johns in dark vans and foreign limousines were slowing down to look or wave me in while i was doing my very best to emit a take charge attitude. Walking faster. Trying to find a phone to call for help.

No one ever touched me. But i still felt accosted.

Old scars dehumanizing Black women as hot tails opened when i moved too quickly or thought too deeply.

New hurts held me back.

i was living the Outcast's ancient history...

i was as absorbed by the mental landscape as all the dusky Sallies. All the proprietresses of shadowy, secret, sensual corridors, who've gone before me. Nanny, domestic, whore, mistress...the first targets, scapegoats, surrogates...welfare queens, quota queens, malevolent ball-busters, unclean tramps. Oh, let's not forget your all-time favorite: the overloaded, over churched, ever-suffering mammy mother.”

Gede The Narrator: All of Topaz's visitors go away.

She sits alone.

Last night, she imagined herself at a lecture hall. She is anxious and reluctant to tell her story. To reveal herself to strangers who may want to listen. She is right in the middle of her morning basket weaving class with society’s other outcasts. But Topaz imagines herself pacing back and fort. Network cameras gobbling up her tale. Still, she pauses to tidy up. Looks at her invisible listeners. But they are frozen sculptures etched into a hospital wall. Still she stops at every seat touching, but not seeing:

"Come," she says tenderly to a woman who lost her marbles long ago. "Come, glide up into my heart, slide down my blood, and yes, open a vein before the appointed autopsy hour. There it is. A luminous time, six months after Aristide's return. The time i got to Haiti, when no more dead bodies laid about.

There i am in Haiti. Basking under guns and pills and booze furrowing old paths, touching and enhancing even my most intimate moments, stimulating feelings of wariness and inchoate fears. Feel its shivering, frigid stench. it was as a foul frosty breath against my skin, pulling at my nipples whenever i passed closed to or touched an "International" at a meeting, even if He wore no bulging holster.

You remember don't you, colder-than-winter Mzz White Career Chick? She was there too. in Haiti. With Mr. Western "Culture.

i stared. Caught in an unmerciless imperial glare. Took a bubble bath in it. i absorbed the brutality. The adversarialness of it seeped through the millions of pores in my skin as easily as aromatic chemicals, the essential oils found in plants, would enter my system, and it changed me. i shredded my gentle, non-violent sensibilities. i internalized the terror behind the guns 'n guards. Absorbed by it. i wanted to crush something. To burn. To kill, kill, kill something. But right before i fell..."

(Multiple-media effects and video screen reflections. Topaz stands still. Watches her many parts on screen. We see how slowly Topaz moves around the edge of the shadows in her mind. She peers out towards the drooling woman. Then walks backwards towards her seat. In her mind she is back in the courtroom. A judge sits high up by her in the witness stand. Topaz alternates from talking to him, an invisible prosecutor and the drooling woman and her small children who don't visit anymore.)

"Oh yeah, let's see now. Right before i fell" Topaz says, while dancing the Nago dance she'd learned to do at her mother's knee. Out of breath she continues. "Right before i fell, i did the nimble manbo's Petwo dance. Like at a Vodun ceremony. Practicing, practicing. Dramatizing my protest low to the ground. So i wouldn't stumble twice when the next time came to slit, slice and cut.”

(Then Topaz, as if remembering something, makes a slight movement. Her look goes further inward. Again, she touches the long working table of the hospital weavers. Seeing a desk. Her tortured mind illuminates the desk with piles of weapons: Uzis, rifles, handguns, curved machetes, bottles of booze and pipes and vials of drugs. Topaz doesn't seem to understand no one, but her, sees these things.)

Gede the Narrator: Uhmmm, the rare scholar? in the room, on a George Soros fellow, documenting the plight of Black women who get mandatory sentences accidentally caught Topaz's monologue and tape recorded it for posterity. Yeah! That's how i got to hear Topaz's words. Listen.

"Perhaps you too would have disassembled. Gotten mean," she shouts. "Warmth and balance were hard to come by. Thick minds and thick heat easier to find. One nightclub i went to had a guy with a rifle sitting outside in the shadows of the moonlit sky and a guy sitting inside in visible sight, tapping his feet to the music, eyes spaced out, long rifle at the ready.

As the months went by in Haiti, i would see more and more private guns, s
ilently ever present. Like cold hard Haitian machetes."

Gede the Narrator: At this juncture all who lived to be interviewed twenty years later said that Topaz picked up a broom thinking it a machete, swinging it wildly.

"See this rusting machete," she is recorded saying, "it's my grandfathers. But Haitian weapons were microscopic in comparison to our Superpower's combined ideological and steel guns going Ra...tatatatatatata ta ta ta. Ra...tatatatatatata tata ta, Ra tatatatata ta... eating away at the Island like it was an avocado or mango."

(Topaz puts down the machete. Picks up a rifle. to the onlookers, it's a duster with a long handle.)

"Aiiiiihhh..." her breathy voice exhales, "the bouquet of heavy cynicism drifted down on the Island and on Fridays at the El Rancho, U.S. and U.N. tanks would further accent the mental curriculum being re-taught by filling the air with their show of force rounds.

Here. Take this Uzi, take this automatic. Hear it. Ra tatata tata ta. Shots would ring out, mixed with alcohol, drugs, tropical music and midnight partying. Can you dance with me? Ra tatata tata ta. Quick as furtive lust. Faster than the darting Haitian green lizards. Ra tatata tata ta the big UN and US guns would go. Grasping, cocky, lonely, overdosing on skinny and huge mango-butt Haiti Venuses walking the traditional trails alongside the major hotel corridors.

Wait. You wanna know what the foreign bureaucrats were doing all this while?

i'm embarrassed to say...

They would plummet themselves too. into Haitian soil. Ramming Her, like the heavy green caterpillar tanks carrying U.S. firepower. But they did it on the sly. Behind their protocols. Without fanfare and as silently as the yellow polka dot butterflies flitting ever about.

Me good gentlemen would be all puffed up, stoic and properly detached at my meetings and then discombobulated at night.

in broad daylight i saw how they kept turf.

it wasn't about love but domination. it was about constructing 'ol walls and manufactured conflicts."

(Facsimiles of the Statue of Liberty, soldiers and various women appear on stage and the video screens. Topaz puts a crown of thorns on her head. Touches herself as if she's the Statue of Liberty, saying:)

"i hold the flitting silence in my cupped hands. i look at you. Waiting for your answer to what i've just said. But you haven't heard me."

(Topaz moves towards the freeze-framed witless women in the room, touching, shaking them as if they were the soldiers and motionless Internationals, shouting:)

"Have dollar, will buy," was the tipsy U.N. and U.S. soldier's baroom cry. Many times surreptitiously casting an eye in my corner. Yeah right. As if!

i, a peasant Black girl, even i thought one of us was in denial. The other in truth.
i longed to fill my eyes in you. But it was filled already with the acid Silence erasing my presence. So, every month when my wall folds down my underwear. Ancestral blood. Rivers to oceans, flowing libation, waters to source. i don't tell you how natural it is for me to break down walls. i keep my secret.

Just as i did on those alcohol-soaked weekends, when wearing my sundresses with the wildflower prints on. Or, geared up in my white muslin dress billowing gauzily in the gentle balmy tropical breeze, i would sit by the El Rancho pool, sipping slowly at lemonade. Sometimes ordering a five-star Barbancourt rum. Straight up. No ice. Swirling it around.

i knew why with all the guns around, no US gun was protecting the unarmed civilian population. Why the Haitian courts were not functioning. Why the Bush coup d'etat survivors couldn't exhale productively within the bounds of civilized behavior.

i new why it was that within six-months of Aristide's return, the killing and psychic injury was again supernaturally senseless. But that wouldn't make front-page news. We are tired, tired of them people!

Within a year, the flashes of criminal activities were paralyzing. The new Haitian cops themselves were ill trained and understaffed. What with New York policemen going down there to train them. And U.S. Embassy insisting and battling with the restored government about integrating Coup d'etat men into the new police force!?

That's why these newly professionalized-by-the-U.S Haitian law enforcement personnel would, within that year after Aristide's return, be charged with crimes against the very people they were supposed to be protecting. Drug kingpins with dollars 'n guns shaking down desperate, drug-hypnotized, poor civilians under the color of government sanctions. Sounds familiar huh?

Yep. it’s been Guiliani time in Haiti for awhile now. And even if survivors knew their assailants, there was no use bringing complaints to a court house that was shut. Or for that matter, to a Minister of Justice acutely busy in round-the-clock meetings with the Internationals, committed? to reform things!

i tell you, i would prefer, right at this moment, the heavy wool of suburban amnesia. The banality of living the life of a bougie-bunny obsessed with her nails, hair and lovers rather than the telling of this acerbic tale. 'Cept a woman who looks like my mama waits for me outside Palace doors.

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  © 1998 by Ezili Dantò. All rights reserved. You may not copy, re-post or publish, in any manner, without the copyright owner's written permission.
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