WEDNESDAY: The Social Meaning of Culture


Copyright is held by the author.

ALL THE money is in there. Tell him I’m sorry. I just lost my head, but I’m really sorry, on my mother. You fix this for me, all right? My life is in your hands, my friend. Julio took the backpack and slung it over his shoulder. You know I will do what I can, Julian, Julio said. We have worked together a long time. He hesitated. But you know this is some serious shit you got yourself in. You know that, right? Julian rose from the bench and stretched; it was past midnight. Yeah, you told me, he said. He lit a cigarette and looked at Julio. Guess I got greedy, huh? Julio looked down at his feet. Julian smiled, kissed him on the head and walked off into the darkness.

Julio drove straight through and got there in three days, tired and hungry. He grabbed a Snickers bar and a pack of smokes at the truck stop and pulled up to the gate at 4 a.m. The men searched his truck and made him take off his clothes. They took the backpack and made him walk the rest of the way naked. Six men circled him holding assault rifles. When he got to the front door a woman in a maid’s uniform opened it and told them to come in; she did not notice Julio was not wearing clothes; her job was not to notice such things. In a few minutes a corpulent man in a burgundy bathrobe descended the marble staircase holding a drink. What the fuck is this? he said. Go get him a robe. Is this how we treat guests in my home? My sensibilities are offended. Get him a drink, too. What are we, animals? He gestured with a long cigar. Come. How is my friend? Julio shrugged. Sorry, he said. Carlos chewed his cigar. I see, he said. You want a cigar?  You should try one. They’re from Columbia. Julio asked for a Marlboro. Carlos pursed his lips. No culture, he said. I’m going to teach you some culture Julio, because I like you.

In his private study, Carlos put on some music. You like Prince? I love Prince. He’s kinda nasty but he’s really fucking funky, you know? Music suddenly filled the room. Head. Til Your Love is Red. Head. Carlos tried to dance and spilled his drink. Hey, see what I mean? That’s some funky shit, right? Julio shrugged and drank his beer. See, Carlos said, you must take in culture from everywhere you can. Music, movies, even newspapers. You know all you need to do is read the headlines and you can read ten newspapers a day. He sipped his drink. Want to know the best newspaper headline ever written? Julio smoked and shrugged. Headless Body in Topless Bar. Carlos let out a belly laugh. That’s some funny shit, right? I mean, that’s hysterical. I hope that guy got a promotion for that. You want another beer, Julio? Julio said sure.

Now movies, Carlos said. I like all kinds, but I like violent movies the most because they’re real. That’s real life shit there. I mean like Godfather and Goodfellas; even Tarantino makes some decent shit; a little corny for me, but OK. But you know who I really like? Julio shrugged again. Sam Peckinpah. He was a real dude, man. You ever see that movie Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia? Julio shook his head. Now that was some killer shit man, like when he had to cut the guy’s head off in his fucking grave? Who thinks of that kind of shit these days? Peckinpah was a master of cinematic violence. Nobody did it better. A man poked his head in the door. It’s all there, he said. Carlos nodded. Well, so we are finished. Julio looked puzzled. What shall I tell our friend? he asked. Carlos shrugged. What the fuck have we been talking about? he said. If you have truly learned anything about culture this day, then I will see you in a week.

Three days later Julio was sitting on the park bench. At midnight Julian appeared out of the darkness and sat down next to him. Well? Julian said. What did he say? Julio poked around in his backpack until he found what he was looking for. He turned to Julian. Have you ever seen that movie Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia? he said, snapping on a pair of rubber gloves.

  1. Thanks. So excellent.

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