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Pitch-Black Blues – Crooning a Venezuelan Jingle

Pitch-Black Blues – Crooning a Venezuelan Jingle

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A one, and a two, and a three; won’t you come with me?

 Welcome, dearest friend; hope we did not offend.

 Forget this intrusion; we’re here to stir some confusion.

 You know what happens when all the lights go out? That’s when madness walks about.

Yes, I’m the new music teacher and I’m here to show you how to rock the Hell out of your blues guitar. Forget what you know about writing music – living it is better. Want to find out how to start writing your tune? It’s easy – you need some inspiration, a little soothing darkness, and 32 million people without electricity. What kind of devilish tune is this you ask? One that nightmares are made of. Thought several weeks have passed since the great blackout – a termed coined by the Venezuelan press to describe a major power failure, one that enveloped the entire country in darkness. Seven days, 23 states, and 32 million souls struggling to go by. This is what my tune sounds like. And, to my very misfortune, I was there to witness it all; the good, the bad, the ugly, the distorted, and the horrific.

In retrospect, this thing started out like any self-respecting horror movies – lights going out without a reason and every attempt at restoring them ending in failure. I recall telling my fiancé that we’re stuck like in a gigantic time bubble, ever returning to the same point – the anchorman on TV reassuring the public that the Government is doing everything in its power to solve the issue as quickly as possible. What a load of horse shit, I kept saying. They don’t even know what the problem is, let alone deal with it.

And so, we sat and waited. What else could we do? It wasn’t that bad at first. Our pantry was fully stocked with food, we had water, books, candles – everything a couple could hope for and even more. And then things started to happen. At first, we kept hearing about police forces cordoning off entire neighborhoods and people getting arrested; looting, physical violence, those sorts of things.

“So, it takes a little darkness for someone to go completely bonkers?”, my fiancé told me. Have to agree with her on that one. There’s nothing more utterly horrific than having to go through life with the same demureness as a caveman looking for a place to lay low for the night. Still, what else could we have done? We couldn’t wish for electricity to show up. And, of course, she insisted that a backup generator would be a waster of money. Sure, go ahead and buy that expensive new medicinal bike. It’s not like we don’t use it now as a rack for clothes.

Anyway, there we were, two lovebirds in their cozy nest, waiting for something to happen. We stopped listening to the radio. I know! Big mistake in case of an emergency. So, sue me! Two days passed without any major events. And then shit started flying all over the place. That angry mob the officers were so desperately trying to keep in check, broke free and began torching their way through the city. Had to go outside and get the car inside the garage. Good thing I did it, because my neighbor’s car got totaled when the mob passed by us.  You want to know what happened when that crowd of angry people stopped in from of my home? I soiled my pants. Not ashamed to deny it, but what could I have done? It’s not like I have a special riot control squad stashed in my garage to set it loose on those people.

Things started to calm down after the end of the 6th day, right after the power guys managed to restore power to some parts of the city. Sure, it wasn’t a total victory, but who cared? We had power and, more importantly, it was once again safe to go around the city. And just in time because, by the 3rd day, we’ve eaten everything last bit of food in the house.

You know what I had to do in order to get some food? Go out. Alone and at night. I’m used to camping and everything but, I tell you, nothing’s more frightening than a pitch-black city. Not a soul in sight and the silence was almost deafening. The store was just around the corner, but that wasn’t the major issue. To get there, I had to get passed a fucking blockade set up by some of the people from my neighborhood. Yes, they took stuff out of their garages and blocked the road. It’s easy to imagine what would happen if someone was foolish enough to approach them.

Seen this sort of thing a couple of times – in times of civil unrest, thugs dressed up as police officers set up barricades and would stop people for ‘questioning.’ Well, to make a long story short, I remember how the authorities tried to nab one of the mobsters who beat the shit of a little lady who happened to came by the blockade.

Not a pretty sight and that’s why a 5-minute trip to the store turned into a 30-minute clock-and-dagger adventure. Of course, since there was no power, I couldn’t just waltz inside and use my card. Had a couple of Bolivars on me; more than enough to buy some power bars and a box of instant mashed potatoes. Longest night of my life, one I won’t soon forget.

Think darkness is soothing or calming or comforting? Think again, my friend. Spending the night under the stars is great, but if starlight becomes your only light source, you’re going to find out that there are things which go bump in the dark.

Stay safe, keep your wits about you, and don’t forget that survival is like a game of chess – you lose your piece, you fall off the board.


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