The Spinners of Barra By Bob the Dog


(None of the names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent.)

         The spinners first appeared back in the summer time after the tourists had gone home.  This is the lazy time of year when not too much happens in Barra de Navidad.  It gets so hot and sticky the mosquitoes drown in your sweat.  You just gotta pick a spot and stay still.  Movin´ around will just make you hotter.  It´s the only way to survive.  A busy,excitin´ day is goin´ down to the bus station and watchin´ the buses leave.

When those spinners arrived down in the middle of the jardin one evening, not everyone noticed.  Every morning, just as the sun came up and every evening, just as it went down into the sea, there they were, maybe a dozen of ´em, both men and women, spinnin´ around to beat the band, swirlin´ like gyroscopes in the middle of the plaza.

Once people noticed, it caused a lot of questions to be asked and a lot of wild speculation.  Who were they?  Where did they come from? What´s it all about.

All kinds of crazy ideas started floating around. Some of us thought that maybe they were escapees from a mental institution. Some thought they were aliens from outer space.  Backpack Johnny claimed that airborne hallucinogenic drugs were being tried out on us by the government.  Some of the old hippies thought that they were the spirits of wandering Sufis, whirling dervishes putting themselves into a trance.  Others thought it was an omen from God, maybe predicting a bad hurricane season.  They were buying up sandbags like crazy.

Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Bob the Dog and I´m spinnin´ this tale.

I spend most of my time hangin´ out down around Hector´s Corner Bar.  Like everyone else there, I sit kinda motionless.  They drink beer.  They just give me water.

Some of the local gringas sorta feed and keep me lookin´ presentable, mostly Heather, the artist, but I´m pretty much my own dog.  Have been all my life.

Hector used to let me lay inside the bar, but after he tripped over me a few too many times, he put an end to that.  Now, I just pick a spot outside where the customers can sweet-talk to me and pat me on the head every once in a while.

Occasionally, I hafta run off some other dog, mostly Mexican dogs.  They´re basically jealous types and would like to take over my exalted position here.  I used to be a Mexican dog myself, but now, I consider myself sorta an international dog.

Any haowww, whether most people realize it or not, I was the first one to spot the spinners.  I was takin´a walk with Heather down by the jardin one evening just as it was startin´ to cool off a-little.I looked over there across the jardin and I saw somethin´ kinda blurry.  I knew it was somethin´ cause I hadn’t been drinkin´ beer like everybody else.  Nobody was takin´ any notice of it at all.  On closer inspection, they looked kinda like a bunch of dust devils and when they slowed down a little, I could see they was people.  I thought they was kinda crazy, cause it was still way too hot for that sorta thing.

Still, nobody else seemed to take notice of them and I didn’t say nothin´ cause I haven’t yet mastered the human tongue ´cept by imaginary means and that ain´t all that reliable.

For a while, it stayed that way.  Then some of the other dogs spotted them and you could see that the pigeons were tryin´ to avoid them when they flew through there.  Then the kids started seeing them and they told the adults, who tend to be sorta unaware of interesting things like that cause of all the beer they drink.

There´s still people who said they couldn’t see nothin´, but then, maybes they´s tequila drinkers and everything looks kindablurry to them.

Anyhow, this went on for a while and most people didn’t pay ´em much mind.  Sorta thought it wasn’t none of their business.  If some people wanted to spin around like that, well, Barra´s got a lotta nut cases. There´s even more in the winter. So what.

But then some of the kids started imitatin´ them.  They´d started spinnin´ right along side of them, whirlin´ away until they fell down. Then they´d laugh like a pack of silly hyenas.  Kinda reminded me of when I was a pup and chased my tail.

Then somma the parents started getting uptight about it.  A rumor got started that it caused brain damage and their children would end up being silly for the rest of their lives.

A bunch of them went to the Delegado, madder than hell.  They were all in a snit and told him the spinners were being a bad influence on the kids and ought to be run off.

He went out and yelled at ´em to knock it off, but it didn’t do no good. Finally, he went back up to his office and closed the door behind him.  He told his secretary not to let anyone in for a while and hoped the spinners would be gone before next election time.

The next day he got a brainstorm.  He made an announcement that they were just an illusion.  Something had got into the air, probly caused by global warming, and bent the light rays makin´ it look like somthin´ was there when there wasn’t.

He couldn’t do nothin´ about that, now…….could he?

The extra publicity didn’t help any.  It was dividing up the town three ways till Sunday.  There were those that thought they was a menace, some that thought they was kinda cool and those that didn’t believe in them at all.

The Church wasn’t sayin´ anything about it one way or another.  I think they was afraid of givin´ any credence to miracles.  Those things have a way of upsettin´ a lotta apple carts.

Anyhow, all they did was spin.  Who could make some kinda big pronouncement over that.  Nobody was fallin´ down on their knees claimin´ to see God or the Virgin or Jesus or nothin´ like that.  So What? They just spun, every morning and every evening, rain or shine.

But then something did happen.

I was over waitin´ for the show to start like everybody else.  I was layin´ in the shade when a pretty girl walked by in fronta me.  I lifted my eyebrows and twitched ´em a little to show off my big buttery brown eyes and she just walked on by like I wasn’t even there.

Fancy-dancy breeds like cock-a-poos can be like that.  Stuck up.

Maybe I shoulda done somethin´ less subtle like goin´ over and peein´ on somethin´.

Ah, well, I´m getting´ away from the story here.  Where was I?

Oh yeah, I was waitin´ for the show to start like everyone else.  I saw Backpack Johnny and Clive sittin´ on the ground leanin´ against a wall drinkin´ beer.  A few of the Indio´s was coming up from the beach with all their souvenir stuff.  A few Mexican families was millin´ around.  I saw Heather come out of the store with a fresh pack of smokes.  Bill was coming down the street with his chihuahua on a leash.  Chihuahua´s give me a headache.  They´re so little and cute, it just makes me sick.  Always trying to hog all the attention!

Oh-oh.  There I go again.

So, suddenly, there they were.  Spinnin´ to beat the band, when all the sudden, one of ´em fell down on the cement.

Bein´ all chivalrous and macho like, I went over.  She smiled at me, patted my on the head and leaned on my back to help herself up and went back to spinnin´ with the others.

I just came back and laid down till it was over.

The next day a Hector´s, everybody started lookin´ at me funny.  People were staring.  I thought, “What the heck is goin´ on?”  Then I overheard Clive talkin´ to Artist Joe.   “You know what I think?”  (This is usually a signal for everybody to close up their ears before they get filled up with a bunch a baloney.) “I think that when she touched him like that on the head, she gave Bob the Dog a revelation.  And because he can´t talk, he can´t tell anybody what it is.”

Oh-oh!  The light bulb comes on.  Not a very bright bulb, a lot of people don’t think I´m very smart, but I get more that they think I do.

They was waitin on a revelation and they were thinking I was the one that had it!  I´m not even sure what a revelation is!

Seein´ how Hector´s is a drinkin´ establishment that caters to all the ex-patriots that come here cause they´re too goofy to live in their own countries, I´m never surprised to hear a wacky idea. Hector´s is pretty much gossip central in Barra and stories spread pretty fast with a lot of variations, but, I didn’t have no revelation.  At least I didn’t think I did.  That lady just patted me on the head like lotsa folks do.  She didn’t give me nothin´. I wouldn’t want a revlation if they gave it to me.

But there it was.  All day, people kept starin´ at me.  Everybody knows I like attention, but this was getting´ weird.  Only thing I could do about it was go hide under Heather´s chair.

The next day, things got even weirder.  Hector let me lay down inside the bar.  Then Gladys, the waitress, gave me a whole patty of raw hamburger.  I was so shocked I almost fell off the floor.  Hector started to say somethin´ but he didn’t. He just swallowed his words without sayin´ ´em.

Everybody started bein´ real nice to me for a change.  They´re all sayin´ “Bob´s got the revelation.  Bob´s got the revelation.

I was startin´ to wonder if it wasn’t some kind of sickness or somethin´,  like revelation disease.  Like I was about to croak and they all had to be super nice before it happened.

Then the little kids started showin´ up.  They were bringing me balls and those little squeaky toys they make for puppies.  A kid would put one down in front of me and say, “I want a new bicycle” or “I want a new GameBoy and that game with all the wrestlers” or “I want a Bat-Man tee shirt like Jose Luis has got” or “ I want a new princess outfit with a magic wand to make my little brother go away.”

Then the grown-ups started coming with dog bones with ribbons wrapped around them saying “I want a new car” or “please cure my hemorroides”.

This was definitely weird.  Elizabeth and Gladys had to throw a whole pile of dog bones and little toys in garabage at the end of the day.

It got worse.

By ten o´clock the next morning, the whole corner was clogged up with people carrying dog bones and toys.  The buses couldn’t get through. There was no place for customers to sit and no one could get in and out of the bar.

“Heatherrrrrrrrr!” Hector yelled. “Get that dog outta here!”.Dang.  I was eighty-sixed and I was only drinking water.

We went over to the jardin.  People was followin´ us and more people were joinin´ them.  One lady was yelling about how I cured her of cancer.  By the time we got to the Jardin, they had us surrounded.  The cops came out and ran everbody off cause it was getting to be public safety issue.

We headed out towards the Barrio.  That was where two thugs tried to steal me.  Can you imagine some one tryin´ to steal me, Bob the Dog!  One of them had an old piece of rope and way tryin´ to get it around my neck and I bit him on the ankle.  Heather was screamin´ an´ hollerin´ and beatin´ off the other one. The crowd that was followin´ us finally chased them away.

Heather took me to the place she was stayin´, got me inside, and locked the door.  She pulled the curtains closed so they couldn’t see in.  Every so often somebody would bang on the door.  Heather sat down on her bed and I laid down at the foot of it.  Heather is a real good artist and her pretty paintings all around the room were kinda comforting.

Later in the day, we were getting´ sorta hungry and Heather got up and got me some Pedigree crunchies and a bowl of water.  She looked in her refrigerator but didn´t find nothin´ but half a brown lookin´ avocado and half a bottle of sour milk.  No beer at all.

She phoned up Hector´s to see if she could get a delivery.  She asked Elizabeth if Clive was workin´ today and asked could she send him over with something to eat and some beers.  The crowd was still outide, but she said she thought Clive could get through seein´ how ‘yours’ truly wasn’t with him.  Clive was there, but said he couldn’t make any promises about getting´ here.

Clive made it through.  He got mashed up against the door by the crowd and Heather opened the door real quick and yanked him in.  The hamburger was sorta smooshed but the beer was OK.

Heather started in on him as soon as he was in.  “What the hell were you thinking of, telling everyone that Bob had the revelation?”  She was yellin´ “God-damn-it! Look at the mess you caused! I oughtta strangle you right here and now!”

“Well, with all the medical problems I´ve got lately, I´ve probably only got a few weeks to live anyway.”  “How do you know he doesn’t have the revelation anyway?  You saw that woman touch him.  Maybe we just can´t figure out what it is.  I don’t know why she didn’t give it to one of us instead.”  Heather just looked at him.

They both found places to sit down and popped a couple of beers.  Then they both looked at me kind of eerie like.  Clive said that the crowd was getting kinda ugly and he “wasn’t going to try to run that gauntlet to get outta here!”

Clive has only had a few weeks to live for years now, but he wanted to find out what the revelation was.  They just sat there starin´ at me and drank more beer and got me another bowl of water.

That night, hundreds of people were standing outside holding candles. They didn’t sing cause they didn’t know any “Ode to Dog” songs.

By morning, they were still there, only now there were people with television cameras on their shoulders too.  Looked like they were willin´ to wait forever for that revelation I didn’t have.

Heather and Clive talked it over and decided they were gonna have to call the police.  Clive was nervous about it cause they’ve warned him so many times about drinkin´ beer in front of the OXXO.  I really had to pee.

Heather talked to them on her cell phone and asked them to bring a loud speaker so they could tell everbody that we didn’t have no revelation.  They said they´d be there in a few minutes.

I finally couldn’t hold it anymore from all the water they’ve been givin´ me and I went over and peed on the leg of Heather´s easel.

Heather looked at the puddle and then she looked at Clive.  “There´s your God-damned revelation, Clive.  Now go over there and clean it up!”

Clive found some paint rags and squatted down and started whippin´.  “I don’t see why I should have to clean this up…..”

“Shut up!” She shouted, “You talk too much!”

It took the cops an hour and a half to go the twenty blocks to get there.  They came down the street lookin´ like Darth Vader and his storm troopers.

They ordered the crowd to disperse.  Nobody moved.  People started shoutin´ back “How can you deny the people their revelation from God?”

The Comandante got on the loudspeaker and said, “The people inside say they don’t have a revelation and the dog is just a dog.”

Clive and Heather started yellin´ through the window, “It’s true. Bob the Dog is just a dog!  Bob the Dog is just a dog!”

Ouch! That hurt!  How could they?  It always hurts the most when your betrayed by the people you love.   Sheesh!

Gradually, the crowd broke up. The Comandante came up and knocked on the door.  Heather opened up and I ran out to go poop in the street.  The cops outside was holdin´ their guns in their hands and eyein´ me as I finished my business.  I had half a mind to take off, but I went back to the house where Heather keeps the Pedigree.

Heather was arguin´ with the Comandante.  “But we didn’t start any riot.  We didn’t start none of this!” She looked nervous like at Clive. “Those people just got some idea that we had something that we don’t.  If you want to blame it on someone, blame it on those spinners.  Why put us in jail?”

They wouldn’t listen to nothin´.  They just hauled us off in the pick-up and locked us up in the jail in town.

The three of us sat there in the jail cell.  Clive asked them if they had any beer, but they just laughed at him.  They did give me a bowl of water though.  I looked at Clive and Heather and wondered how long I could hold it if they kept us here very long and kept givin´ it to me.

A while later, we could here a big commotion goin´ on outside.  We couldn’t see around the corner, but we could hear a bunch of people yellin´ in English and Spanish.  I could hear Victor´s voice real well.  I could hear Hector and Klaus Ibie and Pecho, Mardi and Juanita and Chynna, Cheyenne, Chuck and Russell, Elizabeth and Gladys and Paloma.  I could hear Patti and Barbie and Candi, Della and Manuel, Tommy, Taxi Jimie and Louie.  There was Jay and Gail and Arnold, Jim and Sue, Carpenter John, all the Mikes and a few Rons and Dons.  I heard Tracy and Michelle, Les and Diulse, David and I could even hear Nona cause dogs got good ears.

Then they got a chant goin´  “Free the Dog!  Free the Dog!  Free the Dog!”  Heather and Clive glared at me.  I figured it was pay back time.

The Delegado could hear all the noise from upstairs.  He musta seen the television cameras too.  There musta been a hundred people out there.  He knew that some of them might be constituents and to keep us locked up could hurt him in the next election.

A few minutes later, they let us out.

Everyone was slappin´ us on the back and cheerin´.  It was almost sunset and we all went over to the jardin where the spinners would be startin´ soon.  People went and got boxes of beer and started passin´ ´em out.  Somebody brought me a bowl of water.

Everybody was drinkin´ beer and having a good time. Children were weaving in and out of the crowd.  It was almost time.

A hush fell over the jardin.  There they were, spinnin´ and twirlin´ like hurricanes,  whirlin´ like turbines cracklin´ with energy, spinnin´ like clothes driers.

They started going faster and faster until they were just a dozen blurs in the center of the jardin.

Then it happened.

They all fell down.

I wasn’t goin´ anywhere near ´em this time.  I´d learned my lesson.  Then they all rolled onto their backs and started laughing, kickin´ their feet up into the air.

They laughed louder and louder.  High pitched hees and haws and low pitched guffaws.

It started to get infectious and pretty soon everyone was laughing.

They were laughin´ every kinda of laughin´ you can imagine.  Lowly snickers cre-shen-doed into joyous cascades of merriment.  Nervous titters turned into hearty horse laughs.  Shy giggles turned into squeels of delight.  Chuckles turned into mirthful joy.  Snidely hehhehhehs exploded into raucous wonder.  Mockery turned into chortles of approval.  Dark gallows humor became ahas of discovery.  People were laughing their troubles away.  You would have thought that every funny and witty gag and joke ever told had been told just then.

Then the spinners got up, still laughin´, and started spinnin´ again. All the children started spinnin´ with them and nobody stopped them.

Everybody was still laughin´ uncontrollably. The buildings were laughing.  The trees were laughing. The ocean was laughing. The laughter was soarin´ up into the sky and echoin´ back down on us.  In a fit of pure  exhilaration, the spinners started to rise.

They rose on a high tide of laughter.  It was the laughter that was animatin´ and raisin´ their spirits and even the whole crowd lifted a few inches off the ground.

Their spirits rose higher and higher.  They whirled and swirled in to the colored evening sky.  They cork-screwed and spun into the setting sun and the green line smiled a happy grin.

Everyone fell to the ground, rollin´ like a bunch of holy rollers along with the children.  Everyone was splittin´ their sides they were laughing so hard.  They were laughing like a bunch of bloomin´ idiotic, drug crazed fools.  They was even laughin´ at themselves.

Even I was laughing.  Instead of my usual grin and pant, the howlin´ laughter of a thousand coyotes burst from my throat.

Everyone laughed till tears of relief ran down their faces.

Of course, nobody could keep that up for very long.  Pretty soon, everyone was worn out and they started walking home with big grins on their faces, still rejoicing in their newly cleansed souls.

Everything gradually went back to normal.  I guess there was much else it could do after a spectacle like that.  I´m still hanging around town, getting´ pets and pats on the head.  Hector won´t let me lay down in the bar again, but people keep bringing me bowls of water and an occasional funny bone.

I do think, not much, but I do think that people are a little more light hearted than they were before, though most people in Barra have always been good natured.  Whenever you see children spinning, you want to laugh right along with them when they fall down dizzy.

Nobody ever figured out where the spinners came from or who they were and nobody knows if they´ll ever come back.

Was there ever, really a revelation?

I´ll leave that for you to decide cause I´m just not that smart.


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