Night Magic This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Come closer, lad, and I'll tell you about wondrous travels. My friend, if you ever have the opportunity to travel in your life, seize it at once! The magic that it radiates can make you realize what this world has to offer. I see you are staring at my caiman skin. Let me tell you the story behind it. Anyway, I'll tell you about the night of the caiman in South America. What a marvelous night that was.

"I went out with my own personal guide, Ramon. We embarked in the frail, uncertain canoe headed for the lake just beyond the dark buzumbat bushes. We glided effortlessly over the water like a waterbug until we arrived at the reeds on the opposite side of the lake.

"I felt as if all the demons and horrors of the world were about to rise menacingly out of the lake and engulf me in their clutches. However, Ramon's natural confidence and calmness, put my mind at ease when he started to hum an old tribal chant. He said to me, ASe"or, tonight ve vill search for caiman in vater. Don't be afraid.' I smiled at him to assure him that I was excited and had no fear. We coasted along the shoreline shrouded by reeds until Ramon whispered to me to keep quiet. I froze, and suddenly I heard a faint rustling and splash from within the dark, murky water. Ramon motioned to me to hold his ankles to the boat. I nervously gripped his gaunt ankles like a vice and waited anxiously. At the sound of a ripple, Ramon hurled himself into the reeds and plucked out what looked like a miniature crocodile. AThis, se"or, is caiman,' My mouth dropped open. How could a scrawny fellow like him have the boldness to throw himself into potential injury? I'll tell you, my boy, this man was no soldier.

"I gazed at the seldom seen beast, my heart still pounding furiously. His body had sharp plates protecting his frail body, with a mouth full to the brim of jagged teeth. Ramon handled this creature as if it were his own pet. The ease with which he opened its jaw so I could see the fearsome teeth was astonishing! I passed my sweaty hand cautiously over its scales. Son, Ramon brought to me some magic that night. The caiman was primitively beautiful, and I felt so fortunate to see it.

"After that breathtaking moment, Ramon slipped the caiman back into the silky water, and we paddled back towards the shore. Then he stopped us and uttered softly, ALeesten, se"or. Leesten to the sounds of the jungle.' I felt compelled to obey his command. I rested my oar on my lap, closed my eyes, and drank in all the sounds. Lad, we don't realize or understand how much we miss by being concerned with material things. Even here in this forest you can hear sounds you never knew existed. I heard from the gloomy, stygian jungle piercing yelps from monkeys, constant humming of crickets, shrieks from exotic nocturnal birds. I imagined what each of these creatures looked like, and I had a collection of imaginary animals appropriate for any zoo to display. Ramon then pushed onward without my knowing; I was still under the spell of the jungle.

"I awoke from my trance when the canoe ran up the shore to our huts. We carried the canoe back to the village, and my boy, nothing could snap me completely out of my spell. I clutched Ramon's arm and repeated to him over and over, AI will never forget this night. I'll never forget it. Thank you.'

"Lad, remember what Mark Twain said: ATravel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,' " Rosebeetle man said.

And with that, the Rosebeetle man gathered up his oddities, tousled my hair, and strolled down the path twirling his beetle on a string. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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