The Sailing Stone VII
Where is Beckett Stone?
The Doubletree Hotel – 237 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA
Beckett was swallowing ocean water; it was nearly over his head as he fought the waves. As he panicked, he felt himself drowning quicker. There wasn’t a sign of life, an island, a boat – nothing: just the feeling of ocean life passing through and around his kicking legs. As his eyes dipped under the water line, he heard a voice in his head: So this is it. This is how it all ends? What was it for? Drowning in your own possessions, lust and greed. This is what you rightfully deserve, Beckett Stone.
“Adrian?” Beckett asked over the hotel telephone.
“I want to head due West: where would you like to go? I am looking at a map and sipping some delicious Vintage Wild Cherry seltzer.”
“Hmmm…such a tantalizing question filled with possibilities!”
“Anywhere you have been meaning to go?”
“Let’s see…we’ve gone to just about every tourist site in town over the last couple of weeks. Well…”
“I love you, Adrian.”
“I love you too, Beckett!”
Adrian was silently thinking as Beckett studied the map intensely.
“Let’s leave town. I have a fun place, but I am afraid it’s dorky obvious.”
“I want to go to Hershey Park; but in particular, the Spa at The Hotel Hershey!”
“Let’s do it. Sounds like enormous fun.”
“Oh goody!” Beckett heard her clapping over the line. She had begun singing: “We’re gonna have some fun yeah…me and Beckett fun yeah…we’re gonna have some fun, yeah, Hotel Hershey Spa fun, yeah…” Adrian snapped her finger: “There is a Greyhound Bus that will take us there. I think we can catch it at the airport.”
An image of burning flames, gasoline and flesh instantly surface in Beckett’s mind. “We’re not taking a bus. No thank you. I will find a way for us to get there.”
“Okay! Cool! Shall we meet for lunch? Where do you want to eat?”
“You pick the place, I have to figure out how we are going to get there,” said Beckett as he grabbed his rope chain and put it around his neck.
Where is Beckett Stone? 1743 Samson Street, Philadelphia, PA
The Joseph Fox Bookshop
“I see you found a book. Hi goofball,” Adrian smiled as she kissed Beckett, who suddenly lowered the book, The Transition from Menore, at his side and reciprocated a kiss.
“Is this the young, handsome man you’ve been speaking about?” asked Mary, an ol’ timer – been hawking books for 35 years.
“I haven’t been speaking about him all that much, Mary,” replied Adrian, shaking her head embarrassed.
Beckett is finding all this banter amusing.
“And how cute that you both love science fiction. Well you two lovebirds have a great time in Hershey.”
Both Beckett and Adrian thanked her, as Mary was whisked away by a customer.
“There is a car outside. Go look.”
“How were we going to get there? Of course there’s a car. Go look.”
It’s not hard to find, go look. I am going to pay for this book.”
“Give them my phone number for a discount.”
Beckett walked up to the cash wrap as Adrian headed outside.
Adrian couldn’t help but laugh as she placed her hands on her hips and let out a cackle. Staring right at her, almost laughing back at her, was a two-toned, 1985, Chevy Caprice. With the hood a teal color and the rest of the body a navy blue, Adrian felt it in her bones that this would be the “boat” to take them into uncharted waters. She couldn’t wait to wrap the belt around her shoulder. She had just about forgotten she had been standing there dreaming for about a full 5 minutes, staring at that thing – imagining…
“What do you think?” asked Beckett.
“I hope we are not intending to rob a bank.”
“Are you ready to leave?”
“Did you buy your book?”
“Already read it.”
“Hahahahahaha…give me a hug…”
Beckett and Adrian kissed right there on the steps of the bookstore, boat-car taking it all in – waiting on them to rev her up.
“Are you ready to leave, Adrian.”
“Yes. Yes I am.”
“I mean …are you ready to leave.”
Adrian stared into those baby blues. She knew exactly what he was referring to. She imagined Clyde asking Bonnie, in a very similar fashion, if she too were ready to “leave.”
“Yes, Beckett…I am ready. Let’s go.”
Beckett…no fool he…was wearing his rope chain. “I am so excited. I am so full of love I don’t know what to do with it.” They gave each other another tender kiss…Adrian rubbing her nose against his.
“Let’s go. Let me put the address of the park in my GPS…” she said as they both walked across the street. Beckett opened the side door for her like a gentleman. “No need, Love – have the directions all up here,” replied Beckett, pointing to his noggin.
Beckett got in and started the Chevy up.
“I hope you like roller coasters, Beckett. I look at roller coasters like I look at dancing: if you don’t dance, you are afraid of life; you are not participating in the joys of this world: this precious life. I see roller coasters in the same way.”
Beckett leaned into her as he moved the dials on the radio: “I have no other intention, then to participate in the joys of this dance. You hear me, Miss?”
“I do. I do! Let’s get going!”
“This is the Time” by Billy Joel was fired up on the radio as they headed toward I-76W.
They were passing alongside the Pennsylvania Game Lands:
“What is meant by ‘game lands?’”
“Game is this sense means they have a license to kill animals.”
“Kill animals? Like forever…”
Adrian laughs: “Yes, Beckett – forever.”
Beckett shot Adrian a look of intense concern. “I don’t want to see no more killing.”
“For someone who likes to eat ham and salami and other animal meats in his subway sandwich, that’s a curious attitude.”
Beckett clicked on his hazards and pulled off to the side of the highway. He sat idol, hands clenched tightly on the steering wheel – his expression, one of complete mortification.
“Beckett? What’s wrong? What is it? Does this have to do with that terrible secret you are keeping from me?”
“I contributed to death,” Beckett said in a barely noticeable whisper.
“Talk to me. What is it?”
“Won’t be long now till we’re there. Let’s go. Fun city awaits.”
Adrian had to use the rest room, so Beckett pulled into the next rest stop. With a lack of anything better to do, Beckett decided to get gas. As he got out of his Chevy to fill her up, a man pumping gas in front of him, wearing a black shirt, black pants and black baseball cap, stood admiring the vehicle.
“Love your wheels.”
“Your car: a heck of a car. What is it? An 85’? My dad had a car just like it. Similar colors.”
“Really? I believe so. Not sure.”
“I’m pretty sure it’s an 85’.”
“You said your father drives a car like this?”
“He did. He drove it into the Schuylkill River.”
“Yeah…a real dope. He could never drive. Terrible driver. So terrible it killed him.”
“That must have been horrible. I am truly sorry,” Beckett said.
The man in the black cap finished and tore his receipt from the pump. “Yeah, it sucked I suppose. The key is to just forget it, know what I mean.”
“Yes. I think I get what you are saying.”
“You hold on to pain like that and you just sink. Sink like an anchor.”
Beckett and the man in the black hat just stood there for a beat, nodding their heads.
“Well, I have to get going, I have to bury someone. Have a nice day. One heck of a ride mister,” said the man in the black cap as he gave Beckett the thumbs up and climbed back into his red Kia Rio.
Adrian and Beckett were following behind a bellhop, who was rolling a luggage cart into their luxurious “Cottage” room at The Hotel Hershey and Spa; their possessions consisted of two suitcases and three 12 packs of Vintage Wild Cherry seltzer – left over from his Super Fresh shopping bonanza.
“Awwwwwww Beckett! Is that from you?” Adrian noticed a box of chocolates and a bouquet of yellow roses atop the bed.
“I hope you like them. I hope they make you happy.” Beckett handed the bellhop a twenty as he exited.
Adrian clutched the roses and chocolates to her chest, and with a gargantuan, satisfied smile, she leaned in to Beckett, who clutched her shoulders and gave her a peck of a kiss.
“Look around Adrian. What do you think?”
“I love it, I just love it! A fireplace…look at the bathroom – marble everything. This hotel is even better than I dreamed. What a huge room!”
Beckett set the seltzer packs along the sidewall. Adrian walked over and spun him around, clutching the lapels of his sport coat. “I want to thank you extra special later on, okay. I want to thank you with every being of fiber I have,” Adrian purred as she nearly swallowed his lips whole with another kiss.
“I forgot to give you this…” said Beckett, as he pulled an envelope out of a pocket within his sport coat; he handed it to Adrian.
“A spa itinerary! Wow! A chocolate fondue wrap? A sweet bliss illuminating facial – for 120 minutes! Couples massage for 80 minutes…I am weeping with happiness…can’t wait, can’t wait!”
“The first appointment is in an hour. If we’re hungry, I was told we can go to the Oasis and have lunch in our bathrobes.”
“Okay – this is all overwhelming. I have to freshen up and I want to hurry up downstairs…quick…put everything away…love you, love you…so excited! Woooo hoooo!!!”
Good boyfriend = check
Both Beckett and Adrian were lying on benches – asses covered. Spa technicians prepared their body by scrubbing their arms and legs with brushes, exfoliating their skin. Next up: a chocolate themed body treatment, featuring a chocolate sugar scrub and fondue wrap. Covered, chest to toes, in chocolate fondue – cocooned – they were administered a facial massage; after which they were left alone, wearing a cool mask. Breathing in the cocoa, they relaxed inside the music, the stillness, and the dim light. Adrian and Beckett said not a word to one another. Beckett had even wondered if Adrian had fallen asleep.
As Beckett closed his eyes, he watched himself from the ceiling of the room, as if he were a suspended spider hanging down. Yes. It was a nearly identical room, except the woman lying next to him had strawberry, blonde hair. The walls, mauve instead of the pale yellow, he now found himself between. Yes, nearly identical situations. It was most rare indeed that he remembered anything from another PU – but here he was, lids shut, seeing that other realm – as it was, living as it now is.
After several minutes of silence:
“Why again, Adrian, do we have all of this brown stuff all over our bodies?”
“Revitalizes the skin. Helps your skin look youthful.”
“That’s right. Because we are going to age.”
Beckett couldn’t help but grin underneath the chocolate mud.
Beckett was lying in bed – staring up at the ceiling, as Adrian exited the bathroom in her bra and panties. Adrian was fleshy in all the right places. As Beckett looked toward her, his heart had begun racing, sweat had begun to form behind his ears, under his armpit, across his brow.
“Do you like what you see?”
Beckett sat up in bed, stared her up and down.
Adrian climbed on top of the bed and had begun to crawl toward Beckett – getting right in his face – kissing him, he responding aggressively.
“Should I put on some music?” he still managed to ask.
“I don’t need any music,” she replied as she grabbed Beckett’s right hand and pressed it against her right breast.
“Yes…” Adrian said as she dug her mouth under Beckett’s chin.
“Yes, Beckett what is it?” Adrian asked while tonguing Beckett’s neck.
“I can’t have children.”
“I…I can’t have children. If we are about to create a baby, it could be very bad.”
Adrian stopped – panting: “What are you talking about ding dong. I have rubbers. You know how this works, right? I have rubbers. Now, come on – grab my tits, rip my bra off, I don’t care. Let’s just feel.”
The kissing started up again.
“I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” Beckett tossed off a nervous laugh as he slid to a sitting position on the bed.
Adrian shook out her curly, black locks in frustration, putting her dark rimmed glasses back on. “Okay. I am frustrated. You are not ready. This is life. This is experiencing. This is what it’s all about and I am grateful. Push/pull and yes/no, etc…etc… I am okay with it. What shall we do? What do you want to do, now?”
Beckett sat there and thought it over: “Can we go out on the patio, have a drink and look up at the stars? Just you and I – the lights, the silence, the stars?”
Adrian smiled: “Sure, Beckett. I am going to have some wine – you, seltzer?”
Beckett and Adrian shared a blanket and looked up at the stars. Adrian had no idea how close they truly were.
“Come on!” Adrian shouted, as she grabbed Beckett by the hand, pretending to know where she was going. “I want to start at the Kissing Tower first, okay? If you know what I mean…wink, wink, nudge, nudge; then I want to hit the Great Bear: are you sure you are up for this? Some of these rides are scary.”
“To ride is to live and I am most excited to go on these rides with you. My heart is pounding. Let’s go.”
“I am feeling big, Hershey love right now! We can hit a few rides, then if you are not totally nauseous, we’ll get some food – okay?”
“Sounds wonderful, Adrian. Let’s do it! To hell with money, to hell with time! We are living for right now – with all its wonder.”
“Yes!” Adrian threw her arms around Beckett and kissed him. “Now where the hell are we? I should have grabbed a map at the entrance. Hang on. Stay right there…”
Adrian hurried back toward the entrance like a spastic, looking for a map.
As Adrian and Beckett slowly rose up the vertical Kissing Tower, the cabin spun slowly, giving them a spectacular 360 degree view of Hershey Park; and through windows shaped like Hershey Kisses, Beckett and Adrian took in the wonder of the expanse, kissed each other, rested their heads against one another and sat 330 feet in the air, absorbing the moment.
A recorded voice played throughout the cabin, detailing the sites of downtown Hershey. Beckett and Adrian weren’t interested.
“Isn’t it amazing we found one another?” asked Adrian.
“Look, there’s our hotel.”
“Oh, yeah…there it is. What an outstanding view from up here.”
“It’s extremely amazing we found one another: almost impossible, actually.”
“I know what you mean: two people with so much in common. You know, I wonder if the recording will mention how it was my grandfather on my mother’s side, who invented the first roller coaster here in the 1920s called The Wild Cat. Let’s listen…but while we listen, let’s smooch.”
It was, of course, the waiting that was the worst.
With his trusty rope chain in his damp-with-sweat pocket, thereby decreasing some of its ethereal power, Beckett found himself locked into the seat of the Great Bear roller coaster: his first. Holding Adrian’s hand, he was ready to experience what everyone else on this planet was capable of feeling: the full power of fear, of joy, of adrenaline, of the experience. All of his rides going forward would be judged against this classic, inverted roller coaster.
As the Great Bear made its 90 foot climb – clicking as it advanced forward toward the drop, Beckett felt his heart beating. He turned toward Adrian and they both smiled as if they were prepubescent friends. As the train climbed over the crest, Beckett noticed they were now being held from tracks above their heads. A tight, spiraling helix nine stories high, sent a rush through Beckett, with Adrian screaming from her heels. White steel supports passed by at blazing speed over their heads and at their sides as the train plummeted toward the river and up into a spiral corkscrew and vertical loop. As the coaster hit the final inversion, back into the station, Beckett’s eyes were thrill crazed – ready for what was next on the amusement park menu.
“That was most awesome, Adrian! That was brimming with a kind of excitement I have never felt. I mean …” Beckett was tripping over his words as the coaster made its way slowly back. “This coaster is not about height. I have been higher before. It’s the rush and speed slamming my face and chest. My heart skipping beats. The awe of all of this is stunning, Adrian. My working, living body. Give me a kiss – now.”
Adrian was excited for Beckett as she did what she was asked.
“What’s next? Let’s go. Let’s get out of these seats. I don’t want to wait. Hurry. Come on people…move it…for the love of all humanity – let’s go.”
Fear of roller coasters = check!
Adrian and Beckett were both in hysterics over Beckett’s childlike excitement. Adrian looked down at the map. “I hear that Lightening Racer has a shorter line. Let’s go get on that one.”
The Lightening Racer had two coasters, Lightening and Thunder, racing alongside one another in a duel for victory. Adrian, to Beckett’s embarrassment, kept challenging the other train before they sped off: “You’re going down! We’re taking this race. You got nothing on the speed of this baby. We’re going to kick your ass!” Even though their coaster came in second, Beckett was just as thrilled and wanted to keep going:
“Is there anything higher? Something with a bigger rush? Beckett needs speed. He needs that rush again, damn it!”
“There is a coaster here with ‘rush’ in the title – come on…let’s get to it.”
Strapped into SkyRush, Adrian turned to an eager Beckett: “If the seat tells us anything about this ride, it ought to be exciting. My legs are numb. I have lost all blood flow through my legs.’
“Really? Your blood has stopped flowing? Maybe mine has as well.” Beckett had begun beating his legs with his fists.
“I don’t mean literally, it’s just these restraints are so friggin’ tight! Damn! I’m in actual pain!”
As they crested over the dip, Beckett let out his first shriek of fright. The feeling of leaving his seat was real for a few moments; but what a touchstone feeling: how rewarding for humans to put themselves through safe peril. The taste of imagined, fake-death was so very important for some, even though the actuality of it was imminent. Right there all the time: a cell dividing, a stroke or killed in a plane crash! It was all so strange and gratifying to him. Made him, for a moment, proud to be walking amongst them.
His pride would not last, however.
As they shared a cotton candy and a large soda, Beckett felt the feeling of desire wash over him.
“We’ve eaten enough. I want to go back to the hotel, put on rubbers and make love to you,” Beckett said grabbing one of her shoulders with his free hand. Adrian’s eyes nearly jumped from their sockets.
“Okay. Yes. Let’s go. Sex and Spa. Sounds delightful!”
As they headed in the direction of the exit, an irritating buzzer sounded from Adrian’s smart phone.
“Huh. An ‘Amber Alert'”
“What’s that?” asked Beckett.
“It means that a child is missing, has gone missing or is kidknapped. They send out an alarm for everyone to keep a look out for any child that might be lost.”
“That’s horrible. A child…lost?”
“Without their parents?”
“Yes, Beckett. I think the exit is down this way…”
As they approached the gate, they noticed it was shut tight: security and police officers barring the way.
“What’s going on?” Adrian asked a fellow visitor.
“They’ve shut all the gates because of an ‘Amber Alert.'”
“It’s in the park?” Adrian asked.
“Apparently,” said the visitor. “I need this like I need cancer. I’m going to miss the start of the basketball game.”
“Did she say the child is lost here – in Hershey Park?” Beckett asked.
“Yes. We’ll have to wait a little longer for our sex with rubbers.”
Beckett was thinking hard. He was troubled by these turn of events. “I have to go check on something, Adrian. Stay here.”
“Where are you going?”
“Just stay here…I…I…uh…think I might know where she is. Just stay there.”
As Beckett got out of Adrian’s sight line, he pulled his rope chain out of his damp pocket and hung it around his neck. He closed his eyes and crouched down, clicking on the remote. After a few moments, he shot up and bolted toward the Boardwalk and water park area.
As if he walked through what seemed like a nebulous portal into another realm, Beckett had begun walking along The Shore – a 378,000 gallon wave pool, 23,000 square feet in size. After having come from an area of sound and noise and screams from roller coasters, the area near The Shore was silent – unnaturally silent and void of all people.
Except for one. Standing in five feet of water, with a seven-year old child floating face down in the water in front of him, was Val Smith in his black leather vest.
“I knew it wouldn’t take long for the super hero to arrive.”
“Is the child dead?”
“What does it matter, really? He only has 60 to 70 years if he’s lucky. Not even a hair on an ant’s ass.”
“I know. I know what you mean.”
“You know, Beckett, you made me laugh a little while ago with all that nonsense talk bout how you never experienced this or that before. How all of this is new to you.”
Beckett was stone faced and depressed. He had an idea what Val was getting to.
“None of this is new to you, Beckett. This is just another PU; a very flawed one, I should say. A deeply troubled PU. 125 thousand Menorians have already left. Moved on to, what is hoped, will be a better PU. And here you are: still clinging, still desiring, still failing your mission time and time again. If it’s not Natalia in that other Russia, if it’s not Xing in that other China, if it’s not Mary in that near identical PU, it’s Adrian. What to do?”
“It’s true. The data adds up to a horrible mess. I know. I can’t argue with you there.”
“I am not being unreasonable, Beckett. Contrary to what you think, I like you and I watch after you. You are failing another mission. You know the choices you have: the unthinkable, which is to stay here and forego all you mission privileges, not to mention your home; or move on to the next PU. Put this clinging behind you. It doesn’t work in the Earth world. It doesn’t work. People are dying everywhere because they cling to their opinions, or their land or their ice cream. It’s a joke. Your choice, Beckett. You’re on your own if you stay. Again: 125 thousand Menorians left. A-hundred-and-twenty-five-thousand, Beckett! Just think about that.”
Beckett nodded his head morosely.
“I’m going to do you a favor and back off. Take some time to think about it. It’s a big decision, but one you have been up against many, many times, Beckett.
Beckett let out a sigh and nodded his head again in affirmation.
“Beckett – the code phrase is ‘become ocean.’ It will all become ocean in time.”
Val crouched down into the water and was gone.
“Where did you go? I heard the ‘Amber Alert’ has been lifted.” Asked Adrian.
“Yeah, its been lifted. I saw them find the kid. He’s okay – he was in the pool back by the boardwalk. Hey, let’s go – all of this has given me a terrible headache.”
“Okay – sure. Let’s go. Maybe you need a massage.”
Back at the Spa, Beckett and Adrian were once again caked in chocolate mud – both lying down on a marble slab. Adrian was smiling as she reached across and intertwined her hand with Beckett’s. Her eyes were closed but she was chock full of warmth and happiness.
Beckett stared indifferently at the ceiling, finding no answer in Adrian’s touch.
As the sun splayed it’s warmth onto the closed curtains, Adrian stretched out a mighty yawn. Such a profoundly good sleep. The birth of a new, beautiful morning. She turned on her right side with a smile, opened her eyes and found that Beckett was not lying next to her. She raised her head and looked around the room. Everything seemed normal. Perhaps he had gone to get them breakfast.
After an hour, she had begun to worry. She threw some clothes on and looked around the palatial, marble lobby: looked out onto the deck, the pool area, the gym – nothing. Hurrying out to the parking lot, she had found their two-toned, Chevy parked and cold; hadn’t been running recently. She entered the car, sat behind the driver’s seat, started up the engine and began driving around the grounds looking for her blue eyed, handsome boy. He was nowhere to be found. It was hard driving that boat around the grounds with tears hanging from your eyes. As she pulled over and the realization hit her, the tears came in torrents.
Where is Beckett Stone?
Extended Stay America Hotel – Pittsburgh, West Mifflin
A small lamp lit the circular table where Beckett sat, rope chain around his neck, staring at a map of Ohio. On the hotel television was the evening news.
“A car fire caused a considerable delays on Route 148 this afternoon as a man crashed into the divider causing his car to explode in flames…”
Beckett narrowed his eyes to look at the TV. He stood up and walked over to it, getting down close. A car that looked eerily similar to the red car owned by the man in the black outfit at the rest station, was engulfed in flames.
“Local police and emergency personnel reported that no body was found at the scene or in the vehicle, leaving first responders puzzled as to how the vehicle might have crashed and burst into flames.”
Thinking of his own accident in the bus, Beckett smiled softly and sat back down at his table.
Where should he stay next?
Is it possible he can finish this mission clean – unlike all the failed attempts?
Alone and focused = check