The Sailing Stone VIII
Where is Beckett Stone?
Just south of 65 Front Street, near the intersection of Front and State Streets – Columbus, Ohio
Beckett sat calmly, hands on knees, back straight – in front of the largest gavel in the world. That’s right, a gavel – the largest gavel anywhere. You know what a gavel is? The mallet with which an auctioneer or judge hits a surface to call attention or order. The gavel, made of about 7,000 pounds of stainless steel, sat in a thin pool of water beside the austere Ohio Judicial Building. The area might be described as a bit boring, very governmental of course; but when you can look through the minds of humanity, nowhere you sat was boring.
When the courthouse area had become monotonous, Beckett hung a left on US40 and found himself leaning over a railing at the Walk O’ Wonders exhibit at The Great Western Shopping Center. The exhibit was spread across two rectangular park areas smack dab in the center of the parking lot. The Walk O’ Wonders displayed miniature replicas of the Seven Wonders of the World. While gazing upon the Taj Mahal, and as onlookers carrying Kroger’s shopping bags, some with wide-eyed children, passed by and took Polaroids of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Beckett heard a familiar voice behind him.
“Can you imagine these people find ‘wonder’ in these places?”
Beckett turned to find Val standing there, hands in pockets, looking as slovenly and burly as ever in a dusty, leather vest and bolo tie.
“Well…let’s be fair. These are miniatures. The real versions are much larger and grander.”
“Now, now, Beckett, do you really believe that?” Beckett shrugged his shoulders. “A mere speck of astral dust are these wonders.”
“Yeah…yeah…I know…I know…”
Val walked over and joined Beckett. Both were leaning on the rail watching the passersby gawk and take pictures in front of “The Wonders.”
“When are you leaving Beckett?”
“Well…I am heading West…”
“I honestly don’t know when I’ll be leaving.”
“Don’t know?” Beckett turned to look at Val – confused. “Are you kidding me? Don’t know? Really?”
“It’s time to abort the mission. On to the next Earth my friend.” Beckett sunk his head a bit as he noticed a man throwing trash to the ground. “I’d read your mind, Beckett, but we are not allowed to do that. And besides, I don’t think I’d like what I found there.”
“I know what you’re thinking.”
“Hopeless. Return to sender. I want a refund.”
“But the ability to love… the talent to love…”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“…is strong here.”
“It stinks. Period.”
“I have to respectfully disagree.”
“Actually, Beckett, you might have a point.”
“Yeah. Their love is so strong they even kill each other over that too! And they’ll kill themselves over love. All this lot knows is destruction and death. ThIS earth still rots of ego and delusion. And I am very disappointed. Believe me. Very disappointed.”
“I just feel their ability to love and help others is far stronger than on any other Earth we’ve visited.”
“Maybe …or maybe you’re getting turned.”
“It’s not that!”
“Okay…okay…” Val said with a smirk.
“It’s not that, Val. You can rest assured.”
“Okay, Beckett, I’d just hate to see such a talent as you turn. I saw that strumpet you were hanging around with. I’d hate to see you come undone via a ‘terminal.'”
“My allegiance to the cause is strong, Val. I am not wavering.”
“Okay, okay, pal, Desire fells some of the strongest.”
“No one wants to see an Earth, a humanity, at its greatest potential than me. No one. I dream of it. I actually dream of it.”
“That’s right, I dream of it. And the music. That piece of music I heard, back in that awful place you sent me. It was composed by a guy named Wagner. You have to admit the music here is lush and gorgeous and ethereal.”
“I’ll give you that…but returning to my theme…Wagner was beloved by a dictator who killed millions of people in a World War here several years ago. It all ties back to death and destruction. Everything.”
“But that is precisely why art is so exceptional here: the pain, the murder, the death, the joy, the suffering…”
“You be careful, Beckett. You should be very careful. If that is what you want, you can most certainly have it. You’re walking on dangerous ground here. Music – however gorgeous it is as you say, is not the mission. It’s love and selflessness. Not music. Music is attachment. Music is desire. Music is entertainment. Music has nothing to do with perfect love, perfect selflessness.”
“I suppose you are right.”
“Nothing to do with it. Now come one…where do you want to go? I have to leave soon, I’ll hang out with you a bit more, but I have to scram.”
“I don’t know. Where do you want to go?”
“Let’s go to an indoor mall. All of that suffering and bile – contained in a large edifice – an atrium… I love observing malls. Let’s go.”
Where is Beckett Stone?
9.5 miles east via I-70 – Eastland Mall – Columbus, Ohio
Beckett and Val sat on a bench just outside of Macy’s – watching shoppers going in and out.
“Ah, man, this is getting tiresome. Take these two: teenagers, both excellent high school students. The one with the cherubic face has had thoughts of cutting her step dad open with a chainsaw and feeding his remains to coyotes. Nothing at all necessarily wrong with that young lady. Good scores. A moral person all around yet wants to kill her step dad. The guy standing over there – in the orange – outside the AT&T store? He steals money from his company. This guy walking toward us right now masturbates three times a day at work, and the woman walking with the yellow handbag? She is cheating on her husband. The place is chockfull of morally corrupted people.”
“I am glad I don’t have that ability. Let’s do a fall test.”
“Okay, which one?”
“Has to be a woman…no one here cares if a guy falls down.”
“That woman. the woman with the pink blouse. She’s carry lots of bags.”
“Okay…let’s do it…”
In an instant the woman had an unfortunate face plant, sending her bags in the six directions. Three men and one woman rush to her aide.
“Okay…let’s see…” said Val. “The woman and the man in the goatee are average folks. They have stolen some stuff but are primarily upstanding …they lie like crazy but so does everyone here.”
“Okay – now, what about the other two fellows?” asked Beckett.
“The guy in the hoodie,” continued Val, “though very compassionate toward the woman, is chatting with known terrorist cells online. And the third guy is an alcoholic who has pretty much isolated himself from the rest of his family.”
“Sad. Very sad.”
“So there you have it,” said Val with a grin, “Four random people completely tainted and suffering. They were very helpful toward the fallen woman, but not at all helpful toward the health of the planet or its people.”
“I don’t know, Val. I choose to see this situation as four people helping a fallen woman.”
Val turned in his bench toward Beckett and leaned into his space: “You and I both know the numbers: 47 shoplifters are in the mall right now. 580 people in and around the mall have killed something…whether man or beast, out of sport, habit or malice. 64 kids right now in the mall have cheated on their school exams. 327 people have cheated on their taxes and 8 people in the mall right now are on the sex offenders list. And on, and on and on and on and on, Beckett.”
“So what are you going to do, Val?”
“Eighty-Sixin this place. It scares me. I ain’t getting as far as the desert. I am just thankful I was sent to this part of Earth – a relatively safe area. Now…you have a decision to make, Beckett. Don’t screw this up! If you want to see Earth in all its glory, and paradise perfection, you will move on like me and not look back.”
Beckett just nodded his head as Val backed off.
“Now I’m getting outta here, doesn’t mean you’re not being watched though. Got it?”
“I don’t doubt it.”
“Make the right decision! Don’t cling. Don’t get involved. Move on for goodness sake.”
“Okay…understood, Val. Understood.”
Losing hope = check.
Where is Beckett Stone?
Courtyard Columbus, 35 West Spring Street, Columbus, Ohio
Beckett was wearing sky blue satin pajamas and leather slippers. He sat in front of a lap top computer, Vintage Cherry seltzer at his side. TV news was on to his left. A murder-suicide. Father killed his wife and children then took his own life with a sawed-off. A bomb blast from a bus kills over fifty at the Gaza Strip. A man swindles thousands in a pyramid scheme. Oh, there is a pinch of honest to good generosity and love in the news, but it’s small. A majority of the news involves entitled celebrities, finger pointing, vitriolic politicians and death.
Beckett’s twitter handle was @thefoolishstone. He never made a comment, just observed. He enjoyed taking the temperature of the world – what was popular, who was trending. He was dismayed at the sex, the hate talk, the non-essential and the delusion he found on the internet. What most confused him was how people became “friends” – yet had never met and didn’t really know one another.
Where is Beckett Stone?
Columbus Park of Roses – Columbus, Ohio
Beckett was becoming morose at the world situation, and on the advice of the concierge, took a short trip out to the thirteen acres of sprawling beauty that was the Park of Roses. Beckett dropped his bum on a teak bench and had become enveloped by the colorful annuals scattered throughout the park. He just had a need to take in the fresh scent of nature – untainted by ego and delusion. He tried not to hold onto anything. He just wanted to sit and enjoy the present moment experience of his life as a human.
It was only when he walked over to the formal rose garden, and climbed atop the iron observation tower at the north end that he became seduced by the suffering of a troubled human: a young man minding his own business, seemingly taking in the splendor of the roses as anyone else at the overlook tower. He wore a three-piece suit and had wavy, brown hair and a mustache. Beckett had noticed how tightly he was holding onto the rails, looking out at the lush beds of roses before him, yet not seeing them at all. The man stiffened a bit as Beckett walked up right beside him at the rail.
“I am sorry, sir, but you can’t go on thinking that way.”
The man in the three-piece suit turned to Beckett – confused: “Excuse me? Sorry?”
“You can’t look for reasons to murder your boyfriend. Please don’t harm anyone. If this place is to have a chance, we have to stop the killing.”
“What the fuck?? Who? Are you a fucking nut?”
“You are afraid that you jilted boyfriend will expose you and your wife and church will cut you out. But murder is not the answer.”
“Holy shit are you fucking nuts. Boyfriend! You think I’m a faggot or something? Huh?”
“You carry a photograph of him in your wallet, between your Diner’s Club card and your Platinum American Express card. Is that not so?”
The man in the three-piece suit’s eyes widen with fear as he slowly backed away from Beckett. “How do you know that? It’s not true. That’s not true. Holy fuck, how do you know…but it’s not true. I am going to fucking beat you down unless I get away from you. Stay away from me.” The man hurried down the metal staircase. Beckett followed and had begun punching that clicker of his in his pants pocket.
“You haven’t done anything wrong yet, Philip. Nothing at all. Please reconsider. Murder is not the answer.” Many onlookers were watching as Philip had begun to sprint out of the park, Beckett falling behind and ultimately stopping.
Beckett had suddenly felt peculiar, a presence if you will, as he walked back to the observation tower and climbed up the steps two at a time. When he looked out over the bed of roses, the flowers had spelled out: “Do Not Get Involved.”
Where is Beckett Stone?
15.7 miles east of the Park of Roses. The Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio
The Easton Town Center was both and indoor and outdoor mall of high end shopping and dining. The complex of stores was lain out in a grid pattern much like a typical 20th century, American neighborhood – with fountains and curbside parking.
Beckett had existed from the Eastern Station Building via the Bed, Bath and Beyond store, carry a cute little shopping bag of oils, creams and toiletries he had remembered he liked.
Beckett next found himself watching the upper middle class shoppers milling about, seated at a glorious fountain. Unbeknownst to several couples shopping in the area and seated about the fountain eating their lunch, Beckett lit them up in a fine, soft, nebulous green glow. These were the couples Beckett knew shared selfless – in the now – love. A faint smirk appeared on Beckett’s face as he gazed upon and followed the young and older couples in the bloom of love. The selflessness of the lovers as he followed the duos in and out of stores, was refreshing. They hadn’t been tainted by ego or separated each other by their own preferences yet. Their window was small and Beckett enjoyed gazing through it while the love was still fresh and naive and innocent. There were no conditions on the love of these few couples – yet; but that would soon change. The radiance would vanish like his hope for this Earth.
After a full day of the insecure security guard who was miserable, and the chore heavy wife who felt underappreciated, and the child who threw a fit because he was denied for the first time in his life, and the senior couple who feared dying before the other, and the sandy colored haired handsome waiter at California Pizza Kitchen who snorted coke in the bathroom, and the teenagers who were firing a loaded gun with their texts – putting bullet holes in a bullied girl bent on offing herself, and the indecisive husband who was disrespected by his children, and the young boy who came out to his parents but was unsure how to come out to his school, and the dentist shopping at Nordstrom who was cheating on his wife with a patient, and the priest who had lost faith in his religion just as his congregation had lost faith in him, and the scores of men all over the mall repressing desire to rape (at worst) or fondle (at the least) the women that strolled by them. And mind you, these and others were doing nothing of immoral consequence. In fact, a good number of them were doing selfless activities like buying lunch for a friend or clothes for church clothes drive. Yet everyone suffered from an immoral, ego driven, internal bleeding. A spiritual hemorrhaging that drove them to eat more than their bodies needed and buy more clothes then they could afford, let alone fit into.
Yet Beckett followed a young man, perusing and pillaging store after store. Shoplifting with scary confidence. And when the young man felt the presence of Beckett following him he stopped, turned around and confronted Beckett, who had begun clicking rapidly on his remote.
“You got a fucking problem?”
“Every time. Every time I come back…here…I always hold such high expectations. And every time I come back, I am sorely disappointed.”
“Fuck you, man!”
Despair = check
Hopeless = check
Back at the Courtyard Columbus lobby, the concierge had called Beckett over.
“Mr. Valentine, your car has arrived. It’s out front.”
Sure enough, a black town car and driver had arrived and were waiting in front of the hotel.
One night, earlier in the week, while sitting in the hotel bar, an ol’ lady had told Beckett that when she got lonely, she liked to take a cab to the arrivals terminal at the airport and watch all the happy people hug one another. Beckett had thought that sounded like a sound idea.
Where is Beckett Stone?
7.2 Miles East of Courtyard Columbus – The Port Columbus International Airport, Columbus, Ohio
The ol’ lady was right. It was rather pleasant sitting inside the arrivals terminal. He didn’t feel like taking mental notes of people. He just wanted to feel their emotion. Get a sense from their actions what these people waiting and arriving were all about. And after a rather emotional and lovely scene of a marine retuning home, greeted by a cadre of family, something rather strange happened.
A young man, hair parted down the middle, handsome, wearing a yellow sports jersey with the number “1 1/2” written on it and black shorts, jogged down the corridor that had run parallel to the arrivals sidewalk. The young man was in a hurry and ran toward the far exit doors. Getting the attention of onlookers, he slowed down in front of the revolving doors – then once out in the cool air, he had begun running real hard. Curious, Beckett walked out of arrivals and started walking quickly toward the direction the young man was running too – which was the vast parking lot. Beckett had started to jog lightly, seeing the head of the young man bob between cars in the distance, but then he slowed down to a walk and stopped altogether when the young man ran out of Beckett’s range of human sight.
Back at the hotel, wearing a robe, and after having exfoliated his skin with a hydro towel, Beckett grabbed a hold of an ice cold bottle of Vintage Cherry Seltzer and turned on the news. Other than observing Earthlings in the flesh and blood present, Beckett loved watching the major news networks. He also found it to be a bit of a game, noticing some of his own observers – on TV – across the world.
About fifteen minutes into relaxation, with his slippered feet up on the desk chair, a “Breaking News” item was reported. The anchor was your typical looking Clark Kent crossed with soap star, waxed over by Madame Tussauds-type.
“Breaking news out of Port Columbus airport, a young, married man has gone missing and we need your help in finding him. We know his name. It’s Chauncey Lardner. As you can see from this CCTV footage, he was caught on camera running out of arrivals and into the parking lot Monday morning. From this overhead surveillance camera footage, you can clearly see Chauncey hop a fence and head toward the International Gateway, heading in the direction of I-670, where he was never seen again. Friends are lost for words, and his wife, Claudia, is frantic tonight.” The news show’s Chauncey’s young, attractive wife – eyes swollen from falling tears, as tape recorders are pressed toward her face and mouth.
“I don’t know what to do, Chauncey. You have to come home. We can talk. We can get through this. I have no clue as to why he would just disappear. It’s been two and a half days and you are gone. We were just married, he has a new job he absolutely loves, we were going to have a family together with a big house and a dog and…I haven’t stopped crying. My heart is broken.”
The anchor’s voice returned: “A neighbor of Chauncey and Claudia’s, Mark of Grove City, where the couple lived, had a very different take on why he might have disappeared: “Well…he was a depressed type of guy, hated to watch the news, made him physically ill, was thoroughly depressed by the violence in the world. The mass shootings. If you ask me, his disappearance makes perfect sense.”
The Clark Kent anchor had returned to the screen: “What is puzzling his family and authorities is why? If Mr. Lardner had planned to fly to Boston on business, why was he running away from Arrivals? And who is this man, captured as well on the CCTV footage, and why did he start to follow Chauncey?” The image zooms into Beckett standing outside arrivals looking after Chauncey. “Is this man responsible for Chauncey’s disappearance? Is he just an onlooker. If you have any information of Chauncey Lardner, his disappearance, or who the second man in the security footage is, please dial 1-800-Crime77.”
There was no expression on Beckett’s face as he changed the channel – flipping, flipping, flipping, looking for the news story to appear again – on another news network. After ten minutes, Beckett happened upon the Chauncey news story again – the piece was in the middle of the interview with Mark, the neighbor. It was then that Beckett slid off his seat and crouched down right in front of the TV. With his right hand, Beckett swept from right to left, across the TV – slowly, deliberately. When the CCTV footage appeared on the news coverage, Beckett was no longer found. He was completely wiped from the footage. From history. In fact no mention was made of his appearance in the parking lot, or his possible involvement. Beckett returned to his seat and changed the channel again, finding the same news item a few channels up. When the CCTV footage of Chauncey running away was shown, again – no Beckett found anywhere.
After having showered and shaved, it was time for sleep. Beckett shut the TV off and climbed into bed, covering himself over with the nice, cool comforter. As he laid on his side, he stared out the window, at the skyline of downtown Columbus.
“Why did Chauncey run away? Why did Chauncey run away?” After a few minutes pondering the young man’s fate… “Play 80s music please,” said Beckett aloud to the room. The slowly rising, spiritual keyboards and rhythmic strumming of The Edge had begun as “The Streets Have No Name” filled the hotel room