The Sailing Stone IX
Where is Beckett Stone?
The Hyatt Regency Hotel, 401 W. High Street, downtown Lexington, Kentucky
Though he was looking down at Triangle Park from his luxurious hotel suite, he was actually on the level with the revelers and lunch time eaters. He felt a tinge of sympathy for those stuffing their faces with lunch even though they weren’t hungry; or the assistant director who would tell her boss she had to leave early because of a dental appointment, even though, in truth, she just wanted to catch up on some rest. Therein lays the defect of humans everywhere: the little lies, the ego stroking, the desire for food when one wasn’t hungry – all the fiction humans told themselves every day. Instead of looking down on them, Beckett felt he understood them.
Were they heroes? Having to fight those incessant ego voices all day? Or were they just automatons doomed to a fate of desire and suffering; of not getting out of their own selfish ways?
The fact that Beckett was even entertaining the idea made him cold. The divided mind. The separation. No earth had had such a gravitational pull on his desires like this one. The struggle. This decision. This troubled sphere and the one before this one and the one before that and the ones still yet to come.
Beckett, dressed in corduroy pants and a cashmere, V neck sweater, removed the rope chain and stone from around his neck, staring out at Downtown Lexington below. He placed the chain in his dresser drawer, lying amongst the underwear.
There would be no going back. He knew that.
If he were honest with himself, he’d have to agree with Val: this world was a cesspool of ignorance and delusion. He felt that conclusion was indeed true, but he struggled with it just the same. Should he continue to travel from station to station without an end in sight, or get off at this post? Right here. Right now.
Actually, right now Beckett was hungry. Genuinely hungry. He found that usually happened pretty quickly. Desire always seemed to pull him towards food as soon as the rope chain was dropped in the drawer.
Beckett found himself right next door – at The Lexington Center – Arby’s – eating a King Hawaiian Fish deluxe sandwich, fries and a mint chocolate swirl shake. He was indeed one of the people. One of the desirous, gluttonous folk of the fast food culture. He felt a burp come on and he proudly let it out, turning the heads of a few.
Grabbing a cherry turnover on the way out, simply because it looked delicious and was cherry flavored, Beckett followed the sounds of up-tempo music at Triangle Park, where a crowd had gathered around a dance troupe – moving rapidly to a rumba. How happy the onlookers were as they smiled and whistled and clapped at the smiling dancers, to the beat of congas and bongos and drums; the call of saxophone and cornet. Beckett couldn’t help but smile. He knew what dancing was. Had seen plenty of it around and on television, but he had never felt the revelry so strong within his heart. The beat echoed through his body cavity as he leaned across to a spectator:
“May I ask what is going on?”
The spectator was clapping: “Oh, sure…it’s a group of dancers in competition at the convention center. There is some type of International Dance competition occurring over there.”
“Ah, I see. Thank you.”
“I am feeling such a surge of excitement watching these performers.”
“Yeah, they’re terrific, aren’t they?”
“Yes! They are marvelous!” Beckett had to shout over the music.
The dance, this or any other, was certainly a metaphor for human life. Beckett had come to this conclusion many times previously. The fluidness and athleticism of the body; the love pouring forth from the entertainers eyes – was a marvel to Beckett.
And it would only be minutes after the epiphany of the life force of the dance that Beckett found himself kneeling at his hotel toilet bowl, hunched over, index finger at the precipice of the back of the throat. The Arby’s food wanted to come up and the war was raging. Beckett’s left hand clutched the rope chain, stone dangling at the end of it. A force so great was pressing on his chest and human brain. Don’t do it. Don’t throw up. Keep it down, down, down. Experience the right here and now. Dance. Love. Be joyfully nauseas in the present moment experience of this human life form.
And you see her, Beckett, you see her suffering like you do all humans at all times. She is crying out to her sister who is trapped inside. Help her. Help her. She needs you. The heat and smoke is disorienting her. She is screaming and it’s too hot for anyone to save her. The sister hollers as the flames climb up the curtains and wallpaper. Soon she will be buried in the embers. Get involved. Get involved. Don’t just sit there. Get involved, damn it! Go, go right now! Put the rope chain in your pocket and get there. She’ll be as good as dead before long. She is in a fetal position by the bathroom and her sister shrieks at the horror. Get involved before it’s too late.
Beckett looked away from the bowl toward the front door of his hotel suite. His eyes were intent – passion fueled, perspired. He took a swig of Vintage Cherry Seltzer and hurried
out of the room.
On the West End of “Lew-a-vul,” Kentucky – on Market Street – a two story house was on fire. A young woman’s screams pierced the air with the sounds of the ring of the fire trucks. The young woman was collapsing into the arms of her father and brother – two robust men, looking over their shoulders – staring at the smoldering, final resting place of their family member.
“We got one still left in there!” yelled one firefighter to another, as three fire departments battled the blaze from all sides
Beckett, unmoved and peaceful, stood in the center of the bedroom, surrounded by walls of crackling fire. A teen lay unconscious, in a fetal position, by the bathroom door. A force field of light, a foot wide, emanated from the crown of Beckett’s head and worked its way down his right shoulder, down his arm and the side of his leg, and up and around back up the left leg, arm and shoulder back to the crown at the top. Nebulous light crystals swirled throughout the room, with Beckett unshaken and following the crystals with just the movement of his eyes. The crystals froze the encroaching fire in place. Flames as ice sculptures. A chill embodied the room as Beckett walked over to the teen and crouched beside her – moving his left hand horizontally across her body.
Outside the hysterical sibling, the father, the brother and the fire fighters stared in astonishment as the teen walked toward the broken out window of the bedroom. It was almost as if she were sleepwalking. The fire ceased to be ranging in the bedroom; however, that was not true of the rest of the house. So time was still of the essence.
Tears of joy erupted as the woman’s family members called attention to her presence at the window – pointing, hollering, crying, jumping up and down in place, praising the lord, as the firefighters rushed up the ladders to save her.
Got involved = check
Beckett’s fingers throbbed with ache; his legs like rubber bands, and his bones tingled with icy pain. Even his scalp and the base of his hair follicles felt like knives in his head. His torso rattled cold like a semi on I29 in Fargo during winter; his eyeballs pained with strain so he kept his dimmers shut. If this was the onset of human death, he did not care for it.
Beckett was lying under the covers of his hotel room, shivering, watching the local evening news; but not really. A small news item concerning the ongoing investigation of the disappearance of Chauncey Lardner was squeezed in before sports, but Beckett wasn’t interested in Chauncey right now. Just this unbearable human sickness.
A knock; then another. One more time, louder. Beckett thought he was dreaming. The knock had become more demonstrative. It had become a monumental task to get out of bed, but Beckett swung his legs off and shuffled over to his hotel room door. Not even bothering or caring to look through the keyhole, he swung the door open.
Adrian stood before him – smiling – wearing a leather jacket and an Aladdin Sane tee-shirt. Her smile quickly turned to concern noticing how ashen and sickly Beckett appeared. Beckett took a few steps forward and just leaned into Adrian’s hug.
“You got involved…”
It was then Beckett knew Adrian was one of his own kind.
Adrian opened up Beckett’s dresser drawer as he climbed back into bed, and as if she knew it was there all along, she pulled out the rope chain and tossed it on the bed.
“Don’t be a hero, put that on.”
“Not right now. They are probably decommissioning me to ‘turned’ status.”
“Doubt it. This is your first offense, right?”
“Well, I have been known to partake in the desires and pleasures of the Earthly paradise on occasion.”
“I need to call downstairs.”
“I couldn’t read your mind. That should have been a tip off. I had no idea you were one of us. I’m losing it, losing it…”
Adrian dialed downstairs. “Beckett, what name do you go under here at this hotel?”
“Seldon, Harry Seldon.”
“Yes…hello…this is Mr. Seldon’s suite. I need a thermometer please, as soon as you can. Some extra towels and sheets and bedding in general would be nice too. What? No…no…that is kind of you…no…that’s not necessary.”
Adrian was patting down Beckett’s brow with a damp, cool cloth.
“I am sorry I left you,” Beckett said.
“I get it. I do. You were being pressured to keep the mission. To not get involved. It hurt. But I knew. I knew who you were.”
“That trick you pulled in the record store. Wagner…”
“Please put this under your tongue,” Adrian said as she placed the thermometer in Beckett’s mouth. “104.2. You realize people get put in the hospital if they are 105?”
“How did you find me?”
“I may be turned and blackballed, but my tank ain’t emptied just yet. Put the stone around your neck. You’ll start to feel better, please.”
“I’m not sure i want to put the stone back on.”
“Okay…okay…okay…if that’s what you want. But I just think you need to get some strength back, okay, because we should do more, ya know, hang out and have fun and whatnot, ya know.?
“I am tired of not feeling free. I am constrained by the mission. I don’t do good things. I don’t do bad things. I never do anything spontaneous.”
“You know how big a decision this is, Beckett?”
“You will get sick, you will experience joy and sadness and you will die. Maybe you’ll even…fall..in love.
“I just don’t want to keep looking for perfection and not finding it. Just frustrated with the superiors and one imperfect Earth after another. I can’t remember all my visits, the missions, you know…but the stress, and the information, weighs on me just the same. I just feel it’s time to get off. I just…I don’t know…”
“You have to be sure, Beckett. You have to be sure. there is no going back. There is lots and lots of frustration and disappointment and disillusionment and hatred and even violence here. And changes, lots of changes. And you have to accept all of that, and that’s the hard part.”
Beckett sat up in bed and put Adrian’s hands into his own. “And there is you. You are here. And you, or someone like you, has been in every earth I have visited.”
“But here you won’t have me forever and I won’t have you forever.” Beckett contemplated that for a moment. “But that’s the tragic beauty of being human. We can grow to accept the good and the bad. Just as it is. Acceptance and love – here – is as perfect as anywhere in the cosmos.”
“I hope so. I have some doubt sometimes.”
“Let’s get you better first…okay?”
Adrian gently took the rope chain in her hand and placed it around Beckett’s head, leaned in and kissed him gently on the mouth. “Give me your fever,” she smiled, “suffering is what it’s all about here.” Adrian lifted the covers and crawled underneath – where both she and Beckett rested their heads against one another. “You won’t be alone, you know. I am still a beginner here. We are both perfect and absolute beginners.”
“That is comforting, Adrian, because it seems scary…a little.”
“It is and it will be. But we have each other. We are both unique. We both know what it takes.”
“I suppose I should just rest here till the stone kicks in.”
“Yes, I would just relax, dear. Maybe we can go to a midnight movie or something tomorrow.” Adrian shot up off the bed, “I have always wanted to do that with a boyfriend.”
Beckett turned on his side as Adrian had hardly had a moment to take her coat off and fix herself a drink. Beckett clutched his stone. “Are you positive you made the right choice, Adrian, in turning?”
“Who wants to suffer?”
“I don’t want to suffer, Beckett, I want the experience of being alive as a human. All the good and bad that comes with it.” Beckett didn’t say anything. “And besides, I found you – and that was worth the turn.”
Where is Beckett Stone?
Kentucky Theater, 214 East Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky
Beckett and Adrian took in the double-feature at the ol’ Kentucky Theater: Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights” and “Modern Times.” As they settled back into their seats, smack dab in the center of the theater like proper lovebirds, Beckett had a surprise:
“Awwww…thank you, Beckett!”
“Local chocolates – supposed to be the finest in the state.”
“Old Kentucky Chocolates. I love it! Thank you, Beckett.” Adrian hugged him around tightly and kissed him. “Let’s both pick one at random and see what we get. You go first!”
And like any ol’ double-feature, the theatergoers got to take in an animated short: A Short Love Story, in stop motion, by Carlos Lascana. The theater quieted down as Adrian and Beckett held hands in the dark. The animated film began with a girl in a classroom, staring out the window, at a boy she fancies in the classroom and the picture she was drawing of the perfect house – a house she most likely was not living in. Her daydream took her soaring into the future, chock-full of a house, great memories and a baby boy. Adrian was in instant tears as she squeezed Beckett’s hand. The beautiful little film ended with the little girl, a senior citizen now, standing with her long standing husband, both staring at a picture of their son with a love of his own.
Although the sentimentality of the idea touched Beckett, it was the idea of he and Adrian being old together, feeble, lacking strength and power, that sent a chill to his bone.
Adrian snugged up closer to Beckett. She grabbed him around the arm looking up at his handsome face. She felt like the luckiest turn in the cosmos. Beckett looked back down at her in the dark glow of the screen and returned to Adrian the smile she longed for.