The Sailing Stone X
Where is Beckett Stone?
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 1301 Wyandette Street, Kansas City, Mo.
“I just want to kiss you at every fountain, eat you up and listen to every classic, British pop album,” exclaimed Adrian – setting the tone for the birth of their love in downtown Kansas City, Missouri: otherwise known as the “city of fountains.”
“That sounds delightful!” said Beckett as he embraced Adrian at the center of their plush, penthouse suite. She and Beckett were both wearing pajamas.
“And we are going to stay in our pajamas until they drop off of us.”
“Even better, Adrian!”
Duran Duran’s “Save A Prayer” was playing from somewhere in the room, their noses touched and they slow danced: Adrian with her arms draped over Beckett’s shoulders, and Beckett’s hands on her hips.
“Nothing will drive us away or apart,” said Adrian as she moved her lips upwards toward his – lightly touching, teasing.
“This room…this moment…is ours forever and ever,” Beckett replied.
“Yes,” Adrian said, in barely an audible whisper.
Beckett and Adrian were undressed and in their underwear, sitting cross-legged on the queen size bed, sheets and covers ruffled, empty dinner plates and cups scattered across the bed; both of them were wearing headphones and had their heads buried in their own Mac Air Books. They spoke to one another loudly – over the music playing in their ears:
“You will weep tears of joy, and you will want to kiss me uncontrollably after you listen to my playlist I created for you,” Beckett said as Adrian leaned over to Beckett and planted him a kiss on the mouth.
“I can’t wait to hear it, my love. I am almost finished with my playlist,” she replied.
“I have a profound idea,” said Beckett. Adrian looked up and smiled so sweetly. “Why don’t we order those chocolate brownie sundaes. By the time they make it up here – we’ll be ready to swap our Macs and playlists.”
“Okay. Yeah…yeah…those sundaes looked like the bomb.”
“They looked scrumptious!”
“Shall I call the order in or…”
“I’ll call downstairs…” Adrian said as she gave Beckett another smooch before bouncing off the bed.
Even though Beckett was wearing only his underwear, he still felt better wearing the rope chain. Now that he seemed to be moving more away from the philosophy of the mission and his elders, he felt more prone to throw the chain on. He’d have to let go of his dependency to home, to the chain, if he were to ever have a shot with Adrian on this Earth.
“Stop! Wait!” Adrian exclaimed as Beckett was halfway on his way to placing the second to last spoonful of the chocolate brownie sundae in his mouth. “I mean …you can eat …go ahead …what I mean is …okay…wait …I have an idea…” Adrian smiled, which triggered a smile on Beckett’s face as well. INXS “The One Thing” was playing on one of the Mac’s.
“What? What is it?”
“Tomorrow…you and I are going to buy the two best sandwiches in town – okay? Then – THEN – we are going to meet at a fountain and kiss and eat and kiss some more – and share our half of sandwiches…then see a classic movie at the theatre – okay?”
“I love submarine sandwiches…”
“I think I love them…I have had a sandwich at Subway back in Manhattan. I love you and water and fountains…so this should make for a great time!”
“It will be the best time!”
“We’ll be separated?” Beckett said. “I don’t really feel like being without you.” Adrian pulled Beckett toward him by his rope chain and gave him a long kiss.
“This will be fun.”
“Which fountain shall we eat and kiss at, Adrian?”
“Who knows, we’ll decide tomorrow.” Adrian started kissing Beckett again. “It’s time to take this relationship to another level – don’t you think?”
A knock pounded the door. The cleaning service. They wanted to turn the room over. Adrian put her cheek against the door: “I respectfully ask that you buzz off for now. There will be no sheet changing or anything during our love-in. We wish for the room to smell like food and bodily fluids,” Adrian looked away – toward Beckett – and giggled. There was no answer on the other side of the door, though Adrian could hear the cleaning lady roll her cart away.
It felt good – it actually felt really good – to press his body against Adrian’s – in the darkness of the room. Atlantic Star “Always” played on something in the background. Always – as the saying went – is a long time. Beckett and Adrian knew a thing or two about time – having traveled from one Earth to another, through countless parallel universes, looking for an Earth void of selfishness, greed, anger and delusion. They knew time well enough. Time here – on this Earth – was very different indeed. There was no “always” here. Time stopped here – on this Earth – for good. They would suffer and die, one before the other – most likely. He tried to understand Adrian’s side of it …that having lived and loved is worth the death that eventually would come. This idea made Beckett uncomfortable. Actually, it scared him shitless. Now that he was understanding all of this, now that he enjoyed feeling the beat of Adrian’s heart against his flesh, the idea was gutwrenchingly awful for any lovers to be separated by death. There had been these ideas and philosophies on other Earths, but the ideas of love and hate and anguish and happiness were most strong here. More strong than on any other earth he had visited.
Adrian shuffled a bit in bed as she had begun snoring. The snore was that of a soft, comforting rumble. Beckett was fully awake – staring up at the blank ceiling. This was a difficult decision. Soon enough he would be abandoned by the elders and dropped from the mission. Yet, was there any better music than her snore in the silence?
Adrian and Beckett stepped out into the fresh air, kissed, and set out on the “submarine” journey …of finding the best sandwich in Kansas City. Beckett hated being separated from her, and actually felt his eyes tear up from the tightness that was churning in his stomach. He had never experienced this love idea as strongly before.
Having found the d’Bronx restaurant, he ventured into a bookstore called Prospero’s. The store rather reminded him of the bookstore where he had met Adrian back in Philadelphia. Having found a book about “detachment” in the bargain bin section of the store, he sat down on the floor and had begun reading. Finding his time limited, Beckett got back off the floor and paid for the book. Hurrying across the street, he waited on line to order his submarine sandwich. He could not take the words of the Zen Master out of his head. The philosophy of the book spoke right to the heart of his mission on this Earth and the others. Detachment was what he had been trained in. Detachment was the name of his game.
After careful deliberation, Beckett ordered the “d’Bronx Special Sub” of turkey, ham, Swiss, and provolone. A squat woman with wide-set eyes, wearing a “d’Bronx” baseball cap underneath a hairnet, along with an all-white butcher’s coat, smiled at Beckett with creepy, almond shaped eyes and large pupils:
“I am going to make YOU, and ONLY you, a very special submarine sandwich,” the strange lady said with a cackle, as she split open a fat piece of Italian bread with a large knife. She stared after Beckett while she sliced the meat. Other patrons ordered from other workers but this deli lady was only interested in Beckett – both staring at one another as she compiled the sandwich.
Over at Potbellies, Adrian had cut the line, pissing a few people off. “You cut me…me…in line!” Yelled Adrian, knowing full well it was she being impatient and rude. She had one item in mind: “The Wreck” submarine sandwich. Her mouth watered as she grabbed a few bottles of Pepsi, as a cherubic woman wearing a butcher’s coat, sliced up the deli meat and laid the pieces across the large, Italian bread. The counter woman turned to Adrian and grinned:
“I am going to make YOU, and ONLY you, a very special submarine sandwich.” She had wide set eyes – almond shape. She cackled.
“I can’t wait to eat it! Going to savor it as if it were my last meal,” Adrian said, rubbing her hands together.
The sandwich lady smiled menacingly. “This is the first and last sandwich you’ll ever need”
“I hope so! The concierge back at the hotel suggested this place. I’ll give him a swift kick in the ass if it sucks, know what I mean?”
“Hey! Hey! Over here!” called Adrian at the site of Beckett looking all around for her at The Crowne Center Fountains. Beckett waved and smiled as they embraced tightly, Adrian nearly squashing Beckett’s sandwich and drinks.
“I missed you so much, Adrian. Two hours seemed like an eternity.”
“That sounds sweet, my sweet, but you are beginning to sound like a bad romance novel. Come! Let’s sit down at the fountains and exchange our sandwiches. I am friggin’ starved like a homeless person. Come on…sit…”
“I see you got drinks, same as I did.”
“That’s okay …the more the merrier,” said Adrian, as she tore open her sandwich and handed half to Beckett. Beckett gently opened his sandwich and placed his half down before her. “I am thirsty like a dog on a leash. Fuuuuuck. Gimme something to drink. Hahahaha…” Beckett poured a Pepsi into a tall plastic cup with ice. Adrian devoured the cold soft drink in one gulp. “Now…the sandwich.”
The lovers enjoyed their sandwiches, though Beckett didn’t quite love them as much as Adrian, who primarily moaned throughout the proceedings.
“This right here…” said Adrian as she cozied up to Beckett, wiping her mouth, “is what it’s all about when it’s good. When this life is great. Sitting by the water, sun out, next to someone you love, great food, nice, friendly people milling around…” Adrian sighed and rested her head on Beckett’s shoulder.
“Yes…but…but then there is the other side of it.”
“Yes, Beckett, yes. This is all so great precisely because of the really bad stuff. That’s the point.”
“But on our journeys from Earths to Earths, we don’t suffer the bad stuff, mostly. We avoid it; are impenetrable to it.”
“Yes. And it is my belief we are missing out.”
“Missing out on bad stuff?”
“Yes, but if there is a way to neither feel good or feel bad, why wouldn’t you choose that option.”
“Because to feel at the top levels – with your heart – is what it’s all about here on Earth. Feeling and experience. Experience the toppest-most top, and the grand, epic lows. To be spontaneous and deal with consequences later. My soul…yes…my soul, Beckett, has been craving this from Earth to Earth and I am glad I got off ship. It’s the true experience of being alive!”
“When you say ‘spontaneous,’ is this what you are getting at…” Beckett got up, walked into the fountains and lied down in the center of the splashing water, sprouting and falling all around him.
“Yes! Yes, Beckett! That is what I am talking about. Yes!” Adrian exclaimed, as she shot up from their bench and joined him in the fountains – lying on top of him, onlookers guffawing, gawking and pointing at them. They kissed under the skies and the waters of downtown Kansas City.
“I love you, Adrian. I am beginning to understand. I am beginning to really feel what you are getting at. I love this. I love all of it; and I love you.” Then Beckett let out a humungous soda belch – sending both of them into hysterics.
Beckett and Adrian were seated nice and cozy – shoulder to shoulder – taking in a midnight screening of Somewhere In Time for a series called “Midnight Is For Lovers at the Movie Palace.” But something was wrong, for Adrian was no longer seeing the movie. Her attention was elsewhere. She had become pale and slumped over slowly in her seat – rubbing her belly. She gave a sideways glance to Beckett: “Beckett…”
Beckett had begun rubbing her back, yet when he caught the look in her eye, he grew concerned. “Adrian?”
Instantly …Adrian threw down an explosion of vomit, splatting the already sticky floor. Beckett froze for a moment as other patrons could be heard moaning, gasping and muttering in their seats. Adrian coughed; as she coughed, she hurled more of her stomach’s contents onto the seat in front of her.
“Come on…let’s get you to the bathroom…” Adrian hadn’t made it out of the aisle before she hurled some more molten bodily fluids.
Adrian slowly shuffled out of the ladies room looking pale, disoriented and confused. Beckett was clicking away at that clicker of his…sending out an extraterrestrial APB…if you will, as Adrian moved forward – staring through Beckett:
“They don’t want us together. The lady at the sandwich shop – with the eyes…they don’t want us together…” Adrian slumped into Beckett’s arms – passed out. Beckett picked her up and started hurrying her out of the movie theatre. Looking for a cab, which he had assumed would arrive for him, was curiously nowhere to be found. So he started walking in the direction of the hotel.
Twenty minutes later – exhausted – arms stretched out in pain, Beckett arrived back at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. An attendant, realizing she and Beckett were the high spenders staying there, immediately moved in to help Beckett get her to their suite.
“Do you need me to call an ambulance?” The bellhop asked, as they placed her in a wheel chair.
“No, no, no thank you, she is quite alright. Had too much to drink, that’s all.” Beckett was afraid taking her to the hospital might turn up some inconsistencies that would be alarming to a doctor – might draw the wrong kind of attention. Maybe she had been to a doctor since she had decided to jump ship, but he wasn’t sure, and didn’t want to take any chances.
Beckett had the rope chain around his neck as he held Adrian’s hand. She had been asleep for a while and felt warm, but he could not get an accurate reading through his own experience. He would need a common thermometer. He put the television on to one of those stations that played music all day. He chose an 80s alternative station. Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was halfway finished. He looked around the room, and somehow he felt very alone in the universe. Even though he was right beside someone who loved him, he felt uniquely alone. Not only that, but his stomach was a bit queasy – as if he might throw down as well. It was all making sense to him. The same woman with the almond eyes had made both of their sandwiches at the same time. Had sickened them both. However, Beckett was sure his stomach still had a bit of the power left in it to weaken some of the poison – he was sure of that. Though it scared him that he was even sick at all! The clicker didn’t seem to be working, nor the stone around his neck. At the very least, they were both weakening. It was a sign. The Elders were on to Beckett; and this time…in vacating this Earth, they were serious.
Love Spirals Downwards’ “By Your Side” was playing in the room as Adrian woke up. Beckett was massaging her right leg – rubbing it. “You’re up! Oh, good…you’re up…” Beckett moved in and got underneath the covers and kissed Adrian on the cheek. “How do you feel?”
“Better …better knowing that when I wake up, you are here…taking care of me.”
“Of course, my love. You took care of me – right? Isn’t that what couples do when they love one another – take care of each other?”
“Uh huh…” Adrian said with a smile as she cozied up to Beckett and kissed him on the mouth. “That fat bitch tried to kill me, I swear. I swear …that cunt tried to destroy us. They will have to try harder, Beckett. No one will tear us apart. We are stronger than them. Let them get the fuck out of here and leave us alone.”
Beckett looked away …doubtful.
“What’s the matter, Beckett?”
“Do you think we’ll make it? do you think I can make it without the power?”
“Of course you can. Of course we can! Yes! Fucking yes we can. We can make it absolutely. I have been thriving so far.” Beckett looked in her eyes and nodded his head in agreement. “As long as we have each other, as long as we are strong through both the good and the bad, we will make it. I am sure of it.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s not get too excited. You are still recovering and you still need to rest. Let me get you some room temperature cola …that should settle your stomach. At least that’s what I read.” Beckett walked over to the kitchen area and opened a new bottle of room temperature Pepsi.
“Love you, Beckett …and thank you.”
“Of course, my dear.”
Adrian turned back over on her side…thinking. “We will have to be more careful. There is always a faction of our kind that hates those that jump ship. We will have to be ultra careful because our bodies are vulnerable to suffering. You will find out soon enough. But we’ll be fine, Beckett. Absolutely fine. Trust me.”
Beckett had poured the Pepsi, but he stood there – in the kitchen, staring at the stone at the end of the rope chain. He had been through light years of experience with it; and now, the power and energy was draining from it. His companion and life saver was expiring. As a new love emerged, one was dying, and this made him sad. Sad and remorseful.
Then there was Chauncey Lardner. Chauncey Lardner running in the airport. Why? Why did he run away and disappear? Where did that Chauncey run off to?