Chapter 72: …and they rode into sunlight

Chianna’s words to Elliott were direct, but for the first time in longer than he could remember, there was tenderness and kindness in her tone and her eyes that spoke volumes.

“Look…Honey…you must let me go. Do not wait for me to come back to you as your wife. Eventually, as my anger and resentments fade, I may be able to express the love that you have suffocated during our time together.”

“Think of it as a fire that has burned all night, with only the faintest embers remaining. A morning rain may wash it all away, until only cold ashes remain, or perhaps a soft breeze may blow a few dry leaves, and maybe even a branch of two, so that it may smolder again for a time, beyond that, no one can say , but what we once knew was gone, and without replenishment, it will die.”

“Jedidiah has ignited a fire in me, both in my loins, and in my heart. It was not something either of us could have anticipated, and it is perhaps better that we hadn’t. Who could have had the strength to dny our destinies, past and present?”

“Remember how you felt when you first heard Amy’s voice on the radio when she called you ‘Boss’ on the radio? How it made you feel? I was thankful that you had the courage to tell me, but I can’t deny that it pinched a little. You guys all had something very special happening back then, and yet none of you seemed to really realize, let alone understand how extraordinary it all was because it was natural to you at the time, even if he rest of the world still hasn’t really caught up with you yet, but ironically it was you who also ruined it, because nothing was ever good enough for you until you lost everything. In a way, you did the same thing to us.”

“I can’t deny my own part in that, and maybe there’s some kind of biological rhythm that makes the ‘seven year itch’ seem like a mosquito bite once you’ve been together for too long. Women are just as prone as men are to it, and maybe it has something to do with bio-diversity of the species, but there seems to be no cure for it.”

“ I have felt how you’ve carried a torch for her ever since you drove her away, and I can’t claim to have been understanding about it in the least until now. It says so much about her courage to face the pain of remembering…the nostalgia of what you both once knew and felt..to understand how she could overcome all of that, not for Romance, but because she knew that the time had come to face it, even if it wasn’t something she would have chosen for herself.”

“I’ve developed a great deal of respect and admiration for her in the process, and I understand why you still love her, even if she doesn’t feel the same way anymore. I can’t pretend to speak for her, but unfortunately, I wouldn’t bet the farm on your chances of redeeming yourself with her, and there’s nobody to blame for that but you.”

“I’ve never met a man so given to distractions in my life, but then again, it may prove to be all of our saving grace. You may not be a master of much of anything except self-sabotage, but you are definitely a ‘Jack of all trades’ as well as a true craftsman of everything that you touch.”

“I mention that because you don’t really function all that well in solitude either. There are already two recent widows in The Colony, and I’m sure that you are more than capable of consoling one, or more likely both of them… but after I leave, maybe you can lick each other’s wounds together…sorry, that was a bit inappropriate, but it’s just too fuckin’ funny to pass up; but with no distractions, and minimal drama, you could do or be anything that you wanted.”

“Of course, there’s no telling…maybe we would have had a better chance if I had thought up some slick nick-name for you, but considering that “Boss’ and ‘Doc’ were already taken…what’s left?”

“Wait! That’s it! I already said it! From now on, to me you will always be ‘Slick…it even suits you, come to think of it.”

“Tsk…Awww! Think about it Darlin’ “Slick’ will be my new nickname for yu and you only.”

Elliott smiled a faint smile and nodded slightly before flashing a radiant grin.

“What I’m saying is that you can be one charming son-of-a-bitch and women have been your heroines, as well as your heroin long before I ever met you. You’ve been blessed and cursed by the same spell.”

“Maybe try taking a sabbatical for a while, especially once the new ‘Three Winds’ are on the road…Leigh-Anne doesn’t need the harassment either, by the way…I’m just sayin’…give your libido a rest, just for awhile, and try not to sweep some poor girl off her feet for the time being ‘cause you’ll just end up feeling sorry for her and then she’ll be the next one manipulating you.”

“I’m not saying celibate, just take it easy on the two widows…you’ve got nothing to prove, and they’re probably more vulnerable than you realize. I now that you’ve probably got more sense than to get involved in some sneaky, tacky affair with any of the married women..it’s never been your style, and this is too small a community when things go sideways, as they always do. You have a way of convincing women that all of their problems can be solved with your cock.”

“I guess that doesn’t leave many options, but these are decisions that you are going to have to make for yourself as if you were single again and we both know that your luck may far, far exceed your judgement, but this is not the time to put it to the test.” 

“Elliott sighed, took a deep breath and asked “So What’s it like with Jed?”

Chianna bit her lip for a moment, cocked her head slightly, answering “You know, Slick…it’s not really fair to you to compare what it’s been like with you and I lately to a new romance.”  She closed her eyes and winced slightly at the word ‘Romance’; it just slipped out (because that was exactly what it was) before she thought (and saw) how that word struck him like a slap in the face, and yet she nonetheless felt a tiny thrill pass through her as she said it.

“Well, what about compared to when we first met?” he asked.

“I was just a young girl…sure, you swept me off my feet, but considering how jaded we’ve both become since then…well, it’s extraordinary. I feel breathless when he’s fucking me. Just the thought of him inside me gives me the shivers…I…” She suddenly stopped when she realized how she was gushing (in more ways than one).

“Wow!” Elliott was flabbergasted, although in truth, if he had sensed that Chianna was holding back, or being less than frank and truthful, it would have hurt worse.

“These sure are extraordinary times, you’d think that learning that my wife and best friend are madly in love wth each other would be about the most mind-shattering thing that anyone could imagine, short of monkeys flying out of my ass…but no, wait! There’s more!” Elliott took a deep breath, a d a very, very long pause before he began again.

“As deeply wounded as I feel at this moment, I have to admit that taken on balance, the hurt and pain that I feel is almost matched by…well, relief. Before you start thinking that I say that as a cop-out, truth be told I think we both have run out of creative solutions, ideas , and frankly, energy to keep trying to do CPR on this dead corpse of a marriage.”

“Although on one level, this is the most heart-breaking event of my life, and not for nothing, but on the other hand, we both are long past time to face the truth, however, as we both have already begun to learn, there can be no secrets between those of One Mind.”

“Since the day that we met, it has been my solemn oath to deny you nothing that gave you pleasure.

“Over the years, you have been the greatest love of my life, and I dare say that we have given each other every pleasure and every face of Love we could have imagined, and yet, here we are, One Step Beyond.”

“Jedidiah and I are blood brothers in the truest sense. He is the finest and most trustworthy person that I could ever hope to know, and likewise, years ago, we had shared everything feely, and without reservations.”

“I love you both and take solace in knowing that he will treat you well, and vice-versa.”

“Though it should break my heart, I can only give you both my most heartfelt blessings. It’s not like I have to give up either of you, except as a wife, and in some small, selfish corner of my heart you shall aways be my eternal beloved.”

“Every time my heart is broken, it has grown, and in the process, grown stronger.”

“We have watched and survived the End of the World as We Knew It and still managed to put ourselves in the cat-bird’s seat to leverage our own self-determination. We all need each other more than we ever, possibly more than we realize even now.”

“This is no time to see who blinks first. I surrender. As I find acceptance of my current circumstances, it becomes less painful to let you go. I’m not even asking to be your friend; just don’t think that you have to hate me just to acknowledge that you’re not in love with me anymore…it’ll be a lot easier on both of us, don’t you think?”

“But it also means that I can expect a moratorium on conversations that start with “Can you please tell me why…can you explain to me why…? The hair stands up on the back of my neck when I hear what amounts to yet another in a series of seemingly unending criticisms where the main point seems to be ‘You’re wrong and I’m right’ and ‘You just don’t get it”…or ‘there’s no sense in even trying to explain it to you…’ All we have to do is agree to a few agreed-upon tasks of mutual cooperation.”

“And if you’re honest with yourself, I think it’s been harder on you than you realize. You don’t need the stress. OK”

“It really is a two-edged sword.”

“There is only this…just this.” Elliott paused for a moment.

Chianna finally broke the silence. “ Maybe I’m projecting, but I feel like I’m sensing your anticipation of a time when we can be three…sometimes it’s hard to tell The Knowing from my own thoughts…Look, Slick, Honey, just don’t hold your breath. I’m not sayin’ yes or no…but…too much anticipation will just spoil everything…IF the time comes.”

Elliott cut her short “Are you kidding?…did you even listen to what I just said? This stopped being a matter of your exclusive opinion every time I unsuccessfully try to please you…at anything…oddly, in my surrender, you end up with less power…how’s that for irony?”

“Hey, you guys do realize that we are ‘hearing’ every word  y’all are sayin’ from across the house, right?” Rebel smiled a funny smirk and shook her head before winking at both of them.

Suddenly, April, Mordecai, Leigh-Anne and Aimée were also peeking around the corner, then rushing both of them, hugging, kissing, and caressing each other in a way few can imagine unless they have been there before.

“Remember, always, we are a new tribe of men and women banded together in common cause and purpose, in Love,…not Romance…well, at least for most of us.” Leigh-Anne, in her quiet yet frank observations, was frequently silent, but when she spoke, her few words reflected an uncommon wisdom worth consideration, if not immediate action.

“And I might add, I’ve been a part of this ‘Band of Gypsies’ from the start, before even Aimée or April, in fact, and yes, the Romance and Drama swept me away so far that I found true love elsewhere, and much peace in the process.”

”I already knew that Arizona was going to be my home as well as Rebel’s new nickname for me, much later, but when Elliott (or is it ‘Slick’ now?) wouldn’t ‘seal the deal’ my heart followed my footsteps to a new marriage, more children, and a real family. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned the ‘Quiet Desperation’ that what I guess you’d call a ‘monogamish’ relationship  can yield, but my home is still my home and my husband is still my spouse.”

“That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a soft spot in my heart for all of you, and the ‘old days’ and no one can deny how attractive those two sexy devils are, even now, years later, but my home is still my home and my family will still be waiting for me when the time comes, which it will…sooner on the road than later, by the way.”

“Chianna is also a nurse, and if she can manage to handle Elliott’s financial matters, she would be the logical choice to handle logistics as well. She has had more experience with Labor and Delivery, and I can certainly bring her up to speed regarding trauma, but you can’t take the hospital out of the nurse.”

“I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to feel essential, and to be a part of the ‘Brave New World’ that we are forging right here, right now. Also, I will now have a supply network that will allow us  a second base of operations out West, as well as many lessons about self-sufficiency and self-determination.”

“It’s a chance to dance on the ‘Razor’s Edge’ and maybe help save a few ‘Lost Souls’ in the process…at least as long as they have enough good sense to not try to ‘cross’  these guys, because they never leave much of anything to treat or put back together if they do.”

“Of course I carry weapons, but thankfully I haven’t had the chance to even draw one…and I never got put through Elliott’s notorious survival agenda that he put his ‘girlfriends’ through. So I just go straight for the trauma bags, although I’d be better suited to just grab a dust pan, a broom, and maybe a giant blotter.”

“But I know that if one of us needs real medical care, or some poor soul along the road is in need, well, anything that I can do provides me with a renewed sense of purpose, all of which is well within Chianna’s capabilities.”

“My home is secure with my husband and family and well-supplied by our network. With no more phone services, Elliott even agreed to install a giant high-powered radio system to keep us in touch with my home and family in Arizona.”

“Thankfully, even before receiving the benefit of The Knowledge, both of you gentlemen were perceptive enough to sense that, with all the surprises of the last few days, I probably would have to have had to do something really extreme to get anybody’s attention around here, but Mordecai has been better company than anybody could ever want, so my feelings weren’t hurt.”

Jedidiah had been the least verbal member of the group, which is not to say that he hadn’t communicated quite eloquently on one level or another since his arrival.

“Well it goes without saying that there indeed can be no secrets among those of One Mind, but know this Elliott and I have been literally ‘blodd brothers for most of our lives since our early teens. It is a bond that cannot be broken so long as we both shall live. My heart was filled with much joy to realize that our quest was to lead us to seek Elliott, and that we were in fact on my brother’s trail.”

“In truth, I was so mesmerized by Chianna from the moment we met for me to feel the angst that nearly overcame me as I realized what this infatuation actually involved. Had Elliott not given his blessings I could not have proceeded to follow my and Chianna’s hearts. And because of this, I am honor-bound to treat her with as much love and respect for her, as well as Elliott, as is humanly possible.” Although their relationship has changed, I must honor their marriage as if I had married both of them.”

“Tomorrow Leigh-Anne and I will ride out together to get the ‘Duce-and-a Half to procure the supplies and provisions to start the next phase of our operation, including Elliott’s new still supplies. It’s a fairly simple run, but nothing we do is ‘Nice and Easy’ or especially safe. Leigh-Anne will be procuring medical supplies, but although we need some of us here to help prepare to make this our home and meeting with the rest of the Colony’s Council, to approve our residence here, Leigh-Anne is not our best rider, she’s never been on point before, so we will need another, accomplished rider, and of course, the baddest bitch on two wheels, or three is Jeanette D. Rogers…whom we are privileged to know simply as ‘Rebel’ and she can either ride my bike, and let Mordecai ride shotgun with me, or use hers with the sidecar; we’ll take all three bikes regardless, but once we pick up the Deuce we can improvise.”

“Soooooo…in light of Mordecai’s recently discovered sentience, and the fact that he is the wisest of all of us combined, I move we let him decide where He wants to sit and when.”

“Aimée, I know that you and ‘Becca are a team, but we need your negotiating Skills to ensure that everyone on the tribal Council for the Colony to approve our residence and that everyone is happy just to have us here; give it your best ‘win-win’ scenario.”

“…As much as I hate to leave you behind for this first run, Chianna, we need you here.”

Chianna nodded silently as she bit her lip before a single tear ran down her cheek, took a deep breath and smiled magnanimously . finally saying “Of course…for the greater good of our new tribe, my family…all of you…we just never know if it’s the last time we will see anyone after they leave here…”

Chianna’s usually almost husky, even ‘Junoesque’ (if such a thing can be said for someone’s voice) was halting, almost gasping as she choked the words out. Under different circumstances she had a regal quality about her that seemed to command respect as well as friendship…”…but she breaks down like a little girl…” (Bob Dylan; ‘Just like a Lady.’)

Aimée, who was standing beside her, turned to embrace her newly-found sister, as both women alternately wept and giggled.

“Think there’s room for three in there?” Rebel asked as she hugged them both.

“How about six? Amy’s retort was accompanied by raucous laughter.

“For you? Always, my sisters of the Moon…you know that Aimée and I are both going to miss you…what you say we have a girls’ night? The three of us.” Chianna seemed to speak directly to Rebel and never shifted her gaze. 

“Fuckin’ A, Shy-girl (Rebel’s knick-name for Chianna.) I just know that this is gonna be the family I never had…What you say, Mi-ami? (her phonetic corruption of ‘My Aimée’ with an exaggerated Southern drawl).

Rebel had a nick-name for everyone she cared for.

For about three seconds they kissed like only women can do before Rebel once again tore off her tank-top, slapping both women with her prodigious breasts before Chianna, Aimée, and Rebel rubbed and slapped their tits against each other before howling like coyotes.

“Jed, what you say we set up the telescope to watch the eclipse of the Blood Moon?”

“I’m right with you, ‘El,’ then we can make some Samhain Punch…y’know, up North, they’d make it spiced and probably with cider, but I don’t recall ever seeing any apple tress south of Gainesville…”

“Who be say-in we don’t have no cider, me brudda?” (mediocre Jamaican impression) “I do in fact have a root cellar full of surprises for just such an auspicious occasion as this, and we can spike it with the Agave Moon, if everybody agrees.”

“Aaaand I’d say about twelve caps of The Knowledge right in the punch, .”or six caps for now, and six in the mix…”

“I concur, Dr. Feelgood…let the games begin!” With that, Jed produced the bottle of bright, Egyptian-Blue capsules.

“Take this and eat, given to you for the remission of ignorance, gathered from the tears of angels.”

“Hey…if they’re gonna have a girls’ night, what do you think we should do?”

“Well…no offense, but I don’t think rubbing our titties together is gonna do much for me.”

“No argument from me on that…in fact, taken on balance, I’d say that’s a relief.”

“Oh ladies! Time to take ‘yer vitamins!”

Each of them cued up, according to their custom and predispositions and swallowed another dose of The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

“Jed, I’m surprised that we haven’t broached the subject already,  but I’m curious what y’all carry on your bikes for protection when you’re traveling light?”

“Well, for a little uniformity, we strap Sig-Sauer P-226’s and 9mm H&K MP5 full-auto pistols in the saddle bags, and just in case, we have an old-school Viet-Nam era “Thumper” M79 grenade launcher secured in Rebel’s sidecar if we really need to fuck shit up in a hurry, or over the shoulder with a pretty comfortable strap if on a single two-wheeled bike like mine.”

“How about if we have an early-afternoon Bar-B-Q to introduce you to your new neighbors? I’ve already got a stone-lined pit for a whole hog, and we can do a seafood boil and put some corn and other vegetables in it for good measure.”

“Great idea. I think one of the better aspects of the Knowledge is that it doesn’t make you sick, or Sleepy, or Dopey, Sneezy or Grumpy either for that matter or too tweaked to do anything useful.”

”You mean it doesn’t provoke you to take apart a perfectly functioning TV, just to discover that you can’t put it back together again?”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m new to all of this, but it certainly does seem to build upon itself. You don’t have to re-learn anything that you already know, or have just learned, no matter when it gets into your brain.”

With that, the two men created a feast worthy of such an auspicious occasion and much joy and hope was on the lips of all who attended.

Instructions were made and a general plan was unveiled to everyone there who chose to listen.

It was generally endorsed by all. Aimée would be met with little resistance with which to contend once it was time for a vote.

The feast of the harvest before the Dark Season. A convergence of many powerful forces awaiting only the right moment in time to correct many wrongs and egregious acts carried out for eons, and in so doing, reset the Dawn of Mankind.

Toward the end of the evening, as the fires began to burn down and all guests and neighbors self-ushered themselves back to their lodges, Mordecai summoned the Gang of Six, April/Betty/Boop, and even Sobe and Sharma, the twin shape-shifting ‘embezzlers of time and space’  in constant soixante-neuf  with each other acting as gatekeepers to the portals of the singularity of everything, to assemble around the campfire.

What happened next was the real jaw-dropper of the evening if not the entire millennium. As Mordecai lay beside Rebel’s feet, with his head on her lap, he suddenly arose on his hind legs and began to shape-shift.

It was indeed the most beautifully ethereal vision that they had ever witnessed as a glowing, shimmering almost liquid plasma that appeared to glow from within.

From Ashtar and Zoroaster to Ra, to Shakimuni to Lao-Tzu, Confucius, to Moses, to Jesus and back again in a slow, simmering cycle as even more and more figures appeared and changed in succession, as well as other, entities unknown to them.

Likewise a multitude of animal forms, both familiar and unfamiliar came and went, including forms that they had been taught were purely mythological.

“Do not be afraid. I am known by many names and countless forms. You have seen me many times before in your dreams and have felt me enter your hearts before the singularity of your time and space.”

“All known existence is more empty space than solid matter, no matter how dense and solid that it may seem to be.”

“Density and velocity are correlated, along with gravity. Mass determines Gravity, as well as Time.”

“Time and space are relative and can be bent, curved, and even folded.”

“Past, Present, and Future are all occurring at once in a giant Möbius loop.”

“The Future is the most dense and highest velocity, and passes through all Time uninterrupted until it becomes the Past.”

“The present does not exist, except as a theoretical construct to describe a  the virtual event/space between Past and Future, either as the the Post-Immediate Future or the Pre-Immediate Past.”

“Empty Space, thick as molasses, as well as the total mass of the entire Universe is comprised of over eighty-nine per cent Dark Matter and Dark Energy.”

“The singularity of your Time and Space is but a succession of many, like adjacent soap bubbles emitted form a single point.”

“String Theory is an attempt to explain how a series of resonances can determine every spect of each adjacent or separate reality.”

“Imagine an empty glass. Now fill it with small pebbles. Next pour in sand to fill the empty spaces between the pebbles. Now pour in water to the top. Finally, dissolve oxygen into the water.”

“And yet, there’s always room because the spaces between the sub-atomic, the atomic, the molecular, the solar, the galactic, and universal levels are relatively the same in terms of their scale.”

“The convergences of the Blue, and Blood Moons during a lunar eclipse on Samhain allows us to pass freely not only between the living and the dead, but also the past and future as well as the natural and supernatural realms, and the Quantum.”

“The Great Mystery of our creation is just that, at least for now, and that is more than enough. The Indians, whose land we now occupy understand that only the Creator owns this land, and that we can have only one Creator. They are quite adept at crossing into the spirit world. They will guide your hearts, and I will guide your brains and bodies.”

“Between us, will shall assist you in mastering the difference between the Understanding and the Knowing.”

“Any questions?”

The initial silence was eventually broken only by a pas de deux of crickets performing their nightly two-legged serenade “Ode to an old Woolen Sock” as Mordecai morphed into his previous canine identity before placing his head most adoringly upon Rebel’s lap, making puppy-eyes up to her.

“…and sometimes a dog is just a dog.”

“Only about a half a million or so” Remarked Leigh-Anne as she steadied herself upon a flat rock close to the fire. 

“(Well, that’s what I’m here for you, anytime you need, even if I don’t appear to be present. Remember, I’m only ten to the negative 43rd power seconds away. That’s: -.100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000ths of a second, or Planck time, the shortest interval closest to zero that can be measured, and I can be here and somewhere else and back in less time that it takes to even think my name…(just once, not three times like in ‘Beetlejuice’  hahaha!”

“(In fact, I’ve been here and three other places and back in less time that it took me to tell you about it, and yet you still had my full attention  all the while. Ah! the joys of living in Planck Time, thanks to the persistence of vision and memory!)”

“(And just to make you feel even safer, Sobe and Sharma the twin lizard embezzlers of time and space will be monitoring your safety as well as the folks at the Hone for Wayward Souls, but to be truthful, it’s just to re-asure you until you get used to the way things work around the portals and gateways.)”

“Yikes! Well that will probably be a great relief once the 499,999 answers to all the other previously unanswered questions that I never knew about in the first place sinks in.”

“So where do we go from here?”

“(I would suggest since I seriously doubt that sleep will be coming anytime soon.)”

“Ah yes! The girl’s night.”

“Just girls?”

“Just three girls.”

“Ya know, I know of a couple of boys who might want to cum along with us.”

“Well, unless we split up, that could get awkward…”

“Tru ‘Dat, but I’ve got an idea.”

“Well, last time it was just you and me and Doc…”

“And I know that you and Chianna are beginning to bond in a way that could help ease the tensions around here…”

“And?”

“Well, it’s not like I’m offering to take one for the team, but maybe we can ease into this a bit more gracefully if you two keep Jed busy and I distract Doc so that even if he knows what’s going on, he won’t be so inclined to get all preoccupied by Chianna, Aimée and Jed alone. It should be fun for you two, and to tell the truth, I kinda miss being one-on-one with the good Doctor…that was all we ever knew of each other back then, and then he up and disappeared on me all of a sudden without even saying good-bye.”

“I understand why now, but trust me, I once was a pro’ at this, and between these jugs, and this here ass, I can guarantee he won’t be seeing or hearing much of anything, even if we are all in the same room…hell, even if we were in the same bed.”

“Brilliant!”

“Better tell him to bring along a snorkel…I love the way you think!”

“I like a challenge.”

And true to her word, Rebel was absolutely right, and a splendid time was had by all.

Sometime before dawn, the ground shook and rumbled as if it was about to open up and swallow the entire colony.

The same deep, resonant voice was silently heard by everyone.

“(Long ago, a prophet known as Wovoka had a vision about a return to greatness by the Indian peoples and the demise of the ways of the white Europeans. That time has come. If you would intend to resurrect the greatness of the ways of our peoples, it is time to learn the ghost dance.)”

“(In the morning, Jedidiah, Leigh-Anne and Rebecca will begin their journey to prepare your Colony, our tribe for a new dawn of Mankind. A new tribe not determined by race, but by heart of soul, but once was exclusively the Indian Soul. Our blood has intermingled, and our souls, and thoughts as well as our hearts have touched.)”

“(Wherever you go, corruption, violence and ruthless depravity will be everywhere. Do not underestimate its posers of seduction. You must be as strong as your are kind, sensitive, and compassionate.)”

There was little inclination for sleep, so a proper breakfast were prepared by Elliott and Chianna for Jedidiah, Leigh-Anne, and Rebecca. Eggs, bacon, fresh bread, and coffee were shared by everyone.

Venison and wild hog jerky as well as several steaks were packed in ice. Alligator sausage and pemican prepared in the traditional ways ensured that no one would want for sustenance. Fresh water, frozen to help preserve the food and provide potable drinking water was packed into their limited baggage and saddle bags. Yams, squash, corn, tomatoes and beans ensured a balanced diet despite their limited capacity for storage, were it not for Rebel’s sidecar.

“Elliott and Chianna, we have never traveled with such sumptuous provisions before.”

Well, get used to it, and welcome to the family.” Chianna said as she embraced Rebel and Leigh-Anne.

“Now you’ve got something to look forward to when you get back…it kinda makes it even, at least I hope…while ‘Shy-Girl’ is pining for Jed, maybe y’all think kindly about last night…just don’ t plan on this being a regular thing, ‘cause you’ll just get spoiled and I don’t want us taking each other for granted” ‘Becca whispered into Elliott’s ear.

“You do realize this public address communications is going to take some getting used to” Aimée said.

“I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, I mean, a lot of water has passed under our bridge and if I keep my clothes on, it’s a  lot harder to forgive and forget.” There was a  touch of regret in Amy’s voice.

“How about if we work on forgiving first according to our natures…but never forget. You two have a lot to work out, but anything to keep old ‘’Boss’ on his toes (or maybe even his knees) will help build his character” (Chianna)

 “Look El…you know I’m no schoolgirl anymore…not to be mean, but there was a time when you could charm the pants off any girl that didn’t know any better. Ya look good, even up close…for awhile, but well, maybe you were right in self-destructing the deep relationships if you were afraid that they would grow tired, or get bored with you first.” 

“Insecurity can get boring pretty damn quick…but what you did was cruel…you hurt me, and you were too much of a narcissist to even realize it. Did you think that by understanding why you did it would make me feel any better…or take away that pain?”

“Ya still look pretty good, and you may have actually managed to grow up without growing old. Maybe there’s hope for you yet….”

“You mean that you could trust me like that again?”

“Oh hell no…that’s the point…I meant maybe there’s hope for you yet…just for yourself. We had stars in our eyes back then. We were supposed to fall hopelessly in love…with somebody…it was our time, but well, I just don’t feel like that about anybody anymore…”Becca and I are special, but not like that. I know that you understand the chemistry. But at least right now…I tried pretty hard a few times, maybe even wished I was, just to spite you, you could be such a smug bastard sometimes.” Aimée spoke fondly, and with great kindness, sensing more than a little despondence, as her words hit their mark. 

“Look. You see how things are. My estranged wife is now in love with my best friend…well one of them…you were, too, you know…best friend, I mean…and I have to just stand aside, and watch them leave together…It will be one of those poignantly tragic moments in my life…and it occurs to me just now, that I have never really known just how much I loved you, or her, for that matter, until I lost you…and then it was too late.”

“No, I gotta disagree with you there, Boss…that last time…you had your chance…and I knew that you knew…but you wouldn’t admit it, and you wouldn’t take it…lose yourself and jump into the volcano, but you didn’t….”

Elliott interrupted “And oddly enough, I felt like my heart was being torn from my chest, but for some reason, I was afraid to…to try to stop you…I wanted to, but was afraid that I couldn’t stand it if you turned me down.” Elliott sighed as a tear ran down his cheek.

With that, Elliott looked upwards over the tops of his sunglasses, and smiled slightly…”You know that song that says something about how ‘as much as I hate to see you go, I sure do love to watch you walk away’…?”

“I would have bet my life that afternoon that you would be back…and for years, I feared that I had, and lost…and yet here we are again.”

“Tru ‘dat, Boss, but you don’t have to sweep me off my feet…and I am not going to be the woman that saves you from any other woman again…you’re a grown man…and I’m no little schoolgirl anymore….”

“And think about this…all that time in between…we were different people, and we have had half a lifetime of separate experiences. Granted, we’d never run out of things to share, but how do we establish common ground, now that we’ve gone our separate ways?”

Elliott thought for a moment before he answered.

“Well, when we met, it was like a mid-air collision…out of nowhere. We couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds or experiences. Then again, we shared a common sense of humor, our love of Art and Music, a sexual philosophy unique to us…and I never met such an intelligent woman in my life, either before or since, come to think of it.”

”It was like both our separate lives stopped…I know it was my fault, but judging by whom we’ve become separately…maybe it was better for you that we did. I went through one unsavory situation after another after that…I began to believe that I didn’t deserve you and it would only have been a matter of time before you realized it. Maybe I needed to get my ass kicked to cure me of my arrogance. It was like your love made me forget my insecurities, but I wasn’t ready for it, and I became an egomaniac”

”Maybe now we’re better able to appreciate each other…just a day at a time…the rest was just water under the bridge. Wherever you went, whatever you did in the meantime, I can’t imagine anything…even with my imagination…that could change how I feel, because I’ve felt that way for years now. Not right away…it was when I viewed us from a great distance…time…that even if you had dumped me later, I would have been grateful for whatever it was we had, for as long as we had it.”

With that, Elliott reached out to touch Amy’s face, and suddenly, as he did, a flood of experiences suddenly overwhelmed him…a blinding rush of photomontage and flashes of emotions, states of mind, and feelings…her feelings, including those that she had felt when she and Elliott were first lovers in the active sense.

They both gasped, as Aimée was also feeling the pain, the emotions, and even the realizations that Elliott’s foolishness had triggered by virtue of having had to learn it all the hard way.

Such is the result of the Knowledge. Indeed ‘there can be no secrets among those of Common Mind…’

They gazed into each other’s eyes, signed, and laughed, and cried together.

Satsang. In an instant.

Elliott broke the silence. 

“It’s OK…I get it now. I wouldn’t want to put you in that position again…so much has changed, and yet so much remains. I have no idea what is going to happen with Chianna, but it shouldn’t change how we feel about each other…just for here and now…I need friendship and understanding, and I can promise to return it in like kind.”

“You knew me once, and now you know me again. I can’t imagine wanting anything more than that.”

“I think we can trust each other to just let our Karma take its natural course to lead us wherever we are headed…Kind of ‘Brave New World’ don’t you think?”

As they spoke, spirits came and went. They appeared and disappeared. Some passed through them, producing a kind of quickening, a rush of enthusiasm, emotion, a sort of thrill. A moment of excitement.

“Boss…look at me…don’t expect Romance…I half expected to tell you off before I saw you again…but you already know that now. Be glad that I don’t hate you…or worse yet, feel indifferent, but when you need a friend…and all I mean is a friend…and I think we both know that you will, at least eventually…I will still be your friend, but even that may be too much enabling. We’ll know when the time comes. No promises, just friendship…don’t make me regret that too.”

“I couldn’t have said it better, Madam” Leigh-Anne offered, “but let’s not get too sentimental; out there on the road, we’ve got to keep our wits sharp, and it’s no place for rumination.”

“My brother, keep yourself and your charges safe”

“Looks like you’re gonna have your hands full here as well. From now on, our anonymity will have to be better protected than ever. We need to be ready for anything out there, and in here as well. I gather most of the rest of the colony doesn’t travel at all, so if we act as the agents to procure whatever they need, our chances of keeping our location secret without any more murders would probably be a good idea.”

With that, Mordecai jumped into Rebel’s sidecar and barked twice.

“…and sometimes a dog is just a dog…”

Then they rode out into sunlight.

End of volume One.

Namasté

नमस्ते

Chazz Vincent            

copyright  © 03/13/2021

Fish swim with the tides, in and out of the lagoon as it empties itself, receives from, and flows back into the sea.

*ALL REFERENCES TO ANY PERSONS CONFIRMED STILL LIVING IS PURELY CO-INCIDENTAL…AND THE DEAD ARE TOO BUSY LAUGHING AT US TO CARE

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