I watched him walk along the shoreline as luminescent waves rolled under the blue moon. The surf broke the silence of the night as it lazily lapped the gleaming beach. He was moving with the brisk wind towards an unknown horizon and seemed to pay me no heed as his cloak and long hair majestically streamed behind him.
I took a long hit off my pipe packed with a ball of opium. When I finally opened my eyes, he was walking towards me and for a moment I thought he was an ancient god with his flowing beard and long shaggy hair catching the moon beams and glowing eerily. But as I watched in wide eyed wonder he stopped, shook his mighty mane from side-to-side and reversed his course. I felt a sense of remorse. Loss. Did I offend him somehow by not standing up?
I had the feeling that I missed an opportunity. That the Beach Walker was going to befriend me and share answers to mysteries that have long befuddled humanity.
I watched his shadow chase himas he moved like a wraith beneath the moonlight. His hair was flowing and glowing. The waves were receding, and sand dollars and other shells were exposed and gleaming under the strange lights emanating from the sky. A stray clap of thunder growled in the distance. My thoughts turned to the pipe in my hand. I lit it. Inhaled. Waited. Time had no meaning. I sought revelations. Visions.The meaning of life. I was lost.
Pulling out the pistol from my jacket pocket I held it up to my head and held it there for what seemed an eternity. My arm gave out and I dropped the .38 Special onto the shifting sand. I cursed my cowardice. I cursed my demons. As I ranted a fog slowly crept along the shoreline then shifted towards me. From its depth the Beach Walker emerged, his wild long hair hanging in tight curls and straddling his broad shoulders. The cloak was gone and all he wore was a dirty white tunic. Somehow his face glowed under the light of the blue moon, and he was wearing a frown. A look of concern. His dark brown eyes bored into my soul, warning me not to take my own life. A voice inside my head said it’s God’s choice when and how you leave this earthly plane.
Startled I jumped up in my narcotic haze and called out to him, who are you? It was too late, however. It seemed like he was floating as he turned around and disappeared in the thick gray mist that now enveloped the whole beach.
When I saw the headlights, I didn’t move despite the fact that they were pointed right at me. It appeared God chose this moment to take my life and I gladly opened my arms wide prepared to be propelled into eternity. The Land Rover roared right by me, spitting up sand and broken shells as it hurtled into the night on some mad mission. I stood there listening to my heartbeat for minutes. Then I could hear the waves again. I suddenly understood that life was a gift and I’d been granted a reprieve for my past misdeeds.
I watched the sunrise with a sense of awe. Picking up the pistol and the pipe I threw them as far as I could into the turbulent surf. As corny as it sounds, it was a new day full of promise.
He rocks back-and-forth on the rickety wicker porch chair. He’s everyman, late in life with wrinkles distorting a once smooth face, and body. His life wasn’t spent seeking redemption in real time. His subconsciousness never gave a hint of being interested in the subject.
Memories did sometimes rudely intrude upon his daily routine and reality. As a combat veteran he was intimately acquainted with death. The sight. The smell. The moment he fired at a human being. The horror.
But he just keeps on rocking in his wicker chair every day, a modern response to Old Man River who just kept rolling on.
He isn’t plagued with regrets on not being “saved” by any religion, or by being led to redemption like a sheep on the way to being sheared.
Freedom is his redemption for being alive and having survived many perilous times in his long life. His arthritis a badge of honor. His physical scars medals earned during a long life of adventures. His silver hair a crown of achievement.
He makes no claims of having redeemed others from sins and stupid moves in their lives. He never wanted to lead others to the top of any proverbial mountain. He’s unaware of ever being anyone’s leading light in life.
He just keeps on rocking in his wicker chair every day, a modern response to Old Man River who just kept rolling on.