Dry Land (Burning Man 8)

Roy Gillespie was on board the Coast Guard cutter Heron. He was safe in one piece. The EMT team on board had immediately hooked him up to an IV of saline to rehydrate him. He had been in and out of consciousness since being pulled from the waters of the Gulf. Several times he remembered thanking his rescuers and telling them emphatically that he was okay. The powerful thrumming of the cutter’s engines had a hypnotic effect on the completely exhausted roughneck and he felt himself slipping in and out of reality. He closed his eyes and heard the seabirds which followed the boat like a long lost kitchen.

Roy was dreaming now. He was dreaming of a beach in a realm without time. He was a seabird soaring along the shore. In the distance, with his sharp, precise vision he spotted a body laying in the sand. He circled, feeling a sense of the familiar with the body that lay there. He saw two grotesque figures emerging from the sand. Two demon like creatures had come up from the sand and gaped at the man who lay there sleeping. They seemed to be arguing between themselves. Roy soared in for a closer look. As he drew closer the demons started to flail their arms at him! They were warding him away. For what reason he could not guess. The Coast Guard cutter hit a patch of waves. With the jolt Roy woke up. He looked down at himself. He was in one piece but his head hummed. His vision was clear in his mind.

“That must of been quite an explosion back there sir.” Billy heard.

He looked up at the EMT. A young freckled face with aviator glasses looked down at him.

“Yes it was a blast. Just like in Kuwait. Did anyone else..?”

“Survive?” The EMT finished his question. “No sir you were the only one we found. The blast completely took out the platform. There’s a team there now still searching the debris.”

Roy rolled over on the pad he was lying on. He didn’t feel like talking at all. He couldn’t believe that all his friends were gone. Surely someone else must have survived. How could he be the only one? He drifted back off to sleep. Once again he started dreaming vividly. This time he was a small boy beside a campfire. He saw a group of men sitting around the fire. Beyond the flames it was pitch black darkness. He looked skyward and saw the stars as he had never seen them before. The fire sparked and sent up a shower of sparks that reinforced the stars in the sky. The men seemed caught up in a solemn discussion. One of them called to him. Again Roy woke up from a jolt. He sat up this time. The EMT was sitting on a bench nearby.

“How much longer…?

“Til we get to land?” Once again the crewman finished his sentence. “About twenty minutes now, we’ll have you home in no time.”

“Can I take this thing off?, I don’t like things sticking in me.”

“Sure, hang on.” The crewman stood up and gingerly knelt beside Roy. With swift precision he removed the needle from Roy’s arm. “Got some clothes for you here.” He turned around and produced a decent pair of jeans and a t shirt. Roy looked surprised. “Here put these on. An ambulance will meet you when we dock. I thought a guy like you would appreciate some real clothes and not some hospital gown. Keep ’em courtesy of the United States Coast Guard.” Roy saluted when he heard that. The crewman saluted back. “I figured you served. You seem like the type. Real calm like. My name’s Gabe.”

“Roy, Roy Gillespie.” Roy reached up his hand and Gabe helped him up. Roy was a little shaky and he leaned against the cabin wall. His head felt as if he was wearing a plastic bag over it. He knew the shock still reverberated through him.

“Well Roy it’s a pleasure to meet you and I sure wish it could’ve been under more righteous circumstances.”

Roy nodded. “You better believe it. Where we coming in?”

“Near the big easy Roy. We’ll be seeing you get to a good hospital. Doctors going to check you from head to toe.”

Roy nodded again. His vision was a little blurry. His neck itched a bit. He reached up and felt something around it. He followed it down. There on his chest was a gem. A peculiar medallion of sorts. It was the opal mobius. “What the …?”

“Must be a damned good luck charm. That’s all you had on with your long johns. You wouldn’t let it go even when we tried to take it off you.”

“I’ve never seen this before.” Roy managed to stammer.

“Sure thing. Just stay calm.” Gabe reassured Roy and held him by the shoulder. “Here we come in now.”

Roy clutched at the medallion and shuffled his feet following Gabe. Soon he was surrounded by a retinue of crewmen. They were applauding him. The Lieutenant had already brought the cutter to the dock with barely the slightest bump. An ambulance waited within sight. Gabe tried to help Roy onto a stretcher.

“If it’s all the same I can walk.” Roy said determined to get back on land. Gabe nodded and helped Roy to the ramp. Looking at the EMT’s from the ambulance Gabe said, “we’ve got him hydrated and he’s conscious. This guy is one tough hombre!”

Roy stood on his own and took a deep breath before the burly ambulance EMT helped him up and onto an awaiting mobile stretcher. Roy reluctantly lay down thankful that Gabe had given him street clothes. He’d rather have been going home.

“Let’s get this over with.” Roy said in a hoarse whisper as the ambulance doors closed.

The Summum Bonum (Burning Man 6)

Billy sat cross legged at the edge of the vast ocean, behind him was empty desert, empty except for a scraggly bush here and there a few stumps of ancient trees. There were hardly any signs of life which left him puzzled. He was used to finding living things even in the harshest conditions. His Grand uncles had taught him how to survive even when it seemed like their was no sustenance the earth provided. Still he was not thirsty, nor was he hungry. Somehow the manna of the snake meat was keeping him alive or he was in a dream or maybe, he thought, he had crossed into the dreamtime. He began to hum to himself. The song lifted his spirit. The tune had no name. He closed his eyes and calmed his breathing into a rhythmic chant.

For a long time he sat. He finally heard a rustling sound. Startled he opened his eyes and scratched his neck where the snakeskin rested on his neck. Things were changing around him. A white rock had appeared out of the water. Inscribed into the rock was the same symbol that Eingana had scratched into the sand many days ago, the symbol for MU. The rustling noise continued as he stood and turned looking at the now swirling sand. Two inhuman figures suddenly emerged, growling and grunting, gnashing their sharpened teeth and threatening with clawlike hands. “Who are you?” Billy demanded. The creatures snarled and gave him a hideous grin. They spoke in a coarse rhyme. “We are brothers, your brothers, greed and gluttony. Turn and come with us to the paradise of the wasteland!”

Billy clutched at the gem around his neck. Neither creature would look at him directly. They seemed to be looking out into the ocean with far away eyes. “Hurry you fool. Come with us and rule the wasteland!” He reached out to them but they both shrunk back. They would come no closer to him. Something occurred to Billy. “I have no need of either of you, there is nothing here to be greedy for and nothing to eat to be gluttonous.” “Then just give us the gem and drown you foolish man” they demanded as their eyes widened still staring past him. Billy turned again.

The ocean had vanished into the sky. Everything was blue. The shape of a seated figure was far in the distance. An enormous seated figure holding up the shadow of a hand. Billy turned back and the figures had vanished. He heard them arguing. “He has passed our realm we can no longer affect him.” Things were changing. Billy heard a rushing sound like the blast of a mighty wind. He blinked as water hit his face. The horizon returned as quickly as it had vanished. The water surged in front of the white stone. Out of the sea a gigantic crocodile like dragon came rushing from the ocean.

Billy fell to his knees and clutched the opal carving. The dragon spoke in a voice that came from everywhere at once. “Billy Bondi has arrived, the earth is his witness and his heart. He holds the Cintimani.” Everything Billy had been through flashed before him. He saw mountains and he saw the abyss. “Who are you and what do you want?” he asked. “I am the Makara,” the voice boomed. “I want you Billy, you have the sign, you have been marked by the one.”

“There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.” — Salvador Dali

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” — Salvador Dali

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

The Laurentian Highway (Burning Man 3)

Eddie Sargavy twirled the pen in his fingers. The room smelled of long extinguished cigarettes. He stared out the window at the Laurentian Highway. In the distance a sign flashed on the side of the Continental Can Company. Cee Cee Cee over and over again. One large Cee, one medium size cee that fit into the large arc and a smaller cee to complete the trio. He chuckled to himself, a frustrated chuckle. “See, see, see it says and how come I can’t come up with a damn thing” he said to himself. “Damn irony.”

Eddie had been up half the night. He was trying to come up with a concept for a new client. Mindlessly his hand sketched out a human shape on his scratch paper. He had to have something by morning. Lazily the lonely cars in the distance seemed to drone up the road, the noise eerily reminiscent of waves on a beach.

This was unusual for Eddie. He was the creative force of the advertising agency. Normally things would just come into his mind as if the muse never rested. Tonight was different though. The air felt heavy. It was October in Montreal and the air still felt like summer. The day had been unusually warm, 86 degrees, a new record. He had left the café early after meeting again with the client for what was supposed to be a mutual round of drinks. Walter Blytheville downed his Labatt beers hungrily like a man on a mission. That was now ten hours ago. Eddie imagined him sleeping peacefully. Why was this campaign so difficult? He had never had troubles with moral issues before. He simply could no longer wrap his mind around selling something that could be harmful to the environment or to people.

He looked down again at his scratch pad. There was a rough outline of a figure lying down. He scrawled a bit and drew the outline of a beach. A truck roared by in the distance. He drew some curls on the water, the impressions of waves, small waves. He stood up to stretch. His laptop continued it’s eternal screensaver waltz. It reminded him of a video game he played as a child. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a toothpick. What he really wanted was a cigarette. He turned and looked at the clock radio on the bedstand. 4:13 AM. He was supposed to make a presentation at ten. His flight back to New York was at two. He was in a bind, a dead zone, he needed a way out of his creative rut. He needed a way to numb his conscience.

It occurred to Eddie how small he really felt, that did it. He reached into his suitcase and retrieved a pack of camel cigarettes. He threw the door open to the motel room, the classic Mirabel Express. He could’ve stayed anywhere on the agencies tab but he loved the rustic little cheesy places.  Something about reminding himself where he had come from and how far he had come. Several drags into his cigarette he decided he was over his moral crisis. “We’re all gonna die sooner or later so who the hell really gives a damn? Who am I, the pope?” He quietly closed the door and extinguished the stub in a Styrofoam cup. He walked back over to the desk and tapped the keyboard of the laptop. “Wake up little prince” he said trying to humor himself awake. It was then that he looked at his scratchpad. His mouth fell open. He shook his head and patted his cheeks. The figure he had drawn was no longer there……..

Billy was not sure how long he had slept on the sand. He had awoken in the night. It felt like something was brushing against his skin. More than once he felt it but each time he saw nothing. Just a vast expanse of stars overhead. Not a crab, a night bird or even a sea flea in sight. The ocean was calm. The waves made a gentle rumble that sounded far away. Billy was thirsty now and he knew it was time to go further. He felt for the pendant around his neck. He held it to his chest, the feel of it was comforting. He stood easily and with the ocean on his right, Billy walked on.

“I shall be found with ‘Indians’ engraved on my brain when I am dead. A fire has been kindled within me, which will never go out.” — Helen Hunt Jackson

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

The Burning Man II

Billy Bondi walked and walked on. Through the smoke and not far away he could see a bluish tinge through the grey clouds. The air began to cool around him. He looked at his feet as they walked across the hot coals. His government issue boots had long since burned off but his feet were unburned. In fact he felt none the worse for wear. The smoke began to lessen now. His coughing stopped. He actually began to feel a state of exhilaration. He stopped and balanced with his walking stick as he unhooked his backpack from his shoulders. Reverently he removed the carving of Wandjina, the creator. For a brief moment he considered the contents of the pack. An old shirt, tattered pants and dried out shoes, he threw the pack and its contents into the receding blaze which briefly leapt up as a wolf would leap at raw meat consuming the pack and its’ contents.

He looked down at himself and was amazed at the sudden youthful vigor that had now swept over him. The blue, once distant, was clearer now. A deep blue lay on the horizon and a lighter shade became the sky. Not fifty yards from where he walked now he saw a figure bent over the last edge of the embers. Beyond that a beach! He slowed down and carefully scanned his surroundings. His head was clear. He had never felt the Dadirri so strongly. It boomed inside his body and mind like the heartbeat of all the universe. He heard singing! “Billy Bondi walks. Billy Bondi has a question. A man from far away yet near, walk on Billy have no fear.”

Finally he came to the beach. An old woman was stooped down by the edge of the flames. In her hands was a forked stick and on the end of the stick was a snake which she was roasting in the embers. Again she sang: “A man from far away yet near, he has a question bring him here.” She laughed a friendly chuckle and looked at Billy. Billy recognized her from dreamtime long ago. “Eingana” he whispered. He held out the carving of Wandjina. She reached out to recieve Billy’s gift. Gently she chuckled as she remembered Billy in his Mother’s womb. “Billy come sit and keep an old woman company” Eingana said with a friendly gesture. “Thank you for this gift, I remember when I gave it to your Uncle.” Billy smiled and breathed deeply, he felt a deep exhilaration as if he was nine years old again, an innocent feeling of joy and life. He almost didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Billy sat down as the waves gently rolled in the azure waters behind him.

“You have walked far Billy, yet your journey has just begun. I know you have a question for me and I have been waiting to hear it.” Billy felt entirely at ease. He was not hungry, he was not thirsty, his mind was crystal clear. Eingana pulled the serpent from the flames and poked at it to see if it was roasted yet. She licked her lips and turned it back into the heat. “Ask me Billy I am here to guide you.” Breathing deeply Billy gathered his composure to address the creator Goddess. “Why Eingana, why does man often take more than he needs?” Billy asked with sincere innocence. Eingana now pulled the snake from the fire and placed it on a rock to cool. Turning to Billy she looked into his eyes and as she did he could see into another existence, another reality but it felt quite natural. “That is a wise question. I believe you can find the answer. It is between the earth and the sky and the abundance that can surround us if we share. We shall eat this snake and then you must walk on.”

Hours seemed to have passed but yet time seemed irrelevant. Eingana had picked up Billy’s walking stick and scrawled a symbol into the sand. It was the script symbol for MU. Eingana explained: “When this symbol is drawn it might look like a heartbeat. To some it means everything to some it means nothing. To some it means eternal but to others ephemeral. Think on these things as you continue on your way.” Billy nodded and smiled. The riddle intrigued him. The meat of the snake had sated him like manna. The energy that filled him was wind horse. “Which way should I go?” Billy asked as he stood. “Follow the shoreline to the white rock. There will be a sign for you there.” As Eingana said this she held Billy’s hand. Into his hand she placed an opal carving of indescribable colors attached to a snakeskin loop. It was a carving of a mobius strip.Billy held it up in the receding sunlight. In it he could see vague notions of animals. He placed the loop around his neck. Eingana stood and pointed. Billy nodded. Billy walked, and walked on.

stock photo of mobius strip  - Moebius strib shaped object on white background - JPG   MOBIUS STRIP

“The possessors of wealth can scarcely be indifferent to processes which, nearly or remotely have been the fertile source of their possessions.”                                — Charles Babbage

Ten Thousand Idiots:

“It is always a danger to aspirants on the Path,

When they begin to believe and Act,

As if the ten thousand idiots who so long ruled and lived Inside,

Have all packed their bags and skipped town or Died.” — Hafiz

image

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Bondye (Burning Man 16)

Madame Jubal returned with the tea. She set the mug down on the table and gasped. The tarot deck had changed. The fool had become the magician. She knew that Roy had not touched the cards. She had kept a close eye on his every move since he had burst in the shop. She looked up and the talisman hanging around Roy’s neck morphed into a face then became an opaline mobius again. She sat down with a thud.

“Where’d you get that? That loop?”

“Funny thing happened.” Roy smiled. “I found it when I fell off an oil rig. I mean after I was rescued it was around my neck. I don’t know where it came from really. It was just there all of a sudden.”

Roy reached and pulled the snakeskin loop from his neck. He held up the gem for Madame Jubal. Madame Jubal sat silently. He moved it towards her. She backed up and kept a certain distance, transfixed.

“What is it, where do you think it came from?”

“It’s not from here,” Madame Jubal lowered her voice to a whisper, “it’s from a place down under.” She held her fingers to her lips in astonishment.

“Bondye, Bondye, Bondye” suddenly Lafitte shrieked from his perch. both Roy and Madame Jubal jumped. “Bondye, Bondye, Bondye!”

Roy looked at Madame Jubal. “What’s he squwaking on about?”

“You’ve been touched by the Bondye. Lafitte don’t lie. He sees things we don’t see. I ain’t never seen him do that before. He saying you been touched. That must be how the card changed.”

Roy looked entirely baffled. He looked at the tarot deck again. The magician looked up at him. He could swear the figure winked. He looked back at Madame Jubal.

“You saw it too, that card changed and no one touched it. It’s a sign from the Baron. He follows you now. He can change things. Must be him you saw before.”

Roy frowned. “I don’t understand. I was blown off an oil rig. I was the only one who lived. I keep having dreams, the strangest dreams. Now I’m chasing imaginary men around and sleeping with snakes and gators. I came here to ask you what’s going on, what’s happening to me?”

“There’s not much to tell you now. The cards have read themselves. The Baron follows you!”

“Who is this Baron?”

“He helping you now. You have a mission to the Bondye. I can’t tell you what it is. Must be extreme. Baron Samedi can escort the dead, he can make deals with the spirits. If he following you now you have the blessing. Must be a calling on your head, I can’t tell you what you have to find out.”

Roy stared down at his tea. He stirred the mug with his finger. His other hand clutched the talisman. The shaped changed then stretched back. It was warm. “The Bondye, what is this Bondye?”

Roy looked at Madame Jubal. He looked tired. His eyes glistened.

“Bondye takes care of living things. Bondye tells the flowers when to bloom, tells the tide when to rise, tells the sun to come and the moon to shine.”

“Wow that settles everything.” Roy stared down at his mug. He had come to have some riddles answered but instead he had more riddles than before.

“You young and strong, you’ll get the picture.” Madame Jubal spoke kindly. She reached to take his hand but then thought better of it. She looked at him apprehensively now as if any moment something amazing might happen.

“Obelisk, Obelisk, Obelisk” Lafitte chattered in the corner.

“What’s that now?” Roy turned to Lafitte incredulously. “Obelsik?”

“Billy, Billy, Billy” Lafitte seemed nonsensical now. The parrot waltzed back and forth on his perch. Roy stood up to go.

“No charge for you today.” Madame Jubal said emphatically. He stood looking like a man in a dilemma. “No charge, now.” She suddenly seemed in a hurry to be rid of him.

“Obelisk, Billy, Obelisk” Lafitte squawked even louder.

“Okay then” Roy said and reluctantly walked towards the door. “The Baron is following me and the Bondye. My strange gem is from down under something. That clears it up, thanks.”

“You’ll get the picture.” Madame Jubal said this as confidently as possible as she locked the door behind Roy.

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Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Burning Man

Picture Taken 14 hours ago from the International Space Station of Australian Outback Fire

Billy Bondi sat on the stoop of his shack gazing into the Outback with his striking steel blue eyes. His face was weatherworn with deep wrinkles where days in the sun had long since taken their toll. His grizzled beard flickered in the breeze as he slowly shook his head with a look of consternation and worry. He sat in absolute silence. He listened with all his being. The boab tree in the distance barely moved in the scorching wind. Barely any of the trees still clung to life. A large beetle stuggled in the gravel in front of the stoop. Billy Bondi listened. The dadirri finally came to him. It came into focus and took shape. He once again had direction and purpose. After a long breath he stood. When he stood he could see the flat lands of the Northern Territory on fire. He turned and went back inside.

Fire was not new to these lands but Billy knew this was the final fire. He gathered up a tattered army backpack that he had roamed the outback with for years. He carefully placed his few belongings into it. A carving of the Wandjina, the creator, that his uncle had given him fifty years before was carefully placed into the sack. He put an old shirt and a pair of shorts and his other pair of shoes inside. He decided against carrying any food with him as it was not necessary for this journey, not this time. Billy picked up his walking stick and turned for the door.

He stopped in front of his government issued shack that had become decrepit years before. With his walking stick he began to draw in the sand. Patiently, carefully he drew several wavy lines one on top of the other, the shamanic symbol for fire or smoke. Next to that he drew a picture of several concentric circles which he finished with several radiating lines on each side much like the spokes of a wheel, the symbol of meeting place. It was a simple message to whomever might find it. The fire had compelled him to go to the meeting place. He was not meeting with humans this time however; he was meeting with the sky gods.

Billy stood up with and with a look of resolution secured the backpack to his person. He knelt down to make sure that the laces of his government boots were secure. He looked back at his home and appeared to wipe a tear off his eyes but perhaps it was just the sweat from his brow. He walked and walked on. Astonishingly Billy did not walk away from the fire, but directly towards it. Soon the buffering winds from the tremendous flames were making his journey even hotter. This did not hinder Billy Bondi. He walked and walked on. Now he began to cough as the purifying smoke reached towards him like the ghosts of many lost ancestors. He shrugged it off. The flames grew nearer. He did not stop or even break his stride practiced by many years of endless journeys. Soon he was stepping on embers. The smoke made him just a silhouette. He blended into the flame and disappeared…..

“The heat was remarkable. It was prolonged. That we beat the record by one degree is quite a big deal.” — Jake Crouch – Scientist with the National Climactic Data Center

“Yes poor insured homeowner, there is a Sandy Clause!” — Jake Shween

Get off the cell phone and drive! — Jake Shween

The Summum Bonum (Burning Man 6)

Billy sat cross legged at the edge of the vast ocean, behind him was empty desert, empty except for a scraggly bush here and there a few stumps of ancient trees. There were hardly any signs of life which left him puzzled. He was used to finding living things even in the harshest conditions. His Grand uncles had taught him how to survive even when it seemed like their was no sustenance the earth provided. Still he was not thirsty, nor was he hungry. Somehow the manna of the snake meat was keeping him alive or he was in a dream or maybe, he thought, he had crossed into the dreamtime. He began to hum to himself. The song lifted his spirit. The tune had no name. He closed his eyes and calmed his breathing into a rhythmic chant.

For a long time he sat. He finally heard a rustling sound. Startled he opened his eyes and scratched his neck where the snakeskin rested on his neck. Things were changing around him. A white rock had appeared out of the water. Inscribed into the rock was the same symbol that Eingana had scratched into the sand many days ago, the symbol for MU. The rustling noise continued as he stood and turned looking at the now swirling sand. Two inhuman figures suddenly emerged, growling and grunting, gnashing their sharpened teeth and threatening with clawlike hands. “Who are you?” Billy demanded. The creatures snarled and gave him a hideous grin. They spoke in a coarse rhyme. “We are brothers, your brothers, greed and gluttony. Turn and come with us to the paradise of the wasteland!”

Billy clutched at the gem around his neck. Neither creature would look at him directly. They seemed to be looking out into the ocean with far away eyes. “Hurry you fool. Come with us and rule the wasteland!” He reached out to them but they both shrunk back. They would come no closer to him. Something occurred to Billy. “I have no need of either of you, there is nothing here to be greedy for and nothing to eat to be gluttonous.” “Then just give us the gem and drown you foolish man” they demanded as their eyes widened still staring past him. Billy turned again.

The ocean had vanished into the sky. Everything was blue. The shape of a seated figure was far in the distance. An enormous seated figure holding up the shadow of a hand. Billy turned back and the figures had vanished. He heard them arguing. “He has passed our realm we can no longer affect him.” Things were changing. Billy heard a rushing sound like the blast of a mighty wind. He blinked as water hit his face. The horizon returned as quickly as it had vanished. The water surged in front of the white stone. Out of the sea a gigantic crocodile like dragon came rushing from the ocean.

Billy fell to his knees and clutched the opal carving. The dragon spoke in a voice that came from everywhere at once. “Billy Bondi has arrived, the earth is his witness and his heart. He holds the Cintimani.” Everything Billy had been through flashed before him. He saw mountains and he saw the abyss. “Who are you and what do you want?” he asked. “I am the Makara,” the voice boomed. “I want you Billy, you have the sign, you have been marked by the one.”

“There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.” — Salvador Dali

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” — Salvador Dali

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween