Darwin’s Dream – The First Arrival.
Under no one’s control, the craft continued on its spiral journey to the Earth. Pulled by the planet’s orbital sucking forces, its speed increasing ever faster, onwards and downwards. The occupants had sensed the change, the buffeting, the sudden rolling to and fro, and panic’s bitter taste began to rise. Too soon for some, too late for others. Minutes, seconds was all that would remain, but mercifully as no outward view was possible, for anyone, the time remaining did not matter. In a few moments, for half the occupants at least, the time remaining would not matter ever again.
The mists from verdant jungles rose to form a cloud base, shielding the moon and stars from all the waking earthly creatures. Every animal, bird and insect within a ten-mile radius froze. The screaming craft’s trajectory ignited each living being’s fear of death or capture. They ran or flew or dug deep into the soil, none knew from what, or where safety lay, they scattered, jumped or froze in place with eyes darting here and there.
The final crash slicing through the canopy caused more mayhem. Those inside were helpless, subjected to a nightmare turmoil of screaming cries in pitch black voids of taut sensory perceptions of imminent fate, even when the craft slowed to a halt, warm blood, death smells, moans and groans and sobbing awaited the survivors. For a while no creature moved, silence saturated time. Then slowly the sounds of jungle life began, distant at first but growing nearer by the second.
The few survivors that did emerge quickly took stock of unfamiliar sounds and smells, new or different senses, from shiny, smooth warm alloys they now encountered rough, cold, coarse hard woods. The fresh air was the biggest and most immediate change. Humidity was the second.
The ones that could, walked or crawled away, but something within would make them stay quite near. With an unspoken collective understanding, they all stopped, rested at a distance and then watched and listened to the craft’s still smouldering, sparking, burning death throes. Feeling fortunate to survive, they would eventually return to seek out others in the carnage, wounded, dying or too far past helping. As the sun rose, the next challenge of survival would be the smell of death, calling out to all the hungry scavengers and natural hunters of that new, unknown and cruel future.
Darwin’s eyes opened wide, he stared across the room at the familiar painting by Pieter Bruegel, ‘The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind.’ He wondered what the strange dream could mean, and as he couldn’t fathom it, he dismissed it.
(Adapted from a prologue from ‘Burden of Truth’ – Completed 60,000 word Novel, not yet published – Tyler Wills).
A Feral Hatred
‘My word. Harry. Got a cheek showing your face here, don’t you think?’
‘Ah, still burdened with grudges are we, that bitterness is wasting you away George, after all these years.’
‘Bitterness? No not bitterness Harry, indifference maybe, but the bitterness passed a long while ago.’
‘It has been a long while.’
‘Not long enough if you ask me. What respects have you come to pay then? You had none when she was alive.’
‘She was my wife once George…’
‘Your wife? You have no idea what the word means man, the way you treated her.’
‘What the hell would you know about the way I treated her.’
‘You really are something! It may as well have been you shoving her off that bridge, don’t you realise, or is it more a case of “who gives a shit” with you and everything around you?’
‘Look George, if you are implying that I have had anything to do with this, then your way off the mark. I haven’t seen Sue in…nine bloody years, nine years it’s been, so how can any of this be down to me?’
‘Oh piss off back to where you came from, you’re not welcome here, not after what you did, you pushed her to this, nine bloody years or not, this is all your doing.’
‘What the hell are you talking about? You’ve hated me from the minute you met her, why; I have no idea, I’ve never interfered in your relationship with her, I don’t think that Sue and I have ever even discussed you, so where you get your ideas or hatred from is beyond me. How dare you accuse me of being cruel to her, you obviously have no idea what our marriage was about…’
‘I know all about it, how you ditched her, left her high and dry for that secretary, oh yes, I know all about that Harry, so don’t come playing the innocent with me, Sue was miserable the day I met her. And you know what? She never ever got over it. It, you, ruined our marriage. We never had a chance. It was always three people in our relationship and that spelt disaster from the word “go.” That’s why she’s in that casket right now, because of you.’
‘You’re mad! You have no idea George. Sue and I divorced…we ended our relationship amicably; whatever drove her to do this had absolutely nothing to do with me.’
‘We’ve had nine years of misery because of you. You were always there, in the background, she didn’t even have to mention it or discuss it but you were there, and how do I know, because she wouldn’t come clean and admit it, that’s how I know, and anyway, her friend let it out even before we were engaged; how you had treated her, so we didn’t need to talk about it. Best thing was not to mention your name to Sue at all.’
‘George, it makes little difference to me what you believe, I sense your hatred and as soon as I leave this chapel nothing in my perspective about Sue or even you will change. You can if you wish spend the next nine years blaming and hating me, but it is a misplaced hatred, born of a wild supposition, a creation in your own mind. Believe me, for your own sanity man. Look, what I am trying to say; is that in our own way we did love each other, it wasn’t enough for Sue and we therefore both went our own way looking for a richer, better love. Maybe she didn’t find it either. Sue and I came to a mutual understanding. There was a love between us, but it simply was not the right love, she…well she quite rightly wanted…had expected more. That was all George, we both came to an understanding, nobody abandoned anyone else, or forced the issue…’
‘You dumped her.’
‘Who did you say told you this?’
‘Her friend from work, I forget the name, it was ages ago, we weren’t even engaged then.’
‘What did this friend tell you, exactly, exactly as far as you can remember?’
‘She said that you “Old Harry” had dumped Sue for your secretary, so deny that now why don’t you?’
‘George, “Old Harry” was Harry Bannon, Sue’s boss at Smithson’s, not me.’
‘Are you trying to say that Sue was miserable for the last nine years because she got dumped from her job at Smithson’s?’
‘No George, I have absolutely no idea why Sue may have been miserable for the last nine years or why she would decide to end things, I just know that it had absolutely nothing to do with me.’
‘You men are pathetic, you must be the pre-ex-husband; Harry, and you must be George the recently widowed? I’m Mrs Bannon? The secretary Sue was dumped for? Sorry to listen in dears, you didn’t exactly keep your conversation private, this is a place of worship after all, not a men’s club, but in fact you are both wrong. My Harry died six-months ago and your darling Sue had been seeing him on and off for the past…twelve years. That’s what pushed her off the bridge; she didn’t get him you see, not totally, not in the way she always wanted and intended.’
A Coloured Vision.
I’ll flag you right off the bat. It wasn’t really my choice, but this here is a white-skinned nigger. Though white isn’t really right, I aint no albino, not that I have any problem with albino dudes neither, but they are the nearest that I’ve seen to the description: “white.” Well, some Scots and Irish folks I’ve known come close, plant them in the Mojave for a couple of days and they tend to turn pinky. But then their skin soon reverts to the nearest I would equate with white. Like paper white.
So really, I ain’t even white.
“Ah, this must be a black nigger,” I can almost hear you thinking.
Wrong again. But like albinos; as they aren’t really white, then there ain’t no black niggers either. So I’m what you might call a cookie colour, depending on the season and how much outdoor work I’ve had to do, and depending on the cookie.
Always have found the word “nigger” to be offensive, and what surprises me most; is black folks using the term to describe other black folks, who as they aren’t really black should maybe use the European term: ‘coloured’. Now we can also discuss the word ‘coloured’ which in my dictionary would be described as: ‘Distorted or biased – biased or sensational.’ ‘Painted or applied – with a pigment.’ I would certainly delete any words in reference to ‘belonging to a group of mixed ethnic origin, formerly a racial classification in the apartheid era,’ unless I could also add: ‘but still primarily human, with human feelings, needs and rights.’”
“So this cookie coloured nigger has principles.”
Well yes I do. If you are still interested I’ll also tell you why.
I don’t care too much for city people, I’m a country person, have been all my life. Country people tend to help each other in times of need. Even life-long enemies will pull their weight in forest fires, floods, tornados, you name it and people ready to shoot each other over a long forgotten argument; will risk their own life to help each other out in any calamity. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, many times. City folks are different.
The man lay on the sidewalk, eyes rolled back, trembling right through his body, his wife knelt next to him crying and shouting for somebody to help. It was a busy street, yellow cabs, sedans, cycling messengers weaving in and out of traffic. Passers-by looked down then walked on, talking to their phones. No one stopped, nobody cared.
I knelt down opposite the woman, undid the man’s tie and top buttons and started pumping at his chest; I put my lips to his and blew. Pumped his chest, put my lips to his and blew, over and over.
From the corner of my eye I saw a Harley motorcycle stop by the kerb and heard the officer call in for a medical pick-up at that location. The officer did not dismount.
I continued with the CPR.
“Hey white-dude’s making out with a nigger-dude right here on the sidewalk man!” A group of youths walked past laughing, pushing at each other to add even more comments. I took a break to look into the woman’s eyes. She didn’t have to say what was in her terrified look, I could see she didn’t want me to stop, so I continued. The man’s eyes, now unfocused stared blankly up to the sky; he was breathing shallowly, but breathing.
“Please…please don’t stop.” She grabbed my fist squeezing tightly. There was nothing else I could do. She looked at the officer sitting on his Harley.
“Why can’t you do something?” She implored him.
“They’re right here they’ll take care of this for ye,’” he pointed at the approaching ambulance.
The crew rushed out and I moved away for them to take over, I walked around and helped the woman up from her knees. She nearly collapsed back down to the floor.
“Cardiac arrest. But he’s stabilised, let’s move, we need to take him in.”
They put the man on a gurney and wheeled him in to the back of the ambulance. The woman just would not let go my hand and pulled me in with her following her husband into the back. The medics slammed the door and the ambulance took off.
“He’s in good hands now, you don’t need me any more,” I said, half realising that I was not going to be able to get away anyway.
“You saved his life, the Good Lord sent you, you saved his life,” she said, squeezing my hand.
The medics worked on the man, placing an oxygen mask and injecting something into his arms. We watched on silently until we stopped outside the hospital and got out the back for them to roll him out and into the building. We followed closely behind.
A nurse stopped us and pointed to seats outside the room the man was wheeled into. We sat together waiting.
“Thank you Lord, thank you for sending this young man to save my husband’s life today.”
I let her cry her emotions out still holding my hand tight. I had nothing to say that would help her, so I just sat there wondering how I was going to get myself out of this situation without hurting her even more.
“You saved his life,” she said, squeezing my hand again.
“Just happened to be me walking past at the time, that was all, I’m on vacation here; I was on my way to the Art Museum.”
“God sent you.”
“Well, if that’s the way you care to see it—”
“You do believe in God, don’t you?”
“Actually ma’am, I really have always had a kind of doubt about all that—”
“But God is life; young man, and life is God, and God sent you to me today.”
We sat there quietly for a few minutes. I was just about to pluck up the courage to say I should be thinking about moving on, when a doctor came out of the room and walked solemnly towards us.
“I’m terribly sorry; I have to inform you that Mr Fisher didn’t make it…we tried everything we could, but he suffered a major pulmonary throm… a cardiac arrest, I’m truly sorry Mrs Fisher…”
The woman was lost. I couldn’t just leave her. I told the staff that we would be back to complete the paperwork later that afternoon. We both needed some air and an excuse to leave that clinical scene of desperate sorrow.
Buying two cartons of coffee, and walking all the way to the centre of the park; she didn’t say a word. We found an empty seat right across from a fountain featuring a sculpture as the centre piece. As I handed her the coffee I noticed she was crying.
“The Bethesda Fountain…” she said quietly, “the Lord was among his people at the pool of Bethesda,near the house of Mercy. The fountain is also known as ‘The Angel of the Waters’…I’ve just realised, please forgive me, I don’t know your name.”
“Name’s ‘Brent,’ ‘Brent Stebbins,’ though most folks call me ‘Scooter’ on account of my interest in Rodeo riding, haven’t done that for a while now, but the name’s kinda stuck.”
“Muriel Fisher, my husband’s name’s….was… Moses, and like you Brent, he was a very kind and good man.”
“Well; as I said, I just happened to be walking by—”
“You heard what those white children were laughing at; when you were breathing life back into my husband?”
“Oh ma’am, pay no heed to that, you get folks that say things like that all over, it’s just ignorance is all that is.”
“I have been ignoring it all my life Brent. With the Good Lord’s help all our kind have been ignoring it.”
“Well see… this is where…this is where I start having my doubts. We being a different colour makes no difference to me, never has, never will…but I just really find it impossible to understand your folks belief in the holy trinity thing, after all you’ve been through. Hell I admire it; just don’t get it is all. Not after all your people have been through; no-way would I believe in a God, it just aint right.”
“But the way we treat each other in this world is not up to God Brent. Young, innocent children of all nations and colour suffer all the time, they always have, always will. But that’s our own doing not God’s, you shouldn’t see it that way.”
“Ain’t no other way I can see it. There’s been too much suffering already, and it don’t seem to be getting any better, God or no God. But if God is responsible for everything in this world, then he’s also responsible for the suffering. Can’t split one from the other, either he is or he ain’t, and if he ain’t then why bother asking him for his salvation, ‘cos it never ever comes. It’s either that or he chooses who to help. My opinion is he’s helping the wrong folks out. If you look at your own history, all it means if you do believe in God, is that God is a white dude, who’s let other white dudes hang their prejudices from the nearest tree. He’s allowed that to happen. He hasn’t stopped it. No ma’am, I prefer to think that he don’t exist at all. But I still admire you for your faith, if that’s what gets you along, that’s fine by me.”
“God and angels like you Brent, is what gets me along. You will begin to understand that prejudice, like death, is a fact of life and it isn’t how long we live, but more about how we live it. We have to accept life as it is, but people with compassion, people like you Brent make this journey easier. Thank you so much for helping me in my own journey today.”
She grabbed my hand and placed it to her lips, then, she stood up and slowly turned away retracing the steps we had both taken getting here.