Amos Luck awoke to a deafening crack of thunder. It seemed to cleave the air above the crown of the roof. It left him gasping for breath, drenched in sweat. The power was out, the darkness thick, the box fan circling indolently in the window. He carefully reconstructed a tortuous dream.
Jesus, white gowned, crowned with thorns, showing Amos His scars. Christ’s face becoming Wanda’s with hazel eyes, such love, such love, a seductive smile. Half-naked, open-armed. Birdsong drowning out her words. Warblers, wrens and sparrows everywhere. Macramé bra. Erect nipples visible. The screech of owls, macramé owls, gunshots, gutted fish on the dock, Wanda below the surface of the creek water. Catfish, duckweed. Staring at her clean, smooth nakedness. As she swam and swam, not coming up for air. Lost in pines thick with crows; bleeding from the stigmata. Jim on his haunches roasting a skewered quail over a campfire. Caskets, every person Amos had every buried, lining both sides of the road up to the highway. Jim, with labored difficulty, climbing into the last one, it’s silk interior bearing a pattern of bluebirds. Jesus walking down the same road with Amos; weeping, wet faced. Lightning, thunder every few steps. Speaking urgently to Amos in a language he could not understand.
He pulled himself out of bed. There was no running water. The pump was off. He poured himself some tea from the refrigerator. The rain seemed to be over. Occasional lightning and distant thunder, the storm heading toward Mobile. Then, out into the Gulf. Gusts of wind; raindrops from the branches. He walked down to the dock in his boxer shorts. Sitting cross-legged. He wondered if the books from Herring had anything to do with the dream.
A few days before, in the mail he had received The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley and The Art of Listening by Jiddu Krishnamurti. These books, the types of which he had once considered blasphemous, he now found intriguing. Tossed out like a lifeline. Was this the hand of God? Was He answering Amos’s prayer? Or was it an ineffectual last straw for him to grasp? Reincarnation; mysticism, the recurring advent of God on earth; the nature of the soul and the ego; life as a waking dream; concepts that did not replace his Christian beliefs so much as augment and enrich them. Or was it all of the Devil? Self-delusion. Herring had enclosed a brief note. To my friend Amos, the most genuine, passionate seeker of God I have ever known.
Passionate no longer, thought Amos. Waylaid. Broken. Vulnerable, ignorant, alone. Weeping, like Jesus; wet-cheeked, silently. Something to grab hold of. Words in a book? Ideas in the mind? Something eternal, real, benevolent; something beyond the self. If there is nothing beyond, what meaning is there here? I’ve drained dry the cup. End of the road. Dead bodies strewn everywhere. Dead inside, yet my body still breathes; my heart still beats. Passionate seeker? The only sparks left in these dead ashes are lust and fear. O my Lord, have you abandoned me?