I danced on the ferry that carries the dead across the River Styx in hopes that death couldn’t get any worse than life. I danced until my arms and legs were ready to fly away from my body. I danced until my head spun and my eyes popped out of their sockets. I danced for a hundred years as the dead were ferried to another way of thinking about themselves. I danced a fevered search for peace but peace was just a one two and a one two three away somewhere in the mantle of the earth maybe? So I scoured the rock and iron intestines of the earth but peace was somewhere else. Maybe in a song, in the cadences and rhythms, the ebb and flow of sound arranged in meanings that touch the darkest heart in a way that’s different, soothing like coming out of the acid rain into a hookah bar. I opened myself to the vibrations of song through the centuries and physical distances of the world and I heard gurgling up from the bubbling stew of life…a 21st Century ballad:
My burger’s got E. coli and it’s gonna take me down
My girlfriend’s got ebola and she’s wearing a black frown
My doggie’s got the canine flu and his piss is turnin’ brown
There’s a germ on my finger tip
Doin’ a flip
He’s really hip
A sensational hit
In a world where everyone’s sick
And I got the I’m-afraid-to-eat-touch-drink-smell-or-fuck-anything-cause-it’s-all-out-to-kill-me blues
Maybe it isn’t in song. Maybe something similar to song, and what would be similar to song? Maybe a nice long swim across the oceans of the world would reveal peace. I swam into the Atlantic and down and around and into the pacific leaving a giant fishtail in my passing that got me on the five o’clock news in a dozen countries: ‘In today’s news…giant fishtail looking for peace. Good luck.’ It was like immersing myself in a timeless bowl of alphabet soup. Every algae and herd of plankton had its own meaning. Every current and weather front had its own voice. The depths and shallows emanated their own heat even if only the thermal singularity of a single cell exchanging energy with the world around itself that somehow creates a balance long enough for peace to show itself in that natural relationship between all things. Just as I was becoming certain that peace was a breast stroke or two away, my mouth filled with the taste of something foul and unoceanlike. It was both gritty and slippery and tasted like the sludge from all the world’s sewage. It was plastic, leagues and miles of plastic, a pregnancy of industrial effluent gestating just under the surface of the water. I pulled myself out of that demonic water and walked across its surface to an island that I was sure had no name and had never been seen by human eyes because there were no beer cans on its pristine beach. I walked around for a while, letting the sun dry my body as scabs of congealed plastic dropped from my arms and legs. I thought about peace as I walked. I wondered why it was so damned hard to find. It was something we talked about so much. The leaders of great nations met often to negotiate it. Enforce it. Impose it. So why was it so hard to find? Maybe I could find it in the documentation of nations. In the treaties and deals and lofty words of legalese and bureaucratic precision. Maybe peace was hiding in an appendix or footnote in some well-meaning testament to the frailties of living together in a world in dire need of mutual acceptance and tolerance. And less fucking plastic. But peace wasn’t in any of the documents in the libraries, in the vaults of classified documents, in the classifieds of the latest scandal sheet. It was often defined in terms of bringing it into being and enforcing it, but in all these schemes and plans and dialogs, peace was three definitions and an endless negotiation away. Right where I couldn’t find it and, apparently, where no one else could find it.
But I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
(To be continued.)
“Aw, c’mon, Biff,” said the fox. “Finish the story.”
“I have unfinished stories that I started three or four years ago, fox,” I said. “One story took me ten years to finish. A story will only finish when it finds its ending.”
“But, this could go on forever, Biff,” said the fox.
I hope not.