So, what’s a worry stone, you ask?
“I know what it is, Biff,” said the fox.
“Fox…I’m talking to my two readers,” I said. “Are you sure you shouldn’t be hibernating?”
“Foxes don’t…” the fox tried to say.
It’s a stone, a polished stone. Mine’s light ochre with striations and fissures that make it look like something from a cave wall just discovered by a team of archeologists looking for the Cup and not finding it, and one of them says: “Shit. No Cup here.” And another one says: “But, hey, look at that wall.” It’s smooth and concave on both sides. Some are circular, but mine’s oval. What you do is…you rub it. With your thumb. This is a sensual motion that relaxes you and causes all your worries to evaporate. I’m not really worried about much though. I just like rubbing the damn thing and it beats sucking on my thumb, which I’m told helps to relieve anxiety as well.
“Hey, fox,” I said. “Sucked your thumb lately?”
“Foxes don’t have thumbs, Biff,” said the fox.
“Just joking, fox,” I said. “Where’s your sense of humor today?”
“You tell me, Biff,” said the fox.
Anyways…I have a really big worry stone. So big that, maybe I won’t lose this one. I’ve lost a few of them, including my favorite…one that I bought it in Salem, from a witch. I swear that stone was filled with magic. Sometimes, I’d rub it very lightly and the world around me would dissolve and I’d be walking down a city street in someplace Europe and it would be a lightly drizzly night with the sounds of festivity emanating from the windows of buildings that had escaped a history of wars and our will to destroy everything of beauty that we’ve created. And I would always have a book in my hand. Not sure what it was…just…a book. I never felt alone at these times. There was a female presence. A beautiful woman, either a few steps ahead of me or a few steps behind me, playing hide and seek with my head. It was fun. It made me smile.
Sometimes I’d think about this thing called peace while I was walking down that misty Euro street, smiling.
“Hey, Biff,” said fox. “We finally getting back on track?”
“Yeah, let’s do that, fox,” I said. “Let’s get back on track and find this thing called peace. Let’s see if this worry stone can take us there. And….tell you what, fox…you rub the stone.”
“Biff, I don’t have…” said the fox. Well, trying to say.
“Got a nose?”
“Biff…you really want me to rub that stone with my nose?” said the fox.
I’m not going to describe what a fox looks like rubbing its nose on a concave ochre stone because I don’t want either of you to wake up in the middle of the night screaming like I will for the rest of my life. But it worked. I was sitting on top of a garbage pile with the smell of all humanity’s refuse searing my nose apart. There were clouds below me and the garbage spread for thousands of miles in every direction. The air had an orange tinge and looked, in some places, like I could stick toothpicks into it and they would hang in the air like grotesque decorations in an absurd room in an absurd play written by someone’s who’s brain was hanging in the air. Everything was here…everything we want, everything we crave until we’re done with it and shit it out like the burger and fries we ate last night.
“Thanks a lot, worry stone,” I said. “Just what I need at Christmas.”
“Biff,” said the worry stone, “You let the fox rub its nose on me.”
“Sorry ‘bout that,” I said. “I had no idea how gross that was going to get.”
“The phlegm, Biff, the phlegm,” said the worry stone. “Now, take a look around.”
And this is what we’ve done. In all its grandeur and hopelessness. Cans and cartons and yesterday’s tablets and enough plastic to wrap forever into a non-biodegradable past and fleets of cars and trucks rusting into the air and tires staring from the bottoms of translucent pools and…
“Do I really have to look at this, worry stone?” I said.
“Where does it come from, Biff?” said the worry stone.
“From people,” I said.
“But how, Biff?” said the worry stone.
I thought about this. And I thought about it a little more. And then some more. I thought about it from different angles and perspectives. And then I pondered. Yes…pondered. Do any of us do that anymore? Do we even look at things anymore and actually see them? Do we know our realities, our lives…do we actually feel our presences without having to dress up in the next high resolution app-loaded fifty-thousand mega pixel phone that will confuse our lives until the next one comes out? But the worry stone was right. This is the surface, the product of something deeper.
“You got it, Biff,” said the worry stone.
“Can I take a break now? It’s Christmas. I need beer, wine, sushi.”
And I was suddenly at Read’s Coffee Shop with a white cup that seemed to have emptied itself. And a worry stone that’s, thankfully, silent. And I know where I have to go next.
“Where’s that, Biff?” said the fox.
“Under the surface, fox,” I said. “But not today. Coffee cup’s empty. Head’s empty. Might drink some eggnog and rum.”
“When did you start drinking eggnog, Biff?” said the fox.
“Recently, fox. It’s not bad,” I said. “By-the-way, fox…”
“Yeah, Biff?” said the fox.
(To be continued. Until I find it.)
“This is turning into a lot of to-be-continueds”, Biff,” said the fox.
“Kinda like life, isn’t it, fox?”