A possible chapter one? **draft**

It’s a picturesque nice fall day in October. Rich yellows and reds are reflecting off the Ohio River creating a sunset glare that makes it hard to see out my car windows. My name is John. I am a father, a son and a rail-yard ghost. I am starting a new career at a riverboat casino. The place called simply the boat by the locals, is a massive riverboat that does not go anywhere. Seriously, I have been hired to be a deckhand on a boat that has only one function. To render. Render what is Caesar’s has been going through my head as I walk the long hallways that lead from the hotel parking area to the almost a half mile away casino area. Ceasers was the previous name of this place. Now it is called the Horseshoe.

Last summer I decided to get a job on a steamboat as a deckhand. That almost killed me. Sixteen years before jumping ship, I was a locomotive engineer. I sat on my butt and pulled a throttle, then after a few years on the job, I was replaced by a computer. After years of manually running trains it slowly became my job to blow the horn and babysit a computer while it did what I had so painstakingly learned how to do. Demoralizing to say the least. And I could go on and on, telling railroad stories. Killing people with trains, hitting cows and dogs. Long nights, cold steel rails. All that stuff of lonesome blues Americana.

Many times this week as I walked from the training room to the bathroom, I caught myself speaking in a low tone asking, “what the hell have I got myself into?” Just today while washing my hands, I looked into the mirror and said, “Oh God, I look like my mother!”

Last night was my first shift at the boat. As I walked into the deckhand locker room, coffee was brewing. The locker room reminded me of the many 1950’s style railroad shanties that i had reported to work when I worked them cold steel rails. Old men, lockers, union stickers and newspapers. The size of this vessel is insane. The hardest part of last night was remembering where you were in belly of the whale.
And that metaphor, be it the biblical reference that it is, is epically applied. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. And that rendering was happening all night into the wee early morning hours. Money. This new experience is going to be a trip somewhat liken to a trip into the hearts of darkness. “Never get outta the boat,” was the lesson from the old vietnam era movie Apocalypse Now.
Flashing lights, bells, sounds, people walking around tipsy like zombies. Regular old folks and their working class conversations in the card dealer break areas. In the belly of the whale. If I was a religious man, this whole place exists for sin. If money is at the root of all evil, then this place is certainly a lesson in “whatever floats your boat.” It is what it is.

– The idea that the passage of the magical threshold is a transit into a sphere of rebirth is symbolized in the worldwide womb image of the belly of the whale. The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown, and would appear to have died –

That passage comes from a book by Joseph Campbell titled, The Hero with a Thousand Faces and explains perfectly what I am hoping will happen over this cold third shift winter experience. I am approaching fifty years on this planet. This job is another bullet point, another journey on a resume that is very hard to explain.
The work is mindless, repetitive and to some would be considered demoralizing. We take out the trash. What I hope to gather from this new employment is time. Time looking out over the vastness of the river south of the Falls of the Ohio. Time driving out a river road that I used to travel everyday some twenty two years ago. I am going to fantasy that the native people, whos artifacts this place is built on, will also be in the belly of the whale with me, protecting me on this moored excursion.

FXEU7592

Two Coffee Houses And An Off Day

In the tavern i was reading, drinking coffee enjoying some free time. I walked the streets looking for you! You were not anywhere to be found! Everywhere beautiful women seemingly looking like I was, for a free time adventure. Looking for a friend or the silence of a lazy afternoon on the town.

          Now I am back at my hermitage shrine to solemn resolve. Thomas Merton and Dalai Lama quotes on the wall, experience rolling inside a mind weary of worldly desire – lost religions and blissful music, a rose above the door to invite soulful deep conversation. Questions roll from tongue like incense to the gods – swirls of past story like endless star galaxies revolve – callused hands and worn, creaking bones tell the tale of a rebellious past that finds me now even more in control of personal passage! In a far off contemplative stare – I am day dreaming of the bright, innocent youthful faces that caught my attention today – their mass consumption of a Pandora’s box of shiny little objects in nice little packages – their fancy clothing, their cultural statements of time and place. Older folks, holding desperately onto whatever the hell was important – hoping what was found long ago will not decay or fail!

          For this time is confusing! The papers are talking of war, again, the drums of destruction are beating relentlessly of a blood soaked – oil drenched unreasonable global position. This day weighs heavy on heart and soul. In all of this, in all of today, and tomorrow’s tomorrow – if your searching for a partner, a muse, someone to say it’s going to be alright? This mind has seen a big ominous picture that tells of days soon come that may not be alright. Things may not just be OK and nobody is going to care if you are triggered, offended, you may get lost!

          However, is just a connective way to suggest a duality of the reality that I enjoy, the blissful alter-destiny of paradox -another way of looking at all that surrounds today – the troubled minds of working stiffs, the suffering of the street beggar, the homeless people on the corner. I was out today, looking for that soul that is scared – for that mind that is open – for that heart that feels deeply all the sorrow, joy and the suffering, yet eats of it like a queen bee fed royal jelly.

          Maybe you were that young girl, reading Sylvia Plath – mad at her father, mad at the hypocrisy of her upbringing? Maybe you were that lonely woman, feverishly working on some term paper – for some side hustle degree – so her career can provide more mobility? Maybe all your childhood dreams of pretty horses and handsome princes have come to haunt you like some sort of painting hanging on the wall, here, in this coffee house, where lovers and lonesome souls mingle – workers toil – maybe you’re dreaming while awake? Lost in worldly demise. The gloom and doom of generational drift pulling your spirit into the cracks?

          Be that it may that I was looking for you – here, there and anywhere god’s children play. And all this beating about the burning bushes is folly for students of poetry, prose, I am settling differences, making plans for a long difficult journey, know what to take, what not to carry and what not to pick up along the way! I have been there before. Where darkness surrounds mindful dreaming like a skipping record, like a repeating message of known useless information. Caught like a prisoner, used like a metaphor, over and over – this life is not fair. Be that is may that you have gone missing.

          Your Saviour is crucified and satisfied with the narrative so long overturned that he is traveling to a new free trade, silk road escape. I can’t help your spiteful queen and vane princesses – who in selfish revolt, have ruthlessly killed their king. Overpowered and drunk in creation spirits, their mother nature gods have failed them. Now they are cold – now they are as powerless as power relentlessly turned inward. I warned you – I told you so! I knew your fruitless praying to symbols and light was dangerous! Playful occult muses were playing tricks with vanity! In this age of digital lost connection, this age of difficult reality and reason, you should have long put away your little girl teapots and childish games and came home when you were called!

          Eventually, I may find you. I’ll keep looking. And if you are hiding behind some corner and saw me searching? If you make your presence known? Leave your disgust of patriarchy to the fires of creation. A spark of light from a hearts kinship is all it takes to rekindle that conversation. Many a love sick girl runs to her father when it’s time to rebel against their mother. The corruption of human love is a lack of care-taking! A win -win situation? That scheme is not for the soulful. To win, you must lose it all and show up to the game naked as a jay bird singing.