7.21.16 Flowing Red Moon
They met in Madasgascar on a boat trip to the Baobao Bobbing Tree; a great ancient tree that was uprooted and replanted, roots facing up to the Heavens. This was back in the days when trees talked and moved, strutting their stuff, and this bobbing baobao was the proudest and vainest of them all. He’d smash about, stomping on lemurs and ants alike, thoughtless and inconsiderate, until Creator had enough; of the bobbing baobao and the talking walking trees. So one pink morning, when the island was asleep, a mist stole through the leaves, and put them all in place. They were fated from then on to stay where they were. No more walking. When the mist rose, they found themselves mute, save for the rustling of leaves and groaning of trunks. Bobbing Baobao woke up and saw what was going on and took off running at top speed, laughing and chortling the whole time, for he alone, mighty as he was, would surely get away, hey hey! So Creator sent a twister, one of those great big whirling devils that came sucking up and swooshing away everything, including baobao, whoooosh, whrumpp! When the baobao was set down, it was head in the ground, roots up reaching this way and that, no more walking, no more talking; still. From all over people come to see the Bobbing Baobao Tree, and that is how these two met; Jill and Jack, on a green river boat trip crammed with tourists headed to the holy sight.
They were seated next to one another and on the blue bench seats, paint cracked and peeling. Jill, who was very garrulous and friendly, began chatting with Jack right away. Next thing they knew they discovered they’d both been to many of the same places, including the sacred mountain, Terranuffa, way up high above the clouds in a floating city that never sleeps.
“No way!” says Jack with a faraway look in his eyes, “I was there studying with Babaji, my guru, two months ago! What a man! I can’t wait to go back for future study.”
Jill snorts contemptuously, “What a faker you mean! Babaji is a three bit con man, false as these teeth I had put in my mouth after I fell and hit the concrete so hard I was spitting teeth for days after!”
Jack is surprised, “No, no, that must be another Babaji. My Babaji was the soul of enlightenment, deep as the waters in a lake; he took me to the most incredible places with the simplest of touches and gestures. Babaji changed my life!”
Jill grins, flashing her shiny pearly teeth, “Yes, well that’s the beauty of Babaji, he’ll fool you and you’ll go away thinking what a man, what a guru, but really he’s a hustler, a bustler; a false guru in a floating castle where fools come and fools go with their pockets lighter than before and some, like you, with lighter souls than before.”
It doesn’t take long to establish that both their Babaji’s is one Babaji, long time holy man and beloved leader of the reverent people of Terranuffa, high above the clouds in their floating city that’s always awake.
Jack is adamant, “Babaji is my guru. He is a true guru. I know this.”
Jill is adamant, “Babaji is no guru. He’s a fake. I know this.”
The two look at each other and then burst out laughing. And that was the beginning of a friendship that changed into marriage and here we leave Madagascar and the wondrous Bobbing Baobao Tree and shoot forward in a burst of silver confetti and explosions to where Jill is sitting on a hill watching Jack play with their two children, Edgar and Alan. Jack has picked up something from the grasses and flings it at Alan who squeals then giggles. Jack and Edgar are laughing. Jill squints and sees it’s a limp dead snake. She leans back and looks at the passing clouds smiling at their silly antics. Above a cloud is passing by. The rays from the setting sun have illuminated it pink and red and orange, it uncoils and expands and Jill sees a red serpent writhing above. She is temporarily awed, then shrugs the feeling away. Jill is not inclined toward long periods of awe at the splendors of nature; a cloud is a cloud and nothing more. She turns her attention back to Jack, Edgar, and Alan and while she’s rolling down the hill toward them the Red Serpent writhes and coils and uncoils, hissing at Jack, angry at the disregard and carelessness with which the dead snake has been treated. As a toy. A play thing. A no thing.
Red Serpent is older than the hill Jill is rolling on, older perhaps than the Bobbing BaoBao Tree, certainly older than the cloud he’s rolling through, and much much older than the ant Jill crushes on her way downhill where she crashes and cracks her crown on the side of a concrete planter. Whack! She’s whisked away by Jack and the children and the Red Serpent whisks away the departed spirit of the crushed ant and gives it to his handmaiden, the Huntress, to fire from her bow, to send it to where he desires it go. And the Huntress, whose aim is true and never misses, pulls back her bowstring and sends her arrow flying at the mark, where it embeds itself and the spirit comes to life anew. This spirit has a purpose. It’s been set to do something. And it fulfills its function perfectly. This spirit knows dharma. It knows impeccability. After all, wasn’t it an ant before? And the clouds roll over, the pink, red, and orange sky darkens, the snake is forgotten, and the scar on Jill’s forehead is the only thing that marks that day as out of the ordinary.
Now then back to the BaoBao Bobbing, where fourty eight years later Jill and Jack are back in a boat seated on the benches bearing shiny new coats of glossy white paint. They’re on their way to visit the BaoBao, redo the adventure that brought them together. The boat is crowded, crammed tighter than ever before. It cruises along the languorous river, snaking through the island, when suddenly there’s a scream followed by many more screams and cries of, “Snake, snake, aiiii!” The people on the boat are panicking and in the blink of an eye the guy next to Jack has kicked the now enraged snake over where it lands on Jack’s sandaled foot and bites him. This is no ordinary snake, it bears the spirit of an ant that has travelled far and wide, body to body, until it has done what it was sent to do once upon a time. Somebody yanks its body off Jack’s foot after cutting it away from the head, which refuses to budge where it is latched on, fangs embedded. In seconds Jack’s foot has swollen to the size of a watermelon, purple and blue, and is growing larger. A helicopter has flown in and carried him and Jill away, where he takes his last breaths before the chopper reaches the hospital. They allow Jill to bury him there, under a bobbing baobao tree. With the snake attached to his foot. In the hospital a mother gives birth to a baby girl with shining eyes and a mark on either side of her cheeks; two deeply embedded dimples. Much later, Jill will wonder what Babaji may have made of the events, but by then Babaji is gone, along with the floating city that never sleeps and nobody knows where in the world they are.