Retuning

10.31.16 Surrendering Red Skywalker

Esme and Estes get comfortable in their seats on the plane and shut their eyes. It’s been an eventful time in Lemuria and they’re grateful for the quiet on the plane. They fall asleep before take off and sleep straight through the flight, disembarking at the airport in Wingalia, where eventually they make their way outside.

Esme looks over at Estes and asks, “Where to?”

He replies, “Donuts of course, it’s time for apple cider donuts.”

Esme nods while he hails a taxi and after giving the driver directions, they’re seated in the back and off into traffic then headed out and away from the city on a flat long road that seems to go on forever.

The cab driver looks at them in the mirror and asks, “You two here for the protests?”

They shake their heads and Estes says, “Donut’s man, we’re headed for some of the best apple cider donuts in the world!”

The cab driver regards him, then says, “You two local or loco? We’re out in the middle of nowhere, there ain’t no donuts here, just the reservation up yonder; there’s a bunch of crazies there protesting something or the other.”

Esme grins and Estes chuckles, asking, “Is there a difference? Local, loco; don’t know about such things, only thing on the mind is donuts, brother, donuts.”

The cab driver drives on leaving clouds of dust behind him. The sun begins to set filling the horizon with oranges and reds. A pink glow settles on the dry earth all around, splashing on distant rocks and plateaus that jut out of the flat landscape where a herd of wild buffalo is grazing. Soon it’s dark and the cab driver pulls over by a trailer that glows in his headlights, sitting on the side of the deserted dusty road. It’s painted in yellow and purple polka dots, with a red neon sign that says, “OPEN” flashing brightly in the dark.

“Come on,” says Estes to the driver while paying him the cab fare, “My treat, you’ve got to try these donuts, only kind in the world, right here in Wingalia.”

“Man I lived here all my life and never been nor seen this place before, might as well try ‘em; must be mighty fine donuts seeing as how much you paid me to drive you all the way out here!” says the driver pocketing the money.

They all get out of the cab and head to the trailer door. It has a closed window on the side facing them and behind it, in the trailer, a chubby creamy cheeked blonde woman. She has headphones on and pays them no heed. Estes knocks at the window.

“Brandy, hey Brandy, come on, open up!” he hollers.

Brandy looks up eventually and opens the window.

Esme gets a funny expression on her face; she’s been here before just not like this.

“Hey there Estes, it’s been a while. How you been? I see you’re still with him,” says Brandy winking at Esme.

“Better than ever Brandy, how about some of those apple cider donuts, I heard you’ve got some piping hot waiting for us, I’ll take half a dozen,” says Estes.

Brandy’s chuckles, “Little bird told ya’, hey they don’t call this Wingalia for nothing right. I see you’ve made a new friend . . . ”

“Yeah,” says Estes, “This here is . . . .”

“Elmon,” the cab driver says.

“Nice to meet you Elmon, you’re in for a treat though Estes here’s probably told you that already right?”

Elmon shrugs.

Brandy laughs and disappears below the window. She reappears and passes them each two donuts. They thank her and Esme bites into hers, remembering this experience from long ago when she first met Estes. The donut is as good as her memory and she sighs with pleasure. Elmon looks a donut over and takes a bite. His eyes grow wide then he shuts them and eats the rest slowly, delighted by the taste of apple and cinnamon mixed with crunchy bits of something unidentifiable, along with swirls of gooey caramel. He shuts his eyes and enjoys the delicious sweetness; filling him with a dreamy liquid feeling that makes him see stars swirling all around.

“Enjoy it Elmon, can’t get these at any old donut shop,” Brandy says, turning to Estes who is rummaging in his pockets.

He hands Brandy a wad of cash and munches his donut in a bite then swallows the second in a gulp.

“Gobble gobble,” says Brandy, “So you heard the news?”

Esme and Estes shake their heads, while Elmon quietly nibbles his second donut. They listen to what Brandy has to say.

“Shoot, all kinds of things happening in this world while you been gone! The reservation down the road’s where it all started, they got tired of getting worked over all over again, pipes coming through their sacred land, dirty politics and corruption snaking its way right through the little bit they’ve got left from what was stolen from them long ago. They got together and what started as them protesting the violation of their rights, stopping the dirty traffic, just kind of cannonballed into something bigger until everyone who cares about anything to do with this planet and the state of its being mobilized to the reservation to support them in stopping the pipes and the oil business, dirty industry and corruption. They all got together and began working in union to bring a turn around to the way the world’s been working, turn around to clean water being a priority worth fighting for. And I never seen anything like it before! Why my sister was getting married and decided instead of spending all that money on clothes, food, and the elaborate wedding she’d dreamed of, she’d have a small handfasting ceremony instead . . . give them all the money! Couldn’t believe it, she’d been saving since she was twelve years old! Told all my family to give airline travel and hotel money to support them too, as her wedding present, so I’m missing my sister’s wedding but she says that’s what she wants, her kids can’t drink oil and won’t remember a fancy wedding they weren’t at to begin with, and the way she says she sees it, water’s well worth it! It’s not like they can eat wedding photographs when there’s nothing left right? Next thing I know I’ve got friends from all over telling me how they’s sending money in support, money they’re not spending on toys for their kids and expensive holidays and fancy shoes and watches and yachts. I watch more folks head that way every day from here in the trailer. The law stops here and buys my donuts, so do the work crew, the pipe crew, and the flight crew. I hear them chat. Sounds like regular folk chatting, ya know wife, kids, work, some of em don’t like what they’re doing but they’s hands are tied. Then there’s the trucks with water, trucks with food, trucks with clothes. Man they all stop here for donuts! And some folk have some odd tales to tell. Say there’s the ghost of a young man that shows up outside their windows at night, dressed all in black, urging them to go. Some say he’s an angel working from beyond, protecting the folks that are standing together. Every now and again I here of officers and construction crew seeing this ghost and then they turn sides, drop what they’re doing and join what they were opposing! Figured you were headed that way too when I saw you, I know how much you like those trouble spots.”

Brandy stops speaking and looks questioningly at them.

Estes shakes his head, “Nah, just here for the donuts Brandy, your most excellent donuts.”

“Here I got pictures, been keeping records, I tell ya this is history in the making, check it out!” Brandy says, passing him a phone through the open window.

Esme and Estes scroll through the photographs quietly then pass it back to her.

“So where ya headed?” She asks them.

Estes replies, “I believe we’re headed . . . .”

Esme interrupts him, “A ghost in black? Ever heard him named?”

Brandy says, “Ya know, I’ve heard him called Bangla, though some call him the Black Knight, Twelfth Knight, Watchman, Angel, and a few call him the hanged Mann . . .”

Esme draws a breath. This sounds like the story of Won-Chen-Too’s son though how could it be one and the same? She tells what she was told. When she’s done Elmon looks at her with a strange expression on his face.

“Shucks, that sounds like a buddy of mine from school, hung himself this past summer, name was Emmett. Folks said he was loco, depressed, nuts . . .” Elmon shakes his head, “Photographer’s son, she rose to fame on his bones. Had a dream myself with him in it, said he hung himself so she could take pictures of him hanging, cut down heaped on the ground, finish what she started when he was young and she pictured him into his ghastly destiny. Said this was all he had to offer her, his mother, his life for her to photograph and raise up, his ashes. Said this was the only way she could wrap up the tale, otherwise he’d outlive her and that’d be a waste; said he loves his mother, taking photographs of him’s the only way she knows to love him. Weird business, gave me the heeby jeebys, made me wonder whether I should call his mama, tell her Hey Missus I got a message from your son, says he hoped you loved him with your camera in death, but nah, couldn’t do it. But I do remember him, girls all loved him, had that intense vibe to him they find sexy ya know, your story sounds like something he’d do; seemed like his earthly life was pretty meaningless to him. Read a story about him in the paper, he cared about social issues and this would be just the thing he’d try out, seeing as he had nothing to lose and everything to gain if it worked . . . . sad, such a sad guy. Not my way, though I ain’t judging; guess I love this earthly world enough to stay with it, see what happens ya know.”

Esme exchanges glances with Estes. She feels something settle within her. She lifts up a hand and traces a word in the air then blows on it lightly. She can feel it take flight and vibrate away humming and thrumming. The story has been passed on, to Brandy, to Elmon, she can let it go now; it’s no longer hers to carry. PEACE. It ripples on and lifts her hair on a momentary breeze, then all is quiet and still in the darkness under the stars. The OPEN sign flashes red and garishly bright. Brandy turns it off and steps out of the trailer. Elmon gets a banjo from in the cab and leans back against the trailer, strumming softly while the four stand under the starlit sky and watch shooting stars and swans streak above bearing PEACE worldwide.

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