Through the Darkest of Nights: Testament XIII

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Every few days over the next several months I will be posting installments of a novel about life, death, war and politics in America since 9/11.  Through the Darkest of Nights is a story of hope, reflection, determination, and redemption.  It is a testament to the progressive values we all believe in, have always defended, and always will defend no matter how long this darkness lasts.  But most of all, it is a search for identity and meaning in an empty world.

Naked and alone we came into exile.  In her dark womb, we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.  Which of us has known his brother?  Which of us has looked into his father’s heart?  Which of us has not remained prison-pent?  Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?      ~Thomas Wolfe

All installments are available for reading here on Docudharma’s Series page, and also here on Docudharma’s Fiction Page, where refuge from politicians, blogging overload, and one BushCo outrage after another can always be found.

Through the Darkest of Nights

The Gateway

    Shannon is sleeping beside me as I drive across the Poplar Street Bridge spanning the Mississippi River.  The Gateway Arch dominates the St. Louis skyline behind us, symbolizing the importance of this city in the 19th century as the gateway to the Western frontier.  But the days of wagon trains and railroads are long gone.  Every airport is a gateway to the rest of the world now, no matter how small or remote its location.  Every personal computer is a gateway, not only to the rest of the world, but into the past, into the archives of human knowledge, and into the corridors of power.

    As the 3rd millennium arrived I thought it would be humanity’s gateway to a brighter future, but that gateway was slammed shut in Florida.  Instead of a brighter future, humanity’s dark past is returning, it’s returning with a vengeance, it’s resurfacing from the primal depths of humanity’s psyche, it’s back and it brought its xenophobia, racism, misogyny, ignorance and warmongering along with it.

    In this new dark age, tolerance and equality are under assault, democracy is under assault, even language itself is under assault.  The degenerates who’ve hijacked America’s government and media are corrupting language and twisting words into the opposite of what they mean.  War is peace, tyranny is freedom, deceit is truth.  What is happening in America sickens me, it is obscene, it is surreal beyond words.

    “You look deep in thought . . .”  

    As Shannon sat up I reached for the coffee thermos and handed it to her.  “I’m glad you got some rest, you needed it.  Yeah, I’ve been thinking.”

    “What have you been thinking about?”

    “Well, I’ve been thinking about this road trip we’re on . . . about Bush’s damn war . . . about language . . .  about words . . .”  

   Shannon filled her cup with steaming coffee.   “Language . . . words . . . they could be the gateway to peace . . .  but all too often, they’re the gateway to war.  They’re used to exploit, to demonize, to incite.”  She looked out her window as we passed a small Missouri farm.   “Oh Jericho, it’s so simple.  When the words we speak are true, we are ennobled, and all who hear us are ennobled.  But when the words we speak are false, we demean ourselves and demean all who hear us.  Words of truth, words of reconciliation and forgiveness could heal humanity and unify it, if only we would listen to one another.”

    “Can the Watchers make people listen?  Can they heal humanity, can they unify it?”

    “We’ve tried.  We’ve been trying for centuries, but most people don’t understand us, Jericho, they don’t speak our language. They speak the language of the False World.  It’s vulgar, it demeans and dehumanizes them, but it’s the language they’re taught, it’s the only language they know.”

    “They don’t understand your language?   What language do you speak?”

    “The Language of Light, it’s the language of the True World.  

    “The True World . . .”

    “Reality, Jericho.  The True World is reality.”

    “And the Language of Light is the truth.”

    “Yes.”  

    “And the False World . . .”

    “It’s the world as people perceive it, it’s the world of delusions, the world of marketing hype, political propaganda and coerced conformity we see all around us.  It’s a lethal world.  It’s going to be a dead world.”  

   We drove on in silence through the rolling Missouri countryside, westward on I-70, westward on this sudden journey that began in the middle of the night a thousand miles behind us, that began with the ringing of a phone and the sound of a man’s voice on Shannon’s answering machine.  

    Finally, after miles of silent brooding, Shannon turned towards me.  “I’m sorry, Jericho . . . I should have told you about Travis.   I should never have let it come to this . . . but he wouldn’t have listened to me . . . he lives in the False World, he lives and breathes the deceit that pervades it.  He embraces its false values, he seeks its false prizes, worships its false gods and obeys its false leaders.  He doesn’t see the True World, his eyes are closed to it, he won’t look at it.”

    “Why did he call you, why did he say what he said?”

    “He thinks he loves me, but he knows nothing of love.  He thinks I need a man to take care of me, but I don’t need a man to take care of me, my conscience takes care of me, my principles take care of me.   He thinks of me as a prize to be won, as a trophy to be displayed.  I’m to be a satisfier of his urges, a bearer of children for him, a faithful and submissive wife.”  

    “How can he possibly think you’d submit to such a life?”

    “He’s like all of them, he only sees what he wants to see.   And when he sees something he wants, he does everything in his power to get it.”

    “He’s been stalking you?”

    “He’d never call it that, people like him never call anything what it really is.”  

    “Who is he?”  

    “He’s a soldier, Jericho.  He was in Iraq, but he’s back, sooner than I thought he’d be.   I don’t want to see him again, I’ve never wanted to see him, we have no relationship except in that predator mind of his.  But what I want has never mattered to him, what he wants is all that has ever mattered to him, it’s all that ever will matter to him.”

    “Then don’t see him.”

   “You don’t understand.  No matter where I go, he’ll find me.  His family is wealthy, it’s powerful.  His grandfather’s an oil company CEO, his father’s a high ranking general in the Pentagon, his uncle is one of Chertoff’s goons in the Department of Homeland Security.”

    “So that’s why we’re on this trip, to get away from Travis.”

    “It’s one of the reasons . . .

    “One of the reasons?  How many are there?”

    “There are seven billion reasons, Jericho.  One for each soul in this world.”

    I looked at Shannon.  “Seven billion . . . we’re . . . do I want to know more about this yet?”

    “No.  Not yet.”

    “I had a feeling you’d say that.”    

     “You’re very perceptive.”  Shannon smiled, it was the saddest smile I’ve ever seen.

    “Yeah.  I’m so perceptive I can hardly stand it.”

    “What are you perceiving right now?”

    “I’m perceiving that for some reason, or reasons, we’re heading west instead of north or south or east.   Why west?”

    “We’re heading west, Jericho, because that’s where the Gateway is.”

    “The Gateway.  We’re going to find this Gateway, and then what?”

    “I’m going to take your hand, and we’re going to walk through it.”  

   

84 comments

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  1. Except they’re not.

    War is war, tyranny is tyranny, and deceit is deceit.

  2. … how the story guides me first to feeling all the usual anger towards the goons who have stolen power … and then that feeling shifts completely to the personal story, to Shannon (and now Jericho’s) own danger from Travis … and then to something that disregards both of these evils — the Gateway.

    Some fancy footwork you’re doing here, Rusty.

    The story really moves along so well.

    • Alma on May 8, 2008 at 12:42 am

    More, please.  🙂

  3. yet again…

  4. But a little confusing, going through Missouri, then shifting gears and heading west?  Of course, the Gateway is west, but the Gateway, as I understand you to mean it, could be in any direction, north, east, south, west, no?

    • RiaD on May 8, 2008 at 3:57 am

    mighty fine indeed!

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