Through the Darkest of Nights: Testament XVII

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 City of Angels

    I glance in the rearview mirror, savoring the sight of the Kansas City skyline receding in the distance behind us. We’re westward bound again, at last, on the road and glad to be traveling once more after weeks of distress and soul-searching in that damn hotel room, in that isolation cell of nightmares and painful silence on Roanoke Street.  

    Shannon is smiling as the first sunrise of October lights the eastern horizon behind us.  It’s a weary smile, a relieved smile that tells me all I’ll probably ever know about the psychic torment she’s been through.  She reached over and squeezed my hand.  “Thank you, Jericho.”

     “I’m not sure what there is to thank me for . . . I don’t remember being much help, but you’re welcome.”  

    “You were with me.   I wasn’t alone.  That helped more than you’ll ever know.”

    “Just being there doesn’t seem like much.”

    “Well it was, and I’m grateful.  I know I can trust you, I know I can count on you.  I draw strength from that.”

    “We’ll make it through this.”

    “I hope so . . . ”

    “You hope so . . . are the odds that stacked against us?”

    “Travis and his friends play for keeps, Jericho.”

    “Then we’ll play for keeps too.”

    “We’ll have to, we have no choice.  I understand that now.”

    “I’d like to understand what the Gateway is, can you tell me about it yet?”

    “If you want me to.”

    “Believe it or not, I want you to.  What is it?  Where is it?”

    “It’s a dark passageway, but it’s an empowering passageway.  It awaits us in the City of Angels.”  

    “The City of Angels . . .”  I looked at Shannon.  “I hope you mean it’s in L. A.  I don’t think I’m quite ready to meet any angels yet.  If there are any.”

    “Yes, it’s in L.A.”  

    “So that’s where it is.  Who else knows it’s there?”

    “Everyone should know, it’s been there more than thirty years.”  

    “The Gateway’s been there that long?  It’s been there all this time and no one knows about it, no one’s gone through it?”

    “A few people have, but most don’t want to go through it.  They don’t want to remember what happened there, they don’t want to even think about that Gateway, they’re afraid to.”  


    Shannon glanced at my pendant.  “You’ll find out.”

    “What happened there?”


    “I’ll find out.  OK . . . so . . . why are we driving?  Why didn’t we just fly to L.A.?”

    “Flying would have been a problem, I’m on Commissar Chertoff’s no fly list.”  Shannon poured me some coffee, set it in the cup holder on the dashboard, and handed me a cinnamon roll.   “But we’d be driving even if I wasn’t a dangerous terrorist.”

    “Because . . .”

    “Because seeing America like we are instead of flying over it expands our awareness of what’s at stake, Jericho. Seeing Americans, looking them in the eye instead of flying over them at 30,000 feet reminds us that humanity isn’t just a word in a dictionary, it’s us. It’s you and me and all the people we’ve seen, living their lives, hoping for happiness and enduring their sadness, just like we are.   We need to see Americans face to face, we need to see their homes and towns and farms, their parks, their schools and the playgrounds of their children,  it makes this personal, it reminds us why every mile of this journey is worth it.”

    “I should’ve realized that . . .”

    “I hope you realize we might not make it all the way to the end, Jericho.  I have to tell you that.  Sarah knew the odds, I know the odds, they’re long and they’re getting longer.  But these people matter.  Every one of them matters.  What happens to them matters.  They’re not just percentages in a political poll, they’re not just statistics in a network ratings report, they’re fathers and mothers, they’re sons and daughters, they’re human beings. They’re flawed, they’re so easily manipulated, so easily exploited by the corporate and political masters of this country, but most of them are kind hearted people, hard working people, they’re sincere in their beliefs, they’re doing the best they can.”

    “I wish they’d do the best they can to wake the hell up.”

    “They’re afraid to wake up, Jericho.  Deep down inside, they’re scared.  They think everyone else is getting along despite the challenges and setbacks they encounter, so they keep trying to get along too.  They keep telling themselves things will get better, that America’s doing OK, just like everyone else keeps saying.  But the pretense is wearing thin, it’s wearing very thin, and in their heart of hearts, they all know things aren’t getting better.  For anyone.  America isn’t doing OK, this whole country is bound for Hell with the hammer down, and most of the world would say good riddance if the flames of ignorance and greed consume us.”  

    “I can’t say I’d blame them . . .”  

    “We need to get to the Gateway, Jericho.  No more stops, no more hotels, let’s drive straight through the rest of the way.”

    “That’s fine with me.  I’ve had my fill of hotels for awhile.”

    “So have I.”

    “So what’s going to happen at this Gateway?”

    “We’ll bear witness to tragedy.  Bearing witness to it will open the Gateway within you.”

    “We’re going to bear witness to tragedy?  I don’t understand . . .”

    “When you bear witness to it, when you experience it, you’ll understand.  Understanding will bring empowerment, empowerment will forge harmony with the True World, and your awareness of what has to be done will intensify. Then you’ll bear witness to others, you’ll speak of what you saw and what you felt, and others will be empowered just as you were.”  

    “So  . . . sharing what we experience at that Gateway, conveying it effectively to others so they’ll experience it as intensely as we did, so they’ll be as changed as we were by the experience, so America and the world will be changed, that’s what we have to do?”

    “It’s one of our tasks.  One of many.  They’re all connected, they’re all in harmony, they’re all necessary if the True World is ever to emerge.”

    “Well, that all sounds easy enough.  In an impossible sort of way.”

    “Believe, Jericho.  It’s all we have right now, but it’s all we need.”

    And so, on this October morning, as we head west through the rolling hills of Missouri, riding this ribbon of highway that spans the Great Plains, as we drive towards the high country of Colorado, bound for the City of Angels and the Gateway, I’m going to believe we can do this, I’m going to believe the True World awaits us at the end of this journey, I’m going to believe in the power of believing.



Skip to comment form

    • Alma on May 23, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Just what I needed today.  🙂

  1. . . . that all sounds easy enough.  In an impossible sort of way.

    your story, in its way, tracks our more pedestrian version of fighting teh bad guys, and that is exactly what if feels like. simple in a very difficult way.

    if they arrest Rove, wOw. but wouldn’t count on it. unless they sacrifice him to hold their cover.

    everything okay R8?

  2. … I had a muse once.  The experience almost killed me!  But of course I chose that so I’m not complaining.

    I think you are indeed about to ecounter a muse … cause you asked for it.

    This story feels to me like Galatea just before she comes alive, at least that’s the vibe I get.  “Forces gathering” kind of thing.

    Good story, Rusty.

    • RiaD on May 24, 2008 at 4:13 am

    humanity isn’t just a word in a dictionary, it’s us. It’s you and me and all the people we’ve seen, living their lives, hoping for happiness and enduring their sadness, just like we are.

    no matter where you go, there you are!

    ….with humans, who live just as you do, have similar problems & dreams….

    and strangely most all of ’em’ll tell you~”watch out for those people the next (town/county/state) over. they’re a little bit strange.”


    very fine…as always!


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