A stranger stood by Levi’s lilac field on edge of town, he was tuning his guitar and smoking a rizla roll up cigarette that drooped like a small white comma from his mouth. He looked at me and smiled. I returned his smile and asked him: “Where are you going friend?” He shrugged his shoulders. “That depends,” he said.
“Depends on what?”
“On what direction, the first car or truck that pulls up is heading. Or on something occurring, like a stranger offering me a meal or on the offer of a job? Picking lilacs in the fields for instance. It depends on everything and nothing in equal amounts, I guess,” the stranger said, winking and tightening the E string on his guitar.
I liked this stranger. I thought of offering to buy him dinner but I was hard up at the time and was late for work. I said goodbye and walked into town. I work in a library. My hobbies are travelling and taking photographs. But who cares right? This is not a friggin application, it’s a story about missed opportunities. Is that what it is?
Dust settles on the shelves of philosophy. Under Romance the shelves are always clean from wishful thinking. Travel; Literature; Sci-fi; Sport are all the same. My town, is a small town.
Brian Goldsmith saved a cat who had climbed up the oak tree in Levi’s field. That made front page in the weekly gazette. Although, Frank Nice (reporter for the gazette), told me, in reality, the cat leapt into Brian’s arms, frightening the bejesus out of him. However, the editor preferred the heroic farmer story. “People need cheering up”, he said. “Hope. Hope sells newspapers!” That’s one of Zack Rockford’s catchphrases. He’s the edited by the way, in case you didn’t work that out.
“So, how’s this a story of missed opportunity?” I hear you say. I’m coming to that. Thing is, it’s hard to believe, and I know some of you have a problem with believing things. I know because I’m in your camp, although I pitch my tent at the edge of the field I guess.
Thursday morning and Frank Nice comes running into the library saying: “William, he’s come! He’s here! Where’s the religion and philosophy shelf?”
I walk him to the “religion and philosophy” section and even dust off the shelf for him. Frank’s not the excitable kind so I ask him as his grabbing books from the shelf like a looter in a jewelers, who he’s talking about.
“I’m talking about Him!” says Frank nodding with his head at a depiction of Jesus on the front cover of a Bible. In the picture, Jesus is knocking on a cottage door holding a lamp. I recognise the picture as ‘The light of the world’ from an online art course I did a couple of years ago.
I help Frank with his pile of books as he sits down and starts reading and taking notes. “I don’t follow you Frank?” I tell him.
“So, I received a call from Ted at the police station” he starts explaining, “saying there had been a disturbance at Tellford County Hospital. Apparently, some stranger walked into the hospital and randomly started talking to patience and, well, healing them. He touched some blind guy’s eyes and now the blind guy, says he can see. A woman, who was dying with infection, is now miraculously running around the place screaming out “Hallelujah!” The whole thing caused a bit of a riot so the hospital called the police to arrest the guy for disturbing the peace.”
“So, if it’s all fake news, why are you here?”
“Zack, of course. He says, he wants a ‘second coming’ story. I’m going to see the guy now, police detained him in Hope Springs, which is ironic I guess. You wanna come?”
‘Could it be the same guy?’ I thought. I considered going of course. But closing the library in a small town is a hanging offence, right? I declined Franks offer. Just as he was leaving I said “What if it’s true? What if he really is the Messiah?” Frank burst out laughing.
“Hey, I have to write this stuff, I don’t have to believe it. Better keep those shelves clean William, there may be a lot of interest in religion and philosophy over the next week or so. After that you can let the dust settle again, I kinda like that look.”
I passed the lilac fields on the way home. No one was around, so I knelt down and touched the ground where the stranger had been laying. I felt lifted, like you do when you’re seeing a beautiful sunset. I also felt hollow, like I knew I had missed an opportunity.
I headed home, weighing up these feelings.
©DMM photo by @geordannatheartist