The Philosopher Red was up early this morning and out looking for work. Good for him. I went out all day taking pictures, keeping up with the local happenings with Big Wave Billy as he gave lessons to two Slovakians without an ounce of balance between them. I’ve never seen two people so defeated…at odds with their bodies, and I felt they could be me, or I could be they…although wonderous happenings were in the works. I just didn’t know it until later that night.
I heard the Philosopher Red come in. He was talking in a severe way with himself, and he’s not a person to be interrupted when he’s arguing with himself. He made a hell of a noise, the clinking of glass, the popping of the cork, a distinct gurgling, and then all was silent.Soon he was talking to himself again, but this time his voice seemed to change from his usual growling complaints to a slow, melodic drone, followed by his raspy and world-weary voice.
I crept over to the doorway separating our living spaces to hear more clearly. If he was going to go over the edge again, I wanted to be one step ahead of the Rude Red Dude. He was complaining about the image he had created around Tamarindo, and how he would never be able to find a job, and how dangerous he felt it was squatting in the Ghost Hotel. A deep, calm and dignified voice replied:
“Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.”
“Easy for you to say,” I heard Red reply. “Living out here on the edge of nothingness is driving me nuts.”
“I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on the door,” the deep, calm voice replied, “It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside.”
“But I hear things…you’re just some guy from a book,” the Philosopher Red whined, “I’m talking about my reputation here.”
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others,” the calm voice replied. “Unfold your own myths.”
“Stooooooop,” Red said, raising his voice until it echoed through the empty concrete caverns of the Ghost Hotel.
“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
“Whoooa,” the Philosopher Red taunted. I heard the distinctive pop of a cork from a wine bottle. “I thought you were going into some god thing, bringing in reinforcements, or something.”
“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
“Sure, easy for you to say…you’re a fragment of my imagination.”
“Sit, be still, and listen, because you’re drunk and we’re at the edge of the roof.”
I looked through the door. All I could see was the red-robed back of the Philosopher Red sitting on an unfinished ledge of a concrete balcony. He held a wine bottle in one hand, and an open book with an ornate, oriental design in the other. I considered trying to pull him in to safety.
“Either give me more wine or leave me alone,” the calm, resonate voice said.
There was no other person in the room.
The Philosopher Red took his bottle of wine and poured a small stream of the red liquid on the open pages.
“There, what’s your god have to say about that?”
“Knock, and He’ll open the door…Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun…Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens…Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.”
“Sounds wonderful,” the Rude Red Dude said, then taking a long draw off his wine bottle. “This is all…”
“But listen to me. For one moment quit being sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.”
The Philosopher Red took another drink off his wine bottle, then poured a good draught over the pages of the book he was holding open, and turned the page.
“Don’t you have some place to be?” Red asked…a sarcastic tone. “Some other souls to save?”
“My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,” the resonant voice answered, “And I intend to end up there.”
“Yeah,” Red said. “Everybody’s got something to hide except me and my monkey,” he sang, not sounding a bit like Paul McCartney.
“Be like melting snow – wash yourself of yourself,” the calm, deep voice said, assuring.
“…like melting snow…wash myself of yourself…” The Philosopher Red slurred, putting the book down on the ledge of the balcony and taking a long drink, finishing the wine bottle. “I’m either going to throw up, or pass out…it’s a toss-up.”
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you,” a disemboweled, resonant voice intoned. “Don’t go back to sleep.”
I watched as The Philosopher Red slid clumsily from the balcony, lie down on my bed, and roll over on his back.
“The breeze has secrets to tell me,” he slurred. “I can’t go…to…slee…”
And he was out cold.
I picked the book up and looked it over. A poetry book…the name on the cover – Jalaladdin Rumi.
I slept the light sleep of a dancer that night…spinning, white-clad whirling dervishes twirling their way around and around the stage floor of my dim dream