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OUTGROWING FEARCease Drinking from the Well
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Highgee
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Search Begins
He sat in his favorite chair out in the open as always, gazing at the stars that adorned the sky, wondering how the clouds broke and then merged into another. Sometimes a small patch of cloud would break away from the mother cloud and float, seemingly without direction on its own, maybe it was trying to find itself and its place in this vast universe, detaching from the collective consciousness. Also, he could form a picture of anything in the clouds and his thoughts and imagination would take to the heavens and beyond, developing wings and flying off, to where? Your guess would be as good as his. But one thing was certain, his thoughts were limitless. 'How did we get here? What is my purpose here? Is everything or anything real? Is there a beginning and will there be an end? What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to die?'
Sometimes these questions pounded his brain-his mind, like waves hit the shore, relentlessly and endlessly, and sometimes frighteningly. Few times things made partial sense, but most of the times they were totally nonsense. But deep inside him somewhere he knew he might not just have all the answers - maybe that was the way it was meant to be, then by whom and why? Why the mysteries?
Regardless of everything that went on in this man, he loved to celebrate life. Marveled at how the different and colorful species interacted with one another. The eternal conflict in nature - eat or be eaten; life depending on life for continued existence, the balance of a ball in space, the stars, and the people that used the stars to foretell the future of man, the ever nurturing part of Mother Nature and the ugly side, a world of opposites; yin and yang. But nevertheless, a beautiful place, and he cherished it with all the dangers, fears or what have you that went along with it. One of Louis Armstrong songs, what a wonderful world, popped up in his head and he smiled. So, wherever his thoughts took him, he was glad to be part of this world; glad to be part of the love and the pain. But the nagging question never went away. 'How did I get here?' He didn't have a clue! Was it ever possible not to be a man, to contemplate nonexistence would be scary.
To that question it seemed everybody was willing to provide him a sure answer. He should look no further. But who was he going to believe and based on what? There were countless answers to one question!
Suddenly his thought was interrupted again. "Honey, honey" cried a woman's voice. "They've started another senseless fight, and the children, the elderly and the weak are going to pay the price, not forgetting raping the women - it comes with the package." She was pretty upset at the things man did to man in the name of one thing or another.
He ran to her and put his arm around her shoulders. "Everything will be alright." He said without believing a word of it himself. She was no dunce, either. It was just the right thing to say at the moment.
One of his thoughts sped back into his consciousness like a bullet train. Since time immemorial man had been at man's throat. Sometimes it could be perplexing trying to understand man. He was like a universe within a universe. Nature and the vastness of space could be mission impossible, but man, maybe he could dissect him, knock some sense into that thick skull, or rather, see how this well-oiled-machine worked. And no thanks to all the professors of theology trying to rationalize religion and man...and all the brain-scanning-scientists, too.
"Honey, just change the channel," he said, reaching for the remote. "Don't let it ruin our evening again." Choosing his words calmly and at the same time reaching even closer to her body.
Changing the channel was not changing the situation on the ground. What if this could be happening where he lived? What if? What if? But, whatever what if? Tonight he would brush that aside for later.
He held his wife closer and kissed her passionately on every part of her body. He could sense the frustration dissipating and gradually being replaced by something warm and cozy. Sweet sensation was flowing like an electric current from him to her and vice versa. "I'd like to rip your gown off right now, right here and make love to you like never before," he said in a soft and deep sexy voice. She always loved a little naughty talk.
"Hmm ... what's stopping you?" She replied eagerly, already weakening at the knees. She started shedding her night gown, revealing her smooth olive skin, at the same time tilting her head back while removing the pin that held her long, jet black hair so it cascaded on her shoulders. She gave a faint sound and stared at him with her brown eyes as if she didn't know what would come next. She wrapped one of her long legs (a weakness for him) around him like a rescued girl holding on for dear life. She was only a couple of inches shorter, anyway. No one would have guessed she was in her late twenties. She still had her slim and well proportioned figure, probably because she ate right most of the time and was active in sports, just like she did in college, or it could be that nature was kind to her body.
They made love again and again, on the floor, on the dresser, every conceivable and inconvenient place in the room, however. The chemistry was still hot after eight years.
"Good night," he said, still holding her from the back as they tried to fall asleep together. "Sweet dreams, honey ... Oh, what time do you want me to wake you up tomorrow? Remember your big project tomorrow, huh?" She asked in a tired but satisfied voice.
"I thought I just did it." He smiled, kissing the nape of her neck.
"Ah ... yes dear, wake me up at six-ish. Thanks."
He let go of her and turned to his side of the bed. He couldn't sleep holding anyone, even with the most beautiful woman by his side. He didn't know why, he just couldn't, no matter how hard he tried and he did try. He would like to believe he still made passionate love as he did when he first discovered the beauty of making love, now that he was in his mid thirties. Whoever said sex would slow down after a while didn't know what he was saying. His favorite food still tasted the same, yummy. Why not sex, with the love of your life.
In his mind he had traveled to every part of the world and the universe, tasted every food, cherished everywoman, and argued every point or discussion, whatever you would like to call it. He had seen the ugliest side of man and the amazing spirit of oneness that couldn't be matched by the crudest nature of man. With all his food tasting and contesting every single point and the adoration of all women, he never gained any weight or physically fought to defend his points or womanized in reality. He believed strongly in one man, one woman. But the question of soul mate was still hanging in the air.
And the imaginary life mirrored the actual one everyone knew about. Right down through his lineage it seemed every race had contributed one chromosome or another to usher him into what constituted as life on this planet. The final product stretched on the bed at 5'9 with a curly black, low cut hair and a round face with pointed nose. Women jokingly teased him that he looked like them. He took it as a compliment. Like his wife, he was not that muscular. He did not even dream of it, but was athletic. Maybe his birth had prepared him to question things or it could be his curiosity to know things himself that propelled him on this difficult and thankless mission. He was one of many. This was not the virgin miracle. This was man transcending barriers to love one another physically and emotionally, disregarding the norms of the society.
The questions raged on; his gender, tribe, race, culture, nationality, politics, eternity, and the number one on his list that seemed to tie everything together for him. 'Why do I have to believe in God?' He understood why he had to be good and why not to be bad, why to love and not to hate, the God-thing just smelt like a rotten broccoli. But by all accounts, he perfectly understood that religion was not the only ill that plagued man; it had many equally toxic institutions that rivaled it. It was just a fertile land to man's mind and heart; a nice place to start the incision.
"Sleep tight, honey." He forced the words out of his mouth. With his light skin barely showing under the covers he drifted off to sleep.
The alarm went off at Seven o'clock for some unexplainable reason. He didn't remember setting the alarm. His alarm had always been his wife, the ever so dependable when you needed to make an appointment in time. Thank goodness for light sleepers. He got up reluctantly, still half asleep, his eyes still half closed. He reached for Ruth on the other side of the bed. As he was still scrambling around the room a note fell from the dresser.
"Ruth ... honey," he called her but there was no answer. She had forgotten to wake him up. This was unusual. She was the timekeeper of the house. No need to worry about that now.
He rushed to the bathroom, turned on the faucet to wash his face. The cold water woke every cell in his body and he started humming a tune in his head as he brushed his teeth. One of the things this guy could be proud of was his quick dressing. He ran downstairs throwing his jacket on as he was going. It matched the shirt and pants. He was never a dandy dresser, just something simple, but he never wore a tie. He always wondered whether that made man smarter or incomplete. He was a simple man. And he would like to keep it that way.
He got into his old, light blue BMW and zoomed off. As he was about to turn right he caught a glimpse of the two story building he called home in his rear mirror, wondering whether he locked the gate. His stomach was growling. He wasn't that hungry but would find something to eat after meeting with his boss. He glanced at his briefcase; every document he brought home was in there. Luckily for him there wasn't that much traffic. Still he got to his office a little bit late.
He now had to find all the remaining paper work left in his desk drawers to take to Frank's office. He was still scrambling when the door opened.
Frank stepped into his office and shouted his name. "Bob, you're late! Anyway, there's this new project that I need you to work on now. That can wait ... Overseas Construction can wait. Maybe I'll find someone to continue where you left off."
Bob was completely lost by now. He had already prepared for this job for months and now he had to shelve it.
"But sir," he protested.
"No, but sir, this takes precedence over that and you are just the man for this job." Frank said spreading the new plan on the table.
He stood up to register his complaint, yet he ended up looking up at his boss's face literally at 6'5, and a huge body to match, with a goatee that seemed out of place. Taking him down was out of the question. A martial art expert would think twice, too. Sometimes he wished he could stare him down with the kind of decisions he made. He knew of a short-man-syndrome, but how would the psychologists explain this towering one. This guy was no Napoleon. But he didn't have to stand on a stool to level the gaze, he only had to learn to say no and that would do it; damning the consequences. But ... but this time he would do as commanded.
"A new complex must be built within nine months." He continued without that much care about his objection. "This project is important; you know I wouldn't do that to you, right? It's from above. And besides, you have always wanted something done to the massive land that surrounds this building. I can recall you saying, 'this land can house a small city', huh." He said pointedly.
"Let's take a walk. I'll introduce you to your team. And ... whatever you think of them, don't worry they are professionals. Overlook the outward appearance, okay." Frank cautioned.
Bob was scratching his head, a look of what was this guy saying was stamped all over his face. 'I know he drinks, but it's only seven-thirty or so in the morning. Well, you never know sometimes.' He thought.
They both walked out of his office and headed to the conference room that was big enough to host twenty people. And the faces that greeted them explained Frank's warning when they opened the door.
Bob looked at the group and was speechless; he couldn't find the words to describe them. 'Something is wrong, something is really wrong.' He kept repeating it in his head. 'This isn't normal.'
"Here is the man to coordinate the whole project. His name is Bob. He will be back to get to know you guys." Frank said as if in a hurry. Actually, he just wanted Bob to have some time to himself before really knowing them. He knew him too well.
After they had their brief introduction and parted. Bob shut the door behind them and both headed to Frank's office. He wasn't known to stammer but not on this occasion.
"I ... I ... I ... can't work with these people. They will tear themselves apart. We will never get any work done. Is this some kind of a joke?"
Frank pushed his small glasses to the edge of his nose and stared down at him. He spoke in a deadpan manner. "Bob, I hate to play on words right now, but have faith." Still he couldn't help laughing quietly. "They will work with you and anyone that doesn't will be fired." He pushed the folder to him and left.
Minutes later Bob stood there, his heart racing, his hands trembled a bit. He thought briefly about how to approach the situation. Nothing was coming to him. Maybe it would be better to let the chips fall wherever. Holding his breath, he decided to take a walk to clear his mind. But whatever, he needed to gather his strength before facing his crew. This wasn't just him alone trying to figure out why this world was like this in his head. And his head always stayed attached after every argument with himself, but with this group he had to tread cautiously.
* * *
They were all waiting in the conference room expecting a briefing on the assigned job; what needed to be done and how. They sat in their respective seats like a regular breed of workers. Each one was in a world of its own. An outsider would automatically see the scene as a cultural exchange program, but in this case there was an embedded and a highly explosive time bomb. This wasn't an avenue for exchanging ideas; everyone maintaining an uncompromising stance.
The door swung open and a man who seemed like he didn't belong to the group walked in. He was wearing a pair of jeans and a white shirt with black shoes. He appeared to be in his early twenties, but a closer look showed he had aged much more than that. Even his clear blue eyes were beginning to fade. His thick eyebrows and bushy moustache didn't help to make him look his age, either. Coupled with all that he walked with a slight limp not caused by an accident but probably by strutting to impress the girls in his teen years. He had tried so many times to change it, but it had become second nature. He took the first empty seat available. He sat heavily and heaved a sigh of relief.
"I'm so glad I got this job." Den said.
All attention was now shifted to him. But he was oblivious of the faces staring at him. He just continued thinking out loud.
"I'm so glad I got this job. I was at the end of my rope. My life was becoming unbearable and that's an understatement. I lost a dear friend. He committed suicide. A good man, but so unfortunate. He was in debt and didn't know how to get out of it. Credit cards were piling up to rival Mount Kilimanjaro. And on top of that he lost his wife to cancer." He said with a bittersweet emotion.
"All he needed for strength was Jesus, in fact, everybody - poor soul. He had committed a grave offence in the face of God. Was he a Christian?" Fred asked in a preachy tone. The question was left unanswered. Den couldn't understand why anyone would say what had just been said. But before he could gather his thoughts for a reply another man was giving his sermon on the same topic.
"In Islam, I'm sorry to say, Allah will punish him gravely in hell." Ahmed added his unsolicited answer, too.
Den couldn't believe his ears. Had he died and gone to hell himself. His eyebrows came together in a frown making him look like he only had one eyebrow. He hated doing that to his face that needed all the help it could get. But whenever he lost his cool he didn't care. Then he took a careful look at the room. What he saw shocked him; he had to be in the wrong building or room or something, any place but this place. As he got up to leave he heard another voice.
Excerpted from OUTGROWING FEAR by HIGHGEE Copyright © 2010 by Highgee. Excerpted by permission.
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