But for the green light emitted by the radar screen, it was dark in the wheelhouse that enveloped the sea air that enveloped the two men. The Captain was taciturn, and concentrating on his course correction. Young Jack Kerouac was the greenhorn on the boat. He had been holding forth, now, for a bit yet.
“I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn’t remember especially because the transitions from life to death and back to life are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it,” confessed young Jack. “I realized it was only because of the stability of the intrinsic Mind that these ripples of birth and death took place, like the action of the wind on a sheet of pure, serene, mirror-like water,” Jack opined. “I felt sweet, swinging bliss, like a big shot of heroin in the mainline vein; like a gulp of wine late in the afternoon and it makes you shudder; my feet tingled,” gushed Jack. “I thought I was going to die the very next moment. But I didn’t die…” ** Jack paused, taking a long drag on his cigarette. An orange glow illuminated his dark eyes, one green and one red, like the the running lights of an oncoming push boat, bitterly relentless and unswerving. What was the old adage about ships passing in the night? Red right returning.
But for the comforting drone of the twin sixteen diesels down below, a relative silence enveloped the two men. Finally, the Captain craned his neck to take in the kid, perusing him with a salty eye, and half a grin. Jack was slouching against the hatch, silhouetted by the moonlight washing back and forth over his lanky form, draped in bliss and youthful profundity. Jack was blowing smoke rings, and tapping his foot, as if listening to a cool jazz riff.
The captain pursed his lips in his signature expression, sucking up all ‘the silence in the room with withheld witticism, and unspoken irony. After a bit, he picked up his spit cup and spit, loosing a stringy stream of steaming brown treacle, observing, “Talk a lot, don’t you?”
~ Tim Burchfield
** (From Jack Kerouac, holding forth, ‘on death’.)