Friday, June 29, 2012 chained... (2)

I thought about the man chained to a tree for the rest of the day and all next morning. I had questions that only he could answer, but how approachable is a man who has chosen to spend his life, or the small portion of it that I witnessed, chained to a tree? I’d ask them anyways, to Rodnee, to myself, but not to anyone else. The most pressing question I had in my head was one that I can tell you now has never been answered for me, and that’s: what is this man’s cause? More importantly, if it’s a cause that is worth living your life with a chain around your waist standing in one spot, why is he the only believer? The man chained to a tree seemed to be beyond any ethnic background, he seemed to be of all races, which made a religious cause hard to determine. His clothes weren’t a fashion statement in any way, just a requirement for law and, on a survival level, warmth, though it was unclear to me exactly what his survival meant to him. He didn’t sit or lean, just stood beside the tree, his black hair dangling over his face, eyes closed, silently mouthing what could be a prayer or just the mad ramblings of a street bum. What else amazed me about this man was how little anyone else seemed to notice him. In a more metaphysical mood, I might have even asked the question: Could only Rodnee and I see him? On the fourth day, this question was answered. On the second day, Rodnee was waiting with two chocolate ice cream cones.

She wore the same patched jeans, barefoot, with two braids on either side of her head. Lip ring, scar on her forehead, earphones always blasting some lost rock tune into her head. That day, she wore a Grateful Dead shirt. The man’s clothes hadn’t changed and I assumed he hadn’t left that spot at all, still mumbling, eyes shut. I reached for one of the cones but Rodnee pulled it away. “No, no. Answer my question first.” She smiled, and I felt like I’d never seen a smile before, and when I smiled back it felt like I had never smiled before. “You’re stuck on an island, you know the story, stranded and probably going to die pretty quick, you get one musician there with you. Who is it?” Her eyes brightened as if this was the only thing she’d ever need to know about me. Some part of my nature wanted to say what I thought she’d want to hear, because when we ask these sorts of questions we always have an answer in our heads, there are always expectations. I decided, based on the pot leaf patch on her left thigh, the one pressed against mine, that she’d want to hear my honest answer. “Bob…” She held the cone out, her lip twitched. “..Dylan.” Her face collapsed and she dropped the cone on the ground, our eyes following as it collided with the pavement and splattered her feet with chocolate and cone. I imagined that’s what a broken heart looks like. “Wrong.” She took a huge lick of her cone and held her tongue out at me before swallowing. “There’s a wrong answer to a preference question?” I looked over at the man and wondered when he had ice cream last, then immediately felt foolish. “For a moment there I thought you’d say Bob Marley, you almost scored huge. Instead, you chose a wild rambler poet wannabe, way over-rated. Yuck.” Her disgust towards me didn’t make me like her any less and with my eyes fixed on the tree, the chain, and the man, I didn’t worry if she liked me back at all. She kept her thigh next to mine but turned her Discman up and ignored me while she finished her cone and wiped her hands on my pants. I split my vision between the man chained to the tree and the chocolate puddle around our feet. I didn’t wonder if the man would still be there the next day, I suspected he’d be there as long as the tree was.

(End of Part 2)

This is original writing and copyright and all that fine print kind of stuff. Please credit this to Chessterr Hollowberry. Thanks!

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