Ticket To Ride, Chapter 6: How do you sleep?



Think in the morning, Act in the noon

Eat in the evening, Sleep in the night.

– William Blake


Morgan sat behind the steering wheel consciously breathing in through his nose, taking in the light which, in his mind, is all around him, waiting to be inhaled. He then exhaled through his mouth in quiet relief, believing that each time he emptied his lungs he was ridding himself of whatever darkness might be lurking in his spirit. He then pushed in a Jimmy Cliff tape and sang quietly to himself… the first song ended… Psalm sighed… another song began …Morgan sang… Psalm sighed. The engine hummed smoothly behind the music, changing gears automatically as Morgan navigated each turn carefully, squinted, stopped breathing, became tense, then remembered to breathe. Thought, tension, exhale.

Hot day.

Beautiful day.

Good Friday.

As they approached the turnoff for the old airport road, Morgan’s gaze oscillated toward the left, as it always did at this point in the drive, so that he could admire a group of kiawe trees which rose like old statues — gods from the sea of sugar cane. The old trees reminded him of Africa and the Serenghetti. And although he’d never been there he allowed his mind to imagine the wildness that that place provoked in him. Someday I’ll go there he thought, picturing the pages of National Geographic. “Someday, perhaps soon.” he thought.

Morgan turned right onto the old airport road and Psalm, having been staring straight forward in silent and stern concentration, lost in another religious reverie, glanced over to the large rearview mirror. This time it was filled with the dark and ominous mass of the volcano which dominated the eastern half of the island; a cold Everest in the middle of the Pacific. Psalm’s face, at once expressionless, became pale and grave.

Deep within its vast crater and rising from its ashen floor were several dormant cinder cones which had, each in turn, served to ease the pressure of the earth’s internal fire. The crater was now no more than a field of frozen fire, a slag heap in memoriam of the regenerative fires which once burned there. Only the flower of the silversword, which dotted its rim, served to break the monotony of the scene.

The sun light, which had exposed this lunar landscape, leaving not one shadow in its wake, combined with the light emanating from the driver, pressed in on Psalm. He felt his soul being laid bare. Small roaches of fear scampered away from the light and took refuge in his mind. He might have cried out if it was in him to do so, but instead he sat, in silent fermentation. He didn’t see fire as a necessary force, to him it was to be feared.

“Full and faded beer cans

on tombstones at Buddha Bay,

a Great Remembrance,” Morgan recited.

“Excuse me?,” dribbled Psalm.

“It’s just a sort of haiku I composed the other day when I went diving at the Bay. There were some cans of beer on a grave that I guess some Japanese men left in memory of…”

“Oh,” Psalm interrupted, with another disapproving look.

“…a friend. It’s nothing,” Morgan finished. Then there was a long pause.

“How do you sleep?” Morgan asked abruptly.

“Not very well.” replied Psalm.

Then Morgan, feeling like he shouldn’t launch into Psalm, said in a tone of concern, “No, I mean, in what position?”

Psalm turned toward Morgan, then faced forward.

“I guess I start out on my back… with my arms out to the sides. Why?”

“Just curious,” Morgan made note of the fact that Psalm wasn’t interested in continuing this line of thought, and he felt a little sad for his friend. Psalm usually liked shooting the breeze about nothing. Psalm’s older, he thought, he must have something important on his mind.

Kiawe trees… sugar cane… steering wheel… turn right, Psalm…


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