Ticket To Ride, Chapter 9: Is there a place for the hopeless sinner…

Nine

One love, one heart

let’s join together and I will feel all right.

Is there a place for the hopeless sinner,

who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?

– Bob Marley

 

Back in the truck Morgan pushes in a Bob Marley tape. The first song was “One Love”, the ska version, in two/four time. Morgan drove faster on the way back. The sugar cane waved like dislocated arms flailing against a now grayish, windy sky. Neither Psalm nor Morgan spoke. It was as if the wind, blowing forcefully now, had created a vacuum that threatened to steal their breath, and the island seemed to lean to one side.

When they got back to the store they began to unload the cold produce. Throughout the hour of this process Psalm nervously asked passersby if they were happy. Some said yes, one asked what happiness meant, some just smiled. Morgan and Psalm didn’t speak to one another. Psalm had grown very tired and looked ready for sleep.

When they finished unloading, Morgan parked the truck in its usual resting place, and he and Psalm parted for the rest of the afternoon.

Morgan decided to go for a surf in the sheltered cove at the end of the street.

“See ya later Psalm.”

“Yeah… church, right?”

“Church. Yeah maybe… depends.”

“You have to Morgan. You need to know the truth.”

“It’s your truth Psalm.”

“It’s the truth.”

“No, it’s a truth.” Morgan suddenly realized just how obsessed Psalm had become.

“You’ll burn Morgan.” Psalm said angrily.

“Whatever Psalm. I have to go.”

“To church right?”

“You know Psalm, I wasn’t going to say anything but you’ve been acting a little crazy today.”

“I’m not crazy!” Psalm returned, his eyes darting all over the place.

“I didn’t say you were.”

“Yeah but…”

“I’m going to pass on church tonight Psalm.”

“You can’t.”

“Yes I can and uh, you might want to talk to someone who can help you with this obsession.”

“Obsession? You’re going to burn.”

“Go take a nap or something. You’re acting nuts.”

“I’m the Christ,” Psalm mumbled.

“Excuse me?”

“Nothing.”

Psalm had gone pale. Christianexistentialistburninginginafieryhell and motioned as if he was going to say something, hesitated, told himself “Stop“ then returned quietly to his room beneath the white house.

By the time an approaching squall had moved as close as the outer reefs Morgan had caught several waves and then decided that it was best to go in before the storm hit. Beyond the outer reefs the ocean had become a choppy white froth. However, close to shore there was a lull in the, until now, consistent sets of waves. Morgan waited patiently, feeling warm, clean, and clear. Then came another set of waves. He paddled over the first two and caught the third, knowing it would be the best of the set. It rose about two feet overhead as he dropped in. He stalled at the bottom, shifting his weight to the rear of his surfboard, and slipped slowly into the curl. He then stepped slightly forward and found perfect trim on the bending face of the wave. It folded over his head as he crouched, and he could hear the internal echo, sounding like the gushing of the primordial soup. From the beach it looked as if he had disappeared, and for a moment, the ocean seemed to embrace him.

It began to rain as he walked up the beach, past the old bunker, and toward town. By the time he reached the main street he could taste the salt as it dripped from his hair and down his face. The streets were wet and empty. Darkness was coming quickly as the declining sun had been smothered by the squall. I’ll check on Psalm he thought and when he reached the store he walked around to the back, stashed his surfboard underneath some week-old palm fronds, and as he turned toward the white house he noticed that the door to Psalm’s room was wide open.

The light of a candle flickered against the door and Morgan felt himself grow tense as he walked slowly toward it. Stopkeepmoving. Crossing the threshold he felt the tension grow stronger, resting on his chest, as if he was walking between two fence-posts on a moonless night, expecting to be caught by barbed wire. He entered the room. The air was infused with the pungent smell of raw sweat– Fearsweat, and when he turned to his right… there was Psalm… who’d managed to nail himself to the wall in the manner of a crucifixion… he must have put a nail through his hand and nailed the other hand to the wall, Morgan thought, then slammed the back of his hand into the wall…

… the nails now broke free… his mutilated wrists and the rest of his body dropped into a pool of his own blood on the cement floor… Morgan forced himself to breathe and after this breath came a scream for help.

Aristotle heard him and when he reached the door he found Morgan holding his dead friend, crying uncontrollably and holding a bloodstained note in his left hand. A cockroach crawled from behind Psalm and onto Morgan’s foot. Morgan didn’t notice.

“Is he…”

“No… we’re too late.”

Aristotle stood stunned, and still.

“I heard hammering… but I thought… He’d been building…”

The rain had stopped.

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