A Night of Moonless Wandering by Jake Bailey
Rolling Water, a shaman of the Shoshone tribe, sits on a log and talks with the spirit of Grizzly Lake. The lake spirit took a human form to make their conversation more comfortable. While the shaman and the lake spirit sit and ponder over the earth and universe – Rolling Waters attempting to harness his own human spirit – another bright spirit emerges within the woods. "Another great spirit on a moonless evening. Do you know anything of this?" Rolling Waters asks the lake spirit. "I do not," the lake spirit says. Rolling Waters turns to the dark forest, and says, "Hello great spirit! You are among friends." The spirit in the forest slowly approaches. It appears as a soft glow of light that illuminates the trunks of nearby trees. Yet, the light doesn't take any distinct form. "Great spirit you may reveal yourself. You are among friends," Rolling Waters says. The spirit emerges from the woods as the soft edges of light that surrounded him come together and take a distinct form. The spirit stands before them as a disheveled clown. Underneath the frayed fibers of a top hat, the clown's face make-up is smeared. His clothes are sordid and covered in dirt. He is missing one shoe – a clown shoe, of course – which makes his feet look comically out of proportion with each other. He smiles a wide clownish smile with thick red makeup that streaks down his chin. "What's up guys," the clown says. "What is up guys," Rolling Waters slowly says, looks up at the starry sky and thinks over the words. "You are a wanderer from a strange place," the lake spirit says. "Strange you say? Suppose that's my business," the clown says. "What brings you to this lake, strange traveler?" Rolling Waters asks.
"Just passin' through. Not really heading in a real direction," the clown says. "No journey is ever aimless. Your destination will reveal great truth unto you, once it is discovered," Rolling Waters says. "Boy! look at the brains on this guy. Well, oh wise one, let me ask you a question. What brings you to this place? Why do you sit on a moonless night and talk with spirits?" the clown asks. "I am looking for the same truths that I speak of, enlightenment, as some may call it. It is difficult to understand our world without attempting to look beyond it," Rolling Waters says. The clown looks at the spirit of the lake, and said, "What about you pops? Do you think there is truth in your words?" "There is truth in everything," the lake spirit says. "Boing!" The clown flicks off his rubber nose. It bounces down the bank and plops into the lake, creating a slight ripple. "What's the truth in that?" the clown asks. "You surely are a strange one," the lake spirit says. "So what of it pops?" the clown says. The clown takes off his top hat and reaches into it. Hand after hand, he pulls out a long string of handkerchiefs, an assorted rainbow of colors. A fibrous rope is tied to this string of handkerchiefs. A white rabbit dangles from the rope, its neck in a noose. The clown swings the rabbit as it disintegrates and puffs into a white cloud like dandelion seeds. The clown blows the seeds into the forest as they turned into little balls of light that then turn into fireflies that scatter into the forest. "What is the truth in that?" the clown asks. There is silence. "Tick, tick, tick. Great spirit, the judges would like an answer," the clown says. "The truth, which you speak of, is inside yourself. It is you that has the answer," the lake spirit says. "Bzzz... Wrong answer!" the clown says. "The judges say you're disqualified. Your turn chief. Let me put it this way. When you go back to your village of rock-worshipping heathens, what will you tell
them? I'm a spirit, just as the ball of water that sits next to you. What truth did you learn from me? What understanding are you about to pass on?" the clown says. Rolling Waters strokes his chin. "Ding! Times up chief," the clown says. The clown grabs an overhanging branch and pulls it to him. The supple limb bends beyond its normal limitations. The limb stretches elastically. With branch in hand, the clown backs up to the water's edge. "Strange things happen on a moonless night," the clown says. The clown jumps. The limb recoils, sending the clown flying into the star-speckled recesses of space. Yet, instead of his image growing smaller as he speeds off into the distance, it becomes bigger. His form grows larger until he is the size of the moon. In actuality, the clown becomes the moon. Then his dim light grows stronger as if turned up by a switch. And the moonlight glows down to where Rolling Waters and the lake spirit sit upon their log and watch the fireflies in the forest.
Published on Jul 16, 2012