(Love for the wilderness of sin)




Jermaine Reynolds




It was the strangest thing. A man walked up to me and said that he had something that belonged to me. I told him that I lost nothing that I knew of. He told me ‘how could I know what I lost if I was unaware of all my possessions’. I wondered briefly if he was a lawyer coming to tell me my absentee father had passed away and left everything to his oldest sibling who would be me. I asked the man what he had that he thought was mine and he pulled a rock out of his pocket. A rock encased in glass.

       I told him it was an interesting paper weight but it wasn’t mine. He told me I should take it anyway being that he was drawn to give it to me. Normally, I would have told him to beat it by now yet I was caught up in the strange exchange. He pushed the glass encased rock at me and the moment it touched my hand, I felt a squeezing and pulling sensation along with the sound of a loud, continuous hum. The next thing I know I’m surrounded by trees. Three men were standing under an arching branch, staring at me intently.

       I feel I’m above the race thing yet it was more than a little disconcerting to find myself the target of such intense scrutiny from three white men dressed like text book slave owners. As clarity became more imposing I discovered that the clothes and ages of all three did differ. The boyish looking one told me to relax and not to depend on my expectations so much. I asked who they were and the same one answered me.

  “I’m sure you heard of us.” He told me mischievously. “allow me to introduce to you, Jacques de molay.” The slender, authorative figure stepped forward and bowed his head slightly in salute. Jacques de molay was supposed to have been the last known grandmaster of the templar’s knights. He was the only one wearing a cape so I was sure I would have no problem distinguishing him from the others.

  “next, I would like to introduce, the Marquise de sade!” the oldest looking amongst them stepped forward and bowed gravely at me, with a comical look in his eyes. He looked like a picture out of old England with the rolled hair and ruffled shirt. I knew of him, through my readings, as the father of modern ‘sadism’.

 “last, but not least, I introduce to you, myself, The ever vibrant ‘mark twain’!” the youthful one revealed himself. Of course I knew of the young writer and adventurer who was mark twain. He wore his pants tucked into his boots, a shirt with less ruffles than the Marquise’s. there was a red and black feather in the jaunty cap he wore.

“we have words for you, Jermaine.” Mr. twain told me solemnly.

“am I dead?” I asked. It was a logical question, I felt, being that the disease in question plagued them already. The marquise de sade stepped forward to answer me.

“Death has a lot of meanings my friend. Which one do you refer to?” he asked me. I didn’t answer right away so Mr. Twain decided to take the reigns of the conversation again.

“didn’t you always want to walk through the woods, Jermaine?” he asked, eyes twinkling. “you’re wasting your experience on almost unexplainable things when one of your dreams is in front of you waiting to be fulfilled!”

Mark twain laughed abandoningly then ran, leaped between some trees, and rolled around on the grass. He then came back to stand with his constituents only to stare at me solemnly. I didn’t know whether to be amazed, offended, or overwhelmed by absurdity. I did what I always do when I am unsure and left it to faith. I walked with them a ways in silence for a while. At one point the woods became thick and dense before we came to a clearing. There was a large oval stone in the center of the square clearing. Smaller stones circled the larger and my observation was the stones represented a table and seats. Jacques de molay motioned for me to sit and four stones remained after we were seated. I also noticed that the air was different in this clearing. It was like inhaling the aroma of my favorite meal and whatever hunger pangs I had were satisfied with my breathing. I felt other subtlety blatant things happening to my senses as well yet a part of me felt detached and attentive to what was happening in front of me with these men. There was no urgency or desperation at all in that moment and I truly understood the meaning, the root of conversation.

“we know that you have many questions, Jermaine, and so we will answer a few and hope they answer most for you.” Mark twain told me.

“yes!” the marquise de sade interjected.

“you may ask us one question each.” He said thoughtfully. “I must warn you though, with satisfaction the hunger for more grows.”

“Don’t attempt to re- confuse the man, marquise.” Jacques de molay admonished the marquise de Sade. “save your sadism for your leisure.”

“I am always at leisure my dear sir!” the marquise de sade roared in mock offense drawing a belly laugh from mark twain. Jacques de molay sighed and turned his attention back to me.

“do you know what questions are the most paramount in your mind?” he asked me directly. The other two were staring at me with focused attention as well and the impression of that attention could be taken as spiritual molestation with the intensity at which it was being emoted. Yet clarity was friend and I knew what I needed to ask.

“yes.” I answered Jacques and turned to the marquise de sade. “my first question is for you. Marquise de sade; if life is balanced, then why is death longer than life?”

They all looked as if they were contemplating me rather than the question I just asked.

“Did you know that the same faces that are made in pain are the same ones made in pleasure?” marquise de sade asked me.

“really?” mark twain asked, looking curious.

“indeed.” The marquise de sade confirmed. “convince a woman to lift a heavy load, close your eyes, and compare my friend.”

“interesting.” Mark twain looked deep in thought.

“you must answer jermaine’s question, marquise.” Jacques de molay reminded the marquise de sade.

“oh yes.” The marquise responded like he just now remembered I asked a question only a few moments ago. “well, how do you know you’re not dead already and being prepared for life?”

I must of made a face because mark twain burst out in laughter. Jacques de molay shook his head disapprovingly. The marquise de sade folded his hands and rested his chin on them as he watched me with an innocent, yet smug, smile. I came to the conclusion that was the only answer I was going to get so I stored it in my mind and moved on. I turned to Jacques de molay.

“if there is a god, what is the purpose of suffering when most gods promise peace for obedience and boast of their graciousness?” I asked.

“that’s a lot of questions.” Mark twain accused.

“you noticed also?” the marquise de sade sided with mark twain.

“enough.” Jacques de molay ordered calmly, like a relative used to his family ‘acting up’ when company comes around.

“we must crawl before we walk and walk upright.” He said authoritively. “if there were a god, how could he have weaklings or cowards guarding the gates of heaven?” he asked me forcefully. “respect and appreciate every aspect of your training, brother.” He warned me.

“of course.” I smiled and saluted. “you honor me with your wisdom father.” I told him sincerely.  

“you honor me with your wisdom.” The marquise de sade mimicked me to the delight of mark twain.

“don’t pay that sadist any mind.” Jacques de molay advised me.

“didn’t they name the day of bad luck after you? And I’m the sadist!” the marquise de sade quipped sending mark twain into tears of laughter and to holding his sides.”

“behold the perils of being the product of various institutions.” Jacques de molay told me almost pityingly. “the lost of good sense and tact!”

Mark twain went into even deeper fits of laughter. I sensed a bond, a camaraderie between them I only experienced, ironically, with people I was institutionalized with. There are not many places on earth, except an institution, where one could have a conversation without offending the person one is talking to. Mark twain came to his feet, eyes sparkling and face glowing with mirth. He affected an aura of innocence as he rocked back and forth between the heels and the balls of his feet. I couldn’t keep from laughing.

“finally! He has arrived!” mark twain declared comically. Even Jacques de molay burst out in laughter at that one.

“well, come on with it lad.” Mark told me with mirth. I almost thought he looked a little too young to be calling me lad until I reminded myself about our timelines, if they even existed anymore.

“my question for you mr. twain.” I began. “at what point can a person find true and lasting happiness, if it exists?”

“that’s three questions, my friend.” He told me smiling. “being that you answered one I will answer one and maybe the bond of our answers will breed the answer to the third.”

“eloquent!” the marquise de sade said clapping. “absolutely eloquent.”

Mark twain smiled, then his countenance became sad, almost disappointed.

“you draw the chart my friend. Cut the bowlines and sail!”    

he declared as I found myself back at the intersection with my hand outstretched. An elderly woman took my hand and I didn’t stop to think as I looked both ways then walked her  across the street.



                                                                         ©2012 jermaine reynolds










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