Sil Worthy Studies Dharma, Part 3
extreme tension on the borderline
taking no pressure offa my mind
cause what’s yours is away from here
sunk in spacetime drinking beer
what do you mean it’s all in your mind
riding The Dog to Port Sulphur spine-
lost in reveries of your wasted life
no, no, no
your clever response wastes my time
you don’t exist, old chum
you never did
hold out your hand, that’s right
hold your palm up, taking the light
not on your hand, you idiot
into the ether parabolically
any ole para- you like
watch-a de spit rise and evaporate
that’s what’s you
what’s on your mind
what’s all on your mind
spit in the sunlight
Sil was dizzy. Fierce mid-morning sun blistered the concrete as the Greyhound from Biloxi pulled into the loading dock. Syl shook his head, but he couldn’t get Smith and his taunting way of imparting the Dharma out of his thoughts. He watched the other passengers line up as the door wheezed open and Bus Commander Bleachard exited and lit a cigar.
When it was Sil’s turn, he nodded to Bus Commander Bleachard, but the man in the tight-fitting blue-gray jacket didn’t look up and merely took Sil’s ticket, punched it, and handed it back with the dismissive grunt of a man bored with his lot in life. Sil, feeling compassionate, almost said something Smith told him. “This is your moment, BC Bleachard, don’t blow it feeling blue.” But he knew better than to interfere. As Smith always said, “How a man fucks up his karma is his business, so unless he asks you point-blank for help, best leave him to it. He won’t thank you for butting in. In fact, he’ll likely pop you one in the nose.”
The interior of the bus smelled of fried chicken and unwashed clothes, which Sil expected and was oddly comforted by. Are there things, in spite of what the bodhisattvas say, that never change? Could this be one of them? Nah. There’s a difference. On a hot day like this, the stench is worse, if anything.
He found a seat as far from the on-board toilet and its noisome sweetly chemical odors as he could and sat next to the window. He had wanted a view of the countryside on the short trip to Port Sulpher—contemplation of nature would help soothe his worried mind—but the plexiglas was scratched and smeared to an opaque fogginess and had been scribbled on with a black marker: You need a new hat.
No use trying to avoid it. Allgood’s arrival still troubled him. Yes, mused Sil. Allgood’s predicted arrival was not good news. It rarely was anymore. Life for the aging counterculture underground of his youth in New Orleans had not turned out happily, beginning with the fiasco of the Hibernia Bank Hold-Up, which scattered the group to the four corners of the globe back in ’71, never to reunite. Allgood’s news would most likely concern updates on those with advancing Alzheimer’s, heart attacks, and, all too often recently, death.
Last year it was the passing of Phlip Overmal, codenamed Pouvoir, who had grown weary of selling hats to tourists on the quay in St. Cyprian, France, and had drifted out to sea on a leaky skiff which was recovered by anchovy fishermen off Colioure three days after he failed to show for a court date at the Palais du Justice in Perpignan to answer mail fraud charges. His body washed up in Canet a week later. At least it was assumed that the badly mangled corpse was indeed Philip’s and, after a cursory attempt by the authorities to find his next of kin, he was incinerated by the commune and his ashes packed in a box, given a number and barcode, and stashed in the village safe along with a dozen others like him who had died in the commune in the past decade. At the end of ten years, the ashes, if unclaimed, would be poured into the river Teche in a non-secular ceremony conducted by the mayor.
When Allgood had brought the news, Sil had had every intention of driving over to Moisant Airport in New Orleans and catching a flight to France to attend this memorial, because he knew that several of the boxes of ashes to be dumped in the river in fact contained a number of old friends and doctrinal enemies from his Red Rosa days. But he had discarded such dreams, mostly because Cynthia had no intention of paying for his ticket.
To be continued
This piece is a companion to “One Night at the Voodoo Do-Nut Shop” and introduces Sil Worthy to the series “Assumption Street” which continues unraveling the intertwined lives of various denizens of Chandeleur County on the Gulf Coast.
Photograph by DC Young, New Orleans courtyard, 1987.