Hamilton Part 4 (Image: “Blue Inclusion”)

Following the fragrance he found himself by the side of the road. He had no shirt on—he began to tremble in the chilly night air. Looking up, the black sky was filled with brilliant stars—the Milky Way arching in eternal majesty across the heavens. He fell to his hands and knees in the dirt and gravel on the road’s shoulder. Leaning back and lifting his hands to his face his palms were muddy, small bits of gravel and a few tiny shards of glass stuck to them, blood tricked from several small wounds.”

He pressed his hands to his face—the blood and dirt smearing his cheeks. Tears filled his eyes flowing into his hands—the bloody mud trickling between his fingers. He again looked up into the shining, silent heavens.

“I have been mad,” he said out loud addressing the universe in a shaky whisper, “a damned stupid fool. Forgive me,” he said staring into the stars. Covering his eyes with his hands, now on the verge of vomiting, he pleaded under his breath, “And please forgive me, Sam.”

Sitting by the side of the road convulsively sobbing and shaking Greg became aware the pavement in front of him was lit by headlights—a car engine idling quietly a few yards behind him. A strong, kindly—very familiar—voice behind him said, “Greg, are you quite done?”

It was Sam Freeman. Greg stood and turned to find Dr. Freeman’s hand extended to him. When Greg accepted his hand the old man pulled the young man to him and embraced him. Greg returned his professor’s embrace wrapping himself in the old monk’s love and not since he was a small boy in his mother’s arms had he felt so warm, so protected and so grateful.

“I’m done,” he whispered in the old man’s ear.”

Meanwhile back at the Payne Street Bar, Greg has nearly finished his beer. He gets up from his table, walks back over to the jukebox and drops in more change—playing several more songs from the “Rubber Soul” album. He really likes this album—great songs on it—the Beatles are his favorite group and—being a believer in reincarnation—he knows that the name “Rubber Soul” refers to the soul bouncing back into this world after each life is completed.

While he is at the jukebox a car can be seen through the windows pulling up at the curb right outside the bar’s front entrance. A remarkably attractive young woman enters, looks around and spots Greg at the back. She walks quickly to him—touches his shoulder—they speak briefly. Taking his hand she leads him out of the bar to the waiting car. Sue Anne watches them leave with an expressionless face but tears trickle silently down her cheeks. The car accelerates away—down Payne Street heading north out of town. I suspect they’re going to The Red Boar. Walking to the door and out onto the street I watch the car disappear down Utica Street into the blowing snow. I haven’t developed that part of the story yet so I don’t know what’s coming.

The bar is starting to get busy. Susan will need my table for the people coming in who will order drinks with alcohol in them. I return to the lobby and find a comfortable upholstered chair near a big front window. From my chair I can look over my shoulder outside at the flags—keeping their limp vigil in the falling snow—but looking in front of me I can watch hotel guests moving into and out of the elevator. I’m hoping to see Greg and his friends come down from upstairs but they don’t come.

After half an hour I give up, stand up and turn to watch the snow and hanging flags through the window and think about what’s happened and is happening. The Greg I created is searching for his soul, not America—so maybe what I’m after isn’t America really—but my American soul. I don’t know where else to look. Eve is gone, the death-birds are gone, the searching summer freedom of youth—gone and this is where the road ends.

Watching the flags in the falling American snow I wonder if I haven’t found all there is to find—memories, imagination, aloneness and the self-inflicted yearning that only Americans can achieve—American yearning. Maybe that’s the soul of America.

I hear a banging coming from the front desk—Alison is having trouble with the big gray filing cabinet. Unable to get the drawer open she keeps pulling and pushing, jerking and banging. She’s becoming increasingly frustrated—she has that “somebody please help me” look as she glances around.

I turn away from the window and walk over. I think I know what the problem is.

End Part 4. End story

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