I’m lying on my back and looking up at a magnificent cobalt sky. I haven’t done this since I was a little boy in Texas. There is a smattering of fluffy white clouds slowly sailing across the sea of blue and they change into different shapes as if by magic: there is a ship; over there is Pegasus; there is a mountain; and look, there is a man in a cowboy hat. A soft spring breeze coming out of the west blows through the big willow tree on my right periphery. The wind through that tree sounds like a woman’s voice whispering in my ear. It is soothing. I feel safe and secure. I haven’t a care in the world. I am only interested in what shapes these next clouds will assume and what songs the meadowlarks may sing.
When was the last time I felt like this? How long has it been? Perhaps a lifetime; maybe never! I feel at one with nature, like I’m actually a part of the world and not some cosmic outsider who was always trying to fight it, to break inside and make it work for him. I feel selfless and free. It is a different freedom I feel at this moment ‒ more than when I’m riding in the wind or making love. No drug could ever capture this feeling and I should know, I’ve done them all.
I close my eyes and drift back through time to a place in my heart when the world was my friend and every breath I took presented me with opportunity and adventure. I felt an overwhelming sense of optimism; I had my religion and had faith in the mechanics of the Universe; love was a badge I proudly wore on my chest and all God’s creation was my home; all His creatures were my brothers and sisters. I took great pride in being an honest and good person. I was happy then and there.
Somewhere along the way I imagined the world closing in on me. I became claustrophobic and paranoid. I started running from the real world and even from myself. I fought evil windmills. I battled demons in my head and never won. I trusted no one until I met Mary Bethana. She was my savior. She was the goddess that I worship to this day. Her words are the doctrine of my religion. She is the only reason I am not rotting in some prison or lost in some insane asylum. She is the only hope I have of beating the demons that haunt me.
“Mary Bethana” is tattooed over the spot where “Born To Lose” once resided. It felt good to have those pathetic words covered with ink. I thought perhaps, that was the symbolic start of my new life; and it was!
Now I open my eyes and see huge dark thunderclouds silently moving in. I manage to lift my head and strain to see my demolished Harley wrapped around the willow tree. Mary Bethana, her twisted, broken body lying in a bloody heap, has been silent for hours. Now I can only wait; it is too late to pray. I guess it takes more than tattoo ink to hide the truth.