Les allowed his body to slide forward and his head to fall back.
There were seven seas to sail. He felt the waves gently tickle his toes, enticing him to come and explore. Bubbles rose, exploding on his cheek: A whale perhaps, blowing a welcome? A pod of dolphins to accompany him on his journey? He wiggled, and his world wiggled back, caressing and calling; calling and caressing.
But wait; an ocean of another ilk reached out for him with a scent not of salt, but of sweet. This time it was the smell of hibiscus and roses. A garden floated before his eyes, bubbles transforming into a haze of dandelions gone to seed floating upwards, seeking new horizons and uninhabited islands of verdant green. As the waves wrapped loving arms around him, so did the perfume of dancing girls in grass skirts. Odd though, that they should all bear a vague resemblance to his mother.
He could not linger long in this tropical paradise. There were other worlds awaiting him, other lives to live. Everest beckoned, reaching down with icy fingers. He felt its chill in the air and did not flinch. The Russian Steppes and the Great Wall of China called. No tour bus for him; he would arrive with due pomp and ceremony as the leader of the free world coming to bring order out of disorder. Yes, there were enemies out there preparing to meet their fate at his hand. A new Patton was on the march.
A vision of water fowl on a pond of frothy blue came to mind, awaking in him his artistic self. He’d become a great painter; no, a writer. Any fool could throw brushfuls of paint at a canvass and call it art. Writing was pure and exact. Surely a blank page waited somewhere begging for his ready pen. An audience hungered for the great novel written in his mind, possessed by his heart, but not yet released through his hands. Neither Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Donne nor Grace Livingston Hill would ever be able to hold a candle to his literary genius.
A less esoteric note rang out; one that was music to the ears of the financial world. The bell would not ring on Wall Street to signal the end of a business day without his permission. The markets hung on his decisions, rose and fell at his command. He was the cog around which the wheel turned, and that wheel would crush poverty and inequality wherever they chose to lurk.
And medical science? He would discover the cure for the dreaded big “C”, banish HIV, Bird Flu and West Nile. Every hepatitis in the alphabet would be stomped out under the boot of his needle and pill. No one would ever suffer the heartbreak of psoriasis again.
But how could he be so remiss, so selfish? The physical world was his to have and to hold, but it wasn’t about him, was it? Devils and darkness demanded his attention as well. He must preach and teach and win. Churches needed founding, missions cried out for his leadership and largesse, the dry wells of theological education begged priming. He’d be the leader of the church militant — a combination of Billy Graham, Billy Sunday with a liberal twist of “Billy” of Orange.
Yes, it was time to take charge, to regain control, to be that special man among ordinary men.
It was time …
“Les, would you please get out of the bathtub! I need you to take Genghis Khan for a walk. He’s standing out here in the hallway with his legs crossed! And don’t forget the pooper-scooper this time!”
… to get back to real life.
The rubber duck sprung a leak, flipped over on its back, slipped beneath the scummy surface of the now cool water and took its final dive to the bottom of the bathtub. One lone bubble escaped and floated free. Perhaps it was a sign that there was still a chance that a walk with old GK would be the means of bringing to life one tiny part of Les’s dream. Maybe he’d meet a beautiful Chinese girl walking a Pekinese?
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