“WELL, COME THIS WAY SIR, step in, come along, let’s get going on our little tour, the start of our adventure together and let’s see where you might find yourself ending up. Which room will be for you? We’ll give you lots of options, lots of possibilities, people, places and positions to choose from. All you have to do is pick. Be picky. Ask yourself questions along the way. Perhaps this could be your favorite place? Remember that. That’s all I want you to think about as you walk through this with me, okay?”
“We’ll walk quietly, we won’t touch anything and we won’t disturb anyone. Some people don’t like to be disturbed yet others are already and don’t mind it. Just observe, don’t talk, don’t say a thing. All the while I simply want you to clear your mind. Open your mind, all your mind. Everything you’ve got. Follow me with an open mind. Open it up… let your thoughts wander, let your brain drift from thought to thought to thought.”
“You’re going to see a whole lot of things on our tour, some will be strange things. Some things will make you laugh and smile while others may upset or shock you. Just accept it as information. That’s all. Simple information. Don’t concentrate on any one thing, instead try to think about everything all at once. Wait for the big picture to be built.”
“Think about something you see. Then let it go.”
“Have you got that? Think… [pause]… and then let it go. Poof. Just like that. Let’s try it before we go in. Ready?”
THE OCEAN AIR SMELLS SWEET, the colors of the red earth are deep and full of surprises, and the soft sands, the green forest, the people from every walk of life can be wonderful and warm. The sign above the exit in front of me is in eight languages and all say Welcome to Goa, India.
I arrive in a dual-propeller coming in from New Delhi at mid-day, though they just call it Delhi now, perhaps because it’s no longer so New. I am heartened to see, on the approach to the runway from high up in the sea-salt air, an endless coast of clean, sandy beaches of white sand, red earth, black volcanic rock and blue sky touched by the large green leaves of brown coconut palm trees. The airport is clean and friendly, in fact it’s weirdly friendly and everyone wants to shake my hand, they offer grab my hand and then sell me sunglasses as if I were either rich or some kind of celebrity. At least the sunglasses were only five American dollars, not a bad deal.
A crowd of people waits at the exit of the secure area. They seem to wait for me since they almost all smile and wave at me, make eye contact and point to the signs they’re carrying, signs for other people. Others are not carrying signs at all but they are waving at me for some unknown reason. They wear mostly shorts and t-shirts and the air is instantly warm. Luggage, yes, thanks, but I can carry my own… no, I don’t need help from a porter.
“No problem, sir” they say in return, and then give me a head wiggle along with a smile… interesting. A little too weirdly friendly, I suppose, but a warm reception the instant I arrive. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something about that head wiggle was rather nice.
GLOVER SHIFTED HIS WEIGHT on the stool of the bar as he ordered another drink. A shot of tequila and a double rum and coke, and the pair surely wouldn’t be his last. He’d douse his foul mood with the sterile effects of hard alcohol, then wash it down like the never ending waves coming in from the dirty sea.
He’d been there three days and she still hadn’t shown. She was supposed to appear out of nowhere, or so he thought. Glover called out to the bartender in his surly voice, asking ‘where the fuck everyone was’ or something to that effect. He was rarely tactful and often rude, but it worked well for a man in his position.
“It’s the rainy season.” The barman replied, as he handed over the shot and then poured the rest of Glover’s drink.
Indeed it was the rainy season. Even in the tourist areas of Thailand, the reality of the slow season meant all the resorts and guesthouses were mostly vacant. The rainy season brought torrential downpours and strong winds, but Glover was determined to tough it out. After all, it wasn’t a vacation.
He took the shot of tequila and chased it with some mix, then slammed the glass down onto the bar in a moment of doubt. But was it pointless? This place of all places, to launch an attack. Flying in to Bangkok was straightforward enough, and that first night in the five-star hotel wasn’t much different from a five-star hotel anywhere else in the world. But after ten hours on the bus, a few hours on the ferry and an hour long bumpy taxi ride he arrived on the far corner of a small island in the Pacific ocean, waiting for his business partner, the woman that might never show.
When you go to bed unhappy, Lenny, it’s pretty hard to quell those hollow feelings of fear or sadness, anger or self-doubt. I know. And you know it too, Lenny, that the darkness and depth of despair that you feel can cause extraordinary acts of selfishness and self-pity, at times… so don’t ever let it get that bad before you reach out for help, okay? Lenny, we’re here to help. Do you hear me?
We’ll give you additional medications if you need them, copius amounts if needed which will generally numb the pain. Don’t drink or drive while taking these medications, Lenny, and for heaven’s sake don’t operate heavy machinery. The depth of sadness that you, as a human being, have shown to experience cannot be underestimated. But fear not because you will continue on, soon to be happy one day, perhaps only realizing it when you decide to procreate just like I did, as a father, Lenny. A father to you. A father to a happier child.
One would be remiss to believe the darkness cannot be conveyed or explained at least to some extent to someone else, either — though it is an intensely personal kind of hell that we all do discover at some point in time, Lenny. We do know that Lenny. We know it’s hard. But we’re asking you to try. We’d like you to try and describe the pain, Lenny, to help numb it.. That’s all we’re asking you to do. Lenny. Tell me, because I need to understand you if you want me to help.