Monday night, thanks to a little virus going by the dubious name of Covid 19, was the last night restaurants, bars and cafés were legally open, at least for the foreseeable future. So, what better place to drown our sorrow than in our local pub in the company of friends? We welcomed them all warmly onto the deck of the Titanic waiting for it to sink into a distant memory of normality – consequently, we did the only thing one can do under the circumstances, namely, drink (copiously), talk and make merry; the only thing missing was the orchestra playing its morose tune while the minutes ticked away and the bow all too fast disappeared under the waves… fifteen minutes left to get into the sloops and row home.
The next morning we woke up in an empty world, a world of desolation with very little to look forward to. It hasn’t changed my nocturnal habits though. Late at night, after the usual TV session, movies or series, I go out for a short walk, a habit left over from the days when I walked my dog before going to bed, but he's long since gone, so now all I do is take myself for a walk in the calmness of the night, after curfew, when all are supposed to be confined to their homes – except for me of course.
I like the night, the night is my friend, whether in the jungles of South East Asia, the desert or here for that matter, the enemy can’t see me, but I can see him. I watch the empty streets in the distance, or the hotel, rebuilt and finished just in time to open during the first days of the pandemic and then shut the day after. Now no more than a dark blob on the horizon, it too sank like the Titanic beneath the waves – who knows, maybe one day it will find a new investor who will raise it out of the darkness like a Phoenix.
In the distance I watch the blue lights on a cop's car, prowling the streets but, already, he’s of no concern to me. Neither is the town on the other side of the bay, its lights already sparse and dimmed in surrender; instead, I lift my head and observe the eternal stars in the ink dark sky. I observe Orion, now dominating the Southeastern sky. The constellation observes me with cool contempt as more than likely it observed the Pharaohs with equal contempt, or perhaps, with amusement. My thoughts wander and I ponder, what on earth made the Egyptians think the Pharaoh would sail to Orion? Then again they did not call it Orion; to the old Egyptians it was Osiris, and Osiris was a god, a god who would look favourably on his flock and welcome the Pharaoh in his midst. But if the Pharaoh had known that Orion was a bloody hundred-and-forty light-years away, would he still be so eager to get there? He would have to sail at the speed of light to get there at all, or it may take a lot longer. There again, he has all the time in the world – as far as we know, being dead is a rather lengthy affair. But don’t take my word for it. After all, many civilisations have turned being dead into an entire cult. If the Egyptians and the Tibetan Book of the Dead are anything to go by, then maybe there is something behind the bright light that everyone who comes back from the dead swears to have seen.
So were our ancestors onto something? Something that is lost to us? Did they really know what lies beyond “the light”? Do we sail on? And then there is that other thing, that thing that Hinduism is quite fond of – reincarnation. Oh dear, I never liked that term, as I may already have mentioned in my short story, “The Miller’s Wife”, but neither can I discount it. If it exists, regrettably I have no memory of a past life. Having said that, it is entirely possible that as a Centurion in Rome’s ill-fated Ninth Legion I may have crossed Hadrian’s Wall in pursuit of a wild tribe and disappeared forever from the pages of history never to be seen again, which of course may explain why I don't remember it... Ave Caesar!
And so, with so many questions and no answers – for the time being – it may be better to follow Alice's advice while wandering through our own Wonderland, “Keep your head!”