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The Carriage Driver² - 8mm life


The winds of time kicked up the last of the dust at the end of Fuoad’s road. The anesthesia brought him to a theater that long ago he visited once. When he arrived at the theater, a beautiful young usher escorted him to his seat. Fouad thought he recognized her, but he was old, and his mind played tricks.His first girl smiled, kissed him on the cheek and left him alone in the dark.

The curtains pulled to either side, and an eight-millimeter movie began to play. The thought that his life was going to play out for him in 8mm amused him. Fuoad looked right and left. He was alone.

The screen showed a desert village where he lived as a boy. He was assigned tending to the animals and as he grew every farmer in walking distance brought their sick animals to him. The screen showed him taking care of both cattle and camels. A noise caught his attention. A small dog ran down the aisle and jumped in Fouad’s lap. A beautiful young woman entered and took a seat in the back.

The clicking sound again was interrupted when the happiest golden retriever found him and took the seat next to him. Another lady with a regal air found a seat in the back. She kept a close eye on her golden retriever.

The reel ended, and a note appeared on the screen, ‘One moment, Please,’ Fuoad reached over and scratched the Golden Retriever behind the ear.

Again the movie began. Two parrots flew into the row and sat on the back of the seats behind the first animals. A gentleman with a patch over one eye asked permission to sit with the ladies. The screen showed Fuoad having, a fight with his father, then a rust covered freighter leaving port of his home country. An overbearing father stood on the pier watching the ship leave.

When the next ‘One Moment, Please,’ sign appeared, two young women Fuoad dated in his college days herded in a flock of rabbits. The dogs paid them no mind. The back rows were filling up; as were the seats throughout the theater. Small animals of every description roamed around. Their owners chatted and kept an eye on their pets.

The screen depicted a small wedding. The bride was young and contented. Fuoad leaned forward at the memory. He needed an embrace, and the golden retriever was happy to be there for his friend.

At the fifth reel, the theater was pandemonium. Birds flew, dogs dashed after rabbits, both rabbit and dog were enjoying themselves.

Fuoad thought he saw his wife of long ago, leaving the theater as the reel came to an end.

The owners in ones and twos came to give their last respects to the man who, after doing all he could to save them, had seen them through the final moments of their pets' lives. Many in attendance returned to their journey with their pets by their sides. In the end, Fuoad sat in the dark alone.

He was no longer in the theater. He was aware of people around him. Aware of their haste, and the clinking of instruments. A monitor that had been beeping somewhere in the depths of his consciousness ceased. He became aware of the silence.

Captain Griffin Chaffey tapped his finger on the name in the book. A name that was out of the ordinary appeared, Fuoad R. Abdell. He closed the book and checked over Nuelle again and inspected the carriage. He reminded himself that he drove the carriage. He walked Nuelle, pulling the carriage out of the stable and checked his pocket to make sure he carried an apple.

They arrived in front of Mass General. They posted themselves between the two gas lamp post, and Griffin climbed down and shared an apple with Nuelle. “We are going to have an enjoyable ride; I can feel it.”

Coming down the stairs in front of the hospital, a handsome man dressed like a desert prince right out of a movie came toward Griffin and Nuelle. Griffin stood by the step to the carriage and waited.

“Are you here for me?” This man with deep set sparkling eyes asked.

“Yes, we are to take you to wherever you want to go.”

The man paused, then took Griffin’s outstretched hand and climbed in. Griffin did not offer the blanket at his feet. The man looked perfectly comfortable and perfectly content. He had the look of a man who had found his mission in life early and then spent his life pursuing his purpose. It is a very rare look to find on a man’s face.

“Do you know where you wish to be taken?”

Fuoad leaned forward. “When I was a boy, at night the men would gather sitting on a rug and talked with my grandfather. I would sit quietly and listen. They spoke of a land in the Nile Valley where date trees and palms pulled the heat from the air and turned it into treats.

It was a land where the water was drawn from so deep in the earth that it came to the well head cold to the lips and as sweet as the nectar made by the work of the bees. The water was so valued that every drop was savored.

They spoke of a land unchanged since the Pharos and the forty days road where the caravans inched their way between the ocean of sand and life-giving waters.

They boasted that there were no women more beautiful than those that bathed in sunset amongst the reeds in the oasis. And they quarreled whether the sun draping the skies with orange and amber made their skin more brilliant. The perfume from the purple flowers along the banks drifted to those in the water.

In the evenings the Falcons were turned loose to retrieve meat for the traveler’s fires. Tents of all sizes and colors protected the nomads. Skins of the big wild cats made many a resting place for the weary. The sky was a dome of stars, and you could reach out and embrace the moon.

The name of this place is Kharga Oasis. A deep depression, in the vast sand ocean. A valley with all the wealth a man needs for a simple life. The old men spoke, as if, all the wealth a man needs can be carried in their hearts. His shoulders are used to carry food to his animals, and his labor is traded raising animals to feed his family. They would lift their voices in praise, and thanks for clean air and deep waters.”

Fuoad looked up at the Carriage Driver, “You are not what I expected. I had in mind, perhaps a flying carpet.” He smiled at his little joke.

Griffin tipped his hat back. “Many stories handed down to mankind tell about what comes next in their journey. If you need a flying carpet to make this part of your reward more fulfilling, then one can be provided.”

It was Griffin’s turn to smile at his little joke. “Many of the stories, maybe all of them, came out of the desert over the centuries. But tell me this, can there be different Gods for different people? There can be different journeys. We have many more roads to travel. And we have traveled centuries and millenniums, and we have trails full of discarded gods.”

Nuelle pulled from the curb, and the wheels rang out along the cobblestones. She was heading toward the castle. She would let someone else figure out how to cross an ocean of sand.

Maria Muldaur - Midnight At The Oasis

Keith Urban - Long Hot Summer

© 2016 mckbirdbks

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