In Good Company - Edwin Gavis

            There’ve been enough rays through these old bones that they’ll still be glowing in a hundred years. I met a doc on the last flight out of Calcutta. Yeah, he was a great guy. Told me too much flying would kill a man. But I’m not ready to fold on this life just yet. I hope he made it home after all that. Who? The doc, of course. No, I can’t even remember his name. Guess he got all you get for being tied down; a wife and a couple of kids weeping over your hole in the dirt.

            Another story? Well, my throat’s certainly parched. It’s as dry as the Sahara here and about half as pretty. I’ve been over once or twice, when the spooks out there needed a few more hands. You know, I probably haven’t told anyone this much in a decade. Why don’t you call another round and I’ll think of something else to say.

            But tell me, haven’t you ever wanted to travel? To take those last few steps and hop on a plane? That’s the brilliance of today. We fly from the stars to the stars; I’ve seen the tarmac lights grow and the real ones fade. If I’d been born a hundred years before, I’d have run away to sea, left all my demons on land. Now, though, they’ll always follow me, those pesky devils. Funny thing is, they’ve almost led them to me, twice.

            It’s always in the desert. I’ve been to all of them, I think. One wasteland starts to look like another, after a while. But there I was, curled in the shade, when the heavens opened up, and angels fell in black helicopters. They say you can run but you can’t hide. Turns out I couldn’t do either. I’d tell you how I got away, but that’s an old story, and I didn’t live this long by letting the past catch me.

            Another glass? Well that’s awfully kind of you, son. What do you do around here, anyways? Now that’s what I’d call impressive. You’re another one of those young genii, whipping out all your fancy tech like some kind of digital age cowboy. I’ve seen the real ones in the saddle, you’ve got them beat. It’s an intellectual world these days, and you won’t find me riding my camels into town.

            I promised you a tale, didn’t I? There’s one promise I can keep. They used to say I was an honest man. I might have eyes like ice, but they’ve been known to thaw. Well, maybe melt a little. What’s my name? I’ve got three on my passports and two more on business cards. Names might not be a piece of your soul anymore, but those little paper squares will never fade. A man in Tokyo gave me his embossed in gold. I can’t read it, but I’ve still got that soggy cardboard. I don’t know why we can’t all be empty shells, if we want to.

            A few years back, I’d have had a face to go with each. I was a harlequin in a kabuki show; it was all a damn masquerade. Just the way I loved it. But the lenses pin us down. Ubiquitous, that’s a pretty word for an ugly truth. Rolls right off the tongue. They’re everywhere, aren’t they? Fish eyed and bug eyed, but they certainly sparkle. I can’t even stand London anymore. Capital of the world, and capital of those spying eyes. Once upon a time, I could fly on a smile and prayer. Now, I’m lucky if my bags clear the gate.

            Really? You want to know how I did it? Sure, I’ll tell you someday, when I pass this way again. But you’ve got to promise that you’ll show me how you nail your boots to the ground. Every time I’ve tried to stand, I just drift away with the zephyrs. No? Well then; here’s to us, a pair of fools if I ever saw one. In the dust we’re born, and in the dust I’d still lie. Look up at the skies at night. I might just be one of those blinking lights.