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Joseph E Bird

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Rembrandt Walker

Three Seconds

He held his arms out as the air rushed by, chilling his skin. His eyes were closed. He felt weightless, as if the laws of gravity no longer applied, as if the magic of The Enigma had overtaken the entire world. He hit the water feet first, entering with barely a splash, his arms forced overhead first by the resistance of the air, then the water.

His descent had taken three seconds. His life did not play out, movie style, in that time; there were only fragments of thoughts. Rembrandt Walker pouring water in the trough, watching it run uphill. He thought he smelled turnips. Risa cutting his hair.

The water shocked him from his dream, awoke him from his drug-induced stupor, if only for a moment. It might have been adrenaline, or whatever other chemicals surge through one’s body in times of life-threatening crises. It had taken another three seconds for that to happen, for him to plunge to a depth of twenty feet, for the water to soak through his clothes, permeate the pores of his skin, and send a message to his brain that the situation was dire.

He opened his eyes to complete darkness. He took a breath and his lungs filled with water. His arms flailed, his legs pumped. Above, he saw a dim light. He had wanted to find rest. He had wanted peace. But his body had taken over. It was refusing to die. He pumped his arms and legs twice, trying to surge to the surface. He was still ten feet from the cold December air when he lost consciousness.

Day is dark, and evening bright.

In Three Seconds, a roadside fun-house called The Enigma serves as a metaphor for the illusion of truth the characters in the novel must face.  In The Enigma, the laws of gravity are not what they seem to be and visitors are left wondering about the reality of it all.  At the end of every tour, Rembrandt Walker offers this cautionary reminder.

Breathe in,
my friends,
while you still can.
When shall we tarry,
it’s all in God’s plan.

Marvel and wonder
at gravity’s plight.
The day is dark
and evening bright.

Live now and love,
while the spirit is young.
In life’s quick passing,
our song will be sung.

Not all we see
can we comprehend.
Up becomes down,
beginning is end.

Worry not, my friends,
and judge with much grace,
Our fate will come quickly,
our day we will face.

Look beyond
what you see
and know what is true.
It’s out there somewhere.
It’s waiting for you.

 

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