Vol. 1, Branded Souls, Chapter 1: The Dragon (Pt. 4)

(Continued from part 3, read it here.)
(Read the chapter from the beginning, here.)

Marcus addressed Hart directly. He stood a few feet from him, He opened his mouth, “Look here mutha’fu….”

His words were cut short as a slice of apple whipped into his mouth and lodged itself. He began to gag then fell to his knees.

“Anyone know the Heimlich?” Hart asked the group in a cold sincerity. The group looked at each other incredulously and in disbelief.

Holy shit!” One shouted.

The other called out, “He’s choking, holmes!”

“You know, a great man died once from accepting food which he knew to be tainted. The idea was that it is more important to always accept what is given to you.” Hart was standing and pacing like a professor, giving some lecture to his students. Marcus was spluttering and turning purple on his knees- the other 3 were in a wide-eyed panic, flapping their arms and shouting at each other.

He’s gonna’ die, dude!” At that, the ones who expressed their concern at the beginning, fled in terror.

With his hands behind his back, Hart repeated the words of Buddha,

…Who gives, his virtues shall increase;

Who is self-curbed, no hatred bears;

Whoso is skilled in virtues, evil shuns…”

He paced between the stupefied teenagers who were trying to help their choking friend.

Hart said, “Ok, class dismissed,” he lifted Marcus to his feet. “Behold the miracle of science!” He shouted and raised his arms up.

He braced the kid then administered one deft back blow, as if he knew exactly where to exert pressure; it was somewhere between the shoulder blades but it was accurate and spot on. The apple slice dislodged itself and sailed through the air landing, thick with saliva, at the feet of the others.

A loud squelching noise could be heard coming from the pants of Marcus; fear and his extrication from death made him defecate. His body shook and tears welled up in his eyes. The others began gagging and cursing.

They reluctantly grabbed their humiliated, dazed and soiled friend who was slumped once more to the ground. Hoisting him up and throwing his arms over their shoulder, they hurried out of the park.

He knew beyond assumption that some combination of boredom, inexperience and unhappiness drove this hooliganism. “Truly and ultimately,” he thought, “…Why stoke these fires? Wouldn’t they just the same, find themselves unsatisfied at the end of it all?

He thought about the original motivation of that noisy troop and guessed it quite easily and surmised three things: the intrinsically fragile composition of popularity, how material gain makes foolish people want excessively and that vanity, public image or ego are grievous burdens. Hart removed himself from these vices as best as humanly possible. His was meditation and the peace of balance.

He had succeeded to make his life whole and fluid with his surroundings; those who passed tripped, stuttered and went fumbling as awkward mortals Prophetically, he scribbled on a notepad he removed from a pocket, “The flowers that bud with a surge of sugar and such vehemence in spring soon wither and give way to the mild browns and yellows of summer.

His hands went rummaging through his rucksack searching for something edible to satisfy his stomach while he idled on human truths provoked by the encounters of the day. “When all is said and done, after a volley of malicious remarks and after perhaps a physical altercation, no party is the better, right? Isn’t it true that violence only begets violence, Gandhi?”

He wasn’t quite convinced. His hand found what it was after. He had tossed the remainder of the apple into the bag after launching a piece of it as a projectile into the teenagers’ throat. “This chaffing tension,” he continued, “…Surely only serves to bolster an ego at the expense of the target but all things considered, what good does an overinflated ego do and what vampirism has occurred to swell such a thing?”

He heartily bit into the remainder of the apple, its juice dripped down his wrist and the acidity of the pulp made his mouth grin and tongue salivate the more.

Nothing, it’s all for naught.”

The previously mentioned Indian cultural icons inspired a natural progression in thinking. Hart considered the cheapness and baseness of all violence. Crunching and chewing away on this green fruit and moving his jaws stimulated his brain in some manual, mechanical way. He was still in the throes of pontification, “…That they give so much of themselves away in compromise… those who flare wildly also expose a soft underbelly.

He furrowed his brow in a sudden start of pity for all the shortcomings and ineptitude of his brothers and sisters. He had found himself among the wild fields, rolling hills, sweeping plains, forests, streams, rivers and the vast ocean. His questions were always answered and troubles always quelled when he looked to these marvels of the natural world. “The same nirvana could not be said to have reached most, Siddhartha” He was talking to ghosts that rose up from pages of philosophy he had memorized.

He thought about his true power, his unexposed side that was reserved for himself- his immortality and the profoundness of what he had learned form practice and discipline. He walked now to a roped-off section of the garden, hidden by tall, live oak trees. The grass was uncut and spotted with wild field flowers; it grew up to his knees.

At that moment, he decided to close his eyes. The sun was shining directly above him. He was asking favor of the air in a deep meditation to lift his body; he wished to use the petals of a flower as a pedestal.

He put one toe on a slender stalk then another till he balanced atop its colorful summit. (It was only two minute steps but in their exactness, almost infinite.) Hart defied gravity. His body for all purposes became not weightless like a floating feather or the seeds of dandelions in the breeze but supported by the elements around him.

Not a single drop of dew was disturbed. He balanced his entirety on a nary blade of grass and felt a breeze reserved for the heads of barley and wild long stems on his toes.

This skill came from countless lifetimes of experience; time and all that fill its precepts taught him a secret language that wasn’t available in any university: he pioneered the vastness of his mind and its emotion. These contemplations and reflections awarded him a mastery to manipulate the fabric of the natural world around him…

(To be continued)

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Middle East FS

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Vol. 1, Branded Souls, Chapter 1: The Dragon (Pt. 4)

(Continued from part 3, read it here.)
(Read the chapter from the beginning, here.)

Marcus addressed Hart directly. He stood a few feet from him, He opened his mouth, “Look here mutha’fu….”

His words were cut short as a slice of apple whipped into his mouth and lodged itself. He began to gag then fell to his knees.

“Anyone know the Heimlich?” Hart asked the group in a cold sincerity. The group looked at each other incredulously and in disbelief.

Holy shit!” One shouted.

The other called out, “He’s choking, holmes!”

“You know, a great man died once from accepting food which he knew to be tainted. The idea was that it is more important to always accept what is given to you.” Hart was standing and pacing like a professor, giving some lecture to his students. Marcus was spluttering and turning purple on his knees- the other 3 were in a wide-eyed panic, flapping their arms and shouting at each other.

He’s gonna’ die, dude!” At that, the ones who expressed their concern at the beginning, fled in terror.

With his hands behind his back, Hart repeated the words of Buddha,

…Who gives, his virtues shall increase;

Who is self-curbed, no hatred bears;

Whoso is skilled in virtues, evil shuns…”

He paced between the stupefied teenagers who were trying to help their choking friend.

Hart said, “Ok, class dismissed,” he lifted Marcus to his feet. “Behold the miracle of science!” He shouted and raised his arms up.

He braced the kid then administered one deft back blow, as if he knew exactly where to exert pressure; it was somewhere between the shoulder blades but it was accurate and spot on. The apple slice dislodged itself and sailed through the air landing, thick with saliva, at the feet of the others.

A loud squelching noise could be heard coming from the pants of Marcus; fear and his extrication from death made him defecate. His body shook and tears welled up in his eyes. The others began gagging and cursing.

They reluctantly grabbed their humiliated, dazed and soiled friend who was slumped once more to the ground. Hoisting him up and throwing his arms over their shoulder, they hurried out of the park.

He knew beyond assumption that some combination of boredom, inexperience and unhappiness drove this hooliganism. “Truly and ultimately,” he thought, “…Why stoke these fires? Wouldn’t they just the same, find themselves unsatisfied at the end of it all?

He thought about the original motivation of that noisy troop and guessed it quite easily and surmised three things: the intrinsically fragile composition of popularity, how material gain makes foolish people want excessively and that vanity, public image or ego are grievous burdens. Hart removed himself from these vices as best as humanly possible. His was meditation and the peace of balance.

He had succeeded to make his life whole and fluid with his surroundings; those who passed tripped, stuttered and went fumbling as awkward mortals Prophetically, he scribbled on a notepad he removed from a pocket, “The flowers that bud with a surge of sugar and such vehemence in spring soon wither and give way to the mild browns and yellows of summer.

His hands went rummaging through his rucksack searching for something edible to satisfy his stomach while he idled on human truths provoked by the encounters of the day. “When all is said and done, after a volley of malicious remarks and after perhaps a physical altercation, no party is the better, right? Isn’t it true that violence only begets violence, Gandhi?”

He wasn’t quite convinced. His hand found what it was after. He had tossed the remainder of the apple into the bag after launching a piece of it as a projectile into the teenagers’ throat. “This chaffing tension,” he continued, “…Surely only serves to bolster an ego at the expense of the target but all things considered, what good does an overinflated ego do and what vampirism has occurred to swell such a thing?”

He heartily bit into the remainder of the apple, its juice dripped down his wrist and the acidity of the pulp made his mouth grin and tongue salivate the more.

Nothing, it’s all for naught.”

The previously mentioned Indian cultural icons inspired a natural progression in thinking. Hart considered the cheapness and baseness of all violence. Crunching and chewing away on this green fruit and moving his jaws stimulated his brain in some manual, mechanical way. He was still in the throes of pontification, “…That they give so much of themselves away in compromise… those who flare wildly also expose a soft underbelly.

He furrowed his brow in a sudden start of pity for all the shortcomings and ineptitude of his brothers and sisters. He had found himself among the wild fields, rolling hills, sweeping plains, forests, streams, rivers and the vast ocean. His questions were always answered and troubles always quelled when he looked to these marvels of the natural world. “The same nirvana could not be said to have reached most, Siddhartha” He was talking to ghosts that rose up from pages of philosophy he had memorized.

He thought about his true power, his unexposed side that was reserved for himself- his immortality and the profoundness of what he had learned form practice and discipline. He walked now to a roped-off section of the garden, hidden by tall, live oak trees. The grass was uncut and spotted with wild field flowers; it grew up to his knees.

At that moment, he decided to close his eyes. The sun was shining directly above him. He was asking favor of the air in a deep meditation to lift his body; he wished to use the petals of a flower as a pedestal.

He put one toe on a slender stalk then another till he balanced atop its colorful summit. (It was only two minute steps but in their exactness, almost infinite.) Hart defied gravity. His body for all purposes became not weightless like a floating feather or the seeds of dandelions in the breeze but supported by the elements around him.

Not a single drop of dew was disturbed. He balanced his entirety on a nary blade of grass and felt a breeze reserved for the heads of barley and wild long stems on his toes.

This skill came from countless lifetimes of experience; time and all that fill its precepts taught him a secret language that wasn’t available in any university: he pioneered the vastness of his mind and its emotion. These contemplations and reflections awarded him a mastery to manipulate the fabric of the natural world around him…

(To be continued)

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Middle East FS

Contact

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Joseph Foley, Proprietor.
Foreign Sojourn
Middle East FS

Contact

For all queries related to the website, media, publishing or general you can reach me via email at:

aforeignsojourn@gmail.com


 

You may also reach me via this contact form:

Sincerely,

Joseph Foley, Proprietor.
Foreign Sojourn
Middle East FS

The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon Brochure

The Grand Canyon, Welcomes Stella and I.

The Grand Canyon, Welcomes Stella and I.

The Grand Canyon, home of canyons…and well, a lot of geological marvels. The colorful array of heights and rises, crags and gorges are dizzying.  What’s remarkable is that this little overlook nestled in the Grand Canyon Village is only a tiny portion of what there is to see. It’s mind blowing the scale of hikes and climbs available to the outdoor enthusiasts. Geological Layers of Grand CanyonIf you take a gander at a map, you will understand what I mean.Grand Canyon Village, South Rim
Afterwards, Stella and I drove down Route 64 South connecting and heading west on historic Route 66; the drive to the city of Kingman was iconic southwestern scenery at its best.

The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon Brochure

The Grand Canyon, Welcomes Stella and I.

The Grand Canyon, Welcomes Stella and I.

The Grand Canyon, home of canyons…and well, a lot of geological marvels. The colorful array of heights and rises, crags and gorges are dizzying.  What’s remarkable is that this little overlook nestled in the Grand Canyon Village is only a tiny portion of what there is to see. It’s mind blowing the scale of hikes and climbs available to the outdoor enthusiasts. Geological Layers of Grand CanyonIf you take a gander at a map, you will understand what I mean.Grand Canyon Village, South Rim
Afterwards, Stella and I drove down Route 64 South connecting and heading west on historic Route 66; the drive to the city of Kingman was iconic southwestern scenery at its best.

Vol 1. Branded Souls, Chapter 3: A Drink, The Game

            “It is a surreal night.”

Hart took note. Some trees are still barren and the image of winter lingers, reminiscing to days of frost and penetrating wind; their shadows seemed like fingers following and stretching towards him. “Tonight is thankfully different.” He exhaled softly. “The air feels heavier with new warmth.” “It is without wind and soft…” He looked upwards at the moon and sky “…Soft and nostalgic.

He walked further down the road, continuing his musing. “What strange warmth accompanies me this evening!” He couldn’t keep a smile from his lips. The combination of good feeling and fair weather also carried the flavors of freshly blossomed trees and the savory aroma of pizza. Hart peered into the shop that sold it by the slice and imagined himself with a hot and greasy one. Excited, he checked his pockets but frowned when he came up with lint and some pocket change. The smile that Hart had, half slipped from his mouth but it soon found its place again.

“At least it is a wonderful evening and nothing can take that away.”

He felt the uneven brick and cobblestone underneath his boot. They centered his thoughts between romantic reveries and reality. Passing by, he saw the dreamy, intoxicated expressions of others. They mirrored his, indulging in the atmosphere. Smiling faces from behind a busy ice cream shop window were working diligently as the university students lined up outside. At the Italian place down the block and across the street, a waiter on the patio looks distantly as he clears a table. His face is one that is drifting between remembering an order and dispelling a lazy daydream.

“I know someone who owes me a few cold drinks.” With his expression and smile restored at the thought, he proclaimed, “I’m heading for a drink!” He beamed broadly as he sauntered down a dimly lit alleyway. A solitary streetlight stretched his shadow, making it appear much taller and more threatening. This doppelganger trailed at his heels. He whistled distractedly down the garbage filled alley then turned sharply at a black painted, metal safety door. He hopped up a set of 3 steps and knocked on the steel entrance. A pair of eyes looked at him from the slat. He grinned and flashed a loose thumbs-up. The deadbolt from the other side opened with a grinding noise, unlocking the door. It was pulled open by muscled guy with a cigarette in his mouth.

“Hey, you got one of those for me, Ken?” He gestured with two fingers imitating the action of smoking.

“Of course-where’ve you been these days?” He said gruffly as he flipped open his pack and tossed him one. “Thanks again for taking a look at my car the other day.”

Leaning into his lit match, Hart puffed on his newly acquired smoke.

“Anytime.” He said offhandedly

“Thanks as always, Ken.” He then replied to the bouncers inquiry with shadows and smoke, “Nowhere really, drifting, you know?” The bouncer nodded and didn’t press further. As they exchanged some friendly sentiments, he followed him inside. They headed down the steps into a smoky, poorly lit bar. He put a hand on Harts shoulder as they stepped into the basement and said, “If you need another, I’ll be out front.”

A few tables with some patrons sat laughing, conversing and drinking with the heaviest hands found around these Northwest streets. He walked up to the bar and an old man with gray hair greeted him.

“Well now Hart, what will ye’ be havin’?” He adjusted his glasses then picked up a mug and polished it with a white dishrag.

“Could you spot a cold one, Tom?” Looking at him in earnest, he spoke softly, “I’m a little down and out right now.” Hart placed his hands on the dark stained oak bar, “I’m just so damn thirsty all the time, I dunno’ what it is!” He smiled and the barman shook his head but he obliged the request. He produced not one can of lager beer from the fridge but 5 in a bucket full of ice.

“You gonna’ help me out with these dishes or mopping up when I need ya’?” Hart raised his hands shoulder high with his palms flat and as an oath said, “On my honor as a gentleman and a friend!”

He snapped off a cap from another bottle with a lightening quick hand. They both raised can and bottle and chinked them together “Here ya’ go, boy.” They looked at each other in understanding and grinned. “I hope all is well with you.” The old man guzzled his brew, smacked his lips then wiped his grizzly white beard with the rag he had been polishing the mugs with.

Hart walked over to the billiard table, where he struck up a conversation with a familiar face. He was a student at the gated university around the corner. His manner and thought were sharp beyond his age. He also had a deft hand at pool. This blonde, straight-haired guy wore framed glasses and a turtleneck and brown corduroys. He seemed sorely out of place in this smoky dungeon.

Damn, you’re stackin’ up them wins, eh?” As always, Tom refused most winnings and just asked for a drink or two.

Hart sat enjoying his frothy and cold beverage on a stool against the wall and watched how the games were progressing. This kid thoroughly trounced them at the game; some went hysterical and others just laughed. Either way, he stood as he always did, hands in his pocket, leaning against the wall and smiling in an unapologetic way. He saw Hart and left his not-so-collegiate company and shook his hand. Wordlessly, they went over to the pool table.

The pool balls rolled out from underneath the inner workings of the table and he set them on top in a perfect triangle unaided. Like thunder, the cue ball cracked the triangle, splitting it into atoms all across the table. They began to speak casually; their conversation mostly hovered around philosophy, abstractions, music and the like.

“I don’t know what I’m trying to find.” He pulled on a cigarette pressed between his lips.

“I can’t even consider myself searching.” Hart was watching the ceramic balls splash against the others. “It just isn’t as simple as words would define.” He blew smoke up towards the low ceiling, making the billiard lamp shed a different and temporary light. “I have a pulling sensation, an eager flame that wishes to seek.”

“Seek what?” Hart questioned and looked up from the table. His expression was contrasted from the darkness of a smoke filled room and the glow of the hanging pool lamp.

“I can’t say for sure. An ocean of fragments and half formed notions crowd up here.”

Hart tapped on his head with his knuckles. “Well, it’s you and me both, brother.” “It seems,” he continued, “That when you have an excess of pockets, you have an excess of want to fill those pockets.”

The college kid took a long draught of his liquid gold and readjusted his glasses. “Strictly speaking chemistry that is, beer is a solution and can certainly fill enough pockets for a time, Hart.”

He smiled broadly but something darkened his brow before he could relish his wit. There was something tragic in his words that both parties understood. Hart drank to a familiar unrecognizable sadness and laughed heartily. It startled Tom.

The college student scratched the cue ball uncharacteristically. Somebody picked a strange and melancholy tune on the jukebox.

 

“…And a roving young fellow I’ve been,

So be easy and free when you’re drinking with me,

I’m a man you don’t meet every day,

I have acres of land,

I have men at command,

I have always a shilling to spare…”

 

He lifted the ball up and handed it to Hart, whom accepted it and placed it back onto the felt of the table. He struck with a well-chalked stick and the pool balls themselves went searching for pockets.

 

“…So come fill up your glasses with brandy and wine,

Whatever it costs I will buy…”

 

Hart couldn’t conceal a yawn and the night was getting on. He turned away from the table before his turn completed itself; 4 stripes sunk pockets. He turned back to the table, nodded and called the corner left pocket. He struck at the 8-ball. It banked two sides of the green felt table, slowed, and then fell into the desired corner.

 

I took out my dog and him I did shoot,

Oh,

Down in county Kildare…”

 

“You are the only one who wins against me, you know that, Hart?” He poked with two fingers at the wire frames of his glasses; they were drooping to the bridge of his nose. “Who are you?” Hart pulled his jacket on and waved to the bar tender.

His voice was trailing behind him as he spoke to Tom almost as dismissively as unsure, “I dunno’…till next time, friend.

 

“So be easy and free when you’re drinking with me, I’m a man you don’t meet everyday…”