THE BURNING OF OUR SHIPS
Rob Williams sits in a chair alone in the locker room, ice on both of his knees. He’s electric once again– his heart rate on track to smash Usain Bolt’s world records. The thrill of the hunt. A stench of sweat and hope fills the air.
The Voice: You still haven’t surrendered, Rob.
The voice. Right now, Rob wants to scream from the rooftops that he is back. He wants to find his third grade science teacher and show him who didn’t know a sneeze from a wet fart. A pound of steak and an ounce of cake. Instead, he gets this. If this isn’t hell, he’s not sure what is.
Rob: What are you talking about? I did it! I punished them both. I won
The Voice: That’s the problem, Rob. You still want. You haven’t surrendered. I told you that your path didn’t involve identification with such petty things as winning or losing. A higher road, yours is. And tonight, you chopped your wood and carried your water. Sure you “won”. But you’re missing the forest for the trees. Good acts done with wrong motives.”
At this point, the wind has been let out of Rob’s sails. He doesn’t like the message. Or the messenger, per se. But, he understands. He understands and it fits like a lock in a key somewhere deep inside.
Rob: How do you change what you want, what you desire?
The Voice: Surrender. When a child is born, does a parent not sacrifice their “identity”? Their little plans and designs. You have given up much already and that is what has made you worthy. Yes, it will hurt. You cannot have grace without the death of ego and pride. These are cancer. Removing cancer is painful. Get on your knees and surrender.
Rob closes his eyes and slides from the chair onto the hard concrete floor. His butt sits back on his ankles, pushing the metal chair down behind him, as his arms raise up toward the sky.
Rob Williams: I surrender.
Woman in Crimson: Hello there.
It wasn’t the voice. Rob hadn’t even noticed her walk in. He doesn’t know this woman, but instantly he feels sucked into her gravitational pull. Her eyes shine like they knew a secret, and her crimson dress feels familiar, but Rob isn’t quite sure how.
Woman in Crimson: (smiling) A fellow believer. “It’s so good to see a man on his knees.”
Maybe it was the kicks to the head earlier, but Rob senses a bit of double entendre. He recognizes, however, he is in no position to accurately weigh such things in his current position.
Rob Williams: What?
Woman in Crimson: Praying. (she giggles) It takes a very brave man to humble himself in such a public place.
Rob feels anything but brave. Still, there’s a warmth exuding from her that keeps him on his knees. The woman walks towards him, reaching a hand up to rest on Rob’s shoulder. Words fall from Rob’s mouth. He can’t seem to stop them, almost as if he’s standing behind himself watching him open up to this complete stranger.
Rob Williams: I wouldn’t say I’m humble or brave. Not even sure I was praying. It was more an act of…
She interjects to finish his sentence.
Woman in Crimson: …surrender. Yes, that’s prayer whether you realize it or not. Are you familiar with His Word and Light?”
Rob remembers every Sunday morning AM radio station preacher his mother forced him to listen to as she drove around endlessly looking for peace. Their promises of salvation. How she would call in and donate and tell them about whatever made up problems she had this week and how they would take her money in return for a prayer each and every time.
Woman in Crimson: Oh, child, don’t balk. That’s your pride trying to keep you in the darkness.
Don Winters: Well, well, well.
The voice of The Revelator calls out. His white suit and crimson button-down shirt are flawless, not a fleck of lint or crease to speak of. Rob reaches back for the chair to push himself up, but finds himself being lifted literally by the woman.
Don Winters: Miriam, I’m very proud of you. Finding another lost soul to spread His Word and Light
Miriam: Father Don, I found this man on his knees.
Don Winters: Very good. The universal sign of surrender.
Normally Rob would have his hands wrapped around this man’s throat by now. Reflex. His life has been like a game of pinball, someone presses a button and he goes here or there. But the reaction is missing. Like a phantom limb, Rob can feel it should be there, but finds himself at peace.
Rob Williams: Yes. I’m… just trying to figure things out. A lot of things have changed recently.
Don Winters: It seems as if you’ve reached a very important crossroads. I wonder which path you will choose? Will you continue down your pre-ordained path of self-destruction? Will you continue to distract yourself with ego and caustic impulse? I see the look in your eyes. You’ve been down that road. You’re tired of traveling it and where it leads.
A Chevy Nova, a double tequila, and an oak tree.
Don Winters: The other path leads into the loving embrace of His Word and Light. We can make you whole again, we can make life worth living.
The Revelator pivots, adjusts his cufflink and smiles at his patron.
Don Winters: And Miriam?
Miriam: Yes, Father Don?
Don Winters: Why don’t you spend some time introducing our new friend…
Don pauses and holds out his hands.
Rob Williams: Rob. Rob Williams.
Rob extends a hand for a shake. Don takes that hand and places it in Miriam’s.
Don Winters: … to His Word and Light.
Miriam: Yes, Father.
Don Winters: Mr. Williams, it was an absolute pleasure making your acquaintance this evening. Call it fate, but I believe we will be seeing much more of one another.
Father Don smiles and bows, quietly fading from the room. Once again Rob is alone with Miriam. She tugs his hand ever so gently so he locks eyes with her.
The Voice: I told you that you wouldn’t walk this path alone
The scene fades to to elsewhere backstage with Rob and Miriam staring at one another.