A lone rider made his way through the darkening night, on a quiet road leading into the vast expanse of the open desert. The rider had filled his fuel tank and would have enough to make the 200 mile trek without stopping. He was in no real rush, just letting the miles easily pass, letting the events of the last week sift through his brain, trickle through his psyche, and bring him to some real resolution in his life. The rider knew all the right answers, but was just not willing to accept them yet. In all honesty, he did not have to accept anything. Choices were his, options open, fate left to his will to mold. As the night fully embraced the rider, the coolness of the night finally drove away the last vestige of heat left by scorching sun on his black clothing, body, and mind. Shifting in the saddle, the riding was becoming easier, he opened up the visor and took off his sunglasses, the cool air caressing his face, drying and chilling the beaded sweat that remained. A few hours later the need to relive himself outweighed the desire to finish the ride. Pulling over, stopping the bike, and killing the engine, the rider dismounted, and started to relieve himself. In the few moments this took, the quiet, coolness, and solitude closed in on him. The rider slipped off his helmet as he turned to walk back to the bike, then he realized the moon was full, the night was comfortable and he was alone, totally alone….Finally!
In this total quiet and self imposed isolation his emotions washed over him. People loved him, they were worried about him. He was overworked, mentally frayed, physically thrashed, and totally unable to cope with being near his family or anyone for that matter. He had slumped into a stupor of purposeful solitude. Then, looking up at the rising moon, he cried, just slid down beside his bike and cried. No one was around, he could let go of the negative emotions, angst, anger, fear, and self hate. In this calm he could fall apart, let himself get it out, deal with it. After a few hour of feeling sorry for himself, cursing the stars, and throwing rocks at the nearby trees, the rider stood, zipped up his gear, mounted the bike and took off to finish this trip through the desert. He already felt better without holding onto the negative baggage of life. He jettisoned the trash, and made room for the good and positive things to fill up his mind. A few hours later, in the deep on the night, the rider turned off the desert highway onto a gravel driveway. Slowing down considerably, he made his way the 5 or so miles it took to get to the little cabin, nestled under a mesa, beside a private community of off the grid adventurists. Parking under the carport structure, the rider stretched and started to take off his jacket and stow his helmet. Walking to the door, he quickly found the key, precisely where he was told it would be. Once inside, and after another bathroom visit, the rider started to fully explore his surroundings, ending in the kitchen, opening cupboards and checking the pantry. The pantry was left well stocked with staples, the refrigerator full of fruits, and juices. It was here he found the first of three notes. It read,
We had a feeling you would be coming out here, so we left some things for you. Don’t worry about payment , or helping, or putting the stuff back. Just use it, relax, recharge, and heal. You have been through hell, time to put that down and be the person you want to be, not the person everyone wants you to be. Remember we care for you, and remember to Take Care of Yourself.
Don & Zelka
He sat on a stool at the bar in the kitchen and read the letter several times. It sunk in that his friends must have been talking. Recounting the last few months, his duties at work had reached a level of burden that he had not experienced in some time. The drive to succeed and the stress his partner put on him had driven him to the breaking point. It had been months since he had any real time away. Even on those brief moments and days he could escape, it was never without a phone call or text message to bring him back in. Either a simple errand or complex problem that could not wait, it was always something. He was feeling that this was the beginning of the end, the start to the unraveling of things, the calm before the storm. He knew that through all this, his options were open, he had choices, places to go, where he would be safe. Tossing the letter on the counter, he hung his jacket over the stool, and took his personal items out of his pants. Looking at the cell phone there were over 100 text message and an equal number of calls from his partner. He chose to ignore them. It was time for a break. In all honesty he was tired of working, tired of the grind, and exhausted with dealing with humans. It was not that they were bad people, far from it, just he thought of work as work, and tried hard to always keep it professional, others, not so much.
Walking into the living room, he unlocked the sliding glass door, slid it open and welcomed the cooling desert breeze into the home. The breeze brought with it the scents of Cacti, Aloe and oddly Honeysuckle. Inhaling deeply, he turned and walked toward the bedroom, sniffing himself as he walked. Yes, he needed to shower and clean up. The last 14 hours on the bike had left his body deeply scented with musk, cloths etched with rings of salt, and any exposed skin peppered with the odd bug and road dirt. Entering the bedroom and turning on the light, he noticed that the room was clean and neat. The simple colors, matching the simple and clean feel to the entire cabin. Entering the bathroom he found a second note on the sink, beside a basket of bath salts, body wash, scrub brushes, and assorted sundry items, all were things he would normally use. Picking up the note it read,
It would seem that you did not listen to me at all, and kept your nose to the grindstone. You have worked yourself past any former breaking point, and now you are just more broken than ever. But hell, at least you came out here to D & Z’s place.
I am glad they had it ready for you. It would seem that we all knew something was up when you stopped talking to us, did not return message, and were generally unavailable. But thats fine, at least you surface when you can.
Listen, hear me as you read this. Stop, take some time, reflect on your life and chart a new course.
Whether it be with your hubby, or without…..chart your own course. Remember, I care about you, and you better take care of yourself.
Your friend in all time. —David.
This letter made him a bit sad and relieved all at the same time. As before he read it several times, letting the words sink in. He thought of a new course, or the idea of changing course. All those years of investment in a relationship, all the tears that had bonded them through tough times, all the angst that drove them apart. As he stood there, in the bathroom his mood had gone from one of semi relief to one of impending dread and doom. Shaking his head, he started to undress. Starting the water he looked behind him and there sat a compact washer and dryer. Smiling he gathered every stitch of cloths he had on stuffed them in the washer. Adding the soap and additives were easy. Starting the wash he turned around and stepped into a wonderful cascade of water. The main shower head was a dish-sized pan were the water fell out and onto the person taking a shower. It gave a rain shower effect. Large drops of water falling and hitting with some force. It was very meditative, calming, and relaxing. After a bit, he reached out and grabbed the body wash and scrub brushes and proceed to clean his body as the water was washing his mind. After he was left clean, refreshed, and smelling much better than when he started. After drying himself and putting his cloths in the dryer, he padded naked back into the living area and plopped himself down on the couch. The wind had picked up and he could see sheet lightning rolling off the clouds in the distance. The smells of the honeysuckle were still there, but a skunk’s marking had made its way through the breezy air. After a while of just staring at the ceiling and listening to the wind, his tummy started to grumble. The rider had not eaten all day, and now it would seem, his body demanded an offering to make up for the beating it took on the ride. So, the lone rider stood, turned and walked into the kitchen. The breeze felt good on his skin as his body cooled, muscles relaxed, and his mind eased.
After a short time, a sandwich was made and consumed. Along with some strawberries, a mango and several persimmons. Looking over at his phone, he noticed the notification with more text messages and calls, still ignoring them, he watched as the last of the cellular battery was used and the phone became still, quiet, and no longer a distraction. A chuckle escaped his lips as he noticed the first signs of dawn edging out the darkness on the horizon. The dawns and sunsets in the high dessert were magical, this was one of them. Walking out onto the deck, overlooking the drop off of the mesa, he stood, watching the sunrise. Listening to the sounds of the world as it woke, hearing the melody of the night as it was beat back by the dawn. In this moment he was at peace, none would pursue him, none would be able to contact him, none knew his name. Then a yawn escaped his lips, turning he walked back into the home, closed the glass door, locked it and made his way around, checking the doors and windows to ensure he was safe. Then after all the checks were done, he engaged the cooling system, laid across the bed and fell quickly to sleep.
— Drifting in dreams, lost in the nothingness that is the void, resting!—
Waking some time later with a jump, his mind burst out, listening for sounds, getting his bearing, scanning his environment. His mouth was pasty and his bladder was yelling at him for some relief. Realizing he is alone, his heart rate slowing, breathing coming back to normal. Rising and padding to the bathroom, he glanced down at his watch. It was 7:40 pm. He had slept well over 12 hours. He could not even remember the last time he had gotten more than 6 hours of sleep without being jostled by someone or something. A little groggy he made his way out of the bathroom, and into the living room. Pausing at the door to the patio. The day was gone, night was taking its magical place as the stars started to shine and twinkle. Opening the door, he walked out. The air still warm from the sun, the scents of the day wafting past. Leaving the door open he turned to head back into the kitchen when a small green flashing light caught his attention. He turned and approached the wall of cabinets, one was slightly ajar. Opening the larger doors, he was surprised by what he found. Contained in the cabinets were a series of communication arrays. Some were tuned to air traffic control, some to HAM stations, others were set to a series of rotating frequencies. Then it struck him, this little cabin, nestled on the Mesa was a listening post. Well disguised, but still this little place had some meaning. R and Z liked to be away, but like him, always wanted to keep tabs on the world of Humans….and this set of systems did that. Looking down he realized that a desk pulled out from the cabinet and a built in stool slid out with the desk. It was here he found the third note.
I am sure by now that your curiosity got the best of you. For me, leave the communication gear alone. Go outside. Take a hike. Swim in the river. Look at the stars. Do anything but start listening to these.
Listen to me, you need a break. A long, disconnected break. You need to see your own worth for what it is, find your own path. Just know that a few of us want only the best for you, take heart in that and enjoy your time. Just take care of yourself!
Another chuckle escaped his lips. Tucking the note in his teeth, the lone rider closed the desk, slid the stool back into place, and closed the cabinet doors. Turing he walked back toward the kitchen and placed the note beside the previous. Looking at them he was struck by a feeling of warmth and togetherness. Even in this solitude, he was being comforted, held, and guided by his friends. These beings that he had come to rely on and listen to were guiding him without telling him what to do. His path was open, fate was his to control, time was slowing down and was on his side. After eating until he was full, the lone rider settled into reading a book he found on the side table of the bed. The Road Less Traveled by Peck was to be the first real book he had read in over 20 years. As he settled into a comfortable seat on the deck, he was struck with the thought of how busy he had become. The simple things had been forgotten. The joys of life were dulled by the constant demands of success. Life had drained from him, now it was time to recharge and put it all back in perspective.
— Days passed in quiet leisure. Sleep, wake, eat, read….repeat. —
After 20 days or more, the lone rider readied himself and his bike for the trek back to the land of humans. He had thought of all the things he would say to his mate. He had ran through every variable in his head. Examined every avenue for action, but still he was left with making a decision. Go or Stay, there is no half-way point. He would either leave or back away, but there would be no middle ground The reasoning for this very dramatic action was the ability to go back and change. In the riders mind, there had already been change on his part, but that change needed to be echoed by his mate. If it could not, then he would leave. Break ties cleanly and quickly and leave before the angst could return, before the guile of hatred crept back into his being.
His cell phone charged, he sent a single text message to his lover. I am on the way home. I love you. I always have, but we need to talk. Things have gotten to much for even me, I have been pushed to far, pulled in to many directions. I love you more than life, but I cannot sacrifice myself any longer for your happiness. Not waiting for a response, he turned his cell phone off, and gathered his things. The way back was clear, his path left open for him. 20 or so hours later, the lone rider pulled up at their home. He was met by his mate, in tears, welcoming him home. This man, big, burley, bearlike in every mannerism, sobbing in tears, apologetic, remorseful. The lone rider picked up his mate, cradled his head and kissed him deeply. Later that night, the two spoke deeply, came to a better place, healed each other. In that quiet time, both men and decompressed, exhaled, and let go of unwanted baggage. Now, together they would never be apart again. They were stronger together than apart, Yin and Yang to each other in all things.
Later that night, the lone rider was going through a huge pile of mail, magazines, and other papers. It was then he stumbled on a nondescript envelope. Opening it a note read.
Just remember one thing. In all things, in all places, at all times, Take Care of Yourself.—Yours in dreams…..
Not really knowing what to make of it, he tucked the note with the others and placed them in a keepsake drawer. As he was about to put it away, the scent of honeysuckle wafted to his nose, it was the note. The lone rider thought it odd, but just smiled and put the note away. There were to many things in life that could not be explained, he thought this was just a way for someone to watch out for him. You know what….It was!