General Fiction posted January 19, 2022 Chapters:  ...14 15 -16- 


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It's the end of one road and the beginning of another.

A chapter in the book Concertina

The Presence of Perfection.

by Yardier




Background
Lee Morason is a Vietnam veteran with the aftereffects of combat clouding his view of life. He avoids the symptoms and denies he is heading to a psychological and spiritual break down.
Lee opened his eyes to the murky darkness surrounding him then quickly shut them as he grimaced from the growing pressure in his lungs and high-pitched ringing in his ears.

Black as black.

He struggled one last time against the rope and concertina wire as the current pulled him along.

Deeper and darker.

It was futile to go against the ties that bound him.

He pressed his lips tight with the irrational thought he could squeeze oxygen out of the water.

Just a trickle.

A drop of moisture crossed his lips.

Moistened his tongue and tickled his throat.

He smothered a cough.

Yes, no?

No, yes?

Hang on?

Let go?

The cough was insistent; he tried to overpower it.

He pressed his lips tighter and pushed his will to the edge of endurance.

His effort was in vain.

"NO!" he exhaled a panicked rejection.

Then, with the remainder of his breath, he cried into the muddy void, "God, help me!"

Bubbles from his panicked petition rose gently to the surface as water raced into Lee's throat and lungs, relieving him of any further effort to save himself.

He convulsed one more time, shuddered, and then was still.
~~~~

The Saigon River continued to flow with determination to the South China Sea, carrying Lee within its cold and dark secret currents. No watchman on the anchored ships and tethered junks above could know what had just passed beneath their hulls. No fisherman on the riverbanks waiting for the sun to rise and for the tide to return could know the muddy river had taken another man from Saigon never to return.

Surrendering, Lee exhaled a lungful of water then relaxed. Panic gone from his mind, he felt at peace and then a sense of buoyancy as the rope and concertina wire began to unwind from his body, releasing the duffle bag.

Cautious, he took another breath of water.

No convulsing.

Almost eager, he took another breath as the duffle bag fell into the dark void. The rope and concertina wire continued to unravel and pull Lee's clothes off shred by shred. This denuding process stopped when the concertina wire dug its razor barbs deep into his ankle. He reached down with his left hand, gripped the wire between the razor-sharp barbs, and began to remove the fetter.

He took another breath of water and easily removed the wire from his ankle, but as he let it go, one of the barbs hooked onto his wedding ring. Reaching  with his right hand he tried to remove the barb from the ring, but the weight of the rope, concertina wire, and duffle bag began to pull him headfirst deeper into darkness.

He took another breath of water, yanked his left hand free, and felt relief and remorse as his wedding ring slipped from the tip of his finger and disappeared into the depths below.

Released from his bondage, Lee rose to the surface without hindrance.

"There are still so many others." Dejected, the Vietnamese voices became silent.

The current became still.

Rising to the surface effortlessly, Lee opened his eyes to see glorious ribbons of multi-colored rays of light, reaching from above like heavenly Aurora Borealis. He ascended quickly through the ribbons of light that became more brilliant and intense as he approached the surface. And just when he thought the grandeur was beyond his ability to endure, he broke the surface to find himself floating perfectly balanced shoulder-deep in a magnificent pool of crystal-clear water.

He looked past his naked body and saw the purity and depth of the pool were endless. He took a deep breath of fresh air that stung his lungs with vibrant energy and began swimming to the far end of the pool. With each stroke, he glided effortlessly through the water. He felt energized and believed he could swim for miles without fatigue, and yet, he sensed he was in a special place that beckoned him to explore beyond the pool. He rolled over and began an easy backstroke as he looked upward to see magnificent clusters of galaxies that pierced the darkness of the Universe with brilliant and dazzling light.

In awe and unable to comprehend the beauty and complexity of the majesty above him, Lee ceased swimming and simply floated on his back and relaxed in the presence of perfection.
~~~~
"Spectacular, isn't it?"

Lee turned and saw a person wearing a brilliant white tunic standing at the pool's edge with an outstretched hand.

"One person called it the Great Dome Room."

Lee took his hand and stepped from the pool onto a marble walkway. The person offered him a white robe made from the finest wool. "This is for you."

Lee slipped into the robe and found it was a perfect fit. It smelled sweet with luxurious lanolin and felt softer than anything he had known.

"Perfect," The person said.

"Who are you?" Lee asked.

"Some have called me the gardener because I care for the garden and provide people with fruit. Please walk with me."

They walked to a small table at the end of the pool, where the person offered Lee a tray of fruit and said, "These also are for you."

Without knowing how, Lee immediately recognized the fruits on the tray were: Loquat, Jujube, Papaya and Lime, Grape, Guava and Fig, Mango, and Tangerine. As he began to sample the fruits, he noticed an orchard of fruit trees surrounded the pool, and the entire area was bathed in light, yet there were no shadows. It was as if a great and perfect light illuminated everything with each object reflecting its unique characteristic back to the original light in all directions simultaneously.

"Where's the sun?" Lee asked while looking around and nibbling a tangerine.

"Over there." the person pointed upward. "See that small star in the nearest galaxy?"

"That's it?"

"Yes."

"Really? Lee asked as his lips tingled with delight from the tangerine. "It seems so small yet intense. Are you pulling my leg?"

The person smiled and shook his head. "No, it wasn't me pulling on your leg."

Lee stopped mid-chew, looked at his foot, and saw where concertina wire had sliced his ankle to the bone. Now, healthy scar tissue revealed miraculous healing.

Lee swallowed and said with amazement, "Did you have something to do with that?"

"In a way." Light shimmered from within the person as he briefly became translucent, then back to a physical appearance.

Lee hesitated. "Your face, it's so perfect and beautiful."

"You should see yours."

Transfixed at the phenomenon before him, Lee said with wonder, "I don't know about this."

"You will. I am here to help you understand." The person explained.

"Understand what?"

"The Truth."

"And you would know about the truth because?"

"Because I am the Advocate."

"I thought you said you were the gardener?" Lee challenged.

"I said some people call me the gardener because of the fruit I provide, but I am the Advocate.

"The Advocate?"

"Yes, the Advocate of Truth."

"What truth?" Lee questioned.

"Truth period, The Truth."

"What do you mean, the truth?" Lee cautiously took a bite of Papaya.

"I'm sure you've heard the saying The Whole Truth and nothing but The Truth?"

"Yes."

"Well, there's only one Truth, and it's nothing but The Truth." The Advocate's eyes sparkled.

"How can there be only one truth?"

"Think about it. All things are truthful, even lies."

"This is getting a little heavy."

"That's why I'm here. I will help to lighten your load and lead you unto The Truth."

"Believe me, I've just had my load lightened." Lee finished sampling the fruit and felt a subtle wave of goodness flush through him. Energized with a sense of purity, he looked around the garden and wondered from where the water came to fill the bottomless pool.

"We know. How do you think you got here?" The Advocate asked.

"We?"

"Well, you did cry out for God's help, and others have been praying for you too."

"Look, I know a miraculous and wonderful thing has occurred. I mean, there's no doubt you have some kind of power, and it appears to be a good power." Lee paused.

"Yes?"

"Are you an angel?" Lee asked.

"No, not an angel, but right now, I need you to focus on The Truth."

"Ok, how can a lie be the truth?" Lee asked with a hint of smugness.

The Advocate's voice was clear and fresh, "Truth reveals the simplicity of its powerful nature in a lie."

"That doesn't make any sense." Lee wondered if this is what it was like to be dead, yet he acknowledged that a lot of what happened recently did not make much sense. And he couldn't deny there seemed to be an order about the confusing events that promised a solution, maybe even absolution.

The Advocate continued. "The underlying foundation of The Truth is that it will always expose a lie and invite one to pursue the nature of The Truth."

"That doesn't make any sense," Lee said.

"Quite the opposite, Lee, a lie represents a falsehood as something it is not, while The Truth reveals a lie as that which it is; a falsehood. Simultaneously, as a lie masquerades as The Truth, it cannot reveal that The Truth is not The Truth. The Truth has always been and will always be The Truth."

"Hmm," Lee cocked his head.

The Advocate continued. "The underlying foundation of The Truth is that it will always expose a lie and invite one to pursue the nature of The Truth. While a lie will always attempt to conceal its nature and represent itself as something it is not with the singular intention to misdirect one away from The Truth."

Patient, the Advocate said, "Try to look at it this way, Lee; The Truth will always lead you to life and, a lie will always lead you to despair. Ironically, the power of The Truth is most evident when one is entangled in lies and despair. It stands alone as the only path out of the belittling snare to hope and life."

"A life ring," Lee said.

"Yes, always within reach." The Advocate added, "The choice for Truth is always apparent, but the courage to choose The Truth requires self-examination and faith to accept the result.

"In other words," Lee said, "When a person lacks the faith to choose The Truth, they inadvertently choose in error and support the lie because one cannot choose not to choose."

The Advocate smiled.

Lee looked around at the goodness surrounding him and asked, "What is this place? Is this somewhere in Heaven?

"Close, but this is you, a place that is unique for you in your purest form."

"I'm not in Heaven?

"No."

"Will I always be here?"

"Not exactly, but this place will always be with you as the starting point of your new life, a birthplace."

"So, I'm not dead." Lee asked.

"Quite the opposite."

Lee was relieved. "What about others?"

"Others?"

Lee was concerned. "Yes, the people I care about, my wife and friends."

"No, they’re not dead.  But there was a time they might as well have been dead.  You never had many friends, and you haven't cared all that much for your wife, have you?" The Advocate pressed.

With thoughtful remorse, Lee said, "True, after Vietnam, I didn't feel like having friends all that much. Everybody seemed distant anyway, so it just seemed kinda normal for my wife and me to grow distant too, but right now, I have a sudden desire to be with her and to love her.  I didn’t realize how much she meant to me before now.  I miss her."

"Congratulations, Lee. Your wife is waiting for you."

"Where?" Lee quickly looked around the garden and pool.

"There, right behind you," the Advocate said.

Lee turned to see his gold wedding ring suspended about five feet off the marble walkway. Stunned, he took a cautious step toward the ring in awe of the radiant perfection of glimmering gold. He paused, then looked over his shoulder and saw the Advocate was no longer visible, yet Lee felt His comforting presence. When he turned back around, he sensed a brilliant but clear border between him and the ring as if a sheet of glass possessing infinite dimensions stood as a partition. He stepped closer, touched the surface with his fingertips, and realized it was not glass but solid diamond, flawless and eternal.

Lee stood before pristine clarity as the diamond partition gathered surrounding light and bathed him with its purity and warmth, revealing it was not a partition at all but an invitation to experience divinity.

Lee carefully placed his hand on the sublime surface and felt refreshing coolness move up his arm toward his chest. As the sensation surrounded his heart, he sensed the diamond surface had become malleable. Leaning forward cautiously, he pressed his hand through the surface into shimmering luminescence of heavenly light. His heart skipped a nervous beat then resumed with a powerful rhythm as he slipped his ring finger into the perfect circle of gold.

Lee's eyes sparkled with newborn joy.

Suddenly, the sound of automatic weapons fire startled Lee into alert! Like a curtain loosed from its rod, the diamond environment cascaded around him, revealing Brother Archer standing at the foot of his bed looking out a window. "It's just some boys across the street lighting firecrackers, Lee." Brother Archer turned around and smiled at Lee's sleepy but concerned face and said, "It's Independence Day, remember?"

Gradually, Lee began to recognize items in the hospital room; a television mounted in the corner near the ceiling; the recliner where his wife slept the night before, a stack of gardening magazines, and a painting of majestic snowcapped mountains on the wall. He felt his hand cradled in warmth as he became aware of his wife's comforting hands. She smiled, leaned forward, and gazed into his eyes with relief. Tears dropped from her eyes onto his cheeks as she tenderly placed her lips upon his, and Lee saw, for the first time, the beauty of Dawn.
~~~~
Luctor Et Emergo
I am grateful for those who walked/swam with Lee unto the end. It was my intention to present the story as confusing and muddled. It is a complex story to grasp and bridges many aspects of the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of a combat veteran struggling with PTSD.

My hope, in the end, is the reader is impatient, wanting a solution RIGHT NOW, as do those veterans grappling with ending their life. It is a tragic statistic but, twenty-plus veterans commit suicide every day.

Shortly, I will present an epilogue of sorts that is more like a road map to understanding Concertina. The foundation of which consists of these realities:

There is good and evil.
There is a God and Satan.
There are angels and saints, demons, and devils.
And yes, there is a war.

Much thanks, Yardier.



Recognized


The title Concertina refers to razor wire used to secure a combat perimeter. It is also used on prison walls. It is designed with barbs and razor type hooks intended to snag a person from entering or attempting to escape a secure area.

Concertina, in the context of this novella refers to psychological and spiritual entanglement. Specifically, it refers to a Vietnam combat veteran who is ensnared by the deepest and darkest fetters of torment and denial. Those fetters consist of alcohol abuse, guilt, and resentment.
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