“I take it you know why I’m here?” Cledus waves the woman in with a ‘pull up a chair’ gesture.
“Put the barking iron away!” Cledus tells Bruno’s edgy replacement.
The guarding man re-sheaths his piece, while eyeing the woman suspiciously.
“Dude, why don’t you go into the other room?”
“You sure, boss?”
“Who signs your paycheck?”
Cledus waits until the new bodyguard disappears. The rugged man turns toward his visitor and swears he sees destiny written across the pretty woman’s forehead.
“Hi. I’m sorry, yu can calst me Sammy.”
He clears his throat, before thumbing through the old bible. “Hopefully, it’s still here.”
Georgia stretches out her hand. “What is still there?”
“Please, allow me to show you.”
Cledus Beaumont transforms from a rock superstar to a robed Western Yoda—in the blink of an eye. “Shortweetin’, ye should plop in a chur.”
Georgia lets the bible and shift in the entertainer’s dialect rest on the coffee table before them. I would have never guessed, in a million years, a rock star would be the final piece to a very complicated historical puzzle.
A strange fog in her memory brings back the man’s hips at the bank, her co-worker’s accolades, and the recollection of reading about the man’s daughter in the tabloids. Relief falls upon the woman, as if she finally glimpses her own destiny. At the same moment, the woman’s head pounds with the full weight of everything.
Georgia feels awkward when she asks, “You have any Tylenol?”
The brand name was foreign to his previous world, but Cledus leaves and returns with a few little capsules and bottled H2O.
“Thank you, sir.”
“Yourn a one-horse body in a boodle of Beaumonts… No how.”
He pours himself a drink from a whiskey flask, and adds, “Could yurn use something stronger?”
“I better not mix them.”
Cledus shakes his curly head like he understands. The gunfighter reaches down to greet the bible again, takes it into his wiry hands, and holds it with the nostalgia of an adult who is rejoined with a toy he was very fond of as a child. The bible represents life and breath all rolled into one, ready to expel an eternal legacy. On a base level, it can provide a family a wealth of information. The two people who can open a modern gate come together, each put aside their selfishness and their doubt, and let whatever is opening the channel into their hearts.
“Haven’t we met before?”
“I work at your bank.”
“How’s your child?”
“Besides sudden fits of Asthma, she is doing better.”
“What’s her name, g’hal?”
Georgia wonders if she can trust the stranger, before she answers, “Her name’s Tawny.”
Cledus feels afoot, as the aged spine and memories of home and his pigeon-toed horse come rushing back to whitewash him, to absolve him, to baptize him. He recalls his beloved Margaret. And her real, non-preserved, home cooking. Any other day, and Georgia would have been nervous watching the man play the large book like a compatible lover. But she watches him savor the reunion, because she recalls how her first encounter with the relic felt…and how the object had completely consumed her being. After Georgia tucked the bible away at the bank, she felt like a part of her soul went missing. She knows it must be how the man feels being reunited with the family bible.
Logically, Georgia knows how strange it sounds. Yet, the feeling invoked is undeniable. It had been twelve years since she first picked up the tome. The adventures spun from inside two covers had never run dry in the breadth of over a thousand holy pages and dozens of human inserts, which often worked like a collage to create almost an infinite number of possibilities. The woman always enjoyed perusing the rich Beaumont Tapestry; one that weaved wondrous historical worlds within the binding of one, comprehensive volume.
Now, Georgia finds a need to know what the Icon contributes to the whole thing. She knows he somehow figures into some linear equation, although she never would have guessed or contemplated a time rip. Cledus is still Sammy Moore—to her—until evidence is unearthed to sway her to the contrary. She imagines some sort of Street Posse concert ticket she had yet to run across, or a flat packet enclosing some special, signed guitar pick. The suspense grows, until it gets the best of her. Georgia needs some answers to fill in growing gaps in her large imagination. If she was a woman who believed in the practical and closure, insanity would have consumed her long ago. But Georgia keeps an open mind, to help pacify her vivid and lucid imagination, and she dismisses some of the set laws of science as human vanity to control his or her world. She pictures Sammy Moore singing a song about the hidden worlds inside of a family bible. She chuckles to herself, considering how that could vanquish album sales faster than Jacko’s disturbing behavior with his children had.
How apropos that would be. She thinks. The bible remains static. The man from another century looks up at the alluring woman.
“I reckon it is time ye plum who I is.”
“Why… You’re one of the greatest rock singers in history…Well, outside of Elvis—of course.”
“I am Cledus Beaumont.”
The woman’s mouth falls open.
“How are you related to Jeremiah?”
“I’m his distant grandfather.”
Georgia looks as though she is in the presence of a man smoking something funny. She is glad she is seated. Glad she has a hard time processing the foreign communication. She feels light-headed, thinking she may have taken mighty strong Tylenol.
“Man alive. Yer some hot corn!”
Cledus notices the woman’s nervousness at the statement, and he adds, “If only I was twelve years younger!”
Georgia remembers an annoying commercial that ran repeatedly on the weekends for a control for genital herpes. But the woman smiles, and says, “Why…I’m flattered.”
The patented Sammy Moore smile sifts through the small talk.
“How old are you? This doesn’t make any sense.”
Before the man can answer, recognition sweeps across the woman’s fair-complexioned face. She shakes her head, as if she really does not want to know the truth.
“What ye seed at Bailey’s?”
“I saw a bright light. Then, my fiancée lay dying. I picked up a card from the shore of that boggy marsh.”
“What kind of card?”
The same awareness storms across Cledus’s face—instantaneously.
“Me great grandson’s Promo Rifleman Card!”
Georgia shakes her head to the affirmative.
“Was it ever placed in the bible?”
“Land sakes…I thinks Jeremiah toted it about.”
Cledus looks bewildered. “I snore I don’t know.”
“We need to return the card. Do you remember its location in the bible?”
“By Sam Hill.”
The man scratches his itchy head.
“Haps we should hold off until it’s time to pony up!”
Cledus Beaumont opens the bible, and Georgia swears his hair blows back from what invisible presence flows from inside. Georgia chews her fingernails and begins to meditate, silently to herself, knowing Cledus will show her what she wants to know—in time. But it does not stay her nerves one bit.
“You want to know what unnerves me to no end?”
“Nose way yu can fix it.”
“Some expert in e-mail encryption traced the e-mails sent to me in Jeremiah’s name.”
“Ye know wur they’re expressed from?”
“Not really. Maybe…from Bill Gates?”
“Or possibly some satellite somewhere in earth’s orbit.”
Not as bizarre as ourn family bible. Cledus thinks. Cledus really does not have any working knowledge of satellites, but he understands they fuel most of modern technology sent by any sort of signal.
“My question is this…How does a satellite get into my phone line?”
It takes mere seconds for the woman’s serious state to spread into laughter. Once it does, Georgia cannot stop laughing. She thinks Cledus must have seen the movie Gremlins on television, an obvious reflection of all the gadgets he found himself immersed in. Even so, Cledus does not understand why the woman finds his answer so incredibly funny.
Cledus breaks out of his catatonic state enough to open the bible to the book of Nehemiah. He shows Georgia passages of rebuilding Fish, Valley, Dung, Fountain, Horse and Sheep Gates. The list of required items includes: JJ—gun of Cledus Beaumont, Prince—Jeremiah’s tennis racket, and the bible book Nehemiah: Chapter 3—and others. Only Cledus Beaumont knows the reference, to itself, indicates infinity.
Georgia Alexandre holds the plans for reconstructing the gate in her trembling hands. “So, where do we go from here?”
Cledus replies by shrugging his wide shoulders.
“It’s been a coon’s age. But a big bug will attempt to beat the Dutch.”
Georgia gets off her magic carpet to take in the major rock star who often sings of violence, sex, and debauchery. This man does have a soul. Georgia pulls out Jeremiah’s penciled portrait. Cledus immediately recognizes the face.
He quickly pours himself a stiff drink. The real kicker is when the woman pulls out Tawny’s ‘Grandpa’ portrait. The contrast and the complimentary style of the two drawings, side by side, bring tears to the aging man’s eyes.
Cledus drops to his knees and reaches out to touch three generations of Beaumont. The gunfighter notices the ancient tether duel in the background of ‘Grandpa’. He also sees his mother, Clarice, from Lucky’s perspective on the branch of the giant tree. Georgia gives the man some comfort by clasping his strong shoulders, as if she had always been a Beaumont, and Cledus feels the depth of her compassion flow up through him. Tears spill from the rugged man’s eyes at the first human touch, unfueled by a motive, since his beloved Margaret.
Cledus wipes at his tired eyes and asks, “Georgia, are you the rtist?”
“Tawny did this one.” She says as she motions to the ‘Grandpa’.
Grandpa Cledus nods his curly head. “Who’s Tawny again?”
“Your great great great-granddaughter—I believe.”
Georgia pulls out a wallet-sized photograph. Shortly, thereafter, Cledus Beaumont collapses. The rock star eventually gets up with the aid of his new bodyguard. Although shook up, he stands physically ok. The cagey man reflects on his duel life, and how he has come to learn so much. He learns Lynch Mob’s latest album is close to going triple platinum. He learns what an endorsement is, upon being offered a small fortune to pitch a bottle of liquor.
At an awards ceremony, the new Sammy thanks TJ, Margaret, his band, and the many fans throughout the world. Cledus’s subconscious mind re-focuses on the sacrifice and the gate, and how his bloody soul connects all the pieces in a growing and evolving Beaumont Family Tree.