Nothing Dies

Chapter 10

Early March. One way or another, this journal, this book, this project will be brought into the present. I will recount the events of the last year as best I can and be done with the past. I am making up my mind to live and write in the present, no matter if events continue to be as confusing and inexplicable as they have become. I am giving myself one more month to resolve the dilemmas which still confound me.

Do I believe Keith Haring is, in fact, in contact with the living? Keith died in 1990. His scattered ashes have orbited the sun seven times. I am certain he is, in some way, within me, in my heart and in my dreams. I wonder daily if he is somewhere else, as well--out there among the stars in some spiritual heaven or hovering just beyond the earth, sending dream signals. Is it possible he is in telepathic contact with me, with Dawn and his sister, Kay?

At least I am dreaming in the present. Yesterday morning, I pitched my tent on Turtle Isle. Last night I dreamed Keith visited me here.

I had fallen asleep outside the tent, under the stars, watching the comet. When I awoke, the black sky was clouding up, turning gray. Heavy dew had condensed everywhere. I was freezing. I crawled into the tent, dragging my damp sleeping bag into the cool dry air within.

Hamlet slept just outside. His bony canine shoulder nudged my human counterpart. I focused my attention on the regular rhythm of his breath and fell easily into dreaming. With my senses well-tuned from a natural day, I was able to hold my awareness intact, notwithstanding the complexity of the dream....

Keith is tending the fire. I move around the campsite deliberately avoiding him, even though I am thrilled by his presence, by my knowledge of our supernatural circumstances, and by the ease with which I am able to manage my visionary experience.

Our words are pure thought. He never looks at me directly. We continue our chores, exchanging ideas and understanding most casually.

"The book with your "Mushroom Diaries" has an apt title."

"Yeah, Dreamstreets--good title. No coincidences, are there, Keith?"

"Things happen for reasons," he says.

Heís stoked the fire into a real barn-burner. The island glows red, yellow, and white. Tree trunks sparkle with flickering intensity. The radiance surrounding me makes it easier to avert my gaze from my chimeral companion.

"Youíre finally moving beyond the farm, getting over it, letting your grandfather rest in peace."

"Is that what Iím doing by writing about it?"

"Youíre family will pick up the torch now." As he says this, the fire bursts into a pyrotechnic frenzy and I am transported to a vast underground cavern.

Huge steel vaults rise up like towers around the perimeter of this high tech cave. Everywhere, there is evidence of meticulously kept records--long tall rows of file cabinets, tables for searching documents, storage shelves, pneumatic tubes interconnecting alphabetically arranged sectors, hundreds of glowing computers.

The computer screens are blinking, alternating between lists of names and a panorama of human history. Tides of individuals, swarms of faces, generation after generation--the maelstrom of images chronicles all mankind. The names flash by in orderly columns and rows intercut with all the lives of innumerable ancestors, and the replaying of the events of each epoch.

In the center of the room, three red- and brown-skinned workers tend a single nascent mushroom. The men of my family enter and form a huddle around the emerging white form. I see innumerable rootlets of spawn connected beneath the plant. In an instant they grow overwhelmingly large, luminous and far-reaching. An electric glow fills the room. Each datum of this vision seems touched by a tendril of spawn. I fly freely through this network of glowing filaments and receive messages as if they were telegraphed to me by the network of interconnected entities. I hear the myriad sounds, voices, and thoughts accompanying this recounting of human ancestory.

I recall my grandfatherís words to me concerning the cultivation of mushrooms. "Donít let anyone tell you they know how to grow mushrooms. No one knows," he said. "You just take care every day as best you can and whatever happens... thatís your crop. Take the best ones to New York and then start all over again. The spawn never dies."

I see his infinite patience, his husbandry, his love of his work as emblematic of his life. Keith Haring, the only person I ever met who paralleled Francescoís rapt dedication to a vision is here with me now. We hover together, overseeing the grand scheme before us. The fruit of the unknowable future spreads above us like an ever-expanding white cloud. A billion crystalline spores are released downward in an instant. I see worlds, stars, whole universes within each transparent sphere....

I awoke from the dream a few moments ago, thinking, "The spawn never dies." Hamlet was scratching at the tent, begging to be let in, to be rescued from the light rain shower which--judging from his barely moist coat--has just started. Now weíre both in the tent. And one of us is writing.

Since this quest began--since the first dream in which Keith seemed to be beckoning--I have vacillated between believing in the supernatural reality of his messages and the interpretation that they are merely delusional. The uncanny coincidences which concatenate throughout my life and the lives of others have not completely convinced me. All of this could be some sort of wishful thinking, a group psychosis induced by our suggestibility, our desire to believe in the meaning of random events.

Now I have set myself a goal: I will record the events of the past year without pre-judging them or editing them out of my recounting simply because they are too fantastic or because their implications are too absurd or because they are frightening and cause me to question the stability of my own sanity, the reliability of my perceptions.

Last winter, I was just getting to know Mimi. Iíd been online for a month and was using my computer for writing and for simulated sexual encounters. My virtual relationship with her was on the verge of becoming a real flesh-and-blood friendship.

>>Pandora: Sorry, just got bumped off line

>>ArtLong: Thatís OK... I was just gettiní... out there

>>Pandora: Out where, tell me... magic land?

>>ArtLong: I was just thinking I could put everything into this... and it would reach you... somehow

>>Pandora: You can just tell me anything you want

>>ArtLong: hold me... closer

>>Pandora: I wish I could... inside

>>ArtLong: yes?

>>Pandora: yes

>>ArtLong: it is us... here, now, connecting

>>Pandora: yes I feel it too


>>Pandora: yes

>>ArtLong: whispering

>>Pandora: what are you saying?

>>ArtLong: I love you... thanks for being open to me

>>Pandora: I feel good with you

>>ArtLong: this is the first day of winter, you know

>>Pandora: really?... I do need that hug then

>>ArtLong: (huglovekiss)

>>Pandora: mmmmmmmm

>>ArtLong: sighhhhh.........

>>Pandora: I can feel you in my body

>>ArtLong: maybe I should take a cold shower

>>Pandora: no... stay hot

>>ArtLong: I told you I talk too much

>>Pandora: passion is good

>>ArtLong: I agree...I feel it

>>Pandora: me too

>>ArtLong: maybe a quick shower?

>>Pandora: LOL

>>ArtLong: Iím trying not to get too heavy

>>Pandora: yes, I know

>>ArtLong: I feel like I could say the wrong thing and...

>>Pandora: never to me

>>ArtLong: lose you

>>Pandora: you could never say anything to make me leave

>>ArtLong: make me give you more... here, now...

>>Pandora: always closer

>>ArtLong: to you inside

>>Pandora: my heart... my mind... my body... my soul

>>ArtLong: soul to soul

>>Pandora: closer... always closer

>>ArtLong: weíre doing this... together... arenít we?

>>Pandora: yes we are

>>ArtLong: weíre moving together now

>>Pandora: yes donít stop

>>ArtLong: I wonít

>>Pandora: please... more

>>ArtLong: moving faster now

>>Pandora: yes faster

>>ArtLong: we are together... here

>>Pandora: now

>>ArtLong: moving

>>Pandora: together

>>ArtLong: more slowly now

>>Pandora: Art, come here

>>ArtLong: baby you are so sweet

>>Pandora: Iím yours now

>>ArtLong: for this moment

>>Pandora: this moment can be forever

>>ArtLong: flowing... between us... invisible

>>Pandora: touch me

>>ArtLong: touching you

>>Pandora: cumming in your arms

>>ArtLong: cumming in you

>>Pandora: snuggling in your arms

>>ArtLong: (kisshuglove)

>>Pandora: yes...laying my head on your chest

>>ArtLong: you are so warm

>>Pandora: yes I am... especially with you

>>ArtLong: thank you, baby

>>Pandora: Art...

>>ArtLong: yes, Mimi?

>>Pandora: itís about David

>>ArtLong: ... time to take that shower

>>Pandora: no really, Art...

>>ArtLong: yes?

>>Pandora: heís been reading your chapters... I printed them out... he picked them up... said he was moved by your writing

>>ArtLong: and?

>>Pandora: he says he would like to meet you

>>ArtLong: Whoa!

>>Pandora: would you be willing to come to dinner?

>>ArtLong: and meet the minister?

>>Pandora: yes

>>ArtLong: Iíd have to skip the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Iíve been living on lately

>>Pandora: I could make PB&J for you

>>ArtLong: nah... it would be nice to have some actual prepared food... is this OK with you?

>>Pandora: Yes. Weíve been talking about separating for weeks... thereís not a whole lot of emotion left.

>>Heís a good person... and I think heís genuinely interested in your work.

>>ArtLong: This means you and I would get to meet... in real life!

>>Pandora: Yes it does!

>>ArtLong: Where do I sign up?

>>Pandora: How about this weekend? Iíll e-mail you my address and directions from Reading, OK?

>>ArtLong: what the hell... why not... this weekend... like Saturday?

>>Pandora: This is so exciting, Art. I love you!

>>ArtLong: I love you too, baby...

>>Pandora: Bye for now, Art

>>ArtLong: Bye, Mimi

Meeting Mimi online was like seeing into the future, the future of love, relationship, human connectedness. To have discovered this woman in this way, via the medium of a machine, was to have this impersonal force in my life become instantaneously personalized. In that moment I saw the spiritual resonations of the material universe. I understood the connection between mind and matter as a seamless unity, separated only by our reluctance, our hesitation to experience them as one.

Mimi was a dream, a cipher on my screen, words on a page, a mirror of my desire. Now she has become so real to me. I knew, from a photo she had scanned and sent digitally to me, that she is a redhead, that she is beautiful. I did not know how diminutive she is--all of five feet tall and less than a hundred pounds. I knew from a dozen late-night chats of her history of abuse, anorexia, addiction. I saw in an instant her fragility. It has taken me months to see her resilience.

Our first meeting was tempered by the presence of David. His ministerial demeanor belied the emotions seething beneath the veneer of the event. It was evident their marriage was crumbling. I am certain also that the formality of the encounter did not completely cover the powerful attraction Mimi and I felt for each other. But David seemed in his element, mediating the moment with equanimity, displaying genuine interest in our humanity, even while participating in the almost ceremonial transfer of his relationship with his wife over to my care.

It was as an afterthought that he mentioned he had discovered a person using "KHaring" as a screen name on American Line.

"I was on the net, looking for articles on Keith after I read your chapters," he said. "Then, back on American Line, I searched profiles for references to him. The results came back with the screen name, ĎKHaringí listed among a handful of fan sites."

"Did you check his profile?" I asked.

"Of course, It came back that there is no profile for KHaring. So, whoever it is doesnít appear to be very forthcoming."

When I returned home that night, I sent several e-mail messages to KHaring. After a week with no reply, I sent five more. Still nothing. Then one night I was online and received a message from Mimi.

>>Pandora: Hi, Art. Guess what?

>>ArtLong: Hi, Mimi...

>>Pandora: I put KHaring on my buddy list

>>ArtLong: Yeah, I put him on mine too... but he never seems to be online

>>Pandora: Well he was on last night, around midnight. I sent him a message... and he responded!

>>ArtLong: !!! ... and?

>>Pandora: He just said heís new online and wants to meet people who are interested in psychology and metaphysical experience

>>ArtLong: Did you ask about the name?

>>Pandora: Yes... he said it was just a screen name with no special significance.

>>ArtLong: Why would he use that name with no reason?

>>Pandora: Maybe itís his name, like Kenneth H. Aring or something...

>>ArtLong: Thatís absurd...

>>Pandora: I just thought youíd want to hear about my encountering him... I donít have any idea.

>>ArtLong: Why doesnít he answer his e-mail?

>>Pandora: He said his system wasnít configured for mail... he said he was working on it

>>ArtLong: I think Iím going to leave my computer on ... see if I can catch him online.

>>Pandora: Good luck, Art. I love you, by the way...

>>ArtLong: I love you too, Mimi. Would you like to do something this weekend?

>>Pandora: I just want to get the holidays over with here. The emotions are pretty draining...

>>ArtLong: Oh yeah... the holidays. Theyíre meaningless to me. OK, then, how about next year?

>>Pandora: Seems like a long way off...

>>ArtLong: Actually, right around the corner...

>>Pandora: Right! ASAP then, next year, OK?

>>Merry Xmas Mimi

>>Pandora: Thanks, Art... you too!

>>ArtLomg: Bye, baby... sigh

I spent the holidays glued to the computer screen, waiting for the elusive KHaring to appear online. Then shortly after the first of the year, I received an e-mail message from a "KHaring2."

>>E-Mail Message From: KHaring2 To: Art Long

>>Subj: Greetings!

Hi Art!

Itís Kay! We got a new computer for Christmas. I knew you were on American Line, along with a lot of my friends, so I signed up too.

Maybe this would be a way for us to communicate. Not as direct as person to person, but, safer... you know?

As soon as I get some time to myself. Iíll write again. Please respond and tell me how your writing is coming and how you are doing? I think of you often.



P.S. I applied for the screen name "KHaring", but there is already a KHaring on American Line. I wonder whoís using that name?

to be continued....

Nothing Dies, Chapter 11
is currently available:

Nothing Dies 11


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