Tears of the Nations
Retiring to a quilt-covered couch, he propped his feet on a steamer trunk that served as his only table. He poured another drink studying the familiar deep caramel of distilled courage. Then, bracing himself with a long drink, he leaned back into the folds of soiled fabric and worn seat cushions.
With his head kicked back, his eyes traced the shapes of water stain marks on the ceiling. The figures became hazy, coming to life with images of a dying world and an unimaginable city that swirled round and round in his head until, like the pendulum in a magician’s hand, his eyes grew heavy and he rode the tempest to the ungovernable realm of a deep sleep.
A loathsome dread pressed in on Sheridan as he found himself transported to the scene of a familiar dream:
In the background is spread an industrial scene in shades of gray with monolithic skyscrapers and the smoke of towering smokestacks blocking out the daylight sun. In the foreground stands a hooded figure looking out over a mindless, colorless throng.
The mass of humanity walks in lockstep to the unchanging rhythm of tribal drums and the grinding crunch of a million machines. Then an ominous melody drifts in on the cloak of a dense fog as a plaintive cry is heard:
Our life with its illusion
Nothing’s as it seems
We look for satisfaction
In temporary things
A quest for that which pleases
Leads us to who knows where
We barely see each other
As into a box we stare
The dark figure turns, the solemn stare of almond-shaped eyes burn in the shadow of the hood. His words float on the mist:
The many that surround us
We don’t know their names
A stream of unknown faces
So close, so far away
We do not have a country
We do not have a tribe
Just more huddled masses
Walking side by side
The specter moves closer, his face concealed in the darkness of the hood.
These are the tears of the nations
The common sorrow we share
The great regret of our progress
The blessed burden we bear
With the “Song of Illusions” growing fainter, the dark images begin to melt away and the ageless sage steps toward Sheridan. He reaches for Sheridan’s face, urgently imploring him: “A sacred gift has been lost. You must find this gift and share it with the world.”
“What gift?” Sheridan asks, when like a blanket of cotton batting, the mist envelops the mystic and he is gone.