Bridge Between Heaven and Hell, Chapter 4

Chapter 4   The Therapy Session

Bobby wiped tears from his cheeks as he talked. “My name is Bobby Jensen I’m pretty sure I’m 40 years old, although I’ve lost all track of time. I grew up in Provo Utah, smack dab in the heart of Mormonism. It was an interesting place to grow up when you’re a wild child. I’m pretty sure from what my mother said I was a rebel in the womb and I never quit being a rebel until I met my late wife Rachel, 24 years ago. I knew I was in love the second I saw her when we were both freshmen in high school.  She was singing and playing guitar at a talent show in school. I couldn’t stop watching her I was totally captivated, I actually followed and stocked her because I was to shy to introduce myself. I just wanted to be near her.”

 Bobby stopped for a moment and wiped the tears off his cheeks. “She was the only thing I thought about day and night. She was amazing, even simple things like the way she moved when she walked, and especially the way her long hair danced as she moved. She never wore even a hint of makeup, she had what I would call perfect nine looks with the sexiest lips I’ve ever seen.  She had what I would call the perfect petite body. But what was the most attractive thing about her was her 10+ smile and personality.”

 Bobby paused again to cough and clear his throat. He took a sip of tea before he spoke. “To my total surprise she asked me to go to a girl’s choice dance, and I couldn’t have been more nervous. But she had a way of making everyone around her feel comfortable. I didn’t even know how to dance, but she pulled me out on the dance floor for every slow song and just held me tight. After that night at the dance we were an item, spending every free moment together. Looking back now I can see that every minute together she started to mold me into the man she wanted to marry. She knew how to shave the rough edges off this rebel, but not so much that I became stiff and rigid. She definitely didn’t want me to be like most of the people that we were surrounded by.”

River Man was silent, as he practiced his best Sigmund Freud impersonation. He placed sticks on the fire and sipped his tea, giving Bobby the opportunity to tell his story without interjecting comments or humor. River Man had to bite his tongue several times practicing the silent therapist model.  Bobby wiped the tears off his cheeks and continued. “After we got married we stayed in Provo, I don’t know why. Because we were as Jack Mormon as a couple can get. We always went a little overboard being good Samaritans to keep the gossipers and accusers off guard. It wasn’t that we were anti-Mormon or anti-religion of any kind, it was just that neither one of us could sit through a church meeting. So we made up a little Good Samaritan game, we always tried to beat the churchgoers in our area and be the first one’s to help.  It was like Rachel had a Christian radar for trouble. She was always the first one at the scene of a crisis or just to give a listening ear to the elderly and lonely.

Bobby stopped talking and tossed a stick on the fire and sat silently and watched it burn. It was hard for Bobby to retrospect about Rachel, so River Man let him take all the time he needed to cry and process his grief. Bobby spoke and broke a long silence. “Rachel and I could not have children so she totally over did it when it came to any children she came in contact with. It was like she became a child again as she talked and played with them. She wasn’t afraid to get in the sand pile and push the truck around in total fantasy.”

 Bobby wiped the tears off his cheeks and was silent for a moment and just stared into the fire. “Rachel was always a little worried about being branded an atheist just because church gave her the willies. It was actually pretty funny, she even got a case of church house willies if it was for just a wedding or a funeral.”

 River Man laughed and placed a small stick on the fire before he told Bobby. “You know Mr. Church Hater, I must say as a professional people watcher that there is always more going on in a church then the average Christian can see. I can promise you this, I have sat through more church meetings than I really wanted to. And I’ve seen way too much, jealousy, envy, hatred, lust, showboating, bad acting, and boredom. But on the other hand, I have also laughed harder than I’ve ever laughed in a church. Some people say and do the damnedest things in the name of Christianity.”

River Man and Bobby both chuckled as he told Bobby. “Sometime when we’re not knee deep in your bucket of cow pies I’ll tell you a few stories about the comedy of religion or better yet I’ll let you hear some of my world-famous poetry.”

Bobby said. “I would like that.” In a soft emotional voice as he wiped a tear off his cheek

River man let time take care of itself, as he took a sip of tea and then another. He said as Bobby poked the fire with a stick. “By the way Bobby, I think I’m pretty levelheaded and open-minded as I observed religion. I’m not some snake worshiping, born-again gypsy quoting, cosmic religious goofball. I’m just a believer that God wants people to believe in something. I’m pretty damn sure, God is not a Mormon, or a Catholic or a Baptist or a Jehovah witness or any of the self-serving religions. I’ll bet the last thing you hear just before you enter the womb, is be happy, happiness is a choice. So I think we can throw that religion guilt cow pie out of your bucket.”

River Man started laughing again, but Bobby just stared into the flames in total silence. River man tossed a stick at Bobby and made a sound like a crow calling his friends. “Where the hell were you Bobby, that was some of my best humor, lost forever now because you were crawling backwards inside your own pea brain head. Life is pretty simple Mr. Negative, laughter can fix any and everything including your screwed up mind. Laughter is the ultimate free medication, it can cure depression and even make cancer disappear. You need to grasp every damn opportunity to laugh in life, and to do that you must be living live in the moment. So Mr. Daydreamer, pay attention and quit thinking about this that or the other in the past or in the future. Look into my eyes Bobby, here comes the best advice of the day, Mr. Sleepwalker, life is full of moments that only come once in your life, if you let them slip through the cracks they will find another place where smiles are seen and laughter is heard.”

  River Man tossed another stick at the emotionless Bobby. Listen up, I’m pretty sure Mr. Broken Believer, that we are surrounded by Angels. These Angels are sent to protect us and help us. Some of them are guardians Angels, some are comedians, some are creative Angels. What do you think will happen if all you do is ignore the gifts they bring to your table? Do you think it is possible they will leave and find someone who appreciates their effort? Come on Bobby psychotherapy isn’t cheap, I’m 200 bucks an hour and you’re wasting both of our time.  Not to mention money you don’t have to throw away. You are the poorest man I’ve ever met. You don’t even have one wet penny to buy clothing to cover your skinny little naked body.”

Bobby didn’t smile at the last comment but told River Man, I’m sorry I’m so disconnected but when I finish my story I think you’ll understand. Bobby coughed a few times and then took another sip of tea. River Man used his silence wisely and poked the fire with a long stick. He then leaned over and blew on the Smokey fire until a flicker of flame danced in the coals. He the then carefully placed a handful of small sticks on the fire and watched the smoke drift and twist up and out of the black seam in the shelter

 Bobby coughed again and cleared his throat and then continued, “It’s crazy how quickly I went from feeling like I was on top of the world to feeling like I was in a dark prison in my own mind. The first step down the ladder to hell was when my high school friend and 10 year partner in my development business embezzled money. Then he had the balls to started his own business taking all of our clients with him. He was a bishop so he had the influence to convince everyone I was a bipolar sociopath and couldn’t be trusted.

The next step down the ladder was selling everything, all of our toys, my guns, the furniture, and tools because I couldn’t pay my utility bills and the mortgage. The coolest thing about that situation was how Rachel handled the crisis She said she didn’t give a damn about all the possessions. She said she would live in a sheepherder tent out west in the desert as long as she was with me. She told me over and over, if all I have is your love I can be perfectly content.

 A friend offered me a job waiting tables at his restaurant, so I took the opportunity. It was a real ego check to see people I knew at the restaurant ordering food I could no longer afford. The money helped but we were still going through our savings way too fast. Looking back I would’ve just let the bank take that anchor of concrete and wood from us. I really think we would’ve moved out to Nowhereville were Rachel and I could have been be free. Rachel didn’t want to work for money, she believed God would take care of us if she was just Giving of herself to the have-nots of the world.

 One morning I was sitting at the kitchen table mesmerized by a heavy falling snow. I was trying to decide what bill to pay with the last of our savings. The strangest thing happened next it was like the window next to me was opened. A feeling of total cold darkness held me so tight I couldn’t speak. I instantly felt angry that Rachel wouldn’t get a job and help with the finances. Just then she walked into the kitchen smiling. It was like the devil spoke to her through my body. He said things that I would never say. Rachel was shocked by the words and left my lips, because I had never said anything I regretted in 20 years of marriage. She said nothing, just turned and walked away, to go make the world a better place like she did every day.

 Bobby began to sob uncontrollably and River Man let him cry and watched Angel snuggle closer Bobby. He finally cried himself to sleep. And River Man took the opportunity to whisper to Angel. “The suspense is killing me Angel. If he dies in his sleep, which he could do with that damn sleep apnea snoring problem he has, I want you to stick your tongue down his throat as far as you can and revive him. Angel let out a grunt that sounded like he didn’t appreciate the old man’s sense of humor. River Man Giggled softly as he poured himself some more tea and placed a few small sticks on the fire. Then he started softly singing the lyrics from an old Texas country song, “Time will take care of itself if you leave time alone…”

  While Bobby slept River Man continued working on his leather project, occasionally laughing to himself and then writing down his thoughts in the beat up old journal. Bobby suddenly startled in his sleep and stood up and hit his head on the main beam supporting the shelter. He was totally naked and had a wild crazed look in his eyes. River Man started laughing uncontrollably until he coughed for several minutes. Bobby was embarrassed and wrapped backup in his nest of blankets and put his arm around Angel. River Man chuckled and looked at Bobby. “Wow, that was a defining moment in my life. I had no idea I was gay until you were standing there, showing me your microscopic glory in your delusional half sleep.”

 Bobby said curtly, “Screw you old man, everything in this life isn’t funny. It sure as hell hasn’t been in my life.”

River Man casually took a drink of tea and then gave Bobby a stern look. “You know Mr. Negative, that humor killing attitude has been my suspicion about you since you told me about the failed flying attempt off the bridge. All you really need to do to find happiness is change your perspective. It’s real hard to see all the funny crap that is drifting around everywhere this world when your head is down and that small appendage you just showed me his dragging in the dirt. I think it’s time you finish your story. It’s going to be impossible for me to practice half assed armchair psychotherapy on you if I don’t have the whole truth. Although right now to loosen up your lips I’m leaning toward a River Man special tea enema and if that doesn’t work, maybe a frontal lobotomy. It worked out well as an option for therapy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”

 Once again Bobby showed no emotion from River Man’s comments. River Man looked at Angel and spoke. “I must really not be funny at all. I think I’m going to blow this pop stand and see if I can’t find a comedy school.”

Bobby didn’t acknowledge that he had heard River Man speaking he just stared at the fire for a long time before he said, “The day the world stopped turning the devil came calling, Rachel was coming home from donating time at the homeless shelter. She felt like it was her job to turn all the children that were victims of circumstance into artists like her. She believed art was the best way for kids to express their feelings about their family situation. Sometimes she would bring home pictures that children had drawn that truly made me cry when I heard the story of that child.

 Bobby had to stop talking about her story for a few minutes as he got control of his emotions. Finally in a shaking voice he continued. “Rachel was driving home and all I really know for sure if she didn’t make it. I believe she stopped to help someone she thought was in a situation of need. And most likely was abducted.

  Bobby was holding himself and rocking back and forth in his nest as he cried. “The hell of the whole thing was me waiting impatiently at home ready to apologize and ask her forgiveness. I just needed to explain to her about the evil feeling that came over me. I knew she would understand and forgive me and we could pray together for God’s protection.

 Bobby needed to stop again and gather his emotions. River Man told him softly. “Take as much time as you need Bobby, you’re doing great I promise you’ll feel better by talking about this.”

 Finally Bobby continued with tears running down his cheeks. “They found her car at a rundown motel in Las Vegas. The SWAT team broke down the door of the motel room where a quick gun battle ensued. They killed both of those ass holes and DNA proved they were the ones that deserve to die. In searching the car they found her naked body in the trunk and I guess it wasn’t pretty.”

 Bobby started to cry uncontrollably and buried himself in the nest of blankets and deer hides. Angel joined him and Bobby cried himself into a deep sleep. The sound of rain and the raging river mixed with erratic snoring from Bobby and the Wolf provided music for River Man to work on his leather project. He would talk softly to the Wolf as if it was listening and occasionally laugh quietly. Sometimes something came to him from out in the universe and he had to write it down. He would sharpen his pencil with his buck knife and right methodically in his dilapidated journal. Occasionally he would pick up one of his flat river stones and scratch away creating a message.

  Bobby and the Wolf both sat up as a loud crashing sound of breaking wood fill the shelter, Bobby’s eyes were open wide enough to see a white ring around his pupils. As he asked, “What the hell was that?”

River Man acted like it was just another day on the river. He threw the stick on the fire and took a sip of tea. And then sarcastically said. “Well Bobby, since I’m not out there in the rain it’s hard to know what might be going on.  But let’s look at the possibilities, maybe the big dam upstream just broke loose and I’m going to have the opportunity to teach you how to swim. Or maybe this island isn’t going to be an island anymore from all that damn rain. And that angry Snake River is punishing trees that are trying to stop it. Or it’s possible that the beavers on this island are jealous of this fabulous piece of architecture and are trying to destroy it with one of their falling cottonwood tree bombs.”

 Bobby still wide-eyed pointed a finger at River Man. “I’m serious, quit being a ass hole comedian. Whatever that was, it was close.”

River Man interrupted Bobby. “So all of a sudden Mr. Chicken Shit, are you afraid to die?  You just need to change your perspective. I say what a way to go to the next step in the journey. I might say, I think it could be the perfect death. I can see it now, you, Angel and me trapped in this partially destroyed shelter. With me talking nonstop, Making you listen to all my goofy humor, poetry, Philosophy and propaganda. Waiting patiently until we starve to death. We wouldn’t die of thirst because we would be blessed by the rain. Dripping through the cracks in the roof from the tree bomb. It would be your chance to experience the famous CIA waterboarding torture.”

 Bobby interrupted River Man. “Do you ever say anything truly negative or anything that isn’t twisted into humor?”

 River Man picked up one of the small flat River stones he had been scratching on and threw it to Bobby. “You might want to just hang onto that message rock, and every time you think a negative thought rub it between your hands. I can see that you need a reminder not to be a negative, uptight dipstick that nobody wants to hang around.”

 Bobby read the message on the rock, “laugh” Bobby said softly as he looked at River man.

 “A pretty simple idea that will lead to happiness don’t you think Bobby, oh and by the way you might want to take some time and memorize that. There will be a surprise test sometime soon.”

River Man laughed and watched Bobby Distracted again in deep thought. “You just failed the test Mr. Never Laugh, holy crap it’s only been two seconds. Do you have some kind of learning disability?”  Bobby just sat in the nest of blankets rubbing the flat river stone with his hands. He stared into the fire so distracted by his own thoughts that humor eluded him.

 River Man went about his business filling the tea can full of his special dried mix. Then he filled it with water from a can that was catching rain water leaking from the roof. He placed a few sticks on the fire and then picked up his journal and started writing. Bobby seemed totally unaware of what River Man was doing. Finally he laid down and put his head on Angel and slipped into another deep sleep.

The Bridge Between Heaven And Hell-
A Story About Changing Preconceived Perceptions About God,

Book 1   of   Unlikely Disciples.
© Paul H. Keeler… A Cosmic Cowboy

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