It was filled with water the color and texture of sewage. Large trees ripe with summer foliage overhung the mire and blocked my vision of a sky dark with heavy clouds. A distinctive grey darkness cast itself across the surface of every plant and animal. Debris of an indeterminate composition, representing the mistakes of my life, floated on the top of the thick water. Snakes of evil, casting an aura of unknown danger moved across the surface of the water, gliding in that distinctive curving fashion of a swimming serpent, the darkness of their backs moving from one debris pile to the other. Their eyes locked mine in a threatening stare and my own eyes locked onto theirs. Each of us measured the other with equal loathing and fear.
I hadn’t come here by design. When I left it was fields of waving green grass, speckled with multicolored wildflowers that I searched for. Throughout a sunny morning I had walked along the forest path looking left and right for an opening that would lead me to that field of pleasant dream. From the trees above the locusts hummed their incessant song. An occasional unexplained noise diverted my attention from the path yet nothing showed itself to explain the scurrying noise from the undergrowth. The canopy of trees above my head grew thicker, darkening the sandy path as the day grew longer.
Just beyond a brown stone bridge the path split. The side I chose led me longer into the day and deeper into the dark. Eventually cold water tickled at my ankles and my feet slid an inch deeper into turf that had become mud. Dark images of large birds mocked me from above. The scurrying sounds of the underbrush were replaced by an eerie quiet, the type of quiet that magnifies its presence by the forceful power of its nothingness. Still, I moved forward. I knew what lay behind. I didn’t yet know what lay ahead, though I searched with hope for my sun drenched field of green.
I noticed the outline of his small figure mirrored in the water to my right side. My attention raptly focused on the snakes and piles of mistakes had honed my alertness to a level that gave the water borne image unusual clarity. I moved my torso a quarter turn in the bog, the swishing of the water at my waist breaking through the silence. I stared at the figure, fuzzy and dark in the shadows of the trees. The outline of a small human form crouched along the earthen bank, his right foot closer to the waters edge than his left, his elbows resting on his knees. He held up his right hand and with a soft and slow folding motion of the hand beckoned me to come closer. He spoke no words. I moved one step toward him, lowering my head in an effort to see more clearly. I squinted my eyes in the manner people use to try to sharpen their focus. I could see he wore only a white shirt, long sleeved and buttoned only in the middle, the sleeves rolled up on his muscular arms in a haphazard fashion. His skin was peculiarly free of any hair, glowing and sleek in the way dolphin skin might look if transposed onto a human figure. His feet were longer than his body size would dictate they should be. The hands had the same out of proportion quality, the fingers long as they folded up and then back out again in the beckoning motion. His penis was small as if Michelangelo had re-sculpted David, crouched on an earthen bank in a bog wearing dolphin skin. I was unsure if I should obey the hand command. I moved three more steps forward and his hand uprighted itself in the stop signal. He smiled a radiant smile of brilliant white perfect teeth that seemed to have caught light from nowhere, further obscuring his facial features in the grayness that surrounded all but the smile. The small man spoke to me in a pleasant inquisitive voice.
“Are you lost my friend?”
“Are you looking for the green field, the one with the flowers, the one that everyone that passes here is searching for?”
“You missed it because you were not looking when you found it.”
“That’s impossible; I have looked all along the path I’ve walked. I never once closed my eyes or quit looking for the field.”
“How is it then that you have come so far to find me?”
“I don’t know, I just kept walking, I was just hoping to find the field and lie down in the sun, I didn’t realize I passed it.”
“You have passed it as I said, yet it remains in front of you.”
“How can that be, how can it be both in front of me and behind me?”
“It can only be found my friend when you are not seeking it. It lies behind you. It lies in front of you. It is on your right and on your left, but you have chosen to wade with snakes instead.”
“No, it’s not like that! I am only here because I got lost!
I looked quickly to my left to keep an eye on the snakes and the floating debris. When I looked back toward the dolphin skinned man he was gone. The eerie quiet returned.