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Shadow of Light Excerpt


Almost all the way around the massive structure, my heart racing, my mind constructing horrible scenarios, on the verge of hyper-ventilating even,  and ready to make another pass, my eyes were drawn up by the three tall palms that stood on the northwest side of the building, their elegant fronds exploding right at the level of the balcony. And I expired with … relief, I guess.

Daniel was high up on the balcony, framed in a deep Moorish arch, the wind lifting his hair away from his blessed face, his sweater undulating against the perfect shape of him, his sleeves ruffling as his beautiful hands rested on the balustrade, his thoughtful sights to an infinite horizon.

I expired again, rubbing my sweaty palms on my thighs a couple times before I fell into the heart-wrenching vision of him. God, he was beautiful … and absolutely regal, but sad, like a Byronesque poet lost in the horror of himself and the memory of a distant unrequited love. Phuel … and Semyaza—God help me—were right, he truly was lovely, a timeless and slender figure, a breathtaking picture of excruciatingly exquisite solitude.

I didn’t call to him, but made my way upstairs.

“I thought I might find you up here,” I said softly as I placed my hand over his hand.

He slipped his hand out from under mine and, after a torturously long moment, finally turned to look at me with sentiment and understanding, but in a pallid and tragic way, the wind still sloughing his sweater against him and lifting wisps of golden hair across his beautiful eyes. But I had to turn away.

I didn’t want to see his face when I asked him what I didn’t want to ask him.

“Will you go to him?”

“No,” he answered softly and without hesitation as his hand came gently to my back, his fingers electric fiddling with the fabric again.

“I mean,” I was coming undone, my spine starting to shudder, “if you think it might …”

“No!” he shouted, stunning me as he physically turned me around, his eyes hurriedly searching my eyes with agonizing confusion, his chest heaving, his grip of my arms tightening as he just gave in and pulled me up hard against himself and pressed his mouth to my mouth. Opening me wide, kissing me deep, he softly moaned as he rushed to get his arms around me and hold me all the closer, and kiss me all the harder.

God! And I held him, too, and kissed him, kissed him, hardly able to breathe for my surrender and the joy I knew in his arms.

“I love you, Daniel,” I gasped out of our kiss.

Hubi. My love.” His burning breath at my ear.

Then he kissed me again. And the wind blew a fury, tossing our hair and surrounding and praising our oneness with a scented spray from the seawall far below.

Out of our kiss he soughed into my hair and oh, the delicious sounds he made.

“He plays the game well, my love, so well.” Daniel rocked the side of his face against the side of my face. “But what he wants, what he desires,” I could so feel his pain. “I can never give him.” He put a small space between us, his eyes pressing their sincerity before … “Never,” he assured me. “And deep within his soul,” Daniel looked forlorn, “he knows it.”

His eyes brimming, I put my hand to the side of his dear face, my silent empathy holding my heart in a vice.

“That is the tragedy,” he added with such heartache as he put his hand over mine, and drew my palm over his lips, his mouth. Oh, my goodness!

Pity and pity, that’s what I felt—for him, for Semyaza, for all the world, and it started to get to me. I felt those damnable tears, but bit hard.

“Come on.” I took his arm. “Let’s get out of here.”

After the sails were set, he gave me the helm—double-aught-three Magnetic all the way.

Yeah, even before he told me, I knew he needed to rest. There was something about him, something missing, like the light that usually danced in his eyes wasn’t dancing—like it was leaning up against the barre nearly spent and out of his reach.

“No, David. I don’t sleep. I don’t need … sleep, per se, but periods where I may rest, regroup, you know.”

Daniel also told me his emotionalism was ten-fold in a man’s skin, so too the energy he expelled. All relative, I guess. He’d summoned Phuel, overseen my awakening—witnessed the beauty and horror of the beginning times, all he’d loved and lost, then met with Semyaza, and all that had taken out of him.

Man, if looks could kill.

I shuddered at the thought as I pressed my hand to my chest, remembering, feeling again the ferocity of Semyaza’s silent attack—my air so instantly and thoroughly cut off, my strength so instantaneously and completely zapped. Whoa! My back overrun, I expired hard, then again, trying to let it go and just keep to the course, raising my face in defiance of the darkening sky and letting the cold wind strike my throat and batter my ears—make me feel something else, because man, my humanness didn’t need any help.

None of us humans needed any help destroying ourselves … or the world in which we lived; we’d proven as much. But Angels of Darkness—what we’ll call them for now—were helping all the same, and had been since the beginning; clandestinely, to be sure, in fear of each other, in fear of being destroyed. No, there would be no evidence, no witnesses … just ashes. Shit, maybe not even that.

Still, the condemned-to-earth dark ones did their part—one little piece of history at a time—driving the machines that were our minds—that still are our minds—with superstition and fear. Daniel confiding an example: how they assisted in the devastation of the Black Death by rumoring beyond rumoring that cats were minions of evil, causing the poor animals to be brutally tortured and slaughtered, and on such a scale that the plague-carrying rodent population flourished, thrived, even as men died. They simply let man’s fear do the work for them.

And assisted or not, did men look for their part? Not on your kidney plaster. They who survived looked outside themselves for the answers to their torment.

But there are many ways to run away from pain.

Some believed there was simply no good to come, that the end was so near that virtue mattered not, hence turned to the ways of mayhem and debauchery. And the rest?—Hah! Ripe for the taking, starving for a comforting hand, for understanding; they needed to believe that such suffering served a purpose. They looked to the Church.

Religion never played a more prevalent role in the hearts and minds of men than after the horror of that plague. The Renaissance was indeed a time of rebirth, in more ways than one.

With sly and stealthy guidance, the Church was manifest with voracious greed and an unquenchable thirst for power. And it was fear that defined the duplicitous treachery of that power. Acts such as sodomy redefined to encompass a larger populace—those who feared God and most specially those who did not—penitentials the likes of which had never been seen, and punishments so profane that Hannibal Lecter might cringe.

The only safe place for a man was on his knees.

The Papal Legacy prior to the mid nineteenth century—yeah, only that short time ago—was a bloody one, fraught full of corruption, the most vile abuses, and inordinate domination at every level. That the Church survives at all for such an ugly and brutal past is only a testament to the power it continues to wield.

And last Halloween?—Oh, man! That was the day Pope John Paul II issued an apology and lifted—a little late—the edict of the so-righteous Inquisition against Galileo. Give me a fucking break! And my mom—I was over there helping hand out candy—says What a gracious man, a look on her face like she was holding puppies.

Oh, brother! I was out of there. Trick or Treat!

Self-righteous religionism just made me nuts. Like during the English Reformation, the tyrannical mix of Church and state wherein the English Church broke away from the papacy—not that I cared about that part, though it really pissed off Rome because they lost land and churches and Peter’s Pence. It was the way the English Monarchy did it—allowing the violent dissolution of long-existing monasteries—executing monks, for Christ’s sake, whether some of them deserved it or not—and the unpopular sanctioning of the English Bible, which proved the nation’s bane. I mean, if you even hinted that you didn’t like the idea, you were executed for High Treason.

The despotic redefinition of religion by the state was lethal to their society and led to the division of a nation, a nation that still stands brutally divided—in Ireland, anyway, and of course notwithstanding the curse of the sanctimonious butcher Cromwell.

But Henry VIII—Man, talk about thinking with your dick!

And our evolution to an age of so-called civilized man hasn’t helped us overcome the obstacle of our inherent human nature, our arrogance, our wish to be right above all. On the contrary, it’s been a detriment, because the number of men who hate has never been higher in the history of man. And PC is only making it worse.

I heard the term for the first time a little over a year ago and just about shit. And now it’s like all I hear—Politically Correct this, Politically Incorrect that—talk about taking over. And where is PC predominantly based?—in orthodoxy. Like I’m going to allow some pious little group of Bible-thumpers who might have their precious ears bruised if I say fuck to dictate the way I think?—I don’t think so.

I mean it, all of sudden anyone inserting PC-anything into their day to day conversation is considered a standard bearer of elevated thought. We don’t need any more fucking labels. We don’t need any more pigeon-holing. What we need is understanding.

Political Correctness is not only a way to further segregate us, but also a subtle way to control the way we think. As far as I can see, PC  is outright religion’s right hand and the sneaky onset of a new Inquisition.

The evolution of segregation, the evolution of indifference and fear was feeding the hate that was taking us down. But none could see—and didn’t want to see, either.

Yeah, the planet was suffering, too—pollution and deforestation. Damn! Some of the deforestation numbers were enough to scare me   to death—that rainforests cover less than two percent of the Earth’s surface—two percent, that’s it—yet they support forty to fifty percent of the known life forms on the planet! And the rate of destruction at last count—that I was aware of—was almost two-and-a-half acres per second globally! Per second!

Excuse me! Only two percent of the Earth’s surface! Fuckin’ A! Build somewhere else!

Man! We were losing each other and the earth to hate and greed and apathy.

Goddamn it! Why don’t people wake the fuck up!

I was so worked up. And I was at sea for Christ’s sake! I’d never been wrapped so tight while on the water. Never!

Apparently, my ability to get worked up with the least amount of time on my hands to just think was getting worse. And maybe that was part of the problem—why people in general didn’t get as worked up about things as they used to—issues, I mean—didn’t think, not enough time to think, not enough hours in the day to figure out yourself, let alone anything outside of yourself. And if you did venture out, let’s face it, who was fucking whom in the celebrity arena was way more important, right?

I closed my eyes for minutes at a time, breathing deeply trying to let go of the anger and the pain, trying to feel only the rise and fall of the sea beneath me, the wheel in my hands, every winning spray that came up over the cabin, every surge and crash.

But there was something else happening inside me that would not be quelled, something new and frightening. As if I needed to contend with something else.

It was too much, that’s all.

Oh, Daniel! How are we going to survive ourselves?

What needs to happen before we see, before we realize the destiny we’re headed for?

Last year in Khojaly, the massacre of all those people, pictures embedded in my brain—row after row of dead bodies side by side, and the rows and rows of children, for God’s sake!—all the unpublished pictures that Jerry had let me see, pictures I will never be able to erase.

Hadn’t anything been learned? Hadn’t history taught us anything?

Even locally, weren’t the LA riots enough of a warning? Jesus! A fucking battle zone, and less than a year ago—unchecked violence, that Rodney King bullshit, any fucking excuse to vandalize, rob, loot, maim and murder, light fires. The National Guard and Marines deployed! Humvees and tanks on the streets of Los Angeles, smoke and sirens and who knows how many helicopters in the sky.

I heard about this one guy, pulled from his truck by a mob, robbed, beaten, his ear cut almost all the way off, then stripped and attacked with black spray paint—his chest and stomach, and his dick for fuck’s sake!—smothered in black spray paint! What the fuck!

53 people were said to have been killed, and some of them so brutally.

The Dodgers and the Lakers and the Clippers all having to either postpone games or move them altogether. And this was just last year. And does anybody remember? Does anybody give a shit?

I remember going down Western, it was a Sunday, I was doing this film. Hey, the show must go on—though, two days before I definitely would not have been there. Things had died down a little—the military presence, I guess. I was going through Little Korea, maybe three other cars on the road. Freaky, because Western is usually a parking lot. And I see a furniture store, fucking men on the roof with automatic rifles and belts of ammo crossing their torsos like Asian Poncho Villa’s or something. Damn! And this was LA! Well, their store wasn’t looted and burned.

It was only a taste, not even a taste of what it must be like to live in a war-torn land. Man, the majority of Americans didn’t have a fucking clue! I mean it, not an inkling! And I thought of Sarajevo. Whoa, they were in the middle of it—coming up on a year of siege, the once-beautiful city of the ‘84 Olympics reduced to piles of rubble. So many dead. So many more to die if they didn’t get a handle on it—whoever they were. The UN, I guess—though, to tell the truth, the idea of a global army kind  of scared me. I mean, who’d be in charge?—one guy?—maybe five guys? Shit, that scared me, too.

I thought about all I’d been shown—the beginning times. The story would explain so much, so much, but … Hey. Forget it. Men weren’t interested in continuity, except maybe in film. Yeah, recently exiting a movie theater, and five different people mentioned how a  guy ran seven blocks, stole a car, and was cool, calm and collected as soon as he got behind the wheel.

But continuity in reality?—not a chance. Our written histories proved as much.

All the history books in all the classrooms around the world that left more questions than answers. I mean it, there were so many holes. But men had learned, had been conditioned to believe what they were told, even if it didn’t make sense—forever falling back on faith as the ultimate answer for anything and everything that wasn’t understood, only a very few thoughtful enough, brave enough, to stand and question.

I mean, you couldn’t publish a novel if it didn’t make sense. You couldn’t get backing for a film let alone get distribution if it didn’t make sense.

That quote by Mark Twain—It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.

So, thank the stars for people like Bill Hicks and George Carlin, Oliver Stone and Michael Moore. At least, they got people thinking—some people, anyway.

Man, wasn’t it obvious? If real life made any sense there’d be no need for conspiracy theories.

And falling back on faith?—worse than suicide, no matter what Daniel said about good things coming from congregations of good men. The world needed ten-thousand miles more than community service, community service that didn’t matter in the long run, not as long as a thousand different creeds each claimed to be the one and only true word of God, and, for those innumerable truths, countless assholes who blew themselves up in crowded market places or commuter trains while the rest sat back and said It’s God will. Insane!

Rationality and reasonableness have nothing whatsoever to do with any religion and never have. Period!

And yet, the majority of us are gladly, happily, stupidly being led by a noose of promised salvation to our deserved ends, where we will—Big surprise!—not find anything even remotely resembling salvation or forgiveness.

And too bad, because there is a divine aspect of our humanness—that one I knew. For Daniel’s love, that one I definitely knew—the Light of Creation.

So, here’s an insane idea—what if I tell the story? Sure, that’ll go over big.

But then, was there anyone else? Was there another human on   the planet who knew what I did?—the way I did? Did Daniel have brothers who were as he?—with one’s such as me? I couldn’t be the only one.

Right, David! That’s a good one!—a makeup artist from La-La-Land. Not happening.

Here’s my cue: Humanness, enter stage left, walk to the hearth and stoke the fire, before a full house of assassins and no understudy.

Sadly, I raised my face to the sky, to the stars and the fading clouds, to the planets and beyond. Man, so many of us shared the same Genesis, and look at us. We were a fucking mess—a thousand offshoots of belief, each going in their own direction and feuding all the way to the end. Daniel explained that one, too—and from the beginning, it was a very simple plan.

The best plans usually are.

He said a thousand smaller groups are much easier to control than one big one, especially when they’re kept fighting with each other all the time, even the Orders of Truth—he called them, those who followed closely after the ways of the earth and the sky, so many offshoots and no one agrees about anything—in-feuding and no personal accountability—no different than any other system of belief.

“Even they are blind,” he shook his head with regret, “and all for the sake of arrogance and … who’s bringing the wine to the next meeting. So disappointing.”

So yeah, it would take some time for the end to come, but as long as the status quo was the status quo—even with new discoveries and revelations that promoted just as many disputes, no matter how close to the truth—we were never going to see the big picture. Daniel’s dark brothers would make sure their minions—unwitting or not—continued to contribute as handsomely as they ever had to every level of disaccord, and men would continue to be stupidly ruled by their own greed and arrogance … and their apathy.

Nobody was going to figure out or try to do anything about anything until it was too late.

Yeah, man’s segregation had a purpose, all right.

Oh, the Long Beach light! I could finally see it and I sighed, so glad to be home, but at the same time not, because that something was still thrashing around inside me. I felt it in little twinges all the way back, a feeling like retribution or truth or a slap in the face or peace    or …  I didn’t understand. But whatever it was, it was so deep I was having a hard time fighting it.

Then the boat hit the breakwater. Oh, heaven—nothing like the comfort of your own. And I remembered the first time I took The Tub out of Ventura Harbor.

It was an early morning in autumn and the marina was so still, sheltered by a high collar of fluffy white clouds and blessed by a silvery blanket of serenity. Even the rigging was hushed and silent, the only sound, the slip of the water around the docks and hulls.

I was up early, getting in my coffee before a day on the water, and watched from the cockpit, the sun as it slowly came and lifted that silvery veil from the earth and pushed the rest down Camarillo way, as its warmth made the dew drops run in streams down every pylon cap and cabin, watched and sipped as the gradual awakening had the burgeoning breezes lift every flag and burgee from still repose.

I heard the terns squawk and bark at the local brown ducks that were emerging from under the junipers at water’s edge, that were waddling their way down the rocky sea walls to get on the water. I saw the blue heron that lived in the marina make his usual flamboyant appearance on B Dock, swooping down with a siren call in a rush of wingèd splendor to strike a rigid pose on one spindly leg. And I felt my heart beat strong and true because my parents finally trusted me enough to take her out by myself.

Yes, I remembered my exhilaration … and my fear—and thought again of Semyaza.

I knew I’d have to face him one day—my association with Daniel made it inevitable. But I had to be strong. I had to be as brave as I was that day I took The Tub out for the first time, to conquer the fear I’d push the wrong lever or turn the wheel too sharp or not far enough, or too soon or too late. Yeah, I had to face Semyaza the same way I faced that boat: heat up the diesel, turn the key and adjust the throttle, back her free and clear of the slip and head her out before turning her into the wind, upping the main, and bringing her about and pushing her toward the breakwater and the open sea.

I had to conquer my fear or I would never find peace.

There it is—to the right of Chaffee—the channel, and the boat rocked to a new rhythm.

Daniel! Oh, my word! And my chest dropped, the air pushed right out of me, my heart leaping as he came through the companionway, my body covered in gooseflesh as he came straight away to the wheel and took my face in his hands, his hair a bright halo, the light in his eyes dancing again. God, he was so beautiful!

“Forever,” my lover breathed as he pressed his mouth to my mouth.

Oh, let me die like this.

But I couldn’t hold him. My hands were frozen to the wheel.

“Here.” He came around and carefully peeled my fingers up. “They’re frozen.”

“My ears, too, I think,” I said, barely getting the words out I was so happy to see him.

He brought my fingers to his lips and kissed them one at a time, the warmth of his breath bathing them with love, his blessed eyes cherishing me. Man, I loved him so much!

“Better?” he whispered.

“Hmm,” I hummed as his lips found the side of my face, then my ear.

Oh, my goodness! The warmth of his breath, but it was happening again—that something inside me, and I … I needed … I don’t know. I pulled away from him a bit and …

“I’m gonna go forward.”

“All right,” he glowed as he put a compassionate but curious hand to the side of my face.

I uncomfortably fought a wince then took away from him and hopped up on deck, swinging myself forward off the standing rigging to the bow, to sit with my legs crossed, one hand holding onto the pulpit, the other resting in my lap, kind of leaning to the side so as not to be up against the jib. Leaning far forward, I looked down at the water breaking against the bow in one continuous iridescent explosion; then sat back up and looked aft at Daniel. God, he was absolutely beautiful! And he smiled—straight white teeth and lines at the sides of his face and forget the breaking surface of the water. Forget that something that was going on inside of me. I turned around so I could watch him and he threw his head back, and heartily laughed at me. He was exquisite!

And though I once told him I never pictured him a boater, a sailor, I couldn’t see him any other way now but at Rahab’s helm, a sweater luffing against the excellent shape of him, his hair free-blown, his eyes brighter than a thousand stars. For he and the sea and his boat were one.

“David, come on.” He waved. “I’m going to hit the furling.”

He started up the engine, but waited ‘til I was all the way back in the cockpit before he hit the roller furling. I got the sail ties then hopped up on the cabin to release the halyard and downhaul the main. And for every fold of the sail on the boom, every crunching sound of the sailcloth beneath my cold hands, that something inside me churned a little more.

I popped back down into the cockpit and got the fenders out of the lazarette as Daniel turned into the finger then right into the end slip, then leapt out onto the dock before he tossed me the stern line. I made her fast then walked to the head of the slip and waited for Daniel so I could hand him the forward painter, its measured-off length having been left on the dock.

As he stooped low to slip the loop over the cleat, he caught my eye and that did it. The new light that shone from his beautiful blue eyes and the light of his hair that fell about his face brought that something that was deep within me right up to the surface. I started to feel tight and disconnected. Then the wells behind my face started to fill. And before I knew it the tears started streaming, without a sound, without a grimace. Still, I finished stowing the winch handles and covering the winches while he took care of the sail cover and wound up the sheets, and I did a pretty good job of keeping my face hidden, but …

“I need to run,” I told him from down on the dock, keeping my head down, and already suffering from shortness of breath.

“I need to go with you,” he said softly, assuredly as he finished messing with the halyard, then tipped his head a little and tried to catch my eye again.

He knew.

As I ran, the trees passed as quickly as the cars and the streetlamps and the signs, but I wasn’t going near fast enough to outrun the tears. With Daniel right behind me, I wiped at my face as I passed behind Mr. Christian’s then picked up speed to cross the parking lot to the sidewalk on Marina. Faster and faster, car after car after streetlamp after car, I ran. Car after bush after car after lamp, palms and more palms, tall and slender, across the street and in the center divider and next to me, too. They pressed their shadows across my harried path, then red and green and more palms and cars. Everything was fast becoming a blur, a fantastic blur of light and boats and trailers and soft blue neon. Then red again, red like the light that shone from Daniel’s ring, and the light that danced within it, so like the light that danced in his eyes, the light that …

“Agh! My God!”

I hit a wall! I was blind! I tried to see. Blinking again and again as I maniacally wiped, even slapped at my face. Then I saw a hazy figure. Daniel was standing right in front of me.

“It’s time to turn back,” he said calmly, sympathetically as he held my throbbing shoulders.

“What the …!” I started to collapse, my spine buckling, and Daniel caught me, held me up.

“You almost ran out onto Second.”

I dropped to the curb with my head in my hands—Jesus, Second was seven lanes across! Then I felt Daniel’s hand stroke the top of my head and I quick wrapped my arms around one of his legs and held on.

And for the connection that was it, I really started sobbing.

“You finally did it,” my lover consoled as he continued to pet the top of my head. “You are so stubborn.”

“This crying shit!”

“It’s release, David.” He helped me to my feet. “I don’t think you’re finished though, not after holding onto most of it for more than sixteen hours.”

The cars rushed to a stop for the light. Someone honked. Another hooted and somebody shouted something about fags and I cringed, while somewhere a ground bass was consuming everything within earshot.

Jeez, my head was reeling as Daniel got me turned around, and I heard more shouting as I wrapped my arms around his waist and held on tight as he walked me back.

“You knew I was going to do this again?” I cried as I hung onto him.

“You were allowed to see a great deal, David, more than I have ever known anyone to see—and they always cry. See how strong you are?”

Fuck strong! I could barely walk. And God, I didn’t want to do this anymore. Then I saw it! I grabbed Daniel’s arm and practically dragged him over the short wall then across the small lot and in between two trailered powerboats.



Copyright 2012 - 2016 David David Kernan. All rights reserved.

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