The Sketch of Sam Monroe

The Green Cathedral

The whole place had a bizarre sort of sentience.

We filed down a path lined with gnarled roots and dense vegetation. The smell of damp earth pervaded humid air. Fireflies lent mystic luminescence to the primeval scene. Every now and then bits of stone, arranged in vaguely intelligent patterns, would make us pause and ponder. Until a shove informed that we must troop on.

Sam’s tan baseball cap bobbed prosaically, just feet from my line of sight, intermittently obscuring my view of a darkness that was surprising for mid day. The canopy was thick, stretching some hundred feet above,vaulting cathedral like, assuring the sun dared not defile an eternal vesper.

The hush among us Americans was certainly church like, much to the amusement of our guides, who laughed and sang in a mix of Portuguese and Arawak.

I could tell that Chuck was much annoyed by the insouciance of the natives.

He was a true believer. With his shaggy hair, ginger beard, pale blue eyes, and antiquely rounded spectacles, he could pass for a head freshly plucked from Haight Ashbury. An effect which I found humorous, given that he was younger than me, and I could barely vouch for being birthed in the eighties.

We were shameless hipsters, everyone of us. Despite my studied avoidance of facial hair and engineered unkemptness, I must confess that my very dedication to being a square was itself filthy avante-garde hipsterism. I am ashamed.

Like all trendy fools trekking through a place we had no business in, we were after the Vine.

The whole expedition had been birthed after a smoke session. A ritual of psychedelic transcendence punctuated by an obsessive review of Mckenna recordings and dick jokes.

The Fibonacci Five

Sam had dramatically called for a pause. He then ran to our grungy kitchen (which served as his studio) to fetch his sketchpad. A pretty frequent occurrence.

“The inspired artist!” We cried in unison.

We were our own religion you see. The Fibonacci Five. A church built on pretension and a deep misunderstanding of mathematics.

We weren’t expecting much.

The last masterpiece had featured a surprised looking penguin floating past the horse head nebula, and sporting an erection.

Our da Vince had seemed legitimately surprised when we’d informed him, ‘Penguins don’t have dicks, Sam.’

This time though he really took a while. Our normal silence during his fifteen minute stretches of ruining a perfectly innocent bit of paper, was broken by heavy sighs and passive aggressive bong rips.

At the end of two hours we were so catatonic that Graham asked Lucas to pull Graham’s cigarettes from Graham’s pocket. Locomotion was apparently a chore too great. Stoned in the truest sense I suppose.

It was our rule that no one speak, or halt the process, of anyone under the influence of the ‘Divine Flame.’

Finally, after the course of three toxic hours, Sam rose anticlimactically to his feet from the dusty wood panel floor, and traversing the brief distance to the couch handed me his sketch.

My eyes widened. I held the thing for some minutes. I looked at Sam who was beaming, the deep browns of his eyes dancing with pride.

“Jesus, pass it along will you Alan.” Chuck demanded.

“Hold on a fucking minute you spectacular shit.” I exploded. “This is..this is…fucking good Sam..”

Chuck snatched the thing out of my hand almost tearing it. I had half a mind to sock him and nearly did.

I was not a head. Not for years. Panic attacks had made whiskey my substance of choice. Fortunately for Sam, my vice produced poor aim, and I broke my knuckle on a support beam of our rustic Bohemian lodgings. Though I wouldn’t know of the fracture for a few days.

Chuck was too enraptured to notice my attempt. He sat there staring at it next to Graham, who would have been annoyed had he not been asleep.

“Alright pass it on hog fuck,” Lucas said with calm vehemence in his characteristic mellow tenor.

“Dude, it’s like I’m there.”

“Right?” I said.

“Right…” we all assented.

“Well Sam what the hell is it? You made a photograph with your hands just there. Of something in the jungle. Something wild.”

“You guys know not to question: ‘The Flame‘… just abide. Just mellow.”

“Mellow your ass, fuck-wit, and cut the flame shit, it is s a tool not a thing. Expound the process!”

“HASTILY!” We bellowed stamping our feet.

Graham started awake at this sudden outburst. He started awake and began to scream in a bizarre falsetto.

We were momentarily taken aback. Then having regained our composure, started laughing, as Graham continued to scream.

I threw a fresh tumbler of Jim Beam in his face.

“Relax you nancy…Or at least you’d better, Jim’s expensive.”

“You guys, holy shit, holy shit, I saw a Jaguar.”

“The Jags in the garage Graham. Candy nose Graham. Cause you ran my dads car off the road Graham. You’d better be fucking screaming at seeing a Jag, Graham.” Lucas said wryly.

“What good’s a car untested? …and besides,” he said rising to his lanky six feet six inches.

A height made more comically prodigious by wildly curling locks of sandy hair.

“…and besides I saw a cat, a jungle cat. Black like midnight in the wildest place!”

We all froze. We all knew.

We all knew that Graham had not seen the picture.

”A jungle cat you say?” Sam queried in an unsettling tone with an equally unsettling smirk.

There was something not native to his character; the way he held himself just now.

Lucas wordlessly passed the sketch to Graham.

Who held it momentarily before he began convulsing.


More To Come

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