SINGULAR SOUL

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Clark Major relates another story about his dearest friend, Jason Teampath--Pathers--that enlarges both the breadth and the depth of this singular soul.

Submitted: August 19, 2016

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Submitted: August 19, 2016

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 SINGULAR SOUL

A  Memoir

Nicholas Cochran

 

I would see Clark Major every now and then; maybe three times a year or so.

Clark, very oddly, was almost a doppelganger for Clark Kent. He had the same height and shoulder-width as the S-man, along with the square jaw and the black-rimmed glasses. Clark’s overall presentation was one of a well-timed explosion.

He occasionally stammered when he was around Ginny Turner; all the guys did that.

Without fail, during every one of my meetings with Clark, who presently works for a medical tech company, I ask him about his latest times with Doctor Jason B. Teampath, PhD.

Dr. J. had been an aeronautical engineer before he did a volte-face and studied Economics and Philosophy.

He was presently an off-the-reservation Professor of Economics, who, at the same time, easily managed to be a shit disturber for various nebulous causes, which included attempts to convert his students to some aberrant cult or other.

The good doctor had a beanpole physique of some height, searing black eyes, and, usually, a smile.

I had never met Dr. J. but I was able to form my picture of him based on the detailed descriptions related to me by Clark during his rollicking tales of his singular times with Dr. J..

Clark decided at our latest beer and pretzels get-together at the King Cole Room in the Park Plaza Hotel, to tell me a story about the great Dr. J. that he had recently recalled from his halcyon days of yesteryear when both he and the good doctor were a couple of carefree souls heading out on their never-to-be-forgotten circumnavigation of the globe.

Clark, as usual, reminded me that when it came to telling stories about Jason Teampath, they were not really yarns—ripping or otherwise—but rather: extraordinary ‘occurrences’; singular ‘approaches’; gnarly behavior patterns; acts of incredible chutzpah; an ‘oh my god! what an astounding maneuver.

And always with a chuckle, a laugh, a bon mot; and never, ever with malice, or even an unkind thought.

“Jason had, and I think he still has, a gracious quality about him,” began Clark, softly.

 “It is that ability which says that he is going to do something that has to be done; that must be done—certainly not “his way”;no; that is definitely not the Teampath way—but must be done with a certain style, with panache; and that usually means in a way you’ll never forget.

“Jason is the ultimate ‘gentleman'. In fact, I don’t believe Jason has a mean bone in his body. I grant you this expression or description of character is rarely applied with any degree of accuracy, but in Jason’s case he is the standard by which all of us are judged. 

“Not that Dr. J. is a Saint . . . far from it; but his human foibles are in other arenas where other battles are fought, but even in those battles, Jason maintains his enviable standard of ‘goodness’ which so many of us lose once the first shot is fired.

*  *  *

We had sped across the country with the purpose of working on a particular freighter that was leaving from Tacoma, Washington.

We had a brand new and very flashy drive-away convertible that had been entrusted to us in Detroit for delivery in Tacoma, several days later.

After delivering the new car to the happy new owner, we took a cab to the docks and went straightaway to the hiring office where we had been advised to report in order to begin our voyage of discovery and revelations.

Whoops!

“Sorry boys, your freighter had to leave early (translate . . . “we don’t want no stinkin’ preppy college kids on our freighter”) and they got a full crew and sailed out.”

“Okay,” I sighed, “how about Plan B?”

Of course I knew there was no Plan B.

I also knew we were not going to just put on our grey flannels and blue blazers, make a sign and put out our thumb for a long hitchhike back to Toronto.

 

This is where the Mighty ‘’Pathers" began to earn his well-deserved immortality in the Hall of Game.

 

We quickly found a list of all vessels leaving the West Coast within the coming two weeks.

There was one.

The Orsova. A P&O ship.

It was sailing from Vancouver.

Tomorrow.

It was now about ten in the morning and there was a bus leaving in half an hour.

For Vancouver.

We took it.

We then discussed how incredibly optimistic we were being that there would be any chance to get a ticket on a liner that was a passenger ship—not even a cruise ship, but a passenger ship—where people would be using the ship to get home—or to leave home—for a particular destination; and must have booked their passage months in advance.

Casting reason to the wind, as well as all those sensible and mature reactions to our virtually hopeless situation, we stayed on the bus.

We had a slight moment of anxiety when Canadian Customs and Immigration wanted to know why we had left Canada, entered the States and now wanted to re-enter Canada with no job, little money, and a very weird story about wanting to catch a ship tomorrow for which we did not have tickets.

Nevertheless, they could not get around the fact that we were citizens—I think,  much to their disappointment—and that, weird or not, we had Canadian Passports and had to be allowed ‘back in’. 

 

Once coughed out by the Greyhound in Vancouver, we took a cab to the docks and there she was—the Orsova—and she looked so fine.

We barged into the O & P office, up to the counter, and stared at the forty-something balding fellow operating the counter for reservations.

“We’d like to sail on your ship.”

“Okay; may I see your tickets, please?” He was all teeth, no chin and had sweat saddlebags on his plain white shirt.

“Well, we don’t have any yet; we’re here to buy a couple.”

“Oh really . . . is this some kind of joke?”

Pathers and I tried to look big and important with a serious look and deep voices, “Of course not, what’s funny about sailing on your ship?”

“Look fellas, I’m a little busy now. I have a ship to launch tomorrow . . . goodbye.” He turned back to give directions and ask questions of the five women and four men who were consumed with the problems of table seatings, special meals, gluten free fare, booster seats in the toilets of the cabins housing the elderly, as well as answering the phones and barely keeping the lid on bedlam.  

Deflated, meekly . . . bummer, “Goodbye.”

 

“Well,” I said to Pathers, “What do you think, man; got any mojo left?”

A certain look came into Dr. J’s eyes…

“Wait here Majors . . . I have a plan.”

I waited there on the dock while I looked over the magnificent ship.

Then I walked back and forth along the dock just taking in every foot of her. This gorgeous craft could convey me away on waves of experience; transport me to ravishing and indelible memories.

 

After almost an hour I wondered if Pathers had just left . . .but to where? We didn’t even have a hotel room yet.

I returned to the O&P office.

Jason was hanging his long frame over a counter near the back of the building, talking with someone I couldn’t see.

As I drew closer to Jason, I saw that he was engaged in a warm conversation with an extremely attractive young woman.

She was tall, blonde, and comely. She was also very clearly as warmly engaged in the conversation with Jason as he was with her.

 

“Something told me to turn and get out of the building; you know, Nick; when you get that feeling that sends a hot signal to you that something good might be in the works; that feeling that silently screams to you that you must just turn away and trust your instincts. (and your buddy)

“And I did, Nick. I turned away and I trusted Dr.J.”

 

For the entire thirty minutes before Jason found me, I had been wearing a groove in the pavement of the block in front of the O&P office. The pacing became automatic; my thoughts melded with my hopes, my supplications to the gods of the sea . . .or the gods from anywhere.

Pacing back and forth . . . pacing . . . pacing. Suddenly he materialized like a wandering Buddha.  

I sprang upon him like a condemned man, and asked the status of our fate . . . and, by the way, who was the great looking chick?

“Majors, I have a date this evening.”

“Well good for you, Stretch . . . la de dah; what the hell are we doing about getting on this ship, for crissakes?” I was almost screaming as I tugged at his favorite sweater.

“Majors, I have a plan; and I don’t want to jinx everything by talking about it; but I feel . . . well; better.”

“Well, again; la de dah for you; what about our ship; what about our ship?  It’s sailing tomorrow afternoon!

“Majors, let’s get a hotel room. I have a dinner date; and we’ll see.”

He headed back into the office to get his luggage. I followed.

 

“Well, Nick, we got a room in a hotel recommended by my mother, (say no more) but we survived. At any rate, in what seemed less than fifteen minutes, Dr. J was showered, shaved, shined and shampooed; and out the door.”

“Majors, don’t wait up for me . . . this might take a while.” And he was gone.

 

After some food and a few Molson Blues, I was allowing myself to consider the impossible: could it really be that Dr. J. could? . . . nah.

However, after another couple of Blues.

 Jeez…I wonder.

 

I had not been a close friend of Jason’s; or even that close of an acquaintance of his before we set off that fine November day from the Central Train Station in Toronto.

When our train failed to move for several minutes after the scheduled departure time, I suggested to Pathers that his mother was probably lying across the tracks of our flight to adventure.

She had been dead set against her son’s ‘harebrained bolt’ into the unknown.

Her husband had died two years earlier and she fully expected—almost demanded—that Jason immediately assume the position of CEO and President of the Board of the family business.

 

“Well, Nicky, I guess they removed her resisting carcass from the right of way; and we were underway to stay with Pather’s aunt and uncle in Detroit. The next day we picked up our convertible drive-away car to be delivered in Tacoma.

“I had heard about Pathers’ ways with the ladies; and I had encountered him at various Frosty Frolics and Bunny Hops and the like from Casa Loma to the Hunt Club.

“On each occasion, he was escorting a Toronto beauty of one size or another, but . . . this . . . ?"

*  *  *

When I got back to the hotel, I guess I passed out because the next thing I heard was Jason’s voice saying: “Majors . . . Majors!”

“Hunh?” was about all the speech I was up to.

“Majors. Go to sleep. We’re on.”

Another “Huh?”, and that was it for the night.

 

Next morning, I managed—as always—to jump up, put on a bright face, and ask

Dr. J. what the hell was going on . . . what had gone on?

Well, he said not a word as we headed for the O&P office and, like Santa Claus, he went straight to his work.

He strode up to the ticket counter and gave the still-balding  fellow our names  and asked for our tickets.

In a flash . . . two golden ducats for the Orsova flicked from his hand to Jason’s.

Jason handed me my glorious passport for adventure as I stared silently at this most remarkable guy—Pathers. Stretch. Dr.J.—this most remarkable guy.

 

“Okay, Majors,” handing me my priceless passport to the world, “we’re on; let’s go . . . oh, hang on a sec; yeah, wait a minute.”

He turned around and walked toward the back of the building, where he, once again, hung over the counter and began to speak very warmly with a person I couldn’t see.

He remained there in that position for some time.

 

“And so, Nicky, I could only imagine what the talk was about.

“In fact, to this day, I have no idea what the conversation was about—in specifics that is.

“Generally, though, I know Jason was thanking a really lovely, and kind, and caring young woman for taking pity on a couple of weird—but honest--young guys

Jason had convinced her that we were simply two young men who wanted to make the most of their youth; to see how the rest of the world was tackling all those perennial problems that have bedeviled humans since the ice receded.

“And maybe, just maybe, find an answer or two that we could use to help improve the lot of some of those kind hosts in all those wonderful countries we visited.”

 

Clark inhaled deeply and was silent for several moments.

I felt as though I was inside his head with him reviewing all the images and the after-images that comprised the essence of his magical year ‘out in the world’.

When he eventually spoke, his voice seemed removed form his body, as though he was in the center of a large echoing zone, where his past and that of Jason Teampath were being revisited and, to a certain extent, relived.

 

“Well, Nick, Jason never said any more about the events in Vancouver than what I have related here; except that he stated emphatically that he did not sleep with the young woman,

“I have never asked him about what he said to her.

“I figure that there was—and there still is—a trust between them; an eternal private moment when two young persons gently pushed aside the panel of the hum drum sweaty existence of continual life and death, and together, glimpsed and accepted, an eternal truth about the whole of all life.

"Theirs was a loving experience of discovering a tear in the fabric of time that permitted them to see--and agree--that, in the overall, getting Jason and his friend on board the Orsova would be an act of detached, but deep, immaculate love.

"True to his character, Jason will never break that trust; which is okay with me. 

We were on!


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.