The Rush Is Over
(Photo by Bald Punk – Old Stone House, South Brooklyn)
For the first and hopefully last time, the other day I met a man who called himself the Memory Giver. It’s a silly way to refer to oneself. Though true to his name, he did something to me, and now I can recall a scene that is frighteningly real, though it happened over 230 years ago.
At first the images terrified me. Now I want more. I can’t justify my desire or say I’m not asking for trouble. My head’s a mess.
I can see the inside of an office supply store in South Brooklyn. Coincidentally, I had gone into it a few weeks ago when I took pictures of the Old Stone House.
In what I believe is the first aisle where they have boxes of paper, I see the vague image of a Revolutionary War soldier lying on his back in swamp water. One of his legs is thrown high over the other. It’s possibly dislocated at the hip, while his left arm is definitely broken. It’s twisted like a rag and thrust up behind his back. The muddy water is colored with blood.
The more I focus on the soldier, the less I see of the store, though the harsh fluorescent lighting never entirely fades from the picture.
I feel like I can just see through the soldier’s eyes as he says: “The rush is over. The rush is over . . .”
Images of a long march flash in his head. I think his words reflect the fact that his regiment had to rush here for the Battle of New York.
I can see the swamp water shake, as if there was an explosion. I can see splashing footfalls here and there. But I only hear his mutterings and labored breathing.
I see the soldier press his right hand down into the water and come up with the barrel of his musket. He pulls it closer and then works his right hand to his head. He tries to clean out his ear, pushing it closed and digging in the orifice. I don’t think he can hear anything else either.
He raises his hand and sees the muddy fingers covered in blood, and drops it to his chest. He clenches a single pewter button on the V-neck of his hunting shirt. He’s thinking of his mother. Part of me believes that she had sewn on. He tugs the button with trembling fingers as an inner voice wails out for her. He wants to say “goodbye.”
He believes he can see all the way back to his home . . . he pictures his mother sewing, seated by a blackened hearth. At the woman’s feet are his little sisters. The two yellow haired girls clumsily try to spin a wooden top.
His body starts to convulse. It is at this moment that I can see another woman on the peripheral. I believe it’s either his wife or “lover.”
Every time I recall his plight, it’s at this moment that I realize the soldier’s name is *Max Beckley. The reason has something to do with the fact that his dying soul somehow reveals it.
Max gets a burst of strength. His right arm rises to blazing light that fills both our eyes.
The light fades and his eyes roll back far into his head, and his body jounces. But now he feels better. The pain across his body, especially in his broken arm, has abated.
It’s here that Max knows for certain he’ll die soon. He starts to mutter again, though his words are somewhat clear to me as he says, “South Brooklyn is soaked with the blood of my dearest friends: Erasmus Uhler, Michael Weller, and brothers Patrick and Percy Smoot. Now the land greedily takes mine. Five of us all friends from Baltimore, Maryland, who had once made a pact sealed in our own blood to ‘kill the Redcoats till we breathe no more,’ lived up to that promise. Though here we all lay. It is the first day, in the first few hours of fighting, and the great British war machine has annihilated us.”
Then I hear Max gasp one last time and say: “The rush is over.”
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Seventeen – September 2009
*Here are the posts that introduced Max Beckley:
Episode Fourteen – August 2009