American Taliban

So south on 12 from Southern Shores through Kitty Hawk into Kill Devil Hills out of Nag’s Head on to Whalebone and Bodie Island toward Oregon Inlet toward Rodanthe past Salvo past the residential developments of upper Hatteras…

where traffic thins and land narrows, he and the girls drove and drove and drove, and finally water, water left and right, water straight ahead, they were driving toward water, water and sky and water and sky, finally. Spurts of dune grass barely holding on.  In the washed out area at Exe, hit by hurricane Wye in July, bulldozers rumbled in the sun, building walls of sand, preparing for hurricane season starting in September.  On the stereo, a double Dylan cd rather than the usual Bob Marley.  The girls were trying to please him.  For his birthday.  To celebrate his first day, his beginning.

On December 8th, 1980, Barbara pulled up to the stoplight at Florida and California Avenues and realized she was one month pregnant. So he was born August 8th, 1981. So he is nineteen today.  So he and Katie and Co. are celebrating. With this trip.  With Dylan.  Any other day, any other trip, they would have had the other Bob on, wailing Bob—-oiyoiyoi-oiyoiyoiyoi-oiyoiyoiyoi-oiyoiyoiyoi—-top man for wahines worldwide.  John had yet to meet a wahine who agreed to differ.  Not that he disliked Marley, but very little reggae soon fulfilled his need for reggae, therefore he was grateful to have Dylan along for the ride—Dylan the prophet.  For his senior thesis in World Religion, he’d written on the mystical prophets of the great religions, proposing—not so originally, he now realized—that Emerson and Whitman and Dylan belonged on the same list. In class, they’d read excerpts of the Old and New Testaments, the Qu’ran, Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon, as well as creation myths of the Middle East and Africa and China, and he’d gotten interested in prophecy, which totally bothered Barbara.

Every great cause, she’d quoted, begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.

I agree with you, John said, but that doesn’t mean that the original vision was false.

Reading, he’d noticed that the same ideas recur in all mystical systems, in all time, even Barbara’s.  For example, the importance of love or aloha.

Love, love, love, love is all you need.

The Beatles, he’d told her, or maybe just Lennon, could maybe also make the list.

The Sufi master Halki called the variations and differences between mystics numberless waves, all from the same sea.

So waves.  John watched them, surfed them, and knew each one as unique, but also the same: another wave.  So he read more Halki.  And Sufism.  Mohammed understood his own prophecy as an evolved rather than new truth, he read. Which shows integrity, John thought.

On the radio, Dylan asked, Did Judas Iscariot Have God on His Side?

Did he? John asked the girls.

Was he the one who betrayed Jesus? Sylvie asked.

Yeah, Katie said.  With a killer-kiss.

They laughed.  Well, Jilly drawled.  Seeing as the kiss helped Him become God, He might feel some gratitude. Wouldn’t you agree to die if it meant you could live forever?

No, Katie said.  Why should I care what I am after I’m dead, since I’m dead? They continued toward Hatteras Point, a skinny bar of silence where sky and water meet, blue and blue with only a crayon line of sand between.  In the slow sun the wide-angle windshield framed horizontal bands of water, sand and sky.

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