I guess you could say I’ve spent a lot of time with the guru on and off.
The summer I met him, I was sitting in my front yard with the sprinklers turned on drinking a beer. He was walking by on the street in his guru garb, and he stopped in the street for a second and stared at me.
I got up, and I followed him.
He took me across town to the beach, where we sat together and watched the waves come in. “The roar,” he said, “Is like the road.”
When I asked him how the roar was like the road, he told me to listen. I didn’t meet the philosopher until years later.
They stuck the needle into the philosopher’s eye, but not before reminding him it was he, in fact, who had told them to put it there. In a roundabout way he had, they said, when he said the center of the eye was hollow and you could stick a needle right into it because it’s only a hole, after all, and that it could do no harm.
Now the philosopher is blind, but if you ask him, he’ll claim to be richer now than ever. “Life is suffering, after all, and what good then is a life spent without a good wholesome dose of the stuff?”
“I came here, after all,” he mentioned one night, drunkenly, “So I better just get my money’s worth.” I asked him what money he had paid for this, but he just groaned and ignored my question completely.
In the distance, the train songs roll of into the summer distance and every time, I think of the people sleeping in the box cars. Every time I hear a train, I can’t help but think of the blind philosopher who had loved them so much, their songs, at least, lighting his cigarette there in the dark with my help.
I always had a lighter on me, and maybe that’s why I was really his friend.
Every time I lit one for him, he said I would be a king someday.
I’ve lived my entire life as a prince. He told me to take it for granted.
He died too young, and now I wonder where he ever ended up. Maybe he’s floating; maybe he’s nothing, but I still feel like he’s here.
“Never left,” he would say, exhaling smoke into my face, making my eyes burn; I know it. “It’s like the old song,” he said so many times but never finished.
As I write, my roommate talks to me from the other side of the back porch table in the dark. The light from the laptop lights my face, and so I know she can see me, but I am blinded from seeing her. I smile to know how my friend must have felt for so long.
His final words to me so long ago were, “Get me a beer,” and then, “You might as well just punch a hole in the bottom of the can first.”
He died before I could get him one.
Now I leave beers on his grave, but I always punch holes in the bottoms of them first.
The guru once said to me, “You should never trust a philosopher who drinks alcohol.”
I told the guru I never said I trusted the blind philosopher who was also my friend.
“You are who you associate with,” the guru then retorted, all those years later, as if it made a flick of difference.
“Give me something I can use, and I will leave,” I told him then.
He proceeded to stare deep into my eyes while I held his gaze. It was raining, I think, or else the sprinklers had just come on, but maybe neither. The stars were out; I remember that.
After a time, a little grin parted the guru’s lips, betraying his rotted-out front teeth, and I wondered what he had on me. I wondered how such a wise man could let his teeth rot like that.
“Jim Morrison loves you,” he said.
I left, and I still wonder how the roar is like the fucking road.