I must have looked askance, because Lee was moved to comment, “Just for the record, Hector, I was stone cold sober at the time.”
“Hey,” I responded, waving my hands to ward off the suggestion that I’d ever thought otherwise. “I didn’t say anything. Tell me about the light.”
“It was orange-yellow, round, like a little sun. As I walked it seemed to move with me, lighting up the ground around me, like I was in a spotlight. I felt a presence…a consciousness…and then it started talking to me.”
Lee paused and sipped thoughtfully at his tea. I tried to be patient and wait for him to continue, but that didn’t last long. The suspense was killing me.
“So what did it say?”
Lee took one more slow sip before answering. “Well, it was kind of garbled.”
“What do you mean garbled? Like a bad connection?”
“No, it was more that the voice was mumbly. Like somebody who’s drunk, or Bob Dylan. I mean, I understood a lot of it. There was a bit about seeking knowledge, that was pretty clear. And there was a whole thing about love, how powerful, how sublime, all that. But the last thing it said, well….” He shook his head. “I keep thinking I must have heard it wrong.”
“Why? What did it say?”
He looked rueful. “It sounded like, ‘Play the bongo drums.’ I was getting ready to ask for a clarification, and then it just turned off, like somebody flipped a switch. The light was gone, the warmth was gone, the presence was gone, and I was back in the desert by myself.
“So after that I quit my job. Actually, I didn’t quit so much as just stop showing up. I took my savings and bought this place, and now I go out walking every night. I keep hoping it’ll come back, but nothing so far.”
After taking some time to process this strange tale, I asked what seemed like the most logical question. “Have you tried playing the bongos?”
Lee pointed to where a set of bongos sat on an end table. “I play every day. It’s fun, but it doesn’t seem to accomplish much.”