Tink and Ram 3

Ram was look­ing puz­zled as Tink walked up to him. 

“Hi, Ram, what’s . . . ?”  Her ques­tion stopped as she looked in the direc­tion where Ram was staring.

“Ram, where’s our bench?”

“Damned if I know,” was his response as they both pon­dered the vacant space where their favorite bench had always been.  Now there was noth­ing save a bare con­crete slab with the rem­nants of four bolts embed­ded in it and the shad­owed out­lines where the bench legs had touched the concrete.

“You don’t sup­pose some­one stole it, do you?” she asked jokingly.

“Nah.  Wouldn’t have been worth the trou­ble of undo­ing those bolts and then haulin’ it off.  Not to men­tion that it prob­a­bly weighed a cou­ple hun­dred pounds.  I expect some­body in the city main­te­nance depart­ment decid­ed it was need­ed elsewhere.

“They shoul­da checked with me first,” he smirked.  He knew that would nev­er have happened.

“Well I think we ough­ta track it down and bring it back,” she teased.  Ram knew from the tone of her voice that she was mak­ing light of the situation.

“You’ll have to be the one to car­ry it back.  My sci­at­i­ca, ya’ know?”  Ram was get­ting into the humor of the moment despite a deep-seat­ed annoy­ance at sud­den­ly and unex­pect­ed­ly find­ing “his” bench gone.

“Well, let’s go find anoth­er,” inter­ject­ed Tink.  “Let’s see if we can find one that will be in the shade dur­ing the time we’re here.”

“Good idea,” agreed Ram and they set off to locate anoth­er bench.

As they walked, Ram inquired about the cane that Tink had brought with her for the day.  “That’s not real­ly a cane, Tink.  Is that from Walt’s collection?”

“Actually it is, but it’s a walk­ing stick rather than a true cane.  Don’t know if you knew it or not but Walt had kept short descrip­tions of each of his col­lect­ed items, describ­ing where they came from and what they were made from.  This one is just a sec­tion of pine limb that he scav­enged him­self.  He debarked it, smoothed it with a rasp and sand­pa­per, shel­lacked it and drilled it for the leather loop.”

“Pretty nice for a nat­ur­al piece of wood,” replied Ram as they found a suit­able bench for the morning’s tête-à-tête.

Following a short pause while they both accus­tomed them­selves to their new loca­tion, Tink asked, “Ram, do you believe in reincarnation?”

“What?” was his some­what star­tled response.  “Whatever brought that up?”

“Oh, I just thought it was an inter­est­ing sub­ject.  I was watch­ing an old movie last night that had some­thing to do with rein­car­na­tion and I sus­pect that there are a lot of peo­ple who real­ly believe in it.”

“I expect you’re right about that,” he mused.  “Patton believed that he had been some notable gen­er­als in past lives.  When he was con­duct­ing the bat­tle in North Africa, he said he had been there before in a pre­vi­ous life.

“Some reli­gions appar­ent­ly believe that peo­ple can be rein­car­nat­ed as oth­er crea­tures or even flora.

“And Harry Houdini may have had some doubts about it since he told his wife that he would try to com­mu­ni­cate with her after his death.  And that despite the fact that he spent a good part of his life debunk­ing séances and oth­er such ‘spir­i­tu­al’ enterprises.”

“For some­one who seemed so star­tled by the ques­tion, it looks like you’ve done some study­ing on it,” Tink teased.

“When you get to be as old as me, you accu­mu­late a lot of use­less infor­ma­tion on a lot of dif­fer­ent sub­jects, but to answer your ques­tion, no, I don’t believe in reincarnation.

“And I sure as hell hope there’s no such thing.  I’d real­ly be pissed to come back as an arti­choke or beet or some oth­er such item, just to be con­sumed by some­one else, espe­cial­ly since I don’t like those veg­eta­bles anyway.”

Tink was striv­ing might­i­ly to keep from burst­ing out laughing.

“Ya’ know, one of the fun­ny things about rein­car­na­tion,” he con­tin­ued, “aside from it just being a stu­pid belief, is that so many peo­ple think they are rein­car­na­tions of some­body famous in a pre­vi­ous life.  It’s always Napoleon or Elizabeth the First or Julius Caesar or William Shakespeare.  It’s nev­er John Plainbody who worked in a coal mine in Wales, got black lung by the time he was forty and got run over by a bus while stag­ger­ing home from a late-night drunk­en debauch­ery that got him tossed from the local pub.

“Reincarnation is just anoth­er one of those fool­hardy beliefs like an after­life or Heaven and Hell or alien vis­i­tors from out­er space or ghosts and poltergeists.

“I real­ly can’t under­stand why peo­ple let their lives get bogged down with this type of clap­trap, stuff that can nev­er be proven one way or another.

“Maybe peo­ple just want to escape their every­day drab exis­tence by deal­ing with these things, but it’s all a very sad way to try to explain things that are unexplainable.

“As for me, I pre­fer to live for the day, to just mar­vel at what we have in the here and now.  I real­ize that there are mil­lions of peo­ple all around the world liv­ing under unbear­able con­di­tions and that’s tru­ly sad, but the rest of us can help in small ways and use the rest of our time here try­ing to do good, to make this a bet­ter place for every­one else.

“Getting bogged down with all this super­nat­ur­al gob­bledy­gook just wastes a lot of valu­able time that could be more effec­tive­ly spent just appre­ci­at­ing what we have.”

“Wow!” inject­ed Tink, “You’ve obvi­ous­ly spent some time think­ing about it even though you char­ac­ter­ize it as some­thing quite stu­pid.  But, just pre­tend that rein­car­na­tion did exist, what or who would you like to come back as?”

“Ha, Tink,” he react­ed, “I can hon­est­ly say that I would choose to be passed over for rein­car­na­tion.  I think I’ve expe­ri­enced enough joy and sor­row, hap­pi­ness and grief for an eter­ni­ty, let alone one life­time. I would con­sid­er it an end­less vaca­tion just to be able to sit back and watch mankind deal with itself with­out me being a part of it.

“Of course, that pre­sup­pos­es an after­life of some sort, which I also don’t believe in.  But maybe we can talk about that next time.” 

He smiled at her. “Although I did once hear some­one say that they’d like to come back as a skunk.”

“A skunk,” she mused.  “Wonder why?”

“They said skunks are cute, they have a nice fur coat, and their ass is a weapon.”

When they had both stopped laugh­ing, Tink was bare­ly able to com­ment, “Okay, next time we talk about the after­life . . . or absence there­of.  This bench loca­tion okay for you?”

“Yeah.  It’s okay.”

“Good.  See you here next time.”

“Creeks don’t rise,” he offered as they rose and part­ed, both still chuckling.

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