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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cosmic Cowboy

It is said we all run from something. I was running. Probably for most of my life to tell the truth. On one such occasion, a special man came into my life. I had decided to move to a seaside community of North Carolina, named Cedar Island. That’s when I encountered him. A man known as Cosmic Cowboy. I say a man, only because he was as old as a man. Yet he only appeared to be around eight years old.

He stood there at the end of my driveway when I pulled up in the moving van, as if he was waiting for me. And for all I knew, perhaps he was, now that I know what I know.

“Hi, Conan,” he said as he examined me.

“How did you know my name?”

He pointed at my head. “Your hat says it.”

My hat. Of course. I’d forgotten my name was written across it. A gift from my wife one anniversary. “So, what’s your name?”

“Everyone calls me Cosmic Cowboy.”

“Everyone? Including your mother?” I wondered at such a strange name, if true.

“Yep, even my mother. Says so right on my birth certificate.”

“That’s a strange name to give a kid. Where is your mother?”

“She’s dead.”

“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. What did she die of?” I watched his eyes for signs of sorrow, but didn’t see much.

“Old age.”

Old age? “How did that happen? You don’t look to be any older than 8 or 10 at the most.  Did she give birth to you in her latter years?”

The strange boy shook his head. “No, she was quite young when she had me.” Then he stared at me as if that should make perfect sense.

“What about your Father? Did he die of old age too?” I asked.

“Nope. He died of hard work.”

By now, this was starting to sound ridiculous. I scanned the area, looking for someone watching us and laughing.

I returned my attention back to the boy. “All right, Cosmic. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a van to unload. Though your welcome to help, if you’re able.”

“No problem,” he responded. “I’ve already unloaded it for you.”

I glanced at the parked van and back to Cosmic. “You did not.”

He waved a hand toward the truck. “See for yourself.”

I stepped toward the moving truck and slid open the door. It was empty! My first thought was that he had stolen my stuff, somehow. “What did you do with it?”

“I put it in the house, naturally.”

I raced to the house and opened the locked door. There, before my eyes, was all my furniture, as if I’d worked several hours moving everything. This was impossible!

I turned to see Cosmic walking up the steps toward me. I pointed inside the house. “I, I, I, I don’t understand. How did you . . .”

He smiled. “I told you, I’m Cosmic Cowboy.”

As if that explained everything. “But, I never saw you . . . the front door was locked? What you did, assuming you did it, is impossible.”

His mouth grew taunt. “Nothing is impossible with faith.”

Here it comes, the catch after his little magic trick.

Cosmic cocked his head slightly to the left. “Why do you say in your heart that it was a magic trick?”

I was dumbfounded. Was he a mind reader too? “Well, I’ve seen some magicians do some pretty impossible things before. I’ve even seen one make a whole house disappear. I don’t know how you did it, but it must be a trick like those things. At any rate, I suppose I should thank you and everyone else who might be involved with this trick.”

“George,” rang a woman’s voice off in the distance.

Cosmic said, “Gotta go. My mother is calling me.”

“I thought you didn’t have a mother and that she called you Cosmic Cowboy?”

“She’s my adopted mother.” Then he ran down the road and out of sight.

I shook my head. Pretty impressive introduction to this small community. Still, something about Cosmic, or George, caused me to wonder how much of what he did and said was real and how much was all a deception.

I stepped into my house. I adjusted a thing or two here and there, but overall, everything was placed where I would have put it. If it was a trick, it was a very impressive one. But it had to be a trick of some kind. What he did was impossible.

So, I traveled in the direction of where he’d run.  In this small community, there were not many houses he could have ran to, especially the direction he went. An old two-story house greeted me. I knocked on the door.

A young lady answered the door.  “Hello, sir. Can I help you?”

“Yes. Is there a child who lives here who goes by the name of Cosmic Cowboy?” I felt silly using that name. I felt sillier when she said:

“Cosmic Cowboy? Where on earth did you hear such a name?”

“Eh, from the boy. Is there a little boy about eight or ten who lives here?”

She glanced at the living room where the television was going, playing some cartoons. “Yes, my son, George.”

It matched the name she’d called out. I struggled to find the words. “I, eh, I wonder if I could see him? Just to know if it was the same boy?”

She gazed at me for a moment before turning her head to the living room and calling out, “George! There’s a man who wants to see you at the door. Come here.”

“I don’t wanta,” came back from the living room.

“George Kilwasky, you come here now.”

In a short time, a boy appeared at the door. It wasn’t Cosmic.

I bowed. “I apologize for the intrusion, ma’am. That isn’t the boy who I’d seen before.”

She nodded and promptly closed the door. I stepped down the porch, only to be greeted by Cosmic.

“Hi, Conan.” He sat down in the porch swing.

“So, do you live here?” I asked.

“If by live, you mean do I dwell here, the answer is yes.”

“So George is your brother then? Pardon me, I mean your adopted brother?”

“In a manner of speaking, you could say that. An alter ego really.”

I rubbed my head. “So you’re suggesting that George is really you?”

“No, not suggesting it. Telling you that it was me.”

“But how? You look nothing like him?”

“It’s this way, see. My mom doesn’t know anything about my Cosmic Cowboy life. She only knows she adopted me in the 80s.  When she named me George. That’s when I named myself Cosmic Cowboy, after a song I heard over a radio at the time. A song by Barry McGuire.”

“How did it give you these abilities, though?”

“Oh, I’ve always had these abilities.”

“What do you mean, always? How old are you really?”

“You really want to know? If so, take my hand.” He held out his palm, face up.

Could I trust him? What would happen? I stared into his eyes and gained a confidence I didn’t know I had. I firmly planted my hand in his.

The world around me started swirling, and I almost pulled my hand back out of his. Yet, I held on and he held onto me. Next thing I knew, we were in space. Was he an alien of some kind? His face took on a flashing bright smile that hurt my eyes.

“Why did you come to Cedar Island, Conan?” I heard him say in my head.

He could see through me, I could not lie to him or myself. “I was running away.”

“Away from what?”

“My family.”

“Why, Conan?”

“I was scared.”

“Scared of what?”

“Scared of failure, I suppose.”

“No, that’s not what you fear.” He gazed upon my face and it no longer hurt to stare into his eyes. “You fear not meeting the expectations being placed upon you.”

He’d nailed it. I hadn’t even realized it. Yet, he was right. The expectations of my father, my mother, my wife, all because of a newborn baby that had come into my world and scared the hell into me—literally.

“That’s right, Conan. When you run from that which you fear, you only give it strength. When you face it, it loses its power over you.”

That’s when I felt how ancient he was. He was like an alien to the human race.

The world returned with a swirl and he let go of my hand. “You know what you need to do, right?”

I nodded. “Yes. I need to go back. Face my fears. As overwhelming as they might feel right now.”

He smiled and nodded. “I believe you’ll discover they aren’t as overwhelming as you might think and you’ve created some of them yourself in behalf of others.”

I nodded and returned to my “house” to load everything back in the truck. When I opened the door, the house was empty. I raced to the truck and flung the door open. All my stuff was now in the truck. Packed and ready to go. I shook my head. Did he just move everything back, or had the house stocked with my stuff been an illusion?

I grabbed my phone and looked up the lyrics to “Cosmic Cowboy by Barry McGuire” on the Net. Yep, George was indeed the Cosmic Cowboy. He’d been with my all my life. Time for me to leap. I hopped back in the truck and headed to my true home—my family.