Call Me Methuselah by R.G. Hendrickson
Since humanity’s first steps in the Stone Age, Methuselah has harbored an ancient secret. Cursed by the shaman to witness the end of days, he searches in vain for a home, place to place, clan to clan, yearning to belong. First in prehistoric Africa and lately disillusioned with love for a hundred years in the New World, he learns all too well to guard his heart and hide his story. That changes when a car crash lands him in the hospital with a fractured skull. Doctors discover strange stem cells in his blood, promising cures and a fountain of youth. Methuselah faces choices of life and death.
Forced on the run again, he comforts himself by reliving a happier time, when he and Arrow, his first love, raft across the paleo-lake Makgadikgadi, which rested in those days on the vast Kalahari. In their age-old journey, the cavemen lovers find a place to call home and learn what it means to belong.
While Arrow’s enlightened sensibilities get the two of them in trouble and challenge Methuselah’s judgment, their adventures in an untamed world bring them together. When Methuselah’s enduring youth reveals itself through the passing seasons, he and Arrow bravely face a dire reality.
From the distant past that lives inside Methuselah, Arrow’s spirit reaches out, providing guidance for our threatened times. He gives Methuselah the strength to do the right thing and the courage to live his true self in the modern world. Arrow’s memory opens Methuselah’s heart and renews for him a hope of redemption in the arms of a caring man today. If only Methuselah permits himself to love once more.
No blood nor gore in sight, I worried that the crocodile had eaten him already, tossed him in the air, and swallowed him whole. Relieved that I didn’t have to fight that monster, I dived down again near the bottom, where the crocodile might not follow me. Its big tail wagged above my head and passed me by.
As I turned to swim away, I found the drowned man sinking. All in one piece, he must have submerged before the crocodile arrived. His eyes were blank, and his many skinny braids floated and twisted like snakes around his head.
No time to waste, I grabbed his hair and pulled him along with me. His husky body nearly weightless underwater, I held on with one hand. My legs and the free arm enough for swimming, I towed him toward a safer shore, near the ledge from where I’d first spotted him that morning.
When I could hold my breath no longer, I surfaced and looked for the croc. No sign of it, maybe it returned to the beach. They didn’t like it here by this cliff with its deep water and jagged rocks. I slipped through the outcrops, as I’d done since a boy.
Losing my loincloth along the way, I struggled to shore with the stranger in tow. By his armpits, I dragged him out of the waves to dry gravel and avoided his eyes. They were open, unblinking, and vacant.
With both my hands, I felt his neck for signs of life, warm but motionless. His mouth was full of water, which trickled out. He was dead.
Remembering him gives me pause. Lately, I’ve pondered my own mortality. Hence, this memoir, I’m not ready.
More the reason for starting in a happier time, the beginning, long ago on that lake with my first love.
We were so much alike then, young and invincible. Only for me, invincibility was no youthful fantasy.
I’ve never stopped missing him. Not to complain, that wouldn’t be fair. It wasn’t me who had to die, and even while grieving, there’s joy in life.
Enough said. On with the story.
The dead man’s eyes bewildered me. I couldn’t bear to look at them or make myself look away. Though we were strangers, we’d faced a monster crocodile together and escaped it. Few friends could say that. As tears blurred my vision, I covered his face with my hands and brushed his eyelids closed.
Then I remembered the words of my father. A boy had drowned. His brother pushed the water out of him, and the boy came back.
Worth a try with this man, I pressed hard on his tight stomach, just below the ribs, and water sprayed from his mouth. Worried I’d hurt him, I checked his face for signs of pain. He showed no expression but peace, a haunting beauty, and over his lips more water flowed.
When I pressed again, he twitched. His eyes opened wide, and when he rolled on his side, lake water spewed out his mouth. Then, to my considerable relief, he coughed and took a deep loud breath. We gazed at each other in the eye and lingered there.
No, he doesn’t die that day, and I get to meet him after all. He’ll be the love of my life. I know this now, a long time later …
About R.G. Hendrickson
R.G. Hendrickson loves words for the feelings they evoke. Though relatively new to writing, he draws on experience from a long life and strong imagination. In his M/M romance, you’ll find quirky characters and fantasy/science fiction subplots.
If you take a chance on his book, he would love to hear your thoughts about it, whatever they are. He also enjoys receiving critiques from the writers group that he attends weekly online from his home in Las Vegas.
For more information, please visit rghendrickson.com.