I needed to learn to create again so I decided to go Beyond the Red Haze which could be anywhere. I could write about anything as long as it was pleasing and healing to my spirit. I would not need to go back into the past if it was painful or into my future if it was frightening. I could just create a place called Beyond the Red Haze and make it pleasing to my consciousness. If that was not possible then I could just abandon such a project, but it looked as though I had reached an impasse. I who had always read a lot of books needed to write a book that would be pleasing to me once again to pick up and work on. My last book had been very painful, indeed, a memoir.
How was it that I had lived such a painful life that writing my history would prove to be so fraught with difficulty, I had just had to put that memoir away somewhere. And leave it alone. Perhaps for a hundred years. It was finished. I had nothing left to say, at least about that part of my life, the early part, which had only led to another difficult part.
Life was not easy, life, which was why there had always been story tellers who would tell another story about life, that was not really life, but a variation. You would have to go through sort of a red haze to find this reality. Where nothing really hurt that much. An alternate reality. Some kind of fantasy.
I had always scorned fantasy, but that was because I had to build the strength to write my memoir. Now that it was done I could embrace fantasy again, perhaps. I wondered if I still had the capacity to create an alternate reality, but I had a very big job ahead of me. I was old. I had to create a hereafter, which would be real enough for me to inhabit, pleasant enough for me to accept, heavenly enough to seem like heaven, with a little bit of hell to pay for my sins.
So let us go, you and I, beyond the Red Haze and see what lies beyond.....I have always wondered.
CHAPTER ONE: Where am I, really?
"Oh, hello. Where is this place? Looks like a nice ranch, green pastures, horses grazing in the fields. Horses? Oh no, I am far too tired to mount a horse. Don't tell me I am going to have to ride horses in this place?"
"Not at all. Nobody said you had to ride the horses."
"I should hope not. Who are you?"
"Nobody you know. My name is Earl. I thought we could have a conversation, and this would be a nice setting. I understand you are from the west, just arrived."
"This looks like Montana? Could you be from Montana?"
"I might be. Do you have anything against guys from Montana?"
"No. Not really. Is this a dude ranch?"
"You could call it that. We have those here. You just died, you know."
"So how did I end up here? In a place that looks like Montana in the company of a guy who looks like he knows his way around on a horse. Otherwise why the horses gazing in the green fields? My, my. So I just died and went to heaven. I assume this is heaven. Green pastures. Probably the kind of heaven I would want if I were to go to one."
"Must be. I have been waiting for you. They said you were a real nice lady. They thought a time of recovery on a ranch would be good for you. I am about your age. I thought I could kind of show you around. Talk a little bit. Nothing too upsetting or stressful they said."
"If you expect me to ride a horse, make sure my mount is a gentle one. I have had a rough ride in life and I am not ready for a fast horse by any means."
"I am sure I can find one who will do. By the way I am not your regular run of the mill western rancher. I have done a lot of things in my life time. I just happened to be here at the time you arrived, so they asked if I would take you as another guest. I am sure we will get along fine. Do you want to talk about anything in particular?"
"God no! I mean you will have to do the talking for a while. I need to rest my mind."
"Take it easy, lady. There is no need for you to get excited. This is a place for recovery time. I guarantee there will be absolutely no stress here."
"Where could that be, I wonder."
"I don't believe in stressing people out, let alone a nice lady like you. I see you need to take it easy, you have made such a fuss about the tiniest possibility of stress."
"Thank you. Have you ever met anyone so totally stressed as I am?"
"Oh yes, it is quite a common condition when people are ready to leave the earth. That's why they have to leave. They are too stressed to stay. They need to go home to green pastures."
"You know how the earth is now days, stress wherever you turn. The earth is changing, you know. It is no longer a peaceful place for so many. The climate is changing and the weather is even causing a great deal of new stress with worse to come I am afraid. Corporate greed has become an awful problem."
"Corporate greed? How odd to hear that word here in such a beautiful peaceful setting."
"I am surprised there isn't corporate greed here, too. If there isn't, it really must be heaven."
"We have learned a few lessons by the time we wake up here about repentance. I used to be a dreadfully ambitious man when I was on earth. I just could not stop money grubbing, but now I have come to another conclusion about what I should be doing with my life. Now I try to make life better for all the people I used to stress out, like yourself. I try to make it up to the women especially."
"You were a male chauvinist pig?"
"I am afraid so, but I am no longer afraid of being accused. It is after all the truth. I stopped fighting the truth. It has made life so much better for me and for others. You can't imagine, because I was a very powerful man at one time, who could make life hell for people if I chose to do it. Unfortunately I chose to do it."
"Are you sure you have changed?"
"Oh yes, don't worry. I have had a long time to practice here. To keep from reverting to my former miserable self. I find I am much happier if I just try to get along with the women instead. Funny, how long it took for me to get the idea of how to become a civilized man. I was many years in hell, just over the hill. There is hell, you know. I was only able to inhabit this nice peaceful place a year or so ago.
"Indeed. Well, you sound nice enough. I suppose I can trust you. I will soon be gone, if I find you the least bit obnoxious, I assure you. Now I need a change of pace, if you could show me to my room. I need to relax and take a nap. I have been up for too long."
"Oh yes, you have a lovely room with a view to the south. A nice place to take a nap. Come this way..."