mr bones vs. tim-buk-tu
But in those days, Willy was less concerned about America, and more concerned with another place – Timbuktu. That’s “the next world”, the place where people go after they die. Once your soul is separated from your body, your body is buried in the ground and your soul lit out for the next world. Willy had been harping on this subject for several weeks and, at that time, there was no doubt in my mind that this next world was a real place. From everything I could gather, it is located somewhere in the middle of a desert, far from New York, Baltimore or Philladelphia. At one point, Willy described it as “an oasis of spirits.” At another point he said: “Where America ends, that’s where Timbuktu begins.” In order to get there, you apparently have to walk across an immense kingdom of sand and heat, a realm of eternal nothingness. It struck me as a most difficult and unpleasant journey, but Willy assured me that it wasn’t; he said that it takes no more than a blink of an eye to cover the whole distance. And once you were there, you no longer had to worry about eating food or sleeping or emptying your bladder. I had trouble imagining what life would be like in such a place. But Willy talked about it with such longing that I eventually gave up my qualms.
If that’s where Willy is, that’s where I want to go too.
TIM-BUK-TU. Even the sound of the word was enough to make me happy. The word alone was a promise, a guarantee of better days ahead. It doesn’t matter how hot it is there. It doesn’t matter if there is nothing to eat or drink or smell. If Willy is there, I want to go too. If there is any justice in the world, then man’s best friend would stay by the side of man after said man and said best friend had both kicked the bucket. And even more than that, in Timbuktu dogs would be able to speak man’s language, converse with him as an equal.
Yes, that was what logic dictated, but who knows if justice or logic have any more impact on the next world than they do on this one? Willy had somehow forgotten to mention the matter, and because my name had not come up once, not once in all our conversations about Timbuktu, I was still in the dark as to where I was headed after my own demise.