We slept together every night after that, cuddled up to each other. The closeness made us feel freer towards one-another, and lighter towards ourselves. Our journey together became a celebration of life's greater freedoms.
Key West, of course, turned out to be the worst place for such a celebration of life. Key West might have been a great place for a holiday, or to retire at, a place fore resting and sleeping, but for a celebration of being alive, the town was the most boring place. The town was dead, dull, heavy, just like the Navy's hearing. The only consolation was that a three-day pause in the proceedings had been scheduled to allow for a weekend party. Officially, the recess was granted to enable people to attend a garden party that was given by one of the wives of the Admiralty. Oh, the torture that implied! We had been hungry for anything except an enforced dull event.
Tony came to the rescue that day, like a knight in shining armor. When I told him about our predicament, he began to whistle his favorite tune again: "Puff the Magic Dragon that lived by the sea...." In real terms, this meant that he had access to the Uncle Sam's Air Transport Service. He was sure there were regular milk-run flights going between Key West and Edwards Air Force Base. He was also sure that with his rank and 'influential power,' as he put it jokingly, he could get us on."
"With any luck, we can be in Vegas tonight," he said. "We'll take the shuttle to Vegas from the civilian airport there."
I still remembered how Heather had hugged him for that, with a kiss. What more could I have added in words to thank him?
Indeed we had been lucky. Puff took to the air at 4:30 PM. I had been out of the hearing like a shot, at three o'clock sharp, the moment the debriefing was suspended.
We arrived in Vegas quite late, but who cared? The night was all ours. What followed became the wildest, most wonderful weekend imaginable. My face hurt from too much smiling. Our days became an unbroken sequence of romance, fancy dinners, musical shows, cabarets full of tempo and zest, swimming, dancing, strolling through casinos that were like living fashion shows. Tony seemed to be happy for us. He didn't seem to mind our sexual attraction to one-another. In fact, he seemed delighted. To some degree he became enveloped in it, too. Our embrace became more and more a universal embrace.
The food was mostly excellent. However, that didn't seem to matter. Also the showgirls were everything that Las Vegas stood for, but none of that measured up to the excitement we had with each other. There was something good unfolding between Heather and I. Tony seemed to enjoy being touched by the flow of it all. It was sexual in many ways, but on a more profound level. Being in Vegas was fun, but it became more than that. It became a joy. We even tried gambling once, but that was boring. There was more joy in walking arm in arm through streets filled with dazzling lights than in seeing a few dollar coins being dispensed by the time-consuming, money-eating, one-armed bandits.
Every night we came back to the hotel exhausted, hyper, and Heather and I evermore in love. Sex in those days between Heather and I, in the sanctuary of our room in the double-room suite, became almost a holy event. Something greater was unfolding than what sexuality by itself could inspire. We were embracing each other all night, so it seemed, even in our sleep the fire kept on burning. The embrace of each other that had brightened our day, had simply continued on, except without a thread of clothing standing in the way. It became a case of zero distance between us, an infinite embrace that unfolded into a new definition for Helen's revolutionary concept of the universal kiss. It became an element of a great peace indeed, supported by the warmth of a great fire.
Our embrace was far more than a 'moral' embrace. The very idea of morality had been left behind. We had stepped up to higher ground. The moral voice which cries, "don't do it!" had been overruled by an active principle, the principle of universal sovereignty and universal love. Why shouldn't we have allowed this love to unfold? Nothing came into play that violated the integrity of one-another or could have marred this wonderful, infinite embrace in which the concept of I, or us, became one and the same, and this without any one of us being aware of it at the time it was happening. Tony too was enveloped in this love.
On the third day Puff gave us a lift to Tampa, for a quick whirl through Disney World, a jungle of rides, imagination, and wonders of all sorts. We spent more time hanging upside down or flying sideways, or hugging each other tightly while being jerked around by exhilarating machines, than we spent standing on the ground, apart from lining up.
Tony and Heather and I became closer to one-another than we ever had been. We shared our vacation days away from the Navy, our joy's, our laughs. Then we were off again, late after midnight with Puff's early morning flight. We arrived back in Key West just in time for the hearing that always started at 09:00 hours, sharp.
One of the Navy officials remarked during the coffee break on what a grand weekend it had been, supposing that I had attended the Admiral's wife's garden party, as apparently everyone had. "Half the Navy was there," he commented.
I remembered that I had agreed with him. Worn out and tired as I was, I assured him that the weekend had been one of the finest ever. This wasn't a lie. It was merely a monumental understatement. Of course, the Navy chap had no idea what I was talking about. How could he have had? How could anyone have known what we had shared in those three days? We had been in a tipsy for three solid days, and three nights, too. Thank God for the magic dragon who had rescued us all from the Navy's grand garden party. What a death this would have been!
Heather grinned when I mentioned Vegas on the balcony of the Grand Hilton in Berlin. I mentioned that the lights on Kurfuersten Dam were nothing in comparison with those that we saw in Vegas. Still, there was a resemblance that brought with it a faint renewal of the excitement that had gripped us then.
"Do you remember our nights at the Sands?" I asked her, "and our dinner at the Steak Loft, when you asked the waiter for ketchup with your Chateaubriand?"
"Hey, you should talk," she smiled. "Didn't I see you attack your French Onion Soup with a fork and a knife?"
"Yes, those were the days!" I replied.
"The finest in a long time that I can remember!" said Heather. "I feel sorry for your friend Steve," she added. "His keen, precise logic, and perception of scientific facts, must have given him an enormous jump on the kind of freedoms that ordinary people like us have to earn bit by bit. As for me, I love the learning. There is so much to be found in the process of learning. Compared to our experiences, his life must have been like a journey in a jetliner at forty thousand feet, with all the comforts of piped in music and in-flight meals served with a touch of champagne. I can't help wondering how much of what is so beautifully human he may have missed, like those wonderful little joys, hopes, pains, agonies and victories that are part of the fun of traveling in small hops, growing up day by day? Don't you agree?"
I shook my head and said no. For once I knew she was wrong. I suggested to her that Steve might have missed stumbling through a lot of situations that end up in an alleyway of poverty, providing no gain to anyone. I felt that the doors of freedom that his keener insight had opened couldn't possibly have caused him any real loss. To the contrary, he was able to move with lightning speed through the 'jungle' to the precise spot where the riches can be found, and he helped us to do the same. I reminded her that his breakthroughs did not only benefit himself, but have benefited many people, us included. "Without Steve's pioneering work, I would never have allowed myself the chance to be with you in the first place. I wouldn't have dared even dream of it, much less go to Las Vegas with you and turn the whole town inside out. Without the scientific perception of universal principles that he opened up my thinking to, I would have been too shy to stop for you on the highway going south. What a tragedy this would have been! I would have never known what it feels like to be twenty years younger in one giant leap and be on fire as I was."
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