Sam Does Meditation – Part II – Courtney Webb
(Previously, Sam Reynold, PI, gets very bored with life and needs a change. He gets an invitation from Green Veil Monastery to come for a weekend retreat and decides to go.) Part II
Later that week: Green Veil Monastery
Sam checked in at the office and confirmed his payment. Going out the door, he was greeted effusively by Brother Huang.
“Sam- shi! So, good to have you back!” Huang made a low bow and then put his hand out for a shake, American style.
Sam extended his hand and the brother pulled him into a hug and clapped his back.
“Nice to be back, Brother Huang.” Sam said somewhat uncertainly. He was still not convinced this was a totally sane idea.
“Yes, yes. You unpack your things and we have lunch, yes?”
Sam was a fit sixty-six years and worked when he felt like it. He had met Brother Huang a few months before when he had tracked a missing woman to the Green Veil. Brother Huang had helped Sam with the woman and then offered a invitation to come back and learn meditation ‘sometime’.
Sam nodded and was led to his tiny dorm room by the silent major-domo of Huang. A tall, skinny young man, he waved Sam into the room and promptly left.
At first, Sam felt like the young man was being rude. Then, as he unpacked his bag he thought to himself, He’s neither friendly nor unfriendly. He’s just neutral. That’s different. Oh well, time for lunch.
Sam took his shoes off at the door and was lead to some low tables. With an uncomfortable grunt, he lowered himself to the floor. Immediately, one of the servers handed him a big pillow to sit upon. He schooted his butt onto the fluffy square with relief.
Getting up will be fun, he grimaced, thinking about the arthritis in his hips.
However, he forget his aches as he was soon chatting with Brother Huang and other guests. The servers ran back and forth with big aluminum trays covered with an array of dishes.
The table was soon covered; a female server brought him a fork wrapped in a napkin and bowed. He thanked her. He realized, looking around, other people at the table were eating with chopsticks.
Hum, he told himself, one step at a time, maybe tomorrow.
His senses were entranced by smells coming from the mix of little separate bowls. Many of the items he did not recognize. He started with fish and rice, two things he knew. He began to eat. Ah, surprisingly good! He wolfed down some more of what looked like trout and started to gingerly pick at a couple of other offerings.
There was an assortment of guests at the table. A couple of middle-aged female school teachers were to one side. They babbled incessantly at Huang about the benefits of meditation. On another side, were a couple of millennials on short holiday from the IT tech business. They mostly talked and laughed with each other about people and events only they knew. An assortment of other types were scattered down the row. The staffers were also having lunch. Sam could hear them practicing their English with the Americans. They would frequently lapse back into their native tongue. Sam, not a language expert, thought maybe it sounded like Korean.
“So, you new here?” The little woman to his left peered up at him with enormous blue eyes. She smiled brilliantly. For a moment, he was taken aback by her silver jewelry. Trinkets occupied every spot on her neck, ears and fingers. They tinkled when she moved, and various stones winked at him.
“Ah. . .” He mentally shook himself. “Yes, first time, very first time.”
“Oh, you’ll love it!” She gushed. “We just love it. Don’t we, Silvia?” she turned to her companion. Silvia sat bent over her food. She had drab, straight brown hair cut in a plain bob. Steel rim glasses adorned her nose and she wore what looked like a dark green painters frock.
Silvia nodded dumbly and kept eating.
“I’m Lydia. Lydia Glass. And you are. . .?” She extended a tiny hand.
Sam managed to put down his fork a moment to shake her hand.
“Sam, Sam Reynolds, ma’am.” He grabbed his fork up.
“Oh, Silvia, he called me ma’am! Isn’t that just adorable?” Lydia gushed some more.
The younger woman nodded slightly.
“Silvia’s my daughter,” Lydia explained with a wave.
She turned back to Sam. “So, what are you in for?” She beamed.
“In for. . .?” Sam stared a moment. “Oh, you mean, why am I here?” he tamped down his mustache.
“Drugs, alcohol, broken heart. . .?” The little lady gestured expansively around the room. Sam noticed her thick, hot pink fingernails.
Acrylic? He thought. Aw, Kristie would know.
Lydia leaned toward Sam and batted extremely long eyelashes at him. They reminded him a little of black spiders.
“We came for weight loss, didn’t we, Sylvie?” Sylvia kept eating.
“You. . .?” she dazzled Sam with the whiteness of her teeth as she smiled again.
“Ah. . . smoking.” He managed to get out. “Stopped smoking on my own, but still keep having cravings and I don’t want to go back to it.”
“Ah, smoking! The Devil’s own handmaiden. I know, I know.” Lydia inched closer to Sam. “I never smoked, of course. My dead husband would have never stood for it. But, I understand from all my friends who are ex-smokers that it is the very worst thing to quit!”
Sam started to choke from the intense smell of Lydia’s perfume. It had a musty, cloying aroma he didn’t like. He looked up to see Brother Huang watching him, eyes twinkling.
“Sam-Shi, are you about finished? Would you like a tour?” Brother called out.
Sam stuffed in a last mouthful of rice and nodded. He began the laborious process of uncoiling out from under the table. At 5’11”, Sam wasn’t the tallest American going. Still, he was having a devil of a time trying to figure out where to put his long legs and an equally tough time retreiving them.
With some more grunting he managed to get up. He immediately felt sharp twinges in his back.
Lydia began to protest that they were almost done and could come too. She began shoveling rice into her mouth.
Huang put out a stopping hand, “No need, no need, ladies. Take your time, please. They will be serving coffee very soon. You can tell some of our newer members about the benefits of your meditation practice.” He bowed low and placed a hand under Sam’s elbow, quickly steered him out of the dining room.
Outside, Sam had to stop, bend over, hands on knees, and take a couple of deep breaths.
“Oh, my. That perfume she was wearing.”
Brother Huang laughed lightly. “Ah, the lady Lydia. She is a widow and is what I think you American’s call ‘husband hunting.’ ”
“Wow, I guess so,” was Sam’s reply. “What a get-up. Why not take a cruise? I hear that’s a great way to meet new people.”
Huang glanced over his shoulder and continued walking. “Between the two of us, that is her very next stop.”
“Does she really do the meditation thing?”
“Oh, yes. I think maybe it is to calm anxiety and get rid of wrinkles.” Huang laughed.
Sam was breathing again and had to chuckle. “Well, I don’t know about wrinkles. But, it is true about the smoking thing. I have been craving cigarettes again and it was dang hard to stop the first time.”
His companion nodded. “Understood, understood. I have heard such a thing many times. Come, we will get you some proper clothes for mediation and we will begin in the big hall at 1 pm.”
Huang led Sam into a little laundry/clothing facility. The girl started to measure Sam for the tunic/pants combo he would be wearing.
“You are very tall, Sam-Shi but I think Yumi will be able to find you something. I will see you at 1:00.”
“Yes, you will and Brother Huang,” Sam was sincere, “thanks for rescuing me back there.”
Huang smiled, did a low bow and disappeared out the door.
Sam got his clothes and went back to his dorm room for a wash-up and a little lie down before the class started.
He lay down on his bed, which was mercifully not on the floor, and texted Kristie.
“I here, the weather is great. XOXO.”
“Oh, good, sweetie. Thanks so much for understanding about the kid thing.” She texted back.
“No problem, have a good time.”
She texted back a row of kissy faces. He turned off his text and closed his eyes.
He dozed for a few minutes when he became aware of the sound of voices. The voices were fairly close. Male? The sound was muffled. It didn’t sound like an argument exactly, but certainly edging toward a disagreement.
“Jesus. Can’t you leave that stuff behind for three days,” he mumbled and turned over pulling the pillow over his head.
The alarm on his phone went off and he sat up. Damn, the class starts in five minutes. Got to hustle.
End of Part II