I met him for the first time on the ferry to Ireland. He leaned on the railing alongside some seagulls, overlooking the Welsh mainland. He wore a robe that looked like those worn by Buddhist monks, only his was black. He stood with his head bowed, either praying or watching something in the water.
I looked at him for a while, and then my feet dragged me towards him. I can't even explain why.
The moment I stood next to him, he whispered something.
I leaned in to hear him, but he'd already stopped talking. "What did ya say?"
He whispered, "Where is peace?"
I looked at his sandals and wondered how the hell he could walk on those thin leather things. Then I muttered, "Peace... Well, I don't think it is anywhere."
He winked at me and said, "You might be right. Or not."
He held out his hand and showed a small pebble, probably picked up from the coast.
He grabbed hold of my hand, dropped the pebble in. He smiled, bowed with his hands folded and then dove over the railing.
I stood nailed to the ground as he reached the water, I opened my mouth to scream but then... Then I watched him spread his wings and fly. He became one with the sea and the sky and the other seagulls.
I stood there and kept watching him, twisting and turning in the sky.
I didn't move for a long time after that. I thought about my life and my constant struggles to get what I really wanted. Then I realized I had no idea what I really wanted.
I shook my head and said, "I must be going daft. Time for a pint!"
I turned away from the railing and walked to the ferry's pub.
I sat down at the bar, ordered a pint and immediately took a sip when I had it. I sighed and said, "What a weird fuckin' day."
The barkeeper just shrugged and helped another customer.
I thought of the monk guy. Had I dreamed it? Then I realized I still held the stone. I opened my right hand. The stone was still there, a pebble from the beach, dark gray with some white specks.
I set my pint aside, turned the stone over and burst out laughing when I read the words etched into the stone, "Peace lives within.... Blimey"
I stood up, grabbed what was left of my pint and sat down in some comfy chairs in front of the window. Moments later a seagull landed right next to my window and shrieked at me.
I said, "Peace lives within. What the hell does that mean for me?"
The monk's voice whispered, "Maybe you need to figure that out for yourself."
I raised my glass and said, "Good one..."
I laughed again and carefully pocketed the stone.
I thought of all the times I had taken the ferry and knew I was so sick of it. "So... what will I do?"
He cackled. "Peace, brother."
The seagull shrieked and took off. I watched it disappear into the clouds and smiled.