The Disappearance of Colby J


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The crowd cried out for an encore as Colby left the stage. It was the last show of his world tour, and he wasn’t about to leave them less than satisfied. He came back on stage with a fire in his eyes. The high he got from the crowd cheering his name couldn’t be matched by any drug. He shredded his guitar one last time, and the cries became louder. As he finished, the lights went out, and that would become the last performance of Colby J.

Colby’s manager, Jordan, planned an afterparty that evening. She rented a modest boat and packed it with the finest drinks, people, and music she could find. Sure, the boat wasn’t the best around; it had hideous couches aboard and the rutters were rusty, but on this night, it was the place to be. However, euphoria turned into chaos. A treacherous storm came out of nowhere, and the party stopped. Guests immediately scrambled down to the cabin to avoid the rain. When the storm passed, everyone was accounted for, all except one: Colby.

Hours later, at dawn, Colby washed up on the shores of an island many miles away. He had spent the night holding on to one of those ugly couch cushions, but he didn’t remember anything that happened in his drunken state. The island he landed upon was the epitome of beauty, better than the Garden of Eden. For several hours, he walked around the beach, hungover, looking for any signs of life. Eventually, he found a small village; he was led there by a euphony of instruments. It was the greatest song he had ever heard.

At first, Colby thought he was dead. How else could he explain this tropical paradise? He went into the village and tried to find help. He saw an assortment of drums, flutes, guitars, and several instruments he didn’t know existed. The crowd danced in a cyclical fashion as the sun drew to noon. Then exactly at high noon, they immediately stopped all at once. It was then that he walked into the center and asked what was going on. They just stared; they didn’t understand his tongue. They all went back into their houses except one man.

He spoke to Colby in a deep, beckoning tone, “come here.”

Colby immediately did. “Where am I? Who are they?” he asked.

The man responded, “They have no name for this place, for they know no other. They’re born here, they live here, they die here. They are happy.”

Colby feared the man’s cryptic response, and asked, almost out of instinct, “Am I dead?”

“Not physically, but you might as well be. You have become hollow within. We can discuss everything later, but first, rest, you’ve had a long trip.”

“But it’s the middle of the day?” Colby replied. However, as soon as he hit the bed, he slept like a log. He awoke to the same song he heard this morning and watched as the dancers move to the song. Across the circle, he could see the man from earlier, playing the triangle. As more eyes began to notice him, he felt their eyes and decided he would pick up an instrument and try to impress them. He found what looked like a acoustic guitar and tried to play along. As soon as he even touched the first string, the once beautiful melody erupted into a cacophony of horror. Everything sounded out of key, dancers fell to the ground, the people wept. The man from before grabbed him.

“What did you do?”
“Nothing! I just touched the guitar,”
“Don’t.”
“Why? Everyone loves my music. Who are you to tell me what to do?”

The man was not bothered by Colby’s egoism. In a calm voice, he said “they call me Tauhou, of the sea. You may be a king of the outside world, but you are a worm in this one. I look at you and I see a sad man.” he paused, looking directly into Colby’s eyes. “You fill the void in your heart with the attention of others and when that doesn’t work you take up the bottle and try to drown out your problems. You need to be taught.”

Colby was offended, but deep down, he knew he was right. “Then help me,” he said.

In the next few days, what happened could only be described as a montage of restoration. Each day and each night the song would play and Colby would watch. In between, they would fish, Colby would tell him stories of his stage life, and Tauhou would explain the isle to him. Colby had learned ships pass the island every month or so. It appeared his rescue was imminent, but he grew impatient; he wanted to go home. Surely his manager would have sent a search crew for him. It was only a matter of time before they would come.

On the third night, Colby took the boat that Tauhou used for fishing and tried to sail to find help. Once again, it was as if the universe intervened and a storm was sent his way. A giant wave capsized his boat and he was left scrambling for his life. He was ready to give up when he heard a voice call out. It was Tauhou, he was following behind, knowing Colby had no idea how to navigate the waters far off the coast. When he arrived, Colby was sitting on top of the flipped boat, freezing, but grateful for his friend.

The next morning, Colby asked, “How’d you know I took the boat?”

“I knew you would eventually, I’m surprised it took you that long to try. I tried to do the same a long time ago.”

“What happened?”

“The same thing that happened to you, shipwrecked, only nobody rescued me and I had to swim back to shore. The island won’t let you leave until you understand the Lesson, and once you learn, you won’t want to.”

Colby didn’t even try to fight the mysticism anymore. Strangely, he felt Tauhou was right.

That night, the song had changed, it was a more somber tone than the nights before. The moonlight had been replaced by fire since it was a new moon. Tauhou didn’t play the triangle that evening; he pulled out a guitar. Only a few performed during the new moon and there was no dancing, everyone sat and listened. Then, Tauhou played a beautiful melody that Colby recognized. It was a song from many years prior his mother used to play from their vinyl. Tauhou wasn’t a native, he was an ex-star named Kyle Alex.

But that doesn’t make any sense, Colby thought, they said he died 20 years ago.

Tauhou could see in Colby’s eyes that he knew. It was time that he learned the truth. After the song, he went over and told his story.

“I landed on this island 20 years ago. Before that, I was on every chart, I was king, nobody could stop me.” Tauhou chuckled at his own youthful ignorance. “The problem was I no longer played from the soul, I played what the label wanted me to. I was a sellout, making christmas albums and acting like their slave, it was depressing. So my manager invited me onto a nice boat to drop some bad news, like I was a sick dog taken to a field of flowers. We got in a big fight, I don’t know what happened. All I know is that I woke up on this island, drenched. From there, our journeys are the same, even the horrid sound the guitar made when you touched it. An elder took me in and taught me her ways. She reunited my body and soul with her teachings. She’s long gone now, but she gave me her gift, as I shall now give to you.”

Tauhou placed his thumb on Colby’s forehead and he was given the Lesson. He understood the world as it truly was. He knew why the people danced every noon and night; he knew answers to questions never even thought. He wanted to tell the world, but he understood that he couldn’t. He just smiled, and played the song Tauhou had prior.

Two months later, a ship came, looking for Colby J. The crew searched around and asked if anyone had seen him.

When they approached Colby, he looked them in the eye and simply replied:
“Never heard of him.”
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