The town of Williamsville can to be found in the very heart of New Jersey. Deep in the forest, away from highways, malls, bustle and noise. It has only one road the wins among 50-60 mansions, loops around and comes out connecting to another road that leads to neighboring town. There are 2 police cars always parked on road sides, scanning every car, every man, that comes or leaves Williamsville. There are no schools in that town, no stores, no factories; no businesses are registered on local addresses . There is only municipal building with police department and post office. All other buildings in there are residential – belong to some… well known… or unknown residents.
The neighboring town Lower Williamsville – is down there, in the valley, precisely as it says in its name. Regular town, with regular buildings, gas stations, grocery stores, schools and regular people. There is only one secret thought – most of the residents of Lower Williamsville are working for residents of the other Williamsville, the one on the hills, in the forest.
Delivery guys, cleaning ladies, gardeners, chauffeurs, builders, plumbers, baby sitters; all of them walk, bicycle, drive up to the hills by morning and go back down by night. And, if asked about their work, they turn around and leave. And if the questioner is persistent – he or she may end up in hands of local policemen and spend a night or two locked up.
But there is no one who would ask, simply because there are few people who know about town of Williamsville. Although it has its own zip code, you can’t find it on the map, neither can you enter the name of the town in your GPS and get the direction. And even Google, which seems to have knowledge about anything, will not find the town of Williamsville and instead will ask, if by any chance you meant Williamsville in NY, perhaps.
The houses in Williamsville are different from anything you would imagine. They are not just big or huge – they are not even mansions. O-h, no! They are castles! Many stores up, with turrets, and citadel like walls, with flagsticks on the roofs statues and columns, with alleys and fountains. Some of them have distinct European touch. As if a French or German baron built his castle here. And some are more modern with rose gardens, tennis courts and Olympic size swimming pools.
Some of them are new, built recently, but majority are old, more than hundred years old. This is the old blood and old wealth here – from the days of first colonies….
And also they are scattered in the forest, far apart. Even standing on the top of the tallest tower of one house it is impossible to see what the neighbors are up to. And the trees are not the biggest obstruction, but the sheer sizes of properties, on which the buildings are standing.
But even in such a place like Williamsville, where there are no curious eyes and snooping pedestrians, there is a house that stands alone in the rank of such a lavish exuberance of Williamsville. And even those, who are custom to local morals, even they lower their voices and whisper, when it come to “that house”.
They call it Gray House. And it is gray – painted over its plaster wall. But all the details are black; the corner beams, the plat bands over arched windows, the shatters, that are always tightly closed and the gargoyles on the roofline. The roof and the awnings on the top floor are covered with copper sheets of bright turquoise color.
It has only four floors. But since each floor stands twenty five feet high, the surrounding oaks seem small and weak.
On the front of the house there are numerous flowerbeds with roses. Dark purple – they blossom all year around like if the seasons don’t have any power over them. In cold winter the snow melts before it lays on velvet petals, and even evilest winds and blizzard don’t have powers over those roses as if they covered with invisible glass domes.
No one ever seen a gardener, who would take care of them; prune, water and feed. And yet, if you dare to ask locals, they will say, that those roses are the best ones in whole Williamsville.
The doors of the house are big – two sections of 20 feet tall solid wood with brass clinchers each of a size of a fist. Handles enormously big, half a human size of twisted dark iron…. No one ever saw anybody coming in or out of those doors, no one ever heard them groan open.
No one knows who lives there in that strange and seemingly lifeless house. But everyday day, a car drives out the gates, just to come back in few hours. That car is big, black, and antique. The ones you see on old movies. Like one, that Bonny and Clyde would drive. It has darkened windows and spare tires on both sides, right behind of front fenders. No one has ever tried to follow that car, but even if somebody would, it will be an empty effort, because the car would just disappear after a particularly acute turn down the road. But, as I said, no one knows about that, simply because the privacy in Williamsville valued more than wealth itself.
It was a dark night of September 12, Friday to Saturday. The skies were covered with clouds and there was no moon or any stars visible. The people were slipping in their houses. There was no wind, but high clouds were moving east, away from the forest toward the sea. All clouds…. As they are prone to a high wind, up in the sky. All…but one. This one, much smaller, much darker and much faster was moving west, coming from sea and against the direction of cloudy sky, as if the winds were powerless… As if, it was moving by its own will. An observant witness would state that winds indeed didn’t have powers to match that cloud, for it did not change its shape along its travel. It was fussy and wadded, as a dark cotton ball, but clouds change with blows of winds. Where this one did not.
Right above Williamsville the cloud reviled another strange property; it took a dashing dive toward the earth and swiftly disappeared in the woods. Not too long after that it appeared again on the long driveway of the Gray House. This time like a fog, sticking to the ground, gliding just an inch above the pavement, it stretched itself into a thin blanket, moving quickly, headed for the house. On the stairs, the fog stretched even thinner and leaked into a fine gash between two doors.
Inside the house there was a big hall. It was large, and round. Many doors on its round walls were closed tight, but, as we saw before, closed doors are not stopping visitors here. The circle of the walls was surrounded with circle of columns – tall, white marble pillars supporting the selling. The floors were of dark granite, with two concentric circles of rare red marble one inside another, marking the center of the hall. And in center there was a circular pool with a statue of naked woman on center, with her arms opened, as if for hug. She was beautiful, that woman. Tall and slander, proportionally built with long neck, and long curly hairs. Her face was tense and her eyes closed.
The pool was dry; there was no water in it, or anything else. Right above the pool, on the ceiling there was a huge chandelier. Unnumbered human arms, growing one off of another were forming an incredible maze, intertwined and knotted. Every arm was finished with a palm and every palm was holding a tall candle. The candles where lit and there was probably a thousand candles on that chandelier brightly illuminating every spot in the hall.
The fog leaking from under the door rushed toward the pool, climbed over the curb and submerged disappearing. As it was melting, water appeared instead. Dark and heavy, it slowly filled up the pool, first covering its bottom and rising little by little. And then finally water touched the feet of the woman-statue. And in that very moment the statue took a deep breath and opened her eyes.
There was a servant waiting behind her; an old man in black tuxedo and white shirt. As she lower her arms, he stepped forward and throw a black silky cloak on her shoulders. Woman walked out of pool.
- Hello Stefan, – she said “Stefan” with emphasis on “a”,
- Hello madam, – answered the servant with a polite bow.
- Finally I am home; – she smiled and turned to him. The cape was wrapped around her body covering her up from neck to toe.
- How was your trip, madam? – Servant asked.
- Nothing interesting, Stefan, just a business, – she said, – but I have a souvenir for you.
- A souvenir, madam?
- O yes, here is , – as she opened her palm a gold coin shined on light, – this is a French Louis d’Or , Stefan. There were using them before the republic, when there were kings in France. A fine addition to your collection, I believe.
- Thank you very much, Madam, – servant said, taking the coin, – I remember those days!
- Of course you do, – she answered with a smile, – is everybody arrived yet?
- Yes, madam, – said Stefan, – They are in the imperial room. But Lord Master is not there yet; He was waiting for your return.
- Then I shell not making him wait any longer, – she said and walked toward one of the doors on the left. Although, one would ask where is the right or left in the round room.
Behind the door there was a staircase, nothing else, but stairs. A white marble floor, with purple mosaic, ivory color plastered walls, heavy molded brass handrails with dragon like posts and sconces on the walls. The stairs were leading down, to the underground levels of this truly mysterious house. She run down quickly and somehow giddily, jumping over the stairs and cutting shorts on turns. As if she was not an adult, but a girl of ten years of age. First flight passed; jump, second one; jump, third and final one – jump.
And there were another set of doors, which she opened with both of her hands, pushing, stepping into a great rectangular hall. It also was lit brightly, by the light of 3 big chandeliers, holding half a thousand of candles each. The light of each candle would mirror and reflect off of the thousands and thousands small crystal bids making it impossible to look straight at them and illuminating all around, leaving no place for shadow or even a twilight.
The walls were bare stone, unpainted and rough, with white snakes of plaster around each rock. Above the walls there were large beams of wooden rafters going across the hall, spitting the ceiling into 3 arched chambers. The chandeliers were hanging off the centers of each chamber by thick, with large iron links, chains. There were banners around the walls, or long flags, perhaps. Hanging down vertically on the walls. There were eight of them, each with unknown beast embroidered on it.
The floor was of a white marble, with red concentric rectangles outlining the walls, one smaller than another. Inside the smallest one, in the center of the hall was a table, also prolonged and rectangular with eight chairs around it; four on each side. The dark mahogany table was so big, that between two neighboring chairs one could fit another two at least. The table was empty. Nothing was on it, not even a glass, or vase with fresh fruits or flowers.
And the hall was not empty; there were… guests… waiting in there. Standing next to walls. Four of them where man, and three women. Man in tuxedos, with white shirts, lades in evening dresses with their necks and backs open. With diamond rings, necklaces and earrings. All sparkly and shiny.
As they saw the woman, that entered the room, all the conversations died and they all turned to her. But she did not stop, even for a second
- Good night, my dear guests, – she said, – I am glad to see that all of you find possible to attend our tonight’s gathering. Please take your seats; I am embarrassed to make you wait any longer.
The guests rushed to her, greeting. Each man bowed on front of her, kissing her fingers. The women were making a courtly reverence with smiles. She answered with complements, mentioning impeccable beauty of each woman and manners of each man. But suddenly she moved her look, breaking eye contract, to somebody on the back. The guests noticed that and momentarily all of them turned toward the table. There was another man standing there. Tall and teen. One would say that he is probably ill, so thin he was. Bones were covered with mere skin, without any hint for muscles at all. Hi was not wearing a tuxedo, as all other guests, but a white shirt and jeans. With his bare feet in sleepers. Anorexia – would be a proper word to describe him. But make no mistake! That man was not ill, nor was he an anorexic. It just, many-many years ago, he decided, to look this way. For his own, for us invisible, reasons. And would it happen for him to decide to change his appearance, it would change overnight, as if, it was a dress that one can change. Drop down before the bed and wear something new next morning.
The man was not moving. The woman, on the other hand, rushed to him, almost run. And, when approached, she bowed down low and kissed his hand. The guests went to their chairs and stand next to them, waiting for a signal to seat. The man moved his chair and sat. The guests followed him. But the woman left to stand, as for her; there was no chair prepared. And since there was no chairs at the head of the table one could say that there are all equals around that table. All, but that woman, who left standing while others were seated.
There was a moment of silence and then the man said:
- You may begin, Natalie. And… make it short, we don’t have all night.
- Yes, Lord Master, – she replayed with a smile and gregarious node, – As you wish.
Then she cleared her throat and started.
“Ladies and Gentleman. Lords of New England. A full year past since our last meeting. And, today, I’m here to report you about what we have accomplished since then.” she paused and cleared her throat again.
“First of all, let me appoint to your attention that there were nine chairs around this table last time, but, as you know, Lord Master Nicolaus Lacatus was”, she hesitated for a split second to find a right word, ”Pacified… And, his family was partially absorbed by family of our host, Lord Master Lanatus Tuccius. And for good, I should say. For good, because Lord Master Lacatus was not able to understand the concepts and reasons of our business enterprise and was actively interfering into our affairs.” She smiled and looked over the guests.
“As a result of his… pacification… “, she continued, “We gained full control over the entire east cost, from Delaware River and to Canada’s borders. Nobody can interrupt our operations now… “
She stopped like in wait for applauses. But the only cheering she received was a grime look from every single guest. So for her, it was clear, that they are not supporters of her actions. Good or bad, Lacatus was one of them, Lord Master of Undead, and she was nobody, Second Daughter of Tuccius.
“And now about the business”, she continued, “The analysis and our prior experience showed that the idea of hiring writers and emerging into the publishing and writing industry was very successful. We increased the numbers of writers that are working for us from 2 to 8; and, by the end of the year, we are going to control the 10-20 % of all book market that is specializing on… unnatural beings… I am sure you know what I mean. With element of romance and rampant sex the stories about us are very popular among humans. It seems that they are drawn to blood, dead, sex and all other… pleasures. “
She looked over the guests again. Some were smiling; some were sitting there with dull absent look on their faces. She caught eyes with Marshal of Massachusetts, Lord Master Lady Marina Taggorri. And not strangely, she saw a smile in her eyes. Without doubt Lady Marina enjoyed those books, as well as she gave few story ideas to those writers. Stories from her own past and present.
“Besides that”, Natalie continued, “we entered into “motion feature” industry. Movies. We did not plan that to happen. It just few particular books written by our authors became so popular that is was natural to make a moves based on them. We hired Hollywood studios to make that happen and, today, we have 2 moves in production and another 3 are in pre-production stage. All five of them are sponsored exclusively by us, so we are not going to share any profit from it. By estimates that will bring us about quarter of billion dollars profit in total. Which, in addition to book market gives us about 350-400 million profit this year only. and that is not talking about long term royalties; DVDs, sound tracks, publications, interviews and other activities. The exact numbers of operations you may find in the annual reports that were sent to your offices earlier this week… That is to our legal operations.”
Natalie stopped, leaned forward to the table, and put her palm on it. Now she looked more like a “woman of power”. Confident and strong. Even her eyes became hard and dangerous. Like eyes of a beast.
“In the shady side of our investment I can mention that we tripled our traffic of … “goods”… coming from Golden Triangle. Drugs are more than popular now days. And with our abilities, we are practically controlling 80% of all turnaround. We have 6 carriers. Each carries can transport two pounds of pure 100% heroin per night. 12 pounds of goods per night, 10-20 nights per month. It makes about 200 pounds of heroin. Taking into consideration, that our carriers provide absolutely no loss in transportation, local dealers are literally killing each other in order to work with us. We are being paid $30 000 per pound for transportation, which makes”, she paused, “seven million dollars per month. And that is only for taking 2 pounds of flour-like powder and flying it over undetected from Asia to New York. A year ago, when I offered this business many of you were against it. Today you see that it is a complete success. We invest almost nothing into this, we risk almost nothing, but we profit seven million dollars a month. And, what is more fortunate, we pay no taxes.
“The word about our “transportation services” got around, we received an inquiry from our Mexican… “relatives”. They are asking if we would agree to help them to set up an business enterprise and organize stable and long term transportation channels of “goods” from their territories. The interesting part of the deal is that they are offering to pay not only with money, but with exclusive “blood” tours. Hunting for “food” they call it… All the prey is alive and based to hunter’s preferences… young, old, healthy, ill, virgin… female, male… whatever we want. They prepare prey and hunting grounds, we go and hunt and engorge.”
Natalie looked over the table. The faces now were interested and supporting.
“We are not sure yet on this deal.” Natalie’s voice got powerful and strong. She was in her territory now “First of all, I personally, against their methods of payments. We prefer money, not services. We have our “playgrounds”… Secondly, we are not sure what kind of partners they are. their families are different. we don’t share same values and loyalties. So we have to start very cautiously, making sure our grounds are safe. Mexicans are known to brake the alliances and switch sides.
Our neighbors from north, on the other hand are more reliable and predictable. We got an offer form Toronto clan. Their product is clean and almost legal. They want steady transportation line. We still need to discuss the details, but in any event, this line of will give us another 5-6 millions per month, depend on volume. And … I just want to make sure… that we are on the same page here… we are not doing any distribution of the product…” she stressed every word”…We are only providing transportation services. “
“Why not to do distributions too?” a voice came from far left corner of the table. That was Lord Master of Rode Island Aristarkh Nemarooh, “if it is so profitable?”
“The exposure, My Lord “, answered Natalie swiftly, “We think that there could be many situations with customers and authorities, where distributors may expose their unnatural essence. Where dealing with wholesale dealers only keeps our contact with people minimal and less … tempting.”
Lord Master Aristarkh shook his head in sing of approval.
“On our European market”, Natalie continued, “We are making our share on transportation of donor organs from Kosovo and Iraq… This, I should say, is the most promising direction of our business dealings. The profit margins are the best, the packages are small and not heavy… and they are very time sensitive. So, by my opinion, we should invest more in this direction. And when I say invest – I mean we should bring new brothers and sisters into our families, we should target people that posses particular skills; doctors and especially surgeons. They know human body very well. Then know how to extract organs and how to preserve them for transportation. If we have family members like that, we could put our hands not only on transportation of donor organs, but also on their harvest.” She quickly licked her lips.
“By my point of view it is ideal for us. We hunt, we eat, we take the necessary organs and we deliver… and get paid for it. You can’t go wrong here. The hunt is to be performed in war zones, wherever they happen; currently its Middle East and Africa… And also on territories where local governments are weak and corrupt; Burma, Malaysia, post-USSR countries…”
Guests were looking to her with clear ravishment and delight. Of course this was closer to their nature, more familiar than drugs. They heard well- known words, like hunt, blood, eat.
“And the demand, – she continued -”is absolutely crazy. The broker, we currently deliver the organs to, orders 5 kidneys per day and pays $50 000 for each… We are getting $15000 for transportation only, but for him it makes no difference who he pays to… just bring it … lungs, livers, hearths… we can do all of it. We just need qualified family members.”
“So”, Natalie paused, for it was the most important moment in her speech,” I want to ask this consul a permission, to double the number of members in my family – from 6 to 12. New members are to be doctors… mostly… also I need few carriers.”
She stopped and looked at them. The ravishment and support diminished from guest’s faces… More members meant more power, stronger family. They sensed danger, a hidden one. All 8 families of east coast were in balance. The number of members was regulated and strongly controlled. Bigger family meant more power but at the same time it needed more food. And clans were very reluctant to share the power and food, of course.
But they were humans ones, this guests sitting around the table. And as to many, greed knew its way to their dead and empty hearts. She knew, that the permission will be granted. Not today perhaps, but eventually.
“The decision is not needed immediately, – she said, – you will have time to consider.”
She stopped again, mentally, in her head, flipping the page of this report.
“All this concerned to “income” side of the business… On the expense side, I can tell that this year we are fully capable to provide daily food for all your families. We open two new blood banks, one in Boston, and the other one in New York. And there is a third one, in construction stage, in south New Jersey. And all of it -absolutely legal. We are supplying donor blood to local hospitals, as well as, to all of you and your families. We pay donors hefty, and we don’t have any trouble, nor with money to pay them, nor with local governments. Everything is legal… and, of course, covered up. Nobody has slightest idea where the blood goes. And nobody knows from where the money comes. But since everybody is happy- nobody complains. And we will keep everybody happy as long as it takes…”
She took deep breath, preparing for final accords of her meticulously prepared and conducted speech.
“Dear guests, I don’t think any of you need to go out for hunt anymore… not, of course, if you want to… But we are able to provide enough blood for any appetite… Based on our reserves we can deliver 12 pints of blood daily to every member of eight New England families… And that is more than anyone ever had…“ Guests moved and applause on this. She was not finished yet. She raised her hands requiring silence.
“With the opening of new blood bank in New Jersey, we will be able to provide blood to southern families, and that will greatly benefit to our power and respect. Just wait for them to start eating from our hands! You will be able to expand your influence to south, make your families richer and more powerful than they ever were!”
She finished, stepped back from the table bowed. Guests were on their feet apposing and cheering. The Host, Lord Master Tuccius gave her a hug and kiss to her lips. Lady Marina too, came and hugged.
- You did great my darling“, she said, “I knew you were special, from the very first time we met! Good job! Good job!”
- O thank you, my lady, you are so kind! Thanks for your support, I needed that!
- Any time my darling! Any time you need.
And on that the meeting was over, guests were rushing to leave before the sunrise. They cut short their goodbyes and one after another disappeared. The great hall was empty, the table and the chairs disappeared too and the banners form the walls and the chandeliers…. Now it was an empty, dark hall. Unoccupied and unfriendly. Natalie and Lord Tuccius left the hall at last and were walking up the stairs when Natalie asked.
- So, what you think my Lord?
Tuccius put his hand around her shoulders and pulled to himself.
- You did great”, he said with smile,” It was just wonderful. You gave them what they wanted, got what you wanted. And managed to do that with such a grace, that there is not doubt in my mind that in 30-40 years they will elect you a Grand Lord Master and will bring all their families to you on a plate!”
- Thanks my Lord “, she replayed hugging him back and kissing, “You are very kind to me! It was nothing, just a report… You are the mind behind all of it. Without you I am nobody, just a woman from corporate world.”
- That is not true, – he said in return – and you know that! Your ideas are fresh, and new! No one from us can even imagine all this! Without you, we would go hunting every other night! And it was getting difficult with every day! Take Manhattan, for example. Fifty years ago I was hunting on the streets without any fear. And now there are so many cameras that even our supernatural abilities are no use. I was afraid to be seen and exposed. But with you everything changed, we don’t need to hunt anymore! And for that I am greatly indebted to you! And not only me, but all of us!
She wanted to respond, but he put his palm over her mouth
- Tsh-sh-sh”, he said, “Don’t argue with me, am old and wise, and I know what I am talking about. Let’s go to sleep, the morning is here. And you need to sleep. For at night you have a business to run… Just want to ask you something.
- Yes, my Master?
- Do you have any regrets… for your old life? That you gave up your life and now you are who you are?
- No-o-o! ”, she laughed, “What are you talking about! This is what I want, this is what I am. This is like “business as usual” for me. But now I have more power than ever! More possibilities.”
- You sure?
- Yes, my Lord. Believe me! Business as usual!
And with that they walked up, embraced in each other arm, her head on his shoulder. The doors opened and closed after them and immediately all the candles on chandeliers on the walls died out as if commended and the staircase plunged into the darkens.
I love Morocco; every year I am coming back here for a month or so. I like the streets, people, food, colors, desert… everything. I come here to rest– this country seems have stopped in time, somewhere in 17-th century. Here there is no rush and stress, there is no being late and making up for dead line. There is only the endless desert and blue skies. And some mystique philosophical wisdom of people, like if they know something about life that we, westerners, don’t. It is in their eyes, their smiles; in their gestures – meaningful and precise and in every word – equally wise and deceiving.
Ocher colored adobe houses attached one to another, dark narrow windows designed to keep the insides cool. The markets, with their vivid bright colors of hanks of wool and distinct and jaw cramping aromas of food and spices. Rugs and carpets of any color and size. Narrow streets, hidden under the arches of connected buildings, red and blue painted doors and window shatters. Ancient castles, mosques and minarets, and gardens with fig palms and flowers of breathtaking colors. And hot, tong burning tea to cool down or to worm up.
And most of all – the desert! I don’t know why, but the view of desert took my hearth away! I feel in love with it from the first look and steel seek the many thing in it. Many years passed since then but every year I come back to visit Morocco and the desert.
I will never forget my very first trip to Morocco. It was truly life changing for me… My father bought that all-inclusive tour for me. Very unusual move for him, I should say. He would rather travel with whole the family with him, you know.
I remember when we were kids, everything we did – all the travels, all the vacations we went; we did all together. Even when my sister got married and moved with her husband, still, every summer in August and winter in February my father would organize a family vacation and would take everyone with him. And, as a matter of fact, when he first told me about that trip to Morocco, we were sitting around Christmas table discussing an upcoming trip to Venice, for a carnival.
The picture of that day is imprinted in my memory with bold lines. A big oval table. My father at its head with a glass of wine, my mom on his right side, my sister with her husband and two kids. Then my younger brother and me, finishing the circle, on my father left hand. The dinner was coming to the end. Mom and sis were about to clean up the table for fruits and desert and we were talking about costumes we would make for carnival in Venice. And suddenly my father looked at me and asked to bring an envelope from his office. And so I did.
Dad’s office always was some magical place for me. I remember being kid, 10 maybe 11 years old, knocking on his door. I would ask a permission to read in the chair. And he would grant me one, with a condition to keep quite. I would mount up into red leather chair of enormous size on front of his desk and read. Holding a book on the chair’s arm and curling my hair on my finger. All the furniture in his office was mahogany and red leather. Huge, just enormous table, with side drawers and leather inset on center, tree chair; one behind the table and another two on sides. Table lamp with green glass and bookshelves. Bookshelves full of books and references.
I walked into his office and saw the envelop he was asking for, right in the middle of empty table. I grabbed it and went back to dinner room, stopping in the corridor to look at myself in the mirror and fixing my hair.
Another attraction of our house; that mirror. It was big, 8 fit tall, in massive oak frame. Family legend said it belonged to French royal family ones, and then, trough unimaginable turns of events was gifted to my grand-grand-grand-grandfather almost 200 years ago. I don’t know how much it was actually true, but ones, somebody offered an obscene amount of money to my father for it. And of course my dad rejected the offer in a form that eliminated any further negotiations.
I returned to the room and handed that envelop to my father. “No, it’s for you “he said without taking it. “For me? What is it?” I asked and opened it.
And there it was. Air tickets, hotel reservations…. “You are leaving January second and coming back January 15. Before the school resumes” He said and smiled. “This is our present to you, from me and mom.”
The remaining week between Christmas and New Year day all the conversations in the house were about that me and my trip.
And in the evening of January second, there I was, walking the streets of Marrakesh. And next two weeks were the most fantastic weeks of my life. Alone, with no parental control, and no certain plan of travel, I would wake up early on the morning and spend my day on the streets. Moving from town to town. Taking side trips, looking and hearing. On cars, horses, donkeys and on my own two. Sucking up the life as if it was oxygen – greedily and anxiously. I needed to try every meal, drink every drink, ride, swim, climb, and hunt…. 24 hours a day was not enough and I was sleeping only 4 hours. I was watching people praying on the streets by day and selling spiced by night. I would sit with them on the top of the flat roofs to see a sundown. I would hear mullahs calling for pray from the top of the minarets and would make my pray with them on the ways of my own church.
It was my last day in Marrakesh. I returned back to town from the far mountains of the east and was preparing to leave for home. All the bags were packed and I had only one deed to pay – souvenirs for my family. So, I went out to the best place for that king of task – to Medina quarters.
I knew exactly what to choose and where to buy. A colorful and transparent chiffon head wrap for my mom. A hand carved ivory set of chess for dad. A dagger for my brother-in-law. An Arabian scimitar for my brother. A basket full of oriental ointments and perfume for my sister and strings of chaplets for my nieces.
As any part of the Medina, streets were narrow with no skies above. The uppers levels of the buildings would arch and connect to each other creating more living space. The stores on first floors were all one after another; similar in design and united with the type of product they sell.
The aisle of spices – all the stores would have spices, same ones, set similarly on the tables on the front of the stores in big pouches with half-rolled tops. And the daggers and arms would be on the next street – also on the front of the open doors, with owners standing behind the counters. And sometimes you could see the anvil behind and two or three man pounding the iron. Another turn and you would appear on the street full of carpets and rugs. All over the walls, one over the other, of any color, shape and price…
As I walking through the streets of Medina, my list was getting shorter. Surprisingly, the most difficult purchase happened to be the jewelry for my nieces. I was passing through stores, one after the other, moving from counter to counter touching and playing with bids and strings of gems and pearl; but anything would catch my eyes, nothing that I would imagine on pretty necks of my sister’s daughters.
But then there was a store, on the corner of the street, with rich counters set outside, with gold and silver jewelry. This one was different form others because it was twice expensive. I saw the clerk. A young man, almost a boy, was standing in between tables with his hands crossed on the chest. He caught my eyes and rushed to me. “Monsieur is looking for himself?” He asked. “No” – I answered- “For my nieces. 5 and 7 years old”. “Silver or gold?” Followed the second question. “I am not sure”, I said, “Silver, maybe, with gemstones”. “Then you are the right place, – he said with smile and bow of his head, – we have the best variety!”
“And if you need something to change, – he waved his hand toward the house behind the counters, – my father is working now, he can rework anything you wish”. “That is wonderful!” I said “Let see then! How much for that necklace with turquoise?”
He said the price and we started to bargain. I would say my number and he would say his. Back and forth, from one item to another. I was trying to make it less. And he… I don’t really know what he wanted, to sell his product or just spend the day bargaining. Twenty minutes later I was seating on comfy and soft divan and drinking tea, in the room behind the counters. There was a low standing tea table on front of me with a tray of baklava and cookies on one side and necklaces of my choice on the other. We were still bargaining, but Musha, that was the name of the boy, already ordered the purchases to be boxed and wrapped. Somehow, instead of two items, I purchased six and Musha was saying that, if I pay the price he wants he will throw in a ring that is “just made for such “faris “like me.
“Show me the ring!” I said. “Show me the money!” was the reply. But then a box appeared on the table – small jewelry box, with green and red silk upholstery. I opened and there was a ring. Man ring, not girlish. Very simple. Silver, with thin bottom part that would come to a square on top. Not very big, just about size of a thumb nail. No ornament, no patina, just smooth silver with a square flat “base” on top. And on that “base” there was a round inset of cabochon of malachite. Green with black lines. And amazingly, those lines would form of a figure of a spider. A perfect contour of a spider; with small head, bigger belly and eight legs of different size. The front ones were the longest and the back ones the shortest.
I took the ring from the box and put it on my ring finger. It was loose a bit. I changed it to middle finger, clenched my hand to fist… I liked it. I liked the ring. It fitted like it was made for me, did not feel it at all. And when I turn my hand under the light I noticed that, depend on the angle, the shape of the spider would change giving to it an illusion of motion. Like it the spider would run off the ring…. And then I was ready to pay.
Back in home I gave out all the presents and entertained them with stories about my trip. Everyone was excited and pleased. But most of all was my father. It seemed to me that he was not only pleased, but also proud of me. As if I proved something to him…. I am still wandering what exactly.
Next few months passed without anything exciting. I was back in school. Going to classes and spending my time between library and swimming pull. The ring was on my middle finger. Always. I would not even take it out in shower.
One thing was wrong though. With more time in college I started to realize that my decision to follow the steps of my father and become a construction engineer was not exactly right. It was good to be a kid and walk with your father over the bridge that he had helped to build. But when it came to actual math and physics that was behind that construction – I understood that it was not exactly my cup of tea. Even worse – it was not a “tea” at all! By the end of May my days were becoming gloomy. The thought, that I am doing a big mistake, was following me everywhere, in every class, in library, even on the student gatherings. I was trying to get myself busy with sports; spending every free minute in the pool or in gym. But it just went from bad to worse; while my body was busy; my mind kept lingering all around same problem again and again.
I lost interest in most of classes, which momentarily mirrored on my mid grades. I was preparing myself to a potentially devastating conversation with my dad about dropping the college. And then, one night… I got a bloody nose.
It would happen to my time to time. I don’t know why – thin blood vassals in my nose or maybe the influence of chlorine in the swimming pool water. But sometimes I would get the blood dripping from my nose. Since it was a common to me, I knew what to do. I would run to freezer, take out few pieces of ice, wrap them in paper towel and press against my nose. The cold would contract the vassals. And bleeding would stop in few minutes.
And this time too. I was in my room in dormitory when it happened. I quickly grabbed my nose, rose my head up and went for ice. The freezer was outside, in the common kitchen at the end of the long corridor. The corridor was light, but empty – it was late. I opened the freezer and grabbed a handful of ice cubes. Then saw the roll of paper towels on the corner of the counter. So, with my one hand on my nose, I put the cubes down, ripped a sheet of towel, put cubes on it, folded the edges and pressed it against my face. Then ripped few more sheets of paper and went back to my room.
Thankfully, I managed to do all that without any bloody hand prints on the counters and freezer. There were some droplets on the floor and I cleaned them with towels in my hand. Back in my room I went to bath and stayed there until bleeding stopped. I was sitting on top of toilet cover checking for blood flow from my nasals when I noticed that my entire hand, including the ring are bloody. In other time it would not bother me, but now I thought that the blood will not come off the malachite so easy. I took the ring off of my finger and noticed a strange thing. The blood was covering the silver cast, but the stone itself was spotless, as If it was repellent to blood. I looked at that, amazed, and then rubbed the stone against the bloody towel I was holding. What happened next amazed me even more. Thin layer of blood, on the surface of the malachite, rolled into multiple small droplets, like a drizzle on the window glass, and squirted into the stone, disappearing. It was so unusual that I repeated that rubbing few more times. And with no failure the same process followed; the blood would turn into the droplets and sink into the stone. I would not be an engineers’ son, if I would not promised myself to go to library tomorrow and investigate this unusual property of malachite.
I woke up suddenly, jumped out of the deep well of my dreams. It was middle of the night, it was dark yet, and the alarm-clock was showing 2:43. I slept probably an hour or so…. I turned to another side intending to go back to slip again, and then I heard a soft, woman voice calling my name. I did not react, assuming that am still sleeping. But voice called me again – this time little lauder. I turned back harshly and saw a figure standing next to my bed, by my feet. I reacted faster than managed to think. In less than a spit second I jumped up in my bad, moving out and away from it. Next, I grabbed the electrical cord on my table lamp and switched the lights on…
- Who are you? What you doing here? – I was standing between her and the door, ready to run out in any sign of danger. I started to come back to my senses. Thoughts were racing in my head; I was holding my arms on front of me, in defensive manner. But the figure did not move.
- “Who are you?” – I asked again.
It was a woman. Short, maybe just over 5 foot. From head to toe wrapped with dark brown cloth. It seemed very familiar, but at that moment I did not realized that not very long ago I saw many figures like that in Morocco. She turned to me, and pulled the cover off of her face and head. She looked… grown up. Not young. But not old, neither. Over forty, perhaps. She had curly hairs. Light blue eyes and white skin. Her face was king and smiling. Somehow every line on her face, her lips, her eyes, her chin, even lines on her forehead were smiling. And that smile looked very…. trustworthy…. if that is a right world. All her appearance was very casual and kind.
“I mean no harm”, she said, “I am Anancy.”
“I don’t know you!” I replayed, “How did you get in here?!”
“You called me!” she said with soft voice, “And I came.”
“I did not call anybody!” I said, “Get out!”
“I am Anancy”, she said again, with patience, “You are wearing my ring.” She stretched her hand from under the cloth and showed to the ring on my finger.
“You feed the ring with blood and I came!” she was acting like if her appearance in the shut room in the middle of the night was normal.
“What the hell are you talking about?” The entire situation begun to look very weird. “Am I dreaming?” I was asking myself.
“I am Anancy”, she repeated again, “You are wearing my ring. And you feed it with your blood. You called me. So, I am here, obeying to your call!”
It was surreal and absurd. Me, standing in the middle of the room in underwear, and her, wrapped into a cloth like in shroud. To say that I was scared means to say nothing. I was terrified. Unconsciously, I was desperately trying to find a rational explanation. My thoughts were jumping between “I am dreaming” and “It’s a prank”.
It took us probably 45 minutes to figure out who she was and how she was related to the ring. After dozen of my questions, and her calm and soft answered I pictured the following story. … “Long time ago, when humans were young there were five human kings, of 5 great states in North Africa. And all those five countries were in endless war with each other. And no one would either agreed to stop the fighting, neither anyone of them was able to win the war. One would make in alliance with two others and march over the borders of third. But then treason would happen and the army would vanish in sands. And on next turn, the fourth country would go against the fifth one, but when the armies were away, the second one you break the thirty and invade to concur the lands of its neighbor. And the land was soaked with blood, and the corpses were left unburied. The size of human carnage was behind of anything imaginable.
Generations of kids were born, grew up and died without seeing a single day without war. The sword was their favorite toy, and the dead bones on road sides were as common as fallen branches of trees. They forgot how it was – to have peace. People of all five countries were suffering, unable to stop that madness. They fled for their lives, for their sons not to die and daughters not to be enslaved. The villages were emptied and fields got left unplowed.
And then a king was born, wise and fair. As he grew, he saw the madness that scorched that land. He decided to finish the war, to stop the killings, to bring back peasants to their farms and fill the villages with life again. As he was looking for ways to do so, he called for Anancy, the ancient goddess of Wisdom, and she came to him in a form of spider. She became his adviser, living in the glass ball, traveling with him. By day a spider, by night a woman. She was the best and wisest adviser of any human king had ever had. Merciful and fair, incorruptible and unemotional. For she was a goddess of wisdom, Anancy, the niece of Mother Goddess. Day after day she helped him in his military operation and diplomacy. Where to attack, when to retreat. When to be brave and when to send an assassin instead of army. And sure as day, one after another all rival kingdoms failed to king’s mercy. They swore an allegiance to him and proclaimed him The King of Kings. The war was stopped.
A time of peace and prosperity came… for all. People were farming and harvesting, trade was flourishing, ships with goods were freely swimming at seas and entering all ports of united kingdom and caravans were traveling without fear…
But, as the years past, King of kings was getting older. He started to worry, that when he dies, the sons of former kings will revolt and split the country in bloodshed. Then he summoned Anancy again. And asked for her advice. And she told him to find a gemstone, a malachite, with a spider on it. And to forge a ring of pure silver cast and set the malachite on it. And when the ring was ready, she performed a powerful magic and bounded herself to that ring. And it was said that the ring will pass from father to son, and if so happen that one needs an adviser, all he needs to do, is to feed the spider with his own blood… and Anancy shell answer the call.
For many generations Anancy helped ring bearers with her wisdom. In any question, in war and peace, in love or hate, in illness or health – if summoned, she would come and advise! And then the ring was lost. No one knows how, and neither anyone knows when or where was it found again. But sure, it was in jewelry store in Medina where I purchased it. And it was my blood today on the ring and so she came….
By the time she ended that story I had my jeans and shirt on. She was sitting in my chair and I was on my bed, listening. I did not believe a single word she said. Who would? “I don’t believe in Santa Clause or Anancy!” I was thinking to myself”What kind of games she is playing at? And why?”
“Well it is a good story”, I said when she finished, “But I this is a prank, there are no Gods and I don’t believe you! So, please, get out my room!”
“It is very normal not to believe in something that does not fit into a concept of your world…” – she replied.
“Listen woman, I don’t care what is normal or not! Nor I care how you got into my room”, I interrupted her again, “Please, leave my room or I will call security.”
“Also, I know… that if I don’t present any evidence of my highest power, you will not believe me.” – She continued with smile, ignoring my rudeness.
“And since you don’t have any proofs of your highest powers”, I broke her again, “Leave! Now! I have classes in few hours, I need to sleep.”
“And, since it is not in my habits to prove anything to anybody, a will tell you this! If you want to know what to do with our life, call me! You know how!” she said, and with those words she disappeared. Not suddenly, No! She slowly melted in a thin air, smiling and looking straight into my eyes. Her lines became fuzzy first, and then she became see-thru, tuned to fog and vanished…
The horror bolted through my spine like an eclectic shock, I startled so hard I hit my head to the wall behind, and started to hiccup. I sat there motionless, for another minute, frozen with my eyes open into the empty chair, which was just occupied. Then I stretched my hand and fumble on the seat. It was warm, still holding the body heat. Warm and empty…. The world I knew was collapsed on front of my eyes. The science, the religion, the history…. The past and present… everything crumbled down creating a twister of dread in my stomach… It grew to my throat and blasted out in a thick, yellow, smelly vomit, covering my bed sheets and floor.
Needless to say I did not slip the rest of the night. And the next day was completely in fog. Partially because of lack of sleep, but mostly because of the sense of paralyzing fear that nested in my guts. It consumed me completely. I actually pushed myself to go outside and attend the classes. And right after them I returned back to my room, crawled onto my bad and laid there facing wall till next morning.
Few of my friends came and left, I was not responding to anything, pretending to be asleep. I was thinking. I was dissolved in fear, drawn. Fear so strong and overwhelming that very core of me as a person got shattered. At that moment I was a small frightened boy, hiding under “my blanket” and sucking on my thumb. And my brain was battling the fear; my brain was looking for a rational explanation to what happened last night. And it was doing everything without my conscious involvement. I was not talking to myself; I was not trying to convince myself that all that never happens. It was my brain – separated from emotional part of me – that did the entire job. Little by little, it found, or rather, created inconsistencies in the picture of what happen that day and convinced itself, along with emotional part of me, that all of it was a sickness and delusion resulting intense and stressful studies, homework and spoiled Chinese food that I eat previously…. And the emotional me? Well, I was watching all that from underneath the blanket, still sucking on my thumb…
By the morning of second day the heavy chains of fear got loose and I began to breathe again. It was Friday; I missed the classes, fell asleep. Then there was a weekend. And by Monday I almost recovered from the shock. Almost, because there was a small part of me that was refusing to accept a comfortable lie that it had never happened. That small part of me was sitting there quiet and hidden and just sometimes, when I would accidentally look at the ring on my finger, would jump out of its hideout and yell that it was not dream, that it was real…
The summer came. I was about to finish my first year in college and was preparing to go back home for summer recess. My heart was heavy with thoughts – I was determined to drop off the school. In my head, I was constantly talking to my father explaining why I want to drop, and why I don’t want to be an engineer. I was searching for proper words and proper phrases that I would tell him. But no matter what, no matter how I would build the conversations in my head, my dad would leave the room with a deep disappointment and disapproval on his face….
And then the two days before the train it stroked me; “If you want to know what to do with our life, call me. You know how”… I don’t know how that happened. I have no idea how in few minutes I switched from denial to an acceptance. Must be my devastation, all consuming desire to find a solution. Maybe that was that little part of me that believed… but…. Suddenly it seemed so clear. “What do you waiting for? What do you afraid of? Call her?”
She came. The very same way she disappeared before. Slowly emerged from thin air. A haze fist, then a shadow, then milky fuzzy outlines in a fog and finally she emerged from it. This time her shroud was pearly white. She removed the cloth from her head, smiled, then with motion of her palm “dragged” the chair from 3 feet away and sat on it.
“Well?” she said
I was sitting on my bad, hugging my pillow. And I was scared again. Not a lot, like first time, but no fears free ether…
“Don’t be afraid” she said with her calm and soft voice “I am here not to harm you, but to help”
I did not replayed for a moment, then with some hesitation I asked
“What is the catch?”
“Catch?” she repeated”What catch?”
“You are going to help me, right?” she nodded; with gracious move of her head “all of my life, right?”
“No!” she replayed “Only, as long as you possess the ring”
“OK. Long enough. And for that what will I owe you? My soul?”
“Your soul? What do I need your soul for? What I am going to do with that?” her eyebrows went up bewailed.
“I don’t know… What others do?”
“Others who?” she honestly was puzzled with my conclusions. And I too had that feeling of awkward situation….
“OK”, I said ,“Forget about it. So, you are going to help me, right?”
“Yes”, she answered.
“And you don’t want anything in return, right?”
“That is not true”, she said,”Your blood is the payment. I got it in advance”
“My blood?”, now it was my turn not be lost.
“Yes. You fed the ring with your blood. That is the payment.”
“Just few drops, is that enough?
“I am a spider, not a lion – she replayed, – that is exactly how much I need”
“Oh”, I said,”I did not think of it that way”
“You are not too bright, are you?” – She did not change her ton for a bit, but this sounded very scurrilously.
“What makes you think so?” I blushed into red and felt poked.
“Just a wild guess”, she answered, “So, do you going to ask or not?”
“Yes!” I got mad on myself, the conversation was not going the way I planned,”As a matter of fact I will! I would not have called you otherwise, would not I?”
“So, go ahead, what are you waiting for?”
I took a deep breath and asked in one inhalation.
“I need to tell my father, that I am dropping the college and I don’t know how to tell it”
“Well” she said, “I am not going to answer that question?”
I flinched and froze speechless. My face probably was very funny, because she started to laugh…
That was first time she showed some emotion other than “goddesslly” calmness and forbearance.
I blushed in red again, from neck to tips of my ears, and she just kept laughing. My pink face made her to go to the second wave of convulsions. She laughed and laughed, clapping his hands and wiping tears off. She would stop for a moment then look at me and start laughing again…
“I am sorry”, she finally controlled herself “It just was too funny! So honest, and funny! I did not laugh like this for long time… “
“Well”, I was pissed,”Now, when I amused you so brilliantly, shell we return to my question? I remember you promised to help me?”
“Help you – yes! But not to drop the college!”, she was coming back to her normal calmness, “You should learn now to see what is your problem and solve it. But not to run from the situation itself.”
“That is rubbish! I am not running from my problem! I am solving it!”
“Solving? By dropping off the college? That is not a solution!”
“Ye-a-h? Than what is?” Blood was pulsing in my head; I was ready to object any reasoning I would get from her.
“What is your problem?”, She asked, “College? Or the classes you take?”
“Well I take classes in the college, do I?”
“O yes, you do”, she was completely calm again, almost emotionless,” but college offers much more than the classes you hate.”
“What you mean?”
“If you don’t like the math and physics, it does not mean than you are not cut off for education… maybe you can learn something else. Something that does not includes algebra….”
“For example?” – Suddenly her words were making sense to me. I was still aggravated and rejecting, but I saw things from different angle.
“Think!” she said, “What other departments are in your college?
“Law”, I said first. I was passing by that big white building every time on my way to gym.
“Excellent” – she sheered, “How do you feel about being a lawyer?”
“I don’t know… I never thought about it… a lawyer? “I answered doubt, “I am not sure…”
“Well, you are sure about engineering, right? Give it a try! How bad that could be?”
“I don’t know… it’s a so sudden. I don’t like to make a decision so fast!”
“That is where you need me!” She smiled, “Here I can advise you! If, of course, you ask a right question”
I looked at her indecisively….
“Go on!” she spoke again, “I am Anancy, remember? A goddess? My advices are going to be the best ones you ever get!”
“OK… Then…” I went off from my bed and stood on front of her,” So…. Anancy…. Should I transfer to law school?”
It sounded pathetic, but she did not laugh. She looked at me, deep in my eyes with a faint smile on her lips and answered:
“Yes. You should. I do believe that that is the way you should go….”
My way back to home was not heavy after that. The simplicity and elegance of the solution gave me a feeling of brightness. Like if I knew, that from now on everything in my life is going to go well. I was sitting in the sit in the train, looking to the window and smiling.
My father accepted my desire to become a lawyer with enthusiasm. To my big surprise and excitement he said that he is proud and very glad for me. When I asked why, he answered that unlike to thousand of kids of my age; I am not going to blindly follow the choices that someone made for me. He said that he is proud to see me becoming a man. Free and with good head on the shoulders….
Fifty two years passed from that day. I am a going to celebrate my eightieth birthday this year. My father had past away, and I am a grand-grandfather myself. I became a lawyer almost sixty years ago, thanks to Anancy’s advice. I worked for the best law firms in country, was on service of government, and now I am member of Supreme Court. I have seen four presidents to come and go.
My judgments are fair and my opinions are respected. I shook hands with many of the strongest of this world. My house is full and blossoms with happiness. My family is around me with my wife, 3 sons, and 2 daughters. I have twelve grandkids and 3 grand-grand kids.
I still work every day. I make decisions changing the life of generations to come. And when a doubt takes place in my heart, and judgments are difficult to make – I know just a place where to seek for help.
It happened last winter. At the end of February, as you may remember a big show storm was coming. Somehow a warm and full of humid wind from south got mixed up with a cold blow from north and turned into a 36” of snow. And when the snowfall died, the north blow came again and covered the snow with a thick crust of ice.
The conditions were getting bad every minute, the roads grew black ice and cars were getting destroyed almost with the same speed they were produced in Michigan. One car per minute of drive. The well oiled machine of our existence started to slag a little bit. First there were delivery trucks that got stuck somewhere in Pennsylvania, then it was the turn for postal cars. Mails got hold up in post offices. And that was good – one more day without bills and payment reminders. Then the stores got empty – which always happen for some reason. I don’t know what people are thinking about, but every time when a big storm comes, they emptying the stores. Like if everything is going to freeze for a week or two…
Anyway. Finally by ten o’clock of night the life got paralyzed… there were no cars on the roads and highways, but daredevils on SUVs and snow plows. The stores got closed early and TV shows were getting interrupted every fifteen minutes for “emergency” weather update. I was laying on the couch in basement’s family room and watching movie on HBO. I like HBO. No commercials and a lot of good shows and movies.
I had a diced-up cheese on bamboo cutting board, a glass of wine and half-full bottle next to me. My stomach was full, my feet were warm and nothing was disturbing me in that night…. I was resting.
An hour and half later the bottle was empty my head was light and all worries and thoughts were gone. My boring work and my failed relationship were not that dramatic anymore and I was felling quite excited. Must be the wine… Mondavi is a good, very good brand. I was thinking to go to cellar for a second bottle but TV caught my attention and I changed my mind and stayed on couch. A small, very small thought came to my mind about the going to work tomorrow, but I shoo’ed it away saying to myself, that with a snowfall like this I have a valid reason to call and take a day off…
It was far past midnight when I fell to sleep. My eyes were closing and my neck kept falling. Finally, sneaky sleep, took over. The voices of TV became distant and I gave up. I closed my eyes and my mind drifted away…
Hey, hey wind and snow
Hey, hey dance and show
Hey, hey cloud and moon
Hey, hey twist in tune…
Hey, hey dance of death
Hey, hey kiss in the head
A voice was coming thought my dream. A beautiful voice, gentle and soft, like a stream rolling over rocks. Almost forgotten, something from childhood.
I open my eyes and sat on the couch. The TV, set on timer, was off. It was dark and quite. So quite that I heard the tick-tocking of the wall clock in the living room upstairs. I starter to fumble on the wall behind me in search for the electrical cord of table lamp and thought that I need to buy all bunch of those night lights, those ones that you plug directly into the outlets. With the cord I found the switch and the room filled with light again.
I felt sober. The wine was gone and my head was not as light as before. But I was thirsty now. I got up and dragged myself to kitchen. The sound of refrigerator was a calming, almost insuring – like cat’s purring. I filled a big jug with water and ice, made a few big sips and walked toward the living room. Few years ago I installed a big and large bay window in living room, and was enjoying views of the lake all year around. Red and leafy in autumn, grey and brown in spring and green and playful at summer. But most of all I liked the winter view. The waters covered with ice, sleeping, waiting for warmer days. I like its sleeping beauty, covered up with white sheets – a princess in the crystal coffin.
It was light outside. I don’t know how that happens, but every time when it snows, it is light outside. It seems that snow and clouds take even the smallest sours of illumination and reflect its light to everywhere, creating a magnificent, almost magical light. Not bright, just enough to see all around, a white twilight!
I was standing in front of the window drinking water when a sudden movement caught my eye. In the middle of the lake on the flat sheet of the ice I saw something or somebody moving slowly toward me. Soon it was close enough for me to understand what I am looking at. It was a woman!
Barefooted and naked. With black straight hair covering her shoulders and dark triangle on the bottom of her belly. As she approached I saw her face and was able to decide that she must have been Asian. High cheekbones and slanting eyes were giving her a bit wild, almost animalistic expression. She was not tall, but proportionally built, with small pointy breasts, and narrow hips. I was standing there, by the window, overwhelmed, staring to her, as she was moving the strange pattern of jumps slides and twists. And swiftly I realized that she was dancing. I was amazed and astounded. I forgot about my thirst, about the jug of water. A was looking at her, hypnotized by her unearthly beauty and magical dance. It was wordless, wonderful and breathtaking. And only then I noticed that she was not walking on the snow leaving footprints, but rather gliding over it few inches above. Then moments later I heard again the beautiful voice singing:
Hey, hey wind and snow
Hey, hey dance and show….
But strangely the voice was not coming from outside, it seemed that it was only in my head. A beauty of this vision completely took over me. White snow covered lake, threes around it. White village and glowing clouds above, and a magical naked woman dancing on snow. Who can say that he ever was a witness of anything like that?!
The song and the dance were coming to the climax. Her voice was getting lauder and higher and the dancing pa’s faster. And then she made one last turn on her toe, opened her arms with her body stretched and bowed back, as if she was offering herself to the world. She froze like that for a second and then bowed forward, moved her knees to her chest, clapped her hands and stopped…. After another long second she stood straight turned and glided away. And at that moment I understood that I am not going to see her ever again. And that thought was so painful that I dropped everything, rapped the door open and ran outside after her
“Hey!” I yelled “wait up!”
And she heard me! She turned to me, smiled and glided toward me with her arms opened for hug. She came close and I saw how beautiful she was. Her eyes were a color of honey, golden, light brown, her skin pearly white and smooth like marble. We hugged; she put her arms around my neck, her body against mine. Her lips came close and we kissed…
An excruciating, burning pain exploding in my face was the last thing I remember.
They found me few hours later on the snow covered lakeshore, laying on my back with blood under my head. Neighbor was walking out the door and saw me and called 911…. Apparently I fell back, smacked my head and blacked out. They took me to the hospital, of course. My lips were frozen white and I had a big bloody bruise on my head. I was trying to ask, if anybody saw a naked woman. But they just laughed at me and advised to go easy with wine next time. They said that I was pretty drunk and must be happy to be alive.
They kept me in hospital till next morning. CAT scan and MRI showed I have no brain damage of any kind and they let me go with two prescriptions. One was a painkiller for my head, and the other some cream for my lips.
A full week passed since then. My head is was not paining anymore and my swollen lips decreased to a size when I actually could talk again. With some difficulties, but could… and everyone was staring at me, everywhere I go, I would see those hidden looks at me with silent question: “What the hell happened his lips?”
They really looked bad; they were swollen and badly cracked. Covered with brown scabs and patches of dead skin. And every time I would open my mouth I would wipe blood off of them. And what was even worse – the ointment that they gave me, seemed to do nothing to it.
I did not tell anyone about what happen. Nobody would believe me, anyway. And I would not believe myself too. And actually I was starting to think that all what happened was just a stupid accident. That I got drunk, sleepwalked, fell and my got frostbite on my lips. And the woman, and the dance, and the kiss – all that, was nothing more but my imaginations. Well, and the wine of course. A bottle of fine Mondovi’s merlot. It was depressing. One part of my brain was saying that it was real and happened, and the other one was arguing, saying that it could not have happened, because there are no women in existence that can glide above the ground and coming to dance on the icy lakes!
But then in the grocery store an old Asian woman saw my lips and started to mumble something on her language. She was fingering to my lips, then to her lips and kept wailing “Youky Onna! Youky Onna!” A younger woman, her granddaughter, I think, ran by, grabbed her by the arms and pulled away from me. I did not get much offended or upset, but rather embarrassed little bit and tried to hide in the far alleys away from everybody. But then that young woman came to me with apologies for her grandmother’s behavior. I asked her: “What she was saying?” Young woman lower her eyes to the floor and then said to me: “She was saying that you were kissed by Youky Onna. Forgive her, please, mister. She is old and confused”
“Who is that Youky Onna?” I asked with sudden cold in my chest.
“It’s a woman form Japanese fairytales.” she answered “a goddess of chill and cold. She comes when its winter and brings snow and ice.”
“Naked?” I asked “with black hair and honey brown eyes?”
The women looked at me. She looked amazed and terrified at the same time. I could see that from her face. She new! It was real! The woman, the dance and the kiss! All of it! But did not answer me. She looked at me, we stand like that for few seconds and then she bowed to me. “I am sorry for my grandmother, mister.” She said and gave me another bow “My grandmother sais that your lips will not heal. You need to kiss Youky Onna again to get better. You need to put honey on your lips, before you go to sleep and she will come to you at night and will kiss you again. And by the morning your lips will heal. Please forgive my grandmother, mister. I must go now!”
And with that she withdrew, leaving me in that far alley alone. My heart was pounding in my head: bum, bum, bum, bum. So, it was real! I did not imagine all that! I am not crazy! And I was not drunk! It was shocking and at the same time healing knowledge. Shocking, because “do they really exist?” and healing, because “I am not losing my mind, after all!”
I am not sure how long I stood there digesting what I just heard. But I knew for sure, that my world, my perception of it was coming back from unbalanced state. Like if I was dizzy all this days, and now the dizziness was leaving. I started to look around to find that old Japanese woman; I had so many questions to ask! I ran thought alleys, circled the entire store couple time, but they must have left already.
I returned home happy that day. I did not feel like that for long period of time actually.
I opened another bottle of same wine, thinking: “Why change, if it worked first time!” and got drunk. And before I closed my eyes I squeezed a plastic honey container on my lips and feel asleep with smile.
His name was Mussafaheel. Not a common name, you know. Strange name. Like something wrong with it, something feels off…
Actually, if compared, everything about that man was strange. His skin was white, but facial lines were of an African. You know…. Wide nasals, big lips…. Like if somebody took Luis Armstrong’s face and stripped the color off of it… He was blond but with curly hair, springy thick small curls. Just like someone from South Africa…. And his eyes … they were of color of ash.
We meet right outside of Central Park, which I was leaving in big annoyance and aggravation. My mood was spoiled by another unsuccessful and absolutely wasted day that I spent there.
See, I am a finder. I find things. That is my gift. When people lose something or someone they come to me and they ask to find it… or him.. Or her. It does not matter. I can find anything. From a wedding ring to a puppy, that got lost on street. I go local to the place that it was lost, close my eyes, clear my mind and imagine the object that got lost. And then just trust my feelings to take me to it. It works all the time, day and night, summer or winter. There is only one condition – it must be lost and not found, and, most importantly, it must not be stolen. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a superpower, like with that girl in “Heroes”. I can’t see the location of somebody somewhere on the planet! No! I just can find things…that are misplaced. I don’t know much about it, but somebody told me that lost things have difference in their aura or something. And I can feel it. I don’t know. I don’t feel any aura… I am not sure what that aura even look like.
People are coming to me saying: “I lost my wallet, please find it!”
I close my eyes and I see – you did not lose it, it was snatched out off of your pocket. So, don’t be fool, don’t dream of finding it, call the bank and cancel the cards!
And today too I was looking for something… someone… a couple….
It started a week ago. A good friend of mine called me from Arizona. Her name is Rosa Monk. Many years ago she was my friend’s wife. But then few things changed. She got divorced and remarried. And that friend of mine… Well, let us say he choose to go to places, where I would not put my feet on.
Anyway, Rosa’s new husband, Bill is very good guy, I met him few times, very honest, kind and straight forward man. From very famous family in Arizona.
Making a long story short, here is what had happened. Bill’s nephew, a young beautiful girl of age of twenty one meet this guy, age of 22, and feel in love with him. She is … high class, high maintenance, white, daddy’s daughter and he is …Puerto Rican, dark skinned son of a hardworking FedEx track driver. Needless to say that, when their affair got a little bit deep, the family, her family, got all warned up against it. Her father had a few short words with soon-to-be son-in law, and even offered him a very considerable ransom to leave his daughter alone. Her brother preferred a “man-to-man” talk, but apparently Puerto Ricans also got balls…. Anyway, either the guy was too smart or really loved her, but four weeks ago they went to city hall, got married, pack up the languages and left for their honey moon in New York. No reception, no priest, no guest, no speeches, no father-daughter dance. Just a few friends and even less fewer relatives in small gathering in restaurant. They checked into hotel, here in midtown. Called their parents – just for the record to say now happy they are and two days later disappeared. They had to meet with friends, never showed up, they did not call, and they do not pick up the calls. The parents called to hotel just find out that hotel consider the privacy of their guests at their highest priority and will not share any information about whereabouts of their current guests. In other words, hotel managers told them that their kids did not check out, but if they want more information they have to find another ways to get it. So, girl’s uncle – a politician of some sort, got police involved in this. They came, investigated and found out that the young couple did not show up in hotel for 72 hours. Well after that everything got spinning. The case was hot and high profiled, so police commissioner himself picked up the phone called to Arizona and gave his word to do his best in search of this two kids. Since then – nothing… Police searched and re-searched everywhere possible, questioned and re-questioned anybody possible. The last man who saw them, was a cab driver who dropped them off on front of central park on 59-th street. There was even a report about that TV, on channel 4 I think.
Weeks ago Rosa remembered about my “gift” and called. She explained what happened and e-mailed me the pictures of missing couple. So, I said – sure! I will help. I will find them. And … And I failed!
I started my search at the southern gates of Central Park, early on the morning and came out empty-handed by night fall. I did my thing. You know… closing my eyes and letting my mind go… And it worked. I walked the alleys, where, I am sure they walked, holding that faint feeling of their shadows in my hand. But then, at some particular spot, on East drive, right above the lake the feeling all of a sudden disappeared, leaving me empty.
Just like that. Very sharp. One step back – here is their clear trace! One step forward – emptiness. I could not understand it. Never in my life had I ever seen anything like it. It was not a sudden death! No! It was disappearance!
I had few times, when somebody got lost and die, and the body got moved to some another place. But even then, I was able to find it. The place of their death receives a mark! An emotional mark! Like a spot of “light” that stays there for months…. It is impossible to miss. Anybody who has a “gift” can sense it! Can see it!
This time everything was different – incomparable to anything. Like if their existence was dismissed, deleted, if they never existed.
I looked akin to a dog on the hunt. I was circling around that spot, desperately trying to find the lost trace. Circle clockwise, counterclockwise, back and forth, left to right, right to left… hour after hour…
Soon, it was dark. The night hunters were about to start their rituals, so, I decided to stop this headless search and to come back tomorrow with first songs of morning birds. And I did. Next day, day next to next, day after that and another 4 days in a row. Same spot, same trace same emptiness.
And today I finally gave up. I was about to go home, to call Rosa and get drunk. I felt disappointed, confused and aggravated. I was close to 79-Th street exit when a minor bloodsucker suddenly jumped out off the bushes in hopes of easy dinner. I whipped him with a Gray Flame, clearing my way out. He howled in return. That just added to my cup. I breaded another spell and through it to his face making him burn. “Get away from me!” I yelled “What is wrong with you?!” Bloodsucker turned transparent and melted in the shadows.
I left the Park and just turned on Fifth Avenue, when somebody called my name.
I turned around. The man I was looking at was tall and large. Not fat though, but large. Like if you take a well build man and proportionally scale him up.
- Do I know you?” I answered
- I don’t think so” he said “but you definitely want to talk with me.
- Talk with you? About what?
- Well, how about an unsuccessful day” he smiled widely showing white and clapped his hands.
- What the hell are you talking about?” My aggravation was growing.
- About people that are trying to find things, that other people lost.
It was getting serious.
- Did you loose something?
- Why, can you help?” he was having fun , I think
- Listen, man, I don’t have time for this,” I was about to explode “you either tell me what you want, or go to hell.”
- Go to hell?” He repeated “No thanks! Too hot, too noisy, not my kind of place. I better tell.”
- I want you stop searching for those two?
- What are you talking about?” I decided to play dumb. I always play dumb, when I don’t understand what is going on. Gives me time for “proper orientation”.
- Listen,” he said “I know who you are, I know about your gift, and I know that you were doing here for past week. And I want you to stop it.”
Now, I got scared. And when I get scared I become aggressive. Just in case… you know…
- Well,- a said, – if you know that much about me, you should know, that you have to give me more than that, to make me stop.
- I figured I give it a try, – he smiled, – but if you insist…
My guts got stiff. I prepared to hit him with a spell and run away with a first sign of an attack. But instead he jerked his head toward a horse carriage behind him
- Care for a ride?
It was a white carriage harnessed with dark brown horse.
- That’s my living, – he said, – am driving a carriage around, with tourists.
- Pays well?- I was still alert but the tension was gone
- Depends, – he jerked his head again, -Weather and seasons…. Sit next to me… then we can talk.
- M’name is Mussafaheel, I am an angel…. Well… I was an angel, when he… – he looked up, – was creating the existence. But then… I crewed up and got sort of.. fired. If you know what I mean?… Since then I live like this, here and there, doing this or that. Keeping low profile. Not showing up.
- Stop the carriage, I am getting off, – I started to thing that he is just a crazy.
- You think I am crazy, aren’t you!
- If you are an angel you be able to think my mind.
- That was not my specialty… you know.
- Stop the carriage, please- I was trying to jump off the sit.
- No! no. Listen I may sound crazy, – he grabbed my hand, – You wanna prove?
- Yeh, Prove it. Show me some angel staff. – I managed to jump and was standing in safe distance from him.
- All right, – he said, – look!
Hi jumped from the carriage too and came close to me. Then he picked-up a yellow leaf from the ground and gave it to me.
- Hold it like this, – he said and sandwiched the steam between my fingers, – vertically.
It was an fallen leaf, yellow, dry and rolled up. Mussafaheel moved his palm above mine and leaf started to change. Under the light of an yellow street lights I saw now the leaf expanded, gained green and became fresh. Like if it was ripped from a branch.
- Good enough? – he asked
- Well… its impressive, – I said, – how did you do this?
- I can make it to give roots and start growing if you want. But it’ll take some time. All angels have healing powers… besides the…. Professional staff.
- What “ professional staff”
- We were His employees, you know. And every one has its own speciality…
- And what is yours?
- I can see past and future. And move objects from one universe to another… Are you coming?, – he climbed back the carriage’s flyman’s sit.
- The universe you know is not the only one. It is just one of many, – he was telling me, while the we were driving dawn 5-th avenue.- there are different layers of universes one above the other. There are unlimited numbers of worlds in every universe. And there is a special set of rules or equations that makes everything spinning without His immediate interference. If the equation is broken then that universe collapses. If the equations are good – the universe exists long enough to develop life. Like here, on Earth. Those equations are very very complicated, not comprehensible by human. Even we, angels, know them only partially. All I know, is if you want to create a new universe you a set of equations and change a small little thing on any of them. And a new universe will get created, a very close clone of the previous one. Just a bit different.
- And now all this is related to a honey-mooners that I am looking for.
He fetched a sigh.
- That day… I saw them coming out the cab… I liked them, liked them both. And then….
- I saw their past and I saw their future… and they walked just right at me and asked for a ride!
- I did not wanted to interfere… I said that the horse is tired and need to rest. But she looked at me, deep in my eyes… and I don’t know what happen. But next i see, they were sitting in my carriage cuddling and talking about future.
- So what happen?
- They were making plans. To get an apartment, to get jobs. To have kids… To be happy! And… And … I knew that its not going to happen. I knew that in near future he is going to be crippled by a car accident. the car would hit him in the back, leaving him paralysed for whole his life…. I knew that she was pregnant by then, and she will have miscarriage… I knew that she it will brake her and she will end up in mental hospital, where she will kill herself. I knew that will just add unbearably heavy misery to the boy’s condition. And I knew that he will suffer for whole his life – for long 15 years. Being paralysed, with a broken spine. Not able not only to move but even talk. I knew that after all the doctors will make an miracle fixing him up. And I knew that next day after they realise him from the hospital he would also kill himself…
- O God!
- O, yes! O God. That night in my carriage was basically the only happy night they had left….
- And I decided to save them. I decided to take them to some other universe where their life and happiness would be spared…. And I did that. I opened a “gate” and drove right trough it. Into a just bit different universe, where they were not existing before. I finished that ride. Got paid, opened a “gate” and came back.
- Just like that?
- Yeah, just like that.
We ceased talking for a moment. The horse was puling down the street. I was digesting this new turn of the events and new knowledge that fell on me, and Mussafaheel was just holding the harnesses. The street noise around us somehow faded and seemed far and not very annoying. Which was strange, but from another hand it was the list strangest thing that happened today.
- So, what you gonna do? – he broke the silence
- Well. I think, the search is, obviously, over. And obviously I cant tell anyone about you. So, I guess I gotta call Rosa and tell her that I failed…
- Yeah, – he said, – that is wise. Thank you then… I appreciate that.
- you are welcome, – I said, – there is only two questions I would like to ask. Would you mind?
- No, – he answered - Go ahead!
- Don’t you think that just leaving those two there in different world would be very dangerous for them?
- yeah-, Mussafaheel nodded this head, – I thought so. And next day I got in touch with some of my own kind in that world. And they will take care of them… they promised…
- Aha, your own kind, Ha?…. Nice. So everything is taken care of, and the kids are doing well?
- Yes. Sure! We are angels after all, you know, can fix stuff…. So, what was your second question?
- Why did you asked me to stop the search? You know, I had no way to figure this out. To find you or them…
- Well,- he gave a pause,- remember I told you about the equations being broken….
- Yeah. And?
- Well this is the case when equation got broken…. Almost… I don’t want to explain you what exactly happened. Just believe me… I stabilized the equation, brought everything back to balance. But you, with your search, were disturbing it again. And I was afraid that this world could collapse.
- Yes, its complicated….
- Apparently it is! If the faith of the entire world is connected to a disappearance of two young kinds…
We stopped talking again. We were crossing 39-th were I parked the car.
Mussafaheel pulled the harnesses stopping the horse.
- Did you read my mind?, – I asked.
- Yeah, happens all the time. it just like hearing.
I hesitated for a second and then looked at him but he didn’t let me talk.
- Because I am an angel, not a murderer, – he said with a smile.
-What? – I got confused.
- You wanted to ask why I did not kill you nor did something to keep you away… That is the answer – I am an angel, not a murderer.
“OK, – I said with a pause, – I will take your word for it… See you around, Mussafaheel. I go now.” I turned away and started to walk down the alley.
“Hey, Markus!” I heard a yell from the back, “I know how to return favors!”
I turned back to him. In the darkness did not see his face, only a silhouette: A giant, sitting on the carriage. And for a split second it seemed to me that I saw a swing of pearly white pair of wings, behind his back… but then it was just a gust wind playing with paper and dust.
- If I dare to ask for one! – I yelled back, then turned again and walked without looking back.
Hello!How you doing?
-I am fine thanks. How was your weekend?
-Good, good…Mine was good too, thanks. Was barbecuing, had some guests over. The weather was nice – thanks for that.
- What you mean?
- Well, if it not you than who?
- How that can be?
- Wow! Itself, ha?! That is cool!
- So, you set it once and its run all by itself? No interference from you?! Nice, nice! So many years and yet runs good like new! THAT IS TRULY REMARKABLE!
- Listen, I have a question and I don’t mean any offence. Ok?
- I am not being predigest or chauvinistic by any means. I just want to know out my curiosity. If it was possible to distinct your sex… what would that be? Man or woman, male or female?
-Aha! Ok, ok, thought so… Then… May I ask another question?
- Thanks. Why in that case you did not let women rule?
- I mean manage countries, states… tribes?
- Well, you can’t deny that in human history majority of kings, emperors, tsars, chefs, presidents, premier ministers and other titled and untitled rulers were man!?
- Look, let’s take ancient Egypt for example – how many women? 3-4? Ancient Greek? Same story. Roman Empire? Byzantine Empire? Renaissance? Modern Days?
- I think about that a lot. Now would our history look, if women were in charge? Would there be Alexandra the Grate for example or Caesarea Gay Julius? Or maybe we would avoid the temptations of war victories? Imagine, there was no Genghis Khan and Napoleon never marched through Europe. Was no Hitler, no Stalin, no Hiroshima, no Korea, Vietnam, no Saddam Hussein.
- There is always man…. Man…. Man…. Statue of man, weapon of man, house of man, state of man… Man forgets that he had a mother and kills the mothers of other men. Man forgets that he has a sister and rapes the sister of other man. Man forgets that he has kids and makes the children of the other man his slaves… Man forgets that he has brothers and destroys their houses… It is always about man…
- We screwed up so baldy… and we still do it… every day. …and I am looking for fix…. A global fix… i want to believe that if there was no man in charge that would not happen…
-Remember you were telling me that balance is very important?
-I am sorry, but I fail to see a balance here.
- If not you than who?
- What you mean “US”?! We are too stupid to be responsible for it! We can’t keep balance! No way!
- When was last time you had looked at us? Balance? What balance? We are struggling with balance in our everyday life and you want us to keep balance of power….
- We eat too much, we smoke too much, we sleep too much, we work too much, we ignore each other too much, we lie too much, we love too much and hate too much two. Everything we do we do too much – there is no balance in our lives. Not even close to balance. Our lives are like broken swings – they fly from one extreme to other. And you know that.
-I AM SURE, YOU KNOW THAT!
- No, no! Not by any means. I am not questioning your creation. It just… I want you to interfere a little bit more – to at least to set some boundaries… you know… some borders….Some… “Must do this or suffer” rules….
-Of course we suffer! The thing is we don’t know how to stop our suffering!
- See, that is my idea! What if we just switch positions? What if it is not “ I AM THE MAN, AND YOU ARE MY WOMAN”, but “I AM THE WOMAN, AND THAT IS FINAL”. What if man is responsible for rising kids and taking care of house and woman is free to do what man is continuously failing to do? Will it change the order of things? Will we stop killing each other? Will the world become a better place, if the presidents of most powerful countries on the planet are women? Will it be a peace finally, will we start caring about the planet?
- No, I don’t know the answer. But I think you have to try! I can’t get any worse!
- WHY DO YOU THINK SO?
- PLEASE EXPLAIN.
- YES, I CANT UNDERSTAND WHY DO YOU THINK THAT NOTHING WILL CHANGE?
- YOU WANT ME WHAT?… TO REPEAT WHAT YOU SAY?… OUT LOUD?
- OK, I PROMISE! I WILL REPEAT IT EXACTLY HOW YOU SAY IT – WORD TO WORD!
- SO HERE IS IT! ”I GAVE MAN THE POWER TO RULE THE WORLD AND TO WOMAN THE POWER TO CONTROL THE MAN.”….SO?!… A! … OK… I GOT IT! … SOMETIMES YOU MAKE ME FEEL SO STUPID….
-… YEH, YEH… KEEP LAUGHING! KEEP LAUGHING! …
I have four PhD’s in my family. Four. Not two or one, but four! When their concentration in the room gets more than one I feel like a baboon! Compared to them anyway! An ape! And the music from Stanly Kubrick “Space odyssey” pops in my head. Remember the beginning, when primates discover the obelisk? B-a-a-a, b-a-a-am, b-a-a-a-a-am, ba-bam! Remember? … Well…. Then Google it! Laughable isn’t it? Not yet? Yeahhh, you right it is not laughable; it’s too gloomy to be laughed on! To make it even worse – all them, all four of them, are PhDs in economics. Can you believe that? Some people do not come even close to see a real PhD in economics in their lives and i have whole stock of them!
Hey, anybody wants a PhD?! Good decoration for your living room?! You will be really proud of it! Think about the entertainment factor!,,, And its not expensive!… It also can tutor your children!… No?! …No?!…Somebody?!… Anybody?!…. I am doomed!
One of them made its PhD in former Soviet Union – and that country went bankrupt soon after he got his degree. The other three got their degrees here, in USA. And, man, I was scared last year! It looked like a bankruptcy all over again. But, God bless, we avoided it.
So, I was taking with them about this entire economic situation. And not ones, not even twice they tried to explain to me why the banks and insurance companies must be saved, despise the fact that they are solely guilty in out continues misery. But I am made of completely different dough. I did not understand anything. Nor I agreed with them on saving those banks…
The thing that I got from those conversations was a shocking fact that somehow the concept of money made of paper it based on trust. It is not clear for me yet what is trust has to do with it, and who trusts who? But I think, I think… it was about us trusting bankers that they have enough gold in their basements to support every paper dollar they have….
First of all, how the hell we trust them?! After all what they did last year?! Are we out of our minds!!!!! We all have to go to the banks and demand that gold! Take the paper give us the gold!
But want to know what is more bizarre than that?! We trust in gold! In Gold! Just think about it! Out of all objects and substances on this planet! For some strange twisted turn of human mind we all decided that the most valuable and desired thing on is gold? Gold! Yellow metal! Why did we decide that it’s trustworthy? Because it’s what? Because it’s soft? Or maybe because its yellow? Ahhh, I know… I know – because women liked it!!!
…Wow!… Wow!… Just wow!… Why? How?… Just how that did happen that we could not find anything more valuable that gold. And why gold? Why not silver for example, or iron – you at least could make decent things off of it?
But let me ask you something? When somebody is in New Orleans right after hurricane Katrina, does he desire gold? Or, God forbid, somebody is gravely ill- does he dream about gold? Or and most important even if somebody has that gold, a lot of it, can he take it with him when he dies? He can have it in his grave, but taking it is not an option, I think.
I really don’t care if our monetary system is based on gold. I don’t care… gold, silver, diamonds or saffron. Whatever… It just… I wish, we put our trust in something more, should I say, holy… and spiritual?! After all our well being depend on it.
- Well , hello there!
- I am not bothering you by any chance, am I?
- See, I don’t want to be noisy. So, is it okay if I sit next to you and just look ?
- O, thanks! That is very kind of you.
- O yes, yes, of course, I will keep quite.
- No, not a word. Just looking.
- Thank you, thank you. Don’t worry about me, I will be fine… thanks.
5 minutes later.
- Sorry to bother you , but may I ask what are you doing?
- Oh! Creating a new creature?! Nice…. Human like?
- Good, good… And intelligent too, I suppose?
- Like us? Wow! That is great!…
- So, where they are going to live?
- Oh, oh, I got it! A new planet, ha?! Thank god…
- Why? Well… for not putting them to the same planet with us…
- What you mean, why?
- Listen, we have only 4 races on your planet and it took us 4,000 years and endless wars , death, and bloodshed to realize that there are no superior races among us..And now you want to put the fifth one there?
- And it’s technically not a human!
- How long, do you think, it will take before we cut them to pieces? Every single last one of them?
- Oh! oh-oh-oh! So you have a too good of opinion about us! Believe me, the moment they show up on the planet the genocide will start. And just a last few of them will end-up in laboratories where scientists will try to reverse engineer them, coping your secrets.
- What you mean we are impossible?
- What you mean “we are Blood thirsty murderers”? Why? -…
- Oh, common! That is the way you created us!
- What you?… OK! OK I WILL SHUT UP! SORRY! SORRY!… Don’t, please !…It hurts! Please… Ahhhhh, please… THANKS!
5 minutes later
- Oh, God! Is this one a female?
- Aha… I see! OK… And the other one is a male, I presume?
- Thank you!…Then may I suggest something?
- Well, you know, from a… “user point of view”…
- NO?… Why?… Don’t you think that my opinion would be a valuable?
-OK… if you insist…
2 minutes later
- O, God! What you doing?
- Please, please! May I say?
- Don’t put them to the same misery you put us.
- Make THIS and THAT BIGGER, A LOT BIGGER.
- Please, I know what I am talking about! And, on the other hand, MAKE THAT and THIS little smaller.
- Please! Please! I know… the balance and stuff. But, I beg, don’t you make the same mistake again.
- Oh no! no! I am sorry! I am sorry! Not a mistake, not a mistake! Just a small… insignificant… minor… miscalculation! Just make that and that equal! Please – let them be happier than us! Please!
- For a love of the good!…
- OK, OK SORRY! I AM SORRY! I WILL KEEP QUITE! NO WORD… OI, NO PLEASE, PLEASE LET ME STAY…. THANKS!
5 minutes later
- O!.. MY!… GOD!
- Are you going to put any brain in there?!
- N-n-n-o-o-o!?????…. How come?!
- You already placed the brain?! Where? I did not see?
- WHERE?!!!!!!!! But..
- O-o-o-o!!!!!!..I am speechless!…
- You know when they say that you have a great sense of humor, there are absolutely right! You have!
- No! No… I am not sarcastic, am just shocked!
- No, I am not going to tell you!
- Because every time I say something, you yell on me! That why!
- No, no! I am not telling!
- Oh-oh-oh! All right! Stop it! All right!
- On one condition, though! No yelling! OK? OK!
- So, We agreed, right? No Yelling! OK?
-So, First time you placed…the “exhaust” next to… “center of pleasure”, and sort of congested them together.
- And now you want to put THE BRAIN… in there?! Do you ever learn?!
-OK! OK! No yelling, please! No yelling!
- Yes, I agree that was a little off!
- Let me go! Stop it! STOP IT!
-That is it! I am leaving!
- Yes! That is right! Leave you alone!
It’s me again. Sorry to bother you with myself every day, but it’s been a while and I have so many things to say. I hope you have a minute. Ok, ok I understand. But, listen, I no need you to seat with me and talk, I will write all of it and you can read it whenever you want…. ok?
Ok, today it is going to be “why can’t we…” day.
So here it goes… why can’t we have cars to be modular? Imagine a small car – just engine, 2 seats and a small trunk, sort of like “smart”, just for two people, but it has an add-on to it, a family compartment. When you need it you snap the car into that family compartment like those “RV”s but not that big, match smaller, more like a passenger part of an SUV , 6-8 seats. The way i see it is the back part of your 2 passenger car, let’s call it an “engine module” is removable.
So, you remove the back wall and then you back- up your car into a “family module”. And that family module does not have a front wall. So, you sort of buckle-up your engine module to family module. The best associative example would be the tubes of canister type vacuum cleaner. Each tube gets into another and locks with spring pin. The same way two parts of the car get inserted into each other and lock with some sort of locking mechanism. Did you get the picture…? I really need to make a drawing of it. But anyway….
The idea is that when you are commuting for work you use s small – 2 passengers capacity “engine module”, and when you are traveling with family – you buckle that “family module” turning your “smart” to “SUV”. Those modules can be different – family module, cargo module, large family module… and others. The only trick is the engine for the “engine module” must be strong enough and smart enough to work sufficient and efficient in any configuration.
Why can’t we have the airplanes with enriched safety devises? I don’t understand something. We are able to drop a robot on the surface of Mars and have it intact. But we can’t have an airplane to have some sort of parachute or parachutes that will deploy in case of emergency and bring the plane down safely from mid air? How come? Maybe it is sounds naive, but I have a big problem with airplane crushes.
The fact that people know that they are crashing and they are going to die is bothering me. Not for myself – but for others. Can you imagine the horror they are going through? You know what is coming to my mind. What if we fly in cocoons? Imagine this – you get into the plane, lie in a cocoon that is made of some strong material, fall asleep and fly to your destination. And it can be a choice, either that of regular chair and fly awake. And that cocoon is so strong that if something happens to the plain and it crushes the cocoon stays intact with undamaged person inside. Sound naive too?
Well in that case just I want to see the aviation changed to make flying safer that it is today. And don’t tell me that it is safer than automotive. When you drive the car you will not get killed only because your engine stopped. You will not get killed if you crush to the other car. Well unless you are driving at 100 m/h…. And if you get killed it will happen fast, in a matter of seconds…. Not like in a plane – where people wait for that impact long enough to realize that they are going to die and to shit their pants off… So how about to make some of your magic and push corporations to be concerned about it and change the way it happens!
Why can’t we start giving up readers for free? To all middle school students. For free. Can you imagine how cool would that be. And stop selling paper books. Just make a date – let’s say 1/1/2015. Stop selling paper books at all. Let Barns-and-Nobles go online only, along with Borders. Print no more paper books and newspapers – save the forest. Save the trees. If I was Google, I would do that – just give up readers for free and open a biggest internet book store ever. Beat all of them. Sounds naive again, ha? Well…
Why can’t we change the way we hunt, fish and cut the forest. I would propose a new policy for all mankind, declaring: if you did not plant it you can’t cut it, and if you did not grow it you can’t kill it or catch it. It means that any fishing and hunting will be forbidden. And if somebody wants to fish he should farm that fish. He should have an ocean, river or lake farm and grow that fish from egg.
And that will put an end on commercial fishing. See I think that we are killing ocean life with our commercial fishing. One thing is when there is a village in Africa and they catch the fish for them self, another thing is a huge ship dragging a net behind and catching everything on his way. And with growth of human populations it will turn to a huge problem for any animal in ocean. So I think that we should stop doing it. And if we want it we should grow it. Same with a forest – we cut them uncontrolled. Or almost uncontrolled. It should not be that way. If we want to bread oxygen tomorrow we have to stop it. And plant only those trees that we planted.
I did not talk to you for quite some time. I was busy. I was busy building the future, and I guess you were busy watching us over. Anyway… The only time I applied to you all these years were in times of short thanks for this and that. Please do not think about me bad. I did not forget or neglect you or your presence. Although, I should admit I bend your rules sometimes. THOSE rules… you know, not man written ones. Should I apologize?
Family is good. Thanks. If may I ask, we would use a little bit of help right now. You know where, right? We not need anything big. Just a punch of luck would by enough. We would do the rest.
Listen, I want to ask you a question. I have this feeling that we are going wrong way. I feel that all the time. I can’t explain how and why that idea comes to my mind but it’s permanent. Generally speaking I think that this entire civilization and progress thing is dead end road. Look at us. We produce computers, which become and obsolete in half a year… every year they come up with new models of everything – cars, sinkers, food, make-up, electronics,… you name it…
I understand that researches and engineers are getting new technologies and that is what pushes everything forward. And it’s a race – better, better, more, more. We race over everything now. We envy what others have and we do what we can to get it too: better car, better cloths, better house, better TV, better work, better toilet paper. But the question is where this race takes us? What is at the end of it? A? What we will become in 10 more years? My kids spend on in internet more time they spend sleeping. I am trying to restrict it – but it’s useless. Their mother, their grandfather and even I, spend a lot of time there. That is the way we live now. You know…
I pay bills online, I shop online, I research staff online, and I communicate online. It’s helpful and easy, and wonderful. And I like it! But at same time, a bigger half of the planet actively denies that way of living. Think about it. Western part of planet lives like that and eastern part of it does everything to stop a penetration of progress and civilization into their countries. They kill for it – in thousands, they make revolutions, they suicides themselves for it. Let me ask you – how match one should be desperate to do that?
They are really afraid of us! Why? What is so dangerous in how we live? I ask that question to myself over and over again – if this way is right way, why they are so against it? Not one or two persons, not a cult of some sort. But the entire countries?! You know what countries I am talking about, right? Do they know something that we don’t? What books they read that we did not? So why?! I don’t know…
Do I want to know? Well, I tell you what. I really want to see one day on the planet without war. One, single day, when no army marches, soldier shouts, airplanes in the sky, no battle ships in the ocean. I want to see, before I die, a one day when all the armies of all countries on the planet are on their bases resting. And I want a news channels on television, radio, newspapers – all the media to acknowledge that day. To say, that you know guys today is a first day on the planet that nobody is on war with nobody. Can you do that? Or should I ask if it is in your plans for any near future? I wonder if over the course of history of human kind there was a day like that at all.
Anyway… How do you do? What is new in the Universe? Why am I asking? See, we are living in such far-far away from anywhere that any news comes to us at least few light years later than it happened. So it’s no news anymore. The other day I was reading that Hubble made pictures of a brand new super nova some 350 millions of light years away. Brand new super nova they say… sorry guys, but it was brand new 350 million years before. Only God knows its condition now…. So do you know? He-he..!