IX - The Hermit
"I returned, and saw under the sun,
that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,
neither yet bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding,
nor yet favor to men of skill;
but time and chance happeneth to them all."
King James Version
This what she had written to him:
One dreamer's holy vision, "Save now!" we declare.
Could anything good come out of this place?
Trend lesson, soul to bear.
Strangers in the world now. So close and yet so far.
Traveling through all the spirals of life
We are not what we are . . .
Each soul guides another . . . the sole intent to shine
The mysteries flow, above and below,
a river of Jordan turned wine.
When I was just a little child, I played my foolish games,
So when do I know when to let the past go?
I have a dream with no names .. .
April knew that it had gotten bad at her house. Looking around at the mess, she had to laugh a bit. Since May's disappearance, Mom cleaved to Natasha, leaving April with more free time than ever. But being in Majestic however, gave her little opportunity for excitement. So mostly, she made phone calls.
The floor was hidden , covered by six inches of important papers,
. . . except for the trash, which isn't so important.
She had boxes of nice clothes with no place to wear them. The project had grown disorderly, files spewed their contents onto the carpet. The trash hadn't been taken out because of stray dogs that shredded it if she took it out the night before and she never got up that early anymore. It was getting warmer these days, but as it was still cool enough not to have developed the summer stench yet but soon. Gnats were forming in the garage. It was becoming less Alice in Wonderland, and more Alice's Restaurant.
She never entertained here, so it hadn't been a problem yet. She loved to be around people, not necessarily having them around her. Her mother and father avoided going inside, not wanting to know. Tight-lipped, they said nothing. Although their minds conjured up frightening scenarios that came nowhere near the truth, one thing was correct. They didn't want to know.
Age crept up on her while parts of her body went the other way. She had more important things to do than sit-ups.
The dishes, for one!
She no longer wore blazers, or tight skirts with slits that went all the way up her thighs. No stocking or high heels, except during sex, which meant she never got to wear them at all. No hairdresser, no manicures, and only the occasional use of make-up left her plain, and in her eyes - boring. She left the French roll at the offices of the Hollywood Reporter. She felt too fat for the Rainbow dress, and it was too hot for the Whiskey a Go-Go boots. Here, the cows wore the leather.
Things had been so different back in Los Angeles.
Friends, only blocks away, became strangers. She caught herself still talking aloud even though the baby wasn't around much. Only these days, she had answers to her endless stream of questions. At night she dedicated herself to the project and by daylight, the carpet had grown another inch.
Her mind was getting better, not any less obsessed but easier and much more fun to live with.
"If I had to have an obsessive-compulsive disorder," which she self-diagnosed from the late night commercials and daytime talk shows, "why couldn't I have had the neat house thing?"
She waded through the paperwork, stashing and trashing with one purpose in mind - to remind herself that the house of lord could get pretty ugly when the maid was away.
"Lord, this house is dirty!"
The living room light, once burnt and now replaced, made her aware of the dust and ashes that covered the four walls with a fine powder. Webs dangled from the corners, waving slightly as the heavy air permeated every room as she worked. In the mirror, she saw that she was as neglected as her home. Solitude had done its worst, which she knew once she looked into the mirror darkly. The new day's sun could no longer dawn over some one else's horizon. She began spring cleaning, clearing the traces of winter from the garden, and packing the blankets away for another year.
As the sun set heralding the coming of night, the last thing she did was change the light bulb on the front porch, which illuminated the path to her front door but none of the forest around her.
If she could have, she would have brought home enough bulbs to light the entire neighborhood. But for now, her neighbors would have to fend for themselves.
Her pale skinned adored the night, even though her sun-streaked hair radiated by day and her friends complained that she was never awake.
I'm not sleeping tonight, so where are they now?
House in order, she was prepared for the days to come.
To look at Chance, one might have never known that he was a millionaire several times over, at least that's what his accounting firm told his business manager, via checks from the record company. At 34, he still looked and dressed like he just finished a baseball practice, except in public. These days, scheduled appearances were fewer and farther between. He had put his trust into a system he barely understood. He hired lawyers to watch over his other lawyers, who represented him.
Oh, God, can I really be letting myself be 'represented' by a lawyer?
These days, he looked like a grown-up, when he dressed for adult games. His fawn-colored hair no longer trailed down his shoulders, to his back. Innocent eyes, once hazel, were now jaded. His broad shoulders were more attuned to designer jackets, and ties, once shunned, now flourished in his collection.
Looking at his weary face's reflection, he tried to remember when he became a man. He tried to recall when he put away his colored pencils, and instead, picked up the ink pen and signed over his life, black and white, somewhere on the dotted line.
His new image was getting old, and for one fleeting moment, he wanted the 'out of the blue' hair color he had as a teen, when alternative was mainstream. But he had to laugh, knowing that he couldn't go to his attorneys office with a mohawk, or the first piece of legal advice he'd retain would be, "Grow up!"
The last time he had gone, someone thought his was one of the names on the front door. It had made his tie a little tighter that day. His briefcase seemed slightly heavier. If it walks like a duck . . .
He remembered a joke that April told one night at the Comedy Store on Sunset:
"You know those phones they have in jail, with the glass walls? I see some of you have been there! So . . . I was talking to my lawyer the other day, but I couldn't hear him, I couldn't understand what he was saying and all I kept thinking was, 'Boy, I can't wait for him to get out!'"
The audience had paused before laughing because they had to think about it to get the irony - an often deadly consequence. By closing time, the crowd would be too drunk to think, too loud to listen. By then the only good material came from the hecklers. However, these faceless audience members secreted away entire routines of the performers, pens flying silently over napkins and notebooks. He watched her act be stolen away the moment she spoke.
Comedy was a cruel world full of petty, jealous people and no amount of sniveling would change that.
That's what copyrights are for!
At least in those countries that recognize this protection.
But for the rest of the world, bootlegging was a common practice. Even he bought his own album for two American dollars in Indonesia. The cover art was different and on the insert, someone had put the words from each song. They weren't necessarily the right words, but they were words.
His next release contained not only the lyrics, but also the inscription, "If you're going to steal from me and quote me, at least get the words right!"
This had inspired him to write a song, using the same idea translated into as many languages he could get. Half-finished, it remained sealed in darkness between two sheets of notebook paper, forever filed in the ever increasing to-be-done category.
Back then, he watched her from the dark recesses surrounding the naked stage, where the dreams of young hopefuls died regularly. No longer did she send the tickets, the times and dates of her performances, and no longer did she appear unannounced at his. She just exited stage left one night and slipped away.
Just the thought of her slipping away caused him to reach for the phone. No one was home.
"The machine here. That's it! No TV, no money, no family jewels, antiques, not even a penny jar. Just me, the answering machine . . . and my answer is a very definite maybe!"
He listened to her outgoing message, like always, but this time, the song on the radio was one that he knew she liked. Or she had back then . . . With a deep breath, Chance increased the volume and put the receiver to the stereo. He grinned like a little kid, realizing that how long it had been since he prank-called someone.
She'll get a kick out of that!
She came back inside, feeling good about the day. April cleansed the world around her and it made a difference. As a Virgo, she had a hard time with some tasks. If she couldn't do it perfectly, she wouldn't do it at all. Therefore, until today, the counters were clean but the closets were a nightmare. Today, though, she made a difference.
An hour later, she noticed the blinking light on the machine. She didn't listen to it for another hour. By then, the sun was long gone.
"Wow, I didn't even hear the phone ring!"
When the message started, she could hear the faint music in the background. At first, she didn't recognize it. Then it got loud.
. . . you will know, Synchronicity. If you act, as you think, the missing link. Her forehead furrowed, she was baffled. Listening to it again, she still couldn't figure out who left such a strange message. She popped the tape out of the machine, put in a new one and put the song away. She'd have to think about that one later, figuring that someone from work was jacking with her.
By midnight, she had the place arranged. It improved her mood considerably. The voice on the radio said that we were going to go back a few years for this next song. Then the airwaves resonated, "With one breath, with one thought, you will know synchronicity . . ."
She lit a candle, and sat back to think. Tomorrow, she believed she would hear back from the Majestic city council on her permit request, which would allow her to hold this size event in the town's only stadium, the Colosseum. The building held almost twenty-five thousand people. If the proposal was approved and the permit issued, she could start with the media campaign.
She wanted to be optimistic but . . . as a believer in Fate, she dubbed herself a Fate-alist.
"What is the most important time of your life?"
She knew it was time to finish what she started.
Instead of dwelling on it, she decided to re-read her song. She wrote it halfway through that first tour, sent it to some place in Philadelphia, at the venue itself, assuming that someone would get and deliver it to him. She did that for the rest of Momentary Magic. By the second tour, Chance had stopped printing the dates.
The letters scared him
She figured that it had scared him, anyway. It wasn't easy reading material. Once she began to look into the symbolic side of the relationship, she began to see signs of meanings that couldn't have been possible. The big picture played itself out before her very eyes, and became clearer each time she looked.
It scared her, too.
The light at the end was okay. It was the tunnel she feared.
She tried to remember where she came from, what her visions had been. April had to know why she carried with her the baggage of a minor infatuation. Her initiation began in the Horoscope section, next to the funny pages. Forces beyond her control guided her receptive mind until she was wishing upon a star.
Star Light, star bright . . . first star I see tonight . . .
Except for the sun, of course . . .
Virgo, sign of the Virgin, became her first neurotic impression, the naked virgin. Erotic. She realized why she grew up thinking that she was reincarnation of the Virgin Mary. Weekly church services had seen to that. Life after death, life after life. The story of Jesus made her cry, and those movies . . .
Mary, merry, marry . . . it stuck in her head. And she told no one. I would die to save the world. Mary had a little Lamb . . . These thoughts plagued her.
Discovering later that she was a slut, the little virgin (technically) decided to re-invent her previous incarnation identity as Mary of Magdalene. Her standards were more attainable. But all she learned from the old movies was that popular opinion was debatable. They. . . could be wrong.
. . . they say there is strangeness too dangerous
in the theaters and bookstore shelves.
And those who know what's best for us,
must rise and save us from our selves!
As she delved into the occult side of life, she noticed even more. That's when the dragon began to stir in its sleep. She had opened the gateway to prophesy, and the countdown sped up. Innocently browsing the oracle, she pinpointed the one. Or so she thought.
Chance was born in April, that was the first clue. After that, she let her fantasy play itself across the pages of her journal. Only recently had she ever shared this information, and then it had been with him. She copied the pages into the one she sent. She tried her best to verbalize the ideas therein, but her mind couldn't translate exactly what it said to her. He'll just have to try to understand it for himself.
Chance was Aries! That made him the Ram. The Lamb. It had become clear to her by then that the Bible seemed to follow the ages of the astrology. By the time it got to Aries, Christianity emerged. Mary had a little Lamb.
Then came Madonna, which didn't have much to do with it but she liked to sing 'like a Virgo' when asked, "What's your sign?"
"It's a sign of the times."
The way she saw it, she was at the end of times, or that's what they say, whoever 'they' are. She might be seeing the end and yet no one else seemed to notice. Waiting for years, April said nothing but wrote it all down. The dragon, now awake, waited for her to surface. She knew who she believed to be the one.. It didn't.
The symbol is not the reality . . . the idol mind is the Devil's workshop.
"Ignorance is bliss!"
. . . wisdom of Solomon . . .
Solo, I was so low until I spread my wings and learned to fly.
. . . but I got nowhere to fly to . . .