The Man Behind the Conviction II

The Man Behind the Conviction II

I don’t talk about him much, mainly because I wouldn’t know what to say. Oh, the surface is easy. Tall, blond, muscular in a wiry kind of way. Blue eyes that make you want to sink into them again and again. Deeper and deeper. The entity who showed up at the edge of the abyss, reaching deep inside to grab you by the wrist and pull you out. The only one who could drag you out of that bottomless pit, the savior of your soul. That cocky walk and glint in his eyes, a little bit of danger, a little come hither, and definitely the promise of boundless illicit fun. Until the party ended, and he moved on to the next one.

And that fearless demeanor and smile. Nothing scared him, except the thing that got him in the end, the thing that some said had been sent by God. As retribution for how he had lived his life. The countless times he’d been in prison (I counted five, but I could have messed up), always coming out with a renewed zest of life. Always curious, always eager to know more. Trapped by his environment and the mentality that went with it. Why even bother? It’s better never to try, less disappointment that way. I had spent enough time around it to recognize it for the poison that it was, but I’d gotten out well before him. He wasn’t like that at all. When I told him something, he listened before pointing things out. The little things I had missed in my enthusiasm. But never to dissuade or hurt. Just to make sure I knew what was what. That I’d have all the facts in before he sent me on my way to explore the World. Symbolically speaking, of course. He didn’t have any power to keep me or send me anywhere. He wasn’t my father, not even my guardian.

People don’t understand when I tell them of the soul. Most people don’t. They see the surface, the years spent in prison, the racketeering, the cars and the drugs. In our home that was code for The Life. He let me have glimpses of it, always keeping watch. His voice when he told me at his party that the previous night someone had spiked his drink at a club. I knew he was telling me to be careful without betraying his colleagues, that he couldn’t always be around. The way he said, “she doesn’t take any,” when I walked in on one of his friends as he was doing lines in the kitchen, and he offered me drugs. I said, “no thank you,” at the same time. We didn’t even look at each other, there was no need to. He’d always been the one who understood what was going on in my head, and my heart. We had that soul connection down to an art form, always knowing where the other was, always knowing without the shadow of a doubt where the other one was. He found me when I lost track of where he was in time and space, because like him I was always and forever moving around. Found me when my soul needed him the most. Took me under his wing like the wounded bird that I was, imparted some last words of wisdom before casting me out.

I didn’t understand at the time, or rather, I didn’t want to. I was so used to having him in my life, my protector who never asked for anything in return, except that I don’t tell anyone what I had seen, or how kind he was. The man who gave me a voice when everyone around me was trying to drown mine out. The friend who believed in me and pushed me on. I was a child when I met him, mentally, though I’d seen a lot. Compared to him though I was a babe in the proverbial woods around. But after a few years of heartache and pain I realized what he’d done. Why he had cast me out. He wanted me to be strong, live for myself, do things because I wanted to, not because someone expected them of me. Be the person I’d become when we’d met again in this life, standing up for myself, mouthing off when things weren’t right, screw the place you’d been assigned and grab your rights. He gave me strength when he was alive, and he was by my side. And so he will continue to do from deep within my heart.

The Man Behind the Conviction I

There’s four of them, the same number that surrounded the High Priest of the Aztecs when he committed the ultimate sacrifice to the gods. But there are no people’s hearts being ripped out this time. Except, there are. Oh not in the straightforward way of the Aztecs, their tactic was more subtle. They appealed to the nation’s hearts, not even asking for / holding them at ransom. Their goal was more intricate, some might call it more subtle. They wanted hearts to feed off, harness the energy of the people. So they could sustain their lives. 

Sounds like a conspiracy theory, doesn’t it? But think of it, look at it symbolically. They need people’s emotions to sustain them. And they fuel their fire through anger, which breeds hatred (or is it the other way around?), which all came from fear. And the more you are steeped in your anger, the more power you give them. Yes, I know that it’s basic, but her me out, bear with me. I’m setting the scene. Or rather, I’m bringing the very obvious to the forefront, because I want to show what it means to me, this questioning who they are. Not just the four men, but the people around them, behind them, with them. The four men (one barely out of the age of being a boy) merely represent the leader(s), the masses, that living, heaving entity that harnesses anger and hatred and fear and acts as one body, to forward the cause of their leader. 

They’re not really evil, and they were chosen well, so well. There’s something for everyone, through the ages. From the time you start work, until the day you retire. Something for everyone, every age group, every type. Friends of the people and foes alike. Isn’t that funny, just as an aside, how those that feed off anger, and hatred, and fear call you an enemy of the people if you call out their foibles. But that’s how the wheel turns these days, spins really. You’re either on the side of pure light or utter darkness. 

And here’s the really weird thing, the one we always see cited as the ‘banality of evil,’ that you don’t feel as being true until you’ve experienced it. They’re so normal, even the bored, jaded one who comes from that really good family and commands all respect. Because my people can preach about equality as much as they like, when it comes down to it, we still kiss up to the aristocrat, or the one closest to the nobility that reminds us of the old kings, when we were chosen to stand side by side with the emperor. And if there’s one thing we know how to do to perfection, it’s how to kiss ass without even the slightest hint of shame. I see we, because despite differences, I’m still part of the fabric. I still react to sadness the same way as the entire nation (or enough people to make that statement valid), I still understand some things on a very deep level the way only someone who’s part of that nation would, and if I’m honest, could. I say all that and feel it, and yet I reject most of the things that are new. 

The revered aristocrat isn’t my favorite. In fact, I can’t stand him. I know his type, know his type well. Full of themselves, living off borrowed glory, yet entitled just the same. I like the one in the middle, because that’s where I tend to be these days, in terms of age. I was the middle child growing up, though there were two above and one below, but the oldest was from another mother, so maybe he didn’t really count, though we loved him a lot. And he was older, so already out of the house. But like I said, the middle is my go-to, and so I naturally gravitated to that with the four men. He’s also someone who worked in my field, so even more of a reason to be focused on him. But here’s the part I don’t get, it’s a field that calls for celebration and being open, of reacting and while doing so always saying yes. It’s a field in which everything is valid, in which you twist things this way and that to see what will happen. And everyone is a part of the team. There is no hierarchy, because without the presence of the most invisible cog in the wheel, there is nothing, no show to be done, emptiness. But he sits there, every night spouting the slogans, inciting the masses, and he seems nice, even kind. I don’t get people like that. What do they do with their kindness when those words come tumbling out of their mouths? How do they select upon whom to bestow that kindness? 

The oldest and the youngest I understand. The host is the elder, he sets the tone. It’s his job. Though even he seems kind and even benign, though again there’s the question, to whom? But he is the host, that is his job. Like an actor, just playing a part, though that’s no excuse. At his age and in this stage of his life, he’s seen regime changes coming. And I know his age group, they’re my relatives who survived. And they act the same way: keep your head down, play along, just survive. But the words sound convincing, and perhaps he has embodied all those slogans and sermons to the point of no return. 

And I totally get the youngest. I know what it’s like to be frustrated and not have my voice heard, to be overlooked and talked down to. We all do. It starts in school when we’re the youngest, and moves on through life, the sudden silences when the adults realize you’re in the room, the same silence the older kids use in school, when you know they’ve been somewhere cool, did something that was most likely forbidden. So when you’re given a voice, after all this time being silenced, you want to speak up. And you’ll amp it up to fit in, whatever that elusive it means, to them, to you, to everyone. But the one in the middle, I really don’t get him. 

After the Rain

Death is a deep blue hue and smells like the first dew as the morning sun announces His presence after a night filled with rain. It is the color you remember of the one and only person you ever loved, as he last lay eyes on you, alternating between pleas and the knowledge of the deepest betrayal. Death is the memory that follows you throughout each and every life after you have so cruelly betrayed the only man who ever helped you, a thankless task rewarded by the most arduous, treacherous pain. Death is beyond forever, it is reborn forever and ever. Death is the only certain in an existence we wish to forever contain. Life may be given, but death will never get away. Death is the ultimate truth, and I search for it every minute of every day. Death is the gift that I gave you, out of eternal love. 

Cancer Girl III – Contemplation

It’s strange at times, how in the face of what could easily be the biggest tragedy that had ever happened on a personal level, the one thing I focused on was the closing of my favorite café. It was a bar really, but also a restaurant, but I always referred to it as my own little café. Because I always loved cafés, they were cozy places, friendly places. And the table I loved to sit at when I was there, was just that. The owners had become close friends, so they let me stay way beyond times most guests would stay. It was the perfect arrangement. 

I wasn’t thrilled about the party being in my favorite place, but I said nothing, because I knew how important it was for them. The boyfriend and the one who had planned it, even though I’d never seen her and Cancer Girl being overly close. If truth be told, it was beyond a horrible nickname. But when we’d overheard someone use it on a trip to the bathroom (in a conversation we probably shouldn’t have overheard), the name lodged itself firmly into our brain, no pun intended. That was a horrible crack, and one I really shouldn’t have made. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for her when she found out. What is it like to have something growing inside of your head? Can you feel it as a lump? Or do you just know that it’s there because of what it makes you do? Or not do. We were all there when she said that she had problems with her left arm. And we all reassured her, not to be nice, but because even in our wildest imagination that was not an assumption we would have made. Surely it was tennis elbow someone said. We left it at that. 

And now we are here, in what used to be my favorite little café, which was neither very little, nor was it an actual café. We had celebrated a friend’s birthday, knowing full well it was the last she’d ever have. And we all pretended like we didn’t know it would happen, sooner than later in fact. Is t wrong that I’m more upset about losing my favorite place, than about her having her eyes closed forever? 

They closed the place down a few weeks after that party we had. I know those two are unrelated, but in my mind they equal the same, and that bugs me. It bugs me because I cared more for the place than I cared for a person I barely even knew. And then it bugs me for feeling this way. 

One event, three different account, a triptych. Song: Vaya Con Dios – I sold my soul to the devil

Cancer Girl II – Manifestation

That night when we all found out she was dying (some of us knew / found out beforehand) I received a valuable key to my past. I really did. Which seems callous to say, but we weren’t ever really that close. Sure, it was tragic what happened, really sad. But it wasn’t something any of us could help. It is what it is, people love to say, and while I really and truly hate that saying, there really is a kernel of truth to that. 

Phyllis pulled me aside on the steps. They were inside, celebrating cancer girl, though why they would do that I’ll never know. She was on her way out, we all knew that, from the country and from this earth. Why even pretend like there’s something to celebrate? Sure, it’s to preserve a sense of normalcy, one last get- together. But in all honesty, what’s the use of that? Everyone’s just trying to pretend like they’re happy, like they’re having a blast, like nothing is really happening. It’s so fucking fake, slitting your wrists is way better. We know she’s dying, She definitely knows that she’s dying, and still we’re all acting out this incredibly stupid charade. Where we pretend it’s all fine and Dandy. 

The ancients were much more honest about that. They fattened their victims up before they sliced them open and threw them into the fire or the abyss. One year before they were offered up like the prize that they were. Sure, it was brutal, but it was honest. You want to know how I know About this? It’s because I was there. 

That’s right, I was there. It was another place and another Time – it sure as hell wasn’t as cold as what we were experiencing where we are now every summer – and I remembered on the day of the party of that wretched girl. 

It was Phyllis who gave me the means to go there. Phyllis, who knew exactly how I felt, because I’m guessing she felt the same. Phyllis had traveled to interesting places, where they prepared plants to better connect you to the earth. And she brought something back. Despite all the repercussions that entailed. Oh, I’m not talking about the obvious ones, when you’ve traveled as much as Phyllis and I have, you learn a thing or two, I mean the so-called spiritual repercussions. I always scoffed at that, and at the supposed closeness you’re meant to feel to the earth, so I told phyllis I’d try that shit when I really despaired at the human race. 

I wasn’t that tight with phyllis, she wasn’t a close friend, but we were from the same region back home, so that kind of tied us together. And she knew how to party, or rather, when the party was called for. So while they were all forcefully laughing and chatting, like the birthday girl hadn’t already crossed the threshold of Death, Phyllis’ and my eyes met over someone’s head, and she nodded towards the side entrance. We both got up at the same time and headed that way. No one took any notice of our chairs scraping across the linoleum floor. 

It wasn’t a pill, it was a plant. Part of a plant. An ordinary leaf I was sure she’d plucked on her way to the Celebration, so when she asked if I wanted to take it, I was sure she was messing with me. My eyes were tiny slits, barely visible, as I lit up a cigarette, even as she taunted me that I’d never dare and I accepted. 

“Munch the leaves slowly,” she said. “Let them dissolve in your mouth.”

She didn’t ask me for money. She said my soul was enough, at which I laughed. Phyllis was what we kindly referred to as an old hag. Impossible to tell her age, even though I’d been around people like her all my life. She was what my mother’s people had warned us kids against. That if we talked to strangers, they might be nice, and they might be asking for help, but they could just as easily convince us to give them our souls, and we wouldn’t even know it. Phyllis being from where I was and of the same background, I knew why she was making a joke of that. It was one of the reasons why we’d escaped. Old people, steeped in superstition, exerting control over others under the guise of passing on our ancestors’ myths and legends. When you have no money, and no real standing in the community, fear is all that is left. 

They tasted like nothing, those leaves I was munching, even as I let them dissolve slowly in my mouth, like she’d instructed. Inside they were still partying, talking, pretending. Theirs wasn’t a culture of being constantly outside when the sun was warm and the weather was hot. Summer nights most of us barely saw the insides of our apartments, except when we quickly ran inside because we got thirsty, or we had to pee. Most of us learned to hold it in, and try and wheedle a drink out of someone when our throats became really parched. Parents needed privacy, too, in those long summer days that offset the winter with the scorching sun we all craved when the snow got too much and everything around you was frozen solid. Their wrath wasn’t worth the reward of the immediate relief of ice water. 

I used to love those long summers when I was a kid. Phyllis and I hadn’t met then – which wasn’t at all strange in a city that housed more people than most countries had citizens – but I knew what her childhood was like, how she’d craved those same sprinklers I danced under, how she’d cowered from the voices of her parents. How no one really feared that anything bad would happen to us because the old ladies whose husbands and lovers had died, watched us from their own stoops, and we knew better than to run to our parents crying when they raised their voices, or sometimes even their hands. As long as we didn’t talk to the old crones who never stepped off the sidewalk and asked us to help them – while promising us the world in return – we remained safe. I loved how Phyllis had made that part of our old lives the one thing she’d brought over with her. People need their stories and legends, especially when they’re far away from those who tell them, and know what they say. 

The people inside knew none of that. They worshipped their idols with cans of beer and fists in the air. But the dancing was the same, wild, manic, deliberate. I half wondered why they were getting up to do it in there, a crowded bar, before remembering that this was the whole point. I wanted to look at Phyllis so I could roll my eyes at her, but my neck wouldn’t obey me, instead I was transfixed by the scene taking place inside. The few men who’d come to celebrate Cancer Girl (I’d overheard someone say it, and while it was a horrible nickname, it was the most honest thing about their interaction with her), had now gathered around something in the middle of the room and were dancing. A person as it turned out, when I caught a glimpse through the dancing masses, a man. Lying on an altar. Kept in place by four others, while their leader chanted. Watching them carry on like that, I could understand why they were so drawn to the music they listened to, which was all growls and wailing. The same lament the woman holding the long obsidian knife would emit from her lips after she had plunged it into the chest of the man held down by the four men at his side. Before she offered his heart to the leader. 

It would take her a while to lament, and she would not do it in front of them – for whom she had sacrificed the only man she had ever cared for with all her heart and soul. She would wait until the ceremony ended – her heart bleeding with his every second – though her bloodshed was not as visible as his – when all the men and their leader had returned to their beds. And in the darkness she would cry alone for the love that was taken away from her, the love she could never have. In her anguish she silently howled at the moon, begging him to help her forget, offering her soul to the god of darkness if he could help her forget. And the god answered, and told her he would help her forget throughout lifetimes until the day he would send a messenger to give him her soul. 

It hit me then, all those stories our elders had told us. The old crones who never stepped off the sidewalk and asked us for help. That was how Phyllis and I had met. When we’d all been together for the first time, and she asked me when we’d been on that summer terrace if I knew where the bathroom was, where she might wash her hands. I never did see her go inside that day. Such an easy question, and that’s when I got it. They didn’t take your soul right away, they asked for your help and then waited. She’d looked like the old crone she was then, but now she was beautiful, her long hair bouncing against her shoulders and then her waist. I could see it grow longer, thicker right there in front of my eyes, as it struck me. They didn’t play that kind of music in that particular bar. And they never had. 

Those men I’d seen dancing, they were not ours. They were her faithfuls, come to take what her master had told me one day he would make me remember. On the day he would come for what I had promised him in my dismay. 

Stories of love and darkness – this is a hashtag. 

Cancer Girl I – Celebration

Today I took a long walk and ended up in a far away neighborhood. More in terms of a state of mind than in terms of distance. I thought I was done with those times, but as with all things we try to suppress and never speak of again, they tend to find us. We all know this. We just never listen.  It’s actually really quite sad. Life tends to do this as well. 

She was this girl in our crowd, someone I hung with, and at times we connected, but never really that deeply. She was here for her job, which she’d applied to because of Him. That was the time when all girls were coming over to meet Him, an individual Him for each and everyone of them, because quite frankly there were so many to choose from. Local bands had exploded on the world scene, and no one really knew why, or could tell you how long it would last. There was Scrawny, and Ready for Brawl, and Ready to Party, and Jailbird, and Biker. And there was Forest Troll, Straight From the Legends, and Swamp Thing. They all came from all corners of the world, to meet them, to see them, carry their offspring, and do whatever they thought could be done with their individual Him. They could have argued among themselves as to who had been first in putting our little corner of the world on the map, but there were enough fans for all of them, so the last thing any of them thought of was to argue it out over some beers. They all knew the same drug dealer (you read that right, one, because our little corner of the world really is that small), they all got more girls than they could handle, money kept rolling in to fuel their lifestyle, and there was booze everywhere. As long as the alcohol kept flowing, the pills and powder kept coming, and the girls willingly spread their legs, the Hims were happy, as were the other members of their bands, and the roadies were even happier. Most of them, quite frankly, didn’t stand a prayer’s chance in hell when it came to regular girls, and everyone, their dog, and their brother was aware of those perks. 

She wasn’t like that, but that’s what they all say. She just wanted to see Him, get to know him, I guess, Maybe exchange one or two kind words. I never asked her when we talked about it, when she talked, so a lot of the more subtle things were left unheard. She loved Him, and wanted to meet Him more than she’d ever wanted anything else, and that was why she had looked for jobs that would lead her to His country and His part of the world. I’ll spare you the suspense, she never made it. It wasn’t meant to happen. Ever.

What was meant to happen was the tumor in her brain that had most likely been growing for quite a long time, but made Its presence known after the last night we were all together. We came together after that to celebrate her on her birthday – an idea I cooked up and for the execution of which I enlisted her boyfriend, a cheap knock-off of her Him – but it wasn’t the same since some of us had already left, and by then we already knew. But that night, the last night we were all together, she told me that she hadn’t been able to move her left hand. We were in a club which may or may not have been frequented by her Him or His friends, but none of us knew that. I’m not even sure how we ended up there. Probably some concert she wanted to see in hopes of running into the one she’d wanted to run into for the better part of her life. He wasn’t there, but It was. Though we didn’t know that, other than her saying she was maybe the slightest bit worried about the stiffness and pain in her left hand. 

I tried to joke with her that night, when I saw her online and it was really late. She’d always teased me about it, questioned my ability of staying sane when I was up all night, while she went to bed early, like a good girl. But it was true that she worked, and me, I was a bum who drank all night and engaged in flights of fancy I knew could never come true. I understood each and every girl when she dreamed of being with her own individual Him, and most of all I understood each of those girls’ heartbreak when that dream shattered like delicate objects during an earthquake. It made me wonder, seeing her on social media that night, and so I sent her a light, breezy, very jokey message. It was her father who answered, a man I’d never met, and who scared me when he told me who he was and then immediately added that she was in the hospital. That was the night the tumor came into our lives. 

They released her soon after and laid out their plan, treatment and medication, all of which caused her to gain an unsightly amount of weight, and her once beautifully thick hair was now holding onto the scalp of her head for dear life, with the aid of a bandana. The others – all from the same country as her, except for her boyfriend, who was local and myself – had gladly arrived for the surprise birthday party we’d quickly thrown together. I chose the venue myself, because although I didn’t know her individual Him, I knew there was a chance he’d show up there, because I was privy to knowledge she didn’t have (nor did any of the other fans who’d become her friends later), and it really was one of his favorite places. That was truly the last time we were all together. Her parents came back to take her with them soon after, even though she wanted to stay, and I knew how heartbroken she was about this, because I felt the same way. But the sick and the dying don’t get much of a say in that matter, especially not when those holding the proverbial strings are under the impression that they can save those they love, and limerence is a state in which the one feeling it never has a say. 

They took her back to her country. The party was her swan song. And I knew she was miserable and alone, because of how much she had loved them, her individual Him and the boyfriend who’d broken up with her when she came back from the hospital after her first stay. She told me she had released him from the promise they had made to each other after her first stay in the hospital, because it wasn’t fair to him, and she could already see him cracking under the pressure. I’m not sure what to make of that, if you truly love somebody, isn’t your wish to stay with them no matter what happens? Ease their pain? Isn’t that the whole point of being together? In sickness and in health, ‘til death, and not some unwisely spoken words, tears you apart? All I know is that I never would have left her! I would have been right there by her bedside, holding her hand, easing her pain even as she was drawing her final breath. But her love was never meant for another girl. 

Monk’s Point

The sounds of my building are more present than those coming off the street, birds chirping, cars zipping by one street over, intermingling with municipal busses, en route for the highway. The people who live here in these parts want access to the city, and while some bike, there is only one tram, although there are several busses leading you into the city proper, where there is life.

I used to live there once upon a time, amid the hustle and bustle. The forest was merely a temporary choice which turned permanent. I am stuck here, surrounded by buildings I can count off on one hand, with the forest behind me. If my window faced any other way, that’s what I’d be seeing. The forest, some people walking, and on some occasions even some kids playing in the makeshift playground close to the path. At night, you can see the hares running to and forth. Throughout random times of the day, mainly at evening meal – which here they partake of at 5pm – you can see squirrels running across the street in a hurried attempt to jump on their favorite trees. It is an illusive idyl advertised on all platforms hoping to attract visitors, a lone place in the middle of nowhere, much like the country likes to project itself, a sense of blissful isolation, where loneliness kills only deep inside your soul but never in a visible way. 

They named the area after the monks living on the other side of the water, in a completely different land. Their eyes couldn’t see that far, and telescopes would have gone against their perception and understanding of the world. So they used their imagination fueled by tales of Eden and a memory of the lands they had sailed past before building their permanent place to stay. A memory which, like their lives and their status, was in a steady process of fading. The monks toiled the land, preached the Word and, when contemplating God’s Eternal Glory, looked to the North, from whence another legend – lesser known but perceived to be True by the monks  – said they came. The monks knew secrets no one else did, and they kept them carefully, guarding them with their lives. When they felt people would be receptive, they let out little bits and pieces here and there, allowing for people to set their own narrative, leading them towards the Truth, when the people’s own musings went astray. Technically, as they were quick to point out, theirs wasn’t really a legend, but people’s minds were not built to understand the true glory of His word, and so it had to be pre-dosed, through an increment of stories told over time and in different places. The monks held those secrets, sharing them with those they deemed worthy. 

The interpretation had failed, because what had seeped through the general population to the lands up North were false tales, adapted by the priests who told them, based on writings and a language or two they could not read. Things had been misunderstood in the process of translation, re-interpreted, albeit in a wilfully wrong way. God’s chosen people were not those who claimed that title. How could they be when God’s chosen people could not – by virtue of their status – be enslaved. That tale had been concocted by trickery, to get something out of those who had been in those lands where the purported savior had been born. That in itself was a lie, a lie they had detected when some of their brethren went to what was touted as the Holy Land to defend the Good Faith, and while there also investigated. What they had uncovered was shocking to the extreme, and pure evil in its deviousness.

For the Savior had not been born there in that land. No, he came from the True Land, the Land Up North from whence the real Chosen Ones came. Did he not have fair skin, light hair, and blue eyes to prove that fact?! Those who now claimed to be the chosen had laid claim to Him so as to sow discord and to pervert a most noble fact. There was indeed a Chosen People, but they were not those whom their writings – wrongly called Scripture – claimed. There was only one Chosen Race, all powerful, mighty, a race that would never, under any circumstances allow for itself to be enslaved.

That alone was proof of their status. Those who claimed that status wrongly had been punished justly and dealt with by the True Master Race, but like the crawling rodents they were they had thwarted those attempts and had – once again – twisted the narrative of a True Tale. It was their way, the way of the usurper trying to reach heights by trickery, using lies and deceit to get their way. But the time of the Master Race would come, they were rising once again, and the monks themselves had undertaken the unthankful task of paving that way. 

Of Smugglers, Murderers, and Other Assorted Crime Barons

He was a murderer some say. Others praise him and his men to the heavens, for his politics, and what he did for his country. Who is to say who is right and who’s wrong. The man did some good deeds apparently and others were bad. I really don’t know where the nuances are, who’s right and who’s wrong. Certain parts of the world claim him a hero. Others condemn the man. Who am I to say what is right and what’s wrong. I sat with a murderer, too, once, several times, not just one murderer either. Drove in his car. I didn’t know he was a murderer then. He was just a friend of a friend. I figured he wasn’t quite as innocent as I’d make him out to be when I spoke of him to my friends. That’s actually true for both of them. And they were friends. Childhood friends. State institutions can really do a number on you, no matter how long or short your stay. But I didn’t know that then, I knew nothing of these two, just that they were friends, and also friends of a good friend of mine. 

When you grow up with them, even if you don’t participate, you still become a part of their world. My friend knew that. And he also knew how curious I was, how excited by something I’d never experienced, especially if it was part of a friend’s world. Because it was new, it was exciting, it was a part of my friend. It could have been anything really. If my friend had been a stable boy, I would have been into horses. If he’d been into cultivating the land away from everyone else, I would have found that fascinating as well. I am easily drawn into things. That’s simply who and what I am. My friend knew that, and so he exposed me to it in as controlled a way as he possibly could. I’d sit with them, drink with them, even go places with them. All while he was either there or right after he’d introduced me to his friends. 

They didn’t touch me or do anything weird out of respect. Because he was their friend, but also because they feared him. He was unpredictable, my friend. I knew what he was driving across the border, and it was anything they could turn a profit on. That alone already made him brave in my eyes. He’d been to prison, too. Did his time with his head down, fought whom he had to fight, and just took it day by day. When people asked him where he’d learned the language we spoke, he usually told them he’d lived there. Which was true. Small difference that he couldn’t come and go as he pleased, for a certain time. He was honest, he was decent, and he was brave. And most importantly of all, he was the most unpredictable person even they had ever seen. The guy who was joking and laughing around could just as suddenly start throwing knives all around you, as though you were in that – by now ancient – Replay circus commercial. When he told his friend to take me to the party they were all going to, his friend obeyed, and even made friendly conversation, made sure I had a good time at the party and had others stay away by claiming I was his future wife. When I refuted his statement he merely laughed. Even when my friend came, he was still there by my side. We never exchanged phone numbers, or any details, I don’t even think we said good bye properly. But for that summer I spent among them, every time we’d run into each other (always with my friend around), he’d say hi and we’d exchange a few words. 

The second one asked me to marry him at the same party where the first one had never left my side. I was in between them, never realizing they were the bestest of friends. State institutions may be hell, but when a friendship is made, that bond lasts a lifetime. I didn’t know where and how they’d met, because I never asked. They were all friends, I was safe, I knew what they did in a general way. That was enough. I said the first one never left, but he did go to the bar to buy drinks. At which point his friend – whom I’d met a few times previously – turned to me and made light conversation for a few seconds. And then popped the question. In my innocence I asked him if he was an idiot, since we were friends. Not batting an eyelash, or raising his voice, he explained calmly that this was precisely why he was asking, adding that if he couldn’t get married to a foreigner, he’d have to go to prison again. I told him I couldn’t do it, and we left it at that. I never told my friend, the second one never mentioned it again, and I heard much later that he had indeed ended up incarcerated after that party. It made me feel guilty, still does to this day. 

He pinged on my radar many years later. He and his friend, the one who’d taken me to the party in his car and had never left my side except when he’d gotten me a drink, who’d claimed me as his future wife while his friend popped the question right there in my ear. I was in a whole other place, mentally and physically, although if I’m perfectly honest, mentally I was back in that city, at that party, at all the other places we’d been to with my friend, the two others, and countless people. It’s true, they were all going to prison or waiting to be told they were headed off there, but they were still happy times, carefree times. Times in which a hooker going out for a smoke quickly came back to alert the group that the place we were in was surrounded by cop cars, and the one who’d asked for my hand in marriage merely shrugged it off by saying, “that’s just my cavalcade.”

My nostalgia for those times and that place led me to a search on the internet, and I found article upon article on what had (allegedly) happened then in that time and place, which now seemed almost like another lifetime. The one who had claimed me as his wife had married a sweet innocent girl, only four years younger than myself. It happened a few months after I left. But he had not settled down. Instead he’d gone on an assassination spree, either staffing it out, or taking the task upon himself. The one who had asked for my hand in marriage had of course been a part of this as well, accused of masterminding a terror attack that took the lives of four innocent men, while the target walked away scot free. 

I actually remembered that day, I was still there in that magical city where it all happened. It was a few years after the proposal, and I was at his place, talking to his girlfirend. She’d pulled me in allmost before I could knock. Asked me if I’d been in the area (the bomb had gone off close to where we lived), and when I said no, she told me they had been there, said how mad she was that their newly bought and super expensive SUV had been slightly damaged, and how inconvenient and expensive it was to get it fixed. To this day I can’t tell you if I was surprised at her reaction, or if I interpreted it as her being in denial of what had really happened. Later, much later, the papers and media all said that they had both been there, her and her boyfriend, and how him having positioned himself and his girlfriend right there, was suspicious but also intelligent. 

Even all these years later, I remembered being in their apartment hearing her tell me what had happened, before the media got wind of it. But to this very day I can’t remember how I felt, what my thoughts were. The same way I still can’t remember when my friend guided my hand towards his belt while we were dancing, and told me – as I was touching the pistol nestled in its holster – that he was having problems with a rival gang. So many years and I still can’t remember if the pistol felt hot or cold to my touch. Even as I realized this was my friend’s way of telling me that he’d taken precautionary measures to keep himself and those close to him safe. 

They were smugglers and extortionists, and some even murderers. But they all made me feel safe in their own way. And when I was reading all those articles later, what shocked me was not that they had killed and had murdered. What shocked me was their political orientation, the fact that they were all – except for my friend – rightwing, nationalist fanatics.

The Court Jester Speaks of the King

The Court Jester, so perceived wisdom goes, is the only one who can speak directly to the King and tell Him what’s what. The Court Jester therefore became His trusted companion, a true friend who will always cheer Him up. The only one truly and really safe from being beheaded or exposed to any other method of certain death. The Court Jester lives for the King and is therefore privy to His every mood. It is a life of great privilege, and relative safety, for disguised by humor even the worst criticism goes. It is a life in which the Court Jester can easily lose him or herself. When every breath and gesture is meant for the King, it is easy to forget to breathe for oneself. 

I know, because I am that Jester. In the kingdom of souls – in the kingdom of our soul family to be precise – I am the clown. I can be happy, I can be sad. I can ease the King’s – and also your – pain. I anticipate all His emotions and pains. And I make them my own to better understand how to ease the incredible burden He finds himself under. And in so doing, throughout endless lifetimes, I lose myself. His doubts become mine, and I see no more what it is that He so desperately needs. And in losing track of that, I am unable to give the King what He needs. I am the mirror to the King, and soon He loses Himself in it as well. The well-being of the entire soul family He governs rests on my shoulders. They become my burden, I am the only one capable of leading them through the mission we were sent to achieve.

Classical Guides

In this life I don’t really like Mozart, but 80 years and nearly two lifetimes ago he was – if not my idol at least – someone I could deeply identify with. I’m piecing this together through the haze and trauma, not to mention the life that was in between this one and the one I’m trying to remember. I’m told I was a child prodigy of sorts. That I played my instrument well, and we were famous enough to be taken away. My brother from that life – a friend in this one – told me that I was the reason we were taken away, but then hastily added that this was a good thing. We would have been taken away in either case, and this way at least we were somewhat safe. Until they took us away, which was my fault again, but that came much later. 

I don’t remember any of that. Or rather, I remember through impulses and fears. There were four of us children, I was the second youngest, and the only girl. My brother told me that, the same one who said I was the one who managed to keep everyone safe. I don’t remember that either, but in kindergarten (which is the age at which kids are still able to remember the lives that once were) I would alternate between telling everyone who would listen (and I’m sure many who didn’t want to as well) that I had an older brother and that I had to be very quiet at home because my baby brother was often asleep. When people in real life took my best friend for my younger brother, I got mad. With good reason, as I now understand. He looked nothing like that little brother I had then. And in any case, it wasn’t him. 

The fears were a different thing altogether. They came at me randomly, a type of person, certain dogs (despite reassurances that dogs were friendly, especially to kids), a light beam in the sky, a blimp on the rare occasion you’d seen one. And military airplanes. But when I met people from that life, and especially those who were my immediate family, all those images went away, and a new set lodged itself in my head. Images of walking on cobble stone (something I love to this day), eating warm chestnuts, enjoying the evening lights in December, someone – a lady – playing the piano, a cat and a dog sunning themselves in the middle of the room in an apartment in the middle of the city. Fleeting images, but the emotions associated with them stayed. 
And so did the love for classical music. I liked the melodies that told stories, the more dramatic the better. For a while, when I started realizing that this love was connected to a past life, I thought it was just about having lived in those times. The way most children in good families were raised. But it was more than that, my brother from that life explained. I didn’t just listen, I actually played. I believed her, my friend who was my brother and is now a girl. Because it made sense. When I heard certain pieces, my soul would automatically regress. And then the memories in terms of feelings and fleeting images would resurface. It always amazes me that people are so afraid of remembering those lives of the past. Sure there were horrible moments, too. But there were also good ones as well. And the one thing we should all take away. That no matter how far we stray from what we think was our predetermined path,somehow we always manage to come back to the good we once were, before we embarked on this continuous spiritual journey, drawn back to those moments by the souls we held close and in highest esteem, ensuring that we never really lose ourselves. 

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