A God’s Tale
(A Working Title)
This was one such occasion. It was important and needed to be carefully planned and executed. No Planners ever wanted surprises. None ever uttered “How did that happen?” or where did that come from?” Next to the surprise of the Great Comet eliminating the Dinosaurs, the uprising of Fanutopolis and the wars of Platitude and Conception that followed and the shopping excursions of Michael Jackson, this had to be done perfectly. The Planners had always been careful, but after the recent failures to curtail the popularity of Rap Music and misplacing the WMD’s, they had to be extra careful.
No Junior Planners here, just Seniors.
It had to be fresh. What happened below, had escaped their eyes and wasn’t discovered for 200 hundred years.
Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.
Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head
Now it gets really weird.
Lincoln 's secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln .
Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.
Now hang on to your seat. No really, hang on so you don't fall off your chair or onto the floor of the plane.
Lincoln was shot at the theater named 'Ford'.
Kennedy was shot in a car called ' Lincoln ' made by 'Ford'.
Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theater.
Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.
And here's the kicker...
A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe , Maryland
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.
I think one of the Planners went brain dead and accidentally or maybe just lazily figuring no one would notice, ran the same plan twice just changing some names and dates.
I don’t think they anticipated the Conspiracy Theorists that abound in the early 21st Century. Regardless, they needed to correct wrongs, to reset the courses of mighty rivers and put things right. Coincidences were modeled, each detail was polished and simulations run.
The Senior Planner agreed it was the time to start and today was the day it would begin.
Of course it was.
On each Thursday, he would prepare a dark roast expresso, the darkest and strongest of the fine grind coffee’s he could possible stomach and gulp it steadily between his kitchen counter and the 3rd story window facing the alley behind his rented brownstone. He set his stained English porcelain demitasse cup alongside the other stained English porcelain demitasse cups on his window ledge. “Ready, set, Go!”, he spoke aloud as the blast of caffeine hit. The hairs on the back of his neck bristling, he headed down the fire escape, athletically lifting himself down, jumping several steps, swinging 180 degrees at the corners until finally reaching the alley below with a jump. He straightened his loosened tie, smoothed the largest wrinkles from his cotton jacket and adjusted his collars.
An alto Sax jazz bopped in his head, Bop bop bah de de bah bop baaaah. Like Cookie from 77 Sunset Strip, he brought both hands up to the sides of his head and in matching smooth arcs, lifted his hair over his ears guiding it down the back of his head and onto his neck.
His hair obeyed, staying in place. His eye caught a window and confirmed his readiness. He was pleasantly cologned, wrapped in a new Italian white cotton waiter’s double breasted jacket, lightly starched and crisp. Flaired and pastel blue ballooning pants gathered at the waist and ankles complemented the loose pirate large patterned shirt and alligator tie. Low cut Bally’s padded along the sidewalk with a brushed leather hush.
Cliff was happy with himself and that was important. Six foot something, cooperative hair and just enough curls to cover the right places below his head. He was not disfigured, and at this stage so far, no spots, lumps, scars, missing parts or unwanted bulges. He liked when he could catch the red highlights in his deep golden hair passing a mirror. He was vain but he knew that some people had the right to be. It was just the way it was.
The air was city fresh, not hot or cold on his skin. No sweat, No chill. It was, for all intents, constructions and purposes, a perfect pocketful of shake your money at, slightly caffeine snap buzzy, hormones starting to bubble, weekend ahead, Thursday afternoon.
It was a Thursday. Checks drawn tonight would tend not to bounce even in the New Age Banking World. Clubs and street corners, in anticipation of a weekend, would be nervously happy, teeming with party, but far from unpleasantly crowded. Young women, recently separated from last month’s rest-of-my-life’s beau, would be keeping a close eye on what potentials would show up tonight. Thursday was always a wonderful night to start a Friday, and frequently roll right into a full-blown Saturday and if the stars are lined up just right and she can still show it on the dance floor, it could end as a gentle falling into a late rising, get me my juice and paper Sunday morning.
It was into this HipHop BeBop Dub Step Boom Wow Urban world that Cliff Parsons was about to enter. He considered this his third World in the Parsons Universe Theory. His own perception of Universal Singular Personality Mutli-Planet theory began to develop as a teen when he recognized the complete transformation of his inner soul, the metamorphisis of his spirit and being when he left the constrained and feigned Ozzie and Harriett restraints of his initial world: the world of his parents.
Tatia and the Auberge
On a small island, sitting in the middle of a horseshoe bay at the tip of a slender peninsula, was an enclave of 12 hedgehidden, walled, eclectic mixed period escape Mansions each sitting at the edge of the steep and rocky cliffs that ringed the island. Each dwelling was distinctly different as if they represented a “Best Of” collection of unusual architectural designs throughout recorded human history. Each estate with landscapes void of any trace of their occupants, faced a slightly different direction from the neighboring houses so none could intrude on the privacy of the others. The air fragrant, perfumed with a heady mixture of exotic flora and walls wrapped tightly with densely tangled thorny vines, finished the shielding of the houses from each other with pristine nobility and exclusive elegance. When in residence, these rich fuckers did not want to see each other.
The largest home, a white marbled Georgian Manor stood majestically facing the bay, away from the peninsula and possessing the largest piece of real estate on the island. Near the highest point of the island, once heavy forested, the islands dome had been shaved clean and only a large rich green manicured cap remained.
A towering white marble Triumphal arch, a regal replica of its mate in London, offered a single brass plaque announcing to those that approached by road a simple message:
Auberge du Sueno Libre
Lining the inside of curve of the arch, each voissoir held a white enameled downturned cast iron spear tipped with golden spire and to either side of the broad span, formidable wall of flowering rose vines spread from either side of the arch. The crown and golden keystone were lost in the low hanging fog on approach. It was obvious that the substantial rose covered wall that abutted each pier of the powerful arch encircled and embraced the entire property including the green dome of the island making it nearly impregnable to any passerby save those that happen to be carrying a ladder.
Inside the walls and behind the arch on either side, tall blue delphiniums bobbed in the gentle and foggy breeze. Past the arch and up the white brick drive that meandering up a gentle slope sat the genteel Neo-Georgian. Italian cypress followed the column lines upwards past the second floor recessed balconies that ringed the home on each floor, giving the occupants full view of the grounds, fields, slopes, woods and eventually to the white caps on the steel blue oceans after the morning fogs had chosen to burn off.
Tangled but orderly Masquerade clematis vines covered with large lavender flowers, worked their way along the railings and trellises that lined the drive and terminated at a circular red brick drive directly in front of the towering Mansion. Enclosed in the center of the ring was a volcanic bubbling round lake, at whose center had a school of dolphins, captured frozen, airborne, leaping in a swirling formation around a bronze statue of a round squat man in an oversize tuxedo, his left hand clasping a pair of theatrical masks and in his right hand, a golf club pointed dramatically upward toward an unseen celestial body. A set of a dozen fishing poles at 45 degree angles emanated from a ring of various frolicking fish at his feet. Water squirted and bubbled from every possible orifice and point, soaking any unfortunate bystanders who happened to be anywhere near this monument during even the slightest breeze.
Inside the Mansion, a great gold domed entrance of Pantheonic proportion followed by two dramatically curved wrap-around Georgian staircases framed an enormous crystal chandelier one dared not cross under for fear that it would fall and crush dozens of unwary guests. Any sun light that happened to make its way into the entry foyer was caught and exploded throughout the space. The twin staircases ascended to a majestic theatrical balcony, draped in heavy velvets, balanced on either end by vein marbled columns that lead to hallways filled with rooms presumably equally as simply appointed.
Without having to utter a word, this was quite the getaway pad.
An insistent buzz stirred a drowsy domestic to life. The starchwhite figure leaned forward and watched a delivery man impatiently chatter at a mute screen, just outside the arch. After delaying a response for an abusive minute, the gate swung open and the delivery man entered. After a short drive and unloading he entered the rear pantry door of the Mansion.
“What took ya so long today Rosie, hey. Catcha nappin’? Rosie, hey” The deliveryman sounded irritated that his delivery momentum had been interrupted. “Will ya lookie at the load I’ve pulled out today”.
“You jest nevah mind what you got heah, Mr Fedral “spress. You jes delivah and mind yo own bidness”. The domestic was half serious, half coy with the what was taking place. She didn’t interact with many people here save the Mansion’s only inhabitant and Mr. Fedral ‘spress was her favorite.”You jes gives me da bowed to sighn and youse can jes get on wid your deliverin’ bidness”
“Gee Rosie, you’s think afta all of dis time…” by this time both were smiling but they realized that somewhere eyes were watching their exchange and it was better if they kept it short.
The grey suited delivery man stacked several boxes of various sizes on the speckled granite counters of the kitchen. Several cartons were marked “RUSH” and “PERISHABLE” in large red letters. As soon as he left, Rosie turned to watch the monitor to make certain his Delivery van headed straight down the drive, pausing at the arch until it swung open.
With the delivery man on his way, Rosie, a domestic in her late fifties maybe forties, that had been with the house since it was built, set about opening the boxes carefully as not to disturb the contents and set them carefully on a brushed stainless steel, double shelved rolling cart that was already loaded with an ornate silver tea service, several small saucers, platters and a surgeon’s broad assortment of dining utensils.
After all the boxes were emptied of their treasures, Rosie pushed the cart with a grunt to the back of the kitchen “Jest one day, the Misses is going come down heah, so I don’t have to be traipsin’ this cart all over creation!,” she mumbled to herself. Rosie stepped into a small elevator with a cart laden with cookies, brownies, tins of brightly colored cannolis, tarts overflowing with fruit and rich multi-layer Viennese cakes. She disappeared behind the quiet swoosh of a pair of white enameled elevator doors.
“Missy Ta, Missy Ta”
“Please come in Rosie. I’m on the balcony of the boudoir preparing for a tanning session”, a woman spoke in a hush tone, distant. The door buzzed and Rosie rolled in the cart.
A small travertine marble balcony facing the west was filled with billowing sky blue curtains artistically tinted to capture the specific blue of the clear sky overhead, The gauzy curtains ballooned inward with the noon breeze off of the bay like racing yacht spinnaker sails.
In the center of the curtains, draped in a oversize gown that almost matched the curtains in color and form, lay the house’s sole occupant. Tatia Pompilius, the first and only wife and love of Numa Pompilius, the stately and imposing subject of the Dolphin fountain that adorned the grand entrance to the Mansion. Tatia Pompilius, an opulent woman of aging grace and substance, moved with the deliberate feminine poise of a women of means one would have viewed on the silent screen.
Tatia motioned for the domestic to enter with her full cart of coffee and delights. While reclining on an over-sized, ornately carved Victorian fainting couch, Tatia’s matching sky blue gown trimmed with gold brocade was spread dramatically across the couch and only occasionally balloon up to conceal her form. On her head, a matching golden headdress, laden with turquoise and lapis, perched squarely giving a muffled clamor as she turned in your direction. One could assume with some certainty that if Cleopatra were to be resurrected cinematically today, it would mimic the scene found here.
“Rosie, I have asked that you not pre-slice the cakes upon their arrival. I am quite capable and they are delicate and will dry out when exposed to the air.” The reclining mistress scolded softly but with authority, repeatedly, removing the fluttering curtains out of her face as she spoke.
“Not dat dey evah gets a chance ta see duh ayre wonst Ah puts them in front of you ma’am wid all respect an all”. Rosie spoke to herself while clattering the dishes on the cart in preparation for the daily feast. “Heah is t’days mail Ma’am and sum ah yor fav’rit mag’zeens come in tahday. Now, you call me now if you need any thing else.”
And following the ritual of fanning out the newly received magazines on a small table next to the couch, Rosie disappeared from the balcony and returned to the house. This was Tatia’s favorite time of the day, left alone to survey her magazines and mail order catalogs, while reclining in the gentle morning sun, high above the splashing of the surf on the cliffs below. She consumed gingerly, but with grace, each tray of delicacies that she received in the morning’s deliveries.
Fudges topped with full size Spanish Marcona almonds or honey roasted Southern pecans, multi-colored fruitcakes oozing with demi-sec brandies and cookies from every corner of the globe were received daily and promptly from mail order bakeries around the world. Since her loving husband Numa Pompilius had crossed the rainbow bridge to his next deserved reward, Tatia had been withdrawn, uncomfortable to leave the Auberge and virtually unable to re-enter public life. Well, she had been able to re-enter life, but she found it increasingly difficult to eat anything in public. Once she left the safety of the Auberge, she starved for sustenance. Her solution was to never leave the Auberge and to buy everything she would possibly want to drape on her body or consume by mail order.
The Auberge was her escape into pleasure, her only joy left in life. It was a luxurious prison with worlds of mail order.
Her mornings were filled with a wide-eyed scanning of magazine after magazine. With her ever present red marker tightly gripped in one hand, she would broadly circle some advertisement for a mail order goodie or trinket.
It was while wiping a drooling run of French chocolate fondue sauce from her chin that she first saw the Cliff’s advertisement.
At first she scanned by the ad, nestled in between an offering of midget pigs from the People’s Republic of Viet Nam and a San Franciscan Chocolate reproduction of Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music. Cliffs’s advertisement had no little pictures or artist’s renderings of what was being offered, so her trained eye set it aside to read later. She always kept her eye out for items of interest.
Every time her eye attempted to escape the advertisements grasp, her gaze would be slowly pulled back. In just the flash of a second that she had caught the advertisement, there were enough key words to hold her attention drawing her away from handsome assortments of lemon and almond stuffed figs, dates and pineapple ring assortments and even from the Darvon School of Exotic Animal Training. She read and reread the advertisement not realizing that she was not breathing. Her heart rate jumped and she reached for her pen to circle the ad, and then not quickly finding the pen and before she fainted, she decided to tear out the entire page instead. Extracted from the magazine, she exhaled audibly. Taking a sip of thinning warm fruit compote, Tatia laid gently back on her couch, put on her headset and with her eyes glazing over like Truffle Porcini Butter on warm scones and let the afternoon sun and the sounds of Tibetan bowls lull her into a light nap.
Cliff arrives at the Auberge
He had hoped to arrive in a limousine, but chose to take a taxi instead and walk the final few hundred feet to the home. It seemed so biblical. He really wanted a rough carved wooden staff with inset stones but decided on an umbrella instead. The taxi crept along the quiet morning road that wrapped around the island. The thick fog made finding houses and address difficult, but he had planned for that. Once the driver had the address, he drove slowly past the arch. Once safely gone, Cliff worked his way back through the fog, hearing waves on the rocks to one side and the confused screeching of flock of birds above.
Within minutes of his arrival at the arched gate entrance of the Auberge, the fog blanket shrouding the island began to roll back towards the ocean in a retreating wall of grey. The Mansion, at a slightly higher elevation on the island had been in the clear for a few minutes before Cliff’s arrival. The lower Arch entrance was still cloaked in grey when Cliff pressed the buzzer.
Rosie called up the stairs rather than using the intercom, because she knew how excited and tense the Boss had been all morning in anticipation of this appointment. Tatia and Rosie had been upstairs from early morning preparing. Bathed, scented, coifed and recoifed, Rosie had never seen Tatia make such a fuss to prepare.
“I just don’t know wat you makin such a fuss fo Missy T. I ain’t nevah seen you make such a fuss ovah nuttin else you oder’d tru dah mail”. Rosie had to dip and cross herself three times every time she thought about the advertisement she found that Missy T had answered.
With all of the grace she could muster, Tatia raced down the stairs and like a teenager watching a suitor, peeked out the window at the driveway where it disappeared into the fog. Giving her enormous bosom and hair one final adjust in the mittored wall of the Reception foyer, she opened the door and stepped into the marble entry, centering herself between the two enormous white marble columns. She squinted down the drive, but could see nothing but retreating fog.
A small flock of birds had become disoriented in the heavier than normal morning fog and after several minutes of trying to regain their bearings, the birds became agitated and confused cawing and cackling in fear and disgust. Cliff, moving slowly up the drive in the fog, could hear them angrily overhead and hoped to avoid them at all costs. He did not need any bird poop facials or hits to his outfit.
Without fail, the birds spotted Cliff’s movement and like a group of errant travelers in the fog, decided to swoop down and follow him since it seemed he knew where he was going. With the flock chirping madly,Cliff remembered that for some reason, maybe dramatics, he had put a pack of flash powder in his jacket pocket. Cliff considered himself a student of magic and frequently stuffed his pockets with all sorts of card sets and magic props. Cliff began to swing his arms over his head , trying to keep the birds from hitting their supposed target. Sliding on his loaded pair of double electric flash guns into him palm, he waited until the birds swooped closer towards him and gave them a flash blast with all four little barrels as he quickened his pace up the drive into the fog. In a second, he found himself in the clear and out of the fog and being bathed in the warm blue light of the island morning and his arms extended over his head and a frightened spray of birds heading upwards towards the now visible sun and blue fogless sky, escaping the brilliant flash that they had certainly not expected to appear over Cliff’s head.
To say the least it was a scene.
Tatia felt her soul faint and her body soon followed. She had never witnessed a miracle and in seconds following the appearance of Cliff, the flash and watching the geometric spray of birds emanating from her mysterious visitor, her body collapsed to the marble floor into a disheveled pile of flesh, taffeta and ringlets of hair.
Unaware of the scene taking place at the top of the hill, Cliff continue to meander up the drive, stopping to admire the clematis and the fountain in front of the Mansion. Rosie, from behind one of the mirrored doors of the reception having watched Tatia collapse, ran to pick her up off of the steps.
“Rosie, R…R...Rosie,” Tatia spoke weakly, her head of curls and ringlets hiding her face in Rosie’s enormous lap, “did you see…did you see the miracle, Did you see the vision?”
I wasn’t watchin’ no miracles Missy T, It’ nonah Rosie’s bidness about no visions. Now let me hep you up Missy” Rosie wanted her standing so she wouldn’t have to deal with the strange man making his way up the drive. Tatia stood, shook her curls and composure and awaited for the image’s arrival to the base of the steps.
In a minute, Cliff stood at the bottom of the stairs and realized that he had spent more time thinking about what he was going to wear than what he was going to say when on this initial meeting of his first potential devotee.