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1222Sirius Chronicles.

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  • Mathew Morrell
    Sep 18, 2002
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      Mark and Elizabeth stayed up with Ed during his first night in the
      sanitarium. All night he slipped in and out of consciousness,
      sometimes cracking open his eyes, sometimes lifting his head from the
      pillow and sometimes looking up at the ceiling and smiling as if
      showers of red rose petals rained from the sky. With each new sign
      of life he made, Elizabeth's entire countenance would change in
      emotional hue, going from elation and from elation to sorrow when he
      fell asleep again and slipped back into his private, inchoate,
      psychological underworld. Mark sat on one side of the bed, Elizabeth
      on the other, hoping he would regain consciousness, moreover
      expecting he would, yet he lay there showing no signs of
      intelligence; rather a mindlessness vegetal life. He had fallen into
      a coma not long after drinking the Red Lion elixir, and now a sort of
      dim, gray, etheric sheen hovered about his physical embodiment. This
      was his aura and it was growing weaker, less crystalline and
      colorless. The luminary brilliance of his Manas organization was
      pulling further away from his organic self, pulling, they thought,
      upward into the devachanic planes.
      By dawn they were exhausted. Gently Mark spread a black,
      embroidered shawl over her shoulders, tucked it neatly around her
      neck, and gripped her arm so as to coerce Elizabeth from the bed
      side. Ed's eyes shuttered almost imperceptively in their sockets;
      but he did not awaken from the trance, and eventually Elizabeth
      followed Mark outside into the cold.
      A chilly dawn wind brushed over their faces. The streets
      were wet from rain, the air moist, and the atmosphere at this early
      hour not quit dark and yet not bright enough to trigger the street
      lamps overhead. All that remained of last night's fog and the rain
      were broken clouds. The clouds blew in from the coast, at first
      thick and dense as they drifted overhead, but as morning drew near
      the nocturnal sea-breezes pushed them onwards into the dark western
      horizon. The last remaining clouds floated across the horizon, blood
      red in the dazzling spectral colors tinting the horizon. On the ride
      up town, in the early morning traffic, she leaned her shoulder
      against the door and closed her eyes as the wind blew against her
      face. Soon, her guilt subsided into the relaxation. Her breathing
      became light and her thoughts moved lucidly in orbiting circles round
      a central idea looming large in her conscience; and that thought was
      how to save Ed.
      The cab slowed gradually but turned sharply towards the curb
      running adjacent to Central Park. Up the road a little was the
      Metropolitan Museum of Art
      `It's $7.55,' the driver said.
      Mark handed him a ten over the dividing seat.
      `Keep the change.'
      `Thank you. Have a nice day.'
      Elizabeth opened the door, and all at once the freshness of
      the morning breeze swirled up and around her light, loose-fitting
      sundress. Climbing out of the cab was like having crawled from a
      dark cave and becoming suddenly conscious of the breadth and width of
      the sky. The open breeze and blue sky brought an instantaneous
      feeling of expansion, a sense of purity and calm, followed by a
      realization of inner freedom; and suddenly her mind seized to be
      malicious; it seized to be angry or vengeful, and all her spite
      towards her grandfather vanished. She and Mark meandered off into
      the park onto a pathway shaded from above by trees whose naked boughs
      were still bare from winter and whose brown, spindly, bud-covered
      branches cast moving shadows. The buds looked like fat, green
      cocoons, whereas the oaks, the maples and the cottonwoods--all in
      full bloom and exploding with leaves--shuttered in the breeze. The
      Japanese Cherry trees, also in full bloom, unleashed pink flower
      blossoms into the gusts of wind. A petal-filled gust blew in
      swirling motions over Belvedere Lake, where a toy boat glided over
      the surface of the lake across the flakes of sunlight tip toeing
      towards the lemon yellow sun. Mark threw a pebble across the water
      and the flakes splashed like molten gold.
      A slope in the landscape rose up onto another field. On the
      way up the slope, as the field came into view, Elizabeth remembered a
      dream. A firecracker-light popped in her mind, colors swirled, and
      the dream came unglued from her memory.
      `Oh!' she said as they walked. `I had a dream last night! I
      just remembered.'
      `What was it like?'
      `It was great,' she said, and was about to explain the dream,
      but one remembrance trailed quickly behind another, too quickly for
      her to follow; and out of frustration, she picked up a long, fat
      stick lying on the ground, and swung it through the air. Even though
      she experienced the dream in detail, her thoughts could not reflect
      the totality of the experience without fumbling her words. `Oh
      darling,' she kept saying with the stick in her hand, `I can't tell
      you how great it was. It was beautiful, you see. You won't
      understand.'
      `Try.'
      `I saw mountains and everything was so real. I saw an
      angel. The angel. . . the sun. . . the sun was bright but wasn't
      hot. . . Oh shoot baby. . . No, I can't tell you how great it was.
      You don't understand.'
      `I do understand, rabbit. It sounds beautiful. What do you
      think it meant?'
      All she did was shrug her shoulders and look across the
      field. Her apartment building was in sight.
      `Surely, it meant something,' he said.
      `That's the thing. I don't think it meant anything. Jungian
      psychology only goes so far, you know. To me, Sirius is a non-
      symbolic location in consciousness, and it looks like an Ed MacIntosh
      painting.'
      She threw out her walking stick in front of her strides, and
      batted away a grasshopper so that her feet wouldn't crush it. It was
      sitting on a tuft of grass, wet with morning dew. All the sudden it
      leapt up and clung to her dress.
      `Get if off me!' she cried.
      Mark swept his palm across her dress and didn't release it.
      He held it in his hand.
      `It's just a little bug,' he said.
      `I know. It startled me, that's all.'
      `You're not afraid of grass hoppers, are you?'
      `Usually not, no. I thought they didn't hop in the morning,
      owing to the cold.'
      Mark smiled. There was something to her tone of voice that
      amused him. The tone did not correspond with the peasant simplicity
      of her summer dress nor her long straight hair hanging down her back,
      nor the old ladies shawl warming her shoulders. It was an exclusive
      voice bred for debutante balls and tea parties. `In fact,' she was
      saying, `I've always loved grasshoppers,' and thrust the stick
      forward in front of her strides. `Even though they spit that crude,
      brown, tobacco juice, which is impossible to clean in a wash,
      grasshoppers fascinate me. What do you call people who study
      insects? Insectologists?'
      `I'm not sure.'
      He did not seemed to be listening anymore, for he was
      entirely focused on the grasshopper cupped in his hand.
      `Insects are just plain strange,' he said, then opened his
      palms. The grasshopper sprung; its grayish wings chattered as it
      flew. `They're world,' he said. `It must be one of amazing
      vitality. Bugs always chattering at night, always flying and buzzing
      about, eating this and that, copulating, laying eggs, making hives.'
      `Bugs are really into life!'
      `An insect lives so intensely, they must look down on us and
      think we live in slow motion. I wonder if, indeed, they do see a
      higher vibration.'
      `I wonder,' said Elizabeth. `I think people who study
      insects are called insectologists.'
      `No. They're called Scientologists.'
      `No!' Elizabeth laughed, and dropped her stick on the
      ground. Central Park West was a mere three strides away and across
      the street was the Bell Tower Apartment building.

      Upon returning to her home, at six o'clock this morning, they
      looked down at Central Park from her vine-entwined balcony on the
      seventeenth floor, and sipped hot tea. They stood with their hips
      leaned against the railing and gazed out over the morning mist
      extending over the pathways, the lakes, the theaters, the ball parks,
      all interspersed within the park's three-mile boundary.
      Mark raised his mug, blew away the steam, and took a small,
      cautious drink before setting it down again. Elizabeth said:
      `The tea. . . it's good. . . this morning, isn't it? Is
      yours too hot to drink?'
      `It's a little hot.'
      `Would you like some cream to cool it down?'
      `I'm fine, sweet heart.'
      `Just say so, and I'll get you some,' she said, the shawl
      wrapped around her shoulders; and her long, nervous fingers, always
      busy, pruned a dry, brown, brittle leaf from a vine. The wind
      whipping at this height blew the leaf from her open palm. As the
      wind swirled, and as the leaf drifted, an underlying pattern in
      nature revealed itself. Her eyes dashed to and fro as the leaf rose
      and fell, wavered and sunk in the circular ripples, the bulging
      flows, the whirlpools and eddies swallowing the sky's continuous
      identity. `There sure is something about the way the wind blows,'
      she said in her dazed flowerchild voice.
      `And that something is profound,' he whispered in return; for
      he too had watched the leaf. They did not feel Ed was insane. They
      felt he was suspended, as they leaf was, in a pocket of stillness
      that only on the surface seemed lifeless and inanimate. Such was the
      psychic similarity of their thoughts that they sipped their tea at
      the same time, swallowed, and sighed as they gazed at the open space,
      thinking the same thought, their mind's pondering this omnipotent
      field dynamic. In the sky, each wind expressed its own, emphatic,
      individual character, yet without diminishing the infinite quality of
      the whole.
      `The sky is like millions of beating, pulsing, spirals
      coiling and un-coiling in one big spiral,' she said, her face
      squinting into the sun, its light warming her face, and the blue
      expanse burning blood red around the sun's hot, molten sphere. Her
      thoughts followed the freest possible orbit, flickered and fluttered
      from one idea to another, yet this was no Freudian exercise in free
      association. `The wind is nature's ballet,' she went on. `Based on
      divine geometry. It is a self-perpetuating mathematics composed of
      moving etheric shapes, spirals within spirals, flowing lines, that
      enfold and un-fold into each other yet are constantly changed. One
      innovation of classical ballet is that it involves the whole body,
      not just the arms and legs in the flow of movement. The lines are
      elevated. The ballerina is raised to her toes. All her lines and
      angles, from her pointing slippers to the tips of her fingers, are
      extended to their maximum degree of freedom. The difficulty is
      coordinating and balancing these lines. If your center of gravity is
      too low, your arms hang like Balanchine robots. If your center is
      too high, your arms swing like wet strands of spaghetti. Your turn-
      out must be broadcast over the entire body. Few dancers every truly
      find their moving center. When they do, there's something magical
      about them, something majestic that can't be touched, that's looks
      weightless, ethereal and other worldly.' Elizabeth moved toward his
      side of the balcony and pressed her hands against his flannel shirt
      struggling to control her driving emotions. `Mark,' she said, `how
      other-worldly do you think I can get?'
      `You're asking me,' he said, thrilled by her analogy. `I
      would say the highest heaven. If that's what you mean?'
      `That's exactly what I mean.'
      `Going out of body?'
      `To search for Ed in conceptual hyperspace.'
      Again, she tried to explain this `space', this Platonic Idea
      Realm; and again managed only to fumble her words as clumsily as she
      did earlier this morning when reliving her journey to Sirius. A
      precise, linguistic definition of Sirius was beyond her and her
      ability to describe it. Its queer spiral mathematics and its non-
      linear flow of time seemed beyond all physical description. To her,
      Sirius was a mental vacuum branded in the Soul of the World, and
      could not be limited to Newtonian definitions. It was a soul-
      spiritual dimension entrenched in the collective un-conscious, too
      magnetic to be merely a dream world, too sublime to be an
      abstraction, infinitely complex, yet simple enough to be beheld by
      the meekest soul. Elizabeth found her pointing slippers where she
      left them last night, in her duffel bag, along with her leotards, a
      jacket and a pair of sneakers. She and Mark took the elevator down
      to the lobby later this morning then departed with a kiss and a
      promise to meet each other for lunch at the Agon Cafe.

      The ABT studio was a refurbished, four story building on
      W.78th Street. The top floor had been gutted-out and replaced by a
      wide, un-interrupted dance floor several times larger than a normal-
      sized stage; a long line of street-facing windows gushed sunshine.
      Through the luminous beams sprung five, shirtless male dancers and
      five ballerinas that included Elizabeth in her black leotards. Her
      feet alighted on the floor, but the energy in the leap did not
      evaporate; it spiraled out into a rapid series of chaine turns. The
      mental stress Ed had collapsed under last night was the same inner
      tension Elizabeth built up into explosion of joy. Her energy as she
      danced seemed limitless. From her own inner battery of power she
      tapped into the profound physical exaltation of the music being
      played, Offenbach's Gaite Pariseinee. It was a piece that always
      made her smile.
      Rehearsals lasted all morning. The mood was serious but not
      morose and there was much laughter and shouting, occasionally angry
      shouts on account of the difficulty of the ballet and the frustration
      of learning it. The chaine-turns after the leap seemed impossible.
      Giovanni Migliazzo was a secret, un-noticed spectator observing
      rehearsals from the top of the staircase; although his face was pale
      and sickly, his skin yellowish, from his submerged eyes came a flash
      of glee. It was a joy to see Elizabeth dance. The music was comedic
      and all the little staccato rhythms seemed to bounce under her feet,
      tiptoe, prance, leap, spin like a clown. Strange, new, surprising
      shapes constantly unfurled from her body ---and her arms seemed to
      blossom from nowhere. Giovanni took one final step from the
      staircase, up onto the edge of the level floor, dressed incognito in
      a black trench coat, and nearly un-recognizable in his wide-brimmed
      hat, which fit low to his brow and shadowed his eyes. He was in
      hiding and did not want to be detected. His reflection in the long
      line of mirrors remained un-noticed by everyone save for Elizabeth,
      who evidently recognized him, yet continued dancing until rehearsals
      came to a close. The music stopped and the emotional pressure in her
      body hissed slowly from her limbs, hissed like a balloon leaking
      air. Her foot lowered onto the floor; her arms fell to her side,
      deflated. Then she spun away from his reflection in the mirror and
      saw him standing there looking helpless and hopeless.
      By then it was the lunch hour. The dancers were exhausted
      and breathing deeply. They walked off the dance floor with their
      hands resting on their hips. Sweat beaded their chests and arms.
      They congregated by the water cooler; but Elizabeth did not join
      them. Coyly she slipped over towards the equipment closet, grabbed a
      shawl, her sneakers and a towel which she slung over her shoulder
      after wiping her face. Her coyness was due to Giovanni's presence.
      She could not believe he was reckless enough to show himself in a
      public place.
      `You idiot,' she whispered when she met him at the
      staircase. `What are you doing here?'
      `I'm in trouble.'
      `I know, I heard. Some one will see you. Let's go somewhere
      where we can speak.'
      Giovanni followed her down the staircase, which descended
      four flights. The shawl was black in color, made from a light-weight
      nylon material, and served as a skirt when she tied it around her
      waist. The staircase terminated on the first floor.
      `I read the paper,' she said in the hallway. `Are you mad?'
      `I must have been, sweet heart, because, if I was sane at the
      time, believe me, I would not have snitched on the Vince Serenghetti.'
      `You seem fine now. I mean, it looks like you're recovering.'
      `Just say it, I look like hell.'
      `You look like hell.'
      `I feel quiet well, considering. Last night I found my
      apartment in ruin. The Mafia trashed the place. Somebody defecated
      on my bed.'
      `Man, they're doing a job on you. You should leave New York
      for a while, maybe forever.'
      `Which brings me to the reason I risked seeing you today. . .'
      There was an empty classroom down the hallway. Elizabeth sat
      on the piano bench and slipped on her shoes. Giovanni was saying:
      `I spoke to the DA last night and promised him the documents
      linking Vince Serenghetti to the Black Shirts. To do this, I need
      you to give me the intelligence report you showed me a few weeks ago.'
      `They're at Father Nicholas's apartment.'
      `How about I meet you there, tonight, at eight o'clock?'
      `Sure. Is that all?'
      `I think so. I only hope I can escape New York in once
      piece.'
      `Have you found out who assaulted you,' Elizabeth asked,
      still tying her shoes.
      `No, and I don't think that matters anymore. It could have
      been anybody.'
      `It must have been terrifying.'
      `It's been a nightmare. A nightmare, Elizabeth. I don't
      know how you got me into all this.'
      `Me?'
      `Yes, you.'
      `Don't pin this one on me! I can't help that you shot off
      your mouth.'
      `I know, I know. I'm sorry for saying that. I'm too sick to
      argue. All I want, now, is the documents. We should not fight so
      much.'
      `Well take care of the documents. But what about Thomas
      Rose?'
      `Thomas?'
      `Good Lord, you haven't thought about Thomas? He's the one
      you should fear. His name is all over the documents. He's the one
      who deposited the money for you.'
      Giovanni plopped down next to her on the bench. Elizabeth
      placed her hand on his shoulder to ease his strain.
      `Wherever you're going,' she said, `you need to hook up with
      a doctor.'
      `I'm going to a white, sandy beach in the Bahamas. I want
      you to come with me.'
      `Don't be a fool.' She let go of his shoulder and sat in a
      stiff, upright posture, with her hands resting on her lap and her
      legs drawn together so that her knee caps were touching. `Gio, you
      should fade into the sun set.'
      `I don't want to fade from you life. Visit me this summer,
      won't you?'
      `No, Gio.'
      `Why?
      `Why? because I'm in love. After tonight, I don't want to
      see you again. It wouldn't be prudent under the circumstances.'
      `Elizabeth's in love.' He chuckled sarcastically. `Our
      lives have taken quiet an unexpected turn. You're in love and I have
      a contract on my head. Who could have imagined?'
      `Don't get sentimental on me. Stay positive. If you want, I
      can take the afternoon off. We could meet Nicholas at Saint Mark's
      Cathedral and have this thing cleared-up in a couple hours.
      `That long?'
      `Yes, that long. You've seen the Red Files. They're huge.'
      `All I need is the document pertaining to Vince, that's all.'
      `I don't know where that document is. Besides, you don't
      need one document. We need many. It may take at least an hour to
      sift through the evidence and decide what information to blot out and
      what to save. Of course, we must blot out all information on North
      Star and any official who does not stand in a direct line between
      Vince and the terrorist bombing.'
      `What about Thomas?'
      `We'll blot his name, too. That would be a requisite. His
      name is on your bank deposit slips. I have a hunch he's the one who
      defecated on your bed. That's something he would do. He's a low
      life.'
      `It sounds like a huge task,' he said.
      `It is, but with three people working at it, we could
      probably get it done in two or three hours. Are you sure you don't
      want to get it out of the way this afternoon?'
      `No, I have business to take care of.'
      They left the classroom and went outside. The temperature
      had climbed into the mid-seventies and there were no clouds in the
      sky. Before parting, Giovanni re-affirmed their agreement:
      `I'll met you at the cathedral at six.
      `I'll be there, and Mark will to.'
      `Mark? No way. You're not brining Mark into this.'
      `I am bring him,' she said. `I want somebody on my side.'
      `Why?' Giovanni seemed insulted.
      `Because, I don't trust you. You're a bully.'
      `No,' he said. `I won't allow it.'
      `No, you will. Because he going to be there. You're not
      going to come into Nicholas's apartment and bully us around.'
      `Fine, bring Mark!'
      `You don't have to be mean, Gio.'
      `You don't have to bring Mark.'
      `Why do you have to be this way? Meet us at the cathedral,
      then just go away. Nothing more is required of you.'
      The two stood looking at each other, oblivious of the crowds
      rushing past them. The wordless, non-reproachful manner in which
      Elizabeth stood there, meek and humble, showed she was un-
      intimidated. Her warmth enveloped him. He dipped his head, and then
      walked away as if shamed and embarrassed. Never, in all their years
      together, had he raised his voice or yelled at her; he was known for
      his good humor, and too see this quality vanquished disturbed her.
      It was a bad omen.
      Across the street was the Agon Cafe. Inside it was packed;
      the room was filled with boisterous sounds of the heavy lunch-hour
      crowd. Covering the walls photographs of famous dancers: Margot
      Fonteyn, Nijinksy, Allegra Kent, Martha Graham. . . Mark was sitting
      at a table underneath a picture of Villella. As soon as they saw
      each from across the crowded room they waved. Suddenly, Elizabeth
      seized to feel frightened. She felt majestic with Mark. With Mark
      she was happy. He pulled out a chair, saying: `I hope you don't
      mind, but I ordered you a corn-beefed sandwich.'
      She sat. `I love corned beef.'
      `And a Coke. Here's your Coke. I didn't know if you liked
      Coke or not.'
      She sipped the Coke through the candy-cane striped straw
      sticking up from the paper cup. Her cheeks puckered. Then she bit
      the straw and gave him a look exuding admiration and awe.
      `You're great, Mark. Thanks for buying lunch.'
      `Your welcome, rabbit.' His big, workmen hands clutched a
      sandwich. He was seated opposite her, and took a hungry bite that
      filled his mouth. After swallowing he said: `What a morning I've
      had!'
      `Did you visit the sanitarium?'
      `Yes.'
      `How's he doing?'
      `The same. He wouldn't talk and was un-responsive. When he
      did open his eyes, nothing seemed to connect, and he would close them
      again.' Mark sipped his Coke. `I talked to your grandfather,
      Whitney. By the way, he was there at the sanitarium.'
      She seemed startled. `What was he doing there?'
      `Sitting with Ed. What's wrong?'
      `Nothing. I was just surprised. What did you guys discuss?'
      `Ed, mostly. Whitney invited me to his home this afternoon.
      Elizabeth, you didn't tell me he was clairvoyant.'
      `I suppose I haven't, have I, huh?'
      Mark laughed. `You're funny Elizabeth.'
      She reflected on his open face and bright, engaging smile.
      `I guess I've never thought of Whitney as a clairvoyant. To
      me, he just grand dad.'
      `He seems like an awesome personality, almost eerie. I'm
      supposed to be at his estate at 1:30. I hope you don't mind if I
      kick out of here early.'
      `No, I don't mind.' She stared down at her paper plate. She
      hadn`t taken one bite from her sandwich.
      `Are you sure you're all right?' he asked. `You seem sullen.'
      `I'm fine.'
      `No, something is definitely wrong and you're not telling
      me. What's going on? You seem shaken up.'
      His sympathy for her was such that she felt free to tell him:
      `Oh, god, Mark. A lot's going on. Do you think you can come
      back to the city after you're finished talking with my grandfather?
      Please say yes.'
      `I'll come back. No problem.'
      `Meet me in the nave at Saint Mark's Cathedral at 6:30. The
      only thing I ask is that you tell no one about the meeting, not even
      my grandfather, especially my grandfather. If fact, have the
      chauffer drop you off down the block from the cathedral, in front of
      the sanitarium. It's important that no one see you enter the nave.'
      `What's this all about? Are you in trouble?'
      `No, but Giovanni Migliazzo is. It's very complicated. I'll
      explain it to you, tonight.'
      `I'll be there.'
      He finished his lunch and stood up from the table.
      `I'll see you tonight, then, okay?'
      `Bye, bye, Mark.'
      He skirted past a buss boy carrying a tray of dirty dishes.
      Outside the deli, the air was moist and fresh-smelling after last
      night's rain. He slipped on his jacket and haled cab.




      Chapter Eleven of 'Sirius Chronicles,' by Mathew Morrell. Copyright
      2002. All rights reserved.
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