Dark but not



Jack woke with the idea that it was a dark and rainy night.  It wasn't.  He had fallen asleep in the cellar, Aunt Bess didn't know he was there and turned out the lights, and the sound or rain was actually Aunt Bess flushing the toilet next to the kitchen. This was just the beginning or the irrelevant day his gods had prepared for him.  The feeling he had when he brushed his teeth, was one of impending doom.  After his first cup of coffee and an excellent bowel movement, doom was no longer impending and the sun was beginning to rise. A random and shabby crow landed on the kitchen window sill and stared at Jack as he eat his oatmeal.  He didn't notice.  He had an appointment with his doctor at eight, and was worried about the brain cancer he believed to reside in what he erroneously called Broca's Area.  His headaches were located just above his left ear. This is actually Wernicke's Area, which doesn't matter. Jack wears glasses.  He prefers the type with wire arms which wrap behind the ears.  He feels safer this way.  His doctor knew this, but CAT scans are cool and expensive and Jack could afford it, so the doctor decided to have some fun.

It was a quarter past nine when the receptionist called his name.  Jack was pale.  He was certain it was terminal and had spent the night dreaming of potential end games. When the doctor came into the examining room, he asked Jack to take off his shirt and glasses.  The doctor began showing him the pictures of his brain and explaining all of the different areas and their functions.  Jack was becoming impatient.  He finally blurted "Just show me the goddammed cancer."  The doctor smiled. "How's the pain now, Jack?"  Jack thought for a second.  "It's not there" he said with a look of bewilderment.  "That's right, Jack.  It's not. Get your frames adjusted and stop sleeping with your glasses on.  Your brain is perfectly normal, at least from a physical standpoint.  You'll need someone other than a country doctor to fill you in on its contents.  Now, have a nice day and stop worrying."

Jack was bewildered, elated, amused, and embarrassed.  He was also hungry.  He drove down to the diner outside of town and had a cheeseburger, and then another.  He washed them down with apple pie and coffee then went back to his workshop in the basement.  Aunt Bess was off on one of her many missions of mercy, this time, saving pagan babies from starvation by selling cookies at the church. She was a nice person.  Jack stayed with Aunt Bess when he was in the area because she had a big cellar where he could work on his sculpture.  He didn't need a lot of room, because nothing he made was more than four inches high, but it made him feel good, despite the fact that some of the best stuff he'd done had been created in his bedroom back home in the one-room house he built in the woods.  Jack like the number one.  He believed it to be the key to the universe. This meant Douglas Adams was off by a bit.  Jack had a lot of sources to back him up.  Christian mystics, Sufis, Zen monks, scholars, all pointed to the oneness of all things.  Jack figured it was just the old levels of complexity argument that got in the way of the social scientists.  Even physics was starting to get it right with the experiments on time an causality, so he was feeling pretty good about himself.

He was working on a little Buddha figure (which, in his view of things, meant everything was Buddha) which looked a lot like his old dog Bud.  Bud had been among the non-visible on this plane of existence for what Jack liked to call 'about umpteen earth years'.  Visible or not, Bud was still a part of Jack's view of things.  His favorite tool was a small gouge which he used to do everything except make straight lines.  He felt straight lines were unnatural and not a part of the real character of oneness, even though the number one was basically, a straight line.  Working on his dog, the Buddha, and denying the abstract and artificial limitations of the normal conception of space and time made him tired, so he took a nap.

When he woke, it actually was a dark and rainy night, and Aunt Bess wasn't home yet.  Jack called the church and they told him she'd left four hours before.  He called her friends and the hospitals, and finally, the police.  He was on his way down the street to the police station when a patrol car pulled over to the curb and his old buddy Huey called him to the window.  "She's in San Jose, California Jack.  Your uncle Gus said she just showed up on his doorstep, looking kind of confused. She doesn't know how she got there, but there she is."

This was odd.  With Homeland Security and purple alerts, it took four hours to get on a plane.  Then it took six hours to get to California and another couple to get through Homeland Security again, and anyway, Bess didn't carry more than ten dollars with her, didn't have a credit card, and was afraid to fly. They called the local airport and she wasn't listed on a flight going anywhere. Then Jack remembered his dream.  He had been thinking about Bess while he was working on the Bud Buddha and what he could do for her to make her happy, even though she was happier than anyone he knew of, including himself.  She had always wanted to go to California to visit Gus, but her fear of flying held her back and the bus ride was too much for her bad back.  That's when he fell asleep and just kind of put her there.  He wracked his brain for anything else, but there was just Bess, standing on Gus' doorstep. 

Several Bud Buddhas and several dreams later, the world was smiling.  Jack was moving people around in time and space, letting them see things they'd always wanted to see and it was not that hard.  He just carved, slept, and dreamed.

About a year after Jack started this activity, he was camped out in the Adirondack around Blue Mountain Lake, canoing around the thousands of miles of water and having a good time imagining good things to do for people.  He was sitting in front of the campfire in the early evening darkness of the late autumn when the bushes rustled and five guys who looked like refugees from a B movie came into the clearing. They were all wearing bush gear like you saw in the old Tarzan movies, complete with hats, canvas rucksacks, khaki jackets,shirts, and pants.  Jack thought this was an interesting dream until he realized they were real and actually standin around the fire, staring at him.

"You guys like a cup of coffee?" asked Jack, the ever gracious host.  "Much of interest to talk about, Master Jack. Coffee will help.  Thank you." was the response of the one in the middle who Jack though might be Japanese.  The all sat down in the half-lotus position around the fire and Jack began taking notes.  Japanese, Middle Eastern, three Caucasian.  Nice mix.  Two beards, one attached to a head wearing a yarmulka under the Massa Bwana hat.  Well, it could be worse, thought Jack, one of them could be a woman.  Which was when the sixth appeared.  "Sorry team, but when you've got to...." she stopped short because the Japanese guy held up a finger, the little one, on his right hand.

"Master Jack" began the Japanese, who was beginning to look more like Bud as he got comfortable, "you have been doing some nice things, but we've come to ask you to stop.  You're upsetting the karmic balance and if you do something nice for the wrong guy, it's going to make a big problem for us."

"Geez" said Jack wistfully, "I'm sorry about the karmic balance and all, but I can't help what I dream.  Oh, yeah, by the way, who constitutes the 'us' I'm goin to make a big problem for?"

"First, I tell you my name is Bubba.  I am abbot of the zen monastery on the Polish end of the island of Usedom in the Baltic.  Lot of people come for the salt air, some for enlightenment.  It's fun. OK.  You know all about me know, so you gonna trust me.  Us is the onesuchness, Jack.  It's supposed to do it's own thing so it can come and go as it pleases, but you making it come and go as it pleases you.  The little dream trick is somethin we are only supposed to use on the current instance of self, not on connected dots or even the connections.  You see?"

Jack shook his head in a definitive Yes and said "No." 

"OK, buddy.  I talk too much like zen guy.  Maybe Sister Leocardia make better sense."  He nooded to Jungle Jane who was dressed exactly like the other five except for a pretty good looking pair of snake bite boots, and probably her underwear, but Jack didn't want to think about that.  Sister Leocardia, being a redhead, and one of that deep auburn color that made Jack's sun shine brightly, already had his attention.

"First of all, Jack, forget the hair.  The color's out of a bottle.  It's really mousey brown. Now, here's the problem: what you're doing is folding the space-time fabric in gentle little loops that are not big enough to make a difference on the universal scale, but could actually be affecting the past in a way that can have a very large end-effect on one of the futures it's linked to.  Does this make sense to you?"

Jack nodded and qualified with "Similiar to the atomic clock and sub-atomic particle experiments. I never thought of that."  Leocardia smiled.  "Good, Jack.  Good enough. Now, the real problem is that there is a future bad guy in your time slice who you've befriended and are about to do something nice for.  You are thinking about giving him a Papal Visitation chit because the Pope is his hero.  So far, so good, but Bubba's been around the next curve in time and your little friend stabs the old guy to death in front of the whole world, on live TV.  End result there is a mean little old Italian takes center stage, insults Muslims, Jews, and even the Dalai Lama, gets enormous popular backing and ends up running the Catholic Church like one of the Bush family."

"You're talking about Tommy Gaughan".  Jack couldn't believe this one.  He already knew who these guys were.  He'd read their stuff, talked to some of the people who had worked with them.  He trusted their thinking, but Tommy?  "What makes you think it's him?" Leocardia turned to Bubba, and Bubba tuned to one of the caucasians, the one with the beard without the yarmulka.  "I'm Mike, Jack.  Russian Orthodox monk from up the mountain from your Aunt Bess' place.  I was in Rome when it happened, with Bubba, working on translating some documents that have been gathering dust since the second world war.  Bubba came down to the archives and took me up to the audience room in case there was anything we could do, but the fold was there and we couldn't change it. There's a certain mental configuration that can't accept mystical experience for what it is and has to assign a cause to it.  Tommy's like that.  If you actually moved him through space and time a plopped him in front of the Pope, he'd think he was evil on a mission.  It happened to Rasputin and a lot of other guys from my bunch, as well as Catholics, Buddhists, Sufis, and Essenes, and on and on.  It's something we've been able to identify and assemble a protocol for recognizing.  Tommy fits the profile.  But Tommy's just to get your attention."

Jack was beginning to lose his concentration.  "You had my attention, Mike, but it's starting to move into the dream world." 

Mike frowned.  "Jack, stay here, please.  Another one of your dreams and we're going to need to call in reinforcements.  Tommy's just an example of how things can go bad.  It won't happen now that you know, and Bubba's here to teach you to read people."

Jack was back, and ready to listen.  He could control the dreams if he could focus without zoning. He was learning fast.  Bubba came over and sat beside him.  "Picture your Aunt Bess and Uncle Gus going to the market.  Now picture a gang of kids, maybe eight kids, all boys, all twelve or thirteen years old. Tough kids, with tatoos and stuff. Now they're bugging Gus about that funny hat he wears. The one that makes him look like Walter Matthau at the race track.  Gus laughs it off, they get in the car and drive away.  Now picture Gus and the kids alone.  He doesn't have Bess to keep him calm. He ges mad.  He gets killed.  Alternative realities. You affect them.  Maybe it doesn't make a big difference all the time, but sometimes, BOOM.  I did it once in California.  The guy talked like a saint, so I let him be one.  He made some real bad karma.  Mike did it too.  It's part of the learning process.  Now you're going to learn how to control it."

It was very late when they were finished.  The rest of the safari crew were curled up in sleeping bags around the fire.  Jack and Bubba did the same.  When the woke, it was a nice day for a walk. They went into town, ate breakfast, got chuckled at by the locals, except for Leocardia, who got ogled at, and then packed into Bubbas SUV and headed for the city.  Jack hadn't been to New York since he was a kid and wondered out loud if they were appropriately dressed.  Bubba chuckled and said "Not yet." 

They pulled up in front of a large brownstone in upper Manhattan. Bubba waved a remote control thing around and a big door opened up that used to be a brick wall and they drove into an underground parking lot that looked a little like the NORAD place in the mountain up North in Idaho or Montana or wherever they keep it.  Bubba parked and they got in the elevator and went down for what seemed like a long time.  When the doors opened Jack was stuck with wow.  This was a very interesting place.  It still had that NORAD quality about it with computer screens all over the place, but it was like NORAD inside the temple at Ankgor Wat.  They went into a room off the main hall and Jack thought they might have gone through a time warp to his high school locker room. 
"Yours is over there, your name's on the door.  Stop looking for Leoardia.  She has a private dressing room.  Put on the gray robe." Mike's little joke made Bubba laugh.  Leocardia, on the other side of the wall, was blushing.

They all met-up again in the refectory, ate the mandatory fish and rice, did some praying in different languages and musical styles, then Bubba, his mouth full of a Twinky that appeared magically from under his robe, began to give a lecture about the onesuchness, quoting Meister Eckhart, Basho, and Rumi.  Jack had already read all of that stuff and was wondering why Bubba was repeating it when he noticed he was alone.  Or wasn't.  Cool.

There weren't any bodies anywhere, not even his own.  Jack didn't know he could do that.  Cool again. He wanted to say something about it but was surprised to here all of the other voices, including what sounded like his own, saying "we know you know".  He didn't know where this was leading until he realized they were there.  They were on the beach on the island of Usedom, sitting in beach chairs, watching the German army march by, all decked out in swastikas and other nasty stuff, like the lighting bolts on this little guy's collar.  "Himmler." said Bubba.  "Our subjet for the day. We need to know what he had for dinner last night.  He connects food with action plans.  If it was fish, he's gonna be going to Swinemünde to do something about U-Boats.  If it was fowl, he's on his way to Peenemünde to do something about rockets.  If it was pork, a lot of Jews are going to die today."

Jack didn't think about it.  He just said it.  "Fish.  Red bass filet."  Bubba smiled.  Good.  After luch, we head east.
  .

copyright 2007-2010: john zavacki (the elder)