Unfolded Mysteries. Boomer Episode 8 by Dewey Edward Chester. Part Two. American Stories.
Reflection; Episode 8
It was a bright cold day in April, when the clock struck half past twelve. I nuzzled my chin into my breast to escape the vile wind, and then slipped quickly through the doors of the Sycamore Tree Café.
I sat back. A sense of helplessness had descended upon me. To begin with, I didn’t know what year it was. Was it 2013 already? It must be that date since I was sure I was born near the close of the war, but lately I couldn’t pin down any date for sure.
My mind began hovering, but suddenly the magnitude of my crime occurred to me. It had been a strange crime, actually. I had drifted on the sea; across a guerilla world, I discovered, I was a guerilla.
Another thought crept through my mind: Annuit Coeptis.
From my pocket I pulled out a one dollar bill. There! In tiny lettering was that slogan, inscribed on the front. And on the other side, was the face of George. Even from paper money, George’s eyes were watching me; from coins, on stamps, on the covers of books. Everywhere! Always his eyes were watching me. I could find no escape from George’s eyes.
I sat still—–gazing from the café’s window. I watched a ray of sunlight fall yellow on my table. In the background a juke box was playing mood. Suddenly, inside of me, another thought appeared….or was it a memory? But the seconds ticked away…..until a waiter walked over and filled my glass with Scotch.
A violent emotion shook me—–not fear, exactly, but hopeful passion flared up.
I picked up my glass and drained it with one gulp. The Scotch made me shudder then belch.
The waiter brought over a chessboard and city newspaper, but when seeing my glass empty, returned with more Scotch. There was no reason for me to voice my need. The waiter knew my habits. A chessboard and corner table were reserved for me.
The juke box’s music flared up once more, and I cocked my head to listen:
“A place in thy memory, Dear One
Is all that I claim—–!”
Familiar, but I turned my attention to the game before me. I gazed at all of the pieces. It was a tricky game, involving Knights: White Knights to play and mate in two moves. White always mates in two moves, I thought. Without exception this was so arranged. In no chess problem since the beginning of time had Black ever won. White Knights always mate in two moves, were the Rules of the game.
My heart stirred. My mother’s memory tore deep into me. She died loving me. Ours was a private affair, unavoidably individual. Such views did not exist in 2013. Forgotten was dignity. My mother always watched me that way.
I picked up the Black Knight and moved him across the chess board. I drew in a deep breath. There! Was that his proper spot? I struggled within myself.
I put the Black Knight back. I traced my finger on the table. Laura once told me —-“You’re Free, Michael!”
But Laura was gone. George would trap me for a thousand years! I knew the Truth, now.
The Juke box’s music changed, a blue note crept through it. Perhaps a memory, this new song provoked. But the lyrics were familiar:
“A place in thy memory, Dear One
Is all that I claim,
To pause and look back when thou
The sound of my name—–!”
I picked up the Black Knight. But he dropped from my hand.
The waiter brought more Scotch. Something had changed. The juke box was now jeering at me——
“Love, my Dear will soon pass away
Like a balmy breath of a summer’s day.
Love is not, cannot be, ever laid aside
Love is not a thing to forget or hide—–“
I had loved White women. But how could I admit this. If exposed, I would be shot in the head. My mind taken from me.
BANG! Would go a bullet through my head. My brain would be blown to bits.
“Mi-chael?” A White woman called me, from a corner of my mind. “Up here!” she pointed, holding a candle in her hand. Her movements were shadows. But at the top of the stair, she opened a door. “Do you insist on knowing the Truth about us?” she asked.
She drew me inside a room. I shuddered.
“Shut the door,” she whispered.
I glanced around, puzzled. The place was empty. A curtained mirror was all the space contained. But everywhere was a layer of dust. The carpet was riddled with holes. Mildew scent was strong.
“Draw the curtain back,” she ordered but when I balked, she drew it back herself. In shocking detail, was a disembodied head. A dreadful looking face it was—–so ugly and shriveled…and then I recognized…..”Good heavens!” it was myself. But my hair was gone, my eyes were blank. What had happened to me?
The woman said boldly: “Do you feel superior?”
“Of course,” I said.
“Then take off your clothes, and look at yourself in the mirror.”
So I slipped from my pants and bared myself naked before her.
“Come closer!” the woman whispered, “Look in the mirror.”
But I stopped short. A skeletal creature was approaching, and again, I recognized myself!
My face was protruded; my eyes were suspicious and doubtful. My mouth was changed. My determined look was gone. My ribs were showing, my spine had caved in; my knees were thicker than my thighs.
“Look at what you’ve become,” the woman spoke boldly. You’re old, your hair is coming out; look here—–open your mouth—–nine teeth left? You’re rotting!” she declared. Put your clothes back on.”
So I dressed myself, but was she telling me the Truth?
She touched my cheek with her own and said —–“You cannot escape your dreams, Michael.”
But I cried out—-“Look what they’ve done to me.”
She paused, seemed reflective, then said: “Because you love me, they will insult you; make you roll in blood! Make you cry out for mercy.”
My heart froze.
She continued—-“You will continue to live a life of terror, my Love. But your crime must play out. A criminal. A guerilla!
“That is what I promise you, Michael; a pressing upon raw nerves. You fell in love with me, my Love, because you ‘are’ me!!! WE ARE ONE!”
I jerked my head around. A sweat broke out on my forehead. I heard myself cry out to —–“Laura! Laura!”
Had the café’s waiter overheard me, I wondered. For Laura was inside of me, entwined within the texture of my skin.
I sat back and gulped more Scotch. Why had I just voiced my crime? That waiter must have heard me. I was stupid? My thoughts were stupid….like her voice that spoke in my head. If George had heard me cry out for Laura, I was doomed!
I was afraid of George.
I pushed my chessboard aside. I gulped down another glass. I pulled the dollar bill from my pocket and there! In tiny lettering the Rules of the game were inscribed: Annuit Coeptis. And on the other side was George’s face. He would not take kindly my love for, Laura!
“Everything must change
Nothing stays the same
Everyone will change
No one stays the same.
The young become the old
Mysteries do unfold….
For that’s the way of time…
Nothing and no one goes unchanged.