Empty Sky Chapter 5 – Joni Levis

Personal Psychologies

Joni Levis rolled over and buried her head against Virgil’s pillow. Still asleep, she settled herself into the bed and inhaled deeply, pulling in his aromas, his shampoo and sweat, and smiled.

She felt a trill, a tingling contraction, a brief muscle spasm in her vagina. A moment later there was another quiver and she half opened her eyes. Awake, the contractions became more immediate and demanding. She looked at the large, red numerals on her clock: 4:35AM.

Fucking time.

Virgil always woke her up within a few minutes of 4:35AM for a little lovemaking. It didn’t matter if she was turned away, on her back, on her stomach, curled in the covers, facing him or what; always the gentle nudge, the liquid parting, and his lips would be on her, his penis in her. Busy-busy-busy for a few minutes and then asleep once again.

She reached for him and her hand closed on empty sheets. Her eyes opened wide. No Virgil and the bathroom was dark.

“Virgil?”

She turned on the lamp beside her bed. His clothes were gone. The only part of him remaining in her Boston BackBay condo was his scent on her sheets and his necklace around her neck.

“Fuck you, Virgil.”

Her eyes darted around the bedroom and stopped on her reflection in the mirror. “Ugh.” She turned away, pulled her nightshirt down — again! — and crossed her arms over her chest, her body reminding her of a little girl’s that had suddenly sprouted too much boob. She stopped wearing t-shirts with sayings on them because the punchlines were usually in the shade.

She checked herself again. “Ugh.”

She pulled her knees up under the sheets and held them tight against her, rocking slightly. Her hand reached to her nightstand for a cigarette and came up empty.

“Guess today wasn’t the day to quit smoking.”

She’d replaced the ashtray with bowl of cherry Tootsie-Roll Pops. She unwrapped one, crinkled the wrapper, tossed it down on Virgil’s side of the bed, and sucked hard on the round head of candy as it entered her mouth.

“What’re you going to tell me this time?” she asked Virgil’s side of the bed. “You going to tell me you had to go feed your dog? You going to say your friend, ‘Sarah’, couldn’t take care of things tonight and you had to get home?”

She took the lollipop out of her mouth and jabbed it like a pointer at the vacant side of the bed. “You know, people have been telling me to hire a private investigator to find out about you. I’m thinking about it, you know.”

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The Magic Tassels

What we see often determines the magic we possess

There was once a little boy who left his village and returned knowing how to journey the way shaman do. He returned to his people wearing tassels on his wrists and everybody who saw these tassels knew they were magic but nobody said anything to him about them.

Each day, the young boy helped tend the village herds and fields, each evening he ate with the old and not-so-old, the young and not-so-young in the village. He laughed at their jokes and made some of his own, cried at their grief and mourned all of his own.

Finally, one evening, a little girl from the village came to the boy and asked, “Boy, what are those tassels you wear on your arms?”

She did this at the village fire and everyone grew quiet to hear what the big boy would say.

He smiled at the little girl and asked, “What do you see, little one?”

“I see snakes,” she said. “Big, beautiful snakes. Snakes to ride on and carry me away.”

The boy nodded. “Thank you, little girl. Thank you for telling me what these tassels are on my arms. Now I know they are snakes. Thank you very much.”

The little girl smiled and laughed and the grown boy did, too, as the little girl went off to play.

A few nights later one of the oldest men in the village came up to the boy by the village fire and asked, “What are those tassels on your arms, boy?”

“What do you see, Grandfather?” asked the boy.

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The Lonely Oak (a Tale of the Woods)

You understand, don’t you? It’s magic, after all.

 
Once upon a time, in a land almost too far away, there lived a tall, glorious oak. It wasn’t odd at all that a tall, glorious oak should live in this land for this land was a Woods. But this Woods wasn’t like any woods or forests you’ve ever seen before. Here the animals talked and flowers flew and trees moved wherever they needed. This was a magical Woods, unlike most others.

You understand, don’t you? It’s magic, after all.

This tall oak watched all around her. She wasn’t old as oaks go in years, but she was a wise oak just the same. She had been an oak all her life. And all her life she had seen things in the Woods. Good things and bad things, sad things and glad things. And everything she saw she held deep inside, deep where the blood of trees flows from the roots in the ground to the high crown of leaves that brace the sky.

One of the things she’d seen often was the love of others for the trees around her. This made her glad. “Someday,” she thought, “someone will come and love me.”

She waited for some time, through many seasons in fact. But no one came. Many came through the Woods where she lived and spread her leaves, but all that came seemed to prefer the shade of other trees. The tall oak watched this and wondered, “Is there something wrong with my leaves? Or my bark? Perhaps I don’t shade the world as I might?”

None of this was true of course. The oak’s leaves were among the most beautiful in the Woods. Her bark was clean and smooth and ran straighter than many other trees. Her shade was a peaceful relief to the small creatures that sought shelter under her.

It’s magic, after all.

 
But all this wonderful oak saw was the scores of others resting under other trees. “Perhaps I’m too tall a tree?”

And so, despite the fact that she was a beautiful oak, she let her boughs drop to her sides and twisted her trunk slightly, trying to make herself smaller in the Woods.

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The Augmented Man – Opening Quotes, Surface, In

The horrors of war never stay on the battlefield. They always come home.

The ideal experimental animal is man. Whenever it is possible, man should be selected as the test animal. The clinical researcher must bear in mind the fact that, if he wishes to understand human ills, he must study man. No researches are more interesting, more satisfying and more lucrative than those performed on man. Hence, it is up to us to forge ahead in our research on the most developed of animals: man.
— Mèdecine et Hygiéne, #637, April 1964

In all events, a healthy man does not have the right to be a volunteer for an operation which will certainly lead to a mutilation of the human body, or a serious and lasting deterioration of health. The patient cannot abandon to the doctor all rights to his body, over which he himself has only the right of usufruct.
— Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, Pope Pius XII

This experimentation can only be applied to informed volunteers who are completely free to accept or to refuse it, and can only be performed by a highly qualified person capable of reducing the risks incurred to a minimum.
— Acadèmie de Mèdecine

It is known that free consent is relatively rare. An atmosphere of suggestion, of persuasion, can easily be created, which will succeed in influencing the personality. Naturally, more effective means of pressure can be applied to subjects who are prisoners…This mentality appears to us to be rooted in a regression and a return to the mentality of human sacrifice characteristic of ancient paganism, of those human sacrifices made for a new idol…
— Psychopathologie expèrimentale, Professor Henri Paruk, P.U.F.

Senator Martha Astin (R.MA): “It sounds like you’re making nightmare monsters.”
Captain James Donaldson, ONI COS: “Yes, Senator. I am.”
Senator Martha Astin (R.MA): “And where do you get these monsters, Captain?”
Captain James Donaldson, ONI COS: “Well, ma’am, you start with those who are afraid of monsters.”
— transcript, Gang of Eight Advisory Committee, 310815-1437FF, ONI 17901

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O’ Happy Day!

Old men and their Suburu Foresters. You gotta love ’em

O’ Happy Day!

Cenelli pulled his aging Forester into the driveway and waited. He kept his hands on the wheel, his fingers tapping, keeping time to the rapid beating of his heart.

O’ Wondrous Happy Day!

He’d worked in secret for so long and today was the day!

Many times good neighbor Andy came over and asked how Cenelli was doing since Effie passed.

“Doing fine. Working on something special in the basement.”

Each time Andy asked about the special project Cenelli winked. “It’s a secret.”

Andy smiled and nodded. He’d invite Cenelli over for a game of cards or some ice tea. Andy’s wife Betty made her ice tea just sweet enough to give you a good, shivering chill on these hot summer days.

“Betty’s asking for you, Ed. You should come over for dinner sometime.”

“Can’t. Working on something special. It’s a secret.”

It took a bit of doing.

 
Andy and Betty were frequent guests when Effie was alive. Cenelli gave Andy a tour of his basement workshop once.

Andy looked around like a kid in a candy store, his eyes almost as wide as his smile as he pointed to each of Cenelli’s tools. “What’s the name of that? What’s that one do?”

Cenelli made a weathervane out of scrap metal while Andy watched.

“I never knew what a tool and die maker did. This is amazing. Betty,” he called up the stairs, “you’ve got to see what Ed can do.”

All those years talking to Effie, asking her advice, taking her suggestions, talking to her picture after she passed — Effie explained that Andy wouldn’t understand what Ed had done, that he should take his project on the road, do something special to get someone interested.

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