Government Shutdown & Three Things Episode 20

English: Rainbow

“In the middle of a difficulty, lies opportunity…” Albert Einstein

Personal friends and those who know me from LinkedIn have expressed kind concern over whether or not the “government shutdown” will effect my employment and the roof over my head.  That job is my only source of income.  So far it has not impacted my livelihood.

I count myself fortunate that regardless of how it impacts my job, I will not have to go to my workplace and do my job without being paid.  That has happened to many, including groups who put their very lives on the line, like the Capitol Police.

I promise you that if the shutdown does affect me, I will do everything I possibly can to find opportunity in my situation.

Now to the point… episode 20 of the serial.  Our little 1920’s story is set in Florida. Today’s things come from another peninsula state — Michigan.  You can do catch-up reading where the entire story lives at The Three Things Serial page.

20.  Medical Bill, Confirmation, Military

The man had an authoritative manner and was dressed in very expensive looking clothes.  He had what they called presence.  The white-haired woman murmured something that was lost in a sob.  “Don’t worry about that either,” the man told her in a kind voice.  “Besides, there won’t be any medical bill.  There’s more than one doctor here today.”

A teenager with an alarmed expression on his face came running toward them.  Clearly he’d heard all the ruckus.  At first I thought he wore a military uniform, but then I realized he was some kind of servant, dressed in livery.

In a calm voice the man instructed, “Go fetch a doctor.”

“Yes, Mr. Ringling,” the young man said, and ran away.

Frankie and I exchanged astonished looks.  Even though we had just seen a picture of this very yacht moored at the Ca’d’Zan mansion, I was amazed to think I was standing a few feet away from a celebrity like John Ringling!

The white-haired woman lifted her head and stood a little straighter.  I could see her profile.  The first thing I noticed was a bit of blood and a bruise at her temple.  I was sure that bump to the head didn’t come by accident.  Then my eyes just about popped out of my head.  Her profile — it was the spitting image of Boris!

No wonder the “ballerina” had acted so funny back at the Nickelodeon Theatre, when he saw this woman and the group of Russian dignitaries.  Even then I wondered if Boris was connected to that group, though he refused to discuss it.  Right then and there I was sure I had confirmation.  The white-haired woman had to be a relative; probably a close one.  I wondered if she might be his grandmother.

However, this old woman looked like she was well off.  Boris wouldn’t be living in the building with the rest of us if he was from money.  The building owner had a soft spot for people trying to better themselves.  Even though the building was supposed to be for office space, he let us live there if we at least went through the motions of having our own businesses.  It wasn’t the nicest place to live, but he let us rent the suites for a song.

Despite her wealthy appearance, the woman appeared to have said something to indicate she didn’t have the money to pay a doctor.  Maybe, I speculated, she had been wealthy but had fallen on hard times.  There was plenty of that going around with the land bust.  Or maybe Boris had a falling out with his family and they’d cut him off.

My speculation was cut short when the yacht’s owner, John Ringling, turned and looked at Frankie and me questioningly.

Kokopelli’s Daughter

My personal time this week has gone to a short-short story.  A challenge was issued to write a story that must include honesty vs. deceit, a trickster, a bag, and a decietful activity. The story had to be 500 to 1,000 words, no more.  So I decided to come out and play!

Kokopelli’s Daughter

I nudged the accelerator of the yellow MG Midget. My pride and joy, the 1928 M-Type, I’d had it since it was new. One of the few cars that let me reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel, I wasn’t about to give it up. Yes, I’m that short.

After all these years the MG still looked brand spankin’ new. Okay, so it’s had a little help along the way. I didn’t look any closer to my age than the car did. You could say I chose my parents well. Or not. I was doomed to have warring impulses and burning thoughts. Ever compelled to trick someone or engage in some deceit, I tried to only do it for their own good. Sometimes it went bad and I was equally driven to fix the results.

I squinted into the morning light. Heading east I zoomed down the road to the Black Rock Desert. It was like driving into one of my father’s paintings, surrounded by colors of sage, dusty purple, and slate gray. Was that my quarry a head? I’d lost him during the night. I’d followed the old guy in the Stetson “Open Road” style hat all the way from San Francisco. From the beginning I had more than a sneaking feeling that codger was up to something.

I’d been sitting at an outdoor table of a Haight Ashbury restaurant having tea. I put down the post card I’d just read for the hundredth time, and opened my gig bag to remove the colorful flute. It was a gift from my father. The whimsical instrument fit right in with the setting, and I considered playing. That’s when the old guy in the Stetson showed up. He sat down at the next table but no one waited on him. He started making small talk and mentioned the postcard. “Greece? You got family there, young lady?”

Being deceitful by nature, I accepted the young lady part, though it was far from true. I didn’t correct him, just nodded and handed him the postcard. He read “Wish you were here,” then “Love, Themis.”

“From my mother.”

Bobbing his head knowingly, he asked, “Wasn’t Themis the Greek goddess of Justice?” I could tell he already knew the answer. Then he scrutinized my very dark glasses. “And wasn’t Justice blind?” He looked from the dark glasses to my flute and back again.

With a smile I told him that I wasn’t blind, just extra sensitive to light. I didn’t tell him my mother was blind. “I’m just an ordinary flute player,” I lied.

“Well, whistle up something then,” he said. I knew he could tell I itched to play.

It was early and business was slow so I shouldn’t attract mischief, though that’s what usually happened when I played. I put the flute to my lips and started a lilting tune. The manager didn’t mind and some of the staff stopped to listen. The old guy tapped his foot to the rhythm of my song while two of the servers danced, locked in an embrace, and oblivious to his presence. Then he took off his Stetson. Inside was a 7 3/8” size tag, with some folded bills tucked behind it. He wriggled his eyebrows in what seemed like a challenge, and then dropped the bills into my open bag, still tapping his foot to the beat.

When I finished the song I looked down at the cash he’d left. I gasped. It was a huge amount of money. More than I could accept. I raised my head to protest, but he was gone. I looked in every direction. He wasn’t anywhere. For once the trick had been played on me. Hours later I spotted the old guy rounding a corner. And I had been following him ever since — from San Francisco through Nevada.

The old guy had a shiny old car. It looked just as new as my 1928 MG. The only vehicle between us was a tractor trailer. Eventually I realized that he was letting me catch sight of him, just often enough that I didn’t lose him completely. That’s when I understood the wriggly eyebrow challenge. He knew my sense of justice would compel me to return that enormous wad of cash, and he was too much of a trickster to just tell me what was on his mind.

He stopped in the middle of the road. The eighteen-wheeler ploughed right through his car and kept going. I pulled onto the shoulder and walked to the gleaming undamaged car.

“So you’re a thought form,” I stated, “but what influx of burning thoughts would create you and cause you to travel here?”

KokopelliHe shrugged. “My desire to support my son. Each year I begin this trek from San Francisco to the Black Rock Desert. I don’t leave until the last effigy is ashes,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. “When I saw you at the café, I knew there was purpose for you here. Though they don’t always realize it, many souls come here searching for inner truth. Enlightenment. Not just for outrageous whimsy. You are uniquely suited to help them. Daughter of Justice to set things right; daughter of eternal trickster, Kokopelli, to charm them into willingly getting on whatever path that is right for them. How could you resist the Burning Man festival?”

Burning Man, I pondered. And a thought form made of the burning thoughts of one man who, in truth, had wanted to encourage and support his son. Perhaps he was right. I could imagine both Kokopelli and Themis feeling at home at the festival.


Copyright 2012 – 2013 Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene.  All rights reserved.