IF YOU ARE ON A CELL PHONE, THE ADDED FEATURES (PLATFORMS, SHORT STORIES, YEAR AHEAD, ETC.) CAN BE ACCESSED FROM THE TOP LEFT HAND CORNER (STACKED LINES). ALSO, THE ‘TRANSLATE’ & WORLD CLOCK WILL APPEAR AT THE BOTTOM.
*** All times / dates: Please remember that all time references (e.g., “dawn”) are PDT – Pacific Daylight Time zone. You can refer to the World Clock in the sidebar for more listings or Google ‘time zone converter’.
(NOTE: the phone # under “Readings” above, has been fixed. Sorry for the confusion.)
START NOTHING:11:57 am to 6:09 pm Mon., 9:13 am to 9:30 am Thurs., and 8:41 pm Fri. to 3:11 am Sat,
ALL SIGNS: Start nothing new before May 15 — no new relationships, projects, nor important purchases. Instead, stick with the ongoing — or reprise a past bond, project or “missed purchase/missed opportunity.” For some, old flames will re-appear; for others, former income sources will “arrive.” During this period, watch for mistakes, delays and “no shows.” Make sure you have needed supplies on hand, and make a list before you go out on errands or shopping. As Mercury retrogrades (the cause of all this) 24 hours after the Sun enters Taurus, you Taurus people might revive an old source of $, or a former romance, over the whole year ahead.
Well, I should tell you what happened with my plan to own REITS through this tangled market, with rising Interest rates. I lost about $ 80,000. Great plan, eh? Maybe more on this later…
ARIES: March 21-April 19
This is your last week of high-octane energy, Aries. Your good luck and potential adventurous break-throughs last to mid-May, but you might have to spend that time revising what you’ve already accomplished. So go all out this week, Sunday to Wednesday. (After this, grow cautious, double-check facts, figures, addresses.) Thursday starts a month of buying/selling, boosted income, casual intimacy, and memorization tasks. Friction remains in family, security, property affairs — be gentle. Relations with the gov’t (or administration at your workplace) will be slow, onerous for the next 3 years, so be diplomatic.
Lie low, rest, ponder and plan Sunday to suppertime Monday (PDT). A smooth, easy interval. Your energy and charisma, effectiveness and clout are strong Monday night through Wed. Push your projects, esp. Wed. — you’re going places! Be gentle at home Tues. Chase $, buy/sell Thurs./Fri. — caution Thurs. For the next 20 years, your wishes and social life will not co-operate with your money drives — keep them separate. Saturday’s for errands, paperwork — pm best.
TAURUS: April 20-May 20
Rest, lie low, ponder and plan, contact charitable or spiritual orgs, the first 4 days of this week, Taurus. By Thursday, you start a month of energy, charisma and clout. You will be very, very determined over the weeks ahead to advance your cause, but read the “PREAMBLE” above. You’re sharing secrets until late May, can learn a lot about management. Your money picture looks sweet, 2 more weeks.
Sunday to suppertime Monday (PDT) are wishful, hopeful, happy. But retreat Monday night through Wed. Rest, ponder, plan. Careful with communications Tuesday. Big things are lucky things Wed. Your energy and charisma surge upward Thursday/Friday — for a month. Act Thurs. pm (not am) and Fri. Saturday’s for $, shopping, casual sex, learning. Accept “slowness” before lunchtime.
GEMINI: May 21-June 20
This is your last week (well, 4 days) of celebration, hope, wishes, popularity and friendly love, Gemini. Thursday begins a month of quietude, rest, weariness, pondering and planning. Read ‘ALL SIGNS” above. Use the first 4 days to chase your goals — ambitious, status ones Sun./Mon., love, social ones Monday night through Wed. Altho’ everything is “turning backwards” late this week to mid-May, you might be starting a late, lucky something Wed.
Money flows to you (and away) until late May — conserve, reduce spending. Communications are affectionate to May 7. Much of what you’ve started, accomplished in the last 10 months comes up for review soon — remember, some of this was very valuable. A major wish can still come true, until mid-May!
Sun./Mon. Are for ambition. Tuesday/Wednesday bring popularity, flirting, joy. You and another might entwine. But retreat, lie low and rest, ponder and plan Thurs./Fri. Caution before noon, Thurs. Friday’s great. Your energy and charisma rise Saturday — better late.
CANCER: June 21-July 22
The accent remains on ambition, worldly standing and prestige relations, Cancer — until Thursday, when you enter 4 weeks of “celebration” — happiness, optimism, friendly flirting, popularity and entertainment. Start nothing new before May 14. Delays, mistakes characterize the next 3 weeks, esp. in management, gov’t links, trips and communications. (Despite this, you’ll be warmly welcomed in management and gov’t zones.) A former lover or “special friend” is likely to re-appear before mid-May. You’re filled with sexual magnetism — be assertive, but not too aggressive (Thursday).
Far travel, higher learning, law, culture, media fill Sunday to suppertime Monday. (All’s well — proceed confidently.) Then through Wednesday, display your skills, be ambitious — a step up quite possible Wed! Thursday starts a month of happiness and hope, but also starts 3 weeks of “backward motion,” delays and “no shows,” etc. (Read “ALL SIGNS” above.)
LEO: July 23-Aug. 22
Your last 4 days of intellectual pondering, higher learning, law, cultural venues, far travel and media involvements, Leo. Thursday will start a month of ambition, prestige relations and worldly standing, while Friday begins 3 weeks of delays, mistakes, second thoughts, and indecision in the same zone of ambition. (Read “ALL SIGNS” above.) A former boss, job, or prestige might return for a “second run.” Watch for “messages” from the past. Friends gather, your popularity gently rises.Strictly avoid dark alleys and dangerous situations — and crooked tax collectors — until May 20. (And this Tuesday.)
Secrets, subsurface currents, lust, power urges, and financial commitment/consequence fill Sunday to suppertime Monday. Yes, invest, commit. (Be honest/moral in sex.) Big ideas, law/ethics, far travel, media and cultural venues — and love — these expand, welcome you, late Monday through Wed. It might be your last chance to grab something big here (though all are very favoured until mid-May). Be ambitious Thurs./Fri., when a whole month of prestige relations and ambition begins.
VIRGO: Aug. 23-Sept. 22
Only 4 days left of mystery, secrets, lust (for power, too) research, life changes, medical concerns, and large finances. This trend or “stream” is highlighted suppertime Monday through Wed. (Don’t invest, seek intimacy, etc. Tuesday; but do charge after these Wednesday — possible BIG beneficial result.) Higher-ups are affectionate, favour you (until May 7). Males befriend you until May 20, but females will join your “popularity wagon” May 8 to early June. So May 8 to 20 should be ultra-interesting, romantically. Thursday begins a month of higher learning, law, far travel, International consciousness, religion, culture, media — and gentle love. These matters, though afflicted by a period of delays and mistakes, Thursday to May 14, are an excellent opportunity to study your situation and prepare for the great social luck to arrive late May to June of 2024.
Relationships make Sunday to supper Monday exciting. All’s smooth, so approach him/her, make a suggestion. Fresh horizons and general opportunities arrive, also. Be cautious Thursday, but charge ahead this eve through Friday. Be ambitious Saturday, but wait until after noon to display skills or chase a promotion/position. (Read “ALL SIGNS” above.)
LIBRA: Sept. 23-Oct. 22
Relationships remain exciting, promising, Libra. Ditto far places, relocation themes and general opportunities. But only through Wed. By Thursday, a month of commitment, secrets, consequences, major finances, medical concerns and lifestyle changes. These won’t be hugely successful, as delays, mistakes and indecision exist until May 14. But this area will become hugely fortunate for you for a whole year, starting May 16/23. Before Thursday, Monday eve through Wednesday raise relationship prospects to a fortunate peak. Whoever appears before 3:13 pm PDT Tuesday will make a poor mate. After this, esp. Wednesday, the “true” love prospects arrive. (Ditto agreements, public dealings, and business opportunities.) If possible, jump in! Bosses are impatient until May 20 — grin and bear it, DON’T push them.
Tackle chores and protect your health Sunday to suppertime Mon. Mid-week is outlined above. Thursday/Friday not only start a new phase of involvement/commitment, they might bring something rewarding from the past. Don’t “bite” before noon Thursday. This night and Wednesday, you could “capture” a beneficial relationship or opportunity. Saturday’s for pondering, foreign-born people, higher learning, law, far travel, media and cultural venues, and love. Act after noon (PDT) — love, attraction grow stronger as Sunday pre-dawn approaches.
SCORPIO: Oct. 23-Nov. 21
Remain in hard work mode, Scorpio — but only for 4 more days, as Thursday starts a month of relationships, relocation themes, and general opportunities (including fame). (The work won’t really dissolve until mid-May, but between then and now — e.g., this Wednesday — “work” could offer a great reward such as a promotion.) Strictly avoid lawsuits before May 20. The upcoming relationship period (Thursday to May 14) will likely feature an “old flame” or a returning opportunity.
Sunday to suppertime Monday fills you with romantic notions, creative surges and the desire to chase an adventurous goal. All’s well, so dive in. Monday night through Wednesday brings even more work, perhaps a very lucky workload, with unusual, extra payment. Careful Tuesday; leap on good fortune Wed. The relationship month begins Thursday/Friday. Thursday morning (PDT) is for destruction; after this, and Friday, success is within reach. Saturday brings life’s secret side, including sexual intimacy and financial strategies, medical and lifestyle choices — slow, poor results before noon, then good fortune affects your efforts, right into Sunday.
SAGITTARIUS: Nov. 22-Dec. 21
Four more days of romance, Sage, as Thursday starts a month of chores and minor health concerns. Mercury retrogrades the next day, Friday, bringing a few weeks of indecision, mistakes, delays and no shows. So read instructions twice, check facts/figures and addresses. Make sure you have enough supplies. Your financial and sexual sides intensify until May 20, so be disciplined, not impulsive, with investments and intimacy. Work, though a bit chaotic, is pleasant until early May. If you ask someone marry you, they’ll probably say yes.
Sunday to suppertime Monday nudges you toward home, family, rest, property. A good interval. Do rest deeply. Romance comes ‘round Monday suppertime (PDT) through Wed. Romance won’t work before late afternoon Tuesday, but it succeeds — perhaps mightily — Wed. (And it’s fortunate until mid-May.) If you’re not in the romance market, the same influences apply to creative, speculative efforts, sports, gambling, and the pursuit of beauty or pleasure — Wednesday best. Thursday/Friday give you chores. Protect your health. Don’t tackle those chores until after noon hours Thurs., and all day Fri. Saturday brings relationships (one important one) but dullness afflicts Saturday until noon. As night unfolds, sweet attraction grows.
CAPRICORN: Dec. 22-Jan. 19
The sluggish, want-to-nap feeling lasts only 4 more days, Cap. Thursday starts a whole month of romance, creative and speculative projects, beauty and pleasure. (But read “ALL SIGNS” above. In your case, the slowdown primarily affects work/chores and far travel, legal/ethical concerns.) Relationships of all kinds intensity until May 20. Be diplomatic! Expect a lot of communication about love or a creative project. A former flame likely to re-appear. Your work place will be pleasant, friendly until May 7.
Sunday to Monday suppertime nudges you into errands, communications, paperwork — dive in, get it done. All’s well. Monday night through Wednesday both heightens and “solves” a domestic situation. Careful to late afternoon Tuesday — but charge ahead this eve and Wednesday. You could obtain a promotion or pay raise. A great time to buy a new home, though this “lucky window” lasts until mid-May. Romance, creative and speculative projects fill Thursday (good after noon, not before, PDT) and Friday (good all day). Tackle chores Saturday — sluggish until noon, then easy, enjoyable.
AQUARIUS: Jan. 20-Feb. 18
A month of errands, casual contacts, curiosity, short trips, communications and paperwork — not a really important month, Aquarius — ends Thursday. This day onward, for 30 days, will feature home, property, security. (And gives strong hints of where your good fortune will reside in the 12 months ahead.) You’ll be talking a lot about domestic plans, etc. — but read “ALL SIGNS” above before starting anything. Romance, creativity amuse you through May 6. Your work is hard and intense until May 20. Use this to renovate, decorate or repair your home.
Sunday to suppertime Monday features $, buying/selling, angling for a pay raise — all’s good! Monday night through Wednesday brings errands, short trips, communications and paperwork. Careful Tuesday — charge ahead this night and Wed. In domestic affairs, Thursday is bad to after lunch, then good. Friday’s fortunate all day. Both days focus on home, family, security. Saturday’s for romance — but don’t chase it until well after lunchtime. (Hot date Sat. night?)
PISCES: Feb. 19-March 20
Only 4 days left of a money, buy/sell, and rote learning period, Pisces. Thursday begins a month of errands, swift, easy chores, communications, short trips and paperwork. (And this month is a precursor of 12 months of the same.) Read “ALL SIGNS” above in the PREAMBLE. Your money luck, though, will last into mid-May, so don’t be afraid of asking for a pay raise, etc. in the weeks ahead. (One potent time is this Monday night through Wednesday. Tuesday might be difficult in the afternoon, but this eve and Wednesday hold a money plum that you can pluck.) Romance is intense until May 20. Home, family treat you affectionately — the rash actions or arguments of winter are over.
Your energy and charisma soar Sunday to late afternoon Monday. See above for Monday night through Wed. Thursday/Friday bring errands, paperwork, short trips, communications — and begin a month of the same. Spend Saturday at home, with kids. Wait until after noon (PDT) to attempt anything. This night’s sweet.
It tells you all you need to know about America today: a 21-year old has been indicted under the espionage act for leaking “highly classified” information about the war in Ukraine and Russia-US relations. The data released proves/reveals that the federal gov’t and the Pentagon have lied to the American people in a massive way. So a citizen who reveals the truth about the gov’t, is sent to jail. This isn’t new: Obama sought to destroy and incarcerate Snowden, who also revealed the gov’t’s deceptions, and later all U.S. Presidents pursued Wikileaks journalist Julian Assange.
“This young man betrayed his country.” — Every pundit has mouthed this on tv. In truth, this young man revealed his country.
Again, a short story:
By Tim Stephens
Twenty years before, Todd would spend an hour in any ordinary restaurant with a calculator, calculating the eventual result – least and best – of a bond investment, a mortgage commitment, or his wages. All that calculating – or luck – had proven profitable. Now, at 58, he was comfortably affluent, and did little work. But he missed the guts. Now he would go into a café, order a pie and coffee, and know the rough answer even before he drew his calculator or his pen out (or for that matter, lifted his fork). It was an empty exercise. He had nothing to gain, no strong impulse of greed or security, and he felt the vacuum of this. It felt like his life was lazily sliding over warm ice. Not in any danger, but without traction.
He’d grown up poor, but somewhere, somewhere physical and psychic, even as his now-sold business began to thrive, he’d picked up a level of sophistication that allowed him no comfort from driving a big Cadillac, or wearing loud clothes, or speaking loudly in cafes, or showing off his modest wealth. So he drove a tin-box Tracker, five years old, and dressed in jeans. (Though here, as a tourist, he had a shiny red rented compact car, a Yaris.) And he was too aware – or perhaps too passive – to slide into deeper forms of decadence. He was too close to death, at 58, to welcome or seek any exotic degradation of his soul. And he found repulsive any vision of himself as, say, a haunter of brothels in his grayness, or a ravager of rear ends, an oily porpoise perched on some brocaded couch. The lust, the egoistic use of another—none of these appealed to him. Other avenues of passion had closed years and months ago – he couldn’t locate the exact door, now that it had closed, the quiet clink, light as the tendril of breeze that swims the bedroom space, or lifts the silky curtains; but a clink still, or perhaps a click, but definite, the admission to himself that he knew the difference between love and lust. So he couldn’t with clean, burning heart – heart justified with the high octane of rebellion, or biology, or a rationalizing philosophy of love’s permit – he couldn’t chase young lust, or, as he had in his twenties, a married woman. He knew what love was. He loved his wife, married three years; and he loved his children, one, Nancy, seventeen and almost gone away to school, and Joseph, nineteen and Tony, twenty-one, both gone already. To top it all off, his suspicion and certainty that there was an afterlife kept him from obvious forms of decadence.
Despite all these reasons for satisfaction, for contentment with the arrangement, he had felt clearly, lately, several times in the last few months, a large, fluid, not painful, not fearsome, but bothersome emptiness. It sloshed inside him like a light, floating liquid, so that at the oddest moments, while he was rounding a mental corner, it would slosh up and surprise him with its cool, light touch.
At the moment, he sat, ankle on knee, on a black iron-slatted bench in the sunshine, at a downtown corner of Cobourg, Ontario, an obvious tourist in his duck shorts, while Margaret went poking about in the local stores, hunting for souvenirs for the kids – his three and her two, all grown except for his 17-year old Nancy, the bouncy baby of the family, who mildly resented her step-mother.
He might easily live to 88 – 30 years away. Too long, if the emptiness continued. He was even bored by his life’s favorite hobby – looking at real estate.
“Hi!” he said, rising, standing ready — it was half a welcome, half a call to capture her attention, as she seemed about to —. Margaret advanced on him like he was a plan, a scheme she had to unfold quickly.
“Hi. Look. I want to go to that dress store. Here’s a realty thing.” She handed him a local real estate home buyer’s sheet. “Can you give me another fifteen minutes?” She waited impatiently for his answer. Lately she often showed a mild, hidden impatience toward him. He assumed it was related to his quiet passivity, to the circling wafts of emptiness he had begun to sense.
The next day, he decided to look at a piece in the “realty thing.” Fifty acres at a bargain price, but strange directions. He drove a half hour north of Cobourg to, as the directions stated, a dead end road. Walk past the railway tracks. He didn’t see the tracks, and the road wasn’t a dead-end, but continued, not paved, water gullies running like rough emptied veins down its middle, but broad, graveled, obviously drive-able. There was a “No Exit” sign and a yellow sign stating that this was an “non-maintained” road. One of his greatest fears was being stuck in some back trail, unable to turn the vehicle around, and the embarrassment of reporting to the rental agency that he was a schmuck. So despite the drivable appearance of the passageway, he parked the car off the paved intersection, and set off on foot.
After the road climbed a hill through treed cover, almost a forest, it leveled out and large abandoned agricultural fields lay on either side. Knee-high grass and weeds grew in sudden, isolated clumps, and here and there green bushes had grown up, like oases in the dry fields, green mirages promising something sweet and aromatic in the desert of sandy, rust-red dirt. There’d been a recent rain; the soil, compacted by the falling drops, baked softly in the September sun.
The road was long, wide and very open for an un-maintained passage. It surprised him, cast a spooky whisper over his journey. As he walked, two vehicles approached from the distance before him. He waved as they passed, the country wave, a hand held peaceably up, open-palmed, but neither driver, nor the one passenger, a grim woman, waved back from the first white car. A black SUV with tinted windows followed. He trudged along, considering whether to turn back. But a native stubbornness kept him going.
A half hour later the road entered between two bosomy swells of green, nodding trees. Fifty feet before him a wide steel-and-wire gate, solidly locked and flanked by a wire fence, blocked his way. No realty sign. Just a “KEEP OUT.” He was half tempted to hop it anyway; it promised much more than the poor second way to his left. But remembering the grim people who’s driven past him, he decided not to push. The left fork grew into – actually, dwindled into – a much more modest clay track, the width of a car, that ran at first through a grassy clearing. It was a small, lush, sunlit clearing, and the bordering trees were warm and shining in the sun, so he turned quietly and wandered into that road, watching the trees. There, twelve feet up a tree, obviously up there because vandals had trashed earlier, bigger signs that now lay scattered, rain-curled, rotted and sun-faded in the grassy verge, high up there was a small realty sign, less weathered but only half readable, almost apologetic – and cryptic: “For #ale – 905-#43- #2#3. Mat# Besoig##e #0 acr##.
He contemplated whether to go further, or to back away from this place, which scared him slightly. To give himself time, he stood and tried to absorb the goodness of things, the lush meadow, the bright, shiny grass coming forth from the fertile earth, growing, blossoming – but it didn’t get rid of the spooky feeling he had.
His mind jumped to an internet movie he’d watched some weeks ago, a crude documentary that insisted Christianity was merely disguised sun worship, and Jesus was a myth, based on the progress of the Sun (“son” exchanged for “sun”) the 12 disciples, the 12 astrological constellations, Jesus’ birth – born at winter solstice, just as the Sun was reborn, and that Jesus was simply another in a long succession of prior Sun-man-gods, Mithra, Horus, Orpheus – all born of virgins, all born around Dec.21, all with 12 disciples…
Intellectually he agreed with the proposition, but his heart missed being encompassed (he was born Catholic) by the boundaries, the arms, of a nurturing, protecting invisible thing, by the promise that if he were good, all would be well, forever…
I am good, he thought.
Not really heartened, he ventured further, diffidently, wondering where the 50 acres lay. Soon the road thinned to a deeply rutted cart path, now dry and hard as stone. The ruts were so deep and narrow that he had to walk on top of the hard clay peaks, a foot above the ruts. The thin-limbed trees, which seemed to wrestle with each other, so closely embraced the road that he stopped himself from falling into the ruts by grasping their branches. The peaks and furrows constantly interchanged, so he had to leap nimbly from peak to peak. He tried walking in the narrow furrows, but gave up after scraping his ankles painfully on their hard, unforgiving sides – he grew afraid, too, that his foot would lock in a furrow and, losing his balance, he might snap or twist an ankle. So he stumbled awkwardly along the bruising road. The trees closed in even more, their weak, leaf-swathed arms brushing his face or bare arms with the tentative grasp of lovers. It had cooled, gnats swirled lazily in the dankness. The sunlight, though he saw it above, didn’t lie in the path. Something made a sound in the brush, and he jumped.
With an irrational sliver of panic, he ducked into a hollowed side path from the rutted trail – it ran through a screen of bushes, then emerged in a vast, hot bowl dotted with scrub bushes. It was so large he could not see a tree-line defining any boundaries or horizon. Everywhere, paths ran up and down small ridges and hollows, and wound around. He began to walk down one. He began to fear getting lost, there were so many hard-packed trails baking in the sun, too many to remember his turns and twists. So at each fork he took the right hand one, assuming this would eventually bring him back to where he was. He heard nothing, no machines, no dirt bikes. Fear, unknown fear lay about him. They must be biker trails, but the paths were such hard clay – and in some dips so sandy – that no tracks showed. What else could they be? He began to feel not silly, but ridiculous. He feared being discovered alone by a wild troop of bikers or men or young men. It was his aloneness, and his obvious lack of reason for being here, his obvious lack of purpose, that would make him odd, ridiculous, and he knew how gangs of men, especially young men, sometimes felt a need to exterminate or thump the ridiculous, to exterminate absurdity. Absurdly, he strode on, almost brave now.
After awhile, pausing first to feel, to grope at the deep, almost melancholy thrill it produced in him, wondering what it meant, he strode left down one small roller coaster path, then right, then right again (then, forgetting himself, left) and at last, with a rising heart, a slight, light lift, he gave up trying to note which way he’d come….
The exhilaration of abandoning his right-turn plan, he supposed, would last as long as he chose to make it last. As long as he chose to be lost, that sad, sweet lift of his heart would hover strong as a silent hummingbird. But if he regretted being lost, if he wanted to go back, then fear would strike.
He stopped short and jerked upright in the twilight, heart pounding: there, at the base of a bush, were feet, and bright blue sky. He bent quickly before thinking. It was a mirror someone had propped against a bush: it was his own feet and legs. He knelt and leaned, peering, his face, oily, sweaty, his eyes overly serious, staring back to pierce him. That face was demanding, guarding his inner secrets without humor, perhaps secrets he held from himself. He stood quickly, afraid someone might be near, at his back. He surveyed the land around, though he was in one of the thousand small hollows, and couldn’t see much. Without humor – seeing its lack in his face bothered him. Twilight was approaching. He had to go home.
Then, without sound or warning, to one side of the trail, a man squatted. The man watched him. Suspiciously, or with assured violence? Todd couldn’t tell. His unkempt beard was grizzled gray. He held a large sack tightly by its closed throat.
“You startled me,” Todd said. Though, strangely, he didn’t feel startled at all. After the shock of the mirror, he didn’t feel any surprise. In fact, another human being was welcome.
“The mirrors tell me when someone’s coming,” the man said in a voice that was slightly off kilter, his tongue hanging on an eccentric hinge. “It reflects up there.” His eyes looked up at the sky, as far as Todd could tell. “And when it’s gone, the light’s gone, someone’s here. Right here.”
“Yeah, I see,” Todd said politely. “What’s in the sack?”
“Everything I need, nothing you need. No sir.”
“You live around here?” Todd asked.
“Only until someone comes home. I got to get out of here.”
“Do you know the way out?”
“Yes and no.” The madman closed his lips solidly around that.
There was a silence. A breeze flew over and through Todd. The atmosphere changed. Todd, still terrified of the intense, demanding, serious face that had confronted him in the shard of mirror, as if to ward it off, blurted out suddenly, “I just want love,” but clearly and loudly, enunciating each word, as if the madman could not hear. Then the breeze vanished. The air was still and clear again. Todd felt shamed and humiliated, vulnerable, open. Excited by having made such a pure, brave, senseless statement.
“Got to go,” he mumbled, and stumbled away from the mad man – not in fear, because he heard nothing following.
“What was that,” he thought, nervously trying to logically place the madman in this desert of clay and sand. Why was he here? But Todd’s hopes of getting quickly home reared up in disappointed surprise as he saw, several lurches down a hard-packed clay hill, that mirrors now were everywhere, large shards and small ones, well-preserved squares and circles and jagged pieces, all strung haphazardly from bush branches by string, or crooked in the forks of twigs and branches. There must have been twenty or thirty. The sky reflected crazily in most of them; some were bright, some were dark, reflecting nothing. Seeing them, Todd drew physically into himself, drew his shoulders in, his arms tight to his chest, legs squeezed together, scrotum pulled in, and half-turned, almost like a small pirouette; he shuddered, one huge shiver. He looked at the horizon, where now the tops of trees showed, golden in the late afternoon. “This will end soon,” he thought with determination. He took one step forward, then caught himself – that way lay a dream, too much exploration – turned, and headed back in – hopefully – the general direction he’d come – veering to the left, though, to skirt around the place where he’d met the madman. Generally, he hoped and guessed, he stumbled along in the direction where he’d find the road – and everything familiar. He clomped along. His legs were tired but his motivation was strong, making his steps large and clumsy.
The way back almost accomplished itself, was surprisingly quick, easy and smooth, as if his instincts had known where to go all the time. Suddenly, there was the line of trees and weeds of the rutted road.
An hour later, back in the car, he luxuriated briefly in a sense of security. He would never tell anyone what he saw that day. Adjusting the rear-view mirror before he pulled into the road, he caught a glimpse of himself. His expression was so fierce it again surprised him. But now, rather than worry about it, he quickly looked away and pictured the road back to Cobourg.
A day later, they flew home. That evening, he sat in a booth at the White Spot Restaurant with Margaret and his son Tony and his son’s wife. He hardly knew his son’s wife. She was always quiet, but he could see intelligence in her eyes. His son was intelligent too, he knew, but he masked it, kept his voice guarded and his eyes wary. The four of them chatted without purpose, hesitantly.
He first saw her bend down, two booths away and across the aisle, all six feet of her folding with a strange, fascinating poise, as she extended a graceful arm under the booth to pick up something spilled. There was nothing remarkable about her appearance, yet an invisible magic crept and moved about her, a magic maybe only he could see (for no crowds gathered around her – in fact, later, he half wondered if she had just appeared that instant – part of him – that he would not admit to the surface – thought she might be a goddess) – she seemed suspended between all extremes, neither beautiful nor ugly, fat nor thin. A healthy head of black hair, movements slow and poised, a black skirt and white blouse – she was nineteen or twenty. He turned back to his family, feeling both satisfied and intrigued. The notion of fascination – letting himself be fascinated – was impractical and inappropriate, so he dismissed it.
But several minutes later she was at the table, laying their cutlery, and he felt she’d come because she’d caught him watching her. Her body, her stance and smile radiated ownership of him, and he liked it, immensely. She laid his setting last. The cloth napkin wouldn’t lay flat; it had half opened. She opened, folded and laid it again, without hurry, and flattened it with a careful, sensual caress. Her whole hand slowly pressed the napkin. Glancing upward at this gesture, he saw her looking with soft directness at him. Her eyes stroked him with quiet assurance, with unassuming but intimate confidence. He averted his eyes swiftly, to stare down again at that strangely pleasing hand; it lingered a moment longer, pressing the napkin, signalling untold, underwater pleasures. He could tell that hand had never had children, it was too calm and certain – mothers’ hands were tentative, hovering, compassionate, alert with nervous care.
He was grateful, felt the experience was worth – everything. He had been touched by a god. He knew immediately that everything in life, everything, only equaled one moment of that invisible touch. He also surmised, immediately, that this alluring hand knew cock, it caressed that napkin to tell him just that. He could see its graceful length stroking, hypnotizing. He looked up again, but this time at the table of his family, masking his guilt. He feared his momentary obsession had become obvious to everyone at the table. He fled the goddess.
He fled because if she had said, “Arise and come with me,” he would have. He automatically chose to avoid his children’s shame, his wife’s hurt, the human wreckage. Even as he watched his son and Margaret talk, refusing to look around the restaurant for the goddess, he felt steeped in the elixir she’d poured upon him. But he could say nothing, and he did nothing, except to now look at his son and try to summon ordinary words, a bit of ordinary conversation, to disguise his secret adventure, to disguise everything, as he felt her go away; and he knew he would never see her again. He had not proved worthy. But he failed to find anything ordinary to say fast enough, and his son stared blankly at him with opaque eyes, and Margaret said to his son, “Do you want wine, Tony?”
“Why have I been touched?” he wondered on the drive home. He could see Venus sitting in her bedroom, back straight, at her vanity mirror, contemplating her beautiful self. Regretting his earlier flight from her love potion, his eyes had covertly searched the restaurant for her as they exited. But she seemed to have vanished as completely as she’d appeared. “Does it have any meaning? Was it a signal? Am I meant to change my whole life? Am I meant to chase her? Nineteen or twenty-two maybe?”
That night, at home, Margaret couldn’t get a jar open. She dropped a knife. She exploded, began screaming at him.
“What’s the matter with you?” he said.
“I hate you! Pedophile! Pervert! I hate you!” Her words sang with anger and hurt. He didn’t understand. Of course, she must have noticed something. But he’d been faithful. He hadn’t chosen. Hadn’t abandoned her. He didn’t understand. He didn’t understand in the bigger way, either, anything. He went into his office, shut the door and sat at his desk with his hands over his ears, because her voice hurt his brains. He didn’t understand. He seethed with delicious dissatisfaction.