Judy always feels kept away from anything miraculously fortunate or even moderately pleasant ever happening to her. Neither gorgeous nor homely, Judy seeks approval of love and care to which she seems to be barred. This is her whimsical journey of a quest for her niche through the awesome events that she never expects to visit her. This is a short tale about Judy’s adventure in her wildest dream that turns her inside out and helps her to look at the world instead of looking askance at the world to look at her and approve her. It’s a kind of whimsical story mixed with adventure, western, and fantasy that I hope to be a fall-away from the dull flat platform of life. My first book ever published on Kindle is now available on Amazon for free. I hope you will like it. Thanks for reading. 🙂
When they got to a ranch below Santo Christo Mountain, the golden chariot of Apollo was about to finish its daily race in the sky hippodrome, making a way for the staging of the nocturnal goddesses in Moon and Evening Star dresses. The earth was changing its mood from vivaciousness of a pretty young starlet to sensuousness of a beautiful mature actress with sultry duskiness of impending sunset. The wild plain looked as if it were waiting for the sensual pleasure that the goddesses would bring to the rough and tough arms of the ruggedly handsome wilderness for their nightly play of love when the celestial blanket of Uranos, the god of the sky, softly covered the body of Gaia, the goddess of the earth, to ravish her divine being all night long. As a constellation of stars was starting to appear in the heavenly vault, the tribe of adventure was also starting to call it a day’s journey and hurrying their horses to the gate of the ranch. They were all hungry and tired, but the spirits were still resisting saying good night to the world. What they really wanted at that time was a sumptuous repast, consisting of fresh fruits, hot meals, and warm bread with butter and jams. Soup and drinks would complete the repast if the host would turn out to be a generous one. Raphael, who was the hungriest of all, knocked on the door and waited for a welcome response. A high hope for blissful heaven, indeed.
“I am coming!” answered the voice from the other side of the door with the playfulness of an adultescent grown man, which might sound impish to the quiet ears of those who fiercely protective of privacy. That’s how it sounded to Judy and her canine companion Nena who started barking as the footsteps from the other side were coming closer to the wandering tribe. Looking at Nena incredulously, Judy began to feel nervous about who would open the door because Judy had an acute sense of detecting any sign of supernatural and natural beings from this world and the world beyond; it was an uncanny ability that she inherited from her also unusual mother estranged from her own family for the unreasonable reason. For they had persecuted her for being a witch, condemned to eternal damnation, because it was against their Catholicism they believed in a medieval fashion, and even put her in a mental ward for being crazy. Yet Judy knew that her mother was from a long and mysterious line of ancient sibyls existent in all cultures even before the birth of Christ and believed that the reason she and her mother had been born into such scurrilous, Scythian family of hypocrites was a mysterious reason she had to figure out by herself. And she believed that this adventure with the offbeat trio was part of this mystery. What’s more, the irritably vivacious man’s voice from the inside must be a tessera that the Fates had intentionally put in an inscrutable puzzle that had challenged Judy to solve – all alone.
The wooden door was opened when Judy fell into the moments of mental vertigo, and there appeared a tall, good-looking man with blond hair and very pale blue eyes that sparkled even in darkness like the fluorescent lights on the deck of Flying Dutchman. Judy was properly aghast at the extraordinary sight of the beauty and instantly forgot all, including Rufus, Ben, and Raphael who were not as surprised as the lass by the sight the comely fella. But Nena was still barking at him more fiercely than before as if the man had been a malevolent spirit in a handsome actor’s hide. Nena was barking harder and longer as though to wake up Judy from a portent evil spell. The beautiful man, the mysterious owner of the ranch, looked at the scene in silence and smiled at them like a spectator of an amateur comedy on stage. The night was still very young.
The view from Santa Teresa Loop is pleasantness itself; a small village down below looks never more affable when seen from high above the bustling daily activities of everyday busybodies, a continual fugue of discordant voices, lies, schadenfreude, vitriolic criticisms, empty promises, false valuations, vain hopes, resident disappointments, and crushed dreams orchestrated by competing for grand subjective narratives, all fragmented and adrift. Judy looks at the world below her feet as if she were one of the Olympian gods who used to get a kick out of looking at mortals and making fun of their lives as though to be seen in a great amphitheater. That’s how Judy is entertaining herself now, alone with her faithful canine companion Nena that is also entertaining itself now, for none other dogs than itself has a privilege to enjoy the view, as it were because it’s the only dog in sight at the moment. The eyes have a feast of the spectacular world to themselves, and the bodies are imbibed with the fresh breath of unsullied beauty of rugged nature, which welcomes the divine duo with iridescent rays of sunshine and refreshing cool air from the West Wind. Readers, it’s a sight to behold, for they are gripped in a paroxysm of ecstasy. Thereby sit Judy and Nena on a rock like statues of Artemis and her wolf, smiling at the world below them.
Judy changes an object of her optical pleasure to a new stimulus from a different direction where the images of men suddenly materialize. She takes her antique binoculars belonging to her father, grandfather, and great grandfather, kept in her family’s cabinet of curiosities for two centuries. There are three men on horseback from the afternoon haze of the wild plains yonder approaching to the trail that leads to the loop, where the earthly Artemis and her canine companion are. Looking through the lens, the threesome looks like they are doing a periodical reenactment of the Wild West Frontier; the one in Clint Eastwood-like western outfit with a cowboy hat, a long-haired hippy dressed in ballroom attire, and a Sombrero-wearing avuncular man with a mustache. They look rather out-of-time, but nonetheless affable, attractive even because of the piquant charm emanating from this oddly quaint trio suddenly materializing before the very eyes of ever-inquisitive Judy. It’s like a movie, thinks Judy, while still wrestling with her Reason to figure this mirage out of nowhere, trying to grip a sense of reality, which she is not good at. For Judy lives in the air, her mind forever flitting on the arc of imagination with a belief in magic, legends, fairies, and ghosts… She dwells in the beauty of nature, drinks the sweet nectar of forgotten gods and goddesses to protect herself from the weight of time that constantly threatens to stale her infinite variety and wither her beautiful spirit. Amid the tug-of-war between the Senses and Reason, Judy now sees the men in her iris coming real and decides to climb down the top of the world. Nena looks at Judy, but it isn’t as willing as her master. Don’t worry, Nena. They won’t hurt you. I am with you, and that’s all that matters. So off they go.
When Judy and Nena almost reach the entrance rail to the loop, however, Judy begins to doubt whether her decision to approach the trio is wise. What if they turn out to be bandits or serial killers in friendly hides? After all, people sometimes take false shadows for true substances. You know, sort of a killer’s instincts in my good neighbor Mr. Roger’s hide? Anyway, it’s too late now, and they also see her with her dog beside. A tall, slim girl looking like a salt pillar at the outskirts of burning Gomorrah is watching them, and the men think she’s either a mad girl deserted by her rich family ashamed of having a lunatic in the household or a dell, a young beggar girl, wandering anywhere for bed and bread, and thus oftentimes becoming a doxy of a highwayman who in turn exploits her beauty and gender for his own desire and avarice. We can’t let her stay alone here, said Ben, who prides himself of being something of a gentleman of society. Rufus thinks she is pretty and therefore wants to woo her. Raphael thinks she doesn’t look menacing, only lost, and takes pity on her. So, they are all for one, and one for all, like the Three Musketeers in Western Style. They are going to rescue her, and then they will continue their journey to find the Aztec gold buried in California. Once more unto the breach, once more! With this motto of esprit de corps, Rufus, Ben, and Raphael dismount their well-spent Californian mustangs and walk toward the curious Judy – and even more curious Nena.
They come from the beyond over the hazy horizon endless in length and boundless in time. They are back from the halcyon days of gunslingers roaming the boundless plain in the unclaimed territory, swashbuckling the dusty streets of a nascent frontier town in California. It was when the Pony Express was busy delivering urgent documents on horseback from the West to the East. It was before the Irish and the Chinese made the transcontinental railways. It was before the sons of the North and the South ceased fire and embraced once again for better America. From the glory of the Wild West comes this unlikely trio: Rufus, Ben, and Raphael. They are partners of a joint venture in finding the gold that a Union soldier buried somewhere in the mountain in California. No, the gold wasn’t hard-won by years of toiling in the mine but stolen from a benevolent Mexican baron who kindly attended the wounded deserter. The ungrateful soldier killed his saintly host and appropriated trunks of the ancient Aztec gold kept in the cabinet. So, it was this gold, this tainted gold that the posse is trying to find, El Dorado of their dreams.
Rufus is a handsome drifter who used to delight in cigars, but now is a cold turkey thanks to his learning of the virtue-extolling slogan of Mans Sana In corporore Sano, meaning ‘a sound mind dwells in a healthy body.’ Although he doesn’t particularly subscribe to the ancient Greek motto, he wants to reinvent himself as a clean-cut, dashing young man fused with youthful bravado and adventurous romanticism alluring to fair ladies and even plain-looking woman with money. He never knows who his parents are, but he does not want to know about it either. For Rufus, a foundling found on the doorstep of a missionary church run by Spanish Conventual Franciscans, a family inherent by means of blood relation seems so tribalistic and primitive. He’s always alone, and in this aloneness, he finds freedom and solace. So when he first heard of the legend of the buried gold from Friar Pedro at the monastery, that was awesome, I will find it myself and set up this dilapidated monastery and my new business thought little Rufus. That was 25 years ago, or so it seemed. Rufus since then has embarked on a journey for El Dorado by being a professional drifter, an occasional cowherd and sometimes a bounty hunter for local lords and town judges. It was during one of his stints as a cowherd that he came across two other men asking for a direction to Santa Rosa and wanted to be part of this joint venture of the ecstasy of gold. And off they went together on horseback.
Ben is a former banquet pianist whose passionate and tempestuous streak laced with virtuoso piano playing gives him a status which fuses the caprice power of Greek gods with the sensual charge of modern-day celebrity. Versed in the musical pieces of Beethoven, Bach, and Chopin, Ben used to make ladies swoon over the melliferous melodies he wove from the intricate courtships of the keyboards and faint at the apotheosis of the ecstatic sensation of the music, throwing their handkerchiefs at the pianist. Ben entertained such deliriously sensuous reaction from the belles of society and often likened himself to be a musical Byron. But after the curtain call, that was it, and nothing more except for the maddening silence and dreadful darkness hovering over the stage. Ben wanted more, desired much more, and demanded ever more the insatiable hunger for fame and adoration that ensued scandalous dangerous liaisons with the ladies of high society and rewarding golden opportunities to elevate his status of wandering entertainer to that of an accomplished courtier of the music of his time. Forget the agents who only engage him in the venues dissimilar to his sophisticated classical tastes with forfeiting more than half of the money from his performance. Forget the patronizing sponsors whose only merits are wealth and haughtiness. He wants to be of his own employer who can play the music he likes in front of a select beautiful few. He wants freedom, and he wants it badly. Hence, his hands are now up for grabs for the golden opportunity of reaching El Dorado with no qualms, for the buried treasure is already tainted, and it won’t make him any more immoral than the soldier killing his kindly host.
Raphael sees life as one big game in which you either make it big or bear it as it is just like his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather were good at it. The family-honored stoic attitudes toward life never appealed to Raphael, who believes all-or-nothing strategy should be his credo, and he is proud of being forward-thinking and enterprising with his signature go-aheaditiveness. My dear reader, you might liken him to something of a Don Quixote because of his Spanish cultural link infused with the image of a reckless but likable wanderer with a mustache, but don’t let the shadow take our substance. For Raphael was a cunning fox wrapt in a player’s hide. His round, avuncular appearance belies fierce shrewdness and undaunted selfishness. Call him names, and he will strike you with blows with smiles. How more sinister and menacing can it be? This feistiness, resourcefulness, and go-aheaditiveness packaged in wicked humor and que sera sera approach to life give him kicks to survive life. So one day when Ben came by his small, dilapidated stable to change his spent mustang, Raphael was hooked on the story of the buried gold in Californian El Dorado. And the rest is history.
That is the beginning of their phantasmal chase against the ecstasy of gold in the mountain, which has been continued for over three centuries. For many moons and suns, Rufus, Ben, and Raphael have been marching with the hope that even beat the shadow of death,
Fairies, pray come and take me out of this rut
For I want to ride the wind with you in a heartbeat,
Stand on the highest crest of the leviathan tide,
And dance across the meadows and fly with light.