Tag Archives: short story

two by two – Chapter 8

chameleon cafe_small

He wanted to talk to her but didn’t know how to begin. He did not want to look overtly anxious, and yet he was obviously anxious. Part of it was his urge to find out if she was the right one that matched his gossamer imago, and more of it was his untamed machismo that even his arete, the harmonious combination of moral integrity and physical discipline, could not surmount. In the age of Amazonian resurgence of matriarchy on the crest of #MeToo campaign, the subject matter of indomitable feat of virility could be highly volatile, incriminating even. But Hector was being none other than a man himself and going against the nature would turn him into a closet monster or a spectacular hypocrite.  Besides, Hector was an artist who was unafraid of following his heart according to the True North of Nature. He belonged to the race of the untethered, the bold and the beautiful, and he knew it. All of it, all that he had was working toward his wish to speak to her, the mysterious woman sitting three seats away from him.

 When it reached the zenith of the urge, Hector couldn’t hold it any longer, and it finally erupted from his lips: “Excuse me, miss. I forgot to bring a pen with me. Do you have a spare one by any chance?” It was the best excuse he could think of because the woman was writing in her notebook. She seemed startled at first by a strange man’s request for a pen, but soon her fear of a stranger relented at his polite manner handsomely juxtaposed with his sonorous voice and beautiful eyes that radiated both warmth of the soul and allure of the flesh. Iris was always sagacious of people’s characters, which was her gift and curse of the Fates, and she saw genuineness in this strange but beautiful man’s eyes in an aura of charisma, a mythological power ascribed to the Olympians and select hybrids of mortals and immortals. In a phantasmagorical display of the Greek heroes and gods, Iris was filled with mysterious confidence that gave her a status which fuses the capricious power of a fairy with the sensuous charge of femininity. She finally fished in a pen from her pencil case and gave it to him. “Thank you, Miss. These days people do not seem to carry around a pencil case.” Hector thought that he talked too much and instantly regretted it. But it was a reflex of his heart that knew better. It was working slowly, the kindling of the amber that was beginning to grow. No, my dear reader, it wasn’t that usual playboy’s antics, that sleek glib of a smooth operator because Hector wasn’t the sort. Nothing namby-pamby about Hector’s sensitive nature, nor the supra-abundance of the embryonic courtship that might not even develop with fanfare. But nothing could be further from the truth – the truth that both Hector and Iris were votaries of aesthetic pleasure, the cult of Psyche and Eros, the seekers of Eleusinian Mysteries in their own rights.

Iris wanted Hector to go on, to take her on, to lead her on. Despite her instant bestowal of confidence, she was still wrapped up in her own clock of anonymity and invisibility like a fairy who was visible to the mortal eyes when she wanted to. A fairy whose sentiments were different from the mortals and who could be both impish and angelic according to her whims and caprice. For a fairy by nature was amoral and could fashion in whatever forms she would prefer. Thenceforth, Iris was lamenting that a fairy at the time of her birth did not bring her a gift of beauty that could captivate a man of her heart. Surely, she was told beautiful, sultry even, but her resemblance to Cassandra was the sine qua non of her solitude, although she would like to insist that it was her voluntary choice. The grace and the harmony of her features would make a beholder think that they were aesthetically proportioned, yet she wasn’t exactly a Helen of Troy for whom Paris, the prince of Troy, left his nymph companion in distress and for whom thousands of ships launched to win her love. Alas, poor Iris! I knew her, my dear reader. I commiserated with her spiritually. I should have cast glamour spells on her so that she could be instantly gorgeous at that time. But would it be a kind of beauty she really wanted?… I wondered. I questioned: then, would Iris- a lesser beauty, a confused fairy, and a distressed Cassandra- make this mysterious man interested in her soul until they became two by two and about went they? In this fey meditation, her spirit was pivoting ecstatically from the mind’s castle and swiveling in wonderment. Iris was secretly invoking the power of all the fairies in the limine spheres, the slice of seacoast between low and high tides, a deepening foliage between field and forest, and the slope-land between plains and mountains.

deer hunter – chapter 7

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5:15 PM to Florencia. Iris looked at her iPhone clock and felt secured because the time was working nicely with her wish to stay longer until the train departed. The cappuccino was still pleasantly warm in her hands, and she loved the aroma that enveloped her tall slender figure like a shimmering halo of rainbow sunshine. The iridescent mist of instant euphoria was clothing her with a veil of poised status that fused mysterious confidence with graceful humility. Emboldened by this sudden transformation, Iris pulled herself out of her glass castle and lifted her beautiful deep liquid brown eyes to the outside the world of her own. Into the sea of her diamond eyes, the images of love and beauty were cast like magical apparitions, bewitching her senses and sensibilities which were otherwise harnessed like a pair of tamed horses. Iris felt that she could forgive all and love all at that moment of euphoria. It showed that a cup of good coffee could do wonder to anyone as it had done to Johannes Sebastian Bach, Albert Camus, Napoleon Bonaparte, Jonathan Swift, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In this caffeine-induced euphoria, Iris did not know she was radiant with her pretty smile. The smile was her most prized jewel. When she smiled, she was sweets to the sweet. It was like a flower blooming around an oasis in a desert, and everyone liked it. It’s as rare as a pearl found in a clam, and it’s this rarity of her smile that kept herself distant from the melee who demanded of her frequent smiles. And who would have known that her pearly smile would have caught the sight of Hector? Yes, it was Hector, the mysterious man with a Byronic face and Olympian physique sitting three seats away from Iris, the smile enchantress. Reader, you should understand that Iris was usually a skillful driver of her Chariot of Mind, keeping tight rein on the always recalcitrant Horse of Appetites. But at that moment, Iris’s chariot was shaking, and the impudent horse was not responding to her stern command to behave. The harder and more she hit the horse with a goad, the more and harder the horse rebelled against the pain until it became mad with a wild cry of agony. It was the cry of the restrained nature. For the nature of the impudent horse was to act according to its beastly desire, the primal cry of the wild. The ancient Greeks regraded love involving man and woman as the most passionately sensual emotion in which only Eros dominated because it was primarily physical, encompassing canal pleasure. Was it that Eros and Eros only that reigned in Iris’s entertainment of this rebellious chariot of the mind with the wild cry? Iris did not think so and liked to believe it wasn’t. After all, Iris was chaste, and she believed that she would live as a living goddess like Artemis or Athena, independent of men, of children, flying outside the boundary of marriage and attachment.

Hector was watching this curious woman all along. He did not know why, but something was telling him that she was different from other women whom he had known and lived with. She looked both woman and girl in her tall thin body. She was beautiful with her chiseled face and large dark brown eyes that looked rather serious and dolorous. Her high-bridged straight nose gave her an impression of patrician woman whom no one could easily be jovial with. The beauty and the grace of her were not in want, and yet she wasn’t exactly the fairest of all the women he had met. Besides, there was a touch of beyondness to her, which was oddly attractive with her rather sophisticated urban demure. The graceful estrangement emanating from this unknown girl/woman reminded him of a deer that lost a track of her kind in a deep forest. Or did she look like a she-wolf voluntarily detached from the pack? Whatever it was, he was hooked on it and wanted to know more about it. The It was in her, and she was in it. He wanted to be in it, willingly and madly. Was it an illusion or just a whimsical mood of a bored artist? Hector was all for the adventure, and he’s up for it like Odyssey in preparation of his adventures between the sea and the devil.

At the coffee house- chapter 5

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There was nothing mattered except the oracle of the witch at the moment. Iris was confused and terrified in the amalgamation of the sacred and the profane. It was part a realization of her premonition and part a prescription of her destiny, if there was such thing as predestination. The heavenly revelation thus transpired: she was born with powers ascribed to the lineage of the ancient priestess; her Tread of Life was so thin that it was likely to be cut off by mortal dangers, such as attending funerals where ghosts and ghouls were always roaming around to recruit new ones; and she would not have suitors because of the invisible aura surrounding her to protect her from impurity of Eros or caprice of Aphrodite or anything even remotely like it. Reminding all of this, regurgitating the words of the witch while working toward the coffee shop around the corner, Iris’s mind was so laden with the unbearable prophecy and irreversible revelation that she then knew how Atlas felt when he was sentenced to carry the Earth on his shoulders as celestial punishment.

The coffee shop was large and spacious with a few customers scattered around doing what they deemed appropriate to while away their time. Some were talking on their cellphones; some on their laptops; and others confabulating about trifle things. With her freshly brewed cappuccino, Iris took her seat by the window where a man in a casual attire who looked to be in the early fifties with headphones and a laptop was sitting. Usually, Iris would not sit near a strange man because of her shyness of a member of the opposite sex. Yet, today she was feeling strangely comfortable sitting near him. Yes, Him, that is. Not Any Man, and This Man Only. Like a somnambulist in her nightly trance or a crewman of Odyssey mesmerized by Song of Ceres goddess, Iris was drawn to the seat close to the man. She looked at him discreetly: a crown of rich black hair was gloriously placed upon his shapely manly head. His slim chiseled face was lavishly adorned with large dark brown eyes deeply set between his high but slightly bumped Roman nose. His full lips were closed but looked as if nothing vulgar would come out therefrom. His posture was lean and tall and straight. To add another layer of Golden Laurel Wreathe to this Grecian statue, there was something about this unknown beautiful stranger: intelligence magically interacting with sweetness of the mind creating an aura of a Byronic mysterious artist, all in the artistry of nature so radiant and fatal. Iris was secretly absorbing all this intoxication of deadly charm and feeling guilty at the same time.

Pleasure of Guilt, as it were, became bigger, harder, and taller in Iris. The more she tried to concentrate on reading her unfinished book, the more violent his figure seemed to rebel in front of her very eyes, the eyes that were also as big and brown and beautiful as those of the homme fatal sitting three seats away from her. ‘Perish the thought!’ was the command of Iris to the Wild Horse of her Mind Chariot, but she knew it better that it was futile. My Dear Reader, who can decry Iris at the door of her infirm will, secret entertainment of her fancy, or illegitimacy of her fantasy when our faculty is rather instinctive than reasoning, rather physical than metaphysical?  Irresistible, Irresponsible, Irreversible, irrespective of Reason, Iris loved the sensation that anesthetized her burdens of fate and willingly lost herself therein. It was a secret lovemaking, and she loved it.

chapter 4 – hunter

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Cumae.

Whoever denominated this city must have been either inspired by the ancient Roman spirit or just plain high, having a momentary kick of phantasm just as Cumaen Sibyl had experienced in the cave filled with hallucinating gases and vapors. But this Cumae was nothing of the sort. 4 hours of drive from Rome, populated by yuppies, young technocrats, and artists of all kinds, it was typical suburbia that middle-class liberals would like to claim as their permanent residence. No wonder liberal politicians took their winning of votes from Cumae for granted. Which was quite a symbiotic relation between the constituents and the politicians because young people with money and artists tended to subscribe to liberalism. It was not because they were particularly zealous for the liberal causes, but rather because it suited their modes of life.

Into this largess of liberality, Hector was driving fast. Driving was never an annoying drudgery, but today it was. He needed to think about his next oeuvre which he did not even have the slightest idea of what it would be. Yet, the imago of beauty, that mysterious entity formed by the midsummer’s moonlight sonata two nights ago was keeping him restless, making him breathless, and turning him resistless.  The passion dashed him to the finale of his journey as he was trying to think deeper about his secret imago. ‘Finally, I am home.’ Hector felt safe and relieved at last when he entered the studio. It was well-kept by Mrs. Maria Martinez, who came to clean on a weekly basis. The paintings and sculptures of his creation welcomed him silently, but that was even more liking to Hector. He felt free from a leviathan of stress, obligations, morality… He was intoxicated with a sudden urge to sing a hymn to Dionysus and wanted to be among the cult of his temple. Out of the bliss of solipsistic presence came his ritual bath filled with aromatic fragrance and warm water that would melt any man of steel or wood into a captive of euphoric oblivion; it smeared Hector’s manliness with enchanting perfume of calm and soaked it in Sea of Forgetfulness. So much so that Hector wanted to proclaim such euphoric moment to be part of his Eleusinian Mysteries by hollering “Eureka,” just as Archimedes had done. My dear reader, it all seems that taking a bath would lead one to brilliant enlightenment.

It was almost 6:00 PM when Hector decided to take an evening promenade. He was a perambulator, taking delight in walking a long distance, which put him in a league with Henry Thoreau, Edgar Allen Poe, and Robert Browning, all of whom walked with pleasure for hours. He could walk far and wide without specific destinations. Wandering like a cloud across the vast skies, Hector returned to his true self as hunter. He was a hunter again, and he was a want of fresh blood that gave him vitality for life in which he with wife Moira and little daughters had given hostages to fortune. So, like a lone wolf that intentionally broke away from its pack, into the dusky horizon Hector started to walk as his instinct ruled over his way.

chapter 3 – beauty rides on mystery train

monet, the gate saint-lazare

The route to Arcadia was a painting of Georgia O’Keeffe, a famous landscape artist with an eye for authentic beauty: the restive naked beauty of vales and hills covered with rocks and reddish toil would make the flickering amber of any vapid spirit ablaze with prairie fires in the mind’s field. Looking at the panoply of the spectacular landscape from her seat on the train, Iris could not help but think that it resembled her. The untamed nature in its pristine condition looked a lot like her independent spirit, a unicorn whose wings were clipped by the needs of existential life. The nature without the landmarks of civilization betokened its uncorrupted virgin territory that no force could dare violate it. The nature was part of her, it was whole of her. It was wild and innocent and breathtaking, a mysterious reconciliation of ancient esoteric paganism with traditional orthodox Christianity in her. Iris was contemplating all of this, and she was taking all of it in.

When the train arrived at Arcadia Station, Iris was suddenly seized with her usual brooding premonition that misfortune might happen to her today. She wanted to ignore it, but it was bugging her like a mosquito in the middle of sizzling summer night. She had to ignore it because today she would be read what the Fates had spun for her. She wanted to come to terms with it and face the Fates whom she wanted to defy and challenge with the help of the wise woman. ‘This will be the day,’ thought Iris as she walked into the sunlit streets of Arcadia. Going to a pagan witch was against her Christian teachings as though by going to Hellfire Club of unspeakable debauchery and ineffable blasphemy. And yet, Iris wanted to get things sorted out for her own clandestine future and humdrum present. When Iris arrived at the door of the pagan, she saw an adumbral shape of face lurking out of the opaque window stained with debris of dust. It was a face of a beautiful woman smiling at her. She looked ageless as if age could not wither her away, nor could custom stale her magical power. Emboldened by her beautiful welcoming, Iris went into the bungalow and thought to herself that it was a good thing to take a trip to this place, even if the prophecy would be contrary to her already smoldering anticipation.

“So, you came all the way from Corinth to find a tapestry of your life. Welcome, I was expecting you.” Iris was flabbergasted. ‘How did she know I was coming? She must be genuine.’ Iris was even more gobsmacked when the woman continued. “Iris, the Fates had already told me in my dream a fortnight ago that you would be coming. And your grandmother Elaine appeared in my dream yesterday to tell me I should be attentive to your needs. Therefore, my dear Iris, do not worry about anything. You were not alone, you have never been alone, and you will never be alone.” Those kind words, those thousand comforts, all flew from her graceful lips and Amethyst crystal eyes that looked deeper than Sea of Jewel. She was irresistible not to answer, she was impossible to be real. Yet she was there, before Iris the doubtful who would not trade the moment of mystic beauty incarnate in this beautiful mystic for anything now. She was already bewitched by the witch, or was she become already one? Or even more so, Iris would be a changeling born of fairy, bred by human. All this would be known to the unknown today. Iris could not wait any longer.