A pursuit across the ages. They cross paths. Recognition dawns. Memories return. They reach for weapons or for new, worse tricks. One dies. It begins again. But something – not of men – is brewing, beginning to overshadow them….
Following are some sample pages from this upcoming novel:
From Chapter One….
As though I was kicking my bloody heart along the boulevard, and as though my mind was discarded at the last street corner; this is how I was shuffling home. When we no longer train our focus onto the veined flower or the subtle stone is when, I believe, our unloved eyes begin to fail. In this mood, with murky head bent towards unseen pavement, I was treading away from my daily mill.
And so, unconscious patterns form. If I am not looking up while walking, then unconsciously I expect other pedestrians, minding more, to step to one side.
In a single event the pattern was disrupted. His still shoes suddenly held the stone in front of mine and I stopped, already inside the zone of his musk. In one startled movement my eyes, reborn, swam up the beige cloth of his immaculate summer suit, and were drawn into his inviting stare. And he started laughing. Yet he was a stranger (so how did I know him?). A familiar knowledge beckoned from his mirth-filled eyes (He knew that I knew) His hair, hanging long in grace, billowed in the sun.
And my stagnant blood began to sizzle. My eyes, now focused and shining, reflected the nascent spasm creeping up my spine. My first crooked smile opened into a halting chuckle.
Yet I had never seen him before (so how did I know him?). The unfamiliar brilliance of quaking laughter lit my body. With a strange intimacy, and nodding encouragement, his own laughter deepened. (He knew that I knew)
And so, as I finally threw back my head, barking at the new blue sky, he moved his hand under his brushed cotton jacket, lifted the Beretta that had been snug inside his belt, and pushed a burning bullet through my heart.
And that is how I come to tell you this. I speak to you from the intimate layer that is beyond your physical forms. I am now present above the crowd, who have gathered babbling around my spent body. From aloft it is an amusing sight. Three litres of my former blood are reddening the granite. But by shouting and pointing (one woman is screaming and holding her throat) they seem to be demanding my life to run back into my heart. An older man has put his hand on my useless forehead, as though expecting me to awaken.
But now, here, I can see many more things. Now I remember, and because I remember I start to look for him. I turn my attention away from the gathering ants and into the larger space of the Marseille streets. I perceive him, moving swiftly into an alley. No other panicking human in the road can see me now (they have long ago forgotten how to look) but just before disappearing among the buildings he pauses, turns and looks directly at me. His audacious grin (so infectious to others) flashes toward me, but in a swift signal of thought he urges me not to follow him, reminding me of what had happened last time, and that he would be coming to this layer soon enough. With a carefree, impertinent wave, he is gone.
So I must reflect. Always strange that with human death, much of our amnesia may dissolve. The laws about this are for another discussion. Now, I must reflect, probing my recovered memory.
I move into the azure and limitless depths of my existence, as though sliding deeper into the ocean. I begin to see. And there he is, faint at first, and running, like a fleeting shadow. And there am I. And I see that I was stunned.
This would not be the first time that I was caught in the open, and he was running in the shadows, but I also remember the other times, when he was trapped as a forlorn fly in a web, and I was the bird that ate the spider.
But at this moment, he’s got the control. He told me not to pursue him. He warned me to remember what happened last time…..
From a later chapter ….
In one life in Abyssinia I was her slave master. I would lash her and commit unspeakable abuse. My crimes would reflect in her eyes, as she gazed at me unflinchingly. She knew that I knew my wrongs and it gave her a power over my soul even if I tried to escape by murdering her. In another life in Egypt she was pharaoh’s wife and master of me, where I was courtier enslaved to her command. I was entrapped by her intoxicating beauty and controlled by her knowledge of my weaknesses. I committed errors, I had doubts. With expressionless face she called for a tribunal who listened to false testimony and condemned me to death. I, with my self-flagellating thoughts and shames, let them betray me. At the declaration of their judgement, the tip of her tongue at her moistened lip betrayed her own weakness.
In this last life in Marseille, we had found each other again. She began to toy with me once more. She saw everything that was on my mind, mirrored my tastes for the round sound of the tenor saxophone and for the reach of sailboats, said she wanted to meet with me every day, introduced me to friends who proclaimed to eternal Love. But I remembered them from the tribunal in Egypt. And for the first time I noticed the dark void in her eyes. Suddenly she had to cut ties with me. Sickening recognition had seeped in.
So why have I glimpsed her now, on the azure plain between lives? Is she sent by him, or – like me – trying to hunt him down to castrate him?
“I haven’t destroyed enough yet. We haven’t bathed enough in each other’s blood and tears or chewed on enough torn flesh. Reaching for that mythical light is the real pain. Reaching for it kills life. Life is living and pulsing here now and in our legendary past, jamming swords into each other’s ribs and listening to the bones break. Here lies the truth.”
“I fear kneecapping. I fear drowning. I fear being born again, helpless, vulnerable to the whims of a merciless mother. And the lost control as a child engulfed by abusive adults. But listen well. I would rather endure that again than try to mimic your fake piety. I heave bile when I look at you.”
As he roared at me I was struck by the expression in his eyes- both rage and grief. The chasm between us was widening.
A gun is a tool. That’s all. Swaggering with a gun is as ignorant and laughable as swaggering with a screwdriver or a toothpick.
If you have a goal your actions should be 100% professional knowing that those actions are the means to a single end. You should have 100% consideration, certainty and commitment to that end, before you start. And you will have chosen the necessary tools.
He leered and swaggered before reaching for his Glock. I used that single second to trigger him out of life.
The body now lies in the mountainside grass, head down, covered in blood, caking in the hair. A corner of its coat is flapping in the wind.
Dead. Empty. And comes the first notion that this is over forever. But I am already wondering about the place he may have gone to. I feel none of the expected relief. I have an eery, unsettling sensation that this is far from over. Shivers – not from the wind – seep from my neck to my spine. I have the sensation that I am being watched. I spin around but see nothing except the swirling veils of an approaching squall. And a distant hawk, circling in the updrafts…..
The way she applied her lipstick is what slowed me down, as though the mesmeric notion of her perfume had not been enough.
He knew that if he or I should ever admit to weak points, or better if we should say that we were pretending to have them- then she would be the knife that prized mine out.
Perfection is sealed by the inclusion of one flaw. At first encounter she exuded every frame of the moving picture and threefold image of my perfect goddess. She appeared to be flawless. But when he ensured that we would meet (he would be pleased with himself about his arrangement of the ‘chance encounter’) he knew that if she were blueprint perfect, I could admire her like brilliant porcelain, but could still move on. So when he had noticed the fault line in the misty softness of her aura – subtly betraying a remote vulnerability, he knew that she was my nemesis.
The mirror of hindsight is usually broken. In its shards I see that he had quietly laid, and splayed open, my next trap….