Forgotten Songs From An Imaginary Life, Chapter 14.1

Music spheres 1

Okay, here she be. The last part of the last story before we move back into The Eighty-Eighth Key, and to the conclusion of “that part of the story.” Some important elements coming on fast now, and a few might even be a surprise. In the meantime, you might want to have a cup of tea at the ready. This part, the fourth part of ‘Forgotten Songs’, will take a while to get out to you, probably another six or seven sub-chapters, and I’ll try to keep them fairly short so as not to bore you too much. I still recommend cardamom tea…

And do please pay at least a little attention to the music, okay?

(Justin Hayward \\ Forever Autumn)

(The Beatles \\ Blackbird)

Part IV: The Music of the Spheres

Chapter 14.1

San Francisco, California           9 September 2001

Ted Sorensen examined the sliver of lime swirling round and round inside his glass of San Pellegrino and he smiled at the juxtaposition of expectation and satisfaction, perhaps because he felt a sense of serenity, almost even a gentle calm. He was in San Francisco again, this time at Candlestick Park, ostensibly to see the Forty Niners play the Atlanta Falcons, and Debra was with him, now with a pair of Steiner binoculars up to her face, and she was watching William Taylor down on the field. Taylor had literally broken through the line and run down Falcons quarterback Chris Chandler as he dropped back to pass, and Sorensen heard the roar of the crowd and looked at Taylor beating his chest down there on the field. He watched Debra jump up and cheer and, quite perversely, he smiled at her lingering enthusiasm for the boy. Still, he had plans for her, and now it was time to set one part of his plan into motion.

He turned back to his glass and watched bubbles form and rise to the surface…then disappear when one by one they hit normal atmospheric pressure – when their time was up – and he looked up at all the people around him in this lavish owner’s suite, then he imagined he was looking into the eyes of the faces of the sixty-six thousand deranged souls dressed in red and gold just below, crammed together in these stuffy, horrid smelling stands, screaming for sweating jocks as they knocked each other to the ground, before these jerks started strutting around like amped-up gorillas. What kind of people enjoyed this shit, he wondered. They were somehow considered normal, but really, were they? Maybe nothing really ever changed, not since gladiators fought for the emperor’s pleasure in ancient Rome, but…did all that really matter anymore? Everything was meaningless money changing hands, now as it probably was then, yet putting a kid like William Taylor up on a pedestal seemed the height of idiocy. Yet this society worshipped kids like Taylor, while not one could name even one of the many brilliant transplant surgeons performing real miracles all around the country – every day. What was wrong with this picture? Had it always been this way? Yeah, he said to himself, it probably had been…

He looked at Taylor now, watched him walk back to the defensive huddle, then Sorensen leaned forward in his chair as Taylor lined up almost right over the center. On the snap the two lines slammed together in a concussive shock he could feel, yet Taylor slid through an opening and tackled the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage, resulting in another loss of yards for the Falcons, who now had to punt. And once again…the crowd went wild, only now most began chanting “TAY-LOR, TAY-LOR”…so loudly his ears began to hurt.

Yet Taylor stayed on the field, working special teams this season as well as middle linebacker, and when the ball was snapped Taylor broke through the line again and made it deep into the backfield, but then he blocked the kick. He rolled once and came up with the ball and ran it twenty four yards into the Falcon’s end zone, scoring a touchdown – and his teammates swarmed all over him as he carried the ball to the bench, determined to keep it in a special place for the rest of his life. Very few players managed to do what he’d just done, and even the coach came over and slapped his ass.

And yet as Taylor sat on the bench to catch his breath all he could think about was his little brother Frank, and how much he would have enjoyed looking on from the stands. William had invited his parents, of course, but they’d begged off, had other things to do – and that was that. Maybe he would have tried to find a way to say hello to Debra – had he known she was at the game. But he didn’t. Because that wasn’t part of Sorensen’s plan. Not yet, anyway.

So Ted got up and walked over to the little buffet the owners enjoyed, and as he had a plate of prime rib and crab prepared he listened to the crowd as they continued chanting William Taylor’s name. Even Debra had gotten into the spirit and was jumping up and down, clapping her hands like some kind of love-addled teenager. She was still naive enough to think that love lasted for more than a few minutes, and he shook his head as he took his plate and walked back to their table, watching Taylor on the sidelines as his teammates came up and congratulated him.

And a week from now, Sorensen sighed, no one would remember any of this. Pointless. And so much money wasted here in so many misplaced emotions.

“What a waste,” he said to no one in particular.

“What’s a waste, Daddy?” Debra said, smiling quizzically his way.

“Oh, you know…prime rib without creamed spinach,” he lied, returning her smile with a twisting grin all his own. “But that’s life in the big leagues, I guess.”

He watched Debra watching William Taylor and a part of him really didn’t understand what the attraction was between the two of them. William was the exact opposite of her, physically at least, but even emotionally and perhaps intellectually as well. She’d never been interested in sports, not even at Harvard Westlake, when participation had been required…so to end up dating an überJock had come as a surprise. And while she’d never expressed any interest in the movie business he’d made sure she took the classes she’d need to function at the studio, and in that she was once again the exact opposite of William Taylor. And she’d been going on and on about astronomy for two years now, to the point she’d taken enough courses in the subject to declare it as her “minor” area of study. She’d earned her degree in economics but had no interest in further study in the field – yet when her father suggested she look into graduate study in astronomy she had jumped into action. Again, the opposite of Taylor. He was a pointless dullard, a waste of flesh and oxygen…

But now he was concerned about Debra and her listless wanderings. He’d not counting on her depression, but looking back maybe he should have. But…there was astronomy. And she talked about the subject with real interest…so he had called his “step-mother” Deborah Eisenstadt and sought her advice and counsel…

“Bring her to Boston. Let me sit down with her and discuss the matter, and I will assess the state if her practical knowledge.”

So…after the Forty Niners beat the Falcons – in “Sudden Death” overtime, for heaven’s sake – they had driven the short distance to SFO and boarded the Gulfstream.

“Will we be home in time for Letterman?” she asked as the little jet taxied to the runway.

“No, I’m afraid not. I’ve got to go to Boston tomorrow, and then New York on Tuesday, and I’d like you to come along.”

“Oh? Okay, sounds fun.”

“Fun. Yes indeed, fun,” he said, grinning.

Boston, Massachusetts                                                      10 September 2001

After his father’s death, now several years ago, Ted Sorensen’s stepmother, the physicist Deborah Eisenstadt, had emigrated to the United States to take a position at MIT. She was old now yet her mind was as sharp today as it ever had been, but recently she had been preoccupied with a new problem.

After that impetuous pianist from Harvard, the curiously named Liz Bullitt, had demonstrated her ability to bend the rules of time by manipulating acoustic harmonic structures just last week, she had been lost in thought. What was limiting these travels to observations only? Why couldn’t the girl interact with elements in the past. What good was moving through time to simply observe events that had already happened? For historians the appeal might be obvious, but the more obvious concern, at least to Eisenstadt, was the possibility of actual interaction occurring.  She understood the obvious concerns surrounding the so-called “paradox of time travel” too, and while the idea bothered her it did so secondarily. 

If this girl, or even this teacher of hers, this homicide detective in San Francisco, could time travel, what might happen if either or both of them stumbled upon a way to actually manipulate events in the past? And like ripples spreading across a pond, Eisenstadt understood that it was only a matter of time before others became aware of their ability. Others with more resources would begin to study the matter, and, again, it would simply be a matter of time before some other group began to manipulate time to their own design.

So Eisenstadt’s first concern was to study the matter…to see if such a breakthrough was even possible. If she found such a move was theoretically not possible she could relax…yet if she found a way past this limitation then she knew it would be possible for others to exploit this breakthrough…and then the nature of time itself, indeed, the very fabric of the universe could possibly be under assault. 

And this she had to stop.

She came in from her first class of the day, an introductory class in quantum mechanics, and looked at her calendar, then her shoulders drooped and she sighed. Ted was coming by for another chat about estate matters, and he’d indicated that Debra might be coming along, so if she was interested in graduate work in astronomy, then…

Astronomy? Debra? She scoffed at the idea, if only because Debra had always appeared to be an intellectual lightweight, yet she had graduated Magna Cum Laude from USC and had taken a minor in astronomy…so maybe she’d been wrong about the girl. She had to consider that Ted was serious when he’d mentioned bringing Deb along for an evaluation of sorts. But what did he expect in return?

Because, she knew with Ted there was always a price to be paid, a toll exacted. Yet…wasn’t she the one performing the favor? ‘Ah…he is expecting my help, to get her into MIT…’ she thought, sighing at the thought.

The department secretary buzzed her on the intercom, announced that the Sorensens were waiting and ready to see her when she was free, and she told her to send them in…


“You’ll pardon me for saying so, Deborah,” Ted began as he sat across from Eisenstadt, “but you look troubled. Is everything alright?”

“Actually, no. A colleague of mine,” she began, but then she stopped and seemed to consider how best to proceed. “Well, perhaps you may have read about the matter in the papers, but a friend of mine here in the department climbed the Matterhorn over the summer – and his party met with tragedy. Two of his closest friends fell to their death and he has been particularly troubled since his return. I just stopped by his office and spoke with him, so excuse me if I seem burdened.”

Debra spoke first: “Yes, I think I read about the accident. Sounds ghastly, and I can only imagine how he must feel.”

Ted shrugged. “Risky business, climbing. Did I read he’s only got one leg?”

“That’s correct, Ted,” Eisenstadt said. 

“I also read he started a company to make climbing gear for amputees. Smart. He probably picked up a fair amount of publicity, needless to say.” Eisenstadt blinked through her ‘Coke bottle’ glasses, and Ted was struck once again how much like an owl she looked when she blinked like that. “Of course, it was a horrible tragedy,” he added…after he saw the look on her wizened face.

“What can I do for you, Ted?” Eisenstadt said, as ever finding this so-called step-son of hers as reprehensible as ever.

“I wanted to make a sizable donation to the Jewish Home for the Aged, and I’ll need your signature to draw from the trust and I wanted to clear it with you before someone from Northern Trust called you.”

He could have done this with a call, so the only reason he was here had to concern his daughter. So…this matter was important to him, but why? “Of course. I’d be most happy to do so. Now Deborah, I see that you took a minor in astronomy? Are you interested in further study in this area?”

Debra looked at her father, then at Eisenstadt. “I am, yes,” she said, perhaps a little too defiantly. Rebelliously, no?

“Have you given graduate studies much thought?” Debra looked away, then looked at her father again, and that was really all Eisenstadt needed to know. “Ted? Why don’t you leave Debra with me for a while?”

“Certainly. Have your secretary call this number when you finish up.”

Eisenstadt waited for Ted to leave, then she came around and sat next to Deb. “I don’t think we’ve had a chance to speak since the funeral. How are you doing, Debra?”

Maybe it was Eisenstadt’s warm voice, her obvious caring, but whatever it was she couldn’t help herself anymore and the dam broke. All the anguish she felt about her father’s overt control over her life came to the fore and she started crying. Eisenstadt put an arm around the girl and let it all come out…the things she had felt after her father engineered William Taylor’s exit from her life and the way he had taken direct control over everything she did in the aftermath. She’d withdrawn from life after graduation. She’d stopped running and started eating self-destructively. She’d gained sixty pounds and now she really hated herself, hated her life and hated William for walking away from their life together…

Debra laid it all out there, so Eisenstadt listened, and closely, too.

“So,” Eisenstadt sighed. “Tell me about astronomy. This is a sincere interest?”

“Actually, it is. I’d just never accepted this was something my father would ever let me do.”

“Let you do?”


“My goodness, you speak as if he owns you. What keeps you from simply stepping out from behind his shadow, from moving out of his house and beyond his control…?”

“Deborah…he has me followed, everywhere I go. I can’t go to the grocery store without a security detail shadowing my every move.”

“Are these men here, even now?”

Debra shrugged. “I have no idea. If they’re good you don’t know they’re around.”

“Dear God.”

Debra cried softly now, and Eisenstadt handed her a tissue. “So, what is it about astronomy that interests you?”

Debra threw the tissue away and looked at Eisenstadt: “I know this might sound trite, but globular clusters. The first time I saw one of those Hubble pictures I wanted to know everything about them.”

“Clusters? Really? Interesting. That is Gene Sherman’s area of expertise.”


“My friend, from the Matterhorn climb this summer…”

“Oh. I didn’t know that.”

She went back to her desk and looked up his extension and called him. “Gene? Could you drop by my office? I have a young astronomer from USC here, and she’s interested in your clusters…”

Sherman knocked on her door a few minutes later and she told him to “Come on in!”

“Gene, this is my step daughter, Debra, and she minored in astronomy at USC. I’ve just gone over her transcripts and she’s a solid student.”

Sherman squinted and took the offered documents then looked them over. “Have you taken the GREs?” he asked.

“Yessir. The score is there, on the bottom right.”

His eyes shifted and then he whistled. “So, two years of calculus, and you took both quantum mechanics and celestial mechanics from Bars?”

“I did, yes.”

“A+ in both, too, and I know he grades tough. Well done you.”

“Thank you.”

“So, you’re into globs? What got you?”

“We went up to Lick when I was in high school, and I got a peek at M13 through the…”

“Through the 20 inch?”

“Yessir. Why?”

“That’s what got me, too. They’d just collimated the main cell and the view was surreal.”

Debra beamed, because she’d finally found someone who understood. “At Lick?” she asked.

“Yeah. Helluva piece of glass, ain’t it?”

“Oh, yessir. I could have looked at her all night. I’m just curious, but did you see the pulsing in the Sagittarius cluster this summer?”

Sherman stiffened, but he nodded. “Yes. I was on the mountain at the time so I didn’t really get a chance to…”

“I recorded it. Almost all of it,” Debra blurted out.

“You what?”

“I recorded it, from the roof of our house. With the new 9.25 inch Celestron astrograph, and on a German equatorial mount. I recorded direct to a hard drive with an electronic eyepiece.”

“You have the raw data?”


“Uh, Dr. Eisenstadt, I called the, uh, the number you gave me. We’re having dinner this evening. Uh, Debra, what are your plans today?”

“Nothing until this evening.”

“Well, maybe the three of us could go grab a bite to eat. I assume you’ll be applying to enter for the winter term?”

Debra shrugged. “I haven’t decided on a course of action just yet, sir.”

“I see. I’m just curious so tell me if I’m out of bounds here, but why not?”

“It’s complicated,” Eisenstadt said, “but I’m free for lunch. Debra, why don’t you call your father and see if he’d mind if we borrow you for a few hours. I think we need to drive out to Haystack, don’t you, Gene?”

“To the radio astronomy center?” Debra cried. “Ooh–yeah! That’d be cool!”


Ted didn’t have a problem with that, not at all.

As a matter of fact, he was counting on it. 

Because this afternoon he was meeting with several mass media consultants, discussing a project he’d had on the back burner for a while. He had, in fact, been purchasing small, independent television stations all over the midwest over the past few years, and he’d recently purchased several small stations in the Portland, Oregon and Puget Sound areas. The first group he was meeting with today would recommend which stations in the Boston and upper New England areas to acquire, while the second meeting later this afternoon would look at stations from the Mid-Atlantic and Deep South regions. If all went according to plan, by this time next week he would own a coast-to-coast network of unaffiliated television stations whose net value was, comparatively speaking, next to nothing.

And a year from now he’d be in charge of a massive unified network broadcasting evangelical programming 24/7, and within five years his new American Eagle Network would be hosting hard right wing opinion shows, and the network’s specialty would be the most divisive fear mongering anyone had ever dared put on the public airwaves.

New York City, New York                                                      11 September 2001

The Gulfstream’s pilot was on the intercom just now, describing their approach into New York City. “We’re passing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, turning north to go up the Hudson. We’ve been cleared to land at LaGuardia and we’ll have a great view of the city off to the right as we fly upriver. It’s eight forty five now, and we expect to be on the ground in five minutes, so Carol, make sure the doors are clear and that everyone’s ready to land.”

Carol Lindstrom, the Gulfstream’s lone flight attendant, checked that the main airstair was clear and armed, then she walked down the aisle to check on Mr. Sorensen and his daughter, They were both sitting on the right side of the aircraft now, both staring intently out the window as the jet came  up on the skyline…

“Dad? Did you see that?”

“Yes., it looked like…oh, shit!”

Sorensen got out of his seat and ran to the cockpit, and thank goodness the door was still open.

“Gordon! An American 767 just hit the North Tower!”

“Sir?” Gordon Gabbert said. “Did you say the North Tower?” Gabbert had been Sorensen’s pilot for almost ten years now, and he knew The Boss would never say anything like this unless it was real.

“Yup. Deb saw it too.”

“LaGuardia Approach, this is Gulfstream Two Two Bravo, we’ve observed an American 767 impacting the North Tower of the World Trade Center.”

“Ok Two Two Bravo, will relay information and you are cleared to land runway one three, report any other information to tower on one eighteen seven, maintain three three hundred to the turn, and good day.”

“Eighteen seven and three three double-oh to the turn. Two Two Bravo.” Gabbert turned to Sorensen then. “You’d better get belted in, sir. Hard right turn in about thirty seconds, then that steep approach.”

“Got it.”

When Ted got back to his seat Debra seemed pale, almost in shock, so he sat across the aisle from her and held her hand in his. Her skin was cold and clammy and he shook his head as he remembered…

“Daddy?” she cried. “Was that real?”

“I saw the same thing you did, honey,” he said gently, “and it looked pretty real to me.”

“Oh, Daddy, how many people…” she tried to say, but then she literally passed out. Her body slumped over just as the Gulfstream banked hard right, and her head slammed against the window and the padded cabin wall. When she came to she was bleeding badly from a small laceration over her right eye, but Sorensen couldn’t see it from his angle. 

But Carol did, and she grabbed a gauze pad from the first aid kit and dashed to Debra’s side, putting a makeshift compress over the wound and holding it there while the jet landed – and Ted saw the look of real concern in Carol’s eyes – and he wondered where such people found their reserves of humanity even while images of the airliner slamming into the side of the North Tower reeled inside his mind’s eye.

It couldn’t have been an accident, not at that speed and most especially not at that altitude.

Then his mind went back to the mid-90s. Islamic groups aligned with some kind of radical cleric had parked a truck bomb in the basement parking garage of one of the towers. And that rich Saudi radical, the one behind the embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, had been reported to be planning some kind of attack on the US. But why?

Oh yes. When Bush had been running for president in ’99 and 2000 he’d come out against a two state solution to the Palestinian “troubles” and a lot of foreign policy pundits had been warning of reprisals ever since. The warning lights had started blinking red over the summer, and even network news reported that W had been apprised of the heightened potential for an attack. Well, it looked like they were right, and W was wrong. Again.

The Gulfstream taxied over to the GA ramp on the west side of the airport and Carol ran up to the cockpit to get Gordon to call for an ambulance, and when he’d done that he came back to see what had happened.

“She passed out,” Carol said, “right when we made that last turn onto final.”

“She passed out?” Gabbert asked. “What happened?”

“She saw the impact,” Ted sighed. “I did too. It was awful.”

“We could see the smoke from the cockpit when we pulled in here. Heavy black smoke, so lots of jet fuel involved.”

“Gordon!” the co-pilot cried. “There’s another incoming report. Newark Tower reports a United 767 hit the South Tower!”

Ted felt his heart beating harder, and he also felt an impossible anger welling up deep inside as he turned to his chief pilot. “Gordon, make sure our fuel is topped off. Carol? You ride to the hospital with Deb and get her back out here to the aircraft as soon as you can. Gordon, see about filing a flight plan for London, or maybe Copenhagen. I’m not sure what’s going on, but this may not be the safest place to be right now.”

The co-pilot called out again: “Mr. Sorensen, it looks like your limo is here.”

“Thanks, Paul,” he replied before turning to his crew: “Any questions?”

Both shook their head.

Paul Bartok was extending the airstairs now, and when the locking mechanism clicked into place Ted ran down to the waiting Mercedes and disappeared into the city. An ambulance pulled up moments later and EMTs rushed aboard; they decided to carry Deb to a nearby Urgent Care facility, leaving Gordon to file a flight plan for London Stansted and to get the aircraft refueled. By the time airspace over the continental United States was closed two hours later, the Gulfstream was already wheels up and outside of the continental ADIZ, the Air Defense Identification Zone, paralleling the Massachusetts coastline while climbing for forty-one thousand feet.

Only now there was an additional passenger onboard.

And Carol thought he was the most dangerous looking human being she had ever seen in her life.

© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkü all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.

(Civil Twilight \\ Letters From The Sky)

And if you don’t pay attention to the lyrics on this one you’ll be missing something…interesting.

Forgotten Songs From An Imaginary Life, Chapter 13.7

A Housee no windows

A very short sub-chapter today, and this is the last chapter in Part III. Part IV, The Music of the Spheres, will also be the last part in this story, and will begin early next week.

Tears For Fears \\ Stay

Part III: The House With No Windows

Chapter 13.7

Venice Beach, California                                           24 December 1999

William walked up to the door of the little bungalow on the boardwalk in Venice Beach and looked in the door, There was no furniture inside now, nothing, not even a coffee maker on the kitchen counter. Everything had been packed up and cleared out – in a little over 24 hours; now a For Sale sign was posted out front. Debra had not been at LAX to pick him up, and…she wasn’t here, either.

He walked down to a bench on the boardwalk and sat down, looked at the bikini-clad girls on rollerblades and the guys pumping iron in their many-colored Speedos and his world hardly made sense anymore. Snow and twenty below just a short airplane ride away…and now, here? People were cooking burgers on grills on their front patios, looking at the setting sun with frozen margaritas in hand. So many happy people, so many happy illusions.

And lost in such thought he saw a shiny black Porsche Carrera pull into the parking place behind the bungalow, and a moment later Ted Sorensen stepped out and walked along side of the house right up to him, and without asking or any other sort of preamble he simply sat down beside him.

“Bad day, William?”

“I reckon so, but then again I guess you know that already. This was all your doing, I reckon?”

“Of course.”

“You hate me that much, huh?”

“Not at all, Leonidas. I’m simply protecting what belongs to me – my interests, you might say.”

“Don’t call me that.”


“Where’s Deb?”

“Someplace where she can think for a while. She’s very confused right now.”

“I can only imagine. Is this what she wanted?”

“Oh…no. No, as a matter of fact I think she’s quite angry with me.”

“So? Why did you do it?”

“I will not be deposed, Leonidas. Not again. But you know the old saying…keep your friends close, and your enemies closer still?”

“I’ve heard that before, yes.”

“Well, I think right now you fall into the latter category. So, I’m going to keep you closer still.”

“Why do you think I’m your enemy?”

“Memory is a strange thing, Leonidas. What did Mann say? Deep is the well of the past…so deep that may we not call it bottomless?”

“I’m not sure I follow you.”


“Good?” William sighed. “Is there anything else you wanted to gloat over, Ted?”

“Holy shit, Bill. You finally called me Ted. I am fucking impressed.”

“I’m so glad.”

“Well, let me come to the point. When the NFL draft comes along this winter the Forty Niners are going to take you in the seventh round. They’re going to try to sign you for ten million, but if I were you I’d hold out for fifteen. Your worth it.”

“I guess I should ask how you know that, but I assume it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

“No, it doesn’t, not really, but for your information only I now hold a significant ownership position in the team.”

“Of course you do. That makes sense.”

“Glad you approve. Next, when you finish playing football you’ll have a position waiting for you at the studio.” Sorensen reached into his coat pocket and pulled out an envelope and handed it to Taylor. “This is the contract, if you chose to exercise the provisions. Oh, the title and all the other paperwork for that Porsche is in there, too. It’s yours now, if you want it.”

Taylor looked at Sorensen and sighed. “So, that’s it? The payoff? Is that what you call it?”

“Oh, you could look at it like that, but Bill, I prefer to think at you as an investment, a long term investment, and my terms are simple. You stay away from Debra for now, period. And don’t try to get in touch with her without talking to me first. And in exchange for that, Bill, you’re going to get to lead the kind of life that most of the people in this city can only dream of.”

“Simple? You really think this is simple?”

“You don’t really need to concern yourself with what I think, Bill. You can either accept the terms of the offer, or not.”

“And if I don’t?”

“Of course, if that’s your choice, but I’d rather not talk about that. Oh, I had a call from your father. Frank has been in an accident of some kind and he’d like you to call as soon as you can.”

“What? Is it serious?”

“He didn’t say, Bill.”

“Jesus. Uh, look, I have Debra’s purse. I didn’t have any money for a…”

“In the envelope, Bill. There’s an American Express Black Card. No credit limit and I’ll pay the bills until you start with the Forty Niners, so stop worrying about money, okay? Like I said, I consider you a long term investment, and I take care of my investments, alright?”

And with a cool grin, Ted held out his hand.

William Taylor took a long hard look at the extended hand, then he took it.

On the flight back up to Montana he considered that moment over and over as he looked out the window. How cold Sorensen’s flesh had felt in his hand, and how cold his eyes were. Hard and cold – and almost black, a little like a sharks. Or Satan’s, as his mother would no doubt say.

He shook his head, and he wondered how Frank was doing – as Ted’s Gulfstream descended through snow filled clouds on its approach to Billings.

© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkü all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.

Spandau Ballet \\ True

Forgotten Songs From An Imaginary Life, Chapter 13.6

A Housee no windows

Setting the stage now…for a little beach music.

(Yes\\And You And I)

Part III: The House With No Windows

Chapter 13.6

Beverly Hills, California                                              August 1999

“So, what’s this going to be? Your twenty-first?”

“Yessir,” William replied. “I started school a year early.”


“I think because I was so tall.”

Ted Sorensen looked up from his Wall Street Journal and nodded. “Understandable. Heard you went over to Fox on a class project. Did you meet Lucas?”


“And…what did you think…?” Ted added, returning his attention to the newspaper.

“He’s kind of like a genius, if you know what I mean. He’s got this vision…”

“Yes, yes, I think I understand that, but personally…how did he strike you.”

“Down to earth, very low key.”

“Compare him to Coppola. What are the key differences in their approach to making movies…?”

“They’re really pretty similar, sir, only Coppola should have been a farmer. Be’s basically not real happy unless his hands are in the dirt.”

“The dirt?” Sorensen said, looking up from the paper again. “What does that mean?”

“Just that, sir. I think at heart he’s a farmer. Making movies was a means to an end for him.”

“And farming is his end?”

“I think so, sir.”

Sorensen nodded, filing that little tidbit away – for the time being, anyway. “What time does your brother’s flight get in?”

“Four-thirty, at LAX.”

“And you’re going to take him up to The Chart House tonight?”

“Yessir. I was kind of hoping you could make it.”

Sorensen nodded. “We’ll see. I’ve got a meeting up in the city tomorrow morning.”


“I heard a couple of scouts from the Forty Niners were looking you over. That true?”

“Yessir. Two days this week, and their team orthopedic surgeon looked at my knee.”

“And that means what, exactly…?” Yet Ted already had already read their report, and he’d talked to the coach already, too.

“They usually don’t do that unless they’re serious.”

“Oh? Well, how’d the exam go?” 

“Fine, sir.”

“You still running? Did I hear ten miles a day?”

“Yessir, about.”


“We run from Venice up to Sunset, then back down to the breakwater at the marina before turning back for Venice. It’s about ten miles, I think.”

“You run on the boardwalk down there?”

“Some, but more out on the beach. It helps the knee, sir.”

“You said we. Who do you run with?”

“With? Oh, with Deb, sir, and we’ve got a regular group from the team that joins us.”

“Deb is running ten miles a day? Seriously?”

“Oh, yes sir. She’s got better wind than me now, too. She could easily do a marathon, sir.”

Sorensen looked up when he heard that, because the Kid had his full attention now. Debra had been plagued with respiratory issues her first five years, from asthma to chronic bronchitis, and he remembered her ENT telling Kat she might always have issues…so this was another new development, a new and quite unexpected wrinkle in the continuing repercussions of her “visits” by the feathered creatures. Like the unexplained stretch marks on her belly, and her Ob-Gyn calling to ask why she’d been nursing an infant recently.

Too many questions. And no answers.

And now this. She was ready to run marathons now, too?

Nothing was adding up. Nothing at all, and these days even his mother was a little use. She’d retired and sold the house in Brentwood and moved up to an assisted living facility in Ojai, and some days were definitely better than others where her mental acuity was concerned. They rarely spoke anymore…

He shook his head at that. “Marathons, you say? Why don’t you run the hills up above Sunset. Probably get a better workout that way.”

The Kid nodded. “I’ll mention that to her, sir, but Venice is so convenient.”

Sorensen had bought a little bungalow down there for her, because – or so she’d said at the time – she needed some more space. Whatever the hell that meant, other than she needed a place to screw the Kid? Their little love shack was cheap enough, that much was certain, so he’d demurred. Besides, one of the security heads at the studio lived nearby and he’d been fine with keeping an eye on her…well…them. Anyway, he’d sell it in January, after the breakup, and he’d turn a tidy profit so what the hell. It just didn’t matter now, one way or another.

Because while Taylor still officially lived on campus he was for all intents and purposes living with Deb now, and while that complicated matters somewhat Sorensen had anticipated that development. Still, he had planned this ‘inevitable’ breakup, and he knew that when it came it would shake up his daughter, probably seriously so. But that couldn’t be helped, Sorensen knew. The Kid just wasn’t right for her. Never had been, never would be. Redneck white-trash…that’s what he was and probably all he’d ever been…

But he knew better, and he had ever since that night in Haifa.

‘Leonidas…Leonidas…and so the boy-king ascended to the throne on the shoulders of his brother, his brother the deposed king. And that would be…me? Leonidas deposed…me? What the Hell is going on? What does it mean that William is here, now, lurking in the shadows? My shadow?”

Yes, Sorensen was becoming more and more like his father. Madness had been programmed into the sequence, had it not? Madness could be so useful.

A blue sphere in the room, no larger than a mote of dust, glowed briefly before it pulsed once, then disappeared.


Frank’s grades had never been good, and so college had never really been an option, at least not by way of academic merit, anyway. Perhaps if he’d been even half as good a football player as his brother some school might have tried him out, but no, that was not the case either, and so college was never meant to be. Frank was, however, a good enough hand on the ranch. He was decent with horses and could handle most of the routine physical chores that went with running cattle in north central Montana…which is, by the bye, one of the coldest, if not the coldest environments in the lower 48 states.

Bookkeeping? He was not so good there. Running a combine? No, not really, but then again these days wheat harvests were increasingly being outsourced to large operations that started in the far north then worked their way south through the Great Plains, with just a few dozen large operators harvesting most of the wheat in the country. 

And yet William knew their father understood all that. Frank would never be able to handle the ranch, so it was time to think about letting one of his other brothers take the reins for a while. Such a move would hurt Frank, and deeply, but then again Bill Sr. recalled that his father had made it clear he expected William to take over when the time came.

But no one had never expected his firstborn to be such a jock. And a good one, as it happened.

Yet there had been one other bump along the way, a bump during his junior year in high school.

Montana is a peculiar place. Fierce independence born of relentless isolation is certainly a defining characteristic of life there, but so too is a deep, abiding thirst for knowledge. Montana has produced more than its fair share of writers, and a bunch of those writers started out as teachers. Most of them go back east to school, to places like Harvard and Dartmouth, yet almost all these souls end up back in Montana. Maybe it’s the mountains. Maybe it’s because the sky really is bigger there. Who knows? And one of those souls ended up teaching at the high school where William Taylor was a student.

She taught History, and she saw something in the hulking boy. Something almost gifted, but a gift grounded in a real desire to work hard at whatever he put his mind to. William was in her US History class during his junior year, and with a nudge here and a little encouragement there he started to turn in excellent work, so much so that she invited him to join her Advanced Placement US History course in his last year there. And this proved pivotal.

Most jocks don’t take AP classes, and fewer still ace the national AP exam – yet Taylor did. And taking that class, let alone doing as well as he did on the exam, made the admissions office at USC sit up and take note of the hulking jock from Nowhere, Montana. Taylor won a full-ride scholarship on the merits of that achievement, and he had done so well at USC that he would have been admitted to the film school even without Ted Sorensen’s intercessions. And now that it looked like he was headed to the pros he was fast becoming one of the biggest names on campus.

Yet, and Sorensen had checked on this more than once, Taylor remained steadfastly loyal to Debra. He professed undying love for her, and Sorensen knew the Kid wanted to marry her. The trouble with that, as far as he was concerned, was the boy’s parents. His father was way out there on the lunatic fringe, a born again neo-Nazi right out of some kind of perverse comic book, while his mother was a born again sky pilot who saw Jesus in cloud formations. And now she was painting these visions, too…on black velvet canvases. Sheesh!

Even Debra was a little concerned about meeting William’s parents.

She’d told her father about the things William had said on that dive trip to Catalina. That even he was ashamed of them…

Maybe that was the key to the whole dilemma, Ted had thought, at least for a while. Maybe the Kid would, in effect, renounce his parents, but then what? Could he then drop his objections to the Kid marrying Debra? 

So…Ted had picked up all these tidbits long before Frank Taylor flew down to LA for his big brother’s 21st birthday, and sitting beside Debra looking out at the sea he was really only half aware of the conversation going on between the three of them.

“So…you make movies?” he heard a voice saying, and he turned to see this strange looking boy staring at him.

“Me?” Ted replied. “Well, you might say that.”

“Bill says you were the one behind the Star Force movies. Those are my favorite!”

“Bill said that? Really?”

“Yeah. I just wanted to tell you how much I admire your work,” the boy said, holding out his right hand.

And Ted took it. “Well, thank you so much. That means the world to me.” He tried not to flinch when Deb kicked him under the table, though he did turn and give her “The Look.” The look that said ‘Don’t you ever do that to me again or I’ll disown you…’

But she’d already turned away by then. 

“Will you be able to come with us to Disneyland tomorrow?”

“Sadly, no. I have to be in San Francisco.”

“Oh. This is good beer, ya know?”

“I’m glad you like it. Why don’t you kids head on up to the salad bar and rustle up some rabbit food?”

“Rabbit food!” Frank cried, slapping the table – and quite loudly, too. “I love it!”

Ted smiled. “Have all you want, my boy!”

He cringed after they left for the salad bar, and he cursed the day Debra had met that fucking oaf.

Billings, Montana                                       23 December 1999

She was a little miffed that her dad hadn’t let them come up in the Gulfstream, but he’d only shrugged her anger away. “Don’t pout,” he’d then goaded her, “it will spoil the lines of your face.”

So they’d flown to Salt Lake City and now they were crammed in some kind of Canadian ‘regional jet’ – a euphemism for cramped and uncomfortable if ever there was one – and to make matter worse the weather was truly horrendous, with nothing but blowing snow everywhere she looked…

She was sitting next to the window in 1A, her left knee pressed into the boarding stairs, and William was grinning like a fool. The bottom dropped and the left wing jerked up then the jet yawed hard and the power came on suddenly, and quite powerfully, and Debra was just about sure this was the end. The she looked at the flight attendant sitting just ahead, the woman facing her too, and yet the woman was yawning and filling a fingernail.

Then it felt like something huge had just kicked the bottom out from under the little jet and even the stewardess looked up at that, just in time for her meal cart – now loaded with cans of soda pop – to spew it’s contents all over the galley. And about that time some unfortunate soul spewed the contents of her stomach all over the cabin, and the stench hit everyone at about the same time; Deb reached for her barf-bag and opened it wide, feeling the bile rising in her throat just before the sweats began, only in earnest now. An invisible hand shoved the aircraft down again, and hard, then the power came on hard, again, only to come off a little, and she turned and looked out the nauseatingly small window, hoping her death would come quickly and wouldn’t be too painful…

But no, she saw city lights, and pretty close, too, then she felt the bump-bump-chirping sound of the main gears kissing the earth again and she did what everyone else on the little jet did…she broke out into wild, teary-eyed applause…

“Woo-hoo! Man, that was great!” William shouted. “That was almost better than Space Mountain, darlin’!”

She smiled, then brought the barf bag to her face.

Too late, as it happened.


She walked up the Jetway, her head down, and she’d never felt so embarrassed. 

Here she was, about to meet her future in-laws – with barf on her breath! And then she saw bits of barf on her sweater and wanted to run away…

But no…there was Frank. Standing next to two of the most ordinary looking people ever. She’d been expecting they’d be holding pitchforks maybe, or that they’d have red skin, horns and split tails… But no…for some reason William’s father reminded her of Glenn Ford. Steel-gray crew-cut hair, genial smile and fit as a fiddle. Pressed jeans and Reeboks…not cowboy boots? He was wearing a green John Deere ball cap, but that was hardly unexpected, and he came forward and gave her a little hug, too.

“Hi there,” he said – genially. “I’m Bill Taylor, and this is Wanda, my better half.”

And Wanda stepped forward, almost shyly, and she gave Debra a polite little hug.

“I’m so pleased to finally meet you both,” Deb said, now acutely aware that her breath just had to smell almost as nice as the urinals in a busy truck-stop – and that was precisely when Wanda took out a tissue and picked a couple of chunky bits of barf off Deb’s brand new cable-knit cashmere sweater.

“Must’ve been a nice flight,” Bill Sr said, grinning. “About half the folks coming off this plane look green.”

“Oh, Dad, it was a kick in the ass! You’d’ve loved it!”

“Watch it, son. You’re in polite company,” Bill said, his sudden deep scowl hard and final.


“We thought we’d make a night of it,” Bill continued. “Whenever we come in for a special occasion like this we like to head over to Outback. Anyone feel like steak tonight?”

“Sure!” Deb said, her stomach doing another barrel roll. “That sounds great!”

She sat in the back, between Wanda and Frank, while the two Bills sat up front, with Bill Jr. doing the driving…

“I got cataracts,” he explained. “Gonna have ‘em fixed this winter, so meantime I don’t drive much at night.”

“I hear it’s an easy operation,” Deb said helpfully.

“Hope so,” Bill Sr said, and that was about all he said for the rest of the evening.

After they were seated at the restaurant she waited to see what they ordered to drink – both parents opted for ice-water, but both Frank and Bill Jr went for iced tea, so she went with an iced tea as well.

The boys ordered huge ribeyes while the obviously frugal parents ordered chopped steak – hamburger patties – off the seniors menu, so she ordered a salad topped with slices of steak, and Wanda appeared to approve of her just then. Point scored!

When they left the restaurant they had to backtrack into the main part of Billings and Bill Sr made sure they stopped and topped-off the Suburban’s main fuel tank, “because you never know when you’ll need the extra gas,” then it was up a long incline and they passed the airport as they left town…and then, within the span of a quarter mile, they were out on an endless expanse of snow-capped prairie. The way ahead was lit by two inadequate headlights, and as far as she could tell there wasn’t another living human being in sight…in any direction. Not even a streetlight pierced the snowy gloom…

“You know,” she said to Frank, “this is the exact opposite of Los Angeles.”

“I told ya!” he cried. “Remember when we was driving down to Disneyland? I think I said pretty much the exact same thing…like that was the exact opposite of home…and it is, too! There’s nothing but people everywhere you look down there, and here…”

“I don’t see anyone out there,” Deb sighed.

“Not much out there this time of year,” Bill Sr said. “We winter most of our herd down in Texas or New Mexico, then bring ‘em back here for the summer grass, to fatten ‘em up before market. Only thing out there right now is prairie dogs and rattlesnakes, and they’re all deep in the ground, sleeping ’til the ground warms up again.”

“So there aren’t any snakes around here right now?” Deb asked, which prompted laughs all around.

“Snakes dip into their holes whenever the temps fall below fifty-five. Lay their eggs down there too, then they all come up in June, hungry and mean as can be.”

Deb shivered.

“You cold, dear?” Wanda chided.

“A little, yes.”

“Bill, turn up the heat back here, please,” Wanda added.

“Yes, mother,” Bill Sr replied. “Supposed to get about a foot tonight. I think you two were flying through it on your way here.”

“A foot?” Deb asked. “Of what? Snow?”

“Yup. But that forecast is for Billings. We’ll get more up here.”

“More?” she said incredulously. “How much more?”

“Don’t much matter,” Bill Sr sighed. “William, I’d appreciate the help while you’re around.”

“Yessir. You got the plow on the F-150?”

“Yes, of course, but I picked up a new F-350, a dually. And yes, I’ve already got the chains on her.”

“Just the main drive and the barn?”

“Yes, well, but I’d like you to go down and do Walter’s driveway. He just had prostate surgery and the doc don’t want him on his feet just yet.”

About ten miles out of Billings the snow really started to come down at a steady clip, and by the time they made it out to the ranch there was already six inches on the highway, and to make matters more interesting the power was out.

“Frank? Go see why the generator didn’t kick in. William, you and I will need to check the cows, and you might as well take a pass with the plow.”


“Debra and I will take care of the bags, Bill,” Wanda added.

William parked the Suburban after he helped get the bags out of the back, then he walked out to the dairy barn to help his dad.

“Generator didn’t kick in out here, too.”

“How old is the fuel, Dad?”

“Got it last winter.”

“Did you put the stabilizer in, like I told you?”


“Yeah, pops, to keep algae from growing…”

“Don’t call me that, son.”

William ignored him, for the time being anyway, and then he turned and walked to the storeroom and found two new fuel filters. He made his way out to the main generator first and changed the filter in the driving snow, then he primed the diesel and turned on the main unit, the generator that powered the house at times like this, then he made his way back out to the dairy barn and got that unit up and running, too.

His dad was waiting for him in the main part of the barn.

“Milk didn’t freeze so I think we’ll be okay here. The keys are in the -350 if you want to get a start on the driveway.”

He looked at his father, at the bare-faced emptiness within the dry shell of the man, then he just shook his head and made his way through the drifting knee-deep snow to the new Ford and got it going. He found the controls for the snowplow while the engine warmed up, then he started in on the area between the main house and the dairy barn, the deeply ingrained rhythms of the daily grind here coming back to him without any real conscious thought on his part. He finished the main drive then made his way down to his Uncle Walter’s place and did that one too.

By the time he made it back to the house it was long past midnight, and he realized he’d been at it for almost five hours. He felt a little chill and looked at his clothes, at the flimsy shit he’d put on back in LA., and he shook his head. But his mom was, like she had been since he’d been old enough to tie his own shoes, waiting for him in the kitchen with hot cocoa and some fresh oatmeal raisin cookies, and right out of the oven, too. He came into the kitchen and plopped down into his usual chair and put his hands around the mug of cocoa, warming his hands before he took his first long pull.

“Thanks, Mom. You’re the best,” he sighed…

…and she smiled, then looked away. “Your father told me about the filters.”

“Is he forgetting stuff like that a lot, Mom?”

She looked at him again but then hesitated and simply shook her head. “Oh, not so much, really. Little stuff. You know, not the big things.”

“Great cookies. I love ‘em when they’re still warm like this.”

“I put some of those tiny chocolate chips in this batch. Can you tell the difference?”

“Yeah, I thought I tasted something new. I like ‘em.”

“Are you really going to stay down there with all those Jews and those…those negroes?”

William sucked in a deep breath but decided to let this one slide. “I’m happy there, Mom.”

“And you’re needed here, son.”

“Frank can handle it, Mom.”

But she vehemently shook her head: “No, he can’t. He’s stupid, Bill, and you know it.”

He’d never heard her talk about Frank like this before, and especially not so crudely, so he was a little shocked when he heard that. “Stupid, Mom? Why…what’s this all about? What did he do?”

“You belong here, William. You’re needed here. We built this up for you, and now you’re turning your back on everything we did…”

“Mom, no…I…”

“It was that Jew-girl, wasn’t it? That History teacher? She infected you! Can’t you see that? Ever since you took that class of hers you been different. Real different…”

“Miss Eisenstadt? Mom? Are you serious?”

“They ran that Jew out of here a year or so ago. She’s over in Bozeman now, over there with all the other filthy Jew-lovers.”

He took another sip of cocoa and finished his second cookie, then he smiled at his mother and went up to his room.

Debra was, of course, not there…so he went up to the guest bedroom on the third floor, in what was, really, the attic; she woke when he came up the steps and opened the door. She sat up and rubbed her eyes while he sat on the edge of her bed, then she looked at her watch and sighed.

“It’s almost one in the morning!” she whispered.

“And I gotta get up at 5:30. Tomorrow is going to be a real ball-buster,” he sighed.

“Can I come with you?” 

“Sure. Just dress warm, ‘cause its gonna be a cold one.”

“Like how cold is cold around here?”

“The high is gonna be like 15 below.”

“Shit! Are you fucking serious?”

“Serious as a heart attack, babe. Montana don’t much suffer city folk or sissies, ya know?”

“Sweet Jesus…” Deb sighed. “Fifteen below?”

“And don’t talk like that around mother – or world war three might just break out…”

“Right. I forgot.”

“Breakfast is at five-forty five. What time do you want me to get you up?”

“I don’t know. What do I need to wear?”

“Everything,” he said, grinning like a madman, and she thought he looked just like his father.


Breakfast was eggs and freshly baked bread, bread made from wheat grown on Taylor land, eggs from the laying chickens in Taylor coops. Hands were held all ‘round the table as prayers were said and the meal was eaten quickly and in utter silence – until Bill Sr handed out his marching orders, anyway.

“Frank, you’d better ride the east fence. I can see a couple steers out there; try to fix the fence right this time. William…Aunt Ducey called and she can’t even get to her plow so after you get ours done go out and get hers before you…”

“Got it, Dad.”

“Now Debra, can you stay here and help Mother get lunch ready?”

Deb looked at William, who spoke up then: “Actually, Dad, I was hoping she could ride with me today…”

“She’s not needed out there, boy, and your mother could use the help getting ready for Christmas Eve. We’re going to have family here tonight, remember?”

William nodded. “Yessir. Sorry Deb, but he’s right.”

She felt a little uneasy just then, more of an outsider than she’d ever thought possible, and the idea of helping prepare some kind of Christmas Eve dinner simply didn’t ring true. No, she felt like she was being maneuvered, pushed aside and shunted under a microscope – like something to be examined once before it was discarded.

“Dad?” Frank said. “That’s not exactly fair, ya know?”

“I don’t recall asking you, Frank,” his father said, quietly, calmly, menacingly. “Now I think you boys need to get to work. Company’s coming at five o’clock,” he said, looking down at his wristwatch, “and we’re burning daylight.”


She watched William driving the Ford around all the driveways for a moment, then he made a couple of passes out the driveway before turning north on the highway and he disappeared in the driving snow.

“Can you help with the stuffing?” Wanda said.

“Excuse me?”

“The stuffing. You do know how to cook, don’t you?”

“No, not really.”

Mrs. Taylor stopped in her tracks and stared at Debra for a long time, apparently not sure what to say next. “You do eat, don’t you?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well then, who cooks the food around your house?”

“We have two people, a chef and an assistant cook. And I…”

Mrs. Taylor’s eyes blinked in confused incomprehension. “You…what?”

“My father has two people to do the cooking at the house, as well as two housekeepers who cook, too. I’ve never really cooked anything in my life.”

“Do you know how to run a vacuum cleaner? Dust a table?”

Debra shook her head.

“I’m sorry, but just what can you do?”

But Debra just smiled, refusing to be drawn into any kind of argument with this woman. “If you’ll show me what you need me to do I’ll be more than happy to lend a hand,” she said – though quietly, calmly, and menacingly.

Wanda Taylor knew that look, understood the people who wielded that kind of inner strength, so just looked down and nodded. “Is this the kind of life you think you’ll have with my boy?”

“And what kind of life would that be, Mrs. Taylor?”

“Cooks, servants, that kind of stuff?”

“I would imagine we’ll lead the kind of life we want to, Mrs. Taylor.”

“I see.”

“I wonder. Do you?”

“He’s a good boy, you know. And you’re going to ruin him, take all this away from him,” she said, holding her arms wide, indicating this house and all the prairies and mountains around their home.

“Yes, he is a good man, and he’s bigger than all this. And I think that scares you. It always has, hasn’t it?”

And then Wanda Taylor exhaled deeply, deflating as she sat down in a chair by the kitchen table. “I’m so tired of worrying about him. Both of us are. Maybe because there’s nothing we can do, I suppose.”

“But you must know…he’s already leading a kind of magical life, a life already full of meaningful accomplishments. It looks like he’s going to be playing in the NFL, and he already has good contacts in the entertainment business. The sky really is the limit as far as William is concerned, and I love him. I want to be a part of that life, to help him achieve all those things he never could here…”

“Your children. They’ll be Jews, won’t they?”

Debra looked at this woman and all the tumblers fell into place. “Oh, don’t worry, Mrs. Taylor. We stopped eating our children years ago.”

Maybe her little jab was undeserved, but in that instant Wanda Taylor’s heart filled with an immeasurable Hate. She stood and went to her bedroom, slamming the door shut behind her as she went – leaving Debra alone in the kitchen.

“My, my,” she sighed, “but that went well.” And with that she went upstairs and found a telephone. She spoke with her father for almost an hour then went to the third floor attic to pack her suitcase.


When the boys came in the boys were greeted by stone cold silence.

Wanda was still in her bedroom. Debra wasn’t helping make dinner for Christmas Eve. Lunch wasn’t on the kitchen table, and Bill Sr marched off to his bedroom to see what had gone wrong with his little world.

William walked upstairs. Quietly, gently, menacingly, and not at all sure what to feel. This was Christmas. This was supposed to be a quiet night together with family, and he had wanted to make a special announcement this night, of all nights, because Christmas Eve had always been a special kind of time. And asking Deb to marry him in front of all his family was the most special thing he could imagine…

The first thing he saw when he went inside the little attic guest room was her packed suitcase, and he sighed in utter defeat.

She was in the bathroom, presently blow-drying her hair, and he sat in the little room, deciding to wait for her, to wait for the confrontation he knew was coming.

‘Maybe I should have told her more. Maybe I should have told her more about mother,’ he thought, his confusion now complete. A few minutes later she stepped out of the tiny bathroom and she even seemed surprised to see him, yet she finished putting on her clothes in absolute silence, then she came and sat on the edge of the bed. 

“I don’t belong here, William. I never have, and I never will.”

“But I do. Is that what you’re saying?”


“You’re wrong, Deb. I belong with you, we belong together, and you know that’s true.”

She nodded. “I did, yes, until this morning. But William, this is who you are, where you belong. Can’t you see that?”

He shook his head. “No. No, I can’t. I can’t wait to get back to LA. I can’t wait to get away from this place, from her…”

“Who? From your mother?”

He nodded. “Yes. And everything she stands for, the hatred, the narrow-mindedness, her walled-off view of the world…”

“Don’t you think she needed all those walls simply in order to survive out here? To keep all those things out of her mind, walled off, so they wouldn’t drive her mad? Everything seems so out of reach here…”

He shook his head. “No, not in the least. Don’t glamorize that hatred, Deb. Her world is inside one little book, her Book of Numbers, and nothing else matters to her. Everything that doesn’t fit inside that little world is something to be put down, to be shunned and derided…”

She nodded. “You can’t see it yet, can you?”

“See what?”

“We’re too far apart. From two different worlds, close…but not touching.”

“What do you want to do, Deb?”

“Take me to the airport, please. Dad’s coming to pick me up.”

“Oh? So…Daddy’s coming to rescue his little princess? And where does that leave me, I wonder? Some garbage to be tossed out along the side of the road? Just drive off, fly away I mean, and just like that, be done with it? With me?”

“This isn’t really all that complicated, William? At least it doesn’t have to be. Dad has plans for you, so don’t worry about all that.”

“You two must have had a lot to talk about while I was out there pushing snow around.”

“Can you carry my bag down, please?”

“Can I at least pack my stuff? I’m coming with you.”

“Bring your airline ticket.”

“I see. So that’s it, then?”

“You should stay here, William. Be with your family.”

“You are my family, Debra.”

She just shook her head, picked up her bag and headed down the creaky stairs. She found Frank down there and asked him to drive her into the airport.

“What about William?” he asked, and when she shook her head Frank groaned inside. “Okay. Let me get the keys.”

By the time William came running down the stairs with his suitcase the old white Suburban was out the driveway and turning onto the highway. “Goddamnit!” he yelled.

“What’s going on, son,” his father said, coming out of his bedroom.

“Deb’s gone, on her way to the airport…”

“What? Why?”

“Something happened with Mom. She packed her bags – and she just broke up with me.”

Bill nodded. “I’ll get the keys to the old 150. We can catch them before they get to the airport.”

They ran out to the truck and started for Billings.

And still the blizzard only picked up strength…


Bill Sr expected to find the Suburban at the FBO on the east end of the airport in Billings, at the Edwards Jet Center, and he was correct. He drove into the parking lot and they found Frank and Debra sitting in the truck, with the engine still running. Debra’s face was a wreck, her eyes bloodshot from the nonstop tears that had been running down her face since she’d left the house, and when the old Ford pulled in next to her she seemed almost happy to see William.

Then William came to her door and she rolled the window down.

“What are you doing here?” she said to him, trying to hide the relief she felt.

“Trying to stop you from doing something really dumb,” he said, trying to smile but still very confused.


“Yeah, dumb. Your dad’s trying to break us apart, Deb. He has been for a while. Can’t you see that?”

“He wouldn’t do that, William. Really, he just wouldn’t…”

“Deb…don’t let him do this to us. Don’t throw what we have away. We, you and I, we can make this work.”

They heard a jet land through the snow and everyone turned to look…but it was a Delta CRJ landing and turning for the commercial terminal…and Bill Sr stepped close then and looked at Debra.

“Little lady, I know we’re a little rough around the edges out here but William is a good boy and he loves you. I just spent an hour listening to him go on and on about you and how much he loves you, and I’d sure hate to see something as silly as Wanda spouting off about God and all that stuff she’s into come between you two.”

She looked at Bill Sr and nodded. “I understand, Mr. Taylor, really I do, but…”

“No buts, Debra,” Bill Sr said. “You two need to go sit somewhere and talk. This is big stuff and no one needs to go off half-cocked. William? You two go on inside and wait for her father. Frank and I will be right here if you need us.”

Another jet landed, and this time William could see Ted’s Gulfstream slowing on the runway, the thrust reversers kicking up a dense flurry of snow on the runway before it turned onto a taxiway and headed for the FBO.

“Dad, Frank, would you come with me, please. I’d like you to at least meet Mr. Sorensen. Deb? Are you okay with that?”

She nodded and followed the boys into the base, walking up to the ramp door to wait for her father. And it didn’t take long for the Gulfstream to taxi up to the business jet terminal and park. A fuel truck pulled up to the jet and quickly began refueling the aircraft, then the main airstair opened and the co-pilot came down to the ramp and jogged to the door.

“Miss Sorensen, you’re to come with me please. Now.”

“I’m bringing William,” she replied.

“I’m sorry, but he is not invited.”

She nodded then turned to William, and then she handed him her purse. “Buy a ticket and come straight to L.A.; I’ll pick you up at LAX as soon as I can. If you don’t hear from me, go to the beach house and wait for me there.”

He took her purse and kissed her on the lips, and then she turned and walked out to the waiting jet. As soon as she was aboard the airstair closed, but the jet remained there while the refueling operation continued, then the engines started and the jet taxied out to the runway. A minute later he and his brother and father watched the jet take off and climb into the snow-filled clouds, and William felt a sudden shattering emptiness, like everything he’d expected his life to be had just come undone. Now completely overcome, the man-child looked down and started to cry.

And his kid brother came over and grabbed him by the shirt collar and shook him. “What the hell is the matter with you, bro? Let’s get you over to the terminal and on your way…”

“But…it’s Christmas,” he whispered, “and Mom will be so disappointed…”

“Fuck her and the horse she rode in on,” Bill Sr said. “Get your shit together, son. You’ve got your work cut out for you, so let’s get you to it.”

William nodded, but he was looking at the clouds now, and wondering if the sun would ever come out again.

© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkü all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.

John Denver \\ season suite: Late Winter Early Spring

Forgotten Songs From An Imaginary Life, Chapter 13.5

A Housee no windows

Down we go into the rabbit hole, deeper and deeper…at least until the stars rise.

Time enough for jasmine tea?

I sure hope so…

(Stephen Stills, Do For The Others)

Part III: The House With No Windows

Chapter 13.5

Beverly Hills, California                                                            June 1997

Debra found her father staring into nothingness more often than not these days, and this morning he had been standing in the kitchen – staring deep into the upper atrium koi-pond – his hands hanging limply at his side. The housekeeper had fixed his usual breakfast of scrambled eggs and nova-lox, but the food remained on the dining room table, uneaten and getting cold. Yesterday’s had remained untouched as well, as had the day before and the day before that. She came quietly to his side and stood beside him, waiting…

“Hello, little one,” he said some time later. “What are you up to today?”

“Oh, I thought I might go jump off a bridge. You know, do something constructive?”

“Oh? Well, have a good time.”



“It’s time to snap out of it, okay? It’s time to rejoin the human race.”

“The human race? What?”

“Well, that might be a better course of action than this self abuse, don’t you think?”

“Self abuse? What does that mean?”

“Standing here feeling sorry for yourself, maybe?”

“I’m not feeling sorry for myself, Deb. I’ve been thinking about that night in Haifa.”

“What night?”

“At the restaurant, with Leonidas.”

“You mean William?”

“Yes, just so.”

“What have you been thinking about?”

“About what happens when a king is deposed.”

“Deposed? What do you mean by that, Dad?”

He took a deep breath and held it in for a moment, then he let the stale air slide out slowly: “I’ve made that mistake too many times already, and I’m not going to let that happen again. Is Lucille around? I’d like some breakfast.”

“It’s on the table, Dad. Why don’t you go sit and I’ll get your coffee. What would you like?”

“An espresso, I think. Make it a double, would you?”

“Okay, Dad.”

“Are you going to see Leonidas today?”

“If you mean William, then yes, I am. Remember? We’re going diving with Henry Taggart, down in Newport Beach.”


“The special effects guy from Seattle? You remember…he was with us in Tahiti last year.”

“Oh, him. I thought he moved north. Good riddance.”

“Oh, he’s harmless enough, Dad,” she said as she started the espresso maker. “We’re going to sail out to Catalina, to the Isthmus, and do some diving for our class.”

“Diving? You mean…with tanks and all that…?”

“Yup, he’s an instructor, but we’re going to meet the guys from our diving class out there; they’re coming over on a charter boat.”

“Is this something I need to be aware of? Is it dangerous?”

“Oh, not at all. We’ll be with dozens of people and a bunch of instructors. It’s no big deal, Dad. Really.”

“These eggs are cold,” Sorensen said, pushing the plate away.

“I’ll make you some fresh…”

“Oh, never mind. I’ll get something at the commissary.”

“Dad? It’s Saturday.”

“Saturday? Already?”

“Dad? Why don’t you call Dina, maybe head down to PV and go for a ride with her.”

“Too many snakes down there, and besides, I don’t trust her anymore.”

“You don’t trust her? Since when?”

“There’s something in her eyes now. Something I don’t trust.”

She brought the coffee to her father and she thought he looked a little like a lost child; not really knowing what else to do she decided to go and call his mother. Maybe this last link to his father – and to that hollow past – could break him out of this latest funk. It was worth a try, anyway. Anything was, at this point – because his life had recently been lurching from one psychic crisis to the next, yet now he seemed to be growing almost paranoid. 

She went to her suite and packed her dive bag then called Tilly. She filled her in and asked her to come by and check up on him this afternoon, then she drove down to campus to pick up William.


Taylor was on a “full ride” scholarship at USC, which meant his tuition, room and board were covered, but it also meant he had to participate in a work-study program in addition to playing football. He was taking two classes over the summer and working five evenings a week in the dining hall, mainly doing dishes but occasionally working the serving line, but at least he had weekends off and he was looking forward to finishing this diving class Deb had signed him up for. He’d never been a particularly good swimmer but like everything else he tried, it hadn’t taken him long to master the basics. He’d always been like that. If something required physical prowess he excelled at it; if overcoming fear was involved he was truly peerless, in a class all his own. Still, the ocean was different, foreign…

He was working out with the coaches and trainers in the mornings when he wasn’t in class, and strengthening his knee day by day, impressing even the head coach with his dedication and stamina, and he’d decided to give it his all in the classroom this year, too, which was why he decided to pack his calculus text with his other gear for this trip to Catalina with Deb. And math might keep his mind off…him…

He still didn’t know how he felt about Henry Taggart, only that there’d been something between him and Deb and he was really glad when Taggart moved north again, back to Seattle. But then Taggart had called and suggested they take a SCUBA class so that maybe they could all go on some dive trips together, and Deb had been kind of excited about doing that so he decided to go along with it and see what developed.

Deb came to the dorm in her new Land Rover, one of those chunky old school models that had been around since the fifties, because she’d thought it might be more practical for diving or skiing or whatever. She’d kept the canary yellow Porsche, of course, which had only humiliated him that much more, but in the end going out with a rich chick sure had its privileges, and he’d never been much for showing jealousy….

He tossed his dive bag in the back and came around to the passenger side and got in, and she slipped a Mini-disc in the Sony player and Boston’s More Than a Feeling came blaring through the new custom stereo he’d insisted she install, and he grinned along to the music as she made her way to the Interstate.

“You taking the Five to the Fifty Five?” he asked, demonstrating his growing command of the city.

“That’s right,” she said, smiling. “Alright! High five!” she said, holding up her hand.

“That’s the way to Disneyland, right?”


“We still haven’t been, ya know?”

“I know. I was thinking maybe we could do your birthday there. Sound good to you?”

He nodded. “You think maybe we could fly Frank down for that?”

“Your brother? Sure. What about your parents?”

“No. Just Frank,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest.

She caught this defensive reflex and wanted to ask about his folks again, but no, not yet. “Do we need to stop for anything before we get to Newport?”

“No, I think I got it all.”

“Weights for your weight belt?”

“Yup, got ‘em.”

“Your dive computer…”

“Charged and ready to go.”

“Dive tables?”

“Left pocket of my BC, just where…”

“…they’re supposed to be,” she smiled. “You hungry?”

“Of course. There’s a Carl’s Jr at the next exit – if you don’t mind.”


She turned into the Balboa Bay Club and stopped at the main gate. She didn’t have a decal on her windshield so the attendant stopped her: “Name, please?” the man asked.

“Deb Sorensen, meeting Henry Taggart?”

“Okay, space T-17 right over there, by the red BMW,” he replied. “Good day.”

“Thanks,” Taylor said before Deb took off, driving right into the assigned space. “Man, this place is like some kind of armed citadel.”

“Welcome to Orange County, William. No blacks – and no poor people allowed.”

“No shit?”

“No shit. And make sure your shirt is tucked in.”

He looked around and sure enough…

“Man, I thought you were kidding.”

“Nope. And no swearing,” she added.

“Man, we sho ain’t in Beverly Hills no moe, is we, Miss Scarlet?”

She burst out laughing at that; in fact she laughed until she cried. Orange County did that to her.

Henry came up to her window and knocked on the glass. “Sorry I missed that joke. Must’ve been a good one.”

“Oh, you have no idea,” Deb sighed, dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

“Nice Defender. Is it new? Your stuff in back?” Taggart asked in a rapid, staccato burst.

“Yeah,” Taylor said, “let me give you a hand.”

“I better go get a couple of carts,” Henry said. “Be right back, but hey, Bill, I could sure use a hand.”

“Right,” Taylor said, his hackles rising at being called Bill, but he took off after Henry.

“Oh, Lord,” Deb sighed inwardly, “what have I gone and done now…?”


“I thought we were taking a sailboat?” Deb asked when she saw Henry loading their gear on a huge blue trawler.

“No wind this weekend, big high pressure system moving in. Besides, this thing has a compressor.”

“Spree III? Is that the name?”

“Yeah, belongs to a friend of my dad. Used to belong to a Cadillac dealer from Dallas, and one of the Boeing brothers before that. They built it, or so I hear.”

“Who? Boeing?”


“It’s huge.”

“Not really. Eighty-something feet on deck, and it’s about as fast as molasses.”

“Do I need to go get some food?” Deb asked.

“Nope. We got a skipper and a cook along for the ride, so this’ll be more like a vacation. Anyway, we should get going now; two other dive boats are coming from San Pedro along with the two from here, so we need to get a move-on to get there in time to make the first dive.”

Taggart helped Deb up the steps to the main deck and then went forward to cast off lines, and with that the huge, navy-hulled yacht backed out of her slip and turned into the main channel, heading for the main jetty in Corona del Mar. Deb went below with one of the mates to find their stateroom, leaving William on the aft deck with Henry.

“Damn,” William said, “I can hardly hear the engine.”

“Engines, Slick,” Henry said.

“Two? Really?”

“Yeah, and each one burns about a hundred gallons an hour, so at four bucks a gallon it adds up pretty quick.”

Taylor’s eyes went wide. “How many hours over and back?”

“Oh, twelve, maybe fifteen. Plus running generators while we’re there. Call it ten large, for fuel, anyway, maybe a little more. These little toys ain’t cheap, Bill.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, but who’s paying the freight for this, Henry? Not Debra?”

“No, no. I am, Bill.”

“You do know, like, that I don’t like being called Bill, right?”

“Oh yeah, I do indeed, Bill. But then again I’m paying for the privilege, okay? Unless you want to split the cost of the fuel?”

“You don’t need to be such an asshole about it, Taggart.”

“Why not, Bill?”

“You really didn’t strike me as the asshole type. Guess I was wrong, huh?”

“No, no you weren’t, but you bring out the worst in me, Bill. I can deal with stupid people all day long, but stupid people with no balls? People like you really bother me.”

“Excuse me?” Taylor said, standing now and bulling out his chest.

“You heard me, Slick.”

“You really looking to get your ass kicked?”

“Me? Hell no, but then again, I’m not your problem.”

“Huh? What?”

Taggart shook his head and chuckled a little. “Man alive, but you really are a stupid son of a bitch.”

“What the fuck are you talking about, Taggart?”

“Ted Sorensen. He’s your fucking problem, Bill, and he will be until you grow stones big enough to stand up to a prick like him.” Now, while Taggart watched, it seemed like someone had come up from behind and popped the air out of a child’s balloon; William Taylor simply deflated, but then he turned away and walked to the stern rail, his massive shoulders now drooping low in complete despair. Henry shook his head and followed, but just then he knew his little weekend project was going to be much more difficult than he’d ever imagined it could possibly be.

He stood beside Taylor looking aft, and he pointed off to their left. “That’s Lido Isle,” he said gently, “where I grew up. Doris Day is our next door neighbor.”

“No shit?” Taylor sighed, but Taggart could tell the Kid was on the verge of tears.

“To the right, yeah, see the big house right there on the end. That’s John Wayne’s place, and across the way, by that steamboat looking thing, that’s Linda Isle. That’s where the big, new money lives, and closer to us, yeah, that one, that’s Harbor Isle, where the old money hangs out.”

“Old money?”

“The really rich people, Slick. And on the left, that’s Bay Island, where the serious sailors and other like minded perverts live.”

“And you left all this behind?”

“Not my thing, Slick. Money never really was all that important to me, I guess.”

“Yeah? Maybe that’s because you’ve never had to worry about it, ya know?”

“Touché, Kid. So what about you? Where’d you grow up? Montana?”

“Yeah, on a ranch north of Billings.”

“What was that like?”

“Cold,” William Taylor said, suddenly inhaling sharply, like ‘cold’ was some sort of admission of guilt, something he could never really shake.

“You said a ranch? What, like cattle?”

“Yeah, but we have a lot of land dedicated to growing wheat, too.”

“Nitrogen cycle, crop rotation, right? Makes sense.”

“You worked a ranch before?” Taylor asked – maybe a little too hopefully.

“No, but I like a good ribeye. Does that count?” Taylor laughed at that – and Henry felt a small wave of relief wash over them, and just as Deb tip-toed out onto the deck. “So, who else lives on the ranch in Montana?”

“Lots of extended family. Aunts and uncles mainly. They each own smaller parcels, but my dad owns the biggest.”

“Oh? How big is big?”

Taylor looked aft and coughed. “Asking a rancher about the size of his spread is a little like asking him how big his pecker is, Hank.”

“Gotcha. So, your dad lives there. Who else?”

“My mom and my brother, Frank.”

“He play ball, too?”

“Yeah, but he’s not strong enough. I assume he’ll take over the ranch after my parents are gone.”

“You don’t want to?”

“Me? No, never.”

“What about your old man. What’s he like?”

Deb’s ears perked up now, and she paid close attention to William’s body language…

“He’s mean, Henry. I mean like deep down mean. Full of hate. Always has been.”

She watched William closely but he was wide open now, all his defenses down, and she wondered why, and how Henry had done it…

“What do you mean? Mean…how?”

“He talks down to everyone, and I can’t stand to be in the room when the news is on TV. It’s all ‘Niggers this, Spics that,’ and the world is being run by Kikes and liberals out to set up rule by One World Government and the UN is going to take all our rights away…”

“Kikes and liberals, huh? Well, he’s not the only that thinks that way, William. Is that why you want to get away from there?”

“There, and all the people there just like him…”

Henry shook his head and sighed. “Man, I hate to break it to you, but there are people just like your father every where you go. Even in those big, fancy houses over there,” he added, pointing at Balboa Island just then. “And you’ll even find ‘em in Beverly Hills, too, and even a few at ‘SC.”

“I know. I’m kinda figuring that out on my own these days.”

“Yeah? Well, all you can do is live your life on your own terms, and fuck all the rest of ‘em.”

Taylor nodded. “I’m ashamed of them, Hank,” Taylor mumbled, starting to cry now.

“Who? Your parents?”

“Yeah. I love my little brother, you know? But I’d be happy if I never saw the rest of them again.”

“So? Don’t go back.”

“I’d like to get Frank out of there, ya know?”

“Okay, so do it.”

“It’s not that easy, Hank…”

“Sure it is, Bill.”

Deb bristled when she heard Henry call him Bill, but she relaxed when William didn’t even flinch. ‘Now what the devil is going on here?’ she wondered.

“Right. Like all I’ve got to do is grow a pair, right?”

“Big brass ones, Bill.”

The boat made a hard right turn and accelerated a bit, and Taylor looked up at Taggart.

“We’re headed for the jetty now, then out to sea,” Henry said, perking up a bit. “Let’s go up front…better view up there now.”

And when they turned to head forward Deb was already back inside, in the galley with the ship’s cook, and Henry was glad she’d interpreted his hand signals correctly…


They had lunch up on the flying bridge, huge one pound burgers with bacon and guacamole and thick slices of beefy red tomato and thin slices of purple onion, and Henry even saw to it that the kid stayed away from the beer in the ‘fridge – because they’d be diving in just a few hours. And because the weather was so calm the surface of the sea was a bright, shiny mirror that the fierce sunlight reflected off, burning the undersides of unprotected noses and ears. But Henry saw to it that everyone had on plenty of sunscreen…

“See that fin over there?” Taggart said, pointing off to the right. “Blue shark, probably a twelve footer.”

“Man-eater?” Taylor asked, more scared than curious.

“Probably. Wanna go ask him and see?”

“No thanks. Are there Great Whites out here?”

“Whites? Oh yeah, lots, but usually immature males this time of year. Six footers, usually just curious, but always looking for rays and small seal pups – and linebackers from SC.”

“Thanks. But six footers could still hurt you, right?” Deb asked.

“Oh, sure. But again, they’re usually just curious about us. Don’t panic if you see one, but don’t try to run from one. They really love that.”

“Are there Whites around Catalina?” Taylor asked.

“Ain’t no fences out here, Bill. This is their ocean, not ours, and they pretty much go where they want, when they want – if you know what I mean, Jelly-bean.”

Debra looked at the lazily circling fin and shivered a little. “I read they hunt around dawn and dusk. Is that true?”

“Pretty much, but there are so many boats hanging around Catalina that most of the sharks keep away. Lots of divers with Shark-Darts out here…”

“Shark-Darts? What’s that?”

“Oh, think of it as a long pole with a really big, really strong hypodermic needle on the end, and the needle is hooked up to a fifteen pound air cylinder. Shark gets too close and you jab the Dart into its belly, and that causes the air cylinder to shoot a massive burst of air pressure into the body cavity, which causes all the shark’s internal organs to come spewing out its mouth. It ain’t pretty, but it works.”

“And that’s legal?” Deb asked, sounding a little shocked.

“Legal? Hell no they’re not legal. They used to make them up here, but once they were declared illegal production was moved down to Mexico, mainly because lots of fishermen keep them on their boats in case they need to go down and retrieve an anchor, stuff like that. Other people, well, they just like to kill sharks.”

“That’s sick,” Deb sighed.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Taggart replied with an offhand flip of the hand. “Unless you happen to run into a pissed off White while you’re down there. Then, who knows…maybe it won’t sound all that sick to you right about then. Well, that’s the isthmus,” he added, pointing out a notch in the island now dead ahead. We should be there in an hour or so, so we’d better get our gear ready to go…”


There were four chartered dive boats rafted together just outside of Isthmus Cove, and eighty divers were now bobbing on the surface listening to the Divemaster on deck calling out names and assigning each diver to a small group. Henry, Deb and William, as well as five other student divers and a Divemaster-trainee, were just one of the groups floating out there, and once groups were assigned Henry got his students together and wrote their names down on his dive-slate.

“Okay,” he began, “this is Dive 1, your first official open water dive, and don’t forget to get your log books to me after we finish up this evening. Remember, if I don’t sign it, it didn’t happen. Got it?”

Lots of serious looking nods and a few ‘Yessirs’ followed.

“The bottom is sixty to eighty feet here, and you’ll find a sandy surface with large scattered rock formations. Do not touch down on the sand or you’ll kick up a cloud and ruin the dive for everyone, so stay at least ten feet above the deck, okay? And stay with your buddy at all times.”

More nods. More ‘Yessirs’ again.

“Everyone zero out your dive computer now, and everyone make sure you have your interval slates and your pencils ready to go. We are going to snorkel over to the anchor line on that big blue yacht over there and follow the chain down to fifty feet. Once were down there gather on me, then we’ll go and see if we can find Waldo.”

William Taylor put his snorkel in his mouth and dipped his face into the water; he looked around nervously – expecting to see a dozen Great Whites circling just a few yards away – but he saw exactly – nothing. He could hear his breathing through the tube-like snorkel clearly, and lots of clicking sounds, and he could see Taggart’s fins dead ahead so he just followed along behind him until they got to the chain anchor rode.

Once everyone was gathered ‘round the chain, Taggart addressed them again.

“Okay, note the time on your slate now and start Dive 1 on your computer. When you finish entering that data, you’ll follow our Divemaster down the chain, and I’ll bring up the rear. William, you buddy-up with the Divemaster, and Deb…you stay with me.”

“What about me?” a teenaged girl said. “I don’t have a buddy?”

“Okay. You buddy-up with Deb here, and I’ll be right above you.”

Deb turned and looked at Henry, and he saw the edges of panic in her eyes so he swam to her. “Just grab hold of the chain and remember, let the air out of your vest slowly, control your rate of descent with air pressure. I’m only going to be a few feet away, so just keep your eyes on your buddy and it’ll be okay.”

She nodded understanding but she was wide-eyed and wide-awake now, and he wondered why she’d asked him about taking this class in the first place. Then it hit him…

That clinging hug in Bora-Bora, that infinite attraction he’d felt, and that she’d said she felt too.

‘How could I be so fucking stupid…’ he thought. ‘Oh well, that’s just one more layer of this puzzle. One at a time…one at a time…’

He ducked his head below the surface and counted heads, then he purged air from his vest and began his descent, checking his depth all the way down to the rally point. Once there he re-confirmed his count then pulled a can of cheese-whiz from his vest pocket and dropped down to the nearest large rocky outcropping. He tapped the can on the rock a few times and waved at the student divers to come in a little closer…

Moray eels are shy, and they aren’t half as mean as they look, either. They live in rocks and retreat from the world when anything even remotely threatening appears, but at Isthmus Cove if you really want to see a Moray you just need a little patience…and a lot of cheese whiz.

Who knows where the name Waldo came from, but for years all the eels at the Isthmus have come to be called Waldo, and because of the nature of the bottom more than a few Moray eels can easily to be found hiding within the rocky warrens there. And after the first few taps on the rock one appeared, then another.

Taggart took the pressurized can of cheese whiz and squirted an inch long dab of the goo onto the tip of his index finger and held it out; the closest eel slid out of his hiding place and gently took the offered cheese. He squeezed another dab out and offered it to the second eel, and this smaller, more shy one came out even more slowly but even more gently took the cheese. The Divemaster joined him and soon there were at least a half dozen eels feeding on Kraft’s finest, and then it was time to let the students who wanted to give it a try have a go at feeding one of them…

And Taggart watched as Debra took the can and fed three different eels…

But then he felt something was off…more than off, really. Something bad was about to happen – and he turned around in time to see two divers swim by about twenty feet overhead, and one of them had a speargun in hand. And he saw a Sheepshead on the end of the spear, a fairly large black and white and pinkish red fish, and a steady stream of blood from the speared fish was trailing in their wake.

“Goddamnit to fucking hell,” he screamed into his mouthpiece, and the sound was enough to attract his Divemaster-trainee who immediately came up to see what was wrong.

He pointed at the divers, and at the streaming blood as he pulled up his slate. “Get everyone circled around the anchor line, facing out for now…” he wrote, so she went down and gathered everyone into one group then pointed at the chain.

Debra turned and looked at Taggart, and when she saw the anguish in his eyes she began to panic.

He looked at William and jabbed his finger at him emphatically, then pointed at Debra.

And that was all it took. The boy became a man. He swam to her and took up a protective stance by her side, and Taggart shot him a ‘thumb’s up’ before he herded the group to the chain. The Divemaster had just placed everyone around the chain when the first Great White appeared, and it was right about then that Henry Taggart wished he’d brought along his Shark Dart…

Copenhagen, Denmark                                                    11 September 1943

Aaron Schwarzwald rubbed his eyes, with a billowing cloud of smoke from the wood stove having caused them to water, and he steadied himself on the kitchen table, waiting for the stinging pain to ease. He felt older today than he had in months, the events of the past two weeks weighing heavily on his mind.

Ever since the German occupation of Denmark – in early April, 1940 – the official government policy had been one of non-resistance, a step just short of the total cooperation the Germans sought, but a step the crown and the government deemed necessary to avoid the unnecessary loss of life that full-on resistance would have provoked. And to Aaron Schwarzwald, as it was with the majority of the Danish people, the Ninth of April and this almost bloodless capitulation represented a low point in Danish history – yet the fiction of non-resistance, if not a modicum of cooperation to the occupying forces, had defined the next two years of the war in Denmark.

But by the autumn of 1942 things had started to change. The Danish resistance group Holger Danske began their insurgency in and around Copenhagen in earnest, killing collaborators and German soldiers alike, while committing acts of sabotage when opportunities presented, and while also helping to shepherd the few remaining Jews in Denmark to safety in neutral Sweden. Saul Rosenthal was a member of this group, and through his persuading he and Aaron Schwarzwald moved prominent faculty at the University to the basement of the Schwarzwald house on their first leg of the journey to Sweden.

Yet, and some would say predictably, by August 1943 the German occupying force in Denmark had had enough; the civilian government was dissolved and the country placed under martial law. Members of the German Gestapo moved into Copenhagen in force, and these high ranking members of the party, of course, needed places to live – homes to call their own, you might say.


So Aaron rubbed his eyes, tried to see a little more clearly, but this was getting and more more difficult to do these days. It wasn’t simply the cloudy cataracts that obscured his vision, nor even the hostilities of the recent German intervention. No, now the way ahead was obscured by heartbreak.

He and Saul had finally convinced Imogen to flee to Gothenburg, and the final arrangements of her escape were in the works when Avi Rosenthal, in effect, gave away these plans to collaborators. People he knew would get word to the Gestapo, and Avi had done so because he had finally figured out that once Imogen was in Sweden she would be forever beyond his grasp, and that his brother Saul would finally be in a position to claim her heart. And this he could not do. Avi was convinced by these same collaborators that they would be able to secure her release and from there Avi would secret her to Palestine. She was, after all was said and done, nominally his wife – even if she had never loved him. Once he had her in Palestine he would change that…because time was on his side.

And now Aaron sat in his kitchen, coming to term with the news Saul had carried to him only the night before. Imogen had in fact been released, but to Werner Heisenberg, and even now she was en route to an undisclosed location near Berlin…

…and that was that.

The one thing he’d hoped to accomplish through all this – to insure the safety of his daughter by keeping her out of German hands – was now just one more link in a chain of broken dreams, a shattered epilogue to the life that had come undone in 1940. The last person on earth he would ever love was now on her way into the whitest underbelly of the beast – so she was lost to him now, and one of the men he had most trusted to see to it this never happened was to blame.

“But only the impotent lay blame on others,” he said to the empty kitchen table. “A man never blames. Isn’t that what my father always told us. A man takes responsibility for his failures. If possible he tries to right his wrongs, but he never blames.”

And then, a knock on the door. A gentle tapping on the inset glass, and so he sighed, picked up his cane and made his way to the front door – an old oaken door that had guarded his family for more than two hundred years. He opened the door and looked down on a ferret-faced man in a black leather trench coat. A Nazi, perhaps, or one of their collaborators. Did it really matter what form Death might take?

Aaron Schwarzwald had never been a small man, but these days his appearance was like something out of the Old Testament. Clear blue eyes, a flowing white beard that would have put any Abrahamic vision of God to shame, and deep-set, nordic eyes under a heavily furrowed brow – so when the ferret addressed Aaron he did so now from a decidedly inferior position.

“Herr Doktor Schwarzwald?” the ferret said.

“That would be me.”

“I am August von Schellenberg, of the Reich’s Ministry of Civil Appropriations.”

“Is that so.”

“Yes, that is correct,” the ferret said, producing a bundle of papers out of his briefcase then attempting to hand them over to Aaron, who of course let them drop to the floor. “I am here to inform you that the Reich has been authorized to pay you five hundred kroner for your house and all the contents listed herein. You have twenty four hours to vacate this residence.”


“Should you not relinquish the residence by 0900 tomorrow morning you and any other residents will be forcibly removed.”

“How nice.”

“Excuse me? Do you not understand what I have told you?”

“Of course I understand you, you stupid pig,” Aaron said, taking the tip of his cane and driving it with all his considerable might into the ferret’s larynx, crushing his windpipe and causing the human being within to slowly suffocate as he fell to the cobbled walk.

Automobile doors opened and closed, troops came rushing to von Schellenberg’s assistance – but too late, for the ferret-faced man died there right in front of his murderer.  Then the troops on the walkway parted, making way for a full colonel in the SS – who now walked up to Aaron Schwarzwald.

“And who are you, little man?” Aaron said to the colonel, looking into the man’s coal-black eyes, studying the contours of the Hate he had been waiting to come for so many years.

“I am the man who will end your waste of a life, little Jew,” the colonel said as pulled a holstered pistol from his black leather belt and brought it up the Schwarzwald’s face.

“Curious. I thought you would be…taller.”

The colonel’s Luger barked once and Aaron fell to the cobbled walk, and he died beside the man he had just murdered.

“Clean up this shit,” the colonel said before he turned and walked back to his Mercedes…

…but he saw a beggar sitting on the sidewalk across the street, so – with his pistol still drawn – he walked to where the beggar was sitting. The colonel saw that the beggar was a blind man, and that he had an old tin cup extended, and there were even a few coins inside the rusted little cup.

“So, old man, tell me. Are you blind?”

“Excuse me, but yes – and who am I addressing?”

“Just a passerby. Did you hear something just now?”

“I thought I heard a motor backfiring. Did you hear it, as well?”

“Yes, but it was nothing,” the colonel said, holstering his Luger and tossing a coin into the beggars cup. “You be careful, old man.”

“Thank you, kind sir. Be well.”

The colonel watched the beggar for a moment, then turned and walked to his Mercedes and the driver closed the door behind him. A moment later his Mercedes drove off, and a few minutes after that an ambulance appeared and medics loaded von Schellenberg’s body inside and drove away, and a half hour after that, after the remaining troops had looted the inside of the Schwarzwald residence, they tossed Aaron’s body in the back of their lorry and headed to a barren field outside of the city, and they joked about crows having a nice meal that afternoon…

The blind beggar slipped into the shadows and took off his dark glasses, then he put his cup and the glasses in an old cigar box and put them back it their hiding place under a hedgerow, because, who knew? – maybe he would have to use them again. Then Saul Rosenthal wiped away a tear or two, but he really didn’t have the time to spare for such brief sorrows now. He needed to go to his safe house now and change, get his papers in order and begin the next part of his journey…to Berlin.

He turned once and looked at the old house, the house where he had spent so many joyous evenings with Imogen, and too many heated discussions with Aaron over the many years of his brief existence, yet he knew deep down inside all that was at an end now. He turned away and began making his way towards the docks, whistling a happy tune as he walked through the crowded streets of bustling Copenhagen.

The Isthmus, Santa Catalina Island, California                                 June 1997

They were immature males, but there was a lot of blood in the water and Taggart simply wasn’t going to take any chances. Even an eight-footer could do a lot of damage, and two of them could seriously fuck-up someone’s weekend…

He looked at his air gauge then kicked over and looked at each student divers’ gauge, one by one. 

“Breathe easy, slow down,” he wrote on his slate, then he went by each one again, shooting them the okay sign, trying to reassure them. He scanned the area where the two male Whites had disappeared and saw not a thing, so he popped some air into his vest and rose about fifteen feet and then did a slow 360 degree sweep. The sun was still up, though just barely, and he needed to get to the surface and see what was going on. He knew that he could get everyone up and onto Spree III if needs be, but that could prove problematic as the night wore on and it wasn’t the best option – yet it might prove the only option, so he wanted to get topside and get the skipper prepared in case it came down to that.

Taggart popped another short burst of compressed air into his BC and began to slowly rise, and he surfaced next to the aft swim ladder and called up to the skipper.

“Hey, it looks like there are a couple of Whites over there by that runabout!” the skipper said, pointing to the spearfishing idiots trying to get out of the water a hundred yards away.

“No shit, Sherlock,” Henry snarled. “Look, I got eight people on our anchor rode and I think there are two too many Whites between us and the dive boat…”

“Right. I’ll get the ladder ready.”

“Throw out about ten lines, okay? I want to at least tie-off BCs and weight belts. These kids will never make it up that ladder with all that fucking gear on.”

“Right! How about carabiners? Would those work?”

“Hell yes! The more the merrier!”

“On it!”

Taggart held his purge valve overhead and deflated his vest, sinking rapidly to the bottom, and he wrote out his plan to the Divemaster-trainee and then swam over to William and began writing on his slate again. “Come with me now. I want you up on deck to pull people up the ladder. Remember to breathe on the way up…ascend no faster than your bubbles…remember?”

The Kid shot him the okay sign and Taggart led him to the surface and showed him how to get his vest tied off and then got him up the ladder before he dove again. He passed the Divemaster on her way up with one of the students, and one by one he sent them up – until there was only one left down there with him.

Debra Sorensen looked at him, still wide-eyed but not breathing too hard now, but then he looked at her pressure gauge and that was all he really needed to know. She’d sucked down almost all her tank so he handed her his octopus and took her hand, then turned to check their surroundings before starting up one more time.

It way up looked clear enough but the sun’s light was now almost completely gone, but he could still see Spree’s stern in the last of the light as he started up.

And he saw her then.

A big female, a Great White – maybe an eighteen footer, and she was coming back from where those two spearfishing idiots were – and this one looked hungry.

And no Shark Dark. 

He reached down to his ankle and freed the almost useless little dive knife there and held it out at the ready, but the White saw the motion and turned his way. Her mouth appeared to be almost a meter wide and all he could see was row upon row of jagged triangular teeth – and then he was looking into that singularly black eye as she swam past…now only about five feet away. She swam on lazily by, out to maybe fifty feet, then she turned again and started back their way, taking her time, judging the danger.

Taggart popped some air into his BC and continued their ascent, but he kept his eyes on the White, and on that all-seeing black eye, as she closed on them once again – only this time she came in close and roughly nudged Taggart with her snout, trying to see how he’d react – then she swam off again and he looked up, guessed they were still only about halfway to the surface…

The White’s bark arched a little, a sure sign she was getting ready to attack, then she turned to make her run, and Taggart pushed Debra towards the Divemaster waiting by the ladder then swam away from the boat, heading deeper as he sped away…

‘I can lose her if I make the rocks,’ he thought, pushing his fins through the water with everything he had…but no…they were too far away…so he turned to face her head on…

He saw the streaking black and white shadow of the orca just then, and he watched as the big male slammed into the White, right into her gills, and the shark wheeled and lashed out at…emptiness…yet seconds later the orca hit the White from underneath, ripping her belly open in the process and sending billowing clouds of blood and guts into the current…and then her body slowly slipped down to the seafloor.

The orca came up alongside and offered his pectoral, and Taggart knew, really knew this was the same one he’d met in the lagoon over Christmas, at Bora-Bora. The markings, the eyes, all the same…but how could that be…

He carried Taggart back to the ladder and left him there, but he circled around once and came back to Henry and they stared at one another for the longest time, each not wanting the moment to end, yet each now knowing that it never really could. Henry felt Debra by his side again, and she reached out and rubbed the orca’s warm skin under the eye – then the orca surfaced for air and disappeared into the night, smiling at a pulsing star overhead before he turned once again and continued his journey north.

© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkü all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.

(Oliver, Good Morning Starshine)

(The Pat Metheny Group//To The End Of The World)

Forgotten Songs From An Imaginary Life, Chapter 13.4

A Housee no windows

Another quick trip down the rabbit hole, perhaps a good time for some cardamom tea?

Part III: The House With No Windows

Chapter 13.4

Beverly Hills, California                                May 1997

Debra Sorensen’s baby never materialized, except, perhaps, in the unsettled dreams that followed long after her return from the sea. She remembered giving birth – on some kind of ship – yet she never saw the baby. She’d been surrounded by feathered creatures who all seemed most excited about…something…yet she considered all these memories suspect. There had never been a time since Henry Taggart brought her up from the sea that any of those experiences had felt real, and how could they have? She’d been gone for – what? A half hour? Not even that long? And yet she’d felt as if she’d been on some sort of space ship, for months? How was any of that even possible – except, perhaps, within the soft, womblike confines of her dreams…?

Or – worse. For she soon wondered if these were the opening delusions of an onrushing madness?

Because even William seemed different after that trip. Fully caught up in all the trappings of wealth now, he absolutely loved driving around West LA in her Porsche, the bright yellow Cabriolet as flashy as a peacock, and that seemed to suit his needs completely. He loved showing up at Spring Training in her car, his teammates drooling in jealous envy as he got out from behind the wheel and jogged into the clubhouse before practice. There were times now when Debra felt like the real patsy, like she was being used – yet hadn’t she once used William for something quite similar? Hadn’t he become her very own declaration of independence, from her father? Wasn’t she just getting her comeuppance now? 

One thing was becoming clear, however. William was getting more and more interested in making movies, of getting into the film school at USC, and her father had proven more than willing to help make that happen. Her father had actually encouraged this interest, but Debra could see this development for what it really was: a means to an end, a way to control William…and so, in effect, yet another way to control her.

Yet there were two other sides to William, two facets of the same obdurate stone. He loved playing football more than anything else in the world, and she knew that included her, too. And the other part of the stone wall standing between them? It was that one part of his life he seemed most willing to obscure – his other, earlier life in Montana. He could talk about his kid brother, Frank – and when he did it was always in glowing terms – yet he only rarely talked about his parents. Not even to her father. Especially not to her father.

So of course Ted had sent private investigators to Montana to find out what he could.

The reports had been disquieting. William’s father belonged to several questionable groups that maintained ties to national white supremacist organizations, including one neo-Nazi organization, and once that discovery was digested and under wraps Sorensen decided that William Taylor would never marry his daughter. He might help the boy with his career because, hey, you never knew, right? If the Kid did in fact make it into the Pros he might become useful, very useful indeed, so why not keep it simple for now, let Debra have her college fling and get all that out of her system, because right now Ted had other worries.

Ever since his father’s marriage to Deborah Eisenstadt, Ted Sorensen had made the trip to Israel at least a couple of times a year, and to simply visit with them both. She’d settled into teaching physics in Haifa, at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, so with his son’s help Anders Sorensen had purchased a house overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in the Shambur Hills, not far from campus, and the elder Sorensen had aged gracefully for a time, until Alzheimer’s came calling, anyway.

His father’s decline had been merciless and swift, and just months after Ted’s return from French Polynesia it was becoming clear that the end was near.


William sat across from Debra, in the middle row of the limo facing aft, and he watched her as she looked out the window. She’d insisted William come with them and Ted had reluctantly agreed; classes were out for the year now and she wanted William to know more about her family, to at least meet her grandfather and perhaps develop an understanding of that part of her life. She waxed and waned these days, vacillated between knowing that William was her ‘One and Only’ one day and not really knowing where they stood the next, but in the end she couldn’t see a life for herself that didn’t include him – so here he was. Ted was not happy about it, but…

William looked at Ted, now talking on some kind of telephone to the studio, then talking to the pilot of his new business jet about customs and immigration problems, then to one of his secretaries back at the studio, and to William it seemed like the man was simply little more than a juggler. Ted seemed to accumulate problems the way a steer attracts hordes of flying insects, naturally and inevitably, and yet Ted never, ever seemed to be even remotely happy, just like a steer. And for some reason William found that odd, yet comforting – like a familiar echo…

But comforting because all his work resulted in so much obvious wealth, and that wealth was an intoxicating attractant. ‘I could live like this,’ he told himself as they drove out Sepulveda to Imperial, and as men came out to meet their limo and carry their bags out to Teds new Gulfstream IV. Everyone was deferential, everyone’s eyes were full of respect. And why? Because Ted Sorensen had accumulated so much wealth, and so quickly, he had come to be considered something like a force of nature. Almost like a hurricane, he was considered something fierce and deadly. And in Los Angeles, as it was in much of the world at that time, such men were revered. Such men were envied, and perhaps they always have been – because wealth is power. Wealth is the ability to bend people to your Will, to twist truth and reason to a purpose, and William Taylor could literally feel all these things as he watched Ted Sorensen.

And he wanted to be just like him.

Yet a most curious thing was going on. William Taylor was beginning to think more and more of becoming someone just like Ted Sorensen, just as he was beginning to think less and less about Debra, and everything felt like an echo. Like it had all happened before.

But not Debra, who hadn’t seen that coming. No, not in the least.


After refueling in Geneva, Sorensen’s Gulfstream flew directly to Haifa and made a straight-in approach to runway 16, the pilot struggling to set the jet down on the numbers and quickly into full reverse thrust, as the runway was just long enough to accommodate the G-IV and not one inch more. A limo was waiting for them on the ramp and took them directly to the elder Sorensen’s residence on Margalit Street – just as the sun seemed to settle into the sea.

Deborah Eisenstadt-Sorensen took them to the patio, to where Anders sat in pooling confusion, and the old man was wrapped in blankets to ward off the looming chill coming in with the evening’s breezes. He did not recognize his son, yet for some reason he did see Debra for who she really was, and he patted the seat next to his own and bade her to sit and talk with him…

“Hello, Pa-pa,” she said, as she always did around him speaking in babyish coos, because he had always been her favorite person in the world. “How are you feeling today?”

“Better, now that you are here. Tell me, how is that school? Are you learning anything useful?”

“No, Pa-pa, nothing in the least useful.”

And he beamed at that. “Ah, that is good, because that is as it should be. You look happy, too.”

“Oh, I am, Pa-pa. I have brought me boyfriend, William. I wanted you to meet him.”

“The football player?” Anders said, turning to look at Taylor. “My God, but you are as big as a mountain!”

Ted watched all this quietly amazed. The last two times he’d visited Anders, he had barely been lucid, yet now, here he was as bright and open as he’d ever been. Yet his mother had cautioned him there would be days like this, only to be followed by days of foggy recollections – and an inevitable failing of physical functioning. But now, watching Debra, he realized he was witnessing something of a minor miracle…

“It’s nice to meet you, sir,” Taylor said, taking the old man’s frail hand in his own. “Debra has told me so much about you…”

“So much, indeed. There isn’t so much to tell, now is there, Debra?”

“Oh, Pa-pa, you know that’s not true.”

Anders inhaled deeply and turned to look at the last rays of the sun reaching for the stars. “Can you smell the cedars? And the lavender? Deborah planted lavender on the hillside last autumn. Is that not better than heaven?”

Debra leaned on her grandfather and hugged him. “It certainly is, Pa-pa. Better than heaven!”

“So, tell me about football, young Leonidas. What position do you play? Linebacker?”

“Excuse me?” William said, astonished. “Did you call me Leonidas?”

“But of course I did! And why wouldn’t I? That’s always been your name, has it not?”

Debra gave William a cautious nod, warning him to play along, to not rock the boat…

“Oh, it’s just that not many people call me that these days.”

“Ah, I understand. It wouldn’t do for everyone to understand, not yet, anyway.”


“So, you play linebacker, is that correct?”


“Middle, or outside?”

“Middle, sir.”

“Indeed. I am most unsure of this thing called a ‘Flex defense’…do you think you could explain it to me?”

“I’ll try, sir.”

“Thank you, my Leonidas. It was so good to see you once again, even after so much time has come between us…”


“What the hell was that Leonidas shit all about?” Ted Sorensen snarled once they were in the limo headed to their hotel.

“Yeah, that was weird,” Debra said, leaning into William as the Mercedes rounded a sharp curve.

Yet Taylor simply looked out the window and shrugged.

“Anyone ever call you that before?” Sorensen asked, only now a little less passive-aggressively.

But once again Taylor shrugged, adding: “Who’s Leonidas, anyway?”

It was a nice deflection and it might have worked, too, but Sorensen was good at reading people, especially when they were lying or even simply evading a question, and he saw all the telltale body language on the Kid just then – yet he decided to drop the matter…for the time being, anyway.

“Where are we staying, Dad?” asked Debra.

“Shit, I don’t know. Someplace downtown. Schumacher, I think is the name. We’ve stayed there before, I think.”

“Why didn’t we stay at the house?” she added.

Now it was Sorensen’s turn to evade the question, and though he simply shrugged if he’d wanted to tell his daughter the real reason she might not have understood. The real reason, he knew, was that the house smelled of Death now, his father’s death, and even though he’d first tried to confront his fear about losing his Old Man a few years ago he’d never really succeeded. When he’d last visited his father, and that had been about six months ago, he’d noticed the smell and it had unnerved him horribly. It wasn’t just the smell of urine, or even the ferocious halitosis, it was something more wicked than that, like something lurking in a dark forest, something just out of sight. Death had always been something easily rationalized away, something he knew happened to everyone sooner or later, yet he was the first to admit that the death of someone truly close to him had not happened to him…not yet.

And he had a hard time thinking of his father not being around. Of not being able to pick up the ‘phone and talk to his Old Man, even if only to talk about the weather or, yes, even about football – which for some reason Anders now watched all the time. What would he do, how would he feel when that voice grew still and unreachable?

“Anyone hungry?” Sorensen deflected, knowing full well the Kid was Always Hungry, and that Taylor could seemingly never eat enough.

“I could eat,” Taylor said, looking hopeful that an all-you-can-eat buffet might spring up around the next bend in the road.

“I remember a good place down by the water, Lebanese, I think,” Debra said, recalling her last trip here a year ago.

“Oh, right, the Ein ElWadi. It’s one of Dad’s favorite spots, too. Let’s go now before it gets too late,” he said to the driver, who made a couple of turns and headed for the old quarter along the north beach.

The neighborhood felt almost ancient – yet curiously rundown, too, and even the tiny restaurant seemed like a place lost in time, like the echo of an afterthought. The main room was little more than a vast stone vault, and several tables sat under flickering torchlight, yet Debra beamed as they walked inside and she quickly found an open table. The proprietor came over and dropped off menus – and for some reason he seemed to remember Debra from her last visit…

“Meez Debra?” he asked, smiling when he was sure it was her.

And when Deb turned to the old man she smiled again and then jumped up and gave him a huge, heartfelt hug. “Kali?” she cried. “Oh, I am so happy to see you!”

And while Taylor was of course clueless, Ted remembered that night, and he was only too happy to have the day’s somber mood washed away by such a trifling memory, so he too stood and shook the old man’s hand. A carafe of wine appeared, then plates and bowls of hummus and tabouli and lamb and then even Taylor seemed to get into the swing of things – after a few glasses of wine, anyway – and before too long the old man pulled out something that looked and sounded something like a mandolin and he started playing simple, soulful music that did indeed seem to make time stand still.

When the kid began to look well and truly snockered, Ted turned and looked William Taylor in the eye: “So tell me, Leonidas, in this other world of yours, just who is my father to you?”

“Your father?” Leonidas said bitterly. “He is our father, as if you did not know that!”

“And what is his name?”

“Drink your wine, Brother. This game ill suits you!”

“Leonidas, perhaps it is the wine, but please, tell me our father’s name…”

“Anaxandridas, Brother, as if you could forget the man, or even his name…”

And when he heard the name of Anaxandridas Ted Sorensen felt caught inside a vortex, everything in sight disappearing under a cloak of piercing starlight, so he closed his eyes – hoping the spinning would stop…

“Dad? Are you okay?”

He looked up, saw Debra in the torchlight and he felt the unashamed look of concern in her eyes, so he took a deep breath and nodded. “This is indeed potent wine. I haven’t felt like this since…”

And the flickering torchlight flared and once again he was trapped in the spinning vortex, once again he felt his understanding of the world slip into something like molten quicksand, and overhead fields of stars streaked by as he realized he was sinking deeper and deeper into the porous sands of an hourglass…

“There, there, brother!” he heard the Kid say from someplace far away. “Come, come, Cleomenes, surely you do not expect me to carry you all the way to your quarters?”

Sorensen opened an eye and the spinning vertigo eased a bit…

“Leonidas? Is it you? Truly?” Sorensen asked when he eyed the Kid.

“Yes, Brother, and you are indeed very, very drunk once again, so let us get you to bed before you make an even bigger ass of yourself!”

He felt himself falling after that, falling through a series of endlessly impossible dreams. For he realized he was indeed a king again, and he was in fact a Spartan king, and yet through the tattered remnants of his night he came to realize that he was, like another father, oh-so-slowly losing his mind…if not going insane…



When he crawled out of bed the next morning he realized he was in a hotel room. The Schumacher Hotel, he remembered, and he was, therefore, in Haifa, and then, suddenly, he heard an incessant knocking on the door.

“Mr. Sorensen! Mr. Sorensen!” came a steely yet almost hysterical voice. “Are you awake?!”

“Coming,” he growled – as he found a bathrobe hanging in the closet and slipped it on, almost forgetting to tie it closed as he stumbled to the door. “What is it?” he said as he unlatched the door and opened it…

He thought he saw echoes of a Spartan hoplite standing there, but then he recognized the hotel manager. “Yes? What is it?” he asked.

“It is your father. They are taking him to the hospital.”

Suddenly wide awake, he nodded and looked around, still not sure of his surroundings.

“Can you get my driver, have him pick us up…?”

“It is already arranged, Mr. Sorensen, and my brother is getting your daughter as we speak.”

“Thank you, Nabil. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

The hospital was nearby and the mid-morning traffic was light’ – and they were at the emergency room entrance within minutes. Deborah met them just as they walked in.

“What’s happened?” Ted asked.

“He just stopped breathing, Ted. I’m so sorry. I tried CPR until the medics arrived, but I think he’s gone…”

He felt light-headed, preternaturally weak as his tears came, and William Taylor came and put an arm protectively around him.

Ted looked up at the Kid and he was surprised to see that his eyes, too, were full of tears. “Thank you, brother,” he said to Taylor.

And still Debra had no idea what was going on between her father and her boyfriend, but they were still both acting a little weird. Last night at the restaurant had quickly turned surreal, especially after the music began, and she had herself felt a little out of sorts for a while. Now, looking at William and her father, she wondered why…

© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkü all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.

Forgotten Songs From An Imaginary Life, Chapter 13.3

A Housee no windows

Sorry for the delay. Been a rocky week.

A few Music Matters to get us started here, so grab a cup of tea and settle in. Lots to think about here, so go slow and enjoy the ride.

(Delius, Upon Hearing the First Cuckoo of Spring)

(Pat Metheny Group, Above The Treetops)

Part III: The House With No Windows

Chapter 13.3

Povai Bay, Bora Bora, French Polynesia 24 December 1996

Taggart didn’t know what to think. He’d never run into an orca before, let alone one that seemed so consciously intent on controlling an otherworldly event like what was taking place off the yacht’s stern. The Kid, as everyone had taken to calling William Taylor these days, was standing on the swim platform in open-mouthed wonder, thunderstruck by the sight of Debra surrounded by a pod of swirling orcas.

“What the hell is going on, Hank?” Taylor whispered, his muted words almost unheard over the sound of the thrashing going on down there in the water.

Taggart stood beside the kid and shook his head. “I wish I knew. It doesn’t make sense to me, either.”

“So you’ve never seen anything like this before?”

“Shit, Slick, I ain’t even heard of anything like this before…”

Then almost as quickly as the orcas came, the clustered females simply slipped under the water’s surface and disappeared – and the big male swam to her side and cupped her next to his body and carried her to the swim platform. Taggart jumped into the water and took her from the male yet he could tell she was unconscious simply by the way her head seemed to bob along on the surface of the water. 

“Give me a hand, Kid.”

Taylor grabbed Debra’s hands and effortlessly lifted her up onto the platform, then he laid her out and cradled her head on his lap as Taggart came up the shaky little ladder.

“I’ll go get some towels,” Taggart said, darting below and flipping the breaker for the shower on the platform as he passed the chart table. When he got back aft again she was shivering and just coming to, so he tossed aside the towels and turned on the shower and set the temp to a nice amniotic warmth and began hosing her down, warming her slowly.

She sat up and opened her eyes, saw Taggart and flung herself into his completely surprised arms.

“Are you okay?” Taggart whispered into her ear, holding her close – breathing her in.

Taylor grabbed a towel and began drying her and only then did she seem to realize she was in Taggart’s arms, not William’s. She pulled the towel close and wrapped herself up as Taylor handed her another.

And at that point Taggart realized the big male orca was still just off the stern, still looking intently at – Debra – and not knowing what else to do he walked over to the edge and knelt there, waiting. “What is it, boy? Something else you got on your mind?”

But the male didn’t move…he just seemed intent on watching Debra – and William – until, perhaps a few minutes later, it turned and looked at him.

“Now why do I get the impression you know more than you’re letting on?” Taggart said, standing now and still staring into the orca’s eye.

It swam over to him and then it’s head – and a third of it’s body – came out of the water…until they were eye to eye, staring at echoes of the reflections passing between them.

He saw a ball of stars in the orca’s eye, and out of the ball a pulsing light.

“What is it? What are you trying to tell me?” he said to the orca…

But then Debra stepped close to his side, and she was holding her hand out, touching the side of the orca’s face.

“I hear you now,” she sighed. “Tell the others that I understand. I’ll be ready.”

And with that the big male fell away and slipped into the inky blackness and was gone.

Taggart turned to her, his face a mirror of the wonder he felt: “Hear…what, exactly, Debra?”

But she shook her head, her hand still out as if still touching the orca: “He will be back for you, Henry. When you are ready to see.” She turned and looked at William, her skin now beyond pale. “I think I need to go below,” she said – just before she collapsed and began falling again.

Taggart caught her and held her up until Taylor got an arm under her and lifted her up into his arms. “I’ll get your bunk ready,” Henry said as he dashed below.


“C’mon, everybody!” Ted Sorensen crowed, banging on the companionway hatch. “It’s Christmas…let’s open our presents!”

William turned to face Debra, both still under the sheets after a long night’s sleep: “I thought y’all were Jewish?” he said. “We’re doing Christmas?”

Debra opened her eyes and her hands went to her womb, to the certain knowledge that something was now fundamentally different “down there.” She turned to William and smiled, brought a hand to the side of his face. “Good morning, my love.”

He kissed her hand – just as Ted opened the door to their stateroom and burst inside. “Come on, you two. Into the cockpit, now, or by golly someone is gonna be walking the plank!”

“Dad? Would you mind if we get some clothes on first?” Deb sighed.

“You two are naked? And not even engaged? Okay Taylor, you’re first off the plank!”


Sorensen shook his head and started topside. “Dina? How long ’til we have cinnamon rolls?”

“Five minutes!”

“Taggart!” Ted shouted. “You comin’ – or sleeping in?”

“Yeah, soon as I get Dina’s pubes out of my nose,” Henry yelled back.

That was good for a laugh all ‘round the boat, if only because Ted and Dina had kept everyone up all night with at least three repeat performances.

Henry dragged himself out of the forward v-berth and into the head, and after he brushed his teeth he made his way aft to the cockpit, carrying a large pitcher of OJ and some plastic cups up as he went, and he found Sorensen sitting behind the wheel with a huge red velvet Santa sack full of wrapped presents. Dina came up behind Taggart, followed by William Taylor a moment later.

“Where’s Deb?” Sorensen asked. “Isn’t she coming?”

“She was right behind me,” Taylor sighed, turning around and looking down the companionway into the galley. “Deb?” he called out.


He dashed below, calling her name…

Then…nothing but silence. “She’s gone!” he finally cried as he made his way into their stateroom.

Copenhagen, Denmark           13 April 1939

Walter Eisenstadt sat beside the wood stove with his oldest and dearest friend, Aaron Schwarzwald, in the cozy little library off the kitchen in his house. His fingers were stiff with age these days, the knuckles in his fingers now more than a little swollen, but he was still spry enough to make his daily walk along the waterfront, even on days like this one, even in the waning slush of a long winter. He had just come in from his walk, and as was usually the case on Saturday mornings, he’d picked up Aaron along the way. Both made the walk to the main fish market to check prices for fresh salmon, and as was the case on Saturday mornings, to stop and enjoy a coffee. Now they were in his library and he put a couple of pieces of wood on the fire and closed the fireplace door after giving the coals a good poke, and then it was time to sit beside his friend and talk about the world.

“We should have remarried, Walter,” Aaron said. “These spring mornings are too cold for such loneliness.”

“If I could sleep with a woman half my age, I think I might consider the idea.”

“If you could? Why can’t you?”

“I do not want to go to prison, for one thing. And besides, who wants to be seen with a woman so young? Everywhere we might go we’d be told how lovely our daughters looked! Who needs such nonsense, my friend!”

“I do,” Aaron sighed as he rubbed his knees. “My old bed feels so – empty – now. And so cold. And how good would a simple back rub feel…?”

Walter looked at his friend again and sighed. “What’s troubling you, Aaron?”

Schwarzwald took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled as he looked at the fire dancing behind the glass door: “All this talk of war. Perhaps I could bear the thought of it if…if there was not so much hate directed at us this time.”

“So, why not leave? Why not go to America?”

“I told you yesterday…”

“And I heard you yesterday, yet still I must ask. The war will end, Aaron. All wars end, eventually. Come back after the war. Resume your life, and…”

“And what? Turn tail and run away, only to return after all the maniacs have befouled our country? That is a cowards choice, Walter, and you know it.”

“It is a survivors choice, Aaron. You can not see to your patients if you’re dead.”

“I can stay here and treat my patients when they need me most.”

“Alright then. Yet you seem to have answered your own question.”

“No, no I haven’t, Walter. And I have no answer to their hate, nothing to explain such things.”

“Nor do they, Aaron. These Germans hate us without knowing what it is they hate, let alone why. They have been taught to hate, and probably by their parents, or by a friend or maybe even a teacher. It is like a disease that is passed from one generation to the next.”

“Do you really think it is as simple as that?”

“I don’t know, Aaron, but I really don’t if anything like this can ever be simplified. I do know that if you fill a man with hate and then give him a weapon he will use that weapon, and he will use it where he has been taught to use it.”

“That is exactly my point, Walter. Is not such a man evil, is he not a monster…”

“He is a man, Aaron. And all men are open vessels, to be filled with hate or love or a passion for learning or by a desire to kill that which is considered some kind of outsider. He is your fellow man, Aaron. He is the next patient waiting to see you, the man on the tram standing beside you. He is us, Aaron, just another man in all his imperfect glory.”

“Is that so? Evil is just some sort of permutation, something beyond the standard deviation? Or is evil in fact something more grim than that, more singular?”

“You mean…like innate evil?”

“Yes, exactly so! Something tangibly real, something more than a lost soul, something beyond redemption…”

“And, Aaron, what if there is? What would you do?”


“Is that what you wish to confront, Aaron? Evil itself? Is that how you want your life end…to be remembered for…?”

“I could care less how I am remembered, my friend. I want to look this monster in the eye. I want to see this evil for myself. Perhaps then I might understand…”

“What? Why on earth…”

Aaron Schwarzwald sighed and looked down at the mangled hand resting on his belly. “I think I have prided myself on being a rational man, Walter. A scientist. A surgeon, and now a psychiatrist. I have adapted to circumstance as my life changed,” he said, raising his ruined hand, “and yet this thing called Evil still eludes me.”

“Eludes you? What do you mean by that, Aaron?”

“To believe in Evil, Walter, do you not first have to believe in goodness, in an Absolute Good. To believe in God, would you not also have to believe in His opposite? A destroyer of Goodness?”

“Since when have you believed in God, Aaron?”

Schwarzwald looked up at his friend and smiled. “Since you began speaking to me of this evil. If you are correct, if this evil is indeed something real – and not merely the product of an overactive imagination – then I want to see it for myself. I want to take a measure of this thing, I want to understand it for what it really is.”

Walter scowled, slowly shaking his head. “I’m afraid, Aaron, that the only way to truly know, let alone to understand such a thing, is to become as one with the thing, to embrace it fully. Is that what you want, Aaron? Truly?”

Schwarzwald scoffed, “Hah! So I am to be the anti-Faust, then? Is that how you see me?”

“That’s a fair question, Aaron, assuming this is what you want. Faust wanted to know everything, to possess all knowledge, and he was willing to make a deal with Mephistopheles to get it…”

“I do know the tale, Walter…”

“Oh? I wonder…do you, really? What you seek is almost the antithesis of Faust, Aaron. Can’t you see that?”

“Antithesis? How so?”

“You seek to know and understand Evil, so, in effect you wish to understand Satan, and I would have to assume that the only way you can approach such an understanding would be to petition God himself. To, in effect, strike a bargain, but this time with God…”

Again Schwarzwald chuckled. “Me? The Unbeliever? Petition God?”

“I don’t know how else you might expect to face Evil, Aaron, and walk away unscathed.”

“Unscathed? Walter, you have misunderstood me entirely. Surely you must assume that I would never embark on such a quest without knowing full well there could be no return…?”

Walter Eisenstadt looked at his friend and his hands began to shake, his vision grew dark and narrow: “You would stay here, in Copenhagen, knowing you will perish? Aaron? What is to be gained by such a…?”

Aaron smiled and shook his head slowly. “Ah, my friend, that is the bargain I must make, and the price I will have to pay…”

“To pay? Aaron, what are you talking about?”

“I must see to it that my Imogen survives this darkness, Walter. Nothing else matters.”

“Imogen? What has she to do with this?”

“Everything, Walter. Absolutely everything. And oddly enough, it is your granddaughter that will light the way…”

“My…what? Aaron? What are you talking about? I have no granddaughter!”

Aaron Schwarzwald looked away, looked to the sun rising over the city and he took a deep breath as the sheer majesty of the plan suddenly began to make sense to him, as inside that moment the staggering simplicity of his life grew crystal clear. “Oh, but you will, Walter. Only now…everything depends on her, and on what she does next.”

Povai Bay, Bora Bora, French Polynesia 25 December 1996

“What do you mean ‘She’s not down there!?’” Ted Sorensen screamed. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Where the fuck else could she be!”

Henry Taggart’s head poked up in the companionway. “Unless she’s hiding someplace I don’t know about, she ain’t down here. That’s what I mean by that, Ted.” Taggart added a little extra zing when he spat out Sorensen’s name, and the implied challenge wasn’t lost on anyone in the cockpit.

“William! Get down there and find her! Now!”


Taggart came up the companionway and made his way out of the cockpit and up to the bow; with one hand on the jib fuller he stepped up onto the pulpit rail and with his free hand he shaded his eyes and scanned the water around the boat. Shades of turquoise and cobalt, and all the water in the bay as smooth as glass, and that was all he could see…yet suddenly he thought of the orcas last night and once again nothing made any sense at all. He’d just seen her down below, snuggled up next to William and not at all wanting to leave the warmth of her bunk – and now…this had happened? People didn’t just disappear. Did they? Yet – how many people had encounters with Killer Whales like the one Debra had just experienced?

He hopped off the pulpit and went aft to the swim platform and checked the pressure on a SCUBA tank, then went to the edge of the white fiberglass and teak platform and looked into the water. He sighed as he pulled his mask over his forehead and then fins on his feet; he hooked the regulator to the primary and zeroed out the dive computer attached to the rig before he hoisted the BC vest up on his back and secured the velcro band around his waist. He patted the weights on the strap once and stepped off the platform and into the water, his field of view an explosion of bubbles before he sank beneath the surface. He popped the valve on his vest and inflated it a bit and hovered about fifteen feet beneath the keel as he equalized the pressure in his ears – and he saw he was about twenty feet above the white sandy floor below – so he circled the boat slowly, checking the sea floor and, really more than anything else looking for signs of something, anything, out of the ordinary.

But he saw little of interest – and nothing at all of Debra – with just a few small reef sharks a hundred or so feet away – lazily checking him out as he looked them over – and that was it. He popped some air into his buoyancy compensator vest and started to ascend when a flash of light caught his eye, something down deep near the sandy white bottom, so he hovered again and watched the area, looking for something, any movement that might help explain what was happening…

But then…

Out of the corner of his eye he saw the big male orca approaching, only now it was coming his way rapidly, almost urgently.

Then the male circled Taggart once, almost like a bird of prey bleeding off speed before he came in close for the kill – then almost cupping Taggart between his pectoral fin and his body, the orca began pushing Taggart up to the surface. And this did not go unnoticed by Ted Sorensen and the rest of the people standing on the boat. 

“What the hell is going on down there, Taggart?” a red-faced Sorensen screamed, as the man was now clearly consumed with fear. “Are there Killer Whales down there, too!?”

But Taggart emptied his BC and sank beneath the surface again and the orca turned and tried to cut him off, to force him back to the surface, so he swam to the anchor rode and grabbed hold of it. Then hand over hand he pushed his way down to the sea floor, and all the while the orca swam in a lazy circle around him, now with Taggart looking at the orca warily.

Then he saw the shimmer again, something like light, or almost the opposite of light drawing his eye in. An area along the bottom seemed to distort and grow dim, then a charged pinkish sphere popped into the space – and Taggart could see Debra inside – curled up like she was lost inside a deep fetal slumber.

And she was not alone.

Then the orca swam up to the surface and took a breath before coming back to Taggart – and in no uncertain terms he extended his pectoral fin, his body language telling Taggart of grab hold and hang on. Taggart took hold of the extended fin and the big male carried him down to the shimmering sphere and dropped him on the sea floor – then it moved a few meters away and seemed to watch the sphere a little expectantly. 

The creature Taggart saw inside was immense and covered in pink feathers, and it seemed to be waiting on him to do something. It almost seemed to beckon him, in effect asking him to enter the sphere, so he swam to the edge of the shimmering thing and settled on the sea floor, not sure what to do next. The creature seemed anxious now, using two hands to motion him to step inside, but Taggart really didn’t want to.

“But why?” he heard a feminine voice say – somewhere in the deeper recesses of his mind. “Why are you afraid of me?”

“Who are you?”

“That is unimportant.”

“What is important?”

“There are too many people here and we must get her back to a normal atmosphere now. Does this device you have on provide a means for two people to breathe?”

Taggart picked up the ‘octopus rig’ clipped to his vest and held it up for the creature to see. “Yes, but she needs to be conscious to use it.”

“Come inside, now. We must hurry.”

Taggart heard something in her voice that felt like urgent concern and that was all it took; he stepped inside the sphere and knelt beside Debra. Her body felt warm, almost febrile, as he lifted her to her feet, then he cleared water from the octopus rig and put it into Deb’s mouth.

“Okay,” he said, “she’s breathing on my air supply.”

“We will meet again, soon,” he heard the creature say – just before the sphere vanished…and then suddenly he was standing on the white sandy seafloor with Debra in his arms. Then Debra’s eyes popped open in disoriented panic and he held the regulator in her mouth until she settled down, and soon enough he popped some air into his vest to start his ascent –

But the big male appeared by his side again, offering his pectoral fin once again, and Taggart grabbed ahold and held on tight as the orca slowly made its way to the surface. Debra closed her eyes as the saltwater began stinging, and Taggart felt her holding him tightly – tight enough to provoke a confused rush of emotion.

The orca released them a few feet from the surface and Taggart finished the ascent, carrying Debra the last few feet up to the surface, and they popped into view about a hundred meters aft of the boat.Taggart added air to his vest and held her close – when he felt her quietly sobbing, before she rested her head next to his and caressed his neck…

“Thank you for coming for me,” she whispered, her voice hard to hear over the waves rippling around them.

“Glad to be of service, Ma’am,” Henri said – perhaps a little too obsequiously for the moment, but she laughed and kissed him on the side of his face. “Maybe we better not do this, ya know? While boyfriend and dad are watching?”


“What happened down there?”

“I’m not really sure, but it felt like I was gone for months…”

“Months? I hate to break it to you, but you’ve been gone for maybe a half hour…”

“I was on one of their ships, Henry. Earth was barely visible…”

“Okay…okay…let’s just get one thing straight right now. If you start talking about stuff like this your father is going to put you in the Funny Farm…know what I mean, Jelly-bean? Stop with the spaceship stuff right now…”

“I know, but I think they wanted me to tell you. And only you. You fit into this somehow.”

“Into what?”

“I’m really, really pregnant now,” she sighed, and she took his hand and put it on her belly…

“Fuck-shit-damn! You aren’t just kiddin’,” Taggart exclaimed. “You feel like you’re about to pop like…any time now…” He was looking at Sorensen and Taylor getting into the Zodiac and starting the outboard – without much luck…so far…

“I told you. I was up there for months.”

“Okay, I believe you, but here comes your dad. We’re going to need some kind of story to…”

“Dad knows about them. He’s met them, in the house…”

“What? Are you sure?” He felt her head nodding gently and he pressed his face into the wet hair on her neck, breathed her in. “God, you smell so good to me.”

“I know. You do too…to me, I mean.”

“We can’t do this, Deb. You and me, I mean.”

“Oh, don’t worry about all that. I already know what’s going to happen…to all of us. I’ve seen it all, everything that’s going to happen…”

“They…showed you?”

“Yup,” she said, sounding almost like a little girl now…

He pushed her away and saw she in fact looked about five years old, yet within the span of a few seconds her appearance changed again, and in the span of a single heartbeat she looked to be a hundred years old…then in the next instant she was the girl her knew, no longer pregnant and her eyes full of infinite love.

“What’s going on, Debra? What’s this all about?”

She shook her head. “They’ll tell you when you’re ready, Henri, but you have to get away from my father. He’ll destroy you, just like he’s going to destroy William…”

They heard her father shouting over the sound of the waves and the outboard motor, and soon they were alongside, then William was pulling Debra up onto the soft inflatable’s tube. William wrapped a towel around her and Sorensen gunned the engine and turned for the boat – leaving Taggart to swim back on his own…

Then the orca appeared again, offered his huge dorsal fin – helping Taggart beat them back to the boat. He was waiting for them by the swim platform as the Zodiac pulled up…

“How’d you get…” Sorensen asked, dumbfounded. “I was going to come back for you…”

“No problem, Pard. Besides being extremely good looking and hot in the sack, it turns out I’m a pretty good swimmer, too.”

Dina Marlowe broke out laughing…but then again she’d just watched an orca circle Taggart and then bring him back to the boat, and by now she knew that some really strange things were happening out here. She jumped down and helped Henry shed his tank and BC before climbing back onboard, and she looked him in the eye as they met on the swim platform…

“Think you could teach me to dive?” she asked. “That looked – interesting…”

“Sure. No problem,” Henry said as he turned and helped Debra out of the unsteady inflatable boat, and she smiled at him as she passed – and Dina didn’t miss the look in her eyes, or in Henry’s either, for that matter. Yet Ted and William seemed clueless.

“What happened to you, Debra?” William asked as she sat in the cockpit, pulling her towel close as she settled into a curved coaming.

“I was hot and needed to go for a swim, so I went out the forward hatch and dove in. Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause such a commotion…”

Sorensen looked at his daughter then at Henry – because the water here in the bay was exceptionally clear and he’d seen the shimmering sphere appear on the bottom, and both he and Dina had watched Taggart as he disappeared inside…

Yet it was William Taylor who had surprised him the most. Sorensen had watched as the Kid looked overboard and seen the sphere, but in his wildest dreams he’d never expected the reaction he’d observed.

Taylor had started shaking, then he’d whispered “Leonidas, Leonidas, oh – what have we done now. Can we never atone for our sins?”

It had taken him a moment to remember the name. Leonidas, the Spartan. What was that all about, Sorensen wondered? And why the hell did it look like the Kid recognized that sphere? And atone for what sins?

He’d turned to look at Dina, to see if she’d seen what he had.

Yet she was staring at him, measuring him and his response to the Kid’s words, then she had started to smile at him.

“What are you smiling at?” Sorensen had snarled, unsure of the things he saw in her eyes.

“Sometimes you are still like a little boy, Ted. And yet there are times when I can only see the fires of Hell in your eyes.”

“And what? This is a surprise to you?”

She’d turned her head away then, before she answered his question: “Maybe they are one and the same, Ted. The little boy might run from the flames, but you’ll grow old, just like the rest of us…and what happens then?”

“Just like the rest of us? That’s rich.” Ted had looked down into the sea again and he saw Henry and Debra emerge from the sphere. “My guess, dear Dina, is that, in the end, we all burn.”

“That’s what you want, isn’t it?”

He’d turned and looked up to the heavens and scowled. “We’re flawed, Dina. We shouldn’t even exist, yet we do.”

“And you’re going to change that, aren’t you? You’re going to bring us all down, make all of us burn in the fire you bring?”

He’d turned and looked at her, his eyes black and empty. Then he smiled, at her, at all humanity, and she’d felt her soul wither under the weight of his Hate.

© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkü all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.

(Neil Young; Old Man)

Forgotten Songs From An Imaginary Life, Chapter 13.2

A Housee no windows

A brief nocturne? Time enough for tea?

Steve Howe  All’s A Chord

Part III: The House With No Windows

Chapter 13.2

Povai Bay, Bora Bora, French Polynesia                             24 December 1996

The French Clorox bottle lay at anchor in the southeast portion of the bay, a few hundred yards north of Bloody Mary’s, a popular watering hole on the main island named after a song of the same name from the musical South Pacific, and Henry Taggart was sitting in the cockpit updating his own personal logbook. He’d maintained this book since in junior high school, primarily to keep track of his sailing adventures but also as a kind of roaming diary, logging his life’s milestones along the routes of his journeys. The first time he’d talked to Doris Day, the first time he’d taken his dad’s Swan out by himself – on a date, for God’s sake – and yes, his first kiss that evening. All these big and not so big events were in this book – or series of books, because he’d filled four logbooks so far – and while he enjoyed keeping them up to date, he also enjoyed thumbing through them from time to time. Sometimes looking back was a good way to make out the road ahead.

He always filled in the usual information, the ship’s longitude and latitude, course and speed and water descriptions such as depth and other features like reefs or sandbars, but he also spent a fair amount of time painting a picture of his surroundings. He enjoyed writing about the people he sailed with, or at least he usually did, but on that score he was a little less sure this time out. Ted Sorensen was, if anything, a little meaner to people than his reputation suggested, yet his daughter was, if anything, the real mystery. She was weird, as in really strange. The first thing he’d noticed was her eyes; huge, dark brown and watery, heavy brows that somehow seemed to remind him of a silent movie stars eyes. They were gorgeous, sensuous eyes, all the more so because they took everything in. He watched her watching her boyfriend and her father’s girlfriend, the nymphomaniacal Dina Marlowe, and Taggart had found himself wondering how long it would take for Marlowe to make a move on William Taylor. The way she stared at the kid’s crotch was almost too much to endure; he’d wanted to laugh the first couple of times he saw that show but really didn’t want to rock that boat.

He’d gone along with Ted and William on Moorea with one of the location scouting crews, looking for just the right house to set the scene for a pivotal moment in the proposed shooting script. The house had to have a prescribed set of features, all clearly established in the original novel, but other more intangible elements had to be factored in, as well. Sun angles for establishing shots, especially sunsets. A needed rain scene had to have good views of the jagged peaks with clouds clearing the peaks. So the house had to have good porches. Ceiling fans a must. Then the fun part. Find the owners and hammer out a working arrangement. And Sorensen berated the kid incessantly, bullied him until it looked like the kid was about to break. Even the scouting crew noticed, and Taggart wondered why no one said anything. Was Ted just trying to run the kid off? William obviously wasn’t Jewish – was that the reason why? Or was Sorensen just a hard taskmaster? Or maybe that was just the movie biz…?

Taggart included all these observations in his log, sometimes drawing little pictures on the margins, almost cartoons that seemed to capture the essence of the moment, in this case little colored pencil pastiches he created on the fly. ‘Gaugin on a Clorox bottle,’ he scribbled under one drawing of the boat; ‘Love will find a way,’ he wrote under a doodle of Debra and William sitting up on the bow, their feet dangling on either side of the anchor rode. 

They’d seemed lost up there, sitting side by side yet miles apart. Taggart looked at the kid – all hunched over and miserable because her old man was using him like a punching bag – and it all seemed so unfair. The kid had never been out of the States before and here he was in paradise and so bummed out he couldn’t even look around and see where he was. And yeah, she was an empath – but so what? The kid didn’t need an empath right now. He needed to get laid, get drunk, get a million miles away from Ted Sorensen, but she was smothering the kid with all her clinging empathy and she couldn’t see it. She couldn’t see that she was enabling her father’s continuing assaults, that his love and concern for her was keeping him from standing up to her old man.

So Taggart had just convinced Sorensen and the nymph to go ashore for dinner, and after he’d run them to the pier in front of Bloody Mary’s he’d gone back out to the Clorox bottle and given the kid a BIG fuckin’ Viagra and some Tylenol then gone for a swim.

When he swam back to the boat about an hour later, he found them sitting on the bow, talking hand in hand – again. He swam up to the bow and chatted with them, noticed her knees were seriously red and grinned, then asked if they wanted to join him for a swim.

The sun was about half a fist above the horizon but the water was warm, and Taggart held onto the anchor rode while the two went below to put on their swimsuits – and about that time he thought he felt a shadow passing underneath the boat so he slipped his mask back on and ducked his head under the water.

Nothing, just a few little reef fish and a ray skimming along the sandy bottom, then he heard Debra laughing and looked up in time to see her pushing William off the swim platform into the water, then diving in after him, almost landing on top of the kid. He swam aft, back to the stern, and he found them there – face to face with a large male orca.

Taggart got to William first and grabbed his arm, pulled him to the swim platform.

“Just be quiet,” Taggart sighed. “No sudden noise, okay?”

He swam back over to Deb – who seemed almost entranced by the male’s eye – and when he reached out to take her arm she shook herself free.

“Leave me alone,” she whispered.

“I can’t do that,” Taggart said.

“You have to leave now. I’ve been waiting for this.”

“What? What are you talking about…?”

“I’ve seen this happen, in my dreams – the last two nights.”

“I’ve seen a lot of shit in my dreams, Debra, but this ain’t no dream. That’s a killer whale, and they don’t call them that because of their friendly disposition, ya know?”

But then several female orcas appeared a few hundred yards away. Taggart counted five short dorsal fins and they were headed their way, and fast, and as they closed the distance the male moved between Debra and the boat, cutting her off – but when Taggart began to swim around the big male he shifted position to block him. When Taggart tried again the male swam over and nudged him to the stern, in effect pinning him there. 

William leaned over and pulled Taggart up onto the platform and they watched in fascinated horror as the females surrounded Debra and began swimming in ever tightening circles around her, the churning water a kaleidoscope of frothy phosphorescence. Debra seemed caught inside a strange pulsing light, her arms overhead and her body slowly spinning in the vortex the females were generating.

The sun slipped beneath the horizon and slowly the sky filled with stars, and it was as if the baby forming inside the womb of this night was destined to make his way among this ever expanding field of stars. And now Debra drifted in open-armed embrace of the sea, dreaming the passing shadows of those who had traveled this way before.

© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkü all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.

Yes Love Will Find A Way

Forgotten Songs From An Imaginary Life, Chapter 13.1

A Housee no windows

Let’s see if we can climb out of the rabbit hole and find some sunlight…

[Pat Metheny Group + A Place In The World]

Part III: The House With No Windows

Chapter 13.1

Beverly Hills, California                                                  18 December 1996

Deb and William pulled into the garage of her father’s house on Foothill Road and, gently, she turned and smiled at him. “You’re doing better,” she said as he took the key from the ignition and handed it to her.

“I’ve never seen anything like this city. The streets must’ve been laid out by idiots.”

She laughed at that. “Oh, it’s not so bad, really. As long as you can find north, just head that way until you hit Wilshire or Santa Monica then hang a left. You did great!”

He looked at her and nodded, still not really sure of himself. Still, he really liked driving her Porsche…

But he was still really uptight whenever her father was around. Something about the guy, some kind of deep anger always seemed to be hiding in plain sight, welling up to the surface but not quite breaking through. He felt stupid, tongue-tied and almost illiterate when Ted Sorensen asked him something, even mundane questions about the weather! Then, without warning and like always out of the blue Ted would ask some kind of tough question – like about things going on the world – and he could hardly come up with an intelligible reply. Every now and then he’d seen people react to his own father that way, but Mr. Sorensen was in a league of his own. Taylor simply felt out of his depth when Sorensen was around, and the feeling hit him hardest when coming off the football field after practice and going directly over to the house in Beverly Hills. It was like one minute everyone feared and respected him, but as soon as he got to Sorensen’s house he felt the exact opposite reaction…like he was unsure of his place in the world, and very inadequate to the moment.

Sitting there in Deb’s yellow Porsche he realized he was staring at his hands, lost in thought, and that Deb had just asked him something.

“Hm-m? What’d you say?”

“Just relax, William. He’s not going to bite your head off, you know?”

“Deb, we’re going to be locked up on a boat with him, and like a million miles from nowhere…”

“We won’t be the only ones there, you know…? Some location scouts are coming along, and I think he’s bringing someone special.”

“What? You mean…like a date?”

Deb sighed when she heard the mocking tone in Williams question. “No, not really. She’s always been more like a close friend, but they’ve been spending a lot of time together recently. Oh, she designed this house, in case that comes up.”

“She’s an architect?”

“Yeah, a pretty famous one, too. Her name is Dina and she’s really fun to hang out with.”

“Is that special effects guy coming, too?”

She nodded. “Yeah, but I don’t really know all that much about him, other than he’s into sailing.”

“I hope everyone knows I’ve never been on a boat before.”

“You mean besides Dad? Oh, I doubt anyone cares one way or another.”

“They will if I fall overboard.”

She laughed at that. “Don’t worry. I’m a good swimmer.”

“I’m not. With this knee, if I hit the water I’m pretty sure I’ll sink like a rock.”

“How is it today?”

“Good, assuming I don’t run out of Percocet.”

She nodded, tried not to look at the massive bruise on the inside of his right knee then took his hand. “Just lean on me, okay?”

He turned and looked into her eyes and nodded. “Have I told you how much I love you today?”

“Not yet,” she smiled – just before she leaned in for a kiss.

“Well I do, ya know.”

“Ditto,” she sighed as he ran his fingers through her hair. “Ooh, you’re going to drive me mad if you keep that up.”

“Say…maybe we could stay here in the garage and no one would notice…?”

“Or maybe we ought to go on in. I think the limo will be here soon and Dad will get upset if we’re late.”

William Taylor shuddered involuntarily. ‘Perish the thought,’ he sighed…


He was expecting to drive into the main terminal area at LAX – but the convoy of limos continued south on Sepulveda through the tunnels under the runway; when the cars turned right on Imperial he grew confused. Yet almost immediately the Lincolns made another hard right and turned into a complex of office buildings and hangers that appeared to line the south side of the closest runway. His limo pulled to a stop behind Ted Sorensen’s and soon everyone was getting out and standing around, some stretching and squinting at the sun, others chatting amiably as their noonday departure hit home. Sunglasses went on and baggage handlers dashed out of the main office building and took everyone’s luggage inside, directly to a Customs and Immigration kiosk. Pilots lounged on the far side of the room, looking bored as they thumbed through car magazines.

By now, William knew better than to say a word – lest he appear too vapid – and when he got to customs an agent looked him over then stamped his passport…and that was it. The agent told him he was no longer in the United States – even though he was standing firmly in Los Angeles – and he only grew more confused as he followed Deb through the building and outside to an area dotted with dozens of private jets. He’d never seen anything like these aircraft and he was instantly smitten by the sight of so much obvious wealth…just sitting out there under the sun…waiting for their owners to come and command them.

Then he saw Sorensen walking up the air-stairs and disappearing inside an airliner – a private airliner. It looked like a Boeing 707 but planes weren’t his thing so he just clammed up and walked up the steps. And there was a stewardess waiting for him with a smile, too! ‘What the Hell…!’

Debra led him to a pair of seats just aft of the wing but by that point William was almost in shock. He was looking down, not paying attention at all, and Deb pulled him down into a seat and belted him in.

“You okay?” she asked.

He just shook his head then shrugged.

“What’s wrong?”

“Whose plane is this? Your father’s?”

“God no,” Ted Sorensen said, now standing beside Debra and looking down at William. “It’s the studios. Most of the people on board today are location scouts and pre-production people that will be looking over potential shooting sites around Moorea.”

“Are all these people going to be with us?” Deb asked.

“We have five boats chartered,” Ted answered casually, “so we’ll sail as a caravan over to Moorea then up to Bora-Bora. We’ll spend a couple of days at each island, and William, I want you to spend some time with the location scouts this time, okay?”

“Me, sir?”

“Yes, you,” Sorensen snarled. “You might as well get your feet wet, see what this business is all about.”


Sorensen growled and walked aft.

“Stop calling him sir, would you?” Deb sighed. “It’s like you’re trying to piss him off!”

Taylor turned and looked out the window, the shrieking whine of the 707s engines drowning out the feeling of despair that seemed to have latched onto his neck like a snake, then he felt Deb next to him, and she took his hand again.

“I’m sorry, William,” she said over the mounting roar of the four jet engines. “I keep forgetting…” 

“I don’t belong here,” he said softly.

“What?” she said. “I can’t hear you.”

“Nothing,” he sighed. “I’ll try to do better.”

Harlowton, Montana                                           18 December 1990

The Air Force people had completely sealed off the area where the missile silos had been – ever since the entire complex ‘disappeared’ a couple of weeks ago – and ever since that night the area just north of the Taylor’s house had been crawling with strangers in lab coats and hooded orange parkas carry strange looking machines – all pointed down at the earth.

Now that football season was over, William and his kid brother Frank went about their chores every afternoon after school, and after they got off the school bus that afternoon their father had asked them to ride out to the east and check out the gates that secured the Harley pasture.

“Big storm coming on hard now,” their father said, “I don’t know how those idiots did it, but I saw a half dozen head roaming north of the fence. My guess is one of those egg-heads must’ve opened the gate and left it…”

William saddled up Biscuit – who’d been his horse since he was a little colt – while his brother got Tad ready to ride, then they zipped up their heavy parkas and walked their horses out of the barn and into first waves of a raging blizzard. They followed the fence line for a half mile, then William got off Biscuit and opened the gap into the northeast pasture, the one his great grandfather had called the Ghost Pasture. No one had ever bothered to ask why, so the name had stuck.

William closed the gate and they followed the next fence to the gap that separated the Ghost Pasture from the Harley Pasture – and sure enough, it was open. William went over and closed the gate, and then he noticed several hoof prints in the drifting snow – all headed north – and one appeared to be a calf.

He groaned. They’d have to ride out and find the little fella and make sure he hadn’t wandered off by himself, because wolves would pick off a stray in a heartbeat. He pulled his coat’s hood up and cinched the drawstring tight – to keep the wind driven snow from running down his back – then he mounted Biscuit and turned to his brother.

“Frank, you’d better head back. This shouldn’t take more than a half hour.”

Frank shook his head. “No way, Bro. What if you fall on your ass? And you know you can’t tell your ass from a hole in the ground without me…”

William shrugged and snarled: “Whatever, Dude,” before he turned into the wind and set off, following the calf’s prints, his eyes following the track in the snow for several minutes…until…

“There he is,” Frank pointed, “over there!”

But William wasn’t looking for calves anymore. His eyes were locked onto what looked like a welder’s torch in the woods off to his left. There wasn’t anything capable of making that kind of light out here, and especially not in a storm like this. He turned to Frank in time to see him pointing to the calf and rode over to the snow-encrusted creature and jumped down to check him out. He didn’t need to be told what to do next.

The calf was about half-past dead so he roped him up and tossed the end to Frank: “Get him back to the barn,” he yelled out over the roaring snow. “I’m gonna go check out that light!”

“What light?”

“That one,” William said, pointing to the forest a few hundred yards off to the north.

“What the fuck IS that?”

“You got me. Now git goin’, Slick. I’ll be right behind you.”

He got up on Biscuit and rode towards the light, reaching it after about ten minutes. He looked over the situation, more confused than ever – no way should there be a light this bright out here. 

‘What if it has something to do with the silo,’ he wondered. ‘But that would mean…’

“Well, one way or the other I’ve got to find out.”

He tied Biscuit off to a sturdy branch and grabbed his 30-30 before he walked into the forest, and the closer he got to the source of the light the warmer the air became, while the sound of the roaring storm grew more and more distant, like a memory fading in the face of new fear.

He pushed his way through drifting snow until he came to a large pine, and here he pushed aside a heavy branch – and gasped.

He saw two creatures, one laying on the ground and obviously injured, the other kneeling beside his injured friend, trying to help.

The one on the ground sat up when it saw William, and the other turned too. William had never felt such fear in his life.

“Ach, Leonída, póso théleis na steíleis móno énan Spartiáto!” the injured creature said, its voice a deep, soothing baritone. (Αχ, Λεωνίδα, πόσο θέλεις να στείλεις μόνο έναν Σπαρτιάτο!)

“I’m sorry,” William said, “I don’t understand.”

The kneeling creature stood and William gasped. It had to be ten feet tall and its body was covered with feathers, his belly feathers robin’s egg blue and his back a deep shimmering cobalt. “He is not Leonidas,” this one said, in English now.

“He looks like Leonidas. Are you certain?”

“I am certain. This one is scared. Leonidas never feared of us.”

William stepped closer to the standing creature and looked at him more closely. “Are you the ones who took the missile silos?” he asked.

The standing creature began to spread its wings, revealing killing talons about a third of the way out the wing…

…and William brought the Winchester up to his shoulder, cocking the hammer in one smooth, practiced motion.

“I do not see fear,” the injured creature said. “Are you sure he is not Leonidas?”

“No, I am not sure. I see something new in his eyes now.”

“Put the weapon down, Leonidas. We are not your enemy,” the injured creature said.

“What’s wrong with you?” William said, his eyes still trained on the razor sharp talons of the standing creature.

“This thing,” the injured creature sighed, pointing to his right leg. “We can not get it loose.”

William looked down and saw the creature had stepped into a heavy spring-loaded trap, and the heavy spring-loaded arms had slammed shut on his leg.

“I tried to cut it off,” the standing creature said, “but the heat transfers from the metal to the flesh to quickly.”

William walked over to the wounded creature and looked at the trap; it belonged to poachers who had been working the area for months, and it was easy enough to remove – assuming your fingers could reach the release mechanism, that is. These creatures had fingers, but they were thick and about a foot long.

He bent down and hit the release and pulled the trap open, then he gently pulled the trap free of the mangled leg – which suddenly started bleeding.

The other creature knelt beside him and hit the wound with another light, a pinkish white floodlight or some sort, and the bleeding stopped almost instantly. “Can you help me get him to his feet, young Leonidas?” 

It took a minute but they managed to get the injured creature out to the pasture; William climbed up on Biscuit and the two creatures stood there, watching him as he put his rifle back in its scabbard.

“Is someone coming for you?” Taylor asked.

“Yes. Soon.”

“Okay. Well, nice to meet you,” William said, saluting and turning his horse towards the house.

“It was nice to see you again, my friend,” the injured creature said.

William stopped and turned to face them again. “Yes, it was. Be well.”

“Αυτό πρέπει να μείνει μεταξύ μας.” (Aftó prépei na meínei metaxý mas.)

“I understand,” William said. “Until next time.”

William Taylor rode back to the barn and helped get the stray calf warmed and bedded down for the night, and once he and Frank were inside and helping set the table for dinner, his father came in from the storm and sat by the wood stove to warm up.

“Your brother said you went after some kind of light. What was it, Will?”

“Poachers again, Dad. They had a wolf in a trap.”

“Will?” Frank said. “That sure didn’t look like poachers to me. Not with that light…”

His father looked him over once then nodded. “You got some blood on you. Best go get that washed off before dinner.”

William looked down at his jeans; he hadn’t noticed the blood before and he didn’t remember where it must’ve happened. A minute later he didn’t remember the encounter in the trees or anything else that had happened out there. And neither did he appear to recognize the tiny blue sphere that hovered outside his bedroom window that night, and several more times in the weeks and months that followed.

0230 hours 23 December 1996                 approaching Passe Teavanui, Bora-Bora, French Polynesia

Once the sun had set the afternoon trades set, too, and now there wasn’t a breath of air stirring the water’s surface. Henry Taggart had pulled in all the sails hours ago, then spent a half hour tying off halyards to keep them from banging into the mast. Still, sleep had proven elusive. It was just too damn hot down below – even when the air conditioner worked…which wasn’t often. He had finally given up and come back up to the cockpit, only to find the jock from ‘SC already sitting aft by the rail, his feet dangling off the stern. 

“Want something to drink?” Taggart said when he saw the kid…

“Huh…what?” William Taylor barked, startled out of his reveries by the unseen voice.

“I said, would you like something to drink?”

“Uh, yeah. Thanks. A Coke if there’s any left.”

“Oh, I have a secret stash,” Taggart said as he disappeared into the galley, and he came back up a few minutes later with two ice cold Cokes – in glass bottles, no less. He handed one to Taylor and sat down on the seat built into the stern rail. “Too hot for you down there?” Taggart asked after he took a long pull from the bottle.

“My knee was bothering me, really throbbing, and I just couldn’t get comfortable.”

“I know the feeling.”

“You play football?”

“Just high school. Middle linebacker.”

“Me too. Did you play any in college?”

“No, not really. I’d pretty much lost interest by then.”

“Where’d you play?”

“Oh, Newport Beach, then I went to a little school in the Bay Area for a couple of years, before I transferred to Claremont. Stanford for grad school, in computer science.”

“What are you doing out here? Mr. Sorensen tag you to come along?”

“Pretty much. He’s interested in sailing, and that’s been my main thing for a while.”

“Sailing? Really?”

“Yeah. It’s a nasty habit. Hard to break, too.”

“Is he going to buy this boat?”

“This piece of crap? Over my dead body. This is a French Clorox bottle, built cheap for the charter market out here.”

“It sure is big.”

“Despite rumors to the contrary, size isn’t everything.”

That was good for a chuckle. “I’m not doing too well in that area, either,” Taylor sighed. “I think it’s the Percocet, but I can’t get it up.”

“You ever heard of Viagra?”

“Sure, who hasn’t…? I just didn’t happen to think I’d need something like that, you know?”

“I have plenty. Let me know if you want one.”

Taylor shook his head. “I couldn’t get on top for all the tea in China right now.”

“So? Let her get on top…”


“Excuse me for asking, but how many times have you two made it?”

“A couple.”

“Ah. And before that? You have much experience?”


“Where you from, kid?”


“Ah, Montana. Where men are men…and sheep are scared.”


“Oh, nothing. So, let me just cue you in on something you might not be aware of. Next time the mood strikes just lie on your back and let her assume the position. Just straddle you, ya know? Like riding a horse. She’ll find her groove, and who knows, you might too.”

“Tell you the truth, man, I’m not sure I even want to try out here, ya know? When someone farts it sounds like a cannon going off…”

“You’ll have to wait for her old man to go ashore.”

“I’m just too uptight, man. Her old man really bugs me, ya know?”

“No, I don’t know. What’s going on?”

“I don’t know how to describe it, man, but it’s like I know him, like I’ve always known him – and I mean like forever.”

“Deja vu? Something like that?”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“Deja vu? Oh, when you find yourself in a situation and it feels like you’ve already been there before, almost like reliving something again.”

“Kinda, but not really. It feels more like I knew him…before.”

“Before? I’m not sure I’m following you, kid.”

“Like I knew him in another life.”

“Another life?”

“Well, more like I’ve lived a bunch of times and he always shows up, like we’re locked in some kind of battle, in a battle we can never win…or even lose…either of us.”

“I’m not sure…” Taggart began saying, then: “Pull your legs in!”


But Taggart didn’t hesitate now; he jumped over and pulled Taylor up until he was standing on deck – just as a large shark rolled under the yacht’s stern, thrashing the water in frustration as it passed, then sounding out of sight into the inky blackness below.

“Jesus H Christ!” Taylor cried. “What the fuck was that?”

“White tip.”


“An oceanic white-tip shark – pretty big one, too.”

“That was a fucking shark?”

Taggart nodded his head. “This is their home, kid, not yours.”

“Jesus, fuck, shit, I was thinking of going for a swim a half hour ago…”

Taggart looked at the kid, his hands shaking now and his voice a faintly hoarse, crackling-tremorous wisp of a thing, so he grabbed the kid’s Coke and went back to the galley. He topped off the bottle with rum and hurried back to the rail, handing over the bottle again: “Here, try this.”

“What is this?” Taylor said after he took a tentative sip.

“Rum. It’s required after your first close encounter – with a shark, that is. Hell, after any encounter with a shark. And no sipping allowed, kid. Chug it – you won’t regret it.”

Taylor stiffened at the mention of close encounters, then he shrugged it off and took a long pull from the bottle, making a grimaced, squinty-eyed face when he finished swallowing the stuff. “Shit, that tastes just about like the worst fucking cough medicine I’ve ever had.”

“You ought to try gin sometime. Tastes just like your dad’s after-shave lotion smells.”

“Yuk. No thanks.”

“You got that right, kid. Stick with rum. Grows hair on your balls.”

“Really? Can I have some more?”

The breeze filled-in an hour before nautical sunrise and Taylor helped Taggart raise the main, then he took the wheel while Taggart unfurled the big sail up front, which he called the ‘genoa’, and the boat picked up speed after that. Taggart navigated around the north side of the island group, pointing out the highest peak – Mont Otemanu – as an amber sun just lit the summit.

Deb came up from below and stretched as the wind caught her hair, sending it streaming aft and catching her off guard. “Geesh, is that a sight, or what?” she sighed as she looked at the twin peaks glowing in their very own rosy fingered dawn. “And look at the color of that water. Makes you want to dive in and swim for the beach…”

“I wouldn’t,” William replied offhandedly. “See that fella?” he said, pointing at the white-tipped fin cruising about fifty yards aft.

“What is that?”

“A very mean shark,” Taylor sighed. “Take my word for it. You don’t want to fuck around with him.”

Deb looked at William, the obvious question begging to be asked, but she could see his anxiety even now – like an aura of sparkling green and gold traceries, then she smelled the overpowering essence of dark rum. She groaned inwardly then turned and looked at Henry Taggart and he smiled at her in that way of his, but already she hated this smug, sarcastic bastard, and she knew she’d have to limit William’s exposure to him – lest he undo all her work so far.

Taggart headed in close, to within a few hundred meters of the northwest tip of the main group, along the so-called Pointe Paharire and the little airport beyond, and he looked at the alarm on Ted Sorensen’s face when his head popped up the companionway.

“Aren’t you cutting it a little close?” Sorensen barked, the whites of his eyes clearly defined now.

“I guess if we hit something you’ll know for sure,” Taggart replied casually – but with his usual shit-eating grin splitting his face from ear to ear.

“Come on up, Dina,” Ted said. “This ought to be something…”

And then Dina the Architect came up the companionway as naked as the day she was born, and Henry Taggart thought – for a woman her age, anyway – she looked imminently fuckable…so of course his grin only grew bigger.

William Taylor looked away, aft – towards the rounded white-tipped dorsal fin roaming lazily in their wake, though he tried to solve a few quadratic equations in his head…

While Deb seethed in unsettled anger, looking at Dina’s shaved nether regions and her father’s barely contained equipment.

But of course her father looked at Dina with something much more than simple pride of ownership in his eyes. He was in love – again – and he didn’t care who knew.

‘My-oh-my,’ Henry Taggart sighed, if only to himself, ‘but aren’t things looking up now? Ya know, with just a little bit of help, this trip could get real fun, real fast…’

© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkü all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.

For Debra, from T:

Here’s the original:

From the two versions of The Thomas Crown Affair. What music is all about, ya know?

Hasta later, y’all.

Forgotten Songs From An Imaginary Life, Chapter 12.4

A Housee no windows

Time for tea, anyone?

(What Is And What Should Never Be, Led Zeppelin)

Part III: The House With No Windows

Chapter 12.4  

Harlowton, Montana October 1990

William Taylor was a big kid. An imposing kind of big, and he always had been. Solid muscle, but not the kind that came from too much time in a gym full of preening mirror queens. No, his were home grown, built up over cold, hard winters working on his parent’s ranch between Harlowton and Lavina, in central Montana. He’d grown up riding horses – not because he wanted to ride or because he liked horses, but because riding fence lines on horseback was still a pretty good way to get the job done. Especially when you were just a little kid. Few people understand that riding horses is not a passive activity, and that to ride a horse well you need to be about as strong as the horse you’re riding.

The ranch had been in the family for four generations, dating back to at least the 1890s. Families had arranged marriages out on the prairie for decades, ensuring that large spreads grew larger, that dynasties were maintained and fortunes assured. Now the Taylor Ranch, or the Bar-T, as it was called, was about twenty miles by thirty five miles, so big that Dub Taylor had been flying his fence lines in a Piper Cub for twenty years. They rotated sections on the Bar-T, running cattle on large swathes and growing wheat on adjacent parcels. The land looked flat from up there in the Cub, with squared-off buttes here and there, but once you were down on the ground you soon realized the land was anything but flat. There were several tributaries of the Musselshell River running through the land and more than a few old growth forests just north of the main house, but about the only other remarkable features you’d find out there on the Bar-T those days were little fenced off enclosures that housed Minuteman III ICBMs. A bunch of them, as a matter of fact.

William’s father, William Sr but locally known as Dub, hated those goddam missiles. He hated them because ever since he’d allowed the Air Force put them in the ground life on the ranch had grown uncomfortable. Uncomfortable as in strange, or, as Dub put it: “Pretty fucking weird.”

The ‘Missileers’ – as the airmen in the silos were known – came from Malmstrom Air Force Base over in Great Falls, and they didn’t drive out to the silos in cars or trucks, they came out in dark blue Hueys. And they came out whenever they wanted, but usually in the middle of the night. And if you happened to be anywhere close to them you got out of their way, or else. Large trucks came and went in the middle of the night, too, but they came in heavily armed convoys. If you were dumb enough to ask what was in the trucks you were reminded in no uncertain terms that you really needed to mind your own business and otherwise shut the fuck up. The word over in Harlowton was that 200 megaton hydrogen warheads were in those dark blue trucks. The Air Force guys called them City-busters.

And not long after the blue trucks started coming in the night the red spheres started showing up. 

The family was gathered at the dining room table one night when a bunch of Hueys came roaring in low over the house, and that kind of thing was already considered “pretty fuckin’ unusual” – so Dub grabbed his 30-30 and made for the door, not sure what to expect.

“Well, fuck me in the ass,” Dub muttered as he stuttered to a stop in the doorway.

A couple miles away, just to the north of the main house and so not all that far away from Mount Baldy, he saw a red sphere hanging in the sky – and he could tell it was close. Real close. Like right above the local silo close.

“What is it, Dad?” Junior asked as he came up beside his father.

But his father didn’t say a word – he just pointed.

And William Taylor saw his first UFO that night. 

It wouldn’t be his last.

Los Angeles, California                                      14 September 1996

“Anything sound good to you?” William Taylor asked Debra Sorensen when he got to her dorm room.

“You like steak?” she asked.

And he winced, because he’d grown up eating hardly anything other than steak. Although beef stew was a popular option, fish was almost an unknown on the ranch.

“I’m kind of into fish,” he replied, “but so far about all I’ve found is that fish thing at MacDonald’s.”

“The what?”

“I think it’s called the Filet-o-fish.”

“And you like fish?”

“I think so.”

She looked at him, saw he was uncomfortable and in an instant she could feel him, feel his embarrassment, almost overwhelming shame.

“I know a great place,” she said, thinking she knew just how to handle this. “Do you have a car or can we take mine?”

He shook his head. “Nope. No car.”

Again she sensed embarrassment but she didn’t see an easy way around that right now. “Mind if I drive?” she asked – as she reached out and took his hand in hers. She felt him relax as they walked over to the parking garage…at least until they got to her car.

“Is that yours?” he asked as she walked up to her Porsche Carrera 4.

“Yup. Help me with the top, will you?”


She smiled as she unlocked the doors. “Just sit down, okay?”

She pointed at a latch and asked him to release it then she flipped a switch and the Cabriolet’s top retracted in a dance of exquisite precision, and she watched Taylor watching the movements, and he seemed totally fascinated. She backed out of her assigned space and made it up to the westbound 10 and took it all the way out to the PCH, turning north on the coast highway and heading up to The Chart House in Malibu.

There was a long wait for a table but when Deb walked up to the hostess’s stand they were seated immediately, and soon enough their waiter greeted Deb like a close friend, even giving her a little hug before he helped her take a seat.

“Trust me?” she asked Taylor, and when he shrugged she turned to Chip, their waiter, and ordered crab bisque, lobster and filet mignons before she took William up to the salad bar. When he saw piles of smoked salmon there he turned and looked at Debra, then he shrugged apologetically.

“I don’t think I can afford this place,” he whispered in her ear.

“You played so well today, maybe you ought to let me get this one, and you can get the next one.”

He nodded but once again she felt something like shame as he picked up an iced salad plate.

“Why is there fish up here?” he asked.

“Ever had a real Caesar Salad?”

“I’ve had caesar dressing before?”

“Henry?” she said to the man behind the station. “Two Caesar’s with anchovies and lox, please.”

“Yes, Miss Sorensen.”

Taylor looked at Debra then looked around the restaurant, and for the first time, really. 

The restaurant was not next to the beach but cantilevered on rocks and almost perched out over the breaking surf and there was a huge open fireplace in the center of the dining area roaring away – and about this time a real honest-to-Pete movie star came up to Deb and gave her a hug and a quick kiss on the cheek…and then she introduced William to Robert Redford.

“William plays for USC,” she added.

“Oh?” Redford said. “Were you out there today?”

“Yessir. Middle linebacker.”

“Oh yeah? Number 56, right? Helluva game, and call me Bob, please.”

And that was all it took. Half the people in the restaurant came up after that and wanted to shake his hand, wanted to congratulate him on a game well played, and Debra leaned back and grinned as her plan unfolded. William was an accepted part of the scene now, and she was his date now, and not the other way around.

By the time they got up from their table at the Chart House – about three hours later – he realized this was exactly why he’d come to USC, and he understood that Debra was the key to the future he’d always dreamed of.

But she wasn’t through with him just yet. Not in the least.

Instead of walking out to the valet stand she led him through the rocks and down to the breaking waves beneath the restaurant, and when she took his hands this time he knew exactly what to do.


It was simply a coincidence that Ted Sorensen was at The Chart House that evening – unless of course  it wasn’t. 

He was meeting with one of his special effects teams that afternoon anyway, so when the meeting ran over he suggested they continue out in Malibu over dinner. No big deal. But by then the studio’s head of security had briefed him in on Debra’s activities at the Coliseum that day, and that one of the linebackers had asked her out to dinner. It didn’t take too long to learn that the kid didn’t have a pot to piss in and that Deb would be picking up the tab – and besides, where else could she go to impress a jock from East Bumfuck, Montana…on her hundred bucks a week allowance? She still had charging privileges at The Chart House, so that question was conveniently answered. People were so predictable, so easy to manipulate. Even his daughter…

But his FX team had scored a new hire, a real gunslinger who’d been working for Aldus and Adobe and who just might be able to take the studio’s special effects efforts to the next level. His name was Henry Taggart and while he’d played ball down in Newport Beach he was also supposed to be big in the local sailing scene, and that made him of sudden interest to Sorensen. Because Ted wanted to get into sailing right now, tonight. It might prove useful, if only because he’d grown to detest golf and he needed a hobby. Maybe this Taggart kid would know the score, at least well enough to be worth talking to this evening.

He’d made sure to have Taggart sit next to him that evening, though he’d had to ignore him for the first ten or so minutes – the time it took him to read through his security chief’s work-up on the Taylor kid, anyway – then he’d started talking about boats.

“Say,” he began, “you know anything about sailboats?”

“A little,” Taggart sighed. “Why? Got one, or want one?”

“I’m interested in getting one but have no idea where to start.”


“Excuse me?”

“Why do you want a boat? Got a trip in mind, or just looking for another mindless status symbol?”

Ted laughed at that, but the guy’s flippant tone was aggravating. “Mindless. I like that. Is that what boats are for?”

“Around here that’s usually the score,” Taggart said, grinning a little. “Either that or they’re just elaborate compensation mechanisms.”

“Compensation?” Sorensen asked.

“Yup. The smaller the pecker the bigger the boat.”

“Ah.” Sorensen leaned back and smiled. “And you’re a real expert in these matters, I assume?”

“You live and learn, Mr. Sorensen.”

“Ted. Please.”

“Okay, Ted. Look, I’ll tell you what I tell everyone who asks about boats. Go charter one for a week or two and see if the whole thing works for you. That’s usually enough to either catch the bug…or to come to your senses.”

“Charter? Like what? Charter a sailboat? You can do that?”

“Don’t play dumb, Ted. Why don’t you tell me what’s really on your mind?”

Now Sorensen didn’t know what to think of this kid. He was bright, maybe too bright for his own good, but already he was beginning to like him. “See that kid up there with Redford?”


“He’s with my daughter, Debra. That’s her, with the brown hair and glasses.”


“I want to get to know him, maybe over Christmas. She’s been making noises about wanting to learn how to sail, and…”

“Two birds, one stone?”


“Over Christmas?”


“You probably want to head south. I’m thinking Tahiti, Moorea, someplace like that.”

“So, Mr. Taggart,” Sorensen said, grinning as the contours of a plan began taking shape in his mind, “got any plans this Christmas?”

Harlowton, Montana                                       December 1990

Ten Hueys roared past, seemingly inches over the roof of the main house, and Dub grabbed his 30-30 again and ran for the door, really mad now. William Junior pushed himself back from the dinner table and followed his dad out the door, hoping this one wouldn’t be as bad as the last two.

The wind was howling and the snow was already too deep for their Honda trail bikes so they made for the barn, never taking their eyes off the red sphere in the brush beyond the missile silo. The Hueys circled the sphere and door gunners leaned out and opened fire, tracers arcing into the blazing red sphere but with no obvious effect. Just like last time, and the time before that.

“You saddle up Tad; I’ll take Biscuit,” his father said as they jogged into the barn.

A minute later they were riding north towards Mount Baldy, a huge full moon just rising through the trees to the east, and plumes of warm vapor arced out of their horses’ nostrils into the arctic air. A half mile ahead several Hueys settled onto the snow and at least fifty troops jumped out of the helicopters and sprinted for the sphere; even from here their M-16s made a hideously loud roar, and even from here William could see the sphere was completely disinterested in what was now unfolding around the helicopters.

Then in the next instant the sphere disappeared.

Just as several large transport helicopters approached from the northwest.

By the time he and his father approached the scene at least twenty heavily armed airmen had positioned themselves between the Taylors and where, up until a few minutes ago, a huge Minuteman missile silo had been. 

Now there was nothing to be seen but a smooth bowl seemingly carved right out of the earth.

And in the blink of an eye four more missiles had simply disappeared. And so had one hundred and twelve 200 megaton nuclear warheads.

© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkü all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.

Forgotten Songs From An Imaginary Life, Chapter 12.3

A Housee no windowsAnd so…down the rabbit hole we go…deeper and deeper…

[And So I Know, Stone Temple Pilots]

Part III: The House With No Windows

Chapter 12.3  

Los Angeles, California           14 September 1996 

Debra Sorensen was a typical freshman at The University of Southern California; she had been assigned to a four bedroom “apartment” in Webb Tower so she had, in effect, seven roommates and, like almost every other freshman at USC she had not declared a major area of study – at least not yet. She knew she would end up in the film school – because, like duh – yet she really had no special interest in either film or even movie making in general. Her other roommates were, like almost everyone else at ‘SC, planning on going pre-med or pre-law, or both – but that was only because the film school was considered almost impossible to get into – unless you knew “somebody” that was “like really-really big.” So of course as soon as people in Webb found out who Deb’s father was, she became very popular among the more hyper-ambitious sorts – at one of the most hyper-ambitious colleges in one of the most hyper-ambitious cities and yada-yada-yada, well all know how that song sounds, don’t we…?

Which was how she came to be walking over to the Coliseum late that Saturday morning. She’d never expressed any interest in football and had, in fact, never even watched a football game on television, not even the Super Bowl, so she really didn’t know what to expect. One thing had struck her that morning, however: boys were on everyone’s mind. And she finally realized that all the girls names were either Taylor or Jennifer and that all the guys were named Grant. It was, like, really weird – in a bitchin’ kind of way.

The Trojans (could that really be true?) were playing the Ducks…and she, like, really had no idea what the hell any of that meant. “Do ducks really use Trojans?” she asked one of her roommates. 

“What are you talking about?” Taylor Krumnow replied.

“Well? Ducks and rubbers, right? Isn’t this a contest to see who can put on rubbers the fastest?”

“It’s the Oregon Ducks, Deb. And we’re the USC Trojans. Those are like football teams, okay?”

Debra laughed at Taylor and flashed her a quick wink. “Got it.”

“Ooh, you! You really like pulling legs, don’t you?”

“Only yours,” Deb fired back. “Any boys going to meet us there?”

“Yeah, Grant – from across the hall.”

“Which one? Grant d’brunette, or Grant d’blonde…?” Deb said, grinning.

“Grant d’one with the cute ass!” Taylor Pickford said as she bounced along beside them.

“What is it with you and asses?” Krumnow snarked. “You got an ass fetish or something?”

“Don’t you?” Pickford barked, sticking out her tongue and swirling it around.

“Ooh, that’s just gross,” Krumnow sighed. 

Deb shook her head. She’d read about stuff like this of course, but in truth it was all still a mystery. Boys didn’t stick around her for very long, at least not once they’d spent a little time with her. At least that had been true so far.

Like Brent, the boy at Harvard-Westlake that had asked her up to Mammoth. 

He’d wanted sex, of that much she was sure, but he was all “I-Me-Mine” when he wasn’t trying to feel her up, nonstop talk about himself and after a day around him she grew tired of his lame one trick pony. She’d spent the rest of that trip with his father – if only because the old guy seemed somewhat more safe. And besides, he was a pretty good ski instructor.

She’d tried to date after that, had gone to a few dances on campus, but the whole sex type thing was still mystifying. Sex was procreation, right? But did all these boys want to get married and settle down and have a bunch of kids? No, not in the least. Sex was some kind of hedonistic power trip for them, more about weak-egos trying to assert control and dominate because they’d been genetically programmed to be that way. But…the whole thing was…shallow, animalistic, but because that seemed to be just about all these kids had on their mind they were excruciatingly boring to be around.

The had tickets on the home side of the field and almost right behind the players benches and Taylor (Pickford) was all giggles now as she had a front row seat overlooking some of the finest ass on campus. Taylor (Krumnow) was explaining the basics of the game when Grant Cute Ass joined them, and he helped fill in some of the blanks while also explaining that he too had played football in high school but that he had grown bored with the whole thing. And all this while simultaneously trying to grope both Taylors.

The game wasn’t even close. ‘SC wiped the stadium floors with the Ducks but there was a lot of screaming and yelling and beer was flowing in cheerful overabundance and even Debra seemed to get into the spirit of the whole thing – when she noticed this huge lump of muscle on the sidelines. And he was looking at her.

More than once, too.

Number 56. The name Taylor embroidered above the numbers on the back of his jersey.

And when the game was over, before he disappeared with the rest of his teammates, he came over to where she was seated and motioned her to come down to the rail.

“Hi,” he said. “My name is William. William Taylor. You want to go grab a bite?”

“Sure,” Debra said. 

“You in Webb?”

“Yes. Seven-A.”

“Would you mind telling me your name?”

“Deb. Debra.”

“Okay, Deb. I’ll be by in about an hour and a half. Is that okay?”

She’d nodded but she wasn’t aware of anything else but his eyes, even as he joined his teammates jogging off the field.

“Nice ass,” both Taylors said as they watched the hulking jock jogging off the field.

“Yeah,” Grant said admiringly.

Beverly Hills, California                                    11 September 1992

Amanda Patterson came out of it first. Like smoke in her eyes, heavy and full of grit, she rubbed her face with her fingertips then she rubbed her eyes, trying to wipe away the burn. She swallowed hard and shook her eyes open and recoiled in horror when she realized she was hovering in deep space. No spacesuit, nothing to push against and nowhere to turn. She thought she was dead and reached for her wrist and tried to feel a pulse but she felt nothing and that’s when the panic hit.

Then, slowly, reason came back.

‘I’m pretty sure dead people don’t panic,’ she thought, but then she thought again. ‘Maybe when you’re dying you panic,’ she sighed, ‘like maybe when you realize you’ve taken your last breath…’

Then she remembered the orb in Debra’s room. And then Ted saying something about his wife. 

‘But his wife is dead,’ she recalled, ‘so how could that be…?’

And within seconds she was back in the bedroom, or at least a bedroom, and the orb was still hanging there, the wide-eyed crystalline figure still entombed within, the figure inside womblike – like a fetal embrace of sustenance. Then Ted was there beside her, and then Tilly too, while the orb seemed to shimmer – then dissolve. And all that was left was the creature within.

Still hovering above the bed.

Ted fell to his knees, Tilly dropped to console her son.

The creature seemed to unfurl and drift to the floor, her eyes never once leaving Patterson’s as she settled on the floor.

Patterson looked up at the creature and endless fear filled her mind, blocking everything else from consciousness. She – it? – had to be ten feet tall, maybe more, and she was covered in feathers. White feathers. With a pinkish amber tinge, and the creature’s eyes were bright amber flecked with deep cobalt islands, the whites of the eyes a pale Robin’s egg blue. She continued staring at it, cataloguing everything she could: no external genitalia, no mammaries, long boney phalanges, eyes and mouth almost human in form…

“Dear God!” she screamed – as the creature’s wings extended the breadth of the room.

And for some reason the creature seemed to enjoy watching this reaction.

“Do you have a name?” Patterson asked, still unable to take her eyes off the unfolding wings.

“Yes, of course.”

“My name is…” Patterson began to say…

“I know your name, Amanda Patterson,” the creature said. “You may call me…Katharine…if you like.”

Ted stood when he heard that, he stood and then he faced the creature. “Kat?” he whispered.

And the creature nodded her head slowly. “Yes, Ted.”

“It’s you?”

Again the creature’s head nodded gently. “I think so, yes.”

“But…what happened?” he asked, his eyes filling with tears.

“I can’t stay here now, but I need to tell you something, and you need to listen. All of you. Don’t interfere, Ted. With Debra. Do not interfere with what happens.”

“What?” Ted cried. “Interfere – with what?”

But the creature just shook her head – before the orb reappeared. Before she furled herself away and disappeared, leaving Ted feeling even more bereft than he ever had before.

“She’s not gone,” he whispered over and over – until they heard Deb in the bathroom, moaning.

Patterson made it to the shower first and she opened the shower door then jumped back in horror. The girl was covered with thick, hot blood – yet none of it was her own – but Ted pushed his way in and picked up his little girl and turned on the water. He rinsed her off and shampooed her hair and rinsed and rinsed her until the water ran clear again, then the physicians helped dry her and got her to bed.

And the most peculiar thing, Patterson thought, was that Deb never once appeared to wake up. Not once.

Yet their clothes were covered in the blood, so there was no doubt in Patterson’s mind that something had happened up there in that room. It wasn’t some kind of bizarre hallucination, or even something like a shared dream. No, something had happened up there, and the blood on her blouse was proof enough of that. She’d get it to the lab and then they’d know for sure…

Yet it was Tilly who spoke first. Once they were back in the living room and once they had gathered their wits about them.

“Ted?” she asked. “Do you have any idea what she meant?”

“No, Mom. Nothing.”

“Well,’ Patterson sighed, “she said don’t interfere. She could have meant right then, tonight, or she could have meant to tell us not to interfere with something in the future.”

“Or both,” Tilly said, slumping over in her chair, head in hand. “Exasperating. That was – this is – exasperating.”

Patterson shook her head. “I was thinking for a moment that I was terrified but then I felt something like peace, like I was supposed to be there watching this happen.”

“No me,” Ted said. “I think I just about crapped my pants when I saw it was Kat up there.”

“How long ago did she pass?” Patterson asked.

“Almost seven years ago. Cancer.”

Patterson shook her head. “This is almost like one of those bad movies. You know, oh what was it called…?”

“The Exorcist?” Tilly said.

Patterson nodded. “Yup, but that…”

“But that wasn’t some kind of demon up there, Doctor. That was my wife.”

“I wonder…” Patterson whispered. “Why your wife, Mr. Sorensen. Why not a grandparent, or even…”

“Because Kat was Deb’s mother. That has to be the link.”

“But what’s so special about your daughter?”

Ted leaned back and sighed. “She always has been. Since the day she was born.”

Tilly leaned over and shook her head. “Of course,” she sighed. “Since the day she was born. Could it be that she, our Debra, is part of some kind of experiment?”

Ted recoiled from the idea. “What?” he cried. “What do you mean?”

“Ted, think about it. ‘Don’t interfere?’ What else could she have meant?”

Patterson nodded. “Yes, that makes sense. Don’t interfere or you might screw up the results.”

Ted leaned back in his chair as icy fingers grabbed his chest. “Do you have any idea what you’re saying? The implications…”

“The implications are troubling,” Patterson said, nodding at Tilly, “no matter what. As long as we assume what we experienced wasn’t some kind of shared hallucination…”

“How could that be?” Ted replied. “I mean…really…how?”

Patterson closed her eyes for a moment and that triggered a reaction: “When I reacted to the orb I almost remember passing out…”

“I do too,” Tilly added.

“I thought I was in space,” Ted whispered as he recalled the feeling of being suspended, almost like a fly in amber. “I thought I saw stars, at least for a moment.”

Patterson shook her head, suddenly on the verge of tears. “Do you know what this means?” she sighed.

Ted nodded. “Paradigm shift. Bad day to be an evangelical, I guess.”

“Ted?” he mother asked. “Did you say that Debra has no memory of these events?”

He nodded again. “That’s right. None.”

“Regressive hypnosis?” Patterson said, looking at Tilly.

“And that would surely qualify as interference, right?” she replied.

“Our hands are tied,” Ted said.

“So maybe that’s why this Katharine-avatar appeared,” Tilly added, looking at her son. “They knew you’d be more likely to respect this sort of restriction if it came from her.”

“That makes sense,” he agreed. “So, the question is…do we accept this restriction? Or do we…?”

Patterson burst out laughing: “Are you serious? We could not simply screw up someone’s science project, Ted. We might seriously fuck up your daughter in the process. You really want to risk that?”

“So…we’re back to square one?” he summarized. “Hands tied, we don’t interfere? Is that about where we stand?”

“And we don’t mention this to anyone,” Tilly added. “Ever.”

Patterson shook her head. “No one would believe us, so really, why bother?”

© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkü all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.

[Windmills, Toad The Wet Sprocket]