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July 31, 2018

31. Ora Pro Nobis, pt. III

All things come to men who know.
—John Steinbeck

* * *

Adam walked through a bustling marketplace but needed some solace from the crowded busyness. He cut through a quiet and empty lane to bypass the foot traffic and escape this derelict and raucous port village and its associations. He thoughtlessly walked further beyond the crowds and towards the town edge. Busy shop tents turned into vacant bodegas and tented night shelters for the less fortunate.

“Young man,” he heard from behind. The sympathetic voice was vaguely familiar and he turned around with a clean cocktail of optimism and confusion. A woman stood in the shadows, cloaked and anonymous yet inconspicuous. No one was around to affirm who he saw.

“I believe you seek this,” she held a beautiful and massive book out with one hand. It’s cloth binding and gold foil was instantly familiar but strangely out of place. As he took hold of the tome it’s weight sunk his hands—how had she held it so lightly? Adamcould only look stunned, speechless.

“Who are you?” he asked. He was met with a blank stare from the woman. His heart raced. He cautiously opened its pages to affirm it was the same book from his dream. (Was that a dream?) As he did the words became clear, beautiful, and terrifying. The words leapt from all pages, all at once, and swirled densely just above the opened book. Adam jumped back a pace. The woman looked on stoically, statuesque. Thousands of words created a cloud, almost of dust or smoke. The inky cloud twisted and shot forward, directly into Adam’s gaped mouth. He dropped the book and grabbed helplessly at his mouth and throat, choking on the words. The moment shocked his senses and his ears buzzed. The taste was surprisingly sweet as the smoke thoroughly slipped down his throat. After a split second he realized he was no longer suffocating. Heaving, he could breath easily. His eyes darted as he regained himself. The woman was nowhere. The book lay open on the cobblestone, completely void of imprint.

He kept waiting for a sickness or stomach pains. Whatever had happened was inside him. Surely he would vomit or it would move his bowels soon. What was anxiety rippling his insides and what was the book inside of him traveling his intestines? He glanced to see the woman had stepped away and vanished down an alley in his tornado, only her cloak giving her away.
No one had been around to see the episode—or cared enough to take notice from wherever they were. Indeed, he was in an alley beyond the marketplace, beyond the bustle. Adam stood dumbfounded, alone. The sun was lowering in the late afternoon. Adam was truly addled and hazy. He continued to walk. Questions, self doubt, and insecurity strangled his thoughts. His steps led him inland, beyond the port village by several miles. The salt smell of the sea was behind him. Further, the sun sank deeper in the sky, casting gnarled shadows across the grass and tress. Ochre tinted the light. As he entered a thicket of woods at a tree line the sun backed away, unable to entirely enter with him. He stepped deep into the woods as his mind finally began to clear and reopen. He would build a small fire and perhaps spend a night here and regain himself.

But here he heard a boisterous laugh. He also caught light of a flickering fire, just deeper into the woods. He steeled himself for any danger but realized he had few options other than turn back. So on he went to introduce himself to whatever was here. He broke through some of branches, purposefully breaking twigs and making himself known through innocence and non-violence.

“Hey there stranger, come near the fire. Who are you and what brings you this deep into the wilderness of nowhere?”

Adam caught himself as his ears pricked at the tone and stock of the voice, “Marin?”

“Adam! Well then! Got yourself out of that dingy public bar and looking rested. Feeling better, I hope?”

“Yes, yes, thank you. Your kindness was powerful and I owe you in time.”

“Just carrying around a book, are you? Only one item and its a massive book. What is it?” Marin asked.

“Ah, nothing. Just a memory. I think,” he hesitated and changed the subject. “Are you traveling or… you live in the woods?”

Caspar chimed in, “Aye, we live out here. Its cheaper than anywhere else and we’re closer to Mother Nature herself.”

It occurred to Adam their condition of vagrancy had been no curb for their openhanded abundance. Such selflessness.

“Well. You’re here and its late. Stay the night. We’ve got some spare spirits to share,” Caspar added.

Their friendship was infantile but Adam relished the camaraderie and generosity of Marin and Caspar.