SURREAL ADVENTURES FROM THE SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Supernatural business (I)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Swiss philosopher of the Enlightenment whose political theories deeply influenced the French Revolution, asserted in his work “The social contract”: “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains".

According to the definition of freedom, men are free when they have the opportunity to design their own destiny. But just as Monsieur Rousseau brilliantly pointed out, you shouldn’t be as naïve as to believe blindly in the implications of this statement: The invisible chains of modern slavery come in many different shapes: civil society, laws, taxes, responsibilities and a long etcetera. Suffice it to say that the worst of them are beyond our control - supernatural beings and their bizarre plans, among others-.

I sincerely recommend you lead a discreet existance and remain as unnoticed as possible. Otherwise, supernatural creatures will easily get infatuated by your nicest personal features, start considering you’re an irresistible plaything, frolic with you and create all kinds of havoc, becoming a real pain in the neck.

They’re lunatic, selfish, eccentric and very unreasonable. Their strange cranks and erratic habits often make them throw fits at young humans just because they’re so noobs and so alive -as if they had wasted their own lives over the years and missed their lost liveliness-. Their hundred-year-old mind doesn’t work exactly like a human mind. They think and act strangely. Such accumulated experience allows them a certain inability to seek for a better future; so they just have lust for the present and a heavy burden to bear: that gloomy past they just can’t get rid of.

I can neither remember when supernaturals first entered my life nor when exactly I started attracting them like a magnet.

To be a toy in the hands of fate and its minions didn’t match at all my idea of freedom. So when Jimmy Moon opened the door to his car and said I was free to go, I simply didn’t believe him. I knew he would be back to ensnare me again. He allowed me a few seconds of privacy to give Ed his scary message. But as soon as I had done this, the phone call was interrupted and Jimmy’s blurred silhouette appeared on the horizon.

- Wrap you up in this robe –he said, throwing to me a tattered piece of cloth-
- Am I supposed to wear these black rags? –I asked, hastily-
- Yes, you are. You’ve got class and style, but the truth is you look like a cheap hooker now.

I let out an audible gasp of anger. What a blatant fit of honesty. Actually, I looked horrible. My hair was a mess. I was barefoot. The hem of my miniskirt was so torn that it could have been a belt. My mascara had run in black tears down my face and my lipstick smudged. So no sooner said than done: I decided to put that black robe on. I neither wanted to look like a sloppy slut nor to argue with my dark visitor.

Jimmy Moon and I walked quietly through the frozen fields for an hour, until we saw a small fairytale-looking house that seemed to be taken from Hansel and Gretel’s story. He dug a small key out of his pocket, unlocked the door and told me to follow him inside.

The walls were painted light yellow. There was a warm fireplace with a blazing fire; a red rocking chair and a wooden table right in the middle of the room with a basket full of shiny red apples on it. There was also a beautiful kitchenette and a small bed covered with a colourful patchwork blanket. It was warm and cosy. It was a nice room with lots of light. I bent over to smell a beautiful bunch of red and yellow Japanese daisies placed in a pot on the mantlepiece.

- I thought you’d like the flowers –he said, looking down-.
- Oh thanks. If not for the fact that I’m being held against my will… that would have been so nice and thoughtful.
- You’ll be okay here, Leni.
- I’ll be a bird in a gilded cage, Jimmy.
- Whatever. You will be confined here as a hostage until Ed keeps his word.
- Wait a second. May I ask what your deal was? I think I’m entitled to know. It looks like I’m the bargaining chip in this story.

He sighed and nodded.

- Yes, you may ask. Two hundred years ago, Ed Davies was a well-known physician and scientist in Burdishland. People from all over the world visited him to cure their illnesses… and he healed them. He still has this heavenly gift. Over the years he became wealthy and powerful and he thought about opening his own sanatorium. He had the money, the premises, the employees and the expertise. He had everything necessary to start his business… but the Royal Permit. Still nowadays it’s necessary to pay this licence fee to carry out professional activities in Burdishland. Those who don’t… are likely to pay a high penalty to the Burdish Crown if they get caught, and may even go to jail. So Ed opened his sanatorium… but he forgot to ask for the bloody Royal Permit. Five years later nobody had noticed that unforgivable oversight yet, but I found out by accident.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. So Ed the editor was not exactly Ed the editor, but Dr. Ed? How come I had never heard of this??? After a short pause, Jimmy Moon continued talking.

- I was the Attorney General in those days and it was my duty to fight against illegality.
- Come on. Illegality? That was not the case! Everybody knows that the Kingdom of Burdishland has always had ridiculously absurd bureaucracy mechanisms. Even more in ‘those’ days. He didn’t act out of malice!
- I know he did it by accident! But even though, Leni: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. As a lawyer, you should know that old aphorism. It’s a general principle of law.

I nodded.

- I do know that principle!
- So… every man for himself. He could have been arrested and imprisoned if he got caught. Nevertheless, I called him to my office. I warned him about his tricky situation and offered an arrangement suitable to his interests: I would produce a fake permit dated five years back, legalize it with the Royal seal -of which I was the legal depositary- and file it in the Royal bundle so that nobody would notice it had been missing during all that time. In return, Ed would pay me the amount equivalent to the first five years of the sanatorium’s income in five comfortable instalments.
–he said-
- We call it ‘a bribe’ here in Sandwich, Jimmy. And I bet in Burdishland they do as well –I spat at him-
- I prefer to call it ‘a gentlemen’s agreement’, Leni. The essence of such deal is that it relies upon the honor of the parties for its fulfilment.
- And you said your duty was… to fight against illegality?
- Oh, we had related interests
–he smirked-. I had something he needed: the permit. And he had something I needed: huge amounts of money. So I scratched his back and he scratched mine.

I realised how silly it was to discuss contemporary legal or ethical theories with someone who had been the Burdish Attorney General sometime in the 18th century, so decided to return to the conversation topic: the deal.

- So it seems that Ed didn’t scratch much your back, did he? –I asked-
- That’s right. I gave him a long deadline. At the beginning, he observed the terms of our agreement and the payment schedule, but he failed to pay the last two instalments by due date. He thought he could escape and relocate to Sandwich: the perfect hideaway where it would be very unlikely to be found. He did do well and became the owner of all the hospitals in the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands through some related companies. Kynkybooks is a very profitable business, but only a small source of income for Ed compared to his real activity. Did you know that, Leni?
- No. I didn’t.
- I’m not surprised. Just a few selected plutocrats know.

If Karl Marx had just heard Jimmy’s sarcastic tone of voice when he pronounced the word ‘plutocrats’, he would have joined him, his left fist up, screaming with rage the final line of his Communist Manifesto: ‘WORKERS OF ALL LANDS, UNITE!

But there was more.

- Don’t take it personal. I’m not a bad guy, but he has to face his difficulties in order to transcend them. He must pay me.
–he said clearly-. ‘Cause if he doesn’t… everything will slowly fade away, including you –he said, giving me an evil grin and pointing at me-. The daisies will wither; the apples will go bad; the fireplace will be put out… and little by little, you will start getting dark.




"To be free" (Emiliana Torrini) and the beautiful art of Natalie Shau

31 comments:

tom909 said...

Leni, I am enjoying the story which is urprising really, because I am usually pretty poor at straying beyond my ideas of reality. But the issue of freedom is what really interests me. I decided freedom doesn't exist out there in this world. We might get tiny tastes of it when circumstances go our way. If it exists anywhere, it is within our own selves, almost within our state of mind. Like you say, many of the things that prevent us from feeling free are beyond our control - I have never found fighting against destiny a profitable approach.

tom909 said...

sorry but I made a 'urprising' typo there.

Grass said...

I agree with Tom, this entry has added an interesting twist to "ED the Editor" story. You are quite right too about saying the less we deal with supernaturals, the better.. they're one tricky bunch of entities.

Hmm, so Ed has got a dark secret. I wonder why he didn't bother telling you this small detail about him? I think you had mentioned before that he was a doctor (or i'm mistaken)...

As for your new acquaintance, it's really unfair that he used you as his medium for revenge. I guess he wasn't "man" enough to just show up in front of Ed and threaten him about his businesses' downfall should he fail to pay his overdue debt. Tsk tsk... I guess you are his best weapon in dealing with Ed.. tsk tsk.. poor you..


Can't wait for the next part of this entry ;)

Fernando said...

LeTi,

I`m enjoying this storie so much...

Let me say I agree with Mr Moon. I believe Ed must fulfills his agreement (which is not fair but he signed it...)with Mr Moon....

In the other side I reject Jimmy´s methods.

Take care.

Leni Qinan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
max said...

Hi Leni,

I agree with Tom also: freedom does not exist. I wouldn't say the alternative is slavery, but to some extent, men are never free.

Jimmy Moon looks like a big-head to me. Ed the editor, or the doctor -or both- has to fulfill his agreements. Maybe he has a reason for not having done so.

I think Jimmy is entitled to claim the urgent payment of the debt, but I'm afraid he has gone too far with the consequences. Obviously he doesn't know the meaning of the word NEGOTIATION.

Take care, honey. I can't wait to read the next chapter.

Dick said...

Leni, now I'm beginning to understand your blog, it's fantastic. But it will take years for me to read it all. lol.
I guess we are never free in this world. Freedom is just another word for "nothing left to lose" JJ

INNER VOICES said...

dark and exciting indeed!!

Fernando said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fernando said...

If we all agree about this: slavery exists.Ok? Then this is the evidence: Freedom exists. If it wasn´t so we could not be slaves.

We believe there is a heaven because we know hell...

The fool (down the hill)

Crabtree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Solo pasaba a saludar...
besos=)

Pia

Leni Qinan said...

Sorry guys, but this week it’s taking me a bit longer to answer your comments. I’ve been really busy lately at work and I couldn’t have a moment to sit and answer you here or visit your blogs –those who have-. I promise to do it during the weekend. Thanks a lot for commenting here. Please find your answers below. ;)

Hugs.

Leni Qinan said...

I agree with you, Tom: freedom does not exist. As soon as we’re born, we start getting rules –some of them not very rational, I think- to end up standing jobs we don’t like, paying taxes, not really doing what we want to do-. There are so many factors restricting our freedom that I also came to the conclusion that this concept does not exist. We are able to control some of them, but some others escape our control.

But destiny… I don’t think that one exists either. (I don’t believe in determinism). I prefer to think we can change many situations, reach our goals and fulfill our wishes if we struggle hard. Fighting is my thing. ;)

PS.- No worries about typos. I’m good at languages, hahahah.

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Grass!

Thanks, I see there are a few of you interested in freedom and the philosophic approach to this concept. (Thomas Hobbes and John Locke –not the guy who wears commando and runs through the forest in ‘Lost’, but the British philosopher, lol- have also interesting views about freedom).

If I were you, I would stay far from supernaturals, sis. You’re sweet and clever and they would just adore you. So don’t even think of them if you want to avoid trouble.

Ed has not only a dark secret, but a very dark and sad past (I told a bit of that in my posts of august). But he is irresistibly drawn to life.

Yes, he was a physician –the old equivalent of a doctor (he was born in the 18th century---- I like mature guys, hahahaha ((no just joking, lol))- and I don’t know why he didn’t tell me about it, but I hope there’s a good reason (more soon, lol).

Jimmy Moon fits perfectly in the group of the gloomy supernaturals.

Some people like him don’t mind using extreme methods. That’s unfair, of course, but –as Fernando said below- one has to fulfill his/her deals and commitments.

Next instalment is on its way!

Take care and don’t forget the vitamins, sis!

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Ferni,

I’m glad that you like the story! Your comment summarizes perfectly this story. I presume you’re a man who keeps his promises. ;)

(still waiting for that supermegahyper fresh and tasty turbot! –I had to look up for the word in the dictionary, hahaha-).

Take care!

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Maxi,

I totally agree with you. When we’re born we start getting our chains. You’re right, maybe ‘slavery’ was a too big word, but some people still have a hard time for losing their freedom nowadays.

So. You also think Jimmy Moon is the bad guy and Ed is the good guy, lol. I don’t think Jimmy would be up to start negotiating a debt reduction with Ed, hahaha.

Soon you will be able to read the next chapter, it’s being written against the clock! (this week was awfully busy).

XXX.

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Dick, and welcome to the house of surreal!

Yes, this blog is fictional and fantastic, but hey, it hides many elements of real life and some reflections about controversial concepts. And of course, it’s open for opinion and comment.

Welcome to the club of those who don’t believe in such a thing called freedom! Janis knew it so well too, hahaha.

Take care.

Leni Qinan said...

Hi IV!

Just as dark and blue as that sad blond angel in your pic. ;)
Life has this side too. We’re not free from life’s chains.

;))

Leni Qinan said...

Dear Ferni,

Yes, slavery exists nowadays, sometimes openly admitted –in some poor countries people still are enslaved- or veiled and half hidden (some are slave to their work, others are tied up by their mortgage, and many are trapped by unhappy marriages, loneliness, etc etc).

To not make it too serious, let me tell you also that Brian Ferry was a slave to love and Grace Jones was a slave to the rhythm, just to mention some celebrities, hahaha.

Anyway. I see freedom in the same category as happiness: something precious, fragile and merely ephemeral. Something we uselessly struggle to have all the time.
PS.- Tell me more about that fool down the hill, pls. (You mean ‘The fool on the hill’ (Beatles)? Jesús Quintero (another fool on the hill), or William Blake’s ‘Marriage of heaven and hell’ ?). (*looks puzzled*)

Crabtree said...

He hagut de cometre un error ! Perdó :(

Quand l'hiver a pris sa besace , tout s'endort et tout se glace
Quand les jours soudain rapetissent et que les fantômes nous envahissent
Sait-il au fond de sa mémoire ,que c'est du cœur de la nuit noire
Dans la solitude des allées ,que l'on peut voir l'aube se lever

Roberto said...

¿21 dreams? ¿Whith no sex? Brilliant, no doubt.

Hellow again Leni (ks & ks & other ks). I have retourned just now from...Cannes, but... no hollidays at all...what a shame.

Beautifull story but no dangerous enough for me :-)

What other readers think about it?

(do not be ungry with me, Leni, you know I fell happy here, ;-), with you)

Leni Qinan said...

Hola Pía! Me alegro de verte de nuevo por aquí.

Un beso fuerte,

Leni Qinan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leni Qinan said...

This is for those who don't speak Spanish:

You probably feel curious about Pía and me, but she just waved hello and I waved back. ;))

sage said...

Interesting Kafkaseque-like twists, I've only read a few of these posts--and I'm free to go back and read to catch up

sage said...

Interesting Kafkaseque-like twists, I've only read a few of these posts--and I'm free to go back and read to catch up

Leni Qinan said...

Bonjour Crabtree,

Un erreur? Vous? C’est impossible!
Merci pour ces jolis mots de Jean Ferrat. C’est le sentiment du noir, le froid dans l’âme, ainsi que la peur.

J’éspère que l’aube arrivera bientot…

Bisous.

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Roberto,

I have now some more dreams now. The situation does not allow any sex, I think, -and my regular partner is not around-. But there will be more sex in the future, no worries (I hope there is, for my own good, lol). The story will become more dangerous, that’s for sure. Come back and you’ll confirm that.

I hope you did fine in Cannes –I’ve heard it’s beautiful. My dear friend Crabtree probably knows. Big Cheese went there some years ago to the Festival and he really liked it-.

Btw, what makes you think I would be angry with you, silly dude? No way! I’m very happy to see you again!

Kss + more kss.

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Sage!

You really flatter me with the Kafka analogy. Coming from you it’s an honour and I appreciate it a lot.

Feel free to read back, you’re always welcome.

Take care.

Leni Qinan said...

For those who dont speak French:

Crabtree sent some beautiful words of the song 'Le grillon' (The cricket) of Jean Ferrat.

It talks about a slight hope symbolised by a cricket, in the dark of a winter garden.

(My head is still too thick to do a good translation. Sorry, my dear Crabtree, but I've had a hectic week and I still havent recovered).