ALCHEMY: A SERIALIZED STORY BY GEORGE KAPLAN – PART FIVE – THE ABBY SINGER

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A serialized story by, George Kaplan

When I saw her home it was like being hit by a whirlwind of sensations. The house was quite big but did not possess the crazily ostentatious “bigness” of some houses in California; it looked more like a home than a castle, and the design was tasteful rather than straining gaudily to impress with narcissistic hideousness.

.
None of this made any impression on me, I was too busy feeling as if a tornado had plucked me from a monochrome Los Angeles and had sent me tumbling into a Technicolor Oz version. Sure, if you know LA, parts of it are like Oz anyway but this was different. Just seeing that house filled me with an intense, lurching variant of the Feeling; it was as if I were witnessing two versions of reality, one laid over the other. I guess that as you read this you are thinking that you finally have confirmation that I’ve gone bughouse but everything I’m telling you is true, and believe me I would have been having those thoughts myself if the reality of these events wasn’t so undeniable.

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I must have stood looking at Grace Mark’s home for a minute or so, the Vertigo-like not-deja vu surging through me, before I came to my senses and walked to the door. Signals of mixed familiarity/ unfamiliarity seemed to pulse around me; the very air seemed to move in unison with the Feeling, like a heartbeat or in an almost sexual rhythm. Trust me, it is not easy even walking when experiencing something like that. When I finally made it to the door (and, yes, I’m leaving out details of security and location, for obvious reasons. Not least because the mundane doesn’t really fit in this weird point of the narrative) and made to press the doorbell Grace Mark’s voice sang out from inside, “DAY-VID, what took you so long! I’m upstairs, come on up!” I didn’t think to question how she knew where I was, partly because the power of thought had momentarily departed me and partly because I was jittering like I’d been mainlining caffeine.
.

Entering the doorway was like passing through an airlock, when I arrived in the house proper it was if the atmosphere had changed; more than that, it was as if the Feeling that I’d had outside, of there being two worlds one atop the other, was but the palest intimation of this, that there was a third Truer world underneath everything. An Oz beneath Oz. And I was in it. And not. And Both. You might say it was confusing.

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My knowledge of interior design is faint but I can say that the decor was expensive but unfussy and restrained, stylish yet comfortable. Not that I could really pay much attention. A staircase lay directly ahead of me, I didn’t have much time to take anything else in, just a general sense of style with comfort. I’d never been there before but the sensation of almost-familiarity was as palpably real as air. I felt myself propelled up the stairs, even as a childlike inner voice was urging me to “Run away! Run Away!” Not that I could blame that on any mysterious Feeling, more on a wish for self-preservation, and a compulsion to retreat from a situation that left me feeling like a confused adolescent. Still, I forged on. Although it felt less like I was merely climbing the stairs in a beautiful house and more like I was scaling a treacherous mountain-face sans equipment as a fierce wind whipped up around me. Melodramatic? Maybe. All I can say is that, ridiculous, as it seems, that’s how it felt. After what seemed like hours – but was, of course, seconds – I made it to the landing and peered about like a particularly cautious rabbit; it was then I was truly caught in the headlights, “David-dear, I’m in the bedroom, third door on the left.” The bedroom? This was some cruel god’s best joke yet! Try to imagine feeling as if you were floating and leaden simultaneously, then multiply that sensation, add in a flood of not-quite-deja vu and not-really-vertigo, and that’s how I felt. If you can imagine it.

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I paused at the threshold like a condemned man before the gallows, then, realizing that I could hardly linger outside without appearing pretty weird, I walked through…

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My first impression was of Whiteness. And Light. A great deal of whiteness and light, but soft and diffuse so it did not hurt the eye. That being said, on first emerging into the room it took my vision a moment or two to adjust but I was too distracted by the Feeling surging through me like I’d just been hooked up to the mains. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that the place in the house where I’d be most heavily affected would be the bedroom. I felt as if I was viewing the world at a Dutch tilt. The whole room seemed familiarly unfamiliar, unfamiliarly familiar: the light shining through the large windows; the furnishings; the fans turning lazily overhead; the painting on the wall (a Chagall, I thought, and not a repro); the wardrobe; the bedside cabinet; even…the bed. It all chimed with something deep within me. I recognized everything, at the same time as I didn’t, not precisely. It was as if I were teetering on the brink of discovering a great mystery. The feeling rushed through me, so intense this time, so over-powering that I felt strangely at peace; the sensation so thoroughly flooded through me that it seemed impossible to do anything but accept it, and in that acceptance was something almost erotic, or, more accurately, ecstatic.

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Even as I allowed the Feeling to inhabit me, I realized that the merest second had passed and something was missing from the room: Grace Mark herself. I gazed about me, conscious that I must have looked like a lost child searching for his mother (perhaps a dubious comparison under the circumstances). Then I noticed that at the far side of the room was another door, just as I noticed this Grace Mark’s voice hailed me – slightly muffled -from within; “David, I won’t be a minute. Sit on the bed.” The Bed!

Just when I thought the situation couldn’t get any more bizarrely uncomfortable for me… I would’ve been happy to stay downstairs, maybe in the kitchen, or, if I had to be in the bedroom I could sit at the dressing table. Yes, Ms. Mark, that’s what I’d do, I’d sit there instead. So, what did I really do? What do you think? I went over and sat on the bed.

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My “acceptance” of the Feeling suddenly didn’t seem so absolute, the room seemed to pitch and yaw as if the bed was not a bed but a clipper, and the floor not a floor but an unruly ocean. Next to the bed was a cabinet, on top of it were various pictures of Grace Mark with her parents, sister, niece, and nephew. There was a particularly lovely one of her with her sister, and her niece as a baby. Suddenly everything changed; the air seemed to shimmer as if in a heat haze, at first I thought my vision had blurred but in seconds I realized that the Feeling appeared to be crescendoing, I blinked and when I next saw the picture it was not the same. The frame was different, silver not wood, yet that wasn’t the strangest thing, no, the photograph had changed. Instead of Grace Mark, sister, and niece, it was a luminously lovely flushed-faced Grace Mark smiling beatifically with a newborn baby in her arms; without knowing how, I knew the child was hers, Grace Mark’s, even though that was impossible, quite apart from pictures not having the ability to transform themselves in front of a person’s eyes I knew Grace Mark had no children. Except, somehow, now she did.

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Remember all those times I said I bet you thought I was crazy? I don’t think I have to be as obvious as to restate that now, do I? But it gets worse. As I stared disbelievingly, the Feeling reached a “crescendo” beyond the “crescendo”, the heat haze effect appeared in my vision again, and the sensation that there were realities placed one atop the other all visible, palimpsest-like, returned.
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My head was swimming, it felt suspended in some strange fluid; my vision was now steady and clear but I was seeing like Ray Milland in X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes. I had seen the seemingly impossible but knew it was not. All of the past weirdness with Grace Mark was nothing as to this, but I KNEW it was connected, and I FELT beyond all
contradiction that the Rosetta stone to all this high bizarrerie was close, almost close enough to touch. I realize how nuts this seems and I wouldn’t normally expect anyone to believe me, except, you must because it’s all true.

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There I sat on Grace Mark’s large, soft-but-firm, distressingly comfortable bed. My mind was trying to deal with the renewed  – and almost-excruciatingly pure – intensity of the Feeling, the “impossible” yet real event I’d experienced, and the sense of revealed numinousness. It was ecstatic, epiphanic… and I was terrified. My head involuntarily sank until my chin was almost grazing my sternum when suddenly, as if from nowhere, an arm moved from behind my back its small elegant hand ran up my belly to my head and lifted my chin; Grace Mark’s achingly beautiful, fine-featured face appeared next to mine; although I was startled I noted her darkly limpid eyes as she moved in closer to me, her perfume was intoxicatingly, intimately familiar; she moved in closer, closer, closer; the mouth I had fantasized about like a love drunk adolescent touched mine, opened, and… She Kissed Me.

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In spite of the incredible, overwhelming shock, I responded; the other impossible event was nothing to this. This. Could. Not. Be. Happening. But It Was. I found myself inhaling her breath. It was sweet. I tasted her mouth. It was a sensation like nothing else I’d ever experienced. This was the platonic Ideal of a kiss: THE Kiss. The Feeling Sang, like the Voice of God. Grace Mark broke the kiss, “David, what’s wrong? You look like we’ve never kissed before!”

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© George Kaplan for Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to George Kaplan for Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 comments

  1. You know, I proofed this short story (tomorrow is the finale) and I can’t tip my hand, so I’ll just congratulate Mr. Kaplan on an elegantly written tale of slipstream sexuality and romance and inquire, “Shall we just have a cigarette on it?” 😉

  2. George Kaplan

    Kaplan forgot to mention how much he likes your use of “The Abby Singer” for the subtitle of this penultimate part, Ms Lester. Not only is it tres witty of you, but it reminds me of how many times I’ve seen the real Mr Singer’s name in titles. Brava!

  3. This story is making me dizzy. I couldn’t agree more with Vickie, it is “an elegantly written tale of slipstream sexuality and romance and inquire.” Some writing is so perfect and satisfying that it makes me fall in love with the author. (I’ve written a post on this phenomena before.) Now, don’t get too embarrassed because unlike you, my words often fail me. That’s the closest I can come to describing the attraction I have for those who write with your kind of brilliance. I fall in love with the words. Then, it’s a short leap to love the orchestrater, the choreographer, the artiste, behind the words.
    Okay, I’m done. Breathe. 😀

    • George Kaplan

      Ohh, Ms Lisa, *you* are making *me* dizzy with such intense and passionate praise! (for some reason I want to paraphrase The Graduate – but I won’t!) I must say the author is very pleased to have you “fall in love” with him 🙂 “…your kind of brilliance…”, Lisa,.you make me blush with pleasure; how am I to respond to such incredible praise?! Lady, I don’t see how you can say words fail you at all, you astonish me with your articulacy and am flabbergasted by the beauty of your words. Wow! Now, *I* have to breathe! Thanks so much for your words, Lovely lady.
      Many Hugs, The Bashful Author

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