ALCHEMY: A SERIALIZED STORY BY GEORGE KAPLAN – PART SIX – THE MARTINI SHOT

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A serialized story by, George Kaplan

I was looking like we had never kissed before? If the kiss itself had been shocking, unexpected, impossible, this was something else again. When she’d kissed me, the feelings of heart-racing surprise and astonished euphoria had blanked everything else from my consciousness, there had been the sensation of impossible sensual completeness and only that, but her question brought my awareness of the Feeling and memories of the other strangeness came flooding back. ”Magically” metamorphosing pictures and an impossible kiss from a beautiful woman who was convinced, apparently, that we had kissed many times before although we had never kissed once? Something told me I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.

.
If I wasn’t in Oz perhaps I was in Wonderland, after all the believing of impossible things seemed to have become a prerequisite, as impossibility had changed into possibility with dizzying speed. A mere moment had elapsed since unfathomable ecstasy had given way to astounded confusion but as I came to my senses, I began to notice things; the Feeling was Everywhere now, within me, without me, yet I felt something new: the rush of sensations that had swept me on felt comprehensible, knowable now. The worlds within worlds feeling, the sense of seeing further, remained but it wasn’t vertigo-like any longer; I seemed to be seeing for the first time, as if my vision had previously been dim. Then I gazed upon the face of the Grace Mark who had so mystifyingly kissed me, and I truly saw her.

.
I saw she was different. She looked almost exactly the same, painfully beautiful, assured, radiant; yet there were differences. She seemed a few pounds heavier, but the real differences were infinitely subtler than that, not on the surface but beyond it. As ridiculous and inexplicable as it may appear, she was and wasn’t Grace Mark, she seemed a Grace whom I’d never met but somehow knew completely. Curiouser and curiouser…

As it happened, I didn’t have to, apparently the concept that I was truly shocked by the concrete reality of our kiss being it seemed alien and unfathomable to her, she merely smiled teasingly breathing, “Oh, love, you did look adorably silly. Sorry to sneak up on you like that, you know I can’t resist doing it!” She leaned over me, put a finger to my lips, and followed that with “Could you wait here a little longer, darling? I just have to complete The Transformation.” With that she returned to the bathroom, closing the door with a muffled click behind her; even in my state of reality-tossed astonishment I couldn’t repress the thought that no “transformation” seemed needed for her, ever. It seems even – perhaps especially – those women who are the most perfectly beautiful within and without cannot fully appreciate the wonder of their being, even when they talk of their insignificant or nonexistent ”flaws” in an oblique or supposedly joking manner. Grace’s little comment, though innocuously caught in my mind because I had been made so aware of her “power” that the notion she could possibly require any “transformation” was not only impossible but laughable.

.

This is how she made me feel: I had the most wonderful, almost uncomfortable, feeling high up in my chest – that also felt outside it beyond the physical, if you’ll forgive my effusions – as if my Heart was to burst with improbable joy. In complement to this was a tingling lower down but also rushing throughout my body, it transcended and made small the erotic and was, instead, a feeling of such pure sensuality and sensuousness that it felt like the personification of languorous ecstasy. It was a sensation both overwhelming and calming, a study in perfectly pleasurable contradiction. If you can imagine that. Those thoughts and feelings flashed through me like lightning. I was in the strangest situation conceivable yet I felt at home.

I sat on the bed indulging myself in the transcendent beauty and strangeness of the situation; I am aware the most people if faced with such incomprehensibility would have struggled more but hadn’t I been through all that? It felt better and more fitting to give in to it all, odd as it might seem it wasn’t harming me; I had seen to many people in life rejecting things because they did not fit into neat little slots, I had observed needless struggles against certain things because they were not conventional, here I had been encountering events of surpassing strangeness and rejecting them out of fear instead of considering that I was receiving a glimpse of something more, of something incredible and that I should try to understand it, to discern some meaning behind it, and, perhaps, even, God forbid, take pleasure from it.

.

I had been guilty in my mundane life of not taking a chance on things, of allowing fear to overwhelm me and prevent me from discovering a far greater happiness than that I had experienced, of cutting myself off from the possibility of a better life, and I had been doing the same when faced with the extraordinary. I was engulfed in a feeling of epiphany, the whole world and my assumptions about reality were shifting and swirling within and without me, but suddenly I knew beyond a doubt that the key was to accept and face this previously disorientating bizarreness, only then would I truly be able to orient myself and find my way. I guess you could say that the key was in this “new” Grace – it was in her kiss, if you’ll allow me to be sentimental. It was as I enjoyed this epiphany that my gaze shifted from the window through which I had been sightlessly looking to the bedroom door, what I saw there was a fresh impossibility: Grace Mark.

.

There was no way that Grace could have emerged from the bathroom without me seeing her and it was fairly obvious that the bathroom could not lead to anywhere else in the house, yet there she was. By this point I was entirely accepting not only of the implausible but of the apparently impossible, after all when you’ve experienced the kinds of things sober that it usually requires taking an entire laboratory of psychotropic drugs to approach a little thing like a physically impossible emergence or seeing someone in two places at once is as nothing.

.
There was Grace Mark standing in the bedroom’s doorway, impeccably dressed, irresistibly beautiful, even though she had to be in the bathroom. However, it made complete sense to me as I recognized this Grace, this Grace Mark, as the Grace Mark I was most familiar with, the Grace Mark who I found it tremendously difficult to think of as simply Grace. She smiled as she looked at me, a sardonic and seductive expression on her alabaster face though there seemed an unfamiliar touch of confusion in that expression too. “Hello, Davide. I’m sorry I took so long in the other room – I had to take a call. Well, what do you think?”

.

She made a sweeping motion to indicate her dress, which seemed similar to but subtly different from the one she had been wearing when I had seen her moments before, “You look, um, lovely.” She amusedly regarded me, then replied, “I look “Um, lovely”, do I? I’d hoped for div-iiiine, but I’ll take that, Mister!” Grace Mark walked over to me and stroked my shoulder and as she looked at me the same slightly confused expression as before reappeared. “Funny, I could have sworn I asked you to wait downstairs but at the same time I recall calling you in here. Curiouser and curiouser. Probably the excitement of meeting all those Hollywood waxworks and studio blandroids tonight,” She winked at me as she said this then beckoned me to rise. “Would you go downstairs and wait for me in the living room, dahling? I’ve a few things to do up here; I shan’t be long.”

.

I answered in the affirmative, all the while feeling as if I were floating untethered in some strange space. Familiar Grace Mark was here in front of me but Other Grace was in the bathroom, and Other Grace had kissed me and acted as if we had a quite different relationship to the one I was used to, a relationship that yet felt familiar and wonderful and right. Worlds were opened up before me and I felt possessed, inhabited, by a sensation of confusing yet wonderful, transcendent, somehow sensual rightness; something incredibly powerful, almost sexual but also far, far beyond it. I felt my cheeks flush and a giddy grin manifest upon my face even though I knew I must look near-crazed, the urge to laugh and even dance suddenly came to me all unbidden. Part of me observed this from outside and was all-but-convinced that I had finally plummeted off the deep end, yet another greater, wiser part of me, a part with which I was barely familiar, knew that this was not so: as bizarre as this all was, it was Real, it was True and I should accept it and go wherever it led me.

.

I walked down the stairs with these thoughts and feelings surging through me. So strong were they that I took little notice of my surroundings, though when I did observe them I was unsurprised to see that they appeared to be continually shifting as if there were infinite versions of the same house all in the same place.

.

When I made it into the living room I was about to let myself fall onto one of Grace’s luxuriously soft and inviting couches when I noticed I was not alone. Another man was stood looking out the picture window out onto the garden, he was appeared to be about my height though he held himself with a nonchalant confidence that I always had to fake, his hair was the same color as mine but slightly longer while his clothes seemed rather more stylish incarnations of my own. He must have realized that somebody had entered the room because he began to turn, I spoke quickly so as not to appear a lurker “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know anyone else was here. Grace never sai-” I stopped abruptly because as the man turned to face me – I recognized him. I recognized him though I had never met him but had, at the same time, never gone a day without his presence…
The man was Me.

He was Me. And He was Not Me. Even as we both stared at each other with expressions for which the word dumbfounded was coined, everything began to fall into place. It didn’t matter that this was an impossibility, it didn’t matter that there was no conventional logical explanation other than that I was experiencing some kind of fugue state or a psychotic break; it was happening so those things were irrelevant. There appeared to be two Grace Marks because there were two Grace Marks. Just as now I apparently faced a second Me because there was, somehow, a second Me.

.

Explanations were in a way beside the point. There were two “Davids” facing each other in a gorgeous home in Southern California, a gorgeous home that seemed to at least one of the two “Davids” to have a myriad incarnations all existing at the same time. (Even if, unlike the two “Davids”, they occupied the exact same space.) That was a concrete if spectacularly unlikely fact. The Feeling was more intense than it had ever been, then, suddenly it… ceased.

.

It was if everything had been building to this moment and once the moment had arrived an absurd revelation occurred, there was no longer any need for the Feeling. I could trace the outline of meaning, even if what that meaning was, precisely, remained partially obscured. There were two Grace Markses and two “Davids”, it was berserk and beautiful at the same time, and both I and the Other David were still looking at each other with the kind of expression one would expect to see on the face of an Amish person if he received a glimpse of the inside of a lap dancing establishment.

.
Then there was a knock at the front door, followed by an impatient electronic buzz. Neither I, nor Other David, had found our voices as yet so it was no surprise that we didn’t leap to respond. A muffled if vaguely familiar voice issued from outside, then that same voice emanated in electronically distorted form from the intercom, “Okay, if you won’t let me in, I’ll let myself in!” The sound of a key in the lock could be heard and after a moment someone stepped into the house, neither of us could see who it was from our vantage points, all we did was wait until the stranger walked into view. When he did, there was a kind of inevitability about who it was, have you guessed yet? If your guess was that it was another me – congratulations, you win the Big Prize…

.
I should, before the end, mention that the first Other David looked like a mysteriously more handsome, more confident (maybe the confidence and the “handsomeness” were linked? Perhaps not the most Earth-sundering of revelations) version of me, and instead of contacts he wore frameless spectacles. This third version was different again, he appeared looser than either of us and he had a neat beard, the big difference though was that he looked older, no, that isn’t accurate enough; he didn’t merely look older, he was older, somewhere around Grace Mark’s age it seemed, like Grace he had a youthfulness about him still, an undimmed glow. He entered the room looked at us both and smiled, appearing not the least perturbed at meeting two men who appeared to be younger versions of himself. “So, I see you’ve met yourself. Both of you,” His smile deepened, there was a non-mocking warmth to it that I was surprised to see on my… on his face.

“Oh, don’t worry, I know all this must be so difficult for both of you – of me. When the Graces come downstairs I guess it’ll get even worse. Briefly!” The Older “Me” looked at Other David and me in turn, still smiling sympathetically. “I can see that this isn’t exactly going to be a Talkfest for awhile! But I have someone who’ll put you both at ease: my wife. She’s been waiting to make her Grand Entrance…” As Older “Me” said this a woman entered the room, I and the other young me let out an embarrassing gasp as we both recognized our older incarnation’s wife.
She was Grace Mark.

So, that is, after all the strangeness, how it began. It is up to you whether you believe it or not. Maybe one day I’ll tell you what happened next. Even if I don’t please heed me now and believe me when I say, and this is no platitude, that no matter how beyond-reach or improbable it appears, Love, profound, deep, and fulfilling, can be found and returned. Nothing is Impossible. Somewhere, some when, Lead really can turn into Gold.

.

© 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.

9 comments

  1. George Kaplan

    The Martini Shot Thank you for that parfait subtitle! I’d also love to convey my gratitude and Supah-Thanks for all the effort you put into the proofing and editing of Alchemy, Ms Vickie, you gave it a true glow, polish, and punch. And may I say I Love the beautiful title page you gave it, too? I’m honored to have my story here at Beguiling Hollywood; that is extremely special to me. No foolin’!
    Hugs, George xox

    • George Kaplan

      Lynne,
      I apologize for the lateness of my reply but I equally sincerely thank you for your most lovely comment. “Beautifully profound…”? It is to blush! Such a blissfully kind thing to say…
      Warm wishes, George

  2. Heather in Arles

    My dear Mr. K, you know that I have had a very hard week and it was even more challenging than we could have foreseen. I want to thank you sincerely for utterly taking me away from my thoughts and worries while reading your gripping and moving tale. Bravo. I absolutely loved it and see that I am not alone. I hope that you will flush it out into the novella or roman that it deserves to be.
    Merci Ms. V for bringing this to light.
    Bisous a vous deux and I hope to return to being a regular visitor at Beguiling very soon,
    H

    • George Kaplan

      Heather, you are simply wonderful for making such.a generous and heart-swelling comment. I am so glad that my story was able to provide some comfort and distraction while you have been experiencing such a trying and stressful time. You are incredibly kind and I can barely tell you how much.I appreciate your generous and affecting words.
      May you soon gain balance and comfort in your life again, I very much look forward to your return.
      Hugs, George

  3. Well, George, I finally finished your story. I’m truly sorry it took so long. I needed to be on vacation with my mind free and clear in order to read it and process it properly.You didn’t disappoint. Yes, it’s an adult fairy tale but it’s also a little bit Twilight Zone- I may even need to re-read it. It caused me to think on a deeper level than I had anticipated. Great twist. Were those splintered pieces of David’s personality? The ones we all have? If so, I can definitely relate. Lots to think about here, my clever and talented friend. Wonderfully written. Now, how do you top this?
    Hugs!!!
    Lisa

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