Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XXII

Nella fantasia io vedo un mondo giusto,
Lì tutti vivono in pace e in onestà.
Io sogno d’anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien’ d’umanità in fondo all’anima.

Nella fantasia io vedo un mondo chiaro,
Lì anche la notte è meno oscura.
Io sogno d’anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano.

Nella fantasia esiste un vento caldo,
Che soffia sulle città, come amico.
Io sogno d’anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien’ d’umanità in fondo all’anima.

-- Nella Fantasia

Five hundred miles to the East, in the city of Fairgate… now renamed CORVINUS (in all capitals), another discussion of marriage was taking place. It had been a year since Alexey had BANNED it. Officials of Worldstate were forbidden to enter into marriage because Corvinus thought that it took away from their focus as officials and enforcers of the new world order. Throughout the wider Worldstate, it had been defined as pretty much anything you wanted. You could marry another of your own gender, or have multiple wives in succession. In government service however family was an unnecessary burden and after a long period of discouraging it with little effect, Corvinus simply banned it.

Younger brother, Corvinus the Prophet did his part. No marriages would be performed for Worldstate officials in the state church. This decree led to a surge in vacations to Israel, a land where the joy of the bride and bridegroom seemed to be rooted in the very fabric of the land. The state in turn restricted travel to Israel. This was a great disappointment, not only to young couples but to history buffs who wanted to see the construction progressing on the new Temple. Indeed, Israel seemed to be one of the last societies with any of the old freedoms intact. To a lesser degree, the Siberian Autonomous Republic held on to some basic freedoms but only for its own small population. It became a carefully monitored corridor for transport but not much else.

As ‘Joe’ went out to encourage the small groups, he found himself more and more asked to perform secret weddings. This is how he came to be called ‘Valentine.’ In 278A.D. a minister of ‘The Way’ had defied a similar edict by the Roman Emperor Claudius the Cruel and was put to death for performing marriages anyway. ‘Valentine’ as ‘Joe’ came to be known, would arrive in a place to minister and often have an eager queue of couples waiting for him. Though he rejoiced in this new office, he secretly wished on more than one occasion that he could simply be the groom!

The work of the Eternal Kingdom, however, left little time for socialization. How ‘Valentine’ missed the walks in the gardens of Big Diomede and the stories of Mrs. Greene and ‘Queen Lucy!’ He reassured himself that it was a noble thing to give this gift to others… but still his heart ached. Hidden in plain sight, he walked across the great bridge across the Tanana River in CORVINUS one day, surrounded by bustling officious souls, but quite alone. He was the only one to notice.

She stood on a railing of the bridge, hidden from casual gazes by the gargantuan light fixture she clung to… watching the icy river flow beneath her. She was a young government official, but she had entered into this life wearing rose colored glasses. Now, after seeing her ‘liberated’ state as nothing more than a dull and endless servitude, she had been cast aside by her last lover, a mid-level Corvinus enforcement chief. Though she wore the close-cropped hair and the genderless garments of a Worldstate official, her heart still stirred within her. Of late she had given up the drugs… she suspected there was another life within her and some maternal instinct drove her to do that.

The new clarity of mind that resulted from her decision was simply more than she was ready for. She could not simply present herself at the state health clinic to have her problem ‘dealt with,’ yet she saw no way to continue. She had found a copy of ‘Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla’ and tried to read it but her Worldstate conditioned mind solidly resisted. It was best, she thought, to end it all. Life was short and meaningless anyway. Surely this was for the best.

Valentine’ resisted the urge to climb up there with her. He was already known on Big Diomede for being ‘the reckless one.’ Staying hidden in plain sight was an art form and ‘Valentine’ was way too careless at it. Official Worldstate policy was that suicide was a noble act as you were stepping out of the way of others who needed the world’s limited resources. Society seemed to have lost the lessons learned in the great farms of the tundra. In the end, ‘Valentine’ was won by the core of his mission, that “Not any should perish!” He quietly climbed up with her.

After what seemed an awkward eternity, the two slipped down into the plodding crowd on the bridge. Most walked head down and if anyone saw them they probably assumed them to be complicit in a lovers’ suicide pact anyway… best for such to go ahead and jump in the river. But no one seemed to notice that they didn’t jump and slipped back into the throng. “Oh well, they’ll probably go through with it on another day.”

There was a little park on the riverbank and the two made their way to a place that was quite alone. The sound of the river made monitoring difficult here and the two talked. ‘Valentine’ was amazingly able to answer her questions. Her name was Claudia and she had come to CORVINUS to pursue her career. She was from Iowa in the ‘Lower 48’ originally, the child of hard working farmers who had tried to instill in her a sense of family. At her young age she had rebelled against their ‘archaic’ ways and their beliefs, but now she had been able to compare and contrast. Though her parents had been taken by the disappearances, it was they and not Worldstate who spoke clearest to her!

And Claudia gave herself to becoming a disciple of ‘The Way.’

Valentine’ met with the leaders of the church in CORVINUS. Surely it was best that Claudia disappear from the city because of her high profile. There was not much time to think about it but ‘Valentine’ and his partner in ministry were now scheduled to leave in a sealed freight container. They would head East into Canadian territory before obtaining a similar ride to Big Diomede. Claudia begged for a way out of CORVINUS and in the end, the two decided to include her in their cramped quarters. About a week later Claudia, blindfolded, was escorted by ‘Ransom’ through the tunnel into the biosphere.

Valentine’ took a brief rest and was gone again to encourage people someplace in the world, but Claudia became one of ‘The More Perfect Way’s’ greatest students. One day, some months later, she sat at a mirror in the ‘Northern Lights’ studio releasing her now lengthening hair. She rejoiced in remembering how it had cascaded to her shoulders in her Iowa youth and knew it would one day caress her shoulders once more. Her changing profile drove her to Mrs. Greene’s studio on a fairly regular basis now as she needed to find… in every sense of the word… a more expanded wardrobe. “How wonderful!” she thought, “to have a clothing line right here under the dormitory!” She jumped as Mrs. Kinsinger, the older lady ‘Ransom’ had brought to Big Diomede as her mentor, stepped into the room. She fumbled rapidly, attempting to place her hair back into the ‘Worldstate bun’ that her station outside the biosphere required, but she failed and gave a little groan. Kinsiger smiled and stroked the fallen hair gently.

Is it wrong of me to think so much of ‘Joe,’ er, ‘Valentine?’” she lamented. For indeed she had been caught in the act of ‘being feminine,’ a practice Worldstate did not, for its part, want to encourage. Here in the biosphere, Mama Greene’s rule superceded. Indeed femininity was a noble and good thing to be cherished. Greene’s influence was fondly and reverently remembered.

Kinsinger smiled, for she had seen all the signs of this coming. Everyone in the biosphere could, even ‘Ransom.’ “’Joe’ has spent a lot more time on the road lately. In fact ‘Ransom’ is about to force him to take a sabbatical! He pretends not to notice you, but every little handwritten note you give him he cherishes. Notice how quickly he responds in kind. I can assure you he is asking ‘Ransom’ the same sort of questions with which you pummel me! The Divine has His paints out, dear sister, and he loves to paint!”

Indeed, ‘Joe’ was on a mission to the Middle-East and was about to return in the next few days. Claudia was running out of the little notes in envelopes that he always left, ostensibly to ‘encourage’ her, but that always seemed to be in adequate supply for a ‘daily letter’ from a man who could use no public form of messaging.

We need to pray ‘Joe’ will have his ‘Stone Mountain Moment,’” Mrs. Kinsinger continued, referring to the storm on the great mountain in which the hard man who had built the great bridge proposed to his own dear wife. The story was part of the legend of the biosphere along with the mountain walk in which the Greenes became a couple. The Greenes, to their credit, had not required thunder and lightning! ‘Joe’ was a man focused on his mission. Some pyrotechnics might need to be employed.

Joe’s’ return to the biosphere came as expected, but instead of a casual conversation, he retired to his room without speaking to anyone. Claudia’s heart fell. Returning to her room, she saw the little envelope. In it was a simple invitation from ‘Joe:’ “Will you join me for dinner in the old president’s office?” was the only message. There was plenty of time provided to “pretty up” and Claudia shamelessly ransacked the ‘Northern Lights’ collection in the process. Two hours later she arrived at the paneled room that had been Jonathan Greene’s office and study. A fire blazed in the fireplace as ‘Joe’ met her, dressed in his finest dinner clothes. He had prepared the meal himself and seated her, serving the soup course and then he took his place.

Joe’ did not hesitate, but spoke from his heart. The dinner and conversation lasted long into the night. The ‘long distance relationship’ that ‘Joe’ had contrived really left little to be said in words, but much to be said by the eyes and the tender touch of a hand upon a hand. ‘Joe’ was indeed taking an extended sabbatical. He needed to put down in writing some of what he was teaching to the various groups. More importantly, he said: “I need to learn how to be a father.”

In the days that followed, Claudia found herself taking dictation and smoothing ‘Joe’s’ manuscripts. He was a hard but kind taskmaster and the two grew closer. One day he surprised her by insisting that they take a little break and walk in the tundra flowers. Though a storm rumbled in the distance it was a strangely warm and calm day and the sunlight played brilliantly off of the verdant summer hillside. ‘Joe’ pulled a little box from his pocket… he wanted to do this a little more stylishly than Zimmerman…

Though there was at the time no one who knew how to play the old pipe organ in the stone chapel, ‘Ransom’ found some old computer files where Greene had made midis of his playing the organ. They were sometimes accompanied by him and his wife singing duets and the combination of high quality voice rendition and the signal playing the actual organ made for a rich combination. There was not a dry eye in the little chapel as ‘Joe’ and Claudia became one. The music files were an added blessing as they had been forgotten for some time. It was as if the Greenes had returned from Heaven to bless the festivities.

Mrs. Greene and her husbands’ beautiful voices joined in the beautiful old song:

In my fantasy I see a just world,
Where everyone lives in peace and honesty.
I dream of souls that are always free
Like the clouds that float
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.

In my fantasy I see a bright world
Where each night there is less darkness.
I dream of spirits that are always free,
Like the clouds that float

In my fantasy exists a warm wind,
That blows into the city, like a friend.
I dream of souls that are always free,
Like the clouds that float
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.

The ceremony was beautiful and required many tissues. When it was over the couple had another surprise awaiting them. ‘Ransom’ knew that the young couple needed better accommodations than those provided by the dormitory houses but didn’t want to relegate them to the untended housing stock in the biosphere outside the college grounds. He wrestled with this for some time, not wanting to disturb or rekindle sacred memories, but in the end he and Mrs. Kinsinger lovingly cleaned and dusted the old parsonage and on the wedding day its lights blazed once more.

They named their daughter Lucy and once more the little biosphere had a queen!

Kris' house on Big Diomede. Graphic by Bob Kirchman

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


No comments: