(01-19) Mind Reading

As they disappeared into the fog bank Louis and Troll, from a distance, looked like one person. Louis was on his cousin’s shoulders, a yellow slicker covering them, with Troll peering through the opening he'd left himself. "How can somebody who's invisible just make things go the way he wants them to go?" Louis wondered aloud. "We must have every lawman in existence after us and here we go sailing right out under the Golden Gate.

They were sailing blind because they did not know how to navigate by instruments, and even if they did they had no charts, so that there was behind the outward calm of the three men the knowledge that they could at any time be broken on the rocks. The only hope and the only direction was provided by the Patriarch, and so they learned faith as a matter of necessity.

Bulldog was sniffing the air. "Smells like somebody’s sick down below,” he said.

The Patriarch said, "Food poisoning. I’ll take care of it."

Louis and A Bomb looked at each other but didn't say anything. They could hear the sound of retching in the cabin. Troll said, "It's not our business if he says it's not our business. I told them those canned shrimp didn’t taste right to me, but who listens to me?”

“I listen to you,” the Patriarch said.

Troll looked around, still uncomfortable about a voice with no logical source outside himself. “Yea,” he said. “You listen to me whether I want you to or not.”

Time passes slowly in the fog and the vision is reduced back to the immediate, to the wood of the deck and the white canvass of the sail, and to the faint contrast of the hull against the sea, rushing toward some destination unknown to the sailors themselves.

There was a light burning inside Louis' mind. It was a familiar light; his connection with his cousin, Paris. She was not always there, but she was there when he was receptive to her, and she was focused on him. They were the mystery of opposites, like the positive and negative polarity of a battery. "What are your terms?" he could feel the question as if it was his own thought, except that it had a slightly different taste, and when it came he caught a faint scent of her.

He felt the information move through him like a wave of emotion. "No terms. We're keeping the computer." He didn't reflect on the logical fallacy of their keeping something which was their master.

"He's keeping the computer," Paris said. She opened her eyes. She had seen him on the deck of the sailboat but she wouldn't share any information which might help the Inspector find them. She was just relaying information. She knew she was being recorded, and that her answers would be analyzed by a computer, studied by experts, looking for where she was withholding information. They were like dogs following a scent.

"He can't keep it," the Inspector said. Paris was curled next to him and he absently petted her as if she was a cat. "Tell him that if he returns it within twenty-four hours there will be no consequences. He and the rest of his organization will be given total amnesty."

Technology, it has been observed, is an externalization of inner processes. There could not be wireless communication if there was no a template for it inside the human psyche. The internal process of direct communication has been observed in tribal cultures cut off from technology. The Mayoruna in the Amazon basin demonstrated the "old way" when a National Geographic photographer found himself lost, and without common language with them. He heard the head man speak in his head, in English. He realized also that the head man could hear his thinking. Ancient knowledge is hidden beneath the advances of metaphorical language and technology, as faint as the sense of smell, now, it is known only to those with very careful discrimination of the senses.

For reasons they did not understand or question, Paris and Louis were naturally capable of this direct communication. It is the refinement of the moment when you know the telephone is going to ring, and who is calling. It is the refinement of the moment when you are thinking of this person, and he or she calls. It is the refinement of sublimating the personal to the enjoined psyche. It consists of a sending and a receiving device, words travel on secret channels in the cells of the body, and within the same system, it transcends any distance.

"How the hell do you do that?" the Inspector asked, squeezing the back of her neck just hard enough to let her know his strength. "And how the hell do I know you're doing anything at all?"

"You don't," Paris said. "But I'm all you've got, aren't I?"

"You're like a beautiful doll; you know that, don't you?"

"My love is like a red red rose, that lifts its head to spring."

"Who wrote that?"

"I don't remember. Somebody famous, though."

"Yes, I've heard it before. But let's cut out the nonsense. Did you give him my terms?"

"Yes, of course."

"And is there a reply?"

"Yes. He said, 'My love is like a red red rose that lifts its head to spring.' But that wasn't for you; it was for me. As for your terms, he's not going to give you the computer back. He said there's nothing that's worth trading it for."

"How about his life?"

"Are you threatening to kill him?"

The Inspector shifted uncomfortably and looked around the room. His flat reflected his ex-wife; there was the furniture she had chosen. There was the Chinese carpet she'd bought at Crate and Barrel. Even the music playing was music she had chosen. In the silence of contemplation he listened to the words of the song.

"When I met you I was blue, but not as blue as when you left me.
Any window I look through shows the empty street below me,
nobody to console me, nobody to hold me tight,
I'm drowning in indifference, another lonely captive of the night."

He looked down at the woman. She was older than he was, but she had not grown. She was a midget. He felt a flash of anger from someplace as innocuous as an intolerance for something different from himself. For a moment he saw her as a freak of nature, and she picked up that moment just like a ringing telephone, and moved away from him on the love seat where he had asked her to sit beside him. This added to his irritation with her. He had imagined that she would transfer to him the role of protector, that she would surrender herself to him. He was, after all, in a position of authority, and she was ... a little person.

"Let me put it this way," he said. "Your cousin Louis got out of Folsom on parole and it took him less than a month to violate it big time. Now, one of two things is going to happen. He's going to turn himself in and give back what he's stolen, or he's going to go down. And I think it's really up to you, because I think you know where he is."

"How about the third thing?" Paris asked.

"What third thing?"

"It's an unknown unknown," she said.

He recognized the quote and felt the rage again. It wasn't in danger of being seen, yet, just a child who wanted his way, right now, raging behind the rigid control of a man who was charged with enforcing the rules. "Are you going to put your faith in something unknown?" he asked.

"Why Inspector," she said, with genuine surprise, "what else would I need faith for?"

"Has he communicated anything else?" The Inspector tried to return to a more businesslike demeanor. It was his job to get information, and he would be nice about it so long as he could. Then he would use other means if she didn't want to cooperate, and he wouldn't be so nice anymore.

"As a matter of fact he did mention one thing," she said.

"What was that?" He picked up his notebook and poised the pen over the paper.

"He said the little people are now under the protection of the Patriarch, and that includes the women as well as the men."

"What women? You?"

"For every little man," she said, "there's a little woman."

He stared at her, uncomprehending. "Where is he?"

"When I try to see that it's all just a fog, inspector."

Posted: Thu - July 24, 2008 at 02:17 PM