In the night a bright star twinkled and
Gleaned, a mysterious light motionless
Among countless others…It was just a
Star. But this one was watching and alive.
1557 Nuremberg, Germany
Jon sat quietly on the bench beneath the
Window thinking…thinking, thinking, thinking.
There were no words, just flashes of feelings,
Images that made no sense, then nothing.
Heinz was inside getting ready for that
Party tonight, assembling his best clothes no
Doubt to impress his new friends. Despite
The warmth of the late summer air, Jon felt
A chill. It was just another evening, but not.
Then footsteps came softly from the right. It
Was Julianna, the pretty blond girl that
Marcel kept close beside him to enchant
Friends and patrons. She had a manner
Unlike other girls, and was very difficult
To read for most; many assumptions followed
Her wherever she went. She was sweet and
Charming, bold with her words at times…
Gentle, but stood strong, and always smiled.
She walked up to Jon and sat down
Beside him, eyeing him carefully. ‘Bad day?’
He eyed her quietly then nodded. ‘Bad day.’
Then she smiled really big. ‘You know…
Smart people don’t give advice, they just
Make you smile.’
He laughed. ‘Yeah.’
‘Did it work?’ She asked.
‘Yes.’ He nodded.
‘Good.’ She smiled again then sighed. ‘I
Hear there’s a party tonight. You and Heinztel
‘Heinz is going.’ Jon answered.
She nodded and understood. ‘He’s going
To change you know.’
Jon looked at her and winced, a strange
Feeling inside him growing. ‘How did you
Know about the party?’
Julianna laughed. ‘I know what to listen
To and what not to.’
Just then Heinz stepped out of their door
Dressed in his cleanest white shirt and
Best pants. He stood tall and sure, then
Simply said, ‘I’m going now…Jon, are
‘No.’ Jon only said. Then Heinz nodded, no
Arguments. He puffed out his chest proudly,
Grinned at them both then strolled off down
‘Have a nice time.’ Julianna offered casually.
Then she turned to Jon. ‘You know…you
Have that look of knowing something.’
‘Maybe.’ Jon answered.
‘He has no idea.’ Julianna said staring after
Heinz. ‘Most don’t. They won’t. And won’t
More footsteps from the shadows…heavy
In the dirt, a tall man with strong weight
Was approaching. Then he was standing
Nearby, just slightly out of clear view. He
Motioned for Jon to come talk…suggesting
They go inside his cottage privately. He wore
The strangest tailored clothes, had light
Hair and refrained from speaking in front
Of Julianna; she had never seen him before—
And she knew everyone. Then Jon got up
And followed the man’s gesture, they
Went inside…closed the door, and spoke
Quietly for 33 minutes. Then Jon came out,
The man left as mysteriously as he had come…
And Jon walked slowly back over to the bench
And sat down beside Julianna once again.
She hadn’t moved, just sat patiently waiting…
Listening as carefully as she could; she heard
Jon just sat there staring at the ground…
The dirt, then at the buildings all around,
The lights and the windows of the homes…
The lights of the lanterns that hung on poles
Fading…then up at the stars. Everything
Seemed so big and so small, riddles and
Meanings everywhere. There was too much
On his mind for words.
Julianna waited for him to speak, her
Curiosity was overwhelming. That tall
Built stranger, so mysterious and charismatic
Somehow intrigued her. He was nothing
Like the men in the city nor anywhere she
Had ever seen…And she had seen a lot
Of people in her young life. Then finally,
She couldn’t wait any longer. ‘Who was
That?’ She asked leaning closer.
Jon’s eyes widened, he was afraid to speak.
‘You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.’
She knew by his words not to push. There
Were secrets to the city, probably to all
Cities that few knew. And words were
Always best measured carefully…for often
There is more hope in not knowing. ‘Bad
Day?’ She dared to ask.
Jon swallowed. ‘I want to go home now.’
He said, his eyes still staring widely all
Around. ‘The more I see and hear, simple
‘Then that’s what you should do.’ Julianna
‘Why do you stay here?’ Jon asked. ‘Why
Did you come here?’
She rolled her eyes a little, straightened out
Her light blue dress and sleeves then said,
‘People assumed what I was, so that’s what I
Became…But I think you know, I am not what
They think I am. Marcel knows that…And you
Do too, don’t you?’
He turned to her and smiled. ‘I thought so.’
‘You notice things.’ She grinned with a
Strange relief. ‘Marcel sees that. He will
Keep you quiet.’
Jon looked down understanding her meaning,
All was becoming clear more and more.
Then Marcel strolled out of his door
Wearing a fine black jacket and smoking
This fancy looking new pipe he acquired as
A gift. He walked up to the two of them
Acting rather strangely confident. He was
All dressed for something…just a little
While ago he had been in his nightshirt.
Marcel was typically a night owl, entertaining
At nights and making secret business deals
As well. Then he came up to Jon slyly…’I
Was thinking of you my young friend. Maybe
You need a break from all the artwork for a
While…. We need someone helping out
Picking up garbage around the district. I think
It would help keep you busy and keep your
Mind off of things if you helped out with this.
We help each other around here…and I would
Appreciate your cooperation very much.’
Julianna blinked widely at Marcel, holding
A smile that showed nothing. ‘That’s helping…’
Marcel nodded, smoking his pipe like
It was a trophy. ‘That’s alright, Jon,
Yes?’ Jon only looked at him and
Said nothing. Then Marcel grinned
And turned around and went back
Inside his home…a point was made.
Julianna turned to Jon once they were
Alone. ‘What are you going to do?’
Home in the village was cold and often
Heartless and hard, a lot of work
That held little value to big city life.
‘I want to go home…I believe I will.’
Julianna thought for a while to herself
As they sat in silence staring at the
Street. Then she spotted a familiar face
As he walked by with a lady, both of them
Were finely dressed…the few passersby
Paid them no special attention. They
Were on their way to that party that
Heinztel was attending. ‘Do you see
That couple over there moving down the
Jon looked over, his eyes grew cold a bit.
The man was one of Mr. Henry’s associates.
‘No one knows who they are…only a few.’
Julianna said, eying Jon through the
Corner of her eye. ‘They live right there,’
She pointed, around the corner, right in
The middle of the district. It’s a nice
Home…Everyone smiles and loves
Them. The people wonder and complain
About things…If they only knew.’
Then she turned to Jon sincerely.
‘You don’t belong here.’ It hurt her to
Jon grimaced but thanked her silently.
Then she left him quietly with regret.
He sat a while thinking some more,
And finally went inside to climb
Into bed, never changing clothes and
Fell slowly to sleep.
That night the air tingled and was
Cold. The mysterious visit of the stranger
Haunted him, a man who he had never
Met before or seen; not even in a dream.
The world was growing heavier all the time.
Sights and sounds all melted into dreams,
Not processed memories made into
Some psychological riddle…but instead
Transformed into visions that came
As a gift, or curse…
He saw the night sky as it was,
Full of stars…all natural and
Normal. Then the stars started to
Move, and the night rolled into the
Dawn and then the day. And
Still the stars were there, moving…
Becoming shapes and glowing
Objects streaking everywhere
Like a painting had come to life
Before it was done. Then the
Shapes became more…and took
The Forms of Wolves and Dragons,
Chasing each other, snarling and
Growling, baring teeth and claws.
It was as if…they were fighting
Or competing over something…Something
Happening or coming, or something there.
Whatever it was…the dream scared
Him to death.
On and on this went through the night,
Playing out over and over…A
Mysterious dream that made such an
Eerie picture. All these shapes and
Images moving around, A war of
Symbols and then animals…ending
In a grim view of the night starry
Sky that once seemed so peaceful.
And then it became more clear,
There was much more out there than
The world he knew. If this was one
World, then of course there could be
Others. But what kinds, and why
Would they come here? Had they always
Been here, why and what for? If
Such things could exist why would they
Come to a place so small? No
Horse move a star…What
Could? The more his senses took
This in and thought about it, the
More fear grew inside him. For if
Wolves and dragons filled the skies…
Then that must mean there must
Be great predators and beasts of great
Magic out there…looking, hunting.
But predators only hunt a territory if
There is something of value there.
In the morning, he awoke early to
The sound of their cottage apartment
Door opening slowly; the slightest sound
Woke him up. Heinz was just getting in.
He sat up slowly watching his friend
Move carefully, as quietly as he could
Inside, not to wake Jon up. ‘You’re
Getting in late.’ Jon said quietly.
Heinz looked at him sideways, not wanting
To meet his eyes. ‘It was a late night.’
Jon’s senses worked fast, it wasn’t hard
To see his close friend’s normal behavior
And manner had had drastically changed…no
Matter what it was. Heinz was always
Fearless and bold, very sure but kind
No matter what time it was. What he
Saw now in him wasn’t careful, it was
Fear. ‘Are you all right?’
‘Yes.’ Heinz said quietly. ‘I’m tired. I just
Want to lay down for a while and sleep.’
Then he climbed into his bed on the
Opposite side of the room, crawled
Under the covers and closed his eyes
And pretended to sleep. He faked this,
Because he was numb.
Jon laid back down, his eyes wide. Oh
What a day it had been. Everything had
Changed permanently. It was as though
A bigger life had come at him without
Him doling much…From a field of view,
Then to his door, then into his room. A
Powerful change, forever different.
A few hours later, when daylight could
Not deny movement…Jon climbed out of
Bed to see Heinz sitting on his own bed
Staring at the floor numb. He was
Afraid to say anything, but did. ‘Are
You all right?’
‘Yes.’ Heinz only said.
‘No, you’re not.’ Jon responded.
‘Don’t ask questions, Jon.’ Heinz
Said quietly. ‘I will be.’
‘Will you?’ Jon doubted. He thought
Carefully for a moment. Heinz had a typical
Way of speaking that was confident, not
Arrogant, just self-assured…like an
Attitude of I can, I will; and he usually
Did well this way. But the feeling in
The air of recent events was
Dark and heavy. ‘I want to leave. I
Don’t like this.’
‘I have to stay.’ Heinz said to him as he
Looked at him, in the eye, still numb. ‘There’s
Nothing for me back home.’
‘Why?’ Jon asked. ‘There are things to do,
Things possible – ‘
‘I need to show people that I can do
Things, that I am someone.’ Heinz told
Him…but his words said it like it was
‘You don’t have to show anyone
Anything…Who, these people? Jon asked.
‘If this is what the world is,’ Heinz
Said, ‘I need to do this.’
The weight of meaning, of his dreams and
Goals. It was really important to Heinz,
The consequences of course are set aside
Later; ‘I can’t. I have to go.’ Jon said…
The look on his friend’s face was more than
‘I know.’ Heinz regretfully said, it hurt
Hurt him to say it though.
They didn’t talk after that, each had
Their mind set. It was a strained and
Painful split. Heinz stayed while
Jon returned home, surrendering to a life
He was used to. Both were equally grim,
There was a darkness to one side
That was undeniable. While most had
Never, would never, experience that…
The gut takes over and you follow it
And try to redefine hope.
Jon accepted the bittersweet return
Home, but managed. His family hadn’t
Changed, and never would. But a world
Of secrets left a powerful impression. It
Would follow him forever, as shadows always
For a month, Jon dealt with the readjustment
Of his return. And he wasn’t disappointed
To what he came back to, the same exact
Life he had left descended the whole
Concept of freedom had been forever changed
By that experience in the city…but then
Everyone encounters different things. Despite
Everything, his senses constantly told him
It was the right thing to do. Jon became
The quiet loner once again.
Then, on one dark night, as Jon was
Returning the family’s goats home, he came
Across some of the other local boys;
Former friends of Heinz. From a distance,
He heard them laughing about Heinz
Disgraceful return home, of how the
Once popular boy had come home
Bruised and beaten, full of shame like
Some coward. They gloated about this,
At their former friend’s defeat, like they
Knew more but they were afraid
To speak it out loud.
Jon became silently frantic but went
Home as if nothing were wrong. The next
Day, when he took the goats out to
Pasture, he had planned to chance
Leaving them by the river to seek
Out Heinz and see if it were true
And that he had come back.
But when he went to the meadow
And then the river the next day,
He found Heinz sitting there by
The river alone.
He approached his friend carefully as
He saw him sitting there with his
Head down. ‘What happened?’
Heinz looked at him, his face
Swollen and red, and eyes wet. ‘How
‘Fine.’ Jon winced awkwardly. ‘You’re
‘You’re really smart, you know.’ Heinz
Said weakly, looking around at the river.
Jon’s skin grew cold and he froze
Without thinking. ‘What happened?’
‘So, how are you?’ Heinz asked again,
His voice choking.
‘Fine.’ Jon answered. The lack of words
And the sight of Heinz was saying too
Much. ‘What happened? I heard some
Big buildings burned down…’
‘Yeah, everyone heard…It’s a crazy
Place.’ Heinz answered then looked
Around and then looked at Jon again,
His eyes were really wet. ‘So how are
‘Fine.’ The simple words were becoming
Frightening. ‘How are you?’ Jon asked.
Heinz sat there without answering, he
Was playing with something in his hand.
‘All I wanted to do is prove that I wasn’t,’
He said, his voice starting to whimper. ‘But
That place, those people.’ He started shaking
His head. ‘Don’t let anyone change you…
Don’t you ever listen to anyone. You’re fine
Just as you are. Do you hear me?’
‘I hear you.’ Jon said.
‘There is something I wanted to tell you…’
Heinz started to say, his voice breaking.
‘What?’ Jon asked wide eyed and paralyzed.
But before Heinz could answer
There was some noise in the distance
Coming from up the river. The
Sounds of horses, but not the usual
Sounds…these were different. Then
Forms appeared of men on horseback,
Lavishly dressed in black. These were
Not law men, these men were unlike
Anyone Jon had ever seen before.
Heinz leaped up and wiped his face
And forced himself together, then turned
To his friend. ‘Go home Jon.’
It happened so fast. ‘What are you
Going to do?’ Jon could only ask.
‘Jon. Go home NOW.’ Heinz ordered
Strongly. But his eyes were a storm
Of something else. ’Do this for me,
‘Promise me that we’ll talk tomorrow.’ Jon
Answered angrily back.
‘We’ll talk…’ Heinz agreed, then
Pointed for him to go. ‘Tomorrow.’
Jon stumbled back without thinking,
Something else took over…not fear,
Not anger…something else made his
Legs move. He went to the goats
And took them home in a state of
Shock. His mind raced wildly of
Images of faces of the city, of voices
And whispers he had heard…and of
A visitor who had given firm command
One mysterious night.
The next day Jon returned to the
Pasture, to the river…No one was
There. He waited and waited,
Then finally, full of impatience
And anger, he decided to go up river
To Heinz’s home to see where he
Was…but n his way, he stumbled
Across a disturbance in the weeds
And brush, where a struggle had taken
Place…along with an empty bottle of
Some substance he could not
Recognize. Then he went on to
Heinz’s home…he wasn’t there, his
Family said he had never come home.
Days went by this way, with Jon
Asking and checking. Everyone assumed
Heinz had run off…Even what
Little Jon added, offered nothing.
There were rumors and gossip,
Awful assumptions made from
Fragments of information. They never
Knew anything. They called Heinz
Cocky and arrogant and then a
Coward. He wasn’t at all…That’s
Something most never knew…Heinz
Came from a picture-perfect country
Family, but his parents were brutal
Alcoholics…and he and his brothers
Competed over everything, but mostly
For a normal life they never had, but
People imagined was there.
There was never an answer
To what happened. People knew
Too little. And Jon could offer
No answers on this out loud to
Anyone…That his dreams had told
Him what happened? That the
Missing details were…Heinz
Couldn’t take it anymore.
But there were rumors, there were
Thank you so much, dear Nando. Simple words, powerful, wonderful, profound, as always !!!
Photo by Krissy Katsimbras
I am here!
In the course of looking for more clues about Athabantian, I was attracted by this one thanks to Robin who has posted them in last May. Though it’s rather for the Continent byond the Atlantic, I don’t know why just feel this has something similar to the story or mood of the story about Jon and Heinz.
By the way, how are you, dear Nando ???