Valiant: Knock Knock…The Sandman…The Gift…Part 9…

The spring brings the new green and
The first flowers and the start of
Things…shifting from the sleep of
Winter it also brings the storms. But
The stars light the way through it all
As if knowing beyond a sense of timing
That there are things meant to be.

1558 Nuremberg, Germany

It was the family dinner night, Sunday
After church services in the small
Village farmhouse in the remote countryside.
It wasn’t anything special for Jon’s
Family…just the usual favorite of a
Hefty pork roast with gravy and dumplings
With onions and a modest berry pie for
Dessert. The family ate very quietly
Discussing plans for the farm the week
Ahead and a little gossip of the neighbors
They had seen at church. Everyone got
Along well in public always, comments
Were saved for private discussion at
Home; weak competitiveness mostly.

Jon was still haunted by the disappearance
Of Heinztel. It was something that
Gradually and painfully diminished over
Time. But the village gossip was cruel
And overly opinionated about it…Most of
It was ridiculous, regarding Heinz as lost
And confused or arrogant and too ambitious
For his own good; all from people who
Barely knew him. Yet Jon heard careful
Whispers from his peers how they had
Wished they chased the same thing. It
Was a strange mix of reasons to hear for

His sister Freda sat eating quietly, she was
The favorite…she had always been more
Fragile and sickly her whole life so she
Received a lot of attention. This always
Put more pressure on Jon, that he had to be
Better to watch over her…and as his
Father and grandfather kept reminding
Him, ‘You have too much free time on
Your hands to draw…That is not a man’s
Work. Drawing is something for girls to
Do. Men are meant for real work…We
Need to find more things for you to do
To toughen you up.’

‘Yes, Papa.’ Jon only nodded.

‘Why can’t men draw?’ His mother
Would ask. ‘There are many artists
That are men.’

‘Not in my family there aren’t.’ His
Father would say, and grandfather agree.

‘I saw the drawings by your bed that
You made,’ his grandmother said as
She swallowed large bites of her
Dumplings. ‘They looked like wagons…
Like the wagons the gypsies have.’

‘Yes, I saw them and drew them when
I was watching the goats in the meadow.’
Jon answered.

‘You saw the gypsies?’ His mother
Asked pausing from eating to stare at
Him with surprise.

‘Yes.’ Jon answered carefully.

‘You stay away from those gypsies,
Do you hear me?’ His father ordered
Coldly. ‘Those people are no good.
They are vagabonds and thieves, and
Make trouble where ever they go. I
Don’t want you talking to them!’

‘They aren’t people of God.’ His
Grandmother added sternly. She
Stood among the family as the holy
Speaker always, quoting biblical
And religious verses constantly.
‘You listen now, and stay away from

Jon’s mother just sat quietly
Avoiding all eye contact with anyone.
She had always been rather shy and
Soft spoken, or rather was forced to
Be that way. But inside she vividly
Remembered one of her braver days
As a young woman when she boldly
Went out and sought a fortune with a
Friend from a gypsy fortune teller. The
Brief visit had left her in awe…hopeful,
If not a little scared as well.

‘Just stay away from them.’ His father

‘Yes, Papa.’ Jon answered slowly, but
Then found the nerve to question.
‘But why? They don’t seem like bad
People…just different.’

‘Different is not always a good thing.’
His father said. ‘They have that
Mysticism about them, their gypsy
Magic…These things are not right in
The eyes of God. God does not want us
To do such things…or be around them.’

‘But I thought God wants us to
Learn, to learn new things to be better…
To be the best we can be for him?’
Jon asked.

‘Are you talking back to me?’ His
Father asked angrily. ‘I didn’t
Ask you to think. I told you not to
Do something…so you LISTEN.’

Jon heard but began to roll his eyes.
The thoughts and words of people,
Strangers or family…How well it
Seemed that the more he heard the
Less they knew and instead demanded.
So many people in the world locked
Into corners of beliefs…the Eden that
The bible promised seemed more like a
Riddle or a mystery, or maybe even
Non-existent. ‘I feel different…I just
Want to learn things.’

‘You feel different because you
Think too much.’ His father said.
‘All you need to know is work…the
Family and what you need to get
Done. You can think when you are
Older…You do what I tell you.’

‘But I can’t help wondering these
Things.’ Jon said to him. ‘Haven’t
You ever wondered if…there was
More? If there could be more?’

‘Work had to be done first. That’s
How life is.’ His father simply replied
As he finished eating and stood from
The table. ‘I am going to go check the
Barn and have a smoke. You finish
Your dinner and get to sleep. You have
A lot to do tomorrow.’ Then his father
And grandfather went outside together
Chuckling at the conversation dismissing
It as nonsense. They would go outside
And laugh at things then go to bed and
Repeat the same week all over again;
The same as always.

Jon sat silently thinking at the table as
His grandmother stared him down.
Then his mother smiled politely and
Excused herself as she led his sister
Away to brush her hair and ready
Themselves for bed. But his grandmother
Held this look that seemed to say a
Lot more…a secret that she was afraid
To reveal, and terrified that Jon could

A silent staring match went on for
A while between them as his grand-
Mother chewed slower and slower.
She grew more and more nervous
Until she could not take it anymore.

‘You told me once when I was little
That your mother saw things…that
She knew things…’ Jon said calmly,
His eyes fixed strongly on hers. ‘What
Happened to her?’

The soft light of the candles in the
Darkness of the evening of the room
Set a chilling mood. His grandmother’s
Face grew paler, then she froze. ‘She
Was a good woman, a woman of God.
Life was hard on her.’

Jon watched her carefully. She was
Hiding a lot, she had been hiding a
Lot for so long…But he felt stronger
With his words and feelings than ever
Before. ‘I didn’t say that…. I asked,
What happened to her?’

His grandmother thought quickly,
Careful with her words. For the first
Time her eyes on her grandson’s made
Her nervous. ‘Life was hard on her…
She had a weak heart.’

Jon held firmly onto his inner strength,
His own faith…broadened by all that
He had seen and knew. ‘I have to know…
What happened to her?’

His grandmother wiped her mouth with
A cloth napkin and sat back trying to
Appear as though she was made of iron;
Though inside she was trembling. Then
She looked at him trying to seem
Unbreakable. ‘You do not need to know
Such things. It is unimportant. You should
Pray to God for guidance and not ask
Such questions.’

Jon simply winced and laughed at her words.
For the first time he felt a sense of
Determination. All of the answers he was
Receiving from everyone were abrupt and
Made no sense…as if they were taught to
Simply repeat phrases and not waiver in
Any direction of thought. He leaned
Forwards towards his grandmother intent
On getting an answer. ‘She had visions,
Didn’t she?’

His grandmother’s eyes went wide. ‘She
Was confused.’ She answered, her voice
Cracking. ‘She saw things that confused
Her…from her dreams. That’s all. The
Voices confused her…It was the devil
Taunting her, that’s WHAT HE DOES…
But she prayed to God for help…and

‘Voices? She heard voices?’ Jon jumped
At the words. ‘You never told me that.
She saw things too, DIDN’T SHE? She
Dreamt about things before they happened?’

His grandmother grew paler. ‘It was
Nonsense!’ She said with embarrassment.
‘She was a good woman. She prayed to
God to God for forgiveness and to help
Her, and he did.’

‘Forgiveness?’ Jon nearly spat the words.
‘She was like me, wasn’t she? She saw
Things, knew things?’

His grandmother watched him with shaky
Eyes fighting for strength. ‘You need to
Pray to God to make it stop, Jon.’

‘But I can’t control it! And I do pray all
The time! You make me pray all the
Time, you have for years. And it doesn’t
Stop.’ And he did pray relentlessly…an
Endless ritual for every move, every deed,
And turn…and thought, constantly. His life
Was a daily life of nothing but prayers and
Work. ‘If she was a good woman…and I
Am not saying that she wasn’t…Then how
Could this happen to her? Why could it be
So bad? She couldn’t help it. I can’t help it.’

His grandmother straightened out the
Loose gray hair around her face and
Pulled it back to fasten it back tightly
To the knot she kept of it behind her
Head. ‘You need to pray more to make it
Stop, Jon. God does not want us to do
These things.’

Jon was growing more impatient, even
Angry at what he was hearing. Then he
Breathed hard and said, ‘What did she see?’

‘Jon…’ His grandmother answered sternly.
‘Don’t ask me these questions.’

‘Tell me!’ He nearly shouted.

She watched him and knew this time that
Her grandson would not give in. ‘You
Do not want to know.’

‘Why?’ He asked. ‘Did she see them?
She saw them, didn’t she?’

His grandmother bit her lip nervously,
Seriously worried now. Then she decided
That maybe a kinder approach was better.
She reached across the table and took his
Hands in hers and rubbed them, holding
Onto them desperately…begging him
With her eyes to hear her. ‘Now listen to
Me…You need to pray to make it stop.
It’s for your own good I’m telling you.’

‘Why?’ He asked, surprised by her
Sudden change in taking his hands in hers.
‘What happened to her?’

‘It scared her.’ She said slowly. ‘I don’t
Know why…She never said exactly.’ Then
Her eyes looked away from his to the
Shadows the candlelight was throwing
Around the room. Then she recalled
The memories that she did not want to
Remember. ‘When I was a little girl…
Sometimes I would hear my parents
Arguing late at night after supper…
When I was in bed. Even though they
Knew the children were asleep…they
Would whisper so carefully so no one
Would hear…but I would sneak out
Sometimes to listen…to watch them
Huddled together talking in the dark…’

His grandmother’s eyes began to roll
Around in different directions afraid of
What she remembered, hesitant to
Form or share words… ‘My father would
Get so angry at her for talking nonsense…
For sayings things before they happened…
My God, if anyone heard…What they
Would think? People do NOT handle these
Things well…It scares them. But she
Could not help it…and she would cry and
Cry, and whisper…praying.’

And again his grandmother paused
Fighting tears…then finally gave in
To tell him, ‘She said…she said that
She saw these…silver discs, like plates
Flying in the sky. They would come
And…she heard voices, and talked
With…something, someone that…
Told her things that frightened her.’

Jon was confused, for what he knew
Of his mysterious visitors they were
Always so kind. Yet still they only
Said so much. ‘What did they tell her?’

His grandmother shook her head then
Met his eyes almost painfully. ‘I don’t
Know…I could not hear everything…
I tried to hear, but I couldn’t. My
Father would get angry and tell her not
To tell anyone about it EVER…But I
Know it scared him too…They swore
To keep it a secret. But I think…I
Believe it was about the future.’

‘The future?’ Jon squinted at her.
‘They told her about the future…Or
She knew?’

‘Both…I think.’ She answered. Then
She watched him more sweetly, again
Hoping that he would listen. ‘Her
Mother was like this…and her mother
Before her. That much I know…
Because she asked me if I ever…that
If I Did…to pray to make it stop. It
Has always been in the family for a
Long long time.’

Jon was shocked, yet not. He always
Suspected, sensed it, felt it…But
The family fought explaining or
Discussing anything about it. ‘A boy,
Has there ever been a boy like this
In the family?’

‘No.’ His grandmother answered fast,
But then fumbled a word before
Finally saying, ‘There was…a boy,
A cousin of my mother’s that I
Heard about…But I don’t know much
About him. I only know that he was
Very quiet…and disappeared.’

‘Disappeared?’ Jon asked with alarm.
‘What do you mean he disappeared?’

‘I don’t know.’ She answered fast.
‘I don’t know.’

Jon swallowed fast and pushed
Forward, his eyes becoming heavy
And determined. ‘What happened to
Her…to your mother, and her mother?’

‘She had a weak heart.’ His grandmother
Confessed looking at him grim and
Lost. ‘The more dreams she had…the
More she saw, the weaker she became.
Until her body couldn’t take it anymore.
She had massive chest pains, it was
Awful. She kept talking all this…
Nonsense about visions…voices. Then
She died.’ She swallowed nervously,
‘That’s what killed her…the stress of
It all.’

Jon’s eyes went wide. But everything
He knew of his visitors was so…
Different. Something was seriously
Wrong with what he heard. ‘It couldn’t
Have been…’

‘That day…’ His grandmother went
On, looking far away…recalling the
Memory too clearly. ‘Over the house…
The day that she died…There was this
HUGE silver disc that hung in the sky
Over the house…Everyone saw it,
EVERYONE…The family, the
Neighbors, they came and saw it…
They all saw, they SAW. I saw it.’
She swallowed nervously again. ‘Then,
When she let out her last breath…It left.
It was like…They came for her, for
Her spirit. And they took it.’

Jon began to panic. He fought to
Remember every detail of every
Encounter that he ever had had of
His own. But there was nothing
Suggesting anything so ominous…
Yet, there was so much they kept
Secret. Secrets were all around him
His whole life. Even with his senses
He could not get everything. ‘They
Took her?’ He could only say.
‘Why? I don’t understand.’

His grandmother took a deep breath
And wiped her eyes. ‘Neither do I.
I don’t know.’ She said swallowing
Again. ‘Now do you see why this
Is no good for you? You have to
Make it stop, Jon. You have to pray
To God to make it STOP…Or this
Will kill you. And they will come for

‘You don’t know that.’ He defended
Nervously. ‘They have always been
So nice to me. Nicer than anyone else.
They would never hurt me.’

‘Maybe they don’t mean to.’ His
Grandmother responded. ‘But maybe
Normal people can not cope with
Communicating with them…where
They are from. And it takes a heavy
Toll on a person…Look what it did
To my mother, to her mother. It
Destroyed them, terrified them.’

Jon shook his head. It didn’t make
Any sense. Why would they be so
Terrified about it, all that he ever
Saw were wonderful things. Unless,
It was a future they saw coming
That terrified them…Or a much
Larger view of the world and the
Stars altogether more than they
Could understand. Now that made
Much more sense. ‘There has to
Be more.’

‘There isn’t.’ She said. ‘Now
Listen to me, you have to stop
Thinking about this. Put it out
Of your mind right now, right
Away. Ask God for help…or
It will kill you.’

Jon just shook his head. No, he
Felt something wrong and lacking
In her perception on this.

‘You can’t tell anyone about this,
Jon, not EVER.’ His grandmother
Insisted. ‘Jon, do you hear me? They
Will never understand…What will
They say, what will people believe?
What—they will call you a liar, call
You crazy? Is that what you want?
Do you want this following you
Around your whole life? Because it
Will, it will.’

Jon thought fast, the words forming
Before he could even fathom the
Full meaning…as if his intuition
Was reaching into his voice to make
The words. ‘But maybe they’re just
Looking or waiting for someone who
Could talk to them more…Or
Understand them better?’ People sure
Do jump to conclusions, Jon had
Learned that much. ‘What if there’s
Just a lot of misunderstanding
Between us and them? All this talk…
These visits…about the future?
There has to be more…This has to
Mean a lot more?’

His grandmother just shook her
Head denying it, she denied a lot
Of things. ‘No, no, no…You have
To put it out of your head, Because
I am telling you, it will kill you.
Did you hear what I told you what
It did to my mother, to her mother?
Did you hear me? I am telling you…
That this is going to kill you.’

Jon thought carefully and studied
His grandmother’s face slowly.
There was so much that had been
Hidden from him his whole life, and
Still was…It all seemed like it was
A part of some huge mysterious
Plan yet to unfold. And all that he
Knew was it would unfold, nothing
Would stop that, nothing. Then he
Simply pushed his chair back from
The table and stood up…then went
Quietly to his room and shut the door.






  1. This story just gets better and better, Valiant! And closer to home. I learned in recent years that a great-grandmother of mine spent most of her adult life in a “home”. No one ever talks about it, but I think these gifts flood in from both sides of my family. Fear is a powerful suppressant, for sure. I suspect Jon’s mother didn’t mind leaving…

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