Valiant: Knock Knock…The Sandman…The Gift…Part 12…

After the mysterious little foreign man
Left the evening became even more
Uncomfortable. As Jon’s mother and
Grandmother cleaned up after supper,
His father paced about in frustration
Staring at his son while he sat at
The table showing his sister and
Grandfather the strange gift the
Visitor had brought him. Just what
Was going on, how could some total
Stranger come along and know what
To give Jon? Then once he could not
Hold it in any longer he froze and stood
Staring angrily at Jon. ‘Have you been
Talking to anyone? Or is this something
Left over from your time in the city?’

‘No father, honest I haven’t.’ Jon told
Him. ‘I never met anyone like that
There. I never saw anyone like that
Before. I barely got to go out. I did
Artwork and work that’s all. I wasn’t
There that long remember?’

‘Are you lying to me?’ His father

‘No!’ Jon answered, shaken by the
Need to defend himself on this.

‘Why would the boy lie?’ His
Grandfather asked. ‘It’s just a
Gift for drawing, to make some
Silly pictures, Helmut. So what?’

His father leaned in heavily towards
His son. ‘I don’t like this. This is
The strangest thing I have ever seen!’
He paused for a moment. ‘You know
You are not too old for me to mess
You up BAD, do you hear me? You had
Better not be messing around when
You have work to do, do you hear me?’

‘Helmut!’ His grandfather laughed.
‘You are making a big deal over nothing!’

Everyone watched with discomfort
Of his father’s performance, the man
Had a tendency to react in such a
Way over everything; many were scared
Of his temper. Jon was so shocked
Himself he couldn’t even find a word to
Say, he only watched and listened in

‘You take that,’ His father said pointing
To the paper and the stick, ‘And put it
Away and go to your room and don’t
Let me see it. You have real work to do.
You like to draw so much, you can do
It after everything is done while you
Sleep…Now go on get to bed.’

Jon took the paper and the little stick
And went to his room…again
Torn what to think, but relieved to
Be alone. A gift from one side by a
Total stranger, and pushed by his
Father on the other side…with a whole
Lot of assumptions in between. He had
Enough to sort out himself without
The torment of another accusation.
But still it was an intriguing evening…to
Add to the night before. There was
Nothing to do but take deep breaths
And go with each moment that came
Quietly; a true friend would have been
Priceless at that moment.

He wanted to just and draw something,
But the pressure was just too much.
A moment’s peace was preferable, so
He decided to simply go to bed a little
Early and rest…gain a chance to breathe
And pray for some silent answer through
The only outlet he had…prayers and his
Dreams, with steadfast words he said
Quietly each night…’God, give me an
Answer, Please.’

On most nights he dreamt of boring
Things, chores, the meadow or the
Occasional indulgence of a lot of
Desserts. All anyone talked about was
The amazing sweets of the holidays…
But it meant a lot in those days. On some
Nights, for no reason, he dreamt of other
Things and found guidance that way…
The mysterious dreams that came for no
Reason of things he couldn’t always
Understand…with pictures, places and
People. These were the premonitions
That often came vividly true, or warned
Him with symbolic meaning of which
Way to turn and what to notice or see.

That night the familiar man’s voice
Returned yet AGAIN with a message…
While he dreamt of a bounty of cakes.
And the man’s voice said, ‘When the
April moon is full and bright…things

Then Jon awoke in the morning with
The words haunting him. His mind
Repeated the phrase over and over,
That’s all he could remember…’The
April Moon.’ He sighed heavily, ‘Great!
Another riddlesome phrase.’ It was
A little frustrating, but at least
It was something.

Weeks went by after with things
Passing more normally, just work
And the daily ups and downs. A
Subtle relief. But Jon was still too
Nervous to attempt to draw
Anything. Finally, when the April moon
Did come he suddenly began to draw
Again…after he had forgotten all
About the pressure and the phrase and
Dreams. It was as if the secret meaning
Behind it took over on its own and
Simply reacted with what needed to
Be done.

He sketched his favorite animals
And scenes that he knew…from memory.
Only because he was only allowed to
Draw at night when everyone was
Asleep. He trained himself to do artwork
This way by the light of a candle with
No models to study in front of him.
It was an impossible challenging task,
But in time grew and grew.

More weeks went by this way, then
Months…of drawing in secret at night
When he should have been sleeping.
First, he polished his skills on animals
And then moved on to people. He
Sketched faces that he knew so
Well…with the main goal in mind to
Draw his mysterious night time
Visitors. But he kept all of the drawings
Hidden beneath his bed, hoping his
Family would never find them. Some
Of them wouldn’t mind…but his
Father and grandfather would be
Relentlessly critical without a doubt.

It became a peace to embrace in a
Time when all the world seemed as
Though it was growing crazy around
Him. The weather was constantly a
Challenge for the farm and the villagers.
People were growing edgy and hostile
Over every little thing, even the solace
Usually found in church became difficult
For many…suspicious signs filled the air.
And more and more people slowly
Began talking about the lights they
Saw in the night sky that moved at
Night, and sometimes by day.

Eventually even the tedious chatter
Of Jon’s family over dinner changed
And they talked about the village
Gossip as well. All the farmers were
Having tough times…and the stars
Moving around at night. ‘Maybe God
Is angry.’ His grandmother dared to
Say in fear to them as they sat around
The table eating.

His father was always the first to
Dismiss such things. ‘If God is angry…
It is because people have too much
Time on their hands for idle gossip
And not enough work to do.’

‘But maybe things are changing,’
His grandfather even said. ‘There
Have never been such tough times
Before, not like this. Maybe they
Are signs to consider…to move on
To other things.’

The conversation always ended that
Way, abrupt, with no confirmation…
Only unsteady looks and speculation.
It was easier to doubt others than
Oneself. No one had an answer to
Give. Simple routines and the ongoing
Mentality to maintain those routines
Kept things going. To do something
Different was too much of a risk.

Then on one fall afternoon, after
Jon was returning home with the
Goats from the meadow before harvest
Time, he saw that one of their neighbors
Was visiting with their teenage daughter.
It was the sister of the widow Heiser
Who had come to see about bartering
For some fresh milk in exchange for
Some of her preserves. She was very
Talkative and pushy…and he daughter
Even more so; Jon dreaded them on
Sight. He avoided going into the house
Until they left…

Once they were gone and the goats
Were into their pen he went into the
House only to encounter a nightmare
Scene. The family was gathered around
The kitchen table looking at Jon’s
Drawings…The woman’s daughter Eliza
Had been talking to his sister, gone into
His room for some reason and found
His drawings…taken some of his colored
Pastels and colored them all in with
Awful scribbles and destroyed them.

‘Jon,’ his grandfather laughed, ‘look
You have an admirer…She liked
Your artwork and colored your drawings
For you.’ He just laughed and laughed
About it.

His sister Freda apologized. ‘Jon,
I’m sorry I couldn’t stop her. She
Just kept pushing her way all around
Looking at things…when she saw
Your drawings, she just insisted they
Needed to be colored…and before I
Could stop her, she took your pastels
And started coloring them in. I’m

His grandmother and mother were
Sick about the sight, but didn’t say
Much. ‘They were beautiful drawings,
That’s such a shame. Who could do
Something like that.’

‘You see, what did I tell you about
Drawing?’ His father asked with a laugh
As he shook his head. ‘Artwork is a
Waste of time. All that time wasted. Are
You going to grow up now?’

Jon was just horrified. How could that
Happen? How can someone you don’t
Know just come along and do that…
It didn’t seem possible. And they let it
Happen, just like in the city. He couldn’t
Even speak…only look at what the
Drawings once were, and were now. All
The meaning destroyed that fast.

They didn’t understand the depths to
It all. What moves a person to create
May seem frivolous or fantasy to one…
Is measureless to the one that makes it.
But maybe it is still only a matter of
What others see. It has no value otherwise,
At least that is what he was learning.

‘Don’t look so upset.’ His grandmother
Told him. ‘You’re young, you can always
Make more.’

‘Make more?’ He fumbled the words. The
Shock just made him numb.

‘A lot of wasted time.’ His father
Just kept saying. ‘I told you that art
Is a waste of time! It’s trash now that
Is for sure. Now do some real work.
Will you ever listen?’

He took what was left of the drawings
To his room and stared at them, history
Was repeating itself in a ruthless way.
He couldn’t even recognize what they
Were, only how they were defaced.
There was a profound sense of loss
And failure to it all…he wasn’t even sure
If there was a lesson there. It was just
Paper…lines to form pictures, of
Memories, of things hidden in his mind
To capture and see a little more steadily
And clearly. And it was all destroyed by
Someone’s whim. It felt as if it was an
Impossible thing to sort out.

He decided to stop drawing then.
Maybe his father was right, maybe
It was pointless. The meaning to it
Appeared to matter less and less. He
Tossed the ruined work on the compost
Pile to rot and resolved to just do
Normal farm work like his father
Insisted and nothing more.

Harvest time came and went. The
Crops were poor, the mood around
The farm was dismal, and even more
So, in the village. Everything just
Seemed to sink. The more his work
Felt destroyed the worse things got…
Everywhere. There was an increasing
Amount of accidents around the farm…
And sudden illnesses at home and
In the village. Even the weather was
Growing worse…with stronger storms
And an early frost.

Christmas time came and then with
Less cheer. There were less goods to
Enjoy, produce had to be rationed
More carefully to last…which meant
Less to sweets for the holidays. It
Was a grim season that made the
Entire year feel more painful…
The usual festive time that
Kept people going, even
Inspired all year round…now felt
So dark, even hopeless.

And then, by the secret tradition
That only Jon knew…on Christmas
Eve night after everyone had gone
To sleep…Jon himself retired to bed.
He had almost completely forgotten
About his visitor that often came
On the holidays…There was a flash of
Light, and there she was again.

There she was again, sitting on
The foot of his bed. The beautiful
Mysterious blond woman in the
Ivory dress…But this time, he
Noticed a little more, that her
Dress was so strange looking, as if
She was wearing some kind of pants;
Or to a modern person, a uniform.
She smiled at him with kind
Sparkling eyes as she sat there
Bathed in a ring of white light.

He yawned and opened his eyes
Slowly to see her…without making
The effort to sit up. It was nice
To see her, but he was just too
Worn out to hear what he
Presumed would be another
Riddlesome message.

‘How are you Jon?’ She asked

He wanted to just laugh, and
He might have some, but wasn’t
Sure. How was he? All he could
Say was, ‘How are you?’

‘I’m fine. But how are you doing?’
She again asked carefully.

He just winced and looked away
Then back at her. It was the first
Time their visit was…strained.
‘What is it this time? Just tell
Me please.’

‘Jon, we’re friends.’ She said. ‘I’m
Just trying to help, that’s all.’

‘It’s not always easy to believe

‘Jon, please try. Please?’ She asked
Kindly and sincerely.


‘I just want you to keep going.’ She
Said. ‘Keep drawing. Please don’t
Give up. No matter what anyone says.’

‘Why?’ He asked a little defensive.
‘Why is it so important? I don’t
Understand, it’s drawing…I don’t

‘Because it’s important. It is.’ She said.

‘How?’ He laughed. ‘It doesn’t make
Any sense. There are plenty of artists
Out there. I’m nothing. They’re just
Pictures. There have to be others – ‘

‘Because you have to do it.’
She said firmly.

‘Me?’ He laughed. ‘Take a look
Around. That sounds ridiculous. How
Can it matter?’

‘It will one day.’ She replied slowly,

‘In the future…’ He said suspiciously.

‘That’s right.’ Then she held her
Head up high and smiled strongly
As to tell him by her conviction,
That the visit said so much by her
Being there. ‘That’s all that I can
Tell you is that, one day…it will.
You will see…Will you please do this
For me?’

He bit his lip fighting thoughts and
Feelings of reality versus the mystery
Of this. What held more value? Then
He pinched his eyes shut quickly
And nodded and looked at her.

‘Good.’ She smiled with content sure
She got through to him. ‘You need
To believe that…One day you WILL
Understand. And you will see me
Again.’ She sat for a little while
With him, talking…of just simple
Things, the cookies he missed that
Christmas, the pets he missed, how
The animals were doing; boring
Stuff to most people. Then she
Was gone…and he went back
To sleep, but with a bit more
Peace and inspiration this time.

Christmas Day came and went,
Nothing special. No presents, no
Extravagant meal…and very little
Dessert. But that night he dug out
What paper and charcoal sticks he
Had left and began sketching once
Again. It all returned to him very
Fast once he accepted it. And
Within a few nights the rhythm
Returned with more precise lines.

He became seized by some intense
Drive for some reason, the closer it
Grew to New Year’s…Each night
Drawing more and more, and faster…
Suddenly compelled to draw
In more intricate details and
Patterns that consumed his mind.
It was as if something unlocked
Inside him somewhere and it
Poured into the paper beyond

Then, on New Year’s Eve…on the
Coldest night of the season, he
Found himself working on images
He had never seen in his mind
Before, and it came out in such
A way, a technique no words could

The wind began to howl outside
By the sparkling light of the stars
And the dancing light and
Shadows of the candle in his
Room…A sensation filled the
Air of a warm supporting
Presence that embraced this,
Saw everything and recognized it.
His eyes became fixated then
On the flame of the candle,
Mesmerized by how it moved…

Then eyes appeared in the flame,
Happy, and blinking, watching
Him…and then a face, smiling
Full of joy and greeting. Before
He knew it, it happened so fast…
There was an immense flash of
Light behind him. And when he
Turned, a towering glowing figure
Appeared, dressed in flowing robes
With swirling lights in all colors
All around him. It was
A man with a beard, chiseled
Radiating wisdom and strength
Of the Heavens and the Universe.
He stared at Jon and seemed
To glide towards him…Jon was
In awe, it was like being in
The presence of something pure,
Powerful and divine…but
Overwhelming in the same. Before
He knew it…This man, this
Angel reached out his hand and
Stuck it straight into his forehead…
And drew pictures in his head…
Symbols, words, codes…and endless
Array of things…for 33 minutes.
Once he finished, he withdrew
His hand…and nodded once looking
Kindly but powerfully at Jon
As if to say to his mind…
‘Now you know.’

Then Jon nodded in return, but
The only word his shocked mind
Could find to say was… ‘Oh.’
There was no will then, only the
Undeniable need to do…beyond
Control, only the timely flawless response.
And Jon drew more after,
Only stronger…as if a clock
And secret had been put there
To come out when it should.

He passed out afterwards, but when
He awoke, his eyes were awake
More than ever before from then
On. Only those around him noticed
The change, for others it was as
Though they were seeing through a
Dark veil and they saw nothing
At all. Regardless, what was put
There wakes up and opens when it
Has to.

And strangely again…the next
Day another mysterious visitor came
Knocking at the door.





  1. Susan Seddon Boulet [1941-1997] Brazilian-born American painter, was born in Brazil of british parents who had emigrated from South Africa. Ms. Boulet’s early childhood was spent on a large citrus and cattle ranch. She loved the connection to nature offered by farm life and enjoyed a rich fantasy life fed by folk tales told her by her father and by the farmworkers.
    Published January 24, 2013
    Written by Tutt’Art Bihiku

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