Valiant: Knock Knock…The Sandman…The Gift…Part 18…

All through the night the wind blew
And howled with brief sprinkles
Of snow beneath a starry sky. It
Almost seemed like star dust, some
Fragile mysterious and magical gift
For the season. Then it all lifted
To a calmer dawn full of color
For a silent Christmas morning.

It had been such a hard year, a
Quiet morning in itself felt like a
Gift. But it had been too tough
To spare much for a festive holiday,
So most only minorly indulged that
Year. They had only simple meals
And were grateful for little things
And instead poured their hopes into
The times ahead and prayed for a
Better year to come.

Fortunately, Jon’s mind was too
Overwhelmed with private events to
Even consider Christmas. His family
Was quieter since most were so ill….
And there were still the chores to be
Done on the farm; yes, even on the
Holidays there was work to do. The
Best way they celebrated was to treat
That day as a day of prayer, and do
Nothing special really at all.

The Christmas season came and went
Then…and a new year began.

1560 Nuremberg, Germany

January rolled in with snow and lots
Of it…. Again fortunately, these were
Typical days with normal work and
Nothing unusual. There were chores
And solemn brief rationed meals and
Long quiet nights…which were great
For dreams and hope. Jon had lots of
Dreams, beyond control, and more
Than he could ever count. From the
Less interesting ones of doing chores
And boring things, like eating…to
Wild dreams of places that made no
Sense…of shiny cities and far off places,
And lands that he never knew or saw.
And some times with people he met that
Seemed familiar but weren’t…dressed
So strangely that it almost seemed like
They were from another time.

His mind went on such adventures in
His sleep, if he only knew how to write
He could have written books and books…
Full of stories no one would believe. But
In his family stories weren’t worth much,
Except maybe on a patient holiday over
Dinner…and then, it had better be a GOOD
Story to tell. to tell.

He tried to remember his favorite ones,
But many just got lost over time. Thinking
About them did entertain him while he
Did chores however. He just figured that’s
What most people did. But whenever he asked
Others about their dreams, most only said
That they couldn’t remember theirs much.

‘You have to focus on what you’re doing.’
His father always said. ‘Stop daydreaming.’

Then Jon would nod. He understood slowly
Over time. People must have confused
Daydreaming with the dreams at night, which
Were vastly different to him. The ones at night
He had no control over, those also said the
Most. But then it’s a matter of experience.

And on the days went. January rolled into
February the same way, snow. Then February
Into March…more snow, and then with times
Of snow and rain AND mud. The winter
Just could not decide if it wanted to see
The ground or not.

Then Finally the mud won, the snow
Melted and fresh new green sprouted
From everywhere. And spring finally
Came…with lots of work to do. By the
Time the meadows around the farm
Were thick and lush with new grass, the
Ground was ready for planting. Jon and
His grandfather set what seed crops
They had into the soil, then with
Whatever time he had left he spent
Grazing their goats and livestock, and
Resting as he watched them. Very slowly
He built his strength back up this way
Until he was as strong as he was before,
If not a little bit better. His own health
Issues had literally reshaped him so much
This way that he literally transformed
Into a different person…

One spring day in late April
Jon was taking the goats to a familiar
Meadow by the river…It was a place
Remembered well but never talked
About. He brought the goats into the
Open grass between the trees when
He paused as he heard someone
Whistling by the water. He left their
Herd to graze then carefully and quietly
Followed the sound…

There, by the river’s edge standing with
His pants rolled up his legs so that his
Bare feet nearly touched the water
Stood a young man about his age…
Whistling cheerfully holding out a
Pole that he was preparing for fishing.
He had olive skin and dark hair,
Good-looking features and had this
Carefree sense of delight about him.
Jon didn’t recognize him at all as
One of the local villagers so he had to
Be someone new to the area.

Jon watched him carefully and was
So curious to know how the stranger
Came to pick this spot. He laughed
To himself a quiet secret about the
Water then approached him kindly…
And stood a generous difference away
Just to let him know that he was there.

‘What’s the matter,’ The young
Man said to him slightly sarcastically.
‘Haven’t you ever seen anyone fish
Before?’

Jon held his eyes low then smiled.
‘You won’t catch many fish here at
This part of the river. They gather
More downstream…where the water
Starts to settle.’

The young man bit his lip. Then he
Eyed Jon a bit embarrassed and
Released a big grin. ‘Ah well,’ he
Said lowering his rod, ‘It looked
Nice here.’

‘You don’t fish much?’ Jon asked
Humbly as he noted the stranger’s
Accent.

‘I fish.’ The young man half laughed.
‘I fish plenty. I was just hungry. Did
You come to tell me that?’

‘No, I was just trying to help.’
Jon told him.

‘You could just say, Hello, then.’ The
Young man said.

‘Hello.’ Jon laughed.

‘Hello.’ The young man smiled. ‘I’m
Matthias. Nice to meet you.’

‘I’m Jon.’ He greeted back. ‘My
Family lives over there,’ he nodded,
‘Past the meadow through the woods.
Are you new here or just passing through?’

‘Just passing through.’ Matthias told
Him. ‘I’m moving around right now…
Trying to see places, find some place
Nice.’

‘Oh.’ Jon only said.

Matthias stood there trying to decide
What to do next, he was so hungry. ‘So
Jon, you want to help me fish?’

Jon smiled. ‘Well, I can’t…I have to
Watch our goats.’

They stood for a moment in awkward
Silence. ‘Well, are you just going to stand
There staring?’ Matthias laughed. ‘I was
Thinking of peeing next. You want to
Watch me pee in the river? I could go right
Here.’

Then Jon let out a laugh. This guy was a
Real character. He hadn’t seen that in a
Long time. ‘I’m sorry, I’m not used to
Talking much. Listen, if you’re hungry…
I have some bred for lunch…you can have
It. I don’t mind.’

‘You would give me your lunch?’
Matthias asked curiously.

‘You said you were hungry.’ Jon said.
‘You can have some…Then maybe I
Can help you find a place to catch a
Fish.’

Matthias smiled. ‘Just like that?’

‘Yes. Why?’ Jon asked.

‘Sorry, I’m just used to…conditions
With offers.’ Matthias confessed. ‘From
Where I am from…nothing is free.
Everybody always wants something.’

Jon nodded, he quickly understood.
‘From where I am from people
Usually take without asking.’

Then Matthias nodded, then somehow
He quickly understood as well. Some
Are sincere, others are just always
Suspicious. It all depends on the experiences.
‘You don’t have to give me your lunch.
I wouldn’t take it.’

‘You said you were hungry.’ Jon said.
‘I know that look.’

‘Thank you.’ Matthias replied. ‘I honestly
Would like that. I wouldn’t normally do
Something like this, but- ‘

‘You don’t have to say anything.’ Jon
Told him. He turned slowly and waved for
Him to follow him, and led Matthias to
His favorite spot beneath a fir tree where
He left a little bundle of bread rolled up
In a scarf where he could sit and watch
The goats. He unwrapped it then broke
The bread in half and gave it to him.
Then quietly they sat and ate together.

‘So,’ Matthias finally said, ‘You gave
Me your bread…We’re sitting here
Watching your goats…Are you one of
Those small village farm boys curious to
Hear wild stories of the big cities from some
Travelling vagabond of the world?’

‘Wild stories?’ Jon laughed curiously.

‘Yes, you know. You farm boys
Don’t get out and see much of the
World…’ Matthias said kindly but
Proudly, very sure he had seen so much.
‘No offense.’

Jon ate his bread slowly with big eyes.
‘I’ve been some places, seen some
Things…. I have my own stories.’

‘Oh really?’ Matthias was very amused
By this. ‘Well, I am from Venice. Have
You ever heard of there?’

‘Italy?’ Jon asked.

‘You know about Italy?’ Matthias
Seemed surprised. ‘You know I read
People pretty well, Jon…’

‘Alright.’ Jon only said.

‘I bet…’ Matthias went on as he
Leaned on his bent knee and scratched
His chin, ‘That your family is one of
Those sweet little village farm families…
Where everyone smiles all the time, and
Kisses each other good night…You
Eat quiet happy meals together and make
Small talk about the BIG world out there…
I bet you have some family here…and there…
And they took you to the city a few times,
And you saw some things…it was all
SO BIG…And you just decided it was all
So BIG and wild and crazy that you would
Rather stay hiding in some little village
And be a farmer like your dad…. To make
Your family proud. How’s that?’

‘Why would you say that?’ Jon laughed
Looking down as he chewed on his bread
Slowly.

‘Because you have that look.’ Matthias
Told him.

‘No.’ Jon laughed shaking his head with
His head down. ‘No…its not like that.
I am tough one to read. Not a single person
Has ever read me right. People really
Assume a lot.’

‘Oh?’ Matthias was curious now. ‘Well,
Would it surprise you or scare you to hear
That I was a Wildman in the city? I’ve
Done a little of this, a little of that…I’m
A tough one to read too.’

‘No, not at all.’ Jon simply replied. ‘That
Wouldn’t surprise me at all.’

‘Why?’ Matthias asked.

‘Because I’ve known some like that.’
Jon answered kindly. ‘I’ve known some
Like that…a variety of people.’

‘You have?’ Matthias said with surprise.

‘It’s tough to read some people no
Matter how hard you try.’ Jon responded.
‘Does that matter? I know when someone
Is fun or interesting to talk to.’

Matthias grinned, he had to admit to
Himself that he liked hearing that. ‘I
Have to say, Jon…I like you.’

‘Thank you.’ Jon said with another laugh.
‘You know…I’ve found that…the ones that
Talk so much don’t always have the most
Interesting things to say. They talk to talk,
Or talk to find company…And that’s okay…
But it’s the quieter ones that usually have
The most amazing stories inside.’

Matthias thought for a moment then nodded.
‘I like that…To be honest, there are things
That I have seen, and done…no one would
Believe…or want to hear. Not that I could
Tell anyone…. or want to. Ah, it doesn’t
Matter. You should NEVER spill it all
Out there for everyone ever. That would be
Crazy. You always have to hold something
Back just for you.’

‘Oh, I agree with you.’ Jon nodded. ‘I
Could never share every story. It would
Be too much to believe.’

‘Alright, I’m curious.’ Matthias had to say.
‘Could you…share one with me?’

Jon laughed again with his head down.
He took a deep breath, then told Matthias
About a dream he had of a place like
Paradise…. About these strange lights
That he saw in the sky sometimes….
And about these handsome strangers
That took him places and told him things.
He tried to describe things are best he
Could without saying it all.

Matthias just sat quietly listening
With eyes that grew bigger and bigger.
He said nothing however until Jon was
Finished, then they just there eyeing
Each other silently.

‘So, what do you think about that story?’
Jon asked a little nervously.

‘I can believe that.’ Matthias replied
Calmly. ‘Yes, I can believe that. Are
You surprised?’

‘A little.’ Jon answered wide-eyed.
‘I’ve never told anyone about that. I
Was expecting…a laugh. I don’t know.’

‘No, I have seen some strange things.
STRANGE THINGS.’ Matthias replied
Slowly, almost carefully. ‘Tell me…what
Were they like, these people? I’m curious.’

‘They looked amazing.’ Jon said with awe.
‘In this one place I saw mostly men…They
Were tall, really strongly built…AMAZING
Looking. I felt like a dwarf.’

‘Really?’ Matthias was surprised to hear
That. ‘You look tall to me. That tall?’

‘Yes, taller than me. Even the women
That I saw were tall, and AMAZING.’ Jon
Told him eagerly, excited to share this
Story with someone. ‘But I saw men
Mostly…All dressed the same, in either
Blue or white. I think this one place that
They showed me…was a library. It was
Like they were…trying to show me
Something.’

‘Show you what?’ Matthias asked
Curiously.

‘I don’t know. A book I think.’ Jon
Answered awkwardly. ‘Not that I can
Read…I think, they talked about…
Something called…The Geometry
Of the Senses.’ He nodded to himself
Then. ‘Yes, I think that is what I heard
Them say. I don’t know.’ He said
Shaking his head. ‘I can’t remember.
It was just all so amazing to see.’

‘It sounds that way.’ Matthias only
Said, then paused a moment before
Going on. ‘I’ve heard stories…about
People…seeing lights in the sky. At
Night mostly. And seeing…other
Things…’

‘Other things?’ Jon asked. ‘What things?
Things like I told you about?’

‘NO.’ Matthias responded shaking his
Head with a hard laugh. ‘NO, not like
That…Usually, what I heard that they
Saw…frightens them.’

‘Frightens them?’ Jon asked really
Curious now…But just then, as if
The timing were matched eerily somehow
To their words…he suddenly noticed a flock
Of birds emerge over the trees from
The left…

Both of them looked up to
Notice the sight and rushing sound
The birds made as they took flight.
‘What’s with the birds?’

Jon studied them quickly, catching
As many details as he could. The
Way they moved, the sensation
That filled the air as they flew.
‘They’re in panic…something
Frightened them…’

Then they rose to their feet to
Watch the birds fly and race away,
Then they turned in different
Directions to watch and listen for
A reason…People, animals maybe?
No…There was nothing like that
To bring alarm at first. Then Jon
Caught it first, the noise…there
Was this hum-like sound filling
The area. And then they began
To notice a mist rolling in gently
Through the trees across the
Meadow. It began to attract the
Goats attention then…and the
Animals froze.

‘What’s that?’ Matthias asked.
‘In the trees over there…on
A sunny day? Fog?’

Jon grew nervous, his inside began
To feel cold. He didn’t like it. ‘I’m
Not sure.’

‘Want to go have a look?’ Matthias
Asked eagerly.

Jon just eyed him trying to fight
His growing uneasiness. He was
Dreading something strange happening.
‘Have a look?’ He questioned.

‘Yeah, come on. Live a little.’ Matthias
Teased.

Jon wanted to laugh at the words.
He had enough to fill his curiosity.

‘Come on, it’s probably nothing.’
Matthias only laughed.

A strained moment of reflection
And the sense of something to
Come just seemed to block out
Reason. ‘Yeah, probably nothing…’

Matthias just seemed to hop at
A little adventure, then he waved
To Jon to follow and led the way
As he trotted across the meadow
Towards the spreading mist. Jon
Reluctantly followed, his eyes
Watching everything else…the
Trees…the sky, the goats…

Something was building with each
Step. The mist kept pouring out
Into the meadow, the sound of the
Hum only grew…And thunderheads
Began to tumble in above them
Across the sky. And somewhere in the
Forest ahead, then…lights began to flash.

Valiant.

 

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