It was nearly winter in the Wilderness of North America, but this time the machines had been running for so long that it was neither cold nor impassible, nor even vaguely uncomfortable. It was still leather Jacket season just a week before the Christ Mass. And Sebastian Adon, this time in his own body and grounded in reality was humming and strolling with his hands in the brown leather jacket he’d owned for fifteen years. It sowed as much.
Alkaline, the Jamaican philosopher says ‘Everything in life just takes time,’ and that was the song in his head and that song sustained him. It was the water to parched lips and limbs and it was the kiss before jumping out a plane into the black sky of night.
In Hebrew, ‘he’ means ‘she’ and ‘who’ means him. And right now though, for the first time in a while since he became a civilian again; he; was Sebastian Adon and wasn’t using any fake papers, faces or nationalities. And she was Valentina Stanovova, aloof and whimsical and strangely interested in checking up on him.
He hadn’t heard from her in four and some months.
After the scary episode of fourth dimensional travel, her accusations in the Air Bathhouse, the wearing of the German suit for the first time. He was shook up, and even deleted her social security number and cell phone too. He knew he was gonna get out gunned, out spent, out classed and quick too. She was so real and so powerful, he had not been near magic like that since, and well dare he even say.
Curiously the next time Valentina Stanavova popped into his life; it was via an email inviting him to go ice skating in the globally jeans and t shirt warm late December in Bryant Park; filled with those who skate fast and those who dash their booties hard on the ice for all to see. And Sebastian Adon remembered that he used to roller blade when he was young which could not be conceptually much different. He hoped.
It was only her smile and little hand clasping his that prevented him from becoming a casualty of the ice and hoypaloyik mobs flying by all around them. She was so patient, she let him take her hand and slow her down and they spun by, several times he almost toppled them both. This was nothing like sky diving, nothing like gun play, nothing like painting, nothing like giving public speeches, nothing like evasive driving, nothing like hard fucking; nothing at all like several of things he believed he was good for. This was so pleasant. And it wasn’t very cold at all, and he genuinely felt that Ms. Stanavova didn’t judge him. Didn’t have man expectations at all.
Around they went. He was happiest holding her hand though she pushed him to find balance on his own, as many women ultimately did. There seemed like hundreds of people watching them, pointing waiting for people to wipe out. He’d give them a run for their money.
I’ll tell you what the strangest part was. She couldn’t read his mind so she didn’t see him scanning the crowd for a suicide bomber to blow apart all these happy people. She didn’t hear him ask himself were they being watched, all the paranoia of all his other work.
She couldn’t hear him being crazy, basically. Because this was the temple mount, this was the top of the citadel. There weren’t gonna be any bombings here. This wasn’t a backwater colony on the edge of the empire, like say Tel Aviv. This was a hard an monitored place.
“You know” she says, “you can buy a pair of skates on Amazon, we can make a little habit out of all this,” and she smiles at him. And he breaks his mental train of thought about wondering what year it was.
“I should, I mean I like it,” he replies.
The skate on and then she heads to the center of the rink to practice her precision amid some little cones. He mostly watches. The war is so far away, it was maybe like; there was no war?
“I love skating so much, I love all winter sports; do you ski or snow board, maybe we can make a trip later on, when I come back.”
She was always coming or going this little architect. She was supposed to have been visiting family in Russia, but had ended up in Hong Kong. She was soon to be off for Brazil, but who knew it was all so effortless her various movements. She had changed her architecture firm about four times since they met, maybe that was normal. She was an artful dodger, filled with wanderlust like him, but perhaps with more means to act on it casually. She was either wealthy herself or had a patron, like everyone else in this city.
A massive airship was moving directly above the city New Jersey bound, these ‘floating fortresses’ were massive cold fusion powered leviathans. They could wipe out whole cities, they housed vast drone fleets and terra drone soldiers for mop ups. Actually no one could see it seemed, but him. He’d seen on brought down over Strong Island two years before in the Battle of Brooklyn Soviet.
“Stop day dreaming droog, look at me, look at my moves!” she says and executes a little spin twist, twirl.
“How now!” he smiles.
Was it real? The airship and the Battle of Brooklyn? Can his soul be loaded like a wetware microchip into a German businessman’s flesh suit? Was that real, did that happen? Did the map that he had seen in the bunker on avenue J indicate that the elevation of Manhattan, therefore the entirety of the Isle of Man citadel was actually almost 40,000 kilometers above sea level; therefore like a veritable mountain above the mostly flat Brooklyn Soviet? Was it disguised by hologram?
“You’re doing it again Sebastian,” she laughs, “you’re spacing away when you should be here with me. Are you having fun with me?”
“I’m having more fun than I’ve had in a year,” he says, which is true as this is very fun and you cannot line up tantric sex and ice skating, because they are not even the same category of fun. His last couple ex-girlfriends were not that ‘fun’.
“I’m happy too, this is great,” Valentina says and they return into the fray of clockwise movement, dashing, darting, moving fast and slow.
Had he ever been ice skating in this decade? No, he doubted it. This memory pops into his head suddenly; of the ice cracking, or shattering and his falling into a frozen lake and then, black.
“We could try more places too,” she says. She notices he’s taken her hand again even though maybe he doesn’t need to, she lets it go, and he is a sweetheart. A beautiful minded Amerikanski, so rare.
The Bryant Park rink closes and they’re sitting in his battered white Civic sipping tea.
There are these rules the Resistance codified called the ‘Security Culture’ it’s an understanding that you can be recorded almost anywhere, but cars, homes and public places are always recorded. Cell phone microphones are always on, even though most think it wipes out your battery quickly to real time record. Sending anything electronically is all recorded. Searching for anything unorthodox is flagged. Public libraries are all flagged. You basically can’t have a secure conversation except on a hike, with no phone, in a bathhouse, except the ones already wired up, you can have one by passing had written notes. Was he going to pass her the note that he wrote, not this time.
All smiles and tea, all free loving and also quick to block him out for months on end with no explanation other than she was busy, or a family emergency. What were they going to do with each other.
He offered to drive her home, and she said simply, “I’m not sleeping at my home tonight.” And that broke his heart a little that that was so overt.
Boyfriends and husbands never stopped him much before, but it was 2016 soon, it was time to have a higher opinion of oneself. He’s never even thought to try and kiss her, it just hadn’t been appropriate, and wasn’t now. They sipped more tea.
Waited to part company soon, the white bent up, economical Honda Civic faced East on 42nd street, parked next to the Grand Library where he used to study medicine with Ariel Elmallay. Just several clicks ahead was the United Nations building whose big white tower could be hit by almost any errant rocket fired from the coast of Breuklyn Soviet, visually speaking but in reality to hit that tower would require Iranian fire power, not made in Brooklyn basements; because it was an illusion that the World Trade Center, the UN Building and Empire State building could be seen from places like Dumbo or Williamsburg; an illusion! Rockets couldn’t easily hit these edifices because they were high above, higher than third dimensional perception allowed. He knew that to be true, like he knows he is a lefty.
Maybe he’s drifting so far away because he knows there isn’t anyone to center him back, no one who cares to take the risk to do that work. Certainly not her.
“I wonder what you’re doing with me,” he says.
“I enjoy your mind a lot.”
“What if I didn’t want to see you again?”
“I would discourage that, we have fun don’t we. Don’t cheat me out of clean fun.”
“You make me feel marginal you know, you’re real busy. I for the very first time have too much time to know what to do with. But I don’t have anything to offer you, I have dirty job, a shitty car. No money.”
“You have a lot more than most. Your mind is exciting and I would never encourage you to not see me, but you need to respect my time and my; shall we say circumstances.”
“I think I will develop feelings for you and ruin the little magic you might feel.”
“Take whatever risk you must.”
“What am I good for?”
“Remains to be seen.”
“Do you remember the last time we were together?” he asks her.
“Live in the moment Sebastian, droog, wake up, this is all real. I go to Brazil in 5 days, there will be no time to see you before I go, it’s not personal. I’m working on a complex structure at work, something like was always talked of; a hanging garden above central park! Exciting right, as we always talked about.”
They had been on four or five or six dates, some were not really dates some were just sweet palavers, maybe they all were since she had a boyfriend or a husband or a patron or a keeper and they’d not even done more than barely hold hands on ice.
The second date he told her an idea of building a floating pleasure garden above central park and it stuck in her head and now she had done it; she had found the backers to erect such a thing and political will bought to uphold that plan.
“You’re so impressive,” he tells her.
As long as he’s known her he’s though so.
“Wonderful that you think so, I think so too, about us both.”
“Well what now?” he asks, “when again will I see you?
She hands him a little envelope and inside it is a picture of her looking blonde and ravishing shot by a professional photographer. There is a red lip stick kiss on it. Some numbers are written on the back. There’s a lot of reason to believe he shouldn’t call those numbers. But he will.
“I’m worth so much to so many, just go slowly,” she says.
“I don’t know when you’ll see me again, but I know you won’t forget me,” she says.
“You’re sweet,” he says.
“Don’t get a cavity,” she replies.
A great Rabbi once said ‘in love don’t ever come empty handed’, but he did. He didn’t have anything to give her before she left, just a letter he wrote in the glove compartment, but he wasn’t gonna open it now. It wasn’t even sentimental like her photo, although a few guys probably had that photo for Christmas, whoever she was going to Brazil with something better still. Maybe, but maybe that was all a story in his head. Maybe she was sweet. Honestly, who knew?
The things I might do, he thinks.
“The things you might do, is why I keep coming back to you,” she says.
“Can I take you on a real date after Brazil?”
“You can try.”
“I’m going to think about you a lot when you’re gone,” he says.
“Not too much,” she says, “just enough so a smile forms on your lips and then it passes. Not like your other girls, not like anything before. Think about me until it hurts, and stop there. Think about your future.”
“When you come back from Brazil, it will be the future.”
“That’s true. I must go, please know that I have never had any intention of hurting you.”
“Good bye, have fun in Brazil.”
“I will. Have fun wherever you are.”
And they kiss professionally on the cheek only one time, and she get out of the car and takes of briskly into the streets and the night.
And he is sure he will never see her again. But he’s thought that before. The Civic takes off down 42nd street heading to the FDR where a bridge, an illusionary bridge between two words or a tunnel, a paid tunnel will take him back to the tiny Brooklyn safe house he is staying on Avenue J and Coney Island Ave. His body hurts, he’s uncomfortable in his own skin.