A chance meeting changes everything.
| I was here on assignment, and I was late. Wearing my bright green “Christmas” coat, hurrying out of Macy’s with my purse, and packages, I ran headlong into the bell ringing Santa Claus.
We went down in a heap of flailing arms, legs, green wool, red velvet, and white fur. The coin pot tumbled over, spilling coins. My packages, and purse sliding away in four different directions.
“Oh no!” I cried. “Now I’ll never make my rendezvous.”
Santa and I untangled ourselves and got to our feet. I looked for my purse and found it, as Santa began retrieving my packages.
“I’m ever so sorry Mr…Mr…Claus? Mr…Kringle?
Smiling he said: “You can call me Karl, ma’am. Don’t feel bad. This happens more often than you think. This was a good one though. You were really moving along there. Heading for an important meeting I guess. At least I’ll have a story for the guys down at the mission tonight.”
I began helping him to find spilled coins like only a woman can. Pointing I said: “There’s one! And there’s another. I think you got them all. Good job! And yes, ummm…Karl did you say? I am hurrying to an important meeting, but it is more than that. It is a rendezvous”.
Karl’s demeanor seemed to change. “A rendezvous,” he repeated shortly, as he stood the tripod and attached the coin bucket. “Forgive me, but I didn’t take you for a “rendezvous” kind of girl. You better get going. I don’t want to keep you from your affair.”
“I sense some disapproval in your voice, and attitude sir. Whatever do you mean, “rendezvous kind of girl?” I am an adult, human woman, am I not? I can move freely through your society. I can speak with whom I please, and “rendezvous” with whomever I decide. Is that not correct?”
Karl sighed. In a weary voice, he said: “Yes, ma’am. You have every right as an adult, human woman, to lie, cheat, and rendezvous with whomever you decide. Never mind the wreckage in your wake. And don’t forget, the one you are seeing, most likely, leaves wreckage as well. Those of us left behind will persevere.”
“Karl! Now you’re scaring me. Wreckage? What wreckage? Has there been a crash? Was there a malfunction? Please, let’s sit on the bench here, and you can explain.”
“No, Ms…Ms…I guess I don’t know your name.”
“You can call me Amy”
Well, Amy, it’s almost time for me to knock off for the day. Besides, what could I say that would affect your decision to have an affair.”
“An affair? Why, I had an affair just last night. My office held a huge party for all of us. The invitation card read: “You’re Invited to a Splendid Holiday Affair.” And it was too. I gathered so much information. I cannot wait to get home and report.”
“Ok, Amy. It’s cold out here. Don’t you have to get going?”
“Well, I see I won’t make my five-p.m. rendezvous. But don’t worry, I have another rendezvous at six.”
“You’re a busy girl, Amy. I have to go. Have a nice life.”
“Karl, won’t you please stay, maybe have coffee with me at the shop across the street? I think there are things I can learn from you.”
“Like…like, why you seem so upset with me. What have I done? Except plow into you, knock you down and spill your bucket, I mean. You seem so angry about office affairs, and a woman having a rendezvous. I need to find out why. Please, just a short cup of coffee?”
“You really don’t get it, do you Amy?”
“Get what, Karl? Help me understand.”
“Okay, tell you what. I’ll go change and drop off my bucket at the mission, then meet you at the coffee shop in ten minutes. Good enough?”
“Thank you, Karl. I really appreciate this.”
“Yeah well, you might not say that after our meeting. See you in ten.”
I gathered my packages, walked a block, and rode the elevator to the penthouse apartment. Entering the code, the door opened. Clare was there hovering as usual. Taking my coat and hat, making funny noises at the dirt and wet spots, then whisking away to clean them.
Changing in a flash, I packed my luggage, to be ready for my six-pm rendezvous. Clare returned with my coat and hat, each freshly cleaned.
Before closing my suitcase, I informed her that she was no longer needed, and could retire. In a flash, she complied.
Donning my coat and hat, grabbing the small suitcase, I left for my meeting with Karl.
Arriving, I saw that Karl was already there. I smiled broadly, and walked briskly to his table. Setting my suitcase down, still beaming, I seated myself across from him.
“Wow, Amy. That’s quite a smile. You’re not making this any easier, you know. I hope you’re still smiling later. What would you like? Coffee? Cappuccino? Latte? It’s on me.”
“No, Karl! I’m buying. It’s the least I can do after knocking you down and making you angry. I’m so glad you agreed to talk to me. I’m celebrating the holidays, with a large Latte, gingerbread cream, cinnamon sprinkles, and chocolate shavings. You want one? Or something else? I hear their Espresso is very good.”
“Just black coffee for me. I don’t feel much like celebrating this year. What’s in the suitcase?”
“Just a few things needed for travel, and my traveling companion, Clare. She goes with me everywhere.”
“Clare, huh. What is she? A doll or something? A stuffed animal?
“Something like that. She helps me in times of difficulty and gives me a lot of security. But I have to ask you Karl, it’s such a festive time of year, everyone having splendid affairs and wonderful rendezvous’ all season long. Why are you so glum?”
“Listen, Amy, I’m confused. Nobody can be this naïve. Surely you know what you are saying, or, what people assume, when you say you’re having an affair or a rendezvous.”
Conversation stopped as our drinks arrived. When the waitress left, I said:
“I’m glad you are confused Karl. I’ve been confused since I “bumped” into you. Apparently, there is some meaning to these words that has changed or I have forgotten.”
“Amy! What planet have you been on? A rendezvous is a meeting between two people, usually not married, to…to…”
“To what, Karl?”
“To…you know…spend time together…alone…in the bedroom? Are you getting it? Don’t make me say it, Amy. It hurts too much.
“Ohhhhh…ahem…ahhh…mmmm. You mean “that.”
“Yes, Amy, “that.” And when you say “affair”, it means a longer-term relationship with someone other than your spouse. Several rendezvous’ equals an affair for more of “that”. Get it?”
I was shocked. I had indeed, forgotten. Placing my head in my hands, I leaned closer, spoke softly:
“Oh, Karl. I’m so sorry. I get it now. I had no idea. No wonder the girls at the office would giggle and snicker. Why would they laugh at such terrible betrayals?
“I don’t know, Amy. It is the bane of our society. No loyalty to anything, or anyone, beyond the immediate gratification of self. I don’t know how people do it? I really don’t”
“Oh, my goodness! And there I was, walking around talking about rendezvous’ and affairs like they were normal everyday things. When you said wreckage, I thought you meant a vehicle crash, but you meant a relationship crash, right Karl?”
I waited as he looked up, then out the window, then back to me. With tears, he said:
“Last year, at Christmas, my wife of 14 years left me for another man. The affair had been going on for months. I never knew. A week before Christmas I discovered she’d emptied our bank accounts, and was gone. I got the divorce papers in the mail. We had no kids, but the man had a wife and three children. He left them destitute. Wreckage. So much wreckage, Amy.
“I reached across, laid my hand on his. “Karl, I would never involve myself in any person’s life, that was married. Marriage in my world, is sacred. The great King designed it as an expression of himself and his relationship with us. Purity, loyalty, fidelity. They are our highest ideals. We are not to use our bodies for sport. Everyone knows that. This wreckage, Karl. I don’t know how, but you must get past this. You are a fine human being. I fear this grief and loss will take a heavy toll upon you.”
“And anger, and bitterness, and rage, Amy. Let’s not forget those. My guts are all knotted up, most every day.
I took both of his hands in mine, looked into his eyes, and said:
“You need to forgive your wife, Karl. And this man who trampled on your life. Forgive him too. If you don’t, the bitterness will eat you up and destroy you. Don’t give them that power.”
“Maybe I need to get out of this town, Amy. Go someplace new. Start a new life?
“Do you mean that Karl? Because if you do, I can make it happen.”
“What will you do? Wave a magic wand? Click your heels and take us to Kansas?
“Not exactly, Karl. But if you will trust me, I can take you on great adventures. Allow you to see places you would never dream of. What do you say?”
“I don’t know Amy. I like you and all. And I’m supremely glad you are not a cheating wife or the “other woman” to some cheating husband, but…”
“Come with me Karl, we’ll go to my next rendezvous together. Oh dear! I mean, my next portal call.”
“Portal call. What’s a portal call”
“Come now, and I’ll show you.”
I threw a twenty on the table, took Karl’s hand and led him out, down two blocks, up the alley and into an alcove filled with dumpsters.
“Amy, where are you taking me? It may not be safe for us back here.”
“Oh, it’s safe enough, Karl. Maybe safer than anywhere on your planet. This little space is watched and guarded closely. And, we have Clare.”
“Guarded by whom? Who is Clare?”
“Clare is my Servebot, Karl. We are very safe with her.”
Smiling, I opened my suitcase. “Clare, I need you!”
In a flash, Clare was hovering soundlessly beside us. “What is it you require Miss Amy?
Karl looked closely at Clare. “Clare is flying soup can?”
“Not a soup can, Karl. Rather, C.L.A.R.E. is a Coaxially – Latent – Armored – Reflexive – Entity. She is not sentient as you and I define it, but she is alive, and she learns. I have had her for almost 70 years now. She has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. Uh Oh! Is that the correct idiom? I’m afraid of saying something silly now. You’ll tell me won’t you, Karl?”
“Of course, Amy. If you’ll do the same for me when we get to your world.”
I beamed a megawatt smile. “So, you’ll come with me, Karl?
“Sure, why not. I’m miserable here, and you seem to make me feel lighter, and happier already. Let’s go have some adventures!”
“Okay, if you’re sure. It’s almost six-p.m.
“I’m sure, Amy.”
“Okay, Clare, initiate the portal”
As we stood there, holding hands, Clare opened the portal.
“What do you see Karl?”
“I don’t see anything…wait, I see a tiny flickering light. Like a tiny star shimmering in the air, not 3 feet away. What is it, Amy?”
“It’s the portal. One of millions, it’s a long, hyper-galactic magnetic filament stretching for light years off into eternity. We’ve learned to travel on them. This is my rendezvous point. The light you see is the sun that revolves around the planet, Shareth. It’s my planet now, Karl. We can be there in a few moments.”
“Your planet? And the sun revolves around it?”
Our solar system is Shareth-centric. The laws of physics are different there. We age at a tiny fraction of the rate of humans on earth. You would live for many thousands of years on Shareth, Karl.
And this Shareth, your planet, is where you want to take me for adventure?
“Yes, Karl. That, and more. I’ve been sent to learn what I could about the earth and the society here, and then report back. I’m offering you a chance to come with me. You can teach us. After I report on earth, I will be sent to another world to study. You can accompany me. We could be a team of modern explorers. Isn’t it the most exciting thing?”
“Another world to study? How many are there?
“Would it surprise you to know, Karl. That of the thousands of inhabitable planets in this galaxy alone, the only sentient life forms are human?”
“I have a lot to learn I guess. I’m ready to go, when you are, Amy.”
“Wait, Karl. I can’t have you calling me Amy anymore. Amy, is my 2017 earth name. I was born, oddly enough, right here, on earth in 1897. I left the earth in 1937 after flying my plane into a rogue portal. When I arrived on Shareth, they made me an intergalactic explorer. Allow me to introduce myself.”
Extending my hand, I said: “Hello Karl, dear friend, and fellow explorer. I’m Amelia Earhart.”