Wandering the trader’s market on a hot, blustery, afternoon, in the coastal town of Abdera, a sudden gust fell a canopy over the paving to foot. Doubled down against Apollo’s blow, eager to find reason in responsibility, I lifted my face to the sting of a mean wind, shunted a couple of over poles, some torn canvas and ties, back up, to a safer place. A guard sprang out of nowhere, like a demented hyena scrambling over the other for the blood of a flaying elk. Overwhelmed by his wild gesticulations, the verbiage swept aside by the incoming squall, methought he leapt in to make an arrest and colluding to the habit of a lifetime nearly messed up.

When the shock and shake subsided, the heart settled back in the chest, it became clear he was thanking me, in the same breath inviting me to a talk, starting imminently, at the odeum nearby…

With the greatest of thanks… I shouted, at odds with the braying wind, I’ve another place I have to be…  

Please! he yelled, you will find it of great interest!

Who’s the speaker? I bellowed, not wanting to offend.

A master’s master, with a wealth of esoteric theories to his name!

A splattering of rain, bringing up the rear of a gigantic clap of thunder, hit the cobbles letting off steam… The subject!? I cried, wondering if it wouldn’t be a good idea.

In apparent empty air, he reveals space to wonder… a time to laugh and cry… a time to turn…

Sounds perfect, I replied, at the top of my voice.

Chasing his tail, running from one cover to another, avoiding a marinade, I ended up at the back of a small arena, where the well-seated timbre of a man’s voice greeted the ear.

…you may not notice the change creeping up through the subterranean cortex, you may not care how the drama takes hold… while we think on other things, the frame of an unwritten law, a legislation commanding entrance through an invisible vortex, transports us there… if we destroy that law, the gateway to mastering our demons is lost… the story, essential for our resolve, stolen from the air… leaving us undone, broken and alone…

Mixed in with a motley crew, seeking shelter from the escalating storm, the Athenian chitons, wrapped across the shoulders, told the eye that a scattering of scholarly minds littered the temple.

…where or how we engage with the comedies, the tragedies, be it in a beautiful building, on open ground, inside a container, a grand amphitheatre, or under a tree, if the story does what it sets out to do, our immediate surroundings, our domestic domain, the neighbourly tittle-tattle, the gossip, the frame, governed by the said law, fades away. Furrowing deeper into the dramatist’s vision, we ride out to a new beginning, on the back of intrigue and hope…

It struck me as I looked around at faces, seduced ever onward by the speaker’s rhetorical skills, that I may have been sweet-talked into being there… the guard earning a backhander or two for papering any remaining space… still, the weather and the speaker take hold, the crowd grew, leaving little room to turn.

from alpha to omega, the immovable to the flux, whatever the angle, wherever we stand, if we can’t pass over that enigmatic threshold, between this world and the other, our concerns and worries remain trapped within us… a key jammed, the door locked, pity and terror unrealised. Unarranged, unchallenged, the players and their words cut off; separated from a populace, waiting anxiously for the masters of hope and fortune to reveal a place of insight, where actions are made, for our passions and fears to be exhumed…

Oh my, that’s too deep and certainly too close for comfort… not for me I thought, making a surreptitious escape toward the exit…

Go where you will, echoed the speaker, his words hitting the nape of my neck, like darts rooted me to the spot… while the men of wisdom call on others to follow suit, the moon deserted her course, the river burst its bank and the sun at once veiled his beam threatening, no longer to give you light…

Although the overall sense eclipsed my languid ears, I turned to hear him out… 

What persuasion are you? he asked.

Halfway out of this small arena, some way off from the podium, the charade took hold. With no other way to go a physical infusion, grabbed me by the seat of my pants, booted me across the airwaves… my faculties playing catch-up on rout, I landed next to him, head to toe, centre stage. Dovetailed to the mandate, on cue, in line, to do or die, the crowd shifted their merciless, undivided, attention in my direction. Watching me eat my words, the self-conscious drew in a gaping pause to swallow the whole.

I’m not of any persuasion! I thought, keeping my mouth lipped, the reply unsaid.

Everyone is, or has been persuaded, he countered…

How did he do that? He wasn’t inside my head, as surmised, was he?

religious, political, or otherwise, you surely must sit at someone’s table, lean to some side…? perhaps you stand shrouded in the belief of unbelieving… however you take it, it’s the convenes of heart and mind in challenging discourse, is it not, where hierarchical ideals, or isms, limit the way…

Staring unaligned into the eyes of a mask that begot time, addled my nervous rattle, I began to entertain a thought that he might be playing me and unexpectedly hit out, with a serious jolt… limit the way of what!!?

Life, he cried, throwing his arms wide open… all this… driven between the great sun and merciful moon… worldly and otherworldly, inside and out… we channel energies through unknown realms, dance the dance of time between this sphere and the next. He started to spin on one foot, kicking the ground, with the other, propelling his body, on the turn, at a lick...  no more words ‘till I’m back he lambasted…. gathering apace, whirling faster and faster, a multi-coloured flying top spinning off in search of life in the other spheres….

… like wild stallions bolting from the hold, he took off at such a speed, waves of air seemed to pour from his person as if he were a craft… a blur of energy and light, catapulting away from the heartland toward the vast expanse of blue… the tail end of the vapor trial, became a black pinprick, then vanished, swallowed in a tiny gulp, leaving ripples echoing out to an ocean of thunderous silence… loud enough to stop the world.

Although I was relieved of his absence, for some unholy reason I felt bereft. And as I began to except the open beat of emptiness, the veil of change spun on a drachma… a trail of light and energy shot back though the stratosphere at a lick… the rush gathering apace through its terrain… a central fugal force… closing in on the earth, spinning downwards on a sideways return, the top morphing back to human form, hovering to a centre in ever diminishing circles, slammed on the breaks… pulling air inwards, in salutation to the vertical… like a plank teetering on its end, imperceptibly tilting to the rear… bolt upright, the master performer began falling backwards, gaining momentum, until the ground whooshed up to meet his back with a thud!

With the arm of fear pulling me toward his person, I kneeled to see if he was still alive… knocked out cold, his eyes sprang open in a trice and began to explore the contours of my face, searching for a sign, as if he’d forgotten something.

Scared, I lurched away, stood up and looked out to the auditoria, hoping someone out there might provide a clue, only to find the mind had played a trick!

Bar a colony of rabbits, ears prised to the breeze, and a guard of wild geese, alert to the two of us ringing out a cartoon fixture… we were alone, near a brook in a meadow…

Some would argue, the whole to be greater than the sum of parts? The words pulled me round with a start.

Siting back in comfort, against the gnarled trunk of an ancient oak, hands clasped behind his head, his voice back in the groove, he continued, as if it were just another way to gather in the day…

Spectacular isn’t it!

Defying gravity and age, he jumped up, like a feather lifted by the wind, to his feet.

Staring at him in disbelief, I feared he was gathering momentum, for another rhetorical rant, yet his seemingly erratic footfall seemed drawn toward a stiller, considered, repose.

Of what avail is frock, or rosary,
Or clouted garment it will not need for thee
To wear the cap of felt: a darwesh be
In heart, and wear the cap of Tartary.
Water that’s poured inside the boat will sink the boat.
While water underneath keeps it afloat.
That sealed jar in the stormy sea out there
Floats on the waves because it’s full of air,
When you’ve the air of dervishood inside
You’ll float above the world and there abide…

I felt chained to his words, trapped in situ…I was seriously hemmed in, unable to move from his vice like grip…. which made no sense, since he was many hands away… and on it went….

You came here believing that all parts are equitably bound to the whole… in that they’re inseparable, indelibly linked? Is it not? All this plant life, the stars, planets, oceans, continents… you and I, all that encompasses and surpasses us, releases, contracts, waxes and wanes for the return… leaves fall from the trees, the seed from a bud, grounded to decomposing earth, the worm mashes, digests, the loam, for the grain to bed, at life’s end. That’s not a meaningless observation. Buried to the earth, from sight and mind, the seed turns, an intricate lesson for us to ponder and explore. Within this ocean of consciousness, from the smallest syllable poised for the page, to the furthest star, like the seed, our past and future markings, are particles in form, human or otherwise, traveling through speed and light, for that same beginning at the circle’s end, beyond all kingdoms, in this vast pervading present…

What do you mean by markings… I said trying not to wilt…  

He caught a stick that seemed to leap through the air, to his hand, from the ground…

Like those swans, catch a flinch and you’re away with the sprites! Aren’t you the leftover from the main meal… the bartender who could have been… the contender who used to be…?

For the love of all that’s sanctified… the truth is, I needed time… however long it didn’t matter.

My friend there’s no judgment… I raise a jug to the one who dares to venture the cave.

Cave?

He brushed the air, with his hand, a whisper… don’t fool yourself… he moved in and tapped the top of my skull, as if to make the point… herein lays the eternal headed hydra… yea, from inside this cave, if you will, we are captured. Here or there, in a seemingly placid place of peace and quiet, in a crowd, alone, anywhere, minding the inhalation and exhalation of breath, at your most relaxed, on a calm and tranquil day, the beast will appear, out of nowhere… she’ll pull you o her breast, lay you out in a tear and take you down, without one drop of bestial remorse… if you find yourself in captivity, the biggest challenge of them all is to befriend her, observe her, lean in to see beyond her, yet remain with her… bound by the host of hosts, see her powers rise, then fall to this hallowed ground… don’t heed or follow suit, wait till the sun, moon, this earth and stars, this life, begins to yearn for the child to turn again.

While those rabbits bathe in wonder, I said, holding myself in check, I get on with life, transforming inanimate objects into something practical, useful to the inland ride…

Using a tangible form of matter, in space and time, no doubt, such as this stick…?

I don’t need the spotlight to qualify the depth and breadth of my existence as you might… oh, I want love, who doesn’t, but my heart of hearts isn’t so hungry for approval… I run away from those who view life through an exclusive prism, as those bucks and swans might from us. On the other side of the hustle, in the art and science of carpentry, I find the same challenges as you in the play. I suffer the same ups and downs, become rewarded when measurements are found to work and disillusioned when they don’t… In search for perfection, I’ve come to trust numbers, rather than myself… a millimetre off at the apex, miles out at the base, doesn’t necessarily make me decent, a better person, but realising the mistake might make me a better carpenter.

You’ve just reasoned your own shortcomings… like the vestige of most mortals, trapped by the devil, hounded by the gods, you struggle between the yes and no of your divinity, hide in a morsel of original thinking, behind a mask of respectability, flirting with a grain truth. You’re here to quantify you say, bring greater understanding in design and flow of a table, but can you justify the existence of that table, in the biophysical dominion?

desperately searching for the words, I found myself panicking again…

…break this he exclaimed, throwing me the stick… allow our paths to unfold, to the unknown….

Joining up the dots, I did as I was told…

Now break it again…

…and again… and again, he prompted. How many times will you have to mash and pulverise the pieces, before the structure disappears… all earthly things must have a viable end, do they not?

Like us, I inferred. Visible or not, even as tiny particles, isn’t this stick still here, in some form or other…  

Out of nowhere came a thunderous racket… startled, I looked up to an arena heaving with spectators, the uproar… stamping feet, shaking fists, pointing at the stage, at us, clapping, arguing between themselves, cursing, insulting each other, some had even resorted to fisticuffs, demanding a slice… then, just as quickly as they had erupted, the crowd were brought down to murmurings, broken whispers, as they parted in two, to reveal an imposing figure, towering above the spectators, commanding the middle of the auditorium directly opposite the stage

Only when a hushed reverence overwhelmed the centre did the figure speak, proclaiming a clear commanding voice. Which one is Atomos?

That’s me, said the speaker, before I had a chance to own the name. My newfound sparring partner and namesake challenged the figure, looming over the auditoria, without a hint of change to the weight of his commanding demeaner… you’re here to dismantle the window, remove the frame, without which the good people of this town will have no resolve….

The law says otherwise… I am simply the messenger… it is written… fire, water, air and earth are the centre of life, all life… this is not a debate it’s a fact… now finish with this nonsense and be gone…

My stage friend growled… we can scarcely be excused in concluding this drama without calling the spectator’s attention to the benevolent and wise laws established by the author of nature to provide for the various demands of the sublunary creation, and to make the several parts dependent upon each other, so as to form one well-regulated system or whole. I revel in the cosmic and spiritual rays that permeate this realm…

Guards appeared from nowhere, standing to attention, ready for the order to take us down.

Beholden to defeat, I looked to my stage companion for confirmation… he responded with a wink and a smile, then every ear and eye followed his lead, fell on me to deliver…  

Say what you will, I muttered taking a step forward…

Speak up, or be gone apace…

You know very little about us, I said, trying to keep the tremble in my legs at bay.  

I refer to your master, he said… a delusional man, who has lost his mind…

I may carry little or no weight, but the experience from which I can draw bares some wisdom… a marked truth, a shared truth perhaps… if you would hear me out… murmurings of agreement spread like a wave through the auditoria… he nodded… boosted by the support… I continued… however it may come to pass, the conclusion remains, as it has since millennia… the common law, declaring this reality, will shift dramatically with time… as of now, at this moment, in this epoch, we are not ready for such far reaching protestations…  

I looked away from the messenger, the guards and spectators, back to my stage companion for acknowledgement and found myself in a dark panelled chamber, face to face with a gentleman, done up in a worn dress shirt, white cravat, modest attire, secured by a black woven notched collar tailcoat.

Welcome he said holding out his hand, to a shake that was both firm and reassuring…  John Dalton, I hope you’ve settled in and they’re treating you with the respect you deserve…

TO BE CONTINUED