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Topics - Josette Wheeler

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1
Dragon's Tales / Music Amidst the Ashes - A Hope Cadenza (OPEN)
« on: December 13, 2018, 11:21:43 PM »
"But this sorrow and rage will not inflame us to seek retribution; rather they will inflame our art. Our music will never again be quite the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."

- Leonard Bernstein


Amidst the ashes of the destroyed tents and donation bins of the Holiday Market within the Marketplace, and nearly every single evening leading up to Christmas, the soulful sound of a single cello could be heard playing busker style with a large box that read Donations Welcome set out next to the petite ballerina who was bundled up considerably well to ward off Winter's chill.

Senseless violence and deliberate cruelty were incomprehensible to her, so after the recent events that occurred in the city, Josette turned to the two sanctuaries that had provided her with the most hope and healing over the years--nature and music. After walking amidst the trees of the Southern Glen to clear her head, she decided to do something useful with the anger, pain and grief she felt. She went home to her apartment to claim her beloved cello and followed in the footsteps of Vedran Smailovic, the cellist who played amidst the ruins after the shelling of his home in Sarajevo, that killed 22 people and wounded more than 100 who were waiting in a bread line. Perhaps, like Smailovic, she hoped to contribute a bit of beauty and hope in the wake of such a tragedy, to show that the human spirit was stronger than those that would seek to break and destroy it, and that there are more things such as art and music that connects us rather than divides us.  

Other musicians were welcome to join her, any passersby could contribute whatever donation they could to those affected by the fires, no contribution is too small. Josette secretly hoped most for toys for the orphans, so they would not be disappointed come Christmas and made sure to place a few in the bin herself to get it started. The selections she played included the works of Bach, Saint-Saens and her forever favorite, Tchaikovsky, as well as various other Christmas Carols, though she would happily take requests if she knows the desired tune. Even if she'd be the only one playing every night, or if the box remained empty, maybe someone somewhere was listening--and the night would feel a little less cold and the world a little less cruel.

Josette's repertoire:

Nutcracker Medley

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24

Silent Night

The Swan

J.S. Bach Cello Suite No.1

(Open to all that wish to post any contributions or character interactions here or wherever you feel the most comfortable writing and posting.)

2
The Shanachie Theater / Acte de Foi
« on: September 17, 2015, 06:24:12 PM »
Ever since Josette received her letter informing her of her acceptance into the Shanachie Ballet troupe she had been carrying it around with her as if she still did not fully believe it was all real. Every so often she would slip it from her bag, needing to have the tactile feeling of the letter in her hands, fingers drifting over the ink as if the unique glyphs in the whorls of her fingertips could absorb the words. She wanted to carry them within her so she would not forget that when the universe closes one door, it does indeed open another--often when we least expect it.

Her hands were shaking so badly when she initially opened the envelope, she actually dropped it twice. Having chosen the anonymity of a local tea shop to open it, she finally asked a kind faced woman sitting at the table next to her to read it for her. She did not know what compelled her to do so, but she wanted to share the moment with someone. A person with no prior knowledge of who she was, or her prior health issues. Someone who would not puncture such a vulnerable moment for her with knife pricks of doubt, only to flood her with more questions and concerns no matter how well meaning. She loved her mother and brother deeply, but she knew in her heart this was not something either of them would easily understand or accept.

After recovering from the initial shock over not only earning a place in the troupe, but as a principal dancer, tears spilled over as well as her tea which had gone cold when she jumped up to hug the woman in a moment of purely unfiltered joy and exuberance. Josette thanked her stars that the woman had a sense of humor, for she laughed and returned the hug to congratulate her with genuine warmth. Despite the near miss in soaking the poor woman with mint leaves! But along with the tears, an overwhelming sense of gratitude welled up within her for the opportunity. She never thought she would have such a chance again in this lifetime after she had to leave the Paris Opera Ballet. Along with her father?s failing health at the time, it was a large part of the reason she had chosen to leave Paris to travel with Isaac.

Still coming off the elation of receiving her acceptance letter, Josette could not wait to get into the one of the eight rehearsal rooms in the attic of the theater. Having arrived at the theater very early, she wanted to drink in as much as she could of the space and all of its scents and sounds before warming up on the barre in the rehearsal room. Each theater had its own unique energy and such a rich history of ripples that each performance left, not only the audience and its performers, but within the space itself.

She intended to stop by Anthony?s office to thank him again for the opportunity, but he already had a queue of people lining up outside of his door for a word, so instead of adding to the already long line, she made her way up to one of the rehearsal rooms where she would be spending the lion?s share of her time to begin warming up at the barre.

 She could feel the echoes of performances past as she explored more of the theater, all of the excitement, trepidation and joy along with the sorrows and frustrations that came along with any performance space. Intensely empathic and emotive by nature, Josette absorbed so much of the world around her like a sponge to the point that it sometimes exhausted her. Yet as an artist, it was as necessary as breathing for her and it was her greatest strength as a dancer. She knew instinctively that whatever she took in around her could be called up and filtered into a breathtaking moment on stage and inspiration was everywhere.  

There is a poignancy to the many facets of humanity that Josette held an immense amount of respect for in her heart and she loved translating that into the art of dance. Since the beginning, stories were communicated with the language of the body long before they were ever conveyed in words. The extension of the arm was not only a beautiful piece of choreography, but a visual dialogue of love and longing.

Since coming to Rhy?Din with all of its exotic beauty and diversity, it only deepened this respect and widened the spectrum of inspiration for her.  She was so looking forward to working towards being a valued addition to this company and hoped that her unique talents could be honed even further and lend something truly special to the troupe and its performances.  

In her performance of Giselle at the Paris Opera Ballet, many critics in Paris cited their surprise in the nuances Josette was able to bring to the role with such an emotional depth and breadth that was surprising in a dancer of her years. For along with being able to convey Giselle?s innate fragility and purity of spirit, her descent into madness requires a gravitas rarely seen in dancer so young.

Still, she knew her strength and endurance training needed work after her time away from dancing and she intended to show up early and work hard with Irina to do whatever it took to get her to where she needed to be. As a dancer you could give a beautifully moving performance, but if you did not have the physical strength and endurance to carry it through the second act, you were dead in the water. Josette knew she was working alongside some of the most exceptionally talented dancers she had ever seen.

Going through the audition process and attending one of the performances of the Summer Gala when she came to Rhy'Din only further cemented this fact for her. Anya De Luca had been not only an inspiration, but a revelation with her astounding forty-six fouett?s en tournant. as Odile. Not to mention her pas de deux with Anthony, from Romeo and Juliet.  It was rare to see such love communicated between two dancers on stage and it made all their performance of the star crossed lovers. The energy between the two was intensely palpable for the audience and clearly a crowd favorite.

Merethyl displayed an otherworldly quality in her technique and a level of perfection to her craft that she had yet to see in the earth realm and Jamie exuded a remarkable confidence and power in his dancing that was magnetic. Christian Benoit's journey to Rhy'Din served as an inspiration to her as well and made her feel far less alone in her circumstance.

As one of the newer additions to the troupe and a principal at that, she knew she would have to work hard to prove herself and had absolutely no intention of letting the company down for giving her this chance. This was a fresh start for her.

The echoes of her disappointment had followed her everywhere in Paris. Each face she met in a caf? or restaurant became a mirror to the pain she was struggling with internally. When you hear something often enough, it becomes increasingly difficult to be able to shake and if you are just vulnerable enough, it begins to seep into the cracks and you start to believe it yourself. She could not bear the looks of pity everywhere she went. ?Such a shame.? ?What a tragedy.? ?So much talent--such a waste.? Josette felt caught in a revolving door of words that she could not escape no matter where she went. Shame. Tragedy. Waste. Eventually, her body began to listen to these words and it was difficult to avoid the glare of the headlines that seemed to block out everything else for her. The City of Light began to dim for her every time she read another dismal variation on how tragic is was that such a bright young star was forced to leave the company before her prime.

Even her classes in the department of Music and Musicology at the Sorbonne did not fill the void, although in many ways, it was instrumental in her healing. Josette would always be grateful to her cello even though  dance was always her first love.  In many ways, the cello had saved her life after she was forced to stop dancing for a time to heal. All of her mourning and grief had been put into the strings and infused into the wood until it poured out of her into the notes through the music.

?Just get it out of you. I don?t care how? her instructor, Edouard, told her one morning. ?Scream if you want, cry if you want, rage if you want, but do not retreat inside yourself. Channel it somewhere.  Write something, play something, paint something, create something or your grief will eat you alive from the inside. Get out of Paris if it does not feed you any longer. Travel and see new faces and let in new life, taste new food on your tongue. There are other ways than dance. This is a gift, Josette, one that you will be able to draw from and it will help shape you as an artist. This is about expression of the soul. The ballet is a living, breathing organism with many components and facets that unite to take us to that moment of transcendence in performance. You are young, take in as much of this life as you can and you will find your footing again.?

She never forgot his words and as she ran her hand along the barre in the rehearsal room she realized that while that first leap of faith may be intimidating, if it is towards your soul's joy, it is worth the risk. In the end, she would have no regrets.

3
Dragon's Tales / Tug of War Wishes
« on: June 23, 2015, 07:55:00 PM »
(A huge thank you to Lyra's writer for this wonderful playable.)

?Please Boz! Please Take me up!? Josie pleaded breathlessly as she spun a circle round him in a whirlwind of excitement before catching his arm. They are all so lovely tonight! Just for a few minutes Boz?I won?t tell Amos. He went into town with the others.? The carnival had shut down for the evening and Josie was begging him to allow her up to the top of the Ferris Wheel before shutting the lights down to look at the stars.

The scarred ride operator resisted, trying to gently extricate his arm away from the whirling dervish of a girl that spun in pirouettes of excitement around him as if he were afraid he might break her if he made the wrong move. The giant of a man thinking he might tear off one of her all too skinny arms like papier-m?ch? wings if he pulled away too quickly or too hard. She'd lost so much weight since she first came there.  ?I don?t know Josie, I ain?t supposed to be messin? with Amos? ride. He?s old as dirt and I ain?t gonna be the reason his ticker gives out cause I got handsy with the Wheel. We ride jocks got a code here and besides,  I don?t think Isaac would like it. ? The usual grit and gravel in his voice found some bit of softness before her tender request was splattered across pavement into disappointment. A wary eye was cast about as if the knife thrower would suddenly make an appearance.

?Please.? Josie said softly, like a dove?s coo. Her fragility by some miracle had somehow always gone hand in hand with her strength.

Boz sighed, unable to look at the girl?s face and tell her no. Her eyes held a kind of raw longing that cut through even his grizzled heart.  He?d deal with Amos? wrath later even if Dixie, resident candy flosser and gossip queen opened her yap and squealed on him. ?Alright darlin??.get in.?

 

Josie clasped her hands in delight and arched up on dancer?s toes to kiss Boz?s stubbled cheek as she scrambled into the car. ?Thank you and don?t forget to shut the lights down when I get to the top!?

                              ***********************

Once Upon a Hospital Room?.


 

The feel of the hospital gown felt so foreign against her skin.  It had been awhile since she had been back in this particular costume.  Josie thought there must be a better way to allow a soul to preserve their dignity than this dehumanizing fabric that left her back exposed to the chill that laced its way up her spine and left her feeling numb. But these past few months had been a gradual stripping away--this day was no different.

?I?d rather be naked.? Josie murmured as she fingered the pale blue gown between fingers. Her Mother?s voice carried from outside the room, speaking to the doctor in hushed tones.

 
?You told me it was in complete remission not one month ago?.?

 
?Re-mission.? Josie murmured with a little half smile. A little hiccup of breath between syllables as she refashioned word in a way that felt better to her the same way she played with the energy of the room.

 

??abnormality in the cells. It?s a bit--we?ve never seen anything like it. I called a specialist that I know In New York who??

No more tests. No more. Even now her cells were serving as a million tiny prisms filtering all the residue of sadness, grief, anger and fear in the room. The hospitals were always worse for her. People hung on so tightly and the density was so thick it almost choked her.  In the opera house it was easier. People did not hang on so tightly when they were watching or hearing something beautiful. It made it so much easier for them to let go. The frequency of the music helped her with the energy.

 Where are you still holding on, Josie?

 
Josie shut her eyes. She looked for a bit of music to take her away so she could get some of her strength and clarity back. She caught the wave of a song that drifted to her consciousness. She did not want to get caught up in the words going on outside the room. Not their words or their steps and so she shut her eyes and drifted.

 ?What does that mean?? Her Mother?s nerves were fraying outside the room. She could hear it in the vibration of her voice.


 I won?t dance?.

 

?The training is too rigorous for her body.? The doctor went on to explain. ?I know it will come as a disappointment, but she needs complete rest so the body has a chance to heal.?

 Don?t ask me.

 
?She?s worked so hard. This company is everything to her. Isn?t there something you can??


 I won?t dance. Don?t ask me.

 
?I understand this is difficult. Maybe if I speak to her??

 
?More like Corpse de Ballet, eh?? One of the shadows given voice, a blending of residues, all the different frequencies and thought forms that somehow managed to pool together in the lungs of the room and rasp a laugh from the corner. It connected with her own internal fears and so she heard them loud and clear-- invading the room and her ears like a dark oilspill.  ?Pretty Girl. Pretty Corpse?? The shadow crooned like a parrot that echoed and reflected back what it heard. ?Times up. Tick-Tock.?

 
Josie laughed and shook her head before finishing the song in her head audibly as she opened her eyes and looked into the shadow despite that clutching feeling of being choked. ?I won?t dance. Monsieur with you.? Her voice warbled as she stared down at her feet that were a grotesque sight in the florescent light of the hospital room. Ugly bruises of various shades, torn toenails and raw arches. Pointe shoes covered all manner of sins when wrapped up and secured in the allure of pretty ribbon. Ballet is often brutal on the body. A fact that is easily forgotten through the veil of tulle and so much unearthly beauty of musical composition and form, but there was nothing else that gave her soul so much joy.

?But I recognize myself in you. I remember. Now bring the others and let?s be done.? Josie extended her hand to the shadow and watched as it shrank back along the wall. Fractals of energy emanated from the extension of her arm as she reached out to it and saw exactly where her own imprints were left.

The shadow began to spin in a dark vortex of interconnected webbing. It extended beyond the corner of the room as the walls melted away and she looked through the portal only to seeing endless patterns in that web that stretched across dimensions and realities. Fear, Despair, Desperation Grief, Guilt, Anger, Shame--the "room" had been a veritable hot spot for some time.

Josie rocked back as a wave of nausea tore through her, a flash of heat that soon cooled to a cold sweat that soaked through her hospital gown.

Josie breathed as the release rocked through her frail form and nearly made her lose control of her bladder. She bit her lip as she waited for the violent tremors to pass, her thighs pressing together as she leaned back against the wall, her fingers fisting in the rough paper that now clung to the backs of her thighs atop her hospital pedestal.

 

?My heart won't let my feet do things they should do?..?

                                  **************

 

At the top of the Ferris Wheel, Josie?s eyes lifted to catch the blazing star that stole across the heavens in a magnificent splendor. Her palms came to rest atop her heart. First the left, followed by the right in a kind of quiet reverence. The star had picked a sacred time after all. This one was special and she felt it acutely through her whole being. She whispered her wish like a shared secret, using that ferris wheel car as a confessional as she slowly rocked back and forth.  "I?m ready to go home when I?m called. I think I?m ready. I just don?t want Isaac--? Trepidation crept in as her thoughts and attachments hit a tripwire on her brother. Josie sighed as she shook her head and wished for release.

 ?But if it?s not too much?may I have just one more dance??

4
Dragon's Tales / La jeune fille qui danse parmi les ?toiles
« on: January 02, 2015, 10:40:21 PM »
I do not know why I am starting this diary now. It seems silly. Maybe I want to remember all the moments that made my being here worth it. Maybe it is from a place of pure ego and I want others to read what stirred my heart when I am gone. Whatever the reason, I am compelled to write it in this diary before I?m to leave this body. (For longer than brief periods of time)

  I want to look back and remember. I want to look back and remember when I am afraid and weak and this human shell is unrecognizable. I want to remember something beautiful. I?ll read these pages again when I want to remember why it was I came here in the first place. When my thoughts are scattered and I cannot ground myself, I want something tactile to hold while I read these words. To feel my fingers trace over the words and the paper.  I want to remember what made my heart soar and gave me hope and brought me Joy. When my body is falling apart on me, this is what remains. These moments are the heartbeats that keep time with my soul.

 The first time it happened it took me by surprise during a trip to New York when I was six. After that, it almost became an addiction; some kind of escape I suppose, or something I used as a coping mechanism for places or situations that I found unpleasant or did not have the tools to deal with at the time. It certainly came in handy in those months at the hospital when I was in pain and my hair was falling out and wished to be anywhere but there.

 But that night, it took me quite by the surprise for it was the sheer joy of the moment that accessed the ability within me the first time. It was the first time I was completely overtaken by something bigger than me.  I think it was a combination of the music, the dancing and the elation I felt that enabled me to transcend the physical body to be someplace else.

We had come to New York after Fashion Week in Paris under the guise of celebrating the holidays in a new and exciting city (at least for me).  In truth, it was an excuse to visit one of Maman?s revolving door of lovers (though I hadn?t realized it then). She had arranged it perfectly so she could have her freedom, while it was one of the few times of the year I actually got to see my Father.  

They made the hand-off with me at the King Cole bar at the St. Regis. I do not remember much of that particular exchange. It comes in bits and pieces. Snap shots of my Father gathering me into his arms, the sight of my Mother removing a hotel room key from her purse over my Father?s shoulder and the feel of my Father?s fist tightening when my Mother called after him to not allow me to dirty my shoes or my dress.

 Whether it bothered him or not, or whether he knew where she was going during that time, I?ll never know.  Their affair had been brief, my Mother told me. They had no real claim on the other after all, for obvious reasons. Their only connection afterwards revolved around me and discussions of scheduled visits, treatment options and medical bills.

 I never asked them if they loved each other for that brief time.  I never asked if they both made the decision to keep me, or if one insisted. Maybe I really didn?t want to know.  You can?t go back and erase truths after they are spoken. That is the beauty and the tragedy of them. They sit inside you like so many echoes and creep up on you in quiet moments to either whisper or shout in your ear depending on the day and its distractions. I guess it does not matter now. I knew that he loved me and I know my Mother loves me in her way. That is what I choose to carry with me.

 New York at that age felt as much like a fairyland at Christmas. There is a kinetic thrill to the energy in the air that cannot be duplicated at any other time of year. Even though the cold stung my nose as I was not used to the bite of New York winters, I hardly noticed. There were too many delights in the air to be enjoyed and a symphony of sounds to hear. The scent of roasting chestnuts from various vendors on street corners, the lights from the stores that lit up the streets in spectacular splendor, the honking horns of taxi cabs, the rush of heel clicks from women who looked like they stepped right out of the pages of Maman?s magazines.

 My young eyes devoured everything and it was safe to see such things while tucked neatly against my Father?s chest. I asked him why he held me a little tighter when we passed certain people and I will never forget his words. ?Wolves do not just exist in the woods my Josie.?

 My Father was to take me to see The Nutcracker at the David H. Koch Theater and this began my love affair with the ballet. I remember him carrying me because there was so much residue of salt, slush and ice upon the sidewalks. He did not want my feet to get wet or to muddy the shine of my tiny black patent leather shoes.

 ?The tree Papa! The tree!? I squirmed in his arms and pointed excitedly at the Christmas tree that seemed to extend from the fountain in the middle of Lincoln Center as if it had sprouted directly from it. My Father had chuckled, relented to my squirming and set me down upon the edge of the fountain. I remember the rush of cold air around my legs as I twirled and the feel of his hand in mine as he held it aloft as I spun. I remember the feel of his arms catching me after I had slipped, seconds before I hit the water. It is one of those feelings I love the most. It is something I treasure and that I frequently got to experience whenever I was practicing a pas de deux. There is something so reassuring about the sensation of arms catching you seconds before you hit the ground.

 From my youthful perspective, when I entered the theater it looked like it was covered with gold and diamonds. The ornate, spherical chandelier that hung above us had me tugging my father?s hand and asking if those were real diamonds as I stared up at the ceiling in awe. The lights nestled within the ceiling looking like so many stars within a golden night sky.

 My Father gave me a sideways look and his smile was a bit resigned. ?I fear you may have inherited your Mother?s admiration for things that sparkle, my dear.? He kissed my hand fondly and I fidgeted along with the other children in their holiday best to the sounds of the orchestra tuning their various instruments until the lights went down and the audience applauded for the seemingly very important man who entered with a spot light tracking his entrance and shining upon him. He bowed to us before he faced the stage again. ?That is the conductor Josette,? My Father whispered. ?He leads the orchestra.?

 There is a beat when the conductor raises his arms, a captivating, magical moment where there is a quiet hush that sweeps across the audience. Every breath is held in anticipation as if waiting for its cue. A magnetic energy pulses in the air seconds before the first note is played and the curtain parts to reveal part of the world that will draw you into its embrace of suspended disbelief for the next few hours. It is a particular high wherever live music, theater and dance is shared between the souls in attendance and those performing that is difficult to match anywhere else. That moment when the curtain rose was the beginning of something even I could not have dreamed of at that tender age, and yet I was forever changed by what transpired afterwards?.

 

(to be continued)

5
Dragon's Tales / Elsewhere
« on: June 18, 2014, 05:42:34 PM »
"Tell me about the last beautiful thing you laid eyes on. Something that stayed with you."  Johnny asked his buddy, Thomas, as the two sat in Thomas? back yard, pregaming for a summer cook out.

 "I was watching this girl...this woman playing in a fountain. She had this quality about her that was amazing, you know? Just the way she moved in a way that wasn't practiced. She was beautiful without realizing it. Had this grace without artifice or affectation, not even cognizant of how much she could wield that to bring us to our knees."  Thomas answered while repeatedly stabbing out a dying cigarette in an ash tray and immediately lighting another one.

 "You could tell all that by watching her splash around in a fountain?"  Johnny asked, a brow arched in serious question.  His drinking buddy didn?t usually talk this way.

 "If you look close enough you can tell that by how every woman moves.?  Thomas paused and blew out a thoughtful exhale of smoke.  ?Yeah. This one was heartrendingly unaware of her mystique. Found that more refreshing than the cool water she was playing in.  It was...I don't know. Innocent and sensual at the same time. How her hands moved through the water, the way the fabric of her dress clung to her legs, the way she looked at the droplets in her fingers like she held diamonds.?  Thomas blew out another exhale and plucked up the bottle opener from the table.  

 ?Felt like I had come upon this beautiful, otherworldly, nymph in her element you know??  The cap flipped off the top of a fresh beer, Thomas pausing for a satisfying pull before continuing, ?I was just pulled and rooted to the spot, like she was a Siren who served Fate. Had called me to this place at this specific time and I was just trying to keep my head above water, man.?  Thomas gestured with the bottle and cigarette to indicate the passage of time as he spoke.

 ?After a while I realized I'd been holding my breath like I didn't want to disturb the air around the moment and have it end. She was beautiful. Totally in her own world and I was just the lucky bastard who wandered into it.?

 
?Shoulda snapped a picture.?  Johnny chipped in as he finished off his beer and tossed it into the trash while chuckling and fishing a fresh one from the nearby cooler.

 
?Like kids, man.?  Thomas continued, ignoring Johnny?s interruption.  ?You ever watch 'em play and out of nowhere they just kind of squeal with this sound of delight and hug themselves? Then they either just start running or bouncing in place or just spin around? No reason really. Just the sheer joy of being alive?"

 "Yeah.?  Johnny answered after sipping from his bottle and giving a glance to the grill and the meat which sizzled a few feet away.  ?My sister has a two year old and a four year old, and it's like watching little mental patients with impulse control issues."  Johnny stood to drift towards the grill and pour some of his beer over the meat and coals.  ?They never shut up.?

 ?Nah man.?  Thomas answered with a shake of his head and lifted the cigarette up to his lips.  ?They're not crazy. We are. We lose that feeling somewhere. Society beats it or shames it out of us or something. Or maybe we just get to the age when we become hyper aware of ourselves. When it's not enough to just be. We gotta achieve, compete...perform ya know??  Thomas continued, tapping out the ash of his cigarette onto the tray before continuing without waiting for an answer.

 ?Then after we're so beat down from all that wasted energy, we're trying to drink, drug or buy our way back to that feeling. But you can't duplicate that fix, man . Even if you jab a vein to try and tap that line, it's never the same.?

 "Well...we can try Romeo.?  Johnny answered as he closed the lid of the grill and reclaimed his seat at the backyard table.  ?Gimme one of your smokes and then go ahead and tell me more about this girl in the fountain. I'm enough beers in to be curious."  Johnny gave a gap toothed smile as he fished one of Thomas? cigarettes from the pack lying on the table.  He gave a gesture for Thomas to continue before sparking the lighter to the end of the smoke.

 ?I don't know. This girl...she held onto that quality somehow. She had these eyes. They were unlike anything I'd ever seen. I couldn't even classify them into a color. They were all colors drawn together, like the forming of a star. And you know, I'm a little ashamed to admit now man that my first thought was how do I get her into bed.?  Thomas continued, lifting his beer up for sip?as if he could hide the shame behind the action.

 
"Nothin' wrong with that. Been an instinct since the beginning man.?  Johnny twisted to gesture to the grill.  ?Like charring mammal flesh, man. It's primal. S'natural. Wanting to take 'em back to the cave and all that."

 "Yeah I hear you,? Thomas answered, nodding in silence for a moment as he smoked his cigarette. ?But a funny thing happened. You know, it was like this moment where I was outside of myself looking at myself. Like I had tapped myself on the shoulder and I started thinking about it. And I was kinda ashamed for some reason you know?

 "Bout what?"  Johnny grunted as he switched out cigarette for beer.

 ?Why is it all about possession??  Thomas asked, seeming to stare off into the distance for a moment, lost in his own world.  ?We see a beautiful thing whether it be a deer in the woods or a beautiful woman, and all we can think about is taking 'em home and mounting 'em to a wall.  It's not enough to just sometimes be with it...in that moment for what it is. Even if it?s transient, you know? Something in our programming has to possess...to own.  I don't know, it got me thinking, are we so starved for beauty that we have to constantly think of ways to hoard it? Do we think there's a finite amount?

 ?Well??  Johnny began, beer in one hand and cigarette in the other, ?I?ve been with enough of the not so beautiful ones to know that when I got a beautiful one??  a grin behind the sip of beer, ?I damn well do want to possess em for as long as I can, ya know??

 "Yeah?but that?s you.?  Thomas answered with a flick of his cigarette.  ?The greats man. They knew it. Knew it wasn't about ownership. Michelangelo regretted it the moment he chose to sign the Piet? out of pride. He knew that masterpiece was bigger than he was. He just caught that wave man, where the rest of us are just kinda doggy paddling. Just tryin' to learn how to swim.  But he had the grace to know the sculpture was already there. But it didn't belong to him. He sculpted it, but he didn't own it. And Nikolai Tesla man...not enough people know about him."

 "Who?"  Johnny interrupted with his own brand of confusion.  He sipped from his bottle and stared blankly across the table at his friend.

 
"Don't even get me started,? Thomas answered with a shake of his head.  ?Look him up. He was a brilliant mind. He was able to tap that source too. And it wasn't about all how he could sell it, you know? That was Edison's game. Course Tesla died penniless alone in New York in a hotel room feeding pigeons that he loved. Pigeons are like rats with wings man, but he loved 'me. Breaks my heart for the poor bastard."

"So what happened? You talk to her?"  Johnny asked, bored with a history lesson that flew over his head.

 "What?"

 "The girl man."  Johnny prompted with a stab of his cigarette.

 
"Right. Anyway, she turns over her shoulder and catches me watching her. I'm busted and a little embarrassed, but I can't look away. However long this moment lasts, I'm just in it man. I'm wading in that water with her, looking at those eyes and suddenly, it's like time, space, dimension...it doesn't matter. And I felt it...that feeling. Like I caught that wave. Like everything was possible. We were just there without limits or borders or boundaries between us.?  Thomas continued, back on topic and pausing to take a swig from his bottle, savor the flavor and continued.  ?Then she tips her head and smiles at me, in this kinda sly, knowing way...you know...like..."

 "Like what?"  Johnny asked, leaning a bit forward as he sensed a juicy conclusion.

 "Like...I got it. A fellow fox that managed to escape the same trap."

 
"Huh." There was a long pause from Johnny as his cigarette slowly burnt the last of itself down to the filter.  "So...you didn?t take her home?"  

 
"Forget it man...forget it. Just drink your beer."

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