the monastery had fared well since the epic love story of Marcio and Rya had shaken the status quo. which is to say it grew. everyone inside the cold walls thought hard. they always thought hard but this time it was about more than eternally waiting to die and wondering if they made the right decision for their various eternities. some of the committed hoods rethought their priroities and went apostate. this was good. stagnant rigidity to the old ways spells death, even for an institution like a Catholic monastery which had long since died in the eyes of a tech-savvy world which scoffed at it as some relic. borrowing from another religion, as all good religions do, some of the monks left...for awhile...to sort out things...to party, get laid, get hands laid upon them in street brawls, and generally to fill their mouths with all manner of white stuff, mostly cake. some eyes were opened and couldn't imagine going back, others woke up the next morning with a hangover, a tummy ache, and a desire for no other food but the body of Christ. this was good, it weeded out those who were not in it for the long haul to leave room and extra beds for the tech corporate types burned out with 9 to 5 who would "visit" the monastery for a lifetime. it grew, the monastery grew in numbers.
on Thanksgiving break, a studious woman---you could tell cos she wore glasses which dug into her nose---dressed modestly for the occasion in baggy jeans, overalls, and knit cap, approached the monastery gate. she was a beautiful young woman, as all are. she was a smart young woman, which is more important. she felt things deeply, which is something that can go either way. she was there doing a school report, or a report for herself. it was for sociology or psychology or the humanities or humanity. Brother Cotard raced to the entrance to unlatch the latch and let her into the inn, there was room. he was always first to greet the morn and any visitors and last to bed at night. he loved people, he was so gregarious he wanted to call himself Brother Greg but that was already taken. when he laughed, which was often at his own jokes, his belly would jiggle like a big bowl of jelly. he had no right to be cooped up in here, he needed to be out amongst his people, he was the lead singer starving for a crowd. he wasn't starving for food, that's for sure, he was pleasantly plump in all the right places, he loved food, but he claimed it wasn't a defense mechanism, he was hungry for Christ, Whose grace you could never get enough of.
Cotard: Saveola i presume? we spoke on the phone.
Saveola: landline i hope. otherwise you're breaking rules.
Cotard: my cell phone is filled with the latest apps, wham bam thank you, ma'am. and I make the rules round here *jelly laugh*
Saveola: thank you. cold out here.
Cotard: no, it's just that we're high up.
Saveola: was this place renamed?
Cotard: not exactly. it didn't have a name before cos nobody cared. now in honor of a great man who used to grace these windy halls, we have named the place in honor of him: With A See.
Saveola: come again?
Cotard: that's against rules. it's called With A See. see, Marcio often got confused with Mario, so we made it a point that it's Marcio with a C. and then the Holy See, get it? i came up with it. i'm so clever *laugh*
Saveola: see, you can come. of course that was you. i am so honored and blessed to be here.
Cotard: yeah, it takes visitors' breath away the first time they see all the vistas and waterfalls and ponds which have become lakes now and the edge of the ocean and the cliffs. we have Mass sometimes on those cliffs just to change things up. some like the change of pace, others take the opportunity to "accidentally" slip off the wet rocks and fall off the cliffs. that's one way to be exclaustrated from your vows.
Saveola: i've only been told stories about this place, but now that i see it with my four eyes it's in my heart forever. it does take my breath away, though, the wind is strong.
Cotard: you're here to see Brother Wax, right? right this way.
Saveola: if i didn't know any better, i'd think this was 1984.
Cotard: it was 1984 here, once. watch out for that first waterfall there, it's a doozy. water is our friend and our enemy.
Saveola notices how stark it is to have four placid streams of water converging so violently into that waterfall, crashing against the rocks below with a fury pent-up for decades. it's like it isn't the same water.
Cotard: Wax, he's a strange one. we thought he was deaf and dumb when he first arrived, but he was just shellshocked like everyone else who arrives here contemplating the contemplative life. with him, though, the shock is taking longer to wear off.
Saveola: why is he called Wax?
Cotard: dunno. probably me again. i put him straight away to work at the gift shop, selling our candles. it's an important task not meant for a rookie, we need all the money we can hoard, but i felt it was better to shock him out of it than gradually ease him into the life. he didn't fare well. he wasn't a people person so the whole customer service thing with a smile didn't take. he's not a smiler. he would go into his shell and not make the sale. he was a liability, but unlike the cutthroat tech business world, you can't just cut your losses, fire the poor chap, and throw him over the cliff, we keep all those who enter that gate. so, i moved him to the back room, no talking, just silently packing boxes of candles for sale. that was good, better. he don't talk to nobody.
the duo walk along a lake in the center of which is a small grandiose chapel with an open roof. three figures have their hooded faces in their books, singing. the fourth plays the waterproof organ.
THEY TREMBLE THE AQUATIC LIFE SURROUNDING THEM WITH THIS GRAND CHORUS, CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK.
Saveola: music has a way of speeding time up. look, it's already night.
Cotard: i need more things to speed time up, it's boring here, boring all the slow time. there's nothing to do, ever. well, he's right beyond there, watch your step, the first one is a doozy. i must retire to my cell now, have a lot of internet porn to catch up on.
Saveola slides down mud to a clearing by the lake. fireflies buzz around, portending the campfire, leading her to it until it is in front of her. as bright as the fire is, it's the four white mini-marshmallows on a stick that gleam the brightest and betray the location of Wax. he sits on a log alone, staring blankly into the fire. his eyes have not blinked for ages, he needs to refresh them with some of that lake-effect moisture.
Saveola: *smiles* you're not catching the flame. those marshmallows will never burn.
Wax (not turning to meet her eyes): do you know why i'm here?
Saveola: wow, i must be one hot babe, i've got yer mouth runnin'.
Saveola takes out a small faded green notebook with boxed edges and a pencil trapped in the loop of its upper spiraling.
Wax (still hasn't looked at her): wow, how wonderfully low-tech. paper, writing utensil, it worked for the ancients, and they are smarter than we'll ever be. i hate technology, especially modern technology.
Saveola: is that why you're here?
Wax: no, though it was like a computer virus. people talk of receiving their calling like an irritating phone-call ring. i never believed in that shit, but i do believe in moments, moments framed in time. the moment doesn't have its volume turned up, but you know when you're in the presence of one. it doesn't bang you over the head, it focuses your eyes on the subject slightly more sharply, like glasses. i was on a safari and i noticed a singular muskox apart from the herd. he was urinating. i saw it alone, only the muskox and i were in the frame, though i was traveling aboard a racing wagon with other tourists with binoculars. time stood still as i saw it in real time. greatest film of my life, a real movie. it struck me down, i cried heavy tears which streamed down my cheeks forming into a four-pronged waterfall falling off my chin. i saw in that the absolutely stone-cold beauty of nature, natural things, nature naturing, the natural order, a creature of God doing holy work, holy business, following his Creator's instructions, in and out, relieving to be filled again, absolutely according to plan, according to his divine design. i was to worship that design ever since. we are all creatures of God, naturally, natural, not meant to be sullied with man-made soot and machines, meant to reflect on ourselves in the surface pool of a lake to see what we really are, silently, alone in the wilderness, by the hypnotic crackling hum of a campfire. oh what happiness that is, what happiness that brings me! (he doesn't smile.)
Saveola is taking copious notes.
Saveola: i cry like that, a lot. we discussed in the pre-interview your love of cats?
Wax (smiles): my calling turned me into an animal-lover. i couldn't rightly keep a pet muskox in my home, so i got a cat from the shelter. he was a rebel, scratching and clawing his dominance all over my face. i thought about giving him up after week one, but Christ gave me the patience to continue. actually i didn't want to be lonely, something is better than nothing. he never really calmed down, he was a rabblerouser who would pick fights with me over who got the last milk. he likes to crawl onto my stomach as i sleep. i feared he would rip my face apart as i vulnerably slept and send me to Christ early. i figured if i got another cat, a kitten this time, a female, they're softer, that would quiet the situation. i don't think things through. i was so terrified on the drive home that the male cat would kill the new kitten that i immediately put the helpless lighter-than-air kitten in my room and locked the door. i dared not expose her to the claws of the male cat. they would have to learn to get along...eventually...without killing each other would be nice. patience is a virtue, Christ help me. the next day i contemplated giving the kitten up, i was fed up, my mind went south, i kept forgetting to open this door to let the kitten roam while closing that door to keep the cat out, and which door led to which room the cat was in, was the cat sleeping now? was it safe or is he tricking me and wide awake, licking himself when i opened the door? the simple task of opening the kitten's door to open the window to let air in and change her food and water became as complicated as modern society when the kitten, desperate to experience freedom, raced on her little paws out her door, knocking into the waiting cat's nose and across his maw, as if displaying some sort of stupidly unconscious little-guy triumph over Goliath. as i changed their bowls, four bowls now, not two, i thought hard and became resentful of the duo and my situation. i could have no social life now, my entire time would be used up opening and closing doors to keep them separated.
Saveola's pencil breaks in half.
Wax: that's it!
Saveola hides her face in her notebook.
Wax: that's it, i thought, i was gonna have a stern talking-to with this kitten. if it wasn't for this kitten, i would have carried on delighfully with the one cat as the king of the castle and me his slave, happily. but no, too much time had passed, i had already named this kitten, i couldn't give her up now. and i couldn't give my cat up, God forbid those such hard thoughts i had! he was my firstborn son. i opened and closed the door as per usual and sat down on the kitten's plush log for a chat. i looked her square in her eyes, they were so tiny i barely spotted them, and just told her plainly, y'know, this was probably not gonna work out, this whole situation was giving me too much stress, it wasn't good for my heart, i was already nervous as it was, how was i to find a date when i hated people, etc., especially modern people...
Saveola: why are you named Wax?
Wax stares away from the girl as is his monk training and into space, the outer space of the night. the campfire flames dance off Saveola's glasses and reflect off of Wax's large nose.
Wax:...the kitten looked at me after my speech and fell down into a curling C, wanting her tummy to be rubbed.
TO BE CONTINUED...