The Page

A tale of intimacy and loss

Tag: Long Island

Sunset

Clair de TerreThe meeting in the Brooklyn safe house lasts for hours. The aerial view of the city is wiped out from the wall, replaced by a zoomed high-resolution picture of where we are, the vast warehouse, outside in the street first, then a roaming view across the corridor we had followed on our arrival, and, finally the room where we sit. Sarah and I look at each other, she later said I was as pale as a ghost. The general explains that these views are taken, live, by a drone above us at an altitude of twelve hundred meters. There is a silent pause. Then I say: “I do not know of any sensor capable of that level of precision across solid walls.” Everyone is quiet, then Elga breaks the silence. “You are right Julian. We have used” – I notice the “we” – “a US Airforce drone, but also a little cloud of Coven-technology sensors, controlled through it…” I look straight into Elga’s blue on blue eyes, then at Melissa, I see them both smiling, and behind those smiles I cannot avoid thinking of alien minds, calculating, unassailable to any human being. At that moment I am convinced that my friend is there, but she no longer is the woman I had known, but someone – I hate the thought of thinking “something” – completely different. I also sense that both of them, certainly Melissa, are determined to convince me that it is not the case, and I saw in Melissa’s face the beginning of seduction, as if saying “Look at my soul, Julian, can you challenge my humanity?”.

The general resumes his exposé. The Great Power, her competitor in the East and the Coven are cooperating for the benefit of peace. The GP needs some of the Coven’s technology to achieve her goals. So, important and complex negotiations are taking place. There is a need for discretion, even secrecy, but also carefully tailored information to be presented to the public – a worldwide public – other than through the ordinary channels of commercial TV, radio and newspapers. They will be involved, but the new Alliance – the general actually uses the phrase “the new Alliance” – is creating its own channel. And this is where we come in, the three of us, Sarah, Mel and me…

There is danger, the general continues. Some countries and interests have deep suspicions about what the GP is about. There are jealousies and fear. Incidents may be misrepresented. False news may frighten the public. The conference in Berlin will be the locus for an official launch of the New Alliance. The general pauses, as if to let us reflect.

In a soft voice Gabrielle speaks for the first time. “Melissa and I are moving to Paris in order to prepare for this. You two are invited to join us next month. We have much to discuss to get you up to speed. For the time being the small town is off limits.” I am tempted to ask what is off limits and why, but a look from Sarah convinces me to hold back. The general concludes his account by asking us if we have any question. To her credit Sarah realises that I am in no emotional state to reply. “We are grateful, she says soberly, for your trust and, smiling in the direction of Gabrielle and Elga,  that of our friends here. As you all know, in turn, Julian and I have entrusted Melissa to give us support as we endeavour to serve the cause of peace.” Everybody is smiling and Elga, yes, Elga comes to me and hugs me. Soon, after saying good bye to the general, we are walking down the corridor to the lift. Our guard is waiting. This time both Melissa and Gabrielle are with us. As Melissa drives us out of the warehouse, we are on our way back to Long Island for the evening. A grey van is following us, its windows reflecting the sunset light.

In Brooklyn

Hope, by George Frederic Watts (1886) Melissa drives us at the top permitted speed, avoiding the slower traffic on the turnpike with remarkable skill. This morning she wears black jeans and a blue shirt, her beautiful hair held in a severe bun: her face is taut and serious and she wears no makeup. Sitting next to Julian at the back, as she requested, I observe on the front seat  the holster, with the black and flat handgun, the same as she drew out yesterday at our arrival on Long Island. The uniformed officer who came out of the house at that instant would not have stood a chance, had he shown himself to be a foe: our friend had him framed, her steady hand still as rock. To me her posture then was a revelation: the calm and impeccable hold, feet well positioned on the ground, legs a little apart: a trained marksman or assassin. I did not share my reaction with Julian. I think he admires Melissa more than ever, and she frightens him already enough.

We are on our way to meet Gabrielle and Elga again, this time in very different surroundings. Melissa told us last night that we would meet the high ranking Great Power officer, who is now the official liaison with the Coven. We know that after the flurry of media speculation, following the press conference Melissa and Julian attended, there has been a lull. Television channels have been especially sober in any reportage related to the Coven, or any event attributed to it. The name is now out, and no-one knows for sure who it is or what it is for, other than promoting world peace. No extra-terrestrial, let alone galactic,  connection is suggested anywhere. The tone of the few articles is only sober and respectful: journalists have been told by their editors to keep it that way, or else.

We reach the freeway in the direction of Brooklyn. Melissa explains that our escort – a grey SUV with reflecting black windows which has been trailing us since Long Island –  will now precedes us and that another car will take its place. Soon enough a dark blue van is on our tail, I cannot see inside either but notice the tall antenna on its roof.

As we reach Brooklyn Melissa slows down. We are sandwiched by our escort, front and back. After half an hour through the streets Melissa turns off and the car faces what looks like a massive warehouse. The SUV is in front of us, soon a huge metal door opens and the three cars move in. The door closes.

The escort wears dark overalls and masks. They carry short machine guns. Melissa leads us towards a staircase, preceded by two armed masked men. The stairs lead to a small room with a lift. There is no button or visible control near the lift. It opens, we walk in, the door shuts without a sound. We exit the lift a few seconds later, I think we went up. We now stand in front of a closed door of polished wood. Julian presses my hand, and I can feel his anguish. Then the door opens: Gabrielle is on the threshold, smiling. She signals me to walk in, followed by Julian and Melissa. The door closes silently, I guess our guards stand now by the door.

I follow Gabrielle into a wide corridor, between walls painted a pale ochre. Paintings of boat races and aircrafts ornate these walls. Turning round I see that Melissa is leading Julian by the hand: she smiles and signals me that all is well. Gabrielle opens a door at the end of the corridor: it opens into a large well lit office, and near a massive desk in its middle stands Elga. She is absolutely stunning, her long black hair to the shoulder, wearing a grey suit that perfectly renders her athletic shape in a way I find immediately disturbing. Behind the desk stands a tall man with a crew cut wearing the four stars of a US Air Force general.

Gabrielle does the presentation, and then hugs me. Julian and I shake hands with the general. We are offered comfortable seats and coffee, that Elga serves herself. Julian sits between Melissa and me. I notice that Melissa left the handgun in her car.

The general welcomes us and says how happy he is to meet us at long last. He refers to the press conference but not to the missiles. Then in the quiet and firm voice of a man used to be listened to without fuss, he says that Melissa, Julian and me have been invited to attend a conference of the four largest military powers in the world: the Great Power herself and her Asia challenger, the Russian Federation and Japan. The military Alliance will be also represented. The conference will take place in the fall, in Berlin. Another round of coffee is being served. I relax a little, Elga smiles at me, the general stands up and invites us to look at the view. Then I notice that behind us, where the door stood, is al large bay window. The view is that of the whole of New-York City and a good slice of New Jersey, as if we were at a very high altitude, perhaps a kilometre high. And maybe we are.

A house on Long Island

SecretiveI, Melissa Baudoin, who, in our school days, loved Julian more than my own life, is now charged with his, and his lovely wife Sarah’s, protection. I am standing at JFK’s airport, just behind the Emigration line, and their plane landed half an hour ago. I don’t expect them to have a huge amount of luggage, they are here only for a few days.

Gabrielle and Elga will meet with them at our Brooklyn safe house tomorrow. In-between they are my flock to look after. But perhaps I should tell you who I am, really. Last time you saw me I was with Julian on that strange military base  near the German border where we attended a media circus organised by the Alliance. Then Julian noticed Elga there but I did not have the courage to explain to him the reason for Elga’s presence in the middle of the Alliance’s top brass. Now I will, when they meet again tomorrow.

I report to the Coven, the collective who, ultimately, was responsible for my rebirth, after I got murdered by those thugs, all those years ago, after Julian abandoned me. No, please don’t think I have a grudge, he did what young men then did: go to war, us, the mothers, the sisters, the lovers, stayed behind, that was how it was, then. In what you may call their Air Force I have the grade of colonel, and my mission is to ensure our human witnesses are kept safe. Above all Julian and Sarah. Here in New-York they will get appraised of the plot that we are trying to unravel and defeat. The step after that is for Julian and me to go to Berlin, so that we meet with the centre of power that will soon decide our fate on this planet.

But I see Julian and his wife now going through Emigration. They are such a lovely couple, and despite the inherent frigidity of this body, my heart swells at the view of that man, for how I loved him, the virgin boy who was my platonic lover, and yet I never truly possessed him. Here they are smiling as they walk toward me. I hugged Sarah first, and, yes, we kiss, long, on the mouth. Then I hug Julian, and I am aware of a tear running down Sarah’s face.

“Come, I say, I have a car, I am driving you to your house.” I have arranged for a nice place for them to stay, on Long Island, a hundred miles from here. In the car I explain the plan. Tonight peaceful evening at home. Gabrielle will join us, I have dinner all sorted out, then they have the evening for themselves, once we have briefed them on the schedule. I will stay in the house, watching over them, discrete, invincible. You see: I need no sleep. As I sit down at the wheel of the Mercedes I check the holster down my thigh and the 9mm Heckler & Koch handgun in it. I cannot be too careful. In the car we chat, Sarah next to me, Julian at the back. I pulled out of the airport traffic quickly and take the main highway to the north. Sarah’s talkative, I share with them my experience here. Julian is silent, smiling, observing me. Sarah’s telling me about their last stay in the US, some five years ago in Chicago. They are both keen jazz lovers. I smile: Julian was already that at school. I recall us two discussing Miles’ and Juliette Greco’s relationship.

A black van overtakes us briefly flashing its lights: our US Air Force guardian angels. We get to the house, which is some distance from the main road, behind high walls, and close to the shore. As I stop Julian makes his first statement of the evening about the sight of tall sail boats in the bay. We laugh. As I park the car I notice the front door is open. I tell Julian and Sarah to stay near the car and walk to the house, the H&K drawn. One of the US officers appears at the door and apologizes. We have been a little faster than they expected: they had to scan, again, the house. He salutes and disappears behind the house, where I expect their van is parked. Still holding the gun I wave to my friends to come in, while I get their suitcase from the car. As I walk back to the house I see Julian and Sarah hugging in the hall. I smile and say cheekily: “Plenty of time later, let me show you your room.” Soon we are chatting in the lounge, comfortably sitting on the huge leather arm chairs, savouring bourbon on ice. Then Gabrielle arrives and there is a clatter of greetings, hugs and kisses, while I rush to the kitchen and get the cook going. The H&K is quietly back to its holster, fully loaded.