The unknown as elixir-a silent dining room-Hotel seteais, Sintra, Portugal

Wayne Cook

Joined August 2008

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Wall Art

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Chapter five: Squeaky Door

Change comes, a thief in the night
It can rob me, So…who am I?

If I choose to change, I rob the thief
Of its surprise—The angel,
At his own device…

It is not the evil
But the unprepared
And brings my heart to bow
My body may show its suffering,
My heart remains either
Obedient….or defiant,
And I do the choosing.

My searching, humble heart
Will carry me,
Through many hard times
The lessons I learn
Will bring me eventual joy.

Ask and it shall be given,
Seek and you will find
Knock and the door will be opened….
Matthew 7:7

“Yes sir, that project design is moving along well. We’re right on schedule with the electrical specifications for those two buildings. Yes, the original current load was higher than we were first told, so the designs have been adjusted for the larger cables to deliver the 6,000 amp service to each tower. Right, and the final drawings will be ready on Tuesday morning with the changes and the chief engineer’s signature.”

There was a pause on the line. “Jack, you know how important this project is to us. “

“Of course, sir. Are there any areas that give you concern?”

“No, I suppose not. Just, please keep in mind the exigency for confidentiality in moving forward.”

“Yes sir.” Jack slowly hung up the receiver, puzzled as to the meaning of the caller. “Sounded like he had a gun to his head,” he muttered, feeling further unease as time passed.

Shaking off the growing sense of impending collision with the unknown, he turned to his laptop, and pulled up a webpage for a relaxing look at Portugal scenes. Randomly, he picked one site that had old looking figures, and watched the show as the animated slides flipped past. The images were well composed and more interesting than he thought they’d be, old monuments, statues and buildings of a more modern age.

It is always easy to perceive the rest of the world as being this way or that custom, though we know little about, for example, the life of a taxi driver in Bogota’ or the comings and goings of a pilot in Paris or closer to home, how electrical engineers must function in an ancient city like Lisbon.

A thought occurred to him, giving him a pleasant feeling. What about finding a pen pal in Lisbon? Beginning to enter a dream-like state, his mind created serious and silly possibilities, what if this, and travel that, meet the impossible with a prepared mind, watching for open opportunities, and on his brain raced.

Suddenly, at one of the tourist agencies, his eyes blinked rapidly. The picture was innocuous enough, simply a plaza and shot of the President’s Palace, or so it was labeled, but it was two people positioned in mid frame of the shot, composed to highlight the palace, that caused him to stop….he quickly saved the image in a folder on his computer.

Writing a note to the agency under their catch-all email, he closed the browser window and his laptop. It was close enough to his normal workday that he could leave, unnoticed. Packing the few items of his workaday inventory, he zipped his backpack shut, and headed out of the firm’s offices to the elevator for the long ride to the first floor.

The silent steel doors opened often, on that vertical drop, a person or two from the odd floor, entering as he had, polite greetings from familiar faces, bland and tired from another day in an interminable train of sunrise to sunset efforts on the behalf of a company, family and future. Jack’s thoughts were far away, ruminating on faces, places and events that could lead him on his chosen search, which completing the work that Mr. Alan desired of him. Those bland, chiseled features puzzled and irritated him, as he was fairly certain that the man was intentionally hiding things from him that made Jack feel both excitement and unease. He was just enough of a risk taker, that he didn’t mind not knowing what to expect, that he was anticipating whatever John’s “game” was.

The unknown is an elixir of adventure to certain of us, a taste of the unique, the promise of open doors, and the discovery of intangibles, that entice us with their inviting fingers, teasing smiles and flashing eyes, as the path often takes on the form of someone we dream would represent the attractiveness of such a trail. Be it dangerous or merely misted a fun and misted over vacation, a path to what we don’t now know, drives those with sharply inquisitive minds and waiting hearts, into waiting for transient door ways, opening one more clue, one more view, the turn in the maze of endless knowledge.

The elevator bumped to a stop on the first level, and the close-packed crowd slowly disengaged from the humming space. Jack was the last to leave, his mind off on yet another journey, a dream fertile with photographs, streets, and people of a place he was soon to visit and knew only sketchy facts about. Sterile facts that would evolve and come to life, as he approached day by day, his departure and excursion.

Hailing his usual taxi, he slid into the vinyl back seat, the driver, already known to him, greeted him cheerily and made a left turn at the next traffic signal. They exchanged pleasantries about the man’s family, the soccer game of the driver’s oldest daughter upcoming the following afternoon, and a few minutes later, the car pulled in front of the tower where the young man lived. Paying the fare and a nice tip for the driver’s kindness, Jack exited the car, and entered the squeaky front door of his apartment building.

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