Monday, October 6, 2008

A Condensed History of North East I - 3rd Part : C

Part III: North’s Revolution - Segment C

One morning, Sherlock Holmes brought him to a café in Broad Street for a luncheon of seafood. The great detective was not known to fancy foods, but a nice meal was the least he can do to thank North for the young lad had just saved his life that morning. They finished at one, after noon according to the clocks, but the sky and lights seemed to argue that it was still seven after dawn. The cold was unwelcoming. The mist and the grayness of everything could have been either real or manifestations of North’s perspective according to the arguments in his mind. Nothing was bright despite the streetlamps, and even the shadows lack their contrasting darkness. Nothing was clear. There was a storm nearing.

The not quite father and son took a stroll, and Holmes gave North a fatherly advice to not overdo with gifted skills.

Two weeks before, North went missing. Aunt Irene used all the strings she could pull but all she got were loose ends. Even Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes had no leads. Nobody in the whole of London claimed to see him. North East just disappeared. He committed no crime (the Holmes brothers guaranteed), he was not in any trouble, and he was not running away from anyone.

What happened was North simply walked away one night with no particular direction or reason in mind. Or he might have a thought and reason in mind, but he left the part of his mind that had it somewhere in the beginning of his inexplicable journey. Thirteen days passed and there were no news still, not even about a dead body being found and matching North’s features.

On the morning of the fifteenth day after his disappearance, North appeared. Holmes was tinkering with some devices to be used shortly for some inhalation exercises. He had just placed a bottle over a lit Bunsen burner when North barged in and slapped the glass tubes from the detective’s hands. Without a word, North pulled him up by the arms and dragged him to his front door. In confusion and by natural reflex, the great detective wrestled him off and pinned him down barely past the threshold, which was not unusual to his practice prior to questioning. But the questioning was not needed, as the answer automatically came unexpectedly and with a blast: Holmes paraphernalia exploded like thirty camera bulbs flashed at once. North pulled Sherlock Holmes’ head down.

The room was deadly white for a few less than ten seconds, but the two of them kept their eyes shut tight until well after a minute. They were mostly safe from the explosion since both their backs were toward the room and both their faces were almost flat on the floor. With eyes half-closed due to faint after-images of the sudden flare, they talked. It was totally easy for Sherlock Holmes to see, figuratively, that his life was not really in danger but somebody planned to do away with his sight. When North was asked what he knew, the young lad could not answer. Once, he even asked if the detective was referring to him when he said the name North.
He did not know anything was what he said, and that if he knew anything, there was no reason not to tell Sherlock. How he knew about the flaring powder was beyond him. He knew that someone had spiked Holmes’ powder with some other chemicals—maybe magnesium or potassium or something more powerful—but he could not say who and how he might have known. He could not even explain why he came in at the right moment as the detective placed the glass on the burner. He thought hard—harder than he ever did all his life—but it was like dealing with amnesia when you know something but you cannot figure out why or how you know it, and it was futile.

Sherlock Holmes checked him for pulse inconsistencies and proved he was not lying. He pulled himself up, dusted his knees, and then held a hand to this young confused rescuer. There were small fires in the room to be extinguished and shards to be cleared, but that was the least of their problems then. North slumped on the seat, which was formerly Dr. Watson’s and started to berate himself for being useless, for being not in control of his own mind. Holmes offered him a cigar to relax, and reminded him that he just saved two of the most important pair of eyes in Europe, and probably in the whole world. North had just displayed a level of deduction and inference yet to be mastered by anyone, and that that was far superior to Holmes’ own, which was the best and the keenest in the entire Kingdom. But it was troubling that someone with that faculty would have to belong to someone who forgets his own name. After a few puffs, he took him out to lunch to eat and to talk, and to help him pull himself together.

North told Sherlock Holmes that he knew he was roaming across the southeast of Britain for two weeks but he could not remember any detail. He saw many things but everything seemed blurry now that he tries to recollect, and he could not remember why he did it. There was at the start something about knowing a war was about to happen and then he just started to walk because he felt he needed to go somewhere. He remembered, when he tried his best to, that he wanted to visit his father and then go to France to see Nurse Victoire’s hometown and the young man she used to talk about when he asked her to tell him a story when he was small. He also remembered searching for a man—a penniless poet or a struggling painter—and that somehow, he knew that that man would be able to help shift the world’s history. One day, he became conscious that when he was speaking to himself, he never called himself by name. Then he realized he forgot his own name or who he was in general. He was in the middle of nowhere and a disturbing revelation just came to him. He did not think of it as a realization then, but he knew it was going to happen and that he had to rush back. What followed was what happened that morning at Baker Street.

Holmes advised North to not be too hard on himself, that he needs to relax for a couple of weeks to keep his mind in order. What North displayed was incredible, but it was believable when one thinks of it scientifically, and everything settles down to science, Sherlock said. It was a new level of genius. The skill to foresee future events and reading people’s actions before they were done as if it was pure impulse or reflex should mature gradually and should not be forced to perfect. Else, Holmes added as a closing remark before they parted as he just had a realization as to the suspects for that morning’s episode, even the most capable brain would break down. North had the power of clairvoyance, but it would cost him much of his brain if he lets it. It was either North learns to control it or give it up. North’s mind in its normal state, Sherlock pressed, was already great, and it would not be wise to upgrade it at the cost of his own sanity. Of course, they both acknowledged that it was what saved Holmes that morning, but aside from that it would not be worth the price North would have to pay.

North would remember this lesson and the events of this day eighteen years later, before his fall.

North East I got home at around three and he went straight to bed. He was not sleepy at all, but his body was weary and he wanted to rest his head. He was on the verge of incoherence most of the time for the past weeks. His mind was appearing to act on its own and without his assent, and who knows what it might be doing beyond his knowledge. His mind needs to slow down, to unwind, and to realign its fragments, or it might just break some of its gears. Enough thinking, he thought; no more philosophies, no esoterics, no more plans, no more schemes, no more problems. But the more he tried not to think, the more he did. He fell asleep thinking.

At seven in the evening, he was awakened by a cry of horror from the street. He could not decide between getting up to go out and staying in bed for much needed rest. If he went out, he might be able to save somebody, but the tension might snap the last fiber of the string that was holding his sanity together.

After four minutes, there was a second cry, but there was no sound of anyone else. Nobody was responding. Or maybe, he thought, it was just him who could hear. Maybe the cries were all in his head. Great thought. Now he needs more to check if the cries were real, or maybe he needs more to rest. He had to choose, but he knew no choice could be good.

Third cry. North pulled himself up. As he did, a sharp, deep, and bitter paroxysm shot all over his body as if he was being turned inside out. It felt as if the room was taking a different shape: Something two dimensional, or one: How many sides does a line segment have? It mattered not. He was being driven mad, uncontrolled, frenetic, bizarre… no, the word for this hasn’t been coined yet. He felt like every particle of his body was being ripped to a million pieces, like his cells turned to blades slicing each other up, like his blood turned to countless arrows, not being shot into but being pulled from everywhere it was suppose to flow. He swallowed his voice, and when he tried to scream, he drowned in air. His vision turned to black, but the kind of black that burns the eyes more than the brightest light. He could not tell which part of his body was which. He clawed, gnashed, punched, kicked, and squirmed, and he tore his clothes off until the suffering suddenly ceased. It was over. He did not even wheeze. He opened his eyes, or maybe his eyesight just came back, and it was all right.

There was not a trace of pain; he could not even remember how the pain felt when he tried to imagine it. It could not have been a dream, he discerned. It was too physical. In fact, the sensations were purely physical, although there was no way to be sure. He found it hard to trust his mind.

When North was sure he was fully normal again, he stood up and went to the water basin in a corner to wash his face. As he was splashing on his hair, however, something caught his peripherals. He turned his head and saw that there was another lad lying naked on his bed. Carefully, confusedly, and very nervously he walked towards the person to see his face. He discovered exactly what he feared, which was exactly what happened some years ago: The other man was him.

Another cry echoed outside. North did not hesitate that time to get to the source of the scream. He left dealing with the other North East for later. He put on the first clothes he found and grabbed the first thing that may be used as a weapon.

At the same time, the other North got up, and as this North did so, this North diffused like smoke into air, and then this North was completely gone, without any trace. The original North (or at least he was the original in his own point of view) saw it happen but he was not in the luxury to mind it at that instance. He rushed out of their apartment, ran across the street, and got into the place of the cries’ origin just in time to see a band of cops hauling three corpses into a carriage. Whatever it was that had happened, North was sure of only one thing: He was too late.

North kept that strange incident to himself, afraid that Nurse Victoire or Aunt Irene might send him to the asylum or, worse, that Sherlock Holmes would ban him from the medicine stash. He searched for a scientific or any remotely reasonable explanation for those episodes of Two Norths. The easiest and most logical conclusion he accepted was that it was all psychological, that the experience he already twice had was a morbid form of sleep-walking. That’s it. He would not force his mind to go any farther, or at least he would just look for a ready-made answer.

Sigmund Freud and his works were enjoying popularity in those times, and North did not let pass having a copy of The Interpretation of Dreams. North also made sure he knew about the background of the Austrian physician and psychologist. North was all intent in reading about the theories of the unconscious mind and the topology of the psyche, but he became outraged when he discovered the parts about the necessity of psychoanalysis and Freud’s recollection of sexual attraction towards his own mother Amalia.

To North, his mind was only his own to observe. He judged psychotherapy as only for the weak-minded and that a man with proper will and self-awareness—such as him—should be able to manage his own psychopathology with introspection alone. Letting his rational appetite go and letting his primal impulsive will take over, he sent a graphically disgusted letter to Freud in which he called the doctor a quack and the world’s most significant preconscious motherfucker. He also wrote that not everybody gets the privilege to have parents—some of us have mothers who had been brutally mutilated and fathers who have been forsaken by their own minds—and that repression is as much a part of life as thinking or breathing. He accused Freud of promoting a worse mental sickness than the ones he claimed to treat: a sickness called deinhibition.

Incidentally, deinhibition is one of two characteristics of Frontotemporal Dementia, a mental disorder being suffered from in those days by a man named Friedrich Nietzsche. Of the hundred readings that had been under North’s scrutiny, Nietzsche’s works were kept in the in the least-resented shelf along with Prince and The Leviathan.

As a form of respect, probably since North thought it would be among the last the German would receive, he tried to correspond with the diseased author about his own version of perspectivism. North’s was about an individual’s perspective on anything if that individual truly affirms the existence of God. He also wrote his thoughts on nihilism and piety, plus the abstract of his ideas about starting a war to unite all races. He described his views as internationalist and his ambition to shift the world’s polarity of superpower nations to end colonialism and bring about a world where every region and country coexists in equality and mutual respect. He included in the letter a draft of his plans on how to forward his cause.

After a month, North received a letter from Freud’s sister Elizabeth stating that Friedrich had been mentally ill, withdrawn, and virtually helpless for years. North knew about this but did not anticipate the German’s condition to be that dire. However, he was more taken aback when Elizabeth mentioned their surprise when Friedrich actually got to read North’s papers despite his condition. Elizabeth also queried about the contents of his letter because after reading, Friedrich stood up and by himself went to the hearth to burn the papers. The clincher was, after it, Friedrich sunk lower than his previous state and, after a few days, died of a stroke. North never wrote back.

Nietzsche was the first and last person to read North’s own handwritten synthesis of human nature and societies. Yet, sociologists and political scientists would not find it a loss to let pass North’s philosophies because North himself acknowledged the reality that his writings could only work if it was carried out by him and him alone.

To others, especially the learned individuals, North’s views are nothing but patches of insights pulled from various existing sources. Psychologists would agree unanimously that North just happened to be on a thinking frenzy affected by some popular ideologies of his time, with the help of both written and ingested stimuli.
Other ideologists and followers of famous political theorists would most probably spit on North’s ideas as these ideas were so simple-minded yet snobbish. How dare he, they would say, collect the papers of great thinkers and then shun them all out and then judge their supporters? Members of clashing ideologies would set their differences aside and proclaim that this North practically knows nothing and yet he declares that he knows everything! Then, they would laugh at the fifteen-year old lad for he was pitiful. And they would laugh some more because he was despicable. And then, when they could laugh no more, they will sigh and go back to their respective bases and prepare once more for their never-ending intellectual warfare.
What they did not know was North actually calculated and expected these kinds of reviews. It was all for the best of humanity, he judged, that nobody should pay attention to his written works because the demonstration which was to follow was in no way to be hindered or corrupted.

So it was good for North that all these reactions and criticisms were imaginary.

North smirked when he thought about it. Still, if they were real, it means they were threatened and scared. It only went to show that his views were at worst as valid as all of theirs. He supposed with much pondering that everybody thinks that way about everybody else because Man is pompous and self-righteous by nature, that man could not help it without being hypocritical.

Even though there were no written accounts of North’s ideology, the author, for the sake of the reader, tried to evaluate North’s recorded actions and very briefly summarize some of it on the following paragraphs. The views presented below are not necessarily that of the author, and the author gives no assurance that the succeeding statements match North’s ideas one hundred percent.

North East I believed individual philosophy is important. But all ways of thinking are valid yet petty, absolutely right from one side and totally wrong from another, with two far ends causing debates that lead nowhere and gray areas all along its span promoting fatigue and apathy. They are double edged daggers that cut both ways always, and people tend to abuse it for personal gains. Sometimes even, they have more than two points: a lot of loose ends running the length of its thread tangles and frizz. In relation to this, individualism in style is a mask and an illusion.

In addition, North East I was particularly amused by philosopher who betrays his own teachings, or by any follower who acts against his or her supposed cause.

As for his own points of view, one main thing is that, for him, the essence of being human is to aim for godliness and be above being just another man. To use one’s own brain instead of centering all praise and blame on a preferred type of supreme being. The goal is to put all responsibility on oneself like there is no higher being to turn to as a last resort, but to be always searching for a way to follow the path towards God. All lies in self-regulation and resolve. Any person can be stopped or bested by another; it is up to anyone to be either the latter or the former. Introspection must be learned. It can be done thoroughly and effectively when one uses his or her brain seriously.

Society should be a system where people do not just work for others but their own lives’ fulfillment as well. This is important so that man can realize himself and work towards the betterment of himself instead of the ruin of others, and instead of wasting time and resources blaming their superiors or the societal structure. Everybody wants to be rich and proud. When people shout for social equality, it is because they are on the disadvantaged side (although some well-off ones also utilize riding the issues of the plight of those on the disadvantaged side). North’s dream society is not a Utopia of all-equals. But it is a place where even blue collars are able to enjoy what the black suits can. It is an untried status quo where the places are maintained but the divisions are demolished. It is where everyone can be someone to aspire to be, and everyone can dream and be responsible for his advancement. Individuals should be responsible for their own fate and standing in society. As far as whole nations and races are concerned, North is for internationalism and world citizenship. But of course, he made his own tweaks so his ideas never exactly match the descriptions of any popular philosophy we learn from books.

So his thoughts are as good as any other in the textbooks or in some random person’s mind. If his was not the best, even he thought, it is at least equally valid. What makes his better is his chosen ways to promote it. What makes it superior is his conviction as much as his unusual qualifications. If he’d have to commit crimes, he would, and he did.

North’s War is nearing; but not as almost-here as the Crimes of the Easts.

Continued on Part 4: Crimes of the Easts
Previous: Part 3: North's revolution - Segment B

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Condensed History of North East I - 3rd Part : B

Part III: North’s Revolution - Segment B

All North could remember when he woke up the following morning was the other character was talking and handing him some things: A stub of red candle, some sheets of paper, a pen, and an envelope. Because of the shock of the previous night and the lethargy of his state as he was trying to recall the incident, he found it almost impossible to make any sense of the second North’s monologue.

Suspecting that one of his irregular peers had played a prank on him, he inspected the candle and compared with his own fingerprints the markings on the wax surface. Based on that, the findings affirmed that the apparition was not a prank but definitely baffling, as the prints on the candle—which he swore he had never touched before, and held only with a cardboard tong during the check—were all his. But just to be sure, being the hard-headed cynic scientific-thinker that he was, he weaved a fictional yet more believable scenario to talk Sherlock Holmes into collecting and producing a database of fingerprints.

Contrary to popular belief, Sherlock Holmes was not a cold heartless problem-solving machine as one queer French monk describes him to be. In actuality, North needed only to say once that a fingerprint system might provide the only lead to solve Maria’s murder, and all those killings that trailed close. It was not just because of the good probability of effectiveness that Holmes agreed to the boy, it was because of his compassion to his fellowmen, especially to North whom he treated like his own son. Having said that, it can also be inferred that Sherlock Holmes’ heir (and it is correct to say, his upgraded version) The Bat Man loves to laugh.

Months later, Holmes himself convinced the British authorities that a fingerprint system would be handy for forensics as it had been for the Chinese and Persians centuries ago, and he himself had researched. By 1895, a fingerprint classification system and the first Fingerprint Bureau was created in British India, and its success led to the foundation of like agencies in the UK and in New York. Sadly, in spite of all its finger-pointing efficiency, the system became of no use to North.

With the help of Dr. John Watson and his exercises and prescription medicines, North gradually gave up his prepubescent dependence on drugs. When he was twelve, he got over his obsession in finding the alleged doppelganger, putting that night’s episode’s credit to the cocaine. He would not have succeeded, though, if he had not suffered some months of brain-fever, which was what really disabled him from acquiring and consuming addictive injectibles and inhalables. It was only when he recovered from the illness that the withdrawal appeared to take its toll. North became withdrawn from human interaction. He spent most of 1897 and a little of 1898 in solitude, self-imprisoned in the study of Mycroft Holmes, and nosing through political books, classified papers, and confidential ledgers.

At this point, it is necessary to acquaint the readers to the character of Mycroft. As his seven-year younger brother Sherlock would put it; Mycroft Holmes had again and again provided elucidations to perplexing cases, which constantly proved to be correct in the end. But Mycroft lacks physical energy, and would rather be regarded wrong rather than to exert effort to prove that he is right. As for his profession, it can be summed up simply as the most indispensable position in the British Government. Sherlock might have even said once that Mycroft was sometimes the British Government. Everything goes through him. Indeed, Mycroft had an extraordinary faculty for figures and peculiar details that even Sherlock could overlook. He also displayed signs of misanthropy, and thus, was not keen to having company. This trait was the obvious reason for him co-founding the Diogenes Club, a society for loners who only love to sit and read. A number of scholars have speculated that the club served as a front for the British Secret service, and they have proofs and stories to back up their theories on this.

During those times, Mycroft could not care less about North rummaging his classified papers. None of the contents would make sense to a twelve-year old, anyway, and he was right. All the sensitive information there were only as good to North as an inside joke he heard delivered in a circle he was outside of. Realizing his boredom and the feeling of being outcast, North put his attention to published books. Nevertheless, this shifting of interest never meant to say that he had forgotten anything he had already mentally ingested, with or without sense.

Nurse Victoire, having long before given up talking North into going to normal school, couldn’t have been more content in seeing the young man buried in various readings. That way at least, she thought, his mind wouldn’t atrophy academically. Still, she was troubled that he might not be able to find a regular and decent job because of lack of official merits. She feared that North might end up like his father, or worse, like her former son-figure Arsene. She never realized that her fear was really an educated premonition.

To help North East I outgrow his acute aversion to other people (staying with Mycroft was the last thing the kid needs, she expressed openly), Victoire took him along to her work in the clinics and hospitals across the East End. At first, he abhorred the display of fondness of Victoire’s peers, but in a span of weeks, he learned to appreciate them and enjoy their attention. It was easy for him to acknowledge the value of the nurses’ work, and it was no wonder that he promised himself to be one day one of them, or maybe, unlike his father, he can be a doctor.

Say by day, North became more and more interested in medical practice. It came to a point where Victoire had to make ways so North would not come with her to work anymore, as he was becoming obtrusive to the staff. North was reasonable and sensitive enough to understand the troubles he was causing, and he eventually came back to the quiet anaerobic company of books and periodicals.

This chapter of his life opened his eyes to the world, from scientific breakthroughs to international relations. Of all the topics he read about, he was most interested in the developments that followed the publication of The Origin of Species and A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism; the invention of the telephone, the opening of Suez Canal, Japan’s dawn of rapid modernization, the massive expansion of the United States; the end of British East India Company, the Long Depression in Western Europe, the Franco-Prussian War, Jack the Ripper’s murders, the famines in Finland, Persia, and China; the end of Russian-Circassian War and of the American-Indian Wars, the freedom of the Balkans, the Philippine Revolution, and the revival of the Olympic Games in Athens. These and a lot more were all imprinted in North’s mind, leaving a lasting impression about the path the world was taking.

Although North acquired Sherlock’s disinterest in Philosophy, he busied himself with the thought-provoking ideologies that were very active in his time, just for the sake of gathering knowledge about their subjects. It wasn’t because he was indifferent in these schools of thought—in point if fact, North had many intriguing socio-political and existential queries lingering in his head—he just found them all unsatisfactory. For him, philosophies always work two opposing ways, with their answers most of the time leading to questioning itself, are entirely corruptible, and are apparently useless when applied to general practical applications like, say, man’s life driven by his natural attitude. In North’s view, the end always lies in individuals molesting even the purest of ideas and the most noble of reasons to feed his own glory and appetites; and that on the other hand, nobody’s life would actually stop just because of the absence of ideological guidelines.

As his forefather Heading East was interested in religion only for its social implications, North saw that the probable effects of different ideologies only operate when fed or sold to collective minds, i.e. to a group of people organized by a common way of viewing a system or structure. To an individual, the most genius and infallible principles (if there was one) amounts to nothing, even when that individual lives tightly by it. But when many think as one and they act to represent one, then that is when change pushes through. Of course, the most foolish of nincompoops know this. And so it was not this realization that would make North a catalyst in our known history, but the madness it triggered in him. Having his own theories and postulates about the guiding laws of life created in him a mild megalomania or hubris, and this would drive him to making corrupted calculations and actions until the years that would see his end as North East I.

To illustrate his behavior regarding his personal philosophies, presented below are some incidents that occurred from 1899 to 1901.

He deliberately ended his more than one year hiatus from drugs, proclaiming to himself that nobody knows better about him than him, so nobody can tell him what to inhale or inject. He was currently in his early teens, and his hormones could not have been any happier with that attitude. Well, those hormones were partly responsible for his decision to welcome back the vices, anyway. He was a teenage rebel who essentially had a cause: Cocaine-driven and morphine-fueled plans to systematically sensationally change the world.

He started by criticizing not society but the other people who were already criticizing society and propagating their own teachings. There was too much anger and lies, he thought. His first onset was against the New Thought Movement. Although he roughly accepted their belief that all sickness originates in the mind, he judged all their metaphysical teachings as delusions. Even as he agreed with occultist Aleister Crowley that a great cause of failure in life is ignorance of one’s true will, he shunned Crowley’s notion of True Will as mystically influenced by the Universe. He even commented on why they capitalize the T and W.

Just to demonstrate his point, North traveled to Crowley’s home to befriend him, charm him, seduce him. The young man led the famous occultist on in every way one may imagine until they get to the point where they were all alone in a bedroom and Crowley was already totally naked, fully and painfully erect, and very ready to enter the tight puckered realms of fantasy. Suddenly, North turned him down on the spot, mockingly claiming that it was not the True Will of either of them, and that the Universe is the one to blame if, in a short while, somebody’s lower stomach started to hurt. He left Aleister Crowley with a false consolatory remark: “Sorry, it’s not you, it’s the Universe.” He went away disturbingly pleased with himself, trying hard to suppress a sweet satanic smirk. Flirting, petting, and what-else with another man was a confirmation that he will not let himself be stopped by anything. This reaffirmation gave him a much better high than a fine blend of opium and cocaine chased by absinthe and morphine.

One afternoon, he was halfway through a folder of articles (some were not from publications, as this was borrowed from Mycroft) about Max Planck and Albert Einstein and their works, when he suddenly dropped his readings. When Victoire came home that evening, she saw North staring blankly and motionless at a Van Gogh reproduction on the wall. She did not mind him at first, for this was nothing beyond normal for him. When she called him for dinner and she saw that he was still in the same static position even as a large spider was crawling around his neck, she thought that that was what’s wrong. She rolled a paper, walked towards North, told him not to move and realized it was a waste of words, duh! (or whatever expression they used), and assured him it’s not going to harm him. She chucked away the crawler with one precise swing, taking care not to hit North’s nape, lest the spider’s spiky hair dig through his skin. The critter was thrown to the floor but it never suffered the fall’s impact, because at the very moment it hit the ground, its eight eyes saw the growing shadow of Victoire’s foot, and that was the last thing it saw. But still, North was not moving, he was not even blinking. She called, and he did not answer. She shook him, but he did not respond. So the spider was not the problem, and Victoire would have thought about whether she should feel guilty for wrongfully murdering it if she was not panicking about North in his mannequin state. Every gentle thing she tried failed to snap him out. Against her heart, she slapped him hard, and it was so hard that North dropped down from his chair. The thud brought him back to his senses.

He suddenly, instinctively, and confusedly looked around, and realized what happened. He stood up and abruptly hugged the dazed nurse. He hugged her tight, then he sobbed, then he cried. He cried for a long time, as if he was making up for all the tears he had kept in all his life. That was the first and last time Victoire saw him do so, and she had no idea what was going on. North never tried to speak the whole time he was crying (even if he did, it would be muffled) and he never spoke about it afterwards. What she did not know was that he, for the very first time in his life, confirmed to himself that he believed there is a God.

In the days that followed, North became too preoccupied with a lot of simultaneous thoughts about the rules that manage the physical world. It became painful, and the pain in his head prevented him from being able to read. This was not a setback, though, since he thought no reading could have helped him with his current ponderings, which was bugging him plenty. He tried not to think about it, but it was too late since he already started. The harder he tried to shake it off his mind, the more it stuck, and the shaking only heightened the headache. Having no choice, he gave in to the pestering thoughts, and he started by muttering Dear Lord.

By believing in the existence of an all-powerful Entity, he felt small, helpless, and ignorant. He was thinking that if a supreme being created everything, then every question that anyone can come up with must have an answer. To him, following God is not limited to following doctrines. It is about learning God’s works and exceeding current human limits to decipher the great puzzle which is the world, including everything within and beyond its material domain. To him, life and the whole of creation is a clue that would lead to finding the Creator, if one knew how to look.

North carried the burden of decoding creation everywhere his feet took him and as far as a single human mind can take. He believed that any man of any standing can do it—that a mathematician or a physicist could find Him in equations as a farmer could in the earth and its crops, but a man who amounts to nothing because he is doing nothing about his life never could. That was his problem, as he realized that despite the numerous bits of almost all available knowledge he had, he was still nothing.

Finally, the burden held him down. He became absent-minded and sometimes incoherent. The pot sessions with Sherlock Holmes did not help his mental health. North became more and more unhinged, even delusional, until one day, he convinced himself that he could foresee the future.

Continued on Part 3: North’s Revolution - Segment C
Previous: Part 3: North's revolution - Segment A

Copyright 2008 Klaro de Asis

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Condensed History of North East I - 3rd Part : A

Part III: North’s Revolution

He was born in France between December 1884 and January 1885 exactly at the split-second tick before the first chime of the clock set off at midnight’s strike. He was named North East by his father Middle because the poor man thought it would bring good fortune if the name pertained to the positive-positive quadrant of the Cartesian plane.

This was three decades before the time of North’s War, the period when North East I would Split and bring into existence Maiv Norte and Evan Timor: Norte meaning North; and Timor being a cross between the word East and the name of the Roman mythological personification of horror. To those gifted with selective dyslexia, both full names can be read as

As history is constantly subject to reinterpretations, constant unlearning is always advisable. However, the written series of occurrences that proceeded from Heading East to South East are final and firmly bound to their timeline and the respective events involved (research on the reader’s part is encouraged). It is due to an entirely different reason that the reader is advised to forget everything he or she had learned and is about to learn about the Easts, particularly North.

During the three years that followed his son’s birth, Middle had undergone the most terrible chain of misfortunes of his willed life. And as all that had happened during these years were consequent to his willful choices and conscious actions, it was not hard to pin on him any blame that emerged and had ruined his life.
Fortuna had a hand, of course, but his Virtu was reckless:

The first problem with him was that he could never stick to his jobs. He hopped from one line of work to another (even up to four at a time) with false hope that the next ones would be better-paying. Nobody can be held at fault for this, not even an unschooled nobody like him, he thought. And that was true, but only to a certain point: Reason.

An offshoot of a legacy of traveling men, hence a master of languages, he once had a desk job, albeit in an indecent periodical, as a ghost writer. But the office was shut down shortly by the government and he was incriminated in libel cases. In the courtroom, he proved that a drunken man can speak articulately for he so fluently cursed everyone present in every language he knew, except in French. Unfortunately, the judge present there was half-German and Middle was betrayed by alliteration of
scheide and schwuchtl and was charged with contempt. Even though he got pardoned immediately, he never landed another office job.

This caused him to be more passionate with his vices, especially cheap cigars. In effect, he and his
common law wife Maria suffered from mild tuberculosis, and so, they decided it best to refrain from breastfeeding their son.

Middle managed to get another two jobs: Everyday at very early morning as a milk-delivery man, and from high noon to late night as a cab driver. He was fired from both.

First, he was caught stealing pints of milk for baby North. The booting increased his alcoholism which thus affected his driving. But it was not the rashness on the road that cost him the job. It was him getting caught tranquilizing horses and then using them as punching bags.

Middle hated horses. He also hated other beasts-of-travel like camels, elephant, and mules, but he hated horses the most. In his defense for that time when he was caught in the act by a stable-keeper, he said that horses were instrumental to the British when those white men scared and massacred a native-American tribe. But of course, right then, that was just the alcohol and bitterness talking.

He expelled his angst working as a butcher. The salary was below average but he was contented chopping meats, and so that occupation was where he stayed the longest. Middle could never go wrong with slicing flesh and using cleavers, meat-hooks, and other sharp, pointed objects.

One night in mid-1886, a skinny woman of sixty knocked on their apartment door asking to be hidden from a murderous son-in-law. She explained that her daughter’s husband was trying to kill her for her wealth, and she’d rather reward it to them if they’d let her in and keep her alive. It was no contest for the couple. The old lady clearly could use a good amount of goodwill as they could use a good amount of notes. They accepted her in, and that was when the police came and the shoot-out started.

After a short festival of flying bullets doubled with an orchestra of shots and ricochets, the old lady fell bloody dead beside the cradle, with her bony forefinger latched to her trigger. There were no casualties on the law’s side, but the infant North was caught in the crossfire with a bullet lodged right above the left knee. It would not have mattered heavily since there were only skin and muscle damage, but for a baby, the leg is only mere inches away from the heart or the head. And the blood loss—not to mention the chance of sepsis—to a child of that age, is highly fatal.

The police took care of all the medical bills and made sure that North would get out of the hospital perfectly healthy and that there would be no lasting damage save for a scar. But even though the police shouldered all expenses and he was handed some cash for the damages, Middle wanted further payback from the other party.

It was explained to him by a rookie detective named Ganimard that the old woman was known as Lucienne d’Corsican (not her real name), a courier of counterfeit banknotes and unregistered arms for a local syndicate that had made some news throughout France. This gang was not like the ‘Ndrangheta or Camorra organizations Middle encountered in Italy: This was a band of burglars, pirates, hustlers, and hired guns. This was a classless group, except for a boss and a second in command; and they really got no class compared to the Italian crime families. Within a week, Middle tracked this group down. And then he joined them.

In a span of seven months upon joining this syndicate who called themselves
L’Equipe de Renards, Middles financial condition significantly rose up. That was not his main goal, though. He was secretly working for Ganimard to collect enough incriminating evidence to get a heavy sentence for each member. That was not his main goal either. Ganimard believed that Middle was doing this to take personal revenge for North’s accident. That was not the point, too.

As a Renard, Middle’s knowledge on the usage of guns, knives, explosives, drugs, and government corruption extensively improved. Before he was one year in L’Equipe, he stole and hid a whole chestful of money with a side of handguns, ammunitions, and bookie ledgers. In short, he misappropriated a huge fraction of the gang’s accumulated holdings from the previous fiscal year. Now, to him, that is what you call a main goal.

Middle got by well above suspicion for the theft of the group’s assets. Another member was suspected and sacked for his crime. Unfortunately, his association with Ganimard was discovered in February 1887 with the help of a corrupt official named Daubreq. The syndicate bound, gagged, and carried Middle south to a secluded area in the French Riviera. There they treated him to hours of sincere beating with utmost cruelty. When the thrill of tedious sadism got old, the head Renard, just for fun, injected Middle with a drug meant only for horses. Then they buried him alive and left him for dead.

At least two thousand people died at the cost of his survival. By an ironic sort of twisted
deus ex machina, a great earthquake ravaged the Riviera and its population less than an hour after Middle was left underground. The terrible terrain tremors uprooted several trees around his premature grave, and that luckily managed to dig his head up. A rescue party soon found him barely, barely alive.

He had not regained half his health when Middle took his family away. They moved northwest again: They crossed mainland France to Normandy and the English Channel until they reached the East End of London.

Sensorimotor to Preoperational
Had Middle not brought them to England, North’s Revolution would not have happened. This revolution was in no means a form of armed revolt or a demonstrated class struggle, but an uprising that stirred inside North’s head. All the same, it was the leading breakthroughs and popular ideologies in the Victorian and Edwardian times that brought it forth. Also, this revolution was the direct antecedent of North’s War, most popularly known as the
Great War of Europe, which was then misjudged and misnamed as The War to End All Wars.

North East I grew up without a mother and a father. He was only three years old when his mother Maria was murdered and his father Middle turned catatonic. He was raised by a French wet nurse named Victoire and a mysterious handsome woman whom he addressed as Aunt Irene. The wealth that middle accumulated legally in France had managed to be enough support for North only until he was five. From then until his mid-teens, he lived through the generosity of the Holmes brothers.

From 1888 to 1896, he had been cared for by the most influential people in Western Europe. These were the people who walked the same path as the Easts that came before their time: They molded the socio-cultural and political panorama around them and by their own means—intentionally or not—turned history to the angle they deemed best, but they stayed out of the
A List as far as history professors are concerned. At best they were considered fictional, and if they’re consciousness still lingers in this physical world even though their body had surrendered long ago to mother Universe, they would surely be happy with their status as it is.

North East I was tutored by Aunt Irene about the basic rules of power, or roughly, manipulation and blackmail. She also taught him the art of secrecy and the practice of being discreet regarding one's affairs, plans, and real opinions. Being only five years old then, North had already managed to keep his relationship to Aunt Irene undetected by anyone, even by Nurse Victoire, even by Sherlock Holmes.

During the same years, Sherlock trained young North in the field of detection and deduction. From the great famous detective, North mastered the skill of saber-sharp observation and the sacred rule of detachment and impartiality. Sherlock Holmes also trained him the physical arts of boxing, fencing, and jiu-jitsu.

Through Mycroft Holmes, on the other hand, North gained extensive knowledge regarding politics, international relations, social structures, mathematics, semantics, sociology, and a little anthropology. Basically, he learned through Mycroft how to understand the collective psyche of different sets of people, and of individuals from/in different places and/or scenarios.

It was his mother-figure Victoire who taught him about decorum, politeness, respect, tolerance, and religion. She also trained him in first-aid and basic medicine regarding the handy chemicals, drugs, and paraphernalia, and their applications and effects.

By the time North was twelve, it had seemed that he had gained all the precursory knowledge and traits that would make him bring forth the greatest and most drastic works in the history of the 20th Century CE. But actually: Not quite yet.

When he was only seven years old, North East I joined the Baker Street Irregulars: Sherlock’s pack of young street-urchin informers and errand-runners. He proved to be an invaluable asset in every mission. During this immersion into the life on the gray streets, he began to be specially self-aware and critical. It was also at this stage that he secretly (except with the Holmes brothers) discovered the awesome effects of morphine and cocaine. Both substances were not considered illegal then—and were easily accessible in Sherlock Holmes’ room—although nobody had an idea what they could do to a seven-year old frame.

One midnight, when he was sleeping right after finishing the novel starring Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he was roused violently by a tremendous and bitter pang that seemed to resound from his very core to every pore on his body. It was as if each of the smallest particles that made up his body were being torn—if it felt like they were being sliced, that would have been less painful—by a drunken brute that had been drained of a lot of strength but not of persistence. North could not tell how long the pain lasted. It could have been forever for it really felt like it was. It must have been only for a few seconds for if it was any longer, North was sure he would have been killed. But it did not matter when it was over. The important thing for him was that he survived until it was over and totally gone. It just stopped and left no residue of even a slight physical discomfort.

Right after that, North realized that he had torn his pajamas. He was naked, and in that bedroom in which he should have been alone, he saw another naked kid, and this kid was holding some things and was saying something hard to understand. Blood rushed either to or from his head. He fainted at the sight of the other boy, as this character looked and sounded exactly like him.

Continued on Part 3: North’s Revolution - Segment B
Previous: Heading East to South East

Copyright 2008 Klaro de Asis

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Condensed History of North East I - 2nd Part

Part II: Heading East to South East

Heading East once told his shipmates that history is only a thread made up of intertwined decisions and accidents. Everybody agreed, especially the ones who did not give a damn. But nobody agreed with him when he criticized the magnetic compass, claiming that the world’s magnetism would someday shift from the north and be scattered around the world. Of course Heading had no idea about the science behind Earth’s polarity; he just supposed that whatever it was that made the compass work, it would be subject to change. He was aboard the Polos’ ship then, on the waters south of Zaiton, and it was the last quarter of the 13th century CE.

He was an orphan adopted and raised by semi-eremitic monks in the Balkan Peninsula. They named him Heading East because “Heading East” was painted on the intricately patterned cloak that wrapped his toddler frame when the villagers found him. He grew up aware of these facts and that he was not a native of his adoptive country, or any of the nearby lands. When he was old enough to ask questions, it was explained to him that he probably was of Romani ancestry for he did not look like the Balkan people. But that probability was questionable since he did not look like a gypsy either, and the painted words on his cloak were in Greek. Anyhow, he decided he was a nomad.

By the time he was twelve, he had already thrice caused great panic to the monks and their close neighbors, because thrice he had gone away without notice and was missing for weeks. Twice he came back accompanied by traders, and once by Roman Catholic missionaries. During an incident involving religious disagreements between the three Christian church divisions, Heading became interested about Roman Catholicism. He had always been interested in religion, but not due to his faith or anything pertaining to the esoteric, but because of its social implications. Before he reached fifteen, Heading decided to join a group of travelers heading across the sea to Italy in hope of someday meeting the pope.

He asked for his foster fathers’ blessing and explained to them that his goal was all in favor of the Eastern Orthodoxy: To be able to move in and move up and finally have an audience with the Roman Catholic leaders to convince them into an impartial meeting where the said party would 1) apologize for the sacking of Constantinople and 2) open a discussion regarding the reunification of the Eastern and Western churches. The said discussion did push through in the Second Council of Lyon but without much effect in ending the schism. The apology, on the other hand, waited for a thousand years before it happened.

The monks did not give assent but Heading went away anyway, carrying his childhood cloak. He would find later on, on the Silk Road, a textile trader selling fabrics that resemble his intricately patterned cape (but the trader had no clue where the merchandize originally came from, except that they were consigned to him by another trader from Yangzhou City).

In Italy, using his natural aptitude, Heading managed to work his way to be a scribe to clergymen. He became a student of Aquinas after the Dominican priest came back from Rome and before the scholastic theologian lectured in Rome and Bologna.

Heading was in the middle of proofreading the first part of Summa Theologica when he heard news about two brothers’ expedition to the lands of the Far East. From that point, he was fixed on getting to that barely-known land, encouraged that he might somehow find there a clue regarding his origins.

During his stay in the Roman territories, he earned the confidence and friendship of a bishop who was directly under the man who would soon take the place of Pope Urban IV, and a relative of the Polo brothers. With the bishop’s help, Heading expressed to them his predilection to travel, his inclination to chronicle-writing, and his interest in history including events that are yet to happen.

Seeing these points and that Heading looked a bit oriental—plus the fact that even Pope Gregory X advised them to— Niccilo and Maffio assessed that it would be to their benefit to have him along. So Heading became part of the second Polo expedition, taking the place of Niccilo’s son Marco, who was in those days too busy writing journals based on other travelers’ accounts of journeys to the east.

As a deal with the Polos, Heading wrote down details of their voyage, taking care not to make any allusions to his self, and making all his first-person references read as if he was Marco. Unknown to anyone, he kept to himself a separate journal. This journal would be found and used audaciously after seven hundred years by an author with less-than-adequate familiarity with real World History.

They reached their destination mostly by land. Heading East enjoyed the three and a half year long trip, especially when they reached the Silk Road. The journey went on rather smoothly except for the parts that involved: passing a war zone, rerouting because of death-trap ships, Heading getting ill and getting them delayed for a year, passing a land with goiter-causing drinking water and a land of two-sided marital infidelity, crossing an immense lifeless desert, and finally, almost getting into trouble with traders when Heading carelessly calculated that the Silk Road would cease to flourish in less than two hundred years.

Their group was warmly welcomed in Khan land, as Heading called it, and it was there that most of them stayed for the next seventeen years. He liked it there, mainly because of the noodles, and also because of the many fascinating and ingenious things he was to discover, particularly the complex social structure, the express mail delivery system and the use of paper currency. The Polos liked it there too, especially the considerable amount of jewels and gold they acquired.

When he first set foot in that strange but homey land, Heading had no idea that that would be the beginning of his love story with the eastern land. He would be serving the Khan’s court and travel to China, Burma and India. He would be a governor in Yangzhou, where he would fail to trace his cloak’s origins, but would successfully set-up an Italian village.

He would accompany the brothers on their journey back to the west, but only until the ship’s stopover in Hormuz where the real Marco Polo would be waiting.

Six Centuries Later

Middle East had no idea about the life of his forefather Heading, not even about the man’s existence. He had been right there in the country where his great ancestor started his unaccredited-for carving of history, but he had to flee. Little did he know, too, that he himself would make his own mark in the human-recorded timeline, albeit in a shady manner.

Middle and his common law wife Maria were already out of Italy and far beyond the ‘Ndrangheta’s grasp when they confirmed they were expecting an offspring. They reached France before the fourteenth year of its Third Republic. They had barely any money in their pockets, and their pockets were all in the clothes they were wearing because they did not have any luggage. That cross-country journey was an impromptu one.

He took on several blue-collar and sometimes odd jobs, never one at a time, to save enough money to prepare for his would-be family. He worked as a circus guard, a messenger, a plumber, a carpenter, a tin-smith, a hansom driver, a magician’s assistant, a fire-eater, a knife-thrower’s target, a potato-peeler and then a cook in a questionable restaurant, a private cook, a butcher, a milkman, and other jobs that could not be listed because of lack of proper title. Unfortunately, he also had been a gambler, and he never had the skill for that. He sometimes had to resort to dirty jobs as well; like for example, chimney cleaning, drainage de-clogging, and waste collection; and dirtier but well-paying jobs like unconsented possessions-transferring, unendorsed night-banking, and gossip-writing.

When he was young, Middle dreamt of being a doctor. They stayed in India during his youth and his father Far East had told him many times about Ayurvedic people being amazingly advanced in the field of medicine.

Their ancient healing practices date from up to 1500 years before the time of Hippocrates, and this is not about witch-doctors but actually scientific methodical know-how. Far often mentioned that the Indians were experts in various areas of health-protection, curing diseases and treating injuries. They were proficient in dentistry (even tooth-drilling), rhinoplasty, lithotomy, eye surgery, and other forms of surgery and therapy. They would have reached the level of neurosurgery even before the rise of major western civilizations, had it not been for the introduction of an Asian religion that Far did not specify.

Of course, Middle had no means to verify his father’s stories, and he was aware of the likelihood that these were fictitious. But still, he was fascinated and he believed, he took high regard for the Indian people, and most of all, he was inspired.

Sadly, young Middle never had the chance to go to school. Yet, he liked to read: Borrowed books about medicines, biology, botany, mathematics, physics, geography, international histories, philosophies, religions, and arts; picked-up or collected leaflets and manuals about practical mechanics and first-aid. These readings would prepare him as much as necessary for the various jobs, even the odd ones, which he’d have to take when he was old enough to be on his own. But he would never be a doctor.

His father’s occupation of constant transferring from one place to another had cost him having any formal education and, in turn, his one dream profession, thus earning him only frustration.

But being a traveler had its up side. He got to see a lot of places and races, and he had learned much about various cultures. Blending in had never been a problem. Starting from Heading, every East and his son was naturally skilled in absorbing the traits and custom of the people of wherever he sets foot. The Easts were fast learners of languages, traditions, beliefs, accents, and collective psyche. In return, the places and people absorbed them well, not yet counting the fact that every East bears the looks that nobody in the world would think of as foreign. More than twenty generations (from Heading to Middle) and self-preserving heredity have perfected the assimilation ability. This could have been more than enough compensation for Middle’s lack of classroom education, but he never thought of it that way.

Every job he took only reminded him that he was not a doctor. He may not have had any proper schooling, but that did not mean he was an idiot, and certainly not one to fool himself into thinking that he was happy and that what he was doing were enough for fulfillment.

He got depressed eventually, and soon succumbed to unhealthy dependencies. He took to alcohol, nicotine, compulsive gambling and morphine. He even became a morphine dealer, and when they get to Britain, he would be a supplier to the brother of his future friend Mycroft Holmes.

Middle, however, always stayed away from females-for-rent regardless of his penchant for vices. This was due to a couple of reasons. First, he was cautious against the kinds of diseases they might carry. Second, he had learnt to love Maria during those months they had been together, although not as much as he loved the child in her womb.

Despite his down sides, he always made sure their savings never go anywhere near negative. He never laid a finger to hurt her, never raised his voice to her, and never treated her improperly, even in his most unsober moments. He kept her warm. He kept her safe. He kept her from any hunger, and he kept her happy as much as he could. To him, that was the meaning of love.

But that love would never be reciprocated. Much worse, it would be inverted and would lead to one of the most horrific series of morbidity in the history of crimes. This would happen in the east of London, right after his son North’s third birth anniversary.

Three Decades After

North East I had two sons: North II and South. Like all the Easts before him, he brought forth no daughter. All the Easts were male, from Heading East to South East.

As in the case of all his forerunners, only one of his sons would survive childhood, but that had been enough for propagation so far. Conversely, unlike all the Easts that came before North and South, it would be with the two of them that their bloodline would stop.

North East II died in a car accident. South East, the younger of the siblings, was four years old when the tragedy took his brother’s life away. Before he turned five, he disappeared.

These were the bitterest taste of fate that North East I ever experienced in his life. The consecutive blows struck hard through his heart and mind. They were too much even for someone like him, who masterminded the death of his own father.

Losing two sons in a span of a few months was unbearable, especially since he was rendered helpless by a strange human phenomenon. This deteriorating evolution that North East I went through will be called the Eli Syndrome. It would be the Split named Evan Timor who would call it that, for the sake of giving it a name to refer to, and because of the man who would experience the same peculiarity. But that man known as Eli would not be a part of their story until the years nearing the next millennium.

Continued on Part 3: North's Revolution
Previous: Far East, Middle East, and Italy

Copyright 2008 Klaro de Asis

A Condensed History of North East I

From the words of recently collected journals, reports, hearsays, and correspondences

Part I: Far East, Middle East, and Italy

This is one of the browse-through side-stories about the history of North East I: Counting back events from several years before his Splitting up to the era of the first East, six centuries and one decade before he became Maiv Norte and Evan Timor. He used to be only one, a lone child of a Victorian era traveler who crossed continents until he (the traveler) found himself broke in the bowels of—as his (the traveler’s) friend Mycroft’s brother would call it—the great cesspool.

London was not the most beautiful city to be in those days despite the picturesque daguerreotype reproductions we see in books, and despite of the amazing progress that the 64-year period brought in. It was also not particularly profitable from our people’s perspective as it was a hundred years before it would be a lucrative place to be an overseas worker, and more than a hundred years before a bigshot third-world Media Empire would have picked it up as location for a big-bucks blockbuster. But nevertheless, North East I worked there as a nurse at a very young age.

North East I was North East I’s real name. He was the son of Middle East and the grandson of Far East. Middle East was the second in a brood of three, but both his brothers have died in two separate battles; both of which were kept secret from the rest of the world and were done in unpopulated sea banks between India and Egypt, and both of which together were the totality of The Secret West Asian War. After the young men’s death, Far East brought himself, his wife, and Middle back to their oriental homeland. They were almost out of funds and the three of them would have traveled home by foot, but Middle’s mother Perlas didn’t have any. Luckily for them but not for a British tourist they came across in Syria, Far was a first-class swindler. The con he pulled was later restaged by North’s friend Victor Lustig, in a much grander scale involving the Eiffel Tower.

About three years later since they got home, Middle decided to go back to the west, but much father west this time. He planned to retrace Marco Polo’s route even though he barely had an idea who Marco Polo was. He only used the idea to convince his father to help finance his trip. The old man agreed and opted that all three of them must go. To lower their traveling expenses and ensure faster journey, Middle killed his mother and framed a nonexistent rogue for the crime. But he was not as cold blooded as anyone would hastily surmise, for he even gave his mother an ample headstart to run. He would later confess to Mycroft that he committed the murder to save the poor old woman from further difficulties.

When father and son reached the shores of Naples, Far figured they should stay in that province for a while until they make more money to continue their journey. The old half-Chinese had no idea they were only a few days away from where Marco Polo’s expedition ended, but then again, neither did Middle. Instead of moving north, they went to look for lodging in Campania.

They felt at home in Italy mainly because of the noodles. For a short time, they made honest living working as cobblers in a small shoemaking shop, where they prognosticated about a future shoemaking industry boom in Asian sweatshops for around one-third the European production cost.

One day, a neighborhood gang who called their group Famiglia abducted and killed the shoe shop owner, because that man reportedly raped the daughter of a barber deeply indebted to him. Far was so amused by the idea of the Famiglia (and with some research, he found out they were composed of enduring cammorristi) that he made up his mind to again go back to his native home and establish an organized society which would be the first Triad. And he will call it that, as it would be patterned after the likes of the Three Harmonies Society. The following week, he joined a caravan to the east.

Before his old man left him to travel alone, Middle had been starting to get disturbed of Far's crazy ideas about the future that they wouldn’t even live long enough to see. That future can be witnessed by his soon to be born son, though, if the then unborn North lives to be more than a hundred years old. Middle’s pregnant girlfriend Maria mentioned about a traveling band of sellers selling miracle- medicines that promise to keep their consumers forever young. The two of them laughed, because that was something to laugh at. Then, Middle’s mind backtracked to where his family got its strange-for-Asian surname.

Their first names, he understood, were only a product of his grandfather and father’s uncanny sense of humor. It was being an East that bothered him. He realized he wasn’t even sure they were Asian. They looked Asian, yes, but only as much as they looked a little of every other race. The real reason he wanted to go places was because he was looking for somewhere to rightfully fit in, because he never felt at home in any one of the dozens of towns and cities his family had lived in: not in Nanjing, Hangzou, Wuhen, Changsha, Hanoi, Chiang Mai or Kolkata; and not anywhere in the other countries they've been: not in Nepal, Jordan, Syria, Greece, Bulgaria, or Romania. Not that he could not fit in anywhere, it was exactly the opposite of that. He could fit in perfectly with any group of people, but he never felt contented. He would later be convinced that his search was futile and they have no real need to find any answer. He would die happy, in the hands of a corrupt French deputy named Daubreq.

Middle met Maria, daughter and solo child of a deceased couple, in Reggio Calabria. She inherited their small house and set it up as a traveler’s inn when they died, a year before their northward journey. Middle was her first customer ever since the inn was first opened. On the first night, Middle complained of bedbugs. So on the second night, they shared Maria’s bed.

Middle found out the morning after that Maria was affianced to a young influential farmer with connections in the local ‘Ndrangheta. He found this out because he woke up to a house reluctantly noisy with half a dozen mobster mob. The small army was made up of men with knives and quaint handguns and pre-Winchester shotguns. None of them attacked. Middle gathered they must be waiting for someone, but he had no idea what in the world was really happening and where Maria was, and why that lady did not make him breakfast. He got up, pulled on his chinos and shirt and snapped his suspenders as he listened to the loud whispering of the rural gangsters. All he was sure of was it was trouble. He pushed a stool against the door just to give them an impression later that he meant to keep them out somehow while he was trapped in, and thus he bought himself some time, which he suddenly realized he did not need anyway.

Maria was at that time outside the house, flat on the grassless ground a few tens of feet away, and crying the dusty earth off her eyes. Vincenzo, her betrothed, left her there like a hostage with three lads each armed with either a cudgel or a crop. When the fiancée went into the inn and kicked the bedroom door open, he found nobody there.

This was because Middle went out through a window, yes, as simple as that, and then went around the back of the house. Upon realizing that the five or six fools plus Vincenzo were too eager to deal him some damage that they all waited by the bedroom door, Middle nonchalantly walked towards escape. But he saw Maria with the lads and remembered she might be starting to bear him a son, so he walked up to the three of them, aware that these guards had no idea who their enemy was. He gave the three the news that the beating had begun in the inn and said they should not let the older boys have all the fun.

However, Vincenzo was not much of a fool like those uomini who were left clueless. Upon being sure the empty room was really empty and after checking under the bed and in the closets, he blasted out without any word to anyone, except for the call for his horse. Middle had shirked them and now Vincenzo wanted to get him alone.

He saw Middle and Maria riding behind a hay cart, sped up his steed, managed to catch up within a yard from them, and finally fell down to his death when Middle speared him with a pitchfork, which he dodged, but caused him to be dismounted for he was too busy fumbling with his pump-action 24-incher weapon that he forgot to hold on to the twine and the steed. He fell down head first in high velocity on a rock, eighteen feet below beside a cliff. Vincenzo was not much of a fool, but only enough of it to have had himself killed that way.

Middle and Maria escaped the ‘Ndrangheta and traveled northwestward to France. That is where North East will be born and Middle would be killed, but the latter event would happen on another trip several years away.

Continued on Part 2: Heading East to South East

Copyright 2008 Klaro de Asis

Shake Hands

Circa Alamat ng Gubat days. Ergo, another reblog. Masyadong mabagal ang 28kbps para sa youtube kaya naghalungkat na lang ako sa virtual bodega ng mga pwede pang i-garage sale.

I think I do not know how to draw anymore. At least not the way I used to draw in my younger years, when my desk was folded broadsheet and my back was not prone to sculiosis because I drew on the sofa lying on my tummy. Now I'm too big to fit comfortably on the sofa and my tummy forbids me from lying flat.

Not that my drawings are virtually deteriorating. It's all in my head, maybe. Or my hands. I used to be very confident when holding a pencil. Even before I was trained to draw straight lines without a foot rule, I could make continuous strokes. Clean strokes that make clear figures. When inking, even with a Pilot 0.5 sign pen used to be able to make fine curves. Hands flowing smoothly.

Now I cannot even execute simple arcs without at least doubling the drawing path. The pencilled drawings look furry, and the inks tend to thicken. My 0.1 pen leaves 0.5 marks. I feel disturbed, I can not draw as I want to anymore. I can't make my works appear as I want to. On less giving occassions, my hand slips from the supposedly predetermined path and creates a "scratch", as I want to call it. When this happens, compulsively try to fix it by making the crossed lines even thicker. Now the 0.5 becomes 1.0, then I try to make all the other lines thicker, unless I want to emphasize my blunder. After I'm done with the lousy cover-up, I realize that I just made it even worse. I stare at it for five minutes convincing myself it looks alright. I spend another five minutes staring blankly hearing voices inside my head shouting "you could've just erased the small scratch in photoshop, dimwit!"

Then I spend two hours in remorse because I have to do the whole drawing all over again. Sometimes, while pencilling, I stop to look at my drawing hand and see if I am "pasmado". Turns out I'm not. My hands are steady. The right one just shakes when I need to make fine and smooth strokes. So the problem is not physical but psychological. This began only when I accepted an illustration job. Must be the pressure, it may be affecting my confidence in some ways. Or it must be the lack of practice. Must be the decrease of practice.

I used to draw in my every free time when I was in gradeschool. I draw anything I want to; from cute cartoon characters to superheroes; from still life to comic books; from landscapes to imaginary objects; plain pencils to paintings. I became limited to comic book characters and editorial cartoons in high school. When I got into Fine Arts, I almost lost interest in drawing.


My first year in college made drawing lose it's magic of escapism and fantasy; it became a requirement, a chore, a classcard marker. It made my favorite hobby a burden. 25 hours a day would not be enough to finish all the plates, beating deadlines for other subjects not counted. My IQ fell five points. My creativity took an indefinite leave to make way for MacGyver-type time-and-money-saving teqhniques. Left brain interchanged with the right.

Then I realize that I hated drawing. I hated art.

I found something I can put my mind to, to get away from the succubus cycle. Thank heavens for HTML.

Summer vacation came and I discovered photoshop. I discovered a new hobby. Which became useful for the sophomore and junior subjects.I went back to making freehand artworks because I was no longer forced to by academics. I became less grade conscious and I learned to dare to draw in front of lecturing professors.

But these drawings were merely scribbles. I did not regain my "every drawing good drawing" mindset. I no longer spend my free time drawing. It felt better to read comics or sleep, which I also did in front of lecturing profs.


So much for a summary of my drawing history. Now my mind wanders back to the shaky hand situation. Tsk. Oh well, probably after this illustration job I'll be able to create those clean, smooth, fine lines again.

Killing the Drama

This is a rerun post. I took an oath half a decade ago to re-enter blog entries whenever a blogsite of mine dies and I start a new one. As for "Four Kittens and a Funeral", the kittens have turned to cats now and ideally, funerals are supposed to be forgotten after 40 days.

Killing the Drama Dahan-dahan ang hakbang. Sumisirko ang diwa at halos napasuray siya sa paglalakad. Sa pag-alalay ng isang pamilyar na poste ay napansin niyang binabati na siya ng kanyang tahanan. Bumukas ang pintuan at sumalubong ang kanyang pinakamamahal na asawa, mayroong gumuguhit na ngiting pilit itinatago mula sa mga labi nito. Batid niya ang pag-asa nito lalo na nang hawakan nito ang kanyang braso papasok... Ngunit tumigil siya, at tumindig, pumirmi sa tapat ng pintuan. Ayaw niyang sirain ang kasiyahang iyon ng kanyang pinakamamahal, kahit na hindi nya alam kung ano ang dahilan ng ligayang iyon. Paano niya sasabihin dito ang katotohanang ibinalita ng kanyang doktor? Bahala na, wika niya sa sarili. Aaminin na niya... basta sasabihin niya; "Hon, sorry, imposible talaga tayong magkaanak...baog ako mula pagkabata..." Ngunit bago pa man maibuka ang kanyang bibig, tinabingan ito ng kanyang asawa ng isang mapagmahal na daliri. Kasabay ang isang matamis na ngiti, malambing at marahan nitong sinabi sa kanya: "Hon! Buntis ako!"