The room was dark, it was very early Saturday morning. Lynn was sound asleep, Charley Newell, not knowing if he was awake, asleep or, most likely, somewhere in between, thrashed in bed. It was the new normal for him since sleep had been eluding him for more than a week. That was when Dr. Hartsville’s Medical Assistance, Shannon, called. Her first words were, “You have lung cancer," then coldly added, "Doctor Hartsville will see you at 2:00 on the 26th,” three week hence. “Be sure and be on time. Bring your picture id, insurance card and copay. If you don’t and we have to reschedule there will be a $150.00 rescheduling fee and the next appointment will be out three more weeks,” she added.
Reeling from the hammer like blow to his midsection. Her last words, barely registered in his mind. That was on Friday a week ago. The Doc’s office was closed for the weekend when he tried to call back and then on Monday he learned Dr. Hartsville would be out of town until the 21st. He felt sorely threatened, stranded, alone and terrorized.
So much had happened that week. First, his mind went into a kaleidoscopic overload with an endless parade of dark thoughts of an ominous future turning over and over in his brain. "So I'm going to die of cancer. How long will it take? Will I suffer? What will become of Lynn?" Then he went into his problem solving mode, frustrated because he didn't have any facts to go on and certainly no early hope for a solution. His days were spent at the university library doing research, but the more he read the more frightened he became. His nights were at first without sleep, then he slept only in spurts, then found himself awake and wandering around the house, at the refrigerator, in front of the TV, or in the bathroom with the National Geographic, reading but not comprehending.
That night, he was tired of fighting with his bed and got up. He stumbled around and finally found himself in the closet adjacent to the master bedroom. The seventy plus year old figured he was probably there getting his bathrobe, but why, he wasn’t sure. His foggy mind remembered looking at the clock before he rubbed the aching shoulder and dragged his reluctant body into motion and pointed it in the direction of the walk-
Gone, too, were his trousers and any number of sports shirts. In shocking dismay, Charlie fanned the air first on the left than on the right feeling only empty space. As his eyes became a little more accustomed to the near darkness, his mind became a bit more alert, especially in light of the startling new and unbelievable development. The glow from a little night light in the bedroom illuminated another door where he should have found his bathrobe. “Another door?” He puzzled. "There is no other door in the closet, just the one leading from the bedroom." But there was one now and after much rubbing and blinking in the semi darkness, he opened his eyes again expecting everything would be back to normal. But, no, the large, bulky looking door was still there. This time he noticed the door emanated a soft bluish light around the edges and had what he would later describe as an inviting knocker beneath a golden lion's head in addition to a bronze handle. He tried the handle and pulled, but found it unyielding. Yes, it was a door and it had a handle, but neither should be where his now wide awake eyes were telling him they were. Still in total unbelief, he knocked, summoning both his sense of hearing and of feeling into the mystery. When the crashing echoes of his knocking died down, he tried the handle again, this time pushing and felt it give a little. Thus encouraged and with a little more effort, the door opened. Continuing in astonishment, he passed through, totally unprepared for what happened next.
He was dumbfounded to find himself outside and on one of three exquisitely ornate porticos each overlooking a courtyard and pool of a rather large mansion. In the background were large, meticulously sculpted hedges that completed the enclosure. He noticed that surrounding the perimeter were flowers of every description, most totally unknown to the amateur horticulturist and from his high vantage point, he could see over the hedges beholding a tranquil but shimmering sea that stretched to the far horizon.
Embedded in the deck of the portico, Charley noticed a beautiful multi-
It appeared to be either early evening or morning. It was not broad daylight nor was it dark as he was accustomed three o’clock in the morning to be. He could see the horizon clearly as he observed a line of billowing cumulus clouds with silver edges dancing in the far distance on the iridescent sea. As striking as his view was he was most struck by the white sphere in the sky similar to the moon he knew except maybe a dozen times larger and surrounded by three objects resembling large fiery stars. Absent the familiar shadows and craters, this was not the moon he knew and with that in mind, Charley realized he probably was not on earth either.
Charley was amazed at the structure of the mansion in that while it was reminiscent of ancient Roman architecture there was nothing ancient about it. The building looked new as though the construction forms were removed recently, like yesterday. Then, what he thought was concrete looked more like pozzolana, a product of volcanic ash found in central Italy. Finally, rather than the hardness of concrete, there was a softness to the texture with an aura emanating light that illuminated everything in sight, but there was a total absence of light fixtures or other familiar hardware attending such structures. The whole scene before him took on a surreal quality. The mirror like pool reflected all he surveyed then it was as if an artist with a huge paintbrush lightly blended the entire scene together to form a startling painting with the pool's edge forming a frame. Amazingly, the picture was not totally strange to him as he felt a strong impression he had seen it before
While it must be night, it appeared more as twilight with nothing obscured by darkness, no shadows and in fact no stars in the sky either. As he looked over to the balcony to his left, he saw several windows, and a transparent door. Unlike the light reflected by the structure of the mansion, bright lights emanated from inside, he could see movement and hear muffled sounds of music coming from the room floating across the pool. He listened intently, but what he heard was indistinguishable. It was the murmur of many jovial voices, laughter and happy singing, much like some kind of party.
Suddenly Charley became aware of another phenomenon. Sure enough, there was a peculiar quality in the air that was beyond fresh. As he took as deep a breath as he could, he found his lungs comfortably filled to an expanded capacity. It was like that crisp early spring morning of long ago in Jackson, Wyoming, where he was on assignment, away from the choking smog of the big city. He marveled at the ability to breathe normally. “Strange, very strange indeed,” he thought.
The beauty of this place enveloped all his senses. His cataract clouded eyesight was no longer obscured, colors he knew and those he didn’t stood out in brilliant splendor. His aged olfactory senses seemed renewed as new and old smells appeared to fill the air. He recognized the beautiful frangipanis and hibiscus as well as the colorful orchids, but the size and stature of these were beyond his experience. And then there were those whose beauty he didn’t recognize but . . . Could it be possible they recognized him?
Since no one was in sight, Charley thought to himself the obvious question. “Where am I and how did I get here?” “You are at home and you walked,” she said as a matter of fact. Her voice had a musical quality and her clarity reminded him of the waterfall of a crystal mountain stream. Startled, he turned in the direction of her voice, but seeing no one and not at all content with her answer, Charlie responded, “Whose home is this?” “Yours,” she said”. “But how?” His thoughts trailed off as she continued. “Of course you have so many questions.” “You have heard it said “’In my house are many mansions, I go and prepare a place for you’.” “Charley Newell, his is the place we prepared for you.” “When did you build this place, it looks so new. And just where is this place?” he inquired.
You are so used to questions of “who”, “what”, “where”, and “when”, but these really have no relevance here. The “when” is before the foundation of the world, the “what” is that you see as well as that you can imagine, the “where” the here from wherever you are and the Who. . . And her voice trailed off. “And with that inquisitive mind of yours, you will undoubtedly want to explore so let’s start on the balcony across the pool on the right.” This time her voice came from the other balcony and floated across the pool to where he was standing.