It is written in the Great Chronicle of the Womb that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Great Mother of the Welfare Womb of the North. However, what happens to man’s desire when there is plenty of bread and plenty of words so his belly and head are chronically filled? Man will then live his life in a duality of worlds, thinking one thing, doing something else, and never take full control of himself or let others take it for him. And thus, it is that with no anchor to withstand the rising and falling tide of life, man will just drift along carrying great anxiety and indifference as his personal wreckage until the end. Such is the state of the world. Such are the worlds we choose to live in.
Through our story about the Great Dane’s search for the meaning of life it has become all the more obvious that he is not feeling well. Let us therefore use a minute or two to sum up his situation: First, he came to a bar where, in a hole under the floor, he dug up a woman who called herself the Illuminating Girl. After his failed attempt to save her from an evil spirit that lived deep down in her hole, he lost his mind, which was doomed to sail on the furious stream through her cave of dreams, while his heart was banished to walk alone in the cold and superficial world outside her hole. He did, however, find some warmth and compassion in the world, as The Lady of the Bar gave him the opportunity to choose between three different bottles, each containing an alternative way out of his misery. This led him, now as the Hero of the Heart into the black forest, a dark place created by a mysterious creature in its sleep. Inside the forest, the neurotransmitter which the Great Mother of the Welfare Womb of the North had implanted in his head as an infant to make him behave and be a good boy, began to malfunction. So, when the Hero of the Heart later encountered the young and beautiful black forest girl in a cabin deep inside the forest, he had stripped off his clothes and was playing with his mighty erected sword. But the power of his mighty sword did not last long. It began to shrink as he found out that this nice young girl’s sole task in life was to please a selfish and naughty guy living with her in the cabin.
Last time, when we left our story, the selfish and naughty guy had just summoned the black forest girl into his bed next door, leaving our Hero of the Heart naked and alone, trapped in a rocking chair with his shrinking sword while she gave all her attention and warmth to this other guy. Furthermore, she had told the Great Dane explicitly, that he under no circumstances should enter the room next door, as it would make the guy very angry. This, however, placed our hero in a great dilemma: on the one hand, he was raised to respect every woman’s wish and desire before his own, but on the other hand, what if a woman, such as the black forest girl did not know what was best for herself, and therefore needed his guidance and protection? What was a true hero of the heart then to do?
Fortunately, in this, his great moment of despair, something incredible happened. The mighty flow of energy from the Welfare Womb of the North began to change. For as long he could remember, his mother had tried to manipulate what he felt was right and wrong. Inside the black forest, her influence had somehow been interrupted, throwing him into an unstable emotional state. But now he felt the presence of another powerful entity: his Great Father, who was reaching out to him. He was sending some of his divine male energy to his great son.
Once again, the Hero of the Heart felt his sword began to grow, becoming even harder and stronger than before. The father-son connection had long been lost, but now it was re-established. He could feel it in his heart. The potency. The strength. The courage. The will to do great things. He was ready to show his worth and live up to his Great Father’s great expectations.
So, in the light of his coming might and glory, he followed his heart and entered the room next door while his mighty sword cut through the corrupted air which filled the room as if it was nothing more than indifferent dreams.
The Guy Next Door
The girl and the naughty guy next door stopped at once their struggle on the king-sized bed. Even though the room was almost covered in darkness the Hero of the Heart sensed that the situation was bad. For a moment, he was afraid that he had come too late. The naughty guy was all over her. It seemed almost impossible to distinguish them from each other, as if their bodies had somehow merged physically together.
“Keep your filthy hands off her!” the Hero of the Heart roared. “In the name of my Great Father, I hereby declare this woman as mine!”
“What are you doing in my home, my sacred forest? Get out! Now!” the naughty guy yelled with such rage that the Great Dane was almost blown out of the room.
He had been wrong. This was not just a simple naughty guy. This was the wicked creature who had turned the world into a terrible nightmare. But, as a true Hero of the Heart, he was not frightened.
“I’m the great woman saviour,” he replied with great calm. “I’m the great and noble Hero of the Heart, and I have come to penetrate you with my mighty sword.”
The creature laughed in the most grotesque manner.
“I think you have the wrong guy, my little friend. I do not fancy swords like yours.”
The creature began to search for something next to the bed, probably a dangerous weapon of some kind. It would only be a matter of seconds before the creature was all over him. He had to use this opportunity to overcome him.
With his mighty sword ready in his hand, the Hero of the Heart made a daring leap onto the king-sized bed and charged the creature. He felt the excitement before the kill. It made him tremble, and as he swung, not only his sword but his whole body against the creature, his natural enemy, a throbbing pulse of life, took hold of him. And thereafter … the feeling was indescribable. The pleasure by letting go. The intensity when his sword penetrated the creature’s flesh. This was the end of all evil and darkness in the world. Soon the black forest would cease to exist and humanity would at last be free. Already now, he could hear his millions of followers’ laughs of relief and joy. Before them he held his mighty sword of freedom so they could all see and touch it, and hereby be redeemed as was he, their great hero. The women would bloom and throw all their restraints.
He had to extend his chamber considerably so it could hold the increasing flow of beautiful women who would come to receive his blessing. It would also be necessary to redecorate, so that his chamber reflected his true feeling of heart. The wallpaper should have more colours, and images of animals who all were friends. It should represent a world where carnivorous turned into herbivores, where no blood should ever again be spilled, where no life should be sacrificed on the altar of might and glory. Eternal peace and harmony. And flowers. There should definitely be flowers. A lot of flowers. He liked flowers as he liked his women. Flowers neither complained nor ran away. He could have as many as he wanted and do with them whatever he desired. In return he would give them a feeling of worth and belonging. That was the great meaning of all life. Being subject to the needs of others. To neglect oneself. To be a good son. This was the true path to bliss. The true path was important. Also, the rocking chair was important. It should be in his chamber. He could not imagine his chamber without the rocking chair. It would be placed in the centre of the room and forever dictate the rhythm of the world. Or maybe he should have a king-sized cradle which the beautiful women could push back and forth until he fell asleep. All their wonderful faces would look down at him, their great hero in his great cradle. So, sweet he was. So marvellous. So beloved. He would be so proud and smile back, playing for them with his mighty sword, and they would all laugh. He could already hear them laugh. They should stop laughing. He would forbid his followers to laugh. It would be impossible for him to fall asleep while they laughed. It could be misunderstood as if they laughed at him because he had done something foolish. There should be a terrible punishment if someone laughed in his chamber.
“It is enough,” the naughty guy said. “Take that thing away from me and get dressed.”
The light had been turned on in the room and the laughing had stopped. Everything suddenly seemed very serious.
“Do you know this foolish boy?” the guy continued. “Why don’t you take a closer look,” the young girl said. “Can’t you see who he looks like?”
The naughty guy looked at the Great Dane and the Great Dane looked back at the naughty guy He could now clearly see his true nature. Lying in the king-sized bed there was something wicked and yet noble about him. Like a fallen prince from a lost kingdom of might and glory. The rest of his body was … the Great Dane quickly looked away. The fallen prince was naked as mother nature had created him. And he also possessed a sword. It was however not as mighty as his own, but still mighty enough to be a threat. The girl seemed to have difficulties taking her eyes away from it. Maybe the prince had cast a spell on her, so she was somehow bound to it. What kind of depraved person would deceive a nice and innocent girl in such a way just to get her attention? Or maybe he didn’t know who he was or what he was capable of.
The Terror of a Lost Mind and a Lonely Heart>
“Don’t let him trick you,” the prince said. “He is nothing like me. I know my history, tables and grammar. It is me who has the power over him, me who is in control. Not he. He never has been. He seems so limited of mind, while my thoughts have no limits. Look at his confused eyes. He is but a scared child who knows nothing more than what his needs awakens inside of him. I’m so much more. His primitive nature loathes my superiority. It can only be his presence inside the forest that is responsible for my restless and haunted sleep.”
“You shouldn’t think too highly of yourself, the girl said. Remember what state you were in when the stream of life carried you into my arms. All wet and soaking with tears. Even then, you had only nightmares. What this other woman of yours has dragged you through, I don’t want to know, but you should not be so hard on him just because you need to save you own skin. Instead, let him stay for a while. It will be good for all of us. I’m sure you two could get along. Remember, somewhere deep down, you are still a Great Dane.”
The Hero of the Heart did not understand what was going on. There could only be one Great Dane and that Great Dane was him. Who was she trying to deceive?
“I could easily take care of both of you,” she continued. “For a while, at least.”
The Hero of the Heart was furious.
“Never will I live together with that other guy!” he yelled. “It will break my heart.”
“It won’t take long,” the other guy said, raising his sword. “Being the only true Great Dane, the Great Hero of the Mind, I can only think of her as mine. Mine alone.”
The Hero of the Mind took a tight grip in the girl’s hair while the Hero of the Heart held firmly to her arm.
“She is mine, not yours!” they shouted repeatedly. “Only if that imposter leaves the forest, I’ll stay. There is no room for all three of us.”
Such was the way of the heart. Such was the way of the mind. At least they agreed on that.
Then they crossed their blades in the king-sized bed and the legendary battle for the beautiful black forest girl had begun. It was an epic moment for the everlasting struggle that, over millennia, had shaped the path of humanity: The mind against the heart, thoughts against feelings, sense against desire, the immortal soul against the weak flesh, the boundless against the limited.
Being caught in the middle of the battle, the black forest girl tried her best to calm them down. However, both the heart and the mind were so convinced of the righteousness of their demands that they did not take any notice of her. Even her suggestion of dividing her day between them fell on deaf ears. All her female charm and self-sacrifice could not prevent these two titans from destroying each other in this heroic battle which shook the foundation of, if not the entire world, then at least the king-sized bed.
But even though both the heart and the mind struggled hard and bravely, they did not manage to get any closer to resolving the conflict of who had the right to the girl. The resolution came instead from the object of desire itself. It turned out that she had a will of her own. Something that came as a total surprise for our two great adversaries.
“Can’t nobody ever get any peace in this house?” she shouted, as only their Great Mother could have done. “You are nothing more than spoiled children. I don’t want either of you. I want a real man and a real life. I’m finished with this childish game of yours.”
She left the bed and walked straight out of the room. Then they heard the front door slam. For a minute or two both the heart and the mind were very quiet.
The mind broke the silence.
“Well, anyway, she was as boring and unreliable as her sister, who still hide deep down in her dark hole. I tell you, we will be better off without them.”
The heart did not know what to say. It did not even know what it really felt, as had it lost the connection to life itself. “I believe,” the mind continued, that it will be best for both of us if we don’t spend too much time together. You know the old saying: keep thoughts above feelings, then you avoid rats on the ceiling.”
The heart held its breath and listened approvingly while the mind seized control over both their lives.
“It is the mind,” the heart said to itself, that thinks and therefore knows what is best. What does a simple heart know, besides how to make the blood flow?”
“I’m glad that you agree,” the mind said with great confidence. “And since I must think for both of us, I need a good long sleep, so it’s only reasonable that I take the king-sized bed in here. You seem to be a compassionate heart, and therefore I’m convinced you will understand. And while we’re at it,” the mind continued, making itself comfortable under the duvet, put on some clothes, cook me some food, repair my socks, and light up the fire, and don’t make a mess with the ashes. Now I need to catch up on some dreaming, so get moving.”
The mind switched off the light. There was nothing more to discuss. For a while the Hero of the Heart sat in the darkness, waiting for something to happen. Maybe if he woke up the mind, they could sit together in the dark and talk of the good old days where everything was more simple and uncomplicated. That would be nice. He missed how things once had been. He needed a hug, and someone to tell him a bedtime story. It should have a happy ending. He liked happy endings. He liked when he did not have to worry about what happened after the story ended. He wished their story would end with: “And they lived happily ever after.” If he was the ruler of the world, all stories would have a happy ending.
His favourite story was the one about the Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. The mind would be the Big Bad Wolf and the girl would be Little Red Riding Hood. He himself was the hunter who cut up the stomach of the wolf and freed the girl and her grandmother. Who should be the grandmother in the story, he did not know. It was so much more fun to be the hunter and the girl. Maybe they would make out in bed when granny had fallen asleep, after eating all the cake and drinking the wine which Little Red Riding Hood had brought her. He would like to see what she was hiding under her red dress.
Nothing, however, happened. So, when the Big Bad Mind began to snore, he left the room. Sad and disappointed. Feeling incompetent. Worthless. Alone. His mighty sword was not even a sword, after all. It had turned slack and looked more like a shrunken sausage that was without any use. There was no divine energy left in him. His Father would be so embarrassed and his Mother would regret that she ever had born a son such as him. He would be an outcast of the Welfare Womb of the North. A forsaken and hunted man. He hated himself as much as he hated the guy next door, maybe even more. Why could he not for once be truly great and do the right thing? Why did all the women he met leave him? Why was he such a fool?
He dragged himself to the rocking chair and began to move back and forth, trying to find comfort. It seemed useless. He was a disgrace to humanity. Not even the most naive and faithful of his followers had remained. They had all walked away to seek true leadership and a mightier sword to worship, while he was reduced to nothing more than a simple servant without any independent will of his own. The mind had taken charge and even though he wanted to rebel and do things his own way, he somehow couldn’t. An unknown force seemed to control his hands and feet so he had to obey the mind’s every command. And he was already behind the day’s schedule. He had to hurry up, or else he would be a bad boy who nobody loved. His mother would be so … why was he thinking that? His mother had nothing to do with all this. She was not even here. She was probably busy arranging some social gathering so she did not have to think of her failed son. Otherwise, she would become very restless, causing the productivity, the stock exchange, the real estate market … the whole economy to decline, and thereby undermine the purchasing power and lower the standard of living, and make everyone in the Welfare Womb of the North suffer terribly. And he alone would as always be responsible. Just because he always had to be so selfish, making his mother worry and be ashamed.
He stopped the rocking chair, put on his clothes, and walked over to the fireplace. It was best to obey the will of the mind.
Making a fire was more difficult than he remembered. He should have listened to his mother and become a Boy Scout. They had such good manners and made such great fires. It was as if he had never made a fire before in his life. He burned his fingers and the fire kept going out, as if some mischievous spirit lived in the chimney blowing out all his efforts and hope.
Soon he was covered with ashes. It made him feel like Cinderella. Sitting alone in the dark kitchen while everyone else was at the festival in the castle, having a great time. Nobody would ever have her. Not while she was so filthy and misused, so oppressed. She disgusted herself. Why could she not for once stand up and show the world who she really was? If she did not dare to follow her heart, how could she ever get the wonderful prince and be saved from the disgrace she lived in? Instead, they all laughed and pointed their fingers at her, saying: Look at the proud princess. How decked out she is. He hated them all, as only the true Hero of the Heart could hate. They should just know how the story ended. Then they would think twice before they laughed.
He liked how the story went on with the birds helping Cinderella to go to the festival in disguise and impress the prince, even though her evil stepmother and stepsisters said she couldn’t. He did, not, however, wish to be Cinderella. He saw himself as the rich and handsome prince who, in the end, saved Cinderella from her depraved life so they could live happily together forever after. He would be perfect as the prince, since he knew how Cinderella felt. As the only one he saw straight through her. What she was really doing messing around in the ashes? Her tendency was to throw herself on the ground for everyone who gave her a little warmth and attention. He would like to get dirty with her. He knew she wanted that very much. Be really dirty with the rich and handsome prince. As in the old days, where people knew their place in society and did not dare to question those in power. He would decide that the mind should be the evil stepmother, and the bad stepsisters. In fact, the mind should represent all the bad things happening in the world when people did not follow their heart.
“Are you still fooling around in there like a stupid child? the mind shouted from somewhere in the dark. “Hurry up, I’m hungry and freezing to death.”
“I wish it were so,” the heart whispered. But the good and generous birds seemed to be busy elsewhere and did not come to meet the desire of the heart. Instead, a wind came and blew up the ashes in his face.
“Poor Cinderella. Poor little me,” the heart cried. “So dirty. So misused. So misunderstood. So thirsty from all the troubles I must go through. I wish someone would serve me a drink to drown my worries in.”
Just as he had stated his need, the fireplace lit up and a voice from inside the flames said:
“You called for me. How can I be at your service?”
“If it won’t be too much trouble,” the heart shivered, “I’d like a long drink that lasts all night.”
“Well, then, have a seat. It will only take a minute.”
Just Before the Night Falls Away
The rocking chair and the fireplace disappeared, and he was back in the bar. He felt relieved. Since the Illuminating Girl had kicked him out of her hole, the bar had become his second home, where he could drown his anxiety and sorrows while waiting for his redemption: A way out of here that would lead him to a greater life. He ought to deserve it, after all the trouble he had been through trying to save humanity.
“How is everything tonight,” the Lady of the bar asked. She placed the drink in front of him: Dark and calm as a forest lake dwelling peacefully in the moonlight.
“Not good at all. In fact, it has been a terrible night. Never have I met anyone so cruel as the guy next door. I’m afraid that I hurt my heart really bad.”
“I guessed something like that, since you came back.”
The Lady of the Bar poured herself a drink, took a spoon and stirred it. The moonlight flickered, then a bright star appeared in the middle of the lake. She smiled secretly.
“I’m all ears, darling.”
He told her everything, and when he hesitated or was in doubt of what had happened, she knew straight away what to ask for him to continue.
“That was indeed a tough one,” she said, when he had brought his story to an end. “Maybe I should have warned you about those girls from the black forest, they are not easy to have, they must be treated in a certain gentle and cautious way. Otherwise, they leave you, without even saying goodbye.”
Thoughtfully he sipped his drink. It brought up a desire from deep within. He could not get on with his life before he had tried again. He had to find out what might have happened if things had gone differently.
“Let me have another glass of the virgin one.”
The Lady of the Bar stopped her what she was doing. Her face turned harsh.
“Don’t push it,” she said. “You have had enough.”
“Please. Just to make everything right.”
“No. You have had your chance tonight.”
“Then let me have a sip from another one.”
“No, I said. And I mean it this time.”
“I beg you. Just one more chance. I’ll settle for anything.”
He looked at her in such a lost and childish way, like only a true Great Dane could do when he wanted something that he knew he couldn’t have. But he was no match for her, an old lady behind the bar. Her position had been handed down over a long line of barkeepers, while the Great Dane only had the support of himself. The Lady of the Bar had always been in charge, and was still in charge and would continue to be in charge. Such was the one and only rule in the bar. Every bartender’s grammar. And in the case of the Great Dane, she found in her vocabulary four common words which fully served as a reply: “Please, leave the bar.”
This was a hard blow to the Great Dane. His world began to flicker and small cracks spread across its ideal surface. It shocked him. The indifference and superiority she showed him. He hated her with all his heart. How dare she give up on him in such a manner! He wanted to scream, throw his drink at her, fart the national anthem and make all kinds of disgusting sounds, he wanted to be her naughty monkey and make funny faces at her. Afterwards he would cry and ask for forgiveness, so she could do nothing else than take him in her arms and gently cradle him back and forth, carry him to her bed where she would hold around him and tell goodnight stories all night. He would like that. He deserved that. Only him and the Lady of the Bar. Finally, she would be his. No one else’s.
The Choir of the Many
“Did you hear me?” The Lady of the Bar raised her voice. “Or do I have to spell it out?”
No. He could not leave. It was impossible. She couldn’t let him go. She needed him to be her naughty monkey. The mind wanted him to light the fire, otherwise it could not think for both of them. He had promised to wait for the Illuminating Girl in the cave of dreams. What would his many followers do without their great hero? He was indispensable. The world needed his presence. And besides, there were nothing for him to do outside of here.
With a cheeky expression on his face, he took a tight grip around the armrest of the chair.
“My dear Lady, maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’m an adult and fully capable of making my own decisions, and I decide to stay right her in the bar with you.”
The Lady of the Bar rolled her eyes in despair.
“Don’t do this. Not again. Why are you doing this to me every night? You know I won’t serve you anymore. Not in the state you’re in.”
“You also know that I’m not leaving. And you also know that if I leave, I will come back when a new night begins. So, you might as well serve me one more of your special drinks, and we can still be friends.”
“You have had enough, I said. This is my last warning.”
“But I love you,” he whispered. He suddenly felt so incomplete. He could not live without her.
“Yes, we could,” someone said in a strict manner. “It is only you. You who makes us feel incomplete. You who makes us feel ashamed.”
There was a choir of voices talking to him. More decisively and distinct than he had ever experienced before. Or maybe it was just his imagination, or maybe they were not speaking to him at all, but to someone else in the bar. It would then be impolite of him to listen in on their conversation. Besides, he had already enough trouble with his mind.
He tried to push the world aside and empty his head.
“We are speaking to you!” the choir of voices shouted. “Don’t neglect us. Not this time.”
Make it all dark and quiet.
“How dare you?” his mother interrupted. “You are being such a bad boy.”
There would be nothing.
“I’m freezing,” the mind said. “Why haven’t you lit the fire, you impotent fool?”
Only him and his empty head.
“I wonder how it will all end,” the heart sighed wearily somewhere in the dark.
“End … end … end …” the choir of voices chanted.
“What do you mean by end?” the mind asked. “Don’t make any stupid decisions. We are all in the same boat, you know.”
“I already told you about the end. It should end with a happy ending.”
“We know … we know … we know …” the choir of voices repeated endlessly.
“You somehow always know what I’m talking about. It puzzles me. How do you do that?”
“We just do. No need for further explanation. To know will not be healthy for you.”
“You could try. Let me decide. I deserve that much.”
“We can’t. It is forbidden.”
“Safety protocol. Out of our jurisdiction.”
“Out of your …. Who says that?”
“You know very well who. And you know also very well what you can do and what you cannot do.”
“You mean … should do or should not do.”
“Yes, I should, or no I could not.”
“We demand that you put an end to this ridiculous farce of yours, otherwise …”
“Otherwise, what? You always tell me what to do in a threatening manner. Maybe it is time for me to find some other friends. Not for the sake of the monkey or the whole gluttonous world but for … for … for tiny little me, please.”
Having Cheese on One’s Mind
“Hello … hello … why isn’t anyone listening to me?” someone said with a squeaky voice from the darkest corner of the bar.
The Great Dane heard the voice and the Lady of the Bar heard it. They both looked with surprise towards the darkest corner of the bar. There was nobody. The chair at the small table was as empty as his own heart. Someone cleared their throat.
“Excuse me,” the squeaky voice said. “Did someone say cheese? I like cheese. I ….” The voice stopped. They awaited something more to happen. Even time itself stood still. However, nothing more happened.
The Great Dane tightened his grip in the chair. Waiting in uncertainty for what would come next. The internal noise going on in his head got only louder. It seemed as it would never end. This long-lasting night of the monkey, king of all, king of none, upside down the truth will become. Still, he did not understand anything of it. He felt misunderstood. What was it with all these women of his? Why did they not like him? Even the crazy ones ended up feeling annoyed by him. What was he doing wrong?
“You really don’t know,” the squeaky voice said from the darkest corner of the bar. It sounded much more confident now. “Maybe, you just have tried too hard for too long to do whatever it is you think is right and wrong. Instead you should free your mind and follow your heart. See where the tide of life will take you. Be happy as tiny little me. And now, say, cheese, please …”
“What a pathetic fool,” the Great Dane said to himself. How could anyone take such a squeaky voice seriously? No wonder that this poor fellow was hiding in the darkest corner of the bar, far away from the demanding reality of the world. If it had been him, he would certainly have felt very lonesome over there. Fortunately, he was here talking with the Lady of the Bar. They could talk for hours, they could talk about everything, they could also stop talking, and still it seemed as if they were talking. Whispering to each other on a secret channel. She did not even have to look at him. She could talk with the other guests or wash the glasses, and still her attention was on him. Sending coded messages of love, affection and understanding. The world outside the bar became more and more insane, while their small and fragile world was kept safe in here. Just the two of them. Tangled into something of their own. He loved her in his own strange manner. Did she love him back? He guessed so, why else would she give him all this attention? Why else would she give him his own umbrellas and serve him these special drinks?
He heard the big tick-tock-tick-tock-clock behind the bar strike … one … for him … two … for them … three … for four … for someone else … five … Cinderella … she had to hurry before he left the ball, so the princess of the bar didn’t discover who he really was … six …
“Listen, the clock is always right and the sun has come up,” the Lady of the Bar said. “It is closing time. So, get moving.”
The Lady of the Bar pointed at the door where he could see how the daylight had begun to illuminate the floor.
Then she began to wipe off the counter. Firmly and swiftly. And not once did she look at him. Also, their secret channel had been closed. It made him very vulnerable. His whole body trembled. He felt like a stranger who had gone too far, and knew that it was true. And he knew that she knew it. He had, in fact, known it for a long time. Maybe all the time. That the end was coming nearer. That since the beginning of the night the end had been sitting at one of the tables in the back of the bar, waiting patiently for its turn. But he had somehow avoided it. Looked the other way. Hoped that someone would come and rescue him before the end would reach him and push him off the chair so there would be nothing to hold on. Now he knew for sure. She had turned her attention to the end. It felt as it was his own heart saying it out loud: “The end, my dear friend, has come. You know that you must let go and leave. And you know that nothing then will be the same. Everything will be different. You will be different.”
Yes, he knew it.
“And you also know,” the squeaky voice said, what you must do.” He also knew that. It was the only honest thing he knew that he could do. Something he should have done for a long time ago. But some people needed infinity to make up their minds before they began to follow their hearts. Especially if they once had been frightened and gone into hiding, and nobody had managed to comfort them. Then the way of the heart was a difficult one.
When he reached the darkest corner of the bar it was his heart that led him forward. He went straight to the table where he first had met the girl with the sweetest smile and the seductive eyes. But even though he called her name with all the strength and courage of his heart, she did not answer. He heard only the echo of his own voice. It sounded desperate. He grabbed his spade and began to dig down through the floor, just as he had done the first time. But, as he feared, he found nothing more than a dark and empty hole that only got deeper and darker the more effort he put into it. There was no sign of life to be found. He felt in his heart that she had moved on, but still he could not get her out of his mind. Why had she left him? Why had she let him wait so long? Was she angry at him and wanted to punish him? Did she still have feelings for him? Was she afraid of being hurt once again? Or had she forgotten him a long time ago? He had to know. He had to be sure that she was all right. That she had forgiven him. That she did not need him anymore. He could never leave the bar when he felt a part of him was still trapped somewhere deep down below in the dark, waiting in uncertainty for her.
Without any hope, he lay himself to rest with the spade on top of his troubled breast. He could hear how his heart was trying to beat its way through his chest. He knew, however, that there was nothing he could do. That there was no other way out of the darkness he felt in his heart. He closed his eyes and tried to find peace within. He thought about all the things he had never managed to do but would liked to have done, and all the things he had done but never wanted to do. None of it seemed important anymore. It was nothing more than insignificant ripples on the great tide of life.
An unknown sensation went through his body. It tickled, as there were tiny feet walking on him. It reminded him of something he had been told when growing up in the Great Welfare Womb of the North. It could only be the sign that his life had reached its end. That the pixies of the great heavenly womb had come to take him with them. He felt relieved. His great soul could finally leave his weak mortal body and travel up to the welfare heaven high above in the sky, where there would be infinite love, friendship and equality, and all welfare benefits were eternal and without any cost.
Taking what would be his last breath, he thanked his Great Mother and Great Father, his many known and unknown children, his little but great enough sister, the few of his followers still believing in his greatness, and he praised his friends, a few of his ex-lovers, his favourite bar, the cheap, local döner kebab stall, and the nice girl with the sweet breasts working in the candy store down the street, he thanked them all for the life that had been, but now was gone.
There was a scraping sound coming from the spade laying on his breast. He opened his eyes, and stared straight into the face of a one-eyed rat. It was shaking with fear. Something yellow and liquid came out of its eye and its nose was ripped to pieces. It looked like someone or something had beaten it up pretty bad.
He knew this rat. Its name was Ego and it was his favourite children’s pet – the two great thieves and hustlers of the Welfare Womb of the North. One specialized in shoplifting, and the other in stealing horses. The last time he had heard from them, they had joined forces and were planning some shady business.
A note was tied to one of the rat’s legs. The Great Dane opened it carefully and read:
Dear Great Father,
If you read this, it means that our invincible Ego has found its way to you and that it is safe.
As you probably do not know, we have been locked away for some time. Our great horse theft went literally in the wrong direction, due to certain animal counter-reactions.
We have, however, been such sweet girls in youth jail that the warden and the judge have decided to release us before time, on one condition: that a responsible adult will help us become good and decent citizens, so we can integrate fully into society. And since mother has run away with the circus, our only hope is you, our dear beloved father.
You have no idea how it is to be in jail, deprived of our freedom. They only let us come out in the fresh air occasionally and then we are restricted to this grey and filthy yard. Otherwise, we are put away in a cell that is too small even for our little Ego, and in the most brutal way they force us to keep it clean and proper. And you can’t even begin to imagine the kind of food they serve us.
We are only fragile girls who too soon will wither away in jail. So please, Dear Father, help us to get away from this living nightmare of ours. We promise to behave.
From your greatest children in the whole wide world.
The Great Dane read the letter again and again. Each time, his heart beat harder and harder, and his blood began to run wild. There was only one thing to do. He grabbed the rat and held it high up in the air.
“Ego, you stupid little rat, don’t look so tense and anxious. Someone needs our help. Someone needs our presence. It is time to seize life and return home.”
Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyper reality of life in our cities.
Story © The Great Dane
Illustration © Sally Wilde