Tag Archives: imagination

For the Greater Good

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]
What is the one sentence used by anyone in some position of power over the rank and file that should set any intelligent mind tingling?

”It’s for the greater good.”

Yeah right: The gambling casino advertising that’s its sole reason to exist is to give people free money.

Any semi-intelligent mind has to know that the last thing those in power are interested in is “the greater good.” So why use that particular line then? Because it works, it always works. Even those who know better; those who do not want to believe, end up believing. Or if they don’t believe at the very least they’ll want to “do something” and if it’s an election they’ll cast for “the lesser of evils” as if there ever was such a thing.

That was as far as I got that other evening when I realized the late hour, the need for sleep to face the next day’s ordeal.

Today I’m thinking maybe such an obvious observation should just be deleted like I’ve deleted thousands before. Yeah,

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
(excerpt from “Everybody Knows” – Leonard Cohen)

So why repeat it, then? Seems so pointless. Yet the question won’t go away: why, despite all evidence to the contrary, do people continue to believe in and support “the System”?

The next obvious question is what would happen if just for once “the people” stopped believing and supporting?

The answer to the first question is programming. People are programmed to believe. They really can’t help themselves. Even if they get really mad and violently uproot one gang of predators (France, Russia) and kill them, all they can manage is establishing something as bad or worse (Napoleon, Stalin). That likely explains why in these times people are unwilling to step over the line drawn in the sand by their elites and kill them off. Public education has made too many of them aware of the hopelessness inherent to violent revolution, and if not violent revolution, then what?

There is nothing in their programming to replace the status quo. I’ve read thousands of books, articles, essays ad nauseam, looking for something that proposes genuine, radical change, the kind that would eliminate any and all aspects of the status quo. Many describe the evils of predatory capitalism and the military industrial complex. Many describe the evils inherent to traditional religion. Many propose “changes” within these evils but none ever lay out any real change, any total change.

“The people” exist within a choreographed dance of chaos and confusion and never was this more obvious than in today’s world. We exist within the most corrupt system of “rulers” this world (of man) has ever experienced. The corruption is endemic to the point where the “average Joe” thinks only of getting his own piece of the rotten pie. He still lines up dutifully; if reluctantly most times, at the slaughterhouse door convinced that this time, this particular time, there will be something personally beneficial for him when he steps through that door and punches his time card.

To the second question, if people stopped believing and supporting, the “System” which is nothing more than a cheap game board with a few loaded dice, would simply collapse. The only way the vile, corrupt, self-serving, predatory elites can continue to play their game is because they know how to take advantage of the programming imposed upon the peons (pee ons). They didn’t create the programming; they just discovered uses for the power over the herds of sheeple it gives them.

Could eight billion Earthians survive without the System’s madness? Could they exist without the folly? No, they could not. Therefore they would have to learn to live instead of simply existing. Not as easy as it looks. When you’ve spent an entire life as a believer, as a non-person, as the un-dead, it’s not easy to look at the world and think, “Hey, wait a minute, under all the fakery, the bullshit and the technocratic anti-life machinery there’s an actual natural living world and I have a natural, physical body that I can adapt to that living world. I don’t need this so-called civilization’s shit and its crap rules. I am a person. I can be a natural person. I can live not just off of, but with, this natural environment. I can let nature take its course instead of treating it like an enemy.”

That, of course, would spell the end of the programming. That is why it can’t happen: the programming was put in place by ultimate predators no one (no normal Earth mind that is) can become aware of or the game would be up. The programmers need their victims: solar systems, planets, sentient life, everything, to maintain their empire; to attempt to satisfy their insatiable hunger. What they fear most isn’t rebellion but the awakening of intelligence throughout their conquered worlds. Their fear is real. It has already happened on some worlds; it is happening on many more. But never fear, Earth isn’t one of those.

Most readers will immediately discount that last paragraph as delusional or at the very least, highly imaginative science fiction. Pay attention to that, it’s telling “you” that your programming is working to perfection… to continue believing and subconsciously destroy everything good you always dreamed of as a possibility. On Earth, no good deed remains unpunished.

How then does one achieve enlightenment?

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~  and essay, by Sha’Tara]

Quote: “Prescience reveals no absolutes, only possibilities. The surest way to know exactly what the future holds is to experience it in real time.” (Sandworms of Dune – Kevin Anderson)

How do I approach this? Let me say that lately I have been allowing myself to “feel” and that has translated into deep and abiding sorrow for this world. Certainly if one is remotely aware of the many sick things going on here, or being done here, there must arise a sense of anxiety. But “anxiety” means concern for one’s self, or one’s “special people” within the greater body politic.

Sorrow is a different thing, as I have written about before. My understanding of it is, it isn’t about me (or mine, if I had any special people) but about all of it, about the flow of life… and death… all around me, as far as my senses can reach.

One achieves “enlightenment” when one gathers enough personal courage to look at her or his world exactly as it is and not as the conflicting sources of propaganda declare it to be. Yes, that takes courage because it removes all the facile excuses we constantly make up to justify our sustaining beliefs regardless of how such beliefs affect others. Enlightenment means I no longer regard others as conveniences to supply my endless wants; I no longer view them as competitors for space or resources; I no longer see them as threats to my personal, or national, beliefs and security.

Enlightenment means becoming aware of reality without blinders or protective armor. It means choosing to become vulnerable so that others may not have to feel vulnerable but safe in our presence.

Enlightenment then means living the compassionate life does it not?

If we accept the truth of our current social condition, that being a very difficult thing to do, we will of necessity plunge into a maelstrom of personal conflict. If we are of the relatively “rich” West, we will feel the weight of responsibility for many of the world’s ills and we won’t know what to do about it. We will want to protest; we will seek to blame someone, particularly “they” for the world’s major problems. We will think that just changing “me” is useless in the grand scheme of things and when we see that all our struggles, our protests, our votes and our hopes are increasingly dashed, we will go the route of despair, despondency, denial or seek solace in “old time religion” and our spirit will die within. We will go through the motions of living and when death comes, that will be that. It might even be seen as a relief from pointlessness and boredom.

This reminds me of a song I once wondered about so long ago, sung by Peggy Lee: “Is That All There Is?”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sWTnsemkIs

I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire
I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face as he gathered me up
In his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement
And I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames
And when it was all over I said to myself, is that all there is to a fire?

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

And when I was twelve years old, my father took me to a circus, the greatest show on earth
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads
And as I sat there watching
I had the feeling that something was missing
I don’t know what, but when it was over
I said to myself, “is that all there is to the circus?

And then I fell in love with the most wonderful boy in the world
We’d take take long walks down by the river or just sit for hours gazing into each other’s eyes
We were so very much in love
And then one day he went away and I thought I’d die, but I didn’t
And when I didn’t I said to myself, is that all there is to love?

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep

I know what you must be saying to yourselves
If that’s the way she feels about it why doesn’t she just end it all?
Oh, no, not me I’m not ready for that final disappointment
‘Cause I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you
When that final moment comes and I’m breathing my last breath, I’ll be saying to myself

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

Yesterday was my 73rd birthday, a pretty good milestone, even by today’s standards and I realize that all my life I have refused to accept that “is that all there is” condition.

In “Sandworms of Dune” Kevin Anderson wrote: “By following the same beliefs and making the same decisions one wears life’s path into a circular rut, going nowhere, accomplishing nothing, making no progress.”

That is “the” problem Earthians seem unable to confront and move beyond. Many a time I suggested doing something outside the status quo in order to get off the treadmill. I was mocked and accused of not knowing the difference between imagination and reality. Eventually I chose in favor of imagination and against man’s sacrosanct reality. I chose against “Is that all there is” and went on a life-long quest for whatever lay beyond this view.

I found the doorway, and I saw the future, yes, and experienced it in real time. That is what the gate keepers do not want Earthians to realize: that their future exists, that it is waiting for them to enter into it and experience it, that it is neither some bullshit religious “heaven” or “hell” nor equally bullshit materialistic annihilation.

If we would become truly enlightened we all have to take that chance and go questing for our own particular future. It’s a strictly personal reality and not a collective affair. Scary thought that, hm?

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff – Part IV

CONTENTS DELETED.  If  you need this section for reference, please contact me at


(Continuing with the story of  “The Garbage Man”.  The title has changed as you can see, likely to change again and my two main characters have changed their names again, as you will also see later.  I find that it’s becoming an intriguing story, and whoever is actually moving the writing is quite a bit of a romantic.  I don’t mind it, actually, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the main story… whatever that’s going to be!!!  Enjoy.)

“Let me go. I will put my sword away.”

Lotharic released her and she slowly, reluctantly, put away her sword. Then she faced him.

“You manipulated my thoughts, twisted my mind, made me act in unnatural ways I would not normally?”

“Are you happy then, with your new name, and new choices, Nal?”

She couldn’t answer; she just burst into tears and loud sobbing. So much goodness in so short a time and for once she did not block it; did not insist that it was just another trick. For once she fully accepted it and through blinding tears, revelled in her joy.

End of Part IV –

Listening in Time

(short story,  by Sha’Tara)

“I know you are keen, and willing.  Good traits in a researcher.  But you are missing the key ingredients.  You must sit quietly, by yourself, for hours, maybe days, and listen in time.  Listen to the voices of the dead, and the pre-incarnate.  They are in the voices of “others” and in the sounds of the earth: the wind, the cracking soil, the moving grains of sand, the patter of the rain on scrabbly hard-pan soil.  They come on the heat waves.  Sometimes they get playful and paint mirages which tell stories from within your own heart and soul which your tired and bleary eyes will translate into images of desires.  

If you do not learn to listen, all you will accomplish in these places as you sift through dirt and rubble is collect garbage.  It will be recognizable as works of the people but it will reveal no stories, no myths, no history.  These you will have to create from your own imagination and trust me on this, it will not be the same stories as what was, even if the entire world should buy your interpretations.  Honest archaeologists are a rare breed but there is nothing written, either in this desert or in mountains, that says you can not be one of that small group.  When you teach yourself the secret of time listening the people who made and used the objects you unearth, they will tell you their stories.  Some will seem strange and some will be, to your modern understanding, quite unbelievable, but just listen.  It is not your call to re-interpret the lives of others according to your current knowledge: that is sacrilege.  Let the ghosts speak; let them tell their story, and accept it at face value.  It may be that they lie to you, but let it be: do not add insult to injury by adding to the lies.  After all, as you will discover in time, all of your history is lies.  There is no truth to be found on this world, or in this universe.  We know, we’ve been looking for millions of your years and there is no such chimera.”

I was young then, and I’d been experimenting with the local flora under the auspices of a would-be witch doctor who called himself George but whose real name was an unpronounceable Mexican word that sounded like apple-cotle or aptly cotli.  This particular drug induced “time dreams” he had told me, and… “You should only smoke a small amount at sunset.  Sit against a rock, or a tree if you can find one, and set your mind free to roam.  Do not try anything, just let it all go.  It is the time of the spirits and sometimes one of them will notice you and approach you with a story, or some advice.  Just listen and do not try to make any judgment about what you hear, or think you hear.  Put your own thoughts aside and just absorb.” 

I smoked slowly, not eagerly, trying to practice “wisdom” in my folly.  How long I sat against the rock that dug into my back, feeling the sand getting cold beneath me, I don’t know.  Darkness came and the sky exploded with myriads of pin-points of lights: star, planets, meteors, even satellites and flashing lights of planes.  Time passed and I no longer felt the cold, nor the loneliness or that deep fear of the dark unknown.  I “slept” with eyes open, hearing and learning to listen.  I heard small animals squeaking to one-another, some unrecognizable insects repeating endless calls; owls, even one loud shriek of what could only be some wild cat, cougar perhaps.  It didn’t matter.

It seemed as if I’d become a part of the landscape, an extension of the rock I leaned against.  I felt a deep well-being; a thoroughly unfamiliar certainty.  I was “here” and “here” was where I belonged.  This was “home” like nothing had ever been.  “Here I sit, and here I remain,” I thought, against all common sense.  I felt the cold, hunger and thirst but it did not matter to this “me” that was being absorbed by the land, the air, the sky, the universe, the cosmos.  In that time I was no longer a body-centered, or physical being.  I was a member of the cosmic races, with a part of me resting upon a planet called earth – a very small, very strange planet. 

That’s when the voice came to my mind; when I heard the words I quoted above. 

I have been digging up history in this part of the world for almost fifty years now.  I’ve become old and bent.  My skin is like that of a lizard, dry and scaly, with brown spots.  I’ve loved being naked in the sun and it has left its marks on my body but I don’t care.  He was my lover and I cherish his touch still.  I haven’t become famous.  No best seller came from my notes; no following.  People came here to dig with me, and left to seek fame and fortune.  Some managed it, returning to tell me about it.  Some even provided funds so I could remain here, on my wind-swept plateaus digging up ghost stories; me, the crazy Canadian who should have been more at home on the snowy wilds of northern Canada, than here. 

To the local people, I am “loca perdida” or the crazy one, though many come just to be with me, or to listen to my stories.  They come to get me sometimes, either with a jeep, or even a donkey, and take me to a village feast so they can hear some of my stories about their ancient peoples.  They seem to have no difficulty believing me, and I have wondered about that.  Do they also listen in time? They “pay” me in food, or in new blankets for my tents or shelters.  Good people, all of them.  I’ve always felt safe here; not sure I could have managed that in cities where people crowd unhappily together, hardly ever getting to know each other though rubbing shoulders every day.  How sad is that life, I think.

Here I remain.  Here I belong for my body’s time being.  Here I taught myself to listen in time and it is here that I will die so another archaeologist, another time listener, can find bits and pieces of my presence in this place and unearth my own story – a story that will have meaning only to her and the few who carry our vision of living in time.  

How I wish I could express, in words, how blessed my life has been and how much I look forward to new digs out there in the stars, knowing that when I sit down and look up I will see more stars.

The Cursed Year, the Year of Bliss

  [short story, by Sha’Tara –  part 6]

“Someone wants to read the story”

Wonder Woman fell asleep at her typewriter, overslept her start time and went down to Mrs. Gray’s place to make a phone call.  (Mrs. Gray is part-time caretaker of the apartment complex with her brother Antoine.)  And Wonder Woman didn’t smell that good either.  Super heroes can be too human. I called the paper, explained my problem, got yelled at and told to get on over as soon as possible and expect to have to stay late to make up.  Par for the course, except that I’d never been late on a job before.  Things were cranking up speed and I was running uphill to keep up.  Then I realized I was trying to do two jobs at the same time.  Moonlighting, so to speak. 

After splashing water on my face, running a quick brush through my hair and brushing my teeth, I ran out to the bus stop.  I forgot what time it was and predictably took the wrong bus, got confused, lost.  I was standing on the street wondering what to do next when a tall, slim man in a grey suit, standing by a dark shiny and new car waved and motioned for me to come over.  I approached him, ready to say, “No!” to whatever except that he asked if I knew how to drive.  I was taken a bit off stride with that one but of course, I said “Yes.” 

“Can you drive me to my office?  That’s my car,” points to the shiny new Mercedes, “and I’m drunk and I’m already looking at one impaired, don’t need another, can’t leave that car here and I can’t wait for a tow truck.  You look like the kind of kid can be trusted.  Help me, there’s a hunnerd in it for you.” 

The slurred speech and my need for a ride bought my willingness but drunk… at ten o’clock in the morning?  It sounded contrived, fishy, but I took the bait – I needed that money.  He gave me directions and I drove him to his office which lucky for me, was only a couple of blocks from the paper.  He gave me the hundred dollars – I could scarcely believe it when I saw it! – and his card.  “Like to see you again, call me.  Wait!  He grabs the card and initials it.  This’ll get you to my office.  Please don’t forget.”  Hm.  Joseph. P.  Lonin.  JPL… Jet Propulsion Labs?  I smiled at my own joke, and ran like the White Rabbit for the paper.

Good ol’ Stan was waiting to pounce on me. 

“What’s going on with you?  You know we’re on a deadline and we need your proofs.  You should’ve been here two hours ago.”

“They’re done,” I said, “here.” and I reached in “my” desk and pulled out a stack of sheets.

“Why didn’t you tell me on the phone?”

“I forgot in the confusion.  Then I took the wrong bus but some suit gave me a hundred dollars to drive his Mercedes to his office.  Here’s his card.  Stan studied the card and said, “holy shit.” and yelled,

“Hey George, come see this!  She’s got a card from Joe.” He eyed me quizzically, asked me to sit and George came over, looked at the card and went, “I don’t believe this.” Then he looks at me and says in typical George,

“Do you shit gold bricks too?”

Stan: “Jesus H Christ, George…!”  

“Ok guys, what’s the deal?  Who’s this guy anyway?”

“Lonin?  He owns about a quarter of the town, including this paper.  This is the boss.  The head honcho, the Big Kahuna.”  He rolls his eyes to the ceiling and  holding up the card finishes his rant with, 

“You, girl had an encounter with God!”  He dragged it out like “gawd.”

“God? That explains a whole lot of theological points my catechism failed to make all those years back.  Thanks for the update, I didn’t know God drove a Mercedes in Montreal and got drunk on occasion and early in the morning.  I wonder if he drives a Cadillac in New York?  A ‘Vette in Hollywood?  A Ferrari in Rome?  Enough clowning, I’ve got to get  to work.”

“Hell with the work” says Stan.  “You say this guy wants to see you again?  Go see him, tell him you decided to take the day off… hell no, the week off.  No, tell him we gave it to you ‘cause we’re so damned impressed with your work, which we are by the way and I was going to mention it soon.  Put in a few good words for us…but for Chrissake don’t tell him we put you up to it, huh?  This is the way up  for all of us Helen.  This is gold.  Don’t blow this.”

Full of serious misgivings I cleaned up as best I could, put on the one dress I kept in a back closet for emergencies (like being asked to go for lunch with a client and take notes) and a matching pair of decent heels, fixed my lipstick and brushed my hair, deciding to let it hang freely.  If you asked me I had no idea what I was doing, or why.  I was just doing it.  When I grabbed my briefcase George tried to stop me. 

“You won’t need that; makes you look too serious and out of place.  Doesn’t go with the dress.”

“It’s not meant to.  I’m wearing my coat, it’s cold out there.”

“Coat makes you look frumpy.  Take a taxi, here’s some money.”  And he handed me a ten dollar bill. 

“That’s crazy, I don’t need that much.”

“It’s not a loan, it’s… let’s say it’s a bonus.  Just go.”

“I need that case and I’m not leaving without it.”

“Fine, but forget the coat.  You look hot in that dress.”

“I’m not going on a date, George, I’m going to see an old man in his office.”

“Yeah, right.  Fat lot you know about it.  If I know anything about Lonin, you’ll be going on a date.”  My misgivings rate just shot up ten points on the Richter scale. 

I hate taxis and Montreal taxi drivers seem to all think they’re God’s gift to women, especially cute young ones and rich old ones.  I fit the first category and my dress made a perfect bull’s eye on the target. 

“Anglais où français? (English or French?)

“N’importe” (Don’t matter)

“Alors, ou veut-tu aller, la belle? (So, where to, Babe?)

“Juste un couple de blocs – pas loin.” (Just a couple of blocks – not far)

“Ok, you could have walked it but I’m not complainin’.  Sit back and relax.  And he checks his rear-view constantly – from his eyes to the mirror to my cleavage, or my knees and legs.  Being in the back seat makes me feel almost safe yet I experience intense relief when I get out, pay and turn away from his ravening look.  Sex deprivation seems to be a rampant problem among city males.  I repeated that to myself to see if it would help me paste the obligatory smile on.  It didn’t.

I entered the building where I’d left the car earlier, and asked the doorman the number of Joseph Lonin’s office.  He eyed me with that knowing look and said, “Penthouse” but you’ll need a pass and someone has to accompany you up.  Do you have an appointment?”  I showed him my card.  “There’s no elevator to the top floor, just a locked stairway.  Just stay here, I’ll get a guard. 

We went up, 84 floors, exited the elevator.  The guard unlocked the stairs doors and I was ushered up and into the penthouse.  I was shown to a plush couch and offered a drink.  I declined the wine, accepted a lemonade and sipped slowly.  Muted conversation between the guard and a woman I guessed was an assistant to Lonin.  Sly looks my way, knowing smiles, more looks.  I pretended to shuffle my notes in my briefcase and demurely bending my legs to one side, pulled my dress down over my knees, finished the lemonade and set the glass down on a glass-topped table that was probably worth a year of my wages. 

I waited, re-reading my notes and shuffling the half-dozen pathetic yellow pages detailing my late night experiences, making changes, inserting marginal notes.  I pulled out a fresh sheet and was about to start a new page when I was approached by the “assistant” who looked me over with a bit of a frown, then smiled, introduced herself as Lana, Mr. Lonin’s private secretary, and asked me to follow her.

Into the inner sanctum of the God.  I should have been quaking in my boots but I wasn’t wearing boots and I was way past the times of quaking.  I was tense, yes, but I was also angry.  Anger helped me prepare for whatever ordeal the next Alpha wolf in the pack was going to pull on me, and I already knew enough about Lonin to be beyond “on guard.”  I was ready and in full attack mode.  Just give me one reason, just one. 

Lana:  “You seem a bit tense miss… sorry, we didn’t get your name…?”

“I’m sorry.  My name is Helen Kristofson.” Cut and dry.

“Interesting name.”  More than just a comment, asking for a response.

“My father’s from Montana.  His parents came from Norway.”  I’m really into my new fictional identity now.

“Ah, can I get you anything while you wait for Mr. Lonin?  Are you hungry?  A salad perhaps, or croissant and a coffee?”

“Oh no, thank you, I’m quite fine.”  So phoney, after mocking me within eyesight.  But there was probably a time when miss Private Secretary was the one on her back on the office’s plush carpet, or leaning on the mini fridge and moaning her fake pleasure. I reached for my notes once again, reading and frowning at all the typos and missing key information.  What a mess I’d made of those notes.  I was tired.  Not an excuse, just a fact. 

A sliding door snicked open suddenly and the man himself stood behind the opening.  He looked and didn’t recognize me.  Frowned.  “Yes?  You wanted to see me and you have some credentials, an invitation, I’m told?  Do we know each other?”

“Yes sir.  I drove you to work this morning in your Mercedes.  I’m Helen.”

“Ah well, of course.”  Peremptorily: “Come in.”

I quickly push my notes back in the case and walk through the door opening.  It whooshes shut and whatever sounds existed and travelled through the building were instantly blanked out.  Silence.  Dead silence.  Muted breathing.  His voice:

“Please sit down, Helen.  And tell me why you decided to follow up on my offer so promptly.  It’s just half past one.”

“I’m not supposed to tell you why I’m here, so I’m going to tell you why I’m supposed to be here.”  He chuckled at that. 

“You work for “The Journal” and the boys down there recognized my card and signature.  They saw an opportunity and sent you over to soften the front, so to speak?”

“Basically, yes.  They gave me a week off, presumably a paid vacation week, or a week for me to do some investigating and reporting on my own, however you would prefer the concoction, and I was so eager to meet you in your office I just rushed on over here.  What I’m not here for is to put in a good word for them.”

“Of course, that wouldn’t do at all, would it.  Conflict of interest and all that.  Let’s leave them out of this and talk about you instead.  Why don’t you tell me who you are, a bit of your story and what you have in that case that seems so important to you?  After all, you probably know by now that you already actually work for me so let’s hear how you like to spend your time.”

“Sure.  On the clock time, or on my own, sir?”

“Call me Joe.  I already know what brain-numbing job you have at “The Journal” so let’s talk about your own time.  And do sit down.” 

“Ok, here are my preliminary rough notes.”  I pull out several dog-eared sheets of yellow paper and sat down in a very comfortable chair that doesn’t achieve the purpose of making me feel comfortable about my rough notes, so I quickly add, 

“I’ve begun to write notes for a story, or series of article I don’t know quite how to manage, direct or finish.  It’s a bit dangerous, and the notes are beyond rough.  I hardly slept at all last night, I was out on the streets, watching, listening and recording.  I want to write about the streets, the slums particularly, and about the kind of people who live there, and why they live there in such inhuman conditions.  I was raised on a homestead, practically in the wilderness you see and knew nothing of any city until earlier this year when I ended up in Edmonton.  And then, some colourful months later I’m here.  In this City.  And I know nothing about it.  Because of that I thought I’d be the best investigative and descriptive reporter any paper could get.  Totally open minded, somewhat naïve due to lack of knowledge and suitably credulous to engage in serious research.   I’m tired of reading proofs: I want to become a reporter… sir, I mean Joe.  So I’ve begun: last night I took an interesting first stroll in my story.”

I watched his eyes.  He didn’t blink, or smirk or lower his gaze.  He looked me straight in the eyes: “I think that’s an excellent idea, and that you should get a chance at becoming a real reporter.  I like your style, your gutsiness, and your dangerous naivety, though I’m thinking that part is somewhat deceptive.”  He smiled at that and added, probably to get my full attention, “I’ll let you know when my interest in your career wanes and has switched to studying your body.  That by way of letting you know  I can be just as candid as you, Helen. 

“I want you to think about this:  there are only two basic differences between us: one, I’m a man and you’re a woman.  Two, I’m rich and you are poor.  Between us is a very deep valley.  Between us walks every aspect of humanity.  Between us lies every human interest story ever lived.

“You’re a philosopher, Joe.”

“Perhaps…”  Distant, pensive look, “I’ll read your notes, Helen.  In fact I want to read them now, before they’re ruined by embellishments deemed necessary in making the story acceptable to a lukewarm mainstream media and its equally lukewarm readership. 

“Now listen to me.  I want you to continue investigating the slums, and to write your discoveries exactly as you perceive them.  I want to read your opinions and I want you to slant your articles towards a comparison of the city streets to your own world back on the homestead; what you observed about nature.  Differences and similarities, what each could learn from the other – like you and me.  Time to put an end to stale reporting at ‘The Journal.’

“Show me you’re serious about this you’ll have an equally serious advance on your work, guaranteed as of this moment, and you’ll be assured of copyright protection before we leave this office today.  One condition: you must find a safer method of investigating your story.  I have some ideas on how to resolve that to our mutual satisfaction.”  And as if he’d almost forgotten, he added,

“One more thing: when you see your Journal bosses tell them I want to see them.  I’m going to make some changes over there and I have to win them over – I don’t want inter-office sniping or worse, an all out revolt.   Get them excited, tell them I want to introduce colour in the format.  

Finally he smiles at me with a hand under his chin, studying me.  It’s a nice, warm smile I take to be sincere.  I smile back at him, careful not to put in more than necessary to indicate agreement only.  The games we must play with rules we grab from the air as we move along. 

[end of part 6: Someone wants to read the story]