Alchemist Gift continued: Roland and Liz sat outside at one of the tables that were protected by a large yellow umbrella. The restaurant had a spacious setback from the sidewalk. Brian, the owner and self-appointed uncle to both Roland and Liz, thought it would be a good idea to offer the al fresco experience at The Edelweiss. He put half a dozen tables out and installed a wrought iron railing to give the place a continental touch. They ate their breakfast in relative silence. Roland was brooding and Liz was second guessing her no sex policy. They sipped their coffee and whenever they made eye contact they exchanged fleeting little smiles.
“They’ll probably have music at the street fair. Remember that guy who played the harp last year? ” chirped Liz.
“They have music every year.” countered Roland who sounded mean spirited. “You got his CD that you never play. Then there’s the ancient hippie who sells incense out of the back of his VW van, and the ceramics guys, and the plant lady and all the cheap jewelry, and let’s not forget that old witchy lady who reads the tarot cards.” Roland looked into his almost empty cup and set it down. He noticed the hurt look on Liz’s face. Roland gave a weak chuckle and included himself in his diatribe somehow thinking that would soften what he said. “There are always a couple of cool things there, but since I ain’t got no money, what’s the point.” It was too late. The morning was soured.
“No point.” agreed Liz coolly. She didn’t try to hide her disappointment. “Look, you obviously don’t want to go, so we won’t.”
“It’s not so much that.” He rubbed his cheeks with his palms and brought his hands together with his index fingers touching his lips just under his nose. He looked like he was praying. He felt a strange little flutter in his body that he shook off as a chill.
Roland’s complaints at times could be the preface to something deeper going on inside him. Liz knew that and reached across the table and took Roland’s hand. “What is it then? Roland, I’m kind of concerned.”
“About me?” Roland was flattered and he leaned in a little closer.
“Well, more about us. I don’t want to lose us. We’ve known each other for so long. You’re my first love and I’m yours.”
Trying to avoid his displeasure and impatience with everything lately Roland threw out the first thing that came to mind. “It’s got to be that dream; that’s all I can think about. I know it doesn’t make any sense. It was just so god damn real.” He looked up at Liz, and for just a second, it seemed her face and everything around her flickered. “Whoa, what the heck? Oh man, that was weird.” Roland was shaken; he took several deep breaths and blinked his eyes several times. “Whew, too much.”
“God, I hope so. That was so fucking weird, it’s like you disappeared for a second then came right back.”
“No sweetheart, I’ve been here all the time.” Liz knew he was upset, he never ever dropped the F bomb. “Do you feel okay now?”
“Yeah, I feel okay.”
“You think it was your dream? Sweetheart, come on, you’re stuck trying to come up with a thesis. You’re under pressure. It seems pretty obvious to me; you’re in the Renaissance 24/7, so why wouldn’t you dream about it?”
Though he didn’t want to be reminded of his mental block when it came to his thesis, he was relieved to focus on something familiar. In his online and library research he came across hundreds of theses crisscrossing every possible aspect of the Renaissance. There didn’t seem to be any more new angles; nothing original left to come up with. He hated the sense of urgency that came with deadlines. “I guess that kind of makes sense. Maybe you’re right. Man, I guess I must be stressed. The statement and outline for my thesis are due in a couple of weeks.”
Liz squeezed his hand and looked into his eyes. “Don’t worry about it, it’ll come to you. Just stick with it. You’ve come along this far. I’ve stuck with you.”
“Stick, stuck, stick, stuck,” said his inner voice; his thought reminded him of a clock ticking away. He nodded his head in agreement.
“I’m going to the restroom and pay the bill. I’ll be right back.” Liz left Roland and entered the restaurant.
Roland hunched forward in his chair and picked up a half-eaten piece of toast off of Liz’s plate. He opened the little packet of grape jelly, spread it on and ate it in two bites. A bus passed by leaving behind its motory echo in his ears and that distinct smell of diesel in his nostrils. A lowered, small, metallic blue car with darkened windows pulled in to park in front of the restaurant. The music, especially the base line was so loud it seemed to pass through him, vibrate the water in his glass, and made the plates on the table rattle against one another.
Liz finally returned to the table. “Shall we. We can walk. It’s only a few blocks.” She took sunglasses out of her purse and put them on.
“I have a confession to make; I really don’t want to go the street fair.”
“Okaaay, we don’t have to go; I just wanted us to spend some time together.”
“We just went to that metaphysical symposium up at the Huntington
Library last Saturday. That was interesting, wasn’t it?”
“I only want to be with you.”
“Well, if you want to spend some time together we could go back to my place.” Roland winked at her and reached for her hand.
Liz was silent as she let her limp hand lay in his. “Look, since you don’t want to go to the street fair, how’s this? I’m going to the Foster Kids Retreat and hang out there.”
Roland let go of Liz’s hand. “Again? You hang out there more than you do with me.” He crossed his arms.
“I grew up in that place; it was my home away from home. It was a place you could go to if things didn’t work out after you were placed. There were people there for me and now it’s my turn to be there for someone else.”
“So, there’s no chance of you coming back to Roland Manor.”
“Do you even hear me?” Liz was exasperated.
“Do you even hear me? I need some lovin’.” was Roland’s pouty come back.
Liz took a deep breath and got control of herself and spoke calmly and clearly. “This is what I mean about us. I want to know what our relationship is really about and where it’s going. I’m really not in the mood to talk about it right now. Tomorrow we can talk .Right here, meet me here for brunch, ten o’clock.” Then she added softly. “I do love you, and I’ll see you then. Now go work on your thesis. You can do it.” Liz bent down and kissed Roland on the lips.
He returned the kiss. When she turned away he gave her a playful swat on the butt. Liz let out an audible sigh, shook her head and walked away down the street and turned the corner.
* * * * * * *
Roland drove his faded green Jetta to the campus library. He was stopped at an intersection. A half a dozen people were crossing the street. Roland recognized the Sikh in his turban who worked at the 7-11. There was a plump little Mexican mom pushing a stroller with a wobbly wheel with her cute little girls in tow, and an old lady bundled in a black over coat and hat. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw a man in renaissance military garb, with a studded club hanging from his belt, crossing with the others. The people in the cross walk took no notice of the man. Roland was dumbstruck when soldier stopped and faced the car and leaned in and leered at him. Roland stared back at him and only looked away into the rear view mirror when he heard a car behind him lay on the horn. When Roland looked back the soldier was not to be seen. Roland took off slowly and looked down the sidewalk, the only place he could have gone. His soldier was nowhere to be seen.
Roland spent the rest of the day and late into the afternoon doing more research on different master theses and being pleasantly distracted by pretty coeds who might be searching the shelves close to where he was sitting. He kept on coming back to the idea of doing something on alchemy. There were dozens of theses that dealt with the subject. He read a little on it during his studies but didn’t delve too deeply into its philosophy or understand it as being more than an antique get rich scheme.
He left a couple messages on Liz’s phone and texted her a few times during the day. He wanted to see her again. He didn’t like the way the breakfast ended or the thought of waiting until tomorrow to discuss their relationship. He didn’t see what there was to discuss. They’ve been going together forever and Roland wanted things to be the way they were before Liz got all antsy about what “direction” things were going.
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The Alchemist Gift is a book about the lives of people in the Renaissance and the alchemy that brought them together with its repercussions on our modern-day hero, Roland.
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2013 Mark D. Giglio, www.theartofgiglio.com
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Alchemist Gift, Alchemy, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-fi, Science Fiction. Renaissance history, culture, superstition, witch burning, ancient science, alchemist