Discovering Love

a novel by Rolf A. F. Witzsche

Episode 1 of the series The Lodging for the Rose

Page 39

Chapter 5 - Helen a Healer

Chapter 5 - Helen a Healer

      The streets appeared much darker now, colder, and lifeless. The lanterns along the sidewalks shone faintly in the veil of mist that had drifted in from the nearby park, contrasting barely against the gray outline of the stone facades of buildings that lined the street. Equally faint was the noise of the city in the fog, compared to the grinding of my shoes on the sidewalk. The stillness though, wasn't productive. No answers emerged to the questions that I felt too impotent to even ask. The only sign of 'civilization' that called me to attention in this lonely silence was the sour stench of another pub. I passed it by, but then stopped and went back. The smell was vented to the outside by a single small fan in the wall next to a window. I looked through the window. Only a few people could be seen inside. Normally this kind of heavy smell would have caused a sense of revulsion, but now it seemed inviting. There were people there, like me. It seemed natural to join them, to sit down with a beer or two and watch the world fade from view.

      By the time the beer was delivered and most of it was gulped down as if I wanted down myself in it, I noticed an elderly man on a stool not far from me. He had just received a fresh beer. He smiled and motioned me to join him. He, too, was alone.

      He nodded slightly as I joined him. "Love pains bring you here, no doubt," he said quietly and put his beer down and looked at me as if he could find an answer in my expression or by analyzing my clothing.

      I nodded back. "Yes, and much more," I answered. I didn't care whether or not he understood what I meant.

      "Most people who come here at this hour have love pains," he said. "They come here when they cannot sleep." He turned his barstool a bit more into my direction as he spoke. "Do you want to talk about it? Talking about it helps, you know."

      I shook my head. Everything that troubled me was ultimately intertwined with the mission and that was classified. "I feel I am being abused," I said quietly, just to say something. That much I could reveal. "I think I can understand what women must go through when they're being abused. It creates a deep gulf between people."

      "I understand," the man answered. "Most people are reluctant to talk about specifics when they first come here, but let me tell you, most of the problems I have heard about are artificial. In fact, I haven't heard about any that aren't."

      "Eh, you must be a psychiatrist," I replied in a somewhat cynical tone and then emptied the dregs of beer left.

      He shrugged. "No, I am a professor of literature and history," he replied in a proud tone of voice. "I've been retired. I can tell you things about the real world that no psychiatrist knows. I can tell you about the separation of the sexes and the separation of the world. Those two have caused all the wars in history." He paused. "The separation has been artificially created by people pursuing selfish purposes," he continued. "You can rely on that. I may not be a genius, as you probably surmise, but this one thing I know, and this, my friend, is already too much for anyone to hear."

      "What are you saying?" I asked.

      He shook his head slightly. "I cannot tell you more. If you knew what I know it would kill you, just as it is killing me."

      "Does this mean you have big problems at home that you don't want anyone to know about?" I said, probing.

      A great burst of laughter was his response. "This place IS my home. I live here. Here I do not need to lie to myself. The biggest mistake I've ever made, my friend, was to study literature and history."

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