She must have been sitting there a while when I arrived for our regular Monday morning get-together. Her coffee was half finished. The one she had bought for me was full, but no longer hot.
“Keen, or am I late?” I asked, with what I hoped she’d see was a warm smile.
She was used to the power of words, to the polarity of debate. She was not about to let the early advantage slip away so easily. So she said nothing . . . the pale brown eyes looked at me calmly.
“Aha,” I said, not wanting to waste her precious half hour before the train, and conscious that, when working with anyone as competent as Alexandra, it’s important to know when to bend. “Okay . . .” I sat down, took a sip from my coffee cup and took my watch off, lying it in front of her. “I thought I was buying?” I said.
In reply, she took out the serviette on which she had done the hasty drawing last week.
The circle with the stabbed ‘9’ had faded a little in the pocket of the busy suit, but was quite recognisable. Alexandra rested the point of her pen on the numeral and fixed me with a cat-like stare.
“Stop playing bloody games, you know what I want to know.”
I was ready for the outburst. I leaned forward and whispered, “We can’t start with the ‘9’ signpost.”
“I did and I will, but we have to build back up to the nine or it won’t have as much power as it deserves . . .” Now I wasn’t playing, and she sensed the shift.
“Why are we whispering?” she asked.
“Because the nine and its meaning are part of the secret.”
“The wicked secret? The missing one of the nine that was eight that thinks it’s seven?”
“Yes, that one . . .”
She drank some coffee and looked less bullet-proof. “What can we start with, then?’
“Well, apart from the nine, they are all equally good start points.”
Alexandra sipped some thoughtful coffee, composing her next question. But I pre-empted her:
“What’s your favourite sin?”
“We’re not getting personal, I hope?”
“Not in the least, ‘favourite’ in terms of, perhaps, a fascination?”
When it came, I was proud of her answer. As a barrister, I wouldn’t have expected anything else.
“Lying . . .” she said, softly; suddenly looking very serious. “People lie all the time.”
“Just to others?” I coaxed.
“No,” she smiled, getting my drift. “To themselves, too . . . “
“And which does the most damage?”
I watched the importance of the realisation flicker across her face. “To themselves . . . ” It was one of those moments that tell you that you are most certainly not wasting your time.
“Yes, so draw the nine points on your circle and I’ll show you where lying lives.”
Her brow furrowed, “Nine points, just anywhere?”
“Now come on; why would ‘just anywhere’ not be a good idea?”
“No symmetry?” she replied. “And there’s something deep in the symmetry?”
“Quite . . .”
“But I’m not good at dividing the circumference of a circle into nine lengths of arc.”
I was proud of her verbal precision. “You don’t have to,” I said. “All you have to do is divide it into three and add in some twos”
“Into three is easier?” she was looking troubled.
“It is if you create a triangle, point up, with equal sides.”
She leapt on it. The pen flashed and before us appeared an extension of the wounded nine which had spawned two children, one lower left; the other lower right.
“Very good.” I said.
“I could do it better on the computer?”
“And we will–but for now, the pen is mightier . . .”
I nodded and took some more coffee. “And that’s important at this stage, if we are not to see it as ‘just another symbol’.”
“What is it, really, the ennea-thingy” she asked. Her eyes were giving me that soft look, again–the one that makes me want to tell it all, to satisfy that deep hunger, but I had to make each meeting count, they had said that . . .
“What is it really? I’ll tell you at the end.”
“The end of all these talks?” There was a sadness in her tone.
“No, the end of today’s coffee . . .”
Her face lit up, again. She leaned forward and said, “The home of ‘lying’ – you were going to tell me where it lived . . .”
“On the three.”
“Count clockwise from nine and remember you are missing three sets of two.”
She took a while to think about that, but her fierce intellect worked on it and, with confidence, she filled in the missing ‘one’ and ‘two’ as blue blobs, then labelled the ‘3’.
“There!” She said triumphantly, holding up the serviette, now with the word “Lying” written in lawyers’ block capitals next to the ‘three’.
“Keep on like this and you’ll have the whole schema in no time,” I said, draining the last of my coffee. “Mind you, that’s just the start, without emotions nothing will happen . . .”
She had seen me tap my watch. She folded the napkin diagram back into her pocket. I was proud of the reverence with which she did so. Then, she stood, slipped into her raincoat, and took hold of the handles of the expensive black leather bags, preparing to return to her weekday world; a city-centric world I had retired from, not long ago, to help people understand the ennea-thingy and other, related topics.
“It’s a signpost, don’t forget . . .” I said.
Her eyes were like small fires in their intensity.
“I know, but now that I have a start point, what does it point to?”
There was only time for the simplest of responses.
“To the place where ‘lying’ came from, of course; like a journey taken in reverse . . .”
I watched her wrestle to remember every nuance of my answer. She wasn’t trying to figure it out – not yet – there would be time for that on the train to London, it was the exactness of the memory that she sought, now.
“And the truth of the whole of the ennea-thingy?” She hadn’t forgotten. It was what made her such a delight to work with.
“The truth of it is that the ennea-thingy is really a Truth Machine.”
I waved and watched her carry it with her as she swept out into the wet March morning.
Through the briefly open door, I could see that the sun was trying its best to warm the dark waves of Morecambe Bay.
Nine Deady Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.
All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.
Contact details and an outline description are on the other pages of this blog and via the website at www.thesilenteye.co.uk