Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee, part 43 – The Point at the End of the Nose
I had seldom seen him him laugh so much, nor so good-naturedly.
The journey to ‘here’ had taken several weeks of thought, and I could – finally – see the care with which he had constructed it. On one level it was infuriating; on another–a much deeper one–I was tempted to say it was infinitely beautiful…
In response and some deference to this, I had spent ages with the makeup. A thin layer of jet-black, supplemented by a slightly opaque lacquer, topped off with a tiny starburst picked out in white pencil. Easy enough, you might think, but it took me four attempts and forty-five minutes to get it right.
It would have looked sensational, on, say… a balloon. On a barrister in a pin-stripe suit, walking hurriedly through the unusually busy streets of Morecambe on a wet Monday morning of the last working week before Christmas, it clearly didn’t. The five minute journey from the car park was a lesson in itself… As humans, we’re not very good with the unusual. We mistrust it… I don’t know whether it’s genetic or societal; but something in us is deeply afraid of that which is different… The end of my nose, for example, on that December day.
When I entered the cafe, he looked up. I think he had detected my change of mood at the end of last week’s meeting. His anxious glance to the door, as I entered, confirmed it. But his face lit up when he took in the visage of the madwoman before him.
“In honour of Rudolf for the colour-blind?” he asked, rocking with mirth in his old wooden chair, which was making ominous creaking noises – Rose was not known for the extravagance of her furniture budget.
“Whatever do you mean?” I asked, mustering innocence and pretending to ignore the curious faces of those around us. Several, for some reason, were regulars at this odd time of seaside day; and for a second which set me blushing, I could have sworn that literally everyone in the cafe was looking at me…
“Bit of a rush this morning, dearie?” asked Rose, as she brought my coffee. “Lend you a mirror if you like?”
I just smiled at her kindly, understanding her taunt and letting the moment unfold and unveil its potential. I suspected that they both knew that – and that Rose had moved from her customary protective stance to one that said, ‘okay then, darling… but, after this, you’re on your own…’
Aware that the ‘flow’ had unspoken power in it, John sipped his coffee and stared at me before speaking.
“So,” he said, softly. “As obvious as the black starburst on the end of your nose?” His composure weakened and he nearly spilt Rose’s carefully prepared latté. “I assume that this magnificent gesture, in the interests of mutual lunacy, is related to a certain Greek Doe?”
“What little gesture?” I retorted. I hadn’t finished with the opening, yet.
He nodded, saying nothing and feeling for the right entry into my mind. The Huntress called Alexandra was still hungry – very hungry.
“Are you saying that there’s something wrong with my appearance?” I asked.
“Not ‘wrong’ with your appearance…” he said. “…simply unusual – though very stylish…” he paused, looking for the right words. “…in its own way.” He was still rocking, though playing by my rules – which had become very important in my quest.
It was time to unveil the script. “I can’t see anything wrong with my nose, anyway?” I queried, looking him straight in the eye. That’s what had taken forty five bloody minutes to get exactly right – I literally couldn’t…
He leaned forward, suddenly conscious that there was a lot more to this than simply Christmas.
“No…” he said. “Of course – how clever!” he sat back and, in the face of my continued silence, I could tell he was thinking on another level about what I had done. “And there is, from your viewpoint, nothing at all unusual about what’s on the end of your nose – you literally can’t see it!”
And there was the heart of it, I thought… I wondered where he would chase the trail next – as Heracles had to, for a full year, while he pursued the elusive Doe…
He spoke in measured tones, “But I… being well intentioned towards you – as you know,” he raised his eyebrows for my confirmation. I gave him nothing. “might point out that I can see something very unusual at the end of your nose!”
“You mean you are aware of it?”
At that, he leaned back and signalled to Rose that we might need more coffee. She had been standing right behind me, and I would like to say that I could feel her grinning at the power-exchange in the dialogue; but that might be fanciful.
“That’s so very good…” he said. “Who knows?”
He had caught it… “Well, I know, that I have an end of nose…” The fresh coffee came, silently. My half drunk one was whisked away, with an intensity that was not hostile. “But, you are telling me that I don’t know all there is to know about it?”
“In the sense that a friendly fellow like me… or Rose might?,” he nodded to his compatriot in the land of the idiots, before continuing. Rose had re-taken her position behind me, it seemed, though I could see her less than I could see the black and white starburst on the end of my nose.
“Babies don’t know they have ends of noses,” I said. “They think the pinkness, glimpsed occasionally, belongs to the world. They don’t realise that it moves with them and not with that world…”
This was gathering pace, nicely, I thought. I continued, “So they have to become aware of their world first, and then they find, much later on, that the end of their nose projects into it but really belongs to them!”
He sat back, beaming at me. “So, we move from awareness, to knowing… to?”
The claws flexed quickly, out and poised. “Why…” I said, finishing my coffee and making him wait. I stood up to go and planted the customary kiss on his head. “… the end of ‘noing’, of course!”
When I had parked the car at Lancaster and taken my reserved seat on the train, I thought of them both – and their astonished faces as I left. I was still chuckling as the train left the urban landscape and emerged into the pale green of a Winter’s morning; but the claws had long retracted.
“Happy Christmas, uncle John,” I whispered; and then silently hugged Rose, too.
Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.
All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2016.