Lady and Red by Chris Green
Lady doesn’t like going up in the elevator to Red’s ninth floor apartment. It moves so slowly that sometimes it doesn’t seem to be moving at all. She is afraid that one day she will get stuck in it with a killer. Not that you often have to share the lift. Belvedere Heights, in contradiction to its name, is one of those modern blocks where living in the accommodation seems to be an afterthought. Red is possibly one of a handful of full-time residents. Lady understands that rents are prohibitively high. The chance of encountering an assailant is small. Security is tight. Belvedere Heights has a uniformed concierge who is there to vet unwanted visitors. The concierge is armed. And there are legions of CCTV cameras.
Belvedere Heights is not however designed with ostentation in mind. The discrete black and white interior of the building is lit by sunken wall lighting that changes colour with mood. You can view the different hues between floors as you go up in the elevator. The block is built for function. There are few features. It is minimalist, secretive. The casual observer could guess nothing of the people that might live there.
Lady sometimes wishes she did not have to visit Red. It can be a lonely experience. She gets so little back from her visits. It is as much as he can do to say hello. She will arrive at the apartment and let herself in. Red might be typing into his iMac, playing his tenor saxophone, or just gazing out the window. The view to the west is admittedly a fine one, taking in a sweeping panorama of the city with the skyline settling against blue hills in the distance. When silhouetted against the sunset, the twin peaks are heavenly. Red might be mixing up some oil paints, watching a European movie without subtitles, or stroking his white Persian cat. He might be gazing at the Picasso prints on the walls or feeding his parrots. Whichever, he doesn’t appear to see Lady’s arrival as an important interruption. He will just continue as if she weren’t there.
Lady and Red have been lovers. Are they still lovers, she wonders. Sometimes she supposes they are lovers, but if they are this is very much on Red’s terms. He hardly casts a glance in her direction. Yet they have a deep understanding. Necessarily so as they work closely together. Red though is a man of few words. He does not speak unless he has something important to say. Lady seldom gets to start a conversation. Their communication just does not work that way. Given her background, this dynamic might appear to outsiders as a little strange. Although she is not a Lady as such, she does come from a long line of mid-European aristocrats. Lady is a soubriquet to reflect her connections with nobility. She studied Philosophy at Cambridge, can speak nine languages and is a gifted painter. In addition in her mid-thirties, she is in her prime. She has wisdom and wit and dazzling beauty.
What is it then that draws her even through the winter months several times a week to drive across town and wait for a response from this man of mystery? Certainly, there is an allure. Red has mystique, poise, charisma even. But this is not the primary reason that Lady comes to visit. She needs to be there. Just in case there is an assignment. After all, they are a team.
She knows little of Red’s background. What you see is what you get. He is matter of fact but enigmatic, passionate but objective. But he can also be a ghostly presence. He can blend in, become one with his surroundings. Sometimes when he is playing an extended solo, he and the instrument become one. He becomes the saxophone. His physical form drifts off into space. He becomes invisible to the eye. The soft arpeggios of his improvisations are left hanging in the air like celestial smoke-rings. It is such a moment now. The silver saxophone is suspended in mid-air radiating the most sublime passage. Red is elsewhere, on his astral plane, intangible, quintesscent. Lady sits in the lotus position, silent, serene, mesmerised. Red is both the fool on the hill and the gypsy in her soul. For now, in this space, Lady is an acolyte of the transcendent spirit.
Yet, Lady is no flower child. That there are contradictions in everyone is something that is often overlooked and Lady is no exception. In another space, Lady may well have killed people with her bare hands. The world is like that. There are many paradoxes. The greater the achievement, the greater the divergence. Mozart may have been a mass murderer, Bin Laden a brilliant water-colourist.
The door entry phone buzzes. It is a hollow sound. Instantly the atmosphere in the room changes. Red is back down from the heavens. He speaks on the intercom and admits the caller. It is Black. Black has no interest in jazz. Black calls round to Belvedere Heights on business. His business has to do with adjustment, temporal and psychic adjustment. He has called to give them a mission. They will be required to stop something that has happened from happening. This is known as a correction.
Everything that happens is governed by the principles of cause and effect, action and reaction. Sometimes apparently inconsequential actions by ordinary people can set off a chain of events that results in catastrophe. It is important that the likes of Black and Red have the ability to intervene, otherwise, the world would have been blown to smithereens long ago. The undocumented presence of quantum gnostics like them is the force that ensures relative stability in a jumping universe. Their concern is not a political one, not about East and West, nor is it about right and wrong. It is purely about balance, to keep the world turning.
‘Stockholm,’ says Black. ‘Here are the tickets. They are for yesterday.’
Neither Red or Lady show surprise. They are accustomed to these impossible missions. To do what they do it is necessary to operate in the margins.
‘Understood,’ says Red.
‘Understood,’ echoes Lady.
‘Hemming Olofson mustn’t take that train to Malmo,’ says Black. ‘He will not then meet Marita Blom. They will not travel to Copenhagen together. They will not, therefore, discover the document that implicates his brother, Björn in the cover-up by the Danish lawyers over the ownership of the patent on ……. well you get the gist. And then finally Guatemala won’t then be destroyed by a plague of giant moths. And there won’t be a stand-off between the US and the Russians.’
‘Chains of events can be quite complex, can’t they?’ says Red. ‘We are on our way.’
The air crackles with the electricity of déjà vu. Two conversations are taking place simultaneously, one in the past and one in the present. The secret Red says is to stay focussed on both. They must coalesce. In between words, in between worlds, the air becomes turbulent as they tumble through space. They are buffeted this way and that in a whirling cyclone of uncertainty, like the Tower of Babel. Gradually Black’s presence fades. The job is over. Lady and Red are back to where they were.
‘I’m relieved that one is out of the way,’ says Lady. ‘These escapades can be so exhausting.’
‘It can be very strange,’ says Red. ‘But when you’ve seen through as many corrections as I have it will become second nature.’
‘I think Black was pleased,’ says Lady.
‘There aren’t too many people who can do what we do,’ says Red.
‘Is that a blessing or a curse?’ says Lady.
‘Nothing is ever straightforward,’ says Red. ‘Paradox is at the centre of everything.’
‘Red, I’ve been coming up here for a long time and for some while I’ve been meaning to ask you a question. I get a very strange sensation every time I come up in the elevator. It’s difficult to describe the feeling. On the one hand, it feels as if someone is watching and they might at any moment attack me. But on the other hand, it feels as if I’m not there anyway so how can I be being watched? What happens in the rest of the building?’
‘I’ll let you into a secret,’ says Red. ‘There is no rest of the building.’
‘But the lift and the corridors and the cameras?’
‘All an illusion.’
‘But the concierge with the gun. He says hello every time I come round.’
‘There is no concierge with a gun.’
‘But I do come up in the lift. And the lighting changes colour between floors?’
‘It’s all held in place by auto-suggestion and the subsequent belief that it is there.’
‘The space below?’
‘Ah! There is no space below as such. But would it help if I told you that the space you are referring to, the space where you imagine you are when you come into the building and come up in the elevator is the repository for curious matter?’ Red says, cryptically. With this said, he goes off to attend to his parrots.
Lady realises she now has an existential issue. She has always found Red’s information to be reliable and if he says that Belvedere Heights is nothing but an illusion then it is nothing but an illusion. But, therein lies the rub. If she stops believing in the substantial nature of Belvedere Heights, then she will not be able to get out. It occurs to her, not for the first time, that Red probably has not through normal channels left the building in years.
Lady goes into the hallway. The door through which she came, and more recently Black came, is no longer there. How is this possible? Whatever the explanation there must have been a way in. She has not always been here in this space. She has through belief or otherwise come and gone many times. Many many times. Nothing inside has changed. She goes into the westerly facing room. Red is still attending to the parrots. He has that look of detachment that she has become used to. He does not want a conversation. He feels he has said what he wanted to say and that is the end of the matter. Lady goes over to the window that looks out on to the city with the hills in the distance. The tall buildings and the blue hills look real enough, but might they too be an illusion to support the illusion of Belvedere Heights.
It takes Lady a while to get used to the idea of isolation. Rather than fight against it, she remembers learning long ago that the healthiest option in adverse circumstances like this is to go with the flow. Silence those voices that vex the spirit and nurture that peace that lies within the heart. This is a time for quiet contemplation. Besides, situations can change, in fact, in life change is the only certainty.
Red is of similar mind. This is after all his world. He is philosophical about his role. His wisdom and poise begins to captivate Lady once more. He reads her sonnets and teaches her to play the violin. They watch the colours change in the evening sky as the sun sets over the twin peaks. They make love to Debussy. It is in one such tender moment, they are disturbed by a new caller. The door is back. Across the threshold is Gold. If Gold comes to call at Belvedere Heights then the matter is serious. Gold on this occasion is accompanied by Silver. Silver has never been before.
‘Three days ago Curt Dodge, a thirty two year old hacker believed to be from the Detroit, Michigan area hacked into the servers of the global communications satellites network and planted what is known as a blended threat that within fourteen days will have completely brought down the entire global system. You will have noticed already that your phone can’t detect its location.’
‘GPS is unable to detect Belvedere Heights anyway,’ says Red.
‘Ah yes. Of course. I see,’ says Gold. ‘Anyway, the threat that Dodge has come up with acts in an entirely random way. But, here’s the killer. It also gathers up any virus, worm or trojan it encounters along the way and adds them to the blend to increase its potency. One by one the satellites have gone down. There appears to be no defence against the attack.’
‘There are, or there were thirty one operational satellites. To take out the entire network is no mean feat,’ says Silver.
‘Now, clearly the objective is to go back to last week and liquidate Dodge before he has done any of this,’ says Gold. ‘The problem is that without GPS we have no idea where he is.’
‘A tricky one,’ says Red.
‘How long do you think we have?’ asks Lady.
‘I’d say three days at the most to make the correction. After that the damage might be irreparable,’ says Gold. ‘Even the Russian military satellites are failing.’
‘We know the length of time before you make an adjustment should not make a difference to its ultimate effectiveness, once you have made the adjustment. But with the entire system of global communication crippled this might not be the case here,’ says Silver. ‘There might be no way back.’
‘OK. It’s down to our intuition then,’ says Red.
‘And good old fashioned occult powers,’ says Lady. ‘Witches broom and Abracadabra.’
I expect you have noticed that your satnavs and mobile phones have recovered from their momentary blip. You can assume from this that through the efforts of Lady and Red the correction was made. And until now you’ve not seen the name of Curt Dodge anywhere. These things just don’t get out into the public domain.
It would be difficult to describe how the job might have been done. Highlights could include mental projection, psychic navigation, invisibility, time travel, force field generation, teleportation, experimental jazz, and pranayama breathing. Planes? Guns? Maybe, maybe not. Illusion, willpower and luck will have played their part. And passion. Yes, passion is important. The operation would have been held together by imagination and belief, just like the things you see around you every day. Imagination and belief. Seeing is believing, but everyone sees things differently. Everyone constructs a different reality. No two are the same. Even should information about the exact techniques used here be available to governments, these would be classified. Better then that the secrets of their methods stay under wraps.
Make no mistake, your life will have been affected in some way by the corrections that quantum gnostics have made. Things don’t just run smoothly of their own accord and there’s no point in trusting politicians and government departments to get it right. Too much of their energy is invested in courting catastrophe. Just be thankful that there are hidden forces at work. That Lady and Red are there in the background refining their arcane skills.
If you are driving through the city you might be surprised at the circuitous route your satnav takes you on, but you might put this down to a poorly planned one-way system. If you are on foot, at a certain point you might begin to feel dizzy. You might wonder what The Fractal Centre is and why you cannot go there. Either way there will be no sign of Belvedere Heights.
© Chris Green 2015: All rights reserved