Thursday, February 6, 2014


I sat there in the weak flickering glow from the fireplace studying the motionless apparition sitting across from me.... an almost opaque presence, but not quite. Tiny pinpoints of silvery light sparkled from within the spirit body. Was I afraid? Of course I was afraid. After what happened with the first one, what do you think?  I thought it was Johannon. Yet how could I be sure? Supernatural beings have an advantage. Look what Madam Shang did to Grigori Usipov. We see so much in this house. And since living with these 'people' I've learned to 'see' things. They walk the streets at night... shadowy figures disappearing in the shadows. You've seen them. But you pretend not to, especially when you're driving and can speed away.

The ghost said nothing. He didn't move. But I knew it was Johannon. I heard him in my mind, or rather I felt him. I knew what he knew. His eyes were open, but he didn't look at me. I whispered - Why are you here?..... He 'said' - I don't know. You promised the living souls who read this you'd show them ghosts. I heard that and so I am here.  Where is my charge?....... I knew he meant Tomas. I told him he was off somewhere with his consort, Sarah. Johannon seemed to accept that. I 'said' - Please, aren't you attached to 'Jonathon?'..... The ghost said - That's all I ever called him. The 'Tomas' part came after..... And then he was silent for a long time. but he never answered my question. I said - Please, sir, talk to me of your life..... I figured he'd like a more traditional, old world cadence. He knew what I was thinking. He felt it and he laughed. I didn't see, or hear his reaction. I just understood it. And then he began.

The presence 'said' - I was born in the fabled medina of Granada, in the four thousand, eight hundred, fourteenth year ordained by Our Lord. This age calls it '1054.' My father was a radanite, a long distance traveler, merchant and explorer. He'd been back and forth to Hind and The Tang Empire, what you call 'Cathay' twice. And this was two hundred years before the Trinitarian known as Marco Polo made his pilgrimage. Our home was the equal of any noble residence in the city. Indeed, my father and uncles were contemporaries of the ben Macabi (Jonathon's family). Life in Al Andalus was agreeable, not perfect, but (sigh) less brutal than almost any place in Christendom. Though there were certain cruel, petty, telling limitations. Jews and Christians could not bear arms, or even seek marshal training, though both communities did so in secret, yet against Muslim numbers such measures were pointless. We paid extra taxes, could not wear silk or furs, or for the most part, fill positions of authority over any but members of our own faith. Public religious celebrations were denied us. No bells. No horns. No trumpets. But we could live. Our children were educated. Our livestock unmolested..What more could one ask in such 'primitive' times?. Though in my twelfth mortal year all that changed.  He who ruled over us, the king, known as Badis al-Muzaffar, of a line originally from the Moroccan Shore, named a vizier, one Yusef ibn Naghrela. And that one was a Jew. Needless to say, others wanted that honor. For to be a vizier in Al Andalus was a great and honorable thing. 'The king before the king,' as some called it. And they who were against him spread tales. Were they true? Who knows? How often does anyone save ambassadors, brother rulers, generals, certain nobles or religious teachers come to know such people?

But on the thirtieth day of the month you call December, in the year you call '1066,' our enemy took his revenge. They say four thousand people died that day. They crucified ibn Naghrela . Grabbed him and martyred him right then and there. Was he a true Jew? Who knows? But if he prayed with any other group would they have killed them all? They shattered his wrist bones with black, iron spikes. Did the same to his ankles. And when he called out they smashed his face. Women were torn with razors. Children thrown head first into wells. Those rich in years had their heads twisted 'round til they died. Homes were burnt. Cattle killed. Horses killed. Asses killed. Parrots, felines, monkeys. I suppose the carp in the carp pools met the same fate too. All the pools I saw after were broken and dry, at least ours were.

Valuables they snatched. Slaves they stole. Some who survived were stolen and enslaved too. Do you think they cared? Do you think they asked questions?. But I don't know...I managed to live through it, I hid in the cellars. Oh, they ran down there too, but I escaped through a slews gate, a pipe used to drain the place during infrequent but damaging strong, fast, flooding, autumn rains. They saw me. They ran. One lunged, reaching into the pipe with foul, slippery, bloody hands. I kicked. He jabbed with a short, stout blade of a type mariners use to cut rope. I bore the scar til my mortal death fourteen years later

Some of our brethren had been called back by then..'Good news! We are not killing you NOW'.... The old story and maybe not so old. The Family ben Macabi were among the first to return. Agents kept the house running and even maintained some level of business. They were more or less unscathed, at least in body. I lived on the streets with a band of urchins. We begged, did odd jobs, looked for 'lost'bijou from amongst the trash heaps.... some of which were not so lost. A dangerous life.  I know not if the scripture based courts would have taken the hand of a youngster, although I did see one or two not much older than I so maimed. Look, to be honest, most Trinitarians would have killed us out of hand.  'Out of hand' either way (and I felt him chuckle)...

But one day I saw haulers delivering sealed crates to the back of the ben Macabi villa. I asked if I could help, maybe carry in some small boxes for a coin or two. The foreman liked my smile, so I did. After, I stayed behind, concealing myself in the dining room and when the family there assembled  after Eventide (sun down services) presented myself. I told them my name and how my late father was an associate. Some thought me an impostor, but one uncle, more pious and learned than most asked me to prove it. When I recited The Tenets of The Faith quickly and accurately, without pause or hesitation, they believed. I was taken in, though not as a ward, but as a servant. And I was grateful even for that. At least they gave me clean, new clothes and a plate of hot, stewed lamb.

Is that how you met Jonathon (also known as Tomas) - I asked....... The motionless apparition nodded. The only movement he made all night. But he could not tell me more, for the cold, light of dawn was upon us. And his form began to fade.....


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