Joseph Trance

Reading Lesson

     Twenty minutes before my interview with Karen Lisner I was shuffling papers and going through ten years of articles that I’d published, read and re-read.   They were in neat folders in my briefcase and I fanned and scanned them trying to order them in my head before Karen and I had our conversation.  As I scanned, I placed them into two separate categories in my head: “ Impressive”  and “Not so much.”
 Our meeting was to be short, about 15 minutes and I needed to be succinct and organized.  I’d never met Karen, but her rep had preceded her; smart, discerning and somewhat judgmental.  She had a rep of just looking at  you and making snap decisions; “Good enough” or “Good-bye.”
      I closed the case, took another sip of my vanilla iced coffee and let my eyes wander over the café.  It was mostly empty and the overhead fans swept a silent breeze over the carved wood tables and chairs.  Rustic and simple;  a far cry from NY’s Windows on The World.  Yes.. this California café was more my speed.  Academia had taken its toll and I was ready for a far more simple existence. I did wonder though how I would transition from university teaching to becoming a reading tutor.
I took a breath, closed my eyes and centered myself.  Quiet.  Breathe.  Relax.  “Relax.”  I said out loud.
      “Good idea.”  The words jolted me and my eyes popped open.
She wasn’t what I expected; She was dressed in a white and yellow sun dress that showed off strong tanned legs.  She was young (mid twenties), blonde hair, piercing green eyes, about 5’9”.  She was slim and had an air about her that was “laughing confident.”    I got an easy-breezy sense of her and she smelled of orange soap.  I immediately tried to pull in my sagging stomach and square my shoulders.
I was stunned for a moment as she extended her hand.  “Karen,” she said and her smiled melted me.
           “Kevin” I said as I shook her hand.
She placed her thin black leather case on a chair as she sat down.  She sniffed.  “Mmm…vanilla.  My fave,” she said.
A waiter came over to us and she ordered the same.  I felt a need to be honest with her.
     “You’re not exactly what I expected.”  I said.
      “And what would that be?”  She asked as she pulled her chair in.  I took a chance.
      “Older.  Ugly and school marm-business like.”
“Oh…that.”    She said and laughed.   I guess my rep gives that type of impression.  “Oh..well,” she said and laughed a little girl laugh as her eye-brows raised.  “Sometimes reps can be deceiving.”
“So,” she said and nodded towards my briefcase.
“I brought my most recent publications.  Some good…others not so…”   I started to open up the case.
“Kevin,” She said.  “No need for all that.”

     She closed her eyes and extended her right hand, palm up over the case.  Her eye brows furrowed and I could see the movement of her eye balls beneath her lids.  It looked like she was having a dream and she was in REM state.  She moved her fingers like she was turning pages; thumb and forefinger came together and she did this palm scanning thing like she was speed reading.
“Hmmm..” She said.  She opened her eyes and reached for her tea. 
“Your theories on mental imaging are old school…fifties sci-fi… crap,”  she laughed as she waved at the air.
“But your mind-reading theories show some potential…” she sipped her tea.
      “Huh…”  I said as I pushed back my seat.  “Old school…” I looked at her and smiled.  I closed my eyes and read her last half hour.  I spoke it as it played out in my head.
“Half hour ago you were in your car, looking in your rear view and putting on lipstick.  You slid a comb through your hair, undid the top button to your blouse to appear not so business like. “
 I went deeper, “You thought to yourself, “dork or divine?”  when you thought about meeting me.
And your easy-breezy is a façade to relax your potentials into a false sense of security.”
I opened my eyes and stared into hers.  I took another sip of coffee.  She didn’t bat an eye.
      She closed her eyes again and put her right index finger to her lip.  Her forehead furrowed as she leaned into the table.  I felt her probe my long terms.
“When you were eight…there was a day of snow.  Lots of it.   Your…mom….was making lunch.  You sat at the dining room table with a box or crayolas and a coloring book…Sesame Street.  You watched mommy for a few minutes, went back to coloring.  When you finished you held up the book to show her but she was gone.  You panicked.  You got up from the table and went looking for her.  She wasn’t in the house.
Then you looked outside your kitchen window and saw her run past it.  You put on your blue- snow suit and yellow boots and ran outside.  And there she was…standing next to a big, beautiful Flexible Flyer Snow Sled.   It is a treasured memory.”
I swiped my eyes with a napkin and let it drop to the floor.  I inhaled and held my breath.
“When you were thirteen…his name was Bryan.  He was lean and you sweated every time he..”
“O.K.  fine,”  Karen said.  “You’re good enough.  Let’s talk contract.”  She reached for her leather case and began to open it.
“You can look over the paper and get back to…”
“No need for that, “ I said. I waved my hand over the closed case.  I closed my eyes and scanned.  “Mmmm…you’re going to have to come up on your benefits package,”  I said. 

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Das Mirakel von Köln von Bettina Szrama

Köln, 1625: Der erzbischöfliche Generalvikar rettet die fallsüchtige junge Christina vor einer Steinigung durch den Pöbel und bringt sie ins Kloster Santa Klara. Doch anstatt Sicherheit zu erfahren, wird Christina Zeugin von Teufelsaustreibungen, sittlichem Verfall und unaussprechlichen Verbrechen. Ihr gelingt die Flucht, doch sie gerät in ein Ränkespiel der Mächtigen, in dem sie alles verliert außer ihrem Leben. Sie beschließt, sich zu rächen indem sie sich selbst der Hexerei anklagt. Unter der Folter bezichtigt sie alle Hochgestellten Kölns, die ihr jemals begegneten. Und die Stadt beginnt vor ihr zu zittern.

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