Final Residences – By Doug Ordunio

The blue jays were squawking like crazy; something was afoot.

She was new—he had only heard about her—no visual contact yet. The rules were: you couldn’t visit the personal space of another without an invitation. The notice on the bulletin board revealed the essentials—an address he recognized located on the far side of the hill, facing toward the morning sun. He lived in the valley below.

Her name was Mary; their meeting almost seemed pre-destined. Both were in the midst of a morning walk. Blond, exquisite, a looker! He plotted to intersect her path nearby. Eventually he was close enough to communicate without raising his voice.

“Aren’t you Mary? I’ve heard you arrived recently,” he spoke with an air of innocence he hoped would cause her to stop.

“A few weeks ago. And you are?” She pulled a rose from a nearby bush, casually waving it back and forth in the air. The rose was intensely odorous occupying all the air around her.

“John,” he said. “I’m the official greeter here. I would be happy to show you around if you want.”

“Thank you for your offer but I really must be going. Maybe some other time? We’ll see each other again.” Mary walked away rather quickly, leaving John to feel a bit abandoned. He didn’t see her for days. Yet, one morning there she was, casually sitting on the rock wall near his home.

“Hello, John,” she said in a low sexy voice. Happiness flowed through him. His eyes were drawn to stare at her mouth filled with her perfect and white teeth “Aren’t you going to invite me in?” she asked with an eyebrow curved seductively.

“Sure,” he said thinking the place might be a mess.

Yet he threw caution to the winds, and he stepped aside to allow her to go first. He said, “You know you can visit me any time.”

“Thanks,” Mary said. Her gaze was met by thousands of books, neatly shelved around the room. Her mouth was agape as she was totally taken by the sight of the endless volumes. She stared about with great curiosity. “My, you look like an avid reader.”

“Yes, always a bookworm,” he said. On the table lay a first edition copy of Hidden Faces by Salvador Dali.

“Dali,” she said. “Always liked his paintings. How’s the book?”

“It’s about a bunch of young decadents in Europe in the mid 1930s.”

“Sounds like I might like it. I’ve always been a bit…decadent myself,” she said inserting a calculated pause.

“You’re welcome to borrow it…as long as I can see you again,” he said. He searched her face for any expression of negativity. She looked rather coy, pretty and girlish, marked with a subtext of devilishness. Mary seemed so immaculate, so pristine, but she was currently absorbed in the book. She looked at him. The smile on her lips grew larger as she reached up to grasp his head.

It was a bit disarming. He did not know how long the kiss lasted: minutes, hours, days or weeks? When it was over, they sat looking at each other for an interminable period of time. John asked “Do you want me to walk you home?” She declined his offer. Once again, he felt abandoned.

About a week later he ventured outside, determined to find Mary. She was not far away. Actually, she was playing with the children where they usually gathered. Finally she spotted him and waved, excusing herself from the children’s game.

“That really takes me back,” she spoke to John as she neared him.

“I feel the same. I’ve seen them for months and I always notice how imaginative they are. Even in my younger days, I doubt I would have been able to keep up with them, but now…maybe I could.”

“Have any plans for today?”

“No. You?”

“Let’s do something you like,” she said.

“I sense you have an eye for art,” he said, trying to gauge the effect of his words. She nodded. “I know just the place,” he added.

They walked down the hill silently around to the front entrance of the Grand Mausoleum. He grabbed the heavy wrought-iron door and opened it. She stepped through and felt the sudden change in temperature. The air bore a sad odor. The stained glass windows though were exquisite and on many of them there were classic poems inscribed.

John took Mary to a dimly lit columbarium and pointed out one niche that was unlocked. He showed her the contents. There was a small box wrapped with twine, containing the effects of the deceased. The other object was a small sheet metal box whose lid had been secured with sealing wax; that box contained the remains of who was held inside.

When they finally exited it was late afternoon. Mary excused herself, telling John that she would see him soon.

Days passed and there was no Mary. Hope was not lost upon John. He knew that she was…somewhere.

When she saw him again it was early in the morning. She grasped his hand with the benevolence of an old friend. She finally admitted him to her home. He gasped as he noticed the marble pillars of varied colors that stood in a circle around the spacious hall of her home, the daylight reflecting off the gold-leaf ceiling.

There was a large circular bed draped in blue satin sheets. She lay down and he stared at her. She removed her dress and he discovered that she had no form. All he could see was that elegant face smiling. He dared to discover the truth so he doffed his own clothes. He too had no form that he could see. Mary said, “Come here.”

He positioned himself so he could look directly into her eyes, and she into his. As he beheld their voluminous green color, John was falling into the blackness within the center. It was an unknown space but he could feel the lovingness that projected from her . In an instant he could see all of her life’s experiences, feeling them flow through him in an oceanic tide. She said, “Now you are free, John, I have seen all of you and you have seen all of me. This is the feeling of being totally naked. Both of us are liberated from this physical prison—the nothingness and purity of existence. Perhaps those Indian yogis knew it as Samadhi, but we now have it for all eternity. It was up to me to bring you this gift.”

If he had an actual body at this moment he would have cried like a small child, eyes flooded; he knew that Mary felt identically. There was no need for marble pillars or countless volumes of books. John and Mary were now one.

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Doug Ordunio was born in Glendale, California in 1950. He is a former singer, composer, and arranger. He produced audio programs for the world’s commercial airlines for seventeen years. He is the author of a novel, RAILS, as well as two books of poetry, Murmurationis and Tangled Web.

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