Friday, January 27, 2017
David Russell writes
ZENOBIA [part IV]
For a large enough fish in a medium-sized pond, now was the time for Zenobia to branch out into the lakes and oceans. Wealth and entrepreneurial power were in her grasp. She rapidly brushed up on her economics and accountancy, and in the course of protracted surfing became expert at online transactions. A jackpot win on the National Lottery caused a quantum leap in her credit rating. She accumulated substantial funds, but then got carried away and invested in a high-risk option on which she lost.
Another substantial reverse in her life, but she retained youth and resilience to pick herself up from her fall. She must flirt with other high-risk areas. A kaleidoscope of speculative enterprises opened up before her. She entered the world of fashion, first as a model, then as a manageress. This time she kept financially afloat but began to get bored. She needed to confront, to taste power. Concomitant with this need was her anguish about Demelsa and Charmian. She felt in some strange way that she was bearing a Karmic load, had been responsible for their fates, and that for the sake of atonement to those two unfortunates she should put herself at a level of risk comparable to theirs to exonerate herself and, by curtailing some piece of warmongering, save the lives of a chunk of humanity.
Her fascination with uniforms took a new turn – from the purely diversionary to the functional. Zenobia plucked up the bravado to contact New Scotland Yard for an appropriate referral.
With a tingle of trepidation she negotiated the labyrinthine corridors to the interviewing room, The aquiline Commissioner Percival Fortescue was devastating – a pure synthesis of ice and fire. His gaze penetrated Zenobia’s psyche.
“Your mind is subtle but not unfathomable. I sense that there are deeper values in you – things that count for more than money. And that gives you the staying power we need.”
Zenobia nodded profusely.
“We are here to combat evil. We must get to understand it in full in order to destroy it.” What hypnotizing reveries flashed through Zenobia’s mind– being the saviour of humanity by filching State secrets and defusing cataclysmic explosive devices!
A surging impulse took over Zenobia. “Can I make a request?"
She fumbled for words. “I realize that firearms may be used on occasion. I am good at marksmanship and archery but could do with a little extra to clinch my confidence.” Percival beamed comprehension.
“I feel deliciously sexy when I’m wearing a gun at my waist and my hip; it’s hotter than any set of suspenders. If I can accentuate that feeling, I’ll gain such supreme control.”
“You’ve taken the words out of my mouth. Let’s enact this. Courage and pleasure are in no way opposed.”
He took Zenobia by the hand and led her to a sumptuous apartment with an enormous full-length mirror. After a breathy French kiss of adequate duration, eyes harmonized with lips, and they almost chanted in unison, “Let’s dress up with our guns; we won’t load them, of course.”
The room had ample drawers full of outfits, on top of which were several revolvers in gunbelts. “Let’s get into our tropical combat gear for our Bermuda spy hunt” said Percival. He really shrank the image of Sean Connery to size.
They changed into shorts and tops, put on their gun belts and faced each other. Zenobia felt so charged by that metal glistening beside her. Percival’s heat was already at simmering point. They feasted their eyes on each other in the mirror, breathless for that implicit combat. Then she pulled her gun out of the holster and pointed it to Percival. “Put your hands up!” she said imperiously. Percival obeyed with a beaming smile. She took his gun and threw it on the bed. Then she put her gun back in its holster, and raised her arms. “We surrender to each other” she whispered. With quivering fingers they undid each other’s gun belts, then followed suit with tops and shorts. Their rising fires had overtopped the power of the two guns; the allure of their underwear and its removal made the final ignition; their radiant bodies overruled all destructive artifice. This was the true, deep combat of lust. A panorama of exotic locations, indoor and outdoor, flashed through Zenobia’s mind; she felt visually and sensually flooded by his cataclysmic power. But she was going to fulfill all his assignments to the letter and outdo him, outshine him, in the process.
Such a succession of intrepid exploits lay before her – infiltrating a Ministry to uncover a massive bribe, penetrating a terrorist organization to carry and neutralize a suicide bomb. Sometimes she had to play down her aura, cultivate a nondescript look to go unnoticed; this was achieved with difficulty. But concomitantly, to sustain her role as an undercover agent, a mass of contacts and a huge expense account gave her access to the most extravagant parties and receptions. She reveled in the slinkiest, most daring evening dresses, and felt a pang of regret that the suave men there were rather toned down and neutralized by their evening suits. Sometimes the waiters looked smarter. But in either case, there was plenty of food for thought, imagining getting them into and out of their attire.
The culmination of this activity took two forms. There was a lavish reception, filling up the main banqueting hall of the hotel, and spreading to its skyscraper roof, to give the guests a dazzling bird’s eye view of the city. In the midst of the happy, animated chatter, Zenobia heard a scream, and turned to see one young woman, auburn haired, slender, in a primrose yellow dress, go into a paroxysm, and sensed that she wanted to throw herself off the roof. It took all of Zenobia’s strength to drag her back, and she saw that she was a partial lookalike of Demelsa. After emitting a flood of tears, she looked into Zenobia’s eyes: “Bless you honey; I was about to throw myself overboard; life just seemed too much.”
“You’re safe with me – now; what’s your name, honey.
A twinge of recognition; Shakespeare had linked that name with Charmian.
It turned out that Iras had been betrayed by a crooked manager in relation to a recording contract and then, as the last straw, gone off with another woman. Zenobia managed to calm her down and get her a quiet job as a receptionist at the Health Centre.
It felt in a way that she had expiated the wrongs involved in Demelsa’s decease. After all, she had nudged Demelsa to risk the giddy heights of fame. Mountaineering, both literal and metaphorical, is always hazardous.
Ironically, when she was due for some leave after her strenuous efforts, she won a free voucher for a mountaineering holiday. From a distance, she could see the tiny dot of a figure scaling the massive, cragged slope, heading for the crisp ice-cap. As Zenobia came closer, the figure began to look vaguely familiar. Then overhead there was a rumble; rocks cracked, the figure started to fall. Zenobia braced herself for the rescue. Once again her strength prevailed. Then she looked into the other’s face. It was Charmian. The aggregate pain of years, and its resolution, was a benign tsunami.
“So it’s you; it had to be you.”
“So we meet again after all this time. I think we’re now quits. I hope all the pains are healed now.”
“I didn’t think you were going to recover.”
“Some people are most resilient than you think they are. It hurt me a lot that you didn’t keep in touch with me immediately after the accident; but I guess that’s all put right now. The Physio was pretty good too. I just had to get back into shape to match you, Zenobia – to have true survival, for you are my mirror image; our destinies are bonded and mutually reflective.”
They came to love each other, and set up a fitness centre together. There, from the staff, they each found a partner – Cedric for Charmian and Zebedee for Zenobia, both calm and laid back, with real long-term potential. They had burned life’s candle at both ends, and with those flames tempered their strength and endurance.
It would be a lovely idea to assemble all the various parties into a massive love in, where they would all know and appreciate each other in real depth, and be the healers of humanity – angels of peace reducing all firearms to ornaments of love, their explosions only hitting organic matter. Such thoughts, of course, could only be daydreams. She felt she was living on a precious island of safety; at any time some tsunami could overwhelm it.
This has been reconstructed from Zenobia’s diary, recorded telephone and text messages, emails and eyewitness reports. It is difficult to determine the ratio of fact and fabrication. She remains a missing person; but gives every impression of having a totally fulfilled life. All who have known her would eagerly welcome her reappearance.