I see baby’s face. I swear he looked straight at me and.........Dan is my baby?? This is insane and I have to get out of here with him. How? I swear he looks pissed as hell.
Short while later, as the Rabbi and men start to leave, the man who kissed me pressed two pieces of paper tightly inside my hand, which I shove into my pocket. I’ve learned a lot in 8 days. Secrecy is everything in this place. And friends. Good friends who do what ever is necessary together to survive. After everyone is asleep, I pull the papers out and read them. A dozen times, two dozen times. This will never work. This is Auschwitz December 1942, and no one has ever escaped Auschwitz. But what other options are there? I can’t hide him forever.
Early the next morning, still dark, I feed him everything my emaciated breasts hold, put him inside the sling, and dress. Report to the women’s gate, hunched over, stomping my feet against the cold. Hope his full belly soothes him long enough to get outside. I hand the guard the stolen work pass, and he passes me through. I wait nervously.
Soon I see them. The man who had kissed me, is in a stolen SS uniform with weapon. Three other prisoners are walking next to a crude cart full of corpses. I quietly join the procession. When all tower guards are focused else where, the husband quickly gets me into the cart, under the dead bodies. I puke what little is in my own belly. I hear more guards approaching and I am praying that this will work. The note told me what to expect. I guard my precious cargo with my own body and bite the collar of my coat, in case. The guards at the main gates began to shove their bayonets through the corpses, to prevent anyone from hiding inside. I feel one graze my shoulder, and bite hard into the nasty wool, stifling any sound I might make.
I feel the cart begin to roll slowly, the prisoners taking their steps slowly as always. The cart creaks with its load. How long under the corpses I don’t know. But Dan is crying now. Finally, the others pull me out. We’re on a path in deep woods. I see it - our mist - the luminescence of our mist and run for it. The mist rushes forward to consume us.
April 6th, 2003, 04:30 PM
I'm awake this time into the mist. I am there to watch the shimmering and the changes. I am there to watch Gabe the woman, the most awesome woman I've known, disappear into the male body. I can see that I am a woman again but I don't care.
What I want to do is hold Gabe. I throw my arms around him and squeeze with the all the power in me to let his shaking subside, to let his tears subside, to let him know we are safe. To whisper into his ear: "Thanks, mommy!"
Then to grab his hand get out of the mist. We need to talk. We need to plan. We need to get a grip on this damned mist.
We come out on a beautiful little street, open air restaurants, great trees spreading leaf and limb over the thoroughfare. It's warm but not cloying. People, lots of people, moving up and down the thoroughfare, People on bicycles, tandems, off in the distance motorbikes.
Bi-lingual signs, some tri-lingual, announce the names of these places, their specialties.
The women wear an outift that has the potential to be the most modest sensual attire the world has ever seen. I don't remember the English spelling, just that we called them Ow Dai and pronounced it as if truly meant how to die. I'm wearing one and the rest of me is what you would call petite. Nothing too much anywhere but everything perfectly proportioned where it is. And the hair is long, silky and black, and down to my butt. I sure hope I look as good as I feel.
April 6th, 2003, 07:16 PM
Vietnam! A country I hoped never to see again in my lifetime. I look over at the person next to me and see an exquisite woman but is it Dannie? She looks at me and smiles and says “Hi Handsome, seen any mist around?” and I start laughing. It’s Dan!
I look down and quickly discover I look as Vietnamese as she does. “We need to talk about the mist.” I said. “And soon!” She nods and we go to the nearest outdoor cafe and take seats. No one is nearby. I immediately started in. “I can detect a slight difference in the appearance of it. Can you?” She thinks and nods no. It hadn’t occurred to her...him...whatever. “And I think our going left or right and stepping off paces might be a coincedence because the last 3 times I didn’t go either way and yet it still moved us.” Our green tea is delivered. I finish “But are we ever going to get home?”
Softly she says “Yes, when it is done with us.” I look at her and ask “But what is it doing to us, other than driving us both mad? Four months in a convent is not my idea of fun!” “Try having your foreskin hacked off!” she responds. And I laugh hard at the idea that a beautiful woman would so clearly know what it feels like.
April 6th, 2003, 07:36 PM
Uh, oh. Crowd building, parade coming down the street. Police yelling and moving people, herding them.
A half dozen monks lead the parade. They walk in line abreast, slowly, ceremonially, refusing to be rushed, refusing to slow. They know exactly where they are going, when they will get there, what they will do there. Has to be mid-60s.
"Gabe, I'll tell you my idea. What's about to happen fits into it but in a less obivous way. How many kinds of love are there, Gabe? I think that the mist is trying to show us the answer.
"The question isn't how many ways are there to have sex or to make love. The question is: how many kinds of love are there? The Chinese talked about in terms of filial relationships but it's the same question. How many kinds are there?"
Gabe listens to me while he watches the monks.
"Is this what I think it is?" he asks, barely containing the shudder of revulsion that passes through him.
"A protest march? Yes, it is."
"What kind of love is that?"
"Thought about that over 40 years, Gabe. The Greeks have this word 'agape'. Means love for mankind or something close to that. Been since my junior year in high school that I studied Greek so don't hold me to it.
Maslow had his heirarchy and at the top of the heirarchy is Self Actualization. It's all kind of related.
"These guys are about to protest the evil in the current government. They so thoroughly believe that this evil exists that one of them is about to do the unthinkable. I don't want to watch this, Gabe. It's horrible. It's ugly. Yet, it has a horrible, horrible truth to it. Doesn't the bible say "greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." He believes that what he will do can make a difference for his friends."
"So, we don't need to watch. We got the message. We can go back to the mist."
I stand and ask for his hand. He's still watching the parade but he gets up to go with me. See, I told you there's hope for this one.
April 6th, 2003, 08:08 PM
I place my small male hand in her even tinier hand and let her pull me away, but I keep turning to look. Someone who is willing to suffer immolation is someone who has a whole lot more courage than I do. But she pulls me and we walk faster, hand in hand.
"I want to make love to you again." I said almost shyly. It has been months since we last made love on the beach in the Florida Keys. She smiled so I knew I would get to.
"You're saying the mist has been trying to teach us about different kinds of love in different kinds of relationships. Right?" I asked apologetic for my denseness.
"Yes." Dan/Dannie answers. "I think so."
"But when we were confronted by the Nazi tanks and RAF bombers, what was it teaching us there? Or when we were Catholic cardinals, or at Kent State." I ask more strongly. Still not getting it.
April 6th, 2003, 08:22 PM
Gabe wants to make love! Let's just contemplate that for an hour or ten. Wow. They really do pop up, don't they? You really do need a fire extinguisher, don't you?
Oh, yeah, he asked me a question.
"The Mist put us under stress so we could understand that we cared what happened to each other. I didn't want you dying on me but it took me a while to figure out that it was more than camaraderie but that, too, is a kind of love. A guy saves your life, you feel close to that guy, want to return the compliment.
Those cardinals? They, too, have a kind of love. It can be distorted by power, by church politics, by bad apples, but the best of the best care; the best of the best want things better, believe the world can be better - just like these Bhuddist monks.
When you get past the rules, religion is about love.
Maybe, all the kinds of love are about how far, how able you are to get out of yourself, to find someone else worth dying for.
We found that a lot, every relationship the mist built, we found another person worth dying for.
Now. let's get back to the part where you want to make love.
April 7th, 2003, 12:59 AM
As we walk through the streets, I keep thinking “She is a respectable Vietnamese girl. I can’t just check us in to some inn or hotel.” I look at Dannie and know that I have to make love to her one more time. I have the most awful feeling that it will be the last time for us. But then my conscience bubbles up. “What if we are really in other people’s existence? Our actions could hurt these two people and cause shame to their families” I am torn over what to do. She keeps looking at me with those eyes, and I can feel the lust burning inside me. There is one possible place. I guide her to the large park, so filled with lush vegetation that people can get lost. It seems filled with mist and I hesitate. But I search and don’t see our luminescent mist. So I guide us to the most remote spot, which I recall from my own time in Vietnam. Luckily the warm foggy mists and the thick vegetation can hide a multitude of things.
I take off my large baggy shirt and spread it across the grass. Then look at her. I lightly caress my fingertips through hers, and up her arms, paying attention to all those secret sensual places - the palms, the inner elbow, the tips of the shoulders, and all around the base of her neck. I softly cup her face and as I stare into her eyes, I realize I want to make love with deliberate slowness, savoring each moment, searing the beauty and joy into my mind and hers like a brand. Her hands are more urgent, but trembling. I think she knows it too. We’re never going to be together like this again.
She suddenly kisses me, her hands stroking me to a greater need. And my lust has to be controlled. Then she moves slightly away from me, slowly unfastens her Ow Dai, letting it slip from her body. It is a feast to witness and enjoy. I lay her down on my shirt, and I feel my pulse hammering through my entire body. I lie next to her, touching and caressing and she does the same to me. Her breasts are like sweet peaches with nipples as hard as pebbles. And I am beyond the point of retreat. Blood is roaring through me as I settle over her gently and we become one again.
Our passion takes over quickly, driving us and I look into her eyes between kisses. I see a wisdom there. It's like she finally knows what it truly means to be a woman. I hesitate, slowing but her body is pulsing as rapidly as mine. She pulls me deeper and I realize this is the first time I truly understand what it is to be a man. This is beyond lovemaking or sex, beyond physical pleasure. Dan and I have melded into one. I feel her body clenching and my own release comes with hers, hot and exquisite and somehow purifying.
I want the mist to give us a lifetime together. I can’t settle for anything less. I won’t settle for anything less!
April 7th, 2003, 07:53 AM
The male in me has a hundred little things to say, to observe. The female in me says, "shut up, stupid. It was what it was and never in your life has it been so beautiful, meant so much. Accept things as they are."
We cannot spend the night. The risk of discovery too great. In this climate, the risk of discovery by nibbling things is certain. At long last, we dress. He takes me in his arms for a final kiss.
"I don't want this to end." I say and Gabe knows I am talking about the two of us and happily ever after. He smiles down at me. "Neither do I," he says.
The mist is there, ready for us, and Cameroon is waiting.
So, we stroll back in. No running, dodging bullets, needing healing. Just committed folk headed for home and the work to be done.
He thinks he has such small hands but mine is buried in his and may never find its way out.
The mist swirls; we go shimmery, and the tension begins to build. This is it, I know. This time we're going to back where we started and this time could be the last.
The changes have made us almost equal height; almost equal build, appear to be male, can't tell for certain with the shimmers. I grab Gabe one final time. One final embrace, one final kiss.
"I was wrong, Gabe. It isn't finding someone worth dying for. It's finding someone you would give your life to see live. It may cost you your life, but they are so important to you' it doesn't matter.
Live a long life, Gabe. Promise me you'll live a long life."
Off we go.
April 7th, 2003, 12:22 PM
As the mist lifts, I see my beautiful tranquil refugee camp and I smile. Whitewashed small buildings snuggled into the thick foliage of my mountain top. But then I look at Dan and we are back into almost our “old” selves and I am royally pissed! The mist has a sick sense of humor. Dan is early to mid 30’s and I, well, it appears I am the old Gabriel again. 64 and feeling every year of it, perhaps more so than ever! Both of us have such disappointed looks but no time to dwell. Cold nuzzles of weapons are suddenly pushed against the backs of our necks. “Whoa, mates. Laced fingers behind your head. You know the routine!” says the thick accented Morgan. I quickly give our code phrase we use (yes we are the Bruce Willis types for sure). Dan laughs out loud at our foolishness. But the weapons withdraw and Morgan grabs me in a bear hug when I turn to face him. “Wondered where you were, mate.”
After quickly introducing Dan, we all quickly head for the compound. When I ask the status of everything, Morgan precisely tells me. “Me and the boys, well we’ve pulled in all debts owed on this one, Gabe! We’ve gotten two helicopters out of here, all the healthier children first, along with some nurses and nuns with each of them. We got two more helicopters inbound, ETA 5 minutes. Another load out of here, leaving just the 8 terminally ill kids. We can get the rest of the nuns and nurses, and the docs out of here on the last chopper, ETA 30 minutes.” We’ve arrived in my makeshift office and he has our topography map laid out. But my concern is those late 8 kids. “And what about those 8 kids, Morgan?” He looks at me with the serious look. In the past, he and I have played God, determining what is acceptable loss, that he has done it again. “They’re terminal Gabe! They won’t survive the trip for damned sure. Doc is going to euthanize them right before he leaves.” “NO!” I snap.
Morgan is livid. He’s not a bad guy. He and I have always been practical about life and death, and cutting losses. While Morgan has a tantrum, I hand Dan the earpiece like the ones we all are wearing so he can hear all the chatter among the guys. “My Guys” as I call them. They are my mercenaries - mine and Morgan’s. Hand selected and been with us since 1995. They are all partners in this hospital as well. Give it money, and to maintain their own humanity, even volunteer days during the month to spend with the kids. I knew they wouldn’t let me down. I tune in only long enough to hear Morgan snap “Mate, you’re gonna be the death of me. Okay, we fly the last 8 out.” I smile and say “If they die, and most will, they’ll die surround by people they know won’t hurt them.” I turn to leave the office, to go check on the remaining kids, and Dan steps up to Morgan and says “Show me the plan.”
April 7th, 2003, 03:27 PM
First we have to exchange business cards, where have I been, what do I know, what don't I know, how much help can I be. Like a first meeting with the Hosiden Engineering.
Get past the amenities to hear Morgan recite a max of 300 but more probably 250 guys heading our way. We got 30.
They probably have one T-2 but could have 2 or more. We got three M-72 LAWs.
We got 3 M-60s; they got more.
We have no air support; neither do they.
We want to save the childrens' lives; they don't care. This is all about Gabe; the leader of their troop wants Gabe in the worst way possible. All Morgan will say is "it doesn't pay to kill general's sons." If I want to know more, Morgan figures I should go ask Gabe.
Morgan wants the tanks first. Put the three LAW teams way out front, 200 meters in front of our line. Spread apart and staggered. First team takes on the lead tank, then scoots to the rear.
Second team, sitting 50 meters behind the first, takes on the 2d tank, if it's there, then scoots to the rear. Third team, another 50 meters behind the second, takes on the godawful 3d tank if it's there which we damn sure hope it isn't. Then it scoots.
Less than three tanks, we got redundancy. More than 3 tanks, we got a problem.
We got 20 some claymores which we use to channel movement, keep them from spreading to flank us. Means we got to see what they're likely to do and then go plant some surprises.
Mostly this is an ambush. Mostly. Except they probably figure we're here so surprise will be if they are surprised.
Lots of work, some of it done. Claymores are in position. Troops are pretty much in position except for those loading the evac choppers.
Let's get the kids out of here.