There once was a route that only monks could pass. It belonged to a sacred pilgrimage that initiates took to cleanse their souls of the karma from previous lives. For three-hundred miles, a monk traverses alone through sheer cliffs and narrow crevices until reaching a shrine atop a mountain. Each day, he or she burns off an article of their clothing as to release an attachment to their life. Those without the proper discipline and resolve do not complete the journey and succumb to the elements.
Legends tell of the monkey king who had once made this very trip in a bet against the Buddha. Stripped bare of his immense strength and disguised as a monk, the monkey king quickly realized that he was in no condition to finish the task. Using magic, he plucked a single hair out to make a clone fully attired and expendable. The Buddha who saw the deception transformed the clone back into a hair and hid it up the deceiver’s nose during the night. When morning broke, the monkey king attempted the same trick but without success. Realizing the ruse was up, he continued the journey with sheer willpower until by the end atop the cold mountain, all his fur was plucked gone. After the Buddha had restored his powers, the discarded fur subsequently transformed into wild monkeys that now watch the pass for cheaters.
I long for the sea in a bygone time,
but arid sands now cover my lands.
Who’d thought that spirits don’t die,
waiting for bells to sound last knells.
Yet hope remains among liminal currents,
two strangers dream of beautiful expanses.
So I coil my arms around wishes and desire,
nudge them together and watch with eager.
Mathew: The folks who manage the Belvedere have a saying that there’re two types of people who stay here. Stray cats, and lost dogs.
Joseline: Oh is that so. Why not a third like a homely Kangaroo?
Mathew: Hear me out.
Mathew: The stray cats are a flighty bunch who can’t settle in any one place for long. Their daemon is an ever-rising tide that follows them. Boredom is the trigger but I believe it to be dread. What’s on the other side of the tide, they refuse to see much less willing to dip their paws into. And so, they must keep scurrying from one ledge to the next till none remain.
Joseline: Ha! must be why existential cat loathes the tub. But how do they end up at the Belvedere then?
Mathew: Well that is because of the lost dogs.
Joseline: Let me guess, orphans who are looking for a home?
Mathew: Yes in a way but more sad. Lost dogs are sniffing for a master that they have never known. It’s an instinct that should have never evolved had they stayed wolves instead of submitting to the other. Because of this, they carry an aura of loneliness of the most repellant sort and will follow the slightest affection to the ends of the Earth.
Joseline: Is Belvedere at the ends of the Earth?
Mathew: Almost. When stray cats and lost dogs meet, a terrible misunderstanding happens. The former confuses attention for a perch. The latter mistakes charm for love. The Belvedere is the prison from which the cats can’t leave and the dogs can’t enter. It is hell on Earth!
Joseline: Who are you?
Mathew: Why the exterminator of course. How else to keep the numbers down?
Seth received careful instructions for the wedding. A cornucopia of balloons, draperies, and fans would spring from the building’s façade. Explosions of color, fruits, and music would fill the venue. A pink convertible will take the newly weds away into the sunset. The promised day came but the bride and groom were no shows. Seth called all the family members, friends, attendees as to their whereabouts but nothing turned up. Frantic, he checked their social media, but no updates had been made. The following day, he received a text message from the would be couple. Both the bride and groom developed cold feet and fled the state. Chance found the two at the very same casino in Vegas after a night of heavy drinking. Swords were drawn and venom spewed but by early morning, the pair found themselves happily married outside a gaudy chapel.