Posted: November 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

“Suppose that there were two magic rings that allowed a man to become invisible, and a just man put on one of them and an unjust man the other … No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a god among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point …  If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another’s, he would be thought by the on-lookers to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another’s faces …”

THE RING OF GYGES / From Plato’s Republic Book 2

 “If a man is cultured to the core, so what of his indiscretions.”

Lady Martha of Pepperdine 1768

The quaint township of Summerset was nestled in a quiet bungalow of trees 60 miles from the St. Martin City Center. Summerset was a rare jewel in the fast-paced modern world, its streets lined with trees and beautiful homes with neatly trimmed yards. Summerset was big enough to capture the metropolitan buzz of a big city, but small enough that everyone felt a sense of close-knit kinship. Every day the citizens of Summerset kindly nodded to each other as they shopped at the local grocery store, knowing full well that whatever the worries of the world, Summerset’s magic cover kept them protected from the harsh intrusion of poverty and crime.

Summerset was indeed a rich alcove. It harbored wealthy brokers, lawyers and digital entrepreneurs that won the lottery in the IPO game of capitalism. The township was all new money and gloried in the fact that everyone who earned their keep there was due to their tenacious work ethic, their belief in high-risk high-return business values and the spirit of rugged individualism, albeit with a glass of cool Napa Valley chardonnay in their hands.

The city’s founding fathers made sure to restrict franchise progress in any way. There was not one MacDonald’s, Jack In the Box, WalMart, Subway, 7-Eleven, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, or any other chain in the whole town. Every business independently owned and there were no exceptions. That doesn’t mean Summerset citizens wouldn’t take a short jaunt to Valdez Park for a day of shopping to stock up on Price Club bargains or stop at Bed, Bath & Beyond in Huntington for a new set of silk sheets. The fact of the matter was that Summerset citizens felt the need to keep their space enclosed from the traps of mass marketing mentality. They felt serenity in keeping the mundane at arm’s length.

Indeed, the topping on cake was Summerset’s fine culture. Culture was one of the top ranking rest and relaxation pastimes for the citizens of Summerset. The Summerset Art Gallery, the Summerset Theater Group, the Summerset Museum of Fine Art, and its annual Summerset Independent Film Festival were the heartbeat of the township. It was a joy to live in Summerset’s cultural coated lining of contemporary living. It made one feel a cut above the rest of the mundane world.

The music of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was blaring out of Harrison’s speakers as he walked around his North Side condominium conducting an invisible orchestra with a glass of Sequoia Grove Cabernet swishing in the air. Harrison loved Baroque music and for him it was the perfect expression of a perfect world. For Harrison, Baroque gave order to the universe. It was playful in its exploration of melodic lines and harmonic progressions resting on bass line variations. He would listen to Vivaldi, Corelli, Purcell, Scarlatti, Bononcini, Handel and Bach for endless hours, caught up in a dream world of perfection and blissful harmony. The music completely fulfilled the joys of his heart and mind in a special and unique way.

Aside from his love of Baroque, Harrison especially loved his small town. He was a model citizen representing the cultural tastes of Summerset. He collected fine art from the local galleries, dined in the local four-star restaurants and knew each head chef by name as well as by their fine cuisine specialties. He loved classic literary legends such as Anton Chekov, Tolstoy and F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as consuming his fair share of random essays in the New Yorker.

All in all, Harrison was brightly educated, highly intelligent, and handsome in a mild sort of way. Yet there was one very peculiar trait that Harrison harbored since he could remember.  He had a way of blending into the scene, literally becoming invisible to everyone around him.  Wherever his visage loomed it was as if he was never there. Everyone that knew Harrison loved him and cherished his involvement. They just didn’t notice his “there-ness”, he completely disappeared into thin air.  Eleanor Rockwooden, the chairwoman of the esteemed Summerset Independent Film Festival, once described Harrison, paraphrasing the famous words of Gertrud Stein, in her infamous statement to the executive committee: “Honestly, dearies, there is no ‘there’ there in Harrison, but a charming fellow nonetheless!”

In fact, Harrison would go to a Summerset cultural event, an art opening, a fundraiser, have delightful conversations and upon leaving he seemed to vanish without imparting the slightest impression on anyone in the room. Harrison was naturally imperceptible with an indistinguishable personality. This had been a life long ordeal. When he was younger, his invisible demeanor bothered him. He wanted to be popular, have a dozen girlfriends and create a raucous in English class. Instead, he walked through the halls unseen, overlooked and silent. Even when acted up in class no one seemed to notice. Harrison began to grapple with his private trait, becoming nervous that he might go through life as an arrow soaring through air with no trace of his presence left in the wake. Harrison pondered on his personality quirk for years. Then suddenly, without notice, swooping down on his being like a panther lying in wait, he inadvertently discovered the benefits a vapor-esque personality might provide.

It was a cold, winter weekend when one of his old college roommates invited him to an exclusive party in the fashionable West Bank of the St. Ballantine Hills. Jonathan Delacroix, the nouveau rich, software entrepreneur and chairman of the St. Ballantine Chamber Music Council, hosted the party. It was a lavish and wonderful event. Harrison enjoyed the St. Ballantine Baroque Chamber Ensemble, discussed modern literature trends with a fabulous woman lawyer who flirted with Harrison until her husband butted in. Slightly disgruntled, he turned to the reception table filled with exotic food and began devouring the Portobello Puff Hors d’oeuvres. Nevertheless, after a few hours Harrison began to feel his invisibility kick-in and decided to take a self-guided tour of the Delacroix grand mansion. He went from room to room gasping at the lavish beauty, the exquisite architectural designs and the graceful furnishings of each room.

He inadvertently turned down a half-hidden hallway and found himself staring at a beautiful mahogany beveled glass door.  He couldn’t help but open the door and step inside into what seemed to be a hidden room master bedroom. As he looked around the lavish furnishings, he was captivated by a beautiful walnut burl wood Tabitha jewelry box sitting on the dresser. He nonchalantly opened it as a mountain of precious diamond jewels stared back at him. He looked over his shoulder and heard people talking and milling in the main hallway, but as usual, no one seemed to notice him. His eyes became mesmerized by the sparkling diamonds as he began picking them up and twirling them in his hand like a pirate fondling his booty inside of his buried treasure chest.  Without a squeak, he began inserting the precious jewels into his pocket guided by an invisible force that he couldn’t control. An electric rush sizzled through his body as he walked out of the room. He gulped down the remnants of his wine and walked out the front door and into his car. After a few miles he stopped at a red light, patted his head as his brain flew into animated overdrive.

After a few days passed, he called his friend anticipating a shriek at the loss of the jewels.  Nothing! Weeks passed and not a word. Months passed and still not one whisper of the theft. Harrison decided to take the jewelry to an out-of-state broker. To his utter amazement, he found the diamonds worth over $2,500,000. Harrison asked the broker if he would like to buy them. The broker looked over his glasses and said he could give him $250,000 on the spot. The deal was consummated on the spot, and it only took a few minutes time for the broker to huddle over his safe. Soon, Harrison was smiling as he held out his palm as the broker snapped a procession of $100 bills onto the glass case. The broker thanked Harrison for his business as the deal seamlessly finalized. As he drove down the winding road, Harrison realized he had just discovered his life calling and celebrated by lifting both hands into the air while reverently thanking the heavens for his natural gift of camouflage

Each morning, twice a week, Harrison filled an elegant leather briefcase with a bundle of old insurance forms and a blank notepad. He dressed in new, Valentino 3-button, single-breasted suits, always clean-shaven with his hair slicked back by a thick pomade. He would get into his car and drive to a suburb miles away from Summerset. Once he arrived at his destination, he would drive through the sleepy streets until he found a nook that met his specifications. He would get out of the car, grab his briefcase and began walking door-to-door.

He knocked on each door pretending to sell insurance. It was an excellent cover. Of course, he knew that when someone answered they would refuse his outlandish offer, so he would politely say thank you and walk away as if no offense was taken. His eyes darted from one end of the street to the other, from window to window scanning the terrain for lurking eyeballs. Then he would inevitably hit upon a house with no one answering the door and no peering eyes clinging to his movements. He waited for a few seconds, knocked a second and third time to make sure no one was home. Assured, he would slip on his gloves, open the door with one of his master keys and begin his search. His sole objective was expensive jewelry and expensive jewelry only.

Harrison never ransacked a home. In fact, it would be difficult for anyone who lived there to know they had been burglarized. Since the pieces were small and usually in a hidden place, it might take weeks, if ever, to realize something was missing. He never took obvious things such as DVD’s, TV’s, computers or anything that would sound an immediate alarm. Upon leaving he would gentle shut the door and walk away as if nothing happened.

Harrison was not a greedy man and would call it a day when his briefcase was amply filled just below the brim. Sometimes he worked for an hour or sometimes up to three hours to accomplish his task, never more.

Contented with his days’ work, Harrison would drive to the heart of the City’s financial district and park in the alley behind Alejandro’s Bar and Grill. Three martini executive lunches, experienced gold digger’s lying in wait to nab their prey and some of the greatest food in the city made Alejandro’s the most popular and exiting place to mix business with pleasure at noontide.  Alejandro was Harrison’s fence.

Upon Harrison’s arrival, Alejandro would usher him into his small office in the back. Once there the jewels ceremoniously poured onto the table. Alejandro pulled out his magnifying loupe and meticulously examined the cache with spurts of “oh’s and ah’s”. Harrison never disappointed when it came to high quality goods. Alejandro would open his safe, pull out a wad of 100’s and hand them to Harrison. There was rarely a disagreement between them. The exchange had occurred so many times over the years it had taken on overtones of a haloed religious ritual and any indiscretion viewed as a sacrilege.

After the exchange was completed, Alejandro would slap two shot glasses on the desk, pour a shot of the rare and expensive 1926 Macallan Blended Whiskey in each, both of them would toast and slurp the shot down in one gulp celebrating the ghost that created their mutual prosperity.

After his daily drop-off at Alejandro’s, Harrison would drive back home to Summerset with a Cheshiresmile and a need for rest. He would turn on his stereo, open a bottle of his finest wine, down a few glasses and let a slow droopy calm cascade over his body as he relished the liquid buzz in his head. He neatly hung-up his suit and put on kakis, a t-shirt and his well-worn sandals. As he rested serenely on his bed, his juiced-jittered nerves slapping slightly at his brain, he would feel a sense of accomplishment. He was a model citizen, invisible to the world, making a good living in a small upscale town, a supporter of the arts.

He lifted his glass and shouted, “Invisible I stand.”

He was soon asleep as the familiar cadence of Bach played in the background. It was no surprise that no one noticed.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Pato says “ Estampie – Münchner Ensemble Für Frühe Musik Radio; Anonymous 4; Gregorian Chant”—stay away from Baroque!

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