***This site doesn’t seem to be too easy to navigate and that is especially the case with this tale split into seven parts. As a guide, if you want to easily navigate to the next chapter, simply click on the next link, which is visible at the very top of the post. I hope that helps.***
I knew this tale was going to be long because there was so much I wanted to say. Unlike The Boy Who Saw God, this story did not lend itself to being broken down into individual stories, so I have decided to keep it as 1 story and post each day as a separate post. In the same vein, I will post 1 day of the story per day for the next 7 days. Here then, is the the first day.
Day 1. The coincidences commence – As coincidências começam
It was late afternoon and Kris’ mood oscillated between red and black, both fighting for dominance as he paid off the yellow Fiat taxi. In contrast to the sheer excitement and knee trembling anticipation that had gripped him a scant hour or so before, anger and fury now burned and flowed like molten lava coursing through his being intermixed with a twisting, tenebrous torrent of grief. Shattered, he now found himself alone in O Cidade Maravilhosa – The Marvellous City – alone and without reason and motivation.
Kris had felt like a child the night before Christmas, but with his eagerness, exhilaration and impatience multiplied many times over as he boarded his flight at Vancouver airport for the almost twenty two hour flight to Rio de Janeiro that involved a two and three quarter hour stopover in Minneapolis and three and a half hour stopover in Atlanta. His maternal grandmother, had she been alive to see him, would have described him as having ants in his pants the way he fidgeted restlessly, unable to sit still for more than thirty consecutive seconds for the entire flight. After what had seemed an eternity, the captain finally announced that they would soon be touching down at Tom Jobim Airport, Rio de Janeiro. Kris squashed his nose against the small Perspex pane hoping to catch site of Rio’s famous natural landmarks as the sleek white tube burst through the cold, hazy grey clouds into glorious sunshine, reflecting the brilliant fire burning within his heart.
He had first met Tahlia while working part-time as a tour guide to supplement his scanty student stipend at Rocky Mountain Way Ski Company. She had come from Brazil to help take Brazilian tourists to the Rocky Mountains on skiing trips. Kris’ jaw dropped open when he first laid eyes on her and he felt like the proverbial cartoon character with his eyes popping out of his skull on stalks; she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Fortunately for Kris, she felt pretty much the same way about him and they had tasted the carnal delights of each other’s flesh on their very first night in Colorado together. She was unlike any other girl he had ever known. Not only was she stunningly beautiful with long, silky black hair, olive complexion, an enormous radiant smile filled with dazzlingly bright teeth and the largest, darkest eyes he had ever seen, she was also the most liberated woman he had ever known; totally and utterly free and unfettered with no inhibitions or limits, or, if she had limits, he had been unable to discover them. She was a creature of pure lust, completely insatiable with a sexual appetite unlike any other girl he had ever known. She would try and engage him in sex whenever the urge struck her no matter where they were, be it on the street, in a restaurant or even on a crowded bus where, on one occasion, when they had had the back seat to themselves, she had unzipped his fly and bent over and taken him deep into her hot, wet mouth. Lost in the sensual and erotic moment, Kris was suddenly jolted back to Earth as the bus driver slammed on the brakes, shouted back at them while glaring menacingly in the rear view mirror that he knew what they were doing and ordered them off the bus.
If Kris was honest, he had felt uncomfortable with Tahlia’s predilection for public performances at first as he had led a somewhat sheltered and conservative life and his idea of sex only included two active participants and no passive ones, but his overwhelming lust for her always triumphed over any reticence he may have felt. Soon though, he began to understand, and even enjoy the excitement and thrill of being caught that she not only loved, but thrived on. Once, while they were at the dinner table with his parents, she had stuck her hands down his pants and liberated his cock from his boxers. His heart raced. Blood not only flushed his face as he immediately sprang to life in Tahlia’s dry, hot hand. He could not believe it; he was receiving a hand job right under his parent’s nose! At the dinner table of all places! He had no idea how they would react if they caught them at it. Obviously, not very positively he was certain, and he really had no desire to find out, but he was trapped; he had nowhere to go and there was nothing he could do; he was putty in Tahlia’s hands. He struggled valiantly, manfully and successfully, judging by his parent’s lack of reaction, to maintain his composure and drink his soup in a mature and dignified manner until finally, inevitably, he could keep himself under control not a moment longer and squirted onto the underside of the table and the floor beneath and even onto his father’s brown leather moccasin slippers. His spoon clattered into the bowl in front of him as a grunt forced its way through his clenched lips. He collected up his napkin and coughed into it to try and cover it up and was sure he had managed to get away with it without his parents noticing. From that day forth, every time he visited his parents, his eyes would be automatically pulled to his father’s slippers and the evidence of that day would stare up at him accusingly. What Kris had been oblivious to, lost in the maelstrom of the two purest emotions of pleasure and fear, was the horrified micro glance that had passed between his parents as they slurped their soup, both stoically maintaining faces blank for the rest of the meal. What else could they have done? They hadn’t come down in the last shower, as his grandfather used to say. How blind and stupid did Kris really think they were?
The tyres screeched on the asphalt as the jet bumped to Earth and the engines screamed as the air brakes were applied and the speed fell drastically before it finally taxied slowly towards its berth. It all felt as if time was passing in slow motion to Kris who was up out of his seat before it had even come to a halt, the fasten seat belt sign still illuminated. A conscientious hostess unbuckled her seat belt and made her way over to Kris and asked him to return to his seat, completely oblivious to the irony of her words, but she might just as well have spoken Mandarin for all the notice he took of her. He was determined to be the first one off the plane and no one was going to keep him even one extra minute from his love.
Kris made his way to customs as if on autopilot and stared enviously at the customs gates for the Brazilians; they were virtually empty while the customs for the rest of the world, and that meant him, was a seething mass of people. As usual, Kris felt that he had chosen the wrong line, just like he felt in the supermarket, as the lines around him surged forward while he remained rooted the spot. It was like a horse race in slow motion with the lead constantly changing as he finally shuffled ahead until it was his turn and he was able to make his way to the baggage carousel to collect his bags.
Once he had hoisted his bags from the conveyor, Kris raced towards the exit and burst through, eyes scanning the sea of faces all anxiously waiting to greet their loved ones. And then his eyes fell upon her face! He dropped his bags and ran to her, scooping her up in his arms when he reached her and squeezed her tightly, mouth hungrily searching for hers. It was only when he finally put her down that Kris perceived there was trouble in paradise and the ecstatic smile fell from his face. She told him!
Kris had planned on staying with Tahlia, but that was clearly out of the question now so had been forced to make alternative arrangements. He could always have simply changed his ticket and returned to Vancouver in a day or two, and he was sorely tempted, but, despite being shattered by Tahlia’s confession, had decided to stay. Hotel prices in Rio were astronomical and there was no way he could afford to stay in one for a whole month – a relatively recently graduated biologist is paid little more than a burger flipper – so, after a quick search on the net at the airport, instead had opted for a budget priced hostel for the bulk of his stay.
With a sigh of resignation, he hitched his rucksack onto his back and pushed open the fire-engine red rusting gate, which creaked on its old unoiled hinges. The dark and dingy interior that greeted him reflected his own tenebrous mood.
The albergue was wedged between two high rise apartments and was forever denied the tender kiss of the sun’s radiant glow and, as a result, was dim and dank. Travellers, sporting a kaleidoscope of accents, milled around and mingled freely seemingly oblivious to the dinginess of their dwelling, but Kris had no interest in joining them, preferring instead to wallow in his own misery and pain.
The small dormitory to which he had been assigned housed three bunk beds positioned around the walls and a collection of redes – hammocks – strung across the middle of the room; the cramped conditions further compounded by an inconvenient column seemingly randomly positioned making ingress to all beds difficult.
Kris was alone in the room as he stretched out his six foot four frame on the bunk, the mattress rustling annoyingly as he did so, a consequence of being enshrouded in plastic to help protect the unsuspecting occupant against percevejos – bedbugs – and to protect the mattress from unexpected accidents from the itinerant occupants. His feet and lower legs, as always, protruded over one end as he lay there, thoughts of the traitorous Tahlia turning over and over in his tortured mind.
What if she hadn’t been goaded by the good old fashioned Catholic guilt that ran as deep in her as it runs in Brazilian culture, passed on from generation to generation as they emulated the role model that had been held up as the only acceptable face of moral virtue? He would probably be on fire right now, burning between her hot and willing thighs making up for those lost two months. But she had confessed! He knew! A snarl of anger drew his lips closer to his flaring nostrils. She had even had the effrontery to suggest that her confession didn’t have to change anything. The boiling vat of acid in his stomach belched a bubble that burned. How could her confession not change anything? It changed everything.
Is ignorance bliss? Oh, what a cruel and heartless bitch is knowledge.
After what could have been 5 minutes or one hour, he had no way to either tell nor even any interest in knowing being so absorbed in the depths of his darkness, his isolation disintegrated as the dorm door creaked open and he heard a disgustingly bright female voice call hi, obviously to him as he hadn’t heard anyone else come in.
Cracking open his eyes a little and cocking his head slightly in the direction of the intrusive sound, he found an effervescent blonde girl in her early twenties beaming at him; the last thing he wanted. Even with this filthy frame of mind, he could still see that she was tall, slim and attractive in a European way, as opposed to the fake and plastic American Barbie fashion that he so detested, but she may just have well looked like Hilary Clinton for all the impact she made on him.
“Hi,” he grunted back, with about as much enthusiasm as cold mustard.
“I’m Tanja,” she said introducing herself, either oblivious or else choosing to ignore his lacklustre reply.
At least she hadn’t stuck out her hand to try and take his as is the wont of many the modern female or, even worse, leant in to expect to receive and to give a kiss on the cheeks, as is the practice in latin countries, Brazil being no exception.
“Kris,” he mumbled without animation or enthusiasm.
“You’re not very talkative, are you?” she persisted, the bright cheerfulness not once leaving her face or her voice.
“Nope,” he replied solemnly, hoping a hole would just open up in the ground and swallow her, putting an end to her endless prattle.
“So, tell me, how you can be in this amazing city and not be stimulated by its incredible energy?”
He had been stimulated by it and frankly didn’t think he could survive any more. He sighed exaggeratedly. Was this girl completely immune to his curt rebuffs? Just hoping she would just go away and let him lick his wounds in peace and fester and wallow in his heartache, he raised himself up onto his haunches and told her exactly why he was not leaping out of the hammock to greet her.
Once his tormented tale of treachery was told, her face throughout making all the right moves to show her empathy, she moved in close and wrapped her arms around him and tried to give him a sympathetic hug, but he recoiled and stiffened, horrified by the prospect.
“Oh, you poor thing,” she said gently. “What a bitch! No wonder you’re so sad, but you’ll get over her, don’t you worry. Plenty more fish in the sea, as they say.”
Actually, having unburdened himself onto someone else had helped lift the sombre and sad veil of darkness from his soul a little and, even without him wanting it to, he soon found himself chatting quite easily and freely with her. He discovered that she was from Zagreb and, coincidentally, he had even once stayed in the very hostel that her parents owned and operated. The hostel, he recalled fondly, was situated slap bang next to a chocolate factory, which perfumed the air filling it with its sweet fragrance making it seem as if he was breathing pure chocolate whenever he arrived or left the hostel. That was quite a coincidence, he thought, but that was only just the beginning. They had both graduated in biology, and in the same year, and not only did they also share the same star sign – Pisces – Kris was stunned to discover that they also shared the very same birth date! Kris, however, was a year older and had enjoyed a gap year travelling the world before he had started college and this was Tanja’s first trip overseas, although she did say that she had occasionally strayed over the borders of her native land.
For the entire time the pair were chatting Kris’ mind was filled with a mental image of his ex-namorada. Now, this was perfectly understandable as it was only earlier that very day that she had so callously wrenched his heart out of his chest and reinserted it upside down and back to front and the wound was weeping still, but it was not an image of pain nor loss that was plaguing him, instead it was a memory of something funny that had happened. What was invading his consciousness, replaying repeatedly on a continuous loop, was a scene from when he and Tahlia were in Canada. On that day, Tahlia had stubbed her toe on the foot of the bed and had hopped around the bedroom, screaming in absolute agony. When he had asked her what was wrong, she had finally managed to tell him, once the pain had diminished somewhat, that she had hurted her foot fingers. His reaction was the antithesis of what she was expecting and was the worst possible he could have had – he had laughed out loud, all the while repeating the words hurted my foot fingers. Greeted with this reaction, she slapped him hard across the face and it was this image that was haunting him, constantly forcing its way to the forefront. Obviously, this was not something he could or would simply casually insert into his conversation with Tanja so had to keep forcing that comical image to the back burner where it simmered silently.
Tanja, spied a translucent lagartixa– gecko –, it’s organs almost visible, scuttling across the peeling paint on the ceiling and pointed it out to him, its bulbous toe pads keeping it in place like glue, and then brought the conversation to a close, informing him, much to his surprise, that she wasn’t actually staying in the hostel, merely storing her luggage there, and was in fact couch-surfing on the other side of the city and had to be leaving.
They exchanged phone numbers and promised to meet the next morning, agreeing to climb Cristo Redentor – Christ the Redeemer – the colossal statue of Christ that stood atop Corcovado with its arms stretched wide, embracing the rich and affluent in the southern zone of Rio, whilst giving the cold shoulder to and shunning those who lived in Rocinha, the largest favela in South America, and the majority of the rest of the favelas as well. The favelas, of which Rio de Janeiro was justly infamous, were great shanty towns that sprawled uncontrolled up the steep slopes of the mountains that, despite the incredible views, was less desirable real estate due to the access problems. Cristo Redentor was a shrewd move from the church; it ensured that the residents of Rio would see Cristo watching over their every move and remind them to be faithful to their vows! It also kept Cristo in their minds, reminding them of their sins, which kept them in the church and kept the cash rolling into the church coffers. Perhaps he also played a part in Tahlia’s need to confess. Although she was not a practicing Roman Catholic, far from it, Kris had read that Catholicism was deeply ingrained in Brazilian culture.
It didn’t occur to Kris until much later that night that Tanja’s appearance in the dorm, under the circumstances, was a little odd to say the least.
If she was staying somewhere else, why had she come into his dorm to chat? In her shoes, that would have been the last thing he would do.
Kris’ slumber was disturbed by the high pitched pinging of his mobile phone announcing an incoming message.
– Kris, we wont be doing much walking tomorrow, I hurted the fingers on my foot relly bad. See you tomorrow. –
He was stunned, his mouth hanging open like a laughing clown at the fair; he had only ever heard Tahlia use the expression foot fingers and she had explained that it was a literal translation from Portuguese. As he sent a sympathetic reply to her text message, he was still shaking his head in disbelief at the coincidence of him thinking of that one story while talking to her and then this. The fact that she had used the very expression that had been repeatedly rolling through his mind as they talked was beyond coincidence. In all honesty, he should not have been too surprised by this turn of events as he had been experiencing such things and much more ever since he could remember. In fact, his earliest memory was of he and his older brother out in the wilderness back home in Canada, climbing trees when his brother lost his footing and fell to the forest floor beneath, knocking the wind out of him, but leaving nothing injured except his pride. Kris had burst out laughing as his older brother gasped and flopped on the ground like a fish out of water, his face growing ever crimson by the second. He was laughing not because it was inherently funny, although it was to Kris, as his brother was a sadistic bastard and this was like subtle, sweet revenge, but because he had seen the exact same scene earlier that week in one of his dreams; the kind of dream that is so vivid that it doesn’t evaporate soon after waking like the early morning mist as so many of them do, but stays with you for days, weeks, or even for life. It was not that he had dreamt of something similar, it was the exact same scene: his brother dressed in a red jumper and blue jeans falling out of the exact same tree, lying flat on his back desperately fighting for his next breath. They often played in this area as their parents had deemed this to be the limit of where they could freely and safely roam, so he was very familiar with the vista, knew it like the back of his hand, but it wasn’t this familiarity that he had remembered, it was this exact scenario with his brother breathlessly trying to curse him and vowing vengeance, a threat that Kris couldn’t take seriously as he brother flopped so helplessly and hilariously on the forest floor. His brother, however, true to his word, did wreak his revenge upon him when he pushed him into an icy lake the following week when Kris was least expecting it. The Mafia say that revenge is a dish best served cold and his brother had indeed served it cold because a layer of ice had thinly crusted the lake’s surface.
It was not only that he dreamt about things before they happened with uncanny accuracy, but he also seemed to just know things which, according to modern science, he should have no way of knowing. The knowing was mostly silly little things, but occasionally there were things that changed his world, such as the one time when he was on a bus when he was fifteen and saw a really cute chick climbing aboard. He knew with absolute certainty that her name was Kate and as she walked up the aisle towards him he called a cheery greeting to her using that name. He could read by the reaction on her face and the words “how did you know?” he could lip read that he had hit the bull’s-eye. This meeting culminated in his first romantic relationship, which only ended when she and her family moved to Ontario two years later. Other times it was things of little value, such as knowing which team was going to win the hockey championship at the beginning of the season or knowing moments before they happened what specific play a team was going to make and what the outcome would be, describing them in minute detail to his sceptical friends. The number of sceptics in his social circle rapidly dwindled over the years until everyone accepted it and simply took it for granted.
He had no control over this knowing. It just came randomly and without warning, but when it did he was never wrong. If, however, he tried to make predictions without “knowing”, he would do no better than random chance would dictate. For example, trying to guess the suit of a playing card would yield a success rate of 25%, 1 in 4 or 1.95%, 1 in 52, for if he tried to guess individual cards, but there were other times when he was hit by the knowing and he would achieve a 100% success rate, correctly guessing card after card, but this knowing would never last for an entire deck.
Although his knowing and dreams didn’t normally involve world changing events, there was one dream which did presage an earth shattering event. In fact, in retrospect, it can be seen that, from that one event, the world as it had been known was forever changed and a new world order had been implemented.
A little over ten years ago, Kris had awoken from the most intense dream of his entire life; not a nightmare per se, but filled with horror nonetheless. His eyes snapped wide open as he awoke, his breath coming in short panic driven gasps, his heart hammering furiously, his body glazed in a sheen of cold sweat. Although a dream, his body had reacted as if he had actually lived the experience. He had felt every powerful emotion and subsequent physical effects of the chemical cocktail that his brain would have released into his nervous system had he experienced the same event in the waking world and indeed had released in his dream state. It was this experience that led him to later study dreams and dream psychology and to wonder whether he was actually living these powerful dreams somehow.
It was still dark and his parents still slept blissfully, relishing the last few precious hours of peace before their lives ceased to be their own and they became mercilessly trapped on the relentless treadmill of life for yet another day. Obviously, Kris was too hyped up to go back to sleep and just laid there in his cold, sweaty pyjamas, rerunning the dream on his internal projector. He knew that somewhere, sometime he would witness these events in the meat world, he just had no idea when and he was dying to talk to his parents about it.
His parents had seen a little of the coincidences that cropped up around Kris, but merely brushed them off as nothing more than that. Kris had never mentioned his precognitive dreams to them as a young child, merely considering it something everyone has, something “normal”. It was only when he casually mentioned one at school to his school friends that he discovered that he alone had them. After that, he kept them to himself; he didn’t want to be different to everyone else.
When his parents finally woke, he rushed out of bed to tell them, but became petulant when they both brushed it off as no more than a regular nightmare. Things turned ugly when he tried to insist that it was not just an ordinary nightmare. His mother snapped at him and told him she had far more important things to worry about; she had a very important meeting with a client that morning and she still hadn’t finished preparing her presentation.
As the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months and years, the dream slowly faded from his conscious mind until one September morning he got up for school to find his parents glued to the television set. It was not unusual for them to catch up on the news before leaving for work, but the TV was usually on by itself as they busied themselves with their morning rituals, but on that one September morning they sat transfixed. Kris’ eyes were drawn to the screen and his blood ran cold; his eyes widened in horror at the scene that greeted him. It was the self same image from his dream! Staring back at him was the white underbelly of a plane as it smashed into a skyscraper, exactly as he had seen months before. The perspective was exactly the same as in his dream, so much so that it seemed as if his dream eyes were the camera that recorded it. The scene changed, but that too was all too eerily familiar. The helicopter footage taking in the vista of the Hudson River and the New York skyline was also exactly as he had foreseen as was the subsequent collapse of the three steel girded sky scrapers!
As a result of his dreams, foreknowledge and coincidental occurrences, Kris had devoured everything he could read at the local library or find on the internet; he did whatever he could to try and understand a topic that just was not discussed seriously in the open. After almost twenty years of exploration he had finally admitted defeat, accepting that he would simply never know; everything would always be no more than a theory and any one theory had as much validity as another for him. Contrary to what arch skeptics, such as James Randi had to say on the subject, such phenomena, as experienced by Kris, were very real, however neither he nor anyone else could ever possibly win the $1,000,000 prize offered by Randi to someone who could prove the existence of ESP as Randi had rigged his game. How could Kris possibly prove it? He had no control over when the knowing would appear and, apart from some experimentation with lucid dreaming, had little control over his dreams.
As Kris grew and slowly became engulfed and consumed by the daily demands life placed upon him, these experiences gradually dwindled until they had stopped altogether about a year before, but now his cup was running over with coincidences again, but why? He didn’t accept that these coincidences were just random events colliding by way of nothing more than simple chance. What was his connection with Tanja? What did it mean? Was there a reason they had met? He didn’t know. Of course, he had read Jung and his theory of synchronicity, Koestler’s “The roots of Coincidence” and everything else he could lay his hands upon, but still he knew nothing. In fact, the older he got, ironically, the more he understood how little he really did know.