Hermes Beckons: The Way That Can Be Imaged Is Not the Way
Chapter 7
© 2006 John Caris

Having completed his physical calisthenics, Ralph was now doing breathing exercises while looking out the bedroom window. From the corner of his eye he sensed something move. He glanced toward his left, but nothing was out of place. A shadow flickered across the landscape. He focused on the point where the movement had occurred on the hillside. Probably a car or bus was the cause. There . . . there it was again. He concentrated on the spot but saw nothing. The tree . . . the large tree at the corner was moving; not its branches blowing in the wind, the tree itself seemed to slide down the street. He automatically blinked. The tree was back where it had been. He was now feeling weird, and the eeriness increased as he again watched the tree glide down the street. He turned away and breathed deeply—then a second and third breath. He turned back to the window. The tree was where it originally had been, so obviously his vivid imagination was playing tricks on him.

He was still troubled when he came downstairs and went into the kitchen. Pouring a cup of coffee, he walked slowly into the dining room where Shasta was enjoying her breakfast of coffee and rye toast smeared with blueberry jam.

Looking at him, she noticed his distraught appearance. “Rough night? Bad dreams?”

“I’m feeling down, like wallowing in self-pity. I doubt if you want to hear about it.”

“I’ll wade in the shallow water with you, but I won’t go deep, not this morning, anyway.”

“I’m filled with qualms about the alchemical light show. When I visualize the plans so far, I’m encouraged, but I lack the enthusiasm or energy to continue, to get busy and make and gather the props. I get paralyzed.” He stared into space and then shook his head. His anxiety was evident.

“Try touching in with your inner feelings, dear. Perhaps you have doubts about your vision.”

“Yes, my vision, but more than that—me. I no longer know who I am or what I’m supposed to be doing here.”

“Do you want to change your career, then? Many people our age worry about what they’ve done with their lives. This is our mid-life crisis.”

“Are you having the same feelings?”

“I’ve wondered about my writing career and if I’d want to do something else for the future. I’ve seriously considered starting a new series with different characters as other popular writers have done. I’ve even had a fantasy about devoting more energy to my poetry. Perhaps publishing a chapbook.”

“I . . . I’m plain empty. Life seems hollow, nothing but meaningless routines. When I practice, I’m only going through the motions. No inspiration or desire to create wonder. I’m a magician in search of magic.”

“What’s happening in your dream life? You might find some help there.”

“The other night I had an eerie, mysterious dream. It’s late afternoon, the sun sinking toward the horizon, and I’m on a beach dancing to Greek syrtaki music performed on a bouzouki. It’s a dance of total abandon, a throwing away of my burdens and social incrustations. I’m nude and moving with carefree, effortless grace. Suddenly, a woman, also nude, joins me in the dance. We swing and sway as partners and finally blend into one another. The most peculiar part is that she’s my identical twin, a twin sister. Then the dream fades out, and I don’t remember anything more.”

“Amazing. A Zorba fantasy ending with your twin sister.”

“That film made a deep impression on me. It was very apropos of the 1960s.”

“The dream is a good sign, one that points toward psychic healing. See if you can begin to live that way. Let go of your anxieties. We’ve more going for us than many people. Our mortgage is paid off; we’re not big spenders. Let’s envision a bright future. And you don’t need to work full time. Picture yourself as semi-retired.”

“I’ve a lot of ideas I’d like to work on.” Already, he was feeling better; energy was now surging through his veins. “The new show doesn’t have to happen this year. Yes, a leisurely pace is what feels comfortable.”

“One way to regain that magic and enthusiasm is to get more involved with gardening. Talk about natural magic—a seed is a marvel. What miraculous transformations it goes through. Here’s some hands-on alchemy for you, dear.”

“Actually, I’ve already got a start. I haven’t told you yet, but one of my visions is to turn Ocean Avenue and Ingleside Terraces into a garden and from there the whole of San Francisco. I’ve been planting seeds and cuttings along Ocean Avenue and some yerba buena cuttings in Glen Canyon. My guiding mentor is John Chapman, who became known as Johnny Appleseed. He traveled throughout the Midwest during the first half of the nineteenth century planting apple trees. One of his dreams was a country covered with food-bearing plants, a veritable Eden. The food would be free to the gatherer, so he gave away both seeds and saplings to people who would plant them.”

Shasta sensed the radiance emanating from him. If he could maintain that joy and vitality, the healing process would thrive, so she refrained from commenting on the practicality of his new magical project.

“Something else that’s amazing is Rafé. She’s very vivacious and quite devoted to the study of magic. I seem to soak up her excess zest, and then I actually initiate some practical tasks. Lately, I’ve had a guilty feeling that I’m selfishly using her youth and vigor. The old man draining the young of their vitality.”

“Hmmm. People her age have an overabundance of energy, so they’re not missing it, but if you feel guilt, then reciprocate, give something back. I’ve noticed her eagerness, and she is dedicated, so change your role to that of teacher and mentor. You’ve often spoken about the dearth of women magicians. Well, here you have the opportunity to remedy the situation. A bright, eager talent like Rafé, what more could a teacher want? I know if I had someone so ready to learn imaginative writing knocking at the door, I wouldn’t hesitate.”

“I like the idea, but I have doubts about my ability to furnish beneficial guidance.”

“Dear, give it a try. Imagine yourself as a master magus giving lessons to an apprentice. Focus on that image. In your alchemical studies you’re the student learning from adepts. Now reverse the role and pass your skills and learning on to the next generation. Becoming an accomplished magician will add another dimension to Rafé’s career.” She smiled, offering encouragement, although she fretted that he would fall into melancholy again.

“Yes, I’ll perform that role.” He stood up straight, beamed back at her, and then noticed the floral arrangement on the table. “That’s lovely.”

“The garden is blossoming. I placed two vases of flowers in the living room and one in my study. Would you like some blossoms for the studio?”

“Yes, please. That would be delightful.” He sauntered out of the dining room and into his studio. He had been calling Rafé his apprentice but in a joking manner. Now he would see her in that role, a budding magus.

He walked over to the mirror and looked into it. His self-perception had sharpened. Doubt was a hindrance, a psychological barrier. A role was a performance, a part to step into and act out. This was all play, playing and pretending and being, creating reality from one’s vision. A transformation of the mind and self was required for the philosophical mercury to dissolve the inert sulfur. His outward sensitivity was also becoming more acute.

He paused in his thoughts and glanced around the studio. The feeling of being watched touched him and then faded. Shasta’s smiling face emerged into his mind. She was comforting him as she always did, but this morning he had noticed something amiss. She was deeply disturbed about his health, including his state of mind. A perennial optimist, she was skillful at covering her anxieties, but he now knew that she was intensely frightened about losing him, his heart failing or his mind. She would fiercely protect their happiness and life together, a lioness watching over her territory. This awareness inspired a desire on his part to nurture and comfort her. He had been so wrapped in self-pity that he had forgotten about her and, like a needy child, had taken her for granted. He intensely cared for her, a love for a soul mate. Another aspect of their relationship, he realized, was askew. He no longer used words of endearment. Years ago he called her sweets or Shasta sweet or love, yet now he hardly ever said her name. His treatment was not so much a hey-you, but it was definitely not a thou.

Ah, his dream. Was she his twin sister? Not in physical features but in soul and spirit? Supposedly we gain wisdom, he thought, as we grow older, yet as elders what is our wisdom? Are we wise about grief or joy or existence? He smiled inwardly at the irony. A strength arose within, a determination to do his part in their ongoing partnership. Yes, a reason for being, the alchemical marriage was the foundation for his existence. He would cut away the unessential accumulations of life and prepare the spiritual salve to cure his distorted and confused psyche.

Looking into the mirror, he saw a grinning image that challenged him with its knowing stare. He glared back; he would accept the impish dare.

An idea for a routine had popped into his head while showering, and he decided to work on it. He moved a utility table onto center stage and went over to the storage area for his equipment. He opened a cabinet and selected three small baskets and an acorn from a coast live oak tree. The baskets had been woven by the same Karuk-Hupa weaver who had made his necklace. The idea involved a variation on the shell game, and the characters in the little drama were Coyote and Gambler. ***

Immediately upon entering her study and going over to the desk, Shasta looked at the vases of freshly cut flowers and then carefully inspected the Odontoglossum orchid. One of the buds had blossomed, a colorful delicacy that revealed nature’s marvelous intelligence. A Miltassia orchid sat nearby, its flower stalk emerging.

She walked to the windows overlooking the backyard. A deep satisfaction filled her as she observed the garden. She had finished sowing the new seed beds a week ago, and many of the seeds were sprouting, sending up their slender stems. They would soon enhance the colorful blossoms of perennials that now brightened the garden.

Today the temperature was predicted to be in the high 70s or low 80s. The last part of June often hosted heat waves before their natural air conditioner, coastal fog, switched on for the next couple months. July was normally foggy and cold, freaking out tourists, who strolled the city in summer shorts and shirts. She had planted the seed beds so that the new sprouts would be up by July and its wintry weather.

A flickering movement caught her attention: a bird with dominant black and white markings and about the size of the white-crowned sparrows that were nesting in the neighbor’s yard. She observed it carefully and then recognized it—a downy woodpecker, the first she had seen in San Francisco. Wouldn’t it be super if woodpeckers took up residence here? Ralph’s vision of San Francisco as a garden was inspired but not very practical. Still, if enough people did something toward making it happen, at least the city would be a better place to live and raise a family. The changes would need to be accomplished by younger people with elders as a source of advice and wisdom.

Ralph’s romantic dreamer side had always appealed to her. Certainly, it was part of the original attraction. She knew that his parents, especially Keith, had been disappointed in his choice of career, yet as he gained success as a magician, he did earn their approval. She knew that her mother was upset when she did not follow a career based on her Bachelor of Science in environmental science. If she had, she would probably be working in northern California and closer to Dunsmuir. This breaking loose of parental values that they both had accomplished wove a bond between them.

Encouraged by Ralph’s present attitude, she was uplifted by a feeling of well-being. The idea of publishing a chapbook could become a reality if she worked at it. Several images were clustering in her imagination—the orchids, the garden, the birds—a seed idea was forming for a poem. Sitting down in the easy chair, she took a notepad and pencil from the nearby table. Her creative juices were flowing, and she started jotting down images and thoughts however random they might seem. ***

Shasta stood in the doorway of the studio. Ralph was in the rocking chair, snoozing, while Lucy kitty was curled up on the desk also napping. She smiled at the peacefulness of the scene. Aware that she was being observed, Lucy raised her head and, looking at Shasta, yawned. Then she stretched her front legs forward and rose into a sitting position. Shasta moved quietly over to Ralph and, kissing him on the cheek, whispered, “Ralph, dear. Ralph.”

Waking, he looked at her and yawned. “I must have fallen asleep. What time is it?”

She smiled at him. “Do you still want to go to Ocean Delights this afternoon?”

“Oh, yes. I’ll be ready in a few minutes.” ***

When the Garlands entered Ocean Delights, several people were seated throughout the coffee shop. They spied Gordon Russell, a retired City College of San Francisco English instructor, who was continuing to teach one class on a part-time basis. In his late sixties he was absent-minded and famous for the clutter on his office desk or table at the coffee shop. His always attendant briefcase occupied an adjacent chair. Presently, he was reading Michel de Montaigne’s The Complete Essays, a new annotated edition. He enjoyed quoting from the literary hero that he was involved with at the moment. Something of a cynic, he found pleasure in acting the part of a curmudgeon. Gordon was immaculately dressed, always wearing a white shirt, tie, and tailor-made suit. He had been divorced for twenty years and fancied the single life style. Although his ulcers frequently caused him pain, he refused to relinquish his beloved coffee and wine.

Shasta had first met Gordon when she was teaching composition part-time at City College. Even then he had a well-developed sardonic edge hidden behind his charming appearance and was known for his flashy repartees. The Garlands’ friendship with him began when they started meeting fortuitously at Ocean Delights and Ralph discovered that Gordon was an appreciative audience for magical high jinks.

The course he taught was English 48 on selected topics. The one he was teaching now was entitled “A Journey Through Hell.” It was a very popular course, which he had been teaching for four semesters and now during the summer session for the first time. Today’s young people were quite interested in the world’s religions and the spiritual realm. Perhaps, they had realized the shallowness of contemporary culture and needed to fill their emptiness.

Shasta walked over to Gordon’s table, as Ralph wandered over to the counter and ordered two cups of café latte.

“Good afternoon, Gordon.” Smiling at him when he peeked up from the book, she sat down at the table. A pen, writing tablet, file folder stuffed with papers, and cell phone were arranged haphazardly next to his coffee cup. An empty plate, formerly holding a pastry, sat on the far side of the table.

“Montaigne’s essay ‘On the Inconstancy of Our Actions’ is one of my favorites. Listen to this: ‘Not only does the wind of chance events shake me about as it blows, but I also shake and disturb myself by the instability of my stance.’ Quite an insight.”

“‘I’m Nobody! Who are you?’” Enjoying the literary repartees and other forms of learned bantering that he dispensed, she was filled with mischief.

“‘Then there’s a pair of us,’ I guess.” Gordon was bemused.

At the food counter Ralph was searching his pockets for some money, but apparently could not find any. He told Lois, who was at the cash register, that he must have left home without any money. Ben Said, who was filling the order, laughed and remarked that since Ralph was a magician he should be able to produce some. Encouraged by his friend’s faith, Ralph reached into the air and seized a half dollar, dropping it into his left hand. Peering slightly to his right, he snatched another half dollar, letting it fall into his left hand. His right hand moved horizontally across the air, as if he were unzipping an ethereal pocket, and then plucked a five dollar bill from the space. Handing the six dollars over to Lois, he picked up the two cups of café latte.

Carrying the cups over to the table and setting them down, Ralph sat and exchanged greetings with Gordon. Noticing Montaigne’s Essays, he inquired, “What does your philosopher say about retirement?”

“‘We take our chains with us; our freedom is not total: we still turn our gaze towards the things we have left behind.’”

“It’s hard to let go of our daily routines—change them for something else.” Shasta acknowledged the difficulty that retirement posed for many people. She had witnessed Ralph’s ongoing struggle to modify his activities so that they were in harmony with his health.

“Yes, changing our view of reality can be beneficial if we’re caught in a rut.” Ralph paused thoughtfully. “We now have a psychic on Ocean Avenue, offering spiritual consultations and guidance.”

Gordon guffawed. “They’re a bunch of fakes. Better to waste your money on the lottery. At least you have one millionth of a chance.”

“There’s more to reality than what our senses tell us.” Ralph’s tone of voice stuck a question mark at the end of the rebuttal.

“Of course, there is—the atomic structure of matter and all the frequencies in the spectrum. But fortune-telling. Humbug.” Gordon’s piercing blue eyes, searching for a clue to the magician’s hidden purpose, were fixed intently on him.

Shasta decided to remain silent, waiting to observe the direction that the conversation went. She knew about her intuition and the way that her imagination flowed, but she was uncertain whether it was only her unconsciousness or something else, perhaps from a spiritual realm of nature.

“Doesn’t the great Italian poet Dante place them in hell?”

Ralph’s surprising agreement puzzled Gordon, yet he accepted it with enthusiasm. “Yes, they’re in the eighth circle, which is simple fraud.”

“And alchemists, aren’t they down there too?”

“Even lower, at the bottom of the eighth circle.” The scholar was in his element. He could recite many passages from Dante Alighieri’s famous epic poem The Divine Comedy, and the first book Inferno was the foundation for his Journey Through Hell course.

Ralph laughed. “Human nature hasn’t changed much. People are still being deceived by contemporary charlatans.”

“Doesn’t the poet give insights into human behavior? I think his sensitive delineation of feelings and thoughts is superb. Isn’t this an example of intuition?” Shasta interjected. Dante had become a favorite writer when she had encountered him in a Humanities class her first year in college.

Ralph saw an opportunity. “Perhaps psychics are more like poets and other artists. They rely on their intuitive sense and not on some supernatural power. But what about extraordinary mental forces like telepathy or manipulating objects, for example, bending a spoon?”

“It’s trickery. That’s your field.”

The magician picked up a plastic spoon and showed it to the others. He bent it slightly, demonstrating its rigidity. Concentrating intently on the spoon, he gradually bent the spoon into a curved shape. Flipping it over to Gordon, he asked, “What about mind power now?”

Gordon handed the bent spoon back. “Let’s see you straighten it out now.”

Retrieving it, the magician grasped the spoon with both hands and slowly straightened it. Suddenly, he broke the spoon and held up the two pieces. Then he put them together and squeezed the joint in his fist. Opening his hand, the magician tossed the mended spoon onto the table.

Gordon picked it up and looked at it carefully. The spoon was like new. “That was good. I was completely fooled.”

“What’s happening at City College these days?” Shasta inquired.

Gordon launched into a trenchant critique of the ills and bumblings at the community college. One of his standard complaints was the administration’s apparent scorn for the teaching environment as demonstrated by their callous refusal to lower class size, hire more full time teachers, and provide better classroom facilities. The bungalows, which were more than thirty years old, were falling apart. Now the administration wanted to increase class size to obtain more state funds and substitute computer labs supervised by lower paid technicians for a warm, friendly classroom environment guided by a qualified human being.

When Ralph asked about the internet and its potential for education, Gordon protested that there was too much junk on the web and the students downloaded and used anything. They did not evaluate the material. Besides, it increased plagiarism by making it harder for teachers to check for cheating. It was a bummer!

Ralph decided to change the topic from the teacher’s hell to something more humorous. “I’m seriously thinking about visiting the psychic, maybe get a tarot reading. Would you like to go with me, Gordon?”

“I’ve better things to do, but be sure to tell me the results. Perhaps, I can use the example in class—for laughs, of course.”

Pulling a piece of rope from his pocket, Ralph looked at it carefully and then showed it to Gordon. “This is an unusual piece of rope which has healing powers. It was once used by the oracle at Delphi.”

Shasta’s attention perked up. She had never heard this routine before.

“Ralph, if this is the trick where you cut the rope and then it’s miraculously whole again, forget it. I’ve seen it several times. Do something else.” Gordon feigned boredom.

The magician had unobtrusively retrieved a pair of scissors from his pocket during Gordon’s remarks. “That’s a power tie, you’re wearing, isn’t it.” Ralph picked up the end of the red tie with gold specks and admired it.

“This afternoon I go before the peer review committee. Teachers are reviewed every two years, so I want to look my best.”

Swiftly the magician brought the scissors forward and snipped off the end of the tie. Gordon was surprised by the unexpected action. His blue eyes widened, and he yelped. Shasta nearly choked on her coffee at the crazy happening.

“Don’t worry, Gordon, I’ll restore your tie, but I’ll need the other part too. Please take it off, and I’ll mend the two parts.”

The harassed teacher scowled, his face reddening. He undid the tie and handed it to the magician. By now several habitués of the coffee shop were watching. Ralph put the scissors into his pocket and held up the two pieces of red tie. He rolled them into a tight ball which he put into his right hand and then pretended to toss the ball into the air. Showing that he still held the cloth ball, he again threw it upwards, but the red tie seemed to stick to his hand. On the third toss the ball flew into the air and fell to the floor.

Shasta was growing anxious. This was the type of behavior she worried about. It appeared suddenly without forewarning.

Gordon, very peeved, clenched his hands around his coffee cup. “Isn’t your magic working?”

“Some days it’s not worth getting out of bed.” Ralph frowned. “Magicians do have bad days.” He picked up the wadded ball of red cloth and held it in front of him. “I’ve read that the solar flares are increasing now and affecting the earth’s electromagnetic field. A lot of magic is based on the Van Allen Belt. The influence of high energy particles is probably the problem.”

“What a bummer. That’s an expensive tie, and my committee meeting is an hour from now.”

The magician shook the cloth ball, and it unfolded into Gordon’s red tie with gold specks. “Here’s your tie completely restored. The power’s been turned back on.” Shasta sighed in relief.

“How do I know it’s my tie.” Gordon, now in a surly mood, took the tie, scrutinizing it. “There must be hundreds of ties like this. Mine has my name sewn on the back.”

“Turn it over and check.”

Gordon examined the back of the tie. His eyebrows rose and a grin crept across his face. “It’s here!”

He stared keenly at Ralph. “How did you do that?”

Everyone in the coffee shop had witnessed the finale. Applause broke out and a few bravos sounded, while the canary began to sing. The magician grinned and bowed to his approving audience.

With a warm and supportive voice, Shasta remarked to Gordon, “I was totally faked, although I suppose I should have more faith in his ability.” She wanted to soothe his tension. This was an inappropriate effect to perform before Gordon’s peer review.

“I’m glad you were tricked too. I should have realized what was happening, but the suddenness and the personal involvement were threatening. That emotion was overwhelming. Ha. Ralph, you certainly led me along a devilish path. It fits my course. Maybe you could give a performance during one of the class sessions?”

“It’s a possibility. I’ll consider.”

Merle and Emma Leong, members of the gang, had caught the finale of the performance and now seated themselves at the table. Merle smiled at Ralph. “I was enchanted with the part when the tie was sticking to your hand. I had this image in my mind—a series of red ties coming into view, pausing, and then vanishing. It would make a fascinating painting. I could titled it Gordon’s Tie.”

Emma leaned toward Shasta. Feigning astonishment, she whispered, “I was horrified. Were you?”

Shasta had met Emma at a poetry workshop at SF State. They both shared an interest in the craft and lived in nearby neighborhoods. Emma had a job as a part-time real estate agent. She had started working for Crane Realty as a secretary and computer specialist—inputting data and setting up and maintaining a web site. Later she had taken courses at City College for her agent’s license and, after passing the exam, had continued as an agent and webmaster.

Her husband Merle worked part-time as a freelance illustrator for advertising companies so that he could create real art without being pressured to make it salable. In fact, his real art sold fairly well to a limited, but appreciative clientele. His work was a blending of realism and abstract, not so much a fantasy realm as an evocation of an inner landscape. Even though the dominant element in his works was paint, other materials were also applied because texture played a significant role in the aesthetic experience.

His Taoist religious upbringing, although he was not now practicing it, still influenced his thinking, behavior, and aesthetics. As an artist he placed himself in the flow of the Tao and waited for images to surge forth from the creative power. Through personal experience he had discovered that by gaining emptiness and attaining complete stillness he could watch the coming-and-going of all things, their renewal and return to their roots. He and Ralph often indulged in the play of ideas and philosophic positions. Each would try to shock the other with a surprising thought. One of his frequent refrains was “The way that can be imaged is not the way.”

Emma would often retort, “The way can’t be bought nor sold.” Although she was not a Taoist, Emma felt a deep affinity with many of its intuitions. The Leongs agreed that images are but fleeting conceits.

The clutter on the table began to vanish as Gordon collected his belongings and secured them in the briefcase. Smoothing his tie and then picking up the briefcase, he said goodbye. Receiving their well-wishes, he left for his peer review.

Merle launched into a description of a technique he was experimenting with. It was based on the ancient craft of calligraphy. Borrowing a sheet of paper from Shasta’s ever-present notebook, he demonstrated by spontaneously drawing several figures.

A shadow spread across the drawing, and they all glanced up. “Too bad I don’t have my saxophone with me. That looks like the notation of a blues melody.” Dale Pepper smiled at them and then sat at the table.

“Why not. These are images from the creative flow and could be anything,” Merle responded.

“They’re also poetic images.” Beaming at Dale, Emma asked, “How’s Margaret?”

Emma had originally met the Peppers when she had sold them a house. Helping them obtain financing and taking care of all the paper work, Emma had shown a caring that had knitted a bond of friendship.

“Busy as ever. Inspecting supplies for restocking and getting the lab prepared for next fall. She’ll be able to relax next week. Give her a call. I’m sure she’ll be happy to do something.” Margaret taught chemistry at Lowell High School.

“Where’s the Meadowlarks playing now?” Shasta inquired.

“At Barry’s Bar and Grill.”

“Isn’t that in the upscale section of the South of Market area?”

“Yes. We’re playing Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. Try to catch our show.”

“We will.”

Dale’s ensemble consisted of saxophone, clarinet, guitar, bass, and percussion. Besides saxophone he also played Native American flute, which is an end-blown instrument. He taught saxophone at SF State and would instruct a special class on the Native American flute in the fall semester. He also composed music for the Meadowlarks, which was known for its innovative sound.

He had chosen the name because of his familiarity with meadowlarks. Growing up in Oklahoma, he had listened to both the eastern and western varieties. The meadowlark has a wonderful singing voice and is capable of producing many variations on a simple melody. This talented songbird, Dale believed, was an apt symbol for his ensemble.

Merle’s calligraphic images had struck Ralph as being capable of many interpretations, including alchemical. Dale’s remark had ignited his imagination, and he examined the figures in more depth. Searching for a hidden code always offered him a pleasurable challenge. He was so immersed in his study that at first he did not hear Shasta speak to him. Not until she touched his hand, did he realize that she was talking to him.

“Dear, I’m ready to leave. Do you want to go now?”

Looking up, he smiled and nodded in affirmation.

After leaving Ocean Delights, they stopped at the Produce Barn before going home. They were both silent and involved in their personal thoughts. Shasta still felt very unsettled and anxious because of Ralph’s embarrassing behavior with the cut and restore tie routine. She decided to remain quiet for the moment and not make any comments about the event. Ralph was mulling over the calligraphic images Merle had written and the hidden meaning latent in them.

Hermes Beckons Chapters Magic Is Alive