This is a continuation of the posts originally titled, An Untitled Novel About The Long Road of Hope.
[ Chapter 1.1 is here. ]
03 July 2023
Three white Porsche Cayennes pulled up at La Boeme. John and Cristina got out of the first SUV. Lumi, Grace and George got out of the second SUV. It was like they were Hollywood stars. People stared.
They went into the restaurant and were seated at a reserved table. Max was their server and they liked her. She had been their server on several previous occasions. Max was very attentive. Cristina liked that.
“Hi, John and Cristina. Can I get you and your friends something to drink?” said Max as she walked up to their table.
Max was a beautiful brunette in her 30s with a button nose and a warm, friendly smile.
“How’s the Mai Tais tonight?” asked John.
“Not so good. We’re out of Curaçao. We’re using triple sec. Have you tried our Mojitos before? We use fresh mint, real limes and organic brown sugar,” Max recommended.
Everyone agreed on Mojitos. John also ordered a couple bottles of water for the table. George asked for a bottle of vodka. Just for him.
“I’ll be right back with your drinks. Take a look at the menu and if you need any help, just let me know,” Max said and left the table.
“Wow!” exclaimed Lumi. “When did Romania get it about customer service?!”
“You’ve been gone at least twelve years! Some things did change in time. Slowly, slowly adds up eventually!” Grace teased as she threw a wadded up napkin at Lumi.
“So tell me what you’re working on Grace?,” John asked. “Lumi told me you’re a graphic designer at Ogilvy.”
“Top Secret,” Grace replied and then laughed. “I’m actually an illustrator. I do story boards.”
“Awesome,” said John.
“I think Mister Hachi’s blog could use some illustration,” said Cristina. “Do you know it, Grace?”
“Yeah… I do. Mister Hachi is one cute chow chow. Is he yours?” Grace replied to Cristina.
Cristina nodded affirmatively with great pride.
“Send me some pics and I’ll see what I can do. If you like what I do, we’ll figure it out.”
Elena Udrea to be PDL Party President. It’s about time a stylish woman can make stylish decisons! vid
Romanian shocks Belgium: He is probed by Police for shooting porn videos with his daughters! link
Harvard University is under fire for illegal deforestations of Romanian forests made by Rutgersson SRL Focsani. A Harvard University fund is the primary stakeholder in Rutgersson which is accused of strip lumbering 25.000 ha of forest land over the course of the last five years. link
“Grace is not a Romanian name,” said George after slamming down a glass of vodka.
“It’s true. I was named after the American actress that became the Princess of Monaco. Grace Kelly. My mom thought I’d have a better chance at finding a prince charming with this name.”
Everyone laughed at the table.
“I was born in London. Both of my parents are Romanians. My father installed heating and air conditioning units. My mother was studying acting at the London School of Arts.
We rented one room and bathroom in a house with five other families. It was crowded.
When my mother graduated, she didn’t find any acting jobs that she could take without making sexual favors. So she cleaned houses and took care of the elderly. It was hard work and the pay was terrible.
We came back to Romania when I was seven. They had saved enough money to make a small neighborhood bar. We lived with my grandmother in her small, two room apartment. I learned how to draw from my grandmother. My grandmother had wonderful hands.”
“For God’s sake, woman, I just asked about your name!” George exclaimed.
John flung mashed potatoes at George. It hit him in the face. George make a sheep sound: “Mehhh…”
They eventually got around to ordering food; Max had to come back a few times to remind them with a friendly smile.
24 Jehovah’s witnesses died in a burning building during bible study. It’s a tragedy that does not surprise us. Cults inspire violence and misunderstanding,” commented Emil Traian, spokesman for the Romanian Orthodox Church. vid
Members of the Jehovah Witness cult die in Bucharest fire. 56 women and 24 children were among casualties. Investigators are considering the possibility of mass suicide. vid
Six PRM members have been identified by witnesses as dumping diesel on the Jehovah Witness building that went up in flames. 134 lives were claimed in the fire as the doors wee barred from the outside. link
Lumi took her K-9s off.
As they were thinking about dessert, an argument erupted at the next table.
“Ionut, do you think that it’s ok that you fucked another woman because you take me out to a fancy restaurant?” the young woman said loudly.
“Shut your mouth and eat,” her dinner companion said.
“Why should I shut up? I’m not the one fucking everything on the street like a stray dog!” she replied.
“Dana, did you hear me?” he asked loudly.
“Fuck you!” she shouted.
The man backhanded the woman in the face. She fell out of her chair and started to cry.
George, John and the man stood up at the same time.
“You want to fuck her?” he asked George and John as he kicked her in the stomach.
“Stupid bitch, I said shut your mouth. Can. you. hear. me. NOW?”
John pushed himself between the man and woman and helped her up.
“Bring a chair for her at our table,” Christina told Max.
George walked over to the man in a friendly way.
“Dude, let’s have a drink. You know how women are…”
George put his arm around the guy and just as the man tried to shrug him off, he put the guy in a headlock and carried him outside.
“I’m a country boy. We’re dumb and strong! You want to say something about it?” he joked with the guy as he carried him outside.
Outside, George let the guy go.
“So you go home now, Mister. Your girlfriend is coming home with me tonight,” George told the man with a grin.
The man was still catching his breath, but he made a fist.
“I was hoping you’d feel that way,” George said with a smile.
The manager told the man to go or he’d call the police.
The man got up, turned to leave but then turned back around with a haymaker for George.
He landed the haymaker on George’s face, but George didn’t move much. George replied with his own haymaker. It landed on the man’s head and the man went down for the count.
The manager went back inside.
George bent down over the man and whispered to him: “You’re going to buy your girlfriend a new dress, new shoes and a fancy handbag.”
There was no answer. So George took a handful of the man’s hair and shook the man’s head affirmatively.
Then George reached into the man’s back pocket, took his wallet, and looked inside. There was six 500 Euro bills and small change.
George took the cash and dropped the wallet by the man’s head.
“That might be just enough. It’s hard to say these days. But we’re going to make ends meet. Because that’s what people in the country do,” George explained to the unconscious man.
Lumi had gone outside to see what happened. She returned with a look of amazement.
George came in a minute later with a big smile. His nose was bleeding. It even looked broken.
“I’ll need another bottle of vodka,” George told Max.
“Let’s get out of here,” said Grace. “Let’s go to the Monte Carlo.”
Lumi asked Dana if she wanted to come. Dana nodded affirmatively.
John went to look for Max to get the check. Her manager was scolding her about the argument between the man and the women. She should have done something to stop it.
“Max is taking the night off,” John interrupted the manager.
“Yes, sir,” said the manager. “And please tell your father that we hope he visits us again, soon.”
“Roger,” said John to the manager. “Come on Max. We’re going to the Monte Carlo. Be ready in five?”
“Da!” replied Max.
Lionel Richie, Hello
John settled the bill with the manager and they all went outside to wait for Max. The man was gone but there was some blood and a few teeth where he went down. Lionel Richie’s Hello played on the loudspeakers outside.
George offered Dana a cigarette and she took one. He lit hers and his.
“You’re beautiful. You don’t need to put up with that trash. Just because he has money. That’s a shame,” George whispered in Dana’s ear.
“Money comes and goes. But true love is always there. Money and poverty can’t touch it.
Today can be a new start for you, doll. Today, you can keep your chin up. It doesn’t have to ever fall down again.
Tomorrow, I’m going to buy you a new dress, new shoes and a fancy handbag! You’re going to be as good as new…
Me and you, we’re going to rule the world.”
Dana smiled and nodded her head affirmatively. They kissed.
A bald man and woman approached George and Dana. They were practically skeletons. Their pants were held tight by a rope. Their shirts fit like tents. They looked like cancer ward patients.
“What a beautiful young couple,” the woman said to the man. “I think they are in love. So beautiful! Do you remember when we were young and so in love, darling?”
“We’re hungry. Can you spare us enough money for a loaf of bread,” the man said to George.
“Get the fuck out of here, you scary-fucking zombies!” George said. Dana laughed.
The woman started to cry.
John went over and took the woman’s hand gently. He put 100 Euros in her hand.
“John-boy, you’re a fucking saint. Just like your dad! Just like my dad!” George commented. “Where’s the fucking cars?”
The man wanted to shake John’s hand. John shook his hand and gave the man a hug.
“He hugged me! God bless him! That wonderful boy hugged me. He wasn’t afraid! Now that boy is going to be someone. He’s going to change the world. From my lips to God’s ear!”
The two cancer patients slowly walked away. A few tears rolled down Cristina’s cheek. She kissed John. “My hero,” she whispered in his ear.
“What do you want to eat tonight, my love?” The man asked the woman.
“Bread is nice, my darling. We can eat for ten days. How SIMPLY wonderful!”
“Let’s go find some fresh baked bread,” the man said as he put his arm around his wife.
“Did you just my ass a squeeze?” his wife asked. And they laughed as they walked away, arm in arm.
The Porsches rolled up silently.
George and Dana got into the back of the first one. Lumi, Max and Grace got into the second. John and Cristina got into the third.
17 inch 3-D video monitors powered on in backs of the driver and passenger seats. George’s face showed up in one. Lumi showed up in the other.
“Where we going, sefu?” asked George trying to look innocent.
“Monte Carlo,” John answered impatiently.
The cancer patients waved as the Porsches rolled out.
The Porsches arrived at the Schitu Magureana entrance to Cismigiu Park and Monte Carlo. Ahead of them, three men were getting out of a white Rolls Royce: a bare-footed man in a white suite, a dark-skinned military officer and a man in a black tuxedo.
Six children ran up to them, begging for money. Some were Gypsy. Some were not.
The man in the black tuxedo told them to get lost. The children insisted. He threw coins into the street in front of oncoming traffic.
One of the kids ran to get the coins while the others waited for the cars to pass. She was nearly hit. But she got five Euros. Half a loaf of bread.
John called the children over. They came and they petted him. Actually, they were trying to pick his pockets.
“HEY!” John shouted to get their attention. “Can you help me?” he began. “This is very important. I really need your help.”
They nodded their heads affirmatively.
“Bring me seven flowers and I’ll give you ten Euros each. I’ll give you each one Euro now and the other nine Euros to each of you when I come back with the seven flowers.”
The children agreed. John gave them a Euro each and they took off.
“Are you running for President?” Lumi asked as she put her arms around John and Cristina.
John rolled his eyes.
“Because I’ll vote for you, John,” she added.
“Me too,” said Max, Grace and Cristina simultaneously. They all laughed at the choir response.
At the top of the atrium, the music played loudly. White, leather-upholstered arm chairs and sofas were scattered about. Most of them occupied. John, however, had made reservations.
They ordered a round of Mojitos. And then another. Finally, a song the girls wanted to dance to was up: Cindy Lauper. Girls Just Want To Have Fun.
Cindy Lauper, Just Want To Have Fun
Lumi, Max, Grace, Cristina and Dana left John and George to brood over their drinks.
George was afraid John was pissed off at him for how he treated the zombies, so he didn’t say anything.
John read social messages.
Six PRM members have been identified by witnesses as dumping diesel on the Jehovah Witness building that went up in flames. 134 lives were claimed in the fire as the doors wee barred from the outside. link
Death of Vintu’s prosecutor, a mystery close to being solved: Was she poisoned with alumina? link
Gold rises another Euro to 1000 Euro per gram. Silver up two Euros with a close at 500 Euro per gram. Oil, 1000 Euro per barrel.
26-year-old woman hit by bus on pedestrian crossing. link
Ministry of Turism
Five years after the sea level had raised a total of 2 meters, Romania is yet to rebuild its lost seaside resorts. “Foreign Investors remain skeptical considering the not so long ago losses in global seaside resort investments,” said the Romanian Minister of Tourism. “This is not simply a Romanian problem. It’s a problem everywhere!” vid
United Nations General Secretary Barrack Obama attended the Five Year Anniversary celebration in Damascus for Syrian Democracy and Free Elections. “You can stand against history, but history stops for no one!” he told the world in his speech. vid
EMF’s song, Unbelievable, played next.
Cristina, Lumi, Max and Grace grabbed John and made him get up on an illuminated stage with a pole.
John ripped off his shirt and did a pole dance like a pro.
The things, you say. Your purple prose just gives you away.
The things, you say. Before I love you more.
The things, you say. Your purple prose just gives you away.
The things, you say. Oh. You’re unbelievable!
George and Dana wandered off.
After an hour, Lumi, Max and Grace left the dance floor. They weren’t 20 somethings.
Three waiters came to them, each with a bottle of Cristal champagne. A sparkler was shooting sparks from each bottle.
The waiters indicated that these were gifts from the three men at the bar – the same men that came in the white Rolls Royce. Lumi winked at Grace. Max got it. All three stood up. They took the bottles, raised them high and clinked them.
“Toţi pentru unul şi unul pentru toţi!” They shouted together.
Then they turned the bottles upside down and poured the champagne out onto the floor.
They high-fived, screamed, high-fived again, laughed and hugged each other.
John and Cristina danced to slow songs. They held each other tightly. The night was awesome.
“I wish we could have more nights like this,” Cristina whispered in his ear.
Annie Lennox, No More I Love Yous
The bar played Annie Lennox’s No More ‘I Love Yous’ as the last call song.
George and Dana were still missing. John went to look for them in the park.
Walking by the statue of Mihai Emninescu, he saw George and Dana’s names written on the back of the statue. It looked like his own handwriting.
George and Cristina. Died doing God’s Work. October 2023.
Tears streamed down his face. Maybe, he was seeing things. He went over to the statue and stumbled on the bricks that covered the grave.
He fell to his knees crying as he touched the names written on the statue.
“What’s wrong, John?” asked Cristina.
“George and Dana!”
“Silly! You had too much to drink! Everyone’s waiting at the cars for us.”
“What month is it?” John asked.
“Silly, it’s July!” Cristina replied.
“They’re going to be dead, Cristina. They’re going to die in three months.”
Cristina was quiet.
“They’re going to be dead, Cristina,” John murmured between tears.
Cristina didn’t know what to think. But she was angry. She wasn’t angry at John. She was angry at John’s God.
John’s God wasn’t her God. That’s for sure!
Her God was a loving God. Her God didn’t torture her with nightmares and dark visions of the future. Her God didn’t tell her what to do. She’d never accept a God that told her what to do.
My poor John is the prophet of a God with a blasphemous sense of humor.
Cristina helped John up and they walked to the pick up spot.
Lumi, Max and Grace had left to their hotel. George and Dana had gone on to the guest quarters.
One of the children was crying on the curb. She had a bunch of wilted, white lilies. She thought she had missed John’s departure.
When John and Cristina came out of the park, she went to them, wiping away her tears. Cristina gave her ten Euros and took the wilted flowers and gave them to John.
Cristina held John as he broke into fits of tears on the short ride home. He was a million miles away in his thoughts.
“Is something wrong? Can I help?” asked Bogdan, the driver.
“More visions, Bogdan. Bad visions,” Cristina said.
“The baptism with fire is a hard road,” replied Bogdan.
The Porsche stopped in front of the vila.
“Tell me, Bogdan. Why would you believe in a God that makes things hard?” Cristina asked Bogdan.
“You don’t need to believe in God if God believes in you,” Bogdan answered with a tone that suggested he had just said something smarter than he had intended to say.
“God makes himself known to some people in a way that is more real than what you can touch, see, feel, hear and taste.
Most of John’s visions are worse and more painful than anything he has ever known.”
“ Millions of Euros would be nice,” Cristina replied.
“Eh. God already gave that to John and you in a manner of speaking. He gave it to John’s father. Have you ever really wanted something and not gotten it from John or his family?”
“Hmpf! I guess you’re right. Good night Bogdan.”
“God bless you and John!” Bogdan said as the Porsche rolled away quietly.
“Come on, my broken-hearted prophet, let’s get you in bed…”
Lumi, Max and Grace got to the Hilton Athenee Palace and went to the bar.
“Some night!” said Max. “Wow!”
“I haven’t had this much fun since forever,” Grace agreed.
A man in jeans and a black dress shirt walked up to the three women and asked if he could buy them all a drink. He asked in Italian.
Lumi thought why not.
“May my friends join us? One of my friends, Krishna, is very important. You must meet him. He’s very charming. He’s the military attaché to the UN.”
“Ok…” said Lumi, unimpressed.
The Italian called a friend on the phone.
“It’s a beautiful night because of you,” said the Italian.
Lumi rolled her eyes and put on her K-9s.
Romanian woman sells 14-year-old daughter for 60,000 Euro to a French “humanitarian” who took her to sex orgies. link
8 years after the adoption of the Euro, the quality of life in Romania has hit record lows. link
Business was never better. 99 hybrid conversions were made for Harley Davidson Motorcyclyes in Q1.
“We’ll take three double Johnny Walkers. Blue Label. Ice. Three cans of coca-cola,” Lumi told the Italian.
“As you wish, princessa,” he replied and went to the bar.
Prince’s song, 1999, was playing in the background.
Global price of wheat and rice has reached a new record high. UN Secretary General Obama warns against hoarding: “Hoarding drives up the price when there are sufficient grains to feed the world’s populations.” vid
Global Stock Markets follow tremendous gains with tragic losses. Where and when it stops, nobody knows. link
Euros down against the Government Issued Global Latnium (GIGL). Again. Brussels is outraged. Protesters in Paris, Berlin and Rome urge EU to dump the fiat currency of the UN. vid
“Excusa, Princessa. Your drinks are here.”
The Italian had returned. Next to him was an Indian, an Arab and a Chinese. All were fiercely handsome men. They might have been 40 something, but they could have easily passed for 30 somethings if a few silver hairs were removed.
The Indian introduced himself as Krishna Advani. He apologized that his friends spoke neither English nor Romanian.
They were also in jeans. Krishna wore a shimmering red dress shirt. The Arab, a tweed-ish dress shirt with a herringbone pattern of lime and lemon. The Chinese man, a black semi-transparent silk shirt with pearly buttons and an embroidered skull in silver thread over his left breast.
“What do you think about those soaring prices for wheat and rice?”, Lumi asked.
“It’s a population problem,” Krishna said and winked. “This will be fixed shortly.”
“I suppose that a severe reduction in the world populations will fix the GIGL too. Shall we start with a 30 percent correction?”
“Exactly!” replied the Indian man and clapped his hands in delight. He translated the discussion in Chinese. The Arab and Chinese laughed and nodded their approval.
The Italian waved his hand in the air like he touched something hot.
“The princessa is an economist!
“Beauty and brains! Who do you work for?” asked the Italian.
She tilted her head so that the Italian and Indian could see the logo on the side of her K-9s.”
The Indian man held up his hands in surrender.
“I’ll pay you double to come work for me. Whatever you three are doing. It doesn’t matter. You’ll love it at my company. It’s just like family,” the Italian proposed as he took a sip of his cognac that he had been warming in his hands.
It was a Sterh – a moldavian cognac. A 32 year old Stehr. Better than anything the French could produce. It was rare. It was a cognac for Russian oligarchs and oil tycoons. Lumi could smell it as he pressed closer to her. It cost 5000 Euro per glass.
Lumi, Max and Grace felt something wrong at the same moment. Like just before kissing a dead, distant relative when you’re a child. Something cold and something wrong. They shivered.
Max’s phone beeped and she looked at the message.
“Gentleman, we have to go. My daughter has a fever. I’m sooo sorry.”
“Oh. A shame!” said the Italian with great disappointment.
The ladies excused themselves and took their drinks with them.
They got in the elevator and went up to Lumi’s room.
“Lumi! How did you text me?” asked Max.
“It’s the eyewear. It’s a phone, computer, and it does other things too,” replied Lumi with a smile.
“How did you come up with that story?” asked Lumi. “You delivered it like a mommy.”
“I am a mommy,” Max answered as her eyes teared up.
“What happened?” Lumi asked with concern.
“My Violeta was kidnapped three months ago…”
04 July 2023
There was a boom. Like a sonic boom. John woke up.
It was 5 am.
John went barefoot to the bathroom. He flipped the light switch but the lights didn’t come on. The marble floor was cool on his feet. He sat on the toilet just in case he missed the bowl in the dark.
Grabbing the flashlight out of a cabinet in the bathroom, he went to check on the fuse box. The fuses were fine.
He went to the kitchen, got a glass out of a cabinet, pulled some ice cubes out of the ice dispenser and poured himself a glass of water. He took a gulp.
John saw the wilted flowers in the trash can. He took them out and put them in a vase. He added the water from his glass to the vase.
Then he came back to the dining-living room and plopped down in a Poltrona Frau hydra armchair. And he put on his K-9s.
“K- Show current social message stream.”
Ok. There are no networks to connect to. No new social messages have been received since 5:00 am.
Would you like to see social messages before 5am?
The end is hurling our way. May the Lord always be with you. See you on the other side.
Former Agriculture Minister Ioan Avram Mureşan, sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption. link
Bad dream. Burning cities. Dead people. Zombies banging on the door to take away my Frosted Flakes and Twinkies. That’s the last time imma mix Tequila with Jagermeister and angry birds!
If you live within five miles of a seven eleven, you’re toast. When Japan’s GDP report comes out tomorrow, Wall Street will shit it’s pants. The gates of hell are creaking open. Run for your lives. RUN!
Russians celebrate in Moscow’s Red Square. The long-awaited invitation to join the European Union was accepted by the Russian President yesterday with much fanfare. vid
Italian aged 57, sentenced for raping a Romanian baby girl. link
John took his K-9s off and looked up at Booker T. Washington. Booker was looking down on him from the ceiling mural. The golden key was slipping from Washington’s hand. A gift or bad omen?
I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.
That was the quote from Booker T. Washington that his Father began his acceptance speech for the Order of the Star of Romania. That was a few years ago. But a framed picture of his father receiving the medal was in the entrance hall next to the electric box. At the bottom of the frame, Booker T. Washington’s quote was engraved on a strip of silver.
John walked toward the bedroom. He felt dizzy and light headed. Through the window of his office, he noticed the burned walls of the office building across Stirbei Voda. He moved to the window. People were running down the street towards Cismigiu Park. There was the loud thundering of motorcycles. Six black Harleys roared down Stirbei Voda from Berzei.
The riders were wearing strange helmets. The helmets resembled black skulls. They laughed outloud as they fired shotguns to the left and right. People were falling.
John put on his K-9s.
“K – Call police.”
I’m sorry. Phone service is unavailable.
John watched as one rider cornered a family. Grandparents, parents and two children. Two other riders joined him in his cruel sport. They pointed their shot guns at the children. One rider dismounted his bike and shot the grandmother and grandfather in the faces without wasting any time.
Then he took the butt of his shotgun and bashed in the face of the father until the man sank to his knees. The mother and children cried out.
John ran for the door, grabbing a large bronze crucifix that was hanging on the wall. He raced down the steps. Costi wasn’t there but the door was unbarred.
Outside, the rider resumed bashing the father’s head. The father’s head was on the pavement now, he had fallen to the ground. The rider continued bashing his head until the man’s blood had made a pool.
The rider put his hand in it, walked over to the children, and smeared their father’s blood on their faces. The mother vomited.
Then the rider bent down and whispered to the children:
“Did you know how mommy and daddy made you? I’m going to show you how. And then I’m going to kill your mommy. You get to watch because you should know what happens to bad little boys and girls.”
John ran into the street ready to strike the rider down with the crucifix. But no one was there. The office building wasn’t burned out. A drunk old man came into view and shouted at him.
“Have you no shame?! For God’s sake, put some clothes on,” said the drunk.
John was only wearing underwear and K-9s. And he had a large crucifix in his hand.
Costi called out to him: “Sefu… you drink some bad palinka too?”
John looked around.
“You better come with me. I just made a pot of strong coffee,” Costi said with a grin.
“There’s no water,” Cristina shouted from the bathroom as she hit play on the waterproof MP3 player.
“There’s no phone or power either,” mumbled John from the bedroom.
John got out of bed, went down to the basement, and turned on the generator. It was a Honda Generator. Model ECMT7000. It had a 20 liter fuel tank that could run 12 hours continuously.
He returned upstairs to the apartment and flipped a switch on the electric panel.
“You have water,” he told Cristina.
“Thank you!” she replied with a big smile.
The air conditioner turned on. Hachi plopped down next to the air conditioner in great relief.
As Cristina was putting on her make-up in the kitchen, John prepared café lattes and toast.
The fragrance of the lilies filled the kitchen and subdued the smell of the fresh ground coffee. The flowers were white as snow and petals immense. They had recovered. The fragrance was intense, sweet and creamy. It had a calming and peaceful effect.
“Why do we need power to have water?” Cristina asked.
“The water company pushes water to us with pumps,” John explained. “If the phones are down too, it means that the power is out across Bucharest – not just this neighborhood.”
“How can that happen?!” Cristina asked with surprise.
“I don’t know,” John answered. “But it’s happening right now.”
“If the phone worked, I’d call Constantin and ask what happened. He works for the electric company,” he added.
“Did you get these flowers this morning?” Cristina asked as she inhaled deeply and smiled.
“No,” John said. ” I pulled them out of the trash.”
“That’s weird!” Christina replied, but she was more grateful for a small miracle than curious.
“What’s weird?” John asked as he focused on steaming the milk. He had no idea what Cristina was talking about.
“Nothing,” she said.
Across Bucharest, traffic was backing up. Traffic signals weren’t working. Romanian drivers, not being known for their patience and problem-solving skills on the road, were making a bad situation worse.
Intersections were interlocked with cars facing different directions than the cars around them. Some people were getting out of their cars. Cursing. Yelling. Hitting. Shots were fired. The ones that stayed inside locked cars were also cussing, yelling and honking their horns.
“Radio signal transmitting from Radio Romania,” K-9 reported.
“K- loudspeaker,” John said.
This is an emergency broadcast from Radio Romania and the President of Romania.
At 9am this morning, I have met with the Minister of Public Utilities who has confirmed multiple terrorist attacks on our National power supply. We are working now to secure our power generation facilities and repair them. We expect to have power back on within a few hours.
“What?!” exclaimed Cristina.
Wow! John whispered.
Deaths and hospitalizations from heat stoke are increasing in Bucharest– especially the impoverished elderly and children. As of last week, the total three week death count was 1,452 persons. 3,789 persons received medical attention. With last night’s power failure, we expect this week’s counts to rise higher.
The Ministry of Health has several recommendations:
- Drink at least one liter of clean water per day
- Drink supplemental liquids with electrolytes
- Add salt to your daily diet
- Avoid coffee and caffeinated beverages including black and green teas, sodas, and energy drinks
- Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sun light
- Avoid hot, crowded and/or enclosed areas that are not cooled
- Stay inside and keep cool
In other news, it’s getting ugly on the streets of Bucharest. Major intersections are locked, violence is erupting, and police are unable to get to those locations. Officials are recommending people to stay home and stay safe until the situation is under control.
“I don’t think you should go to work until the power comes back on,” said John.
“Oh wow!” said Cristina.
You are being buzzed by… Dad.
John – I’ve been talking to the Director of the Electric Company and Engineers at the Water and Sewage Companies. Things will be down for a week. That’s not a maybe. It’s written in stone.
Let’s take advantage of this and get away with family and friends. Because I’d love to spend some quality time with you kids.
We’ll stay at the Sanctuary. That includes a chocolate body mask and massage for Cristina.
John’s father waited for an answer.
John looked at Cristina. Christina smiled and nodded her head affirmatively.
“We’d love to!” Cristina said.
You made me so happy. Thank you, Cristina. Thank you. If you like, I’ll send a messenger to your office to leave a note and contact information.
“That’s a good idea. Thank you!” replied Cristina.
Oh- if you have any friends you want to invite, bring them along. We have room for five more – not including George. We’ll have snacks and beverages on this flight – so don’t worry about anything. Until the pick up, stay home, stay safe, and pack for a long holiday.
I’ll pick you up about midnight.
And, John… Matthew. 24. 44.
The transmission ended.
“WTF!” shouted John.
“What’s wrong, John?” asked Cristina.
“This is a bug out!” said John.
“What’s a BUG OUT?” asked Cristina.
“A bug out is when you got to get out of the city before the shit hits the fan. It’s an evacuation.” explained John.
“Matthew 24:44 is code for bugging out.”
You are being buzzed by… Lumi.
What the hell is wrong with Bucharest?!” exclaimed Lumi. “No water. No power. No phone. No internet. NO air-conditioning.
Oh – I’m here with Grace and Max.
“Hello,” said John and Cristina.
So what are you two doing today?
“We’re going to the country. And we’d like you three to come with us,” said Cristina.
Tell us more.
“We’re going to Bucovina. We have free rooms at a five star luxury hotel and spa. Our stay includes a chocolate body mask and a two hour massage,” explained Cristina.
WOW! said Lumi, Max and Grace in unison.
Ok. We’re coming.
“You don’t need anything but yourselves,” John added.
“Yeah, just come over, ladies. We have hot water. Let’s get this party started!” said Cristina.
Ok. We’ll be over in the hour or two.
The transmission ended.
John and Hachi went to Cismigiu Park. The gates were closed. On the gates, a sign was posted that the springs were damaged and would be repaired.
John recognized Elena, a tax collector, standing behind the gate with two armed park police officers and seven anti-riot policemen in tactical armor. They carried shotguns and tear gas launchers.
“Elena, what’s going on?”
Elena told the police officers to open the gates for John and Hachi. They went in, John unleashed Hachi, and Hachi took off down the steps of the Cetate into the gardens.
“Oh, John!” Elena began to explain. “You won’t believe what happened.
Early this morning, people came to get water from the spring. Maybe a thousand. Maybe, more. They forced their way into the park. They fought with each other at the springs. 36 people were trampled. The anti-riot squad came, fired tear gas, and they fled.
“Are you ok, Elena?” asked John.
“Of course, I’m fine,” Elena answered. “I wasn’t going to argue with anyone.
The Park manager has turned off all the springs. They posted these signs every 5 meters on the gates and walls around Cismigiu Park. The only non-employees allowed into the park are confirmed guests and members of the Sanctuary Hotel and Spa.
Hachi had returned. Alexandra was standing at the gate with her mother.
“The Park is closed,” said Elena.
Alexandra and her mother left. The guards let John and Hachi out.
On the other side of the gate, John turned to Elena.
“Elena, what will you do if there’s no water and power tomorrow?”
“You’re a sweet boy, John. Thank you and God Bless you. We have some facilities in the park for national emergencies. I don’t have a family so I’m staying here. Those who have family can bring their families to the park-managed government residences nearby.”
“Good for you.” John said with a smile. “We’ll be back in the evening.”
“Anytime, John,” answered Elena.
As John walked up Schitu Magureanu, he noticed some people come to the gate with empty soda bottles. John wondered how people would get water. How could people go a week without drinking water? He also wondered what would happen if the sewage plants were stopped for a week.
The door bell rang.
John saw that it was Costi. He opened the door.
“Sefu, my family is in the mansard. We’ll be staying there until you come back. Your father told me you have some keys for me.”
John opened the electric panel and took a ring of keys out.
“The keys are labeled by color, Costi,” John explained.
“The blue key is to the well room. There’s a hand pump there if you don’t have power. The well goes down 500 meters. Running out of water is not going to be a problem.
The orange key is to the medicine room. You’ll find antibiotics and other things there.
The green key is to the food supply room. There’s 24 months of dehydrated foods for 12 people. There are three full meat freezers in there. They and the security systems are powered by the solar panels on our roof.
The red key is the fuel room. There’s 300 liters of gasoline, 200 liters of diesel, and 200 liters of lamp oil. There’s also 12 halon 1211 fire extinguishers in there. I think they are the 9kg cans.
The white key is for the safe room. There’s three handbooks in the safe room that describe methodical approaches for dealing with various situations. There’s also some good reading books that you’ll like.
The black key. Well, I think you can guess.
The gold key opens the doors of all the apartments in this building.
“That’s heavy!” said Costi as he jangled the keys. “I’m going to put the pick-up in the courtyard. It’s got a full 200 liter tank of gasoline in the back.
I’ll be back around 11pm to help you with your luggage. The luggage is going in separate cars. Your father will be here to pick you up at midnight.
Oh – what about the key to the wine cellar?”
John laughed at Costi.
Grace, Lumi and Max walked out the Hilton Athenee Palace. Each of them were pulling one of Lumi’s rolling Vuitton suitcases. The streets were full of honking cars. In front of them, there was an argument between two drivers: a 20 something driving a BMW and a middle-aged man driving a 30 year old Dacia Berliner.
The young man pushed the older man as he was talking. The older man slapped the younger man and the younger man fell down. He got up and went to his car, took something out of the trunk and came back to the Berliner. The Berliner driver had gotten back into his car. The young man raised a 9mm pistol to the window and pulled the trigger. Blood splattered against the window.
People screamed. Some got out of their cars and ran.
Someone shouted out to the gun man: “Now how the fuck are the cars going to move?! You fucking retarded monkey! Obviously, your daddy bought you that car considering that you have shit for brains.”
But whoever it was that mocked the gun man, it wasn’t obvious. He was keeping out of sight.
Lumi led Grace and Max through the maze of interlocked cars and proceeded down Stirbei Voda. Grace and Max were shaken by the shooting.
They wiped away tears from their eyes as they followed Lumi across the intersection with Luterana Street. A speeding car grazed Max. The driver was trying to make up for lost time. Max spun and fell down. She twisted her ankle and her back hurt. The car went faster.
Lumi and Grace helped her up. Then Lumi put one suitcase on her back like a backpack, stacked the other two suitcases together and pulled them while Grace helped Max walk.
“If it was just about clothes, I’d leave the suitcases,” said Lumi. But I think we’ll need some of the things that I packed.”
Grace nodded her head affirmatively, but she didn’t know what Lumi was talking about. Everything was surreal to her after the shooting.
They had made it as far as the Cretulescu Palace and the Stirbei Voda entrance to Cismigiu Park.
Lumi buzzed John.
“Help! We’re across from Cretulescu Palace. Max was hit by a car and twisted her ankle. We saw a shooting at the intersection of Calea Victoriei and Stirbei Voda. Everything is going to hell.”
On my way!
Across the street, people were gathered at the gates of the entrance to Cismigu Park. They were trying to pull down the gate. The anti-riot stormtroopers, the Jandarmi, shouted at the crowd.
The crowd continued trying to rock the gates out of their hinges. Six tear gas canisters were fired into the crowd. Three people were hit directly and collapsed. Six more tear gas canisters were fired behind the crowd as the crowd broke up. Another six tear gas canisters were fired at the other side of the street.
Lumi, Max and Grace moved up Stirbei Voda, coughing, gagging and eyes watering from the tear gas. They all thought they were in a dream. Everything felt unreal.
“Is this really happening?” asked Max as she limped along with Grace’s assistance.
John and Costi appeared. Costi took Max up into his arms and ran up the street. John picked up two of Lumi’s suitcases and ran with Lumi and Grace.
Shotgun blasts were heard from behind them. There were screams and shouting. There were no sounds of ambulances.
An M5 BMW was racing down Stirbei Voda at 100 mph. An old woman was crossing the street. The BMW didn’t swerve or press the breaks. There was a hollow crunch sound. The front bumper flew off. The old woman’s headless body flew into the air over the BMW. The M5 didn’t slow down. It kept going.
John, Lumi and Grace watched in horror.
Hours later, the four women were still in tears as they talked about what happened over and over again: Cristina, Grace, Max and Lumi. John took Hachi out for his walk.
This is an emergency broadcast from Radio Romania and the President of Romania.
At 3pm, I have met again with the Minister of Public Utilities who has confirmed that the repairs to the bombings will take three days. We are working hard to restore water and power to Romania. While our courageous men and women of the armed forces have made progress in isolating the terrorist cells in a dozen villages, we must enact a state of emergency to ensure peace and security.
There shall be no travel on the roads and highways except by government, diplomatic, police, fire, medical and other official vehicles. Military road blocks have been established in strategic positions in order to prevent terrorists from penetrating Bucharest. Stay home. Stay safe. Be alert.
Possession of firearms by citizens is strictly forbidden. Hunters must turn in all their firearms to designated collection points. Hunters will be paid the value of their firearms in cash Euros. Until all firearms are secured in government hands, Romanians are not safe. We can not risk that these firearms will fall into the murderous hands of terrorists.
One government distribution point will be established for each of the six sectors of Bucharest and one for each Romanian county. Bread and water will be available. Each family will be given two liters of water and three loaves of bread while supplies last.
We will announce those locations tomorrow morning. Stand strong, Romania!
I understand that fear grips your hearts as we enter into this dark night. But Romanians have survived harder times than this. Some will still remember the hardships we suffered under communism. Some will remember when the government turned off power and rationed food just to keep our daily needs in our thoughts and unable to think and dream of abstractions such as freedom.
We have forgotten what it means to be Romanians. We are tougher and stronger. We survived 40 years of communism. We will even survive 40 years of democratic capitalism. Three days and nights is nothing for us.
Hai! Lift up your hearts, Romania! Courage!
“Mrs. President will now take questions…” an announcer said.
Mihaela Pana: Have you spoken with the Embassies about their plans for their citizens?
Madame President: I have spoken with many ambassadors, today. They are all offering various emergency services to their citizens. I know that the French Embassy is providing water, milk, yogurt and cheese to French citizens at the Sacred Heart church at Piata Aviatorilor.
Robert George: Have you heard what is happening at the Bulgarian Nuclear Power Plants along the border?
Madame President: I have spoken with the Bulgarian Ambassador and he assures me that Bulgaria is taking every measure to ensure the safe operation of their Kozloduy and Belene Nuclear Power Plants. They did not lose power. There is absolutely no need for people to buy Potassium Iodide pills.
Constantin Leo: Have the police captured any of these so called terrorists?
Madame President: Yes, our intelligence forces have captured over 100 terrorists across the country. Interrogations are underway. However, we must be vigilant against sleeper cells. Report any suspicious activities of your neighbors to your nearest police station. Suspicious activities, for example, might include the hoarding of food, water, medicine, fuel or firearms.
Thank you, Madame President.
Grace, Lumi and Max each had long, hot showers. Dr. Bronner’s Magical Peppermint soap restores body, mind and soul. The fragrance of the Lilies had spread across the apartment and and it brought calm to their hearts and minds.
They ate hot bowls of sour soup with beans and pork. Also potato pancakes with sour cream. It was made by John the day before. They loved it.
The women felt much better. They were also comforted to know that they were getting out of Bucharest. The sun was setting.
John returned with Hachi, turned off lights, and lit candles that he had been saving for a Christmas pilgrimage to Bucovina and the fortress monasteries: Voronet, Humor, Suceavita and Modlovita.
“Electric lights during a power out will attract unwanted attention,” John explained.
John packed twelve suitcases while the ladies chatted in the living room. Hachi stood guard on the front balcony. He stood on his hind legs and leaned his front legs on the balcony rail. From behind, he looked like a little kid in a white, furry Halloween costume.
Hachi listened to shots being fired down the street at Cismigiu. Hachi growled under his breath in reply. Otherwise, the streets were unusually quiet for Hachi. Something was wrong. He was very agitated. He went and checked on his three plushy tigers.
John had packed them and all his other toys but Hachi didn’t know that.
Hachi searched everywhere for his tigers, barking softly and crying in frustration every now and then. He mumbled a few times- hinting at foul play, betrayal and conspiracy. But he avoided making accusations – for the moment.
At 11pm, three white Dacia pick-ups and a police escort arrived downstairs. Cristina, Grace, Lumi, and Max were making coffee in the kitchen when Costi and John took all the luggage and boxes down to the pick-ups. 12 suitcases and the seven boxes that Lumi had brought to John from America. The pick-ups and police escort left.
John sat in the library. An angry Christ looked down on him from the ceiling. It was a painting of Christ on Judgment day. From Christ’s halo, three surges of fire blazed – fueled by the winecup of God’s wrath.
It was a reproduction in oil of a mosaic at the National Catholic Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Like the other ceiling paintings in the apartment, it was painted by Gabriel Prundeanu, a successful and talented Romanian artist. The artist was a close friend of his father.
At midnight, seven white Porsche Cayennes rolled up to the villa. The Porsches were accompanied by an escort of four police cars and three UN gun trucks.
John introduced Lumi, Max, Grace and Dana to his father. His father had a big, warm smile for them. Everyone but John loaded up into the first three Porsches. Hachi went with John’s father.
John’s neighbors had their faces pressed to the windows. This was a big event for the neighborhood. What was going on? They all wondered. Even a crow came to perch on a dead street lamp and cawed out in curiosity.
“Come with us,” John told Costi. “Bring the family.”
“We’ll be ok, sefu,” said Costi and thumped his chest. “I am strong. Like superman!”
John had argued with Costi about this many times. In visions. Costi never changed his mind.
John gave Costi a hug and got in the second car with Cristina.
The first police cars pulled out first with their strobe lights on. They were followed by two gun trucks and, then, the Porsches and the other cars as a rear guard.
On the way out of the city, they passed police check points and cars that had been stopped. The streets were quiet except for the angry strobe lights of police cars at various intersections. Near Europa, they met up with two dozen other white cars and the pick ups with the luggage. They stopped long enough to add UN stickers to both sides of every car and truck. And another on the hoods.
Lumi was startled when the men slapped a decal on the side of the SUV. And slapped one on the other side. A third thud when they slapped it on the hood.
On the outskirts of the city, a military check point was set up ahead. Three armored humvees blocked the road. Two troop transports blocked each side. An Apache helicopter hovered nearby. Flood lights targeted the convoy.
The two gun trucks and the Porsche (with John’s father) took the lead. They approached the check point slowly with flashing headlights. The soldiers waved for them to stop and turn around. John’s father and a military officer got out and spoke with the soldiers for what seemed like an hour.
John was starting to worry this charade wasn’t going to work out. But the soldiers saluted the military officer who returned with John’s father to their Porsche. The back opened up and they each carried a case of Jack Daniels back over to the soldiers. The back closed automatically and they returned to the Porsche.
“Everything’s ok,” said John’s Father on the picture of the driver’s side 17” inch screen. His image appeared in all the cars. “We’re cleared all the way to Bucovina. Please fasten your seat belts and enjoy the in flight movies.”
E.T. started to screen.
Three armored trucks moved from the road and the convoy was moving. The police escort and other cars went through and then the seven Porsches followed by the gun trucks. The caravan accelerated to 100 mph.
In the last Porsche, Lumi looked back at the military check point. There were a dozen more headlights quickly approaching the checkpoint. The Apache was moving.
The Apache’s cannons roared as they fired upon the cars. The armored trucks fired on the oncoming cars as well. Then there was an explosion in front of the armored trucks. Bright light. Another car hit one of the armored trucks and exploded.
More headlights in the distance. The Apache moved quickly to intercept them.
On the sides of the road, cars were filled with cannon holes and, perhaps, the dead. They were moving so quickly, Lumi couldn’t clearly make out the shapes inside the wrecks.
Lumi selected a song: Bajaga & Instruktori. Ruski voz.
Ok. Filming stopped.
Bajaga & Instruktori, Ruski voz
The next chapter section (2.1) is [here]. Enjoy!
Your feedback (comment) means much to me.
5 May 2011
Copyright 2011 by Stan Faryna. All Rights Reserved.