Now, the First Infra Language Novel
“The Great Peace” is Finished*
*At least, for now.
Phew! The exceedingly heavy work is over (for the time being).
I have finished writing a novel called “The Great Peace: journey to the heart.”
“Spain” is, of course, the main location of the story. But, it is more than that. Spain is a magical land where the present and the past burst into each other’s realm. Get ready for some challenges when you perforate time!
“Heart” refers to the greater issue of human communication, which will eventually reach a point of divine stasis where we understand each other so well that there are no borders between us.
“Journey” is about the foundations of Infra Language, which, if you read the novel, you will understand more deeply.
So, the novel, “The Great Peace,” is a fiction and an entertainment. More than that, it is a subtle self-improvement manual for those who learn through the miracle of storytelling.
Not only do many of the characters present themselves as Infra Language types, I used those principles to develop the narrative. I hope you enjoy it as much as I love the characters (well, most of the them).
You can see that I have created a dummy cover to keep my mind focused on the main themes.
Please read the excerpt below.
The Great Peace: journey to the heart
Madrid compressed then gradually released in a slow, inexorable rhythm that pumped life across the body of the land. In clear spring air, swallows scribed arcs over the city’s terracotta tiled rooves. On the rising boulevard artery of the Calle Gran Via, two middle-aged men patiently supported their frail mother along the broad sidewalk, chatting to her affectionatelyas she hobbled, leaning against their crooked arms.
Years before, those three had strolled along the same grand thoroughfare. The men were little boys, each holding the hand of their beautiful, confident mother who looked so elegant in a fur-collared coat. Those three souls set a capital point that marked the living, passionate, and loyal heart of Spain.
It was alive on this day.
Down a narrow street leading to the north, a 16-seater Mercedes Vega tourist bus edged into a tiny parking indentation; its brakes and woman driver were already hot from the start-stop, turn-twist of Madrid’s Centro district.
Across the bus’s metallic bronze flanks was printed, in scrolled magenta text, Journey to the Heart of Spain (Viaje al corazón de españa).
The Vega’s long tail butted, inelegantly, into the single lane Calle Hortaleza, but the working vans and passenger Citroens and Fiats casually banked around it or flipped by flamboyantly.
Of the thirteen people on board the bus, eleven hovered in various states of excitement. It was late in the afternoon on Day Two of their Spanish tour, and they had already settled into a comfortable social routine. It would not last long.
Yesterday, was their first day’s adventure in Madrid.
They were strangers; they spoke with reserve, holding close their lives, loves, and secrets.
At the start, a confident young man stood to attention at the front of the bus. He was holding a microphone. Their tour manager was above average height, slim, and strong. He was neat, clean, and rigorously ironed. He was quite a picture in his cream shirt and dark blue trousers. “Good Morning everyone. Buenos días.” There was a mumbled response
from the travelers. “Very good! Muy bueno. I am your tour manager, and my name is Carlos Martínez Baeza. Our driver is Lorena Molina Flores.”
An olive-skinned woman in her mid-fifties swiveled around in the driver’s seat. She smiled and nodded politely to her passengers. She had black, wavy hair streaked with respectable gray strands that suggested she knew about life.
Today, she had pulled it back tight and clasped it with a sprung comb. In this way, Lorena signaled that she was a qualified professional.
The sounds of Centro, throbbing, rumbling, and occasionally screeching, became an enveloping blanket that settled over the bus.
The neat, young man continued. “Some of you will have noticed we have a third member of staff on our bus.” He waited a moment for effect. He pointed to the religious statuette held upright on the dashboard with a metal clamp at its base. The travelers strained this way and that to see. “Over the next days, we will have San Cristóbal, or, in English, Saint
Christopher, with us. Many of you know San Cristóbal is the patron saint of travelers. So, you can be sure, with our team of Lorena, San Cristóbal and myself, you will be in safe hands.”
An amused murmur bubbled through the travelers. Tammy-Belle Jackson beamed and patted the knee of her thin husband, Isaac, who, unlike her, slotted neatly into the window seat. He was used to living with distinctive local customs.
Tammy-Belle had happily introduced herself and her husband to the other travelers but, today, he did not appear to be particularly happy.
She was a bulging woman in a floral dress from a suburb called Miami Springs. In her late fifties, Tammy-Belle often wore a floral perfume that was bright and cheap. Her sober-looking husband was fast approaching sixty-five years. He had a gentle and open face that looked every inch professorial. His demeanor suggested that this was the last place on earth he wanted to be. Isaac was black and Tammy-Belle was white. They had been married for nearly forty years. They had survived the early troubles with both of their families and were still devoted to each other. In some ways, the world had caught up with them.
Behind them sat a man in his mid-twenties with a pinched, cynical expression. One side of George’s head was shaved, exposing a diamond ear stud. He wore a green, leather jacket that was styled to imitate snakeskin. He paid five-thousand dollars for it in a boutique store in Manhattan. At the mention of Saint Christopher, he rolled his eyes. If it was going to be that type of tour, he might hop a flight back to New York to find some sanity. If possible. He failed to see the irony that underpinned his raging impulsive thoughts.
A Chinese woman from Long Island listened carefully and critically to Carlos. She recorded, analysed and evaluated the information he provided. Nan’s face was tilted toward the roof of the bus and she peered at Carlos down her small nose, using her chin as a gun site.
Behind her, sat a porcelain beauty of infinite calm. Her name was Mia and she had wafted in from Palo Alto. Usually, nothing on earth could disturb her equilibrium. She was oceanically calm.
There were other travelers on the bus, and some were more extraordinary.
Carlos had announcements to make. He cleared his throat and lifted the bus’s microphone to his lips. He smiled, although he was not really the smiley type. “Please remember. When you purchase a meal is not provided by this tour, make sure you keep the receipt. This tour provides one hundred percent of your breakfast, lunch and dinner costs. One hundred percent.”
The travelers’ whispered to each other; the noise rose to an amiable chatter. Carlos was expecting that. It happened every time with a premium tour. “However, your journey has a limit on those three meals.” The travelers now began to grumble and groan softly. Carlos played it well. “Each of you may spend a maximum of one-hundred euros per day on food and drinks and will be fully, err, reimbursed.”
The travelers’ rumbling smoothed to a satisfied hum. They knew a good deal when they heard it.
Carlos exhaled, which the microphone amplified. “We also have free Wi-Fi for you throughout our journey. The hotels will provide, but you are welcome to use our service.” He read out an internet link and a password. “With Wi-Fi use, is no limit. No limit. Is good, no?”
After a brief pause for his announcement to sink in, Carlos continued. “Please know that today and tomorrow we have tours of the great city of Madrid. So, that is Day One and Two. The following days, Three and Four, are free. We have guides and advisors who will help you explore and learn. You can enjoy by yourself or with a guide. On Day Five, we drive
south to Toledo.”
For some reason, Elin Helstrom from Raleigh, North Carolina, tuned out. She was in a seat midway along the length of thebus, gazing at the people on the sidewalk. She was thrilled to be in Madrid. It was … fascinating. Elin sometimes got distracted when she was observing so acutely. And, it was unfortunate she didn’t hear Carlos’s last message.
“If you need to contact me during our journey, please write my phone number. Is …” He announced his number twice, and most of the travelers added it to their cellphone Contacts list. But, not Elin.
In retrospect, Day One truly set the scene. However, it was Day Two when the travelers received a powerful insight into the type of journey they were to experience.
The sky was pale on the evening of the second day. A tour guide joined the travelers. He was a small, moustachioed man called Sebastián, who had a permanently bemused twinkle in his eye. He was expert in the Centro district of Madrid.
As Lorena had parked the Vega bus on the left side of Calle Hortaleza, Carlos warned the travelers to exit with care. He was always wary about safety. It was crucial that he shepherd his travelers. If anything went wrong, it could cost him his job. And, he was grateful to have this work, despite everything.
The travelers filed out of the bus and strode briskly across the single lane road to the slender sidewalk opposite. A delivery van paused patiently. Carlos waved his thanks.
As the travelers began to spread along the sidewalk, Carlos held out his arms to corral them closer. They formed a tighter clutch, bumping against each other, giggling and apologizing. Then, Sebastián presented his introductory speech about the places of interest on Calle Hortaleza and in the alleyways nearby. The travelers strained to hear him above the swelling, city noise. From somewhere, the delicious smell of paella wafted along the street.
One of the travelers, Cole, was a well-groomed young man of just twenty-one years. He knew that he had a handsome, chiseled face. Standing next to a knee-high balustrade marking the border between the road and the sidewalk, he was staring at a bookstore. It had two differently shaped doors cut into an aging, black façade. Transfixed by the old-world charm of windows blocked in with antique books, he read the name: Librería Pérez Galdós. Cole had seen nothing like it back in Chicago. At least, not on the south side.
Once Sebastián’s introductory lecture was done, Carlos turned north toward the gentle fall of the pencil-thin street: he invited the travelers to follow him. Then, he called them, but his voice was drowned by a rising, rolling, roaring cacophony. Carlos beckoned the travelers to follow him. Some saw his gesture. Some did not. Some moved. Some were preoccupied. The noise grew louder. Then, it became deafening: banging painfully against the street’s tight walls.
Like Cole, Elin Helstrom ignored the racket. She stared at the unusual bookstore. Maybe, she had seen it in her dreams. Maybe, she had hoped for it. Here was a perfect, romantic image of Spain, even though it was only one hundred years old. In this nation, that was yesterday.
Amid the battering, blasting noise of a motor, there was a curious popping sound. A hiss filled the air, as though it were escaping from … something. The scene is transformed. Now, it is the bookstore’s first day. The lights inside shine dimly through the windows. There is a sign on the door: “Open.”
A snubnosed 1942 Autarquia truck is parked to one side. It is brand new, pale green, and tilting slightly with one of its large wheels sitting on the cobblestone curb.
Nearby, in pitiful resignation, a ragged, unshaven man stands on the grimy sidewalk. He is gloomily selling newspapers to pay for his evening meal. He has a rasping cough. He pulls his black beret over his forehead; he hunches inside his dirty, coarse overcoat. He coldly contemplates a woman in a tight-fitting woollen suit wearing a fashionable slanting fedora hat. She is impossibly elegant in somber gray with black highlights. It is perfect for Madrid. She holds a shallow wicker basket in which rests a loaf of fresh aromatic bread, part-wrapped in white tissue paper. It steams.
Two soldiers in wide-thighed jodhpur pants and high leather boots stride past, purposeful and vain. Oncoming pedestrians make way, stepping left or right, as though unconsciously displaying their personal political persuasions.
The bulbous hood of a deep blue, 1937 Chevrolet eases forward. It is belching balloons of acrid fumes.
Elin’s hazy view holds her steady. Then, she feels an abrupt, hard shove in the middle of her back: a kick or a punch. Her legs buckle; she slumps forward into Cole. He takes the full force of her fall. In slow motion, he staggers onto the roadway.
The vision from the 1920s fades fast and reality resumes.
The street is now overwhelmed by an explosive sphere of noise. It is bursting from a Harley Davidson Forty-Eight with a single chrome headlight and a low-slung saddle.
Accelerating, its fat tires smoked and gripped then threw the heavy machine directly into Cole. The handlebars punched into the left side of his ribcage. He crumpled around the strike: stiff metal against soft tissue and bone. The rider’s helmet skidded across Cole’s scalp. His neck twisted unnaturally. His torso spun and his shoulder smacked hard against
the bike’s rear mudflap. Then, he rolled and lay with his face pressed hard against an unforgiving metal grate in the gutter. He stared into the dark stinking drain.
It was all over in five seconds.