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Classical 101

Meditations on the Strange Man (blog novel episode #5)

     When Mr. Simpson, Katie's father, dropped Maddy off at her house, Maddy flew through the front door and straight up the stairs to her room.  Her parents glanced at each other in bemused wonderment.       "No telling the inner workings of the adolescent mind," laughed Mrs. Green as she stood in the breakfast nook pruning her bonsai trees.  She chuckled again and shook her head when she heard the thud of Maddy's bookbag dropping to the hardwood floor of her room.      Upstairs, Maddy kicked off her shoes and pulled a purple rubber yoga mat from beneath her bed and unfurled it with a snap atop the fluffy pink rug on the floor.  She sat down cross-legged and closed her eyes and began strange, drone-like vocalizations.      "Hmmmm.  Hmmmmm.  Hmmmmm."        "What's all that?" Mr. Green called from the living room to his wife.      "It's yoga," Mrs. Green replied from the breakfast nook.  "Ever since they did yoga in gym class Maddy's claimed it gives her psychic powers."       "That so?"  called Mr. Green, leafing through a copy of The Atlantic.      "Who's to say it doesn't?"      Maddy's noises stopped suddenly and there was silence.  Mrs. Green held her clippers in mid-air.  Mr. Green suspended a magazine page mid-turn to keep it from crinkling.      On her mat, Maddy closed her eyes.  Who is that strange man, Maddy wondered.  Where is he from?  What does he do?  Five minutes, then ten minutes went by and the universe had not responded.  Then in frustration, Maddy called out: "Universe, who is the strange man?"      Mr. and Mrs. Green looked at each other smashed their hands to their mouths to muffle their explosive laughter. REWORD      Slowly pictures started to take shape in Maddy's mind.  The man had worn a Russian-style fur hat.  Maddy envisioned him walking along the gray wintry streets of Moscow before a backdrop of the onion-topped cupolas of the Kremlin.  Yes, he must be a spy, thought Maddy.  One would never suspect someone with his odd lumbering gait of being a spy - the perfect cover!  Maddy's eyes popped open with this realization, but she composed herself and closed them again.       "Hmmmm.   Hmmmmm.  Hmmmmm."  Mr. and Mrs. Green had laughed until tears were running down their faces.      Okay, so he's a Russian spy.  What's in the briefcase he was carrying? Maddy asked the Universe.  With her mind's eye she saw the man duck furtively into a loading dock behind the theater and unlatch the briefcase.  He stopped.  Maddy felt herself lean forward as though to peer into the still closed case.  What's in there?  Maddy wondered.  The man stood still.  "What's in there?"  Maddy called out.  The man slowly turned his head and looked into Maddy's eyes.  His jaw dropped, and jagged wolf-like teeth surrounded a cavernous mouth.  Maddy saw the whites of his eyes turn red, and with the sounds of diabolical laughter - as though from a whole chorus of demons - woke her from her reverie and sent her running down the stairs and into the living room. --Jennifer Hambrick