Friday, November 7, 2008


He presented himself to us on a particular grey, greasy Seattle dawn. I don't know why I distinguished this morning from other grey greasy Seattle dawns, but for some reason that day I did. He came in wearing a long black overcoat—not something particularly out of the ordinary, except that the coat had a rich gold fur trim about the neck and cuffs. It was this, I believe, that prompted our normally polite ward nurse to rudely clear her throat and step in front of him, thus blocking his path. He simply raised his long thin eyebrows and genteelly cleared his throat.

"Hello and good day," he said, with a curious, dusky accent.

"Can we help you at all there?" said the ward nurse, folding her two impressive steam iron arms across her chest.

Suddenly he swept his hand out from under his coat, and it quickly became apparent it wasn't a coat but in fact a cape, lined with a glorious vermillion satin. The handful of us who had stopped to watch took a collective breath. Even the ward nurse took a tiny step back.

"I am contacting you," he continued in that strange accent, "because of the confidentiality and urgency this matter demands."

This is where I stepped forward, seeing something perhaps a little threatening in his eye, seeing an animal edge to his movements, suspecting drugs, attempting to place a long white coat and stethoscope across his field of vision. To calm him down.

He immediately swung his eyes (set so high on his face it almost seemed he was looking down at me, despite being the slightly shorter man) to mine and broke into a strange, brilliant smile.

"You must be in charge," he intoned. "My name is Montgomery James Levi, a citezen of The United States of America, and an ex-military man." He paused, then struck his forehead with a palm. "Ah, but my manners have displaced!" He held out a slender hand.

I shook it, and felt unseen power in his grip. "Pleased to meet you," I said. "My name is Doctor Atlie."

"Doctor Atlie. Yes. This is most beneficent of fortune."

I withdrew my hand. His skin was cold, and did not warm through touch. "What can I do for you, Mr Levi?" I said.

Montgomery James Levi rose up somehow to a higher height, and placed an oratory hand against his chest. He proclaimed, "Doctor Atlie, I know this might come to you as a surprise, as we do not know each other in the past, but please accept this as an act of destiny. My reason for contacting you is to assist me and also partake in this lifetime opportunity that presents itself right now."

The ward nurse—and all other observers—had since walked away, no doubt dismissing the weird cloaked figure as just one more problem they didn't need. What's more, a doctor of all people was keeping him occupied. Perhaps if I'd had a little more sense, perhaps if I'd been at the end of a shift instead of at the start—perhaps then I would not have turned to Montgomery James Levi and said, "Tell me what this means."

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