John Fish B.Sc.Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)
ROWSE LITERARY AGENCY JOHNNY MAGNESIUM by Paul Read
ROWSE LITERARY AGENCY
e-mail: Paul Read
Synopsis ‘Johnny Magnesium’ is the tale of a young man who journeys to Indonesia and finds himself sent to Yogyakarta to do a survey on furniture. Or so it would seem. At the Yogyakarta airport he has a vision of a young lady who tells him he must continue with his resonant body therapy. This is a form of meditation he has developed by himself and consists of humming to the various natural frequencies of his bodily organs and his body as a whole. He forgets the vision. But as he continues his RBT he teaches himself to levitate and to cure people.. However it is because of this that he is forced to flee to Kuala Lumpur to find the Hotel of a Thousand Moonbeams on the Street of the Blind Masseurs. While he is there he hones his levitation powers under the auspices of the elderly Mr Wu and Suzie who is from a parallel universe and whose friend Siti is trapped in a wormhole. Johnny is forced to flee when the hotel is attacked by the Russian mafia. He returns to Jakarta, where the Russians take him prisoner. He escapes and returns to Yogyakarta where he has to find six tones which will unlock the wormhole in which Siti is trapped. Three of these tones come from the palace in Solo (Surakarta) and the gamelan there. Johnny finally gets the whole six tones played together and the wormhole is opened. To enable him to sound the six frequencies, Johnny has to free the great gong ‘Cinnamon Thunder’ which has repercussions for Indonesia. Finally, he and Siti are reunited and Siti and Suzie decide to go into show biz. Sample Chapter Chapter One
‘Johnny Magnesium’ is the tale of a young man who journeys to Indonesia and finds himself sent to Yogyakarta to do a survey on furniture. Or so it would seem. At the Yogyakarta airport he has a vision of a young lady who tells him he must continue with his resonant body therapy. This is a form of meditation he has developed by himself and consists of humming to the various natural frequencies of his bodily organs and his body as a whole. He forgets the vision. But as he continues his RBT he teaches himself to levitate and to cure people..
However it is because of this that he is forced to flee to Kuala Lumpur to find the Hotel of a Thousand Moonbeams on the Street of the Blind Masseurs.
While he is there he hones his levitation powers under the auspices of the elderly Mr Wu and Suzie who is from a parallel universe and whose friend Siti is trapped in a wormhole.
Johnny is forced to flee when the hotel is attacked by the Russian mafia. He returns to Jakarta, where the Russians take him prisoner.
He escapes and returns to Yogyakarta where he has to find six tones which will unlock the wormhole in which Siti is trapped. Three of these tones come from the palace in Solo (Surakarta) and the gamelan there. Johnny finally gets the whole six tones played together and the wormhole is opened.
To enable him to sound the six frequencies, Johnny has to free the great gong ‘Cinnamon Thunder’ which has repercussions for Indonesia. Finally, he and Siti are reunited and Siti and Suzie decide to go into show biz.
Once upon a time there was a young man named Johnny Magnesium. He was not concerned about his forename (and we shall say ‘forename’ rather than ‘Christian name’ because we are not, after all, concerned with religion, at least not yet), but he was concerned about his family name.
‘Magnesium’ was not the name of his father, nor was it the name of his mother. Yet in all legality the name ‘Johnny Magnesium’ was his and it was that to which he answered and it was that name which was appended to all his documents. If he did not use a pseudonym to defraud or cheat anyone, he was free to use any name as he wished. He could have called himself ‘John Smith’, but people would have been suspicious. I hope you understand.
JM is in his early twenties, a flicker of a smile usually to be found lurking around the corners of his mouth; he’s thick-set but not overly so, hair verging on blond; and he is a little naïve as belies his age. He is a good hearted chap and not given to excesses of wine or women (well, not too often). He is not overly given to singing either although he does hum. As we shall see.
When the world was quiet and there was nothing better to do, usually on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, Johnny Magnesium would walk to short distance to the main road, then flag down a bus to take him to Yogyakarta’s airport. The journey was not long, about half an hour, because, the day being Sunday, there was little traffic, and the hoards of university students who usually clog the traffic with their small motorbikes were still at their boarding houses.
The bus Johnny usually took was not air conditioned, but it was as quick as a taxi and much cheaper. Sometimes Johnny’s fellow passengers engaged him in conversation, which was fine; at other times he was just left to himself which was also fine.
Each time Johnny made the journey, his heart quickened when the bus reached the top of the fly-over and the road turned to the right for the descent to Jalan Solo. There always seemed a chance, a very small one, that the bus would fail to negotiate the bend correctly and would plunge to the road below. But it never did. The view of the mosaic below of red-brown roof tiles and the green of gardens, bamboo and trees never ceased to fascinate him, and as the fly-over descended, he was able to peer into the windows of the upper floors of the tall houses that lined the road. Johnny did not like heights.
Once at the airport, Johnny M. would alight at departures then walk the short distance to the arrivals area where he would find a vacant chair wherever he could, sit down and light a cigarette. Those were the days when smokers were not vilified and treated as social outcasts. Mind you, if you live in any big city in Indonesia it doesn’t matter if you smoke or not – the pollution is so bad that it’s all the same in the end. So you might as well be positive about it and smoke anyway.
When Johnny had finished one cigarette, he would expel all the air from his lungs, take several deep breaths to relax, and then he would hum quietly to himself. Once he had emptied his mind, he would broadcast the following thought message: If there are any aliens passing through, I am a friend. Come and sit with me.
He would sit there for an hour or two, happily engaged in his pursuit, not bothering anyone, and indeed he had had many interesting conversations as a result of his quest and had met: an Indonesian student who wanted to practice English, a person who knew his redeemer livethed, a man with high cheek bones and a pencil moustache who had tried to sell him a house, several young ladies whose repute remained to be ascertained, one whose did not, an agent for jamu – traditional Indonesian medicine, and an old Chinese lady who was in the wrong terminal. She wanted departures and scurried off a great rate of knots when Johnny told her that her flight had begun boarding ten minutes before.
People are always more communicative than usual at airports. They’re anxious to tell you where they have been or where they are going: people are more approachable and more willing to share. That’s what Johnny found, anyway.
To be sure, Johnny had met many interesting people but had yet to encounter anyone who could pass the next test. This was another thought broadcast: Touch your left ear. No, I tell an untruth. He did happen upon someone who passed the second test, but this particular person, a purveyor of modern Danish table wear, who was waiting for his daughter to arrive from Singapore, failed so miserably on the further three tests that Johnny abruptly stood up and walked away to hide his disappointment.
So that’s what Johnny Magnesium frequently did of a Sunday afternoon. Strange, you may think. But there were a lot of other folk in Yogyakarta doing much stranger things than that on a Sunday afternoon. Johnny did not understand the reason why he went to the airport to contact aliens, he just did it because … because…
Let us pause with our story for a moment to consider the sequence of events that led to Johnny’s arrival in the situation in which we now find him.
After completing his university studies some years previously, Johnny had gone wandering as some people do after having their heads crammed with information for a number of years, and who need time to clear their minds of the mire of education and to see the world from a different perspective. He had completed a thesis for his philosophy degree which he called ‘I Eat Therefore I am, I Think’ and was extremely disappointed when his professor disagreed with the conclusion in which the heroine dispatches her lover with a large leg of cold turkey. The professor said this was moving into the realm of existentialism and could not be confined to the realms of the anti-Descartian position which Johnny had assumed.
Johnny considered Europe too tame for his demeanor, South America too far, Africa too primitive, China too vast, Russia too cold, America too American.
Having eliminated most of the world as the embarkation point for his travels, he finally chose Hong Kong where he worked for a shipping company for one year before deciding that the job was too boring. Anyway the territory was too small and now it was under the control of the Chinese government it seemed to have lost some of its oriental mystery. It had become just another high rise shopping mall. Too crowded, too claustrophobic, its future too uncertain.
By virtue of his contacts in the shipping world, Johnny had had some communication with a furniture exporting company, Goldings Holdings, which was based in the city of Semarang in central Java, Indonesia, and in particular with a young lady named Miss Siti who had urged him to visit.
‘You must come to visit in Semarang,’ wrote Miss Siti in a covering letter to the payment of an invoice for two forty-foot containers, ‘because you must helping me with my English and as well together we will have much fun.’
Johnny was not sure what Miss Siti was implying, but an invitation was an invitation, after all. He felt some strange attraction to this person he had never met and resolved that if he was ever down that way he would visit her. From that grit of an idea there was to develop the pearl that would shape the future of the vast chain of islands and archipelagos that calls itself Indonesia.
Johnny knew nothing about Indonesia. He had heard of Bali, of course, and Jakarta, but the rest of the country was a mystery that remained to be solved. So he finally quit his job in Hong Kong and flew to Bali where he spent a couple of nights adjusting himself to new sights and smells, walking the streets, trying to avoid the numerous peddlers of knickknacks and thingummies, ashtrays, watches, cigarettes, ties, shirts etc, drinking the odd foaming brown and talking to the odd young lady here and there. Some of them were very odd and he suspected they were not ladies at all. Adam’s apples were a sure sign of forbidden fruit.
What Johnny saw of Indonesia he liked and he decided he’d better spend some time there. It was all well and good being a tourist, but he would like to stay longer and to do that he would have to get a job. The new tourist visa system seemed to be designed to discourage visitors: maybe the voracious immigration men were not content with the money they were already making in bribes from: businessmen, overstayed tourists, those who lived in the country for social reasons, foreign women married to Indonesian men, illegal immigrants, boat people and the ilk.
Then Johnny remembered Miss Siti at the factory in Semarang, consulted a map, packed his belongings and took a taxi to the bus terminal in Denpasar. It seemed to be the right thing to do at the time. There was no rhyme nor reason to his decision. Was there?
In Denpasar, he boarded a bus -- an ordinary bus with comfortable airline type seats and air conditioning – nothing to write home about – and he alighted in Surabaya seven hours later in the middle of the night with a dry mouth.
Even at that time – half past four, the pre-dawn hours – the place was buzzing in the harsh glare of floodlights and the softer yellow kerosene lamps of the stalls: people were walking, running, scurrying to and fro, passengers alighting from and getting onto buses, people with parcels and packages, bags, suitcases, boxes tied with plastic string, pushing trolleys, looking for buses, catching taxis, walking – all going to or coming from somewhere.
Several young men offered to carry Johnny’s back-pack but he politely refused. The clothes therein were the only ones he possessed and while he was ever of a generous nature, he had grown attached to his clothes and did not wish to see them disappear.
After his long journey, Johnny was hungry so he sat at one of the many food stalls that lined the sides of the terminal and consumed a cup of tea, and a plate of rice, a fried chicken leg and some sort of vegetable that could have been leaves from a tree. It is enough to say that they were green and filled a space.
After he had finished his meal, Johnny sought the advice of the food seller on how to get to Semarang. This was not easy, because the food seller did not speak English and Johnny did not speak Indonesian, but after some mutterings and gesticulations, Johnny was pointed in the direction of a battered old Trojan of a bus which had the words Surabaya-Semarang emblazoned across its windscreen in large gold letters. This he mounted and, after another twenty minutes, the bus finally departed -- its only half muffled exhaust pipe making long, low resonant notes every time the driver changed gear..
For the first hour or so Johnny was filled with wonder. The bus was certainly a fine example of minimalism – the whole of the floor had been re-welded, there were no rails above the seats where he could put his luggage, no rails for passengers to hold on to, it had no doors or windows to speak of, and the rubber in the seats which had once been soft and springy had now compressed into a solid mass which gave little comfort. It was a perfect example of transport which could get from A to B as minimally as possible.
There were only a few passengers on board when the bus departed and Johnny was able to place his back-pack on the seat beside him and use it as a sort of pillow. However this situation was only a temporary one because the bus stopped here and there, and more and more passengers got on. Finally, after a command from the conductor, a swarthy man with a thick moustache and wearing a grubby T-shirt and equally grubby jeans, Johnny had to nurse his luggage. Despite a suggestion that he place it in the back of the bus, Johnny preferred to leave his bag where he could see it. He might have been born a cabbage, but he wasn’t that green.
But after a while the cold of the night air, his discomfort, and the passengers pushing against him were all forgotten because there came a most strange rumbling feeling from his stomach and the last hour of his journey was spent in exquisite agony as he tried to prevent himself from besmirching both himself and his fellow passengers. He tried his resonant humming and that worked to a small degree, but the rumblings in his stomach were reaching volcanic proportions that heralded an impending eruption.
When the bus finally arrived in Semarang, Johnny lurched and shouldered his way off, pointing to his rear end and making moaning noises, much to the incredulity and amusement of passengers and staff who had never seen a foreigner behaving in such a manner before. It was only by good fortune that he saw a sign for a toilet to which he ran, ignoring the young chap sitting at the front who asked for entrance money, and finally found the relief he needed. He was so relieved in fact that he gave the toilet attendant a five thousand rupiah note which was about ten times too much.
By now it was mid-morning and Johnny’s stomach was holding its own as it were. In fact the relief he felt was so great that he wandered out of the bus terminal, not knowing where he was headed and not really caring. The comfort he felt, the myriad of sights and sounds of a new bus terminal and his inherent wariness at being in the presence of so many strangers all combined to cause his blink rate to decrease and he entered a sort of hypnoidal trance.
He was thus wandering totally unaware when a car nearly ran him down. It was a large black automobile, a tribute to Teutonic technical abilities and automotive integrity. It brushed Johnny just hard enough to make him trip and fall over, squirming, legs in the air, like a landed beetle on his big blue back pack.
If the victim had been a local, the driver would simply have driven on, winding down the window just far enough to curse the unfortunate for his lack of eyesight and awareness. However, as the unfortunate was a foreigner, the driver immediately decided on a more apologetic approach -- he quickly opened the door, jumped from the security of his leather and walnut, and helped Johnny to his feet.
‘Sorry,’ he gulped. ‘You come. I help.’ He thus exhausted his knowledge of English so he extended his hand and introduced himself.
‘Sutomo,’ he explained, smiling and nodding in embarrassment.
Johnny was shaken and a little dazed, so much so that he felt no anger – if anything he felt himself to blame for the accident.
‘You come,’ Sutomo repeated, urging Johnny to the rear of the limousine and opening the door.
‘No, I’m okay,’ said Johnny, brushing some dust from his jeans and wanting to forget about the whole thing. But by this time, his back pack had been thrust into the rear of the car and Johnny had no recourse but to follow and to trust himself to luck. Was it luck, or was it design?
The car sped silently through the streets, dodging delinquent becaks, imprudent pedestrians and other obstacles wheeled, footed and pawed, until it came to the hills that surrounded the city, and up which it sped and purred with barely a change of gears.
Thus it was that, after a ride of about thirty minutes, Johnny came to Goldings Holdings, the very destination he had been seeking.
Johnny was wondering what he had gotten himself into when Sutomo finally brought the car to a halt and Johnny found himself in front of a high, solid gate which was set in the center of a very high, very solid wall extending as far as he could see. A large sign read, in black and white letters: ‘Goldings Holdings, Fine Furniture’.
Sutomo sounded the horn twice, a twin-toned electric horn as befitting such a motor, and almost at once a security guard appeared from a small doorway on one side, saluted pushed the gate open and ushered them through.
To Johnny’ right there was another high wall with an archway and to his left lay a long building set in gardens, and there were other smaller buildings dotted around the perimeter. The security guard ushered him in the direction of the long building and when he entered he found himself in a waiting room. The guard motioned for him to sit. He sat. And it being a waiting room, he waited.
Finally, after five or so minutes, a young lady of most generous proportions approached him.
‘Mr Golding will see you now, sir. Come this way please.’ She smiled at him coyly and Johnny rose and followed her which was a pleasant thing to do because the blue jeans she was wearing seemed to have been sprayed on, and it was only the color of what lay beneath which was the only thing left to the imagination.
‘Miss Siti?’ Johnny ventured.
‘Who she?’ responded the young lady of the undulating stern, and ushered him into a large air-conditioned office.
Mr Golding had the no-nonsense manner of a man whose time was money. He was of medium size, and was dressed rather formally – a striped shirt and tie, gray trousers and brown brogues. His eyes were piercing blue-gray and his large round eye-glasses gave him the appearance of an owl which was about to pounce on its prey. His fingers were long and the nails manicured and polished. He was finishing some paperwork which he signed with an old-fashioned fountain pen. He noticed Johnny watching him.
‘I like fountain pens,’ he said, indicating that Johnny should sit in a replica of a Chippendale scrolled back chair which stood in front of the King Louis 16th desk. ‘When you write with them, you write with a purpose, not just to scrawl. Of course you have to be careful, but the result is worth it, don’t you think?’
Mr Golding continued without waiting for Johnny to reply: ‘If you had been here a while ago, I would not have been here because I had an important meeting with one of my major suppliers. And I must leave in ten minutes or so, so let’s get down to things.’
‘Well,’ Johnny replied, ‘actually I’m …’ He had no time to explain the circumstances of the accident at the bus terminal before Mr Golding interrupted him.
‘A tour of the factory. Quick one, mind you. Must go soon. Follow me.’ And with that he stood up and headed out the door. Johnny followed him into the rear of the building which resembled an aircraft hangar in size. But that was all. Most of the space was taken up by furniture – chairs, tables, fireplaces, candle sticks, picture frames – all in different shapes and sizes. If there was anything to be made of wood, you could bet your whatsits that it was there.
Groups of men and women sat on low stools and used sandpaper to smooth table legs, groups of men were spraying furniture using air guns, other groups were repairing, jointing, filling, sawing, carving -- God knows what. But it was all wood.
‘Stock,’ said Golding dismissively. He had an accent Johnny could not place. ‘Lot of stock. Too much. Got to get rid of it. New factory soon. That’s money sitting there. Dead money. Money’s no good unless you’re using it.’
At the far end of the building, they exited through a doorway to find a shipping container being loaded. Furniture had been wrapped with thick cardboard to prevent damage and was being stacked inside the huge aluminum box -- rows of chairs stacked on top of each other, tables squeezed on their sides; every available space was filled – space is money.
It seemed to Johnny that there was still a lot of wasted space, a lot of air in the container which should be filled with wood, and he said so.
‘Couldn’t you assemble the chairs at the other end?’ he asked Mr Golding. ‘I mean, if the chairs were in one dimension, as it were, you could get a whole lot more in.’
‘What? Reassemble …?’
Mr Golding started to ridicule Johnny’s idea. Then it dawned on him that the whole notion was feasible. He scratched the top of his head and thought. Why not? On one container he could save twenty to twenty five percent in space, which meant an equal amount more product and a similar amount in profit.
Mr Golding had been advised that someone like Johnny would be coming and that he should pay particular attention to him. But he had not expected this young chap to march into his factory and revolutionize his shipping procedures just like that. He took a hand phone from his pocket, jabbed at some numbers and spoke rapidly in Indonesian.
‘Good idea’, he said briskly. ‘We’ll have some lunch. Come up to the house.’ The appointment that had been so urgent before seemed to have disappeared.
Johnny followed him back through the factory and outside to the archway that led off from the right hand side of the entrance, and up some stone stairs. Behind the wall lay Golding’s house, an old rambling colonial affair, surrounded by a large verandah which was furnished with fine examples of the company’s products – a wide Java bench covered with batik pillows, a long mahogany table, a low coffee table with a glass top, various chairs of different shapes and sizes; the walls were decorated with long hand-woven hangings depicting stylized humans, white on blue backgrounds.
They sat at the long teak table which a servant proceeded to laden with rice (naturally), chicken pieces cooked in a sesame sauce, stir fried vegetables, and some sort of eggs done with a curry sauce.
‘Tea will be fine,’ Johnny replied. It was only in exceptional circumstances that he drank alcohol at that time of the day and he could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he had done so.
‘You work in furniture before?’ Golding asked, delicately withdrawing a desolate chicken bone from his mouth with his thumb and forefinger and placing it on the plate in front of him..
‘It would all depend on the joints.’ said Golding to himself. ‘But the cost of labor at the other end … Yes, I think it would work. Now tell me about yourself.’
‘Well, I’m twenty five years old …’
‘That’s all well and good,’ Golding broke in. ‘I can find that out from your passport. Tell me about yourself.’
‘I hum,’ replied Johnny.
‘I hum,’ Johnny repeated, taking a sip of his tea. ‘I can vibrate my whole body or any part of it by humming. It feels good.’
‘And where do you hum?’
‘Oh, anywhere. It doesn’t have to be loud. I find it eases stress. I call it Resonant Body Therapy.’
‘And how did you discover this humming, er, therapy?’
‘Singing in the bathroom.’
‘I see.’ Golding, obviously not knowing what to make of this. He changed the subject. ‘Do you like men or women?’
‘Women,’ Johnny replied. This line of questioning seemed to be getting a little out of line, so Johnny added: ‘And you?’
Golding muttered something intelligible, cleared his throat and added: ‘I’m Dutch, you see,’ as if that were an obvious excuse for whatever he had said.
‘I would never have known,’ Johnny replied.
Their meal continued in peace.
When they had finished eating, Golding spoke thus: ‘I can use you, Johnny. You’re a bright young man. You are going to save me a lot of money with that idea of yours. One dimension, eh? I like it. Stay here for a couple of days. Look the operation over. Then we’ll see. I’ll make it worth your while.’
‘It seemed a good idea at the time,’ said Johnny.
‘What?’ Goldman asked.
‘Never mind. Just humming.’
That afternoon, alone in his office, Mr Golding was talking on his hand-phone.
‘That’s right,’ he said, speaking softly but clearly. ‘He says his name is Magnesium. I am rather sure that he is the one. He talked about his humming… That’s right. I’ve offered him a job and I think he’ll take it … Even if it were not for your plans I think I would have hired him. He’s a clever young chap. Saved me a lot of money already … Right. I’ll have someone watching him. We cannot be too careful at this stage. I think I will send him to Yogyakarta until things are ready for him. He won’t stand out so much there.’
Golding talked a little more about business and the weather, then hung up. He did not know why they were interested in this Magnesium person, but he had his orders.
The next night, after Johnny had spent the day prowling the factory, looking at stock, seeing trucks arrive and watching their cargo being delivered, documents exchanged, furniture stacked, stocked and stored, Mr Golding formally offered Johnny a job.
They were sitting on the verandah in easy chairs which were made from mahogany, and were an improvement on the original design by virtue of two lap joints and a miter joint which made them stronger in the load-bearing timbers. The verandah was cast with the honey shadows from light behind them and the darkness, the warm night air and the stars in front. There was a hint of jasmine and orange blossom scent, and the odd small thing or two flew through the air and danced its dance of death with the light bulbs.
‘Yogyakarta,’ he informed Johnny over a post-prandial brandy. They had dined on roast leg of lamb Provençal and had demolished an acceptable Claret, followed by fresh fruit, nuts and cheese. It was not quite the Oriental fare Johnny had been expecting, and was most welcome.
‘Not all my furniture is export. Sell locally, too -- big shop in Jakarta. But I need to know what’s happening in the business. What my competitors are doing. Needs someone bright like you. Call it research. If you understand me.’
Golding mentioned a figure and Johnny sniffed.
‘All right then,’ said Golding, and he mentioned a higher figure, adding that he would pay for Johnny’s accommodation.
‘Nearly,’ said Johnny.
‘You’re pricing yourself out of the market,’ retorted Golding, refilling their glasses.
‘The market I was asked to enter,’ Johnny reminded him, took a lungful of fifty year old brandy, then sniffed again.
‘You drive a hard bargain.’
‘Pay peanuts, get monkeys.’
‘Okay, you win, Mr Magnesium. But I may call on you for other work as well.’
‘He who pays the piper… By the way, Mr Golding. What about Miss Siti? I mean it was because of her I came here and I haven’t met her yet.’
‘Who?’ Golding asked. He looked uncomfortable and pushed his glasses up on to his nose.
‘We have no one by that name working here,’ he said abruptly. ‘Never mind. Your job is Yogyakarta. Something’s going on there. Find out.’
Johnny spent one more day learning what he could of the systems at Goldings Holdings and then bade farewell to Mr Golding.
‘Give my regards to Miss Siti,’ said Johnny as they shook hands. ‘She was, after all, the only reason I came here.’
‘Ah, yes. The mysterious Miss Siti,’ replied Mr Golding blankly. ‘As I said, Mr Magnesium, we don’t have, and indeed, have never had, anyone of that name working here. And I make it a habit to know all of my staff.’
As Johnny was driven away to the airport, Mr Golding punched some numbers into a hand phone.
‘Yes,’ he said to someone on the other end. ‘Yes, he’s the one. Looking for Miss Siti, too. He’s on his way to Yogyakarta. Don’t worry. No one can possibly know.’
The plane which Johnny boarded at Semarang airport was a small one – to Johnny anything less than a Jumbo jet was small – so he hummed resonantly to himself once he had locked his seat belt, and found this most efficacious in dispelling the stress he experienced at finding himself enclosed in a narrow aluminum tube and the prospect of being propelled through the air at a great rate of knots.
However, no amount of humming could dispel the terror that filled him as the plane came in to land at Yogyakarta airport because the aircraft not only bounced and bumped, but also slipped sideways back and forth as it came in to land. When Johnny finally staggered from the plane and stood on dry land again he felt like doing a Pope and kissing the ground, such was his happiness and gratitude at still being alive and standing on terra firma.
Thus, when he exited to the arrivals hall, he was still feeling a little dizzy, a little faint, and a voice in his head told him that he should walk over to the seats and sit down for a moment. It was not a feeling, there was someone speaking to him. But there was no one there.
Nevertheless, he did as the voice commanded – he walked over to the lines of plastic chairs and sat down. Then the same voice told him to scratch his left ear, which he also did. It was a soft, low female voice, as soft as a rose petal and as sweet as honey. He was sure he had heard the voice before but he could not place it. The voice commanded him to stand up and sit down again. Once more he complied. Then he was told the final order: ‘Take off your left shoe and place your left leg over your right.’ Johnny was feeling a little nonplussed by now, be he did as he was bade.
‘Who are you?’ he asked the voice with a thought.
‘Look to your right,’ it replied.
He did so and there, staring at him and smiling, was a young lady of beautiful countenance, a long, oval face that Modigliani could have painted. Black almond pools for eyes; pink, inviting lips with a hint of a smile at the corners; hair long, black and glinting shine; a blouse of deep blue silk in a Chinese fashion that bulged acceptably. A coat of some sort of light silvery material was draped over one arm.
‘Who is it that speaks to me in this manner?’ Johnny asked, blinking a few times to make sure the vision did not disappear. He was so affected by the woman before him that his powers of speech faltered and grew a little flowery.
‘You know my name,’ she replied, smiling, ‘but you know me not. I am not of this world.’
‘What do you want?’
‘I can’t tell you now. But your humming is of the utmost importance. You must continue if you are to free the gong. You are the only hope.’
‘My humming? Your only hope?’
‘Yes, I will contact you again when the time is right. Until then it’s better that you forget you met me.’
‘Who are you?’
‘My name is CT, but people call me Siti. But we have to be careful. See that man over there, the one in the leather jacket …’
Johnny turned to look to the place where her eyes had pointed, but he could see no one matching the description. He stared, but could see no one at all.
‘Where?’ he said, turning back towards her. But she was gone. The seat next to him was empty. Had she ever been there? Or had he been imagining things?
Now, Johnny had never experienced this sort of thing before, voices in his head, and it passed through his mind that a young French lady who had had similar experiences had been burned at the stake for her troubles. The stress of the flight, that must have been it. He hadn’t heard a voice at all; he had seen nobody.
Despite having convinced himself that the whole thing was a dream, the experience left Johnny a little shocked and it was some minutes before he could stand up and wander out to find a taxi.
Sitting in that taxi and being driven up on to the fly-over, Johnny thought about the flight from Semarang and shuddered. Flying in the big jets was okay, but the little ones? Wow, they could really do things to your brain. And that slip-streaming!
By the time Johnny’s taxi was entering the outskirts of the city of Yogyakarta, he had convinced himself that he indeed had been dreaming about a beautiful young Indonesian woman who spoke to him in his head. He had imagined the whole thing.