Rome - March 2004
Federico Forlani hung up tightening the handful, over the phone device, with a pale face, looking blank for a while. Then, feeling a discomfort, searched in his jacket pocket for a small glass jar with pills and took one in his palm.
"What happened?" asked Nestro Metsotzorno, who sat in an armchair in front of his, friend’ s and partner’ s desk, watching him takes the pill for his heart.
"Jacques de Molay... is dead!" said whispered, almost with despair.
"When?" asked Nestro with the same surprise and exasperation.
Federico full frustration, took the glass of water and drank it unwittingly, swallowing unintentionally the pill that he must keep it under his tongue and loosened his tie to breath better.
"Is that the matter? I cannot believe we had no time to talk to Jacques! We lost so much time! Franco Garcia awaits answers, results and we are at zero! "
"Calm down. We don’t want to happen to you anything! We will find the solution! We must think calmly..." Nestro tried to reassure him, but Federico was beside himself.
"Do you know how much money we lose? If we do not find the heirlooms, he will not only give us what he promised, but he will asks us back the advance he gave us and we don’t have all the money! We did the expansion of the store ..."
"Where has the heirlooms, Nestro!? While de Molay was at the institution, we got into the house! It was empty even from furniture! Even in the wardrobes in bedrooms, there was nothing else except hangers! And the nurse who was treating him, was unable to extract any information as friendly he approached him... Where he has it? In safe deposit box in a bank? I can’t think of anything else! "
Nestro stood above Federico who raved and seized his shoulder with the palm to take him back in order.
"Calm down Federico! I know all these! Calm down! We can do the best! "
"What do we do? Got something on your mind?"
"De Molay had a brother, as far as I know..." Nestro said.
"He has two kids! One girl and one boy. This boy we will search to find. Perhaps he is the recipient of an endowment. "
"Guesses... guesses... if… maybe..." said Federico disappointed.
Nestro looked at him annoyed. "Have you to suggest something better?" said Nestro with offensiveness.
"I don’t know... I cannot even think straight right now!"
"Well, then let me do it! You take it easy for now and I'll put man looking for some stuff and I'll inform you... "said Nestro and pulling his cell phone from the pocket of his jacket, walked towards the door.
Greece - April 2006
Christina walked hurriedly with her long blue dress to tangle her legs, but she did not care, she had become accustomed. The long scarf on her head was so big that bring a turn around her neck and draped her mouth too. Although the weather was warm enough for month October, she was pulled to use it as a blinder, to avoid looking around the barren landscape where she knew there were graves dug in the slopes of the opposite hill.
Over there, on the hill, was still the cross where they had crucified the Nazarene and his tomb with the rock moved aside, yawned empty and dark. Nobody had approached after the disappearance of the body. Other from fear, other from awe, no one had dared to close the grave, though that had pasted seven whole months from the rumor, been circulated, that he was resurrected.
She was also afraid. Every time she had to get out of the walls, she felt shivering only in the idea that she will passed from there, as far out as though it was the hill from the city.
She was approaching the gate of the big and high wall with battlements, when she heard someone calling her by her name. She turned to facing an elderly man with a surplice. At his chest was a red cross and on his head wore silver-colored hood. He had grayed long hair and beard that covered his chest and held reverently in his hands, covered with a cotton blanket, a baby.
He presented it to her and she took it in her hands involuntarily.
"Take care of it! His name is Jacques..." he told her and left.
Christina saw that he was smiling and she felt thrill.
Shocked, stirred in her sleep and woke up.
What a strange dream!
She opened her eyes to see the electronic clock digits at her bedside table, which informs her that it was six and a half in the morning.
An uninvited vomiting roused her and hastily she got into the toilet.
It was not the first time she had morning vomiting. In the last week, she was forced to bow above the sink three times.
She wondered if the dream had something to do with her situation.
Maybe the subconscious, trying to awaken her after having already delayed period, two months, but she did not want to admit that, after the recent split off from James, and she discovered that she was pregnant by him. She did not want to be forced to turn to him, because of a pregnancy, but she decided to visit a doctor for a confirmation.
She walked back into the bedroom and got dressed. Her mind wandered around the dream she saw as something peculiar, unable to reconcile the possible pregnancy, the walls, the Crusader, the crucifixion of Jesus and the wearing or even the date, flitted in the subconscious, without be expressed ...
Friday, October 13...!
IN THE GRIP OF TIME
Greece - Friday, October 13, 2006
"So, who was Saladin?" James asked his students.
Someone from the back rows of benches, raised his hand and James, gave him permission.
"Sultan of Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Palestine," replied the student and he tried to continue, but his teacher, interrupted him.
"And what was the full name?"
"Salah ant-Din Yusuf Agioump," replied the student.
James turned and looked at the children throughout the room.
"Nobody else wants to share his knowledge with us?" moching gentle and made nod to the upright student to sit and addressed to someone else.
"You! Tell me what the full name of Saladin means," the student stood up, trying to hide the feeling of boredom he felt.
"Virtue of Faith, Joseph, son of Job," he replied.
"Ah! See… how many things you know? "James teased them and showed another student on the opposite side of the hall to the next question. “And what Saladin did?"
"Fight against Christians Crusaders and in 1187 managed to capture Jerusalem after 88 years of occupation from the Franks..." replied the student effortlessly.
James, made nod to his student to sit and went at desk and consulted his book.
"Yes... well… in 1169, at the age of 31 years and after his uncle Sirkouch death, ordered to kill Saouar, the powerful vizier, master of Fatimah’s Egypt. So, he was both, commander of the Syrian army and vizier of Egypt. Theoretically, remained tributary, of Syrian emir Nouretin even though he was king of Egypt, but this relationship changed when the Emir died. In 1174, after he had created a small but disciplined army, dedicated to unite under his banner, all the Islamic territories of Syria, northern Mesopotamia, Palestine and Egypt and he succeeded. Gathered in his yard, scholars and preachers, founded schools and mosques and promoted writing projects with ethical content, especially jihad, the holy war. He achieved the unity and discipline of a large number of scattered and irregular forces. So he trapped and crushed in a single battle, the exhausted by thirst, army of Christians at Hattin, near Tiberius in northern Palestine. So, he occupied almost the whole kingdom of Jerusalem... I want to do a work for the kingdom of Jerusalem, namely Accra, Beirut, Sidon, Nazareth..." he looked at his disciples, "…do you note?" asked in more intense style and some indifferent, rushed to open at that moment their notebooks.
"Well, we said Accra, Beirut, Sidon, Nazareth, Caesarea, Nablus, Jaffa and Ashkelon, which occupied within three months from the army of Saladin. The work must be more than three pages. You have to get it ready on Monday. It will determine your score from it..."
The students resented with the work. They would spoil the whole weekend! Hearing the bell rose and with subdued noise, as they dragged their feet, came from the class and James, as he watched them, lost in his thoughts, influenced from the lesson for the holy wars. In his mind came a recent event he saw on the news where a young Muslim, belted with explosives, he enters a shop and operating the devise. He could not remember the number of victims. How many people died and how many wounded. But ultimately, what importance were the numbers?! There will be always victims! Over the years, Christians changed their mentality in anything to do with the holy war. Now try to solve the problems that created by the dialogue, using civil rather than attack, but in the past, both Muslims and Christians, in the name of religion have done incredibly crimes, even though Jesus said "love one another". Eventually, there will always be master and subservient, and power is a drug, whether religious or a political one, he philosophized mentally.
He turned page at the calendar he had on his desk.
The date he saw, although he had seen many times in the past, brought a strange chill in the spine...
...Friday, October 13, 2006...
He realized suddenly, through a strange cohesion thought that it was his birthday. Today was to turn forty-five.
The cell phone was ringing in the characteristic sound of the messages. It was from Christina.
He read: "Happy birthday. Live long and well."
He sat in a leather armchair office, behind his desk and cast his glance into emptiness. It was strange that she remembered him after so many months and at his birthday, which has forgotten even himself!
His mind, wandered loose, making a brief review of his recent life. He was on his own several months ago, after about one year relationship with the beautiful, brunette Christina.
He started unexpectedly, when she came to school one day to get her niece.
James saw her outside the school, standing next to her car and when her niece, Eugenia Maltese, approached her, exchanged whispers secrets, looking toward him.
Although the first impression he had, was very good, he did not feel willing to create any relationship with her, until Christina approached him, with her swaying gait and her warm hand, stretched for a handshake, which was heartily. And James responded.
"Christina Maltese," introduce herself. "I am Eugenia’s aunt. Sister, of her father," she explained.
"James..." Christina didn’t let him finish his sentence.
"I know..." her eyes shone with excitement for meeting him. “James Frantzekos, professor of history. Eugenia has told me so much about you! She is thrilled! "
After that, their relationship evolved rapidly and enthusiastically.
Christina was a woman with a lot of enthusiasm and spontaneity, but James discovered that he was not willing over this.
He had a good time with her, but he had the impression that their relationship was superficial. So he decided to put an end, before Christina dreams of a shared future life.
Although he tried to start this separation, he felt a little unsure about his decision. He prepared himself for last appointment, full of nervousness.
Christina was waiting for him for a long time at the restaurant and James get late deliberately, to send the message, of the impending separation and when he approached at their table, she looked at him grim. He reciprocated the same look, without a trace of repentance for his tardiness.
"It's the second time you are late in our date..." she said with mood complaints.
"Yeah... sorry..." he said without regret, trying to find a way to tell her of his intentions. He did not want to hurt her, relegating her.
Christina understood, that the relationship with this wonderful man has ended and, although she did not want it, she had to facilitate, for no one feel guilty.
"James... do you want to... break up?" asked him directly. He stared at her shocked and then he looked down. He did not expect her to be so insightful!
"I don’t... know..." he said feebly.
"Tell me, honestly! Do you think that we should break up?" she asked with tears in her eyes. James shook his head affirmatively, avoiding look at her, feeling worse than he was expecting. Christina immediately stood up from the table, holding back her tears with difficulty.
"Goodbye then..." she said softly, and she left his life, luckily for him, silently and painlessly!
Approximately eight months spent in the solitude of bachelor life but still he had not cleared up within, if the separation from Christina was the best decision he ever got. He tried to face it as a landmark and as his birthday approached, although he felt alone, he also felt fullness and an expectation for something important that was to come and was very close, he can feel it!
Suddenly, the path of memory, passed from the recollection, in a strange and bizarre journey, where daylight faded vaguely rapidly, creating darkness around him. Somewhere gleam some strange light flickering to fade like a gentle breeze blowing over it. In the darkness, the voices of the students from the courtyard became a queer whisper of some mob, spread around him, like a scream full of fear…
…the fear of betrayal....
James was found to walk shocked and puzzled, with a fear in his soul, inside this uninvited darkness where, at the light from the moon and torches, flashed swords, shields, spears and light armor and heard soldiers cries and the noise of steel, which rang on steel, as Muslim soldiers and knights in surplice, fighting hand to hand.
Archers marked ruthlessly and mercilessly with their arrows, unarmed monks, who rushed to save themselves, with goggled eyes from the horror, whispering prayers in their panic, until their sensitive flesh pierced by the arrowhead. The knights and soldiers, blinded by the fury of battle, in their effort to survive from the sharp blades of their opponents swords, trampling the helpless wounded men to die out slowly and decapitated or mutilated from the swiveled swords over them.
The mind of James, did not want to admit the massacre that happened.
He was standing beside a well and looked around him, the huge courtyard, with horror, regret and despair, because he could not stop by a magical movement that carnage. He felt insignificant in the face of death around him! Tears rushed from his eyes...
Another voice that came to his mind as a whisper, screamed.
"The king has betrayed us!"
James, instinctively turned toward the voice and saw in the light from the torches, which fell around with the lifeless bodies of men, something sparkles in the color of bronze, at the same time heard and metallic noise as the object hit the rim of the well and the splash of the water, when that was lost in the dark cavity.
A man next to James stretched out his hand, leaning in an illusive attempt to grab in the air the precious object, which had tried to save from the looting soldiers, sacrificing his life.
He whispered inanimate something incoherent and drooping, fell sideways at the wall of the well, at James’s feet.
He looked shocked at the blank stare of the man. He thought he heard him say the word "chalice", but he was not sure because the deceased had not spoken Greek.
The surplice with the red cross on the chest, was covered by a large red stain.
James, listening hooves horse instinctively raised his head. A soldier on horseback with light armor was pointing him with his bow, ready to let the arrow.
The instinct of self-preservation, forced him to come out of dormancy and move. Ducked to avoid the arrow and with a cry of horror and audacity, ran with a pale face, toward the enemy and leaving no room for the defense, grabbed him by the cloak, threw him from his horse and plunged in the chest his sword, which just at that moment he realized he was holding.
He heard the cry of pain, faded from the death rattle, along with the sound of bone-breaking to violence of sharp blades.
The blood splattered around him, stained his own surplice, but James found that it was already stained from the battle.
Look to the well where the precious object had dropped, but a keen and queer sound distracted him.
He looked around...
…his cell phone which had put it on his desk was ringing and the sun ample entered from the big windows, and he was standing. His body was captured from a strange tension, as he was ready to defend himself in an impending attack, with the vague impression that he was somewhere else at the time.
With a chill to sweep his being and the feeling that hovers into the time, looked at the screen of his mobile, which he stopped calling.
He breathed heavily, still captured of the curious shock of the events that preceded and read the message sent by the sister.
"Happy birthday! In the evening we are waiting at dad’s home. "
His parents and his sister will definitely have organized a party. He just hoped to be in a close family circle, because he felt very upset to behave normally with friends.
France - Friday, October 13, 2006
Philippe, Louis and Sylvie, laughingly exclaimed when they saw the cake that brought Jeanne, with three candles in the form of letters, one F, one L and one S, lit.
Philippe knew he would have a surprise birthday party this year, as he had every year.
The previous year, after the party held in the early evening, all went for dinner at the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. That was a surprise!
Jeanne had all gathered again in the house of Philippe, as last year, his brother, Louis, his sister Sylvie, their friends and cousins. She decorated the room with balloons and made the cake herself.
Jeanne, who was the soul of the event, placed the cake on the table. The group began singing the traditional birthday song. At the end the brothers blew out the candles together, among the applause of friends and Jeanne laughing, gave to Philippe a light kiss.
Then cut the cake into the serving plates and gave them to friends.
The phone rang. Jeanne replied and in a few minutes she called Philippe.
"For you, love," she said and she left the headset beside the device. Philippe holding the plate with the cake got the handset, kissed Jeanne, who departed and he answered.
"Philippe! I'm Robert…" hear out the voice of his cousin... "Happy Birthday..."
"Robert!" Exclaimed Philippe and turned to their friends and siblings, shouting happily, " fellows, it’s Robert!"
Sylvie’s eyes glowed by hearing his name and approached, while Philippe was still talking.
"How are you? You always are thinking us, although you are celebrating too. Happy birthday to you ..."
"Thank you," Robert’s voice sounded severe than the cheerful tone of Philippe.
"You know what we have today?" he asked.
"Our birthday..." laughed Philippe.
"Yes, but... its Friday..." said the cousin. Philippe, lost a little of the happy mood.
"What do you mean? Is it the first time?"
"Usually every six years, is the complete date of our birth," said Robert.
"What are you trying to tell me?" asked Philippe troubled.
"Did you have a strange incident today?"
"No! What do you mean "strange"?" Robert did not answer immediately.
"Nothing! Forget it! Happy birthday again! "
Sylvie reached out her hand eagerly and somehow awkward to get the headset and say... "Let me talk to him..." but she pushed the hand of Philippe, who held the dish with the cake, so the cake fell onto his trousers and he get mad. Jeanne began to laugh, and pulled him discreetly, away from Sylvie who had closed into her world, talking to Robert quietly.
"It's not funny! This pair costs 500 €...» he said nervy with his awkwardness sister.
"Go to the bathroom to throw some water. It will wash out immediately," she recommended.
"I'll be like wetted on my pants," he said quietly, but with nerve.
"Change it! You have to many clothes..." she replied amusing.
Philippe obeyed and in the bedroom, pulled out a new pair from the closet and then went to the toilet. With nervous movements cleaned as best he could the whipped cream and syrup.
Suddenly he heard someone calling him by his name, whispering.
He tried to remember if he had locked the door because he was sure he had done it.
With a chill to scan his body, he lifted his head to see in the mirror above the sink, shocked, a dark room and a man in a surplice standing behind him. His face was hidden in shadow as he was wearing a hood and Philippe could not see the features. Only the gray beard that covered his neck and chest was visible.
With the fear overwhelms his soul, he turned to face the unknown, but immediately felt the cold blade of a sword to penetrate the stomach.
Listen to a bone be broken and the sound of his flesh, which scraped by the metal and the pain made him faint. His legs numbed bent, helpless to restrain him upright. He screamed and kneeled, trying to grab the surplice of the unknown, but he was disappeared.
Steps and voices were heard in the bedroom, while his blood, lay at the floor tiles and messy his hair and cheek.
"Philippe! Are you okay?! Open..." Sylvie cried.
"It seems he locked from the inside," was heard to say, Louis.
So… he remember well... thought Philippe, as he was on the verge of nothingness, between light and darkness, unable to understand or realize what was happening.
He listen heavy knocks on the door and just before slipping into oblivion, he saw the door open violently and hitting the wall and his friends to come into the bathroom worried.
They saw Philippe, curled up on the tiles of the floor, with his eyes half shut and turned behind the eyelids and drool running from his open mouth.
"Why he is on the floor!?" bewildered Louis, but his look has not a simple question. He seemed more shocked than the rest. Unconsciously, without knowing why, he connected the image of his brother, with his own incident a week ago, when it appeared in the bedroom of his own home, a stranger with surplice and hood, but when his wife came in and lit the light, the stranger was disappeared.
"It seems that he fainted..." replied Jeanne troubled and although she was a nurse, she froze in front of the sight of Philippe.
"Throw him some water to recover," Louis took the initiative, returning to the present and putting into practice his words, threw water and a slap at Philippe’s face.
Philippe cried terrified as he recovered and looked around disoriented and with fear in his blue eyes.
"What... what... is going on?" he asked hoarsely.
"You fainted" replied the Vic.
Philippe looked at his stomach.
He was unhurt! Nor stain of blood, nor his shirt torn, nor his guts out...
...and yet, he felt it!
He felt the sword pierces him, he felt the pain, he heard the sound of the blade, which scraped his flesh as she cut, saw the blood spreading on the tiles...
Somehow, the subconscious, dictates that what happened to him, he had to keep it quiet for now, so, with the look of feared animal, left his friends to help him get up.
Stumble and supported by Louis, went silent from the bathroom and proceeded to the bedroom.
"Philippe, are you hurt anywhere?" asked Jeanne, who followed.
"No...why?" the tone of his voice was uncertain, sounds unstable.
"You cried... screamed like you hurt” she explained.
Philippe looked at her with an empty look, like she wasn’t present.
"What happened, love?" asked worried his girlfriend.
"He may drank more," concluded Louis, but in the timbre of his voice, his phrase, seemed uncertain and a hasty excuse.
"I want to lie... for a moment..." Philippe said, trembling wet.
"Yes. Lie to recover. Can I get you a coffee?" asked Vic.
"No. I just want to lie… just..." reiterated his friend.
As he tilt to the headrest, snatched from Jeanne’s hand.
"Don’t leave me alone," he said quietly. She looked at him in wonder, and sat beside the bed.
"What's happening? What’s the matter!?" she asked, but he closed his eyes, without being answered. Suddenly came to his mind, the conversation he had with Robert. Weird incident, he said! Like what just happened?
Louis walked out of the room listening to his phone ringing. The others followed him, but he came back after a while with impatience.
"Jeanne, Philippe, I’ve got to go! My mother in law, called out from the hospital, Narda begets..." he said with childlike enthusiasm, referring to his wife and forgetting everything else.