All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Ten

Sela was sure that she had stirred something in Roy.  She knew he was watching her as she strolled back into the house and a backward glance, accompanied with a beguiling smile made Roy blush.

The next morning, Sela dressed and went for her usual garden visit.  As she swung back and forth, she searched for Roy in the distance but didn’t see him.  As she got up and started walking, another man appeared and said “good morning, ma’am.  My name is Earl.”

Sela was confused and asked “where’s Roy?”  Earl said “I’m sorry ma’am.  I wouldn’t know.”

“Why are you here?” Sela asked.  Earl said “I’m here at the King’s request.”  Sela asked “his request to do what?” Earl said “to be your guardian.”

Sela was angry and repeated, “where is Roy?”  Earl repeated, “I’m sorry ma’am.  I wouldn’t know.”  Sela said “I want to know where Roy is.  Find out.”  Earl was silent as Sela made her demands and she sensed that he was not going to be swayed by her feminine wiles.

From the window, the King was watching and summoned Earl.  Standing before the King, Earl was asked what Sela was talking about.  Earl said “she wanted to know where Roy is, Sir.”

“And what did you tell her?” asked the King.  “I told her that I wouldn’t know Sir,” said Earl.  The King said “I think Roy was becoming a liability, in that he was getting too close to her.  Can I be assured that you will not be making the same mistake?”  With an appropriate bow of respect, Earl said “you can be assured, Sir.”

The King surprised Earl when he said “bring her up here.  I think it’s time that we met.”

Earl escorted Sela to the King’s “tower.”  As they walked in, the King said “that will be all.”  Earl, with the same bow of respect, left the room and closed the door.

The King had his back to Sela.  Stinging from the absence of Roy, Sela asked “who are you?”  The King answered,”I might ask you the same thing.”

She said “I am called Sela, but I don’t know who I am and I don’t know who you are.  Who are you?”

The King, turned and said “you might call me your benefactor.”  Sela quipped, “so I should call you what…Ben?”  Her insouciance angered the King but he found her quick wit intriguing.  He walked toward her and invited her to sit.

Sela obliged and watched as the Kings’ eyes traversed her long legs from hip to ankle as she crossed them.

He said “I think we should get to know each other a little better.”  Sela looked at him and said “how can that possibly happen?  My name may not be my real name but at least I have a name.  You either don’t have a name or you refuse to tell me and if you think I’m going to call you “the King” like your subordinates, then you are truly mistaken.”  She smiled as if she had one-upped him and said “yes, Roy told me that everyone refers to you as ‘the King’.”

He didn’t appear to be amused but it was obvious that she had piqued his interest.

In truth, Sela could understand why he might be called “the King.”  He was beautiful.  His dark, close-cropped hair, tan skin and piercing pale green eyes, lent an air of mystery and potential danger in an exciting way.  The way he carried himself, his almost whisper of a voice and the dominion that he oversaw, left only two things missing.  A crown and a throne.

Sela again asked “what’s your name?”  The King smiled but didn’t answer.  Sela said “understand one thing.  I am not going to call you ‘the King’.”  He whipped around and said “and you understand one thing.  You are here at my pleasure and you don’t tell me what you are and aren’t going to do.”

Sela stood and defiantly said “fine, BEN.  Help me find out who I am and I will be happy to leave…at your pleasure, of course.”

They were playing mental Chess with each other and it seemed to titillate them.

 

To be continued________

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Nine

Sela believed that she had found her silent champion but Roy’s feelings and actions had not escaped the King’s notice.

As Sela continued to play with Roy’s emotions, she was tasting freedom.  She was not allowed to leave the grounds but he was and she saw him as her ticket out of there.

She would have to win his complete loyalty and make him want to enjoy that same sweet taste of freedom…and they could not do it under the auspices of the King.

Sela had already begun to feel like she, Dr. Burt, Roy, Greta and all the other silent people in the “kingdom” were part of a “glass menagerie,” kept for the Kings’ pleasure.  She had heard the whispers and she had seen how everyone stood on ceremony.  It was like none of them had an identity of their own.  They were just a small part of a whole and that whole was the King.

She began with a casual question to Roy.  “Could you just leave anytime you wanted?”  His first response was “actually, I’ve never given it any thought.”

Sela looked at him and said “but there’s a whole world out there.  Aren’t you curious?”  Roy surprised her when he said “there’s a whole world here as well, and it’s a very good world.  We, who live here, want for nothing and we’re treated very well.”

“But,” Sela continued.  “Don’t you feel almost like you’re in servitude?”  Roy answered exactly as Sela had hoped.  “We are free to come and go as we please.  We’re not prisoners and certainly not servants in the sense that you mean.”

Sela walked over to Roy and looked at him with beckoning eyes as she said “you can leave and you could take me with you.  We can make a plan.  We can have a life together.”

If Roy, even for a second, believed that would be a possibility, he didn’t reveal his thoughts to Sela.  “Do you realize what you are asking of me?  You are asking me to betray the King.  You are asking me to put my life at risk…to leave the life I’ve known for most of my life.”

Sela gently put her arm on his chest and said “do you really think you’re living?  No matter how you much you posture, you are his servant.  You are at his beck and call.  And remember, you said that you would risk your life for me.”

Roy said “I did say that but you have forgotten the circumstances surrounding that statement.”

Sela sat down on the swing and said “Roy?  Where exactly does the King get his money?  Did he inherit it?  I mean, I  never see him go to work in the traditional sense.”

The look Roy gave her left no doubt that she had crossed the mark and she would get no answer.  As if she had never pried, Sela cavalierly tried a different ploy.  Able to call misty eyes on command, Sela walked over to Roy and said “I need to know if anyone is looking for me.  Don’t you know that I need to know if I am missed?  I had to belong to someone.  Wouldn’t you want to know?”

As she moved closer, she said “don’t misunderstand.  I have been treated like royalty here.  You have been so kind and helpful but I need to know and I need you to help me.”

Sela’s charm and beauty had certainly captured Roy and he was finding it more and more difficult to resist, especially when she was playing the “I’m so vulnerable…please take care of me” card.

 

 

To be continued_______________

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Eight

As he walked into the house, Sela screamed “I don’t know who I am!  Do you hear me?  I don’t know who I am!”

Roy walked over and tried to calm her down.  Sela looked at him and asked “who is that man?”  Roy said “he owns this house and these gardens.  He owns everything as far as your eye can see.  This is his kingdom.”

“But who is he?” she asked.

Roy gave just the slightest hint of a smile when he said “we call him the King.”  Sela quipped “the King?  You mean as in the ‘King of his Kingdom’?”

Roy shook his head in affirmation.  “Is he Royalty?” she asked.  Roy laughed and whispered “no, he just thinks he is.”

“You still haven’t told me his name,” she said in an almost pouty voice.

Roy said “if and when the King wants you to know his name, he will be the one who tells you.”

“What is your relationship to him?”  Sela questioned.  Roy said “I work for him.”

“In what capacity?” she asked.

“I am multi-faceted.  I’ve been appointed your guardian.  I’m a liaison and most importantly, I’m a trusted family member who protects the King at all costs.”

“At all costs?” Sela echoed.  “Yes.  At all costs, up to and including sacrificing my life,” he said.

She asked “are you in love with him?”  Roy laughed aloud and said “no, it’s not like that.  It’s more of a loyalty thing.  I protect him but he protects me as well.

“From what?” She asked.  Roy pensively answered “from outsiders.”

Sela said “who are these outsiders and why would they pose a threat to you?”

Roy quickly switched gears and said “don’t you love these gardens?  I see you out here every day and you always seem so relaxed and peaceful.”

“You watch me?” Sela asked.  “Yes,” said Roy.  “I told you that I am your guardian.  I am here to protect you on the orders of the King.”

“You mean you’re a stalker,” she said.  Roy said “no.  Not a stalker.  A guardian.”

Sela said “tell me.  Do you stalk me in my bedroom as well?”  Roy smiled and said “no.  Not in your bedroom.  Only on the grounds, and I’m not a stalker.  I’m your guardian.”

With playful eyes, Sela said “so, does that mean you would sacrifice your life for me as well?”

“I would,” said Roy.

“Do you carry a gun?” asked Sela.  “Yes,” said Roy.  “Is it a big gun?” asked Sela.  “Big enough,” said Roy.  “Can I see it?” asked Sela.  “No,” said Roy.

Sela was flirting with him and knew that he would be flattered.

“Are you in love with me?” she asked.  She could see the flush in Roy’s face as he tried to stumble through a denial.  “I’m here to protect you on the Kings’ orders.”

Sela had exposed Roy’s soft underbelly and she knew that he would be vulnerable.  He was in love with her and she could see a means of escape, if she played him…and her cards right.

Using her feminine wiles, she took Roy’s arm.  Coyly returning to the previous conversation about the gardens, she said “you’re right, you know.  The gardens are lovely and so relaxing and peaceful but I still feel as though I am a prisoner.”

As they slowly walked in silence, suddenly Sela stopped and tightened her grip on Roy’s arm.  She could feel his pulse quicken and see his pupils widen.  She looked at him and said, “would you do something for me if I asked?”

Roy thought Sela had finally noticed him and against his better judgment, said “anything.”

She leaned toward him and whispered into his ear, “would you help me get away from here?”

 

To be continued______________

 

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Seven

Weeks passed, and more and more Sela found herself drawn to the feeling of serenity the gardens offered…always under the watchful gaze of the King.

Roy had been appointed her guardian.  He was always close but kept his supervision in the shadows.  He had become enamored with the beautiful, mysterious Sela, who sadly, barely gave him notice.  Their limited conversations were brief and mundane but Roy fought with futility, to spark even a paltry bit of interest from her.

His fight would soon bear fruit, but not for him.  One evening as Sela was coming back to the house, she was startled to see a man standing in front of her.

He was the kind of man you instinctively knew that you shouldn’t look at, but she did.  She was captivated by his striking handsomeness and magnetic eyes but somewhat frightened by his sudden almost ethereal presence.

“Good afternoon.” he said.  “I see that you are admiring my gardens.”

Sela looked around the display as if for the first time and said “yes.  They’re beautiful.  There’s such a sense of peacefulness here, almost like you’re in a different world.  A world of grace and innocence.  Her voice trailed off as she said “a world I think I’d like to belong to.”

“Have you seen the pond?” he asked.  Sela said “no, I haven’t.”

“Come with me,” he said.

They walked along the flower-laden pathway to a huge pond whose beauty rivaled the gardens.

“It’s fully stocked with the finest Nishikigoi, better known as Koi,” he said.  “They are symbolic of luck, prosperity and good fortune.  They also represent perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose.  Most importantly, they are symbolic of loyalty, and loyalty is very important.”  Then he turned and looked as though he knew the exact spot where Roy was standing.

Sela gazed at the playful Koi, who came to the surface begging for food.  “May I feed them?” she asked.

His answer was sharp and succinct.  “No.  I have people for that.”

As if nothing had been asked or denied, he continued.  “Many people erroneously believe that these creatures originated from Japan, when in reality they are thought to be native to China.”

Sela’s eyes were fixated on the massive, brightly colored fish and the over sized pond lilies.  Pink lotus plants seemed to dance on the surface, disturbed only by an occasional beetle looking for the sweet nectar of pollen.

A large, concrete angel with wings spread, held an urn with a never-ending flow of water, which lent the sound of a gentle cascading waterfall.  “If Utopia exists,” thought Sela, “surely this must be it.”

“It’s easy to feel like you can lose yourself here, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yes it is,” she said.

He turned as if to walk away and Sela said “wait.  Who are you?”

He looked at her with his intense, beguiling eyes and said “I might ask you the same question.”

 

To be continued________________

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Six

A week later, Sela was presented with a wardrobe fit for a queen.  As she slipped into a soft, white gauzy summer dress, she wondered “did I wear this kind of clothing?”

With a little trepidation, she opened the door and slowly walked out of the room.  She made her way over to the grand staircase, that seemed to float in mid-air.  Looking down on the immense marble floor of the foyer, she began her descent.

Halfway down, she met a maid who stopped and asked “can I get you anything ma’am?”  Sela asked her name.  “My name is Charlotte, ma’am.”  Sela said “hello Charlotte.  Can you tell me how to get outside?”

Charlotte said “yes ma’am.  I’ll take you to the gardens.  It’s just this way.”

Sela walked out and took a deep breath of fresh air that she had smelled only from the window of her room.  The perfume of row after row of flowers that lined the brick walkways compelled her to pick a rose from a nearby bush.  The grounds looked like a painting you would expect to see at the Louvre.  Saying that she found herself surrounded by overwhelming beauty would have been an understatement.

A large, vine-covered gazebo stood at the end of the path and boasted an inviting swing.  Sela walked over, slid onto the swing and felt free as she pushed herself back and forth.  She laughed like a school girl and let her long hair down, so that it flowed freely as if feeling freedom as well.

She didn’t notice the King watching her from the window high above, nor could she hear the conversation he was having with Roy.

In his usual manner of talking with his back turned, the King said “she’s been here for almost two months and we still know nothing?”

Roy said “we have searched and searched.  Nothing.  It’s like she’s a ghost.”

“Don’t we have somebody at the Police Department?”  Roy answered “yes, but he came up with zip.  There have been no missing persons bulletins, no inquiries, no calls.  Like I said, we have nothing.”

The King, clearly annoyed said “everyone has a past.  No one just magically appears as though they materialized out of thin air.”  He raised his voice and said “just find out who she is!  I don’t believe in coincidence or happenstance or serendipity.  I’m a suspicious man and I believe that she’s here for a reason and I want to know what that reason is.”

Roy cautiously said “begging your pardon sir.  Dr. Burt says she feels like a prisoner here.  If you had some interaction with her, it might help.  You may be able to gain her trust.”

The King was silent for a moment, then slightly shook his head up and down and said “yes.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Roy said “you believe she’s an enemy, sir?”  The King said “it’s your job to find out.  Getting information that I request is what pays your salary and it’s a very nice salary, if I recall.”

As Roy was leaving the room, the King turned his back once more and said “I’ll consider your suggestion.  In the meantime, I don’t care what you have to do.  I don’t care who you have to threaten.  I don’t care who you have to buy.  I don’t care who you have to kill.  Just do what you’re being paid for.  Find out who she is.”

 

To be continued_______________

 

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Five

With the unspoken approval of the King, Dr. Burt had Sela moved to one of the elegant rooms in the mansion.  When she walked in, she said “is this to be my room?”  Dr. Burt said “yes it is.”

Sela asked “am I to be a prisoner in this room?”  Dr. Burt said “no.  As soon as you have some suitable clothing, you will be free to roam about.  I have summoned a wardrobe specialist to come take measurements and she will fashion a complete wardrobe for you.  You’ll like her.  Her name is Greta.”

Sela surprised Dr. Burt when she said “long dresses with long sleeves.”

“Why?” he said.

Sela looked down at her arms and said “scars.  I have these scars.  I don’t know how I got them but they are there and they need to be hidden.”

Dr. Burt looked at her and said “you are a lovely woman and you have been wounded but remember, you carry the name of a great warrior.  You have battle scars.  Wear them with pride.  They are not shameful things but rather badges of survival.”

Sela looked at Dr. Burt and said “do you know how I got them?”  Dr. Burt shook his head.

Then Sela, with a never before seen vulnerability asked “hasn’t anyone tried to find me?  I mean, I must have belonged to someone.”

Dr. Burt said “I’m sure someone is trying to find you.  Sometimes, these things take time.”

Sela walked around the grand room, running her hands across the backs of luxurious chairs and along the edges of fine, handcrafted tables as if trying to get them to speak to her.  Without turning, she said “I hope so too.”

Her back still turned to Dr. Burt, she asked “might I be allowed to take a walk?”  Dr. Burt laughed and said “we can’t having you walking around in that hospital gown and robe.  Greta will be here in a few minutes and she will have you looking like a movie star.”

“When I get some clothes, can I leave?”  Dr. Burt said “Sela, you don’t know who you are.  You have no memory.  Where would you go?  Would you have me just drop you off somewhere, hoping that someone would recognize you?  Let’s give it some time.  I’ll continue working with you and in the meantime, everything you need will be provided for you.  You’re under my care and I really believe that I can help you.  Like I said, sometimes these things take time.”

Sela looked at Dr. Burt and softly said “okay.”

A knock on the door let Dr. Burt know that Greta had arrived.

She was a diminutive woman who wore her hair in a loose bun right on top of her head.  Her fingers had those tell-tale knobby knuckles and her sun-weathered skin lent a leathery look to her face.   She walked in the room and said “okay, doll.  Let’s see what we’ve got here.”

She began taking measurements and notes, saying nothing but an occasional “um hum.”  She finished and said “okay, we’ll get you some lingerie, casual wear and some formal wear.  I’m not one to stand on ceremony but most here do, if you know what I mean.”

Sela looked at her and said “no, I don’t know what you mean.  I know nothing about the people here.”

Greta said “well doll, put it this way.  You won’t be wearing cut-off blue jeans, loose T-shirts or flannel pajamas.”

After Greta left, Dr. Burt came back into the room.  Sela sat down and stared out the window.  As she sat, she wondered aloud.  “I’m not a prisoner but I’m not allowed to leave.  I don’t know who I am but I have been given a name.  I have no idea how I got here.  I don’t even know where I am but I’m being fawned over and given clothes and rooms.”

Dr. Burt put his hand on her shoulder and said “patience, Sela.  Patience.”

 

 

To be continued______________

 

 

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Four

With x-rays and the daily report in hand, Dr. Burt knocked on the King’s door.

The King’s most trusted ally, Lucius, also known as the King’s right hand, answered the door.  “Yes?”  he said as he carefully scrutinized Dr. Burt.

“I know this is a bit irregular but I wanted to give the King this information personally,” Dr. Burt said.

The King was standing in front of a large window, with his hands in the pockets of his casual Armani suit.  A face to face with the King was indeed irregular and would have never been allowed, had it not been for the unusual circumstances.  It was said that he was more protected than the President of the United States.

Not much was known about him and only those within the family had ever seen him but the word on the street was that he was a remarkably handsome man.  A man’s opinion might differ from a woman’s but even his soldiers commented about his striking looks.

He didn’t turn as Dr. Burt began.

“Sir, I haven’t much in the way of new information but I wanted to give you what I have.  I believe Roy has informed you that we ran fingerprints and found no record on file.  Of course, unless she has a criminal record, was in law enforcement or had a concealed permit, nothing would.”

Dr. Burt didn’t know that Foy was a step ahead and had already erased all records of her fingerprints from the data bases.

There was no response from the King.

Dr. Burt continued.

“Aside from what you have already been told, there has been a development.  It is my opinion that this woman has had plastic surgery to alter her looks at some point and it’s also my belief that the reason is from suffering unbelievable brutality of some sort.

I would guess her age to be in her early thirties and just from my point of view, she is exquisitely beautiful.”

There was silence from the King, who still hadn’t turned to look at Dr. Burt.

Clearing his throat, Dr. Burt said “I believe the blow to her head has caused total amnesia and in my medical opinion, I’m not sure she will recover any memories but I will continue to work with her, if that is your wish.  Of course, there’s always the possibility that she’s a very good thespian but as I said, I believe her loss of memory is genuine.”

“I’ve seen a lot in my day and I usually know when I’m being played but I believe her when she says she has no memory of who she is or how she came to be on the yacht.  I’ve used different tactics to try to ‘trip her up’ as it were but she has remained steadfast in that she remembers nothing.

There seems to be a great mystery surrounding her…who she is…why she was where she was…what happened to the companion she obviously had, but I just don’t have the answers right now.  As I said, if it is your wish, I will continue to work with her and I have a suggestion.”

Dr. Burt suggested that she be allowed to leave her room and co-mingle with some of the staff.  “You never know.  She might form a bond with one of them and possibly confide in them.  As I said.  It’s just a suggestion.”

The King slightly turned his head and said “just find out who she is.”

 

To be continued________________