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The Gate, by Dane Rudhyar, 1947. Image Copyright © 2001  by Leyla Rudhyar Hill.

The Gate
by Dane Rudhyar, 1947




Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7






Part Four - 14 February 1951, 9:00 AM

When I reached the office the next morning, after sleepless hours, Emerald was already at work. "I told you I would be first, didn't I?" she smiled, teasing me. I hardly had time to answer and ask her how she felt when the intercom called me to the publisher's office across the hall. A conference of editors had been hastily summoned. There was news of a general printers' strike.
      I was suddenly reminded of the friend with whom I had been supposed to dine the evening before; his being called to Chicago, also by a strike. Was all this fated, or worse still, prearranged? I felt dizzy. Probably lack of sleep, I thought. And I had no chance to think further of the weird events of only a few hours before.
      Everything that can upset an editor's job happened that morning. I had planned to take Emerald to lunch as a surprise and give her the Valentine I had brought for her, but an emergency luncheon called me uptown. Our West Coast representative had arrived unexpectedly, was on his way to Boston. Urgent business. I just had time to rush through the office at noon. Emerald was putting on her coat to go out. She seemed upset, Ron's desk had apparently not been disturbed.
      "Ron didn't come in?" I asked, suddenly worried.
      "No," replied Emerald.
      "He left me to go to the Greenwich Square Hotel last night. He stays there often, you know, when it's too late to go back to Long Island."
      "Yes, I did remember. I phone there, a moment ago. He left very early, the clerk told me."
      "Maybe he had an appointment . . . perhaps he had to get something from his apartment. You might phone there."
      She hesitated a moment, then said slowly, "I did. The number was on your list. There was no answer," I searched her eyes, she avoided mine. She was uneasy. Evidently Ron was foremost in her mind. I was going to ask her to wait for me, if I should be detained uptown after five. But the publisher opened the door and shouted, "We'll be late. Come on!"
      I waved to her. "Don't worry. Ron's all right." Could he have gone to Ramar? I wondered.

The afternoon was a constant rush. We had to go to the American News office, discuss figures. Everything tangled up. The boss insisted on cocktails. We had to see our representatives off to Grand Central. It was almost five when I returned to the office, worn out and in a mood to snap at anyone.
      No one was in the office. What happened? I wondered. Reaching my desk I saw a package of sheets and proofs, on top of it a note scrabbled by Ron. It read "Forgive me. I asked Emerald to come with me and have a drink. She looked as if she needed one badly. Here are the final proofs, ready to shoot. Please understand . . . Ron."
      Then there was an almost illegible P.S., probably written as an afterthought, standing up. "Sorry I was late. I had to be alone. Rode the ferry back and forth to Staten Island. It was wonderful."
      "Well, I like the nerve!" I muttered. I was angry. . . Riding the ferry. Taking away my girl. Where did they go? He could at least have asked me to join them!
      I opened my desk drawer to put away the pile of proofs. "Nice of him to finish that, anyway," I mumbled sarcastically to myself. Then I slumped back in the chair. I had seen, at the back of the drawer, a small package . . . My Valentine present to Emerald! I had forgotten, in the mad chase of the afternoon, that this was the day. I stared at the calendar on the desk, still reading February 13. Slowly, mechanically, I turned the knob. February 13 went off into the past; so did February 14, Valentine's Day. Very slowly February 15 appeared. For a moment, everything around me seemed cloudy, indistinct. I was so tired! I closed my eyes, tried to think. Fragmentary images of the night before passed before me. Emerald's face as she had seen Ron after . . . whatever it was that had happened. Oh, that look!

How tired can one feel and still remember faces so vividly? Ramar's seemed to come before me, his vast luminous eyes gazing at me, into me. I shook myself. The clock on the wall read 5:15. I must have dozed.
      I put on my coat and left the office. I remember the sun setting brilliantly as I crossed 14th Street. People were rushing, swallowed greedily by the monstrous jaws of subway entrances, piling into suffocating buses. The whole New York City frenzy functioned as ever. And I . . . I wondered where Emerald and Ron could be, I, alone. And the ruthless, greedy city its wealth, its poverty, its turmoil, its endless escapes pressing around me, pressing. I wanted to go away, somewhere. I did not know where.
      A strange impulse made me call a taxi. Hardly thinking, I told the driver, "Morningside Drive."
      "What number?" asked the driver.
      I didn't know. Just go to the Drive. I'll show you the building." Why did I do that? I kept thinking that it made no sense . . . He probably won't be home . . . I didn't even have his phone number to let him know I was coming.
      The driver, for some unknown reason, did not take the speedway along the Hudson. Up Eighth Avenue, a traffic jam stopped us at 34th Street. As we paused for a moment, I was startled out of my wits when I saw Mr. Ramar walking among cars to the door of my taxi. I leaned forward excitedly, and opened the door. "You here! Did you know I was coming to see you?"
      He smiled in his strange, faintly amused way. "May I join you?" he asked.
      "Of course," I answered, completely stunned. "Just another coincidence . . . Does that explanation satisfy you?"
      I didn't know what to answer. The driver turned, obviously curiously to see his new passenger. "Same address?" he asked.
      "Would you be kind enough to drop me at Grand Central first?' Ramar asked me.
      "Yes, of course . . . Driver, Grand Central!"
      My nerves were on edge. This really was too much for twenty-four hours! Ramar turned so he could face me directly.
      "My friend," he said, "you have outstanding qualities and these could be of greatest value. . . to you and to others. One thing you lack a rare thing these days, of course "
      "What do I lack?" I snorted.
      "I was going to say faith." Ramar went on, "but I should add also, humility. You have much pride; the pride of your insecurity. It is not so?"
      I did not answer. I was not actually thinking; I was merely being subjected to something over which I had no control. Ramar's voice was deliberate, it beat upon my mind over and through the street's hellish noises. Confusion in me answered to chaos outside. I don't remember all he said. When he had almost reached the station, I recall well the words he said, "You are hurt too easily, my friend. Try not to be hurt so hard. Try to let go. Take it easy. Being bitter does not pay."
      "Bitter? About what?" I felt suddenly very empty and lonely. He did not answer.
      As the car stopped, Ramar looked at me with a gentleness that nearly brought tears to my eyes. His large almost golden eyes shone in the semi-dark. "I am going away very soon," he said softly.
      "You are? Where?"
      "You will probably know in due time. The important thing is, try not to be hurt. Remember, things are not always what the seem to be!"
      He got out and walked away rapidly, disappearing into the crowd.
      The driver was staring at me with a peculiar look. "Morningside Drive?"
      "No, thank you. Drive down to Washington Square."



15 February 1951, 9:00 AM

I must have slept heavily that night, because I didn't wake up at my usual time. When I reached the office, Emerald was filing letters and manuscripts. She greeted me with a "Hello!" that seemed both distant and somewhat strained. I wondered what had happened to her and Ron last evening.
      "How are you this morning?" I enquired. "You seem tired."
      "Oh, it's nothing . . . I'll be all right," she answered, keeping on with her work.
      I insisted. "I'm sorry I got back after you had gone yesterday. I had a hectic afternoon. How was Ron?"
      She came to my desk with a pile of letters. "Ron? Oh, fine. I see he's late again."
      "Did you have dinner with him?" The words came out almost compulsively, I was sorry I asked. After all, this was none of my business. I looked intently at Emerald. Her face was pale and drawn perhaps from lack of sleep . . . perhaps . . .?
      She seemed to hesitate a moment, then replied, "Yes, we had dinner together. We talked . . . There was much to try to understand."
      "You mean, what happened at Mr. Ramar's?"
      She looked at me uneasily, wondering perhaps. What I had felt, what I had seen what I thought now of the whole adventure. She nodded. I got up impulsively, took her hands as she placed some letters in front of me. Her hands were feverish. She withdrew slightly her eyes staring through me, very far. She appeared to be trembling. Was she really ill? Had the whole thing been too much for her?
      "Emerald, you're ill! You have a fever. You must go home, take a rest."
      She smiled. "Perhaps I caught a cold on my way back from Venus."
      I laughed, rather self-consciously. At least, she had not lost her sense of humor.
      "You really think you went to Venus?" Perhaps I should not have asked. Her eyes darkened. Her hand played, for a moment, with a ruler lying on my desk.
      "You don't believe it, apparently."
      I was about to protest mildly, when the phone rang.
      It was Ron. "Dick, it's you? How are you? Listen Dick, would you mind if I didn't come in today and tomorrow?"
      "Are you sick, too?" Perhaps my voice did sound a bit sarcastic. I didn't want it to.
      "What do you mean, 'sick too'?" he asked in a worried tone. "Who is sick? You?"
      "Oh, no. Emerald seems feverish and I'm sending her home. Rest will do her good."
      Emerald looked at me, shaking her head. I went on, "She doesn't appear to want to go. But I think she should. Are you really ill?"
      He seemed to hesitate. "No, not really. Tired. But the main thing is . . I want to write something. I have to. . . You will see it next week."
      I nearly bit my tongue trying not to ask, "About your trip to Mars?" But Emerald undoubtedly had heard what Ron said. She stood, starting at me. I felt she was protecting him, anxiously. I avoided her eyes, nervously played with a letter covered with unfamiliar stamps. "O.K. Stay home. Write all you want. I guess there's not much to do here. I am mailing the copy to Chicago and God knows when, or if, it will go to print. The strike looks bad. I must see the boss now. Good luck. See you Monday, then?"
      Emerald was sitting at her desk. "Look here," I said, "why don't you go home, and to bed? You have a fever, I'm sure. There is no sense being heroic. If I have urgent letters, Jacqueline can take them." Jacqueline was one of the girls at the switchboard who helped us whenever we were rushed. Very blonde, very "cover girl" and ready to live up to her looks . . . or so I had been told by the editor of our "Sports" magazine. "Come back Monday, and call up before if you feel worse, or need help. Promise?"

After Emerald had gone, I sat heavily, my head in my hands. I stared blankly at the letters on the desk. "What was going on?" I asked myself. I had meant to tell Ron about my encounter with Ramar. But what was the use? Perhaps he had seen Ramar. What had happened between Ron and Emerald last night? I couldn't stop thinking. It was too crazy, the whole thing! Why did it have to happen? Just when I felt happy, warm again towards a woman, a wonderful woman! Was there no happiness for me, ever?
      I had to shake myself. Self-pity mixed with anger. "Who is this Ramar, anyway?" But as I thought of him, a strange stillness settled in me. From my brain, words seemed to rise. . . remembered words, no doubt. "Things are not always what they seem . . . Try to let go . . . Try not to be hurt . . ."
      It was the last I saw of Emerald. When I phoned her the next day she said she was feeling much better and might go to visit a friend in Connecticut for the weekend, if the weather kept nice. It was much warmer on Saturday, and I expected she had gone. Her phone did not answer Sunday afternoon, when I tried to reach her.
      When I came to the office Monday morning, I saw at once a special delivery letter on my desk. Her writing. My hand trembled as I opened it. I had a hollow feeling . . . Bad news? What could have happened.

Sunday, noon

Dear Dick,

What could I say that would make sense now? I don't know how to explain because there is no explanation that would seem rational, sensible . . . I am just leaving town. I don't know when I shall be back. You must find somebody for my job. It shouldn't be hard.
      Please, forgive me. You been quite wonderful as a friend, too. I so wish I could explain. But perhaps you will understand. You will not misjudge me. . . us. I am going with Ron. He will mail you a long letter. Perhaps he can explain. Perhaps he can make you believe . . . that we are not little fools on a love-adventure a banal affair.
      You may refuse to believe that what you saw the other night was real. You may think of Mr. Ramar as a charlatan, or worse. I don't know what you will believe. I hope, oh, I hope you won't feel hurt. Please think of us kindly, warmly. We are going into the totally unknown. It is mad, perhaps. I don't know . . . I only know that there is no other road we can take. And have faith I have faith.
      Please, have faith with us. This is not goodbye! We will meet again. We must . . . Oh, try to understand, Dick. If only you could feel what I have felt!

       Always your friend,

Emerald.

I stood still for a moment it seemed endless. I had no thought, no feeling. I was stunned, it was fantastic, incredible. Both of them . . . suddenly . . . like kids eloping! It made no sense.
      Why, but why? I kept asking myself, as I regained some sort of normal consciousness. Why this way? No one would have stopped them if they wanted to have a love affair, get married . . . even take a vacation together! But just like that . . . disappearing. No notice. They had jobs, after all! What kind of a fix did they leave me in? They knew I was having printing trouble. They knew I depended on them. But no, they went. Ron will mail me "a long letter." How considerate of him, the little fool! Did I count for nothing?
      I tried to stop my angry thoughts. I re-read the letter. "We are going into the totally unknown . . . I only know that there is no other road we can take . . . have faith in us . . ." what was she trying to say? What did it mean? I could mean only one thing Ramar! Ramar had taken them with him. He was about to go away, he had told me so.
      Ramar knew, of course. That's what he was trying to tell me. "Don't get hurt. Don't get bitter!" He knew. He must have planned it all from the beginning. But why? What did he want to do with them? It sounded mad . . . I shivered, suddenly. All sorts of horrible ideas rushed to my mind. Science fiction story, all right! That was one to add to the list. But it was real. And I was the dupe, the goat on top of it all! Or was it all a nightmare, some hypnotic spell from which I would wake . . . they would wake and return?
      Ramar's last words came back to me with a strange intensity. "Things are not always what they seem to be." I seemed to hear his voice again. A hallucination? Was I losing my mind?
      I walked up and down the office, wondering what I should do next. Yes, I did think of calling the police. But that was childish, obviously. They would think I was crazy. I had only the letter to show. Besides, Ron and Emerald were not teenagers. They should know what they were doing.
      There was obviously nothing I could do only wait for Ron's "long letter," if it came. In the meantime, work harder, take care of the magazine, get someone to take Emerald's place. Jacqueline could do for a while, anyway. I would have to talk to the boss. My god, what would I tell him?
      But why not phone Ramar? Perhaps he was still at his apartment. Maybe I was wrong.
      I never had even taken down his phone number. The name wasn't listed. I didn't even know the exact number of the building. I rushed downstairs, hurried into a taxi. We sped along the parkway, up Morningside Drive. I recognized the building; asked the superintendent, "Is Mr. Ramar home? Or has he already left on a trip?"
      "No," the super replied. "He's not here. Moved out on Saturday. Can't say about a trip."
      "But where has he gone?"
      "I don't know. Didn't leave an address. Sorry, mister."
      I rode back to the office. My thoughts whirled around in a hectic, bitter hurt. So, they had all gone leaving me! I had stuck to Scotch excellent Scotch! I had clung to what I knew the familiar, the intellectually obvious. . . perhaps I should say, the safe! I was safe. Sure! Dear old Scotch . . . very safe, very normal.
      Or was it? Too much Scotch may not be safe. I found out, soon enough . . .


Read Part Five


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Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
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Illustation ("The Gate" by Dane Rudhyar, 1947)
Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
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