Part Six - November-December 1951
I am trying to recall what was my first feeling after I
read the long letter. I think it was, "This is madness . . .
sheer madness!" For a long time, I had neither thoughts nor
feelings. And out of the blankness there grew pain, and
bitterness . . . and anger. Darkness pounded at me, trying to
choke me. Perhaps it was self-pity turned aggressive, a
violent rebellion against my fate, in which old memories
piled up, re-awakened, in disarray.
Was it my love of Emerald, broken, smashed, that hurt
so? There was that, of course. Was it anger toward Ron, my
friend? Yes, that too. But there was something still more
poignant, still more bitter and devastating — I know it well
now. I had failed. I had been called, and had not answered.
Maybe it was all madness, Ramar was insane, an impostor, or
worse — I tried to tell myself. But I couldn't believe it,
try as I might. I fought. I rebelled. I hated. Still, when I
remember his eyes, I knew . . . what? I could not tell. To
know and still not to know — and feel defeated. This was
Because I could not bear it, I tried desperately to
forget everything. I tried hard. I struggled to remain angry
and resentful, to lash my bitter thoughts against Ron and
Emerald, to sneer at their ghostly presences in my mind. I
dared their memories within my heart. Jacqueline came into my
office as my secretary — and more! She was willing, too
willing. I tortured myself, after hectic evenings in night
clubs, of drinking and lust, to see her in the chair Emerald
had occupied. I watched her pretty face become sunken and
sallow from sleeplessness and excesses.
I had to buy and write stories for the magazine. The man
who replaced Ron was ineffectual. I worked harder. I resorted
to chemical stimulants — "pep pills" — to keep up the crazy
pace. I sought weird inspiration in artificially induced
dreams which progressively filled up with erotic, sadistic
scenes — unusable material. I was even called down to the
publisher's office for printing "borderline" stories. "One
must not go too far, you should know! What's the matter with
you, anyway. You look wornout. Take it easy, for heaven's
One day, during a hot October spell, at an endless business meeting after a particularly insane night in Harlem,
I blanked out completely. I was rushed to the hospital. The
doctors prescribed complete rest, said something about my
kidneys, my heart. I was full of toxins, worn down to the
bones, it seemed.
The publisher sent me to Florida for recovery. Another
editor in the company temporarily filled in for me. I heard
Jacqueline had been fired; the poor girl had too much of the
fast life as well. It didn't help to make me feel at peace.
Yet, I was so tired, I finally lapsed into a state of
vegetative torpor, helped by sedatives. I lay on the warm
sands of the beach. I did not think, did not feel . . .
It was then that I began to hear, very distant yet
clear, what seemed to be Emerald's voice. "Please, Dick, try
to understand! Let go . . . Try to believe. Try to feel!" It
would come especially in the late afternoon as I watched the
sun drop into the waters of the Gulf, a ball of orange
shrouded in mist.
One day, the sky was extraordinarily clear. I was
staring at the sun, as it touched the sea, far, far away. I
watched the big golden circle. It seemed like a consecrated
host, held by an invisible priest who now placed it slowly
back into the chalice of space rimmed by the horizon. I
watched — the disc was nearly gone. . . it disappeared.
Suddenly a flame of brilliant green flashed from the sea
where the golden sun had been laid to rest. Green flame. . .
Emerald! And I saw her vividly, standing in the paling sky,
Our present age would call this a hallucination, I am
sure. Perhaps it was. And yet, in that moment, something
indescribable happened inside of me. It was as if something
turned over, and nothing after that was quite the same. A
peace which I had not known for so many months settled in me
with the gathering dusk. I stood, very still, facing the
western sky — and lo! an evening star grew brilliant some
distance above the horizon. I felt sure it was Venus. And
wasn't that Mars, that reddish star, still farther up in the
sky? A coincidence?
The evening chill made me shiver. I hurried back to my
room, fell on my bed and slept — a very long time.
It was a couple of days later. I was sitting in the hotel
lobby after dinner when a middle-aged woman approached me.
"You are Dick Probeck, the editor of Interplanetary Tales, are you not?" she asked. Her voice, her face, were
quite lovely, with a rather unusual quality — a foreigner
perhaps; yet she had no accent. She went on, "I heard your
name called by the clerk a few days ago, and I have thought
of speaking to you ever since, but did not wish to intrude.
Then, last night, I had a vivid dream. I was asked to speak
to you . . . by Ron."
I was started. "By Ron? Do you know him? Where is he?"
"You might have heard him speak of me. I am the friend
he saw a good deal of, before . . . before he left . . . us."
She smiled. "My name is Sonia Ladonin."
I remembered the name. So this was the woman who had
interested Ron in mysterious things, "occult ideas!" I had
never met her, but she fitted his description well. Born of
Russian parents, I recalled, somewhere in South America. Her
father was an archaeologist; had been killed in the Andes
while exploring some ruins, just after World War I. Her
mother had taken her to California, where she grew up.
I offered her a seat. I felt an inner excitement grow. I
asked, "You spoke of a dream?"
"Yes," she answered, looking far away, as if seeking to
recall a half-forgotten scene. "It was a dream, but a very
intense one. I saw Ron's face clearly. He was looking intently
at me, and he was saying: 'Talk to Dick Probeck. Talk to him.
Tell him we are well. Tell him . . . I woke up suddenly. It
seemed so strange that I had heard your name just a few days
before! I had known the name, of course. Ron often spoke of
you . . I am not sure what this means, but I am certain it
is a real communication. You may think, of course, what you
wish, if you don't believe in dreams."
"I believe, and I don't believe!" I said, with some
hesitation. "I wish I could be sure . . . sure of so many
things. But tell me, have you heard from Ron since he left?
Did you know he was leaving? Did he tell you all that
happened just before?" I looked at Sonia Ladonin eagerly. Was
the mystery to be solved? Could she have known Ramar? Did she
know where they went, and why they went? So many questions
rushed through my mind!
She spoke lowly, looking straight into my eyes. I felt
she was trying to sound me out; to find out how much I knew,
how much, perhaps, she was to say.
"I have not heard from Ron. At least, there has been no
letter. I do not know where he is. But I feel sure he is
well, and on a great task. I have faith in him."
"Did you ever meet a Mr. Ramar?" I asked. I was not sure
it was right of me to mention his name to her, but I had to
know, to try to understand.
"The day before he left," she said, "Ron phoned me. He
told me he had met an extraordinary person. He said wonderful
things had happened to him — so wonderful they could not be
told casually; not then, for he had to leave at once. He
asked me to have faith . . . assured me I would know, in
"Did he mention anyone else?" I had to say it.
She looked at me even more intently. Then her face
became very quiet. She smiled a little. "Yes, Mr.
Probeck. He did say he was not going alone. I think I
understood what he did not say. But, I believe you know far
more than I do?"
I didn't answer. She said, "Perhaps you will tell me? I think
I could understand. You may know that I am not unaware of
things which most people today dismiss as fairy tales,
superstitions or impossibilities. Of course, I was upset at
first by Ron's departure. We had been very close. I loved
him . . . I still do. But real love is not possessive, is it?
I am glad for him if he has found what his heart and his
spirit were seeking so eagerly. I am glad . . . for them. I
find happiness in the thought that I may have help him,
possibly, in being more ready for what I somehow feel has
"But what? What has happened, besides love? I loved
"Emerald? A beautiful name. I see you have been greatly
hurt. Pain too can be a path, as can love."
"If you do not know that love is a path to God, then you
have not really loved — nor understood what we name God."
Her voice was very soft, very gentle. I bent my head. There
was a long silence.
Finally, she rose and said, "I had better leave you
now. If you wish to see me tomorrow, I would be happy to
talk with you. It was very good to meet you. I think I
understand now why I had the dream."
I was confused. I felt weak, like someone getting out of
bed for the first time after a long illness. All I managed
was a muttered "Good night."
I returned to my room, I imagined myself in the midst of
a desert, walking among dry shrubs, where roads which look
impressive on the map are just faint marks of tires and
hoofs. And the imprints of men and beast fork out, as they
come to a waterless river. Which is the way? One cannot
be sure. It was so difficult to know. There is no one to ask.
I sat down heavily. I stared through the large window,
into the night. "Pain and love," she had said, "paths to God."
I never thought of God. "Intelligent people" don't do that
anymore in big cities — or should I say, "intellectuals?"
Pain and love. Very romantic, wasn't it? What did I know
about love, anyway? And pain. Hadn't I nearly killed myself
to escape pain, the pain of seeing myself as I was?
I knew, at last, that there is never any escape. I knew
that somehow the new beginning I had shrunk from making would
confront me again . . . in this life, perhaps in others, who
can tell? . . . if I chose the wrong path, the path of
"Escape." There is no escape. Even time is no escape, it
turns and bites you, scorpion-like, with its tail!
Sonia Ladonin was right. Perhaps she knew a great deal.
Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
All Rights Reserved.
Illustation ("Devolution" by Dane Rudhyar, 1952)
Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
All Rights Reserved.
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