the house on east 14th street, chapter 3

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the house on east 14th street, chapter 3

Post by burdick » Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:13 am

Having enjoyed a full English breakfast, Aimone left the b and b.. The wind was fresh and gusty and had long ago striped all the leaves from those trees that it could. The lush green of the evergreen plantings stood like jewels against the marble of the nearby buildings. The air was so filled with moisture that it gave a Turner-like feel to the area. He went to the underground and traveled to the charing cross underground shopping centre. He walked up to the Strand and to Jessop’s, found a salesperson (good looking young lady that seemed to really know her cameras)and bought a Samsung Galaxy Digital Camera in White .
Right back into the underground and a trip under the Thames to the London Bridge station, and then a quick walk to Borough Market. Aimone took his time walking through the stalls. At length, he stopped at a stall with organic farm fresh eggs.
“Good morning”, he said to well-scrubbed, shining with the health of the country side girl. “I would like to buy eggs that are fresh and fertile. I want to improve my flock for egg-laying.”
She beamed.” I have two that will do nicely. The best, to my mind is the Goldline (a brown bird) , which is a hybrid. And will lay over 300 eggs a year. There is also the Amber( also a hybrid) that looks like a Rhode Island Red and is a heavier bird than the Goldline.,both would do well for you. “
“Let me have a dozen of the Ambers”
Aimone went back to the b and b and put the eggs in the cooler,and changed from his “dressed-down” clothes to his dress-up clothes( with school tie) and took the camera with him to the British museum .to talk with the man who was amber a rather long time before he signaled green. Under normal museum lighting Aimone photographed the documents he wanted to study at length. The b and b had internet access, so he uploaded the jpgs to the cloud at once. Calling Ethiopian Airlines he booked tickets for Addis Ababa that night, and by the next morning he was in Addis, and shortly after, in his home.
He sat in his favorite chair in the living room, worn out from the long trip and the tension from it. Sophia brought him a welcome cup of black Ethiopian coffee.
“Sophia , would you hand me my bag, I have bought something for the compound.”
He opened the bag and took out the carefully packed eggs.
“”these are fertile eggs I bought in London. They are from a chicken called ‘the amber’,which is a rather large brown-red bird which lays more than 300 eggs a year. I think we could improve our flock if we hatch these and interbreed them with Ethiopian chickens. Our birds are good, and they are resistant to the problems we have here..but I think we could try to improve them.”
Sophia looked at the brown eggs.
“They are the right color, and certainly are bigger. I have a hen settling now with a new clutch of eggs. I’ll remove those and give her these to hatch.”
“good. Now I have some money for the household fund.”
He gave her 900 birr.
“Let God be praised!”, she exclaimed, and hastily disappeared into the kitchen with it.
Aimone wandered through the house in a pensive mood. He looked at his seven year old computer. He had known that the internet was run by the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) , and that they filtered the internet carefully. He had not realized how much was missing until he had used the internet in London. Mr Meles had just died and Mr Hailemariam was to be prime minister. The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front still was firmly in control of the nation. It seemed unlikely that there were going to be any major changes in policy.
He pulled out the one document that had been in the box with the stones and studied it:
He spent the rest of the day in minor tasks. He called Jayden Birru , his old friend who still worked at Addis Ababa University and arranged to meet with him at the John F.Kennedy Memorial Library the next day. He called his bank to find out if the funds he had transferred from Italy had cleared. They had not, he was informed.
“the transfer will take at least another week. There are fees to be taken out too. These are calculated to be able 12% at this time, or 5,620 birr. leaving a transfer balance of 46,840 birr.”
The next morning he took the bus to the university campus. It was dry and dusty (the little rains were months away) but looked in good condition and quite busy. He and Jayden Birru had always made it a practice to meet in public places, that way if the government had any issues with either, there would be less to suspect. Aimone remembered the bad days when the government closed the university and sent the students out into the country side to work .
While they were walking around they talked.
“It is good to see you again. How do you like retirement now?”, Birru asked.
“Fine but it looks like I will be in Italy for some time and I’d like to have you manage some things while I am gone, if you would.”
“Of course!’
“Good, I knew you would. Now listen, and perhaps this would be one of those times you don’t ask too many questions . There is nothing that will get you in trouble, but it is just better to not get involved” said Aimone.
As they walked Aimone explained that he wanted Birr to manage his bank account, and home while he was gone. He had “come into some money” and would be gone for some time. He wanted Birr to write checks when needed, and to make sure the household fund was refilled and Sophia, Isabella, Jayden, and Mason (the servants) were paid monthly. Birr was to take out 700 birr a month as” manager” for as long as he did this. They had lived through the red terror together, and Birr asked no questions.
The plan was agreed upon and they went to the bank to sign the necessary papers. They also exchanged e-mail addresses (so he had Aimone’ new one in Italy).
Days passed without much being done. The Christmas service at Holy Trinity Cathedral was unchanged with a service that bought the sweetness of his youth back to him, and at the same the rank patios of the bitter years of the revolution all too close. Aimone did see and talk to a number of friends after the service. One of the monks offered to instruct him in geez. Since he wanted to do some research on the documents he found in the British museum, he took the mans’ offer and found the language came back easily.
He was coming to the conclusion that Addis was no longer “home” to him.
The day that the little speckled hen became the proud mother of ten big soft brown chicks, an email came from Signore Adige asking him to return for a meeting in Turin.
He said goodbye to the good people of Addis Ababa, departed for Italy, and his future.

Christmas in New York can be almost magical when there is a fresh snow.
Pretty enough during the day, with bell-ringing Santas , great crowds of people dressed in every conceivable way for the cold, rushing and pushing with bags and packages. Ah! But when the sun flees from the chilled sky, New York wakes into lights of every color, and somehow the mood of the seething crowd changes into a contented purr. The spicy odors of Mexico, the east, and Africa, drift from shops and dance with the tang of wet concrete. Music is everywhere too, making it impossible to stay aloof.
Karagoz joined Nigar, Angela, and Sun-ja in Niger’s apartment. The Christmas tree was alight with soft small red, yellow and green lights that illumined ornaments that must have been over 60 years old. Nigar had done the Christmas meal. it was excellent and new to Karagoz :
Matzo ball soup (appetizer), Beef brisket, Broccoli soufflé, Potato latkes, and a dessert of Jewish apple cake.!
(Guess she must be Jewish), thought Karagoz. (Great stuff!)
He had spent the day with Hacivat and Uncle Oguz in Brooklyn Heights. They attended the early Christmas service at Plymouth Church. Cheri sang a solo piece, which was quite well done, and yes, she did appear to be much older than she was. Later, in Hacivats’ apartment (the sons’, that is} Mr. Hacivat waited until his son was out of the room, and said to Karagoz:
“You know, she’s been sleeping over with him now and then. They think I’m unaware of it, but no! I am a romantic and I’m happy for them, even with the problems they are going to face. There’s snow on the mountain (tapping his head) but there’s fire in the heart”.
(You are also a wily old fox, thought Karagoz, you tell me this “in secret” so I will tell them you know. Ah well, so be it.)
Hacivat came back into the room with three mugs of eggnog (smelling strongly of rum).
“Now that I have defended my dissertation successfully, (and you can call me ‘Dr. Hacivat’ now, by the way) , I’m ready to do my clinical internship .I’ve been accepted here in town (and I get a salary for it too), which means I don’t have to move. I feel ready to take the licensure test right away, probably when the next one will be given here. After that I can look a job as a researcher, clinician, or administer, and perhaps, think about getting married. Why not! As Socrates said:
’ By all means marry. If you get a good wife you will become happy, and if you get a bad one you will become a philosopher.’”
Karagoz smiled and said:
‘Tell me, Dr. Hacivat, you have spent years in school, and now you have a piece of paper that assures us that you have done the things that are required by the wise men (and women) to do things dealing with the human mind that we of the masses are not able to do. Tell me, what do you know now that my friend, Jim Hacivat did not?”
Taking the question seriously (as it was meant to be taken) Hacivat said thoughtfully:
Your question brings to mind something that has bothering me ..More and more lately, people have been ‘buying’ Ph.D. degrees from degree mills for about $10,000. Then they take on-line course designed to teach them how to pass the national licensure exam. They take the exam. If they pass; they then are just as ‘qualified’ as I am to practice as a psychologist. Somehow it seems unfair, but it is perfectly legal.”
“If I were a student of physics, I might answer differently, but because my field is psychology, I think my answer is that mankind has a long history of dealing with mankind. I know that history, I have yet to know if that knowledge has any value at all , and I have no way of knowing how to judge that value other than with current thinking, which may or may not be ‘correct’.
And…to hedge my bets, I have learned to learn.”

In the first floor apartment on 14th street, Eli Jacobs put on his winter coat, hat and gloves, and gave his paramour a parting kiss. They both were happy with life as they lived it, and Eli was celebrating the completion of his psychoanalysis. Maybe it was the jolt from the Taser that was the cherry on the top?
“I’ll be gone for a couple of weeks” Eli said as he was leaving.” I have to go to Europe on some business that sounds challenging and interesting. The new apartment looks very nice. Would you hold it open until I get back? I think I may have the right person for it.”
As the door closed behind him, he walked down the stairs to the street, walked briskly to the nearby subway entrance and was soon back in his 5th avenue home.


It was the day before Christmas in San Fernando, but it was one of those days that the people living there stayed inside and tried not to believe in the cold drizzle of rain which darkly ruled outside. They were people of the sun and the stark blue and white ocean (not that sullen gray form that melted into the colorless sky in the distance), unwilling to bow to the mere reality of weather.
The Casas family (Eulalie, her mother and father, 5 cousins, and an elderly distant aunt) came together to celebrate Christmas , and this started with a wonderful meal spread out buffet style late in the evening of Dec. 24. There was chicken and meat empanadas, white rice, yellow rice with chicken creole topped with a traditional Colombian sauce, Argentinean sausage complimented with potato pudding, sweet platanos, red beans and fine meat with chimichurri sauce, and many sweets.
There were songs, and best of all for Eulalie, she got to play for the family on her digital piano. Some of the songs were unfamiliar to her. Most were happy and many were ones that had finger play or body movements with them. A few were sung in Spanish by the older adults. At midnight the presents were all passed out to everyone, who waited until they were all passed out. When all the presents had been distributed, the unwrapping began. The room was full to overflowing with laughter, screaks, and talking (mostly in English, but a little Spanish from the older members once in a while. Eulalie was sleepy, but oh so happy, surrounded by piles of wrapping paper, empty boxes, brightly colored ribbons, and (most of) the toys she at asked for!
She sat in Papas’ big chair, cuddled her new soft haired toy pussy cat ….and fell asleep.

The meeting between Aimone Jacobs, and Adige took place in Aimones’ apartment on via XX Settembre .The lawyer had told him that Mr. Jacobs was a respected American gemologist who was bonded by the house of savoy,and had been successful in selling and buying (more rarely done) jewelry for them. The three men sat down in the triangular living room that had tall windows on two walls, and was always filled with light. Aimone had removed the little box from the bank vault and now he opened it, placing it on the table. The gems were fiery in the bright sunlight. Aimone and Adige sat in patient silence while Jacobs took the gems, one by one, examined them and made notes. The tall clock next to the door measured time in slow ticks. At length, Jacobs stopped, studied his notes and said:
“ I have a ready customer for the emerald . as noted Irregular polished 68.15 carats,clear emerald . my offer is $300,000 for the lot.
For the 4 rose cut ,total weigh 35.85 carats white diamonds. My offer is $92,000.
I suggest the remaining stones (minus the large stone) be removed from Italy by me and placed in a bank box in New York City. As a dealer in stones I can legally carry them through customs and not be charged. They can be recovered by Mr. Makonnen at his leisure. The large stone should not be found anywhere but in the United States, it would be unwise for either Mr. Makonnen or me to carry it into New York. I can arrange for it to be brought in unannounced.
What is your feeling about my suggestions so far?
Sig. Adige spoke first. “acting as his lawyer, I advise him to accept. You would, of course, would require to be bonded higher than you are at present. He has already lost value in selling a few stones before this meeting”
“yes” said Aimone , “I sold them too cheaply to the House of Savoy. I am happy sig Adige you are now acting as my lawyer, not as an employee of the house. I follow your advice and accepted the plan outlined so far. I note, however, that leaves us with the plan for the big diamond.”
“Excellent , “ said Jacobs , “I will transfer $392,000 (300.506.3 euros) into Mr.Makonnens’ bank account here in Turin.and take the other stones…..after I am properly bonded by the House of Savoy. It will be some time before I can finalize a plan for the large stone. I think it may require you to move to New York for a while. Would this be acceptable to you/”
“yes, it has been many years since I last visited your country”
“Done then” Jacobs said smiling and stood and shook Aimone hand.

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