I am riding in the carriage of the absinthe fairy, sipping a martini. We are traveling through the streets of some unknown European city of the past. Suddenly the carriage comes to a halt. The door opens and a young man climbs in. “Bonjour, mon cher,” says the fairy. We must be in Paris then. The young man sits across from us. He is carrying a bottle of wine and now takes a big swig from it. His mood visibly improved, he looks at me and says:
“I am the saint at prayer on the terrace like the peaceful beasts that graze down to the sea of Palestine.”
I am intrigued. The words sound familiar somehow, but I can’t quite place them. I blame it on the martini I’ve been drinking maybe too eagerly. I decide to take a risk. I live by taking risks, much like the wisteria plant, its branches hanging too low in their purpleness.
“Nice to meet you,” I tell him. “I’m traveling on the road to nowhere. I am looking for a house at the end of the world. Its chimney throws no shadow. Have you seen it perhaps?”
He shakes his head.
“I am the scholar of the dark armchair. Branches and rain hurl themselves at the windows of my library.”
I decide that I like him so I offer him some of my martini in exchange for a few sips of his wine. It is red, bitter and strong. Its fullness after the lightness of the martini surprises me.
“That’s some pretty strong wine,” I say and decide to keep the bottle for now. “Tell me something. You look as if you’ve traveled all over. Surely you must know the way to the end of the world?”
He is silent and thinks for a few moments, then says:
“I am the pedestrian of the highroad by way of the dwarf woods; the roar of the sluices drowns my steps. I can see for a long time the melancholy wash of the setting sun.”
“I think he is telling you to go west,” the green fairy chimes in. My head is spinning a little from all the different drink mixes. She leans over and kisses me. Or did I lean over towards her? We are caught in a world of relative motion, she and I, like Alice through her looking glass. I try to pull away and find myself leaning even closer in.
“Who are you?” I ask the young man on the seat across from us. “I feel as if I know you from somewhere… or somewhen.”
“I might well be the child abandoned on the jetty on its way to the high seas, the little farm boy following the lane, its forehead touching the sky.”
I don’t want to ask him what he means. If you constantly ask others what they mean, you are bound to never get a response that fits your inner logic. Instead, I look around and notice we are somehow transported back into the old whiskey tavern, where this whole trip started. I am sitting by the windows with the young man; he is drawing on a napkin.
“What happened to the green fairy?” I ask. “Did we leave her behind?” And then without waiting for a response, I add. “That was one hell of a carriage ride.”
“The paths are rough,” he agrees. “The hillocks are covered with broom. The air is motionless. How far away are the birds and the springs! It can only be the end of the world ahead.”
He hands me the napkin he’s been drawing on. I now have a rough map that will guide me for the rest of my journey.