He felt no circles under his eyes. Obis woke up refreshed. Sunlight streamed but without warmth through the hurricane shutters on his windows. He stretched in his royal blue silk jammies and glanced at the clock. Five thirty am. The perfect amount of time to reset his hormones.
Just then his alarm clock started, though it wasn't harsh and grated. A sound of a waterfall, gentle at first but the volume slowly played up until he felt that if he held out his open palm water would splash into it.
The bed was large and filled most of the room. Like a dark child in a sea of suds and foam, Orbis sat up in bed and tossed the white comforter from him. He put his manicured feet into the paper slippers especially designed by a Jain priest in Jakarta so he wouldn't accidentally take the life of any microbes or insects.
He stood and stretched again. It felt good to be alive. He rolled up his eyes and felt swirls of green and lavender energies radiate from his solar plexus throughout his body. From fingertips, up arms, through the trunk, the legs, then the toes. He cycled the energy three times, in clockwise motion, then opened his eyes. He pressed the button on the end table. "Breakfast." He said to the air.
A full length mirror stood in the corner of the room, and Orbis used it often. Right now he was standing there, admiring his vanishing paunch. His translucent skin was testimony to a lifetime of vegetative pacifism. He felt freer than most, more in tune with his inner physician. His glow and satisfaction was a mobile testament to his success.
Right now that inner self had to use the john. Afterwards, Orbis washed his face with an exfoliating cream (made by the tiny feet of Chechnya little people dancing the Song of Fertility) and wiped his hands on Peruvian towels. He heard some clattering in the other room that jarred his sensibilities.
"Breakfast!" Yumi called from the bed chamber. Orbis folded and set the towel aside and sauntered into the other room, his paper shoes announcing his arrival.
Yumi was a willowy Cambodian woman, her skin pale and creamy. She moved deliberately, smooth as if she were gliding across the bottom of a pool. She removed the tops of the dishes. She didn't like to do menial work; it wasn't in her job description. She was Orbis' personal assistant, keeping his appointments and business affairs in order. Feeding him was not on the list. She didn't mind too much, though. All work is good work, and gave her a chance to practice her Single Mind Devotion. It was her choice, after all, to help out Orbis however she could. He taught her that life is nothing but choices. Besides, this put her into daily contact with Orbis, and that was always a good thing.
Yumi believed Orbis was going to save the world, or at least wake it up as if from a long drunken sleep. She believed this with clear, calm conviction; with the same buoyancy as looking over her bank statement and satisfied with the balance. This was why she abandoned law school to become his personal assistant after hearing him speak at the college. Students had laughed at him, the girls mooned, the Marxist professors sneered at his naiveté, but she knew with every atom of her existence she was witnessing Truth. Friends and family were furious -- so much time, planning and education wasted, they thought -- but she was convinced she was going on a beautiful journey to reshape the world, safe for glorious satisfaction.
"Good morning Yumi." Orbis chirped melodically seating himself on the corner of the bed and dragging the rolling cart closer to him. She noticed his toenails needed clipping and shaping. It meant he wasn't getting enough oil in his diet (She made herself an expert on vegetarian nutrition, though she wasn't one herself. She loved sushi too much.)
"Good morning, sir." Yumi said evenly, positively. Orbis wasn't pleased if there was negativity around him. Especially this early in the morning. He usually had a pair of Tibetan bells tethered with red silk on the bed stand that he would clink together, and let the vibration widen throughout the environment, the hum cleansing the air of false pride.
What is on the schedule for today?" Orbis looked at tofu breakfast burrito. In a silver bowl were perfect melon balls. Yumi sat down in a chair off to the side, against the wall. She crossed her shapely legs and leafed through her book.
"Meditation at 9am. Then off to Rockefeller Center for the recording of The Dakota Lawson Show."
"Ahhh ... I'm looking forward to that one." Orbis lifted his silver tea pot (noticing how strong he looked in its distorted reflection) and poured himself a cup of oat straw tea.
"How so??" Yumi looked up under her brow. She was fascinated with how his mind worked, hoping for a sermon of some sort, some clippings of instant karma she could carry with her into the maelstrom of the New York City morning.
"I have a wonderful discovery to announce." Orbis was pleased with himself, and took the forkful of burrito with evident gusto. "It will change how we all view ourselves and the world."
Yumi nodded and went back to her book, a little disappointed but still hopeful. She was used to the hype of her boss. Whenever a new book was published, he always spoke this way. He often seemed like he was rehearsing. He was usually bubbling over with ideas to promote this. Like when he had the idea for Praxis, the meta-harmonious spa he personally bankrolled. He thought having holy men from different religious disciplines come and bless the place. He worried about the Catholics though. They had a tendency to poo-poo scenes like this, and this could put a cloud over the co-existence he was attempting. Still, he did manage to find a priest somewhere who would go through with this, and even helped the Hopi medicine man by personally escorting the buffalo skull as they lindy hopped around the building. Good times, and he was repaid with a couple of honorary degrees.
Orbis finished his burrito, picked up a piece of bean sprout and munched. "We have quite a day before us; let's get to it!" He set the tray aside and stood, finished his tea, then stretched. Yumi set her leather black book aside, stood and immediately stepped out of her dress. This was why Orbis approved of such simple garments; not only was the hemp a self sustaining material, they were easier to get out of. Truly, a return to nature.
* * *
The TV studio was smaller than Orbis thought it would be, cramped with lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling. There was room for a small audience, but not much. Just enough for applause and -- importantly -- laughter.
The hostess had been on TV for as long as Orbis could remember. Back in the day, when he was a mere physicist, his ex-wife had been a huge fan of her. Anything she said was treated as holy writ. Her photos were everywhere here: the green room, the hallway connecting the green room with the studio, and against the walls at the back of the building.
"Good morning," Dakota Lawson said musically, holding out her hand with an extended arm, but the long buffed nails seems to be aiming at his crotch. Orbis wondered if that was on purpose. He brushed aside her hand with a warm paw and gave her a hug. She didn't meld into the hug. She was thin, hard, like PVC piping. Rigid, unyielding. Orbis made a note of that too for later.
"You seem tense. Is everything all right?" He said with a warm vanilla smile as their hands dropped.
"Yes, I'm fine, really. I'm very glad you're here." She said. Her voice was feminine in pitch but not in tone. She was someone who fought hard to get where was, and was not going to give it up easily.
"This is where the interview will be." She said, stepping back and sweeping her arm over the set. There were two overstuffed chairs facing each other, with a backdrop of the city. Orbis marveled again at how small it all was.
Dakota was much older than the 15 photos adorning the studio. But an army of nutritionists and make up and wardrobe were very clever in concealing it. Her hair had a metallic tint to it, the pancake make up a little too thick, making her skin seem like a mask. Her eyes were a bit too watery and a lemony color. But she made up for it in movement. Short sharp quick movements, in how she pointed, sharp short sentences speaking with her staff, short sharp steps to the center of her universe: before the cameras.
"Here are your messages." Yumi whispered to Orbis. He turned to her and accepted the pile of post-its. Her hand brushed his and slowed. He began reading the notes and she vanished back into the shadows behind the lights.
"Here is your microphone." The production assistant said, holding up what seemed to be a small black fly.
"Of course." Orbis let his hands drop to his side and opened his chest.
"I just wanted to say I love your books. You've really changed my life. Especially It's All About You. I read that one twice and gave copies to all my friends."
"Kind words, thank you." That book was a New York Times Best seller. It was his fourth book, but it was the one that made him a millionaire. He doesn't like to use the word "book". Books were for cookbooks and children's stories. He preferred the word "tome." That was something that meant something. His works would stand the test of time, he hoped. That made those collections of windy gas captured between the pages "tomes."
Orbis steped up onto the dais and seated himself in the oversized chair. A production assistant appeared with a mug emblazoned with the show's logo and some coffee in it. Orbis waved his hand, "No, no. I don't have stimulants." He said milkily. "I would prefer Briarwood's number 5 patchouli tea. It was cultivated in a co-op, free from the taint of all violence and avarice by orphaned children."
The assistant stopped in her tracks, looked at Orbis with a mixture of respect and confusion. She had never heard of the tea he described, but he knew of it, so it must be good. "I'll send someone out for some," She said. "You wouldn't happen to know where you could get some?"
"I don't bother with consumerism." Orbis said with gravity, his eyes locked with the assistants, "Shopping chips away at the soul, leaving it vulnerable to the temptations of our material decadence."
Whatever. "We'll find some. Thank you for raising my awareness." She said. Orbis caught of a flash of ... what was it? Facetiousness? He wasn't sure, but he wasn't going to pursue that line of thought. It led to dark places.
"You are welcome. This is what my life's work is all about --"
"Okay, five minutes." Dakota had reappeared from her dressing room into the studio. Her entourage, a pack of blackberried insect hive workers, stationed themselves out of camera shot all around the studio. They turned down the volumes, beeps and songs of their communicator devices. The lights overhead danced off their screens and glasses, obscuring their eyes. But Ms. Lawson didn't care about their eyes. She knew instinctively they were watching her every move, anticipating every thought.
"I'm going to introduce you, then ask you what you've been up to. That will open the way for you to begin discuss of your new book." Dakota pointed to the small table between the chairs. Her brows furrowed, or at least tried to under the Botox.
"Where is the book?" Her voice grew choppy and harsh, loud and unforgiving.
"Right here." Another assistant appeared, as if from the floor, and set the book down onto the table, turning it so the title was facing the host. Lawson wasn't smiling.
"I want everything ready when I get onto this damn set." She said, to no one in particular, which meant to everyone. Even to the grips and techs, who really had nothing to do with her personally, but because they were part of her world, that meant they were responsible for her happiness.
Orbis was the serene statue of calm in all this. He used to get mildly nervous whenever he did these interviews. Once he had tapped the power of his inner goddess he was free of it all. That was the subject of his second book Mama'll Help!, a series of stories demonstrating how the Goddess taught him to be a better person. And if it would for him, it would for everyone else.
"3 ... 2 ... 1 --"
"Good morning all you lucky people in America! This is Dakota Lawson, and this is the Morning Show." The people in the audience clapped warmly. They were mostly friends and family of the crew, people who had been pestering their loved ones about a chance to see their favorite hostess. And when there weren't enough butts for the chairs, the production assistants would go downstairs to the network's studio shop and corral some fans there. Dakota liked that. It reached out to the people, made for good PR, and added a level of enthusiasm otherwise jaded industry folk and hangers on didn't have.
"We have with us today a really special guest. He is a world renowned spiritual master. He had been working with spiritual masters from all around the world, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Japan, India and Russia. You all know him from his previous New York Times bestsellers. His name is Orbis."
Lights flashed briefly up in the tangled darkness and the audience began clapping and whooping. Orbis gave another warm vanilla smile, the very picture of well scrubbed, modern enlightenment.
"Good morning, Dakota. May I use your first name?"
"Of course you can, Orbis. You and I have known each other for years!"
"That's wonderful. First names are much more friendly. I'm working on breaking the barriers of this cultural formalism."
"I'm glad to hear that. I hear you've been working on something new. Please tell us about it?"
Orbis's eyes sparkled. First, he was satisfied she used the word please. These were all words Orbis considered part of The Enlightenment Code (the name of his first book). These were a series of words or phrases that, when used throughout the world, signaled to everyone how spiritually in tune you were. The Bliss Index (his third book) then could be graphed and you could follow the level of your adaptation into the world, bringing your learning and pax with you. His books interlocked into one cohesive mix. The Cochise Mantra would be his answer to the question "Then what...?"
"Today I have an exclusive for your show, Dakota."
Dakota leaned forward in her chair, interestedly. Her eyes betrayed her actual non-interest (She secretly loathed Orbis and his new age mumbo jumbo. She believed in the healing properties of Fame and Power).
"I'm dying to hear about this!" Dakota said in her well-oiled excitement. Her eyes glanced fleetingly at the title of the book, so she wouldn't forget it.
"As you know, before I became enlightened and free from the wheels of destructive karma, I was a mere physicist." Orbis lifted his chin, eyes lidded. Yumi was standing amongst the other assistants in the half light behind the directed beams of studio lighting and screening. She knew that look. It usually meant he was going oracular. He had mentioned that to her earlier, between tantric coils, but she was thinking he was talking about the new book. That's what she got for losing herself in mundane-ness. She had to work on her soul listening.
"One of the problems that faces a physicist is the nature of our world. How it is shaped, what is holding it together. Our consciousness is the doorway to understanding a world of phantasms that we cannot understand because our mundane thoughts get in the way."
Dakota worked hard to keep up with the nonsense, but ended up only smiling an nodding as if he were talking about the latest line of mink coats.
"That's wonderful." Dakota whispered, "I love the way you talk."
"So do I." Yumi breathed to herself. One of Dakota's assistants glanced sideways at her, realized she really didn't say that, waited to make sure, and shifted his attention back where it belonged, on his boss. Another assistant began texting.
"I have come here today to make a very important announcement. This is the kind of announcement that can only be said once, because the very nature of it will change forever how we view our life here on this planet."
God, he was good, Dakota thought enviously, her smile frozen in place and her head still wagging.
"Science has been struggling with the nature of Mind for a thousand years. We don't know the source of it. Many have said God is the source of our thinking, of our understanding the definition of Truth. Others say our rationality is the end result of millions of years of DNA encoding. Is it both, is it neither? I don't believe in duality, as you know, Dakota --" No, she didn't know, whatever that meant -- "But I believe the question gets lost in useless ego-fantasizing that keeps the Mind from discovering it's true Essence."
This was the place for Orbis to pause. He glanced about him for the cup of patchouli tea. The assistant hadn't found any, so he just folded his hands across his belly, and leaned forward in his chair, though it was difficult to do this gracefully because the chair was large and deep. Dakota was fixed on the edge of hers.
"Using a mixture of science and spirituality, I have come to the conclusion that the very seat of our consciousness -- the very Power that defines our life -- is basically a hormone."
Dakota blinked. "A hormone?"
"Yes, a hormone. It isn't God who is the cause of our Mind. We keep aiming too high, because we secretly hope that there is a deeper, higher purpose to our life. The answer is here," taps his chest, "Right here, so close we can't see it. It's like trying to look at your right ear. Yes, this hormone is the cause of life and consciousness. I have named it Brahmamone™, from Brahma."
Dakota thought for a moment. Blinked, then sat back in the depths of the huge chair. "You mean God is a chemical?" She came off sounding disbelieving. She honestly didn't want to do that; she was a seasoned professional after all.
"I believe God is a choice, not an imperative. It is through my research I've discovered that there is nothing biological about belief in a higher power. It is merely an emotional attitude."
"That's a challenging notion," Dakota said, "Also an ancient one that, if memory serves, has been refuted over and over again through the years. You seem to be taking a lid off a can of worms. You're going to make a lot of religious people unhappy."
"I'm not in the business of making people unhappy," Orbis said and crossed his legs to demonstrate how comfortable he was with his information, "I'm just spreading the light."
"Well, I think there will be a lot of people who view this as inflammatory. What about the billions of people throughout the world who believe they know and have experienced a Higher Power?"
"The only higher Power to believe in, and I think they would agree with me if they used their brains, is Truth. And I'm bringing Truth into their lives. So they should appreciate my help."
Dakota let that statement absorb into her mind. Personally, she couldn't imagine anything bigger than Viacom, but this was a bombshell of an idea. If it was true. But something, somewhere, back in the silent black waters of her mind, knew it wasn't. However, this would guarantee her a spot on the evening news, as well as stories through the blogosphere.
"Well, I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this in the days to come. I hear you have something else new. Want to share it?" Dakota leaned back into her chair, head tilted though her hair didn't move. She lifted eyebrows in expectation, though nothing would top Obis' earlier announcement.
"Yes. I have a new book coming out."
"Yes. It is detailing all the wonderful stories coming out of my Distillation Homes. Praxis has been bringing clarity and healing to hundreds of men and women throughout the New Mexico region."
"I've heard of your new venture. It sounds wonderful."
"Yes, it's outside of Sante Fe. Basing the ideas of sage sensing and harmonics I've developed with Native American shamans, this is another step on our quantum consciousness."
" A fascinating endeavor. It's comforting to know good work is being done all around the planet. Orbis, it's always a pleasure to have you on my show."
"Thank you Dakota. It's always refreshing."
Dakota turned to the camera, "We'll be right back with Joy McNamera to discuss what your color is."
Dakota sat perched forward in her seat, big wide white smile frozen into place. The camera shut off and the lights dimmed. That grin snapped back to a rosebud of a mouth like a rubber band let go. She leaned back in the chair, uncrossed her spindly legs, then shot upright.
"Thanks for being here." Dakota tapped Orbis lightly on his knee with one claw-like fingernail. Orbis glanced at her hands. You could tell a lot about people by looking at their hands. Dakota's were long, sinewy and manicured. An athlete who wants to look good while she vaults over others.
"It was so nice meeting you." She said. Her voice was like a vat of honey hiding a crowbar down at the bottom. Orbis gladly took her hand in a limp gesture signifying passivity and nonviolence of any kind. They shook once and let go, ritual complete. The hostess picked up her clipboard of questions and clacked away though the studio.
Continued next week ...
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