Something in The Sinookas
Walter awoke to the scent of freshly cut timber and pine needles. The ticktock of the train’s wheels hypnotically clapping atop the train tracks had lulled him and Kourtney to sleep, her shoulder serving as his pillow and his head serving as hers during the ride down the mountain. He stayed still not wanting to disturb her.
Outside the train’s window, dewed over from the clouds they had just emerged from, was the rustic village of their Swiss chalet, Lauterbrunnen, a growing nest of pink roofs on an endless throughway of vibrant green. Guarding over the village were the soaring gray limestone cliffs of Lauterbrunnen Valley, a broad, U-shaped valley ploughed into the earth as if dug by a gigantic ice cream scooper, topped with thick, dark forests, and braided with veins of whitewater waterfalls draining from the bleach white peaks of the Alps cutting jaggedly across the sky.
The train had just come from those peaks, or more specifically a glacier saddle between them called Jungfraujoch. Thanks to a nine-kilometer railway built partially into the mountains, the once desolate mountain saddle had been transformed into a haven for tourists seeking a high-altitude adventure without the work, complete with shops and restaurants, an elaborate manmade ice palace, and even ski slopes where Curt, an avid snowboarder, still was.
The three of them had taken the train up at the agonizing hour of six that morning, however, Walter’s train to Amsterdam tomorrow would be leaving even earlier. He still hadn’t told Kourtney yet because he still wasn’t sure if he was going through with it. Had he completely lost his mind? Was he really taking cues from illusions now, or his encounter with “Fate” as she liked to call herself?
Kourtney awoke and took her neck off Walter’s head. “So beautiful,” she said stretching her arms and looking out the window. “Are you going to the P-Party tonight?” she asked. P was the theme of the night’s costume party and any extrapolation on what that meant was accepted, but pirate, pimp, and policeman were the most popular picks.
“No,” Walter said. “There’s something I need to do early tomorrow morning. Are you going?”
“What do you think?” she said smiling.
“Didn’t figure you were, but you asked. The parties aren’t as bad as you think.”
“Yes they are. Especially tonight’s. Remember, I’ve been on one of these before, and at the P-Party on my last tour about a dozen blokes showed up with nothing on, taking P-Party to mean ‘penis’ party. Yeah, not for me. What’s so important to get you up early again tomorrow?”
“Well, I’m still not sure if I’m going through with it.”
“You’re going back to Amsterdam aren’t you?”
“How’d you know?”
Kourtney tilted her head and sighed. “I don’t know exactly,” she said. “Just sensed something in the sinookas I suppose.”
Walter laughed. “I see you’ve taken to Cat’s Cradle,” he said. He had given her his copy four days earlier. “And apparently you’ve experienced quite the vin-dit.”
“Yes,” she said laughing back. “For a fake religion built on lies, Bokononism sure speaks a hell of a lot of truth. Because of it—or because I read about it, I realized I might’ve been a wrang-wrang in the wrong direction by convincing you to stay on this tour. Maybe you should do everything you can to find Shiva while you’re still on the same continent as her—or hopefully you still are. It’s actually why I asked you what you were doing tonight. I wanted to talk to you about it. Since Venice, I feel like our karass has been waning into its other wampeter, and now I believe that other wampeter is concerned with finding you love. Not that Curt and I don’t love you, truly we do, but you know, a duprass only has room for one more, and you’re not going to find your ‘one’ with us two.”
“Man, you’ve really gone deep into Bokononism,” Walter said. “And no Kourtney, you were definitely a wrang-wrang in the right direction. I needed these last few days with you and Curt on tour more than you know. But strangely, also in Venice, I felt a pretty strong sensation in the sinookas too.”
“What was it?”
“Um...” he said drumming his fingers on the wooden train seat. “I’m not sure. I can only describe it as a sign from Fate, or maybe God, or maybe a psychotic episode. Either way, I’m pretty sure it meant go back to Amsterdam—I think—I hope.”
“Well,” Kourtney said smiling, “as Bokonon says, 'peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God’. Maybe you should let God lead the dance.”
“But who is God?” Walter asked.
“God is Love. That’s all God has to be.”
“But what is Love?”
“Love is you. And that’s all Love has to be.”
He thought about it. As simple as it was, other than music, it was an argument for God he couldn’t refute. Maybe God did have a place in life.
“Or maybe God is Kurt Vonnegut,” Kourtney said. “Or just the god assigned to you.”
“It would sure explain a hell of a lot,” Walter said. “Is this elevation making you feel as stoned as me?”
“Would sure explain a hell of a lot.”
They both fell into heavy chuckles, then fell quiet, watching the village slowly grow larger outside the window.
“So you’re for sure going back then?” Kourtney then asked.
“Well, at this point you’ve convinced me Kurt Vonnegut will have it no other way,” Walter said.
“Yes,” she wiped a wayward tear from her face, “but that doesn’t make it any easier letting you leave. What do you say to another romantic friendship date after dinner tonight? There’s a little lookout point in the valley that would be great for a smoke sesh and some stargazing.”
He smiled. “Somehow you always know the way to my heart Kourtney.”
After dinner, while everyone else dressed (and yes in some cases undressed) for the P-Party, Kourtney and Walter found a bottle of wine and some flashlights and headed to an overgrown gravel trail not far from the chalet running alongside one of the valley’s cliffsides. The sky was clear and moonless, encrusted over with stars, and in the air, rumblings and mutterings from the nearby Lütschine River and the many waterfalls beating the valley walls.
The trail began ascending, leading to a rock opening in the cliffside. Inside was a narrow and steep stairwell, and after a long and sharply zigzagging climb, they emerged onto a platform stamped into the rockface behind a gently flowing waterfall. The village now looked like a tiny globule of stars dripped down into the valley from the Milky Way river crossing overhead. Hanging over the globule was what looked to be a low-flying comet, but in actuality was the spot-lit sprays of a waterfall near the center of town.
“Oh my God,” Walter said leaning over a guardrail and feeling the underside of the waterfall.
“Right?” Kourtney said. “Lauterbrunnen was the stop I was looking forward to most. Did you know Tolkien’s inspiration for Rivendell was this valley?”
“The place in Lord of the Rings with all the elves?” he asked.
She laughed. “Yes, that place.”
“I can see it. It’s certainly otherworldly, the most beautiful place I think I’ve ever been. And those stars…” He fanned his hand over them. “I’ve never seen so many.”
“You’re always looking at those stars aren’t you?” she said snuggling closer to him on the guardrail.
“It’s the closest thing I have to prayer,” he said snuggling back. “It gives me perspective on things.”
“So it’s where you talk to God you could say?”
“You mean Kurt Vonnegut?”
They again burst into laughter, their chuckles stretching and contracting against the rock walls and the lapping of the waterfall.
“Curt and I are staying in Paris for a week after the tour ends,” Kourtney said once the laughter died. “Promise you’ll come find us if you don’t find a reason to stay in Amsterdam? You said your plane home takes off from there anyhow. Or maybe we can have the best of both worlds and you and Shiva come find us after you find her in Amsterdam?”
“Wouldn’t that be the happy ending?” Walter said. “Although it could be just as possible I go all the way to Amsterdam only to discover she won’t leave Mags.”
“Something in the sinookas makes me doubt that. But maybe we should boko-maru so we have Vonnegut on our side for a happy ending. You know how much God loves flattery.”
“Yes, but you also know He ‘never wrote a good play in his life.’”
Again they were overcome with giggles, giggles which only grew louder from the strange sound of their giggles echoing back at them in their rocky outcropping.
“Do we even need to get stoned with this elevation?” Walter asked still trying to control his laughter.
“No,” Kourtney said, “this is perfect enough. This is as close to heaven as I think you can get. I love you Walter.”
“I love you Kourtney.”
They shared a long hug and sob, then laid down on a blanket they brought, and took off their shoes and socks. They then kissed their naked soles together for their boko-maru, laughing so loudly it turned into snorting that sounded like a foghorn farting as it shot off into the dark down the valley.