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 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 Swiss Alps cutting jaggedly along the sky.
The train had just come from those peaks, or more specifically a glacier saddle between them called Jungfraujoch. At over eleven-thousand feet, the once desolate mountain saddle had been transformed into a haven for tourists seeking a high-altitude adventure without the work thanks to a nine-kilometer railway partially built into the mountains, complete with Europe's highest-altitude post office, several 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. Walter’s train to Amsterdam tomorrow, however, was leaving even earlier, five-thirty. 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? However, his encounter with Shiva was just as strange and just as well could’ve been an illusion, but at least he had some real proof of that illusion: the Ace of Cups, still safely tucked away in his wallet. But then again, maybe everything since Amsterdam had been imagined, an imagining he was still experiencing. Maybe he never actually made it to Amsterdam. Maybe he lost his mind back in London and that’s where his “real” self was, heavily sedated and strapped to a hospital bed in some psych unit. Maybe Europe had made him lose his mind. That would be the most rational explanation.
However, whether inside his head or not, this was the reality he was dealt and Amsterdam seemed to be the place where he would find out, or if not, hopefully find his way out. At least that’s the impression Fate or Beatrice or whoever’s answer gave him. He had to find out what happened to Shiva, and Dug was somehow at the center of it. But Fate/Beatrice also said divine love was sometimes in the strangest of places, but Walter hoped to God Dug wasn’t what it/she meant by strange.
Speaking of God, of course maybe all this strangeness was him or her or it, but why would God be so concerned with Walter’s affairs when there were so many other affairs he or she or it should be concerned with over his? No, God was only further proof of insanity.
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. 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?”
“I don’t know. Just sensed something in the sinookas I suppose, like our karass was beginning to wane into its other wampeter. Back in Venice, when we were a part, I just began thinking about how maybe you should go back to Amsterdam. Maybe you should do everything you can while you’re still on the same continent as Shiva—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. I think I might’ve been a wrang-wrang in the wrong direction by convincing you to continue this tour.”
Walter laughed. “I see you’ve taken to Cat’s Cradle,” he said. He had given Kourtney the book four days earlier after he had finished reading it. “And apparently you’ve experienced quite the vin-dit. But 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. Also, I haven’t told you yet, but I got my sign from Fate, and funny enough, it happened in Venice too.”
“Really? What was it?”
Walter took a few starts before figuring out what to say. “Well...” he said, “even though it really wasn’t, I can only describe it as a sign from God only I would understand—or it could’ve been a psychotic episode. Either way, I’m pretty sure it meant go back to Amsterdam—I think—I hope.”
“Well, as Bokonon says,” Kourtney said, “'peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God’. Maybe you should let God lead the dance.”
“But what is God?”
“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.”
Walter 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.
“Man, you’ve really gone deep into Bokononism,” he said.
“Apparently I have,” Kourtney said. “I’m just as surprised with how much has stuck with me after finishing the book. For a fake religion built on lies it sure speaks a hell of a lot of truth. Maybe Kurt Vonnegut is God or something. Or maybe just the god assigned to you.”
“Would sure explain a hell of a lot . . . 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 asked.
“Well, at this point you’ve convinced me Kurt Vonnegut will have it no other way,” Walter said with a smile that quickly fell away. “However, something in the sinookas is telling me this next leg of my journey is one I have to face alone as much as I want my trusty wrang-wrang with me.”
“I know,” she said. “Something in the sinookas also told me this. Like I said, our karass is waning into its other wampeter, and I believe that wampeter is concerned with finding you true 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.”
“Yes, but that doesn’t make it any easier leaving you, and by you, I mean especially you. How did I ever get by without a friend like you?”
Kourtney wiped a wayward tear from his face doing her best to contain herself. “Let’s not begin goodbyes just yet,” she said. “Let’s do it somewhere out of the public eye because I know I’ll be a mess. What do you say to another romantic friendship date after dinner tonight? I know a great little lookout point near the chalet that would be great for a smoke sesh and some stargazing.”
At dinner, Walter said goodbye to Curt and explained why in terms only a Bokononist of the same karass would understand, and of course he clearly understood. He too had already sensed something in the sinookas. For everyone else, a little foma was provided about a mix up of flight plans that had Walter leaving out of Amsterdam instead of Paris and it was too late and too expensive to try and change it.
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. In the air, rumblings and mutterings of rushing water from the nearby Lütschine River and the many waterfalls beating the valley walls.
The trail soon 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 view was somewhat similar to the one from the train window earlier, except now the valley was only a silhouetted cradle against the shimmering sky, the village looking like a small globule of stars that had dripped down 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 walking to the platform edge 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?”
She laughed. “Yes, that place.”
“I can see it. It’s certainly an otherworldly place, the most beautiful place I think I’ve been. And those stars…” he said fanning his hand over them.
“You’re always looking at those stars aren’t you?” she said smiling.
“It’s the closest thing I have to prayer. It gives me perspective on things.”
“So it’s where you talk to God?”
“You mean Kurt Vonnegut?”
They again burst into laughter, their chuckles stretching and contracting against the rock walls and the lapping laughter of the waterfall.
“Well, Vonnegut or not,” Walter said, “God is giving me some good fodder for one hell of a book. Maybe that’s our karass’s other wampeter. It is really why I came on this trip. I just didn’t know every karass has two wampeters. I didn’t know God also wanted me to find true love. I never thought I deserved it.”
“Oh, so every wampeter revolves around you?” Kourtney smiled teasingly. “Your book better have a character based on me.”
“Of course, but she’ll be no substitute for the real thing. However, I guess she’ll have to make due for me until our karass feels the need to wax us back together.”
“Well, something in the sinookas tells me it certainly will, possibly soon. Curt and I are staying in Paris for a week after the tour ends. Promise you’ll come find us if you don’t find a reason to stay in Amsterdam? You already said your plane home takes off from there anyway. 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? 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 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, 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 then shared a long and powerful hug and sob, then laid down on the blanket they brought, took off their shoes and socks, and 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.
Best friends are the best because they are the ones you can be your silliest with, your craziest with, your most pathetic with, your best with, your true self with, even if you can’t always be with them, for time and space has no effect on best friends. True best friends are forever even if those best friends only get the chance to meet once in life . . . or after life.