The plateau was on no particular mountain, and every mountain, both at the same time. Trees ranging in species from tropical willow, to deciduous birch to ever-green Douglass fur that had survived eons of climatic changes spoke to each other about their experiences, and who they had witnessed on this plateau of transition that always remained the same, to the human eyes as their bearers were acquiring other ocular sensors. In the center of it was a collection of fourteen rocks arranged in a circle, each of them throbbing their own color. Some of those hues had names on ‘planet earth’, and some emitted colors which had not been named yet by mortals, as the evolution of the human species regarding its Creative potential was still a ‘Work in Progress’.
But it was not so much which color the rocks emitted but the harmonic beats which they emitted light to. All of those colors of course in this porthole between life and what some still ignorantly called death when combined formed a White Light when seen from a distance. That Light was amplified by beams from above which penetrated into the Medicine Wheel, and below. The mantra which this porthole vibrated to was the continuous, thunderous ‘sound’ of Silence. The music, this ‘day’ anyway, the Overture from Parsifal.
Human souls about to experience different ‘bodies’ were guided to this wheel by various messengers. Some of those messengers had hoofs, carrying their riders at a rhythmic gallop that felt just as intense when on the rock hard ground as when it was over clouds which covered the plateau. Other messengers were winged, carrying their cargo with swooping movements that both utilized and created wind currents that opened and closed the ‘sky’ on their own terms. Still other messengers, on this porthole anyway, were Aboriginal in their former lives, maintaining their various Shamanistic dress, mannerisms and languages. They guided, on this day, mostly visually impaired pale-faced souls to the wheel. Most of the souls delivered to this mountain plateau, and porthole, had self-directed themselves there by absorbing the music of Parsifal, and other pieces written, or rather channeled through, Richard Wagner, which connected them to Spirit, big S. Some insisted that Beethoven’s 9th be played as they took in their last breath of earthly air. All of them, on this day in 2020 (according to the calendar ‘below’), were headed to a ‘good’ place. Valhalla, Nirvana, Heaven or a next incarnation which promised and delivered better ‘life’ than their previous one. All were allowed entry into the medicine wheel, passing by an old man with tight wrinkles on his still handsome face slumbering outside the connection of rocks, conducting another piece of music he as composing in the midst of a dream. That man, clad in a large purple beret, a felt coat, satin scarf and colorfully baggy trousers, was the assignment for a well muscled, over experienced and specially assigned Messenger Guide.
Said Messenger’s long, black hair was tied back in a long mane, complimenting a fringed buckskin overshirt and leggings. He called himself Omilik, though he accepted being referred to by a hundred other names during his service on earth dating back to Biblical times. And his service in the afterlife relating to people that there was far more to God, and Spirit, than what was written in the Bible, Koran, Gita, and even his most beloved Torah.
Omilik glanced down at the old man in the large purple beret and over the top flamboyant outfit for ANY century who was sleeping outside the medicine, wondering what he was dreaming about. Whatever it was, it seemed to be an intense dream. The old Bohemian’s hands seemed to be conducting an orchestra that was playing the music coming out of the Medicine Wheel. His voice hummed harmonics, then loudly sung complimentary melodies to the Parsifal Overture, which the composer of such had never published in his lifetime. Omilik stared at then into the old Bohemian’s wrinkled face, which reeked intensity through a constellation of human emotions, each one of them coordinated with the key changes coming out of the Porthole. “No, it couldn’t be,” Omilik said to himself, after which he pulled his cell phone from under his deerskin belt. A scan of the dreaming but certainly not sleeping self-absorbed Maestro’s eyes, which were open so wide the fire coming in set fire to the brain, confirmed Omilik’s suspicions, hopes and fears. Yes, it is Richard Wagner, delivered to this spot a mere 137 years after his soul was liberated from his body due to, ironically, a heart attack. From a man who some say had a heart as big as Valhalla, and other said had no heart at all. And it was time to determine which was the case. With Omilik specially assigned to the case.
“Hey, wake up, time to get up, Richard. Herr Wagner” he whispered to the still conducting composer in Cree, gently shaking his shoulders.
“Maestro Wagner!” the old but certainly not elderly man shot back with half opened eyes. “I’m not finished composing the newest version of my opera yet!”
“Parsifal is already four hours too long,” Omilik replied, in German, with rolling eyebrows, voicing the opinions of more than a handful of music, and even German opera, lovers. “It’ time for you to be woken up to… the next dimension,” he continued with a voice inviting the composer whose music invited listeners to experience infinite and ever expanding horizons with each passage of music that could be the finale on its own terms.
Wagner continued to conduct the new version of Parisfal in his continued dream, with a bolder voice, and bigger arm movements. One of his hands was clenched in a victorious and defiant fist, the other giving the third finger to Omilik.
After considering the options, and the time table his bosses sent on the cell phone, Omilik reached for the leather canteen strapped to his waste, emptying its contents onto the gyrating face of the composer who was embracing the most blissful elements of pain and pleasure.
Finally, Wagner woke up to the ‘real’ world. The music around him stopped, something Omilik didn’t expect, but now had to accept as part of the opera about to happen.
“Where…was I? How long have I been…?” Wagner screamed out as his eyes beheld the mountain plateau in all of its rugged and ever-changing glory, as if he knew every tree, bush and rock on it.
“Sleeping?” Omilik placed the cell phone in front of Wagner’s eyes, showing him the date. “Waiting in limbo…about 150 years, give or take…Or as measured in musical terms, a century past ragtime, 35 years since rock. 55 past Disco. And 5 years since fusion of everything into anything that soul dead distributors and conditioned listeners erroneously call ‘hip’, ‘cool’ and ‘new’.”
“And in political terms?” Wagner asked as he got up on his feet, dusted off his coat, then insured that his hat was securely in place in the oblique manner showing off his ‘good’ side. “And social terms? How long has it been?” the German composer demanded to know from the ‘noble savage’ who he seemed to value as a mentor as well as servant.
“Well, a hundred and ten years past Custer for us,” Omilik replied, gazing with a fond and bitter heart at the fourteen rocks of the medicine wheel, recalling the same arrangements of poles in a circle for teepees that felt more like home for him in three golden incarnations than the mansions he experienced in other lifetimes. “Two world wars on your side of the Pond for you,” he said, recalling the painful moans of agony and the mindless yelps of victory that had preceded them, on both sides battle-lines he had experienced. “And one more war on the way, if we don’t’ get something settled here,” Omilik continued, gazing down through a hole in clouds which was the ‘ground’ for the mountain into the ‘real material world’ valley of self-destructive mortals below heading to their high paying jobs at munion factories and the Army base nearby, blissfully beginning another day of ‘dog eat dog’ economics which they called Free Market ‘Our Country First’ Capitalism. “Here being…” he said, keeping his back turned to Maestro Richard.
“The doorway to Heaven?” Wagner inquired of his intensively pre-occupied guide, as he quietly snuck towards the inside of the Medicine wheel, which was now ten times the distance away relative to his position at his awakening, for reasons he could not understand but had to accept. “Valhalla? Nirvana? The place of final merging with the Infinite that is beyond definition, and any religion, but within all who seek to serve and become it.” Feeling the urge to be more boldly expressive with his humble inquiry, he sung with progressive key changes escalating its way through and beyond C major to his still back turned audience, “Where Sigfried and Brunhilde went when after they defied the old gods who kept humanity subservient. Opened to heroes when Brunhilde rode her horse through the impenetrable walls of the gods to toss their magic ring back to them so humanity, male, female and otherwise, could be liberated. Where Tristan and Isolde can and always have enjoyed the love they were forbidden while being mortals on earth…Where…I can see as well as feel the music that I wrote, and was used as a channel for Spirit that is beyond all theology, so that— “ The unauthorized entry into the medicine wheel that whisked bold warriors and even braver artists up to Valhalla, and beyond, was halted by an invisible brick wall the Maestro felt with his overgrown nose on his oversized head. Pulling back from it, to see how bad said schnoz was breathing, Wagner noted a smile on the side of the face of the nameless First Nations Shaman. The stone but certainly not stoned age Porthole Guard maneuvered a few more buttons on the small rectangular beyond 19th century device he held in his hand, which when operated with a few effortless maneuverings of his blister-less manicured fingers, lowered the intensity of the light coming down to the circle of rocks. The hard light of ‘normal’ day from the sun revealed a dark, black bottomless hole in the middle of the circle of magical rocks that now appeared as sharp, blood stained, cold stones that reeked of purulent flesh. That image of the abyss alternated with Light from above, closing the trap door to the bottomless pit with solid state ground covered with a thick layer of flower bearing grasses, providing the nose with the most soul-awakening and mind-pleasing aromas.
“Most call me Omilik,” the Messenger replied by way of explanation, and regret, for reasons he kept to himself. “But to you, I’m assigned to be—“
“—-The manipulator of this opera that’s playing in my head because I drank the wrong bottle of wine, from one of my competitors who thinks he can make me think I’m crazy, insane, or a soul-dead, overpaid newspaper critic who wants to scare me into Fire and Brimstone Christianity who wants to make me think that I’m—-“
“—-Dead, Richard,” Omilok replied, showing the disheveled Maestro pictures of his own funeral on the small rectangular hand held device that flashed a different photograph with each swipe of his long fingers. “Dead, at least to the still ‘living’, Great Spirit bless and help them.”
Realizing what had been going on was not due to ingestion of the wrong firewater, or something slipped into a his drink, Wagner addressed ‘the devil’ in the pit while the gateway to his ‘kingdom’ appeared to his blood shot, mind altered eyes. “What the hell,” he voiced, thinking it to be a pun he could use in his next compositions, after which the medicine wheel turned back into its heavenly presentation to the faculties of vision and smell. “Or rather, what the ‘hec’ are You doing?” the Maestro address towards the Heavenly Light pouring down upon the collection of one again, magical stones. “Wasn’t it my music that enabled so many to find this place while still living? And find their way to at the time of dying, or rather…Resurrection, as you promised, pledged and are obliged to deliver?”
“Yes, for some,” Omilik said as he reached out his hand to help Wagner up off the ground.
“For…many!” Richard grumbled back, refusing to accept the guide’s hand, pushing himself back up on his own two, still intact, feet.
“For several,” Omilik conceded.
“Several million!” Wagner replied, hoping to see some kind of acknowledgment of that wishful posthumous hypothesis in Omilik’s poker face, but seeing nothing. “Who were guided here by my music!” he asserted, recalling, between ‘sleeps’, seeing souls humming, singing or shaking their defiant fists to the tune of his music on this plateau. Having seen no refuting of the power of his music, nor the people transformed by it at the time of passing, the humble Maestro proudly continued. “Music that made them act more heavenly, more Godike, and effectively for the common good while still on earth.
“Yes….You are accurate, Omilik replied as he punched in the numbers, allowing Wagner sneak in front of over his tall shoulders.
“I knew it!” Wagner proclaimed, his right hand up to the sky praising It, the anxious terror-driven pounding of the heart in left chest finally subsiding. .
“But not completely… right. Or…justified, to your music being the fuel that drives the Fires of Goodness to full expression,” Omilik replied, stealing the words out of Wagner’s mouth before he could voice them.
“What do you mean, justified?” Wagner barked back, feeling for the first time in this cold high plateau on the mountain taller than any other mountains, sweat pouring down his face “Am I going to hell? Where the devil is?” he mused, then considered as possible fact.
“To our people there is no such thing as hell,” Omilik assured him with a sincere voice and, somehow, all knowing eyes.
Wagner looked down at the ground inside the medicine wheel, pondering what would happen next, relieved that one of his nightmares was only a bad dream. Just as he took in a deep breath of air that found its way into a lightened chest rather than one that was heavy and tense, Omilik opened his overshirt, revealing a yellow Star of David on his over his, literally, bleeding heart.
Meanwhile, oblivious to that juxtaposition of cultures and dimensional rules, Wagner ranted on, the deep and dark musical dramatist turning what had that terrified him just moments ago into nearly wetting his Bohemian trousers into the object of ridicule and humor which, came out as a lyrical dance through his lips. “No punishment for sins, transgressions or miscalculations in a burning heap of fire for me then in my constant quest to use story to dispel theological lies and inspire human SERVING actions? No special hotel room for the Promethian rebel down below, hosted by a sadistic taskmaster Lucifer. Or his ‘wife’, the PMS bitch I almost hired to play Venus from Tannhauser, or my first wife, who wanted to sterile everyone’s soul to be just as non-committed to Life big L as her own was? Hmm?”
Omilik took in a deep, reflective breath, averting his eyes, then turned to Wagner, utilizing the gentility of his voice and the sharpness of his words. “For our people, Hell is having whatever you did on earth be discredited, perverted, or forgotten.”
Indeed, the arrow hit a bulls-eye at the Core of Wagner’s soul as he envisioned such happening. “Being forgotten, misunderstood or discredited. The worse kind of punishment for people like…me,” he related, and confessed, staring into space. “But heaven to your people is?” he asked, looking up at the tall First Nations guide with a vulnerability he dared not show any mortal while on earth.
Omilik turned his back on Wagner and the medicine wheel. Meanwhile, Wagner tried yet again to make his way into the wheel to enter the Kingdom of the Enlightened on his own terms. “Something we don’t think about when living, or at the time of transitioning,” Wagner heard from the Old Indian, in a diction that was…yes, Yiddish, with the musicality of that ethnicity which drove Wagner ballistic while he was ‘alive’ “Or heaven for us I suppose is having our Work survive us, the Chosen people. Yahweh help us,”
“Ah yes, your people,” Wagner said, noting condescension coming out of his mouth, which turned into apprehension, then guilt upon seeing the Jewish six sided star on Omilik’s First Nations’ chest. “The Lost Tribe of Israel, according to some, who found their way here. The chosen people,” Wagner replied, trying to transform his disdain for the Yiddish culture into an academic investigation.
“Or, maybe, if we obey the ten commandments and the other ones that came down from Sinai and the other mountains, we can continue our Great Works in a next lifetime,” Omilik, or perhaps ‘Omilikowitz’ replied, with defiance but amazingly, no bitterness “A mitzfa.” The Ancient Indian Jew with the face that never developed wrinkles smiled into empty space.
“Indeed, a mitzfa. A gift,” Wagner replied while taking still another step toward the Heavenly gate, revealing and showing his knowledge of the Jewish culture, to a Jew who, was clearly different than most. Or perhaps any Jew he had met in the flesh, or invented for the stage.
“Or…maybe, sometimes, to rediscover and continue it with a different consciousness and identity,” Omilik shot back.
“An idea I never did put into an opera because, well, Reincarnation…was not believed by everyone in the audience. Or my patrons. Who…” Wagner replied.
Just as Wagner was about to enter the wheel, merging with the Light coming down from below, Omilik pressed another button on his ‘notebook’. That Divine Light went out. The rocks turned into sand. Wagner found himself tripping over himself, falling ass first into a pile of dried buffalo dung.
While Wagner shook and scraped away what he could from his ass, Omilik changed into a three piece suit, the jacket containing a yellow Star of David plastered over the left breast pocket. .’Before we decide where you go, and what you become, and…can do, there is one question that has to be resolved. One charge. One offense that people from many cultures said you did,” Omilik, perhaps, as his Native self, and Omilikowitz said by way of explanation.
“—Six million of my people…Who died in the Camps? At the hands of your most fanatical and dedicated patron!” Omilik blasted back at Wagner with primal rage, his gentle brown eyes now beet red with anger as he pulled out a photo from his pocket, ramming it into Wagner’s confounded face. “Your most fanatical and dedicated patron! Him! Adolf Hitler!”
“Who seems to be a disturbed, and evil possessed, man,” Wagner replied, calmly, and analytically, as he stared at the face of the middle aged man with the strange mustache and possessed look in his oculars.
“Who started a war that nearly destroyed the world! That killed 70 million people! Orchestrated by YOUR music,” Omilik shouted into Wagner’s face so intensely that the saliva accompanying each word seemed to burn a hole into the German composer’ face.
“When, where?” Wagner inquired.
“1933 to 1945. EVERYWHERE, Maestro!”
“I died, according to YOUR calculations, fifty years before this deluded idiot and probably asshole did whatever he did. So, what did I do?”
“According the charges laid against you, by…many.
“This is…absurd.” Wagner replied, unable to find any other word to describe this ‘event’ which he knew nothing about. “This is…
“—history,” Omilik answered, directing fire somehow though his now calm voice than any of his blood curdling screams. ”And being responsible for your actions, intensions or…suggestions,” he continued, sounding once again like a Moralist, and overly experience still-justice seeking lawyer.
“I have a right to defend myself,” Wagner stated, crumbing up the paper, throwing it on the ground. The wind blew it back into his face. “I have a right to defend myself!” he screamed at Omilik, the paper, and whatever Fates delivered him to this strange, yet familiar, place.
“Thanks to Hitler and the Nazis being finally defeated, you do,” Omilik’s calm reply.
“Nazis? What or who the hell are they!!?” Wagner demanded to know, finally pulling off the paper the wind had glued onto his face, discovering blood on his cheeks, and hands. Having lost the handkerchief from his own pocket, he yanked the neatly folded one from ‘Omikilowitz’s’ jacket pocket to wipe it off.
“You really don’t know,” Omilik volleyed back, calmly.
“No, I don’t! Where did they come from? These Nazis?”
“Your head, pen and music,” the Jewish Indian Lawyer stated as belief which had found its way into becoming, somehow, historical ‘fact’. “According to…some anyway,” Omilik related, and confessed.
“‘Some’ who I want to clear my name with,” Wagner asserted.
“And HAVE to clear your name, unless you are prepared to go…down there now,” he said, after which he pointed to the black hellish abyss inside the medicine wheel.
“And need to—,” the accused Maestro appended.
Omilik turned around, strolling towards a tree. Another burst of wind comes up. Wagner held onto his flamboyant hat, placing it on his head in defiance of the wind.
“Follow me. Here…,” Omilik instructed. “Gently, quietly. And hatless.” With that, he dissolved into the large trunked tree.
“Of course,” Wagner replied in English, German, French, Yiddish and Cree, the language of the tribe Omilik seemed to have been from. He boldly marched to the tree, singing at the top of his lungs, his hat still on, preparing to negotiate with History. The tree, and fates had different ideas. Wagner hit a brick wall as soon as his real flesh hit the tree. It produced a large, very real, and very hurting, bump on Wagner’s already oversized head.
“I said gently, quietly and…hatless,” he heard from Omilik from ‘inside’ the tree trunk. “Out of respect for…”
“I know,” Wagner conceded, leaving his hat behind, gently walking into the tree, then feeling himself transported to another realm which he could still not see. “But I demand compensation for my lost hat,” he was able to voice, just before he discovered he had emerged into—-.”