Down a lamp-light powdered side street, behind a few green dumpsters that inter the remains of the day’s business, in the biggest city that is nearest to you, there exists a door.
This door, sometimes red, sometimes blue, often black, a wooden masterwork planed and scraped to make a perfect portal, opens into a store.
And in this store, this no-named emporium packed to wooden-beamed ceiling with otherworldly junk, with its exposed, spiderwebbed brickwork and sweet smell of lingering sandalwood, there hunches a man.
This man will have no decipherable name but will be Ukrainian or Brazilian or British or Taiwanese, bubbling with the eccentricity of a soul that has been long fermenting, an accent painting his every foreign word as he points you towards the monkey.
The golden statue will be tucked away, as if trying to hide, in a cluttered corner where it sits regally on a throne of worm-eaten Plutarch, Ovid, and Plato, three arms preventing seeing, speaking, and hearing, and a fourth beckoning you closer.
The precious metal of the thing will glisten in the candlelight dancing from the mismatched chandeliers, as if pulsating with temptation, fat belly growing large and then deflating as the light deflects and reflects off the polished sphere. And then, without knowing why, without conscious choice, you’ll place your hand on that belly, like a mother communing with her unborn child, hand to womb, creator to creation.
In a flash you’ll be ripped from that store and blasted into worlds unknown, bounced around unimaginably distant cosmos, slammed soul-first into infinity. In that single, transcendent moment you’ll see all you were and all you are and all you will be. The world you knew will seem impossibly simple, your thinking impossibly thin. The moment will flood your mind like a Nile of possibility and potential during inundation, and you will drown in the swirling sinkhole of nothing and everything.
You’ll re-enter back in the store, your hand peeled back from the statue in panic as wisps of steam waft heavenward from your trembling fingers. The man’s pleasure will echo through and haunt the store, deep belly-laughs coming for everywhere at once, his words finally congealing into something understandable: “Take it. Take it now.”
And the statue will want to be taken, tipping forward from its librarian perch, falling against your chest in an awkward lover’s embrace.
But no, the memory of your future will still be too new, still be a squirming idea-grub in your brain, and in fear of knowing too much, you’ll shove the statue back, hard, into the mess of old goblets and chairs and assorted obscura. As you run and stumble past the antique furniture, past the man, through the door, out of the store, into the alley, back to your home, laughter, part man, part monkey, will resound through the squishy innards of your skull.
You’ll sleep well that night, but you’ll dream.
And you’ll awaken to pounding regret, a headache of what-ifs, body and spirit wracked with a deep mourning of what could have been. In a flurry you’ll scurry through the urban blocks, trying to find that door, that store, that metallic god whose gift you turned down. But your footsteps will find no alley to turn down, no lamp-light powdered side street, no connection to that moment of glory that was so close to being yours.
And you’ll spend your life searching for that place, that time, that chance, sometimes hearing the echo of laughter or seeing a glint of gold. Sometimes hoping you’ll turn and see a red or blue or black door slightly ajar, hoping to catch a subtle whiff of Nag Champa, hoping to this time to run towards the opportunity with joy, not away from it in fear.