Baba nudges Femina to get her attention. She was still in thought staring at the curtain as if there was some kind of message. She turns to Baba who indicates gesturing how much he had enjoyed the performance. With his broad smile and twinkling eyes he rids her of her thoughtfulness. Repeating the last action, the ‘death blow’, he rolls up his eyes, but not to imitate the dying, rather as a comment, or statement of mockery as if to say that he considered it particularly ridiculous. Obviously, he found the performance more amusing than the content interesting, - in contrast to her. Never mind! It is good to be reminded of how little it takes to communicate and what it means to see with his eyes.
The curtain opens again. Black sits still at the table and White has returned too though he is sitting now on Black’s chair. All the dance figures came back too. They are gathered behind the two men but on the original side of color with the result that the white crew is behind Black and the black behind White. A kind of humming sound comes from them like tones of a chorus though it turns into a monotonous speech:
“The time has come to reunite. Let us balance the books and look at what was valid for so long. White has lost our trust, Black has not convinced us of his worthiness, but it is time for recognizance and truth.”
White raises his arm as a sign that he wished to speak. His voice is dark and tired but in it are subtle vibrations that beg attention and make what he says believable.
White: “I admit to be guilty of deceiving you and myself. I claimed mightiness that is not mine. Instead of insisting on truth I was dazzled and blinded, drowning in the utter glorification that was given to me so abundantly and unquestioned. Though separating black and white is serving creation, the principle can be unfortunately misunderstood and misinterpreted, as it was in this instance, when the ignorance of the innocent handed me the key to power. It allowed me to alienate and ban anyone who would dare to disobey me. But none of this might is mine truly. Though I am powerful, I am far from absolute; and I am not master but servant. Mind you! Guilt and denial turned me bitter, made my commands rigid, some even had to be written in stone. Sadly, after all, it enslaved me too. But I ask for your understanding and leniency because my intentions were good, and many a thing during my rule brought progress and unsurpassed success. Though, my Brother, from you I beg forgiveness. I have acted in anger and haste but also in fear, being very aware of what you are capable of. I really believed I had to defend myself against you despite better knowledge. Words cannot express the regret I feel of violating you.”
His speech is followed by silence then whispering among his entourage. It ends when the white queen steps out to walk to the middle of the stage, positioning herself right there to ensure everyone can see and hear her. Her voice is soft and warm but carries an unexpected resolve.
Love: “The white King is guilty, but so am I. All times have I served him with a faith that only I can give. I remained silent to all his mistakes which in the end make me guilty as well. With my help, no, with the help from all of us, could happen what makes White now the accused. None of us has really ever spoken out against him, therefore, none of us can reasonably be his judge. Besides! In his attempt of murder, he has condemned himself. But do not let us linger on what has passed! Nothing can be undone, but it allows us to progress into a new future to the benefit of all. I for myself am glad and relieved, since now I need no longer be the always forgiving, always sacrificing, selfless and unconditionally loving, the ever so understanding and nurturing, regardless of how questionable and unreasonable it actually may be. Of course! Nobody should ever suffer or die for my sake, but sadly it cannot always be prevented, no matter how much I try, or deny that it happens. I am so pleased now that I finally can call you my brother, destroyer and annihilator, to come and join me! I have missed you so much because without you I am only half of the truth. You liberate me from the shiny false gold that is like the lace on the garments I wear, because pure love cannot be found in matter, which is but our world.”
The called-up Destruction is a big man. As he steps out of the group, he discards his weaponry, at least the ones everyone can see, and walks to the queen. There he takes her welcoming hand, bows gentlemanly before speaking.
Destruction: “Thank you sister! Thank you for your honesty and your love. I always needed you and I need you more than ever. Without you, there is no stopping me. I am the fire that needs to burn out once ignited. Only you can put an end to it because you are the water that matches my power. Indeed, only with you can I let the world live. Come, dance with me, to celebrate this day!”
And so they do. Femina is thrilled because dance is her favorite among all the performing arts, and she certainly is not disappointed with this one, rich in expression and executed masterly. The dance ends on the same spot where it started, only this time they remain embracing each other, cheek on cheek, their eyes closed, a picture of perfect harmony.
The next figure stepping forward is Contentment. She places herself next to the couple. How slim she is but so sweet in her simple outfit, without make-up and jewelry. Her face is young, her features soft and she is tall like a reed that twists and turns with the wind without being ever broken. She sure could do with some more food.
Contentment: “I am so glad our reunion has come. Finally I can take my sister into my arms whom I missed so dearly. Without her I am no better than dead wood, driftwood in the currents of life without aim and direction, an absurdity without content or substance. Come sister, you ever so alluring temptation, you bring color to my cheeks, and you can rest with me.”
The black queen follows the call. Swaying hips, the head held high, undulating waves with foamy crowns have found their sandy heaven. She puts herself next to Contentment, one arm around her shoulder, with the other she takes her by the hand.
Temptation: “My dear sister, I missed you too. Without me the world would not progress, but without you I am the bottomless barrel that after all would remain empty, therefore losing its purpose and missing the point. Only with you can the world enjoy the progress that is made. Come sweet sister, let us dance to celebrate this day.”
And so they do. They dance their Pas de Deux, and when it is ended they stand next to the other pair, embracing each other, cheek on cheek in picture perfect harmony.
The next one stepping forward is Tradition, the foundation and stalwart of the white realm. He is the priest in his official robes, a wiry figure and of autocratic commanding appearance. He strides in firm steps to the right edge of the chess field in line with the other pairs.
Tradition: “I am not sure if the time of our reunion is really come. My authority is unbroken because there is no better solution yet for the masses, who are lost without guidance. The world needs me as much as ever, but looking back over the millennia passed, filled with blood and tears, I feel my shoulders heavy under the weight of my guilt. My word is absolute coming from the white king, so it is said, and whose chosen representative I am. Whatever is believed, it was me who excluded my brother Doubt; I brought more misery than can ever be justified because I was the head of inquisition and the executioner. I am the pretender demanding sacrifice and renunciation without giving redemption. My brother, come, I do not want to exclude you any longer; I don’t want to be cold and rigid any more. Even if I do not trust the new world order yet, it can’t be worse than the old of before. It should at least be given the chance to proof its validity.”
Doubt, leaving his team he walks swiftly to the calling brother. Femina cannot tell if this is a man or woman. Tall and slim, with the mane of a horse, wide pants and shirt, or blouse, nothing gives away the gender, even the face, beautiful as it is, could belong to either; neither is the black of the clothes just black, changing with movement, its surfaces shining white as if the sun was falling on virgin snow, but in the shadows of folds and pleating, it is as black as tar. He, or she, takes Tradition’s hand enthusiastically.
Doubt: “My brother, finally you come to your senses! You have no idea how impatiently I have waited for this moment. Without me you are a hypocrite, without you I am the gamete without an egg. But together we are the best parents for a new brute. Come, dance with me to celebrate this day!”
And so they do. Their Pas de Deux is exquisite, but so were all. As the dance ends the line up with the other pairs on the spot from where their dance began, embracing each other, cheek to cheek, in perfect harmony.
Moral is the next figure to step forward, a tall and haggard man, wearing a judge’s robe, and his hair under the obligatory wig crowned by the rook’s rocky crag. He has a stern face, and appears hard and cold and sinister. It is no face that suggests there is hope for mercy. He strides sure footed center stage then turning to the left edge of the chess field to take position in line with the others. His voice is commanding as if he was a sovereign.
Moral: “I doubt that the time of reunion has come. How can I accept the part of me that I have kept so fiercely away?! The battles will continue, if not on the world’s stage, then surely in my head. Immorality, you are my other half; I have to accept you back, but I cannot promise that my conscience will ever allow me to love you. The best I can offer is tolerance. But, if you are able to compromise, maybe we achieve a workable relationship.”
Immorality stepping forward walks on to his side, keeping though some distance. She is a vulgar beauty in the clothes of a prostitute. Her thick long hair is held together in a ponytail, resembling the bushy tail of a horse. Her movements, no, her whole demeanor is provocative, but exuberant in strength and determination; she sure would not be easy to topple over or be taken for a ride.
Immorality: “I do not long for your love. It is enough that you have to accept me. I do not fear your conscience either, it is but enough for both of us. It will fill my void and complement my mind and I will prevent you from using it any longer as a whip instead as a tool for self-exploration and acknowledgement. You say you cannot love me? Who says, I can love you?! You are a monster in your self-glory and arrogance. You are not worthy of love yourself. I still accept our union gladly despite the prospect of our battles to carry on, at least for the time being until you realize that you can never escape the truth as hard as you try. You have not even been able to fully rid yourself of me despite all your effort to hide the evidence.”
In a sudden grasp she flings off his headpiece and wig, throwing them out of reach. A bold head comes to the fore, heavily tattooed, an unlikely appearance for a judge. He suddenly looks far less high-principled. She continues: “Tolerance, compromise, all well and good! It is the foundation for a solid marriage, but only if it comes from both sides, so don’t even try otherwise.”
There is no dance this time. Never the less, they join together back on back, their sides fronting the auditorium, their arms interlocked and their heads together. They are a two-faced figure, remaining still and motionless, just like the rest, though not quite the picture of harmony with their stony faces.
Another figure, a slim female, steps out of her assembly and walks to the middle. It is Libra, the goddess of Justice, dressed in a simple white tunic that is held tight around her waist with a broad belt that has an ornate buckle in the shape of a scale. Her hair is the rich mane of a horse and her eyes are covered by a strap of cloth. She is part goddess, part horse with blinkers.
Justice: “Since our separation I filled the pan of the scales with the paragraphs of law to prevent emotions distorting judgement. However, this turned me into the under-worker of the ruling powers and made justice a farce because it became nothing more than a game with words. Emotions can be controlled, but words can be twisted and turned, bringing Hate a rich harvest. Locked out emotions do not vanish instead they intensify. They are ‘God’s mill’ that is said to grind slowly but surely. But I am the wolf among sheep with a voice of oil where words run so smoothly, that they turn my howling into lullabies. Come Hate, my despised dear brother, come to me. We belong to each other because only I can master your aggression, only you can open my eyes to the truth to prevent anybody suffering under twisted judgement and maimed truth.”
Hate, a bear of a man, follows her calling. He is covered with hair, long black hair from the top, short thick hair everywhere else, like the fur of a beast. His hand and feet like paws, nails so long that they are claws and a frightening grimace of a face; demon or devil, better to run from it than cross its path.
Hate: “My dear sister, I obey you gladly, but remember, I am dangerous. I can tear you to pieces if you don’t watch out. You can rock me to sleep but only if you have your eyes open, only then can I close mine. Come sweet sister, let me take off your blindfold and then let us dance to celebrate this day.”
He moves behind Libra, hairy arms embracing her and while whispering into her ears, he takes off the band from her eyes. New life seems to flow into Justice. Laughing she escapes his arms but takes his hand to guide him to their dance. And what a dance it is! She looks like a doll beside him, but it is her who leads, he the bear, she his tamer. Strength and mind, feelings and wisdom unite and as they end their dance they mold together, Hate embracing Libra from behind around her waist, his hands on the buckle and their cheeks together. He closes his eyes while hers remain wide open. Both smile in blissful harmony.
Three pairs and the kings are still missing to complete the new formation. Femina glances at Baba who feels her gaze and turns to her. As their eyes meet it is just a signal for a shared laughter in uni-vocal agreement. For more is no time, the next white dancer has stepped forward and is moving to the middle of the stage.
It is Obedience. He is no impressive man, rather of insignificant appearance. One would not pay any attention to him was it not for his uniform. He seems a bit unsure of himself, clearing his throat before he starts speaking, but as he does he becomes more confident.
Soldier: “It is hard for me to find the right words because all these years, “Yes, Sir”, was enough for me. I was trained to obey, not to think. It is said, thinkers are not good soldiers. Not even the heroes earn their praise for thinking but for their obedience until death, caring less for life than duty, that’s why they earn all our respect. But, come now, my dear brother, you unruly Disobedience, the time for acknowledgement is here. We were victims and perpetrators, the manipulated and the activists. You are the criminal and the revolutionary, you violated and transgressed the law, most often, because you don’t think, but also because you think more than most and will not give in, or give up. Indeed, it is not all or always our fault, when you find yourself in a cell and I find myself on the battle-field. Societies have the crimes and the wars that can never be avoided, or which they deserve. And because society assumes all responsibility, deciding about laws and war and peace, it makes it easy to hide in the jungle of paragraphs and the anonymity of systems and organizations. Mind you, with our reunion this will come to an end. We will be responsible for all our deeds. Every single person will have to give account about their doings every night, not at the illusive “Final Judgement Day”. It means, we may have explanations for our actions but not necessarily an excuse.”
Disobedience steps forward, a rather dubious looking figure despite being dressed in a nice suit and leather shoes. He does not make a trustworthy impression at all. Maybe this is due to the many necklaces, rings and earrings he wears, and the tattoos on hands and neck, suggesting that he will have many more on his body. A gangster hat would be the more appropriate head peace for him, than wearing his rank’s signature bishop’s cap.
Disobedience: “Thank you brother for your trust in me, but be warned, I am not easily chained down. I will always want to break away, always look for adventure, always search for new things, always trespass gates and disregard rules. I am risk itself, because I want to be free, want to do whatever I want. Of course, together we can move mountains. But you will have to learn to say “NO”, even if I will not like it and revolt against it. It is your discipline that will bind me to you that will give us direction, and show us the road that will lead us to our ‘El Dorado’. But come, let us dance now to celebrate today.”
Their dance is no harmonious Pas de Deux, rather a brotherly skirmish and tussle, but they have their fun and it is also funny to watch how they try to outdo each other. They end in laughter and take their position in brotherly embrace along the line with the other couples in peaceful harmony.
The next to come forward is Responsibility, sure footed and graceful is her walk. She is an old lady with hair as white as snow. Her face though wrinkled and lined is beautiful with warm shiny eyes. She is the wise old woman, the good witch of the fairy tales loved by young and old.
Responsibility: “Long time have I waited for this moment. Sorrows and worries never left me alone, suffocating me sometimes when only my trust in myself gave me enough breath to survive. But now, after all, I can embrace my siblings of Pleasure who will bring laughter and happiness to everything we shall do. It will give life a new meaning. Without me the world is lost in senseless gluttony and pointless living, but together we can enjoy all the good things the world has to offer, without ever forgetting how necessary limitations are.”
Among the crowd representing Pleasure enthused palaver ensues, resulting in a push for the clown to take the honors of being their team’s representative. Accompanied by laughter he tumbles to the old lady only stopping short of her and then bowing in an exaggerated fashion as it is the clown’s way.
Clown: “Dear sister, I am honored to represent my siblings. Will you be willing to dance with me? Mind you, I might step on your toes with my big shoes, but it should not hinder us to enjoy our dance, or should it? Surely, you in your wise ways and carefulness can restrain my carefree foolery and prevent harm and needless injury. Surely you will forgive me my folly too, because indeed, what would life be without laughter! So come with me, let us dance now to celebrate this wonderful day!”
And so it is, the clown takes the old lady for a dance. And what a dance it is, full of humor and acrobatic, the old lady far more flexible then one could have ever expected. Femina on occasion laughs out loud and she also sees Baba’s face lit up in delight and merry laughter. When the dance is finished they join the other pairs, happily in embrace, cheek to cheek, a funny odd couple but in perfect harmony.
Now there is only Duty and Discontent left, apart from the two kings, if they will participate in the dancing at all. There is a short silence as if some hesitation or undecidedness holds up all action. It is Duty putting an end to it. She is a strong looking female in work-overalls with a belt full of tools and handy things for whatever she may need them for. The mane of her hair is plaited back like some workhorses have it done to prevent hair falling into their eyes. She wears no jewelry nor make-up but her face has character with a sharp nose, full lips firmly pressed together, bright eyes with clarity in her gaze, and a robust chin above a strong neck.
Duty: “It may seem as if Responsibility has snatched away from me the perfect partner, but that is not the case! The combination of duty and pleasure is too perfect. It would disadvantage me, because instead of spurring me on it would hinder me to reach my full potential, just like tadpoles never become frogs if they live in a perfect environment. My dear sister, Discontent, you are my feeler, the sensor I need so I know my work is done the way it should be done, and to the best it can be done. My work cannot always be pleasure, but pleasure will follow thereafter. You will never let me settle for rough and crudely finished work nor will you let me rest on my laurels when other work needs to be done. With your help all our work will be masterpieces. It will always be the best, whatever we do. But I will have to restrict your flightiness and that may not be to your liking. So tell me, am I your choice as well, or would you just put up with me because there is no one or nothing better around?”
Discontent leaves the rest of the fellow dancers that is Pleasure’s entourage. She is a haggard figure, hollow cheeked and with thin long limbs and ringed bony fingers. With every step she makes there is jingle and clatter, most likely from all the silver necklaces, chains and jewelry she is laden with.
Discontent: “No sister, you are my choice as well. Without you I am insatiable, always hungry for more. I hoard up things I don’t even need. I hop from friendship to friendship because I don’t commit, I spoil everyone’s fun, because nothing and nobody is able to interest me for long. Only you can unchain my miserable ego that starves despite living in abundance. You will teach me altruism so I can replenish and get nourished to become useful after all. I know, together our works will turn into art, we even could, with your industry and my energy, rid the world of hunger and create paradise for all because I cannot be content while others suffer. So come dear sister, let us dance to celebrate this day!”
Their dance is in a strange way very moving. They are not the most attractive pair but in their dance they show their strength and caring to bring out the best in the other. Discontent discards slowly most of her jewelry, hanging necklaces around Duty’s neck and stuffing her belt-pockets with rings and brooches, throwing away the rest. It unburdens her so much that she starts to move and jump like a gazelle, while Duty thrives under the heavier load showing off her workhorse stamina. The Pas de Deux ends in a crescendo of acrobatic that no critic could ever fault. Then they take the last place in the now complete row, cheek on cheek with entwined bodies, their eyes closed and with solemn faces, unified in genuine harmony.
White rises from his chair. He walks around the little table and takes a stand behind Black gently laying his hands on Black’s shoulder and a cheek on the shiny black hair.
The stage set changes. All leave except the two men and as the last figure moves out through the back door a white wall is lowered down on to the chess field’s back edge. It makes the stage a bit smaller but eliminates the door!
White: “Come my dear brother, we are one! There is no longer Black or White, there is only Black a n d White. I am you and you are me!”
Black rises, and White to his left, with an arm around Black’ shoulder they both walk into the middle of the stage. Meanwhile also table and chairs disappear into the floor. Mid stage the two men turn towards each other.
Black: “Before we dance, brother, I have to confess that whatever I said before, though true, is not the full truth. There is still much to be said, but let me just say for now: I forgive you for all your trespassing and the assault on me. I have to admit I am not easy to live with, and without you I am truly the hell that is to be feared as there is nothing but torment in the dark world unspeakable of as all light disappears. We need each other! We need to control each other because the world can only thrive if we balance our powers. We have been and are part of creation but only working together is to the benefit of this world and of all worlds that are still to come. So, let us dance now and always! It is a most memorable day!”
Their Pas de Deux is the highlight and masterpiece of all the dances. First they have their single moments, though always relating to each other. They paint pictures, give glimpses into their own world. Their bodies have lost the steeliness they had displayed in their fight. Though still showing strength and intensity they are now flexible and expressing emotions. More and more they dance together with intensifying tenderness, love and devotion. Increasingly the dance becomes slower, indeed turning into slow motion until it finally ends. White embracing Black from the back, their cheeks together, they take a final step forward but at the same time sink on to one knee. Their bodies lean forward, their faces turned down. There they remain motionless with White nearly covering all of Black.
The lights go out. On the white wall in the back a big face with big red glossy lips appears. Femina realizes that it is her face. A spotlight comes on casting its light to the spot where the two men had stopped dancing. They are gone. Instead there is one figure, rising from the floor, stretching out as if woken from sleep, clad from head to toe in black and white bodice, wearing a black and white mask. The distribution of color is not symmetric but in a helix around the body. The figure jumps into action as if to prove that it was alive, leaping and pirouetting around in the open space but then halting in front of the face. The lips open, with the white teeth like gates moving apart. The figure steps over the lippy threshold and disappears, while the lips shut after it with a smile. The blue curtain falls and with it all light is switched off.
Femina finds herself suddenly in pitch black darkness so complete as if there was nothing but emptiness, though she believes it impossible. Surely, Baba is still with her! But there is no movement she can feel, not a breath of air, no vibrations or the slightest sound. The only light shining is within her. She feels the shine, she feels herself glow but it is not strong enough to light out the black. So, she is alone, again! How brutal truth can be! But somewhere in this black nothingness there sure are other hidden lights, Baba for instance. Only because she cannot see, hear, or feel him does not imply that he is not there or does not exist and that is sure true for other lights too.
She pulls up her legs, embraces them with both her arms and puts a cheek down on the knees. Her attention turns inwards where the light is. She does not feel quite so alone anymore. Maybe it was s h e who swallowed Black-White not just the face on stage? Perhaps, because she feels herself like a grain of seed sprouting and unfolding with new shoots all over and throughout turning into a wonder-some flower that glows bright and intense; the black around her making her glow ever so more. All is good as it is, - ‘Black Nothing’, - might and beloved.
The darkness fades. Where the blue curtain had been there is now blue mist. Out of the vapor rise shadows, floating from the nightly space behind they merge to take shape. Chrome gleaming light-swirls dance and join together, build frames and handlebars, headlights and sleek trumpets to expel fumes. Curved bodies of black shiny metal stretch out between front and back wheels carrying soft leather saddles for a smooth ride. Two motorbikes have emerged out of the velvet blue and still misty night that is fading slowly into light of dawn. Femina’s eyes sweep over the slender curves of the bikes’ bodies like fingers, gliding along to touch and feel them. Only then does she realize that the night has harbored more. There are two young men resting on the grassy ground close by, half lying, half sitting, stretched out for a rest, their helmets beside them, and their leather jackets half open. They look at her calmly without motion. Their faces are beautiful, one blond bearded the other dark brown. Their long hair is tussled from the wind, the blond one having it tamed in a ponytail in his neck, the brown one having a mane of curls falling right down to his shoulders. Their jeans stuck in robust boots, only the hands show skin, the leather gloves off, put neatly next to the helmets. Brownlock sits up and reaches out to her with his right arm and hand open: ‘Easy Rider.’
Femina does not move, but in her head the seconds tick making every breath she takes more precious. How many breaths are left to breathe? As if she was to know!
She gets up and takes his hand. He takes hers and brings it up to his lips, just softly touching. E a s y R i d e r !
They jump into the saddles. The engines roar up vibrating through metal, vessels and every cell of her body. And so the ride begins.
The wind blows in her hair. They fly over plains with sun bleached grasses, over hill and over scrub, further and further away from her waiting room. It shrinks down to a little ball, heavy but light enough to grab it, and to carry it along.
The riddle of the house is unsolved but the steel door is no longer an obstacle she can’t overcome. She now knows how to solve that, but she is no longer inclined to force it open, particularly not now. And she will also not sit around waiting, until it will open by itself. Not now anyway!
The bikes have set down on the asphalt of a road. They follow its lead to the horizon and beyond. The ocean has come up close, skirting it with its wet weave beset with thousands and thousands of diamonds. They pass by little townships with neat wooden houses and gardens and their inhabitants, only to disappear again into the vastness of the land. The sun sets red and golden. Earth seems to hold its breath. But the machines rumble smooth and sing softly, their muffled sounds ringing in Femina’s ears. Easy rider.