A SECRET CONSPIRACY

John Thomas Tuft
4 min readJan 13, 2024

A SECRET CONSPIRACY

By John Thomas Tuft

The chill winds clear the tops of the Blue Ridge and sweep down through the valley, across the lake and up the narrow gullies, which funnel the rushing air with a roar and a shudder as it beats against the walls of the old stone house. Behind the walls of the old house sat a woman, looking in a mirror. She whispers to her reflection the lament of the ages, “I used to know, but now I’m not sure…” The wind sweeps over the roof and teases at the chimney, scattering the smoke rising from the fire below in the parlor where a man sits, brooding on the what feels inevitable, “Break my soul in two…I can’t relate to you.” The wind tears at the corners of the old stone house, causing a high keening at the window of the bedroom where a child lies in her bed, wondering in innocence, “If I fly to the moon, would the wind steal all the leaves from the trees? Maybe I could use Mama’s thread to tie them all safely onto their branches and they would never fall.”

A cold rain beats a chaotic rhythm in discordant staccato. The woman in front of the mirror asks, “If I am my own shadow, why can’t I feel me?” The man in front of the fireplace queries, “If we are immortal, why not burn the world down?” The child in her bedroom wonders, “They said there’d be snow for Christmas, they said there’d be peace on earth. Did they lie?” At that moment there is a knock at the door. The man opens it a crack to see who is riding the wind on a night such as this. Before him stands a vision of contradictions and court jester. A woman, in her 70s, thinning red hair sticking out in all directions from beneath a Steelers knitted beanie, odd blue eyes, cheeks highlighted with bright red rouge, oversized sweatshirt with the Pittsburgh Penguins emblem emblazoned across the chest, skinny jeans and red high-top sneakers with the big toes cut out. Beside her is a large white Great Pyrenees, who does all the talking. Well, most of it.

“It is a secret conspiracy,” announced the woman, scratching at her scalp through the beanie. “We all think that our thoughts are just for ourselves. Nobody else knows what’s really going on in our minds.” With that mouthful, she seemed exhausted, sagging inward. “Get Cracked Pearl a chair,” insisted the Pyrenees. The child and woman appeared in the doorway of the parlor. The dog spun toward them. “What are you, theologians? Ger her a chair! Ru…ruff…growl.” The man pulled a chair close to Cracked Pearl as the girl ran to the dog and threw her arms around his neck. “What’s your name?” He gladly accepted the attention. “Sam I Am,” the dog announced. The man croaked, “Cracked Pearl? What kind of a name…?” Cracked Pearl pointed to her left eye. “Glass,” she said with a giggle. “Dropped it once, and well…you know…”

“Why are you here?” asked the woman who’d been at her mirror. Sam I Am, did a slow shake of his body, as Pyrenees are wont to do, sending white fur flying everywhere like scattered thoughts. “Your thoughts summoned us, of course,” he said as though everyone should know this. “We could use a drink,” Sam, I Am, continued. “Cracked Pearl likes tea with lemon and sugar. I’ll take a big water bowl full of Michelob Ultra.” The little girl whispered something in his ear, then ran to the kitchen. “What if…?” asked Cracked Pearl. “What if?” The man and woman looked puzzled. “What if…what?” asked the man. Pearl gave an innocent smile. “I’m sorry. What do you mean?” Sam I Am nuzzled her hand as he explained, “She gets confused. The wind does that to a person.”

Just then the girl returned with hot tea for Pearl and a bowl of icy cold beer for the dog. Pearl gave her a grateful peck on the forehead while the Pyrenees winked at her before diving into the bowl with noisy slurping. Pearl squeezed some lemon into her tea and took a dainty sip. “Did you know,” she asked in a wistful voice, “that the oldest thoughts about ourselves are about the earth as Mother and the sky as Father?” The man harumphed. “Your not going to try and change our religion now, are you? There is only one God.” Sam I Am let out a loud burp because, well Pyrenees and all, before saying, “They’re just thoughts, aren’t they?” Then he sighed the loud sigh of a bored Pyrenees. “And the wind is just the wind. Right?” The girl clapped her hands in delight and went to get more beer for the dog. “Sometimes the wind brings surprises,” whispered Pearl, rubbing at her glass eye. Sam I Am bottomed out a second Michelob Ultra before he announced, “We really must be going.”

The man and woman ushered them quickly to the door. Sam I Am suddenly wheeled around on them. “You really must be theologians,” he laughed. “You’ve been talking to a dog for the last half hour, and nobody said a word! Nobody even asked a question. Ru…ruff…growl.” Pearl stopped halfway out the door and laid a hand on the dog’s head, wondering, “What did the girl whisper to you?” Sam I Am bent low then whirled into the air in glee. “She whispered,” he said with a Pyrenees side-eye look at the girl, “What if love is the answer to a question we forgot to ask?” With a blast of cold wind, they were gone. Gone from the stone house with its mirror, its fireplace, and the bed of a child. Wondering….

Words are magic and writers are wizards.

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John Thomas Tuft

John is a novelist, retired mental health counselor and minister and sheep farmer, who now lives in Roanoke, VA.