“Yeah, that’s creepy,” I said as the aunts just stared at each other – occasionally shaking or nodding their heads carrying on their own silent conversation..
“It’s not simple,” said Martha. Myrtle’s eyes glistened as if she were about to cry.
“Try me.” I sat heavily on the guest bed; the springs squeaked loudly.
Myrtle closed the door. Martha sat next to me causing the springy mattress to sag nearly dumping us onto the floor.
“What we tell you could put you in jeopardy. So, we definitely don’t want mom to know. And we don’t mean that you’ll have credit issues or that you’ll have to sleep in your car for a few nights. We mean serious danger,” Martha said.
“Uh huh. Global trouble. We mean it,” Myrtle said.
I looked from one to the other. They seemed sincere which was…. unusual. “Okaaaay…. so, what are you talking about?”
Martha pulled the phone-shaped box from her pocket. “This is a baksa. Inside are the Kernels of Knowledge. By ingesting one of these, you enter into the web of global knowledge. You can call out to a single person on the web or to a multitude.”
“You call with your mind,” Myrt chimed in. “You say, in your head, ‘namaskar, maro sathi” and think of the person you want to call. The next thing you know you are talking to them.”
“It’s not talking really,” Martha said. “You feel them. Their words are your words. Their thoughts are your thoughts. Their memories are your memories. Their feelings are your feelings.”
“Sooo, you’re driving along or in the shower and suddenly someone is, what, in you?” I asked.
“No, you have to answer the call.”
“How do you know? Does the the phone box baksa thingy ring?”
“No. It gets cold. Your surroundings get cold.”
I remembered the other morning when it was frigid inside the the house. It was cold in the house all the time. “So, I’m guessing by the refrigerator-like conditions in the house, you ladies are on call all the time.”
“Some times, yes, some of it is mom is just frugal and keeps the temperature down,” Myrtle said. “More people will be calling soon.”
“Why?” I asked.
Myrtle burst into tears. Martha took her hand and said, “Because Howard died. They’ll want to give Myrt their condolences.”
My eyes grew wide. I hadn’t made the connection, but then, I don’t know if I ever paid that much attention to Myrt’s old boyfriend Howie. Or had ever met him for that matter. “Dead Howard was your Howie?”
Myrtle burst into tears again. “It’s complicated,” she blubbered. “We knew we couldn’t be together but we never wanted to be apart. So, we joined Jānna. We could have a life together without being together. We met Joannie and Howard wanted to have a life with her too so she joined us. And so many others…”
“How often do you have to take these Kernels of Knowledge?” I asked shaking the baksa.
“At first, you take one every time you want to get on the web whether you’re being called or want to make a call. But over time, you don’t need them anymore. It just happens when you think about it.”
I felt the temperature drop and a chill ran up my spine. The aunts looked at one another, wide-eyed, and then turned to me. “We shouldn’t have told you anything. You have to leave Louisa.”
“They know you know. You aren’t safe here anymore. They’re coming.”
To be continued…..