The Billionaire

Excerpt from the book “The New Civilisation” by Vladimir Megre

The billionaire John Heitzman was dying on the forty-second storey of his office tower. The whole floor had been converted into his personal apartment. Two bedrooms, a work-out gymn, a swimming pool, a dining room and two studies had comprised his refuge for the past three years. During this time, he had not left his apartment even once. Not once had he taken the express lift down to where the core of his financial and industrial empire was in full operation. Not once had he gone up to the roof, where his personal helicopter was on standby, replete with a full crew awaiting his command.

Three times a week John Heitzman retreated to one of his studies to receive four of his closest associates. At these brief sessions, which lasted no more than forty minutes, he listened to their reports with some indifference, and occasionally issued brief instructions. The billionaire’s orders were never a subject for discussion – they were simply carried out swiftly and to the letter. The book value of the empire under his exclusive control kept increasing by an average 16.5% annually. Even over the past six months, when Heitzman ceased convening even his tri-weekly sessions altogether, the ledgers showed no decline in profits. The system he had created continued to run smoothly with no glitches.

Nobody knew the billionaire’s true financial worth. His name was hardly ever mentioned in the press. Heitzman held strictly to the rule: Money hates trouble.

As a young man he had been admonished by his father along these lines:
“Let those upstart politicians strut their stuff on the TV screens and in the pages of the press. Let the presidents and governors spout their addresses to the people, assuring them all’s well. Let the billionaires in the public eye go gallivanting about the country with their fancy cars and bodyguards. That is not a course, my dear John, you yourself should follow. You should always remain in the shadows and use your power, the power of money; to control governments and presidents, the wealthy and the poor, in a variety of different countries. But they must never guess who is controlling them.

“The plan is simple in the extreme. I was the one who created the Monetary Fund, which lists the names of many different investors. In actual fact seventy percent of the fund’s capital has been invested by me under different names. On the surface, as far as the dimwit masses are concerned, the fund was created for the support of developing countries. In actual fact I created it as a device for collecting ‘tribute-money’ from all the countries involved.

“Here’s an example. Let’s say an armed conflict breaks out between two sides. One of them (more often, both) needs money. Let them have it – it will be repaid with interest. Or some country is experiencing a social upheaval and, again, money is required. Let them have it – it will be repaid with interest. Or two political forces come into conflict; one of them will get money through our agents, and once again it will be repaid with interest. Russia alone pays us an annual sum of three billion dollars.”

At age twenty, John Heitzman had especially enjoyed these discussions with his father. Despite his earlier severity and reticence to talk, one day the father summoned John to his office and invited him to make himself comfortable in a soft armchair by the fireplace, while he himself poured a cup of his son’s favourite coffee with cream and asked with a spark of genuine interest:
“How are your college studies going, John?”

“They’re not always that interesting, Dad. I get the feeling the professors aren’t too good at giving a clear and comprehensible explanation of the laws of economics.”

“Good. An apt assessment. But more precisely: professors today can’t explain the laws of economics because they haven’t the faintest idea of them themselves. They think economics is the domain of economists. But it isn’t. World economics is under the control of psychologists, philosophers and high-stakes players.

“When I was twenty; my father – your granddad, John – let me into the secrets of the management process. Now that you’re twenty; I think you’re worthy of inheriting this knowledge.”

“Thanks, Dad,” replied John. Thus began, in these fireside chats, lessons in the laws of economics one never hears about at university. The father taught his son using his own unique method. The whole educational process was conducted in these heart-to-heart conversations, on a good-natured tone, with examples and elements of play. The information the senior Heitzman revealed to his son was astounding. There was no way one could obtain it anywhere else, even in the most prestigious universities in the world.

“Tell me, John,” asked the father, “do you know how many wealthy people there are in our country? Or in the world?”

“Their names are listed in business journals in order of their estate-value,” replied John calmly.
‘And where do we rank in these lists?”

This was the first time Father had used we instead of I. That meant he already considered him, John, a full partner. While he did not want to offend his father, John replied:
“Your name, Father, isn’t included in these lists.”

“Yes, you’re right. I’m not there. Even though just our annual profit alone amounts to more than the whole estates of many included in the lists. And my name isn’t there because one’s wallet should not be transparent. Many of these people work either directly or indirectly for our empire – for yours and mine, son.”

“Dad, you must be a genius at economics. I can’t even imagine how you can make such a huge empire pay us ‘tribute-money’ every year without military intervention. You’ve managed to set up such a tremendous economic operation!”

The senior Heitzman took a pair of fire tongs and gave a poke to the logs in the hearth. Then, without a word, he poured two glasses of light wine for his son and himself It was only after his first wee sip that he finished explaining:
“You know, I didn’t set up any operation at all. The capital under my control simply allows me to give orders, and others carry them out. Many analysts and government experts in various countries, even their presidents, would be astonished to learn that the current situation in their countries is not determined by their own actions, but rather by my will.

“Political technology centres, economics institutes, analytical think tanks and government agencies in many countries – none of them are aware that they’re working along strict guidelines laid down by my departments. And I don’t have all that many employees. For example, all of Russia’s socio-economic policy and its military doctrine are determined and controlled by one department comprising four psychologists. Each psychologist has four secretaries. Not one of them knows about the activities of the others.

“I’ll tell you how the control system works – it’s really quite simple. But first, John, you should understand the true laws of economics – which you’ll never get from any college professor. Professors don’t even know they exist. Here’s a law: in the conditions of a democratic society, presidents, governments, banks, as well as major and minor entrepreneurs in all countries work for a single entrepreneur, who stands at the top of the economic pyramid. They worked for my father, now they’re working for me, and soon they’ll be working exclusively for you.”

John Heitzman looked at his father and could scarcely take it all in. Certainly; he knew that his father was rich. But here they were talking about much more than riches – they were talking about supreme power, which was now going to be passed by inheritance to him, John. All this incredible information still had not sunk in completely. How could it be that, in a free and democratic society; everyone from presidents on down to the hundreds of thousands of firms, both major and minor – supposedly all separate legal entities – were in fact working for just one man, namely, his father?

“When I first heard from your granddad what I have just now shared with you, I had a hard time figuring it all out. Right now, John, you’re probably in the same boat …

“But let me make one thing perfectly clear,” the elder Heitzman went on. “There are wealthy people in this world. But for every wealthy person there is someone even wealthier. And there is one who is the wealthiest of all. All the other wealthy people – and, consequently; all the people under their control -work for him, the one who is the wealthiest of all. This is the law of the system under which we live.

“All this talk of unselfish aid to developing countries is nothing but a bluff. Sure, wealthy countries grant credit to developing countries through international funds, but in fact they do this simply to get back a healthy amount of interest in return for using their credit – in other words, to collect ‘tribute-money’.

“Russia, for example, pays three billion dollars a year to the IMF, and this amount only represents the interest on the credit allotted to Russia. Many economists are aware that the basic financing for the IMF is provided by American capital. They realise that the extortionate interest rates on credit use is siphoned off to the USA. But who they go to specifically; nobody knows. America as a country is simply a convenient shield in the capital game. And it is dependent on capital more than any other nation. Tell me, John, did you know that America has a national debt?”

“Yes, Dad, I know. It’s an astronomical figure. Just last year it amounted to … And servicing the debt cost … ”

“So, that means you realise that a country which loans to other countries at the same time takes out huge loans itself?”

“Through its own Federal Reserve?”

”And who does it belong to – this Federal Reserve?”

“It … It … ”

John had never thought about whom America was in debt to, but as he tried to answer his father’s question it suddenly dawned on him: in the United States of America every taxpayer pays into the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve of the USA is a private bank. And, consequently; all America is paying hundreds of billions of dollars to private individuals … or, to a single individual.

 

John Heitzman had never been flustered in his life. He led, as they say; a ‘healthy lifestyle’. He did not drink or smoke, he maintained a healthful diet, and worked out every day in his private gymnasium. Only in the past six months he had stopped going to the gymn. He had spent these six months lying in bed in one of his spacious bedrooms, crammed full with state-of-the-art medical equipment. Doctors maintained on call shifts around the clock in the next room.

But John Heitzman did not trust modern medical science. He felt no need of even talking with his doctors. There was one professor of psychology, however, that he occasionally deigned to favour with brief answers. Heitzman did not even care to know his doctors’ names, including the name of this professor, though he did make a note to himself that he was the most sincere and honest of the lot. The professor talked a good deal, but what he said often included not just medical assertions but also reasonings and a desire to determine the causes of a disease.

One day he came in all excited and announced right at the doorway:
“I spent all last night and all this morning thinking about your condition. I think I’ve discovered the cause of your illness! That means that once we’ve removed the cause, we can talk about a pretty quick recovery … Oh, sorry; Mr Heitzman – I forgot to say hello. Good afternoon, Mr Heitzman. I got a bit carried away with my ideas.”

The billionaire did not answer the professor’s greeting, or even turn in his direction, but that was how he treated all his doctors. And sometimes he would make a gesture to a doctor who had just entered the room – just a slight movement with his hand, which they all knew meant: Go away.

Not perceiving any such gesture this time, the professor kept on explaining excitedly as follows:
“I do not agree with my colleagues on the need to transplant your liver, kidneys and heart. Granted, these organs of yours aren’t functioning up to par at the moment. No sir! Not up to par! That’s a fact. But neither will transplanted organs. The reason they’re not up to par lies in your extreme depression. Yes sir, in your depression. I’ve gone over your medical history quite a few times now. And I think I’ve made a major discovery. Your attending physician – he’s a really great guy – he wrote down everything in detail. Every single time he noted your mental condition. Your internal organs would always start to fail the moment you got into a depressive state. Yes sir! Quite a state …

“Now here comes the $64,000 question: is the failure of your internal organs causing the depression? Or the other way around: is the depression causing organ failure throughout your body? I’m absolutely convinced that the depression is the original cause. Yes sir! It’s your extreme depression. It’s a condition where someone ceases to strive for any goal, he loses interest in what’s going on around him, he doesn’t see any sense in living. And then the brain begins to transmit only half-hearted commands to the whole body! And I mean the whole of it! The stronger the depression, the weaker the commands. At a certain level the brain may cease giving these commands altogether, and then comes death.

“So, the ultimate cause is depression, and as for eliminating it entirely, well, that’s something modern medicine has no answer for. So, I turned to folk medicine. And now I’m convinced that your extreme depression is the result of a curse. Yes sir! More specifically, someone’s put a spell on you, and I’m prepared to back that up with quite a number of facts.”

The billionaire was about to make his Go away! gesture. He disliked all such esoteric healers – people who promised to exorcise demons and take away spells or set a defence against them people he considered petty operators or swindlers. No doubt the professor was on the rebound from the ineffectiveness of modern medicine, he thought, and so had fallen to the level of these so-called ‘healers’. But the billionaire did not manage to execute the gesture. The professor headed him off, with words evoking just a smidgen of interest, but interesting all the same.

“I have the feeling you’re getting ready to send me away. Maybe for good. I ask you… No, I beg you, give me just five or six more minutes. It’s very possible that once you’ve understood what I have to say, you’ll make a full recovery; and I’ll make an important discovery. Rather, I’ve already made it- I just need to have it confirmed once and for all.”

The billionaire did not make his Go away! gesture.

For three whole seconds the professor stared at Heitzman’s motionless hand and realised he could continue, which he did at a rapid-fire pace:
“People look at each other differently. Sometimes with indifference, other times with love, or hate, or envy; or fear, or respect. But it’s not the outward expression of the eyes that is the main factor here. The outward appearance can be just an ordinary mask, like the faux smile of a waiter or a salesman. What’s important are the true attitudes, the true feelings one-person harbours towards another. The more positive emotions people express towards a particular individual, the more positive energy is concentrated in him. On the other hand, if negative emotions predominate in the atmosphere surrounding a person, he will experience an accumulation of negative and destructive energy.

“Among the common folk this is called a spell, and folk-healers base their actions on this phenomenon. By no means all folk-healers are charlatans. The whole point is that a person who has been the target of too much negative energy from those around him is himself capable of neutralising it or, in other words, compensating for it. By telling the patient that he has removed the spell by certain types of actions, the healer helps him believe that he is cleansed. If the patient believes the healer, he is really evening out the balance within himself between the positive and the negative. If he doesn’t believe, it won’t happen. You don’t believe in folk-healers and, consequently, they won’t be of any help to you.

“But that isn’t to say that you don’t have an excess of negative energy which is destructive to your mind and body. Why negative? Precisely because a man in your position can only be looked upon by people around you with resentment, and I don’t mean just a bit of harmless envy. They might look at you- or, more specifically, treat you- with hatred. People you’ve fired or haven’t given a raise to. A lot of people feel your power and react with fear. You see, all that amounts to negative energy. To counteract it you need positive energy. This can be supplied by family members or relatives, but your wives have run out on you, you don’t have any children or friends, and you don’t communicate with your relatives. You have no sources of positive energy around you.

“Now an individual human being is capable of producing positive energy- and in sufficient quantity – within himself, all on his own. But for this he needs to set his heart on some kind of dream or goal, and the step-by-step realisation of this goal will bring about positive emotions. You’ve already achieved so much in life that now, it seems, you don’t have any more goals or dreams left.

“But it’s extremely important to have such a goal and to strive to attain it. I have analysed the physical and mental health of different types of business people. Someone who likes mixing dough and bakes pies and sells them is happy that he can now afford to buy something he needs, and dreams of developing his business. After all, it’s only with development that he receives many of the goods and services civilisation has to offer.

”A bank manager or the owner of a profit-making concern likewise strives to develop his business, strives for increased profits, but often with less enthusiasm than someone who makes or sells pies. It’s paradoxical, but true – the enthusiasm just isn’t as great. It isn’t as great because he’s got significantly fewer tempting benefits ahead of him than the pie salesman. For him the achievements of civilisation have no special value, they’re just routine.

“If someone with a relatively modest income suddenly has the chance to buy a car, the purchase of the car will evoke in him a tremendous feeling of satisfaction or even ecstasy, while someone who is relatively well-off won’t get any thrill from a brand new car. To him it’s a mere trifle. Paradoxical, but true: rich people have fewer occasions for delight than those less well-off.

“There’s one other factor that can bring satisfaction – beating one’s competition. But you, Mr Heitzman, it seems, have no competition at all.

“So, it turns out you have only negative energy acting upon you, and there’s a great deal of it out there. Oh, and I forgot to mention: there’s just one force that can conquer the masses of negative energy – just one, but it’s powerful, incredibly powerful – it’s called the energy of love. It’s when you find yourself in a state of love and someone loves you. Unfortunately, in your case, however, you don’t have any women in your life. In fact, it looks like you don’t really have any interest in them at all, and at your age and in your condition you’re not likely to have any more interest in women.

“There’s a lot of evidence to back up my conclusion. I’ve compared the longevity stats of rich people, prominent politicians and presidents over the past hundred years. The results are quite persuasive. Longevity for the world’s power brokers doesn’t look all that great by comparison with the common folk- in fact, most often it’s less.

“Paradoxical, but true: facts are facts. Presidents and millionaires, in spite of being under constant medical care, in spite of having access to the state-of-the-art technical help and medicines and to only the highest-quality foodstuffs, are getting sick and dying just like anyone else. All this is eloquent testimony to the fact that surrounding negative energy exerts a colossal influence, and no medical science, even the very latest, is able to counteract it.

“So, what’s the bottom line? A dead-end situation? There is a way out – it may be small, it may be only one of its kind, but it’s there! Yes sir! It’s there. Memories!

“My dear Mr Heitzman, please, try to remember the different stages of your life. Any memory that will bring back pleasant feelings.

“Most importantly; if there’s anyone you’ve given a serious promise to and not carried it out, see if there’s any way you can carry it out now. I ask you, for your own sake, for the sake of science, to take at least two or three days and try to remember the good moments in your life. We’ve got equipment to monitor the functioning of many of your body organs. The monitoring goes on minute by minute. If you do what I’m recommending, and if these instruments start indicating positive results, there’s indeed a chance we’ll be able to see you through to a full recovery. Yes sir! You’ll make it! I’ll certainly find a way. Or maybe you’ll find it on your own. Or maybe it’ll just come about all by itself… Your life will come across it on its own.”

The professor fell silent and once again fixed his gaze on the hand of his patient, lying motionless before him. A few seconds later and the customary gesture sent the professor out of the room.

 

Like many people, John Heitzman began to recall his past. He had at least something of an understanding of what the professor had said to him. He could try to find happy moments from his past life, and they might have a positive effect. The problem was, though, that everything he had experienced in his life seemed not just devoid of anything pleasant, it was uninteresting and even senseless.

Heitzman remembered how he took his father’s advice and married the daughter of a billionaire, thereby adding to his empire’s wealth. The marriage did not bring him any satisfaction, his wife turned out to be barren, and after ten years of conjugal life she died of an overdose of narcotics.

Then he married a famous fashion model, who was the very picture of a wife passionately in love. But just six months after the wedding his security service showed him snapshots of his wife cavorting with her former lover. He was not about to discuss it with her. He simply gave orders to his bodyguards to see to it that he would never have the occasion to see or be reminded about her again.

By now in his recollections Heitzman had reached the starting – point of his participation in his father’s empire. He had not been able to pinpoint even one pleasant instance that he felt like holding on to and use as a source of positive emotions.

There was just one moment of pleasantness that he could remember. It was when he proved to his father that there was no need of becoming the sole owner of the Monetary Fund. Other investors in the fund, looking for a good return, would devote their mental energy to increasing the fund’s capital, and thus would be working for them, for the Heitzmans.

His father took some time to think about this. Then, several days later, at dinner time, he broke with his customary reticence to offer praise and said:
“I agree with your proposal, John, regarding the Fund. You’re on the right track. Congratulations! Go ahead and give some thought to other areas too. It’s time for you take over the reins.”

For the next several days John Heitzman was in an upbeat mood. He ended up making several more decisions and increasing the profits of their financial-industrial empire even more. However, he no longer derived any special feeling of joy from this.

The reports of increased profits were cold and dispassionate. No further praise would be coming his way. His father died, and praise from underlings brought no particular pleasure.

John Heitzman continued going back in his recollections and reached the time of his childhood. The rare moments of contact with his father were dimly illumined in his thought. His ever-strict father, as a rule, would issue admonishments in the presence of nannies and teachers which he had hired for young John.

Then all at once a wave of warmth rolled through the body of the billionaire lying motionless in his bed. His body gave a pleasant shiver. In Heitzman’s recollections the curtain rose on a bright and very clear scene. He saw a far corner of the garden of his family’s estate and there, surrounded by small acacia bushes, a little house about two metres high, with a single window.

For some quite inexplicable reason all children yearn to create their own little house, their own space. That yearning is there, no matter whether the child has his own room in his parents’ house or lives in the same room with his parents. With almost all children there comes a time when they start building their own little cubby-hole. In every Man, apparently, there is a gene that preserves some kind of ancient memory, telling him he ought to set up his own space. Whereupon any adult or child heeding this call, which arises from the depths of eternity, goes about setting it up at once. Never mind how amateurish it turns out by comparison with modern apartments, a Man who has built this for himself derives much more satisfaction from it than he would from the most chic and stylish apartment.

And so, the nine-year-old John Heitzman, who had two spacious rooms all to himself in the family manor, still decided to build his own little house with his own hands.

He constructed it out of plastic boxes that had been used for transplanting seedlings. These boxes turned out to be handy building materials. They came in a variety of colours. John made the walls using blue boxes, with a yellow border around the whole perimeter. He piled the boxes on top of each other, fastening them together in tongue-and-groove fashion. On one wall John made the box-bottoms face outward, which meant that the whole inside wall was comprised of a multitude of shelves. Boards with stapled-on plastic film served for the roof.

He spent a whole week building his little house, taking advantage of the three hours a day, he was allotted for leisure walks in the fresh air. On the seventh day, just as soon as leisure time came, he headed straight for his creation in the far corner of the garden. Pulling back the acacia branches, he saw the house he had built and froze in astonishment. There by the entrance stood a little girl looking in the doorway of his creation. The girl was wearing a light-blue calf-length skirt and a white cardigan with frills on the sleeves. Her chestnut-coloured hair fell in ringlets around her shoulders.

At first, young John reacted with some jealousy to the presence of a stranger beside his creation, and he enquired with a hint of annoyance:

“What are you doing here?”

The girl turned her pretty little face toward him and replied:
“I’m admiring.”

“What are you admiring?”

“This marvellous and clever little house.”

“Wh-what kind of house?” young John queried in amazement.

“Marvellous and most clever,” repeated the girl.

“Houses may be marvellous, but I’ve never heard them called clever,” observed John thoughtfully. “Only people can be clever.”

“Yes of course, people can be clever. But when a clever person builds a house,” the girl countered, “the house turns out to be something clever, too.”

“And what do you find clever about this house?”

“The inside wall is very clever. It has ever so many shelves.
You can put a lot of useful things on those shelves – toys, too.”

John was pleased at how this little girl reasoned things through. It flattered him, and possibly the girl herself pleased him.
She’s pretty, and reasons things through cleverly, he thought to himself And aloud he said:

“This house I built.”And he immediately added:
“What’s your name?”

“I’m Sally, and I’m seven years old. I live here in the servants’ quarters, since my dad works as a gardener here. He knows a lot about plants and is teaching me. I already know how to raise flowers and how to graft branches onto trees.
And what’s your name, and where do you live?”

“I live in the manor-house. My name’s John.”

“Does that mean you’re the master’s son?”

“Yeah.”

“So, Johnnikins, let’s play house!”

“How do we play that?”

“We play like we live in this house, the way grown-ups live. You can be the master, since you’re the master’s son, and I’ll be your servant, since my dad’s a servant.”

“That won’t work,” observed John. ”A servant’s supposed to live in the servants’ quarters. Only the husband, his wife and their children can live in the manor-house.”

“Then I shall be your wife!” exclaimed Sally; and asked:

“Can I be your wife, Johnnikins?”
John did not answer. He went into the house, took a glance around, and then turned to look at Sally who was still standing just outside the doorway. He said rather brusquely:

“Okay, come on in and pretend you’re my wife. We have to think about how we’re going to decorate the inside.”
Sally stepped into the house. She looked into John’s eyes with tenderness and excitement and said, almost in a whisper:

“Thank you, Johnnikins. I shall try to be a good wife to you. ”

John did not come to his house every day. During the time allotted for leisure walks he was not always allowed to play in the garden. Escorted by bodyguards and tutors, he would be taken instead for a visit to a city park or Disneyland, or go horse back-riding.

But when he managed to get away to his little house, he almost always found Sally waiting for him. With each succeeding visit John took interest in the changes that had been occurring in the house. First of all a carpet appeared on the floor, contributed by Sally. Then little curtains on the window and over the entrance.

Next came a little round table with an empty photo-frame on it. Sally said:
“Johnnikins, you’re coming here less and less often. I keep waiting for you, but you don’t show up. Give me a photograph of yourself, and I’ll put it in this frame. I can look at your picture and it will make it easier waiting for you.”

John left her his photograph when he came to say good-bye to the house, and to Sally. He was going to be moving with his parents to another villa.

 

Multibillionaire John Heitzman lay on his bed in his fancy apartment and smiled as he recalled, with ever greater detail, his childhood contact with the little girl Sally. It was only now that he realised that this little girl loved him. She loved him with her first childhood love- reckless, unanswered and sincere. Perhaps, just perhaps, he loved her, too, or perhaps she was just a passing fancy. But she loved him as probably no one else would love him the rest of his life, and so the memories attached to the little house he built in the garden and his contact with Sally still evoked in him a lot of warm and pleasant feelings. These feelings warmed his body and made him feel good.

After leaving the manor-house, he met with Sally one more time, eleven years later. But this time … New feelings excited his whole body. John Heitzman even sat up a bit in his bed. His heart had started chasing the blood through his veins with ever-increasing strength. That meeting… He had forgotten about it. He had never thought about it all this time. But now it occupied all his thoughts and made him excited.

He came back to the estate where he had spent his childhood, returning after eleven years just for a day’s visit. That was all the time he could afford. After lunch he went out into the garden, and somehow he found himself heading down to the far corner of the garden, where in among the acacia bushes he had built his little house. As he pushed back the branches and stepped into the little glade, he literally froze in astonishment. The house he had built out of plastic boxes eleven years ago stood on the same spot as before. But all around … All around were little beds of flowers, and a sand covered path led to the entrance, where a little bench was now standing. And the house itself was wreathed in flowers. The bench had not been there before, but it was there now, the grown-up John noted to himself. He pushed aside the curtain covering the entrance, bent down and stepped into the little house.

At once he could sense someone’s recent presence. His childhood photo stood on the little table as before. The shelves were neatly lined with Sally’s childhood toys. On one of the shelves, next to the table, stood a little bowl of fresh fruit. An air mattress lay on the floor, fitted with a coverlet.

John stood there in the little house for about twenty minutes, remembering pleasant feelings from his childhood. Why is this happening? he thought. His family owned a whole lot of fancy villas. There was even a castle, but neither the castle nor the villas had ever evoked such pleasant feelings as arose here, in this little house constructed of plastic seedling boxes.

When he came out of the little house, he spied Sally. She was standing there silently at the doorway, as though reluctant to interfere with the surge of recollections that had broken upon his thought. John looked at her, and noticed her cheeks flush with a rosy glow. She lowered her eyes in embarrassment, and said in a soft, velvety, extraordinarily tender and emotional voice:
“Hello, Johnnikins!”

He did not answer her right away. He stood there admiring Sally’s extremely beautiful, mature body. Her figure-hugging dress fluttered in the breeze. Through the light material could be seen the outlines of her sculptured form – no longer that of a child but of a maiden, feminine and supple.

“Hi, Sally,” John said, breaking a long pause. “You’re still keeping house here?”

“Yes. After all, I promised. There’s some fruit inside – it’s just been washed. Have some. It’s for you.”

“I see … For me … Well, then, let’s go in together and have a bite.”

John pulled the curtain aside, letting Sally go ahead of him. She went in and squatted down. She took the bowl of fruit down from the shelf and placed it on the table beside the photograph in the frame.

There were no chairs in the little house, and John sat down on the rug. He reached out for a bunch of grapes and inadvertently touched Sally’s shoulder. She turned her head and their eyes met. She inhaled sharply, which caused a button to come undone on the cardigan stretched taut across her breasts. John grasped hold of Sally’s shoulders and drew her close to himself. She did not resist. Quite to the contrary, she leant against him with her feverishly glowing body. Sally did not resist when John slowly and carefully laid her down on the rug, or when he caressed her and kissed her lips, and her breast, or when …

Sally was a virgin … Neither before nor afterward did John enter into intimate relations with any virgin. And now, after forty years had passed since that last meeting, he, John Heitzman, suddenly realised that this had been the only really beautiful, reason-defying intimate moment he had ever had with a woman. Or, rather, with a girl, whom he had made a woman.

After that they fell asleep for a little while. When they awoke, they began talking with each other. What had they talked about? John Heitzman racked his memory as best he could. He very much wanted to remember at least part of their conversation. And he remembered.

Sally had mentioned how beautiful life was. She said her father was saving up some money to buy her a plot of land, on which, if he could afford it, he would build her a modest house. And Sally herself would do the landscape design and put in a wide variety of plants, and she would lead a happy life and raise her children there.

Back then John decided within himself that he would help Sally. Wow, he thought, here’s a girl that can be happy just with some plot of land and a little house. Mere trifles! I mustn’t forget to help her acquire the land, and the house.

But John did forget about his intentions. He forgot completely about Sally. He was distracted by his life with its manifold charms. A new yacht and his own private aeroplane brought joy for a few days at their first appearance. He found a longer-lasting distraction in playing the money markets, in adding billions to his father’s financial holdings (which he subsequently inherited) – a distraction which excited his nerves and feelings for more than twenty years. It dominated over everything else. He went through first one marriage, then a second, as a matter of course. His wives left no trace of themselves behind. After he turned forty, playing the financial markets ceased to give him any pleasure, and he began to suffer increasingly frequent periods of depression, which finally led to a nervous breakdown.

But now John Heitzman was no longer in a state of depression. His recollections of Sally had quite stirred him up. Yet at the same time they made him angry at himself How could this have happened? he thought. I promised myself that I would help Sally, this girl who loved me, to obtain a plot of land, and a house, and I forgot.

Now John Heitzman was a man accustomed to keeping his promises, especially those he made to himself He realised he would never stop being angry with himself until…

He pressed a button to summon his secretary. When the secretary entered, John Heitzman was sitting on his bed. Even though he found it difficult to get out the words, for the first time in the past six months he began talking:

“Over fifty years ago I was living in a certain manor- house – I don’t remember the address, you can find it in the archives. There was a gardener working there – don’t remember his name, but it’s in our archived bookkeeping accounts. The gardener had a daughter, her name was Sally. Find out where Sally’s living now. I need this information by tomorrow morning at the latest. If you have it earlier, let me know at once, regardless of the hour, day or night. Do it!”

The secretary rang at dawn the next morning. As he walked into the office, John Heitzman was sitting in his wheel-chair by the window, wearing a dark-blue three-piece suit. He was shaved, and his hair neatly combed.

“Sir, the gardener was let go forty years ago and died soon afterwards. Before his death he managed to buy five acres of land on an abandoned ranch in Texas. On this land he started building a house, but broke his back during the construction and died. His daughter Sally finished building the house and now lives in it. Here’s the address. That’s all the details we have at the moment. But on your order we’ll go ahead and gather all the information you need.”

John Heitzman took the piece of paper from his secretary’s hand and examined it carefully. After folding it neatly; he put it into his inside jacket pocket and said:
“Have the helicopter ready for take-off in thirty minutes. It should land about four or five miles from her villa in Texas. Have a car meet me at the landing site. Just an ordinary-looking car – no limousine, no bodyguards, just the driver. Do it!”

 

At three o’clock in the afternoon John Heitzman, limping slightly and leaning on his cane, made his way up the gravelled path to a modest cottage surrounded by luscious greenery.
When he first spied her, her back was turned to him. The elderly woman was standing on a small stepladder, washing the outside of a window. John Heitzman stopped and stared at this woman with her beautiful ash-coloured hair. She could feel his gaze and turned to face him.

For a while she simply stood there with her eyes fixed on the old man standing on the path. Then all of a sudden she jumped down from her ladder and ran to greet him. Her step was light, and nothing about this woman looked old. She stopped about a metre from where Heitzman was standing, and in a quiet but emotional voice said:
“Hello, Johnnikins!”

Immediately she lowered her eyes and put up her hands to cover the blush on both her cheeks.
“Hello, Sally!” said John Heitzman, without another word. Or, rather, he was speaking, but only to himself, not aloud. How beautiful you are, Sally, and how beautiful are your sparkling eyes, and the little wrinkles around your eyes! You are still just as beautiful and good as before! Aloud he said:
“I was just passing through, Sally. I heard you were living here, so I decided to stop by. And maybe to stay the night … if I’m not imposing, that is.”

“I’m so happy to see you, Johnnikins. Of course you can stay the night. I’m here alone, but tomorrow my two grandchildren will be arriving for a week. I’ve got two of them: a granddaughter, she’s nine, and a little grandson – well, he’s twelve already. Come on in, Johnnikins, and I’ll give you a bowl of herb tea. I know the kind of tea you need. Come on.”

“So, you were married, Sally? You had children.”

“I’m still married, Johnnikins,” Sally answered cheerfully. “And we had one son. And now two grandchildren… Why don’t you sit down at the table out there on the porch, and I’ll bring the tea out to you.”

John Heitzman sat down in one of the plastic armchairs on the veranda. When Sally brought out a large bowl of some kind of tea, he asked her:
“How come you said you knew what kind of tea I needed, Sally?”

“You see, my father used to gather herbs for your father. He’d dry them and then make a tea, and this tea was of great help to your father. And I learned how to gather herbs, too. My dad told me that you, too, Johnnikins, have inherited this same disease.”

“But how did you know I was coming?”

“I didn’t know, Johnnikins. You see, I gather them in case of any need. But tell me, Johnnikins, how are you doing?
How’s your life turned out?”

“In a lot of different ways, I guess. I’ve been busy with a variety of things, but I don’t want to think about that right now. You’ve got a fine place here, Sally – it’s beautiful, so many flowers … and a garden!”

“Yeah, it’s really nice. I really like it here. But you see over there to the right, they’ve got a building project in the works. They’re planning to build a waste treatment facility. And over to the left there’ll be another factory of some sort. They’re talking about moving us out …

“But you’re tired from your trip, looks like you’ve been travelling quite a distance, Johnnikins. I can see how exhausted you are. I’ll make up a bed for you by the open window. Just have a lie down and relax. Only drink up your tea first.”

John Heitzman got undressed, with some difficulty. He really was tired. His muscles, atrophied by six months of lying motionless in bed, could only barely keep him on his feet. He finally managed to pull the blanket over him, and he fell asleep at once. Lately he had been unable to get to sleep at all without a sleeping pill. But here, all at once …

He slept in until noon and did not see the morning. He got up and took a shower and then went out to the veranda. Sally was getting lunch ready in the summer kitchen, and a little boy and a little girl were helping her.

“Good afternoon, Johnnikins! Looks like you got a good sleep. You look so rejuvenated! Here, meet the grandchildren. This is Emmy; and this young fella’s name is George.”

”And I’m John Heitzman. Good morning!” said the elderly man, extending his hand to the boy.

“So there, you’re officially introduced,” declared Sally.

“You two go take a walk and work up an appetite while Emmy and I get lunch ready.”

“I’d like to show you our garden,” George said to Heitzman.

The old man and the young boy walked through the marvellous garden together. The boy kept pointing out various plants and could not stop talking about them. Heitzman, in the meantime, was concentrating on thoughts of his own. When they reached the end of the garden, the boy announced:
“Now, behind this acacia bush is my’apartment’- Grandma made it for me.”

Heitzman pulled aside a branch and looked… There in a small glade behind the acacia stood his little house – made from the same plastic seedling boxes. Only the roof looked a bit different. And the curtain covering the entrance was different. Heitzman pulled back the curtain and stooped slightly as he stepped into the little house. All the furnishings were just as he remembered them. Only the photograph on the table was laminated in plastic sheathing. The photo was of Sally’s grandson. Everything’s just the way it should be, he thought. The little house now has a new occupant and hence a new photograph. Heitzman picked up the photo and held it in both hands. To make conversation, he remarked:
“Well, now, little George, your photo came out pretty well here!”

“But that’s not my photograph, Uncle John. That’s a picture of a boy Grandma was friends with in childhood. It just happens he looks like me.”

 

John Heitzman made his way back up the garden path as fast as his legs could carry him, limping with his cane, and stumbling.

Panting and feeling a little confused, he approached Sally and asked:
“Where is he now? Where’s your husband, Sally?

Where?”

“Please calm down, John,” said Sally softly. “You shouldn’t allow yourself to get so excited. Please, sit down …

“It turns out, John, that back in my childhood I promised a very fine young boy that I would become his wife … ”

“But that was a game!” John Heitzman was practically shouting as he leapt up out of the chair. ”A children’s game!”

“Maybe so,” Sally responded. ”Anyway, let’s say I’m still continuing to play at it. And I’m pretending that you’re my husband … my husband and my beloved.”

“George does look a lot like me, the way I looked as a boy. Does that mean you gave birth to a child after that night, Sally? Did you have a baby?”

“Yes, John, I had our son. And he looks like me. But he very much has your genes, and our grandson is the spitting image of you.”
John Heitzman’s gaze alternated between Sally and the boy and girl setting the table out on the veranda. He was no longer able to speak. His thoughts and feelings were confused. Then, for reasons which he himself did not fully understand, he said in a business-like tone:

“I have to leave right away. Good-bye, Sally.”

He took a couple of steps down the path, then turned and headed over to Sally; who was standing there quietly. Barely supporting himself on his cane, he got down on one knee in front of her, took her hand and gave it a long, slow kiss.

“Sally; I have some very important, urgent matters to attend to. I have to leave immediately.”

She put her hand on his head, softly rumpling his hair.

“Yes, of course. You have to leave, if you’ve got important matters and problems to take care o£ If you run into any difficulties, John, you can always come here to our home. Our son now manages his own little firm – it’s known by the lovely name of Lotos and he does landscape design. He’s had no special training, but I taught him myself, and he’s doing some very smart designs, and there’s hardly any shortage of orders. He helps me financially; and visits me every month.

“But it see1ns you’ve got some money problems? And something of a health problem, too? Come back, John. I know how to give you treatment and we’ve got enough money to live on.”

“Thank you, Sally… Thank you… I’ve got to hurry! I’ve got to … ”

He walked down the path to the gate, his thoughts all caught up in a plan he had in mind. In the meantime Sally watched John’s receding figure and whispered to herself: Come back, my love! She was still repeating this phrase like a mantra even an hour later, forgetting about her grandchildren. She did not even notice the helicopter circling for more than half an hour overhead, over her plot of land with its little house and marvellous garden.

By the time John Heitzman’s helicopter landed on the office tower roof, his close associates and their secretaries were already hard at work in the board room, feverishly checking figures, getting ready to report to the boss. They had grown unaccustomed to meeting in his presence, and now it was with considerable fear and trepidation that they awaited his arrival.

When John Heitzman entered the room, everybody rose to their feet. He began speaking even before reaching his chair at the head of the board-room table.

“Sit down. No reports today. Listen carefully to what I have to say, I’m not going to repeat myself. No time. So. In Texas there’s this villa – here’s the address. Your instructions are to buy up all the lands around this house within a radius of a hundred miles. Buy up all the industries located on these lands, even if it means paying three times their worth. Whichever one of you is responsible for buying and selling real estate can leave the room now and get to work immediately. Put all our agents on the job if required. This operation should take no more than one week.”

One of the associates jumped up and hurried toward the exit.
John Heitzman continued:
”All buildings, factories and facilities located on these lands are to be demolished within a month, max, even if this means hiring hundreds of construction companies. A month from now grass should be planted on these sites.”

Heitzman instructed the last associate remaining in the room:

“There’s a firm in Texas with the pretty name of Lotos. Sign a five-year contract with it. Engage this firm to design communities for all the lands we buy up around that villa in Texas. Whatever the firm asks, double it. Do it!”

Two weeks later John Heitzman appeared before an audience of fifteen hundred people. The audience, recruited with the help of personnel firms, comprised landscape design specialists, botanists and agronomists. Everyone wanted to get work – especially since the advert mentioned the contract amount, twice the standard average.

John Heitzman walked up to the podium and began speaking in his usual authoritative tone, which was rather sharp:

“According to the contracts being offered you, each of you will receive free of charge a plot ofland for lifetime use, measuring five acres. You’ll be offered several designs for pre-fab homes to choose from, and these homes will be built on each plot at whatever spot you designate, all at my company’s expense. For the next five years the company will make payments to each adult member of your family as specified in the contract. Your job is to make the territory you receive a place of beauty. You will plant gardens and flower-beds, and make ponds and pathways. You will make everything beautiful and good. The company will pay the cost of seedlings and whatever seed materials you request.

“That’s it. If there are no questions, those who wish to accept my offer can sign their contract.”
But the fifteen-hundred seat auditorium was enshrouded in utter silence. Nobody got up from their seats to head over to the tables, where secretaries were waiting with contracts ready to sign. After a minute of complete silence, an elderly man rose from his seat and asked:

“Tell me, sir, these lands where you propose we settle, are they contaminated with deadly pollutants?”

“No,” replied one of Heitzman’s associates. “On the contrary, this whole area has a comparatively clean environment, and the soil is quite fertile.”

“Then tell us honestly,” asked a young woman jumping up from her seat, “what kind of an experiment are you proposing to conduct on people? Many of us have children, and I for one do not want to subject my child to goodness-knows-what kind of an experiment.”

The hall erupted with a general buzz, and cries of Opportunists! Inhuman! Monsters! could be heard. People started getting up and filing toward the exit. Heitzman’s associates tried to explain and respond to the questions, but to no avail.

Heitzman himself sat there helplessly and watched the people leave the room. He realised that their departure was the final blow to his hopes. Or something even worse … He so wanted to do something nice for Sally; for his son and grandchildren.
He wanted not only for there to be no more belching smokestacks in the vicinity of Sally’s cozy cottage, but for there to be gardens around, and good neighbours too. He had bought up the lands, and the belching smokestacks had been demolished on his orders. And grass had been sown in their place. But the land could only become good if good people lived on it. And here they were leaving. They did not understand.
How could they understand, anyway? What could make them believe?

Stop! All at once it dawned on him. They knew nothing about the situation, and that was why they did not believe.
But now if he told them the truth … John Heitzman rose to his feet and quietly, still hesitantly; began to speak.

“People!” he began. “I understand. I need to explain to you the reasons for this action by my company. But they’re impossible to explain. There’s no way they can be explained. Because it’s just that I… You see, it’s like this… Or, rather, there’s something personal to me in all these contracts. Or how shall I put it? … ”

Heitzman was confused, and did not know how to continue. But the people had stopped in their tracks. They were standing in the aisles, in the exit doorways. And they were all looking intently at Heitzman. They were silent, and here he was, not knowing how to proceed. Yet somehow, he managed to pull himself together and go on:

“Back in my childhood … In my youth … you see … I loved this girl. But I didn’t realise back then I was in love with her. I was later married to other women. I got involved in business. For the past fifty years I never saw this girl. Never even thought about her. And then just recently I remembered her. I discovered she was the only person who ever sincerely loved me. And she still does. But I didn’t know about it. Like I said, I’d forgotten all about her. And I realised that she was the only one I could ever love …

”And then … I met her. Now, of course, she’s along in years. But for me she’s still the same as back when I knew her years before. She loves her garden. She does everything so beautifully. And I wanted there to be beauty around her. And good neighbours. It’s better for her to have good and happy neighbours living nearby.

“But how to make that happen? As a businessman I’ve managed to put a bit of money aside. And so, I bought up the land, divided it into plots, and drew up these contracts. I did it for the one I love. Or, just maybe, I did it for myself?”

This last sentence John Heitzman uttered almost as though putting the question to himself After that he began speaking as though talking aloud to himself, as though he did not see the people standing in front of him.

“We live for something – what do we live for? We strive for something what is it we’re striving for? I’m going to die soon – what am I leaving behind, except dust?

“But now, I’m not going to die, not until I finish my project. And I’ll leave behind something eternal – I’ll leave behind a garden for the one I love. I’ll leave behind many gardens.

“You know, first, I wanted to simply hire a whole lot of workers and sign a contract with a big company doing landscape design. Sign a contract so that employees could look after the plants. But then it dawned on me. Any kind of beauty will turn out lifeless, if you don’t create it for yourself And that’s why I decided to make it so that someone created it for themselves. That’s why I’m offering you the plots of land and the houses, and all I ask in return is for beauty around the one I love.

“You didn’t believe that the terms offered in these contracts were genuine. You didn’t know what goals the party offering you these contracts was really pursuing. Now you know.”

At this point John Heitzman fell silent. The people standing in the hall were silent, too. The first to break the silence was the woman who had expressed the most scepticism earlier. First she hurried over to the row of tables standing by the stage with the contracts laid out, and asked one of the secretaries to enter her name on a copy, which she signed without even reading it. Then she turned to the people standing in the auditorium and exclaimed:

“There, I’ve signed it. I was the first one to sign. That means I’ll go down in history, because I was the first. When you think about it, not a single man, no matter how rich, has ever given a greater gift to the one he loves than this person standing there on the stage. And it would be impossible for him to do more.”

“Nobody could even think of doing more,” cried another woman, “in the whole recorded history of mankind!”

“I love you!” called out a third.

“I want a plot right next to your beloved,” declared a fourth.

“What’s her name?”

“Her name … ” began Heitzman, but went on: “maybe it’s better she doesn’t know. Let her think that this was all the will of fate.”

With a single surge, the people in the hall headed over to the tables standing by the stage. A queue formed. People gaily joked with each other, calling each other simply Neighbour, but the majority; especially the women, kept staring at the man on the stage with sparkles of love in their eyes.

For the first time in his life John Heitzman felt the energy of good directed at him – the energy of love and unfeigned delight emanating from many human hearts. An all-triumphant energy; capable of healing any ill. He walked off the stage, now without a trace of a limp.

For several months he personally took active part in the demolition of the remaining facilities on the bought-up lands, discussed the details of design of the whole community around Sally’s cottage and alternative landscape designs for different plots, along with the whole infrastructure.

A year later, when John Heitzman once again approached the gate leading to Sally’s cottage, as far as the eye could see, people were already planting little saplings for their large gardens.
Several saplings stood near Sally’s gate, with a carefully wrapped root system. It seemed as though Sally had intuitively felt him coming, for she ran out to greet him.

”John! It’s so good to see you again! Really good! Hello there, John!”

She ran up to him with a spring in her step, bubbling over like a young girl. She grasped John’s arm, pulled him over to have a cup of tea, all the while happily chattering away nonstop.

“You know what’s been happening, John?! You know what a miracle’s been taking place here all around! I’m so superbly happy! There’ll be no more belching smokestacks next to our house. There’ll be good neighbours! See how life’s sprucing up all around?! Really sprucing up! If you’ve had any business failures, John, don’t worry your little head about it. You can just laugh at it and come and move in with us. We’re wealthy now. Our son’s just got himself a real big contract, and I mean big! He’s now in charge of a whole design and planning project. And we’ve got ourselves a little more land. Our son’s going to be building himself a new house. And the two of us, if you want to, can live here.”

“I do want to,” replied John Heitzman, adding: “Thank you, Sally, for the invitation.”

“But why go on living in an old house?” boomed out a voice from behind John Heitzman’s back. He turned around and caught sight of his son. He knew right off that it was his son.
And the young man continued:

“If I understand correctly, you are actually my father? … When little George told me that you thought the photo of Mom’s childhood friend was of him, I knew who’d come. And Mom never did learn to hide her true feelings.

“I, of course, don’t yet have the same feelings towards you that Mom does, but for the sake of my happy parents, I am ready to pay for the building of a new house for the two of you.”

“Thank you, son,” said John Heitzman, almost overcome with emotion. He wanted to give his son a hug, but for some reason hesitated. The young man stepped toward him on his own, extended his hand and introduced himself:

“I’m John.”

“Great!” said Sally. ‘And it’s great now that you two have got acquainted. When you get to know each other better, you’ll really like each other. But right now, let’s have some tea.”

And as they sat at the table Sally kept on talking animatedly, non-stop, about the extraordinary events that had been taking place in the last few months.

“Can you just imagine, John? Just imagine! Here they’ve been telling a story like the most beautiful tale in the world. A tale which is coming true to life. Just imagine, John- people say that all these lands were bought by one and the same person. Then this person invited the best designers, agronomists and gardeners and gave each of them several acres of land free of charge for their lifetime use. He told them to make their plots beautiful. And he offered them all the saplings and seeds free of charge, and will even keep on paying them for five years to beautify their own plots. Just imagine, it is he who will be paying them. He poured all his savings into this project, right down to the last cent.”

“Well, maybe not all,” Heitzman protested.

“People say he put in all. And you know why he did all this?”

“Why?” asked John Heitzman calmly.

“That’s the whole beauty of it. He did it so that the one he loved could have a place to live amidst all this beauty. They say she’s a landscape designer as well. And somewhere around here she’s got a cottage too. Only nobody knows who she is or where she lives. Can you just imagine, Johnnikins, what will happen when people find out who she is?”

“What?”

“What else? Everybody will want to go have a look at her and even touch her like a goddess. I myself, for instance, would want to touch her. She’s probably an extraordinary woman. Maybe she’s extraordinary outwardly, maybe inwardly. Everybody around is saying that there’s no other woman in the world who could inspire a man to take such an unusual and beautiful step. That’s why all the people will want to see her and even touch this man and his extraordinary wife.”

“Probably they will,” John Heitzman agreed, adding: “But what can we do about it, Sally?”

“What do you mean, we?” Sally wondered aloud.

“I say we, because that extraordinary woman, the one on whose account all these things around are happening, is you, Sally!”

Sally stared at John without blinking, trying to make sense of what she had just heard. When the first glimpses of understanding dawned on her, she let the cup she was holding slip out of her hands, but nobody paid attention to the sound of it breaking to pieces. John Heitzman turned his head in the direction of another sound – the sound of a chair falling, when his son impulsively jumped up from his seat. The younger John rushed over to his father and said excitedly, in a soft baritone voice:

“Father! Father! Can I give you a hug?”

John Heitzman was the first to embrace his son. He could hear how his son’s heart was racing. His son gave him a hug in turn, whispering excitedly:

“The world has never witnessed such a powerful declaration of love, without even using the words of love, ever! I’m proud of you, Father! I’m so happy for you, Father!”

When father and son turned to Sally, she was still trying to come to terms with what had happened. All at once her cheeks flushed with a rosy glow, as though smoothing out the wrinkles around her eyes. Tears began rolling down her cheeks. Sally was embarrassed. She rushed over to the elder John, grabbed him by the arm and led him down the front porch steps. Their son watched as his parents, hand in hand, started making their way slowly down the path, heading for the acacia bushes which concealed the little house of their childhood, and then began skipping toward the acacia like youngsters.

Ten years later a much younger-looking John Heitzman was sitting at a local cafe-bar with some other men from the community.

He laughingly explained:

“No, I won’t run for any presidential office – don’t even try to tempt me. And it’s not just a matter of age. You don’t have to be president to run the country. That’s something you can do from right in your own garden. See, you’ve shown by your own example how to really make a good life, and all America is now turning into a flourishing garden. If it goes on like this, heck, we’ll even overtake Russia!”

“We’ll do it! We’ll do it” echoed Sally, who had just come in.

“Only now, let’s head for home, Johnnikins. The baby won’t go to sleep without you.” Then she added, whispering in his ear: ‘:And neither will I.”

And so they began walking home, down a shady, sweet smelling allee, these two not-yet-old people: John Heitzman and Sally. In the springtime it always seemed that their life was just beginning. Just as real life was beginning all over America.

 

 

“That’s a beautiful ending to your story,” I told Anastasia, when she had finished telling her account of the future.” And all your stories are so encouraging. But will something like that really happen? In real life?”

“It will definitely happen, Vladimir. That is no made-up story; but a projection of the future. The names and locales are not important. What is important is the essence, the idea, the dream! And if my story has evoked positive feelings, then people will certainly project its essence into the future, and many people will add their own details and infuse the projection with their own great meaning and conscious awareness.”

“How does all that come about?”

“See how simple it is. Did you like the story?”

“Did I like it? I’ll say!”

“Do you want it to come true in the future?”

“Of course I do.”

“What if you tell it to others? Will there be those who will want to see something like that come true, too?”

“I dare say there will.”

“You see, that means that anybody will want to, who takes on the role not just of an observer of history, but an actual participant in it. And they will make the story come true.”

“Yes, I think that’s clear enough. But I’m just a bit sad that you went and painted such a beautiful scene in respect to foreign entrepreneurs, rather than Russians.”

“Vladimir, for Russians, life is already drawing beautiful and real scenes all on its own. Or, to put it more accurately, many Russians are working out the Divine eternity. And that is something you could tell about all by yourself”

“By myself? Well, I guess so. I really do know quite a few Russian entrepreneurs who have taken not just one but several hectares of land and are building their don1ains on them. Like the ones you described. Only their stories aren’t as romantic.”

“Grand chapters need to be written about anyone who has made conscious contact with the Earth. Such a story will be inexhaustible.”