When starting a thing it is good to do so at the beginning.
My first memory is of my mother. I was an infant and she was weaving the magic that would make me the strongest man in the world. Though I understood every word she said to me, I didn’t understand her words, only their meanings. The words I learned later, long after she was gone, and applied them to that night, to the memory of it. Of her.
Moving through a memory is like moving through a dream, and as if in a dream, we must move forward without questioning, for in a dream to question is to become lost. Let meaning come afterward, if it will.
The memory began with her presence. I was young. So young my eyes did not really work yet. The images that came through them were largely meaningless. Sight was so confusing and without reason that I kept my eyes closed, blocking the madness without.
I was acutely aware of the separation from MOTHER. I was somehow outside her, and I knew this was a wound that could never be healed. I wanted to scream out. I wanted to die of loneliness.
But then I could sense her, somewhere near, whispering to me.
Whether this awareness of mothers is universal among very young babies, or part of the magic that she enveloped me with I couldn’t say. I only knew that she was near me, and that the rhythms of her body contained the oceans of sound and the symphonies of touch which I had been immersed in from the beginning of time and that, though nothing would ever be right again, I could at least find comfort from the nearness of her.
I stretched my trembling hands out for her, reaching desperately into the chaos for her touch.
Instead of her hand or her breast, I touched something else, something that seemed at once strange and immediately familiar. Words are useless here. I felt something like a string of ribbons. Or more like a lattice of spider webs. Perhaps it was like bead of sweat drifting down a young lovers back. It was all of these things and it emanated from her and wrapped around me, and drew me into her. Pulled me into her with an intimacy that was as dangerous and innocent as a mouth to the breast.
It was magic. Her magic. And it washed over me. Poured into my mouth and nose and ears and carrying a seed into the fertile virgin woodlands of my consciousness. Like a snap of the fingers I could see her. She was standing over me, smiling down at me, her face equal parts love and worry.
“I don’t have much time Otto. I have to leave you little one. I have enemies, terrible people who would hurt you to hurt me.”
Her hand drifted down to my forehead.
“Poor Otto, you are such a beautiful baby. Always know I would stay with you my whole life if I could. If it were safe to do so.”
She looked away, out the window of the dark room we were in. whatever she saw out side caused her face pinch with worry.
“Otto. Later, when you can understand all of this, you have to believe it. Don’t let yourself think you are crazy.
“Your going to be a strong boy. A strong man.” I could see the web of magic coalescing around her fingers, flowing outward and down upon my face.
“You are going to be very strong. And you are always going to help people who need you. I don’t have anyone Otto. It is a terrible feeling. You be there for anyone who needs you and deserves help.”
“Your father will love you. He is a good man, but he wont understand you. He is part of the everyday world. Be patient with him.”
I felt a strange hesitation within her. Doubt surfaced on her for an instant, making her look older, for a few seconds I could see the weariness within her.
“I love you Otto.” She said. And like a thunderclap the understanding was gone, the strands of magic withdrew as fast as lightning. I was alone and forever separated from all I had ever know.
I had the mind of a normal baby afterwards, except for those few moments. They were crystal clear then, and they are crystal clear today. From that moment on it was as if the moment had just happened. I had an intuitive understanding of the memory, but it was many years before I could understand any of it on an intellectual level.
It was many years before I realized it was possible to question this memory.
As I grew up, I indeed grew strong. By thirteen I was as strong as a full grown man. By fifteen I was stronger than the strongest man in town. Any young man with gifts like that is in danger of becoming arrogant. But I knew that my own mother had power to put mine to shame. She had in fact created me, with the magic of birth, and she made me strong with some other kind of magic.
And then she was gone.
Ottoman Von Luitgard
Long have I been away.
Things have passed and new things have been born into the world since my sixty years of confinement. I am, as of yet, unready for this new world outside my windows. The memories of the events that led to my betrayal and imprisonment are still fresh upon my mind. It took all I had, and all I could summon, to survive those years. Precious little of my wit or resources could be spared for the luxury of self reflection. But now that time is over, and though I am hunted still, and still lack many of my former freedoms, I exist in relative peace. Before I immerse myself in the world of the now, I must revisit the world of then. Perhaps I can answer many of my own questions along the way.
I live in an anonymous, peaceful town. I am sure there are crimes and dark secrets and betrayals here, as there are everywhere, but as I have money and am quiet, I am shielded from them by an expensive lawn and a freshly painted old house. I am a simple man at heart and the solitude and quietness of the town are like salve to my heart, quickly healing me of the chaos and viciousness I learned to embrace during my captivity.
Though I was a private detective for many years, my most joyous discovery was that I was not suited to the awfulness of the depravities and brutalities to which I was subjected, and which I sometimes committed, during that captivity. Those dark days are now beginning to lose their potency for nightmares. Instead of nightmares I am now hunted by questions. Though I know who was responsible for my imprisonment, the damned and mad Bill Amsterdam, I don’t know why.
For these answers I can only return to my past, and write down the incidents of importance, and perhaps sort out a pattern, or perhaps notice a small detail, as lost in memory as a bit of broken glass on a beach of sand. The devil is in the details, as they say. It is possible there exists somewhere in my memory the key to my current circumstance.
Lisa has been my constant companion during these last few months. Though I insisted the debt owed by her grandfather was long since paid she has assisted me and aided me in my convalescence without interruption or complaint. Though as small as I am large she has a drive and energy that would be formidable if she were to present herself as a foe. As luck would have it, she came to me as a friend and in the early chaotic days of my freedom she saved me again and again.
It is not that I needed physical help. I still look much as I did in the days of her grandfather, William, who never quite learned to stop asking dangerous questions. Indeed, it is possible that I am still the worlds strongest man, though my isolation currently prevents me from knowing that fact with any certainty. What I required most was kindness, which had been sorely absent from my life for many years. Strange, dark Lisa gave that to me, after her fashion, reversing the ledger books of her grandfather debt.
Outside a light blanket of snow has draped the trees with a ghostly blanket of white. I feel introspection mounting within me like the slow rumble of avalanche. I feel the pieces of my past fusing together into a single tale. Perhaps this tale will someday lead me to revenge, perhaps even redemption, but for now I am unwilling to act. Now I must journey inward, toward the deepest recesses of memory, and it will be from there that I report to you next.
Your long absent, but not forgotten friend,
Ottoman Von Luitgard