© The author reserves all rights to this work.
This story is of an adult nature. It is not intended for minors nor for those whose law in their land forbids them to read this material.
This story is entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual people is purely coincidental and unintentional.
NB: Words found between asterisks (*) refer to words exchanged in psychic or telepathic communication.
“How’s he doing?” Jorg Vengrom asked Eva Sklerer-Letkens.
“Not very well, I’m afraid,” said the silver-haired Eva weakly. “The doctors have given him between several hours and several days.” Eva's eyes were red and she looked very tired. “He’s waiting for you. Please go in.” She opened the door of the room but Jorg hesitated.
*You’re here aren’t you?* Jorg heard Sven Sklerer’s weak mental voice.
On hearing Sven, Jorg hurried into the room. He found Sven looking weak and feeble in bed. Tears began to brim over Jorg’s eyes.
“You shouldn’t be weeping,” said Sven. “What would the rest of our kind say when they see the Magi Council President weeping over a sick man.”
“I may be the President, but I am still feeling person,” said Jorg with a smile. “I think that there’ll be more doubts about my quality as a leader if I didn’t care about my best friend.”
“Jorg, you do know that I’m dying?” asked Sven.
Jorg nodded his head sadly.
“Promise me that you’ll look after Eva when I’m gone.”
“Don’t worry, Sven I will.” replied Jorg.
Even though Sven and Eva’s marriage caused him a great deal of heartache about four hundred and fifty years before, the three remained close and stuck with other as friends throught thick and thin.
Less than ten years after their marriage, tragedy struck the couple. Eva injured herself trying to prevent a child from falling into the sea from a yacht. Her injuries were serious and the couple found themselves unable to have children for the rest of their natural lives. Jorg was there for the couple.
Barely a year later, Jorg’s father passed away. He had disowned Jorg for marrying a man. Jorg’s younger brother and sister, Ivar and Marie, blamed Jorg for their father’s death. The death of his father and the rejection of his brother and sister brought Jorg to the brink of a bad depression. The Sklerers helped Jorg through that rough time. Jorg had married a normal human being and had not revealed the real situation to him.
Jorg heard the door open. He turned to see Eva coming in with a tablet computer.
“You’ve got the documents ready?” Sven asked Eva.
“Yes. They’re right here,” came the reply.
“Jorg,” began Sven, “Eva herself won’t have much time left either. Her aging rate is increasing. Since we have no children, we want to bequeath our Micronesian island to you.”
“Wait a minute! This isn’t right. What about Eva’s family and your sister’s family? Shouldn’t they be the ones to have your property?” Jorg protested.
“Marlene already has a beautiful spot one the shores of Lake Superior in North America,” said Eva. “and my brother and his family never likes Micronesia. They don’t mind staying there for the duration of a holiday but to live there? I don’t think so.”
“Jorg, please don’t fight this. We’ve seen how your home was taken away from you. When your grandmother died, her property should’ve come to you,” said Sven, coughing a little.
Eva rubbed his chest and said, “Let me continue, dear.” Turning to Jorg she said, “I’m sure that you know that that obscure Magi Law that the council quoted had not been evoked for many centuries. Sven and I could never prove it but we were sure that Ivar and Marie had their hands in the mess.”
“This was so many years ago,” said Jorg, “Why bring it up again? I feel no animosity towards Ivar and Marie.”
Eva sighed, “That’s what we could never understand. You suffered so much and yet you don’t blame them!”
“But that’s the way Jorg is,” said Sven with a smile. “He’s always leaving the past behind and always ready to start all over again. I had always regretted that time when I avoided you and gave you so much grief.”
Jorg shook his head. “Sven, everything has been forgiven. Why do you still regret? I learned from experience that if we immerse in regret for something in the past, the present will disappear. What's most important is the ‘now’ and what comes after. The past can teach us how to live the ‘now’ but should never substitute it.” said Jorg.
“So, let’s talk about the ‘now’,” said Eva. “You’re our choice for looking after our island. Don’t worry about that obscure law. Everything has been checked and rechecked. The island is yours. It’s quite isolated and insignificant because it has no commercial value whatsoever. It's perfect for magi who need a place to get away from everything.”
“Jorg,” said Sven in a soft and halting voice. “It’s neither out of pity nor gratitude that we’re bequeathing the island to you. We thought about who would be the best person to keep our legacy. We’ve no children to do that for us. The island is the only thing we can really call our own. We chose you because you’re the best person to preserve the memories of Sven and Eva Sklerer. Please don’t refuse.” he pleaded.
Jorg looked uncertain for a moment and then said, “I, too, have no children. I don’t think I ever will. What if I died without finding someone suitable to look after the island?”
“Then,” said Eva with a smile, “Sven and Eva Sklerer weren’t meant to have a legacy. Right ‘now’ we have you. It’d be criminal for us not to ask you …”
“… and it’d be doubly criminal if I said no,” replied Jorg. “Okay. I’ll take the island. but there are some conditions. The island is to be a home for me, not a museum for the both of you.”
Sven managed a small chuckle. “See how quick he is in negotiating?”
Eva nodded. “The magi community has been living in great hope and progress since you came into office, Jorg. Things aren’t quite as orderly, nor as efficient, but things get done and magi feel happy about everything. We were loosing our identity in this fast-paced world. You’ve brought all magi back to the roots of our identity.
“Don’t let this exterior fool you. I’m just starting to take a breather after making all those reforms. I just hope the ‘Magi Creators’ don’t choose my term of office to return. Everything would turn topsy turvy!”
♠ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ♠
Sven managed to live a few more days before breathing his last. Both Evan and Jorg were with him. Marlene, who was confined to bed, was not able to acknowledge anything when she was told the news. Her children and grandchildren came to pay their last respects at the funeral.
Jorg’s presence with the Sklerers brought about rumours. He had taken three days off from his work as Presdient to be with his friends. He devoted his entire time to his friends, leaving the work to his team of councillors. At the second day of his stay, the rumours began. It was common knowledge that Jorg was gay. What wasn’t so common was that the Sklerers had no children. It was this fact that caused the rumours to go rampant. “Could Sven be Jorg’s lover? Was Eva just an excuse to keep up appearances?”
A frail looking Eva took the podium to deliver the eulogy. This surprised everyone at the service as they had thought that the President of the Magi Council would have had that privilege. Yet Jorg sat silently and contentedly awaiting Eva’s address.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” she began.
“I stand here to pay my last respects to my dear husband.” she continued. “Sven was a good husband. Even though it was my fault that he was never able to have children, he continued to love me. Sven had never made any great rescues nor anything significant in the public's eyes. However, for those of us who were touched by his compassion would not consider him insignificant. We have worked together to make individual human lives a little better. Hopefully we have contributed our part to the destiny of the magi race.”
“Though not perfect, he is lovable. I would like to share one of his quirks that actually brings me to love him more. Sven needed his morning coffee. His day can’t begin without his first cup of java. He loved that first cup to be brewed traditionally. The problem was that he had never gotten round to making a cup that he likes in his five hundred and seven years of life. If I am occupied, he would never ask me to make him a cup. He would rather make a cup on his own and endure a disastrous coffee rather than to interrupt what I am doing. Whenever I confront him, he’d say, Your work is important, dear. My cup of coffee ranks far below your work. He cares about who I am and what I do. He cares enough to put himself second. That, I believe, is how he loves. Ever since our very dear friend, Jorg Vengrom, was elected as President of the Magi Council, Sven would say, Let’s not disturb him. His work is very important. I know he will meet up with us when he has the time. Jorg has visited us occasionally when his schedule permitted and Sven had been very grateful. He had never believed that Jorg would change after becoming someone important.”
“This brings me to a very heartbreaking thing that has happened during the last few days …”
Jorg sat up. It was the first time that he was aware of anything heartbreaking and he was with Sven during the last few days.
“There has been very vicious rumours spreading around about our President. I’m sure that Jorg doesn’t know about them as he has been with me by my husband’s side. I wouldn’t have known of them if one of my aides hadn’t informed me. My husband and I have never had any problem with Jorg’s sexual preferences. He’s an honourable man. My husband and I share a very close personal friendship with Jorg. We’re friends! My husband and Jorg are not lovers! I deeply resent the rumour that implies that my husband and Jorg were sleeping together.”
The hall was totally silent as Eva continued with her tear-filled eyes burning with anger. “I cannot allow my husband’s honour to be tarnished like that. He respected Jorg as a friend and would never cheat on me. To suggest that there was an improper and secret liason between my husband and the President not only tarnishes the President’s reputation for transparency in his administration, it demeans the dignity of the man whom I married. I’m going to bring legal action against the ones who had originated that rumour. I’m old but I’m not defenseless. I have undisputable evidence in my hands and I will use it!” her shrill voice sounded.
Then she turned to Jorg and said, “I’m sorry, Jorg but I have to do this for Sven.”
Then turning back to her audience she concluded. “Ladies and Gentlemen. I said at the beginning that I wanted to pay my respects to my husband. That includes defending his honour. That includes presenting the truth about him. I’ve seen many humans giving no dignity to the dying. I’d never thought I’d see the day when magi are guilty of the same.” With this abrupt ending, she left the podium. There were murmurs in the hall as the funeral continued. More questions emerged after that speech. This time, they were regarding the evidence that Eva Sklerer-Letkens had.
♣ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ♣
It was like the final nail in the coffin. Legal action was brought about on Ivar Vengrom and Marie Vengrom-Black. The magi hearing required Jorg to testify. Although his younger brother and sister were not personally present during his testimony, Jorg knew that this incident created a permanent gulf. He was in total control in the courtroom, not flinching in the presence of the nephews and nieces. He had requested that Yanek and Sheila refrain from gettiing involved. He did not want the two younger Vengroms to take sides, though he knew that the both of them would stand up for him.
He was only present in court for a few hours. The hearing took several days. Eva had very damning evidence against his two siblings. He knew better than to dissuade Eva because she loved her husband fiercely. She wanted to defend her late husband. He remembered that she was a little suspicious about the relationship between Sven and Jorg. Even though Jorg never actively sought out Sven after his marriage to Eva, Sven was constantly leaving messages for Jorg. He finally met up with the couple a year after the wedding, after he had met Martin. It was only then that Eva understood the dynamics of that relationship. Her husband loved Jorg like a brother he never had. Jorg had already given up any idea of being more than just a good friend to Sven. Jorg was not a rival but a friend.
Eva had managed to secure evidence that Ivar and Marie had sent the rumours through their terminals in their offices. They had taken precautions, masking their identities with several layers of false data. What they had not realised was that Eva had a protègè in the Magi Support Corps who was involved in computers and communications. She had managed to trace back the rumours to Marie. Ivar’s involvement then came as a natural consequence once Eva mentioned that he could also be involved. The court ruled in favour of Eva and dealt a very harsh penalty on Ivar and Marie. Since they were already aging, they were not nullified. However, they were dishonourably dismissed from their positions within the Rescue and Support Corps and they were not allowed to hold any position that would have any access to sensitive information. Furthermore, all the honours they received from the magi community were revoked. The judges in the case stated that the fact that their rank and position warranted a more severe deterrent sentence.
An hour after sentence was passed, Jorg received a visitor in his offices in the Magi Headquarters. It was his grand-nephew, Per. He had just graduated from the Rescuer Corps Training School as a full Rescuer.
“Mr. President,” Per addressed him stiffly.
“What can I do for you?”
“I’m here to request that you pardon your brother and sister,” replied the new Rescuer.
Jorg stood up. Per’s face drained of colour. His mother had ordered him to come to see his grand-uncle.
“Per Letkens,” said Jorg with a tinge of sadness, “I’m very sorry to meet you in such circumstances. Your grandfather, Ivar, and grandaunt, Marie, have hated me even before you mother was born. I wasn’t allowed to attend their weddings nor see any of my nephews and nieces. I only had pictures from your great-grandmother, my mother. I only heard and saw pictures of your mother’s wedding and subsequently, your brothers’ births, and yours, from your Grandaunt Eva.
“I only hope that you understand that I’m now in a very difficult position because of your request. I also understand that your father and mother are in a very precarious situation as well. To ask for pardon will be a slap in the face of your father’s family. To refuse, I will miss the opportunity to show my good will to your mother’s family.” Then Jorg looked up and asked, “Tell me, Per, will my brother Ivar be grateful for the effort I make or would he be more bitter?”
“Well,” answered Per nervously, “l think that he should be very grateful if you were so kind to him.”
“You’re very diplomatic,” remarked Jorg. “Both you and I know that he will consider it a conspiracy of sorts if I were to apply my powers of granting pardon.”
“Mr. President,” said Per impatiently, “If you don’t want to pardon him, just say so and I’ll be out of your office. I don’t want to waste your precious time.” Per began to rise from his seat.
“Sit!” ordered Jorg in a firm and calm voice. “I’m not impressed by the way you conduct yourself in the presence of a superior. I don’t have anything against you for not wishing to address me in a personal way. Your insistence in calling me ‘Mr. President’ is quite proof of that. However, I take offence when a Rescuer doesn’t show some courtesy to his superior officer. I didn’t say that I won’t help. My direct interference in the matter may cause a greater problem. You’re already caught in the middle between your father’s and mother’s families. You should be able to predict what my direct involvement would do.”
“Yes,” said Per softly. “My father and mother are already strained in their relationship. On one hand is the honour of the Letkens and the other hand is the integrity of the Vengroms. My parents haven’t been really speaking to each other since the funeral. They make minor conversations and have avoided speaking on the subject but I can sense the tension that could erupt any day.”
“We must then do something to remedy it. Yet, dragging my name through the process won’t help at all,” said Jorg. “Per, I will tell you what I’m going to do but you mustn’t say anything to anyone.”
“My mother?” asked Per.
“She sent you to see me, didn’t she?” asked Jorg. Seeing Per nodding his head, Jorg continued, “Ask her to request for a review of the case. I can’t promise a total pardon but I think I can work out something that would satisfy both the Letkens and the Vengroms.”
♦ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ♦
The results of the review were surprising to the whole of the magi community. The review tribunal had deemed the punishment dealt to Ivar and Marie to be too harsh. The dishonourable discharge was reduced to an enforced retirement. Only their honours for long service were restored. Any honours that would give them access to sensitive records remained revoked.
Unbeknownst to the magi community, Jorg had pleaded with the review tribunal to reduce the sentence. He had reasoned that his two siblings were already aging and in view of their long service, they should be able to die with some dignity. At the same time, the magi community would be aware of their crimes and trust them no longer. The tribunal judges had listened to Jorg who eloquently assured them that the reduced sentence would be a sufficient deterrent as the Councillors in charge of the Rescue and Administrative Corps were monitoring the security measures carefully.
The evidence presented during the trial certainly proved that the brother and sister were guilty. Jorg had reasoned that the Letkens would be content with a verdict of “guilty”. This verdict regained Sven Sklerer’s honour. At the same time, the reversal from dishonourable dismissal to enforced retirement would partially appease the Vengroms. The sentence implied that the crime was not a very serious one.
The only loser was Jorg himself. Except for Per, none of his family would know that it was he who helped. Per had been instructed to tell his mother that he did not get a chance to see the President and that he had been advised to apply for a review of the case.
End of Book I
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