A Mosaic

A Mosaic

by Sidney Owitz

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Overview

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary a mosaic is a picture or a pattern produced by arranging together the small colored pieces of hard material, such as stone, tile or glass. The smaller pieces are an integral part of the whole. Numerous art forms exist in mosaic patterns. Many cultures have practiced this art over the last few thousand years. Mosaics have been found amongst the antiquities of ancient Mesopotamia. They existed in ancient Greece and Rome, and they are still being made today. One might refer to a colorful and differing pattern, such as a bird's plumage as a mosaic of feathers of different colors. In a similar manner one could refer to the tales told in this book as parts of a literary mosaic.

All tiles in this mosaic are based on events and situations that have occurred. Truth is stranger than fiction and as variegated as the tiles of a mosaic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781468580143
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 04/30/2012
Pages: 234
Sales rank: 904,980
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.53(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Mosaic


By Sidney Owitz

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2012 Sidney Owitz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4685-8014-3


Chapter One

MOSAIC

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary a mosaic is a picture or a pattern produced by arranging together the small colored pieces of hard material, such as stone, tile or glass. The smaller pieces are an integral part of the whole. Numerous art forms exist in mosaic patterns. Many cultures have practiced this art over the last few thousand years. Mosaics have been found amongst the antiquities of ancient Mesopotamia. They existed in ancient Greece and Rome, and they are still being made today. One might refer to a colorful and differing pattern, such as a bird's plumage as a mosaic of feathers of different colors. In a similar manner one could refer to the tales told in this book as parts of a literary mosaic.

All tiles in this mosaic are based on events and situations that have occurred. Truth is stranger than fiction and as variegated as the tiles of a mosaic.

Chapter Two

THE FLUTE

When first you set your eyes upon him you see the most hideous-looking young man that you ever saw in your life. Some, on first appearance, have emitted an audible gasp while staring in amazement; others have held their breath and visibly paled. There are those who have turned away so as not to be encumbered by such an unappealing sight. It was almost as though they had sighted a strange creature from a different planet. He was certainly very ugly. His nose was too large for his face, and his eyes were too small for his head; his hair was sparse on top of his head but was growing wildly all over his face, unregulated; his complexion was sallow, and his face and head were covered over with soft tumors; hence the unruly growth of hair which he used to try to cover the unbecoming tumors. The rest of his body was enveloped in these unattractive swellings, some of which appeared to be pigmented. It was as though his entire body was enclosed in a soft cushiony material. He had a condition known as von Recklinghausen's Disease or neurofibromatosis, which is a malady consisting of multiple benign tumors, soft and compressible, spread throughout his skin from head to foot. It was not ever going to kill him, but it was unsightly. It is a hereditary condition, not unlike the case of the Elephant Man who was shown in circuses all around England in the nineteenth century, and proved to be a great source of income to those who displayed him.

Notwithstanding his gross appearance he was the kindest person you could ever hope to meet. He exuded tranquility, and his tranquil appearance detracted from the underlying ugliness of his features – if only people would stop and talk to him. He loved everybody he came across, even those who teased him or commented unfavorably on his appearance. He could not say a bad word about anybody. He loved all people and he loved all animals. He could have been at peace with the world if only others would have left him alone. He was constantly badgered by cruel and thoughtless children and adults alike. Their constant disrespect and abuse of him set him apart from the crowd. He was a loner. However, he loved music. It was music that filled his lonesome hours. Despite his strange appearance he was known to all as the boy with the flute. He was never seen without his flute. He played it wherever he went. He would often be noticed walking around town carrying his instrument. He would sit down on a park bench or a bus station and play. People who might be rushing to get somewhere in a hurry would stop to listen to his music; they would oft en miss their bus or forget about where they were going and just hear him play. Sometimes the music was sad, and a few would become tearful; often the music was cheerful, and they would tap their feet to the tune. But always it sounded as though a master was at work.

"Everyone suddenly burst out singing; And I was filled with such delight As prisoned birds must find in freedom Winging wildly across the white Orchards and dark green fields; on; on; and out of sight." Siegfried Sassoon (born 1886)

He never placed his hat down next to him because that would mean that he was playing for the purpose of collecting money. He had no interest in receiving donations; he played for the enjoyment he reaped from the sounds emitted from his flute and the pleasure he was giving others. Nevertheless coins were scattered all around him, and when he finished playing he would pick them all up and deliver them to the poorhouse down the road or to the animal welfare center which was across the town.

He was a master at the flute. Ever since he was a child he played the flute every day. He picked it up one day from his father's instrument case and he started playing it. The music seemed to come naturally to him. It did not take him long to teach himself little tunes, even before he had received a single lesson. Soon he was playing complicated tunes. It seemed as though the music was all pent up within him and was now beginning to burst out. His father sent him to a well-known flautist in order to further develop his talent. He improved so rapidly that after a few months the teacher told his father "He has outstripped me. You are paying me needlessly. I have nothing left to offer him. He must either continue on his own or else you must take him abroad, where there may be someone you will find who has more talent than your son. There may be such a teacher but I am sure your son will soon outstrip him, too."

"Your son" he added, "has been blessed with perfect pitch and a deep understanding of music. It is in his bones. I think he must have been born with special musical genes. I have never known another person like him."

As there was insufficient money available no steps were taken to send him overseas in order to seek out such a teacher who could fine-tune his talent, so he continued playing on his own, improving all the time. Unfortunately one's appearance could act as a hindrance to one's abilities, and so it was in this case. He was teased all day at school because of his outward appearance. He was abused and tormented by the other children in the neighborhood. He received little support from the teachers, some of whom actually received a secret pleasure from watching him being harassed. He took very little notice of the jibes and insults. He was pushed and jostled, and frequently thrown down into the sand or on to the concrete pavement; but he stood up immediately and never cried and never displayed signs of having been hurt. Strangely, he held no rancor for the children who attacked him. Instead, he commented insightfully that they should have had better upbringing at home. He never tried to retaliate as he did not feel the need to do so, nor did he wish to injure another person. If he had fought back he probably could have caused much damage, as he was larger than most of the other children and much stronger than them. They only persisted in attacking him because they knew that he would never fight back. However, when he played his flute nobody ever tried to interfere with him because when he was making music it sounded as though he was doing God's work, and all they wanted to do was to enjoy the beautiful sound. Perhaps that is why he always played - he learnt that he was safe while he made music. It was a means of self-preservation, and it assured him of his security. He sensed that he was holy while his flute sang; and apparently everybody else felt the same way! The flute was his friend and his guardian. It was also his life-saver! When his song was over reality set in!

Everyone called him Pete. He was Peter Searle. His mother died in childbirth while she was in labor with her second child when Pete was two years old. She had been trying to have another child since Pete's birth. She had wanted to bring some pleasure into her own life with a child that was whole and beautiful like other women's babies. She had wanted some escape from the guilt and sadness that dogged her day and night following Pete's unfortunate entry onto this earth. He had been healthy enough but his appearance was such that she desperately tried to hide him from public view. It had been so painful for her to watch the reactions of the people when they set their eyes upon her son. She vowed she would have another child, perhaps a beautiful little girl that would make others smile and say "What a pretty little girl!" However, it was not to be so. She hemorrhaged during labor in the presence of a helpless midwife. Both mother and child–a little girl for whom she had been so patiently awaiting - succumbed in a red tide that poured from her uterus while the midwife watched two lives ebbing away, and there was no stopping it. Help arrived too late, and new breath could not be instilled into the lifeless beings.

Freddie Searle was heartbroken, and left to bring up Pete. He tried to get his sisters and aunts to take over and bring up his son, but they winced and turned away. "He is too hideous! I could not live with, let alone care for, this little boy" admitted Aunt Sadie in all truthfulness. Freddie had no alternative; he was left with the thankless task of rearing Pete alone. All his friends and neighbors would vouch for the fact that Freddie did an excellent job. He was a wonderful father who truly loved his son and wanted the best for him. After a while he did not even notice Pete's physical inadequacies and only saw in him a beautiful mind and soul. "I have a wonderful friend in my son. He is a comfort to me, as I hope that I am to him" he proudly announced. However, he, too, did not take him away from the house too often, not only because of the comments he would hear from those who saw him, but also because he did not want Pete to notice other people's reactions towards him.

So Pete, in his early days growing up, spent most of his days at home. He might have thought that the world consisted of two people – him and his father. The Lord, he must have imagined, created heaven and earth for Freddie and Pete Searle. The separation of day and night, the seasons, the growth of the trees and grasses and crops and birds were all there for Freddie and Pete. Also, the earth's orbit around the sun, as well as the excursions of all the other planets around the sun, and the myriads of solar systems were all there for Freddie and Pete. It would seem so to Pete because he hardly ever saw another human being. It was fortunate that Freddie was available to take care of Pete because he was able to do his work from home since he was a writer for a magazine.

Pete had no idea that his appearance was very different from other children because he had rarely seen other children. When he looked into the mirror and saw his swollen unattractive face it appeared perfectly normal to him as he had nothing with which to compare it. He saw the structures of his face as his individuality just as his father had his own individual appearance. He did not realize that his tumors were not normal features of a face or body. He grew up unaware that his face could frighten others and that he might be shunned when he came into contact with the outside world.

However, he could not live in a glass case forever. Sooner or later he would have to meet the world! When Pete grew older he had to go to school. This was the time that he started to meet other children and when his torment commenced. Nobody would sit next to him in the classroom; nobody wished to play with him, and nobody wanted to eat their lunch with him. The teachers understood the reactions of the children and did not try to modify their behavior towards Pete since they probably felt the same as the children did. Who would want to sit next to such a child? In the playground children ran away from him at first and no one wished to play with him. Gradually they sidled up towards him in groups – never singly – when they realized that he was peaceful and passive, and started to taunt him. They called him names and threw stones at him. As they became braver they would run up to him and push him with their gloves on, fearing to touch his body with their bare hands. He was a little surprised to notice their treatment of him but accepted it as normal. He was only too pleased to be in a classroom or on the playground with other children since he had spent his childhood alone thus far. He did not anticipate danger or expect anything untoward to occur from these mild physical assaults. At this point he became aware that other children were not covered with these bumps all over their bodies, and that they looked a little different.

"Dad," he asked at home after school one day, "Do I look different?"

"We all look different" answered his father, avoiding the truth. "No two people look alike; not even identical twins."

"But," said Pete, "I am covered with lumps and bumps."

"Would you rather look like them?" asked his father.

"Yes. Then maybe they would not tease me" Pete replied.

"Then they would find something else to tease you about."

"They don't tease each other as much."

"You are a far nicer person than any of them. You have a beautiful soul" remarked his father as he realized that what he had always feared was now occurring.

When they heard Pete playing his flute they stopped teasing him. They sat back and listened. Naturally Pete used the flute as a protective mechanism, and whenever he suspected that the children were about to give him a rough time he would take out his flute and play. They were mesmerized by the plaintive sounds that were emitted through his simple looking instrument – such melancholy was conveyed that all who heard it were either driven to tears or to the brink. Yet on other occasions the distinctive joyful tones coming out of his cheerful instrument would send the listeners dancing in the streets.

However, as Pete grew older his difference in appearance from the other children began to weigh heavily on his mind. If he resembled the others they would not tease him. He had seen birds of one species chasing a bird from a different species because it was a stranger amongst them. He felt like a stranger amongst these children. He noticed some people cringing from him when he approached them while others would turn and walk away; and there were those who were downright rude to him. He began to feel self-conscious because he looked different. Nobody had those large cushion-like bumps on their faces and bodies like he had. He could understand why people looked upon him as though he was an alien from outer space. He felt as though he belonged to another species. Nobody wanted to play with him in the school playground. Once he joined in while they were kicking the ball around. One by one they walked away, and he was left alone holding the ball. Even the boy who owned the ball was prepared to forsake his possession so that he would not be left to play with Pete. He did not even want to touch the ball after Pete had touched it! Pete was getting quite used to be alone. He ate his lunch alone, and walked around during breaks alone. In the classroom there was always an empty seat to his left and to his right and behind him. Even the teacher never called upon him to participate during class or ever asked him questions. The teacher was as guilty as his students. He was treated like a pariah; he was the polecat of the class.

Until now he had accepted his isolation with equanimity. His flute was always there to rescue him. He would take out his flute and mesmerize all those around him with the mournful tones alternating with cheerful melodies. However, pulling out his flute could not always be done. There were numerous occasions when it was inappropriate to do so. He would go home feeling very sad. Sometimes he would even cry. His father did not ask him why he was crying because the cause was obvious. In fact, his father sometimes cried with him. They cried together. There is comfort in having someone cry with you – and frequently they would both end up laughing. Freddie Searle pondered endlessly as to how he could handle Pete's problem, but it appeared as though he was up against a stone wall. He sought the help of psychiatrists, therapists and wise men, but no one was able to give him any advice that he felt was of any value. "This is something that Pete will have to live with until his dying day" was the only conclusion that Freddie could come up with.

School days were rough and vacation days were worse. Isolation, loneliness, boredom and depression were daily occurrences. When somebody after school said "Let us go and get a pizza" it meant "all of us, except Pete". When another offered "Come to my house on Friday night for a sleep-away and party" it implicitly hinted "Of course, not you, Pete". When the school bus took them to the zoo one mother said "Could the children go without informing the Searle child about the trip?" When he entered the swimming pool some would get out of the pool as though Pete had contaminated the water. Some children were afraid to go near him lest those ugly tumors would invade their bodies. Parents complained to the teachers that they wanted Pete removed from school in case he was infectious and their children would 'catch' the disease. Wherever Pete went he had to 'tread lightly' for fear that he would create a disturbance. Thus he remained very quiet and self-conscious, apologetic for the space he was taking up and afraid of causing a reaction amongst the children.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from A Mosaic by Sidney Owitz Copyright © 2012 by Sidney Owitz. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

CHAPTER I - MOSAIC....................1
CHAPTER II - THE FLUTE....................2
CHAPTER III - THE JAIL-BREAK....................20
CHAPTER IV – THE KNOCK ON THE DOOR....................45
CHAPTER V – GRACIA MENDES 8....................5
CHAPTER VI – AFLOAT 9....................8
CHAPTER VII – THE STOLEN BOY 11....................9
CHAPTER VIII – MOHAMMED- AND BEYOND....................138
CHAPTER IX – THE RELUCTANT PRINCESS....................161
CHAPTER X – THE TEN PLAGUES....................177
CHAPTER XI – THE TURNAROUND....................199
CHAPTER XII – WALKING IN QUICKSAND....................211

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