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Ishmail Singh, Mentalist

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    I know this because Mattom knows this.

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Hello and welcome!
I would like to post in this thread for the first time and share with all of you a story (Which is fully copyrighted) I wrote these days.
Trivia point: Ishmail Singh is my name on Second Life.

R&R will be really appreciated.


Professor Ishmail Singh became a respected mentalist after his memorable trip west.
He was born in Kashmir, north of India, and the years he lived there he was a happy child, learning many impossible stories from his impossibe grandfather. And his grandfather was impossible because he had survived being shot in the heart twice. The first blast occured during some petty cattle theft, the second in some petty wife theft. His father-in-law to be shot him in the chest when Singh was heaving the young girl onto his shoulder, but the old man learned to respect him when, still bleeding, the future grandfather Singh went on running with a smiling girl on top who promised to obey him like she hadn't obeyed her father before. And she did by giving him the fifteen children the man wanted. The last son of his last son was to become professor Singh, acknowledged mentalist.
After leaving Kashmir on account of, well, a sudden loss of parents to a flood, he moved to Bombay -now known as Mumbai- where he met old Ishmail, a savant grown old who liked to hang around the crossroads looking for ladies to ravish and lads to train in arts he feared would disappear if not transmitted to new generations promptly.
"You can tell if the subject is lying to you by the movement of their eyes" Old Ishmail had instructed young Singh, "and you can predict their lies if you know something about their fears." Old Ishmail was fond of a frightening pedagogy and enforced it with all his pupils but especially with young Singh, since he was the only one from his entourage who seemed interested in what was going on; perhaps -and most likely- because the stunts the old man was teaching him how to carry out embodied the impossible stories that the twice-shot grandfather Singh used to tell him before he went to bed and, even, while he snored the heavy breathing of the sleeping children. His grandfather had been an incurable insomniac, and could ramble and revel in his uncanny memories from dusk 'til dawn. Old Ishmail would come to young Singh's cot and whisper commands in his ear. "Get up, rise and shine, away with your grave; up young thing, up, up and away." Young Singh, caught in the clay-like state of deep sleep would unconsciously activate the will of his muscles and rise slowly as if doubting, eyes closed as if denying the sunrise. And it was true, he denied it, because the sun had not risen at the times of old Ishmail's intrusions. He used to lead young Singh through the streets of Bombay in the ghoulish hours of dawn and have him steal the groceries he and his entourage would consume the next day.
"Pardon the young lad," said old Ishmail, tiptoeing behind his entranced apprentice, "the poor thing is a sleepwalker and some ghastly memory from childhood moves him to steal with no ill intention at heart. Please, I beg you, do not disturb his procedures; I am sure you understand the risks of abruptly bringing to waking attention a person who is gripped by this amorphous monster. Surely there is some divine expanation for this phenomenon in the inexhasutible lore of our gods and goddesses..." And so old Ishmail would instill a verbal trance in the clerks of the shops that were open at that ungodly hour while young Singh would -although unaware- filled the requirements of an extense shoplifting list his old master had whispered in his ear amidst dreams in his cot. The clerks would nod, keep their mouths open, lift a distracted hand when the unexpected vistors left epilogued by a series of grateful bows from old Ishmail and then kept their mouths shut. In the morning young Singh had breakfast with the other apprentices without wondering whence the food came.
It all was revealed to him later, of course. How the old man would have him rob a store with a bold face and the trickery behind the spoken subterfuges the teacher used. It was also unveiled that the man made his pocket money by having his faithful student walk straight on beams high above the heads of disbelieving pedestrians. Yet, to prove that it was all a mere learning exercise for young Singh, old Ishmail once faked being asleep and sauntered into a store with the self-given task of pocketing twenty items while young Singh misdirected the clerks with this or that speech he had to improvise on the spot. And he did, and they robbed, and they got away. It even became a run-of-the-mill story among store clerks in Bombay. Ah yes, the old baba and the poor sleepwalking kiddie. Tragic how he comits felonies and doesn't realize. Surely he will end up killing someone in adult age and he will have to be excused for he is not aware of what he does. What? What you say about the zombie? No, it is the young one.
Older Ishmail and not-so-young Singh tore Bombay apart with naive scams and there was no social/economical bracket who did not fall in the clutches of Ish & Singh -such was their handle- until people started recognizing them and it became difficult to find someone who didin't suspect foul play in presence of a sitting sage who had the power to make a young aid drawn from the gathering audience levitate three inches above the ground.
Soon old Ishmail fell sick in his own cot, the rest of the entourage had flown away long ago to become messengers, tiffin-carriers, thieves and what not. "It's fatal," he told his pupil, "and like most fatal situations, this is also hopeless. But I have an inheritance for you; I am not the grumpy, stingy old man who will take fame and fortune to the grave. Neither is huge, but they are both yours now. I leave you my fame in the shape of my name, so that you can have a first to join your last and become Ishmail Singh. I also leave you my fortune in the shape of a plane ticket I bought months ago foreseeing this moment. This is an all-time only. You will be going west and dwell there. Plenty of girls to ravish. Plenty of fools to bamboozle." And thus he died. No major speech of glory and power, just a plain-spoken will and no last trick like disappearing his own body saving Singh a fortune in funerary expenses. His body was there, on the cot, and soon it would start smelling in the Bombay heat.
By the time he arrived at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Ishmail Singh had grown into a tall man of harmless features. His eyes were shallow and the color of honey and his hair strings were thin and hazel, his skin was the sunburned brunette color one can only get through days and days exposed to the scorching sun of the streets. His suit was clean but not new, his hands were boney and couldn't stop fidgetting. He was at the gates of a world ready to do his bidding, like a Spanish conquistador sure of the roundness of the earth and eager to taste the salty winds of the high tides. He double-talked clerks and multiplied his rupees in a matter of minutes. "My name, you require? Why, I'm professor Ishmail Singh" and with a disarming grin and a tip of his derby hat he pickpocketed more than seven people and was not caught once; he switched the pen of the woman at the counter three times because her puzzled face happened to amuse him.
Sitting across him, awaiting the boarding call was a short woman with a voluptuous complexion that was impossible to ignore and who, according to his obscure methods of deduction, was probably afraid of chameleons, and next to him was Goldstein.
Goldstein had an evil goatee paired with an equally evil mustache and evilly-trimmed eyebrows. His hair was long in the back and receding in the front. He sported a long and evil pony tail and had eyes dark and deep and as evil as the rest of his features. He did, however, share something with Singh and part of this common root was the root of all this constructed evil: he had also studied with old Ishmail and lived in the roofless quarters of the merry magicians and slept in a narrow cot.
"How depressing, isn't it? Everybody seems to be rushing off to somewhere terribly important. Now it is your destination what matters more than your destiny. And how similar the two are linguistically, but the first usually gets us farther and farther from the second. By saying 'truce' I can force a spectator to think of 'truth' and then it is up to me to lie about reading their next thought; I am sure you can appreciate all the verbal irony in this. It is indeed more profitable to ponder at the twists of the tongue rather than making haste to our future; who knows if perhaps, and why not, we are to die in the middle of shameful defecation while studying the sinful anatomy of sinful women in sinful publications."

* * *

Ah yes, Goldstein.
It came to Singh when he mentioned death. It had been his fixation since the days under old Ishmail's tutelage. "What good are these tricks and deceptions, if we are all going to die full of confusion anyhow?" He was thirteen years old when he posed this imponderable, and repeated it once more at seventeen, when he left the mental camp to become a street corner swindler. Life, it appeared, had behaved nicely with this Jewish orphan. "What? You think I was born to Bombayites named Goldstein? For all I know they were old-breed Polish and came to India to have a child and abandon him at the gates of a convent. They escaped their share of Holocaust, but I tried to give a bit of it to the nuns and got expelled at eleven under suspicion of kitchen arson." He was no longer an orphan in rags but an orphan in a silk kurta, a black trench coat and a ticket to England at the end of his long and evil fingers.
"The evil ways of the gods, is it not, Singh?" Goldstein went on addressing him without looking at him. "Here I am, supposed to worship Yahweh while unable to pronounce his name from the moment of my circumcision -which didn't occur-; I share with my unknown relatives in the faith the fate of the homeless and I have had to wander time and time again to find a place to belong to and so from the catholic nuns I went to the godless Ishmail who taught us trickery until we got sick of it and must be purloining groceries by means of deceit as we speak." Singh did his math: Goldstein must have been around twenty-six because he was twenty-five. Old Ishmail died when he was twenty-four. So the evil-looking guy next to him didn't know of the death yet, he didn't know who sported the Parsi name these days. Better not to reveal it just yet.
"And so, once more I was on the streets as a vagrant who now knew how to cheat and win. I must tell you, I never felt more Christian than I did when I reaped my profits after sowing sleight of hand and speed of tongue. I have come to understand the west through fraud. There is a thorough picture in my head of how the street corners smell beyond Ankhara and I drew it by memorizing the angry face of Pandits who should have won at finding the bit of sponge concealed under one of three shells. High-brow wallas affecting pince-nez have seen the fall of their wits to the treachery of their beloved dice. I can guarantee you now: In London, it will be dandies and Johnny Walker types the ones who will render their wealth at my able fingers when they see me shuffle and shuffle again their own deck of playing cards." Here he sighed and looked at the voluptuous woman who had been boldly following the monologue word for word. In his eyes there wasn't a trace of lust and this made his persona much more mysterious and, yes again, evil.
"Yes, this would be a good plan, I have caressed this thought many sleepless nights and, just like it always happens with long-termed plans, I have come to question myself and ask why. Why would I do this? What's the real purpose of all this greed? This reflection led to many more sleepless nights and on sleepless nights I happened to do a lot of walking and so much walking took me to interesting places, such as tea shops where children kissed for no apparent reason, alleys where hoodlums smoked beedis until they toppled over, out of their heads. In my urban promenades I also went to a mosque because it was an attractive building and also once I hid there when a man in a turban saw that from under my lap a new ace was produced to overload the hands on the table. The mosque is a place to meet fellow believers and discuss the words of the prophet. Except, of course, you don't discuss the words of the prophet, you accept them and replicate. And there, my infidel friend, I found faith."
"Faith is quite an unattainable thing. You are either born with it or you are chastised for your lack of it. In the mosque I received the sharp side of many a muslim's tongue because I was born and raised out of the protective shade of Allah-god. But even that could be fixed."
Goldstein got up to the gaze of the woman and his old pal Singh and opened the trench coat he was wearing to reveal a tight and heavy dynamite belt.
"It's not really dynamite" explained the evil student of old Ishmail "as you seem to be thinking. It is actually C4. A powerful plastic explosive that can be molded into any shape. It doesn't react to heat or beating, just to an electronic signal like a timer or a remote control unit like this I have in my hand."
Young Singh was then the good apprentice and got up not knowing what he intended to do or how he could stop a man of the faith, whatever it was.

* * *

The woman he had been studying happened to have the seat next to his and when the plane accelerated on the runway she whispered "thank God I am not afriad of heights." Ishmail heard this in the middle of his own nervous drowsiness and asked, driven more by an impulse than by any thought, "What are you afraid of, then?" Chameleons, she said, and he smiled.
"You are truly an amazing man, mr. Singh." Said the woman much to the surprise of Ishmail Singh who, instinctively, asked her to refer to him as Professor -it suits better my trade but there is no real pretention behind the title- and then gently asked her the reasons for such compliment. She looked at him with a mixture of puzzlement and amusement. "You mean that you don't remember?" Then he looked at her body as quickly as he did when he needed to see a piece of information on a piece of paper to make an accurate prediction. He was immediately attracted to the voluptuosity of her shape and wondered what kind of man wouldn't feel a powerful lust for her. Perhaps a man of the faith, a man on the radical side of the faith.
Ah, yes. Goldstein.
"I don't remember much."
The conversation soon transpired that her name was Pallas, and this was also her first time aboard a plane. "You rose to face that dreadful man Goldstein and he placed one hand on your face and with the other grabbed you by the wrist as if feeling for your pulse. You slumped back on the chair with an expression of exhaustion, your eyes were closed and he kept one hand on your head and said vigorously but not screaming 'what is it to you if all these false believers and heathens perish in one single boom? What good are the tricks and illusions if we are all going to die in the midst of confusion?' You started mumbling but soon your voice increased to a hearable level. You answered to him. 'I care. You forgot who built the first mosque, man of the faith? Abraham and his son Ishmail who turned old and taught us the ways of the mind. I remember as you do the old man, he saved both you and me from vagrancy and took us in and instructed us as well as he could. What, if not faith, is that? I remained with old Ishmail until the last of his days and held his hand when he gave in to hopeless death. But even then he had one more thing to give away, so big was his heart. He gave me his name; and so I was no longer young Singh but Ishmail Singh. And like the man, my name incarnates the building of the first mosque, wherever I go there is faith and there is the will to construct a temple for it. Now let me go. Let me go to spread this faith.' That horrible man leaned on top of you and whispered something in your ear and you opened your eyes but remained very still."
"And?" Singh Asked in agitation, "What did he do?"
"He just walked away, into the crowd of Chhatrapati Shivaji."
Ishmail Singh sat back and wihtout saying a word took Pallas' hand and thought of etymologies. Of how his name truly was the one of Abraham's son, but also the one of the Parsi who foretold failure to his captain. He stood up slowly and looked around, there was no evil pony tail, no evilly trimmed eyebrows and no evil goatee. No one was wearing a black trench coat and no man seemed to have fastened his pants with a belt of pure C4, that miraculous plastic explosive.
At the end of the flight, Pallas and Ishmail descended together and underwent a thorough frisk from the funny-looking policemen at Heathrow.
- What's the matter? -he asked the officer who attended his groin.
- Some lunatic blew off half of Chhatrapati
He ran to the nearest television set next to the luggage conveyor belt and found a live report of Goldstein’s last and best performance: a crater where the boarding gates of Mumbai's international airport should have been seen from above and, written in enormous print made of black ashes and debris for the world to see, was the phrase FEAR NOT DEAD, BUT THE LIVING WHO SUMMON THEM.
He was still holding Pallas' hand and she followed him willingly. He was witnessing the immolation of his evil partner Goldstein while he remained the living professor Ishmail Singh, respected mentalist abroad, who held the hand of the Greek goddess of war, or at least her namesake.


I love mankind, it's people I can't stand.

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Gothson! I always enjoy your stories, so unlike anything on my bookshelves. A breath of fresh air.

I just picked up two children's books on mentalism....

I stuck them in the corner where kids come play to see what happens.
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Thank you very much for taking the time and reading it, gothmom!! I am glad you enjoyed it... What mentalism books did you get?
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