The Wizard didn’t appear again until the next evening, as I lay in bed, trying to count sheep, but failing miserably.
“What’s keeping you awake?” the Wizard asks me as he floats over my bed. “Did I tell you Nisha didn’t buy Intermizzo. Good night.”
And he floated away as if he were to disappear any moment again.
“Wim and worries are keeping me awake,” I tell him. I can tell he’s interested in hearing the rest of my story, because his ears pick up and he turns around to face me with undivided attention again. “But you have said something brilliant! The Star goes on the ‘ziekenkas’, less cost for me. I work home then on Wednesday and Friday. Willem can stay home those 2 days too. Less cost in creche… That would be a great scenario. Let’s see if everyone will play along nicely. That means the legal system, my Star ànd BNP. The bank might work with the re-organisation. New boss and all. So I’d have a year to sort out finances. Maybe even get rid of the Merc. That would be a bonus.”
“Sounds like a win Wim to me,” the Wizard grins innocently at me.
“The Butterfly lady from New Zealand would like to meet in London,” I go on telling him what I didn’t manage to fit in this morning. “Me and my three kids.”
“Win win,” the Wizard corrects his own pun.
“Win Wim, like that too,” I say with a philosophical tone. “Let’s see if I can make it work. Would be fantastic! And no more stress about finding new clients. You are brilliant sometimes.”
“Well done if it all works,” the Wizard beams at me in a funny tone. “Thank you.”
“Fingers crossed,” I sound more optimistic than I feel.
“Indeed,” the Wizard isn’t fooled.
“I am curious about the Butterfly lady from New Zealand,” I go on dreaming out loud. “She didn’t use her camera to talk. She wanted to know the Marc story. Her daughter has a successful online marketing agency in London. She employs 40+ people.”
“Be careful what you say and to whom,” the Wizard warns me. “Ask questions before you hand out a free kick-me-again pass.”
“I am a bit jealous because I can’t magage or grow a business,” I pout. And then my face burns red with shame. “Ooooh I did that? Shit!”
“Read some books,” the Wizard scolds me.
“Another paranoia attack coming on,” I recognize the symptoms coming on. “What did I do?”
“Not necessary,” the Wizard says calmly. “Just learn to ask what is their motivation.”
“I am such an idiot,” I can’t stop beating myself up about this. “She was evasive. She has an agenda. That’s clear.”
“Join the club,” the Wizard reassures me. “Aren’t we all idiots?”
“It sounds like she wanted to hear if I was authentic, then meet me and kids in London to see if we are authentic, and then sponsor my trip to New Zealand,” I go on spinning my desires together with facts. “But of course, she may be a disguise, a front for a human trafficking agency. Or Eric getting information. Or Marc. And tomorrow she will publish my confession on the internet and it will go viral.”
“Or a fat gay chick looking for a new relationship,” the Wizard joins my ludicrous banter.
“Yessss she did call me sweet girl in one of her weird messages and I diverted that,” I think back to our entire exchange. “That’s possible although she is married and does yoga and doesn’t look fat. But it could all be a fake front.”
“Plus Belgium is just a hop skip and jump from the UK,” the Wizard points out. “Your BnB is only 50 euro a night. No need to go to London at all.”
“The baby story isn’t a big secret,” I remind him. “If anyone should be ashamed it should be Marc, not me. What do you mean? I should get her to stay at my place?”
“She can come visit you,” the Wizard suggests. “Then you are on safe ground. No added expenses.”
“For some reason she wanted me to meet her daughter,” I go on. “Hmmm true though. So I am safer on my own turf?”
“She can stay with you for a day or two at 50 a night,” the Wizard makes clear again.
“What are you picking up that I am missing here?” and my attention is immediately peaked.
“Too much to quick,” the Wizard points out the obvious. “What do they gain?”
“True though,” I admit. “If she brings it up I will suggest. Going to the UK is an expense I can’t afford right now. True. Too much too quick. I am such an idiot. What do you think they are after? Would they really be fake? Hmmm possible. Very likely. Not from New Zealand at all? She sounded New Zealand’ish. Oh bother…”
“No nothing untoward,” the Wizard goes on in his most soothing voice as he holds me softly in his steady gaze. “Just weird that’s all. Perhaps she thinks you might enjoy meeting her daughter. What does she do for a living?”
“So just as I was telling myself to stop being scared, then here we go,” I can’t stop kicking myself for getting involved. Again. “Another weird story and people wanting weird stuff. Her daughter: online marketing.”
“Perhaps her daughter is in the same boat as you are and struggling with it,” the Wizard is looking at the issue from various perspectives. “Suggest you meet her daughter on Skype. No, what does mother do for a living?”
“She told me this is her daughter’s website: Cherry London dot com,” I show him the sleek website on my iPad. “She has 40 employees. Her mother, the Butterfly lady, is a travel writer. Ok can do.”
“Ah,” the Wizard yawns. “A common interest.”
“Yes on both sides, the travel writing and the online marketing, and the yoga,” I sum it all up again. “Admit her Facebook messages were very, very strange.”
“Perhaps she wants to help you travel by teaching you the tricks,” the Wizard goes on thinking out of the box. “The idea of a single mom with kids is quite novel traveling the world. Maybe her daughter could find you sponsors. 200 000 a year plus expenses and accommodation for you and kids. There are many single moms who could travel but are very scared to do it alone. You can write about what you did and how you organized your trips etc. Very interesting markets as hotels and airlines and related industries would be very interested to sponsor you. Maybe her daughter has good connections and can make good money out it as advertising revenue. Maybe this is your moment.”
“Hmmm don’t know what to think now,” I say torn between two extremes. “It might be. So proceed with caution.”
“Pursue it with caution,” the Wizard corrects me subtly.
“I will keep checking with you if you don’t mind,” I decide.
“Ok,” the Wizard yawns again. “No problem.”
“Did I say anything wrong with the baby story?” I am suddenly panic stricken again. “I hope the Star thing works out fine now. That would be a big blessing in disguise.”
“I have no idea as I don’t know what you said,” the Wizard makes clear. “But I don’t think so. It could be turned to your advantage I guess.”
“She tried to bait me with the stalker story but I didnt respond to it,” I say with certain pride.
“You don’t need your Star,” the Wizard emphasizes.
“I don’t,” I agree less sure than my psychedelic friend. “Let’s hope this ‘ziekenkas’ thing works. And that BNP lets me work home on Wednesday and Friday.”
“What else did you tell her?” the Wizard hasn’t quite finished with this subject.
“Nothing more,” I am relieved to admit. “I listened to her mainly. I am learning slowly you know.”
“Yes,” the Wizard nods. “Speed up.”
“Talk to me more often,” I tease him.
“Difficult but I will try,” the Wizard starts making himself more comfortable on his pink cloud, ready for a nap.
“I understand,” I say as I get into a comfortable sleeping position myself. “And I am teasing. A bit. Wish I could sleep. Would like to get up for cigarette. But its dark outside. Should try to sleep as I am talking nonsense.”
“Ok,” the Wizard’s eyes are slowly closing too now. “Now stop worrying. Wim will be ok. The Star will be ok. You could phone Sodexo and they will explain ‘ziekefonds’. Unizo could do the same except they charge for saying ‘hallo’.”
“Haha I will make some phone calls in the morning,” I smile as I settle in for the night. “Thank you for your fantastic ideas. Talk soon. Sleep tight.”
* Disclaimer : Any resemblance between the fictional characters in this story and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle by chance more than by choice.