Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.
Welcome to Palm Beach! At the left is an old peoples' lodge and to the right, an old man’s Mar-a-Lago.
The old dervish said, dressed in his clean, but worn, long brown shirt...
as he walked with his elderly friends into the shade to continue their conversation, his loose pants flapping around his bony knees.
“He spends three quarters of the year next door. If you didn't know it, you wouldn't believe that he was the president.” One of the lodge’s long time residents, an old Mexican, pushed his straw hat up to sweep his sweaty forehead with a handkerchief: “It's still hot, late into autumn. By the way, Melanie came to visit. She sat next to her favourite water lily pond with her son. She was doing a water colour painting, I think.” His straw hat ended up back over his eyes as he chuckled: “They got through a hole in the fence, to get escape security.”
They sat crossed legged on the freshly mown grass, under an old gnarled tree. The old dervish nodded: “We welcome them, just like everyone else. The president’s wife or a homeless beggar from the nearby town, it makes no difference to us." One of the first residents, who was a wanderer long ago when the Portuguese planted their coconut saplings around these shores, planted the tree that they sat under when he opened the lodge. "By the way, how's mad Lenny?”
“Working for his keep. We made him a place in the old garden shed,” an old native American lady chuckled at her husband in the straw hat: “Lenny loves gardening! We've never had better lawns. Melanie said that he could get a job on their golf course. But he said that, because of us, he's not homeless anymore. He has a home now, and a job here.”
“Our old lodge is a place of constant arrivals and departures. Who wants to stay can stay, who wants to leave can go. For some, this place is just a threshold for crossing into another world.” The old dervish waved to mad Lenny, who was walking toward them shyly. He was dressed in a dirty flannel shirt and worn jeans with holes. He was holding a bouquet of freshly picked orchids: “For Melanie,” he smiled as he approached: “I'll put them in a vase in the visitor’s bungalow next to the lake, where she's staying.”
“Good, Lenny. That's what our small community of old people from all over America, is about. The principle is, that the receiving end shall not know the giving end.” Another thin, old man wearing a long white habit, smiled a toothless smile as he sat in a yoga pose: “Buddha said, when one is not hungry for him, then there's no hunger in the world and the starving think that there's no bread in the world. The right community, is the one who notifies people of each other.”
“She wishes that she could be a gardener like me. She's in trouble at the White House...
I just like to make her happy,” mad Lenny sighed...
and the dervish nodded: “Being able to touch someone's soul is a beautiful act of charity.”
Suddenly a long line of noisy, black motorcars appeared in their humble driveway, snaking up the hill around their simple one roomed bungalows and shacks, and breaking through the flowering hedge that mad Lenny had tended so lovingly half an hour ago. They watched solemnly as the new grass disappeared under the thick tyres of the first vehicle. Burly men in dark suits and matching dark glasses surrounded the small group of old people, waiting for a signal from the big man who climbed with difficulty from the back seat. He was attended by a pair of officials in smart suits with phones attached to their ears. The fat man chewed on a piece of charcoaled steak that he threw on the grass, before wiping his greasy fingers on the tight skirt of the assistant closest to him, as she stood there with a stony face.
“Whoever has been corrupted by power and tries to threaten a person or their belongings, should know that there's justice.” The old native woman put her fist up, glaring at the fat man as he examined the lawn. A man dressed in black stood above her to shout: “You've been honoured by a visit from your president! Stand up and pay him respect.” The ancient yogi turned to her, whispering: “We forget to be grateful for our existence and rebel at the first sign of trouble. Is this proper?”
The Mexican patted his wife’s hand: “We Americans have chosen this cruel one to lead us, applauding him for being tough. We can’t blame him for that! Turn the mirror to us and look for fault there. We can't say that we're innocent and that he's oppressing us, my love. We're being governed the way we are.” The president shouted excitedly: “I'll build my new golf course here. I love this grass!”
The old people sat like statues, before the old dervish in the middle of their circle stood up to spread his arms: “Welcome to our humble lodge. We don't have titles here. We're a society within society. We eat what the most desolate and the homeless eat. We bear what they bear. We're not throne owners here. We don't know what it is to lead. We're illiterate and semi blind old men and women. Everyone's welcome to join us, whether it's the president coming with his motorcade or a homeless person staggering on weak legs.”
The president looked up at the old dervish, noticing for the first time the old people who sat there:
“My Mar-a-Lago has too many officials, lobbyists, secret service and others there.
I've spent millions on it, but I charged them big fees and more are coming. I need more space,” he waved his hand to encompass the humble buildings below: “Just take your rubbish with you when you go,” he turned to his assistant, who was trying to clean the greasy spot from her skirt: “Pay them something, so that they'll move out quickly.”
The native American whispered into her husband's ear: “We need to persuade our president to lead with wisdom and diplomacy, not with vulgarity and force. Is he going to put our poor dervish in jail again? Like last year? To get our land?”
“He's president for only a few months more. Then he can't touch us,” the old professor of law murmured, as he sat in the circle. He looked up at the dervish who sat down, smiling at the angry president: “The judge’s court that accused you was a fake court, that's why the federal court acquitted you. I talked to my friend, the federal prosecutor, who looked into the questionable use of the law that enables him to increase his Trump brand of offices, hotels, resorts and other investments while he is sitting president. Diplomats, party operatives and businessmen are also forced to spend heavily there.”
The dervish looked at the old atheist intently: “If a dog bites my leg, do I have to bite it back? It's what a dog does. What do we do then? Our way's not his way.”
The president meanwhile, had ordered his assistants to set up his comfortable outdoor chair with side table and umbrella. Accompanied by his favourite drink, he sat on the opposite side of the oldies as they sat cross legged on the grass, watching him with obvious amusement. After he'd positioned himself comfortably, he pointed his fat finger at a retired evangelical preacher, who was sitting closest to him: “You look familiar. Tell me, where do you have my wife? Is she here somewhere?”
“When you had our old dervish locked up, they asked him, why are you here old man? What is your crime?” The evangelical preacher looked at the president crossly from his sitting position: “You know what he replied? Being who he is? Well, I've committed countless crimes, my son. But the judge accused him of terrorism!”
“That's fake news,” the president snorted, and the atheist chuckled: “The prisoners were angry with the dervish, and told him to stop mocking them. They said that tomorrow, he'd be eating his bread with butter but they'd still be there. And guess what our dervish did?” The dervish nodded: “You baked me some bread and brought it to the prison, along with butter. They enjoyed it enormously.”
The president glared at them as he tapped something into his phone: “Sleepy Joe won't get my cushy White House seat. I'll serve another four years yet! I ordered them to stop counting, so you may end up in prison again!” He pointed his fat finger at the dervish who smiled, answering calmly: “Whatever you seek, you will find. But I believe that justice is not to find the crime and the culprit. Justice is actually seeing innocence to the end.”
The retired Catholic priest nodded his head: “You should have heard our dervish offer the bread and butter to his fellow prisoners. 'Here you go!' he said, 'Don't make an early decision. It's not clear who'll eat the bread buttered and who won't.' I'd say that the same applies to your presidency, Mr President. Because what you did yesterday, defines you today.”
“I only eat steak!” the president shouted angrily at them, as Melanie and Junior approached his chair from behind: “You never recognised my value, Donald. You even made me forget my own worth. I want to stay here in this lodge,” she said quietly to the president. He turned around, suddenly: “Finally, they've released you! I knew that I could make them confess to their crime.” A frightened Junior hid behind his mother, and she spoke to him lovingly: “Do you remember what the old dervish taught us? Anxiety demonstrates fear. Fear makes cowards of people. Life can't be lived fully if you're afraid.”
The dervish smiled at Melanie from the circle, before turning to the president: “Do you say that determining right or wrong is your job?” And the president stood up from his chair with the help of two of his assistants, grunting: “Of course! I'm the president after all. I'm the best at what I do.” Then the president turned to his wife: “You need to return to our hotel in Washington straight away. The Saudi diplomats are there and spending heavily. They're making us rich and they need company.”
Melanie looked pleadingly toward the dervish: “I despise his chandeliered hotels and the corrupt officials that he entertains there. I prefer the ascetic way of life that you have here.” The president had already walked off, his two assistants loaded up with his belongings while his security guards surrounded his wife and son, waiting to escort them. The dervish turned his head to Melanie: “We need to navigate our hands and our tongues toward truth. Many people think that they need to stop living as they do, to live ascetically. No, this is wrong. Do things that you won't forget. Don't worry about the rest. Good luck, Melanie.”
“You have a way of putting feelings into words old man, but you don't understand about power and what it requires.” A tall self-important official waiting next to the line of cars approached Melanie, to get hold of her sleeve and slowly lead her away: “How can you allow that nobody to talk to you like that? You're the most powerful woman in America right now. Everyone's obliged to do as you say.”
Melanie released herself from his grip, kneeling next to the aged dervish who patted her long auburn hair lovingly, as Junior sobbed behind her back. The dervish added: “They make you believe in lies. We can't make them believe the truth. No man or woman is powerful enough to do as they please, but everyone has the power to reject things that they don't want to commit to. Surrender and find peace, Melanie. They say that the road is one, and that we'll meet again. When you forget your ego and reject greed, your time dilates and greed contracts. It contracts the time and the heart.” She started to weep and he took her smooth hands with their gold rings into his wrinkled hands: “Greed causes damage. Greed decays a person. Isn’t there greed for everything? Greed for money, for power, for women, for position, even greed for friends that you lack…”
“I feel so alone. He only loves himself,” Melanie whispered into the dervish’s ear and he nodded knowingly: “Ego is infinite blindness within a person. But remember my child, just because we're being mistreated doesn't mean that we should threat others badly.” She stood up and nodded, placing her hand over her heart as she saw him do: “You're tested in your position, Melanie. You're tested with money and most importantly you're tested with love. Don’t hurt even an ant, it also has a life.” Then Lenny stood up to hand Melanie his humble bouquet, which she enveloped graciously, smelling the heavy scented orchids.
The official tapped her shoulder urgently and she followed him down the hill, holding the hand of her scared boy. The security guards followed them in tight formation. The oldies watched them in silence, until the motorcade disappeared behind the humble entry to the lodge, toward another old man’s Mar-a-Lago.
The old atheist sighed: “He who abandons the testimony of truth and justice,
"We all feel for Melanie, forced to live with that man, but it's us who should be worried.”
The old dervish looked at him as he stood up. Everyone followed him down the hill in the setting sun toward their humble dwellings: “We keep order, unity and charity my fellows. It's all that we have left. There's no order without charity. There's no charity when the satisfied forget the starving. Where there's no order, there's no unity. So let's do our chores before night falls, and see what tomorrow brings.”
The atheist stopped them in their tracks, proclaiming enthusiastically: “My friends, we might be on the threshold from this life to another, but our lives still matter. Look out for the peace of society. It's our duty! It's everyone’s duty.“ The evangelical preacher and the Catholic priest joined him: “Well said! May God be your witness. Where there's no peace, there's no justice. Where there's no justice, there's no community and no state.” The oldies stood in line on the hill, their heads up and smiles on their wrinkled faces: “For a better America! For a peaceful, green and united future! Because we're worth it!”
Beata Stasak (author) from Western Australia on November 22, 2020:
Thank you Liz for your very kind comment, the article was warmly embraced on both sides of the political spectrum and that gives me hope THAT CHANGE IS POSSIBLE...THE CHANGE IS ALREADY IN THE AIR:)
Beata Stasak (author) from Western Australia on November 19, 2020:
Thank you so much Liz for your very kind response, we all need to do our bit to keep democracy, peace and justice for all in place, the best we can, humanity depends on it:)
Liz Westwood from UK on November 19, 2020:
This is a very clever and well-worked piece that speaks into the political situation in the USA at this time. You make a lot of valid and good points through your writing.
Beata Stasak (author) from Western Australia on November 16, 2020:
thank you my dear Peggy and I truly believe it as many many many people in your America and around the world too:)
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 16, 2020:
Your story speaks to corruption, greed, and narcissism in a unique way. I liked your ending: “For a better America! For a peaceful, green and united future! Because we're worth it!”