Stanton gazed out the library French doors to his Garden of Eden, feeling at one with his rightful place in nature’s hierarchy.
Hearing footsteps, Stanton turned to see Rosa rolling in a tea cart with little cakes on a plate.
“Perfect timing! Rosa, you will be the first to hear the news. There is going to be a press conference in New York tomorrow morning announcing that the charges against Alpha Dog will be dropped. Seems the government’s surprise witness has been rather permanently indisposed.”
Stanton strolled over to the tea cart, plucked a delectable little cake off the plate and popped it in his mouth.
“Mmmmm… Yummy. All’s well that ends well!”
“If you say so, sir.”
“I do. I do, indeed. Rosa, I want to ask you a very important question. And I want you to be absolutely truthful.”
“Look at my face. Getting a little old and tired, isn’t it? I want the truth.”
“It is a very handsome face, sir.”
“You lie! But do it so well!”
Rosa poured tea and handed Stanton a cup. “Maybe this isn’t a good time, sir, but I wanted to ask you something…”
“You have my full attention.”
“I was thinking… Mr. Knox was always very sweet to me. I feel awful about his death…”
Stanton nodded with all the solemnity he could while stuffing another cake in his mouth.
“So, I was thinking… once Winifred’s all better, maybe I could adopt her.”
Stanton chewed on that. And the cake. Wandering over to his wall of books, he considered Rosa’s request, and leaned against his Rosewood ladder. SCREEECH!
Abby, Jerry and Evelyn huddled at their regular table upstairs in Terry’s Lounge.
“An accident,” Abby said, and threw the Monterey Herald across the table.
Jerry glanced at the story. “Walter Knox lost his footing and fell. Lack of evidence for any other reasonable conclusion. Case closed.”
“Well, somebody tried to kill Winifred and me… And Murphy!”
“Doesn’t matter. It’s over,” Jerry said.
“They’re going to get away with it.”
“They usually do,” said Evelyn. “This ain’t the movies.”
Evelyn spied the wall across the lounge featuring Doris Day movie posters. She lingered on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much… found herself humming Que sera, sera…
Stanton climbed the stairs to the apartment over his garages and knocked on Harley’s door. No answer. He turned the knob, surprised to find it unlocked and entered the room.
Empty. Everything neat and tidy. The only sign of Harley’s occupancy was the wall where the Psycho movie poster still hung. Harley’s knife pinned a piece of paper over Janet Leigh’s screaming face. Stanton moved to the poster and read the hand-written message on the paper.
“Serve the needs of others, and all your own needs will be fulfilled.” 7th Verse, Tao Te Ching
Far down the coast, miles past the Big Sur Village, was the Camaldoli Hermitage. Surrounded by California chaparral, redwood and an oak forest with views of the ocean, it was a natural setting perfect for living the contemplative way of life. For a Camaldolese monk, a life that centered on seeking union with God through the ancient monastic heritage of Saint Benedict. A life of solitude, community, silence, prayer and work in praise of God in the bond of fraternal charity.
But perhaps most noteworthy, and most familiar to the outside world, were the Hermitage’s famous Brandy-dipped Fruitcake, Brandy-dipped Date-Nut Cake, and the heavenly Holy Granola – all available on their website with proceeds going to support the Hermitage.
Guests were also welcomed and encouraged to play a role in the daily life of the monastic community and experience a creative peace.
In the Hermitage’s kitchen, monks prepared boxes of their Brandy-dipped fruitcake. Elsewhere in the large kitchen, several Hermitage retreat guests formed an assembly line. Last man in line was Harley Hudson, at peace with the world and himself, happily stuffing bags of Holy Granola.
~ ~ ~
“You have to give up the life you have
to get the life that’s waiting for you.”