TheUbiquitous Truth in the New Ending
The police had found a penknife, which the murderer, Mrs. Cinnadellaapparently used to kill her husband whose body was found by a hotelemployee. The police described Mrs. Cinnadella as dark, gorgeous,elegant, and slender. Juliana smirked at the thought that the policedid not have a clue about her or who she was. She read the news ofhis death as she drove down the road looking for a suitable motel,which she found thirty minutes later. The news made her less anxiousand she felt exultant that she would no longer have to hurry. The newrevelation meant that she would have to go to the Abendsen at night,dressed in her new dress. Once in the hotel room, she turned on theradio, buttressed herself on a black leather chair and gazed on thewhite walls briefly. The room’s bed was tidily made and aphotograph of Harry Truman hung on the mantelpiece. She clasped herarms around herself, and then took a copy of The Grasshopper,which she had purchased earlier and engrossed herself. Two hourslater, she finished the book, put it away in her valise and ordereddinner from the motel’s kitchen.
After she finished her dinner, she took her new dress from thesuitcase, but was disappointed to find that she had not carried herhalf-bras. She sat on the edge of the bedstead and returned hertresses in a chignon on the back of her head, and dressed herself inthe new dress. At eight-thirty, she left the motel room, took a gotinto her black Cadillac, and left for the Abendsens’. She saw thelights were up and wondered what was going on in the house. She feltforlorn and thought of going back to her motel room, but thenremembered that she was here for the permeating truth, and nothingwas going to hold her back. Seeking the ubiquitous truth meant thatshe had to cultivate a spirit of inquiry and show a profoundseriousness in front of her hosts. The house was one story Victorianstyle littoral home with a fascinating stucco exterior, deluxe andmajestic as any manor house a perfect marriage of novelty andtraditional architectural values. She knocked on the door and astunning woman in her early thirties flung the door open. She smiledat her, and Juliana marveled on Caroline Abendsen beauty blond hair,curvaceous frame, impeccably elegant, and courteously thorough.
“I calledlast night,” Juliana stuttered
“Oh yes ofcourse, these are a few friends. What a lovely dress.” Shereplied, as she led Juliana across the living room to the backyard.The interior was as charming as the exterior with high ceilings, aluxurious feel, and a stately atmosphere. It seemed like a party wasgoing on as numerous people were dotted all over the house, althoughthey were not formally dressed.
In thebackyard, a group of men were thoroughly engaged in a conversationand they seemed exasperated when Caroline called out her husband,Hawthorne Abendsen. One man of the group moved, detached andapproached carrying his drink. Juliana saw an immensely tall man withblack curly hair his skin, too, was dark, and his eyes seemed purpleor brown, very softly colored behind his glasses. He wore ahand-tailored, expensive, natural fiber suit, perhaps English woolthe suit augmented his wide robust shoulders with no lines of itsown. For the umpteenth time, Juliana stared in amazement at thestunning figure in front of her and she wondered on the beauty ofthis place. “Some people are incalculably blessed with beauty andelegance,” she thought. Hawthorne offered Juliana a drink, but shedeclined and requested for a cup of tea. She wanted to look modest.She lied that she always enjoyed a cup of tea especially during thenight.
“Do you knowthe oracle?”
“No,”Hawthorne said, as he led her to a corner across the living room.
Surprised, she explained the oracle she was referring to, butHawthorne was not amused. He seemed lost and dispassionate, perhaps,he was tired, thought Juliana. But then, she saw the look on his wifeand felt that he was scared of something. Something uncanny, possiblythe recent situations had scared him to the core, or he was justscared of himself. She remembered what she had read about Hawthornesometimes back and the relationship with his grandmother, and shewondered whether she would extract the truth from him.
“Did you usethe oracle,” Juliana said.
Again, Hawthornestared at her.
“I don’twant you to kid or joke,” Juliana said. “Tell me without makingsomething witty out of it,”
Hawthorne gazeddown, classed his arms around himself, and hissed. All the guests inthe room fell silent, and she noticed that their demeanor hadsuddenly changed. Seemingly, they were not pleased for of what shehad alleged, but she was here to know the ubiquitous truth andnothing would come between her and the truth. The truth was toosignificant to just trash away or ignore that it existed thus, shewas not going to pretend.
Finally,Hawthorne said, “`That`s — a hard question to answer,”
“Julianasnapped, “No it isn’t,”
Now all theguests turned away and tried to concentrate on imagined things as thesituation was getting out of hand.
`I`m sorry,`Abendsen said, `I can`t answer right away. You`ll have to acceptthat.`
`Then why didyou write the book?` Juliana said.
Indicatingwith his drink glass, Abendsen said, `What`s that pin on your dressdo? Ward off dangerous anima-spirits of the immutable world? Or doesit just hold everything together?` `Why do you change the subject?`Juliana said. `Evading what I asked you, and making a pointlessremark like that? It`s childish.`
HawthorneAbendsen said, `Everyone has — technical secrets. You have yours Ihave mine. You should read my book and accept it on face value, justas I accept what I see — ` Again he pointed at her with his glass.`Without inquiring if it`s genuine underneath, there, or done withwires and staves and foam-rubber padding. Isn`t that part of trustingin the nature of people and what you see in general?` He seemed, shethought, irritable and flustered now, no longer polite, no longer ahost. Caroline also had an exasperated look, and the smileJuliana had started to love was all gone, replaced by a tense face.
It was apparentto Juliana that something was really disturbing him and try as muchas might, she was not going to know the truth through this route. Shehad to change tactic.
“Throughoutyour book, you insinuate that there is always a way, an effective,but often a difficult route, which every person should aspire tofollow. You allude that sometimes, man must face his fate with anhonest and strong mind, and desist from aspects that might ruin themind,” Juliana said.
At this junctureHawthorne’s look changed a little bit and he looked at Juliana witha look of hope.
Julianacontinued, “You should either hide or face your fate. Your openhands might prove disastrous in the long run, as there won’t besomebody like me to put an end to the ones who will ride up and showthemselves here. However, you should at least thank me because I slitthe throat of the one who rode up to Denver with me.”
By this time,Hawthorne had become silent and his smile had returned. His wife alsolooked herself again, and Juliana had a deep thought….
“You know, wehave no secrets here, but the secrets must be carried by closemembers,” Hawthorne said.
“What should welearn from The Grasshopper Lies Heavy,” Juliana asked.
Instead ofanswering the question, Hawthorne gave her three Chinse coins andtold her to throw them. When she had thrown the coins eight times, hescrutinized what he had written and said:
`Sun at the top. Tuiat the bottom. Empty in the center.`
`Do you know whathexagram that is?` she said. `Without using the chart?`
`It`s Chung Fu,`Juliana said. `Inner Truth. I know without using the chart, too. AndI know what
With a savageexpression, he snapped, “my book is real, Japan and Germany lostthe damn war,”
Juliana said, “NowI understand,” and she rose to leave.
“I am happy forwhat you did for me, and I pray that I will always remember that yousaved my life,” Hawthorne said.
Juliana smiled,thanked her hosts because of their hospitality, and excused herself.
Outside, theatmosphere had changed, the air was chilly and foggy and she wonderedhow she was going to drive herself all the way to the motel.
She got inside the car and as she started the engine, she feltsomething sharp penetrate her stomach. As she clutched her stomach inpain, she shuddered on the thought of dying in her car. She thoughtof Frank, as well as, what she learned from Hawthorne. “I will notlet death take me.” She tried to reach for the door, but a slenderhand, a woman’s hand caught her back and she felt the blade slicethrough her throat. The woman stayed on the back of the car andstared at Juliana as she choked on her blood, then she wiped theblood off the blade with Juliana’s dress, opened the car’s door,and left, thinking to herself “so much for the truth.”