WHITE ON WHITE. 12-13-10
Robert R. Rosten was brought up in Folkstone, England, which is on the south east coast and is a few miles south of Dover, England. His parent’s house had a view of the – yes – the English Channel.
He had a pleasant childhood and he always remembers, fondly, hiking along the top of the famous white cliffs almost year round. In the summer he and his friends would clamber down some of them and search out isolated beaches for swimming parties.
One day he hung back when they’d gotten about half way along a path that ran down the cliff to watch some seagulls quarrelling over a half dead fledgling of some kind and his friends left him behind. When the prize was caught up by the biggest gull, which then flew away with it hanging from both sides of its beak, he found that that none of his friends were in sight and so, to catch up, he took a risky short cut and he stumbled upon a hidden cave that he knew immediately was special and he took careful bearings so that he would be able to find it again.
He told no one about his discovery because he wanted to explore it thoroughly on his own before sharing it and when he got around to visiting it he was happy about his decision because what he found there made him decide to keep its location to himself.
He’d been delighted with the ambiance inside the cave – the chalk floor and the walls and the roof were all pure white and, an added bonus, it had a wide opening and the main part was angled just right so that for nearly a half hour every morning the sun shone in directly and made everything dazzlingly bright.
After a few visits he began to realize that something more was needed and so he started bringing various items that he’d found, mundane things but with bright colors, and he’d arrange them around the cave and the contrast with the white surroundings was startling and arresting. They leaped out at him somehow and took on an ethereal presence that challenged conventional dimensions and perception. He literally could not stop staring at his most successful arrangements and would be held prisoner by them until the sun shifted enough to release him.
When he was happy with an arrangement that he’d come up with, mostly by trial and error, he’d leave it as it was and start in on a new one and gradually the full impact on every subsequent visit, when the sun had reached the right angle, was, to say the least, striking and, to say the truth, enthralling although that word is seldom used because it’s so rarely called for.
A few days after his eighteenth birthday an aunt and uncle, along with their daughter, came to spend their vacation with his parents and his cousin proved to be such fun to be with that he took her to all of his favorite beaches and fishing spots and, to make sure that she had a good time every evening, he took her to discos and movies and they did a lot of hanging out at the liveliest places all of which pleased her no end because her home was in a dull, drab town up north.
He liked her so much that on the fourth day of her holiday day he decided that she would be the first person ever that he’d take to see his secret cave.
She was enchanted with it because he had, of course, timed their arrival so that they got there just before the sun triggered it into giving its dazzling performance and, although he knew it was very special, he hadn’t dare to so much as hope for what happened next.
They stood side by side and, absorbed by the wonder of it and wanting reassurance, after a minute or two she searched out his hand and when he looked at her face he saw that it was aglow with a kind of inner light which added to the already attractively tanned sheen of youth and health and beauty on it. He couldn’t help but reach out with his free hand to touch her face and when he did so she grabbed it and turned and closed up so that she could kiss him full on the mouth.
He reciprocated appropriately and was pleased and surprised with the amount of enthusiasm that she put into it and then he got to understand that she was either enchanted or mesmerized, or some such, because, when she could free up her tongue, she whispered, as if in church, “Come, let’s take our clothes off because they don’t meld with the simplicity and the purity that’s in this magical place.”
For him, she didn’t have to say it twice and so, without exchanging another word, they took off their t-shirts and shorts and sandals and it was immediately obvious that she was right because their nakedness blended beautifully with the overall affect and they kept basking and looking and absorbing until the sun moved on and deserted the cave.
After that had happened they felt bemused and bereft and so – in an attempt to regain and recall some of the splendor that they’d lost – they closed and kissed again and did some touching and that, as you’d expect, led to their making love and it worked wonderfully well for them both in that by making them rise to a climax and then come down on the other side their senses were allowed recapture the wonder for a moment and then ease off slowly until post-coital angst saw to it that they returned to a state of near normalcy.
On their way home they had to stay aware of where they were putting their feet on the steep path and so they couldn’t talk much but when they’d found a quiet spot in a pub, and had glasses of local ale in front of them, they held hands under the table and they agreed that they didn’t nor shouldn’t feel guilt nor shame over what they’d done because it had clearly been way out of their control due to the master spell that the enchanted cave had cast over them.
The last of his misgivings evaporated when she whispered, “Can we please go up there again tomorrow and get overwhelmed again?”
He’d stopped going to church services when his mother had told him, when he got to be fourteen, that it was optional from then on and no longer mandatory and he hadn’t prayed since then but he did a lot of it that night and the prayers were all directed towards making the clouds stay away from the skies of the south east of England for at least one day but also, “If it so please you, God,” for ten more days after that.
All through his cousin’s extended vacation they returned every day to the magical cave and his prayers were answered because the sun showed up on time every time and made the same thing happen and they were both very sad indeed when she had to go home.
Over the years, Robert took other girls to his cave but only the ones that he really liked – in an attempt to stick with established precedent and avoid confusing and perhaps, perish the thought, thwarting the powers that be – and the sun and the cave combined to work their magic on every one of them.
After College Robert went to a prestigious Medical School and then he went on to specialize in Brain-Surgery because his professors and instructors had recognized that he was both bright enough and had a definite flair for that field, along with rare expertise, and he quickly earned a reputation as being a very good at it.
When he was senior enough he broke with convention and insisted that the walls and the doors of his operating theater had to be painted semi-gloss white and that the ceiling and the floor tiles were white too and that the green scrubs that are standard wear in operating rooms everywhere be changed for white ones for him and his anesthesiologist and for the other specialists and for all of his assistants and his nurses and for anyone and everyone else in the room.
He also insisted, to everyone’s puzzlement, on arranging some red fire extinguishers and green oxygen tanks and locked, blue instrument cases (that he supplied himself) around the room and when the big arc lamps were switched on everything was flooded with light and he would feel a stirring within him that never failed to drive him to the height of his powers and abilities.
His reputation grew and a year or so after setting up his unique working environment he found that he couldn’t possibly accept all of the patients from around the world who petitioned for his services – he was allowed a large amount of leeway with selecting his patients although the hospital authorities forced him to accept Kings and Princes and Heads of State and film stars and the very rich in general and his qualms were ameliorated somewhat when he saw the huge amounts that they were billed and that they paid without protest – nor could he even begin to find employment for all of the Specialists and the various Technical Experts and fellow Surgeons who clamored to work for and with him who then, failing that, asked to be allowed to ‘attend and observe.’
In the interest of fairness, he decided to keep a roster and he wrote the names down, in the order that they were received, in a standard notebook. He allowed four observers to come to his OR every time that he did surgery and he crossed off their names when it got to be time to add new ones to the list.
One day, a few months after setting up the roster, he realized that it was getting to be overly cumbersome and so he decided to transfer the names to a computer and as he was doing so he lucked out on finding a program that he could easily adapt to make it simple for him to bring up and enter details about each applicant’s background, and field of expertise and experience, and etc, and it also ‘aided’ him by automatically separating the males and females and thus it made two lists instead of one.
When he’d finished transferring all of the names into the computer he saw that the totals, on the two lists, were exactly equal and he marveled at the coincidence and he marveled a lot more when he saw, over the following months and years, that the two lists kept declining and advancing in lockstep.
His wife – who had been one of his OR nurses and who, consequently, knew him very well – made sure that she was in the immediate vicinity and was available to him at the end of every operation.
She did so faithfully and was far from having to be coerced into doing so and theirs was a happy marriage whose base was fundamentally sound because he usually did two operations every weekday and, sometimes when there was an emergency or if a big back-log had piled up, on Saturdays and Sundays too.