The Heist (Part 8)

Through the night something happened. I experienced something kind of like a dream. That is a miserably insufficient way to categorise it, but I don’t know what else I might call it. I went somewhere; I know I did, I’m just not sure if it happened in the physical sense. To convey what happened with any great accuracy will be impossible. This is in part because there were some things that I heard and saw that have no earthly comparison, but mostly because human language is wholly inadequate to describe the rest. Please bear in mind that my account of the events will be like calling the Grand Canyon a large hole in the ground. Nevertheless, here is my feeble testimony:

I emerged from a haze into the midst of a scene. It took me a while to gather my senses, and at first I could make nothing of my surroundings but the presence of a multitude, and the sensation of slowly moving forward. As the scene became vivid and tangible, I saw I was in the midst of an enormous crowd, and we were all walking in one direction. There were forms and faces all about me, some clearer than others, but I recognised none of them. The crowd’s movement slowed to a halt and we were pressed together, not uncomfortably, but neither with much room between persons. It was whispered through the crowd that we had reached our destination, and had joined those who were expecting us. I stood as tall as I could and saw that my crowd had been added to an even greater one—more people than I have ever seen or could imagine—and now this innumerable gathering was complete. We stood and waited.

After a while there was movement again: not the movement of travel, as it had seemed before, but a movement of separation. While I, along with many others, remained stationary, people began pressing, almost gliding, past me and heading away to my left. It felt like when you stand in shallow water at the beach, and a receding wave washes the sand from around your feet. You feel the pull of the water, but your feet remain planted. I noticed then that every one of us in the crowd was facing the same way. The current of people continued, a vast drawing out of some from among the others. I remained still. Apparently, whatever we were waiting for could not happen until the crowd had been divided.

I felt someone press hard up against my right side, and turned to see what was happening. There, in the form of a framed self-portrait, was Vincent van Gogh. His intent stare penetrated my eyes and drilled through my mind. He leaned right in against my face and whispered gravely, “Hold onto this. Don’t let anyone see it. Don’t let it go,” as he pressed a small, rubbery item into my hand. With that, he departed to my left, weaving like a leaf upon a stream. Soon he was out of my sight and had gone to join the others who were forming their own group, separate from the stationary souls in the crowd. As covertly as possible I glanced at the object in hand. It was a severed ear. Since van Gogh had seemed like a trustworthy guy, and no one else there had spoken to me or given me any advice, I held onto the ear tightly.



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