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adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine—of these four building blocks, or nucleotides, all living things are made, from sponges to orang-utans, viruses to flamingos, a, c, g, and t (plus u, on occasion, standing for uracil) form strings, each length, each sequence representing a novel particle of life. To know one’s personal genome, which few of us do, is to know oneself—on a molecular level. Substitute 'spiritual' for molecular and the truth takes on new meaning. Minds in tune with our planet’s interrelatedness understand molecules. Where knowledge is respected and science seen as a means, spirituality soars. Un-contradicted by genius, it uplifts, it sheds the dead weight of our ignorance and wings us toward the Light. Here, where prayer wheels get a helping hand from the wind, where skies are perhaps less laden with layers of contamination, faith and thought, like breathing in and out, are the selfsame phenomenon.

I have reached an impasse, a stalemate in my match of success versus failure. At last I know his name; alas his trail full-stops. As with my many requests for medical records—"file incomplete, lost to follow up"—academic records have not been forthcoming. Transcripts cannot be released, not even to "next of kin"—the ploy that I have used to uncover information. Yet underneath this apparent respect for privacy, I sense a secret, possibly a scandal. The hospital and the university, in this regard, are co-conspirators.

And he who compromised both?

One "Stuyvesant Fink."

 

Nana stows her journal in the snow leopard’s gaping jaws, then stares at the mute expression on its taxidermic face, capturing the beast's outrage, no doubt, at being poached, gutted, and skinned, then sold to the highest bidder—invariably the Prince, whose penchant for pelts (be they rare, endangered, or extinct) lends his Palace a Natural History Museum aura, enlivened further by hides collected from those who are still making use of them: Nana, Hermione, Sophie & Sophia, Fatima, Alicia, Jude, and Dominique, the 'complexions in residence,' a menagerie based on melanin (or lack thereof, in Jude’s case), each of the human occupants embodying coloration that might be judged the epitome of each respective race. Add to these cosmetic attributes sexual anomalies or proclivities, and the feast of flesh on exhibit would corrupt a Buddhist priest—of which there are many, in the vicinity, if none on the premises. Temples dot the landscape hither and yon. Goings-on at the Palace, however, never are exposed to the culture outside—a stipulation honored by the Prince to maintain his (and his harem’s) semi-conditional tolerance.

Nana, still entranced by the cat's arrested snarl, entertains the prospect of becoming a rug herself, something to be trod upon, something to be laid face down or face up, depending upon which posture the Prince might want preserved.

Slipping from her smock, Nana sprawls naked on the leopard’s spotted fur, arms and legs outstretched, fingers and toes impersonating the predator's stock-still claws, her rudimentary scrotum aligned with the cat's lengthy tail, breasts and belly pressed to the animal’s absent spine, chin propped up on its head (skull retained), ears on level with ears, likewise perked, on alert for heedless footfall (hooves compacting snow, perchance), nostrils jutting over nostrils, flared to catch a scent (of bharal, yak, or takin, either young, infirm, or old), muscles tense on muscles-nonexistent; whiskers-nonexistent over whiskers rendered stiff, Nana, of a sudden, made aware, by dint of proxy, that 'prey' may have strayed too near.

Up on all fours, crouching, poised to pounce, she stifles an avid growl—mind’s eye fixed on her unsuspecting quarry.

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