Wednesday 12 June 2019

How Soon Is Now? Chapter 9: Maggie's Book

Chapter 9: Maggie’s Book


I Can't Let Maggie Go

She makes me laugh, she makes me cry with a twinkle of her eye
She flies like a bird in the sky
She flies like a bird and I wish that she was mine
She flies like a bird, oh me, oh my
I see her sigh
Now I know, I can't let Maggie go

We walk here and we walk there
People stop and people stare
'Cause she flies like a bird in the sky
She flies like a bird and I wish that she was mine
She flies like a bird, oh me, oh my
I see her sigh
Now I know, I can't let Maggie go

Maggie left for work early on Monday morning, I took my laptop and coffee out onto the balcony to do some work. I first checked the news, the BBC reported, Israel had conducted further airstrikes in Syria which were believed to target weapons hidden by Hezbollah. An Iranian drone was shot down over northern Israel and an Israeli Air Force, F-16 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire in retaliatory strikes. Both aircrews ejected and landed safely before the plane crashed near the Harduf kibbutz, the IAF followed up with further strikes against Iranian air defences and Iranian drone-control facilities. Iran, Russia and Syria were demanding Israel be punished by the UN.

A major disaster was brewing in Japan, another 30 more people had died over the weekend from a heat wave that continued to grip the Asian country, raising the death toll to more than 100 since July and the public had been warned to brace for more scorching weather over coming days. The extreme heat which rose to as high as 47 deg C, 117 deg F, in central Japan had caused more than 70,000 people to be sent to hospitals, according to a Kyodo News tally.
I looked across the boulevard toward the beach, it was going to be another scorcher here too.

I opened my emails, six tropical storms had lined up along the East-Asian coastline in a group of weather patterns which resembled something from the film "The Day After Tomorrow," the build-up had started in Japan a few weeks ago when torrential rain killed more than 200, more than 8 million people were advised or urged to evacuate across 23 prefectures, caused by the Super Typhoon Prapiroon. The floods were followed by the deadly heatwave killing a further 100.
Yesterday Vietnam news declared tropical storm Son Tinh had killed 20 people, left another 16 missing and injured 14.
Floods triggered by heavy rains hit northern Vietnam after Son Tinh made landfall in northern coastal areas this week while the capital Hanoi was flooded and lashed by torrential rains. More than 50,000 houses were damaged, swept away, submerged or collapsed and around 182,000 hectares of crops were damaged and nearly 117,000 animals were killed nationwide, the Vietnam National Committee for Search and Rescue said in a report. Storm Ampil had caused 200,000 people to be evacuated as the typhoon battered Shanghai with damaging gusts of winds and torrential rain.

According to Greek media, another 24 bodies had been found near the Argyri Akti beach, in Mati, east of Athens, bringing the death toll from the wildfires to 50. Apparently, the bodies were found embracing each other. They were trying to find a way toward the relative safety of the sea when the unfortunate people became cut-off. Among the dead were children. Dozens of cars were burned nearby. Another sixty-nine victims had been hospitalised.

South Korea was the latest country to join the global heat wave.
South Korea's highest-ever morning low was recorded in the city of Gangneung, where the temperature was 31°C at 6.45am. The morning low in Seoul was 29.2° C, a record for the country's capital, according to South Korea's weather agency. The mercury hit 40 deg°C (104 deg F) in the south-eastern town of Hayang, the highest temperature in the country so far this year.

The algae bloom problem had intensified as hundreds of sea turtles washed up dead on Southwestern Florida beaches last week in a mass mortality event that researchers say will impact the recovery of the protected species. "Our average for the entire year is usually around 30 or 35, but we've had 53 in one week and alone," said a sea turtle researcher at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation on Sanibel. The foundation had picked up 491 sea turtles on the islands.

Peruvians were said to be struggling to cope with avalanches, mudslides and extensive flash flooding caused by torrential downpours, with forecasters predicting still more rain ahead, prolonging the country's woes. It had been a bad year for flooding in Peru, and the death toll including the latest disaster, now stands at 375 since January, the government said. Devastating damage reports continue to pour in. The National Emergency Operations Center said more than 100,000 Peruvians had lost everything since the beginning of the year, while 626,928 had suffered serious damage to their homes. The government predicted days of more rain ahead.

My phone rang, "answer," I snapped, a 30 cm hologram of Maggie's beautiful head appeared, smiling.
"Hello darling, how are you, I am missing you today honey," she said smiling.
"I'm missing you to honey," I said.
"I'm calling you Cooper because my publisher called today, tomorrow, I have to go to see him and I wondered if you wanted to come too," Maggie asked?.
"I would love to, where is his office," I asked?
"New York," answered Maggie.
"Haha, sure I want to come," I laughed, "I would love to."
"Ok, I will tell my publisher to book two tickets,"
"I hope we have more luck than we had in Paris," I said.
"Actually we were the luckiest people in the world, that night in Paris," Maggie laughed.
"Yeah, I guess we did dodge a bullet or two," I answered.
"Ok, honey, I will see you tonight, goodbye," she said.
"Goodbye Maggie," I said and her smiling face was gone.
I sat there on the balcony smiling and thinking to myself, that our relationship was blossoming into something really special, my love for Maggie went so deep into my heart, I had to pinch myself sometimes to remind myself I wasn't dreaming.

I wondered downstairs onto the boulevard and took a stroll along the restaurants and shops, the temperature was in the mid 30's C, almost a hundred deg F so I did my best to stay in the shade. My hair was bleaching in the sun and my face, arms and legs had turned a lovely deep brown from my walks along the beach with Maggie. Suddenly an ambulance appeared on the beach, sirens wailing and stopped close to a crowd of people, two paramedics jumped out of the ambulance and began administering a bather lying on the sand, within minutes the man was placed on a stretcher and lifted into the back of the ambulance. I walked over to the crowd and asked a woman what had happened. 
"He was bitten by a shark," she answered.
"Wow, another one, didn't two girls get bitten here by a shark at the weekend," I asked?
"Yes, two girls, by a blue shark," she said.
"Thousands of miles from home," I muttered.
"What did you say," asked the woman.
"Oh nothing, it's ok, thanks," I said.

Maggie arrived home late with her hands full of shopping bags and two pizza boxes, "I have dinner for two," she announced smiling.
I opened a bottle of red wine and asked Maggie what was in the shopping bags.
She kissed me and said, "clothes my darling, for New York, I have been promised a fat advance on my book," she kissed me again and laughing in her infectious way.
"Define fat," I asked mischievously.
"Oh, around 100,000 Euros," she said, pretending to look uninterested.
"What!" I asked, incredulously.
"I could have had much more but I want to wait until it becomes a best seller, according to my publisher," said Maggie.
"Tonight we will have pizza and tomorrow night we can celebrate in Manhatten," she said with a large smile on her face.

After the pizza, we sat on the balcony sipping wine huddled up together, she looked into my eyes and said, "can we get married in October, in Amsterdam?"
"Of course we can, if that's what you want," I said?
"Do you think this Israel Iran war thing will escalate," she asked, earnestly?
"It's hard to say Maggie, darling, it could," I said sadly.
"Confrontation between Israel and Iran is not a normal political crisis like England and Argentina fighting for a group of islands, for example, rather it is a Biblically based, prophetic crisis," said Maggie.
"What does the Bible say," I asked.
Maggie went on, "in Ezekial 38-39 the Bible warns us of a war to come when a coalition of Iran (Persia back then), Russia, (Magog), Turkey, Libya, and Sudan will attack and will invade Israel and this will happen after Israel becomes a nation again, which as we know happened in 1948," she explained.
"So far, this prophecy has not taken place," said Maggie.
"So this is a disaster we can depend on," I said.
"Yes, dear," she said.
"Many think if Iran invades Israel they will come through Syria," I said.
"Which could involve another prophecy, Isaiah 17:1, claims the oldest city in the world, and one which has never been destroyed, Damascus, will cease to be a city and in turn will become a heap of ruins," explained Maggie.
"It's a ruin now," I said, "after the rebel war."
"Well the southern part of the city is still alive and kicking and still home to more than a million people," Maggie said.
"That's true, I said.
"What time is the flight tomorrow," I asked.
"We have to check in around ten am, the flight leaves at twelve thirty pm, we will land at JFK at 3 pm, New York time," explained Maggie.
"Time for bed then," I said.
"Yes, time for some shut eye," said Maggie

The next morning we took a driverless taxi to Schiphol Amsterdam arriving with plenty of time to check in and board, it was hot in Amsterdam but even hotter in New York so we travelled in shorts and T-shirts. Maggie looked wonderful in a pair of denim shorts and a white T-shirt, her hair hung loose and her dark tan accentuated her white smile and beautiful green eyes.

Schiphol was as busy as always, with people rushing to and throw checking departure times or arrivals. After we had checked in we sat in a bar and took time to drink a cold beer. The tv monitor was tuned into the BBC News channel, another powerful typhoon was heading for Japan after one of the countries deadliest months ever when more than 300 people died and more than 70,000 hospitalised from floods and a crippling heatwave. Typhoon Jakuri was packing winds of up to 180 kilometres (110 miles) an hour and was forecast to make landfall on the country's main island tonight, according to Japan's Meteorological Agency. Authorities have issued evacuation orders to western areas still devastated by floods and landslides. According to the storm was expected to barrel towards the western Chugoku region where record rainfall earlier this month unleashed flooding and landslides, killing around 220 people and leaving more than 4,000 survivors still living in temporary shelters.

Maggie was chatting to a woman next to her, I took a large swallow of my beer.
The BBC moved on to the next story, ten people were now known to be dead, two of them children with 27 missing and tens of thousands evacuated as the "Train Fire" destroyed 84,000 acres (34,000 hectares) of land an area three times bigger than the city of San Francisco. The fire was inevitably being fed by strong winds and only 2% of the blaze was contained. The blaze was one of about a dozen major wildfires burning across California on Saturday and of nearly 90 overall from Texas to Oregon. According to Reuters, the fires which were driven by gale-force winds had exploded into a firestorm that leapt the Sacramento River and engulfed whole neighbourhoods in and around Redding, sending thousands of people fleeing for their lives in a chaotic evacuation. Some 1500 structures were destroyed, and 38,000 people remained under evacuation orders according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 

Four women had now gathered around Maggie, the BBC still hadn't mentioned the Iran Israel conflict, maybe I had missed it. The BBC moved on, after an unprecedented two-month drought with the hottest temperatures on record, most of the UK now witnessed its wettest day ever yesterday and today was set to be even worse as the Met Office warned that today will only get worse, with gale-force winds and heavy rain. Two months of rain had fallen in parts yesterday causing chaos. The UK was braced for more than 36 hours of torrential downpour, according to the Met Office.

A group of six women had now joined Maggie and were threatening to turn the bar into a party, I couldn't hear the news for the laughing and excited chatter so I moved closer to the TV. Ten people had been killed and more than 120,000 had been forced to flee their homes after days of heavy monsoon rains flooded villages in central and southern Myanmar, according to government officials.
The Burmese National Disaster Management Committee had urged residents near river banks and low-lying areas to move to higher ground after floods shut down roads and submerged villages, leaving communities stranded. As of Tuesday, more than 120,000 people across five provinces had been displaced by rising waters, with Magway Region in central Myanmar particularly hardest hit, with more than 70,000 affected, said Min Thein, director of Myanmar's Department of Disaster Management.

I finished my beer, Maggie was no were to be seen, the entire group had vanished into thin air, I looked around, nothing, twenty minutes and one beer later, I heard loud laughing, Maggie and her friends came out of the Channel shop, they were smelling each other and laughing and obviously having the time of their lives, I watched them, transfixed and I too burst into laughter.
"Ladies, may I have my fiancee back, we have a flight to catch," I said.
"Can't you get the next one," somebody suggested and they all burst into laughter again,
Maggie smiled grabbed my arm and said goodbye to the girls. 
"Do you know them," I asked Maggie.
"I sure do, they all work at the University and are heading off to Spain for their annual holidays," said Maggie.
"Well, I hope someone has warned Spain they are coming," I laughed.
Maggie giggled.

We boarded the KML flight and to my surprise, we were taken to business class, something new to me.

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