Just Imagine

You’ve read The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges, right? Well, if not, you’re in for a treat.  And whether you’ve read it or not, you probably didn’t know that he based the book on stories I shared with him.  Jorge and I were tight, almost best friends. I met him in a bar in Poland.  He was there on a lecture circuit tour and had slipped away from the crowds to this little dive bar for a few stiff ones.  I was in Poland for a sentencing hearing, thanks to a thin, loud-mouthed little woman named Apolonia Lukaszewski who gave me up to the Polish Milicja Obywatelska, the ‘citizens’ militia’ (it was a while ago, which is why you don’t know about them…hardly anyone does).  They promised her immunity from prosecution if she’d tell them where I kept my stash of hashish. Well, my little liaison with Apolonia is neither here nor there; we were talking about Jorge.

Anyway, Jorge and I sat in this bar for a long time, maybe nine hours, putting away bottle after bottle of premium stuff.  He was on an expense account, courtesy of a deal between his agent and the Polish government, so he picked up the tab.  He was blind, as you know, so he asked me to calculate the tip.  After we closed out the bill, he suggested we visit Switzerland, where he spent his teen and early adult years.  Again thanks to the government deal, he had access to a private jet, which he allowed me to fly.  Though he had a pilot’s license, he was always uncomfortable flying the thing because of his blindness; I was not seeing straight that night, but I was able to get us out of Poland, though I missed Switzerland. We left Warsaw about daybreak and landed at a private airfield near a forest north of Barcelona.

While we sat at the airfield restaurant having breakfast, I had a minor psychotic episode, during which I had animated conversations with the creatures that came out of the adjacent forest, characters Jorge later wrote about in The Book of Imaginary Beings. While I spoke to Jorge, I explained all about these creatures.  We were rousted by the Cuerpo Nacional de Policía, but fortunately they did not discover until later that I was wanted by the Milicja Obywatelska; I doubt they would have turned me over, even if they had known. Much later, he verified everything I told him through extensive research. But it was my psychoses that put him on the path.

I could tell you so much more about Jorge Luis Borges.  But I won’t. You don’t even believe what I’ve told you thus far, do you?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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