One of Daniel’s favorite past times when he was in town was to prowl through second-hand stores in search of treasures no one else wanted. Becoming lost in the leavings of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people gave an edge to his perspective of the world about him.
Today it would be Maggie’s Thrift Shop on Chestnut Street near Leavenworth in the Russian Hill district. It was an upscale San Francisco junk shop owned by a beautiful, well breed, elderly, and somewhat mysterious woman of European extraction, whose means were somewhat dubious, all of which Daniel found intriguing and, shall we say, nefariously attractive.
He concocted any number of fantastic scenarios of her adventures and intrigues in world affairs, traveling throughout Europe and the Middle East escorted by a barrage of handsome lovers all intent on capturing her carefree affections which she flaunted in an effort to cover her real purpose as an international double agent femme fatale who loved pizza, ice cream, and her puppy, George.
Her shop was sure to hold the unique treasure he was looking for. He had no idea what it would be but that was half the fun, half the challenge, half the reward of digging through stuff no one wanted any longer. He knew only too well that people threw things away without knowing their true value. It was his hobby to find those treasures and enjoy them, displaying them so others might also enjoy them.
Maggie’s is two stories of unbelievable junk crammed into every available nook and cranny. Daniel had been going there long enough to be on a first-name basis with the owner, Margarette Sandborn, who, Daniel was to discover, did indeed have a past.
No, they were on more than a first name basis. They had become unlikely friends. Maggie spoke four languages. It was the English language that gave her the most trouble. She often groaned to Daniel on how anyone ever learned the language. He agreed with her and laughed. “It’s my mother tongue and even I don’t understand all of it.”
One afternoon, when Maggie was about to close the store, she asked Daniel to stay and join her for tea in her living quarters at the rear of the building. He accepted.
He was stunned as he entered her living room. The walls were covered with treasures he only read about. The one painting that caught his eye was the full-length portrait of an elegant woman in a beautiful turn of the century evening gown.
“Ah, you recognize this?” Maggie commented as she brought tea into the room.
“It looks like a Boldini.”
“It is indeed. How clever of you,” Maggie smiled with pleasure as she arranged the table.
“I studied art in college and know his work but I don’t recall ever seeing this painting. It is quite delightful. The bearing of this lady suggests theatrical training. A dramatic actress perhaps with the opera or musical comedy. Do you know her? It couldn’t be more perfect.”
“No one has ever seen it except you and me and a few close friends.”
“Really?” Daniel turned and looked at Maggie.
“It’s a portrait of my mother,” Maggie smiled with satisfaction.
“Yes, of course. The resemblance is there. I thought it looked familiar.”
“Boldini painted this portrait a few years before he passed away in 1931 I think it was. When the war came and the Germans were approaching Paris, we hide it away in the attic of the apartment building we lived in and cleverly concealed the entrance. After the war ended I eventually came back to Paris with hopes of finding it.”
“Your mother was a truly beautiful woman,” Daniel turned and gazed at the painting again, “as you are.”
“Thank you, Daniel. You are most kind. The painting is for my old age retirement if you will. When I’m ready, I will advise various museums and they will go crazy trying to obtain it for their collection. Come, sit down. All is ready.”
“The only reason I recognized it as a Boldini is because of a quote I read years ago. It was said that Boldini was the master of swish.”
“Master of what?”
“Swish. His flowing brush strokes. Look at the flowing lines of your mother’s gown.”
“Yes, of course. He is famous for it. I did not know it was called swish,” she chuckled to herself.
Daniel seated himself and admired the offerings before him. “Thanks, Maggie, it was good of you . . .” Daniel stopped as Maggie reached across the table and poured hot water into his cup. The number tattooed on her forearm immediately revealed her European past.
Maggie saw the astonished look on his face and withdrew her arm when the cup was full. She set the tea kettle down and casually covered her arm with her shawl. She smiled. “It is nothing.”
“I would say that it is definitely something unless you prefer not to speak of it,” Daniel smiled sympathetically as he stirred a tea bag into the hot water in his cup.
“It was a long time ago, and not worth remembering,” she sipped her tea. “But since you’ve seen it, I will tell you a little to satisfy your curiosity.”
“No no, that isn’t necessary.”
“But it is necessary,” she pushed a plate of scones within Daniel’s reach. “Here, help yourself. I made them this morning.”
Daniel’s expression changed to one of delight at the prospect of the delicacy. “Maggie, what a treat.” He placed a scone on his plate and reached for the butter plate. He paused and grinned at his hostess, “Did you make the butter also?”
She laughed. “No, I didn’t but I know how. Some fresh cream in the churn for a few hours, lots of elbow grease and voila – butter, and buttermilk for breakfast pancakes. A little sea salt with the butter and – perfection.” The smile on her face faded, “After I escaped, I lived on a farm for a while where we did everything. Grocery stores did not exist in those days.”
“Escaped? From where?” David asked hesitantly.
A half hour later Daniel sighed and looked at his friend, “You were actually involved in the uprising?” Daniel was astonished.
“Oh yes, I was indeed.”
“I can’t imagine the fear you experienced.”
“There was no time for fear, only to live and to escape. If it hadn’t been for the Russian officers who were captured and put in with us we never would have escaped and would surely have perished in that place. They plotted the escape, arranged everything. Everyone had a job, even me.”
Daniel looked at Maggie in admiration. He was afraid to ask for more.
“I was seventeen and determined not to die in that horrible place. Officially I’m dead. Those of us who survived the escape scattered in all directions. I was taken in by a local farmer and his wife, where I learned survival skills and how to cook. They knew what was going on. When they discovered me hiding in their barn, they took me in as one of their own. They helped me get to Denmark where I found a position as au pair with a French family who had escaped from Paris before the Nazis arrived.”
“When the war ended we went back to Paris. Like my mother, I had a beautiful singing voice and found work at the Opéra de Paris.”
“But you didn’t stay. Why?”
“I searched and searched for my family but they were gone. No one survived except me. I had no roots to fall back on. I wanted to put the past behind me. I was tempted to go to Israel but decided on the United States instead.” She sipped her tea, “Before I left Paris, I went to find this painting. It was the only connection I had with my past.”
“The apartment building I lived in was still there and seemed untouched by the war. The old concierge recognized me and was very kind. She told me the Germans had ransacked all the apartments and taken everything of value. Nothing remained. When my family did not return, the apartment was rented. I told her about the painting and where it was hidden. Her eyes lit up with surprise and the joy that it may have survived. We went to the attic to determine its fate. The little string that showed through the wooden wall slats had not been touched. It was the trigger for the secret door. I pulled the string and held my breath. Nothing happened. I pulled it again and the door popped open. And there it was. My heart leapt when I saw the package just as we had left it. And, here I am,” Maggie laughed. “Here, have another scone. Aren’t they delicious?”
“They are remarkable.”
“It’s a recipe the farmer’s wife taught me and I never forgot.”
“Did you find happiness here?” Daniel smiled hopefully at his beautiful friend.
“Oh yes, I did. Soon after arriving in the United States I met Otto Sandborn. He was so beautiful and so much in love with me, I could not say no when he asked me to marry him.”
“But you said you were officially dead.”
“Yes, that is true. So many of the prisoners at the camp were killed when they rushed out. There were land mines everywhere. I was one of the last to leave. It was horrible, stepping over the bodies of my friends, but the drive to freedom was overwhelming.”
“After the war, they tried to complete the files of that hell hole. I was long gone by that time so they just assumed I was dead.”
“My name used to be Maggierude Poppert-Schonborn.” She could see Daniel was disturbed, “It was a long time ago, Daniel. It no longer matters,” she smiled and reached across the table and placed her hand on his to comfort him.
They discussed art and the intricacies of the English language for another hour after which Daniel arose and walked with Maggie to the front of the store. “Oh, my rug! I found this upstairs and wish to take it with me.”
“Ah, the magic carpet,” Maggie grinned.
“The magic what?” Daniel wasn’t sure he heard her correctly.
“Carpet. It’s a magic flying carpet.” she saw Daniel’s expression of surprise and laughed. “That’s what I was told when it came into my possession in Paris. The dark skinned man who gave it to me spoke Arabic and broken French with such authority on the subject, I could not help but believe him. He said only a very special person will be able to make it fly. I guess I wasn’t special enough,” she laughed. “Perhaps you are.”
“Perhaps,” Daniel smiled, “How much do I owe you?”
“Oh, no, it is yours.”
“But, I can’t . . .”
“Yes, you can,” Maggie insisted. “You must. It was given to me and the man told me it would be bad luck to sell it. He said when someone asked for it, give it to them. So, it’s yours. But let me know if you get it to fly.” She patted the folded rug as they laughed.
“Thank you, Maggie. I shall treasure it. And I promise never to sell it. I just hope no one asks me for it.” He kissed Maggie on the cheek, hoisted the carpet onto his shoulder and left the shop.
He stood back after spreading the carpet on his living room floor. The intricate design and brilliant colors surprised him. The texture of the pile looked and felt like the finest silk. He wondered why Maggie chose not to use it in her living quarters.
Rather than run a vacuum cleaner over the surface, he cleared years of dust with the use of a gentler hand vacuum.
The design began to shine. Daniel was so pleased with the result he went to the cupboard and brought out the spray carpet cleaner. A light mist of the cleaner and a gentle brushing perked up the nap. With each cleaning step, the carpet took on a new and lovelier appearance. Daniel even imagined it glowed.
He stood back when he had finished his home-restorative and decided the rug would hang on a wall. But which wall? He wanted his guests to see this treasure, ever mindful that he would have to give it up if someone asked for it. He laughed to himself at the thought and decided he would lie if anyone asked him.
He could not get over how beautiful the carpet looked now that it had been freshened. He knelt down and ran his fingers through the silken pile, then sat back on his haunches admiring his newly acquired treasure, until he yawned. It was late. He would decide tomorrow where to hang it.
Dawn had already broken when he opened his eyes. He remembered the carpet as he stretched and threw back his bed covers. As he stepped out of bed his feet retracted with a jerk when they touched the floor. Daniel looked down and was startled to see his carpet lying next to his bed. He did not remember bringing it into the bedroom. Perhaps he had and forgot. He had been very sleepy the night before.
He stepped barefoot onto the carpet and stood up, “Ok, Mr. Magic Carpet. Tell me how you got in here.” He went into the bathroom to get ready for the day. When he stepped into the bedroom he stopped in his tracks. The carpet was gone.
He rushed to the living room and stopped again. The carpet was just as he thought he had left it the night before. He shook his head and rubbed his face. Was he dreaming?
He walked on the carpet and examined it from all angles, concluding it was a dream. He walked into the kitchen to prepare his breakfast.
He mused of the dream he had in a sing-song manner. “Mr. Carpet, can you fly? If you can, please fly to me. And take me to a wonderland.”
As he buttered a piece of toast he looked up and dropped the toast. The knife he held slipped from his fingers and clattered onto the table top. “Holy mother of God,” was all he could say as he watched his rolled up carpet treasure float through the kitchen door. It settled on the floor and unrolled next to him. He froze as he stared at the specter. He had not been dreaming after all. The carpet looked more alive and beautiful than he remembered. Finally, he arose and cautiously stepped onto the carpet, hurrying across to the other side of the room where his cell phone was charging.
“Maggie. I think you better get over here as quickly as possible. It’s the carpet. I’ll explain when you get here.” He laid his phone down and stood wondering what he should do.
He felt a little foolish but decided to talk to the carpet, “Mr. Carpet. Would you please go into the living room and stay there.” He held his breath. The carpet rolled itself up and floated into the living room. “Jesus H. Christ, what is going on?” He went back to the kitchen table and tried to finish his breakfast but his appetite had vanished. Thank God, Maggie would be here soon.
When the doorbell rang, Daniel practically flew to the door, “Maggie, thank you for coming.”
“What is it? You sounded so funny over the phone.” She looked past Daniel. “Oh, how beautiful,” she walked into the living room. “I’d almost forgotten how beautiful it is. You did a splendid job of cleaning it. I’m afraid I lost interest in it a long time ago.” She turned to Daniel, “Is this why you called me?”
“No. Please follow me.” They walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table. Maggie watched him, wondering what he was up to.
Daniel looked intently at Maggie, “Watch.” He turned his head toward the kitchen door, “Mr. Carpet, please come here.”
Maggie laughed, “What in the world are you do . .?” her words caught in her throat as the rolled carpet floated into the room and unrolled in front of them. She gripped the chair she was sitting in and looked slack-jawed at Daniel.
“I know. That’s exactly how I felt when it first happened to me.” He smiled at his friend, “Now what am I supposed to do?”
Maggie began to laugh, “I haven’t the faintest idea. Have you tried riding it?”
“It’s obviously going to take orders from you, and it’s a flying carpet for God’s sake. What else will you do with it?”
“I was thinking of placing it on a wall.” Before his words finished, the carpet floated off of the floor and positioned itself on the kitchen wall.
Maggie threw him a curious glance. “It’s you I’m more interested in than the carpet. I owned it for half a century and never once did it wiggle for me. Now you come along and voila, it’s all over the place.”
“I don’t know, Maggie. I’m no different than I was yesterday – I don’t think.” Daniel looked at the carpet hovering on the wall. “Mr. Carpet, please lay on the floor.” Obediently the carpet floated to the floor and settled down. “Maggie?”
“You must take a ride on it and see what it will do?”
Daniel chuckled, “You have to be kidding? They will lock me up if they see me riding that thing.”
“Perhaps, but only if they can catch you,” Maggie smiled at the astonished Daniel.
“I won’t do it alone.”
“Of course not, I’ll be standing by. Once you get the feeling for controlling it, you won’t need me.”
“Stand by, my foot. You’re going to be standing on it along with me.”
“We should probably begin by kneeling. Are you game?” Maggie was excited at the prospect.
Daniel stared at Maggie, then he looked at the carpet, “Are you game, Mr. Carpet?” Immediately the carpet rose a few inches from the floor and rippled its surface.
“It’s game,” Maggie raised her eyebrows and smiled.
“Let’s take it to the courtyard.” The carpet rolled itself up and followed Daniel and Maggie.
They took the freight elevator down and walked into the courtyard. The carpet unrolled itself and lay quietly on the grass.
“Rise up a few inches, Mr. Carpet.” The carpet rose and hovered.
“Maggie, what makes it do this? Did the man who gave it to you tell you anything?”
“Yes, he did. As best as I can recall, it has something to do with the clay used in making the dyes for the silk used on the weaving loom. Something about anti-magnetic qualities.”
“But it hears. That’s the mysterious part.”
“The man who gave it to me didn’t say as much, but he suggested the rug may have been cursed and the apparent intelligence it has is that of someone who bears the curse. Who, I don’t know. However, it seems to know you,” Maggie beamed with delight at Daniel.
“But why didn’t it respond to you, that’s the big question in my mind. Why me?
“Who knows? It may only be a matter of the composition of the carpet merely responding to something within you. Like a radio that is tuned in properly. I don’t know. I’m just guessing. But it works, so why question it.”
“Let’s take a ride,” Daniel whispered.
Several children scampered into the courtyard and noticed the hovering carpet. They ran over to investigate.
“Is this a flying carpet?” One little girl place her hand on the carpet.
“Yes, it is. How did you know?”
“My mom read me a story about a flying carpet in Arabia. Are you from Arabia?”
“No, I’m not,” Daniel laughed and glanced at Maggie, “Who knows, maybe I am.”
“Can we have a ride, Mister?” the four children edged toward the carpet.
Daniel looked a Maggie, “What do you think?”
“I don’t know. I suppose if we all got on and held the children. You decide.”
“Thanks, Maggie. You’re a big help.” Daniel thought for a moment. “Okay, we can have a short ride here in the courtyard. Just a few inches off of the ground.” Daniel stepped onto the carpet and knelt down. “Come on Maggie. I can’t do this by myself.”
Maggie obliged and knelt next to Daniel.
“Okay kids, climb aboard. But stay close to me and Maggie. The four children eagerly jumped onto the carpet and huddled close to the two adults.
“Okay, Mr. Carpet let’s go for a slow low-level ride around the courtyard. Slowly the carpet rose a few inches and moved forward. The children squealed with glee. Daniel felt like squealing with them.
The carpet circled the courtyard and began again. Daniel looked at Maggie, “Now what?” She just smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “I guess we could go higher,” The children agreed and shouted to the carpet to go higher. It did not respond.
“Okay, Mr. Carpet, you may go a little higher. Kid’s hang on.” The carpet rose several feet.
“Make it go faster.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“Oh, go ahead.” Maggie grinned.
“Well, I guess a little faster won’t hurt. Okay, Mr. Carpet, you can go a little faster.” The carpet picked up speed and then began to gently swoop back to the ground and up into the air again like a roller coaster much to the delight of everyone.
A woman walked into the courtyard and began calling, “Michael, time to come in. Michael?”
“I’m up here mom.” The woman continued to call.
Maggie looked at Daniel, “She can’t see us. And I don’t think she can hear us either.”
The woman shouted once more as she moved back into the building, “Michael James. I’ll count to five and if you’re not in here I’m going to give you what for.” She disappeared into the building.
“We’d better cut this ride short. Mr. Carpet, please go to the ground and stop.”
The carpet slowed down and settled on the ground much to the annoyance of the children. “We want more!”
“Not today, kids. And you, Michael James. Get yourself inside.”
The children reluctantly dismounted and stood watching with hopes of another ride. Michael ran toward the entrance of the building.
“You’re right, Maggie. That woman didn’t see or hear us.” He paused and grinned, “Wanna go for a little ride?”
“I’d love it.” Maggie positioned herself on the carpet.
“Where should we go?”
Maggie thought for a moment, “How about Golden Gate Park. It should be interesting to see it from above.”
Daniel smiled, “Okay Mr. Carpet. You heard the lady. Let’s go to Golden Gate Park.” The carpet rose a few feet and paused. “Goodbye, kids. I promise to give you another ride real soon.” He and Maggie waved to the children.
The carpet rose higher and higher and kept climbing until it was above the apartment building. “Hang on Maggie.”
“To what?” Maggie laughed.
The carpet moved forward with ever increasing speed, sailing over apartment buildings. “Hey, Mr. Carpet, let’s take a look at Golden Gate Bridge first.” The carpet swooped around and sailed across the Presidio toward the bridge.
“Oh, Daniel, how beautiful.” Maggie was mesmerized.
The carpet sailed under the arches of the bridge above the traffic, circled around and headed out into San Francisco Bay. It swooped over Angel Island, made a right hand turn and circled toward San Francisco, passing over Alcatraz Island first. As it passed over San Francisco’s Financial District, Daniel exclaimed, “Look, Maggie,” he pointed to the cable car climbing California Street, “can you hear the bell ringing?”
“Yes, I can. How delightful.” Maggie laid flat on the rug peering over the edge.
The carpet moved over the Mission into the Sunset District providing a starboard view of Golden Gate Park. It continued out over the Ocean, circled and entered the Park over the Beach Chalet, continuing over the golf course.
“Look! I didn’t know there was a golf course here.”
The carpet continued over North Lake then turned right and circled back over the equestrian field, slowing down and flying close to some horseback riders.
“Oh, Daniel, how beautiful!” Maggie exclaimed. The carpet glided slowly next to the riders.
“The riders don’t seem to be able to see us, but the horses are acting up. Evidently, they can see us. We better get out of here. Mr. Carpet, go higher and take us somewhere else.” The carpet obeyed and soon they were gliding over the polo field. As they passed Hellman Hollow they heard a scream.
“What was that?” Maggie looked over the side of the carpet.
“I don’t know. Sounds like someone in trouble. Carpet take us to the sound of the scream.” The carpet moved quickly to a lower altitude.
“There, Daniel. Over there,” Maggie pointed to the right.
Daniel saw a woman running across the meadow with a man in pursuit. “This doesn’t look right. Let’s get involved. Carpet let’s help that woman.”
The carpet moved down and slightly ahead of the distressed woman.
Maggie yelled, “Over here!” she reached out over the edge of the carpet. The woman ran toward them.
“Carpet slow down, please.” Daniel yelled, “Get on lady.”
The woman took Maggie’s hand and was dragged onto the carpet.
“Go carpet!” The carpet quickly rose and left the woman’s astonished pursuer standing alone in the meadow.
The woman clung to Maggie, “Oh my God, you saved me.” She looked around and panicked.
“Don’t be frightened.” Daniel knelt near the frightened woman. “We’ll take you to safety. Did you drive into the park?”
“No, I walked. I live at 12th and Fulton. What is this thing?”
“It’s a flying carpet,” Daniel announced with joy. “Don’t be frightened. It’s quite safe. Who was that man chasing you?”
“I have no idea. I saw him lurking in the bushes and tried to walk away. I was alone. There was no one near me. He got closer so I ran out into the meadow screaming, hoping someone would hear me.”
“Well, we did. You have quite a set of lungs on you. I’ll bet they heard you in Oakland.”
“I’m an opera singer.”
“Well, no wonder. We’re over Fulton. Do you see your home?”
“Yes, it’s the building on that corner,” she pointed.
“Carpet, set down on that corner over there, please.”
The carpet slowed and settled down on the sidewalk.
“What’s your name?” Daniel smiled.
“Daniel and this is Maggie. Got a last name?”
“Benson. Hi Maggie, and thank you.”
“Pretty name, Myra Benson. Are you married?” Daniel laughed.
“No. Are you?” Now Myra was smiling.
“No. Got a phone number?” Daniel tried to be nonchalant, without much success.
“Yes.” Myra waited with an impish grin.
“May I have it?”
“How did you get a number like that?”
“I asked for it.”
“May I call you sometime?”
“Hey, you two. Traffic is beginning to back up. We’ve been spotted.” Maggie grabbed Daniels ankle. “Come on, let’s go.”
“Gotta go Myra. May I call you?”
“Yes, and thank you, Daniel - for rescuing me. What an amazing experience.”
“All in a day’s work,” Daniel smiled as Maggie rolled her eyes, “Okay carpet let’s go.” Myra backed up as the carpet lifted off and climbed above the buildings. Daniel looked over the side of the carpet and waved.”
“Daniel, be careful. You’re going to fall off.”
“No, I don’t think so. I feel perfectly safe riding this thing. Where to now??
“You can take me back to your place. This has been more than enough excitement for one day.” Maggie smiled at David who was obviously smitten by the damsel he rescued.
The magic carpet settled down in David’s courtyard. Maggie got off and looked at Daniel, “All in a day’s work? Who do you think you’re kidding?” Maggie grinned. “You’re up to something – what?”
“I’m going back to the park and try and find that guy. I’ll call the police if I spot him.” He smiled devilishly at Maggie. “Ok, Mr. Carpet – back to Golden Gate Park.”
The carpet rose quickly above the apartment building and paused. Daniel waved to Maggie as he and the carpet moved toward the park. Maggie smiled and shook her head, “Philo Vance lives again,” she mused.
The next morning Maggie placed the San Francisco Herald on the table and settled into a chair with her cup of coffee poised for a sip. She unfolded the paper and almost spilled her coffee when she saw the headline.
MYSTERY MAN ON FLYING CARPET HELPS CAPURE PREDATOR.
The article by Cris Lombard told the story of how the mystery man contacted the police and guided them to the location of a known rapist hiding in Golden Gate Park. Once the police apprehended the suspect the mystery man and his flying carpet disappeared.
The article continued to speculate on who the mystery man was and the technology he used in the vehicle he traveled on.
Maggie could not keep from laughing. She put the paper down and reached for her phone. “Philo Vance, is that you?” she shouted into the phone.
“Yes. Have you seen the Herald this morning?”
“No, I haven’t. I don’t get the paper.”
“Well, you better go get a copy. You and Mr. Carpet are headlines.”
“There’s a front page story on how you assisted the police in apprehending the man who was chasing Myra.”
“I did, but I didn’t hang around long enough to give a story to anyone. I got out of there as soon as I was sure the cops spotted this guy. I did give them Myra’s phone number. Gosh, I wonder what she thinks. Maybe I better call and explain. The cops probably gave the Herald reporter her number. Oh boy, I’ll bet she’s pissed at me.”
“Maybe not. It will be good publicity for her singing career. And, she might be looking forward to hearing from you. Bye.”
“What do you mean?” Daniel looked at his phone and saw the disconnect on the screen, then he dialed Myra’s number.
“Hi, Myra. Am I in trouble?”
Myra laughed when she realized who it was, “No, you’re not in trouble. I’m glad you called. We need to meet so you can fill me in on what happened. That reporter from the Herald has been on my heels, trying to get more information about you. I told him I didn’t know anything but he wouldn’t believe me.”
“I’m coming over to your place and we can walk to the De Young Café. I’ll explain everything from the moment I laid hands on the carpet. Maggie, the gal who hauled you onto the carpet is calling me Philo Vance.”
“Never heard of him.”
“He’s a fictional detective from the 30’s – I’ll explain later.”
“Sounds like a perfect name for you and Mr. Carpet.”
“I’m on my way. Bye.”
“See ya,” Myra smiled to herself and prepared for Daniel’s visit.
Two hours later Myra set her coffee cup down and looked at Daniel, “That’s the most incredible story I’ve ever heard. It’s straight out of the Arabian Nights.”
“I know, but I’m not sure what to do with Mr. Carpet. But I did like being able to help you.”
“Why don’t you keep on helping? It’s not like the rug is going to run out of gas.” They laughed at the idea.
“No, I guess not. Hey, how about taking a walk with me. I know it’s getting late but there’s still some light.”
“I’m for it. Let’s go.”
“The Japanese Garden is close. And if there’s still light we could climb Strawberry Hill. Ever been up there?”
“Let’s do the Japanese Garden and save Strawberry Hill for another time. Is that okay with you?”
“Sure, that’s fine.” Daniel thought about taking Myra’s hand as they walked away from the DeYoung Café but decided against it.
“I love this park but haven’t spent much time here. Today was a good example of why I don’t come here alone.”
“I’ll be happy to come along anytime you like,” Daniel smiled at Myra.
“You move right along don’t you, Philo – what was his name?”
Daniel laughed, “Philo Vance,” he paused, “I meant no harm.”
“I know. Just kidding. When would you like to see Strawberry Hill?”
“Would tomorrow be too soon?”
“No, I have rehearsal tomorrow. How about the next day?”
“Suits me. What opera?”
“We’re not sure yet. We’ll be considering a variety of different productions. We’ll be doing highlights, not the entire Opera.”
“Well, if you consider Scheherazade, I’ll let you use Mr. Carpet. Wouldn’t that be cool?”
Myra looked at Daniel.
“That’s a great idea.
“Do you know the music to Sheherazade?”
“Yes, I do, very well.”
Daniel thought for a moment. “The first movement in the opening opus is The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship which would be perfect for Mr. Carpet.”
“Yes, I see where you’re going with this.”
“When the music climbs to its apex, Mr. Carpet could sail in over the audience and hover over the stage.”
“The audience will be running for their lives when they see it unless forewarned,” Myra laughed.
“You’re probably right,” Daniel joined her in laughter. “I see four silken ropes tumble over the sides of the carpet and four acrobats, dressed appropriately in Arabian costumes, descend. You know, like those players in Cirque du Soleil. You know anyone in that troupe?”
“Sorry, I don’t.”
“Well, it’s fun thinking about it. Once the acrobats reach the ground they can pull on the ropes and carpet settles onto the stage. You arise and the acrobats help you onto the stage. I roll up the carpet and we go off stage. So, what do you think?”
Myra stared at Daniel.
“It’s . . . it’s a most amazing idea. I’m going to make the suggestion.” She laughed, “You better be on hand in case I need a demonstration.”
“Sure thing.” Daniel was all smiles. “I can hardly wait to tell Maggie about the idea. Did I mention that she sang at the Paris Opera when she was young?”
“No, you didn’t. How exciting. I would love to talk with her.”
“I’m sure she would go for it. I’ll mention it.”
“Having the carpet part of the play would be wonderful.” Myra’s expression changed.
“You don’t like the idea.”
“No, it’s not that, but how would I explain it?”
“I know, we’ll take everyone in your group for a ride.”
Myra laughed. “I’ll suggest it but I don’t think they will go for it. There are some old fuddy-duddies that would never agree.”
“I think if they saw it and had a chance to get on for a ride – they’d change their tune. When is the performance date?”
“Six weeks from now. It’s on a Sunday afternoon. You will be there, won’t you?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world. You didn’t seem to be afraid to be on the carpet.”
“Daniel, I was so grateful to be away from that man, I was fearless for the moment.”
Daniel stood still.
“Daniel, what is it?”
“I’m not sure. This may not work.” He looked up, “Mr. Carpet, I need you.”
“You don’t think . . ?”
“I don’t know. Probably not. Just a thought. Come on let’s explore the garden.”
Half an hour later they were walking through the Park toward Myra’s apartment when Myra glanced behind her and gripped Daniel’s hand, “What?”
“Don’t look now, but we’re being followed.”
Daniel turned around. At the sight of the carpet following them he shouted, “Oh my God, it heard me.” He began to laugh. “Wanna ride the rest of the way to your place?”
“Sure, why not.”
“Over here, Mr. Carpet.” The carpet moved slowly to the couple and settled down in front of them. They climbed aboard and knelt down, “12th and Fulton, Mr. Carpet. No, wait,” he looked at Myra. “Let’s go to the temple for a quick look at the possibilities.”
“It’s getting dark,” Myra wasn’t sure. “Okay, let’s do it.”
“Okay, Mr. Carpet, the Temple of Music, please.”
The carpet gently rose over the tree tops and moved toward the Temple.
“You know, Daniel, you should really think up a better name than Mr. Carpet.”
“Yeah, you’re right. It is kind of corny. Got any suggestions?”
“Not off the top of my head. Well, maybe.”
“How does Jack strike you?”
“I don’t know. Let’s ask. Hey, Jack. How do you like your new name?” The carpet circled around once and rippled its surface. “I think he likes it.”
After skirting the Temple of Music, Jack rose above trees and headed for 12th and Fulton.
The carpet settled on the corner. Myra arose and got off. “Thank you for a very unusual and enjoyable day, Daniel, and you too, Jack.”
“We could go to the wine country someday.”
“That sounds nice.” Myra agreed.
“Bring some pillows along and we could float along the coast. Maybe stop off at a secluded beach. What do you think?”
Myra smiled. “Goodnight, Daniel.”
“Right. Bye. Ok, Jack, take me home, please.” He waved to Myra as the carpet lifted off, circled once and headed for Daniel’s apartment.
“I have some surprises for you.”
“Oh good, I love surprises?”
“I’ve renamed the carpet. I’m calling it Jack.”
“Have you tried the new name?”
“Yes, and the carpet responded. Believe it or not, I was in the Park with Myra and called for the carpet which I had left in my apartment.”
“Half an hour later Myra spotted it following us.”
“That is most interesting. I wonder if thinking a command will activate Jack. You need to experiment.”
“So, what are your plans with Jack?”
“Other than fighting crime?”
Maggie laughed, “Yes, other than fighting crime.”
“Myra’s opera group hasn’t decided on which opera they will present. I suggested Sheherazade and will lend them Jack for the opening movement if they approve. How does that sound?”
“Ah, Rimsky-Korsakov, of course, I can envision it already. What a wonderful idea.”
“I told Myra you sang with the Paris Opera. She’s very excited about talking with you. Hope you don’t mind?
“Of course not. I would be delighted.”
“I’ve also suggested we go to the wine country.”
“Did she agree?”
“She didn’t say no. Maybe I’m moving too fast.”
“When are you seeing her next?”
“Day after tomorrow. We have a date to climb Strawberry Hill. Wanna come along?”
“Daniel! Of course not. Bring her to tea when you finish your climb. We’ll talk.”
“I will, thank you.”
“I’m so happy for you, Daniel. She seems a lovely young woman.”
“Yes, I agree. I’m also thinking of contacting that Herald reporter and see if he’s interested in fighting crime with me. Kind of like a partnership. He may have contacts at the Police Department and can get ahold of crimes they’re having trouble solving. I can help solve the crimes and he can write about them. Philo Vance and Jack, his flying carpet.”
Author Notes: Love it or hate it, a comment will be appreciated.