Jedi in OZ   Copyright Info

jedi in oz

Chapter Two

      After she closed her eyes, Madeline mused on the strange events prior to boarding the train bound for a vacation resort. Yes, she had worked herself to nearly exhaustion, and her godfather, Charlie Lavigne, suggested – no, make that persuaded to the point of arm-twisting – a long rest was in order. Not that Maddie wanted nor cared for "taking it easy," on the contrary. There was so much to do in these months following her mother's death: Clearing out her mom's house, sorting through personal belongings, give away some of Mom's clothes to the local church and Goodwill, and, most importantly, visit her mother's grave once again, even if it was to bring fresh flowers and bring a sad chapter to a close.
      "But will I ever heal?," she muttered to herself as the rhythm of the train's wheels against the rails lulled her into a fitful slumber. Yet she couldn't sleep; she was that keyed up. With a sigh, she reached into her purse and took out the bottle containing the last of those dreaded antidepressants. Maddie hated taking the meds although her doctor said they were needed. Nevertheless, Maddie seldom took the things unless the depression and lethargy became so bad that medication was necessary to quiet the mind. She didn't like the meds because they seemed, as she believed, to mess with her concentration and spontaneity. The last time she took Zoloft was during a major concert tour, and she nearly flubbed an easy passage. Not that the piece was that daunting to play; she knew the Dvorak concerto inside and out, yet she nearly missed a cue during the second movement. It was the stress, coupled with the meds' effects, that got to her. After so many months on the road, Madeline began to heed her godfather's advice on taking some time off. Besides, it was not good for her to continue the tour so soon after her mother's death. Give yourself time to mourn and move on, he said.
      "Good old Charlie," she whispered, getting up from her seat and walking the few steps to the lavatory. "Always looking out for Mom and me. I wish he was my father, and not that awful Robert Newbury who made Mom's life Hell on Earth."
      In the tiny restroom, she held the prescription medicine bottle and, recalling the words of a stranger she encountered just a few days ago, dumped the last two pills into the toilet. Depressing the button to flush, she smiled to herself then said, "He was right; I don't need these anymore. I've been giving into my anger and fear for far too long. It's time to move on and, as Professor Ostrovsky kept saying to me all these years, let the artist emerge. Music is my life, and I'm letting my pent-up anger cloud my better judgment. I can do better than that, so maybe this little vacation may help get my head on straight. Besides, James will be there. I love James so."

     She watched the water swirl around, taking those awful pills down the drain. It is done, and now is the time for looking forward, not back.
     Still in the restroom, Madeline touched up her hair and makeup, wondering if the woman staring back at her approved of the previous action. She smiled again, knowing she did the right thing, and she could only hope her life would get better.
     Again, she studied her reflection. Indeed, Madeline Louise Newbury – She chose the surname "Tasou" since turning professional – was a beautiful woman, just a few months shy of her thirty-fifth birthday. Her thick dark hair, on this day, was fashioned in an upswept 'do; the soft neutral makeup enhanced her English rose complexion. At least that's how dear cousin James said of Maddie's complexion. The eyes were a clear, cheery blue, although the recent mood swings and life upheavals suggested otherwise.
     It had been said by many a music critic that Madeline was just a pleasing to the eye as the ear. Those CD covers and publicity photos, according to one reporter, suggested a woman whose good looks could rival those of the best supermodels or Hollywood screen sirens, not a world-renown cellist who literally ignited the concert stage with her fiery virtuosity. Well, she did have a keen eye for high fashion and knack for presenting a commanding image. Yet Madeline knew she really shouldn't play up the glamor girl all the time, but at least it helped open doors, sold CD's and packed concert halls, and won her a wealth of admirers around the world. Even seasoned classical musicians were in awe of her beauty as well as her talent.

     "So why was I so miserable?," she thought to herself as she returned to her seat. As she watched the dull Midwestern scenery with its still barren trees and fallow farm fields whiz by, Madeline got out her portable CD player, inserted a demo disc of her latest recording project, then let the music lull her into a calming reverie. She thought of the events of the last few days, all profound events which led to this train ride to parts unknown. Once more, she relived that drizzly, gray morning at the cemetery, while visiting her mother's grave for the last time. That's when a handsome stranger appeared out of nowhere, sat down beside her, then began to counsel Madeline. It was an odd interview, but what he said was so true, and frightening...


     "Mom, I finally got the house all cleared out, but I still don't know what to do. Should I put it on the market or keep it? I've given away your clothes and stuff to charity, just as you instructed. Oh Mom, even though you had, at last, enough money to buy nice things, you still thought of those who still go without. Just as we did, so long ago, before I got famous and earned..."
     The gray overcast sky, relentless drizzle, and damp February chill matched Madeline's mood: dull and overwhelmingly sorrowful. She adjusted the cheery yellow tulips on her mother's grave – Lavinia Newbury's favorite flowers – while conversing with the dead parent as if in life. So close were mother and daughter, and Madeline, despite her hard-won fame and fortune, felt so alone, so unsure of her future.
     "Mom," she said, settling on a nearby stone bench, unheeding of the damp seat and mud under her feet, "I talked to Charlie today. He's in Sedalia visiting his sister Lenore. He wants me to drive down, just for a nice visit. But I'm so swamped with work. I just started a recording project, there's an upcoming concert tour this fall for which I'm no where near ready. I know, I know. I shouldn't feel like this, as you always told me. Look on the bright side, as the old song says, keep on the sunny side. But I can't. Why do I feel so angry, so full of hate? It's no secret that I still hate my father, although he's been dead for almost ten years. Shot to death by the second Mrs. Newbury after she caught him in bed with another woman, at least that's how James reported it. To me, she did us all a favor by killing Robert Newbury. He was no good from the beginning. Beating you, making us move so many times just to keep him away from us. Letting us live in poverty while he wined and dined his many women on the side. I suppose, in the end, he got what he wanted, so did his family. I hate them all, except for James. How he escaped the 'Newbury curse' is beyond me. He is so sweet, so urbane and witty, a total throwback to an age when being a gentleman was everything. I think he was born at least a century too late..."
      She began to cry, not tears of sorrow but of hate and anger. In reality, Maddie never really knew her father, she having been barely two by the time Robert Newbury abandoned his family for good, forcing Lavinia to move several times before Maddie reached school age. How much she wanted to make her father's family pay for years of abuse and cruelty. Robert, a well-heeled British entrepreneur, met Lavinia Henard during a business trip to New Orleans. Lavinia, what the old folks called a "quadroon" – she was one-fourth Black – had been forced, due to her racial status and refusal to pass, to work as "hostess" for Miss Delphine who ran, if truth be known, one of the more prominent brothels in the Big Easy, catering to politicians, businessmen, and other big spenders well-endowed with cash and in need of 'feminine company.'

      Maddie, through her tears, said, "He met you at Miss Delphine's, and he fell in love with you. Then he persuaded you to come to London with him, to meet his folks. There he took you to all the fashionable, fancy places you couldn't go to back home. Then he proposed, much to his family's disapproval; they found out about your background and what you did for a living. He married you anyway and brought you back to the States, to Baton Rouge where no one knew you. Then the beatings started when he grew tired of you. He would hit you for nothing, even though you were pregnant with me. After you gave birth to me, he didn't even come see you at the hospital. There were other women, and he never gave you a dime to help take care of me. How I hate that man! If it wasn't for him, you wouldn't have had to flee to Sedalia, then to Nashville, then finally here to Bloomington..."

     "If your mother hadn't come here, you may not have been the success you are today."

     Upon hearing that voice, Madeline wheeled around to see a tall, handsome young man standing over her. Yes, he was exceedingly handsome. His light blue eyes registered warmth and compassion; his generous light brown hair skimmed his shoulders. His clothes were, to Maddie, a curiosity. A long black hooded cloak thrown over a black leather tunic and brown pants. He looked rather hot, although Madeline was hardly in a romantic mood.
     "I sense your feelings. Forget it," he said with a laugh, "I'm happily married. May I?" He indicated the bench then sat next to Madeline.

     They sat together, neither saying a word for a few moments, then the man broke the silence, saying, "I know it hurts, but you'll get over it."
     Madeline, still sobbing, replied, "I don't think I can. I know I should get on with life; that's how Mom would want it. I try not to think about how badly my father treated her–"
     "You have a lot of fear and anger within," he said, staring ahead, looking at nothing. "Madeline, it not a wise thing to do, to give in to your anger. You're mad at your father, a man you hardly knew. Well, he's long dead, so he's no threat to you."
     Then, "You and your mom were close."

     "Yes we were. See, I had few friends growing up since we moved so much during my younger days. Even when we moved here permanently, I felt so alone. My mother was the only–"
      She stopped herself, turned to the stranger, then asked quite astonishing, "How did you know my name?"
      He laughed again, replying, "Come on, Maddie! You're famous. Your face is on CD and magazine covers, you're on television, a high fashion spread in Vogue, the whole media blitz."

     The stranger grew serious, adding, "Actually, I don't know much about the music scene; but I do know you, and I'm here to keep you from sliding into the dark side like I did."
     Now Madeline became intrigued. Here was this man she never before met, and he's talking about saving her from turning to the dark side. She had to ask, "What is this dark side?"

     "A place you don't want to go."

     He handed her a curious little object; to Maddie's eye it resembled a hand mirror encircled with rubies and emeralds. The mirror – at least it looked like a mirror – was not clear and bright but cloudy and swirled with many muted colors.
      "I got this from your friend Charlie. You may think you know your mom's best friend, but not of his powers. He never told you, but your mother knew. She wanted to protect you from yourself, so she asked Charlie, and others, to help you."
     Maddie didn't understand; she thought she was dreaming. No, here I am, still in the cemetery, in front of Mom's grave, and a strange man is next to me, talking to me, saying Mom wanted to save me from...Me!
     And Charlie...What is this guy talking about? Powers? Charlie is some sort of magic man? No, it can't be, but...

    "Tante Seraphine," she whispered under her breath.

     "You say something?," the stranger asked.

     She replied, still gazing at the mirror, "Many years ago, right after I earned my degree, I was in New Orleans on a recital tour. I had that rare break before my performance, so I walked through the French Quarter, just a leisurely stroll. An old woman walked up to me, and we just started talking, You know, just nice small talk, then she told me about Charlie, and my family. She said she knew my great-great grandmother, and that I'm descended from–"
     The stranger interrupted, saying, "You're descended from a great family of warriors, Madeline. Jedi Knights to be precise. I knew your forebears, Maddie. Did it ever occur to you why you chose the surname 'Tasou' before you turned professional? It was Tante Seraphine who told you about Marbile Beauchamps née Marbe Tasou."
     He drew closer, put his arm around her, then said gently, "Look into this mirror. See my story unfold before your eyes. Witness what I've been through, and realize why I don't want you to go down that path. It took me years to return to the light, after decades of submerging myself in the dark side. Afterwards, I want you to go to Charlie. Listen to what he has to say, then take that trip. Only then will you save yourself from the dark side. Oh, one more thing: You will discover wonderment and the fantastic, and you will learn much about yourself and reunite with a lost love."

     The mirror began to swirl colors then a scene appeared. It looked like a desert, and the young man was there. His mother was dying, and what he did after her death was the beginning of his slow slide into the dark side.
     What appeared in that mirror, all those events culminating into the unimaginable, the inexplicable, broke Madeline's heart. Then she realized the stranger's identity.

     "You're the man I keep seeing in my dreams. You're Anakin Skywalker..."

[Go to Chapter 3]

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