The Hypnotic Mirror

26 Jan

When Elias Xanthos moved from Athens to New York City he knew where he wanted to live in the American metropolis.

He found himself a small apartment in the Astoria district of the Borough of Queens, the Greek neighborhood of Gotham. This was going to be his center of business activity.

In his early thirties, Elias had studied American literature at the University of Athens. He had mastered the English language, developing a specifically East Coast, New York sound and accent. It was going to be a smooth transition for him. There would be no difficulty at all fitting in.

Greek Astoria had come to be called the “frozen yogurt district”. New Yorkers came there during the heat of summer to cool off. Over two dozen Greek restaurants were available, five of them on Broadway, between 30th and 35th Streets. There were numerous coffee houses and four Greek banks open. People said that Astoria was “like being in Athens”.

The Greek Community Center and St. Demetrius Cathedral were community hubs of social life.

Elias began to frequent both locations, hunting for potential clients for his unusual service of teaching self-hypnosis.

A small eatery near his apartment brought the newcomer into contact with the proprietor, Stavros Agathon. He was a short fat middle-aged man from the island of Mykonos. As he became acquainted with Elias, relating his own physical and psychological pains and problems.

“I have major back and muscle troubles, and these get worse all the time,” said the restaurant-owner to his customer one late afternoon. “I see my doctor all the time, but he doesn’t help me at all. Medicine can’t do any good. I feel like hell. It’s like I’m in jail and there’s no way out and there never will be any relief for me. I’m a miserable person, that’s for sure.”

Elias, seated at the lunch counter, spoke in a cordial voice. “I myself have had a lot of sicknesses and pain, but I found a way to get over them without depending on any doctor. In a lot of old books back in Athens, I uncovered a very old method that really works. This helped me get over everything that was bothering me. Today, I am enjoying good help because of what I found out.”

“What is it that does so much for you?” said Stavros, growing excited.

“Self-hypnosis,” murmured his customer in a low, quiet tone. “It works, because I can see the results in myself. The allergies and lung congestion I once had are gone now. And my general mood is better. I used to be very depressed and unhappy. All that is gone today because of what I know about how to use hypnosis on myself.

“I believe it is true that most illness and pain originates in the mind, not in the body itself. That’s what I have learned from my own experience back there in Greece.”

“I’d like to hear more,” said the restauranteur, stopping and moving away to serve a new customer who had just entered the place.

Elias silently smiled. He was winning his first success in New York City.

Stavros, excited by what he was hearing, eagerly questioned Elias when next the latter came in for a meal.

“I don’t understand how a big change inside a person’s mind can cure him from all his ills. That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.”

“You’ve heard of hypnosis, haven’t you? It is better than any medicine that the doctors can give. And it’s something you can do to yourself, if you know how,” smiled Elias. “I know the secret of how to hypnotize myself, and I can teach it to others who are willing to learn from me.

“But a person will need a special instrument to put themselves into a deep trance that has the power to cure them.”

“Instrument? What kind of instrument is it that you need?” asked the now excited restaurant-owner.

Elias, no longer smiling, lowered his voice. “I brought a special mirror for self-hypnosis with me from Athens. It is now up in my apartment.”

“I would greatly like to see it,” breathlessly muttered Stavros.

The rectangular mirror, propped up on a small round table, was fairly small in size, six inches in length and five inches in height. One could focus specifically on the eyes when gazing into it.

“You may have to look into it for half an hour or much longer before the mirror causes hypnosis,” explained Elias. “It all depends on how sensitive a person is to the influence of his own eyes when viewed in the mirror. That is unpredictable until it is tried out in real life.

“Would you like to make an attempt with the mirror, Stavros?”

The latter seemed confused. “Is it safe to use? Can anything go wrong with it? I’ve never heard of anything like this in my life. You say that it has been used for a long time up in the mountains back in Greece?”

“On the mainland,” answered Elias. “In the highlands of the Epirus, among the nomadic shepherds for many centuries.”

“Let me look at my eyes in the mirror,” decided Stavros. “I hope it doesn’t take too long to have some effect on me.”

At noon the following day, Elias entered the restaurant to find out if there had been any change in the physical and mental condition of the man he had allowed to use his special curative mirror.

Stavros gushed with smiles and joyful emotion. He approached his new friend and took his right hand in his, giving it a firm, vigorous shaking.

“It worked, I saw an immediate effect on how I felt! My pains are gone, and I think it’s for good. My spirit is different, it’s flying up in the air! I have seen an instant end to all the suffering I had before.

“It was a miracle, and you were the one who made it happen, my friend.”

Elias grinned with happiness at the successful outcome.

“It was the mirror that made it all possible, Stavros. Without it, you might never have been able to hypnotize yourself. That is the reason for all the improvement that you now enjoy.” He stared at his delighted patient for several seconds. “I do not want to keep my mirror a secret. There are many, many people who need and deserve to be helped through self-hypnosis.

“Don’t you agree that we have to share this miracle with others? I don’t want to be selfish with the benefits that can come to those in unending pain.”

“You and I must start here in Astoria, Elias. I will tell the news to everybody I know. There are many, many Greeks who need help with their pain and illness. We have to get the word out and allow other people to learn how to use this magical instrument of yours.”

“Yes,” agreed the other. “We have to expand into a big circle of users.”

Lieutenant Athanas Bavra was proud of having advanced to becoming a plainclothes detective in the N.Y.C.P.D.’s fraud and bunco division. Although he had lived in Greek Astoria all his life, he had never worked on any case within his home district or neighborhood.

The tall, athletic-looking police officer first heard of what had started and was growing around the restaurant of Stavros Bavra. The wife of a small store owner who sold provisions imported from Greece relayed her worries to the detective as she wrapped up a quantity of feta cheese for him.

“There are some ugly rumors about that bachelor, Stavros Agathon, and what his friends are up to. After he closes up his place, they have secret meetings there and talk for hours. No one at all knows what they are up to, but I’ve heard suspicions that there may be something criminal or illegal that’s going on over there.

“But don’t tell anybody that you were told this by me, Athanas. I can’t be involved in any way.”

What was a professional police investigator to do when provided with such a strange tip?

Officer Bavra decided he had better look into it in order to be certain that there was nothing troublesome going on.

It happened by odd chance that Elias Xanthus was eating at the front counter when the plainclothes inspector entered the eatery of Stavros.

the proprietor greeted Athanas, whom he had known for several years.

“How are you?” asked Stavros, “I haven’t seen you for a considerable time.”

The policeman sat down a few empty seats distant from Elias, asking the owner how he was.

“I am feeling a lot better. In fact, my old pains have completely disappeared. And I owe this improvement to this fellow seating over at the end.”

Stavros pointed his right hand at the figure eating alone at the counter.

Athanas turned his eyes toward the stranger he had never seen before. “I just arrived in New York a couple of weeks ago. Stavros is talking about something I brought along with me when I left Athens. Shouldn’t we all do as much as we can to assist those we meet with anything we are able to do for them?

“That’s what my parents in the old country always taught me when I was a child. Our Orthodox Church and its bishops and priests say the same thing. That’s all that I’ve attempted to accomplish with my knowledge and tools.”

“Tools?” responded Athanas. “What kind of tools are they?”

It was Stavros who gave an answer to the detective.

“Elias has a wonderful little mirror that can give immediate results for people with painful illnesses. I can swear to that, because his special mirror has cleared away the sicknesses troubling me in both body and mind. I now feel as if I was reborn anew, like a little baby with perfect health.”

Athanas stared at the stranger from Athens, grinning warmly at him. “That is interesting to me,” he declared. “I have only minor illnesses from time to time, but I am greatly interested in how I can protect my health as I grow older. We should all take care of ourselves while there is still time.”

Stavros then proposed something to Elias. “Why don’t we invite Athanas to come and see how the method works? He is showing deep interest in the whole subject of what is possible beyond and outside ordinary medicine.”

“If you wish, you can have him accompany you to our get-together with out friends tomorrow night, Stavros.”

“That is a good idea,” said the latter, looking at Athanas. “Are you free to accompany me?” he asked.

“I would be happy to,” said the plainclothesman, turning to eat what he had ordered.

Elias made an exit, not having learned what the job and profession of the man he had just met might be. Stavros had failed to inform him, and Athanas had said nothing about what he did.

There were already four men and one woman present in the apartment when the restaurant proprietor arrived with Athanas, a first-timer.

Elias had purchased several second-hand folding chairs in order to place the added persons into a circle surrounding the table where he was located.

“Let me welcome each and every one of you,” he began. “It is a simple idea that will guide and lead what we are going to do this evening.

“A human being contains all that is needed for liberation from all pain and major illness and disease. But our mental impediments bloke such cure and treatment by a person’s own self.

“The solution that I have found is in the area called hypnosis. One must become a hypnotist of oneself in order to restore good health. And I can provide an easy means of creating hypnotic trance. It lies here on this table.”

He pointed to the small, simple mirror that he had brought with him from Athens. “There is nothing that resembles our condition as living human beings as does the mirror. It is the object that is not ourselves or a part of us, yet it can uncover the deepest secrets of our existence, the real core of what we happen to be.

“What I have brought with me from Greece is a mirror such as what our ancient ancestors dreamed of as a means of cleansing our minds and bodies of evil, negative forces and influences. This is a special, unique mirror that permits the person looking into it to see themselves as they actually are in the light of reality. Thus it enables the viewer to escape from the pains and ills of their ordinary, everyday way of life. It frees them from oppressive forces of all kinds.

“Who that is present this evening wishes to change their condition by gazing deeply into this magnificent window into themselves?”

Stavros suddenly nominated the friend he had himself brought to the apartment of Elias. “I believe that the mirror could have marvelous effects on your health and your life, Athanas.

“Why don’t you volunteer to have the experience? You will be forever grateful for me bringing you here. There is nothing anywhere like this mirror that Elias brought to New York from Athens.”

Unable to resist the challenge presented him, the plainclothesman rose to his feet and silently stepped to the table next to which Elias stood.

The latter instructed him in moving close to the mirror which was leaning in a vertical position against a wooden box on the table top.

“Look directly into the glass surface and never turn your eyes anywhere else. Do not think of anything in particular, but let your thoughts wander freely, wherever they wish on their own.

“Try to empty yourself of the present moment, of today’s cares and worries. Pretend to yourself that you have been liberated from the burden of passing time, once and for all.

“You are going to enter a state of existence that you have never before been in, and it will change your life in all aspects.”

Athanas, following these instructions from Elias, within three minutes had learned the secret of self-hypnotic trance.

“How do you feel?” asked Stavros.

Athanas did not reply at once. He was surprised that he was back in his chair, not remembering returning to it. The immediate past had the cloudiness of some kind of dream, yet he felt a joy completely new to him.

“I’m quite okay, Stavros,” he murmured. “Something happened to me. It is hard to explain, but it was wonderful. I never before had any experience like that.”

Athanas looked toward the table holding the mirror, seeing Elias approaching him. The latter moved near and asked the newcomer how he was.

“It is difficult to describe,” smiled the police investigator. “But I feel very good, like something new has been opened up for me.”

Stavros and Athanas, realizing that they were the last two participants left in the apartment, rose and left. Both of them thanked Elias for bringing his mirror into their lives.

The following morning, Athanas was called into the office of the captain who was the chief of his fraud investigation squad.

What is this summons about? wondered the detective from Astoria.

“We have a large number of complaints about something going on in your own Greek neighborhood, Than,” announced the superior officer. “I want you to look into a character who recently got here from Greece.” He picked up a report sheet off his desk and offered it to Athanas. “Look into the guy and see what can be done. If he keeps it up, you will have to make an arrest. Find out how much money he’s making off of the suckers he draws in.”

The detective stepped closer and picked up the report, thanked his boss, then made a quick exit.

What was he to do now? the plainclothesman asked himself over and over, all the rest of that day and long into the night.

There was no easy answer, because Athanas realized how the situation was causing him division and uncertainty. Whatever he decided to do would be a problem for his conscience.

I have to see Elias and tell him what is going on, that he has become the object of a criminal investigation. That was his thoughtful conclusion.

He went to the apartment where he had looked into the hypnotic mirror and found the young man who had done so much for him, the individual he had been assigned to probe into.

“I have not told you what I do for a living, Elias,” said the visitor once the two of them were seated on a small sofa.

The one listening to this confession seemed to turn into a motionless, stolid statue. Each further revelation caused greater and greater shock.

“I am suspected of fraud and deception?” asked Elias after a pause. “You fear that I might be arrested?”

“It could be best for you to stop all work with the mirror,” sadly, slowly declared the police officer. “That is the only way to avoid any further trouble for you, my friend.”

No response came from the one who had brought the special mirror to New York City. He stared at Athanas, unable to vocalize what he thought or felt.

The detective, somewhat uncomfortably, rose up and excused himself. “I will keep you posted on developments, Elias,” he said as he made his exit.

Athanas, entering the restaurant of Stavros in the afternoon the next day, saw signs of being troubled and disturbed in the face and eyes of his friend.

“Is something wrong?” he bluntly asked the owner.

“I learned something awful just a few minutes ago,” drily declared Stavros. “A man who has the apartment next to that of Elias was in here for lunch. He told me some very bad, terrible news.”

“What was that?” anxiously said the policeman.

“Elias called the landlord this morning and told him he was moving out at once. He would not be able to stay in New York or fulfill the rest of his lease. The building owner got the impression that Elias is planning to fly back to Athens. That would be an awful end to all he has done for people here in Astoria. He told me that Elias was like a different person, that he seemed to be terribly scared and frightened by something.

“I thought of going up to his apartment, but the landlord said that he had taken all his clothes and personal items and possessions and wasn’t going to come back.

“Elias mentioned that he had become sick of Greek Astoria and New York City and was never going to come back here.

“But where is he going? I wonder. Another place here in America, or all the way back to Greece?”

Athanas the investigator made a sour, sad face. “I can’t say anything, because I guess I didn’t really know the man. None of us really did.”

He sat down at the lunch counter in regret.

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