Visions of the Heart
a novella by Charles Keenan

episode 9
Nate checked his Heart Monitor in the morning, but the results were the same as the night before. Having both Monitors only allowed him to view his own heart, with the fluid image of Philomena in the foreground. He put both Monitors in his jacket pockets and went out the front door to go to work. At his job Nate mentioned to his boss that he needed to take an extra hour for lunch and that he would stay an hour late one day during the week to make up the time, which was fine. It was the first week of February and the weather was a little brisk but still nice when Nate began his long lunch. He made sure he had the Monitors, walked to the parking lot and started his car. Mr. Hobonukium’s shop was deep in Center City where the traffic and parking were very congested, so Nate drove his car to one of the subway stations outside the downtown area and parked on a side street. He walked quickly to the entrance, then down the steps and through the turnstile to the platform. He only needed to go three stops before getting off the subway at a station that was a little closer to the store than the station at City Hall was last week He walked up the steps and into Center City. The tallest skyscrapers were a few blocks away but there were still plenty of tall buildings. As he walked the two blocks to where the electronics store was Nate allowed himself to be invaded by the sights, smells and sounds of the city. The window displays were now all about Valentines Day. While some buses were “green” hybrid models, most were still filling the downtown air with diesel fumes. Nate wasn’t sure which cars used their horns more often, whether the ones with out-of-town drivers who mistakenly believed other drivers were wrong, or the native-born drivers who knew all the tricks and faulted everyone. Nate turned the corner and there, in front of him, was the street that went beneath the train bridge and the hanging sign that read “Electronic Departures”. Even though he knew the store was under the bridge at the sign it was still difficult to see the shop itself until he was almost right in front of it.  
The bell tinkled as Nate opened the door and walked in. Mr. Hobonukium was in the back but upon hearing the bell quickly came to the front behind the main counter opposite Nate. “Hello, my friend!”, he said and Nate returned the greeting with a small wave. He walked up to the counter, reached in his pockets and placed both Heart Monitors on the glass. “Everything okay?” asked the shop owner, to which Nate began his long story about all the experiences that he and Meena had shared with the devices. Mr. Hobonukium was very interested in all that Nate related. The two of them spoke for almost an hour, with Nate telling a story and Mr. Hobonukium asking an occasional question, until Nate finally mentioned the large images in the foregrounds. “The Monitors would reveal so much more if our images were smaller”, he said as he turned on one Monitor and showed the shop owner the large image of Philomena. “We can only see the background from around the edges of the large image”, Nate added as the inventor picked up the Monitor for a closer look. “Hmmm”, he said. Then, “I fix. You leave both for one week.” Then the two of them began to discuss buying and selling the two devices. Mr. Hobonukium returned Nate’s 100 dollar deposit as a crisp, new 100 dollar bill which Nate folded and put in the back of his wallet. Then Mr. Hobonukium told him that if he returned in the one week with 400 additional dollars then he would sell the two Heart Monitors to him for 500 dollars. Nate shrewdly reminded the shop owner that these two devices were prototypes and that they might experience all kinds of unpredictable repairs. He said that he would like to only pay 400 dollars total. The inventor squinted at Nate for a while but finally said, “Okay, 400 dollars altogether”. Then Nate and Mr. Hobonukium agreed that, as long as Nate approved of the way the large images would be adjusted, he would purchase the two devices when he returned next Monday.  Nate felt that was great because next Monday was Valentines Day and, although it would not be a surprise, he would be right on time with Philomena’s gift.
Nate spent the week preparing for Valentines Day - or Valentines evening. He spoke with Meena everyday and Thursday evening they found the resources to have dinner at one of their favorite fast-food restaurants. Early in the week Nate made reservations for them at the same fancy restaurant where they had spent New Year’s Eve and where Nate had first shown her Hobo’s Heart Monitors. Before the weekend arrived he made a special trip to the bank and withdrew 400 dollars so that he could buy the Heart Monitors from Mr. Hobonukium during lunchtime on Monday. The weather had finally turned colder and he and Meena spent Saturday afternoon at Nate’s apartment watching television while the winds howled outside. They both had a little trouble falling asleep Sunday night because the next day was Valentines Day!