Visions of the Heart
a novella by Charles Keenan

episode 3
    Inside there were what looked like two cellphones, each hooked on its own lanyard. The shopkeeper took out both cellphones and placed them on the counter, one on each side of the box, then he took away the box. Nate wanted to pick up one of the phones and see how to turn it on, but understood that he might be getting into uncharted territory and waited. The man picked up one phone, turned it on and placed it back on the counter, then he did the same to the second phone, all the while saying, “My design. Works good. My design.” Nate saw that the two devices were not exactly cell phones - at least not phones like he had seen before. These were flat and spherical, like a slice of an egg. Around the sides were some buttons and switches, and the front held a small screen which was lighting up, but nothing was in focus. The man picked up one and adjusted the switches, then put the lanyard around his neck so that the device rested over his heart. Slowly, blurred images began to appear on the screen, and those images were getting sharper. “I call this Hobo’s Heart Monitor “, he said, then added, “My name is Hobonukiam, so just Hobo for short”.
    Then he began to explain that the images that were becoming clearer on the device’s small screen were the result of the device interpreting emotions being felt in his heart. Nate’s jaw dropped and after a few moments Mr. Hobo said, “Please close mouth”. Nate shook his head and just said, “What?” The man then explained how he had been working on these two prototypes for many years, tinkering and adjusting them whenever he had a few spare moments. To be sure that his results were sound he made two models simultaneously incase he used a bad part or had a loose wire. The chances of the same part being bad twice or the same wire being loose twice were too great, so having two prototypes allowed him to troubleshoot any assembly problems quickly. Currently both models were working perfectly. Nate stared at the screen as the images showed a foreign landscape with the trees of a forest and small homes along where the tree line gave way to green fields and dirt roads. There were even people milling about outside the homes. Most of the image had a strange waviness to it, except for the closest home and people. Nate marvelled at the fine detail in those closest images until Hobonukiam said, ”My parents and their home - across the sea. I should say my memories of them. They have passed away now”. This image faded and was slowly replaced by landmarks of the city where they currently stood, now images familiar to Nate. One image of a well known holy Shrine faded into a police station, then an apartment building and then back to the far away village near the woods. “This is incredible”, said Nate and felt that these would be the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for he and Philomena. When Nate inquired as to what the price would be for such amazing gadgets  Mr. Hobo paused. “These are only prototypes”, he said, “and I am not sure they will work properly for anyone other than me. Should have trial run first - test period. If you like Heart Monitors after test time then you buy. Okay?” That sounded fine to Nate as he wondered if Philomena would have a similar reaction to the devices - or maybe he was just being impressed too easily.
    Mr. Hobonukiam suggested a one hundred dollar deposit that would allow Nate to try the devices for one week. At the end of the week Nate would bring them back to the shop and Mr. Hobo would return his one hundred dollars. After that, if the devices had worked properly and Nate was pleased and wanted to purchase them, then he and the shopkeeper would strike a bargain. Nate approved of all the terms of the trial period, and he and Mr. Hobonukiam shook hands before signing a short hand written agreement. As Nate turned away they both said, “See you in one week!”. Nate walked out of the shop with Hobo’s Heart Monitors in a bag and made a careful mental note about the location of the store. 
    Walking to the subway station he called Philomena on his cellphone and made a date for dinner at a restaurant that night. He would be picking her up at 7:00. On the subway Nate decided that he would not mention anything about the monitors until they had ordered their meal in the restaurant and were waiting for the dinner to arrive at their table. It was late afternoon by the time Nate got back home, and he began to get ready for the special evening right away. After having a sandwich and a soda at his kitchen table Nate got himself cleaned up and put on a nice suit with a tie. Around 6:30 he even spritzed himself with some cologne that Philomena had given him as a gift the year before as he walked towards his front door. Along the way he picked up his ring of keys from the table beside the sofa. The bag from the electronics store was near the front door on a small table. He reached in and took out the two monitors, and placed one monitor in each of his suit jacket pockets before walking out the door towards his car. Philomena lived just a few minutes away.