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Last Edited on 01 September, 2004 @ 4:20 pm
  Last Messed With On : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014 21:42


An "Un-Remarkable Girl"

        by dj otterson

Part Four -- Trouble in Paradise?

     I woke up feeling dizzy. Then I felt like I was tingling all over, I stood up and felt great, turned around and saw Angela coming, opened my arms to hug her, and she walked right through me, I turned around and saw her kneel down on the edge of her mattress. There was somebody in the bed. A man? I got a closer look. It was me.
     I drew in a quick, deep breath and opened my eyes. I was alive. I was alone. I raised my head and Angela was coming toward me.
     She came to the edge of the mattress and knelt down. She smiled, "Youíre awake?"
     I whistled, "Yikes-"
     She smiled, relaxed, swiveled to a sitting position beside me, "Yikes, what?"
     "I just had an out of body experience-"
     She grinned, "Tell me about it-"
    "I felt dizzy- I got up, I saw you coming, I opened my arms to hug you, you walked through me and knelt down right there-"
     "Deja vu?" she leaned down and kissed my forehead.
     "I saw somebody in bed, I flew over and looked down and it was me- I panicked and- zip, here I am."
     "How do you feel?"
     I had to check my senses, laughed, "Pretty good-"
     She nodded, "I always feel pretty darned good after one of those- They never last long, I realize what's happening and jump back in my body before I get a chance to think about going anywhere or, like checking out the pyramids or anything-."
     "It happens to you?"
     "On and off-" she looked and sounded completely relaxed and comfortable with the idea, leaned down and kissed me on the forehead again.
     "How many times did you kiss me on the forehead just now?"
     I nodded, "Good, I was afraid I got lost in deja vu land-"
     She was wearing her silk oriental robe, kind of leaned forward and rolled over me. My arms kind of naturally fell into place around her, we ended up on our right sides, facing the same direction with my hands holding her shoulders- She turned her head and tried to kiss me, then kind of squirmed and wiggled around until she was on her back and I leaned down and kissed her and she reached up and touched my neck.
     I felt the air was tingling in the room- I imagined little twinkling bits of something in the air. And I 'felt' a memory of the girl in the hallway earlier, raised my head when Angela let go and looked around. Nothing was different. There were no kids in the room looking at us. One cat was looking down at us from atop one of the bureaus-
     Angela grinned up at me, "Do you do that often? I mean the out of body thing?"
     I shook my head, "Not often- I don't usually get far, I just get to the point where I realize I'm out and either panic or remember I'm supposed to write a book or something and I can't leave yet."
     "You're supposed to write a book?" she smiled.
     "When I was a kid, I was lying awake in bed and heard a voice. The voice asked, 'Do you know who I am?' and I said, 'Sure, you're my grandfather'. I thought the bedsprings had turned into a magic telephone and he told me somebody important 'over there' thought I'd be a good writer- and if I said, 'Yes, I want to be a writer' some things would change, I'd have a different destiny during this life time than I guess I would have otherwise- I think I said 'Yes', so when I was sick with Hepatitis A in High School, I just got up and forgot to bring my body with me- I- um, it happened a couple times since- I never know why- usually, I remember I haven't written whatever book I said I'd write or something... I haven't written my book, I can't go to heaven yet- or whatever-"
     She smiled up at me- "Sure be great if we can, like- leave our bodies together and go somewhere and see something- heck, I'd even love to meet you in dreamland and do something together there-"
     I rolled onto my back and she rolled until her upper half was on top of my chest? She propped her elbows on either side of my head and looked deeply into my eyes.
     Then she moved just enough so she could kneel beside me (on the mattress) and lowered her forehead to mine and again, looked into my eyes. After a moment or two, she rocked her forehead against mine until her mouth moved down into contact with mine, kissed me lightly, "You hungry or what?"
     "Is it midnight?"
     "Not quite- but if you're hungry, I am-"
      I nodded, "Sounds good-" 
      Her head moved up and down when I nodded, "Steamed vegetables and brown rice?"
      I nodded, smiled, "Do we eat in the jungle again?"
     "The jungle? Is that what you want to call it?"
     I shrugged.
     "You shrug a lot, ya notice?"
     I nodded.
     "You nod a lot too-"
     I nodded, "Maybe I'm saving my energy for better things?"
     Her eyes widened, "Ooo- I like that idea- You're even better than I thought you'd be-" she pouted, "Even if you aren't Jewish-" she shrugged, "But I think I'm more like a Buddhist or a Hindu lately anyway-"
     I kissed her- "Whatever you are, I like it-"
     "You like 'It' or me?"
     "I like the fact that you're you and you're here, and I'm here and we're together... and 'it', being the sum total of all of that stuff and more, 'it' looks like it's only getting better-"
     She sighed, "Scary, huh?" but her eyes sparkled.
     I nodded.
     She sat up, looked away, looked down into my eyes, "What are you looking at?" grinned.
     She raised her eyebrows, tipped her head down. I don't know whether it was the lighting or my state of mind or both- but she looked like she was radiating love and understanding, intelligence- maybe even light.
     "You look like you're stoned."
     I shook my head, "Nope- nothing pharmaceutical."
     She smiled, "Something's going on."
     I nodded.
     "You're not ready to call it 'Love'?"
     I swallowed, "Um, it feels like love, but that word is so loaded- I think maybe I'm protecting both of us if I save it for a while?"
      She sparkled, then pursed her lips and looked like she was deep in contemplation, raised her eyebrows, "So, you're already thinking about me when you're making decisions that might effect your life?"
     "Uht-oh- busted-"
     She shrugged, "Well, it suddenly felt like you were holding back and I started to worry- but somehow or other, I guess I asked the right question and you gave the right answer- Now that's tricky-" she looked away, shrugged, looked right at me-, "You're making me feel like I never really felt the real thing before, and the scariest part is, if this isn't the real thing, I don't care- I want it- I want you- I want you to want me the same way I want you. And I want you to be honest about it- because if you're this freakin important to me already, I'm afraid of how much I'll want you in a little while, and if you don't want me like that, you better say so, real soon, because I'm in over my head, but I might be able to swim ashore from here? Ya know? and if we get deeper, if I get deeper and you're just playing with me-" she shuddered, sighed, looked away- "I'll probably survive, but I'll be kicking a lot of innocent inanimate things around for a while, hope I don't break any toes, and I'll probably hate men for.... " She looked down at me and shrugged, "At least until the end of the world-" she laughed, "Okay, nothing like a little emotional blackmail- Do you like me?"
     I nodded.
     She watched my eyes.
     I felt my eyes light up.
     A magnetic charge from her eyes rolled through me, around me (like a gas, surrounding my head?) and then flowed down my spine, took hold behind my lungs and around my heart- then the current shot between my legs.
     Her eyes gravitated toward my belly, she raised her eyebrows, "Dessert before dinner?"
     "Are you the dessert?"
     She nodded.
     I nodded.

     I don't know. Some things are just so close to perfect you don't think anything could be better? And then- well, in this case- 'it' got better? All of a sudden, life could be impossibly good? I decided to trust it- trust her? If she turned into a manipulating... whatever- later, well- maybe I'd be able to fight my head clear and escape without any permanent damage? Scar tissue's stronger than the original? But- is an emotionally scarred heart (or the metaphysical 'heart') able to generate and feel love any better or worse than an un-experienced, un-damaged 'heart'? I didn't care. At that moment I decided I was going to thoroughly enjoy being with her for as long as the feeling might last.

     We wrapped me in a blanket and I followed her to the kitchen, sat there feeling like a Native American watching her cook- (She wore her silk robe and never tied it- just sort of didn't care whether it covered her at all or not?) Then she filled two large stoneware plates and had me fill two stoneware mugs with mango juice and I followed her to the 'jungle' and we ate and stared at each other and smiled a lot. We interrupted the meal to kiss a bunch of times and fed each other and drank our juice. 
      And then she spilled a little of her juice on her breast and grinned at me.
     I couldn't tell whether she was embarrassed to realize she hadn't been covered all this time or blushed with imagination- I leaned over and licked the juice.
     She looked like I'd had one of the most wonderful ideas she'd ever heard of and dipped her fingers in my juice and splashed it on my chest and licked it.
     "This has real potential-" she giggled.
     I think we thought of several interesting ways to share food, but finished ours and stared at each other for quite a while.
     We took another shower and dried each other and then we gravitated back to bed and just kind of did a lot of light kissing and stared at each other until the phone rang and I realized I'd been asleep-
     Randy's voice, "Hey- love bird- you ready for another day in the real world? We've got an hour and a half- I thought you might need a couple wake up reminders this time-"
     And when Angela and I both walked into the restaurant, the ceiling did not cave in-

     But when I stumbled into her bedroom after work (with a handful of clean clothes) she opened one eye, said, "I was so happy all freakin day, thinking about when you were going to come home and what we might do- well- I just fell asleep- and I supposed I could wake up enough to make love, but I'm not too sure-"
     I nodded, "Whatcha doing tomorrow? I'm going to pick up a car and get it registered and all that weird stuff and then drive it to where I used to live and load it full of stuff I can't live without for a couple weeks and drive back here- and I'd love to have you along for the ride..."
     "Yeah? I don't get out much- I wonder what the world looks like these days- wow- an adventure. You better ask me again in the morning- or whenever- cuz my brain is fried-" 
     I looked around and found a spot on top of one of her bureaus where I set my clean clothes-
     She opened one eye, looked around, "Where'd ya go?"
     "Who me? I'm over here-"
     She laughed, "No- that other guy I'm in love with- what cha doing?"
     "Oh- I grabbed some clean clothes from my stuff downstairs and I thought I'd put it here where the climbing cat could guard it for me-"
     "Okay- "Climber"?- I've been calling that one "Nutmeg", because of the color under her chin- and "Nutcase" when I find her up on top of the cabinets in the kitchen and I have no idea how she gets up there- or how she gets down, Funny- I've never heard anything go crash-..."
     "You want me naked or what?"
     "Of course- It might feel kinky some time in the future to wake up and pull something off you, but I'm naked, so you should be-"
     I nodded, dropped my clothes in a pile near hers and plopped to my knees and flopped down beside her.
     She rolled closer and cuddled and we did wake up just enough- and we fell asleep mumbling about finding a crooked doctor who might want to 'turn us into Siamese twins' with our hips welded together? I'm pretty sure I suggested a pivot joint-
     I don't know which one of us said, "oht-oh- we got it bad..."
     That night I dreamed I was floating up near the ceiling, and looked down to see us both in bed. Her hair was chocolate brown and she was pregnant. I knew it was a dream- it wasn't like the out of body thing- that had been completely different- But I was looking down at us and wondering how I'd feel about her being pregnant and I saw the girl from the hall again. And she looked at the two of us on the mattress and covered her mouth and then looked up at me and gasped and ran away- ran right through the wall- I woke up and looked around, pulled a blanket up over Angela's shoulder, kissed her forehead. She woke up enough to kiss my lips and snuggle a little closer- I floated off into some other section of dreamland and woke up when a cat licked my ear. Angela woke up with me, "Somebody's hungry-" There were three cats staring at us.
     "Yeah, well this one thinks she might chew my ear off if one of us doesn't feed her some decent cat food first-" 
     Angela sat up far enough to see which cat was ready to chew on my ear, "Nutcase!" she giggled, "Maybe she's thanking you for the nice soft clothes you so thoughtfully put up there on her perch."
      "The first time a cat woke me up by licking my ear? I didn't know we had a cat to begin with and then, the sandpaper tongue? Gad- I had no idea what was happening."
     "Who's 'we'?
     "You said you didn't know that 'we' had a cat- which 'we' was that?"
     I blinked- "Oh- I was a college commuter, then a couple friends decided they couldn't bring their girlfriends home to mom and go to bed with them so we decided we couldn't live without getting our own apartment and I found out my college had some kind of special deal with a bunch of places so we got a place that was slapped together off campus- three bedrooms with their very own desks and a living room with a television and a fake leather couch and a couple chairs that didn't match and we had a kitchen that only one of us at a time could fit in, but it had a microwave oven and a sink and a refrigerator and there was a dining room table behind the couch. And one guy's girlfriend moved in and her cat adopted me before I knew it was there...
     She was laughing quietly and shaking her head, "How do you do it? You say the most mundane things and it isn't your delivery, but I'm fascinated- Do you have some like, science fiction brain or something? Are you broadcasting these pictures into my head so I'm seeing them as you talk?"
     I shuddered.
     "The other night? When my car blew up? I couldn't get my credit card to work and I didn't want to stay in the sleazeball motel, so I walked around in a stupor until I turned a corner and saw the nice little sign that says 'Restaurant' downstairs, and I stumbled in and Geoff stood there behind the counter and told me his life story and I don't know whether I actually heard any of it, or could follow what I did hear? but yeah- I saw little movies in the air of everything he was talking about. Are we dead and this is heaven, and we just don't know it yet?"
     She shuddered, "Technically, I don't believe there is a hell? Or if there is one, you gotta really screw up good to get sent there for any length of time? But- do you want to know how many times I've wondered if this is it? If this place is like over the edge into one of those places, or a halfway house between worlds?" she shuddered again.
     I nodded, "Ya know? I don't think the sun's been out long enough to say so since I got here? and this isn't Seattle- It doesn't rain so often that when the sun does shine everybody wonders where that funny yellow ball in sky came from?"
     She laughed, "Randy's right- this place has some kind of secret skeleton of unknown metal combinations that generates its own private little twilight zone-" She sat up and looked around and grabbed her silk bathrobe, "Help me feed the cats?"
     I got up and walked to the bureau and grabbed a pair of sweatpants, and a flannel shirt and stumbled around behind her- The kitchen still smelled like stale dishwater, "Want me to wash the dishes?" I yawned.
     "I think it's broken- but go ahead and try-"
     I pulled the door open and saw about a month's worth of dishes in pretty sad shape, thought about rinsing them all off, then rearranged half of them and poured the dish soap into the right little chambers, closed the door, locked it and pushed a few buttons, it made some swishing and gurgling noises and then sloshed and hummed to life.
     She grinned at me with a strange combination of admiration and curiosity, maybe a little bit of awe? Like she thought I had infinite magical powers- "Machines like you-" she shuddered and opened a cabinet- at least half a dozen cats materialized around bowls on the floor. A couple of them looked at the humming dishwasher like it just might be an invading monster from some other world.
     Angela opened a couple more cabinets, looking for something, I happened to glance her way and, "Candles-"
     She turned to me and said, "Yeah- I love candles- scented candles, unscented candles-"
     "My mother has this theory that you can burn a candle to get rid of almost any obnoxious odor?"
     Angela shook her head and, "Are you trying to tell me something?" she sighed and touched several candles one at a time- "Um, cinnamon, raspberry, vanilla, lemon-... I think your mom and mine went to the same school of covering up odors-"
     "Am I supposed to vote on which scent I like best?"
     She laughed again, "I'm leaning toward cinnamon, but my mother has this theory that lemon covers anything."
     I sighed, shrugged, "Candle scents are not exactly my strongest suit-"
     She smiled at the floor, "Hey, I finally found something you don't know much about? Wow-"
     I had to do a double take to make sure there was nothing barbed in her comment-
     She grinned wider at me- "You're really here- you're really awake and real and we're in the kitchen at midnight running the dishwasher and talking about candles-" she shrugged, "This has to be heaven-"
     She put a yellow candle on a counter away from anything combustible, struck a match and lit it- "I haven't burned any houses down lately..." she rolled her eyes, "Ya know? I fell asleep with a candle burning once? woke up and thought the whole bedroom was on fire? But I let out a yelp and knocked over a glass of water that put the fire out and, well, that's a good way to scare off a roommate," she laughed, "Let them know you're fully capable of burning the house down- Do you have any idea how great it is to have you to talk to?"
     I tried to play with her, pointed to my chest and looked around to see if there was anybody else there, shook my head and shrugged.
     "You haven't corrected me for using bad grammar, you haven't looked at me like I'm from another planet because I said something that real people aren't supposed to talk about? I mean, the hair stuff is obvious- I know you noticed it-"
     Her jaw fell, "You're not color blind are ya?"
     I laughed, shook my head, "Oh- you mean that half your hair is green and the other half is blue?"
     She giggled, "You noticed... how about the brown roots?"
     I shrugged, "Didn't you tell me you colored your hair because you were sick of being the brunt of a bunch of blond jokes?"
     Her jaw fell open again, but she recovered quickly, "Hey, be careful- If you told me my hair changed colors all by itself, I'd have to run to the nearest mirror to check-" she almost cackled, "and then I'd want to stay awake until I could watch it change color some time." She yawned, "You're bad for productivity, though, I haven't painted anything or thought about painting anything since you got here." She winced, "Ya know, when Janice gets back we might have to tone it down a bit, you might even have to sleep in your own apartment for a couple nights-"
     "You want to drop in on me down there if you're not busy up here?"
     She tipped her head sideways, "Ya know- that might solve a couple minor- well, major problems- when Janice goes to bed she closes her door and might even lock it- she isn't crazy about me wandering around all night- but I told her before she moved in- I warned her- maybe it didn't sink in- I'm nocturnal-" she shrugged, "More or less-" Her eyes widened, "Maybe we should take a couple cats down there and turn them loose so they can chase the mice into somebody else's apartment." the light behind her eyes lit brighter than usual, "Hey, want a couple cats? How about Nutcase? She likes you-"
     "Don't you like her?"
     "I love her- she just gets moody, like at all the wrong times? Maybe if she had her own space, ya know- She could run your life for a change? Then I'd have to come visit her and I could tell you all the worst food to feed her so she'd see me coming and realize what a good thing she had with me-" Angela shook her head, "Janice doesn't like her at all- there's this little bell that goes off in Janice's head that tells her all sorts of stuff like, 'Normal people don't paint at three in the morning,' 'Normal people don't let cats climb up on top of cabinets in the kitchen-' Like Nutcase would listen to anybody- You wouldn't mind a cat that climbs up on top of any of your cabinets- would ya?"
     I shook my head.
     She grinned, "Are you just about perfect or what?"
     I sighed, tried to look guilty, "I gotta tell you- I bribed Janice to come here and drive you nuts so you'd really really really appreciate me when I got here-"
     She nodded, grinned, "I knew it!" stared at me with the candles in her eyes flickering brightly, "You didn't have to waste the money, though, I would have liked you anyway- How the hell did you manage to get your car to blow up like that and then get the credit cards not to work?" she shook her head, "The odds of us bumping into one another were like, I can't imagine..."
     I nodded.
     The cats looked at us like we'd lost our minds and went back to their late night snacks.
     Angela yawned, "Want a sandwich?"
     "What cha got?"
     "Tofu or garden burgers- gotta nuke the garden burgers-"
     I yawned, shrugged, "Should I push the buttons or is that your domain?" 
     She shook her head, grinning at the floor, "I hope I never get used to you-" she frowned, "Maybe I should have said, 'I hope I never take you for granted.'"
     Her eyes softened and she looked at me like tears could form any minute.
     We set up shop at the coffee table in the jungle again. She looked at me with silver and gold sparkling in her green eyes and a smile that told me she was too happy for words. She sighed and looked at the food she'd just placed on the table and looked at me, "This is great- I feel like a freakin five year old playing house-" then she frowned, "I don't know what to do about Janice though-"
     I swallowed, "Are you guys lovers or anything?"
     She looked worried for a moment, then softened (She bit her lip, tipped her head sideways, had a different glow altogether. More womanly? More 'Been there, done that-' with a lot of 'holy shit, this guy really loves me' thrown in.) "You really don't have a problem with any of that, do you?"
     I shrugged, "Comes from being a sensitive outcaste in high school. You withdraw, can't find a place that feels safe at all, so fret about everything that can possibly go wrong... I solved all the world's problems to my own satisfaction, and then thought through everything that could possibly effect me personally. I didn't think anybody would ever love me for who I was- so I told myself a lot of bullshit about what I could and couldn't put up with. Then I had a couple real live lovers and found out what jealousy felt like and... well, intellectually, I know that it shouldn't matter, but-"
     She took a bite and swallowed, looked a bit scared, "You're the jealous type?"
     I shook my head, "Not really. In the first part of love, when the bells are ringing and the chemicals are flowing in your brain and all of your racial memory and the entire future of the human race wants you to believe that reproduction is all that matters- you can't see anything but each other (If it works for both of you- if you both feel it.) And when it falls apart, well, the first one was a killer- the second, I sort of always knew she was temporary, but she got under my skin and then she started to test me, like to see if she could get a rise out of me by flirting with other guys- I went through a deep private hell and then, by the time she told me she wanted to see other guys I basically shrugged it off. Third one was a bitch- not the woman, the hell I went through after-"
     Angela waited, "That's it? Three?"
     I shrugged, "Three serious ones. The third one got real deep- real quick and I found out she really wanted to sleep with as many guys as she could- and maybe she really loved all of us, or most of us, but I couldn't believe I could be suckered like that- I don't know, maybe I felt like I was so sexually inept nobody'd want me after that."
     "So, basically- you're holding back to see what happens six months or a couple years from now?" she took a bite.
     "No- you got deeper than any of them," [she smiled at the floor, glowed inside a small pool of light that might have been coming from inside her.] "Like that-" I snapped my fingers-
     Whatever she was thinking registered throughout her body, her eyes widened, happily, she had to draw in a deep breath and rearrange herself, looked at me and nodded, "Gee, I wonder how that feels- but it's happened to both of us? That's rare-" she turned around, reached back and flipped a switch on her aging boom box radio. Loreena McKennit was singing, "Wow-" she said, "Goose bumps- that was timing-" she shivered, then beamed.
     I got this strange visualization that she and I were sitting in a little clearing in a real forest and the music was everywhere we wanted it to be, but, all around us, the rest of the universe was in almost total darkness. Out there, creatures were stalking and killing each other. People were lying and manipulating each other. Bunches of us silly humans were in love, paying attention to nothing beyond our own tiny bubbles of 'reality' and the Loreena McKennit song inspired visions of half naked guys dancing and leaping around camp fires to impress their half naked women. A black panther swiveled her head to look at me through emerald eyes. Then I felt like I was surrounded by that black cat, a motherly influence, who was lounging around, watching over me like I was her cub. I felt protected. I had a lioness ready to pounce from the shadows to tear anybody apart who threatened me. 
     Angela's eyes were liquid, almost not physical at all, and sparkling, "Wow- What are you thinking about?"
     "We're in a real jungle, and somebody is watching over us."
     She grinned, nodded, "I have to get this CD-" she said and swayed, eyes half closed, "I love this song-"
     When we got back to bed that song filled my head and the universe and I floated off into eternity listening to remembered fiddles, harps, pipes I had thought were synthesizers and Celtic drums.
     I felt like I rolled over and it was daylight. I was in another part of the world. Angela was there. I looked around. This place was old. It looked a little like a Greek Island, but I could feel it was well inland- Macedonia? Serbia? Ruins of thousand year old temples on hills where chips of stone were covered with moss or lichens? Sparse trees and a land that had almost been farmed to death. We were on a farm. The ruins were miles away- I turned to her and she was young- her face changed. Larger head, more prominent cheek bones. Blond hair in tight ropes of pigtails tied around her head like some kind of ridge. Russian peasants? "I love you," she said in her real voice, "I always have- even after we die, I will find you and love you again." She melted from that other face into her current look and beamed at me in a forest with several children around us. The ground shook- we ran into the open where hundreds of chariots thundered all around us and -Romans?  A bunch of hard looking men- speared, hacked and slaughtered them. I threw down a sword and stepped in front of a chariot. It roared through me, I blinked. I was back in Angela's bedroom. The first greys of morning were filling the air. It never really got completely dark in her apartment. Her door was open. She had gone to the bathroom. I realized I had sat up. I let myself fall back into the pillows. I drifted off over the battlefield where everyone I loved had been massacred. I turned around and the girl from the hallway outside of Angela's apartment was there. She looked at me like she was astounded that anyone else could feel pain like that- I wondered if she was alive in our time or not, then asked, "Who are you?" She looked astounded that I could see her and like stepped back and disappeared.
     I felt Angela settle back into bed, woke up enough to reach out and pull her closer to me. She caught my wrist with almost no pressure at all and held it, kissed my palm. She sniffled.
     "Are you crying?" I woke all the way up.
     She moved my hand to her wet cheek, nodded, "You love me!" she gasped, then pulled my arms tighter around her, "I'm in love with a freakin normal guy and he wants me- this is heaven and hell at the same time."
     "Who ever said I was any kind of normal?"
     She shrugged, "What I meant was, you're none of the sick scary things I'm afraid of- I always thought I was drawn to my own death at the hands of a serial killer or something. Now all I want to do is spend eternity making love with you- I might not get a lot of painting done, but hell with it. I'd rather know heaven on earth anonymously than go down in history as the greatest visionary artist of all time-"
     She reached down and touched me, raised her eyebrows, "Ready for more?"
     I nodded. (Almost teased her by asking "More what?") But we rolled around and stared into each other's eyes while we rocked and melted into explosions of white light.
     I woke up in a bed with gold coloured silk sheets. I was surrounded by marble columns and covered by a canopy of purple silk flapping in the breezes. I sat up, naked. The bed was layers of animal skins on a slab of marble. there was a ceiling above the canopy. I was in a large, open room. Robin's egg blue silk sheets or curtains hung in odd places around the room to give the illusion of privacy? A small girl in a kind of white tunic with a blue sash stepped out from behind a curtain and smiled at me. An arrow point came through her chest. She looked down at it, spit blood and decomposed in front of me. Something roared menacing and growled, "I'm coming for you-" I whistled, expected the panther to bound from behind a curtain to defend me. Something white flew over my head and charged through the curtains. The menacing thing screamed in horror and ran- I turned and Angela was standing there with her mouth open, "That thing has been chasing me all my life- and you just scared it to death?"
     I opened my eyes, she trembled beside me, "Were we just dreaming?"
     "What happened?"
     "A nightmare- you were in this Greek temple or something. I came to wake you- a kid came to see us and somebody shot her with a bow and arrow- then some kind of demon roared and you turned into some kind of white thing and scared it to death-"
     "I did? I dreamed the white thing flew from behind me- I was afraid the girl was you- God, that was awful, the arrow came through her and she rotted in seconds, turned into a black and gory skeleton and disintegrated." I shuddered.
     She shivered, "You get a lot of dreams like this?"
     I shook my head, "If I did, I'd give up sleeping-"
     She nodded, "I tried that- it doesn't work."
     We shuddered and shivered together for quite a while. I really really wanted to go back to sleep and bask in some regenerative pool of something- but daylight wouldn't allow that- 
     I felt drained. 
     Angela was still shaking, "I don't want to get up- but I guess we have to- I haven't had a nightmare in months- oh God, I hope they're not back again-"
     I hugged her.
     "Used to be every night- I really thought something demonic was stalking me- Okay, so maybe we had this dream to prove to me that you really are my knight in shining armor and you really can keep the monsters away."
     I shuddered. I could still almost feel the presence of that- whatever it was...

     We went down into the restaurant for breakfast. Geoff greeted us with his mindless smile. (I shuddered.) Cheryl wasn't there. (I shuddered.) 
     Randy walked in, pretended to be in shock over Angela's presence, then looked at us and looked worried, "You look like you've been through hell-"
     We nodded and shuddered.
     Angela shrugged, "My fault, I really wanted to share a dream- so we dreamed that some kind of demon was stalking us."
     Randy straightened his back and looked like he didn't want to know us, "I told Geoff to keep that thing tied up in the basement-" he grinned. Then he sat with us and made small talk during breakfast.
     I think I actually saw everyone getting farther and farther away from me- sound changed, the air felt cold- Every time I shivered Angela looked at me and I think her jaw dropped a little more.
     Geoff came and sat at our table with us after we finished eating and there was no one else in the place.
     Randy yawned, "Where's Cheryl?"
     Geoff shrugged, "She got up early and said she had to go somewhere-"
     I shuddered.
     Angela looked at me with a near panic in her eyes.
     The door to the street opened and we swiveled our eyes to see Cheryl and  Tom, the security guy from the place we bought the computer for the office (& Randy's student) walk in, beaming a really tangible peace. They smiled at us and came right over.
     Cheryl touched my shoulder. Like warm water shooting through me- I relaxed completely. I stood up and shook Tom's hand. It was like the heat had come on and I snapped back into my 'normal' state of mind.
     Geoff grinned at Cheryl, "Were your ears buzzing? we were just wondering where you went."
     She smiled. 
     I closed my eyes and 'felt' a blue and violet mountain in the room, connected all the way to heaven. The room filled with the kind of feeling I'd felt in the apartment I was supposed to be renting from Geoff. I opened my eyes and everything looked normal, no neon spectres or anything.
     "I told you- we decided we were going to have special meditation this morning."
     Geoff looked confused, shrugged, "I must have forgotten-"
     I squeezed Angela's hand under the table and felt her tension melt. She looked in my eyes and then she looked confused.
     I stood up to shake Tom's hand while Randy pulled a chair from another table and turned it around for Tom to sit in.
     "Tom- this is Angela-"
     Tom and Cheryl exchanged conspiratorial glances and smiles. "Oh, yes- the artist?"
     Angela hung her head and shrugged, blushed, "Well, I can pass for one-"
     I sighed, "So how long were you guys meditating? Man- we had a nightmare that I thought was going to screw up the whole day... and you walk in, this mountain of peace follows you and changes the whole place back into the happiest never never land I ever felt."
     Tom weighed my words, then looked into my eyes. I remembered the nightmare and almost shuddered again. But he smiled and I felt like something flowed in through my eyes and spread through me and all the shadows in my soul melted as a new kind of light washed through me. I yawned.
     He shrugged, "We started at about four forty five and went in hour long spurts, got up, wandered around and sat down again-" he yawned, "It was great."
     I looked at a clock, 9:30?
     "So, what are you? a Guru or something?" Angela grinned. (I checked, there was no guile in her at all.)
     "Uh- no, we're both just students- beginners really- In India you can't call yourself a Guru until you can raise the dead."
     Angela took a moment to let that bomb explode somewhere between her head and heart, then raised her eyebrows, almost giggled, squeezed my hand, "Oops- wrong question-"
     "What kind of Yoga is it?" I asked, shrugged, "Seems like I've heard of a bunch of different branches or whatever, Hatha, Gupta, Kundalini-"
     "Raja-" Tom nodded, "Spiritual stuff- the kind of stuff that tells you any legitimate religious practices or system are supposed to take care of your body mind AND soul."
     Randy cleared his throat and handed me an envelope, "I told the boss you were going to pick up your car today, here's your first paycheck."
     I winced.
     Randy shrugged, "Well, if you don't want it-" and pretended to take it back.
     I grabbed it, "I was thinking about standing in lines in the Motor Vehicle department and all that good stuff."
     "And then I guess we're going to drive across state and pick up a bunch of stuff he can't live without-" Angela grinned impishly, "Should I wear like a normal looking wig or anything? Ya know? He's never even mentioned the fact that my hair is funny colors."
     "So maybe love isn't just blind, it's color blind too?" Tom grinned.
     Randy yawned, "Am I driving you guys around until you're through with all this stuff? I'm beat."
     Tom shrugged, "You been working all night? Go to bed, I'll drive them around-"
     "Really? You're not just saying that because you're ready to go up a level in Aikido are ya?"
     Tom shook his head, "We finished a big project the other day, I cleaned up all the details and took the rest of the week off. We decided to meditate for several hours and the world really looks different- I kind of want to bop around and see what's changed."
     "Hey- you're sure?"
     Tom nodded.
     Randy shrugged, "Okay- The car's at Dixon's garage- Ya know where that is?"
     Tom smiled, "The guy with the kids? Yeah- I used to get gas there before they took the pumps out."
     So Cheryl and Angela ran up stairs.
     Angela came down wearing a wig. She really looked like it was her own hair. (Brown,  a little bit unruly, slightly kinked, a bit on the thick side. It really looked like she'd grown it.) She shrugged, "I was a Jewish princess in a play we did at school. They made me get a wig. I keep it around for fun." Then she laughed, "They almost made me wear a big nose for the first part of the thing, so we could joke about my 'nose job', but we couldn't get it right, so the jokes were all in the past tense."
     "Were you born with that nose?" I grinned.
     She did a double take, spoke nasally, in a Long Island Jewish Accent, "Of Course I was-" then laughed, shrugged, "Yeah- I was born lucky- straight teeth, cute little nose. My parents joked that they had me switched at birth and some poor girl is growing up with a family full of blonds wondering why she doesn't fit in. Anyway, with the money they saved on nose jobs and orthodontists, we managed to get me through college... well, the grants and scholarships didn't hurt-" she laughed again, "You'll have to excuse me, this passing for normal stuff is so much fun I usually go overboard-" she made a silly gesture, spoke through her nose again, "Now, Trixy, as I was sayin to Ralph, we really gotta do somethin about 'you know who' and their 'you know what'..."
     I was grinning, "You couldda had a career in television-"
     She looked like she thought I'd had my brain removed, made a kind of Southern Belle melodramatic hand gesture, "Well, perish the thought, Ashley Wilkes would have none of thayat- No woman of his would be seen dead anywhere near a television, it was Broadway or nothing for me-" she shook her head, spread her arms and belted out, "To- Morrow To Morrow-" and got through half a stanza before Cheryl walked in. Angela blushed and shut up, then sighed at the floor, then tipped her head sideways, wrinkled her nose at me and shrugged, whispered, "It took all my acting skills to get along with my freakin family. Shhh- Cheryl might still think she'd be better off if she had a real family, I'll give her mine, any time-"

     Tom and Cheryl in the front seat (Cheryl sat half sideways so she could look at us while we talked). Angela and I in the back- We drove off into a relaxed adventure, laughed our brains out in one of the happiest, and easiest times I ever had with people I hardly knew. 
     At two P.M. we walked around my new car with its new license plates and window stickers and insurance policy things in the glove compartment.-
     Tom and Cheryl waved and jumped into his metallic midnight blue S.U.V. and drove off.
     I opened the passenger door and Angela curtseyed and climbed in.
     I walked around, opened my door, climbed in, turned the key- it started.
     We fastened our seat belts and turned to each other.
     "Oh God!" Angela rolled her eyes, "Next time I blink we'll be filling out forms and wondering how the hell we can afford to pay the mortgage we just signed away our first born for...?" she wrinkled her nose, "That new car smell stuff really does come in a can, doesn't it-?"
     "Should we keep a year old cat box in the back until the new car stink goes away?"
     She laughed.
     We sighed.
     She shook her head, "Well- whatever those two are into, I want some."
     "I don't get it- Cheryl's looking at him like they're an item. Are they like-?" I shrugged.
     "That's the weird part-" Angela shook her head, "I think you and me are the only ones in that building that actually have sex-"
     For the zillionth time in the last couple days I relived a vision of me sitting at the counter, listening to Geoff's life story. I could almost feel Cheryl register the fact that she knew I was bothered by half the details he gave me- especially the part where she disappears and reappears nine years older- I almost honestly felt like somebody had hypnotized me and told me I couldn't think about any of that- "Is Geoff all there?" I blurted.
     Angela burst into laughter, shook her head and blushed, "You're not supposed to ask that question."
     "Well, then you tell me- Cheryl shows up as a what? nine year old? and he takes her to bed and then little green men kidnap her and bring her back five minutes later as a fully grown woman? Am I supposed to believe any of that?"
     Angela looked like she was going to break down into madness or tears, shrugged and shook her head. Then she sighed, "Okay- I was on drugs all that time- Prozak. Okay? I was having nightmares like you wouldn't believe- I didn't know what was real and what wasn't- I didn't know whether Cheryl was Geoff's invisible friend or what was going on- There was this kid running around the place. -Around the apartment building. Running through walls- staring at me like she couldn't believe I could see her and then I thought it was her who was hanging out with Geoff. And I saw the thing they built for her? I thought it was a cage? Like they were building a big cat carrying thing and maybe they were going to lock me up in it? And I was going out of my head-"
     "Did you give her some of your clothes, take her shopping?"
     "The real girl? Or the ghost?"
     I slumped back into the seat, ghost? "The ghost is still there-"
     Angela nodded, "I'm so afraid her soul is going to die before she finds her way through the tunnel-" she shook her head. Then her mouth fell open. Like she realized she'd admitted something.
     I shuddered.
     "Ya hate me?"
     I blinked, looked at her like I had no idea what she was talking about.
     "For not telling you I was crazy? I really was."

End Of Part Four -- Click here for Part Five of this Story

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