Open Windows-Chapters Ten and Eleven

Chapter Ten

There is nothing like dream to create the future. Utopia to-day, flesh and blood tomorrow.

-Victor Hugo (1802 - 1885), Les Miserables, 1862

“The sun beats down my window” came my mind. Not because of the song, but because it was beating down on my head.

I remembered the joke about the three guys crossing the desert when the car breaks down just then. They decide that they had to walk as the car is done for, and then everyone agreed to carry one thing each to keep them cool.

The first one takes an umbrella. Saying “ Then I can make my own shade!” with a satisfied smile on his face. The second guy takes water, hefting it in his hands and say’s “I know I’ll get thirsty” he say’s.

The third guy takes the door, ripping it off the side of the car and saying, “So when it gets too hot, I can put the window down and let a breeze in! Stepping off as if he was the smartest of the three.

I felt like that third guy. Maybe it’s the heat baking into the brains or maybe I never had much to begin with, but the sun can do funny things to you and I didn’t remember to bring a sun block.

I thought it better to walk than stand there until I like bacon and started moving forward. I saw a sign ahead of me and stopped to read it.

It was one of those old “Park is open yadda yadda yadda” but it had a different message. The first part said:



In the sand the tales are told

If you’re strong enough to listen

Where the sun’s so hot the weak ones fold

this is where the sand and the sun are kissin’

many a fool has baked his brains

hope you brought enough water

in this unforgiving land where it never rains

you take your own chances in the devil’s clover

so ye be warned and ye be wary, my adventurous friend

before ye enter here stop and think at least twice

you’re gambling with your life; this will be your end

dying alone in the desert will never be nice



There was something else written underneath, seemingly written with a crayon or lipstick. But clearly it was there for my benefit. There was no mistake about that. It said:

“This was your second escape. There will NOT be a third!”

Simple and to the point as they say. I felt that shiver in my spine again, like the devil is tickling the back of my neck. True to my instincts, I checked my load to make sure I was ready and had to sit down for a minute. My head spun with what I saw.

When I was ten, my older brother Ray had gotten a set of guns like the ones I was now I was holding. Those were plastic, but looked like silver, even to the bullets. When he got older, he still had them and they still looked new.

I could swear I was holding those same guns in my hands right now. I was seven at the time and he got that and I got a James Bond kit for Christmas.

Mine was a brief case that had a knife in the end, a built in authentic James Bond gun, a pass port and of course, my license to kill.

The lock had a setting that if you didn’t turn it off, who ever opened it, would get a blast of talcum powder in the face. I was the only one that thought that was funny though.

I shook off that memory and then got up and started walking. I took comfort in that, thinking my brother was around me somewhere looking out for me, I was ignoring the part about my brother being murdered long ago.

I began to whistle, but the wind took it and the sound just died. It was sucked away and gone in an instant.

I had the feeling then that the desert wouldn’t allow anything that might be called pleasant in there.

There were no birds about, and the only sound was the wind as it hissed over the desert like a snake slithering over the hot sand and ready to swallow me whole.

So I took a deep breath and stepped further into hell.

Three days later I felt as though I was no closer. I had been careful with the water but was down to two skins and they weren’t hanging that low now. It never even occurred to me that I hadn’t brought those water skins; they were just there for me.

As my brains baked, I began to wonder how much was real and how much was an illusion. The longer I stayed out there, the harder it was to know.

The days faded into nights quickly and I lost track of when I was resting, if at all, and when I was walking again, or even what direction I might be following.

I tried to sleep during the day and walk at night but there was no shade anyway so I just kept walking.

On the first day, I had tried sleeping under a rock overhang, but the heat found it’s way in there anyway so it was not more than a catnap.

I sat up and decided to roll some. Not because I needed a smoke, but out of habit, it was my way of freeing my mind to decide what to do next. Because I’d lost track of what was real and what was hallucination. The heat made thinking impossible, what thoughts I might have quickly became jumbled and incoherent.

I began to see patches of a child hood, at least I thought it was mine, but I couldn’t be sure.

I saw things in two “parallel worlds” where in one; I was a “city boy” who grew up with asphalt and cars, the noise and the bustle of the big city.

In the other I was a farm hand or something, growing up with horses and barn animals. It was as if I had lived two childhoods, as I had memories of both worlds, but I had never seen them together until now. I was sure I must have been losing my mind.

As a ranch hand, I was taught by a man named Martinez how to use a gun, I tried then to imagine or remember if he’d had another name like most people but that was the only name I could come up with.

I had watched a man named Martinez as he practiced and then I copied what he did, at times standing behind him and mimicking his moves until they became my own. After I became such a pest he could no longer be ignored, he decided he had to teach me.

“De la chingada!” He said one day, “If I don’t show you, I just know you’re going to kill yourself trying!”

In my city life, my father was named Raphael, and he was really easy going and loved to have fun with people. When he told you a joke, he laughed harder than you did about it, and you got caught up in that and laughed with him.

One day, he came home in a really good mood and I was the first one he saw when he got there. Instead of walking into the house, he put a fake mustache on and a bowler hat and then knocked on the door.

I saw him and opened the door, thinking he had lost his key or something and he stopped before entering and tipped his hat at me.

“Hello son!” He said with a smile, “I am Daniel Hortensia de la Rocha, a su servicio!”

I laughed my ass off at the memory then, my father delighted at the effect his joke had on me laughing harder than I had.

These two “fathers” were exact opposites and yet they were the same. Held the same values and morals, the same ideals for their son.

I had a few happy memories of both of those lives, but it seemed more disciplined, more ritualistic and much more organized on the farm.

In the city I was named “Underhill” and had two brothers and a sister, but something bad had happened to my sister when I was little and I had just a few hazy memories of her.

One was really a strong memory though, it was when I was really young, I think I was three or four, old enough to remember her, and yet too young to understand what was going on. She was getting ready for her prom, while I watched and talked to her about what a big deal it was.

She smiled at me, I remember her smile clearly, and patiently told me “It always means more to the girl, remember that when it’s your time and you will see what I mean!” Then she went back to her preparations until she felt everything was perfect.

I watched as she brushed her hair and began to style it, and she asked for help zipping up, but she pretty much ignored me after that because she wanted everything to be perfect and concentrated solely on that.

But we had enough time and she danced with me while she waited for the time to come, putting my feet on hers and holding my hand.

She was really pretty in her dress and I remember that she gave me a kiss before she left, leaving lipstick on my cheek that I quickly wiped off with the back of my hand. I could still smell her perfume now, and the scent of the flower that was fastened to her wrist.

She was so happy, I remember she had these little flowers in her hair, she called them “babies breath” and they matched her dress and accented her smile perfectly.

It was the last time I saw her, and I was told later that she never made it to the prom either. I remembered something they called a “wake” but since she didn’t wake up, I didn’t see the point of it. All I knew was that everybody was crying and no one would tell me what had happened or where my sister had gone.

There was a closed coffin because she had been hurt so badly, I heard someone whisper that “Her face had been beaten so badly that her own mother couldn’t recognize her now!”

Until now, I had forgotten all about that, I was so young I hardly had any memories of her, yet now, thinking about her stung my heart and I cried again because I couldn’t remember her face, I had lost that last smile she had given me before she left.

As I walked thru the desert, I thought I saw her a few times, waving to me, pointing me in the right direction while she stood at the top of the next dune or rise in the desert.

I even got to the point where I could swear I was seeing her footprints in the sand and called to her to wait for me, but my voice was hoarse and barely above a whisper anymore. I wanted so badly to tell her how much I missed her and she couldn’t hear me. Since she was my sister and I loved her so much, I followed her, because I knew there was no other choice and my sister would never steer me wrong.

I saw others there too, but they were not people I knew, so I didn’t pay attention to them, they seemed to be waiting for someone else though and left me alone. Ghosts from someone else’s life or something, some of them had fuzzy and indistinct features where they should have had a face, I didn’t want to try and get any closer because I didn’t want to know why they were so blurred. I thought I was better off not knowing.

There was also a woman there that I did remember, her name was Pilar, and when I was young she cleaned the house and sometimes cooked for us. I learned how to read and write from her. She taught me a few other things too but she asked me to keep it a secret so I did.

Martinez was not all work though either, he taught me how to break a horse too, because they had too many horses and not enough ranch hands to break them in and train them, so he needed me and I needed the training.

He showed me how to tie various knots that I would need to train the horses and how to break a horse in and earn it’s respect at the same time. It was hard work, and sometimes very dangerous, but it was fun and I liked that part of my chores.

That was when we found out that I’d had a natural way with horses so he gave me the ones that most of the others couldn’t ride, because when I stood near them, they calmed down and sometimes came to me and nuzzled my chest.

The first time that had happened it scared me, I was watching them rope this horse they had just caught, and it was strong and hard-willed, and he kept bucking one rider after another before I got there.

But he was beautiful too, a chestnut with a white mark on his forehead that went down to his nose.

One of the other men, Esteban, was kicked on the side of his head and went down fast, so I jumped off the rail to help, but when I did, the horse reacted to me right away, even though I was behind him and a few feet away.

I tried to turn and they fought to hold him, Martinez shouted at me to get the hell out of there, but I couldn’t move.

The more they tried to hold him there, the harder he fought and two of them lost their grip on the rope and he turned towards me, snorted once and then came towards me in a trot without looking back at them.

It was too late to run, and I doubt that I could have anyway; my legs were frozen to the ground so I closed my eyes and held my breath. He came close to me and smelled me once, then bumped my chest gently with his forehead and lightly scratched at the ground.

I opened one eye and looked at him and he nodded his head three or four times while he stood there, the others were now frozen in their places and could only watch, as they had never seen anything like it before.

Some of them thought it was unnatural and left; others refused to work with the horse so Martinez gave him to me, since everyone called him “loco” it became his name.

There was an Indian that came and cleaned the stables out for a meal, he took me aside and told me that my spirit was what calmed the horses down, that they could see with pure hearts what men could not, because as men their hearts were clouded by what they were taught as children, never the ways of nature and farming, but violence and war against things they couldn’t understand.

But I remember how much I loved to ride him and felt I never got tired of it, my only real release and any kind of fun.

Once he saw I could stay on any horse, he made me ride bare back. I didn’t see the reason for that, but was not going to risk his changing his mind so I never asked, besides it was riskier anyway and that made for more fun.

I had two favorite horses that would only let me ride them, so I guess I was their favorite also, but Loco was my horse, the one I rode when I was on my own time, and he took me places sometimes, instead of me taking him, he showed me vistas and views of the valleys that were beautiful and I would have never seen them had he not known about them.

He didn’t care about the view of course; it was the grass there that he wanted, it was rich in things he needed, and it was his favorite, and I tried bringing some back for him but he would only eat it fresh, he had to be there, he ate other food too, but that was his favorite.

One of the workhorses was a black and white beauty with speed and power; She never got tired and always ran like the devil was chasing her.

The other was brown with some white in his face, he was sturdy and not quite as fast, but I gave him an apple once when we met and he never forgot.

These thoughts and memories came to me in a jumble, further blurring the line between day and night and reality from illusion.

At one time, I saw my mother standing, her hands cupped over her mouth as she stood on that hill and yelled to me, but I couldn’t hear her words. As soon as the words left her mouth the wind took them away.

I saw both my father and Martinez punishing me for something I had done wrong.

They at times switched to where Martinez was my father in the city and what I thought of as my real father was at the ranch.

I saw my brother after he died, looking as he did after he was killed, and talking to me as if he looked normal.

He was telling me things he thought I “needed to know” if I was to be a man, and kept pointing in the direction my sister had been, as if I needed affirmation that she was leading me the right way. I could not speak of course, so I would just nod when I thought he was waiting for an answer.

I saw the first time my father ever told me he loved me, I was almost three but I could still see it clearly as he got down on his knees and tried to explain why he had punished me.

So many things swimming in and out of my head, I thought at one time that they were all ghosts and maybe now I was becoming one, but I no longer cared, I was delirious from the heat and wandering thru that desert, I had no idea as to why I was there nor how I even got there now, let alone where I was going anymore. I wondered how many times I had gone over the same sand more than once, going in circles and following trails that led to nowhere.

Either dead or insane didn’t seem to any different to me at the time. I couldn’t remember if I had any water left or when I had last drank any.

My mouth had blistered over a few times, my tongue swollen and blocking my throat, it seemed easier just to lay down and die than to go on, yet I didn’t stop. I guess my spirit was too strong for me to lay down even though I was near death and I was almost blinded by the sun bleaching everything white.

My clothes were just hanging on my body now and where they were torn the skin under there had burned and blistered quickly with no place to hide from the sun. Just when I thought I could go no further or take one more step, I thought I saw a horse standing on a ridge, just watching me from there. As I got closer I thought he would fade or run off, but he didn’t.

He stood there as if tethered to the ground there, or just patiently waiting for me to come to him, to give him an apple or a lump of sugar for his patience with me because it seemed forever between when I first noticed him and I finally got to where he was standing.

When I finally got close enough, he nudged me with his nose, like my old friend looking for another apple or wanting to find that grass he liked so much.

I cried when I realized it was indeed my old friend, and then I knew why he waited so patiently, I dropped to my knees and began to sob gently, my body shaking with the effort though no tears came out, I didn‘t have any water in my body left for tears.

He somehow knew I didn’t have the strength to climb up, so he lowered himself and let me fall onto him, knowing that I needed his help again.

With the gentle motion of his stride, I fell asleep on his back and somehow didn’t fall off. He carried me off as I cried because as hard as I tried, I couldn’t remember his name.

I remembered that smell he had, the one he carried from the stable to where ever he went, and was in no hurry to get where I needed to go, it was just as the old days, two good and close friends carrying each other thru hard times.

It never bothered me that he was long gone to this world, or that he was here in this world of all places, or even that he was there though I never called him, as only good friends can be, he just knew I needed his help and didn’t wait for me to call him first.


 Chapter Eleven

He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare,
And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.

Ali ibn-Abi-Talib (602 AD - 661 AD), A Hundred Sayings


I was beginning to think I had died and was being carried to my final resting place by my friend. This was reinforced by occasionally seeing him as bones with little flesh hanging off him, and seeing both my “families” standing over me shoulder to shoulder and crying, though I couldn’t see my body there, my view was looking up at them so I thought they also knew I was dead.

I wondered then how Nemrul had known about Martinez, or about my fathers, the city one and the farm one were things he seemed very familiar with, and I felt as though he had studied me, and yet if he had I wondered why it took him so long to find me and what happened that the others had died for. How much of my past did he know about and why did he know me when I knew nothing of him?

If he did, why did he ask me? Maybe to make sure he was talking to me, that he had the right guy, or maybe to determine how much of anything I might have figured out yet, though that was not much at all, and I was still hoping that he had not seen my thoughts, had not known what little I had been able to determine when he questioned me.

I wanted to say something to them but had no strength. My throat was as dry as the desert air and my tongue so swollen I could not have managed anything coherent anyway.

So I tried to smile at them and wave, causing my lips to crack again and they started to bleed. We were walking towards them and I could hear them talking but could not understand what they were saying yet, at that point it was just a collective murmur, but it seemed as though they were all talking at once and before long just became an insistent buzzing in my ear.

That little group was made up of both my fathers, Martinez, my mothers and Pilar, and behind them, hiding and pretending I can’t see her is my little sister with a smile on her face.

She stepped out in front of them and said, “Loco! His name was Loco, remember?” As if she knew what I couldn’t remember, and I tried to thank her, to ask her how she knew I couldn’t remember but speech had left me, at least for a while.

I lifted my head up and smiled, remembering his name now that she said it but then I remembered that she wasn’t there when I had that horse, that was a different life and how could she know? I tried to tell her that but that’s when I fell off the bones of Loco and into the water.

My old friend had brought me to an oasis that I never would have found on my own and then, his job done he left me there and was gone before I could see him leave. I would have died long before had it not been for him and I knew that for certain.

It was not very deep, but it was clean and refreshing, it hurt my skin at first because it was so dry, but I sank down about two feet before I hit the bottom, and when I stood up and let the water refresh my soul I looked for Loco and he was gone, not even waiting for a thank you.

“The world has moved on,” I croaked to no one as I sank my face back into the water.

“I thank you my friend!” I whispered and I knew he was already gone back to that field but I also knew somehow that he had heard me.

I remembered then that I had buried him there after he’d died, because it was his place, and I was remembering now how he had died.

We had known he was dying but no one knew why, and they wanted to put him out of his misery but he didn’t appear to be suffering, but he was resistant to most anything, not even I could ride him anymore, but he would walk with me and that was enough.

Then he started losing his color, it was fading early, but it also seemed as though he was disappearing from our sight, slowly being “rubbed out” by some unseen hand.

When it was time and he knew it, he came for me, making noises outside my window until I woke and saw him out there, it was about midnight and I was hard to wake, but as soon as I saw him I knew I needed to go outside and snuck away while everyone else slept.

I walked him to his place, though it was miles from the ranch I didn’t want to ride him, I didn’t know if he could have carried me in the state he was in, but it took all the rest of the night just to get there.

When we got there, he fed on the grass and I noticed how thin he had become, though I fed him everyday and talked to him or brushing his coat as he fed. Then he lay down on his side, which was something he would never do before, and he went to sleep with his head on my lap.

Now the feeling to drink was overwhelming. Long cool gulps of the water would have killed me and it took all my strength to hold back and take small sips, I just hoped the cool water would not be too much of a shock to my system and that it was clean enough to drink.

It was not easy with my tongue so swelled but did the best I could. Then I leaned my head back and laughed at the sun “not today!” I croaked.

The laughter sounded like old parchment being rustled and sounded so horrible I thought there was someone else there and started looking around.

I felt the fool for letting someone sneak up on me but I realized I was alone. My head spun again and I passed out, floating on my back in the water.

When I woke again, I was back in the city. I tried to sit up and the room spun around me again. I was too weak, but I managed to turn my head and she was lying there, as usual she was sleeping in one of my shirts.

Her beauty struck me again, her hair obscuring her face yet her beauty showed thru.

I watched her sleeping and envied being able to sleep like that. Even as she slept, I felt drawn to her. I had the strongest urge to kiss her, but needed to get to the bathroom too, and I didn’t want to start something I couldn’t finish so the bathroom won.

I forced myself to sit up by closing my eyes and going slowly, making sure I didn’t wake her yet, twice I had to stop and put my head between my knees, and I almost fell on my face, but slowly I found the strength to get on my feet again, though it seemed like hours.

The other thing was, I wasn’t sure how I must look either and wanted to check that before I scared her.

There was a newspaper on the counter. I stopped to read it, not just because I wanted to know the latest, but because the edges where the paper was held while being read looked as if they were scorched or burnt somehow in the shape of someone‘s fingers.

Not enough that most people would notice, but because of things I had seen and lived thru, I saw them for what they were and though it almost looked like smudges, it was clearly burned, I put it close to my face and could smell it.

I opened to the front page and there were a few blurred pictures of him there, taken from the video that man taken. Underneath that the caption said, “Have you seen this man?” Then a number to call for anything you might know about him, a reward was being offered and anonymity promised.

I could see that he was still wearing that hood, and it still seemed as if the area where his face was a few shades darker than the area around him, and most of the frames were taken from his right side but two, and in the second one I felt again that he was smiling at me, not at the camera or the man that held it, but at me again.

There was a story about the man that had shot the film there too. He was a local man who had made his name by going about the neighborhood and filming drug dealers selling to kids, prostitutes selling their wares on the corner, things like that. He was making a valiant effort to clean up his neighborhood when everyone else would complain but look the other way when they saw things happening, he was one of the few that actually tried to do something about it. Even though he had gotten beaten up a few times, he wouldn’t quit and was still at it when he came across what he thought would make him famous. In a way, he was right, but I doubt this was how he had thought about it then.

He started telling others where he was going and what he thought he might see in case something happened to him, and that was how they got this much of his story.

He had seen this stranger in his neighborhood a few times and knew he didn’t fit there, so he followed from a distance and was about to give up, thinking that this was just someone passing thru when he realized now who he had been following.

He lost him a few times and then found him again and was trying to get a good facial shot so they could catch this guy.

But no one knew anything after that, because he had gone insane and they couldn‘t get anything out of him.

There was not much new about the stranger though. A bigger reward had been established; neighborhood watches were being set up.

A few other deaths had occurred, but since they were violent in nature but not involving fire, they went mostly unnoticed.

They were dismissed as unrelated, but I knew somehow that they were very much related I put the paper down and walked to the bathroom as I thought about that.

I was just now realizing that as I was transferring between that world and this that was getting better at remembering what was happening to me.

I felt as if my enemy was now teaching me things, maybe to make it easier to find me, since I was sure he wouldn’t be helping me, but I felt I hadn’t learned a lot about him except that he was determined to kill me.

As I stood before the mirror, it was a good thing I did remember where I had been this time, because I never would have recognized the face looking back at me.

My eyes had shrunk into my head, and I looked pale and scraggly. My lips and skin were still blistered and peeling, and my hair looked shaggy and dirty, and I really badly needed a haircut.

But my body, which was never really athletic in the first place, now looked like it just hung over my bones which were sticking out all over. I could count my ribs. I wondered about what had happened here last night but dismissed it, thinking I need a shower and a shave right away, before she woke and saw me taking inventory.

I looked into the shower; it was a separate room from the bathroom, with a glass wall separating the two rooms. I entered the shower part and it was huge, with two showerheads, one on each end.

For a while I stood under the water and let it flow over me, washing away what must have seemed as layers of dirt along with the aching feeling that seemed to be fading from my tired body.

I let the hot water wash the soreness away and then I looked around and there was a stone bench built into the wall so I sat down and pulled the showerhead so I could sit and feel the water running over my body from there, somehow that felt as if it were the best thing for me right then, the sensation revitalizing me.

I closed my eyes and tried to relax, to think about how things had been going and what I could do, I wanted to find out why this guy was after me, but also what was going on with the burnings. I knew they were related now, but I still could not figure out if it was Nemrul doing the burning or someone with him, but I knew he had a part in it.

“I use that bench to wait while the conditioner sets in,” she said as she stepped in with me.

I hadn’t even heard her coming, and yet there she was, naked and beautiful and so damn smart, what a lethal combination.

She could see what I was thinking when I saw her and had the same crooked little grin that reminded me of my own.

I was amazed that she didn’t notice the haggard look about me. Either she didn’t see it or acted as if it was normal. I began to wonder what “normal” was for me now.

I looked at the ground and saw the dirt still flowing off my body, yet she either didn’t see it, or she didn’t care because she never reacted to it, she kept looking into my eyes and watching me.

I felt that my movements were slow and stiff from being out there so long, and yet se hardly seemed to notice anything, which was I suppose a blessing of sorts.

Then she moved closer to me until she stood in front of me and I saw she had a razor and some shave cream. ”Do you mind?” she asked sweetly.

I had seen this being done in movies all the time and I liked the idea, so I stuck my chin up a little, knowing I would enjoy it.

This might have been a test of my trust and her skills with a razor. I was ready for anything right then.

All of a sudden my lips weren’t chapped because when I smiled as I waited it didn’t hurt a bit.

She smiled back at me, maybe sensing a little nervousness and said “relax, this won’t hurt a bit” and we both laughed again. It felt good to laugh, especially when I was with her.

I enjoyed that shave more than any in my life, she was really careful and took her time, and she kept stopping to admire her work.

“Every time you do that, I think you slipped and I’m bleeding to death! ”I said to her with a laugh.

She laughed at that and told me “I’m just being careful here honey, and making sure I’m getting it all.”

It was the most fun I had while shaving in my life, most of the time it was just me looking into a mirror and seeing my own face looking back at me, and that wasn’t much fun for me.

As I realized that, I reached for her and pulled her close. Forgetting about everything else, I kissed her mouth smearing some of my shave cream on her face.

As I did, I reached down and squeezed her ass in my hands. At that point, we forgot all about shaving me and made love again. The bench sure was helpful to me because I was not sure if I could stand, but I had to have her.

She moved close to me, putting her arms around my neck and kissing me harder now as I entered her.

I had to admit that I liked this shower and planned to spend as many mornings with her as I could on this bench.

After we made love, I washed her hair and she washed mine, somehow she could not see the layers of dirt that fell out of there, or she was better at ignoring things than I was.

I found myself waiting for the other shoe to fall because this was all too much good at once. I didn’t want to be the emperor, found naked and wanting, but since thinking about that interfered with our lovemaking; I decided to enjoy it while I could.

After we dried each other off, we decided to make breakfast together. That turned out to be fun too, as we worked around each other well and liked a lot of the same things for breakfast.

That morning we had eggs over medium, spicy sausage, potatoes extra crispy and dry wheat toast, coffee and orange juice.

After breakfast she left for what I assumed was work, she gave me a kiss at the door and told me to make myself comfortable.

I was bored quickly and decided to look around as much as I could without prying into her personal things. I was tempted to check out her lingerie but I thought those would be a nicer surprise later, when she would be in them.

I remembered that my mother used to keep “special things” in there, like love letters or poems that she liked, cards she had been given over the years that were special to her, so I wondered if Erika had one too, but then I realized I had already seen hers too and sat down heavily. But I also didn’t want to get into her secrets because I felt good knowing she trusted me this much.

I really wanted to get to know her better, but on her terms more than my own, because I knew that rushing at her would scare her off, as it would me if it were the other way around, and the other thing that was nagging at me was her safety, I didn’t want her to meet my enemy, and yet I had a strong sense that maybe she had, by the singed pages of the newspaper, her interest in the story, but then everyone was interested in that one, so that told me nothing.

I let that go for a while and went back to exploring her home, where she lived in the now.

I found a solarium in the middle of the house, and it was beautiful, so serene and it held such a feeling of peace and tranquility this area that I felt as if my pulse had slowed a bit when I passed thru the doorway.

It was situated so that if you walked along its outer edges, you could enter from almost any room in the house, and even the bathrooms had a door that led to here, with a curtain for privacy in some areas that you could draw back and open the door to enjoy it.

I also noticed that even though every other room in the house, including each of the bathrooms had a phone in them, that the solarium didn’t, it must have been one her sanctuary from the world, her peaceful escape from what went on outside those doors.

When those doors were closed you couldn’t hear anything from the next room, let alone the noise on the street; which seemed far removed from this room.

I had to admit that I liked the tranquility of that room the best, and that someone that would think of something like this while either building her house or searching for the perfect place to grow roots was someone worth knowing better and spending time with, maybe even the rest of my life.

I remembered what had happened the last time I was thinking those thoughts and kept them to myself this time, though in truth, she did seem softer now, and easier going except when she fought, and since she wasn’t fighting me I thought meant she was more comfortable with me as well.

There were lots of green ferns and plants there, and in the middle of it all was a waterfall that seemed to come thru the roof, though I knew that had to be some kind of illusion I couldn’t see the top of it after it past thru the ceiling.

In front of the waterfall were a series of benches and coffee tables so you could sit and read or have drinks there.

Then I noticed a light switch, I flicked it on hoping I wouldn’t set off the alarms or something and the roof retracted to a secondary roof made of some kind of Plexiglas, and thru that you could see the moon and a lot of stars, it was a perfect little garden of Eden.

The rest of the house was nice, I liked her choices and styles of furniture, she had done a lot of things I might have done had this been my place.

I noticed that she had lots of pictures but none of a family, and there were not pictures in every room, but the ones that did have pictures were covered with them.

Most of them were scenes of the ocean, the mountains and things like that. Lots of lighthouses that were taken from all over the world.

No action scenes such as someone skiing down a slope or driving a fast car, though there were some interesting surf scenes in her bathroom.

I could see that she had liked the Polynesian look in furniture and some of the rooms, the pictures in that room mostly of waterfalls, the long and free-falling type that you might find in Hawaii or maybe Fiji.

The ones of the mountains were in a study that seemed more suited to a man’s style though, lots of wood paneling and overstuffed chairs, and there was a computer in that room and it was on, so I thought I would see her wallpaper, which always tells me a lot about what other people are really like.

Every time I saw anyone else’s wallpaper I could always find the truth about them, no matter how clever they had been, it was like the lingerie drawer.

When I flicked the mouse and the screen opened, there was a dark background; you couldn’t even see the icons or any kind of toolbar so I thought that maybe the monitor was turned off, though it had flickered a moment ago, white and then dark blue and now it was blank.

As I reached for the switch to turn it on, it flashed a brighter white and then went dark again, in that brief flash you couldn’t see much, it was the same intensity and brilliance as if it was a bolt of lightning, but your eyes were drawn to a spot at the very base of the screen, there was something there, something revealed and yet hidden until it was ready for you to see it.

I waited for it to repeat, and got impatient and reached again for the mouse, it flashed again, and this time I could hear the thunder and then see the lightning, but I was still looking at the mouse and missed it, because it flashed much quicker and closer.

It seemed to be set up to react to movement, and I wondered if this was security device or something like that, but every time it flashed, the object on the bottom became closer and a little larger, clearer to see at those points.

I sat back a little, intimidated by this plastic and glass bundle of wires and chips and waited this time, wishing I had my guns. Then it flashed again, and it stayed bright and easy to see this time.

I had to laugh at first because I was actually afraid of what I would see there, I thought that somehow it would be my pursuer and this was going to be the showdown or the next round at the least.

But as I read what it said there, I realized that it was not just a saying or “thought for the day” but it was something she believed from deep inside, it was her reminder of what had been in this world, of what had happened and what she never wanted to forget about, never wanted to relive yet didn’t want to let go of. It was a one sentence indictment of all the men she had ever known all of her life, short and to the point, it said:

Men are evil enough without the devil whispering in their ears


Then it went black again, so I never saw her wallpaper because the screen saver told me all I needed to know, and it was too eerie with all the other things I knew so I left that room in a hurry, never turning my back on that computer. In the next room were a few pictures here and there, and one those struck me the same as a bolt of lightning.

In the center of that room there was a fireplace that dominated the room but for the picture hung above it.

A picture of a horse, but not just any horse, and as I looked at it, I knew it was taken of Loco, eating his grass, and the valley behind him was unmistakable. I wondered if this was something she bought or if she took this picture herself and when and where that was, because when I was with Loco, he was about the same age and height as he was in this picture, which could mean she knew him before I did, or she took this picture after I knew him, and since I knew him until he died, I wondered where she was when this was taken.

There was another of her, sitting on a beach chair on some remote vacation spot with dark glasses and a hat, even one of her flying a Beech craft and I wondered who was behind the camera.

I could tell she had spent a lot of time making her home as she wanted it to be, comfortable and all “her” and I liked her style.

There was a swimming pool in the back, and it was also surrounded by a lush green setting, lots of huge boulders and waterfalls, as I got closer I realized that it was actually three pools, one fed into the other until you got to the bottom one, which was smaller and warmer, and was set back for privacy. I had to admit that I wondered how much time she spent in that one and was she alone.

Thru the entire house there were lots of colors that blended well and played off each other, she let the colors set the tone for what the room needed to be.

Each room seeming to have it’s own theme or setting. She had this off pink tone in one of her bedrooms, which I guess was the only feminine touch in that house.

But it seemed more for a sixteen-year old girl because there were lots of things from “Happy Days” and the Fonz, as well as “ American Graffiti” so maybe she just liked Ron Howard but then, who didn’t?

Some sections of her home were modern, with lots of steel furniture, others were covered with wood so it wasn’t too “girly” but thru it all she had lots of nice touches.

Other rooms were simple and basic but the kitchen was huge, all the appliances were built into the wall and spread out over the entire room to conserve space, though there was plenty of room in there, with a large butcher-block table in the middle and pots and pans hanging from above that. The floor was white tile and spotless, the sink a deep ceramic type with a long-necked faucet.

“She likes her toys,” I laughed, and for the first time in such a long time it seemed, my laugh sounded normal.

She had a huge TV with a hidden sound system so loud that the neighbors would move away and over stuffed chairs that you could sink into, a fully-stocked bar at one end and a view of the back of the house from there.

I went to that door and looked out and was surprised to see it led to deep woods that you could explore from her back door, and I felt they looked a bit familiar in a scary way, as if they reminded me of something bad, but I couldn’t quite remember what it was.

I found out she had a home gym set up and worked out in there for a while, finding a routine that was comfortable and not too hard on my bones.

After that, I took another shower which was not as much fun as the first time, but still felt good and then I went for a walk, still having that nagging feeling as if something was wrong gnawing at the back of my head.

As I was walking, I passed a storefront and caught a glimpse of myself. I still had some red spots on my face from the sunburn, but they were fading now and almost gone, it was almost as if I saw them because I knew they were there, maybe that was why she didn’t see it, but I still felt I looked haggard and worn and as though I had aged ten years in the last few days.

I started thinking about her again, and I had to smile. I knew I was in love because I couldn’t keep her out of my thoughts for long.

I was worried now that I would “transfer” back and forth at any time without warning and that scared me a little, but since it was something that had already happened I knew it was possible and had to keep it in mind, I didn’t yet know how to control it or if that was even possible.

That I was scared was a new experience too, because before her, I never felt scared, it didn’t really matter because I was the only one I had to look out for.

Being careful was both good and bad, but I knew that being careful could get you killed too.

Still, I had to admit thinking that exploring with her for the rest of my days would not be a bad thing, getting to know her other side, the softer side that she was letting me see at small part of at a time, I wasn’t sure how many days I had left with her though.

I had been on my own for so long, this was a new way to think for me. I had never minded being alone either, since there was only one person to clean up after and look out for, and until now I preferred it that way.

I was trying not to read too much into what we have though, not sure what was something I wanted to see there, and what was real. I fell into that trap the first time and it had cost me, so I wanted to be clear before I talked about love and marriage, kids and a family, wow. I was becoming my father.

This time was different though, it felt so much better because it was not all demanding and insisting and more like “give and then give some more” and this made things easier for both of us.

I didn’t know if that would change, because this was all new to me, but wasn’t in a hurry to find out. Instead, I this time I planned on enjoying it while I could and not look too deeply into it until I was sure.

I also had this feeling she was protecting me from something but had no idea what either, and I had already forgotten what Samuel had told me about her.

I hadn’t realized that all the transferring had started when I met her, that would have helped me to put things in the right perspective, but for now it was a good thing.

“Too many outside things cloud the mind,” I thought to myself. I had learned that somewhere but didn’t remember where.

I laughed out loud again but it was a nervous laugh remembering she was the one that had saved my ass three times now, from my enemy and then from the desert. More and more I began to see that she was a part of this after all, yet I hadn’t seen how or why.

As I thought about that, I turned a corner and found myself back in the water again, floating on my back.

I opened my eyes and saw two really huge “birds” circling above me. I was reminded of the cartoons where one vulture tells the other to “ Go down there and see if it’s dead yet” and I smiled.

As I stood up in the water, there were two more of them even closer, and they flew off as I turned my head towards them, seemingly angry that I was still alive and not their next meal.

I saw them looking back as they flew away and could swear I heard them curse at me, one of them looking back with one human eye and the other an empty black dot like birds I knew before. Green and red flashed thru its “human” eye and then I thought he spit down at me in his anger.

I wondered how that came about for the second time. I could not shake the feeling that this “world” had been hastily thrown together for my own benefit, but I still couldn’t understand why.

I looked around, and found the water skins, I knew I had to get going soon, feeling that it was important and not to linger any more than was needed.

But my burns were healed for the most part and the water was already calling me back again.

Whatever ka had in store for me was ahead and I wasn’t going to find out here and I didn’t want to be caught off guard.

My clothes were already dry from the desert heat, although the sun was setting and it had cooled some.

I looked in that direction, knowing I was supposed to get where the “sun kissed the sand” and that it might be my end, but there was some things you just had to do, no matter what it might have held for you, it could not be avoided. “If it was easy anyone could do it” I thought to myself, a little louder than I meant to.

I looked again towards the sun and had to sit down and catch my breath. Instead of the bright yellow orb I expected to see hanging there, it was now a huge angry red boil.

I felt it was filled with menace and anger in it’s bearing, that was it’s fuel and sustenance and now it seemed to sweep over the hot sand until it found me, the feeling of fingers probing into my mind again coming over me.

I didn’t understand why, but I got the impression the anger it felt was as if it had been cheated of something, but I had no way to know for sure.

I looked in that direction again, and now it was gone, though it was still hot. I felt that the sun was trying to hide this from me when it burned so brightly a moment ago. I hoped that if that was true, the reason it hid what was there from me was because who ever was in charge here at the moment wanted me to go the other way, and being somewhat of a rebel all my bohemian life, I resisted the order and went anyway.

Now I could see there were mountains in the distance. Close enough to see they had green in them, which meant cooler climate and maybe water, but also enough give me a change of scenery and that was always something to look forward to.

I set off in that direction, feeling the weight of full water skins on resting on my shoulders and taking some comfort in that as I walked. In no time at all I had developed a rhythm to my walk, the skins bouncing gently off my thigh.

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Graphic Novels
writing Bluez
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Published Date
11/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Published In
Publish America