PATRICK HEARS VOICES, CHAPTER 36 - 42 , 11-20-13, NaNoWriMo
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CHAPTER THRITY SIX
Indra drove down the wide highway cutting through the foothills west of Denver. By El Rancho, she could think a little more clearly, but she was still feeling a little blown open, strangely lost.
Valerie had been waiting for her, when Indra had returned from her day at the office. Val had looked stern, angry, as she often did these days. She made me sit, just like a kid, Indra thought. I should have known what was up. She hit the steering wheel, opened the window, and let the wind ruffle her dreads.
Indra was going to the Light House tonight for the solstice. That Indra had not followed through with doing the solstice festival at the DC had actually led to the break up, it turns out. Ironic, Indra thought. She values none of it, but still, she had to put her two cents into it all.
Valerie had told her she needed to move out. She said she couldn't take how Indra was “spinning her wheels with this garbage,” and had “put up” with Indra's spiritual pursuits, what Valerie disdainfully called “your hobby,” because she saw a potential for Indra a make some very significant money. She'd urged Indra to branch out, market, sell, sell sell, and at first, Indra enjoyed it. Her beauty opened doors for her that her ideas did not. She'd charmed a lot of people into the Temple, but that's not what made them come back. Indra knew that. Valerie was, sadly, blind to it.
And then Kevin told her he wasn't sure he was ready for what he sheepishly called, “a bigger audience.” She'd felt wrong about expanding so suddenly. She'd gotten used to the small group at the Temple, and wanted to be selective with who joined. Something, it seemed, Valerie took as something like a deal breaker. Indra thought it might blow over, if Valerie could ever find anything that made her happy. But it never did.
And now it was over.
She had an overnight bag in the back of the bug. As she turned onto 6th Avenue, running straight and true into the heart of Denver, she smiled, turned on the radio, and began to think that maybe things were actually pretty ok. This wasn't the end of the world, she thought. Just the world as she'd known it so far.
She loved hotels, and idly wondered if it might be good to just stay at the Brown Palace for a couple of nights. It was Thursday. It would be fun to walk to the office from her hotel, she thought. Just for the weekend. She smiled, then, and felt an unfamiliar calm. She knew enough to lean back, lean into it, and let it carry her into the city. Valerie really doesn't know what she's missing, thought Indra. Just then, a song came on KBCO. Indra drove through the evening traffic singing, “If you're sinking like a stone, or you're sinkin' like a stone, Carry o – o – o – on,” breathing better, feeling better, ready for whatever came next.
CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN
There was a gold Ford Focus in her driveway, when Bernie returned from her gambling excursion. She wondered what sort of shape Daniel was going to be in. “Jet lagged,” Bernie said to herself, resolving to stay on the first floor of her house and let him sleep until they had to leave for Ellie and Bill's.
She had told Daniel of her compulsion to gamble, before he'd left for his last book tour. It had been three months of Skype sex, but they'd gotten through. She only craved the slot machines when he was gone, and it had been such a strong, sudden compulsion, it really hadn't been too hard to figure out.
Daniel had been especially tender to her, after she'd told him, hesitantly, about how she felt drawn up there when he was gone. She felt an odd ache run through her, as she got out of her car. She wanted nothing more than to go up to her room and crawl into bed with Daniel, just spoon him and stay quiet, breathe with him, get into his rhythm, or he into hers, as was usually the case. Her body longed for him, as she turned the key, hearing her dog stir and begin to try to bark, behind the door. A rescue dog that sounded like a squeaky toy, that was her dog, Ed.
She greeted him, thankful that he was a relatively noiseless creature, feeling the house as quiet, holding stillness.
Ed followed her into the kitchen. She wanted the last piece of cheesecake, praying Daniel hadn't gotten into the fridge before passing out.
She turned on the light, and found Daniel sitting at the table.
“Lordy, you surprised me, Daniel,” Bernie said. “Tell me why you are sitting here, my love. Are you ok?” She walked to him and enfolded him in her arms. “I missed you so much,” she said. Then, she straightened up and asked him questions, how was the flight, when did he get home, how was the rental.
He took her hand and gestured for her to sit across from him at the table. He was smiling, which decreased the freak out factor, but this was, Bernie thought, very weird.
Daniel looked fresher than she'd expected. After a European tour, he was usually out of commission for at least a few days, in bed, “my travel bug,” he called it.
Once she was settled, he said, “I've missed you too, dear Bernie. My dear old friend.” He ran his finger down one of hers, an intimate act, and both of them could feel that old familiar fire start to kindle again.
“Bernie, I called Ellie this afternoon, and was sitting here, you then see, quite purposefully,” Daniel said, like the college professor he once was. “I wanted to be the first thing you saw when you got home. I needed to talk to you first thing.”
Daniel retracted his right hand from their embrace, and explored an inner coat pocket. Perpetually dressed for a lecture, Bernie thought. She particularly liked this coat. Boldly blue, more blue than a navy coat should be, it was just as vibrant as his intellect. Soft. He told her it had set him back two grand, tailored in a little village in Italy he'd visited once.
He brought a small ring box out, and placed it on the table.
He said, “You'll forgive me, I hope, for not having asked you the obvious earlier. Bernie, please consider being my wife, I your husband, dear Bernie. I think it is now time to be equals in the same city, my love. I knew it when I saw this ring, but I knew it, was certain of it first, when you told me about this gambling thing, before I left.”
He studied her, smiled, and asked, “How much did you come home with today?”
“Just shy of a grand,” Bernie said. “Ellie and I cleaned up. It was a clean grand, but I got snacks at the gas station in the canyon. I went a little crazy.”
She picked up the ring box, and found inside what she could only describe as the one that she'd hoped she would one day wear. Not a girly-girl, Daniel seemed to know that there was, still, a delicately female being within Bernie. This ring was all antique lace, pave diamonds, intricacy and understated brilliance. It was amazing, and its center stone was breathtaking. “Daniel,” She said, “This is, oh...” She broke off, putting it on, “Oh, Daniel, you outdid yourself. In every way, my friend. Yes,” she murmured. She repeated, this time a declaration, an intent, a knowing, “Yes, Daniel. Yes.”
CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT
Kevin stood in front of his bathroom mirror, and had to admit, he would be glad to be done with this living situation.
As he shaved, he felt a sour sort of disappointment in himself, something that had been haunting him the last few weeks. “I'm forty two,” he announced to his mirror. The number floated there, unpunctured by outside noises.
Then there was a big bang, and within moments, deep bass notes started rumbling through his tiny bathroom. The tenant above him was into reggae, and liked it loud. Kevin hadn't made a dent, fielding complaints with polite admonitions. He shaved being serenaded with Bob Marley wailing “No Woman, No Cry.” Kevin would have preferred something more mellow.
His kitchen was little more than a ship's galley, and he'd had to use the adjacent room to store cereal boxes, cans, and even his plates. “This is no way for a grown man to live,” he said, as he went through a pile of clothes, all worn, most only once. He found his least stained pants, and a shirt that wasn't too covered in cat hair, and then put on his shoes.
He'd been told by the building's owners, an elderly couple still trying to manage an ambitious rental empire, that they'd just sold their homes to a corporation. Ira told him Kevin could expect he would be interviewed by the new management next week, but Ira had taken Kevin aside and told him to “not hold your breath.” Ira had done some digging, and found out that none of this company's buildings had live-in management, Ira told Kevin. “The writing is on the wall,” Ira had said. Ira'd called Kevin Yiddish names, mensch, especially, and kept saying “these new ones, tsuris, I told Doris, but does she listen?” He'd used that word tsuris like a swear word. Kevin had no idea what it meant, but got the feeling Ira had done him a big favor, speaking to him in private as he had. Doris was a sour, fussy woman, and the two barely tolerated each other, it always seemed to Kevin.
Kevin made his way through his cramped basement apartment, petted his cat Jinx, and hesitated at the front door. He looked back, into his dark apartment, some of its general disrepair due to his lack of love for the place, he knew, and he thought, I need to channel tonight. It's time to get some answers.
CHAPTER THIRTY NINE
Bill was sanding a huge block of wood when his cell phone rang. The vibration woke him out of the hypnosis sanding induced, and he noticed it was a call from an unfamiliar area code.
“Hello?” he said.
“Dad?” Melinda asked, a little panicky, she thought. “Dad, can you talk?”
Even though all the kids knew that their parents always talked with one another about everything, still the kids asked each of them to hold secrets. Bill told her yes, and asked her to tell him what was wrong.
She'd been calling him more frequently. The first time she'd called in crisis had been, Bill remembered, the first time Patrick had stayed any length of time at the house, documentary day, Ellie called it.
She'd called him drunk, more than once, and then, then next day, apologetic and, usually, quite shaken.
Bill had told Ellie about the trouble, knowing she'd be able to relate. She'd overcome a fondness for wine, and it hadn't come easy to her. But she'd chosen to drink, and heal, privately, the kids never party to her problem. Ellie and Bill agreed that whoever any of the kids calls is fine. Best they call at all, if they are in need.
Melinda was a beautiful girl, off to New York at 17, modeling, mainly for European fashion magazines, ever since. Three years was, she told her dad, a long time for anyone to model. She started talking like this during her months in Barcelona. She'd begun to call at all times of the day, altered, and increasingly anxious, suspicious, at times.
Bill began to wonder if his baby was perhaps slipping away from reality, here just lately. And now, here she was on the phone, sounding scared.
“Melinda, where are you,” Bill asked.
Ellie came into the studio then, took a chair in the sun. Smiling, she'd gestured for Bill to continue as if she weren't there.
“I'm in Chicago, Daddy,” Melinda said. “I'm coming home. I know it's sudden, but, daddy,” she said, “I can't do it anymore. I can't do any of it anymore. Daddy,” her voice broke then. He waited as she gained her composure, telling her then that he'd meet her at the airport, to check her ticket, “Just tell me the airline, Melinda. Can you see a Flight Number on the ticket, dear?”
He could sense her gaining control, focusing. Her breathing slowed, and she didn't sound so panicky. She read off numbers, and Bill wrote them on his hand with a Sharpie, the only pen that had been handy. She was calmer now, complained that her head was hurting, and didn't have long before her flight took off.
Her hand was shaking as she hung up the phone. She'd be in her own bed by bedtime. “Home,” Melinda said. She felt awful, but looked forward to a nap on this flight. She wanted to be left alone. She;d be seeing her mom and dad in just a few hours. She was already sleepy.
Bill hung up and looked at Ellie. He'd been keeping Ellie up to date with Melinda. Ellie wondered if any of this had to do with Melinda's boyfriend, talked about a boyfriend, Yakob, he'd been told, an Israeli here on a Visa, rich, devoted to Melinda, she said. They'd been dating for six months. Melinda never willingly admitted she was having problems. She'd always had been this way. It had been endearing in girlhood, but became harder to watch, as she stretched into her version of adulthood. Of all their kids, Melinda was the simplest, in many ways. She trusted readily, and seemed to have trouble sensing when people didn't have her best interests at heart. Naive, Bill thought, and a knock out. It had been a tricky combination, for her, and for her parents.
They'd let her fly free, absent as she'd become to her studies in high school. She'd always wanted to be a star, and preened constantly, something the other kids teased her mercilessly for.
Ellie was glad to hear her baby was coming home. She'd been worried for Melinda. Bill asked if her room needed anything before she came home. “Just check the lamps, would you?” Ellie asked. “One of those rooms has two burned out bulbs, but I can't remember which one.”
Bill ruffled Ellie's hair, hugged her, and thought of how keen Ellie was, so able to see into people, their inner workings, and yet she rarely knew what day of the week it was. “God love her,” Bill said to himself, walking hand in hand with his beloved wife, into the house, another day's work put to rest.
Since moving into the Light House, Patrick had become a very good cook. Ellie and Bill called him great, but Patrick knew there were things he dared not yet do with cooking. He found it stress reducing, and soothing, doing the things he could do in the kitchen, and he liked that he got to eat his creations.
Ellie had been surprised with Patrick's versatility as a cook. Bill let him cook more and more often. Bill had stuck around to answer questions Patrick had about some of the finer points of cooking, but it was a very natural thing, for Patrick, as natural as football, or math, or understanding the things he learned from Ellie. In the weeks he'd lived with them, Patrick had he taken notice of the dishes that went over well, and those that didn't.
Ellie was overwhelmed, as she was led by Patrick to the different cooking projects he'd done for this meal. Each and every dish had been the resounding successes, the stuff Bill and Ellie had told each other they wanted to start requesting Patrick make, the meals had been so good. All their favorites were there.
Bill rolled up his sleeves, washed his hands, and volunteered to help Patrick with the finishing touches. Patrick asked Ellie if she'd set the table.
Ellie went into the dining room and found it had been prepared expertly, tastefully. It looked more stunning the tables Judy used to lay, when she lived with them.
There was an envelope on one of the place settings, one word on scrawled in a childish hand on the envelope, “Ellie.”
Ellie took the envelope into the cabin, shut the french doors, turned on the space heater, and opened a window.
“Dear Ellie,” the letter began.
“I'm not good with words, and am just now seeing that being open, like you guys are, might be a better way for me to live. I have been lonely for a long time, Ellie. I told you once I didn't have a right to feel that way. But, since living with you guys, I think I did have a reason to feel that bad.
I can't ask you this in person. I'm not sure what will happen, asking, but I kind of feel like it is ok to do. If I'm wrong, please be nice to me anyway.
My dad's left me alone, and that's not a surprise to you, I know, but me being ok with it is. I don't feel like his kid. I sort of feel like an investment he made.
I don't feel that way with you and Bill. I feel like one of your kids.
So, on this solstice, instead of burning my hopes or blocks or whatever, I'm going to tell you my secret. I think you are some sort of mom of mine. I feel that way about Bill, like he's a dad.
My solstice wish is to be able to call you mom and dad. Just around the house, maybe, I don't know, but, I figured out, this is a wish that couldn't come true unless I say words. I wanted to ask you this way. I hope that's ok.
Patrick Augustus Sweet”
Ellie pulled the letter to her chest, and she breathed in the summer air, and this newest love. She smiled, and could feel that overwhelming heat surge through her. Looking out at the traffic, she imagined herself once again like a surging, bright white pillar of light. She could hear her light crackle. She imagined what it must have been like, just then, to have been burned at the stake. “This is the fire the legends speak of,” she felt, heard, in some non-auditory way, words coming to her whole, full blocks of information, sometimes, but now, for now, just words, “Invoking the fire which cannot consume, the friend of the witch, the pagan, the wise woman,” she heard the knowledge like a physical throb. “You are charged with creating, not destroying, community this lifetime. Gone are the days of a community devoured by ignorance.”
She closed her eyes, and saw the Light House, her Light House, but it was somehow bigger, now, and there was a parking lot. There were flags. It was night,and there were so many floors, some little squares of windows lit, groups of people meeting, teaching each other, laughing, she saw, inside.
“Honey?” Bill was at the door.
She turned and looked at Bill.
“I'm here. What's up?”
“Judy's here,” Bill answered.
Old shaman that she was, that she had been, she knew that Judy had come for another fix, another balancing, another healing.
“Where is she?” Ellie asked. “Is she ok?”
Judy poked her head in, just as she had the day she'd told Ellie of her decision to leave.
“How've you been?” Judy asked happily.
Ellie was up, then, smiling and approaching Judy as she always had, grateful to see her face, feeling Judy's innocence and her troubles as her own, seeing Judy as a friend, struggles and all.
CHAPTER FORTY ONE
“I'm not sure how it's going to go tonight,” Kevin was telling Indra, in the pantry off the mud room. They'd been tasked with fetching chips, paper products and a six pack of Coke, the last for Patrick.
“What do you mean?” Indra asked. “I've never channeled, you know? Can you tell if it's not strong, or something? My mom never talked to me about it. Kind of shroud it in mysteries, you know?” Indra asked. She was suddenly aware how nervous she was around Kevin.
“Well, it's sort of like that,” Kevin said. “It's more like getting out of my own way,” he explained. “It's easier to do that around strangers, I think.” Kevin found the chips and pointed Indra to the paper plates. “I just need to disengage, and I’m wondering how easy it'll be with this audience.”
“You use that word a lot,” Indra said, “about when you channel,” Indra said. They emerged from the pantry and returned to the kitchen. They drifted, together, to the foyer, and then went onto the porch.
Kevin lit a Lucky Strike, offered one to Indra, shook her head and then pulled a black pack of clove cigarettes from her front pocket.
Indra leaned against one of the lions flanking the porch and said, “What I see happen, week after week, Kevin,” Indra said through sweet smoke, “Is that what you do for people is individual. Everyone has a different experience. When I think of what you do, the word 'audience' doesn't seem correct. Do you follow me?”
Kevin smiled, pulled a piece of tobacco off the tip of his tongue, and said, “You're right, Indra.”
They smoked in silence. Off in the distance, Kevin watched Daniel and Bernie come up the block. Indra was looking the opposite way, facing north.
Kevin returned to Indra's face. He wondered how set she was, being with women. He thought to himself that it was just his luck, that this woman would be gay.
He wanted to tell her, ask her, reach out to her and shake her, just then. But her eyes were distant, her heart sad, he could tell. He wished it felt right to tell her how he felt. He wondered, watching Bernie scale the treacherous stairs leading up to the house, if he'd ever feel free to talk with anyone. He felt alone, just then.
He greeted Bernie and Daniel, turned to let Indra greet them. He opened the door and let them go through, following Indra, walking in the wake of her perfume. Kevin would follow her anywhere.
CHAPTER FORTY TWO
Bill, Kevin and Daniel found themselves in Bill's studio before dinner. Daniel had sought Bill out, told him the news about he and Bernie, and to celebrate, Daniel asked if Bill wanted to get high. Daniel had an encyclopedic knowledge of marijuana strains, was a connoisseur of the local growers. His last book had been on psychedelics and their role in ancient shamanistic cultures. He'd done his own field work for it, Daniel always said.
Bill suggested Kevin join them. Daniel brought out a small plastic tube and flashed its contents at Bill. At least a dozen joints, tucked in a canister that let out a pungent, skunky odor. “Ask anyone you like,” Daniel said. “I always have enough when I'm here in Colorado. You know this, Bill.” He heard the edge in his voice. He pulled out a brown cone fattened with oily herb, and left for the studio.
Bill got Kevin's attention from across the huge kitchen. Kevin excused himself, and in a few minutes, walked into the studio's thick haze of dank.
“Daniel, how've you been?” Kevin asked, before pulling on the butt-end of a joint. Kevin noticed that Daniel was looking sharp tonight, real dapper, Kevin thought.
“I'm glad to tell you I'll soon be your brother in law, Kevin,” Daniel said, smiling.
“No way,” Kevin said, shaking his head. “Bernie said yes?”
“And why would she not?” Daniel asked, just lightly enough to be taken very seriously, indeed.
“I didn't think she'd ever do it again, is all,” Kevin said.
Daniel nodded his head, “She and I have certainly had some misadventures, yes.” He sounded detached, amused. “I'd also vowed to stay far from such archaic commitments,” Daniel confirmed. “But I have been feeling my age more, lately. I sicken of my vagabond life,” he said, with his usual verbal flair. I deserve a rest, I think, now that I am established, such as I am.”
Daniel was proud of his work, but was ever aware that his theories were seen as “fringe” by many of his former colleagues.
“You guys seem to fit together,” Kevin observed.
“How big of a deal is it going to be, your wedding, do you think?” Bill suddenly asked. “There are some very unique spaces here in Denver, you can go as big or small as you want, really. It depends on how much funk you think Bernie is going to want.”
Kevin laughed, “Are you thinking about doing the wedding planning, Bill?” Kevin turned to Daniel and said, “What you probably don't know about Bill is, he's a sucker for chick flicks. What's the one with JLo and Matthew McConaghy?” Kevin asked Bill. “Wedding Planner? Wedding Something. One of his favorite movies.” Kevin took another hit, “But he'd never tell you that.”
“No, no,” Daniel laughed, “No, this is good. I have no idea what Bernie is going to be wanting,” he said, in his peculiar lilt, “But it's good to have some ideas. I don't want to do that old saw, with the woman taking over the plans. I must have input. There are some things I feel it is overdue to include in these rituals we persist in perpetuating”
“Oh, you mean like, ancient rituals and things,” Kevin asked, feeling stimulated and calm, simultaneously.
“It's a different approach, really,” Daniel said. “More maternalistic, more pagan, if you will, but, um,” he paused, coughed, “But, um, fully clothed, quite tasteful, actually. Old pagan, not Alistair Crowley pagan.”
“If I get any higher, it'll be too obvious. Who has Visine, Bill?” Kevin asked.
“”Visine?” Daniel asked. “Whatever for?”
“I'd rather not have Patrick know we're high,” Kevin said.
Bill laughed, “Oh, Kevin,” he said, “That horse has left the barn. We live together, and Ellie and I are not all that secretive anymore. We've relaxed a lot.” Bill nodded over to the furthest part of his studio. Bathed in the sunlight this studio sparkled in, Kevin noticed six huge pot plants. “It's legal, dude.”
“What about Patrick?” Kevin asked.
“”He told us, he doesn't care what we do, but he doesn't want to do any of it. He doesn't drink, either, never has.”
“Never experimented, then?” Daniel asked.
“No,” Bill said. “Patrick told us he's never used any kind of mind altering substance. Says he doesn't see the need to.”
Uncanny,” Daniel said.
“Megan was like that. So sure of herself, so solid, you know? Couldn't argue her out of that sort of thing either.” Bill took another hit and asked, “How did that happen?”
They left the studio, returned to the bustling kitchen, and within a few minutes, their plates were laden, the music was playing softly from the big stereo, and the group settled into their meal.
Kevin was hearing the voice of The All so loudly, at times, over dinner, that he had to just go silent. This was the other reason he stopped talking, at times. Sometimes it was all so intense inside, he had to tend to it, regardless of how it looked from the outside. Silence helped him.
Kevin looked around the table, once they were settled in. He saw that the group no longer wanting to fracture and regroup, change and morph. Tonight, it was a group of people, instead, who were choosing to be cohesive. Who seemed to know that the night was a significant one.
Ellie raised her glass then, got everyone's attention, and called a toast.
What followed, what this toast created, they're still talking about today.
CHAPTER FORTY THREE