Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Dream State (Fiction) Continuation of a novel
In this posting we learn more about Millar's charcter, and August has a trip in "dream state" to a watering hole...where a girl drowns.
Got To Run!
Allen the bartender was in one of his rare good moods. He greeted me with a wink and asked me if I wanted my usual pint of ale. I nodded with a half smile and sat next to Millar, who evidently had just finished a burger.
Wiping grease and ketchup from his chin with a stained napkin, he said, “I’ll try another one, too, please.”
I sniggered to myself and then gave Millar a serious look.
“What exactly does that mean, I’ll try another one? Was that one no good? Don’t they all taste the same? Is one bottle of stout different from every other bottle of the same brand?”
Turning to me with a slight grin on his face he said, “I’ve been trying to figure that out for years.”
“Exactly. It takes years, even for a discerning palette like mine, to adapt, conceptualize, catalogue and present findings on these matters.”
“I am so happy you're happy in your work.”
“Oh, don’t be happy for me, I hate my work. It’s a burden. I bear this only that others may not have to.”
“And when does this great volume, this tome, this wondrous work from the master of beer tasting come out?”
“Ah, I feel like shit.” Standing up, he bent at the knees. “Oh, oh!” is all he could manage. Stumbling a few steps toward the bathroom, he stopped and said, “Oh!” again and then disappeared into the head.
I turned back to the bar and said to no one, “Thanks for the drama.”
Allen stood at the end of the bar, staring at a taped soccer game.
“Hey, Al, how goes it?”
“All right,” he answered not turning away from the game.
“How about another beer for my friend, here, Al?”
“Right, coming right over.”
Allen continued to stare up at the game. I waited to see how long it was going to take for him to serve his only two customers.
Millar sat back down next to me and said, “Whew that was a close one.”
“Spare me the details.” I tapped on the bar and said, “Al, how about that beer for my friend here?”
Allen grabbed a bottle, popped it open and walked over to us. Placing the bottle in front of Millar, he leaned down and stared in my face, his buggy eyes bulging out at me.
“My name is Allen, not fucking Al! You got that? Don’t ever call me Al or tap on my bar again, you got it?” His pallor was scarlet. Huge sweat stains outlined his armpits. The veins on his neck were popped out, making him look like a great snapping turtle.
I put my hands in the air and said, "Sorry."
Swaggering back the cash register and again taking his position beneath the TV, he propped his foot up on a milk crate, elbow on his knee, and stared at the soccer game.
“What the heck was that?” I asked.
Millar just shook his head. “Too many vitamins.”
“Too many roids.”
Millar leaned in and whispered, “Don’t worry about old Allen. I got a fix on him.” Then he winked and turned toward the kitchen doorway. Manuel, the day cook looked at Millar and nodded. He then carried a ramekin perched on a small plate over to the bar.
“What’s this?” I heard Allen inquire.
“Chocolate pudding. 70% cocoa. No sugar, no dairy. Made with soy milk, just the way you say.”
Allen managed a smug smile, nodded to Manuel and turned back to his game.
Millar whispered to me, "He gets a shot of that, he’ll be cleansed for days.” A rumbling chortle rose from his chest, followed by a fit of coughing.
I squirmed on my stool. “Why would you want to do that?”
“The fucker deserves it. I had Manuel put some laxatives in there. I’ve seen my cousin do the same thing. It’s funny.”
I wasn’t laughing.
“How do I know you won’t do the same to me?” I asked.
“You aren’t a prick. Manuel can’t stand him, either. He’s a prick to the whole kitchen staff.”
“How has he managed to keep his job, if he’s so unpopular?”
“Cousin to the owner or something, I don’t know.” Millar lost some of his humor as he stared at the ramekin of laxative pudding. “Just enough to teach him a lesson.”
I took a swig of my ale. “It’s only a lesson if he knows he’s getting it and who it’s from.”
“You want me to tell him? Oh, I’ll tell him, right after his third trip to the john.”
“That’s cold, man.”
“Yeah, but ain’t life a bitch?” Millar wiped the top of his fresh beer bottle on a sleeve and took a long slug. We surreptitiously watched the ramekin for a while and finally I asked, “What can you tell me about The Fat Man, Frank?”
“I told you all I know.”
“He’s a member of an online astrology club, and that’s it?”
“I can make some inquires if you want. Ask some of the other members about him.”
“That’d be good, Mill. This guy is turning out to be a freak, and I want to know if I should just walk away.”
Mill poked me in the ribs. “Oh, shit!”
Allen dipped a spoon into the pudding. Mill rumbled into muted laughter. I got up, finished my brew, put some money on the bar and turned to Mill.
“Let me know what you find out about The Fat Man, will you?”
Mill’s attention shot back to me for a second. “Huh? Oh, yeah, the group thing. I’ll ask around.”
I thanked him, and glanced at Allen just as he placed the empty pudding container on a kitchen tray. Then I walked out of the bar.
In my darkened bedroom, I spread the yellowed newspaper on the floor in front of me and laid down on my stomach to look at it. I couldn’t shake the image of Frank lying on his bed, his fat fingers joined over his bloated belly, eyes half closed as if he’d been saturated in opiates. Images of his room, and the hallway crowded with boxes, his fat pet cat rubbing on my pant leg, flooded my mind. Momentarily lost in these images, the tinny sound of blood dripping onto the paper brought me back to awareness. As I put a finger to my nostril, a sharp jolt of pain flashed through the center of my brain. I lost my orientation, and was swept into a vision.
Surrounding me were dark shadows, back lit in a moonless night. Trees framed the outline of a wooded clearing. Children laughing and talking unintelligibly echoed through the field. The sounds of water splashing, feet kicking, and another splash informed me of the direction I would take. In front of me, shadowy forms moved on gray horizon lines. A voice called,
“Frank, stop it!”
Instantly, I was in the pond. The coolness of rippling water caressed my ears and mouth. A small face appeared in front of me. Carole? I wanted to ask, but no voice would come from my throat.
“Frank, cut it out!”
I see the girl in the water. A shadow takes her under. The water moves slowly in circles round and round the pond and I fight to stay afloat. The vortex is pulling her under. She is choking, coughing, fighting for her life. Her struggle engulfs me and I take in the same water. My mouth opens and water pours in and fills my throat and sinus, drowning my senses in her screams. I am consumed in the echoes of her struggle. Then a quiet stillness, a dark figure standing on the shore. Slowly, I swim forward where banking meets the water. He is there, looking down on me, but I cannot see his face, only a mask blackness shaped vaguely in horror and disbelief. I rise up, floating far above the pond. Water gushes from my nose and mouth and I struggle to breath. The dark figure glares at me. Ignited in ruby red, the eyes follow me as I rise above the trees, far above the field and into the cold blackness beyond.
When I awoke, my nose was still dripping blood. I rolled onto my back on the bed and put an old t-shirt to my face. The trobbing in my head was slowly dissipating and when I recovered enough from this frightening dream state, I opened my eyes and found the newspaper. Slowly I turned the pages until I stopped on the obituary section. There I found mention of a young girl who’d drowned in a back woods swimming hole near the town of Manchester, New Hampshire. She was seven years old at the time and her name was Carole Cosh. The drowning details were not listed, but at the bottom of the column it read: She is survived by her Mother, Janet, her Father, Franklin and her older brother, Frank, Jr.
Could this be another of Frank’s relatives? Was this in fact, his sister? And if she were already dead, why would Frank tell me he feared for her life?
Peter the rabbit bore no resemblance to a real rabbit beyond its long elliptical ears and buck teeth. I wasn’t even sure rabbits had buck teeth, but they fit the face well. I pulled him toward me and gently rubbed the very convincing gold colored eyes. They were smooth glass, cold and secured tightly to the face. The fur was matted on the belly and back and almost completely gone on the sides. I searched the seams for any breaks in the stitching. On back of its head, I felt for any holes, rips or tears. I found nothing out of the ordinary. The rabbit was clean. “I’ve frisked a thousand young rabbits.” I said out loud thinking, of the line spoken by the corrupt policeman in The Godfather. I held a cold cloth to my nose and wondered what had sent me off into dream land. Had it been the newspaper? Or was it Peter the rabbit doing his job, as Frank had almost predicted? Either way, for some reason unknown to me, for the first time, I was able to conjure dreams at will. Well, not really at will, pretty much whenever they wanted to come, but I was able to influence who they were about. And that was a major breakthrough.
to be continued...
Posted by Chuckh at 10:46 AM