Ch. 5: Take me where I need to go. Show me what I need to learn.
- Ch. 1: Science has to be right all of the time. Magic only has to be right once. Or twice.
- Ch. 2: There comes a time when a decision has to be made. Well, someone does. Ideally not me. Gotta run!
- Ch. 3: Please be careful as passengers may have shifted during flight.
- Ch. 4: This is probably going to end well.
- Ch. 5: Take me where I need to go. Show me what I need to learn.
- Ch. 6: Depth of Field
- Ch. 7: Mirror, mirror on the wall … who’s the guy behind me?
“You do realize I have no idea what’s going on, right?” I asked as we continued to look at the café as if it the credits were rolling after the film.
“Should we keep walking?” she answered my question with yet another question.
“Only if you’ll answer my questions.”
“Deal,” she said and with that, we turned away from the flickering dust particle show and strolled along the canal.
We again moved in silence and again looked into windows as if we were a couple of people walking along a canal looking into windows without a care in the world. In a sense, I didn’t have a care in the world as I felt oddly safe and at ease with Lisa. There was just that niggling little incident with the glowing marble that was at the same time something that took only a minute of my life yet I knew that it would change it forever. So, there was that.
“I don’t quite know where to start,” Lisa said as she walked and turned to walk over a tiny bridge onto yet another canal.
“Oh, I know, I know,” I mocked an eager student. “How about at the beginning?”
“I don’t know when the beginning started.”
“Oh, well, if that’s the issue … ” I trailed off, immediately regretting my constant sarcasm. “Sorry,” I continued. “I’ll be nice.” I paused. “But you know that I really don’t know what’s going on, right?”
“I know,” she said. “I’ve been there. I’ve been right where you are now.”
“So are you like a trainee? You said you’d only done this a few times,” I got up in front of her and put a finger in her face in mock anger. “Do I need to talk to your supervisor?”
She laughed and said, “Well, I have to admit, you’re taking this all quite a bit lighter than I did,” she stopped talking, but I could tell she wanted to keep going and I let her. “I was a basket case when I was contacted. I was angry and annoyed and I didn’t want any part of it.”
“I’m sorry,” I blurted out, “But could you just fill me in a little on things like part of it? Part of what?”
“I know, I’ll get there. Remember, I was there, I was as lost as you are. Please just keep that in mind and know that I’m only a few steps ahead of you and know only slightly more than you do.”
“Aha, that’s why you said you’d tell me everything!” I again joked a little too hard, but it was my only defense mechanism to deal with all of the ambiguity. “Sorry,” I said. “Again.”
“It’s OK, I completely get it.”
“Take me where I need to go. Show me what I need to learn,” I said out loud although I wasn’t sure it wasn’t only in my head.
“What did you just say?” she asked, but I don’t know which words she missed as I said it clearly and slowly. Still, I repeated it.
“Take me where I need to go. Show me what I need to learn.”
“Why did you say that?” she asked, stopping in front of me.
“I don’t know, really. It just came to me and I blurted it out,” I said. “I tend to do that rather often, I’m afraid.”
“But where did that come from? Who said that to you?”
“Someone told me that it’s what I need to ask,” I started. “But I don’t know why I just said it now and to you. But yeah, it’s not like I know anything I’m saying or doing right now,” I just kept blabbering on. “It’s not every day that I’m approached by someone with emerald green eyes that shimmer like a velvet Elvis painting and we walk around and I see things that I’ve never seen before and you think it’s all normal,” I exhaled. “Yeah, so there’s that.”
“I got everything but the Elvis painting.”
“Oh, you’re right, it wasn’t Elvis. It was Sammy Davis Junior.”
“OK, I’m completely lost.”
“In high school, a friend of mine had a Sammy Davis Junior painting in his bedroom. It was horrendous. It had this background of black velvet and there was sparkly paint that shimmered,” I said as it all came back to me so clearly. “The even cooler paintings had moving backgrounds, like, seriously moving rivers that, I don’t know how it all worked, but made it look like there was a flowing river right there in the painting. But yeah, my friend didn’t have that. No moving parts. But Sammy Davis Junior was shimmery. Man, he was awesome.”
“You have an eye for detail,” Lisa said. “And a good memory.”
“I feel that I don’t, really. Only for obscure things like a Sammy Davis Junior painting in my high school friend’s bedroom,” I thought about it for a second. “But if you asked me what I had for dinner the night before last, I wouldn’t be as sure.”
“What did you have for dinner the night before last?”
I laughed louder than I meant to, but Lisa was just too witty. How could she be so quick? How did she know about that Carlsberg beer slogan?
“What did you see in that woman with the jeans vest?” Lisa quickly interrupted my thoughts.
I wanted to answer quickly, I wanted to talk about things that were happening today, not years back. “It was like a lighted marble. It was a soft light, but glowing and somehow strong. You know those mini magnets? What are they called? They’re super strong.”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, anyway, it was like that, but not a magnet, but a light. But not super shiny like an annoying headlamp of a BMW, more soft, but I could see it from quite a ways away.”
“Hmm,” was all she said. But she continued, “Did you recognize the girl?”
“The jeans vest marble girl?”
“No,” I paused. “Should I have?”
Lisa didn’t answer. Which made me think harder. I scoured my memory, but I don’t know if I even looked at her face. I just saw the little ball behind her, then in her.
“Did I see her face?” I asked, but instantly realized I was asking something only I could know.
“Yes,” Lisa said softly and quickly.
“Oh,” I replied, but I couldn’t see it now.
“Do I know her?”
“Have I seen her before?”
I thought and I thought, but I couldn’t bring her back.
“Stop using your eyes to search through your memory,” Lisa offered. “Take Sammy Davis Junior. How did you see him?”
“Uh, my eyes.”
“Yes, but where is he now? Where is Sammy now?”
“Uh, I don’t know.”
“Yes you do.”
“Close your eyes,” she asked me and I did so.
“What do you see?”
“Sammy Davis Junior,” I said, but couldn’t keep a straight face and laughed, but kept my eyes closed.
“Move Sammy out of the way, go through the painting, through the black velvet, through the sparkly glitter.”
I wanted to make more stupid comments because that was my comfort zone. If I kept joking and making what-I-thought-were funny comments, I could avoid what was actually happening to me, to us, on the side of a canal in Amsterdam on a spring afternoon.
I went through the painting, kind of like I was sucked into it like a vacuum cleaner that was behind it. I even felt the velvet on my cheeks as I brushed by.
There she was. I wanted to call out to Lisa to tell her that I saw vest jean girl, but didn’t want to speak so as not to break the spell I was under. I felt a hand on my arm, but I kept my eyes closed.
As Lisa touched my arm, jean girl came into my mind even more clearly and a replay of what transpired earlier went through my head like an IMAX movie complete with 3D glasses and 7.1 surround sound.
I saw jean girl’s face, but it wasn’t immediately recognizable. Her face was sort of blurry, maybe it just hadn’t downloaded into my slow-rotating hard disk of a brain just yet. As I was patient, she came into focus.
I could clearly see her features, but she still wasn’t someone I knew. Or at least didn’t know well. But maybe, yes, maybe at least a faint recognition, but I couldn’t place her.
Lisa’s hand left my arm and my vision again blurred and then it was gone. I opened my eyes and Lisa was right in front of me with her eyes burning holes in mine.
“You saw her,” Lisa didn’t ask, she knew.
“Did you recognize her?”
As I was about to answer that I maybe recognized her, I realized that I had a different answer. Even as I didn’t understand it, I said it anyway.
“Yes, I did recognize her.”
“But not from my past,” I added.
“From my future,” are the words that came out of my mouth, but it didn’t feel like me who was saying them. Not just because I wouldn’t have ever said such a thing, but that I truly didn’t comprehend what the words meant.