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Book 1: Dreamself Actualized
"Nothing in your life can quite prepare you for waking up covered in blood." I paused for effect.
Five faces in the room remained calm and cool. A small attractive Asian woman carefully checked her fingernails, covered in several bright colors. The redhead checked her phone gnawing at her own fingernails. The fat man rotated slightly in his chair like a gas cover. Maevie the mouse stayed quietly in her chair like normal staring at Asian-Johnny-the-boy who sat sideways in his chair always playing some video game on a device that was only slightly different than his phone. By his expressions, he was either really good at it or really bad.
"It wasn't even your blood." The dragonlady put her hands down and crossed her legs bored.
"And you've told this story a couple dozen times." Vanessa was the redhead.
"And it was boring the first time." Simon Lee looked exactly like Johnny-the-boy from the movie Mad Max but with the asian eye thing.
"How could it have been boring the first time? Covered in blood?" James said.
"Happens to me all the time." Simon said.
"Really? All the time you wake up covered in blood?" James said.
"It happens to me every month like clockwork." Vanessa dropped that sweet bomb.
"Me too, but not like a clock, more like a rat in my gut ripping his way out my vage." Maevie piped in her two cents and peas.
They were all in a basement of the local YMCA. It used to be a church, so it had that smell. The chairs were cheap plastic jobs with shiney nickel legs that ended in metal disks, cones really. Uncomfortable as shit. The color scheme was thirties harvest wheat, perhaps the most depressing color invented by man. A loud banging sounded every few minutes as the ancient boiler popped and cracked to life for a quick burst of heat. A weird vibration came from the floor covered in old style linoleum squares that would survive the apocalypse. A low hum was always there in the background coming off the bare fluorescent lights. Regginham was asleep.
"Hey Doc!" I yelled in my outside voice to wake him
Professor Doctor Regginham stirred awake, very smoothly trying to cover. Regginham was in his mid-forties but looked pretty young, no grey and fit. He wore a tweed suitcoat over an ugly brown and red sweatervest. He was an unkempt man in general with a wild beard and deep wrinkles under his eyes.
"I think we are all done here for today. Right?" I looked at my fellow therapy mates "Usually they all say nothing, except Bob who talks about eating his own shit. And I just have the one crazy thing everyone is sick of hearing about and frankly, I am sick of talking about."
"Quite. Quite." Regginham rose and walked out of the room and up the ornate stairs.
"Well, Great. Pretty sure he was asleep five minutes in." Vanessa broke the silence first.
"Psychiatry's really about hiding your naps more than anything else." Was that too obvious? Did I say it too quickly? Now I'm starting to sweat. Why can't I be cool? Shit man be cool.
Vanessa got up and moved to a table against the wall with day old donuts and something black in a coffee pot. Simon put his phone away and joined her. Maevie remained in her chair and secretly watched as Simon walked over. Bob went to the table quickly picked up a donut and moved to a corner of the room where he ate it.
James, you pussy, get up and go talk to her. James got up and joined them at the donut table awkwardly. Did I say that out loud? Jesus fucking christ keep your mouth shut. Bob was already in the corner, and Simon and Vanessa where ambling around the table. James moved his hand over the donuts, careful not to touch any. They're going to think I'm a germaphobe, just fucking pick one. James picked up a white frosted cake dount and ate a small piece of it like he was checking for poison, then stood awkwardly near Vanessa. Simon was close though. Now just don't talk. James blurted out all at once, "Simon, are you gay?" Oh fucking christ, what the fuck did you just say, James?
"what? No...I mean, I'm cool with that, but no, I'm straight."
"Well then, why don't you ask out Maevie, I mean, she's fucking hot as fuck"
"what? She...do you think...what? I..."
"Simon, my man, just go over there and ask her if she wants to go get a piece of pie. It doesn't matter if she likes pie, or you like pie, or wherever you go even has fucking pie, none of that matters, all that matters is that you are both into each other."
"She's into me?"
"Are you fucking kidding?"
"Simon, go over there and just say this exactly: Maevie would you want to go get a piece of pie with me? that's it, just say that and all will be well."
"Really? She's so beautiful?..."
"Just do it, Simon, seriously..."
Simon stood awkward and silent for a few seconds and straightened his shirt and walked away towards Maevie. Vanessa moved closer to James and they both watched as Simon approached Maevie awkwardly and Maevie was looking up at Simon with those big puppy dog eyes.
"Aww...You're a real softy, huh, James?" Vanessa had a red solo cup of coffee near her mouth hovering as she spoke. She swayed just slightly side to side as they watched Simon and Maevie whisper closer to each other, as if she was dancing to some silent symphony only in her mind. James was looking forward at the lovebirds holding hands and leave together, but all his concentration was on Vanessa, every move and every sigh.
"No...I mean it was obvious, right?" OK that wasn't too bad, and the sweating's stopped
"You didn't have to say anything." Vanessa said.
"It cost me nothing, why not?" James said.
"It won't last...nothing lasts." Vanessa sighed as she finished and put her cup down on the table.
James turned to face Vanessa and almost said something stupid.
"Please don't say something stupid" Vanessa had that look on her face when she said it. The look that says she knows you're into her and she isn't into you in reciprocation. "I mean, James, you are a great guy, but you're just not what I'm into, and I'm sorry about that."
"Oh. sorry, I... You shouldn't be sorry. I really didn't think I had a shot anyway. I mean my god look at you. You are out of the league of the people that are out of my league. I just...I just have to shoot arrows at the moon...that's me, and I know it's wrong. Please forgive me, I never once thought I could win a place in your heart. bye" James put his donut down and turned to leave, "Goodbye Vanessa, I don't think I'm going to be back, but it was great meeting you...bye."
Awkwardly and stutter-stepping away, James was sweating again. Man I need to get out of here fast. World's starting to spin. James shuffled and tripped to the staircase that the lovebirds had ascended seconds before, and managed to traverse without complete embarrassment. When he finally hit the street the coolness of the springtime air hit him like a prisoner once freed, relief, just a bit. A cool calming balm to the soul, He was still sweating and his heart was pumping fast and furiously, and in the back of his mind, in the far deep dirty distant hole into his soul, he knew that he had fucked it up forever. "that's me and I know it's wrong?" What the fuck does that even mean? Why the fuck did I say that? and then that closer was shit man, you fucking blew it so bad. There was a universe somewhere where he said the right thing, where the right circumstances occurred and they fell in love, but this was not that universe, in this universe, he fucked it up and was alone forever. No, I never had a chance, she was too beautiful, too cool, too bad ass, I never had a chance. You never had a chance, too ugly you see.
Inside, Vanessa was in a panic, simultaneously biting her fingernails and holding her phone against her ear, tapping her heel up and down quickly.
"Come on come on come...Dr? No, I'm still here. Yes here in the Y. I know I can just knock on the door, I'm calling you instead... Professor...Profes...Doctor whatever fucking listen already. I screwed up, I screwed up big time. Hatch is gone." She paused pacing in place from one leg to the other listening, and then continued, "Not dead, he left... and he said he wasn't coming back." Another pause and more pacing followed, "I might... have... said... something... I know, I know, I should have shut up for a few more weeks. Whatever is too late now, what do we do, we have to get him back."
James walked down the dimly lit street looking for a dark alley to lose himself. Bronze yellow street lamps lined the old neighborhood, maybe centuries old refitted to electric, but probably cheap imitations put in for tourists. Street after street, shadows identical everywhere he went, his stride remained constant and quick, but finally slowing and easing, then more of a gait. Walk like a normal person idiot. James paused in front of a row of shops, still open, their windows shown harsh light onto the sidewalk. The side of the building was fake Tudor with white plaster and black dark wood. There were people inside, so fuck that, back into the cool dim shadowy depths of the night-darkened sidewalk. This neighborhood had no alleyways, just streets, too much like human habitation everywhere here. James needed the tall dark lonely brick walls rising on both sides and the stench of sewer and rot, that was home.
"Hey, Ha- James" Vanessa was in front of him, having just come around a corner of a low brick building.
"Hey" James looked behind him back at the Y as he answered.
"I..I... I'm sorry, look..." Vanessa stumbled for words, which was odd. She stopped talking and paused, then spoke calmly and sweetly "I like you James, we can be friends, more than...maybe." Vanessa took his hand and held it to her stomach, rubbing very slightly. Her stomach was a hard washboard of muscles, and she moved his hand up towards her breasts. Full and firm and heaving, James was suddenly aware that he was staring at them.
"What? I thought you just-" James again looked back at the Y while he spoke.
"Hey, let's go to the carnival. I love carnivals!" Uncharacteristically exuberant, Vanessa, still holding his hand but not anywhere near her breasts now, started speed walking towards the park.