Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chapter Twelve: A Lovestruck Phoenix Amidst Serendipity

One never knows who is going to influence your life upon first meeting them. Well, unless that one is me. I always know, since I was a little girl. No, it did not make my relationships more meaningful, or help me keep friends. Here's the thing. If you know, absolutely know that the guy smiling at your from the other side of your locker, cute though he may be, won't even register enough for you to remember his name in two years, would you smile back? I never did. Kind of a self full-filling prophecy. Why get to know someone who will have no impact on you? Does that mean you will have no impact on them? Do other people absolutely know, also? I didn't know for sure when I was younger, and I never wanted to be the kid who no one remembers in two years. So, I didn't smile back. I earned the reputation of being a stand-offish bitch, which is hard to shake in a small Kansas town. Once you have it, there it is. Pretty much for ever, even if they don't remember your name, they will remember the bitchiness.

When I met Bruce I knew absolutely that he would not only influence my life, but that we would have sex together, live together and even break up. And I knew it wouldn't end there. I thought about just trying to run the other way and never even starting the fucked up thing I knew was going to end anyway. Would never have worked. Can't escape fate, no matter how hard you try, and he was already smiling that half smile at me. Like a lovestruck phoenix I went to him ready to burn to ash and be reborn.

You might be wondering why any of this really matters in my present situation, while my boss had me driven across town. With no pizza, I might add. I think he wanted me off kilter and hungry. Or he didn't want me to have an opportunity to have more booze. Well, it all matters because of what happened next. None of the crap I just said about 'knowing, absolutely knowing' will mean a damn thing..

The limo stopped in the industrial district just outside the north-west part of Lawrence, KS. Only a ten minute drive from down-town, but it seemed like a different world. From the quaint brick buildings with little trees out front and the smells of food and the sounds of happy shoppers and dogs walking, to the smell of waste and smoke and ammonia and the starkness of metal and huge stacks billowing steam and dust into the air. I really didn't want to be there. It made me even more nauseous and my head pounded in a different rhythm, faster and harder sending spots into my eyes.

“Seriously, I really have to eat.” Normally, I try not to speak to my boss, if at all possible, but hell, what did I have to lose at this point? For all I knew I was going to be 'disappeared' in a few minutes. It would be great to have a bit of food in my belly before that happened. Hate to go out hungry.

Alexander looked at me curiously for a moment, his ageless face showing little of his true self. Well, again, unless you're me. I could see all kinds of thing that would make other people run screaming from the limo. However, I knew he would just catch me anyway and I would end up doing whatever it was that he wanted me to do anyway. It would just hurt more. “No, Ophelia, but I would like you to drink some more water before we start.” He looked over at a bottle of water in the door holder, which I promptly picked up and downed. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, and never argue with an angry vampire.

Just as I was finishing, another car drove up. I recognized it as one of ours. Gavin and another guy we worked with jumped out holding up another little gnomish person, much like the grandma-evil I had had reason to kick in the head earlier in the day. Same white clothes, same wrinkled skin and what not. Not so much attitude though. His eyes were rolling back in his head and the two of them had to hold him up as they approached the limo.

“Now Ophelia, I would like you to take some time and really look at this one.” Mr. Harris smiled at me again, mouth closed of course and opened the window. I obediently looked out and stared at the poor little thing. Not that I didn't figure he deserved it. We all deserve it.

“Ophelia, what do you see?”

I stared, and let myself relax. Generally I try to just ignore everything I see off people, and the bitchiness actually helps. Now was not the time though.

“People. Lots of people.” Which was true. I was seeing hundreds of floating people zooming about the guy's head and body, floaty and white and vacant. Really vacant.

“I don't think the people are alive. They seem...empty, kind of.”

“Like zombies?”

“Crap. Yeah, I guess. Yeah.” They were starting to really creep me, with vacant eyes and no souls. Empty floaty shells. I knew they weren't there, but that doesn't mean they couldn't hurt me. If I had learned nothing else in the past two years, it was that you shouldn't take anything on face value. The weird thing was I couldn't see anything else. Nothing. No feeling of importance, no substance of who this guy was. Usually, when I'm sober, I can see all kinds of use-less crap. Right now, all I saw was a bunch of dead people.

Alexander nodded to Gavin who drug the little guy back into the car, which was great, because all the little floaty things went with him. I sighed and put my head into my hands, pulling on my short hair a little, the pain of that actually making the headache go away a bit. I am usually not a crier, really I'm not, but I wanted to cry right then.

“Ophelia? Look up at me.” Of course I did, one tear running down my face. I saw the weirdest thing I have ever seen from my boss. A real smile, one filled with sympathy and something kind of like thankfulness. Weird. I wanted to look away but couldn't.

“Gavin, “ He called out the still open window. “You may bring it over now.” He looked back at me, his normal self again, all closed and mysterious and old. “I had Gavin make a stop on the way.”

Then I smelled it. Pizza. Oh-My-God. He brought me pizza. Gavin passed the box in to me, still warm and heavenly. I opened it and pulled out a piece taking a bite of cheese and pepperoni and sauce. Serendipity.

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