book stuff 4

  • Chapter 3

    Rose opened her eyes and noted that the sun was shining.  She smiled, it was going to be a good day.  She liked sleeping in and staying up late but she liked sunshine in the spring too.  She got up and made some coffee.  Somehow drinking coffee made her feel like a grown up.  She giggled at herself, “You’re over fifty and you still don’t consider yourself to be a grown-up.” 

    She remembered when she was young her parents would get together with her aunts and uncles and they would play dice games while they drank coffee and smoked cigarettes.  She also remembered early morning coffee before work with her dad.  The only other man In her life who she’d shared coffee with in the morning was Del, Dorathy’s dad.

    She missed him on a level she couldn’t understand, was it because she’d carried his child for nine months and raised her?  Was it because he carried a sense of authority and confidence about himself that made her feel safe?  Or was it because he’d been the only man in her life to be the one to walk away?   Rose sensed it was the latter.

    She’d been waiting to hear from him before she’d let herself get involved with another man, she waited until after the baby was born.  Two years after the baby was born her sister told her he’d called and she took the liberty of telling him that Rose wanted to start a new life and he should leave her alone.  Rose had been waiting for him to call.  She resented her sister, who gave her two numbers for Del but neither of them were working when she called.  It was years after that when her father reminded her that Del had a brother, but by then Rose was attached to someone.  She’d often wondered how things might have been had her sister and mother not interfered with her life’s decisions.

    One could argue that she had it really good where she was in life if they were outside looking in.  She wondered herself if she could have an objective opinion on the matter.  “I suppose not,” she thought.  “It’s too pretty outside to be thinking about this.”

    Rose washed last night’s dishes, always pizza on Friday.  She remembered working in Utah and the man who wanted to sell the company she worked for their silver.  DuPont was their usual brand.  He was from a company in Arizona and their silver wasn’t as pretty as DuPont’s but it did the job and at least they were trying to help find a water base, toluene was hard on the workers.  When Phil, the salesman, attended their meetings, he always provided pizza so she couldn’t help but think of him when they had pizza.  She had it every Friday night and thought back to her first marriage when her ex and his friends always had pizza on Friday nights.  Pizza Hut couldn’t out-cook Ambassadors though; Ambassadors had a sweet crust that offset the sauce perfectly.  She wondered if there was an Ambassadors chain in Oregon.  “I’ll look it up,” she thought as she went to her computer.  “No,” she said to herself, “they don’t have it.”

    She’d felt that if Roger had plans for her to eventually leave, she would go to Oregon and sign over her part of the house to the children.  It was mainly for them when she decided it was time to buy one anyway.  She would not live in public housing in a town where all her ex’s had control over her life and reputation in one way or another, besides, Oregon had fascinated her when she’d visited there.  She fell in love with the huge, wise old redwoods, the ferns in the woods, the waterways all going backward to what she was used to and the intermittent open fields with golden grass growing in them.

    Rose looked into the weather and the resources for the mentally ill, they had all of that.  If she was forced out of living out her goals that had been reached, then she intended to set new goals rather than sit on the sideline and watch someone else live out her dreams.  “Life has definitely cheated you,” the beast sympathized.  “For once, we agree.”  She said.  It was always nice to have a ‘plan B’.

    Rose sat down at the computer trying to decide what to write.  She thought about opening a file on Pappy but the box was far more interesting.  She contemplated, wondering why God would allow her kind to see into their realm but scripture came to mind, “My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”  That was the thing about reading the Bible; sometimes the scripture answered your questions if you knew it.  Out of the corner of her eye she saw one of them, she turned to look and as usual they were gone again.

    Roger was fascinated by the Native American religion and she giggled remembering how once he’d gotten mad at her when she told him that in those days they made the crazy people into medicine men and women, so if she lived in a tribe that’s probably what she would be.

    There was a knock at the door.

    “Come in!”  Rose said.  It was her sister Carol.

    “I was seeing my son and I thought I’d stop by and see you, how are you?”

    “I’m doing good,” Rose said.  “Did you see my new knick-knack?”

    “That big vase on the porch,” She asked.

    “I bought it to decorate the porch, I think it goes well with the chimes, Paula says those are the mother of all chimes!”  Just then they began to softly sound and it resonated because of how large they were. 

    “They sound like church bells.” Carol said.

    “Indeed they do, that’s the point.  Religion has played such a large role in my life that I just had to have them.”  Rose said.  “Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, Pentecostals, atheism……..”

    “Atheism isn’t a religion.”  Carol said.

    “Of course it is.”  Rose replied.  “It’s a belief system.”

    “I don’t care much about religion,” her sister said, trying to avoid a sermon.

    “I know you don’t, but I study religion for the same reason I study serial killers.  If I meet one I would hope to recognize them so I could avoid them.”  Rose said, “Besides, the Bible says as you think, so you are and what religion you choose reveals how you think and what motivates you.”

    “What does that say about me?”  Carol asked.

    Rose averted her eyes and thought a moment, “I guess that’s between you and God.  It’s my job to love you and his job to mold you.”

    “I believe in God, I just don’t believe in religion,” she said.

    “Or Jesus,” Rose felt sad.

    Carol began to gather her purse and Rose said, “Please don’t go, we can talk about something else.”  She noticed that her sister kept her distance and believed it was because Carol considered her to be a religious fanatic.

    She showed her an intricately beautiful shot glass she’d recently bought, “That’s a toothpick holder,” Carol said.

    “Oh,” Rose felt embarrassed.  “I didn’t know.  I just thought it was a shot glass unlike any other I’d ever seen.”

    “Where did you get it?”  Carol asked.

    “At one of the resale shops here in town,” she told her.

    “I don’t have much room for anything else,” Carol said, “but I like to look if I ever had the time.”

    “My new carpet, it’s London Fog.  In honor of Princess Diana, it was made in May.  I met a woman by that name in Utah.  Do you know where I was when Princess Diana died?”

    “Where?”  Carol sounded curious.

    “I was in a hot tub that night surrounded by snow.  We were drinking and it’s the only time I saw Alan drunk.  I realized I hadn’t seen the news all day so I got out of the hot tub and went in to see the headlines.  Halley’s comet was in the air and Princess Diana died that night.  Jacob used to talk about her sometimes.  He also talked about Cher, or someone who looked like her.  He talked about O.J. and racism and he bet me I wouldn’t ever rat out a white person.  I bet him that black people were more racist than white people.  Carol, I think we were both right.”

    “I don’t have any trouble with either one,” Carol said, which Rose knew to be true.

    “You want to smoke a bowl?” Rose asked.

    “Sure!”  Carol said.

    They went out back and sat on the patio.

    “Remember when we used to have to sneak around to do anything like this?” Rose asked.

    “I sure do, adulthood has its perks,” Carol said. 

    Carol had been most of the way around the world and lived overseas for most of the lives of her children.  She’d converted to Judaism during her life and then quit practicing it.  Rose was resentful of the religion because her sister had been required to openly denounce Christ to convert.  Rose believed if you didn’t believe to begin with then such an act was more forgivable than if you knew full well what you were doing.  She was thinking about it but wouldn’t say it.

    “I like what Dorathy did to the fence,” Carol said, “It turned out really nice.”

    “Thank you, I’ll tell her you said so.” Rose said.  “Carol, why do we do this?”

    “Do what?” She looked genuinely confused.

    “Why do we never say what we are thinking?  Why do we avoid talking about the important things?” Rose asked.

    “You take life way more seriously than I do, I just can’t think of myself as having any problems these days,” she said, “I’ve seen problems.  People here are pampered and blind and ungrateful.”

    Rose knew it was true.

    “I wish I had your life,” Carol said.

    Rose smiled, “I never lived deliberately until I had Dorathy.  Everything has been carefully planned so far as I was able after that.  You’ve lived a very unique life yourself Carol.  Not many people go abroad on a shoestring budget and live like the natives.  No one can take what you learned there away from you.”

    “Adventure is over-rated,” she said, “There’s something to be said about stability.”

    “I think I would have freaked out to be in the some of the situations you were in, not able to read the signs, or speak the language.”

    “You learn when you are steeped in it,” Carol said.

    “I wonder if the stress would have made me go mad long before I actually did,” Rose pondered.

    Carol started giggling.

    “What?” Rose asked.

    “The thought of the locals trying to figure you out had you been there and went insane without them knowing your language.”

    “I do act kind of strange sometimes,” Rose said.

    “Rose,” Carol said.

    “What?” She asked.

    “Knowing what you obsess about, if you were in trouble, what would you do to let someone know?”

    “I’d buy a can of mushroom soup if it was serious, I’d buy a can of asparagus if it wasn’t serious but easily could be.” Rose replied.

    “Feed me shit and keep me in the dark?” Carol ventured.

    “That’s the gist of it, I mean, who DOES that?!”  Rose said.  “We know who does that.”

    “You already told me about the asparagus.” Carol reminded her.

    “I think I tell everyone about that.”

    “What would you do to let someone else know they were in trouble?” Carol asked.

    “Remember that time we found a can with no label on it in the yard and took it to mom and she opened it and it looked like worms?”  Rose said.

    “Vaguely, weren’t they bean sprouts?” Carol asked.

    “Mom took it very serious, remember?”

    “Not really,” Carol said.

    “I’ve thought of doing that before.  Instead I made a phone call.”

    “I was just curious.”

    “I think we inherited mom’s family Carol.  I think they say things in strange ways.” Rose said quietly.

    “I don’t know what you mean.” Carol said.

    “Maybe you never will,” Rose told her, “as for me, it’s too loud to ignore.”

    “Nothing just is what it is to you is it?”  Carol asked.

    “I guess not,” Rose said.  “You know what triggers me?  It’s when something is said or done that’s completely out of place or doesn’t compute.”

    “You better stay away from parties then,” Carol said and they both laughed.

    “I don’t get invited anymore,” Rose said.

    “Okay,” Carol smiled, “Bad as I hate too, I really need to go now.”

    “Can I show you something first?”  Rose asked.

    “Sure,” Carol said.

    “Come with me,” Rose said.  They went into the house and Rose went and got her son’s fan.  She went back into the living room and set the fan up.  “Just a minute,” she said as she opened her New York James Dooley chest and dug to the bottom.  She pulled out the box and sat down next to Carol on the couch.  She opened the box and took out the mirrored box.  “You aren’t gonna believe this, you have to see it to believe it.”  She positioned the box over its platform and Carol said, “How’s it levitating like that?!”

    “It’s got to do with magnetic opposites and somehow stabilizing it with magnetic matches, that’s my theory anyway, but this isn’t the fun part.  Look at the box Carol,” she took her hand off the box and the fan got it to spinning. 

    “Wait a minute,” Carol said, “I thought we were alone.”  She whispered, “Who are these people and where did they come from?”

    Rose scanned the room.  There were two new ones, one in robes and the other scantily dressed.  It wasn’t hard to know who was on which side.  “You brought the man in the robes and the young girl in shorts with you Carol.”

    “I don’t know either of those people,” she said.

    “Carol, they aren’t people, they are angels, or spirits if you’d rather put it that way.  They are the ones who give you the ideas you have that don’t belong to you, the ones that come to mind here and there.”

    “Where did you get that box?” Carol asked.

    “From an old man, but that doesn’t matter.  Don’t you see now that the spirit world is real?” Rose asked.

    “How do I know this isn’t just some hypnotic trick?”  Carol was skeptical.  Then she said, “Why do we both have two?”

    Rose said, “I did have three, I prayed the third one away, she would be ‘condemnation’ if she’d had a name.”

    “Why do you say that?” Carol asked.

    “Because of the effect she had on people when she was around, I’ve been feeling much better since she is gone.  Have you seen enough?”

    “Can I talk to them?”  Carol asked.

    The one in the robe told her, “You can, what do you want to know?”

    “Is the Kabbalah real?”  She asked.

    “It can be,” he told her, “but your husband used it to his advantage, he also omitted the truth that he knew in his heart, many times.”

    “How did you know that?!”  Carol asked.

    “I was there and I’ve been with you since then.”  He said.

    “What is your name?” Carol asked him.

    “We don’t tell our names; just know that I’m about equilibrium.”  He said.  “She has been with you since your childhood,” he pointed at the girl in the shorts.

    “Okay,” Carol said to Rose, “I think I believe something, I’m not sure what, but something.  Not even you knew I wondered that.”

    “Look back to the box Carol,” Rose said.

    Carol and rose looked back to the box and Rose stopped it spinning, the spirits were gone.

    “Where did they go?” Carol asked.

    “They are still here,” Rose said, “They are in their own dimension and we are now in ours, but our bodies didn’t leave this dimension when we used the box.  We have to get out of the trance before the box stops spinning, that’s where the fan comes in.”

    “I see.” Carol said, “I’m not sure what to think, this is a lot to take in.  You need to put that thing up, it’s not a toy.”

    Rose put the box back into its container and hid it once again under the blankets in the trunk.

    “That’s what we used to want from the Ouija board,” Carol said.  “How did you come by such a thing?”

    “I’m not sure I should tell you,” Rose said, “I’m still trying to sort this all out myself.”

    “Oh,” Carol sounded disappointed.

    “I’m sorry,” Rose said, “I was curious to see who followed you around and tried to influence your thoughts.”

    “Who was the big fella with the sash?” Carol asked.

    “He’s a guardian angel, mainly for the kids.”  Rose told her.

    “How do you know that?” Carol asked.

    “Because I asked the Lord to let me see them if there was one and I saw him one day, before the box.  I saw him for just a second and then when I tried to focus in on him, I didn’t see him, just like always when I see spirits.”

    “And the woman?” Carol asked.

    “Your guess is as good as mine,” Rose told her.

    Carol had tears in her eyes, Rose didn’t mention it she just hugged her sister; the spirit world had just validated what she’d suspected for a long time already.  Rose understood that need.

    “I’m gonna take my spirits and go home,” Carol said.

    “I love you,” Rose told her.

    “I know,” Carol said.  “Thanks for showing me the box, whatever it means.”

    “Just don’t tell anyone else okay?” Rose pleaded.

    “That will be difficult but okay.” Carol said.

    Rose nodded and Carol took her purse and left.

    Rose returned the fan to her son’s room, he was still sleeping soundly.  Rose missed the days before he dropped out of school when she could play her music as loud as she wanted and have the house to herself.  “Screw it,” she thought, “I’ve gotta clean this house and I’m gonna do it my way.”

    She closed his door and went to put in Shinedown.  The lyrics had a double meaning to her.  As the song came on she heard: “My eyes are open wide” translated to places I know are being investigated, “by the way I made it through the day” translated into I survived the investigation done by white people on other white people, “I watch the world outside” translated into I watch those who aren’t part of what I am, “By the way, I’m leaving out today” translated into by the way, I’m getting the other side to reveal themselves now.  “I just saw Halley’s comet shooting E” translated into I just saw one of the investigators giving ________a shot, “She waved and said why are you always running in place” translates into she waved and said why are you always talking in places you shouldn’t, …………….”Please don’t cry one tear for me, I’m not afraid of what I have to say” translated into don’t tell anyone anything on my behalf, I’m innocent of what they think I did….

    And so was the code language for Rose, or something like that.

    Alexander Haley meant something to her because it reminded her of Marc.  She thought she heard a murder in Utah, she thought it might have been him. 

    She wondered if he’d believed that if he could get her to such a place, considering her interest in religion, maybe she would investigate it on her own and then he could use her to blow the lid off what he considered to be systemic racism. 

    The problem might have been that his working partner may have used systemic racism on both ends of the spectrum and Marc might have gotten caught with his pants down in Utah.  What if Marc had been investigating Farrakhan BEFORE he ended up in Utah?  What if Islam in America used South Americans as a go-between with Islam in the Middle East?  The two men she saw, they were taller than most Mexicans she’d seen.  They hadn’t LOOKED Mexican.  “You think too much,” the beast said.

    Rose suspected this because she didn’t believe in coincidences and her thinking provided too many of them.  “You should go to the authorities,” the beast suggested.  “It’s my impression that they WERE the authorities,” she said out loud.  “Who else bugs an apartment?”  It wasn’t lost on her that the camera had been pulled from the fireplace two days before the “murder.”  She knew because she heard the sound of it being pulled.  Had someone connected to the camera stayed behind or had someone else “borrowed” the room once the other crew had left.  She had no way of knowing that, she only knew that the one person in the chat room that had been confirmed to be there wasn’t online since the night she’d heard the ruckus upstairs.

    Utah had been the perfect storm.

    Rose abandoned the vacuum and went to smoke a little more on the patio and try to analyze herself.  “Surely all these things were designed in the spiritual world,” she thought, “Otherwise it would mean that none of my decisions about my life were really my own decisions, just responses to someone else’s educated guesses.” 

    “Nonsense,” the beast told her, “those who wronged you knew enough about you to tie the loose ends together after the fact.”  And indeed, that did make the most sense.  “Then again,” she said out loud, “there is a lot of prophecy in scripture; wouldn’t that indicate a grand design?” 

    “Not with YOU in it,” the beast said.

    “So what triggers me?” she pondered.  She had to stop Roger’s ability to do that.  “Gas lighting definitely did, and details that were out of place, that does.”  She realized she couldn’t stop the gas lighting unless she did as she had for the last twenty years and pretended Roger was perfection incorporated.  She’d done such a good job of that until it had come to a place where no one would hear of him having any flaws.  “It doesn’t help that I admit my own flaws.” She thought. 

    “Or broadcast them,” the beast said.

    She heard a noise at the gate and the dogs didn’t say a word, this meant they knew the offender.  It was Debbie.  “I knocked and knocked,” she said.

    “Come have a seat,” Rose told her.  “I’m trying to decide whether or not to return to Tulsa with some friends.”

    “What in tarnation is in Tulsa?” Debbie asked.

    “I don’t know, I was just invited is all.  The last time we were there was twenty five years ago or longer.  There was a convention in town then and I think my friends set it up so I’d meet someone deliberately.”

    “Oh really?”  She sounded interested now, “Which friends?”

    “Marsh and Kat,” Rose shared her pipe.

    “Oh………THAT trip,” Debbie said.  “What are the chances I’d get to go?”

    “Could you pay your own way?” Rose asked.

    “Why sure I could.  We could share a room!” Debbie sounded excited.  “I haven’t been on a long trip in quite a while.”

    “Tell you what, I’ll ask.”  Rose said.  “You’re dressed really nice today!”

    Debbie handed the pipe back, “I’m going to a funeral.”

    “Who died?” Rose asked.

    “Yes, who died,” Debbie answered.  “I don’t know them, I’m just going.”

    “Why do you do things like that Debbie?”

    “To have something to do I guess.  To watch the people maybe, to see who really cared, I don’t know.  I see a pile of dirt at the cemetery and I show up, someday it might be my pile of dirt.”

    “That’s rather profound,” Rose said.  “Everyone has a pile of dirt figuratively speaking; it’s usually omitted at funerals though.”

    Debbie nodded, “I know.”

    “Do you ever go to the wakes?” Rose asked.

    “No,” Debbie said, “People usually want to know how you knew them there.  I like to crash weddings though, they have good food sometimes.”

    Rose laughed, “Yeah they do.”

    “I just wanted to stop in on my way by, listen, can Budweiser stay here until I get back?”

    “Sure!” Rose scratched his ears.

    “Thank you,” Debbie said, “I better go if I’m gonna have a good seat.”

    Rose smiled, “Okay then, I’ll see you later.”  Debbie gathered her bag and left the way she came.

    Rose sat thinking about her pile of dirt, some of it was hers, some of it was piled into her life from other people, there were things she couldn’t dismiss.  How do they do that?  She wondered.  How do they give heartache and pain and then just walk away from it and either deny it or condemn you for acknowledging it?  Don’t they know the Lord keeps a count of it all even if they are forgiven?  “If they don’t acknowledge it, how can they be forgiven?” The beast said. 

    “If they can’t make it right in the smallest possible way,” Rose thought, “then surely you are right and it clings to them in the end.”

    It was time to do some serious housework so Rose got up and went inside to tackle it as Budweiser happily tagged along.