Same dreams as before.
She returns. The child returns. They both die as the world is torn asunder by the man in red.
The dreams make my bed a haunted place, a place that I dare not spend too much time or I will start to see visions that make me cry out. I fall asleep on the couch listening to music or some internet critic drone on about the latest sci-fi western whatever. Anything to not have the man in red come visit, anything than to have them with me.
Have you ever been lost? Really lost, like you turned yourself around so bad that calm is a memory, that the world is about to swallow you up so you start to run and run and run until you fall in a panic, fall to your knees and hurt yourself and see the blood and there you are again. You are alive.
And you realize, everything will be okay as long as you are alive. The wife with the honey colored hair and the child that smiles when I ruffle his hair that live in my dreams are proof that I am alive. They are of my dreams.
Then the man in red comes and he takes them from me.
He takes them and he destroys the facade my mind had constructed, the imaginary dream life where I made the right choices and ended up with a home.
But what if he is simply taking what is his?
What if these visions, these escapes from my real world in my dreams, these places of warmth and laughter and of home.... What if he gives them to me and then takes them away?
I am aware I am ranting like a madman. I have not had much sleep lately. Dreams, you see.
Monday morning I woke up with a sense of dread. I saw the hints of day break behind the heavy curtains I use to block out the sun, the curtains that have never blocked out the sun, and I picked myself up off the couch and stumbled to the kitchen.
Eggs, bacon, some spinach, beans, coffee with cinnamon, and a multivitamin do a healthy librarian make. I made sure the stove was off and changed into a pair of cutoff shorts and an old Beta Club t-shirt from high school. Since I have started exercising and eating better, most of my old shirts from various cooking jobs and high school shirts are fitting better. I have pulled them out of retirement to serve as work out gear so they can fall apart knowing they have served a noble purpose this late in their lives.
I threw on a cap and a pullover to keep the cold wind at bay and stepped out the door to meet Cassidy on the walking track.
The track is only about five minutes away from my apartment, the perfect distance to warm up my legs and stretch before a jog. I even run in place a little as I wait for the truck that collects the dumpster to pass me by. My blood flows and I feel my body singing the body electric, wanting to run and move and just do something.
This is a first for me, this exercise thing. I like it.
I do not see Cassidy on the walking track. I step over to the little sawdust area with the benches and bars and wooden post things and do some real stretches while I wait. I even manage a few chin-ups.
Fifteen minutes go by and there’s no Cassidy. My mind, lifting from the fog of sleep and dreams, begins to run cycles of what could be wrong to make her so late. She’s never late, said the man in the horror movie.
Did the man in the phone get her?, I think. He had threatened her. Said things... known things about how Betty had died. But the police did not worry. Why would they? They weren’t gonna die. Whoops. Can not think that way. Not after New Year’s, not after Captain Stein and Detective Parker...
And Cassidy herself had not seemed worried, not that we had talked about it. And why would she be worried? She had not been here before, not found the bodies. And she was capable, able to take care of herself.
Was I being sexist, thinking I could protect every woman in my life? I had ample evidence to the contrary.
Maybe she was in a car accident. A small one. No, she would have called me.
With what? I do not have a phone.
I shook my head. Thinking this way, this circular spam of though would get me nowhere. I needed to run.
I set out at a light jog. The track was straight and if Cassidy did show she was in much better shape than me. Even if I took off at a run she could both see me and catch me in minutes. The lizard brain in me found that an appealing thought.I was a half mile down the track, just past the sign that read “Sponsored by Simonson Drugs,” when the screams began.