Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dreamers (Original Text - Part Nine) (1997)

     I am pretty sure my intention was always to go back an develop the mini-scenes at the beginning of this section into full blown chapters.  I never did.  As a matter of fact, this is the last section where I tried to force to original concept of the story into what was developing.  It doesn't mesh well.  There is some decent dialogue, though.  Not great descriptive text, but I think I was trying to be very minimalistic with that.
If you are at all curious as to what page Nancy opens the Social Psychology book to, it would look very much like this.


     It was a rule of life that could be depended upon.  Dave Burke didn't remember his dreams.  Technically, that was still true.  When he woke up, at five fifteen Saturday morning, he had known it was because of something in a dream.  It didn't feel scary, just something sudden.  Like a quick muscle movement in response to some imagined stimuli.  But he knew it was something in a dream.
     The day would be like this.  Burke didn't regret agreeing to work today.  First of all, overtime at eight and a quarter an hour was a healthy wage, and money was money.  More importantly, the shift he was taking belonged to Anika Lang, a young blonde who Burke desperately wanted to be better acquainted with.  A relationship can only go so far at the workplace, and Anika had always been friendly there.  She was going to a cousin's wedding or some such.
     Work.  Work on a Saturday.  No time for the band.  But people work on Saturday, one way or the other.

     Not more than an hour and half later, Larry Pudenski and Mike Carver were back at the warehouse setting up for the whole fleet of company vehicles.  An electrical explosion at one of the job sites set up for an emergency work day.  All other jobs, both company and side, would wait.  Mr. Pudenski and Don were already at the site.  It was just a matter, now, of getting the appropriate supplies and manpower there to fix what went wrong.  Or, more likely, to get the damage repaired and restore power; sometimes the source of the problems couldn't be addressed right away.
     For Mike Carver, it would be another day of lecturing.  He could tune it out easily enough.  The job was demanding; it would be the priority.  Neither Mr. Pudenski or Larry would have time, early on, to go off on a tangent.  For better or worse, the day would end at a bar or pizzeria with pitchers of beer.  Things could get worse than that.
     "I can't believe I agreed to do this."
     "You don't have anything else to do, and I could use the help.  Besides, you wanted some answers, right?"
     "The anger?"
     "Exactly.  Tit for tat."
     Nancy let a small laugh escape and turned back to the pile of books Jason had put in front of her.  "And you want to know what got me over J.B.?"
     "It wasn't sex.  He would have said something.  My guess is that you met somebody."
     "No.  I think its more that I've finally not needed someone."
     "Page two fifty eight, Social Psych."  This was met by only a blank look on Nancy's face.  "They gray book with the ferris wheel on the cover."
      Nancy opend the book.  Beneath a bar graph and a paragraph or two filled with green highlighted text was the sub-chapter heading in boldface: The Market Value of Physical Attractiveness.
     "That's not what I had in mind."
     "I need you to retype that entire sub-chapter so it can be photocopied."
     "Again, not what I had in mind."
     "I am paying you for this.  And you'll get your answers."
     She began to type the text into the computer, but not so carefully that spellchecker wouldn't be necessary.  Jason would be reading over other subjects in other books and typing them into another of his computers.
     "How does a poor boy like you afford three computers?"
     "I never throw anything away."  Jason gestured to an older model that sat in the corner of his bedroom collecting dust.  "That's from the late eighties.  It will serve to do this, but not much else.  No good for games."  He thumped the one he was working on.  "This is about three years old.  Its almost as bad as the first.  The beauty you are working with is the best prize I've ever won.  A three and a half thousand dollar computer, over five thousand dollars worth of programs and accessories."
     "That's a lot of luck.  Like with the stereo."
     "You're taking your luck from somebody."
     "That would imply you deserve it.  You cruise through school.  Don't give me that look, Jason.  You might bust your ass but you got all the breaks.  You have the school supporting you best it can.  You got Melissa the second you lost Stacy.  Somebody is on the downside of all that."
     "Good things happen to good people."
     "Attractive people are better liars than ugly ones."
     "That's not what it says, Nancy.  People are more likely to believe the lies of attractive people than they are the lies of those they find unattractive.  The funny thing is knowing that doesn't help much.  It doesn't say that they lie more, and it doesn't help to be suspicious of those to whom you are attracted."
     Nancy began typing again.  She would have just assumed to have asked how one could tell when wariness became suspicion.  When did it go beyond concern?  When did it stop being self-protecting and turn self-destructive?  That was what Jason was studying.  Sort of.
     Instead, she asked, "Why wouldn't you want to be with Melissa?"
     "I want to marry Melissa."
     That was more than Nancy expected.  She sat silent.
     "You're asking about last Sunday?"  She responded to Jason's question with a nod.  "It's a bit of a story.  You may know some of it already.  Okay, let's get a few beers and move to someplace more comfortable."
     "Your bed?"
     "The living room."
     Nancy found herself sprawled out across Jason's couch.  She had half a bottle of Rolling Rock in her left hand.  An empty bottle was on the floor next to the couch.  She had finished it before Jason had sat down in the chair opposite her.  He held a can of Schlitz  in his right hand and wore an odd grin on his face.
     "You are aware that I don't get to see Melissa much.  Not given how close we live to one another at any rate.  There is the assumption that I love her, that I am in love with her.  I won't dismiss those notions.  There are few times that I can find reason to not want to be with her.  Then there are my friends.
     "I need to spend time with my friends.  I know a lot of them from high school, or college.  They aren't like my colleagues.  God, I have colleagues.  But it isn't the same thing.  These friends of mine are slipping away.  Maybe that's natural, but it doesn't sit well with me.  If you didn't have the luxury of being able to take the time, you wouldn't be here today.  If you were Larry or J.B., or even Vicki, you wouldn't have that luxury.  And I wouldn't have the luxury to accommodate your free time if it weren't for your willingness to help me get some work done.
     "I spent a night with my friends.  Melissa would have spent it with hers up at Northwestern if you hadn't dragged her down to your parents' house."
     "I still qualify as one of Melissa's friends."
     "Yes, you do.  And she has a batch of friends from school.  Just like you and I did in Ann Arbor."
     "But you were a frat-boy."
     "I got better.  And I even found a better school without having to leave the Midwest.  Where was I?"
     "Friends.  Hers and yours."
     "I'll skip that.  Nancy, it was like you wanted me gone, wanted me trapped with Melissa.  Not a bad place to be trapped, but I don't want to have to give up the people who have meant so much to me for so long.  I don't want to be told that I have to be with 'the woman'.  Didn't it used to be okay for me to drop by unannounced and pick up some people to do something?  It was as though you wanted to expedite my exodus."
     "The anger?"
     "Sometimes its fun to be angry."
     "No.  Probably a little harmful in the long run.  But it can be fun."
     Nancy finished off her second beer.  Jason wasn't done with his can of Schlitz.
     "Ready to go back to work, Miss Klein?"
     She smiled, although it was a bit forced.  Jason hadn't really said much.  There had to be more to it than Jason's lack of faith in the durability of his friendships.
     "You have another thing to answer."
     "It's about you and Melissa and a woman's needs."
     Jason blushed, but more than that, he dropped his beer.
     "Off limits."
     "No, Jason.  You gave me bullshit about the anger.  I want an answer to this one."
     "It's about sex.  I can't imagine that there is anything I can say about the topic that would be unknown to you."
     "I don't know much about the sex between you and Melissa."
     "Thankfully."  He couldn't look her in the eye.  "What has Melissa told you?"
     She only smiled coyly.  It was most definitely not forced.
     "The woman's needs phrase refers to the fact that Melissa wants more physical contact."
     "You mean sex."
     "Not necessarily one in the same."
     This time it was Nancy who turned red.  She couldn't help but give a nervous laugh.  "Phone sex?  You talked Melissa into having phone sex with you?  And I'm guessing this is one a regular basis."
     "Well, I'm glad I told you.  Now."
     "Isn't that some sort of perversion?  Or sexual deviance?  Do you prefer it to real sex?"
     "Because this isn't where I wanted this conversation to go."
     "I'm serious."
     "No, I prefer real sex.  Very much so.  But there are time constraints, and it's still with her..."
     "It's twisted."
     "That's why we don't talk about, Nancy."
     "Does it mean a lot that it is with her?"  He nodded.  "Then it's sweet." 
     "I've gone from perverted and deviant to twisted in sweet in less than a minute."
     "Quick recovery, Dr. MacLeod."
     She was laughing and Jason was about to continue the banter, but he noticed something about her eyes.  It was actually in her eyes.  There was a flash of light, and he had no idea what it meant.  There was no reason for him to have known as not many people had experienced it themselves.  Nancy had.  It was something spectacular.
     Then she was on the floor, almost unconscious.  He was over like a shot.
     "Bad acid flashback?"
     "Something just happened – to someone."
     "Are you okay?  You look dazed."
     "I don't know who..."
     He helped her onto the couch.  She was going on about some sort of psychic event.  He didn't bother to try to explain that psychologists used psychic in a different context than laypersons.  She calmed down a bit, more to ease Jason's mind than because of any direct influence he may have had.
     "So, you're psychic?  Why aren't I analyzing your dreams, then?"
     Nancy gave him the bird.
     "Then what was it."
     "Someone we know, and something bad."
     "Do you like deluding yourself like this?"
     She propped herself up on an elbow.  "Would you rather talk about your twisted virtual sex life?"
     "Just the sweet part."
     "I know what I'm talking about."
     "You sound like J.B.  Did he ever tell you about when the werewolf stole him out of his bed?  I think he was five.  It just snatched him up in his blanket and ran off with him.  But something was chasing the werewolf.  Like a white knight.  The creature threw him under the stairs and escaped out the front door."
     "That's just a story."
     "A dream.  But he woke up under the stairs wrapped in the same blanket.  He thought he had a demon after him.  He might still; it isn't something we talk about, he and I.  There is too much there for me to read into."
     She almost forget that Jason was mocking her sixth sense.  She didn't believe in it, not very often at least.  Then there were times it couldn't be defined.  It was more than coincidence.  Maybe J.B.'s dream was like that.  It was a definite insight into his make-up as a person.
     "Should we call it quits for the night?  You're still shaken.  I'm going to call Melissa—"
     "From a different room, please.  I don't want to watch that."
     He had no immediate response.  It was too well timed.  Like the time his Chemistry T.A. had added "-less" to a girl's statement about how much she was worth.  He should have laughed.  He wanted to.  Unfortunately, he was beginning to feel some sickness in his stomach.  Like he had just lost his best friend.  Or someone had walked on his grave.  He sat down on the couch and quietly told Nancy as much.  He didn't like to think that perception could exist beyond the perceivable.  Her state had now affected him.
     "I am going to get Melissa here."
     "I should go, then."
     "She and I are friends, but not even for you, Jason."
     "I'm touched, but I would rather stay working.  If you're right about this, maybe I could do a research paper on this para-psychological event into something publishable.  I could be the next Peter Venkman."  He didn't wait for her to ask who that was.  "Bill Murray in Ghostbusters."
     "No thanks."
     "Then I'm a concerned friend who want to take care of you, and wants his girlfriend to help out."
     "On one condition."
     He said he was open to suggestions.  He said he wanted a list of options to choose from.  He used a lot of words to say so.
     "Tell Melissa you want to marry her."
     "Because that's all that makes it sweet."  She could tell Jason wasn't listening.  "The only thing that makes any of this perversion at all acceptable is that it is very important that it is Melissa, and not someone else."
     "I don't want a lecture."
     "But I know sex.  You have to let her know how much you care.  Let her know that its about love, not your getting your rocks off."
     "When she gets here."
     "Because I'm scared to be here with you until then."  She drew him in with her eyes.  "Were you angry because you thought I was going to wreck your perfect little system?  You call her when you need her, and then you are done.  She's a fun little tool, and real sex is great, but since time matters a phone call will do it?"
     "She and I worked this out, Nancy.  It doesn't sound romantic, and it probably isn't.  It is part of the system.  You want me to throw that away for love."
     "You love her!"
     "I've never told any woman that I love her."
     Nancy wanted to say something meaningful.  "Not even your mother?  Or your sisters?  No one?"
     "Not since I turned twenty one.  Not even my Gramma.  Nancy, I consider you a good friend, but I'm not real comfortable talking about all of this.  I've told Pudenski I love him, because he's like the brother I never had.  I told Lew Pittman, too.  I haven't gotten beyond that."
     It gave Nancy a huge insight into Jason MacLeod.  He and Larry had been friends since they were five.  Llewellyn Pittman was a friend to both of them, but he died when they were all in high school.  Nancy guessed that it was just as likely that Jason told Lew how much he cared for him at the funeral as it was that he said it when he was alive.  Then in college he decided he wasn't going to tell anyone he loved them?  That would have coincided with Stacy Andrews.
     "Is this all about St. Andrews?"
     "I always hated that you called her that."
     "Your Catholic princess.  The light of your life.  Wasn't she still a virgin when you two started dating?"
     "At least we are beyond the idea that you're a psychic."
     "I still want to talk about that."
     "You're just better at talking about sex."
     "I believe I can paraphrase it by saying 'you preach what you know.'"  She was starting to feel better.  "I want another beer.  And I want to talk about St. Andrews.  And it would be nice it you would believe me about this feeling.  Iwas right about Lynn leaving Larry."
     "Nice alliteration.  And all you said was that Lynn was going to go back to New York."
     "She did!"
     "Four weeks later.  Then they didn't break up for another month."  He sighed.  "You know if I don't call Melissa now, I won;t be able to get her here."  Jason walked over toward the kitchen, looking for the phone.  "And no more beer for you."



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