Jon and Ron twisted in their seats, following my gaze. My pulsed raced. I turned and caught a fleeting glimpse of a man standing inches behind where I’d sat. I didn’t see him for more than a split second from the corner of my eye, but I knew who it was and I started from the quick jolt of adrenaline my body immediately pumped into my system. My hands began to shake from the thought that he’d been right there….right there behind me and I hadn’t known it. I was getting really tired of feeling liked I was just being messed with.
“Okay,” I said to Alicia. “Where’d he go?”
“He’s still there,” she said. “Looking right at you. He’s a little amused by your reaction.”
“Oh, I’m so happy he’s amused,” I gibed.
“What’s he look like?” Jon asked, his eyes wide in anticpation.
“Mmmm,” Alicia pondered, turning her head as if studying something, or someone, who stood right before her, “Mid-thirties-ish, I’d say…really nice looking….black hair….nicely dressed but an older style, cream colored trousers and vest, one of those dress shirts that didn’t have a regular collar to it, I forget what you call those. He had money, too, a lot of it. If you’d just open yourself up, you’d see him clearly, too.”
I stared at her, not knowing what to say, especially about her last statement. Her description matched exactly the man I’d seen in my visions, or nightmares, or whatever you want to call them. It was then that I caught that odd scent of limes as I had several times before. “Wait, you smell that?”
“Smell what?” Jon asked. “The chicken?”
“No, not the chicken,” I smirked. “The limes or whatever they are.”
“I don’t smell anything,” Ron noted.
“It’s his after shave,” Alicia chuckled at me. “…or at least what they used for after shave back then. He’s very glad that you’re finally figuring it out.”
“Figuring what out?” I snorted. I was starting to get a little exasperated by the way Alicia would just tell me stuff in dribs and drabs. Fuck it, you know? Just tell me what’s going on, fer chrissake! Alicia asked me to sit and calm down. I sat down with no problem but calming down was another matter all together. I crossed my arms and pursed my lips as she continued. She could tell I was starting a slow burn and decided to change the tenor of our little gathering.
“Why don’t we eat before Jon’s chicken gets cold,” she said. “What I’m getting ready to tell you might be easier to take with something in your stomach.”
We broke up long enough for Jon to check on the food and get the rice and vegetables ready. Alicia helped Ron and me get the rolls and butter out on the table, fill the water glasses and take bowls of food to the table as Jon got them ready. We reconvened in the Dining Room and started a family style pass-around of all the bowls and plates until everyone had what they needed.
“Oh, God, this is good!” Alicia said as she swallowed some of Jon’s sautéed chicken. “You’re really talented.”
“In all sorts of ways,” I said, winking and then feeling the crash of Jon’s foot dead into my knee. Ron tried to hide his obvious amusement, not sure whether Alicia had picked up on us yet.
“Boys, boys,” Alicia soothed motherly. After several more mouthfuls, she decided to continue now that she figured I was calmed down enough.
“Anyway,” she continued. “What it is that you’re starting to figure out, young Jedi,” she said with humorous sincerity, “…is that you’re psychic.”
“I knew it!” Jon said through a full mouth, pointing at Alicia in agreement.
“Chew your food, dude,” I said, then looking to Alicia. “Well, I never really thought of myself that way, you know? I hear voices in the middle of my head sometimes that help me out, kinda like my thoughts’re thinking to me but it’s as clear as us talking right here.”
“Those are your guides talking to you, young Skywalker,” she said with a touch of wry humor. Her fondness for movie analogies was beginning to grate a little, like when Jon sometimes did it. “You’d hear them more often if you’d open up more and accept what you are. You’d see your friend clearly, too, without being in a dream. That’s part of why Life’s brought you to this point; well, I shouldn’t say that, exactly. You made yourself come to this point. You only wanted it to seem like Life did it to you.”
“Guides?” Ron asked.
“Alicia…I’m sorry, but you have completely lost me,” I said.
“Friends from back home, Chipmunk. We’ll get to that later,” she said quickly before turning her attention back to me. “I don’t think you realize that you’re a very talented, natural psychic. Normally, I don’t like the term psychic…makes me think of dark rooms and old gypsy women con artist types, you know, but I can’t think of another word right now. At the moment, you’re a very undisciplined psychic but you’re also a very strong one and you take this talent of yours and shove it into a dank hamper like it was dirty laundry or something.”
As Alicia spoke, I noticed that the sound of clinking silverware had stopped and I looked around to see Jon and Ron were both as still as statues, hanging on her every word. I turned back to Alicia as she went on.
“Sometimes you listen to your guides but they usually have to push like hell to get you to listen when it’s important. It’s like you’re so wrapped up in being Big-Bad-Brad-the-Fratboy,” she said in a deep, mocking tone that caused us all to smile; well, more so Jon and Ron than me. “…that you’re totally neglecting your very strong spiritual side. Brad,” she began, pausing. I thought it interesting that I was ‘Brad’ now instead of some Star Wars character. For a second, I half expected her to call me ‘Anakin’. “…you could do so much good with this talent of yours like you wouldn’t believe. You too, hon,” she said, looking quickly at Jon.
“ME?!” Jon said, almost choking on the sip of water he’d just taken.
“Yes, Jon…you too…but in a different way,” she said softly. “We’ll get to you later.”
“Sooooo…,” I began. “…what does all of this have to do with what’s going on here?”
“Well, there’s a couple of really big things going on here…kind of a confluence of events. One of them you set up for yourself before you came back as sort of a fail-safe in case you were just too dense to figure it out. By that I’m referring to your ‘awakening’ to what you are. That house in your visions….”
“You know about that?” I asked, my voice quivering.
“Yes, Brad,” she noted. “Our friend, and he is a friend, showed me. He loves the smell of your chicken, by the way, Jon.”
“Oh, uh, thanks…I guess,” Jon muttered, not quite knowing what to do or expect. His eyes darted quickly around the table, looking for their new ‘friend’, before they went back down to his own plate.
“What about the house?” I asked impatiently.
“That house is you. It’s like a reflection of your fears and apprehensions, which is why it always appears nightmarish to you, because you won’t accept the fact that you’re a full blown psychic.”
“But wouldn’t people think I was some kinda sideshow freak?” I asked.
“And,” Jon began slowly, “…that’s different from now, how?” I shot him a scowl and watched as his serious expression faded into a broad grin. He nudged me, letting me know it was just a joke.
Then the three of them broke up at Jon’s quip. I smirked, shaking my head, and playfully wrapped my hands around Jon’s throat, gently shaking it. “It’s a good thing for you she’s the Law,” I told him, finally smiling myself.
“Boys, boys,” she said again. “Anyway….the other side of the coin is that that house can be as warm and welcoming as a lover’s hug, if you’d let it. That’s the thing, Brad. Being afraid of the house is being afraid of yourself. The dreams are partly you telling yourself to fish or cut bait, you know; and you are definitely not meant to cut bait. I mean, what are you so afraid of? You need to open up and accept what you are. You aren’t going to be bushwhacked by demons, your guides’ll see to that. There’s a very stately, older Native-American who is your main guide who guarantees that you have nothing to fear.”
“My main guide?” I asked skeptically.
She smiled the smile of an old mentor passing along what to her was an obviously apparent truth to a young protégé who just wasn’t getting it yet. That was definitely me.
“People who believe tend to think that we only have one guardian angel…kind of like they were a patron saint or something, you know? But I want you to know that we all have numerous guides and guardian angels looking out for us,” she said, pausing to gauge my reaction.
I was having a hard time soaking up everything Alicia was telling me. I tried to keep eating because I was still hungry but every time I’d get a forkful of food to my mouth, she’d say something, like this guides and angels thing, that just made me stop and pay attention. It was as if the very action of chewing would detract from my understanding of what she was saying. I looked over and saw that Ron had stopped eating entirely, his eyes firmly glued to Alicia, his head propped up by his arm resting on the table. Jon was giving a good impression of trying to eat but if he chewed any more slowly, the food would just decompose in his mouth. I took a sip of water and kept listening. As the water hit my tongue, I realized then just how dry my mouth as I peeled my tongue from the roof of my mouth. I could still feel a slight chill. I knew my friend was close by.
“Over the course of our lives,” Alicia continued, “…they come and go depending on our needs at any given time, but there is a core group or person who’s always there. In your case, it’s this Native-American. He orchestrates all the others. He’s a very gentle soul but can be fiercely protective if need be. He says you will find him soon enough when you actually start to look and that you can call him Grandfather.”
“Because he was…or is…depending on how you view time and relationships,” she said.
There was a long, long pause in our conversation. Alicia knew I needed to soak it in and silently let Jon and Ron know that they should just keep still for a moment or two. Then she broke the silence.
“I want you to start meditating if you want to embrace your ability and not throw it away.”
“How?” I asked. I sensed deep down that she was right. Somehow, someway, I knew that this was a threshold I had to cross, was destined to cross. I had no idea where it was going to take me but I just felt I had to do it. I felt a subtle warmth flow over me. I straightened in my chair as it did and smiled quizzically.
“Congratulations,” Alicia said. “You’ve made a big decision, a life altering one, too, and your Grandfather approves. What you just felt was like his welcoming hug,” she continued, smiling gently, the way a doting mother might over a child returning home. “Pick a time that you like best for meditating; I prefer mornings, but it’s a personal thing. Find a place where you feel comfortable and where it’s quiet. You can play soft music if you think it helps; I prefer not to, but that’s me.”
The magnitude of what I was getting into was starting to wash over me. Of my own accord, I was getting ready to walk through a doorway that the day before you couldn’t have shoved me through at gunpoint. Alicia stopped for a second, knowing I needed to take it in at my own pace. She knew I was uncomfortable with this. We’re all uncomfortable with change, but this wasn’t like moving to a new apartment. New apartments weren’t ‘life altering’ and I knew deep down that this had the potential to change me forever. I sat there, shoving a piece of chicken around in the rice as I thought my thoughts. I didn’t have to look up. I could clearly feel everyone’s eyes on me. I could see it in that third eye of mine, too, the picture now becoming crisper than I’d recalled. ‘Well, Williams?’ I could hear my thoughts think, ‘Are you going to be a fisherman or a do-nothing?’ That was all I needed to hear.
“Life altering good or life altering bad?” I asked slowly, still playing with my dinner.
“Good,” Alicia said softly. “It’s mostly of your making, but I don’t see it in you to be any other way. If I thought otherwise, I wouldn’t be sitting here,” she added somberly.
“Okay,” I said with resolution, looking up at her. “I find my time, I find my place…then what?” I asked. I’d made my decision. Jon and Ron’s wide eyes went silently back and forth between us like they were watching a tennis match. Alicia smiled and continued.
“Then you should light three white candles and ask your guides and the Creator to protect you as you meditate. Burning incense is good too, if you can find it around here. Frankincense or sage, preferably; they have protective and meditative qualities to them. Then you just close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. You relax and try not to think too much and then you just let the Universe come to you. You’ll be shown what you need to see, trust me. When you get more experienced, then you can go out looking, but let your guides run the show at first.”
I nodded my head. Alicia just let it sink in and looked around the table at Jon and Ron. “C’mon, guys; let’s eat before this wonderful dinner gets stone cold,” she said, picking up her fork. “Jon this really is good; could you pass me some more chicken, please.” She picked a nice piece off the plate Jon held for her and then scooped some more vegetables. “Your mother did a good job with you, Jon. I’m impressed. You might be worried about what she might think, but don’t.”
I saw Jon’s eyebrow go up on that one, quickly followed by mine. That was one of those statements that you could take about a half a dozen different ways if you really wanted to. I was curious as to what she meant by that but I was more hungry than curious, so I let it slide. We were all hungry and ate in silence for a while as I considered everything that Alicia’d said. Jon’s culinary concoction was starting to do a good job of unraveling the knot in the pit of my stomach.
“Alicia,” Ron asked. “You said there were a couple of things. What else is there?”
“Good memory, dude,” Jon said. “What’s the rest?”
I was still turning things over and over in my mind. I kept quiet but looked up, anticipating Alicia’s answer, and wiped my mouth as the last of my dinner slid home.
“That part’s personal and’s for Brad to find out for himself,” she said, then turning to me, her voice softening, “That’s the part I said I was prohibited from telling you. Grandfather said that I shouldn’t because you had to find it for yourself so you’d understand.”
“Oh, dammit, Alicia!” I said. “You can’t just leave me hanging like that!”
“Sorry, Brad,” she shrugged. “Orders are orders.”
“And who gave the orders?” I asked. She said nothing and just smiled a quirky little smile as she set her napkin on the table.
“Jon, I think I’ll take you up on that drink now, if the offer’s still open.”
“Absolutely,” Jon said, springing from the table, “What would you…”
“This is kind of a big night. Why don’t we have some of that scotch you all had last night? If there’s any left,” she winked. Jon just stared at her for a second, still amazed at her cognitive abilities.
“Be right back,” he said, slowly getting himself in gear, and turned to Ron and grinned, “Gimme a hand, would you, Chip.” Ron winced a little at his new nickname but he dutifully followed Jon into the kitchen, helping to carry out some of the dirty dishes as they did.
“I assume that means we’re finished,” I asked.
“Oh, we’re never really finished,” she said, waiting for Jon and Ron to return. “…just for now.”
Momentarily, Jon and Ron returned with a fresh bottle of Talisker and a tray of glasses filled with ice. Being the good host that he always liked to be, Jon filled each glass and passed it to a waiting hand. Everyone waited until Jon, serving himself last, was seated.
“I’d like to propose a toast,” Alicia said, raising her glass. We raised ours in turn, looking at her expectantly. “To new friends and new beginnings.”
“Hear hear….Ditto…New beginnings,” we echoed, each of us leaning in to clink our glasses before taking a sip of that wonderfully fiery nectar from the Scottish Highlands. Alicia picked up the bottle and studied it.
“Ooo; single malt. I’m impressed,” she said. “Professional habits being what they are,” Alicia continued, her voice becoming a touch more stern, “…I have to ask: I know Chipmunk’s okay, but are you two old enough to be drinking?” she asked, squinting an eye at us both. The look on her face almost made me want to shrivel up but I was sensing humor in the air, too.
“I, uh…,” Jon stumbled, his eyes looking anywhere but at Alicia. “Well, yeah….it’s like…Brad?” he flopped, turning to me.
“Well…,” I stammered, searching my mind looking for a good answer. In the midst of it, I heard a clear baritone voice, using unsteady English, admonish me to give the truth a chance instead of looking for an easy out. “…no; we’re not. Is that a problem?” I said, returning her steady gaze with my own.
“No,” she smiled, leaning back in her chair. “Not so long as you keep it here and don’t take it on the road or go public with it, you know? Then you become my problem; right, Chipmunk?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Ron said sheepishly, sipping his drink.
“I won’t ask,” I said, furrowing my eyebrows as I sipped, but I knew Alicia’s question was more than rhetorical. It was Ron’s business, so I wasn’t going to pry. She must’ve got him for DWI or something and never lets him forget it, one of those deals. Ron seemed embarrassed by it enough as it was, so I wasn’t going to add to his discomfort.
“Congratulations, again, by the way,” she added.
“For what?” I asked.
“For one, for actually hearing Grandfather for the first time and two, for listening to his advice to not give me some BS answer. You’re taking big steps already!” she laughed and raised her glass slightly in a salute before taking another sip. “Wow, this stuff is good! Nice, smoky flavor to it.”
“Alicia?” Jon piped in. “What about that past life stuff you were talking about before dinner. You said it was no accident that we were all together again?”
“Ah! THAT, I can tell you about…up to a point,” she brightened, leaning forward on the table. We unconsciously leaned forward with her. “I really shouldn’t have held it back but your guides wanted me to deal with first things first. As I think I was saying, Brad here is the most experienced of your three souls….more than me, too, for that matter.” she muttered. “But you two are also very practiced souls,” she said wagging her index finger between Jon and Ron. Jon gave us each a splash more and we settled in, listening rapturously.
“You three have followed each other around from life to life to life for so long it isn’t funny. Sometimes it’s been all three of you, like now; sometimes it’s just been two of you together; sometimes you haven’t been together at all. But you’ve been together more than not. You’re friends now, in this life, but it mostly hasn’t been like that. You’ve fought against each other as warriors, you’ve died at each others hands and in each others arms. You’ve been soldiers, politicians, criminals, fishermen, gardeners, monks….”
“MONKS!” I started. Everyone around the table flinched when I cried out. “Sorry guys, I didn’t mean…Alicia, I forgot to tell you; in these visions of mine, except for the last time, I was dressed as a Monk!” She smiled and nodded her head. “What’s up with that?” I asked.
“I know. It’s how you like to be when you travel,” she said “You, you all do it more than you realize; it’s just easier for you, Brad.”
“Travel?” Ron asked.
“This may be a bit hard to swallow but when you have these visions of yours, you, your spirit, actually, the ‘You’ of you, you’re actually traveling outside of linear time as we think of it.” She paused for a moment, looking at the bewildered faces around the table, hoping she was making some kind of sense.
“You mean between dimensions?” Jon asked, grasping for a mental foothold.
“Well, yes and no,” she continued. “That gets complicated, Jon, let me finish this thought first,” she turned back to me. “You travel dressed as a monk because it’s what you prefer. You’re looking for and devoting yourself to knowledge and truth and understanding. What better person is there to do this than a monk?”
“That’s great except for the celibacy part,” Jon quipped. This time it was my turn to send a toe smashing into his shin accompanied by a slight scowl. “OOOW!” he yelped, bending down to rub his leg.
“Always,” he said, still grimacing from the pain.
“What about the time thing, Alicia,” Ron asked.
“Some people think of it as alternate dimensions, but I’m not entirely certain of that… it would tend to explain certain things, though,” she muttered again. “My particular belief is that you’re…” she turned to address me directly, “…traveling to a different point along a road of an infinite number of roads taken and not taken.”
Oddly, it was starting to make sense to me, but I could tell it still had Jon and Ron confused. Alicia continued, pursing her lips at being unable to make it clear enough.
“Let me put it this way. I believe that time is only linear because we say it is; one event precedes another, et cetera. Some people are starting to think of it like separate dimensions and such. Personally, I think that time does not exist like we think of it at all and that everything that ever was, everything that ever will be, at least from our everyday perspective, simply is.”
“I….just don’t know what I think about that.” I said.
“You don’t have to believe me,” she said. “I’m not asking you to believe me. It’s just what I believe. But whether you believe me or not, it doesn’t change the fact that you are traveling astrally, even though you aren’t always in control of it.”
“You mean, like, oh,” Jon groped. “What do they call those things?”
“An out of body experience?” Ron offered.
“That’s it! Is that what it is?” Jon asked.
“Yeah, kind of,” she said. “Except that in Brad’s case he’s traveling to what I said some people call those other dimensions.”
As usually happens when liquor gets its foot in the door, the conversation was starting to go all over the place and it was starting to give me a headache. “Let’s drop back a sec, guys,” I said, holding my hands up for quiet. “Let’s go back to the past life thing,” I said, pausing, trying to collect my thoughts. “Why are we here?”
“Oh, God,” Alicia gasped. “That’s the million dollar question, now isn’t it?” She paused for a moment and took another sip of her drink. “I don’t want to confuse you any more than I think I already have, so let me just say this. As pertains to you three guys, you’ve worked through a lot together over time. What I’m seeing is that you’re here together again as friends, to enjoy one another’s company and to help each other along the way if need be.”
“I’m sensing a ‘but’ coming here,” I said.
“Oh, you are getting better,” she grinned. “But! You are also here to be of service to others and I can’t go any further than that. I can go a little further with you, Brad, and tell you that you must first be of assistance to this house. That’s your first hurdle. Get past this and you’re on your way.”
“To what?” I asked.
“That’s for you to find out, not for me to tell,” she answered enigmatically. I smirked at her response; unyielding mysteries gave me a bellyache and I was starting to get a good one. She looked at her watch.
“And on THAT note, I think it’s time for me to pull up stakes and head home,” she said.
I hadn’t realized we’d talked so long. It was past ten already and it felt like we’d just sat down to dinner.
“Wait,” Jon said. “What about that part where you were talking about me?”
“You mean the part about your talents?” she asked. Jon nodded in reply.
“Next time, Jon,” she said with a slight smile. I think you’ve got enough to chew on for now. C’mon, Chipmunk,” she said to Ron. “I’ll follow you home, make sure you stay out of trouble,” she winked.
We walked to the Entry, saying our goodbyes for the evening.
“Alicia, we really want to thank you for coming by on such short notice,” I said offering my hand. She pushed it aside and leaned in to embrace me. It caught me a bit off guard but I returned her embrace, a bit hesitantly at first but soon warming to it.
“You’re welcome, Brad,” she said. “If you want, I can still come back on Saturday to check on things.”
“That’d be great,” Jon said as he accepted Alicia’s hug as if they’d known each other for years.
“Remember what I said about meditating. Start as soon as you can and call me if you need anything or just want to talk,” she said, handing me her card.
“Let’s tag up tomorrow sometime,” Ron called from the porch, waving.
Alicia was halfway out the door when she turned to look at us. “You two are good together. Stay that way,” she winked, turning to leave. We just looked at her, dumbly, and closed the door behind her.
“Well, THAT was interesting,” I said.
“Dude, I just don’t have the words,” Jon said, shaking his head. “She sure gave US enough to think about, particularly you!”
“Yeah, no kidding,” I mumbled as Jon walked back into the Dining Room and started to clear away the rest of the dishes.
I walked up closely behind him and took his wrist, setting the plate back down as my other hand slid slowly around his waist. Jon hissed his appreciation as I gently sank my teeth into the base of his neck and I felt his butt almost reflexively push back against my groin.
“Oh, God, you feel good,” he said.
“Leave the dishes,” I whispered. “Let’s go for a swim….burn off some steam.”
“In the dark?” he whispered back, turning to look at me.
I slid my arms around his back and smiled down my nose at him. “There’s still a pretty good moon out,” I said. “…and what we can’t see, we’ll just feel around for,” I added wryly.
I could see his tongue pressing against the back of his teeth as his smile got broader and his imagination started to synch with mine. God, he looked sexy when he did that.
“Cool…let’s go,” he said.
He tossed his shirt aside near mine as we hurried out the back