3 December 2004

Good morning, everyone,

I hope that those of you who celebrate it had a good Thanksgiving.  It was great having some time off but, karmic balance being what it is, this past week was an absolute bear!  >From the looks of my schedule, I'm going to have to do my holiday shopping online and forgo the sedate atmosphere of the shopping malls (now there's a laugh). 

I want to thank you for your kind letters; they're much appreciated.  I should have the next chapter up on or about the 17th.  Please forgive me;  I'm backed up on a lot of personal and work related things and the holidays aren't helping.  Hang in there and thank you in advance for your patience.

Have an excellent weekend.

Michael Garrison

When last we left our heroes, Brad and Jon were bound back to back in the burning cabin as a test fired, off-course ICBM streaked towards their........oh, wait a minute....that's the next book.....sorry...;-)  (You can tell I'm a little punchy this morning)   Ah; here it is:

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This story also deals with love and consensual sexual activities between men. If you are not of legal age, reside in an area where viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by such themes, do not read further and leave this site now.

The author retains all rights to this story. Reproductions or links to other sites are not allowed without the permission of the author.

Two Lives – Two Loves

Chapter 31

Have you ever been alone somewhere, it doesn’t matter where, just anywhere, and even though your brain was telling you that you were alone, something really deep inside of you said, ‘Nah-uh…there’s something else here, babe’? You could be pulling an all-nighter in the library working on a paper, you could be walking home from a party with no one around but you and the sound of your footsteps, you could even be in your own home up early getting coffee, and even though you knew you were alone, you also knew you weren’t. That’s called a contradiction, guys, a paradox, and it’s a big one.

Contradictions and paradoxes like these can be really spooky, because what happens is, and please pardon me while I jump on my soap box here, the left side of your brain, the part that ‘civilized’ society with only its five senses has succeeded in programming, is saying “There ain’t nothin’ here; what the fuck’re you talkin’ about?” Then you’ve got the right side of your brain, the part that ‘civilized’ society told to shut up and sit down, saying, “Okay, fine. Go ahead on, then, but don’t blame me when you get jumped…..asshole!” The left side of your brain isn’t man enough to admit when he’s wrong and the right side is tuning up with an I-told-you-so. So basically there’s a bitch-slapping contest going on inside your head at times like that. Times like where I was now.

And I should’ve known better, been more receptive. Hell, I’d been through enough by now that I shouldn’t even question a feeling like that, but it was still creeping me out big-time. Maybe it’s just something you never really get used to, being watched and knowing you’re being watched, but without being able to see who’s watching you, and THAT’S really spooky. Any guy who’s ever seen front-line service is probably nodding his head right now, muttering something under his breath like, “Fuckin’-A”. It tends to get the adrenalin pumping.

The flow switch on my adrenalin was about half open as I looked around the front parlor. Alicia looked, too. I could feel the cool evaporation from the beads of sweat on my scalp.

“You, okay?” Alicia asked.

“Yeah, I’m all right,” I said.

“You don’t look all right,” she half whispered.

“I’m okay,” I stressed.

Stressed. Now there’s a word for you. I felt like a block of ice and I didn’t need a mirror, if you could still find one around here after Jon’d gotten through, to know that I must be as white as a sheet.

The feeling of being watched was eerie. The memory of Corbin leering at me in my dream was still fresh in my mind and was very unsettling, and that pervasive feeling of sadness I was getting was…no; not just sadness, and it wasn’t so much envy anymore like I’d felt before. It was more like frustration. Impatience. Like when your dad calls you on the carpet for something and waits silently for your response.

But my fucking response to what? GOD! I hated that feeling! What was worse was that I had no idea of what to do with it and it was making me frustrated, too. Alicia must’ve felt this and took my hand again. She squeezed it lightly a couple of times, like a mother does with a child, letting me know she was there for me, that I wasn’t alone in this.

“It’s okay, Brad. Now, I want you to just relax your mind,” she said, taking deep breaths again. I followed along with her rhythm. “That’s it, deeeeeeep breaths. In through the nose; out through the mouth; c’mon, follow along with me.”

I did as she instructed for a couple of minutes and my sympathetic frustration started to fade. My heart slowed down, it almost felt lower than at my normal resting state. Very odd, I thought, but I went with it anyway.

Then I heard her voice behind me.

“Now, close your eyes and open up that big third eye of yours. I want you to look around the room and tell me what you see.”

I felt so very relaxed, “I’m liable to fall over if I don’t sit down,” I said. A part of me was worried about drifting off and losing my balance.

“I’ve got you, hon; don’t worry,” she whispered.

Alicia might be a lot smaller than I was but I had the feeling that she’d locked up stronger guys than me and wouldn’t have too much trouble catching me if need be. I trusted her. I nodded and did as she asked.

At first there was nothing. I only saw black, the darkness of the inside of my eyelids. I felt Alicia’s hand on my lower back, gently rubbing back and forth.

“I’m not getting anything.”

“It’ll come,” she whispered, “you just need to relax.”

I knew she wasn’t telling me everything. “You see something already, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she whispered. “But I’m not here to tell you what I see, I’m here to show you how to see.”

“I think I already know that.”

“Yeah, but you need to learn to do it for yourself, not get sucked into it like you usually do,” she said. “You’ve got to control, not be controlled.”

“Yes, Master Yoda,” I sighed, bowing slightly.

“Stop it,” she growled, playfully smacking my butt. I couldn’t help but laugh a little. “Get serious, now,” she said. “Let’s try again.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. I shrugged my shoulders and shook my arms a few times, loosening up like I would before a swim. I repeated my breathing exercises and got back to where I was, relaxed, perhaps even a bit tipsy from almost hyperventilating.

“I’ve got you; don’t worry,” Alicia reassured me. “Don’t think about anything…just relax and let it come to you…don’t want it to be anything,” she continued whispering, like my coach used to do during practice, repeating advice like a mantra, hoping it would take root and keep me focused. “…let it be what it is, don’t impose your own ego on it.”

Her voice trailed off as I felt it, that wave of electrical warmth starting at my feet, washing over me and touching every part of my body, every part of my mind. The darkness of my eyelids disappeared like a haze evaporating in a breeze and I began to see the parlor in my mind’s eye. It wasn’t the parlor we were standing in, though, it was the parlor from an earlier day, when the house was new. All of Jon’s uncle’s furniture was gone. The leather club chairs were replaced by heavy sofas and seats covered in a fabric that reminded me of my grandmothers’ house except that this was new, not faded and threadbare like hers.

“You see it now, don’t you?” I heard Alicia whisper. She sounded far away. I nodded, managing a weak “Yes” in reply.

“Turn around, Brad,” she said. “Can you see me?”

I did as she asked, turning inch by inch towards her, afraid that if I moved too suddenly I would lose the image. I nodded again, “I see you, but it’s like you’re there but not there,” I said. It was so strange, she looked almost transparent, but when I reached out to touch her she felt solid enough.

“Good,” Alicia continued, “Now, I want you to slowly open your eyes but still try to keep the image in your mind. Focus.”

I opened my eyes and saw Alicia standing a foot in front of me, studying me. She said nothing but seeing her with my eyes distracted me and the image in my mind began to fade.

“Focus, Brad,” she said again, running her hands down my arms.

I took another breath and the image returned, dimly at first, then stronger. It was totally awesome but still very weird; with my own two eyes, I was seeing the room as I knew it, club chairs, coffee table, leather sofa, white plaster walls and moldings, Alicia standing there watching for any sign of God-only-knew what. But in that ‘big third eye’ of mine, I was seeing the room as it was, chintz covered chairs, heavy window coverings, Victorian style wallpaper that was so busy I almost fainted from dizziness. I also saw the wall that was no longer there, with the door leading to the wood paneled office that no longer existed. And then there were those feelings creeping back again.

“He’s watching us, isn’t he?” I whispered.


The feeling of the ‘air’ became heavier again. There was the sadness, always the sadness. It was depressing and I felt a wave of anxiety churning in the pit of my stomach. There was also that odd feeling of impatience again, like I could almost see someone, Corbin, sitting behind that door, behind that desk, strumming his fingers, nails clicking on that heavy wood desk, waiting for something. But waiting for what? Dumb question. I knew what he was waiting for. He was waiting for me.

I could feel myself starting to shake. Alicia must’ve felt it and seen it; she took a firm grip on my bicep, bracing me.

“Don’t get caught up in the emotions, Brad,” Alicia said. “Take note of them, but don’t ride them. C’mon, you’re doing great.”

“Then why do I feel scared shitless?” I asked.

“Because what you’re feeling doesn’t make sense on the surface of it,” she said.

I should have felt sorry for this Corbin. I never could stand to see someone in pain or torment. In the past, I always tried to help people who couldn’t help themselves, trying to make things right for them, but this felt very different somehow. My paternalistic instincts just weren’t kicking in as wave after wave of this sadness hit me. It was like someone crying over a lost child, but why did I get this feeling of impatience? It made no sense to me, but it did make me afraid. Sadness and impatience did not mix in my mind. I should’ve wanted to help, but I just couldn’t; I was frozen.

“There’s something more here than what we’re seeing,” I noted.

“And feeling,” she added.

I watched as Alicia looked around the room for a few moments as if trying to follow a scent. Then I heard it, Dawn over Water’s soothing voice in the middle of my head, as clearly as if she was standing right in front of me.

“Remember Grandfather’s words, Three Eagles. Do not let the you of you be turned against you.” I felt a soft touch glide across my shoulder, trailing away down my arm before vanishing.

Her voice caught me off guard and I wasn’t sure I heard it correctly, “What? What do you mean?” I asked.

“I didn’t say anything,” Alicia said.

She studied me for a second, probably with that same practiced look she reserved for suspects. Force of habit, I suppose; I knew she didn’t mean anything by it.

“Did you hear something?” she asked.

“No, I..,” I stammered.

“It’s okay, Brad,” she said. “Of all people, you know I won’t laugh at you.”

I don’t know why, but I still fidgeted like a little kid trying to get out the words. “I…I think it was one of my guides,” I finally said.

“What did he say, if it’s not too personal for me to ask?”

“She…Dawn over Water,” I corrected. “I don’t know, I’m not sure I heard it right,” I said. Alicia waited patiently. “It was something like ‘don’t let the you of you be used against you’ or something like that.”

“Hmm,” Alicia pondered.

“What does it mean?”

“Well, speaking purely as a cop,” Alicia began, “I think it means she’s afraid you’re being played.”

“Played? What do you mean played?”

“I don’t know for sure, but I think it means she’s afraid your natural, sympathetic reaction to strong emotions, this sadness for example, is being used to suck you in.”

“To what?” I asked.

“Ah, well that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?” she said, returning to her mental survey of the parlor. “I’ll tell you this, though; and again, this is me speaking as a cop…” she paused as she seemed to key on something in the air. “From what I’m feeling now, if this Corbin was a suspect of mine and I was getting the vibes I’m getting now, I’d definitely look for some probable cause for a trip downtown; know what I mean?”

“Oh…please; quit trying to make me feel all good inside,” I smirked.

“Hey, hon; you asked. I’m just giving you my opinion.”

None of this was making me feel better. I wanted to just find Jon, dive under some sheets and curl up with him. THAT would definitely make me feel better. That wasn’t in the cards, though. At least not yet.

Somewhere in the conversation, my mental picture of the room had faded. I was getting tired; my familiar ‘energy’ headache was starting to let me know it was there, but Alicia wanted to continue.

“C’mon, Brad,” she prodded. “Just a little more and we can stop for awhile.”

“Yeah, all right,” I said. My enthusiasm was at a low ebb.

We started our breathing again, Alicia setting the pace for me like a metronome. I closed my eyes and, gradually, the picture returned, the house as it was, those feelings. I shuddered a little and when Alicia asked, I opened my eyes.

“You seeing again?” she asked.

“Yes,” I whispered.

“Can you see through that door?” she asked quietly, nodding towards the door into the office.

“I dunno; can you?”

“No,” she said. “The harder I try, the more something seems to push back.”

“Is that normal?”

“For your average, run-of-the-mill haunting? No; not at all,” she whispered.

“You’re not giving me a warm and fuzzy here, Alicia.”

“I’m not a sweater, hon. Go ahead, give it a try,” she deadpanned, nodding at the door again.

“Why don’t we just go open it and see?”

“Because we can’t; at least not like this. Right now we’re kind of peeking through a spiritual window. The door’s there but it’s not there. To open it, you’d need to be in a full meditative state, in the scene if you will, but I don’t want to get there just yet.”

“Why not? Isn’t that what I excel at?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah; you’re a champ at that, but you might want to do a little recon before jumping right in. Try it,” she prompted, nodding again at the door.

I sighed and shook some warmth into my arms again, clearing my throat as I focused my attention on the door. At first nothing happened.

“What do you see?” Alicia asked. She had the expectant feeling of a child who couldn’t wait to get the wrapping off some present.

“A door; do you mind?” I asked. I was a bit curt with her but my nerves were a little on edge and Alicia took a half step back. “Sorry,” I whispered.

“No, my fault, hon; I’ll shut up. You just tell me what you see when you’re ready.”

I took another breath and focused on the door again. It stood there, solid, hard as a rock; its large brass lockset gleamed at me as if daring me to get past it. I’d done it before, I’d do it again. I felt like the best way to get past the lock was to not acknowledge that it even existed, make it disappear.

Slowly, the familiar warmth crept up over me again. The painted wood of the door began to ripple before my eyes. Every edge of the molding, every turn of the inlaid wood panels began to distort as if it was a pond into which I’d dropped a pebble, until there was only a flat whiteness. I focused more, turning my attention more fully to it and the whiteness dissipated like a fog, allowing me to see through it bit by bit.

I couldn’t see details at first, only the bulk of the desk, the major lines of the window beyond and the stiles and rails of the raised paneling on the walls. After a few seconds, these came into focus and I was able to pick out more detail. I saw that the room was empty. By that I mean that he wasn’t there. I could hear the sound of a clock ticking on the mantle.

I described all of this to Alicia in short, clipped phrases as I saw it happen, as things came into focus. I was afraid I’d lose the image if I spoke too much so I kept it short. She murmured her acknowledgment of my descriptions and I felt her hand on my arm, bolstering and encouraging me, but it was like she was far away. It was like I was only half in my body and it was strangely euphoric. My fears were gone. I was just an observer now and it hit me how it is to be free of the limitations of my body as a part of me saw through that door. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before. I should have been afraid, but I wasn’t.

The mist of the vision dissipated and I could see the room clearly. I looked at the desk, with twin phones and twin, green-shaded lamps and there, in the middle of the large blotter, was the book. The book that had haunted my dreams nearly as much as Corbin himself.

Leather bound, gilt edged. It had the appearance of a family Bible but smaller. It was set neatly, precisely in the center of the blotter as if waiting for its reader. I wanted to reach out and touch but couldn’t. Alicia was right. From our vantage point, we were peeking through a window. We could window-shop but we couldn’t touch the merchandise.

Frankly, I was tired of just window shopping and wanted to browse. Somehow, I knew this book was the key to it all. It had my answers and I was determined to read it. I had to take this ‘big third eye’ of mine out for a spin and really open her up and see what it could do.

Faintly, I hoped that Alicia would truly be able to catch me if I fell over. I don’t know how I knew to do it but I deepened my focus, letting go of the mental tether back to my body and I lost all feeling of it. I lost the vision of the room as I knew it. Slowly, the room as it was enveloped me. Oh, God; I cannot begin to describe the odd euphoria I felt. That flood of warmth surging through me, almost empowering me. I was almost there.

In the distance, I thought I heard the pounding of feet, the slamming of a door and a mixture of muttered voices. They grew in intensity even as I moved farther away and I felt hands on me, shaking me. I couldn’t feel them at first but I knew they were there and I felt a pulling at my brain, hands on my arms, on my legs, pulling me back to my body. I could see it in the distance as if suspended in a white ether, staring, unmoving, just waiting. And I heard…

“Brad, wake up!...Snap out of it!...Brad, you there?...Man, you okay?!...Brad!.. Brad! BRAD!” a gaggle of voices called and I woke from my meditation with an almost screaming gasp.

My head ached, my knees felt weak and I crouched down and sat curled up on the floor, afraid I might faint and fall over. I could feel my heart pounding again; I felt the sweat cooling my scalp as I held my face in my hands. The room was silent and I knew I was being watched; not by Corbin, but by my friends. After a moment, I felt a hand on my shoulder as someone knelt next to me.

“Brad?” Alicia whispered.

“I’m okay,” I snapped, waving her off. A part of me was not okay. Part of me wanted that feeling back and all of me wanted to get to that damned book.

My breathing returned to normal. I lifted my head and looked around at them. Alicia looked at me like I was her little boy, oozing soothing concern but somehow proud. Ron and Hunter just stared at me as if I’d landed from Mars and demanded to see their leader.

“Why the hell did you stop me?” I demanded. I was brusque, but maybe I shouldn’t have been. Hunter and Ron had no way of knowing what they’d yanked me back from, that feeling of floating free, that feeling of being without limits. Alicia should have known better, though, and I was more than a little pissed.

“You weren’t prepared, Brad,” Alicia whispered.

“Man, you were like…gone,” Hunter said. Ron could only nod; I’m not sure he could speak right at that moment. “Where were you?”

“I almost had that fucking book in my hands and y’all haul me back?!”

 “You were going too far, too fast, Brad,” Alicia said. “There’s a proper way to do these things; you were taking a shortcut.”

“Book? What book?” Hunter asked.

“It’s something he keeps seeing in his dreams,” Ron said, finally finding his voice.

I pushed myself off the floor. “But if I can do it, why not?”

“Because there’s a proper way to do things,” Alicia repeated slowly, fixing me sternly in the eyes. I felt like a child being reprimanded by my mother. “And don’t give me that look; you know what I’m talking about,” she said.

Yeah, I knew she was right and I smirked at my own ignorance. I could see how that euphoria I felt was like a drug, intoxicating, mesmerizing. I’d wanted more, as much as I could get. I didn’t want to go back to my body and I knew that’s what Alicia was concerned about, why she and the guys had woken me so rudely.

“Hey, look,” Ron said, interrupting our brief moment of silent tension, “We got some subs. Why don’t we eat and chill for a while?”

“Sounds like a plan. I’m starved,” said Hunter.

“Good idea,” Alicia agreed. “Let’s talk about this and pick it up again after lunch.”

I nodded.  I hadn’t realized how hungry I was, too. The smell of the onions and peppers coming from the bag Ron held made my stomach rumble. I looked around.

“Hey, where’s Jon?” I asked. “He should’ve been done cleaning the pool by now.”

“Didn’t see him back there,” Hunter said.

“He’s gotta be around somewhere,” I said. “Not like him to miss me making a fool out of myself.”

I took the lead and headed towards the kitchen. I didn’t see him and looked out back. The hose for Jon’s ‘sniffer-snoofer’ was still snaking its way around the pool and the long handled net he used for cleaning stray odds and ends lay in the grass but there was no Jon. I opened the French doors and looked around. Nothing.

“Hey, Jon!” I shouted, cupping my hands around my mouth.

“WHAT!” I turned, hearing his voice behind me. “Quit shouting already, will ya?!”

We hadn’t seen him lying on the couch, hidden from view. He sat up, looking like he did first thing in the morning.

“Man, you scared the shit outta me,” I said. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Oh, I was cleaning the pool and this headache just wouldn’t go away so I came in to take a nap,” he said, annoyed at being woken up.

I relaxed. I think the house and everything about it was setting my teeth on edge.

“Probably still from last night,” Ron said.

“Never had one like this,” Jon sighed. “Like someone’s trying to kick my head in.”

“C’mon, you’ll feel better after you eat something,” I said. “The guys brought lunch.”

We started to go out on the patio and I noticed that Alicia kept staring at Jon. He noticed, too.


To Be Continued