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The Roses We Conjour
Chapter 8

No ONe

No one hears thing when no one is listening. No one isn't a quantity or a number. No one is an entity that has subjugated my reality for many years. It has refused to play any part in remorse or understanding on my part. I am standing here looking just to notice this entity called "No one" who is obsessed with hearing me and stern on not listening. I wish I could just sit there and point to you and say that you are no one. You are the no one who has been ignoring me for all this time. It's not that simple, because the next day it would be someone else. And obviously if you were no one that that person couldn't' be no one as well. Not that many people had the same first and last name. So No One was more than an entity. No one is an organization that is intently to never hearing what I had to say. Yet no one echoes itself.

No one takes Patra seriously when she tells us that we are the enemy.

"We are the enemy," she states.

"To who?"

"To everyone," she retorts and shakes her head, "We are the enemy to the world. We have declared war against life. We are the enemy of God."

Auster shakes his head almost violently, "We clenched an opportunity!"

He is aggressive and it's almost as though he remembers something. It is almost as though he is defending something that he can remember doing. I notice the very few other people in the other pews of the church notice his outburst.

Patra is sitting there silent. She hugs her little cross and I almost want to make an "aw" sound. Her faith is strong and I can't deny that. She keeps looking at it and every point of her being makes her feel like this is the greatest thing that she possesses. The tears dry themselves on her face and she remains there staring almost like a ghost in a shell.

"Are you guys going to argue about this all night?" I ask them.

This is a showdown between Patra and Auster. Nick and I are stuck in the middle. I want to leave and Nick...I'm not quite sure where Nick fits into all this. He just seems to be taking it in. I wonder what is on his mind.

"Ok, Victor. You're right," Auster states and turns to Patra, "Look come with us and choose life or stay here and choose whatever this is. You can't hide in here forever. They'll find you."

"I know. I am protected by this."

She shows us her cross.

"A cross?" he asks.

"Don't underestimate the power of God. Even if my body is stolen from me, my soul may not be condemned."

"I love God too...more than she can know. I love God perhaps more than she does. I don't choose a pendant to hug. I go straight for the source...God, lift me up...God, protect me...protect my body and my soul."

Auster has a point.

He is such a powerful person. I remember how wise he spoke when I first met him. I remember what drew me into him in the first place. He seemed wise beyond his years. He seemed like he had all the answers to everything.

"Maybe we should leave her alone," Nick says, with this unexpected withdrawal that catches me completely by surprise.

Auster seems more shook up then I am, "What! What the hell are you talking about?"

He is a little loud. Nick signals him immediately to be quiet. I snicker a little bit about how worked up Auster gets when anyone threatens the point of getting all this over with and just leaving without her.

"Watch your mouth," Nick says.

"No! I can't believe this shit," Auster panics once again and signals with his hands as though he needed to explain more thoroughly, "These spirits want our souls. Do none of you understand what that entitles? That means we die," He says and pauses as though to make us linger on the thought of death and then he continues with more ferocity, "There is no reason to worry about someone feeling bad. We should be feeling bad. The tears shouldn't make you special, Patra. I cry every single night because I know this can't be the end! I barely started my life. There I so much more that I want to do. Why don't I get a chance to love and live?"

"That life isn't yours," Patra replied.

"To hell it is. If the real Auster Ignacio died when he was 6 then it's been mine since then," Auster argues.

He's right. He may be a little too motivated but everything Auster is saying makes perfectly clear sense to me. Why give up our lives?

"You are sinners," Patra tells him, "Auster repent now. We have broken the laws of life. I don't want to die either. Believe me I don't, but we've run out of places to hide. The only way out of the hole we've dug ourselves now is salvation. Either salvation or you will burn in hell like the sinner you are!"

I see the anger in Patra and wonder what there is in her that is so holy. What is so special about her that makes her believe that she is entitled to call another a sinner?

"You know god Patra?" I finally butt in.

I can't have them still arguing. It wasn't going anywhere. Auster didn't know how to speak to her calmly. Everything he was saying was making sense but it wasn't hitting her because of his tone and his aggression.

"What?" she asks.

"Do you know him?" I reply, "You speak the words of God with such conviction. It is as though you understand him fully. Patra, like Auster, I've come to know God in this life. Maybe I didn't know him in the last life but I know him in this life. I love in this life and I am loved. I may have not believed in God in the past life but I believe in him now. This body should not be wasted. You seek salvation but you think you'll find it by just dying? What is salvation to you Patra?"
She looks at me.

I can tell she thinks about it. Her tears start up again.

"Salvation is knowing what you did wrong..."

"...and fixing it the best way you can," I finish off her sentence before another thought can even enter her head.

"You're right."

"You guys pay attention," Nick states.

Suddenly we are all silent and it is not because of Nick's need to act respectful. We are silent because we notice that everyone has left. The few people praying in the pews have gone. The ushers that were marching up and down the isles looking for someway to make the pews seem more orderly have disappeared. The choir and organist have all left the alter room. I am looking around wondering why they didn't put out the candles. Surely they have a gatekeeper for the church that is in charge of putting out the candles. Why do they allow the room to remain illuminated? I look at the time and notice that it has gotten a little late in the day. Maybe they don't want to close it because they went into the parish for some refreshments or light conversations. My mind comes to this conclusion even though I know that in this silence there surely had to be some faint echoing of voices or footsteps. It was complete silence except for Patra's slight whimpering in the seat beside me.

"Oh god, oh god, oh god," Patra panicks.

She is afraid.

""Hold on a minute, Patra. Now listen. Do you hear that?" Nick asks, directing it more at Patra then anyone else.

I look at him wondering what it is that he hears. The church is completely silent to me. I want to assure him about this but I see the fear in his eyes. There is something that has made him afraid. I realize that he has held his breath and is steadily listening to whatever it is he thinks he heard. I decide to listen closer. There has to be something to make Nick look so afraid all of a sudden. There is silence at first, like I expected. The silence travels though, almost as though it is too silent. The only noise that I continue to hear is Patra's sobbing, until I slide down the pew a little away from her annoying whines. The noise that Nick seems to hear is revealed to me. It is a repetitive noise. It is something like a tapping noise. It sounds distant as though it is not really close to us. It can't be the furnace. I know it can't be because this sound is so distinct. The rhythm is special and the sound seems manmade. It reminds me of when people back in the day used to make beats on wooden desks.

I put my ear to the wall and listen because the sound seems to be coming from the stone. Maybe there are pipes underneath them that are carrying sound from somewhere else in the building. I shake my head as I notice that the walls muffle the sound.

"Oh wow," I hear Nick say with this subdued tension that makes me think it is taking all of his manhood for him not to turn to screaming.

I notice that he is standing near a stain glass window. I plant myself beside him and put my head above his shoulder to see his flanking version of perception. My mouth hangs open as though my tongue were about to take flight as I see people gathering in the front of the church. They are all watching the church as though waiting. I cannot really see facial expressions, but their movements are quick as though they are trying to conceal themselves. There are too many to be concealed. The entire front of the church is littered with these figures. What can explain this? Do they have something to do with all of those people disappearing out of the church?

"Who are they?" Patra asks, joining with Auster to see the frightening gathering.

"Shouldn't we be asking you?" Auster responds almost in an impatient way, "You know the most out of all of us."

"The spirits they prefer us to be all together," Patra replies, "That way it will make their job easier for them."

"No it won't. We are stronger together," Auster replies.

We continue to stare as though waiting for someone to do something to these figures. It seems as though they are getting ready to do something. I wonder why they don't enter the church. I doubt the doors are closed. From the window, I can see that several people are approaching the front door but none of them make a move to open it. They fall back quickly. They move in these sprinting gestures as though there is some kind of constant nerves that are driving them.

"Is anyone else suspicious?" I ask them while looking at these strange figures crossing around the front garden of the church, "It makes me wonder why they don't enter. They seem so anxious on these grounds. Perhaps they are people that don't belong here."

"What are you saying?" Patra asked.

"I'm saying if they are SO damn holy shouldn't they be able to enter a church on their free will? Aren't we the sinners Patra? Aren't we the ones with the damn spirits in our bodies? Yet we walk freely through a church. We know they want us dead. Shouldn't they be able to come in?"

They stopped talking. I don't know if they are thinking about it or not at that moment. It doesn't seem the most pressing matter. It bothers me though.

They stop staring out the window as though overcome with some kind of fear. Patra goes to sit down and slowly weeps into her hands. She is stuck in this personal world and I wonder if she even cares that other people are watching her depressing mood. Does she notice how uncomfortable it is making me that she cries so much? I don't know about Nick and Auster's feelings, but she is aggravating me with it. I wonder why she can't do it in private where no one can see her and criticize her for sensitivity. Auster is the most calm of us. He is crossing his arms and has meditated into this disposition of calm assessment and development.

"They can't enter right?" Nick asks with particular interest towards the position of a church as some type of religious sanctuary.

"No," I say, "We are safe in here. I hope we all learned a lesson as well. I refuse to let anyone speak to me in the words of God. If I cannot understand him none of you can."

That is the one thing that I am sure of. I remember the look in Ditch's eyes. Nothing would have stopped him from getting at me if he could. They couldn't come in here.

"I can't trust that," Auster replies, "We can't stay in here forever. Somehow they tracked us down. It's time to move on."

It seems the thought of separating is challenging the belief of Patra. All of a sudden she seems to be a target. The courage of her words is less potent and almost seems to fade away with the thought that she could be left.

"You are leaving?" she asks me in this weary fear, "You are going out there with those...things?"

"Perhaps it's best to sneak out the back way," Auster explains to us, "There's no reason to sit here acting like sitting ducks. I am not sure who those people outside are, but I think the best choice we can make is to be furthest away from them."


The voice comes from Patra.

We turn to her.

She opens her mouth and nods, "Ok if I help you. If I join you, you all must promise me one thing. We don't do it again. We find a way to live these lives we have until we die of NATURAL causes. We don't jump bodies again no matter what. Even if we are struck down with a terminal disease. We never jump bodies again."

I nod my head, "I never plan to."

Nick nods as well.

Auster doesn't seem to be at first but then after a minute or two he says, "Sure. Whatever. I think we should all protect one another. There is a reason that we are connected in this ordeal. We have to find what it is."

"Ok then do we wait for morning to leave?" I ask, "Or leave now."

Patra shakes her head, "Best to leave now. Morning won't matter. Those things don't care about the sunlight."

"If we do leave. Where do we go? What do we do from here?


We exit the building into the back of the church where the parking lot is. The street is completely dark, but I walk with relief to Auster's car because there are no moving shadows. Patra is still cradled in Nick's arms and he still provides this company that she needs so intently. She continues to straddle onto him as they climb into the backseat together and I wonder if it is because she still needs comfort or she is just liking his company by now. It's entertaining actually to see how they touch one another even though they are relatively strangers. My cousin had warned me about how he moved, but there was nothing between Nick and I genuinely in the first place. Yet he swore he was worried about me.

Auster starts to drive and he turns on the radio because there is this uncomfortable silence filing up the car. There is some slow throwback R&B songs from the 70s and early 80s. The music might have triggered it, but all of a sudden I feel like I am being taken out of my element. The streets seem abandoned and the street lamps single us out. I am dreaming now, imagining that every time we ride into the light we are being pointed out. Why me? Every time we pull into dark areas then we are free. As we roll downtown there are less and less dark areas. We are entering the roadway known as Route 1. There are lights everywhere. There is this weight that makes me feel like I am being pulled into this void of nothingness. I am getting worried. I am wondering how long can I stay in this nothingness until I start to make sense out of things that are senseless. It is only a matter of time before my mind will play tricks on me and I'll turn like Auster; my mind will be inundated with the floods of burden. I can't allow this to happen, but how can I get out of it when there are lights of expectation flashing on me from every direction?

"Damn Victor, damn...your building looks like Ground Zero," Auster jokes.

"Ignacio, be serious," I tell him, repeating his last name with the same exaggerated pride he had when I'd first heard him speak it.

I look and notice that it is a little bit more then an attempt to be funny to what he is saying. My entire street has been blockaded. Yellow cones stand as warnings for no one to come near. There are people outside that I can recognize and they are telling stories to the media. We drive slowly on the side street and look down to see that the street looks like a carnival. Massive numbers of media gather bystanders. There are camera crews on the scene as though there is something that needs to be videotaped. What needs to be videotaped? There are police officers marching around acting like there is something important that they need to be doing. What is the point? I know the point. Why play dumb? I know what this is just by the look of it. I think about panicking for a moment. I think about wondering where Saccharine was in all of this, but there is no need. The question is answered in my mind before it is asked. All of a sudden, I feel slightly insecure. A choice had been made by me to accept Saccharine's choices as her personal liberation, but I had not given much thought to my welfare. I feel a hand on my shoulder from the backseat. I don't have to turn around to know it is Nick. He probably has connected the dots with lines to comprehend the circumstance that has caused this entire media attention in front of my building.

He leans forward as we drive slowly past my building, "It's pointless to go there now. They might try to connect you to it somehow. You can stay over at my house tonight. You have to stay calm Victor. I'm scared you might do something. I guess I'm becoming more cautious lately. Hopefully, I don't need to be. Maybe I am just panicking, but don't do anything. Please."

I wonder what it is he figures that I am going to do, but I don't ask. I am still in deep thought as the street disappears and we are heading to Nick's house. I feel sorry for myself for a slight moment in the car. I am wondering why my life is being threatened from all angles and I am losing control of it slightly. There is this thing about circus tigers that makes me wonder. I heard stories about this whole Siegfried and Roy incident. The incident had to do with the two circus performers having a tiger that they trained turn on them. They forgave the tiger, but it is only because they must have understood that the tiger has an instinct. The instinct of the tiger is be fierce and intense. People act like it is a big surprise that the tiger did it, but I think the tiger trainers knew different. They went into the job knowing the risks. The fact that it attacks them is not the surprise but the surprise it the fact that it was ever restrained in the first place. I understood their choice to take the sole blame. How can they punish a tiger for doing what it is expected to do? Perhaps I am like that tiger and Nick expects me to act out of instinct. He expects me to do something horrible and he says that he's "scared". I am still trying to figure out what my instinct is right now. A child's instinct would be to help his mother. I am not a child and Saccharine is not my mother. She has made her bed knowing what it would lead to. She did it to save me, but she saved herself in the process. Whatever the system could throw at her would mean nothing compared to what she survived during her lifetime.

We arrive outside of Nick's house and I exit the car. I watch as Nick is making an attempt to join me outside. Patra holds onto him like a child to their parent.

"Don't leave me alone," I hear Patra whisper in a voice that I can almost mistake for romantic. She is rubbing his chest appealing to every mercy he has saying, "I'm scared. Those things might come again."

"What can I do?"

He begs him thoroughly, "Let me stay here, with the two of you. They won't hurt me with you here."

"Aren't you expected somewhere? What about your family?"

She shakes her head as though saying, "no," but also saying that she doesn't want to talk about it. I steadily laugh as Nick agrees and suddenly this helpless girl seems to have some kind of defense that I can recognize. I am not sure if it is the most advanced type of manipulation. She seems very accustomed to this simple role of a beggar. It won't work on more modern people, but I guess someone like Nick is easy to manipulate in that role.

"You can stay too," Nick offers Auster.

"I have some work to do," Auster explains, "I think I'll go research some ways to get out of this mess. It'll be best if you guys stay safe though and stay indoors until we are all together. You don't want to be caught alone by the soul hunters. I'll come back in the morning to pick you all up."

He doesn't mention anything about school and I don't really mind. Patra slightly reaches for me as we are beginning to walk up to the house. I think she wants to gain that same comfort with me as she has with Nick. I move away though and she gives me this slight silent grimace that I pretend not to see. I won't be the one to comfort her. The first time she looked at me, she rejected me and now it is my time to reject her.

Nick's house is empty. I don't know where his father is, but he definitely isn't here. Nick immediately becomes casual in the house as though he's been waiting all day to come here. He throws his shoes into his bedroom and falls onto the couch. He sighs and exhales deeply. I can almost feel the pressure coming off his chest. He is so simple. He can just sit down on a couch and immediately he is letting go of all this stress. I don't have that choice. I don't feel comfortable in this house. I don't even feel comfortable in my own house. Once a certain stress builds up, I walk around with it constantly and can only release it when I resolve it.

I take a seat beside him because he isn't offering a seat to any of us. He seems to be dazed out and I don't think he would mind if I took a seat anyway. Of course he wouldn't...he's Nick. By now, I seriously could care less because I want to share the same comfort that he has. I watch as Patra walks around Nick's cramped living room. She is looking at these awards that are on the wall. She doesn't seem specifically interested in anything, but is walking around just to view everything as though his home was a museum.

"You ok?"

I turn to see Nick watching me. He must have been watching me watching Patra. I laugh at the thought that someone else could be as perceptive as I am. I laugh slightly and lean back against his couch. I guess I understand why he could be so comfortable on this.

"You should know how I am by now," I explain and tighten my fist, "I'm like a juggernaut. Impenetrable."

He laughs as well. Good...he sees the help that laughter brings. Laughter hurts the cause of misery. Through laughter I have been able to fool myself many times into not believing the horrible fate that I was born into. However, Nick understands just like I do that impenetrable was not a human characteristic. I guess I don't mind that he is laughing, even though he may not notice how much I wished this were true. If I were impenetrable then I wouldn't have to worry about anything. There would be no checks and the balances would fade away for me.

"You want to put on the television?" he asks.


He stays quiet as though he is surprised that I didn't just answer. I look at him wondering why he acts like this. Patra becomes aware of the circumstance so fast and then she walks over to where we are sitting. She crouches down a bit until her head is at the same level as ours.

"Don't you want to know what happened at your apartment?" she asks and continues, "It should be all over the news by now."

"I know what happened."

"Do you know everything?"

She asks me as though she is criticizing me. She is making an attempt to bring forth the nature in me that I haven't really tried to hide. Spiteful trash. She looks at me with her precise stare and focuses in me. Is it so awful to her that I do not panic for my mother? Of course she doesn't know that my mother is going to prison, but perhaps she suspects it. There is a chance she may know something about it. She looks at me as though suggesting that I am such a horrible son because I don't care. If she knew that I did care, what would she say? I sought protection from that fate of endless stressing and have found a way to accept whatever should happen to Saccharine. It's better that it doesn't hurt.

"No, I don't," I answer and look at Nick, who is watching Patra as she speaks.

She doesn't say anything as a reply even though I am sitting there waiting for her. She isn't afraid to ask, but seems as though she's gotten some kind of point across already. Patra looks a little satisfied for the moment and she sits in her chair quietly retreating to her mental solitude. She silently picks up one of Nick's books without asking and begins to read it. Nick doesn't say anything to her and I really don't expect him to. We are sitting there in silence waiting for time to go past. For a moment I feel this anxiousness as though there is something else that we should be doing. I hate the feeling of anxiousness. I like to feel that calmness of patience that comes over me and I immediately decide that it must be approaching boredom that causes this anxiousness.

"I need a breath of fresh air," I announce.

I get up and walk outside of Nick's house. I stay on the cold porch. The air feels very thick as though it has become a part of my body. There is no wind to rustle the trees and they stand perfectly still in this thick night air. There is a lot of traffic noise as cars pass by us quickly. The cars trample across these weeds that have some how found their ways to the surface of old asphalt. I watch as the weeds die and I don't necessarily feel anything. I am not really a nature lover. I appreciate the people who do love nature. I like how they feel as though their cause is more important than anyone else. They rebel and regardless of the reason, they are capable of defending it. I've never been romantic as the Romantics are. I won't cry for flowers and love the animals when I cannot do the same for myself. The soft wind brings my only temporary connection to that romanticism and it is not here tonight.

I fold my arms and lean forward a little bit. I hear footsteps and I think they are Nick's footsteps because of how heavy they are. He walks heavily. I begin to hold my breath and stare at the trees across the street. They are immobilized from common. Perhaps there is a reason for God to have created them so tall and so strong. Those trees might be so strong for a purpose, but it is not for me to worship. How can I worship something that is not moving? The roots are dug too deep in history. The branches never travel too far. The only thing that is moving them is my wind. My wind can't move the trees forever. It stays there like a rock and no one can argue that there is no purpose of a rock but to gather dust. The trees growth is too slow and the institute of the tree cannot be moved no matter how much I make my wind blow.

Nick walks up beside me and we stare out. Patra is not with him. He stands there with his skinny lip folding over the other and he folds his arms imitating me. His bronze skin turns brown and seems to reflect the sighs of relief that he reflected inside. Nick pretends as though I am offering him some kind of meaning through our silence. There is nothing for him to obtain even though he tries so intently.

"Those stars are beautiful," he tells me.

I don't answer him because I don't want to disagree with him. They are just sparks of white against blackness to me and I don't want to make him think that I am not deep because I can't see the beauty in those stars. Perhaps if I saw them closer up then it would cause me to say they are beautiful but they aren't from here. They aren't beautiful in my eyes because my eyes are like the windows in Patra's church. They are stained with painted memories of the past.

I hold my breath.

Nick continues to speak about the stars. He appreciates them I believe. He points to different stars and names groups of them. I am sure I have no idea what he is talking about, but I pretend like I am listening anyway. I can't listen though. I am concentrating on holding my breath. Nick laughs slightly probably from something that he said and thought was funny. He once again points into the sky as though he is trying to reach them. I stop staring at them and stare at the ground. My lungs empty with air and my chest has this heaviness on it. My throat is coarse from tightening and capturing the air before it attempts to enter me. Things look different when you have held your breath for as long as I am holding my breath. I look up at the stars again but this time I see youth. I see children running across them like mice across an attic. The children run across the black field with openness and they are the little white dots. The stars aren't moving though. I am the one moving. I feel a little dizzy and it feels that that the world has finally begun to make movements. After all that time, it finally decides to move! The star children are dancing across the sky and they all merge into one white being. Perhaps Emerson found a point with transcendentalism and perhaps I could return to that child. The sight has that perfection that only a child can imagine. My eyelids seem to only remain open to see how the stars move.

Perfection can exist in no other type of mind but that of a child or childlike person. It happens before the world becomes too much with you and you stare to see the complexities in things. Once you feel like you know too much you start doubting Superman and it's all gone.

I feel my body turn quickly and the image becomes skewed before it disappears completely. I have fallen onto the floor and I look up to see Nick standing over me. He slaps me for a moment and I need it because I still feel a little bit dizzy from holding my breath for so long. I breathe deeply and take in oxygen from around me. I am taking in something else too. I am taking in reality. I am breathing deeply as I sit up and look across the street as one of those trees. The wickedness of reality fills my lungs once again, but there is a gentle wind that has formed up from the north and it blows the leaves a little bit. The tree won't budge, but the leaves make it seem as though the tree is moving a little bit.

Nick continues hitting me softly as though trying to tap into my reality while laughing, "What was that?"

"Oh...I just got a little dizzy," I explain to him and dust off my hands without getting off the ground, "I hold my breath. It isn't the first time I've done it. I have to do it several times so that I can know that I am capable of dying. If I could explain the reason that it is completely necessary, I would say that I am afraid of being too much with this earth."

"You want to feel how it is to die?" he asks a little confused and then looks up at the stars, " I can't be like you. I am so afraid of death."


"I don't know," Nick smiles and gives me a hard shrug that speaks of his innocence, "I know everybody dies. It should be expected, but when I think of it, I don't find an answer. I think about how it would feel like to die. I imagine how it feels like for my breath to stop. I start to think about how it would be like for me to lose movement. It scares me and before I can really get to what it would feel like to fully be dead, I stop. I don't want to go further than that."

He sits next to me on the curb. He is staring up at the stars and I am staring across the street at the trees. He lets in this deep breath and takes in more of the air while I am exhaling. I realize that at the moment, there is not a lot that separates us.

"Aren't you even a little curious about how it would be like?" I ask him and close my eyes as though imagining that final darkness.

He breathes heavily. I can tell that he is uncomfortable talking about death, but for some reason he continues to talk about it. He probably wants to prove something to me about his character. I don't mind allowing him to manipulate my perception of him for the moment. It is perhaps necessary to acknowledge his braveness. Most people want to push the issue into the back of their minds as though it does not concern them. They want to hide behind good actions as though their death will not be as complete if they do good things. They don't want to face the possibility that all the bullshit they did on earth may mean nothing once it was time for death or then again it may...

"No, I don't want to know," he tells me, almost in an emotional whining but then stops for a moment. He laughs steadily as though he finds it silly that he is allowing it to affect his mood, "I just have a lot of things to do before I die. That's all."

"You sound like Auster," I explain to him.

He laughs. Perhaps he notices that he does sound a little like Auster. I don't believe that Auster is as afraid of death for the reasons that people like Nick are. Auster is not afraid of the concept of death but is frightened because he feels as though he has a lot left on this earth to experience. History fills the youth with so many hopes and aspirations about life.

"Is that so bad?" he asks me.

I shrug. What is badness? I answer around the question, "Auster is choosing to spend all the possible days we have in these bodies worried about trying to avoid death. What if they get us tomorrow. They chase behind us like those killers in those suspense movies. The killer is on our tails and we are panicking. I am not saying that we should not run, but we can also find a place to hide." "Like what?"

"Whatever makes us happy. I've never lived. I want time to live before I die. I want to go live somewhere. You can come with me. Patra can't come. She won't be able to appreciate comfort when we should be panicking. Her life is a lie to me. Auster can come. I like him but he is going to panic as well so it might not be worth it. You and I can go somewhere nice like on a vacation to the Virgin Islands. Oh and I'll have to break my mother out of jail...if that is where they put her. If they are going to kill her then I'll take her right out of the chair. I'd love to see her live for once. We'll leave. Who can stop us? You've seen what my winds can do and I think perhaps even more than that. I think my winds can blow away the entire earth if it wanted. It loves me..."

Nick isn't laughing now, but he is looking at me with this interest. I speak to him with the natural aspirations in my mind. He portrays an interior with such well-defined vagueness. We are close enemies. Nick personifies the oxymoron of me through these interested eyes. We are Ying and Yang.

"I wouldn't want to go to the Virgin Islands," he explains, but his voice is not demanding. His voice doesn't have his usual base. It weakens like a surrounded deer.

"Yeah you would," I tell him and whisper it, just in case Patra could hear from the house, "Forget those two. They can deal with this by themselves. We all know there is nothing we can do to stop it. Patra knows it most of all. She is just afraid to die before she absolutely has to. She won't help us when times get rough. Her fear is paralyzing. As for Auster, he is too rash. He has too much to live for and that will make it just the more easier for him to die. He can't appreciate the Virgin Islands. He has too many things he wants to do. Perhaps after the Virgin Islands we can go somewhere more historical like Greece or Rome."

"I always wanted to visit Venice," he explains, silently, as though he is releasing some kind of dark secret that the world should not have heard. I laugh at the guilt that is ridden on his face.

I smile with satisfaction, "That is where we are going to go. We'll be in Venice when the last hour comes."

I realize how serious he is taking this, as he stops to think some more. I guess he is seeing how easy it would be to just drop this burden and he is beginning to think that these plans can actually be made into a realization. I can tell how excited he is by the thought even though he isn't speaking about it. His face is gleaming as though realizing something veiled from prior inspections of his hopes and dreams. An epiphany causes Nick to slip from humanity into this world that he can't understand fully. The excitement that he is trying to conceal makes me feel as though there is something in the way I speak that appeals to his deepest desires.

"No we can't," he explains and then throws his hands up. Even the smile has faded from his face as he speaks, "Even if I wanted to go. We just can't go. The money is not there."

"It would be nice, Nick. I am compelled just by the thought. If I can rise to the occasion then there would be nothing stopping me. The wind hasn't left me yet. I can feel it. There is no controlling the wind. The wind is some illustration of desire that man is afraid to paint. Money is not a concern. No bank can really fund true desire. They will release their locks and feed me."

He looks at me as though he does not need any more persuasion. It seems as though there is nothing more that I can say to move him. It is just up to him to make up his mind. I sound so passionate and I recognize this, but I don't think I am really so devoted to this plan. The thought would be nice. It would be simply easy to just fly away. Perhaps it is just a simple dream that is inspired by this windless night. Perhaps the dark cold trees use my mouth to dictate their anguish. Misfortune is a letter; it is beautifully written and always seems to be a little more personal. The trees cry, but there sound is a gentle hum to the sounds that Nick makes. He silently complains of wanting something more. I cannot fully understand it but it seems the idea of going away has triggered some kind of reaction. I wonder what his entire desire is. Either way, I can feel his craving as though it was my own nervous withdrawal, itching and irritating my skin. The precedence of all this need for impulsive behaviors found solace in me.

"It would be nice," he continues to say, repeating the phrase several times.

I don't know how he happens to get on top of me but he is. Our lips are locked and we are kissing. It isn't some simple kissing. It is changing kiss. We are putting everything into it. He is grabbing onto my body almost as though he owns it.

Our tongues collide with one another. His hands caress the back of my neck. They caress the back of my skin.

"Who are you?" he whispers to me, "I am not a gay man. Not in this lifetime I'm not a gay man. Who are you really to me?"
I think he is asking about our past lives. He is asking what our relationship to each other could have been. He doesn't give me the chance to answer. He is back to kissing me.

He is back to pulling at my clothes.

"Nick wait..."

"I've been waiting to do this since the first time I saw you and you are telling me to stop?"

My concentration however lies across the street where shadows are slowly unsettling the stillness. I don't notice anything that could signify more than light effects caused by a television being turned on somewhere or car lights on a side street. I figure that it must be his mind playing tricks on me until I see that Nick is noticing too.

He grabs my arm and signals toward the house. He isn't ready to stop the moment that we had together and nither. I turn, trying to see if there are indeed suspicious figures but before I turn fully I decide to just go in the house.

We enter the house to see Patra lying down across the couch with her legs elevated on the arm on the chair. Her eyes are closed and her arms pulled around her. She is beaten in a way that is similar to someone beaten in a fight. Perhaps she does not recognize it, but I can tell by the way she allows her hands to go limp. Her sleeping expression carries this very primitive look on it. She is slowly losing her original concept of meaning and it is being replaced by simplistic means of animal survival. She fears death. A fighter comes into a fight with all these techniques in how to fight, but when he is beaten down, enough that he loses hope of winning, all he worries about is survival. All she need do now is grasp onto us. We are the only slight hope she has for survival and we are not enough. She still is afraid. I know it because I can tell she is faking her sleep. Her eyes move rapidly around and aren't completely closed. Her fear has lowered her to someone who has gotten the false conception that their death should be some kind of great drama like Antony and Cleopatra. She wants to be cried for and catered to. She wants others to go down with her. She wants to gather pity. She wants kings to lead her funeral march. She wants the pope to reside over her casket. She wants every great benefit that a dying person can afford.

"I think she's asleep," Nick tells me as we walk slowly past her. He is tiptoeing in what he believes is a polite and courteous way. I watch from a distance in almost disgust as he plays this scene of covering her up and fluffing her pillow as though she were a child. She remains perfectly still until she even forgets to breathe, so that he can believe she has reached this state of tranquility.

"She's awake," I say and watch her move around as though she is just now waking up.

Her play is over and she stretches her elevated limbs. She sloppily yawns with this half-insincerity. She is tired, but she is not capable of sleep without realizing that she is completely safeguarded. I don't say anything really. What can I say? It really isn't hurting me that she is playing this game with Nick, especially if he allows her to play it.

"You guys were out there for a while," she notices aloud.

Nick's mind absently replies, "We had a lot to talk about. We probably would of stayed out there a little bit longer but you know how things seem. It's good to take precaution. It seems like strange people are everywhere. They were waiting outside the church for us, so obviously they might know where we are at times."

"You saw them outside?" Patra asks.

"I don't know."

Nick doesn't seem completely worried about seeing them. It makes me wonder even more if he actually saw suspicious people outside. Patra seems a little shook up by it, however. She crosses the room and goes to take a small glimpse out of the window. She is looking sneakily out the window and spies around. I wait for a while, not expecting that she sees anything. She continues to stare into the darkness and a look of suspicion crosses over her. She is squinting frantically. Her eyes open wider and she clutches to her chest because it moves so thoroughly against her ribcage that each heartbeat put a curve in her back.

"I have to go to the bathroom," Nick states.

He walks away. His eyes linger over to me. He licks his lips. I am amazed by the feeling that is running through my body at this moment.
I don't notice Patra has also caught the look that Nick sends to me. She doesn't say anything about it until he finally leaves the room.

That is when she says something that is stranger than I know, "You two ,are getting closer I see. You must be settling into your spirits. That's a good thing. The more you settle into your spirits, the stronger your elements will be. We will need those elements."

"What?" I ask.

"Your elements. We need them strong if we have a chance of fighting off the elements."

"No about Nick and I?"

"Oh nothing nothing...I shouldn't have said anything."
I shook my head. Patra seemed to be holding onto whatever it was she was talking about. How close were Nick and I? I wondered why this connection between us was so strong?