Our Parallel Hearts, Chapter 4
I'm standing behind Adrian when Ronin is at the door. Ronin looks...nice. He has a suitcase with him. My heart is skipping a beat seeing him. The two of them hug one another. At that moment you would think that Adrian wasn't upstairs just a few minutes ago threatening to kill him.
"This must be...your boyfriend."
"Actually it's my husband, Ontario," Adrian states.
Ronin does something odd. I think it must be something particular to this world. He leans in and kisses me! ON THE LIPS!
"Ah...a greeting from Taured," Adrian recognizes.
Adrian isn't bothered by it. He seems to halfway expect the small pec on the lips that Ronin just gave me. I'm shocked by it. I'm shocked particularly because his lips are so damn soft. The big lips are like soft pillows as they press up against my skin. It damn near catches me off guard and gives me goose bumps.
I press my hands against my lips, "It's...it's nice...to, um...meet you."
"You know the funny thing is I feel like we've met before," Ronin states.
"I'm happy you came here for a visit. Here let me take your bags up to the guest room and get it ready for you," Adrian offers before turning to me, "Baby why don't you give him a tour of the house."
Adrian walks upstairs leaving us. As soon as he leaves I feel a heaviness on my chest.
"Oh my god...thank god you're here," I state.
He clears his throat, "Ontario, was it?"
I watch Ronin turn his face at that moment. He's looking at one of the cameras right in the hallway. I notice. There are two right in this hallway. The living room seems to have several more. I had almost forgotten we were being watched.
"Yes," I state, trying my best to pretend like I just met him.
"Would you mind showing me to the bathroom?" he asks.
I take him to the bathroom, praying that I'm able to guess it. Thankfully the houses here were pretty similar to the houses in my own dimension. I try a door close to the kitchen and sure enough it's the bathroom. Ronin and I pile in there relatively quick and immediately I hug him.
I don't know what comes over me. I just hug him as tight as I possibly can.
"Damn...thought you hated me..."
Shit. He had to open his mouth. I push off the man from Taured and stand up against the bathroom basin all of a sudden very embarrassed by my own actions.
"I'm just happy to see something somewhat familiar," I state, "I'm feeling a little overwhelmed."
Adrian was a familiar face but then again he wasn't. I didn't know this Adrian. This Adrian was passionate and he was also somewhat brutal.
"We don't have much time. You have to be more careful Ontario."
He was right. I was being careless almost revealing our history in front of those cameras.
"This Adrian. My husband in this world...he wants to kill you."
"I knew that."
I had sworn I was breaking some serious news to Ronin but he doesn't seem somewhat the slightest bit concerned or surprised at what I was telling him. If anything, he seems annoyed that we are wasting time in the bathroom discussing something he already knew about.
"This world has no secrets, remember?" he asks, "He's a patriot. He's suspicious of me because of where I'm from. This is how things are in this world. I'm from Taured. Sure I was adopted but I was still from there. People don't trust the unknown. In this my world that's one of the worse things you can be."
I remember how people looked at him on the plane. Taured scum. That's what he was called."
"Taured is the only place in the world where there is no All-Seeing Eye. It's a wasteland. It's an example to the rest of the world about what happens when people live in privacy."
I could only laugh at the concept.
"That's bullshit. Where I'm from we live in privacy and it's nothing like that."
"I know...your husband told me about it," he starts before getting a little awkward and saying, "Your other husband I meant, on the plane."
"Was that before or after you fucked Ezra?"
Awkward. Awkward as fuck.
"Are you ever going to forgive me for that?" he asks.
I don't know why it was so important to Ronin that I forgive him. A part of me wanted to know the answer to that question as well. Even the idea that this man was the same man who had sex with my husband was hard to swallow. Maybe it was my own insecurities. Ronin was better looking than I am. He was taller. He had more muscles. I could never compete with a guy like Ronin. And in my world, my entire marriage was in peril because of Ronin.
He had single-handedly destroyed my life in more ways than one. It's crazy how your only enemy could be the only person that you could depend on when the shit hits the fan.
"Get me home and I'll forgive you for anything."
I'm lying. I could never forgive him. Clearly. But for some reason, he seems to want that forgiveness. For some reason, that's important to him. My best shot at getting back home was using his need to be forgiven for fucking my husband raw in the back of a plane.
"My grandfather gave me the suitcase. He had been trying to set up a meeting. A meeting he's been trying to set up for 10 years to give them what's in my suitcase."
"What kind of meeting takes 10 years."
"This is big, Ontario. It had the device that brought you here," he explains, "My grandfather wanted me to deliver it to the Blind. I was able to have a preliminary meeting earlier. Tomorrow morning they are going to send someone to get me. "
I remember the name. The Uber driver had mentioned a group called the Blind. The way he had talked about them made me know they were nothing but trouble. Now I was supposed to go with Ronin to meet them?
"Aren't they renegades. Isn't what they do illegal?" I ask.
"The device I have belongs with them. They'll know how to use it. We only have one chance though. Again it's taken 10 years for this meeting. It HAS to be tomorrow morning or we'll have to wait 10 more years."
Why did his grandfather have their device? What is so specific about this timeline? Something was off here.
"What happens if we don't meet them?"
"We have no choice."
"You can work the device yourself."
"I don't know anything about it. All I know is the name of it. It's called a Parallel Heart."
"You also know it controls dimensions to other worlds. So let's do what we did before. Let's both touch it."
"What if we don't end back in your world? What if we end up in a world worse than even this? What if we end up on an Earth with no Oxygen and die immediately?"
Fuck. I hadn't thought about that.
"Ok. I get it," I state...pausing before saying again, "I get it."
"Tomorrow morning be outside. They come get me at 9 am. Don't be late. I don't know how else to get in contact with them. It's a once in a lifetime thing. The Blind don't just pop up for anyone. If we don't meet them tomorrow then we won't meet them at all."
He keeps stressing it.
Tomorrow morning was our only window. Tomorrow morning was my only way home.
"They'll send me home."
"Fine. I'll do it. I'll meet them with you."
"We will know them because they'll be dressed all in black."
He has this look on his face. This look that worries the fuck out of me. The fact that you only had one chance to get in contact with this group was weird to me. The way they were hiding was weird to me.
"Is it safe Ronin?"
He doesn't answer.
I look at him hard. I can see this terrified look on his face.
"Ronin is it fuckin' safe?" I ask again.
I don't get an answer. The door opens at that moment and Adrian is standing there. Adrian has this confused look on his face. He's staring at us surprised we are in the bathroom. I wonder how suspicious it looks that the two of us are in here.
"Everything OK?" Adrian asks with a smile on his face.
I don't know what to say. I'm still thinking about the look of fear that Ronin had on his face. Something was spooking him about meeting with the renegade group. I didn't know what it was but I could feel it. I knew that he was barely able to contain himself.
"The toilet was acting weird," Ronin says with a smile, "Your husband here was just so good to come in and help me fix it."
Ronin was a good liar. A little too good. It made me even more worried that he couldn't even lie to me a few seconds ago and tell me it was safe to meet with the Blind. I watch the way Adrian studies his face slowly. Then Adrian attempts to study mine but I look down at the tiles on the floor to avoid his peering eyes. Adrian leans past both of us, brushing past me in the process.
Adrian flushes the toilet. It flushes freely.
His eyes are like darts. They make me feel so...I don't know...heavy. That's the only way to describe it. It's this unsettling feeling that seems to drive me up a fucking wall or something.
"Seems like it fixed itself," Adrian suggests, "Come Ontario. Ronin...make yourself at home."
It's 8:40 am the next day. I have a coffee in my hand when I walk outside to see someone who looks like my neighbor. It's a lady with a long black nightgown on. She has her kids with her. She's walking them to the bus stop. Everyone just looks normal, except these little tablets they carry around with them. They seem glued to them. I watch how her kids don't even seem to acknowledge her as they are waiting for the bus. They are just waiting but glued to those tablets.
"That's when you say good morning back," a voice states from behind me, "I think that's the normal reaction."
That last part comes in a lower teasing whisper. I stare up at the camera in front of my house. I'm sure it catches the fact that Ronin is walking up behind me. If there is someone listening to it they probably don't know what we're saying.
"Good morning!" I scream back.
"Make it last," she says back to me.
She gives me a thumbs up at that moment. That's when I see her kids do the same thing. They give me this thumbs up and point all of a sudden in this weird way.
"What did she just say to me?" I ask Ronin.
Ronin says something after that but I completely miss it. Because when I turn around to look at him I realize he doesn't have his shirt on. Holy. Fucking. Shit. He could be giving me the meaning of life right now and it wouldn't matter. Ronin without a shirt on is the epitome of a body. The people in this world might be able to just look at him and tell he is a certain ethnicity but I can't. He looks like a mix of all the fine ass motherfuckers in the world. And it's fucking amazing.
"You're not listening to a word I'm saying are you?" he asks me.
"No, you're abs literally crunch when you talk," I state, "It's like they are having a conversation with me of their own."
Ronin's stomach is the best part of his body. I've never seen someone with abs like his before. They are vivid. Maybe they've discovered some way to 3d impose abs on a man's body in this world or something. I just keep seeing how cut they are. It's like he's hiding bricks underneath his skin.
"I hope we have a regular day today. Where everything is regular...and nothing is...abnormal," he states clearly in code language, "It's almost time."
Almost time to meet with the Blind.
His eyes dart to the nearest camera. I got it. I got it. He wanted me to stop acting like a fucking weirdo which was hard in this world or mine if he had walked around with no shirt on like he was doing. Just a little while longer.
"Adrian...is expecting us for breakfast."
He looks down at his watch. He has no shirt on but he's managed to keep his watch, "We have time for breakfast."
He leads me back to the house. He doesn't wear a shirt on for breakfast either. Adrian doesn't seem to care.
Adrian and Ronin are catching up. Ronin put on a damn good poker face. It was hard not to realize how he smiles at Adrian. It was hard to realize how Adrian smiled back. I felt so out of place. It was nothing really real about it. Adrian wanted to kill Ronin. Ronin knew Adrian wanted him dead. They both probably knew each other knew the truth. Yet they were acting like nothing even mattered.
"So I'm probably going to stay in town for a little while if you don't mind," Ronin states, "I just have some business to take care of."
"Actually the government."
All lies. Every last bit of it. I envied the fact that Ronin can lie with a straight face like that. They have finished the breakfast that Adrian made. The eggs taste the same but the meat here tastes watered down almost as though it's been overprocessed or something. I eat it none-the-less. I haven't said a single fucking word since I've sat at this table. I'm just studying how people communicate in this strange world and it's getting odder by the minute.
"Well, I have to work all week but maybe Ontario can show you around D.C." Adrian offers.
"I don't know, you have a very attractive husband," Ronin teases out of nowhere, "I don't want to be the cause of a divorce."
Ronin laughs. I think this is a joke. I can't tell. I watch how Ronin smiles as he turns his attention to me looking at me up and down. I'm a little shocked by it. I'm even more shocked when Adrian lets out a little bit of a laugh.
"If he cheated on me I'd know."
"Cameras don't catch everything."
More laughter. I even try to force some sort of laughter out so things won't be awkward. It doesn't help. Shit is so awkward to me. It seems as though I'm the only one feeling that way. I don't know if this kind of awkward intrusive teasing is a part of their world or just a part of this brotherhood.
"Trust me...my baby has had many temptations. Better than a Taured blood, I assure you," Adrian laughs putting his hand over my chair.
The comment about Taured seems to wipe the smile clean off Ronin's face.
"People change," Ronin states.
He states it bluntly. Regardless of how much I force a laugh to make this less awkward, things aren't any less awkward. Luckily Adrian doesn't seem to be taking Ronin seriously or at least doesn't want to take this moment seriously. He turns to me and smiles.
"He's not going anywhere, are you baby?" Adrian asks me.
"Of course not."
"See," Adrian states, "That's what 40k views does for you."
"Oh...you haven't seen?" Adrian states out of nowhere, "I was wondering why I haven't seen you with your Eye device."
"I think I misplaced it on my last flight."
"No worries. I got your spare around here somewhere."
I'm surprised when Adrian leaves. I take a look at Ronin. He takes a deep breath. He doesn't say it but I know he's thinking the same thing I'm thinking. Adrian was pushy as hell. When he comes back he sure does have a device with him. It's the same device I saw the little girl at the airport. It looks like a tablet from our world. I look at the tablet confused.
I press my hand on the screen and nothing happens.
"What are you doing?" Adrian asks, "Unlock it."
Fuck. My heart is racing. I had no idea what the password is.
"Um..." I start again, "My mouth is getting dry."
Adrian is looking at me weird. He takes a step back. He's studying my face. For a minute it's as though he can see right through me. I wonder if he can tell that I'm not the same boy that he knows. I wonder if he can tell that I'm not the same boy he fell in love with. I'm nervous. I'm scared to death.
I had no idea what the fucking password was!
"Sometimes when I unlock my Eye Device, using my right eye it gets a little glitchy," Ronin says out of nowhere.
I turn to Ronin. He is giving me a clue. He's trying to help me. I look over at Adrian and can tell he's getting more suspicious of me at the second. I have no choice. I close my left eye and open up my right eye. I stare at the screen hoping something will happen. Anything.
Sure enough, the tablet unlocks using my right eye. Adrian seems to drop the suspicious look he's been giving me. I exhale deeply feeling this heaviness all of a sudden.
"See look. 40k..."
I watch as Adrian types in my name in the search bar. All these videos pull up. They look like they are being stored online. There are so many fucking videos. Videos from before I even came back. Videos of the old Ontario. What he clicks on isn't the old videos though. He clicks on something recent.
I'm shocked when I see what he clicks on.
I hear moaning and all of a sudden I notice what we're watching.
It's a sex tape! It was a sex tape of me and Adrian!
"Did you see this one, Ronin?" Adrian asks.
I look over at Ronin. He seems awkward, "Nah, I must have missed it."
"Here, check it out," Adrian states.
I almost get caught again. I don't let Adrian pass it to Ronin. The violation of my privacy is so intense. I had a weak moment and had sex with Adrian because I thought he reminded me of someone from my past. After what I had been through with Ezra I needed that.
"What's wrong?" Adrian asks.
I had to remember. There was nothing as shy in this world. I had forgotten about the cameras but Adrian knew about the cameras. He knew about everything. This was normal for them. Everything was out in the open, including sex. Everything.
"Nothing, just don't want you to break it. I'll hand it to him," I state.
I get up and walk over to Ronin. I don't want him to look at this. I take my time walking over to him. I have to give it to him. I can't be suspicious around Adrian. Adrian was already onto me. He already was suspicious of me.
Ronin takes the video.
Here he was. Watching me get fucked by Adrian. Adrian is sitting next to us with this proud smile on his face.
"Nice stroke right?" Adrian asks.
The way he says it...it doesn't feel...right. I thought it was this moment that we shared between us. It wasn't. Adrian was fucking me on display in front of the entire world and I felt violated. Were there no blocks on who could see this? Was there no limit?
"Pretty good," Ronin states.
I'm facing Ronin. My back is to Adrian. My lip is quivering.
"Read the comments. People are loving Ontario. Look how tight my baby's ass is. What you think of my man's ass Ronin?"
Ronin gulps and hesitated, "Um...'
"What you think of his ass?"
"It's tight. It's definitely," Ronin starts off before taking a deep breath, "I mean...yeah, Ontario has a nice ass. I'm sure it felt good."
"It felt really good. He was begging for the dick man. There's a bunch of people who recorded reaction videos where they are masturbating to us. Men and women."
I feel sick to my stomach. I think Ronin can tell, "Here, I've seen enough."
"What? No. You're getting to the best part. `Make it last'. That was my mom's favorite part. She called me as soon as she saw it. Can you believe he was so passionate? You ever saw someone so passionate? Usually, we're lucky if we break 3k views. Can't wait to get to work on tomorrow. Everyone's going to be talking about it."
Why am I emotional? I know it was weak to be emotional but I felt...violated. There was no other way to describe it. I'm standing there trying to keep this brave face on but all the while I'm really dying inside. It isn't just the video. It's hearing Adrian talk so nonchalantly about a moment like that. His fucking mom called him about it?
This was literally voyeurism.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
And all of a sudden I just feel exposed. It's everything. It's this world. It's this husband. I feel like I've been thrown into a world where the spotlight is immediately on you and there's no way to hide from it.
"It's fucking enough man!" Ronin states banging his tablet on the table so hard he nearly breaks it.
He definitely seems mad out of nowhere.
He takes attention off of me, giving me room to pull my shirt up and quickly wipe the tears off my face and pretend like there's something in my eye. If I didn't have to pretend for Adrian I had the feeling that someone was watching us do something. I had to pretend for whoever the hell was watching us. That was the worst sort of feeling.
"What's the anger about?" Adrian asks giving Ronin a hard look.
"Just kind of annoying that you keep talking about it," Ronin states out of nowhere, "We get it, already. It's just...some things should be a little more sacred. That's all."
"Sacred? That sounds like some Taured bullshit," Adrian shakes his head, "God, you still have that bullshit in you, don't you?"
"I'm all about the All-Seeing Eye," Ronin responds automatically as though it was programmed in him to say that, "But the way you are talking...it just seems a little. I don't know. You just seem insensitive. That's all."
Adrian shakes his head, "Do you know why Taured is a piece of shit and the rest of the world is so far above. It's because the rest of the world shares our experiences. We learn from one another. We see someone's else's mistakes before we make those mistakes. We have superior technology. We have no crime. The life expectancy for the normal adult male is 150 years old. Taured is a shithole. It's a wasteland. It's what happens when people want to keep things `sacred'."
"Maybe in a different world, privacy isn't that bad," Ronin states.
It's the first time I've heard Ronin slip. I know exactly what he's talking about. He's talking about my world. The way he says it and then quickly shuts up lets me know that he made it slip. I wonder if Adrian heard it. I look across the room at Adrian.
"What did you just say?" Adrian asks.
The way Adrian looks at Ronin at that moment scares me for Ronin. I'm terrified for Ronin actually. The suitcase, Ronin's grandfather, the device that Ronin has to deliver and the Blind all are things I am yet to understand but I do think Ronin is involved in some shit that he probably shouldn't be getting involved in. He's involved in some shit that he shouldn't be involved in.
Some shit that wasn't legal.
Adrian seems too anxious to even ask Ronin again. He instead looks over at me, "Ontario play back the tape. Find out what he just said."
The device recorded in real time. I look down at the device. Sure enough, when I went back on the Eye tablet there was a video of us in this very room from just a second ago.
"Is it that serious?" I ask, "He was probably being a smart ass. Besides breakfast is over. It's almost 9. I'm sure we have better things to do..."
We had to rendezvous with the Blind. We had to rendezvous with the people who knew how to open a gate back to the other dimension.
"I'll find out myself," Adrian responds.
Just when Adrian is about to do some digging something happens. It's these horns. I'm confused on what the horns mean. Whatever it is, thank God it stops Adrian from looking into what his brother said. In fact, he seems completely distracted. He's not the only one. I watch how Ronin turns his head at that moment.
Adrian starts heading outside. I look over at Ronin.
"What's happening?" I ask Ronin, whispering realizing the microphones might not be able to pick up my voice over the loud horns.
Ronin shakes his head, "Someone's been caught."
Ronin doesn't answer. We head outside. I realize that other people are headed outside as well. The busy street we live in is littered with people. The kids are still out there even. The school bus hasn't come yet. I'm standing there confused when I see a truck roll by.
My heart almost stops.
"Oh my god..."
"He's a member of the Blind," I hear Adrian say, "That's what he gets. Baby pull up the stream. Let's watch it from the beginning."
All of a sudden there is a big chorus of boos. The reason they are booing is because the truck is pulling a man behind them. There is a government alert. It looks like it's some sort of propaganda video put out by the government showed the execution of a purported spy in a most brutal and prolonged manner.
With his hands tied behind his back and his feet tied to the bumper of one of their trucks, the government dragged the man along the ground throughout the town.
"That's what is left of him," Ronin states without any emotion behind his voice.
He's seen this before. I want to throw up. My body is shaking.
"OPEN YOUR EYES! OPEN YOUR EYES!"
Kids are chasing the trucks. They have these huge smiles on their faces as they do it.
"Will the All Seeing Eye watch over me," Adrian states putting a smile on his face after his little prayer.
It must have been a horribly painful death. The man had his arms nearly ripped from his body, bit by bit, as he was pulled along the rough ground at varying speeds. Everyone saw every bit of it. Now they were parading his body around town blowing horns so people can see what is left of him. It's one of the most atrocious things I'd ever seen in my life.
This couldn't have been America.
This couldn't be the world these people lived in.
I run back in the house. I can't take it. Adrian doesn't even notice me. I just hope the cameras don't. I run to the bathroom and close the door. I break down. I'm crying. What the fuck was going on? WHERE THE FUCK WAS I?
"Get up...I'm here..."
I don't even realize Ronin is in the bathroom with me until he is. I'm crying on his chest. It's a nasty cry too. Snot and everything. Ronin doesn't seem to give a damn. He pulls me close. He lets me cry.
"These people are barbarians. These people are savages. I have to get out of here. I have to get out of here!"
Ronin shakes his head, "You can't."
"That dead man with the missing limbs at the back of the truck. I'm pretty sure it was the man that we were supposed to meet."
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