They all walked back to the house in a group. Small things were tossed of shelves. Stereo was on the floor, but the house seemed perfectly sound and there were no broken widows or shifted door frames. So Emmylou put on the radio to see if there was any news of an earthquake. But nothing was being reported.
“Seems like it was something local and on the surface,” Rod said.
Just then the raven came flapping up and perched outside the living room window.
“That bird again,” Emmylou said to Larry.
“Zat the one that speaks a strange language.”
“Yeah,” Emmylou opened the window.
”Tegethnot, “ said the bird clearly Rod and Essie turned as if both of their heads were on the same string.
“That’s what it said to me yesterday.”
“Tegethnot?” asked Essie.
“That is the before waking dream the talagi told me about. The spirit world of the water people,” Rod said in the dead still that had fallen. Outside the rain and wind had stopped and the air seemed to held in suspense like a breath.
Everybody in the room turned toward Rod who shrugged and said, “Maybe we need to talk. I think you all might be in a position to understand some of what is going on.”
Just then there was a knock on the door. Emmylou looked puzzled, shrugged and walked out to the entrance way to answer it.
She opened the door on a man of about 35 years who looked like he had walked through a storm two miles down a gravel road. It was Random.
“I hope you don’t mind the gate was open so I just came up to the house. Long time, its been a long time. Have you seen a woman about so tall.” he held his hand palm down up to the level of his chin “with a Latina accent.”
“Yes she’s in my living room. Nice to see you again, Random, come on in and join the party. I have a feeling its just starting.”
He walked in passed Emmylou and straight to Essie and picked her up and gave her a huge kiss. He did not show any sign that he saw anyone else in the room.
She pulled herself free after a couple seconds of completely giving into the kiss.
“Random?! How deed you find me?”
“That is a long story. But why didn’t you tell me where you were going, leave a note. I thought you left me for good.”
She came back close to him and put her arms around him.
“I thought I was leaving for good and I deedn’t know how to explain where I was going.”
Random suddenly became aware of the others in the room. The first one he noticed was Rod who was standing back.
“When the ground shook I thought you were close. I just knew it, Man.”
Random looked at him, “I didn’t think I would ever see you again. Where in hell have you been for 5 fuckin’ years.”
“Hey man watch the language there are minors present.”
Maddie perked up at being referred to and said, “Hey I am a lot better at swearin’ an’ that anyday.”
“The thing I wan’t to know is what the hell is going on here?” Emmylou interrupted in exasperation and utter confusion. “Can anyone tell me what all this means?”
“Yes,” answered Rod, Random, and Essie at the same time.
“Well not completely,” added Random.
“Somehow I get the feeling that you are not a reporter and she is not a photographer. I do believe that you are friends with him, and I remember Random talking about you the last time we met. I don’t think I told you where I was living and I bet you lost my number.” This last was addressed to Random. He looked guilty.
“I was very distracted that day. It was the day Rod disappeared and Essie showed up at my apartment. A lot was going on.”
All eyes on Rod. “Hey I came back and explained what I could. I said I was sorry and Essie knows the truth now. I hope we’re OK.”
“Yes we are OK”
“What about he last 5 years? We really thought you were dead or in some prison some were.”
“I just had to go. It was all too stale. I tried to stick around, but I had to split. I went back east, worked for my dad a bit, I thought about you guys, but I was busy, Man. Living you know. How’s Steve?”
“As loose as ever. I just spent a lot of time with him this weekend. It was a weird weekend, weirder than Mexico.”
“That must’ve been weird.’
Emmylou suddenly stood up and said, “look we have to figure out what is going on here, and the only way we are gonna do that is to put all the cards on the table. And that is obviously going to take a while so before we get to that let me just get my business out of the way.” She turned to Larry and said, “Can you get the goats and cows in and everything closed up.”
“Yeh, I can, but you hafta fill me in on this stuff when I get back.”
“Done, thanks Larry.”
“No problemo,” He said as he went out the door and across the yard to the goat barn.
After Larry left Emmylou led them all into the kitchen and started to prepare dinner for everyone. She started with tea for Random. As he drank his tea he told them about the dreams he had and the things that had happened, about Steve and Lin Chen, and coming to the farm the first time, and Karen Masterson and Lucille, the cards and Essie chimed in about her experiences growing up in the little provincial village on the Orinoco, the tales of the talagi, and tegethnot. And Rod told of his experience with the Talagi and how he brought Essie to the US by using his father’s yacht sailing up through the carribean and into New Orleans. His father used the yacht to smuggle people who were important to his business. He got her papers from his fathers connections in the state department and married her to make her more legitimate. When she became a citizen, he left for a year and came back to divorce her and hung around for a while on the fringes of her and Random’s life together and then disappeared again.
Finally it was Essie’s turn to tell what made her leave early Thursday morning.
She woke up from a dream. The only thing she could remember was a black bird flying over a farm and horses running like fish in a stream and it all made no sense to her but she knew she had to find a farm that was a school. And she remembered when they had passed the road and driven to the gate that first year they were together and there was no sign just a rough gate.
“That was before I started selling my things to Felton. I was still working in town and renting out more of the place,” Emmylou explained, “but I gave Random my phone number and address when I ran into him in San Francisco.”
“I am sorry about that, but I was a bit preoccupied by Essie’s situation at the time.”
“Well, anyway I remembered the highway and a tiny town close but not dee name, but I could not take the car to get there. I had to do eet on my own. Weeth my own things.”
She had gone out to hitchhike and was picked up by a pervert who took her back to his place.
“He kep’ saying. “I jes’ want to get my hands down yer pants, missy and it’ll all be fine. I’ll take you wherever you wanna go. Well when he came to a stop sign I jUmp out and run I walk an’ he follow me around an’ finally geev up.”
She decided to take a greyhound. She found an ATM and took out 200 out of her savings. And called a taxi. By this time it was getting light and she was exhausted. She went to the bus station and bought a ticket for Santa Cruz and figured the bus would go on Highway 9, but it took a different road so she ended up in Santa Cruz.
She had to get a cheap motel room and sleep for a while. She woke up Friday evening and went out to rent a car in Santa Cruz but it cost too much. So it was back to hitchhiking. She got a ride up to Felton and arrived there at 10:00 at night, and the woman who picked her up was kind enough to let her sleep on her couch until morning.
“She said she could take me to Weston in the evening and she deed. And that ees when I met Maddie when I see sumteen in the dark like two eyes of a wolf.”
“I saw that too!” Emmylou broke in “that very same night two nights ago. And I dreamed of horses like fishes too! This is all very hard to believe.”
Random brought out the cards and showed them and did a reading on the table. He had everyone take a card and from the spread deck and place it in front of them face down.
“Yours is the star,” he said to Essie. And she turned up the star.
“How you know dees?” and Essie face changed as she looked at he picture. It was a picture of her as a mermaid. And Random told her about the Whispering Mermaids shop which was the start of all this and got him going to Steve’s which led to him realizing that he had to find her no matter what.
“Anjou deed?” Essie said teary eyed, “eben though I lef’ you without a note an’ take all my clothes, which I los’ to the pervert. They were een hees car.”
“Well that will teach you not to hitchhike. Only crazy people pick you up.”
“Even I know that an’ I, but then I went out to the lake with a crazy woman who sees eyes in the night, “ Maddie chimed in just to keep her place in the group.
Rod sat silently observing the whole situation. He looked more and more like a dark prince.
“Yours is the devil. He said to Rod” and Rod’s card was the devil.