As Random drove the small back streets over Twin Peaks from the City College to the department office near the Medical Center, he focused on driving; the radio was off. He was part of the car. Everything that was not driving did not register. He pulled to a stop at an intersection somewhere on his way up the hill and a sign caught his peripheral vision.
Magical Gifts From Other Worlds
There was a painting on the side of the one story shop of 2 women with long dark hair over a background of dark greens and blues done in a Matisse-like abstract. One woman was white and thin and facing the street, the other was golden brown side ways with one almond eye closed and her hand covering her nose and mouth all somewhat covered by the white one’s hair as the golden one leaned in to whisper. The golden one was Essie. A horn honked and he came back into the world, pulling through the stop sign and on up the hill. He had to focus! Bianca was waiting for those papers. He made a mental note of the location of the shop and was able to make it to the UC and back in 30 minutes.
“Just in time,” sighed Bianca, she had just finished greeting the first parent and child. Today he was helping Dr. Radchishin, Bianca’s formal title, with a study on the effects of parenting styles on autistic children. They had done exhaustive questionnaires on parenting style, daily schedule, family history, environmental factors and visited the subjects in their home taking notes about almost everything. Now they were working on some simple experiments to see how the children responded to their parents and if their responses changed when parents used different approaches. Random loved working with Bianca, but the work left him cold. He was not inspired by numbers and experimental data no matter how elegant the design. Bianca said that he had helped her a lot in the design aspects. She called it his “Third eye.”
“I look at all this with my two eyes and it seems to hold water, but with your third eye you see the leaks.”
Random checked the video and sound equipment one last time.
“Did I do all right?” Bianca asked.
“Perfect, it’s all ready to go.”
They went through the experiments. Everything went smoothly.
After the last subjects had left and they were taking down the equipment. He put the last of the small pieces in the box, closed it and carried it to the office. Bianca was entering some of the data on the computer.
“It was very good today. How can you work so well on such a day?”
Random shrugged the truth was he had feared this day since the day Essie came storming in. Now that it was here, he just felt empty. He had poured his passion into her and left himself nothing.
“What you need is a funny movie, my friend, and a nice bottle of wine.”
“Could be. I guess I need to figure out how I feel.”
“Come to my house for dinner and we’ll watch some Marx Brothers. It will all make a little more sense after that.”
“Thanks, but I have some things to take care of. I’ll see you tomorrow. Do we need anything different or are we set.”
“We’re set.” She smiled thoughtfully and grabbed Random’s hand. “Take care of yourself, and stop by if you need to talk or just laugh at a few stupid jokes. I gotta million of ‘em.” She wiggled an imaginary cigar and moved her eyebrows up and down.
A small smile came onto his face.
“That works better with a funny mustache,” Random said as he turned toward the door. Bianca followed him with a concerned look.
“Really I’m alright. I‘ll tell you if I’m not. See ya tomorrow.”
He walked out into the parking lot and realized he had no idea what he was going to do now.
He drove up over the hill by the same route he had taken to get to the UC office. When he came the corner where he thought the Whispering Mermaid had been, there was a little liquor store with a cigarette ad on the side of it, a burly, rugged looking guy on a bored horse enjoying the clean taste of smoke backed by a beautiful sunset.
He went inside and bought a pint of Gorton’s and some tonic. He was not going home unarmed. Where had that shop gone? Was it just a daydream? He had been in that right brain state. Random drove around the neighborhood just to make sure he was not on the wrong block, but no luck. The Whispering Mermaid did not exist at least not where he was looking for it.