Miss Bianca’s Lab Day
By the time Bianca arrived at the lab, Random had all of the equipment set up and ready to go. So they had time to go over some of the data from the day before.
“Time for a break, Mr. Random,”she said with a sigh, “We are ready and we have half an hour to spare. You are on top of everything today. And, why is this?”
“I drank a lot last night?” Random shrugged.
She laughed and shook her head. “I will make tea and you will tell me about it.”
Random told her of his night at Steve’s and their plans for the weekend.
”Oh, you must take a few days off more. Just to think things over. It takes time to make such big adjustments. You can’t do this and work too.”
“How ‘bout I call Monday and tell you where I am, and if I will be here.”
“That is fine. It is just a data day anyway.”
He wrapped up his work at the lab and drove back over the hill to the office to put the equipment away for the weekend. He stopped at an intersection, and there out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of the mermaids, the flowing hair, and golden skin tones next to the luminous moon maiden. The golden one was Essie; he knew it. He turned and there it was The Whispering Mermaid. He parked and walked up to the door.
He looked for the street signs. There were none on this corner or the one across the street. He looked down the block. There was the liquor store where he had bought the fifth of Gorton’s. The shop was closed and dark. He knocked on the glass door and peered through the glass of the door. All was darkness inside. He walked back toward his car and stared up at the wall.
The Whispering Mermaid
Magical Gifts From Your Dreams
He was sure the sign had changed and swore it was changing even now so slowly that he could not be sure. Weren’t the mermaids’ eyes closed before? He could have sworn that the golden mermaid had closed eyes the first time he saw them. Now Essie’s eyes gazed down at him. He walked up to the wall and reached out to touch it. A car pulled up to the stop sign, a red convertible with a thin pale young woman with dark hair wearing large sunglasses. Random looked back quickly at the pale mermaid. He turned back to the car. The woman had lowered her sunglasses. She was staring at him. She faced forward quickly, and the car jerked ahead, the tires making a little squeak of protest.
“Hey! Wait!” He yelled, but the car was already well down the next block. He jumped into his car and sped through the stop sign. He saw the car turn right at the signal at the end of the next block. The light turned red. Random put his signal on, but the cross traffic cut him off.
He was finally able to turn after a garbage truck rumbled past, but could not see around it. He had to follow cursing as a steady stream of oncoming traffic made it impossible to pass.
“I’m just upset about Essie that’s all. All these dreams and seeing things. She was just freaked out because I was staring at that mural like it was real. But, how could she tell?” thoughts clambered about over one another in his tumbling mind. He decided to go back to the shop and look at the mermaids one more time, but when he circled around, the block down from the liquor store ended in the deep woods of a park. It was a dead end with no cross street. The shop was gone again.
He parked and walked into the woods a little ways. There was a narrow path that wound among some redwoods and cedars. A raven’s rocky grating croak echoed loudly through the woods. “Boy, what is it with the ravens these days?” he thought. Maybe he’s behind it. He realized he had no one to tell this story to. Maybe Steve, Jered for sure, but he had disappeared 5 years ago after coming back into town for a while. No one knew where he was not even Steve.
He sat down on a fallen tree and stared out into the deeply folded green and brown of the underbrush. The raven croaked again and it sounded like a word that Random could not understand “Tegethnot” echoed around in his mind. He shook his head, stood and walked quickly out of the woods to his car. He decided shove all the weirdness into a box and shut the lid for a while. He could take it out later and examine it. He drove to office and put the equipment away and headed to his apartment, thinking only of getting to Steve’s and out of the City. All of this would make more sense with a little time and distance.