The coffee shop of enlightenment I
The coffee shop was bustling around Jered and Essie. Dishes clanked and orders flew. The cash register chinged, rattled and zipped. People moved in and out greeting and parting. None of this penetrated the bubble of intense space around the two in their booth. The waitress took their order and brought it without intrusion. All was suspended inside the conversation. The hum and hubbub around them broke like waves around a glass wall.
“I am sorry if I caused you worry. I just got caught up on another track for a while,” Jered explained once they had settled. “My father got sick. I went to see him, and one thing led to another. And, I kinda lost track of phone numbers and addresses. You know how it goes.”
“Do you remember the day we met?” Jered asked after a short silence.
“I was on that reever taxi on my way back to Esmeralda to geev my mother the drugs for her pain.”
“Do you know why I was on that boat?”
“You were on an adventure, right? Seeing de world.”
“I was sent there to find you.”
“Why? By who?”
“The Talagi,” Jarrod smiled and his pale blue eyes challenged her to believe him.
”You are jes’ trying to get me to laugh or scare me or sumtin’. Well?” Essie challenged him back with her chin, looking sideways at him her lips tight.
“Essie, you can’t scare me. I’ve been too many places and seen too much. I know I hurt you, but I stayed with you long enough for you to become a citizen and get a good start here. That was my commitment from the start.”
“What are you talkin’ about? We was married, and then you jes’ lef me and den you show up a coupla times here and there and then you are gone forever.”
“I knew you wouldn’t believe me back then. I couldn’t tell you until now, now that you need to know what really happened, so that you can go in with your eyes open.”
Essie’s face was blank with confusion and hurt.
“Our whole life together was a lie?”
“Not a lie, I still love you, Essie. You have to know that, but the marriage was to get you situated and strong here, to put you in a better place with helpers around. So that when the time came to do what you need to do, you could be strong and ready.”
“What was wrong with Esmeralda?”
“Your family was all dead and any allies you had were gone. And your benefactors could not help you anymore for fear of being discovered by lumber company workers. They had to move deep into the rainforest, but they couldn’t until they knew you were safe and growing strong, preparing for the task that they knew was coming.”
“What task, and who are these benefactors you speak of?” Essie’s voice rose a little and quickened with impatience.
“The Talagi were your benefactors. They knew the truth about you and your heritage.”
“The monkey people? They are bedtime story people not real, not someone who you talk too?”
“When? How? And why couldn’t you tell me then?”
“Would you have come to America with a man who talked to monkey people and told you that you were a child of the water people?”
“No, probably not. I would probably think you were crazy and not talk to you.”
“Which is why I am talking to you about it now that I am not trying to get you to do anything but know the truth and help you with your task.”
“I know Iyam supposed to do somethin’, but eet ees not clear at all. Eet has to do weetha farm and Random and a black bird and a dreamer that needs to be awake.”
“Random? I didn’t know he was involved. I knew you were living with him, but I thought he would just be on the side.”
“Hees part of the dreams Iyam having. Hees so much a part of my life. I need hees help. I need his help!” When she realized that she was almost pleading, Essie straightened up and tried not to look like the lost, little girl she felt like.
“I believe you. I’m not aware of all the nuances involved. Just that you need to know that you have special powers in the dream world, the Talagi call ‘Tegethnot’. ” He said the last word as if it were a delicate explosive device that he did not want to trigger.
“That’s what the bird keep saying when I see heem.”
“He is the guide and messenger for the ones who want you to succeed.”
“Who are thees ones that want me to do the task, to wake the Dreamer, the Talagi?”
“No, they are just interested bystanders with a lot of information.”
“How deed you meet the Talagi? not that I believe you yet.”
“I was with a friend on a backpacking expedition. He was looking for a new species of monkey that he had heard about that lived near the Orinoco deep in the forest upriver from Esmeralda. He was from Venezuela and went to college at Stanford. I met him at a party in Berkeley. I told him about some of my experiences in survival and world travel which I exaggerated. In my youth I was a very good liar as you know.”
She kicked him under the table without changing her expression.
He smiled and shrugged, “hey, can I help it if people believe me?”
“Never again, jerk!” Essie hissed not too harshly.
Jered nodded sympathetically and continued after a slight pause.
“Well, anyway, he let me come along on his expedition, and there we were in the middle of the rainforest with 5 guides, 3 biologists and me. We were on a small tributary of the Orinoco when my boat with a guide and supplies got separated from the others in a rapid. The guide drowned. I made it to shore, banged up and water logged but not too bad off. I waited on the edge of river for 2 days. I had to drink the water or die. But, I got so sick I was feverish and hallucinating. I saw talking monkeys before I passed out and thought I was a goner. Turned out I wasn’t hallucinating. There were talking monkeys, and they saved me.”