Coffee Shop of Enlightenment II
“I stayed with the Talagi a year with nothing better to do than to learn their language, hunt and fish. I got pretty good at all three.”
“They talked a lot about ‘the last child of the water people’. She was only part water person and part human or ‘people with hair only on their heads’ as they called us, ‘like him,’ they would always point me out being the only one around.”
“Anyway after a year of living among them, they came to me and said they had a way I could repay my debt to them. I said I would be willing to do anything within my power that did not involve killing people including their kind. They said all I had to do was make sure ‘the child of the water people’ was safe and in a place were she could grow strong for many years. I thought it sounded reasonable.”
“So you wan’ me to believe Iyam the queen of de mermaids?”
“No, the water people were mostly human with a little bit of a race that the Talagi say came out of the dream world, Tegethnot, long ago, and somehow managed to live in the waking world and have since died out. You have a small part of that inheritance, but it is very important in being able to travel with purpose in the dream world.”
“Then why would Random have thees skeel?”
“I don’t know. I’m just telling you what I know.”
“Who sent you here now?’
“I got a message sent from Venezuela by cable. It just gave today’s date and said this exactly: ‘Somewhere east of Santa Cruz and West of Los Gatos, California. Esmeralda needs to know’. So I drove up from LA where I was staying with friends and stayed last night in San Jose. I started this morning at Los Gatos. And, here we are.”
“Thees ees why youwar not surprised to see me here.”
“I figured it had to do with you and all that stuff they told me you were supposed to get strong for.”
“So you took me to the USA because dat ees where you could keep me safe and geev me help to become strong.”
“And you have fun along the way weeth a girl you don’ really love.”
“I said I loved you, and I mean it, and I did then.”
“But, you leave me as soon as you can, when I get my papers,” she could still feel the pain of that day when she read his note. It said: Sorry, I wish I was strong enough for you, but you are strong enough for yourself. She knew those words by heart. She had not felt so strong, but Random helped her to see it.
“We just weren’t working out. You gotta know that. We were not good for each other, and I still could not tell you about the Talagi and all that, because you still wouldn’t believe me.”
“You was always lying to me.”
“I was trying to hang in there until you could make it on your own.”
“Random, he loves me, I know. He don’ lie to me,” tears were leaking out of Essie’s eyes and running down her cheeks as she said this softly, but not to Jered.
“I’m glad to hear that. Man is a good guy.” Jarrod said gently and smiled and chuckled a little, “Of course his plans were always gone astray, but still he kept us on the map. And that old wild man Steve. It has been longer than I expected.” He was silent for a while and then continued as if he hadn’t been sidetracked.
“When the Talagi sent me to you. They told me that there were forces who were close to finding you that would cause you to lose that part of you that was of the water people. Choices that you would have to make to survive would destroy the part of you that came from the water. I didn’t completely understand, but when I met you and saw your struggles, I knew I had to take you back to the US with me some way.”
“And you lie to me again an’ again. Why should I beleef you now, tell me?”
“Because, like I said, I loved you from the first time I met you and now and forever. It’s not my fault we can’t live together without tearing each other to pieces.” Jered was totally unperturbed by her passion, but not disrespectful of it.
“Oh, right, so you said before.”
“So you’ve stuck with Random? I was happy that you went to him, but I thought he wouldn’t be able to handle your temper.”
“He deedn’t pees me off so much as you,” she said with naked spite.
“I know you want me to fight with you now, but I can’t, not even for old times’ sake. Time is too precious. Some one called me this morning (I don’t know how they found me.) and said whatever your task is needs to be completed by midnight tonight, and there are balancing forces to overcome in order to keep certain aspects of the whole equation viable and safe including that part of you that belongs to the dream world.”
“But, maybe I don’ want to be part of that any more. Maybe I am bedder off weeth out eet. I would steel be with my Random weeth out these stupid dreams.” The more she thought about spirits using her to fulfill some purpose she was not even let in on, the more she thought she should just go home to Random and forget the whole thing.
Jered could tell he was losing her to her anger.
“Look, your anger is a perfectly right reaction to this situation. But you have to understand that my only interest in this is to pay back an old debt. I have no idea if what you are doing is right or will make something good come about, although I get the feeling that it probably will preserve something ancient and beautiful like an artifact from an ancient civilization, only this is preserving ancient spirits and symbols. Things that you hold inside you and if you find the dreamer and wake him then you will share this and spread it enough to make it strong enough to survive at least one more generation.”
“But, you don’ know xacly what eet ees?”
“No not being of the dream world or even understanding what the fuck that means. I can only say what I have said and probably I am guessing about a lot of that.”
“You are a stupid, stupid, foolish man, and you hurt me so much, but I see you telling the truth now. Mebbe I wanted to believe someone would love me so much to do the things you deed for me. It made me feel bery eemportant.”
“You are very important to me and always will be.”
“Yes, I know always have been from the day we blah, blah de blah . . . “ she held her hand up like a puppet and moved the fingers and thumb opening and closing it like a mouth.
Jered laughed and nodded toward her hand.
“You’re friend there is not very articulate.”
“You are always so smart. But I forgive you anyway for my sanities sake.”
“Thank you. It really means a lot to me.”
“So, what zacly I gotta do to pull dees teeng off.”
“We’ve got to find a place somewhere near hear that has a stream running through it and a yellow house and cows. They showed me a picture in my head somehow, but it was kind of underdeveloped and out of focus.”
“I theenk I know jes’ de place, but I haf to wait for a friend of mine to get home from school.”
Jarrod looked puzzled.
“Eet is a long story. And she is worth waiting for I tell you sumtin’.”
She told Jarrod about Maddie and The Eagle Tree Ranch and all that had happened the last two days.