“Him? Are you serious?”
Julia chose to ignore Selene’s rhetorical disapproval of the man entering through the bar’s excessively large pine doors, but Julia’s silent disregard did not deter her unsolicited remarks.
“You’re staring Jules. What do see in that guy? He has no discernible personality and he’s not all that much to look at either.”
Jules maintained her quiet avoidance while Selene resumed her attack. “He’s in here almost every night wearing the same black leather jacket and smug grin and the only words he manages to utter are ‘another beer’ and ‘time to hit the head’.”
Selene’s off-the-wall reference to the bathroom broke Julia’s gaze that prompted a casual glance upward as she addressed her friend’s comments.
“I don’t know. There’s something about him…almost familiar.”
“Well, he should be; he practically lives here!”
Jules rolled her eyes at Selene’s continued barrage of criticism and continued, half-turned toward the mysterious man but still addressing her life-long friend.
“It’s strange. He’s not bad looking, not shy but not outgoing either. Nothing stands out but I can’t shake the feeling that…oh, what the heck…”
Jules felt compelled to engage her curiosity and acted. She began walking toward the round table in the center of the room where the man had begun drinking his first of many beers with his posse of pals, still cloaked in their leather jackets. They felt the black coats contributed to their rugged exterior but in reality, the cold Chicago air still slightly stung their skin and not coincidentally, the table they chose was closest to the fireplace.
Julia made her approach slowly but never broke eye contact with the man. When she finally reached the table the man stood up, rather sprang from his chair like a jack-in-a-box, managed a wide smile as he pulled off his black cap and over-politely head-nodded, “Ma’am.”
Jules stopped dead in her tracks, slightly confused and thought, I’m twenty-five and he’s calling me ‘Ma’am’?
She decided to move past the man’s questionable choice of greeting, chalking it up to nerves and/or a lack of experience meeting women and managed a once-over before she responded.
He stood six foot three inches and boasted broad shoulders with a slender waist. His hair was short, black, thick and strangely in place despite the removed cap. Long sideburns reached toward a larger than average nose as both sat above a strong, square chin. His unusually white teeth beamed from his mouth like a searchlight, yet Jules seemed to find the contrasting attributes working in harmony to create a fairly pleasant, if not unique presentation. Blue jeans, black square-toe boots and a black t-shirt rounded off his ensemble.
Julia introduced herself. The eyes of the man’s friends at the table shifted back to their colleague. He was floored. He began to shake in his still cold and wet boots, now somewhat intimidated by the forward engagement of the woman before him. He could not believe the woman he had only seen from afar, indeed, admired from a distance was now introducing herself to him.
For a moment, he lost himself in her radiance.
Julia was exemplary, simple beauty. In heels, she climbed to five foot three inches. Her long blond hair fell down past her tiny shoulders just above her full, C-cup breasts. Tonight, she had on her favorite skirt, bright white, calf length and adorned with light yellow butterflies along the hem and topped with a sky blue short-sleeved blouse. She was often chilly, intentionally leaving her coordinating sweaters at home; proud but not obnoxious about her looks. Her soft blue eyes were her ace in the hole whenever she found the need to convince another to her way of thinking. Like any other night she had on her signature pink scarf, wrapped once around her delicate neck and softly flowing over her left shoulder. She stood a picture, no, a masterpiece of elegance and sweet feminism balancing strength, confidence and beauty.
Somewhere, just in ear’s reach, Julia heard Selene clear her throat. The man realized he had been gawking at Jules and had become lost in the excitement and confusion of her approach. Jules smiled, half complimented, half amused.
The man glanced down at the audience around the table, regained his composure and with chest out and shoulders back, he looked Jules in the eyes, flashed that whiter-than-white smile and delivered, “My name is Charles”.
Greer’s eyes opened to the sight of a ceiling fan and experienced a fleeting, slight disorientation as he quickly recalled his surroundings and heard the familiar voice of his friend, Sean.
“Dude, you were only out for a couple of minutes. Did you see anything?”
“Yeah Sean, I saw something, alright.”
Sean hit the stop button to halt the past life regression disc.
“You were like, out, as soon as the woman on the disc counted from ten to one, man. You were mumbling while you were out but I couldn’t understand what you were saying. So, give it up G, what did you see?”
Greer was still reeling from the vivid images, impressions and emotions fresh in his head and heart.
“It was like I was not only viewing the scene, but participating as well.” He looked over at his buddy and continued. “I felt like I was the dude, uh, Charles.”
Greer described the initial meeting of Charles and Julia and tried to convey the deep emotional connection he felt to them. “It was like I knew them, or was them, or at least him…it’s weird man.”
Sean listened intently to his best friend’s description of his first metaphysical endeavor into past lives and asked, “So, you saw yourself in a past life? In Chicago? In 1958? How do you know the year?”
Greer got off the couch that he had been lying on since before the regression began and paced the room as he answered. “The clothes, the music, it was late 1950’s. Plus, I just get that impression, ya know?”
Sean pulled his neck back and slightly raised his left eyebrow. “So, you got it psychically?”
Greer was getting excited now. “Maybe. I mean, I’ve gotten stuff before, remember?”
Sean was very familiar with his friend’s paranormal experiences. Indeed, he had had several of his own. But Sean was only willing to go so far into the experience and began to pull back.
“Dude, she sounds like a hottie. Too bad you can’t get that in real life.”
Greer was used to Sean putting on the brakes when the circumstances began to breach his non-secular comfort level so he didn’t take much from his comment although the look he shot Sean deterred any further jabs.
Greer boasted better than average looks, average height and weight. The frequent visits to the gym provided a good solid build displayed under his brown hair and green eyes. His “package”, as he refers to it, includes a good-paying job, a quick wit and a big screen television even a blind man could appreciate.
For reasons beyond his comprehension, he could not land a relationship with the right girl although it was something he longed for on a daily basis. He often scored dates with little effort and many began well and sometimes even ended the next morning. But Greer was looking for “the one”. He wanted that spark, that Lifetime movie, chick-flick relationship that delivered an explosion of realization that you are with the one with whom you will share your golden years; still pining for one another in your quiet suburban home, now empty of the children who grew up to provide grandkids that, upon their visits, provided a sense of satisfaction and closure to your past parenting efforts.
I’m only 31. I have plenty of time to find her. These thoughts did mollify him, but not for extended periods of time.
“Dude, I know that look. You’d be a ton happier if you were more like me.” Sean determined.
Greer quietly responded “More like you?” He respected his friend in many ways but had no desire to mimic his version of courting.
Sean was a player. He was a good-looking, muscular jock right at 6 feet tall, tan and although often not long on words, possessed a quiet sexiness and pair of biceps that served him well. Sean avoided a committed relationship as if it were hunting him for food.
In some ways Greer did envy his pal, but longed for the security and foundation of a relationship. Of course that would include the countless children he would raise. Truth be told, he wanted sons but would love daughters just as much.
He became pensive as he continued to pace his buddy’s living room. He lost himself in self-analyzation.
Am I too picky? What if I’ve already met “the one” and I blew it?
Sean managed to snap him out of his lip-biting, floor pacing, temporary, mental, panic attack by slapping him on the shoulder.
“Buddy, you are way too serious. Relax. Go home, write down what you dreamt.” Greer turned and before he could speak Sean corrected himself. “I mean experienced.”
Greer’s face lightened up as he began to de-stress and put aside his lament on love and asked Sean if he was willing to regress as well.
Sean looked at his Movado watch and upon seeing the time of 10:45pm he obnoxiously announced, “It’s a player’s ball out there and I’m in the game.”
It sounded as silly to him as it did to Greer. Sean’s face went back to half-serious. “By the way, you’re doing this regression stuff…why?”
Greer really didn’t have a good answer but in an effort to provide a response that would end the conversation so he could go home, he tried to recite the sales pitch on the back of the CD cover.
“It’s widely believed that past lives give us insight that helps us in our current existence.”
Sean looked at Greer and asked incredulously, “Widely?’
With that, Greer grabbed his keys, left Sean’s house, started his white Ford F-150 truck and began his drive home through the streets of north Tampa.
Greer’s mind replayed scenes of his regression during the twenty-five minute drive home. He witnessed Julia forwardly introduce herself to Charles.
Very forward, he determined, especially for a girl in the 50’s.
His memory displayed favoritism to her image, standing adjacent to the fireplace, smiling. Her striking, blue eyes were kind and confident as the light from the fire illuminated her natural beauty in all its stunning glory.
It was almost midnight by the time Greer arrived home, showered, grabbed a snack and hit the bed sheets. He recorded the events of his experience in a journal and after a few more minutes of Julia’s image, tired himself to sleep.
The next morning Greer awoke to, shall we say, an alert body and although no mirror was in visual range, he most assuredly wore a smile. He proceeded through his morning ritual of a protein shake, walking his black lab, Sobek and doing minor clean-up around his house. The early events took just under two hours. All the while his mind was plagued with fragments of dreams, distorted and incomplete, yet with clear subject matter…Julia.
Thirty minutes later, he met Sean at the gym. Today’s workout centered on chest and triceps, with a focus on triceps.
“It’s all about the arms.” Sean would say.
After the workout they ended up back at Sean’s house. Sean may have been unwilling to delve into the deep recesses of past life memories but he was quite comfortable assisting his friend and, more than he would admit, looked forward to hearing of the experience first-hand.
Sean knew from the morning’s conversation, or lack thereof, that Greer’s mind was heavy on his experience and without asking, put the disc in the player to continue the regression.
Greer assumed his former position on his friend’s living room couch.
The voice on the CD relaxed Greer into a deep trance and implemented a backwards ten to one count. By three, Greer was back in Chicago.
“Would you, um, like to join us?” Charles asked, nervously.
“Well, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to drink on the job.” Julia explained, “This is my grandmother’s bar. I help out when I can.”
Charles’ face displayed even more confusion and wonder at this beauty before him. Julia, of course, noticed and inquired as to the nature of his bewilderment.
“Something wrong, Charles?”
“I, um, you’re so beautiful, and, uh, you work in this bar? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve seen you here before but didn’t realize… I’m just surprised that’s all. And, you came up to me!”
Julia looked a bit taken back. “Am I too forward for you?”
Charles struggled to string his words into some sort of meaningful phrasing. “No! No, I mean…no.” He sighed and his slumped shoulders told Julia he was feeling defeat in a simple conversation.
She smiled and offered, “I get off at eleven…buy me a drink then?”
Charles picked up his head and with a renewed sense of confidence, replied to the affirmative.
Julia made her way back to the bar as Charles sat down with his entourage and soaked in the admiring glances of his buddies.
Finally, 11pm arrived and Charles and Julia sat at the same round table that witnessed their initial meeting and clumsy communication. For the next four hours they talked about life, love, family, friends, spirituality and any other subject that came to mind. There were no lulls. The only time silence survived was during trips to “the head”. They conversed effortlessly and both enjoyed every moment, but it was Charles who fell silent as Julia began to read his palm.
First, she addressed the nutrient and vitamin information in his fingertips. “A little more vitamin C wouldn’t hurt.” She informed him.
She flipped his hand over and ran her delicate index finger along the lifeline. “Your life mark is short, too.”
Concerned, Charles broke his silence. “How short is short?”
Julia paused before responding and looked him directly in his eyes before saying, “I believe the palm is simply an indication of possibilities. Above everything, we create our reality and nothing is set in stone or unchangeable.”
Charles was surprised by the heavy subject matter and Julia’s serious take on the lines on his hand. He wanted to ask what she saw for him in his life. Charles put himself to others as strong and independent and indeed he was, but there existed an intimate awareness with very strong emotions just beneath his rugged exterior which no one could perceive. Well, almost no one.
“Charles, what is it? You look uneasy.”
Charles smiled and his eyes began to water. Julia connected with the heavy emotion welling up inside of him and perceived the physical changes as well but decided to keep quiet and allow this intriguing man the opportunity to open up to her.
Charles swallowed hard and began. “I’ve never been able to talk to someone like this.” At this admission his wide smile showcased flawless teeth. Julia gasped at their brilliance.
He continued. “I never tell anyone anything that I am feeling and I want to tell you everything! I want to share my dreams with you! I mean, my real dreams; those that I have at night. They mean something. I see things I can’t explain but could never tell anyone about them. I feel, so…so…connected to you.”
Julia felt a wave of joy rush through her heart. Suddenly this was no longer a first date with a stranger but now a fantastic realization of a deep connection and excitement of anticipation of what would be said next. It felt comfortable and strangely familiar.
“It’s really late.” Julia found herself saying the words but not wanting to end the night.
Charles then offered, “I feel like, like…”
Julia responded, “Like what?”
Charles continued. “…like I’ve known you all of my life! I know that sounds like a come-on or even stupid but I do. I feel like I can tell you anything.”
At first, Julia didn’t respond. She stared into Charles’ eyes and allowed herself to listen and feel her thoughts and impressions as her grandmother had taught her. She felt a partnership. She felt trust. She felt love.
Charles asked that she share what she was thinking. Part of him couldn’t stand not knowing he thoughts but another part of him was relishing her gaze into his eyes so much that he feared her answering his query would end this very intimate, non-verbal moment.
Julia could not reconcile the flood of emotions she felt for this man that she now knew for only five hours. As if on cue, he leaned forward. Julia felt his energy overcome her. Not controlling her, but engulfing her in a comfortable, empowering way. She leaned forward as well. Heads began to slightly tilt opposite of one another; eyes were closing as their lips moved closer and closer…
Greer came out of his trance to the sound of Sean’s proclamation of six points. Sean quickly caught Greer’s piercing glare as he simultaneously realized that he interrupted his regression.
“Dude, sorry, watching the game.” Sean became a bit less apologetic and remarked, “You’ve been out for over an hour. Don’t you want to catch the game?”
Greer did want to watch the game but he would gladly sacrifice kickoff for a kiss any day; even if the kiss was in a vision.
During commercials, Greer told Sean of the lengthy conversations he or rather, Charles, had with Julia, late at night in her grandmother’s bar.
By the fourth quarter the Bucs were typically trailing past the point of interest for both and the big screen went off until the four o’clock game.
Greer continued to refer to Julia in the present tense. “She’s so confident and smart. And she is so into me or Charles, I mean. And she’s got some kind of sixth sense thing going on.”
Sean caught that slip for the fourteenth time during the course of the conversation and stopped him. “Uh, G, you talk about this girl like she is real. You realize that this is just a vision or a dream and basically, not real…right?”
Greer became defensive. “So you don’t believe that I’ve tapped into a past life?”
Trying to keep his friend grounded, Sean responded. “It’s possible, yeah. But keep it in perspective. Maybe the trance is more sleep. Maybe the memories are more dreams.” Sean paused and looked uncharacteristically serious. “What do you expect to get out of this regression stuff anyway?”
Greer was faced with a very valid question from his best friend to which only the truth would be accepted. His buddy’s bullshit detector was finely tuned where Greer was concerned. While he had no intention of lying to Sean, his answer included the fact that he was falling for Julia and was sure to be met with resistance.
In an instant, he would have severed his left big toe to go back in time and refrain from sharing that bit of information with his friend. Sean had several thoughts on the matter and Greer was the recipient of his usual candor.
“Are you kidding me with this?” Sean began. “Dude, she’s not real. She’s a figment of either your imagination or sexual frustration. And, knowing your strict adherence to a ten o’clock bed-time, I’m going with lack of sex.”
Greer rolled his eyes and said nothing.
Sean took a breath and held up his palm as he continued. “Let’s say that she is someone that you knew from your past, a past life even. So what? What is she to you now?”
“I don’t know, man.” Greer became agitated. “Maybe she is the model for the girl I should be looking for. Maybe I’m seeing this lifetime to understand relationships. I honestly don’t know, man. But I gotta tell ya that I’m into her big-time. And, my friend, this is real. I can’t make up this kind of stuff. The way I feel toward her when we’re talking…”
“Talking? In the visions?” Sean interrupted, “Dude, you’re crossing a line here between fantasy and reality.”
“Sean, you’ve had experiences too! You know there’s other shit out there, crazy shit you said you couldn’t explain or…”
Sean interrupted and almost yelled, “Yeah dude, I’ve seen ghosts but I never fell in love with one!”
Sean’s point was made. Greer grabbed his keys and headed toward the door.
“Dude, only looking out for ya.”
“I know Sean, I just gotta figure this thing out.”
Greer drove home, gave Sobek his dinner, recorded the day’s regression into his journal and watched a quarter of the evening football game until he called it a day.
Sean’s right, I do go to bed early.
The next morning was typical. Normal morning cardio, walked Sobek around the neighborhood, shaved and showered and headed to work.
“Good morning, Greer.”
“Good morning, Stacy.” Stacy was the office kiss-ass. She always found her way to be the first person to greet Greer as he entered the building and often supplied baked goods on ordinary days reaffirming her reputation as suck-up of the year. Greer managed the entire floor and she was bucking for a promotion.
When asked what he did for a living, Greer responded, “I captain a sea of cubicles that perpetuate the lucrative health care system.” Whether it was boredom or an attempt at dry, vague humor that fueled his response, he always enjoyed the delivery.
Greer managed to maintain most of the fake smile he had mustered during his greeting with Stacy as he continued his way past his subordinates.
Just outside his office he noticed balloons above Karla’s cubicle. Karla is the senior claims adjuster on the floor. She also has, from Greer’s perspective, the distinction of having dated him for a lengthy, eight months.
Most only make it three. He once said.
She greeted him with her normal, “Oh, it’s you, but I’ll force out a smile because you’re my boss” expression. “Good morning Greer.”
“Mornin’ Karla. What are the balloons for?” Greer quickly scanned his memory for her birth date. Surely he wouldn’t forget that.
Sure he would.
“I’m moving.” Karla explained.
Surprised, Greer asked, “Where?”
“I got a job offer in Daytona.”
Greer was shocked. “I don’t remember getting your notice or reason that you were leaving.”
Karla smiled and said dryly, “I remember being very specific as to why I was leaving.”
“Very funny. I meant leaving this job…and Tampa!”
“I know what you meant Mr. Serious. I put my letter of resignation on your desk over the weekend. I’m taking vacation time in lieu of two weeks’ notice.” She noted the concerned look on Greer’s face. “Don’t worry; I already set up a temp and Human Resources are already interviewing my replacement.”
Greer suddenly felt sad. “Wow, I’m gonna miss you Karla.”
Karla looked surprised. “Really?”
She grabbed her box of personal items and walked away with her balloons.
Greer looked around at a few nosy heads that were peering just above the grey walls of their vocational fortresses. Under his breath as he continued on his way to his office, he muttered, “Yet another woman in my past…”
The end of the day came and Monday night football began. Greer met Sean at a new sports bar that opened close to his house and as luck would have it, beers were two-for-one.
About four beers in, Sean brought up Greer’s “fantasy girl”.
“Sooo…how’s your imaginary playmate?”
Greer chose to overlook the sarcasm and cynicism in favor of talking through the situation. For all the confusion and heavy emotion attached to the memories, or events, or fantasies, he needed to sort through it.
Greer had always wondered why Sean became so insightful and well-spoken while drinking. Either the alcohol broke down a barrier to an intuitive, wise man that was normally hidden by the sober antics of a childish jock or, wait, that’s it! Greer finally figured it out.
Sean kept his eyes on the game, his hand on his mug and his mouth moving. “Let’s play this your way for a minute. I’ll buy that in your last “life” you were this Charles dude and you were all about a hottie, Julia, in Chicago, circa 1958. You two have some sort of deep connection and it looks like “love at first sight.”” Sean raised two slightly bent fingers up on each hand. “Am I up to speed?”
Greer nodded yes to the server who asked if they wanted another round and duplicated the response to his buddy while adding “They meet in March. And don’t air-quote me”
Sean shook his head as he continued. “It seems like you always go after the perfect fantasy girl and she never measures up. I’ve seen you give up on good and go in search of something better. I used to think you just had high standards. But, I gotta tell ya man, given your heavy disposition and deadpan delivery, being picky isn’t a luxury you can afford G.”
“Heavy? Whaddya mean heavy?”
“Dude, really? You could depress a clown. It’s cool though, man. You got that intense brooding thing goin’ on and some chicks dig dark dudes, so there’s some hope. And, you gained over half an inch in your arms this summer which definitely doesn’t hurt your marketability. ”
“Sean, can we focus please.”
“Oh yeah, your inner-want and all that. G, you have your idea of a perfect girl and she’s here. But, in classic Greer style she is totally unobtainable, cause, well, she’s not, um…real.”
Sean trailed off from his last thought, partly due to the harsh point he drove home but mostly because Greer had a look that could have been captioned, “Wrap it up, Dr. Phil.”
Sean treaded lightly but continued. “Let’s check the rearview for a minute; there’s Amy.”
Greer paused and tilted his head as he recalled Amy and only moderately defended the courtship with “She was engaged, not married”.
Sean retorted with “But not available. Then there was Lisa.”
Greer smiled at this recollection. “My favorite felony. Stupid fake ID’s.”
Sean went current for his next example. “Karla?”
The smile left Greer’s face quickly. “Ouch, bro.”
Sean saw the genuine hurt in his buddy’s face and switched gears.
“So, what kind of relationship do they have?”
Greer looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”
“Chuckie and Jules. Do they get married? Have kids?”
Greer explained, “I dunno man. I only got to their first kiss, which you ruined, remember?”
“Dude, you can’t even get any in your dreams! Regressions! I meant Regressions!”
Greer gave up on the conversation, took another swig of his beer and looked around the bar. He imagined a fireplace across the room next to a round table and visualized Julia standing there glowing, smiling and inviting him over.
After a few minutes Sean snapped him out of his daydream with a familiar slap on the shoulder.
“G, I’ll come over tomorrow and we’ll put the disc on. Let’s see where this is going. Alright?”
Greer nodded in agreement.
Tuesday at work was uneventful for Greer. He was pleasantly surprised to see the temp in Karla’s old chair was what Sean would label, “a major hottie”, but decided to keep his distance when what appeared to be her boyfriend showed up to take her to lunch.
I don’t think it was her husband…no ring. He would later tell Sean.
Greer respected monogamy and the commitment and trust that supported relationships. He considered this perspective to be one of his defining attributes for which he found, the hard way, was not always a great first line.
Five o’clock arrived and Greer met Sean at the gym. After ninety minutes of weight lifting, neither uttered the word “cardio” so they arrived to Greer’s house by seven o’clock. Greer relaxed on the couch while Sean powered on the CD player.
“G, before you go back under, what were you saying about this past life stuff again? That the whole idea of reincarnation is experience?”
“Yeah, man. How I see it is we keep being reborn to learn how to live life from different perspectives with varied competencies, beliefs, upbringing and sometimes with physical and psychological limitations or advantages. We get to be a man in one lifetime, then a woman, sometimes we’re rich, other times poor, etc. We also come back to work through unresolved issues created through past relationships.”
Sean nodded in agreement and added, “So, chances are those closest to you have had lives with you before, right?”
Greer smiled at his buddy’s unusual clarity and responded, “It’s not a guarantee but I believe it happens a lot, yeah. What are you getting at?”
Sean’s cell phone rang. The ringer tone was set at maximum volume. Greer heard “We all wanna be a big rock star…” Sean answered with a quick, “Hey babe, hold on a sec. G, I gotta bolt. Sorry, man.”
Greer was disappointed but knew Sean’s impromptu date trumped his past-life party.
“All good, man. Not really comfortable doing this solo so I’ll skip the time warp tonight. Later, Sean.”
Greer read for a while and then retired to bed, characteristically early.
“M-A-G-I-C-K”, Charles and Julia spoke these letters in unison.
“Is that how you spell magic?” Charles asked.
Jules explained, “In ancient practices it was. The Egyptians used magic daily like we use the phone.”
The planchette slid over to YES. Charles removed his fingertips from the plastic pointer. Julia followed suit and asked if something was wrong.
“It’s just strange.” Charles began, “I dreamed of getting messages from the Ouija board but I could never see who I was playing with.”
“Playing?” Jules asked somewhat surprised. “It’s hardly a game, C.”
Jules had taken to “C” as a nickname for her now boyfriend of six weeks. Charles initially and clumsily retorted with “J” but decided it was too masculine for such a feminine creature.
“OK, so the board wants us to do some sort of magic, with a k?” Charles arched one eyebrow and sat back with his right arm stretched out along the back of the couch.
Jules could not resist the comforting seat created by his pose and joined him as she recalled a dream.
“I had a dream last night about some sort of energy booster device. In the dream, I was in a very small room with rock walls and a single torch illuminating the area. A cloaked monk was demonstrating, nonverbally, how to put it all together.”
“What did it look like?” Charles asked.
“Well, there was a huge crystal wrapped with copper wiring. The wire was attached to a mirror that had some sort of scroll placed over it. I couldn’t make out what it said but I got the impression it was, well, kind of like a wish. Selene seemed to confirm my take on it”
Charles thought for a moment and then deduced, “So, the crystal is supposed to be the battery or power source for the wish? What’s with the mirror? And how would Selene know about it?”
Jules responded quickly and in a high tone, getting excited at Charles’ early understanding and genuine interest in the dream. “The mirror amplifies the desire, producing creation. At least that is the impression I woke up with. Selene’s smart and has an, um, elevated perspective on things.”
Greer awoke to a sloppy lick across his cheek from Sobek.
Sometimes this is the most action I get all day. He quipped to himself.
Greer had opted for a personal day off from work. He spent the day pondering his dream of Charles and Julia working the Ouija board. The device that amplifies desire intrigued him so much that he spent over four hours on the internet searching for any reference to such a contraption, but found no evidence of any such thing.
A wish-maker? Next I’ll be rubbing lamps. He mused.
Around six o’clock Greer and Sean were finishing up their workout at the gym. After Greer spotted Sean’s three hundred and forty-five pound set of five bench presses, Sean hung one arm over the bar, used his towel to wipe his face and instructed Greer to, “Go ahead and drop the bomb”.
Greer sheepishly glanced over at him as he removed one forty-five plate from each side and asked, quite unconvincingly, “What do you mean, man?”
Sean narrowed his eyes and launched into a brief personality assessment of his buddy. “Dude, you’re an open book with pop-up pictures.”
Greer accepted the remark as another instance of Sean’s trademark prelude of humor which would be followed by words that carried significant weight.
Sean continued. “You’ve been overly nice, especially for you. You bought me a protein smoothie before the workout and you’re being super nice…which is becoming weird.”
Greer remained silent but his eyes widened as if his plan had been foiled.
Sean resumed. “When you’re not being nice you’re biting your nails struggling to find the perfect words to say whatever it is you wanna say. So, again, go ahead and drop the bomb”.
Greer resumed a focused expression and began. “I had a killer dream about Charles and Julia, man.”
Sean looked hopeful. “We’re calling them dreams now? Right on, that’s progress, G.”
Greer shook his head no, correcting himself and explained, “I had a dream, yeah, but it was another session; I was just sleeping. I guess I slipped into it without even trying. It was real, like the other sessions, not dreamlike at all.”
Sean silently motioned to the bench. Greer complied and pushed up his set. After ten presses and Sean’s direction to “Put some real weight on next time”, Greer sprang from the bench and continued while Sean stripped the bar.
“They were discussing this cool way to make wishes manifest! Jules said she got the idea in a dream.” Greer paused at the profound circumstance that he was describing. “It’s funny, she had a dream that she told Charles, in my dream. Wow, that’s like multi-dimensional or some shit, huh?”
Sean tossed Greer his towel, started walking toward the locker room and playfully jabbed, “I’m not entirely sure I wanna hear the rest of your dream but it’s gotta beat listening to you compare past lives, dreams and past lives inside dreams so can ya focus, buddy?”
At Sean’s request Greer captured his original train of thought. “OK, bottom line? I need ya to use a Ouija board with me.”
At this Sean stopped, turned and spoke evenly and intensely, “No. Never. Don’t ask again.”
Greer began to counter his remarks with a somewhat prepared argument beginning “Dude, I know how you feel about…”
Sean abruptly interrupted and ended the conversation with “Drop it, G.”
“You have to work tonight, again? This is four nights in a row, Jules!” Charles didn’t even try to mask his whining.
Jules continued dressing and chose a response intentionally expressing annoyance. “Like I said last night, and the night before, and the night before that, I promised my grandmother that I would help her out. Besides, the money is good and I don’t have a job like you that I can work six months and be free the rest of the year.”
Charles pouted as Jules completed her outfit by wrapping her favorite pink scarf around her neck. He then, weakly, defended his profession with, “It’s not my fault grass doesn’t need cutting all year. A few more weeks and I’ll be back at it.”
Julia smiled as she simultaneously rolled her eyes, picked up her purse and turned to face Charles. “I’ll be home late. I’ll miss you, C.” She kissed him on the lips and his tension melted away instantly.
Charles closed the door behind her and sat back down on her grey couch. Ruby found his way into his lap confirming Charles’ personal perspective that cats often endear themselves to sworn “dog people’. Ruby quickly found his way back to the floor as he rode Charles’ hand off the furniture.
Greer woke up on his own couch, fumbled for his phone and noted the time of eight o’clock in the evening.
“I must have dosed off after the gym. I thought Sean wanted to catch the game at…”
Greer’s thought was interrupted by a knock on the door and the subsequent and immediate entry of Sean. This entrance, while abrupt, was quickly overshadowed by his greeting, “What up, G?” Sean flexed an eighteen inch bicep. “This should be illegal!”
Fifteen minutes later the guys were sitting at a high-top table swigging back the first of many cold drafts to come. Eventually someone changed the bar flat screens from ESPN to a syndicated “overweight-comic-with-a-hot-wife” sitcom as Sean made his way back from “breaking the seal”. Sensing a disturbance in his all-sports world, Sean rolled his eyes as he found his seat and adjusted his focus to a three-dimensional reality.
“Alright G, get me caught up on the latest with your dream-girl.” His face displayed a sudden awareness. “Oh shit, she literally is your dream-girl! Dude, that’s funny shit. Kinda sad, but funny.”
Greer replied dryly, “Hilarious, muscle-head.”
Sean slapped Greer on the back. “Just goofin’ on ya, brother. Seriously, you past this shit yet? Get it? Past? Dude, I’m on a roll!”
Greer took swig number one of beer number five while looking nowhere in particular and sounded surprisingly sober as he spoke.
“I had another dream…” He corrected himself, “…or rather, memory of them earlier. It was all mundane stuff; working, money, their cat.”
Sean asked, “What is it exactly you wanna see G? I mean, ya wantin’ to see them go at it? You got DVDs for that brother.”
Greer smiled and sat back responding, “And the internet.”
Sean retorted somewhat seriously after the clanking of their mugs, “Ya know, porn is supposed to be supplemental. Between your “memories” and “personal online time”, I’m scared you’re gonna lose touch with reality brother.”
“Is that why you won’t work the Ouija board with me? You’re afraid of losing touch with reality?” Sean turned his head and glared at his bud as he spoke.
“Dog with a freakin’ bone, huh?” At this response Greer backed off. Sean relaxed a little and continued. “Look G, I had a bad experience and it freaked me out, alright?”
Sean lowered his voice and enunciated every syllable. “Some…thing…bad.”
Greer submitted and remained silent.
“Why do you have a Ouija board anyway?” Sean asked.
“It’s not mine. That Goth chick left it at my house.”
Sean lightened up. “Oh yeah, Dark Dana!”
Greer laughed and corrected him. “It was Deanna and we had a few good nights together. Remember, she worked from home and would only come out at night? Everyone wants to be a freakin’ vampire.”
It was getting late so Sean paid the server and as they got up to leave he quipped, “Classic Greer.”
Greer asked what he had said and Sean replied with a slap on the shoulder.
Greer wasn’t tired when he got home so he took Sobek out for a late walk. Later, after a shower, he sat on the floor with his handsome dog. Sobek nestled his head on Greer’s thigh, his brown eyes half closed and looking up only when the belly scratching paused.
Greer’s thoughts were audible, if only to Sobek. “Whatcha think, Bek? Am I losing it?” Sobek’s lack of response was always a supportive yes or no to Greer, whichever one was more in line with making him feel better.
Finally, he called the night. “C’mon Bekkers, let’s go to bed.”
Sobek found his corner of the bed as always. As Greer went to switch off the light in the bedroom he noticed the corner of a box under the bed. He knew instantly it was the Ouija board. Bending down, he pulled it out and then sat on the bed with the board in his lap. “Can it work with one person Bek?”
Sobek was already emitting a low-snore symphony of deep breaths and as always, Greer assumed Sobek would agree with his decision. “Good call boy, I’ll give it a shot.”
Greer placed his fingertips on the plastic pointer and paused. “Um, board, speak to me.” Greer felt silly after saying this but closed his eyes and began to concentrate on Julia.
He asked another question. “Is there anyone here that wants to speak?” The planchette remained still. “Hello?”
Greer’s discomfort was elevated but before he gave up on the exercise he remembered something he was told by Dark Dana, Deanna rather. “Dammit Sean!” he said out loud.
He recalled that she had them sit and touch knees when working with the board or “witchboard” as she called it. She explained this kept the “energy” flowing and helped with the connection to “spirit”.
Greer mused, “I can’t remember birthdays but this I remember? I guess I need Sean after all.”
Suddenly, he had an idea that seemed ridiculous. But, now almost half asleep and starting to care much less, he went forward with it. He reached his feet out and touched his toes to Sobek’s legs, hoping to “keep energy flowing”. To his surprise the planchette began to slowly move across the board. Greer remained still as it moved from letter to letter.
S-E-L-E-N-E. Then, it stopped.
“Selene? Who’s that?” At this Sobek lifted his head slightly demonstrating a forced if not half-ass acknowledgment of Greer’s outburst.
Greer did not immediately recall her name from Charles and Julia’s conversations but as he packed up the board and placed it back under the bed, the memory returned.
“Why is she coming through the board? I assume she is passed now but…why?” Greer took this thought to sleep as he finally lied down for the day.
Sobek was way ahead of him.
“I haven’t seen you all weekend!” Charles sounded like a frustrated child of nine. Julia chose to remain an adult during their exchange.
“I need the money, C. The bar is busier than ever, they need my help and the tips are good.”
Charles couldn’t argue with income so decided to switch topics in an effort to reconnect emotionally.
“I had another dream last night.”
Julia could never resist a dream conversation. She considered them messages of some kind from the other side.
She chose to hide her excitement and calmly inquired “Are you wealthy again?”
Charles started pacing the room with demonstrative hand gestures as he launched into his answer.
“Like the other dreams I am filthy rich! I don’t know what to do with the all the money!”
“Am I in this dream?”
Charles excitement waned as he responded.
“No.” He tried to make light of his answer as Julia’s face clearly expressed disappointment.
“I assumed you were out shopping for clothes.” Charles smiled and pulled her close for a hug.
“I don’t like that I’m not in your dreams, C.”
“Shh. I know I get excited about my reoccurring dreams but they are just dreams, Jules. Remember, we create our reality; your words.”
Jules smiled and spoke out of the corner of her mouth.
“You do listen…” She pulled back and softly kissed him on the cheek as she made her way out of the front door. “See you later.”
“Tomorrow we’ll take a bike ride downtown; it’s supposed to be warm.”
“Sounds great, C. Love you.”
The door closed and Charles stood staring for a moment and whispered to himself, I love you too.
Charles went to his closet and pulled out the shoebox that contained the items he had been collecting for weeks now.
Ruby immediately stepped on the box. Charles gently lifted her away. He was only slightly annoyed as he had become accustomed to how cats pretty much do what they want.
He pulled out the contents one by one; a mirror, a large white crystal known as selenite and a foot of copper wiring. Charles wrapped the wire around the crystal and then to the mirror. He grabbed a piece of notebook paper and scribbled the words, I wish for money.
Julia was unaware that Charles had his own dreams of the same “wish-making device”.
He felt half silly and half exhilarated as he lit a candle and repeated his wish verbally seven times but then reminded himself how much better life would be! No more late nights working in a bar surrounded by guys, guys like Charles, in awe of Julia’s beauty. He had caught hell for the times he had “surprised” her at work. Jules called him out on his thinly veiled gesture of protection fueled by jealousy.
Things would be better with money; much better.
Greer was walking Sobek in the early morning and pondering, out loud, the night’s dream state. “Whaddya think Bek? The dude’s crazy right? If he wants more money why doesn’t he get a job during the winter months?”
Sobek responded with a hiked leg at the base of a queen palm located at the edge of an unknown neighbor’s front yard.
“Yeah, I’d piss on the idea too. And, my pun.”
Greer got Bek back to the house, changed and headed to the gym. It was some paid “day of recognition” that allowed for a day off from work, but did not necessitate a family gathering or gift purchase.
Best holiday ever. He would later say to Sean.
Sean sat down with forty pound dumbbells, began his curls and sincerely, asked his buddy, “Remember when we used to talk about girls and football while we worked out?”
Greer understood Sean’s less than subtle complaint but was hardly detoured from his train of thought.
“Technically we are still talking about a girl…”
“And weird supernatural past life stuff. You should be a show on The CW, dude.”
Greer chose, as he often did, to ignore his buddy’s jabs and force the conversation at hand by catching up Sean on the latest events in Chicago.
Sean was starting to find the subject matter mundane and genuinely could not take it seriously.
“Dude, you’re kind of a peeper now. You’re like, stalking them or something.” Sean laughed at his own humor.
Greer assumed the bench and began his curls.
Sean shifted into best-bud mode and got real.
“Look man, I know you think this is some private screening of your past life and you’re seeing the dreams or visions or whatever as a personal history but that scares the hell outta me for you, bud. It’s fun to have a psychic tell you shit and it’s crazy to see a ghost and all that but at the bottom of the day, you are you and you have a reality to focus on, ya know?”
Greer retorted, “I didn’t fall down a rabbit hole, man.”
Sean accessed his mental files on rabbit holes and his confused expression prompted his buddy to explain.
“It’s a fairy tale.”
Sean’s response was direct. “Give me your man-card. Now.”
Greer put the weights down and became even more serious than normal. Sean recognized the look and gave in to the conversation as Greer declared, “He doesn’t deserve her, man.”
“What, Joanie doesn’t love Chachi?”
Greer outwardly appeared annoyed at this comparison but on the inside, he found it hilarious. “Julia loves Charles, yes, but she deserves someone better.”
Sean maintained his sarcastic delivery and asked “Why ya hatin’ on Chuck? Did he hit her or something?”
“No, nothing like that. It’s just that his idea of building a life is wishing for money. Julia’s so amazing and beautiful. Dude, she’s freakin’ perfect!”
Sean grew more concerned and his tone indicated as much. He resumed his curls and looked straight ahead into the mirror.
“And here it is, right on schedule.”
Sean explained as he curled the dumbbells and his gaze remained on his form in the mirror. “Greer finds something wrong with himself or his girl so it has to end. Wait a minute; you do this in fantasies too? Whoa, this is outta my league, you’re in shrink territory.”
Greer glared. “Really dude?”
Sean finished his set, put the dumbbells back and leaned on the weights.
“One question, past-life boy. Would you deserve her? Careful, this might be a trick question.”
Greer didn’t respond and Sean didn’t press for an answer. The guys finished their workout, walked to their respective trucks and then made plans to meet for a beer around eight o’clock.
Sean shook his buddy’s hand. “I say you move on from this bro. Just lookin’ out for ya.”
Greer got home, made a protein shake, walked Sobek and took a shower. He had the afternoon to himself as usual and found the couch cushion, formatted to his seat, irresistible.
Sobek was at the other end of the couch with similar satisfaction. Greer spun the past life disc on his index finger above his heard.
“Whaddya think Bek, one more spin of the CD?” Sobek didn’t hear any trigger words like “treat” or “walk” so he remained motionless and quiet.
“Bek, you’re always right, buddy.”
Greer got up and placed the disc in the player. He heard the familiar ten-to-one backwards count and quickly drifted off.
Julia’s pink scarf would have been blown off had she not tied it twice around her small, soft neck. Her trademark lace accessory was straight out behind her as she enjoyed the cool air on her cheeks. She squeezed Charles’ chest partially out of safety, but more for love and comfort.
He continued down Michigan Avenue, beyond thrilled to have the love of his life on the back of his Duo-Glide Harley Davidson bike. The couple enjoyed the clear, high, blue sky and shimmering lake water on a gorgeous mid-May Chicago day.
For Charles, a ride on a beautiful day is how the world is meant to be seen. Normally he would not have the windshield in use but Jules had insisted.
Too many bugs, C!
Not that she could really tell since her right cheek was resting on Charles’s back and his wide torso shielded her from any annoying, tiny creatures. Her view was like that of an old movie backdrop rushing by, but she still could make out the art deco sea horses that adorned the bottom of the stunning Buckingham Fountain.
She smiled because inside she was calm and as content as she had ever been.
Charles always felt free and alive on his bike. With his arms extended, his right hand tight on the throttle and his left on the lap, he found a new level of bliss “in the ride” with the fantastic sensation of Jules’ embrace.
Time ceased to exist as they continued past Grant Park in awe of the budding trees and fresh life on the ground; “life” that would need cutting from Charles’ perspective. The spring air had arrived and with it a feeling of rejuvenation and an exhilaration of love for nature’s beauty, that one could barely contain.
Charles’ tranquil moment was interrupted by an intrusive group of runners in the near distance who seemingly decided to enjoy the same wonderful weather.
In an effort to avoid the mob he chose to turn right at the next street, just a hundred feet away. As he was turning he saw a small patch of oil or water on the pavement. He managed to avoid the spill only to land the front tire in a deep pothole. The bike bounced out of the hole and the back wheel jumped itself off of the ground which threw Charles off of his cycle. He landed flat on his back and with a hard thud. Remaining conscious and his bike still in view, he saw that the accident before him was far from over. In a nightmare beyond any horror he had ever seen, he witnessed his beautiful Julia being dragged under the motorcycle as it continued down the damaged road.
Her scarf was entwined in the back tire spokes. Her soft face was scraped off by the hot asphalt as she desperately called out for help. Charles could barely hear her pleas, and later would wish he hadn’t, beneath the maddening sound of metal clanking and scratching against the hard surface.
The bike finally stopped after another sixty feet and fell silent of the once thriving motor and horrific screams. A resulting display of a motionless, haunting pile of twisted metal and rubber covering a lifeless beauty was the image now engrained in Charles’ mind.
Charles could not feel his legs. He screamed for Julia but she did not reply. He cried out one more time, “Julia!”
Greer woke up on the couch with his hand clutching his pounding heart and tears falling from his eyes. Sobek awoke in response.
Greer reached out and scratched Bek’s head. “All good things boy, all good things.”
He walked Sobek around the block a total of three times hoping the time would help him to reconcile the images in his mind and to accept the horrific sadness of what he was now convinced was a previous incarnation.
Later, he managed to pull himself together and meet his buddy for a few rounds.
It wasn’t until after his third beer that Greer trusted himself to tell Sean what he witnessed without losing it.
Sean didn’t utter one word as Greer relayed the events he had endured earlier in the day. The continuity of the story of Charles and Julia was undeniable, even for Sean.
Sean waited for Greer to finish and asked him an important question, again.
“Did he deserve her?”
Greer heard the question and managed a tiny smile as he suppressed his overwhelming enlightenment.
“Yeah, it wasn’t his fault. He loved her so much and his intentions were good, man. No one is freakin’ perfect and we set the bar way too high for ourselves and others. Doing that dooms any relationship to failure.”
Ruby leapt into Charles’ lap. The familiar sound of the lid being removed from the tuna can ignited a conditioned response to be present at once for a cat’s feast.
Charles spooned the fish into the small yellow, plastic bowl like he had done a hundred times before.
Like Jules had done a thousand times before.
As Ruby ate, Charles began his usual mental dialogue. He reminded himself that he never did like cats. Indeed, he was a dog person, although he had never adopted one into his life.
A supportive friend that doesn’t judge and is always happy to see you. He would muse of the dynamic between a man and his loyal canine.
Mostly a loving dog companion would have erased some of the loneliness that he had endured; at least until Julia had taken stage in his life.
Painstaking feelings of guilt and a distorted sense of duty forced him to create a hospice for his love’s pet.
“What torture”, he brooded. “To care for a living reminder of the love of my existence, now missing from my life, imprisoned in this wheelchair…alone, again.”
His dramatic mental lament waged on for hours, as it had so many yesterdays and would for so many tomorrows.
The open construction area that claimed his love’s life was void of the signage and barricades that could have prevented the accident and the loss of his Julia.
The police report helped win a lawsuit settlement that allowed Charles the cruel repetition of a mournful day and funded a continuous, intense experience of the repeated sorrow.
A loud knock on the front door broke his pensive retreat into desolation. In his haste to reach the door his chair rolled over the yellow food dish that had been licked clean and abandoned by a now satiated feline. Pushing himself up with his left arm he was able to turn the doorknob and swing his front door inward, affording him the ability to claim his weekly arrival.
The delivery boy had taken to wrapping rope around the boxes to enable Charles easy retrieval from the immediate hallway.
He managed, as always, to pull the boxes to the kitchen. Their contents played a vital role in his daily ritual as the cigarettes supplied a steady distraction between swigs of whisky.
At day’s end, every day’s end, Charles fell asleep in his chair. Ruby nestled in his lap and often purred in unison with his deep snore. It seemed he had obtained his animal companion after all and unfortunately, he was sadistically aware of the cruel irony.
Ruby lifted her head, peered through her sleepy eyes and sang a low meow while looking nowhere in particular.
Selene and Julia were two faint light images not five feet from Charles. For several moments they watched him sleep with Ruby curled in his lap. Time sadistically stood still as Jules took in the scene until she was finally moved to speak.
“I want to be reborn with him, Selene.”
Selene remained uncharacteristically silent as Jules continued. “In the next life…we need to do this again. Do it differently…do it right.” Her voice became hauntingly desperate. “Our time was so short. We weren’t able to…”
She began to plead. “Tell me we can come back! Oh, my Charles.”
“Greer, wake up.”
As the fog from his eyes quickly cleared, he scanned his surroundings and accepted the memories of the previous night which had begun to flood into his mind. “Club. Sean bolted. Way drunk. Hottie! Name? Oh Hell…”
“Uh, good morning.” Greer began.
“Good morning. How are you feeling? You kept talking in your sleep.”
“Yeah, all good.”
Suddenly an overweight tabby leapt onto the bed and landed in Greer’s lap.
“Whoa, big fella, eh?”
“Her name is Jewel. Doesn’t the pink bandana give it away?” responded the quite attractive, young woman with whom Greer was recalling as his “score”.
Sean’s words, not mine! He would later say while throwing his pal under the bus.
Greer stretched one arm above his head and continued to pet Jewel as the beautiful woman climbed back into the bed.
He struggled to reclaim her name as it danced on the edge of his mind.
Greer embraced a profound sense of understanding as the name, Jewel and the pink bandana transcended coincidence. He mentally thanked whoever or whatever was allowing this fantastic, spiritual experience to unfold.
The attractive woman placed her hand on Greer’s pec and admitted, “I never thought I would end up like this with you, I mean, after working for you and all.”
Greer almost shouted as his memory was fully restored and sprang upright on the bed, knocking his bedmate to the side, “Now I know! You replaced Karla! You’re Ashley!”
“You just now remembered who I am?”
“No, no, I mean…no. I just can’t believe it’s you. I didn’t think you were…available. I thought I remember your boyfriend taking you to lunch?”
“That was my brother visiting from Chicago. Since I moved down here he visits me a couple of times a year”.
Greer smiled ear to ear and more stated than asked, “You’re from Chicago.”
Continued in 7 Regressions-Book 2 in The 7 Novellas Series. Read all 7 Short Stories of Reincarnation and Supernatural Experiences available on BarnesandNoble.com, Kobo.com, Smashwords.com or by clicking below and visiting amazon.com: