The Angel of San Diego

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Chapter 8 - Half Way Home

8 - Half Way Home

The taxi driver dropped him off in front of a two-story house near Balboa Park. The fare took most of the twenty so he told the driver to keep the change. There was a small covered porch with some chairs on it. He walked up the walkway and rang the bell. Mrs. McNeely opened the door and welcomed him warmly. The living room was cozy. There was a couch, a couple of easy chairs, coffee table, a reddish brown oriental throw rug, and a TV set.

She took him down the hall to his room. Mrs. McNeely was about five foot eight and a half and in her sixties. Her hair was short, white and curly. She was wearing a blue floral house dress and a white apron that had daises embroidered on it.

The room was small, but adequate for one person to sleep comfortably. The bed was in a corner. One side of the bed was against a wall that had a window in it. There was a small side table with a lamp and a digital alarm clock on it by the bed. Across the room from the window was a dresser with a mirror. The closet was to the left of that on the other wall. It was empty except for several plastic hangars left there for him to use.

A bit of overkill, he thought, looking at them.

“The bathroom is down the hall, Mr. Oracle. There’s soap, shampoo and a guest shaving kit. You’ll find fresh towels on the rack. The living room is our common room, which you are welcome to use any time you like. My husband usually comes home around four. I’ll introduce you then. Dinner is at six, Breakfast at seven a.m., and Lunch, if you want it, is at eleven thirty.”

“Call me Robin, Mrs. McNeely. Everyone does.”

“Certainly, Robin and I’d appreciate it if you’d just call me Anna. We’re not so formal around here.”

“Sure Anna thanks for opening your home to me.”

“Think nothing of it. Now what have I forgotten? Oh, yes. The phone in the hallway is the community phone. We only ask that you keep your long distance calls as short as possible.”

“Not a problem. I have no one to call anymore, anyway,” there was a hint of sadness in his voice.

“Here is your front door key. We lock up after nine p.m. Well, I’ll leave you to move your things in at your own discretion. Our bedroom is the first door on the left on the second floor. If you need anything just ask.” She left him standing in the middle of the bedroom.

I have moved in, he thought, staring at the hangars in the closet. I only have the suit I’m wearing on my back.

He heard a knock on the doorjamb, it was Mrs. McNeely. “I almost forgot, if you’re hungry, I’ll be glad to make you a sandwich or something.”

“Thanks, but I ate at the hospital before I left.”

“Okay, then. Just holler if you need anything. There’s sweet tea and sodas in the fridge if you get thirsty.”

That said, she bustled out of the room and was gone.

Robin went to the bathroom to clean up. It felt good to finally take a shower again. Dinner was baked chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet corn, iced tea, and apple pie for desert. Mr. McNeely called and said he’d be home late. Mrs. McNeely wanted to wait to have dinner with her husband so he ate by himself at the dining table. He had just finished when she came back into the dining room to clear the table. He complimented her on the fare and went to his room when she refused to let him help her with the dishes.

“You just get your rest, young man. You’re here to get back on your feet – not be put to work,” she said.

After dinner he lay down on the bed to think about what he was going to do next, but fell asleep from exhaustion. He had more strange dreams. He dreamed he was Mrs. McNeely. He was washing the dishes and humming a tune he had never heard before.

He began to sing the words:

Farther along we’ll know more about it,

Farther along we’ll understand why,

He knew all the words. He also knew it was an old church hymn. The funny thing was he had never sung that hymn in any church he had ever attended as a boy. He hadn’t even been in a church in years.

The dream changed suddenly. He was on familiar streets again. The same ones he used to frequent when he was homeless only this time there was that buzzing sound which kept growing louder and louder. It started out like the noise of a crowd of people at a party all talking at once and grew into a loud roar. It reminded him of a squadron of World War two Spit fighters. He looked toward the place it was coming from and saw a large dark mass heading his way. It was in the air, moving like a swarm of bees.

It was a swarm of bees. They were killer bees. Not that he had ever seen one, but they were as large as softballs and seemed very angry. He began to run, but the buzzing got louder. He ran down his old alleyway hoping to find shelter in the cardboard box he used to call home. It was gone! The alley was empty. He ran farther, but came to a brick wall. It was a dead end.

This wasn’t here before!

He frantically looked for another way out but couldn’t find one.

He turned back to see what the bees were doing. He could see the swarm coming closer. The buzzing was getting louder and louder. It sounded more like an angry mob now than a swarm of bees. Even the bees looked strange. They all had human faces on them and they were all talking at once. The swarm grew larger and larger until it became a mob of people. They swarmed around him enclosing him. He was surrounded by hundreds of people. Like a huge crowd of fans at a rock concert, they were pushing against him trying to get his attention and all speaking to him at once. The sound became deafening. He felt claustrophobic. His heart began to pound. His head was aching in rhythm with his heartbeat.

Robin awoke in a sweat. He was breathing quickly as if gasping for breath. He quickly sat up and looked around. There was moonlight shining in through the window illuminating the room. The clock said it was seven thirty pm.

It was a dream! Thank God, it was a dream!

He was wide-awake now. The dream had gone, but the buzzing was still in his head. He got off the bed and went down the hallway to the bathroom. He looked in the mirror and saw himself staring back at him. The Robin Oracle in the mirror looked pretty shaken up. He ran some water and splashed it on his face. His head was throbbing and the bees were still at it.

This is going to drive me crazy.

Robin frantically began searching the jacket Dr. Noah had given him.

Where did I put those pills?

He discovered an envelope in one of the pockets. He took it out and dropped it on the counter. He finally found the prescription bottle in a side pocket; he opened it spilling some on the counter because his hands were shaking so badly. He turned on the tap, filled a glass, and quickly took two of the pills. Staring at his forehead in the mirror, he ran his hands across his stubbly head. His fingers caught on the spikes. Forgot about those… He carefully moved his hand to the back of his head where the plastic plate was implanted. He looked at the Robin Oracle in the mirror again.

“I think we need a drink, my friend,” he said to the man in the mirror. Except that we don’t have any money, he thought.

Robin looked down at the counter and noticed the envelope. It had his name inscribed on the front. He opened it. There were fifteen twenty-dollar bills and a note in it. The note read:


Here’s your pay for being my “Lab Rat” in the hospital and a little extra. I know you need to get some clothes and things. I’m looking forward to seeing you again next Friday. Take it easy for a while. Get some rest and enjoy a holiday before you start thinking about a new career (Doctor’s orders).

Doc Noah Jr. (and Sr.)

“Hallelujah! We’re saved, my friend,” he said to the mirror.

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