Clean shave check. Ironed outfit check. Real breakfast check. Time: 9;30 A.M. With everything in place Rubin unsheathed a smile fit to sever the serpentine supplement of despair, hopelessness and anger. Quite the efficient succubus, it fed on him endlessly, day after day. Once a week, though, it allowed him to escape its ever reaching grasp. He graciously attributed the relief to her overall prowess at first but slowly the doubt induced by his condition prompted the discovery of a more morbid cause for this weekly escape. PTSD controlled Rubin’s life but for now the chains were hidden. The clanking of the shackles had been reduced to the jingling of keys.
Before heading out Rubin gazed around the living room of his apartment. A three piece bargain furniture and a stack of books. The kitchen, bedroom and bathroom were just as desolate. The ample space alluded to the emptiness Rubin couldn’t help but feel every day of his life. His couch was steam cleaned once after purchase. The dull green bean color simply fit the ambience…or lack thereof. Moth munched but not completely miserable the recliner was great for reading and the occasional “doped up on pharm drugs” nap. Not at all lacking a sense of humor Rubin didn’t recall much when in his DUOPD(doo wopped) state as he often referred to it during his weekly sessions. It was his not exactly magical but definitely manageable crap. He looked around one more time then was off. Time: 9:35 A.M.
There are nine city blocks between Rubin’s apartment and the office. As usual he gave himself twenty minutes to arrive. Stop watch set. He strode into the ambient dissonance as smooth as an oar thru still water. Sirens, laughter, car horns and indistinct shouting bombarded him from all sides. What hit many like a ton of bricks or even several shards of glass connected with Rubin’s senses like an oversized industrial fan during a heat wave. Though a tedious task for most Rubin found few noises truly interfered with his desire to listen to the chirping of house sparrows in nearby trees and building ledges. He was making good time. No heavy traffic, the sun was shining… Change the routine. Why not? He thought. Rubin stopped in front of a bodega four blocks from the apartment. He went in, briefly looked over the menu and placed an order in perfect Spanish. “Cafesito y pan con queso, por favor.” The cook, a round older Dominican woman, looked Rubin up and down then paused for a moment. She stared at him. Rubin smiled a nervous smile and the woman turned back towards the grill and assortment of machines used for preparing food and beverages to begin preparing Rubin’s order.
The bodega was empty save Rubin and the old woman. Suddenly Rubin blinked rapidly and gasped, trying his hardest to catch his breath. Fatigue set in. He sat down in a plastic lawn chair just beside him. Not a heavy man at all, the pressure from his arms nearly snapped the fragile limbs of the chair. Sweat began dripping from his forehead and the tip of his nose. Just beyond the incessant pounding of his heart he could hear a voice.
“Señor, está bien? La comida ‘sta listo. Levántate, Señor. Cafecito bien preparado y pan con queso. Señor!!!”
“Yes. Sorry, what was that?”
Rubin stood suddenly, wiping his forehead clean with the right sleeve of his charcoal gray blazer. He smiled at the woman seemingly no longer affected by whatever caused him the extreme exhaustion. Rubin looked down at his watch, then at his surroundings, the old woman, down at his watch again…
“9:49, extremely important date. It’s not too late but not enough time for her breakfast. Bye now.”
“Que? Por qué cambio la voz, señor? Cómo? Cafecito y pan con queso. Tómalos.”
The old woman held the bag and small, covered cup of coffee out towards Rubin. Rubin looked at her and smiled warmly.
“Don’t speak Spanish.”
He walked out of the bodega, closing the door swiftly as he left. Completely oblivious to the cup of coffee hitting the glass behind him as strode on to his destination. Last week’s session was dedicated to behavior in public. He knew to be polite and respectful to those he would encounter on any given day. Rubin also learned that talking to himself was a definite no, no. There was no protocol to follow, however, when someone spoke to him first; someone he couldn’t see.
“Only twenty minutes left before you can arrive early. This pace simply won’t do.”
“It’s 9:55. 5 blocks to go. I’ll make it there by 10:15 at this current pace. 10:45 session. New issue of Conde Nast Traveler with my name on it.”
“You usually read at 10:05 until the session begins. That has always been the case.”
“Correct, you are absolutely right but for some reason I was sidetracked by the Spanish woman in that convenience store. I don’t remember placing my order. Certainly didn’t want to take anyone else’s food. But why was I there so long? Can’t remember.”
“Rubin, you were perfect. You are perfect.”
“Mom used to say that. All the time. Not true though. Thanks.”
The conversation flowed at a normal rate as Rubin powered walked down the long city blocks. Time: 10:10 AM. Two blocks remained in his commute. Rubin failed to notice that quite a few stares were being cast his way. He would never reel in the fact that he was speaking extremely loud. A hotdog vendor Rubin passed checked for a Bluetooth. He touched his left ear and pointed a jabbering Rubin, “Did you see anything in his ear?” The vendor asked a homeless man crouching on the wall of a building across from him.
“For a free dawg. He’s as crazy as a monk wit condoms. Whadaya say chief?”
The vendor ignored the homeless man’s response and simply stared after Rubin once again, shaking his head in shame. Time: 10:13 AM. Rubin had arrived at her building, 1408 South Jackson Way. His psychiatrist wasn’t the building’s owner but most of the building’s traffic flowed to and from her second floor office. He walked into the building, climbed the steps two at a time then stopped short of the office’s lobby door to get composed. He felt calm and most important he was confident…about what the day held and the progress he’d been making.
The sun pierced the four-paneled window. The peeling paint usually caught Rubin’s eye. He often picked at it during the first few visits to the office. Shrinks judged and drugged you. They don’t help anyone but themselves. After five sessions he was eager to walk straight into the office. No more paint picking for Rubin. The sun shined it his face. He squinted. He usually glanced at the window to see if anyone has repainted the white, wooden frame. He grabbed the door knob, turned it gently and gleefully accepted the full powered embrace of the air conditioner. Time: 10:17 AM.
Clouds moved across the sky blanketing the sun completely. The paint on the frame had not been done over. It had been left alone to wither; being shown less attention every day. Keeping the cold out and letting sun shine in for more years than many in the office have been alive; it was simply there. A four paneled window with chipped white paint. The essential function trivialized after it was no longer new and pretty.
“Good morning Mr. Begonia. Only 28 minutes before your appointment time today. Did someone have a breakfast date?"I know, I know. Call you Rub…”
“Actually Ms. Brown. Mr. Begonia is just fine”
The bubbly, dark skinned young woman’s smile sank into a blank expression. She nodded and pressed the intercom button.
“Dr. Davenport, Mr. Begonia has arrived for his 10:45 appointment.”
“Thank you Ms. Brown.”
Though still quite taken aback by Rubin’s short yet polite tone Ms. Brown simply shrugged and went back to her desktop. Rubin was well into the newest edition of Conde Nast Traveler and seemed to be his usual self. 26 minutes had passed and Rubin stood up and waited Dr. Davenport’s office door.
“Mr. Begonia, you can’t go in yet. It’s only 10:43.”
“That’s perfectly fine. I can wait here for two minutes.”
He stood, an organic statue, as stoic as a fresh cadet determined to show no fear to superiors and peers on his first day of boot camp.
10:45. The office door opened slowly. Dr. Davenport stood, smiling through closed lips. Caramel complexion, around 5’4”. She wore her hair in dark brown locs with blonde tips. As casual as she dressed her presence and demeanor were never anything short of professional.
“Good morning Dr. Davenport. How’s your morning so far?”
Rubin went to speak again but was halted by the slight rise of Dr. Davenport’s left index finger. Her gaze was unflinching, her smile now full and wide with a gap that accentuated the physical perfection Rubin felt she was. She spoke softly yet even toned.
“Last Tuesday during our sixth session I was simply Soleil and the wonderfully patient Ms. Brown, at least on your way out, was Anastasia. What’s changed, Rubin?”
Rubin smiled and began his response growing more animated with every statement.
“I’m healing Dr. Davenport. I came to you nearly two months ago in shambles. The myriad pieces of Private Begonia have realized their bond and collected themselves under the careful caress of your psychological promise.”
Dr. Davenport smirked.
“Come in, please. Close the door.”
Rubin complied and walked slowly towards the fluffy love seat next to the book case made of red oak. Egg shell colored walls, tons of books went well with the vintage vibe further enhanced by the record player near Dr. Davenport’s desk, also made of red oak.
“We’ll begin shortly Rubin.”
Speaking more to herself as she pulled down the blinds on the office’s windows.
“I know you aren’t too fond of lots of sunlight… that should do it.”
Her turned head was unable to witness an episode, an expulsion identical to the one in the bodega earlier that morning. Rubin was breathing heavy, the sweat submerged his face entirely. He was more tired than before. Dr. Davenport turned, puzzled by this sudden change in Rubin.
“Rubin, are you having an anxiety attack? Calm yourself, breathe Rubin. You’re fine. Can I take your hands, Rubin?”
Her voice was elevated but what captured her was that something or someone felt like it made an obstruction between her and Rubin. She couldn’t close the two feet gap. Whenever she tried there was an electrical shock. The area in which the static energy flowed seemed to moving outward. Something spoke to Rubin. The same voice that he’d absentmindedly conversed with on his commute to the session.
“All that you were is now everything we are. My curiosity, my hunger means your evolution Rubin Begonia.”
Ms. Brown stood in the doorway, frantically requesting paramedics as she yelled into the telephone receiver.
“1408 South Jackson Way!!! Hurry!!!”
“Ana, we’re fine. We don’t need assistance.”
“Soleil, we’re better safe than sorry.”
Rubin stood suddenly and looked over at Dr. Davenport who’d been shocked at least three times and was too frightened to move. Her right arm wouldn’t move if she tried. She simply sat there breathing hard, gazing at Rubin with wide eyes. She felt terror and had no words to describe it. Rubin had just been heaving as if he was extremely exhausted, then frozen, staring to his right completely transfixed. A painting of John Henry hung in the space at which Rubin stared but it was obvious to Dr. Davenport that the artwork wasn’t responsible for the block of concrete Rubin had become. Now calm and more languid than he’d ever been the lanky Rubin simply smiled at his frightened therapist.
“Soleil, I have to go now.”
She grabbed for his right hand with her left but feeling more excess static she snatched it back immediately. Completely unaware Rubin walked out of Dr. Davenport’s office and right past a noticeably scared Ms. Brown. He spoke, looking back briefly.
“It says 10:17, Anastasia. It’s not the right time.”
Rubin walked out of the office, closing the door behind him. As he hustled down the stairs a pair of young paramedics stopped him.
“Hey bro, did you see anything weird going on up there in the office?”
Rubin made it out of the building. He power walked to the corner and finally stopped. He pulled at his sweaty, matted hair and grunted in frustration.
“What was that? She spoke for me. You made me watch you speak for me. You scared them. Why did you scare them? TELL ME!!!”
People were beginning to stare. Rubin gathered himself and took several deep breaths.
“Im fine now. Gonna walk home. No distractions. No interruptions. I’m fine”
Back at the office the EMTs were checking on Dr. Davenport’s right hand. The numbness had faded and she regained near full use of the arm again.
“It’s just a little static electricity. I’ll be fine. Really”
“Direct physical contact with your patient, a Mr. Begonia, caused this?”
Anastasia interjected, “Y’all walked right past him. Talked to him. Could’ve pursued him but you’d rather ask us the same thing OVER and OVER again.”
The EMT not attending to Soleil’s injury responded; sarcasm guiding his words.
“One. We’re not cops. Two. Dr. Davenport’s being questioned, (in a whisper to Anastasia) not you.”
“Ana, calm down. It’s fading. I’m ok. There’s someone I can call. Thank you, gentlemen. We’re fine now.”
The young men gathered their equipment and slowly walked out of the office. The EMT who had been attending to Dr. Davenport looked back.
“Come on, Ric. She wasn’t that hot. Green eyes are a nice touch, though. Come on bro. Two slices on me.”
Ricardo Almonte, former med student and supernatural phenomenon enthusiast, just couldn’t drop the feeling he got walking into the office. A feeling often described in abduction testimonials and retellings of spiritual encounters. Everything wasn’t fine like Soleil said. Something was very wrong in that office.
“Yea, slices on you Marc.”
“Yes, this is Soleil Davenport. May I speak to uh…(looks carefully at card) John Evans?”
“Right…it says personal cell…(clears throat) I’m Rubin Begonia’s therapist. I’ve been helping him through his PTSD and anxiety.”
“He tells me all about your sessions. Said the progress would make him think twice about slipping back into the bottle. He’s quite fond of you.”
“Yes well today…I’m breaking confidentiality but I’m so worried about him. He had an episode. He came in really ridged and unusually formal. He, at different points, appeared exhausted, frozen solid and became happy all in a matter of minutes. Peculiar, if you catch my drift, would be an understatement.”
His obvious southern twang and deep, slow speech pattern made her giggle a bit while she covered the receiver so he wouldn’t hear. She had no frame of reference other than bad cowboy movies but the accent seemed a bit contrived. She really meant no offense but his voice sounded like he could be a Southern beer pitch man or even do infomercials that ended with random deep south quips like, “Can’t dry off a dog with a damp towel, son. That’d be like trying to stop an avalanche with a snow ball…or something like, “Rooster don’t crow but once a day but plenty folks need wakin’ come late evenin"
She caught herself drifting off into a plain of polite prejudice when Mr. Evans cleared his throat to regain her attention.
“You seem a bit shaken up Soleil. I’m meeting Rubin for lunch, anyway. Actually headed out now. Thanks for the heads up Doc. Take it easy now. Life just don’t always give it to you that way.”
Her giggle finally felt appropriate yet all Soleil said was, “You too.”
The sun seemed to be getting hotter; the noises even louder and no matter how hard Rubin tried to connect with the voice that infiltrated his mind he simply couldn’t hear anyone anymore. He was beginning to feel like he made the whole thing up. He was teetering on the horrible thought that he wasn’t actually getting better but that the progress was actually an illusion. His false hope was being reduced to a grander substitute for PTSD’s chains of melancholy and loneliness.
Rubin walked impatiently back towards his apartment. His senses, now on overload, were beginning to interfere with his balance. Five blocks from his apartment he tripped over the blanket of a toy vendor, breaking the leg of a wind up swimming frog. Rubin turned to apologize to the man crushing the frog’s leg instantly under his palm.
“Sir, I’m so sorry. I’ll pay you…it’s just that. Well uh… I’m Rubin. I always come past here on Tuesdays. I don’t think I have enough on me right now.”
In a thick West Indian accent, from which island Rubin couldn’t tell, the man replied.“You alright mon? Don’t worry about it. Easily replaced.”
The man’s compassion surprised Rubin. Rubin stood and began to reach for a hand shake. Usually eager to keep all interactions with strangers brief and pleasant he felt compelled, in that moment, to physically demonstrate his gratitude. The man smiled. Both hands locked and the men froze.
Her green and blue wings sprouted then, in an instant, fluttered with incredible speed. She hovered over to the street merchant whose warm smile differed greatly from Rubin’s nervous half smile. She placed her left hand on his head, all three fingers and a thumb, webbed. The translucent webbing between her “index” and thumb expanded with ease as she moved her hand from her forehead to his throat. The web clung to the man’s face making it appear like a rubber mask. The female creature inhaled and the man grew pale. A noticeable change from the man’s blemish free, shiny dark complexion. For thirty seconds she held this position. Her completely black eyes blinking until she faded. Suddenly able to move again the men gasped for air. Rubin caught his breath quicker and stood. The vendor looked up at Rubin, puzzled and fatigued. He seemed to sense that his interaction with Rubin caused the sudden loss of energy.
“Sir, are you okay?”
“Go. I don’t break like toys. Go on… before I ain’t so cool brudda.”
He waived Rubin away with his right hand then rose to his feet.Rubin stood still for just a moment before speaking once more.
“I’m truly sorry Vernon. She loved you… Lisa loved you.”
Rubin turned quickly and staggered up the block. The stagger turned into an awkward trot and before Vernon he could even try to pursue Rubin the trot became a wild run that would carry Rubin the rest of the way home. He looked down at this watch on the next block. 12:20 PM. His solar powered watch was the only constant in the eerie day he just wanted to escape via being DUOPD in his bed.
“So…Vernon Samuels. I knew your first name would be boring but Vernon, sheesh.”
“Was my father’s name. That cup uh water for me child?”
“Yea, my mother thought you could use it. Looks like your skinny friend has a strong grip.”
Vernon finished the cup of tap water in two large gulps. He closed his eyes and leaned his head, profusely sweating, back and looked up at the sky. Without ever looking at the young girl he spoke.
“He’s not my friend. Tell your grandmother thank you and that I’ll have the usual. Going home early today.”
“She ain’t in today. I told you it was my mother who sent the glass of water over to you.”
Vernon nodded and further ignored the presence of the girl. He simply focused on gathering his merchandise and blanket. She was no longer standing next to him but to Vernon it seemed almost as if not much time had actually passed. Rubin’s comments had surely startled him but Vernon was bothered by something else. For thirty seconds, at least twenty five, he had no doubt that he was staring into Lisa’s eyes. Remarkably he’d gotten his final wish involving his late fiancée, in a city he vowed to never live, through an accidental meeting with an extremely strange-stranger. Grilled cheese, tomato soup and hot tea would help him think. They always did.
Rubin stumbled onto his street, continuously looking around. Three times today he hadn’t been himself. He could feel another’s presence more and more with each encounter. The anxiety was compounded by his sudden recollection of today’s afternoon plans. Lunch with his AA sponsor at 1:15 PM. He’d written the date on a magnetized white board on the frig. It was now 12:30 and Rubin was sure that a nap and narcotics seemed better than a Nathan’s hot dog and crinkle fries. John would understand. He staggered lazily to the front of the apartment building. He walked inside; skipping every other step he made his way up the stairs. This was fun to him. How he could fit fun into his rush of anxiety made no sense to him but he was happy that it was happening now. He’d usually be on the verge of panicking at this moment. He turned the corner and walked to his second floor apartment.
Rubin looked up, “John!”
Full of fear, uncertainty and now joy he hugged his sponsor, John Evans.
“Something’s in me John. Let me just get this key to work. Nathan’s can wait. I can see her now. She let me. I’ll show you John. I will.”
John Evans was a man known to speak as slick as his hairstyle. As Rubin struggled to open the door John was without words. All he could do was stare on.
“Here. Let me.”
“I got it, John.”
The door unlocked. Rubin left the keys in the door and dashed to his bedroom. John took the keys, closed the door and placed the keys on Rubin’s coffee table. He ambled over to the kitchen area still a bit taken aback by Rubin’s erratic behavior. He’d never seen him act like this. The anxious behavior wasn’t new to John at all. He, however, hasn’t encountered crack addicts in a while nor did he take Rubin for a heavy street drug user. He simply didn’t know what to do.
In the kitchen area John stood in place, sulking. Rubin came back into the living room with a pencil and sketch pad. In the kitchen area of the small apartment there was a small wooden table with two chairs. John often sat in the uneven one that needed a small piece of cinder block to stay stable. John didn’t have to sit here today but for the sake of bringing normalcy back he sat down and looked over at Rubin who was sketching something in spurts. He’d sketch, stop, observe, and then sketch again. The process went on for nearly a half hour.
John just sat there. He needed to use the bathroom but finally Rubin stopped. He stared at his sketch pad, eyes wide. John started to walk over to his friend. He stopped to shake his legs. It had fallen asleep as he sat there looking over at Rubin. He stamped his right foot viciously. He’d been sitting there for at least twenty minutes and his foot had fallen asleep. The spurs on his boots jingled.
“Sit down John. You’ve been more than patient. You really need to see this.”
Rubin walked into the kitchen area, completely oblivious to the fact that John was doing his best to wake his sleeping foot. He stood just behind the chair with no balance issues and waited for John to sit down again. He inhaled. His matted hair had dried a bit at the ends. The hair still gave him a disheveled look, completely overshadowing his newly shaven face.
“Rubin just show it to me. Judgement free zone, remember?”
“Yea but they’ve got a strait jacket with my name on it, man. Especially after you see this.”
He sat the pad down quickly. Rubin backed away, hitting the counter with a slight thud. John studied the photo. He looked up at Rubin, puzzled. He studied once more, this time touching the entire sketch. John stood. His entire face, flushed with anger. He ran his fingers thru his slick hair. Some of the color came out. He wiped it off on his black jacket. A few gray strands hung wildly about his ears now. John had gone from composed to likely irate. What he’d done to his hair certainly made him look like he’d gone mad. John stood with so much force the chair fell over as he rose. He approached a now shaken Rubin, the spurs on his boots jingling softly like change in one’s pocket.
“John, hey. John, hey. Hey! I didn’t know Paul, Carol or Lizzie. Did you know them, John? You’re upset…They came to me. She showed me herself but then they came all of a sudden. They showed me that. They showed me.”
John was now face to face with Rubin. Not a small man by any definition John stared Rubin down for a good ten seconds before he spoke. He was brief.
“I don’t know who you really are but if I see your face again, you’re dead.”
John walked away from a confused Rubin. Why was he angry? Why the threat? Rubin couldn’t understand it. A church bell rang.
“You’re angry John, why? What did I do? John, the clock stopped. It says 12:45 but it’s wrong. The church bell rings every hour on the hour from mid-day until 6 in the evening. The clock’s wrong John.”
John ignored Rubin’s questions and his concern for the analog clock reading the wrong the time. He simply shuffled out of the door, spurs jingling. The door slammed and Rubin, now frowning like a spoiled child, grabbed the sketch pad and walked over to the couch and plopped down. He looked at the clock once more and let out a grunt of frustration. He scratched his head and scanned the apartment. Not expecting an answer from anywhere or anyone Rubin spoke out loud.
“Why would Paul do something like this? They begged him not to do it. Real Texas men wear spurs. John didn’t mean murderers when he said that. I know he didn’t.”
Rubin got up and tossed the sketch pad behind the couch. A man with wild shoulder length hair held a double barrel shotgun. Two bodies lay in a pool of blood; a middle aged woman and a young girl. The man was drawn from the back. He wore a checkered shirt, jeans and leather boots…with spurs. Rubin went into the bathroom and peered into the medicine cabinet. He could fix up a small pharmaceutical cocktail and head straight for DUOP but he was already drained. He simply walked into his bedroom to lie down.
The sun was shining brightly. John stood outside of the building just gazing upward. He should’ve been panicking, planning his next move. September 24, 2008 1:05 PM. He took out his nearly flattened pack of KOOLS. Putting one cigarette into the left corner of his mouth John began to pat himself down in search of matches. He found them in the inside pocket of his jacket. He carefully lit a match as he stood there. He took a drag and exhaled slowly, staring up once again at the clouds that partially blanketed the sky. A biker came to an abrupt stop in front of John.
“Hey, bro (coughs a few times) Smoking is bad for the environment. 8.6 million people live with a serious illness caused by smoking.”
He had apparently passed through the smoke cloud created by John’s first drag. The biker was clearly agitated yet spoke with the comical uncertainty of day time television show guest struggling to read cue cards. John looked down at the pale, thin young man clad in professional biker gear. He took off his cool shades and stammered thru another anti-smoking fact.
“Sm-smo-smoking also so so causes many types of cancer: throat, nasal cavity and mouth cancer. Esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cer…”
Just as the young biker was presumably going to culminate his rant with cervix cancer John exhaled after an incredibly long drag that certifiably frustrated the man. With his body enveloped in smoke from the chest up he dropped his bike, threw his helmet and glasses down flailing his arms all around to clear the smoke.
The biker now stood facing John who threw down the remainder of the cigarette down and crushed it under his left foot. Furrowed brows, a forehead covered with sweat and messy bowl cut. The man took one step towards John. His hulking 6’3” 250 pound frame now completely smashed the anger of the puny environmentally conscious biker. The biker took two steps back. His fear now replacing his ire as he asked John, struggling to make eye contact, “Did you do that on purpose?”
John raised his left eyebrow then looked back up at the sky. Something obviously weighed on his mind. Something that likely had to do with the sketch Rubin made. There was a beeping coming from his pants pocket. John took out his cell phone and looked at the screen of his flip phone. The screen was black. He knew he should have gotten a phone that notified you that it was dying instead of one that simply let you know it was dead. Hey John, I am now completely useless. He put the phone back in his pocket. “Piece of crap.” He said in an almost whisper. He looked down at the biker who quickly averted his gaze and began to whistle like he didn’t notice that John was looking at him.
“Give me your phone.”
With no hesitation at all he handed John a flip phone nearly as ancient as his own.
“We’re not dummies. Why would we need smart phones?”
The man chuckled and smiled a nervous smile. John did the same, raising both eyebrows as he dialed.
“Yes. I’d like to report a crime. Double homicide. Two female victims. 3554 White Oak Road. Long Island, NY.”
“Uh, no. The act was committed five months ago. Paul Hempstead, ma’am. I’m currently at 2943 North Sedgwick avenue New York, NY. I know the local precinct. Alert them. I’m turning myself in. Paul Hempstead. Thanks.”
He dropped the phone into the hand of the now terrified biker and walked away.
Back in Rubin’s apartment sunlight barely peaks into the rooms. Rubin rests in his bed, all of the morning’s events behind him. He’s alone, unbothered, at peace. At least he feels that way as he drifts off into the deepest sleep he’s ever slept. It would be his final rest as Rubin Begonia, private in the U.S. Army, PTSD diagnosed, simply adrift in a sad reality. An autumn leaf in a shallow pond in a dense forest of fabricated moral fiber and contrived connections.
She came to him this morning expecting fun. She’d completely dismissed the possibility of a future bond. She came with others. They came for Zugunrot. Ornithologists are familiar with the term Zugunruhe, loosely defined as the restless migratory process of animals during normal mirgration periods. The Siphunaxis do more than just migrate. They arrive, observe and take...whatever they wish. In the case of the earth bound creatures physical likenesses, memories, knowledge and a few unsuspecting souls are for the taking. In Churitza’s case it was hard to resist...a Rubin.
“Rubin, come. It’s time.”