Monday evening . . .
We walk into my apartment and right off the bat, the very second we open the door, I know something is not right. I stop in my kitchen, and Ricky can sense that I’m picking-up on something.
“What is it, Jack?”
I don’t know, I tell him. I look around my kitchen, then my eyes focus farther out into my small apartment living area, and beyond. At first glance everything seems fine. But I have a feeling otherwise.
Ricky whispers, “Spooks?”
“No,” I say as I take a step forward. “I think somebody has been in here. Looking around.”
Then we both glance at each other and simultaneously we say, “The book!”
Quickly we both race into the living room, and over to the shelves near my bed where our fake bookshelf is hiding in plain sight. It’s still there, not moved an inch.
Ricky bends down, looking back and forth over his shoulder before he does the combination. “Maybe we should search the rest of the apartment before we check.”
Good idea, I nod to him.
Then, like super-silent ninjas we both creep our way over to the short hallway leading to my bathroom and washroom. Like stealth secret agents we line-up on both sides of the bathroom door. We trade nods.
On 3, I mouth to him.
1 . . .
2 . . .
3! Both of us spring into action, me turning the door knob, and him kicking it open. “Freeze!” I yell, feeling just like Horatio on CSI: Miami. But there’s nobody in the bathroom except us two dumb asses.
Ricky and I laugh at our over-paranoid reactions and I notice him looking down at my sink basin. His eyes, they go back and forth between my two soaps.
My aromatherapy soaps.
“Jack . . . what are those?”
Never mind all that, I say, trying to get him the hell out of there before he starts asking questions that my masculinity may not be able to answer.
He leans his head back, looking at the soaps one last time, and I know that there is a question forming in his mind.
Let’s check on the book, I say.
He nods slowly, and I’m certain that this won’t be the last of the aromatherapy soap inquisition.
We head back into the living room, and over near my bed. He unlocks the safe and, cozy as can be, the Book of Sighs is sitting there with several pages of my handwritten notes on top. He takes out the notes and closes the safe.
“So, what have we got?” Ricky says as he sits down on the bed and shuffles through the pages. “Where is this Book of Sorrows?”
Last few pages in the pile, I instruct him.
And then, I watch as he finds the pages and sets the others aside. He leans forward and begins reading, whispering as he goes through each verse. Occasionally he looks up at me, as I pace back and forth. But mostly he’s just mouthing the text.
While he’s reading, I walk slowly from the living room, down the short hallway, make a slow 3-point turn, and then amble back. I’m taking those elongated steps where you let the weight of your body shift at its own pace from left to right. I feel like a soldier marching in one of those parades, although much slower. My left foot falls to the carpet, then my right.
And I continued doing this as I think about everything that’s happened in the last few hours. Ricky and I, neither of us has discussed the death of my caseworker. It’s a taboo subject for the meantime. I think we’ll probably talk about it after he finishes reading my notes. As a matter of fact, I’m certain we will.
The chapter—I’m sorry, the Book of Sorrows—deals with the other side, and the kinds of things you will encounter when you get there. It’s like being at a museum and getting a pamphlet that describes the interior of some old battlefield. Or, at the aquarium, where they have all those placards about the different sharks you may see.
The Book of Sorrows, it must have been something that Constantine and his people wanted kept secret, because it’s not the kind of thing a religious person would expect to be presented with. I’m not even religious, and it rocks my faith a little.
To be honest, I’m not really sure about the whole God thing. I hope there is a God. I like the concept and the moral principles involved. But I’m just not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. I don’t think I could find the universe guilty of being run by God. At least, not enough to convict.
Back in the day—in 325—when Constantine and his Council of Nicaea were meeting in secret to decide what religion would keep Rome from being ripped apart, they made all of these decisions. Negotiated deals, really.
Rupert told us how they took a vote with a majority show of hands (161-157) and that effectively merged the Druid god, Hesus, with the Eastern Savior-god, Krishna (Krishna is Sanskrit for Christ). They merged the names, and then you had Hesus Krishna. Because there was no “J” letter in alphabets until around the ninth century, the name Hesus Krishna evolved into “Jesus Christ.”
So, when I think about the historical underpinnings of religion, it makes me a bit skeptical. Now, I’m not well versed in these things, but I just have a problem with believing in a legislated deity.
But then there is another side of me. A spiritual side that yearns for something bigger than just what I see. And I also know that just because there isn’t proof for something, that doesn’t mean it can’t exist. I’ve never seen a black hole, but I believe they are there because I’ve seen enough in Popular Science to feel confident in this choice. In that sense, I can relate to people with faith.
The part of me that wants to believe in God, that part is constantly looking through newspapers and magazines and seeing horrible catastrophes all around the world. And I can’t imagine why a God would let all of that occur.
If God just sits back and watches us suffer, I’m not sure that’s somebody I can love. I hate to see people in pain, and I’m not even part-God.
Rupert said that God has his hands tied because he gives us free will. That clever librarian, he supposes that God would like to help, by performing miracles and the like, but he can’t because that would cause a moment in time where the laws of physics—the underlying laws of the universe—are inconsistent. That moment, it would spell disaster.
I told Rupert that he needed to start dating.
Anyway, as I walk slowly up and down my hallway, I’m thinking of all these things. I don’t even notice that it’s way past dark outside. Me doing my walking, and Ricky doing his reading, we could be in two different worlds. We’re both in the same place, but it’s like neither of us knows where the other is.
The whole time I’ve been walking back and forth, my eyes have been numbly focused down on the blue carpet. And when I get to the end of the hallway again to make my 3-point turn, I notice there is no color in the walls.
The normally egg-shell painted hallway is a dull grey. I turn slowly around, 60 degrees . . . step, 60 degrees . . . step, 60 degrees . . . whoa!
I look back across my apartment, and I’m stuck in that other place. The melted, stretched place of twisted reality and blue skies. I’m between dogs and wolves and sharks, and as I glance over at the bed I notice Ricky, looking colorful and vibrant in this colorless reality. He’s still there, just reading like nothing is happening.
Is everything alright? I say delicately, not completely sure he can hear me.
“Yeah,” Ricky says, not looking up. “Why do you ask?”
No reason, I say as the dead girl walks past him.