See Jack Die

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Chapter 57

I-75, South.

Tuesday afternoon . . .

Ricky and I are dodging cars as we make our way to Deep Ellum to visit with Ms. Josephine. I had spoken to everyone else—Dr. Monica, preacher Edward, a few doctors, and Ricky. And even though they didn’t all have the complete story, they got a good enough sense of where I was at in my life to nudge me in one direction or another.

All of them had differing degrees of the same concept . . . follow your heart, but be careful. The doctors and preacher Edward, they said to err on the side of caution. Ricky and Dr. Monica, they said to head into the fray with reckless abandon. So, I figured I needed some perspective from the only resident expert we had on the world of darkness and shadows.

“Think Ms. Josephine has any kids?” Ricky says as he weaves in and out between the far left and the center lanes of traffic. Other drivers are squinting, white-knuckled, noticeably flinching as we pass.

“I’ve never seen any pictures of her family at the shop,” I tell him. “But then, maybe they’re all grown up, with jobs and stuff.” I equate being an adult to holding consistent employment. Ricky tells me that is an antiquated view of the social paradigm. I wonder what he reads.

“Maybe they’ve passed away, and she doesn’t want to drudge-up bad memories?”

“But she talks to the dead, like . . . all the time.”

Ricky just shrugs to this as he heads for the exit. I see a small German automobile scramble for safety as we come across the lanes towards the exit ramp. My feet are pressing against the floor mats as if there might be a passenger’s side brake buried underneath.

“Fucking imports!” he says as we slow ourselves for the quickly approaching merger with slower vehicles. Insurance companies probably play Russian roulette to see who gets stuck with Ricky’s policy.

Aren’t Land Rovers considered imports, too? I ask.

“This is different.”

“How so?”

He sneers at me as he forces his way into the river of creeping traffic, “Because it’s a Land Rover. It’s imported by Rolls Royce . . . that means luxury, Jack. Luxury!”

I ask him how many of those cold and allergy pills he’s taken today and his eyes narrow at me. I decide that now is not a good time to ask about such silly things.

A few red lights later, we are pulling to a stop in front of Ms. Josephine’s Shop. Same old spooky little place as ever. We get out, and make our way to the door. Just before we enter, I turn around and take a look at the buildings, in their Earthy non-melted and unbent shapes. All of the subtle colors that I take for granted, they look absolutely brilliant. My own personal photograph of this world.

The sun, it’s not a murky green ball, but a bright orange orb, sitting behind several grey clouds that break-up it’s powerful beams into strings of light that shine through the interspersed white clouds like bright white strings from the sky.

“What are you looking at?”

I shrug, “All the stuff that we see all the time, but that the Deadsiders would trade their lives for.”

“Dude,” he says, “. . . don’t wig out on me, now. We’re close to greatness, here.”

“I’m not losing my shit,” I tell him. “I just think we should stop and smell the proverbial roses every now and then.”

He looks at me suspiciously as he removes the key from the ignition, “You’ve been watching that goddamn Lifetime Channel, haven’t you?”

“No!” I say, pushing the door open.

I’m lying, of course.

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