McDonald’s, North Dallas . . .
We hadn’t spoken much since the whole, spooky little shadow creatures incident. I wasn’t sure if he thought I was losing my mind, or if I was really seeing something that he couldn’t. Ricky waited until I said the spooks were gone before he walked towards the body. I pointed out the correct cadaver, not wanting to get anywhere near it. I wasn’t so much scared, as bothered by the fact that I was fully wake when I saw them.
Before, since that first time after I woke-up, they only came as I was in those delirious calm stages that come before you fall asleep, and just as you awaken. Those moments where time and space and life don’t matter. Those elongated seconds where you can kind of hear your environment, but you don’t have the physical prowess to interact with it.
Like being paralyzed.
Like being a semi-responsive vegetable.
A computer, in sleep mode.
So it was time to get some food. I needed to eat warm things with lots of taste and cholesterol. We ended up at McDonald’s.
Ricky turns to me, handing me those small ketchup packets that are marked ‘Fancy’, and he’s chewing so much of his cheeseburger that his cheeks are puffed out like a blowfish. He says, “Let’s assume that you see what you claim to have seen.” He let the words linger.
I nodded as I squeezed a line of fancy ketchup near my burger. We were sitting on the hood of his black SUV, our legs dangling far above the hot pavement. I can’t even imagine how much money it costs to fill this thing up. I suspect that Ricky has money coming in from other places, and I don’t dare ask about it.
“Why, then, do you think they were interested in a dead traffic cop?”
The body they had been looking at, that particular corpse had belonged to a Dallas police officer who had been working faithfully as a traffic cop for six years. When he was giving some poor schmuck a ticket, a moving van had clipped him from behind. Officer John Farlow was pretty much dead on contact. One second he’s scribbling down a traffic infraction, the next second the lights go out . . . forever.
So, in answer to the question, I have no earthly idea what the spooks might want with him. I ate more fries, wondering if there was anything on this planet that rivaled the McDonald’s fry in the sheer amount of pleasure they bestow, compared to the time it takes to get your hands on them. No matter where in the world you go, Ronald has a bag full of hot fries, just waiting for you. If there’s a Heaven—a concept I’m just now starting to contemplate—they probably have a McDonald’s at the corner.
My mouth full, my hands kind of greasy, I say, “Maybe he was a bad cop?”
Ricky took another bite of his second burger. He had purchased three. Don’t even ask me how a skinny guy like him eats that many burgers. It doesn’t make sense that he can even fit all that into his stomach. I should be able to see the outline of at least one of those burgers in his belly.
“Do you see them often? I mean, more than before?” Ricky asked casually as if we were discussing the weather.
I swallowed, cleared my throat, and took a sip of Dr. Pepper and something flashed in front of my eyes that I hadn’t remembered until just that moment. “Whoa!”
“What?” he said, turning towards me, his mouth hanging open a bit.
I told him that I just saw something. A memory that I hadn’t known about. He was quiet, letting me make sense of it. And it started to come back. It was gooey, as if I was watching a grainy video of the event. A taped image, copied a thousand times. Each time getting darker and more twisted.
But it was me.