IN BETWEEN THE STORIES (1:1:4:37)
Tao is in my kitchen complaining about how I have no good cereals. He is here often unless he is away on a trip or something, and he is the one reason why I would move out of this apartment building. Maybe I would find the courage to live in my parents' home, the one they left me. I guess I don't want to move now because of Lynne. Maybe because of her kids, too. David, he could probably care less if I moved away, but there is a feeling that I get when I make Sarah laugh or smile. The same feeling makes me realize she will be just like her mother when she is older.
I tell Tao that if he wants good cereal, that he should go buy his own. He asks me to come with him to Chase Mart, the store I usually buy my food at, but I tell him that I don't shop there anymore. He asks me why, and I tell him that I had an argument with the owner of the store. He asks me what the argument was about and I tell him that it was something stupid, that it was my fault.
Tao leaves and then comes back about twenty minutes later. He comes back to my fucking apartment with some cereal, and I'm wondering why he doesn't just move in with me instead of blowing money on an apartment he doesn't stay in. Sarcasm.
As soon as he walks in, he starts to whisper to me, "Have you seen Mary lately?" I say no, and he continues to whisper, "I just ran into her outside, we were talking about how we haven't seen each other in a while." I tell him that that sounds cool, and he gives me that stupid look. "Anyway, have you noticed she put on a little weight?" No, I didn't.
Tao goes into my kitchen, takes out a spoon and a bowl and some milk, and makes himself some cereal, and then sits down to eat it. He stops talking. You notice when a person like Tao stops talking. For a second he reminds me of Kathleen, not because he has finally shut his mouth, but because I can tell he is here simply because he doesn't want to be alone in his own apartment.
A few years ago I had a dream. I'm sitting in the back area of a vehicle with a few other soldiers, playing a game of cards. I'm not sure what game we're playing, but what I know is that you either win or lose depending on which card you put down. One soldier puts down a card called a jack of spades, another puts down a card called a queen of clubs. After everyone has shown their card, I put down my card, called a two of hearts. The soldier to my right looks at me, and he tells me that I don't have any kind of luck. I guess I lost.
We play a few more rounds, I get a few more less than desirable cards, and then the vehicle comes to a stop. The back door is open, and we all get out. The Sun is bright and the grass is green. I notice that I'm in a village, and from the looks of the people walking around, maybe somewhere in Vietnam.
I have never been to war, and why I would dream about being in the Vietnam war, I don't know, but what I know is that being in this place calms my nerves. A village where there is silence and the people walk slowly because they know that they will eventually get to where they are going, and when they do finally get there, there will be others just like them.
Maybe I wasn't lucky at card games, but I was lucky enough to make decisions that would lead me up to that point to see a place that many people may never have the good fortune of seeing. What plagues me is that I know when I have this dream where I'm in the military again, things might not be the same. Thinking of things like this makes me realize that even the wildest tales of fiction have some truth to them.
Tao is now yelling out my name, and it takes a few yells for me to realize. What? "You're always stuck inside your head." I know. Tao was calling me to tell me he was going to go to work, so I tell him I'll see him later and he leaves. Always stuck inside my head. Can't find a way out of this mess.
A few hours pass, and I'm wondering what Lynne is up to. Wondering what she meant by she has work to do. Before I know it, Tao is back from work, knocking on my door. I have to let him in. As soon as he walks in he starts talking about how a black guy has been parked down the street at all hours of the day for the past few days. I put it in the back of my mind and pay no attention to it because I know he is going to jump to the next subject soon.
To my surprise, soon after he ends up leaving because he has to work on something, or be somewhere, one of those two. I can't read in between the lines. After he leaves, like many other things in the back of my mind, the idea of the black guy sitting out in a car waiting for so long tries to push itself to the front and unlike so many other things it succeeds.
My curiosity causes me to go out my back door, walk across the alley and attempt to find this man. I eventually find him, and I am surprised for the second time today. That's not true, earlier today I was surprised when I realized that the superficial cut on my right thumb was getting worse. I'm surprised because the man in the car is the same man that came to pick up Derek. The same man who told me that Jamal had died, but in only so many words.
I begin to ask myself why he would still be around here, in this neighborhood. I question my safety. I question Lynne's safety. For some reason, even Tao's. After I come to my senses, and logic finally prevails, I assume that if he were going to do any harmful acts to me, they would have been done already. I also helped out one of his associates, why would he do me harm? We all know life doesn't work that way, though. You help someone out and they still find some way to justify screwing you over.
The only other conclusion I could come to is that the people Jamal and Derek were hiding from found out they were staying with me and now this man is sitting on my apartment so he can be there when they decide to do me harm, if they ever do decide to. The question is though, who dedicates this much time to help protect someone you hardly know? My guess is Jamal was well-connected and the leader of his organization has sent this man out to help me out for helping out Jamal. Back when I first met Jamal, he made it so obvious that he was part of something big. Something illegal.
Or maybe it's as simple as something like Jamal's people are waiting for their enemies to attack me so they can attack them unexpectedly and kill a few of their people. Appear to be resting. I would just be a casualty of war.
After a while I find that I am not taking this situation seriously enough, because my life may actually be in danger. I knew it was a bad idea to take them in.
I go back home and go to the room that houses the composition notebooks and pick a random notebook. Which one is going to be lucky enough to be chosen. I end up looking through about twenty of them in the span of two hours trying to forget that I could die soon. I guess it was just my luck that they knocked on my door. Maybe I'm overreacting now. Never could seem to find that balance.
While looking through all these notebooks I start to see that the chapters get longer and longer. When I first started writing down my dreams, my memory wasn't that great, so I couldn't remember many details which resulted in a short paraphrasing of the dream. As my memory improved, the chapters got longer and more detailed. As they got more detailed, the more of a story you could find in them.