By: darkangel - Published: 28th May, 2017
My name is Paul Brenner, and i would like to tell you about a most unusual item and how it almost destroyed my life, but not before telling you something about myself.
As a the only child of parents often actively involved in charitable missions in the poorest parts of the globe, i had learned the value of withholding enthusiasm for gifts, in favor of more responsible matters, and to help others in need.
Growing up in upper-middle class, my parents policies against ostentation often forced me to wear the same clothes until they would wear out, and be mindful of the raggedy handed-down backpack my father gave me. Needless to say, the bullying was a regular part of my life all throughout my scholarly years, in spite of my pleas for newer things.
As a man, i had never realized how a secret unfulfilled need for reward can do over decades of deprivation, and there is only so much a family can do to shield their young from the yearns of materialism.
Logically, it was only natural for me to develop a desire for success, and follow it all the way up to the very top floor of the company where i started as an intern twenty years ago.
Five years prior to this fateful day, my current wife Lillian and i met and fell in love at a Christmas party celebration in New York, hosted by Burton Riggs, a good friend of mine whose past he wasn't consistently proud of, which earned him a relatively short time behind bars on charges of accessory to fraud and illegal gambling.
Burton's estate was of notable size, with an open patio area easily accommodating over a hundred guests, with plenty of room to entertain in conversations without unintentional eavesdropping. As i casually tread across the beautiful texture of the marine-grade planks, i recognized my future wife's stunning figure, wrapped in a satin blue long dress. Long straight black hair cascading down her back. A straight martini in her hand. She was never partial to blended drinks.
She was leaning on the wooden railing, admiring the sparkling skyline. The most appropriate music for a slow dance began right then. Her head turned towards the party. Our eyes met. A few minutes later we found each other dancing slow, at few feet from the railing, engaged in a lively yet whispered conversation.
Fast-forward five wonderful years and a phone ring away, i am sitting in my car. It's 7:30am on a Monday, and i am ready for another day.
Just as i turn the key into the ignition, i notice my cellphone illuminates. For anyone else, i would not alter my schedule by a fraction of a second, except for Lillian.
Me: "Hi sweetheart, what's up?"
Lillian: "Hi babe, i found a delivery slip from yesterday on our doorstep, can you stop by the post office on your way to work?"
Me: "Alright, can you run me the slip, i'm still in the driveway."
A few seconds later, i see Lillian in my rear-view mirror, walking towards me, still wearing her ivory night robe.
"Here you go, honey, have a great day at work!"
She says, as she briefly kisses me, while i take the delivery slip from her fingers.
"I will have a great day for sure now!"
I comment, as my eyes briefly glance in the direction of Lillian's cleavage peeking from her robe, loosely held together by a thin satin belt.
Arguably self-conscious, she rarely makes an effort to cover up upon my comment... which, as it happens, it's one of my favorite traits. Besides, a common ability to seize an opportunity is what brought us together the first time.
As i pull out of our driveway, i make an instinctual left turn, as my original route changed to allow for a quick stop to the nearby post office.
Within few minutes i quickly park by the post office, largely unmanned until 10:00 am. Fortunately, "automatic package release" card holders can benefit from a 24-hours priority service. A necessary evil brought by the necessity for cut-backs.
As i approach the glass door, my card is detected, allowing me access to the self-service area within the atrium, where the package delivery teller machine is waiting.
A few keystrokes and two forms of ID later, a large cardboard box is gently pushed out of the teller machine on a conveyor belt.
The box is rather heavy, with no indication of what it may be. Only a stamp receipt from an address in New Orleans. I load the box in my trunk and continue my route downtown.
As i arrive, the 26-story modern glass building is still empty, as it will be for another hour, and my curiosity is just killing me. I carry the box in the elevator, then as the doors open onto the top floor, i carry it into my office and immediately shut the doors. I sit on my chair, looking at the plain, unbranded cardboard, then i reach for an exacto knife and slice along the middle of the packing tape.
The content is buried under Styrofoam beans. I dig into the box with my hands, until i reach an unusual shape inside, some kind of wooden artifact. I lift what seems to be a sculpture of an adult hawk, roughly half the size of a real bird, and very accurate.
No trace of the artist's signature could be found anywhere on the sculpture, or on the paperwork. I place the fascinating work of art on my desk and dispose of the packaging.
At 9 am sharp, Julia's unmistakable stride can be heard, as my assistant's heels click loudly on her way out of the elevator and into my office.
Julia: "Oh my God, what the hell is that?", are her first words on the clock, in her unmistakable British accent.
Me: "I'm not sure, but it's fascinating... i have no idea who delivered it... or sculpted it."
Julia: "Wow... it's literally the ugliest thing i have ever seen! Honest!"
Suddenly i begin to question my own tastes as far as art pieces, as i trust Julia's intuition almost as much as Lillian's. Yet, for the life of me i can't explain such violent reaction, as i look at Julia's expression of genuine revolt.
Me: "Let me ask you... what do you find so disgusting about it? I actually thought it's quite lovely, as a matter of fact."
Julia looks at me, this time with amazement in her eyes.
Julia: "Ah...huh... well if you say so! You are the boss!", she replies, as the very first awkward moment in over two years, sets in between us.
Me: "Well.. " i pause for a moment, "... any meetings today?"
Julia: "You have a one o-clock with Karl Crawford, from Crawford's Hardware... may i suggest the conference room?"
I let out a chuckle and nod.
Julia: "... other than that, not much for the rest of the day".
Karl Crawford is a fastidiously punctual man, and a perfectionist, with a penchant for winning arguments, and an attitude to match. He has his way of doing things, and an unspoken agreement with the world in which he has exclusive access to wherever the Hell he likes... including my office.
At 9:45am, i hear his voice outside my door, as Julia is powerless to stop him from walking in.
Crawford: "Mr. Brenner, we need to talk!"
Me: "Hey, Karl, are you breaking up with me?" i reply with half a grin on my face.
Crawford: "I need a... i need a... ", suddenly, i notice the man's eyes transfixed on the hawk. "... nice sculpture...", he says, as his voice softens,
Me: "You can have it, i guess! My assistant hates it! ... anything else?" i reply. Then, Crawford suddenly snaps out of it.
Crawford: "Not really... no... anyway, i need another webmaster, and have no time to mobilize human resources. The guy you had me fired last week left one Hell of a mess."
Me: "You need a permanent guy or freelance?"
Crawford: "Whatever you got, Brenner, i'm losing money"
Me: "I've known you a long time, Karl, so for you it's 10% staffing commission on the new guy's wage instead of the usual 15%. Let me make a few phone calls, I'll get back to you in a day or two... no promises!"
Crawford's ugly mug finally cracks a smile,
Crawford: "Get me out of this mess and i'll do you solid, Brenner! Whatever you want, you got it!!"
I watch Crawford walking out of my office, almost with a spring on his step, as Julia follows him to the elevator.
I sit back in my plush executive, looking at the sculpture for a few minutes, before Julia walks back in my office.
Julia: "Want me to get started on Crawford?"
Me: "Yeah, let's get this done before the end of the day."
Julia: "Do you have time to screen candidates today?"
Me: "Of course not... that's what i got you for!" i reply, smiling, "I'm taking off to the shooting range... and i'm taking my lovely Hawk home with me where it will be much appreciated!" i add in a mocking tone.
Julia: "You do that!" she replies with her signature "the-boss-lost-his-mind" smile.
As soon as Julia leaves, i quickly tidy up my desk and pick up my hawk.
I get into the elevator, along with a few other employees on their way to different floors, and immediately i can't help but notice the peculiar looks drawn by my sculpture.
Shortly after, I'm placing the hawk on the floorboard behind the passenger seat of my car. For a reason i cannot explain, the sculpture seems lighter than it was originally, almost by a few pounds.
Fifteen minutes later, i pull into my driveway and carry the hawk into the house through the front door. Immediately i hear Lillian's voice chiming from the living room.
Lillian: "Hey babe, you are back early!"
I walk into the living room, as my wife is on the couch, with a book in her hands.
Me: "Yeah... surprise!", i announce, holding up the wooden hawk.
Lillian: "Is that it? Wow... who sent it?", she asks, with what seems to be an awkward look on her face.
Me: "I have no idea... no sender, no signature, just an address in Louisiana. What do you think?"
The initially awkward look on my wife's face gradually resembles Julia's earlier reaction.
Lillian: "I think... maybe... we should return it... it's got to be a mistake!"
Me: "Why? Honestly, i got the same reaction at the office today... everyone seems to hate it... i am almost wandering if i should get myself checked! Am i the only one that considers this piece a work of art?" I remark, almost laughing.
Lillian: "Honey... i love you... but that thing's got to go."
Me: "Ok, i got it! I'm taking it back to the post office tomorrow, i'll just stick it in the garage for now." I reassure her, as i roll my eyes briefly. "I'm going to shoot a few rounds, want to come?"
Lillian: "Not today, i have a slight headache, i might be coming down with something. I guess I'll see you later?"
Me: "You got it! Text me if you need anything!", i kiss my wife on my way out.
The shooting range is packed and loud. Almost every booth is accounted for, except for a few towards the end of the range.
Very much against my parents will, i had developed an early passion for firearms. It wasn't until my 25th birthday that i received my first 40 caliber Glock, and the only personal handgun i have ever owned. I loved the weight of it, the precision and sound, among other things. Needless to say, such gift was from neither of my parents, but from one of my favorite uncles, and the owner of a large chain of gun shops in Long Island.
As i begin shooting rounds at each target, i can't stop thinking about that hawk. I can almost visualize it in the target. It's peculiar how such inanimate object is able to occupy my mind.
Then something happens: as i focus on the target, all i can see is that Hawk, staring into my eyes. I take a shot. I shake my head as i realize i didn't even hit the target. This can't be happening.
Next thing i know, a few rounds later, my target is still intact... and that Hawk is still staring at me. This doesn't make any sense. It should be child's play for someone with my experience. Yet, i fail by a greater margin than i could ever think possible.
I holster my weapon and step away from the booth, glancing one last time at the perfectly intact target. I walk back to my locker, as i have done a thousand times. I place my weapon back into its grey padded case and turn the key until the locker light turns red like the others.
As i step outside, i hear a voice behind me. "Excuse me sir!"
I turn around to see Willis, one of the newer front counter employees, walking towards me.
Willis: "Mr. Brenner, you haven't checked your weapon at the front. Sorry, it's regulation..."
I'm looking at him, bewildered.
Me: "My weapon is in my locker, Willis...", just as i finish the sentence, i feel something odd. I suddenly realize i am holding something in my hand.
I look down... and it's my gun case. I'm left speechless.
Me: "Sorry about that Will, can you store it for me?"
Willis: "Sure, no problem, don't worry about it, i'll take care of it for you." he answers with a perplexed smile,
Me: "Good man." i reply as i walk back to my car.
I think back. I'm almost positive. I'm retracing my steps in my mind, looking for visual clues of my most recent past. I realize the more i think back, the fuzzier my memory becomes.
Suddenly, an awful feeling grips me, as i reach for my phone. I dial my doctor's cellphone number.
A few rings later, Dr. Coleman answers in his usual cheery tone,
Dr. Coleman: "Dr. Coleman speaking!"
Me: "Doctor? This is Paul Brenner, how are you doing?"
Dr. Coleman: "Doing alright Mr. Brenner, what can i do for you?"
Me: "I was wondering... what's your schedule looks like today for an MRI?"
Dr. Coleman: "I can schedule you for tomorrow morning at ten, that's all i have available right now. what's the matter?"
Me: "I'm not sure... i may be experiencing memory lapses i guess... i'm not sure."
Dr. Coleman: "I see... how long has it been happening?"
Me: "Today, at the gun range, about five minutes ago i walked out and realized i still had my gun case in my hand, i am almost positive i put it back and next thing i know..."
Dr. Coleman: "Doesn't seem like much of a worry, Paul. Maybe you are just overworked. Come on by tomorrow and i'll give you a check-up."
I get back to my car. My mind is in a daze. I'm anxious. I begin to force myself to remember little things: phone numbers, names, email addresses... anything i should be able to remember easily.
I decide to drive home, slower than normal, paying extra attention to the road, the way i hardly ever do.
As i pull into the garage, the hawk is the first thing i notice, sitting on the floor, next to the door that leads into the house through the laundry room, exactly where i remember leaving it.
I walk past it and into the house.
Me: "Lillian?" i call out my wife.
I get no answer as i walk into the kitchen and open the fridge.
I take a beer can out of the refrigerator and set it on the counter as i reach for my phone.
I send a quick text to Lillian, asking where she might be.
I walk to the living room and sit on the couch. As i reach for the remote control, something strikes me. I look around. My mind is in a daze again. A similar feeling to the one i had earlier outside the gun range, pervades me.
I suddenly realize i don't have my phone in my hand... even though i just sent my wife a text message. I know i did. My other hand feels cold... and next thing i know... i am holding a beer, while i can't see my phone anywhere.
A familiar buzz echoes from the kitchen, startling me.
I get up from the couch.
As i pick up my phone from the island counter i turn my head to the living room. The television is on... and for reasons i can't explain, the remote control is in my hand.
At this point i'm almost panicking. something is wrong and i can't explain what it is.
Lillian is calling me. I answer, with a lump in my throat.
Lillian: "What happened, babe... i tried to call you five times!"
Me: "Lillian... i think i'm having a problem..." i say to her, with obvious fright in my voice.
Lillian: "What's wrong, honey?"
Me: "It started at the gun range... i think i'm having memory lapses. I've made an appointment with Coleman in the morning."
Lillian: "In the morning...? Babe, is everything OK? I drove you to Coleman this morning, he just called me with the results, that's why i was trying to call you tonight!"
I feel as if i am slowly going insane. Suddenly, fuzzy images of myself at the doctor's office surface on my mind, like floating debris from a ship's wreckage.
Me: "Can you come home?"
Lillian: "I'll be back in a few... lay down a bit, get some rest."
I open my eyes. Everything is blurry for a minute. The details of what happened after talking to my wife are fuzzy at best.
The most i can remember is following my wife's advice and get some rest.
I look at the alarm clock on my night stand. It's nine in the morning.
Me: "Honey...?" I call out. I feel weak as i try to make myself sit up. I can barely manage to lean on my elbows.
I see Lillian walking in the bedroom. She smiles at me.
Lillian: "Hi, how are you feeling?"
I look at her, smiling back,
Me: "I feel like crap..."
Lillian: "I know... you had a fever all night."
As Lillian talks to me i feel my strength is coming back to me, little by little. I sit up.
Lillian: "You were talking in your sleep a lot..."
Me: "I didn't blurt out the name of my secret mistress, did i?", I tell her jokingly.
Lillian: "Oh yeah... phone number and everything!" she replies chuckling.
Me: "I'm starting to feel better now..." i tell her as i decide to get up.
I throw on a pair of denims and a shirt, and follow my wife in the living room, where two cups of coffee are waiting.
Lillian: "I figured you'd feel better, last time i checked you had barely any fever." she tells me while handing me a mug.
As i sit down, i realize i am still struggling with my memory... yet something else is going on that i can't quite identify. It's a background noise... like a transparent fog filling the imaginary spaces between my thoughts.
Lillian: "How are you feeling now?"
I look at my wife, and as she speak, i feel that fog thickening, turning into a liquid washing over my mind... getting more intense as my wife talks.
Me: "I don't know... maybe i'm not over the flu yet..."
Lillian: "Do you have a headache?" She says, as each and every words are beginning to thumb in my head like a drum.
Me: "No... it's like... i'm not sure..." i reply, as the thumping quickly subsides.
Lillian: "Maybe you need more rest." She says. The feeling suddenly comes back again, this time more organic, natural... almost pleasant, as if something initially parasitic to my mind is suddenly becoming part of me, oddly symbiotic.
Me: "I think i'm fine now. I guess i was just still woozy. I'm not used to sleep that much."
Lillian: "Great, i need to go to the store to get some things, i'll be back a bit later, OK?"
Me: "Sure... i'll just hang out, i'm sure i'll be fine by tomorrow."
Lillian: "OK, i'll be back soon, let me know if you need anything."
I lean into the couch as i reach for the remote. I hear my wife shutting the front door behind her.
Instinctively, i check my hands. I look around. Nothing seems out of the ordinary.
I turn on the television on the morning news. I check the date on the corner of the TV screen, as if i expect to discover some discrepancy. It's still Tuesday. everything checks out. The world makes sense again.
Suddenly, the hawk comes to mind. Sure as heck i couldn't have dreamed that.
I get up and walk into the garage. I look everywhere. It's gone. I can't see that thing anywhere.
I pick up my phone and text Lillian.
Me: "Did we throw the hawk away?"
Lillian: "What hawk?", as i receive her reply, the feeling returns.
Me: "Never mind... i'm still a little woozy"
I return to the living room. Maybe it was all a dream.
I let my body plop on the couch. The news is still on.
The image blurs little by little... next thing i know, i feel as if i'm drifting into a semi-slumber, where i am both awake and asleep.
It's an odd feeling, something i had never experienced before.
That fog returns... i feel it invading my mind again. This time it's like threads, wrapping around my head, each one reaching out in different directions. The feeling is absolutely abstract, yet very three-dimensional and tangible, from an internal perspective.
Suddenly... i am in a deep sleep... and completely aware of it.
I can't see or hear anything, and i can't feel anything around me either. There is no temperature to detect, or gravity. I'm perfectly still. Perfectly alone... until this one odd moment where the threads suddenly expand in one direction, dragging my mind with them.
I see images, but i can't hear anything or feel anything. then it hits me. I'm at Lillian's favorite grocery store. I'm walking... or at least my perspective is that of whoever is walking in this store.
My view moves and shakes, as if it were that of a camcorder strapped on someone's head. I see various items being thrown into a cart before me.
Finally i see one hand raising and moving close, holding a phone. It's Lillian's.
Suddenly, everything around me starts shaking. My skin crawls, violently. I feel as if i'm being pulled out of a vortex.
When i open my eyes, i'm back in my living room, holding my phone. The TV is still on. Lillian just tried to call me.
Me: "Babe... did you try to call me? I guess i dozed off on the couch..."
Lillian: "Yeah, i just wanted to check up on you, sorry i woke you up! Just wanted to let you know i'm running a little late, just remembered i have to pick up a package from a co-worker. I'll be back as soon as i can."
Me: "OK, honey, love you!"
The odd feeling is gone for now... yet the thought of it remains there. Did i just dream what happened? What if what i saw was actually real?
I decided to stop thinking about it for much of the morning.
As the clock strikes eleven, feeling much better than before, i decide to treat myself to a bath.
As i sit on the edge of the tub, i watch the water raise, almost hypnotized by the sound, until the tub is full.
I don't pour anything in, preferring to simply soak in the hot water for a while.
I submerge my body, up to my neck, and rest my head on the ceramic, letting myself drift into relaxation.
That's when it happens. The feeling again. It's back... but now much stronger than before.
I'm not sleeping. I'm not imagining things. I'm fully awake... and i am completely unable to move even a finger.
It's the most terrifying sensation i have ever had in my life.
Suddenly i blink. Lights flash as i close my eyes for such brief moment.
I open my eyes. Everything is the same. I'm still in the tub.
I'm still in my bathroom.
I close my eyes again. No flashes anymore... then everything turns dark. Pitch black.
I hear noise. I hear echoes... and i feel my body being pushed. I feel the gravity shifting. I'm standing up... i feel my back against a wall.
Then i begin to see something... i see Lillian!
She's in front of me... yet, she isn't. She is merely a reflection in the mirror that's in front of her.
She's smiling... laughing... she seems excited about something.
My vision expands, as if my angle of view could adjust like that of a camera lens.
I can see Lillian now, laughing hysterically... then falling silent. Her mouth gaping open. Her eyes shut. I hear her gasp.
I look down... I see Lillian's skirt hiked up in ruffled folds, tightly gripped in her hands. I see the back of someone's head obscuring my wife's navel.
I hear moans and whispers, echoing through my skull.
It's almost painful. Then it happens. The most intense feeling travels through my paralyzed body. I see my wife's eyes opening slightly. her pupils rolling upwards. I see her chest raising and lowering as she takes deep breaths. She smiles. I know that smile. I have seen it a thousand times... after each climax.
Once again... my world starts to shake. It's less violent than before but not less sudden.
Once again... i'm in the tub. the water is now cold... i can move again, and i find myself with a massive erection sticking above water like a river log.
My body is freezing as i carefully get out of the tub. I grab a towel to dry myself.
My phone is on the counter by the sink. Lillian's text flashes suddenly on the screen.
Lillian: "I'm done, i'm on my way!"
I get dressed and walk to the kitchen, still wandering about that odd vision.
Part of me wants to believe it was merely a peculiar and very realistic dream... part of me wonders the opposite, dreading what could possibly be a form of paranormal phenomenon.
The details of that vision are still fresh in my mind. This is not usual of a dream. Dreams are ephemeral and quick to forget. I can remember almost everything.
I try to think deep about every detail, making a mental note of all that i could match in reality.
I remember Lillian's hair was down when she left, while in the mirror, her hair was tied into a ponytail... and her red lipstick was completely gone.
That is all i can think of. Not much to be a conclusive evidence... there could be hundreds of reasons for her to want to tie her hair in a ponytail... and hundreds to keep her from it.
I am not sure of anything... except that was not a regular dream.
I hear the front door being unlocked. I open the fridge and grab a bottle of water.
Lillian: "Honey, I'm back! How are you feeling?"
I wait for her to walk into the kitchen before responding.
Lillian: "Babe??" she repeats as she steps into the kitchen. Her hair are tied in a ponytail. I force myself not to over think this, as i notice her lipstick color is several shades darker than the red she wore before she left.
Me: "Hi, i just took a bath, i guess i still have water in my ears. did you pick up the... thing?" i ask, casually.
Lillian: "Yeah, it's just a cake. Shirley made it." she replies, setting the small box on a kitchen counter. Shirley and her husband Dan were neighbors of ours for a few years, before they moved to the other side of town. Lillian had been keeping contact with them sporadically, mostly on holidays and special occasions.
Me: "Sounds great!"
Lillian: "How are you feeling?" she asks, sounding genuinely concerned.
Me: "Couldn't be better! After the bath i felt great!"
Lillian: "I need to take a shower now, then i was thinking about going out to dinner if you feel up to it!"
Me: "Sounds good... any ideas?" i answer as i take a sip of water.
Lillian: "Why don't you think of a place and let me know after my shower?"
I nod, taking another sip of water.
As soon as i hear the bathroom door being locked, something hits me...
Instinctively i go to the couch. I sit down... and i close my eyes.
I let go of the water bottle and almost force myself to relax.
Nothing happens for a minute or two.
Just as i'm about to open my eyes again... i find myself unable to. This time, i welcome this feeling. This time i am expecting it.
Much like before, my body is completely paralyzed.
I see a flash of light... then everything comes into focus. I see a regular pattern in front of me. As my eyes adjust... i recognize the tiles in my shower. This is no mistake.
My point of view moves with Lillian's eyes. I see her hands, pouring soap, and adjusting the water temperature.
It's her. This is no mistake. This is real! A rush of excitement courses through my body.
Almost ten minutes in, i am now fully aware of what is going on. I watch as she turns the water off.
I see her opening the shower door and stepping out.
I see her hand reaching for the towel, drying herself. I see her catching herself in the mirror... she smiles, proudly as she looks into her reflection.
I see Lillian reaching for her phone... checking a new message. This is beginning to feel wrong... but if my previous vision was any indication of her being unfaithful, should i have the right to know?
I throw morals to the wind as i try to make out the message... it's from Shirley's husband...
Dan McCormick: "Bad girl", interesting... i think to myself.
Lillian: "you know it!", I see her texting him back.
I feel i have seen enough... it's now time for the truth. I somehow figure if i make a strong enough effort to move my body i will be able to snap out of this trance... and sure enough, i slowly regain the feeling in my limbs as my body is covered in goosebumps.
I open my eyes. I hear the bathroom door opening. I look in Lillian's direction... she's wearing a towel. I can't see her phone in her hand, but i know her routine. She usually lets her hair settle for a minute or two before blow-drying.
I get up from the couch. My legs feel a little weak as i scramble to the bathroom.
Me: "Do you mind if i use the bathroom, real quick?" i ask her.
Lillian: "Not at all..." she replies, as i'm already half way through the door, simulating urgency.
Me: "Thanks babe, i'll be right out!"
I lift the toilet seat and undo my pants, ensuring that any sound matches what she might expect to hear if she were to eavesdrop... granted the theory that she might actually have something to hide.
Her phone is right there on the sink. I unlock it quickly, without picking it up, hoping no incoming calls will happen in the meantime.
My fingers tremble as i access her text messages.
As i read her very last text, i feel my heart sinking into my stomach. I scroll through briefly and discover more messages, some very graphic.
I rip a few sheets of toilet paper, then flush them down, as i pull my pants back up and wash my hands.
As i unlock the bathroom door, my mind is in a daze. On one hand i have just discovered that my wife is quite possibly be cheating on me. On the other hand... i am suddenly finding myself inexplicably endowed with a supernatural power that allows me to see through my wife's eyes... no matter where she is.
The sensation is both invigorating and terrifying.
Me: "Sorry babe, i just felt a little queasy, bathroom is all yours!" i say to her, with a perfectly straight face.
Three hours later i am looking through a restaurant menu, sitting in one of Luigi's comfortable dining corner booths. Neither I nor my wife have ever been to this popular Italian eatery, at least to my knowledge.
Amanda, our waitress is walking back to our tables, most likely to ask if we need refills for our Martini's, while Lillian is folding her menu back on the table, obviously ready to order.
Me: "What do you have your heart set on?" i ask Lillian as i am still mildly undecided.
Lillian: "The appetizer sampler sounds wonderful!" she says as our waitress is standing by, quickly jotting down our appetite's wishes for the evening.
Amanda: "Actually, the sampler is available, however we ran out of oysters, so our sampler for tonight features mussels instead... is that OK?"
Lillian: "Sounds good enough... " Lillian replies.
Amanda turns to me as she notices my menu is still open. I quickly close it and hand it to her.
Me: "I think i will have the same." i say to her smiling briefly.
Amanda quickly turns around and hurries to the kitchen.
Lillian: "I guess somebody beat us to the last of the oysters..." i hear Lillian commenting as her eyes glance over a nearby booth where a couple is eating from a large sample platter that resembles the one photographed in the menu.
I notice the lady's face at the table seems somehow distraught... almost in pain.
Me: "I have a feeling we dodged a bullet there..." i pitch in with my two cents, as i look in the same direction.
A thought hits me. I let out a secret smirk, while Lillian is not looking... then i lean over briefly.
Me: "I need to use the restroom very quick, i'll be right back."
I leave the table, heading to the men's room. I literally jump into the nearest empty stall and lock it. I sit over the toilet's cover. I am still unfamiliar with how this trance is triggered, yet i feel each time it gets easier.
I close my eyes. I concentrate until every sound around me ceases completely.
As soon as i lose feeling in my entire body, i know it's happening.
I don't see flashes this time. My vision immediately opens up before my empty seat at the booth.
Immediately i notice the field of view panning down onto Lillian's phone. She's reading her text messages. Only one new picture message displays on her screen.
Dan McCormick: "You forgot something when you left..." A photo of a pair of lace bikini underwear laid out on what seems to be a bed cover is displayed below the message.
As soon as i snap out of this trance, i instinctively flush and get out of the men's room, to return to my seat.
Almost ten minutes later, the two samplers arrive. The two platters are rather large, making me wonder whether we ordered too much food.
As we take sporadic bites from our plates, while basking in the ambiance of the restaurant, my mind is reeling. I can't stop thinking of what is happening.
I wonder about the purpose of all this.
Then my thoughts shift to my wife. I find it hard to believe, but the through of her infidelity is almost second to the manifestation of this new-found ability of mine. It's almost as if... i no longer care.
As soon as dessert arrives, Lillian says the one thing, out of all that is happening, that is suddenly frightening...
Lillian: "Have you gotten rid of the hawk, yet?"
I am almost chocking on my first bite of cheesecake. My mind is thrown into an instant state of numbness. I believed it was a dream, or a hallucination.
I remember briefly questioning Lillian about it via text message.
Trying my best not to appear frantic, i check my phone.
I scroll down... further and further. It can't be that far back... nothing! No trace of that message, once so clear in my mind... and now gone, as if it never existed.
I look at my wife... beads of cold sweat run down my forehead.
Me: "The hawk... yeah... you know what? I can't remember, actually... these last few days have been... a little strange."
Lillian: "Ok... i noticed it in the garage this morning. I assumed you'd get rid of it on your way back from the gun range, but i guess you didn't bring it with you."
Now she is bringing up the gun range... this is something i can't ignore. It's beyond confusion, dizziness... this is madness! Surreal madness!
I close my eyes for a second.
Lillian: "Honey are you alright? Would you like me to schedule that appointment with Dr. Coleman?"
I look into my wife's eyes... or at least whose eyes i am assuming are my wife's...
Me: "I'll be OK... i just need some fresh air. I guess i am not over this flu yet..."
My wife looks at me, wide-eyed.
Lillian: "Baby, i didn't know you had the flu! You should have told me, i wouldn't have insisted on dining out if i knew!"
I suddenly realize she has no memory of my recent influenza, as if it had never occurred.
Me: "That's OK... it's not a big deal... i felt fine earlier..." i reply, shaking my head briefly.
On our way back to our home, Lillian notices my silence.
Lillian: "Are you OK? You seem distant..."
I briefly glance at her, not knowing what to say... suddenly questioning everything i have experienced, including my odd ability.
Me: "I haven't felt very well lately. I have been having... nightmares."
I lie to her... yet unsure if it is really a lie.
Lillian: "You work too much. I'm sure it's simply stress. Would you like to tell me about your dreams?"
Not sure where to begin, or how, words slip through my lips as if i am under a trance.
Me: "They are not really nightmares... they are just very odd dreams. Sometimes they feel so real, i can't tell if i'm dreaming or if i'm awake."
Lillian: "Sounds like stress, alright... perhaps you should try taking sleeping pills."
Me: "Maybe..." i reply, suddenly finding difficult to focus on my driving. Luckily, our driveway is only a block away.
As soon as my car reaches a complete stop in our garage, i am finally able to relax.
I climb off the car and immediately notice the wooden hawk, sitting at the corner, by the door.
I walk past it and head inside the house and into the living room. My body drops heavily on the sectional sofa. I suddenly feel numb.
My eyelids are heavy, and i soon fall into a deep sleep.
I wake up after what it seems several hours. It's dark outside. I hear the television in the bedroom.
I call my wife, but i get no response.
I walk into our bedroom... strangely unsure of what i will find.
Lillian is sitting on the bed. She looks as if she just came out of the shower. She's wrapped in one of our large white cotton towels. Her hair is wet. The room is warmer than usual, i'm not sure why.
She seems to be texting on her phone. She's smiling... and completely ignoring me.
I call her again. I'm looking straight at her. I have no idea why she is not even glancing at me.
I raise my voice, slightly. Lillian seems to be still completely absorbed in her texting.
I decide to sit on the bed, right beside her. As i lower myself on the covers, it suddenly occurs to me that i can't feel the bed underneath myself at all. I can't feel anything.
I reach over to my wife... i touch her shoulder. I see my hand touching her. Yet, i can't feel a thing. It's as if my nerves are completely shut!
Lillian seems completely oblivious to my presence. As far as i can tell... i am now completely invisible to her.
I sit closer to her. I try to glance closer to her phone. I notice pictures of a man's erected penis, as Lillian opens them, one after another, giggling excitedly.
The number displays in place of a name, as i deduct it does not belong in her contacts.
Feeling bolder, i try to push her arm. My eyes grow wide as i watch Lillian's suddenly loosing her grip on her phone.
Me: "I guess i'm not dead yet...", I think aloud, now fully aware no one can hear me or see me.
I watch, smiling, as Lillian picks up her phone again, with a clumsy look on her face.
Me: "This is going to be fun..." i say aloud.
Right then, Lillian receives another text. This time a short clip of the same erected penis being stroked, slowly, in a poorly lit setting.
I notice Lillian's expression turns focused, as she bites her lower lip, while she slowly uncrosses her legs, as finger tips brush slowly along the side of her thigh.
Her towel comes apart and falls open, revealing her spectacular body. Her blonde hair falls in curls down her cleavage. Her breasts, whose shape i have memorized so well over the years, look even more perky and round, as my fingers instinctively caress them.
Her face is suddenly flushed. I wonder if it's due to my invisible touch. I can't be sure until i decide to go for broke.
Further messages are being exchanged between my wife and this stranger whom i can only assume is Dan McCormick. As the silent conversation progresses, Lillian's excitement seems to grow, as her right hand moves between her legs.
Her middle and ring finger begin to brush slowly against her perfectly smooth mound, occasionally letting her fingertips reach beyond, teasing the very top of her progressively glistening slit.
Suddenly a thought crosses my mind as i casually glance at the bedroom door.
I raise from the bed and walk out of the bedroom and into the living room.
I look at the sectional sofa as my eyes grow wide. It's empty!
This very concept is baffling, as i struggle to understand the physics and natural laws of my current state or dimension... my physical body is nowhere in this house... and i come to a fairly safe assumptions that this could very well be a dream, and no rules connected to the real world apply here. A sense of relief and excitement pervades me as i return to the bedroom.
I find Lillian now laying down, her head resting on the pillow, and her perfect thighs, parted just enough for her had to sink between them. I sit beside her, as her fingers move, almost with rhythmical pace.
Her back arches, occasionally, as her pace increases, while her left hand holds her phone close enough for her to read the continuous stream of messages that seem to push her to the edge of her senses.
Me: "This is a dream..." i say to myself, no longer concerned with being heard. I am now over the initial excitement of this surreal situation. I revert to a more primal state of mind... one where basic instincts prevail. One where jealousy and the thought of my wife's infidelity finally spawns the rage that has lingered within me since my very first realization...
Me: "You want it bad, my dear... ", i whisper to her oblivious ear.
Me: "What kind of husband would i be if i deprived you of what you want?", i continue to whisper, as the pace of her breathing increases, signaling an impending climax.
Me: "Look at you... close to the edge...", i now whisper, more to myself, as my thumb and index finger reach for her left breast, and begin to gently pull and twist the erected dark nipple. I notice, as i do this, her eyes open slightly... as she seem to be glancing down at her chest.
Me: "You felt that... i know you did, my dear...", i tell her, as i watch her climax building. Her chest raising and lowering, faster and faster as her abdominal muscles contract and release in irregular spasms, while her thighs stiffen ever so slightly.
Just as she is about to throw her head back in orgasmic bliss, my fingers grip her nipple and squeeze, with almost brutal intent, pinching her hard enough to leave a mark.
Right then, it happens. Her eyes open wide, her mouth is gaping in mid-breath, as she is suddenly paralyzed in shock. He orgasm was suddenly cut short... nullified by an invisible force.
Me: "Did you enjoy that, my dear?" I whisper to her ear.
She seems suddenly frightened. Her phone slips from her hand as she lets it fall on the sheets. A smirk appears on my face as i watch her leaning on her elbows, gazing into the empty room... looking around as if she just saw a ghost.
I watch as she brings her left hand on her breast... i can tell she still feels the sting.
She suddenly raises from the bed and hurries into the bathroom. I follow her.
She stares at her reflection in the vanity mirror. The red mark is rapidly vanishing, but she can still feel it.
Lillian: "My God... this is crazy...", i hear her whispering.
Me: "Yes... crazy...", i reply to her. She can feel me... but she can't see me or hear me... and i am beginning to cultivate a twisted fondness for the rush derived by this state of mind... like an immense high, a powerful, evil gift that seems to have no rational purpose but to feed chaos itself.
I am high, drunk with power, and a slave to my senses... enraged, furious with lust and revenge... my primal side takes over.
Lillian still looks into the mirror, briefly. She seems calmer now, as if she just woke up from a nightmare. She bends over the sink and splashes cold water on her face.
I kneel down behind her, as she is leaning over the sink. I run my right hand between her legs, moving up slowly, until my fingers reach her still wet opening.
I begin to part her labia, holding her open as my face closes in on her. I manage to go as far as running my tongue along her lubricated slit once before Lillian becomes aware of the feeling. She seems startled at first... i gather the intensity of the feeling must be perceived differently when lacking a visual match to what her senses expect.
She shakes her head and walks back to the bedroom. She picks up her phone. Several messages have gone unanswered... increasingly suggestive, and hinting to what she might be doing. Almost in slow-motion, she lifts her left knee on the edge of the bed, while reading the messages. Her right hand lingers between her legs as she continues to slowly climb on the bed.
That's when another burst of lustful rage pushes me over the edge.
My hand reaches for her lifted knee, just as the muscles in her thigh contracts, building the necessary strength to hold Lillian steady as she climbs on the bed.
A relatively basic motion... simple... mindless. Shock displays on her face as she feels her knee losing traction, slipping off the edge of the bed, causing her to clumsily stumble and kneel down on the floor, letting the weight of her upper body land on the mattress.
Lillian: "God! What's wrong with me??", i hear her grumble...
Me: "Perfect...", i comment, watching my dear Lillian bent over the edge of the bed, once again with a clumsy look of disbelief in her eyes.
In the short amount of time i allow her to collect her thoughts, i build a massive erection... as my hand rushes to her hips.
Lillian suddenly looks back as she realizes of her sudden difficulty in getting up... only to change in utter shock, as she becomes aware of the obvious feeling of a rock-hard object being pushed unceremoniously inside her.
As i begin to thrust, she is now fully aware of what is happening, yet i can see her even close to understanding how it is possible... and neither do i, as i continue to thrust, hard and deep into my wife, like a wild animal in heat.
I grab her right arm, as she tries to lean on her hands and push herself away from her invisible attacker. I force her hand behind her back, pushing her down as i grab her hair wit my free hand and use it as leverage for more powerful thrusts.
I feel electricity cursing through my body as my climax builds momentum. I close my eyes... and suddenly everything begins to shake. I feel i am losing grip of where i am... I open my eyes. I feel the gravity shift... as if i am waking up from a dream.
I am now on my back... and to my utter surprise and disbelief, i am on my couch again... alone.
I look at the time on the wall clock. I shake my head. Only a few minutes have past... mere minutes from when we arrived home fro the restaurant.
I hear someone in the kitchen... i turn my head. It's Lillian.
Lillian: "Did you want some coffee, babe?"
Me: "Yeah... i guess i must have dozed off briefly..." i comment to her.
Lillian: "I noticed... you were dreaming too!", she replies to me as she brings me a steamy coffee mug.
More confused than i have ever been in my life, i shake out of my post-slumber, take an invigorating sip of coffee and get up from the couch.
I walk over to Lillian, who is back in the kitchen, pouring herself a cup of coffee.
Lillian: "Must have been a nice dream...", she says, out of the blue, as she notices me walking in the kitchen.
I lean against a counter, looking at her with a puzzled look on my face.
Me: "Why do you say that?".
She glances down at my crotch. I suddenly become aware of the tightness of my pants. As i look down, an unmistakable bulge makes itself evident to both of us.
Lillian: "My God, babe... what were you dreaming about??"
Me: "Come closer and i'll tell you!", i tease her, knowing that there is no way that i will tell her the truth.
Lillian steps closer, with a wicked look on her face. Her hands reach behind me and slip into my back pockets, as i feel her body pushing into mine.
Lillian: "Care to fill me in, now?", she teases, as the bulging front of my pants is being pressed against her.
Me: "A strange dream..." i answer, teasingly.
Lillian: "A strange dream... i'd love to hear about your... strange dream." my wife replies, as her swaying hips cause her body to rub against my hardening shaft.
Me: "I was... invisible..." i go on, looking into her eyes,
Lillian: "Invisible?", she asks, raising her eyebrows, yet continuing to build anticipation,
Me: "You couldn't hear me... or see me... you could only feel my touch.", i continue, with a smirk on my face.
Lillian: "I like it... it's getting me hot... keep going...", she replies as her hands move to my chest,
Me: "I teased you... and made love to you... but you couldn't see me.", i keep going as Lillian seems increasingly turned on.
Lillian: "Mhhh... that is hot... but... tell me something.... how did i know it was you?", she asks me as her fingernails trace downward paths on my chest.
Me: "Maybe you didn't... maybe you thought it was a... friendly ghost...", i reply chuckling briefly.
Lillian: "Oh yeah...? What if it was a ghost? What if you were just... watching us?" she suddenly asks, suggestively,
Me: "In that case... i guess i would join in!", is my quick answer, as she giggles teasingly, while her hands move down and rest on my crotch.
Lillian: "What is he doesn't want you to join? What if he wants to fuck me in front of you?", she says to me, still in her teasing tone... yet with a sudden darker feel...
Suddenly i don't know what to answer, as i watch her kneeling down and unzip my fly.
Lillian: "Good thing ghosts don't exist... i would hate for you to get sloppy seconds...", she continues, with an evil grin, as she holds my fully erect shaft and begins to run her tongue on the back of it, in long, lascivious strokes.
As i close my eyes, i feel Lillian's mouth engulfing me. I grab hold of the edge of the counter behind me as i feel my wife's mouth sucking me in, and her tongue swirling around the engorged head.
My hips begin to rock, as i match her pace and build rapidly towards a climax... my eyes are still closed as i feel suddenly something shift around me.
I hear my wife moan... but it's a different sound... a sound with no business occurring while performing oral sex.
Next thing i know, as i open my eyes, everything is changed. I am in the bedroom... i am hard as a rock... and i am lodged deep into Lillian's pussy, as my left hand holds her left hand behind her back, and my right hand is gripping her hair as i thrust into her.
My mind is swimming, i thrust even harder into her, ridding myself of all control... i abandon my senses to a raging, furious climax that crashes over me like a hurricane.
I finally come, harder than i have ever thought possible... until every inch of me in numb, limp, powerless.
An echoing voice resounds in my head... i can't make out the words for a long time, until my orgasm begins to subside.
I open my eyes... and i see my wife, knelt down, on the floor... she seems distressed, coughing out sperm mixed with saliva.
Lillian: "What's wrong with you... God, you almost choked me!!", she yells at me, suddenly a million miles away from her seductive and teasing self i had seen earlier.
Me: "I'm sorry... i blacked out for a minute... i'm not sure what came over me..."
Lillian stands up, almost stumbling again, still coughing a little. She bends over the sink to rinse her mouth repeatedly. I zip up and walk to her, only to be stopped in my tracks by her holding out her hand.
Lillian: "Please... just... don't touch me."
I say nothing. I have no explanation for what just happened. I begin to convince myself i am suffering from some form of hallucination... something so severe that is breaking my grip with reality, forcing me to do things out of my control.
I return to the living room and sit on the couch, trying to collect my thoughts, to no avail. Meanwhile i hear Lillian heading into the bathroom and running the shower.
I notice her phone on the coffee table, right in front of me. I notice it now... for the first time. I think to myself, she must have left it there earlier.
I pick it up, instinctively. I glance briefly in the direction of the shower, then i open her phone.
I shake my head. My fingers are trembling, as i discover none of the messages i remember seeing in my visions were there. Suddenly, there is no evidence at all that she has ever cheated on me. I feel everything around me spinning. I feel nauseous, i feel nothing makes sense.
I run to the kitchen sink and force myself to throw up.
I run in the garage, and see the wooden hawk. All of this happened the moment i brought this object home. There has to be a connection.
I grab the car keys and stick the artifact in the trunk of my car. I drive out, without even telling Lillian where i am going.
I race into the night, not knowing where to go. Suddenly i remember my office has a fireplace.
Twenty minutes later, i am carrying the wooden hawk into the elevator.
As soon as the doors open onto my floor, i bolt into my office and rush to the small fireplace in the conference room.
I throw the sculpture in the fireplace and scramble to find a lighter. Finally i retrieve matches from a drawer and a bunch of newspapers from the waiting room.
It takes almost ten minutes for the wood to catch on fire. Finally the hawk begins to break down into sparking ashes and disintegrate over a period of almost three hours.
I watch as the last chunk of that sculpture is engulfed into flames and reduced to ashes... and i black out.
It's almost seven in the morning when i finally regain consciousness, finding myself laying on the carpet by the fireplace in the conference room.
The bottom grill of the fireplace is filled with ashes.
I get up, only to plop on one of the executive chairs around the oval conference table.
I look outside the window. It's sunny out.
I stand up, and suddenly everything feels... different...
I walk out of the conference room and through my office, on my way to the elevator.
The doors of the elevator close in front of me... i begin to look at the blurry glob of my own reflection on the brushed metal surface of the elevator walls. Something is very wrong.
I walk out of the elevator and exit the lobby. I am now out in the parking lot. The feeling intensifies.
I get into my car.
Twenty minutes later i am finally back home.
I notice a police patrol car in front of my house.
I park on the street... i walk in. The door is open. I hear my wife crying. I see a police officer talking to her.
Me: "Lillian.. what happened?"
Before i know it, the officer turns around. His eyes widen as he immediately reaches for his weapon.
Officer: "Don't move! You are under arrest!!", he yells as soon as he sees me.
Before i can say anything, the police officer is onto me, pinning me down to the floor as he cuffs my wrists.
Officer: "Sir, you are under arrest for grand theft auto, breaking and entering, sexual assault and battery! You have the right to remain silent...", i am panicking, not knowing what's going on, i say nothing, as the officer recites the Miranda rights and quickly walks me to his car.
Officer: "This is unit 17, i have just picked up Dan McCormick, he just showed up at the Brenner residence in Mr. Brenner's vehicle.", i hear the officer talking to his radio.
Dispatch: "Ten-four, unit 17."
Me: "What's going on?? I'm not Dan McCormick! I'm Paul Brenner! Is this a joke??"
The officer ignores my please as he turns on the siren and speeds off.
As i am taken into the booking hall, i see rows of people in handcuffs, sitting and waiting, as a handful of officers watch them, shotguns in arms.
The officer who took me in has me sit at the end of the last row. I am told to wait.
As i turn my head i notice a glass door facing my direction. I'm not sure if i am at an odd angle... as hard as i look, i can't find my reflection in the darkened glass. I lean back and forth, without luck.
I notice somebody else in the glass, doing the same thing. It looks as if he's mimicking my movement. I look around... i can't see him. He looks familiar...
I look back at the mirror. Something is odd.
Suddenly a name is being called by the officer standing by the processing window. They call it again, three times. Suddenly the officer who brought me here walks up to me and grabs my arm.
Officer: "Let's go McCormick, are you hard of hearing??"
I am being escorted at the window where an older lady in uniform is shuffling paperwork. She barely looks at me.
Processing officer: "Dan McCormick, is that your full name, sir?"
Me: "My name is Paul Brenner. I live at house 22, Cedar Avenue in White Plains, New York. I don't even know why i am here! I demand to call my wife, right now!"
The officer stares at me with a blank look on her face.
Processing Officer: "Mr. McCormick, i'm going to have to ask you to tone it down. The quicker we can process you, the faster you can bring your insanity plea to the judge or whatever you are trying to pull, are we clear?"
Me: "Why are you calling me that? My name is Paul Brenner! I want my phone call!". I feel like i am slowly losing my mind. I notice two officers approaching me.
Processing Officer: "You'll get your chance with the judge, like everyone else. Right now, i need you to answer a few questions for me before these officers take you to a holding cell."
I roll my eyes in desperation... i fall quiet... then nod.
Processing Officer: "The law requires me to brief you with a summary of the charges brought up by the parties involved against your person, before processing. Whether or not you wish to challenge the charges, it is up to the judge to decide on the validity of such charges at the time of your pre-trial. Do you understand?"
I nod, silently.
Processing Officer: "Good. According to the report and Mrs. Brenner's testimony, you have broken into the Brenner's residence last night, soon after Mr. Brenner left home, and you sexually assaulted Mrs. Brenner. After that, you took Mr. Brenner's car keys and fled the property on Mr. Brenner's vehicle, only to return the next day, about an hour ago, where Officer Miles has been assigned as overnight patrol, as a result of Mrs. Brenner's report. Do you understand the charges for which you have been brought here?"
Once again, i nod.
Processing Officer: "Good. You will now be brought to a holding cell where you will be waiting to be called by the judge. You have the right to an attorney that you can hire privately or have assigned by the court. Do you understand?"
I nod again, as i feel my eyes welling up and my heart sinking, feeling my sanity slipping further away.
Processing Officer: "Officers, please search Mr. McCormick and store any personal belongings before taking him to the holding cell."
It's been over 12 hours. I can't sleep. I can't eat. I can't think. Nothing makes sense.
I am staring at the ceiling, waiting for the next wave of madness to hit me.
I hear a loud knock on the door.
Officer: "McCormick! Get up! Place your hands against the wall!"
I comply, as i see the heavy metallic door unlocking.
An officer walks in, while two more are waiting outside.
Officer: "We are going to see the judge right now for your preliminary hearing."
Me: "I was told i can have an attorney... i need to call my attorney."
Officer: "If you have your own attorney we will take you to a phone right now. You have one hour. Let's go."
Try as i might, suddenly i can't seem to remember my attorney's phone number. I decide to call my wife. It's my one chance to straighten this out.
I am being taken to a phone booth inside the holding area, where a female officer is assigned to monitor conversations.
Officer: "What's the number?"
Me: "Can i dial it?", i reply.
Officer: "I'll dial it for you. What is the number?"
The phone rings at least six times before Lillian's trembling voice answers from the other side.
Me: "Lillian, Baby! Listen... there has been a mistake! They think i am Dan, i don't know what's going on... please, i need you to come to the police station right now!"
A long pause follows before i hear her voice again.
Lillian: "You sick, psycho, leave me alone!!!"
Me: "Lillian... why are you doing this? What's going on?? Is this some sick joke??"
The call ends.
Officer: "Let's go McCormick, the judge is waiting."
Two officers escort me to an elevator, up to the third floor of the processing center, to a small courtroom, where a heavy set man in a suit is standing by a desk, waiting.
Two police officers are standing at each side of the desk.
Public attorney: "Mr. McCormick, my name is Josh Zimmer, i am the public attorney assigned to your case. Please have a sit."
I sit down, without saying a word. The man sits beside me, opening a briefcase. He draws out a file and spreads it over the desk.
Josh Zimmer: "The judge will be here shortly. I need you to do exactly what i tell you. Don't talk unless the judge asks you questions directly. When asked a question, answer clearly and briefly, and most importantly, do not lie to the judge. Are we clear?"
Josh Zimmer: "Pleae answer yes or no."
Josh Zimmer: "This pre-trial will be recorded, just like the main trial. You can't answer questions by nodding or using body language, if you are able to use your voice. Do you understand?"
Suddenly, another door opens on the other side of the courtroom. A man wearing a black suit enters and sits at the desk, looking at me straight in the eyes.
Judge: "I am Judge Mortimer Wilson, and i will be presiding this preliminary hearing. Is the defendant Mr. Dan McCormick present in this courtroom?"
Josh Zimmer: "Yes your honor. This man is Dan McCormick. I am public attorney Josh Zimmer, your honor."
Judge: "Attorney Zimmer, how does your client plead?"
Josh Zimmer: "Guilty, your honor."
I look at the public attorney, completely bewildered.
Me: "What?? I am not going to plead guilty! Are you insane??", i say out loud, almost snapping from a trance.
Judge: "Mr. McCormick, i suggest you settle down before i hold you in contempt of this court and lock you up! Do you understand??"
Me: "Your honor, i am not..."
Judge: "I have no time for this. Officers: have Mcormick removed from this courtroom on contempt charges and placed in custody for 24 hours. Mr. McCormick, i will see you tomorrow in this courtroom at 4:00pm, and i expect you to be cooperative and to show respect for this court."
I watch the judge leave the room, speechless, as if this is all a dream. Once again, i am being handcuffed and taken away. This can't be just a case of mistaken identity. This is something else entirely...
An hour later, I am back in my cell. Another inmate has been placed here with me. The tall, extensively tattooed Hispanic man doesn't seem to be able to speak a word of English. Either that or he just doesn't want to speak. I don't like how he stares at me.
Suddenly something grabs my attention. On his left shoulder, the tattoo of a hawk looks seemingly identical to the one i have burned to ashes in my office.
I lay on the bench, on my side, facing the cell. I try to get some sleep... hoping with every fiber of my being, that this is all a dream, and that i will eventually wake up.
I am being woken up several hours later, into the night, by a blow in the stomach, followed by a kick in the face. I am on the ground, while the man locked up in my cell has decided to viciously attack me in my sleep.
I hear an alarm going off in the room. Instants later, three officers bust into the cell, and subdue my cellmate, while handcuffing me as well.
The man is taken away immediately, while a female officer questions me on what happened.
Officer: "What's going on? Did you provoke him? Why did he attack you?"
Me: "I was sleeping... i woke up and he was already beating me up... i have no idea why..."
Officer: "Ok, do you need medical attention?"
Me: "I am alright, i think..." i answer, as i hold my abdomen.
Me: "I'm ok... i'll be alright..." i repeat to the officer.
I return to the bench. Over an hour later i finally fall asleep again.
A loud buzzer wakes me up in the morning. An older officer is standing by my cell.
Officer: "McCormick, get up, hands against the wall."
I comply, not knowing what's going on, and no longer caring at this point.
Officer: "You have a visitor. I have to handcuff you now. I am taking you to the visitations room."
I am being escorted out of my cell and to the nearest elevator, down to the ground floor.
Another officer takes over and leads me to a small room with a table and two chairs.
Finally a door opens on the other side of the room. My jaw drops.
The man in front of me looks identical to myself.
I can barely hear the officer behind me as he orders me to sit down.
I comply, while i can't help but stare at this remarkable doppelganger.
Me: "Who are you?" is the one and only question that hunts my mind right now.
The man before me seems hesitant to answer.
Paul Brenner: "My wife didn't want me to be here today.". He talks like me... his inflection... his mannerism, everything is incredibly spot-on.
Paul Brenner: "She was afraid of what i might do to you... should we ever be alone."
Me: "This makes no sense... i am... you...", is all that manages to make its way out of my trembling lips.
Paul Brenner: "Me... you are me? You are an animal... worse than that... you are a parasite!", even his rage mirrors mine, his outburst is authentic. My heart sinks in my chest as i come to the realization that i am stuck in a reality where i am the only one who knows my true identity... and everyone else thinks i am a convicted felon deserving life in prison for a horrible crime.
Paul Brenner: "I will personally ensure you never get out of here... i will do everything i possibly can to have you thrown into the deepest, darkest hole they can find... "
Suddenly, something else escapes from my mouth.
Me: "The hawk..."
Paul Brenner: "What?", that very mention seems to stop him in his tracks.
Me: "The hawk... the wooden hawk in my... in your garage."
His gaze changes from extreme anger to puzzlement.
Paul Brenner: "What do you know about that?"
Me: "I know how you got it... and where it comes from. I know what it does."
Suddenly silence pervades the room.
Me: "Have you been experiencing... strange dreams, lately? Dreams where you can see through Lillian's eyes?"
Paul Brenner: "No... i have no idea what you are talking about.".
Somehow his answer doesn't convince me.
Me: "I think you are lying. I think you know exactly what i am talking about."
Paul Brenner: "This conversation is over...",
Me: "Before you go... can i ask you where you were last night?"
Paul Brenner: "What business is it of yours?"
Me: "Paul... we both know i am going away for a very long time... what difference does it make if you answer me or not? You might as well, while we are here..."
Paul Brenner: "I was at my office. Working." is his brief answer.
Me: "Where is the hawk?"
Paul Brenner: "It's at my house... where you broke in and assaulted my wife, like a coward."
As i watch him preparing to leave, i lean closer, and whisper to him one last thing.
Me: "You and i know that... you are the one who is supposed to be here... Dan... I will find a way to put you back where you belong... even if it takes me a lifetime."
Three weeks have gone by since that fateful meeting.
I am now standing trial before a panel of my own peers, for crimes that the body i am trapped into had committed, under the power of a man who managed to steal my life.
The plaintiff's attorney is passionately and frantically questioning me about every sordid detail regarding the circumstances of my wife's attack.
Plaintiff's attorney: "... and so you did, with full intent, break into the private residence and ferociously attack Mrs. Brenner, and force her to give into your criminal sexual rage to the point where she lost consciousness! Can you deny that?"
Me: "I will not deny it. It was me... Dan McCormick. I am guilty of all counts."
I am done with this charade. I am not a guilty man, but the one this body belongs to is...
The attorney's suddenly at a loss for words. The entire room is, as a matter of fact.
Presiding judge: "You mean to say that you are changing your plea from innocent to guilty, in spite of your current defense?" the judge's voice is almost echoing in the now dead silent courtroom.
I discover myself as shifting into a state of mind that is almost masochist. I am not Dan McCormick, and i will never be him, even if the world perceives me as being him.
Me: "I am. I understand how heinous my crime was. I wish to go to jail for the rest of my life, regardless of the outcome of this trial."
The judge falls silent for a long instant, while looking over the statements and other evidence. His eyebrows raise for a moment.
Presiding judge: "Very well... in consideration of your statements, this jury will take 25 minutes and will return here to render the final verdict on this case."
Suddenly, just as the jury is raising to leave, the doors of the courtroom are abruptly open by a police officer, hurriedly stepping up before the judge.
As he approaches the stand, the judge leans over, carrying on what seems to be a brief yet intense conversation.
Presiding judge: "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, new information about this case has been brought to my attention by the local police department. I am thus forced to grant a 24 hours continuance to allow both parties to analyze the new information."
24 hours... at this point i don't care if they throw me in jail this minute. This is not me... it will never be me.
Next thing i realize, i am sitting in an office, before the public attorney assigned to me by the court.
Public attorney: "Mr. McCormick... when was the last time you took a trip to New Orleans?"
I look at my court-assigned attorney straight in the eyes. If i am to play a part... and if there is any sense in this surreal scheme, i will play my part.
Me: "I don't remember... why?", is my stern answer.
Public attorney: "I see... in this case i will jump to the point. New Orleans police have recently completed a three-weeks investigation over a woman's body found inside an abandoned vehicle along the Old Spanish Trail. Irrefutable DNA evidence link you to the scene of the crime... and an airplane ticket. Mr. McCormick, you are wanted for murder in the state of Louisiana."
Me: "What is the identity of the woman?", i ask him. He seems hesitant as he stares at me inquisitively, almost as if he struggled to understand my reaction to all of this.
Public attorney: "Her... name, was Anita Williams Bernard, a fortuneteller. She was murdered in her home... then she was moved and her body locked inside the trunk of an abandoned vehicle...", then the attorney suddenly stops talking, as he looks intently at me.
Public attorney: "...What is this? Why are you asking me questions about this murder? You are all over this. Your blood, your DNA, there is tons of paperwork... what kind of game are you playing, McCormick?"
Me: "A fortuneteller...", i almost whisper, not even making an attempt to provide him with a rational response.
Public attorney: "Yes...", he replies, almost mechanically,
Me: "Did they happen to find anything odd at her home? Maybe... sculptures made of wood?"
The attorney looks at me again, with a confused look on his face.
Public attorney: "As a matter of fact... several sculptures were found at her residence. Mostly featuring... uh...", he pauses for a moment as his eyes scan the report,
Me: "...birds?", i interject.
Public attorney: "Yes. I'm sure you didn't need me to tell you that.", is his reaction... yet i can see he knows something is off.
Me: "Would you happen to know why he... i did it?"
A long paused follows my question.
Public attorney: "Local police investigators have a theory, but it was dismissed almost immediately."
Me: "Amuse me.", i reply, with a bitter smirk on my face,
Public attorney: "Based on eye-witness testimony and several books and notes found at the hotel where you were reported staying, Louisiana police theorized that... you killed her because she tried to put... uh... a curse on you."
Me: "I see... i guess i will be going to Louisiana again soon and find out..."
Public attorney: "Yes."
Me: "Would it be possible for me to review a copy of the report filed for the murder?"
Public attorney: "You can keep this copy...", he lets the stack of papers drop on the table before me.
Suddenly a trail, ever so faint, appears before me. Something i can follow.
As i am being taken back to my cell, i feel a sense of relief. If i can only understand why this is happening... maybe there is a way to reverse it, make it right.
In the hours i have left before being transported to Louisiana, i study and analyze every word of the report. Not much makes sense, yet i push myself to consider all possibilities...
At exactly six in the morning, four officers show up at my cell. I am waiting for them, already standing up, hands against the wall, ready for the last inspection before being secured and escorted to my flight to New Orleans.
During the two hours flight on the completely deserted airliner taking me from Westchester County to Louis Armstrong Airport, i should be so tired to the point of fainting, yet i feel strangely awake. The officers surrounding me are perfectly silent during the entire trip.
Upon landing i am being quickly transported to the New Orleans Criminal Justice Court, an old, white building adjacent to what seems to be a large detention center. The barbwire runs along the edge of every high wall protecting the facility, and the bare concrete architecture is not as intimidating as it should be, perhaps due to the colorful and chromed custom choppers parked in front, giving the building a rather eccentric look.
As we approach the courthouse, i assume word of my arrival spread across town, as several people with picket signs are being held at bay by the local police. I hear them screaming at me. I can only guess if i were this murdering maniac, and had a chance of switching bodies with a complete stranger, i would take that chance.
I can feel the hate and grief from each and everyone of these people. They have a right to hate this man...
Finally, we make it through the gates and into the inner courtyard, where local police is ready to take me into custody.
Minutes later, I find myself into a small office, chained to the floor. Two officers are standing by the door.
Shortly after, another officer is escorting in a young black woman into the room. I look at her and i instantly understand she must have been close to the victim.
The woman sits on the other side of the table.
Woman: "Please officer,i wish to speak to this man alone.", she says, with a mild southern inflection.
Officer: "I will be outside if you need me."
Woman: "My name is Gloria Williams.", she addresses me as soon as the officer shuts the door.
Me: "Ms. Williams...", i respond politely.
Gloria Williams: "I am the younger sister of the woman they say you have murdered.", she says, before pausing again, as her eyes meet mine in an freezing glance.
Me: "I am afraid they have caught the right man, Ms. Williams.", i tell her, not expecting much mercy where mercy isn't due.
Gloria Williams: "I am sure they have, Mr. Brenner...". Her words hit me like a jolt of electricity.
Me: "I... beg your pardon?", i ask, as i feel suddenly nauseous... quite literally.
Gloria Williams: "Mr. Brenner... you have experienced strange dreams, haven't you? Dreams that you can't explain... dreams that feel real..."
Me: "Why.. how do you know this?"
Gloria Williams: "Mr. Brenner, you are going to die. You will be taken to the electric chair, and electricity will be passed through your body until you are no longer alive. Do you understand this?", she says, in a calm, controlled voice, far from the typical voice of someone who has lost somebody close to a horrible murder.
Me: "I don't understand any of this... how do you know? Why is this happening?", i ask, somehow not expecting anymore than what she has already given me... i know i am not crazy. I know i am not supposed to be here.
Gloria Williams: "The man who killed my sister knew of his own undeniable fate... my sister showed him the future. That is why he killed him. He thought he could cheat death... that is why you are here."
Me: "Does any of what happened to me have anything to do with that strange wooden hawk?"
Gloria Williams: "You have destroyed it... that is why you are here, instead of him. He led you to do it. He gave you dreams, visions, illusions... until you did exactly as you were expected to do."
Me: "What do i do now?" i am pleading, desperately for a silver lining,
Gloria Williams: "You are going to die...", she answers, as my heart sinks, "...Mr. McCormick.". It barely occurs to me of how she just addressed me.
I look at her, now knowing what to think anymore. Next thing i know, she pulls an object from her purse. It's a small wooden sculpture, small enough to fit in my hand.
I watch as she stands up from her seat, picks up a metal trash can, and places it on the table.
She carefully places the artifact at the bottom of the can, and produces a lighter and a small vial, which she opens, pouring the entire liquid content on the sculpture, soaking it in what smells unmistakably like gasoline.
My eyes widen as she proceeds to light the fuel-infused wooden artifact on fire.
Gloria Williams: "Goodbye, Mr. Brenner..."
I am watching all this, unable to speak...
By the time the sculpture is completely reduced to ashes, the smell of burning gasoline reaches the officer's nostrils, and barges in.
Officer: "What is going on?? You can't light a fire here!!", he yells, as he grabs a fire extinguisher.
Suddenly, i feel a mixture of dizziness and exhaustion... as if i hadn't slept for days. I black out, as i fall from my chair.
I can only assume this is what death feels like.
Several days later, the Louisiana execution of a Rhode Island native sex offender and convicted murderer, barely makes it to page 4 of the New York Times.
I have no explanation for what happened, for what i have experienced. As far as i know, i am just glad i don't have to give one.
I often think of Gloria, i wonder if she will ever contact me and explain me how it works... or perhaps, just like me, she simply knows what she knows, and accepts it as it is. A miracle... a curse... something beyond our earthly limitations.
The only thing that matters, is that the right man was punished for his crimes.
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