Updated: Nov 2, 2019
"He wants it all, and he's going to get it all." Whispered the voice into his ear. He couldn't move, his body was in an invisible lockdown. Like heavy chains were on his chest, and he couldn't budge them. "It's better to end your worries now, before they get worse, before your worries end you."
Tim struggled to open his eyes. He was able to open them a little and saw shadow figures dancing about in his bedroom. They all danced together joining as one, becoming one small ball of dark light as they absconded to, and out of his bedroom window. The invisible chains lightened. He shook it off as a dream and got out of bed. It was the morning of February 13, 1995, and today he had another interview to do.
Jimmy Copeland had called him a couple of days ago. Carol's ex boyfriend, the one that had been cured of his heroin addiction by the Essence. Sharon had called him that night, right before she OD'd, telling him that he should talk to them. "Tell them what you told me." Those were maybe her last words before the life suckers of addiction did her in. There were some chains, Jimmy needed to get off of his chest, and they were to meet at a coffee shop in West Covina.
The coffee shop was empty and Tim spotted Jimmy almost immediately. He was sitting alone in a booth and had a look of worry on his face. He had long hair that was tied back into a ponytail. Other than the troubled expression on his face, he appeared very healthy. A year ago he would not have been remotely recognizable. It was a different time and he had been at the hands of the disease called addiction. At that time he had been severely underweight, arms covered in sores from scratching till he bled, with his veins tracked and bruised. There had been times that he was without heroin, when he could not get it. The pain had been great. The great coming down, the withdrawls, "The Drag" as he called it, because it had felt like something was trying to drag his soul out of his body. The Essence had killed all those feelings, and these were better days, but something was troubling him, something had his mind in worry.
Tim introduced himself, sat down and put the tape recorder on the table. He hit the record buttons together.
"Is that really necessary? Asked Jimmy.
"Yes it is." Tim said firmly. "But don't worry we won't be printing any of this, we are building a case against Carol."
"Do you really think she is still alive?
"Yes we do. And it's just a matter of time before we find her." He paused briefly. "So what do you got for me?"
Jimmy jumped right into it. "Weird thing happened after I was cured. I was wanting to get something for Dr. Cain, a gift for his birthday. I asked Carol, what I should get for him? What would he want? I wanted to show my gratitude. And she suggested I get him a shotgun. I thought that was so strange, but she reassured me that's what he wanted, in case of a break in or to protect against wild life. So I got it for him, and he had seemed so grateful. I felt so guilty when I heard he used it to commit suicide."
Tim jumped in. "We are pretty sure that it was not a suicide, and the evidence we've been collecting is very telling that it was otherwise."
"I started to think it might not be too, a few months ago, and this is why I really called you to set this up. A few months ago, I got a call from an old friend of both me and Carol. He's a junkie like I used to be, and he didn't sound right. He was very paranoid, talking about how they were out to get him. He told me he had gotten the cure from Carol, but he had to do something he didn't want to do, to get it. He said he had the Essence but was too afraid to take it, because of all the deaths, I tried to tell him there was nothing wrong with it and not believe the media hype. I tried to push him on what he had to do, but he wouldn't tell me. He told me to watch out because they're all watching, and hung up."
"Did you go to the police with this?" Asked Tim.
"You know, I tried. I went up to Apple Valley and everything, but no one there was interested in hearing me. They said the case was closed. That's when I started getting suspicious. Started feeling like I was being watched, and I know it's probably just in my head, but then Sharon had called me, telling me I should talk to you guys... she was dead probably just minutes later that night."
They both started to tear up, Sharon had been a kind soul, on the wrong side of "The Drag."
"You're doing the right thing." Said Tim. "Do you have a name? Or a way for us to get in touch with the addict that had called you?"
"Alan Dushell," was the name he gave, known on the streets as "The Deuce," because he could always take twice the amount of heroin as anyone else, without ODing. Not so much a talent. He would often brag about never so much as coming close to ODing, and that he was invincible. The addiction had him in chains, convincing him of the lies. Jimmy told Tim that "The Deuce" was laying low at an old girlfriend's house, out in Victorville, which wasn't far from Apple Valley. Tim did not believe this to be a coincidence.
"I can't help but think he had something to do with it." Said Jimmy. "It's just all so strange, and Alan has a pretty shady past."
"He did time for armed robbery, and would often brag how he would make a great hit man. We always thought he was joking, trying to sound like a big shot, cause that's what he does, but I'm just worried about all of this. I'm having trouble sleeping at night."
"Well rest assured that we are getting to the bottom of this. Please do not talk to anyone else about this, we are working on getting this solved. Thanks for coming to us, again you are doing the right thing." Have a good evening Mr. Copeland."
Tim then made the call to Mr. Shogun, from a payphone outside, and updated him about "The Deuce." As he did so he couldn't shake off the feeling that everyone was watching him, everyone was staring at him. But everytime he looked, it was like they were never looking. It was like quantum mechanics. Was he imagining it?
"Good work Timmy my man!" Said Mr. Shogun from the phone. "Do not attempt, and I repeat, do not attempt to talk to this Deuce character alone. I have gut feeling that he's our guy, and he should be considered armed and dangerous. We will go together."
Tim hung up the phone, and again came that suspicion in the corner of his eyes. They were all staring. The guy walking the dog, the man riding this ten speed bicycle, the couple holding hands. Even the dog seemed to be staring, but when he turned to look... nothing. It had to be all in his head, but he couldn't shake it off.
When he arrived home there was a message on hin machine from his old chief. "Hey Tim, we've all been worried about you down here at the station. Anyways, we're trying to get you your old job back, but you need to stop that private investigation. You're just making things worse. Anyways, if you're interested come down and let's talk."
Tim laughed to himself as he erased the message immediately. Not a chance, was what he was thinking. Not a chance. The next message was from Krissy.
"Hey handsome, I know you're a busy man, but don't forget we have a date tomorrow. Capeesh? Rest up sweets. You're gonna need it. I'll see you tomorrow."
He hadn't forgotten, she had been on his mind the last month, she was all he could think about. She was like an addiction to him, and when he was without her he felt that drag. The sound of her voice soothed his anxiety, soothed it all. Whatever ailed him, she was the cure. He was now feeling pretty good and called it a night.
"We're all watching you Mr. Gray." Said the old man in a deep, but crackling tone.
"Huh?" Asked Tim.
The old man had a thick mustache, deep sunken in eyes, and wrinkly skin. "You can look away and pretend it's not happening all you want, but we are here, we are everywhere. Why can't you just walk away?"
Tim was perturbed. "Excuse me, who are you?"
The wrinkly old man didn't answer him, just stood there with a grin. Before Tim could question him again he felt a tug from the back of his shirt. He turned around. It was a little boy, with sad blue eyes. His eyes were so shiny and glistened of despair. "We are everyone, and everywhere. Just look around you. No one is happy. Everyone is trapped in their depression." He spoke with the softest tone. "You should walk away mister, before things get worse for you. This world is not yours, it's ours and it belongs to us. You should stop what you are doing. There is no cure. Only despair and loss. The only cure to living is death."
Before Tim could turn around again he was surrounded by more people, there were hundreds of them. People of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Men, women, children, and all that comes in between. Old and young. Rich and poor. The beautiful and the ugly. All staring at him with the same look of dread and disgust. They all started to talk at the same time, not in chorus, but in chaos.
The little boy with the sad blue eyes picked up a rock. "There is no such thing as love mister." Said the boy. "People just pretend, until they get sick of eachother. Depression and despair is the only real truth in this life. You should end your worries and run away mister. Run before it gets worse."
Tim was in absolute shock and fear. Where was he? How did he get here? He looked around, he was lost! His panic was less about why this was happening, and more about how. How was this happening?"
The little boy threw the rock like a child would and it landed softly at Tim's feet. "They are much stronger than I am. You should run."
Tim looked around, and at everyone else. They were all picking up rocks, while maintaining that glare at him. A glare of disgust. And then came that voice in his head. Run!
He was running, but he had no idea where he was going or where he was. Where was he going! The angry mob was behind him giving chase, with rocks clenched in hand. He saw a bridge up ahead in the distance and he ran for it. He was gaining ground, and felt he might be safe if he could just make it to the otherside of the bridge.
He was halfway across the bridge, when he saw that the other side of the bridge had another crowd of of disgusted glaring folks. He turned around to go back the other way, but it was too late. He was trapped!
"They'll be here soon."
Tim looked down, and there he was, the little boy with the sad blue eyes. How did he get there? The entirety of the child's eyes had turned blue. No whites, no separation. Just Blue.
"You should end your worries yourself. What they are going to do to you will be much worse."
"What?" Tim was out of breath and drenched in his own sweat.
"Cut those chains that have been holding you down, cut the pain and break away, and jump. You should jump. It will be painless and swift." Said the boy.
Tim looked again, from one side to the other. The mobs were coming in closer and closer with every glance. The first of the rocks came flying in and one pelted him right in face. He was now bleeding. The bridge was high, but he had no choice. It was like being trapped in a burning building. Jump or burn alive. So he did the unthinkable. He jumped.
The cold wind whistled in his hair, as he hit the ground fast and hard. He opened his eyes and saw the angry glares from aloft, the mob peering down on him from the bridge up above. He had survived somehow, but how? He looked to his side, and there was a woman down there with him below the bridge. It was Carol.
"You should learn when to go." Said Carol. "You'll never find me. They get what they want, and they are going to take everything. You are but a day, they are forever!" She was misery in the flesh.
He got up to go to her. He was so relieved to be alive, but it was short lived. he couldn't take another step. His femur bone on his right leg was up and inside him, and popping out from his gut. He fell to the ground as the world seemed to drip away from him like blood in a hourglass. The sky was violet and began to spin like a black record. It spun till it all went black.
Tim awoke drenched in his own sweat. He took a prodigious breath, as if he had just surfaced from a stream. Merrily to be awake. Tim had never died in a dream before, but still it had only been a dream. Thank god it was only a dream.
The darkness of the night before had passed. The sun was rising and it was now Valentines Day 1995. Tonight Tim had a date, a real date with Krissy. He hadn't seen her since New Years Eve, but that one kiss was all he could think about. They had been talking over the phone all month, and it had happened so quick, like an arrow in the wind. She gushed on him like no one else ever had before. She was genuine, and always had the right words. They had only known each other for a short while, but it was like seeing the sunrise for the first time. Tim was almost forty years old, and had often wondered if he would experience love in this life time. He had given up on that, and yet here he was falling hard into her rising sun. She felt it too. The sound of his voice would light up her eyes like a birthday candle in the dark, and as long as she had him that flame would never go out. He made her feel safe, and because of that safety she could shine even in the dark.
They didn't do the normale dinner and roses like most did. They spent the whole day together at Knott's Berry Farm. America's first theme park. It was the lesser known amusement park down the road from Disneyland. The rides were a little more dangerous with loops that went sideways, others like boomerangs. Montezuma's Revenge was Tim's favorite. It came down backwards like a trust fall. The Log Ride was Krissy's favorite, as it was the most romantic ride, and the first of its kind that was copied at other parks. They were holding hands as the log peaked to the top. Not a sad emotion in sight. Not a pale one to be found, not even in darkness as it became night. There was nothing for the pale kind to feed on here. Even the fear of the fall in the log as they splashed into safety. It would be like feasting on fool's gold for the pale ones. Like love, this was the good kind of fear. The kind with the ups and downs, knowing even with the fall they were in it together.
They ended the evening eating turkey legs in the replica ghost town at the park. Tim held the turkey leg to his side and made a tough grin.
"Do I look like Henry the Eighth, like in that painting?"
She started to laugh. "What are you talking about, you nerd... but you're a sexy nerd"
That's when Tim gave her, her gift. A moonstone locket, which he knew was her favorite. Her face lit up, and her hair shined in the sun that was setting behind her. She immediately put it on. A dark time would be coming their way soon, but not tonight. Tonight their worries were gone.
"Oh my god! I love it! I love you so much!"
"I love you more." He said.
"I'm going to be spending the rest of our life proving you wrong."
"I adore you, I absolutely love you."
"I love us so much that it scares me. But I don't care, I know we'll be there to catch each other when we fall. I'll never let you fall."
It was all happening so fast, and normally falling this fast would seem so crazy to both of them, but not now. They both needed this. They were lost in the moment, holding hands, without a worry in the world.