THE QUIET MEN
Here is the latest. Yes, it takes a weird turn. But the weird is just starting, so hang on.
Chapter 5: Brian's POV
Although it's still early evening when we arrive in Dublin, we're exhausted. Maybe the stress of winning that account took more of a toll than we imagined. As soon as we check into our suite at the stately old Shelbourne Hotel, we decide to stay in. We order room service, and open the shades on the bay window to give us a view of St. Stephen's Green, across the road, as we dine. It's a lovely park with mature trees and sheltered foot paths, all behind a black iron fence. A place to explore at leisure when we aren't so tired.
After dinner, we make love, almost tamely for us, since we're more inclined to all-out fucking. But tonight it's time for a sweet, slow, leisurely bout of lovemaking, and afterwards we fall asleep to the lullaby of CNN. I awake hours later with a raging need to piss. I take care of that need, and then realize I'm suddenly wide awake. My partner, on the other hand, is dead to the world. I troll through the television channels, thanking the gods of communication for international cable. Nothing catches my fancy and the hotel doesn't offer pay per view porn. Oh well, it's never gay porn anyway.
Maybe a walk. It's after three in the morning, and good and dark now, no more gloaming to lighten the horizon. I dress in jeans and a sweater, throwing on my cashmere overcoat on at the last minute, remembering how cold it is. I slip the room key in my pocket, noticing an unopened pack of Marlboros in there. I grabbed a pack before I closed my suitcase just in case our luggage went missing. I venture down to the lobby, and then outside. The chill hits me with a physical force, but after a day of re-circulated air, it's refreshing. I huddle into my coat and cross the street without a hitch since there's very little traffic at this hour. A sign on the gate informs me that the park is closed.
It's so inviting, with gaslights interspersed at regular intervals to dispel the dark and a light frosting of snow still clinging to tree limbs and to the surface of park benches. I notice the gate isn't locked, so I decide to risk it. How bad can it be? I've jogged in Central Park plenty of times with no ill effect. If the local constabulary stops me, I can plead American ignorance, which is completely believable. I begin walking, surprised by how large the Green is. Along the way, I pass absolutely no one. It's heaven.
When I get to the lake in the middle of the Green, I sit down on a bench to watch the ripples reflect the gaslights. I hear a whisper. "Come home," a voice says. I turn, but see no one, writing it off to a trick of the wind. "Come home," I hear it again, only more than one voice, this time. Small, tinny voices, almost like children, but not quite. Are kids out calling to a lost pet at this hour? Or to a drunken father? What the fuck? Suddenly a firefly as large as my thumb divebombs me from a hovering tree limb. The insect is shaped more like a dragon fly with gossamer, divided wings, and a tubular body, but it glows like a firefly, trailing sparks of light as it flies, almost like gilded pollen. It appears to be gripping a golden thimble filled with the glitter as it swoops down at me, unafraid, and moves so quickly I can barely see it. It alights on the pocket of my coat, and then dives inside the dark enclosure. I stand up to shake it out, noticing its glow lights up the fabric from the inside. Powerful bug!
Suddenly it flies out and zips in front of my face and I notice...no. Can't be, but it would appear to have a human form, a human face, and human limbs, albeit tiny and fragile and pale gold in color. But then it was gone. I look up because the tree beside me is suddenly illuminated with hundreds of these tiny dragonflies, or whatever the hell they are, hovering among the branches, throwing off light and sparkles from their essence. As I watch, they take flight, forming a corkscrew of light as they ascend towards the stars, their wings beating an hypnotic hum.
Not sure what drug I took or when I took it, maybe it's a flashback from many years ago, but this is one motherfucker of a trip! Before I can fully respond, I hear a woman say, "Brian, come home."
I turn and standing on the path is a tall, slim woman dressed in long, silver gauze that is provocatively transparent. The bodice is tight and criss-crossed with silver filigree. She emits a pale blue glow, reminding me of the color of flesh under the blue lights I used to have over my bed. Her hair is like the angel hair we put around the Christmas tree when I was a kid, pure white and silken, falling in waves to her waist. Her face defies the adjectives I know, it's so beautiful and serene, and yet disturbing. She reaches in my direction, her fingers slender and super-attenuated, as she says, "I am She. Come home, Brian."
"She? Who?" I manage to say.
"She," is her response, and then she is gone and suddenly I'm in bed in our suite at the Shelbourne and Justin is shaking me. I sit up with a cry and he strokes my back gently, as my heart pounds like a jackhammer trying to break through my ribs. "Jesus Christ!" I hop out of bed, still disoriented, wincing as he turns on the light.
"What's wrong, Brian? You were having one hell of a nightmare!"
"No shit! Oh Christ, that was creepy!"
"Can you tell me? Do you remember it?"
I scrub my fingers through my hair that is still damp with sweat as I sit beside him on the bed. I share what I can remember of the dream. Talking about it makes it seem less eerie and more silly. He smiles at me and pushes my hair off my forehead. "A faggot dreaming of fairies? I guess that's not so weird. Was the woman an angel?"
"I don't know what she was. She was almost as tall as I am, slim, but she didn't have wings. She looked sort of human, beautiful, and yet scary. Her eyes were very feline and dark, and her ears were pointed, like Mr. Spock's in Star Trek. She was albino pale, and yet she wasn't an albino."
"Hum, not sure I like to think of you dreaming of beautiful women telling you to come home."
"Trust me, this was no rival. It was so real, Justin, so intense and detailed."
"Well, it was just a dream, so relax."
"I know. Will you get me a cigarette?"
He gets up and crosses over to the desk, crumpling an empty pack and tossing it in the trash. I frown. "Look in my coat pocket. I think I put a pack in there when we boarded, just in case they lost our luggage."
"Sure you did. Wouldn't want to be without your smokes," he teases, retrieving my coat. He reaches in the pocket and pulls out the Marlboros, and then bends down to the floor as something else falls out of the pocket.
"What is it?"
He looks strange as he stands up and opens his palm. The light gleams off of a small gold item that he carries over to me. I stare at it and then at him. I know this is no joke, nothing he set up, but what does it mean? I take the golden thimble off his palm and turn it over and over again trying to figure it out. There are words engraved along the lip of it, but they're in gaelic so I can't read them. A little gold residue spills onto my palm, miniscule gleaming flakes. I scoop them back into the thimble and put it down on the bedside table. I look at him, but he's frowning.
"This isn't funny, Brian."
"What do you mean?"
"You set me up. Ha, ha, big joke."
"By planting that thimble in my pocket?"
"And then asking me to get your smokes, yes. Very clever."
"I did not put that thimble in there, Justin!"
"No? Then who did? Some dragonfly fairy?"
I stare at him. I don't know what to say. Nothing makes sense, nothing. I never left this room, it was all a nightmare. That much I know to be true. This thimble, who knows where it came from? Maybe it had some subconscious effect on me. Maybe I felt it in my pocket earlier, but it didn't really register. And then it entered my dreams because I never resolved its origin. But what is its origin? How did it get there and why?
"I probably heard some stupid Irish fairytale from my mother or some other relative when I was a kid and being around all these Irish people touched off that memory," I conclude, deciding to table the issue of how the thimble got into my pocket. He stares at it as if it might come alive and attack him as he walks back to the bed and slides in beside me.
"You really didn't do it, Brian?"
"No, did you?"
"We'll figure it out tomorrow. Turn off the light," I tell him, taking the practical route. He nods and switches it off. His hand grips mine tightly as we both see a faint golden light coming from the thimble. It's the flakes inside the bowl. As he reaches for it, the light grows dim and then dark. He says nothing but he snuggles into my embrace, and I hold tightly to him. Suddenly, we're two scared little boys facing an unknown adventure.
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July 25, 2004