Friday, November 6, 2009
Dream Detective, Part I
photo by Jon Fife
By the time the kid comes to me, she’s already half-broken. But she wears broken like a pit bull; she’s a mouthful of glass shards and seven leashes worth of lunging. She’s only spit three words before I’m glad she’s got no weight to her.
“A dream detective,” she spits.
This is how they all come to me: certain I’m a con or a lunatic, but too desperate not to try. And this one is not accustomed to the feeling of desperation.
“Sit,” I offer, ever the gentleman. She ignores me. I shut the door and head to my own seat behind the desk. At the last minute, I decide to keep standing, too. I don’t want this dame towering over me.
“How did you hear about my services?” I try again, my ego taking the lead.
“Dr. Saromi.” Her eyes smirk, ever so slightly.
“Dr. Saromi,” I repeat, checking my fingernails. “I was not aware,” I say, finally, “that she found my methods--”
“She doesn’t. That’s why I came.”
“Ah,” I answer.
“What exactly are your methods?” she says, in that same tone of voice. “Of detection,” she adds, just to get that last shard out.
This is actually the part I like. The explanation drives the whole thing right over the edge. Either she leaves in a huff, which is fine, or this is really her last resort, and she gives up, which leaves me to do my work. It’s just a hunch, but I’m betting this one’s at the end of her rope. Though once I start talking, I can feel her trying to stretch it just a little further.
“Tea,” she says, finally going expressionless. “You’re going to detect using tea.”
She’s not bad, this kid. These anxiety-ridden types, they have a certain sinuous quality. It’s either very frail or very muscular. And that aggressive flavor, if you can keep your hands close enough to reign it in when necessary, that can be a very nice flavor. I let my eyes rest a beat too long, and I feel her begin to re-coil.
“Tea,” I confirm, hastily. “This is an ancient process. From Asia.”
“From Asia,” she sneers.
“We drink the tea together,” I continue. “Here, in the office. And then when you sleep--”
“Lavender panties,” she says, almost automatically. She closes her eyes.
It takes a minute, but she opens them. “Ok,” she says.
“What is that?” I ask. After all, it could be important. She continues to stare straight past me at the wall.
“What is that?” I repeat. “Lavender panties.”
“Anger management,” she says.
“A visualization. Kind of meditation.” Her lip curls: “Like in Asia.”
I tuck the lavender panties away for later thought. “Ok,” I concede. “So: no drugs, no sleeping aids, coffee’s ok in moderation--”
“I’m sleeping at home.”
“Yes, you just drink the tea here,” I reenter smoothly. With the girls, this question is always the first one. They’re afraid they might not be able to control themselves. I get up and head to the liquor cabinet by the window. I drum on the top, letting the sun burn some sting into my eyes. Probably I shouldn’t have a shot with her in the room. But it’s also true that I probably shouldn’t continue the conversation without one.
“What exactly led Dr. Saromi to mention me?” I ask, still drumming.
She doesn’t answer. The air in the room promises bad times to come.
“Is the tea in there,” she asks, “or does your end require sleeping aids?”
I drum my fingers. Bad, bad, bad.
“It has to be the same time every day,” I answer. “If this is a good time for you, then we’ll go ahead.”
And I wait.
Fiction by Zoe Jordan, Photo by Jon Fife.