The Powerless Stone
by John J. McNally
The day had started perfectly for Robin Creari, he had set out on his racing bike along the smooth highway just south of Hollister, California. It was early Sunday morning, and there was just enough mist in the air to make it cool. He felt invincible as he flew through the stop sign at Fairfield Road, and worked his way toward the little town of Tres Pinos.
Tres Pinos was barely a blip on the map, a town claiming five hundred that lay along Highway 25. The town had one gas station/general store, a Laundromat, and several restaurants and bars. Robin flew by them, smiling at the 35 mile per hour speed limit. For a cyclist, that was an admirable goal on a flat stretch.
It was a much-needed break for Robin to be riding again. He had been working six days a week, both at the office and at home on a project that, before the dot com crash, belonged to six fellow employees. He was under a lot of pressure to finish this current project soon; but if Robin didn’t get some time for himself, something was bound to give.
Robin zipped through the sleeping town with the wind in his face, feeling exuberant. Ahead of him was a long sloping downhill that stretched for over half a mile until it reached a sharp left curve. The road had been cut through an even larger section of hill, which rose up about 15 feet on either side for the first few hundred feet making a miniature canyon. Then it opened up to a golf course on one side and parkland on the other. The sides of the canyon-like roadway were lined with weeds and rocks. The weeds grew all the way down to the road’s edge, and it was from behind some of them that the black cat jumped into the road, practically under Robin’s tire.
Robin wrenched up his handlebars to pull up the tire and swerved, but lost control of the bike. The front wheel skidded off the side of the road and stuck in the grass. The sudden sensation of the back wheel rising off the ground told him that he was in trouble. Finally he was airborne, trying to find a safe landing on the rocky, grassy surface.
Hands reaching for some clear spot to absorb his landing, Robin hit the hillside hard. He tumbled in a confused heap, pain exploding in his ankle as it was slammed and pulled from the crevice between two rocks. He lay there gasping for breath. He had this weird impulse to jump up and run, but the screaming pain in his ankle told him otherwise. He could see the road from where he lay; it was upside down from his vantage point. He prayed for a car to come along soon. It shouldn’t be too long, he thought, although he often chose these early morning rides for their complete lack of cars.
Robin pulled himself up on his arms and looked down at his legs. Still attached at least, he smirked, realizing that his right arm was hurting as well. He tried wiggling his toes, the left foot was fine, but wiggling his right foot sent fresh bursts of pain. “Alrighty, I won’t do that again.” he hissed. “I think it’s safe to say that it’s broken. I’ll probably have to wait for help to arrive.” Fortunately, he was perfectly visible to drivers, and his bike was half in the roadway; anyone coming by would surely stop, or at least call him an ambulance.
As Robin tried to assess the rest of his physical condition, he noticed the orange glow of sunrise over the hills in the distance. This was both good and bad, for daylight surely meant help would be coming, but it also meant that he would be lying directly in the harsh California sun. He felt something warm on his arm and realized that he was bleeding there. He pressed his hand against it and figured it was probably only a surface cut, his ankle seemed to be the only major body part out of service.
A telepathic call for help to the universe was in order, he thought, although he believed that when these events occurred a call for help would be issued automatically. Still it seemed his request was answered almost instantly. From the bottom of the hill he could here the distinctive sound of an engine moving along the road.
From where he lay on the hillside, Robin could see the old red pickup truck making its way up the hill. He wanted to wave somehow, to flag it down, but there was no real way for him to do that. He yelled out as it drove past, but the driver never seemed to notice.
“Oh great,” grumbled Robin. “This is going to be like the movie Jacob’s Ladder, where I’m really dead but I haven’t realized it yet!” That didn’t make sense though, why would a ghost have a broken ankle? Robin had had out-of-body experiences before (and momentarily wished he could have one now) but he had never felt more in body in his life.
After what seemed like an eternity of silence, (with the exception of a distant rooster and the calling of some California quail) Robin decided that he would have to try to rescue himself. If his bike still worked, he reasoned, then he could lean on it and hobble up the hill and back into Tres Pinos; from there he could call for help from the town’s one payphone.
He pushed himself up on his elbows and hands, he couldn’t easily see below him, but it was probably just scrubby plants for a couple of feet, and then highway. The tough part would be getting vertical and trying to move his bicycle. He pulled his body a little, and it wasn’t as hard as he feared. Then his right leg shifted the wrong way and the ensuing pain just sucked the strength right out of him. He didn’t know if he blacked out or if he simply hadn’t noticed but there were suddenly voices and the sound of a car door closing. Somebody was telling him to stay still, and as much as he wanted to be mad at the universe for taking so damn long, Robin was overcome with feelings of relief and gratefulness.
“Easy there son, I can help you.” The upside down face was weathered and kindly, belonging to a short, stocky man of about 60. In the distance he could here the man’s wife saying something.
“My leg,” was all Robin could manage to say, even though his mind was racing with thoughts to share with this kindly stranger.
“Yep, it’s broken alright. I can help you into the truck or you can wait for an ambulance if you think your back is injured.”
Back? Robin forgot about spinal injuries, but he had already moved his neck and body so he guessed that they were all right. “No, I think it’s just my leg.”
“Ellie, you better come over here. It’s going to take both of us to lift him.”
“Do you want me to pull the truck up?” She had a strong grandmotherly voice.
“Yeah, the less this poor guy has to move the better. Pull the truck over here so that the passenger side is facing him.”
Robin watched the truck move past where the man was standing, heard it make a u-turn and pull up past the tumbled bicycle, near to where Robin lay.
“Bob, why don’t you put the bike in the truck first? This way we can drive straight to the hospital.”
“Is that okay with you?” asked Bob.
“That would be great, thanks.” Robin managed.
Bob walked away to get the bicycle and Robin got a much better view of the truck. It was a large pickup, fairly new with a really quiet engine for its size. It was white and shiny; Bob must take good care of it. Robin thought, I hope I don’t leave bloodstains.
Both Bob and Ellie worked their way over to him now. “You take the right and I’ll take the left.” said Bob. “Young fella, you try to get your good foot under you was much as possible.”
Robin was going to protest that Bob should be on his right, injured side, but there was no time. Working as one, Bob and Ellie swept him to his feet smoothly. His ankle screamed, sending spots of color into his eyes, but he didn’t black out.
“Come on, you’re doing great.” said Ellie.
Robin realized that they had carried him to the entrance of the truck already.
“Swing your good foot up now,” said Bob, and Robin did that while Bob transferred his weight into the seat as if he were a small child. Ellie slid her hands down to his upper right leg, helping to guide it in as easily as possible.
Robin still saw stars when his leg touched the floor of the car, but overall he didn’t think two EMT technicians could have done it better. He found himself sitting next to Ellie as Bob decided to ride in the back.
“Thank you,” said Robin “You two seemed like old pros at this.”
“Well, we’ve had our share of accidents on the ranch over the years. Whether it was people or cows, there are certain things you just get used to doing, I guess. You better hold on, I have to turn the truck around now.”
She turned the truck slowly, but since it was on the hill, Robin’s weight shifted to the right and sent another wave of pain up his leg.
“I’m Robin,” he managed to say after a few minutes.
“Ellie Mckay. Do you live in Hollister, Robin?”
“Yeah, I have a house on Dublin St.”
“If you can give me the address, we’ll drop your bike off there. Is there anyone we can call for you?”
“I have a friend you can call, she’ll give me a hand,” Jamie was Robin’s ex-girlfriend and he preferred it that way, but there was no one else nearby he could rely on.
“Glad to do it. What happened anyway?”
Robin felt a chill travel through him, his leg had settled into a deep throbbing ache. “I swerved to avoid a cat in the road.”
“Oh dear. I suppose it’s better you didn’t run it over, but what a shame!”
“Yeah,” Robin tried to laugh but it came out like a grunt. “That cat has one less life, that’s for sure.”
They pulled into the hospital parking lot and Bob jumped out and jogged into the emergency entrance. Moments later he came out with an aide and a wheelchair. They walked up to the passenger side of the truck and Bob opened the door.
They helped Robin into the chair and wheeled him into the emergency room, and got him onto a bed in a curtain-partitioned room. After a few minutes a doctor came into the room and asked a few quick questions about allergies. Then he stepped out for a minute and came back with a couple of painkillers. Robin swallowed them and hoped they would kick in soon.
“I’m Doctor Ely. We’re going to take x-rays of your leg. Then we’ll put a splint on you and schedule you for surgery to have it set. We’re also going to give you a tetanus shot in case any of those cuts picked up an infection.” The doctor cleaned up the cuts on Robin’s arm with alcohol; the momentary pain was almost as bad as his leg. Once bandaged, the cuts felt a great deal better though – they settled into sort of a warm numbness.
“Doesn’t my leg have to be set right away? Won’t it be deformed or something?”
“No, you have about a week or so before something would need to be done.”
The technicians came in and wheeled him into x-ray. The x-ray room felt like a refrigerator. As he lay under the equipment, Robin closed his eyes, secretly afraid that the x-rays would damage them. After they finished the x-rays, they took him to a recovery room and a nurse asked him if he wanted anything.
“Just a blanket, I’m freezing.”
She got him the blanket although he didn’t feel a whole lot better. He was vaguely nauseous, possibly from the pills and his leg didn’t exactly hurt, but felt really wrong. There was no other way to describe it.
Robin focused on his breathing to try and relax his body, but it just wasn’t working. He stared at the light switch on the wall for a focal point until another woman walked into the room.
She was tall, about 5’10” and was dressed as if she sold real estate for a living. Her dark hair was cut just below the shoulders, and she had a friendly smile, an easy, disarming manner, and carried a large shoulder bag. Her age was somewhere between, thirty-five and fifty, which really meant that Robin had no clue.
“Hi, what brings you to this place?”
“Broken leg.” Robin wondered if she was a volunteer or some kind of assistant.
“I’m Della; I’m a healer. Would you like something for the pain?”
“Uh, sure. But the doctor already gave me something.”
She made a dismissive gesture with her hand. “Don’t worry about it. My stuff’s better. You’ll have to tell me your name first though.”
“Robin, Robin Creari.”
“Oh,” she said and paused as if praying for a moment. “You’re my first Robin of the season, so I had to make a wish.”
“Um, are you a doctor?”
“I told you, I’m your healer, now drink this down completely.” She handed Robin what appeared to be a cup of water.
It was water, he realized as he drank it down, but it was something else too. He felt warmth flooding through his body as if his blood had started flowing again. His leg was numbed, which was a big improvement over the earlier pain. He opened his eyes and Della was gone. He called her name, but there was no response. Moments later the nurse popped in, followed by Dr. Ely.
“Oh good, you’re awake.” she sounded relieved. “I thought you had passed out before.”
“Where did Della go?” Robin asked.
“Della?” the nurse and Dr Ely looked at each other.
“Nobody’s been here besides me,” said the nurse. “There have been no visitors on the floor at all.”
“But she was here, she said she was a healer.”
Dr. Ely made a slightly disapproving face, but the nurse shook her head in negation.
“I think you must have fallen asleep for a few minutes and dreamt it.” said Dr Ely. He put a thermometer in Robin’s mouth. “Let’s just get a temperature to make sure you’re not in shock.”
Robin was going to say it was the water that Della gave him, but the words just didn’t want to leave his throat. Whatever happened, he supposed, it was for him alone.
“If you’re up to eating, I’ll have the kitchen send you some breakfast. We’ll fit you for the splint right after that.”
“Sure.” said Robin, and except for his leg he was actually feeling pretty good.
Fifteen minutes later, Robin was feigning interest in an alleged cheese omelet, a rather mushy, tasteless hash brown and some warmish orange juice. When they arrived to put the splint on, he was thrilled to have an excuse not to have to eat that junk.
He feared the splint would bring on a new round of pain, but it wasn’t so bad. The hospital also provided him some crutches, which a volunteer took for him. The volunteer wheeled him outside to a pay phone and he tried Jamie’s number. He only got the answering machine so he left a message telling her that if she weren’t home he would get a cab instead.
“Robin!” It was Jamie, she was coming down the hallway. Apparently, the McKays had remembered to call him for her.
“I couldn’t visit because it was too early.” She explained. “They told me you would be released soon, so I figured I would wait for you.”
“Thank you so much.” Robin said. He had to admit she was lovely. Tall, athletic build, blonde hair, everything you would expect of the typical California girl. He sighed and reminded himself that he had broken up with her, and this was not an avenue for getting back together.
“Those McKays were the nicest people. You’re lucky they’re the ones that found you.” She took over pushing the wheelchair and started wheeling him towards the exit.”
“We still need to get Mr. Creari’s insurance information,” said a woman coming from behind them.
“Oh sorry,” said Jamie, “I thought you would have finished those details earlier.”
“I was in too much pain.” said Robin. He began filling out the forms. “I don’t have my insurance number or wallet with me.” He explained to the clerk, “I was on my bike when this happened.”
“You can call in the rest of the information later,” said the clerk cheerfully. “Are you going to have Dr. Ely set the bone?”
“Yeah, I guess. I don’t really have my own doctor.”
The clerk went over to another desk and got out a binder. “We can schedule you for Tuesday at two o’clock. You should be here by twelve, and don’t eat anything at least twelve hours before.”
“I’ll make sure of it.” said Jamie. The clerk smiled at her knowingly, as if Robin were some helpless child. Robin was starting to remember why he had broken up with her.
Robin finished the forms, and Jamie wheeled him out to the car. She was enjoying this all too much, he thought. “Lets swing by McDonalds for some breakfast.” he said. “I’m starved.”
Jamie made a repugnant face. “I can make you a better breakfast than that.”
“No thanks, I’m hungry now and I don’t have a lot to eat at home,” he lied about the last part.
She swerved the car hard to get into the turning lane. “It’s almost ten – they stop serving breakfast at ten.”
“Ten thirty,” Robin corrected. They pulled up to the drive-thru and placed the order without further debate.
“Thanks for coming to get me.” said Robin, “I really appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome,” Jamie beamed. “How is your leg doing anyway?”
“It’s not so bad right now. When it first happened it was horrible.” Robin recanted the morning’s events for her as they finished the drive to his house.
Helping him out of the car, Jamie asked, “How are you going to take care of yourself? You can’t handle this alone.”
Taking his first awkward steps on crutches he grunted “I was thinking of hiring a housekeeper for a few weeks. I can sleep on the main floor if you’ll open the couch bed for me.”
“Sure, I’d be willing to stay with you as well.”
Robin felt like a heel, how could he say no, and yet he knew where this was leading. “That would be great.” He said, pausing for breath, “but I can’t ask you to do everything, you have your own life to live.”
“I don’t mind really.” She opened the front door for him. “I can come over after work and help out.”
“Sure.” Robin had always thought crutches would be easy, they seemed that way when you’re a kid playing with them, but he had only been on these damn things a few minutes and his underarms were killing him.
Jamie opened the couch bed for him and helped him onto it. Although familiar, she fortunately wasn’t trying to be provocative, for which Robin was eternally grateful.
Robin’s house was clean by his standards. There was only one day’s worth of dishes in the sink. There was dust around, and books and computer catalogues scattered about, but nothing really messy. Jamie got him a glass of water, and naturally began straightening things up.
“Well, you’ve been doing a little better than when I first met you.” She said as he settled into the bed. “I’m glad I had some sort of positive influence on you.”
He tried to work up some sort of retort, but was asleep before any words could come out.
Robin found himself in the ruins of an old temple, walking in a corridor past a cross section to a large opening ahead. He held a flashlight in one hand, and a pistol in the other. There were strange whispery noises in the corridors, but every time he pointed his light in their direction, there was nothing there.
He reached the opening and stepped out. The room was huge. The walls rose hundreds of feet towards an unseen ceiling. He heard a whooshing of air to his left and saw a large pterodactyl descending on him. He fired his gun but it only clicked. He dove back into the corridor from where he had come, and ran to the other end, but a metal gate blocked escape at that end of the corridor.
Robin stopped at the intersection and decided to go right. A few tentative steps led to a horrific rumbling sound. Gasping, he turned and ran the other way. The rumbling continued getting closer and closer….
He woke up suddenly, sweating. His leg was throbbing again; it felt twice its normal size. He glanced at the clock, he had been asleep less than an hour. “Jamie?” he called. Maybe she left after he had fallen asleep, he hoped she left his pain medication nearby.
Robin looked to the lamp table on his left and saw both his pills, and a note. The note said: “Gone out for groceries, be back soon.” He groaned a bit, if he had been awake he could have insisted she buy him some meat – Jamie was an ardent vegetarian.
Thankfully, Jamie had remembered to leave some water with the pills. Robin swallowed one and hoped it would kick in quickly. Right now his leg was really more than he could deal with.
He fumbled around the table until he found the remote control. He flipped through channels on the TV but couldn’t concentrate on any one show. At least it, though, was a distraction.
He clicked the remote again and happened upon Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the dream came flooding back to him. He laughed, realizing that the project he was so desperately trying to finish was an internet game very much like Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider. This game could make or break his boss Stanley and Stanley’s failing company, Web Venture Games. They needed a blockbuster if they were going to keep a presence on the web. Arcade games had been done to death, so Stanley had raised the stakes. “Let’s make an online Tomb Raider!” Stanley said to the seven programmers who made up his design team. They laughed at first, no game that complex could be functionally feasible on the net, even with DSL or a broad band internet connection.
However, with some brainstorming sessions and a lot of junk food, an idea began to take shape. It wouldn’t be easy, and the game would definitely require DSL or its equivalent to be played in real-time, but they found a way to make it work. The team had been about two thirds done when the bottom fell out.
Web Venture Games was not one of the first companies hit, but as the days went by and the tech stocks plummeted, Web Venture Games went down with the rest. Stanley had to lay off everyone in programming except Robin, and Robin took a hit in pay as well. Robin had been the one who had worked out the key to making one of the game’s main characters, Sir Charles ‘Rollicking’ Rollaway, cleverly animated and easily maneuverable, and since most everything revolved around Sir Charles, Robin was the “lucky” one who still had a job.
Of course, once the layoffs hit, Robin had to try and finish everyone else’s code and make the damn game work. There were some major unexpected bugs, naturally. For one thing, the game didn’t work in one of the major browsers; it often crashed for no explainable reason and occasionally the background graphics just disappeared. And besides the technical issues, it galled Robin to no end that only two out of the ten people in marketing had been laid off.
Robin wondered how Stanley would take the news of his broken leg. Robin had access to all his files from home and would be able to work there, but pain would certainly slow him down. He laughed as he thought of telling Stanley to finish the work himself. Stanley was a decent programmer, but he hadn’t touched a bit of code in the last two years. He probably wouldn’t take the news well at all.
Looking over his poor leg, Robin sighed and wondered what had happened to him over the last two years. When he first moved out here everything seemed so full of promise. The world was magical, the universe was responding to his every wish, and following his joy seemed to be the easiest thing in the world.
Somewhere along the way, it all began to unravel. First were the layoffs, and the cut in pay. Robin found it a challenge now to meet all his bills; living in California was ridiculously expensive. And, aside from all the job pressure, serious problems had developed with Jamie.
Robin had made a lot of compromises in the relationship, he would do almost anything to keep the peace, but Jamie had been domineering, constantly criticizing Robin’s habits, particularly his diet, insisting that he give up meat and junk food. After sucking it up one too many times, Robin finally stood his ground, and had decided that their relationship was causing him too much stress to continue with it.
Jamie returned with the groceries, grumbling about the bag boy at the supermarket. Robin didn’t care. The pain was just starting to ease up again, but he didn’t feel like dealing with anyone’s bitchiness.
“What did you buy?”
“Mostly frozen and canned foods, stuff you can heat easily when I’m not here. There’s frozen raviolis, cheese enchiladas, stuffed shells, and pasta primavera. I also got orange juice and canned soups. I would have gotten some fresh fruit but I was afraid you wouldn’t eat it. ”
“Thanks, that’s great.” He knew better than to ask whether the raviolis were cheese or beef. Robin actually preferred cheese ravioli, but he would want some kind of meat in the next few days. At least he had hotdogs in the refrigerator.
“Anything else I can get for ya?”
“Can you bring me my contact lens solution? I really need to take my lenses out. Oh, and could you pop a ‘Star Trek – The Next Generation’ tape in the VCR for me?”
“Sure. I don’t know how you could stand that show, with that kid in it.”
Robin smirked. Jamie had never watched a whole episode in her life. She picked up on the anti-Wesley Crusher movement somewhere and made that her whole reason for not watching.
“He’s not in all of them. Besides, I like Wesley!” With the exception of a couple of early episodes, that was true. Probably because Wesley reminded Robin of himself, intelligence-wise at least; only Wesley never had to deal with being called ‘Robin – the boy wonder.’
“I’m going to go for now. I’ll give you a call later and see if you need anything.” said Jamie.
“Thanks so much.”
She smiled and leaned over to kiss his forehead. “Feel better,” she said and left.
Robin watched Star Trek, and realized that the pain medications must be taking hold because his leg pain was reduced to a dull throb again. The relief from the pain reminded him of that woman Della – where had she come from? But he fell asleep again before he could give the matter any more thought.
Robin found himself on a horse, a pure white horse. He was wearing ringed mail armor with a heavily padded shirt beneath, steel gauntlets and thick leather breeches. He was riding along a wall composed of rough-hewn black stones and otherwise surrounded by barren desert. The wall was at least a hundred feet high, and stretched on forever both before him and behind him.
Robin knew that this wall was the cause of all the desolation, and that it was up to him to restore the land. It was imperative for Robin to get beyond the wall, but as much as he searched, he could find no obvious way to do so. Robin checked his gear and found neither rope nor climbing tools, or even a shovel for digging a tunnel underneath.
Robin continued to ride, hoping to find a gate or an opening, but when it became obvious that there was none and would be none, frustration set in. He reached to draw his sword but it was missing from its scabbard. He punched the wall with his gauntlet; he didn’t even scratch the stone. The wall was impenetrable, yet he knew he must get through it. He scanned the barren land for something to use as a ladder, but none of the husks of dead trees or other scrap was large enough. The dream ended abruptly with the sound of the phone ringing; slipping away from Robin’s thoughts before he even found the receiver.
“Robin, it’s Stanley. Sorry to bother you on your day off, but I really need a favor. I just got a call from Sam, the board is sending in an auditor tomorrow. We have to get down there today and make sure everything is organized.”
Robin laughed so hard his stomach hurt. “Sorry Stanley, you’re on your own. I broke my leg this morning so I’m not going anywhere.”
“You’re kidding me,” Stan’s voice was acrid. “Please tell me you’re fucking joking.”
“Sorry. It’s real. I had an accident on the bike this morning.”
“Shit, ahh shit, I can’t believe this…. All right, stay home, I’ll go to the office. But you better have a convincing fucking cast on your leg when you come in on Monday!” Stanley slammed down the phone before Robin could reply.
“Uh, yeah, I’m fine, thanks for asking,” Robin snarled into the dead receiver. “By the way Stan, I won’t be in for at least a week, just thought you’d want to know, asshole!”
He hurled the phone down on the mattress and then debated calling Stanley back to tell him off. In the end, he decided that it really wasn’t worth it. Stan was an excitable person and would calm down and be all apologetic later – it was just his way. At least I’ll be able to do some of the work from home, that’ll keep him happy, Robin thought.
Robin shook his head and sighed, his thoughts all over the place. He found himself wishing he’d never left New York. At least there he had family who could help him through tough times.
Robin’s family consisted mainly of his father and his Aunt Jeannie; Robin’s mother had died when he was four. His father raised him alone, with Aunt Jeannie, his father’s sister, helping out and watching Robin while his father was at work.
Robin’s dad was an accountant, and in many ways the king of all geeks. Tall, skinny, near-sighted, a Star Trek fan, and a man who loved numbers and statistics – there was nothing about Charles Creari that wasn’t directly out of the mythical nerd handbook. But he was a good dad. He was generous and joked often, he took Robin lots of places as a kid, taught him how to read, and to do math. There was only one thing his father did that always drove Robin up the wall.
Batman and Robin, that campy television show from the late sixties. Charles Creari loved it, apparently enough to convince his beloved wife to name their first born son, Robin. While he was quite young, Robin had never given his name a second thought, not even when Dad had joked about their black Buick Electra being the Batmobile. Once Robin entered elementary school though, it was only a matter of time before someone started calling him ‘the boy wonder,’ given his name and being one of the smartest kids in the class.
A fresh throb of pain brought Robin back into the present. The whole room seemed different somehow although he couldn’t place what it was. Something definitely felt ‘off’, though. Or maybe, he thought, it was just the drugs.
His front door opened, and the brightness of the afternoon sky outside made it hard to see who it was coming in.
“Hello Robin. I came by to see how you were feeling.” It was that woman Della from the hospital!
“Who are you?”
“I told you before, I’m a healer.” She had the same large tote bag with her, which she began to unpack.
“How come the doctor and nurse didn’t know you?” Robin didn’t feel threatened by her presence, but he was extremely curious.
“Oh them,” she made a dismissal motion with her hand. “They know me, they just don’t want to see me. Your leg is hurting again. Have another drink.”
“What is this, anyway?”
“It’s just water, nothing else. It has been energized with healing properties though, like the Grail in the Indiana Jones movie.”
“How did you know I was watching that?”
“I didn’t,” she smiled. “I happened to be watching it myself earlier.”
Robin felt that warmth flow through his body as he drank and for a moment his leg actually felt like its old self. There was the tiniest bit of relief there that cheered him immeasurably.
“Don’t worry about your leg. It will heal just fine, as long as you start listening to yourself.”
“What do you mean?” Robin felt a bit put off. “I thought I was pretty good at following my inner voice.”
“In some areas you are, but in other areas you are not. It’s those other areas that have led you to this place,” she pointed at his leg. “You might say that there’s a whole part of your being that you have walled off, to avoid listening to it.”
That sounded familiar to Robin, but he couldn’t remember why.
“Don’t dwell on it too much now. You’ll have days to work this out while your physical body recovers. Rest today and I’ll be by again tomorrow to see how you’re feeling.” She gathered up her things, repacked her tote bag, and left. Robin let himself drift off into a deep, dreamless sleep.
The room was dim and dark when Robin woke up. Carefully, he stretched his body to turn on the lamp. His watch said 10:34 – apparently he had slept about six hours. He probably would have slept longer if it weren’t for the pressure on his bladder.
He slid his body very slowly to the side of the bed and reached his crutches. His leg actually didn’t hurt too much at the moment. Gingerly, he put his legs down and, using his left leg, stood up. Not bad, he thought as he moved toward the bathroom. Could he pee standing up? He decided that he could as he made it into the bathroom. A few seconds of teetering on his left foot made him change his mind however. Turning in his tiny downstairs bathroom was difficult with crutches, although he managed the entire operation successfully.
As Robin got up and leaned on the sink for support, he got a look at himself in the mirror. His normally red hair was brown and greasy, his face was pale and gaunt. Seeing himself with his glasses rather than the now familiar contact lenses reminded him all too much of his teenage self. Robin had been a skinny, awkward bookworm, praised by his teachers and harassed by bullies. All in all, Robin had been glad to leave that period of his life behind him.
How far away those experiences seemed. By the time Robin graduated high school, he had began to change his image for the better. He began exercising, at home in the basement, when nobody was around. He was afraid of being laughed at, even by his family. He got a job in the A&P supermarket as a stock boy. Carrying boxes and restocking shelves did a lot for his physical stamina and exercising his arms. He replaced his thick eyeglasses with contacts so that by college time he looked very different from the high school geek he had been.
During college, Robin took a basic self-defense course, and after graduation he followed up with years of Aikido and Tai Chi Chuan. It was during this time that he began to explore his inner landscape as well. Martial arts had led him to meditation, and meditation led him to philosophy and metaphysics. Writers like Gary Zukov and Michael Talbot really appealed to Robin’s scientific mindset. Eventually Robin found himself reading channeled material as well, and began practicing reality creation techniques for himself.
During this time, Robin had worked for Allied Data Services, a major data processing company in New York City. ADS performed a large amount of data processing services for clients mainly in the financial center, particularly in the Equities and Bond markets. ADS was the service most brokerages used to keep track of their trades and customer databases. The work was steady, and the pay wasn’t bad, but Robin quickly found his job tedious and unfulfilling.
Charles Creari encouraged Robin to stick with it: “In a company that large, who knows how far you can go!” he had said. But Robin felt his best skills were going to waste. There was no creativity in this job, it was just busywork, and Robin wanted more.
At this point, Robin had been itching to put his reality creation abilities to the test. He began scanning the trade journals for recruiters, while envisioning a job that would be both challenging and fulfilling. When he landed the interview with Web Venture Games in California, he knew that he had found his cosmic match.
Moving out of New York City was a scary prospect, but it had also been one of Robin’s long-term goals as well. All of Robin’s friends and family were in New York and Robin often felt a little too protected being there. He wanted to experience real independence, to develop his own sense of power.
Life in California was so full of promise at first. Stanley had offered Robin a substantial increase in salary, as well as paying for Robin’s moving expenses. Robin found himself buying a house, since rentals were ridiculously expensive and hard to come by. The house was more than an hour’s drive from his job, but it was his own house just the same. He had also met Jamie one day while on a bike ride. Jamie worked as a customer service rep for a company near Robin’s. She was not his first girlfriend, but she had certainly become his most serious and intense relationship to date. So for a brief time, Robin had really believed that he was powerful, a reality creator extradenaire’. Quite a contrast between that and where he now found himself.
Robin’s leg was throbbing a bit, probably from the extra blood flowing through it now that he was upright, but it wasn’t hurting him all that much. I can handle this, he thought, as he made his way back to the living room, he was almost feeling good about the situation as he put his crutches down and lost his balance while turning to get on the bed.
It seemed minor at first, one of those little imbalances that any of us corrects unconsciously with the other foot a hundred times a day. For Robin it was a disaster. There was a sickening grinding noise when his right foot came down, what was worse was that he felt that noise travel through him like a knife. He wanted to scream, but only a small gasp of pain came out instead. He maneuvered himself successfully on to the bed, but it was a clumsy maneuver that only caused him more pain.
Robin reached over for the pain pills. He panicked momentarily when he realized that his water cup was empty. Next to the cup however was a one-liter bottle of water that Jamie must have left for him. He didn’t remember her being so thoughtful in the past. He downed a pill with a gush of water, his whole body still in a massive state of alarm.
He turned on the television just to have something else to focus on again. He found an old Twilight Zone episode where aliens manipulate an entire town into tearing each other apart. Robin watched in dulled silence while he waited for the pain pill to kick in. When it seemed that it wasn’t going to work he decided to take another. Finally, by the end of the episode his body began to relax and the pain eased off. Before he could settle on another channel, the second pill kicked in and he fell into a deep sleep.
Robin was riding his horse again, along the same impassive wall. Once again he scanned up and down its length as far as he could see. The wall was featureless – no gates, no windows, just row after row of unending black stones stretching out to infinity in both directions.
“This is impossible. I can’t beat this.” Robin said. He checked over the rest of the horizon. There were stunted, dead trees, and underbrush, but there was something else, a slight glow or a reflection, he wasn’t sure, but it had caught his eye.
Robin turned his horse away from the wall and towards the reflection, hoping that there would be some clue out here about getting beyond the wall. The land around him was dead, but it had obviously once been rich with trees and grasses. Everything was dry and decaying now, perhaps the wall cut off some river or other water source to this area.
He found he was headed towards a large rocky outcropping that rose up from the ground. As he neared it, he noticed that the surface appeared metallic, like some kind of ore. Aside from the wall, it was the largest thing for miles. It stood about seven feet high and sprawled out about ten feet. Robin examined it closely; there was a single word carved deeply into the stone’s metallic surface:
P O W E R L E S S
“I certainly am.” Robin said, and the letters seemed to glow in response. He dismounted his horse to study the rocky surface more closely. Whoever had carved the letters into the stone must have been strong – the markings were very sharp.
“Ouch! Damn it!” Robin sliced his finger open as he ran it along the carved stone. As he watched the blood well up, he found himself slipping into another place entirely.
“Ow! Damn it!” Robin yelled as his 13-year-old body was rattled by being hit in the back with a football. He was back in Junior High School. More specifically, he was in gym class. The period was ending and the kids were just “horsing around.”
“Watch the language there, Mr. Creari.” Mr. Kurgen, the gym teacher, snapped.
“Yeah, sorry Robin. It was only an accident.” Sal Matino grinned gleefully as he offered the mock sentiment. He offered his hand, naturally crushing Robin’s as hard as he could with his grip.
“Cut it out!” Robin pulled back his hand, naturally, the gym teacher was looking the other way.
Robin was seething as he walked faster and faster to get back to his locker for his books.
“Look at the boy wonder go! I guess he refuses to change clothes so that we don’t see his costume!”
“You mean his Underoos!” chimed in Sal’s friend, Thomas.
A sickening rage bubbled through Robin. He wanted so badly to turn around, to fight back, and to tell everyone just to LEAVE HIM THE HELL ALONE! But he couldn’t; he didn’t dare stand up to them. He was out-numbered and out-massed, and it wasn’t fair. The rage passed then, leaving him feeling weak and sick to his stomach. He managed to reach his locker and retrieve his books in relative safety.
Despite several threats of being failed in gym class, Robin would never undress with the other boys. He saw all too well the kind of mean pranks that they did to kids, even if they had their shorts on under their long pants. The lockers had no real supervision, and while they weren’t big enough to stuff someone in (thank God), there were all sorts of physical and mental abuse that did go on.
Robin didn’t care if he failed. He was smart, and careful about his own survival. If he was outnumbered in a fight (which he always seemed to be) then he would run. Running was one thing he got good at over the years. He was one of the fastest kids in the school and much faster than the bullies who constantly taunted him. Running away burned him up inside however, it reminded him too much of his father.
The world shifted again and Robin was now staring directly at the ground, only a few inches away. He was on his stomach, with Kurt Cheney’s foot planted firmly on his back while his winter coat had been pulled up over his arms. “Say it!” Kurt commanded.
“No.” Robin wanted to yell, to break free, to get up and kick Kurt’s ass, but he was trapped and didn’t know what to do. He kept hoping someone would turn up and make Kurt get off but the street was unusually quiet on this cold February afternoon.
“SAY IT!” Kurt raised his foot and stomped it down on Robin’s back.
Despite himself, Robin began to cry. He was only eight years old, after all. “I am Rob-bin, the boy wonder.” Robin whispered, the sound barely came out and apparently Kurt couldn’t hear it through the crying.
“Say it, or I’ll kick you again, cry baby!”
“Hey! What’s going on over there! Get off him!” The voice belonged to Mrs. Navoy, the block’s nosiest neighbor. Robin was never so glad to see her in his life.
“Uh, Robin fell. I was just-”
“Just get out of here, Cheney, before I tell your parents.”
Robin wanted to run away, but he was short on breath. He managed to get up on his feet, and fix his coat. Mrs. Navoy pulled out a tissue and wiped his face a little with strong, thick fingers.
“Why don’t you go home and rest for a while.”
Robin nodded silently and headed off for home. He was supposed to be going to the movies with his friend Eddie, but he didn’t want to now. He brushed off his father’s questions and went straight to his room. Once the door was closed he cried, and the anger built inside him. He hated himself for his weakness. He hated his name. In his mind’s eye he could see a wave of molten lava smashing and burning the whole neighborhood, reducing it to rubble.
The ringing of the phone suddenly interrupted Robin’s dream. Confused and disoriented, it took him a second to remember everything. He felt around the bed for the phone.
“Where the hell are you, Robin! It’s ten o-clock!”
“Stanley? I told you I broke my leg.”
“You were fucking serious?! I thought you just wanted the day off! SHIT! I can’t believe this. It sucks, Robin, it fucking sucks. I’ll be lucky if we have a company by the end of the day and you broke your fucking leg?”
“Calm down Stanley, I’ll be able to work from here in a day or so.”
There was a long sigh on the other end of the line. “Ok, well at least there’s that. Listen, I’m sorry for being such a son of a bitch, but you know I’m trying to keep this place together. You get better, I’ll call you tomorrow to see how you’re doing.”
Robin put the phone down, still exhausted. He had to go to the bathroom badly, but after last night he was somewhat afraid to get out of the bed again. As he pulled himself to the edge of the bed he saw a package of pop-tarts on the table with a note:
You were sound asleep when I stopped by this morning
so I couldn’t make you breakfast.
I’ll call you later,
Against his better judgment, Robin felt touched by her note. The problem with Jamie was not that she wasn’t a caring person, it’s that she was smothering. When they were dating each other she had tried to dominate every part of Robin’s life. The biggest debates were over Robin’s diet, Jamie had continually pressured Robin to join her vegetarianism, and Robin was absolutely not interested.
Robin made it back and forth from the bathroom safely. Actually, his leg felt a hundred percent better than he did the night before (providing he didn’t bash it again). He safely maneuvered back to the bed and decided to have the Pop Tarts for breakfast.
As if on cue, the phone rang again and it was Jamie.
“How are you feeling?”
“Better, a lot better than last night. I lost my balance and banged my bad leg.”
“Oh Robin. You should have called me, do you want to go back to the doctor?”
“No, really, I’m ok. I took a painkiller and basically passed out. I guess I was still out when you came in this morning.”
“I thought you looked weird, your energy seemed more drained than when I left you yesterday. I think I should stay over tonight just in case you need help.”
“No.” Robin said a bit too sharply. “I mean, that won’t be necessary. Thanks for the Pop Tarts by the way. I’m eating them now.”
“I would have preferred to give you something healthier, but that was all you had in the house. If I pick you up some fruit, will you eat it?”
“Maybe some bananas.”
“What about your dinner tonight?”
“If you’d like,” Robin was mentally kicking himself for this, but he felt obligated to Jamie for being so nice and a little guilty for being so harsh. “Why don’t you come over and we’ll order Chinese?”
“Sure, I’d like that.”
“Cool. I’ll see you tonight.”
“Bye,” said Robin, and then added to himself, “Stupid, stupid, stupid. Robin, what the hell are you doing? You know this is exactly what she wants!” He tried not to think about it.
Television provided no decent distractions, so Robin decided to try sitting at his computer. Surprisingly, he found the task wasn’t all that difficult. He stretched his leg out underneath the desk so that it rested on his heel; he had to adjust his normal posture a little, but not uncomfortably so.
Robin pulled up his work files. The night before his bike crash he had written a few patches into the game. He ran them now to see if they worked. He spent the next two hours playing with the programming code, debugging as much as he could. He only stopped when he realized that he was starving.
He made his way carefully into the kitchen and searched for something to eat. Jamie had left a can of vegetable soup on the counter along with a box of crackers. Robin felt like something solid instead however, and he remembered that there were some hotdogs in the refrigerator.
He opened the fridge and reached down to the cold cuts drawer. Robin realized that his balance here was a little precarious, so he slid a chair over instead and sat down. Upon opening the drawer he discovered that it was empty. The hotdogs, plus a pound of bacon he knew had been in there, were gone.
“Damn it, Jamie!” Now he was kicking himself anew for inviting her over to dinner.
“Alright, what else is here.” Robin took out a jar of jelly and the milk container, “at least she’s not anti-dairy as well.” Next Robin went over to the counter and got the bread and peanut butter. Everything seemed so much more effortful this way. Instead of trying to carry everything back to his desk, he sat in the kitchen and ate in silence.
Robin spent the rest of the afternoon in relative comfort, working on his computer and watching television. His anger over the missing food was building however. Sure, he had asked for her help, but who was she to make these kinds of decisions for him without asking? He decided that when Jamie came over, he would lay down the law about his refrigerator. HIS refrigerator. He felt guilty and a little apprehensive about the fight he was anticipating. Robin realized that he would rather hire outside help if he needed to rather then let Jamie get away with this crap.
Jamie arrived about 6:30, with Chinese food and some more bags in tow. Robin had positioned himself at the kitchen table, so that he wouldn’t have to chase her after she came in.
“Hi!” Jamie glanced at him and her smile disappeared. “I know what you are going to say,” she said, “and you are absolutely one hundred percent right. I had no right to throw out your food. I even went to the store and replaced it. I also picked up a quarter pound of bologna and liverwurst. It was really stupid of me. I was pissed off that you wanted McDonalds over my cooking and my temper got the better of me. I’m really sorry Robin.”
The tension drained from Robin slowly and part of him had actually been looking forward to lashing out at her. What could he say though? She made good on what she had destroyed, and she apologized (a rarity to be sure), so he tried to forget about it.
“I even remembered to get Sweet and Sour Chicken.” She said with a hopeful smile.
“Thank you,” he said, managing a smile himself, “for all of it.” Robin hated to admit that she really could be a charmer when she wanted to. “Let’s eat, I’m starved.”
Jamie smiled in relief, “I’ll get the plates and stuff. Do you want soda?”
“Of course.” Robin watched her moving with ease as she got out the plates and glasses. Having a broken leg gives you a whole new perspective on the natural grace of the human body.
Just as he was about to take his first bite, the phone rang. Robin tried to signal Jamie not to pick it up, but she was too quick.
“Hello… oh hi Stan, its me Jamie. Robin’s here, hold on.”
“Yes Stanley.” Robin gripped the phone with all his strength, hoping to crush it like an empty soda can.
“How’s it going, Robin? I got to tell you it was a rough day. The auditor was a real asshole and the investors are not happy with things at all. They say we’re too slow, and we’re over budget and they want me to shut the company down, Robin.”
“What? Come on Stanley, we can get this project done.”
“Maybe if you hadn’t broken your leg, you could have told them that, but without any programmers here I couldn’t really show them the kind of progress we made. I explained to them that you had broken your leg, but they weren’t very sympathetic, I’m afraid.”
“Um, Stanley, you caught me in the middle of dinner here….”
“Okay, I’ll come right to the point. I scheduled a meeting for tomorrow. Do you think that you could possibly make it in here? I’ll send a limo to come out and get you, or an ambulance if necessary.”
Jamie waved her hands and pointed at Robin’s leg. “Surgery!” She whispered loudly.
“My surgery is tomorrow Stanley. That’s when they’re setting the bones back in place.”
“Shit. All right, I’ll see what I can do, talk to you tomorrow.”
“If he calls back, let the machine take it.” Robin said after he hung up, turning back to his meal. “The food is excellent by the way.”
“It really is.” Jamie said through a mouthful. “I hope the vegetable fried rice was okay, I didn’t think we needed two separate orders of fried rice.”
“That’s fine, but you just reminded me. I meant to treat you tonight for all the help you’ve been giving me.”
“Don’t sweat it. I’m happy to do it.”
“I’m going to have to ask your help with something else tonight.”
“That’s five hundred dollars an hour, Shugah!” She wiggled her chest as she said, it making both of them laugh.
“Actually, I want to take a bath, and I don’t think I can get in and out of the tub alone.” Robin absolutely hated needing help like this; even worse, he knew how willing she would be.
“Of course, hon,” Jamie said. “I’m really glad you asked rather than risking hurting your leg again. How is it feeling anyway?”
“Kind of a dull throb mostly. It’s not really bad when its elevated, but if it’s on the floor for a while it starts to hurt more.” The word hon made Robin flinch inwardly. He didn’t want Jamie thinking along those lines and he was starting to dread the rest of the upcoming evening.
Things went better, however, than Robin had expected. Jamie ran his bath and helped him in and out of the tub but didn’t make a production out of it. She also cleaned up the kitchen while he was bathing, and put fresh sheets on the bed.
“Wow, thanks for everything tonight.” Robin was back on the couch bed, with his bad leg raised, and his good one still on the floor. Jamie was sitting next to him, matching the angle of his body with her own.
“No problem, just promise me you’ll do the same if I break my leg.” Her honey blonde hair seemed be glowing in the lamplight.
“It’s a deal.” Robin leaned over and kissed her, Jamie kissed him back softly, but then got up to leave. “I better be going. Remember don’t eat anything tomorrow morning. I’ll be here about 11 to drive you to the hospital.”
“Good night.” Robin said, feeling both a little sad but relieved.
“Night.” She smiled at him and left.
“How stupid am I anyway? This is EXACTLY what she wanted me to do!” Robin realized for the first time in ages he was turned on. “Damn her, why the hell did she have to be so hot anyway.”
He sighed, and despite being tired, he pulled himself over to the computer. He needed to get more work done for Stanley. Robin had managed to stop the game from freezing, and he had an idea as to why the backgrounds kept disappearing. If he could get this done before his surgery, Stan’s company would be saved.
Robin worked for another two hours. He fixed one problem, but caused another, found his error and then fixed the whole mess. With any luck he just might have this game working before his surgery tomorrow. Exhausted, he decided that it was time to call it a night.
He laid down on the bed feeling completely wiped out. He thought about his leg, his job, Jamie, his whole damned life. He felt trapped between a rock and a hard place. Where was reality creation and inner guidance to help him now? Robin could swear that he hadn’t had a clear impulse for months. “How the hell did it ever come to this?” he asked the ceiling.
Robin fell asleep in minutes, his consciousness sank deeply into a relaxed state. He felt thick, as if he were swimming through molasses. An energetic pattern was dancing before him, his mind’s eye seemed to be bringing it slowly into focus.
Robin sat at the dinner table with his father. He was ten years old, and they were sharing a pizza. This was shortly after a gang of five bullies had chased Robin home.
“Your mind is the key, son. You’re smarter than they are so use that to your advantage.” His father paused to lightly adjust his eyeglasses that were sliding down his nose. “When I was in seventh grade, I was cornered in the school cafeteria by one of the tough kids in my class. I told him I would meet him outside after school so we wouldn’t get in trouble and he agreed. When I got back to class, I deliberately got caught talking by my math teacher so that he would give me detention. It worked like a charm! I stayed in school the extra hour, the bully gave up waiting for me, and he forgot the whole thing by the next day!”
Robin listened in stunned silence. His father had never given him advice on bullies before. He had secretly kept hoping that at some predetermined age his father would tell him it was time to learn how to fight, or at least how to use The Force. Instead, Robin now had to deal with the fact that his father was a coward.
One bully? Robin wished that he only had one bully to deal with. Then he could stand his ground even if he lost. It never seemed to be one bully though, there always came in groups.
Robin stared at the edge of his plate. The blue and white patterns on the china almost seemed to be forming a word. There was a flower that was shaped like the letter “o,” the more he stared at it, the more a word seemed to be taking shape. The letters grew more clearly in Robin’s mind as the scene dissolved around him. And then he found himself at the rocky outcropping again.
It had grown larger. The letters were at least a foot higher, now perfectly eye level with Robin. Glancing at the ground beneath him, Robin thought he saw the faint impression of an “H” in the sandy dirt.
Robin bent down and touched it, carefully brushing the dirt away. There was an “H” chiseled neatly into a flat stone just below the surface. In fact there was a lot more, which Robin began to read as he dusted it off. It resembled some oversized tombstone, except that the writing turned out to be instructions.
HOW TO ACTIVATE THE POWERLESS STONE
ALWAYS FLINCH AT THE FIRST SIGN OF DANGER
ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU ARE WEAK
MAKE YOURSELF INVISIBLE TO THE WORLD
LET NOTHING OR NO ONE TOUCH YOU
SILENCE WILL PROTECT YOU
COMPRIMISE IS THE KEY TO PEACE
Robin read the words over and over, staring at the ugly carved stone before him. What the hell did this all mean?
Robin awoke suddenly. His right arm had fallen asleep and was tingling. What the hell was that dream about? The first words on the ground really stuck in his mind: “Always flinch at the first sign of danger.” How the hell was that supposed to help him? Robin had spent many of his adult years in Aikido and Tai Chi Chuan classes just to overcome the fearful reflexes of his childhood.
Once he got the blood flowing in his right arm again, he decided to get up and record the dream. He kept a record of his more interesting dreams on the computer. At one time he had recorded every dream, but it had become too hectic to keep up with them all, so he reduced his recordings to just the interesting ones.
Usually he could make some sort of sense of his dreams, but this one seemed all ass backwards. Why the hell would he be telling himself to flinch? There were other instructions too, but Robin was still a bit vague on the rest of them. He just figured this was one of those confusing dreams, probably brought on by his broken leg. He finished typing it up and went back to bed.
The next morning he awoke to the sound of Della coming in the door. I really should remind Jamie to lock it, he thought. He was glad that he was wearing sweats and a T-shirt so that he wouldn’t have to hide under the covers. Judging by the angle of the sun, it must be about 7 in the morning.
“Good morning. I really wanted to see you before your surgery,” she said.
Robin felt warmed by her presence. It had occurred to him that he should ask her why she kept coming to visit him, but it didn’t seem all that important right now.
“Thanks,” he said as he sat up.
“How are you feeling?”
“My leg’s not bad, but I’m a bit disturbed by this dream I had last night.”
“I love looking at dreams – tell me about it!”
Robin related what he could remember of the dream, “What I can’t figure out is why I found those horrible instructions on how to activate the stone.”
“Were they so horrible?”
“Yes! They represented everything I’ve tried to overcome from my childhood, and the cowardice I learned from my father.”
“You mentioned they were covered with dust.”
“Yeah, I could barely see them.”
“Perhaps they were forgotten?”
“I guess so.”
“Then maybe you need to remember them now for some reason.”
“Hmm, I’ll have to think about that.”
Della offered him a cup of water, which had its usual warming effect. “Then my work here is done for now.” She said and gathered her belongings and left.
Robin fell back into a blissful sleep for another hour. At eight he rose from the bed and immediately began debugging the game again. He had to finish this for Stanley, although it was killing Robin to do it. The work had become stale and boring. Robin hated checking other people’s code, particularly when he found their style to be sloppy. He did as much as he could for the first hour and then gave up. His head hurt and his eyes were tired, he really just wanted to lay down again.
Jamie arrived and helped Robin out to her car. The surgery was expected to be about an hour, and once the anaesthetic wore off Robin would be allowed to go home. Actually, with his HMO, they rather insisted he go home.
Once they were on the road, Jamie turned to him and said: “I would really like you to meet my Spiritual Counselor once this is all over. She might be able to help you.”
“I don’t know.” Robin answered, “Frankly, I’m more than a bit skeptical.” And what he didn’t add was that he thought Jamie could be more than a bit gullible at times.
They pulled into the hospital with no further comments on the subject. Jamie stopped at the main entrance and got a volunteer to come out with a wheelchair.
“I could have used the crutches,” said Robin.
“Don’t be silly, how often do you get to be pushed around in a wheelchair anyway?” Jamie replied.
The volunteer was an older woman who could have been someone’s grandmother. Robin doubted at first that she could push him up the sloping ramp on the sidewalk, but she was surprisingly strong for her appearance.
Jamie went on ahead and took care of all the details. Robin actually would have preferred to do this himself, but he wasn’t really in a position to argue. Jamie took over pushing the wheelchair, they went up the elevator to the second floor. Robin realized that he was drawing a very strong sense of comfort having Jamie so close to him. Once the orderlies in pre-op took over he missed that feeling and the light scent of her perfume at once.
It was rather unsettling for Robin to just lie around and watch everybody do things around him. He was not used to letting go in this way, to trusting other people with his well being. Up until now, the only other time he had been in this position he was the dentist’s office, but this time it seemed much more intense. At least he got to remove his own clothes and change into the hospital gown without help – that was the last little bit of independence he had to cling to.
Robin was wheeled into the operating room, which was more modern than he expected. (He probably watched too much M*A*S*H as a kid and expected something along those lines.) This facility reminded him more of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The anesthesiologist introduced himself, and covered Robin’s face with the mask. Never having been put under before, Robin wondered how long it would take, but it seemed like he was out before he could finish the thought.
The universe was insane. This was not the normal realm his consciousness went to while sleeping, this was a place designed by Escher. There were impossible structures all around him, strange twisting sculptures, some of which moved. There were people and creatures as well; the whole place was very alive.
There was a twisting yellow ribbon in front of him that resembled a road. Robin decided to follow it, taking no notice of the strange gravitational law that seemed to pull him towards this road even when upside-down. The road began to lead away from the chaos, and he found himself in the Marine Park playground, a place at which he had spent many days as a child.
Looking around, he realized that it was exactly how he remembered it, with iron monkey bars and metal swings. There was a woman sitting on one of the benches by the swings, Robin’s heart leaped as he realized who it was.
“Mom!” He cried out, running full speed to his mother’s arms. She stood up as he approached and caught him in a hug. Robin suddenly realized that he was not in his adult body, but somewhere in his teens. He didn’t care, he held on to his mother like life itself.
“Robin, I’ve missed you so much! I’m so glad you came to visit me.”
“Visit you? Am I dead too?”
“Of course not silly. You’re only dead if you want to be.”
“I’m not sure how I got here.”
“I’ve been sending you messages for ages to come and visit me,” she explained. “But most of the time you were too wrapped up in your troubles to hear me.”
“Well, things haven’t been exactly great for me lately. I kind of feel like a failure.”
“Tell me everything.” Mom said.
So Robin did, he found himself telling her every detail of every problem that had haunted him since childhood. Every humiliation, the feelings of shame for his Dad, his failed relationships with women, including Jamie, his working life, he poured out his soul while his mother sat quietly and listened.
“Robin, I’m so sorry I haven’t been there for you. There’s so much I want to tell you, but there are things you need to learn for yourself as well.”
“Mom, why did you let Dad name me Robin?”
Rebecca Creari pulled back a bit from her son and laughed. “What made you think your father wanted to name you Robin?” she asked.
“That stupid TV show. The whole horrible “Batman and Robin” thing!”
“That’s probably why your father was so agreeable to the idea, but that is NOT why I gave you the name, ‘Robin’.”
Sitting back down on the bench she held Robin’s arms and gave him a piercing look.
“When is your birthday?”
“March 21st, the equinox, you know that.”
“That’s right. You were born on the first day of spring, red faced and crying louder than any other baby in the hospital. I named you Robin because robins herald the arrival of spring. Robin’s are also symbolic for their creative powers, since our last name is from the Latin word for creation, I thought it was a perfect match.”
“That feels very different.” Robin said. He felt something deep shifting inside him. Even the silly Batman jokes didn’t seem as important now. Robin felt as if a whole new aspect of his identity had emerged.
“You know, Robin, you’re my son too. One of the reasons I think your father fell in love with me was because I was a very strong woman. Charles was too weak sometimes, and I tried not to dominate him, but I couldn’t make him stand up for himself. That was his choice. You have my courage as your birthright. Don’t be afraid to use it.”
Robin felt a weird pulling sensation in his lower back. “I think it’s time for me to go,” he said.
“Now that you’ve found your way here, it will be easier to come back.”
Robin held his mother one more time, there was a sound like rushing air around him, then darkness and then pain.
Robin opened his eyes only to have them blinded by the fluorescent lights above him. He was in a bed, somewhere, the hospital? He remembered his broken leg, it was set now in a bright blue canvas cast. His stomach was churning. He thought he might throw up, but luckily, nothing came.
“Hey.” It was Jamie’s voice, very soft and distant. “Take it easy, you just came out of surgery about an hour ago.”
“I feel sick.”
“The nurse said that might happen. Try not to move too much, you’re still getting over the anesthesia.”
“I saw my Mom.”
“Cool. Do you want to tell me about it?”
“I don’t remember much, but I was so happy to see her.”
Jamie took Robin’s hand in her own, “How does your leg feel?”
“Hurts.” And with that, Robin drifted back off to sleep.
Robin found himself standing by his white horse again, studying the instructions for activating the Powerless Stone. He wondered. “Why would I want to activate you?”
He glanced at the wall – was it a little smaller than it had been? He thought about getting over it. What if… what if I became a real robin. No sooner had he thought it than he found himself fluttering around the ground. He was momentarily afraid that the horse would step on him, but the horse seemed to be taking this transformation in stride.
Robin flew up in the air, loving this feeling of newfound freedom! He knew he was dreaming. He had been lucid many times before, but not in the last year or so. The stress of his life had really put a damper on his dream life.
Robin turned towards the wall. He could easily clear it now. His sharp Robin’s eyes also caught sight of something moving in the distance. Whatever it was, it was big and it was flying right toward him.
It was the pterodactyl from an earlier dream. It flew towards him with claws extended and beak snapping. Robin recoiled in fear and started plunging toward the earth below. The wall before him grew visibly as the giant dinosaur flew directly overhead.
Robin caught his descent and steered himself into the branches of a gnarled, dead tree. He moved in to a small niche where he hoped that flying beast couldn’t reach him. Off in the distance, the wall made a sickening, clunking sound, as it grew even higher.
The Powerless Stone controls the wall, Robin realized. Every time he activated the Stone by performing one of the instructions, it made the wall grow even higher. But he couldn’t see any way NOT to activate the stone and keep himself safe at the same time!
Robin laughed harshly at himself as he moved over and shifted to his human form. He still didn’t want to tangle with that thing, but this way he wasn’t an easy meal for lunch. He tried to break off a branch to use as a weapon, but the tree felt as if it were made of stone. The smallest branches only crumbled under pressure, and the larger ones couldn’t be budged.
“This is a dream Robin, make it into whatever you want to.” Robin watched the flying creature circling patiently overhead.
“Why are you trying to hurt me?” He yelled.
“Terror!” The beast screamed diving sharply down toward Robin. Instinctively Robin rolled to the side, and the wall grew another level higher.
“You can’t hurt me!” Robin shouted, only hoping it was true.
“Fear!” Screamed the giant beast diving at Robin again. Robin was determined to stand his ground this time. The pterodactyl slammed into him, grabbing Robin with its claws, the armor prevented the claws from penetrating Robin’s skin, but it used the momentum to hurl Robin onto some rocks.
“Pain!” It screamed as Robin hit the rocks, there was a sickening crack and a shooting pain through his leg as his body landed. “My leg!. He broke my leg!” Robin cried. The world began getting suddenly brighter around him and he realized that he was back in the hospital room. He half jumped up, gasping for air.
“Are you alright?” Jamie asked. “I can get the nurse for you?”
“No, please don’t.” he said. “I was just having a nightmare. A pterodactyl from hell broke my leg.”
“Gee, I wonder what that was about?” Jamie said grinning.
“Actually I think its more than just my leg. I think it has to do with why I created this situation in the first place.”
“Can’t anything ever just be an accident?” Jamie was not a believer in the concept of reality creation. She favored a combination of physical existence and Gaia worship.
“Nope,” grinned Robin weakly. “Everything has meaning, or nothing does. I like to think that everything does.”
“So what cosmic reason was there for you breaking your leg?”
“I’m not sure completely, but it has to do with me feeling weak and powerless. I feel like I’m really processing this stuff on deeper levels.”
“Well, I can’t see it the way you do. Sometimes I think you just like thinking too much.” Jamie leaned forward and kissed Robin’s forehead. The brief glimpse down her shirt did wonders for his morale.
“Can we get out of here soon?” He asked.
“If you’re up to it. I’ll talk to the nurse.” Jamie went outside to get the nurses attention.
One of the nursing assistants came back with Jamie. “How are you feeling?”
“My leg hurts a bit, but otherwise I feel alright.”
“The doctor has to check you out first before you can be released, I’ll page him and let him know you’re awake.”
It took about twenty minutes for the doctor to come in. “Hey there, how are you feeling?” Dr Ely asked.
“Ready to go jogging.” Robin answered. “Actually, it hurts like it did when I first broke it, but that’s about it.”
“Well, we had to insert two screws into the bone in order to properly fix the leg bone. You might feel some pain for a while, but come in immediately if there’s any sort of swelling or irritation. Oh yes, and particularly if you hear ticking.”
“Yeah, I lost my watch somewhere today, I’m just hoping it’s not in one of my patients.” Dr Ely grinned.
“Oh, that hurts worse than my leg.”
Dr. Ely took Robin’s temperature and checked over his cast. “Everything looks alright from here. We’ll schedule an appointment for a follow up, in a few days. As soon as you feel strong enough, you can go.”
“If you’re hungry, we might have a sandwich or something for you. I’m afraid the food staff is gone by seven.”
“What time is it anyway?” Robin realized that he had no clue.
“Eight-thirty,” said Jamie. You slept a long time.”
“You waited all that time for me?” Robin didn’t know whether to feel flattered or worried.
“I wanted to be here when you woke up,” Jamie said.
“If you don’t need anything else, I’ll see you in a few days,” said Dr. Ely.
“Thanks Doc, I think I’m fine.”
Once the doctor had gone, Robin turned to Jamie “I could use a snack.”
Jamie went out of the room and came back with some Jello.
“You energized it didn’t you?” Robin asked as he ate it.
“You could tell?”
“Yeah, it feels really good.”
Jamie beamed with pride, Robin wondered if she had been energizing all his food and this was the first time he had noticed. He really did feel a lot better now.
“Maybe I could get dressed, so we can get out of here.” He said.
“Sure. I hope you don’t mind that I brought your boxers, I thought they would be easier to slide over the cast.”
“That’s fine.” Robin didn’t particularly like boxers, although Jamie had some strange attraction to them. He had usually worn them on nights they were together, otherwise he preferred plain white jockeys.
She was right though, the boxers were easier to slide over the cast. She had brought a loose pair of old sweat pants as well, which also slid pretty easily.
“If the bottom cuff catches, we can just snip it open with a scissors.”
Once dressed, Robin was able to maneuver on his own into the wheel chair. He felt a lot more human, and was glad to be going home. Once the endless paperwork was finished, a security guard wheeled him to the front where Jamie was waiting with the car.
Once home, Jamie made Robin some herbal tea and brought him some Ritz crackers.
“I really think it would be a good idea if I stayed up in your room tonight. If something happened like the other day, you might need help.”
“I think I’ll be ok.” said Robin. “I’ll probably sleep through the night.”
Before she could answer, the phone rang and Robin picked it up.
“Robin, buddy! You’re home, how did the surgery go?”
“Great. I’ve got two screws in my ankle.”
“No shit. Wow, so do you think you’ll be able to come in tomorrow?”
“I don’t think so Stanley, I’m pretty weak.”
“Robin, buddy they’re really putting the pressure on me here.”
“I’m sorry, Stanley, tell them to hold off for a week or so. I’ll send you my work to date so far, it’s coming along pretty well.”
“Shit, Robin what will it take to get you in here tomorrow? More money?”
“This is not a negotiation, Stanley, I’m hurt and I need rest.”
Jamie’s eyes narrowed in anger, Robin waved for her to calm down, but he could see she wasn’t going to.
“Stanley, I’ve got to go. I just got back from the hospital and I’m really tired.”
“Wait, wait, wait, alright you can’t make it in tomorrow. Can you at least upload the most up to date version to the network.”
“Yeah, I suppose. Give me about ten minutes and I’ll have it over to you.”
“Thanks Robin, you’re a pal.”
“Yeah.” Robin hung up and smacked the phone hard against the mattress.
He started to pull himself over to the computer and Jamie came in fuming.
“You’re not really going to try and work now are you? That bastard left thirteen messages on your answering machine, Robin, thirteen!”
“I’m not going to work, I’m just uploading a file.”
“You should be in bed and that son of a bitch should be telling you to take it easy, not working you harder.”
“He’s under a lot of pressure, the stockholders want to shut us down.”
“So what! Your health comes first Robin, your life comes first! You had no problem saying that to me four months ago, but this guy can walk all over you. I guess you will be alright on your own, I’ll call you tomorrow.”
As Jamie grabbed her jacket and headed for the door, Robin turned away from the computer screen. “Jamie wait, please.”
She hesitated, holding the half-opened door in her right hand.
“Stay, please. You were right, I might need your help tonight.” Robin was exhausted just from the effort of getting over to the computer.
“Okay, but I want you to rest, I’m not going to sit by and watch you hurt yourself this way.”
“Fair enough.” The upload was in progress, so Robin worked his way back over to the bed.
“We’ll let the machine take the rest of them. I suppose you should play it to empty out the tape.”
Robin sat and sipped his tea while Jamie went over to the answering machine. With the push of a button she began playing back the messages. The next few minutes were almost a surreal experience to listen to:
“Robin its Stanley pick up… Robin pick up I need to talk to you. Alright, call me when you get up.”
Beep: “Robin, come on buddy where the fuck are you? I’ve got this auditor breathing down my neck, we’ve got to arrange a meeting. What time was that surgery of yours anyway?”
Beep: “You’re really hanging me out to dry here Robin, I need to fucking talk to you!”
Beep: “Shit!” Click.
Beep: “Shit!” Click.
Beep: “Robin, are you theeerreeee, pick up please.”
“Turn the volume down please Jamie, I get the point.”
“I don’t think you do, this man left thirteen messages insulting you because you inconvenienced him by breaking your leg.”
Beep: “Robin if you pick up now I’ll give you a ten grand bonus.”
Beep: “Hey pal, it’s almost 5:00, all the doctors have gone home by now.”
“Do I need to remind you,” said Robin. “That when we first broke up, you left almost thirty messages on my machine?”
“Yeah, but at least I was in love with you. What the hell is his excuse?”
Robin shut up, embarrassed.
When they were a couple Robin often felt she was just jealous of the amount of time Robin had to spend at work. “Maybe Stanley’s in love with me too,” he joked weakly.
Beep: “Robin, I’m sending over a couple of hookers to get you back on your feet!” With that one Jamie walked over and turned down the volume.
“If you don’t need anything else, I’m going upstairs to lay down.”
“Sure. I think I’m ok.”
Robin thought that she might be crying as she went upstairs. Robin felt bad, but then he felt mad at himself for feeling bad. Don’t take responsibility for her emotions, he chided himself. It’s not your fault what she does.
Robin lay back on the bed and listened to the silence. He realized that she hadn’t quite turned the volume down all the way on the machine. Stanley’s pleas were still droning on in the background. He felt like shit, Stanley’s incessant pressure was driving him nuts and Jamie hadn’t helped the situation at all.
As the tape finally ran out, he realized that he really felt bad for the way he treated Jamie. Even though he didn’t like her butting into his business, the truth was she was right. And what was worse was that he felt like a huge wimp letting Stanley boss him around that way. Robin wanted to go upstairs and apologize, but he knew he didn’t have the strength. He supposed it would be best if he waited until tomorrow morning.
Sleep came slowly, Robin kept listening for some sign from upstairs that Jamie was still awake. Finally, he drifted off into a slow fretful sleep. It came as no surprise to him now that he entered his dream at exactly the moment he had left off.
Robin was lying on a pile of rocks, his leg was broken just below the knee, bent like an upside down letter “L.” He could barely move. How could he be in so much pain if this was only a dream?
He needed help. Since the horse was the only one around who might be able to help he whistled for him to come over. The horse trotted up gently, coming to a stop next to the rocks where Robin lay. Robin noticed for the first time that there was a canteen attached to the saddle. Summoning his strength he dragged himself up until he could pull it from the horse. His body screamed with every movement, he ached in ways that he had never believed possible. Above him, the pterodactyl circled in huge swoops, thoroughly enjoying Robin’s pain.
As Robin drank the water, a surge of warmth rushed through his body. This was like the water Della had given him! He looked down and saw his leg completely healed. In fact, his whole body had never felt better. He leapt on the horse and rode quickly to the shelter of the petrified tree. He watched the wall increase in height yet again as he did.
“What the hell am I supposed to do here?” Robin was fuming. The pterodactyl was too strong for him to fight, the wall was too high for him to climb. There was no way he could win this situation. The flying beast strafed the top of the tree, screeching as it passed over.
The screech caused Robin to flinch, once again making the wall rise even higher. It was getting hard to see the top from his vantage point now. The wall must be close to one thousand feet high now! Robin sat down on the ground in despair. “What the hell am I supposed to do?”
As if in response, his horse strode out from under the tree and stood in the open desolate field. He planted his hoofs firmly in the ground and neighed loudly at the sky.
“That’s easy for you to do, the pterodactyl doesn’t attack you.” said Robin.
The horse stamped its front right foot twice, and neighed at the sky again.
The pterodactyl swooped down between Robin and the horse, Robin swore he could see blood on its talons.
Robin watched the pterodactyl’s obvious teasing as a surge of anger build up inside him. His entire life it had seemed like there was always someone ridiculing him. A wellspring of rage erupted, bringing tons of molten lava raging across Robin’s entire inner landscape. Robin saw his school destroyed, the lava smashed through it like cardboard, burning and melting everything into slag. He saw the park of his childhood, the houses, the whole neighborhood enveloped in wave after wave of rage and volcanic destruction.
Around him the Powerless Stone grew bright with color. Molten rock began pouring from its top as well. The pterodactyl above divided into two equal birds, the skies rolled with hideous thunder as unbridled rage surged through Robin’s being.
Robin had always assumed that rage would bring power. That if he just got angry enough, he could stand up to anyone and everyone that ever abused him. Now, as his eyes took in the destruction, he knew his rage only made everything else stronger around him. He vomited hot lava from his body, shivering and weak inside, the rage was only making him feel worse.
Through it all the horse stood his ground. He never flinched, he didn’t try to run from the rivers of lava coming from the Powerless Stone. He calmly stood as the lava flowed around him and destroyed the small skeletons of former plant life on the ground around him.
As Robin watched the horse, he knew that the horse was beckoning him to do the same, to stand up, to be brave in the face of danger, to draw strength, not from rage but from… where?
There was a song lyric Robin remembered, from a song he always loved, but had almost forgotten about. Just look inside and find that spark that’s burning in you, follow it through and it can change your life*
Robin remembered, he remembered the song and he remembered where his power really came from. Power came from the self, from his own inner source, not from anger or rage, not from anywhere else. Picking himself up from the ground he stepped out from the tree and looked at the turbulent sky above:
I’ve got my dreams*
I know you think that’s crazy
But I won’t give up
Cause I’ve got this burning desire in me
Oh baby its meee!
The two pterodactyls dived straight for him, screeching loud enough to make the ground tremble. Robin stood his ground firmly and kept singing.
While the world sleeps
I sit up all night thinking
And making my plans
Cause there’s something special ahead for me!
Something ahead for me!
The beasts swerved away at the last second, passing over Robin harmlessly. Robin rose into the air and continued singing as he flew toward the top of the great wall.
So don’t you tell me that I’m wasting my time, ruining my life
Or that the odds against me are a million to one, don’t be concerned
I’ll take the heat for all the chances I’m gonna take, mistakes that I’ll make
Just wait and see, your gonna hear from me!
Robin cleared the top of the wall with ease. The two pterodactyls kept circling and snapping near him, but they were unable to touch him. Below him, his previously lost sword lay in an open stone coffin. He continued his song as he landed upon the ground, walking to its resting-place.
So don’t wait for heroes,
Do it yourself, you’ve got the power
Winners are losers, who got up and gave it just one more try
One more tryy, One more tryy.
The pterodactyls landed on the edge of the coffin, trying to block Robin’s way. Robin refused to be phased by them. He reached directly between them and lifted the sword. It was heavy at first, but the grip was comfortable and Robin thrilled to the sense of real power that surged through him as he lifted it. The two pterodactyls squawked and took off for the sky.
If you’re waiting for that miracle train to call out your name
And if you think the rainbow always finds someone else, never yourself
Just look inside and find that spark that’s burning in you, follow it through
The light you find, well it could change your life
Robin took to the air again, with his sword out in front of him he flew straight at the wall punching through it, feeling a surge of joy as it shattered before him. Bits of stone rained down everywhere, and the once impassible monolith now stood with a twenty-foot gaping hole in its center. Robin landed in front of the Powerless Stone, which had gone remarkably quiet and dark.
So don’t wait for heroes
Think for yourself, make your own choices
You know it’s easy to follow the crowd, but my advice is
Don’t wait for heroes believe in yourself, you’ve got the power
Winners are losers who got up and gave it just one more try
Robin swung the sword around in a high arc, driving it deeply between the R and the L, sparks flew where he struck and the great rock cracked. The whole right side fell away, leaving only the word POWER visible. The letters began to glow on their own, and the rest of the rock began crack and fall away.
Underneath, a great crystal was revealed, it shined with a radiance that began restoring life to the land around it. The skies cleared and the sun came out, trees and plants covered the land with an amazing speed. The wall, with its gaping hole where Robin had punched through, simply faded away. It wavered for a moment like a highway reflection and then just vanished as if it never was.
Robin’s horse trotted over and nuzzled him. He smiled at it fondly. “I hope I’ll see you again my friend.” He watched the world grow and develop around him, even as it began to fade as he woke up.
Robin blinked – the sun was just creeping over the horizon. He felt so good that he almost forgot his leg was still broken. He slid over to the computer and began typing what he remembered of the dream. When he finished he realized that Jamie was watching him from the stairs.
“Please tell me you’re not working on that program.”
“I’m not, really,” he said. “I just had the most incredible dream.”
“Oh, that’s good, I’m going to go back to bed.”
“Jamie wait, look I just wanted to apologize for last night. You were completely right in what you said, I just didn’t want to hear it.”
“Oh,” she paused “okay.” She went up the stairs again to get more sleep and Robin worked his way back over to the bed.
Robin laid down feeling a sense of peace and contentment for the first time in his life. He knew now that he could make the choices that were right for him. He could do these easily, without fear and without anger. He realized too that he still loved Jamie. In the past he had not been strong in setting his own boundaries, and Jamie was a very strong person. He reviewed so many areas of his life where he had never known a sense of power before, and wanted to laugh at the predicaments he had created for himself. He dozed finally, patiently waiting for the inevitable phone call from Stan.
It came at 7:30. Robin picked up the line cheerfully.
“Yeah, Robin I don’t know what you did last night, but the game is still screwing up. I really need you to make an appearance here today so we can keep things rolling.”
“Sorry Stanley, but I quit. Frankly, this job sucks.”
“WHAT! Are you fucking crazy?! You can’t quit now! We’re so close to making this work. If this is about money Robin, believe me I’m paying you as much as I can right now. As soon as the dough starts rolling in buddy, I promise you’re at the front of the line.”
“Sorry Stanley, I’m not interested.” Robin disconnected the phone and turned it off. The machine could take the next ninety calls.
Jamie came down the stairs rumpled and sleepy. “I guess you’re going into work today?”
“Nope,” said Robin. “I just quit.” No sooner did he finish speaking than the phone in the other room began to ring.
“Let the machine get it, it’s just Stan begging.”
“Wow! I must say I’m impressed. What brought this on?” She sat on the edge of the bed, wearing one of Robin’s T-shirts. There was something about that look that always drove Robin crazy.
“I released a lot of old baggage last night.” He said, as he straightened himself up to face her. “I realized a lot of things about myself, about my own sense of power last night that I never knew before.”
“You know, you were singing in your sleep.” Jamie grinned.
“Really? I remembered singing in the dream as well, it was how I reclaimed my power.”
“You’ve got to tell me about this dream.”
“I will, but I wanted to talk to you first, about us.”
A dark cloud passed briefly over her face, and Jamie turned away from him. “I swear to you Robin, I’m not trying to trick you into getting back together or anything. I really do want to help you with your leg, I still care about you a lot.”
“That’s not what I was going to say.” Robin said. “I care a lot about you too. In fact, I still love you very much. I know that I’ve changed now, and I see signs that you’ve been changing too. I was wondering if…”
“Yes!” She said, leaning over and kissing him. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
“I have been changing too.” Jamie said taking a more serious tone. “After our break up I had a lot of sessions with Della.”
“That’s my spiritual counselor. Anyway, she helped me realize a lot of stuff that I was doing. She told me I was unconsciously copying my mother, treating you more like a child than a partner.”
“So, you were the one who sent Della in to see me?”
“What? No way, Robin I swear to you I never did that!”
“Well someone did, she’s been visiting me since I broke my leg. She first came to me in the hospital.”
“I don’t think so. She’s not allowed in the hospital anymore. They said she was too “disruptive” because she was visiting all the patients.”
“She was here too. She kept giving me water to drink, energized like the Jello last night, only more so.”
“She does do that. She offers energized drinks to anyone who comes in. It’s part of the service she offers.”
“We’ve got to go over there later, I need to figure this out.” said Robin.
“Better yet, I’ll ask her to drop by. I have her home number.” said Jamie.
She turned on the phone and immediately heard Stan’s voice. “Sorry, nobody’s home,” she said and hung up on him.
“It’s not too early to call her, is it?” But Jamie had already dialed the number.
“Hi Della, its Jamie… I’m sorry to call you so early, but remember my boyfriend Robin we talked about? He broke his leg a few days ago and says you came by to visit him.”
Jamie held the phone away from her mouth, “She says that she gets that kind of thing all the time.”
“Uh, huh, okay here. She wants to talk to you.”
Robin picked up the receiver and put it to his ear. “Hello?”
“I hear we’re old friends.”
Robin recognized her voice immediately. “Yes. Didn’t you visit me at the hospital, and two times over here at the house.”
“Not physically dear. I’m not allowed to set foot in the hospital unless a blood relative is there. It seemed the doctors didn’t like my competition. Tell me, was there anyone else in the room when I came in?”
“No, now that you mention it. Still I could have sworn…”
“I have a question for you as well,” Della said. “Did you have a dream about volcanoes last night?”
“Um, perhaps we should meet later and discuss this all in person.” Robin said.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
Robin gave her his address, and hung up the phone.
“Life just keeps getting weirder and weirder.”
“See, I told you that you should go see her, I kept telling you, but do you listen to me, nooo, you have to be Mr. Stubborn and-”
Robin interrupted her by pulling her in for a kiss. “That oughta shut you up.” he said, imitating Nelson from the Simpsons.
“That’s not going to win you every argument you know.”
“It’s a good way to finish them though.”
*”Don’t Wait For Heroes” lyrics by Dennis DeYoung © 1984 Grand Illusion Songs. The song can be found on the Album Desert Moon by Dennis DeYoung, A&M Records
* * *
(c)2002, John J. McNally. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy or distribute without the author’s permission.