Sequel to The Journey, the white psychiatrist is aided in his haunting of the second-sighted Black female graduate student by a tv detective and a truck unloader from across the hall. The plot thickens!
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Is the drop-dead gorgeous psychiatrist in love or is some other far more nefarious plot afoot? The Journey pulls us in and leaves us wondering. Told she was schizophrenic at 19, it takes a trip to an unexpected homeland for the real truth to sink in: she is not crazy, but psychic. Raised by a degreed registered nurse and thus devoted to Western medicine, the hardest person to convince is herself, but by the end of Detective Fiction, the game between her self, her spiritual helpers, and the doppelganger who refuses to leave her alone becomes cold, calculating, and a clear risk to her survival.
I know--you told me, warned me not to rush this ending, ending this novel. But it is a fictional ending only Father, fiction nightdreaming.
Because if I am to stay sane, Father, if I am to keep my wits about me and not combust from the pain and anguish flung in my face, I have to end it here and now, with, on, New Jersey porches.
I imagine him walking up, all 6 feet one of him, still tall, still striking, still with that voice barely above a whisper. I only heard him bellow once, when he chortled that song. Lord, the boy cannot sing.
He mounts the porch carefully, assertively, yet as he raises his fist, curls his fingers to make a fist, his unringed hand, he does that thing with his feet--toe to porch behind the forward facing foot as he bites his lip. Wonderfully adolescent, but he shakes himself, rattles his fear cage and knocks a bit impatiently.
I open the door and greet him as Harper Lee’s heroine greets Boo Radley.
“Jim,” I whisper, though I am speaking clearly. He smiles, and I give that smile my mother was famous for: a smile all mixed up with a worried, unsure frown as though a cornucopia has been laid before her and she’s not sure why.
I am no longer afraid to pick from the platter and eat, but this is his meeting, he’s braved the 45-mile trek, I guess it is safe to speak to me in the distance of Jersey trees and grass and country living.
“Let’s walk,” he says, not quite question, more statement, not an order.
I smile, forgiving, welcoming, wishing I had flour dust on my hands from making pies.
“Let me just get the key,” I say, more like my own voice this time, and disappear inside for a moment. The keys are where they always are, I do not dash into the bathroom to check my look though I do paper towel my face and put on lip gloss.
I reappear at the door, pulling it closed behind me, shutting it gently and turning to him, letting him choose our direction.
“Do you like the pond?” he asks; “I think I saw a pond down there.”
He points southeast, down the road a spell. I have lived in the country barely a few weeks, but I already say “a spell.” My mother’s relaxed, convoluted Texas speech has finally surfaced and broken free. He will not be able to outrun me here, nor remain silent. I have neighbors with guns and dogs.
“It’s not a pond,” I say; “it is a grove of trees with a few benches. The birds--geese, ducks, what have you--like to gather there. We’ll probably get pooped on.”
His laugher is silent and I wish to smack him.
“We could go there if you like,” I say, stepping off the porch. “It’s not a fur piece.” And then I do something I had not anticipated: I reach out and grab his arm, country girl escorting friend to what he thought was the swimming hole.
I was not prepared for the warmth of his body. His temp must run two or three degrees above normal. “Temp” I think; my mother’s words again resurfacing. I am with a doctor after all.
He doesn’t start or shudder but the 6’1” part of those legs, I had forgotten how long they were, ceases to function. It is Barry Manilow looking down at his own stilts in hopeless frustration going “dance, why don’t you? Dance for God’s sake!” only he is trying to walk and be held, be guided at the same time.
I see his frustration and let go.
“That wasn’t so bad,” he says quietly, and smiles at me.
“It is not a fur piece,” I say and start walking. Not angrily, not fast.
“I’m sorry,” he says, really meaning it, meaning it for a whole lot of things.
I walk, slowly; he catches up quickly with the 6’1” portion of his legs.
“Sorry doesn’t cover, compensate, or explain so much silence.”
He frowns, sighs, looks away. I think about letting him stew, but I am still from California.
“So you’ve come all this way to say nothing to my face. Brilliant.” I stop being nice. I am just accompanying him now, no special favors.
The man has nerves of steel. We walk the rest of the mile and a half of road not speaking. I walk watching the birds, the wildlife, wanting to smack myself, him--am I going to let this bastard spoil my favorite grove of trees? The place I come to every morning, afternoon, evening with the dogs and we make a game of ferreting out the newnesses, the changes? Is he to come all this way to ruin my most special healing place, the place that helps me bury Philly nightmares of missing him?
I don’t notice we have arrived. He puts a hand on my shoulder to stop me, guides me to a bench with a hand at the small of my back.
I have dreamed of his hand placed just there. I look up at him before we sit and curse myself for being ready, willing to give him everything. I said he was the man I would love until I die and I am not mistaken. Two books for a man who’s never once touched me. Love of the spirit can sometimes be insanity.
We sit. He leans back, tweaks the back of my neck as he speaks and I want to curl into his arms and have him never stop talking. He looks down or into the center of the grove of trees and tells me about his mother, his father, when it started, how he was so little, the youngest, and didn’t know what to do. How to stop it, say no, whom to tell. No one seemed appropriate. I see him as a boy, carefully making a list in his head so as to leave no paper trail, sorting it, and not one name coming up “rescue.”
I didn’t waste time with a list. Boys are more methodical.
His fingers in the small hairs at the back of my neck and I want abandon, to lose myself in his caresses. I pay ramrod attention. This was what he never told me in ’97 ’98 ’99. This was what I knew lay behind his eyes, why I knew, deep within, he wanted someone, a real woman, to see into those brown pools and understand that he wanted caretaking, mothering. I wanted to snatch his hand away from my neck and place it on my breast, draw him to me, whisper “you’ve won; you’ve won,” but I had to listen, I had to hear it all, his history, his past, the why I’d always suspected.
He grew quiet, and for a moment the forest, my most special healing place, caught its breath.
“Do you want me to tell you the T part now?”
“No,” I said, not whispering, missing the days when we communicated sotto voce.
“Tell me instead about your powers; how you’ve managed to pursue and haunt me all of these years.”
He smiled, to himself mostly. Then he looked at me.
“That’s bedtime talk.” And in his eyes, thank God I could finally see it, recognize it; had I been so confused, so stunted, stilted, shut down I couldn’t see it eight years ago nine years ago ten--in his eyes that very twinkle I saw in neighbor Jim’s eyes as he looked at B across the room, but this was my Jim, my Jim P, eyes moist, wet, swimming, wanting me.
I won’t tell you about our kisses, I won’t tell you about the teeth tongue and breath. I won’t tell you about the country inn--they call them bed and breakfasts now--where we curled up in each other and he encouraged me to scream, to really let go and show him what his pleasuring felt like.
I answered, I responded, and there were no tears, there was no fury, but we each passed out a few times. Thank God they knew me in town and helped us out with a midnight run to Denny’s. He paid. I paid--considerate to my neighbors--by lowering the scream to a moan and eliciting a few from him. He is lucky to have a woman who loves the power of sucking cock.
I’m not moving from M’s just yet. I still owe her for rescuing me when his hands were tied. I haven’t let him tell me all of the T story yet, afraid my corrosive anger and fury will return. I did put 500 healthcare workers out of work with my wishes. Perhaps I am only marshalling my resources, gathering my fury to finally, once he is completely safe, pension paid in advance, annihilate all that is til nothing remains. Shut it down with my irreverent prayers.
But then I make that v I wished for at the small of his back, we both take a moment to discern if we are somewhere we can scream, and I think, without T we’d never have met. Or was it L K? L K’s recognition of the two loneliest people on Earth? I don’t know. L has yet to resurface. He and I, my J P, we have decisions to make: where to live, which of each other’s dreams do we commit to first. I realize a big one in his arms every night, in the way he accepts the bountiful way I give, and the smothering is gone because I know I’ve been claimed irrevocably. Tungsten steel could not separate us now.
We have decisions to make. I will take the company, M’s publishing gift, wherever we go. As for dreams, I plan to angle for screwing his brains out in our house in Shropshire and to be every Sunday in a boxed pew seated not far from my consistently traveling Uncle Martin. The christenings of our children in the part of the sanctuary finally given to the Jews, to honor those born cast out.
I am, not even from myself, no longer.