CAROLINA'S DREAM

CHAPTER 1

To dream is for most of us an other world experience. Carolina Pereira, the daughter of wealthy Brazilian real estate owners, had such experiences regularly. She had been dreaming of him for over a year since he, Vinicius Lourdes, died by her side in a train crash.  She was to meet him for a picnic the day it happened.  He had called the previous morning to confirm, she’d be there.

Now, you’re coming tomorrow right?

For God sakes Vinicius I’ll be there! How many times do I have to tell, I’ll be at the train station waiting for you tomorrow. Stop worrying about it.

Okay, okay I just have a feeling something’ll go wrong that’s all, Lina.

She shook her head, thinking he’s so tender and nervous and all the things she wanted to protect him from.

Yes, I’ll be there. You and your feelings..You had a feeling about this, you had a feeling that.  You made me go see that scary rezedeira (foreteller) Fafa da Livro, ‘cause you had a feeling she could tell our future, remember that?

Hey, that was a good thing, Lina, Fafa is my guide, I don’t care what you say about her.

Okay, I won’t argue with you, but she scared the –sh

Watch your mouth. Look I’ll see you tomorrow, let’s not talk about Fafa, I gotta go.

He hung up abruptly.  She was irritated by this, but knew him to be inflammable and emotional. Besides, her parents did practically own the island they were to visit.  Her father, Jorge Pereira had controlled the area for years.   Two hours later, they were on a sleek electric motor driven train, crossing a narrow bridge to Ilha de Contunduba, a small island just off the coastline of Rio de Janeiro city.  This island is uninhabited.  A perfect p[lace for them engage their sexual passions.  They were laughing and joking about what life would be like in America when they were married and having children of their own, when—BANG—it hit!

The Dream

Her head was dormant, her eyes revolving in their sockets in sleep, as she went back to him. She was walking through a verdant plain on the extreme end of her parent’s large estate. A place she had come to so many times before.  She came upon a valley, and looked up with large black eyes at the tall oak trees. There he is! He was waiting for her. He asked her to sit on a withered tree stump. Carolina felt a cold shiver go through her, but sat down anyway, feeling she shouldn’t.  She watched his odd gestures. He slid his hands slowly down his neck, as if choking, and squinted. He knew she didn't know she was only dreaming of him. 

Vinicius, where have you been?  I was looking for you on the other side of the property.

It was so long since they had had a picnic in those woods. Her dress was blue silk with sharp vertical black lines. The same one she had worn to their picnic years ago.  Vinicius wanted to prolong the time she had given him to live again.

I don't know, Lina. I don’t know how I got here.  Do you?

He could finally see her again. Those large black eyes, and that brown skin, she still had that dress on too.  Vinicius said,

Carolina, do you remember anything about this place? I mean other than our picnic?

 She looked up at the tall trees then down at the green grass of the valley, finally returning her eyes to him. She squinted trying to recall what he was referring to.

What do you mean? What else should I remember?

A cold shudder passed through him. It wouldn't be long before he'd have to go back to that grave.

Don’t’ you remember? You don’t remember we did it here.

 He pointed to the mound next to the tree stump. She looked where he pointed, then back at him, a sly grin crossed her face, remembering the experience.

Vini, yes how could I forget? Yes! We had sat here too! Damn I forgot that, I can’t believe I forgot that… I was just so glad to see you.

She took his hand, it seemed feverishly warm, and pressed it to her chest. He wanted to tell her about his realm of death, to speak of not living, of being nothing, of the feeling that pervaded him in death, but he couldn't. He couldn't mouth a word of his thoughts, and didn't know what prevented him.

Carolina stood up and walked over to one of the tall trees. She turned around, and stared at Vinicius.

But, I remember something else about this place...but I can't say what it is.

He followed her, and placed a warm hand on her right breast. She murmured, and said: ooo baby don’t do that, I’m so hot for it... Vinicius giggled feeling proud, while his own organ stiffened.  He continued probing her breasts, softly kneading each nipple.  She tightened her eyes and plunged a hand between her legs.  Stop, stop Vini, stop please you’re getting me hot.

What else don’tcha remember Carol?  He started to say: Do ya remember how I was…uh then that invisible force cut his voice off.

What Vini? What…He couldn’t speak, and his eyes stared at the tall palm tree before them.  He seemed to have gone expressionless, his mouth shut tight.

She thought: He’s afraid to say it.

He was too shy to say it. She took her hand away from her crotch and slipped slender arms around his waist, as they moved slowly to the valley's moist floor, the grasses gave back, a crisp, sharp muted sound.  They shed items of clothing on the way to the ground. Why was he staring at that tree, Carolina thought?  Finally, nude, lying side to side, looking up at the afternoon sky, both felt unusually fearful, as if something was going to happen beyond their control.  She wished he didn't have to see her like this. Why did he wait here? Vinicius shut his eyes, but immediately sensed something had changed, and opened them to glance at Carolina. She was gone.  He knew what that meant.  Not back there he said to himself.  Yet, the process was already underway.

He shut his eyes tight trying to fend off his return to his grave. But he was not going back there. He opened his eyes, hearing the roar of a subway train. Vinicius got up and stood looking around. He was at a place he knew well. The 4th street underground station? A vagrant came over to him, leaving his friends huddled in a corner. The bum smiled, showing his few remaining yellow teeth. He had a bottle of cheap wine in his hand. Vinicius smiled back, nervous, disoriented and scared.

You want some, we don't care, ain't no matter to us.  It’s good, Scoobanog.  

He giggled and started a raspy cough that seemed to bellow up from his chest.

He held out the cheap brew and looked around as if expecting someone. The bum smelled awful. He was unshaven, with soiled clothing reeking of urine, the foul breath was so pungent, and Vinicius flinched from the odor two feet away.  He had a face with bluish blemishes below his left eyes that ran down his left cheek.  They seemed swollen with pus.  He looked to be in his 60's. Who was this man? Yet, Vinicius did want to drink that wine.  Was it the shining bottle, dark-green, and the bum's dirty hands; shaking it to and fro before him, as if to mock him?

Yeah, okay pop, I'll take some.  I never refuse free drink old man.  Gimme some.

He snatched the bottle with an air of contempt, and drunk a long swig. It tasted like bitter oil. His face contorted after swallowing.

Damn that’s disgusting shit. Pop what is this? Who the hell are you anyway? What's your--?

My name?  You wanna know my name…. I’m Vinicius.

The bum grinned.

What? That's my name, you smart-ass! What are you tryna pull?  

The vagrant began to giggle covering his mouth with filthy hands stained with red discolorations of his yellowing skin.

You're laughing at me. You think you scare me? I’ll kick your fucking ass, you fucking living shit -stinking dog.

But for all his foul-mouthed threats, he knew he couldn’t harm this man, nor any one.  He knew he was a dead phantom in a dream.  The vagrant stopped his laughter.  He looked stern and reverent, like he was going to pray to some God.  He looked up at the ceiling of the subway, and bent down on his knees clasping his hands, while mumbling some gibberish words to himself. Vinicius could see, standing over him, his straight, thinning brown hair separated in strands at the top of his head.  He watched as an insect crawled over his scalp and disappeared below his right ear. Vinicius was repulsed.  He thought this guy doesn’t even know the vermin that infects his body and wanted to get as far as possible from him. He wanted to look away, but couldn't.  The bum looked up at Vinicius, his eyes tearing and smiling showing those awful, yellow teeth.

You think you're dead, don't you?

He continued without letting Vinicius answer.

Yeah, you're dead right? Dead. At least that’s what ya think, right?

The bum looked over to the others they stared at Vinicius, plaintive, imploring with peering eyes, as if to ask the same question.

I betcha don’t you know where she is? You wonder how you got to this subway station, huh? Hey come on, come on, give us kiss wouldya?

He coughed and turned around, then looked back Vinicius, showing blood spattered on his dirty gray coat.

Hey I got Tubercolo’ or  somethin’ like that, that’s what they tell me, hey I’m sorry…this is scaring you right?.

He laughed again, as Vinicius backed away.

You scum stay away from me wouldja….just, just, just… stay away from me…

Vinicius kept back-pedaling, horrified. He retreated to what he felt was safe a distance and stood there not knowing what to do or where to go.  He wanted Carolina back so bad now.  Where was she?  Why had she left him like this?

The bum began laughing again as he kept coming toward him. He suddenly stopped in mid-stride and began to urinate on himself.  A trickle of deep yellow urine made its way out of his pant leg, traveling over the stained concrete of the subway platform rolling like a miniature river toward the edge of the platform.  Vinicius watched the piss fall over the platform and onto the tracks reaching the electrical 3rd rail, the hiss of a stinking smoke rising from below.  The bum lowered his head in shame, while scratching his crotch.

You fucking animal, you filthy animal, get the fuck away from me!

Without moving from his position the man said:

You should go back to your grave and wait for her.

Vinicius had backed up to the edge of the platform by this time. He still had the bottle gripped tightly in his hands without realizing it. Somehow it seemed, the bum was a mere inches from him. He motioned for the bottle, and Vinicius gave it to him. He drank another swig, wiped his eyes and walked back to the others, whom also had become solemn and quiet.  As he handed over the bottle, a sense of vertigo took over. He realized his was on the edge of the platform and a sound was growing louder. What the hell was that! He asked himself.  He jumped back to a safe distance from the edge just in the knick of time.

The train's raging, powerful, engine-driven mass rent the air as it approached the station. From the middle of the platform, Vinicius looked into the dark tunnel. Wasn't that a picture of a black sea, and hadn't he once been sinking deeper into its depth? The large machine arrived at the station, decelerating and Carolina appeared, sitting at the window seat. Vinicius screamed in joy

LINAAAAAAAA!  His voice echoed throughout the underground hall.

He ran after the window coach he had seen her peering out of, and caught up, watching her expressionless face staring at him. As the train stopped she continued to stare, not surprised to see him. The doors opened and he rushed in. There she sat, hands clasped between her legs, a styro-foam cooler behind her calves on the floor. Vinicius noticed she wore the same black dress with blue stripes as in the meadow. Or was it a blue dress with black stripes? He couldn't remember, and didn't care. She was back, that's all that mattered.

Oh God! Oh God, oh Carolina, I mean, I mean…I mean I thought you’d never get here….Oh, baby just let me get my breath

An unsettling stillness gathered in the coach, as Vinicius talked.  Though he’d not noticed, they were the only passengers. He looked over her through the window and couldn’t see anybody on the platform.  He thought it odd that those vagrants had disappeared so quickly. Why was Carolina staring at him like that? She wore a half-malevolent gaze. Without warning, the train jerked forward throwing him backward away from Carolina, but she stayed stable looking at him intently. They began to move out of the station with a fierce, increasing velocity, and this made him nervous.

Can't they slow this thing down? I mean this is the mid-day train anyway, right?  I think it’s ahead of schedule too.  Can you make it slow down Lina?

Oh, honey, you're such a child. How can it hurt you now?  Vinicius. Oh Vinicius, little Vini.

Your breath is reeking of wine. Do you know that? Why don't you shave? You knew we were going to a picnic today.  And look at your clothes, they're filthy! You been hanging out with those subway vagrants again, haven’t you?

I didn’t even know those guys, and that one guy, whew, you shoulda seen’em. What makes you think I hang out with people like that, Lina.  I’m just so tired…and you left me in the meadow

I did not!  We haven’t even been there yet. What’s the matter with you Vini?

Vinicius didn’t feel up to arguing with her.  She could lie if she liked.  He relaxed his head on the plastic seat next to her and felt an icy numbness forming in his fingers and toes.  The grave was trying to get him back.

He ran his hand over his sweating face and brushed away moisture from his hair at the nape of his neck. He looked at the long columnar fluorescent light on the train coach ceiling, then ran back in memory the events that had happened.  The bum in the station with his name, how he got there, why she had left him in the meadow, he wanted to know, to understand. He looked around aimlessly. Outside, he could see they were no longer underground, but moving swiftly through a meadow, lined with trees. The tree branches cast intermittent shadows on their seats. He turned back to her, searching her face, anxious for a response. She was naked, her breasts bouncing with the train's locomotion.  It seemed to him, that Carolina was not real, more like an automaton under the control of someone, or something else. He looked at her, watching the landscape.  She was grinning and stared at the trees.  He carefully took his right hand and passed it over her eyes.  She didn’t respond.  He knew it! He knew it she was not dreaming of him, it was somebody else pulling this sly game on him.  His conclusion was shattered in the next second as Carolina said:

What are you doing Vini?  Why did you put your hand in front of me?

You saw it then.

Of course, I did, what’s the matter with you?

He was going to bring her out of the dream by telling her she was naked, then noticed she was now clad in a close-fitting swimsuit and a blue bra with black vertical lines. It was so taut, he could see the bulge of her flesh around blue lines of the bra and the black background of the material.  He had to try anyway.  He had to bring her out of this dream.  A dream he was sure was neither his or hers.  But, whose could it be?

Lina take a look at yourself.  You’re in a swim suit outfit, you weren’t when we started this trip…I mean when I got on train…

You’ve gotta be kiddin Vini, I changed in the stations and here is my trench coat see you like the blue and black lines in it.  Come on, stop worrying.

I see everything keeps changing in this dream to make me wrong.  I see.

I see you’re having another episode dear.  Stop worrying Vini. It’s gonna be alright.

 I’m cold, are you?  Vinicius looked ahead to see a dining car with patrons eating and drinking wine.  He looked back at Carolina and she was in her blue dress with black vertical lines again.  Who was doing this?
I’m gonna sleep for a while, you mind?

No, go on. Lina I gotta think about this and you should sleep too.

Carolina said:

We can eat Feijoada later, I think the train’s not gonna get to the island until 2 PM.

Yeah, okay I like that dish a lot you know.  I mean yeah, you go to sleep, I gotta think about this.

You and you’re thinking…Look we can go up the dining coach after my nap, okay?  She tapped his arm as she said that comment.

Sure, sure … Lina. Why was he indulging her?  Didn’t she know they were gonna crash? 

She pulled out a white sheet from the cooler and spread it around herself up to the neck, murmuring and nudging herself closer to him.  Another cold feeling came back to him. It was in his chest now, a chilling sensation that hurt his ribs too.  That aching on both sides of his rib cage, damn he wished it would stop.  Who the hell were those people?  He twisted in the seat next to her. 

You're cold Vini?

A little Lina, it’s a weird feeling like my bones are frozen, have you ever had that feeling?

No, I haven’t man. It’s the air on the sea. It’s the air.

Daddy wants to build a shopping mall on Ilha de Contunduba, did I tell you?  No, I didn’t, I forgot to tell you that. I know whatcha thinking, stop worrying, you worry all the time, you chump, you worry so much!  Nothing’s gonna happen.  I betcha think this train is gonna crash or something like that.  Come on go to sleep now, before we get there.

Something IS gonna happen Lina, it’s gonna like she said.

Who?   that fortuneteller of yours?

Yes, that fortuneteller of mine, Fafa. This time the pang hurt his right chest area, like a knife had been driven into his lung and he gasped.

This must be a dream. I mean nobody could take this kinda pain.  By the way, I wanted to tell you I’m really dead, and you’re just dreaming of m Lina.  Did you hear me Lina. Lina you hear me?

He looked over at her to find she was soundly asleep.

Was this her dream? How could this be a dream, when he was dead? Was he dead? Vinicius glanced at the front of the coach. It was the first coach; a window in the middle of it was filled with the evening sun. The train wheels raced over endless track.  Far beyond was the black night, a blackness that crossed the horizon. He guessed that was where they were going. He gave a glance back at Carolina to see the white sheet was covering her from head to toe. In his heart's freezing depth, he knew what that meant. No, oh no, please no, not her too. She can’t be dead too? He didn’t want to look under the sheet.  In fact he couldn’t do that. He wanted to close his eyes, but was afraid they would never open again.Then an oppressive weight descended on him and he closed his eyes for a mere few seconds.  That was enough, in those seconds much had happened.  He opened his eyes and Looking out of the front window of the coach, they were crossing a large body of water and dusk was settling upon the steamy trees below.  Carolina was awake and looking down at her hands as if they were new appendages she needed to study. They were traveling on a track built into the side of a tropical hill.  Still more amazing to him on both sides of the train there was a dense rain forest, that spread up and down the hill.  The train was slowing down as it approached a rickety old bridge.  So, the blackness in the distance before was the sea.  The sea was a murky depth of blackish, shining, green water, illuminated by the rising moon. In what seemed to be an instance it had become night. The train made a long slow curving turn, allowing him to glimpse a multitude of coaches behind them. A tandem of coaches, that leaned to the left as Vinicius watched, the coach began an angular tilt to the right. He fell back on to the window seat, his body tumbling into it.  He told himself this is not possible.  How had he got there? He was on the other side of her, at least as he remembered before closing his eyes. And then stranger yet, Carolina stayed upright looking at him, smiling triumphantly.  The train was on a 45º angle teetering between the black-green water and the rusty metal track.  Vinicius looked through the window to see people falling into the black water screaming.  Silent screams he couldn’t hear.  He looked back to see a cruel face looking down at him; Carolina’s face.

Ya know Vini, you ask too many questions baby.  Ya know that?

He felt the train was going to topple into the black water. He wanted to jump up, fly off, get out, yet at that moment his body was paralyzed, stuck like a corpse in a morgue drawer.  He remembered that was what he was when he had died.

He screamed at her:

Lina, Lina wouldja stop doing this!

We’re gonna fall in if it doesn’t stop! Can’t you see that Lina?

Oh, shut up! Vinicius. I'll tell that bum to straighten the train.

Driver, driver--hey you hear me, put this thing back on the track, you’re scaring him. I told you not to scare’em!

The train teetered on the edge of the rail almost falling into the black sea, but with a long screeching cry from the spinning wheels, it fell slowly back onto the track, coming to rest with a tremendous crash, throwing Vinicius into Carolina’s waiting arms.  She cackled and embraced him, kissing his cheeks and neck.

See, we’re at the pier at least we can go swimming now. I see you've got your trunks on. Ooo, I see it too, lemme touch it ooo Vini…ooo!

Vinicius looked down to find himself in swimming trunks and up and out the front window, to see a long, narrow pier, protruding into the dark waters. Carolina threw off the sheet and crossed over him, her coffee-brown posterior rubbing his knees. He felt his penis hardening.

Look Carol, .uh Lina, you know I can't swim, Carolina. Don’t walk away, I gotta tell you something too, about me. Me! It’s about me.  I mean I know this gonna sound strange…

Ignoring him, she tiptoed up to the front of the coach.

Don't worry, you're with me. You’re so silly sometimes.

He wanted to touch her body. She leaned into the coach window looking from side to side at the water. He watched her with increasing curiosity.  What was she up to this time?  She turned to the engineer's compartment and knocked. Vinicius heard a familiar voice say:

Yes?
Okay you can stop here, we're going for a swim

Then that guy--yes that bum came out of the compartment. Was that really the guy he had seen on the platform? He felt a thumping cold wave in his chest again. Looking at Carolina's soft long legs, his gaze passed up to her small ass, and chord of excitement went through him. Vinicius heard the bum say:

But, he can't swim.

You!  You.. you…oh you.. you…stay out of this, and you know what to do right?

Yes.

Then do it!

The bum opened the front sliding door, briefly looked back at Vinicius before he jumped into the dark water, and sank like a weighted rock, with a splash of dark greenish-black water spraying on Carolina's legs.

Oh, dam that man, that fool!

 She turned, faced Vinicius, and walked to back to where he sat.

Give me that towel!

She commanded with a cruel smile.  He looked to where she pointed; a clean blue towel with long, sharp, black lines traversing it lay next to his seat. He handed it to her feeling totally confused. He hadn't solved anything.  He felt another stab of cold hollowness in his chest.

Carolina, that guy was right, I CAN'T swim!

She finished drying her legs, looking at him with a licentious grin, ignoring his comment. He looked down at her groin, and could see the thick black hairs of her vagina through her bikini.  She flashed those beautiful dark eyes up to catch him looking at her crotch.

You've wanted this for so long...oh dear... yes you have. Come on lets go in the water.

She grabbed his left hand, and could feel it burning with fever.

Darling I can't, I can't...you know I can't swim.

She had pulled him to his feet.

That was when you were alive, Vinicius.

He ripped his hand away from her in horror.

You do know!

 She flung the towel across the room and ran to the side exit.

Of course, I do, I-I...

The doors opened and she ran out onto the narrow cast iron pier. He heard her shout

...Killed you!

Vinicius could not only see the blackness beyond the open doors, but he could smell the acrid odor of the sea and the chilly night air out there.  He stood leaning against the coach seat for a moment listening to her giggles trailing off, then followed slowly, step-by-step, his head tilted down, thinking why wasn't he afraid?  It had finally been said, what he had suspected since he awoke to see her coming toward him in that meadow.  She pressed on farther and farther, he heard her small feet, making soft skin-to-metal tat-tats on the pier. What was all of this about? As he reached open doors, feeling the warm night air, He thought: I don't even know how I died, but only that I have died. He knew it had been painful, like the aching cold in his chest, just now. Yes! It was like a huge lump of ice stuffed in his chest, growing and quivering.  Looking out at the long pier, Vinicius saw her blue bikini, so far away. She was shouting to him at the edge on a small round platform.

Come on, honey, my dear...you'll follow me, I know, come on, don't be afraid.

But, now he was afraid. The dark waters appeared to be miles deep and the sea was immense spreading in every direction. Vinicius wished he could call Carolina back to him, and get his arms around her delicate, warm, pleasing body, yet he knew it wouldn’t happen.  She shouted

Hurry up, hurry up, the train is going to leave any second.

And just then it did, with a lurch that forced Vinicius out onto the pier. He struggled to maintain his balance. The pier was only wide enough for his feet.

Carolina, please don't let me fall, I-I, I can't SWIM GODDAMNIT!

The pier started to crumble as the train sped off. Vinicius dropped to the metal structure clinging like a vine to the narrow beam. He looked behind, and saw the wrecked remains of the structure. She was laughing in the dis­tance and he could hear her clearly.

Come on, come, ON! Vinicius get up, and come out here, I can't wait any longer. Don't be afraid, honey.

 Her voice sounded mocking to him. There was a burning sweat pouring down his back. He had to try to reach her. Looking to where she was standing, he saw her jumping up and down, like an impatient child waiting to board a carnival ride.

I'm coming Carolina, I'll get there, just wait there, please, and I am scared! Don't leave me.

He rose, slowly, balancing himself with every move, while surveying the scene. The black water was shimmering with the moonlight, and smelled like raw sewerage. Patches of nauseating garbage were floating on both sides of the pier. He started a cautious tightrope walk. The awkward gait made him bend back and forth like a puppet on strings. Carolina was laughing all the while.

Somehow, he reached the circular ledge, where Carolina stood. The smell of oil was so pungent, he felt it hard to breathe. He looked down to see a shining steel platform and heard people screaming around him. In the next instance she wrapped her arms around him.

I knew you could, I knew it.

 She felt his penis; he ran cold hands run over her back.

I want it, Carolina, yes, I do, give it to me. Where are those sounds coming from?

She leaned back, and took his hands in hers.

Vinicius, Vini haven't you solved it yet? Let's jump! Come on! I need you now, you’ve gotta come with me! Don’t ask any more questions, just do what I do.

The river was swelling; a cold wind blew over them as they held close together. He didn't know what to do. The bloated bodies of dead people surfaced.

Why, why do I have to come with you? Who are these people, Lina? They’re dead. Oh God, look at that woman’s face.

He pointed with his right hand, as Carolina turned to see an eaten away face of a woman floating in blue jeans. Her orange blouse ripped open showing disfigured breasts.  Carolina looked back up at Vinicius holding her tight.  Her face was expressionless and impassive.

I mean…wait...do you hear that? It sounds like a helicopter, we’re gonna be rescued Lina. I hear a helicopter.  Do you hear that Lina, Lina listen to me, Lina you hear that?

He looked up at the night sky, but didn’t see anything, save rising smoke and the large orb of the moon off to his right.  She pulled him back to edge of platform.

Hey she looks like somebody we know, could that be anyway they’re our friends, now let's go.  I don’t hear anything Vini, you’re being silly again, there’s no helicopter, we gotta jump in.  It’s where we belong.

He hesitated.

No, not yet, we can stay here, okay? Look I’ll stop talking about Fafa and the occult, and you can have that that that what was that you wanted, yes that painting you saw in Bahia, you can have that. Look just stay here with me. You want me to, jump in that stinking fetid water! Are you crazy! I’m dead and I know better than that.  You’re not Lina, stay alive you don’t wanna be dead believe me.

It was no use.  Carolina pushed Vinicius away and backed away, poised on the end of the platform. He wanted to say: DON'T. His arms and chest felt weak like they were losing strength.  She continued to back away, calmly walking backwards off the platform and into the water, as he ran to catch her. Damn why did she have to go and do that? He had to jump, he had to catch her--he couldn’t let her go again. He stood at the edge of the platform leaning forward wanting to dive in, but a foaming white eruption from where she had fallen made him afraid.  A moment of indecision and hesitance had him locked up.  Now he felt hot and burning inside.  All that icy paralytic pain had vanished.  He decided to dive and was about to go in, when he changed his mind from fear, but his momentum was already carrying him, he struggled to abort but fell in nonetheless.

He imagined an endless depth of nether worldly liquid as his face splashed into the water, eyes shut tightly, he expected the dirty water to flood his nostrils and choke him. Instead, he was enclosed in a capsule, which buoyed him up through the dark water, until it surfaced, white foam subsiding around him. Vinicius felt the stern grip of the capsule around his chest. The smell of oil was thick in the air and he could see another eruption of white foam forming to his right. Carolina emerged from the subsiding foam. She was quite dead this time. She floated like a doll on the water's surface; half naked her eyes open with a lifeless stare trained on Vinicius. Aggrieved, he tried to touch her, his arms flailing in the greasy water to reach her.  He could feel the strain against the water's strong current, trying to get over to where she was. He managed to get the capsule moving slowly bit-by-bit, it bounced towards her body. He had to see if she was really dead. Carolina floated in the opposite direction toward the capsule as it moved toward her.  In the next few seconds he was near enough to see she was in fact dead. She floated just before him, her head twisted on a swollen neck with blood pouring for her ears, and those horrible eyes, wide open, staring at him. He grabbed her body and brought it close to him, crying, and babbling how much he loved her and should have stopped her from diving into stinking pool of death and garbage. But as he went on bawling she gradually began to feel like a weight much too heavy to hold. He wanted let her go, less he sink into the water with her, but he couldn't. Why can’t he just-just..ooo-just get her off of him.  Why couldn’t let her go. Then he realized she was gripping him; her hands had dug into his arms, making deep bleeding tracks. He was sinking into the water with her.

No! No! Dam it! Let me go, Lina, let me go, you're dead, let me go!  But, he was already dead, right?  It occurred to him that maybe he wasn’t dead, that in fact this could somehow be a dream he was having and not Carolina at all.

He looked at her again, her eyes were shut tight, and teeth clenched. His capsule was gone. The water was up to his chin. He screamed for help. Above he could hear the sound of a helicopter, hovering, and someone shouting to push her off. He tried to pry her grip loose, but she had dug her nails into his forearm like hooks. The blood was mixing with the oil-slick water to form a grotesque maroon cloud. Vinicius felt his head sinking into the night water. His nostrils filled with an oily liquid that choked him.

Oh no, don't, Carolina, God don't. Lina let me live, Lina, let me live, I am alive I know now, I am, oh I gotta wake-up—He choked with more water filling his mouth slipping down his throat and he coughed as he swallowed the putrid water.  He punched her in the face drawing a gush of rich deep red blood from her nose and mouth. He could now hear the helicopter just a few feet above on the surface. He heard someone say from the helicopter:

Push her off, she's dead! It's an instinct reaction.

Vinicius looked up to see a rescue worker dropping a thick steel line with a large doughnut-shaped lifesaver attached. The rescue worker was waving his left hand to himself and his right arm outward in succession, indicating Vinicius should free himself from Carolina and grab the line. The line reached Vinicius and he looped his arm through it. As he was pulled up, Carolina still hung to him by his forearm, but just before he was hoisted into the craft, she let go falling back toward the black current. He watched her fall until she hit the water with a splash and began to sink, rapidly.

In the next second, Carolina awoke with her heart racing, panting, sweating, and her eyes red with tears.  Her bedroom in contrast, was quiet, except for the air conditioner's drone from across the room. She lifted herself and rested on her elbows for a few seconds. She knew what the dream was. Why? Why? Her blue nightgown with black stripes was damp with sweat. She remembered every detail of the dream. Wiping the tears from her eyes, slowly she sat up on the edge of the bed, leaned over resting her thin brown arms on her knees, staring at the white carpet. Alone in a large bedroom full of reminders of Vinicius, She felt tired, though she had gone to bed early the previous night. Yesterday was a Friday. It was always on Friday, he invaded her dreams to torture her with the thought of how she had let him die.

Carolina got up, went over to the three-piece mirror credenza, Vinicius had bought her a year before he died, and looked at herself. She was still beautiful, in spite of all the nightmare episodes. Her deep, dark eyes and jet-black curly hair, with a coffee-brown skin seemed to say at that moment: I am an attractive woman. She exhaled through her closed teeth, saying aloud: Lina what vain thoughts you’re having this morning!  She took off the sweat-laden nightgown, remembering how she had been clad in something similar in the dream. Nude before the mirror, Carolina probed her body for anything disfiguring. As she did, she relived the dream, and reminded herself that Vinicius was in fact: haunting her. Yes, she knew it had to be so. Like the time, she met that bum coming out of the subway station from work. What was it, he said? She turned around, looking at her buttocks. She remembered how Vinicius liked them so much. He said: lookin' for your boyfriend young lady, hey! he's right here!  He had pointed to his crotch and laughed showing ugly, yellow, broken teeth. Come on, have drink won'tcha!  That's where I got the idea from in the dream! Yes, of course, oh, Vinicius, dam you!  She straightened and decided it was time to shower and leave this episode alone. She shut off the air conditioner and started for the bathroom, when the phone rang.

She picked up the receiver not knowing whom to expect to hear at the other end.

Hello 

Hi, Lina, it's me, Marisa. I just thought about you, and, uh, oh well, I thought I'd call you to see how ya doin'. Haven't heard from you about our lunch, today You are going, right?

There was a silence as Carolina realized who was on the other end. Marisa broke the silence with a comment that made Carolina think of the event and day of its occurrence.

You still having nightmares, dear? Yes, yes, yes... I am Marisa.  You wanna tell about this one

She looked at the blinds next to the phone and said:

No, uh look I've got to take a shower now, can I call you back?

Marisa put her left hand to her cheek and sighed.

Sure, sure... I guess you don't wanna have lunch today? Remember, we planned this last week! I know, I know, but I just can't today, okay?

Marisa knew the guilt Carolina still had about the incident. This was her code name for the accident that took Vinicius's life. 

Okay, I understand, I'll talk to you later, Okay? But, I just wanna say before you hang-up, you didn't make that incident happen, Lina! You aren't responsible for what happened. You hear?

Carolina shut her eyes and whispered

Yes, I know, I know, now I've got to go, bye.

She put down the phone and sat on a light blue easy chair, next to the credenza, over­come with an unusual lassitude. She pondered for a minute more, then got up, but decided to lie back on the bed. She turned her head to the night lamp, remembered she had asked Vinicius to buy it so she could read the books he always gave her. Carolina closed her eyes; all those riveting stories. Maupassant, Gogol, hey don't forget Dostoevsky. I never could pronounce his name.  Great European writers of the last century, whom she had come to adore. This progression of fond memories suddenly overwhelmed her with grief at his lost. She began to sob. I gotta take a shower! I've gotta forget about him!

As she turned on the water in the bathroom shower, Carolina recalled the events that led to Vinicius's death. She had done this countless times before, but now, after that horrid nightmare, it made the dream more sensible, and thus more frightening to her. She took off her gown and slipped under the warm water with a fresh, clean, washcloth in hand. Was he really invading her dreams from-from...there? Oh God, what a crazy thought! And a scary one too! She shuddered under the jetting water with fear. She almost expected his voice to boom out of nowhere. Carolina! Carolina why did you let me die? Rubbing the soap into the cloth, her hands were shaking. She chided herself for being such a childish, timid, faint-hearted, cowardly, foolish little bitch! Yet, even this mental derision didn't allay her irrational dread. Dread that somehow, Vinicius was still with her, and he wanted revenge for her causing his death. She spread the suds of soap from the washcloth over her face and dipped her head, face uplifted, into the water. Would he in the next moment rip back the shower curtain, looking as grotesque as he did two days later when the divers brought him out of the Amazon River? She wanted to stop this morbid train of thought, but the memories of the events were playing upon her imagination. Oh, Dam! Just stop it! Now! Please! She remembered that in her dream, he had screamed for her not to leave him on the pier. Could they be related? Was he implanting these ideas in her mind? And why was he dreaming in her dream? Or was he? He was having doubts about it being her dream, she remembered. How on earth could that even be! Carolina quickly stroked the cloth around her breast and then abdomen. Yes, everything was happening to him in the dream, not her, well, at least, not until the end. She was becoming more and more afraid as she ruminated over this nightmare. Everything was totally counter to the way, a dream, any dream, nightmare or not, should occur. She washed now in a near frenzy, working up large frothy amounts of soap and scrubbing every part of her body. In doing this, she was again reminded of another aspect of the dream: the foaming white heads that the dark water made when she arose from the depths. She remembered she was-was...DEAD! This was too much for her. She turned back and forth swiftly under streaming water, washing off all of the soap. She shut off the shower, determined to get out of the apartment and go to see Marisa. She stood in the tub for sometime, dripping wet, feeling the warm humid air, the shower water had created. I've got to calm down. This is ridiculous. Marisa is right, I didn't kill him! Saying these words aloud, she knew it was because she was afraid to draw back the shower curtain. Carolina hesitated a few seconds more, and then shut her eyes and ripped back the curtain. The door, which had not fully engaged the latch, shut with a soft 'thunk'. She jumped back banging her head against the ceramic tile of the shower wall, almost tripping, but managed to regain her balance. Her eyes were widened in terror, and her mouth was hung open with lips quivering. She ran her fingers down her neck. Could he really be out there! She became aware of a dull pain on the right side of her head, and felt an ice cold sweat forming on her back.  VINICIUS? DON'T KILL ME, PLEASEEEEE­EEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! She screamed with all her might. She stared at the doorknob, expecting it to turn any second. It was like those suspense horror movies, she had seen on videos.

So, Carolina stood there in the shower for a perhaps a minute listening to every sound she could detect and looking about the bathroom for a weapon of any kind.

The power of fear is what drove Carolina in these minutes. She had lead herself into this trap with those macabre concatenations about her night­mare. If she been in a more rational frame of mind, it would not have been hard to figure out why the door had shut. The difference in the pressure of the warm air in the tub and the cooler air outside it had given rise to a draft and thus closed the door. Most people have at one time experienced this phenomenon. Indeed, it does momentarily startle a person, but one usually realizes what has happened in seconds. Carolina, though, standing in the tub, trembling, aghast with dread of her dead lover's vengeance could not possibly entertain such reasoning. She stepped out of the tub, heart racing, and eyes still trans­fixed on the doorknob, when her phone rang. She recoiled at the sound, and then lurched forward to grab a bath towel from the holder under a small shelf. The phone rang again. This commonplace event had the effect of relieving Carolina. She felt that now, someone else was with her. She dried herself quickly and wrapped the towel around her breasts.  After the third ring, her answering machine would come on. If he were out there why not answer the phone. Little by little, she was regaining her faculties, but still she had a sensation of being in danger. The phone completed the third ring and her announcement took over. She listened at the bathroom door, hoping it was Marisa. It was, after the beep, Carolina heard Marisa's soft, quiet voice, begin to explain that she had forgot to return a book, she had borrowed from her. Carolina swung open the door, peered out into the hall that lead to her bedroom and saw nothing unusual. She hurried into the bedroom expecting see to him, dripping that foul-smelling oily water, his left eye eaten out by the carnivorous fish from the Amazon's depths. Yet, her room was just as she left it. She heard Marisa say,

I hope you're not angry with me, uh, well. Carolina snatched up the receiver Marisa! Marisa oh thank God, it's you.

She was panting without realizing it. 

Oh! you are there, what's wrong, Carolina? You sound out of breath. You okay? I'm fine, fine, look honey, I think I'll meet you for lunch after all, no, no, uh, uh, on second thought, uh, look, I'm to going come over to your place right now, alright?

 Marisa was sure from the tone of Carolina's voice, She had had the dream again. She smiled and asked:

Carolina, what's the matter, you sound scared. have you been attacked, or what?

Carolina felt her irrational fear coming back as Marisa questioned her.

It's nothing, Marisa, nothing, no it's is something, but I can't explain it now, just let me come over there, now, please?

Well, yes, yes, of course, I'll wait for you outside if it's that bad, but please, Carolina don't scare me like this, just tell me what happened.

Carolina flung off the towel, cradling the phone between her shoulder and ear, and ran over to her dresser bureau to find her under things.

I can't not now, please, Marisa, please, I'm going leave in five minutes, and you don't have to wait outside, I'm probably being a complete idiot, but I just can't stay in this place anymore, I gotta go, okay, bye!

She hung-up the phone, feeling something familiar had occurred. What was it? As she slipped her brown thighs into her panties, she struck upon it. The towel she flung across the room, she had done this in the dream, too! Was she really working herself into a neurotic frenzy?

Marisa sat back in the love seat and sipped a beer. She had everything prepared and her plan had worked. She smiled, feeling exalted.

Marisa was the daughter of a Spanish father and a Moroccan mother, who immigrated to Boston during the Spanish civil war in the late 1930's.  They were young lovers in their 20’s when they came to this new country, whose name they could barely pronounce.  It was 1942, when Emilio Tomaz and Fatima Wahid had arrived at Ellis Island, subsequently transited to Boston.  They tried for 20 more years to have a child without success.  That is until 1963, when Marisa Tomaz had been born.  They had wanted their little girl to be assimilated into the American culture. They were soon to find this was not possible. Her father, Emilio had gone to great lengths to ensure this. He forbade her to speak Spanish at school and encouraged her to even forget her native tongue. He ignored the racism of the times and seemed aloof to her concerns. She closed her eyes tight remembering one particularly painful experience.

Papi, they say at school I'm a brown spic

Emilio knew this time would come but had ignored it. Marisa, don't listen to dat kinda talk. Ju are bootiful, dose boys are jus' jealous. Marisa told her father that the white kids at her all-white school hated her. They did terrible things to her. They would spit at her when she went to the cloakroom and throw her coat on the floor and stomp on it. Emilio still refused to accept his daughter’s protestations. Then she told him what she had most wanted to keep secret.

Papi, there is uh, this white boy, uh, uh, well he...

Her father interrupted, feeling nervous. He wat, ju liisen me, Marisa! Her father always said you listen to me  when he meant I am listening to you.

She lowered her eyes to his dirty construction workers' shoes.

He made me take down my panties and show 'it' to him, and and then, and he put his finger...

Marisa starting crying. Her mother, Fatima, rushed in from the kitchen and grabbed her daughter covering her mouth. Her parents argued. She felt ashamed. Of what? she asked herself. She dried her eyes and looked at them. Her father said in broken English,

I don't want for ju no more to go dis school.

Two years before this horrible dream, Carolina had been on a romantic excursion of Brazil with her fiancé, Vinicius. They traveled the country from the north to south, and visited her parent's native city, Rio de Janeiro. They left the mainland via a train ride from the mouth of the Amazon River to the island of Ilha de Contunduba. It was on this train ride across a narrow and decaying bridge, that an accident of tragic proportions had taken place. An accident, which in no way could have been blamed upon Carolina, nevertheless, in its aftermath, she harbored an inextricable sentiment of guilt. Her lover, Vinicius had died when a four-engine propeller plane smashed into the side of the train. She had watched him helplessly slide from her side, as the coach compartment was torn open from the impact. Driving down Colonial Avenue, Carolina, cigarette in her mouth, began to recall that day once again.

She stopped at the red light on the corner of Colonial Avenue and 2nd avenue. He had fallen into the water so quickly, she didn't have time to be terrified by the plane's impact. She remembered how the whole train tilted over to the right, and the sidewall was ripping off with that ear-splitting sounding. Just a minute before they were talking about their picnic on the island. She grabbed the seat and looked down: a wave of black oily water, just a few feet beneath her, and Vinicius flopping around in it, calling her name. She looked head and the plane, mangled, in pieces had hit the coach just before theirs. She was hanging on to the seat, which was partially torn from its bolts, with all her might. Oil was pouring from some place, she couldn't tell and the sea around was becoming black as night. She heard Vinicius scream

Carolina, please, please help ME!

All she could say was

Vinicius, I'm coming, hang on.

There was so much noise people were screaming everywhere. A horn blew in back of her, she jumped, startled from her recollection. The light had turned green. She pulled off quickly, heading for 22nd place and Low Valley, where Marisa lived.

Pulling into Marisa's driveway, she remembered Vinicius saying,

I can't swim!

His hands wiping the oily water off his neck, and her looking down, holding onto the passenger seat so tightly, her fingernails were embedded in the cushion's fabric.

The car parked in behind Marisa's maroon Toyota Corolla, she sat at the wheel for some time, continuing to remembering the horror of the event. Was he there? Why did she feel he was somewhere, out there, some place, and maybe right behind? She jerked her head back towards the rear compartment: nothing. Carolina noticed she was sweating around the neck and wiped the perspiration off with a scarf from her purse, then stuffed it back in, and reached forward to pull out her keys from the ignition, when a tap on her window, nearly made her faint. It was Marisa. Carolina could hear Marisa apologizing over and over for startling her, but it didn't seem to help. She dropped her purse and put her trembling hands to her face whispering: Oh, Vinicius, Oh Vinicius, why? She heard Marisa say

Open the door, Lina, I'm not going to hurt you, please come on, get out, I'm here, you've nothing to fear now.

She unlocked the door with a sigh and emerged to Marisa's waiting arms. The women embraced; Marisa whispered to Carolina that they should go inside. Carolina said she had some of her things in the back seat and she wanted stay over that evening.

Fine, yes, oh honey you've gotta tell me the whole story this time, okay?

Carolina agreed and after Marisa had gotten her overnight bag, they walked side by side into her small bungalow. At the steps leading to the foyer, Carolina stopped and looking around at the other homes.

Something wrong, Lina? No, no I was just thinking how peaceful it seems on this side of town.

Marisa took her hand and squeezed it. I know it sounds cliché, but don't worry, Lina.

She inserted the key and opened the door to a well-decorated living room.

Vinicius in Death

In the coldest depths of his grave, Vinicius still had endless thought. There was no body, or sensation of any kind in the blackness of that rotting grave. In fact, he had often wondered if his body still existed in the coffin below the earthly surface. That was when he was first interred though, he had long since stopped considering such questions, now. Dam!, the noxious, icy, cold was completely around him again. He knew she had dreamed of him once more. It was always the same, he would be returned here after the dream, never to have even touched her. Was this damnation or freedom? He ruminated upon thousands of ideas, feelings, conceptions, but never, in this state, could he do anything. It seemed an eternal torture. For instance, in the first year of his death, when he had realized that in fact there is a sort of life-after-death, he thought of all the philosophic theories which were stilling raging above about this very idea and wanted to laugh, knowing, he now knew the truth. But, he couldn't laugh, for that was a physical experience, he no longer had a physical existence. It anguished him, which was a mental experience, that he could know, but not experience. Vinicius soon learned there were other experiences which were also closed to him. The desire to scream out, to talk, to touch, to come, to see, to hear, on, and on, and on, all of the physical perceptions of a living person were vanished from his disembod­ied, purely mental existence. Yet, there was one seemly physical experience which was not barred to him. Pain. Pain from a frozen coldness. At first, this confused him as much as hurt him. He remembered in his living days how a headache was a particular pain centered in his head, but not like this, this was a pain which constantly shadowed his every thought.

Time, it too had been lost to Vinicius. How could he know time without motion to judge it? Nothing changed in his subterranean world. He had no idea how long he'd been dead.

The first time it happened, Vinicius was thinking of her. A burst of sounds came to him. He heard voices, VOICES, he couldn't believe or even phantom it. Then, a rising heat filled his thinking, next he was sitting in a cold meadow. Alive! He knew it instantly. He could see, feel, touch, and smell. His heart was beating again! But, strangely, he couldn't speak as he wanted and no one was around.

That was when Carolina had first torn him from the small cemetery on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Her dream was confused and frightening to Vinicius. She was telling him of going on a picnic, and a huge plane struck the walls of her apartment smashing into the living room window, and next he was enveloped in oil, sinking. He never understood why this happened. Vinicius could never remember where or how he had died while living inside Carolina's dreams. Also, he could never tell her how it felt to be dead. She was always just ahead of him, untouchable, fleeting, beyond grasp. This experience pained him dearly, especially when she awoke, and he was instantly returned to his grave. On succeeding occasions, the dream would be some­what different, but always two occurrences transpired: he could not reach her in the end, and she perished before she awoke.

When she awoke, he would awake to find himself casted in a cold so intense it hurt to think. It was then that he decided to let the drone fill his mind and cease any attempt at thought. The drone was a steady pulsating, which though it wasn't a sound, as we the living know it to be, it was a sensation to Vinicius. A continual vibrating of his mind, which would in time drive away the cold stillness. This was a gradual process, though he didn't know how long, he did know, that after the drone, he could reflect again without the pain of the cold. He would then remember the last dream and beg the nothingness around him to go out into the living world. If only he could see again! Why did she bring him forth to plunge him back here? What was this all about? Were there others like him? Was this heaven or hell? His mind would go on in that endless mental expanse pondering all that had gone before and all that was occurring now for many days. It always seemed so futile, for he had no map to follow. The experience of living in a dream and returning to death became quite regular to Vinicius. He began to reason it out and make sense of these encounters. Through Carolina's frequent nocturnal communications he put together a picture of what her life must be 'out there'. She was guilt-ridden, afraid of him, because she believed she had killed him. He felt pity for her, almost as great as the sympathy he had lauded upon himself for being dead. Yet, not knowing the truth of his death was a larger concern.

Once, she summoned him into a dream. She had climbed to the top of a large building looking for her sandals. She had told him to follow her, and he though, not understanding why, had obeyed. At the top, she tried to kick him off as he crawled up the last window ledge. He remembered screaming:

Carolina, NO!

Horrified as she was kicking at him vigorously, as he fell off the building and plummeted to the ground below, his head went ice-cold. In the next moment there was the familiar stillness of his grave.

Though, he missed all the aspects of being a sentient living being, he had actually begun to like some elements of death. One idea struck him as particularly profound: being dead has a correspondence with being alive. In neither state does the person know how he came to be in it! As well, nor did there seem to be any reason for being it either state. Though, death seemed quite lonely as it was so predicted in life, was not living, locked in a conscious self, a form of being alone? The more Vinicius reflected on his disembodied existence, there seemed to be parallels with the state of living. Extending this mental discourse, he became convinced that in a sense he wasn't dead. Hadn't the early Christian theologians advocated this? Wasn't the real meaning of the Afterlife what he was experiencing? Yes, of course! Why, he could even be in a higher state of existence? Was this Purgatory? He would muse over these curious ideas for long periods of time with consuming satisfaction. But, the thought of Carolina would return, and his clear-sighted conclusions would be muddled. Why was she bringing him to life in her dreams?

The memories of Carolina became unbearably regular for Vinicius. His favorite recollection was of the evening they'd camped out in the countryside outside Nashville, Tennessee.

It was evening and they'd made a tent, but decided to sleep together in a large bag under the night sky. He remembered that night spent under a huge oak tree with gnarled, crooked limbs, like the muscles of some strange creature, almost human. The crickets chirping and the warm, breezy, air, flowing as Carolina sat on a large rock next to the tent, looking at him. He smiled and mentioned how idyllic the surroundings were. She agreed and soon, they were ensconced in the large sleeping bag, making love. He remembered the deep black night that enveloped them. He could hear the bats flying out of their nest in the abandoned barn across that little hill dotted with pine trees.  He recalled the night being so black he couldn't even see his own hand outstretched before him. He tried to remember what black looked like, but couldn't, for by then he'd lost all perceptual recollections, save the ability to think of these experiences.  Carolina's hair felt like straw as he touched it, that night, no doubt from all the hair spray she'd applied. Somewhere in the distance, an animal howled and she, afraid clung close to Vinicius. She became more alarmed, when small rodent-like creatures began to rustle and squeal in the bushes, just a few 100 yards away. He mused over how she begged him to take her back to the tent, digging her long nails into his arms. She pleaded with him, reminding him of her phobia concerning rodents. He had finally given in and carried Carolina, frightened and shivering, through the cool night into the tent, his flashlight leading the way there. Vinicius began to see a connection between these events and that strange dream of hers.  He still thought something was wrong with the dream though.

Marisa and Carolina

Carolina sat on a huge white sofa in the living room as Marisa made expresso coffee. She was remembering how much mice and rats had terrified her as a child.

Lina?

Carolina looked up to find, Marisa standing before her with a small silver tray, with two cups of espresso. She had been staring at the wicket chair across the living room so intently she hadn't noticed Marisa's arrival.

Oh, I'm sorry, Marisa, I was thinking, thinking of, of, uh, uh..I don't... know

Her voiced had become quiet. Marisa set the tray on the coffee table before the sofa and sat down next to Carolina. She looked at Carolina's scared, confused face and saw her chance.

Come on now, have some of this.

Marisa handed a cup to Carolina. She took it, smiled at Marisa, who had taken her cup and they both drank their respective cups in one swallow. Afterwards, they looked at one another and laughed.

I guess, it's foolish, Marisa.

No, what do you mean, it's not! That you were afraid he was there with you? That is quite understandable dear.

Marisa leaned down fetched a pack of Salem cigarettes and lit one. Carolina had always admired and yet feared Marisa. She told her in years past, that she didn't believe the rumors going around the Brazilian community of her being a witch with occult powers. But, now, now, she didn't know what to believe. Hadn't she escaped those silly ideas when her parents moved to Boston? Besides, Marisa was a 2nd generation Spaniard and didn’t even speak Portuguese very well, just enough to get by in the community. How, could she be what they said she was? How could she sense so much?  Her elongated thin face with that black braid of hair slung over her right shoulder, she looked like an angel to Carolina. Why did she keep eyeing her like that?

Lina, you won't have to worry about Vinicius haunting you anymore, I'm sure. Tonight, I want to solve this trouble for you, but you've got to let me.

She took a long puff on the cigarette, still staring at Carolina.

You see, he's not haunting you but you are haunting him.

Carolina frowned in confusion.

What?

Yes, I saw it so clearly this evening. When you dream of him, he returns to life, in your dream. Haven't you told me before that whenever dream of him he's alone somewhere and he's always in torment?

Yes, but Marisa, he's dead, whether, I dream of him or not, he's dead!

Marisa smiled and puffed on the cigarette.

Only when you're not dreaming of him is he dead, and even then, he's not dead like most people think of death. He is waiting to be reborn in the next world.

These comments seemed to confirm what Carolina had heard about Marisa. They also distressed her. Could she really be an occultist? Carolina leaned back on the sofa and decided to ask.

Are you a witch, Marisa? I know it sounds crazy, but you must admit many people we both know have said this.

Marisa's eyes lowered and then flashed open and locked upon Carolina's.

I've never thought of myself as being a witch, Lina.

Marisa was smiling, and staring at Carolina, while shaking the ashes from her cigarette. It was not what Marisa had said that sent a cord of terror through Carolina, but something else. Yes, her voice, it sounded so much like, like what? Marisa crushed out the cigarette in the ashtray on the coffee and leaned close to Carolina's face, her eyes narrowing inquisitively.

Do you believe I am?

Yes, yes, that was it!  Marisa voice was her very own!  She sounded just like her.

Then, Carolina felt something grip her senses. Her head became weighted with such a fatigue, and her eyelids fluttered involuntarily. She could hear Marisa's voice, her voice, so distant and soft, saying:

I can help, let me help, let me help...I want us to be together...I can help Lina...go to sleep now.

 Oh God, she had drugged her! As the drug grew stronger, Carolina lost her eyesight, though she knew her eyes were open, a black sheet had come over them. Her body became stiff and in seconds unmovable. She could feel Marisa undressing her and wanted to tell her to stop, but she only said:

Marisa, Marisa, why, why?

When Marisa had removed all of her clothes, Carolina felt small soft arms pick her up and carry her to Marisa's bedroom, and lay her down on the king-size bed. Could Marisa do this? She wanted to see, to see, to see what was happening. Her head felt so hazy. She fell into a slumber.

 It was the same dream. Vinicius was standing before her, in dirty clothes, but smiling.

Vini, oh thank God you’re here again, I thought, I thought... I don't know anymore.

 Why is it always like this?

 Vinicius stood there a few feet away from her, saying nothing, smiling and staring.

Marisa knew she had little time, and quickly undressed. She poured the cup on the nightstand with the mixture of poison and Paixao da Sonha. She heard Vinicius's voice in her head: hurry up she’s coming back!  Then, she used her powers of mimicry and said to Carolina in Vinicius's voice

Carolina drink this!

In her dream, Carolina saw Vinicius turned away for her and then turned back with a small cup of liquid.

What is this, Vinicius?

 He frowned and said

Carolina will you drink this?

She hesitated.

This is first time you spoken to me, since that, I mean that…. Her voice failed.

I know, I'm here, take this and drink it.

She took it, and looked at him. God, that impassive face, was he alive?

What is it?

Marisa had handed the cup to Carolina in her dream. She repeated in Vinicius's voice.

Drink it!

She took it, an drank a sip first then finished the entire cup. Marisa knew she had accomplished her goal with this sip. But, time was a factor, yes time, she had to drink the potion herself, and join them in that world of dreams. More than that, she had to be there as Vinicius killed Carolina, or everything would be lost.  Carolina moaned and Marisa knew the potion was working. She had just enough time to drink it herself and lay down beside this beautiful creature. She gazed at Carolina's breasts, wanting to touch them for the last time. She took the empty cup from Carolina's hand and poured another dose of the poison and drank it in one swallow thinking of how they had done this with the espresso. Marisa squeezed Carolina's nipples in her hands then whispered inaudibly to herself.

I love you, I love you, I hope it doesn't hurt…

After doing this, Marisa pulled the rubber-band from her jet-black hair and got out a razor-sharp knife inside the nightstand drawer. Marisa felt the thin edge of blade with her forefinger, and then pushed it into the blade. A small spurt of blood trickled from her finger.

I'm ready now, Vinicius, I'm ready.

When Carolina opened her eyes, she saw Vinicius was standing with Marisa at his side. Both of them were nude. She realized she was naked. But, confusion still reigned in her head.

Marisa, I thought you, you were...Vinicius, what are you doing with that knife?

Marisa took the knife in her hands and slid it over her the fingers of her left hand. Handing it to Vinicius, she said:

You have to kill Vinicius. I know you don’t wanna do it, but you’ve got to

He smiled, took the blade, and stabbed Carolina in the chest. In the bed they lay on, Marisa, had actually taken a knife and plunged it into her friend's chest. She jerked involuntarily, but didn't awake. Rich, red blood spurted from the wound. Marisa turned onto her back and dropped to the blood-soaked knife between their bodies. In her dream, Carolina saw them watching at her, as she began to evanesce, realizing it had been a trick. Yet, they seemed to be sorry for what they did together. She was lying on the moist floor of the valley she had dreamt of so many times before. Blood pouring from a real life wound Marisa had delivered. She put her right hand to her chest and touched the hole that lead to her heart. She inserted a finger to it, it hurt immensely, and she let out a quiet gasp. Looking up, she could see their grinning faces, and then witnessed a kiss between them. Vinicius was stroking Marisa's breasts as he had done so many times to her. She could she his erect penis with Marisa's right hand holding it. Marisa turned a tearful face to her and said:

I’m really sorry to take him from you Lina.  He loved you so much too.

As she died, she didn't feel any fear or hatred. Carolina had dreamt of dying so many, many times before this actual event, she had almost expected it to be. It was not like when she had been awake. Afraid, nervous, tense, guilty, no, now...well, now...she-she felt, what? Fulfilled! Now..., now, yes, now... they would have to figure out how to live again.

You've finally killed her, and I'm yours now.

He felt his hands were warm again, her tits felt so good to hands.  He could feel once more.  He understood why it all had happened, finally. It hadn’t been Carolina's dream but Marisa's. She had been working through Carolina.

Marisa, I see now, it's you.

Yeah Vini, I did it for you, I did it! I did it. It took a long time, but I did it for you. I'm not dead yet though. I’ll be with you soon, I swear honey, I swear, but there’s something I've got finish over there'

She smiled and kissed his tight-closed lips, then pulled down his lower lip and slipped her tongue into his mouth.  It tasted like bitter leaves to Marisa.  He couldn't resist the passion and slid inside her, moaning as his organ hardened in her wet hole, but for who he thought?  Carolina was still in his mind…she was..she was….she wasn’t to be treated like this?.

The Investigation

Detective O'Malley stared in dismay at the two brown, beautiful naked women on that bed. They were both dead. He put on clear plastic gloves as the police photographer took pictures. First, he picked up Marisa's arm, which to his surprise was not stiff, and thus, he knew she could not have died more than 24 hours ago. He turned to his assistant, who standing next to him had a clipboard full of facts the department had collected about the two women. Sergeant Clive, eyeing the corpses with an almost lewd expression, was caught off guard by O'Malley's quick turn towards him. 

What did you say this one on the left's name was?

Oh, uh let me see...it's here somewhere, oh yeah here it is. Carolina. Yeah, Carolina Cris-uh-to-uh-val. Yeah, that's it.

His obvious mispronunciation of her name made O'Malley chuckle.

Okay, and the other one?

The assistant flipped a few pages over and said:

Her, got her here,... uh Marisa de la Cruz.

He paused, looked up at O'Malley, proud he had delivered the Spanish surname with no stutter. O'Malley looked away in disgust, mentally cursing having this jerk as investigating partner. O'Malley's sentiments were all in the intensive concerning Clive: too young, too inexperienced and definitely too arrogant.

Now, gimme that story you told that jackass D.A., again.

He carefully turned Marisa's unmarked body over to her back. The photographer took another picture. Clive was acutely intimidated by O'Malley's manner and longed to be reassigned since coming to the Boston homicide unit, but had no choice considering his nascence on the force.

Well, sir, you heard everything I told D.A. Seitz, and, and I don't know what you want me to say?

O'Malley flashed a glanced at Clive and then back at the two separated nude bodies. Irritated with his assistant, he said:

I wantcha to tell me the goddamn story again! I wasn't listening the first time. You retarded or something Clive?

Outside he could hear the sounds of the forensics unit arriving and the van of the local Boston television station setting up for broadcast. Onlookers were standing around watching reporters, with their cameramen and sound engineers, preparing to do their journalistic spots.

O'Malley kept switching his gaze from the gaping, dry, caked-blood of the wound in Carolina's chest, to the knife between the two of them on the bed. He then reluctantly looked at Marisa's untouched, arousing body, and felt a wave of excitement that gave him a mild erection, in spite of the gravity of the situation. The one with long black hair, yeah, she seemed to a have been asleep when she was stabbed by the other one. He dare not touch the knife between them before forensics had a chance to exam it. Carolina's chest wound was open and covered with coagulated blood. He stood for a time, looking at Marisa's breasts. She seemed so alive. O'Malley waved the photographer out of the room, he had become too much of a distraction. Clive began:

Well, from what I've been able to piece together, since we got the call at four a.m., it appears this may be an occult murder-suicide, or murder and accidental suicide.

O'Malley looked at him with surprise. They were standing side by side at the foot of the queen-sized bed.

You see, the female with no visible wounds appears to have stabbed the other one, but she also from the position of cup, she appears to have taken in a quantity of poison. I've seen this potion before in Connecticut.

He pointed to the nearly empty cup, which Marisa had drunk the previous night before lying next to Carolina.

Which reminds me, a Portuguese-speaking officer from the New Haven department is coming down here today to help us out. He's originally from Brazil and has alotta experience with these sorts of things. You know, this is not first time this kinda thing has happened?

O'Malley was not a little surprised by his companion's knowledge, maybe this guy had a few things going upstairs.

Yeah? Well, go on, whadda you mean this isn't the first time?

Clive stared at O'Malley for a second then turned abruptly, walked over to the bedroom door and retrieved a leather satchel he had laid just outside the doorway. He came back,and pulled out what seemed to O'Malley small portfolio of materials.

I have here, Sir, a set of case histories on occult murders of this type. I took the time last night, when we got the call about this one, to consult our new link-up with national police crime database to prepare these materials.

He paused sure O'Malley would disregard it, insult him, and then suggest he assist the forensics unit with his stuff. O'Malley didn't.

I take it you're interested?

Of course, whatcha got there?

Oh, well, in 1979, on the lower east side of Manhattan three Brazilian women were killed by unknown assailants in what appeared to be a ritual murder.

He handed O'Malley the NYPD report with accompanying graphic pictures.

Wooo, this is rough shit, Clive! God, they cut off her breasts! Christ, look at this one, oh God, you know, no matter how much I do this job, pictures like this always get to me.

Clive was beginning to understand his superior's reality: He'd been through it all, he was in some way captured by the violence he policed.

Yes, well, in this case the victims had been drugged with a potion I'm sure it's in that very cup. The investigating detectives on that one found it had something to do with being in a dream state.

O’Malley lit a cigarette and nodded his head.

You see, a fourth woman survived the attack, and let me see, I have it somewhere, ah, yes, here it is.

He gave O'Malley a stapled detective report of four pages.

In Pedro Jorjao's report, he explained that in Bahia, Brazil there are pseudo-religious groups that practices a form of mind alternation. The repeated ingesting of this drug, which they call in Portuguese 'Sonjah duh Pieshao', or something like that, Sir. As you will see in the report, he had a chemical analysis done on the traces found in the bodies and samples from the survivor, and found it to be an interesting compound.

At that moment, in the corner O'Malley's eye, he could of swore he saw the woman that was unscarred twitch her fingers. He turned his grey head to toward her left hand and stared intently.

Detective O'Malley, what's up? 

O'Malley smiled, and glanced at the bedroom window.

No, no, just thinking, uh, so what was so interesting about this compound?

Before Clive could answer the question, a call came in on the cellular phone Detective O'Malley kept in his right suit coat pocket. He answered it, and listened for some moments.

Yeah, so this jur-jow guy is coming to the scene, okay. Fine. Can you get that Dr. Seitz of forensics on the phone for me?

Clive looked at O'Malley with puzzlement. Why do you want Dr.Sei—O’Malley interrupted Clive with a point to Marisa body, and whispered, I don't think she's gone.

Hi, Seitz, hi ya doin', listen, I want you to come back here and take a look at, what’s her name...

He motioned to Clive to find Marisa's name. Clive flipped back some pages on his clipboard, and showed the page with Marisa's name on it to O'Malley.

Marisa de la Cruz. Yeah, Marisa. Don't ask me why, just get your ass back here. I know what I'm talking about, hey you want me to call the D.A. and tell'em you're being uncooperative again. Okay. Alright. 20 minutes no more, bye!  

Marisa was alive. She had known that the potion would last for only 24 hours.

In the dream Vinicius was laying on the valley floor feeling the same cold weakness engulfing him. as she stood up. He asked

Marisa what's happening? I can't move. I know darling, I know, but like I told you, there is something I have to do in life. You see, I have to pay for this trip to you.

Vinicius was already feeling the effects of his return to the grave. His eyes froze in their sockets, and hands lost sensation. He tried to call out, but his voice was gone. Marisa grimaced and crossed herself. She wrapped Carolina's towel with black strips on a blue background around her naked body. She cursed that dam detective O'Malley for interfering and vowed to the Rezedeira, Fafa da Livro to destroy him. She remembered Fafa's instructions not to touch any of the dead, when departing and stepped back from Vinicius's now lifeless body. In doing so, she bumped her right ankle against Carolina's left shoulder. Carolina instantly came to life and gripped her by that ankle. Dam you, bitch, dam you bitch, let me go! Carolina, turned over from her back and attempted to bite her foot, but Marisa knowing this would spell death without the possibility of return, kicked the same foot into Carolina's face. It dazed her, and she let go of her ankle.

The Reawakening

He had a feeling that whatever this Marisa had taken was wearing off, and she might just be faking lifelessness long enough get somewhere to escape.

Detective O'Malley, you know from what I heard about this brew, it always kills its victims, and if she drank a cup full of that stuff, well, I'm sure you see my point.

O'Malley didn't react to Clive's disbelief, but kept looking out of the window in Marisa's bedroom hoping to see the Fire department blue and white ambulance pull up in the driveway. Marisa felt herself coming out of the trance. She moved her right arm first slowly, then more carefully. O'Malley was watching.

There, you stupid, fucking idiot, she moved!

Clive was looking at his clipboard, and hadn't noticed anything.

What?

O'Malley pointed to Marisa's stirring arm.

It's just reflex. I mean it's gotta be. Look, she’s dead the doctors have said so, she’s dead, okay Sir.

She not, and fuck the doctors, and I'm gonna revive this woman she'll explain this thing.

O'Malley took Marisa's hand, and whispered in her ear:

You're alive honey and I know, tell me what happen here, okay?

O’Malley continued trying to revive Marisa for about a minute without any signs of respiration.  Clive watched feeling his partner was beginning to lose his focus on reality.  In her dream, Marisa felt an air of life call her back.  She was not going to lose everything now by letting this cop revive her and continued to feign death, despite O’Malley’s efforts.  She knew how to play dead.  Fafa had taught her well.  How to control her respiration, not stir when touched, lower her body temperature and paralyze her muscles.  She did all of these things and waited.  Waited until they would leave her alone.  Frustrated, O’Malley looked back with a frown on his broad reddened face and suggested they wait for dat Kraut, pathologist in the living room.


 

 

CHAPTER 2

The Escape

Marisa roused herself, while O’Malley and Clive were waiting for Seitz to arrive in the living room.  She heard their voices just down the corridor leading to the foyer as she lifted her naked body from the bed and glanced over at the comforter covering Carolina’s corpse.  She knew where she was and that time was still against her.  Her dress, panties, and sandals were still in a disheveled pile in the corner of the bedroom.  She could hear the two cops discussing what had happened.  She heard O’Malley comment on some German doctor with disdain.  Marisa had to act now.  She had to get to Fafa.  She had to leave.  Yes, Carolina’s car had a full tank of gas, while her own was almost empty. She slipped on her panties black skirt and white blouse, leaving the bra on the lounging chair. She turned to look at the body covered by the dark blue comforter.  There was some commotion going on in the foyer.  She could hear O’Malley mocking someone with a German accent in English.  She finished dressing, then walked over to the bed and pulled back the comforter.  The sight of Carolina’s nude, blood-soaked body made her eyes widen in delight.  She, and only she had done this!!! She had really killed her, though she couldn’t remember when or how.  She heard Fafa da Livro’s voice in her head…get out child, get out of there now, that Irish cop is there…go through the window. I will bring you here.

 

In seconds, she had gotten Carolina’s car keys from her purse and opened the large bedroom windows of her bungalow. She slipped out of the bedroom window onto the yard and turned left bumping her toe on the neat rocks that she had put there last fall to plant rose bushes.  The sky was clear blue and it was in the low 60’s, the smell of the flowerbed and the quiet, serene air made her calm down.  There was Carolina’s blue Toyota just where her friend had parked it last night.  She looked back at the open window and closed it slowly, carefully as not to make a sound. 

Okay, now just walk along the flowerbed and get in that car.

When she reached it, she felt the mind of Fafa da Livro upon her. Her body felt indefinable warmth fill it.  Her hands slipped open the door, her small, lithe body slid in the driver’s seat, but somehow the engine started without her control. More than this, it made no sound.  Even more shocking, as she was turning the vehicle to drive out of her driveway, an iron force blew her hands off the steering wheel.  A sheet of black came down around everything.  She couldn't see anything.  It was not just night, but the black of the open heavens.  Marisa’s frightened heart pumped to an increased pace. She felt...it was that like, like-like that train in Carolina's dream. It made her whole chest feel as if a hot engine was driving it.  A quiet, light, whispering voice came to her.

I am here and you will be here, Marisa.

She knew it was Fafa.  To her amazement, the car seemed to divide as did she and all things went into angles, sharping curves and she lost consciousness.

What appeared silent to Marisa was not to the two cops and Medical Examiner in the house.  After hearing the car’s engine start, O’Malley cursed, and Clive ran out to see that Carolina’s car was disappearing onto the main boulevard.  He ran back in to the living room to find O’Malley on his cell phone giving their location and her description to the dispatcher at 7th Precinct.  Dr. Seitz was sitting on the sofa holding his stomach and looking worried.  As Clive began to speak, O’Malley interrupted:

Let’s go, I gave’em our location and her descrip’.  Look, Seitz we need ya to stay here and hold down this fort until the uniforms get here, huh?

Dr. Seitz waved his right hand indicating he would.  He was relieved to have this boorish man away from him, if only for a short while.  Perhaps the burning his gut would subside during the interim. They rushed to their respective unmarked vehicles.

 

O’Malley barked out: We split on 2nd and circle the area.

Clive responded: I saw the vehicle heading up there

Their vans torn out at great speed each following a different path.  Clive headed to where he last saw the blue Toyota. He didn't know he'd soon be dead. As he turned onto 2nd street, a semi-truck smashed into his driver side door, sending Clive into the passenger seat and severing his head. He died instantly.  O’Malley, saw it all from his rearview mirror, grimaced but kept driving toward the alley that separated Marisa’s home from the main boulevard.

Marisa and Fafa

She awoke in the Toyota next to a brownstone house.  She was parked alongside it in what appeared be an alley.  Marisa didn’t know how she gotten there.  She found herself lying across the front seat.  It was calm, stark quiet outside, not a soul to be seen.  She pulled herself to a sitting position on the driver side seat and looked at the building.  It was Victorian style with a elaborate side entrance with long thin-paned windows.  It was 3 stories tall and had what appeared to an upper terrace.

Fafa where am I?

The answer was immediate.  The side door opened slowly and a dark-skinned woman with woolly braids that flowed to her waist emerged.  She was hypnotic, supple and small, maybe 5 feet at most.  She looked directly at Marisa and smiled, showing well-formed white frontal teeth.  She walked over to the car and gently gripped the passenger side door, unlocking as she pulled it.  Marisa thought this strange, since the doors don’t automatically unlock when they’re forced.  The woman leaned over and poked her head inside the car, an infinite mass of braids falling over her shoulder as looked from the front to rear of the car.  Marisa eyes were involuntarily drawn to hers.  The woman’s eyes were like a feline’s, large coal black with pinpoint irises or gray. She smiled again, extended a tiny, bony hand and said:

Fafa is waiting for you, I’m Evinha.  I am her attendant. I’ll show you to her.

Still staring into her entrancing eyes Marisa could see in her peripheral sight, Evinha was dressed in black jeans with a deep maroon sweater covering small breasts, with nipples visible under it.

You’re not-not..

No, I’m not her.  I’m her daughter.  Come on now, you must get out of this car before he gets here.

He? Who is he?

That detective, you know.

Marisa remembered O’Malley.  She thought he was pursuing her no doubt.  She took Evinha’s extended hand; it felt warm, like Vinicius’s had felt to Carolina; burning warm flesh like she had a fever.  The hand filled her with warmth as she stepped out of the car.  Still holding Marisa’s hand, Evinha led her to the doorway.  Marisa looked at her brown sandals as they walked.  Birds chirped sharply from a tree somewhere to her left.  Evinha stopped and listened and turned toward Marisa. 

She is trying to get through.  You will not be in this world once we’re in here.  I will be with you don’t be afraid.  You mustn’t be afraid Fafa is coming.

Marisa was perplexed by Evinha’s comments.  Who was trying to get through?  Through what?  She wanted to asked but felt she should keep quiet and observe, until she saw Fafa.  Evinha pointed to the dark Mahogany door, indicating Marisa should open it.  She did, slowly and an orange-red light met her eyes.  She saw a large room filled with comfortable furniture.  Directly ahead of her, was an oversized plump couch with downy feather cushions.  It was enclosed by two Oakwood end tables with watermelon sized brass lamps, their beams casting dim oval white spots of light on an enormous vaulted ceiling.  She looked down, and a velvet soft dark blue carpet, graced her feet.  Blissful calm came over her.  As she looked up at the couch again, she saw a large animal the size of a dog gnawing on something next to the sofa.  She focused her eyes and realized it was a RAT!  She thought in shock: A rat the size of a dog?   Her eyes widened in terror, and she squinted in the dim light to see what it was doing.  It couldn’t be, but it was it was.  But, it just couldn’t be, it couldn’t!  It was Carolina’s corpse!  The rodent was hungrily devouring her black hair.  Marisa stared at Carolina dark eyes; they were open, expressionless, and looking at her. She watched as her hand curled around the ears of the dog-rat, stroking it, seeming to want it to eat her.  It lifted its head, relishing the taste of her friend. It began chewing her ears, then her chin, and slowly bit into her nose, blooding pouring out of its mouth as lovely Carolina was eaten.  Marisa shut her eyes in sorrow and regret.  Thinking: I shouldn’t have done this.  I shouldn’t have killed you Lina.  Suddenly she felt a sharp, painful pinprick between her shoulder blades, followed by cold metal shoving its way into her back, pushing aside her internal organs.  It hurt like hell.  She felt like her whole chest was being forced out of her body.  She groaned involuntarily, and looked back hoping to see Evinha, but it was Carolina’s face she saw.  That fierce, brown sweating face, with black eyes shining and narrowed, Carolina’s white teeth framed by blood red lips, glaring at Marisa.

Now, you see how I felt when you stabbed me!  You bitch; you thought you could escape me.

In the next second, Marisa collapsed into Evinha’s arms.  Strong sinewy chocolate limbs held her up.  In a few moments, Marisa opened her eyes and looked at her chest, expecting to find a grotesque wound, like the one she’d inflicted on Carolina, but there was nothing. She looked at Evinha’s smiling face and then the place where she’d seen the rat: nothing was there.  As Evinha set her back on her feet, she said:

I said she’s trying to get through.  We’ve got to get to Fafa now. She’ll decide it all.  Lina knows, she’s trying to get to you before you get to Fafa.

She told Marisa to hold her hand tightly as they walked across the carpet of the living room to a shining mahogany staircase leading to the upper floors.  Marisa did and lowered her eyes to the blue carpet it reminded her of her mother’s eyes.  She was  trying to close out everything but the thought of reaching Fafa. 

Fafa, yes Fafa would protect her.  Fafa would mother her.  She would release her from this life and bring her to Vinicius.

Evinha paused at the foot of the staircase.  Her grasp on Marisa’s hand began to feel cold.  Marisa sensed this was a bad sign, and as they started to ascend the stairs, she looked up.  Evinha dark face was staring back at her, but it seemed dead.  She said:

You’ll have to go on from here alone. Go now; run to the door directly at the back of the corridor on the 3rd floor, Fafa is in there.

Marisa was afraid to go on without Evinha.

Why can’t you come with me? I’m scared.  You said Carolina is here and ..and..oh look!.... just come with me Evinha, huh, please, I got money if you want that..come with me?

She reached up to embrace her, but when Marisa touched her, she fell apart like crumbling flour, grayish powder exploding in her hands and down the stairs.  Now she was alone on the staircase.  The lights became dimmer seeming to close in on her as she looked up the staircase it appeared to be miles long.  She remembered how the river had seemed miles deep to Vinicius in Carolina’s dream.  She had to chance it.  Run now!  And she did, taking 2 to 3 steps at each stride.  Her sandals made dull clunks as the leather impacted the sturdy wooden steps.  Finally, she reached the 2nd floor landing and it was almost completely dark.  The only light came from the setting sun, which shone through, a 12-foot window before her on the landing.  She remembered Evinha said that the Fafa was on the 3rd floor in a room at the end of a corridor.  At any second she expected Carolina to appear, grab her, and violently hack her to death.  She crossed herself and looked up the staircase.  It was even steeper than the last one.  There must be 200 steps, she thought.  She began climbing again, taking 2 to 3 steps at a time, with an increasing foreboding that someone was following below.  She was too afraid to glance back.  When she’d reached what she thought was the halfway point, her chest tight with exhaustion, an aching icy tension in her ribs and shoulders, she saw a figure tight white pants at least 15 steps ahead of her, scurrying up faster than her.  The figure was brown, with curvaceous buttocks.  It looked back.  It was Carolina, wearing a twisted mocking grin.

Marisa was shocked.  She stopped on the next to last step and watched Carolina as she climbed the steps. She was almost to the top the 3rd floor.  She felt exhaustion in her body.  Then, Carolina stopped turned around, facing Marisa defiantly.  She stood at the top floor and turned around. The fingers of her hands cupping inward with upturned palms.  She sat down on the top step and placed her hands with fingers laced together between her splayed legs.  Marisa realized how much she needed Fafa’s help now.  Where was she?  Fafa had promised her eternal life and more happiness than could be imagined.

Come on Marisa, come on, I’m waiting.  You do want to come up these steps now don’t you? You killed me for this, come on…I’m already dead, and you’re not.

She was not afraid, but irked. She thought about going back down the stairs and surrendering to that mick detective, O’Malley.  But, how could she now?

O’Malley

As O’Malley turned on down Constitution Blvd, his hands shook, and something took control of the wheel. He struggled against it.  What the hell, who is this…what da hell am I sayin?  somebody’s , I mean somebody’s tryna, no wait a minute, what the hell is happenin’….Then, he was in control again. He settled back and pushed the car down Constitution Blvd, shaking his head intermittently, wondering what had happened.

Was I really tryin’ kill myself?  I gotta stop doin these cases, these murderers, rapists.. and ahm gonna tell that Stevens, the Limey cocksucker, I’m out. I mean it.  Helen, Helen..yeah I gotta see her next week…Maybe she’s right we are just like niggers, we drink too much, we fight, we never think where  we’re goin’ we’re stupid, we’re…Heh, yeah, everybody uses us  ..I wish the IRA would do somethin’ bout them damn sonabitches. The Loyalists’ they’re all Brits anyway, Limeys, they are.

He thought about the IRA operative that had asked him to supply arms last month.  He remembered how much he hated the destruction of Northern Ireland by the English occupation. His furious rage engulfed him for the moment.  Then he remembered the case at hand.  A remembrance of his estranged wife, flowed into his mind.  Helen kept his mind wandering in a field.  A field that was so fertile for Fafa da Livro.

Did I say niggers? I guess I am a racist, like Millie always said.  She’s why Helen left me I’m sure.  Hey, hey, hey, just git a hold of yourself man, I’m trying to catch a killer right? Ain’t I? What the fuck was that…Am I a racist? O’Malley you’re okay, I ain’t gonna drink nuthin on the job either.  I gotta find this spic chick…Look at that I said ‘spic’. No, I gotta have a drink before I go there. Where? There!  Where the hell am I?

Blackness descended upon Detective O’Malley’s vehicle.  It was just where he’d parked it a few blocks from Marisa’s home. It was on a narrow side street. He watched cars pass by, as he sat there, immobile.  Peacefulness grew inside him, then a vision of his sick, very ill daughter, surrounded by flowers.  She was just as she was before; dying from a rare brain cancer.  She coughed up blood and died on that day.  The day he went to see her in the Child Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  She was smiling and her black short-cut hair in patches, with one section combed behind her ears, it shining in the sunlight.  He cried out, looking in the rear view mirror.

Shannon oh Shannon, you’re alive, Dad’s here.  Forget about what your mother said, you’re not gonna die.

He had no idea that this vision was actually an implanted dream from Fafa da Livro.  O’Malley and the cruiser were being transported through a dimension outside space and time.  He was being transported to the home where Marisa and Carolina were racing to this woman so powerful and so inscrutable.  One was dead, and the other was seeking to die. 

O’Malley’s dream changed swiftly.  He was now in his favorite Irish bar: McNamara’s.  It was a place he frequented early in his marriage.  Located in Boston’s Southie district, it was well known as a cop’s hang out.  He recognized most of his law enforcement friends at the bar and few sitting in the back end of a spacious hall. They were gathered around a circular thick Oak table, telling stories from the workweek.  He figured it must be Sunday, when most of the cops in his unit were off duty.  He walked up to the bar and saw Keegan filling a Guinness pint for Jimmy Tee.  Jimmy Tee was the homicide detective that had trained him when first started with Boston PD.

Jimmy Tee, Man am I glad you’re here.  Look I’m searching for a murder suspect.  Spanish chick, named  uhh Marisa De la something.  I can’t remember it. I gotta find this woman.  She’s a beautiful girlie, but she’s bad, Tee.  Real bad, she killed another one’em.  This one’s from Brazil.  I think she’s called Caroline or something like that.  Anyway, she’s dead now so it don’t much matter, right?  It’s a bad case my man.

Tee looked over at him, and grinned.  He was half-bald, and had brownish, rotten teeth.  He motioned to Keegan to get O’Malley a pint also.  O’Malley sat down on the barstool next to Tee.  He didn’t know how he’d got to McNamara’s, but was not bothered by it.  As he sat on the stool and watched Tee’s grinning mug, Keegan came over with his beer.

Oh, thanks Keegan.  How’s your boy doin’? I mean I know he tried out for the football team.

Not too bad Mr. O’Malley, he’s gonna make the team this year for sure.

Then Tee said something strange

I know whatcha want lad, I’ve known it for sometime Richie.  Yer tink yer can fool me lad do ya? Butcha caan’t boy? Yer still just an Irish cop trying and trying to be maar daan any other Irish cop as every been in this town. Now aren’tcha? Richie my boy, do ya see that woman over there with the black shroud?  

He pointed to a dark-skinned woman, dressed in a long black gown with a thin veil covering her head.  Her eyes were liquid black marbles, and her skin was sable, smooth and shining.  She was sitting alone in the corner of the bar at a small table for one.  Before her a bottle of rum and two small glasses, each filled to their brims with rum.  Long wooly braids of hair hung around her face.  Her nose was a tiny triangle with thin narrow red lips.  She was looking down at the glasses, as O’Malley looked to where Tee had pointed.  She looked up and caught his eyes.  Instantly, O’Malley felt he couldn’t breathe, he gagged, coughed and shook his head.  Then it was gone.

Who is she, Tee? He remembered he’d never seen any black people in McNamara’s before.  Not to mention a black woman.

What’s she doin’ here Jimmy?  I’ve never seen any of them here. 

She’s someone who can help you, Richie, she’s called Fafa da Livro.

Fafa duh what?  Look something is all wrong here, I can’t understand what’s come over you.

Keegan walked up and set one of the glasses of rum that had been before Fafa da Livro in front of O’Malley.

Would you like me to take your coat and gloves, Mr. O’Malley?

What? What are you talking about…why it’s summer.

He realized he was wearing a coat, and did have gloves on his hands.

He remembered it was not summer and it was cold outside.  O’Malley quietly took off his coat and gloves and handed them to Keegan.  He heard the whoop and holler of the officers at the back table.  One guy in a dark brown sweater was describing how he’d taken down a suspect.

Yeah and so get this, he says, uh he says, look I’m just takin this stuff to my sister, it ain’t mine.  So’s I say: yeah and these cuffs ain’t mine either buddy. I’m just takin’ you to my brother: the jailhouse!  The others exploded in laughter.

An old Gaelic song came over the stereo sound system.  He looked out of the large window on the other side of the room and saw snow fluttering down, with people passing by in heavy overcoats.  He thought how he’d forgotten to put antifreeze in his car and cursed himself for being so dumb.  He looked at the glass of rum before him and then at Tee, whom had become much smaller in stature and was wearing what appeared to be a black wig.  It was composed of braids.  O’Malley thought those braids are like the ones the colored girls make.  Tee grinned again. His teeth were white and perfectly shaped.

Drink it O’Malley it’s from her.

He looked at the glass before him, took it in his hands and drank it in one long swig.  In fact as he drove toward the house where Marisa was, he was drinking Paixao da Sonha.  When O’Malley looked back at Tee, he saw Fafa da Livro sitting there instead.

Do you know I could kill you right now, you old mick drunkard?  I should kill you right now.  You’re not doing what I want you to.  Stop defying me.

Why you black bitch. We’ll skin your black ass alive here.  Do you know where you are?

O’Malley started to look at the bar and tell Tee what Fafa had just said.  But, there was no one at the bar, in fact as he looked around the room there was no one anywhere in the place except for him and Fafa. 

O’Malley was dreaming and didn’t know it.  Like most dreamers, abrupt changes in his reality didn’t seem strange to him.  The room had become huge.  It looked like the feasting hall of a medieval castle in England.  Fafa da Livro and him were seated at a long Oakwood table with 50 chairs on each side. He was seated at one end and she at the other.  He understood that Fafa needed his help. He looked into black shining eyes and a decrepit face with a thousand wrinkles in its chocolate skin and said:

Why did you need me?  Can’t the girl do it?

No, she can’t Richard.  You’ve got to take the dream to others.

O’Malley didn’t like to be called by his first name.  His ex-wife Helen used to do this to irritate him when she was angry.  He darted a quick eye at the unflinching stare of Fafa da Livro and then looked at the coarse wood of the table.  He got up and walked over to where the table with his fellow officers sitting together had been.  There was a huge glass window.  It reminded O’Malley of the observation windows for aquatic life at Sea World.  He walked up to the window, and saw a pouring rain, so thick he could only see blurry forms through the downpour.  He heard that whining whipping sound that tons of gallons of water streaming from the heavens make.  What? A strange noise in back of him.  Yes, a sound like squealing animals.  He looked around to see several rats eating leftover food.  O’Malley thought it must’ve fallen off that table that was there.  He saw a half-eaten slice of garlic bread, orange peels and a tuna fish sandwich with pickles.  The rats were busily gnawing their way through everything.  He thought: tuna fish that must’ve been Ryan’s.  He loves the stuff.  Then O’Malley realized the rats were actually his fellow officers.  He could somehow see they’d been transformed into rats.  Again, this extraordinary occurrence didn’t seem odd to O’Malley in his dreaming state.  He remarked to himself:

Aw, well they were all rats anyway.  Turning his attention back to Fafa he said beginning to turn back to her:

So, what I gotta do anyway?

In the next instance, he lurched forward in his cruiser.  It was parked directly behind the Camaro that Marisa had driven to Fafa da Livro’s home.

Now, how on Earth did he get here?  Was he actually dreaming and driving?  His car radio popped on and the dispatcher spoke:

O’Malley are you there yet?  We just got a call from the location indicating the suspect was with her.  She’s asking for you.  She says De La Cruz is inside at this moment.  We’ve been calling you for the last 10 minutes, what’s up O’Malley?

O’Malley picked up his microphone, still confused:

Who called you dispatch?  I’m in front of a brownstone on what, uh.. it looks like, like, uh I can’t tell.  Who the hell called you?

I’ve got a Leev-row, or something like that.  Look O’Malley don’t get smart with me, this is Lasky, I’m not Kitchen, you know.  Now look, we wanna git your location.  Your suspect is very likely in the building you describe. We wanna git backup there.  She could be armed.

Hey look, fuck you Lasky, you and nobody else of over there scares me, got it.  I don’t know where the hell I am.  I’ve never seen this house or this neighborhood before.  I’ll tell ya one thing, I’m sure as hell gonna find out.  You said this woman’s name was Livro.  Would that be Fafa da Livro?

Detective O’Malley had already placed his 38 special in his shoulder holster, opened the driver side door and was about to sign off on the mike, when Lasky said:

Okay, O’Malley truce, truce.  The woman’s name is just what you said.  How did’cha know that?  Never mind.  We’re tracing the call now.  I’ll call you on your cell phone when we know where you are for sure.  In the meantime approach with caution!  I repeat approach…(click)

O’Malley shut the broadcast off with an air of contempt and sat in the driver’s seat turning things over in his head.  How could someone he’d dreamed of be real?  How could he have driven to this place without being conscious?  And that dream, God was it strange.  Detective O’Malley knew this case was not usual.  He knew that he was involved in something that dwarfed him.  He ran his hands over his thick gray hair.  It felt damp as if he’d been out in the rain. He wished like hell he could take a swallow of Rum.  She wanted him to do something.  She called him Richard. The preternatural aspects of events baffled O’Malley.  He sensed that he was being used.  I’m like a pawn to her. What does she want though?  If I go inside this place, I may not come out, he said aloud.  The desire to know, to solve, to really find out if this Fafa da Livro existed consumed him.  He patted his sport jacket left pocket to make sure his cell phone was with him.  It was.  Now, let’s take a look at that Camaro.

O’Malley got out of his cruiser, and shut the door quietly.  Was she watching him? The blue light of the radio dispatcher paging him inside the car, came on, but he decided to ignore it.  He walked over to the Camaro and peered inside.  The key was the ignition and the doors were locked.  The vehicle appeared untouched.  It had a clean, new, right-off-the-rack appearance, which made O’Malley frown with doubt.  Was this the same vehicle?  He stooped down to check the tires.  The left side tire had no signs of having ever rotated on any surface.  He knew it!  This can’t be the same car that was at Marisa’s home.  Then it occurred to him that his own vehicle might not be the same.  He jumped up and trotted back to his cruiser.  He was about to check his tires, when the side door opened and Evinha rushed out, waving her hands.  O’Malley pulled out his revolver and pointed it at her.

Alright, ma’am stay right there and keep your hands up. 

Detective, don’t shoot.  I called.

Yeah, you did, did you.  Well just stay where you are.  I’m gonna cuff you while I get this thing sorted out.

O’Malley retrieved a pair of handcuffs from his inside coat pocket and walked over to where Evinha stood with her hands held high in the air.

He ordered her to turn around and place her hands behind her.  In a few seconds he had handcuffed her.  He told her to turn around.  She looked at him.  Isn’t this the woman in my dream, but she’s younger?  As he kept his gun pointed at Evinha, he thought it might be a good time to get somebody else involved.  Still eyeing Evinha with distrust, he pulled out his cell phone and started to dial the dispatcher’s secure line, but his phone’s batteries were dead.

Damn!  What’s your name honey?

Evinha.

Is this Fafa da Livro woman your mother?

Yes she is. She’s waiting with Marisa for you.  I’m not the criminal detective?  I shouldn’t be in handcuffs.

Well, we’ll find that out now won’t we.  I wanna go to the front entrance of this place.

But the side entrance leads right to the upstairs section.

I said the front.  Don’t argue with me, now lets go.

He gripped her left arm and led her around the narrow cobblestone alley to the front of the building.  There he opened the door slowly and pointed the gun at the interior, while still keeping a firm grip on Evinha’s handcuffed arm.  He walked into a completely different room than the one Marisa had seen.  As O’Malley cautiously walked in dragging Evinha with him, he saw a white marble circular floor with walls of the same and a ceiling of maybe 20 feet.  There were gigantic windows on the scale of Gothic cathedrals on each side of the room.  O’Malley couldn’t be believe he’d stepped into a brownstone 3 story narrow structure as it appear from without.  At the far end of the room, perhaps some 100 feet away was a grand piano in an alcove set next to the spiraling marble staircase.  The center of the room had two colonial period sofas facing each other. Between them was a black oak coffee table, long and ornately fashioned.  Twelve-foot French doors led to a drawing room carpeted in deep maroon.  They were standing in a foyer with a chandelier directly above their heads; beneath their feet were the white and black marble concentric rings of the floor.  He told Evinha to shut the front door, which she did.  O’Malley couldn’t’ help but reflect to himself: Now these are the kinda digs I’ve wanted all my life.  This place looks like something the Queen of England would have.  He turned his head side to side taking in the immense beauty of the place and wondered if he was still in his dream.  Evinha’s voice snapped him out of his material lust.

Would like me to show you to Fafa now, detective?

My name’s O’Malley, Detective O’Malley alright, uh Evinha, that is your name right? She nodded in assent. Remember mine, you’ll need to.

Would you remove the handcuffs now?

He had completely forgotten he was holding her arm and she was handcuffed.  The place had put him at ease.  The home, made him feel safe, warm, invited, and he even felt it befitting that he was there.  He slipped his pistol back into his should holster, and then stood before Evinha, looking her over; scrutinizing her.  Why not unbind her?  She couldn’t be more than 105 lbs at most.  He was over 210 lbs and could snuff her with one hand if need be.

Okay now listen up and listen good I’m gonna cut ya loose but don’t think you can pull anything on me.  I won’t hesitate to plug ya if I have to.  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve killed somebody on the job, you understand?  You’re a very pretty kid, and I’m sure your boyfriend would be floored if he read about ya being dead, you get me?

O’Malley was waving his index in Evinha’s face with a stern threatening air.

I understand Detective O’Malley and like I said before, I’m not the criminal here. 

He let go of her arm, turned her around and undid the handcuffs.

Suddenly he noticed her flesh felt so warm and delicate, not like any other woman’s he’d ever touched.  He reminded himself how very many women in his line of work he had touched too.  The taste of Rum in his mouth came to his attention.  He remembered he had drunk a shot of Rum in his dream.  He ignored the taste.  He was going to take everything this time slow and deliberative.  He was not going to make a mistake this time.

They are up the stairs this way.  Evinha pointed to the marble staircase, while rubbing her wrists and started to move toward it.

No, not so fast.  Who else is here beside us and your mother and Marisa?  

O’Malley cranked his head side to side as if looking for someone else to appear.

No one Sir.  On Mondays the cook comes in to make meals for Fafa for the week, but today’s Saturday, and no one else is here.

It just didn’t seem right to O’Malley.  He became aware that temporizing was how he’d lost Marisa the first time and didn’t want that to happen again.  Yet, he didn’t want to go up those marble stairs.  It wasn’t fear that stopped him, but something more profound.  If he went up those stairs and saw the person of whom he’d dreamed, what then?  How could he make sense of the real world then?  O’Malley was beginning to understand the degree to which he had crossed over into a world that was not his own.  This pretty black girl standing before him, like a fawn, waiting for his next move was not so helpless.  And there was more, he knew that the person upstairs expected something from him, but still didn’t know what it was?  Yet, he knew he had to give it to her.  He didn’t want to give it to her, but he felt compelled.  He ran a nervous hand across his limp sweating hair, pushing it backward to the nape of his neck.  An icy cold wind blew across his face and he wondered where that came from.

What’s the cook’s name?

Sir?

GODDAMNIT YOU HEARD ME, WHAT’S THE COOK’S NAME

Oh, I’m sorry Detective O’Malley you’re scaring me.  His name is Keegan. Yes, Keegan that’s it. Josiah Keegan, that’s his name. Fafa always calls him Keegan.  That’s all I know him by, but one day he told me his first name was Josiah…. Don’t hit me, please!  

Only then did O’Malley realize that his left arm was raised in pugilistic stance.  He lowered it.  And let what she had said sink in.  Josiah was Keegan the bartender at McNamara’s first name!  How can any of this be?  Was it coincidence?  Hell no!  Evinha was cowering away from him in fright.  He had scared this beautiful little creature and felt ashamed of himself.  He wanted to reach out to her and take her into his arms.  To stroke those strange nappy braids, and lift up her face, look at it now, near tears...He was a brute like Helen had told him so many, many times.  He looked down for a second and then said:

I’m sorry Evinha, I’m sorry I shouldn’t have yelled at cha like that.  This guy Keegan, uh is he Irish and kinda tall and skinny with a little mustache and red hair parted on the left side?

Yes, that’s him Sir.  Please go with me to see Fafa now, please?  You don’t have to do this.

A sound like the retort from a gun exploded.  But it didn’t affect O’Malley.  He had begun to see his dead child.

No, I don’t Yes, I will, I will go with you.

She seemed like Shannon, he could see she was Shannon, he could see Shannon in her terrified eyes.  He wanted to say:

I’m not gonna hurt you Shannon, I’m your father, I’m not bad like Helen said. Look it’s Daddy, Daddy, can you say: Daddy?

Then the feeling and vision was gone.  When he looked again, he saw a poor black girl with her thin angular cheeks and face looking down as if waiting for execution.  He looked down to see to tears dripping from her eyes and her tender small shoulders pumping up and down.  He saw her hands trembling between the white knee-length dress.  She was crying and silently waiting for what? For him to kill her?  He looked down at his right hand realized he fired a round that had narrowly missed Evinha.  He quickly ditched his gun in the shoulder holster and rubbed the sides of his temple.  What the hell was happening to him?

Do you want me to take you upstairs now?

Yes, I’m sorry, I’m so very sorry.  I wasn’t trying to kill you.

O’Malley followed as Evinha led him up the wide marble steps of a winding staircase.  He kept his head down, looking at the black and white design of the marble.  In a just a few steps they had arrived at the second floor.  Evinha turned around, her chocolate face radiant and looked at O’Malley.

You see the large doors at the end of this hall?

Yes.

Fafa is in there.  I can’t go in with you.

That’s fine,  I’ll go alone.  I want you to forget what happened downstairs okay, honey?

She looked up at him.  Narrowed her eyes and said

What happened downstairs?

O’Malley smiled and said

That’s my girl.


 

 

CHAPTER 3

The Meeting

O’Malley felt his gun in the shoulder holster and got ready to meet Fafa da Livro.  He turned his head to look back at the staircase and saw, what he thought was the receding tail of a large serpent going down the steps.

That can’t be her, can it?

As he turned his attention back to the long hallway, O’Malley realized he was standing before the double doors of the room, Evinha had indicated.  He should go in, right?  I mean if this is the end of everything, he shouldn’t back out now, right? He asks himself.  He felt fear pumping his heart.  A trail sweat ran down his right temple, and he wiped it away with his right hand.

She’s in there and I know it!  Whatever the hell she is, I’m not afraid of her!

But, he was afraid.  He knew to open those great doors would be going into a world worst than where he stood.  O’Malley remembered the Irish tales his mother had read to him as a child: the witches that tricked and deceived mortal men.  Macabre stories of devil’s maids that tempted the solitary boy into sex and death. He remembered how much it scared him as a boy of eight.  How he’d asked if he could sleep with her and Dad.  How she’d laughed knowing it would make him keep to the right path of Catholic virtue.

He turned the large brass knobs and pulled them toward himself.  From within a seeping light not like any other he’d seen met his eyes.  An orange glow, which became a satin-red beaming that, hurt his eyes.  He backed away, as the doors continued, on their own to open. A gushing sound of water filled his ears, and then cascaded to a halt with a SHHHHH-CHOOT sound.  He squinted to see what was before him.  He felt a silence.  The silence plugged-up his ears.  He swallowed trying to hear again.  Standing before the couch, with two brass lamps on each end, O’Malley thought he’d seen this furniture arrangement downstairs.  At one end of the sofa, in black shroud was the decayed face of that woman in his dream and stretched across the surface of the blue cushions…it was…yeah…yeah, yeah it was her…that chick that ran.  Marisa De La somethin’?  She was lying in Fafa da Livro’s arms.  He went for his weapon, but it was gone, so was his jacket.  O’Malley was standing before them in his blue work shirt and gray cotton pants.  He looked to his left and right, hoping to see the men of his team.  He heard tender giggling and then a hand covering a mouth whispering something.

He doesn’t seem to be able to do it Fafa? 

But, he can.

How?

Shut up and watch.

Marisa lifted herself up from Fafa’s lap and came forward to O’Malley.  She had on the white pants and blouse as on the stairs.  She regarded him with contempt, as he stood frozen, his hands wanting to search for his phone or weapon.  He heard the creaking panels of the wooden floor as she came close to him.  Fafa also came to life and turned the veil of her black shawl down.  O’Malley saw the wrinkled face of a woman in her advanced years: maybe a 100, maybe more.  He looked at this other woman standing before him.  Finally, he could see just how ravishing she was.  Her small and thin frame had huge deeply sunken black eyes and rich black hair, hanging behind her bony shoulders.  He looked down, as she stood in front of him, regarding him with a gaze of knowledge.  He couldn’t move, but kept his fist clenched at his sides.  He tightened them wanting to punch this little spic in the mouth. She was torturing him with her Hispanic beauty, wasn’t she?  The lights seem to be getting dimmer and the room seemed to be enlarging, like a well opening up.  Was this just his imagination?  The wooden floor had become black and white marble like the stairs.  O’Malley closed his eyes hoping for the Boston PD to show up.  When he opened them Marisa was still there staring at him and that old black enchantress was on her feet with a broken, stooped stance just a few feet from him.  Marisa was in black now: a tight-fitting body suit.  She was standing just inches from him.  He realized he was in the loose orange clothes of the criminals he’d sent to prison.

What did I do? Fafa What did I do. Why do you want from me?  I’ve got to take her you know this?

He heard himself say this, without knowing why he’d say such things.  He felt Marisa against him; her warm brown breasts flush on his.  His dick hardened.  Marisa slipped her hand down to his dirty blue jeans and he looked down to find himself blue jeans, like his days on construction teams.  Then he felt a sharp pain of metal slicing into him.  He realized a pair of scissors was cutting into penis.

NOOOOO….don’t do that!!!!

Then abruptly the pain and cutting sensation stopped.  O’Malley slipped his hand down to his crotch feeling for his warm organ. It was undamaged, he exhaled in relief.

Fafa said in Portuguese:

Nao, a minha filha, precisamos este branco agora.  Depois, voce podeuh, como, se querer….  Nao agora, nao agora.  Precisamos ele agora. Mas, mais tarde, sera ...sera...she broke off.

no, my daughter, we need this white guy now. Afterwards, you can uh you can do what you wish…not now, not now, we need him, now, but much later, will be ..will be...

Marisa retreated moving into the shadows, behind Fafa da Livro, whose image became clear to O’Malley.

She looked like death, wasted with yellow-red eyes shining.  O’Malley wanted to sit down. His feet hurt and he had the sense of a heavy load weighing on his spine, making him feel burdened. Fafa knew this.

Yes, do seet down Richard.  You need to seet and leeseyn jeyst heer what I’m goo-weing to tale you.  I wan' to tale you why you arr heer.  You arr so CONfoos'd about awl dat’ is goineeng on.. doon'd be afreed My oon doohter is afreed.  I wah’ so much, foor you to oonderstand.  Dee English is haart for me, I am so old Richard.  Seet doon oveer dare.  I will far' you ishplain ehreesing.  I need farh’ you so much, if you ray-foos, E will mean bad for us.  You are our-were oonlee chance naow, Seet down oveer dare.

What else could he do?  He had to do as she commanded.  O’Malley walked over to the couch where she was pointing and sat down.  Marisa had already seated herself on a curved colonial chair beside the couch.  She lit a cigarette.  When Fafa followed him, she seemed like his mother, yet she was black as coal.  She sat down, slowly as if the cushions of the couch would harm her.  He looked over at Marisa and saw her hating face.  She punched one hand into the other and spewed something in a language he didn’t understand.  He looked back at Fafa, feeling she would explain it all to him.  And she would.  She started to speak, and this time the voice was different.  It didn’t have any foreign accent.  It was soft, direct, and eloquent.  Where had he heard someone speak like this before?  His mother? Was it Mama, talking in her Irish patois? He turned his attention back to Fafa.  She was talking about dreams.  That’s a good topic O’Malley mused, considering the one he’d just had. 

The Plan

Have you ever thought about dreams detective?

He started to answer, but she waved her thin hand with its sagging flesh showing beneath the black shroud.

I know you haven’t considered the question, so don’t interrupt or ask me any questions now.

O’Malley leaned back on the sofa feeling the comfortable contentment like when he’d first entered the building.

You see in this world of ours, there are billions of people that are sleep while you and I are awake.  And while we sleep they are awake.  These billions are dreaming.  They’re dreaming of this and that, of times past, of sexual intercourse, of things they don’t understand or have never experienced.  They dream of power, or those they’ve lost, of revenge upon those that they hate, or they dream of another life.  They are all; all of them are dreaming Richard.  In fact, while almost half of this planet’s people are awake the other half are asleep.  Just as while half the Earth is bathed in sunlight, the other half is in heavenly darkness.  The black of night, the body of God, and it is all going on every second of every day and night.

Now there are people that have died and they are really non-existing in our world just as you might imagine them to be.  But, they are not DEAD.  Every time someone dreams of them, they can be brought back to life, just like you believe you are now.  You do believe you’re alive Richard right? 

She smiled, showing white gleaming teeth again surrounded by dark brown sagging flesh.  Of course he was alive, O’Malley thought.  Without his realizing it, Fafa had taken his hands in hers.  Her flesh felt cold and lifeless as if she was animated corpse.  He wanted to whip his hand back and wipe them off.  To clean away the feeling of doom that touch gave him.  But he didn’t.  He sat there staring down at her wrinkled cold dark brown hands holding his.

I think I’m alive, I think…I feel alive, am I?  Why was he saying this?  Why was he talking to her …as…as if she was, was …

Fafa’s face seemed to brighten and those yellowish-red black marbles that were her eyes became more liquid.  She ignored his question.

Marisa can’t help me bring all the dreamers under my control, Richard.  She’s too weakened by her love for one of the dead ones.  You can though!

She let go of his hands and backed away to the opposite end of the couch.  Marisa was gone, but O’Malley hadn’t even noticed.

You drank a potion while in your cruiser Richard, it’s called Paixao da Sonha or Dream’s Passion in your language.  You don’t remember doing this because you were asleep.  In fact you’re still asleep so to speak.  But, I’ll get to that later.  Once you’ve drunk this, you’re forever under my control.  I could really kill you now, but that would be of no use to them or me.  O’Malley thought who are they?  They are all the billions of dreamers in the world, detective.  I have all of Europe, half of Africa and most of South America and Asia.  I need to have this country and its people within our world.  It will complete the circle, a large endless circle of dreaming lives and dead hoping to live again.  We only want to exist as you do.

O’Malley had begun to doubt everything that was happening.  His mind kept returning to the reality he knew.  Could this old black woman be real?  Maybe he’s just dreaming like she said.  I want to get outta this dream.  I need to be free, before I can’t get out.  He should try?  Try what? He should try to kill her now, right now!  He leaped up and lunged for Fafa da Livro’s throat, but in an instance he was surrounded by large red and blue colored hornets each one stinging him about the face and neck.  The pain was like a fire followed by throbbing in his face and neck, he felt himself going unconscious  and his heart palpitated as he shook involuntarily.  It was the stroke he feared since Dr. DeLobbicio had told it could happen.  O’Malley fell to the dry, unscented marble floor writhing in pain, he looked at his arms and hands and they were swollen like blown-up balloons.  He could see his chest expanding and depressing where his heart was nearing cardiac arrest.  Standing over him was Fafa.  This time in a deep blue sleek dress draped around a figure of 21 year old beauty queen.  She was still as dark as coal.  Her woolly braids tied back in a ponytail.  Fafa’s face was an oval face with a small nose and large round eyes.  Watching her smile, O’Malley’s eyes fluttered as he transverse a chasm into a different state of being.

Yes, Richard I knew you had to find out if this was all real.  If you could kill me and stop what is happening to you, I knew.  You see now you can’t.  You’re not going to die detective.  You’re not.  I’m going let you see another world.  I don’t have to make you do this. 

O’Malley twitched hearing her words.  He couldn’t think or see, or sense his body, but he could feel.  What he felt was inconceivable: countless human beings and all their feelings and all the feelings of the people that they knew and had known.  With a groan he knew how that 6-year-old boy felt when that monster last year had sodomized him. When he caught the sonabitch he wanted to bust his ugly pimpled face open, but he had to let the legal system do its job.  And then the joy of his daughter, Shannon had felt the night before, when she dreamed of him coming to get her out the Intensive Care Unit.  He had never known her dreams and wanted more, but it changed….  Consumption by fire, strangulation, a dream that kills, from which you never awake, the pain of childbirth, he felt numbing cold of freezing to death. Their bodies being ripped apart, flesh burning as the plane broke into pieces.  He felt the terror 200 people had felt when their plane exploded over Scotland.  The pain his father felt in his groin as prostate cancer wasted his body.  It went on and on, more and more pains he experienced.  Not serially, like stream of torments, but all at once.  What astonished O’Malley most, was these pains were happening to him, just he was not experiencing unendurable nature.  He was both a part and not within the pains.  But, something larger emerged.  Something he had never experienced.  It was a state of being beyond anything human.  He was everywhere at once.  He was above and below space and time.  He was within the smallest and the largest realms.  He existed as a part of all that was or had ever been and yet was not a part of any of it.  He had no name, in fact O’Malley realized he was not a he.  There was no sex at this level of what? Existence? Was this an existence?  Then it ended.

Carolina’s Dream in the World

When O’Malley came out of it, he was standing in the downstairs living room.  It seemed as if things had been rewound.  His clothing was as it was when he first entered the house.  Before him on the sofa cushions of the downy feather was a woman.  She was looking down, dejected and somber.  The facing sofas with the ornate coffee tables on a black and white marble floor were the same as he’d seen on his arrival.  Who was that?  O’Malley squinted. It was not Marisa.  It was that other one uh, what was her name Carol something..Carol, Caroline no Carolina.  That was the dead one, O’Malley said aloud to himself.  But, how could that be?  She was handcuffed sitting 5 feet away.  Standing at the end of the sofa, Evinha and her mother, Fafa.  The mother in the same black-veiled garments.

Fafa, she’s dead how can I take her in, she’s dead.  What happened to Marisa?  Fafa stepped forward followed by her daughter.  Evinha held out a package of cigarettes for O’Malley.  He grabbed them and hurriedly lit one.

Richard, now look don’t think of Marisa, don’t even consider her, we’re not going let you take her in.  You have all your things, your cell phone, your prisoner and your pistol.  You must take Carolina.  You must get her on trial for murdering Marisa.  You will do this, you can do this and after what I’ve shown you how can you do anything else?

Carolina looked up like an innocent child and turned her face away from O’Malley, whom had turned to look at her in disbelief. 

Hey, I can’t do this.  She is the one that was dead not Marisa!  He pointed to Carolina in protestation.

That has all been fixed.  Now Marisa is dead.  I killed her myself while you were away.

But, that kraut, Seitz, he examined both of them and he knows that she’s dead and in fact, I brought him back because Marisa wasn’t dead.  And what about the photographer and the pictures he took.  How ya gonna fix all that, huh?  Fafa was becoming annoyed with him.  She hadn’t brought him all this way, to have him cross examine her!  Still his curiosity could be useful.

No one will notice the change.  You see you’re not the only person in this city over whom I hold influence.

This remark was meant to instruct.  She had said it with contempt.  Her mind once again invaded his and he could see her holding sway over thousands upon thousands of people in Boston.  Not only there, in other metropolises of America: Chicago, San Diego, Houston, Atlanta, O’Malley could see  in the way he had in that altered state some many people were her operatives.  They were unaware she had them in her hands.  A sudden recognition came to him.

Can you resurrect the dead?

Is she not sitting before you now?  Touch her and you’ll see she’s really alive.  Though that doesn’t prove anything, if you’re not alive.

I know what you want me to do.  You want me to poison the water system of Boston with that stuff called

Pieshow dee Sunyuh.  Yes, I knew you would figure it out.  And whom do you have to enlist to do this Richard? You know his name don’t you.

Yes, O’Malley knew that too in an instance.  It was Philip McDonagan, the water commissioner. Phil had been on the police force for 6 years and quit to go work over at the Water Commission.  Yeah, Phil had access to all the controls and gadgets at Boston Water Commission.  He felt a feverish warm hand touch his.  It was Carolina reaching up to hold his hand with hers shackled by the handcuffs.

Do this for Vinicius and me, Sir.  She is trying to take him from me, but she can’t.  You can stop it.

Fafa motioned to her daughter and she walked over to a wall phone at the far end of the living room, and dialed the police department.  O’Malley heard Evinha saying where to meet him and Carolina and watched her nod her head as the dispatcher took down the directions, it seemed like he was in a dream again.  Evinha had changed her appearance.  No braids, but a short boy’s skin-close military haircut. O'Malley thought it became her. She looks kinda model-sexy like that. With those skinny legs and thin arms. Twiggy! That was the chick she reminded him of. Yeah a colored Twiggy, he mused to himself mentally.

So, you want to me seed the water with uh the stuff whatcha call it…

Paixao da Sonha.  It will give all of us freedom.  That includes you.

Am I dead?

No you’re alive, and you will be as long as you complete this task.  But if you fail, I must, and I will kill you.

Fafa stepped forward to just inches from O’Malley’s determined, brave stare.  She was again her old self: decrepit, wrinkled and stooped.  Her eyes were yellowish, red and searing with power.  O’Malley could feel a close furnace like heat around him from her small frail body.  It was as if the temperature had gone up to 100 degrees.  Yet, somehow, it seemed like his mother was coming close to him, like Mama was there. 

I can’t do this Mama, I can’t!

You can for me Richard, and you must! Her voice echoing through the large room with a maternal authority.

O’Malley turned his face away from the heat of her breath upon his face, looked to his right and saw what he couldn’t believe.

There in the distance was his four-year-old daughter, Shannon. It was Shannon before she’d been stricken with cancer.  She was playing with ants and watching their curious activities with fascination in her little brown eyes.  He remembered how much Shannon had like to play with ants.  She looked up to see him and exclaimed:

Daddy!  Daddy oh Daddy here I come, catch me Daddy. 

She ran forth her sandy-blond braids bouncing, just as they had been before cancer robbed her of her hair and she scurried to him, O’Malley opened his arms and took her up in his embrace.  She smelled like the powdered talcum Helen put on her after every bath.  She started to kiss him on the cheeks and rub his gray hair into his face.  He returned her kisses with short tender pecks at her pink face and nose.   He turned around and around with her floating in his arms.  Then she was gone.  Slipped away like a chimera.  He was left holding nothing.

You can always be with her, Richard if you help us?

O’Malley looked back at Fafa incredulous that Shannon was gone, when he’d held her so close.  He looked at the pitiful face of Carolina, lowered his eyes and said:

What I gotta do?

He instantly remembered this phrase from his dream, and felt stupid for saying it.  O’Malley noticed, he was outside the place now.  It wasn’t even where he had parked, but a garbage filled slum in Roxbury.  Black children were running up and down a narrow street.  There was a strong odor of piss in the air and he looked to see, winos collected in the corner of one reddish-brownstone building drinking cheap wine from a brown paper bag.  He looked up to see other brownstones with countless people leaning out of their windows looking down on him and his prisoner, Carolina Pereira. He was standing by his cruiser with Carolina in handcuffs inside the car, and in the distance he heard the many sirens of the Boston PD cruisers surging toward him and her.  What had happened he asked himself?  Carolina was in a black miniskirt with a black leather bra and black leather boots sitting with both her legs raised up the seat cushion in the front seat of his car. Street vagrants were crowding around the car trying to get a good look at her thing, and slapping hands as they leaned over the cruiser. She seemed aloof to their attentions and kept her legs high up to her chest, her white underwear showing beneath the miniskirt.  Her hands were cuffed between her thighs.  O’Malley noticed and rushed over to clear away the crowd.  People were hurling curses at him from the their windows and children were jumping up and down waving their arms trying to get in the view of the camera crews taking pictures and shooting video of the capture.  He couldn’t understand why she was doing it this way.  Why not have let him hand her over in a quiet out-of-the-way place without parade atmospherics?  The whole affair became an insubstantial pageant as two more police cruisers and the camera crew arrived with sound boomers, and video cameras, and a crowd started to form.  He walked away as they took Carolina into custody and sought to ask him questions. He walked away stiffly waving his hands left and right as he left, indicating he had nothing to say.  He had already reached his cruiser by the time the news reporter with thinning brown hair did his spot.

Last night a terrible crime was committed in Boston.  A woman was stabbed and killed by her close friend for apparently no reason at all.  And today we see her captured.  The details are sketchy; many say this might be a ritual murder with overtones of Satanism.  Nobody knows for sure.  One thing IS for sure, the victim is a part of the growing Portuguese-speaking community here in Boston. Her name is Marisa De La Cruz.  She’s actually Spanish by birth, but as I understand she spent most of her life living in Portuguese-speaking Brazil.  A place where she may or may not have met the perpetrator of this crime.  Her assassin as you can see is sitting the police cruiser to my right. Her name is Carolina uh, uh.. Pay-ray-ra.  I think that’s the correct pronunciation.  Forgive me if I butcher some of these Portuguese terms and names, I’m not familiar with the language.  She’s 25 years old and the daughter of Brazilian immigrants.  She came with her mother and father to Boston 12 years ago.  She had lead what would appear to be to any outsider observer a quiet and peaceful life.  Never arrested, and a graduate of Boston College with a degree in Civil Engineering.  However, there are some strange details that are emerging about Miss. Pay-ray-ra’s life that might explain this senseless killing. I had wanted to speak with Detective Richard O’Malley, whom actually apprehended the suspect, but I’m told he was so exhausted by it, he left without comment.  That’s understandable.

O’Malley was listening to the reporter’s speech on his radio as he drove down the highway leading home.  Exhaustion in his limbs, his eyes, his entire body took over.  His eyes felt as if they would fall out of their sockets any second.  He was driving through a pouring rain, heading for the No.23 turn off ramp, to go home.  To forget all that had happened.  This would not be so, he knew without doubt, already the presence of Fafa was all around him.  She had given him the rest of the day to regain his fortitude, he sensed.  He shut off the radio and sped up his car, longing to be in his comfortable king-size bed.

CHAPTER 4

O’Malley finds Dr. Teclu.

O’Malley searched most of Saturday night on his computer for anything to do with supernatural experiences involving deceased persons being resurrected via dreams of the living.  Most sites were Net bullshit as the detective termed it as he clicked on each result he found from his Google searches.  It was about 3 am when he finally decided he was getting nowhere.  He crushed out another Salem cigarette and stared at the list of results, leaning back in his black leather chair, he looked upward at the high ceiling of the bedroom.  his eyes searching over the white paint for discrepancy in the grain.  He had just repainted his bedroom about a year ago.  O’Malley was proud of his handiwork.  He believed himself to be reasonable capable carpenter.  He exhaled then ran his hands over his thick gray hair, and rubbed his burning eyes. 

Boy, I gotta forget this shit.  This computer stuff can make ya go blind! God mother of Mary, how long I been here..what 3, 4 hours.  Besides it’s a nutso idea anyway. Aww fer Christ sakes. Occult! 

He was about to switch off his machine, when a listing grabbed his eye and he peered into the screen:

Dr. Haile Teclu is a professor of Mathematics at Harvard University.  His most recent paper entitled: Dreams, Reality and Abstract Algebra, has been scorned by some of his colleagues and applauded by others. Dr. Teclu has now published it as a cumulative work under the name: Mathematics and the Occult.  Below is an extended quotation. This book is available at Amazon.com

 

I had never believed there might a connection between matrix algebra and the reports that individuals had given about their dream states.  As a mathematician, I at first dismissed the idea that a dream could somehow recreate the life of dead persons in the mind of the dreamer.  But, as I considered the possibility from an algebraic point of view, it began to make sense, so to speak. 

 

Consider this, what happens when we die?  We are non-living matter that passes into a state of decay and we are no longer conscious, thinking beings.  All that we were, is no longer.  Yet, while we did exist there was a specific configuration if you will that defined us.  This arrangement is understandable by mathematics.  So, for instance every thought say X can be assigned a number and every experience we had as a living being can be given a function F(X) and arrayed as a matrix.  We can model F(X) with matrix algebra.  So, F(X) and can have scalar K that passes through it, such that K[F(X)] effects all or some of the assigned numbers in matrix F(X). F(X) and can be invertible, and commute, have conjugational references, scalar elements and moreover, have all the rules and elements of any algebraic structure.  If this is true, then the mind of a living being need not die at his death.  It can be reconstructed and live in the minds of another after this person is dead.  And how could this occur?  I think through dreams of that person.  I know this idea is spurious to my fellow mathematicians and I admit that I can’t model any theory as to how this can happen, but I do affirm it is possible.  All that is needed is an omnipotent agency to control the minds of the dreamers…

 

O’Malley could hardly believe what he’d just read.  He didn’t understand some of the mathematical concepts this guy had expressed, but he knew for sure this guy was saying--was what he had experienced.  He scrolled through the rest of text to where, there was a link to buy Teclu’s book. He clicked on it, feeling a wetness forming on his neck.  It took him to a section with promotional material with a button titled: add to shopping cart, he clicked it, quickly put in his credit card number and bought the book.  O’Malley was tired but excited.  His only thought as he got up from the computer chair was: .I gotta see this guy, I gotta find’em.  He moved as if dreaming already to his king-size bed at the far end of his bedroom.  Mechanically he took off his trousers and shirt, then undershirt and finally his underwear until he was nude.

 

Aww forget it huh…I gotta see this guy though, I know he knows.

 

O’Malley slipped under the deep blue comforter into his bed and slept soundly for hours.

 

Haile Teclu

 

O’Malley had just sat down at his desk in the 10 by 10 foot cubicle that served as his office, when Sheila brought in the information file on the Carolina case. He had dubbed it that after the arrest.  She handed him a manila folder and 2 cds containing all the information that was printed in the folders.  Sheila Brown was 36 years old, dark-skinned, slender and petite.  She was disfigured by a savage raping 10 years prior. A psychotic rapist had cut her down side right side of her face while raping her. Two years later she landed the job as an administrative assistant with Boston PD.

 

To O’Malley she was not an attractive woman, her short kinky hair was straightened to the point that the it had become, what O’Malley thought was petrified.  It was a strange auburn color and smelled sweet almost like roses. Or so, O'Malley imagined She continually took out a small compact kit to see herself in a mirror and applied some sort of cream to her face.

 

So, you’re back at last. We been worried about ya.  We thought this one had wiped you out.

Sheila, oh really. You mean you were worried you'd have to work for some other cracker-mick-ginny detective right?

Sheila giggled and said: Man, you keel me, you always go'on about the race thang. Naw I didn't to answer your question. I was just tryna bring ya back Mal’

 

O’Malley looked up from his gray metal desk at Sheila, and realized how he’d never thought of Sheila as being black, but she was most definitely that he remarked to himself, mentally.  She was his assistant, and nosy as hell and a little irritating at times, but not black, but she was…. He remembered her miscarriage and her unending love for the weak, squealing little punk of a husband of hers, James. Yeah the jerk. What was it they call black people like him ...Tom, yeah Uncle Tom. He let the Ginnies downtown do everything but fuck'em in his black ass. Sheila snapped him out of his reflection.

 

Rich, you thinkin’ bout something?

Huh, no no no...nothing..Uh look remember I toldya about this guy Halley Teclasdidya git his info?

You mean HaiLay TecLU. Yeah I did. He’s at Harvard and I have his stuff, Some Bad Brother huh?

 

Sheila Honeycutt fidgeted and turned her thin face away, puffing on her cigarette.

 

What? No, he’s a pretty good brother Shelly.

 

She knew he hadn't understood.

 

I mean he’s really good at math ya dope!  Mal' will never understand ‘hood talk'. After all dem years on the force too and you still don't get it do ya?

O'Malley said with annoyance in his voice: Yeah, okay yeah will look Sheila I don’t have for ‘hood talk'today okay,, so wouldja just give the stuff honey?

Sheila smiled showing a broken left tooth. She put her right hand to the scar that ran down the length of her chin to her breastbone.

Here’s his number and I did call like you asked. He says he’ll be in his office today at about 2:34 pm. I see you got his book. He’s a weird kinda guy ‘Mal.

 

Whadda ya mean?

 

I mean he is just weird. He made a point that he’d be in his office at 2:34 in the afternoon and not before. And kept asking me if I was sure that you had called him.

 

Yeah that’ s pretty weird. O’Malley said staring fixedly into the distance.

 

He mentioned something even more fucked-up.  Wait I got it, ooh shit it’s at my desk lemme got git it

 

Sheila turned around and the beauty of her delicate form reminded O’Malley of Marisa in that place. When she returned it seemed she’d been transformed into that woman.  O’Malley heard a ring in the distance close to him.  He ignored it and continued to stare at Sheila, standing before him with her phone notes….

Her face with red lips and brown skin and those deep, deep sunken eyes was it her?…Marisa or Carolina  it’s you Marisa he whispered.

Sheila looked up from her notes. What? Whatchu say Rich?  Hey man snap out of it!   that’s you’re phone, Marisa?

 

Baby I’m just Sheila whas wrong witchyu?

 

O’Malley realized his cell phone was ringing. 

Uh oh,  Oh, I’m sorry. Sorry really Sheila…Uh look I gotta take this one alone Sheila wouldja

Yeah, yeah awrite,  if ya need me you know. 

 

She pointed to her desk in the next room and strode out switching her shapely hips exaggeratedly, feeling proud for his mistaking her for one of those gorgeous dead women.  She giggled as she sat down at her workstation, and whispered to herself:

Marisa, Lord that crazy Ol’ Mick. HAH!!! Lord, lord, lord.

 

Hallo, Mr. O’Malla?

O’Malley, is my name.  who is this? 

 

He was expecting a call from that kraut medical examiner on his autopsy findings.  He had not expected Teclu to call him.

 

Oh I’m sorry I’m Haile Teclu. Your ..uh …your secretary gave me your cell phone number and said that you wanted to speak to me. She said it was impourtant.

 

He spoke with an upper class British English accent, punctuated by only the slightest hint that he even spoken a foreign language.  When O’Malley realized he was talking to the man that could make sense of this, upside-down state he found was speechless and paused for several seconds.  He was prepared to curse out Seitz, and now found he might have the key to answers…

 

Hallo, are you there? Sir?

 

OH, Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s you, yeah I’m here uh I must apologize now. I wasn’t expecting you to call me. Uh, Dr Tekcla

 

It’s TEK-Loo. No don’t be apologetic uh uh what should I address you as? I guess we are both having difficulties pronouncing each other’s names, funny isn’t it?

 

Yeah kina, I’m Rich, or Richard. I mean my name is Richard O’Malley sir.

 

O’Malley heard Teclu laughing softly on the other end.  Strangely, O’Malley felt an immediate sense of liking this guy.

 

No don’t call me Sir. My first name is Haile, that’s High-LAY and you can call me by that name. You sound like you’re a good person. I read about your recent accomplishment shall we say?  I mean that awful business with the Brazilian women…

O’Malley was glad he’d heard of the case, and jumped in—Yes, yes that’s kinda what I wanna talk you about Hailee, sorry I mean High-Lay.  Look, is there a way I can meet with you today?

 

I would very much like that Rich. I’ll be here--that is in my office from 2:34 until 5:52 pm today, can you visit between those times?

O’Malley thought, wow Shelly’s right this guy is some weirdo freak for exacts.  Whadda ya expect, he’s a math guy.

 

Yes, I can.

Oh smashing, now I am—I know where you are Haile and how to get there, remember I’m a detective we specialize in that sorta thing.

 

O’Malley heard a mild chuckling on the other end.

Yes, I suppose you’re right Detective, I mean Rich.  Awright then we’re all set, as you Americans say.

 

Carolina Returns

 

Carolina awoke to a deep blue bedroom in Fafa’s extended house.  Before her was a large window, at least 12 foot by 12 foot.  And she was aware she had been exchanged for Marisa and that she was dead.  She only wondered why?  Getting up from the bed, she noticed she had on white underpants and a see-through bra.  Where is Fafa was her only thought as she moved toward the large window.  Why had she chosen her to replace her with Marisa?  Vinicius.  Yes, Vinicius her only desire, her man, her lover, her, her her---she had bumped into the wall next to the window.  She backed up and took in the room in full.

 

It was a large room.  The ceiling as she looked up must’ve been 20 feet above her, and the other end from which she’d walked, stretched into at least a 100 feet.  The bed from which she arose, seemed as if it were across a soccer field.  She chuckled and remembered the times her father had taken her to soccer games in Rio de Janeiro.  She remembered thinking how the players would never across this large field, and then her Dad’s hand on her little shoulder, and people shouting and screaming and then how Pelé had done it; he had crossed the field.  Then, Carolina remembered where she was and how she got there.

 

She called out:

 

Fafa, damn it, Fafa, why did you do this?

 

She ran across the bedroom toward the chest of drawers with a mirror above it, knowing what she’d find.  She wanted proof.  And proof is what she got.  Looking into the mirror she saw, a face, not her face, but Marisa De La Cruz’s face staring back at her.  Cruz’s arms and as she undid her panties, Cruz’s vaginal area with the same tattoo, she’d shown her 3 years ago, at her birthday party.  It was set of concentric circles just above her clitoris.  Carolina remembered having asked how she could let somebody do this to her most private bodily part.  Marisa had said: My cousin Juahara did it.  Then, Carolina remembered they’re kissing and all the rest and looked away in disgust.  She screamed: WHY WHY WHY?  Fafa why did you do this?  What have I done?  She had become Marisa and Marisa had become her.  What was Fafa doing?  A low, powerful sound came, and Carolina jerked her head toward the bed.  It was as if, the whole room was filled with a something approaching from outside.  It filled her with dread.  She knew it was Fafa coming to her.

 

The sound stopped abruptly and a crystalline silence pierced the air.  Carolina was considering leaping back into the giant bed she’d arose from, when Evinha opened the 12 foot door to her left.  She leaned around the Oakwood portal, smiling.

 

Are you feeling any different now Lina?  Fafa’s out here.  She’s coming in to see you.  Don’t be angry okay.  You know Fafa loves you and knows the right way to do things.

 

Evinha, ohhhh why is she doing this.  Why let that bitch take my body and give me hers.  I asked to live again! But not as her!!!!

 

Fafa stepped around Evinha into Carolina’s view with a stunted slow gait.  She seemed fresh and beautiful to Carolina even though she was still as wrinkled and wizen as she had been when O’Malley encountered her.  She had on all the regalia of women from Bahia, Brazil; black kerchief on her head, bright red shawl about her sagging shoulders, and to complete the image, a long white gown reaching to her remarkably youthful feet in sandals.  She limped around Carolina staring her down as she revolved her.  Carolina could barely regard those shining black pupils with yellowing corneas.  They saw into her and could hurt her instantly.  Fafa stopped

setstats

{disabled:false,total:0,tracker:0,blocked:0,optout:0,color:green,firstPartySocial:false,optoutEnabled:false,count:0}