3:13 am on Friday 12/13/13
The man pleaded, "this happened to me at 3:13 in the morning of Friday 12/13/13. That must mean something. I need to know what, how is this going to, eh, eh, what's going to happen to me?"
He listened to the tall, strange looking man, but said nothing. He also wanted to know what this meant, but he was more than a little afraid to find out.
"I know you. You know stuff. You affect things and . . ."
The shop owner immediately interrupted. "No, I do not affect things. I do not direct things. Things affect me. And it isn't usually pleasant. You seek to find out direction that you probably shouldn't be seeking. People come to me to find out, I don't know, what things mean. And usually when they find out they leave me very unhappy. Sometimes . . ."
"Sometimes what", he blurted? "Okay, you might be right. Maybe I shouldn't know. But, I can't help it. If I don't know, it'll be just as bad. It'll be constantly on my mind, I won't be able to do anything productive, I’ll, you know, eh, spend all my time thinking about this. Looking for a sign." He looked down at his feet, then jerked his head back up and almost yelled, "You don't understand, I'll obsess about this until, I, I don't know, until I can feel it."
Dragon turned around and grabbed his glasses from the counter. Up until now he hadn't really been able to see the face of the man in front of him. Purposely he hadn't wanted to see any details. Now, well, you might as well face the reality of the moment, he thought. People come to him with a purpose. Not always, of course. After all, lots of people found his occult shop just a curiosity. They want to see what's inside. They think they want to experience something. But this guy, he came to the right place and he knew it. Both of them knew it.
With his glasses on he turned around and stared into the eyes of the giant in front of him. Geez, he thought, this man must be 7 feet tall. He asked him "when did you get to Barstow?"
"On the first."
Jeez, 13 days.
"Have you been getting headaches", he asked.
"YES! The man blurted. Every night since I've been here. I wake up in the middle of the night and I've got a headache. Every night!"
"Did you go to the Canyon?"
"The canyon? Oh, oh yes, hmmm, Inscription Canyon? Yes. The first day I was here." He looked directly at Dragon, "I couldn't leave. I, I wandered around those glyphs for hours. Pretty soon it was getting dark. I had a hell of a time following the dirt roads back to town. I've been back, over and over again. I thought there was something, an answer, a sign, some, eh, meaning, something there that would direct me. But then after last night, I swear, my car just drove here.”
That was a pretty good sign this man was dealing with forces inside himself he was unprepared to understand, no wonder he was so bewildered.
“And the Murals, I can’t get enough of the Murals. They are everywhere, and also in my dreams. That’s how I know this is where I should be.”
“Murals?” Dragon thought. He’d never had anyone in Session mention the numerous Murals all over town. He decided Piat was just confused. He liked the Murals, and kept going by them. He must be misconstruing them as meaningful.
"What exactly happened at 3:13 last night, or, this morning?"
"I woke up from a nightmare. Truly, oh God, a nightmare. I was trembling, shaking, I was sweaty. And I was nauseous."
The bell rang at the door, signaling people were coming in. Friday the 13th was always busy, people just navigated here. They would start by saying, why here? Shouldn't you be in, Sedona, or Roswell? But they were curious, maybe they even had a feeling they would learn something here. Dragon tried to give them some direction, even if he just made it up. But he knew by now this man was meant to be here, and he was meant to guide him. He was resigned to it. He was afraid, but he had to finish this out.
"Have a seat over there", he said pointing to a round table in the corner of the shop behind a long counter.
The tall man moved with relief towards the table and Dragon walked upfront to talk to his assistant. Elphi had power, Dragon had known this the moment she had walked into his shop a couple days after he opened up. He might need her to help him with the tall man, but right now he needed her to handle the steady stream of customers walking through the door, while he concentrated in 'the corner'.
"What's his deal", she asked. Dragon looked at her and said' "he woke up with a nightmare, this morning at 3:13."
"Whoa", she said, her eyes now staring at the man sitting at the table. "Let me know if you need me."
"I will. We close in an hour, so then we can both work with him.
She looked up at her boss. "You know, we rarely close on time on Friday the 13th."
She was right. Typically they would stay open late into the night. On Friday the 13th they would take in more money than they would typically do in a month. As long as people came, they would keep the door open.
He turned around, walking back towards the corner with his eyes on the troubled man. He was getting a headache himself. He always did in these sessions. He had long come to expect and accept them. It was, well, the price he paid. The corner always meant pain.
Dragon walked into his back room, loosely referred to as the office. He opened a side drawer in his desk and pulled out a bottle of Excedrin. He knew that soon the muscles on the right side of his neck, the ones that worked on keeping his head upright, would be tensing up. And when they did, they would squeeze the large nerve that sat between the muscles, running up under his occipital bone. He might as we'll send some pain numbing aid up there now. If this was going to be a long session, he'd be back in here again later for Vicodin.
After popping his pills, he returned to the store proper. He headed toward the corner, then stopped to study his subject. Leaning over, elbows on the table, the heels of his hands were pressing against his forhead. Was he crying? He had nikes on, jeans and an orange pullover sweatshirt.
Dragon turned away from the table, leaned against the wall, and closed his eyes. He needed to prepare, he needed to channel. In his mind he pictured the tall man. He saw him sitting in the corner. He saw himself turn towards the door when the bell rang 30 minutes ago and could see the surprised look on his own face when he saw the height of his new customer. He saw himself look over to Elphi, and her swing her head towards him. Her expression startled him. It wasn't a 'man that guy is freakishly tall' look, it was a 'oh no, this can't be good'.
Dragon sat at the table, directly across from his client. "My name is Dragon."
"Dragon, that's my name."
"Oh my God", the man said, and layed his forehead on the table.
"You don't like my name?"
In a few seconds the man lifted his head. In a very still monotone, he said, "My name is Piat. And there was a dragon in my nightmare. It was just around the corner from here, near the depot.
"In your nightmare, did it all take place in Barstow?"
"Yes, yes, I think so. When I woke up, I was so scared. And I wasn't sure why. I got up, grabbed a pad and wrote everything I could remember about the dream."
"Did you bring that with you?"
"What? Oh, yes, yes. I have it."
He fumbled through pockets until he found the yellow sheet in his jacket pocket, and slid it across to Dragon. He read the scribbling on the crumbled paper:
'maggie calling me. I could hear her couldnt see her. told me to go to the cyn. Now on main st, I think, now a bridge, overlooking the RR tracks, depot, dragon on top of depot. scares me and i think im hurt, how did i get hurt, was it the dragon, is he talkiing to me. he says 13, and now really scared. run across bridge away from dragon and my mom says hurry, hurry honey.'
None of this surprised Dragon. Over the years, many people had come in to tell him their dreams, and often they talked about a dragon. It just confirmed to both of them they had come to the correct place. Dragon read it over a few times before addressing Piat.
Is your Mother alive?
No. She died when I was 13.
Geez, Dragon thought. Is this guy making this all up? But he knew better. People who are afraid, who get 'messages', are all obsessed with an image of some sort. Here, it was obviously 13. Everything seemed to be 13. Piat wasn't making this up. His mother, or someone, was talking to him. If it was her, she probably knew of his fear of the number 13, it was her way of getting his attention. She wanted him to listen, but what was the actual message.
"I want you to close your eyes, try to ignore the noise in the store, just clear your mind."
He watched Piat close his eyes, and immediately he appeared to calm himself, he was still and quiet.
"There's nothing to be afraid of, keep your eyes closed and think back to your dream. See yourself back on the bridge, with the railroad tracks below you. The dragon can't hurt you, its just a dream, look at it. Can you see it?"
Piat nodded, and yet still remained quiet and calm.
"Look at its face, does it look famaliar?"
Piat didn't immediately respond, but Dragon could tell he was still with him. Finally he blurted, "Yes, its looks like . . . me. My God, its like I'm looking in a mirror."
"Piat, stay calm. Its ok. You're sitting at a table in a shop, not on the bridge."
He still had his eyes closed, and nodded.
"Piat, did you do something recently you are ashamed of? Something you know you should't have done? Maybe something that hurt someone you love?"
Now Piat opened his eyes, as Dragon expected him to. His eyes were moist and his face was sad, dreary looking. "Yes. Yes I did. How did you know that?"
Dragon ignored the question. "It was your wife, wasn't it, or someone you loved, but she is dead now? Is that right? What did you do?"
Piat looked at Dragon, he was past being amazed at the secrets he knew about his life. Then he lowered his head again, sobbing. Dragon allowed him to be filled with his remorse, and he too closed his eyes, rubbing the back of his neck.
Then it wasn't quiet any longer. Dragon opened his eyes, startled to see Piat shoot up to his full freaky height, the back of his knees slamming the chair into the bookcase behind him. He looked down at the bewildered Dragon and announced, "I no longer require you help, do not say another word to me, you filthy Gypsy".
Dragon immediately knew Piat was being possessed. He looked around at the hushed customers and Elphi rushing towards the table. As she moved toward them, she grabbed a shaker of salt, but Dragon raised his arm, telling her to stop. He had been searching Piat's face, and had seen his eyes close, and his whole body droop.
Dragon turned to Elphi, "Its ok, he's back to himself. Go ahead, get everyone calmed down" he said, waving to the shop customers.
As Dragon sat down, Piat started talking, loudly, almost hollering. "Its my wife. She won't leave me. I was cruel and mean to her, mostly her whole life. And she takes it out on me every day. I don't know how she got in, but I can't get her out. I've tried, can you help? Please, its agony."
All of the customers who had witnessed Piat being possessed, were now once again turning their attention to the corner. Dragon paid no attention, he replied in the same volume, so Piat didn't think his loudness was accomplishing anything.
"Agony like your wife felt? For decades. Did she commit suicide?"
Piat sat down in his chair, no longer at the table, but up against the wall. He leaned his back against the wall and closed his eyes. "No. She was a nurse and caught a virus. They couldn't identify it. The strongest antibiotics had no effect. She died in 6 days."
"She found a way to escape you", Dragon yelled at him. "You gave her no choice. You vowed love & devotion, but instead you killed her as if you slid a knife into her breast. Someone was watching you two and led her away from you. She was lucky to have that assistance, to find a way, away from you. She couldn't do it on her own, she respected her vows. But now she feels only regret, maybe revenge. She won't leave you, she won't let you alone. I'm not sure we can find an escape for you."
He just sat there, leaning himself and his chair against the wall, closing his eyes as Dragon's words stung him. He had nothing to say. No defense. Maybe this was his escape from his dead wife. Maybe now she understood that he understood, he wondered.
Dragon noticed Elphi moving behind the counter, closer to the table. He knew she must have a reason for this, and he made no reaction.
"Tell me about your life now. Do you work? How do you fill your time?"
"I quit my job when my Anna died. I volunteer at the hospital where my wife worked. I talk to people, that's it. The doctor who treated my wife, and who was a good friend of hers, talked to me about it after the funeral. I asked there at the cemetery if there was something I could do to help the patients he treated. He and I talked for an hour. I think he must've had some idea of how poorly I treated my wife. And he wanted to make certain that I truly wanted to help, that he could trust me. For a while I was content, seeing the faces of the people I spent time with. Seeing how much they wanted to be with someone, not all alone in the hospital room.
"I was devastated when she died. I couldn't believe how much I missed her. I had always taken her for granted, I would take out my pain on her. Then she came and took out her revenge. It's been hell ever since."
Elphi moved to Dragon's side. He looked up at her. "It's true. He's a different man. I can't see his wife, but I don't know if we can help any further. I think he's on the correct path, and one day she'll let go." She looked up at the giant in the corner. "You're going to have headaches, you're going to have dreams. There's nothing any of us can do about that. It's like, penance. But it's necessary. To be able to get on with your life, without her intrusion, you must suffer first. Can you do that?"
Piat said simply, "Yes".
Dragon got up and walked over to the man. Together they moved out of the corner and into the shop, heading towards the front door. They had to move through the throng of customers that had been listening to every word. A few of them touched Piat, on the shoulder, grabbing his hand. He smiled at them and moved forward. At the door he handed Dragona a $100 bill. He hugged Dragon, and walked out the door.
Now the curious customers returned to eagerly perusing the shelves. For the next half hour both Dragon and Elphi were busy handling the purchases for those that witnessed the session with Piat. The customers seemed to want a piece of what they had witnessed. Dragon looked around and couldn’t believe how empty his shelves were becoming.
When the store had finally cleared out, they looked at each other in shock and relief. Alfie said, "okay, I say we need to have a session in here every evening. I don't think we've ever taken in this kind of money even in a week!” She headed to lock up the front door, and when there called Dragon over.
Elphi pointed through the glass door at a very tall man standing on the corner opposite the one the store sat on. Dragon stepped outside and watched Piat rush into the intersection waving his hands to stop vehicles in all direction. Then they both saw the small dog walk from behind one of the stopped cars and cross the street over to the City Park.