Chapter 36- Nightmares

    " Nightmares bloom in the cracks between what dreams offer and what life provides.
    It’s dangerous to want something so badly you would sacrifice everything to attain it. An enlightened individual is one who recognizes when it is best to surrender and begin again, before the qualities that made the concept of such sacrifice worthwhile become compromised, corrupted or worse, destroyed.
    Naturally, the question to ask first is, is it ideal, real or a nightmare?

Robert King/JOURNAL

    Thunder startled me awake. I didn’t know where I was. The bed next to me was empty. The French doors were open.
    “I must be on tour.” I moaned.
    Carolyn stood in the doorway, wrapped chin to ankle in a thick, white, terry cloth robe. Her arms crossed in front of her, her hands at her shoulders. She stared out at the rain.
    “What’s going on Carolyn?” I mumbled.
    “Last night, after you left the table,” She said softly,
    “Yah, I remember leaving.”
    “Dominique called and asked me if there was something I wasn’t telling her.”
    “What did you say?”
    She turned. Her eyes were dark and shadowed.
    Lightning slashed the troubled sky.
    “I said no! What do you think I said?”
    “Why are you angry?”
    She shook her head. A slow tear trickled down her cheek.
    “I don’t like to lie King. Dominique’s my friend.”
    “Oh God Carolyn, Dominique is nobodies friend! Get off it!” I sat up and pounded the pillows. Bleary eyed I leaned back and starred around the unfamiliar room.
    “I can’t help it King. I’m loyal. I’ve got standards.”
    I looked at her. “What are you saying Carolyn? That I don’t?”
    “I’m not talking about you King. I'm talking about me.” She said, unmoving.
    “So? What’s to talk about? Dominique is paranoid, that’s all. She doesn’t know anything”
    She looked at her hands.
    “I feel like a femme fatale character in a romance novel.”
    She looked up. “That’s not what I am King. I’m just a simple, hard working girl trying to get along in a complex world.”
    "Don’t make life so difficult Carolyn.”
    She turned back to the window.
    “I know I’m not easy to deal with King.” She mused. “I have a strong, sometimes even bull-headed sense of myself and what’s right but it works for me.”
    “Works for me too.” I said and yawned. “I think you’re great.”
    She continued. “I’m honest I’m fair, I'm sincere, I work hard. I have sensible goals and realistic ambitions. I think I’m a pretty good person.”
    “That’s why we have such a good relationship.” I said.
    “Hah!” She said as she shook her head and scowled. “My choice of one word to describe the ideal relationship would be sex. Anything more only complicates my life, which was perfectly ordered until now.”
    She lifted her hands and shook loose her hair. Her robe fell open.
    She looked so luscious I almost grabbed her.
    “So I‘m just a sex machine?” I asked.
    She laughed cheerlessly.
    “You’re not that good King. Sorry. At least my vibrator doesn’t fuck up my whole life. You do.”
    “Gee, thanks.”
    “Life goes by King. I’ll be forty in a couple of months. I’m afraid I’ll die without having accomplished what I know I am capable of.”
    “You’re not going to die Carolyn.”
    She ignored me.
    “Motivated people have a hard time with relationships. All my life I’ve had to fight for my right to be what I want to be. I can’t give that up. I don’t want to give that up.”
    “So what do you want from me?” I said patiently.
    “What can you offer, and how can you offer it that makes what I want more possible? Right now you’re making it less possible and I can’t let that continue.”
    She sighed.
    I got up and walked over to her.
    Silver stitched her golden hair. I pushed it back and kissed her neck. Her skin pebbled where my tongue lapped the silky hair behind her ear. Her neck curved to my caress like a cat arching it’s back.
    “Isn’t that a little dramatic?” I said.
    She turned to me. Her breath was sweet.
    “Maybe it is but that’s the way I feel. You suck up a lot of energy King. We’ve been through a lot together, but what you want now is something else completely than what I signed on for, and the more I give you the more you want.”
    I caressed her cheeks.
    “So what do you want to do, go back to what we were before?”
    “If that was possible I would say yes but we’re past that point. I love you now. ”
    She pulled away. Her eyes were tormented and tear stained.
    She sniffled.
    “I don’t know what to do? I’m damned if I do and I'm damned if I don’t.” She said. “What would happen if Dominique found out about us?”
    “Listen, considering all the meat she’s tossed at me over the years why do you think she would even care?”
    “Because I’m not meat, King. I’m a threat. Dominique doesn’t deal well with threats.”
    Suddenly I remembered Camilla.
    That was a long time ago. I thought. Who knows if it was even true.
    I didn’t want to deal with it.
    “Listen, this is ridiculous.” I said. “You’re worried about nothing. She’s not going to find out anything. If she does I'll take care of it.”
    “You?” amazement filled her eyes. “When was the last time you ‘took care’ of anything, King? You’re the most taken care of person I've ever met.” She said as she wiped away her tears. “You’re pitiful.”
    “Well, at least you’re honest.” I said and climbed back in bed. “What do you want to do today?”
    “You have an appointment with a packaging agent in...,” she looked at her Rolex, “...two hours.”
    “Forget it.”
    “You can’t King.”
    “‘You can’t King.’” I sneered. “I can do anything I fucking want.”
    “Well I can’t! My job today is to get your packaging analysis updated and that’s what’s going to happen!”
    “Yes boss!” I saluted. “The babe’s got balls!. You make me sound like a box of cereal.”
    “Call it whatever you want but you’re going so get up and get dressed.”
    “Only if you take a shower with me.”
    “Oh God, what a girl has to do to keep a job.”
    “It’s a mans world.” I said.
    “Not for long.” She replied.

    He placed the bound, computer print out on the desk, like it was a sacred book.
    “We've got it worked out right down to the way you hold your hands. That’s on...page 36.” He glanced at his Rolex.
    I stared at the book.
    “But what if I don't want to hold my hands like that?”
    “Symbols analysis works, King.” The slick, capped toothed smily suit said. “We know what makes people respond. With our new program we can predict everything right down to the number of times they blink their eyes before they believe what you are selling them.”
    “It doesn't leave much room for improvisation does it?”
    He frowned at his perfectly manicured fingernails.
    “That's the X factor.”
    He looked up.
“Most of the time we feel better leaving that out, it makes it harder to forecast. Most clients want to know the bottom line, get the most bang for the buck, eliminate the unexpected, in that order.”
    He smiled.
    “I am the unexpected.” I said.
    He frowned. He adjusted his tie, and then, smiled again.
    “In your case, we can tweak the program.”
    “Why not just scrap the whole thing? I'll just wing it.” I said.
    He shrugged, sat down and leaned back in his oversized, custom made, orthopedic, executive chair.
    “It's your money.” He said as he leaned forward and reverently picked up the book.
    He looked at Carolyn, as if he hoped she would object. She was silent.
    “Right, it's my money.”
    We left the slick office.
    The rain had stopped. The sun fell on the immaculate shops and the line of curbed luxury cars like a shower of golden coins. The elegant, tree lined streets sparkled.
    I suggested we go for a walk.
    Carolyn nodded.
    “Yes men are so predictable.” I said.
    Carolyn didn’t say anything.
    We threaded our way among the aristocratic, designer original shoppers. In spite of the economic chaos that prowled like a barbarian outside the gates their ghetto of wealth and privilege was feeling no obvious pain.
    “The bottom line is whatever keeps the checks coming.” I said.
    She carefully inspected the elegant shop windows as we passed.
    “I don’t know why I bothered to come at all.” I said.
    She still didn’t respond.
    I finally lost my patience.
    “What’s the matter Carolyn? Mad at me?”
    “You’re so spoiled.” She said.
    “That’s it? I’m spoiled?”
    She stopped on the sidewalk in front of a bookstore. In the window was a pyramid of books. The huge banner that hung above it proselytized more of my bull shit.
    On the cover, of the luxurious, royal blue, hard cover volumes that faced us. It said in heavy, gold embossed script, PSYCHENETICS® /THE OPERATORS MANUAL-STAGE 2, Robert King.
    “No King, ”She said, “That’s not what I meant to say. What I meant to say is you’re so negative.”
    “Oh...” I brooded. “Maybe you should have stuck with spoiled.”
    We continued down the sidewalk.
    “Why are you picking me apart Carolyn? I went to the fucking appointment didn’t I? Against my better judgment I might add. I’m tired of being fucked with.”
    “It’s not just the appointment King. It’s your attitude. Sometimes I can barely stand to be around you. It takes all my energy to keep from becoming as cynical as you are.”
    “Oh really?”
    We stopped in front of a theater. The play-bill displayed a woman with enormous breasts. A scream distorted her mouth. The name of the movie was NIGHTMARES.
    “Except for the tits that’s the way I feel.” She said.
    “It’s that bad is it. Why haven’t you said anything before?”
    She sighed.
    “What good would it have done? Besides, before it was different. You were my job. I did what I had to do. I could keep my own sense of things separate. It’s not like that any more. What I am and what you are have gotten confused. Your negativity negates my positivity and I end up with nothing.”
    I didn’t know what to say. That kind of conversation made me nervous.
    “Do you want to go to the movies” I asked.
    She stared at the poster.
    “No thanks. My life is enough of a nightmare as it is.”
    The sun went behind a cloud.
    We went into a restaurant that looked interesting and sat down next to the window. The rain had begun again. It pounded against the glass as if it sought vengeance upon us for having escaped. I began to feel depressed. The only bright note was the once carefree, confidant shoppers who ran frantically for cover. Their perfect hair and perfect clothes and perfect lives were stained and disheveled. Their deluge induced frenzy to escape shredded their egocentric confidence.
    The waitress was slim and dark. She wore a simple white smock. Her green eyes glowed with a curiously disquieting radiance.
    “So what do you want me to do?”
    “Why not try to practice what you preach?”
    “What do you mean?”
    “You come up with the most beautiful concepts. This could be a real thing King, this UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF GLORY.”
    “It’s just a con Carolyn.” I said slowly. “That’s all it’s ever been.”
    “Well it doesn’t have to be like that King! It’s like love, it has to start with you. You created it. You can make it anything you want it to be."
    “A lot of people believe in what you say. The concepts really work, King. They’re not just lines in a romance novel. If you don’t believe in them, and in yourself, then you’re conning yourself.”
    “So you’re saying I should get religion?”
She shrugged.
    “Yeah, kind of. How can it hurt? After all you get to be God. That’s not a bad part.”
    “Believe in it. Right! The next thing that would happen is that the rug would get yanked.”
    “Trust has to start someplace King!” She said.
    Her face was so tranquil she looked like a saint.
    Her finger tips caressed my arm.
    “If we’re going to be together we have to have our feet on solid ground, not in the air. I like to fly but I can’t live there.”
    “Trust. What a nightmare.”
    “It’s not so bad King.”
    “Yeah, right.”