As with prior chapters, please click on the below YouTube video for the soundtrack. If the video is not visible below, please click here.
Annie hadn’t stated in her letter at what intervals James should open and drink the wines. He had toyed with the idea of consuming the second bottle that same evening but decided against it. He didn’t think that’s what his aunt had intended.
The next day, James’ anticipation level caused time to slow down; finally dinnertime arrived and he sped through his meal, consumed by thoughts of what this second bottle would bring.
Same time, same chair, thoughts of the prior evening running through his mind mixed with wondering if this was all a coincidence or if he was in for another wild dream show.
Picking up bottle number two, James twisted the top, broke the seal, removed the cap and poured. The wine was a brilliant garnet hue. Not opaque like the wine from the first bottle, this one shimmered with jewel-like clarity. The aromas of this one were different that the first, but no less lovely and no more identifiable.
Sip time. Mmm, this is good, he thought. He kept chewing the wine in his mouth, not wanting to swallow because of how intensely flavorful it was. But the anticipation of the next dream made him swallow, and then continue to swirl, sniff and savor. By then, James was so relaxed there was no way he could stay awake.
When does a dream begin? Are we ever aware of its beginning or do we just happen to pop in while the show is in progress?
Larraine sat across the table from James, both sharing the nighttime view of Crenshaw Boulevard through the windows of Holiday Bowl’s coffee shop. James had just dropped into this dream even though both he and Larraine seemed to know exactly what they were talking about.
“This is a dream,” declared James, laughing. “Holiday Bowl got torn down a few years ago so we’re sitting in a place that doesn’t exist.”
“I’m thinking the same thing, but here we are,” shrugged Larraine. “It doesn’t seem like a dream, though, does it?”
James was examining Larraine. She looked the same as when he had a crush on her during their high school days. He knew they had both grown a lot older but at the same time he knew this was how she looked now. Somehow that made perfect sense. He pretended to look out the large window facing Crenshaw while actually checking to see if he was young or old. The reflection was too vague, though.
“You know, I had the biggest crush on you back in high school,” James blurted out. Just exactly when was it right now? It felt like they were still in high school but high school was mentioned in the past tense.
Larraine smiled at him. “You were way too cool in your approach. I could never tell what you were thinking. Why didn’t you do something about it?”
“Too shy. I was worried about being rejected and looking stupid.”
Larraine shook her head. “And for that, there goes another novel that could have been.” She smiled and stuck out her tongue. “Did I ever make you feel like that would happen? You should have done something. All that time I thought you weren’t interested in me. All that time I wondered what was wrong with me.”
“Well it wasn’t you, it was me. I was too shy.” He pointed towards the cars parked along the sidewalk bathed in a bluish hue cast from the mercury vapor lamps lining the street. “One summer,” he said as he continued pointing, “Kenny and I had an argument over you.”
Larraine was curiously surprised. “An argument?”
“Yeah, an argument,” James told her, laughing. “We were arguing about who was going to ask you out. We sat in his car and all we did was go back and forth until 4 in the morning like a debate and we never did settle anything.”
“You guys are crazy!” Larraine rolled her eyes. “Over me? I’m flattered.”
“I kept telling him, what’s the point because he’s going back east for college and he’s never going to see you again so why waste your time and his time? I think by the end we decided we would saw you in half,” James said with a chuckle.
Larraine smiled. “James, why didn’t you just ask me?”
He became nervous. “And what would you have said?”
She answered with a question. “Who am I sitting with right now?”
James liked that he could steer the results in this dream. He kept hoping he wouldn’t wake up. He pondered the answer and then was dropped into another scene, same table, same Larraine, just at another time.
Larraine pushed the cup towards him. “It’s your turn to roll,” she giggled.
James took the brown cup, put his hand over its mouth, swirled and shook it, then tossed the two dice and let them roll to a stop on the table. A five and a four. “9 – he’s going to The Ozarks!” declared James.
“Gimme that!” Larraine snatched the cup, scooped up the dice and threw them back in. She shook it violently then let the dice fly. This time it came up snake eyes. She screamed, “No, he’s going to Okefenoke! See ya, Kenny!”
Neither of them could stop their boisterous laughing. Each roll of the dice sent Kenny to another far-flung place and for some reason it got more and more hilarious. He wished he had felt this comfortable with Larraine in high school. James kept laughing while at the same time observing the young woman across from him, hoping that this dream would continue.
When he and Kenny had sat in the car those many years ago – and that part had actually happened – he remembered staring out the window listening to Kenny make his arguments. James stared through the glass at the patrons dining inside Holiday Bowl’s coffee shop and wished he and Larraine were sitting at one of the tables, framed in the late night scene from Crenshaw Boulevard.
Larraine kept laughing as she pushed the brown cup back to James. Their eyes locked again and they laughed even harder. He picked up the cup.
Then the phone rang.
To be continued..
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