Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Case - Chapter Nine

Here's the ninth chapter in the continuing blogella (look in the archives for the previous chapters). It's very long, I know, but the rent is cheap here on blogspot. The YouTube accompanying soundtrack is in the video below. If you can't see the video screen, click here.





With the fax machine connected, James was ready to roll for the fourth bottle in the case of Zephyr wine given to him courtesy of his late Aunt, “Annie Annie.”

He went through his usual routine of having dinner, cleaning up, then settling back in his easy chair with the split-sized bottle of wine and a glass in front of him. In fact, he had turned this into a ritual by making sure he didn’t deviate from the steps he took from the time he prepared dinner to the time he opened the bottle of wine.

Unlike the first three bottles, James discovered the fourth bottle held a white wine. The bottles themselves were so dark that the fact wasn’t obvious at first, and he hadn’t bothered to look at them carefully until it was time to take them out for drinking.

While the prospect of an unchilled white wine wasn’t thrilling, neither was having to wait for it to cool down in the refrigerator, even if it was just for a little while. He opened it and poured.

Even before pouring, the fragrance from the wine wafted from the bottle and seemed to fill the entire room. A familiar feeling struck James and it took him a moment to place it: walking on a late spring or summer evening, surrounded by the wonderful scent of jasmine. That was the aroma pouring forth from the glass of wine sitting before him.

So powerful was this sensation that he kept swirling and sniffing the wine, wanting to keep savoring it rather than having it disappear by drinking it. Reflections from his college days of walking to the parking lot on campus after a long day of classes and studying came back to him. No matter how worn out he had felt, the jasmine-scented air was rejuvenating.

All these memories, thought James. Is this a preview of coming attractions for tonight’s dream? He wondered. He was torn between continuing to sniff and taking sips.

What the heck. The dreams would be there when he drank the wine. The aromas would then be gone. He’d have his cake and eat it, too, by relaxing in his easy chair and inhaling for a while. Then he’d get to the imbibing part. Tonight would be a double feature.

As James continued to swirl and sniff, he stared at a picture hanging on the opposite wall. He didn’t really pay any attention to the picture; it was just a point on which to focus his eyes while he concentrated on how nice the wine smelled. Soon, however, it was as if he were staring at nothing, his eyes not really seeing what was in front of him.

And there he was, walking into the local library with his friend Kenny. The same Kenny he had argued with over Larraine in his earlier dream. It was late in the spring sometime and the scent of jasmine was heavy in the air. They were going to the library because their high school physics homework assignment required some information that wasn’t in their physics book.

Inside the library they spied a couple of familiar faces. Two classmates who must have been doing the same research. “Looks like someone has done our work for us already,” Kenny laughed.

Karen and Elyssa didn’t look like they were working very hard on the assignment.

“Having fun?” James asked as they walked up to their table.

“Well hello,” Elyssa said, smiling at the two guys. “We’re finished.” She looked at Karen who just rolled her eyes when Elyssa pointed at the notes they had taken. “Here.” She pushed three books towards Kenny, who was now seated across from her. “Be my guest.”

“Shouldn’t we be efficient?” said Kenny. “You’ve already put in so much effort, it seems a waste that all of it should be for just the two of you. Don’t you think?”

“Yes, didn’t your mom tell you to share?” added James.

It was a warm night and the windows were open in the library. The aromas from the jasmine planted outside the windows permeated the room. James knew he sure didn’t feel like sitting there thumbing through a pile of boring physics books. The night outside beckoned.

Karen pulled the notes close to her and covered them up. “We already did the dirty work. What’s in this for us, huh?”

“We’ve got wheels,” Kenny said quickly.

“Wheels?” Karen and Elyssa looked at each other. “That’s a fair trade, I guess. Where’re we going?”

“We’ll figure it out,” said Kenny as he reached for the notes. “Let’s copy them quick and get out of here.”

While Elyssa went to the phone to let her sister know they didn’t need a ride home, James and Kenny hurriedly copied whatever they could from the notes taken by the two diligent girls. Karen sat there watching, trying to make them feel guilty but without any effect.

Elyssa returned and the four ventured out to the parking lot and got into Kenny’s car. “Where to?” the driver asked the others. They sat there for a moment pondering the question.

James spoke up. “I know – let’s go look for that ghost lady over in Chinatown. You know – the one that everyone says they see on that street – uh, what’s the name of it?”

“Avon Street?” said Karen. “You’re talking about the Avon Lady.”

“A ghost called the Avon Lady? What does she do – scare you into buying cosmetics?” cracked Elyssa. “You believe in that stuff? Oooohh.”

Kenny was skeptical. “Drive all the way to Chinatown just for that?”

“You asked where to,” James replied. “Where else shall we go? At least it’s an idea. I’ve heard people at school say they’ve really seen this woman or ghost or whatever.”

Karen spoke up. “I’ve heard people talk about it, too. They say she just appears in front of the headlights when you’re driving up the street.”

“So how do we get to this Avon Street?” asked Kenny.

“Let’s just go,” James said. “How hard could it be to find it? Chinatown isn’t a big place. We’ll just drive around until we get there. Let’s go see.” Regardless, he had wanted to get out of the library and into the night somewhere. Being inside, thumbing through massive books was far from his preferred list.

Karen and Elyssa were turning to look at each other and giggling. Kenny glanced over his shoulder and gave James a smirk which made them giggle even more. James, meanwhile, was actually curious and wondered if these stories had any truth to them but he felt pretty stupid with everyone else making sport of his suggestion so he kept quiet. Well at least we’re doing something on a Friday night, he thought.

“Whatcha gonna do if you see the ghost, Kenny?” laughed Elyssa. “You can’t run over her, you know. There’s nothing to run over.”

The foursome started out east towards Chinatown, glad to have somewhere to go on a Friday night. The lights from the open windows of the building faded in the distance and the night came into focus.

To be continued..

***

Here is the link to the Amazon CD product page for the music: Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road

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