Vision is the art of seeing things invisible. - Jonathan Swift
Voici mon secret. Il est tres simple:"on ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux"(It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.)
Antoine de Saint-Exupery - from The Little Prince
* * *
I don't know exactly when it happened or most importantly how, but I came to the realization one day that I was invisible. To clarify, I am not speaking of the figurative sense either, like Ralph Ellison's lead character in Invisible Man. I mean truly, physically invisible.
It all began last week when I awoke to my wife searching the house for me. I slowly woke up as her voice rose through the halls, surprised I had slept so late, yet waiting for her to come upstairs and greet me. She had been out of town the last week on business, having taken her two children with her, and had returned that morning. She called for me and I answered, but for some reason I quickly found she was unable to hear me, so she called out for me again. I scrambled from the bed and rushed downstairs to her, thinking perhaps she was playing a game or a joke on me.
When I saw her, I immediately saw that she was frantic. She quickly sent the kids outside while she continued to look for me, or at least some sort of note containing my whereabouts. "Here I am sweetie, so happy to see you home," I said wearily, stretching my limbs as I walked towards her.
She didn't acknowledge me, laying down her things. She angrily grabbed her cell phone from her purse and punched the numbers quickly. "John, I have no idea where you are, I thought we had plans for breakfast. Please call me when you get this message, I'll have the cell," she said in a sarcastic chipper tone.
But I am here.
She got the kids ready and then left a few minutes later to take the kids to school. About a half an hour later she returned still looking for me. She called a few people for leads, but came up empty handed. "Damn it John, you could have at least told me you were going to be out," she groaned aloud, finally slumping down on the couch.
But I am here!
She might not have even noticed my absence on any other day. The thing is there are times when I am invisible to her anyway. Don't get me wrong, I know she loves me, but there are times when she is caught up in the other aspects of her life and career that I fade into the background. Being "gone" on the day she came back from her trip was very unusual for myself, though. Ever since our relationship had gotten to the point of inclusion in each other's day-to-day lives, I was always there to welcome her home. It had become almost routine, even. She would come home and I would take the kids to school. She would then be awaiting my return in the bedroom, letting me take the stress from her through a sensual act of making love.
"I am here, silly, do you not see me?" I asked, waving my hand over her unregistering gaze. "Come on, Gela. No more games, I am right here," I pleaded desperately.
Now was my turn to panic, the joke wasn't funny anymore and if I were simply dreaming, I was not waking up at all. I looked over her head across the room to the mirror in the foyer and only saw the reflection of her on the couch and...not me. I waved at the mirror, but there was simply nothing that was me reflected there.
At first I thought that I might have died and maybe I was some sort of apparition, but how did I die and where was the body? Besides I would have thought if a death was involved, I would at least remember something. I reflected on the prior evening and found no answers. All that came to mind was patting around the house in my underwear, sneaking a bit of chocolate ice cream, and then falling asleep to some movie on the telly. Nothing remarkable there.
* * *
The next few days were an absolute nightmare. It began with long waits for me to arrive from my wife -- which resulted in a worried call to the police -- and then her packing up and leaving to stay with family in Texas. She lamented to friend after friend on the phone as to my whereabouts, one moment telling them how angry she would be once she finally was to speak with me, to the next when she would fall to pieces, worried about what might have happened. It was torturous to watch and even more tortuous as she had to deal with telling Zoë and Travis and then Bean that Daddy had to leave and "do some things out of town."
Then I think that the next worst thing was the news reports. Every channel from the local affiliates to CNN to especially MTV broadcasted pictures of me and phone numbers for the public to call if they had any ideas as to my whereabouts. Of course from what I could gather from what people were saying, the only phone calls that were coming in were from either distraught fans on the verge of suicide or false leads from people seeking their fifteen minutes of fame. So there it was, night after night, Kurt Loder sneering about how “sad” it was that I was missing. I was truly in Hell.
The people then began to arrive one by one at the house; in the beginning it was mainly the Durans. Let in by the harried housekeeper, Simon was the first to come by. He sat alone in the living room as the reporters outside swarmed around the half exposed windows, vying for the perfect “grief” photo opportunity. Simon seemed too consumed with his feelings to even rise and close the curtains, but one of the detectives did for him, annoying the paparazzi and photojournalists. Sadly I was getting more press as a missing person than I had gotten in years. Even the sales of the merchandise on my website had apparently skyrocketed with usual rush of everyone trying to get a piece of you in the midst of a tragedy.
Nick was the next to come, accompanied by Warren. Nick had two bottles of wine in the space of a few hours and Warren simply paced around. Warren flipped through the channels on the telly, second by second, never ceasing until Simon’s voice finally bellowed over the chaos telling him to stop. Also that evening came Roger and Andy, arriving together like Nick and Warren, everyone seeming to naturally pair off except for Simon, the way it always was these days. In the past, Simon would often pair off with me, but since I’d left Duran, he seemed to often be an odd man out. It made him seem that much more alone sitting there on the couch, staring at the wall. Still, I had to almost laugh at the sad irony that this was the first time in many, many years that we had all been together in the same room and none of them even realized it. The tension was certainly in the air with old wounds and ancient arguments, but the circumstances that brought everyone there in the first place remained the main focus despite it all. Most times I would reel in the attention, now it only depressed me.
More police officers came and took statements from everyone, trying to see if I’d perhaps skipped town and one or more of them were in on it. There was obviously no evidence that suggested such, though, and honestly, I had hardly spoken to many of them in such a long time. I think I had spoken to Simon last and that was well over a month ago. The realization of this made me hurt even more. How had so much time passed that some of my oldest, dearest friends had now become strangers to me?
According to statements from my wife, the police verified that all of my belongings were in place, even the travel related items such as my shaving kit and my suitcase. Most importantly, out front, my car sat still parked in the driveway and my keys were lying on my dresser. Had I been abducted then? That was another concern, though there was no evidence of a struggle on the property and detectives combed the neighborhood for any more leads. It seemed to everyone that I had simply just vanished into thin air. Funny thing was, I basically had.
My disappearance quickly made international news and the fans began to flock from all over the world in a vigil outside the house. It was candles all night long and weeping all through the day and was actually pretty moving considering. Sometimes I would just sit with them, wanting to calm them and assure them that I was perfectly fine, just a bit…displaced? My heart would ache just watching them before me -- questioning, mourning. It was painfully obvious the effect that I’d had on their individual lives. I mean it is something I have always been pretty aware of, but never this intensely. As morbid as it sounds, I suppose I had often toyed around with the idea of what reaction would be like when I die. When I was stoned out of my mind I’d often wonder what the headlines might say or if anyone would even care. I suppose I underestimated things.
Then the anger started to set in. I cannot stand the feeling of helplessness and the whole situation had me wallowing, no make that drowning, in it. It is ironic that a secret wish I’d had many times had literally came to fruition. So many times, I just wanted to hide from all the public scrutiny and, in the past, the chaos of fame. That is a lot of the reason I moved to Los Angeles in the first place – it was fame more on my terms. Here no one really takes much notice of me. Actually, that is something that my ex-wife Amanda doesn’t like about this city and she often, because of that, makes the trek back to London to luxuriate in her press coverage there. Still in the supreme comedy of errors that is my life, in my invisible state, I found myself to be the most visible person in Los Angeles! John Taylor was the name on everyone’s lips, from talk shows to coffee house chatter. Wonders never cease.
Anyway, I was angry. I was depressed. I was absolutely, fucking terrified. I walked around my yard for what seemed like hours, cussing and crying, stepping through the pockets of fans, detectives, friends, and passers-by, until I reached a far point of the property. It was a quiet garden area where I often went to just think, meditate, or write. It seemed to be a vacuum as well for when I was upset, leading me out to its solace many a night when I’d be lamenting about the crisis of the week. I stood upon a large rock that I often would sit on and just let out a loud scream -- a primal scream. It was rather gratifying actually, a technique I’d culled from therapy for tension relief (and to say that I was “tense” would have been a great understatement). More importantly than any catharsis, though, was that just afterwards I was startled by a timid voice from behind me, “John?”
I turned quickly on my heels to see its source, seeing a young woman standing there looking at me with a rather confused expression. Her eyes were slightly reddened from recent tears and she grasped tightly to the strap of her purse on her shoulder, obviously nervous.
“Do you…see me?” I gasped.
“Umm…yes,” she replied, looking down and blushing a bit.
It was the first time that I realized, embarrassingly enough, that I was still only clad in the boxers I had worn to bed the night before this all began. I mean, I was able to actually see myself the whole time, but frankly I was a bit too distracted by everything else that was going on to take much notice. I reached up to my chin and neck, feeling the stubble growing there, and found myself now worried a bit about how unkempt I really looked.
“Where have you been?” she stammered, jolting me from the thoughts rushing through my mind. My heart raced, now consumed with excitement that all this drama could now end.
“Right here, luv.”
I hopped down from the rock, moving to hug this poor fan in my excitement. When I reached for her though, my arms passed right through her. The two of us gasped in shock. “Oh my God,” I groaned, holding my stomach as I immediately started to feel nauseous.
“What just happened?” she asked, her eyes wide.
“I don’t know anymore,” I whined, feeling the tears build again, trying to repress the rising sobs in my throat.
She slowly reached for me, her hands passing though my arm. She looked at her hand quizzically, “Are you…dead?” she gasped.
I sat down wearily on the rock, my hand on my forehead. “I…I don’t think so. I mean, I would know, wouldn’t I?” I whispered, closing my eyes tightly.
She sat down next to me, replying, “I would think so, but then I have never been in this sort of situation before. Do you remember anything that might have caused this?”
“No…I just woke up the other day and no one could see or hear me anymore. You are the first person that has seen me in days, I wonder if you are the only one…” I trailed off, rising and walking back towards the crowds on my lawn.
The girl followed behind me with reticence, but I was happy to have her behind me. She gave me solidity in this world of mystery I had dropped into. I held my breath, waiting to see the ecstatic expressions on everyone’s faces and the cameras snapping dozens of photos. Who cared if no one could touch me? At least they could now see me, maybe they would be able to touch me soon, too.
“Hey there, Christie,” one girl looked up from the book she was reading and smiled.
“Hey,” the girl behind me - Christie - replied.
I turned around and Christie looked at me confused, biting her lip. I leaned over the girl that was sitting, waving my hand in front of her face. She didn’t even blink.
“She can’t see me…they can’t see me!” I yelled, waving my hand to emphasize the group of kids sitting on the grounds who were completely unaware of my presence.
“I don’t know why,” she mumbled, looking at the ground, flinching a bit from my anger.
“Hmm? What did you say?” the girl who was seated asked Christie.
“Umm…I just said…I think I am gonna cry,” she replied quickly.
“Oh, sweetie, I know, we are all upset,” the girl assured her.
“I think I need to take a walk,” Christie said to her, walking back towards where we’d just come from, presumably where we could get some privacy.
“Where are you going?” I asked, following her.
“I just want to go somewhere where they don’t think I am looney for talking to an…apparition of John Taylor,” she whispered.
“Oh,” I answered, sitting down with her on a swing out of sight from everyone.
I just sat there quietly for a few minutes, burying my face in my hands. What else could I do or say? Every thing that I knew my life was I found passing slowly through my grasp and I didn’t know how far it was going to go before I would finally lose myself completely. Also, speaking of grasping, how was I able to grasp a doorknob and open a door or, for that matter, even sit on a rock or swing, yet be unable to simply touch somebody?
I pulled my hands from my face, raking my hand through my hair and looked over at my companion, Christie. “So, it’s Christie, is it? Don’t you live in San Diego?” I asked softly, trying to make light of the situation with small talk.
She laughed a little, “Well, I have been in San Diego to see you live, but I am from somewhere else, actually.”
“Oh…okay,” I replied, knowing I’d seen her before from somewhere, but also caught up in the memories of all the faces I’d seen, all running together in my head like some sort of collage.
It’s funny I suppose, I should remember more of them -- the fans, I mean. The way they follow me from city to city, always there like some sort of security blanket. It is a rather interesting dynamic when this large group of people knows you, yet you do not know them. Some of them stand out though, but even those few sometimes seem like strangers to me. Still, this stranger beside me would now have to become more to me. I needed someone to confide in or I was going to go absolutely insane.
I reached my hand out slowly to attempt to touch Christie’s arm, but, alas, it passed right through again. “Damn, I just don’t understand! If I can’t touch you, why am I able to touch anything at all? See, this chain? I am touching it,” I groaned, grabbing onto the chain of the swing.
“I don’t know, maybe you are trying too hard, or on the other hand, maybe you need to concentrate. It could all be in the perspective. You expect to touch the chain, sit on a swing, etc. -- but perhaps a part of you doesn’t believe that you can touch people,” she offered.
“Fuck, I don’t know,” I mumbled.
I looked at my hand quizzically. It certainly didn’t look any different, but then again, I didn’t feel different at all. I closed my eyes and concentrated, trying to remember what the feel of another’s skin was like, trying to just remember what it was like to touch someone. I slowly moved my hand back towards her arm and…passed right through it again. “Fuck!” I bellowed, clenching my hand into a fist.
“Maybe it will take time,” she offered, softly, trying to ease my anger.
“I don’t have time, I need things to get back to normal! I don’t know what is going on, but I want it to end, dammit! I want it to end!” I said, grabbing onto her arm in desperation.
I think it took us both a moment to realize that I was actually touching her and actually once we both did, my hand slipped through her again, now transparent as it had been. We both looked at each other, filled with shock, surprise, and joy. It was a hollow victory though. I couldn’t touch her again as I kept trying, but that one touch gave me hope. Perhaps the nightmare would be over sooner than it seemed.
* * *
“I should probably go, I am sure that my friends are getting worried about me. I just need to get back to them. Don’t worry, we are just camped out in the yard like everyone else,” she finally said after what seemed like ages of silence.
The sun was beginning to set and the excitement around the property was easing up, only to re-ignite the next day as it had every other day. “Please, come and talk with me tomorrow,” I whispered urgently.
“I promise I will,” she replied with a sweet smile.
I walked her back over to her friends who were, as she had feared, worried about her welfare. “Hey girl, we thought you’d gone missing as well!” one of them chirped.
“No…I just needed some time alone,” she replied.
“Good night, Christie,” I whispered.
She nodded slightly in my direction, so minimal that only I would have noticed. Good night.
* * *
I went back inside the house, slipping in behind a police officer as to not arouse any fear by opening the door on my own. The atmosphere was just as sullen as it had been when I’d left it, quickly reminding me why I had left to go out in the first place. The grief in the room hung like a heavy blanket, covering everyone and everything.
They all had waited, every one of them. I must admit I was a bit surprised. All of them had been at an arm’s length for the last few years, always being as pleasant as publicly expected, but still a bit false at times. I suppose I am just as guilty of it, but frankly it is difficult to not put on airs when the world expects you to be a certain way. Nick and I friends forever? Sure. Simon over at my house for dinner regularly? Whatever you say. Sadly things are not so picture perfect and many times, in the middle of the night, I feel as though I am the loneliest man in the world.
Nick had his head against a pillow on the arm of the couch, his eyes heavy lidded with weariness, drunkenness, or most likely a combination of both. Simon was in his cell phone, seeming to be speaking with his children, evident in the dulcet tone of his voice and the way his eyes sparkled just so. I was proven correct when he covered the mouthpiece and whispered to Roger that Saffie had drawn up a “missing persons” poster of me with her crayons and posted it on their front door. I was moved to tears.
Roger just sat flipping idly through a magazine, stolid as ever on the exterior, though his eyes conveyed his fear and concern. He seemed to, just like old times, anchor everyone in the room, as if everyone was on the brink of hysteria, but his presence kept it just bubbling beneath the surface. Andy and Warren shared a stifled conversation about technical guitar bullshit, neither of them letting themselves get too emotional about everything – Andy with the “short man” syndrome and Warren with his “muscle man” syndrome.
I sat with them for a while until each of them finally succumbed to sleep. I glanced at the clock, my eyes oddly able to see clearly without any visual aid. It was 4:30 in the morning. Years ago, when we’d all be together, we would still be awake at this time – usually well drunk or high, of course. Nowadays I am lucky to stay up later than midnight. Yes, early to bed, early to rise makes Johnny a happy boy…or something like that. In the low light of the room, I looked at the photographs on the mantle – my wife, my children, my parents. All of them seemed to be of another world now. It seemed that just when I was starting to get that whole family thing right, something had pushed it further from my reach.
I walked outside, opening the door as quietly as possible as to not wake or startle anyone. Outside the soft air of the cool Californian evening swirled around me, and the moonlight bathed the grounds, full of tents and sleeping bags, and the wind was full of the soft sounds of the breathing of all at rest. I slowly made my way over to see my new friend. She was in a semi-opened tent with three friends, barely stirring in a deep sleep. I sat down on the grass just outside her tent and watched her for a bit. A part of me was hoping that she would wake up. I know it was a bit selfish, but I was retreating more and more into myself and I needed somebody to pull me back to Earth before falling into oblivion.
It had always been that way, I suppose. It probably started as a child, when I would just sit in the corner of my bed and retreat from all my insecurities. It was safe deep inside myself, but even then I knew that it wasn’t entirely healthy. Still, I created my own little world in which to retreat into, a world that was later magnified by drugs and alcohol. The funny thing with celebrity is that oftentimes the public thinks of you as pretty well adjusted when it comes down to it all. Not to say that the public doesn’t usually see the vices – actually they often revel in them, keeping tell-all biographies flying off the shelves at bookstores – but lots of times they don’t see the insecurities. I, for one, am absolutely riddled with them, especially my shyness. That is what made me more prone to introvert and made me have to seek out alternatives.
Music was my first ally, pulling me out of the coma of my mind. It was safe, too, at least in the sense of playing and listening to it. I suppose that is why in some ways I decided to make it my life. Of course in my naiveté I didn’t see that was just the half of it. Obviously there is more to the music business than music.
“John?” I heard her whisper.
I opened my eyes, wiping the tears from them. “Oh God, I am sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you. I was just…I was just lonely,” I whispered back.
She unzipped her sleeping bag, crawling out of the tent. “Come on,” she whispered.
We walked quietly through the yard, until we were away from everyone again. I sat down on the ground, twirling the blades of grass between my fingers. “I really am sorry, I feel awful for waking you. I just can’t sleep, my heart is racing and my mind is racing. I can’t even calm myself,” I apologized.
She sat next to me, clad in a pair of pajama pants and a tank top. It made me feel a bit more comfortable with my obvious lack of attire. “Ssh, it is alright. You obviously have a lot of your mind,” she soothed.
“I just keep thinking that this is all just a dream and I am going to wake up, but I just won’t, you know? And this morning, I woke up invisible, what if I go to sleep and something worse happens this time? What if I just cease to exist or something?” I questioned, stricken with worry.
She sighed, “I don’t know, John. I am sure no one knows for sure, but the fact is you have to get some rest whether you are invisible or not. You can think more clearly when you are rested and perhaps once you get to that point, maybe you might be able to figure out what has happened.”
“And what if I don’t? I suppose you could sell the story to the Enquirer or something. ‘Invisible Rock Star Cursed to Walk the Earth Forever’ or some other nonsense,” I groaned. “Christie, I just want things to be normal again.”
“I know, John. I know.”
We both lay back against the grass, staring up into the sky. The smog of the city inhibited any real star gazing, but just lying there helped calm me. I don’t know how long we were there, I just remember finding it amusing that I was with someone for so long and not speaking. Still, it felt the most natural and I let the silence of the night wash over me. I was beginning to become sleepy finally, the exhaustion of the day finally taking its hold. I began to thank Christie for being there for me when I heard light labored breaths beside me and looked to see that Christie had fallen asleep beside me.
“Christie, luv, wake up. You should go to sleep in your tent,” I whispered softly in her ear.
She sat up slowly, wiping her eyes a bit, and then got up, almost as if in a trance, and walked back to where her friends were asleep. I followed behind her quietly to make sure that she made it back all right and then made my way quietly back into my house.
The only sounds inside were the ticking of an old clock downstairs and I felt as if I were walking in time with it up the stairs to my bedroom. There was yellow police crime scene tape throughout the room and around the bed, but I simply stepped around it, curling up on my bed. The last thoughts I had were wishes for the nightmare to end, but it was when I fell asleep that the nightmares really began.
* * *
I have always been a bit prone to nightmares, I suppose. Ever since I was a boy, I would wake up in a cold sweat, screaming. My Ma would always come rushing in with a moist towel and wipe off my face and hold my shivering body until I fell back asleep. She was always my anchor in those frightened moments, her soft heartbeat calming my own fast one. I remember that she would always hold me to her and stroke the nape of my neck to ease the tension of my weeping. It always worked without fail. Even years later I would try to get a girlfriend to do the same, it just never calmed me like she did.
This night was not unlike those, except I was left all alone to fight my demons. Over the years, the dreams had seemed to intensify with my past drug use, to the point where I would find myself doing more and more cocaine to stay awake and escape them. I got sober about four years ago, but unfortunately, the nightmares continued to be strong.
In this dream, as in my waking hours, I was invisible. It wasn’t a new feeling actually, taking me back to the halls of school, where I had always felt invisible. If the kids in the school noticed me, it was usually negative, causing me to run home with broken lenses on my glasses, a bloody nose, or just crying. It made me sink more and more into the background to protect myself, something I tried to use later in my adult life, but hiding from the public eye isn’t always so easy.
The dream actually began in my past, as I walked across the grounds of my grammar school. Children ran all around me, not noticing me at all as I approached the building. Once inside, I gasped a bit as the people in the halls were indeed the same people whom I had gone to school with, many of which I hadn’t thought of for many years. What surprised me most though, was the familiar laughter of my own daughter filling the hall. I looked through the crowd to see my daughter on the shoulders of a young teenage girl, a girl whom I had been greatly obsessed with when I was young, Sasha. I slowly approached them, calling out for my daughter Atlanta, but neither of them acknowledged my presence.
I got right up to them and they still did not see or her me. I began to yell, like I had done earlier when I was awake to try and be heard but there was still nothing. One of the boys around them, poked at them, asking, “You seen, Nigel?”
“Why would you ask me that?” Sasha replied.
“Seems to follow you around like a dog that one,” he chuckled, walking away.
“Well, he is a silly boy, that one, a silly boy!” she called out after him.
“Silly boy,” Atlanta echoed, with a giggle.
My heart sank. “Bean, time for dinner!” I heard my wife Gela’s voice from the end of the hallway.
I saw her standing in the doorway as Sasha let Atlanta down and she went running towards her. “My name is Atlanta!” she whined.
I ran after her, following them through the door into a room that was the kitchen of my house. In the kitchen, Gela was setting the table for dinner, the chair that I usually occupy blatantly empty. They all ate quietly until Travis asked when I was coming home.
“We don’t know, honey. It has been months,” Gela replied sadly.
“But I am here!” I cried, slamming my hands down on the table.
All of them looked around, seemingly shaken by the loud slam on the surface of the table, and then went back to eating as if nothing had happened. “Listen to me, I am alive and I am here!” I screamed.
None of them reacted.
I ran over and slammed the kitchen door. All of them looked over towards it, but again resumed eating unfettered. I began to tear apart the kitchen, screaming and crying, until I woke myself up. I shrieked loudly, tossing in the bed as the bright morning light burned my eyes. Police officers made their way around me, crawling over me trying to take notes. It frightened me even more than the dream, here I was screaming at the top of my lungs and the scene went on around me as if I didn’t exist. What was worse though, was that I had woken up to a new day still invisible.
I laid back, trying to calm myself, shutting my eyes to the murmurs filling the room. Christie. Thoughts of the fan I had met the day before flowed over me. She calmed me, even when she wasn’t present. I let myself fall back into the oblivion of sleep, this time thinking of Christie. I imagined myself going back outside to search for her. I finally found her at a nearby friend’s house taking a shower. I moved quietly through the house, still unseen by everyone, and found myself upstairs in the bathroom. I could see her washing her hair through the glass doors of the shower and I just stood there, waiting for her to finish.
I tried to divert my attention from her nudity and simply gazed at the patterns on the floor tiles. She finished her shower and came out. I was worried that I was going to startle her with my presence so I tried to adopt as innocent a look as I could and turned my back to her for privacy. I waited a few moments for her to acknowledge me. When she did not, I finally said, “I know that it is rude of me to be here, I just needed some company. See, I had this terrible nightmare and I just got a bit shaken up…”
She still did not acknowledge me, so I turned around. She was just there drying herself off, completely oblivious to me. “Christie? Christie, can you hear me?” I asked, now becoming a bit panicked.
She continued along as if I hadn’t even spoken. My heart began to race as I rushed over to her and tried to touch her. The strange thing was that I was able to! She jumped for a moment as I grabbed her arm, but quickly eased up, asking, “John?”
I tried to answer, but she still couldn’t hear me. I walked over to the mirror, still fogged up by the steam, and wrote, “I am here.”
She gasped, “Why can’t I see or hear you?”
I exhaled on the mirror to fog it up again, so that I could continue to write. “I don’t know, I am scared,” I wrote this time.
“But you can touch me?” she asked.
I walked back to her and brushed my palm against her cheek and she shivered slightly. I stood before her, taking in her beautiful nudity, finding myself compelled to touch her again. I stroked my hand through her hair and a soft moan escaped her lips. I felt my groin stir and almost as if in a trance, I leaned in to press my mouth against hers. The kiss was electric, a latent desire for her rushing through me as if a current. It was strange, I’ll admit, especially glancing past her in the mirror and only seeing her and not me in the kiss. I slid my hands over her body, caressing her soft skin, resting them finally on her breasts. She moaned against my mouth and I awoke with a start.
I sat up and looked around me to see the people still milling around me, taking notes with their mini-cassette recorders, still completely oblivious of me on the bed. My heart was beating madly in my chest and I could feel the flush of embarrassment and a hint of shame warming my whole body over the erotic dream I was having. My cock throbbed achingly against the soft material of my boxers, urging me to touch myself for relief from the heady desire pulsing through me.
There was something entirely bizarre about masturbating in front of a group of about ten detectives without them even having the slightest clue as to what was happening on the bed in which they were checking for evidence of my “disappearance.” Honestly, I thought I’d experienced about everything when it came to such situations, leading to an almost boredom over the last few years. I was certainly wrong. I let myself fall prey to the situation at hand (pun unfortunately intended), to the strange eroticism of it all. Flashes of my dream entered my thoughts as I stroked myself and I tried to will them away as they made me feel a bit guilty. It was no use though and my orgasm came quickly, leading me to call out as the intensity of it surged through my body. Still, everyone milled around me, unaware.
* * *
This time I went outside for real, hoping that the dream wasn’t precognitive in that Christie would be unable to see or hear me anymore. I blushed at the thought that the rest of it could happen as well, but banished it quickly as I made my way across the lawn to where she was.
She sat on the ground, facing away from me. She seemed pretty into a magazine on her lap, probably trying to pass the long hours of the vigil. I couldn’t imagine doing it myself. Sure, I queued for hours to meet some of my idols as a teen, but I doubt I would have had the stamina to wait for hours outside their home while they were “missing.” I was actually even a bit surprised that she hadn’t left to go home since she knew that I was out of danger, unlike the others. “Good afternoon,” I whispered behind her.
I startled her and she looked back with an embarrassed smile. “I think I am going to take a walk and stretch my legs, okay guys?” she said to her friends.
They waved her off and she got up and walked back to what was now becoming our prime “communication” spot. “I was worried you wouldn’t be here today,” I finally said, breaking the silence as we got out of earshot from the others.
“Are you kidding?” she began excitedly and then more calmly added, “I promised you I would be here. I am a woman of my word.”
“Well, I am glad that you are here,” I replied, sitting with her under some trees.
“I see that you are still invisible, are you alright? You look a bit pale and disheveled,” she asked.
I blushed a bit, worried that she would somehow know what I had been thinking about her just moments ago and what I had done as a result. I wasn’t entirely honest with her. “I actually had a pretty bad nightmare, it had me screaming when I woke up,” I replied, quietly.
“Oh, I am sorry…anything you need to talk about?”
“I don’t know, nothing really to say I suppose. It was just a magnification of my dread now that I am invisible. I guess I just really needed the reassurance that I could speak to someone. I have never felt so alone in my life,” I sighed.
“Well, I am here for whatever you need, okay?” she offered, shyly.
“Thank you. I mean, really thank you. You are about the only thing that is keeping me sane right now. I just…I really need to tell people I am all right. I would ask you to, but I know what sort of burden that would bring. People would probably think you were crazy, I mean, I know that I sure would. I just have to find a way to get a message to people…” I trailed off, suddenly remembering the part in my dream of Christie where I spoke to her by writing on the mirror.
“Do you have any idea how you might do that?” she asked, looking back at me as if she could see that the proverbial light bulb had gone off in my head.
“Well…I had this dream where I was communicating through writing and I mean, I think I could easily do that in reality. I seem to be able to touch inanimate objects without any problem, so I am pretty sure I could pull it off,” I replied, now excited by the prospect of speaking to others.
“That would be great!” she said with an enthusiasm that seemed to have dread lying beneath.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
She seemed a bit embarrassed that I had caught on to her mock excitement and stood up to walk away. “Wait, what is the matter?” I called out behind her.
She stopped and leaned against a tree, not looking up at me. “I am sorry. I am happy for you, I really am. I just…” she began
“You just are worried that once I begin to talk with others, I will stop talking with you,” I finished, her body language telling it all.
She sighed in defeat, agreeing with me. I walked up to her, standing in front of her. “Christie, look at me,” I commanded.
Her soft brown eyes looked at me sadly and for a moment I felt as if I were in the dream again and that I would kiss her, but I contained myself. “Christie, you have nothing to worry about, I assure you. You are my greatest ally right now and you have to trust that. I know you are worried, I am too actually.”
“You are worried?” she asked timidly.
“Yes, I worry that one day I will wake up and you will have left. I worry that I will bore the hell out of you talking with you incessantly like this all the time. I worry that…I worry that in the end you will see how really vulnerable I am. You are all I have right now.” And she was.
“You don’t have to worry, John. I will be here for you, no matter what,” she soothed, a reassuring smile spreading across her face.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
“So…um, who do you think you are going to try and speak with first?” she asked.
“I was just thinking about that actually…I think I might speak with Simon first. I need to speak with him, I think. He seems to be the most broken up of them inside,” I replied, waving my hand towards the house.
“How is everyone doing then?” she asked, shyly.
“Well, they are all in there, I am sure you know. I think the press is having a field day. Anyway, I can only tell you what I’ve seen; none of them are really talking about it. Andy and Warren seem to be the best off, hiding any worry deep within them. Nick…well, Nick isn’t doing too well, but he is…well, hiding it inside an excessive use of alcohol. Roger is just quiet about it all and Simon, well, he just seems to cry a lot,” I replied, a bit nervous about being so candid about my old friends.
“I am sorry,” she said.
“It’s okay,” I replied, running my hands through my hair, “I just want this all to end. It is so fucking ironic it takes such an incident to get them all together.”
I squatted down on the ground, wrapping my arms around myself. Human touch. I never imagined how much I would miss such a basic thing. There I was attempting to just hold myself, but it just wasn’t the same. I needed just a simple hug. I took in a deep breath, not wanting to succumb to the tears waiting to burst forth.
“Are you going to be all right?” she whispered, squatting next to me.
I began to concentrate intensely, reaching out to try and touch Christie’s hand. I kept my hand just hovering above it, willing myself to try and touch her. She patiently watched me, our breaths the only sound between us. My head began to ache terribly, throbbing like a migraine and I felt wetness on my lips and realized that my nose was bleeding. With a deep exhalation of breath, I grabbed onto her hand, surprising myself as I held it. Her soft hand was held in my own shaking one, the warmth of her skin almost sending shivers through me.
She looked at me surprised, seemingly frozen, and I held her hand until the pain in my head began unbearable and let go. I collapsed on the ground, gasping as I wiped my nose with my finger, seeing the droplets of blood there.
“Oh my God, are you okay?” she asked frantically, trying to touch me, but her hand passing through like it had before.
“I don’t know…everything is spinning, I don’t know,” I mumbled, everything becoming a blur.
“Um, um, try and lean your head back, that should stop the bleeding and then…oh god, I don’t know,” she stammered.
I smiled at her half-heartedly, “Don’t panic, luv, don’t panic. I think I am okay, just give me a moment,” I whispered.
I just laid there for a moment, a bit worried about my physical state, but actually more consumed with joy that I was able to make contact with someone. Was that the answer then? Could I only touch someone if I nearly killed myself in the process? What if Christie was the only one I could touch, since she is the only one that can see or hear me? My mind was spinning with questions and the answers seemed so far away.
“Did I touch you, or was it my imagination?” I finally whispered.
She smiled at me, “You touched me.”
“I don’t exactly know how, but, God…I cannot believe I actually did it again,” I sighed.
“Are you feeling all right?”
I sat up. “I think so, just exhausted a bit, actually. I cannot believe my nose was actually bleeding and my head…it hurt unlike any pain I have ever felt.”
Just then I noticed a tightness in my boxers and looked down to see that I was quite erect beneath them. I wasn’t sure how long I had actually had the erection, but I suddenly became greatly embarrassed. Christie followed my eyes and seemed to notice along with me. She blushed herself and then turned her head to the side.
I pulled my legs up to try and hide the obviousness of it. I cleared my throat, trying to change the subject. “Er, well then. I suppose I should try and go speak with Simon soon.”
“Um, yes, yes of course,” she replied, still blushing. “What are you going to do?”
“I am not sure yet, I suppose I am going to have to improvise. I just need to get him alone,” I offered.
“Yes, that should work.”
“Okay then, I will be back to tell you what happens,” I replied, trying to casually stand up, my erection easing up and softening.
* * *
I walked towards the house, still very embarrassed by what had happened, wondering if the strong exertion of will it took to touch her had in fact aroused me in some way. I suppose that it wasn’t that odd, I mean it made sense in some odd way. At least I had actually touched her, albeit it ended pretty badly, but I was successful! I still could feel the softness and warmth of her hand still as the time passed, perhaps it was my mind trying to hold onto that sensation of touch as long as possible. Still, I had to stop with my reverie and focus at the situation at hand: Simon.
It seemed almost destined as I realized upon entering the house that Simon was upstairs sitting alone in the bathroom, weeping. I made my way upstairs, knocking lightly on the bathroom door. I could hear him crying inside and him answer, “Yes?” I knocked again and he answered with a more agitation, “What?” I knocked a third time and this time I could make out a sigh and his footsteps approaching the door. He flung open the door, grunting, “What?”
I slipped in past him, watching his confused expression, as there was no one at the door. He called out to one of the detectives that was at the end of the hall, “Hey, were you the one knocking at the door?”
“No man, it wasn’t me,” the man replied and I could tell by the tone of his voice that he thought Simon might be hallucinating.
Simon shut the door, muttering to himself about how it was probably the detective and that it was sick for someone to be messing with him at such a vulnerable time. I watched him sit back on the covered toilet seat, resting his face in the palms of his hands. He looked terrible, his misery worn on him like a coat. I hadn’t seen him this upset in a very long time and it caused me to cry as well.
I contemplated on how to make contact with him without completely frightening him. For a moment I felt like a ghost, suddenly thinking that if they do exist they probably don’t mean to frighten anyone, they just have no other way to speak to you. I supposed that my first plan was to at least get his attention, so I knocked a hairbrush onto the floor.
He looked up, surprised by it, but seemed to blow it off and placed the hairbrush back on the sink. I knocked it off again, this time causing him to look up, a look of fear in his eyes. He slowly picked up the brush and carefully placed it back on the sink, this time watching it carefully. I then knocked it onto the floor again.
This time he jumped up completely startled, backing into the wall. I exhaled on the mirror, reminiscent of my dream, and wrote, “Simon, I am here,” in the condensation.
His breathing was heavy now, his arms up around himself and he was shaking. “John?” he gasped.
I grabbed a hand towel from the wall, Simon’s wide eyes watching it float across the room, and tied it to the door. It was an old signal of ours from days past. If there was a towel tied to the door between our rooms, then I had a girl in the room. If the towel was loose, then Simon did. It was a way I could show Simon that it was truly I that was there.
He gasped again, covering his mouth as tears rolled from his eyes. “My God, it is you, are you dead?” he whispered.
I exhaled on the mirror again. “Pen and paper. Talk. Keep secret,” I wrote, not trying to sound so enigmatic, but hating the shorthand I had to use on the mirror.
“You want me to get a pen and paper and not tell anyone?” he asked.
“Yes,” I wrote.
He rushed from the bathroom and I held my breath. Somehow I think I was more frightened than him.
* * *
He returned just a few minutes later, his face pale and his hands shaking as he held a notepad and a pen. He shut the door behind him whispering, “I don’t even think the others noticed, everyone is so self-possessed.”
He laid the notepad and pen on the sink and backed away, his eyes wide with apprehension. I picked up the pen and wrote, “First off, I am not dead, Simon.”
He stared at the pen intensely as I wrote and then moved forward slightly so that he could read what was written. “What’s going on then?” he stammered.
“I don’t exactly know,” I wrote. “All I know is that I woke up invisible a few days ago and that’s that.”
“You’re invisible, then? Why can’t I hear you either?” he asked.
“I don’t know, all I know is that no one can here or see me, no one save one girl.”
“There is someone who can see you?” he exclaimed, trying to quiet himself as to not be too loud.
“Yes, I don’t know if she is the only one, but so far that is what it seems.”
“Are you…are you okay otherwise?” he asked.
“I am fine, just frustrated as hell!”
He laughed, “Yes, I can only imagine you being unable to communicate!”
“Worse than death!” I wrote really big on the paper.
“So, who is this girl?” he asked. I could sense a bit a jealousy in his voice, but he valiantly tried to hide it.
“A fan, a fan outside. It is all pretty weird, you know?”
“Is she still out there?”
“Yes, she is, why?”
“I…I wanna talk with her,” he whispered.
“I just do,” he said indignantly.
“Its not like I can just lead you to her, there are tons of fans outside.”
“Lead me somewhere secret, there has got to be somewhere,” he pleaded.
I didn’t know why it was so important to him, but I could tell he wasn’t going to relent about it. “What, do you want to meet in the bathroom?”
“Ha ha, Johnny, no!”
“Okay, what about in the basement?”
* * *
It was rather interesting helping Christie sneak into the basement with the hordes of security milling about. Still, we had Simon ready for our knock on the other side to let us in as quickly as possible. I could sense the nervousness in Christie when I had proposed the meeting. Minus the horror stories always floating around, I had assured her Simon isn’t a difficult meeting. There was certainly a chance for flirtation as she was attractive and Simon never let such an opportunity pass, but overall he is just harmless. People actually think it is arrogance, even I did for a time, but as I got to know him much better over the years, I learnt it was actually quite the opposite. He was racked with insecurity.
“Christie?” he asked in a whisper, pulling open the door after she knocked.
She nodded in the affirmative, her body frozen at attention. “Go on, luv,” I whispered in her ear, trying to urge her forward.
Simon took her hand, seeming to also sense her apprehension, and pulled her inside so that they wouldn’t be caught.
“I am sorry,” she stammered, blushing.
“No worries, sometimes I have that effect on women,” he joked, winking at her.
“Oh God,” I groaned, causing her to giggle.
“Is John…with you?” he asked, his tone now becoming serious,
“Yes, he is right here next to me,” she replied, motioning to me next to her.
“You really can see him? And hear him?” his voice rose, full of excitement.
“Yes, just like normal. I don’t know why it is just me that can though,” she replied, glancing at me and then back at Simon.
“Where is he again?” he asked, looking all around the room.
“Just right here,” she replied, running her hand along where my back was, “next to me.”
He looked straight at me, his eyes seeming to desperately try and see me, but only failing. He reached out, his hand passing right through me, “I wish I could see him,” he sighed. “What does he look like right now?”
She laughed at his question, causing me to be a little embarrassed, and replied, “Well, actually he is standing here in boxer shorts and stubble all over his face.”
“And my hair looks atrocious I am sure,” I added.
“No, it doesn’t look that bad,” she countered.
“What? What did he say?” Simon asked, looking like a child wanting to be let in on a joke.
“He just thinks he hair looks bad, but I don’t think so,” she replied, almost matter-of-factly.
“But…he looks alright, doesn’t he? Healthy and all that?” Simon asked.
“Just fine, Simon, he looks great…he…well, he is even making faces at you right now,” she replied, trying to stifle another laugh.
“I am sorry, it is just too fun,” I said, standing eye to eye with Simon and making faces at him, as he stood completely unaware.
“Doesn’t surprise me,” Simon snorted, “I am surprised he isn’t out looking at girls naked in the shower.”
“Who says I haven’t been?” I joked.
“John!” she scolded, swatting at me.
“What did he say now?” Simon asked, enthusiastically.
“He said who’s to say that he hasn’t been,” she replied, rolling her eyes at me.
“Yes, that is certainly ole Johnny boy,” Simon mused. “Anyway, on a more important note, I had a brain wave while waiting for you two,” he added.
“What?” both Christie and I exclaimed simultaneously.
“Well, I was just thinking that if John cannot touch people, but he can touch inanimate objects, can inanimate objects touch him? I mean, if I throw a blanket over him, with it fall to the ground or will it conform to his shape as if it were just covering him?” Simon asked.
“That is an interesting point, I hadn’t even thought of that,” I replied, Christie repeating what I said to Simon.
“Well, let’s test the theory, I snuck a sheet down here to try it,” Simon said, walking over to pick up a white sheet from a table.
He unfolded it fully and asked, “Okay, you said he is right in front of me, right?”
“Yes,” Christie replied.
“Johnny, be sure to bend down a bit so when I fling this thing it can cover you easier,” Simon said. “Alright, are you ready?”
I nodded my approval to Christie and she replied, “Ready as ever.”
Simon then tossed the sheet over me, his theory actually successful! I stood up slowly, the sheet caped over me like a Halloween ghost costume. “Oh my God,” Simon exclaimed.
“I can’t see a bloody thing, I need eye holes!” I exclaimed, unable to see anything but the faint light through the sheet and the shadows of Christie and Simon next to me.
“Do you have any scissors, Simon? John says he can’t see anything, he needs eye holes,” Christie asked Simon.
“Er…yeah, I do actually,” he replied, rustling through some stuff for scissors. “Does John mind if I cut up his designer sheets?” he added, joking.
“No, tell him I don’t care,” I laughed.
“How do I know where to cut?” Simon asked, now close to me.
As soon as he asked, he had lightly brushed the fabric of the sheet and gasped at the solidity of it. It seemed that though he could not touch me flesh to flesh, he was able to touch me through the covering of the sheet. He rested his hand against my chest through the sheet, caressing my chest and arms through it as if he were a blind man. “This is so bizarre,” he breathed.
He moved his hand up to my face, cupping my jaw and then lightly running his fingertips over my whole face. “Tell him to not poke my eyes out,” I told Christie, getting a little uncomfortable with Simon’s affectionate caresses.
“John said to be careful not to poke his eyes out,” she echoed me and I felt the sheet lifted a bit and the slicing of the scissors to make two holes for me to see.
“I do hope that is okay, Johnny. It had to guess exactly where to cut,” Simon said, now in my view.
“Tell him, he did perfectly actually, I can see just fine,” I said, looking down at myself, now a floating mass of a white satin sheet.
“You know what this means, don’t you?” Christie asked excitedly.
“What?” Simon asked.
“We could probably put clothes on John like in ‘The Invisible Man’ and he’ll be visible…well, somewhat,” she replied.
“You know, she’s right,” Simon said, looking me up and down.
“Simon?” I heard Warren’s voice call from upstairs as he opened the door to the basement.
“Oh shit,” Simon whispered, pulling the sheet from me and urging Christie into the corner to hide.
“Simon, are you down there?” Warren added.
“Uh, yes, yes I am,” Simon stammered.
Warren came down the stairs into view, “Simon, what on Earth are you doing?”
“Nothing…I just…I came down here to think,” Simon replied.
“Well, we are going to order some Chinese, you want some?” Warren asked, looking at Simon
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll be up in a minute,” Simon replied, waving him off.
Warren went back upstairs and Simon rolled his eyes in annoyance. “I suppose I should get back up there. Tomorrow we can meet again though and I’ll bring a full set of clothes to see what comes of it,” Simon said, looking in my general direction and at Christie as she came out of the darkness of the corner.
* * *
The plans were laid for the next day to meet with Simon again and later that evening I again made my way back upstairs to my bed. That night my sleep was equally as restless and I found myself still plagued with erotic thoughts of my cohort, Christie. I couldn’t explain it, I mean, there was no denying that she was an attractive woman, but I felt inexplicably drawn to her somehow.
The next day, these fantasies and feelings were to come to manifestation. It all started innocently enough. Simon brought me an overcoat, some gloves, and a hat and I put them on, looking rather like a Herbert. He had ranted for a while about how Warren had left so abruptly that morning and that Nick was soon to follow. The conversation ended when I simply could take no more of Simon’s negativity (he can really be a diva when he wants to be) and made an excuse to go off alone with Christie, sans the clothing of course.
“Are you alright, you seem pensive?” Christie asked quietly as we made our way to our spot in the yard.
“Uh, yeah…I…uh, just have a lot on my mind I guess,” I answered, a bit distracted.
“Anything you want to talk about?” she asked, sitting down on a rock and pulling her knees to her chest.
My eyes rolled across the supple skin of her calves and the light color of her flesh. My heart began to race and I tried to punctuate my erotic thoughts of her with more platonic ones, but it was like there was a spell being cast and I was helpless to its hold.
I reached out and brushed my hand against the sleeve of her shirt, feeling her beneath the material, knowing this was the only way that I could touch her in this form. “I just feel…very alone right now,” I whispered.
She smiled shyly at me, her body obviously shivering as I stroked her arm through her sleeve. “Its okay, I can keep you company as long as you need,” she offered, barely looking me in the eye.
“Thank you, Christie,” I whispered, tipping my head so that I could have eye contact with her.
Her deep brown eyes looked back at me, full of dark desire and affection, and I felt myself moving towards her and my lips lightly touch hers. To my amazement, there was actually a physical connection and I found myself moving deeper within the kiss. I could feel her sigh as her tongue tentatively touched mine and I moved my own tongue against her, tasting the sweetness of her mouth.
I rolled my tongue softly over her bottom lip and she moaned, “Oh God,” and the spell was somehow broken. I was unable to kiss her anymore and I shook my head as if waking up.
I pressed my fingers to my lips, still feeling the wetness of her mouth there, and said in a panic, “I...I am so sorry! I don’t know what came over me!”
She looked back at me, her eyes carrying her shock and a twinge of disappointment before her guard came back up and her eyes were solid and impenetrable. She bit her lip and looked away, “It’s okay,” she whispered.
“Christie,” I said urgently, grabbing her arm through her sleeve, “You did nothing wrong.”
There was a long silence before she finally answered, “I feel like I did…you recoiled from me as if I was a leper.”
“No, no, you are far from being a leper!” I countered.
“It’s okay, I should go anyway,” she said, still not looking at me as she stood up and began to walk away.
I stood there frozen for a moment before I started after her. “Christie, wait!” I called out from behind her.
She stopped and I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her to me. “Don’t leave,” I whispered.
* * *
What was I doing? It seemed that ever since I was put into this dreadful state of being, I had changed more than physiologically. My emotions were spinning out of control and I felt as if I was slipping away from all sanity. I could not control thought or even any action. Attraction. Like a moth to a flame, it was. I was overwhelmed with attraction for this girl Christie.
It made no sense on the level of logic. I was a happily married man to a woman whom I loved very much and children that I loved even more. Still, I found myself drawn to her, thinking of her almost incessantly. Perhaps it was because she could see and hear me and I was somehow confusing those feelings of elation with desire.
When I slept that night, my dream affected me more than any of the other nightmares I’d had since the whole waking nightmare had began. In the dream I was walking through the yard, though now it seemed empty of the legions of fans, but strangely it was full of noisy conversations of unknown origin.
“Mr. Taylor?” I heard one ask near me and I turned around, looking for its source and seeing only nothing.
“Excuse me, John? May I have an autograph?” I heard the same voice ask and spun around looking again for the person speaking to me.
“What?” I asked, bewildered.
“An au-to-graph?” the voice repeated, stretching out the syllables as if I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
I began to walk quickly through the yard, the chattering rising around me, most of it mocking whispers about me. “God, he’s rude,” “I cannot believe he’s snubbing everyone,” “I came all the way out here to meet him just for this?”…
I went to the far space in the yard, the place that had become my new sanctuary of my alone time with Christie. I lay back on the grass, letting the scent fill my nose as I tried to calm myself.
“The fans, they are the ones who are invisible,” I heard another woman’s voice whisper in my ear.
“Huh?” I asked, sitting up quickly.
“The fans are the ones who are invisible,” she repeated.
“I…I don’t understand…” I stammered.
“Yes, you do. You understand. They are there but you do not really see them. They speak but you do really hear them. You come into their lives as reality, but are you actually real with them? Yes, you walk the rope of telling them more about yourself than they may even need to know, but you also hold yourself away from them,” she whispered, almost harshly.
“I disagree! I am there for my fans!” I countered.
“When its convenient. You don’t remember her, do you? Of course you don’t,” she argued, her voice beginning to seethe with anger.
Who did this voice belong to and how did I make her so angry with me? I tried desperately to place her voice in my memory, but came up short. I concentrated on the way she spoke and only came up with feeling and not a clue as to whom she was. There was anger in her voice, indeed, but there was also hurt. Had I hurt this person in some way?
“Close your eyes,” she commanded.
“Close your eyes…close your eyes so that you can really see,” she repeated.
I closed my eyes and saw bright flashes of light and then a bus. It was the tour bus for my band from the last tour. Around me were the crew and the band and, even stranger, there was also me. It was a bit disconcerting watching my own self before me, but it was clear I was here for a reason, so I put those feelings aside as best I could. I concentrated, trying to listen to the conversation. The jumbled words finally came together in pieces. They (we?) were simply discussing the rehearsal.
“What is this about?” I asked, impatiently, taking note that no one noticed me there.
“Just watch,” she whispered.
“Why can’t I see you?” I demanded.
“Because you never saw me before, why should you see me now?” she said curtly.
“Just watch,” she repeated, more firmly.
I watched myself and a few of the band members glance across the way and snicker slightly and then resume speaking. I looked over to see what they were looking at and saw a group of four girls. What stood out most for me though was that Christie was one of them. I watched them whispering frantically to each other and watching the band intently. The other me turned and looked at them again briefly and they waved over at me, but I turned too quickly to even acknowledge it.
I watched my other self then walk quickly towards the bus and get on it. I saw the fans move towards me, but then they stopped abruptly once I got onto the bus. I saw the disappointment flash in their eyes and for a moment felt the pang from the times when I was a kid and had the same thing happen in the presence of my own idols.
I walked over to Christie and her group of friends. She put her hand to her head and in a sigh said, “God, I just wish he would notice me.”
“He notices, Christie, he was just busy,” one of her friends said.
“I know, I just want him to really see me and hear me, sometimes it is like he isn’t even paying attention,” Christie said with another sigh.
“I pay attention! I just…I was just very busy!” I countered.
“Busy doing what? Busy stroking your own ego?” boomed the voice of my tormentor.
‘Who are you? I must know!” I screamed, now becoming overwhelmed.
“Who I am is not important, it is what is going on,” she replied.
“So…so, this is revenge then? Revenge for being an unsociable pop star?” I stammered, crossing my arms over my chest.
“If that is all you think this is, you may just never know,” she whispered.
I woke up in a cold sweat, shaking, and my heart was racing. Christie was lying asleep next to me in the grass. She did not leave as I had wished and stayed with me throughout the night. She seemed to sense that I was troubled and now that seemed an understatement.
And what of the dream? Was it even a dream or was it something more? It was more lucid and vivid than any dream I had ever had, as if it had really happened. If it was real, who was this woman, this entity, who was tormenting me? Did she really exist or was she some odd manifestation of my subconscious?
I looked at Christie sleeping peacefully next to me, her hand curled at her mouth and her chest rising and falling slightly with each breath. Was the scene of the dream with her something that really happened? If it happened, when and where was it? I couldn’t recognize the surroundings enough to know. Most importantly though, do I need to apologize to her?
* * *
I was too afraid to go back to sleep, still shaking from the nightmare I’d just had. I strained to remember Christie from any previous experience to try and see if my subconscious had simply been playing some sort of trick on me. She did look familiar, but then a lot of the fans do most times. Sadly, lots of them are just a blur to me. It is not out of disinterest either, ironically, it is more out of insecurity on my part. When I am on stage, it is hard for me to look at them out of fear of their gaze carrying a harsh rejection of me. Then when I meet them, sometimes I am just overly concerned with whether I measure up to their preconceived fantasies of me, that I am barely paying attention to them.
Christie stirred next to me, sleepily looking over at me. I was just lying there, staring up into the sky. “Are you alright?” she whispered.
I rolled over to look her in the eye, biting my lip as the feelings from the dream came rushing back. “Christie…Did I…Have I ever treated you…badly?” I stammered.
Her eyebrows furrowed, studying me for a moment before replying, “What do you mean?”
I cleared my throat, trying to figure out how exactly to express what needed to be asked, to quell the questioning within me. “Er, you know, perhaps ignored you or something?”
Her eyes widened a bit in surprise and I saw her throat move as she swallowed. “You mean like recently? You have paid a lot of attention to me over the last few days…” she answered, trailing off, the tone of her voice slowly peeling away the layers of the truth.
“Well, I mean…before that. Before the whole…experience occurred,” I clarified.
She took in a deep breath and then exhaled slowly. “Yes, I mean, sort of,” she replied timidly.
“Christie, you can be honest with me. Did I…Did I ignore you once when you were trying to meet me?”
“What? How did you…?”
“You were with some friends and waved at me, but I didn’t acknowledge you.”
“Uh, yes, you remember that?” she asked, shifting uncomfortably next to me and sitting up.
“I need to go,” she said firmly, standing up.
“I just need some space,” she added, walking away, seemingly bewildered.
I think that things began to go somewhat downhill right at that moment. Yes, I can actually pinpoint it as being right then. I didn’t have the strength to get up and follow her as she walked away, nor did I have the voice to call after her. I just simply sat in the grass, moist from the morning dew, and watched her slowly walk away into the red haze of the sunrise.
I laid back in the grass again letting my emotions wash over me. I didn’t know how to feel actually, but it all had seeped beneath my skin. My therapist, Marisa, would certainly chastise me for it all, I am sure. She was always trying to wean me from letting the fans get to me, or get to my self-esteem, more precisely. In my state of invisibility, I was living a social nightmare. It was a big contradiction. On one hand, I was invisible and thus being ignored which was certainly chipping away at my confidence, but I was also able to breathe a bit more as I was able to float amongst everyone without being bothered.
The tears rolled down my cheeks as I let sleep take hold of me once again. I fought it for a while, afraid of what my subconscious would throw at me this time, but finally succumbed out of exhaustion. Thankfully the dreams weren’t very substantial, only brief and fleeting recollections from when I was a music-absorbed teenager meeting my own idols probably spawned on by the whole situation. The bright rays of sunlight breaking through the trees was what woke me up and I felt my heart sink for a moment when I realized that Christie had not returned. A part of me wished that whole encounter had been a dream as well.
I got up and slowly made my way across the yard, heading towards the fans that were also awakening and chattering in the late morning. I think that I was on some sort of autopilot as I moved towards the small plot that had sufficed as Christie’s home for the last few days. She was not there and I felt myself panic a bit at her absence. I sat beside her friends, listening to them speak about all sorts of subjects, listening a bit more intently as they began to speak about my last tour.
“Good thing he seems to have gotten rid of the tuxedo pants!” one laughed.
“I liked them!” another pouted.
“Yes, but I began to wonder if they were going to walk away themselves by the end of the tour!” the first one said.
“Can you believe he’s got blonde bangs again?” another one asked, rolling her eyes.
“I think he’s having a midlife crisis!” the girl who hated my tuxedo pants replied.
I zoned out a bit after listening to them for a while, greatly hoping for Christie to return and trying to deal with the fans teasing me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I could sense that they meant no harm, but at that moment, I didn’t need an ego bruising. When a good deal of time had passed, I began to worry.
It occurred to me that if I could touch someone with enough effort, perhaps I could make myself heard as well. I took in a deep breath, concentrating as hard as I could, and then leaned over to the closest girl. I whispered just by her ear, “So, where is Christie then?” and prayed that I was heard.
I watched her furrow her eyebrows and then ask aloud, “Where is Christie anyway? I haven’t heard from her all day.”
I took in a deep breath, wiping the droplets of blood from my nose from my exertion. It had worked.
“She’s up at the Days Inn on Sunset, remember?” one of the girls replied.
Days Inn on Sunset. I knew that a lot of the fans were shuttling back and forth from there, getting showers and such, and then returning to their vigil outside the house. I had to see her, it was as if something was propelling me towards her. I snuck in the back of a van of kids heading over there, hoping that I’d at least find her somehow when I arrived.
I waited nervously in the lobby, trying to figure out where she was within the building and if she was even there. Finally I saw someone that I recognized as being a friend of hers and rushed to their side. “Go to Christie’s room,” I urged with a whisper.
She paused, contemplating my words, and then began to make her way towards the elevator and upstairs. I did not know if she was actually bringing me where I needed to go, but I held my breath in hope. I kept whispering “Christie’s room,” in her ear, the blood now flowing copiously from my nose and my head throbbing with intense pain. I held my hand to my nose, trying to catch most of the flow, eerily reminded of my past coke binges where I was living in constant fear of my nose bleeding in public or on film. I needed to get there though, it was as if it were some overwhelming challenge I had to face.
The girl I followed seemed to be almost in a trance as we made our way past the expanse of doors on the third floor. She stopped in front one quite a ways down. 318. “Now go on then,” I whispered. “Your friends need you.”
She sighed a bit and then left me standing alone at the door, going back towards the elevators. I looked down at myself, especially my bloodied clothing and hands, and groaned at how awful I must have looked. I leaned against the wall just outside the room for a moment, trying to recollect myself and calm myself. Soon my nose stopped bleeding and my headache began to ease up.
I moved in front of the door, stretching my hand over its cool surface for a moment, before pulling it back to knock. I stood there almost paralyzed hoping that I was actually at her room and that I could see her. The thing was, I was losing myself mentally as well as physically. If I didn’t have someone to acknowledge me and coddle me, then I would just fade away completely. I needed Christie desperately to pull me back from the oblivion.
The door opened slowly and standing before me was Christie…wearing only a sheet wrapped around her. For a moment, it didn’t even occur to me. I suppose I thought that maybe she had been sleeping or that she was about to shower or something. No, it was a rather harsh reality check.
“John, oh my God, are you alright?” she whispered, looking me up and down.
“Now I am,” I asked, taking a step forward towards her, but she held up her hand to stop me.
I looked at her quizzically, “This is not a good time,” she whispered.
“Not a good time?” I asked in an almost whine, suddenly becoming aware that I was trembling.
“Darling, who is it?” I heard a voice call from behind her -- a man’s voice.
She bit her lip and looked at me and then called back over her shoulder. “No one important, I’ll be right there.”
“No one important?” I bellowed, feeling as if she had clocked me, or something. I was suddenly welling with anger and hurt.
“John, just go. This is not a good time,” she whispered harshly, avoiding eye contact with me.
“But Christie, I…I need you. I need you, I am falling apart,” I begged, lifting my hand to wipe away the tears that had begun to fall from my eyes with the back of my hand.
“Christie? Are you coming back to bed?” the man called from the room.
“In a minute, Arthur,” she replied.
“Who is this Arthur, anyway?” I spat.
“John, not right now, okay? I’ll talk with you later, I promise,” she replied.
“Now, I want you to talk with me now!” I whined, but she closed the door on me before I could even finish my sentence.
I slid down the length of the door to the floor, staring at my shaking, bloodied hands. I could hear the two of them speaking from underneath the door and sat there crying and listening to their conversation.
“Who was that, luv?” I could her him ask. He was English, from Oxfordshire perhaps?
“It wasn’t important,” she replied quietly.
“Aw, you look so sad, let me cheer you up,” he said and I just knew that they were kissing.
I just sat there, pulling my knees to my chest and laying my head upon them as I listened to the soft sounds of the two of them making love. I was equally repulsed and aroused by what I’d heard. Still with each moan, each groan, I found myself getting more and more angry. It was all stupid really as I look back, stupid and selfish, but I was in such a state at that moment, it wasn’t as if I were being logical by any means. When my anger peaked, paralleling their own peaks of pleasure, I burst into the room.
I slammed the door and Christie’s lover, Arthur, looked around bewildered, unable to see me. Christie glared at me, lying on the bed barely covered by the sheet, her breasts exposed and still patchy red from their love making. “John, what are you doing?” she growled.
“What does it look like?” I replied, walking around and knocking things off the table.
Arthur looked around with a look of fear and confusion in his eyes, “What is going on? Who…where is this John?” he stammered.
“John, stop it!” she yelled, her voice wavering with its own hints of fear.
“Why should I?” I replied, tossing things across the room.
Arthur watched the chaos helplessly, completely petrified by what was happening, I am sure. “Whatever or whoever you are, don’t hurt her!” he commanded, pulling Christie to him.
“Aw, isn’t he sweet? Quite the dashing hero, eh?” I said to Christie, flipping the light switch on and off. “Ooh, isn’t this fun?”
“That’s it!” Christie yelled, wiggling away from Arthur and grabbing a shirt and shorts from the floor. She tugged them on angrily and marched towards me. “Come on, we need to talk!”
“And stop this?” I asked sarcastically, knocking one of the chairs backwards onto the floor.
“Yes,” she grunted, opening the door and glaring at me until I followed her.
We went away from most of the rooms for privacy, Christie leading me. When she felt we were in a decent enough spot, she turned on her heals and swung at me, her fists passing right through me. Her eyes were filled with tears.
“Hey, whoa, whoa,” I said, backing from her.
“What the hell was that in there? Can’t you give me any peace?” she whispered, beginning to sob.
I leaned against the wall, crossing my arms over my chest, regarding her. “I am sorry,” I replied, the full impact of what I had done finally hitting me.
“Why did you do that? Why are you even here?” she asked exasperated, pressing her palm against her forehead.
I looked down, “Like I said, I just…I just needed you. I needed to be with you.” I was feeling smaller by the instant.
She sighed, “I know, I should have been there for you, but…it wasn’t the best time. I am going through a lot right now.”
“Because of me?”
“Well, yes. I just needed some space away from you to sort some things out,” she replied.
“So you fucked that guy then?” I said, my hurt feelings rearing their head.
She groaned, rolling her eyes, “John, am I not allowed to date anyone then? Am I to just be alone and only worship you?”
“John, Arthur is my boyfriend and he has been for some time. What you did to him was terrible, what did he ever do to you?” she asked, angrily.
“He, uh…he,” I took in a deep breath, “he was with you.”
“What are you saying?” she asked, taken aback. Indeed, what was I saying? It was a feeling that I had never said out loud until then, but somehow felt so right to say.
“I was jealous, okay? Did our kiss mean nothing to you?” I asked, now wringing my hands in nervousness.
* * *
“What?” she looked at me bewildered.
It had been frightening to admit what I was feeling out loud, especially to her. Still, though somewhat meekly this time, I repeated myself, “Did our kiss mean nothing to you?”
She leaned against the wall, her hand to her forehead. She sighed heavily, “Of course it did, John,” she replied not looking at me, but instead straight ahead, “Things are just complicated.”
“You don’t think I know that? You don’t think I suffer every minute from that? Christie, I am a married man and up until a few days ago I thought everything in my life was picture perfect. Still, here I am and I cannot get you out of my head and more and more I see the cracks in my relationship with my wife. It took me to become invisible to see that I was already invisible to her.”
“John…you are just upset because of everything. As much as I would love to believe that you are completely enamored with me, I honestly think that you are just clinging to me because I can see and hear you. In your mind, you need to be seen by someone else to be visible and you need to be heard by someone else to really be heard,” she accused, now looking at me sadly.
“I don’t think that is true at all!” I countered, wrapping my arms across my torso.
“Is it not? Can you really tell me that honestly?” she asked.
I felt my throat catch and my mind race with something good to say, something to prove to her that she was wrong. The saddest thing was that she was right. “I don’t know…I mean, I think that I am my own person, an individual.”
“Are you? Then why are you never yourself?”
“Because…” I stammered, trembling a bit, “because no one wants the real me. They just want the happy-go-lucky pop star. I am just acting out their dream. That is why I never get too close, because when I do, they are disappointed.”
“How do you know what everyone wants? What if I told you most people don’t want you to be so fake? Most people don’t want you to try so hard to be cool and not be natural,” she said, moving closer to me.
I could smell her scent, drawing me close to her, delighting me. “I don’t know who I am anymore.”
“Well, it is time to work on making you visible, in more ways than the obvious physical state,” she said with a warming smile.
* * *
Christie went back and tried to explain to a bewildered Arthur the circumstances of my predicament and I, being a gentleman when needed, apologized for frightening. Still, I must admit, it was a bit fun now that I look back on it. I can be a right devil at times.
He was strangely easy to convince of everything, perhaps because of his apparent philosophical nature. I could tell that he treated Christie well and that he was a good sort of chap. Unfortunately, I felt the jealousy seethe as I watched the two of them together and, though it was wrong of me, still wanted her for myself.
Later that day, while Arthur went out for a while to give Christie and I some time alone, I took my chance.
I can still remember it in exquisite detail, strangely enough. I remember the scent of jasmine from the burning incense in the room and the hum of the air conditioning unit on the far end of the room. I remember the stark contrast of the coarse sheets underneath where I sat and the soft satin of the edge of the pajama pants Christie was wearing. Most vividly though, I remember the way the sun shone though the window and illuminated Christie almost like an angel.
I could not help myself, she had cast her spell on me and I was beyond control. In the middle of an innocent discussion about something completely unrelated (which I honestly cannot recall as my only focus was her lips as they formed the words and not what she was actually saying), I again pressed my lips against hers, concentrating intensely enough to make sure that they made contact. She gasped when I kissed her, her body a contradiction that was pulling away, yet pushing towards me in the same instant.
“John, we can’t…do this,” she gasped as I trailed my lips down her neck.
“We are already doing it,” I said.
“But Arthur…your wife…” she whispered.
“Give me this one moment, that is all I ask of you,” I whispered against the flesh of her collarbone, sliding the straps of her tank top off her shoulders and over her head.
She moaned as I continued to kiss her, my head aching, but my nose not bleeding this time. It seemed as if I didn’t need to concentrate as much anymore when I touched someone. I was learning to control my state of being.
I moved my lips down to her breast; the only sounds between us no longer protests, but heavy breaths of desire.
“Christie,” I whined, her name now like prayer on my lips, this angel glowing in the light of the sun now coming to life for me.
She reached her hand to touch my own on the bed and it passed right through. It seemed that I could touch her, but she could not touch me. “John, I cannot touch you,” she whispered, her words punctuated by sharp intakes of breath.
“Later…for now, I just want to touch you,” I murmured, now suckling her nipple as I softly rubbed the other one between my fingers.
She arched beneath me, welcoming my mouth and my caresses, letting herself go to me. It was the first time that we seemed to really connect, ironically enough. We let ourselves completely trust one another and the act itself was not just borne of lust and desire, but rather the two of us reaching for that connection with each other. I needed the warmth of her flesh just as much as the knowledge that I could please her. She was right about one thing, I always had to please someone. It fed my ego.
I pulled off her pajama pants, sliding them slowly down her legs and leaving her with just her panties. I slipped my fingers over the wetness of her them, pressing against her to feel her desire for me. I circled my thumb around her clitoris beneath the material, delighting in her hips rising and falling against my caresses. “Lie back,” I whispered.
She lay back, spreading her legs as I leaned down and pressed my lips against her thigh and moved them towards the apex between them. She called out when I touched her softly with my tongue, moving it deeper to part the wet folds and probe within her mystery. I was consumed with her scent, getting reacquainted with actual undertaking as my wife tended to disfavor when I would do such with her and I hadn’t really done it for a while.
My headache eased, my body now so into what I was doing that I actually didn’t need to concentrate so intensely anymore. I moved my mouth against her, now suckling her clitoris between my lips and penetrating her with two fingers. My cock stirred with every moan that fell from her and I concentrated on the places that made her moan the most. I pressed myself against the edge of the bed, grinding against the hard corner almost blindly, my body now completely succumbing to the desire.
I slowly coaxed the climax from her, not wanting to rush it, wanting for the pleasure to last as long as we both could handle it. She would simply whine in defeat as I would bring her just to the edge and ease off her, letting her climax build itself back up from the beginning. So when her orgasm finally hit, it shook her with intensity, her insides gripping against my fingers and her body jerking about on the bed. As her pleasure subsided, I still moved my fingers slowly in and out of her, suckling her until she lie still on the bed.
I still ground myself against the bed, my own pleasure raging out of control. I felt like a teenager when I would press myself against my teddy bear or football, trying to relieve myself. Unlike then, though, it didn’t seem as easy and I found myself getting more and more frustrated. Christie seemed to notice and whispered, “I wish I could touch you.”
I climbed up to lie beside her on the bed, my cock now tented in my boxers. I nuzzled into the bed, brushing my hand against myself, “Mmm, yes. Well, I suppose I could always pretend.”
She watched me, her eyes dark with desire, as I pushed my underwear to my ankles and ran my fingers all over my body. “Where would you start if you could?” I whispered, closing my eyes.
She smiled shyly. “Hmm, I would run my hands over your chest and belly,” she whispered as I mimicked her fantasy.
“That’s nice,” I murmured, giving myself gooseflesh. “Where next?”
“I would run my hands down over your thighs until you begged me to touch your cock,” she whispered, throatily, my hands following her command.
“Then what? I’m begging,” I moaned, a smile crossing my lips.
“I would grasp your balls with my palm, while wrapping my other hand around your cock…”
“Oooh, I like that,” I said, begging slightly against my own touch, my cock now greatly sensitive.
“Then I would stroke you until you come…”
“Mmmm…would you like me to come for you?” I murmured playfully, starting to stroke myself with deep insistent strokes.
“Yes,” she answered with an exhalation of air.
I opened my eyes and saw that her hands had descended between her thighs and that she was touching herself as she watched me. I moaned and shut my eyes again, stroking myself more insistently.
“Talk to me,” I whispered.
“What do you want me to say?”
“Have you ever fantasized about me?”
“Yes,” she breathed, causing my cock to throb.
“Have you fantasized about me lately?”
“Yes.” Mmmm, yes.
“What did you fantasize about?”
“And wanking in front of a near stranger is not?” I giggled.
“Okay…I have thought about what it would be like to be the one who is invisible and watch you…”
“Watch me do what?” I grunted, my hips rising to meet my hand.
“Do this,” she whispered, her voice laden with her own pleasure from touching herself.
I felt my climax building steadily within me and my eyes darted open, focusing on her fingers working eagerly against herself and the splotches of red over her skin. I called out, it rising and rising, until my orgasm finally hit me, my ejaculate now spewed over my chest.
She came right after me.
* * *
Part of me wanted to try somehow to make love to her, but I knew that I couldn’t. Of course, there were the obvious, physical limitations. I knew that I had exhausted myself just doing what I had already done and probably would be unable to have the mental focus needed to do so. More importantly though was that the guilt was beginning to set in…for both of us. It had begun to hang like a cloud in the room.
Christie quietly pulled her clothes back on and walked over to the window, no longer looking at me.
“Christie…I…” I began, but she stopped me.
Her shoulders moved, as she seemed to laugh a little. “You know the funny thing is that I have wanted something like that to happen for so long and now it has and it’s just…”
“Anti-climactic?” I finished, nervously.
As much as I knew it shouldn’t have mattered, I still worried about the impending sting of her rejection. It was a slight to my confidence.
She turned to me, “No, its just wrong.”
“I am sorry, I feel as if I pressured you and that was wrong of me,” I offered.
“Oh, trust me, you didn’t pressure me,” she replied with a blush and a mischievous smile.
I smiled despite myself.
“John, I think the two of us are just going through some pretty crazy emotional stuff right now and I don’t think we are exactly thinking straight,” she said, moving back to the bed to sit beside me.
“I just want things to go back to normal again, I want to be visible again”
“What if they don’t?” she asked.
The question stunned me, not just from the directness of it, but also because it was the first time that I had ever considered it a possibility. I struggled to try and figure out why everything was happening to me, trying to piece together the dreams I’d had.
“There is this girl in my dreams, she keeps taunting me,” I just said aloud.
“What?” she looked at me confused.
“I don’t know, I can’t explain it,” I replied, crossing my arms over my chest.
“What does this girl do?”
“I’d rather not talk about it right now,” I whispered.
She looked at me disappointed, but didn’t say anything.
* * *
Arthur discreetly drove me back home as I let both him and Christie share the evening together without me. I could see that he was a good person and seeing him with her made me feel even worse about what had transpired between Christie and I earlier. He didn’t seem to sense that anything was wrong through; he was too blindly in love with her to notice.
I snuck inside my house, startling Simon by knocking the book from his hands he’d been reading in the living room. He glared as he tried to find where he’d left off and pushed a bookmarker between the pages. He was alone as Andy and Roger had ventured out to dinner, the claustrophobia beginning to set it. He moved to go down to the basement so as to not attract any attention from the detectives and others in the house.
He pulled out a notepad that he had put down there in case of a rendezvous with me and held it out before him with a pen, not knowing where I was exactly. “It is about time you came,” he said.
I walked up to him, taking the notepad from his hands. He gasped a little, but then watched the pen as I wrote. “I had a lot going on.”
“You had me worried,” he pouted.
“No need to worry yourself.” I wrote.
“What did you do then?” he asked, leaning against the table.
I sighed, fighting with the urge to tell him everything that happened back in the hotel room. “Nothing…” I wrote, ambiguously.
“Something happened between you and that girl, didn’t it?” he questioned, standing up a little straighter.
“You know me too well.”
“John! Why?” he asked, his eyes wide.
“I don’t know.”
“You were horny,” he snarled.
“You are one to talk!”
He groaned, knowing full well he had no counter to what I’d said. “How?” he asked with a deep sigh.
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I am saying, how did you do whatever you did with her?” he asked, the corners of his mouth twitching into a smile at the absurdity of his question.
“I think I can touch people. Not all the time though and only if I really concentrate.”
“Really?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I think so. I have only done it with Christie.”
“Do you think you can touch me?” Simon asked, tilting his head flirtatiously.
“You are the one who is horny.”
“You can’t just tease me like that,” he whined, moving closer to me.
I could smell it on him then, the alcohol. I am surprised I hadn’t noticed it before, but then again, I usually keep my distance with Simon. No, I do not find him repulsive; it is just at times we have gotten…too close.
“Yes, I can.”
“Come on, John. Just try and see if it will work,” he purred. “I’ll behave.”
“I don’t believe that for an instant.”
“Give us a chance, hmm?” he pushed.
I paused and then wrote, “Okay.”
I knew he could sense my annoyance with him. It was as if, even though he couldn’t see or hear me, he still knew all of my reactions. It was because it had always been that way with him and I. He always knows how to really get under my skin and sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it is bad.
I stood there directly in front of him, concentrating and then lifting my hand to place it on his shoulder. He jumped a bit when I made contact, a laugh coming from him. I slid my hand down his arm slowly to make sure that he knew that I was touching him. He closed his eyes, his hand opening and mine settled inside it.
“Oh John, I always know your touch,” he sighed. “Thank you.”
I held his hand for a few moments and then let go when it became too awkward. “Don’t let go,” he begged, his eyes trying to blink away some unshed tears.
I picked up the pen and notepad again. “You know I have to.”
Where to begin? There was a time when I was very much falling apart, “one foot in the grave” you could even say. I suppose that I was seeking some sort of deeper connection, something that I hoped would ground me in the process. I was feeling alone and disconnected and it was eating me away from the inside. I searched and searched for a reprieve, but sadly, I found myself unable to attain such.
I can hear the mocking laughter. You think that it’s a joke to say that I have ever been alone. You know the old cliché – “It’s lonely at the top”? Well, its true and its even lonelier when you are plummeting towards rock bottom. I know the arguments – I could have any fan that I want, right? Sure, and they could see that their little idealistic image of me is exactly that – an image. I’ll admit that I was quite the playboy in my past, turning up the charm to try and get who and what I wanted. It seemed that almost every night there was a different girl, none of whom I can remember without trying. They would call my name out in ecstasy and tell me how wonderful I was. Still when it came down and I found myself lying awake in the middle of the night clinging to that same sleeping, star-struck groupie, ending up feeling even more alone.
It was these experiences that led to the blurring of the boundaries of platonic friendship between Simon and I. It started innocently enough – a lingering touch here, a flirt there, perhaps an embrace that lasted longer that the usual quick, “male” public embrace. It certainly wasn’t planned, at least not on my end of things. I am a heterosexual, albeit curious man. Back then, though, I was utterly lonely and so strung out on drugs I hardly had any reservations. It all changed one evening during a particularly intense binge on cocaine. Simon and I had somehow ended up on the couch of my hotel suite in a furious kiss, our hands all over one another. Indeed it was a strange experience touching another man, but honestly at the time my mind was more caught up in the newness of the experience and its sensuality. Actually, that first night, not much happened before the two of us ended up passing out as the effects of the coke wore off.
The actions of that night seemed to set off a somewhat odd series of events. The night would repeat itself, but with each time having a progression. We went from wearing clothes, to being partially clothed, to finally nude. We went from tentative touches to full-on “making out,” so to speak. It was different and new and seemed to leave me with less guilt. Of course, I felt the weight of the Catholic schoolboy guilt over sleeping with a man, but it had all the makings of a “no strings attached” thing for me. With the women, I would find myself getting attached almost immediately, but with Simon it was different. I suppose it was just as much a tension release as it was the two of us seeking connection with one another. I didn’t know at the time though, oddly enough, that it was even more to Simon.
“Are you still there?” Simon asked.
I picked the notepad back up. “Yes, I was just thinking.”
“About what?” Simon asked sadly.
“I was thinking about when we were in Japan, ‘exploring one another.’…”
Simon sighed, “Yes, I remember it well.”
“I remember that it felt as if I were touching for the first time.”
“I just miss touch, really touching. I can concentrate all I want, but the resulting touch still does not hold the full-bodied texture I had before.” I wrote, ripping off the page after I filled it.
“Was it different then…with her?” he asked, his tone somewhere between shy and jealous.
“Yes and no. In some ways I felt as if I was still touching her through fabric and in others it felt more intense than it had in a long time.”
“Oh,” he sighed.
“Simon, don’t get upset.”
“I’m not,” he replied, indignant.
“Simon, I don’t need the drama right now, I need a friend.”
He walked over to a chair and slumped down into it. He wiped his eyes with his palms. “I’m sorry,” he said, meekly.
“Simon, don’t do this. I love you,” I wrote, walking over to him and holding what I’d written in front of his face.
“I just think you are making a mistake,” he groaned.
“This whole thing with that girl, Christie. You always do this, John. You feel alone and end up cozying up with a fan to stroke your ego. And to what end? It doesn’t fulfill you, so you move onto your next prey, leaving them behind and hurt.”
“Yes, John,” he huffed, “As a matter of fact, yes.”
“Simon, this isn’t about you.”
“No, its not, but I have seen this happen far too many times to just sit back and watch. So, what it is this time? Are you just frustrated over the fact that you are invisible and only this girl can see and hear you? Are the fans not buying as many of your records or flocking to your shows? Or is Gela just no longer revering you or giving you a shag?” he snapped.
I raised the notepad up as if to threaten to hit him with it. His eyes reflected fear and anger, “Go ahead, hit me! You have already done worse to me!”
I threw the notebook across the room instead, the pages flapping as it flew through the air and hit the wall. I ran over to the basement door and yanked it open. I was prepared to leave, but something held me back. I slammed the door making it seem as if I had in fact left and just slid down the nearby wall onto the floor.
Simon slowly rose from the chair, gathering the notebook and discarded papers from our conversation into his arms. He sat in the middle of the floor and began to weep. He pressed one of the papers onto the floor, flattening it and tracing the writing with his finger. I wanted to go to him and comfort him, but I knew him too well. He would be ashamed if he knew that I was watching him.
He lay on the floor, curling up into a fetal position, clutching tightly to the straightened paper. He soon fell asleep and I walked over to him, taking the paper from his hand and read it.
“Simon, don’t do this. I love you,” it read.
* * *
Yet another nightmare wrapped around me as I slept on the soft grass on the far side of my yard. I had snuck out of the house after Simon had finally made his way groggily upstairs. I felt so weighed down with emotion as I made my way across the grass that I only hoped that sleep would garner me sweet relief from the day. Well, sleep took me fast, but the nightmare seemed to have struck even faster.
“You think sleeping with her us going to solve your dilemma?” a voice asked. It was she, the voice in my dreams, my albatross?
For a moment I had to orient myself to figure out if I was awake or in a dream. Everything looked real at first. There I was simply sitting on the grass on which I’d laid my head. Then I realized my hands sank in the grass like water when I pressed them against the ground and I was overwhelmed with the feeling that something just was “not right.”
“What? What did you say?” I asked, pretending to not have heard her so that I could try and figure out where her voice originated around me.
“You heard me. You cannot make up for what you’ve done by sleeping with that girl,” she replied, still invisible to me.
“Is that what you think happened?” I asked, smugly.
“I think you needed to prove that you are independent, when in fact you are the opposite. I think you need people from hour to hour make you even function. So, John, how does it feel to not have all those people anymore? How does it feel to just have to rely on only one?”
“My dear, I have been alone many times before this. Do you think that the phone rings anymore since I’ve left Duran? It’s not like I am on top of the world anymore.”
“Look across the yard and see all those people, you still have a following. These people travel from all over the world just to see you. You wondered if anyone would remember you when you die, look and see. Will you remember them, though?”
“What are you getting at? You keep talking in riddles,” I asked, exasperated.
“You only refuse to understand.”
“God, just because I don’t become best friends with every one of my fans doesn’t make me a bad person!” I groaned.
“This is your fault, John. Don’t get angry with me.”
“How? What did I do wrong?”
“Don’t you remember?”
“Dammit, I do not!”
“Such foul language will get you nowhere I am afraid…”
“I just want this over. I want everything to go back to the way it was!”
“Then you will have to remember what brought you here in the first place.”
With that I awoke in a pool of sweat, the morning sun heating my skin. I was getting more and more frustrated with the enigmatic dreams I was having. Was this woman real or some manifestation of myself? I tried not to let her overpower me, learning from therapy to take control of any nightmare. She was strong though and the fear pulsed through me without reprieve.
“I see you are finally awake,” I heard Christie’s voice whisper to me and saw her hesitant approach.
I sat up to regard her, wiping the last remains of sleep from my eyes. “Yes,” I replied, my voice a bit husky from the hours of disuse.
“That must have been some dream,” she said, taking a seat next to me on the grass.
I pulled my knees into my chest, laying my head atop them. “Yes,” I sighed.
“You were thrashing about and mumbling. I was a bit worried about you,” she added, concerned.
“I am worried about myself as well,” I sighed.
“Do you…want to talk about it?”
“I don’t know, I don’t even understand it, so there is nothing for me to say,” I replied.
Sure, there was a great part of me that wanted to speak to her about my dreams, hoping that perhaps if I verbalized them to someone else they would somehow make sense. Then again, I was worried that I would sound completely daft if I spoke of them. Would she even understand herself? What if she is somehow a part of this? I mean, she was referred to in one of the dreams. Could I even trust her?
“I miss my children, I miss my wife,” I sighed.
“Do you know where they are?” she asked, flowing with my abrupt change of subject.
“Somewhere in Texas, I am not completely sure. I don’t know if Gela has called or not during this whole episode. I have no idea what she or the kids are even thinking.”
“Do you think Simon or one of the others might have heard from her?”
“I don’t know, perhaps…”
“Why don’t you go and ask Simon?”
I chuckled nervously. “Simon and I, well, we had a bit of a fight last night. I doubt he wants to speak with me.”
“A fight? What happened?” she asked, then added with a dismissive wave of her hand, “I am sorry, that is none of my business.”
“Nah, nah. Just old ghosts, we have a lot of them,” I eased her.
“Do you want me to speak with him?” she offered. “I mean, I don’t know how I’d get to him, but we could try.”
“What would you say?” I asked, lifting my head, intrigued by her offer.
“Well, you could always tell me what to say. We could always pretend that you aren’t there when you really are. It is not like he’d really know anyway.”
“Ha! Like Cyrano!” I laughed and then more calmly said, “That might just work.”
* * *
“What is this all about?” Simon asked in a bored tone.
I’d lured him down to the basement with a simple note. “Basement. Noon. Meet Christie, come alone.”
“John just needed to ask a few questions of you,” Christie replied, nervously.
“Don’t let him intimidate you. He’s just acting cocky,” I assured her.
“So, is he here, then?” he asked, crossing his arms over his chest and tapping his foot impatiently.
“No, it’s just me this time.”
“Sending you to do his bidding and not even talking with me himself?” he rolled his eyes.
“Um, yes…he just needed to know if you’ve spoken to Gela at all or heard anything about her.”
“Gela?” he rubbed his chin,” And what if I have?”
“He’s worried about her and the kids. He wants to know if they are all right.”
“Well, Christie,” he paused, reaching behind him to sit on the chair. “I actually spoke to her two days ago. She’s all right, just worried. As for the kids, they are fine. They don’t know anything about what is going on, the family is keeping it from them. They just think they are on holiday.”
“Oh thank God,” I sighed, “Tell him thank you and that I am sorry about last night.”
“Thank you, Simon. You know, John wanted to apologize for last night,” Christie offered shyly.
“Oh, it was nothing, dear. Just a lover’s row,” he replied with a smirk.
“Jesus, Simon!” I groaned, covering my face with my hands.
I knew his game far too well. He was attempting to get back at me by embarrassing me with the more deviant aspects of our relationship. He knew how I felt about anyone knowing and thus it was a closely guarded secret. In actuality, the only people who know are Nick, Renee (who’d actually caught us with our pants down, literally), and Yasmin. Of course, it is all a part of the past as Simon and I have not been, shall we say, intimate, for a few years now and even then was when I was in the throes of impending divorce and bottoming out on drugs and alcohol. I could easily keep it in the past if it were up to me, but Simon always seems to dredge it up -- usually at the most inopportune times.
“Excuse me?” Christie asked, obviously taken aback.
“He’s lying, don’t listen to him. He is just trying to make me look bad since he is angry with me!” I hissed, beginning to tremble a bit.
“A lover’s row,” he repeated, with a quirk of his eyebrow. “Johnny’s always getting his knickers in a twist.”
She looked at Simon in shock, seemingly unable to distinguish if he was in fact lying as I’d said or actually telling the truth. “You…and John?”
“Christie, he’s lying, I tell you.” I urged her, my voice cracking a bit with nerves.
I suppose it wasn’t just that I was worried about her finding out, but that I was worried that since she was a fan, it would leak into the network and I would be forever humiliated. I’ll be the first to admit it is the ultimate affront to my masculinity and overall I am very shameful of it. It also didn’t help that I was greatly worried how it would affect Christie’s opinion of me.
“It is so hard to believe?” he replied, crossing one leg over the other, regarding her with pursed lips. “I would think it to be rather obvious myself.”
She bit her lip, glancing over at me and then back at Simon. “Actually, it sort of was,” she whispered.
* * *
“Oh my God,” I groaned, bending forward with my hands on my head.
“Really? Isn’t that intriguing…” Simon replied, his eyebrow cocked in interest.
“Yes, very,” I echoed mockingly. I suddenly wanted to be as far from there as possible.
Christie shuffled uncomfortably and stammered, “I…I should go.”
“So soon? Just when it was getting good, too,” Simon said, his face expressing an amused look. “We’ll have to finish this discussion some other time then.”
“Yes…yes, of course,” Christie replied, now a bit distracted, and made her way towards the door.
Simon got up and strolled behind her, holding the door open for her long enough so that I could slip out. “It was a pleasure,” he grinned and winked at her.
* * *
“So, you think that I am gay then?” I groaned, sitting by a tree.
“I never said you were gay, John,” she replied matter-of-factly.
“Actually, I think you did, Christie,” I corrected her petulantly.
“Okay, when did I say that exactly? I seemed to have missed it,” she spat, her tone showing her growing annoyance with my questioning.
“When you said that you knew that Simon and I had been together.”
“So, now you admit that it is true. I though it was all one of Simon’s fabrications.”
“I didn’t admit…okay, you are right, I am gay!” I announced with a dramatic lisp.
“Somehow I doubt that.”
“But Simon and I have been ‘together,’ remember?” I said sarcastically, emphasizing the word “together” with air quotations.
“You wouldn’t be the first to experiment, John.”
“Why do you think it was an experiment?” Of course she was right. I was just too angry to let the matter drop easily.
“Because I don’t think you are gay,” she groaned, rolling her eyes.
It was all that I could say, really. The conversation was going in circles and was really only being perpetuated by me. I was losing ground in the argument terrible and there really wasn’t much else that could be said. My therapist tells me that I need to back down in such confrontations, that I end up enjoying the argument too much and taking it further than it needs to go. This was my attempt at backing down.
We sat in silence for a very long time. The two of us were very obviously stewing and needed to calm down. I couldn’t believe it all. Here I just wanted to know the welfare of my family and I end up finding out that at least one of my fans knows about my experiences with Simon. Oddly enough, she seemed to be rather cool about the revelation, too bad that I wasn’t. I don’t know why I let it bother me so much, perhaps it was because of the feelings that Christie had stirred within me. I felt as if I needed to prove myself to her. To what end, though? As I have mentioned ad nasuem, I am a married man and she is involved as well. Things had gotten that much more complex.
* * *
“Can I ask you a personal question?” I asked Christie.
We had moved to the swing in the far alcove of the yard and we had hardly spoken since our conversation after leaving Simon. She looked up at me surprised, as if she were startled by my break in the silence.
“I suppose,” she replied, straightening up to look me in the eye. “I don’t know if I will answer it though.”
“Fair,” I said, wringing my hand nervously. “Do you and Arthur have a good sex life?”
Her eyes widened, “Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know. I just…wanted to make sure that you were happy is all.”
“There is more to being happy than a good sex life, John.”
“I know that. It was stupid of me to ask, it was just something that I was thinking about.” I said, looking away, now embarrassed.
“You were thinking about my sex life?”
“Yes, I suppose.” I still couldn’t look at her. Where was I going with this?
“You are quite the voyeur, aren’t you?” she asked, teasingly.
I turned back around to see her smiling mischievously at me. “A weakness of mine.”
“Living vicariously through others?”
“No, just watching others…in pleasure. Maybe its my lack of self-esteem, I need my object of desire to be pleasured by someone else as I feel I cannot successfully do so myself.”
“So, what are you saying? Do you want to watch me?” she asked with a dismissive laugh.
I paused, looking her deep in the eyes. “Yes,” I replied seriously.
I saw the muscles in her neck contract as she gulped hard, her laughing ceasing instantly. “You can’t be serious,” she whispered.
“You are right, I can’t be,” I replied, waving my hand as if the wave away the conversation itself. “Forget I even said anything. I have been in a strange state of mind today.”
“You can’t tease me like that,” she whimpered.
“First, you get me all excited about you and Simon being lovers, and now you express an interest in watching Arthur and I make love and then immediately drop it. You are incorrigible.”
“Excited about me and Simon? Now you are the one that can’t be serious.”
“I am very serious, John. It excites me greatly to be honest,” she replied, a blush spreading across her cheeks.
I was speechless.
* * *
How did it happen that I was in Christie’s hotel room that very night with both her and Arthur? I had wanted it for several days, wanting to further things with Christie. It was a safe way to do so, one that only involved me on the periphery and her boyfriend. The voyeur in me took hold, taking me back to when I was a child and I first witnessed a couple making love.
It was when I was about thirteen years old and I was staying with the neighbors, the Logan’s, while my parents were away for the weekend. The Logan’s were a nice couple consisting of a very large, ruddy-faced, footballer husband and a petite, blonde wife. They were probably in their late 20s and always seemed a bit odd of couple to me as he was so big compared to her. They were very nice to me and my family though and often helped out at our house.
At their house that weekend, very late one evening, I had gotten up to get a glass of water, as my throat was very dry. As I made my way down the hall, I could hear soft moans and knocks and squeaks of furniture. Curious, I made my way towards the sound and found it was coming from the Logan’s bedroom. I peaked through the cracked open door to see Mrs. Logan astride Mr. Logan having sex. I nearly gasped aloud, but cupped my hand over my mouth as to not make a sound.
Funnily enough, I remember they had amazing stamina! They seemed to go on forever, causing my own cock to harden within my pajama pants and me to caress my own self to climax. They never seemed to notice me watching them and when they finished, I quietly snuck back into the guest room to continue to masturbate for much of the night.
It had ignited a spark in me, giving me an indelible image that I used to arouse me for many years. As I became sexually active, I found myself acting out the voyeurism even more. I would watch my girlfriend masturbate from the closet, or watch groupies with other band members upon getting famous. The thrill of watching seemed to almost overtake the thrill of actually performing sex.
So, here I was about to watch Christie and her lover, Arthur. The familiar thrill rushed over me, causing me to harden before anything even had begun. It was the anticipation. It got me every time.
* * *
“How do you want to begin?” she whispered near me, away from Arthur.
“It is all up to you,” I shrugged, trying to hide my excitement.
“Well, I haven’t exactly told him anything,” she said, chewing her lip.
“More the better. He seems the type that might not be too keen on all of this,” I soothed, then added, “And if you aren’t too keen yourself…”
“No, no, I am fine, really. A bit nervous, I suppose.”
“Just pretend that I am not even here.”
* * *
It all started with a sweet kiss, trailing from her eyelids to her mouth. I couldn’t have done better myself. Arthur the Romantic – or should that be John? He had lit candles even. He spoke softly of how much he missed her and thought of her. The more he spoke, the more I wanted to just shrink from the room. How could I even come between them? Only one look in their eyes betrayed their deep affection.
I moved to the darkest part of the room, waving at Christie as if I were leaving. She looked at me surprised for a moment and then moaned as Arthur unbuttoned her blouse to suckle her breast. I wanted to leave, I really did. I was paralyzed with conflicting emotions. Part of me wanted to leave that room and leave the two of them forever. Another part of me wanted to stay and watch the two of them, the voyeur in me aching to be pleasured. It had all become too awkward now though, becoming performance and not reality. Still, in the darkness of the shadows I was in, I was invisible to Christie, like I wanted.
Like I wanted?
I suppose that was what I wanted in an odd way. I wanted to move around her unseen, to just watch her. Anonymity from the one that mattered, it really made no sense. You would think that I wanted her to see me, as I wanted with everyone else, and, you know, I did. There was a part of me, though, that wanted to hide away from her. With all of her attentions, I felt too exposed.
Her moaning drew my attention. It was like a Pavlovian reaction for me. I sat against the wall on the floor, my eyes trained on the bed, despite myself. The swell of Arthur’s head rose between her legs as she thrashed about on the bed and plunged her fingers into the waves of his hair. He had taken off her clothes while I was deep in thought, leaving her nude beneath him.
I lowered my hand to caress myself lightly through my boxers, feeling myself harden even more upon my touch. I bit my lip as to not be heard by her, trying to keep up the charade that I had left. Her moans grew louder and louder, Arthur obviously slowly teasing her orgasm from her until it finally hit her and she lifted her hips with it, him following along with her.
He moved from her slowly, planting kisses on her belly and thighs before standing. He then pulled his shirt over his head and slowly pulled off his trousers and underwear. He caresses himself briefly before lifting his fingers to his mouth, licking them, and then wetting his cock with them. He knelt above her and entered her. Each moment I imagined it was really I with her, me inside her, daring to be as close to her as I had fantasized.
He moved slowly within her, drawing the pleasure out to an exquisite degree. He was good. Their moans swarmed in the air around them, each succession growing louder and more desperate. I cupped my other hand over my mouth as to not let my own moans join theirs, though I am sure they would not have heard them in the cacophony. My legs began trembling, so I stretched them out on the floor, trying to ease the tense muscles tightening throughout my body with my pleasure. The vision of the two of them and the sounds they made were sending me over the edge quickly.
Arthur pushed against her fast and hard, his grunts and groans growing the louder of the two of them. I stroked myself quickly, knowing the end was coming, the climax making its delicious rise to the surface. I thought of her, how she might feel enveloping me hot and wet, and moved my hand over myself beneath the waistband of my underwear, riding their wave of ecstasy with them. He called out and the first stirrings of my orgasm hit me, each wave slamming into me as he called out from his own. Then I pulled my hand from myself, trying to find the strength to stand and leave before Christie discovered that I was still in the room.
* * *
I slipped from the room as they fell asleep in each other’s arms and as I did, I found myself beginning to slip from existence. I think my hands were the first to begin to fade, as it seemed to roll through me, making each part of my body disappear. I began screaming in fear; frightened that this was finally the very end to me. No one seemed to notice my screams, as maids and hotel patrons just quietly passed me in the hall.
As the face rose to my head and eyes, I blacked out. I don’t know how long I was actually unconscious, but when I awoke, I was in complete darkness.
“Hello?” I called out, my voice reverberating around me.
No one replied, so I felt the ground below me to sit down. It was soft, almost like a worn rug, so I went ahead and sat down. I pulled my knees to my chest, shivering, and began to cry. It seemed as if I were like that forever, regressing back to a boy, scared and alone.
I stopped crying, startled by the sound of someone else. It was crying that I was hearing and it wasn’t mine.
“Hello?” I called out again and again got no reply.
I stood up and tried to make my way though the darkness, flailing my arms out before me trying to at least find something. I was attempting to find the source of the sound, my heart racing as I hoped that now I was no longer alone.
After walking for what seemed like an eternity, I hit a wall, literally. It startled me at first, probably resulting in a nice bruise on my face (if I was able to bruise anymore). I slid my hands along the wall, the crying louder now and obviously behind the wall as I’d cupped my ear against it to listen. I felt some grooves in the wall and realized I’d come upon a door. I slid my hand down and found the doorknob. I held my breath and turned it, hoping for an answer.
The sight behind the door took me aback, almost knocking the wind out of me. It was me that was crying; yet it was me as a boy. I was in my childhood bedroom watching the teenaged version of myself on the bed crying. I looked around me, taking an inventory of my surroundings and confirming that everything was indeed in place. It really was my old room, or at least an exact replica.
And what of the boy before me? He jumped at my entry, pulling the covers to his chin, his eyes opened wide. I looked down at myself, realizing that I was visible to him, and sat that I was in the same state of undress I was before I faded away.
“Who are you?” his voice cracked as he asked.
It gave me chills, my youth voice. A bit high, insecure, wavering - - a lot like I was at that time. It hadn’t yet taken on the deep resonance of today, brought on by years of ego and feigned ego. My stage voice, perhaps? Had I lost my natural voice somewhere along the way?
“A friend,” I offered, unsure of what else to say. He would surely wake tomorrow to think this was all a dream anyway.
“Oh,” he said, kneading the blanket in his fists.
“I heard you crying, are you alright?” I asked, sitting on a chair by the bed.
“I am fine, not crying,” he replied, indignantly, wiping his nose. Oh, he certainly was me.
“Of course,” I said, reaching over to pick up Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure album from the floor by his turntable. “Great album,” I added, trying to change to subject and make him more comfortable.
His eyes widened even more and the tears began to roll down his face again. I placed the album back on the floor. “Nigel, what did I say?” I whispered.
“Nothing, I just had a bad day,” he whimpered.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the bundle of clothes on the floor. It was black boots I’d struck shiny, star stickers all over, some crazy flares I’d picked up in a junk shop, and a glittery shirt. It was my “glam show garb” and, boy, had I been proud of it. It was even what I was wearing the night…Oh God…
“Bryan Ferry?” I asked simply.
“A bloody wanker, he is!” Nigel spat.
It was all coming back to me. Ole Nick Bates and I had found through our covert sources where Byron and the Roxy Doxies (Roxy Music, of course) were staying in town and waited outside the hotel all day in hopes to meet them. It was a chilly September day and I remember it as if it were yesterday. Phil had been the first to come out, but he rushed to his awaiting car faster than my mind could get my mouth to speak. Andy and Paul were the next, chatting with each other, barely even noticing either Nick, me, or Colin (a bloke who’d come from London with hopes of meeting them as well). I held my breath, still holding out hope for Bryan.
Like out of a dream, he appeared at the top of the stairs. He looked absolutely dashing and magnificent and, best of all, he noticed us! We pulled out our pens and 45’s ready for action. In my hands was a German import of “Virginia Plain,” probably getting wet with the sweat of my palms. He walked down the steps in slow motion, and seemed to be coming towards us. Once in front of us, though, he walked straight past us to his car. We stood there waiting for his attention, all of us too stunned to speak, but he simply was driven away, leaving us all unfulfilled.
“What was that, then?” Colin had groaned.
“Let’s go,” Nick said, beginning to walk away with Colin.
I just stood there, my feet weighed down on the pavement, grasping my pen and record. I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach, too in shock to even move. Nick turned back around, coming over to me. He curled his fingers around my arm and repeated in a whisper, “Let’s go, Nigel, he’s gone.”
“But…” was all I could say to him.
Why had he ignored us that day? Why had he ignored me? Was it somehow because of me that he didn’t speak? What little self-esteem I had slid from me and down the gutter of the street corner on which I stood. I had already felt invisible in my life; Bryan had cemented it for me. Sure, he was to make up for it years later when fame finally came to me, never knowing how he’d snubbed me as a child. That night though, I went home in a daze and cried…
“And wished…” I heard a voice interrupt my thoughts. It was her again, the voice that tormented me.
“Why do you torment me? Why does this all mean?” I asked, rubbing my temples.
“Don’t you remember your wish?” she asked.
“No…I don’t,” I replied, annoyed and exhausted. It was all becoming too much for me.
“Ask him,” she said.
Nigel lay quietly on the bed, the covers pulled to his chin and his face wet and red from crying. I moved to sit on the bed next to him, stroking the hair from his eyes, pulling the loose strands caught in his mouth. He looked like a wounded animal.
“What are you thinking?” I whispered.
“I am angry.”
“I am sad.”
“I feel alone.”
“Why did he ignore me?”
“He didn’t, he acknowledged you.”
“He ignored us!” he whined.
“Perhaps he was in a hurry. You don’t know his side of things.”
“He still could have stopped.”
“Yes…but I am sure that it wasn’t personal.”
“I hate him!”
“Don’t hate him, Nigel.”
“When I get famous, I will never, ever do that to anyone!”
“You don’t know that for certain.”
“Then I wish that if I ever do, I’ll remember this moment. I’ll remember what it felt like…”
“To be invisible,” I finished, understanding.
“Yes, to be invisible,” he sighed.
* * *
“Look, I don’t know who you are, but this is absolutely ridiculous! This is all because of a wish I made in a state of distress when I was 15 years old?” I groaned.
“Yes,” she replied.
“I am sure that I haven’t given every single person attention, that does not make me a bad person! I never meant to hurt any of those kids!”
“Of course you didn’t,” she replied.
“Then why are you doing this to me?!”
“I am not doing anything, John. You are.”
“Oh, that’s right, my bloody wish!” I replied, sarcastically. Then I took in a deep breath, exhaling to try and calm myself. “Who are you?”
“Me? Darling, the last time I checked I was not a woman.”
“Nor am I.”
“I’m so confused…Okay, if you are me, then why are you an entity outside myself talking to me?”
“Of course,” I groaned, rolling my eyes.
“John, I am a part of you. I am a manifestation of your conscious. I am a personification of your will to do what is ‘right’ and ‘good.’ I suppose I come to you as female energy as I am what you associate as people you’ve hurt - - fans, lovers, whomever. Yet, in essence, I am not a female. You created me. Your wish brought me to life.”
“A wish I made 25 years ago? This is all because I ignored some fans? I am sure I have ignored many over the years, why now? And, more importantly, how?”
“I don’t know why it happened now, but your thought finally manifested itself on the physical plane. It is fear that rules you, perhaps all that fear finally brought it to life.”
“How can I change something like my life, with just my mind?”
“You don’t change your life with your mind, you create it. Thus, you created this.”
“So, this is why I am invisible? I wished myself to be, so here I am? Why haven’t my other wishes come true then?”
“Okay, suppose they have and all that. I have created this state I am in, blah, blah, blah…how do I get back to things the way they were?”
“You cannot go backwards, only forward.”
“Okay, how can I go forward into visibility again then?”
“You have to want to.”
“Do you? Do you really?”
“Yes, I though I would prefer to hide from the world, but I know now I was wrong. I want to be visible again!”
“Close your eyes.”
* * *
I opened them to find myself on my lawn. It felt good to feel the grass under my feet again and be in familiar surroundings. I walked towards the house, still unsure if I was visible again or not. A gasp to my far right answered my question. A crown gathered quickly around me, a cacophony of people asking if I was all right and where I had been. I wearily told them that I was fine, only a bit dazed. A police officer made his way through the crowd, wrapping a blanket around me and led me into the house. Inside was the same barrage of questions and relief.
I was rushed to the hospital where the doctors concluded that I’d had a bout of amnesia and had been just wandering around the city lost and confused since I’d gone missing. It was all they could come up with really, I mean, how could they explain it otherwise? It was yet another pat answer in the name of science.
Gela and the kids came to see me in the hospital while they held me for further testing. It was somewhat surreal and, amongst my family and friends, immediately labeled as something to no longer speak of. As for Christie, she’d gone home after I was found. I wondered if I was to ever hear from her again, still not completely understanding her role in the whole experience. Perhaps she was my redemption? Or, perhaps, my way of attempting to still the guilt inside me?
When I finally got home from the hospital, I found an email in my inbox titled “Darkness Invisible” and knew immediately it was from her. Excited to hear from her, I opened it and it read:
Well, this is all a bit weird, I don’t know what to sat now that all is said and done. I saw you made the front page of the newspapers, too bad you were only wearing your underclothes! Either way, I am glad to hear that you are all right and I hope that I was able to help you though it all. I never got to say goodbye to you, so I thought I’d write this email. So, well…goodbye.
I smiled to myself that she’d written me. Clicking on the reply button, I typed a few words and sent it. It read: “Who says this is goodbye?”
F I N