THE ONE: A Novella: FIVE

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Well . . .now George, Arianne and Larry find new mysteries and a few clues.

Submitted: March 20, 2016

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Submitted: March 20, 2016

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ONE GONE

A Short Story

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter  Five

 

 

In a moment, Larry was no longer numb.

“Larry; there you are,” Arianne came back a few steps and squeezed her husband’s arm, “Are you okay?”

Larry gave a faint,”yeah.”

“Hey, man, where have you been?” George’s face was animated with inner joy, “Mrs. Cramer has been showing us the rest of the upstairs; no fire damage but the smoke still smells bad up there.

“She was really lucky. There’s some excellent furniture upstairs; along the side and nearer the front.”

Arianne lifted her camera and smiled at her husband as she tapped the camcorder and gave her husband a raised eyebrow and a knowing look.

Larry was attempting to recover from his lingering traumas.

“Honey, why is your shirt all wet; you look terrible, are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yeah; yes; we can talk about it later”

“About what?”

Mrs Cramer was at Arianne’s elbow.

“I have some coffee on; come into the sitting room and we’ll talk some more,” smiling at Arianne and Larry, “I have some pastries as well; some Danish you might like.”

As though George had been there with them (he was ten feet way when the Danish were mentioned) he joined Larry and Arianne.

“I heard Danish, right?”

His smile was broad enough for two, “glad we didn’t have those doughnuts; Danish are much better. Let’s go.” and he motioned for Arianne and Larry to precede him.

Arianne was already following Mrs. Cramer. Larry hadn’t moved. George picked up on Larry’s paralysis. “You sure you’re okay, Larry?”

Larry moved. Then he inhaled. George waited, “What?
Larry exhaled, “I’ll tell you later. You won’t believe me but I have proof,” he tapped his iPhone, “and I had the audio on.”

Alright, man; we’ll get out of here as soon as we can. I don’t have any more questions of Mrs. Cramer; but I should take a few more stills; it would be awkward as hell to try and explain to Piper why there was a video and who was operating it,” and then, breathing in while holding Larry’s gaze, “ so we’ll just stay cool and hope Mrs. C. doesn’t report us”

They were both moving now and could hear Arianne and Mrs. Cramer chatting and laughing in the living room. Larry stopped to allow George to walk beside him.

“This whole thing is a scam, George. Wait until I tell you what I’ve seen--and heard.”

“Yeah, yeah; good, man, but let’s move; Danish. I bet she makes great coffee too.” His face was back to ‘regular’ George. He was chuckling with his anticipation of Mrs. Cramer’s treats.

 

When the three had waved goodbye to Mrs. Cramer, and George had told her to watch for the check, Larry waited until they were at George’s car.

Although the rain had disintegrated into a thick mist, the air had acquired an arctic chill. However, all three were thoroughly warmed by their coffee and Danish.

“I can’t tell you guys what happened back there any way but straight,” pulling open the back seat door, “I  cannot believe what just happened. Let’s get in the car and turn up the heater; it’s brutal out here.”

They all entered and George immediately turned on the ignition, the heater began to amp up and within seconds, they were more or less comfortable.

“Let’s go back to the Java,” George suggested,” it’s good for the grounds, but also the crowd gives you a feeling of anonymity, okay?”

Arriane turned to George, “your next appointment is in twenty minutes; I don’t think we have time. Lets do this next one; we’ll have couple of hours after that appointment when we can go over this whole visit and look at all the photos; and my video.”

Larry leaned over the back of Arianne’s seat.

“I think that you should call that next appointment George and reschedule—for tomorrow or the next day; or the next week.”

Arianne had never heard this tone of voice from her husband. “Why darling?”

She had removed her seat belt and turned around to look at him, “what’s the matter, what’s goi . . .”

“Let’s just go,” Larry broke in.

George agreed and they got out of the car and took their iPhones and the camcorder back to the Java on Ocean.

When they were settled and had spread out all their gear on the largest round table in the shop, Larry began.

 

When he had stopped talking, the other two were wearing frowns of disbelief; even pity.

“Oh, really darling; only one voice; a deep, almost male voice; pictures of glowing globes; Larry, really,” and she shook her beautiful hair and gazed at her husband with some worry in her features.

George was finishing his first doughnut and simply nodded his agreement with Arianne.

“Alright, my friends,” began Larry, “and I don’t know why or from where my next sentence comes from, but here it is: I bet you that your camcorder is blank and that all our iPhones are also blank. No pictures. In fact I’m sure that they are probably ruined; useless.”

Larry sat back and drank some coffee. He had no stomach for food. He felt as though he could throw up at any moment. His nerves and his self-confidence were on life support.

 

Some time later, Larry told both Arianne and George that he had wished that at least his iPhone had been working, so that he could take pictures of their expressions.

First, the looks of fear and anxiety while they thought that ‘their Larry’ had completely gone over the edge; that his essence and persona had tanked.

They were both thinking where they could house Larry until his delusions—and illusions, had cleared.

The second set of expressions on their faces showed frustration, impatience, and anger, followed by looks of complete shock; bafflement; concern; fear; even panic.

Finally; thinly disguised terror.

 

George and Arianne shook their devices, pounded them. Arianne double checked the presence of a tape in the camcorder.

Almost at the same time, both George and Arianne sat back, leaving their Danish and coffee on the table. They stared at Larry while they waited for some explanation.

“Alright; now for my iPhone.” He turned it toward them. A dead screen.

“But how is this possible?” Arianne was almost in tears.

George recovered enough to take up his Danish. However, he chewed and then swallowed both Danish and coffee as though these were the antidotes for the horrible misfortunes that had just been dropped on them.

“My guess is that it was a laser; a pack of lasers; invisible lasers; probably from that glowing shiny thing.

“I thought I ‘had it,’ as it were, on my phone, but as you can see, everything is erased. Nothing. In fact it’s probably dead. I held it no more than a few feet from that ‘thing.’”

“Even our first minutes there, are gone,” complained Arianne, “everything.”

George leaned forward and signaled the other two to join him in a huddle, something that even Larry thought was unnecessary; and in fact, would draw attention to them, the reverse of George’s intention.

Larry leaned back, “I think we draw attention in a huddle. Let’s just talk and behave as though nothing but the weather and the Warriors are being discussed.”
Arianne immediately sat back and reminded George to call their next appointment. He did that and very politely told Mr. Acton that he had car troubles but could be there the next day; after four. That was fine with Mr. Acton.

After the call to Mr. Acton, George suggested that they go to his condominium where they could speak loudly and toss around ideas about their next move ‘without disturbing the other children’; and especially to give serious thought as to why this was all happening.

By the time they reached Buena Vista Avenue, the fog had lifted enough to reveal the foothills of Twin Peaks.

George put on coffee.

“Anybody want beer; or some wine?”

Larry and Arianne said that just coffee would be fine.

George retuned with two cups and set the French Press on a pad in the middle of the large dining room table.

Larry began, “Okay, we have three problems. The first is: what is really happening; right down to the most insignificant change in our—well, George’s life.

“The second: to try and appreciate how this is being done. But I don’t consider that to be any more than some weird physics that someone is using.”

“And third; how is this connected to George and the LDS; if it is? You know, I think that’s where the ‘why’ lies.

“There, I’m finished,’ and he took up his cup and waited.

Arrianne spoke first. “I agree. I think it’s all tied up with George, Salt Lake City; the LDS . . . why else would there be a photo of George on those computer screens; and his whole life story from damn near day one?”

George chewed and thought. Larry sipped and thought.

Larry turned to Arianne. “Do you think this is the time; the right time to talk about George and Salt Lake City and you know . . .”

Arianne understood immediately and nodded a yes. After all, they were both positive that Mrs. Dawson would be coming to see George and tell him herself. Here. They could at least tell him the bald fact, and that his mother was coming to San Francisco to explain the circumstances of his birth in detail.

“Why does “The Omen” come to mind, asked Larry, when he turned to look at his friend. Arianne smiled appreciatively at the reference.

Man, this is much spookier than “The Omen”; much,” George emphasized, “we have that weird church thing alright, but we also have Richard Feynman and Stephen Hawking on our radar,” taking his coffee and a piece of lemon cake before sinking into the red faux-velvet chair, “and, I think, whatever it is, is moving more quickly, like we’re on a fast track to something, don’t you?”

“George,” began Larry, “we—Arianne and I—have talked with your mother; this was about a week ago,” and Larry outlined in great detail everything that he could remember of his conversation—or rather, his history lecture from Mrs. Dawson.

Larry stopped at the point before Mrs. Dawson had told him about the only know fact concerning George’s birth.

Arianne took a large sip of coffee while George sat rather happily in his favorite chair and waited for Larry to continue.

“George,” Arianne, addressing him in a soft, understated tone, “your mo—Mrs. Dawson says that you were adopted.”

Arianne fixed her eyes on George and waited for his reaction.

There was a long silence.

“I suspected as much . . . not from any specific proof; but all through my growing up, all the brothers and sisters—and particularly my father—treated me in a special way; sometimes, in really obvious ways; and I was embarrassed. Of course, the other nine kids were really pissed at both my parents; and especially me, but only the younger four or five took it out on me over the first eight; to ten years.

“When I had grown taller and stronger than any of them; three were girls, the hazing stopped and they all went along their life paths; to school, to the U; whatever.

“But my mother and father continued to spoil me, again; especially my father. I began to think that if I ws adopted, that it was from a woman that my dad had gotten pregnant. But it wasn’t”

George stopped in response to the twisting emotions that he was feeling. Most of them were coming along with home movies on his inner eye, where he watched and searched for any more clues that would help settle his situation—and his nerves.

“When I turned fourteen, I was almost as tall as I am now; and I guess Dad thought I was much older and could tell me something very important. But; he never did. He always ended up only telling me, “Another time, George, another time.”

“After while I just tuned it all out, so I could concentrate on school and then the U—and on women.”

He turned to Arianne, “I sure wish I’d found you before Larry did.”

He said this with a brilliant smile and you could almost feel the deep affection that George felt for Arianne. She could feel it too. She beamed right back at him, but remained silent.

Following the inhalation of another three pieces of lemon cake and half a cup of coffee, George smothered a burp, took a deep breath and concluded.

“Next thing, I’m out of college; worked for a physicist at a lab in Provo for four years and then came here; and, here I am!”

He spread his arms as far as they could go, “yup, come and get me!” He laughed with the patented George laugh and patted his two friends on the their shoulder, “and who could have two better friends, I ask you,” removing his hands, “and I am now endangering my two best friends over something that I am now sure of: because I was adopted,” creasing his face, “but, of course, I still don’t know what they want.”

“Who are the ‘they’, that want something from you, George?”

Quickly, “That’s just it Larry, I haven’t the faintest; I really don’t. I have been over my life and every job I’ve had; all the people I’ve ever met; and, nothing. As I told you the other day; I just don’t know.

Larry was angry. “Why would anyone want to stop time; erase photos;, sound like Dracula in old ladies’ clothing . . .is it to scare you; and if that is it, why; for what reason?
“I think this whole matter needs Mrs. Dawson here—right here!” Larry pounded the table, “yeah, right here; and explain why this is happening to you; and why she’s—they’re scaring the hell out my wife . . .  and me.”

Through the open balcony door entered some wisps of fog. George got up and moved to close it.

“No, wait!’ Larry grabbed at a memory,” wait; remember I told you about something I felt at Mrs. Soames’; and at Mr. Harrison’s . . . and now at Mrs. Cramer’s –who burned her own place down by the way, to get the insurance money—I told you that I heard a really deep voice and it felt like something went past me, out of her and past me, just like before,” with a pause for effect, “let’s see if whatever that is, is mobile; and might come through the balcony door.

“It’s clearly connected with you George; and all that material about your life on Mrs. Cramer’s computers; or someone’s computers. I never had the feeling that Mrs. Cramer housed whatever the invisible thing is; but you, like she, have been a host at moments.”

Larry then described in detail all the moments when it was clear to both himself and Arianne that George was ‘somewhere else’; ‘out of it’; ‘totally preoccupied’; or maybe, just maybe; ‘occupied’.

Arianne and Larry expected George to be furious about this news as well as some of the thinly-veiled accusations.

However, all these new revelations seemed to inspire him; he began to steal glances at the open balcony door.

And waited.

 

“Yes yes, they were here . . . No, he wasn’t alone; another man from his office; Harry; or maybe Larry; something like that; and a young woman . . . Yes, I’m positive it was George; I had his picture and all the information you sent me up on both my computers. . . . No, they never went up there; it’s almost a secret passage . . . Well I couldn’t very well tell her to go away; she came in the house first; in front of both of them.”

Joyce Cramer bent over and rested an elbow on the small side table as she listened.

“They said it was a special treat for me; she was doing something for training . . . no, I never saw her before; but she seemed to know George. In fact I got my ‘old woman’s radar’ going, and I think she either lives with the Harry character; married or not . . . yes yes, they’re both here . . . yes, they were on.  I’m positive they got nothing. I turned them off as soon as they left . . . . . . .

Well what about my money then; from my house . . . oh, you are? Well, that’s wonderful news. I want to get it all cleared and have them start rebuilding . . . yes; good . . . And George is sending me a check as well . . . no, whatever you did, he was with me all the way . . . oh no, I’m positive they didn’t hear you . . ..and they certainly couldn’t see you; some day you’ll have to show me how you do that . . . no, he was there when we came back to the main burned bits . . . No, I’m positive he arrived after I—you and I did . . . yes; of course they didn’t see anything; and the arson people didn’t tell me they found anything either. You . . . I mean you and your friends did an excellent clean-up job—and a perfect fire . . .  Of course I am; I just pressed the number one on the speed dial thingy, and there you were. I haven’t used my own phone for over a week.”

 

 

End of Chapter Five


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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