Part Twelve – A Good Night’s Sleep
I sent Amber a text and was waiting on a reply when I heard a knock on my door. Thinking it was Amber, I opened the door without looking.
“I have been waiting…” I started to say, but it was not Amber. It was Natasha (Mary Jane). She did not invite herself in and I was not about to invite her in. I was waiting for word from Amber and it would be like her to just show up without texting me back.
“Hi, Ken. Can I come in?” Natasha asked.
“Damn it!” I thought, “You know you’re making a mistake, Ken.” “Sure.” I told Natasha, and stood aside so she could walk in the room. One of the arm chairs was positioned so you could see it through the open door. I offered Natasha that chair and pulled the other chair close to her and left the door open. Now if someone approached the door they could see both of us clearly. I little trick I learned from reading a Billy Graham book a few years earlier. Billy Graham was one of the few pastors of his age that never had a sex scandal. When asked about it, Billy Graham explained that he never took a one on one meeting with a woman behind closed doors. It seemed to work for him, hopefully it would work for me.
“I won’t take much of your time.” She said. “I just really wanted to explain some things about my father, and maybe offer a small warning.”
“Ok.” I said, a little confused.
She was still wearing her long black dress, but had brushed her hair and washed most of the makeup from her face. I also noticed her fingernails were no longer black. “I paint them with acrylic paint before each show.” She said, seeing that I had noticed them. “I would never wear black fingernails. I hate that Goth look. But, it adds a little something to the show.”
“Sold out tonight.” I offered, “Can’t get much better than that.”
“Yeah, that was great, but it doesn’t happen that often. Tonight, we made just over a grand, including tips. After the hotel get it’s twenty five percent cut, it barely cover’s expenses.” She explained.
“And the two- drink minimum?” I asked.
“Every cent goes to the hotel bar.” She said. “It’s part of the deal.”
“Natasha, it sounds like you need to renegotiate the contract.” I told her.
“Natasha? she asked, “Did you just call me Natasha?”
“Sorry about that.” I laughed, “It’s just that when I saw you at the ticket counter, I thought you looked like Natasha from the Rocky and Bullwinkle show.”
“I think that was a little before my time” She said, “But I like it, I don’t have a stage name yet. Natasha…” She said as if she was trying on the name to see if it fit. “I don’t know why the money bothers me so much.” She replied, “Dad is wealthy, we really don’t need the money.”
“Then, why do it?” I asked.
“I know you don’t believe it, but what he does is real.” She said, “Except for the card trick and a few special effects, the rest of the show is authentic. He’s had this gift since he was thirteen years old.”
“Ok.” I nodded my head urging her on.
“He was a normal sized kid when he was younger. When he hit thirteen, he started to grow. His parent’s, who were also wealthy, took him to every specialist they could think of, but no one could explain it. They normally ended saying that he was just going to be a big man.”
“And the whole, speaking to spirits, deal?” I asked.
“That came with the growth spurt.” She went on, “At first he kept it to himself, but when he realized he could help people with his gift, he told his parents. That was a disaster. They told him that if he kept up the act they would put him away.”
“I’m assuming he isn’t close with his parents now, right?” I asked, trying to keep her talking.
“They are both dead.” She said, “But his mom and dad were around long enough to witness things with their own eyes. So, they were actually closer in the end.” She paused, “Sometimes I catch him talking to himself, but I think he is really talking to them.”
“Your warning?” I said.
“You like to get to the point, don’t you?” She said, “Oh, you’re expecting a visitor. That’s why you left the door open. Smart.”
“She’s been hurt before.” I explained, “Why risk it?”
“I won’t take any more of your time. She said as she stood up and walked to the open doorway, “I just wanted you to know that when dad gets his teeth into something like this, he won’t let it go until he’s figured it out. He’s going to be getting very personal with you. This is not the first time he’s been asked for help.”
She stood up and walked toward the open doorway. “Thanks for the information.” I said as she walked out the door, “Now I know what to expect. And don’t worry I’m an open book, I have very little ego left.” Then I asked, “By the way, how did he do that card trick?”
“Magic.” She smiled, and turned around the corner to go down the staircase. As she walked away she held both arms out to her sides, as if she were responding to a cheering crowd, and I heard her say, “Natasha”.
I closed the door and checked my cell phone. Amber had sent a text ten minutes ago.
“Want some company.” She had texted.
I texted back joking, “Who is this and how did you get this number?”
She quickly texted back, “LOL, I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
I slept like a baby the rest of the night. I only remember one dream and it was about my daughter, Jasmine. It was about the time Jasmine nearly got hit by a car. We were going to her sixth-grade school play and some idiot was speeding through the parking lot. Jasmine was walking a few steps ahead of us. We heard the screeching tires and saw Jasmine fall. I ran to her and saw her legs under the car. At first I thought she had been run over, but afterward realized that she had just fallen that way. Dumb luck really.
It was nearly eleven o’clock when I woke up. Amber was still asleep next to me. She had curled up in a ball like a kitten. When I moved to sit on the edge of the bed, the movement woke her up.
“Damn.” She said, “This is one comfy bed, I don’t want to get up.” She stretched, rolled toward me and poked my ass with her toe. “You all right old man?”
“Hey, you did most of the work last night.” I answered. “And, my back thanks you. I owe you one.”
“If you remember correctly, you owe me two.” She purred, “Coffee?”
“I’ll order some for you, kitten.” I smile at her and picked up the phone. For some reason the room smelled of wet dog.