Excerpts from the chapter "The List"
Published by Scott Denys in Chapter Excerpts · 8 March 2018
While first meetings are cautious and special, second meetings start breaking away the ice of personal defense. Check our characters as the talk together for the second time. Watch out, you may learn something. Feel free to issue me some thoughts!!
The phone. I put the cord on to authenticate the look of the apartment. Nothing more, nothing less. The cord is nothing more than a piece of cotton clothe line rope painted black to look like the original. At one time the key to visitor entry. Now, for the most part, inoperable with the exception of some electricity flowing to the phone. Tested at the door bell, nothing. Now nothing but an art piece built into the apartment.
But somehow Shea, appears, talks to me, says she talks to my father on the phone, tells me I can’t talk to my father on the same phone as I am not of that world, tells me we are going to help each other, then disappears. All totally logical and rational. Only if on high doses of hallucinogens.
In a curious way I walk over to the doorbell phone. I look around the edge. It looks innocent enough. I check the cord. It is still cotton clothe line painted black. I pick up the hand set. I look at it. It is still missing the talk piece cover. I put it to my ear. Nothing.
I am not of that world!
Shea’s last words were to come up with a plan of attack and a list of questions for her. She is still here to find out what had happened to her in order to help others avoid what had become of her. Could she be one of the 211,000 unsolved murders since 1980? She doesn’t even seem to know who she is other than the name Shea. And the name Shea could be code name. So going by name will not be a given, but a starting point.
Solving this mystery will most likely be the ultimate decision tree situation. Effectively Shea does not know who she is or where and when she is from. Somehow we will need to correlate that. What will she understand? Distance, elapsed time, career, home life events? Or is the way to success to bring up events and see how they correspond with her answers.
Better yet, what are the rules of engagement for this existence? Does the positiveness of Heaven count in this situation, or does that start at complete exit from Earth? It is odds on that the negative will creep in.
I look at the time on the marquis two doors down. It say 6:36. I have about 30 minutes before I have to go.
I retreat to the bathroom for a shower and shave. I get dressed, all but my outer shirt. That has been a habit of mine for years. I don’t want to mess a shirt by sloppy eating this early in the day. I look out the bedroom window at the marquis and see that it say 6:55. I have about 10 minutes.
As I get to the Kitchen, there is Shea wearing nothing but my Kitchen Apron.
“Do you cook?’ I asked.
“In a way,” Shea exchanged. “Is it always so hot in here? In January?”
“I don’t know,” I answered. “This is my first January. You can feel the heat?”
“In a way,” Shea stated. “This heat can be a problem for anyone. How can you stand it?”
I explained, “It’s included in the rent. I have no control. It is a hot water system. Those have always been good on extremely cold days, but open windows are needed on warmer days.”
“Hot water system run water through pipes and the pipes then radiate the heat” I thought explaining the system would give this a try to get an idea if facts about Shea would come out. I could put together an answer matrix then start drawing conclusions. It is a practice similar to when I was young and just starting the real workforce. I had a small workplace hobby where I would figure out which women were married and which were single.
“Mine blew air,” replied Shea.
“Blew air?” I caught.
“Yes, no water. Out of the holes in the wall you would have hot air blow out periodically. It never got this hot! January cold and to tolerate this you have to be naked!”
The technique is still a winner. I’ll make notes and start putting the whole process together. I said, “I do keep track of which way the wind is blowing with any rain and snow. The landlord doesn’t much like getting the wood floors all wet.
“So you are not used to extremely warm Januaries?”
“Good question,” Shea retorted. “I am definitely not used to it being so warm in the kitchen like this. Many of the houses I remember would have kitchen windows that let air in without much trying. I guess they figured the stove would heat the kitchen.”
I walked around her to get to the counter to get my breakfast. I took the plate off the top of my oatmeal bowl, then grabbed my cup of coffee and brought that to the table. Shea watched as I went back to the cabinet above the oatmeal bowl and took down the jar of honey. I immediately squirt honey over the top of the oatmeal, place the honey back into the cabinet, then carry the oatmeal bowl to the table.
Next I open the refrigerator, reach for the carton of hard boiled eggs and take one out. I crack the egg on the table, proceed to peel the egg dropping the shell fragments into an open napkin. In my usual organized way, I place the peeled egg on the plate, wrap the shell fragments in the napkin disposing the napkin in the trashcan between the stove and the refrigerator. I then went back to the egg and sprinkled it with pepper.
I sit down to eat my breakfast and offer Shea a seat at the table. She obliges and sits on the chair nearest the doorbell phone.
“You call that breakfast?” Shea inquired, “Oatmeal with honey, coffee, and a hard boiled egg?”
“It is my usual,” I said. “It goes quick and is easy to clean up.”
“A bit boring.” joked Shea. “Do you ever deviate?”
“Sure, I sometimes use pancake syrup in place of honey,” I answered.
“I mean is it always Oatmeal, a hard boiled egg, and a topping?”
“Every once in a while I feel hungrier so I have two hard boiled eggs.”
“That does seem to be excessively consistent and boring,” laughed Shea.
“I suppose you have something better?” I asked somewhat snottily, “Please enlighten me with a creative suggestion or two. What might be one of your favorite breakfast combinations?”
Shea started, “Eggs are a good start, but it is what to do with them. One idea is to take the eggs, mix it with sausage and cheese baked with stuffing. Or perhaps scramble a few eggs and melt a slice of American Cheese on it.
“Eggs aside, you can do some walnut pancakes, ultra eggy french toast, or sour cream waffles and have a side of grits with either of these?”
“That sounds like that would take time,” I calculated. “I normally don’t allocate much time to breakfast preparation.
“Then try some spags and beans.”
“Whaaa?” I choked.
“I do feel adventurous some mornings though.”
Shea’s curiosity is peaked. “I’m interested”
“When I do have a little extra time, I make a specialty omelet.”
“A specialty omelet,” Shea exclaimed. “Now you are talking. What kind is it?”
“An oatmeal omelet!” I declared.
“An oatmeal omelet?! I have never heard of such a thing.”
“It’s part of a gluten free thing that I do,” I explained, “I have cut back on wheat and bread products. I mixed oatmeal in with the eggs to give it a bit more body and filling.”
“Very creative,” complimented Shea. “So have you come up with some questions?”
“I have. It will be interesting as to how this might work. If you don’t mind, I will start with a few obvious questions. Do you have an idea of either how old you are now or were when you passed?” I asked.
“No, I have no idea.”
“Do you have any knowledge of where you might be from or where you may have lived last?” I asked.
“No clue on that either. It seems that when I chose to see what had happened to me they erased my knowledge of those things,” Shea explained.
“But you know walnut pancakes,” I queried.
“And eggs, mix it with sausage and cheese baked with stuffing,” Shea said.
“And a heating system that did not overheat you with water, but blew air!”
As I finish my breakfast I start thinking that the clock has been running. I think, that I will be late for work. I thought about what had just happened. Shea had no memories of my specific questions. However, she could relate to things like breakfast menu items, house construction and heating systems.
I mosey to the sink to fill water in the cleaning pan. As I start to wash my dishes Shea asks, “Don’t you have a machine that can do that?”
I look around the kitchen. “The kitchen is a bit small for that, isn’t it?”
“I suppose you are right,” Shea answered, “I just don’t think that I have ever washed too many dishes by hand.”
As I look out the window at the marquis, to my surprise the time reads 6:55. Strange I thought. I go back to the bed room, grab my shirt, and start putting it on. I glance over at the clock and it says 6:55. I button up and tuck in. I start on my way back to the kitchen to turn the light off. Shea is talking on the doorbell phone.
“You said he was creative. But an oatmeal omelet? We have determined that direct questions won’t work. I just don’t have the memory of events or locations.
“Are you sure this is going to work? We talked a bit about his kitchen, breakfast items, building construction, and how warm it is in this apartment. No, I don’t think he noticed.”
“Shea,” I interrupted her as she was talking on the phone, “It looks like I will be early for work. Oh, I think I may have an idea or two where you have spent at least a part of your life.
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