Return Engagements (Book Two) PART 9

(Continued from part eight)

A few minutes later the Corwins were up and about, meaning to serve us coffee, tea or something… anything.

Immediately both Lara and Jens stood and guided the Corwins to chairs.

Please,” Lara said, “it is necessary for us to serve you, and not be served by you.”

The Corwins didn’t know what to think, but sat all the same. Lara and Jens went to the kitchen and shortly returned with some hot water and tea bags that Dorthea had set out for our return. In the interim, I tried to keep them calm. From their perspective this was a thoroughly Bible-worthy event, and they were alternately feeling overwhelmed and unworthy.

Tea served, Lara sat down and turned to address the Corwins and myself.

There are two things we’d like,” she said. “The first is that we’d like Paul to give us a few moments to talk to Micah and Dorthea privately. The second is that we’d like Dorthea and Micah to excuse Paul for the evening. We’d like to take a drive with him and discuss a few things.”

The three of us agreed on both points and I excused myself from the table, heading to my guest room.

A few minutes later, I felt that ‘spiritual surge’ from them again, though it was different than last time. The first one was clearly an outpouring of love. This one felt utilitarian, like a movement of something.

Several minutes after there was a knock on my door. I said “Come in,” and Lara did.

It was gracious of them to give you this room,” she said, looking around and wiping away tears.

It was,” I said. “Whatever damages they carry, these are good people.”

We see it less as damage and more as developmental voids,” she quickly responded, “but in the midst of struggle, as you are, seeing it as damage is quite understandable.”

That, I was sure, was something I’d think about later. But for now I’d have to file it away.

Are you ready to come with us now?”

Just about,” I said, and began gathering my things.

Within a few minutes we were out the door and at the car. They asked me to drive and we combined our efforts to get the convertible top up. The temperature was dropping, the sun was declining, and it had been rather cold to drive with the top down even earlier.

* * * * *

They said they were hungry and asked me to take them somewhere I’d go whether or not they were with me. And that made it easy; I took them to the Chandelier restaurant on Dempster Avenue. It was long gone from my perspective, but I used to go there with my friends at this time. I had thought their blue cheese salad dressing was the best I’d ever had, and I wanted to try it again to see if my opinion held up. (It did.)

They were very quiet as we made our way north on Pulaski Ave., so I decided to ask.

Are you being quiet because you’re taking in a lot of impressions from the people here?”

Lara, in the front seat, smiled. “We are,” she said, “but we also don’t want to divert your thoughts.” Again they were carefully non-interfering, but I had an answer for them this time.

No diversion at all,” I said with a small laugh, “I often talk to imaginary people as I drive. I have for decades. I like it, and it helps me clarify my expression.”

Then talk we shall,” Jens effused as he slid forward from the back seat and leaned almost into the front. “Tell us about these people and places.”

From there I dropped into a travelogue that ended only when we were seated at the restaurant. It was very easy to talk to these people. And once we sat I was thrilled that we would be served by Hazel, who had been my favorite waitress. I had forgotten about Hazel long ago and was happy to see her again.

Jens and Lara went silent, which took me a moment to notice because I was caught up in thinking about all the people from the ‘70s I had forgotten. I was feeling lonely for them, and my new friends let me feel that way for as long as I needed.

As my loneliness slipped away, I realized that the the gentleness of these people would be one more thing that I’d hold in the back of my mind till I had time for it. That, in turn, made me consider how much room I had remaining in the back of my mind (more than half-way to maximum it seemed)… the fact that this same thing happened to me on my last insertion (a cluster of important events and the risk of burn-out)… that they were again waiting for me, but were in no way hurried or resentful of the wait… that talking more than listening might save my free brain space and prevent burn-out… that they might be acting toward that end already… that I’d still like to get more information from them… questioning whether there were any special measures I could take (coffee, perhaps, so long as I was sure of sleeping in tomorrow)… and that I should probably get back to experiencing them as beings, whether or not we spoke.

And then I realized that this entire train of thought had taken only two or three seconds… I had been thinking at tremendous speed, but it had been comfortable. I raised my eyes to examine their faces. They were smiling.

Jens leaned in toward me. “You see, you are able think at a high rate of speed, and pushing isn’t the way to do it.”

I nodded my head. They clearly helped in some way, but it was unquestionably me doing the thinking, and in the kind of pattern I normally took, except that it was faster and maybe more relaxed than usual.

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