Authors: Will Overby
Somehow, the three of them maneuvered into their own
frenzied, surging triangle that seemed to take on an energy of its own. And just
when he thought he couldn’t keep up the pace any longer, when sweat was pouring
down his face in rivers, Shelley pressed two tablets into his hand. He looked
down at them curiously. At first he thought they were some kind of candy; they
were mint green and embossed with a picture of a leaping dolphin. “What are
they?” he yelled above the noise.
She laughed breathlessly. “Just take ’em. It’s all
He popped them into his mouth and felt them dissolve
on his tongue into a bitter, chalky paste, which he washed down with a swallow
After that, everything became fuzzy and strange.
He continued dancing with the girls, and was
beginning to think he wasn’t doing half bad, when the music just became
somehow. It was an
of him, flowing through the
room and through his body at the same time, a type of radical energy storm.
He’d seen those glass globes with sizzling bolts of purple light inside that
would follow your fingertips along the surface, and this was almost like that.
Except now he was the center of the globe, and his energy, his
seemed connected to everyone else in the room. He could almost see it, like a
shimmering, pulsating web extending from his center outward.
Shelley was watching him, smiling. “How ya feel?”
He nodded. “Fantastic.”
She grinned wider. “You keep laughing.”
“Isn’t it great?” Abby said.
Abby’s slender body seemed to move in slow motion,
writhing with the beat. He wondered what she looked like naked, and then it
seemed as though he could see through her clothes, watching her breasts sway,
her sleek flat stomach undulate.
Suddenly, he wanted her. He wanted Shelley, too.
He wanted both of them, and they wanted him. The three of them were pressed
together, moving together with the music, their arms wrapped around each other,
and he was kissing them both. He was hard as a stone.
How or when they left the Capitol he could not
recall. The next thing he remembered was rolling around in a bed between the
two of them. They were all three kissing, licking, moving, flowing. He tasted
one, then the other, and he didn’t know which. The three of them were one huge
writhing, sweating, slippery, fucking mass. He was deep inside Shelley,
thrusting powerfully, then he withdrew and plunged into Abby. Something,
either a dildo or a vibrator, slipped inside him and began moving in and out.
pushing the old envelope now,
he thought. And suddenly he was coming, an
orgasm that erupted from his very soul. White sparks of light flashed before
him, and then he drifted away to a plane where the pleasure was so painfully
intense that his mind could not fathom it. His whole being, even his
was caught up in it; each hair on his body seemed to be firing off its own
And then in the next instant he was in the truck,
heading out of town in the pre-dawn darkness. He was completely naked, and the
gas pedal was strange and foreign beneath his bare foot. His heart was
—in his chest. Sweat was pouring down his face,
his back, his stomach. How did he get here? Where were his clothes? The
clock on the bank sign said it was a little after four; where in the hell had
he been the past few hours? Had he and the girls fallen asleep? Why couldn’t
He realized he was almost home. He managed to pull
into the driveway and stop the truck. He killed the ignition and sat there in
the dark for a moment. His heart felt like it would burst out of him any
second. He took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself down, but it seemed
Then he remembered those little green tablets. The
ones with the dolphins on them. What the hell had they been? It was both
wonderful and terrifying at the same time. If Shelley had told him what they
were, he couldn’t remember. He just knew they had knocked him flat on his ass
and he had lost complete control of everything, including his memory.
He took a few more deep breaths, then crawled out of
the truck. The house was dark, and he wondered briefly if he should wake Marla
to take him to the emergency room.
He let himself in the back door and felt his way through
the pitch black to the bedroom. Marla was sleeping, her breathing heavy and
steady. Suddenly, he was afraid. What if he died right here on the floor next
to the bed?
It’s just that his heart was racing. On and on.
Why wouldn’t it stop? What was in those pills? Were they some kind of
uppers? Maybe he needed a sedative, something to counteract it.
He pulled on a pair of shorts from the bureau and
quietly made his way back outside to the barn. He switched on the lights, and
the sudden brightness stabbed painfully into his head, blinding him
momentarily. As his eyes adjusted, he squinted at the tarp-covered Mustang,
remembering he had promised Derek they would work on it this weekend. Fuck
that, he thought.
Behind his workbench in a little niche of the barn
wall was an old cigar box. Inside the box was a small plastic bag of pot, some
cigarette papers, a roach clip, and a lighter. His hands were shaking so badly
he could hardly roll a joint. He didn’t know if this was safe to do on top of those
pills or not, but he had to bring himself down, and he had to do it fast.
He turned the lights out and melted back into an old
wooden desk chair in the dark, sucking down the sweet smoke and holding it in.
Even the pot seemed intensified. What the hell had those pills been?
Gradually, his pounding heart began to slow and he
began to cool off. The rivers of sweat dried up, and his mind no longer felt
He realized he was exhausted, completely and utterly
drained. He went back to the house and crawled between the sheets next to
Marla. He was asleep in seconds.
When he awoke, the bedroom was full of light. The
clock said it was almost noon, and he could hear Marla stirring around, doing
her Saturday cleaning. He sat up on the edge of the bed, his head thick and
groggy, his stomach half-nauseated.
In the kitchen, he grabbed a beer from the
refrigerator and headed for the front porch. He brushed past Marla, who was
wiping down the counters, but didn’t say a word. Neither did she; he figured she
He sat down on the cold concrete of the edge of the
porch, his feet dangling, which is where he was when Joel pulled up. He
wondered again about his crazy night. Where all did he go and what did he do
during those hours between screwing around with Shelley and Abby and waking up
naked behind the wheel? It was frightening, and it made him angry.
Beside him, his beer had grown warm and yeasty in
the midday sun; he drank it anyway.
* * *
Joel weaved his cart through the aisles of Walmart,
trying to stay in the edges of the store as far away from activity as
possible. He hated public places like this. Occasionally when pressed with
other people in a crowd, he accidentally brushed against them, and their
thoughts would float through his head like a drifting radio station. Other
times another person’s smell might simply be enough to trigger a vision or
strong feeling, but that was unpredictable.
A couple of years ago he’d gone with Wade, Marla,
and Derek to a Civil War battlefield that was now a state park. They’d planned
on having a picnic and maybe renting a boat down on the river. But at one
point, while poking around the battlefield, they had ended up in the park’s
museum, a building that had served as a hospital during the skirmish that had
occurred there. Everything was fine for a little while; they moved through the
exhibits of dusty rifles and minié balls wordlessly and unimpressed. But when
they’d reached the room featuring a display of medical equipment, Joel had been
unable to go in. The whole feeling of the air had changed. Its sudden
heaviness pressed on him and he couldn’t breathe. He bolted, running out of
the building to the sunlit park. It wasn’t as if he’d seen a ghost or
anything; it had simply been an overpowering and oppressive sense of fear.
Later he learned the room had served as the operating ward, where doctors had
amputated the arms and legs of screaming soldiers, most times without an
anesthetic. The panic and terror of those few wounded men was so strong that
Joel had been able to sense it a hundred and fifty years later.
Most objects or places he encountered never had much
emotion attached to them. That was particularly lucky considering how much
time in other people’s homes his job required. There came a point when you
didn’t want to know certain things about people, especially when you were
crawling around under their houses or hunkered down on their bedroom floor.
He maneuvered the cart around the end of the aisle,
not really looking at anything, just walking and thinking. He stopped.
Someone was following him. He could feel eyes boring into him like drill
bits. He froze. He had entered the crafts section, and now he scanned the
shelves, pretending to be extremely interested in the colors of yarn, but
watching along the periphery of his vision.
And suddenly, there she was. A slender dark-skinned
woman in jeans and a red T-shirt. Her black hair was pulled back neatly into
plaits, and a slight smile curled the corners of her full lips. She was
staring at him with an air of familiarity as if expecting him to greet her. He
glanced around and saw that no one else was near.
His first thought was that she was some kind of
psycho. But as he looked closer, he knew that could not be the case. She was
dressed too neatly, was too clean, and had an aura of wealth about her. But
yet, there was something in the back of his mind, something both comfortable
and thrilling at the same time, something that made the hairs on the back of
his neck prickle. Was he supposed to recognize her? Had she been a customer?
He cleared his throat. “Do I… do I know you?”
She smiled fully, and it was a smile of kindness.
“I don’t think so,” she answered, and her voice was like warm, dripping honey.
“You seem so familiar.”
She nodded, still smiling. “You’re a sensitive,
His arms and legs went numb. He stared at her
“A sensitive. A seer. Whatever you call it. You
can read people, can’t you?”
He continued to stare, and he felt himself nod
almost involuntarily. “How…?
She laughed. “I’m one, too.”
A dry laugh of incredulity escaped from his throat.
“I’ve been watching you for several weeks.” A stab
of alarm shot through him; it must have shown on his face, because she laughed
again. “I don’t mean I’ve been stalking you or anything. I’ve just seen you
out places, noticed things about you. Watched how you stayed on the fringes of
things. Tried not to touch people. That kind of stuff. I wasn’t sure at
been wrong before about people. But when I ran into you
today, I knew.”
“I was behind you when you came into the store. I
saw the greeter try to give you a cart, but as soon as you touched it, you
asked for another one.”
All he could do for a moment was blink. It was
refused to take that first cart. It had felt
somehow, like grabbing hold of—
“It was like grabbing hold of a live wriggling
snake,” she said, finishing his thought, and laughing at his expression. “I
know. I didn’t take it, either.”
He was smiling in spite of himself. “What do you
think it was?”
She shook her head. “Not sure. Maybe the person
who’d used it before was psychotic. Who knows?”
He was beginning to feel as though he had passed
over into a surreal dream. This beautiful black woman had appeared from
nowhere knowing bizarre, intimate aspects of his life. She was practically
reading his mind. Unease again overtook him. “Look,” he said, “I don’t mean
to be rude. You seem like a very nice person. I’m just not interested in
anyone right now.”
A burst of laughter popped out of her, and she
covered her mouth. “I’m sorry,” she said, stifling her giggles. “I didn’t
mean for you to think I was hitting on you. It did sound like that, didn’t
He was more confused than ever. His face was
suddenly hot and flushed. “Then what do you want?”
She was laughing, shaking her head, showing her
perfect white teeth. She dug into her purse and pulled out a notepad. “My
name’s Deb,” she said. “There are about fifteen of us now. We meet one Sunday
afternoon a month over in Springfield at St. Thomas Church. Tomorrow’s the
day. Two o’clock.” She scribbled this information down and handed him the
He shook his head, bewildered. “I don’t
She looked at him directly. “We’re like you. All
“All fifteen of you?”