I am having so much fun writing Somewhere Else.
Here’s the blurb (so far…will probably be revised at some point…) so, a Working Blurb.
Everyone needs a working blurb, after all…
A non-physical walk-in soul makes an agreement with another incarnated soul to take over her body. The Walk-in, perhaps too fearless, and too hungry for the pleasures of the flesh, discovers she has inherited the life of Daelah Murdock, a Mormon goody-two-shoes with a pathological attachment to the color pink. The surrogate soul’s life as a lesbian cop did not prepare her for this. Or did it? As a live-in caregiver for two men–one blind, the other wheelchair bound–Daelah’s life seems bland and puerile.
Except that someone is trying to kill her.
The Color of Confusion
I felt like myself. But something had changed.
For the last few minutes, I had been trying to assimilate the volumes of information that had seemingly been downloaded into my brain. Everything from how to tie my shoes, to the relative merits of clean underwear.
Since kicking off the bed covers in this unfamiliar room, and finding the bathroom mirror, nothing was making sense. Stunned by the sensation that the face looking back at me in the glass was not my own, I scrambled in my mind for any explanation.
I sank down on the edge of the bed, rubbing my eyes and considering my confusion.
Maybe it was the dream. The one that had played out in my mind just before I emerged from nocturnal bliss that morning. I had to make sense of this weirdness thrust upon me by some unknown force. I didn’t think it was coming from the glowing white essence in the dream. The essence was shaped somewhat like an elongated teardrop, and had told me, telepathically, Thank you. I wasn’t sure what the gratitude was for. But it’s always nice to be thanked.
I had no way of knowing what I, myself, looked like in the dream, but sensed I was also a glowing essence. I had reached out to grasp the wrist that emerged from the shimmering entity–a human wrist, clenching my own in farewell.
When the Teardrop Essence vanished, my dreamself noticed a tattoo of a strange symbol on my inner forearm. But when I woke, the tattoo was not on my skin. So I sat up to draw the symbol on the pad of paper at the nightstand.
Now, here I was, frowning down at the paper, sensing that the symbol was important, but I wasn’t quite sure why. The shape resembled an ankh, the universal symbol of eternal life, but it was like a blending of two ankhs, one upright, the other upside down, and joined at the stems.
Sitting back down on the bed, I heard a saxophone. It was coming from somewhere in the house. This house I didn’t know a thing about, any more than I knew about this room in which I’d awakened. I recognized the sax tune as Patsy Cline’s Crazy.
Apropos, maybe. I wasn’t feeling exactly sane at the moment.
I opened the door to this unfamiliar room and stepped into the corridor. A dark wood staircase led down into a foyer. Holding onto the rail, I gingerly descended to the landing, my hand on the newel post.
The saxophone was coming from the room at the end of the corridor.
I turned right and continued down the hall to the room with open double doors. A man sat in a wheelchair in front of an easel, painting. Another man sat on the sofa with the saxophone, wearing dark glasses.
The painting man noticed me, glanced my way then glanced back, his gaze focused on me.
The saxophone man kept playing, unaware of my presence, as I stood there like a stranger in a strange land.
I turned and retraced my steps back to the bottom of the staircase. I stared into the kitchen. A long countertop in them idle, the usual appliances. But I’d never seen this kitchen before.
Feeling a caress at my shin, I looked down at the black and white cat, there. The feline peered up at me, ears perked, and I closed my eyes. This was still a dream, maybe. A dream within a dream.
Then all at once, in my mind’s eye, I saw the corridor behind me, but from the vantage point low to the floor. My view was traveling, like some camera was attached to…to the cat? The mind-camera paused at the doorway, an upward view of the man in the wheelchair, painting. The man glanced at the camera lens that had become my eyes.
The painting-man paused with vermilion loaded up on his brush, about to make a bold swath across the canvas, when he noticed something down the corridor. Like he was looking at me; or where my body was, in the entry to the kitchen.
Placing the laden brush in his teeth, he reached down and readjusted the position of his wheelchair so he could see me better.
The painter frowned, a drop of vermilion free falling from the end of his brush onto a dried spot of cobalt blue on his sweats.
A tapping grew louder and he twisted toward the corridor leading out of the living room as the saxophone man stood and made his way toward the painter, seated at his easel. The saxophone man moved the white-tipped cane back and forth in front of him. Tap. Tap. Tap, Tap.
I could still see this from the viewpoint of the cat.
The painter took the brush from his mouth and caught his attention with, “Psst!”
The sax-man paused, one hand on the horn dangling from a cord around his pale neck, the other on the cane. His lifting of eyebrows at the sound made his wraparound sunglasses bob upward on his nose. “What?” he whispered back.
Keeping his voice in a whisper, still, the painter said, “Have you noticed anything strange about Daelah today?”
“How would I notice anything about Daelah?” The blind man smirked.
The painter swiped a hand down his face. “You know what I mean.”
“Well, yes…” the sax-man took a few steps forward, sliding the tip of the cane along the wood floor in front of him. “She smells different.”
“Nope. Individual, natural scent is different.”
“Okay, weirdness.” Painter-man turned back to watch me, where my body was, anyway, at the end of the corridor, where I stood with my eyes closed, still. I was aware of this body enough to enjoy the visceral feel of it. I stretched, and moaned, enjoying the sensations, as if I’d gained a different encasement of human flesh that was not my own. As if I’d been without a human encasement until now.
My mind’s eye vision was still with the cat, and I saw the sax-man cock his head toward my sounds. “What the hell is she doing? Playing with herself?”
“Just stretching… like she’s never stretched before. She seems to be enjoying it too much but weird, like a cat..”
If you only knew, I thought
Sax-man took measured steps forward, made a left face, and then moved quietly down the hall, holding his cane against his chest. He paused not three feet behind me.
I knew I was still standing at the end of the long corridor leading to the kitchen, near the foot of the stairs, but my eyes were in some way still attached to the cat’s eyes.
I opened the eyes on my body, and saw the kitchen again. I looked up at the ceiling, and down at my hands, and touched my own face.
A rude honk from the sax startled me, had me stumbling against the wall. I turned to stare at him. This time, with the eyes attached to my body.
Feigning ignorance, he said, “Oh, is someone there?” He lifted his cane and swept it side to side, comically searching for me.
In the living room threshold, painter-man let out a humorous huff. “You scared me,” I said.
“Oh. Sorry.” He lowered the cane.
“How can you sneak up like that when–”
I meant to add, when you’re blind.
“I have sonar like a dolphin,” he said. “I can sense the walls and obstacles…I can feel the ions in the air, parting for my passage.”
“Right,” came the snide remark a short distance behind him.
I leaned out to see past sax-man toward the approaching wheelchaired painter rolling down the hall toward us.
Sax-man cocked his head. “Are you okay, Daelah? You smell funny.”
“What?” I said.
“Huh?” he responded, seeming just as confused about my misunderstanding as I was about his statement. I knew he had a keen sense of smell. I knew he noticed the minutiae most people missed. The subject had come up many times before, hadn’t it?
Frowning again, the man in the wheelchair stopped beside the blind man. Sax-man released his hold on the saxophone to sweep his hand at waist level, toward the disabled painter, catching him in the face. “Oh, there you are,” the blind man said.
“Stop it!” wheelchair-man reprimanded him, slapping his hand away.
Addressing the still-baffled me, Wheelchair said, “You seem weird today, Daelah.”
“I…” Peering to my right, up the staircase, I finished, “I think I’ll go up and lie down for awhile.”
I turned and climbed the steps, making a cursory sweep of attention toward the photos on the stairway wall, and glancing back at the two men as if they were friendly house-spiders, but spiders, just the same.
I spent an hour or so roaming around the bedroom, seeking clues to my befuddlement. The most obvious thing to grab my attention was the décor. If you could call this gaudy display décor. The bedspread was an aggravating shade of pink, and there was a pink dust ruffle made of lace around the bed. I hated it. Likewise, the matching horridly pink lampshade on the nightstand, had engendered more repulsion. Though the walls were a standard eggshell color, they were festooned with all things pink.
This could not possibly be my own room, though I had awakened here. Peering down at myself, I noticed I was wearing a hideous pink nightgown with lace around the collar. I pulled it off like it was on fire, and hurried to the closet.
Inside the wardrobe nook, my efforts to find more agreeable attire had met with a nightmarish array of pink, salmon, lavender, and fuchsia. The singular exception was a black T-shirt, banished to the far end of the clothes rod. I turned it toward me to look at it. A depiction of a bread-like ring bejeweled with fruit and nuts graced the front, and below it in white letters was the word Fruitcake. No doubt this was a gift from someone with a sense of humor who was making a veiled suggestion about the pink-woman’s mental status.
The Pink Woman. I had framed it as though the pink woman was not me. But it wasn’t me. Yet here I was, being me. Or her.
As I pulled the black fruitcake T-shirt over my head, snatched a pair of jeans and pulled them on, and added some atrocious pink sneakers to my–no surprise–pink socks, I felt a little more like myself. Whoever that was.
Emerging from the closet, I stood in the middle of the room and thought about it all. I wasn’t myself. Couldn’t be. What did that mean?
Teardrop Essence & The Pink Woman
My trip downstairs did not garner much information. The house was like a familiar place from long ago, yet almost erased from my memory.
The tall, angular blind man holding the saxophone, with his aquiline nose, and almost-flawless skin, pallid from a lack
of sunshine. And the crippled painter. He seemed familiar, but not…really. But I lived here in their house. Or they, in mine. That much was clear, if only by the reaction of these two housemates. They seemed familiar, but I didn’t know them, as odd as that contradiction was. I had known better than to say, who are you? I was aware of several things I suspected I shouldn’t know at this point, but precisely who these two men were, I wasn’t sure about.
And what was up with that cat’s-eye-view downstairs? My vision had been moving around with the cat…as if my eyes were attached to the cat’s head. I was the cat’s eyes. I could hear what the cat heard, too. I was in the cat? How is that possible?
I saw the wretched pink purse on the dresser, and pulled out the aggravating pink wallet. The driver’s license read,
72 North Tapioca
Cedar City, Utah.
Tapioca? Who the hell would live on a street called Tapioca? Was Pudding Circle all full-up?
I perused the license again. The photo looked like my reflection in the mirror from earlier. I was apparently female, and 36 years old.
Digging through the pukey pink purse, I found a side pocket, and in it, a folded bulletin from the Church of Latter Day Sa
ints. What was that, Saints who weren’t quite here, but would be, tomorrow? The newsletter had a mailing label addressed to me, or the Daelah-pink-person, anyway, which meant I might actually be a card-carrying member of the Polygamy Pack.
Suddenly, I wondered if the two men downstairs were my husbands. Although why I would have chosen a blind man and a cripple for my spouses, was unclear. No. wait…it didn’t work that way…it was the men who got to have numerous wives…th
at’s certainly not fair. Unless this was another planet or an alternate reality where there was a matriarchy in place. That would be cool.
Glancing around at my obvious pink fetish, the answer to that was a little easier to guess. I had a screw loose, and they were the only two Mormon men left who would have my stupid pink ass. Except I couldn’t suffer from a blow to my self-esteem, since this was about that Daelah-person. Not me. Except, once again, here I was, being her.
Also in the handbag was a tube of lipstick the color of–again, no surprise–Passion Pink. I thought I would vomit if I had to look at all this pink much longer. My gut was already queasy.
Moving into the bathroom, I checked my reflection once more, just to be sure, and then opened the medicine cabinet, fully expecting it to be lined with bottles of Pepto Bismol, if only by the fetish of its color. There was only one bottle of the stuff, yet I was not encouraged by that paltry representation. I grabbed it, screwed off the lid and took a slug of it. I was drinking something pink to quell the queasiness brought on by so many pink things. Oh, the irony.
When I put it back, I saw a prescription. Alprazolam. A generic form of Xanax. This told me that Daelah Murdock had some sort of anxiety disorder, though the only anxiety I felt now stemmed from my confused, Swiss-cheese memory and the proliferation of pink in this infernal bedroom. A plastic bottle of Tums resided next to the Pepto, its contents graced by periodic pink tablets as well. What was up with this woman? Why was she so obsessed with pink? This woman. Me. Not me. Hell’s bells.
Closing the cabinet, I noticed in the mirror, for the first time, my hair. I looked like the Flying Freaking Nun, my crowning glory more a hat than a head of hair, if the amount of hairspray was any indication. I opened several drawers until I found a hairbrush, and stroked it through the glue-like texture on each side, yelping when the bristles hit a sore spot.
Reaching up, I felt a huge lump at the back of my skull. Ahhh…that explains it. I’d bumped my head.
A frisson of panic burned its way through my chest and up into my brain. What if the Teardrop Essence dream and the downloaded brain matter was the result of a head injury? What if I had forgotten everything about myself and it never reappeared in my consciousness? Maybe not such a bad thing, I reassured myself, considering what I had discovered so far.
My attention snapped back to my reflection, and in lieu of an answer to the head injury question, I resolved to let my hair grow out, and get some real body in it, to avoid the churchy look.
I was so hungry. And, oddly, horny. I’d have to address those concerns soon, but for now, I had to figure out what the hell was going on.
I felt I was being watched. Looking up, I saw the cat. It was standing in the doorway, watching me. I wondered if maybe I could send it downstairs for a little eavesdropping again. “Here, kitty kitty,” I said. I was t
hinking about my earlier discovery where my mind attached itself to the cat.
It loped over and jumped on the bed, agreeably. Now, I noticed the infernal pink collar it was wearing. I reached for the buckle, and saw the nameplate on the leather. Polly. Probably short for polygamy, if past experience with Daelah was any indication.
“Hello, Polly. I’m about to do you a favor, and then I want you to do me one, deal?” I removed the collar and rubbed her now-unadorned neck. She purred and dropped down to writhe on the bed next to me.
I closed my eyes and focused on the cat’s head and thought go downstairs and listen
to those two men…I waited in the darkness behind my eyelids until an image popped into my mind again. A video image. Who knew that traversing the stairs tilted forward and low to the ground, would look so scary? But it was working. I rode along with Polly as she padded into the livingroom and jumped up on a chair. I even saw the paw come toward my face and a pink (ick…grrr) tongue licking it. Then I focused on listening through the cat.
Cornelius rolled into the kitchen and I heard him coming, so I had to begin implementing the only plan I had so far. Feeding my carnal needs. Operation: Slake. I graced him with a view of Daelah’s backside, now my backside, as I bent down with my head in the refrigerator.
“Thank God,” he said.
I raised up to regard him, but said nothing.
“What’s for dinner?” he asked.
“I give up, what?”
“You’re not going to cook?”
“Why would I do that?”
“It’s your job, that’s why.”
“It may have been the other Daelah’s job, but it’s not mine.” I turned back to the ‘fridge, even gave my ass a little wiggle, just to see what effect it would have.
He didn’t seem to be baiting properly.
“What do you mean, the other Daelah?”
I stood to face him; let my tongue brush over the front of my teeth. I decided they were free of food bits, which was important, when you were trying to dazzle a man with your smile. Men like it when you do things that make them look at your mouth. Because all they can think of in regard to mouths, is how perfectly they fit around a dick. I’m not sure where I got that information, but it seemed plausible.
As I let my tongue play a little on my teeth, I decided they felt clean enough, but I’d have to get something other than that red Close-Up. It was way too close to pink. Especially when spit and water was added.
Corn-Cripple bumped the ‘fridge door with his chair. “What do you mean, the other Daelah?”
Persistent little bugger. I was going to have to tell him. If for no other reason than it was distracting him from my seduction efforts. I needed to get laid, and soon. I closed the door and looked down at him. Not a bad looking guy really. He could have used a haircut, though. “You’re gonna think I’m crazy if I tell you what I mean.”
“I already think you’re crazy. I think your brain got scrambled when you fell down the stairs.”
Mmm. Interesting. “When did I fall down the stairs?”
“Two days ago.”
I had no memory of that, so I said, “I have no memory of that.”
“My point exactly.”
“So, I didn’t get my head injury in the accident you two had?”
He frowned harder. “No…we met in the hospital, after that.”
“Look. What’s your name again?” I knew his name, but I was playing aloof, because men liked the women they couldn’t have.
“Cool. Cornelius.” I opened a cabinet and pulled out a bag of chips, opening it and plunging my hand in. “Something happened to me, and I’m not quite sure what, yet, but whoever Daelah was two days ago, she’s not here anymore. I’m here.” I used a chip as a gesturing device as I spoke. It worked quite well, but I wanted it in my mouth, so I crunched into it. “And frankly, if I had run into her, I would have squished her like a bug.” I poked another chip in and smacked my lips rudely. Mmm. I looked at the bag. Mesquite Barbeque. Delicious.
Corn-boy rolled back in his chair a few inches. “You realize that what you just said sounds insane.”
I crammed in more chips. “Of course it does,” I said around the chips, accidentally blowing a few crumbs into the air; one of which landed on his cheek. He barely flinched. “Nonetheless, it’s true. I woke from a weird dream this morning, and I have no memory of this chick–” I indicated myself, so he’d know I was talking about this body, but not necessarily me. “All I can figure is that I’ve somehow taken control of her body and she’s…gone. Which means I can do whatever I want with this body…” I gave him a wry lift of an eyebrow, hoping he’d catch on.
He stared at me, unblinking. Maybe he was thinking about the surrogate soul concept, maybe he was just thinking about my mouth on him, finally.
I prodded, “Get it?”
“Good.” I set the chips down, opened the ‘fridge again, pulled out a plastic container, and lifted the lid, sniffing its contents. With a grimace, I put it back. It didn’t smell like food. More like a dirty sock. I suppose I would be charged with grocery shopping in this little arrangement.
When I turned back to him, he was rolling down the hall toward the living room. And me, standing there all bent over and inviting. Damn.
I knew that Corn-on-wheels would probably be updating Horn-boy, so I looked at Polly, who was sitting on the floor staring at me, attached to her and sent her into the livingroom.