Canon Ch. 09byinvictus17©
Sergeant Jeffrey Collins was trying to keep his mind on the interview, but it was difficult. He was badly shaken.
A month or two before, the 40-year-old victim liaison officer had begun having strangely vivid and detailed erotic dreams - all involving a beautiful woman he had never met. In some, her dark hair was hip-length; in some, it was short. Sometimes her skin was creamy-pale, sometimes lightly tanned; and the setting would change abruptly, as happens in dreams - one moment a bed, the next a beach, the next a grassy lawn by a pond, then a white-tiled room filled with hot, steamy vapor. All of the dreams were clear and vivid and eerily real in every detail, seemingly more real than the waking world, even as they changed and shifted.
But, through all the shifts and changes, always, always, there were those amazing eyes.
One pale blue, one deep brown. Sometimes magnified by glasses, sometimes not - but always compelling and disturbing. Strangely different, but somehow the same.
In the dreams, those eyes bored into his soul, even as they engaged in the most passionate, intense and sensual lovemaking imaginable - fucking like practiced old lovers, with no inhibitions and nothing held back.
Weirdest of all was the strange double perspective he seemed to have in the dreams - as if he were both himself and someone else. He felt emotions he could not name, that he had never felt in the waking world; things having to do with old regrets and dark memories - and of a strange new freedom, the peculiar absence of a hardness and coldness inside himself that he had never felt.
But above all, he was aware of an intense and abiding love for this beautiful stranger, the one with the weird eyes, this woman he did not know. In the dreams, that - that deep love - was inside him as strongly as it was inside the mysterious other.
Jeff had been puzzling over the dreams for weeks, and was in fact considering seeking medical help.
And then he opened the door to the interrogation room and saw her sitting there - live and in person, in the real world, weird eyes, glasses, and all. And her name was Amy, and she was a real woman, and not a dream.
It was the strangest moment of his life. He felt like Alice through the looking glass, dreaming and awake at the same time.
He somehow managed to stumble through the paperwork required by his office. Amy answered most of the questions with "not applicable," and chose not to avail herself of any of the city's services for crime victims.
He looked at her. It was hard to believe that this small and lovely young woman, initially unarmed, had killed three dangerous criminals a couple of hours before. She seemed as calm and composed as if she had seen it happen in a movie.
There was even more to this woman than he had seen and sensed in the dreams, he realized. She was - fascinating. Unique.
I can't believe she's real, he thought for the twentieth time. He smiled to himself. Gives a whole new meaning to "the woman of my dreams"....
Jeff had regained his composure somewhat as they went through the questions, but it remained hard for him to concentrate. He was still distracted by the strangeness of the situation. Stranger still was the fact that she seemed to have had the dreams too - but took it in stride, as if it were normal to meet someone you've literally dreamed about. She knows more than she's telling, he thought.
When they came to the last question on the survey - "Would you like followup calls or visits from the Victim Liaison Officer?" - Jeff looked at Amy with a shy smile and a raised eyebrow.
"No," said Amy.
He blinked, surprised. "No?"
She smiled. "There's a reason." She looked at the clock; it was approaching midnight. "How about having dinner with me tomorrow night?" she asked
He blinked again. "I'm not supposed to, er, fraternize, with the people that I'm working with," he said uncertainly.
"That's the reason." She grinned. "We're done now, aren't we?"
He looked down at his checklist. "Well, yes. We are," he said. Then he looked up - and began to smile.
"May I call you, um, Amy?" he asked.
She looked at him with an amused, puckish expression. "I think you'd better. 'Mrs. Rider' doesn't seem quite right, now does it?" Then she laughed.
He smiled, still rattled. "What time... Amy?"
They met at Geoff's favorite steakhouse, and found themselves surprisingly - or not - comfortable together. Jeff had had a whole day to calm down, and though he was still far beyond puzzled, he had accepted the idea that Amy was real, and that there was some kind of connection between them. Her own calm acceptance of it helped.
He tried not to think of the dreams themselves. He had seen the woman sitting across from him naked - naked, and holding her bare feet next to her ears as he slid his cock in and out of her sweet bald pussy....
Brrr. Maybe I should concentrate on the moment - some other sensory experience...
"This is the best steak I've ever eaten," said Jeff. "Are you sure you won't let me help pay for it?"
Amy shook her head as she chewed. "Absolutely not," she said when she swallowed. "I asked you out, remember?"
"Yeah, but..." He took another bite. What a strange woman, he thought again. And those eyes...
He let it go. Probably couldn't afford this place on a cop's salary anyway, he thought.
They looked at each other, then looked away. Then again. And Amy giggled.
"What?" asked Jeff. He was feeling painfully self-conscious and uncertain, and hoped he hadn't done something stupid. Besides the weird circumstance of the dreams, Amy was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen - and beauty is always hard on a man's composure.
"Every time we look at each other, we both blush," she said.
He smiled, then grinned. "Well, we do have a pretty good reason," he said.
She nodded and smiled. "True," she said. "How do you get to know somebody you've already...."
She stopped, and they both blushed again. Then they laughed.
They ate in silence for a few minutes.
"This is too weird," Jeff finally said. "How about if we pretend that there were no dreams, and we just start from there?"
"I like that," said Amy. After a moment, she asked, "So where are you from, Jeff?" It was strange to speak that name - the same, yet different. "I hear you're new in town."
"Hawaii, last," he said. "Originally, Japan."
"Japan? Really? That's fascinating! How did you end up here?"
"Well, my mom passed away a few months ago, I'd been divorced for a while - it was time to get out of Dodge and start over."
"I'm sorry to hear about your mom," said Amy. "I just lost my husband a few months ago."
He nodded. "So I was told," he said. "A remarkable man, from what I hear."
She nodded. "He was." She looked at him. "You have a very precise way of speaking," she said. "Kind of literary. I like it." He smiled, and his cheeks reddened again. She liked that, too.
"Well, English is my second language, technically," he said. "I spoke Japanese at home till I was ten. My mom brought me to Hawaii about then, about 1980, and since then I've spoken only English. Before that, I spoke English in school and read a lot of English books." He took a sip of his iced tea. "My birth name - my mom's - was Tokugawa."
"Oh! Like Ieyasu Tokugawa? The first Shogun?"
Jeff looked up, surprised. "You know about him?"
"Oh, yes!" She started to say, my husband told me about him - then she recalled that Geoff had once mentioned knowing one of his descendants.
She decided to remain silent about that for the moment.
"Yes, that's my family. Funny you've heard of him. Most Americans haven't."
"I love Japanese history and culture. Especially the cooking." She waved her fork. "And the martial arts."
He smiled. "Why doesn't that surprise me?"
She smiled and shrugged, then asked, "Why did your mom leave Japan?"
He held up two fingers. "Two reasons. One, she was following the job; she was a nurse in a U.S. Navy hospital, and they wanted her to transfer to the facility at Pearl Harbor. And second, it was to protect me."
He nodded. "I was having a hard time in Tokyo. Japanese culture is pretty insular, and they aren't kind to Amerasian kids without fathers. Mom wasn't married."
Amy considered that for a moment. "That must have been hard."
"I don't remember much about it. Mom had me in American schools on the base from first grade on. We left before I would have had to start in Japanese schools." He smiled. "The Americans were good to me."
"So your dad was American? Are you sure?"
He smiled. "Look at my face. He wasn't Japanese."
She smiled back, and he was enchanted. Again.
"I never knew him," he said, "and Mom never told him about me. All I know is that he was an American soldier who was a patient in the hospital there - and he was some kind of big hero. She named me after him, I think."
"When I asked her about it, she said my name was different. But other times, she said I had his name." He shrugged.
Amy was nodding. Suspicions confirmed, she thought. I'll tell him later.
They talked for hours, till the restaurant closed. Jeff was very like Geoff in many small ways, some of them surprising; he had many of the same physical mannerisms - the way he held his coffee cup with both hands, the way his eyes would go soft when he felt strongly about something, the way he'd look down for a moment, then up at her face when he said something important.
But he wasn't Geoff. He wasn't as hard and overtly masculine as Geoff was. Though he was clearly and comfortably male, he seemed to have a softness, a caring quality, about him that Geoff had only had with her.
"Why did your marriage -" She stopped and started over. "Er, why did you get divorced? If you don't mind my asking." She sipped her coffee and watched his eyes.
He smiled. "Not at all. My mother was very ill toward the end. My wife wanted to put her in a nursing home, but there was no way I was going to do that. We kept her with us, and one day when I got home, my wife was gone."
He frowned. "She left Mom lying in her own waste, all day. After Mom died, she wanted to come back. I told her to go to hell." He shrugged again. "Sorry. But you did ask."
"That's okay. I'm sorry you - and your mom - had to go through that."
He nodded. "Maybe it wasn't fair of me to expect her to help me care for my mom," he said. "But if you love somebody, that's what you do. At least that's how I learned it."
"Me, too," Amy said quietly. After a moment, she said, "I think I see why you're working with victims and not criminals. You like to take care of people."
He smiled. "There's more to dealing with crime than catching the perps," he said. "You have to do something about the damage they do."
She blinked. "Strange you ended up a police officer at all," she said.
He smiled and lifted a hand, another gesture she had seen before. "It seemed the right niche for me."
The waiter approached with a regretful smile. "I think we'd better go," said Jeff. "These people want to go home sometime."
Amy laughed. "Okay. Send me the bill, Gunny," she said to the waiter.
The man nodded. "Will do, Mrs. Rider. Have a nice evening." He looked curiously at Jeff, but smiled and said nothing more.
Jeff walked her to her car - the Jaguar. "I take it you've been here before," he said.
"The headwaiter was a friend of my husband's." She smiled. "Thanks, Jeff. I had a great time."
"Can I call you tomorrow?"
She looked at him frankly. "You better," she said. "We have lots more to talk about."
He nodded. "Yes, we do." He looked down for a moment, then up at her face - so like Geoff would have done. "I don't know what's going on here, Amy. I think maybe you do -"
"I have an idea," she admitted. "But I'm as amazed as you are."
"- but whatever it is - well, I'm strapped in for the ride." He smiled at her. "I like you. You're not like anyone I've ever met. I'd like to get to know you better."
She cocked her head and looked up at him. "I feel the same way, Jeff." She smiled. "No promises. But let's see where this goes."
On impulse, she kissed his cheek. Then she grinned. He grinned back, and they were both thinking the same thing; after all we've done in those dreams, that seemed kind of tame - and familiar.
And they both thought something else: Eventually, we'll have to talk about those dreams.
That night, Amy had another lucid dream. She somehow knew it would be the last.
She was on the island, sitting on the beach; and she was naked. She felt the sea breeze and the sun on her body, the sand between her toes. It was as real as real.
A figure was approaching, and she recognized him instantly - it was Geoff, as he had looked when they were first married.
Old and bald, but strong and virile and sure of himself - and as happy as she had ever seen him. He wore cutoffs, nothing more. His skin was tanned and taut - and, she noticed, his scars were all gone.
"Hello, Punkin," he said. "Seems I get to talk to you one more time, like this. I'm glad."
"Hello, Geoffie," she said. "I've missed you."
He sat beside her, and she came into his arms easily. He held her and rocked her a little, stroking her hair - and she realized it was long again, also like when they were first married.
"Geoffie, I'm pregnant," she whispered.
He smiled and nuzzled her head with his cheek. "I know," he said. "You're going to have a son, Amy. My son."
She leaned back and blinked up at him curiously. He shrugged and said, "You learn things, over here."
"Who is Jeff?" she asked. "Is he your son, too?"
He nodded. "And he's a good man, Amy. I have two other sons and a daughter, it turns out." He grinned at her expression. "Hey, Punkin, I wasn't a saint, I was a soldier. Anyway, Jeff's the best of the bunch."
He looked up at the brilliant blue sky for a moment. "I was - allowed - to bring you two together, but that's all. I can't promise you it'll work; that's up to you two." Then he smiled. "But I have a good feeling about it."
She pressed her cheek against his dear, familiar chest. "I've felt you with me," she said. "I've smelled you with me."
"I was," he murmured. "And good job with those three hoodlums, Punkin. Couldn't have done it better myself."
"But - but you did do that, Geoffie - didn't you?"
He shook his head. "Nope," he said. "That was all you. I was very proud of you, too."
She blinked up at him. "I thought -"
"I know. But think: did you smell me around you then?"
"Well..." She thought back. "No. No, I didn't. But I felt like I was watching myself - like everything was in slow motion and someone else was doing it. I didn't even hear the shots."
He smiled. "That's what it's like, Punkin - real life-and-death combat. Now you know. Not many people do."
He squeezed her. "It was all you, Amy. You're taking care of yourself now. I can't." He stroked her hair again. "And you're doing very well at it. You were taking care of both of us, those last few years, anyway."
Then he squeezed her. "I have to go, Little Heart. Seems I have business over here. But I'll check in on you now and then."
She looked at him, surprised. "You said you'd never leave me, Geoffie."
"I said I'd never leave you ALONE, Punkin," he corrected her gently. "and you're not alone any more. I can't keep hanging around now." He smiled. "You can't make those dreams I sent you come true, if you think I'm watching. Now can you?"
"So in the dreams - that WAS you - and him, too."
He nodded. "Yes. And they weren't just for you, Punkin." He grinned. "I guess it's okay to tell you this - they worked. He's hooked. All you have to do is reel him in."
They laughed. "I'm going to miss you, Geoffie," she said.
"I'll be around," he said. "Count on it. Besides," he added, "There's a part of me in Jeff, anyway. You've sensed it. In a way, I am still with you. And you sense that too, don't you?"
She hugged him, nodding, and thought, how strange this is. For some reason, she wasn't tearing up. She would when she woke, she knew; but not now.
Amy snuggled against him comfortably. She knew it was the last time, and another miracle of its own - but she could not feel sad.
This really is the island outside of time, she realized.
"I'll always love you, Geoff. No one could ever replace you."
He grinned. "I should hope not, Little Heart. But that doesn't mean you have to be alone, either." He stroked her hair again, and she looked up at his dear face.
"Listen, my love," he said softly. "You and I - that was a miracle. I don't know why it was given to us, but it was the most wonderful gift I could ever have imagined.
"You gave me the best and most precious years of my life," he went on. "You taught me so much - you even taught me who I was, and gave back all the years I had lost." He smiled. "I thought I was going to be your wise old mentor. But you were the one who taught me."
"But you taught me too, Geoffie," she said.
"Yes," he said. "How to do things, how not to, things like that. Information, skills." He kissed her head. "But I never had to teach you who you are, Amy. That, you knew."
He released her and sat up straight. She looked at him, oddly numb. "Take that with you to Jeff, Punkin," he said. "You have a lot to teach him, too, now." He smiled. "And maybe you have more to learn as well."
He stood, and she stood with him and took his hand. They looked at each other for a long, wordless moment. "This is the last time, isn't it?" she asked.
The old man smiled. "No one knows that, Amy," he said quietly. "It may be. But maybe not."
"I feel like I'm saying goodbye to you twice, Geoffie."
"We've already said goodbye, Little Heart," the old man said. He grinned, kissed her hand, and said, "This is just a dream."
Then he winked at her...
....And Amy woke up.
To her surprise, she didn't feel sad at all. She smiled. She felt warm, and peaceful, and loved.
She would carry Geoff with her as long as she lived. And she would see him again, she knew.
It was not yet three AM. She turned over, and on impulse, she reached out to the CD player and started the Canon in D. She had not played it in weeks - it always made her cry.
No more. That night, she went to sleep again smiling, as if her Geoffie were holding her.
And, again - perhaps he was.
The next day, a Saturday, Amy did not wait for Jeff to call her; she called him. It was already clear that in this romance, if romance it turned out to be, she would be taking the lead - another difference.
"Good morning! Are you awake?"
"Erm, sure," said Jeff, his voice fuzzy with sleep. He obviously wasn't. "What time is it, anyway?"
"Seven-thirty. Sorry, I'm an early riser. How about we meet for breakfast and then I introduce you to some of my friends?"
"Um, okay... What friends?"
She laughed. "You'll see. Trust me. You're going to like them."
They met for coffee and pancakes at Denny's. As before, Jeff was fascinated with Amy's eyes - and she became more and more aware of his.
They were not gray, like Geoff's. They were black - and deep. She found herself falling into them, just as Jeff found himself falling into hers.
After one long, long moment of gazing silently into each other's eyes, they simultaneously broke the connection and shook their heads to clear them.
"Booh. That was weird."
"We've been doing that a lot."
"Maybe we shouldn't sit facing each other."
They looked at each other, and their eyes locked again. They looked away and laughed. Amy moved to his side of the booth, giggling, and they elbowed each other good-naturedly.