Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Lucid: Chapter Six

Several days later, Connor found himself once again sitting with Gallagher at the same dreary midtown bar.  It had been Connor’s idea to meet.  His talk with Jocelyn had upset him more than he cared to admit and he was in search of a sympathetic ear.
“I can’t stay long,” said Gallagher straight off.  “I’m just taking a break before I go back to the office.  I’m going to be putting in a lot of O.T. this week on the evening shift.”
“That’s what’s wrong with law firms,” observed Connor.  “You’ve got to have so many billable hours on your time sheet that you end up not having any life.”
“I don’t need a life,” Gallagher joked.  “Instead, I can live vicariously through you.  You’ve got all these stories to tell of secret medical experiments.”
“There’s nothing at all secret about this project.”  Connor took another sip of the seltzer water sitting on the bar in front of him.  “It’s just a university experiment.”
“That’s what they’re telling you all right, but how do you know it’s true?  You don’t.  There could be much more going on in all this than you realize.  The more successful these researchers are at keeping you in the dark, the easier it is for them to control you.”
“You always did have an overactive imagination.”
“Everyone else in this country is paranoid.  Why should I be any different?”
“You’ve got me there.”
“Why are you drinking that bubbly water anyway?” Gallagher asked.  “I know you never touch the hard stuff, but there’s no reason you can’t at least have a beer, is there?”  He finished off his own Guinness and signaled for another to the bartender, the same balding middle aged man who’d been there before.  Instead of watching television, Igor was now occupied polishing over and over with his white apron the same already spotless glass stein. 
“I’m just keeping myself clean.  They take blood samples every now and then, and I don’t want to screw anything up for myself.”
Gallagher gave a short laugh.  “Have it your way.”
Connor looked down at the shot of Bushmills his friend had ordered.  “Are you sure you should be drinking so much yourself when you’ve got to go back to the office?”
“It’s different there in the evening.  Not as many people around to keep track of what I’m up to.  I sit by myself redacting a huge pile of documents.  All I have to do is place pieces of white tape over names and phrases our attorneys don’t want the opposition to see and then make copies.  There’s no way I could work at anything that boring without at least a few drinks to keep me going.”
“Whatever.  It’s not really any of my business anyway.”  Connor glanced up at the television on the wall where a Mexican soccer match was currently playing out.
“No, it’s not.  Now why don’t you get off my case and tell me instead what’s been happening in your dream life.”
“That’s the problem.  Nothing’s been happening.  It’s been almost a week that I’ve been going to the lab, and so far I haven’t had a single dream, lucid or otherwise.”
“It’s not your fault, man.  You can’t dream on order.  You’ve got to be patient.”
“Yes, I know.  That’s what the professor says too.  He’s cool about it, but somehow I feel I’m letting him down.”
“Are there any good looking women there?  Maybe if you got it on with some foxy nurse, you’d start having wet dreams and your problem would be solved.”
“Gallagher, do you ever think about anything but getting laid? I’m not going through all this just to find a date.”
“I’d think a lot more highly of you if you were.  What you’re up to now is all just nonsense.  You’ve got to pull yourself together and start doing something real.”
“I’m going to stick with it a while longer.  I haven’t anything to lose, have I?”
“What’s happening with the job search?”
“Nothing at all there either.  I spent three hours this afternoon waiting for an interview for an administrative assistant job.  When I finally got in the door, the personnel director told me he’d already picked someone for the position but had wanted more resumes on file in case the guy didn’t pan out.”
“Damn, that’s cold.  No wonder you want to stick with this experiment so bad.  It’s the only place you don’t have to worry about being kicked out the door.”
“You don’t have to rub it in,” Connor said.  “And speaking of being kicked out the door,” he added self-consciously, “I saw Jocelyn yesterday.”
An uncomfortable expression passed fleetingly across Gallagher’s face.  “What’d you want to do that for?  Haven’t you got enough problems without hanging with the woman who set you up and sent you down?”
“It’s not like I was trying to get back together with her.  I only went over to her place because I wanted to have it out with her and have her tell me to my face why she pulled such a dirty trick.  I thought I deserved at least that much.”
“And what’d she say?” Gallagher jeered him.  “Did she give you any reason?  I bet not.  She probably tried to pin the blame on you.”
“She told me shit happens.”  Connor shook his head in wonderment.  “Can you believe that was the best she had to offer?”
“Maybe she told you that because she doesn’t have any more idea than you do why she did what she did.  It’s fucked up all right, but people do crazy things all the time without knowing why.  It’s just the way the world works.”
“Maybe so, but it wasn’t much to give me for all I went through.   She could have come up with something better than that, don’t you think?”
Gallagher put his hand roughly on Connor’s shoulder and shook him hard.  “Just let it go, man, and stay away from her from now on.”
Connor turned to look at his friend.  “It’s funny, but that’s the same advice she gave me about you.”
Gallagher’s face flushed.  “Say again.”
“She told me I’d be better off staying away from you.”  Connor’s expression grew inquisitive.  “Why do you think she’d say that, Richie?  Does she know something about you I don’t?”
Gallagher knocked back his drink in a single gulp and angrily slammed the glass down on the bar.  “The bitch never liked me to begin with, that’s all.”
Connor shrugged.  “As I remember it, Jocelyn was always friendly enough to you when you used to stop by.  She’d sit on the couch and drink and joke with us all night long.  She never said anything negative about you back then.”
“How can you listen to anything that woman says after the way she stabbed you in the back?  She just wants to go on hurting you and making your life miserable.  First she put you in jail and now that you’re out she doesn’t even want you hanging with old friends.”
“I guess you’re right,” Connor allowed.  “It doesn’t make any difference anyway.  I already made up my mind never to see her again.”
“Now you’re talking,” said Gallagher.  He slapped his friend on the back.  “Let me pick up for the drinks, man.  I’ve got to get back to the office.  My job awaits.”
“So give the cash to Igor and let’s get out of this godforsaken place.  It gives me the creeps just being here.”

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