By Kelly Mahan Jaramillo, on the Lord’s day of August 26, 2012
Lisa walked through to the dining room, which looked like any other upscale dining room except, like everything else in this house it was bigger.
Chair backs tall enough to swallow the most confident. Foot sized forks. At the end of the table sat the biggest chair of all, sitting in it was an elderly man she guessed to be in his mid to late sixties. On his right was a younger man, very dark skinned, black hair cut short and spiky, ragged jeans and a tee-shirt with “The Who” stenciled on. To the left was a third man, middle aged, balding, horn rimmed glasses straight out of a fifties science commercial. Papers were spread out in front of him in neat little piles. To Lisa he looked….. crisp, for lack of a better word.
“Oh good, you’re up,” the old man said. She jumped, this was the first sound she had heard since getting out of bed.
“Is breakfast ready?” he asked, folding his hands in front of him.
“Dad, she just got here, she doesn’t even know where the kitchen is,” the younger man said. “You do this to everyone – just expect them to know what to do, no instructions. It’s really annoying.” The kid looked over at Lisa. “Sorry about that, come on down and -”
“What the hell are you doing with my candleholder in your hand?” The old man barked at her.
“I planned on smacking the owner of the house with it if he was a Republican CEO,” She answered, walking slowly towards them, tightening her grip on the candleholder.
“One with a political agenda, this is not going to go well,” the middle aged man sighed, rubbing his eyes.
“Oh for shit’s sake, Hank, they all have political issues. The only ones that don’t are the damned children, and we all agreed we didn’t want any little kids around, they’re a nightmare!” The old man shouted.
“Dad, settle down! It’s your lousy temper that has caused this whole problem, Hank and I agree -”
“What?” The old man roared, “You and Hank are talking about me behind my back?”
“Jesus, don’t put me in the middle, I’ve had it with trying to mediate between you two, it’s useless.” Hank stood up. “I know my role is to comfort and guide, but it has just gotten impossible. Everybody has limits, and I have reached mine.”
“Good luck, young lady. Feel free to come to me with any questions, but I cannot promise you I can help. The situation here is simply beyond repair, in my opinion.”
Shaking his head and making small clucking sounds, he gathered his papers. Lisa was fascinated by the perfect one-two-one-two beat his walk made as he disappeared down a hallway at the end of the dining room.
She was started to wish this dream would end or morph into something else. It was getting weird, she had liked it when she was alone in this great house, but these people were bothersome. They were the reason she had begged off of holiday gatherings for years. The kid pushed his chair back.
“C.mon, I’ll take you to the kitchen, let’s make some coffee, I am sure you could use a cup,” he smiled.
“Bring the whole pot in when you’ve made it, and let’s go over the basics,” the old man ordered, fussing with the few papers left on the table while patting at his robe pockets.
“Where are my reading glasses? Christ Almighty, where the hell are my reading glasses?”
“Why do you always ask me, Dad? I am not in charge of your glasses, you lose them all the time,” the kid grumbled.
“Never mind, never mind, here they are,” out of his pocket the old man pulled a pair of dime store reading glasses, complete with an exhausted scrap of Kleenex stuck in the nosepiece.
“Oh and you, you there young lady, put down the fucking candleholder, will you? There are no Republicans here, trust me.” He waved a pen in Lisa’s direction. This guy was starting to grate on her. She considered dropping the damned thing on her foot to wake herself up. Enough was enough.
“Don’t you dare, “ the old man glared at Lisa over his reading glasses. “You will not drop my antique silver candleholder, and trust me on this one, missy, you will not be waking up, either.”
Defiantly, she let the candleholder slip from her fingers, but the kid deftly caught it and set it on the table, shaking his head. “Dad, you are going to have to deal with a new one, like it or not.”
He grabbed Lisa’s hand. “C’mon, let’s go make the coffee and let him read up on your info.”
“Jesus,” the old man said, adjusting his glasses.
“Make a blend of Espresso and Colombian, would you?”
“Okay, if we have it.”
“If we have it, of course we have it, why wouldn’t we have it -”
“Dad, it has taken us six weeks to choose someone! So we have run out of a few things, please stop bitching and just read and let’s start getting this worked out, okay?” The kid was not breaking stride, he was practically dragging Lisa out of the room.
“Well, we need Hank here, so tell him to stop moping around and get back.”
“I’ll get him, relax, willya? GOD!”
“What!” The old man yelled.
“Nothing!” The kid yelled back, making a sudden left, pushing the swinging door hard enough to make it bang against the wall.
The old man continued shouting, but from the other side of the door it was hard for Lisa to hear him. She did not want to know the details. He made her nervous. To big, too loud, too bossy.
“Here, have a seat,” the kid let go of her hand and gestured towards a long tiled countertop. He poked his head back through the swinging door.
“Orientation, Dad! It takes time! I usually have a little help with Hank, but you’ve pissed him off so now I am on my own, as usual. Thanks, thanks a million!” He flung the swinging door away from him, and Lisa found escape from the argument by watching the heavy door flap back and forth until it could settle back into being shut.
The kid sighed.
“I’m so sorry, he’s usually not that bad, he’s just really cranky that Kurt decided to leave.”
The kid walked over to the sleek black refrigerator bordered with glittering diamonds, smooth raised lettering above a blue digital radio on the front.He opened the freezer and began rummaging around.
Lisa wasn’t much liking the company in this dream, but the house continued to astound and delight her. The counter was long and deep, tiled in yellow and periwinkle, with utensils and kitchen aids shining clean amongst bowls of nuts and baskets of fruit, not one but two butcher blocks in between the counter and the eight burner, three oven dark green stove. Along the middle of the kitchen ran a wooden pot rack, spotless copper pots and pans looking more like decorations than something anyone ever used to actually cook with.
“…just a nightmare every time we go through this. It’s only been since the dawn of man, you’d think he’d have gotten a grip by now, but nooooo,” the kid shut the freezer and held up two brown bags. “Thank Gabe we have the fucking coffee blend he wants, maybe he will stop being such an asshole, honestly.”
He stood next to her and pulled a grinder out from where it was nestled in between a blender and a rather fantastic espresso machine. The stove looked vintage, the fridge has to be from some insane Beverly Hills jewelry store, and the coffee/espresso machine looked like something from the future, with its elaborate aluminum and glass blocks and tubes and more buttons than a remote control. Lisa had tuned the kid out, she didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, and she did not really care. She wanted to remember this house because when she woke up she was going to tell her husband Sam every detail. She wondered if she could rearrange their modest little kitchen with some of the easier touches like the discreetly arranged green plants tumbling down from small shelves and nooks, or the high ledge running through the border, antique plates, vases, and cookbooks all delicately spaced – not too sparse, not too cluttered. She sighed, envious.
The kid smiled over at her.
“It’s a nice kitchen, isn’t it?” He pressed the grind button as she nodded. He looked pleased as they both inhaled the smell of freshly ground coffee beans.
“I am glad you like it, it’s really important that you feel comfortable here. Some of the others were so worried about breaking or scratching something, no matter how many times we kept telling them that anything can be replaced, they were just so timid. We read in your file that for the most part, you do not get too terribly attached to material things, and you don’t have a nervous breakdown if something in your house breaks. Of course, Hank had to point out that you did not own anything of real value, so how could we know how you would act around expensive items? Seriously, for having such a great reputation as a mediator, Hank always finds a glitch. He is so much better at accounting, I wish my Father had not given him this whole “peacemaker” role thing. Sometimes I think my dad mixes up being organized with being reasonable.”
He shook the loose coffee into one of the aluminum sides of the espresso machine and slid the top closed, the agreeable beeping seeming to dance right out of his fingers. At that moment, Lisa felt that perhaps new technology was not so creepy after all.
“I will show you how to work all of this later, for now I think we just need to settle back in the dining room with my Father and Hank and start the paperwork.”
“Okey-dokey,” Lisa shrugged her shoulders and went back to admiring the hanging copper pans. The kid walked past her to the next stool and pulled it up close.
“You’re still thinking this is a dream, aren’t you?”
“Yep,” She smiled at him, “Sorry, I have lived with the Internet at my fingertips for twenty years, and I have never seen a diamond rimmed refrigerator in my life.”
“They are not diamonds, they are Swarovski crystals, and you can find one of these easily, the limited edition Starry Night refrigerator by Gorenje – We own nothing here that is not available on earth. For all of the mistakes my Father made with you guys, he does appreciate a lot of the stuff that Humans have invented over time, and I have to agree with him, there is so much to be impressed by.”
He got up and poured two cups of coffee, stirring one teaspoon of stivia into Lisa’s, along with a generous amount of half and half. He sat back down and handed her a cup.
“Mmmmmm,” she breathed, “oh jesus that is good coffee.”
“Thank you,” the kid answered.
They sat in silence for a few moments. Just as it was dawning on her that she had never tasted anything in a dream before, the kid set his cup down.
“This is the hardest part, so let me just say how sorry I am. You didn’t do anything wrong, you didn’t do anything right, you just happened to be the best candidate for what we need right now.” He took a deep breath.
“Lisa, you died in that car accident, and that was our decision. You are here because we need a certain type of person to make this household run more smoothly. When it is just the three of us, all hell breaks loose, and I mean that literally. Nobody gets along, we are constantly bickering, and sometimes it gets so bad that it erupts into full blown screaming arguments which is when you guys down on earth get some horrible earthquake or tsunami or tornado. Which makes us all so guilty, man. The three of us just check out. Nothing gets done, and when we start to talk again, something as easy as ‘Lovely weather, isn’t it?’ devolves into accusations, blame, finger -pointing, and before we know it, Earth has suffered another ‘natural’ disaster. It’s a horrible vicious cycle, and we need a human voice here to break it.”
The kid tiredly rubbed his neck.
“We’ve even tried all of those great medications your doctors invented. Want to know why a chunk of Greenland broke off and melted? My father mixed Ambien with Xanax, and forgot to turn the thermometer down.”
Lisa set down her cup, it was time to wake up. She slid off the stool and started to walk away when the kid grabbed her arm. She could feel it. She could taste the coffee, she could feel the kid’s hand on her bicep, and she freaked out.
“Let go of me!” She jerked her arm free. He reached for her and she turned and ran, banging through the swinging kitchen door, racing across the hall to the doorway that Hank had gone through. The old man was still sitting at the table reading, he did not look up when she froze, wild-eyed, deciding which way to go.
The hallway was long and dark, but at the far end she could see light and sprinted towards it, wiling it to be a door that would get her outside and she could mix this dream up. As she got closer to the light she could see that it was, indeed, a big glass door leading out to a pool, surrounded by foliage, with rolling green hills beyond the huge backyard. She did not feel like anyone was chasing her, but she ran hard, a stitch forming in her side.
How is it that you are able to run and actually feel out of breath?
“Shut up,” She panted through gritted teeth. She just had to get to that damned door. If it was locked, then this was an official nightmare, but as she got up to it and yanked the wooden handle, the door opened and she was out of the magnificent house like a shot, not even taking the time to admire the pool with its jacuzzi waterfall cascading over rocks and slides. Lisa just ran, past the bougainvillea, past the row of tall ferns, past the willow trees surrounding the yard. She was out, she was not being chased, but she still kept running.