Time Is of the Essence

Writing Wednesdays

Because I’m a writer & storyteller and enjoy weaving words together into tapestries of stories both real and imagined, I’ve dedicated Wednesdays to my novel writing. I am currently working through the revision of a story about a young man named Daniel who embarked on an incredible quest based on a series of dreams he had involving people he’s never met.

serving God & others through writing

serving God & others through writing

The Dream Quest – Chapter 2: Time Is of the Essence

Daniel wakes with a start to the sound of a phone ringing. Wake up call, he thinks through the haze of sleep. He lifts the receiver and puts it back down. He is still wearing the clothes he had on yesterday but he’s in his hotel room. His mind is groggy as he tries to recall everything that happened after he got out of Peter’s car last night.

Jonas, he thinks. The guy’s name was Jonas. We talked about some sort of trip, he recalls vaguely, a trip having to do with my dreams and a charter plane. He shakes his head, trying to clear away the thick cobwebs that are muddling his thoughts. I’m not making any sense.

He looks around. Everything looks the same as it did when he woke up yesterday. “None of this makes any sense,” he announces to the empty room.

Briefly he wonders if he dreamed it all, Jonas, the plane, the trip to search for people he doesn’t know. He’s been having some pretty crazy dreams lately. Vivid, too. Most of them involving people he doesn’t know, but in his dreams he is intimately familiar with them, and with their lives. And many of them show up more than once. In some cases he knows their names. In others, he doesn’t.

Sort of like Jonas, he muses as he pushes himself up out of the bed. The room spins slightly and he braces a hand against the nightstand, bending over so his head is closer to his knees and breathing deeply until the sensation passes. The blue glow of the clock next to his hand reads 5:13. He has a flight scheduled for later in the day and he is supposed to meet Peter for breakfast. Of course those plans were made before last night’s turn of events. Before he told some guy he just met on the streets of Boston that sure he’d take off on a trip with almost no information or details. He takes a long, deep breath and stares at himself in the mirror over the hotel room’s desk. He looks like himself, but he doesn’t feel much like himself at the moment.

Whatever he decides, he wants to be packed and gone before Peter gets to the hotel. He wonders if he should leave a note for Peter at the front desk and decides against it. It’s not like Peter would understand his change of plans. No, instead it would be more fodder for the family rumor mill. As if Lucy hasn’t given them enough to talk about over the years. No, this is about him and his choices. He doesn’t need their blessing. Daniel collects his things, glances around to make sure he hasn’t missed anything and heads out to find a cab.

______________________________________

Out on the street the traffic is just starting to pick up. The dawn is pushing back the darkness and Daniel decides to walk a bit to clear his head. He needs to think and walking always helps him think more clearly. As he stands there, the passenger window of one of the cabs rolls down.

“Can I give you a lift?” the cabbie calls.

“Uh, no, thanks. I’m good.” Daniel is looking down the street.

“You’ve got a lot to carry there,” the cabbie says and his voice seems familiar now.

Daniel stoops over and peers in the window. He squints a moment more. “Jonas?” Daniels mind turns this over. Did he tell Jonas where he was staying? He can’t remember. “What- what are you doing here?”

The cabbie grins, his face alight with the same smiling glow he had last night. “Hop in. I’ll give you a lift.”

Okay, so it definitely wasn’t one of my dreams, Daniel thinks. With only a slight hesitation, he opens the door, tosses in his overnight and messenger bags and climbs into the back seat. “Where are we going?” Daniel asks.

Jonas laughs his deep rich laugh. “You tell me, Daniel. I’m just the cabbie.” He laughs again, that inside joke laugh.

“This little game of riddles and inside jokes is getting old,” Daniel tells him.

“What do you want to know?” Jonas responds. “I’m an open book.”

“Why me?” Daniel asks, meeting Jonas’ eyes in the rearview mirror.

“Well, now, that I cannot answer, my friend.”

“Open book like hell!” Daniel seethes, teeth and fists clenched. Enough is enough, he thinks, and reaches for the door handle. Jonas reaches over the seat and grasps his shoulder.

“I meant I’m an open book about where you’re going and what you’re about to undertake. At least to get you pointed in the right direction.” He stares at Daniel until Daniel looks away. “You can keep trying to avoid all this, but it doesn’t work that way, friend.”

“How about I decide how it works,” Daniel says unwaveringly to his feet. He musters up his will and his strength and wrenches out of Jonas’ grasp and gets out of the cab.

“Daniel,” Jonas calls behind him. “Daniel!” Jonas gets out and stands by his cab. “It doesn’t work this way, friend.”

“It does now, friend,” Daniel says over his shoulder as he walks away.

He crosses the street without looking back and disappears down a side street, zig zagging through a series of alleyways until he gets to a subway entrance. He glances over his shoulder to see if Jonas is following him but sees only a few briefcase carrying suits on the street. He ducks into the subway station.

______________________________________

Charlie’s Coffee Shop is buzzing with early morning commuters as Daniel stakes out an oversized chair in the corner. From here he has a good view of the door and he can formulate a plan. He pulls out his laptop and connects to the shop’s wifi, wondering when Charlie finally jumped on the wifi wagon. With a slight pang, Daniel remembers how many times he and Peter sat around in Charlie’s and talked about life, their parents, their plans and their dreams. He misses the closeness he shared with his brother. Of course he doesn’t miss the bullshit and the family drama. Family drama that too often revolved around their sister, Lucy and seemed to get worse when Peter left for college.

He hasn’t thought about all of that in several weeks, since Peter called  hoping he and Daniel could connect while Daniel was in the city to work out the details a possible show of some of his photographs. He pushes the memories out of his mind and logs into his email. His phone buzzes with a text message and he hopes it’s not from Peter. He really wants to be on his way out of the city before Peter can track him down.

It’s from his girlfriend, Isabel. “Can’t wait until you get home. I miss you {even if it’s only been 2 days 🙂 } <3”

Oh, Isabel, he thinks. He’ll have to email her with what’s going on at some point, but not until he can explain things clearly, to himself as well as to her. For now, he replies by text, “I miss you, too. I’ll be home soon.” His finger hovers over the send button. He considers deleting the “I’ll be home soon” part, but tells himself that soon is a vague enough term and he hopes to be home sometime soon. Doesn’t he? Before he can answer that question, he hits send and goes back to his email. Most of it’s junk. There are a couple of emails from guys he plays ball with about setting up the winter league. He skips over those for now.

His phone buzzes again. Isabel, he thinks. But it’s from an unknown number: “Check your email.” That’s all it says. Must be a wrong number, he tells himself, but he looks over at his email anyway. There’s a message from someone he doesn’t know. Well, actually, it’s from a phone number. One he doesn’t recognize, but not the same one that texted him. He looks around the coffee shop to see if anyone is watching him, looking for Jonas, half expecting to see him sitting in the far corner from where he is. But there’s no Jonas. He opens the email.

“It’s time to get serious about this. You’re either all in or you’re not. But time is of the essence –”

What am I doing? he mutters and slams down the cover of his laptop, causing the few patrons around him to cast glances his way. Daniel clears his throat. “Bad news,” he says with a shrug. A couple of people nod sympathetically and return to their coffees, pastries and morning conversations. Daniel turns his attention back to his own coffee, rubbing a hand over the smooth laptop cover.

I’ve got a life, he thinks. A job. Isabel. The winter basketball league. Like I’m just supposed to leave all of that and what? Take off for who knows where because of some crazy dreams. Go off on some ridiculous quest like Indiana Jones searching for the holy grail or whatever the fuck he was he was looking for. For a moment he wonders if these aren’t the kinds of things that Lucy does. After all, she’s the screw up, not him. He’s always been responsible. Predictable even. Well, except for skipping out on college to pursue his photography, but that’s beside the point. This is not something he does, take off and leave everything behind.

He breathes out a long sigh and lifts the cover of his laptop. He can still change his mind. Go back to his life. He doesn’t have to do this. He has a choice. Doesn’t he? His eyes take in the email screen.

“It’s time to get serious about this. You’re either all in or you’re not. But time is of the essence and lives are at stake. The boat to the airport leaves from behind the Boston Harbor Hotel promptly at 8:30. If you miss that, you might still be able to make the charter plane that is scheduled for take off at 10:21. The final destination will be revealed to you after take off, along with all other relevant information. Obviously, you still have a chance to change your mind. This is you choice, Daniel. It has to be your choice.

“So, there you have it. All the details I can provide you for the moment. A good faith effort, you can call it. And a bit of assurance, I guess, in case you don’t remember everything we talked about last night. Clearly, it’s a lot to absorb.”

Daniel scoffs. Nothing is clear about any of this. He can almost hear that rich, hearty laugh of Jonas’ as if he and Jonas share some inside joke that Daniel hasn’t quite figured out yet.

“Hope to see you on the docks, but I’ll settle for seeing you on the plane. As you know, I am — Jonas.”

On the table his phone buzzes again. This guy is relentless, Daniel thinks to himself as he picks up his phone and checks the most recent text. Except that this time it’s not from Jonas, or some strange phone number. It’s from Isabel. As he clicks to read it, the phone buzzes with a second text. This time from Peter.

“Crap,” Daniel mutters under his breath. He checks the time on his phone: 8:07. “Crap.”

He’s at least a 20 minute walk to the Boston Harbor Hotel and that’s probably his fastest option. He’d have to change trains if he hopped the subway. Quickly he collects his things and stuffs them into his messenger bag, then gulps down the rest of his coffee, cold now, but he needs the caffeine jolt. He wishes he had time to grab one to go but hopes that the charter plane will have something.

Foot traffic has picked up quite a bit since he got to Charlie’s so Daniel weaves his way around people sporting various office attire, breaking into an easy jog toward the Public Gardens from his Boylston Street starting point. With the experience of an on the go texter, Daniel opens the most recent message from Isabel. As he suspected, it’s pretty much just a repeat of her first text, telling him that she will probably get to the airport way too early because she cannot wait to see him. He ignores the guilty feelings that rise up as he stores the text and moves on to the one from Peter.

Much to his surprise and relief, Peter’s message begs off their breakfast plans, saying that maybe they can do it the next time Daniel is in town. Maybe circumstances will be different, blah, blah, blah. Daniel doesn’t bother reading beyond the cancellation; he’s heard a lot of this kind of thing from his brother before. Especially when his brother has acted like a jackass like he did last night. He’s a pretty good blame shifter and an even better coward, never owning up to his mistakes or choices. All that matters to Daniel is he’s off the hook and Peter is one less thing for him to worry about. With a newfound energy, he picks up the pace as he crosses the swan boat bridge in the Public Gardens. He zips around a group of three women dressed to the professional nines and breathes a quick thanks that he dropped the idea of law school and college. He may struggle financially sometimes, but what he lacks in money he has in creativity and passion in his photography. He knows it will pan out eventually, especially if he can line up this show in Boston.

With Park Street Church in his sights, Daniel slows to a fast paced walk and checks his phone’s clock; it’s 8:19. He’s making pretty good time. It helps that he knows the streets and the cut throughs. Finally, he sees the Boston Harbor Hotel and slows his pace even more. He doesn’t want Jonas to think he’s been rushing to get here. Watching the traffic for a break, he thinks about Peter’s text and how energized, how free he feels knowing he won’t have to make excuses to Peter about breakfast. Is his reluctance to take off on this, what should he even call it, he wonders, this adventure, is his reluctance to take off on a whim for some crazy adventure quest tied to Peter? Traffic breaks and he dismisses the question. He is just about there and wonders if Jonas is there already. Or will even show up at all. Even more, he wonders not for the first time what exactly this quest involves.

He’s made it with one minute to spare, at least according to his phone’s clock. But even so, the boat is already making preparations to pull away from the dock and Daniel is still several feet away from the launch. The captain looking guy tosses the last rope onto the dock and returns to his cabin. All this effort and he’s going to miss the boat anyway? No way, Daniel thinks and breaks into a sprint, shifting his messenger bag to his back and hoisting his overnight duffle bag onto his shoulder. The boat is just pulling away from the dock when he leaps across the widening gap of water separating the boat from the launch.

He lands with a loud thud on the deck, losing his balance and tumbling onto the floor under the weight of his bags. But, at least I’m here, he thinks. That’s all that matters, right?

“Daniel?” A soft whisper of a woman’s voice speaks his name from just inside the small passenger area behind him.

No, he thinks. It can’t be. It just can’t be.

 

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5 thoughts on “Time Is of the Essence

  1. I feel like I’m watching a movie. Kind of like Memento, Limitless and Inception. Very engaging yet I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. And then the infamous cliffhanger. Touche’

    • judith heaney says:

      I like that you feel like you’re watching a movie!

      Question: As you try to figure out what’s going on, are you still willing to read on to find out? More information is coming, but the main character is also trying to figure out what’s going on. Does that make sense?

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