Perchance to Dream

 

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Ventilation System

Angelo had long ago set up this hideaway for himself. Raines was his puppet master; he could never totally disobey him. But Angelo was also an adult, and he needed time to be on his own to just think without having to respond to others’ emotions.

Here was the place he’d hidden Timmy. Raines didn’t know he’d found the Timmy DSAs. He didn’t know Angelo had read all of Timmy’s records. Access to the files and the Internet had allowed Angelo to find Timmy’s family. Raines thought he had been very clever to destroy all of Timmy that lived inside of Angelo. Here, in his private place, Angelo could visit with what remained of Timmy. Here, too, he could just be Angelo.

The DSAs began with the pain that turned Timmy into Angelo. The feelings of others became primary and blotted out everything else, even the ability to speak and to dream the way Jarod did. Angelo had spent time with Jarod, and later with Kyle. He knew what individual feelings were supposed to be. He’d also quietly mirrored the feelings of other people, normal people such as Sydney and the other doctors. As he’d tried to discover who and what he was, Angelo had come to the conclusion he’d never be fully normal again. He was dependent on the Centre in a way that Jarod never had been. As a child, he’d tried to fool himself and hope he could get back home. Once he hit adulthood, that illusion didn’t last. Raines and the others assumed he was stuck in childhood, just because he couldn’t communicate. That was their illusion. It made them feel better to pretend he was retarded, just because they’d stolen his ability to communicate. Only Jarod had ever acknowledged that he wasn’t a fool just because he was forced by science to act like one.

Later, Sydney had tried to help. He’d tried hard, with the drug that helped Angelo's mind to focus. The shots had been slowly remylinating his nervous system. Even though Sydney had failed, his treatment still managed to help. He hadn’t lost the curse that made him Angelo, but he had regained part of Timmy.

Angelo’s hands moved among the files, seeking those DSAs. He watched himself on the screen slowly come to awareness. Sydney had kept DSAs of the treatments Angelo had undergone to restore his mind. Angelo found that if he watched himself regain control of his thoughts, he could actually recover some control even now. He smiled at the image on the screen. Miss Parker had been sarcastic as usual. She wanted to believe that Sydney was wasting his time. As Angelo recovered his senses, he had used the Angelo part of him to read her pain at the realization that Angelo hadn’t always been the mute he appeared to be. So he hadn’t been able to be angry at her, even with Timmy waking up inside him.

Revisiting his past through the DSAs was a technique he’d adopted from Jarod. He’d found that it helped him to remember and to direct his focus. It also let him guess what might happen in the future better than he could have without this means of protecting himself. He guessed what the others might do and made sure he was in the right spot at the right time.

That was one way he’d been able to help his friends and to help himself. As things changed in the Centre, it became even harder to know what to do, but Angelo allowed himself to move slowly so that he didn’t draw too much attention to any one person.

Angelo had done another thing back then, when he’d been poised between Timmy and Angelo: he’d taken the equipment he needed and made a tape. He’d searched the Internet for Timmy’s parents. At first, he didn’t know what he’d do if he found them. It would give Timmy a place to go, a place to begin a new life. Angelo had hoped that would make everything better again.

When he found a trace of them, it was on a listserv for parents who were looking for lost children. Timmy had been their only son, stolen when he was four. Angelo had the files. The files gave him the data to tie everything together. He was glad he didn’t have to ask Jarod for help. This part of him, the Timmy part, was something he didn’t want to share even with his friend. Family was good. Family was private.

* * * * * * * * *

Our Lady of Refuge Convent

Emily walked down the familiar white corridors. Every time she came here she hoped things would be different. But, never before had she been willing to risk upsetting the status quo in order to get results. She knocked on a door.

“Come in, “ the Mother Superior answered.

“Hi. I’m here to see my mom. I just wanted to see if there was any change I should know about before I go visit.” Emily said, standing in the doorway.

“Please come in and sit down.” The Mother Superior sighed. “Nothing has changed. She’s our star boarder and the only one who has stayed so long.”

“Sorry,” Emily replied. “You do know how grateful I am that you’ve been able to keep her here.”

The Mother Superior nodded. “As I said, she’s no problem. Many of the people who pass through here are much more scarred than she is, on the inside and outside. But they have somewhere to go and people who can help them be safe in their new lives."

“Thanks” Emily replied. “I really admire the work you do here, helping people who have been displaced."

“I just wish we had it in our power to solve your problems.”

“I’m going to try something a little different this time. I can’t guarantee it will help, but it’s time I tried something new. I’ll let you know if things change.”

The busy administrator returned to her work as Emily shut the door and walked on down the hall. To manage a convent that dealt in refugees and others needing a place of temporary safety required tact, diplomacy, and the ability to let some problems take care of themselves. Margaret was one of the problems which stayed on the back burner precisely because she caused no trouble for any of the nuns or visitors. She was so quiet they hardly needed to remember she was there.

Emily exchanged greetings with the people she knew as she passed them in the hallway. She stopped to tell her mother’s primary caregiver, a petite brunette named Mary, that she needed some private time with her mother. She explained that she had permission from the Mother Superior to try a new technique that might help. Mary was more than willing to give them time alone.

Entering her mother’s room, she picked up a hairbrush and began to gently brush her mother’s hair. She sang, very softly, the children’s nursery rhyme her mother had taught her. “Cree craw toad’s foot, geese walk barefoot.”

“Catherine, is that you?” Margaret asked. The first time she’d answered like this, it had startled Emily. But like all the other scary and improbable things that had happened, it had soon lost its power to disconcert her.

“No, Mom. It’s me, Emily.” She walked around in front of her and sat down. Margaret focused on her, trying to reconcile the memory of the infant with that of her grown daughter. After a few minutes, she smiled and put her hand on her daughter’s hand.

“Do you remember when Catherine and I wrote the story? The story in which we used that rhyme?”

“I remember what you told me,” Emily answered softly. “You made up a fairy tale, to be told to your firstborn children. The song is a part of the story.”

Margaret nodded. “And he probably doesn’t even remember it. It’s been so long since I’ve seen my baby. My firstborn baby.”

“Mom, I’ve got some stuff to tell you today. Special stuff. Stuff about Jarod.”

“Jarod. Is he OK?” Margaret repeated. It was as though part of her couldn’t quite believe what she was hearing and another part of her wanted to hear even more.

“I’ve spoken with him. Visited with him. I’d like you to get stronger before he sees you. It would hurt him so much to see you hurting like this.”

“I’d like to see Jarod,” Margaret agreed. Her hands were clenched tightly and the rest of her body was held stiffly. She couldn’t believe in this good fortune. It couldn’t be real.

“Would you like to see Dad?” Emily asked. Mom sounded better. Maybe she wouldn’t need to do anything different.

“I see him. Every week he comes to visit,” Margaret answered quietly.

“That’s not Dad, Mom. It’s Uncle Max.” Emily kept eye contact, and let her hand be stroked.

“Yes, that’s right, Max. He’s the only father you’ve got.” Margaret often spoke of Max as Emily’s father, because Max had served in that role all throughout Emily’s teenage years. Margaret had hoped that Charles would contact Max, but that hope had been dashed when the Centre had gotten too close. All three of them had gone even deeper under cover, leaving Charles no way to find them.

“No, Mom. I’ve got another father, Charles. Jarod’s father. Try to focus on him.” Emily kept her voice calm.

“Jarod’s father is dead. The Centre killed him. They stole my boys and killed my husband. You’re all I have left.” This, Emily knew, was normal. Margaret often got confused about what had actually happened and what she feared had happened. She had often refused to believe Emily in the past. Too much had happened that was painful. Margaret had deliberately shut herself off from as much of the pain as she could. Emily accepted that this would happen and remained patient.

Over and over Emily covered the same points. It was going to be like every other time. Margaret wasn’t ready to come out of hiding. Emily had one more card to play this time. One more chance to reach her mother.

This was the hard part. Emily didn’t want to use Jordan, but he was the only chance of getting Margaret to respond. She pulled from her wallet a picture of the Major and Jordan, taken while skiing. It wasn’t the best picture, but it was the one that might reach Margaret. It had a date and time stamp.

Emily placed the picture in front of her mother. “Mom, look. Look at this picture for me, please.”

Obligingly, Margaret looked down. And gasped. Tears flowed. “It’s not possible. They’re dead, both of them.”

“No, Mom. Dad’s alive. Truly.” Emily kept her tone reassuring.

“But that’s Jarod. Catherine got me a picture, even when she couldn’t get me anything else. That is Jarod… or it could be. Couldn’t it?” Margaret looked so unsure it tore Emily in two.

“It’s Jarod’s… son, Jordan.”

“Jarod has a son? My baby boy?” Margaret’s hands shook.

“Yes. Jordan is a pretty special kid. I’d like him to know his grandmother.”

“I’d like that,” she said hesitantly.

“Would you see Dad, if he came, too?”

Your father? Charles?”

“Yes. Mom, please. I want all my family to be together. Jarod wants that, too.”

“You’ve seen Jarod,” Margaret stated flatly. Her lips moved, mouthing the words “not possible.” She wanted to believe, yet she didn’t dare risk it.

“Yes. But you’ve been ill and I didn’t want to hurt him. Seeing his mother in pain would hurt a lot.” Emily felt that her mother deserved the truth, even if it hurt. Perhaps that would be enough motivation to keep her connected to reality.

“I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you.” Margaret cried softly, twin tears running down her cheeks.

“I know. But you need to get stronger, so you can see Jordan and Dad and Jarod. You need to be strong so that they don’t hurt when they think of you.” Emily handed her mother a tissue.

Margaret nodded. “Can I keep this?”

“Yes. Just try Mom. Please?”

“I’ll try. I’ll pray. I’ll try.”

Over the next week Emily revisited Margaret. The improvement wasn’t dramatic, but it was more than had been shown in previous years. Margaret recognized Emily. She asked about Jordan and Charles. She managed to focus on the fact that Jarod was alive and well. This was a help.

As Margaret healed, Emily called on Uncle Max to come and help out. Max got Margaret involved in the work of the convent, helping those who could not help themselves. That gave Emily time to slip away and work on the next phase of Margaret’s treatment. For that, she needed something more than just herself and Max.

* * * * * * * * *

Avoca Examiner
Avoca, PA

One thing her father and mother didn’t understand was exactly how important her work was to her. Emily loved being a reporter, ferreting out facts, discovering how the pieces fit together and then writing the results. She was always investigating something. Sometimes it led to things like Ethan. Other times the mysteries were even more subtle.

Today someone had sent her an e-mail indicating that there was something for her at general delivery at the post office. She’d gone, feeling alive with curiosity. The envelope had been large and square. It came from a firm of lawyers. She’d inherited the contents of a safety deposit box, apparently. The box could only be opened in the presence of one of the lawyers.

* * * * * * * * *

Angelo's Room
The Centre

Angelo paced back and forth in his room. He had so little control now. It wasn’t like being Timmy. Oh, there were things he could do, slowly, a little at a time. But it was still very different from being able to control what he did.

He smiled, the quirky little smile that meant he’d thought of something special. Angelo was an empath. He could use that to reach the help he needed.

For a time, nothing happened. Angelo tried to reach Sydney. Sydney was close. Sydney was his friend. Angelo entered the tunnels to get closer. Maybe he could get Sydney a message. Maybe he could communicate in other ways. Angelo was never sure exactly how well his particular abilities were going to work at any given time. He’d had more success than failure, but that was not to say that things always went his way.

He crept through the dark tunnels that were his home territory until he found Sydney’s office. But Sydney was not there. That was odd, but it didn’t concern Angelo. The only fact that registered was that Sydney couldn’t help him if he wasn’t there.

Angelo returned to his room and paced some more. He would need to try again. Who could he reach? Jarod, maybe. Jarod would help. Angelo thought about Jarod, and pulled out a small toy Jarod had sent him. Angelo smiled. He became very happy and content. Angelo went to do research then, while empathing Jarod. This lasted a long time.

Nobody came to be Angelo’s handler any more. Angelo had lots of time to research and play on the Internet. He’d gotten a lot of practice at faking the logs. The focus he borrowed from Jarod allowed him to get the addresses he needed. His hand touched the screen, the words of the obituary he sought. That was enough to break his contact with Jarod.

In sorrow, Angelo curled up. This sadness was his own, both for the parents who had been good to him before he was kidnapped and for the fact that he’d never been able to tell them who he was.

Anonymously, he’d sent presents, manipulated funds. That he could do, by empathing the people who had the knowledge and using their skills. But he’d known that the harsh words Parker had for him were only a minute part of how others felt. He could never leave the safety of the Centre.

Now, they were dead. They had a little boy, adopted after Angelo had been gone for ten years. The boy had been an orphan and had needed a home. The little boy’s name was James, and he’d also lost his parents for a second time. James, of course, was all grown up. Just like Angelo, yet different in that James was a scientist. It was ironic that the people who’d lost Angelo should have a son who would be a psychiatrist, but that was how it had happened.

Angelo went back into the tunnels to the hidden stash of records. He removed a high school graduation picture. James, the person who would have been his brother, if Angelo had been able to live in the real world, had lived a normal life. The Centre hadn’t come for him, perhaps feeling that would have drawn attention to them. Or maybe James was only special to his parents.

Angelo pulled out other records and photographs. James had played Little League, and still played on a team in the evenings. Now, perhaps, James would play another kind of a game. A game that would help some people and hurt others.

* * * * * * * * *

First National Bank
Avoca, PA

Emily hadn’t hesitated in going immediately to the lawyers. They’d postponed their meeting, however, until an interested party could appear.

“Miss Sullivan, I’m Hank Carter, the attorney for the Tylers. And this is their son, James Tyler.”

“Pleased to meet you. I hope you don’t think I’m interfering because of this legacy. There is undoubtedly a story here.”

James nodded. There was a great deal he wasn’t willing to share with a stranger. His whole life had been spent with a cloud over it. The family secrets weren’t to be aired in public.

When the box was opened, it contained a letter and a picture.

“Timmy,” said James unemotionally.

“Who’s Timmy?” asked Emily.

“If he’d lived, he would have been my older brother. He was kidnapped as a baby. When it seemed pretty clear that he wasn’t going to be found, my parents adopted me,” James answered. He kept his face a careful blank, unwilling to share with strangers the emotions he felt.

“Oh.” We certainly have that in common, then, Emily thought to herself. She wasn’t adopted, but she’d often wondered if she’d have been born if Jarod hadn’t been kidnapped. Courses in psychology had helped her to understand that it was all right to have been jealous of the brother that her mother kept constantly in her memory. But childhood insecurities sometimes still surfaced, often at inconvenient times. She wasn’t going to let this be one of them.

Emily opened the letter. It contained mention of a legacy, a foundation created to search for and help reunite kidnapped children with their families.

“Do I have to accept this?” Emily asked the attorney.

“Why wouldn’t you want to?” James asked.

“It seems like a lot of work,” Emily prevaricated. It could also serve as a red flag to draw the Centre’s attention to her.

The attorney looked at it, and at the accompanying legal documents which established the foundation and trust.

“It’s legal. It’d take some work to break it and appoint someone else. If you really want to, we could recommend an attorney to advise you of your rights,” he answered.

Emily nodded. “That might be a good idea. It isn’t that I’m against helping kidnap victims in general, but a very wise lawyer once told me never to accept the first legal document you see without searching for the fine print.”

James grinned. “That’s a good psychological maxim as well.”

“It’s your parents' idea. Do you want to be involved?” Emily asked him.

“I am involved. It won’t hurt to get any more so,” James answered.

Emily nodded and they made plans to meet later to discuss the particulars. Just what I need, Emily thought. One more ball to juggle that could possibly be related to the Centre. While they weren’t the only connection to kidnapped children, it seemed just a little too coincidental that the timing was around the same time Jarod was kidnapped. It appeared from the papers that this other little boy, Timmy, had been exceptionally bright, maybe even as smart as Jarod. Maybe it was her imagination, but that made Emily suspect the Centre had to be involved somehow.

* * * * * * * * *

Somewhere in the Centre

Angelo looked at the e-mail, and smiled. Now it had begun. The others would be pleased. So was he.

* * * * * * * * *

Pittsburgh, PA

Major Charles didn’t like having to send Jordan away. Whenever he was separated from the boy, even when he was visiting Emily or Jarod, he had to constantly fight not to worry himself into distraction. But just now, when he was recovering from having learned to give the treatments that Jarod needed, it was better to be alone. What he was about to do was an indulgence, but it was one he needed.

He’d joined a support group for parents of addicted children. He entered the room and sat quietly at the back. He listened to the stories of other parents, whose children had been taken from them by drugs. Then it became his turn. He stood, and introduced himself.

“Hi. My name is Charles. I have an adult son who has been hooked on drugs through his work.”

As he told his story, it occurred to him that Jarod would be proud of him today. The story he told was close to the truth, but it was still a pretense. Nobody would recognize, in the story of the airline pilot whose doctor son had slid into addiction, the true story.

The Major sat down and the next person stood up. She was a thin person, nervous and shy, in her late fifties. “My name is Alison. My son Philip has been addicted for seven years now. It started when he was thirteen. We didn’t know. Nothing was wrong. His grades didn’t go downhill for a year.”

The information he was gathering would help him to help Jarod. The other skills might save Jarod’s life and his sanity. But at some point Jarod was going to be on his own, one day at a time. And the Major was going to have to cope with it the same way these parents did.

On to Act IV

 
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