It had been a difficult weekend, but Monday morning was the worst. I had not slept at all, just lying in bed, thinking, remembering, and listening, but when Jim gave me some attitude in the morning, I really went off and got loud. He had a full day with work and meetings, and since I was in a asshole mood I told him that I was going to be his shadow the whole day, and not to be surprised of what I might say. After getting dressed and beating Jim to the two sets of car keys, I knew I was going to be along for the day-long drive or it would be me alone.
We argued for a few minutes after which I stormed out of the apartment screaming at him from the stairs and sidewalk. I had no plan as I walked to the car, and I am not sure how I chose my direction. Soon I found myself going to my parent’s house. As I walked in I saw my sister sitting in the living room and my mother was in the kitchen cleaning up, I quickly made a sandwich and talked to my mom for about two minutes. I told her that I was going to go to see Madison at her school and I would be coming back. As I drove to the school I was thinking of the rest of the day, one thing I wanted was to talk to my daughter’s mother, but that was going to be later that day.
I got to the school and asked to see Maddy at the front desk and the secretary told me she would get her for me. I heard her excuse herself to the teacher and waited for a few minutes while she waited for her to finish the lesson. I sat down and I saw the Principal come out of his office and he asked me if he could have a few words with me. We walked outside of the school and he told me about phone calls that the school had received telling him that I was going to be showing up in a stolen car. I responded with a bit of attitude that if that was the case they should have called the Police and not the school. He told me that his answer to them was the same and went on to tell be about saying a few prayers on my behalf and about knowing about a few battles I was fighting. I told him that those battles were coming to an end and took the opportunity about a few safety concerns I had observed a few weeks earlier. We shook hands and we went back inside. Maddy came out to the front and I leaned into her ear and told he that her mommy and daddy will be picking her up in the afternoon. I kissed her told the Principal thanks.
I got back into the car and headed back to my parent’s house, went back inside and I saw my mom in the laundry room, I walked towards her and told her that she could see Maddy at any time she wanted, that she knew where she lived and could visit her at any time, I gave her a hug and kiss and told her I would be back later. I got back into the car and decided I was going to go visit a few friends, one was my old housemate, but when I got to her house and knocked on the front door I got no response, even though it was her day off and her truck was parked in the driveway. I waited for a few minutes and got back to the car heading to another friend’s house. I got to the front door and knocked, but got no response, I knocked again.
“I am sorry Hugo but I can’t open the door…” I heard her say.
I grinned and headed back to the car.
“That’s a man walking there,” I hear coming from the direction where two men were standing in the front yard. My smile grew bigger; I shifted my jacket and got back in the car. I decided to go to another friend’s house and after a few minutes of him insisting that I get off and talk for a few minutes, I started feeling uncomfortable and left, going back to my parent’s house. I only stopped at the sidewalk and honked to my mother and asked her if she had talked to my cousin lately. She told me that she was going to be showing up at the house later that day, so I told her to tell her to call me. I had called her house but got no answer. I told her I would be back later that afternoon.
I turned towards Maddy’s mom’s apartment but I was not planning to stop until later that afternoon, when I would be picking her up to go pick up Maddy together. I passed the apartment and kept driving, at this point I was not sure what my next visit would be.
“Who else should I go visit,” I said out loud.
“The coach,” I heard.
Meaning, Madison’s soccer coach, I knew where he worked, but thought it would not be too cool to disturb him at work, especially to just let him know that in my mind, one or two nights, he had been a voice of distraction, laughter, and aid. So I kept on going. I reached the freeway and I turned back towards my parent’s house once more. I was driving fairly calmly and at the speed limit.
I started hearing concern from a few voices coming from somewhere in the car, and since it was not the first time I had experienced them, I just kept driving. Their concern was about me approaching the location where I had slammed into the center median, I think I might had joked about the fact that they were correct in assuming that I was going to make a repeat of that crash, but as I got closer, I laughed and told them they were not only stupid but could not tell what direction I was going, since I was heading in the opposite direction of that crash. There a few other exchanges that I cannot recall, nor why I started crying as I exited the freeway, but a few blocks into the street I saw from the top of the car, coming through the sun roof, a bright light.
“Do not look up,” they said, “and don’t look back.”
“You will not be able to see it,” they continued.
As I got closer to my parent’s house, I could hear mumbles from a few persons on the street.
“Hugo, you are touched by God,” three or four people said.
I got to the side of my parent’s house and got out.
“Do not look back,” they started, “you will not be able to see it.”
“It is for others to see,” they continued.
As I got out of the car I could only hear a whisper telling me to make sure I stayed there long enough for my mother to see the car. A few minutes after I got back in the car and went around to corner and stopped in front and started texting Jim.
“Do not show off,” they said.
I tried texting Jim three times, but the three times I kept fumbling the keys and could not get the words right and would end the message. After being warned again I simply placed the phone in the center council and started driving. Once again toward South Gate, I was heading towards my old place but never got there, I headed towards a friend’s house, not sure why, but as I passed his house I heard his voice.
“My mom told me to come home from work,” he said, “Hugoooo, you are touched by god.”
I got to the freeway and the voices kept telling me things that escape my memory, I only remember fragments. I was told that I would never be in a hurry again, that I would always have time, that there was no need for rush, not to look behind, but I did. Only for a glance I saw a distance between the car and the rest of the traffic behind me, maybe the sun was too bright, but it was not bothering me, then my breathing slowed, to a calm very rhythmic pulse, my throat did not feel burnt and ashy, my ears seemed to open up, my vision was as clear as can be, and my contacts stopped bothering me. I felt as if the car was part with me, the driving was effortless, never going over the speed limit. All I kept hearing was the same comments about not being in a hurry, never being late, always having time. Then in a second I started seeing a large gleam in the back window of the car in front of me and a calm clean voice started talking to me, I got distracted, spaced out, and heard a loud semi-trailer horn that startled me as I got to about half a car’s length from the car in front of me. It was not a slammed on the brakes, I just let go of the accelerator.
I was warned not to ever pass any car with that type of sign on their back window. I headed towards Jim’s place and honked as I passed in front. My route from here gets hazy, but I do remember going to look for my dad to the docks. Where I heard my dad’s voice warning me about a dream my mother had about a crash I was going to have, but after about four warning he started simply repeating over and over that now I knew who had betrayed me, I could not understand what he was trying to tell me.
I got back to Jim’s place, what I wanted to do was get him in the car head to Maddy’s mom’s house, pick her up, and the three of us going to pick my Maddy and have a talk. On my way to the apartment I was told to follow a small sedan with a sign in the rear window, and to be careful with cars with two gleams. I was also told not to trust a man’s voice that would come to make me an offer, to be careful with any movements because it would signify him acceptance of the deal.
“One for god, two for the devil,” they told me.
I got to Jim’s apartment and went up the stairs and opened the white security door but found the wood door Jim’s the door. As I stood in front I saw a ray of sun right on top of me, but I never took a look up to the sky, only heard a few comments coming from the neighbor’s back apartments.
”Look at him, he thinks he is special,” they said.
“He does not know what he is doing,” they snickered.
“Jim knows that he has to open the door,” the voices said, “that I would know when to leave.”
I told Jim in my mind to open the door that he knew he had to or I would leave. A gust of wind hit the white door slamming it shut, causing it to open back up halfway.
“Jim knows that he has to open the door,” the voices said, “that I would know when to leave.”
I tried letting Jim know again that he had to open the door and throughout me standing out there the comments from the building next door kept coming.
“You will know when to leave,” they told me.
Another gust of wind carefully shut the door with enough force to barely make the door knob click. I took this as the time to leave and walked downstairs got in the car and headed back towards Maddy’s mom. As I waited for a signal light my phone rang and Jim told me to get to his place, that my sister was behind me, that he had lost half the day waiting for me, and that I could get to the school with my sister. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw a white explorer, but did not look at the driver. I got angry and told him off and got on the freeway. A few miles down I called Jim and loudly asked him if he wanted me to come back. After a few words he told me to head back to his place. On the way back I passed a car with one of the large gleams in the back window and heard the driver scold me about me not knowing not to pass him. I slowed down, but since I had passed him already and he would not speed up, I stayed in front of him.
As I neared the apartment I kept hearing Jim’s voice that when I got to his apartment I needed to go upstairs and that I was going to find something I needed, that I would not have to look for it, that it would be in plain sight, not to be missed. I got to the apartment and headed upstairs, were my sister and Jim stood waiting for me, I looked quickly on top of the tables, sofas, went to the bedroom and looked on top of the bed, but saw nothing that could possibly be for me. I was a bit flustered and got in a quick argument with Jim, told him off, grabbed my labtop and rushed downstairs. I got to my sister’s truck and saw I had forgotten the power cord, went back upstairs and passed by Jim, grabbed the cord from the dining room, and rushed back out.
“Just thank him,” I heard the voices say.
I got to the street and heard from behind me Jim tell me thank you, but I simply told him for what and threw the cord on the floor, told my sister to get to the school to pick up Madison. I started getting a bit upset, sad, and that feeling of serenity, slowly dissipated, my breathing started to speed up, my contacts started feeling thick in my eyes, my throat started to feel a bit sore, my tongue felt burnt again, and my ears felt with a bit of pressure. My calmness was gone, as we headed towards the school where I received an unexpected surprise. Although I told the front desk I was there early to pick up Maddy, and I was told to wait for a few minutes that they had to get her ready. I saw the Principal turn the corner or the back of the school and headed towards me sitting down.
“You know that she got picked up already, right?” he asked me.
“Yup,” I answered unsure of what he meant. I walked behind my sister as she told me she would be outside getting my nephew. Still outside I expected my daughter, half confused I walked to the truck when I realized what he told me. Maddy was not in the school anymore.