The Man With Three Wives: 1.10

Vicky can’t even get away from Fortek in sleep. Is he really on her side or is it just wishful thinking?

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Vicky had a lot of trouble getting to sleep. She knew that was necessary since she had to go to work in the morning. In spite of it, her mind kept chewing relentlessly on the problem. In spite of the effort, she was making no more progress on the problem than a gnat trying to eat an elephant.

At last, she got drowsy and began to nod off. That was when small orbs of light began to circle inside her bedroom. Was she finally asleep and dreaming this? The orbs swirled in an increasingly tight pattern. Then it coalesced into a human shape. It was Paul Fortek. Now she knew she was asleep and dreaming. Maybe it was a nightmare.

In spite of the fact that her bedroom was dark, she had no difficulty seeing his face. That was another vote for this being a dream. All at once, she saw the face smile.

“This is not a dream. You are not asleep.”

Now that was a twist. “I see a vision in a dream or nightmare. That same imaginary thing informs me it is not a dream. Now this is something new.”

“There is no way for me to convince you of the reality of our conversation right now. On the other hand, when you get up in the morning, you may find something you could not have done. Perhaps then you will know.”

“Maybe I sleepwalk.”

“Perhaps you do. I think you will not be able to find any way this was something you did.”

“That sounds as reasonable as anything else I’ve heard lately. What is not reasonable is imagining that a man is in my bedroom while I’m trying to sleep. I know for a fact that I locked all the doors.”

He sat down on the side of the bed then. Oddly, the action neither seemed threatening nor an attempt to become overly familiar.

“I have kept watch over you, and know that you have suffered lots of stress because of my situation. That was not our intention or purpose. We did a great deal in error. There was so much that we did not know. We could not know all the things we needed.”

“What are you saying?”

“I am saying that it hurts me to see you like this. I want you to know that nobody will ever hurt or bother you while I can do anything about it.”

“That is nice to hear but hardly reassuring considering that you are the reason for my stress, hurt, and bother.”

“I see your point but want you to know my position in the case. Besides, I was the one who sent the pastor to you at that time. You should know that.”

All the pieces of the puzzle dropped into place with that remark. The trouble was that the answer was too easy and too pat. Reality never worked that way. Vicky needed to change the subject.

“How have you gone from barely intelligible to highly educated in such a short time?”

“We are learning as much as we can as fast as we can.”

This conversation had veered off into the bizarre. “Why do you speak about yourself as ‘we?’ What are you?”

“We will have to talk about that later. My ability to connect with you has come to an end.”

He leaned over and put his hand on her forehead. All at once, she felt her muscles begin to relax, starting with her neck and body. Soon the relaxation was working its way to her fingertips and toes. Vicky’s eyes then closed naturally.

Her last conscious thought was, ‘Isn’t that just like a man? When you ask them a question they don’t want to answer, they leave.’

Vicky’s eyes popped open a minute before her alarm was to go off. She felt rested and energetic, flipping off the alarm and heading for the bathroom. She reflected on the strange dream she had last night as she started to put on her makeup. Then she noticed the small wrinkles in her forehead had disappeared, and she recalled the last act of the dream man in putting his hand there.

The man in the dream said he would leave something for her to know it wasn’t a dream after all. If that was true, then he was fixing her face just like he repaired the truck. That was something beyond amazing. She never took very long with her make-up, and today took even less time than usual. Other than staring at herself in the mirror, that is.

Her apartment’s living room, dining, and kitchen areas were all open concept. To be blunt, it was all one room. On the coffee table was something very strange. When she examined the thing, it was a roll of currency very much like the one Fortek took out of his coveralls. The roll of currency nested in a bed of amaranth leaves.

‘That is very droll,’ Vicky thought. ‘It’s a morning salad.’

That meant it was a tasty little dish with a value she didn’t care to think about even if she could estimate it pretty well based on the Fortek deposit. Vicky did consider the situation as she drank a little orange juice. There was no way she could do anything with the cash. There was also no place safe to hide it. She did have a safe deposit box at the bank. That was probably the best spot for it until she could come up with something better.

She had an accordion file in the bedroom. There was not much time, so she dumped the contents on her bed. She could organize that paperwork later. Vicky flattened the currency as best she could, and separated it into four stacks which then inserted into the file. At that point, all she could do was get out the door and down the road to work.

After getting up to highway speed and the closest vehicle a quarter of a mile away, Vicky tried to review the situation as best she could. Finally, she decided to try a complete stab in the dark.

“Paul Fortek, are you listening to my thoughts?” she murmured.

The response was immediate and sounded like he was sitting in the truck with her. “Yes, I am. I also see that my attempt to make your life better somehow managed to make things worse again.”

Vicky sighed. “I get the impression that you have no concept of limited resources. Since you bought the property, you obviously know about resource ownership.”

“I know it, but I do not understand it.”

Vicky framed her thoughts. “This world believes in limited resources. Some people accumulate more than they need. We call them wealthy. A few try to get resources by taking them from others. We call them criminals. If I spend resources everybody knows I could not have earned from my job at the bank, everyone will assume I am a criminal. Could you take it back, please?”

There was a pause, similar in length to when she asked him questions at the bank. “Yes, I can do that. Still, I would prefer you keep it.”