The last remnants of Taggerty's lunch crowd were scattered across the tables around Trevor as he used a white
towel to wipe down the bar. Early afternoon sunlight flowed in through the front windows, filling the air with a diffuse light. An electrician worked at the top of a ladder several feet away, as he tried to fix the dead lights above the bar. Scattered conversations
mixed with the clinking of glasses and dishes being gathered. The soft noise fought against the the music playing from the jukebox. Trevor had just put a quarter in. Now
he only half-listened to the song that he had chosen, his mind already filled with the thoughts the lyrics conjured up.
I can dream about you, if I can't hold you tonight...
The front door pushed open and Trevor looked up to see Claire Allen walk in. His face lit up as he smiled at her. She gave him a small smile of her own as she moved towards him. She was amazed at how upbeat he almost always was. Too bad it was most likely
from his delusion, she thought. Claire eased herself onto the barstool across from Trevor.
"Sparky! Greater Chicago's most renowned brunette eclaire! Master mender of mental mayhem and diploma'd dissuader of distressing dementia-"
"Hello, Trevor. Aiming at all-out alliteration are we?"
"Well, stop it. It's annoying."
"Annoying? Aren't all aberrant affinities?"
"Yeah, maybe your right. So how's my favorite brain connoisseur today. Scrambled anyone's eggs yet?"
"I'm fine, thank you."
"My thoughts exactly. Including the 'thank you' part. Why is it the second that I start having improper thoughts about you, you always show up. I mean, how does that happen?"
"I don't know, Trevor. Knowing you I'd have to guess... the law of averages?"
"Stacking that particular deck is definitely fun. It sure beats the hell out of picturing your likely activities."
"You know what, Trevor? I'm really starting to think that you need a new hobby."
"What nude hobby did you have in mind?"
"Nude, Trevor, not new. Wait... switch that. Nude, not nude. No, new not... you know what I mean. I actually came for a reason that doesn't involve baring more than you're tortured thinking. I needed to talk to you."
"Far south, what bring your luminous countenance to my darkened hovel?"
"Forsooth," she corrected him again. "And wow. That's a little more flowery than your usual, isn't it? Word wise, I mean. Nowhere in sight of an innuendo."
"It was the way I pictured it. Let's see how you talk after being subjected to Champ's ceaseless rehearsals back home. I think the play's called 'the never-ending boring'. He's been spouting that sort of verbiage all week long, practicing for his new part. Its driving me crazy!"
"Isn't that redundant?" she asked.
"Don't freak out or anything, but check your six," Trevor whispered as if trying not to draw attention.
Claire turned cautiously around to look behind her, but she saw no one there. "Why?" she asked, confused.
Trevor looked at her back. "Because I just have and the view's fantastic."
Claire smiled and nodded to herself as she turned back around. "Ah. There's the Trevor we all know and love. I suppose I should thank you for watching my back. Figuratively, of course."
"Hey, no problem. Your back, Your front. Your sides. Figurative describes it pretty well. No sweat off my back yet. So how are thing going between you and... what did you say his name was? Adonis?"
"Oh, Alex. Right."
Claire tilted her head in thought. Suddenly her voice took on an even tone "I'm totally enjoying our week together. Things couldn't be better."
Trevor noticed her reaction. "Hmm. Couldn't be better as in the best, or as in the best it's going to get?"
"As in 'none of your business' ."
"Ah. See, you must be new here. Love is always my business. And since I'm the one who hooked you two up, I have a vital interest. Besides, why else would you come to see the God of Love?"
"The reason I came to see Trevor Hale, is to ask you why you didn't come to our session today."
"My fault, actually. I didn't have time to ask Hephaestus to forge me some stronger sunglasses."
"Sunglasses? For what?"
"To ward off the glare from your 'getting some' glow. That or it must have slipped my mind."
"I see you're still getting that omniscience on the installment plan," she teased.
"Same way you're perpetuating that glow, I'm sure."
"Absolutely. In fact, you seem to have been avoiding me a lot since Alex has been in town."
Trevor waved his outstretched fingers in the air. "We psychotics are a flighty lot, aren't we. I figured I shouldn't get in the way of your strip-search marathon. Sure puts Where's Waldo to shame."
"I'm being serious, Trevor. We need to keep up on our sessions or the hospital's going to introduce you to the joy of padded rooms. Besides, you never know. If you would see me more and let me help you, you could finally find someone to glow with all on your own. 'Lighten' your own load, as it were. Finally be rid of me." she watched him carefully as she said it.
"Believe me, I don't need help in that arena. Arena being literal, by the way. I've gotten tons of offers. Gaggles, hordes, more than you could ever-"
Claire interrupted him. "Then why don't you, Trevor? Come on. Carpe femina, and all that"
Trevor looked around in confusion. "Wait a second, what's happening here? Have we just switched bodies or something, because you're starting to sound a lot like me. And I'm starting to feel the need to be under aroused and over analytical. Deja Freaky Friday Flashback. Forgive... the alliteration."
Claire pressed on. "Well, since we both agree that I'm spouting your usual lines, answer my question, Trevor. Like the slogan says, why not 'just do it'?"
Trevor placed his elbow on the bar and his chin in his palm as he slowly leaned towards her across the bar. He spoke in an exaggerated, seductive voice. "Well, I'm still hoping I'll get a shot at being your next exclusive light generator. Or should I say lightning?"
Claire smiled. "Dream on, Trevor."
"What's that supposed to mean?" He pulled back defensively.
She looked at him, confused at his reaction. "What do... you think it should mean?"
He tossed his towel down onto the bar. "He told you, didn't he? Champ told you. That's it. From now on I sleep with the radio on."
Claire didn't understand"You would think I'd learn not to ask this by now but, what are you talking about, Trevor?"
Trevor lifted his hands momentarily as if surrendering. "Look, I can't be held accountable for who I dream about. I'm still fairly new to this being a mortal thing. Just because I've had one or two dreams about you-"
Claire smiled slightly, interrupting him.
"You've been dreaming about me?" She asked, surprised.
"Yeah. A little. Not that much." Trevor tried to make little of it, but he still seemed embarrassed.
For some reason, Claire enjoyed his discomfort. "How often do you dream about me, Trevor?"
"Just barely once a night."
"Really..." She trailed off in thought, feeling suddenly... better.
"You see, that's why I didn't want to tell you. I knew you would go all Dr. Allen on me. They're just a few harmless dreams, Sparky. Not some deranged condition for you to chart and scrutinize like a new toy. If this is what it takes to float your boat, then the christmas presents must have really sucked at your house."
"Still, they could provide some insight..." Claire prodded.
"No they can't," Trevor said quickly. "They weren't those kind of dreams. Freud never showed up. And before you ask, neither did any of his family or any elongated shapes or tunnels. This was so totally PG that I almost begged for an appearance by Jerry Springer. Well, almost. "
"If these dreams were so innocent, Trevor, then obviously you don't have a problem talking about them. So, tell me. What were these dreams about then?" She was curious about what he thought of her. Of what he thought, period.
Trevor grabbed the towel and turned away to clean the bar, the conversation obviously over since it was one he didn't want to have. Claire reached out and snatched the towel from his hands, forcing him to reluctantly face her. He took one look at her smiling at him.
"You're enjoying this aren't you?" He asked.
"More then you could possibly even guess, Trevor."
Trevor pursed his lips, his mind working to find a way out of telling her.
"Look," she said, trying to get him to open up," it's only Claire asking now, OK? I've locked Dr. Allen into the basement. I promise. She won't do anything to sneak a peek at your psyche."
"Psyche has nothing to do with this, Claire. And there's no way I'm going to talk about crazy ex-girlfriends with you. Besides, she wasn't in the dreams anyway."
"Fine. She wasn't, but I was. Doing what? Wait, I suppose the more immediate question is wearing what?"
"Don't worry you're head shrinking head. I didn't see anything naughty. Pure PG remember? And please don't spread that particular information around. I don't want it as general knowledge that the god of love, master of amour throughout the ages, has such wholesome dreams. It could be bad for business."
Trevor took a deep breath and continued slowly. "Let's see, first question. What were you wearing... It was this wide, full ballroom dress. Blue. Long. Flowing. Full coverage of anything remotely arousing. Very you. But still flattering in its way. There's only so many curves you can cover up..."
Claire stared at him stunned. Trevor stopped, unsure of what he had said to cause that reaction.
"What? What is it?" he asked.
"Uh, nothing... It's nothing. Go on."
"Well, the most recent dream's been repeating, over and over all week. Hated that movie by the way. Took too long to get to the point."
"I know the feeling.." Claire said to herself.
"Anyway, the dream was something about a dance in a large ballroom. The first few times I was always late so after a few choice criticisms from you I left. I must have finally done something right because I ended up staying. Then we both walked down and danced all night until... Look, if your mouth hangs open any lower low flying aircraft are going to fly into it. What is it? I mean you can't get any cleaner than this without a mind meld from Mr. Rodgers. What did I say wrong this time?"
"Oh my god..." Claire began.
"See, I knew you would finally come around."
She acted like she didn't hear him, still shocked. "You were wearing a red flower on your lapel, and somehow it was shaped like a heart. It had a small, arrow shaped pin through it. You took me by the arm... and then we both walked down together, descending this long, elegant staircase with gold trim."
Claire continued her description as the sounds around her seemed to dim to nothing. The whine of the small drill the nearby electrician was using faded away. She watched Trevor as she spoke, and for that moment there was nothing but her and him, and the bar between them. She could hear the ballroom music and sounds in her memory.
"Champ was there," she said. "Sitting on a throne and wearing a noodle strainer or something as a crown. He was drinking out of this small trophy shaped like a cup. My father was in the corner with his guitar, smiling at us as he led the orchestra. Some of the guests on the ballroom floor wore Halloween costumes, some wore Blackhawks jerseys. Some wore full gowns and tuxedos. Susan and Dan were there. Gabe and Cynthia... all dancing. The first person you danced with was Jaclyn when you saw her alone in the corner waiting for you. Then you let that handsome footman you had talked to earlier cut in, just like you had planned..."
It was Trevor's turn to looked stunned. he almost forgot where he was as he listened to her describe his dream exactly. "I think I just had A Twilight Zone moment. If you can read my mind, how do you stop yourself from constantly slapping me? How did you know all that?"
"Because I had the same dream." Claire said.
Trevor was speechless, a rarity. Claire reached out and pushed up his lower jaw from where it had hung open. He still looked at her as she pulled back her hand. She smiled and pointed to the ceiling. "Low flying aircraft, remember?"
"Wow. Now we're sharing dreams. I'll show you yours if you show me mine." Trevor nodded to himself as he enjoyed the prospect. "Well, you always wanted to get into my head and you finally did."
"This is not exactly what I had in mind, Trevor. Anyway, I'm sure it's just a coincidence." This time she was the one who felt uncomfortable.
"Coincidence? Two identical dreams?" Trevor felt suddenly energized.
"I'm sure they're not identical, Trevor. They just seem that way through faulty recollection and the power of suggestion."
Trevor crossed his arms before him and smiled, pleased with himself. "OK, I have an idea.."
"And the devil gets fitted for another parka..." Claire said.
"Look, I'm serious. Let's test it, Claire. When Nick went over and hit on that cute swedish princess by whispering in her ear, what did she do?"
Claire smirked, her expression light. "She threw her drink in his face. But that one's obvious. We are talking about Nick."
Trevor pressed on as he leaned towards her across the bar. "Who came in and did the dance of a 1000 veils? Well, 975 of them anyway..."
"That was Mona, of course. Otherwise known as Mary Jean."
"Right," Trevor said. "That is until Don, otherwise known as Robert, came in and..."
Claire finished for him. "Swept her off her feet and out the door. Very noble of him."
"And all those details are mere coincidence?" Trevor's asked incredulously.
"Yes, Trevor. They are."
"I can't believe you won't admit it. They were the same dreams!"
"It wasn't the same dream,Trevor. It was a similar dream. A random event. I mean, think about it We both have a lot of the same friends... we see a lot of the same people. We could have both seen the same fragment of some movie. Or maybe you made some off-handed comment that neither of us remember, that struck both of us in the same way. There are hundreds of possibilities, Trevor. We both have similar experiences and then we incorporated people from our lives to fill in the scenario. Like you just said, Trevor. I have been trying to understand you're mind. So its not all that surprising that I might predict how you think. Disturbing, but not surprising."
Trevor fixed her with a stare. "And what do you think that we think?"
Claire thought. For a moment. "Considering who was in the dream, I'd say we both manufactured a construct of my singles group. I mean, they were all there, dancing around each other the way they dance around their feelings, the way they dance around finding a relationship. And the only reason you and I were there together is... because we both, in a way, preside over that dance. Over and over again each week."
Trevor corrected her. "Until the ratings go down, that is."
"My point is that, in a way, we both guide them in their search for love. I try to help them one way, and you try to help them the wrong way. But we both try."
Trevor sighed. "Leave it to you to ruin a perfectly good fantasy..."
"Fine, Trevor. What do you think that it means?"
"I think the gods are trying to tell us something."
"There are no gods, Trevor. And if there were, what could they possibly be interested in trying to tell us?"
"That we all need to dance more. That maybe that guy Michael, who would dance at the drop of a hat, had it right. That everyone has the need, the urge, to grab life, and dance with each other once and a while. Including you and me."
Claire considered it. "Maybe," she said.
Trevor decided to try a different approach. "OK, look. If this was all coincidence, it was probably a one time thing, right? Just one dream among many."
Claire looked at him, uncertain of where he was going with this. "Right, so..." she said warily.
Trevor smiled. "When those bedouins attacked our convoy from the sand dunes on the second night of the full moon, what happened?"
Claire shook her head, surprised again. She couldn't keep the smile off her face. "That guy in the plane from the English patient came flying over and accidentally crashed into them, saving us. Somewhat non-sequitor, even for a dream, don't you think?"
"Maybe. But you still knew what happened, Claire. When you were caught in front of that calvary charge at Antidem-"
"You rescued me in that giant hot air balloon shaped like a heart," she finished his sentence, nodding slightly in reluctant acknowledgement. "Appropriate in so many ways."
"That was smaltzy, I know. Even I'm embarrassed by that one. Until the balloon was shot down by Alex's troops. Of course, then you climbed up onto his horse and rode off with him into the sunset..."
"Fine, Trevor. You've made your point. So we've had several similar dreams. They're only dreams. It still doesn't mean anything."
"Except that maybe I really am cupid, and my fellow Olympians are trying to tell you something."
"Trevor, there are two things that you will never convince me of. One, that you really are cupid, the god of love, who just happens to work as a bartender in Chicago, and two, that we are sharing the same dreams by the subtle graces of the gods. You just won't."
Trevor came out from behind the bar. He walked towards where she was seated. "Well, there's one way to find out. If we both have been having the same dream the past few nights, then we've both been having the last dance together." He reached his hand out to her in invitation as he placed his other hand behind his back and bowed slightly. "We should have it down pat."
Claire realized what he was asking and quickly looked around the bar, which was for the most part, empty except for a few people. "Trevor, this is ridiculous."
"Totally. We'll probably step all over each other's toes."
"Besides, there's no music..."
Suddenly the quiet bar was filled with music as a song started up on the jukebox. A single customer was walking away from it, one they had never seen before. The music was a ballad, rich and full, coming from every direction above them. Trevor smiled down at Claire, realizing he couldn't have timed it better even if he had made the attempt. Claire sighed to herself as she smiled slightly and took his hand. Reluctantly she rose to her feet.
From this moment, life has begun...
Trevor led her over to the open space in front of where the band usually played. He couldn't believe she was willing to do this. Her hand felt soft and real in his, as the air around them seemed to urge them both forward. A busboy pushed hurridly past, still busy with his duties. The electrician looked up from the mass of wires he was working on, to see them move into position. From his perch atop the ladder, he continued to watch while he worked. Trevor and Claire stood in front of each other, somewhat uncertain of how to proceed. Claire's free hand hesitated in mid-air, trying to decide whether to place it on his shoulder. Trevor liked the fact that she was uncomfortable for once, since it always seemed to be him.
"See," he motioned around them, "this is a ballroom of sorts. We'll have to get a little closer, though." Calmly he waited, watching her expectantly.
Claire tilted her head slightly as she considered. "Well, if it will prove you wrong..." She eased up next to him in one fluid motion, and they slowly began to dance.
It was amazing. With Trevor's arms around her Claire forgot where she was. The music continued, washing over them as they stepped and circled smoothly across the floor. The bar, the windows, the tables... they all seemed to spin slowly around them, almost as if they were dancing too. Together, Trevor and Claire moved easily, never missing a step or getting out of sync with each other. Trevor still felt swept away by how close Claire was, by the touch of her hand in his, while his other hand rested on her hip. The longer they danced, the easier it seemed. In all the days since Trevor had been trying to get to Olympus, he had never felt more content to be where he was then at that moment. With her in his arms.
From this... moment... on...