The next morning, light grew dimly across the sky until sunshine was angling down onto the doorstep in front of Claire's house. It was a bright, clear light, falling through the leaves dancing above with the soft breeze of a new dawn. The last memories and remnants of the previous night were gone. After a moment, footsteps were heard on the walkway, clear in the crisp air. Then Trevor walked into view, pausing, looking at her front door.
There was concern on his face, worry about Claire. He was concerned for how she had reacted to his little announcement yesterday. He wasn't so certain he should be there, not sure that Claire would even want to see him. Standing in front of her door, the sunlight fell through the trees and danced on his face and shoulders. Lifting a fist Trevor started to knock, but he stopped himself, silent for several seconds. Finally thinking better of it, he turned... and walked out of sight, leaving her doorstep. It was quiet fo several long moments. But then eventually... he stepped into view again, stopping in front of her door. The breeze still whispered through the sunlit leaves above him.
Taking a breath, Trevor started to knock again. Then he noticed something. Trevor stopped and blinked, reaching for the doorknob instead. To his surprise it turned easily in his grip and the door swung inward, already unlocked. It was the only invitation he needed. Without a moment of hesitation he stepped quickly into the house, clicking the door shut behind him.
Trevor paused in the front entryway, calmly looking over at the quiet rooms of her house all around him. Claire's elegantly furnished living room stretched empty beside him. There was no one in sight. Not a sound was heard.
Listening more carefully, he thought he heard something above him, peaking his interest. Jogging quietly up the staircase, Trevor followed the sound up to the second floor.
He moved slowly through the upper hallway, taking in the layout of Claire's home with interest. It was all new to him, not able to remember any of it. Trevor's fingers grazed over a vase filled with flowers, arrayed on a small table as he walked past. He looked up at the pictures on her wall. Reaching out, he turned one slightly askew, just barely, knowing it would subconsciously annoy the hell out of her. Stopping to listen once more, a small smile spread on his face when he heard it again. There it was. Running water. From a shower. Coming through the crack of Claire's slightly open bedroom door. It grew louder as he silently approached.
His eyes sparkling, Trevor gently pushed it open with his palm, looking in. Claire's bedroom was empty, her bathroom door closed. When he stepped in, he was instantly bathed in brilliant colors from where the morning light flowed in through a round stained glass window. The sun glowed brightly through the small opaque opening, filling the air with vivid bars of color.
Standing in the barrage of light, Trevor smiled in wonder, turning appreciatively to bathe in it, looking all around Claire's bedroom.
His eyes paused on Claire's already made bed, and he stepped closer towards it, admiring the pristine, neatly tucked white sheets spread smoothly before him in the room's gentle light. Watching it fondly, Trevor sighed.
"Ahh... the promised land."
He didn't realize that the shower had stopped running until the bathroom door opened and a glistening and very wet Claire Allen stepped out. She had a thick white bath towel just barely draped over her as Trevor gaped in wonder at the sight of her.
"Trevor!" Claire shrieked when she saw him standing there, instantly darting back into the bathroom as her towel began to slip down, slamming the door shut. Her voice came frantically through. "Trevor, what are you doing? Get out of here!"
Coming out of his wistful daze, Trevor blinked. "Wow.... Up until the part where you ran screaming in terror, I really hoped I was having THAT dream again..."
"Trevor, are you insane!"
"Why does everyone ask me that? Especially wet, semi nude and definitely female therapists?"
Without a single bit of concern for Claire's frantic reaction, he stepped closer to the closed bathroom door, grinning to himself as he called to her. "You didn't lock the door! Means you don't mind me seeing you naked! Or so I've been told... Hey, I feel like freshening up too... How about you wash my back and I wash your front?"
Still picturing that brief tantalizing image of her, Trevor started to lean down to peek through the keyhole, when the door opened just a crack, revealing a small part of Claire's wet face, stopping him.
"You still don't quite have that whole 'non-delusional' thing down, do you?" she said.
"Claire, I just wanted to check up on you. See how you were doing. I was worried about you. You seemed a little deflated yesterday. Although now, after viewing your little.. barely there shower ensemble, a more accurate description might be ...'perky'. Come back out! There's no shame in nudity! OK, sumo wrestling just sprung to mind, but other than that..."
She slammed the door shut.
He smiled. "Relax, Claire. It was nice.... Very, VERY nice. What little I saw. Most definitely impressive. Don't be so uptight. Trust me. I'm not implying anything sexual... I'm just saying, to me your body is.... uplifting. Ok, maybe it's a tiny bit sexual..."
He could hear the sounds of her getting dressed on the other side of the door. "Gee, Trevor... Ambushing half naked women in their homes... chasing them into locked bathrooms. You really know how to make a girl feel special, don't you?"
He sighed proudly. "Actually, I do. I really do. But I insist you buy me dinner first. Face it, you're an attractive woman Claire. Especially when all you have on is a loose towel and sarcasm. Flaunt it a little! Show it off... You're supposed to love your body. Wait... I think that's my line."
"You know... I've often put serious thought into a lobotomy to clear up those persistent delusional of yours, Trevor. Then again, you never think with that part of your anatomy anyway..."
"With a bodily context like that, psychoanalysis actually sounds fun... Besides, you could learn a thing ot two from me, Claire."
"Hate to disappoint you, Trevor. This isn't the show me state."
"Hey, I gave them that motto. But I don't think they understood what I was getting at... You should follow my lead, Claire. Get some exposure, put yourself out there..."
"Oh, you're out there alright..."
With a smile Trevor turned away from the door. Then he noticed something on the floor. Curious, he walked away without a word, blinking at what he had spotted, wondering what it was.
Inside the bathroom Claire continued to talk, now dressed for the most part. Already wearing sweatpants, she pulled a t-shirt over her head and down onto her upper body, running her fingers quickly through her still wet hair. "Trevor, you know I appreciate people breaking into my bedroom as much as the next litigant, but maybe just once you could actually try this arcane custom called knocking instead of your standard breaking and entering. I realize you still have all those 'but I'm a god' entitlement issues, but that doesn't give you license to barge into my bedroom when I'm getting out of the shower. I don't know... Maybe I could fit you with some sort of warning collar. Or a bell. Something tight. That chafes..."
Still drying her hair, Claire paused before exiting her door, warning him. "Trevor, if you aren't fully clothed when I come out, I swear, I'll-"
She finally stepped out into her bedroom. Stopping, she looked around in surprise. The room was empty. No one was there.
Claire searched for him, turning her head back and forth, slowly drying her hair. He was no where in sight. She called out into the rest of the house. "And I know exactly how much underwear I have in this room! Trevor..?"
Claire stopped when she noticed something. The brown cardboard box she had kept on the floor under the window was now on top of her bed. She hadn't left it there. Hurrying forward, she quickly looked through the items that were in it, realizing instantly what was missing. Trevor must have seen it. The box held all his personal effects, things Trevor had been found with when they had brought him in to the hospital. Things she had taken from his room. Things she had hidden from him. Now, one of them was missing. Her face fell.
"Great..." Her voice felt weary even to her ears, tired and beaten. Frantically, she darted out of her bedroom after him.
Claire's front door slammed open as she ran out into the glow of the morning sun bathing her walkway. That golden light glistened in her wet hair as she ran over to the sidewalk in her bare feet, searching all around. She spotted him in the distance, walking angrily away.
Claire ran up from behind Trevor and fell into step beside him, but he didn't look at her. His face was hard, angry in the new day's light as he looked straight ahead and not at her. The sun was bright on both their faces. Claire's bare feet moved gingerly across the icy cement, trying to match his angry pace. She kept looking down to watch her steps, even as she tried to calm him. Draped over Trevor's shoulder was his string of beads. The beads he had previously used to keep score of his matches. The beads he had found hidden in her bedroom.
"Trevor, I can explain..."
He didn't look at her, his voice soft and bitter, speaking almost to himself. "I don't know why I didn't see it faster. Why I didn't put it all together yesterday..."
"Put what together Trevor?"
She still hurried along, barefoot beside him, her hair cold and glistening wet. He didn't seem to have heard her, still muttering. "Guess I was too excited. Too elated that I remembered my identity. Didn't put two and two together. Must have been struck blind... Our sessions. Why I had to meet with you all this time... Never saw it till now..."
Claire winced as she accidentally stepped on a sharp rock on the cement. But she didn't slow down. "Trevor, if we could just talk--"
His voice was harder when he finally spoke to her. "That was it, wasn't it? I finally figured it out! That was why you were treating me. Why we met in the first place. You were treating me because of Cupid! And you intentionally kept that little fact away from me, lying to me this whole time... Keeping any other little secrets I should know about, Claire? Hey, why not... Doesn't count if you think I'm insane, right?"
She looked at him tenderly, trying to ignore the pain in her left foot as they walked together. "I do think you need help, Trevor. But that doesn't mean that I think that you're-"
"I can't believe I was so stupid..." He shook his head, firing an angry glare at her. "I trusted you Claire!"
"Trevor, I am on your side here."
He stopped walking, facing her bitterly. "Funny... because from my side, it looks like you lied to me the whole time. You knew exactly who I was."
"I still don't know who you are!" Frustrated, she pushed her wet hair back, the sun in her eyes. "I'm trying to help you!"
"How? By hiding who I am?"
"You are not Cupid, Trevor."
He moaned in annoyance, starting to walk again.
Claire followed beside him, not letting him leave her.
"No! You're not! Trevor, you're not some immortal god. There's no magical place called Olympus. Trevor, there's.... there's no THERE there!"
He shook his head. "When I saw these beads, when I picked them up out of that box, I finally realized... They were mine. You had no right to keep them from me!"
"Trevor, you don't know what the world almost did to you.."
"I know, I'm remembering more of it all the time. You haven't been honest with me ever, have you?"
She spoke more forcefully. "Well what did you expect, Trevor!"
He stopped again, glaring at her.
Her voice was softer, looking sadly into his eyes. "Be honest... Which is more likely. That Cupid is just your way of hiding from some previous pain? Or that you really are the god of love. A fictional creation. Bereft of power, or of proof. And most importantly... bereft of any pain anymore. What would you have believed in my place?"
"That I could have trusted you...." Hurt simmered deep in his eyes as he looked at her, his voice soft.
Claire felt what she had done to him, saw it in his face. She had never felt so helpless. Had she done anything right? It was like a rift had opened up between them, and she didn't know how to heal it. After a moment she looked down slowly, crossing her arms around her, cold and uncomfortable, standing barefoot on the sidewalk. They stood silently before each other in the morning air, bathed from head to toe in the sun's golden light.
When she spoke, her voice seemed broken, small and lost.
"Trevor... I don't know what I'm doing anymore..."
His voice didn't ease, still sharp with anger. "You knew enough to hide these from me, Claire. You think I'm the one with the problem? You hid my stuff from me! Maybe you're the one with the problem, lady..."
With a hard look on his face he turned and walked away, leaving her there with her arms wrapped tightly around herself.
"Trevor..." Tentatively she reached out, but she didn't follow him as he left. With a frustrated breath, she watched his retreating form fade into the glare of the sunlight bright in her eyes.
Pulling her arms tighter in because of the cold morning air, Claire looked around. She was barefoot, wet and alone on the hard sidewalk, arms around herself, with no one there. Finally Claire turned and walked back home, no longer caring about what rocks she stepped on.
Trevor sat uncomfortably in Claire's office
He was seated in his usual chair, facing Claire's desk, waiting for her to show up. The seat behind her desk was empty. A clock ticked loudly in the silence. She was late. For once he had been precisely on time. Trevor started tapping his fingers slowly on the armrest of his chair, feeling angsty, and more and more jumpy the longer he had to wait. He crossed his legs, pausing in a deliberate casual pose, before crossing them back again, undecided. He started to lean forwards, but leaned back instead, unsure where to put his hands. All he knew was that he needed to keep moving, not wanting to let the room's noiseless wail penetrate any deeper into his already stimulus deprived mind.
Trevor crossed his legs again and leaned back, giving an imaginary Claire in the chair before him a seductive look, raising an eyebrow, trying to angle his face around to get it right.
"How YOU doin'..." he said huskily. "How... how you... doin'..."
That didn't divert him for long. Still feeling anxious, he finally stood up and started to pace. Claire was never late. HE was the one who was supposed to be late. If he was the one left waiting, where was the fun in that? A ball of pent up energy, Trevor started snapping his fingers together as he glanced up at the clock. It kept ticking. Louder and louder, unstoppable. Tick. Tick. Finally he walked over to the closed office door and opened it enough to stick his face out.
Jaclyn looked up from her seat behind the reception desk. She had been nervously tapping her pencil against the stack of work she was ignoring, waiting for Claire to show up too.
"No, Trevor. Nothing..."
Trevor nodded and quickly pulled back, closing the door.
Jaclyn was left alone in the reception area. With concern in her eyes, she looked down the hallway directly before her. It was empty. Would Claire show up? After seeing her reaction to Trevor's announcement yesterday, Jaclyn was in no way certain she would. Barely ten seconds had passed when the office door opened again and Trevor poked his head out once more.
"How about now?" he asked impatiently.
Jaclyn smiled. "No Trevor... Look the second she shows up, I'll... I'll beep you or something."
Trevor thought about that. "Are you propositioning me?"
"Only in your world would 'beep you' constitute a come on, Trevor."
He seemed disappointed. "Damn... I was hoping it was. Might pass the time..."
The office door was quickly shut again, Trevor disappearing inside. Blushing, Jaclyn didn't buy it, and she began counting softly to herself.
"One... Two... Thr-"
The door opened again. "You sure? Because despite rampant feminine testimonials to the contrary, I can do it quickly..."
Jaclyn looked over at him, ignoring that. "Why are you so eager for Claire to show? I though you were mad at her."
Trevor stammered, defensive. "I-I was... I mean, I... I am... just... just not anymore... Ok, I'm weak, I admit it. For some reason I just can't stay mad at Claire for long..."
Looking down, Jaclyn smiled knowingly to herself, thinking. "Guess it is blind after all..."
He didn't get it. "Huh?"
"Nothing..." Jaclyn didn't explain any further. "Normally you despise these sessions with Claire, Trevor. So why now? You know she'll never believe you..."
Trevor gave her a level look, as if it were obvious. "You've... actually seen Claire, right?"
"No, I mean naked."
"Naked? Meaning who? Her or me?"
He thought for a moment. "Yes."
"Trevor, how is it that any blood ever gets to your brain at all?"
"God like circulatory powers..." He drummed his fingers on the doorway, leaning out to look down the hallway. "Where is she? Has she called? Done any of the usual Claire-ish stuff? Faxed in her latest hourly itinerary? Or a freshly written tardiness form in triplicate? Sapped the fun out of the room with a disapproving phone call? Thrown herself on the wrath of the vengeful punctuality gods? You know... act like Claire I mean..."
Standing up, Jaclyn walked over to a file cabinet to put away the work she wasn't working on anyway. She came closer to where his face was poking through Claire's door. "Trevor, I've been meaning to ask you something--"
"Oh that. Ok... most people don't understand that your supposed to apply the lubricant before you actually start to-" he twisted his hands in mid-air.
Jaclyn interrupted him. "You think you're Cupid. Claire thinks you're deluded. Doesn't the fact that she's constantly trying to 'fix' you bother you at all?"
"Well I..." He blinked. "There have... there have been a few fun parts, sorta..." He didn't sound very convinced. "Occasionally..."
Jaclyn leaned against the wall beside the door, looking at him. "I know how lock step Claire can be when it comes to her work. She's never met a potential psychosis she didn't like, so..."
He shrugged it off. "Claire can't change any of the parts of me that matter... Well, not in a bad way I mean... Besides, there's more to our sessions than just the mind numbing pain of psychoveranalyzing things to death. There's also all that unspeakable sexual tension to look forward to...."
"Hmm. Fond sentiment like that really warms the heart Trevor."
"Oh, not the heart..." Trevor looked at her leaning there near him. "Are you really sure about before? Because this door locks and I could clear off her desk-"
In answer Jaclyn shoved his face back into Claire's office and closed the door. As she returned to the reception desk, she heard footsteps behind her and she turned, looking down the hallway.
It was Claire. She was walking calmly forward, a resolved look on her face as she approached. Jaclyn quickly ran over to her.
"Claire... Where have you been? You're forty minutes late. I started to wonder if you were coming..."
Claire lowered her eyes. "Join the club..."
"Trevor's been waiting inside the whole time. He got so bored he even resorted to propositioning me..."
"Yeah, what did he do the second minute?" Claire's voice was soft, without much enthusiasm. She looked at her closed office door as she walked past it, putting her files and things down on the reception desk. "I almost didn't come at all..."
Standing beside Claire at the desk, Jaclyn looked up at her, curious. "Why did you? What changed your mind?"
Thinking of how to explain, Claire sighed. "Jaclyn... If I back out now... I don't know what the next doctor will do to Trevor. What radical treatment might be attempted next, just to cover up their failures... You know they won't get any further than I have. I--... even if I can't cure him, I can at least keep up the pretense. And keep Trevor out of a mental institution...."
Jaclyn seemed curious, pressing further. "And that's all? That's the only reason? Don't you have something to tell him? Like how the two of you felt for each other?"
Claire turned to face her, tired resolve in her sad eyes. "I've given up, Jaclyn... I'll keep him safe. But I won't kid myself into thinking I have any chance of curing him. Or of being with him."
"But what about you and Trevor finally together?"
"Maybe it's time I opened my eyes.... It's not going to happen. We're not going to happen. And he doesn't need to know about it. I just can't do this anymore, Jaclyn. Wrestling with what I know I can't change... in either of us. Whether I like it or not, I've got to accept things the way they are."
For a long moment, Jaclyn looked into her eyes. "Sounds like a sad way to live a life..."
Claire exhaled. "Yeah. Well... I've lost hope for anything else..."
She turned towards her office door. Claire took a deep breath, gathering herself, more resolved than before. She opened the door and slowly went inside, closing it gently behind her.
Jaclyn stood there, watching the closed door of Claire's office, reading the gold lettering on the frosted glass.
Dr. Claire Allen.
Jaclyn blinked, trying to take in what had just happened.
"Guess it's over then..." She said sadly to herself, going back to her work.
"She just seems so withdrawn lately..." Trevor spoke in a soft voice as he threw the next bit of popcorn.
It was afternoon. Trevor and Allison were laying next to each other on the couch in their apartment. They were leaning back, sprawled out in relaxed positions. Occasionally they threw popcorn at the television screen where a football game was playing, trying to hit whichever player was carrying the ball, having lost interest in the game long ago.
Popcorn arched out of their hands. Allison's legs were stretched out on her battered coffee table in front of her, her exposed skin smooth and supple. She was leaning back beside Trevor, wearing shorts and a snug white t-shirt that emphasized her beautiful womanly shape. Beside her Trevor was completely at ease, even with her attractive body pressed in close. Popcorn kernels flew through the air as they talked. There was already a scattered cluster of them on the floor in front of the tv.
Trevor continued. "Something's bothering Claire. And I'm gonna find out what..."
Allison popped a kernel into her mouth, chewing as she pointed at the screen and eagerly sat up, leaning forward. "There he is, Trevor. Quarterback guy. Cute and immensely fine in tight clingy stretch pants..." She pelted him with popcorn.
Trevor protested. "Hey, he's not the ball carrier..."
"He can play with me any day... Hey you're the god of love. Maybe you could arrange for me and him to have a little private tackle session." Her eyes sparkled. "I only need an hour or so..."
Trevor was still lost in his thoughts about Claire, absently lobbing another kernel of popcorn at the screen, completely oblivious to what Allison had asked. Turning towards him when he didn't answer, she glanced down. Her exposed leg had grazed softly against his. She smiled at the sensation, but he didn't seem to notice how close her body was pressed in beside his.
"I think I know what Claire's problem is," Trevor was lost in his thoughts. "She's in love... Has to be. No one gets into a funk like that without a broken heart being the cause. Not this side of botched rectal surgery, I mean. Some guy has squeezed her heart and not let go. So... her flame to my moth... The love god comes forth. I find this person, and then... then I guess, maybe I... I don't know... should get them together or something."
Allison looked over at the sound of his voice. "You almost sound like you don't want to."
He protested lightly, feigning a certainty he didn't feel. "Of-Of course I want to. I--... I'm the god of love. Why wouldn't I? Besides, it's what I do. If I can get Claire a little hip range bump and grind going, maybe she'll unclench with me a little. See that she's wrong about me. Anyway, I have a job to do. Beads don't move themselves. And I just want her to be happy..."
Allison sighed. "Trevor, all you've done all day is talk about Claire. Why are you obsessing?"
"I'm not, it's just... She thinks I'm crazy."
"So what? Happens to lots of people everyday. Why do you care what she thinks?"
"Because..." He searched for a response. "...she has the binding legal authority to lock me up? And when you take out the spanking, her binding isn't nearly as fun..."
Allison looked at him, waiting for a serious answer.
Trevor sighed. "I just want to prove to her that my being Cupid is a good thing. That there's nothing wrong with me. If I fix her little problem and she's pole vaulting on and into bed again, maybe she'll see me in a better light. Anyway, I hate seeing her like this when I know I can do something about it, that's all..."
Her face softened as she considered what she heard in Trevor's voice. "You really care about her don't you?"
He tried to laugh it off. "Yeah right... What, Mrs. passion-less, things in common, putting the anal in analytical, so called relationship expert? Let's just call it a professional morbid fascination."
Allison blinked, thinking. "All those times you've propositioned her. All the innuendoes. The come ons...I thought you wanted to be the one pole vaulting into her bed. Wouldn't this... this new guy put a crimp in that?"
"Ouch." Trevor winced at the image before continuing. "Hey, I'm not saying I'd be against a little one on one Claire Bear wrestling on the side. Or the back. Or the front--have you seen her front? It's all good. But I've done this stuff for thousands of years. I'm a professional. I won't let the ache in my loins get in the way of the ache in her heart. Claire deserves to find her true love..."
Allison propped herself up on one elbow and pressed her point, turning to face him. "You sure that's the only reason?"
"Course it is. What else would it be..."
Allison looked at him for a long moment, surprised. Her eyes were tender, a small smile on her face, touched by his feelings for Claire. Before Trevor knew it, Allison confidently leaned in and gave him a deep, electrifying kiss on the lips. Her hand gently lifted, their lips together as it traced across his jaw line. The room went silent, both swept away by that sudden fiery touch. Surprised and caught off guard, Trevor didn't fight it, keeping his hands at his sides as he closed his eyes and let her kiss him.
Softly, their lips parted. The room around them seemed less immediate. The tv seemed to drone off in the distance. They looked into each other's eyes, considering each other, their soft breathing more pronounced and flushed. There was no shame in Allison's face, still smiling tenderly at him.
She leaned in again, slower this time, watching him. He watched too, not taken by surprise. Trevor's lips were still tingling from her first kiss. As her face came near, he could feel her mouth hovering warmly next to his. Her lips stopped millimeters from contact, parted, waiting. She breathed, imperceptibly leaning closer, until the thinnest edges of their lips touched. There was a palpable tension, a yearning in both of them, waiting...
Until Trevor pulled back, stopping himself.
Allison pulled back too, smiling at him. She didn't seem upset at all, as if she had confirmed something.
Trevor blinked, a little embarrassed that the so called god of love couldn't go through with it. "I--... I can't... And I don't know why..."
Allison's eyes filled with understanding, even more certain than before. "Yes. You do..."
With a contented grin Allison leaned back again, stretching out on the couch beside him and watching the game again. Still trying to catch up, Trevor did the same. She seemed pleased with herself after seeing the obvious reaction she had caused in him. Beside her, Trevor slid his palm over his chin and mouth, trying to compose himself.
Not looking at him, Allison popped another popcorn kernel into her mouth, teasing him lightly. "I've wanted to do that all morning, Trevor. Tried to tell you as much, but you're a hell of a one for taking a hint. Little love god's as blind as a bat today. For awhile I wondered if maybe it was just that whole 'no sex with mortals' godly decree-"
"You mean I can't have sex with mortals?!!" Trevor was genuinely stunned, popcorn spilling into his lap as he stared in disbelief.
Allison wasn't paying attention, thinking to herself. "That's not what stopped you though."
There was a gentle light in her eyes when she looked at him knowingly. "Maybe you should tell her..."
He didn't have to ask who she meant, leaning back. With a tiny smile he looked down. "Tell her what."
She smiled. "How you feel... how you fell..."
Trevor chuckled softly to himself, looking away. He started to toss popcorn at the football game again, saying nothing.
Smiling as she watched him for a moment, Allison looked away too.
The kernels continued to fly out from both of them, as the afternoon deepened in the windows behind them. Soon, they began throwing popcorn at each other. They laughed as they got up and began to chase each other around the room, pelting the other's running forms more popcorn dotted the floor.
Claire was reading one of the lower headlines in the newspaper she held. She was at home, the paper in her hands as she read the text.
OVERSIGHT REVIEW SET FOR NEXT WEEK
AS NEW YORK DOCTOR/PATIENT SEX SCANDAL DEEPENS
Her brown eyes traveled over the words sadly, reading about the firestorm that was raging through the New York psychology circles. All because of the blossoming scandal of a doctor using his therapeutic position to bed his female patients. She blinked. What would the headliners think of her and Trevor? She put the paper down, silent. After a moment, she gazed forlornly out of her front window. Her house was quiet as she sat alone on the couch. Not surprising, really. Lately her entire days had been quiet. She hadn't been feeling very talkative lately. Suddenly her phone rang, and she picked it up.
Trevor's voice came through. He immediately started talking as if they were in the middle of a conversation that hadn't stopped. "Like I was saying, here's the deal Sparky. I've been thinking about your 'condition'..."
She blinked. "MY...condition?"
"Yeah. I've decided I'm going to help you out. You're in love with someone Claire. Someplace where it still hurts. I'll find out who he is, lock the two of you in a jacuzzi with a drink bar handy, and bam!!! Things get patched up. That simple. I'll track down that lucky stiff and make him one lucky stiff again. Sound good?"
Claire sighed, exhausted. "Trevor..."
"No need to thank me doc. Just consider yourself blessed that you're treating the god of love. You alone get prime access to the wonder, that is, I. Because... let's face it. Keep this gloom and doom act up, you'll end up making 'No meat night' at Sizzler look like happy camp."
"You're still on this, Trevor? Can't you kill a different horse to beat on?"
"Hey. Your dead horse is horse enough, Claire."
"Or... maybe just once you might try thinking outside of that tiny delusional box, Trevor..."
He began to sing. "In and out and and in and...'Mama's got a Squeeze Box'. The WHO, 1975... See? I haven't forgotten everything..."
"Not that kind of box, Trevor."
"Humh? Wait, squeeze... Oh!!! Squeeze! Is that what that song was about? I just thought mama was really gifted musically. Wow... I knew I liked that song for a reason... I'm going to find your true love, Claire. This guy your pinning away for. You'll see. There's nothing wrong with me... Safe to say, you are definitely at the top of my things to do list. Just now in a different way..."
Unenthused, she lowered her eyes. "Goodbye, Trevor."
She hung up.
Trevor smiled as he held the payphone to his ear. Behind him a car whooshed by on the street with it's headlights on. Trevor was standing by a small payphone stand, alone on the sidewalk. Hanging the phone up, he turned from it and sighed contently. There was a new eagerness in his eyes. Above him, the darkening sky was turning into fiery reds as he stood and watched the disc of the sun disappear behind the black outlines of Chicago's skyscrapers. Near him, a street light high in the air fluttered bright for a moment, then slowly it's dim light grew brighter from it's center against a dark azure sky.
Trevor nodded, feeling better. He smiled, knowing he had a purpose now.
"So it begins...."
He walked off down the sidewalk, one solitary figure fading into the distance. A god on a mission.
Trevor's bedroom was still dark, covered in the dim shadows of the pre dawn morning. The small alarm beside his bed suddenly blared to life, loud and shrill. Trevor instantly jerked up in his sheets, startled by its piercing squeal as his awareness struggled up through the fog of his sleep. Holding his ears desperately between one hand and a pillow, he tried to protect them from the shrill tone of the alarm as his free hand fumbled over, reaching for the mute button. As he pawed at it the alarm slipped off the table and fell to the floor, still ringing loudly. Trevor fell clumsily out of bed, scrambling to pick it up, frantically trying to shut the alarm off. He turned it over quickly in his hands, searching. Finally he jammed down on the button, but it didn't work. Nothing worked. The alarm continued, slicing into his brain. Cursing in ancient Roman and Greek, he started to follow the electrical cord, pulling it frenetically towards him, searching for where the alarm was plugged into the wall.
Out of nowhere, the plunging alarm clock smashed to pieces on the dark asphalt of the quiet street beneath Trevor's bedroom window. Far above, Trevor rubbed his temple in the shadowy light of the early morning, leaning out of his upper floor window after banging his head against it when he had rushed over to it to hurl out the alarm. The air felt cool on his skin, as above the sky brightened minimally. Still trying to wake up, Trevor wearily looked down, his face turning to disgust as he looked at the smashed pieces of the alarm. A large newspaper van suddenly drove into view down the street with it's headlights on, smashing the pieces even further as it sped over them.
Trevor exhaled, his voice coarse and weary.
"I hate the 21st century..."
Leaning back in, he slammed the window shut.
Yawning, Trevor stumbled around the sink counter and into his dark kitchen. He knew Allison was probably still asleep upstairs. Suddenly he was bathed in light from inside the refrigerator as he opened it, revealing his sleepy, stubbled face. With his eyelids half shut, he set an empty glass down on top of the refrigerator, leaving it there. His hand reached into the lighted interior, before he brought his fist up and cracked it on the rim of the glass in the darkness. A raw egg slurped from the broken shell in his palm to the bottom of the cup. Reaching down, Trevor did it again, until another egg yolk joined it. Then another. And another slurp. Five had gathered now. When the sixth egg's innards had congealed and mixed into the slimy mess with the others, Trevor breathed out and picked up the glass. He tilted it back to his mouth and let the six raw egg yolks slowly slurp down past his lips and into his throat, some of the yellowish clear strands dripping down onto his chin. With his mouth now full, Trevor paused, a curious look on his face as he considered the sensation. The mass was still sliding down his throat.. slowly, on it's own. Instantly he dashed over to the sink and coughed it all back up.
"Looked cooler in the movie..." he gagged
A small stereo rested on the counter. Reaching out as he wiped his mouth, Trevor pushed the play button. The music began, an energetic upbeat song. Fast and lively, Trevor hoped it would wake him up.
I'm so cool, too bad I'm a loser...
Trevor listened with a smile, trying to pump himself up for the task at hand. He looked out of his living room window just in time to see the glittering edge of the morning sun poke up above the shadowed building's in the distance as it rose. Trevor smiled into the new day, then he turned and got to work.
I'm so smart, too bad I can't get anything figured out...
Morning filled Claire's office as well. The sun was shining golden in her windows. She stepped around the side of her desk and turned to face the laptop computer sitting on top of her desk as the sun rose ever higher behind her. She settled into her chair, starting a new work day and flipping on the computer's power, waiting for the screen to brighten before she got to work.
I'm so brave, too bad I'm a baby...
In Trevor's apartment, the light over the kitchen table came on, softly brightening the round table below. Books suddenly were thrown into view, tossed onto the table in the dim glow of morning light. Looking down, the room seemed to turn slowly around them, as more and more books joined the others on the table. Allison's thick, battered Chicago phonebook plopped into view. Followed by freshly ordered school yearbooks, both high school and college. A folded up singles section from the morning newspaper joined the mix (worth a shot). A hard cover labeled The Who's Who of recent authors, replete with biographical information followed behind. Then there was a printout of a list of names and phone numbers from Claire's hospital. Still looking down, a chair was pulled out from the table's edge as the room continued to spin slowly. Taking the chair, Trevor settled into place, putting an empty legal pad and a pencil beside him.
Trevor looked over all the books he had gathered, sighing at how much there was. Finally he opened one, and dove into his research on Claire.
I'm so fly, that's probably why
it feels just like I'm falling for the first time...
Looking down onto Claire's desk, her laptop computer screen was glowing too. She reopened Trevor's case file, deciding to try again to cure him no matter how hopeless it was. Her elegant fingers danced over the keyboard as she typed. Around her, the office seemed to spin slowly. Words flowed smoothly onto her screen, hearing them clearly in her mind.
Case #092698. Subject: Trevor Hale. Latest entry, charting the course of my continuing treatment of said subject's abiding delusional architecture, called... Cupid.
I'm so green, it's really amazing...
Trevor's kitchen slowly spun around him too. Looking down at him in the now brighter morning light, he was hunched over several open books, scribbling sloppily into his legal pad, engrossed in writing down notes, wild theories, corrections... Stopping to read one of them, it suddenly seemed totally out in left field, and he quickly erased it from the paper.
Claire's lip wrinkled, frowning at her screen. She didn't like the analysis she had just typed in. Moving the cursor over, she quickly highlighted it and deleted the section.
I'm so clean, to bad I can't get this dirt off of me...
Trevor's fingertips were gray with pencil graphite as he ran them back through his hair and considered the mass of notes and information in front of him, at a loss. He needed more specifics, more details. Reaching over, he slid an office rolodex closer to him, starting to turn through all the name cards.
Seated in her office, Claire reached out for her rolodex, usually on top of her desk. There was just some information she didn't trust leaving on the computer, and she wanted to re-examine some old potential theories she had about who Trevor was, and where he came from. But her hand still hadn't touched anything, groping blindly. After a moment she looked over, blinking in surprise when she realized that for some reason her rolodex wasn't there.
I'm so sane, it's driving me crazy...
Trevor flipped to the next card in Claire's rolodex, quickly dialing a number. Someone answered on the other end and Trevor began to speak.
"Hi, This is Dr. Hale. I'm a professional... colleague of Dr. Claire Allen's, from Chicago General? Umm, right. That's the one. I was calling because I'm currently working with Dr. Allen's publisher on a biographic profile for her upcoming book, and I though you might be able to help me with some of her close personal history, specifically, romantic--"
It's so strange I can't believe it
Feels just like I'm falling for the first time...
There was consternation on Claire's face. She looked through her old case notes by hand, searching for any clue into Trevor's delusion that she might have missed before in one of her countless attempts. She wasn't ready to give up on his case just yet. But maddeningly, as much as she looked, there was nothing. She rubbed her brow. And now her head was starting to hurt.
Trevor smiled in response, the phone nestled against his ear. "Great... That's great. Great story, but... I was hoping for a little bit more personal insight into Claire. A more... explicit insight. Something salacious. You wouldn't happen to know the last person was who... bounced her bed sheets lately would you? Hello? He-"
He tousled the the cradle button on his phone but it was no use. The line had gone dead. They had hung up. With a sigh, he crossed another name off his call list, moving on to the next rolodex card.
"Hi, My name's Dr. Hale, and I'm doing a study on-"
Anyone perfect must be lying.
Anything easy has it's cost...
In her office, Claire was on the phone too. "Hi Bob, it's me... Claire Allen. Yeah, I was assigned a new case today and I was looking for a little more info on a patient file, a patient named Rachel Winter, so I was wondering if you... Great. Yeah, that would be great. Thanks.. What? No, I... No my assistant hasn't called you today. No... no I haven't... No, I'm not working on another book..."
Claire paused, confused, wondering what was going on.
Trevor jerked his head back from the receiver against his ear as the profanity laden tirade stopped when the woman hung up. The expletives were still ringing in his ears. He blinked, realizing that specific investigative avenue was a bust. As he hung up the phone he looked wistfully down at his long list of Claire's old high school friends, regretfully crossing out a name.
"Sandra's off the love list... Probably just wishful thinking on my part..."
Anyone plain can be lovely,
anything loved can be lost...
Claire was exasperated, staring blankly ahead in disbelief as she held the phone receiver against her ear. Her voice was weary, soft and annoyed. "For the last time, James.... No... I am not writing some sort of illustrated sex book..."
Trevor laughed, still on the phone. "Right! Glad you remember me. I hadn't realized that I had already met Claire's sister. So... I was wondering if you could tell... What? No, I mean that's certainly intriguing, but I don't--... Wow... I've never tried that... I mean, I don't see how you could even balance that on your--... I'm, I'm flattered, really. You're the first woman I've heard who could do that... Yes, I know you're Claire sister, but honestly, I don't remember ever seeing you naked... So maybe you could help me with Claire's--... Dumped her? What do you mean, have I dumped Claire? Hello? Hello?"
Trevor shrugged as he hung up the phone.
"What was that about?"
What if I lost my direction? What if I lost my sense of time...
Claire's fingers were typing even faster, flying fast and concise over the keys of her computer, filling screen after screen with text.
Trevor was scribbling frantically, making barely legible notes in his haste, his marks filling page after page with jumble.
The room gently spun around him. The room gently spun around her. Claire's eyes moved over her computer screen, reading what she had typed and hearing it in her head.
Although I have continued in my attempts to dissuade Trevor Hale's delusional identity, so far it has been without any pertinent results. Every option has failed. Every avenue has led to nowhere. He still adamantly clings to that persona, and tries constantly to convince me that he's truly the god of love. Which put simply, is obviously impossible. Trevor Hale is in no way god like. He's barely adult-like. And even if he were the god of love, if that truly was his identity... where did his genetic code come from? Where did his human body come from? His blood, his muscles, his soft brown eyes. His... hairline.
What if I nursed this infection? Maybe the worst is behind...
Trevor switched from his research notes to pick up the notebook Claire had given him. It was the 'dream' journal she had wanted him to start. He had left it empty until now, but finally he started his first entry, writing into it with a pen, as if speaking to her.
So here at last is that journal you wanted from me, Sparky. You wanted me to record my dreams. Instead this will be documentation. A historical record of my incredibly adept and immensely qualified efforts at finally 'getting you some'. You are now my pet project, Sparky. Everything else is on hold. This may not be one of those useless comatose sleep thingees you hoped for, but showing you up IS a sorta dream of mine. So this will have to do. Besides you want the truth? You couldn't handle the truth! Not of what I really dream about. Not without a sedative, a cold shower, and an even stronger pulsing hand held spray nozzle. So pay attention Sparky. And take notes... This is your shining example on putting couples together, doc. Free of charge. The right way...
Claire smiled at that and shook her head at Trevor's audacity. She read over some of her old case files, she turned to her computer again and started typing her thoughts.
Obviously Trevor's profound delusional state remains constant and pervasive. It is a part of him, unalterable, untenable, and dominating his personality, his psyche, his life and dreams. Perhaps this overwhelming drive to help people find their true love, masks some similar latency in his own past love life. And yet despite these suspicions, I have no doubt that his caring is genuine. That his heart is ultimately in the right place. Perhaps that's what mental illness is. An extreme exaggeration of those genuine parts inside all of us. Trevor's no exception. In the end, like Cupid, or perhaps Icarus, maybe he finally fell from reality because he loved too much...
And it feels just like I'm falling for the first time..
Trevor laughed, knowing what Claire would think. He was still alone in his apartment, writing in his journal as the room slowly spun around him.
You can't love too much, Claire. It's impossible. There can never be too much love in the world. It's a bottomless well. Why do you think they call it falling in love? I'm going to show you that again, put you back together with whoever this person is hurting your heart. For the next few weeks, this will be my overriding goal, even above picturing you naked. So buckle up, Claire. Made a list, checked it twice. Called all your buddies, naughty and nice. But not as naughty as I hoped. Still, I will find him. The love of your life. The person your pitter patter little heart is longing and yearning for. I'll bring him back to you. Or her... if you e-mail me the pictures...
I'm so chill, no wonder I'm freezing...
In Claire's office, the afternoon light was coming through her windows. She didn't notice, still typing.
I know I still hold out some small hope out for Trevor's rehabilitation. But no hope for us together as a couple. Both seem equally pointless at this point. We're both far too stubborn and entrenched to change, least of all each other. So there's no real alternative, not beyond his apostasy or my own. What hope remains after that? I'm back to where I was, trying to find who out he really is, and who I really am... That's what I need to cure him. and maybe to finally love him... But that's still only a fantasy. It's impossible. Trevor doesn't know how I feel, and he never will. I can't let that happen. Guess the fairy tales were wrong. Love doesn't conquer all...
I can hear your practical, cynical mind working and turning it's gears from here, Claire. You may not believe it, but love does conquer all...
I'm so still, I just can't keep my fingers out of anything...
Trevor walked down a crowded city sidewalk. He held an empty book sleeve in his hand, having swiped it from a book in the bookstore. The back fold had Claire's picture on it. It was from her book. In the warm afternoon light he randomly stopped people walking by, showing them her picture and asking questions. As he continued down the sidewalk, he still heard the words he had written in his journal in his head.
But no one said it happens easily...
Claire sighed, looking again at the lines of text glowing form her laptop plasma screen. Her face softened, and she began to type again.
In my moments of intellectual weakness, and despite my concerns, I occasionally consider if there may be something to Trevor's worldview. Nothing heavy medication couldn't cure of course...
I'm so thrilled, to finally be feeling...
The floor tiles in the hospital hallway were clean and shiny, reflecting Trevor's body as he walked down the hall. He stopped an orderly passing by and started asking the man questions. For once Trevor was surprised when the gossipy orderly started to provide some answers. Pulling out his notepad, Trevor quickly scribbled down what the orderly was telling him.
Wearing a white lab coat, Claire walked though the hospital's lock down ward, her ID badge bouncing on her pocket. As she passed, she looked sadly at the people locked up there, unable to stop herself. Somehow, she kept seeing Trevor's face there instead of theirs. Claire turned away, buzzing out through the security door and walking into the public part of the hospital.
I'm so done turn me over 'cause it
feels just like I'm falling for the first time....
Trevor rounded a corner in the hospital, expression pleased. Until he spotted her. Claire was coming towards him. Smile dropping, he instantly scrambled into a broom closet, shutting the door closed. Claire walked right passed it, not having seen him. After a moment, he opened it a crack, watching her leave. The last thing he wanted was for Claire to find him and stop his hospital information sources. This place was a goldmine for gossip. But Claire was still in sight, talking to someone, blinking in surprised at what the man told her.
Trevor noticed a hospital food tray near his door. As Claire stood there in the distance talking, his hand reached out, pulling the tray into the closet with him and closing the door.
Trevor was back at home, his notes a chaotic mess. They were filled with names and possibilities, a scrambled jumble of circled prospects, arrows interlocking various opinions, doodles of Claire naked, some conjectures and theories, more naked doodles... Trevor sighed, exhausted, feeling weighed down, no closer to his goal than he had been.
Anything plain can be lovely, anything loved can be lost,
Maybe I lost my direction, what if our love is the cost...
Claire rubbed her forehead, wearily leaning forward to read her latest case summation on Trevor. The orange bars of late afternoon sunlight angled in through her windows. She tried to keep her tired eyes from shutting. After she read, once more her lip crinkled at the words, and dejectedly she started to delete sections.
Trevor crossed out name after name, all dead ends. He angrily erased even more of his notes. His paper was covered with eraser dust, until the pencil finally broke in his hands. Frustrated, he tossed it across the room.
Anyone perfect must be lying, anyone loved can be lost,
What if I lost my direction, what if I lost my sense of time,
what if I nursed this infection, maybe the worst is behind...
Claire leaned back in her chair and looked out her office window. The sun was finally setting, dropping from view. She exhaled. That was enough for today. Turning her computer off, she gathered her things and went home.
Looking down, Trevor was passed out on a kaleidoscope of empty pizza boxes and soda cans, his notes a jumbled mess around him on the kitchen table. Allison appeared for a moment, gently taking back her phone book and walking away. Trevor continued to snore soundly, the light of the sunset filling his apartment. The room seemed to slowly spin, dimming as he slept.
Feels just like I'm falling for the first time...
Slowly the music faded, and everything went black.
A soft bell chimed.
It was already the lunch rush when Allison heard the front door open. She looked up from her place behind the bar and smiled at Trevor as he came into Taggerty's.
Trevor walked through the early lunch crowd and moved over to her. He was carrying a stack of research notes in his arms. With a grunt he dropped them down on a clear space at the crowded bar, standing across from Allison. Champ was working behind the bar too. He came up to the two of them as he sipped from a bottled water in his hand. Curious, he looked down at all the notebooks as Trevor spread them out on the bar.
Music still blared in the busy room. Bright sunlight filled the windows behind him. Trevor looked around at the hectic crowd and turned to Champ.
"Little busy today, Champoo..."
"Yeah. You'd be surprised how business types need a little mid day alcohol laced pick me up with their food..."
Allison leaned closer to Trevor, angling her curvy body forward over the countertop. Most definitely noticing, Champ tried not to stare down at all the enticing lines she was making. Her face was next to Trevor's, and Allison smiled, looking at him.
"Trevor, I meant to ask you something. I think I left my bra on your bed and I couldn't find it today. Have you seen it?"
Trevor seemed uncomfortable, aware Champ was listening nearby, even though he knew that for Allison that was a purely innocent question. "Umm... No. Haven't seen it, Allison. Sorry."
Leaning back, her brow furrowed, thinking. "Damn. Wonder where I put it? It was my favorite one.... Really held my girls just right..."
Without a second thought she walked away, not noticing the daze she left the two men in as they pictured that in their heads.
Trevor looked over at Champ. "It's not what you think..."
"I know..." Champ agreed.
"How do you know that?"
Champ gave him a look. "Because you're ambulatory."
Trevor nodded, commiserating. "You were Allison's roommate for awhile, right?"
"Yeah. Back in college..."
Trevor blinked, thinking. "Tell me... How'd you deal with the whole nudity thing..."
Champ didn't understand. "The what?"
Trevor looked at him, as if it were obvious. "You know... Allison. Walking around the apartment naked all the time."
Champ coughed, surprised. "She what?"
Trevor looked confused. "You know... Naked.... Does that with all her roommates..."
Champ smiled at the sincerity in Trevor's question. "Hate to tell you Trevor, but she never did that with me. Or any of her other roommates. Far as I know she's never done that...."
"Oh..." Trevor cleared his throat, flashing an embarrassed smile when he realized that Champ didn't know what he was talking about. "Oh, then... you know... just thought I'd ask... just in case.... You know, if she ever decided to start, or... or something...."
Champ smiled at what was going on, amused. "Right. Just in case..."
Trevor coughed nervously, changing the subject. "Ok... I've been doing some research on that vast wasteland Claire calls a love life..."
He spread out his notes a little more, displaying them. The room was still noisy all around. Champ stepped closer, looking down.
"What's this for?" he asked.
Trevor gazed thoughtfully at all he had done. "Just a love god being a Snoop, that all. I've been looking into Claire's old boyfriends, talking to her relatives, listening to rumors and lies, anything I can find to help me track down this guy she's pining for. And this is my romantic analysis... I'm trying to get inside Claire here..." He blinked at what he had just said. "Which isn't nearly as much fun as it sounds..."
"Old boyfriends? What for?"
"This is why Claire's been so bummed lately. The answer's right here somewhere. I just got to find it. Claire's love sick, and they call me Dr. Love. So I've been looking for all of Claire's old bedmates. You know. Could have been's, should have been's, never been's... that sort of thing..."
Champ blinked as he looked down at all the effort Trevor had made. "You're doing all this to hook Claire up... with somebody else?"
Trevor shook his head. "Not hook, rehook. Claire's already got the guy. I just gotta find him again. Reel him back in for her. One of my beads has gone bad here, and I need to fix it. And on the off chance it's not a match I set up, I can get credit for picking up the spare, so I get a new bead either way. Her heart is already set on someone. It's my job to put the rest of her there too.."
Champ chuckled to himself, before looking at him. "Maybe you're looking in the wrong place..."
"Maybe... But I'm narrowing it down. Here's a list of some of our good doctor's most recent headboard bumpers. There was this one pilot guy she was hot and heavy with. Claire almost made me proud for a second, the stories I've heard about those two together. But he's dead. So I REALLY hope it's not him, because that could be problematic. Then there's this other guy, Alex De-- something or other. Won a pulitzer. Sort of gorgeous, smart. Hoity toity writer guy. Really up Claire's alley. Reeaally don't like him for some reason. Add to that, he's in New York and I am on a bartender's budget here, so... NEXT!!! Then there's this guy here, Claire's strong hands carpenter, Frank. But he's gone, couldn't find a trace of him at all. Must have left town. And there's our local psycho psychologist, Richard Dehnt. He seems like a colon full of laughs... Puts the SS in asshole. I actually remember him a little, he treated me for awhile I think. Let me just say, thank the string sisters that fate has Claire's treating me now. At least she's subtle. From what little I remember of Dehnt boy here, he never met a bludgeon he didn't like..."
Champ shook his head. "Trevor, you're heart may be in the right place, but I don't think Claire would be to thrilled with you poking around in her-"
"Hey, it's for her own good, man. I'm going to help Claire whether she likes it or not."
The bell on the door rang, and Champ looked over Trevor's shoulder when it opened. His expression faded, backing away. "Then may I suggest you try Duck and Cover next, Trevor?"
Suddenly a woman's voice erupted behind him. "What the hell have you been doing, Trevor!"
Trevor turned around to see Claire standing there, glaring at him. Champ walked off as Trevor tried to calm her.
"And people say city girls don't know how to say hello politely..." he said sarcastically.
"Do they say city girls know how to punch a guy in the face?" Her lips were a hard, angry line. "Trevor, I've got a bone to pick with you."
"Really? Do you take requests?"
She stepped closer to him, her face angry as she glared at him. "Exactly why have you been calling everyone I know?"
He ignored her. "Good to see you too, Claire. Yes... I'm fine. Thanks for asking. How's your day been? You really look great today, is that a new lipstick or is just-"
"Just answer the question Trevor!"
He smiled. "Still the conversationalist... Another example of that winning therapeutic style that brings patients back again and again for years of unending relationship failure..."
She was livid. "Trevor, you've been calling all my friends from school. You've been calling my sisters. My book editor. My publisher! Oh and by the way. They're thrilled with the apparent sex book they somehow think I'm currently working on..."
Trevor smiled, caught. He scratched his head sheepishly. "Yeah about that... I told them you'd be posing for the illustrations yourself. Six figure deals were being bandied about towards the end there ..."
"Apparently SOMEONE forgot to take all those pretty little pills..." she said scornfully. "I wonder how much confidence my publisher would have had during your little 'negotiation' if they knew it was coming from a man who's highest accomplishment is turning every Rorschach test he's seen into a peep show..."
Trevor blinked. "Look who woke up on the wrong side of bitchy this morning... Admit it, Claire. The chick in those ink blots was hot and you know it--"
"Trevor it's getting harder day by day to remember why I'm supposed to WANT to help you..."
His voice was sincere, honest. "But you can help me Claire..."
She looked at him skeptically. "Right. With what?"
"I think I've developed a slight case of athanasia..."
"Ha ha.." She answered dryly. "Nothing like an outpatient's rantings to really put a girl's day in perspective..." Claire exhaled tiredly, moving past him and going to the bar counter for what she had came for. "Lunch order for Claire Allen?" she asked an employee who went off to get it.
Trevor was still thinking about her last insult as he walked up beside her, as if trying to figure it out. "Wait, 'outpatient rantings'... but when you say it, you make mental illness sound like a BAD thing..."
"Trevor, can't you just tell me this whole Cupid thing is some embarrassing phase you'll eventually mature out of? Like say... I don't know. Puberty?"
He spread his arms. "Does this look like a boy body to you? One hundred per cent God Baby! Although I do have it on good authority that I actually have the softest little-"
"You know what people say, Trevor. We never really get over our childhood..."
"Tell me about it. I still have bumps on my head from flying into the roof of the Parthenon as a kid..."
"Parthenon doesn't have a roof, Trevor."
"Well... Doesn't now..." he explained.
She glared at him in disbelief, perplexed. "What color are the skies in your world? No, I'd seriously like to know, because several fantasy worlds are looking to relocate."
"Claire, I called everyone I could find to help you. I'm offering you my expertise here..."
She wasn't impressed. "Yeah, but it's the kind that observant people usually just step over."
"And what do you have to show, Claire? The closest relationship your body's had lately is that vaguely arousing firmness of the proximity of your desk."
The bar manager finally came back with Claire's lunch order, giving it to her. "Here you go, Claire."
"Thank you Linda..."
Having heard enough, Claire tried to leave. Trevor stopped her, stepping around. "Claire, you're a renowned relationship expert with love problems. I've got the cure! How can you expect the god of love to sit out this one? It's like my Super Bowl! I'm going to find this guy you're in love with and-"
Her jaw hardened, staring him down. "Trevor, The one thing I'm certain of... is that you'll NEVER find him...."
"Well, if you look at my preliminary work over here at the bar-"
Trevor took her shoulders and started guiding her that way. Claire didn't know how to argue anymore, her strength drained by his stubbornness. In a daze, wondering when the nightmare would end, she muttered to herself. "Photography... I could have decided to take pictures... Photograph people, do my thing... Nobody talks... I'm not constantly being dunked into delusional schemes... And if there's a problem, I get to shoot things..." she said wearily to herself.
Trevor wasn't listening to her. "Ok. See. if you follow the overall diagram, you'll see some of the people I've already crossed out around the thong section of the diagram here. There was this one guy over here, but he was sort of creepy. Didn't seem to like my little naked sketch of you at all. You know, come to think of it, maybe he was gay? He did seem to touch my arm a lot, and-"
Claire was still babbling to herself. "Flat.... Two dimensional... Quiet.... Sane..."
Trevor looked at her. "This would all be tons easier if you just told me who he is. Not that I mind making all those phone calls, because as a fetishist once told me, there's real value in footwork-"
The mention of phone calls broke into Claire's consciousness and she turned to face him, her voice louder. "And how did you manage to steal my rolodex, Trevor?"
He smiled. "You'd be surprised what I can fit down my pants.... Wait, that doesn't sound as good as I thought..."
"Actually it makes sense. Always knew there was space down there. Trevor, I'm leaving..."
He blocked her again. "Claire you can't stop love when it gets a head of steam-"
She looked at his scull. "Is THAT what's making it bigger. I thought it was your ego was swallowing your head. And your mind, your reasoning, your sanity, so on... Trevor, I don't need your help."
"Yes you do! I've stared into that deep dark abyss of your sex life and the microscope started digging into my eye! You need to fall in love again Claire! There's got to be more to your love life than setting your beeper on vibrate and calling yourself all the time!"
She fell into a daze again, looking away. "It never ends. Over and over again. What did I do to deserve this..." She looked at him. "Do you have something against me Trevor?"
"No, and my body hates me for it."
"Then why? Why why why why! Is it because you LIKE making a fool out of me?"
He thought about it, suddenly smiling. "Ahh. My happy place..."
Claire stared blankly ahead again. "It's like I'm being punished..."
"I prefer to call it an overzealous physical proficiency, but with you I'll be gentle, I promise..." He grazed his finger up her arm but she batted it away, growing angrier.
Claire stepped quickly around him and started to leave again. Trevor walked beside her, trying to get her to go back. "Aren't you even going to look at my research? Try to spot all of your favorite psychosis's. Come on, it'll be fun..."
"Stop digging into my love life, Trevor..." she warned.
"More like sweeping into. There just wasn't very much depth there. And most of it was dirt anyway. If you didn't want to see my research, why did you come in here?"
She gave him a long incredulous glare, finally holding up her lunch bag in his face. "Noon? Eating? Any of this sinking through? I just came to pick up my lunch..." She started to leave again.
"The may I suggest the football player in the corner. Have you seen the shoe size on Mister muscles over there?"
Her shoulders stiffened, coming to a stop. Slowly she turned around, trying to stay calm. "I'm only going to say this once, Trevor. Stop calling my friends. Stop harassing my colleges. Stop stalking everybody I know or have ever met and acting like a lunatic. Stop trying to 'get me some', ok? Why are you doing this?"
"To, to prove I'm NOT insane?" He offered weakly.
"Oh..." She blinked. "Rousing start... If that's all it is, let's clear that up right now, shall we?"
She searched quickly through her purse, finding a notepad and scribbling something on it, before she tore a sheet off. She slapped the post-it note onto Trevor's chest. "There Trevor. It says 'NOT CRAZY'. Happy now? Wear that around for awhile. Go ahead. Maybe people will even start to believe it. Until you start talking at least..."
"Hey, I'm offering you my skills in the science of the heart."
"Science? More like Frankenstein's monster..."
"Hey... he just wanted to be loved."
"Trevor, how can someone who claims to be omnipotent be so stupid when it comes to what I actually want?"
"It's a gift... You need this, Claire. Maybe I need this too. So I can show you who I really am. Why are you so scared"
She turned. "What?"
"You're scared. I'm treading into your private, personal little relationship expert territory and you're scared. Why? Afraid I'll be better at it than you?"
Her expression fumed. "Better relationship expert? No...Making up pretty little balloon animals in your mind? Well, you may have me on that one...'
"Until I find your balloon man. You'll see, Claire..."
She walked past him. "You are so far gone, Trevor... And I am so really leaving."
Staying where he was, he called out after her as she walked away. "Hey, Amarie omnia vincent!"
She glared back. "Are you still talking. Hmm. Now I know why that call it the windy city..."
He tried to shake that off, motioning amicably towards her. "Sure... You say that now... but you'll see. Someday. You'll think just like I do..."
Slowly, Claire turned around, stunned. "Wow... I think my skin just tried to leave my body..."
Trevor watched her leave, seeing her exit through the front door. His smile fell from her insults and her lack of enthusiasm for what he was trying to do for her. Trevor walked over to Champ at the bar, who had watched everything with an amused glint in his eye.
Trevor still looked back the way Claire had gone, his face serious, her insults still in his ears. Thinking about her he finally exhaled, speaking softly to himself.
"Could someone tell me why I'm in love with her..?"
Champ looked over at Trevor's soft admission, surprised. He chuckled at what Trevor had said, turning away.
"Took you long enough..."
Trevor didn't hear him, still watching the way Claire had gone.
Claire walked back to her office down the sidewalk. The sky above had grown overcast and gray. She was carrying her lunch and trying to forget about what Trevor had said. What he had been on to. She knew what he was trying to do and what he was trying to find out. She was upset, upset that Trevor was meddling instead of just letting her mope and be gloomy in peace. He was poking his nose into business she desperately didn't want him knowing about. How did he get his mind so set on this? And what could she do to change that... As her mind worked, no answer came to her. Still walking, she tried to push her anger down, hoping to clear her head.
Suddenly she heard the sound of someone coming up fast behind her. When she turned to look, Trevor had already fallen into step beside her, keeping pace.
He looked over at her as she pretended to ignore him. "Want to talk about it?" he asked.
Her voice was low and dangerous. "Trevor you really don't want to talk with me right now..."
"Why are you so upset? What really happened back there?"
She shook her head. "Only the painfully usual, Trevor..... Me just wanting a happy, normal life, and you just wanting to bully in like you always do with another insane scheme. Until I'm left... until I'm left cleaning up the mess you leave behind..." Her voice was almost sad.
His expression thoughtful, he looked at her as they walked side by side. "Possibly... Or maybe it's because I'm on to something. You're acting pretty defensive, Claire."
"The hell if I'm acting defensive!!!"
"All I'm doing is a little digging to find this guy, and you keep trying to steer me away. Who is he? Why does he have you worked up so much?"
She glared at him. "Oh I don't know... Maybe it's because it's absolutely none of your business?"
Cars whisked by them on the street as they walked down the sidewalk, bathed in a gray diffuse light from clouds rolling in under an overcast sky. The air was cool and Trevor shivered, or perhaps it was from the shoulder Claire was giving him.
"Tell me about him, Claire..."
"Trevor, can we just agree on the fact that we're not having this conversation?"
He looked straight ahead as they walked. "You might as well tell me, Claire. You know I'll find him eventually...."
Claire stopped and faced him. "You'll never find him, Trevor. Here's a news flash. Not everything in life ties itself up in a pretty little happy ending ribbon. In fact, most things in life don't. Life's not some fantasy play ground for your delusional validation. Or a misguided quest to slid over another worthless bead..."
His eyes narrowed. "You think I'm doing this for some bead? I'm doing this for you, Claire! I'm not even sure I want to go home any more. Not after they've left me alone here and-"
She broke in angrily. "What do you know about being left behind!"
Confused, he looked at her. "I'm doing this because I care about you. I want you to be happy..."
"If that were true, you would have stopped this a long time ago, Trevor. Do I look happy to you?"
He swallowed. "You look heartbroken. But whatever problems you and this guy are facing Claire, I'm sure I can help work around them until-"
She breathed out in exasperation. "You just don't get it, do you? You want to know about him? You really want to know? I'll tell you this... This man, this person that your looking for. He's someone I CAN'T be in love with. Someone I can't allow myself to love... Not now. Not ever. A man who it's impossible for me to love. For his sake, and for my own. Let me see you work around that, Trevor..."
"You can't fine control love that way, Claire! No one can. Not even me. Why do you think the gods sent me down here... You can't just turn off what you feel. What I really think is going on here is that you really don't want me to succeed. Because you think I'm crazy and you prefer to think of me that way. Because that puts you in the position of power where you don't have to accept that maybe I'm right. That maybe for once this delusional god can help you..."
"Trevor, stop it, ok?" Claire started walking away.
"Tell me about him, Claire." He kept pace with her.
"Trevor, I'm not going to tell you any-"
"Is he tall? Short? What's his name?"
He kept pestering her. "What does he look like? What does he do?"
"You worked with him, didn't you?"
Claire seemed shaken, surprised at that insight from him, as she still walked. "Trevor, just listen to me-"
"I'm going to find him, Claire. Today, tomorrow. Week after-"
"Trevor, could you just for once-"
"I promise. I'm not stopping. Not until I know. Where does he live, Claire? What makes him different, what makes him unique? What does he have that I don't?" Trevor blinked, angry for a moment that he had let that slip out.
Claire sighed, her eyes moist as Trevor continued his barrage, unable to answer, unable to fight back anymore.
he pressed on. "Why does he have such a hold over-"
Claire whirled around to face him, in tears, her voice loud and resentful. "He's you! He's you, Trevor!"
Trevor was speechless.
There was a long silence on the sidewalk. They stood facing each other, Trevor's face full of shock.
Claire's eyes glittered. "The man you're looking for? The man I can't love? The man I have no future with? It's you, Trevor. he's what's hurting my heart. And you can't 'fix' that..."
She gave him one last pained look, and without another word she walked away, lowering her head as she wiped her eyes. Trevor was still paralyzed, standing there speechless at what she had just said.
Suddenly there was an approaching hiss, and a heavy rain started to fall, pouring thickly out of the gray sky. Before Trevor was aware of it, he was soaked completely, drenched in the deluge of rain water. People on the sidewalk all around him dashed for cover as he stood there, looking for drier places. But he stayed where he was, not moving. Everything seemed still and increasingly distant around him, flooded.
He looked the way Claire had gone, water dripping down his face and off his chin. She was still in sight, walking away, but she wasn't making any attempt to get out of the rain either. Trevor blinked at the water in his eyes. Suddenly it was all so clear. It was like a revelation at last.
"I remember now... I remember it all..."
Overhead, thunder rumbled. Rivulets of water flowed to the curb under the pelting barrage of more rain falling. Trevor's clothes were soaked, as he stood there, alone in the downpour.