Chapter 9: Where Do We Go From Here?
I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. How could she not see him? He was sitting right there in front of me! There was something very wrong with this picture.
“Taylor, I-- this is messed up. Is this some sort of elaborate joke you two have planned, or am I just going crazy, or what?”
He pulled me up by my arm and for a fleeting moment I thought he might kiss me again. Yeah, I sorta overreacted last time, I suppose. It wasn’t like I even disliked it...but it had caught me completely off guard, and my feminist girl-power instincts had automatically kicked in.
But he didn’t kiss me, simply led me over to the mirror.
“Look at us. Look in the mirror. What do you see?”
I turned my eyes to meet the glass and they promptly fell out of their sockets. Well, not really, but they might as well have. He wasn’t there. I mean, he was, because he was standing beside me and I could feel his hand digging into my arm, but he wasn’t reflected in the mirror. It was like a scene in one of those weird scary movies...this was getting creepier by the moment. I jerked my arm from his hand and backed slowly away from him, towards my dresser.
“Oh my God...” I gasped. He acknowledged my surprise.
“I know, I know. It scared the shit out of me the first time-- what are you doing?”
“Me? Oh, nothing, really, nothing at all.” I had backed up all the way to the dresser, and was frantically reaching into my top dresser drawer, digging around. Come on, I know you’re in here somewhere.
He started walking towards me. “You think I’m going to believe that?”
Suddenly my hand clasped around the object I had been looking for and I held it up in front of me, like a shield. It was a cross, a silver one, on a matching silver chain. “Stay away from me!”
He stopped in his tracks. “What the hell?”
“It makes sense-- the mirror, your teeth, Louise’s inability to see you... you‘re a vampire. Stay away from me, you blood-sucking fiend.”
His eyes rolled skyward and he raised his hands in a Why me? position. “You know that thing you said earlier about going crazy? I think you were right on the mark. And what is wrong with my teeth?!!?!”
I pointed my cross at him. “Well if you’re not, then how else do you explain those events?”
“I don’t know! But I’m not a freakin’ vampire, woman. First off, I can’t believe you think there are such things as vampires. Also, there’s this--” he reached down the collar of his shirt and pulled out a necklace with a cross on it similar to mine. “Thirdly, if I was a quote, ‘blood-sucking fiend’, I would be sleeping right now, since it’s daylight, and lastly, WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY TEETH?!”
I felt my face heat up as I dropped the necklace back into the drawer. “Nothing, really,” I coughed, trying to cover up my laughter.
“It’s just that they’re... well, they’re a little pointy.”
“Everyone’s teeth are pointy! How else do you think people chew? Geez!”
“Yeah, I guess....” The craziness of the situation finally got to me. I felt the laughter abruptly rise up into my throat and I didn’t bother holding it back. I bent over at the waist, slapping my knees, my tangled hair covering up my reddened face. When I straightened back up, with tears in my eyes, Taylor was standing in the same spot, with his arms crossed.
“Are you done now?”
I gave one last giggle and wiped the tears from my cheeks. “Yeah, I’m OK now.”
I walked back over and sat on the bed. He followed. Regaining my composure, I faced him and began to speak.
“OK.... I’ll be serious now. I’m ready to listen. What’s going on?”
Taylor cocked his head and smiled sadly at me.
“I wish I knew,” he said softly. “But I’ll try to explain.”
I nodded slowly in assent. “Go on.”
He began. “OK. Before I ended up here, I was back home trying to figure this out. You see, I woke up one morning, and my family couldn’t see me, just like your friend Louise couldn’t see me. I mean, I would be right there in front of their faces, yelling, jumping around, but it was as if I wasn’t even there. And they would talk about me in the third person....Like, one time my little sisters were talking, and one of them said ‘I miss Taylor, I wish he was still here.’ And my parents would ask my brothers if they wanted to go visit me! But I would be right there the whole time. So I left my house, and tried to talk to my friends. The same thing happened there.”
I gazed at him, my mind trying to process what he’d just told me. Was he making this up? I didn’t think so. He was way too serious. Plus, I had seen the proof of his story when Louise was here.
“OK.... well... it sounds like you’re...well, like you’re a ghost, Taylor,” I whispered. “I mean, ‘I wish he was still here’ and ‘We should go visit him’? That’s spooky. Do you remember anything before you woke up that morning?”
He paled at my remarks. “I’ve thought of that.... and I’m not sure whether that’s the case or not. I can remember everything about my life, though. But the last thing I remember is going rock climbing with my friends. I don’t remember getting home afterward, or getting in bed, nothing after that.”
“Wow,” I said softly. “Maybe something happened there.” He nodded grimly.
“Do you remember hearing anything in the news about me? On MTV or anything?”
I shook my head regretfully. “Sorry Taylor, but I never watch MTV...it sucks. And as for the news thing... No, I don’t remember, but that doesn’t mean there never was anything. I’ll be honest, as you’ve probably noticed, you all aren’t exactly my favorite band, so if I had heard something about Hanson, I would have more than likely not paid attention and/or remembered.”
“Well, you certainly remembered that little pissing incident, now didn’t you?”
I cackled a little at that statement. “Well, that one was just too good to forget.”
He smiled at me, showing his straight white (pointy) teeth. He has a really nice smile, I thought. I snapped back to attention when he began talking again.
“Now, let’s go over the facts. I’m here, and you are the only one who can hear and see me. Not Louise, not my friends back home, not even my family. I think I know why you are the one that can see me....I remember lying in my bed one night, scared and confused because it was as if I didn’t even exist anymore. I prayed that night, before I fell asleep,” he paused for breath, “I prayed that I would find someone, someone who I knew, that could see me, that could help me. When I woke up, which was apparently late last night, I was downstairs, lying on your couch. I saw your roommate first-- and tried to communicate with her, to no avail. So then I went to your room to wait for you to wake up.”
“But Taylor..... I don’t know you... I‘ve only seen you on TV and in magazines. Not that I buy teenybopper magazines or anything, but you can’t help but notice them when you’re at the grocery.”
The corners of his mouth curved slightly and he ignored my last comment. “We’ve met before, Alley Kat.”
“Again, how did you--”
I drew in my breath sharply. “What about November 1996?” I asked harshly. It was a time which I would rather forget. November 24, 1996, a mere three days after Thanksgiving, is written down in history as the worst day of my life. The day my father, the man who had taken care of me by himself since the day I was born, died in a car accident. He was hit head-on by a man who was severely intoxicated.
“Think really hard about it.”
The memory of the accident was banging on the door, demanding to be let back in to my thoughts. I closed my eyes tightly.
“I’d really prefer to not think about it, Taylor....”
“Why? Come on, now!”
I opened my eyes and stared him directly in the eye. “Perhaps it’s because I don’t really enjoy reliving my father’s death all over again, Taylor. Please don’t tell me you came all the way from Nebraska, or wherever the hell you’re from, to get me to rehash bad memories.”
“Your father’s--” he stopped suddenly and gave me a sympathetic look. He reached out and gently touched my hand. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“Then what in the world are you talking about?”
“Before he died, Allison, do you remember anything unusual happening? Like.... oh, I don’t know, saving someone’s life, perhaps?”
I lowered my head and blew my breath out, causing the stray hairs around my face to billow up. Think, Allison, Think. I usually have an great memory, but it seemed that I couldn’t get past my father’s memory to search for others that happened previously. I sat in silence, concentrating, for several minutes. Suddenly, a flash, a little piece of recollection, floated above the rest.
“A fight,” I said slowly, “or maybe just an attack. There were these guys, a bunch of them, standing around....” Taylor nodded at me, urging me to continue.
“There was this boy,” I said excitedly, as more details came to me. “They were beating the shit out of him, and I saw them, and Daddy and I stopped them. We took that boy home because I was scared those guys might come back after him.”
“What was that boy’s name, Allison?”
“His name,” I murmured. “His name was--” I looked up at him, finally getting it. “His name was Taylor.”
He nodded and patted my knee. “Very good, Alley Kat.”
I smiled at him sheepishly. “Well, that explains how you knew my nickname. Daddy hardly ever called me by any other name. But I can’t believe you remembered it.”
“I didn’t, really. I didn’t realize who you were until I looked in your yearbook last night,” he laughed. “I saw a message in the back written to ‘Alley Kat’ and the pieces just kind of fell together.”
We grinned at each other goofily. I felt a little better, actually. So he wasn’t a total stranger. But I thought back to what he had said previously. So he’d just woken up here? That didn’t make sense. I mean, how the hell did he get to Kentucky, to our town, in our house? And how did he get like this, how did he suddenly become invisible to everyone? There were so many unanswered questions. I was definitely not used to dealing with supernatural things, unless you counted my Santana album.
“So,” I interrupted our silence. “Where do we go from here?”