Ward, CO (Alex)

June 21st, 2011. It had taken me forteen years to get a location out of him. And
somehow I knew that was a temporary location. He had the speech of someone who
had lived in New York City a long time. He spoke fast, his accent was clearly
from that region. I hadn’t gone back to New York since Kate passed. But I
remembered the sound of their voices, the way they spoke. And I never ran into
him there.

He always sounded so playful with his voice. His thoughts were always
depressing. And the day he spent alone on his birthday made me cringe. I don’t
know why. I spent my birthdays alone, or drinking a good whiskey at a bar
picking up a new mark. My days never really ever changed even for the day I was
born. Not anymore anyway.

That dream was worse than most. The pathetic voice in his head didn’t match the
words coming out of his mouth. He was such a dichotomy I never knew which way to
fly with him. He’s surprised me when he held absolutely still after having been
told to do so. It was torturous feeling the strain of his body without being
able to actually see it. I wondered how much of his true self he showed me. Was
it the image he held of himself, all ripped with long lean muscle, or was he
some fat slob who only thought he was god’s gift to man.

I knew from his thoughts he worked hard to get his body. I knew a lot from his
thoughts, but there was so much I’d never know. I didn’t know his name. For
every once that I tried to get it I couldn’t. He kept it under lock and key,
never giving it out. Even when he was playing memories in his head. Never his
name. I couldn’t even read their lips, it’s like he knew I was looking for it.

But when I had demanded his location I never expected him to give it up. What if
I’d asked for his name? Would he give it to me if i asked? His thoughts were
only different about the way he felt. He hid behind a mask – didn’t we all. But
his mask was well practiced. He knew how to hide in plain sight. I imagined him
playing the class clown and hurting inside because he felt so alone even while
he was surrounded by people who were enjoying his show. I don’t know what caused
the pain. But I finally had a place. Somewhere to start.

What little good it did me. I’d flown to Boulder. I’d been born here, my mother
had grown up nearby. My father grew up in the mountains too. Kish lived up in
the mountain areas outside too. I knew the area. Knew the small town of Ward was
just a small town. But a community outside of it?

But I’d ask around. I didn’t expect to find him, even in a small town when the
only thing I had to go on were the color of his eyes and the sound of his voice
it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Best place to start was the local store – everyone shopped right? It was small.
The girl at the counter smiled at me, “Good afternoon.” She said then looked
back down at the magazine she was reading.

I put on my best charming smile and walked up to pulling out my wallet so I
could buy something behind the counter. “Can I get a map?”

“Sure thing darlin. Anything else?” she drawled as she set the map on the
counter.

“Maybe you could help me out. I’m looking for a friend. He’s my height, brown
eyes, speaks kinda fast with a accent you’d hear on CSI:NY.”

“Yeah there’s a kid like that up at the old ranger station. But he and the
ranger left for Cali early this morning. Some big wild fire they are going to
help out with them animals looking for new homes I think she said.”

“When will they be back?” I didn’t like the idea that he was with someone.
Someone a woman someone. All sorts of green vibes radiated through my thoughts.
Why he invoked such strange thing I’ll never know and there was no way I was
telling Kish about the boy in my dream who was… fuck if I knew what he was.

“I expect when the fires taken care of, but you never know. The ranger goes for
months on end sometimes. Always busy.”

I handed the lady a twenty, “Keep the change.” I gave her a sweet smile, “For
your help.”

She took the bill and stuck it in the drawer, she didn’t even pull out the
change and pocket it. The thought never even crossed her mind.

Fuck. I could come back. I could stay. I didn’t get a chance to make a decision
when my phone rang. It was an unknown number, but it hung up before I could
answer it. Then a text came in from the same number. There was a place and a
time which was too far away to linger here anymore. So my personal life was once
again preempted by Poet. He always had good jobs and even better money, but his
come now thing was getting tiresome. I wasn’t his puppet. But Poet paid well and
the jobs were always fun, best not piss off one of my best clients. I sighed as
I got back in my rental and headed for the airport again. My Pretty Boy was just
going to have to wait – again.

But I wasn’t going to get a flight out tonight, so I settled in at my favorite
lodge. I’d spent a lot of time there, my mom taking me here when we came to
visit Kish. I’d been seven the first time I’d met the native american woman tho
she was just a teenager then. Her father had been my mentor at first. Kish stood
by his side for each lesson – learning to be a dream walker had been different
than actually being a dream walker. Kish was learning how true dream walkers
worked and when her father passed silently in the night, she took over my
training. I still visited, and had every intention of doing so this time around,
but Poet called. So I came.

I always stayed in the same room. I had a small stash inside one of the floor
boards under the bed. It really was nothing, Mom had used it to stash things in
that we’d jacked from a mark until it was time to sell. I’d used it as a kid to
stash my valuables. There was an old empty lighter with cowyboy boots and a gun
etched in it I’d found along the way once. I fingered it idly while I looked at
the rest of it. Mostly junk. A bottle cap from my first stolen drink. A the
bottle cap from the first legal drink – just to say hey I had done it. It was
meant to be ironic.

I had a few mementos from marks in the small box I kept under the floor boards.
Items they’d given me while they courted my desires until I ripped away what was
theirs for my own good – and theirs too. teach them a lesson sort of. There was
a shard of twisted metal in the box too – a remnant from the car my mother had
died in.

Before I closed the box I removed the watch from my wrist that my last mark had
given me. The leather was a tad worn and the black face completely numberless,
but it had been a nice temporary replacement for my normal time piece. My
tardiness was rewarded with the watch, one of the few tricks I utilized to see
how much I could get away with. I laid the piece in the box then put it back
where I found it.

The watch Kate had given me sat in my luggage in a hidden compartment. I’m sure
the TSA loved that, but it was still there when I landed. It was the most
expensive watch I’d ever earned. Kate had given it to me in her will. I didn’t
wear it around marks, I didn’t want to tell the story or have them turn the tide
and steal it in spite or whatever.

The cold metal band against my skin was a stark contrast for the leather that it
just replaced. But it felt like home on my wrist. Maybe I’d dream of my pretty
boy tonight – maybe not.

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