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Authors: James L. Rubart

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BOOK: The Five Times I Met Myself
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On one side: a cluster of what looked like college students, a few couples, and some solo acts. The opposite side: three people hunched over their Mac laptops, and a large group of midforty-somethings laughed and pointed at each other in rapid-fire succession. What Java Spot put in its drinks was obviously the right concoction, which made Brock smile again, because he’d developed those concoctions being consumed in all fifteen of Morgan’s locations as well as the rest of the country and overseas.

Brock took one more glance around the coffee shop, then strolled behind the counter and said, “Not a bad crowd for a Monday night.”

“You can’t come back here.”

“Deal with it.”

“Nope. Employees only. Get out. Now.”

Morgan Myers lugged his sizable girth toward Brock and grinned. When he reached Brock, Morgan grabbed him by both shoulders and shook him like he was a stuffed animal. Yeah, maybe Morgan had put on more than a few pounds since their college days, but even after thirty-one years, he hadn’t lost any of his linebacker strength.

“Amazing,” Morgan said. “You actually have the hint of a tan to go with your slightly graying mane. A vacation you call work—but at least you got some sun.”

“It was work.”

“Uh-huh. A week in Costa Rica sipping coffee and checking
out beans. Brutal. How did you survive? What, you were probably slaving away three, maybe four hours a day before you hit the beach?”

“Four and a half.” Brock grinned at his friend.

“When did you get back?”

“Five days ago.” Brock lowered his voice. “That’s when they started.”

“When what started?”

“When you get a moment, I need to talk.”

“The doctor is in.” Morgan tapped his chest.

“A degree in psychology you never used makes you a doctor?”

“I use it every day.” Morgan waved his paw of a hand at the crowd. “Spill it. Problems with Karissa? Tyson? Work?”

“A dream. More like a nightmare.”

Morgan beckoned with his finger and led Brock to the back room and into the office. After they settled into the small space, Morgan beckoned again with both hands. “Let’s go. Tell me about dem cah-razy dreams.”

“Strange dreams, not necessarily crazy.” Brock glanced at Morgan’s office door to make sure it was shut.

“You said nightmare.”

“Not exactly. I’m not sure how to describe it—I’d almost call it spiritual but not in an uplifting way.”

“Like a God dream?” Morgan’s eyes were expectant.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean God dreams, where you know he’s trying to tell you something.” Morgan leaned forward and opened his hands. “Where he’s talking to you through the dream, warning you, or letting you know something is coming, something to get ready for.”

“God does that?”

“Um, yeah.”

“It’s not like that, I don’t think. It’s more . . . You ever have one of those dreams that’s so real you can’t tell if it’s a dream or not, and when you wake up, you know intellectually it had to have been a dream, but you’re still not one hundred percent sure?”

“Yes.” Morgan’s voice grew softer and he repeated his earlier request. “Tell me about the dream. In detail. And why it’s freaking you out so much.”

“My dad is in it.”

“Oh boy, here we go.”

“The dream isn’t just a dream.” Brock leaned back and focused on the ceiling of Morgan’s office. “Yes, it’s a dream, but Morg, I know it was more. My dad is young, early thirties I’m guessing, in the days before his nervous breakdown. The days before he started hating me.”

“He didn’t hate you.”

Brock ignored the comment. “The light in his eyes is like fire. And he wears a jet-black fedora straight out of the fifties—so now I finally realize where the name of the company came from. He never wore a hat like that in life, and yet it was more him than anything I ever saw him wear.” Brock glanced at Morgan. “You get that?”

Morgan nodded.

Brock paused. “You know how most dreams have elements of fantasy in them? Things that couldn’t happen in real life? This wasn’t like that. Everything was as it should be. And it would take the push of a feather to convince me it really happened. That I was truly there. It was more real than real life.”

“Go on.”

The memory of the dream engulfed Brock and he lived it again, for the millionth time.

Brock,” his dad rumbled as they sat next to each other in Brock’s boy
hood backyard on a summer evening, both of them facing west, the sun starting to set.

“Yeah?” He gazed at the Douglas fir tree in the northwest corner. The tree he’d climb to the top when he was nine and ten and eleven and twelve to get away from his father.

“You need to listen to me.” His dad held a small rectangular box wrapped in brown paper, which he tapped on the armrest of his chair. He pointed to the box and raised his eyebrows. “You see this? It’s important.”

“What is it?”

“Pay attention.”

“I am.” He turned to face his dad.

“No, not listening with one ear out the door like you always did.” Dad beckoned with his finger right next to his ruddy cheek. “Right here. In my eyes. That kind of listening.”

“Okay.” The air warmed and his father’s eyes grew more intense. Brock had the urge to bolt from his chair, but his body wouldn’t move. “I’m really listening.”

“Good. You need to. Yeah, you really, truly need to.” He turned the box over in his hands. “You have to make peace with Ron. Have to.”

“Peace with Ron? Yeah, sure, Dad. Peace with a brother who’s a year and a half younger but acts like he’s three years older? One with a life mission to beat me in everything he does?”

“Same mission as yours.”

“I’m not as bad as—”

“He’s your brother.”

“No, he’s my business partner.” Brock clutched his chair’s armrests
as anger rose inside. “And you gave him fifty-one percent of the company, which he lords over me every moment.”

His dad turned away and gazed out over the darkening horizon. Once again he tapped the rectangular box in a slow rhythm on the armrest.

“It’s coming, Brock, turning toward you just like the rotation of the earth. You can’t stop it. It won’t be easy. Definitely not easy. But good. You probably won’t believe me, but it’s good.”

“What’s coming, Dad?”

“Embrace it, Brock, even though it will be difficult. Face the truth, though it will be painful, for the truth will set you free.” His dad leaned over and smacked his palm into Brock’s chest so hard he caught his breath. “You need to get ready.”

Brock pulled back. “Why’d you—”

“If you don’t, it’s going to bury you. If you don’t, I’m going to bury you. Got it?”

“What’s coming?”

His dad rose and grabbed Brock’s shirt with both hands, yanked him out of the chair, and shook him hard. “Get ready!”

“For what?”

“Get ready!”

Louder this time.

“Tell me what’s coming, Dad!”

Brock’s dad pulled his face so close their noses touched and his voice dropped to a whisper. “For—”

But each time the words left his dad’s mouth, the colors around them swirled and buried Brock, and he woke, breathing hard.

Brock stared at Morgan and whispered to his friend, “I have to get control of that dream. Get rid of it. My dad scares the snot out of me every time, and I’m tired of it.”

“What’s coming, Brock?”

“I don’t know. I wake up every time before he tells me.”

“You’ve had the dream more than once?”

“Five times in the past five days.”

“Wow, someone wants to get your attention.” Morgan leaned back and put his hands behind his head.

“This is God’s way of saying hello?”

“What does Karissa say about it?”

“I haven’t told her.”

“Why not?”

Brock closed his eyes and let his head fall back onto his chair. “I don’t want to get into it right now.”

“Why not?”

“Morg?” Brock cocked his head and opened his eyes. “Give me a break.”

“No worries.” Morgan held his hands up. “What did you see and feel in the dream? Not with your mind, with your spirit.”

Interesting question. On the surface there was nothing more than what he’d told Morgan. But underneath, there were layers he couldn’t put into words.

“Like I couldn’t stop whatever my dad says is coming, and yet I have to try.”

“What else?”

“It’s as if I was higher . . . I don’t know how to describe it . . . The dream was clearer than it should have been, if that makes any sense. It gave me hope and fear at the same time.”

“Yes.” Morgan smiled. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”

“I was there. I saw my dad, but not only saw him, I saw deeper. As if I was seeing the true self that was buried while he was alive. The dream was the most normal scene you can imagine. But it
felt like I was touching the past and the present and the future all at the same time. And what he told me didn’t come from me or my subconscious, it truly came from my dad. Do you understand, Morg?”

“It was like he was alive. In the present.”

“Yes.”

“But he looked young. In his thirties.”

“Yes.”

“And you’re thinking he’s talking to you from heaven.”

“No. It was just a dream.” Brock’s head lulled back. “I mean, I don’t know. It’s why I’m talking to you.” He clenched his fists. “So what he said . . . Was that a warning from God like you suggested? Or only a chemical reaction inside my head as I slept? And if it was a chemical reaction, could God have his hand on it? Maybe he orchestrated it?”

Morgan said in a sing-song voice, “ ‘The place where dreams and reality intersect, where the dream is immersed into the reality and is no longer a dream. A place where the infinite reaches us beyond the limitations of our mortal coils.’ ”

“What?”

“It’s a quote from a book I read six months back. Thought I told you about it.” Morgan twisted in his chair, stood, and scanned the bookshelves that ran across the back wall of his office. He shuffled a few feet to his left, reached for the highest shelf, pulled out a thin volume, and tossed it to Brock. “Here.”

Brock caught it and looked at the cover.
Lucid Dreaming: Turning Dreams into Reality.

“What’s this?”

“Read it. Amazing stuff in there. Keep it, don’t need it back. It’s yours.”

“What’s lucid dreaming?”

“Read it. It might help you deal with the dream. Figure out what God’s doing.”

“Do you know what my dream meant?”

“Maybe.” Morgan’s eyes narrowed. “If I’m right, you’re in for a ride.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Just a feeling. Read the book and see where God leads you.”

Brock tightened his grip on the steering wheel as he wove through the darkening streets toward home. Why were there always more questions than answers when he talked with Morgan? He supposed it was the price of friendship with a man so well read and probing.

Morgan’s intuition was rarely wrong. Which meant the coming weeks would be a roller coaster without any chance to get off. As if he didn’t have enough tension pumping through his veins at work, and even more on the home front.

Chapter 2

B
rock slid his key into the lock of his eastside home on top of Newcastle with its view of Bellevue, and Lake Washington and Seattle in the distance. All the lights were off, which meant Tyson wasn’t home. He knew his son wouldn’t be, but it also meant Karissa was out somewhere with someone without telling him about it. Again. He went into the kitchen, set his briefcase and keys on the black granite counter, and called her. She picked up on the fourth ring.

“Hi.”

“You’re not home.”

“I’m out, obviously.”

“With?” He rubbed his eyes, then slid on his reading glasses and pawed through the mail that sat on the counter.

“Ruth.”

“Oh.” Brock wandered into the dark family room and flipped on a light. “Didn’t know you were going out tonight.”

“It was last minute. Ruth called and said she needed someone
to talk to.” Karissa paused, then answered the question she knew he was going to ask next. “Sorry, I forgot to let you know.”

“No problem.”

But it was a problem. It was a symptom of her slow pulling away from him, which he felt more than he could verbalize. It was a good marriage. A solid marriage. They loved each other. Even still liked each other. Most of the time. At least some of the time. Did he wonder what life would be like a year from now when Tyson headed off to college? Of course. Karissa certainly did, based on the number of conversations they’d had on the subject. But it didn’t worry him. They’d be fine. Karissa had her interests, he had his, they had theirs together. At least they used to, and they could get them going again. Their life was okay. Used to be okay. Brock sighed and admitted for the first time since they’d started to make serious coin that money had become a salve that covered a lot of unspoken wounds.

“What time do you think you’ll be home?”

“I don’t know.” Her tone said she was irritated by the question. “Don’t stay up.”

BOOK: The Five Times I Met Myself
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