Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Four

The week is flying by once again and Hump Day is back! So, if it's Wednesday, it must also be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! Don't forget to check out our website too!

Last week, we saw Dallas in a session with his doctor, Samuel Levi. That man just confuses Dallas until he doesn't know up from down. In today's episode, he's watching his very intelligent nephew, Oz, who might know more than Dallas thinks. Find out, and then see what the other Briefers are up to. Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!

Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Four

Today’s session had ended as badly as any other. Why had Dallas dared to hope differently?

Hell if he knew.

Dallas didn’t have to work again until tomorrow night. Which worked out well for his sister, Paris, who’d begged his services as a babysitter for her son. Dallas didn’t mind watching the precocious eight-year-old and never had.  Campbell had worked a long shift and crashed immediately afterward. He’d probably come across the hall and join them when he awoke. He and Oz got on like gangbusters, luckily. The boy needed some stability in his life. Living with ditzy Paris couldn’t be easy, Dallas knew only too well.
Lately, though, he had to wonder just how stable an influence he was, either.

Dallas missed cooking. Real cooking, that was. The sorts of meals he provided at the greasy dive where he worked bore no resemblance to anything he’d done before. Back when life was easier. As a sous chef and a talented culinary student, he’d earned the respect of his head chef and his fellow employees, his teachers and his peers.

Now he was master of a greasy grill where the most demanding order he might get all night would be for a triple burger with “all the fixins”. A place where the terms ceviche, sous vide, and crudo held no meaning.
God, how he hated the Rusty Heifer.

Tonight, he’d indulged himself and Oz a bit. He showed his nephew how to make pork tenderloin Diane using pork loin rather than tenderloin for a juicier bite. Oz played the part of his sous chef and did everything Dallas had asked of him to perfection. They’d made potatoes Lyonnaise, and Oz had sliced the potatoes and onions to perfection.

Dallas was very proud of him. Oz was probably the closest he’d ever have to a son of his own.

After dinner, they’d watched an Adam Sandler movie together, laughing and crying both. Much needed catharsis, Dallas decided. Sometimes he had a tendency to hold things in, letting them build up into almost unbearable proportions.

Plus he needed to stop thinking about Samuel so damn much.

Now the two of them were relaxing in Dallas’ living room. Dallas had turned the television to a music channel. Smooth jazz played soft and low in the background. Oz sat on the floor, playing with his beloved musketeers.

Dallas was glad that some things seemed to never change.

“Is Campbell coming over, Uncle Dallas?” Oz looked up from his faux duel between a musketeer and one of the “evil” Cardinal’s men. Dallas had found miniature epees that fit into the hands of the figures, giving them a rather lifelike quality. Not sharp, of course. But they looked real enough for Oz and him.

“Probably.” He was really grateful to have Campbell in his life. His own personal Rock of Gibraltar. There was nothing romantic between them, although sometimes Dallas wondered if there could be, had he not met Samuel first...

Well, he had, and there was no use going down that road. Not when his heart was no longer his to give away.

And didn’t that sound like a Hallmark Valentine sentiment? When had Dallas become so sappy? Good thing it wasn’t really Valentine’s Day. He wouldn’t get the chance to make a fool of himself for a few months yet. He didn’t believe for a moment Samuel’s heart could be won with chocolate and cheap sentiments.

Where the real key was hidden, though, Dallas had no clue.

Oh yes, Oz’s question.

 “I’m sure he will once he gets up.”

The music shifted from one song to another, and the melodious strains of “Take the A Train” began to flow. Vintage Duke Ellington. Dallas loved it.

“What about your other friend? Will I ever see him again?” Oz persisted.

What? Who? Dallas frowned, trying to think who Oz might mean.

“The one in the dress that wasn’t a dress,” Oz patiently explained, as if he thought Dallas should remember without the reminder.

Dallas felt warmth creep into his cheeks. Oh yes, he remembered. Samuel in that form-fitting cheongsam.
How could he possibly forget?

Dallas blinked. His breath caught in his throat. Yes, another piece of vindication. Proof that Samuel had existed in his life outside of the analyst’s couch. Oz had seen and met him.

More importantly, he remembered him.

“Do you... do you remember his name?” Dallas felt the rhythm of his heart going into overdrive as he waited for the answer.

“He didn’t say,” the practical child replied, and Dallas realized that was probably true. Caginess on Samuel’s part, or a simple oversight?

“But I bet it’s Samuel,” Oz continued.

“Wh-what? Why do you say that?”

“Because that’s the name I heard you say in your sleep.  When you were staying with us.” He turned his too-wise eyes up toward Dallas, his figures frozen in mid-battle. “Don’t worry, Uncle Dallas, your secrets are safe with me and all my friends.” He returned to his maneuvers, leaving Dallas open-mouthed.

Before Dallas could get out another question, he heard a discreet knock at the door and his heart began to thump even harder for no good reason. Perhaps at the juxtaposition of the subject matter and the desire to see said subject in the flesh. Foolish though that hope probably was.

The door opened and Campbell’s pretty face appeared, followed by the whole package. He’d changed from his workday scrubs to a pair of well-worn faded ripped jeans and a tie-dye T-shirt. For a moment, Dallas was reminded of the hippie in the boat. Although the last time he’d seen him was in the courtroom, when he’d been acting as Samuel’s attorney.

If any of that was real, that is.

“Everything good here?” Campbell closed the door behind him and padded in on bare feet. Dallas nodded as Campbell dropped onto the carpet beside Oz, who greeted him with a hug.

“Saved you some dinner.”

Dallas was rising when his phone  began to ring.

to be continued

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