(excerpt 18. If you missed the previous installment, scroll down the blog to catch up)
“You don't have to live in fear anymore. Any of you,” I said.
“What did you do to him?” Theron asked.
I declined to respond. My silence told everyone the truth which I did not want to speak.
I turned to my golden-haired sweetheart and kissed her. Her lips were sweeter than any wine I'd ever tasted.
“Do you want me to take you back to New York now or in the morning?”
“I'm not going back to New York,” she replied.
“What are you talking about?”
“These last couple of days while I was waiting for you to return and wondering if I would ever see you again or if someone was going to come and kill me, I realized I just want to be with you all the time.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. New York is a cold and lonely place without you, Parker. With you, Alaska will be warm and friendly.”
“We don't have to go to Alaska, unless you want to.”
“But what about your job?”
“I won't be needing that job any longer. I took some plunder from Bartholomew's palace: a small payment for what he put us through. It's enough to live on for many years.”
“So, where do you want to go?” she asked me.
“I've always wanted to see Austria. We can get a villa on one of the lakes in Salzburg.”
“That sounds so romantic. We could have lots of kids and be just like that family in The Sound of Music. We could go to the Mozart festival and eat those tiny sausages.”
I again became sentient of my dream state. I was also aware that I was the only one in my dream who was aware it was in fact a dream.
“Are you ready to go?” I asked Janelle. She gave me a quizzical look. “To Salzburg,” I said.
“Yes, but how will we get there?”
I pointed down at the magic carpet I'd just conjured up. Being lucid, I could do whatever I wanted to do.
“How are we going to get to Austria on an area rug?”
“It's not an area rug, my dear; it's a magic carpet.”
“How charming,” she replied.
We sat down on the textile transport, which was thick and plush and soft. It was more than six feet wide and twelve feet long with multicolored tassels on each end. Stitched into the pattern of the rug was a picture of Andromeda, the princess of Greek mythology, and Perseus, her rescuer. Janelle leaned into my shoulder and I put my arm around her. I only had to think the thought and we took off into the air, flying high above the Earth. We whisked through the clear blue sky over soaring mountaintops.
When we reached the Atlantic Ocean the clouds were thick and heavy, so I thought us down to sea level. We sailed just over the whitecaps which were being whipped up by the wind. The salty mist coated our faces. The sea spray was cool but we were comfy and cozy in our protected bubble of warmth. Farther from the coast, halfway across the Big Pond, the weather turned clear and warm. A dolphin joined our journey, swimming next to us, occasionally leaping into the air and then splashing into the water in a playful fashion. I thought about how whimsical it would be if our aquatic friend could talk.
“Hello, Janelle. Are you enjoying your ride?” The dolphin said to my beautiful blonde.
She smiled and giggled, and then she looked at me. “Did you hear that?” she asked sheepishly, seemingly afraid I would think she was crazy.
“Yes,” I replied matter-of-factly. “Aren't you going to answer him?”
She turned back to our escort. “I certainly am. This is the ride of my life.”
“Bye now,” he said before disappearing into the depths.
Up ahead of us an ominous black cloud sprouted like a mushroom from the cloven mountain peak of a tropical island. Flaming red chunks shot from the hole like cannon balls, arcing high into the air before dropping into the ocean in steamy splashes. We slalomed effortlessly back and forth to avoid the volcanic volleys.
As we flew over the island we witnessed a river of mud and glowing lava thundering down the hillside, destroying everything in its path. People rode the magma flow in claw-footed, cast-iron bathtubs. They waved at us as we passed overhead.
Our magic carpet navigated around the toxic dust cloud and back out over the ocean. We continued eastward, passing over numerous small islands with idyllic harbors dotted with lavish sailboats and luxurious yachts. Tanned and happy people waved at us from pastoral seaside villages.
“Can we stop off on one of these islands; maybe rent a cottage on the beach?” Janelle asked me.
“No!” I replied tersely.
Janelle's lower lip quivered and she turned away from me.
“No,” I replied in a calm and loving tone as I put my arm around her.
“Why not?” she asked.
“Bad memories for me,” I replied, doing my best to hide my misty eyes.
Without a word she leaned her head into my side and held me tight. Her warm and tender embrace was more reassuring than a thousand words would have been. I knew I'd finally found the love of a lifetime.
We continued on our dreamy flight for a time that seemed to be without measure yet went by in a moment. Spectacular sunsets and sunrises alternately flashed by like the light from a flickering TV screen. Sandy beaches gleamed whiter than snow; green oceans shimmered like polished emeralds; blue skies shone so bright they hurt to look at; and houses and villagers and ripening fruit glowed with every pastel imaginable - from the warmest orange to the deepest purple. We were intoxicated by the sensory overload.