They went up to the rooftop of a nearby motel, the one where Cai was staying. A gentle whirring rose from the boiler turbines, down below, deep in the bowels of the building. Sleeping pigeons roosted under the water tower. The rain had stopped, and clouds floated in the night sky, reflected by giant puddles.
Cai had retrieved his long, black overcoat, which swirled around his thin legs. He pulled out a Camel cigarette and offered his lighter to Dan, who took it, and lit up.
The two men watched the retreating cumulus formation, illuminated by the veins of traffic below. Steam floated from thousands of dark rooftops, with myriad HVAC units, vents and tunnels.
Dan glanced at the Dracula-like creature in front of him. “You’re from out-of-town?” he muttered.
The lothario gave him a crafty, cryptic look, “You might say that.”
There was a density to him – that aristocratic nose, that lofty, sweeping brow – that spoke to him, that offered a weight, a depth. He felt himself drawn forward into this man’s orbit, like falling into the path of a black hole – or a runaway bullet train.
“Where did you say you were from?” Dan tried again.
“I didn’t,” the stranger guffawed.
“Excuse me?” Dan also laughed, but he was 100% serious. He really wanted to know.
“Originally, I am from London, but I came here from Seattle,” Cai began.
“Misty Seattle. Hmm,” Dan said, taking a drag on his cigarette.
“Yes; how well versed are you in the mystical arts?” the stranger gave him a significant look.
“The mystical what?” Dan asked, dumbfounded.
“The mystical. Arts.” Cai said, punctuating each word with an action: he dropped the butt and stepped on it – grinding it out – also taking one step closer to Dan, in the process. His massive, intellectual weight was all directed at Dan. The tall man loomed in front of him, looking down on him, his eyes narrowed in that oily, feline slant again.
Dan stepped back, confused, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Cai stood still, as if his metaphysical weight were settling, like a dense ball of dark matter. He sighed, as if confessing something to himself for the first time, “I am the Lightning Avatar. I come from Atev. You’re aware of parallel dimensions, right?”
Dan, a high-energy particle physicist, nodded. He was still baffled, but something Cai said, rang true to him: a bell knell of recognition tolled inside his psyche, on the shores of his consciousness. He didn’t know why. It was a note, the clarion call, of destiny.
He decided he would address that later, and pushed on gamely, “So, what’s your job?”
“Anesthesiologist,” Cai smirked, with obvious relief. He seemed to be standing over Dan less, and the angles of his body opened into a more welcoming posture. Cai’s mien took on the very definition of ease. Dan allowed himself to come closer, into the circle of Cai’s cologne – into the circle of energy that vibrated and emanated from him.
“You would be,” Dan murmured, surprised at how close he was to this man. The nail edge of a crescent moon emerged from a cloud bank and towered over them both.
Forgot About Dre (Instrumental) – Dr. Dre feat. Eminem
S L O W L Y
D A N C I N’
You Don’t Know Me – Don Henley