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Chapter 4: The Quake
[©1979 by Bobby Matherne]
The sounds of the ICN dolphin broadcast began to dim as Mornay thought back to that Monday morning with Inrid. He drove to her house at nine as planned. "Paul will be at work and my two children will be at school," she had told him. When she answered the door she had on a loose knit pullover sweater, no makeup, and a shy, almost bashful look. It seemed so uncharacteristic of this lovely woman, who was normally so bold and direct, for her to have her head to one side, her eyes averted, almost looking down on him as she opened the door to let him into her house.
She took her normal position at the end of the sofa. His normal position was in a chair near the other end of the sofa watching The Prisoner on TV with Paul. From the end of the sofa she could read her books and observe Paul and him, and occasionally participate in their conversation during the show. He would later reflect on the parallels of the prisoner in the Village and the three captured people in that room, but then was a time for action not thought. He moved over to Ingrid, crossing into the neutral zone, and settling next to her on the sofa, he felt again the warm sweetness of their enchanted evening, that Halloween dance so long ago.
He started to think, but he couldn't. He started to talk, but no words came out. Putting his arms around her shoulder, he looked into her eyes for a long, deep moment, as if to assure himself that this was real, that he was sitting alone with Ingrid, and these were the beautiful azure eyes that he had avoided for so many years, up until now.
They kissed -- one long kiss -- and before he could think what to do next, Ingrid rose from the couch, and taking his hand led him upstairs to the bedroom. She began undressing immediately and he followed her lead. The large king-size bed waited invitingly as he walked across the room to her. Ingrid's naked arms encircled him and the warm sweetness enveloped him. Like the tall glasses of burgundy Ingrid drank in three large swallows, she swallowed him. His dreams and his reality merged that Monday morning and he would remember it forever. In the brightness of morning with the sun streaming through the window, he and Ingrid consummated their five-year-old, arms-length love affair in a fiery passion. Like a hungry hound dog working on a large bone they devoured each other, licking, caressing, exploring every crevice, enveloping every prominence with their mouths. Timelessness and heavy breathing filled the room.
She lit a cigarette and gave it to him, then lit another one for herself. They talked, drank wine, and made love again. Always the warm sweetness, the devouring appetite for each other's body, the insatiable desire, the final quenching, and the cigarette afterward. Looking up at the gold-veined mirror tiles on the ceiling as they smoked, they saw themselves on the brink of a newness, an unspeakable newness, but they were together, just the two of them alone. Into the timelessness of the room came a new appetite to their exquisitely tired bodies, and they dressed to go out for lunch. Another first -- alone on a date together, no chaperons. They were dressing for a date together, friendly lovers now as well as lovely friends.
They drove to the marina for lunch. Afterwards, with puffy white clouds floating overhead in the clear blue February sky, they sat on the wooden pier of the boat dock and talked. She told him of her love for him from the beginning. He was astounded. Each step of her description matched his experience.
The two of them had been in love since that first dance, and neither could break through the spell of everyday routine to tell the other, up until now. His view of reality was shattered by this revelation and its manifold implications. From now on life would always have leaky margins; no thoughts would be private anymore.
What he'd dreamt in his bed at night, or daydreamed at his desk, had been experienced in kind by this sweet object of his dreams, Ingrid. The distinctions between object and subject were thereby dissolved. Had she been the object of his dreams or he the object of hers? The only thing that made sense to him was that it all happened at the same time. That thought would become one of his rules from then on.
In a world in which objects and subjects were one, like their two naked bodies on the bed, and their reflection in the ceiling mirror tiles were one, objects and subjects had to move in synchronism with each other. Like mirror images, their feelings for each other had moved in locked step over the years and now, finally, their bodies were physically together.
Always before he had been the subject, acting on objects in his world, like dating Edith and marrying her. He had done these of his own volition; he had been in control.
Now he experienced being out of control, and yet deep down he felt the possibility that this was indeed but a new form of control, new certainly to him. Perhaps this is what freedom, real freedom, feels like. He remembered a quotation from Jose Ortega y Gasset, "Man does not have a nature, but a history. Man is no thing, but a drama. His life is something that has to be chosen, made up as he goes along, and a human consists in that choice and invention. Each human being is the novelist of himself, and though he may choose between being an original writer and a plagiarist, he cannot escape choosing. . . .. He is condemned to be free." As he was pondering these things, his eyes caught sight of a dolphin swimming past the marina.
He had not dreamt of dolphins at all since he had met Ingrid and now they had entered his waking dreams. His journey into the realm of feelings with Ingrid was akin to his becoming a dolphin and diving into the ocean. So long in the dry air of thought, where subject-object science exists, he had finally plunged into the warm fluidity of the watery kingdom of feelings. And there, he was discovering, was where the dolphins live. His first discovery of feelings with Ingrid had surfaced into his consciousness, but the other developing feeling relationship with dolphins would not surface for several years yet.
There on the marina, with fluffy white clouds floating overhead, Ingrid asked Him, "Would you marry me?" The question came as a shock to him.
Two marriages, two families to be torn apart just for the happiness of two people, it seemed inconceivable, too much to consider at one time. Her question called for a yes-no answer, and he said, "yes" without hesitation.
There would be time later to consider the how's, the what's, and the wherefore's, but that afternoon on that marina, there were only two people to consider, only one subject-object in synchronism, linked by a new found love that had been there, hidden from sight, from the beginning. It was time for him to choose the original over the expected in this novel, this life, he was writing.
Later, after they had been married awhile, he would tell others that Ingrid had proposed to him, and Ingrid would disclaim responsibility for the marriage proposal, saying she had only meant, "If we weren't already married would you marry me?" Subjunctive or not, Mornay thought in possibilities, and from the moment that the last vibratory tone of the word me, inflected at the end of her question, had died away, his mind had begun creating the necessary precursor conditions for their future marriage.
He was on the bus, in the words of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters of the 1960's, and had no intention of getting off the bus. He probed Ingrid with pointed questions to determine if she were also on the bus. She was. The rest was implementation. He thought, "How do we achieve this goal -- Ingrid and I married to each other -- now that we have pledged our will to that goal?" In his mind they had become engaged that afternoon on the marina.
Driving alone back from the marina, it occurred to him that the word "would" gave him a way out, if he wanted one. Sure, he could have answered Ingrid's question with, "I would like to marry you if I could, but that's impossible." Then he and Ingrid could enjoy their fling and go back to their separate lives in the other world in which subjects operate on objects that exist separately from them.
In fact, Edith would propose just such a solution later when he told her of his plans for a divorce. But, to do that would be as strange as for a boy to want to leave his loving family to become an orphan. He had found a warm and loving relationship with Ingrid and no longer felt like an orphan -- he had no desire to return to his previous life. To him it no longer existed. Ingrid, like a large earthquake, had laid ruin to his present life's superstructure.
Going underground he'd found a new life of gentle feelings that, pushing the last layer of soil away, were bursting into the air and sunlight of a new day. Soon others would see the results in their lives, as these crocuses of love burst into spring colors amid the ruins. How to nurture these gentle flowers and protect them from the trampling feet of angry subjects and objects that will surely feel betrayed and done to? In these quiet moments in the car he began to evolve a plan, one based on his new learnings of the oneness of life, not on the previous subject-object separateness of life.
"Whatever decisions I make during the re-building of my life," he thought to himself, "must be based on what is best for all concerned. I must accept the reality that life is a dance that we all dance together. That my dreams of Ingrid matched her dreams of me must also mean that my dreams now of me and Edith going our separate ways must match some dream of hers. If I could but find Edith's dream, that would give me some clue as how to proceed.
"Was there, is there, an Ingrid equivalent in Edith's dreams?" He remembered when his brother Marc had visited him and Edith for a week before joining the army. They had been married only two years at the time and Marc was single. When Marc left, Edith was depressed for several days, and after some probing, she confessed to him that she had fallen in love with Marc.
That episode was almost ten years ago, and she had never brought up Marc or her feelings for him again. Was there anyone else? He thought about Edith's schedule, the cooking and cleaning, the kids, the PTA meetings, the dance recitals. No men friends at all, just a few girl friends in the neighborhood.
"Wait," he thought, "there was that day last fall I came home early from work and picked up the mail from the box and found that letter for her from Gary Boswell." The memories came flooding back, heavy with feelings. He had walked into the house holding the letter and Edith had grabbed the letter out of his hand, run into the bathroom, locked the door, and refused to come out.
When she finally emerged some fifteen minutes later, the letter was gone, but she broke down under his questioning and confessed that she had been writing to Gary since he and Rosie had stayed with them for a week the previous summer.
He remembered how shaken he had been by the letter episode, a parallel of her earlier infatuation with his brother Marc. But she had gotten over Marc quickly and he hoped that she would also get over Gary just as quickly. He had extracted from her a promise that she would stop writing Gary and he had heard no more of Gary in the intervening months.
He had forgotten the incident, but it surfaced with new significance as a possible answer to his question, "Might there be someone else for Edith?" It was a long shot. Gary and Rosie had a daughter and were also happily married. What were the Las Vegas odds of breaking up three marriages and rearranging the pieces in a game of long distance musical chairs? His mathematical mind calculated the odds as on the other side of impossible.
But there in the car he remembered he had thought earthquakes were impossible until several weeks ago when a large one had hit his home in Laguna Beach. The earth had moved under his feet in California and a month later had moved under his feet in Miami. The first movement was literal; the second was metaphoric. Was literal and metaphoric merely another way of dividing subject-object unity into two separate parts?
He remembered waking up twice at six A.M. on that fateful earthquake morning. He had awakened and looked over at his clock radio. In the darkness before dawn he had seen the hands of the clock straight up and down. "Time to get up," he thought. "It's a little early, but since I'm awake, I'll get started." He took a leisurely long shower and was shaving at his lavatory later when he noticed something strange: It was still dark!
He opened the casement windows and saw a night sky outside. "It should be light out now. It's almost seven A.M.," he thought, and went over to his clock radio. The clock showed the time to be ten minutes after one. He laughed at himself. "I got up at twelve thirty, thinking it was six A.M." He got back in bed and promptly went back to sleep.
He was awakened at six A.M. by the sound of a freight train rolling past his house, but it was the house that was moving like a train, more like a roller coaster. He and Edith held onto their breath and their bed. In an eternity that lasted only forty-three seconds it was all over. They checked on the kids; they were all right.
He walked into the living room and marveled at the sight of his stacked brick bookshelves still standing against the wall. Edith called from the backyard, "Robert, come see!" He ran to the backyard and there in the kidney-shaped pool was one large wave moving from one side of the pool to the other, repeatedly back and forth. At each end of the pool the wave splashed onto the concrete apron. It was as if you took a baking pan full of water and rocked from one side to the other and then stopped and watched the effect. That's what had happened to the pool. The wave caused the only damage to his property: the loss of a foot of water from the pool.
As he turned off the freeway near his hotel, a new memory came to Dr. Mornay. He'd been driving home the Friday before he left for the conference and as he'd neared the stop light for the last street before his house, the lady in the car in front of him had stopped abruptly instead of continuing her turn and he had run into the back of her car. It was a slight bump, but it'd shook him up, as he rarely had accidents. He got out of his car and examined the back of her car and the front of his -- no sign of damage.
Why did he remember this episode just now? he wondered. Was this another example of subject-object unity? If it all happens at the same time, then a description of this accident would be identical with the ensuing events with Ingrid.
He attempted a description. "I had an accident with a woman." That didn't quite fit. "I bumped into the rear of a woman." He chuckled at the sexual overtones, "That's closer, all right." He continued in this vein for several minutes, creating new descriptions and evaluating the descriptions of the auto accident for closeness of fit as a description of his week with Ingrid.
His last attempt was "I was following this woman too closely when she suddenly made an abrupt change in direction and we bumped into each other unexpectedly. We got out of our shells and met each other face to face to encounter the problem our meeting had created." Later He was to discover that this way of understanding the world had been pioneered by Carl Gustav Jung, who had given this process the name synchronicity. But even after he learned about synchronicity, he preferred to think of it in the simple everyday words he first used, it all happens at the same time.
A thought had hit him with a jolt. If these accidents and coincidences had happened to him, perhaps they were also happening to Gary Boswell and his wife, Rosie. Rosie had invited him to go to a big wedding downtown with them Saturday. He had not wanted to go, but the new situation with Ingrid had changed everything. He could only see Ingrid during the day on weekdays between convention sessions. That left his weekend free and there was an opportunity to observe Gary and Rosie's relationship first hand. As soon as he got back to his hotel room, he called Rosie to tell her he was accepting her invitation to join them for the wedding.
The wedding was a lavish Jewish wedding at a posh hotel in Miami Beach. At the reception there were large tables of lobster, shrimp, and fish -- huge amounts of seafood prepared many different ways. He ate heartily and danced several dances with Rosie. She was ebullient, in a unusually happy mood that day, and he found out quickly why. "I'd like your opinion on something," she whispered in his ear as they danced.
He'd stepped back and asked what. She pulled close to her again and continued, "There's this Turkish man in my evening class at Miami University that's been asking me to go out with him after class. Do you think I should?"She was asking coyly, suggestively, as though she was hoping he would encourage her to have an affair with this Turk.
Under ordinary circumstances, he'd have tried to talk her out of it, but his world had not been ordinary for a whole week, and might never be ordinary again, for that matter. Here he was dancing with a woman, whose husband his wife may be in love with, this woman was asking him if she should have an affair with someone else. They danced a few steps before he answered, and he answered as indirectly as he could, saying that she should follow her feelings in the matter, and do what she thought best. Then he'd held his breath and said a prayer that everything would work out the best for everyone.
The next morning he left to go to the airport. Ingrid met him there to see him off. After checking his bags they walked outside on the walkway above the concourse. Again he felt that warm sweetness, and he winced as he realized he was leaving it behind, perhaps forever. They kissed in the sunlight with jets taking off overhead and re-pledged their love, their promise to be together again, to be married, and to live together forever. The obstacles were enormous, the unknowns too many to count, the only certainty was their love for each other. They had loved each other in secret for five years, and soon they hoped to love each other in the open.
He flew home in a daze, his mind filled with possibilities and calculations. Edith might be relieved that he wanted a divorce, glad that she would be free to pursue her love for Gary. Rosie could then have her Turk, and Ingrid and he would have each other.
It didn't seem likely that it could be so simple but he could think of no other way to proceed. Closing his eyes he drifted into a deep sleep. Dolphins appeared to him once again. He was sitting alone on the dock at the marina where he'd seen the dolphin earlier in the week, but in the dream the notch-back dolphin came over to him and Ingrid and invited them to jump into the water. Without a second thought both Robert and Ingrid doffed their clothes and dove into the water. They followed the dolphin quickly, holding their breath underwater easily, and swimming as quickly as their guide. They reached the ocean floor, passing a myriad of sea life. He awoke with a start at the sound of the pilot commenting on the scenery below.
Awake now, he began to think about Mandy. What was he to do about her? He had been seeing her for several years since he had moved to California. After that fateful night he had told her he was married, she had agreed to see him one more time and they had taken that wonderful day trip to Solvang, that little Danish town north of Santa Barbara. After that he hadn't seen her for months. Then he called her from time to time. They talked briefly, but she wouldn't see him.
He wrote notes to her and attached cute cartoons from the newspaper. One said "Boy meets Girl, Boy falls in love, Boy goes home to Wife." They both laughed over that one. The phone calls grew a little longer as his persistence wore down Mandy's resistance.
They began having lunch together at Cafe Escobar near her office in Century City. Every other week or so when he could take a two-hour lunch break from the graphics laboratory, he'd drive over from Santa Monica to her office in Century City and meet her for lunch. Their friendship resumed where they had left off and that was enough for both of them.
Neither mentioned love again nor brought up the subject of sex. They talked of computers, of their work, of their interests, and thoroughly enjoyed each others company. Their love relationship arose from the ashes and blossomed into an endearing friendship. When he worked late at night, he occasionally called Mandy and she'd meet him at the Scarlet Lady, a railroad car converted into a bar close to where he worked. They'd have drinks, dance a few times on the attached restaurant's dance floor, and talk. These were marvelous times for him, and much more than he thought he deserved for having deceived Mandy about his being married.
He gazed out the window at the barren desert landscape passing beneath the plane. "Ingrid will never accept my continuing to see Mandy," he thought. "Ingrid told me about her affairs with other men, how they began after I moved away. She is going to break them off, so I will have to also. Her heart had broken when I left for California, then her mother and father died within two years of each other, and all this left her feeling helpless and abandoned."
It was after losing both parents, she had told Robert, that she decided to break her marriage vows and began to have several affairs, seeking somehow to fill this great emptiness she felt. After she shared this with him, he told her about Mandy, realizing as he told her, that he was sounding the death knell for his relationship with Mandy. By then he and Mandy had sex on a couple of occasions, and that made all the difference in the world to Ingrid.
He remembered the first time he and Mandy had sex, some four years after their relationship had first started in San Francisco. After a business trip to San Jose, he had come back to Los Angeles earlier than he had told Edith to expect him, and Mandy had prepared dinner for him. Planning ahead he had brought her a dozen roses to grace the small candle-lit table. Afterward they went to bed together.
In their up and down courtship in Los Angeles, it had taken over a year before they went to bed together. Although it was the natural culmination of their friendship, sex remained secondary to the friendship, and infrequent. They continued to meet mostly for lunch and occasionally for dancing once or twice a month, but the friendship was too valuable to both of them to contaminate it with love or sex. Neither made moves toward sex again.
He had never thought of Mandy as his mistress before now, but as he tried to state what he was going to have to do, the word seemed necessary. He was going to have to tell his mistress that he was leaving his wife to marry his wife's best friend.
Over the two years of developing his relationship with Mandy he had made it clear to her that he loved his wife and children too dearly to ever leave them for her, and yet now he was set on doing just that, only it was for somebody else. He didn't like doing this one bit, but it was only a small part of the challenges that the next year would bring him. The seat belt sign bing!-ed on -- his plane was on final approach to the airport.
Edith came for him at Orange County airport and they drove home in relative silence, he answering any questions she had, but not offering any information. He was much too busy thinking of Ingrid and how he would break the news to Edith about his decision to divorce her. As much as he thought, he could not form a plan for telling her. Luckily for him fate took the lead. That afternoon a phone call came and he picked up the phone in the bedroom. It was Ingrid.
"I love. I miss you." These were the only words she got out and quickly hung up. Her voice was low, as though she were whispering to keep from being heard in the next room. He was relieved that she hung up so quickly; he could tell Edith it was a wrong number. He walked to the living room and was confronted by a suspicious and surly Edith.
"Who was that on the phone?" she asked.
"Just a wrong number."
"That sounded like Ingrid to me," Edith said. She had picked up on the other phone and had heard everything. He told her that he had fallen in love with Ingrid and was going to marry her after the divorces were final. Edith refused to believe this incredible revelation until he told her of his feelings for Ingrid.
Then she became belligerent. He attacked back with accusations: her love for Gary, was she still writing him? She cried, "Yes," and swung her fists and pommeled him with blows. He let some of them contact his chest, then caught her arms by the wrists to stop her from hurting him further. When he let go she started pounding again. She launched one tirade after another at him, punctuating them with any blows she could get through his defending hands.
Afternoon moved into evening. The kids were put to bed early and the fighting continued late into the night. The two combatants kept themselves awake on adrenaline and angry words. In the early morning hours He was afraid to go to sleep because of a new battle. He was fighting to keep Edith from killing herself. He caught her trying to take a full bottle of an over-the-counter tranquilizer guaranteed to help you stay "composed" and pried them from her fingers. He had to outlast her just to keep her alive.
They survived the night, and in the morning hours Edith finally dropped off to sleep. He called Ingrid, figuring to hang up if Paul answered the phone. Paul was gone and they talked. He told her he had done his part; now she must tell her husband. Given her volatile condition, Edith might call Paul and tell him first. Ingrid broke the news to Paul and her two children. The dissolution of two families had begun. Like a chemical reaction, the separation of the husband-wife marital bonds began generating a lot heat on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
It took a week or two for him to convince Edith that he was determined to leave her, that there would be no turning back. He called, his friend, Lamont, the one lawyer he knew. "I'm getting a divorce," he said. "I want you to handle it for me."
"I'm sorry, I can't," Lamont replied.
"Why not?" he asked incredulously.
"Because I'm representing your wife."
"What? How is that possible?" Lamont said he was sorry, but he didn't know, and Dr. Mornay remembered how perplexed he was. He knew Edith didn't know any lawyers. How could Edith have called the one lawyer he knew? She had never met Lamont nor heard him talk about Lamont. He had testified in court for Lamont in a contract dispute and liked him; now he needed him and couldn't use him. All Lamont could tell him was that Edith had called him yesterday and asked him to represent her so he was legally obligated to follow through. Mornay called Edith and asked her for an explanation.
"Oh, I called the Orange County Lawyer Referral Service and they gave me his name," was her reply. So simple and so perverse. Out of all the hundreds of lawyers, they gave his wife the name of the one lawyer he knew. He had to pay for Lamont to represent his wife. He contacted another lawyer who advised him that only one lawyer was needed under the no-fault divorce laws of California, so he paid for the one visit and used his wife's lawyer, his friend, for the remainder of the proceedings. In a short six months after Robert and Edith filed the papers, in October, they would be divorced forever.
On the day they returned home from the lawyer's office they called their two daughters together to tell them that they were getting a divorce. They assured the girls that, although each of their parents loved them, they had decided it would be better to live apart. After the talk they wondered how the girls would take the separation. Their answer came the following day when the girls returned home after school. They were all excited. They had told their friends at school that their parents were getting a divorce and their friends had told them all about the good stuff they could expect: two sets of birthday and Christmas presents, two houses, two sets of parents to love them. This was, after all, California where one out of every two marriages ended in divorce. With those odds, it was well nigh impossible for them to have only friends with horror stories of divorce. In fact, it was apparently a positive experience for most California children.
Their lawyer explained to them that the new divorce laws did not require them to live in separate dwellings, that they could remain living together all the way through the divorce if they wished. He was relieved; this would lessen the financial burden by delaying Edith's moving out till Ingrid was ready to move in. When she did move out, he would have to pay her over 50 percent of his take-home pay in alimony and child support. He and Edith continued to live together and to sleep in the same bed.
Meanwhile, he and Ingrid wrote daily letters to each other. Ingrid sent him a poem in one of her letters. That inspired him to write one in response and soon their letters and poems were passing each other in the mail. The only other intimate link they had during this long separation period was the telephone and they burned up the long distance lines with late night calls. Each month they paid hundreds of dollars in phone bills on each end of the line. They were spending a lot of money being apart while their bodies craved to be together again.
He evolved a plan. He offered to fly Edith to meet Gary at a state science fair in Orlando. In exchange for this Ingrid would bring her children with her to California for Easter weekend and stay with the Mornay. It sounded crazy, but it would settle the matter of Edith and Gary's relationship: Were they lovers or just dreamy pen-pals? In addition, it would bring Ingrid to him before the divorce was final. One bonus was that he would have his first chance to establish a relationship with Ingrid's two children.
Edith's weekend with Gary came first and it was a disaster. Meeting him at the Florida science fair, they drove to his hotel where he proved to be incapable of achieving an erection. Edith was crushed. Humiliated, she flew back to California to face an uncertain future. Easter was the next weekend and Ingrid was coming with her two children.
Mornay looked back at the television screens -- ICN was showing a taped interview of him -- so he gazed back out the windows and remembered that visit of Ingrid and her two children. It was a weekend full of surprises.
Good Friday was a busy day at Los Angeles International Airport but he didn't noticed the crush of people, he was too busy thinking of Ingrid. He hadn't seen her since February, and soon she would be in his arms again, the first time since they had said goodbye at the airport in Miami. In the arrival lounge he'd watched intently as the huge nose of the 747 filled the space in front him, coming only inches from his nose when it taxied to a stop. Walking over to the jetway's entrance he spied Ingrid's blonde hair coming down the ramp before he saw her face.
They embraced, that warm sweetness enveloping him again briefly, all too briefly. As they separated their bodies, it was like pulling apart two magnets, or taffy that had cooled too much; it required a conscious force to do so. Ingrid's eyes went down to her side as they parted and said, "Wendy and Denny, you remember Robert, don't you? He will be your new father." He took their hands and talked to them about their flight and explained the fun time he had planned for them for the weekend. The children were a new facet in his relationship with Ingrid. He had known them only as his daughters' friends and as his neighbors' children. Now he was to assume the role of their father, and he had to craft a whole new relationship with them.
"Step-father," he thought, "I'm to be their stepfather. I've never been a stepfather before. How do you train to be a stepfather?" No answer came, so he decided this was one of those situations where one of the rules he and Ingrid had jokingly made up back in February applied, "You never know until you find out."
Wanting to delay the confrontation with Edith for as long as possible, He decided to take the scenic route home. They drove south from the airport along the coast road that borders the Palos Verde peninsula, that small point of land that juts out into the Pacific on maps of California. They drove through a Mediterranean fantasy land with large estates to their left, surrounded by white stucco walls and topped with red terra cotta tiles. The homes looked out on the deep blue sea that filled the right-hand side of Mornay's car windows as they drove.
At the tip of the peninsula they stopped at The Wayfarer's Chapel, an all glass church that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Swedenborgian church quartered there. As Robert and Ingrid walked into the chapel, they were touched by its quiet beauty and serenity. The large A-frame shape with glass ceilings surrounded by trees produced the illusion of a church without walls. With vines growing against the wall and the gurgling of a small waterfall, the effect was of being out-of-doors. The steps up to the altar were natural ledges of marble with words carved in the step risers as if by the hand of God. Sitting in the only human artifacts, the wooden pews, Robert and Ingrid looked around and decided that this would be the place to hold their wedding when the time comes.
They went to the gift shop and bookstore and asked for information. "Yes, it is possible to reserve the chapel for weddings," came the answer. Ingrid had only been in Los Angeles for a couple of hours and she and Robert had already chosen a place for their wedding. They could only hope the other pieces of their future would fall into place as easily.
He stopped at a gas station in Orange County. While he was filling the gas tank, Wendy and Denny wandered over into the orange grove in the lot next door. Back in the car he discovered that Wendy had picked several small oranges and put them in her purse. Later they ate at a pizza parlor, and while she was in the rest room, her purse fell into the toilet bowl and had gotten wet. She was a little distraught as they drove away, and to calm her, Ingrid suggested they compose a song about her experience and call it the "Waterlogged Blues."
He was amazed by the suggestion, but he had heard Ingrid sing some of her unique folk songs and loved them. She usually sang for her Girl Scouts troop, accompanying herself on the guitar, but she could sing just as well with no guitar, and so could Wendy and Denny. Robert jumped right in as assistant wordsmith in the spontaneous song-writing endeavor. As they sped along the Garden Grove Freeway, they composed the lyrics for the song. The first stanza came out:
I've got the waterlogged blues,
The blues I can't forget.
I've got the waterlogged blues,
The blues I can't forget.
I dropped my purse in the john
And all my oranges got wet.
Wendy was no longer upset. She was singing along with the quartet at the top of her voice as they cruised along the freeway. Another stanza quickly followed, composed by the four occupants of the car in collusion: idea, compose, sing. It was a celebration of spontaneity, the first joint effort of the four of them ever.
I've got the waterlogged blues,
And I feel like a simp.
I've got the waterlogged blues,
And I feel like a simp.
I've got a rock in my shoe
And it's making me limp.
All their spirits were high. Robert and Ingrid had survived the initial awkwardness with the kids. Wendy and Denny had discovered how much fun their mother was to be with when she was with Robert. Their first crisis as a family had been solved quickly as a team, and all four occupants of the car, though heading into an uncertain future, were beaming with delight. The rest of the weekend seemed sure to be a success.
The first request the kids had was to visit the beach. They had briefly seen the Pacific Ocean on the Palos Verde drive and from the heights of the Wayfarers' Chapel, and now they wanted to put their feet into its water. He pulled alongside an isolated stretch of highway above the beach, and before he and Ingrid could get out of the car, Denny was yelling from the other side of a sand dune, "Come see, come see!"
Running to where Denny was, Robert and Ingrid cleared the dune to see a dozen people in the water with several dolphins. The dolphins were beached and the humans were trying to help them back into the water. As they watched, four people dragged a large dolphin from high up on the beach to where it was floating in the water. Working against the surf, they managed to get the dolphin headed out to sea and let it go. As the rescuers looked out at the dolphin and backed up to the beach, the dolphin turned around and followed them, reaching the beach sand before they did. Again they began tugging the heavy animal back into the water.
Offshore a hundred yards or so, a dolphin swam back and forth as though it were inspecting the rescue effort. Mornay walked down to the rescuers to see if he could help, and the leader told him no, they had plenty of help from the local Save the Dolphins volunteers, but they were getting frustrated because the dolphin kept returning to the beach.
He pointed to the dolphin that had just returned to the beach, "This is the fifth time we've returned this one to the water, only to have it swim back up on the beach. Notice how heavy its breathing is. If we don't get it to stay out at sea this time, I'm afraid it's going to die on the beach."
Mornay looked into the eye of the dolphin and was entranced. The eye was like a vortex pulling him in. This was not the eye of a defeated, dying creature, he thought, but a sentient being, full of purpose. He wondered what that purpose might be and resolved to get an answer to that question some day.
He returned to the edge of the dune where Ingrid and the two kids were waiting and told them there was nothing they could do to help. As they climbed the sandy path back to their car, he thought of that dolphin, that large eye that looked at him with compassion, when it should have been the other way around.
In the fading light of dusk a shot rang out, and the four turned in unison to stare down on the beach. The leader, with tears in his eyes, was holding a pistol that he had just used to shoot the beached dolphin to put it out of its misery.
"Oh, No!" Ingrid cried and tears began to overflow her eyelids. He held her as she sobbed and he felt a tear weeping from the corner of each of his eyes. Why do dolphins beach themselves? The question kept running through his mind. "Someday," he vowed, "I will get an answer to that question."
"Today is that day," Dr. Mornay thought as the dolphins began to talk about the very time in his life he'd just been recalling. "It all happens at the same time," he mused.
We Dolphin People needed a human scientist for our inter-species project, someone who could design and build the technical devices required for them to communicate with us visually. We chose one that we'd intervened once before in his dreams. As a boy he had lost his dog to a snakebite and our successful intervention in that matter led us to follow him to adulthood. He was interested in inter-species communication even then as a small boy and we have been following his progress with interest ever since. Marine biology, dolphins, computer science, 3-D graphics, neural networks, psychology, and physiology are some of the areas we encouraged him to study via his dreams. We knew we needed an inter-disciplinary approach to synthesize the communication devices and therefore we needed someone who could learn all these fields in depth.
Doctor Robert Mornay, as he was known by his fellow Human People, was taking a journey across the North American Continent with his new family when we intensified our input into his dreams. We felt he was ready for the first breakthrough in Human People's understanding of how we Dolphin People communicate. We had done all we could in his dreams; the rest was up to him. The discovery finally came to him one night as he sat by the side of the Great Canyon.
[End of Quake, Chapter 4. To Read Next Chapter Click Book Jacket at Right:]
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