It's just an enchilada or three
Thankfully I was saved from having to give a response by Katy who came to the door and informed us that Renee had prepared a Southwestern Feast in honor of my arrival. Everyone stood and began the trek to the kitchen area. I stood, and didn't move. Mac turned back toward me and looked at me strangely. "We can continue our discussion over lunch."
"That's not it Mac, I ate more this morning than I normally eat in a whole day."
"Come try a bit. The man made it especially for you Dennis. Just try a little. And besides, you don't want to piss Renee off, he's the life blood of this place."
"Which brings me to another question Mac. It's about living arrangements." I wanted more information on this aspect of my new life here.
Turning to leave, we both began to walk as he told me, "Over lunch, let's get that started first."
As we entered the dining area, the group were all standing around the serving line, apparently waiting for me to begin first. As I approached, the booming voice of Renee came out from the back kitchen to greet me. "Der he is man. You come try my foods young Dennis. I knows yous eat dese foods back home. I be to Arizona once. Good food der yes. Tells me what you tink! Yes?"
Understanding the man, and Andre as well, was becoming easier for me. "Of course Andree, I'm sure it's all delicious." And then I grabbed a tray and plate, then took an enchilada, some rice and beans. There were some other things, but I wasn't quite sure I could eat much more than that.
A look of pure sadness came over Renee's face as he saw the pitifully small portion of his creations that I served myself. Remembering Mac's admonishment I looked at the big man and told him, "This is just an appetizer. That Boudin for breakfast was so incredible I ate more of it than I should have and this will have to be spectacular to beat that."
The man smiled at me and let out a huge belly laugh. "Mac teach you good." And then still laughing he returned to the kitchen.
The rest all dug into the buffet and I sat, the others followed. As the others began to dig into their plates of choices from the large grouping, there were a few exclamations of how delicious it all was. Before I began, I looked at Mac with the most plaintive look possible. He stopped eating, nodded his head and told me. "Go ahead Dennis, I know there's something on your mind."
"So, do we all live here?" That was my question, and it was a big one.
Shaking his head now, I believe he could tell this one aspect of my new life had me concerned. "No, of course not. Any one of you that wants to live here can. Some do." And that's when Jake, Andre, Stevey, Pete and Happy all raised a hand. "Some, just finding the outside world a bit much all the time. Happy just lives here because it's close to his lab. We all want you to be comfortable, and for the first few months, we think it's best if you live here. The distractions of being outside on your own time are removed and you can concentrate on training, focusing, and the big ones, blocking and determinations. It's just easier."
Nodding my head, I think I began to understand. I took a forkful of enchilada and was surprised at how flavorful it was. The sauce had to have been made by Renee, there was no tinny canned metallic taste to it. Real chilies. My respect for the man increased. Wow. Then I looked up at Mac again with this question, "I get paid for this don't I?"
Laughter erupted around the table, Jake sprayed a bit of cola out his nose as he was taking a sip at that precise moment. Mac was chuckling as he responded. "Yeah Dennis, you get paid quite well. For now, you can use a department car to shop. Take Katy out, do things other than be in here with us." And there was a communal groan from the table. "Later, you can find a place to live, buy a car, do whatever. It will be just like a regular job but with a few important distinctions."
Nodding at all this, it seemed reasonable enough. "What would those be then?"
"Simple, no drinking when on duty. When you're supposed to be here, or elsewhere, you be there. We don't do forty hours every week, but some weeks we do eighty. You, and all of us, travel a lot. There aren't a lot of us on the detail, so when needed, we go. Everyone here takes what we do seriously. I think you've already decided for yourself that having a purpose, especially one as important as this, gives us a reason to exist in a life other than the one we all shared in our past. Dennis, all of us used to be drunks. We now do this. Anyone want to go back to their old lives?" He asked the group.
"No way man." "I tink not Mac." and several similar phrases came out. All shook their heads, a gesture of agreement with the sentiment.
Nodding my head now, I felt more in place than before. Grounded. And with a forkful of the beans, was even more impressed with the quality of the accommodations and food.
Now Mac directed a question to Happy. "Anything on the other tapes as he ran the course?"
"No, it's what we talked about before. Which, realistically, is pretty amazing." Was his response.
It seems that Mac’s hypothesis from earlier was preconceived. No matter, it made sense, and that’s what’s important. “If I think about it, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I have vivid recollections of a dream. They’re always in three dimensions. I’ve never thought that was unusual.”
Everyone at the table stopped and stared at me. Nothing makes me feel self-conscious more than that. Gratefully, Happy came to my rescue. “Dennis, close one eye.” I did. “Everything you see now is just in two dimensions. We need the viewpoint, the same viewpoint of the second eye in order to view the world in three dimensions. When you dream. Sorry, when everyone else dreams, or remembers a particular scene in their lives, such as the obstacle course. We all see it, often as vividly as if there, but it nevertheless is a single image constructed for the dream or as part of that memory. It isn’t two separate images for the person to develop that needed three dimensional perspective. I’m sixty-two years old Dennis and I’ve been working in the neurobiology field the last forty years. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that.”
Andre now once again took off with his thoughts. “Yah man, dat was some ting I knows I not able to do. What it means for us, for wat we does ere man, I not know, but it cool as hell man.”
Everyone at the table nodded agreement. Jacob now chimed in. “Mac, what do you see for that particular aspect of the gifts that Dennis brings to the group?”
“Whew, wow.” Mac started. “I don’t know. Maybe incident reconstruction, should we have another sometime. I think he would be invaluable for that. Visualizing and recording for us what took place after the fact. Prevention, which is what we know is our main focus, I don’t think there’s much there. Anyone else. I’m open to thoughts about it.”
Lots of head shaking now. Then Jake brightened a bit. “What about placement Mac. We all know the regulars often do a crappy job of positioning their people. Maybe another perspective, a 3D one would help.”
Mac just shook his head. “I think we all know how that would go over with those guys, they don’t want any criticism of what they do when doing their jobs. Not sure that would work. And we don’t always get foreknowledge of much before events. So I doubt that would ever come into play.”
Nods all around again. We finished, I went back for two more enchiladas, then ate those as well. Renee was beaming when I did that. As we all finished, we got up to return to the classroom. Walking back, I was struck with a thought. “Mac, Renee makes a huge amount of food I’ve noticed. We don’t eat it all, what happens to it?”
“The people at the labs come in and eat at various times. The rest goes to the homeless. A big thing for Renee, he was homeless for a long time. He helps out when he can. I don’t have a problem with it. He’s happy, we all love what he does for us.”
“Man, so far I’m impressed” Was all I could say.
“I met him when I was in New Orleans. I found Andre and he wouldn’t come unless I brought Renee. They’re pretty good buddies, lived on the streets together for a couple years.”
“Worked out well then for everyone.”
Mac turned his head to look at me directly, “Indeed.” And we continued walking.
Once seated in the classroom again, we relaxed a bit. Good food tends to make that happen a bit. Reluctant to return to any discussion about me, I started it all again by asking Mac about the talents of the others. “Mac, When Donny projects his visions to others, how does that work? I know I have to be touching someone, but I’ve seen he and his brother project to the transit cops, and the image of Ivan. But how do they do that? Oh, and that reminds me, how did Mickey pick me up and squeeze me into unconsciousness? He is not that big.?”
Now everyone burst out laughing. I was confused. Surely he wasn’t that strong. I felt like a doll as he picked me up and squeezed me. Mac finally took the reins as the outburst quieted. “Dennis, you didn’t notice, but I fell over unconscious as well. Mickey projects, but he has little ability to direct that vision to a specific person. It goes out to everyone. He projected that feeling, and the loss of consciousness as well. Happy and Jake came in and gave you an injection of a sedative so we could get you tied up.”
“I think I understand.” But actually didn’t. So I continued. “But the question is, how is he able to do that. You're saying it might be possible to measure something that you're unsure exists when I open a lock, possibly radio frequencies, electrical discharges, gamma rays maybe. You don't know, but want to try to measure it. And yet there are two men here that regularly do things that I'm pretty sure you have absolutely no idea how they are able to achieve what it is they do. They project images into the minds of others. And in reality, what everyone else does here. We all are able to feel the emotional responses of other humans around us. No wires, no detectors, no sensor arrays or science fiction fantasy measuring devices. We actually feel other people's emotions. I mean, isn't that just the most incredibly unscientific incomprehensible concept ever?"
Mac looked about at the group, their momentary relaxed mood after lunch now gone. All eyes were on me. There was no smile. He began. "Dennis, believe me, that's the one thing we wish we could understand. I don't mean to diminish what you are asking, but the truth is, technologically, we have no way of understanding it whatsoever. We have theories. But with out a method to measure it, that's all they can be."
That sad look on his face seemed genuine to me. But I felt nothing from him. I couldn't know for sure. But then, yeah, what else could it be. "I think I understand. But it's pretty frustrating for me. You want to measure something that to me, is unimportant. A parlor trick, a way to pay for lunches when you have no money. And the problem in my life, the thing that has plagued me, there is no answer as to why."
"Patience Dennis. I'm working on it." Happy spoke to me slowly, deliberately trying to calm me. "Everyone here feels the same. We live with this gift. And wonder why us. Why doesn't everyone have this ability. This gift. Or curse as I think some have thought of it as. Someday Dennis. Someday."
Nodding my head now, I calmed down some. Knowing that this thing was frustrating to others as well, helped me deal with it.
Once again Mac took control. "Like we talked about earlier, we do know that when people express emotions, they burn calories. Energy. It would be nice if we knew where to look for that energy, but as of yet, we don't know. But Dennis, we're learning new stuff all the time. I recently read a paper that was written by some New Age psychic out in California. He proposed that every living human is part of this immense Universal Consciousness. It was all about reincarnation and how we are all connected. It's a concept that we don't usually associate with here in America in this age of science and reason. But on the other hand, that might be the clue to how emotions are transported. It takes energy to create emotions, perhaps it might be something this simple as an explanation to how we feel them. Just not the answer to why only us."