I had a rough day at work today. Kind of like the start of my first Dream story: the work just kept piling higher and higher, making it look like I wasn’t doing anything, even though I was hard at work all day.
Anyway, I needed a break, so I walked into a conference room adjacent to my desk, closed the door behind me, and stared out the window at the ever-moving crowd of people coming, going, talking, doing whatever it is people do who aren’t sentenced to work where I do.
While I was lost in thought, I felt hands and arms sliding below my arms and around my midsection, though I hadn’t heard anyone enter the room. Then a chin rested on my right shoulder. I looked down and didn’t see any arms or hands down around my waist, but I could feel them. I placed one hand on my stomach just above my belt buckle, but there were unseen hands clasped together there. Whoever it was that was hugging me responded by holding her body against me and moaning softly.
*So I’m not imagining it, then,* I thought. I then reached around behind me with my right hand, and right behind my thigh I felt fabric, though I didn’t see anyone or anything back there. The unseen hugger chuckled. I then did the same with my left hand, and the hugger said, “That tickles!”
Right away I noticed a slight Spanish accent, though the voice didn’t seem to be the least bit familiar.
“Who are you?” I asked, amazed at just how calmly I was reacting to being hugged by an invisible… something.
“You mean, you can’t guess?” she said playfully. It didn’t sound like Val. The accent sounded authentic, and Val didn’t have much of an accent.
“No, I have no idea. Please tell me, who are you?”
“I hear you’ve been wanting to meet me for a long time, so I thought I’d give you your chance,” she said.
My mind started racing. Who had I been wanting to meet for a long time that would have a Spanish accent? More importantly, how could she have found this out, whoever she was?
After I didn’t answer right away, she said,
“Think television. Or should I say, ‘Piense en television?'”
Wheels started turning. I do spend an inordinate amount of time watching Spanish television, wishing I’d spent a little more time using the Spanish I had learned in school.
“Are you Sofia? From A Que…, A Que… something, you know, that show on Univision?” I said, meaning Sofia Vergara, from A Que No Te Atreves,’ one of the shows on Univision, a Spanish television network.
“No, I’m not Sofia,” she said. “But you’re pretty warm. Very warm, in fact.”
Then it hit me. I knew that voice. I knew that figure (not from holding it, of course, but from… well, that would be a long story). It could only be…
“That’s me!” she said. I could tell from her voice she was smiling.
Odalys Garcia! Miss Lente Loco herself! I was actually in the company of a woman I considered to be television royalty. If there had been anyway to foresee this day, I would have made such plans… But something wasn’t right, somehow. “But… how did you become invisible?” I said. “And why, for that matter? And how did you know I wanted ot meet you? And where to find me?”
“Sooo many questions!” she said. “Val told me you’d have a lot of questions.”
“VAL told you?” I repeated. “You mean, Val did this?”
Before she could answer, there was a knock on the conference room door. “Are you busy in there? We need the room,” Katie Arrington, a supervisor from down the hall, said through the door.
“Um, um, OK, I’ll be out soon,” I said to her. Then I gently pulled free from Odalys’ embrace, turned to where I thought she was standing and said, “We’re going to have to let them use the room.”
No answer. Not a peep. Not even breathing.
I started wracking my brain. I know I’d wanted to meet this woman ever since I first saw her show years earlier, but not so much I’d imagine her like this, at my job. And yet, if she was real, how could she be invisible? And how could she be there one second and gone the next, without using the door?
I started slowly “sweeping” the room, swinging my arms around very slowly as I moved about the room ve-e-e-ry quietly and listening for sounds of breathing. Ms. Arrington must have opened the door while I was facing away from it, because when I turned back she and four of the workers from her unit were staring at me like I had just landed from outer space.
“Is something… wrong?” Ms. Arrington said, in that tone usually reserved for speaking to the very young or the very stupid.
“Um, no, everything’s OK,” I said. “I was just, uh… look, it’s been a long day, and I was just kind of bugging out, I guess. Nothing serious. Sorry to hold you all up.”
Ms. Arrington laughed. “No problem, John,” she said. “We all know how it can get around here. Believe me, we’ve all had days as bad, if not worse.” Then they all filed into the room and closed the door.
I sat at my desk and went back to work. Then I heard something creak near my desk. “Is that you, Odalys?” I said.
A voice whispered in my ear, “Come over into the staircase.”
So I got up and walked over to the staircase. When the door closed behind me, an unseen hand took my right hand and led me up the stairs to the landing just inside the door to the roof.
“Are you really Odalys?” I said.
The voice giggled and said, “Why would I be pretending to be if I weren’t?”
“Well,” I started, “Val knows how much I really want to meet Odalys, and she’d probably get a kick out of pretending. Though I don’t know how she’d manage the figure.”
“You think I’m Val, huh? Well, tell me if Val can do this,” she said, as she became visible. She was Odalys, alright, in all her fine smiling Cuban glory. That megawatt smile (and multimegawatt figure) could make a blind man have to shade his eyes. She was wearing a shimmering red v-neck minidress and matching red stockings, making the most of that awesome figure. It’s no wonder her show is so popular, even with people who don’t understand a word of Spanish.
“Just how did you manage to do that, anyway?” I said.
“What? You mean, this?” she said casually, as she disappeared again.
“Um, yeah, that,” I said. “You make it sound like it’s nothing.”
“It is nothing, to me,” she said. “Remember a couple of years ago, when I used to appear and disappear at random on the show?”
“Yeah, I remember,” I said. “I thought you were going to drive your co-host crazy.”
“Raymond did take a while to get used to it,” she agreed.
“You make it sound like it wasn’t just a camera trick,” I said.
“It wasn’t. I’ve been doing this as long as I can remember. Before
you ask, it’s not magic, it’s genetic, so I can’t teach you how to do it. I’m not sure how it’s done myself, exactly. I just do it.”
“What about your clothes?” I said.
“Oh, is that bothering you?” she said. Right then her red dress reappeared. Even invisible, it was plain that the figure inside the dress was mind-boggling, and mind-boggling was just what her unseen figure was doing to me.
“Odalys,” I said, “please tell me: why would an awesome-looking woman like you want to be invisible?”
“Because I can do it,” she said. “I can go without having to worry about how my hair looks, do my clothes match, is my makeup right, whatever. It doesn’t matter if you’re invisible.”
“Now, you didn’t answer the rest of my questions, but I guess the answers are obvious. Val must have told you where I work. But how did you get in?”
“Raymond,” she said. “He parked, got out of the car, went over to the passenger door and opened it for me, and then when we got to the front of the building he did the same. He’s downstairs in the Health Department office right now; he knows someone down there. When I’m ready to leave, I’ll need you to call him and tell him I’m ready, because I have to be invisible when I leave. He’ll stand inside the front doors until I let him know I’m there, and then I can get some stuff from his car.”
In the building I work in there are many wh
o can watch Univision and understand what’s being said, so I can imagine why she’d prefer to be invisible when she leaves. But something isn’t adding up.
“But, Odalys,” I start, “why are you getting things out of Raymond’s car, if you’re gonna be invisible? You can’t go walking around like that.”
Her face became visible again, smiling away. “Oh — I forgot to tell you,” she said, ” Val told me that you wanted to have the whole world see me with you, so I’m taking you out to dinner.”
“Val told you that?” I began to realize I’d have to reconsider whatever bad thoughts I’d had about Val recently. After all, if she’d arrange a complete surprise like this…
I noticed that Odalys had a strange look on her face, and she was looking at me. It didn’t take more than a few seconds to figure out what the issue was. But she asked anyway…
“Is Val, like, your girlfriend or something? She seemed like she really wanted me to agree to go out with you, and yet it seemed like she was very attached in a way that goes beyond friendship, know what I mean?”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s a complicated story, believe me. Maybe I’ll tell you about it later.” Looking at my watch, I realized that it was 5:00. Time to go home.
I gathered my things and left, arm-in-invisible-arm with Odalys as we walked down the stairs to avoid any awkward situations on the elevator. She told me on the way down the stairs that once she rode in an apartment building elevator while invisible and an obviously very drunk man entered. He bumped into her, then reached out and touched what turned out to be an uncovered bit of cleavage. He perked up, feeling around to see what else was there. She couldn’t go anywhere, and she boarded on the 20th floor, so it was a long ride down.
When she left that elevator, the man was writhing in pain on the floor, the victim of an invisible knee to the groin. I asked her what he did. She just grunted and said, “Use your imagination.”
We got to the ground floor, and Raymond was there by the front doors, looking around for some kind of cue to Odalys’ presence.
“Aren’t you Raymond Arrieta?” I asked, trying (not very well) to play dumb.
“Um, yes, I am,” he said, looking distracted (I suppose I would be, too, if I was the one waiting for a woman like Odalys).
“What brings you to the Social Services building? You have a good job,” I said jokingly.
He chuckled and said, “I’m, uh, waiting for a friend. The friend is supposed to be meeting me here, but I’m not sure if, um…” He looked at me like he wanted to ask me to leave, or was hoping that I would. He was understandably nervous. Who wants to be seen talking to someone who doesn’t seem to be there?
While Raymond fidgeted, a voice whispered in his ear, just loud enough for me to hear, “Relax, Raymond, he’s the one I came here to get.”
He flinched and started looking around, then caught himself and chuckled sheepishly. The three of us then went out to Raymond’s car. I told them that I should probably go get my car and bring it around to where Raymond was parked. Odalys said that if the car was in a parking structure, it was better that we walk to my car, with me carrying her stuff (of course).
We walkeed to my car, with me carrying Odalys’ bag slung over my shoulder. When we got there, she asked whether I’d prefer that she be visible or invisible in the car.
Hmmm. What a choice. Do I have her become visible, and chance creating accidents when people (all men, I’m sure) look over and see the goddess in the car they’re passing (I’m no speed demon, and my car is a 12-year-old Hyundai)? Or do I have her stay invisible, and keep all the distraction to myself?
“Tell you what,” I said. “It’s starting to get dark. How about if you make just your clothes visible? I’ll stay in the right lane so there are no accidents. The Bronx River Parkway is tricky enough without all those drivers looking over and seeing you.”
She laughed. We talked all the way home, occasionally getting a second or even third look from some of the other drivers as they passed. Rather, second and third looks from passengers in the cars that passed us.
When we got to Mount Vernon, she was once again invisible, which means when we got out of the car, I had to carry her bag again. “I bet you do that just to get out of carrying things, don’t you?” I asked.
She laughed again. It was amazing that such a beautiful woman could have such an easy laugh and agreeable attitude. Not at all what I was used to.
When we got inside, I asked her what kind of dinner she had in mind. “Nothing fancy,” she said. “I was thinking maybe Dallas BBQ’s. Val tells me that’s one of your favorites.”
*Boy,* I thought. *Val’s taken care of everything.* I began to wonder if she wasn’t really up to something, if this wasn’t some kind of elaborate prank.
I went into the bathroom to take my shower. Various thoughts invaded my head as I shed my clothes, not all of them unwelcome, involving Odalys and the shower. I opened the bathroom door just a crack and said, “Odalys–”
She cut me off. “No-no-no. I thought you might want to ask me something about that shower, and Val saw it coming too. She made it clear that I’m only supposed to be taking you out to dinner. She was not at all vague about what could happen to me if I was to ‘take liberties,’ as she put it. Something about calling Paulette. Who’s that, anyway, if Val is your girlfriend?”
*Val REALLY thought of everything,* I corrected. “I’ll explain later,” I said, and reclosed the bathroom door.
As I started to wash, a familiar voice said, “Here, let me do that,” after which the washcloth removed itself from my grip.
I started reaching out for Val, until I realized that even in the shower, I couldn’t see her. I mean, the water should have been bouncing off her body, making it plain to see where she was. But it wasn’t.
“That IS you, isn’t it, Val?” I asked tentatively.
“No, it’s not me, John. Your washcloth is washing you all by itself,” she said in a voice dripping with sarcasm.
“But how… that means the water is just passing right through you, and that’s not possible… is it?”
“Don’t ask me,” she said. “Whatever happens or doesn’t happen is because of YOUR bag of tricks. You must have been fantasizing again.”
“Yeah, I was,” I said. “Does she know you’re here?”
“No. She thinks I left her alone with you for the evening. You won’t tell her any different, will you?”
“She must think you’re here or something, because she turned down an invitation to join me in the shower,” I said.
“That wasn’t an invite,” Val said. “You just wanted to see what the answer would be, right?”
“No, I really was–” I started, before something she’d just said about fantasizing hit me. “Wait just a second. You said that the water passed through you because I was fantasizing about it. Please tell me that Odalys in there is not just some kind of trick I’m somehow playing on myself. Or one that YOU’RE playing on me.”
She didn’t answer for a while, as she continued dutifully washing me. Not lingering on any particular area, which I don’t suppose I should have expected her to. I repeated my question just as she had finished me.
She spoke her answer slowly and deliberately, as if she was afraid of saying the wrong word, or maybe that she might leave something out. “Odalys is not like me. You didn’t invent, or concoct, or whatever word you want to use — you didn’t produce her, like you did me. She really exists. So you should stop worrying and just go out and have yourself a good time, OK?”
“You didn’t answer my question, Val,” I said. “I know Odalys really exists. What I want to know is, is that beautiful creature in the other room really Odalys Garcia, or some fantasy trick that one of us is playing on me?”
She answered me with another question. “‘One of us’?” she repeated. “John, do you think it’s really possible to trick yourself, and do it so well that you wouldn’t even know? Do you REALLY think you can do that?”
I realized right away that she skipped right over whether or not she was personally responsible for tricking me, i
f indeed I was being tricked, but I chose to overlook that and just answer her question. “Val,” I started, “you know as well as I do that somehow I can make
myself believe just about anything–”
She cut me off. “Fine. If you want to believe that a figment of your imagination or some trick up my sleeve is about to take you out to dinner, then go ahead. If you want to believe that she’s real, that’s fine too. Either way, just go, and have a good time, OK? Can you do that?”
I decided that being treated to dinner by such a gorgeous creature wouldn’t be the worst thing that ever happened to me, even if I didn’t know who or what she really was. Just as I grabbed the doorknob to open the door, Val said, “And John? Not a word about this conversation, OK?”
“Alright, Val. I’ll play your little game.”
I walked into the bedroom with the towel draped around my waist. Odalys’ voice, coming from the empty space in front of my open closet door, said, “You won’t very well be able to get dressed with that around you, will you?”
“You’re in here? I thought you’d be waiting in the living room while I got myself ready,” I said.
“Part of the deal I made with Val was that I get to pick out your clothes and dress you,” her voice said.
“You’re going to *dress* me?”
“Yeah, and I’m sure Val is checking up on us. I heard you in there talking, and I’m sure you weren’t talking to yourself, were you?”
I didn’t answer. I just did some quick figuring and came to the conclusion that Val was testing me for something, or else I was just plain losing my mind. But if my own imagination was testing me, I couldn’t let myself fail; and if I was going crazy, then I was going to enjoy every minute of it, at least as long as Odalys seemed to be part of it.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Odalys’ voice said. “You’re gonna have to drop that towel sometime, you know.”
So I did. A low whistle sounded from the emptiness in my room. “Very nice, John. Too bad Val is spying on us; I have to keep my word.”
My underwear drawer opened and a t-shirt and pair of “boxer brief” underpants floated up out of it. “Here, put these on,” the voice said. I did, after which I heard the sound of feet aagainst my rug crossing the room, going back to the closet.
My olive-green double-breasted suit floated out of the closet on its suit hanger. “Odalys,” I protested, “you’re not seriously dressing me up just for Dallas BBQ, are you? That’s a jeans-and-sneakers kind of place.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to wear a suit? Put it on, at least, OK? I want to see how it looks on you.”
The hanger deposited itself on a hook inside the closet door, and then the jacket unbuttoned itself. The pants, hanging inside the jacket slid from the hanger, and positioned themselves for me to step into them. I did, after which they pulled themselves up, zipped themselves, and one of my dress belts tucked itself into the belt loops and fastened itself.
Next a hanging white dress shirt floated from the closet, removing itself from the hanger and positioning itself for me to put it on. I slid an arm into a sleeve, after which the other sleeve slid up the other arm, and the shirt buttoned itself.
My favorite tie that matches that suit, a gold one with green and royal blue designs on it (it looks better than it sounds), slid from my tie rack, looped itself around my collar, and began to tie itself.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Could you do me a favor and let me stand in front of the mirror while you tie this for me?”
“Sure, but why?” she asked.
“Well, I have no trouble tying a tie, but I have to stay away from mirrors. I get all crossed up. Plus, this will be my first time seeing a tie tie itself.”
She laughed and led me over to the mirror I have propped up on top of the radiator (it was originally right inside the bedroom door, but at the time the dresser was there. The bed is there now, and if what usually happened when the mirror was there were to continue happening, I would have a VERY rude awakening one morning, finding the mirror face down on top of me. So the mirror rests on the radiator). It was a very compelling sight, watching the tie loop around itself like that.
Finally the jacket pulled itself on and buttoned itself. Then my socks and shoes were placed on my feet, and I got yet another show watching my shoes tie themselves.
When the outfit was complete, I heard the unseen feet take a couple of steps back. “Very nice,” Odalys’ voice said. “Are you sure you don’t want to go somewhere else, instead of Dallas? It would be a shame to not wear that suit.” As she spoke, unseen hands turned me around, presumably so she could see the suit from other angles.
“Well,” I said, “I really wanted to go to Dallas, but we don’t *have* to dress casual, if you really want to dress up. I suppose you’re all set, so I guess we’re about ready to go.”
“No, I’m not all set,” Odalys’ voice said. “I still have to get dressed.”
“But what about that dress you wore earlier today?”
“You want me to wear the dress I’ve been wearing *all day?*” she said.
Women. They can look just perfect, and still they want to change. I was about to insist that the dress she was wearing would be just fine (once it reappeared), when I realized that she might have planned to treat *me* to a show.
“Of course,” I said. “Now I understand. You had a suit in mind all along, that’s why you brought that bag along with you, right? You have another dress in there?”
“I have a few things in there, actually,” she said. “What I was actually going to wear depended on what you wore.”
“So now you get to wear something nice.”
“I would have done that anyway, John,” she said. Right then that red dress appeared again. It was almost a shame, knowing that she wasn’t going to wear it. But if she did, there would be no show.
The dress (I forgot to mention this earlier) had sheer mesh sleeves, enhancing the invisible effect. The empty sleeves reached behind the dress and I could hear the sound of a zipper coming undone.
“I could have done that for you, you know,” I told her.
“Yeah, I bet you could,” she agreed, “but I don’t want to be tempted to go back on my word to Val. ‘No funny stuff,’ that’s what she said.”
*Again with this agreement with Val,* I thought. All three theories still ran neck-and-neck in my mind (Val playing a trick, Odalys is real, I’m going crazy). Every time something happened to advance one idea, something else would happen to short up another possibility.
The dress’ empty sleeves reached up until the end of its sleeves were about level with its shoulders; then the dress’ shoulders slid from an unseen form underneath. In seconds the dress had completely removed itself from the unseen form shaping it, leaving only a floating red bra, red panties, and red stockings to give any hint of a person where the dress had been.
“Sure you don’t need a hand with any of that?” I said, only trying to be helpful.
“You would like that, wouldn’t you?” she said playfully (at least she *sounded* playful). “I’d love to let you, but there’s no telling what Val might have up her sleeve… You never did tell me. Is she your girlfriend, or what?”
Talk about timing. I don’t think Odalys could have chosen a more awkward (for me) time to ask me that question, when only her underwear gave me any visible hint as to her presence. Here I was fantasizing about that floating underwear, and here *she* was asking me about another… “female person.”
I decided that, awkward or no, it was the moment of truth. I had no idea how she would reat, but it was going to come out at some time, so why not?
“Odalys,” I started, “Val is… a figment of my imagination.”
Immediately she became visible. I guess the time I’d spent with Val had made me immune to what might be called a “normal” reaction to having someone turn invisible (or visible) right in front of my eyes. Because though it didn’t bother me in the least to have those glorious undies floating in front of me, when she became visible, my eyes almost popped out of my head. I started hyperventilating and fell backwards. Fortunately,
I was standing in front of my bed at the time.
“No way,” she replied. “She can’t be. She called me on the phone and everything.”
“Odalys… please… blank out again, would you?”
She gasped. “I thought you *wanted* to see me!”
“I do, but Val got me so crossed up that I’m more used to invisibility.”
“Invisibility?” she repeated, looking at me warily. “Am I supposed to believe that this Val of yours is invisible?”
“She is, Odalys, and right this minute I wish you were too, at least until you get dressed,” I said.
She sighed. “OK,” she said, finally. “I don’t get it, but if it makes you more comfortable, I’ll wait until I get dressed. I wasn’t planning to stay this way anyway, but if it makes you feel better…”
She vanished again. “So you’ve never actually… been in her presence?” I said.
“No, I haven’t, and I don’t believe this business about her being invisible, either,” she said. “Prove it to me.”
There was a knock at my bedroom door. We both turned to look, and were met by the sight of a mint-green tankdress clinging to an invisible figure. “How’s this for proof?” said a voice from above the dress.
Again Odalys became visible, and visibly shaken. “Ay! Ay! It’s a… it’s a…” Odalys started, before she passed out.
“Nice going, Val,” I said. “Shouldn’t every date start by making the one who’s paying pass out?”
“Oh, calm down,” Val shot back, helping me get Odalys to the bed in my guest room. “You could have waited until after dinner to tell her, couldn’t you?”
Two things came to mind: One, that Val was probably not playing a trick
on me, and two, that I have to work on my timing. I started feeling guilty that this gorgeous woman, a TV star who was going to take *me* to dinner, was now out cold. I might even have to pay for her dinner to quiet my guilty conscience.