Rashida walked from Dr. Williams’ building, practically cursing herself under her breath. “What in the world am I doing? Troy moved on a long time ago. Why would he help me anyway? All I ever did was belittle him, and now I’m gonna go crawling back asking for help?” As she walked, she thought about how he would react when he “saw” her. The thought made her smile. “Ought to be good for a laugh, at least,” she said.
As she walked further, she came upon a middle-aged man, rather rumpled in jeans and a dirty sweatshirt, sitting on a bench holding a bag in a bottle. He was plainly drunk, so she decided to have some fun with him.
“Beautiful day, isn’t it,” she said to him.
He looked around but didn’t see anyone. He looked at his bottle briefly and shrugged, then leaned back on the bench and closed his eyes.
“Must be nice, being able to sit back and smell the roses instead of running around in the middle of the rat race like everyone else,” she said.
He opened his eyes and looked to his right, where the voice seemed to be coming from. Again he saw no one, but he kept looking around.
“What are you drinking?” she asked.
“I must be hallucinating, or else cracking up,” he said. “Ain’t nobody here but me and Jack Daniels, but I keep hearing a woman’s voice.”
“You’re not hearing things,” Rashida assured him. “I’m just trying to make conversation. Why are you wasting such a beautiful afternoon sitting on a park bench with Jack instead of doing something meaningful?”
“Who’s talkin’ to me? A ghost, an angel, or is it Jack?”
“Not a ghost, or an angel, or Jack,” Rashida answered. ” I’m just — I want to help you put away that bottle.”
“No sweat,” he said. Holding the bottle out in front of him, he added, “Here, take a swig.”
“No, not that way. I mean I want you to put the bottle down and do something constructive.”
“Somethin’ like what? Jack here is building me a nice buzz, and that’s constructive enough for me.”
Rashida was suddenly more aware of her own dry throat. Once she was on the bus that would take her to Troy’s job, there would be no opportunity and maybe no time to get anything to drink. The sight of an upturned glass or bottle with no one holding it might cause too much of a problem, she decided. Water fountains would be out, too.
Turning back to the drunk, she said, “Hmm. I could use something to drink myself. Got anything else with you?”
He replied, “As a matter of fact, I do. I just came from the store. Look in the bag there, next to the bench. There’s sodas and stuff in there.”
The bag unzipped and the man could see things moving around inside the opened bag. Then, one by one, the contents of the bag began rising out of the bag, coming to rest on the bench or on the ground next to the bag. Finally, a bottle of Pepsi rose from the bag. The top came off, and the bottle was upturned. The drunk man watched in amazement as the soda disappeared into thin air right at the neck of the bottle. As the soda vanished he could hear a sucking sounds, as if someone were there, drinking the soda. In a few seconds the soda was gone.
The man watched all this in silence; then, shaking his head sadly, he poured out the contents of the almost full bottle of whiskey. As he did, Rashida glanced at the man’s watch. It was 3:30. She’d have to hurry to reach Troy before he left work for the day.
Without saying a word to the man, she ran for the bus stop to catch the next westbound bus. There were five routes that passed that bus stop, but she figured any one of them could take her to the huge office complex where Troy worked.
As she waited, two cars with US Government plates sped past, heading eastward. “Wonder where they’re going,” she thought.
v v v v v
Dr. Williams waited nervously by the phone, hoping to hear something from Rashida. He had no way to get in touch with her, and he thought he might arouse suspicion if he started calling around. “By now, the Feds must be looking everywhere for her,” he thought.
While he waited, he turned on the television. On the news there was a story about an apparent ghost sighting at a downtown department store. The story included an interview with a police sergeant, looking shell-shocked and saying he’d never in all his years on the force seen anything like it, empty clothes walking standing on their own and speaking. “Must have been Rashida,” he said aloud. Just then, the phone rang.
It was Delvalle.
“Doctor,” he said, “something’s been bothering me ever since we spoke earlier. You told me you gave Ms. Torres a month’s worth of medicine. That’s one bottle. But there were two bottles missing. Where’s the other bottle?”
“What do you mean?” Dr. Williams replied. “I had just opened the box and given out one sample when you called.”
“Then someone else got to it after we spoke. Does
anyone else have access to your office?”
“No one — wait a minute,” the doctor added, bluffing. “The box was sealed when I got it, but when I opened it there was a bottle missing. I noticed it before, but it slipped my mind until now.”
Delvalle hesitated before answering, “Hmm. Are you sure? The box was full when it was shipped, according to Mediplex.”
“Positive,” Dr. Williams answered. “One was already gone.”
Delvalle sighed heavily. “OK, Doctor. Thanks for your help. Have you heard from Ms. Torres?”
“No, I haven’t, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do,” the doctor said.
“All right. Good night, Doctor,” Delvalle said, and hung up.
Dr. Williams hung up and breathed a sigh of relief. He knew what happened to the missing bottle. He figured it must have been his nurse, Joyce Torres, who had an occasional penchant for self-medication. He immediately dialed her number, getting no answer. “Joyce, Joyce, Joyce, what are you up to now?”
v v v v v
Joyce Torres pulled up outside her boyfriend’s workplace just before 3:30 to pick him up from work. While she waited, she thought about all the slinky outfits she’d be able to wear once she lost some weight. She opened the bottle of pills she took from the doctor’s supply and took one, washing it down with water. “What the heck,” she thought, “I wanna lost this weight in a hurry,” and took another pill. She felt a little woozy, so she closed her eyes and reclined her seat as she waited for Darryl to come out to the car. After a minute or so, the feeling passed, so she d
istractedly straightened her seat.
Reaching up to adjust her rearview mirror, she let out a scream when she couldn’t see her hand. Then she looked down. She could see the denim shirt she wore, unbuttoned except for the one button at the fullest part of her chest, but she could see down into the shirt, as if she weren’t actually in it.
“Omigod omigod omigod! Darryl will be here any second! What am I gonna do?!” In a panic, she quickly stripped off all her clothes and threw them on the floor behind the driver’s seat. Just as she did, Darryl came out.
He looked in the car and, not seeing Joyce, went back inside to see if she was waiting there for him. When he saw she wasn’t, he came back out and walked over to the car. “Where did that crazy woman run off to now?” he asked out loud.
“I’m right here, Darryl,” she answered from inside the car.
“I hear you, but I can’t see you,” Darryl replied, leaning inside the car. “What kind of trick are you playing on me now?”
“Get in the car, please,” she said exasperatedly. He got in on the passenger side. As he did, Joyce leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
Darryl jumped. “Hey — who — what’s going on? Who did that?!”
“I did, Darryl,” Joyce replied. “It’s me, Joyce.”
“Joyce? Why can’t I see you? It’s almost like you’re…” He trailed off, not wanting to complete his statement for fear of sounding like an idiot.
“Invisible? That’s exactly what I am. Must have been those pills.”
“Pills?” Darryl repeated. “Swiping medicine from Doc Williams again? Didn’t I tell you that would catch up to you one day?” He paused, then, looking around, he asked, “Uh, do you think you should drive like that?”
“I guess not,” Joyce answered. “Get out and come around, and I’ll slide over.”
“Get out? Why do I have to be the one to get out?”
“Well, do you want to take a chance that someone will see the car doors opening ‘by themselves’? If they do, you’ll be the one they ask for an explanation, Mr. Bigshot.”
“Sorry, honey. I had kind of a rough day, and this isn’t really helping. I’ll go around.”
Joyce waited until Darryl opened the driver-side door to slide over. He watched as the seat cushion rose, then was pressed down a bit in the center; the depression rose again, and the passenger-side seat cushion and seatback were depressed, as if someone were there. Joyce noticed that Darryl watched all this before getting into the car, and asked him, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s weird. I can see where the seat is pressed down under you, but I can’t see you. By the way, what did you do with your clothes?”
“They’re in the back,” Joyce said, “behind your seat. I thought it would be better if people didn’t see empty clothes hanging in space, know what I mean?”
Darryl answered, “Wouldn’t have bothered me one bit. I love your figure. I want to see what some of your outfits look like on you while you’re like this.. But tell me, why did you take an invisibility formula? Do you know how it works? Is it doing anything else to you? Is it permanent?”
“I thought it was weight-loss medicine that I was taking,” she answered. “That’s what it said on the box. I thought I was taking two diet pills.”
“You took two?!” Darryl replied. “I hope that was the dosage. Please tell me that was the dosage.”
“The label said diet pills, so we really don’t know what the dosage is.”
“And you took two pills,” he said. “We have to get through to the doctor and see if he knows anything about this.”
As soon as he reached Joyce’s condominium, Darryl called Dr. Williams. By that point Delvalle, suspicious of the doctor, had tapped the doctor’s line.
“Hello, this is Dr. Williams.”
“Hi, Doc. This is Darryl Landry, Ms. Torres’ friend.”
“Torres,” Delvalle said as he listened. “Where are you, Ms. Torres…”
“Hello, Darryl,” the doctor answered. “How’s everything?”
“Well, actually, Doc, we’re having a bit of a problem here. I really don’t want to talk about it over the phone. Could you meet us at her place?”
“Sure,” Dr. Williams said. “I think I know what’s wrong. I’m a little fuzzy on the address, though. Could you give it to me again?”
“3740 Camden Road. My truck is parked in the driveway. The blinkers will be on when you get here.’
Dr. Williams made note of the address, and so did Delvalle, unbeknownst to the doctor, Darryl or Joyce. Soon afterward two US Government cars went speeding eastward on Howard Street, past where Rashida waited for her bus.
Continue to chapter three – four – five
Back to chapter one