Channeling Morpheus

by jordan castillo price


The Michael Interview

for JCP News, October 2009

PaybackCarolyn: This is a first for me. I'll be doing one of these mysterious interviews -- I've never seen the finished product -- with someone I've never met. I can't say Doug was thrilled when I told him I was going out so late and it wasn't work-related. But that's the way it goes. I've watched other couples weave elaborate excuses and counter-excuses, but Doug and I have no choice but to say, "I don't like that," and "Okay." I was told to look for a goth with long hair, so he shouldn't be hard to spot. All the young men in this cafe are ironically retro with horn-rimmed glasses and vintage shirts. Wait a minute, here's someone getting out of a van that's probably him.

Michael: Am I late? Sorry.

Carolyn: I've been waiting here an hour and a half. But now you're here, so we might as well do this. Would you like a coffee? I've been told someone's picking up the tab. But no specifics other than that. Miss? Another peppermint tea for me. And whatever he'd like.

Michael: Do you have anything with whipped cream?

Waitress: The caramel mocha comes with it. But I can put whipped cream on anything else you want. Just name it.

Michael: Yeah, the caramel mocha. That sounds good. And two of those big cookies in the jar by the cash register. And any brownies?

Waitress: Ooh. A sweet tooth. Sure.

Michael: And a brownie.

Carolyn: Are you always such a shameless flirt? Never mind, that's not on my list. You just remind me of my best friend.

Michael: I wasn't flirting.

Carolyn: You were, and you know it -- it's that bedroom-eyes thing you do. I see someone named Wild Bill in a lot of these questions. I take it he's significant.Swarm

Michael: He's my boyfriend.

Carolyn: Right. And vampires -- there's a lot of vampire stuff here.

Michael: Yeah.

Carolyn: Care to elaborate?

Michael: I don't think you'll believe me. You're not the type.

Carolyn: I've heard a lot of things. Try me.

Michael: You're really not the type.

Carolyn: Look, we should probably establish some sort of premise to this conversation, otherwise you're wasting my time. What's with all the vampire references? You think you're a vampire -- is that it?

Michael: Me? No. Not's the food. I wouldn't be able to eat this if I was a vampire.

Waitress: Okay, one caramel mocha and two cookies. And here's your brownie. I warmed it up for you.

Michael: Thanks. It looks great.

Carolyn: How many jars of whipped cream did she pile on there? Catch that before it slides.

Michael: You want some?

Carolyn: Of course I do -- anyone who says different is just trying to be polite. But I can't mainline sugar like I could in college.

Michael: I'll split the brownie with you. It's warm.

Carolyn: Maybe a small piece. No, smaller than that.

Michael: Good, right?

Heaven SentCarolyn: It's heartburn waiting to happen. But, yes. It's one of the better brownies I've tasted.

Michael: And it's warm.

Carolyn: So what is it you do, exactly?

Michael: When?

Carolyn: For a job.

Michael: Oh. Right. What is it I *do.* It's um...complicated. I'm kind of between jobs. The last place I worked was an animal hospital.

Carolyn: "Kind of" between jobs?

Michael: I imagine I'll go back to work when I see something I want to do.

Carolyn: It says here you're twenty-two and you've never gone to college. Why is that?

Michael: I've been busy. Traveling.

Carolyn: Mostly true. Okay -- but will you consider enrolling? Whoever pipes these questions in seems to think you'll do well.

Michael: I don't know. I guess it's possible. I like learning new things...but I feel like...I don't know.

Carolyn: You do know. You feel like what?

Michael: I don't really fit in.

Carolyn: Does it have something to do with this question -- You've said you know there's something 'broken' inside of you. Did you feel like this before Scary Mary was murdered or was it her death that damaged you?

Michael: I said that? I wouldn't say that.

Carolyn: I'm sorry for your loss.

Michael: Did I really say that? I was probably just repeating Wild Bill. It sounds like something he might have said to me. But he's dramatic that way. He has a tendency to embellish things. He's an artist.

Carolyn: But did the death of your friend cause a change in you?

Michael: How can I answer that? She is dead. The "me" that I'd be now if it weren't for that -- impossible to say. If Mary were still alive, yeah, I probably would be a different person. But it wasn't her murder, I don't think, that made me feel like I'd woken up in an alternate universe. It was the way everyone else reacted to it. Their helplessness, their denial. The way everyone seemed to want to take the easy way out rather than solving the problem. I think, yeah, that was when I realized that most people suck. They're stupid and they're lazy, and they like it that way. They like being blind. Because the blinder they are, the easier it is for them to ignore the problems that they're too cowardly to do anything about.

Carolyn: Do you have any regrets?

Michael: No...I don't know. I try not to think about it. I can't go back and change the past, so what good would it do me?

Carolyn: And if you'd done anything differently, you might not have met Wild Bill.

Michael: Yes. Exactly.

Carolyn: So tell me about him. What is it you find sexy about him?

Michael: Wild Bill...there's so much going on in there. Sometimes he's like a million miles away, and you can tell he's lost in his memories. And the next minute, when he's focused on you, it's like you're the center of the universe.

Carolyn: Can you talk some more about how you've figured out how to interpret what Wild Bill says, and how you figure out what his actions mean?

Michael: It would've been a lot easier if he came with an instruction manual, but no one really does, do they? It took me a while to figure out -- and I know it sounds cliche -- but a lot of times when something's bothering him, it's not me. It's him. Not that he's into head games or anything -- I don't think either of us are, and that's why we're so good together -- but he's deep. Really deep.

He's really smart, too. He reads the newspaper from the first page to the last, even the boring stuff, and he remembers all these really obscure political things from the eighties. Plus...I don't think you can see it from here, out there in the van...he's so handsome. He has such great eyes...and pretty lips -- can you see from here?

Channeling Morpheus for Scary MaryCarolyn: Yes. He's good-looking, but a bit young for my taste. People seem very interested in him -- maybe too interested. These questions get pretty personal.

Michael: That's okay. I don't mind.

Carolyn: Be sure to let me know if they cross the line.

Michael: Okay.

Carolyn: What's your favorite sexual position?

Michael: weren't kidding. They're all great.

Carolyn: I thought you said you didn't play head games. I told you to let me know if you didn't want to answer, so why lie about it?

Michael: Well, you know. It's...society expects men to be a certain way. And if you're not that way, and maybe you like certain...things...that makes you "the woman." And that's not really how I see myself.

Carolyn: You hardly come off as masculine. You're wearing eyeliner.

Michael: No, I know. That's different, though. Plenty of musicians wear makeup to get women. I like the way it looks.

Carolyn: In regards to the sex...let's put it this way: is there anything that Wild Bill could do to you in bed that you wouldn't like? Do you have limits?

Michael: Everyone has limits. Bill knows I'm not into women -- not *that* way, I mean -- but if he really wanted to be with a girl, I'd be okay with that. I wouldn't feel right about joining in, though. It would be weird.

Carolyn: So you have an open relationship.

Michael: Sometimes. Yes.

Carolyn: I don't get that. And believe me, it's been explained to me. Numerous times. I'm told it means I'm applying my heterosexual notions to a gay culture I can't viscerally understand.

Michael: That's...that's harsh. No, don't think about it that way. It's more like this -- when I see someone grooving on Wild Bill, I get to enjoy him twice, through my eyes, and through that other person's eyes. It's like the brownie. When I share it with you, we can both love it, and that makes it even better.

Carolyn: But then there's less for you.

Michael: You hardly had any, just a taste.

Carolyn: Sorry. I can't bridge the way I feel about my husband to the way I feel about dessert.

Michael: I'm not saying it's for everybody. That's just how it is for us.

Carolyn: What does this question mean -- will you go back to hunting vampires? Hunting -- as in, with a weapon? Hunting down people? And then what?

Michael: They're's a figure of speech. A game. Kind of like, uh, geocaching.

Carolyn: No it isn't.

Waitress: How's that brownie?

Michael: It was awesome.

Waitress: I knew you'd love it. They're so good when they're warm.

Michael: So...are you busy? You want to come and hang out with me and my boyfriend?

ManikinCarolyn: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Literal vampires? Or psychic vampires?

Waitress: Oh, that's your...?

Michael: He's way hot, right?

Waitress: Well....

Michael: I really think he'd like to meet you.

Waitress: I...I'm supposed to be on 'til eleven.

Michael: It's only another half hour, and there's hardly anyone here. No one will care. Seriously, you're totally his type.

Waitress: I don't normally...he really is cute...

Michael: I know. And he's a really great kisser.

Waitress: ...I'll go grab my coat.

Carolyn: So that's it? You're just...leaving?

Michael: It's only a game. Like geocaching. Understand? A game. That's all I have to say.

Clearly, the subject was lying. I need to check with Jacob and see if he thinks I should file a report. I'll be following up on the young lady who works here tomorrow night to make sure nothing's happened to her -- though obviously she's an adult and it's none of my business who she wants to sleep with. The disturbing part was that I felt something, hard to describe, when Michael was trying to convince me that he didn't think he was actually hunting vampires. My guess would be that he's some sort of externally expressed empath, mid-level, at least. Likely delusional, but intelligent enough to pass himself off as having a solid grasp on reality, at least for the duration of a superficial conversation.

And there's no last name on these questions. Just Michael. Great.

This is a deeply disturbed Carolyn Brinkman, signing off for JCP News.



Ready for more? Buy Payback at JCP Books, or buy Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary (Channeling Morpheus #1-5) at (outside the US? See this list of booksellers in the sidebar.)

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