Charlene sat bolt upright in the bed; she was covered with sweat and filled with terror. It had been the dream again. She looked to her right and assured herself that there was no one there. She looked to the lighted clock and saw that it was 2:24 am. She knew that sleep was over. She never went back to sleep after the dream.
She pushed herself back and leaned against the headboard, trying to figure out what it meant. Who was James Howard Kirkpatrick? Why did he go by three names? Who was Silver? Silver? Obviously a stage name for the stripper in her dream, but who were these people and why did they come to her in her sleep?
She pushed the bed clothes back and grabbed her old purple sweatpants off the back of the chair. She loved these sweatpants, soft, faded, baggy, and warm; she wished she could wear them all the time. When coupled with the lime green robe, she was in her favorite morning attire. She stopped in the bathroom and then went down the hall to the kitchen to flick the switch on the coffee maker.
She found the end of a quart of milk in the fridge, sniffed it, and poured it in the sink. Grabbing a fresh one she opened it and took a swig right out of the container. This was one of the perks of living alone. She switched on her television to check the local news while she waited for the coffee to be done.
She thought about the dream. She had been having this dream off and on since high school. She was never a participant, strictly an observer. She worried about Silver. She thought James Howard Kirkpatrick had the capacity for evil. She thought he might be a stalker, but what could she do about it? It was just a dream.
Lately the dream had been more frequent. Twice in the last three weeks. What did that mean?
The dream slowly faded as the caffeine took hold and she distracted herself with other things. Her TV news told her that one lane on the freeway bridge was going to be closed for two days while crews worked on it. This weekend the library was having a used book sale. Some people had died, some had been born. Some people had gotten married, some divorced. The weather forecast was for more of the same. She played a couple hands of solitaire and looked at some e-mailed photos of her sister’s kids.
She whiled away the morning and then treated herself to a long soak in the tub. By the time she got dressed and went in to the office Hugo was already there.
“Hey, Hugo,” she sang as she came in, “how’s things?”
Hugo stood and hurried over to her, “Charlene, there’s a guy in the conference room waiting for you. He was in the parking lot when I got in this morning and he asked for you. I gave him some coffee and left him alone.”
“What’s he want?” she asked. “Who is he?”
Hugo fumbled in his shirt pocket and pulled out a card. “He gave me this.”
Charlene glanced down at the business card and read:
James Howard Kirkpatrick
United States Department of Justice
“He wouldn’t tell me what it was about. He wanted to wait for you.”
Charlene pursed he lips and blew out a long breath, as if she’d been holding it for a long time.
“Well, this can’t be good,” she said, “Well, come on, Hugo. Let’s go see what he wants.”
And they said it couldn’t be done! I even managed to work in April’s Prompt too!