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Chimera
-Don Martin

Jim was startled awake from a deep sleep one night. He had the very uneasy feeling he wasn't alone. He turned on his bedside light and checked out the room. Nobody there. He checked again. Still nobody there. Hell, I even checked under the bed. Haven't done that since I was a little kid. He tried to go back to sleep, but that was impossible. About 5AM he gave up and went to the the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. He had to be at work in two hours. But there, sitting at his small dining table, was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Deep green eyes, the color of emeralds. Long red hair. A nightgown which hid very little of her charms.

“Uhm … who are you, and how did you get in here?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“I'm not really sure...”

“I am your chimera.”

“My what? I've never heard of one of those.”

“I have been with you since you were born, and I will be with you until the day you die.”

Jim sat down and thought about this for a good long while. “So you are sort of like a guardian angel or some deal like that?”

“No, not a guardian angel. We do different things. Although I would be glad to introduce you to your guardian angel. You do have one of those, you know.”

“I never believed that stuff. What exactly do you do?”

“That's really hard to explain.” Jim was fascinated with her voice. It was so melodic. He had never heard a human speak that way. “First, Jim, as a chimera I am only an illusion. I don't really exist. Except I exist for you. In general, I just sort of look after you. Try to see you are happy most of the time. That kind of thing. You've been an easy client so far.”

“OK, where do you come from?”

“I come from your mind.”

“Look, I'm 47. I've never seen you before. Why are you here now?”

“Jim, you've seen me plenty of times. Thousand of times, in fact. You just never knew what you were looking at. Or you wouldn't accept it. I'm here now because now is the right time.

“I don't think I believe any of this.”

“Well, that is probably enough for now. Go on to work. I'll see you tonight.” And with that the chimera vanished.

Jim went to work, trying not to think of the strange encounter he'd had. Work was very busy, and it wasn't hard to believe it was all just a dream. It did take his mind off things, at least. On the way home from work he stopped at a local diner for dinner. While he was eating he tried to piece the whole encounter together. Much of it was very fuzzy. Jim thought about this. You always forget dreams fairly fast, right? He concluded it was just a dream, and he wouldn't worry about it.

He pulled up to his small house and got the mail. He noticed the newspaper was not on the lawn. He'd have to call the paper and complain about the paperboy again. He opened the front door and set the mail down on the hall table. He looked around and the chimera was there. Sitting on the couch, reading the newspaper. She had changed into sweats and put her long hair into a ponytail, but she was every bit as gorgeous as she was that morning. Jim wasn't sure what to say.

“Anything interesting in the news?”

“Not really. Politics, crime, sports. You humans don't have a very wide range of interests.”

Jim sat down in the chair across from her. “Can you try to explain to me again who or what exactly you are?”

“Sure. As I said, I'm only an illusion. I don't exist. Except for you. I exist for you. Your mind, your imagination, creates me.”

“So if someone else was here, say a friend of mine, they couldn't see you?”

“That depends. They could see me if you wanted them to see me. Otherwise, no, they wouldn't see me.”

Jim walked over and grabbed the chimera's wrist. It was solid, like any other wrist he'd ever touched. “See, you aren't an illusion. You are solid. Just like a regular human person.”

“I am only solid because you want me to be. I don't have to be solid. Watch this.”

Jim's hand fell to his thigh. The chimera was still there. The wrist was still there. But his hand had somehow completely and suddenly dropped right through it. And he had a pretty tight grip.

Jim had no idea what to say. “I'm beat. I think I'll hit the sack early.”

“Go ahead. I'll be up in a while.”

“Where do you people … uh, things … uh, creatures ... sleep?”

“I sleep right next to you.”

“Why haven't I felt you there? Why haven't I seen you there?”

She smiled. “Only because you haven't wanted to.”

Jim had lived with his chimera for about three weeks. They got along really well. Almost too well. The chimera was driving him crazy with lust, and he thought he might be falling in love with it. He knew he needed some professional help, or he would eventually end up in the nuthouse. And there he could sit around in group therapy sessions while everyone talked about their imaginary friends. He wasn't going to do that. He made an appointment.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Wells. Please have seat.”

“Thank you doctor.”

“What brings you here today?”

“It's hard to talk about. Have you ever heard of a chimera?”

“Sure. In ancient Greek mythology a Chimera was a imaginary beast made up of various animals. In psychology a chimera is defined as an 'illusion or a fabrication of the mind.' In popular culture a chimera is an unobtainable dream. Why do you ask?”

“Well, doctor, I have one.”

Both men sat in silence for a good three or four minutes. “Jim, when you say you have a chimera, what do you mean exactly?”

“Doctor, I mean I got one. A chimera. She's told me the same things you just told me. She says she is only a product of my imagination. She says she doesn't exist. She's just an illusion. Except she does exist for me. I think I am losing my mind. We've been together for three weeks now. When I want her to be she can be as solid as any other human woman. Other times I can walk right through her. What is going on?”

Again the men sat in silence for a few minutes. “Jim, let's take the last definition I gave. An unobtainable dream. Now you haven't said, but I'd guess your chimera is a very attractive woman.”

“Yes she is, doctor. The most beautiful woman I've ever seen.”

“I think what is happening here, Jim, is you are fantasizing about your dream woman. You are 47, correct?”

“Yes.”

“And you aren't getting any younger. You probably think you have no chance at a good looking woman at your age. So you just created one.”

“But she exists, doctor. She really does. I've seen her. I've talked to her. She reads the newspaper. She is a real woman.”

“No, she isn't. Listen to what she says, Jim. She says she only exists for you. She even says she is just a product of your imagination. And that's all she is. An imaginary friend. There is nothing real to her.”

“But I have a question, doctor. Can you fall in love with a chimera?”

“I think our time is just about over for today. I'd like to see you in a week. In the meantime, try not to think about your chimera. She only exists when you want her there. Do whatever you need to do to keep your mind off of her.”

“I'll try doctor.”

Jim drove home in a state of confusion. Both the chimera and the doctor were telling him the same thing – she didn't exist. But he knew she existed. He had grabbed her arm and it was ever bit as solid as any human woman he'd ever grabbed. She had to be real. Either that, or he really was going crazy.

His chimera was waiting for him at home. “How was the doctor's appointment today, hon?” He hadn't told her about the appointment. How did she know?

“How did you know about that?”

“I am a product of your mind, remember? I know what you are thinking and doing. I am in there with all your other thoughts.”

“Well, the doc says you don't exist, and I should just ignore you.”

“Is that what you want to do?”

“No, not at all. You're the best thing that has ever happened to me. And … I'm falling in love with you.”

“I'm very flattered, Jim.”

“Do your type, whatever you are, ever fall in love with … humans?”

“It's rare, but it has happened.”

“So I still have a chance?

“Yes.”

“I'm going to bed early. Care to join me?”

“I'll be up in a while. Don't wait up for me.”

Rather than follow the doctor's advice and trying to ignore the chimera Jim became obsessed with the idea of seducing her. He wasn't sure if a chimera and a human could, well, you know. But he figured if she was indeed a product of his imagination he could make her do anything. Even “that.” He made a few abortive attempts at it. She brushed him off each time. She said, again, that she was a chimera. She didn't really exist.

But she was getting really friendly. She referred to him as “hon” and “babe” and “darling.” And the worst, which she sometimes used, “lover.” She often touched him, and stroked his hair. He was starting to think maybe she wasn't a chimera after all. Maybe she was a witch. Witches could put spells on people and that would explain a lot. A witch could make him think the she was a chimera.

The chimera was sitting at the kitchen table the next morning, as usual. She was wearing her usual nightgown which revealed far too much. It was everything Jim could do not to jump her bones right there.

“Let me ask you this. Are you a witch?”

“Not as a witch is strictly defined. I do have some special powers, though.”

“What sorts of special powers?”

“Well, as you know I can be invisible. I can disappear. I can also read minds. And I am immortal. That covers the important things.”

“Immortal, huh?”

That evening Jim and the chimera were sitting on the couch watching TV, eating popcorn, and drinking wine. He reached to her and tentatively grabbed her hand. She would sometime hold hands with him. Sadly, he knew that holding hands was about as intimate as they'd ever get. Her hand was delicate and warm. Jim had decided something. He was going to settle this one way or the other, tonight. He just couldn't live with the stress of not knowing any more. If she didn't respond to him he would show the chimera the door. However you do that with am imaginary creature.

So Jim boldly wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her tight. She was all solid, a 100% woman. His lips were less than an inch from hers. Should I do it? What the hell! He softly put his lips on hers and gave her a gentle kiss. She responded with more passion. Before long their lips and tongues were wrapped and wound around each other. Jim could not take it, and he drew back. The chimera looked him directly in the eyes and smiled. “You see, Jim, I am real. I always have been.”


 
 
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The 'Suckerman Chronicles 1 – The History

We were laying on the warm grass, staring up at the clear moonlit sky.  It was a warm night, but not overly so.  My 'sucker asked, “Why do you always start us out this way?” 

“Well, a few reasons.  I am the author and you are only a character.”

 “Yeah, you authors think you you are big important men, like God or something, and can control people.” 

I replied, “First, I am God.  I created you, and I could easily write you out. You would disappear.”

“You wouldn't really do that to a person, would you?”

“First, you aren't a person under any ordinary definition of the word.  Second, starting out this way is our trademark.  My readers expect us to start out this way.”
“But why can't we start out someplace interesting?”
“Like the time I started us out on the beach in Tahiti?  You got so sunburned you bitched about it for weeks.”

“So, it was real hot and I got real red.”
“Or the time I started us off in Alaska?  I thought some mountain climbing might be fun.  All you did was complain about how cold it was.”
“Yeah, but it was really, really cold.”
I leaned over and scratched my 'sucker on the head.  He likes that.  “Look, 'suckerman, you are a character.  You've been a character for 17 years.  That's all you are.  We do what I write us to do.  You have no real input into it.”

“You love her, don't you?”

I considered this.  My love life was fascinating for my 'sucker, and he often asked me about it.  “I'm not really sure yet.  We've only been dating for a few weeks.”

“Well, I mean, I mean, you have slept with her, right?”
“Yes I have.  How did you know that?”
“I snuck into the bedroom when neither of you would notice.”

Normally I would be angry at this, but this is just the sort of thing my 'sucker does.  “So now you are a voyeur?”

“Sort of.  But a professional voyeur.  I can be really quiet when I need to be.”

My 'sucker said, “But let's say you dated for a long time.  You'd probably fall in love with her, correct? I think you probably would.”

“I don't know.  I can't predict those sorts of things.  Falling in love is not just something you decide to do.  It either happens or it doesn't.  It's beyond my control.”

My 'sucker looked me directly in the eye.  “Was she any good in bed?”

“Actually, she was very good.”

“That right there is the reason you need to fall in love with her.  For the sex.”

I petted my sucker again.  “I don't know about 'suckers, but for human people the sex is only a small part of falling in love.  You have to actually like each other first.”

We lay on the grass in silence for a good 15 minutes.  Then I asked, “Have you ever been in love 'suckerman?”

“Not really.  I am hideous.  None of the ladies want to even look at me.  I am a bachelor for life, I guess.”

“Not if you keep trying.  Somewhere out there will be a lady 'sucker who will find you attractive.”

“I haven't found one yet that will even look at me.  Without throwing up.”

“You'll find one eventually who will look past your, well, “appearance.”

“Yeah, maybe.”


And this is how it goes with the 'sucker.  We talk about issues of the day, normally my love life.  He asks lots of questions.  I try to answer them.  He hasn't really changed much in 17 years.  I actually enjoy these talks with my 'sucker.  He is, by any account, hideous.  But he's intelligent, and he can sometimes have a decent sense of humor.  I was not going to give him up.

The next morning we got up and left to fly the sign.  Being unemployed I fly a “will work for food” sign on a local streetcorner.   I always take the 'sucker with me.  He is the attraction.  People have never seen an animal as unusual as he is.  So they all will slow down and take a look.  Many will stop to get a good look.  If they stop I've got them, and I ask them for a donation for the orphans.  I use my standard speech.  “Good morning, ma'am.  We are collecting today for the The Sacred Children of the Blessed Virgin Orphanage.  Would you open up your heart and donate to these poor, precious children?”  That almost always gets me at least a buck.  Sometimes a fiver.  The money doesn't go to any orphans, of course.  It goes to me.  But I did pick up a rather large sign with pictures of unhappy children on it, and they look like they are orphans.  My revenue went way up after that.  I can clear about $50 most days.  With that I can feed myself and the 'sucker.  The 'sucker won't eat dog or cat food.  He says he'll only eat people food.  That's because he really does think he's a person.  Except, of course, he isn't.

We were sitting on the curb, flying the sign.  “Hey, where do you want to go on vacation this year?”

“My 'sucker thought about this.  “I don't know, how about San Francisco?  We've never been there.”

“Interesting idea.  And an interesting place.  Lots of museums and galleries.  But you know what they say about it, right?”
“Haven't heard much about the place.”
“The saying is 'The coldest winter I've ever spent was the summer I spent in San Francisco.'  They have strange weather there.  It can be July and you still need a jacket.”

“Can we at least take a plane this time?”

I had explained this to my 'sucker many times.  “No, we can't.”
“Why not?”
“We have discussed this before.  First, if you stand on your back legs you are as tall as a grown man.  Second, you are hideous.  Third, you just have a dangerous look.  Like you want to eat people.  Nobody is comfortable being around you.  No airline in the world is going to fly you anywhere.  Even as cargo.”

“So we are taking the car again?”

“Yup.”

“Can I at least pick out the music?”

I was afraid of this.  The 'sucker has horrible taste in music.  “We'll see.  Maybe we can take turns.”

“But when we stop for snacks can I at least go in and help you pick them out?”

“Not a chance.”

“Why not?”

“Same as with the airplane.  You scare people.  Remember the time they called the cops on you?”

“Sure do.”

“I had to claim you were my pet.  Deputy said you were the damn strangest looking dog he had ever seen.”

“That's because I am not a dog.  I don't throw in with them either.”

We worked the corner for the better part of the day.  Business was good.  About 3PM we hit our $50 goal.  Normally that's where I call it, but today was such a nice day.  I figured with another two hours, rush hours especially, we could probably claim about $70.  Not a bad payday.  Not a record – that is $124.  But that was a 12-hour sign flying marathon.

“Tell me again how you found me.”
I said, “I've explained this many times.”

“Yeah but it's a good story. I enjoy it.”

“Well I was downtown.  I forget the reason I was there because I rarely go there.  I hate it.  But there was this old guy flying a sign for money, just like we do.  His sign said “Unemployed Author – Will Work For Publishing Contract.”

“I remember those times when I belonged to him.  We were really poor.”

“Anyhow, since I was also a writer I introduced myself.  We got to talking.  Turns out he was some sort of fancy-smancy magazine writer.  He got fired for submitting a story he didn't write under his name.  Plagiarism will get you every time.”

“That it will.  That it will.”

“Anyhow, I asked about you.  He said you were a leftover character and he had no use for you because he wasn't writing any more.  He was going to take you to the 'Sucker Pound and turn you in.”
“They don't really have those things, do they?”

“Not in the real world.  But I could write a book and create such a thing.”

My 'sucker looked worried.  “You would never turn me in, would you?”

“I am sorely tempted every time you ask me about my girlfriends.”

“Hey, what do you want for dinner?”

My 'sucker answered, “Mexican?”

“How about the Grasa de Cerdo?”

“Sounds good.  I've never been there.”

“I'll have to brush you out though.”

When I brush his hair he can almost pass for a dog.  Just a really big dog.  I put a collar on him to finish the illusion of being a pet.  He hates the collar, but I explain it is necessary.  When people do ask me about him I tell them he is a very rare breed, a Cabra Escurridor.  I explain they are limited to Latin American countries, and there are only a few of them in the US.  That usually satisfies their curiosity.  We walked to the restaurant and got our usual stares.  Once there the hostess greeted us.  “Two for dinner?”
“Yes ma'am, a booth please.”

She showed us to a booth, sort of well hidden in the back.  They obviously didn't want the other patrons to see the 'sucker.  My sucker climbed into the seat across from me.  The waitress showed up and handed me a menu.  “Ma'am, could you bring a menu for my friend here?”

“Sir, he is a dog.”

“That may be, but he knows how to read.”

“Very well.”

She returned with another menu and handed it to my 'sucker.  He perused the menu carefully.  “I'm not sure what I want, what's good here?”

I said, “The #7 Enchilada Combo Platter is outstanding.”

“I'll have that then.”

The waitress returned and I placed our orders.  I also ordered two Dos Equi's.  “Sir, I will have to see his ID or I can't serve him.”

“He's a dog for Christ's sakes.  He doesn't have any ID.”

“Is he over 21?”

“I don't know, he's adopted.  I think so.”

“OK then.  Just don't tell my boss or I'll get in trouble for this.”

Dinner was served and we ate.  He was amazingly skillful with a knife and fork.  We talked about our upcoming vacation to San Francisco.  My 'sucker was really excited by it.  He loves going new places.  But he got serious.  “Why don't you ever write me any fun things to do?”

“Like what sort of fun things?”

“Like chasing cattle around.”

“Look 'suckerman, nobody is going to read a story about you chasing cattle around.  I am the author, remember?”
“Yeah, I got that.  But how about just one small scene of me chasing cattle around?”

“I'll think about it.”

The San Francisco vacation went well.  My 'sucker didn't draw much attention.  People just thought he was some sort of big strange dog.  But you have to understand San Francisco some.  They are not normal people there.  They are a bit off level even on their best days.  Seeing a huge dog is no more unusual that seeing a guy in public only wearing a jockstrap.  We hit the usual tourist spots, took a bay tour on a boat, the usual stuff.  We also went to a lot of art galleries.  To my surprise my 'sucker had a good appreciation for art.  Just one more thing I've learned about him.

I was getting tired, and it was time for bed.  I led my 'sucker over to his burrow under the porch.  He asked, “Can't I ever sleep inside even for one night?”

“No, you can't.”

“Why not?”

“Because you will want  to sleep in my bed with me.  The only strange things I want in my bed are women.”

“You're being selfish.”

“And I'm also being the author.”

With that I gave him a kiss on the snout and ushered him into his den under the porch.