The meeting went a lot better than I had expected. Even if Jeffrey had chosen people he had thought were open-minded, my years working in criminal psychology had taught me that people were usually open-minded up until their personal well-being was in the balance; then you could almost hear the doors of their mind closing with a loud bang. It was kind of scary.
But these people were willing to give me a shot. They listened to my story and decided that, until proven wrong, they would believe me. Every member of the team had even wanted to see this ability of mine first hand.
“That’s great!” Talya said. “It means that you don’t have anything to worry about. The chances that you incriminate yourself on almost one hundred crimes, some of which happened before you were born, is so minimal that you can sleep soundly as of tonight.”
I wasn’t so sure – sleep would probably elude me. The fact that these people believed me, or at least were willing to believe me, and would now start working with me, made this ability even more real. It was scary. I tried explaining this to Talya, and, to give her some credit, she did take the time to listen to me for a whole minute until she put up her hands in defeat.
“Enough, Sean,” she said, sounding weary. “This ability isn’t going anywhere. You are going to have to learn to live with it. I’m tired of raising two kids alone! Just accept it, and make the most of it.”
She left the kitchen, where we had been working on supper – for which I was thankful for. Cooking alone was a great way for me to order my thoughts.
Talya was right. I had to get over myself. Fighting against the inevitable was taking time and energy away from the most important things in my life, my children. I might as well make the most of this ability and, thanks to Jeffrey, I probably could. The great part about it is that I do have a 100% hit ratio; whatever I see will be real, and will help the cops catch criminals of all sorts. In the psychic detective world this is quite a feat. Never before has anyone had anywhere close to a perfect ratio, and never before had psychic detectives been able to help law enforcement so consistently and efficiently. I don’t give them vague information – I give them descriptions almost as good as a photograph.
“Let’s make a cop nook,” I told Talya when she walked back into the kitchen half an hour later.
“What?” It was clear she had expected anything but that.
But it made sense; it was going to be a physical manifestation of my acceptance of this ability and making the most of it. Even if she didn’t like the idea, she would understand what it meant. “Well, since this ability doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, the more we adapt to it, the more it’ll become a normal part of life. That will help the kids think of it as something normal, rather than something to worry about.”
“They want to keep an eye on me so that they can come with me while I gallivant around town. But they can’t keep posting the poor guys in a car outside the house. It’s ridiculous, plus sometimes I have gone through the back door. So let’s have them inside the house. We have that lovely space between the kitchen and the dining room we have always wanted to transform into some form of breakfast nook; let’s make a ‘cop nook’ instead.”
She looked up at me with a smile. “I like your idea.”
So much so that the very next afternoon, the kids, Talya and I were at a giant furniture store finding the pieces we would need for our cop nook. We bought a small table, six chairs (so the cop could have breakfast with the family), cushions, a small TV and a DVD player. We also went by a bookstore and stocked up on some books, magazines and less child-friendly DVDs.
Once I had decided to accept this ability as part of my life, things seemed to suddenly fall into place. The police station called and offered to put me on the payroll on a per-dream basis. Initially I thought to refuse. It didn’t make sense to me to charge them for something I would be going through anyhow.
“I think we should accept,” Talya disagreed with me.
“Well the dreams do take their toll on you. Were they to break you before the kids are grown up, it would be nice to have the extra money to take care of you while raising the kids as a single mother.”
I hadn’t realised just how much thought Talya had put into this entire situation until this very moment.
I reached over and pulled her in my arms. “I didn’t think about it this way,” I admitted, hugging her tightly. “And I never knew how worried you were about this.”
“How can I not be?” Talya said. I could feel the tension throughout her entire body; it was as if she was resisting my touch. It was unsettling – she had never done that, even during our first date (I had tried the stretch and put-arm-around-her-shoulder trick while watching the movie and she had settled right against my shoulder, as if she had been waiting for me to do just that).
“I’m sorry I have been so wrapped into myself,” I murmured. “I haven’t been handling it well, have I?”
She stayed silent for a few moments before sighing. “Actually, you have,” she admitted. “I’m happy we got help, because I don’t think either of us would have been able to go on much longer.”
“Probably not,” I said, hugging her tighter, touched and a little scared as I always was when I glimpsed just how vulnerable Talya could be. “But we’ll be OK. I’m going to get the same type of counselling that new officers get to learn to deal with these things; maybe you should too.”
“Maybe,” she murmured.
“And just knowing that someone is always going to be here, watching over me, is a huge relief.”
“It’s like a free private security system!”
I felt her smiling against my chest. “Hopefully it won’t get to our heads or anything.”
I kissed the top of her head. “The other thing I’m really relieved about is that Jeffrey was adamant about privacy. The only people who are ever going to know about this are him, his boss, us, the guys at work and the three who are part of the team.”
“I thought they would use you as a political pawn,” Talya admitted after a few moments of silence.
“Me too,” I said. “But Jeffrey says that the increasing ratio of solved cases will speak for themselves, especially that they come without a substantial increase in expenditures. He said they wouldn’t be broadcasting my ability to the general public for two simple reasons. First of all, our security; secondly, the police doesn’t want to be inundated by people claiming to have the same abilities. If they had a real ability, they would find their way to them, just like I have.”
“Maybe we should ask for a raise,” Talya said.
“Especially since I won’t be getting any credit,” I answered.
She looked up at me. “Does it bother you?”
“A little,” I said. “I think I would look good in tights and a cape.”
Talya, bless her heart, understood me immediately. She started laughing. “You would, actually.”
“Thank you,” I said, smug.
“Well, we are getting another great thing out of this,” she said.
“We are going to have it easy for Halloween.”
While I did look forward to the extra sense of security at having a cop stay every night at me house, I was particularly looking forward to working with one of them. During the initial meeting I had had, Steve had struck me as a particularly brilliant and open-minded person. He also intimidated me in that while he seemed to be extremely fair, he wouldn’t take any nonsense from anyone. Thankfully I was innocent – that meant that I would never get on his bad side.
I invited Steve to join us a little earlier than his scheduled shift so that he could settle in and meet the family. It had been a little hard explaining the situation to Patrick and Shona without scaring them, but Talya and I managed to do just that. They were now both quite excited at meeting the man who would baby-sit their father – a concept they found wildly amusing.
“I hope he won’t mind being downgraded to a baby-sitter,” Talya muttered after trying for the umpteenth time to make the kids stop referring to the cop on duty as a baby-sitter.
Thankfully, Steve had a sense of humour as well as a great culture when it comes to children’s movie.
“I’m like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop,” he told the kids, who squealed with delight.
“That doesn’t mean you are to run off into the night,” Talya said with a frown.
“Absolutely not,” Steve said. He winked at the kids. “It’s your dad that will have to do that, since I’m here for him.”
Which, of course, sent the kids into gales of laughter.
Steve was amazed and delighted by the ‘cop nook’ we had prepared.
“Of course we will adjust it as we go along,” Talya, ever the perfect hostess, said.
Steve shook his head, still in a daze. “This is already fantastic,” he said. “Thank you.”
“It’s the least we could do,” I said.
Steve grinned. “Thank goodness you didn’t do more; I’d be tempted to let you walk out alone just to stay here!”
“Hopefully you’ll decide to move in instead,” Talya said, smiling at him.
“Although I’m sure the two of you would be delightful hosts, I’d rather stay in my little bungalow,” Steve smiled back at her. “I’m a bit of a handyman; my hobby is to buy a run-down house, improve it – not too much, mind you, just enough to make it liveable again – and resell it.”
The conversation went on, casual and comfortable, until Talya and I excused ourselves. We made sure Steve was comfortable – “Any more comfortable and I won’t do my job!” – before heading upstairs.
“I like him,” Talya said as I slipped into bed.
“Which is a good thing, considering he is spending the night in our house,” I retorted.
She smiled. “I hope the others are just as nice.”
Talya’s breathing evened out in a couple of minutes. I used to be just like her – able to fall sleep within minutes of lying down – before this whole sleepwalking thing started. I tried falling asleep but, after sheep number three hundred did a little jig for me before jumping over the fence, I gave up on sleep.
I almost automatically headed over to my office when I remembered Steve’s presence in the house. After a brief hesitation, I decided to join him.
“Not able to sleep?” he greeted me.
I grinned. “What gave it away?”
“The fact that you aren’t sleep-walking?” he said, dead-panned.
I laughed. “You are even smarter than I thought.” I gestured to the table. “Mind if I join you?”
“Not at all,” he said. “I insist you make yourself at home.”
I grinned again as I sat down. “I see you are reading my files,” I said, noticing the papers in front of him.
He smiled. “This is all still pretty fresh, so the drive to do homework is high.”
“I know the feeling. The first couple of events were a little hard, but then for a couple of months I was getting this almost sick high.”
Steve closed the file in front of him and leaned forward. “What did you do?”
I shrugged. “Nothing, really. I mean, what could I do? I didn’t know at the time these were real things I was seeing. I thought it was a little like watching movies or visualising crimes in my head as I work a case study. So I became a bit of a cynic, with dark humour and a snappy wit that gives my wife headaches.”
Steve chuckled. “I can imagine.”
“Unfortunately, it gives some people the wrong impression, even my wife,” I continued thoughtfully. “I try to take it as a joke, so that it doesn’t affect me as much as it could… And people think I’m taking it well, and so they don’t give me as much support as I need.”
Steve drummed his fingers once, then twice. “Your plan kind of backfired, didn’t it?”
“Yeah, it kind of did.”
“If you don’t mind me saying so,” I shook my head, “then let me say that you shouldn’t care what people think – except for your wife and Jeffrey, who is your principal investigator. They need to know the whole truth. The rest of us are unimportant. Your sanity is much more important – you do have a family to think of. If people are too stupid to realize what you are going through, then tough for them.”
“Not many people know about this,” I said. “And those who do are close to me or work with me. Like you.”
Steve slowly nodded. “I understand.”
“It’s hard to accept that close colleagues don’t always take you seriously.”
“Maybe you’re expecting too much from people who can’t possibly understand what you are going through.”
“As for me and the others… I can’t talk for the others, but me… Let me just say that for now, there is no reason for me not to believe you,” Steve said. “But there is no reason for me to believe you – yet. I have to admit that I am not a full believer; perhaps when – if – I see you going through a walking dream, then I’ll have more reason to believe you.”
“That’s fair – and that’s all I ask for.”