Something in the way she moves...

She causes me to think in Beatles songs, which is pretty weird, but not really. You know, considering.

I don't seem to have any control over it, but the Seventh Era in the journey of this dead guy may have started. It may have started this past Sunday in the waking world, but it may have started much earlier in the dreams of Rancho Nuevo.

"What is it that you want? Retirement will eventually bore you into complete insanity."

"I want to go back to the beginning, to the first time I met Tina and begin the entire cycle again. This time I want to do it right."

"I thought you had no regrets?"

"I don't have regrets. Everything had to play out the way it did. One move caused another and without making all the moves that were made the journey wouldn't have taken me... here."

"To retirement? Why wish to go back if you wouldn't change anything and if you enjoy retirement so much?"

"I can't explain it. I haven't been able to remember my dreams the way I used to. There is something missing."

"You just want to have the experience again?"

"But then I might change something and--"

"You'll figure out what it is you want, and then you'll see it the way you did then."

Isn't it good. Norwegian wood.

What? Did I say that? Did I really just think that. Wow. That is so inappropriate.

Her majesty's a pretty nice girl but she doesn't have a lot to say.

I cannot hear a single thing she is telling me. Here I am having brunch the Sunday before Christmas with my mother and two of her friends, we are being waited on by the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life and I cannot hear a single thing she is saying. I think she just asked for my order. I couldn't remember what I wanted to order so I just got what my mother ordered. I could hear my mother order, so I haven't gone deaf. I just can't hear what this woman is saying. All I hear are Beatles songs.

The whole room takes on a strange shape and seems to drift in and out of reality. This happened in the same way the first time I met Tina, except back then in 1997 I nearly knocked my drink off the table. I think I managed to knock something onto the floor that day, but it was so long ago I can't remember what. What I do remember was that everything took on a strange unreality and my date that night found me far from lucid the rest of the night.

What the hell is going on here?

Nothing's gonna change my world...

This is not what you think it might be. This woman is exactly what I would build, if I had the right tools and materials, to build the perfect woman. At least in the physical sense, but I don't know anything about her, well, other than she makes me think in Beatles songs, because I can't hear a word she says.

"Are they playing The Beatles in here?"

My mother looks at me as if I might be completely mad. "No, they aren't playing The Beatles." There wasn't any music playing at all, except in my head. This has never happened before.

I went up to pay the check when we were done. I paid the woman at the register and as I waited for her to make change, I looked up to see the haunted waitress in the kitchen. She saw me look at her, she looked back, did a very strange double-take and I found myself looking back at her to see if she was still looking back at me.

Got to get you into my life...

"I guess you didn't hear me," said the woman at the register who was holding out my change.

"Oh, sorry. Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas to you."

Bah humbug. I am not walking into this again, not now that I'm old and have had the crap beaten out of me over the last fifteen years. There is no way I am setting myself up as a lunatic in this little restaurant that just happens to be down the road within walking distance of my apartment. In fact, there isn't a restaurant closer to my apartment than this one. And this place is only open for breakfast and lunch, which is far too convenient since I work third shift. This is a trap. And I don't even know her name, because I can't seem to hear her when she talks. The Beatles sing over her. Rude bastards. I wonder what her voice sounds like.

Four days later I am unable to stop thinking about this waitress and humming Beatles songs. And the intensely vivid dreams have returned, with a fury I have not known in fifteen years.

The ancient card dealer who showed me the sequence of three queens two decades ago is back. He sits in front of his rickety old card table with all three queens face up. "What do you do when the hand has been played out?" he asks me. I stare back at him and he sweeps all three cards off the table with a single furious motion. "You deal a new hand," he answers and throws the queen of diamonds on table with a grin. I look down at it and there is something I notice right away. This queen isn't from the same deck as the others. It looks completely different.

The girl with the kaleidoscope eyes?

"I'm retired, but I still do my job. I've been working with teenaged girls since 2005, and I do what I can to help them help themselves find a better path in life. I don't have it in me anymore."

"You play without risk. There is no challenge in that."

"I wouldn't say no risk. Sometimes they break my heart. Sometimes they make me laugh."

"Are you afraid of failure?"

"No, that isn't it at all. In a lot of ways I'd rather fail than succeed. You know what success does to my ego."

"Afraid of looking the fool?"

The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still.

"I love looking the fool."

"Then what is it you are afraid of? When you've seen beyond yourself then you may find peace of mind is waiting there.

"Wait a minute, that was The Beatles..."

Skip back. Skip back. Skip back.

"Get back?"

"Skip back."

Yeah, you always end these dreams with something annoyingly enigmatic, don't you? Jackass.

Someone get me a shot of tequila and a rubber chicken, stat. This time I will prove them wrong. They are dead wrong. And there is no way I am going to skip back to this place. I'll get someone to drive me.

Baby, you can drive my car.

Shut up.

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