That night, as she was in bed examining the book she had received from Edwin Duddle, Mary looked up and watched Sean undress. His body still held its youthful appearance. Sean's ‘aura’ was diffuse—not just around his head, as if it was a halo. His skin was marred only by the large scar in his lower torso and a smaller one above his heart. Mary let her mind wander to the events which led up to his disfigurement. The small scar was a memento of the relationship he had with his previous girlfriend Molly while the larger one was caused by an unknown assailant at Senator Clarkson’s fundraiser in Virginia. Sean had undergone a stint in physical therapy after his stabbing and he still did exercises to strengthen his core. Mary could ‘see’ what seemed to be ‘folds’ in Sean’s aura, centered above the scars. In her continued state of heightened awareness these aberrations held a special interest. When Sean was completely naked, Mary put the book down and got out of the bed.
“Come here. I want to touch you.”
“Anytime,” said Sean, smiling.
Mary placed her hand on his chest and touched the smaller scar. She immediately received a mental image of Molly’s face as her teeth sank into Sean’s flesh. As she continued, tracing her finger over the line in his skin, Mary was able to ‘scan’ the event—even to the point of being able to see Sean and Molly together in that squalid motel room. Mary began to recite the dialog between Molly and Sean:
“Oooh! You look delicious!”Astonished, Sean looked at Mary and shrank back a step.
“Ohmigod! I’m so sorry- I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“It’s alright, it was just a reflex action.”
“That’s gonna leave a mark!”
“How did you know that?” he asked, “Those are the exact words we said when Molly bit me.”
“I don’t really know how I know,” Mary said, “It seemed as if I was in that motel room. Let me touch you again.”
As Sean stepped closer Mary's fingers reached down to his belly. As she explored the larger scar she began to describe the scene of his stabbing:
“I see a bathroom, and you are crouched over a toilet… you are vomiting… there is a another man, coming into the room… he’s behind you… he picks up your jacket… and throws it over you, he has a knife in his hand, he thrusts it into you… you collapse to the floor… the man says ‘Bastard’… he turns to leave. The man… his face is very clear… the man is Roger Ramsen.”Mary stepped away. They remained silent for several seconds. Finally, Sean spoke:
“Well, now we know who we’re up against. Too bad your vision would never stand up in court.”
“We’ll have to connect this all somehow. We’ll look at Billy’s files again, or maybe there was something in the hard drives from your Mother’s computer that would link him with Ramsen. We could run checks on his activities. That O’Donnell woman, she’s his mistress. Maybe we can get something on her. I’ll check into it tomorrow at the coffeehouse. While I’m doing that you can buy yourself some wedding clothes.”
“How about you? What are you going to wear?” said Sean.
“I've got Emily’s dress,” Mary said as she removed her nightgown.
“This new-found power of yours… ” Distracted by Mary’s nakedness, Sean hesitated for a moment, “ …it might make make foreplay a little tricky?”
“I’ll leave your scars alone,” Mary said.
“I wasn’t thinking about the scars,” Sean answered.
“Don't think,” Mary said. She noticed that his ‘body aura’ had brightened considerably. Taking his hand, she led him into the bed.
After Sally O’Donnell returned to her town home in Seattle, she spent some time getting situated. As she ate, Sally sat down with a glass of wine and opened her laptop. She wanted to take a deeper look at the files that she had copied from Roger Ramsen’s computer. Her first stop was his email. Some of the senders’ names were familiar to Sally but others remained cryptic. Those emails repeatedly referenced something referred to as ‘The Plan.’ Sally began to take notes.
Sean drove Mary into town the next morning, dropping her off at The Magpie while he went to Amundson’s clothing store. Mary sipped her latte as she checked in with her lawyers. They had no new developments to report. She instructed them to work up a file on both Roger Ramsen and Sally O’Donnell. Just as she was finishing, Sean walked in with two large shopping bags, filled with clothes.
“I’m afraid these duds will be no match for Emily’s dress, but then I'm no peacock," said Sean as he began to show Mary the clothes, “What do you think?”
“Don’t sell yourself short,” Mary said, looking through his purchases, “They’re fine. I’m done here, do you need the laptop? I’m going to go across the street, to talk to Edwin—the man I told you about yesterday—the one who gave me Emily’s book? I want him to look at Emily’s drawings.”
“I would like to use the laptop. Let me get some coffee first. I’ve got some things I need to check on.”
After Sean returned, Mary went across the street to Edwin’s shop.
“Mr. Duddle?” Mary said loudly as she entered, “It’s Mary, Sean’s fiance.”
“Just a minute,” he said, his disembodied voice coming from his office in the rear of the store, “I’ll be there in a minute.”
Mary looked around the shop. Nearly everything in it seemed to possess some special quality. She didn’t know if that was due to her heightened awareness or was simply a result of Edwin’s peculiar taste. After a short wait, Edwin emerged from the rear of the store, smoothing his thin, white hair with his hands. His halo was very pale, a silvery-gray.
“You’ve come back,” he said as he smiled and offered Mary his hand. When she grasped it he cradled hers as if it was a bird, “Now, how can I help you today?”
“Mr. Duddle, I’ve brought some of Emily’s drawings I’d like you to take a look at,” Mary said as she set the portfolio on the only uncluttered spot in the shop, “They seem to indicate what I’ll call, for lack of better words, ‘power centers.’ I’ve found some of them already. I thought that you might be able to help me find the others.”
Edwin looked at the drawings, silently examining each one in turn.
“Yes, I do know most of these places,” he said, “You’re right about them. The places they depict are portals, but can only be recognized by only those who have the ‘gift.’ They are openings to a world which exists beneath the world of our everyday existence. You have experienced some of this already, is that not so?”
“Yes. I am learning with each encounter,” Mary said, “These four drawings, the ones on top, I know about them already. Do you know where the others are?”
“Just a minute, let me get something,” Edwin went back to the office and returned with a well-used county map, “This is a little old, but things haven’t changed too much around here in the last thirty years. I’ll number the drawings of the places I know, and put those numbers on locations on the map. It should place you close enough to them so that you can find them on your own.”
“That is much appreciated,’ Mary said, “Have you been to them?”
“Some, like the Porter House here, are right down the street. Others are hidden away, in the country. There are a couple I don’t know.”
The old man went through the drawings again, carefully numbering each drawing and putting its corresponding number on the map. When he had finished, he put his pencil down and spoke: “These drawings are an atlas, an atlas of portals, no, not portals, ‘doors’ might be the better term, they are normally locked, you need a key.” He paused, then looked Mary directly in the eye, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite. That’s William Blake.”
Mary let this sink in for a few seconds. Then she spoke: “I talked to Tina yesterday. She told me about what had happened between you and her and Emily, about why Emily left and why Tina doesn’t talk to you. I don’t think she bears you any ill-will. It’s just something that happened a long time ago. She said that it would be alright with her if you witnessed our wedding tomorrow. I would like you to be there.”
“I’d be glad to be your witness,” Edwin said, “But about that business with Tina, I can’t undo what’s been done. Emily taught me many things, things which you’re learning now, as well as other things which you will soon discover. What happened between Emily and me, well… I was young and she offered me a glimpse of heaven. How could I refuse?"