My Name is Jane
written by Christine Unger
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I Arrive in Town
|My tires swerved across the muddy roads, rain coursing across my windshield, I thought bitterly of the low flow shower at my hotel. I was always a bad driver. Here, now, in this storm, on these miserably twisted mountain roads I was so tense my fingers shone white where I gripped the wheel. Lightening blazed again. Nothing! No road signs. Great shadowy cedars and spiky, unhealthy looking pines that leaned across each other like overcrowded prisoners of war, lined the sides of the road. The wind was picking up the brittle branches of this anorexic forest and tossing them across my windshield . I couldn’t help feeling a little unwelcome.
Another fantastic flash. Lit like a rat caught in a crawl space stood the most outrageous creature I’d ever seen. She was amazing, definitely a she, the size of a starving polar bear, she looked like the unholy offspring of a super model from the seventies and a Sasquatch. Her eyes glowed unnaturally in my headlights, impossible dolly blue, soulful and inhuman they seemed to reflect back every misplaced hope and every disappointed love I’d ever known or imagined. Before I could break she had bounded across the road and stood delicately angled on the pitched roof of an old shed.
I knew it was a wolf hound but what was she doing here at this end of nowhere, middle of nothing much, place with her obvious breeding. I pulled to the side of the road and put my GPS back on, listening to the comforting inanity of the computer voice assuring me that I was a mere kilometer and a half from my destination.
I’d travelled through a lot of small towns, worked a lot of different cases. But I felt like things were going to be different this time. The air here felt different, it crackled with energy. Despite the hour, despite the rain, my instincts were telling me I needed to follow the great dog. I looked around, trying to find her in the rain and the mist that rose up from the warm pavement but she was lost in the wildly undulating shadows.
I made a note of my location. I’d try and come back tomorrow. I couldn’t see how this had anything to do with my case but there it was. I couldn’t really ignore a sign that obvious.
The rain was starting to let up, thank god, but I was feeling shaky. I needed a shot of practicality to get me back on track. I pulled an energy bar and a bottle of water out of my bag and read a little of one of Sue Grafton’s excellent procedurals. I’d learned more than I cared to admit from her minutely detailed descriptions of detective life. Granted, she seemed to function in a world before computers which I couldn’t quite see working for me. But I liked the plodding rhythm she maintained, unshakeable, humane, and filled with common sense and comfortingly dull mundanities. Everything I aspired to and pretty much failed to maintain.
I seem to run on a different fuel, connections happened in bursts. I go into a situation and pull as much information together as I can. But where I should be following a series of logical steps, one leading to the other, my information generally wallows in a morass of confusion until suddenly, it doesn’t.
I’d tried keeping diaries of conversations, religiously recording my thoughts and observations at the end of the day. I guess I’m too much of an agnostic to be religious about anything. Atheist is too extreme. I never count anything out. After all, most of my cases have come together in dreams.
In the beginning, every time I’d take a case, I felt like a fraud because I didn’t really have a vision for how I’d get to the other end. I just did, somehow. I’ve come to accept that, like it or not, I function best on a subconscious level. I imagine myself tapping into the Jungian world-mind, part of a tangle of threads interconnected through time and space, riding on gravitational waves as they warp their way through dark matter—a place where nothing—no thing, no thought, no sensation, or emotion—is ever lost. Whether or not anyone ever finds a WIMP, the world is grounded in symmetrical terms: we see it, hear it, feel it, live it and when it fails to manifest, I can’t help but wonder and investigate… Every connection is already out there. I pull a string in one direction, and an answer comes rushing at me from the other. I’ve learned not to ignore my instincts or dismiss coincidence. The great hound I’d just seen was no accident.
Here, in this place, in this storm, I felt the strings already pulling at me and I hadn’t even begun. There’s something strong here, something that wants my attention and wants it badly.
I pulled back onto the road, still munching what would probably be my dinner. “Jane, what have you gotten yourself into…”