Chapter XIV:

Leon Sees His Reflection

It was hard to leave Heather’s apartment. He wanted very much to make a gracious, graceful exit, but she loved him too much, it was written all over her face, so happy that she’d made him happy. They had been very good to each other the night before, and she didn’t seem to care about the Quixote either. She put it on the night stand when they got into her room, when the lights were off, he saw her do it and God help him he almost forgot to pick it up when he got dressed in the morning. She had sucked his cock, made him hard. He had fucked her good and proper, and she had wrapped her arms and legs around him to best facilitate. It was a close moment drenched in sweat and intimacy, and he couldn’t believe how long he’d waited for it. Three weeks was too long a time. He hadn’t been good to her, there was no other explanation. That was all going to change.

But when he disembarked from the bus downtown in the financial district, right across the street from his office building, he was struck with the choice, whether to go to work or whether to go home. There was something about the way he’d slept last night that told him everyone at work would know what kind of night he’d had. And they would mock him for it. Since Stuart’s e-mail had gone out they all hated him at once, first for the Box-Mart account, and then for something else as if to accentuate his differences. First Box-Mart, then the Quixote. They all had shines in their eyes, and there were Quixotes everywhere, first on the bus and now here downtown, but still none on the 32nd floor. He felt his mind expanding from the inside with a pressure that might have been insanity. Heather was already washing away.

So he decided to go home. It was Friday, they wouldn’t care that much.

BART wasn’t as crowded as it was in the early morning rush hour, also with him going against the human current. He curled up into one of the window seats and tried not to stare at anyone, though the Quixotes, they kept staring at him. The weight of their eyes oppressed his imagination with the futility of that which is beyond your control.

He arrived in Oakland and walked quickly down 14th Street, dodging gamey black kids and panhandlers in addition to the Quixotes, and the people with shines in their eyes. His apartment beckoned, not too far away, but even so he wasn’t sure he could make it. He felt psychic danger pressing in all around him. He wondered if Heather was feeling the same thing. She was the only one aside from him who had touched the Quixote. She’d seen how it was affecting him even before, more accurately than anyone else had. He loved her now for loving him. He needed it. When he reached his apartment he took the Quixote out of his pocket and threw it as hard as he could against the wall, just next to his window with the view of a parallel apartment building. If he’d hit the glass he would have broken it.

He charged through his apartment, stomping on the floor and yelling inarticulately, wordlessly, like a football player who’d just made a touchdown. He made it to his kitchen and popped a beer out of the refrigerator. He chugged half of it, wiped his mouth and put the beer down, then he yelled again, masculine energy, testosterone, coursing through his veins. He was a man again, just what needed to happen. Except for the terrifying thought that he had done something that the Quixote would not allow.

He charged through the apartment, taking off his clothes, then he sat down at his coffee table and opened his laptop. Sure enough the Quixotes were everywhere on the internet, just as they had been before. Motorcycle helmets in place of photos, captions leering with violent subtext. Yes, it was happening everywhere.

He hoped Heather would be okay. He hoped he could save her from the Quixotes that would assail her just as they’d doubtless assailed Stuart, except for one key distinction: Stuart did not have Leon’s love. Did Heather? He had never been sure on that score.

He picked the beer up when he returned to the kitchen, and downed the second half.

Leon Crushed the can, Miller High Life, and tossed it into the recycling. There was a smile on his face and satisfaction in his dick, which felt big, important, powerful. He felt like he’d succeeded a game that only he was playing, and his body thanked him for it. His spirit thanked him for it. Triumph through adversity.

Why, then, had he decided not to go to work? Perhaps that was beside the point. Perhaps he should just take the feeling of victory for what it was, instead of trying to poke holes in his self-justification. Because if he were to imagine that he was afraid? That he hadn’t gone to work because he’d known that lustful, knowing looks would be inflicted upon him, then maybe his victory was not complete. Not for as long as there were Quixotes walking around. He would be kidding himself to think otherwise.

His apartment was too small. He wished he had a bigger castle to storm through, the one place apart from Heather where there were no Quixotes.

He came out from the kitchen and found the one that had come to him before, standing on his coffee table. It had a golden halo around its head, and as soon as Leon saw it he felt comforted.

“What do you want?” he commanded it to answer.

It’s not over, the thing whispered into his ear.

“What do you mean?”

It’s only just begun.

Leon walked slowly towards it, the floorboards creaking beneath the balls of his feet.

You need to find the nexus, Leon. It’s your only hope.

“The what?”

The nexus.

“What does that mean?”

It means whatever you wish it to mean. It means that your torment is not complete, neither is anyone else’s. But I am here to help you find the nexus.

“What kind of nexus?”

The cosmic kind.

Leon gulped. Sudsy beer gurgled in his stomach.

He was standing at the coffee table now, and the thing stood there with him, at a perfect level with his eyes and the false motorcycle helmet.

All of a sudden he made a grab for it. Like a wrestler making a tackle he tried to take it down, bring it down to the couch where he could take its motorcycle helmet off and find out what lay beneath, if they all, if this one, looked like Consuela.

Instead he grabbed empty space. He fell down onto the coffee table and bloodied one of his hands, breaking a glass that he had set there some night and failed to retrieve.

He sprawled out over the coffee table, then forced himself to stand, starting with a crouch then rolling back onto unsteady feet. He stood up, holding his injured hand close to his body.

The Quixote was still there, unaffected.

Look at your reflection, Leon.

“What the hell are you?”

I’m your becoming, Leon. But I’m on your side, okay?

“My becoming?”

That’s right. How you make your mark on the world and show everyone what you’re really made of. You have a supremely important role to play, and it’s only just getting started. You have a journey to make, Leon, and the rest of your regular life is not going to make it for you.

“Why are you here today?”

Just look at your reflection, Leon. That’s all I have to say to you, and then I will disappear, which is what you want of me anyways, isn’t it? Isn’t it?

“Of course it is.”

You will get what you want today, after you see your reflection, but in the long term you’re going to have to come up with better. You’re going to have to find the nexus.

“The nexus.”

That’s right. The nexus.

“I can’t believe what’s happening.”

Neither can anybody else. Just go, right now, and look at your reflection. You will not be disappointed.

“Okay,” Leon said. “I need to bandage up my hand anyways.”

Thank you.

Then, soundlessly, the thing disappeared. Leon looked down at his bludgeoned coffee table. When he did that he saw the Quixote in miniature, which he could have sworn he had thrown against the wall, lying on its side.

Look at your reflection. That’s what the thing had told him to do. The voice echoed in his mind. Leon wondered if he must take these occurrences for what they were: hallucinations.

His apartment floor boards were cool and granulated as he walk back through to the bathroom, where, behind the mirrored medicine cabinet, he would find surgical tape and gauze.

But first he would see his reflection, and when he did he was not disappointed as he was afraid that he would be, because instead of his own face staring back at him he saw a black-visored motorcycle helmet.

When he reached up to grab it his hands felt nothing but air.

Later that evening he called Heather but she didn’t answer, left a voicemail but she didn’t return his call. Leon didn’t think too much of it.

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