George Waldorf fears sleep; a recurring dream infiltrates his slumber. This nightly occurrence has George, a single African American man living in Philadelphia, on edge. And his life becomes more complicated when by chance he meets Tina Lawler and realizes that she plays a significant role in his dreams. He feels a special connection to her, but Tina is unwilling to accept George's strange explanations about their bond, and she rebuffs his advances.
Eager to discover the truth behind his haunting dreams, George agrees to visit Dr. Gupta, a parapsychologist who researches reincarnation. George is doubtful that his dreams may have a link to the past and is skeptical that anything will be gained through hypnosis. What Dr. Gupta discovers dates back 170 years to a small town in Georgia; the revelations change the way George looks at both his past and his future.
A love story caught between two different centuries and two different races, Is It Me? explores the themes of slavery, mixed marriages, and love while celebrating the power of memory.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.32(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Is It Me?
By Rathan Kumar
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Rathan Kumar
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAn African American male lives in his two-bedroom apartment, a kind of affluent area with basic furniture and a bed, TV in his bedroom, the second bedroom he uses as his semi-office room. His living room has a couple of sofas and a big-screen TV, a telephone, and a glass table, not much because he's single. He works for Computer International Incorporated, located in Philadelphia. He works 9 to 5 primarily as a consultant programmer. He's a hard worker and his boss trusts him a lot; a lot of stress comes with the job.
After the long hours of his stressful day, George Waldorf went home late, opened his refrigerator, and ate some leftovers; he wasn't in a mood to prepare any dinner. Afterwards, he crashed on his bed and within a minute went off to sleep. Dreaming, he saw a man sitting under a huge tree looking at the clear blue, motionless sky, seriously thinking. George could tell the man was tall even though he was seated. He had smooth brown skin, the color of a Brazil nut. He looks a lot like me. A white horse was walking toward the man, ridden by a lady with a long, white dress; abruptly, the horse galloped and disappeared into the clouds.
George woke up and looked around in the dark room and looked at his alarm clock. 4:00 AM. He shook his head and fell asleep again. As the alarm went off, woke hastily and got ready to go to work. A couple more weeks went by and nothing unusual happened—he was a happy-go-lucky guy. He went to bed as usual but started feeling a little nervous. He rolled over again and again as a couple hours passed by, then got up, took two sleeping pills, and sat on his bed. He glanced nervously in the shadows of his medium-sized bedroom and slid back into the bed, watching the rotating ceiling fan for a while, before he drifted into a fitful sleep. Maybe a few hours more passed, and there was the man, sitting under a huge tree again. George realized it was the same man, now on a black horse riding as fast he could, slashing through a dense forest. That's me, he realized, excited. White men were chasing him on horseback. As they came closer and closer, suddenly George woke up, sweating and scared. He wiped his eyes and sat up for a few minutes, then realized it was only a nightmare and said to himself Thank God. He went back to his bed, but he couldn't sleep, the clock was ticking and time was passing by. It was 7:00 AM.
George got up the following morning, trying to ignore that he was thinking about the dream as he showered and brushed his teeth. The windows were opened onto a nice, sunny day; a warm breeze was making everyone comfy and sleepy in the office at the Computer International. It was Friday in the second week of June, and everyone wanted to get out of work, especially after lunch—it was eighty degrees outside; they were ready to have fun. Summer fever had started to grow with everyone and in particular with Richard. In the late-afternoon, Richard cranked up the stereo, started shaking his plump waist and shouted, "Boogie, boogie. Hey everyone, the boss says we all can leave a little early today."
"No I don't," said the boss, sticking his face out of his office. "Back to work." There was a sheepish grin on his face. Richard dropped back on his chair; he looked at George, a few desks away. George never paid attention to any of Richard's commotion. He was too busy looking at his computer screen and messing with the keyboard. Richard could not stand this, so he picked up the phone and dialed extension 234. After a couple of rings, it got George's attention and he answered.
"Hi, this is George. May I help you?"
"Sure you can. This is Buddy Rich." It was a name joke they'd shared since childhood apparently. Neither of them could remember when it started, or why—as they grew older, so did the joke and their friendship.
Richard did have this strange way of speaking. He said he'd had a speech impediment when he was younger—younger even than when George met him—but sometimes it was like he just liked messing with how he sounded. The upshot was, it was like he didn't use contractions, or only sometimes, or inconsistently. It was hard to put a finger on, except often enough how he said things just would come out off a bit. Even without meaning too, George sometimes picked the habit up, as if sympathetically. George had read once how a couple of twins, stranded somewhere, had learned their own language that no one else could understand. It wasn't anywhere near like that with Richard, but sometimes it almost seemed that way to George, at least a little.
"What're you doing, Rich?" George asked, scowling off in Rich's direction.
"What are you so serious about, not paying any attention to anything? Loosen up; it's Friday, okay? After work let us go and chill out. What do you say?"
"No man, I am trying to finish up work so I can relax this weekend."
"What, you have a hot date for this evening or for the weekend?"
"No. Listen, buddy. If I had something I'd've told you," George giggled. "But you never know. I may get a surprise. Why? What do you have in mind?"
"Susan has a company meeting and I guess she won't be home until ten or eleven tonight. I thought, maybe we can have a couple of beers and after that get a bite, do some male bonding, what do you say?"
"'Kay, bud, that sounds good. See you later."
They both hung up.
The Santa Monica Club
George and Richard walked into Center City, heading toward its posh restaurant with the outdoor bar. Many people had come out to relax on this beautiful Friday evening. George watched many small groups of people—men and women alike—walking by with beer bottles, as if born with that extra attachment on their hands. People came here for fun and hoping to find somebody new, hoping to wash away the taste of the old, but it was still always the same drinks. Their eyes would roam all over the vast expanse—someone told George once it was 3000 square feet, as if that might mean something to him—trying not to miss anything moving or sitting. Everyone behaved so differently here—some talked business, some were attracted to someone but shied back and became losers, some didn't care and approached everything that crossed their path, male, female, or waiter. It was a good place to hang out.
Richard was still babbling as they sat down at a table with a fine view.
"What do you think about Larry?"
"From the office? He seems all right, but quiet. Why?"
"He dresses weird, and sometimes gives me creepy looks."
"Don't waste your time on it," George said, sipping his beer; he had an attachment too. "Who cares, as long as he's not bothering us? But while we're on this, what do you think of Julie?"
"Which one? Aren't there two?"
The good-looking, kind of thin one, you know who I am talking about."
"Why do you ask me that? I'd've told you if I thought so."
"I happen to know she likes you, and she wanted me to ask you."
"She's a nice girl, all right, but I'm not interested," Richard said, looking out over the crowd.
"Do you like anybody? I've never seen you interested in anyone."
"I am not gay," George said sharply, turning back to glare at Richard. "You know that."
"Why bring it up? Even if you were, it wouldn't bother me. Come on. Let's go somewhere else."
Richard and George were walking toward the club, only a block away from the Santa Monica. They could hear laughter and loud noise echoing through the sky between the raised marble buildings louder than the traffic noise. It was only 5:45, and in an hour as more alcohol went down everyone's throats, the noise would take over Center City. As they approached the club, they joined the rest of the two hundred people up there and got their shares of beer, loosened up their ties, and hung their jackets over their shoulders. People were constantly moving here and there, like the smooth waves of the Atlantic Ocean continuously coming to the shore again and again on a nice, quiet, sunny day.
Two guys just happened to be popping up from their cozy spot to get some more beers, so George and Richard moved right into it, sitting by a fountain. Their tired bodies were being warmed and cooled at the same time—from the gentle sun and the pleasantly warm beer, and a touch of breeze mixed with spray from the fountain. As they relaxed, half a dozen ladies moved like butterflies near Richard with various shapes and color of dresses on them, having their own private conversation of glances. Some were tall, slim, and shapely; a couple were short and chubby. Almost immediately, Richard ended the game of eye-talk and broke into their conversation.
"Hi, ladies. How are you doing?"
"Fine, and how about you guys?" a tall, blonde and good-looking lady answered back.
"We're doing great! I'm Richard, and this is my buddy, George. This is your first time here? I haven't seen you before."
"We come here occasionally. You are a regular here?"
"Of course, next time when you see us, don't forget to say hi. We're fun-loving boys, right George?"
George didn't answer.
"Sure, no problem," the blonde said uncertainly, lifting her eyebrows and shrugging. The group of women giggled and moved away into the crowd.
George nudged Rich's back and said, "Would you please leave people alone. It's embarrassing."
"There are some nice looking ladies here, man. I'm trying to make things easier on you. Don't get upset."
"I'm just not in a mood."
"What's your problem? You going to be single the rest of your life? And you say I'm not interested in anyone."
George didn't respond to that, and there was short period of silence as a second beer disappeared down their throats, deepening the conversation a little.
"So, George, can I ask you something? You don't need to answer if you don't want to, do you mind?"
"What's the matter with you? We don't have any secrets between us. Just say it." George's tone was clearly serious.
"Sometimes I wonder as we become adult, we might grow apart and our ideas and views might change, but nothing's changed with us, right? You know what I mean."
"We haven't changed and don't have any problems between us, thank God. Why're you ..."
"Susan asked me the other day, how come George has not dated anyone over the years, since you broke up with Debbie? Why haven't you got serious in dating, what is going on with him? That's what she asked. And I really could not answer to that. I thought about it for some time. And, I mean, except for Tasha in high school and, in college, what was her name, Jill?"
"Yeah, Jessica a couple months. It was years till you dated Debbie and no one since. I hadn't ever really put it all together like that till Susan asked. Am I right or am I missing something? If you don't want to tell me, I am okay with that?" he said, but his voice rose, making it a question.
"Come on, Richard stop this crap. You're my best friend. Susan too after you married her. Why are you saying stupid things like this?" George's eyebrows frowned up on Richard.
"Okay, let me say this. I know you for years and we know each other very well. I feel something is bothering you, but you are not telling me about it, and I could be wrong, but let me know," Richard said, looking really concerned.
"That's a million dollar question. I've been wondering about that myself to be honest. I'll try to explain, but it may not make any sense to you! Afterward, you can tell me if I'm going crazy or not, but be honest with me, okay?"
"What are friends for? Go ahead and shoot! Come on, I am waiting," Richard said it with some confusion on his face. He seemed to have ignored completely George's fear that he might be going crazy.
Richard was quiet; looking at George with his eyebrows raised and wrinkles on his forehead. George took a deep breath.
"So ... After I start to date someone, maybe a few months later, I start feeling like I'm cheating on my girl. It's right. I start feeling guilty and that there's something missing in them and I end up breaking up the relationship. I don't know why, but sometimes I feel my girl is waiting for me."
"What girl? You said you break it off."
"This has been on my mind for at least the last two years and I don't know how to explain this to you. I feel that I know this girl, have known her well for a long time. She's pretty, so to speak. I'm kind of emotionally involved with her."
"Who are you talking about? How come you never told me about her? You been seeing someone all this time?" Richard's eyebrows were making goofy twitches.
"Just listen and don't stop me in the middle; let me finish, and try to understand the situation. Is that a deal?"
"I'm sorry, go ahead! I will be serious!" Richard stopped making a face.
"I know this girl and I am in love with her! It sounds so crazy, but—I have not met her yet."
"Excuse me," for a second he thought he heard it wrong
"Yep, you heard it right. I know I am going to meet her soon, and she is not too far from me now. Not only that, I feel like I knew her too damn well for too many years. You might think that something happened to me and I'm going crazy. That's why I didn't tell you about it." George looked down as he spoke, not at Richard, then slowly raised his head and looked at him. Richard's eyes bulged and chin was about to be dropped. "Are you okay or what?" Richard was sweating.
"Go on," Richard said, as he wiped the sweat.
"My girl, she always rode this white horse. She has a long, blonde hair, slim, beautiful blue eyes; she always wears a long white dress when she passes by me as I'm sitting under this big tree. And then, after she passes me, she gallops on her horse and disappears into white clouds. Suddenly everything changes, and I'm riding a black horse and a few horsemen were chasing me, and we were all slashing through the forest as they were getting closer to me and I wake up"
"You're talking about a dream?"
"It's not just a dream, and it's going to be real."
"What the fuck are you talking about? You are going to meet your dream girl?"
"Aren't we all? And soon!" As George said this, his face was bright and confident.
"Let me get this straight. So this is your dream girl and you never met her before, you are going to meet her soon, I have you right? Don't tell me you've been waiting for this girl to come all along all these years?"
"You are a fucking nut, do you know that?" Richard pushed back his hair and wiped his forehead.
"Now you know why I didn't tell you this before."
"Well if you're going to meet her, what's with the people chasing you, on horses, in a forest? Is that going to be real too? Your woman was riding on a white horse and disappeared into the white clouds, I guess she owns a Pegasus? Or's you saying it had wings?" He was being sarcastic, his legs were shaking, and he was looking around as if hoping no one could hear what George was saying.
"I don't understand that part. It makes me nervous too."
"This is the twenty-first century, man; people chase people with baseball bats, and shoot them with semiautomatics, so you better change your dream."
"I can't explain it. All I know is I'm going to meet her, and soon."
"Wait a minute, am I supposed to be serious about this, and how come your best friend wasn't in your dream?"
"You get mad that I didn't tell you and then joke around?"
"Are you kidding me? You want me to be serious about this? You do need to see a shrink then."
"Why should I?"
"You are so crazy, you don't even know you're crazy? What the hell is wrong with you man? You haven't told this to anyone else, right?"
"Thank God, if any one comes to know this you'll be fired."
"Why should I be fired? I didn't do anything wrong."
"Not yet, but if you continue this shit you will be!"
"What is wrong in believing in my dreams?"
"People meet you today and won't remember you tomorrow but you believe in a dream girl you never met? You know what? If you say one more word, I will take you to the emergency room, you got that!"
"You only asked me to tell you, I told what was in my mind and I was honest, and now you're mad."
Excerpted from Is It Me? by Rathan Kumar Copyright © 2011 by Rathan Kumar. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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