General Fiction posted September 22, 2019 Chapters: 3 4 -5- 

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Ali is on the run from the Psych-diagnosis.

A chapter in the book Passing Through Time-A Rebirth?

On the Road to Nowhere.

by Niyuta

Ali, the hero of this novel is a photographer interested in the architectures of different periods and the presence of European living quarters in America. He lands up in a weird experience in the for
The experience of last night had not produced any storm in my mind as if I imagined the whole episode with Sanjukta and me interacting. Still coping with that sleepless night, I realized that I should take a break and catch up with the sleep. I must have driven about 300 miles or so and then pulled into a motel near the city.
I must have slept all day. When I woke up, the sun was setting, and the soft autumn breeze was pouring in the room. I did not feel like getting out of the bed, but I forced myself to stand up. Then I realized I needed to freshen up and soaking in the bathtub sounded like a great idea.

I got into the steaming bathwater, and the warmth of it began to improve my attitude towards life. I felt relaxed as I submerged my body in and pushed back my head to rest it on the towel wrapped taps. The relaxation I sought, however, did not last, and in a few minutes, my mind or the alter ego woke up. It began those meaningless questions which start with a 'W' like those-What, When, and Why. I say they are meaningless because my alter ego knows I do not have answers for them.

"What's wrong with you? Where are you heading now? Why did you come to the USA?...." They keep coming at you as if you are holding the answers back and not let anyone, including the 'Self' know. The useless interrogation finally ended, and then the focus shifted to my immediate memory of the past 24 hours. It was that time yesterday; she knocked on the door, asking me about the meal plan. I couldn't tell why I felt ashamed of myself for forgetting the woman with whom I spent the most part of last night. We had performed a fabulous sex act four-time, and yet I had forgotten her as soon as I drove off from her place. With that, another set of specific questions came in my mind:

"Did you not enjoyed the encounters?"

"Did I? Don't recollect if I did."

"What do you recollect then?"

"Her pleasure moans and the torrent of raw passion and demands for more."

"And you did not feel a thing! Why? Are you sex-robot?"

"Don't know why I am like this; I know I am not attracted to that same-sex business, but then what happens to me when I find a woman attractive to look at, but then the attraction wears off. It had never been strong enough to build a lasting relationship."

"I think someone with problems like I have ought to seek professional help."

"No, thank you for suggesting, but then I ran away from that sort of intrusion in my life; can't afford to have a diagnosis nailed to my name in someone's database."

"Then what in the world do you think you are going to get? Ultimately you will have to face it or, maybe you should return to India or get lost in some country in South America."

"Why not go back to that motel and save Sanjukta and live happily ever after?"

"What for? I can't manage my own problems, and I am running away from them then to adding her baggage to that will be a foolish thing to do; I think."

The cooled water eventually brought me out of that debate I was engaged in with myself. I got out, drained the tub, and took a refreshing shower. Then at my own pace got ready to go out to find food.
When I entered the Motel's lobby, I noticed a signboard advertising cheap flights to the regional airports from the County Airports. Suddenly I realized that the SUV I was driving was a rental one and had a restriction of not driving beyond the states I had declared on the rental form. Indiana was not on my mind then, and I was already in the non-compliance state.
I checked the telephone number on the attached keychain and called. A salesperson in the office answered it right away. I explained the circumstances and told him I had crossed the border into the unlisted state. He assured me that there was no problem in adding the state, but it would cost me more in the insurance cost. After considering my options, I decided to return the vehicle and take one of the few commercial flights which the commuter airline had advertised in the motel's lobby. I went to the airline's counter that also functioned as the operational center-cum-sales office. The inter-county airline operated with small to midsize commuter planes and served the rural communities scattered in the surrounding states. They were the links to major airports from which one could go anywhere in the world. I booked a flight to Chicago's O Hare International Airport and returned the vehicle in the same lobby.

The flight time had no real meaning because the same aircraft came and went between the two airports, and leaving depended on the arrival. The commuter had no choice but to pray that incoming flight would not be too late, and they would not miss the connecting flight. I had no specific needs to be somewhere, so it did not matter if there was a delay. I headed for some refreshments and found out that the small bar-cum-restaurant served only the snacks at the bar, and for everyone else, not drinking, had only a carryout menu option.
I ordered a coke and a chicken sandwich and on a whim, picked up a copy of a traveler's guide to North Dakota. I am not sure what made me choose that destination because I had not made up my mind where to pitch my proverbial tent. I spotted a two-seat arrangement in one corner of the rectangular lobby and settled down to eat and browse the small book in my possession. I must have swallowed the last morsel and was getting ready to take a swig of coke, and I noticed a woman in her mid-fifties rushing towards the check-in counter. I wondered why she was rushing because the sign of incoming flight was showing 30 minutes delay. I went back to my book and got interested in the City of Grand Forks. I must have read a page or two, and I got distracted by the footsteps coming closer to me. I looked up and saw the woman I alluded to, heading towards my location. She came to occupy the vacant seat next to me.

I mentioned it before that I am not a socializing person and have very little appetite for small talks and meaningless chatters. I need a mind stimulating subject to get me to participate in a prolonged conversation with anyone. Any small talk I politely cut by responding in a monosyllabic response and returning to the activity available at that moment. On rare occasions, I did run into the persistent conversationalist bent upon dragging words out of me. Such persons generally speak to themselves and do not notice the absence of a reply or the continuum of conversation. I had managed them in the past by simply rendering the 'yes' or 'no' responses.

The first introduction to this going to be a fellow passenger came as soon as she came close enough for me to hear.
"Hi; I am Constance, but you may call me Connie."

" I'm Ali."

The pilot-cum-do it all employee came out of the cockpit and announced that the flight would be taking off in five minutes and passengers (in the current situation-- Connie), to take a seat-- any vacant seat, immediately. On that prompt; my undesirable companion decided to take the seat next to me. I had no choice but to pick up my books and other reading materials from the pile. She sat down and put the belt on, and the plane began the taxing towards the take-off point. To my relief, Connie fell asleep as soon as we were airborne.

The bumpy ride on a Cessna prevented me from reading anything. I just watched the landscape passing below me, occasionally glancing at Connie's visage. She appeared to be in her late thirties, but I couldn't say if she were a Latino or a white woman with racially mixed ancestry. Her closed eyes gave the shape of her eyes and the eyelashes an ample opportunity to project an image of those legendary 'Spanish Eyes' immortalized by Elvis Presley. I can't explain it now, but suddenly she appeared fascinating.

Unconsciously, I began ogling her visage and noticed her slightly opened mouth, the delicate full lips, and the naturally arranged eyebrows. She had slumped in the seat with her head tilted towards the left corner of the seat, and that position bunched her dark and silky hair to form a bird's nest around the face. The delicate chin sunk in her upper torso gave her jaw-line an angle and stretched her face tight. She looked very desirable. The announcement of "landing in ten minutes" broke my spell and at the same time, she opened her eyes and caught my intruding gaze. Before I could recover and say anything, she preempted me.

"I hope you liked what you've been studying."

I felt embarrassed and couldn't come up with a suitable answer to her jab. I did what came naturally. I diverted the subject and said;

"You have a very interesting face; I wondered if you have an Eastern ancestry."

She laughed and displayed her beautiful rows of teeth and replied;

"Not that I am aware of, but I have lived here in this Indian Country all my life, and it is not uncommon to have the Native American ancestors among the white folks."

As we alighted the plane and began walking towards the small building of that county airport, she stopped just before entering and said;

"What are your plans? You don't appear to be a tourist or an immigrant. If you have not booked any place, would you consider staying at my B&B?"

At that moment, I realized that it was not the O' Hare International airport; it was a county terminal. Connie must have guessed my bewilderment and said;

"We are not at the Chicago International, but outside of it. All flights for the North-West destinations leave from here; didn't anyone explained to you when you purchased the ticket?"
I nodded in negative, and she put her proposal in front of me.

"Come with me and stay for the night and figure out what you wish to do. I have my car parked here. Don't worry, the B&B is not expensive, and the ride is free." She giggled at my helpless and unplanned situation.

I just went along with her suggestion and reached her B&B location about sixty plus miles north on Illinois Interstate 94. I read the exit sign for the town Waukegen when she got off the I-94.

When we reached the location, the sun was setting, and in the twilight, I saw the B&B sign as she entered on my side of the vehicle. I stepped out of the SUV and felt a strange feeling of Deja-Vous coming over me. A man with platinum white hair came out of the building, and Connie went around to the front of the vehicle, and they began arguing about something in a subdued voice. I caught a few words of their conversation; it appeared like they were arguing about my accommodation.

"Put him in the Royal Suit." She directed him and without speaking a word disappeared behind the building by taking a path from the right side.

The man approached me, and I saw his warned out face wrinkled with age and tired eyes. He wore a tailed coat that showed the signs of considerable vintage, and from the collar of his shirt, an equally old neck-tie hung half-hidden by a jacket of nineteenth-century fashion.

He bent his head and asked me to follow him. We headed not towards the main entrance, but towards the left of the building; opposite to the way Connie had disappeared from my view. A side door appeared upon turning the corner, and the man pulled a bunch of keys, found one he needed, and opened the door. I entered an ornamented foyer which I at once recognized it as that of the 18th-century French Baroque period. I had photographed similar structures in many buildings before.

There stood a spiraling staircase that indicated that an upstairs and downstairs arrangement for the menagerie of servants existed in the past. I walked behind the Valet at a snail pace and eventually reached the top. In the dim lights, I saw a passage with rooms on the side and a view of a large ornamented hall bellow. I stood there and looked down. There was a long banquet arrangement made to sit perhaps fifty dinners. The host and the hostess sitting arrangement in the tall chairs and the French dining chairs neatly placed on either side reminded me of a Chateau I had visited in the UK many years ago when I had gone on a photography expedition.
I turned around when the old valet addressed me;

"Your suit, my lord!"

I chuckled with his address-- 'My Lord.' I repeated his words in mind as I entered the room and heard the door shutting behind me.

To fully grasp the story presented in this chapter; one has to read all previous chapters of this novel. It is a journey into the human psyche and its unknown regions.
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