An ordinary ex-con is granted the power to read the thoughts of those around him.
| I haven’t slept in three days. Not since I started hearing it. All of it. I’m lying in bed trying to get some sleep but I can’t because no one will shut up. It’s not voices I’m hearing and it’s not noise either. Its thoughts. I can tell what my neighbor in the next apartment is thinking. I can hear Mr. and Mrs. Bloom having sex five floors down. I can hear what Tony is thinking of making at the diner tomorrow. I can even hear the thoughts of the homeless guys three blocks away under the overpass. It started on Thursday. I went home from work at the diner early with a massive headache. When I got home I pretty much collapsed on the couch and didn’t move until it was time to go back to work Friday. It wasn’t until Friday that I found out what was going on. It was Friday that I realized what I was hearing.
“Morning Tony.” I said as I walked through the door. I had gone to sleep early the night before so I was pretty well rested.
“How’s that headache Allan?” he asked. Tony was always looking out for me. He used to be my brother in law before Anne and I split up. Even after all that mess we remained friends. He was also the first person to give me a job after my two year stint in prison.
“It’s fine Tony. Much better. Don’t know what got into me yesterday but I went to sleep right after I got home.”
“Good, maybe it’s out of your system. Go ahead and start the fryers up and make sure the ice is filled before Steve gets in. Maybe with a head start that lazy ass will actually get something done today.”
Steve. I hate that guy. Some wise ass kid who thinks he owns the joint. I don’t know why Tony even keeps him around. Guess he sees a bit of potential. I’m not saying I see it. But hey if I knew everything I wouldn’t have been in jail and lost Anne.
The kitchen smelled of cold used cooking oil and the floor was slick with grease. As soon as I reached down to turn on the fryer a headache hit me like a train. The pain made it feel like my brain was going to explode. Not only was it in my head but it traveled down into my spine. I fell over and curled up in pain. It was worse than it felt the day before. I started to crawl to the door to the front but the pain was too much. I couldn’t help but think that I was going to die there. That diner in Memphis. Three blocks from a shit hole apartment filled with nothing but old furniture and a few boxes from my past. I thought that time had run out on my second chance. I finally got a chance to redeem myself and I wasn’t going to live long enough to enjoy it. Then, just as easily as it had come on, the headache lifted and I felt fine again. Not just fine but great. It was like I’d never known a moment of agony in my life. I felt like a million bucks. Then it started to get weird.
I was about to walk out into the lobby and I hear someone yelling. I stop at the door to hear what’s going on.
“You stupid son of a bitch I had better get a raise within the week or I’m going to kick your ass up and down the street all day!”
It sounded like Steve. That little shit is finally about to get fired. You don’t talk like that to Tony. He won’t put up with it. I couldn’t wait to see it happen. I walked into the lobby with a big grin on my face expecting to see some action.
“What’s got you so happy this morning?” said Tony. I didn’t see Steve.
“Well, he’s not here yet. He’s still got a few minutes to get here.”
“Yeah but I thought I just heard him yelling at you?”
“No…don’t think so. That little brat starts running his mouth at me and he’s out of a job.”
“Here he is.” Tony interrupts me and points out the window to the skinny little college student walking up to the door with an ipod glued to his hear. The bell rang as he walked in.
“What are you looking at?” he said in an obnoxious tone. It took a second to regain my composure.
“I’m looking at a poor little college kid whose life was tragically cut short because he mouthed off to the wrong person when he should have been cooking some fries.”
“Yeah that’s right. Get back there.” He mouthed off all the way to the back. Little punk.
Later that day is when I really started to understand what was happening. The diner was crowded as it usually is on Friday afternoon and all of a sudden the headache hit me again. Only this time it lasted for a few seconds and then a flood of conversations almost overwhelmed my brain. I could hear everything. Every single conversation was crystal clear. But the weirdest thing was that I could hear what was behind the words. I could hear what people were thinking. I could hear everything from the daydreams of a guy setting quietly jotting stuff down in a notebook to what Mary Stevens was actually thinking when she was pretending to listen to her cousin’s sob story over the pie they were having. I stopped dead in my tracks and dropped the dishes I was carrying to the back. I turned around and looked at the entire room. They were all starring at me and I could hear what they thought! Most assumed I was some junkie who didn’t know how to hold on to his dishes but I didn’t care. I had something no one else had…and it was amazing.
When 7:00pm rolled around I was closing up shop when Tony approached me. I knew what he was going to say before he said it.
“This isn’t about Anne, Tony.” He looked a little shocked but I just smirked as I hung up my apron and punched my time card.
“Then what is it? You’ve been acting odd all day. Have you at least called her?”
“No, she made it very clear she doesn’t want to talk to me.”
“Look, you’ve changed. You’re not a thief anymore. You’ve reformed. You’ve paid your debt to society.”
“I don’t think that’s going to change anything. Not at this point.” I said as I looked down. I tried not to show it but I knew it was clear that I missed her.
“Look, just call her okay?”
“I’ll think about it. I’ll see you Monday ok?”
“Sure Allan, see ya Monday.”
I went straight home that night. I was really tired and I needed to be alone to think of what happened today. By the time I reached my apartment my gift had already gone away again. What was this? I thought to myself. I didn’t mention it to anyone just in case I was hallucinating or something. I unlocked the door and walked in and dropped my key in the same place as I always do. I sat down in front of my computer and started typing away in a search engine about “psychic phenomena” to see what kind of junk I could pull up or to see if it was even plausible. Three hours later and I was nowhere closer to figuring out what was going on. I decided to get some sleep. Lying in bed I was still trying to figure out what was going on. I’ve never been one to believe in all the psychic crap that was floating around on TV and the internet but there I was, a walking talking info-mercial waiting to happen. I was only a few steps away from lulling insomniacs to sleep with my long winded speeches about how my psychic service could change their lives. I still wasn’t entirely convinced that it was all real until later that night. I was sleeping good, and I mean really good when I woke up to a loud scream. It sounded like a woman and it was so loud it sounded like she was standing right next to me. She was screaming and yelling for someone to help her. When I got up it sounded more distant. I followed the sound to my window and looked out. I saw something moving around in the alley across the street. Oh no…not this. I thought to myself as I put some pants and shoes on and headed out to help. I go to the elevator and push the button. It was moving so slow and I had to hurry. Another scream pierced my ears. I ran to the stairs and down the five flights to the ground level and tore out the door at full speed running across the street. When I got closer I could see a man standing over a woman and he was trying to pull her skirt off. It looked like he had a knife. He was so caught up in the moment that he didn’t even hear me running up behind him. I ran and kicked him sending him flying off his feet and landing face first into the concrete. I’m standing there waiting for him to get back up and attack me when I notice he’s not even moving. I can’t hear anything but the young woman behind me sobbing. I get closer and roll him over and see what’s wrong with him. He had fallen on his own knife. There was a large pool of blood directly under where the wound had met the concrete. I could already hear the sirens rushing toward us. Someone else must have heard the turmoil and called the police.
In minutes the street is well lit with red and blue emergency lights. Several cops and a few paramedics arrived on the scene. A detective was beginning to ask me a few questions as I watched the girl set in the back of an ambulance in shock.
“She’ll be okay hero. Just a little shaken. The perp is probably going to make it too. When he was stabbed he went into shock. Too bad though, between you and me, I think rapist should be castrated and killed on first offense.”
“Did you have something to ask me detective?” I didn’t want to be rude but I really wanted out of this whole situation.
“Oh yeah, sure. What exactly were you doing out here so late?”
“Actually I live in that apartment building across the street. I heard her scream, looked out and saw all this.”
“Really? You heard her scream? That’s weird because the girl says that she didn’t scream. She was told that if she did she would have been killed.”
Then it hit me, she didn’t scream she was thinking it.
“Well I heard something.”
“Huh…okay. Well either way, you did a good thing here today. Here’s my card if you have any concerns or wish to tell me anything else.”
“Well, were out of here. Enjoy the rest of your night.”