The Adventures of Lily Leigh Chapter 2—Elaine Bonow
The Adventures of Lily Leigh
“James, James, Wake up, you’re dreaming again.” James Mc Gowan woke from his dream choking, gasping for air, as the red-haired girl pushed him violently, sputtering him awake. He squinted his eyes at the neon green 7:27. The alarm chimed. It was dark outside and the bedroom was chilly.
“Ach aye, I hate the dream. I think I am going to die I tell you. In fact I am sure I’m going to die.” James rolled over slapped off the clock and took a sip of water. “It is just so freaking intense. I can’t breathe. It is so realistic. I know I’m going to die. I can’t even take a breath.”
“I guess this means you’re going to start obsessing over some missing thing again.”
“Aye, I guess so. This one was so explicit. I am just about to discover what I am searching for and then I start choking.”
“Well, I’m glad I won’t be around for this one. You can figure out this mystery on your own. I’ll be laying on the beach in Cancun while you freeze your arse off and commune with that weird world of yours.” With that happy thought Alex, James’ latest girlfriend, jumped from the narrow bed, her arms all gooseflesh in the pink wife-beater. “I’ll put the kettle on and light the fire.” She pulled on a pair of sweat pants over her black panties, her thick butt sashaying from the tiny bedroom with “JUICY,” scrawled in rhinestones trailing her exit.
James curled into a ball and pulled the duvet tightly around his skinny frame. He was cold, drained of life force from the horror of the dream. He felt grateful to be actually alive and at the same time he was excited. The dream always happened when a great discovery was about to occur.
This strange gift of his, if you could call it a gift, first manifested when he was a child. He must have been all of ten year old. He had this same choking dream. He couldn’t get a breath. He felt like he had swallowed a cork, that there was a plug in his lungs. He woke up screaming. The doctor had been called, his mother terrified by his intense panic.
“Ach, Fiona the wee bairn must be having a psychological incident most likely because of your divorce.”
Fiona sent the doctor away. She cringed with regret. Feeling depressed at her ill effects on her only son, Fifi decided that the best way to deal with this latest problem was to take a short road trip. She and James would go early to the big community boot sale in St. Andrews instead of working at her little antique boutique.
James loved to go to boot sales as much as she did and this was the first of the summertime sales held all over Scotland. The St Andrews sale was upstairs in the historic town hall, a large white room with high ceilings. The room was filled with tables laden with fanciful artifacts and furniture: war medals, walking sticks, leather bound books, tatted doilies and musical instruments, some valuable collectables but mostly ordinary items of the past.
When James was a small lad, he seemed to have a knack for pointing out to his mum the prettiest, most valuable jewelry, “Look mum, that one there, it’s so beautiful.” Fifi an expert jeweler had learned the trade working in her father’s jewelry store in Edinburgh. She thought James must have inherited his skills from her father because from an early age he was able to spot great finds on their excursions.
On that particular day James felt especially excited. His breath was rapid and infused his clear blue eyes with an intense sparkle. He remembered feeling electric. He could barely speak. This memory had been reinforced over the years because his mother told the story over and over again to friends and family, proud of his uncanny abilities.
“Mum, mum, let’s go over there.” James said pointing to one of the last tables in the hall.
“No James, we have to abide by our routine.” Their habit was to go once around all of the encircled tables very casually. Fifi’s trained eyes scanned the abundant goods like a human computer, separating the items of value from ordinary junk store filler, careful not to show too much excitement over any particular item so that the price would not inflate if she decided to buy it.
They slowly navigated the room. James’ impatience subsided as they closed in on the last table. James felt calm but excited. He tried to tell his mother how he felt but when he opened his mouth to speak all that came out were short staccato coughs like a little dog in distress.
“James, are you alright son?” Fifi said as she grabbed his shoulders and spun him around to face her. “Maybe we should go home now. You might be really sick.” She put her hand on his forehead like a good mum does checking for fever and when she did she saw that his normally clear blue eyes were almost black his dilated pupils surrounded by a bright turquoise halo.
He turned, escaping her grasp and picked up a small wooden chest from the last table of the sale.
“Put that down.” The vendor shouted to James.
“But I want to buy this. How much is it?”
“Twenty pound young man.”
“Well, we shall buy it, shan’t we mum.”
Fifi paid the man and as they left she asked, “James, how’re you feeling son? What’s so special about this chest?”
“Mum, I don’t know yet. I just had to have it.”
When Fifi took the oaken box to be appraised she was astounded to discover that it had belonged to Mary Queen of Scots mother, Mary of Guise. The box had been used for safekeeping her private letters when she was in residence at Stirling Castle. The little chest was worth thousands although the letters it might have contained were long since gone. The only provenance was a small brand camouflaged in the grain of the wood in the right top inside corner of the chest, of a crown on a rock, hardly discernable except to an expert eye.
This strange incident established James as a divvy, a person with extrasensory perception, who can find true antiques. As he grew up he thought it prudent to hide his special gift from all but his closest friends, as he didn’t want to be taken for a kook. He would have the same experience, a choking dream, the weird eyes and cough whenever he was closing in on an object of exquisite value. Occasionally he would have the dream but he would miss finding the antique. He realized that his divvy power knew there was something close by but sometimes he wouldn’t know where.
The sound of the teakettle whistling woke him from his reverie. The memory of death subsided. James sat up wiggled his feet into his woolly slippers excited to find out just where this dream would lead him.