Into the Hollow
Dex was watching me as curiously as I was watching him. For once, he wasn’t going to push me into anymore compromising situations. That was quite the change.
“What else did he say?”
“That was about it. You know, the show ended the moment you left. He thinks I can just pair him up with someone else but to be honest Perry, people watched that show because of your dynamic. Your ghost hunting skills are terrible.”
Yeah, that’s because they’re the ones hunting us, I thought.
“Did the show really do well enough to warrant running again?”
“You’d be surprised. Anyway, the point is, I want to add you back to the lineup. He says no. What do you say?”
I wasn’t really sure what I thought about that. Dex was right in that I shouldn’t be putting myself in those situations again. I couldn’t bear the idea of being frightened to death on camera, especially if it had anything to do with ghosts and demons. But a job was a job. And a job would get me out of Dex’s apartment…even if it only put me back into his work.
“I heard him say something about money. Would you pay me more?” I asked, keeping my voice hard.
He sighed. “Yes, I’d pay both of you more. I was going to anyway, before you up and left.”
Dex’s face looked pained so I turned away and looked out the sliding door to the balcony. The Monorail roared past, making the walls shudder.
“I’m not particularly fond of ghosts right now. Or being on camera. But I need a job.”
“I can give you a job. Your job back. You wouldn’t have to deal with ghosts right away if you don’t want. I was discussing a particular phenomenon with Dex. It’s…well, it’s ridiculous and nothing more than an urban legend, but I still think it’s worth checking out.”
“What is it?”
“Have you heard of Sasquatch?”
I burst out laughing, clutching the phone before I dropped it.
“Bigfoot?” I cried out when I could.
I looked incredulously at Dex who shrugged, a giant smirk on his face.
“Wait, wait, wait,” I said to Jimmy, struggling to compose myself. “You want us to go Bigfoot hunting?”
“Sasquatch. He’s different.”
“He’s still Harry and the Hendersons. Don’t tell me you believe this?”
“Of course I don’t,” Jimmy sniped, sounding tired. “But this is very in right now. There’s a llama outfitters up in BC, in the Rockies, and they’ve been dealing with something that sounds a lot like Sasquatch. Plus, you’ve seen the television shows about it. There’s even an erotic novel about sex with Bigfoot, self-published of course.”
“Ah, well if Bigfoot erotica is catching on, we better get to it,” I joked, shaking my head.
“You and Dex will go up to the mountains, spending a few days there chasing around some llamas and maybe you’ll get footage of a bear or something. I don’t know. But it’s something and I want it to happen. And it’s a job. And, last time I looked, Bigfoot wasn’t a ghost.”
“Sasquatch,” I corrected him with a sigh. “Look, I’ll have to think about it. I don’t think I could even keep a straight face if I was on camera.”
“So don’t be on camera,” he said. “Put Dex on camera. You do the filming.”
My heart slowed and I raised my brows at Dex who was leaning on his thighs and tapping his foot. He probably had no idea of what was just suggested.
“Dex is a better editor than he is a cameraman. Sometimes, anyway. Point and shoot. Film him. Interact with him. Just try it out anyway, if it makes you feel better. If it doesn’t work, we can go back to what does. Point is, I want you.”
“I know you do…”
“He does too, he’s just trying to man up. I know, it doesn’t suit him. Let me talk to him, please?”
“OK,” I said, nodding and holding the phone out for Dex.
He got up and took it and I took that time to leave the bedroom. I went straight into the kitchen and poured myself a giant glass of water. I had never felt so thirsty and gulped it down quickly.
I leaned back against the fridge, Fat Rabbit sitting expectantly at my feet, and waited to hear Dex’s reaction. I could already hear a yelp or two from the bedroom.
I knew I was probably crazy for even considering re-joining the show, but given how I now had the chance to hide behind a camera and go chasing after a creature that emphatically did not exist, and therefore, couldn’t hurt me, it was hard to turn that down. Plus the pay would be more. And more pay would mean less living with Dex. Maybe after a few episodes I would be out. And yeah, it seemed redundant to then work with him, but whatever. I’d make myself deal. I was doing fine so far. Wasn’t I?
A text came into my phone, distracting me. Rebecca finally had my right number and she texted: Got you an appointment tomorrow at 3:45pm. I can come with you.
I texted her back, telling her thank you. I felt like a total dick the way I had glossed over her problems over lunch, as if what I was going through was more important than what she was going through with Em. I knew I needed to apologize in person. She was much nicer to me than she needed to be, especially considering Dex was her friend first and foremost.
After a few nail-chewing moments, Dex came out of his room, tucking his phone into his pocket and walking straight up to me in determined strides. I stiffened.
He put his arms on either side of me and leaned against the fridge, trapping me in between them, and lowered his face to mine. “Listen, kiddo, we might need to add one more clause to the house rules. Something about not negotiating someone else’s job behind their back.”
I held my ground and looked right back into his eyes, refusing to be intimidated. “It was right in front of your face. And Jimmy suggested it. I don’t recall saying yes.”
“But you wanted to,” he said huskily. He didn’t sound angry, just serious.
“How do you know that?”
“There are reasons why I told Jimmy no, Perry. The last time we went ghost-hunting, you ended up with a demon in your soul.”
“That demon started out as your ex-girlfriend,” I said quietly, hating that I had to bring her up. “And she came from here, this apartment, not from the mental institute.”
He winced, realizing what I had said. His eyes dropped away from mine and found my shoulder very interesting. “That may be true. But I never want to put you in danger again, intentional or not.”
I took my hand and placed it on the crook of his elbow. He tensed for a second at my touch. “I appreciate that. But this should be my choice. It’s a job, it’s money, and we’ll just take it one day at a time. I don’t see how I could be in any danger from something that doesn’t exist.”
He smiled softly and I wished his face wasn’t just inches from mine. “You can’t be too sure about that.”
I crossed my arms. “You don’t actually believe in that shit.”
“All I know is we’ve seen a hell of a lot of things that we can’t explain. So I’ve learned to not discount the unexplainable.”
“All right, Agent Mulder, say there is a Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, or just some really mangy bear out there. If I’m behind the camera, I’ll be safer.”
He took his arms off the sides of me and laughed, running a hand through his thick black hair. “Yeah, that’s the other thing I wanted to talk to you about. Do you seriously want to do the filming?”
“Sure I do,” I answered. Well, I guess I decided that one pretty fast.
“And you think that not only am I going to put you in potential danger with a mangy bear, but I’m going to hand over my precious equipment to you.”
“Point and shoot.”
“It’s more than point and shoot.”
“I know how to film, Dex. I think you’re just afraid of being on camera.”
He waved at me dismissively. “Please, this face was born to be on film.”
“From Agent Mulder to Norma Desmond,” I muttered. “Fine, I get that this might be odd but just do it for me.”
“Do it for you? Perry…you know I’d do anything for you,” he said softly. “I just didn’t think returning to Experiment in Terror would be one of them.”
I exhaled sharply, feeling I was very slowly wearing him down. “I guess it is. You know, this might be good for me. Look at this.”
I raised my arms and glanced around the apartment. “I’m in another state. I left my family in an outright mess. I don’t know how to explain to them why I left, I don’t know how long I’m going to be living here, I don’t know what the next step is. Being on the show is the only I do know right now. I just need this.”
It was surprising how much I really did need it. In that instance, I knew I needed something solid to stand on.
He nodded. “You got it, kiddo. If this is what you want, this is what we’ll do. But if at any point you want to pack it up and head back home, then that’s the end of it. I am not going to risk anything happening to you.”
“Aw, I’m pretty sure you could take on the big bad Bigfoot,” I teased and without thinking, I reached out and grabbed his bicep, squeezing it. It was hard. Damn hard.
Dex watched me closely, a smirk slowly spreading across his lips.
I let go and cleared my throat. “I, uh, better go finish unpacking.”
I hurried over to the den with Dex calling over my shoulder, “Hey I never saw a no-touching clause in the rules. Come back here.”
I closed the door and felt my legs turn to jelly. We were definitely going to need to add a no-touching clause, for my sake as well as his.
After a night of sharing sodium-soaked Chinese food with Dex and watching old seasons of The Simpsons together in semi-awkwardness, I felt bloated and gross the next day. I took Fat Rabbit for a walk and brought my phone along, knowing I had an important phone call to get out of the way.
I really didn’t want to talk to my parents. Call me scared and selfish and I won’t argue with you. The thought of having to face that mess terrified me but there was no way around it. I could procrastinate all I wanted, but the longer I left it, the more damaging it would be. For them, and probably for me.
I walked around the neighborhood several times as I made that call, past the pink elephant car wash and the duck buses, around brick apartment buildings and tourists heading to the Space Needle, even though the view would be stunted on this low clouded day. Fat Rabbit was looking seriously annoyed and dragging his lazy butt behind but the exercise would do him good and I was too anxious to care.
I talked to my dad first. Most of the conversation revolved around him yelling at me, while I tried to get a word in edgewise. The rest of it was a full-on guilt trip. I can’t say I didn’t understand where he was coming from. I know it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to my family for me to just leave so abruptly, especially when I was in such a mentally fragile state. And maybe they were right, too, to be concerned about me.