Aedan enjoys the last sunset before he leaves Cuba.

All Things Must End

Aedan enjoys the last sunset before he leaves Cuba.
Aedan enjoys the last sunset before he leaves Cuba.
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The ride to the airport seemed to take forever. Thankfully, the driver wasn’t particularly talkative which was fine by Aedan because his mind was busy considering why Noel might have left without saying a word when she seemed full of excitement about going out sailing with him and the Carlson’s the evening before. Never letting his guard down, he had been holding some internal reservations about their chance meetings among all the extraordinary events since leaving Seattle for this trip. However, those concerns were washed away in the many hours they had spent together yesterday. Now he found himself wondering if she had possibly become a target because of the secondary reason he was in Havana – to collect information about the case he was trying.

It seemed the taxi every red light during the 15 minute trip to the airport but each time the driver looked into the rear view mirror to check on his passenger, Aedan was looking out the window, deep in thought. When the taxi pulled up to the curb, before the driver could say a word, Aedan had already stuck his hand over the seat back to hand him the money for the fare while simultaneously opening the door.

Aedan jumped out of the car and headed immediately through the glass doors. Once inside he stopped and scanned left to right looking for a flight information board. He quickly spotted one down the hallway in front of him. He was looking for flights that had departed early in the morning since Noel had checked out so early. He saw nothing. Nothing on the boards went back that far.

On his way to read the board, he had passed a counter for the airline that he had arrived by earlier that week. Knowing that the attendants there spoke english very well, he approached the counter and asked the young attendant if she could tell him any flights that left between 5 and 8am. The attendant looked curious but without going into details he told her enough that she typed onto her keyboard and within seconds had a list of five flights that had departed during that window. Four were to various locations in Central and South America. One was to Miami.

Aedan stopped the attendant when she mentioned Miami. “Which airline was the flight to Miami on?”

“Oh, that was our flight, Senor” she quickly responded. “It left at 5:25 this morning and was right on time.”

“Can you tell me if there was a Noel Jensen on that flight?” Aedan took a long shot. He figured he knew the answer but had to ask, anyway.

“No Senor, I’m not allowed to give that information to you.”

Aedan was putting together his angle of attack, family…emergency…call for a manager. There must be a way to find out if she was on that flight. As he sifted through the possibilities his phone rang.

He pulled the phone from his pocket and saw Noel’s number. Thanking the attendant, he stepped away from the counter even as he was pushing the button to accept the call.

“Noel, where are you?” The concern was evident in his voice.

“Aedan, I’m sorry. I tried to call but…”

“Are you OK? Where are you?” He didn’t realize he didn’t let her finish her sentence.

“I’m at the airport in Phoenix, waiting for my mother to pick me up.”

Knowing she was safe, Aedan felt a weight lift from his shoulders. He made his way to the door to find a quieter spot to continue the conversation.

Noel had tried to call several times after she got a call from her mother telling her that her sister wasn’t expected to make it through the day, but the calls went straight to voicemail which told her his inbox was full. She hadn’t considered texting. Even while she waited to transfer planes in Miami there was no answer.

Aedan nodded as he listened to her. He was probably just waking by the time she reached Miami. He would look into his inbox being full after they talked. He hadn’t received any calls at all today.

Noel didn’t know the full extent of her sister’s condition yet. She had been ill for several months now but everyone thought she was doing well with the treatment. Noel promised that once she knew more she would call again.

The next two days were full of relaxation and exploration. Aedan enjoyed another relaxing evening with Ms. Romero, her family and others that came to relax and play games. The following day, he made it out sailing with the Carlson’s. The relative silence and power of using the wind to propel a sailing vessel through the water is mesmerizing and once again whetted his appetite for finding his own boat

On his last day in Cuba, Aedan found himself on the beach taking inventory of all that had happened since he left on vacation which felt like months ago. He had all but forgotten the huge change in his physical appearance. Or perhaps he hadn’t. Somewhere along the way he had decided to let his beard grow out as a possible way to distract attention from looking 20 years longer than when he left. He knew it wouldn’t be that easy but it was all he could do for now. Then there was the matter of the key and cryptic message from the theater and what that could possibly mean for the case he was trying.

He had come to Cuba to get an answer. Whether he found that answer or not he couldn’t know yet but he knew that he was possibly returning with more questions than answers.

 

Illusions

Aedan meets himself - several times
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A fog that lasts for a week with no retreat, that seeps under door and down stairways should disrupt the mood of anybody. Yet, today Aedan felt a bit of sadness as the sun pulled back the curtains and fully immersed everyone and everything for the first time since he arrived in this town over a week ago. It was though an old friend had left while he slept without saying good bye.

In any other circumstance he would have been overjoyed to see the sun. His vacation had been delayed and he was stuck in a town in which he didn’t know anybody before arriving. And frankly, Aedan had always preferred the sunny tropics to the cold north. However, things had worked out well. He warmed up to the locals who were nearly always bending over backwards to make him feel at home.

When he learned that one of the cases he was trying had been rescheduled and that his physical appearance was no longer necessary, he made arrangements to work remotely until the fog lifted and he could make his flight.  His associate Cathy was quite capable and Aedan imagined she probably relished the idea of ‘being in charge’. Without the typical interruptions of the office to deal with, Aedan re-evaluated all of the cases in his office and when prudent, communicated his concerns back to Cathy. He felt way ahead of the game and physically, was also feeling better than he had in years. He was ready for a well deserved vacation.

It wasn’t long before he had all of his bags packed and after verifying with the airport, the time of his departure, Aedan set off for a final walk along the waterway. He had seen it many times now but none with the sun shining.

Approximately halfway between his hotel and the cathedral housing the tall statue that caught his attention on his first day out,  there was a small sitting area in an open garden that had become a favorite spot for him. It was secluded and he had never once seen anybody there. Best of all for him, it was surrounded by a small, block faced garden wall which he found very convenient for leaning against while sitting in meditation.

On the floor of this small patio was etched roman numerals indicating the hours of a clock along with smaller divides between each hour.  It seemed an odd place to paint a clock face but it was a perfect place for meditating and with three hours to kill he thought a perfect place to spend the rest of the morning also.

It was no surprise that he found the patio empty other than the table and chairs that sat in the center. With the sun shininig it was a brighter white than he had imagined and all around, in the heavy trees that surrounded the area, birds sang in celebration of the sun.  It seemed that not everyone here preffered the fog.

After the relaxing walk, Aedan wasted no time in finding an open spot on the outside of the wall and sitting with his legs crossed, he leaned back against the wall and turned his palms up as his eyes closed. Not only did he prefer to have some support for his back while meditating, he had given up long ago in trying to sit in a lotus position. He simply hadn’t started this practice at an early enough age he told himself. Normally he would set a timer on his watch for 45 minutes but since he had plenty of time, he didn’t bother.

After years of meditating almost daily, Aedan still dealt with the ‘monkey brain’. Often he felt that he was just doing something wrong. Occasionally dozing off and finding his head nearly in his lap was another struggle he dealt with. At least he wouldn’t fall backwards with the wall behind him. Occasionally he would hear conversations in his head or see things but he was never quite sure if they were day dreams or important…still he persisted if only because he always completed a meditation session feeling rested.

When he began hearing voices today he was sure he wasn’t dreaming. He knew exactly where he was and that he had never seen anybody there over the last week. Thinking it was just his monkey brain having fun with him he practiced letting the voices flow into the distant road noise and singing birds.  They were just notes in a beautiful orchestra.  But they persisted.

There were three voices, one a child and the others adult men.  He tried to ignore them but soon came to realize that one of the voices was his. A smile filled his face as he told himself in yet another voice in his head that surely the monkey was having fun today. He sat third party to a conversation that he was participating. It was both amusing and unsettling because he couldn’t feel any of the thoughts in that voice. He played back and tried to change the conversation in his head but it went on and payed no heed to him. Finally he gave in and just listened.

As he listened it became quite apparent that the three of them knew each other very well. As they talked, a curious feeling came over Aedan as the child’s voice became more familiar to him.  Maybe it wasn’t the voice but the questions he asked and his responses…they could have been his own at a young age. At some point Aedan tried to join in on the conversation but nothing he thought changed the course of their discussion. He tried again but only grew anxious when he was ignored. Finally, in frustration he spoke out loud “Oh! Just stop it already!” and decided this meditation was over. The voices stopped but he had opened his eyes and was pulled himself back to his feet.  He brushed the dust off the seat of his jeans and turned around.

On the other side of the waist high wall were three people sitting at the table not 5 feet away from him. To his right was an older man that resembled his father but directly facing him was a man that could have been his twin! Nearest to him was a young boy who had turned in his chair to face him. Aedan stood their speechless. They all smiled at him.  His mind raced as he looked at each one again. He hadn’t really seen his father the last few years of his life but this is how he imagined him to look before he passed some twenty years prior. The boy was a spitting image of the photos his parents had kept of him in the photo albums that got pulled out every Christmas. His gaze turned back to his twin. He stared and thought “this must be a dream”.

“No, no it’s not. Come sit with us” His twin voiced and motioned to the one empty chair around the table.

Completely overwhelmed and expecting to wake up at any moment, Aedan made his way around the wall to the entrance of the patio. He looked at each of the three of them very closely as he slowly approached the table. As he took a seat in the chair a feeling of joy came over him. It was as if a huge secret was being shared with him. He was barely able to speak as he listened to them one by one.  It’s not that they wouldn’t have given him the chance but they answered all his questions even before he voiced them. As he listened he realized that he already knew the answers, he just hadn’t fully appreciated their implications. He simply sat in awe of what was being revealed to him.

“Mr. Charron! Mr. Charron, wake up!”

Aedan grasped for his breath and opened his eyes to find the young clerk from the hotel shaking at his shoulder.

“Hurry or you’re going to miss your plane!”

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