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|“So, how long do we have?” I asked my doppelganger.
“As long as you want. You can stay here until you’re ready to leave. You’re always welcome here, ya know?” he chuckled.
I smiled at the thought of being welcomed in my own mind and continued, “You know, I’m really trying to figure it all out.”
“Yeah, I know,” he responded, his mood becoming unusually somber.
“So, can you do me a favor?”
“Sure buddy, what do you need?”
“Can you show me the two times you took over?”
My doppelganger waved his hand and two windows in the darkness opened. Each showed the scenes where the rage had took over and each played the sounds. They overlapped and mingled, but I could discern which was which. I watched both intently, searching for any clue on why. As the scenes replayed over and over again, I thought about the people that were in them, how they were feeling, what was running through their heads. My mind felt the hopelessness, the despair, and eventually, the surrender to the fact that they would never be able to change what was happening to them.
Then it hit me like a sledgehammer. “You took over because there was no one else that could help. They,” I said as I waved to the screen, “were weak, helpless, and defeated. They were probably beaten up several times before we ever knew them, and yet no one helped. That’s why you took over, isn’t it? Because we have the ability to help where others refused.”
Suddenly, I heard a deafening roar resonate through the darkness. The totem pole that constantly stood behind my doppelganger shook as the bear sound in my head echoed. Then, as the reverberation began to fade, the section of the totem that had the bear and cubs lit up. With it illuminated, I could see how fierce the bear was, but yet, there was a sense of gentleness that came from it. I understood what it meant now. It was the representation of the need to protect those that could not protect themselves. It was my responsibility to be there for them, to care and nurture for those that have not come into their own.
My doppelganger began to clap. “Finally, he sees!” he cheered and I smiled. “You’re well on the way to what I have seen.”
“I was wondering about that too,” I commented. “How do you know what the future holds if you’re just a part of me? Are you sure you are just a part of my mind and not something more? And why can’t you tell me what you told the bears?”
“I knew this would come up eventually. Gabe, think of what I am as what you could be. Time, it is much like a mansion. There are dozens of hallways and rooms,” my doppelganger started as the darkness shimmered and brightened to reflect what he was saying.
“Each door and path represents a choice to be made. To open this door, or to go down the hall to another.” He placed his hand on the knob of the door before us, “You never know what is behind the door, just like you never know what will happen from your choice. Certain things though are fairly safe to assume. For example, if you walk in the street in rush hour traffic, a car will probably hit you. But other choices are not so clear cut. Like this door for instance. Behind it, there could be the most comfortable room imaginable, or it could be a storage closet filled to the brim with stuff. You could open this door and be buried under junk or be greeted by comfort and luxury.”
I listened intently as I tried to follow the theory behind it all. It reminded me a lot of the saying ‘a butterfly flaps its wings in Africa causes a tornado in Texas months later’.
“Now, let’s say that this door represents a choice that you know for certain would cause you some grief, for example, the two times I had to take over.” He opened the door and a large pile of random items fell onto the floor. “While this looks like a bad thing, and it is at the time, not all bad things are solitary events in a life. They shape and mold how you perceive the world. Each experience changes how we view things, no matter how small. Now while this choice and door led to something not as good as we would have wanted, watch and listen.”
I looked around for his point and soon after heard a door behind me unlock. A butler and maid emerged from the room and scampered near the mess we made. My doppelganger turned to me and said, “Follow me.”
We walked into the room where the maid and butler came from and he pointed to a staircase near the back wall. “You see, if you had never opened the door and had the bad things happen to you, you would have never been able to go up to the next level.”
“So, why don’t I just look at everything as a good thing, no matter how I feel?” I inquired aloud.
“It’s not that simple. Sometimes, things turn out for the best. Sometimes, they don’t. You will be frustrated and angry at sometimes. Even the most gentle of men have points that make them furious beyond belief.”
“Grizzly,” I said with quiet recognition.
“Yes, papa bear. Please, don’t force the issue with him. He’s going to have a hard time with one of the things I told him. But don’t hold it against him. He may be the strongest bear you know, and perhaps one of the strongest guys in the world, but he is still human. Just continue to look up to him and follow his footsteps. He will never lead you down the wrong path, but he cannot open every door for you or be beside you all the time. But believe me when I say, if you mirror his life, his gentleness and caring nature along with his dedication, things will be a lot easier in the time to come.”
The mansion faded away, leaving me in the darkness with my doppelganger and the now friendlier looking totem pole. He approached me and embraced me in a hug. When we connected, I felt a warm tingling sensation shoot from the soles of my feet up to my head and every fiber and muscle in between. My hairs stood on end for a moment, but it soon passed. My doppelganger smiled at me after releasing me from the warm bear hug and said, “Ok, it’s been a couple of hours now, time for you to get going back to the real world.”
I smiled and nodded at him and waved goodbye as I began to float upward. He grinned back and waved as I flew faster and faster away. Then, suddenly, I was back in control of my body and started to wake.
As my eyes readjusted to the light in the office, I noticed only one large figure sitting across from me. Instinctively, I called out, “Grizzly?”
Sam looked up from his book and said, “He’s out in the gym area. You were under for a while and I didn’t wanna wake you, so I told them to go ahead. Grizzly….umm….needed to work out a little.”
I stood up and looked Sam in the eyes, “I know. I could see how he reacted. I don’t know what was said, but I know you guys can’t talk about it. It’s ok. I understand now.”
Sam let out a sigh of relief and closed his book. “Man, that is good to hear. I didn’t know how we were going to dance around not telling you what was going on. But since you know we can’t tell you, it makes life a lot easier.”
He stood up to his towering height and placed the book back on the shelf behind him. Adjusting his glasses, he continued, “C’mon little cub, let’s go find ol’ Griz and Armstrong.”
We headed out of the office with Sam closing the door behind us. Again I’m hit with the overpowering fragrance of man, and again it makes me smile. We navigate our way through the gym, around the free-weight area, through the treadmills and to a closed off room. As we approach, I hear something making heavy ‘thud’ sounds.
“Man, he’s still going at it,” Sam sighed.
“What? What’s that noise?” I looked at Sam with concern in my head.
“That’s Grizzly working out some frustration.”
I reached over and slowly opened the door. Inside I saw a nice padded room that resembled a karate studio. Inside was mirrors lining one wall and three heavy bags bigger than Arnold hanging from the ceiling. At the furthest one though was Grizzly and Armstrong.
I stood in the doorway with baited breath as I watched the massive bears at the punching bag. Armstrong was braced against the bag as Grizzly wailed into it with blows that would have leveled a building. A pool of sweat had formed at his feet and I could see the tension and power that he possessed. His arms were bulging with power as he pounded the bag. I could see the force rise from his massive legs, up into is torso and through his arms. Armstrong also was getting a workout from holding the bag under Grizzly’s onslaught. His calves were flexed beautifully as he braced himself against the constant impact. I couldn’t see his chest, but his back was flared nicely under his tank top.
“Those two are so good looking,” Sam whispered.
“Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever seen two bears so big and strong before in my life.”
“You can be just like them, you know.”
“Yeah, I have a feeling that it’s quite possible, but for now, I’ll just enjoy the feast of muscle before me,” I chuckled.
“You got that right.” Sam laughed quietly.
Grizzly continued to pound on the bag with almost an unnatural fury. While it was so sexy seeing his body pumped and moving like that, I could tell something was wrong. Then suddenly, Grizzly roared and swung hard. The next moment, I could see sand pouring slowly from where his hand was.
“Fuck! Why does it have to be that way!” Grizzly screamed.
“Man, I don’t know. It sucks though,” Armstrong responded.
“I know what he said was true, but still, it sucks we can’t help him when…”
“AHEM!!!” Sam practically screamed, cutting the two bears off. “Our little cub is awake now, so let’s remember the promise.”
Grizzly’s face immediately softened as he saw me. He unclenched his fists and relaxed as Armstrong let the bag go. Sand continued to pour on the floor as Grizzly walked over to me and picked me up in a tight embrace. I felt love and concern through his hug, along with his amazing sweaty muscles. He held me there for a few minutes, letting me soak myself in his power. Then, he smiled and let me down.
“So cub, you feel like getting some chow? I’m sure these two big lugs know where a growing cub like you can get some meat.”
And just like that, the storm was over. Life was returning to normal, albeit with some minor differences.
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