(from “ABOUT — CHAPTER 3”
I was all excited — Zawmb’yee was going to hang-out with me in my apartment. I thought we could do a project together. I had some canvases and paint and I thought that Zawmb’yee, who is great at sketching, could do a pencil sketch and then I could paint over it. I like taking realistic sketches of photos and turning them into surrealistic pictures in intense colors with complementary vibrations on the edges of bright colors. But before I could suggest all this, Zawmb’yee says, you need a dust ruffle and bed spread, dishes, a better lamp, a decent writing table and curtains, and, and, and … I asked her where I was going to get all this stuff. She said not to worry — I’m going shopping with Chloë. When she saw that I was exasperated, she took a short pause from her extensive inventory, and asked, incidentally, if while she was doing the important things, if there was anything I wanted. I was trying to be flippant, and just tossed out a non sequitur: well, I’ve always wanted an ice cream maker. She gleefully said OK, and rushed out the door.
So much for my fantasy. It was a chaotic moving day.
Well, Zawmb’yee tidied up the bed spread, and got me to hang up the curtains. She plopped the ice cream maker on the kitchen counter. I asked Zawmb’yee what she wanted for dinner. She said, let’s just have the usual venison and buffalo fried in duck fat with truffles.
I thought sure. But then I realized, being out of the cave, we didn’t have access to the glacier anymore. “I don’t know where we would buy that. But now that we’re stranded here outside of the cave, I’m wondering how exactly is it that there is a limitless supply of frozen game in the cave? I’ve always just taken it for granted.”
Zawmb’yee said, “Well, legend has it that the gods … ”
“Uh, could we stop with the ‘gods’ already — who in particular. I mean, I know that Zusoiti said that only she can speak the names of the gods, but this is getting to be ridiculous … ”
“Alright. In the legend, Kragzluk, the god of preservation and death, struck down many deer with lightning. He called forth his brothers from the sky and they built a moving river of skins that transported the deer into the Cave of Stillness. It is said that the cave was filled with a great mist … ”
“Where did you read this? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this before.”
“Oh, it’s not in a book. Utcoozhoo has been showing me the visions of history and … ”
“Wait … You’re giving me a narrative interpretation, but you’ve seen this as a movie in your mind?”
“Well, yeah, sort of. I’m learning a vision and a narrative. I mean, I can’t present the vision that easily to anyone, so I have to start somewhere. This is like a summary in narrative form. OK? Can I just continue with the story form — it’s a lot easier?”
“Uh, yeah, OK”
“The hidden fire was drawn out from the mist, to the back of the cave, melting rock. A great glacier was formed around the deer. In a fury, the deer were engulfed in a snow storm while lava flowed deeply into the earth and under the ocean. With all heat gone from the deer, they became rocks.”
“Is this like a super-duper refrigerator?”
“I guess so … and so what Do we have?”
“Uh, well. We have strawberries, sugar, honey, cream, bananas, potato chips, and wine … ”
“Well, OK, then, we’re having banana ice cream, potato chips, and wine for dinner … ”
Zawmb’yee is hardly ever around. She’s been going to art galleries and museums with Chloë. Apparently, they’ve gotten over their jealousies, and are now like sisters. Zawmb’yee has been teasing me by asking if I know if Chloë really has natural red hair. Zawmb’yee says, y’know, Chloë misses you and she thinks your quirkiness is cute. Zawmb’yee is getting to be a very warm person, but I don’t think I want her to start thinking about me like a brother — I mean, I don’t want to be best friends, unless, during a tête-à-tête, I can suddenly see those hungry eyes, the devouring look, the pull of the moon lust, the tides on finger ripples, stroking waves, gorgeous tumescence.
I don’t know — I watch her greet everyone with such kindness, and when I see her go, I am so proud of her like a Father who sees his daughter go into the world, more magnificent than any princess he thought he could raise, he, being mere serf, wishing his daughter an education in the palace of fulfillment. Oh daughter of my humble teachings, go beyond me to play in the boomerangs of your innocent love that swoons on every lonely creature redeemed with a smile, a sparkle.
Such beauty I must share with everyone — you are so happy when you laugh in the public square. Can you see me clapping in the crowd that I love you in tears I’ve been hiding. No, no, you are not of family. No, you are of family. Please tell me: where shall I kiss you?
Zawmb’yee is sleeping over at Chloë’s house so she can go with Chloë in the morning to a Yoga class. Chloë’s been taking Zawmb’yee everywhere. She’s going to be totally immersed in the très chic cultural things and I suppose Utcoozhoo will be pleased that she’s learning the skills of assimilation.
Chloë’s been telling Zawmb’yee all about the Blue Attic Club. I had thought that it was closed down by the city building department years ago. As I remember it, it was quite controversial because their gimmicky building design violated all the safety codes. The avant-garde owners buried a house except for the attic in a mound of concrete. To enter, you had to walk up a hill and climb through a window in the attic. There were no doors. The whole site was condemned but forgotten. In winter, at the first snow storm, kids would scale a fence, climb up the hill with their sleds and slide down. I guess someone bribed the right official to get the building permit and certificate of occupancy, because from what I’m hearing, it’s thriving.
Zawmb’yee says that by day it’s an art gallery, and at night they have disco and lectures. She wants me to come with her and Chloë to a lecture called “Introduction to Mystical Quirks.” I guess I should go — it’ll be great to see Chloë strut her stuff, giggling and dancing, flinging her red hair in a freckled frenzy and … oh, yeah, it’s just a lecture. Well, anyway, it could be fun — they’ll have wine and cheese and whatever.
OK, I think I see why Zawmb’yee is so excited. Chloë got the main contract to do the interior decoration of the Blue Attic Club, and she’s letting Zawmb’yee be a subcontractor, so to speak — I don’t know what the official terminology is. But anyway, this is great: Zawmb’yee is really taking off in business — she’s got her public relations projects too. She’s really learning how to be a multidisciplinary entrepreneur. I’m so proud of her.
I’ve gotten a little bit more organized. I’ve stocked the refrigerator with some decent food, gotten my cooking equipment in order. Next time, I’m going to make a decent diner for us. I was embarrassed that we had potato chips and ice cream for dinner the last time. I do know how to make lasagna and that’ll be easy enough, or the garlic bottle has a recipe for “garlic lime chicken” that I could try — I put a little cilantro on my tongue and it seems like it’ll be OK.
Yes, I’ve got to see the Blue Attic Club. Chloë really gets around. I have to hear more. This will be a challenge: I really want to hear about her design work, but when she speaks I watch her lips, and the way she moves her hair off her forehead, the way she interjects little colloquialisms into her formal speech like “that’ll be cool”. It’s so hard to listen when she says “oh wow” and her breasts are smiling at me.
I came early and waited at the bottom of the hill, surprised to see a crowd milling around, looking at posters for the Blue Attic Club. Only a few people, not shy to be officially early, walked up the hill, and climbed in the attic window. Some who had difficulty were helped by the security guard to sit on the sill and be guided in by hands in the interior. One guy, wanting to be a bigshot, vaulted in, probably gracefully, but I liked to imagine that he flew in with too much speed and fell on his face, although, I couldn’t actually see that.
I was feeling a bit out of place when I heard a voice behind me.
“Doug!” said Chloë, and she pressed her lips on mine so hard that my toes urged my arms into an overdrive of exploration until she laughed, “Not here.”
Damn, I thought, that is natural red hair, and the legs of a gazelle, the grace of a dancer, an actress in the play of ecstasy, a leap in my elevation …
“Oh hi,” I said to Zawmb’yee who had arrived behind me. She kissed me with a quick tongue brush.
Zawmb’yee said, “You’re really going to like this place. I have our tickets — let’s go in.”
We began up the hill. I said, “Zawmbee Warmbee, you’ll never guess…”
“Guess what?” she said.
“I’m making us garlic lime chicken for dinner tonight.”
“Hmm, that sounds good. It’s like marinated or something?”
“Yeah, you’re really going to like it. Marinating things seems to soften and entice the hunger, don’t you think?
Chloë said, “Cumin in the cilantro with red pepper?”
“Um, yes,” I said.
Zawmb’yee started singing the folk song, “She’ll be comin’ around the mountains/when she comes/when she comes…”
We joined in, dancing up the hill, singing, “She’ll be cumin around the cilantro when she comes, when she comes. She’ll be drivin’ around the hilly when she comes, when she comes.”
We continued singing at the top of the hill:
“ ‘She’ll be driving six red buffalo
When she comes
(When she comes)
She’ll be driving six red buffalo
When she comes
(When she comes)
She’ll be driving six red buffalo
Driving six red buffalo
She’ll be driving six red buffalo
When she comes
(When she comes)’ ”
Chloë’s friend, Susan, who was a helper at the window and the doorman/windowman began singing,
“ ‘She’ll be climbing in the window
When she comes
When she comes,’ ” then Chloë —
“‘Chloë’s climbing in the window as I come, as I come.’ ”
“ ‘Zawmb’yee’s sailing through the window, sailing through the window and … ’ ”
“ ‘Doug is climbing in the window, as I come, as I come.’ ”
The grand entrance made us all laugh. I think, we three made for the best arrival performance of any attendee. It was certainly an odd venue for a club. In the middle of the floor was a trap door with a folded wooden ladder mounted on top of it. In one corner was a round cutout in the floor with a fireman’s pole in the center.
Chloë said, “Isn’t this great? Geez, it was such a challenge to balance out the ladder in the middle of the floor. It serves now as a kind of central sculpture until its utility is demonstrated. But Zawmb’yee is the one who made the perfect placement for the couches and added her spectacular ironwork, ‘Spiral Staircase to the Stars’. It reaches up like a tree that never quite touches the moon, though the birds are quite happy to rest on a branch that is somewhat lower than heaven.”
“Um, Chloë,” said Zawmb’yee, “does anyone really believe this drivel. I mean, it is just a hunk of metal.”
“Yeah, I know, but you have to let the nouveau riche enjoy their elitist status. How else can you keep the price of abstract junk up high. Remember the slogan of design: ‘Abstraction above meaning will analyze emptiness into a feeling of fulfillment. Let a dolt be happy and the universe is yours.’ ”
Zawmb’yee said, “You’re so cynical Chloë. Y’know, even if I do say so myself, I think my sculpture in a weird way is kind of beautiful … ”
“Well, yeah,” said Chloë, “you’re an exception to every rule — you do add a je ne sais quoi to everything you do. ”
“Thanks, you’re quite skillful hiding in French phrases, but I guess ‘I don’t know what’ does it, huh.”
“Gads,” I said, “you two are both grand sculptures of joy, however you want to define it. I think you both did a great job with a difficult space!”
Susan unlatched the trap door and pushed it down. Someone from below reached up to pull down and unfold the ladder. Climbing up the ladder, a line of people marched straight for the window, and ran down the hill.
“What happened to them,” I asked.
“Oh, the early advanced lecture,” said Susan, “creates that reaction. They’re purging their emotions and releasing some energy … but, anyway, don’t worry about that — you’ll enjoy the introductory experiential. When the crowd clears, you can go down.”
Zawmb’yee said, “You really ought to fix that so you don’t have to keep the door latched up. I mean, it only happened once that someone walking around the floor up here accidentally stepped on the folded-up ladder and fell through … ”
“We’re working on a plan for a regular staircase, Zawmb’yee.” Susan shouted down, “Is everyone out?”
A voice shouted up, “We’re ready for the next group.”
Susan said, “OK, Chloë, lead the way.”
Chloë took off her high-healed shoes and threw them down to the floor below. She faced the ladder barefoot and reaching up with her hand said, “Doug … ”
I thought it was some sort of ‘temple’ ritual, so I removed my shoes and threw them down the stairs.
“No, no, no,” said Chloë, “you don’t have to remove your shoes — I just did that because heels are hard on ladders.”
Zawmb’yee laughed so hard that she crashed into me, and fell to the floor. She took off her sneakers, and threw them down the opening.
Somebody down below said, “What are you people doing? Just come down.”
We all came barefoot down the ladder.
“Welcome,” said Carl, the group leader. “Please sit anywhere in the circle of chairs.”
We sat together in three chairs. Poor Carl stayed at the bottom of the ladder while people threw shoes at him. He finally had to climb up the ladder and tell Susan to please tell everyone that they don’t have to take off their shoes.
An odd bunch of people filled up the chairs. It was an even mix of men and women. Some of the women were really hot and … oh, never mind, Chloë and Zawmb’yee were plenty hot for me. But a few strangers were quite peculiar as Chloë and Zawmb’ye pointed out. A little too much everything: height, weight, jaw shape, and various things busting out.
Carl, a tall thin man with a gray beard, strolled into the circle of chairs, a center of the wheel, gazing on the spokes that emanated from the seated. “Welcome to ‘Introduction to Mystical Quirks’. I will demonstrate to you today that thoughts penetrate into surprising places. We will learn a little bit of ‘psychometry’. From the Greek ‘psyche’ this means we will endeavor to measure and interpret the ‘soul of objects.’ The theory of operation is unknown, but thoughts and emotions seem to embed themselves at some level into material objects. Is it at some Quantum level ? — I don’t know. By what principle of action does it occur — I don’t know. Psychics get into a lot of trouble by proposing speculative and flawed theories about what they do which are easily shot down and ridiculed by physicists. However, psychometry works, and has been demonstrated to work, although the mode of operation is unknown.
Before we begin, let me emphasize that the reception of information comes through the subconscious. We will do a meditation to quiet the ego.
Yes, a question?”
A man of great stature who threw out his chest like a pregnant woman trying to get her stomach into a comfortable position, who would knock over anyone who would disagree with him, stood and said, “Don’t we have to think rationally at all times to overcome the meanderings of our emotions which wander into unsubstantiated feelings about what is true? There has to be a rational explanation for everything. Doesn’t there?”
Carl said, “Sir, may I borrow your ring for a minute. I’m just going to hold it in my hand, and then I’ll give it right back to you.”
“Well, if you like.” He pulled it off his ring finger, and brought it to Carl.
“Let’s see … give me a minute. You and your wife are still arguing about a divorce. She wants to know why you first even considered having an affair with Emily. She thinks you never cared about the children, and you’ve destroyed Thomas at a vulnerable age and … ”
“Stop, stop,” the ringless man shouted. “I get it, I get it, but it’s a lucky guess … Can I have my ring back, please?”
Carl returned the ring. He said, “OK, we’ll just proceed without any further explanation. Just relax and have fun — believe whatever you want … ”
Carl pushed a button on a remote control. Baroque music began to play. There was a throbbing bass, the sound of an undulating whale, and an overhead strobe light flashed slowly like a slow-motion disco.
Carl said, “Everyone stand and hold hands. Let go of your ego chatter, and meld into the relaxing music. Some of you are thinking, ‘what the hell is this crazy person doing, and why did I come here, because he’s nuts, and I feel silly — I wonder if I should leave now…’. Please put this ego chatter aside, have an open mind, think about nothing. Just allow the music to flow over you like a wave of bliss, warmth on the beach of paradise, the vacation you’ve always imagined, lying in the sun, knowing you have everything you’ve always wanted. The warmth of the sun relaxes you. You are one with the universe, and feel the kind essence of every human being. You are at one … Open to the all — the matrix of knowledge. Be a visitor to every atom. Extend yourself into the flow of energy … listen, see … ”
Someone said, “I’m spinning … ”
Carl said, “Don’t worry. Just focus on a star that is still. Rest there and enjoy.
“You are now receptive to the ineffables of connectedness. Let the music be mystery, a tide of being.
“We will continue, but hold onto your receptivity. Those of you who need to, please open your eyes. I am going to pass around a hat. I want you to remove something that you wear often — a watch, a ring, or something else and place it in the hat. Alright, pass the hat along and put something in it.”
The hat was passed around. I took off my watch, and put it in. The hat completed the circle, and reached Carl’s hand again.
Carl said, “I’m going to mix this up and pass this around again. I want you to select an item at random, take it in your hand, and infuse yourself into every atom of its being.”
The hat was passed around again. I pulled out a ring. I didn’t see what Zawmb’yee took. Chloë took out a purple bracelet.
When everyone had taken something, Carl continued, “Hold the object in your hand, close your eyes, and allow an image or a dream to appear … at this moment, don’t try to interpret it — just observe. OK, let’s take a few moments for this …”
After what seemed like a long while, Carl said, “Would anyone like to describe what they’ve seen?”
I raised my hand.
“OK, you can be first. What is your first name?”
“OK, Doug, tell us about your vision, or experience.”
I said, “I saw a dining room table that was not being used for its intended purpose. There was a draw in the table, and in the draw were needles, sewing equipment, scissors, leather — some sort of arts and crafts materials — but nothing that would be used for eating or dining. I saw a wrecking ball come through the wall and destroy the dining room…”
“Can anybody,” said Carl, “relate to this?”
A woman in pink said, “Well, I’ve been trying to run an arts and crafts business out of the dining room. I do all my work in the dining room, all my tools are in the draw, and we never get to eat in there anymore. I want to open up a shop and we’ve been thinking of moving … ”
“Interesting,” said Carl. “Yes, you’ll definitely be moving. Good. Doug hold up the object.” I took the ring out of my palm and held it up.
“Is this your ring?”
“Yes,” she said.
Carl said, “Good. You can give the ring back, Doug.”
I brought the ring over to her. Hmm, I’m thinking, I didn’t pick up much, but maybe it worked a little.
“OK,” said Carl, “anybody else?”
There was silence. Carl said, “Are we having a problem? I see a hand — yes, and you are?”
“Chloë. I’m holding this purple bracelet in my palm, but no images seemed to form. There was just blackness. ”
“OK. Try putting it on. Close your eyes and try again … Everyone quiet — let’s give Chloë a few moments to meditate.”
About fifteen minutes went by and then Chloë spoke up. “I see great sheets of ice coming down from the North, covering all the major cities. There is great suffering and chaos. There are spontaneous rebellions all across the world and all the major powers collapse. In the midst of a famine, a great Queen appears who brings endless supplies of food. Seeming to be wise and benevolent, she is not challenged as she seizes all the reins of power. Slowly the people are enslaved and her secret police become apparent to everyone … and um … ”
“I can’t continue … I”m overwhelmed with her hatred and seething anger and … ”
“Well, take a rest for a moment.” said Carl. “This sounds fascinating … Whose bracelet is this?”
A large woman in a purple and green dress raised her hand. An armful of bracelets clanged as she signaled. She was wearing big gold earrings and a purple choker.
Zawmb’yee stood up immediately, glanced at Chloë, and said, “Excuse me, I’m feeling sick. I have to use the Ladies’ room.” Chloë stood and they both left the room quickly.
Carl said, “Well, OK, this might be a good time for an intermission. We’ll come back to this.”
After twenty minutes Zawmb’yee tapped me on the shoulder. “We have to go now,” she said.
It seemed urgent. Chloë was upset. Zawmb’yee ran to the corner of the room to pick up a broom. She used the broom handle to tap on the ceiling. The trapdoor came down, and she pulled the ladder out. Chloë stumbled up the ladder in her heels. I followed Zawmb’yee up.
Chloë called to Susan, “Call us a cab. We have to go right away.” She followed Susan to the phone.
I asked Zawmb’yee, “What’s the matter?”
She said, “That lady was Ngheufel in drag. Chloë is sick — she’s sorry she ever dated him, but there’s more to it. I saw something too, but I can’t tell you now … Um, do you have enough chicken for Chloë?”
“Sure,” I said.
“OK, we’ll go to your place.”
Chloë came back. “The cab is on its way,” she said. “Let’s go down the hill now.”
We scrambled out the window. The summer air seemed much too warm for snow.
We arrived at my apartment, a trio of evangelists without a cause, nude of belief, looking for shelter and the loincloth of minimalist humility or an orgy. Zawmb’yee unlocked the door, and Chloë charged in.
Chloë, picking up a chair and throwing it across the room, screamed, “I run the council!”
Zawmb’yee whispered in my ear to put on some music. “Chloë,” said Zawmb’yee, “you’re still wearing the purple bracelet … ”
Chloë said, “It’s mine now. I’m keeping it … ”
“Chloë, you’re such a great dancer. Go ahead. Get into it … Doug, you know this one — sing it … ”
Chloë picked up a lamp and smashed it on the floor.
“Ok, ok,” I said, “I’ll try — uh, well, let me rewind to the beginning … ”
Zawmb’yee said, “Rock ‘n Roll! Shake it Chloë. Dance, dance, dance … ”
I sang, trying to let the music drown me out,
get on up
Thunder in your true light
Raise that thunder white
Hey flash me
be just right
Stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp
when dancing feet
Your lover calls you
up the hill
to squeeze you
like a grape
to ferment you some
I call you sunshine
my rainbow love;
you make my rain, darling
tears of glory
Cry me happy
Cry me true —
Can you love me
like a raindrop
’cause I will be your downpour
flooding you with love. ”
When I stopped mangling the lyrics and was silent for a moment, the rhythm got to me and I got up and danced with Chloë’s gyrating cheeks and soulful thrusts, voluptuous spins, syncopated with bends of sorrow and leaps of ecstasy, the anguish and the hope.
Zawmb’yee joined us. They are such great dancers. Never stop, never stop. I don’t want to die in my sleep. I want to die dancing. Move me into heaven.
Zawmb’yee clapped for Chloë and I joined her. “Chloë,” I said, “you are the hip of curvaceous beats. You lifted me into jumping so high I thought I could dance like a plane down a runway and take off. I am surprised I did not hit the ceiling.”
Chloë said, “You are not a bird, and cannot fly. I am a bird.”
“Yes, you are a pretty bird. We love you pretty bird. Awaken into us.”
Zawmb’yee said, “Wake up Chloë. You are with friends.”
“I think,” said Chloë, “I’m done with Ngheufel. Let’s have some garlic lime chicken.” She took off the purple bracelet. “You can have this Zawmb’yee.”
Zawmb’yee said, “Thanks Chloë. Doug, let’s eat.”
Zawmb’yee finally got to set the elegant table that she bought for special guests. She was in her glory, bringing out the good dishes, and the silverware. The candle that she lit made the blue of her eyes sparkle, and she smiled like a duchess in a time of peace, no enemies at the castle gate.
Somehow, I managed not to burn the chicken, and the sugar snap peas, broccoli, red peppers, and cauliflower combo from the supermarket with olive oil and balsamic vinegar wasn’t bad. Zawmb’yee loved the colors of the fruit cup too; I threw slices of everything in there: kiwi, strawberry, white grapes, blueberries, cherries, plums, peaches, a little lemon and orange juices.
I loved watching them enjoy their meal. When they savored a morsel with the contemplation of the tongue, the pause in the chew to purr in satiation, I could gaze upon them to taste their beauty with my eyes. Gusto was mine, theirs, and ours. My sugar passes me the salt and I am spiced.
I was so turned on to lust by the dance of Chloë and Zawmb’yee that I struggled to remember the cliché, ‘look up here, and love me for my mind — not every breast has milk’. But Chloë was sick over Ngheufel. Zawmb’yee decided to get us a bottle of champagne.
My cork screw had a gentle lift, and nothing was spilled. I’m glad I bought the deluxe version that lifts the cork gracefully, allowing celebrants to do their own popping, and own bubbling.
Zawmb’yee said, “My Mother said that wine made her sleepy, but she was a liar: she got silly; she got high; she denied she had inhibitions (she denied she had ambitions). I toast in praise of intoxication when a shy one can say, ‘I love you’, without a blush or a stutter, and the foolishness is harmless poetic exuberance. Gee, I always wanted to use ‘exuberance’ in a sentence — I think I’ve done it.”
“Oh Zawmb’yee,” said Chloë, raising her glass, “you can be so elegant, and um, I’ll drink to that.”
We clinked our glasses together, and we all sparkled. I almost said it, but I didn’t know how to express the nuance of it — I knew I felt to say, ‘I love you both,’ and yearned to know them completely, but how could such an aroused creature as I admit that I wanted them to love me for my mind as dessert or is it as main course — I don’t know: metaphors confuse me. I must rise to the occasion (ha).
Zawmb’yee said, “Well, we don’t have a drawing room, so for dessert, Doug, why don’t you read us a poem.”
“Um,” I said, “I was hoping for ice cream.”
“Yeah,” said Chloë, “go get your book and pick something.”
I walked slowly to the book shelf trying to compose myself. Maybe I could do a handstand instead — they might like that.
Zawmb’yee yelled, “Anything. Come on.”
“OK,” I said, “here’s one called ‘Blubber’:
The psychic woman
had showed her
rough seas ahead,
said beware the tides
and flowing kisses,
but that seemed like
shallow waters to her
She had a fifth
her thick handkerchief
mopping up her eyes
highly high on her trumpeted mope
slipped on her poor spilled
cocktail of his love kisses
across the stage
where she was to sing beige
before a sea of mahogany tables
over drunks and hecklers
sticky stinky beckoning
bass strings plucking her heart
woe tale wagging about him
the bragging whale
who blew his spout
and left her high and dry.
Seeing her collapsing,
I could not bear her despair,
rose to say,
“I have always loved you,”
and we all stood,
hecklers and all,
to beg the last song
She knew me at last–
kissed me, the little one
Turning from beige to blue
caressing the mike,
she rasped in weeping harmonies
‘Stand for me
the stood-up one;
harpoon my love and
sail me to the Port,
wine me down mellow,
me, a cello solo
singing this tale of prophecy:
the big ones get away, and
the little ones stay.’ ”
Chloë said, “Yeah, Ngheufel is big enough to be a whale.”
We all laughed.
Zawmb’yee said, “About intoxication and the toast … Did you want to say something, Doug?”
I said, “Well, um … Are we all shy?”
“I am,” said Chloë and Zawmb’yee in unison.
I took a breath in and out. I said, “I love you too.”
Zawmb’yee said to Chloë, “You should crash here. I’ve got a baby doll nightgown you can wear. I’ll show you.”
“Yeah,” said Chloë, “good idea. I’m exhausted.”
“Doug,” said Zawmb’yee, “can you clear the table. Thanks, and can you find us some cheese and crackers and some wine on a tray?”
“Sure,” I said. I piled everything up and dumped it in the kitchen sink. Tray, tray, tray — where was the tray? I found it. I put some crackers on a dish, smeared a cheese spread over them with something that looked like a palette knife. Can opener? I found it. I opened a can of anchovies, and put a few on some of the crackers. What else? Olives looked nice and … I took all the cheeses we had, dumped them into a corner of the tray, plopped down the box of crackers, threw down a bunch of napkins and utensils, put a bottle of wine under my arm, and grabbed onto the tray. “I’m coming,” I yelled out.
I carried everything into the bedroom. Chloë and Zawmb’yee were sitting on the bed in some frilly things.
Zawmb’yee said, “Put the tray down over here, and take off your shirt and jeans. I think it’s bedtime and you don’t need any pajamas.”
I put my jeans on a chair and sat between them. They did something with the crackers, and I drank some wine.
Chloë said, “You have the anchovies, Doug — I know you like them.”
“Pass the wine,” said Zawmb’yee. “I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to tell you what I think I saw, and … ”
“Let’s not,” said Chloë, “think about all that right now. Let’s just relax. Sweet dreams, and … ” Chloë yawned.
Zawmb’yee yawned. “I’m so tired.”
I thought I would say something clever, but my eyes were drooping. I blinked, and my eyes closed. I forced them open, and went to the bathroom where I splashed water on my face. I wanted to stay awake a little longer. Coming back into bed, the fatigue was overtaking me, and I yawned again. Chloë’s eyes were closed. Zawmb’yee kissed me and turned the light off. My thoughts were fading into nothingness, a gentle buzz hushed me, and my body felt heavy. I fell asleep.
Oh the joy and hazard of falling asleep with Chloë and Zawmb’yee in the bed with me. I dreamed I was on the railroad in a center seat. Chloë was sitting to my left, and Zawmb’yee was sitting to my right. Unbuttoning her blouse, Chloë took my left hand, guided it under her bra onto her left breast. Zawmb’yee took my right hand and guided it over her right breast. The rising of the nipples and me was exquisite as Chloë reached into my pants with her right hand to raise my monument even higher, and Zawmb’yee with her left hand cupped my base of swimming ecstasy.
As Chloë and Zawmb’yee held my hands to their breasts, a female conductor with purple hair came down the aisle. She said, “Tickets please, all tickets please.”
I said, “I can’t reach my ticket … ”
She bent down and kissed me on the lips. “You don’t need a ticket,” she said.
Chloë and Zawmb’yee held my hands while the conductor sat on my lap. Stroking my face and head, and reaching into her pocket, she pulled out an electric razor. Quickly she shaved my head. I realized it was Zusoiti. She said, “The land will be nude like your head, and the ice will descend.”
An announcement came over the public address system: “Please be advised that passengers are subject to random searches. Also, please take note: if you see a suspicious package, report it to a transit worker or the police — ‘if you see something, say something’ — and have a nice day.”
Zusoiti said, “I must inspect this suspicious package,” and she pulled down my pants. “Aha,” she said, and touched my tip.
Zawmb’yee and Chloë chanted, “Banana cream pie, banana cream pie.”
Zusoiti caught my cream in a cup. She whipped it up with a whisk into a meringue.
I pulled my hands back as Zawmb’yee and Chloë stood up, took cans of whipped cream out of their bags and sprayed it into my mouth.
Another conductor came by and said, “Tickets please, all tickets please.”
I woke up. I’ve always liked real whipped cream. But now they only have the artificial stuff — no, no, no. I used to make it with heavy cream, but I don’t even think they sell that anymore.
Waking up from such a dream is hard to do, but Zawmb’yee was kissing me, and she said, “I’m making breakfast.” Before I could say something, she was out of the room. I lay hungry, and laid my dream aside.
After staring at my erection, Chloë got up and went to the bathroom. When she came out, I went in. I had to wait a long time before I could urinate. Finally I was soft enough to go.
Chloë was asleep again. All of us were so tired we could have lain in bed all day. I touched down onto the bed, landing my behind in the slump of the mattress, sighing.
An awakening. Caressing my face, sliding a leg over, and another, Chloë used her hands strategically to ready me for launch, and she lowered herself on my rocket. I fondled her
globes, and we rolled over. Massaging her legs with my feet, my fingers strolled along her pathways.
Zawmb’yee came back into the room. She touched me on the behind. I said, “Oh, ah, oh, ah, oh ah, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm.” I can be so articulate sometimes. Chloë hugged me, and Zawmb’yee stroked my legs. I made some noises.
The phone rang. Zawmb’yee left to answer it. Chloë rolled us over again and with her cave she squeezed my overgrown soda-straw stalactite, nursing it with her inner lips.
Zawmb’yee came back in the room. Chloë and I moaned. Zawmb’yee said, “Chloë, you have a phone call.”
Chloë got up. The doorbell rang. Chloë and Zawmb’yee left the room. I could have lain in bed all day. But I rested for just a short while. I think I might have fallen asleep again.
But I heard Chloë calling me from the living room. She’s been into satires of Shakespeare lately and had me read some.
Chloë shouted, “Wherefore art thou Romeo?”
I called back, “Because here I am an arrow in your bow that you fling like a beau in a sling, I am here, outrageous to think of joy, Juliet, when you are of class and I am pupil enlarged to see thee.”
Zawmb’yee yelled, “Am I not the feathers on your arrow that makes your flight run true to rise as the Sun when I am the Moon?”
The visitor, who was in the living room with them, spoke up. Utcoozhoo said, “Whoa young lovers; doth thou not trample on lines the planets forbid?”
Cackles and guffaws galore, gorgeous was the laughter. I got dressed.
I came into the living room. “Uncle Utcoozhoo,” I said, “this is a pleasant surprise. Would you like something to drink or a piece of garlic lime chicken?”
Chloë said, “Y’know, I think that ‘doth’ is third person, but ‘thou’ is second person.”
“Argh,” said Utcoozhoo, “modern English is hard enough, and ancient English appears to be only for thee, Chloë, if you would be the objective case, but you are strong like a nominative, and as I understand it, ‘wherefore’ means ‘why’ not ‘where’. So thou art not an object, but the subject of admiration by some Romeo (oh, that makes it an object?), fixated on red hair and the art of the hunt. Feed him love and his growling will turn into ferocious purrs in basso profundo, the roar of gratitude when the bosom of welcome is safely calm, romantic but real, and fun.”
Zawmb’yee said, “Oh yeah, and don’t blondes have more fun?”
“Well,” said Utcoozhoo, “you are already a ferocious spirit who has learned every lullaby that calms every hurt. Who could resist your song and gentle touch?”
“Huh, what?” said Zawmb’yee.
Utcoozhoo said, “Could you just let me be diplomatic and vague, please. You both are so intense. Cool it … I have good news … ”
“Yes,” I said, “good news?”
“Zawmb’yee, I’ve gotten you and Doug a full pardon, so it’s safe for you to come back into the cave … ”
“How,” said Zawmb’yee, “did you do that?”
“Well, it’s a little complicated: I have agreed to give a substantial number of ingot bars of gold, platinum, and palladium to Zusoiti from the Tzalbihuki on condition that she, personally, come out of the cave and open up a bank account in her own name. She has agreed to sell the metals herself … ”
I said, “Isn’t that worth a fortune, and won’t it make her more powerful?”
“Well,” said Utcoozhoo, “it’s a gamble, but I’m counting on the fact that she knows nothing about the tax laws, and will be raising a lot of red flags — the more ostentatious she is in her spending the better. I’m pretty certain that the temptations of the up-top world will seduce her, considering how isolated she’s been as a dedicated hermit and cave person.”
“Gold bars?” asked Chloë.
“The gods left a stockpile of supplies — an endowment, you might say. As Varishynahuki, guardian of the endowment, I can distribute it as I see fit, but it is a tricky business. We’ve spent years setting up sham mining companies and businesses to hide our true source of income. One must not tell the IRS that one has obtained gold from the gods.”
Chloë said, “You can use any amount? … How much is there and … ”
“It’s vast, but there are quite a few restrictions. For example, we are forbidden to drink or touch the waktalbup … ”
“It means, ‘water with a heavy heart’.”
“Well … ”
Zawmb’yee and I chanted a familiar tune, “Secrets are sacred.”
Utcoozhoo laughed. “Chloë, Zusoiti is a dangerous person. I don’t think you want to know too much. It is she whose thoughts and feelings you picked up at the Blue Attic Club. Just her imprints nearly overwhelmed you … oh, and by the way, Zusoiti agreed to keep her friend Ngheufel out of the club.”
I said, “Is this really going to work?”
“Probably not,” said Utcoozhoo, “but I have a Plan B … ”
“Well, first I want to say, Zawmb’yee and Doug, that you must vote in the coming elections for the Parliament and for the Grand Council. I’ve brought you some political literature, and I’ve written out my opinions for you to consider … ”
“OK, but,” I said, “what’s Plan B?”
“We’ll vote her out of power if you can find a reliable source of scuba diving equipment. We’re going to need a lot of it, because a lot of the voters can’t hold their breath anymore.”
“Doug, I think you can figure it out. You know, the Tzvaleubhoi. There are a lot of elders there on our side, but they must appear in person to vote.”
Chloë said, “I’m not following this … ”
Zawmb’yee and I chanted, “Secrets are sacred.”
Utcoozhoo said, “Well, it’s been charming to meet you Chloë … Doug, I have to get going. Just get me some scuba catalogs, and some books on how to scuba dive. OK?”
“Yes, ” I said, “I will … um, Uncle Utcoozhoo, did you know that Chloë is my favorite interior decorator?”
“Oh?” said Utcoozhoo. He gazed over at Chloë. “Have I seen your work, Chloë?”
Chloë hesitated a moment. “Uh, well, I did the Blue Attic Club with Zawmb’yee.”
“Hmm, I might have some work for you in the future. I’m going your way — can I give you a lift home?”
“Sure, and tell me all about the caves. From what Zawmb’yee has been telling me, it sounds intriguing.”
Utcoozhoo looked at his watch. He opened the door for Chloë. “Well, then, we’ll be going … Thanks Doug. Zawmb’yee, you look beautiful today … see ya in the cave. Bye.” They left.
Zawmb’yee and I plopped down on the couch. She said, “All of this has been exhausting and I guess Utcoozhoo can handle everything, but …”
“But? Don’t worry. It’ll all work out. I’ll find the equipment supplier and we’ll vote … ”
“No, I don’t mean that. I think that Zusoiti really intends to trigger a new Ice Age.”
“Can she do that?”
“I think so. Utcoozhoo has told me a little about the pfayohiqusi. I’m not sure exactly how, but I think it’s powerful enough to trigger catastrophic climate change.”
“Are you sure about that, or is it one of those exaggerated myths?”
“No. I think it’s real. I’ve seen the pfayohiqusi do spectacular things, but special permission is needed to use it.”
“What is pfayohiqusi?”
“Oh, pfayohiqusi just means ‘apparatus of the gods’. It’s just another one of those vague words that doesn’t really tell you anything. Utcoozhoo throws these words at me, but I haven’t yet comprehended what it really means.”
—- Douglas Gilbert
(Henry Le Châtelier)