Excerpt from Chapter Fourteen

Though I am coming off a stimulant, I’m certainly not ready to think of sleep. I feel that Lucinda and I need to talk. I realize that I have yet to be really sincere with this young woman. I don’t know if it is the drugs that want to do the talking, but I feel like it is time to talk. I’m still holding her in my arms – but from behind. She’s wearing only a blouse that I seem to remember recently lost a few of its buttons. I have stayed in one position as long as I can. I stretch out of our left-over spoon configuration. Lucinda stirs and says, “Hi.”

“Hi,” I say.

“How did you like my roommates?” she asks.

What? I’m thinking – no, “Wow, that was great!”?

But, “Fun” is what I say.

“They’re great,” she says.

It confounds me that she proposes for postmortem something not between her and me but between me and them. This seems like a male distancing device. But I want to talk about more than superficials. I want to ask her about alcohol and drug consumption. But I realize that that only matters to me if we have some basic attitudes in common – a foundation for caring what the other one does. So instead I ask, “Do you really believe that stuff about finding a parking space by visualizing one?” Of course, I know she does, so this is really just me giving her shit. My doing this is the down side of drugs. The coming down side.

“You mean, you don’t?” Lucinda says, attempting to shift her position to one not of classic submissiveness.

“Well, what do you think could make it work?” I ask, trying to back off from outright confrontation.

“Energy fields,” she says matter-of-factly.

“I know that,” I say, trying to inject the sound of genuine inquisitiveness into my trashing of something quite important to her. “But how do you think energy fields work?”

“I don’t know,” she says, “Everything is energy. It’s just being open and feeling the currents.”

“But how does energy change the physical reality – create the parking space?”

“What do you mean, ‘create’? It’s always there.”

“Right,” I say. “But the space has two thousand pounds of metal in it.”

“So? Cars come and go all the time.”

“Right,” I say again. “But if everybody is home in that part of town and people are having dinner in the restaurants – and all the parking spaces are full – what makes someone leave just before you arrive?”

“What do you mean, ‘what makes them leave?’ I just said, ‘people leave all the time.’”

“But you’re saying they leave because of you?”

“Not because of me. In harmony with me.”

“How’s that different?”

“It’s very different,” Lucinda insists.

“You mean somebody, eating pasta in the restaurant with the checkered table cloths, decides that he and his wife are full and want to be out of there, when you are four blocks away because you start to visualize a parking space – their parking space. They skip dessert, pay the check fast, and pull out in the nick of time, so that you can pull in?”

“You’re twisting it,” this woman, possibly in the process at this very moment of conceiving my child, says helplessly.

“Well, you tell me how it works then,” I say, trying to sound magnanimous and folding my arms like Mussolini.

“Well,” Lucinda, still assuming I am open-minded, says, “it’s all karma.” She truly believes that dropping this venerable word will silence a naïve critic. Karma is both Hindu and Buddhist. Who would be so foolish as to argue with two of the greatest ancient traditions of the Eastern world – and over a parking space?

“So you’re saying, because you’re a good person, God will give you a parking space?”

“Not God!”

“What then?”

“The energy fields.”

“The energy fields don’t do what God wants?”

“Wait a minute,” she says, “who said I even believe in God?”

“Well, you believe in moral energy fields.”

“Why moral?”

“Why moral? The good get parking spaces. – Excuse me the non-attached good get parking spaces.”

“Well, why not? I’m not being greedy. All I want is a fucking parking space.”

“Why not? Why doesn’t the positive energy field make sure that little black kids in Africa get food? Or medicine? Or even water? Do you actually think that an energy field that can’t or won’t provide the nourishment that anyone born onto this planet has the right to expect, would spend time trying to make sure that a pretty woman in the high rent part of the world should be able to abandon her two thousand pound metal transportation unit close enough to her shelter so that she doesn’t have to get tired – or raped – walking a long way home?” Where is my heat coming from? I’m having a hard time not sounding contemptuous. I like to think of myself as Mr. Tolerant. I’ll blame it on the coke.

“You’re twisting everything,” Lucinda says. “The energy is different all over the world. It’s a beautiful system and you make it sound racist – or worse – elitist.”