Auras and Animal Totems (Round 3 : Page 4)

January 13th, 2008

A lump rises to my throat. “What do you see?” Crazy Bear sees auras and animal totems, and is regarded by several mutual acquaintances as a gifted clairvoyant. According to his third eye, I am, like him, a bear; though he claims I am a diminutive, lusty koala, while he himself is a Ukrainian black bear. The totem represents the last form, his theory holds, that a given individual occupied, prior to being human.

“I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just projecting my gloominess. That happens.” He looks uncomfortably around the cafe. “Look, I shouldn’t have mentioned it. It’s good to see you. Be sure to let me see your drafts. I have to run. I think I’ll go home and take a nice, long, decadent bath.” He offers his hand.

“Yeah, I have to be getting to my appointment. She can be vicious when you’re late.” We simultaneously rise and part.

My step is more leaden as I resume my trek down Religion Row, as if I somehow contracted Crazy Bear’s depression. Maybe it’s that place, I theorize. What the hell kind of a name is that, anyway, Ennui? And such a dump, really, considering those prices. No wonder it’s always nearly deserted.

No, that’s not it. It’s that creepy death prophesy. I shudder. He’s in a bad mood, I temporize, and he just wanted to bring me down. Despondency craves fraternity.

Why, then, did he rush so to change the subject and take leave of me before I could return to it? So I’d be that much more shaken and uncertain. But it doesn’t ring true. His flaw, if anything, is an excess of honesty; I can’t imagine Crazy Bear being cruel enough to inflict that sort of dishonest prank on a whim. I’ve always known him to be obsessively ethical within his unusual framework, even to a fault.

He was being philosophical, cryptic, declaring a generalization; only my superstitious mind took it for a prediction. Which brings me back, loopishly, to, why didn’t he just say so, when I was so obviously freaked? The only interpretation which seems to explain his action is

I’m going to die.

Well, everyone is. Maybe he saw something fifteen, twenty years down the line, and thought I was too jelly to take even such long-term news. Maybe I am. I still haven’t called about the lab results.

I’m never going to write that book.

It had never seemed important, before. The plans I mentioned to Crazy Bear were concocted on the spot, in fact; the matter of a follow-up to Desert Trance had listed somewhere between skinny dipping in my Jaccuzi with models, and bringing the Porsche in for an overpriced tune-up on my to-do schedule.

Now, with the reaper’s shadow killing my buzz, writing just one more seems to be the most urgent necessity of my existence. “Goddess,” I mumble. “I know I’m an ungrateful wretch.” This is how I usually begin after long periods of unpious silence. “I’ve turned my back on you, and I don’t blame you for not talking to me anymore. I’m greedy, I’m arrogant. I flush with pride over the words you whispered in my ear. I’ve neglected my rituals. But, oh, Goddess, if ever you loved me, if I pleased you only a bit in serving as your word processor, let me live long enough to deliver another volume of your love to the world. In the name of the Moon, Earth and Sun, I pray. Bless my work, if not my life.”

Which brings me to Llewellyn’s. I put the morbidity on a back burner, and check my hair in the obsidian reflection near the elevator. Maybe I am in love with her. Ridiculous.

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