The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 24
During this impossibly surreal decade, this consequence of too many things to figure out, Christine’s place—though we fought, made up, fought, made up—felt more like home than anywhere. The solitude of the high desert—its transcendent, non-linear blue drone noiselessness with odd, art house appearances by strangers sharing your name, women with alluring necks carrying chihuahuas, that pulsating nightime cocoon above and tortoises suggesting u-turn courses—all that came through willfully killing off chunks of the familiar, chunks of the assumed. Forever.
Christine was a different kind of forever. A soft, white cotton, silk trimmed housecoat forever. Caroline Casey on KPFA. Tarot decks. Her psychic on speed dial. Three hours of body decoration and paint before she’d leave the flat to go pick up a prescription or rent a video.
My seriously advanced Type 1 Diabetic bohemian space goddess from…?
Other times we fought. Usually over money.
But here, this time, Christmastime—it was like being tucked in after going on all the looping, spinning, noisy, nauseating carnival rides on a sweltering Saturday afternoon in July.
No school tomorrow.
All I had to do was cook Christmas dinner for Christine and her mom and myself.
Home sweet home, baby.
My only concern was with the partially cooked, pre-stuffed, highly processed bird and side dishes Chris had ordered from Safeway, as in—WTF are we actually going to be consuming other than chemicals?
Still, it looked and smelled tantalizingly wonderful and real, like childhood. Go Safeway! Go whatever galactic force sent Christine to MY planet!
Mom: Rico? Anything I can do to help?
“No thanks, mom, I’ve got this. Maybe set the table?”
But then, immediately after dinner, my respiratory system stopped functioning. Chris stroked my back, neck, shoulders, as mom dialed 911.
Three hours later after multiple injections, tests, x-rays, inhalation therapy, Saint Marks emergency room cut me loose. A script for an inhaler. No real diagnosis as to the cause except maybe a food allergy?
Me: (Scanning the chest x-ray) Hm. But these fine white lines through my lungs…
Doctor: Unconfirmed, but, could be the very beginning of emphysema.
Mom left the following day. I relaxed on the sofa, terrified at even the thought of going outside for a smoke. Chris, (only occasionally in a wheelchair at this point due to numb feet and ankles), walked by frequently, annoyingly scanning me, asking if everything was OK. Yes, I’d say, though in truth I was rattled. My mind kept returning to the state of panic I experienced waiting for the ambulance, forcing myself to take in painful, wheezing gulps of air. Precious, precious air. Finally, “Chrissy? What you did last night? The way you stroked me, got me to relax a little? I don’t know how you knew to do that, but, listen, you saved my life.”
Chris: It just seemed right, natural.
Me: Whatever it was, wherever it came from, it worked.
Chris: Does that mean you’ll leave me alone about my spiritual stuff from now on?
Me: (A long, thoughtful pause) Uh…
Me: (Laughing) If only you knew how good it feels hearing you say that.
Whatever had caused it, I was happy the world had reassembled itself in stream of consciousness form, and grateful to have avoided such a quick, matter-of-fact fade to black.
Two weeks later Don gave me the OK to move back into his place. Two weeks after that I found work. Good, solid work with a former associate and colleague in the interior plantscape design business. Six weeks post hire I made the down on a white/charcoal, 4-wheel drive Jeep Cherokee.