Version NYC 2012
To read last week's Chapters, 13-14, click here.
To start with Chapter One from Part One, click here.
Lily sits in a hotel room. The lights are down. She has no guess as to what time it is although she is aware it is night. She wears her pajama bottoms and her tank top. She is alone. She has a bodyguard detail but he stands outside her room.
She had asked him if he wanted to hang out in the room with her hours ago but he said no. She would ask him again but she really only wants to talk to a few people- David, maybe- Jones, maybe- her Dad, impossible.
Well, I’m the fucking psychic. Maybe I can talk to my Dad.
“Dad?” she says. She feels the shifts of energy, waits for the feeling of her father.
She doesn’t really see or hear dead people or anything but as sure as something she knows not what speaks THROUGH her and other spiritual entities which she might call angels or dreams or hope or God… she feels them to be angels speaking through her and taking over her body and apparently some times maybe they take her body for days and she, Lily, she has no idea what who when where what the hell happens she does think that she has spiritual entities speaking through her but spirits but mostly…
She snaps forward from this reverie…
“Most ghosts,” she whispers to herself, picking at her fingernails, “aren’t really ghosts but left over molecules of energy. Sometimes they are ghosts, maybe, probably, or other spiritual entities we don’t understand as humans and sometimes they are the projectional molecules of hopes and dreams and loneliness and sometimes they are left over molecules of energy left behind that hasn’t yet been reorganized into other energies or masses.”
She sighs and rolls her eyes.
“Stop it, Lily.”
She tries once more:
No response. But she doesn’t care.
“Dad. I know you’re gone. But not in my heart. And you’re in my DNA. And all the things that are beyond me. And… I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve gotten so used to just doing whatever it is that is around me, in front of me, not making decisions or anything and not having friends but just being a lonely wanderer in search of…”
She stops, because that’s not true either. She doesn’t feel lonely, exactly. She knows she lives, or up until the show, she lived a very solitary life… but she liked it.
“Am I supposed to be a normal girl?” she asks, this time, no one in particular.
“What is a normal girl?” someone asks.
She stops cold.
“Hello?” she asks.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry…” Jones enters with his hands up. “I just walked in. I just got here to check on you… You haven’t been answering your phone?”
She looks around. She shrugs, feeling embarrassed.
“I don’t know where it is. It’s probably on silent,” she answers.
She gets up to hug him.
Jones doesn’t let go. She forgets sometimes how tall he is.
“What time is it?” she asks.
“What are you doing here?” she asks.
“Checking up on you.”
“Why did you wait ‘til midnight?” she asks.
Jones lets go of his hold. He steps back and she watches him go energetically into that place behind his eyes and behind a half smile where he watches like a dog backed into a corner.
“I just meant…” she stop. She’s actually expressing a desire with him. She hasn’t really done this before. Well, she has. Just not verbally.
“That’s not our thing,” Jones says quietly.
“You’re reading my mind now?”
“Maybe our thing has to change…”
Jones sighs. Nods…
“Are you in love with him?” he cocks his head gently to one side, bites his lower lip.
Lily sees him differently. Usually when she looks at people, she’s not looking at their faces, at their cultural masks. She look, instead, deep into their eyes and enters right into their hearts. Now, she pulls her vision out and looks at him, just straight as he is in this lifetime, this personality, this person standing before her as most of the world would maybe see him. She is surprised to discover he is middle aged. He is tired. There are deep lines in his face. He is scared and lonely… and yet his chin and lips are red and rough and he smells of a woman’s perfume….
Lily knows, then.
She smiles, touches his face. A great feeling of relief swells over her as she feels her heart and her loins cool. She unhooks her emotional life from his, visualizing a cord between the two of them dissipating into nothingness. And what she is left with is a feeling of deep compassion.
“You sweet, sweet man,” she says tenderly.
“I know you have just been with a woman. Someone you’re dating?”
“Kind of…” Jones isn’t really surprised. He shrugs.
“It’s just that… with you… things are…” he stops. He doesn’t know what to say. He feels the difference in the air, and he suddenly feels he can stand straighter.
“Do you love her?” Lily asks, wishing the answer is “yes,” hoping it’s “no.”
“No. God, no. She’s not… look. Lily. I just can’t be with a woman as… sensitive as you. I guess I just tend to date emotionally unavailable women. It just sort of seems to work for me.”
Lily nods again. She almost wants to laugh out loud and roll her eyes except she knows how sensitive he is, and she knows it would be cruel to do so.
“Okay.” she touches his face once again. And now he looks very old and sad. She keeps her hand there for a moment and sees fifteen futures unfurling: futures with him with children… Lily is mildly surprised that is still available to him…. futures with a woman with long dark curly red hair and her children…. futures where he is a drunk in linen pants and where there are young, sexy beach babe girls by the pool…. futures in which he lies dead on the ground from heart attacks and bike accidents. She takes her hand away, shuddering at all the possibilities. All beautiful, all true, all frightening, all hopeful, all full of life whether he is aware of it or not, and none of which include her as a lover ever again.
A part of her wants to die.
She calms herself.
We all die someday, she thinks.
Lily awakens suddenly… Although her body has been alive and moving, she is awakens to consciousness just at this moment, it is morning, and she wanders along the beaches of
Santa Monica. The sand
tickles her toes. She looks down. She does not wear shoes. It is very early.
The tide rolls in. She wears a shark’s tooth necklace, and jeans and a tee
shirt. She is Lily but she is also another woman, and she is followed by three
homeless people. She has been speaking to them.
They are my disciples, she realizes, feeling a strange blend of horror and fascination. And now she feels an overwhelming sense of responsibility.
She has a brief memory of Jones departing, of a tremor shockwave reverberating throughout her body, so disturbing to her mind, painful and yet ecstatic… as if a wormhole from some other universe came into her head from behind, from the back and base of her skull, and then dropped dead cold cold dead down inside her body, vibrating, vibrato, reverbrato, liberato, reverberating electric, a thousand stars only freezing cold of space freezing cold of space and leaving Lily, named for flowers of grace and rebirth, to watch her self sleep only suddenly darkness and then she…
…And for the first time, I see where I go when I go away...
Hunger. A terrible, gnawing hunger. A primordial urge to catch a fish, a beast, and tear it limb from limb, licking every last bone, bone after bone until she feels grounded into the earth….
I am Lily, yes, I was in a long ago dream.
It is as if somehow she remembers a play in which she once acted different parts, and Lily was a role she took upon herself, placed over her life, like an ancient Greek actor speaking from behind a mask.
She is Lily. She is. She knows that. But she is new. No name, but named, refusing to be named and accepting all names.
She is hungry. So hungry, and the part of Lily that is any way carries remembrances of that pithy cultural life, that life of stone emptiness and tears laughs, and THIS Lily knows, for survival, for now in this moment, that life must be pushed down and away for a deeper awareness and a deeper passion and a truer life force and the hunger hunger hunger is upon her now. She is scared. But she must not let them see. Them, these people following her.
And she speaks, surprised that it comes out in a scream.
“GNAWING AT MY CHEST IT IS NOT FROM MY BELLY BUT THE FIRE IS THERE FROM MY HEART! FROM MY HEAD! FROM THE ANGELS SCREAMING OUT OUT OUT GET OUT YOU MUST GET OUT AND FIND THE PEOPLE WHO WILL LISTEN!”
She was opening the hotel window. That was how she did it. She saw that she was only four floors up from a filthy concrete basin. She saw that she must scale down the side of the hotel and renounce these foolish ways of leisure, these methodologies that do not, did not, never could serve the deep purpose of love in this lifetime. If they would or did perhaps she could have embraced them but it is not that they are right or wrong for those are ideas, concepts. Right and wrong? Those are only the notions of an insane human mind in the act of “trying” “to” “figure” “it” “out.” This renunciation was one of sneaking out, one in which she hit the ground running and stopped only to remove her shoes, one! Two. She gave them to the first person she saw as a just way of life as decreed by that which is nameless motionless expressionless, that which passeth all understanding.
And do not think she was so bold as to claim to be anything, neither Jesus nor saint, no. She was only:
she who receives
and she who births
and she who feeds
and she who serves,
She who would not forsake of the forgotten, the ugly, the sick, the dying, the disgraced, the steppers of a different path…
And so here she is, on the beach, all ideas of time clinging to her like little children desperate to ensure that their mommy never leaves,
and this handful of people must hear that she is no messiah
“Hear me!” she shouts,
and the waves even seem to stand still,
and she sees that she is seeing their delusion while she is pulling out of her own, and she knows she must be very brave, very brave indeed, to help them, and to help herself, too.
She thinks of Jones.
She thinks of her mother.
She thinks of David.
And she wants this life, her life, Lily’s life. She wants to fulfill her life as Lily. And she prays to god to speak through her.
“I am not to be followed! You must serve your own purpose! You must serve what is before YOU!”
“Lady,” speaks one of the men. Lily turns to look deeply into his eyes.
She knows him.
Gregory is his name. He is a modern day homeless knight. Red and toughened like leather in the sun, gaunt, no hair on his head but a golden white beard and a peach tee shirt, urine stained jeans and blue flip flops taken from a vacationer’s bag.
“Gregory, you are the wildest intellect of any I have met,” she speaks, wondering how many nights she has been in a blackout with this man. The hunger begins to gnaw, “you can create spirits of forest from discarded soda bottles and atomic cities from empty fast food wrappers. Why must you plague me with your questions, which I could never pray to be smart enough to answer? You yourself know the answers.” She forms the thoughts in her mind, things he told her while sober and clean, while she was lost in a blackout. Words he spoke to her long ago…. how long ago she does not know…. words he spoke to her in secret, which must have been soaked into her subconscious memory and which she recalls only now, this morning, the sun shining into her eyes.
Gregory dropped out of graduate school in the summer of 1987, some sort of genius on the run from a culture which understood only how to use him and toss him away, never teaching him how to meet and romance and get married and have children but how to achieve, achieve, achieve.
“I do not wish to know answers, lady,” he says, frightened but bold. “I wish to say… YOU are what is before me. Before Us. And we have no other leader who understands us.”
“I am no leader. I am a girl,” Lily says.
“For seven years, lady,” Gregory argues, “You have spoken of your girlhood rather than your leadership, and then you tell us what to do and we follow.”
Lily is catapulted through seven memories over seven years: her own, Gregory’s, those of the other two men standing before me, and three who are not present. One of those people was Freddy. She feels the flame of the memory of each of the men violating her, one at a time, having discovered her in one of her black outs in the park. She recalls their horrible weeping, tears streaming down their faces, as one by on, they ejaculated into a woman who uttered only words of compassion and kindness, words one would never say in the middle of… during what most would claim a rape.
“God bless you,”
She remembers Gregory as he cried out in shock, shocked sober… He looked up and shouted, “from now on this girl shall not be violated but protected!” and Howard, an ex crack cocaine smoker turned Christian turned homeless, her looked up and proclaimed, “this girl shall not be violated but protected and followed!” and at that moment, a man they called Jefferson, he remembered something so suddenly, perhaps he remembered who he was…. he ran into the street only to be hit by a car that sped away into the night. And then there was Freddy, Freddy the opera singer, who ran out to save him, and
while Freddy held him in his arms and sang him to sleep. Lily remembers
Theodore, who later disappeared, and Calinda, a transgendered mother, who found
water and a towel and washed Lily so gently and wept and sang, and washed
Lily’s feet with her tears, until Freddy returned crying, “ Jefferson
had gone! Jefferson had gone!”
And that day something in Lily died: she would not lose her innocence. But she would, and did lose her belief in “society,” in “city,” in “
America…” What the word is, what
she lost her belief in exactly, she could not say. “Culture.” And instead, she
replaced those beliefs with the sound of the breeze blowing between the trees,
and the sound of waves, and the sound of a man singing, and the sound of the
low groan of traffic, and another voice came more pronounced than ever into the
heart of her, the beating ever heart of her, and she I she I she I spoke until the group knew that they
were a group of people chosen for a special purpose: to walk the earth in
search of acts of service; embracing and serving that which appeared before
them no matter what; in respect for all life and with a knowledge that even
acts of crime can serve as acts of compassion.
And so it was decreed that this girl would share this mission with them, leaving, shuddering, sputtering forth from what was once a young girl who dreamed of the life of an artist, of a mother, of a wife; but who instead would lay down her life for the demons and the dogs until all were eradicated including her own.
Lily remembers all of this in an instant.
And she remembers herself, Lily, not Lily, Lily before the rape, Lily these seven years since, once more.
“Gregory,” Lily says, holding up her hand, swallowing hard, “I remember my name.”
Gregory looks up tearfully. He shakes his head, no.
Calinda bursts into tears.
“Please don’t leave us again, Lil… lady… My Lady. Our Lady, please don’t leave.”
Howard shakes his head.
“We made promises,” he says, “commitments. And I have given up crack cocaine! Crack cocaine! Crack Cocaine!” his voice rages but Lily no longer fears his rage.
And as he raves and runs to the sea and back, covered in foam, Lily begins to remember where she has gone when she has gone away…
…Quickly in the night, she pulls a loaf of bread from the cupboards and pulls the peanut butter and the jam. She constructs 11 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches… she walks through the night, handing out the meals… she goes to an ATM and pulls out 20s, distributing them into the pockets of those who are asleep in the streets… she walks ill men into hospitals until she is told she can no longer do this if she cannot or will not pay. So she slowly, over years, she steals medical books from libraries and doctors and stores and hides them in a shed in a house in Los Feliz. She steals medicines and wraps and antiseptic and runs from person to person until she is known as a healer and the people, in the night, the people of the night, the night comes to her when she is not herself…
“Tribe,” she speaks, softly, Lily now, herself Lily, not the psychotic split, all of herself completely, “I do not know how long these visions last or do not last. I will never forsake any of you. But what is before me is the opportunity to be of service to something greater than what we dreamed. And it requires that I must leave you to go do that.”
Howard has stopped racing to and fro. He sits before her in the sand and sighs.
“Oh! Now she wants a career!” shouts Gregory, gesticulating wildly, laughing and screeching, until Calinda, through her moans and sobs, shrieks,
And he does.
“Is this what happens?” Lily asks, “Is this really how it goes? Have we gone through nothing together? Forged and bonded through rape and passion, through charity and fear, through death and rebirth? This metallic taste on my mouth, these years of my youth and beauty, are they to be WASTED on men and women who cry for their own fears? Then what makes you any different than any other normal cultural human who lives in fear of loss of their own material good?”
“Lily,” Calinda says, reaching out for her hand. Lily takes Calinda’s hand and kisses it. Lily bows before her.
“I am your humble servant,” Lily says, and Calinda weeps.
“No! Say you will stay. Is it me?” Calinda kneels down, now, too.
“It’s all of us,” Gregory says, “It’s her.” He is silent for a moment. “It’s time for Lily to have a life.” Lily looks at him and sees a scientist. She sees a man who never gave himself a chance at a normal life, and who never wanted one anyway. “Do you wish to be married and have children?” he asks. “I can understand why you would want that. After all, your biology is about to call you into a new dimension.”
“I don’t know if it’s that,” Lily says, sitting at the edge of the shore, watching the early morning tide roar. “I know only that I can’t live in a blackout anymore. For how long, I do not know. And if this is the blackout, then when I am awake again, I shall have the same story. Cycle, reverse, desire, despair.”
“Are you mad at us? For what we did?” whispers Calinda.
Lily thinks about it.
“I don’t know,” she answers.
“None of us ever get that clarity,” says Gregory, sitting next to Lily.
“Crack cocaine!” says Howard.
“Howard, enough,” says Gregory. He turns back to Lily. “None of us knows in this life we lead which is the dream and which is the wakening and the possibility that all is dream and all is wakening.”
“Yes. And to follow a girl who seeks only to do what is in front of her is a dangerous game,” she says.
“But a worthy one,” says Gregory.
“Sir Gregory,” she says in acknowledgement. She reaches across and touches his reddened cheek. He smiles.
“You will come again and again until you die,” he says, “and then you will come again and again anyway.”
“I may die soon,” she says.
Howard kneels before her.
“No,” he says.
“I have the visions. Now, I am Lily, the cultural girl borne of all this insanity, of her father and mother and those angels that speak through me on a TV show and who was raped by homeless men who had turned to insanity posse and who then sought understanding when I sought forgiveness rather than vengeance. And I know we have times when I am an angel and I know we have times when I am a dog. And I know we have times when there is no me no me no me but only the hopeful reflection of you. How do we say these small particulars? How do we say I love you when in every instant the glass of the world may break?”
“We will protect you,” Howard says.
“That is not your call,” she says. Then she laughs. “How often… do I ever… come to like this?” she asks. “Me, Lily? Or am I usually in a blackout?” She seeks their faces, desperate for the truth.
“Sometimes,” Calinda says. Suddenly Calinda is just a person, not the great mother, he is a cross dressing, transgendered person who did too many drugs once and who decided to say good bye to the world that he mistrusted worse than the evil dragon he chased.
“We never know who we really are, do we?” Lily says. “Maybe we can know.” Her tribe nods. “But we can accept the challenge of this life, can’t we? And I have a deeper challenge in front of me. To help the world which will not be helped except through glamour and smoke and mirrors.”
“It isn’t worth your time,” Gregory says, knowing a thing or two about which he speaks.
“That isn’t the point,” Lily says, using the logic of their tribe, “I have no choice about what is or is not worth my time. God put this in front of me. So I must do it.”
“You will never return to us,” Howard says, a dare, a challenge, a question.
“I don’t know.”
Calinda embraces her.
“You are deeply beautiful,” Lily says, and Calinda blushes. “Come with me if you like, I will have some makeup for you?” Calinda smiles, nods her head no.
“We have work to do, too,” Calinda says.
Lily sighs. She knows that in her sleep she has lead these people to work, to ideas, to incorporation, to nothing, to endlessness, to meditation, to the healing of impulses which lead to crimes of passion, to nothing resembling health and yet health, and she has no idea in this moment what work they will do. If any. And perhaps the work is no work at all.
And what about her? Seven years she has lied to herself about a fated night, and a fated life.
Maybe, when all this is done, I can learn to be normal. She smiles, then frowns, as the sun of the waves suddenly grows louder.
She rises. Standing, her arms spread wide open to the sky.
“Let the sun come kiss my face. Let the birds fly in my honor. Let the ocean come take me in its own rape of my virgin spirit if that be the will of the greatness which is beyond all beyond.”
She breathes in salty sea air.
She opens her eyes.
She is alone.
And she knows, then, they will never return to this place. They will never return to their Round Table. Nor will she.
All is Full of Love
Lily walks back to the hotel. It will take her about ten hours, most likely. She has nothing in her pockets, and no shoes on her feet.
She is happy.
A car drives by and slows down. It’s a police officer.
“Lily Moore?” he asks, leaning out the window.
“We’ve been looking for you!” he says. “I’m Officer Dominguez. Can I give you a ride to your hotel?”
“Am I in trouble?” she asks, approaching his car.
“Maybe with your boyfriend,” Officer Dominguez says, smiling. Then he sees she has no shoes on her feet. “Are you okay?” he asks. “Do I need to take you to a hospital first?” He gets out of his car to offer her assistance.
“No,” she says. “No, I’m just fine. Just back to my hotel, please,” she says.
“Okay,” he says. “By the way, my wife and I love your show.”
Lily smiles until she notices, out of the corner of her eye, a dusty sedan following them. She looks to Dominguez, who is chatting away about the show and how his wife is psychic, too. She smiles and listens to him. The sedan turns away onto another block.