The psychic outside Mango's Caribbean Grill told me the thing I always heard from psychics and I was getting tired of it. Nick laughed when he saw my expression.
"Yeah. You think it's funny. You're not having to hear this," I said to him under my breath. That just made him laugh harder.
"You will have a long life," she said. Her hair was bleached yellow blonde, but she had dark black roots. She spoke with a Cuban accent. She had no way of knowing I was completely indifferent to the idea of a long life. "And you will be lucky in your career. People see you as a success."
"Great. Sounds good. Anything else?"
"Someone has blocked you and has put a terrible curse on you. You will not be able to break free and you will never have a happy love life as long as this curse is on you. Someone out there cares about you very much but he's afraid to tell you."
I thought of Dad in Nevada, alone in his Suburban, running radiometric surveys from dawn to dusk, never talking to anyone. Absolutely alone. Was that good for a geologist in his late 70s? What kind of daughter was I, caught up in the things I had committed to ...
The whole thing was making me feel pretty depressed. Maybe psychics said this to everyone. Who knows. But, I had heard the same thing from psychics in New York, Houston, Tucson, and Oklahoma City. I had thrown away quite a bit of cash, it seemed --- obviously nothing they said significantly changed my life. The only thing that had really helped was travel and adrenaline.
Danger made me aware of the real. Without it, reality faded into old Polaroids and echoes of my dad, Marcus, my ex, his dad -- the assorted people and who had come and gone from my life.
The night before, I had awakened in the middle of a deep, vivid dream, and I was crying in my sleep. I was sobbing. Abjectly, with despair so profound I could hardly breathe. I was riding a horse toward Palm Canyon, and it wouldn't follow the trail. Instead, it took me to cholla cactus and scrub mequite, so I'd be scratched. The horse was trying to knock me out of the saddle, but with a minimum of exertion. Then, the dream switched. I was in a Walgreen's drugstore, but itreminded me of Kresge's in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where my memories were still all too vivid. Ardmore, Oklahoma. South, south, south – halfway to Dallas, more than midway to oblivion. That, at least was where I was born. I may feel sadness in my sleep, but by day, I feel nothing.
But I can't afford to remember. I can't afford to feel. Feeling is counterproductive to my ultimate goals - I know when I have to face a certain kind of warm, oozing fear.
I know it, and I’ll go on.
“Let’s go to Fat Tuesday’s. Have one of the drinks, maybe dance?” asked Nick. My knees were still shaking from something that I dared not reveal. But, maybe it was just from being on the hotel Stairmaster for an hour, without eating dinner. Perhaps not everything was as melodramatic as I liked to think.
“Savage Peace.” We could talk all we wanted about death squads, training grounds, and small airports that appeared on no one’s maps, except in the occasional classified one, based on satellite photos and infrared reconnaissance. Savage peace, indeed, when the bloodshed was quite immediate, and done for no other reason than a kind of ontological insecurity, one’s own identity wavering, fading, distorting – quickly, out-of-control, toxic like mercury.
"Still thinking about God's Hostages?" I asked. I wanted to see if Nick knew anything about my ex's dad. It was a long shot, but I wanted to make sure.
"Not in this oasis," he said. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. The motel where he had refused to leave was called "The Oasis Motel." It was perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not.
I lost my nerve. It would be easier to go dancing.
“Great idea – let’s do it. I was wearing basic black pants, a white blouse I had bought in
Dancing was a good way to start.