Night Sky Sangha
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Ascension Noir

(an enlightened Whodunnit)


As soon as I entered Wang Fats I had a sudden spasm of prophetic nausea, like all the small stuff, the petty annoyances that stack up in your consciousness like so many song birds unheard, became crystal clear in an instant, a moment I could have done without.

Some really weird shit was going down, something from a pod invasion movie that no one would understand since there was no one left but pod people and you knew it was best to keep the revelation to yourself.

As soon as she walked in and flipped her tartan cape over an empty stool at the martini bar I had the instinct to rush out the back of the restaurant. Past the boiling wontons filled with faux foie gras, past the lemon chicken made with textured vegetable protein, back way back past the Pacojet station where an Asian kid wearing Google glass staring dreamily into some pornographic anime scene was whipping up frozen pineapple and maple grilled pecan tarts dusted with just the right amount of cayenne. No dairy, no animals - this was vegan epicure at its best and I could smell trouble with a capital T.

I swear my body was telling me to run, but that's a dead giveaway around the Pod folk so you have to move slow, not spastic, just slow, like despite the fact that humanity is going down from a silent invasion and you are so terrified even your organic Cherry Lime Ricky can't soothe your fight or flight into submission; you have to play it nonplussed with a capital N.

So I make my way through a vegan sea just to get a closer glimpse of her, and not just a glimpse, but the scent of her, and the feel of her scintillating shakti dancing off her pearlescent skin like some piezoelectric circular arc sparking invisibly to everyone, but me.

God I wanted to touch her arm, or brush softly against her Blahnik pumps, anything to find out if she were still human or if she had gone Pod - like so many already had.

I didn't want to think it, I didn't even want to think I was thinking it, but I had to ask, my mind would not let it go, this aching suspicion that the whole thing was a bad dream on a bad day in a bad way and my obsessions were not worth the price of admission.

So I sit right down where she is sitting, and I say - "Hey, you had me before the door closed behind you. I've been to hell but I got a bad feeling that you know a darker place and I'm about to find out what it is. So tell me, before you rip what's left of me to shreds, are you real or just blowing smoke in my face?"




"Shelagh's my name, Shelagh Bardain. I was born in a winter shattered barn by a forgotten river, daughter to a 15 year old mother, whom I never really met postpartum. Her uncle Seamus, my father, whisked me away from her with a still bleeding navel string cut by the rusty paring knife he kept in his boot that had probably found its way into the gut of many a drunken Irishman, and put me on a freighter bound for this forsaken place obviously so I could meet you."

I could not think, I wanted more, more of her dark eyes, her transcendent secrets. I was entranced by a strange brew, an entangled and breathtaking bardo of eros, agape, and lust so consuming that the swift and vague thought of losing her was unbearable, worse than oblivion.

She put her lips to her ginger glazed 45 year aged Caledonian whiskey highball as if kissing an old lover who might get lucky once again and raised her satin gloved left arm as if to slap my incoherent face, but landed it softly on my cheek, where it stayed for what felt like forever.

I was falling into her eyes and it wouldn't stop, engulfed by her rainbow body, alive beyond measure with every mitochondrial Krebs explosion of every cell I had, sucking the sunlight out of the glucose coursing through miles of single file arterial capillaries that celebrate the miracle of photosynthesis with the Brahmanic Hail Mary certainty of "I am That I am."

She wasn't just the reason I was alive, she was the source of it, the beej mantra of all creation, but I didn't dare love her as myself like a wise and liberated yogi might. No, the blissful threat of belonging to her was better than some cheap Nirvikalpa samadhi you could pick up in a plastic bottle at the Pic-N-Pac Liquors on the corner of Fairmount and San Pablo.

"Shelagh Bardain", I muttered with what little breath I had left. "If there's any chance you're still packing that fish knife of your dad's, would it be asking too much if you would kindly plunge it into my heart?"




Shelagh removed her hand from my face and pulled what looked like a phat Quaalude from her rhinestone crusted black hemp purse embroidered in platinum thread with the words "Jerry died for our sins", and placed it on the bar in slow motion.

She held my gaze with no discernible emotion or need, one of the reasons I was so enthralled with her Escher-like aura that would change dimensions on a dime so you actually never knew where you were, let alone with her.

With swift and deliberate intent she pulverized that white pill of delirious delight under her glass, swept the white crystalline powder into her hand, lifted it to her mouth and blew it in my face.

That was the last time I saw her.

I came to slumped over the wheel of my rusted eggplant '98 Voyager startled awake by the roar of the 11:20 Amtrak heading to Sacramento in the parking lot of a cavernous Chat House called Viks that filled up so fast at lunch the line would wrap itself around itself like a flared hooded cobra about to strike.

I was there to meet Ulrich Roachman, a friend of a friend who traveled in those Neem Karoli Baba circles of dehydrated hippies that dotted the breast shaped hills of the Marin Headlands, some of whom MTM, he promised he could hook me up with some bitchin' RSO brewed by medical connoisseurs from Santa Cruz to treat my chronic back pain. At least that's what I told myself.

I jumped out of the Van and joined the queue. Roachman said he'd be there sometime around lunch, I'd recognize him easily standing at 6'6" and wearing a bright red fedora so saturated with shakti it could incite a bull at 50 yards.

I made my way to the counter and studied the menu hoping to find my favorite, and 'Yes!', there it was, Lamb Biryani, bone in, with mint Raita and a side of Ras Malai.

For a moment I knew joy, just for a moment, but still.




A good meal is a good meal and no one should scoff at a good meal.

After sucking the last bit of bone marrow from my lamb feast, I found myself plagued by some furtive and chronic existential disappointment with my life and my purpose and the absence of any true commitment on my part to amount to anything more than a wandering consumer of trivial pursuits and appetites posing as some sensitive new age guy aiming for enlightenment in a hot Bikram yoga class in hopes of scoring some points with a spandex draped yoni for occasional and non-committal sensual delights.

I liked to think of myself as lonely; not so much as a hungry ghost of a shell of a man suffering from a pernicious and self-loathing codependency addiction stalking prey who were in as much of a panic as I was. I tried therapy, but ended up yet again, in a compromised liaison with my therapist, an Asian Irish blend that sipped cold saki from a hip flask during our sessions, who wanted it to continue on the basis of my making progress with my mother issues attributable to her keen skills of projection and transference. I wasn't convinced.

Roachman's towering shadow appears at my table as he plunks down 12 syringes of the good stuff wrapped in an odorless zip-lock on the table and says, "I knew it was you from your description and the fact that you're the only guy wearing an Eagles jacket in fucking Berkeley."

I look up at his red hat radiating some potent power of ascended masters since departed and have one of those instant visions of a crore of gopis spooning naked under the Bengali sun while caressing a cow sized lingam with ghee. I have always loved those.

Before I can speak he says, "I'm Ulrich, nice to meet you. The medicine is $600. Hey, I'm going over to Marin later for a kirtan concert to see Swarupa Ramirez and Fen Weinstock get soused with prem - their band is so tight they make the Divine Mother their bitch. She sings like an angel and he wails on the tablas, give me a lift?"

I hand Roachman a crumbled pile of bills and stealthfully sweep the magic green RSO oil into my empty neoprene iPad cover, the one I had custom printed with the name of Ram. "No thanks Ulrich," I confess, "Honestly, I'm not feeling all that worthy these days to chant God's name, maybe next lifetime."




After polishing off my fourth cup of Viks Chai, each infused with 4 slap packs of that bhastrika head rush coarse brown natural sugar, I excuse myself and head for the restrooms, hardly noticing that my gait is a bit wobbly from the purple kush I vaped in the van before lunch and find myself standing before and pissing in a waterless urinal when a wave of jamais vu slaps me upside the head and I have no phucking idea where I am or how I got there - only the nauseating conviction that "I Am That" remains, without any reliable evidence.

I can't say how long I was standing there for because I forgot that the urinal was waterless and I was waiting, can't say why, for the auto flush to kick in and wash my incriminating high THC chai colored piss into the San Francisco Bay, like forever.

Someone knocks firmly though politely on the restroom door and I zip my pants, splash some water on my face and hands, and walk back to my table only to find that Roachman has split and my Eagles jacket is gone. No big deal, I was more a fan of the leather than the team; shit, the jacket was in the van when I bought it at one of those tent sale impounded vehicle auctions just over the hills in El Sobrante. A place you only visit once in a lifetime.

I grab my iPad pouch, which Roachman kindly left behind, and head for the exit from that unbearably loud bright chatty Indian cafeteria when, as if on cue from some Hare Krishna wormhole I'd rather not go through, I am startled frozen as the loudspeaker system that alerts customers that their order is ready bellows out the name "Sukadev, Sukadev Goswami, your order's up."





I remain perfectly still, adopting a relaxed and alert poise with my feet pressing into the ground and my hara-breath cycles turned way down to calm the rhythm of my heart as I watch Sukadev navigate the crowded tables and chairs and all those people with an elegance and paucity of motion that only a realized gnani steeped in Kashmiri Yoga could possess.

Goswami doesn't walk thru space, he is stillness personified and if you look carefully you can see the earth move toward him, clouds follow him, he emanates an aura of fractal opacity that bends any local Kirlian coronal discharges toward the blue - his students call him Master, those that can 'see' call him Krishna. His driver’s license reads Sukadev Goswami.

On his way to the pick-up station knowing he has invariably ordered puri and garbanzo curry with chili-rubbed shag he walks close enough to me to be in whispering range and he slows down just enough so I can mutter, "it's good to see you Master," to which he responds without as much as a glance, "My heart was feeling you and I am so glad you could make it. Do you know what it feels like to swallow the sun?"

Peace streams from his temples and wafts into my being carried by the timbre and sound of his voice flooding me in golden hues of rigpa as I spasm involuntarily, my eyes wet with tears, I want to touch him, but I dare not; still I raise my hand and stroke the outline of his shoulder as he moves out of range to pick up his lunch.

There I stand, an adult man, shivering with bliss and petting the air. Now I am weeping softly, I can barely stand, but I still don't have full command of my body so I can't figure out how to sit down. It's always like that with Sukadev, he leaves you in a palpably precarious condition between the worlds, as it were, of your base and ecstatic nature. He shows you, by virtue of an unspoken transmission, the end game. Then he effervesces away leaving you to figure out just how far you might be willing to go to catch him.

To catch him is to die to yourself and I am left wondering, as the effects of his darshan wear off, what did he mean by 'swallow the sun'?


I glance at my cell, almost 2:30. Lydia said she'd meet me at the Point Isabel Dog Park off of Central down by the El Cerrito Costco and the Post Office sorting center so we could catch up, toke some wax, and take a walk by the bay.

I jump in the van and crank up an old Allman Brothers bootleg blaring One Way Out from Winterland as I make my way to the 80 heading North with that sweet southern-rock back beat thumping the whole car and I'm drumming on the steering wheel and I am singing harmony with Brother Gregg when I see a bright red fedora fill my rear view mirror and I shriek "What the phuck! Jesus Christ Roachman, what the phuck are you doing in my van?"

"And," still screaming from shock, "what did you do with my Eagles jacket?" Ulrich says, wearing my Eagles jacket, "I'm sorry man, just had to pass out from that Samosa Cholle and those mango lassis go down smooth, but they give me gas, and the back door was open, and it smelled like bitchin' bud in here, and I needed a ride, so I just crawled in and fell asleep. I'm really sorry man, it won't happen again."


"It won't happen again'" I say incredulously rolling my eyes to the heavens seeking a morsel of self-control and a pinch of 'let go let God', as I calmly point out "of phucking course it won't happen again, nothing happens again, nothing, not even if I say it again will it be the same, nothing happens again. There I said it. Do I make my point?"


Ulrich lies back down in the small nest I made in the rear of the van because I live in the van, though I try and stay clear of rivers, because I am afraid that what happened to Chris Farley might happen to me and despite my inclinations and proclivities for motivational speaking I am not ready to kill myself through unabated consumption.


Roachman's consciousness meanders back, way back, into some bardo of wincing introspection starring longingly and with rapt fixity at the paisley cloth I duct taped to the roof of the van and he seems to be repeating the same phrase over and over again like a monotone Buddhist adept spinning a prayer wheel at the roof of the world doing his very best to cultivate merit as he mutters, "it won't happen again, there's no place like home, it won't happen again, there's no place like home, it won't happen again, there's no place like home."


The degree of my personal phucked-ness is so vast I don't have the vocabulary to begin to express just how multi-valent, fractally percussive, and suppositorialy deep up my karmic ass, this all encompassing existential irrelevance haunts me. I ran out of excuses and clever 12 step one-liners long ago and nothing can make a dent in the crushing pressure I feel from my failed frames of reference for what or who it is I think I am or thought I was.


I turn left onto Central from the 80 exit ramp heading for the dog park and rather than floor it into a passing gasoline truck I start humming to myself, "it won't happen again, there's no place like home."


We pull into the dog park parking area and ease into an open spot between a Prius and an Outback. Lydia texts she'll be 15 minutes late so I crank the seat back, throw my feet on the dash and take a moment to go unconscious.........

We're sitting in the shade on the cool smooth concrete porch just outside the carved wooden doors of the Kali Temple as the hot Bengali sun begins its descent into night. Prahlad is wearing a faded peach t-shirt and a loosely wrapped ochre lungi. He is a renunciate kundalini yogi, born at the turn of the century, wild jackals eat from his hand. A long japa mala made from fat rudraksha beads drapes around his neck and rests on his generous belly.

Baba is an Utkala Brahmin and wears the sacred Yagnopavitam thread across his left shoulder and right hip where he bears an old scar given him by his father with a small wood axe when, as a child, he stole an unripe mango from a neighbor's tree for his mother, she was hungry. The family with six children was poor.

Baba wears a copper bracelet threaded with a single rudraksha bead on his right arm, just above his elbow. It is secured with a twist in the wire, it is not soldered. His guru, an ancient giant Naga Baba who roams the ethers and sacred jungle groves of Central India, gave him the name Prahlad Chandra Brahmachari after Baba ran away from home to seek refuge amongst the sadhus who lived by the Narmada River.

Prahlad's hookah stands 18" tall, he is smoking some fragrant tumbâk laced with molasses and apple on top of glowing coals and I watch the smoke exit his mouth and form into perfect Om symbols as they waft and languidly disintegrate into the humid evening air.

We are all entranced by his sattvic countenance and the way he holds everyone's attention without a word or a glance. He smokes and we swim in rapture, a perfect intimacy hovering just outside of time. I am rising and falling free from reference, I have no past or person, no appointments and no becoming, there is presence, but I cannot find myself - I am sweetly sobbing with an unutterable grace I did absolutely nothing to deserve.

Baba clears his throat and I look up to enjoy his face, our eyes lock. He grabs me with his eyes, his pupils begin to shine, the porch and the people and the vague outlines of the building and the trees blur into irrelevance as I am accelerated into his shining eyes. Baba mutters, "Prana Jyoti Brahman" and all is evaporated beyond any recognition or memory.

Tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. I jolt awake and see Lydia taping her vape pen on the van windshield with a big grin on her face. "Time for a walk" I say out loud and we hold hands for the first time in a long time.


Lydia hailed from a progressive bohemian suburban family from Seaford, NY on Long Island. Her mother, the middle child of five, was raised in the Bronx by immigrant parents from a small village in northern Rumania that sailed to New York City just in time to escape the chaos that claimed the lives of so many. They were both Jews and both communists, in a politically hopeful way.

Lydia's mom Rachael Roitman was instrumental in blocking the School Board from naming the local high school after Joe McCarthy, by single-handedly arousing sufficient dissension amongst blue-collar neighbors from the three adjacent towns of Seaford, Wantagh, and Levittown, NY thus changing the name to General Douglas MacArthur High - a hero in the eyes of some and the lesser of two evils in the eyes of others.

Rachael was also known amongst certain circles as a suburban bruja long before that term was introduced to the common lexicon thanks to Carlos Castaneda's works. She was an herbalist, spiritual counselor, clandestine midwife and abortionist, medium, soul retrieval healer, and she grew hemp in her tomato garden each summer so we had ample access to better than decent herb while growing up.

Lydia's dad, a few years older than Rachael was a Masonic enforcer. He had a faded number tattooed on his arm, revealing that his experience as a young child was not the same as Lydia's or her parents. He had the build of a flexible and deliberate brick wall with hands so strong he could burst a football with them without so much as a grimace.

I saw him do it once when schooling me on the proper way to treat his daughter. That event forever seeded my consciousness with a depth of respect that I may have regretfully forfeited otherwise.

Now few know about the consequences that are promised to visit upon a Degreed Mason who foolishly reveals the brotherhood's sacred hand shake and spoken word to the uninitiated. It is not appropriate for me to even hint at what those consequences might be, but you wouldn't want to test the temerity of Lydia's Dad, Harris "Hank the Tank" Maennerchor, and if he did have reason to visit with you in an official capacity, that was a bad hair day with a capital B.

On account of his reputation and the respect he quietly commanded from neighbors and his fellow Local 3 IBEW union workers, Rachael never had any problem practicing her craft and she sure made our gnarly teenage lives more than tolerable given the adult privileges we had at Lydia's house concerning loud music, late night parties, drug use, sexual experimentation, and copious snacking.

After I got out of the van Lydia reached for my hand and gave it a squeeze; a really heart piercing squeeze. I sheepishly held her gaze and blurted out, not intending to be so affected by her libidinal welcome, "I want to sleep with you." Then backpedaling immediately I say, "Shit, I'm so sorry I said that!"

Before I could protest or apologize any further Lydia smiled right through me and said, "Of course you do. You're staying with me tonight. I've got bud and wine, pretzels, jalapeño goat cheese, and stories to tell you that I've never told you."

We walk in silence heading north along the Eastern shore of the San Francisco bay, through the bird sanctuaries and the marshes, meandering around the Richmond Marina and the cathedral of masts from its hundreds of sailboats, catamarans, and yachts. For a few minutes we enjoy the playful mirth of a seal pup spy-hoping to say hello, we stroll past Salute e Vita where I worked as bartender, then the Rosie the Riveter museum, all the way to the end of the path at the Ford Assembly building circa 1931 to enjoy the view of San Francisco's skyline from across the bay.

"Lydia" I confess, breaking our luscious silence, "I can't seem to recover the former confidence I once had about my life, its course, the surety of meaning or purpose, or that each day is even some continuation of the day before. I'm not sure what's happening to me, everything is vague and crisp, amorphous and specific, intimate and impersonal, I seem to be always watching myself acting in an unscripted movie from a camera mounted somewhere just above my head. I'm not sure if you know what I mean. If you know what I mean."

Lydia smiles at me, her eyes wet, intense, and focused somewhere far away though her presence and nearness are comforting to the point of cessation. She leans in so I can feel her feeling me, rubbing bones close, and says, "Sounds like you're waking up."

Then she starts to hum "OM" in my ear, breathing it in and breathing it out, I am cascading in OM, rising and falling in OM, shimmering near the edge of some sacred orgasm as she plays me like a didgeridoo crooning a song of unrequited love for all the universe to hear.

Quantum entangled with all that is and ever was, I let go of everything I thought I had and thought I knew, falling slack into her arms, I come home at last.


I am reeling in an ephemeral stillness penetrating my consciousness with a very unfamiliar surety of being that rests far behind and beyond the textures of the world I once thought I knew.

What I knew as my mind and my body and how I inhabited my experience had changed so profoundly in that instant. All I could say is what was left of me was a curiously joyful innocence and presence of novelty fascinated and in love with being itself.

I could feel this absolute and immersive nourishment as the ground of being, unencumbered by the world, because I was the world and nothing at all with no quarrel and no question.

I look into Lydia's welcoming eyes and whisper to her, "Is it alright if I say thank you?" She laughs, kisses me on the nose and replies, "I had nothing to do with it, so may I say 'thank you' to you?"

We laugh and begin to walk back to the car sometimes holding hands, sometimes bumping deliberately into each other's hips, giggling, and swaying with a far-away wonder that frosts each effortless moment with the sweetness of the self.

Time has no time and space has no space, we walk and breathe and revel in what's so though nothing in particular is so. My being is self-consumed without distraction so I find myself perfectly attentive to presence and I am with no effort, completely free from story or anticipation.

Rounding the last curve in the path and just around the restrooms I see my eggplant van and nearing the passenger door I see a note on the windshield. It reads, "Caught a ride to Marin for the kirtan show at OS, maybe see you there - yours Roachman."

Lydia reads the note over my shoulder, gives me a pat on my bottom and says, "Cool, let's do this! Hare Krishna at the Open Secret, I am so there. We can grab an eel roll and a hot saké at Umi Sushi and dance the night away. You coming?"

It wasn't but a couple hours ago that I was knotted and gnarled with existential recalcitrance and now my heart jumped at the thought of some primal rhythms and some sushi. "Wouldn't miss it for the world!"

The San Francisco sun was setting just North of Mount Tam's crest while a brilliant grey fog tube was pouring in from the Pacific ocean through the Golden Gate reaching like a giant spine all the way across the bay to the Berkeley hills, a Gaiac majesty if ever there was one.

Lydia fired up the vape pen as we drove over the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge gazing at the water and the sky and the feast of all that shines.

I might say I was happy, but whatever it was that I was could not be rendered in words.



Euphoric and free from arising we cruise down the West side of the bridge and start to merge with a double streamer of ruby lights filling both lanes, "Shit, we're gonna be late for the kirtan," I mutter.

Lydia adjusts her gaze from nowhere to right now and reaches her long right leg across the passenger seat and presses her foot down on my foot on the accelerator covering my eyes with her shawl which smells of frankincense and myrrh from another time and I shriek as she starts chanting "Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram" kiss close deep into my ear and the van is speeding into barely crawling traffic ahead and I freeze with helpless panic and Lydia grabs my nuts real hard though I don't feel a thing, "Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram" and I black out.

I can't recall with any certainty what happened or how it happened or even if it happened, but before I regained worldly consciousness my body felt like water flowing up from a deep blue aquifer of streaming emptiness perfectly present and perfectly causeless and there was the sweetest soma on my tongue that radiated through the roof of my mouth into my pituitary gland and from there straight to my crown chakra where the left and right parietal bones suture with the occiput and all was light, sweet streaming palpable light and without the slightest doubt or fantasia I knew I was seeing God, I knew I was God.

Then the brick. I open my eyes half expecting to be strewn across the rear end of another car or maybe in a surgical suite with missing limbs but I find myself without injury in the van with Lydia softly cooing beside me in what appears by the low grey roof and neatly parked vehicles on either side of us to be a parking garage.

"Lydia," I whisper dryly, "Where are we, are we OK? and she says with mirthful glee, "We're in the Third & C street garage in San Rafael just across from the Open Secret with just enough time to get a taco before the show. Coming?"

I cannot describe and vaguely remember how tight I seized right there and then like a living Rigor mortis stiffy brought on by an elephant's dose of PCP that pervaded my entirety as my demands and insistence on reason and reality were drop kicked hard enough to apogee at the far edges of the Thermosphere.

I was unriveted from anything resembling physics and my as yet untested loyalty to it, such uncharitable derailment is not possible to convey. I cannot speak so I plead with my eyes wet with tears that are crying themselves, "Lydia, help me. I can't move".

She knows my predicament and giggling, reaches over to caress my face and wipes the tears away with her shawl which smells of sandalwood and ghee from another time and I am released from this swell of disorientation in an instant, if I had to count it, and we stroll into the night for tacos and the rhythmic pulse of bhajans and drums.


Veering sharp right out of the garage heading up C Street toward the Mission San Rafael Arcángel I gaze to my left and see three men standing in front of the Open Secret, then I freeze when I realize it is Carlos Santana, Jai Uttal, and Bobby Weir. "Holy shit," I mutter. I am transfixed as I watch them giggle at jokes told under their breath leaning on each other for balance as they sway with laughter.

Lydia turns quickly back around once she realizes I am frozen in wonder and star struck and held in a trance of affection and she yells at me, "Stop looking at them! Those beings are not who you think they are. That's Sahuarita the little saguaro. She is a trebruja and when she's not flying around like a big fat crow she appears as three men. You must avert your gaze now or she'll enchant you. Do it now!"

Lydia jerks my head away and starts to push me up the street humming something in a language I don't recognize saying, "you tog tsam skyag pa, you tog tsam skyag pa, you tog tsam skyag pa" and tells me not to look back too late after I do and see my three music legends turn into three Mexican men with sombreros glaring at us from across the street and then I buckle over and dry heave as they merge into a behemoth iridescent black raven and fly straight up over the roof of the garage.

"Phuck, phuck, phuck, what was that, phuck, tell me that didn't happen, goddammit phuck, I'm gonna puke!" and do. Lydia says, "Goddammit yourself you phucking tog tsam skyag pa. I told you not to turn back!"

"Lydia", now I'm starting to laugh and spasm, "What the phuck does tog tsam skyag pa mean, what language is that?" and she says laughing and dropping to her knees, "It means little shit in Tibetan, you goddam little shit," sputtering out her words and rolling on the sidewalk holding her stomach roaring.

"Look you little shit," catching her breath, "We're not where you think we are, we're never going back, you're never going back to whatever your life was or you thought it was, that Earth is gone for you, all of it. From now on it is free fall and shock and wonder and free fall and repeat for the remainder. Everything you see, everything you hear, everything you smell, everything you touch, everything you taste, and everything you think this is, it isn't, and you can never go back to what you still remember as the world."

Now she is standing over me and she is all business and there is nothing that even hints at 'I'm only kidding' and she holds out her hand and asks, "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?" and she morphs just for an instant into Chris Tucker and back again as if just to make the point, "Do you?", she purrs in a way that I cannot refuse, and say "Yes, I see now. I'm not sure what it means or how it will go from here, but I understand now that I am never going back."

"Good," she says. "Now be careful of that witch Sahuarita, she makes mirth and confusion out of anyone who dares hold her gaze. I need you sober and here. Now let's get a taco and a Tecate, you've made me hungry."