“But darling most of all…” sang Amanda, spooning against me and holding herself to me. “I love how you love me.”
The plane touched down with a gut-wrenching thud in Seattle. I hustled off the plane, activated the GPS and drove at eighty miles an hour to the conference.
“Time,” I say. My head begins to swim and the world dims. I sink down to the curb.
The lawyer leaned across the boardroom table and looked in my eyes. “If I can speak candidly here? I just don’t think you understand. The value. You?re off by an order of magnitude.”
I turned over and looked at her. “Things in my life are happening too quickly,” I said. “Drama, fear, anger, conflict. Too much. I seem to be losing my understanding of temporality. My sense of order.”
“The news was on KGO radio,” said the e-mail. “I realize that you are all grown-ups, but I’d like you to keep the news as quiet as you can, for as long as you can.”
Danielle wrote, “About five hundred people will be attending tonight. But seeing as how all of us are sick, we’ll cancel the rehearsal. Don?t worry! Everyone participating is a great improv actor. We?ll fake it! You’ll be a great emcee tonight, John.”
“Don?t change a single fuckin? word,” said Devon. “If you do, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”
ESTELLE: “You think too much!”
CRADEAU: “And what else is there to do?”
Elevator music. “Your call is very important to us, please continue to hold.” I redo the math: redo the license contract, send out quotes, reprint the postcards, four days, reprint the flyers, that’s five days, mailing house is three days, that’s not enough–”
The most expensive bedroom in Seattle, underneath the down sheets, three a.m. The asthmatic sigh of the high-speed elevator: inhale exhale inhale exhale, tick tick tick tick.
“And I can’t turn my brain off,” I said. “All these problems, all these thoughts and ideas. I can’t make sense of any of it. I can?t stop thinking. Please. Can you help me?”
“No, I didn’t read what you wrote… but that doesn?t matter!” she shouted. “You have no permission! You’ll delete it immediately!”
The beer and wine is on the company card. Somehow I’ve just bowled three strikes in a row. Jean-Pierre looks at me with a sardonic grin. “You’re the vendor and we’re the client, you know. You?re supposed to lose in order to make us feel good.”
“Sshh,” said Amanda, holding me. “You need sleep. Let me sing to you.”