Remembrance of things past in the life of Seamas Flowers, Chapter 3

Strolling down the Avenue one day, Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, then sometimes referred to as “the retirement community of the young”, and hearing some wild harangue emanating from a store front, Seamas went in to investigate and found himself in the midst of a gathering of the Church of Abundant Grace, which was one of a number of pyramid schemes that swept the country like brush fire with the prosperity consciousness of the 80’s , in response to the exhortations of the Hollywood hero who preached the universal right to get rich.

Seamas was high on pot and instantly taken in by the infectious atmosphere being orchestrated by the Reverend Ishmael Pink, who preached on the subject of the New Eden of Universal Abundance where God made money grow on trees that men could not see or believe because they were beguiled by evil Governments and Corporations that wished to keep them in debt and wage-slavery. Seamas’s thinking had always traveled along similar lines and he was astonished and fascinated to hear his own thoughts uttered so boldly by this handsome African man, Reverend Pink, in his gorgeous ermine robe, gesturing with such dignity and grace, an image of opulent nobility like nothing he’d ever seen, like some ancient African monarch. Furthermore, he had recently read the work of a psychic who had predicted that a black American would appear to create a new prosperity movement among the great mass of well-fed American peasants called “the middle class”.

As the 80’s were closing in around him and the president was gleefully kicking the mostly dead horse of the 60’s, Seamas was increasingly desperate and medicating himself rather too much with psychoactive drugs, so that on this otherwise ordinary day in the People’s Republic of Berkeley when the Reverend Pink appeared in a ramshackle storefront on the Avenue as if in a vision, Seamas abandoned what reservations lurked in his rational mind and began to resonate with him, this gaudy, theatrical, vaguely lubricious orator, this courtly aristocrat of the underdog, giving voice to a vision of easy money and the brotherhood of man! It could not be coincidence, it had to be destiny! There are no accidents!

Seamas had never heard of Charles Ponzi or pyramid schemes and he despised the bourgeoises worship of money that defines the American character, but listening to Reverend Pink he began to realize that maybe money wasn’t the heroin of the soul that he had always thought it was, that maybe it was a kind of mystical substance that obeyed strange alchemical laws and that this Reverend Pink seemed to understand them, and was perhaps an angel revealing to the people the heretofore highly classified secrets of money known only to the rulers and exploiters of the people. Maybe he was a truly seditious angel, and therefore a true agent of justice, spreading the secrets of money that would free the people from their wage-slavery! Seamas reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of bills, part of the money he had borrowed from Phoebe.

“I say to the brother with money in his hand, what is it you believe, brother? Do you believe that poverty is a curse placed upon you by the rich, a curse you can exorcize yourself if only you believe that you can?”

“Yes!” Seamas shouted.

“Brother, do you believe that you can lift this curse laid upon you by those who would oppress you?”

“Yes!”

“Do you believe that the Lord of Natural Abundance will reward you for your act of faith?”

“Yes!”

“Do you believe in your heart & mind that by giving a little to the Lord, you will receive it back tenfold, one hundredfold, one thousandfold?”

“Yes! The Lord will multiply my money!”

“Amen! He will, brother! He will! Your belief in the Lord is your best investment. Have faith in the Lord and come forward into the New Eden of Universal Abundance! Come forward, into a new brotherhood of man! Dare to be Rich!”

This gesture of faith initiated a wave of pledging in the crowd and Seamas was then and there embarked on a new adventure with no clear idea at all of what he was doing. After the sermon all the new members of the church gathered for a collective baptism and to have their tax deductible contributions recorded and to plan for future gatherings. Seamas received his divine distribution schedule, and though the Reverend Pink reviewed in rather tedious detail the array of investments he claimed were held by the Church at home and abroad and the phenomenal returns yielded therefrom, all legally tax-exempt, Seamas’s eyes glazed over and he was content to let the Reverend handle the details and wait until the next meeting to see if it was actually going to work as promised. He would make no attempt to explain this to Phoebe, who was excessively cynical and a little anal-retentive, in his opinion. Where money was concerned, she was a bummer, he thought, so there was no need to mention anything to her at all and risk her bad vibes making it all go sour.

The next week, in a larger space, an aerobics studio, the Reverend Pink again worked his magic. Seamas doubled his money, which he promptly re-pledged. Divine distributions were made in cash and the mere dozen original founding members quickly grew to several hundred in a matter of a few weeks and then to several thousand, and, behold, a juggernaut of enthusiasm was well underway and gathering momentum as more and more church members experienced the Lord’s grace, and meetings were held in larger and larger spaces until they came to resemble the floor of the stock exchange in the president’s bull market with greed and joy and brotherhood as the Lord rewarded believers from face to shining face.

Eventually, however, Seamas became disillusioned with the Reverend Pink, who arrived at meetings in a Rolls Royce and began to seem less the seditious angel than a mere greedy pimp, and no matter that owing to his status as a founding member Seamas was rolling in more cash than he had ever imagined he might have, he was growing uneasy with knowledge of the Reverend’s cocaine habit and his own suspicions and dark imaginings inspired by certain other church members, notably Jimmy, whom everyone called “Numbers”, a darkly pigmented, slight, soft-spoken, intelligent man who had grown up in the same neighborhood with the Reverend Pink in East Oakland. Jimmy was a church accountant and member of the inner circle, who was touched by Seamas’ naivete and initiated him into the meaning of the concept of a pyramid scheme. It was like the state lotto, or the social security system, Jimmy patiently explained, or the government itself, the only difference being that a pyramid scheme was illegal. Most church members were going to loose, he pointed out in his sober, ironic fashion, because the Church of Divine Abundance had no legal investments and no legal income other than the pledges given by the ever-increasing numbers of new church members. Drug profits were substantial, however.

When Jimmy’s cool logic finally penetrated the haze of fuzzy mysticism that shrouded Seamas’s brain and Seamas realized that the Reverend Pink was merely redistributing money from the many to the privileged few in the time honored way of capitalism, and that he, Seamas Flowers, was one of that privileged few growing fat at the expense of others, he experienced a crisis of conscience and became an apostate. “How can he talk about the empowerment of the common man, how can he lie like that?” Seamas cried in the throes of disillusionment.

“He telling it like he see it,” said Jimmy with sly amusement. “He be the common man, he be empowering himself!”

“You think it’s funny? You’re as bad as he is!”

“You the funny one! You ain’t got no sense a humor! Ain’t no difference ‘tween playin the lotto and joining up to Pink’s church. Shit, man, you can’t help all the people! They be stupid. If you be helping yourself and a few others, you doin bout as good as Jesus Christ.”

Jimmy only laughed when Seamas wondered about the possibility of giving the money back and he restrained Seamas when he had the impulse to try to shut the church down. He stood between Seamas and the Reverend Pink, who had acquired several large bodyguards in his entourage, and convinced him that he should just leave quietly, advice that Jimmy himself followed, but not before he erased any evidence of his or Seamas’ membership in the church. Seamas took his dirty money home to Phoebe, totaling $102,756.00, one hundred two thousand seven hundred fifty six dollars, but so ashamed was he of its origin that he never revealed to her where it came from.

Phoebe was a delicious, dark-eyed, neo-barbarian at the time, she oozed estrogens and she gave Jimmy goose bumps. She was very different from Arbelle, but Seamas was different then, too. It is hard to believe that the grey-haired guy now sitting in this gas station in Northern California with his feet up on the desk, stroking a totally relaxed, euphoric cat drooling on his jeans as he projects his consciousness into Arbelle’s bathroom, is the same guy who used to cohabit with Phoebe, the buxom, frothing, big-butted one. It’s as difficult to believe that Seamas actually owns the gas station, has owned it for years, and has been able to adopt the habits of diligence, frugality, perseverance, and self-discipline necessary to make him a respected and productive barnacle on the bedrock of his community.

The mind is struck, too, by the different worlds separated by twenty years that is at the same time an almost unspannable distance. Society was still free when Seamas cavorted with Phoebe, probably more free for more people than it has ever been during the last millennium, or at any time in the history of the Western world. And it will be free again one day, certainly, but with fewer people in it who have a greater love for themselves and the web of nature that enfolds them, one hopes. One hopes, that is all, one can never say for sure. Not even the Creator can say for sure, and that’s the way He likes it.

Seamas kept his stash locked in a metal chest bolted to the closet floor, installed when Phoebe wasn’t home. She didn’t know it was there, so jammed was this closet with boxes and paraphernalia of all sorts. Paper meant nothing to Seamas. He was strictly a hard money man, believing that money should have weight to it, and beauty, and if he was going to make his point to Phoebe, he was going to do it right with money that glittered and gleamed and held its value and would last for hundreds of years, even at the bottom of the sea, silver money and gold money, real money. He was going to teach her a lesson she’d never forget!

Jimmy hung around the periphery of their relationship like the family dog from the first time that Seamas brought him home for dinner, demonstrating himself to be the soul of discretion, and spying on Phoebe with his hot, dark little eyes, which amused her, and Seamas, too. Phoebe could be jealous of Jimmy at times, for the amount of time he spent with Seamas and for the conspiratorial attitude between them, even though Jimmy’s highest aspiration was to get down on his knees and lick every square centimeter of her sleek, curvaceous body, for she was the most beautiful white woman who had ever given him the time of day, not to mention cook him a meal, even if it was rabbit food, even if she never had a good word for barbecue.

Seamas and Phoebe rented a small house with a yard from Phoebe’s father, Schlomo Skaminsky, a wealthy real estate speculator originally from Minsk, an idiosyncratic and demanding individual who had on one occasion made an effort to commit his errant daughter to a mental institution. His wellintentioned approach to curing her of her 60’s contamination alienated her, needless to say. There was no question in his mind that she continued to be in need of professional help to be living with a man like Seamas in the style that she was living when she had a good husband already, a wealthy husband, and a child, the only precious grandchild of Schlomo Skaminsky! Meshugge was the only word to describe her!

Seamas sat at the kitchen table, drumming his fingers in a constant tattoo. He was thinking, calm and composed in the midst of a great tidal wave of music, a fast-breaking curl of rock and roll with a single note surfing over it, diving and flying. Phoebe floated around the kitchen with a psychedelic glitter in her eyes, though she was not using any drug at that moment. Seamas had wired every room with sound. He had told her it was necessary for his good health. “I am stuffed with history, in my nose, in my ears, and I can’t see, I can’t even take a good shit because I’m constipated with history. Rock and roll kills history. It’s the perfect laxative, diuretic, antihistamine, and overall analgesic. It sets me free! Rock and roll will never die!” She liked it, too, though it was good to have an explanation. They could use the yoga of rock and roll to transcend the modern world and return to simpler selves.

It was more interesting to observe Phoebe than Seamas in her peregrinations from stove to sink to table because of her magnificent behind, thinly concealed by the flimsy, flowing material of her peasant skirt. It seemed to have a rudimentary intelligence of its own, grinning, frowning, winking in its own non-verbal language, among its other talents, such as chewing gum and swallowing bicycle seats. Even though Seamas appeared lost in his thoughts, incubating some scheme in the mare’s nest of his mind, something having to do with the mass of coins stashed in the closet, no doubt, it seemed that he was also simultaneously maintaining a dialogue with Phoebe’s butt. Jimmy laughed when he slid off his stool and seized hold of her from behind.

She let out a shriek, for she didn’t realize the mutiny of her jabbering buttocks that had been issuing inappropriate invitations with a guest present. Seamas buried his face in the great crevasse of this behind in an attitude of rapture like one kneeling in worship as she turned and slapped him with a bunch of wet spinach. She sternly asserted her priorities, and made a lunge at Jimmy’s grinning face, too, quelling the anarchy of her anatomy.

For a woman like Phoebe the struggle with her conflicting priorities was relentless. Gravity influenced her more than most and she was innately inclined to spend much of her time in a horizontal position, considering that was easier than swimming in the glue of this reality. It was too easy for her to lie in bed and sigh, sighing and waiting for a man to release her from this gravity well, staring indolently at the ceiling, swaying with the currents and giggling in the eddies, letting the little silver fishes cavort in her drifting mane. She would raise her arm occasionally for no purpose except to admire it, her graceful arm, her tapering fingers, and the rings of many colored stones.

She had to maintain strong priorities so that dinner could be created from disparate vegetables and grains kept in a variety of glass jars along the wall. She had collected quite a selection of glass jars with screw-on lids and filled these former containers of processed food with unprocessed food, which she then processed herself in order to feed Seamas. She had liberated her kitchen from technology: no food-processor, no microwave, no juicer, no trash compactor. There was no food-stuff tainted by pesticides, not a single can of Campbell Soup. She was creating New Food for the New World.

However, she was not always certain why she should feed Seamas and go to all this trouble when it seemed he would eat almost anything regardless of origin or state of contamination, and when he carried out these sorties on her behind without the slightest warning, like a terrorist. Did he really want to sprawl on the floor with Jimmy watching or did he want to eat? Sometimes she and Jimmy would exchange sympathetic glances. Seamas did not understand. Seamas was an ingrate and a zhlub. She turned to him, giving him an evil eye.

“Seamas! Take off those stupid sunglasses in the house!”

He looked up at her with cool impudence, casually removing the glasses, nodding & winking at Jimmy.

“Now you take something off, woman! Let me see you naked!”

“Fuck you!”

“Sit down here on this table, right here and let the hog go at the trough! I want to be a hog, woman!”

“Shut up! Creep! Filthy creep!”

Sometimes he went too far. He had donned those sunglasses in revenge for the spinach because he knew she had trouble establishing his identity, because he knew he looked like a sleazy snake, and because he was showing off for his sleazy, leering friend. It was really too much, it was a little frightening sometimes! Sometimes she would say: “Who are you!” like he was an alien, because he was so awful. She looked at those mirrored shades and saw her own image looking back and it gave her the creeps.

Seamas was more the elusive fellow back then than he is today. He could play hide and seek with Phoebe as he never could with Arbelle, who was even more elusive than himself, perhaps because his explosive shock of curly hair wasn’t grey then, perhaps because he was dancing over the surface of life and practiced his navigational facility in the affections of women, always on guard against losing his balance and falling. He kept his balance back then, he believed.

He removed his glasses, but there was another pair beneath them so that Phoebe demanded that he takes those off, too, which he did, revealing yet more affectations, and that cool impudence, which she commanded removed. And he peeled that off, but there was a face of defiance there. That had to go. She could have unraveled him like an onion if she’d wanted to, because she was by no means a stupid woman in her search for his naked, honest face. But she wouldn’t go that far, she had to give him his deniability and freedom and ultimately refrain from calling his hand for fear that he might really disappear. And if he became a ghost, what would she have left but an ugly husband in Walnut Creek who prematurely ejaculated?

Seamas could tease her and push her further than another woman, but he knew the limits, the major displeasure that could erupt in fury, but also implode, poisoning the water supply, the food, disrupting radio reception. She was most often spontaneous and sweet-tempered, malleable, unlike Arbelle, who is calculated, waspish, or raspy. She was a fool in love, though with what precisely she did not know. He sat on his stool, the impudent rooster, her then-idea of erotic perfection, and she gave him another glance, a lingering one. Emanating her invisible tentacles of love for this self described hog-at-a-trough. She was not easily embarrassed or intimidated. She savored the confident grin on his lips. They both had full lips that dominated their faces. She glided over and placed her kiss on his, which annoyed Jimmy, who looked up from his comic book and scowled, as they pursued their kissing routine with their fat, sensitive membranes in an extended, squirming orgy, like juicy, binging night crawlers. He pulled her supple abundant body close to his and teased her again with a loud whisper.

“Why don’t you just give Jimmy a quick tumble so he’ll shut up and leave us alone?”

“No,” she sneered, curling her lip at him, wriggling loose from his grasp and reasserting her priorities. “I’ve got better things to do than service your friends, or you, either, meshugge!!”

She was fragile as eternity but also tough enough to send her tender shoots up through the freeway and burst into flower. And I have watched the spirit of Seamas explode like the aureole of his blonde hair, and seen him naked and intoxicated with wine-stained lips. He grasped her rudely and conquered her, and though Jimmy could secretly boast to her that he would never leave a mark on the meringue of her skin in his longing to dispossess his friend, she couldn’t possibly respect such obsequiousness and respond to such gentleness, nor could she be captivated for long by rudeness or crudeness. She was difficult to grasp, though she’d been man’s companion for ages before her ancestors had their first glimpse of the civilized world. It was not until the 4th Century that her people swept off the Asian steppe and collided with the orbit of the West. They came in boisterous hoards under the banner of Atilla, masses of them, bristling with lances to the horizon, bearing upon each lance a rotting human skull. The sky was the color of the blood from the arterial system of the civilization whose throat was being cut. They came in a human storm to loot and burn and reduce life once more to its essentials, to make it once more worthy of their own wildness, so that they might mingle their DNA with the vanquished and cause a new world to rise again.

And I have seen Seamas emerging from the tangled, dark forests of the North, his cold blue eyes glittering like sapphire, his teeth flashing. He was her fellow barbarian, the grinning Visigoth, a blonde giant who squats insolently in the polished Pantheon to shit.

Seamas began rapping his fingers again, staring at the wall where a cockroach dawdled next to the 60’s poster by the San Francisco artist, Satty. RIP, Satty, you plunged from your bell tower and disappeared into the psychedelic vortex that was ever your true home. Seamas was not thinking about Satty, he was contemplating the cockroach from the perspective of its potential utility to mankind. What kind of protein yield would a casserole made of 1,000 roaches have and how could it be made palatable? Were these creatures as abominable and filthy as commonly supposed or could it be that they possessed mysterious molecular structures that might strengthen human resistance to disease and promote longevity? He was considering a new entry in the book he was researching, The Transition Diet. Then his mind flipped to something else and he roused himself and slid off the stool. From the depths of the refrigerator he retrieved a bundle of tightly-wrapped butcher paper that had been hidden behind leftovers from last week.

“I almost forgot,” he said, flopping the package down on the table.

“What a shame!” Phoebe sighed, glancing at the package suspiciously and guessing that it contained some kind of meat, and something obnoxious, too, like a cow’s tongue, the kind of weird and disgusting thing that he and her father would eat, and Jimmy, too, although Jimmy actually seemed fastidious next to Seamas. Never in her 16 centuries of civilized incarnations had she seen anyone with so bizarre a gastronomical inclination. He was truly omnivorous, he fried fungus in peanut oil, he cropped dandelions from the yard, dug up tubers, ate frogs, sparrows, pigeons, rats, even mice, and he experimented with insects, too. What could she do? Seamas had a higher purpose for everything, no matter how ridiculous or revolting it seemed.

“More dead meat?”

“One day you’ll fight for one piece of a dead snake!” he shot back.

“I don’t want to see the ugly thing, Seamas!”

“You’re so squeamish!” he sneered. “In Auschwitz you ate rats and lice. In Birkenau you ate shoe leather. In Bergen-Belson you ate twigs and all through history you’ve been eating shit. You eat too good. We eat too good, and there’s millions of people on this planet who won’t survive because they’re too fastidious! You think I do this for the fun of it, you think I do this just to make you sick, you think that is my purpose in life, to make you sick? Just look at the Gulag, why won’t you! They scraped lichens off frozen rocks. Then one day they found a mammoth frozen solid in the permafrost, 10,000 years old, left over from the last catastrophe, and they shouted with joy, and not because they were paleontologists. They were starving! You have to abandon your bourgeoise pretensions and survive! I’m learning how to survive, dammit, and laugh your ass off if you want to, Jimmy, because I’d like to know why I have to endure criticisms and rejection when I’m trying to find a way for us, and I emphasize that us, because it’s not just us, but everybody. It’s research, for crissake! The day will come when I will gladly trade my guitar for one fat sewer rat and I will look back and I will say, that sure was smart of me to research the transition diet and learn how to cook this rat! Read my book, for crissake! Somebody has to tell the world how to play end-games, somebody has to look disaster in the eye. It’s survival I’m talking about!”

“You tell us, Seamas, you crazy muthafucka!” Jimmy applauded, ever appreciative of heated rhetoric, though he suspected that Seamas really was crazy.

“One way to survive is to get a job,” Phoebe said in a quiet, constructive tone.

“What?” Seamas roared.

“You done it now, woman! You hittin below the belt!”

“It always come to this, doesn’t it? You say to yourself, well, when society collapses and Schlomo won’t send me my welfare check anymore, I’ll just get a job and everything will be fine! Jobs, for crissakes! Americans think a goddam job is the answer to everything! Piss on a job! There won’t be any jobs! Jobs are the first thing that will go! Do you really think a guy with a job wants to eat a rat? Is that what you really think? No, a guy with a job never wants to eat a rat, or a woolly mammoth, either. A guy with a job is going to go to the supermarket. But there won’t be any supermarkets when society collapses. Your own backyard will be your supermarket. We’re not talking delicacies, for crissake, we’re talking survival!”

“Oh, my luftmentsh!” Phoebe said tenderly, putting her arms around Seamas. “My poor luftmentsh!”

“Stop it!” he snarled, pulling away from her. “And don’t start babbling in your foreign language. I know exactly where you’re coming from. It’s because that brutal capitalist of a father has fucked your mind, that’s part of the problem, but there’s another aspect of it, too. You’re just too mainstream, that’s what it is. I don’t want a goddam job, but you keep hammering away at me because you have this thing about money and respectability!”

“I have a thing about money, and respectability? Are you serious?”

At this point, Jimmy slid off his stool and slipped unnoticed into the living room as he had done many times, quietly letting himself out the door, unwilling to pay such a cost for dinner! Seamas and Phoebe didn’t miss a beat.

“Don’t go around thinking you’re the last true hippie on earth! Basically, it’s your father-complex, it’s your father whispering under your pillow every night: get a job, work hard, get a job, work hard, buy some property, rent it to some peasants, work hard, buy some more property, work hard, get rich. You blame me for your bourgeois delusions, but it’s your father!”

“What did you do with that $5,000 I gave you? Tell me! What did you do with it? I gave it to you seven months ago and you promised you would give it back! I trusted you! How could you be a man and take my money?” Phoebe demanded.

“Your money? For crissake, you don’t have a job! You wouldn’t know what to do with a job! Jobs are for men, you say. Money is your father’s power over you and he gives you just enough so you won’t die. He bought you off, that’s what. You think money is holy or something? You don’t have to get a job, but you can’t share with me, can you? Your father uses money to have power over you and you use money to have power over me! It’s a sick world! Money is a disease!”

“What did you do with my $5,000?” Phoebe screamed.

“I know what you’re thinking, I know exactly what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I took your precious money and just pissed it away! That’s how much you think of me! You think me and Jimmy just went out and pissed it away…and now look, Jimmy’s gone, for crissake! You drove him off with your attitude!”

“You bought that dead meat with my money!”

“I can’t believe it! This is the woman I love ranting about money,” Seamas sneered as he switched his attention to the meat board and began to pull the tape from the butcher paper. “This is the woman who joined with me in my mission and said, yes, I believe in you, Seamas, I will help you and support you. This is the same woman who now tries to sabotage my research! I am now called a parasite! She now tells me I’m not even a man because I don’t have a job!”

There was a look of sublime apprehension on the smooth, ovoid face of the sloe-eyed Phoebe as she watched his sturdy fingers peeling back the paper to reveal a tubular mass of animal flesh in a bed of bloody gore. In spite of herself she stared at this hideous frankfurter-like object and she felt vaguely nauseous, as though she had reached the outer limits of her mind. It was wrapped in a delicate, amphibious skin, like a newt that lives in a drain pipe, and Seamas stroked its velvety-smoothness with his fingertip.

“I had to go to Modesto for this,” he muttered.

Phoebe stared at him mutely.

“This is a horse’s cock,” he said soberly. “And it’s a big one. It probably drug on the ground.”

Phoebe uttered a small cry and fled from the kitchen. Seamas refolded the paper over his prize and lost his enthusiasm for this experiment. However, in his own mind he could see that he had gone too far, if not in his research, then in his behavior with Phoebe. It didn’t really fit in with the survival diet anyway, since horses would be few and far-between in the post-catastrophe world. It was extracurricular and not worth alienating Phoebe over. He went after her and found her sitting on the naugahyde, post-modern couch in their living room with her life passing before her eyes.

“I’m sorry, Yoni. I’m truly sorry. It is disgusting. But remember this: the French love horsemeat. I may be odd, but if you’re going to send for the men in the white coats, better send them to France, too. You know what they do? They slice up a cow’s nose and pickle it! That’s the truth. You can buy it in Paris, I swear, and that’s supposed to be the most civilized place on earth!”

Phoebe could not hear, for she was in telepathic communication with her son in Walnut Creek, so near yet so far.

“Don’t forget to brush your teeth,” she muttered absently.

“What, brush my teeth? What for? I’m not going to eat the damn thing. It was a mistake.”

“Oh, shut up!” Phoebe snapped, feeling the overwhelming presence of her blessed son, Howard, who was only 25 miles away, in a different world, with his father, who was protecting him from his crazy mother.

Every day the despised husband wore his yarmulke to cover his bald spot while he ranted and raved about blowing up a Mosque in Jerusalem. He wore his yarmulke in the office because he didn’t care if he looked like a geek. He forgot to take of his yarmulke when he got in the shower. Phoebe thought he was crazy. Daily she suffered the knowledge that her son was hostage to this fanatic who kept a closet full of guns.

Little Howard was getting ready for bed, wearing his rocking horse pajamas and a yarmulke. She had warned him that his father would spank him if he refused to wear it, and that he should wait until he was gone before he took it off. Her heart swelled with its surfeit of longing, it ached with its super abundance of guilt, her breast heaved, she covered her face in her hands. Would he finally win? Would she finally succumb? Seamas recognized the familiar state of possession she was prone to and there was nothing he could do, for when she was the Mother she was massive and could not be moved, she was as inevitable as birth and death.

“Things will work out, Yoni,” he said tenderly. “Just say the word and I’ll go kidnap the little Howitzer and bring him here.”

Instantly he regretted his intervention in the matter, for Phoebe seemed to swell ominously with some inner pressure as she looked up at him with naked ferocity in her eyes. To call her beloved son “Howitzer” was to drop the last straw on the camel’s aching back, for it evoked a long-standing dispute having to do with violence, war, and a carnivorous diet. The unfortunate Phoebe, possessor of high ideals, could discern no difference in that moment between the estranged but lawful husband with his bloody fanatic dream, and the so called non-violent carnivorous lover, Seamas, who slaughtered helpless animals in the name of research and ate them. She leaped from the couch and flung herself at him in a blitzkrieg attack that caught him off guard. She began to pummel him as he stumbled against the wall, but there was a quick reversal as the lithe and tough Seamas, trained in the martial discipline of Aikido, easily and gently subdued her so as not to injure her dignity.

Her huge anger translated into tears of frustration, acid tears that flowed ominously, like lava. She was beautiful in her surrender, but this surrender was not to the superior strength of Seamas, nor to the husband, nor to the so-called real world of so-called civilization, but to the tempers of the Moon that rose and fell in her like the tides, far stronger than any mere man, or any mere civilization.

“Don’t you talk to me about Howie! Don’t you be so glib! What have you got to give a son? You meshugener! You pimp! You live off a woman!”

“So, we’re back to that, are we? I’m not good enough because I don’t have a job? That’s all you women ever think about! Well, you just come here, you whimpering bitch! You just come here and see this. I’ve got the answer to all your problems!”

Seamas stomped off into the bedroom, leaving Phoebe fuming and hissing.

“Come in here, miserable bitch!” he shouted from the bedroom, as he rummaged in the closet. “You can stay out there and piss and moan if you want to, but if you want Seamas to solve your problems for you, then you come in here!”

“I’m not in the mood, meshugener!” she hissed.

Seamas had to drag her sullen resistant weight into the bedroom, but momentarily the atmosphere changed from imminent catastrophe to shrieks of laughter and surprise and the sound of coins falling over the floor, as Seamas skillfully orchestrated his redemption. Finally there was only the sound of heavy breathing and sighing as Phoebe and Seamas celebrated the renewal of their relationship and Phoebe rode over the supine Seamas, her articulate butt pummeling and pounding him. Seamas dropped handfuls of coins over her back and they slid down, pinging and clinking over the floor.

"Whoa, big girl, easy now!" Seamas was saying.