Monday, September 8, 2008


At a conference, I meet an old friend. (Or do I? Perhaps there is only just me all along . . . ) We reminisce over beers, but he seems different. We're joined by a rather large and gregarious woman who seems to know who we are. Once in our company and trust, she metamorphoses into a slim and beautiful seductress. My friend (myself?) is enthralled. Although her initial purpose seemed to be as welcoming committee, her continued presence smacks of hidden agenda.

I get separated from my friend on a quest for a beer. I find the sponsor of the conference, an asian dentist, weeping in a parlor room. He had secured too little Fat Tire for the event, it seems. I am lost for several tense hours, wandering room to room. I acquire a beer (alternate brands seem plentiful at the bar), but now have lost my friend. We were supposed to meet in the garden, but when I stumble upon the hotel's lavish front entrance, I see the previously sunny day has turned to harsh snow and blistering hail in later afternoon. All outside festivities curtailed.

Finally, I stumble upon my friend during my next circuit of the dining room. He is still accompanied by the mysterious seductress. She invites herself up to our rooms on pretense.

In the morning, I find my friend shooting up. It is unclear whether he brought his own supply, or our female visitor supplied it. In this mood, we join a morning picnic on the lawns, now returned to bright sunshine. My friend looks me in the eye, I see that his right eye has changed color: now it is a deep blue lacerated with strands of gold, green, and red. It looks penetrating, artificial, magical. He seems less my friend than ever.

He instructs me to show our female friend a particular item of furniture in one of the hotel's many elaborate staterooms. He tells me she wishes to see something "of value." The word value hangs ominous, laden with implication. But of what?

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