Allegoria Paranoia




Chapter 4

At six I was awake.  I decided to try a morning run.  The cat was still asleep on the bed as I went out the door.  I decided to run through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. By the time I got to Lancaster Gate at Hyde Park, I was walking, but I kept on around the Serpentine, then west into Kensington Gardens.  Keeping pace with slow dogs and their masters out for an early morning stroll, I continued on, past Kensington Palace and Round Pond.

It occurred to me that the Israeli Embassy was nearby at Number 2 Palace Green on the edge of Kensington Gardens.  I recalled the name Teller me.  Joshua Torsky.  I thought I would call Torsky and try to arrange a meeting. I headed north toward Regent's Canal and Little Venice.  By that time I was hurting.  Injuries and the long hospital stay had put me out of condition.  Back at the flat, I made coffee, deciding to forgo pushups and situps.

There was cereal but no milk.  I washed down the dry cereal with black coffee.  Later, I made the bed and straightened up books and papers on my desk and ran an old Hoover over the tired oriental rug on the floor.  In case she comes, I thought. At nine I went out again.  In the foyer Mrs. Gardiner, my landlady, had tied up all my mail in a ribbon with a note for me.  I would have to see her later and thank her.  I went out to a green grocer and a butcher in Clifton Road to restock my depleted food supply.  As I walked back with two huge sacks of groceries, I decided to stop at Clifton Nurseries on the street behind my house.  I bought a potted geranium, which I plopped on top of the food in one of the bags.  This will cheer things up, and I thought of how it would look on the ledge of the window at the front of the flat overlooking the street.

I also bought a bottle of Medoc.  I'd make a steak and a big salad.  I wished I had some French bread to go with it, but there was no place nearby to get French bread that was any good.  She probably won't come anyway.  So, it won't make any difference, my mind continued, talking to itself. When I reached the flat again, it was after eleven.  The post had arrived.  The mail sat in a pile inside the door beneath the letter slot.  The first one who came in each day separated the letters into four piles, one for each of the tenants.

I divided up the mail and put my letters with the bundle Mrs. Gardiner had made for me.
There was a letter from Horticulture magazine.  It would be a check for an article I had written on the Gardens at Kew.  I didn't know anything about plants, but I had done careful research and interviews and had checked my facts with the autocratic gardener at Kew who assured me that I had got it right.  I usually took my own photographs, but in this case a photographer I knew had taken the pictures.  The check from the magazine would come in handy.  I needed to write some more articles pretty soon.  Got to keep putting stuff in the pipeline, I thought.

I had a piece almost ready for a magazine called Diet and Health.  The story was a real bore.  It was about the effect on humans of carcinogens in feed given to cattle and hogs.  The facts for the article were readily available in England where such additives and drugs are banned.  The American magazine was eager that I complete the article for early fall publication.

I looked through the rest of the mail.  I pulled out a telegram that said, WE NEED YOU TO DO THE TOUR PIECE.  DON'T DISAPPOINT ME.  The Tour de France.  American cyclists were doing well.  An old friend would be following the tour around France, taking photographs for Rolling Stone.  I was supposed to do the article.  It involved interviewing the favored American and his leading French opponent at the end of each stage of the tour.  It would be fun.  The money was good.  But I wasn't going to do it.  I had already composed the letter turning it down.

Why am I turning down such a good assignment? I asked myself.  Maybe it was getting blown up.  I had to follow through on the investigation of illegal arms.  I didn't like being nearly killed by terrorists.  Maybe I would make contact with the IRA and interview the bastards who did it.  The irony of the idea made me laugh.  There were three or four Grubb Street tabloids that would kill for such a story.  I sat down at the computer and wrote a letter to one of the papers, outlining the article.  I knew a pubkeeper in London, a native of Ireland, who I’d heard knew people who knew people in the IRA.  Maybe I could talk him into connecting us.

It was early afternoon.  I grabbed an apple and went downstairs and outside to eat it by the landing stage where the Regent's Canal joined the Grand Union Canal.  The men, women, and families who kept canal boats were a gypsy lot and fun to talk to.  Some were Hippies now in their thirties and forties, some were dropouts.  Most were retirees who had told the world of the late twentieth century to go away.  I liked talking to them.  Another story began to form in my mind.

I saw a man I knew named Thad Spratling, standing in the stern of his long, brightly-painted narrow boat, polishing brass by the wheel.  I stepped on to the narrow gunwale and jumped up to sit on the roof of the long cabin that was Thad's home.

"Hallo, Mac.  Come for lunch, didjer?"

"Hi, Thad.  Yeah, I brought my own."  I showed off my apple.  "Not too busy today?"

"Naw.  Yer not busy yerself, I see."

"Nope.  Free as a bird." Thad examined the brasswork he'd been polishing, then looked at me.  "Ya ain't been around much of late."
I gnawed at my apple. "I've been convalescing.  I got blown up in that Harrods bombing."

"Naw, you don't tell me.  I heard fourteen people got it in that.  The IRA, was it?"

"So I hear."

Thad stood thinking about it.  He had lived through the bombing of London in the war, I knew, and like so many people of that generation, nothing really threw him.  Thad sported a top hat with grosgain band in which he kept chits and calling cards and other papers of immediate value close to hand.  His red face wore a constant quarter-inch gray stubble that offered to become a full beard but never quite did so, and a luxuriant gray mustache that began in his nostrils and covered his lips, spreading wide across his florid cheeks, as wide as the smile that lighted his face.

I listened to the singsong of Thad's conversation about the IRA, the Troubles, his Irish wife, the kids all grown and gone, and about his special freedom and bondage aboard a picturesque old boat that was a barge and a house besides.

"Are ya well now, Jack?"

"Feeling mortal, Thad, but not too bad.  I'll mend soon enough.  And yourself?"

"I'm all right for a man my age, which is sixty in December.  I've been puttering around with the boat.  That way I stay out of the way of my wife, and it keeps her off my arse."  He winked at the joke expressing male solidarity.  I laughed.

"I've gotta go now, Thad.  How about we drink a pint sometime?"

"Sounds good to me.  Any time, mate."

"See you soon then."

I jumped ashore and walked the diagonal distance back to my flat.  There were many fantastic people (as in from a fantasy) on the canal.  Thad and Maggie and Rose.  Trevor and George.  Nancy the Hippie.  Alec.  They all had stories it would be fun to tell.  I could bring along my tape recorder and talk to them all.

It was getting on toward midafternoon, and I had some writing to do, so I paused only briefly at the door of my building, taking in a few last rays of the warm sun, and then went inside.  Once upstairs, the flat seemed emptier than usual but brighter too with the light of summer coming in the windows and the sound of the boatman's speech still in my ears.  I looked toward the window at the geranium and thought of Teller.  And of Ann.  I thought of Cruikshank and his hated roses and wondered when the old potentate would return from Australia.  And I thought of Angelique,  who might or might not be visiting that night.

I sat at the computer with books and notes and wrote through the afternoon.  At six o'clock, I rose and went into the bathroom to shave and shower.  I put on a clean pair of khakis and a button-down, blue-striped shirt.  I got out the bottle of wine and opened it, then made a salad and dressing.  Good, I decided as I ate a leaf of lettuce dipped in the jar of oil, vinegar, dry mustard, and herbs.  I took out the two small, thick steaks and set them on a plate to warm under a piece of wax paper.  I guess I'm all set, I said to myself.  It was almost seven but no knock on the door.  I put a tape on the player and sat down to listen to Vivaldi.  I got up and straightened some magazines that were already straight.  I watered the geranium in the window.  It was after seven.  Oh, well.  I lay down on the couch.  In a minute I was asleep.

I didn't hear her knock, nor did I hear the sound of the door as she entered.  When I opened my eyes, she was standing over me, her dark hair long and loose, not piled up as it had been beneath her nurse's cap.  She was wearing a purple silk dress.  Her brown eyes looked violet.  She smiled at me.  She carried an armful of cut flowers, roses and chrysanthemums of various hues surrounded by green ferns, a bottle of wine, and baguette of crisp French bread.  She also hugged a book, which she set on the table with the wine.

"Do you always sleep when expecting guests?" she asked, laughing.

"Yes," I said.  It occurred to me that I was always missing the moment of people's actual arrival.  "I'm glad you're here.  I thought perhaps you wouldn't come."  My words sounded familiar to me, as if I had said them before.

"You are a charming man, but not too self-confident, I think.  That is a nice trait in a man."

I got up and took the bread and wine.  She walked past me and found a large jar, filled it with water and put the flowers in it.  Then she put the flowers on the table.  I looked at the luxuriant loveliness of the cut flowers and then at the little geranium in the window.

I said to her, "I've got steaks, and I made a salad."

"Very nice," she said.  "I have brought a Burgundy you will like.  You will open it?"

"Yes."  I put down the bread and found the opener on the counter in the kitchen.  As I turned the screw into the cork, I watched her.  I liked her legs.  Her dress was loose except where it was gathered by the silk sash at the waist.

"You look terrific," I told her. 

"Thank you."  She moved across the room toward me.  "Are you feeling well?  You look as if you have recovered from your wounds."

"I feel fine."

"Me, too, Jacques.  I like your flat.  It is pretty to look out of the window at the water of the canal.  You have a romantic soul, true?"

"It's true."  I poured the wine, and we drank.

"To friends," she said.  "I want us to be good friends."

"To good friends.  I'd like that."

"And to lovers.  We should be lovers, too."

"Yes," I said, although in my mind I did not believe it.

She smiled at me for the first time.  It was a beautiful smile.  Her lips were full and dark.  I was stunned by her beauty.  I could feel her from where she stood.  There was a too-muchness about her that was both attractive and intimidating. She stepped toward me, and her face showed that she felt a wall that I had not known was there.  But I knew it was there now.  She had run into it as surely as if it had been tangible. She took a sip of wine.

"I think you do not like yourself."

I was confused.  "It's not true.  I like myself fine."

"Ah.  Then I am wrong.  Perhaps it is that you do not put your trust in me."

I drank from my glass.  "I don't really know you yet."  I stood silent for a moment.  "This wine is very good."  I couldn’t tell in what direction the conversation was heading.

"I'm glad you like it.  I picked it especially for you.  The flowers, they are for you also.  And for me, too.  They make me happy.  They are to make you happy, too."

"Thank you," I said.  "They're very pretty."  But I felt as if somehow she were trying to extort happiness from me and to pry into me as well, and I resisted. I took another sip of wine. "How old are you?" I asked.


"How do you know so much?  I feel as if you can see right through me."

"Perhaps it is true," she laughed.

I put the glass down on a table next to the couch.  I felt more in control of myself and the situation.  Her laughter had disarmed me.  I moved closer to her, putting my hands around her waist.  I looked down into her dark eyes. I kissed her. She put her arms around his neck. Her mouth opened. Her mouth tasted good. I pulled her close to me and felt the silk of her dress against his shirt. Her soft breasts pressed against my chest. She kissed my neck and cheek.

"You are a very handsome man."  She kissed me on the ear.  "A very sexy man."

"I would like to make love to you."

"We will make love now."

She unbuttoned my shirt.  I undid the purple buttons of her silk dress and untied the silk sash.  I placed my hands on her shoulders, and the dress fell to the floor at her feet.  She put her hands on my chest and belly.

"I am Aphrodite for you?"


In a minute we were naked, close together.  We moved around the couch to the alcove that was my bedroom and fell into bed.

Later, we slept for a while.  Then I got up.  As I dressed, she awoke.  She asked me if I had a shirt she could put on.  It was a blue broadcloth shirt, and it was all she wore.
She came over to me and put her arms around my neck and moved close to me with her body.  I put his arms around her and kissed her on top of the head.

"Do you know that you are beautiful?" she asked me.

"No.  I guess I don't."

She sighed.  "You draw me to you and want me to be close so that you feel loved, and yet you do not want to be close to me.  This makes you feel vulnerable, I think.  What is it that you fear?"

"I don't know what you mean," I told her and changed the subject.  "Do you want some bread?" I asked, as I refilled the wine glasses.

"Not now.  With dinner, please."

"Okay," I said.

She sat at the table at the kitchen table.  I sat across from her, and we drank the Burgundy.

"You are in the habit of living alone?" she asked, leaning her elbows on the table, her chin in her hand.

"Yes."  I paused.  "It's easier that way."

I got up again and opened the second bottle of wine, the Medoc.  The Burgundy was gone.
She looked down at her glass.  I felt something coming.

"Why are you afraid?"

"Why do you keep asking me that?"  I was annoyed at being pushed, but I said, "Maybe you're right."  I frowned and began to move things around on the counter.

I was sorry I had drunk so much wine.  I poured more and took a swallow.  I leaned against the counter and felt glum. She reached over to touch my hand where I stood by the counter. I moved away from her hand and walked aimlessly to the living room.  I searched for something to look at, but nothing halted my gaze. The room looked black through my mood.

"Leave it alone," I said to the walls. I could have said more, but I shut up.  I knew I had said too much already.  I also realized that I was drunk.

"You cannot hurt me," she said.  She sat with her knees hugged close to her chest.

"Angelique, I'm sorry," he said, turning to face her.

"I am not Aphrodite for you, I can see."

"I'm sorry."

"I know you.  You are like most men.  But inside you are different.  I feel that you can be different."

I was annoyed again.  She just would not stop pushing.

"How have you survived intact in this world of men?" I asked in an unpleasant tone and resumed his seat at the table.

"I cannot compete with your sarcasm," she said simply.

I felt like shit. She reached across the table and put her small hand on mine.  I didn’t move.  I tried to think of something to say to be charming, to put things on a different plane, but I could think of no charms or offerings.  She could indeed see through me.

"You need to be taught to love," she said finally.

"I don't need any help," I said half-heartedly.  "Whatever needs to be done, I can do it myself.  I don't need you or anybody." I was suddenly cold, and my whole body started to shake.  I tried to steady myself but could not.  My hand shook beneath hers, but she said nothing. I took a deep breath and said to her, "I had to learn early what I was supposed to feel, and what I had to be.  Whatever happens to you growing up, you have to learn to fend for yourself.  You learn never to show you're vulnerable."

"It is the code of the warrior.  You are very self-reliant and brave, no?"

"I don't know.  Yes."

"But the armor that you wear, it will not let you grow."

"I don't see. . ."

"It does not grow."

"I can love.  I can feel.  As long as I'm in control, if I do the reaching out."

"When one reaches out to you, you draw back."

"It's not true."  I looked at her.  "You're right.  I know you're right.  SometimesI feel dead inside as if my hurt were frozen.  I mean my heart."

"I know what you mean."


"You must learn to trust life."

"I can't do that.  It's naive.  Life is not a safe place." I realized the bleakness of what I was saying.  Something spoke to me in my mind:  the world of your soul is dark and fearful.  Don't love.  Love will hurt you.  Love is poison. My body shook even worse than it had before.  How did I get myself into this? I wondered.  I laughed at my own cowardice. She still held my hand, as if she were leading the Minotaur through the darkness, out of the Labyrinth. "Why do you cause me pain?" I asked her.

"The pain is within you.  You do it to yourself."

We sat in silence for a moment, she watching me, I unable to meet her gaze.  I moved my hand from beneath hers.

"I can't do this.  It's not healthy," I said finally.

"No.  You cannot."

"I meant that I can't talk about this stuff anymore."

"But perhaps you must do something about these feelings."

"Not today," I laughed, in a desperate sort of way, and repeated it.  "Not today."

"Not this night but some night you must come to terms with yourself."

"Yes, I suppose so."

I smiled at her, and she smiled back, a look that seemed both sad and hopeful.  For the first time, I imagined that I could see what she was thinking, but the moment passed, and she was as much a mystery to me as before.
"Who are you?" I asked.  "You must have a history."

"Why?  It is not important in any case."

I was puzzled.  All I knew about her was that she was a nurse, that she had helped me when I was hurt, that she lived in Paris and would be returning there soon.  And that for the moment at least she wanted to be with me.

"I brought something for you," she said.

"You've brought me too much already."

I watched her as she rose from the table, wearing my shirt.  Her dark hair shone in the light cast by the lamp next to the couch.  Her breasts moved beneath the shirt as she bent to pick up a book. 

"What have you there?"

"It's a book of names.  It tells of, how do you call it, surnames.  These are from Scotland and Ireland.  It has your name in it.  Look."  She handed him the book.  The page was marked.
I read aloud what it said:  "'Mac Glashan, Mac Glasain or Mac Glaisin.  Refers to the color grey or green.  Found mainly in Counties Antrim and Derry, this name is often changed to Green.'  The Green Man or the Gray-Green Man.  Mac means 'the son of' so I must be the son of the gray-green man."

"And your son, he would be that also?"

"Yes.  So that makes me the gray green man.  Whatever that means.  It makes sense in a way.  SomeGuardian I feel like half-baked bread, hard on the outside and raw on the inside."

"And your father?"

"I never thought of it that way.  I always thought of him as being crusty all the way through.  I never saw the soft part, except someGuardian when he was drunk.  When he wasn't violent, sometimes he would get sentimental.  It was disgusting."


"You are like him?"

"I hope not.  Why did you get this book for me?"

"We talked before about names.  I told you I would find out for you."

"You did say that.  I'm just surprised you remembered."

"You are interested in words, are you not?"

"That's one reason I'm a writer."

"And you write about things that interest you."

"Well, not always.  I write about things that will sell."

"Is that not a waste of time?"

"I have to make a living."

"Is it living then to write about what means nothing to you instead of about things that matter?"

"Life's a trade-off.  I'd rather be doing this than working for a newspaper, writing for deadlines every day.  Besides, I do get to write about stuff that interests me.  Like now, I'm working on an article about one of the biggest arms dealers in Europe who supplies weapons to all kinds of terrorists and lunatics.  He's got to be one of the biggest shits I've heard about in a long time."

"And do you want to know why he does this?"

"Well, yeah, that's part of it, I suppose, but mainly I just want to show what he's doing so people will know what's going on.  I want to expose the evil he's doing."

"I see.  And what then?"

"What do you mean?  That's it.  Except that showing what he's doing may help put him out of business.  That at least would be a kind of victory."

"For whom?  Who then would be victorious?"

"For the good guys.  I suppose I could put it more profoundly, but that's basically it."

"And you are one of the good."  She said it as a statement, but it felt like a question.

"Yeah, that's it.  I'm one of the good guys."

"I wonder what he is like, this man who sells arms?" she asked.

"He's just your basic asshole on a slightly larger scale.  I'm sorry.  I shouldn't talk that way.  But it makes me mad."

"It's all right.  I am not offended.  You know him then?"

"No.  I really don't know anything about him except what he's done." I knew she didn't understand.  I felt as if I had gotten myself on the wrong track again.  I had said what I meant, but the questions she asked made my answers come out all wrong so that somehow I didn't mean what I said.

"Vous êtes un homme dangereux."  She put her hand in my open palm and squeezed my fingers lightly.

"I don't think so.  You really think that?  I hope not.  It's him and those like him who are truly dangerous."

"I hope you are right.  I wish you well."  She held my hand more tightly, her little hand barely containing mine.  Then she let go.  "I am hungry,” she said.  “We will eat now."

"Yes.  Let's eat."

I made the steak, and we ate the salad while the steak cooked.  Things settled down between us as we ate the steak and the bread and finished the last of the wine.  After supper, I put water on the gas ring for coffee.

"You want coffee?" he asked her.

"No," she replied.  "I want to go to bed with you and make love and stay with you all night."

I awoke to the sound of pots clanging on the stove and cupboard doors banging.  Angelique was attempting breakfast.  I sat up in bed, turned, and planted my feet on the floor, feeling both the cool wood on my warm feet and last night's wine in my fogged head.
Angelique looked at me as I walked slowly toward her, belting my khakis.

"This coffee is foul, Jacques."  She pointed to a jar of instant coffee.  "And you have nothing to eat anywhere!  How do you live like this?  It's a crime!"  Her indignation fully expressed, she smiled at  me.  "You look terrible."

"Thanks a bunch.  I feel terrible."  I  laughed and ran a hand through my hair.
She wore my shirt again.  I gave her a big hug and kissed her on top of the head.  She wrapped her arms around my waist and looked up at me.

"You are a big hairy man," she said.  "I am going to dress, and I am going to go out, and I am going to buy some food for us."

After she left, I went through my usual ritual of pushups and situps, habit outweighing hangover.  I took a long shower, soaking my head under the spray until my mind cleared.  Then I got dressed.  There was a knock at the door.

"Zorn!  Hey man.  How are you?"

"Hi, Mac.  How's it going?"

"About half.  I drank some wine last night, and I feel like I busted my head again."
Just then Angelique walked in.  We both turned to look at the young woman in the purple dress.

"Zorn, this is. . ."

"Oh, hi, Angel.  How are you?"

"Hello, Thomas."  She smiled brightly at Zorn.

I think I must have looked puzzled.

"You two know each other?"

"Oh yeah.  For years," Zorn said laughing.


"Sure.  There are lots of things you don't know, Mac.  Angelique and I are old friends. 

How's your patient, beautiful?  I hear he's got a big headache today."

"I think he'll be fine if I can make him eat breakfast."

I looked from one to the other, uncomprehending.  They were both laughing at me.

Zorn said, "I met Angelique in the hospital while you were zonked out."

I joined in their laughter the best I could. I was not fond of surprises.
Somewhere Angelique had bought fresh croissants along with sweet butter, some English marmalade, and a pound of real coffee.  She resurrected an old drip coffee pot from my sorry collection of pots and pans.  We three sat around the table eating and talking and laughing.  After we had eaten and were drinking a last cup of coffee, Zorn announced some news.

"I found out some more stuff about Price, Mac.  Do you want to hear it?"

"Sure," Jack said and turned to Angelique.  "Price is the arms dealer I was telling you about."

"I got my computer hooked up to a modem, played with it for awhile, and there it was.  None of it's classified, so it wasn't hard to get.  Just biographical stuff."  Zorn consulted a printout and read aloud, "Edmund Colfax Price, born 1936, Morristown, N.J.  Father Presbyterian minister, Basking Ridge, N.J. until his death in 1951.  Mother homemaker.  One older sister, born 1930.  Educated at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts; B.A. in Economics, Yale University, 1958.  Commissioned Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 1958.  Army Language School, Monterey, California.  Language:  Russian.  Do you want to know his mother's maiden name?"

"Sure," I said.

"Merrill Neal Colfax, Smith '36, but did not graduate," Zorn concluded with pride.

"Amazing, Zorn."

"Not really.  I just got tired of reading newspapers and magazines about the guy.  There's lots of data out there on the net.  All you got to do is plug into it.  You can even get restricted data if you know how."

"Do you think you could get into Omni Arms computer files?" I asked.

"I don't know.  If I were Price or whoever, I'd have a pretty tough set of firewalls to lock out intruders.  It depends how and where he stores his data."

"It's a thought.  Let's keep it in mind."

Angelique had been listening attentively to all of this.  Now she asked me a question.  "Is Thomas going to help you with this, Jacques?"

"He says he is."


"Do you know what you are doing?" she asked.

"Maybe," Zorn said.

"It all seems quite meaningless to me," she observed.  "And very dangerous.  What will it prove if you are both murdered?"

Zorn replied, "You know, I was reading in the Bhagavad-Gita where Arjuna the warrior is perplexed because he doesn't want to fight.  He's not afraid.  He just doesn't want to be part of all the things that war causes.  Then Krishna descends and shows him that the killing and the dying are all illusion, that the coming battle is irrelevant.  And you expect him to tell Arjuna that it's okay to bag the whole deal and withdraw from the field.  Instead, Krishna says, 'Therefore, fight on.'  It's really strange.  It's as if, even though the whole thing is meaningless on a higher level, we have to follow the rules and live out our lives on the lower plane.  So, if going after Price is what's happening, I'm in."

"That is nonsense," Angelique replied.

"Yeah," Zorn said, "but right now it's the best I can do."

Angelique got up from the table and walked to the far end of the room.
I stared into my coffee cup and said, "I've always felt that if you could discover the truth, the real truth, you could, I don't know, just knowing would be enough.  I think sometimes of the lines from Tennyson's 'Ulysses':  'To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.'"

Angelique said from across the room, "How very masculine."

“Well, I’m a man,” I said.

"If it's good and evil you're looking for, you don't have to go after some arms dealer or terrorists or the Holy Grail," Zorn said.

"Yeah?  What are you trying to do, save my soul?"

"Maybe," Zorn laughed. 

"Or your life," Angelique said to me.  "You think you know what you do, but you do not.  You are too blind to yourself.  Your reasons are unknown to you.  You, Thomas," she went on, looking at Zorn.  "Perhaps you know why you follow him.  You seem to know something of yourself.  Can you not persuade him to stop this before it begins?"

"I know what I'm doing," I countered.  "It's just a story.  It's. . ."

"This is impossible," she interjected.

Zorn responded to her, "I've tried to tell him.  If he still wants to act out a morality play from inside his head, I can't stop him.  I can either go with him or leave him on his own.  Where I am right now, I think I'll go along with it."

"Why?" we both asked Zorn.

Angelique sat down again.  She appeared to be highly interested in Zorn's reply.

"You really want to hear it?  I'll tell you.  I'm not a brave man.  I've lived a safe life."  He turned to me.  "While you were in Vietnam, I was in college with a draft deferment.  When my number came up, my parents had braces put on my teeth so I would be declared unfit for service."

"You're kidding," I said, incredulous.  "Braces could get you out?"

"It's true," Zorn insisted.

Angelique looked at Zorn closely.  "It was a stupid war.  Everyone in France knew it.  My parents' generation had just been through the humiliation of Dien Bien Phu.  They tried to tell the Americans, but the Americans knew better.  There are other kinds of courage than this."

"That's the point," Zorn told her.  "I avoided it.  I didn't choose to join up and go.  I didn't choose to resist the draft and maybe end up in Canada.  I snuck away and avoided taking a stand.  It was part of a pattern.  The same situations crop up again and again in life.  It's a circle.  The opportunity to prove myself seems to have come around again.  It's my turn.  I can't withdraw from the field."

Zorn looked off into space, his right eye wide open, his left almost closed in a squint.

Angelique spoke finally, "You seem to know what you are saying, but what you say is so sad.  It is" she sought the word carefully "adolescent."

"Yes," Zorn agreed, "It is.  But we all have to start at the starting place.  So here I am."

I was perplexed by what Zorn and Angelique had said.  I prided myself on being able to see clearly and to articulate a picture of what I saw.  And Zorn's remark about acting out a morality play--what was I supposed to make of that? I became so lost in my own thoughts that for a moment I didn’t realize that Angelique was speaking to us both.

"I will go now," she said.  "If you boys grow up, and if you survive your adventure, perhaps we will meet again.  I wish you well.  Bonne chance."  With that, she crossed the room, went out the door, and was gone.

"Are you going after her?" Zorn asked, getting up.

"No," I answered.

"I think I will then, if you don't mind."

"No.  Go ahead, if you think you're up to it."