i’m sitting in lp’s office. i can hear my heart pounding in my inner ear. i can’t wait but i must. twenty minutes go by. i hear the loud ticking of the clock on the wall.
i’m sitting on a hard wooden antique bench in the outer office taking in the office. there are three desks and one secretary. she types. the walls are covered to the ceiling with giant undersea maps of the whole globe. i find the mindanao depths and the marianas trench.
i had a dream and in that dream the night before. i was meeting lp. he was a stubby white haired man behind a twelve by four foot desk with a green glass desk lamp.
i began to reflect on my life. my brother, jamaica, jails in new york, los angeles, florida, chicago and mexico (twice) contrasted with my fleeting fame as a child prodigy artist. contrast with the vast numbers of books crammed into my crazy skull. i didn’t believe in god or fate.
and my life had become a scrambled mess.
physically, i was a wreck with weeping sores on my palms and painful infections.
but i was elated. grabbing the bull of life by the horns i was willing to do anything to gain the grace of self control. i thought it would be easy. in a few years, i would be in the other river with the masters of life; men who could determine their own fate. i had been buffeted by life long enough. i was twenty-three. i had a small room a few blocks from grand central station on the fifth floor of a dilapidated brownstone. every day i walked to the art students league on 57th st. and sketched for three hours in the life drawing class.
l.p. was a tall thin man, somewhat gaunt with gangling arms. he reminded me of abraham lincoln, without the beard. he was clean shaven with bushy eyebrows and big teeth; the structure of a pictish englishman, descendant of the earliest fishermen picts of the british isles. he shook my hand, offered me a seat, and instead of sitting behind his desk, sat facing me about three feet away. he made starting easy by saying, “well… tell me something about yourself. i know nothing about you.”
i talked for twenty minutes. it was an uncontrolled blurting of personal history which ended in
tears. then for a few minutes we were both silent and i watched his face change into an indescribable passivity. then it seemed as if light was coming from behind him as if a yellow candlelight was blocked by his body.
then he kind of smiled indulgently and said something about losing a wife and children can be a very hard experience to overcome.
then he said, “when you go home, go to your drawer or wherever you keep your marijuana and flush it down the toilet.”
“i don’t have any at home.” i said.
“now, don’t lie. this is very important.” he was suddenly very stern.
i reached into my pocket and pulled out the tiny manila ‘nickle bag’ of pot. “i have it right here.”
l.p. held out his hand… “well, just give it to me, then.” then he gave me instructions on sitting in the morning before doing anything else.
he walked me out and told the secretary to make an appointment for me the following week. i walked home in a daze.