Red was dreaming again, he had fallen asleep in front of the altar after all, but slept fitfully--all the ice cream, hormones, guilt, and smoke were doing a number on him. Smoke? He looked up and saw it on the ceiling. He ran down the stairs, into the kitchen. Lena was on the floor, smoke was everywhere. 'My god!,' he thought. 'I've killed her! She's so sweet and pure, really, it must have been her guilt and remorse from what we did last night. It was really me who tempted her, not the other way around!' He ran to the phone and dialed 911. When the operator answered, he slammed the receiver back down and yelled, 'Fuck!' It would look bad for Maharaji if he got the police involved, and besides, who would pay for the emergency room if she was still alive? He thought of getting the community coordinator, but didn't want to disturb the morning meditation.
Suddenly, his pulse slowed. He realized that smoke was still billowing from the pan, poured a cup of water into it, then knelt beside Lena. He put his ear to her mouth, but couldn't hear if she was breathing, the pan was sizzling so loud. Then he realized--he could feel her breath. On his ear. Just like last night. She was okay. Holy mother, uh, wife, of god, she was okay! He felt a little dizzy and like he was floating and everything seemed muffled and soft at the edges like it was wrapped in cotton, but there was still something sharp inside him, something hot, anger. Hatred, really.
This hatred, this red hot burning, worse than any tofu accident. He realized it had been in there, a long time coming, to the surface. He watched her face for a while. Remembering in detail the night before. How they had smiled over bowls of ice cream
How she had moved, that cotton , what? Dress? Gown? Indian cotton thing. So loose and flowing yet clinging in the right places.
He hated her for having a beautiful body. He hated himself for wanting her. As much now as he did last night.
He started to lift her from the floor. She stirred. 'What? What are you doing? What happened to me?'
He cradled her in his arms. Explained how he had found her, and the tofu. She panicked. Looked wildly around the kitchen. He assured her the tofu was not burning any longer and that no one had noticed.
Or so he thought.
She asked him to carry her to her bedroom. Though normally shared with 2 other sisters, this morning it was empty.
The raging inside him would no stop. He placed her gently on the bed, turned. She said, softly 'Please don't leave'. He locked the door. Came back to the bed..The conflicting emotions burning in him, were echoed in the look in her eyes.
'What are we going to do, Red', Lena asked him. She was crying, but was so tired that her eyes started to close again. 'We broke our vows'. 'We', Red thought, 'That was the first time she had said 'we' to him. But who were WE and, more importantly, who was THEM?' His head started to spin. 'I am really in my mind' he thought 'Gotta remember holy name.' He tried to breathe and feel that vibration deep within him, but when he looked at the picture of Maharaji beside Lena's bed, he felt nothing.
Lena had fallen asleep again. Red laid down beside her and thought 'I'm just going to close my eyes for a minute' and began to fall asleep. The last thing he remembered was putting his arms around her. 'She feels really real', he thought.
Outside the door, Barney was listening carefully. Then he knocked softly. Red woke up suddenly and shook Lena gently. She wouldn't wake up. Oh fuck it, he thought, and went to the door and opened it. He saw Barney leering at him. 'What is it, Barney?', he asked, although he already knew what Barney was going to say.
'I told the community coordinator what I saw last night', Barney said triumphantly. 'He was already mad at Lena for not getting breakfast ready on time, and for leaving that pile of laundry in front of the altar. Now he's really angry. You're going to Boston, and they're going to send Lena to San Antonio.'
'Oh shit', Red thought, 'Boston - that's where David Smith is the coordinator! I'll never be able to handle that. And San Antonio! That's where they send all the premies who don't fit in anywhere else! And that guy JW is the community coordinator! Oh my god! What're we gonna do!' Suddenly he turned away from Barney, knelt down, and kissed Lena. 'Goodbye, Lena.' he said, 'I'm outta here.' He didn't even know if she'd heard him or not.
He pushed past Barney, and ran up the stairs to his bedroom. No one else was in the room yet, and it was still pretty dark outside. He rummaged around in the closet and found his jacket, opened the window, threw it out, and then carefully tossed his baragon and guitar on top of it. Then he climbed out of the second story window, hung on the ledge for a minute, and dropped to the ground. He was out!
Red quickly put on his jacket, picked up his baragon and guitar and ran out of the yard and down the street. He was still woozy as hell, and his ankles hurt from jumping out the window. Jeez, where am I gonna go?, he thought. The fog was thick and he couldn't see half a block in front of him. He kept running until finally he reached an intersection with a traffic light. On one corner there was a Baskin Robbins (Jamocha Almond Fudge! he thought with a heartsick pang), and on the other corner there was a diner. There was an ancient Sedan Delivery parked outside the diner, and a tall thin man with a long ponytail was just coming out the door with a cup of coffee. Red slowed down and tried to catch his breath.
'Can you give me a ride?' he asked the thin man, 'To wherever you're going?'. The guy looked Red up and down.
'Sheesh! I guess so,' the thin man said, 'How far do you want to go?'
'I don't care,' Red said. Then he realized that sounded crazy. 'Uh, where are YOU going?' he asked.
'Sheesh, man, I'm going to Seattle,' the thin man said, 'Where are YOU going?'
'Seattle sounds great,' Red said. 'Anywhere but Boston.'
The thin man sighed. 'Sheesh! OK, get in the car.'
Red got in the passenger's side and put his guitar and baragon in the back. There wasn't much room, but he managed to fit them in. He sat down and reached into his jacket pocket and found a handful of bills. Oh, yeah, he thought guiltily, that's the money I collected the other month from selling subscriptions to 'And Is Divine'. I forgot to turn it in. But I really need it now, and those people will never get that magazine now that it's stopped publishing. 'I can share expenses', he said to the thin man, who had started the car and was lighting a cigarette.
'Good,' the thin man said as they pulled away from the curb. Then he turned and looked at Red. 'Nice baragon you got there.'
'What??' Red started to say, then stopped. I can't take this anymore, he thought, it is just too weird. I'll deal with it later. 'Uh, yeah, thanks.' he said finally, 'Hey, can I bum a cigarette off of you?'