“How was your writing class tonight, sweetheart?” asked my adoring boyfriend Dana, as we drove from L.A. to our home in the desert. “It was really interesting,” I said. “How so?” He asked. “Well, at first I was upset that we had to write from a journal in class and then read it out loud, but it turned out that stuff came up.” “What kind of stuff?” asked Dana. “Oh, I ended up writing about Chris, you know, my friend Cristina’s boyfriend. He is just soooooo fascinating!” “What? You’re kidding me, right? You’re fucking kidding me.” “No. I’m not. Cristina had told me about him and she mentioned he had been in the Mongols motorcycle gang. I guess at one point he had actually pummeled the leader of the gang and he had been worried about the repercussions, but then he faced everyone in the gang head on and it turned out he had won the respect of every single member. I just pictured this terrifyingly mean, enormous man walking into class, spitting into a trashcan on his way in, wearing a thick motorcycle jacket and boots, with a daunting goatee and a tattoo on the back of his shaved skull that said “fuck you.” I imagined him intimidating all of us frail wimpy writers who thought they had some kind of life experience. He would cut right through our sheltered facade and expose us for the frauds that we were. I mean, the mongols motto says “Respect few, fear none” so I was sort of petrified, wondering what gaining his respect would entail. He walks into class and my expectations were blown to smithereens. On the physical level alone and then the invisible level. He was thin, with blonde hair, and wore a backwards baseball cap, a flannel shirt and glasses. He told everyone they could call him C.C. and he was shockingly open and connected. He told us about himself and the hard life he has had but that he is guided now by forces within and without to tell his story. He grasped ferociously at external events and internal revelations. I was blown away by his honesty and vulnerability. The whole class was, not just me. I was sobbing and our instructor felt the same way. Our teacher was practically choking back tears and said he’d been teaching this class for 40 years and couldn’t believe he still had so much to learn, and that CC should be teaching the class instead of him.”
“Wait. So you’re telling me you wrote about Chris and then you read out loud to your entire class, including Chris, about your little infatuation with him? Are you fucking kidding me?” “Yes. I did. He affected me so I wrote about him,” I said. “Ohhh OK, Tracey, how would you feel if I said ‘oh I was in class with Colleen tonight and she was just so fascinating so of course I wrote about her. And then I read it to her and the entire class.” “You are really dating yourself,” I said. “No one is named Colleen anymore. Where did you get that name? It sounds like a third grade crush from 1955. And what about that southern belle you were inviting over last week to play music with you? How could you not fall for that Southern charm! ‘Oh we only had three channels on our TV growing up and my daddy had to move those little old rabbit ears around to get them.’ You know how cute that is. Don’t pretend you weren’t smitten.“ “No Tracey, I wasn’t smitten. I saw right through that hillbilly.” “Well anyway, I don’t have a crush on CC, OK? He’s just led this fascinating life and I want to write about it.” “What??? You want to continue to write about CC? Fuck that shit!!!” “Dana, after class he told me the most flabbergasting story. So when he was in the Mongols he was involved with the Mexican cartel and he was responsible for the biggest drug trade ever made in the history of the United States. CC made the deal!” “Stop calling him CC!!!!” Dana screamed. “What if I started calling you TK from now on? You’re embarrassing yourself.” “Whatever, that’s what he told us to call him. So he did the deal and he made millions of dollars and he had to just shove the money in bags and give it away because he couldn’t get caught with it. He just gave it away to the homeless! And then one day he was riding his motorcycle on the freeway in Los Angeles and he was hit by a car and dragged like a fourth of a mile. He almost bled to death. He was rushed to Cedars Hospital and he fell into a coma. When he came out they wanted to amputate his leg. He got up and just walked out the door onto the street. And there he met this seemingly random stranger who says ‘Christopher, I know who you are. You almost died, didn’t you? But the angel of death must like you. You are to come with me. I am here to take you to one of the greatest Shaman on earth and he will heal you. You will learn from his teachings and then you will become a Shaman yourself.’ So they went to like Africa or Nepal or something and the stranger gave CC $5000, and they traveled around the world together, meeting Shamans, Monks, and medicine men. CC learned everything from them and then he became a Shaman himself. A healer! Oh and his dad was this serious Irish gangster who had his head decapitated when CC was just two years old. And then his step dad was an Italian gangster who knew the Gambino family. Can you imagine the story this would be? It would make Breaking Bad look like Sesame Street. And all true! He said Lawrence Bender offered him $100,000 for his story but CC said no, I guess because he wants to write it himself.” “Bullfucking shit,” said my eloquent boyfriend. “Oh yeah right, he was offered $100,000 and even though he had no money he just refuses it.“ “Yes Dana, it’s called integrity.” “What a fucking lie!” “No it’s not!!!!” I spat out. “Look at Rocky! Sylvester Stallone was offered that and he said no, he wanted to do it himself.” “That’s because Sylvester Stallone had written the script! CC hasn’t written jack shit! Anyway that Rocky story was bullshit publicity to show how the underdog prevails. It never happened.” There was a pause. I softly added, “Oh, he went to Rikers Island for murder and he was supposed to get a life sentence but he got out. I don’t think he did it. And when he was younger he modeled for Tom Ford and was fearured in magazines in Paris. All these articles were written about him. That’s real, Cristina showed me. Oh and his uncle was responsible for branding Apple with Steve Jobs. Apparently his extended family is super rich.” “Fuck you. This is the oldest jail house con in the book and you and your writing class fell for it. People you meet for the first time don’t just lay out their deepest darkest secrets unless there’s a reason. The reason is to hook you in because he wants something.” “Oh come on Dana, what would he want from our writing instructor, an innocent well intentioned man who writes poetry?” “You’d be surprised,” said Dana. You write about CC and it’s over with us. We are done.”
Dana and I had been together 22 years, practically my entire adult life. And now Dana was telling me that it could all end from this random writing class my therapist suggested I take? Not even a real writing class, a “prequel” it was called, to some real writing class. Like this top-secret information would be bestowed upon us if we signed up for the next level, sort of like going clear in Scientology. It takes time and money. Well I would not kowtow to Dana’s irrational fears. Maybe it was some cosmic truth that any important development in life requires a sacrifice. I had just been reading about this famous witch born in England named Sybil Leek, from Annie Jacobson‘s amazing non fiction book Phenonema. Sybil had been hired by the British intelligence during World War II to give phony astrology charts for Nazis who believed in the supernatural. Sybil had given a reading to Hitler’s second in command, Rudolph Hess, and tricked Hess into flying an airplane right into the palm of the enemy, simply by revealing that on the auspicious day of May 10, 1941, six planets would be perfectly aligned in Taurus. He fell for it, was caught, captured, and sent to prison for life. After that embarrassing incident, Hitler was furious (when wasn’t he?) and ordered all mystical esoteric texts in Germany to be burned. Many astrologers and psychics were round up and killed. In Sybil Leek’s autobiography she tells the story of how her grandmother in England had taught Sybil the tricks of the trade. One time when this witch was young and deathly ill, her grandmother came into her bedroom one night and asked Sybil that if she had to choose, would she prefer herself, Sybil, to live, or her favorite pet owl. Sybil couldn’t decide. She adored this owl. Her grandmother made the decision for her and said that the owl would be sacrificed so that Sybil may live. The next day the owl was gone and Sybil was completely recovered.
As Dana and I drove down the pitch black highway in silence, I wondered if perhaps, I could take out an owl with the 6 shooter Dana had just purchased for me from Bear Arms, a gun store in Yucca Valley that had real deer, bear heads, and Trump stickers on the wall. There was an owl who had been right outside our window for a while now, and maybe that little hooter was my ticket. This would be the sacrifice required to begin writing the story with CC. I would slip out of the house at 3 AM, the hour of the wolf, and shoot that owl right between the eyes, throw the dead carcass in some neighbor’s trashcan and wake up the next morning with Dana sweetly whispering in my ear that he had been a fool and of course I should write with CC. Apparently I had uttered this fantasy in audible tones because Dana told me that it was illegal to shoot an owl and it was more like I would wake up on a steel cot in a federal penitentiary.
One thing I had not uttered out loud, was that after class, CC had said to me, “So, do you want to be my writing partner and tell this story with me? You’ll have to be able to handle all that comes with it and you can’t let it change you. There will be money and there will be fame and you will probably lose people in your life.” In my 20’s I had really wanted to be famous and I was pretty much 100% sure it was going to happen, so this meeting just seemed to make sense. It would all unfold just later than I had anticipated but nature has its own schedule, and now that I didn’t care it seemed like perfect timing. We looked into each other‘s eyes like cowboys do. I said “Of course I want to write this with you.” He raised his hand towards mine and we shook on it. “I’ll be in touch,” he said, with a drag from his cigarette. I walked away coughing, and thought this was the biggest fish I had ever caught. Like a Russian beluga sturgeon fish, known for the most prized and rare caviar eggs it produces. An endangered species. Could I throw this mail order Russian sturgeon fish back in? Hell no. CC had taken us down to the river and I had put my hand in and felt life. Maybe it was all true and maybe it wasn’t. Did it matter? Like the I Ching, or the Bible, it’s all in the interpretation. And what it stirs in the soul.