The other night at a bar, a friend asked me if I have spoken with Allen lately, it kind of took me off-guard. How could she know I was holding regular conversations with him, silent conversations while awake, verbal ones while asleep… whether he could hear them or not. But I never realized we might be overheard.
Actually, he happens to be here at this moment, looking over my shoulder… and I sometimes can’t stand when people look over my shoulder while I work. But for some reason, with Allen, I was the opposite of self-conscious.
But I haven’t seen him lately. I don’t want to get into a whole story… but his life was taken away from us when innocence and ceaseless, urgent curiosity led him into a cult, from which he never returned.
This was in the mid-1990s. He had wandered off, just as he always had. I always knew he would return form Colorado, or Wyoming, or Oklahoma, or Mississippi or one of the Dakotas… I just knew for a fact he would return and still am convinced, and I have been convinced probably for 17 years now.
Ever since he sent me that postcard from Wyoming letting me know he had retired from life, and that he highly recommended it.
But I just assumed this was some sort of code I could not encrypt. Whether he wandered off to live among Pygmies in Africa or helping his dad out in Naperville, driving cross country, in this country or that, driving off in his cab, he would just up and go, and it might take months before anyone heard from him because he always always returned as mysteriously as when he left. It was the unspoken pact he made with those of us in his circle, whether we knew we were in his circle or not (it took me quite a while to realize I was in his circle).
In the corner of the postcard, he scrawled down his phone number. I read it as an invitation to contact him, and I tried to contact me him, but wasn’t that surprised to find it was not in service. That was the norm, because who paid phone bills in those days?
I wish you could meet him… I have the feeling you’d hit it off quite well. Call it an instinct. I think you would enjoy each other. I think you might even enjoy his rooftop parties on the rooftop overlooking Maxwell Street where we danced on chairs, drank beer and barbequed things.