Bob Lorentson

The Carousel of Beliefs

Thomas woke with a start and sat up, shaking the nightmare out of his head as he did. His parent’s house was still burning, but this time Cherry’s face was grinning at him from the flames. He realized then that until now, the fire had taken his mind off her and her puzzling declaration that she didn’t believe in love. How could that be, they were so compatible in every way, both searching desperately for answers. For truth. For identity. They could help each other. He was as sure of that as he was of, well, nothing. There wasn’t a damn thing he was sure of when you came right down to it. Except the fire. That had to be real. He had felt the heat. But love?

The early morning gloom of the homeless shelter saw everyone asleep, except for his parents. They both lay there, still with their eyes open, staring. At least they weren’t criticizing him for once. But Rufous was right. This was no place for them. He ran a great shelter, but they needed professional help. He would take them to the place Rufous had suggested.

As for him, what to do now? Cherry was gone, their weird relationship apparently in ashes. Chief cook, bottle washer and street shrink Rufous the Wise had told him what he needed most was to get back on the horse and believe in something, anything. That it wasn’t hard, he just had to pick something out and give it a ride. And if that one didn’t work out, well, there were always more rides spinning his way. One was sure to be his speed. That Rufous. Like the world was some kind of crazy Carousel of Beliefs. Apparently Rufous didn’t understand that he never could ride a horse very well. Every belief came loaded with traps and contradictions, didn’t it? Look what happened when he tried that with Cherry. And with home.

After breakfast, Thomas took the directions from Rufous and led his parents the several blocks to the Shady Glen Refuge for Unsettled Spirits. A two story yellow brick house stood inside an eight foot chain link fence. A sign outside promised ‘Quality Psychic Care. We Mind Your Mind’.

Thomas helped his parents through the door, then turned around, startled to find a large woman in his face.

“You must be Thomas,” the woman said, thrusting her hand out and causing Thomas to step back quickly to avoid getting jabbed in the stomach. “And Mr. and Mrs. Doubt. Welcome to Shady Glen. Rufous called and told me that you were on your way here, and a bit about your circumstances. Tragic. Just tragic. Well, my name is Calliope Pennyworth, and I’m certain we can help you Thomas. Why don’t you make your parents comfortable here in our lounge, and then come with me into our office.”

Thomas was stunned. He couldn’t process this woman’s words at first, being completely astounded by her appearance. She had the largest head he had ever seen on a person, man or woman. But even aside from that, her facial features gave her an uncanny resemblance to a horse. He blinked hard and heard her say her name. At least she didn’t whinny, he thought.

“Calliope,” he said, silently scolding himself to stop staring. “I came here to get help for my parents, not for me.”

“Yes yes, of course Thomas. But theirs is a classic case of PTSD, not much anyone can do about it except to keep them calm and away from the sort of stimulus that triggered the problem. Fire, I understand. With your permission, I’d like to send them to a place where I know they’ll get the support they need. We’ll talk about that later. No, it’s you that interests me Thomas. Come on into my office. Candy,” she called out to a nurse that had just entered, “Would you come in with us please.”

Thomas sat his parents down in well-worn institutional chairs and started to follow Calliope when a bald headed man in a bath robe stepped in front of him.

“There’s no God you know,” the man said matter-of-factly.

“No, I’m sorry. I don’t know,” replied Thomas. “How do you know?”

“Cause the Buddha told me. God is all in our minds, he said, as clear as that sweet music somebody’s playing. They won’t let me talk to him again though. They won’t let me have any more ….”

“That’s very interesting,” Thomas interrupted, not hearing any music but catching sight of Nurse Candy waiting for him with a dimpled smile, a smile he took to be clearly flirtatious. “But right now I’m thinking there must be a God. How else would you explain that?” He brushed past the man and followed the pretty nurse to Calliope’s office, unable to take his eyes off her rhythmically swaying derriere, wrapped so tightly in a short nurse’s uniform, or the legs that just kept going and ….

“Most of the time their minds are perfectly fine,” Calliope said as Thomas entered, misreading his thoughts. “Have a seat please. Nothing that a little professional head shrinking can’t fix. The mind can be a confusing place to navigate sometimes, lots of blind alleys or dark cul-de-sacs to get stuck in, low overpasses to bang against, cliffs to fall off. We here at Shady Glen believe that getting lost in the byways of one’s mind is a dangerous thing. So our aim is to nudge the patient back onto the main thoroughfare, where they can feel comfortable again in the normal flow of their thoughts.”

“Ms. Pennyworth,” said Candy sheepishly. “I thought it was the flow of normal thoughts we were hoping for.”

Calliope Pennyworth smiled weakly. “Excuse me Thomas. Candy, we never say normal in relation to a patient’s mental state. Nobody can say what a normal thought is.

As I was saying Thomas, from time to time we can all sense that our thoughts have lost some traction, or drifted over the center divide if we’ve taken our minds off the road too long, or even hit the bumpy patch at the edge of the abyss.”

“Excuse me, Ms. Pennyworth,” interrupted Candy. “Why is the center divide a problem again?”

“I’m sorry Thomas. Candy, we’ve been over this a hundred times. The center divide is a metaphorical psychiatric construct that divides the direction of a patient’s primary thoughts from those lesser ones travelling in the opposite direction. We want to make sure those thoughts pass by harmlessly and we avoid a head on collision. Those can be very difficult to untangle, depending on how many thoughts were involved.”

“Calliope, now I’m confused,” said Thomas. “Are you saying that it’s not normal to have contradictory thoughts running through your head at the same time? Because that seems pretty normal for my head.”

“Thomas,” scolded Calliope gently. “We don’t say normal, remember? But yes, contradictory thoughts ARE a problem. How would a person ever come to believe anything? It’s our beliefs that make us who we are, and show us the way. So the stronger the contradictory thoughts, the weaker the person’s identity. That’s the very thing that has me so interested in your case. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a weaker aura. Have you Candy?”

“What about Mr. Moreau?” offered Candy. “He just sits there drooling all day.”

“Mr. Moreau understands his limitations Candy. That’s something we should all strive to be better at.”

“Yes but he wasn’t like that before you gave him the ….”

“Candy! That’s enough. Apparently you and I need to have that talk again about understanding one’s own limitations.”

“I’m not a case, Ms. Pennyworth,” said Thomas. “Are you saying that in order for me to figure out who I am, I have to believe something? Because every time I feel like I might be close to believing something, a contradictory idea comes up and squashes it. So does that mean I’m doomed to never know who I am?”

“No Thomas. Remember what I said about the center divide. You just need to be vigilant about keeping those contrary ideas out of your road. That’s where I can help. Of course it’s not easy, and it does take some time. Or, if you’re game, we can take a shortcut.”

Thomas saw Candy shoot her boss a look that he took to be one of horror, but as he was curious, he scaled it back to one of surprise. “A shortcut, Calliope? What kind of shortcut are you talking about?”

“Ayahuasca,” said Calliope. “Nature’s key to unlocking the truth.”

“Is that some sort of New Age psychiatric mumbo jumbo?” asked Thomas.

“Not even close Thomas. Ayahuasca is a powerful psychoactive drug from Nature’s own medicine chest that natives in the amazon jungle take to illuminate the essential truth of their beings, to bring forth a Holistic Remembering of Who They Really Are, and their Divine Purpose on Earth. But you have to be willing to look under the hood, so to speak.”

“Wow, that sounds pretty intense,” said Thomas, “even if I don’t understand what you’re talking about. And all that from this ayahuasca stuff? I’m not gonna freak out or anything if I take it, am I? What can I really expect?”

“The discovery of nothing less than the universe Thomas, and nothing more than your true self. And don’t worry. I’ve trained to be a Shaman with a bunch of cool Indian cats from the Zaparo tribe in Peru, and have taken many excursions to the otherworldly realms of the mind myself. It’s quite trippy. I myself have discovered that I was once an Inca Goddess with many thousands worshipping at my feet, and that it is my divine purpose to regain my throne. So are you game?”

“Well, what have I got to lose, except my mind. Right Candy?” said Thomas, looking over at the pretty nurse. She was staring at him with a deep look of worry etched on her face, but which on second thought, he decided was really probably one of admiration.

“Great. Let’s go on upstairs to the Trip Room as I call it, and we’ll begin. You come too Candy.”

The Trip Room was thickly carpeted in jungle green plushness, with brown sofas and easy chairs butted up against neutral beige walls along the perimeter, a bucket beside each. The dark blue ceiling however was like a gateway to the heavens, the Milky Way galaxy a giant swirling saucer of stars. In the center of the room was a short table.

“Candy, you know the drill,” said Calliope. “Thomas, I’d like you to sit with me while I prepare the brew. After you partake, please feel free to sit or lie anywhere you like.” She gathered some pieces of leaves and vine from several canisters in a cubby of the table, put them into a cup and began macerating them. Candy brought over a kettle of boiling water, poured it into the cup, and winked at Thomas while mouthing a silent “NO”.

She really likes me, he thought, feeling braver.

“Alright Thomas,” said Calliope, “drink this down and make yourself comfortable. Your Voyage of Discovery is about to begin.”

Thomas sipped the thick pungent brew, not tasting nearly as bad as it looked, then downed the whole cup. “What happens now?” he asked.

“Now you wait. At some point, you might feel a bit of stomach discomfort. That’s what the buckets are for. Other than that, relax and enjoy your trip. Many people find that lying down and looking at the ceiling is a good way to start.”

Thomas lay down and stared at the Milky Way. Minutes ticked by, one as boring as the next. Maybe if I count the stars, he thought.

Somewhere around the ninety fourth star they began to move, circling slowly. Then he was among them, awestruck, a lonely witness to a spiraling merry-go-round of stars, each one both near and far at the same time, impossible to comprehend. Scale meant nothing. There was no scale, just space, emptiness through which the galaxy spun through the universe, emptiness through which each star spun its lonely trajectory through the galaxy, enough emptiness to fill his soul. If he had a soul. He thought of Cherry and began to cry.

“Why are you crying?” a serene, understanding voice asked from somewhere. Thomas searched for the source and saw an arm of the galaxy revolving towards him. Among the stars he could just make out a hazy form, growing larger the closer it got. It was the Buddha, orange robe billowing, eyes like mirrors reflecting his own confused visage.

“I’ve lost my way,” said Thomas, wiping his eyes.

“Have you tried looking into your soul first?” questioned the Buddha.

“No sir. I don’t even know the way to my soul,” replied Thomas.

“There’s your first problem. Name please.”

“Thomas Doubt.”

“Let me check my inventory. OK, Lost Minds, Lost Souls, plenty of Lost Baggage – you’d be amazed how often baggage is left behind, only to be reclaimed at a later time. Ah, here it is. Lost Ways. And yes, Thomas Doubt, right there in the log. So it’s around here somewhere. Remember Thomas, you’ll find your way as long as you believe in me.”

“That’s a little on the vague side, isn’t it?” replied Thomas.

“Alright. Believe in me and the Doors of Enlightenment will open to you. How’s that?”

“Well, I mean, I like the sound of these Doors of Enlightenment and all, but sorry, I still don’t get it.”

“Thomas, look at me and tell me what you see.”

Thomas looked into the Buddha’s mirrored eyes. “I see myself.”

“Do you? And who are you?”

“I – I don’t know,” stuttered Thomas.

“You need to look deeper then Thomas. You have to look into your soul.”

“But I just told you. I don’t know where my soul is.”

The Buddha shrugged his weary shoulders and was gone, carried along by the revolving arm that snaked away into the emptiness, the stars a billion disciples that trailed after him like mosquitos around a lost explorer.

Thomas watched the Buddha fade away and wished more than anything that he could follow, but found that he was unable to move.

“Forget that imposter Thomas. I am The Way you seek,” commanded a righteous voice behind him.

Thomas turned and saw another arm of the galaxy almost upon him, a large figure in a lucha libre mask materializing out of the stars, a red cape with a large green letter G in the center fluttering out from his back. He had no eyes, just holes through which Thomas could see the universe extending into infinity. “Are you G-G-G-God” he managed.

“No, I’m his brother, Garth,” the voice replied, before breaking into a wide grin. Of course Thomas. Now listen closely, we don’t have much time. Your soul ….”

“But don’t you command time?” interrupted Thomas. “Are you saying we’re almost out of it?”

“No that’s not what I’m saying Thomas. Time is a difficult concept to understand. I don’t think we should get into that right now. First you need to believe in me. Your soul ….”

“Are you saying that you can’t explain time?” persisted Thomas. “You’re the one that brought it up. I think you owe me an explanation at least. I’d really hate to run out of time. I’ve left a lot of my life unfinished back there. Cherry for instance. She ….”

“Oh for God’s sake Thomas,” snapped God, storm clouds raging in his eye holes. “Alright, so I can’t explain time. What of it?” The storm clouds abated. “Now let’s please turn our attention to where I can help. Your soul Thomas. Believe me, it’s in jeopardy. What you need to do ….”

“Is my soul almost out of time then?” interrupted Thomas again.

“WILL YOU FORGET ABOUT FREAKIN TIME?” shouted God. This isn’t how it’s supposed to go. I command, you obey, got it? Now ….”

Thomas could barely hear, God’s words disappearing into the emptiness as the galaxy spun him onward. He watched him go, not liking his dictatorial tone.

“Ignore that wacko,” appealed an oily voice behind him. Thomas turned and saw yet another arm of the galaxy spinning his way, a red figure with horns, a tail, and a pitchfork leading the star parade. It was his business professor, Mr. Stipple, staring at him with eyes like gold coins.

“Have I got a deal for you Thomas,” said Professor Stipple. “Give me your soul and I’ll give you Cherry. Whadaya say? All you have to do is put your faith in me and believe that Money is the One True Way.”

“Is this a test Professor Stipple?” panicked Thomas. “I never studied. I can’t risk losing Cherry again. What if I fail?”

“Don’t worry Thomas. I’m an easy grader. Everyone passes who believes. Now, about your soul ….”

“If you can find it, take it,” replied Thomas. But I don’t want money, I just want Cherry.”

“I’m sorry Thomas. Money is part of the deal. Hell, it’s the whole deal. Your soul is useless to me without it. Bye Thomas. You failed the test.” Maniacal laughter poured from his mouth as he spiraled away, amidst some of the brightest stars Thomas had ever seen.

The laughter subsided and left him alone. Again he looked behind and was stunned to see countless more arms of the galaxy revolving towards him, ready to show him the way. A dizzying sensation washed over him at that moment, and God, the Buddha, Professor Stipple, and the rest of the galaxy began to swirl faster, faster, like an enormous carousel with a maniac at the throttle, pushing it ever faster and laughing at the riders struggling to hang on. He felt sick, opened his mouth for air, and before he could stop it, the whole galaxy spiraled inside. The taste was horrible, unpalatable even, but he had no choice. He swallowed. His stomach had never felt so uncomfortable. Suddenly he just felt that it was all more than he could handle. He grabbed a bucket and threw it all back up, God, the Buddha, Professor Stipple, the galaxy, everything. It all spewed out in a partially digested, foul smelling stream of unrecognizable dross that seemed like it would never end.

He lay back exhausted, feeling someone wiping his brow and his chin, and opened his eyes. Through the haze he saw a large horse face watching over him. “Was that the Carousel of Beliefs?” he heard himself ask. “Is my ride over?”

“No Thomas,” said the horse. “You haven’t found your way yet. You need to let go of the reins and believe.”

Thomas closed his eyes again in resignation, and found himself on a lonely dirt road beside an endless meadow lying wide open to the sky. A great gathering of worlds rustled in the tall grass, tiny, teeming worlds, so tiny they were like the sighing of the breeze that carried their dreams away. He strained to listen, amazed at the miracles he knew to be there, hidden, each one needing a lifetime to understand.

The road looked the same in both directions. With detached concern, he wondered which way he should go, or even if he should go. A horse that he had somehow never noticed before stopped grazing and picked up its head to look at him.

The horse walked over to him and spoke. “Hop on Thomas. We need to ride,” it said with some urgency.

“But I kind of like it right here,” Thomas replied. “Why can’t I stay?”

“You do want to find out who you are and what your purpose is, don’t you?”

“Yes, but I have a feeling I can find that out right here. There’s life and mystery all around me.”

“Nonsense Thomas. You won’t find any answers just standing there,” the horse said. “You need to kick up a little dust. Feel the wind in your face. Let’s go.” The horse stamped its foot impatiently.

“Hold your horses,” countered Thomas, before noticing the horse’s apparent distaste for that expression. “I mean, wait a minute. You’re not saying that all we are is dust in the wind, are you?”

“No Thomas, get serious please. I’m saying that the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.”

“OK then. That sounds much better. Which way do we go?”

“It doesn’t matter,” replied the horse. “Pick a direction if you like.”

Thomas chose east and climbed on. Without a word, the horse galloped off. He settled in to watch the countryside pass by. Sunset came and still they rode. Then sunrise, and sunset again. It began to rain. Many sunrises later, it snowed. He lost track of the seasons and the years. “Are we close yet?” he asked for the thousandth time.

“Almost Thomas,” came the reply each time. “Be patient.”

“But we’ve ridden for years,” complained Thomas finally. “And I haven’t learned anything new.”

“It’s just over the next hill, I can feel it. I don’t know what it is, but I can feel it.”

The next hill was approaching. Upward they rode, Thomas beginning to feel all tingly with the excitement and anticipation of a momentous discovery. At last they reached the summit. And came to a jarring stop that nearly sent him head over heels.

“Well I can’t say I was expecting THAT,” said the horse, looking down into the valley. “But each person’s ride is unique they tell me. What do I know? I’m just a horse. Eat grass and die. And you humans think you got stuff to complain about.”

Thomas looked down on a strange sight indeed. An enormous merry-go-round filled the plain below, gaily painted plastic horses slowly bobbing up and down and circling around and around, sprightly carnival music blaring out from beneath the red, yellow and blue striped canopy. The ride stopped and the passengers exited.

From the hilltop Thomas watched the operator collecting tickets for the next ride. “A merry-go-round?” he asked incredulously. “This is my destination? A merry-go-round? Is this some kind of a joke?”

“Well this explains a lot,” mused the horse. “I’ve heard it’s a long and difficult road for your sort. You must be an agnostic. Have trouble believing things even when they’re right in front of your face. Am I right?”

“I don’t know,” shrugged Thomas helplessly.

“There you go. Man you’ve got it bad. You see, that’s not just any merry-go-round Thomas. That’s the real deal. The ‘Carousel of Beliefs’. The pragmatic version. I heard you weren’t so keen on the spiritual one.”

“What does it do?”

“It’s a training facility of sorts. Lets people hop on a belief of their own choosing and give it a ride, see if they like it. Or lets them freshen up their stale beliefs, put a fresh coat of paint on it. That’s the only down side I’ve heard. The ride’s usually crawling with politicians. Helps them figure out what they actually stand for. Now off you go. Good luck Thomas. May the Horse be with you.”

“Thank you I guess,” said Thomas, jumping to the ground. He walked down the hill. Several new passengers had boarded by the time he reached the carousel and stood waiting for the operator to finish with her instructions. She turned around and he was surprised to see Calliope Pennyworth standing before him.

“Welcome Thomas,” she said. “I was beginning to wonder if you’d come. I trust your trip is going well?”

“I really don’t know what to believe Calliope,” he said. “I just want to find Cherry.”

“Focus please Thomas. You need to find yourself first. The ‘Carousel of Beliefs’ will help. Let me give you your instructions. Every horse here is saddled with a different belief, ranging from the ridiculously trivial to the truly grandiose. Understand so far?”

“They don’t look different to me Calliope. They’re all horses. They all go up and down and round and round. They’re just different colors. But they’re all stuck on a platform.”

“No no Thomas, you don’t understand. Believe me, they are all different. Plus I can vary the speed of the ride, or turn the strobe lights on for a spectacular effect. I can change the music, perhaps to something you find more appealing, say something inspirational like Brahms’s Requiem, or the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel. Personally I prefer something with a sweet groove to it that carries you along for the whole ride. I’m talking soul music here Thomas. You with me?”

“Calliope, the horses still don’t go anywhere except around in circles, don’t you see that? How’s that supposed to help me?’

“Because there are no contrary horses here. Each one is steadfast in the belief it carries, so there’s nothing to confuse the rider. But see, the unusual thing about this ride is that not only do you have to like the horse, the horse has to like you too. So please Thomas, pick a horse. It won’t hurt you to give it a try. May I suggest starting in the middle somewhere, say that red one there with the blinders on. That spunky one carries the belief that this country is going to hell, that things aren’t what they used to be, and that the poor and the immigrants are to blame. You might recognize them as Republicans where you come from.

Or opposite that is this blue one here with the rose colored glasses. That one’s harnessed to the belief that this country has unlimited potential, that things are better than before and that any problem can be fixed rationally. Even things like war, inequality, and racism. Those you might know as Democrats.”

Thomas jumped up on the red horse and felt the anger building in him almost immediately. Nothing definitive, just an anger he couldn’t quite put his finger on. Strangely though he had a sudden yearning for Budweiser beer and country music, things he had never enjoyed before, as he tried desperately to remember the words to the Pledge of Allegiance. Looking around for an American flag, his eyes fell on the blue horse, and all the vague anger he felt before welled up and coalesced into a raging inferno of unbridled hate. He pleaded with himself to calm down, which may have been a mistake, because the horse responded by bucking so furiously that before one revolution had been completed, it threw him clear off the ride. He landed, bruised and dirty, on the ground next to Calliope. “I thought you said the horses couldn’t hurt me,” he said, standing up and brushing himself off.

“Wow,” exclaimed Calliope. “I’ve never seen such an extreme reaction. Did you do something to anger the horse?”

“I was just trying to understand it, that’s all,” said an exasperated Thomas.

“Alright, I believe you,” said Calliope. “Perhaps we just started too strong. I think we’ll skip the blue horse then. So what say we start near the bottom and work our way up? Now that little purple horse there believes it can accurately judge people and their motives in five seconds or less. Great for cutting through the bullshit Thomas. Go ahead, hop right on up there.”

In three seconds flat, Thomas again found himself in the dirt.

“Double Wow!” exclaimed Calliope. “Tried, judged and sentenced in three seconds. OK then,” she said, still hopeful, “at the very beginning we have that brown pony there, who carries the belief that a roll of toilet paper should always be installed so that you pull the end down from the top, not up from the bottom. So how about ….”

“Wait Calliope,” interrupted Thomas, catching sight of a horse deep on the inside, a horse that was constantly changing its color and giving its rider all she could handle. But it was the rider that interested him. Though he could only get a partial glimpse of her when she went by, she looked familiar. Finally she turned his way, smiled the smile that he remembered, the one that he thought could melt the polar ice caps, and waved enthusiastically. He couldn’t believe it. It was Cherry Pickens.

“Thomas! Look at me!” Cherry called out, before turning serious and grabbing the saddle horn with both hands. The horse appeared to be bucking for all it was worth, but still she stayed on.

“I see somebody likes you Thomas,” said Calliope. “Who’s the girl?”

“That’s Cherry Pickens,” said Thomas breathlessly. “Can I get on that horse with her?”

“Definitely not. One rider to a horse. It’s a process Thomas, and you can see that horse is really challenging her, and she it. You can’t rush it and you can’t interfere.”

“What’s the horse Calliope? What belief does it carry? Tell me please, I’ve gotta know.”

“Easy there. That’s our most difficult horse. It’s not easy to stay on her, but everyone wants to try. That’s Psycho, and she believes in love Thomas. But if I were you, I wouldn’t wait up. Cherry looks like she’s in for one hell of a ride.”

Thomas watched Cherry, the avowed denier of love, go round and round, one handed and woo-hooing like a rodeo professional one second and hanging on for dear life the next. He was dumbfounded. What did this mean? Was she changing right in front of him?

“Please Calliope, I beg you. I need to talk with Cherry, and I need to ride that horse. I think I can do it. I don’t have much time.”

“Sorry Thomas. There’s nothing I can do. If you could be patient and wait ….”

Already her voice was getting faint. He tried to focus on Cherry but her image was fading. She was becoming more and more of a phantom with each passing circuit, blurring into the background of circling horses. Strobe lights flicked on suddenly and pulsed madly over the horses as ‘Bye Bye Love’ blared from an echo chamber. For a second, Cherry’s voice broke through. “Bye Thomas. Believe in me,” it may have said. He couldn’t lose her. Not again. But it was too late, he was drifting, crossing over the center divide, hitting the bumpy patch at the edge of the road before flying out into the abyss. He was crashing.

He awoke, sweating and disoriented, mumbling “I believe in you,” over and over, trying hard to open his eyes. Someone was holding his head in her lap. Could it be, he thought.

“I believe in you too Thomas, my brave boy,” Nurse Candy answered. “I believe in you too.” She raised his head and let him sip a little water, then brushed the damp hair off his forehead and gently kissed him.

Thomas opened his eyes with a start. His mouth felt like the Mojave Desert. A fat lizard was crawling around inside, pretending to be his tongue. “I have to go,” he croaked, pushing himself up to a standing position. He swayed unsteadily in place for a moment, located the door, and staggered towards it. “Have to find her,” he said.

“I’m right here Thomas,” sighed Candy. “I believe in you.”

Bob Lorentson is an environmental scientist, a beleaguered profession that has become very challenging to his usual, or perhaps delusional, optimism. Other recent publishing credits include Praxis, Leaves of Ink, Better Than Starbucks, and Quinnehtukqut. He is currently shopping for an agent or publisher for his second novel, "The Agnostic's Progress", and tries to spread interest in the amazing novels of Knut Hamsun wherever he can.
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