1,001 questions ran through my mind. did Layla really love this shit-for-brains? did she ever love me in the first place? why was Anton carrying a god-damned gun and did he really just fire it at my lady and her lover? had someone already called the cops? was that a siren in the distance? i didn’t have time to ponder the answers to any of these questions yet i already knew that the answer to all of the above was: yes.
time slowed nearly to a halt as i caught Layla’s eye. thankfully Anton’s spontaneous shot had only grazed her goon’s ear and he sat clutching the left side of his head shouting explicatives and rocking back and forth while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Layla did not bend down to comfort him. she stood tall and looked me square in the face, not blinking-no tears, no longing, no emotion at all. she parted her lips and muttered two inaudible words that must have been either, “i’m sorry”, or “f— you”, i’m not sure which. Anton and i turned and looked at each other and starting running.
i must say that my respect for the salmon increased tremendously that day. “be yourself” and “swim against the current” seem like wonderful pieces of advice until you find yourself fighting through a sea of fervent halloween paraders in the east village. ironically, there were a few fish costumes in the crowd, but mostly we found ourselves dodging scantily clad pirate wenches, french maids, witches and many zombies. even in our flight, Anton had the nerve to sneer at the commonplace costumes of the masses. i’m sure i overheard him chastising a young woman for dressing up as a supposedly sexy bumblebee. what i can i say? he was always the outspoken one.
swimming upstream proved to be much more difficult than we thought. after struggling futilely against the crowd, Anton and i decided that it was much easier to stand still and let the parade of cloaked and intoxicated people pass around us, much like a large rock in a river. we linked arms, bracing ourselves against the current, feet planted firmly into the pavement. the parade swallowed us up and spit us back out, and at the end we were left standing completely alone in the middle of the confetti sprinkled road. the streets were deserted and the silence was deafening. Anton gave me a nudge to say, “let’s get the hell out of here” but my feet wouldn’t move. my legs wouldn’t move. my arms wouldn’t move. my hands wouldn’t move. i was frozen in my place in the middle of the rainbow streaked road. the sound of siren advanced. Anton retreated. I remained.
1,001 footsteps, wheels and tread marks, whistles and hollers of fools, fools, fools! timing is stupid, man. too many moments elapsed when i was suffocating of shock. even after i was slapped out of it, too many moments, man. i didn’t even see the people coming down the street. neither had Anton- and you know he’s the observant one.
the procession of people was dense. east village people know how to march. on any other friday, Anton and i would have given them props. we’d be thinking, “power to the funky people. east village has it all, man! protests, parades, parties…” but on that friday i wasn’t thinking. i was reacting. and as a professional hypnotist, i know better than most, how very dangerous it can be to react without thinking first.
i said that i mix up being a professional hypnotist and being a Normal person sometimes. but when i say “mix up” i don’t mean like “blend” or “combine.” Anton can be a blend of the two but- you know he’s sort of supernatural like that.
the parade was too much pause. it put too many moments between seeing Layla and some unethical dirtbag and crossing the street to encounter Layla and some unethical dirtbag. too much time the parade allowed for another encounter to take place. one between my Normal self and my professional hypnotist self. they met. there was a reaction somewhere deep within me. and then there was a break in the procession. and then we took action.
Anton already had his gun. Layla already saw us. the shit-for-brains man already raised his hands. already his mouth formed for words in protest. already the parade passed by and with it passed the time for protest. already the click and already the trigger. already the fire, already the recoil.
i don’t know what as though it never happened because it was already all over. a new parade formed.
1,001 seconds passed as slow as 1,001 years. i felt my stomache drop ten stories and the blood began to rush out of my head. i was losing my cool. i could hear Anton faintly as if he were on the other side of a wall, “dude, be cool, just breath and be cool…” but i was as far away from cool as las cruces, new mexico, where Layla and i had met three years prior.
i had been living there at the time. well i suppose we both had been living there, but separately, unaware of each other until one day my lady walked through my office door. she came to me for help, “hypnosis: the final frontier of therapy” she had said, not believing at all in the power of the subconscious mind. after our fourth session she asked me out. yeah, that’s right, she asked me to join her for a cup of coffee at “buzz”, the coffee shop around the corner from my office. i pushed my ethics aside and accepted the invitation. it’s damn near impossible to say no to a beautiful woman, and now three years later there i was on a corner of the east village watching my ethics bite me in the ass.
i wonder if i’m still breathing. i can’t really tell but Anton is waving his arms at me and looking concerned. he slaps me across the face with such force that it brings me back to my senses. “sorry man, but i had to do it.” and Anton is right. he’s right about most things, or at least sees things from a different perspective.
i gather my wits and ruffle my feathers and Anton gives me nod and pounds his chest. we both take a deep breath and step out into the road to cross the street and find out just what the hell is going on when a choir of horns, bicycle bells and screams stop us both in our tracks.
1,001 nights…or more, since i became a professional. and still, as a hynopist by day and a Normal person on most nights… i inevitably mix up the two characters of myself.
one particular friday night, i was in town as a Normal person. i was with my friend Anton- you know the one with the imagination– and we were walking tough down the east village streets and i was thinking, “east village has it all, man!” i was thinking this among all the funky people and the beggar people, little people, old people and all the rich-as-shit people. but i was also thinking “all these fools! spiritually starved and mad, fools! all cross-eyed, boring, in-need-of-some magic, fools! i thought, “i’d hypnotize the devil out of you and you and you! i’d swing my pendulum between the empty eyes across your face! i’d put belief in that space in your mind that still has space to believe!”
and Anton- you know the creative one- he wasn’t looking everyone all up and down like me. he acts tough and he is tough and he’s always looking at everyone down his nose. so we were walking past the tea stalls and the silk shop and he stops me and he says, “no wait, man.” and he said it very seriously. i knew it was serious because i’ve hypnotized Anton probably 1,001 times and this man is a rock. hard to make him speak or react. hard to get anything out of him. he knows how to be Normal and not at the same time. he doesn’t mix them up real well and that’s hard. anyway, he stops me and is looking across the street. i looked across the street and we both see my lady, Layla. i was thinking, “the hypnotist just got hypnotized” and i couldn’t believe what i was seeing. Layla was standing all sweet next to another man.