By on Jul 10, 2017 in Humor

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Meditation class, with overlaid sunset

All eyes looked up at us, so at least they weren’t in their Buddhist trances yet. Still, this was way more of an interruption than I’d hoped to cause. The eyes were not unfriendly, though. I recognized Janet Flugelhorn, my wife’s friend, who smiled at me; Alexander Kopfschmertz, who had been a neighbor a few years ago, who nodded; and Helene Maastricht-Unterschieden, another hyphenated personage, whom I had adored in high school and who had gone to a nearby college to mine, she of the most magnificent and significant breasts, surely two of the thousand points of light referred to by our former president. Helene, too, smiled at me. I worried that even though I hadn’t gotten high with Harold, they would all smell the pot smoke on him and attribute stonedness to me, as well. There were not two seats together, so I sat next to Helene, and Harold wound up across the table from me. As he sat, he put his overstuffed wallet, with a large jumble of keys, on the table before him like a huge mound of gelt.

I continued to look around the room, making occasional eye contact with the people I didn’t know, forcing smiles, occasionally looking side-longingly at the tantalizing Helene. A moment went by, and another. Harold had taken to raising his eyebrows every time our eyes met. Quickly, the task became to avoid all eye contact. It was very uncomfortable. I looked at my hands, at the hairs on my knuckles, at my shoelaces, over at Helene again…

Was one of these silent shtoonks the leader?

“Are we meditating?” Harold asked.

People laughed.

The laughter died down. After another moment or two, another uncomfortable moment or two, at last one of the women unknown to me deigned to speak.

She smiled. Actually, she continued to smile, as she had been doing from the moment we’d entered the room, and I suspect for some time prior to that.

“We are not officially meditating,” she said, smiling, looking around the room. “So far, we’re just sitting.”

I looked at Harold. He raised his eyebrows.

The lady, who was probably about fifty, with silvery hair pulled back in a pony tail, told us she was Lucy Schmaltz. She had been meditating for seventeen years, and had been ordained or something for the past eight.

She spoke about human suffering and the breath and the moment and about thinking and a still pond and a muddy pond and about theocracy and Judaism and Christianity and striving and fear and death. All in all, her voice had a very pleasant, even tone; and I found myself soothed and pretty much in agreement with everything she said, though I suppose she had not said anything very controversial and even after all she’d said, I still had no clue, really, what it was I was supposed to do.

Harold was sitting far back in his chair and looked in grave danger of falling asleep, if not over. La belle Helene was smiling, every so often nodding her head. There was a real sense of peacefulness in the room.

I started wondering what time we’d get out. Would it still be light out? Probably not; it was already starting to get dark. Would I get high with Harold? Were Minya and the kids, Flotsam, Jetsam, Fulsome and Lissome, okay? Not that they wouldn’t be okay, but what were they doing? Were they making for an unpleasant evening for Minya? Usually we collaborated at night, sharing the duties of feeding, bathing, reading to, playing with, tucking in. It doesn’t do much for your sex life, I’ll tell you that.

I looked over at Helene again. Even now, getting older, she was still a beauty. Her dark hair was cut shorter than when she was younger, and one suspected more than actually saw that there were strands of gray mixed in. New lines had accreted to her lovely face, which had become thinner, although she herself looked a delectable handful of pounds more plump.

She looked at me out of the corner of her eye. I looked away. I didn’t want to just stare at her. I forget whether she had one kid or two. Her husband I’d met once at a party quite a few years ago; he was kind of a geek. I knew she wrote a gardening or decorating column or something for the local paper. She’d been a good writer even back in high school. I knew this in part because I sat behind her in our senior English class, and when I was there and not out behind the school getting high, I would momentarily take my eyes off her bra strap or the dark fuzzy curls of hair tucked back behind her ears or the little black wispy strands where the back of her head became her neck, an area that I so wanted to kiss that my straining forward often produced a vigorous erection, whether I was stoned or not—anyway—I would take my eyes from that overly stimulating view to look over her shoulder as Mr. Felder handed her paper back invariably with an A on it, before proceeding to hand me my B or occasionally, C.

As I looked furtively at her now, it seemed clear to me that this feeling I had for her, this love, this yen, this bittersweet desire, was eternal; that is, it would last the duration of my life, not that it would go beyond the grave or some farshtunkeneh notion like that.Oy, my poor Minya, diaper-wiping and the like at home while I cultivated such fantasies…

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After receiving degrees in psychology from Wesleyan and Duquesne Universities, and since completing Naropa University’s Creative Writing Program in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2005, Laurence Levey has had short stories published in Cezanne’s Carrot, Art Times, Versal, Ellipsis, The Barcelona Review and The Manhattanville Review; book reviews published in Drunken Boat and Word Riot; and poetry accepted for publication in Fulcrum. He was a semi-finalist in the Summer Literary Seminars-2010 Unified Literary Contest, a runner-up in the Summer Literary Seminars 2017 Contest, a finalist in the 2016 Breakwater Review Fiction Contest, and he writes for The Review Review.