The Interstellar No-no

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Brie parks at the statue of the sacred bull and trudges up the path to the front door. He opens it before she has a chance to knock. "Saluton, Mama. Perfect timin'. I just be done patchouliin' dese dreds."

Angostura Lyons is shirtless with a garland of wildflowers strung around his neck. On the bottom he's wearing camouflage culottes and white toenail polish. He dries his dreadlocks with a SpongeBob SquarePants beach towel and looks deep into Brie's eyes. "What be goin', Starchild?"

Brie sighs under the weight of her own machinations. "Seksumi estro."

Ango turns his lips into an O. "You sex your boss? Dat da interstellar no no evvybody make like fantasy. On da desk, yeh? He call you into da office an' tell you, Dat report you made about da paper clips was too short, Woman! He need one hundred words so Bend over and take your spankin'!" Ango sends a howl of laughter into Laurel Canyon. "Or maybe it da interview? Yeh, I like dat one." He clears his throat like an executive preparing to grill a candidate. "How many pages can you staple togetha, Miss Brie?" His laugh scares a flock of doves from the eves.

Brie grins. "I take it you've never worked in an office."

Ango gestures to his garden. "Dis my office. Come on, take off dese shoes and let's go feel da earth."

Angostura's garden curls around the house and up onto the hill. Fruit trees form a natural perimeter to neat rows of vegetables, greens, and an extensive live apothecary of medicinal herbs. White buzzing boxes are stacked in a sunny spot, and tangles of wildflowers grow every which way, earning their name. The earth beneath Brie's feet is dark and fecund. "Yeh, feel it. Feel da earth down dere." Ango rakes the mud with his long brown toes. "You got ta stand on da earth and feel da connection, up from da ground through your body to da sky." He studies her, a spade in his hand. "Yeh, but you don' feel it. What going on in dat head dat blockin' you up?"

Brie looks down at her earth-stained feet. "It's just... ever since I met you, I've been trying to be a better person, like you said. But it's not working. The more I try, the more disgraceful I become. It's a reverse effect."

Ango seems to choose an arbitrary spot and starts digging a hole. "When I say that? You don' hear be betta person from dis man, no no. I tell you jus be you and stop worryin' 'bout who you thinkin' you be."

A bee buzzes Brie's face. "Yeah but me being me apparently means snorting coke in my boss's office and having anal revenge sex with her husband."

Ango drops his spade, reaches down into the hole he has dug, and brings up a pile of fetid sausages. "Revenge for what? Here," he says, handing her the pile.

Brie pinches her face. "For punishing me because I'm good at my job and because I didn't have sex with her."

"Ooowaa. Here," he says, piling more in her hands.

Brie holds the ground sausages at arm's length. "What is this stuff?"

"Chamomile blossoms stuffed into da small intestines of cows and buried under dat great big harvest moon last October. Da planets affect all life, not jus sexy girls pretendin' ta feel bad 'bout someting dat make dem feel good."

Flies are starting to gather. "I don't feel good."

"Not today, in da bright light of da woman you think you should be. If you was outta your head and did things you didn' want to, dat one thing. But if you choose to lust up wit your boss's man 'cause you tink dis set some scale back to center, den what you cryin' 'bout, Starchild? I tell you," he says, hitching his head for her to follow him over to a weather-beaten table amidst veils of wild fennel. On the table is a large pile of cow dung. Ango takes the sausages from Brie and sets to work splitting them open. "Work dis into da manure here," he tells her.

Brie stares at the cow dung, marveling at what a shitty day she's having. "Do you have gloves?"

Ango looks at her. "It jus shit. Get your hands dirty. Work it in."

She takes the fermented chamomile blossoms and kneads them into the cow ejecta. It's warm from the sun and full of grass. Not so bad, actually.

"Listen Mama, dis is simple. What happen when you stuff a pillow in a pillbox? It bust out, it don't fit. Dat what happens when you try actin' like some saint. You bust out. What you tink, you da Mother Theresa? Who told you people be perfect? You need ta know yourself. You too old to be pretendin' 'bout who you are. Who you are be written in da stars. You jus' need ta undastand da pattern. But what I see is a woman who denies da past. You don' learn from your mistakes! You fuck up and den you pout about it and den you decide you new and improved, missin' da lesson because you too busy puttin' distance between you and your actions. Dat da old me! New me never do that! But oh ho, dere you do it. Same mistake, over and over. It be a pattern, Starchild. You got to know yourself so you can find dat pattern. I want you go home and tink hard 'bout all da bad tings you wish gone different. Find da pattern in your behavior. Not his, not hers, yours. Once you have it, write it down on a piece of paper, soak dis paper in castor oil, and eat it. Dis knowledge gonna travel through your body and out of you forever. Sit down on da toilet and get rid of it. Flush it down. Den you have da space to know yourself. Den you love yourself and stop pretendin'. Do dis and da right tings come to you." He hands her the last of the chamomile blossoms. "Undastand?"

Brie takes the withered leaves and works them into the manure. "I think so."

"Good. Now we take all dis shit and we use it to grow something new."

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