The Guru Principle

Friday

I am a guru. I help people. They come to me because they have a belief that I can help them in the ways of love, money, success. My programs include Financial Mastery, The Power of Me, and Unlimited Affection. They are available in 43 languages, in 160 countries around the world.

I still do one three day seminar somewhere in the US. I do this once per year. My in-person seminar is called The Guru Principle. It is the culmination of all my programs. It takes a year to prepare for and a year to recover from. I give it all my energy, my love, and I open myself to all the principles I have learned throughout my life. It is the culmination of everything I have experienced. It is cathartic not just for me but for the participants. We laugh. We cry. We get to know each other personally beyond personally. It costs, for three days, more than most people make in a year.

It is capable of ripping a person to their core.

It is capable of building them up in an instant.

It will change you.

It changes me.

It is my masterpiece.


Three days is Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Registration is at Friday noon. The first group meeting is at 3pm Friday, for two hours, then dinner at five, then we rejoin at 7pm and close at 11. Saturday sessions run from 8am to 11pm. Sunday sessions run the same. Monday morning we provide breakfast. Then they're back on planes, in cars, rushing home to put in place the pieces that we've learned.

There is a secret to being a guru: Don't be one.

There is nothing special about me.

I was born in Memphis, Tennessee.

An only child.

With my speech impeded, shy as a newborn pup, later found to have early onset Parkinson's. And actually: It wasn't that I was shy. It's that speaking to people, even my mother, terrified me. When we had babysitters, I hid between the couch cushions till long after my mom was gone. Then in violent spurts I came out, tackling speech with the teenage girl. She would sit in my mom's chair. I would answer her questions best I could: How are you today, Mr Martin? Would you like to go outside? We can play together in the backyard pool. Roll up your pants legs and wade with me in the freezing water. After that you can have ice cream. Which would you prefer? The large tub of chocolate/chocolate? The popsicles flavored lemon and cherry? Martin?

"Yes?"

"Come with me outside."

"Ok, but I gotta get changed."

"Go ahead."

"Not while you're in the room."

"Martin! I'm not even looking. Stand behind the couch!"

Which I did. While keeping my close eye on her, on the babysitter, her name was Bindy, short for Bulinda, and she was my crush. She held me at length with her arm outstretched and I looked up her shirtsleeve at her bra and played the game as long as possible, not caring whether I was ever able to touch her.

She taught me the word "horny." But I still didn't know what it meant until later.

So I was shy.

And my mother was poor. We were desperately poor, actually. Bulinda was just our neighbor. My mom paid her in prescription drugs. Sometimes hugs. Mom worked at the St Jude Children's hospital. At the end of the night I'd be back hiding in the couch cushions and I'd watch my mother empty her purse of vials filled with pills and she'd hand two of them to the babysitter. Then my babysitter would pick up a third from the coffee table and my eyes would be open, but look closed, watching Bindy leave for the night.

My mom would say: "Goodnight Bulinda."

"Goodnight Ms Chance."

That's our last name: Chance.

And my full name is Martin Kevin Chance.


That's my name. I use it on billboards, in ads. I use it as my professional name. I am proud of it. I say it to myself in the mirror at least once a day, dictively mouthing the words, enunciating every shape, giving it a color, three colors, Martin for red, Kevin for white, and Chance for blue. I am patriotic in the sense that I love my country and wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But I am not patriotic in that I don't believe my country is doing well. I am a billionaire, a small-time billionaire. My money was made through selling tapes, CDs, DVDs, and now streaming video. I sell in every country that allows the selling of self-help information. Martin Kevin Chance is a brand. It is the key that people use to access my particular knowledge, my way of seeing the world, my product.

Martin Kevin Chance is not me, exactly.

It's what I have inflated into the name, what I have blown into its interior with decades of helping myself. With demons, deflating them until they have squeaky voices and stand far from me, in the corner of the room. With images of my mom, standing over my bed, yelling out everything she had to say to dad, to me instead.

My mother never beat me.

She spanked me.

But she never hit me.

No, my mom's assault was in her words. Getting home from the hospital, closing the door behind the sitter. And then, coming to me on the couch, she let me have a work night full of irritation and a lifetime full of words even more mis-delivered. She devastated me. I can say that now. I use her name with pride. She raised me well. We always had food in the fridge. Everything else she gave me was my test. Some came straight from her core. Some of it was meant for dad. But dad wasn't there. And he never had been, for me. What my mother laid out in test was to see if I could do better. That's how I chose to see it.

Life consists of choices. One of the choices I made, early on, was not to give my mother the power to determine my life. Then or now. Now she lives in southern California. I live in northern California, in Pacifica, just south of San Francisco. She lives alone. I give her money. My mom's name is Francy. She's an alcoholic.

My dad? My dad is nowhere. He hides his face in shame.


I think of Eminem's dad. Think of a dad who left that child and Eminem's mom alone in a trailer park, only to learn later that Eminem is a billionaire. A success. I imagine Eminem's dad, alone at a bar, afraid even to tell his bar mates the truth. Imagine. You have to live the rest of your life knowing you're a deadbeat dad. And you're the dad to a billionaire. Someone who if they decided to could make you rich beyond your dreams and never even feel the pinch. But, instead, you're tossing back a Bud, listening to your delinquent son on the jukebox.

My dad is somewhere like that. Unknown. Does he think about me? I like to think of him sitting next to Eminem's dad at the bar, carrying on a conversation about football, knowing nothing of the things I've done.

I've traveled to 50+ countries, have a beautiful wife. Well: A girlfriend. I help people in ways they couldn't find help themselves. With techniques I invented. My seminars, web series, books, tapes, DVDs, countless changed lives. A product I believe in. My houses. When I first started, maybe 10 years in, I had one house in Miramar. Now I have 20 houses, all over the world. And if you say, "Why do you have so many houses? You can only live in one!" I will say to you back: "That is my privilege. I can live in as many houses as I want."


My first house as mentioned was in Miramar. Second was in Westlake Village, north of LA, at a lake called Westlake. Judge Judy lives there. Kanye has a house there. Third was in Italy. Fourth and fifth were in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. And the rest are all over. My secret places, waiting for me with no more than a housekeeper comes twice a week. Minimal expense. Escapism.

Do you ever think about nuclear war? I do. I've never said this on TV but I worry over it every day, every minute, every second, every hour of the day I visualize most of the world being blown to dust and only 10 of my 20 houses remain. Of course I and everyone else on this planet would die of radiation. But I keep my houses nonetheless as escape routes, safety pods, where if it all came down tomorrow I would have a place to go.

Of course that runs directly counter to what I teach in my seminars. Visualization of your dreams. Neuro-linguistic programing. See what you dream, what you hope for. Every second imagining what scares you, seeing what you do not want, makes it come closer to true.

But reading the news, keeping track of what's current, if you have any brain at all you know that it's not just your own visualization which makes this reality real. It's the thoughts and visions of everyone here. Everyone on this planet. Everyone off. Our fears are so real that we have practically ordered off a menu this idiot president and the crimes he brought with him to the office.

Is that hypocritical?

I don't think so.

I can still teach people to build the powerful future that pulls them forward. What else could I teach?

And I carry my fears with me like a small child carries lunch to school. I set down my lunchbox, stand atop it, and with my fears below my feet, I speak about hope.


Hope. The Shawshank Redemption. That value that Morgan Freeman carries with him to the end of the Earth. To some beach down in Mexico. To find his friend. Can't say I've ever found my friend in this life but I have thousands I have met and millions who have seen me or heard me speak.

As a young man, in Memphis, after my mom had left and the rent at our old place had become impossible for me to pay, I moved to a place across town. A studio.

I worked from home, selling weed. I was fat as fuck. Talked to myself about it that way, too: "You're fat as fuck, Martin. Maybe if you didn't eat so much ice cream." Chocolate/chocolate ice cream. Cherry and lemon popsicles. I had 'em all in my fridge. Secret fantasy about Bulinda. No real girlfriend. All my "friends" were my customers. Not much different than now.

Except now I have a wife. A girlfriend. Excuse me, but I misspoke. I had a wife. I have a girlfriend. I love and I'm loved back. I know what I want. My last wife, she didn't understand the business. Her name was Eleanor. My girlfriend's name is Cherie. She understands the business.

But hope.

Hope is the utmost.

It is the raddest, as we said as children.

I hope.

I hope that Cherie and I last forever, for as long as this life goes. I hope that Eleanor goes on, and on, and on without me. That she finds another. Not like me. But enough like me to keep her interested and enough not like me that she can stand to stay.

I hope for my mom. That she enjoys her days as death approaches.

And I hope for me, that I am able to stay alive, out of jail, and excited about my business until I die.

I hope. I hope. I hope.

Just like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank.


I guess you could say, you could say that my Superman lunch box encloses my first secrets. My first motivation.

Notes.

Notes from every girl in the second grade.

Stolen.

Stolen out of every girl's dress pockets, their hands, lockers, and desks. Notes stolen when they were barely looking. Notes stolen from the classroom floors. Taken en route from one side of the class to the other, from one girl to the other.

Folded in that special way leaving a triangular tab to pull when you're ready to open. I opened notes that had been discarded and notes that had never been read. Snatched them up and stowed them for later. Read them at home. With the door closed. At my desk, directional light aimed directly from overhead, brightening up the paper in dissipating semicircles, radiating from the center of that written communication.

Their content? Talk of boys and girls. Who was liked and who was hated. Best friend talk. Discussion of who was in and who was out. Sometimes talk of life and death. Of family business. Of relatives, normal and crazy. Of parents, nice and mean. Of teachers: Specific insults and these notes were never signed, not in reality, not with real names. These would be signed with signs and nicknames, sealed with blood, with fingers dipped in mud.

I opened them and read. Digging into the world of girl talk, which I wanted so desperately, so deeply down, that I risked getting caught stealing them over and over again.

And, when done, I re-folded each paper, set it so the opening flap stuck out the top and the note went into the lunch box in my closet. Superman. The box was metal, not like today's plastic. And I closed that box and put it in the bottom of my closet, under a pile of dirty clothes. This is one of my earliest memories.


And I remember, a decade later, being in high school doing the same thing. And I remember, a decade after that, living in my own apartment in Memphis, fat, poor, watching porn on TV, having no girlfriend, having taken to fucking fat women of the city, meeting them at bars and hating myself after. Hating myself 1) for seemingly having to fuck fat women and 2) even more so, for not having lived up to my dreams.

I was meant to grow up rich. To conquer the American Dream. To have it all. And one night, with a fat girl sleeping in bed next to me, I decided to make a change.

You know where the word "decide" comes from? It comes from Latin. It means "to cut away." To choose one path. And to forever let go of the other. In fact: To cut off the other path.

I figured I didn't know enough. So I went to the library. We didn't have internet back then. It didn't exist. So I went to the wall of computers near the entrance and I looked at the search prompt, holding back tears, hands hovering over the keyboard.

Ten minutes passed. I thought about my life. How empty it had been, while there seemed to be people out there living large, rich people. Having thin sex, being thin. Having more money than I could imagine. Living in enormous houses by the ocean.

My hands and forearms were trembling.

Finally I typed, a subject search for "help."


"Help me," actually.

And the computer came right back with books about surviving impossible situations like being stuck in the trunk of a car or being in a field full of lightning. It came back with books about what to do if you felt suicidal. None of this was me. But then it had a section of "self-help," and I wrote down the numbers and went to those.

I checked out 20 books that day.

Read every one.

Checked out cassette tapes. Listened while I was working as a bus boy at Denny's. Listened at work while everyone else was taking a cigarette break.

At first I read them like a hungry man eats food.

A starving man at a banquet.

They made me cry.

Then they made me mad. Mad at my mom, for raising me to believe that we were always going to be poor. That it was an unchangeable situation. We were poor and we lived in a country where the poor remained poor and lived and died poor and you had to have a rich dad to live rich and I didn't accept a word of it. Didn't believe her the first time she said it. Didn't believe it now. But now these voices from the pantheon of self-helpers were living in my ear, in my brain, and they carried such a message of unbelievable hope that for those first 20 books, I cried.

I was hearing a message of hope for the first time in my life.

And I cried! Boy, I cried like a man who has wasted a quarter of his life not knowing and not just not knowing better but acting like a slob, hopeless, treating myself like dirt.

Was there a world of riches for a person like me? And didn't it take, not just business skill, but a self-love that surpassed any other? I didn't believe in god. But I believed in me.

I believed in myself.

And no mother's hate, or mother's neglect, was going to live inside my mind. Waiting for me to freak out and have nothing else to fall upon than that motherly voice that was planted deep inside of me. Her voice had programmed me to think: I am limited, I am cursed by the elder generations. I have to follow in her footsteps, or my father's. I came to see that in order to change, I had to cut out every unhelpful voice from my head. I had to literally reprogram myself. And so, when I first saw books on neuro-linguistic programming, I latched onto them and never let go.


NLP lies at the center of what I do. It was created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s. It involves reprogramming your brain using tricks like replay your boss's words in your own head but this time play him with a Minnie Mouse voice. Or a Darth Vader voice. One of them makes him meaner. One of them makes him meeker. But it's techniques like that you use to change the meaning of what is happening to you. To your favor.

Take all your troubles. That almost infinite list of items you process throughout the day. Visualize each of them, and put them in a case. Put the case on a helicopter. Fly the helicopter over the ocean. Make the helicopter explode, and the case fall a thousand stories to the water below. Now make that case survive the crash and begin to sink. To sink low, low, low. To find its resting place at the bottom of the ocean. And then to implode, crushing all your worries at this most remote place, fade to dust, integrate with the plant life, the animals, and your troubles are so far away from themselves! So far, scattered across the world in pieces that don't make sense anymore. And by that, your worries are less.

I work with sports personalities, presidents, dictators.

I work with CEOs, mostly.

And I work with you, who come to my seminars. Paying tens of thousands of dollars for a three day seat. Of course there are cheaper seats, over to the side there. The left side. See those seats? Those are cheap seats. They are priced for the working man, for the working woman. Those are seats priced for the me before I became me, for the early me, the young me. Those seats are free.


But they're not guaranteed. Those seats are chosen by lottery. To guarantee your place as part of The Guru Principle, you've got to pay the big bucks. Those are people I know are serious. People who have shown that, somehow, they've been able to make or save that precious initial price needed to meet with me. That is where the major realizations happen. From people who are out enough cash that they feel the press to learn. Who don't know why they come here but they come to make a change. People who have promised themselves they need this badly enough to lay down a significant amount of cash. It hurts to save 10 thousand dollars. It hurts to save 20 thousand. So to those who do, I give my special performance. I do pick on people from the cheap seats. But, mostly, when I walk the aisles, I stay away from the left seats. I stay in the center.


I lost that weight. Whitened my teeth. Work out before every show. Work out every day, actually. Mostly I jump rope. And when I jump, I jump 300 times in a set. One-hundred for Francy. That's my mom. One-hundred for Cherie. That's my girlfriend. And a secret hundred for Bindy, Bulinda, my babysitter who is the force behind it all.

Bulinda is the girl who taught me the word "horny."

Remember?

She's my motivation, my impossibility, my driver. Bulinda sits behind my eyes and demands more of me. When I rise to the occasion, Bulinda rewards me. When I sink in the face of challenge, Bulinda punishes me through a lack of attention. Bindy is with me everywhere: On stage, throughout the aisles, in my gym, in the whirlpool behind our house. She is in the bedroom, in the bathroom, in the shower. Bindy is in the bed with me and Cherie. Every single time.

And if you have a problem with me imagining my childhood babysitter while I'm fucking my girl, consider this: Cherie sees my eyes, and my eyes are on her the whole time. Cherie feels my touch, and no matter how old she is, she feels me touching her like I would touch Bulinda if she was in bed with me. Therefore Bulinda is fine! It doesn't matter who I'm touching. It means the same to me. It means the same to me as if Cherie was my babysitter from Memphis. I eat her pussy like I would eat Bulinda's pussy. And it becomes Bulinda's pussy, for me. It has every shade and every taste my tongue could devour.

And when I fuck Cherie, Bindy is there.

Whenever I fuck anyone, Bulinda is there.

She's my pocket memory, programmed in neurons, associations so strong death couldn't fade them. Associations of my childhood sitter who was just our neighbor and never got paid in anything but drugs to get her high.

Imagine Bulinda now, somewhere in Memphis, sitting in a rocking chair on the back porch of her apartment. Three kids off to school, another on the way. And Bindy rocks herself, playing Words with Friends on her lap and thinking every thought in the world except a thought about me. I think of contacting her. Using her last name. Showing up in that back yard, walking up on her with a carnation and a set of my books, proselytizing her on NLP, taking her on a journey, the journey I've been on.

But I cry. As much as I can remember who Bindy actually is, I remember in my positive light. As someone who would be willing to try NLP. Someone who is a lifelong learner. That's not who Bindy is, though. Likely she has grown along a typical path. Living in the city she was born in. And I know that if I ever showed up at Bulinda's house, I would be met with someone who doesn't want to change everything in her life. Someone who is following, with life's mess of precision, the exact path that was laid out for her by her mother, her father, her other family, her friends. To be a pure Memphis kid: White, blonde haired, drug dealer. If she stumbled on me in the bookstore, Bulinda would probably not even recognize my name.


So here's the question: Do you mind if your guru has a life? If Jesus was married, does that make him less divine? And what if I engage in sexual play with Cherie? Have an affair over Eleanor? Dump Cherie and fuck the little hottie in the front row? What if while I'm saving you, young woman, I touch you. And touch with depth, with meaning, with a point on it? What if while I'm healing you, I come on to you, flirt, spin you in a circle in my mind? What if I whisper to you on stage, exactly what you want to hear?

"For isn't that why some of you have come here? What are your reasons?"

"I came because I want a new life!"

"Nice. You in the white blouse. Why are you here?"

"I'm here because my husband left me."

"And what do you wish to gain?"

"Ahh. I want to be my own person again."

"Good! You want to be your own person. What else? What goes deeper than becoming your own person?"

"I want to be financially independent."

"Ok. You want to be financially independent. But what does that mean to you?"

"It means that I don't have to ask him for anything!"

"Ok! You want him to be out of your life. You want to live as your own person! Well guess what?"

"What?"

"You're going to learn how to do that in the next three days. Just wait. In the next three days, we're going to re-tool you. You're going to have the support of all these people! We're going to take that computer you carry everywhere. That thing called your brain. And we're going to reprogram it to do exactly what you want it to do! Not what your husband wants you to do. For him. But what you want it to do. Alice I want you to come up here and I want you to get into the reset position. Come on up."

The roar of applause.

Alice comes up. I put my hands on her shoulders and have her put her hands on mine.

"This is the reset position. Now look in my eyes."

She does, and they are the beautiful blue. Transplant those eyes into any girl and you've got a bombshell.

"This is the reset position. I'm going to do a micro hypnosis. Look me in the eye. There you go. Alice. You came here with baggage, with thoughts of your ex-husband. You paid a lot of money to be here!"

Everyone laughs.

"And you are going to get your money's worth. Alice."

"Yes, Martin?"

"I want you to instantly release all your thoughts about your ex-husband. What's his name?"

"Mister Parsons."

"You call your husband Mister?"

Alice nods.

"We're gonna stop that right now. Right the fuck now. You are going to pack up all your thoughts about Mister Parsons. From the time you met him. Do you remember it? Where did you meet?"

"In Union Square."

"New York City?"

Alice nods.

"Alright Alice. We're going to take you back to Union Square. The day you met your husband. Day or night?"

"Day."

"Day. What time of year?"

"Springtime."

"Spring in Union Square. What were you wearing?"

"This little white dress."

"And what was he wearing?"

"Khakis."

"Oh! Business casual. I want you to think of everything. The look on his face. Think of what he did for a living, what he was working at. Think of how you first touched. Liven it up! And I hope everyone in the audience here is doing the same exercise, with someone they want to exorcise. Think of when and how you met. The first moment. Make it real in your mind! Blow it out of proportion and see how that makes you feel. Have the other person speak more loudly, more clearly, more completely becoming the person you want to get rid of today. Alice. Are you with me?"

Her arms squeeze my shoulders. She is 20 years old, fresh faced, probably here on the money she got from the breakup with Mister Parsons. I squeeze her shoulders back and look at her. Give her the look I first gave to Eleanor, to Cherie, now to Alice, and finally, all the way back, the look I gave to Bindy, my childhood babysitter, when she held me back with her arm. Alice locks eyes. There it is! That look of trust which I have gained by mirroring her posture, her facial expressions, her breathing. And so I say:

"Alice. Look at me and don't blink. Don't fucking blink, I say! Do not you fucking blink. Hold back your tears, Alice, hold back all emotion because right here, right now, I'm going to give you permission to let it all go. Not yet. Keep your eyes open. Now I'm going to reprogram you. Ready? You. You! Are no longer beholden to Mister Parsons. Got it?"

She nods.

"You! Are no longer a factor of a failed marriage! Your marriage was a failure, was it not?"

Alice nods furiously.

"Now keep your eyes open for another second! When I say 'POW!' you empty the drawer. Empty the tray. Empty the trash can. Take all the expectations Mister Parsons had of you as a wife and not yet! Not yet, sweet little one. It feels good to keep your eyes open, doesn't it? I know! You want to know how I know? Because I do this all the time, to myself, in the mirror. Keep your eyes open for one more second while in the matter of an instant, you will embrace this permanent change and you're going to be ahead of everyone in this auditorium. Ready?"

Alice nods, keeping her gaze with me.

"POW!"

Alice blinks.

I grab her head.

"Now what did you come here to do? Alice. What. Did you come here. To do."

She's crying.

"I came here to learn!"

"To learn what?"

"I came to learn The Guru Principle!"

"Well. You just have. You all have! Welcome! Give yourselves a hand for registering for the one seminar on the face of this Earth that promises to change your life. For good. In an instant. Welcome! You are now part of The Guru Principle!"

The crowd goes wild.


And I'm backstage. Cherie acting as assistant ##1, bringing me my bottled water, kissing me on the cheek as I sit in my rolling chair and exhale. I inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale until I stop and take in one deep breath. Then it's onto the jump rope and I'm skipping two, three, four. Crossing the rope. Jumping, jumping. Get my heart rate up, get myself into shape for this next segment.

"What is next? What's next, Cherie? Go!"

Cherie shuffles documents on her tablet.

"How 'bout this? How 'bout this," she says, showing me her screen. "It's a couple. Both in attendance. He's retiring this year and she wants to know about starting a garden in their community garden space."

"What's it about? Is it about her or him?"

"I don't know."

"Skip it."

"Ok. Next one is: a single man, early 20s, just got fired from his job."

"Sounds too much like me," I say, and 25 support people laugh. It's exactly me, is the problem. I make eyes with a red-haired girl whose hair is in pigtails. She makes eyes back. I turn away, looking in the faces of my assistants, Cherie behind them all. So much eagerness. I wonder what the life of the red-haired one is like, where she lives, what she will go home to. I guess it's some shithole in Atlanta or Detroit, somewhere like that. Has she joined this team as a cheap way to get ahold of me? Does she have some problem in her life that requires getting a 5-day job in California to make some small amount in thousands of dollars to fix it? Has she really read my books? Listened to my recordings? Seen all the movies I've cameo'd in?

I motion to her, and she comes through the yelling of my other assistants. I read her name tag:

"Rebecca?"

"Yes, sir."

"You know not to call me sir."

"Yes. Hello. Marty."

"Hello Rebecca. Read me off that tablet the connections you've made."

Cherie and everyone are quiet.

Rebecca stammers: "I. H-have. Three. Worth interest. Three worth interest."

"Why do you stutter?"

"W-why?"

"When is your earliest memory of speaking?"

"We," she drops her tablet hand to her side. "When. I-I. Went. T-to. Uncle Marty's house."

"You have an uncle named Marty?"

Rebecca nods bigly.

"What would happen when you went to his house?"

"We-we-we would play in the back yard. I-in an inflatable pool. I would-would get on my uncle Marty's back and he would get in the pool with me and we-we'd play as one."

"And did you stutter then?"

Rebecca nods again.

"That's my first m-memory of stuttering."

"Of speaking at all."

"Of speaking, stuttering, wha-whatever. I-it's my f-first memory. Memory of speech."

"I want you to put that tablet down. Now stand up straight. You came here to fix your stutter, didn't you?"

Rebecca nods and casts her eyes up at the ceiling.

"If you're going to cry, let it out. Ok? Let it out through your bones. Let it out through your fingers. Let it out through your nose and your eyes and your mouth. You don't stutter while crying, do you?"

Rebecca lets it out.

"No!"

"That's good work. Now give me your hands. Let yourself cry! If not here, then where? You came to my seminar to get your cry on. So get it on! And fuck me if you're going to leave this stage still stuttering. Change can happen in an instant. Buddhists talk about 'little deaths.' Meaning: every experience we have is a reflection of the greatest impermanence. Which is death. Are you ready to accept the death of your stuttering? That's a question."

Rebecca closes her eyes, squeezes my hands, and nods.

"Are you ready to go onstage?"

Rebecca keeps nodding.

"Alright, Cherie: Get her ready to go!"

Cherie shouts to makeup. She steps aside and lets makeup come to Rebecca. They bring a stool for Rebecca to sit in. Three technicians take over her face, her arms, powdering her skin with foundation, a touch of lipstick.

Cherie says to me: "That was a good call."

"Thank you."

"I mean: that was a really good call. Can you fix her?"

"I've bee doing this for 30 years. I can at least afford to find out."

"That's the spirit," my girlfriend says.

She's massaging my thighs.

My jump rope is down by my ankles.

"I love you dearly," I say. "After this let's go down to Pacifica, make love by the beach. Bring nothing with us. Maybe a phone. Bottle of champagne. How does that sound?"

"It sounds alright except the phone."

"Ok, no phone then baby. No phone."

"Really?" she squeals.

"Yes, really. No phone, no company. We'll sleep on the ocean. Err. By its side. At night we'll make love in the sand."

"Use your cuss words."

I smile. I pull Cherie close and whisper in her ear.

"At night. We will strip naked like Indians and fuck."

"Ok but."

"What?"

"It's fine but."

"What isn't fine about my offer?"

"You know: Indians. It's Native Americans. Or like Apache or Sioux or something."

I grab Cherie by the waist.

"Apache or Sioux it is. I want to fuck you politically correctly. Grab you by your panties and stop you from running the beach. Pull you so far down in the sand you'll scrape at the circumference of the hole. Rip your fingernails out. And I'll hold you down backwards coming in you from the back. Then I'll let you rest. Then I'll cum in you again. Then I'll suck your pussy lips so hard it'll be a good thing no one else is on the beach. I'll have you screaming so hard, Cherie. Is she ready?"

The makeup people say: "Yes."

"Are you ready?" I ask Rebecca.

Cherie falls by my side. She kneels to pick up the jump rope.

Rebecca says, "Yes."

I put my arm around Rebecca. The support staff is all looking.

"Are you ready to become a star?"

"I think so."

"You think so? I need something more definite than that!"

"Yes I am!" Rebecca shouts.

And the support staff burst into applause.

"That's more like it!" I shout. Then I touch Rebecca on the small of her back. I lead her toward the side of the stage. "This is what happens when you want something. You seek it out. You end up all the way across the country from Atlanta or Detroit or wherever you're from. You end up backstage with me. And you ask for help. And someone hears you. And then, without your even knowing it, you end up on the stage with Martin Kevin Chance. You know what happens then?"

"What?" Rebecca says, shivering.

"Your old life ends," I say.

She is looking in my eyes.

"Then your new life begins," I say.

I motion for the curtains to open. Rebecca and I walk out to the center of the stage. Three thousand people stand and clap. Rebecca and I soak in their approval, their waiting, their wanting.

"Are you ready?" I say, checking my mike.

The crowd goes absolutely wild.

"That's good," I say. "That is so excellently good. Because. Today," I say. "I have something very special for you, and someone very special for you to meet. Give a hand to Rebecca. She got on my staff. She came all the way to California. From?"

"D-Delaware."

"Which city?"

"W-W-Wilmington."

"Wilmington! Tell me something, Rebecca. Is that a little bit of a stutter I hear?"

"Yes."

I look at the crowd.

"Do you know what we're going to do today?"

Everyone claps.

"What are we going to do today?"

Voices from here and there come through with fragments.

"Clear her stutter!" "Make her stop stuttering!"

I look only at Rebecca.

"Today we're going to clear your stutter, Rebecca. You've come to the right place!"

Overwhelmed, Rebecca covers her face with both hands.

"That's right, girl. Today we're going to clear your stutter."


Rebecca is blushing. Cameras surround us. Looping. Zooming. Press record. She covers her face with her hands. Tears in the corners of her eyes. A reporter from the LA Times is here. A reporter from the NY Times is there. Rebecca is looking to me for help.

I grab her hands. Pull them away from her eyes.

The short girl stands up on her toes. I put my hands on her shoulders. She settles.

"Are you ready?"

"I'm scared," she says extremely quietly.

"What was that?" I say!

"I'm scared!" she shouts.

"That's ok. You're among friends. Right?" I say to the audience.

"That's right!" everyone shouts.

"It's ok to be scared," I tell her. "What's not ok, is refusing to change. But that's not what I see you doing. Is that what you see her doing?"

"No!" says the crowd.

"No!" I say. "No. You are not a 'no' person, Rebecca. You are a 'yes' person. You came out on stage. You're willing to change. Now what I need you to do is believe. Do you believe in me?"

Rebecca nods.

"I know you do. What I need you to do now is believe in yourself. There's a reason you stutter. It has been with you since your childhood. Something neurological. Something from your youth. Do you remember when you started to stutter?"

"It's been there since I can remember."

"Do you ever remember a time when you spoke clearly?"

She shakes her head.

"I even stutter in my dreams."

"Wow. Isn't that complete. Your stuttering has even taken over your dreams. It comes to you in your sleep, when you're in a dream state. That would not require you to stutter. You see what I'm saying? When you're in your dream state, your brain has taken on what started out as a brain-body interaction. And it has made that real to you. Do you believe that your stuttering is real?"

Rebecca shrugs.

"Don't get shy. You were committed backstage. I need you to commit here."

"Ok," she breathes in.

"Have you ever had a dream where you did not stutter?"

"Yes."

"Ok!" I say. "I want you to close your eyes. Hold onto my hand so you keep your balance. Close your eyes. Go deep. Deep deep deep. You are alone in a room. Sleeping. Dreaming. You realize you're dreaming. You're speaking with someone. Who is it?"

"My-my dad."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm asking him to stop playing."

"What's he playing at, Rebecca?"

"We're playing a game where I act for him and he tells me whether it's good."

"Rebecca. What are you feeling?"

"I feel sick."

"Why?"

"Because! He's tri-tricking me!"

"How old are you, Rebecca?"

"I'm five. Four or five."

"Tell me how he's tricking you."

"He's telling me the wrong things! When I'm good he says bad. When I'm bad he says good."

"Is he doing it on purpose?"

"Yes!"

"And you are not stuttering."

"No."

"Guess what, Rebecca."

"What."

"You're not stuttering."

"In this dream I'm not stuttering, no."

"Guess where else you're not stuttering."

"Where."

"In the room. In the big room in the conference where you've come to work."

Sharp inhale from Rebecca.

"Keep your eyes closed."

Rebecca nods. She inhales. Strong. Woman. Independent.

"You are in a room with three thousand people."

She nods again.

Tears are coming through her eyes.

"Tell me why you started stuttering in the first place."

"To make myself unintelligible."

"To who?"

"My dad."

"It's so simple all of a sudden, isn't it."

She squeezes my hands.

"Rebecca. You can open your eyes now."

And she does.

And she looks around the room.

Everyone is silent, including me.

Rebecca drops one hand, holds my other one, and looks over the crowd.

You could hear a pin drop.

Then the crowd erupts.

Clapping.

Screaming.

"The girl who stuttered is now the girl who speaks clearly."

Screaming madly.

"From her core."

Don't you ever forget this, I say with my eyes.

"Don't you ever forget this," I say with my voice.

"Everyone! Rebecca!"

She turns to go backstage.

"Thank you. Thank you."

"Oh you can go," I say.

She laughs, embarrassed.

"But we're not done with you. I'm going to work with them for a while. But we're bringing you back. I'm not done with you by a long shot. Rest up, Rebecca. You'll be back out here before you know it."

And Rebecca goes around the side of the curtain, backstage.

"That is just a single example of how change can happen in an instant." Cheers. "You've seen it now. You've seen it right before your eyes and you've seen it work with a skeptic!" Cheers. "I just met Rebecca back stage. We don't know each other from Adam. You believe that shit. You better believe. 'Cause if you've brought your money, your appearance, your previous accomplishments, that's nothing. Belief is everything. Say it with me: Belief is everything! Now say it without me: Belief is everything! Now whisper it: Belief is everything. Religions call it faith. I call it pure, unadulterated, belief. You believe the sun, every day, is going to rise. Don't you? Do any of you disbelieve that the sun will rise tomorrow? No. Do any of you disbelieve the sun will set today? No. Of course you don't. Belief works on a small scale, for the same reason that no one doubts your belief in the sun. The sun, all these celestial objects: They are so much bigger than us that we take their motion as an act of faith. When I say 'faith' that's all I'm talking about! You have faith in the sun, so why don't you have faith that you were put here by something, or nothing, and that that something or nothing is bigger than you. That it, in a sense, has a plan. And it is a plan that is so much bigger than you that you do not understand. And I'm not talking about 'God.' Any atheists here? Christians? Muslims? Yeah. Well get this: We're all in this together and whether your belief is in God, or the Earth, or Mother Nature, or the planet itself, faith is a powerful tool that you can use to cross impossible distances. That's why you're here, isn't it? To cross an impossible distance? A chasm? Aren't you up against something in your life that you cannot handle? Wouldn't a Higher Power come in hand right about now? Any AA people here? NA? CA? MA? Welcome. You are as welcome here as a Christian in God's arms. As welcome here as an addict at rehab! As welcome as the most venerated creature is on this planet we call home. Got me? I said do you got me? Good. Right now. Write it down if you need to. Take your tablets. Open a new page. Write down what you have faith in. As simply as possible. Name it 'God.' Name it 'Planet.' Name it 'Me!' Then I want you to go inside yourself. Go deep deep deep. Go deeply. Go inside. Go into your word, your name, talk to it, pray to it, ask it for help, demand help. This is the thing you are giving the power to help you, to save you. Think of that. You are deciding on the concept to whom you will give yourself over. Give yourself completely. You are giving It the power to help you and to save you. So who is god now? If you are giving over the keys to your defenses to the thing you wrote down, that means you are the god in this situation. You are your own higher power. Think of that. Feel it. When you pray, when you ask the ether for help, you have already given over the power to change you to this concept you have designated. That is your higher power. The higher power within you. You trust your god? What does that mean? You give your power to god? What does that mean? It means that you are in control. It means that you are more powerful than your own god. That might make some of you uncomfortable. Good. Right? Good. That's it. Write in your tablets. Take time with yourself. Go deeply in. I'm taking a 10 minute break. When I come back we're going to share what you wrote. I'll see you soon!"


Running back stage. Rebecca is there. Waiting for me.

She runs with me as I head for my jump rope.

I grab it from the hook and start jumping. Gotta keep my heart rate up between segments.

"How did you do that?" Rebecca says.

"I told you."

"But it doesn't make sense."

"I never said this shit made sense."

"So. Have faith?"

"That's what you did, isn't it?"

"No. I don't know. I tried having faith before."

"Did you do it in a room full of three thousand people who were all rooting for you?"

This taut little girl. Nylon shorts. Stretch top, short sleeved. Red hair in pigtails. Just like I like 'em. She's bouncing with me as I jump rope.

"I tried faith," she says. "I tried belief. I tried NLP. I even listened to your audio guides and they did not work by the way so how, when I stand out there among three thousand people does this motherfucking shit work?"


"Why? Why didn't they work for you?"

"I don't know! I'm asking you!"

I step off the jump rope.

"I guess you were hoping for some scientific method? Ask a question. Create your hypothesis. Perform an experiment. Right? I'm sorry, Rebecca. That's just not how this works. I do a fire walk, right? Lay out a sidewalk full of coals. Everyone starts at one end. I go first. Walk the length of it. Does it burn me? No it does not. There's nothing scientific about that. Least nothing in terms of our science. The world is a big place. When you get burned, that's your body reacting to the heat. It's your skin that's burning itself. Think about it. A rash appears. Boils. Scars. What is that? Is that the coals? No. It's your skin. It's your skin's reaction! You can cause the same effect by putting ice on a person's feet or back. The trick is you never tell the person you're touching them with ice. You say it's a coal, then you touch the person on their back. They jump, 'cause they're expecting heat. But guess what happens? They scar. A burn reaction. From ice. So today? What happened? You believed that what I was doing would work. That's all."

"I believed it would work."

"Yeah."

"Why."

"I have no idea. Maybe 'cause you were in a room filled with three thousand people. A large portion of them believed your stuttering would be healed. You made a leap of faith."

"Faith?"

I shrug.

"Faith?" Rebecca screams.

"Listen. Rebecca."

"Fucking faith?"

"It surprises me at least as much as it surprises you. Believe me. Faith is just the word I'm using to get through to you. Replace it with anything: Belief. Confidence. Sleight of hand. You name it, it works every time. Rebecca. Fucking: listen up! Two paths are before you now. One: You continue to believe. Just believe that you don't have to stutter. That's where you are now. To keep down that path all you have to do is never, ever doubt your new reality. Two: You stop believing that it works, even though you have evidence before your eyes that it works. You no longer stutter. That's true right now, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"So. Path number two: Stop believing. For whatever reason, stop speaking normally and go back to stuttering. This path is almost infinitely easier than the path of faith, of belief."

"I just spent so much time in my life getting rid of fucking faith, of religion, of all that bullshit God stuff!"

Cherie breaks in, standing next to Rebecca and facing me.

"Marty. You've got 10. I need to talk to you about the starts."

"Ok, one second."

I look Rebecca straight in the eyes.

"I have also spent a lifetime grappling with the God stuff. I don't believe any of it, except how Jesus and the prophets made real change in people's lives based on their faith. I can't escape, not that Jesus was God or the son of God or that Buddha reached enlightenment or any of that. But just that they were programmers. They reprogrammed our brains. That is why they work. That is why they affect us still to this day. You don't have to embrace religious hate to get something out of Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha. I'm sorry, Rebecca, but I have to go. Please go back to doing whatever you do for me so that we can get on with our show."

"I fill your water bottles."

"Please. Go. Fill them."

"This is just a show to you."

"It's not just anything. But it is a show."

Rebecca looks shocked.

"The show is what fixed your speech. Never forget it. We heal ourselves through the show. You and me both. I have to go now."

Rebecca backs away, disappears into the web of black-shirted individuals milling around backstage. Cherie movies in and goes straight into the starts:

"I've got a man from Pennsylvania who just lost his job as a property developer. He's worked there for 20 years."

"Skip."

"I've got a set of twins from the cheap seats whose father died as part of a riding lawnmower accident."

"Put them next."

"Ok. I have. In the regular seats. An anorexic woman. She's had it her whole life."

"Put her first. Her. Then the twins."

"Done. From the sound of it, that girl is having trouble accepting her new life."

"She is. Her shit might not take."

"Like in the sense of."

"Like in the sense of she's the doubting Thomas of this conference. Scientist. She'll pick the scab until it bleeds. Keep an eye on her for me."

"No problem. More starts?"

"Baby, no. Thank you. Program those into my HUD. I need to keep my heart rate up."

Cherie kisses me.

I pick up my jump rope.

Skip, skip.

I feel my Parkinson's. Jumping rope helps work out my arms, helps work out my legs. If I go fast enough it's almost like I don't have it. But little jerks, stiffness, uncontrolled movements. Some people don't even notice that I have it. Mainly I'm the one affected. I'm not supposed to drive. I cannot eat at a normal table: the dishes would fly everywhere. But with jumping rope, riding my bicycle, I can work it out so that no one in my audience even notices.

I am your guru.

I have motherfucking Parkinson's disease.

I jump around that stage like a motherfucking kid.

When I hold your shoulders, that's double duty: I hold you up spiritually. I'm holding myself up physically. When I bound onto the stage, that's to hide that I can hardly walk. At night in bed with Cherie, I grip the headboard with one hand and hold Cherie with the other. The gripping hand is to keep me stable. Without it I would jerk my body all over the bed, unable to hold my girlfriend in stillness like a normal man.

And what I hope nobody ever asks is: Why can't you solve your Parkinson's with your own science, with NLP?

I hope nobody ever asks me that.

I have no answer.


I am falling apart as I age.

Dark spots on my elbows due to obsession and genius. They're places where I refuse to wash, or wash occasionally, or wash obsessively. Thought they were dirt spots at first, now realize they come from aging skin. I'm above the half now, hurtling toward death and whatever that brings.

My knees pop when I walk. Not Michael Jackson style, ancient style, aging style. Know not when they started, just know that they are a symptom of aging, my own. Even though I don't look it, I'm in my 50s now, close to retirement. I'm at the age where everything is supposed to fall together in work. And I guess it has.

I eat less, and on a strict diet.

I exercise six days out of seven.

Some afternoons I just give up and fall asleep on the couch watching Hulu. I have my list of movies I have not seen, that I'm too scared to watch. Then I have my list of movies I watch all the time. Those are like: Apocalypse Now, Juno, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The movies I'm too scared to watch aren't scary movies. They're movies I want to watch but I'm afraid they'll be a waste of my time. Movies like: Godfather III, Young Adult, and there are a lot of Spielberg movies on this last list, actually. Like War of the Worlds. I've met Spielberg, and I want to be able to talk about his movies with him, but with the later ones I can't.

So Cherie goes to her room after I fall asleep into my old man sleep and I wake up during the end credits of Raiders, some top secret janitor pushing the Ark down that impossible walk. He pushes it to the very, very back. But in all our minds, that warehouse doesn't even have a back. It's infinite, hiding all those government secrets that will never be revealed until three lifetimes from now, when no one who cares is still alive. And we just think about it like World War II. It's public knowledge that we started that war, that Pearl Harbor was a false flag. Right now it's knowledge around the edges. In another generation it'll be taught in the school books. In that generation such knowledge will hardly be incendiary, controversial, it'll be presented like "This is old news!" and little thought will be given to the fact that your great grandparents thought they were fighting a US invasion.

That's how history works.

Well, that's how it works in the age of government.

I buy toe fungus cream.

Fat-free ice cream.

This little belt thing that holds in my belly fat.

Everywhere I turn, something else is starting not to work.


That's one-thousand one, one-thousand two.

Swing swing swing, cross cross cross. Swing. Swing. Swing.

That's one-thousand eleven. A thousand more to go.

Quickly.

Quickly before Cherie comes by to tell me I have to go out again.

I love it there.

But I love it in here slightly more.

In here. Backstage. With the ropes and the dark walls, pulleys, catwalks, hidden doors. People running this way and that, pulling people from the sides to interview them, get our starts. You have to be careful with the starts: Some people want to get onstage. At this level of payment you don't get too many who want to sabotage you. But anyone who surely wants to be onstage, I surely do not want to put there.

My staff is trained in picking these people out. They're, first of all, they're the people raising their hands. Don't ever pick those. You look for the shy ones, the ones making eye contact with you but literally sitting on their hands. Wouldn't want you to think they had some sort of problem. Wouldn't want to think they have a problem to solve! But everyone who comes here has a problem to solve. We try to pick a few that gives the broad spectrum of life problems. I call them opportunities. And everyone has them.

"What about this guy? He has three kids high school aged. The mom left. This guy wants to put his kids through college."

"Why do I want to speak to him?"

"To help him put his kids through college."

"No, we don't want that one. Everyone has that problem. Send his kids to community college. Problem solved."

"Ok we have a woman, 22, eating disorder."

"You know I'm tired of eating disorders! I think they want some other kind of conference?"

"There's a man in the second row, fishing hat. Whole bunch of little thingies hanging down."

"I'll take him."

"You didn't even let me tell you his problem."

"I can guess. What are the little thingies? Are those fishing tackle? Bait?"

"I think so, it's gross."

"Did he buy the hat or did he make it? You know? Did he put those little thingies in it?"

"Made it. Definitely. This is a one of a kind hat."

"I'll take him and put him first. Who's next?"

"Don't you want to know his problem?"

"Cherie, Cherie. I already know his problem."

"What is it?"

"You think I'm going to tell you?" I smile.

Cherie stands outside the jump rope orbit.

She says: "You are going to tell me."

She points between her legs.

"This is my cunt," she says. "Which you like."

"Which I like very very much."

"Which you are not going to get if you don't tell me what is up with the man in the fishing hat."

"Like not going to get tonight?" I ask. "Or not going to get ever?"

"Ever," says Cherie, and she starts to go.

"Wait, Cherie."

I stop jumping but continue holding onto the ends of the rope so that when I talk I can use the handles and the rope itself as gesture points.

I step to Cherie and wrap her in rope and arms.

I whisper to her.

"The man. In the fishing hat. Why does he have to wear that in here? Is anyone else wearing a hat?"

Cherie shakes her head.

"So this guy is the only person in that entire room of 3k-plus people who is covering his head."

"There might be some Jewish people in there."

"Did you see any?"

"No."

"So this guy. This fucking guy! He's the only person in my seminar who insists on keeping his head covered?"

"I guess so!"

"What's his fucking problem?"

"I don't know!"

"Know what?"

"I don't know why his head is fucking covered!" Cherie says.

"Well I'm going out there!"

"Don't you want to finish your jump roping?"

"There's no point now! Where is this guy?"

"He's in B-117."

"Well let's go."

"Go ahead!" Cherie laughs.

"Oh you think this is funny?" I ask her. "You think this is fucking funny? I'm taking you out there and you're going to heal him. Go ahead. I'm after you!"

So Cherie lowers her headset onto her neck and heads toward the curtain.

I follow behind her, never admitting to my beautiful Cherie that I have no idea what is wrong with the fisherman. His hat interests me. Diagnosing him should be no problem. But the real person on the hot seat is my love, my dear Cherie, whose cheeks turn bright red when she's embarrassed, and who I am priming for our night together in the Westlake Village Four Seasons, the penthouse, top floor, room service, the biggest bed I've ever seen and my naked Cherie kneeling on the sheets, her cheeks, her ears, and this spot above her tummy red as fire.


Making love with Cherie is a blessed thing. I hate to use that word as 'blessed' is somehow godlike, somehow holy. But if we may extract from that word its godliness and leave only its holiness, that may have it. Having caught for a moment a creature of some non-religious holiness, writhing in white sheets, letting herself come undone, rolling face down in the hotel bed.

We have our own bed, of course, but when we go to Westlake and stay in the Westlake Four Seasons, it's still special. Still special like the love we traded in slightly younger years. I was still famous when we first came here. The staff recognized me. And when we reserved the penthouse and they brought us up it seemed special, to them, to me, and to Cherie.

That heavy door closing for the first time upon us, leaving us helpless, captors of this special space and captive to our every whim, fucking in the shower, in the bathroom before the shower, in the bedroom before and after, hiding ourselves away in a stairwell, making out, kissing her, feeling her up, feeling her down, we were just like high school kids in this place.

Cherie ordering cheeseburgers up and we watched The Goonies on demand, both naked on a couch, Cherie with a bottle of champagne and me with a tiny glass of goat's milk. By the time we finished our meals the Goonie kids were playing the organ and Andy's panties were showing and Cherie was half-drunk when she said:

"Are those Kerri Green's panties?"

"Honey! I showed you this before."

"I must have been drunk."

"You were drunk."

I pause, press rewind. Show her the clips. Every spot, from beginning to end, with Kerri's panties showing, with commentary from me:

"And this final panty shot, here in the belly of the ship, is the most complete, the longest, the most completely visible of all the Kerri Green panty shots in the film. She was 18 when they shot this so I guess on that basis it's ok for us to watch and enjoy. Is this getting you horny?"

Cherie rubs my crotch and says: "Yes."

"Why don't you see if there's a porn channel."

"No, I don't think so. I feel you getting harder."

"Are you planting a suggestion?"

"A suggestion? Like from your show?"

Cherie crouches above me, bottle of champagne in one hand, her other hand running through her own brown hair, her tits firm underneath my hands, each nipple hard, Cherie's pussy wet against my cock and she rubs me with her tight tight hole until I'm somehow inside her. And she fucks, she fucks till we go to sleep, waking up an hour later to The Goonies, again, playing on repeat, Cherie moving me to the bed and us both lying naked on top of the sheets.

I wake up at 2am to Cherie sitting up on a stack of pillows with a pint of Chunky Monkey balanced on top of her knees, her spoon forgotten between us, leaving a stain on the bed.

She is the most beautiful girl I ever met.

She holds me captive every time I see her.

Every time I see her it's like the first time I did.

Every time I see her, for the first time in a day, it's like she's a new person, tuned down a couple of years, the most confident person in the world. Someone who breathes confidence, who breeds it, Cherie was never fat in front of a mirror in Memphis trying to change her life. She was born with it, born into that sorority of women who never have to try. My Cherie looks even more beautiful when she doesn't have makeup. My favorite view of her is in the shower. She's in, I'm out. And she sits on our shower floor and clips her fingernails and I watch her from the sink where I'm trying to be shaving and washing my face but all I can ever do is watch Cherie's face as she takes a break between nails and leans her head back and her skin and her hair make such a contrast with the shower tile. And she looks at me.

"Can we watch something else?" I say, about The Goonies.

"No! I'm getting something out of this. Can't you see?"

Cherie slaps my belly with her spoon and never looks away from the screen.

I secretly watch her.

I pretend I'm going back to sleep, but I secretly watch her.

And in the TV dark, with Cherie's eyes on the screen, I run my thumb through the ice cream on my belly and bring it to my mouth. And I watch her watching the film and I'm happy. This is my success. This is the result of The Guru Principle.


As we approach the curtain, I think how Cherie could belong to any man in this auditorium, excluding me, and I know I must work for Cherie, work every day. Work to make Cherie the girlfriend of the richest man she can get with. She's not a climber. I'm lucky there. She doesn't flirt with richer men when we meet them. She never mentions Eleanor. Not one time has Cherie mentioned her.

And as the curtain opens, as Cherie lets me go first.

And as the crowd hurrahs.

And as Cherie comes out behind me.

And as the lights go wild.

And as the inflated balls are thrown into the crowd, and as people lift their bodies to reach them when they come around. And as Cherie and I hold hands. And as the people scream, I think I know why they came here. I think, I feel, the reason these people have come here is the same reason you go to that cool kid's house in high school: You want to feel good. And the cool kid makes you feel good. Not that typical cool, not cool for its own service. But cool, the real cool, is that girl or boy who listens to you and makes you feel better by the time the night is over.

As sex improves one's point of view. As sex creates your mood, so have all these people come to see me. As everything I say is ultimately designed to make them feel good. Maybe not at first, but a few hours into it. Or maybe by the last minute of the last day. But sometime, most of the people here will feel good and experience something they never have before. They will leave, glad they spent their money here, and some of them will have their lives changed, given a second start. That will be a very small minority. Very small. But for them, this trip will have been worth the effort.

The ball magic stops. My aides, hidden throughout the audience, will catch them and stow them away. The lights will calm themselves, settle on medium bright. The crowd will finally go quiet, unhappy to start work again, unhappy to let the fun slide away.

I will step to the center point and say:

"How was your break?"

They cheer.

"Good. 'Cause now it's over."

The crowd laughs.

"Now it's time to work. It's good to play, like kids. But I want you to put your kid selves away and get your adult selves out. Unzip your costumes. Zip up up up! And out! Your adult selves are in there somewhere. They don't like being called out. In fact, they're unhappy with the fact that you've covered them up this long! So take off your kid costumes! You can set them underneath your chairs. And let's see what you all look like as a room full of adults who have real jobs and paid a lot of money to come to this conference. That's it. Put those kid costumes away. Now I hear that there is someone here who needs help. Yes. His name is Ronnie Kremer and he's in the second row right about here! Hello Mr Kremer! Are you ready to have your world rocked?"

I step to the man in the fishing hat.

Cherie follows close behind me.

"Ronnie. Step out please."

He takes his fishing hat off. He steps out in the open, where I am, between the first row and the stage.

Cherie goes into seat B-117 and takes Ronnie's hat. She brings it out in the open.

"Take your hat. Put it on. What is this hat for?"

"Fishing."

"Are you fishing here in Westlake?"

"No sir."

"You don't have to call me sir. In fact, I forbid it! Do not call me sir again!"

"Ok, sir, I will not. It's hard when you're from Louisiana and some guy from California tells you not to say 'sir.'"

"I'm familiar with that," I say.

"You're familiar with what?"

"With cultural differences. I'm from Memphis, Tennessee and I've been to Rome. I've been to London. I've been to all these places in the world and every one of them has their own customs, their own rules. Cherie, take over."

I step backward and Cherie takes my spot.

"I've been to all these places in the world," she says. "Italy, Venezuela, Costa Rica."

"Don't they kill Americans down south?"

"Sometimes."

"How did you avoid it?" says the fisherman.

"I treat everyone like Jesus would," Cherie says.

"That's a good bet."

"So why did you come to this conference?"

"I want Mr Chance's help with my fishing."

"What's wrong with it?"

"I can't catch no fish!"

"That's 'cause you're fishing in Louisiana!" Cherie says.

"Louisiana is where I live," the guy says.

"After Deepwater Horizon there's going to be no fish," Cherie says.

"I know! That's my fucking problem."

"Have you considered fishing somewhere else?"

"Like where? Lake Charles is my home. I've been there since I was born."

"Ronnie. Mr Kremer."

"You can call me Ray."

"Ray. The Gulf of Mexico is dead. It's dead. And no city down there, Lake Charles, Beaumont, Galveston, none of them is going to have the fishing you're used to. Not in one year. Not in five years. Not even in the rest of your lifetime. It's sad but it's true. So what you're going to have to do, for your own happiness and your business and everything else, is move to a place where the fishing's still good. Do you have a family?"

"Yes."

"Well you're going to have to move them too."


"Let me try," I say. "Let me try. Cherie: Scoot."

I step forward. Cherie steps aside.

"What is the fucking problem here?" I shout it as loud as I can.

"Excuse me?"

"I said: What is the fucking problem here?"

"You ain't gotta curse at me!"

"I'm using the language that I am because I want to get your attention."

"The young lady had my attention."

"Apparently not!" I say. "Apparently you have some hesitation about moving. The sea you are fishing in is dead, sir. It's dead. You have about as much a chance of fishing the Gulf as you do of fishing the Sahara. Do you know what the Sahara is?"

"A big fucking desert."

"That is correct, sir. Ray. You are stuck in a rut."

"But I have to move my entire family?"

"The Gulf of Mexico is a desert."

"We live there. My kids grew up there."

"Look me in the eye and tell me which is worse: Fishing in a desert or keeping your family fed?"

"I don't know."

"Yes you do! You do know! You know and you're keeping it from, not me, not all these people, but you, yourself, and that's it. You didn't come here asking about your fishing methods. You came here asking about the fish. I don't think your fishing needs improvement."

"It doesn't."

"Then what is left, Ray? What is left?"

"I guess the Gulf."

"I hate to be the one to tell you, but it is the Gulf. There's nothing wrong with you. It's the fish! The fish are the problem here."

Ray looks at the floor.

"I'm trying to see your way on this, Mr Chance."

"Don't call me Mr Chance!"

"Why not?"

"'Cause we gotta break you out of patterns, Ray. We gotta break you out of every pattern you're in. What do you do with your workday?"

"Go to the Gulf and fish."

"In what? What kind of boat do you have?"

"A pontoon boat, sir."

"Call me sir one more time I'll end this fucking interview."

"I'm sorry! You're putting me under stress with talking to her, then talking to you."

"Are you also stressed because of them?" I indicate the whole room.

Ray turns to look them over.

"They're here for you," I say. "Each and every one of them paid ungodly amounts to be here, and they're here to listen to exactly what you say next."

Ray says: "I'm a poor man."

"You can't be poor if you came to this conference."

"I saved."

"How long did you save?"

"Three years."

"That's a lot of money, isn't it."

Ray nods.

"That's a lot of birthday presents for your kids."

"You're telling me."

"No. You're telling me. What are your kids' names?"

"Bradford and Martha."

"How old are they?"

"Eleven and six."

"So you've been saving, to come to this conference, since Martha was three years old."

Ray wipes a tear off his face.

"How are you going to pay for Martha's college?"

"No one in my family ever went to college."

"Well you don't have to go to college. I never went to college. Is that something you have to do, or to have Martha do, in order for you to feel successful?"

"I don't know, Mr Chance."

"Let's figure it out! Everybody, give Ray a round of applause. Show Ray your love! You're welcome here, Ray, and we're going to love you till you learn to love yourself."

Cherie gives Raymond a hug.

The crowd cheers for Raymond.

"It's just Ray," he says.

"Oh, is that not what I said? Ray, close your eyes. Visualize Martha walking down the aisle in a cap and gown. Picture yourself dropping her off at college. Do you have it?"

Ray nods.

"How does that feel?"

"I'm sorry to say it doesn't give me feelings at all."

"No need to be sorry! That feeling, or lack of feeling in your case, tells you how you feel about Martha going to college. If you had strong emotions imagining those things, that would indicate you had strong feelings about her going, but you don't, and that's ok. It shows you where your priorities are. Tell me this: if you think of Martha when she's 22, do you see her on your family fishing boat? The pontoon? Or some other boat?"

Ray smiles. "I can see that."

"You see that? How do you feel inside your body right now? Pick a body part. How do you feel in your chest, in your tummy?"

"Warm."

"Mmm! Do you hear that, folks?"

"Can I open my eyes."

"You can do whatever you want with your eyes. But you see that? Ray feels warm. Does that mean that Martha will grow up to be a fisher woman? Of course not. But Ray would rather see her as a fisher than a college grad. What does that mean? It doesn't mean that he should squelch Martha's actual desires. If she comes to you and says she's going to college in Massachusetts, are you going to challenge her?"

"Of course not."

"Of course not! Hopefully you'll help her in any way possible."

"I would do anything for her."

"How about not growing up in poverty? See how that works? I mean, why are you working? You just love sea fishing that much, you'll do it in your spare time when you retire?"

He laughs.

"It's difficult, sir, to imagine living somewhere else. My kids know the Gulf. What if I have to move them out of the country? You know? I don't want to fuck with their education. Plus they have friends. They do sleepovers. My wife makes these seafood chocolate bars that are amazing!"

"Are you done? Yeah? I'm going to turn you over to Cherie. Go ahead, darling."

I step aside and Cherie moves in.

"You can change yourself, sometimes, to adapt to the environment. Like if someone's talking next to you and it's annoying, say. What can you do?"

"Leave, ignore, plug my ears."

"Yes! From what I see, you're trying to change yourself to make the Gulf of Mexico full of fish. But that's not going to work. What if it's cold outside? What do you do?"

"Put on a coat."

"That's right," Cherie says. She touches Raymond's shoulders. That's the only thing you can do. That's how we deal with cold. Unless the cold is killing all your fish, so to speak. That situation in the Gulf is going to take your entire lifetime to heal, maybe more. Ray. You've got to get a truck."

"A U-Haul," I say.

"Ray you've gotta get yourself a U-Haul, pack that fucker to the gills, put your kids in between you and your wife, drive from the Gulf to Massachusetts, and follow the fish."

"I could do that."

"Follow. The. Fish," Cherie says. "Imagine your family. Picture them. What do you see?"

"I see three baby eggs in a basket."

"That's beautiful, Ray. Who are you?"

"I'm just a guy looking at them snug in their basket."

"No. You're more involved. Look harder. What do you see?"

"I'm the fourth egg. Can I be the fourth egg? I'm right there next to them. Maybe that's it. Maybe I'm the fourth egg."

"That's not all," Cherie says. "Look up. What do you see?"

"The mother bird. Is that me? Yes." Ray takes off his hat. "That's the big momma bird. That's me."

Ray drops to his knees like he's praying, reaching out to hold my hands and Cherie's. The crowd goes wild. Raymond looks into the lights on the ceiling of this auditorium and I see his lips move.

I see him mouth the words.

"Please, God, make this be over."


"Did you see what that guy said?"

"What did he say?"

"At the end, he looks to the sky and says: 'Please, God, let this be over!' What the motherfuck."

Cherie wraps her arms around me.

"He did not say that."

"Yes he did, that little bitch."

"That guy paid a year's wages to come here and he says, 'God please let this be over!' What the fuck, man. You're killing me, here."

"Use your own science."

"I will."

"Right now. Come here. Get in this corner. Who are you?"

"I'm the most powerful person in the room."

"Who else?"

"I'm your boyfriend."

"That's right. Have fun with it. At the end of the day you still got the guy's money."

"Yeah, that's very well but I'm not here for the money."

"Aren't you?"

"I'm here to practice my skills. To help people. But I cannot help someone like that. Someone who is praying to his god that I disappear from his view. As soon as possible. I expect people to not get it. I expect them to resist. I expect them to complain. I do not expect them to pray to their motherfucking god that I go away!"

"It's messed up."

"It is messed up."

"That guy is messed up."

"That's what I'm saying."

"Jump it out."

"I will."

"Do it back here. I'll get your rope."

"Don't go. Don't go just yet."

"Talk to me, baby."

"It's just. I never used to get that. That guy, I call the satan in the room. He's not here to fuck with me. He's trying to get through the weekend. He's not happy that I picked on him. Damn, I wish that guy had said anything but that. He's in my retreat, doing weird shit. That guy is satan because he's the salt to my slug. Of all the things I want to do in that room, dealing with not only a nonbeliever, but an anti-believer, is not what I want to fucking do!"

"I know. So: Ignore him."

"Right."

"Or save him. Pull him out again. Work with his ass."

"Right!"

"This is nothing, dear," my sweet Cherie says.

"This is nothing!" I yell, loud enough for the audience to hear. "This is nothing," I whisper. "Not, a, goddamn, thing. I know I can deal with this guy. This is my room. Would a guy like this have phased me in my 30s?"

"Would it?"

"I don't know. I don't know! Is this a crisis? I'm a billionaire. Why am I here? Should a billionaire have to deal with these problems?"

"You're here for fun," Cherie says.

"Am I?"

"Baby. Yes."

"Am I really though?"

"Yes!"

"But is this fun?"

"It's helping people. It's what you say you love."

"I'm sorry, boo. Cherie. My deep deep love."

"Hold me, boo."

I hug Cherie tightly, having to admit that I'm hugging her for her strength. I'm a child again. The babysitter. Bindy. Bulinda. Taught me the word "horny." Flirted with me as a teenager. She knew I could see up her sleeve. She knew. She was giving her 10-year-old charge a free peek for everyone's thrill. So what? I was 10. She was 13. We could have fucked. We could have had some fun. Fun was so dangerous back then. Today I'd have to fuck a kid to get that kind of excitement. Not that I would ever do that. Cherie is my stopgap. With her I couldn't go any younger. Cherie is young enough and fun enough.

I release her. She releases me.

"I guess the issue is, am I having fun?"

"Are you?"

"That's the problem. I don't know."


"Get that fisherman up here. Get that guy out. I'm working the fisherman."

"Reeling him in."

"Ha."

"Reeling in the fisherman."

"Ha ha ha. Funny joke, asshole. Get that guy out of bed and put him in the center of the stage."

Two guys dressed in black run toward the stage.

"What're you gonna do?" asks my beautiful, beautiful Cherie.

"I'm gonna spike him," I say. "I'm gonna punk him. I'm gonna let that guy know that if he wants to meet his maker before the end of this conference, that I can make that happen!"

"Letting him know, boss!"

"Thank you."

"Letting him know!"

"Thank. You. Go. Out. There. And set. That guy. On fire."

"Setting him on fire, boss."

"I'm serious. Set that motherfucker on fire."

"Setting the motherfucker on fire."

The two guys disappear into the front of the house.

I face Cherie.

"What I want you to do is play the good guy. Ok? I'm gonna rip that guy a new one and I want you to patch it up."

Cherie nods.

"Bring your fixing tools. Bring gauze. A pair of scissors. A surgical needle. Dental floss for stitches. And a Band-Aid so big it'll cover this guy's body and reach around for the edges of his soul."

"If you think that's necessary."

"Cherie, it's absolutely motherfucking necessary. I would say strap this guy to a chair 'cept I know it's not absolutely necessary. I'm gonna beat this guy up! I know that's crazy. That's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna go out there. And rip this guy. A new, motherfucking, asshole. Fuck! Hold me back, Cherie. Hold me the fuck back. It's all about timing right? Just one more minute. I'll be pumped up. I'll take my sword. Be a ninja crossing that stage, go to that guy from behind, cut his mother, fucking, head, off. Cut it the fuck off! Cherie. Cherie. You know I'm kidding, right?"

"I know you think you are."

"But? But what?"

"But you do have your swords over there. And you could pick one out. And you could go up on that stage. And you could cut that guy's motherfucking head off. If you wanted."

"Oh I see. I see. You think 'cause I show a little emotion that I'm actually in danger of cutting this asshole's head off. Well. That's not going to happen. I just have to feel it's a real possibility so I can NLP my way into how I want to feel when I'm around him. That is no accident. That is part of the training. NLP can topple the highest king. It empowers the weakest ant. With NLP I control my own nerves."

"In the case of the fire walk."

"Yes. And in every other case as well. With NLP, there is no mountain peak high enough, no Mariana Trench deep enough. I could fly our plane home, from Burbank to San Fran."

"If we were flying."

"I know: If we were flying! I know that! But I'm saying, I'm saying: If we were flying. If. If! I could walk up through that cabin door, relieve the captain of his command, and fly the motherfucking plane! I wish I had Changpu Almaguer here! God damn, Changpu Almaguer, where are you when I need you?"

"Who is Changpu Almaguer?"

"Cherie. Cherie! Who is Changpu Almaguer? He was at the house this last year! Who the fuck is Changpu Almaguer? What the fuck? He's the guy with all the books. A million bookshelves in his garage? With some Lamborghinis in there? Short little fucker? Blue hair? Anything? No? Fuck me. Cherie: Fuck me. If you're my girlfriend and you know my whole business then how is it possible you don't recall Changpu Almaguer."


His ad was the best part. People didn't think of it as an ad, that's all. He changed the game.

Here's how his ad went:

Open on Changpu. He's in a backyard garden. By the pool. There are a bunch of people sitting around, all hired by Changpu to fill the place. There are guys with suits. Girls in bikinis. The girls are drinking pink cocktails. Someone dives in the pool. Changpu comes into frame, his speech proceeds him.

"I'm Changpu Almaguer but you can call me Changpu. Changpu means 'simple' in Chinese. Forever simple. Want to see my garage?"

Then he walks away from the pool, through an above-head topiary which Changpu ducks below even though he could stand all the way through it. He presses open the garage door and inside, along the left, are two floor to ceiling bookcases packed with books. Changpu goes to one of them and says:

"If I had all this wealth without knowledge, what would that be worth? I read a book a day, every day, and that's how I've made this wealth. Knowledge is power, right? Whoever has the most knowledge has the most power. But that's not why I do it."

The camera pans right to show off his Lamborghinis. One black, one red.

"Those cars. Are sweet. But that's not what I'm all about. I'm not about the product. I'm about the knowledge that gets me there. Look. Here's a book. HTML For Dummies 3rd Edition. Have I read that? No. That's a book for another day, full of lessons that are also, for another day. I'm Changpu Almaguer. But you can call me Changpu for short. Why? Because I'm not about formality. Those guys by the pool out there? Those guys, those girls, they're all hired. Every one of them is collecting a check, from me, to stand there. To look beautiful. To look rich. But I am rich. I don't just look rich. I am every one of these books that I've read. I'm full. Full of knowledge. I'm not the rich guy by the pool, I'm the rich guy in the garage, who hired the rich-looking guys by the pool. See the difference? When I read these books, I am pumped full of knowledge. Like gas in your tank. How can a car go if it doesn't have gas? See?"

He said this like he'd made an obvious point, but one that mattered. Changpu runs his hands along the bookshelves, massaging the books, stopping ever so often to read one's title.

"Isn't this amazing? All this knowledge? When all those people out there go home, it's just me. Just me, in a garage, with all this knowledge, all to myself. To me, a good book is worth more than a whore in a pink dress. It's worth more than a pimp in a suit. All this money, thrown into good looks and flashy cars. Thrown into houses and bars and ocean liner yachts, into a thousand dollar dress stuck on a bitch, fake nails, makeup, that's all these bitches know! All those smiles out there? Fake. Old. Old news. Fake news. Whichever you desire. You want one of those girls in your bed? Let me tell you how to do it. It's as simple as a good book. Simple as me renting this mansion just to show you how simple it is. I rent a mansion for one hour. Throw a bunch of actors playing businessmen and a bunch of actresses playing their whores. Rent a couple of cars to put in the garage. A couple of bookshelves lined with books that you and I will never read. Get it? Here. Hand me that."

The jostling camera, handed to Changpu.

"Here's my cameraman. That's Josh. Get out of here, Josh. I want a moment alone with my people."

The camera points at Changpu.

He squeezes between the bookshelves.

It's close to his face, a confessional.

Changpu whispers:

"If you want to make changes in your life. Real changes. Follow me on YouTube and make a difference. A real difference. Follow me and read one book a day. That's all it takes. And when you've done that, when you've read as many books as I have, as many books as are on these two shelves, then you'll be ready. And I'll tell you part two of my secret, of how I got here and how much I love the knowledge that I have after reading these books."

That was Changpu's infomercial, his ad, his promotion, his whatever. There was nothing to buy. There was no part two. This guy rented an hour of time from a mansion, some actors, a couple flashy cars and those ridiculous bookshelves and made somewhere on the order of 40 million dollars. Where did the money come from? YouTube ads. You can see it on his profile. So many fucking people watched that idiotic infomercial that when Changpu monetized it, he was a millionaire overnight.

He didn't sell a thing, just ads.

He had no product, minimal overhead, and an idea that worked one time. After Changpu did that bookshelf ad, a book a day to get his Lamborghinis-and-a-mansion bullshit, no one else could do it again. Not even Changpu.

That was his secret. That was his trick.

It was ugly. It was disgusting. It was making money out of nothing. The guy had absolutely no skills. No books, no tapes, not jack fucking shit! He's just a great bullshitter. I hate him for that. He's a total hack. But his idea has a core of genius to it, and I respect him for that.


In fact, before I go ahead with fixing this fisherman, I'm going to tell you a little bit about my progenitors.

First: Jesus. Nuff said.

Then: Seneca. The original stoic. Roman. Adviser to Nero. Forced to kill himself with many small cuts. Writer of plays which were all tragedies.

Zoom ahead: Zig Ziglar. Expert at sales. Gave speeches to salesmen. This one I relate to. He wrote 30 books. Married at 17 to a 16 year old. His first book was rejected 39 times before it was published. He never gave up. Except to pneumonia at the age of 86.

There was Wayne Dyer. Positive thinking. Motivational speaking. His books: Wishes Fulfilled, Excuses Begone, The Sky's the Limit. All favorites of mine. Essential reads, if you want to understand me and where I came from. A self-made man. Wrote tons of books. Died in Hawaii.

Deepak Chopra of course. I find him to be somewhat of a Pop Buddhist. He's an entry point to Western self-help. But if you're two years in and still reading Chopra, there is something wrong. Quantum healing: By which you can heal your body to its perfect state, eliminating disease and the ability to contract disease. Science calls him pseudoscience. Transcendental meditator. Was friends with Michael Jackson. Critical of Rx meds. Medical establishments considers him a hack, an entrepreneur not a doctor. He focuses on selling to the upper class, three day seminars that cost what a poor person makes in a year. Sound familiar?

No illness, no pain. A person who cannot die.

This is what Chopra teaches. I have to say I agree with the immortality clause but I would never say that in one of my seminars. Spiritual being on a physical journey, all that.

Scientists call him a quack.

Chopra thinks AIDS is a sound that can be beaten by listening to another, older sound.

To Timothy Caulfield, a Canadian professor, Chopra is someone who uses the language of science to promote treatments that are not grounded in science: Chopra "legitimizes ideas that have no scientific basis and makes them sound scientific. Chopra is a fountain of meaningless jargon."

You have to know that someone receiving that form of criticism is either on the front of a waveform of the new sciences.

Or is completely full of shit.

I suppose you can guess which side of that I'm on.

Chopra believes that aging is a learned behavior. It can be unlearned and we can live forever. A radical idea, but I do support this. Possibility changes as time goes on. Something that was impossible yesterday is possible today, even with the human body and spirit. When we invent new technology and apply it to ourselves, possibility changes. Previously unconsidered outcomes exist widespread across the population. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.

Eckhart Tolle. Read about the guy. Definitely more of a spiritual approach than what I do.

Then there are the classics. Oldies but goodies. Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie, and of course Maxwell Maltz with Psycho-Cybernetics. That's a book I've bought and bought copies of. Given it away to people. Stressed them to read it. I guess when it comes to role models, it's Maxwell Maltz for me.

This brings us all the way back to Jesus. Not as religious leader, which he wasn't. But as a guru, as in The Guru Principle. As in: That one thing at the core of each of us, the ones I've mentioned plus an army of others, that one thing that makes us who we are. Which is the desire to make our lives better and to make lives better in the people all around us.

Then there are the posers. And this is hard to divide. But these are the more clearly controversial members of our clique. Ones who rope women into sex cults, branding them with the leader's initials, keeping a lid on things until a parent goes on CNN suspecting their daughters have been stolen by a cult.

There's Charles Manson and every cult leader. David Koresh was re-writing books of the Bible. They might be crazy but these guys' goal was the same. Jonestown. Jim Jones. You see a Bible verse as a kid. Latch onto it. Next thing you know you're so magnetic you have followers.

I'm not trying to kill anyone. That's part of what distinguishes me from some of these assholes. I'm interested in these twin pillars: Helping people, making money.

Helping people be a better version of who they are.

Making money. Collecting a fair value in return for the value I give.

There are a million false prophets.

There are a thousand posers, cult leaders, shit.

My love for people I help combined with my business savvy is why I am the richest self-help guru in history. The Guru Principle. If I was less interested in actually helping people then I wouldn't be so rich!

People come to me and they say, "I want your help in doubling or even tripling! my income in this next year." That's my department. That's what I'm here for. Give me your dissatisfied, your first world poor. Give me your CEOs and CFOs! Give me your small business owner who wants to take it to a franchise. Your NBA player who wants to increase three point shooting. Your president who wants to influence citizens in a deeper way. Your lobbyist who needs help enunciating his wishes. Your tech CEO whose goal is to increase the productivity of a Chinese factory.

I've worked with Kobe. Worked with Apple. What happens when Kobe wants to improve his game? He comes to me.

I'm not the hack you find in Changpu Almaguer.

I'm not the controversy inherent in James Arthur Ray.

Ray is a student of mine! And I'm not exceedingly proud that he is. James got his start as a participant at my Power of Me seminar in 1985! I can't speak to his morals. I can't speak to his attention to detail except to say that accidents happen. I've been sued over my fire walk, James has been sued, obviously, over his sweat lodge experience. That's not necessarily his fault. It's a business, right? The CEO of a business is not present at every function of the business.

But I have to watch my bank more seriously than that.

Because my bank is too large.

James Arthur Ray has made five million dollars. I've made a billion. That's what I'm good for for the rest of my life. That's my family. That's my ability to live. If you're James Arthur Ray, you do things like charge a year's salary to sit in a sweat lodge. With minimal supervision. Minimal barrier to entry. Minimal input, disastrous output. I have more to lose than he does. As much as I love the passion of a James Arthur Ray or the innovation of a Changpu Almaguer, that's not what I'm on. I'm not looking to become Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle. I'm not a real Buddhist like Pema Chödrön. I'm not Jesus.

And I never plan to be.

I'm Martin Kevin Chance, this is The Guru Principle, and this is where you come to really change your life. It's NLP, bitch. I'm not snake oil and I'm not religion. I'm not science. I'm not God. I'm not God's prophet. I'm Marty. Martin K Chance. Just a man of the Earth who's collected a handful of methods that you can use, in your mind, in your behavior, with your wife or your boss or your children, to raise you from the floor. To increase your buying power. To give you a leg up in your relationship. This is what I'm talking about. Your own ability to create massive change in an instant. Follow me. Listen. I will tear down the mystery and introduce you, step by step, to The Guru Principle and every secret contained within.


First this fisherman.

"Ronnie, Ron, Raymond, Ray Kremer. Come back out, please. From wherever you sit. There you are."

I'm matching his body posture, his speech patterns, his intonation. This is so I can switch in a minute and Raymond will switch, too.

"Raymond Kremer. Are you happy to be here?"

"I guess so."

"Well, see, that's the wrong answer."

Raymond is consterned.

"How much did you pay to be here?"

"Umm. That's a year's salary."

"You pay yourself in salary? Not by the hour?"

"I pay my workmen by the hour. For myself, I take the same amount each month. A little more if we're doing well. A little less if we're doing poorly."

"But basically you make the same amount each month, throughout the year."

"That is true."

"And you paid as much to attend this conference as you make in a year."

"Yes."

"Then why do you want it to be over?"

"Everyone does, don't they?"

"I don't know. Find out. Ask this guy right here."

"You didn't pick him out before and tell him what to say?"

"Really. You think I picked him out before the show and told him what to say. And now I'm directing you to him so that he will tell you what I want you to hear. Don't you think that's a little untrusting?"

"I just met you," Ray says.

"Ok. Then pick anyone from the front row."

Raymond looks at me.

"Wait. Wait a sec. You think that I have seeded this front row with people I know. That everyone in the front row is a confederate. You really believe that?"

"Sir, coming here I do not know what to believe."

"Pick anyone in the whole house, then! Pick anyone! Walk to the back of the room, throw a balloon and ask the person who catches it first! No one's off limits! Pick a person and ask them if they want it to be over. First day of the conference. First night. Pick anyone and ask them: Are you ready for this conference to be over. Are they so ready for this thing to be over that they are praying to their god for it to end."

"Wait a minute, sir."

"What should I wait for? For the conference to be over?"

"That was a figure of speech!"

"You knelt here and prayed to God that this be over!"

"What are you talking about, sir?"

"Don't call me sir. Do not call me sir. You knelt here before these people and you put on sort of a show. Admit that, please. I was genuinely trying to help you and you knelt on this floor and you said, you mouthed the words: Please, God, let this end!"

"So what?"

"So what! So I'm not the one lying. You knelt on my carpet and you put on a show. Admit it. Please, let these people know the truth."

"Won't that ruin your conference?"

"Why are you so worried about ruining my conference? Nothing you say is going to ruin my conference. Don't worry about the conference, please. The conference is solid, my man."

The crowd laughs.

I stare at Ray.

I say nothing for a long, long time.

Ray shifts from foot to foot.

He picks his thumbnail with his teeth.

He takes off his hat and folds it, straightens it, puts it back on his head.

I smile.

Ray smiles back.

I watch his shoes, and when he shifts his balance again I do the same thing as him. He looks up from his feet and I am watching him. Ray looks down. I look down. Ray looks to the side. I look to the side. Ray starts breathing quickly. I do the same.

"Are you just gonna stand there watching me all day? What do you want," he says.

"I already told you."

"Ok! Fine! I want the conference to be over. I spent three year's worth of savings to get here and I get here and you're scamming people into believing they're saved. I wish I had never spent the money on coming here. This conference is bullshit and you're bullshit."

"You think I'm bullshit?"

"Yes sir I do."

"I'm gonna refund your ticket price."

"No."

"Right now. Cherie, bring me my checkbook."

"You don't have to do that."

"I do. Ray. I do! I do. I came here to help you. I brought you here, in a way, by advertising in your area and regardless of what you think I brought you here to help you, primarily, not to make money off you. I come from where you are. I come from worse. I used to be in Memphis. My mom is a drug addict. I used to be in Memphis in a 400-square-foot bachelor apartment. I was fat. I was poor. All I did each day was watch TV. I was alone. Now I have a beautiful girlfriend, the lovely Cherie. Thank you Cherie! This is my checkbook. I'm going to write you a check. I'm going to leave the amount blank so you can fill it in for the true price of you coming here. You can do that. Here you go. Be sure and add in the cost of your flight."

"I drove here."

"Then add in your gas and mileage."

Ray laughs.

"You're giving me a blank check?"

"To reimburse your being here. So that you and I are no longer focused on cost, and we are more focused on value. What value do you want from me? It's not your daughter going to college. You seem ok with that. It's not the immediate specifics of your fishing. So write yourself a check and put it in your pocket and let's you and I get down to the, not the business, but the work, of healing you."


The fisher folds my check and puts it in his pocket.

I see his forehead clear. Worry lines dissipate.

He closes his eyes.

I lean into him.

"Are you ready? Are you ready for this?"

The man nods.

"What do you really want?"

"I want to expand my business," the man says.

"From what. To what."

"From almost broke to back to normal."

"Why go back to normal?" I say.

He opens his eyes.

"I want to be able to pay for my family!"

I close his eyes with my fingers.

"You want financial freedom for yourself and your family. Who would keep you from that? You're an American citizen. You want enough money. To. To what?"

"To be able to buy stuff for my kids!"

"Ok. You can have that. But you have to look out for yourself first. Financial independence is still possible in America. You think we're in a recession?"

"Yeah."

"You think the economy's bad?"

"Isn't it?"

"It seems good to me!" I say. "What is the evidence you have to support your idea that the economy is bad?"

"It's hard to sell stuff."

"You mean like fish for fish dinners when many Americans are saving their money for later, not going out to eat at all?"

"Yeah."

"Ray. You know what I see for you?"

"What."

"I see a life of unlimited abundance. Unlimited financial power. Love. Fatherhood. Business acumen. A higher IQ. A new boat. A new house. Where you can move all your family. I'm seeing this somewhere on the east coast. Maine. Your fishing boat turns into a crabbing boat. Maybe Alaska? Have you ever been to Alaska?"

"Nope."

"Want to go?"

"Not particularly."

"If you want to be rich, though, you'll have to make changes. You'll have to do whatever it takes to get there. Including give up all the advantages of living in the lower 48. Can you see this?"

"I could."

"Can you see it as an adventure?"

"I guess!"

"Because you know what's up there? Unlimited crabbing. Subject to limitation. Only the people who brave the cold can live up there. Are you an adventurer?"

"I guess."

"Are you a native of Louisiana?"

"I'm not. But my kids are."

"How can you sell this to them? I'm your kid. Sell it to me."

"Ok. Marty. We're moving to Alaska!"

"Why? My friends are here. My school is here. I can't go to Alaska!"

"Marty. Martin Chance. Have you ever been to Alaska?"

"No."

"It's perfect for the independent, the adventurous type."

"What about my friends?"

"You will make new friends but with your existing friends there's the internet. They have FaceTime in Alaska."

"That's good but you have to create a compelling future for your children just as you must create a compelling future for you and your wife. Is it going to be hard to get your wife to move?"

"Yes. Probably. Yes."

"Why?"

"'Cause she's born and raised in Louisiana. She'll throw up all this shit about family. Roots. The culture of an area."

"Sometimes you have to move to keep up."

"We can't move. It'll break us up, man."

"Why does a move have to break up your family?"

"Because. We know people. We have our grocery store, our bait store, our boat. Our friends all live there! You can't expect people to eliminate their homeland, move across the continent! It's not all about money."

"Raymond."

"Yes Mr Chance!"

"I want you to sit down and think about this for a while. If the economy in Louisiana is shit. And the economy in Alaska, for your kind of work, is better than shit, then, do you think you might be able to change this one little thing in order to save your family, your bank account, yourself? Are you willing to make this change? Or are you going to stay put, like the frog in a pot of boiling water, who stays until it absolutely is too late and you and your family are made homeless in the Gulf. That's what'll happen eventually. You know that now. Everyone in this room knows it: The Gulf of Mexico will be a seafood dead zone for decades. Are you going to stay there as that pot of water boils? Or are you going to make a change, now, that will set you and your family on a course to unlimited wealth, happiness, and material prosperity?"


This is a strong point. This point about moving.

You may think that people come from an area and they spend their whole lives in that area and they develop family and friends in a zone of the country or of the world.

That is how some families work. Old money clans from the northeast, New Yorkers, showbiz fams. If you're from one of those structures, you already have money. This doesn't apply to you.

If you're like Raymond, you think it's important where you live. The guy has friends and a church and they're all falling to shit. If you live in Louisiana you're going to be poor. ExxonMobil employees live there. But they're not rich. The owners of ExxonMobil are rich. And the owners of ExxonMobil don't live in Louisiana. For Raymond, those few family connections he has there, a short history of success and now mostly failure in the Gulf seem like the type of things you would never move away from.

But they are, if you want to change your life.

Towns increasingly don't matter, as places to live.

Your life goes with you like a turtle and its shell.

Unless you own shit, you have to move with the work.

That's the way the world works now.

You can move in an instant.

Follow the dollar.

You might think I'm being cruel. I'm not. It's just that having family connections somewhere is a thing of the past. I'm not saying it's good or bad. But continually choosing not to move is handicapping you, if you're like Raymond K. You have to decide. And decide means "to cut off" as we previously learned. See? That's the first step in the billionaire life. Don't think about where you live. Think about where you want to live!

Some people tell me this is cruel logic.

That it disenfranchises people, views them only as workers.

Well. What are we talking about here. Raymond didn't come here to learn how to be a punk, a sucker. He came here to be a winner! To shave away what is unnecessary. To embrace the riches of life! I'd be lying to you if I said it didn't come with some sacrifice. Everything that's worth something requires sacrifice. That is the difference between people coming to my conferences and people coming away from my conferences with a kernel of change that will transform their whole life.

Is this politicized? Either left or right? Do you want to know which party I belong to, to say such things?

I guess there's one surefire way to tell.

Do I have to help you?

It's a certainty.

I'm a billionaire. Of course I'm Republican.


But I'm not a crazy Republican. I'm not hardcore. When Trump separates children from their parents at the Mexico border, I'm not singing in my boots. But I will vote Trump in the next election if he doesn't get impeached or put in jail before then.

I think it's mostly a family thing. My mom is Republican. We grew up in Tennessee, where race is an issue. I mean a big issue. I don't know how I would have voted if this was the days of civil rights and integration. I don't know how I might have voted if I'd known my dad. But for money reasons, to vote in my own self-interest, I have to be a Republican. A few billion dollars could get sliced into me not having much money left! Ultimately, the Republican party is the party of those who work hard and succeed in this country. I am one of those people.

I'm not about to live in squalor. That's where I came from.

I keep my guns in a gun safe. In this country a gun is the only way to keep your family protected. I'm a responsible gun owner. I'm not about to give up my rights just because some liberal voters say so.

I'm also not an idiot. I know that Fox isn't news. That they stretch, paint, and draw the truth like they like it. That some of what they say are lies. But the same is true for CNN! Every news channel, online or off, does the same thing. They carve out the shape of their truth. They spoon feed us. They give us what they think we can handle. They're people! People running these shows. You can't expect them not to present their point of view! The news is human, like any human-made thing, and like any human-made thing, the news is fallible and governed by perspective and fear.

Of course I keep my politics private. It doesn't make sense for me to advertise my political party. But if you look at my actions instead of my words it should be obvious to anyone that I would never vote for a Democrat.

Those who do? Of course NLP doesn't depend on your political views! But those who follow me and want to improve their financial state, if I could without isolating them, I would suggest they vote for the "Party of No," as we're known. No to higher taxes on the rich. That's what it comes down to. If you follow me, you're going to be making more money. The more money you make, the higher percentage of it you'll want to keep. And if you want to keep most of your money, money you invented and schemed and learned how to make, you will vote for the right as I do, regardless of the other politics of the guy.


As for this talk of "Jesus was a Democrat!" All that is just bullshit. There were no Democrats or Republicans back then. I am a Christian but my Christianity is deep down, nonliteral, and not just for show.

Jesus said "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's." A brilliant retort which I interpret as meaning that each person has the right and the opportunity and the power to choose what belongs to the government and what belongs to the people. And an instruction to pay taxes. Which I think god wants us to do.

But you may notice that my "god" is lowercase. And that I use uppercase "God" for the god of other people. That's because I know how literally I take my god and I respect what I assume is the literality of how others take their god. We go to church sometimes. But mostly Sundays for Cherie and I are for in-bed movie watching. Big screen LCD. Used to have plasma. And my conference dates include a full Sunday program in the auditorium with no time off for church. That's how it's meant to be and if you can't skip church for one week out of 50 then I guess you aren't ready to take my seminar. We're on Earth now so I guess that means we should focus on Earthly things.

When people tell me they prayed to god asking for this thing or that thing I say "Good! Now pray to yourself. Ask yourself for what you're asking god. God wants you to empower yourself and I want the same thing. Say your prayers first thing in the morning. Say them last thing at night. But never forget that the universe is a giant loop and when you pray to god, or the devil, or someone else, the one who's listening is always you. Listen carefully when you pray and you will find that your own voice is looped around the entire universe and back to a listening chamber, the audience room, the room where you sit in the control panel of your mind. That is where god is. And god is you. No one else is listening. Or you are everything. Realize that god is you and you are god and everything you say to anyone you say to yourself. Everyone you pray to is praying to yourself. And you are responsible for answering your own prayers! You are. Not some cosmic scion. Not some guy with a beard. Try it sometime. Smoke some pot. Sit in your bed. Now lie down and put your head on the pillow. Use the voice in your mind to call upon the universe for peace, prosperity, a better life. Wait and see. Who does that voice come back to? When you really listen for god, who answers? I'll bet that it's you.


Bindy jumping off this fireplace arc we had, a mantle we had in a house. Mom was light on drugs at the time. Not completely off. But she managed it at this point, still had her job.

Bindy would come over to watch me. I must have been five or six at the time. This would have made Bulinda eight or nine. I don't know where my mother went. She said it was her night work at the hospital but I was never sure. Sometimes she'd come back late, at seven the next morning. It was light outside and Bindy and I were curled underneath a blanket. I remember the blanket was pink, yellow, and blue. A quilt. But a quilt worn so thin it was almost time to throw it away. It was fine for Bindy and I, though.

I pretended to be asleep while Bulinda gently uncovered herself and tucked me in around the edges.

Mother said: "I don't have the money to pay you now."

Bindy said: "That's fine, Ms Chance. You can pay me next time."

"Ok, Bulinda. Here. Give me a hug."

So Mom and Bindy would hug and Bindy would leave and I would stay buried under covers and pillows in the living room, my head leaned against the fireplace.

Mom comes over to me.

She kneels.

She puts her hands on my head and runs them around the outside of the blanket, touching me, loving me, letting me know she's here. Then, while I stayed completely still, Mom sat down next to me and turned on the TV and she watched Wheel of Fortune.

As she watched, I fell in and out of sleep, wanting Bulinda back instead of my mom. Bulinda didn't do any drugs at that point. Didn't smoke. Didn't snort. She didn't even take any prescription drugs. Bulinda's only focus was sex. She liked to talk about it and, I guess, do it. She asked me if I knew what horny meant, as I mentioned. And as I mentioned, I didn't find out till later what it really meant. Bulinda said:

"It means you want to have sex."

"Sex?"

"What? You don't even know what sex is?"

I shook my head.

My babysitter gave me the talk my mom was supposed to give. We sat under the quilt as Bindy spoke. She was direct, curt, explicit. When she was done I thought she had described something involving a hot dog and I imagined a butt with non-vegetarian chili coming out of it and the hot dog going in.

"No!" Bulinda said. "Don't you know what a pussy looks like?"

I shake my head.

Bulinda pushes down her stretch pants.

"Don't tell anyone," she says. "Do not tell anyone what I'm about to show you. Agreed?"

I said yes.

Bulinda had on a pair of white panties, no lace, just plain white cotton. She pushed them down with both hands and knelt on the floor so she was at my level. She spread her legs.

I looked at it, then in Bindy's eyes, then back at it.

It looked like a front butt, two lips. It had tiny hair follicles but had been shaved.

Bindy reached down and spread the lips with her fingers.

Inside was red.

Deep, deep red.

It had buttons and folds.

It had holes.

Bindy took my hand and moved it close to her.

Inside of her.

She took one finger, my index, separate from the others, and she held it up to her pussy and pushed it inside her bottom hole.

It was hot, wet. And it smelled.

I took my finger back and held it to my nose.

Bindy laughed.

"That's what you'll be doing soon, too. Haha. You're a natural. Be spiking girls' pussies before you know it. Want to touch me again?"

I shook my hand and wiped my finger on the quilt.

Bindy looked for my answer and when an answer didn't come, she reached for the sides of her cotton diaper and was about to pull them up but I reached my hand out and hoped I wasn't too late.

Bulinda smiled.

She took my hand.

She rubbed it all over the red spot and she pushed my middle finger inside her this time. She was using my hand. Then she pulled up her shirt and her breast was there and she lightly touched the nipple which stood up.

So hard and so soft at the same time.

And she made waves over it, brushing it with the back of my hand, limp fingers caressing the nipple.

And she made my middle finger into a crook and she used it as though it was her own finger and she rubbed between her legs.

"Do you like this?" Bindy asked.

Deep inside and rising, I felt I would cry. But I looked her in the eyes and I nodded my head. Then I looked back at the floor.

Thoughts of my mother in bed with one of her friends.

The sounds they both made.

Bindy made those sounds now.

She rode her knees and her thighs, rising and falling, making these high pitched moans, the style a teenager makes instead of an adult.

"Do you want to make me cum?" she said.

And I didn't know what that was.

"Have you ever made a girl cum?"

I shook my head.

"You want me to feel good, right?"

I nodded.

She let go my hand and touched both her nipples. I let my hand fall to the floor. She picked it up and licked off the goop from my fingers. I put my hand between her legs and she brought one of hers down to guide me. She had me stroking and poking her and finally she let my hand go and it remained there next to what I would later find out was her clitoris, rubbing her with the backs of my fingers and she touched her nipples and finally, with more of those teenage moans, she came.

There were other things we did together.

You can imagine the abuse.

Except I didn't feel abused. I did feel scared. But I thought of it as Bindy presented it to me: She wanted to feel good and I was helping her.

The only way I thought of it as abuse, at the time, was that when I looked at Bulinda's body my penis got hard. Then later when we lay under the quilt, I would put my hand down my pants and grab it and pull it and not know what to do.


Cut to, cut to, fast forward, roll. Cut to the present. Mom's living in a house bought by me. In Los Angeles. If she has expenses above and beyond the house bills and a little money for food. If she does, I don't know about it and she takes care of it however she does. She doesn't work. She never calls me. That gift of a place to live and money to live on is hers for having a son like me. Or: For having me as a son. As most sons are not like me. At all.

I want to tell the story of me as The Guru Principle.

But to do that, I have to tell the story of me as the son of a drug addict, touched by Bindy at an early age. The story of me with my last wife Eleanor, of me with my latest girlfriend Cherie, of me trying to reach Rebecca, my assistant who has trouble speaking, who has an uncle named Marty, which is suspiciously close to my name, Martin Kevin Chance. And I wonder if Rebecca made up Marty, if really her ideas of him are stolen from me. Fantasies she made up to be close.

Those are my women. Those and many more. Without them this would be a different story.


Without them, this would be the story of a Martin Kevin Chance who was never abused, who was never taken care of by women. So many women I've never cleaned a bathroom. That's how I measure it. When I lived with my mom, we never cleaned the bathroom. When I lived alone in my apartment in Memphis, I never cleaned the bathroom. Girlfriends did it. I'm serious. I've never touched a toilet brush. Girlfriends just came over and did it for me. When I moved to California, my first wives did it. When I married Eleanor, she hired someone to do it. I use those same cleaners today.

Without women I could not live.

They torture my mind.

They drive my action. Deep down, I always wanted a wife who was nothing like my mother. Not a drug addict. Someone consistent. As sexy as my babysitter. Someone damaged, in a way. Someone I could heal. I wanted someone who needs me, whether for money or for a change in perspective. Someone with less power than me. Which is easy to find. So easy. But there's a balance: Someone who did not come from money. Who needs me for that. But never someone who uses me. Never someone who doesn't love me first and who wouldn't love me before or without this large amount of cash I carry around with me.

Cherie reminded me of Bulinda. She's a way I can keep Bulinda close. Right by my side with a pussy I can abuse with regularity. Clench my fingers closed and rub between her legs. Touch her nips with their tips. Tease her with my cock, making sure never to go all the way in. Just the tip. Just the motherfucking tip. Get her begging. I mean begging. Me. For more. I hover over her and the images from Bindy come back to me. Outside of my will. There she is in a white shirt that says, "Hey <3 Sexy!" A handbag knocked sideways by the door. Inside: Wrapped condoms that looked like candy, a flat-backed hairbrush Bindy used to spank me, getting my bottom red and my penis hard. It made me want to do bad things. Even today. Just to have Bulinda spank me. And spank me so hard my cock would cum on the other side. The down-facing side of me. When Cherie caresses my butt with her hands my cock gets as hard as if that babysitter was still with me, spanking me too often with the opalescent backside of her hairbrush.

"Cherie?"

"Yes, darling."

"Will you touch my butt again?"

"Yes. Do you want me to go inside?"

"Actually, Cherie: Do you have a brush?"

"A hairbrush? You want me to get it?"

"Yes."

Her gazelle body removes itself from underneath me. She goes to the bathroom and rummages through her purse. Out comes the hairbrush.

"You want this?"

I nod.

Cherie comes back to me and I lie down sideways on the bed and she knows what to do. She licks the brush, giving it that thin sheen of spit. She rubs the back of the brush on my ass and the anticipation gets me hard.

"You like that?"

"Harder," I say.

She spanks me lightly with the brush.

I adjust my body against the mattress. There's nowhere for my cock to go.

Cherie spanks me harder, and harder, and so much harder.

I grab the edge of the bed.

My eyes water and I am crying.

Crying not just to the sexual sensation but for every minute spent with Bindy. How close we were. If we met today Bindy and I would be survivors of the same crime. We would huddle together non-sexually and cower beneath my mom. We would be abused children in the same recovery class, sharing stories of our childhood like they were real, drinking the same bad coffee and repeating the steps over and over. The first step of sexual recovery class is "We admitted we were powerless and our lives had become unmanageable." I said that to myself a million times, in group and out of it. I was hoping it would eventually sink in. And I was never ready to say that second step. The second step had something to do with god. Between you and I, having been abused while something called god looked down upon me, while something called god kept my abuser coming back to my house, while something called god had made the me that was excited by what everyone called abuse, I was not ready to say that second step the first time I went to a meeting. And I have never been ready to say it since.


I'm telling you this now because I want this book to be not only the story of a weekend. The story of my last week, ever, giving The Guru Principle to a packed house. I'm writing this as sort of a biography, with everything that includes from childhood secrets to present day follies to the details of hosting my seminar. The people I meet there. The people I take with me. But most of all what drives me. What has driven me. To do it all these years.

You have to ask yourself, when you help people: Am I a messiah? Some chosen force to exist on this planet for a lifetime of cauterizing the wounds of the broken. When I myself am broken.

To come here from the magic of the ether and pay attention, for once, to those who hurt. To those who have a dream but whose dream sits dormant. To those who want something more but don't know how to get it. To those who yearn but don't know what for. To those whose strange inkling is to follow me to California and watch me work with their neighbors firsthand. To fix the stutter. To send the empty-handed fisherman into fertile waters. To work, in my own mind, on my relationship with Cherie. To inspire the staff: They could have spent this weekend at home, but instead are here to subject themselves to my cruel hand, my cruel standards, my cruel desires for each of them.

I was programmed, like each of you.

Programmed by a programmer with no skill!

Everything you say and do has a light programmatic effect on everyone who hears it. Don't they? Doesn't my babysitter program me to think a certain way about sex? Doesn't my mother, in talking, in her actions, doesn't she program me on how to parent? Does not Cherie, by spanking me with the back of her hairbrush, continue my babysitter's programming, with my help, with my actions programming her. Cherie is programmed by how much I love the brush. Programmed to like it. Because I like it. So that, upon trying the hairbrush upon me, Cherie learns what she likes. She executes a plan: Hitting me with the brush. She likes how I respond. She executes the plan again. That's the order of planning and liking: You execute a plan first, before you like a thing. Then, from the results of that plan, you find what you like. Planning comes first. Liking comes second. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

That's why people have trouble maintaining an exercise routine. You plan to do something, first. You do it. It hurts. If you don't get positive feedback soon you will stop the routine. Unless you get a runners' high from your first session, where is the reward? You don't get skinny from the first trip to the gym. You don't lose weight at first. And so, when you're experiencing pain only, not pleasure, you stop exercising. Getting into an exercise routine is hard.

Once you've done it and succeeded, it's much easier.

If you have some memory of a successful exercise period, you can start a new one with the belief that it will work. That can get you over the hump. If you've stopped drinking in the past then you can so much more easily do it again. Because you know that you have to get over the first three days. Then you know you can make it to a month. After that, unless someone is constantly reminding you of the existence of alcohol and your ability to drink it, you're done. Once you make it a year, two years, it takes a stressful event of the first order to make you drink again. A stressful event like moving, losing job, or a change in your relationship. Short of those, you can make it.

Addiction is about not being able to wait. Sobriety is about delaying gratification. Drug addicts are obsessed with using. To help them you have to break that obsession. Usually what works is to get them thinking about something else. Like you stop drinking alcohol, of course, but at the same time you focus on drinking water. Expensive bottled water, even. Get them chasing the labels on upscale bottles. Have them drink it 24/7 like a style. Like brand name clothes. As much water as they can drink, it'll still be cheaper than alcohol. Then eventually you can have them stop the water, because their obsession has shifted and they no longer need the placeholder.

I might be called on at any moment to help with someone's addiction. I might be called upon to chase the imagery of a dead lover out of someone's mind. I might say:

"If we obsess with spirits of the dead. If you replay these moments over and over, you will be stuck in the past. And that is where your lover lives. Or your mother or grandmother or whoever. Do you keep a picture of your lover with you?"

He shows me on his phone.

"Oh! You have a whole album. Get rid of that. Right now. Yes. I want you to delete all those pictures but one. Keep your favorite one picture of her and send the rest to the trash. Now delete the trash."

His finger hovers.

"I can't."

"You're going to have your favorite picture."

"I know."

"Of someone you loved. Someone you loved dearly. What more can you keep of this person who once you loved, who still you love, who you will always love. What more do you want than one favorite picture? See, if you keep that entire album, it will take up an entire album's worth of your daily attention in a world that no longer includes your lover. This world no longer contains your friend! What would she want, if she were looking over your shoulder? For you to remain obsessed with her to this very day? How long has it been since she died?"

"Five years."

"My friend. This is overdue. Empty the trash of those relationship photos. Gently, empty the trash on that relationship. We are of the now and the here and every picture you keep of her pulls you back into the past away from the here and now. If you keep one picture you can look at it one time throughout the day. Just one quick look at your favorite picture of her will honor her and remember her to you and guess what else, my friend?"

"What?" he says through tears.

"One day soon you will forget to look."

"I will?"

"Yes. You will. One day you will forget to look and then one other day you will forget to look for a week. Trust me."

Trust me. Every one of you. I am trained as a counselor, a guru, an emergency room doctor. Trust me. I will never hurt you. Trust me. I have been through what you are going through now. I have the compassion of Mother Theresa. The patience of Gandhi. And if you stick around long enough, you'll see I have the miracles of Jesus right here in my back pocket.

"Go ahead," I say.

The young man looks at me.

Then looks at his phone.

Then his hand hovers over the screen and he empties the trash, permanently letting go his dead girlfriend by an album full of pictures. Minus one.


Am I god? Am I a god? Which parts to limit, which to expand. Which parts of me were godlike to begin with, which others need to be fed. Watered. Left in the sun.

Which parts of each of us are of that level, that being.

That each of us might be god.

We might have been made to reflect her.

To reflect that one I find in fruit, in still lives, in vacuum cleaners, in the landscape of the world. To use that concept. Stealing it from our ancestors. Stealing it from the thing itself. Which lives in me. Which lives in you. Which some of us want to expose. Which some of us want to hide and bury like the ocean rolls. To bury in each generation deeper. Deeper by the second. Deeper by the dozen. Made deeper with each moment as it passes. Passes beyond our reach in the mouth of the volcano. Is sucked to the core with every earthquake. But it is mawed through rocky teeth, through an infinitude of crags and polished stone. Building an inverted skyscraper to match its above-Earth replica. Something of a nude. Something dressed in flowers, spinning of war. Something buried now so deep, deep, deep that you can walk over its surface and never even know it's there.

Infinity of a candle.

I speak in my own brand of tongues.

Make a mess of the divine. Stand before you I raise my arms to the sky, directing clouds, parting the sea above. I tempt a storm. Play with lightning death. "And so, my friends, you are faced with a temptation. Faced with a choice. You can let go of everything you knew before you came here. Listen to that. Think about it. You can let go everything from before. You can step onto my ticket. You can become whole in one minute. Do you believe that? You should. You absolutely should. This show isn't called The Beginner Principle. It's called The Guru Principle and it's called that for a reason and it's not that I'm the guru. It's that you're the guru. You're the expert. Ok? That is why I brought you here. You are the guru and I am going to teach you the principle. You did not come here to meet a guru. Well: In a sense you did because you came here to meet yourself. I'm not the guru. You're the guru. And you're going to sit there and listen to yourself while I do all these demonstrations and what I hope will happen is that at some point you will start to see yourself as the guru. Why can I tell you this? Don't I have some secret plan to convince you that you're the guru? Of course not. We are equals. You were already the guru before you came here! You know everything you need to know. Except that you are the guru! Hear that. Believe it. I'll say it one more time. You are the guru. You have come here to realize that. To get strong. In yourself. Then we'll send you back into the world and these 3,000 people will be that much stronger out there, in your worlds, where you matter. You came here 'cause you're on the edge. And edges go both ways. You're now on solid ground. One way, the edge leads to stagnancy. That is the edge if you go backwards. The other way has two options. It's the way that's over the edge. Here, you can either fall. Or. You can fly. I'm going to be honest with you on this point. Most of you will fall. It's true. Like they say in The Matrix: 'No one makes their first jump.' That's true in The Matrix and it's true here. No one makes their first jump. But you have to try to succeed. You have to be willing to fall. You have to be willing to fail! So. Everyone close your eyes. You're on the honor system so don't look. Listen. Listen to what I say. I want you to look deep within yourself, Mike and Jenny and Julian and Casey. I want you to listen to what I'm telling you. Imagine yourself along that edge. Imagine going backward, jumping off and falling to your death. Imagine that when you step off the edge, you fly. And when you fly, you never return to that starting ledge. You go on forever, and you go on big, and you go on to places that I have never seen. Places I will never see. If you feel like you're going to fly then please stand up now."

I wait.

And a predictable number of people stand.

It's a number around 5%. About one in 20.

"Open your eyes. Look around. This is how many of you will get what I want you to get from this show. If you're not standing, it's ok: You can come again next year. But stay, you'll get something. And those of you who stood, look around you. Look at how lonely it gets when you decide to change your life. Most people in your world will not actively be changing their lives. Most people won't be growing, learning every minute. And remember, you're at a self-help seminar. This is the percentage of people who made it this far who will go on right now. And that's the mega percentage who will not. In your real lives the percentage will not be one in 20. It will be one in 2000. I used to go to therapy. A therapist I liked a lot had a sign above her door. It said something like, 'The more you heal yourself the fewer people will deal with you.' That was approximately what it said. And that my friends is true. The healthier you get, the fewer friends you'll have. So this journey we undertake here is like therapy in this way. In that it's hard work and the hard work will shed you from your relationships. You will make yourself more and by doing so will make your friends less. If the chance of going on is one in 2000, what are the chances that your significant other is going to also be one of those 2000? You guys can sit down now. The chance that your spouse is standing with you is miniscule. Some of you just experienced it! I can't go on with you all without telling you that. You're on an individual journey now. You're not on my path. I'm not on yours. So strap yourself in tight. Take lots of notes. Listen with your best ear! And be willing to accept anything. Anything. That I tell you to do. Tonight we'll be doing small groups. Your group number is in the back of your admissions packet. Find it. Correlate it to the map which is also found at the back of your packet. You're going to be asked to share. Share honestly. As honestly as you can. I will be visiting some of your groups in person. I will visit every group through one of my assistants. They are dressed in street clothes like yourselves. You will not know who they are. This creates a situation like the one in the parable of The Special One. Have you heard it? Some of you have, some of you have. Here's my version: A Buddhist monastery, some kind of zen unit, they bring in a visiting master from far away. This guy comes in and spends time with each of the monastery's tenants, then he meets with the entire assembly and in his talk he says he was surprised to find that a supremely enlightened monk lived among them. This person was so evolved, so incredibly wise, that he was close to enlightenment, close to Jesus and Buddha and all the other ascended masters, close to being god himself. The visiting monk said the whole monastery was blessed by the divine monk's presence and that they were all very lucky to have him here. Then he finished his talk. What happened then? The monastery filled itself with a buzz. In every meeting with another monk, both monks wondered if they were talking with this mysterious master. So they began to see the divine in everyone right around them. The divine was at their sides. But then another thing happened. Every monk began to see that semi-divine personage within themselves. Everyone wondered if it was them! And so, in every action, in every moment, each monk acted as if she was the one the visiting monk was talking about! Imagine the world that was created in this monastery! Imagine the feels! What if I told you the divine was sitting next to you! In this room! Right this minute! How would you treat the man holding the door for you as you walk out of this hall toward dinner? How would you treat yourself if you thought for a moment that the divine was within you! Go to dinner, people! Stop listening to me talk."

And then the applause came.

And I lapped it up.

And before it stopped, an old man came up to me. When it silenced out, he said:

"Marty. Marty Chance."

"That's my name."

"Which one was the divine monk?" he asked.

"Isn't it obvious?" I said. "There isn't one. It's just about how we feel about each other. How we feel about ourselves. And how we treat everyone we come into contact with. Goodnight people! The divine in me bows to the divine in you! Namaste! See you tomorrow!"

The old man who asked the question returned to the direction of his seat. Once backstage, I saw him. I went to him and hugged him.

"How long we been doing this, Larry?"

"I don't know," he says. "A long time."


A long time. A long, long time. A lot of "How long we been doing this, Larry." A long, long time.

A look in my eyes that says: "Cherie, take me home."

A look in hers that says: "Ok."

A look from me that says: "Will you drive us around tonight?"

Take me to the hotel. Take me home. Put my head down in the right side passenger seat. Buckle me in. Get in yourself. And start to drive.

My movements are worse in the car.

Little imps of movement starting in my shoulders, the tips of my fingers, my toes. And in the back of my mind. Back so far I can feel the neurons melting. Feel my hands starting to shake. My arms become stiff. And I know this is a neurological disease and I do NLP for a living and I cannot figure this out. No exercise, no set of thoughts I can program. No nothing. It brings me back to a state of pure body. Pure animal reflex or lack thereof. The opposites of genius. Right here in my body. In my brain. At the core of some gnarl of process meant to control, now throws me into a lack of control. A lack of connection. A lessening of response to neuro-linguistic cues. The movement of a baby. One who has yet to experience the learning aspect of movement looks to similar to this one who is unconsciously learning not to move. Not to be in the zone. That zone where you move and never think of it. That zone of adulthood wherein you rarely think of your movement, but do it often. The banishment of fucking.

"Marty."

That is Cherie and she is driving.

"Marty what."

Her hand on my leg.

"We're done for the day."

"It makes me glad, Cherie. It makes me overjoyed."

There was a time I'd be embarrassed to admit that but now is not that time.

"Baby. When I hit that pillow I'm going straight to sleep."

"It's no problem," she says. "I'll wake you up tomorrow."

"Wake me up with a hand on my cock and it's no problem at all!"

"That's not what I was thinking."

"What were you thinking?"

"A mouth?"

"Ahh, Cherie. You wake me up with a mouth, I'll wake up singing."

"Don't worry dear. I'll wake you up singing."

Which was so poetic I couldn't think of any response. Unless Cherie spoke, I would ensure the rest of our trip would be in silence. Think of me literally waking up singing with my girlfriend's mouth on my cock. A girlfriend who was 30 years younger than me. A girlfriend with tight skin and a tight mouth and a tiny, tight little hole.

Don't worry. I won't describe her tiny hole to you.

I know this is my memoir, my metaphor, my peek into light, into the light of my life. And I know that half of you want the whole story while half of you want to read an expunged version and go back to your news. What I'm telling you here is supposed to be an antidote to the news. To all that lacks sense. To do that, I need to add details. Things like the size of my girl's hole. Because, as you know, it's details like that that make a story like this come alive.

I'm not trying to give you my whole life in a capsule.

I just want to give you one weekend.

The last weekend of The Guru Principle.

This weekend I'm speaking of, this was the last weekend I ever gave that course. The last time I did any public speaking. And the last time I did NLP work privately, were the times during the last weekend of The Guru Principle when I laid hands on someone behind the curtain.

My creakiness is only one reason why.

If I had only that reason, though, it would be enough.

This disease will conquer me. At least the me I wanted to be. It's poetic justice. The master of NLP technologies laid flat by a common disease developed early. It will put me in the hospital for my final days. An old Cherie sitting next to my bed. It won't really be Cherie but I will call the one sitting next to my bed, Cherie, as if it really was. I don't want to trip you up with all the girls' names.

I will give you a vision of my death. A vision of where I am writing this book. I am in the hospital, room 406, a single room. Just enough room for me, for Cherie, and for a hospital bed. Cherie has brought me a tablet to write on. We spend the mornings talking, Cherie and me. And in the afternoons I write. Write with a pecking hand. Write with one finger, the keyboard like a dartboard, my one finger throwing darts, missing most of the time, hitting some too! Me making progress at the rate of one paragraph per day.

At night Cherie goes to the house. Sleeps in our old person bed, alone I guess, gripping the ripped up white rabbit she has held since she was a child. As I write this now I cannot remember whether my current Cherie was the one who held the white rabbit but I know that one of my Cheries did. I know she used to leave without it when she rose for the morning and that I would reach out and grab it by one arm as I slept some more.

Somewhere between my early 50s and my early 70s the Parkinson's has grown. It has taken me over. It moves slowly so that I never notice it until after the fact: I only notice it looking backward. As its role in my life has become more of a central one. As I have let go my role of healer and become one of the sick.


In our room at the Westlake Village Four Seasons, I walk like a zombie to the bed. Don't even pull back the covers. Fall face first into a hotel comforter I trust. Manage to lift my phone to my ear and say, "Wake me at four." Then I drop the phone and say, "Cherie, Cherie, look for me in the morning." Then I fall asleep.

Cherie takes off her shoes, white Keds, she kneels over my back and takes off my shirt. She massages my arms and back, my neck, my butt, my legs, my feet. I feel her in my dreams, where she has taken on the shape of a unicorn. A big white unicorn like in Blade Runner, here to portent my truth as a replicant. Her fingernails are the horn and I feel them digging through my skin harsh like, breaking me like a good masseuse does, leaving me wrecked, my fields tilled, subject to her will.

Cherie stops and asks me if I'm awake.

I tell her no.

She sits back barefoot and sits with her knees bent over my body. Takes out her phone. Texts. Texts so much she makes herself laugh. A laugh of innocence. Of delight. Flirtation. Joy of a 24-year-old child declaring ownership of me. I couldn't get up without her permission! Cherie sits with her legs holding me down, doubtless messaging one of her online friends. I'm too old for online friendships. But Cherie is not. They are her world, succinctly held within that phone. A world of Words with Friends, of telepathy and telekinesis. Of every information imaginable. Of recipes, and novels, and self-help books. I sell on there. She could be reading my book.

Not likely, though. Cherie is probably texting some dude. A dude she likes. Someone from Pennsylvania. They have a relationship. Me and Cherie have a relationship. He definitely sends her pictures. He might send her video. They have spoken over the phone. And yes, they like each other. Someday Cherie might get bored of me and move to Pennsylvania to be with her unnamed beau. That is the price I have to pay. But what I get in return, Cherie with me now, Cherie with me in the flesh, is worth the trade.

I don't know what she gets from him. I know it's something she doesn't get from me. I never ask and she never tells. All I really know is that every night Cherie gets in bed with me, it is my victory. Talk is talk, right? If I'm not possessive, Cherie gives me her voice and her body, tells me the truth concerning us, and gives me her love. Physically. With her body. That playful mind. Her nakedness. She sits on top of me and we play. That's all I can say. Cherie plays with me and we are like children, playing the cum game. She rides me fantastically, the unicorn riding like a boulder this old beast. Cherie calls me beauty. I imagine she sees me as the titular character of Black Beauty. Unicorn riding horse. And while my horse is old and busted, the fact of Cherie's love validates me. It makes me ok, just to be sighted by no one in our hotel room with her lying over part of me texting her friend.


I wake in the night. Check my phone. It's 3am.

The unicorn is lying naked, covered with as many covers as she could get under. Her phone fell out of her hand.

I pick it up and place it face down on the bedside table.

Cover Cherie all the way up.

She wakes.

She pulls me down on top of her.

Whispers in my ear.

"I have an itch. In my pussy."

She smiles.

I unwrap her from the covers.

Kiss her, lick her ear, bite that unicorn neck.

Cherie moans. Makes every encouraging sound.

She puts my hand on her pussy, starting me rubbing her.

I let her, pretending I'm a child, letting her guide my hand around her pussy like a child. Her face delights with the sensation of using my hand on her. I wonder if she'll get herself off like this, using my hand as a tool. Me meaning nothing. An excuse to get herself off with a hand that's not her own.

I let my hand limp.

I bite her neck.

Cherie gets good and hot, hot and wet, wet and firm. Then lets my hand go and I push her legs together and fuck her from on top of a girl with closed legs. Delicious, surrogate fuck.

Good girl, school girl. Innocent one. Virgin sex.

Cherie turns her face to the headboard and breathes a gasp-totaling breath.

I stroke us both, feeling her insides. Bumps large and small, that serrated texture along her shaft, somewhere deep inside her body the hint of her cervix. If I fuck her too hard or too deep I will touch it, giving her intense pain. So I avoid it! Instead, shamelessly, enjoying the tight diameter of the pussy I have shoved together, its walls taking on what she and I imagine is her little girl pussy, getting us both off.

I do not cum inside. I pull out and cum on my Cherie's tummy. Which Cherie approves of. In the beginning I came inside her, risking it on purpose, risking the creation of a baby. Risking having a connection to Cherie forever. If she has a baby I will be visiting her in Pennsylvania someday, meeting her special PA man. And I don't know if I want to do that.

Cherie sees it in my eyes, as I hold myself above her like a plank, squirting my cum all over her belly button then lying on top of her, smearing it all between our skins, reducing the chance of pregnancy.

But in Cherie's eyes, it's a sadness.

Every time I cum on her stomach.

She wishes I would cum inside her.

To create that baby, special to us.

Cherie's eyes say: Not this time, I see. Not this time among molecular giants do we choose to have a baby. We are masters of the world, Cherie says. You have chosen to enjoy but not create. I am meant for enjoyment and creation, both. And you are using me for one and not the other. Shame.


A warm bath. Something to free me from the pain of being alive. A different kind of pain than hot or sharp, even from bones aching. An ache through and through my every movement. The pain of a muscle clenching throughout the night. The pain of having been awake through it all, through each one of Cherie's movements. Each trip to the bathroom for her a trip to the bathroom for me, moments later. If I slept alone there would be less rolling and adjusting for each of us. But sleeping alone? What's the point of that? I want to spend as much time as possible beside her, one arm draped momentarily along her hip. Our hands touch, make love, rescind. For a moment my cock is aligned with her ass. I press in, feel the goodness, leave.

Cherie looks at my penis.

If she looks at it, she will touch it.

Once she touches it with her hand, she will at least jerk it off.

Once she starts jerking it off, she will use her mouth to make it faster. Once she sucks it, she will use the Cherie Standard Technique, an off and on hand and mouth method of making me cum. Cherie makes me cum. Then she locks and stows the cock away and wipes it with the hotel sheet.

"Cherie?"

We're lying in semi-darkness. Side by side.

"Yes baby?"

"I'm thinking this might be the last year."

Cherie is quiet so I continue.

"I know it's difficult for the staff. That's part of why I've kept it running the last three years. If the show goes down, all those staff people go down. And the next 3,000 participants, they go down too. I'll never get to meet them, hear their problems, do what I can to help. What would you think if this was the last year?"

"Marty, you say this every year."

"But this year I'm serious."

"You're serious now. But next summer, when it's time to send the invitations, you come around. It's like clockwork, boo."

"It has been like clockwork, I agree. It has been. But that's no reason it has to be like clockwork this year."

"What's your plan?" Cherie turns to face me. "What are you going to say to yourself in June when the hotel calls? When you're reading thank you notes and 'I fixed my life' notes and 'Help me fix my life' notes. Those are your inspiration. I think they give you life. You're called to do this work."

"I'm called?"

"Yes. You're called to do it. I think you'd be doing it if you didn't get paid."

"I am hardly getting paid right now."

"And you're still doing it. Happily. I think you'll be doing this work till you can't even walk."

"Baby, look: I can hardly walk now!"

Cherie lies back down. Adjusts her head on the pillow. That is her way of saying "The conversation is done" and I kind of hate how final it is without even using any words. If she is sitting up, facing me, it doesn't matter if she speaks at all. She's listening. The conversation is active. When she lies down, that is Cherie's checkmate. All that's left for me to do is examine the pieces and see how it's done.


Waking up in bright light.

I'm in the bath.

"Cherie!"

She comes to the door.

"It's locked, baby."

"Did I lock it?"

"I don't see how I could have locked it!"

"Ok. Well. Do you have to go to the bathroom?"

"No."

"Well what do you want?"

"You called me!"

"I did? Right. Cherie. I don't know why I called you. And I don't know what I'm doing in here!"

"You're taking a bath."

"By the temperature it seems I'm done."

I stand and drip my way to the door.

Unlock it.

The handle turns.

Cherie comes in. She sits on the toilet.

"I thought you said you didn't have to go."

"I lied. I've been pissing in coffee cans all night and throwing them out the window."

"You have not."

"I have too. There's a few of them out there now."

"Bullshit."

"Come out here and take a look."

I take one step. Then two.

"You need a cane, old man."

"Please don't start!"

"You do. You should buy one as a joke. Then you'll have it around when you need it."

"I'm not buying a cane."

"Let me buy one for you."

"Cherie. Just. Do not buy me a cane."

"Dr Montgomery said you need one."

"That isn't what he said."

"Oh yeah? What did he say."

I look her over. Cherie, with her absolute nakedness. Cherie's skin. Cherie's hair. I see her panties wadded beside the bed. Crumpled on the floor with streaks of red and brown staining them deeply so I'll never see their patterns again.

"Where do you get piglet panties anyway?"

"The internet."

"I know but where."

"I just search for 'piglet panties' and they come up."

"Which store?"

"I don't know."

"How can you not know?"

"Marty. I don't remember. Do you want to know where I buy my clothes or would you just prefer to look at me in them?"

"Cherie. Of course I would prefer to look at them."

"At me in them."

"Of course Cherie. At you, looking sexy as hell."

Then I fall. I'm not sure how I do it, as I wasn't moving anywhere. I wasn't walking or reaching to pick something up. I was just standing naked in a hotel room, aging quickly enough you could see it happening. In second one I was standing, strong, surveying my Cherie. In second two, one of my arms caught my torso from hitting the ground and there were flashes of me using the jump rope backstage and Rebecca was walking up to me in fast motion saying like a chipmunk that she was coming down with a stumble, a stutter, that she had come here all the way from New York City to find me, and my current girlfriend had her arms around me, picking me up from the back, and I was reaching out wildly for something to hold onto, but I found nothing. Flailing against the bedroom air, catching my balance as Cherie lifts me.

I shake my head.

"I can't get her out!" I say.

My head fills with images of the stuttering one. Rebecca, dressed like an art student, going from here to there subway style. Rebecca dodging turnstiles, dressed in dance pants, the slightest bag hanging from her shoulders on a single black rope, and when she looks into space to avoid eye contact with the other riders, the space she looks at is me. It contains me, right now, falling asleep in the bath and standing, Cherie catching me, drip drip drip on the carpet, and Rebecca is there on the bed, taking me in, as I try to hide my cock from her, leaning into my current girlfriend with the front of my body.

Cherie sees me looking at the empty bed.

"Who's there?"

"It's nobody."

"Nobody like that girl with the stutter?"

I shake my head. "It's not her. I hardly know that girl! It's her stutter that bothers me, I'm not into her as a girl. Ok I'm into her as a girl. She strikes me. In a way. How can I separate it? I love all these people. And none of them in a cardboard way. How can I help but think of her in her home? Doing her thing. In New York. Riding down from Harlem daily. She's on her way to work. At the yoga studio. Teaching New Yorkers how to dance and do yoga and shit. I'm imagining her doing that with a lisp. Maybe it's Bikram Yoga. You know that big place in Union Square? Was she a dance teacher?"

"How do you know she's from New York?" Cherie says.

"Huh?"

"How do you know that Rebecca the stutterer is from New York?"

"She told me?"

Cherie lets go of my arm.

"On. Stage. She said she was from Wilmington. Delaware."

"She lied."

"How do you know that?"

"I had Larry look up her registration. I'm sorry. I had to know more about her if I'm going to help her in this conference!"

"Bullshit!" Cherie says.

I look her in the eyes. This is how it starts. One lie. Another lie. By the time I notice her pulling away slightly, she has pulled all the way away. This is the thing. By the time the guy notices it, the damage reaches so far into Cherie that it's undoable.

"I'm sorry," I say. "That was so much bullshit."


That was so much bullshit.

I am so much bullshit.

So much teaching, so little time for learning. Even that story I told at the end of today's session was bullshit. The story of the divine monk? That's not by me. It's from an Albuquerque monk named Francis Dorff who died last year. It's been retold by M Scott Peck and a thousand other people. I could have mentioned that but it's such a common story I figure it's ok to tell it assuming that every other person in the audience has heard it and can tell their neighbor: "I heard this in a homily." "This is from a sermon I know." You know, like that.

But without it, it is bullshit. The bullshit of stealing a sentence or a story for the purposes of enlivening my seminar. It's just too much interruption to give credit for a parable. I figure people will figure it out.

But it is so much bullshit.

And that's what I am: A collector of bullshit from anyplace on the planet. Not just this planet! I give spiritual advice from aliens where I see it's necessary. Stuff like your prayers coming back to you through a tunnel. Entirely alien. I don't know how I came upon it but it might have been an alien I saw on YouTube.

I borrow stuff from the Unitarian Universalist tradition. That's a church whose ideals are so wide open you can be a satanist and go there. As long as you're open to spiritual discovery, you're welcome.

I borrow stuff from Native American tales which I've read or heard on the rez. Ghost stories, you would call them. Admonishments of bad behavior. Morality guides. Call them what you want to call them. They're guides for how to live your life. For all of us. For life in general.

I borrow stuff from children's books. From fortune cookies. I once gave an entire seminar in Latin to the Vatican based off a fortune cookie. Specifically, the fortune cookie that contains no fortune. What does it mean? Watch the Pope crunch down on that one. You open your cookie and nothing is inside! That's my favorite fortune of all, and I love to talk about it. At this point in my career, I don't prepare for a seminar except to jump rope. I've done too much and seen too much to be entertained by anything other than complete improvisation. Give me the start. A person's name and their basic situation and I'm ready to go. I improv my way into pickles. Knots. Into making myself a fool. A failure. Before bringing it back in. To my stomach. To my core. And looking in the person's eyes, that's enough to tell me what to say. When they cry, I cry, often times. I used to view my presentations far more structurally. Today the presentation comes from the audience. I am just the mirror who stands at the front of the room.


In the morning I wake to shower sounds. Look beside me: Crumpled sheets, no Cherie. The door to the bathroom is open and I hear her. Humming to herself. I wonder when she started and I reach for my cock with both hands. Big strong Republican cock. Billionaire cock. The fantasy?

Rebecca.

The redhead from the show.

From backstage.

The stutterer.

She lowers her body around me, hands on my stomach, hands on my chest, my neck, strangling me from talking, making me almost go unconscious, all that Republican bigness shrinking deadly, all that money in the bank gone.

I remember putting my hands on the small of her back. At my show. Such an essential move but it meant so much more to me. A touch I could take with me later.

To remember her.

She might be gone today. Some people do that. They sign up to work with me. I have an intervention. Work with them for one day. The next morning they are gone! I mean gone from California! I send them the rest of their check and they never cash it!

What could I have done to someone to make them not want to cash my check?

I never touched her inappropriately.

I never lied to her.

And yet she's gone. Like really, really gone. Like gone from forever, vanished into the country, in Virginia or Maryland or some shit.

I get no communication. Ever.

No response to my emails.

Even when I say, "Rebecca, what did I do?" I get no response.

Cherie sings out from the stall, some line from Disney's Frozen. The ice castle song. I grip my cock and rub it up and down with both hands. Getting hard. It's almost hard enough that I can grip it with one hand, let my other pinch a nipple or grip the sheet. I stroke it. Squeeze it. Touch that special place near the head.

Rebecca is on me now.

Using that serrated edge.

Suffocating me with her pussy. I can't breathe.

She controls me. Even inside my mind.

My fantasy is this girl I hardly know finally getting her chance to fuck me. She's wanted it since she saw me on the cover of Financial Mastery. That hulk of a man. She used to cum to me before bed each night. Holding the plastic case in her hand. Inside it, 10 cassette tapes of wisdom and knowledge that could change your life. Later she graduated to The Power of Me. Unlimited Affection: This one she took special interest in. I mean how could an ugly guy do Unlimited Affection? He couldn't. He could never do that! I think of Rebecca checking out my tapes in one of the 42 languages, besides English, that she can speak. I imagine French, even though I definitely cannot and she probably cannot speak it! There are women like Rebecca in 159 countries, other than this one, around this tiny world.

Pussies on every one of them.

Gorgeous pussies. Beautiful, beautiful pussies.

Pussies even more beautiful than the one on Cherie.

If you can believe that.

Rebecca knows how to make a man cum. She's been doing it as long as I've been making women cum: Since she was a kid with her babysitter. Since she survived that first lesson from her babysitter. Since. Since. We might have even had the same babysitter! Not likely. But it's possible. Bindy might have brought Rebecca with her when she came to my house. In my fantasy, though, Rebecca is not a baby or not even comprehended at this time but a teenager Bulinda's age. They copulate as females do. On this bed in the Westlake Four Seasons. I taste Rebecca's new new pussy with my cock, then roll her over and fuck her almost till I cum. Then Bulinda's ass is in the air and I jog my cock from Rebecca to Bulinda. Tasting one. Then the other.

Then a knock at the door!

Cherie does not hear it.

I put on a bathrobe and go to.

"Yes?"

It's two police. One a woman, one a man.

"Do you know Rebecca Baldi?"

"No."

"Rebecca Baldi. She works for your show."

"Oh. Oh! Rebecca Baldi. Sure! She has red hair."

"Right. That's her. Would you mind if we come in?"

"Well, I mean."

"Or we could take you with us."

"For what?"

"For questioning."

"About what?"

"Rebecca says you touched her inappropriately at your show yesterday. That you touched her on the small of her back. On her shoulders. Does any of this sound familiar?"

"Touch is part of my show!"

"You still need permission."

"To touch someone on the small of her back? I don't think so!"

Cherie comes out of the bathroom.

"Who are you talking to?"

"No one."

She looks around the room. I am in bed, covers over my knees, hands still underneath. The door is closed. There are no police.

"I was just practicing. My show. Entries. Starts. Limbering up."

"Ok my bae. Limber up. I'll be out in a minute."

Cherie closes herself in the bathroom.

I get to work getting myself off. This fantasy of police is something I use to get myself excited. Like the jump rope, it's NLP. It's neuro-linguistic programming! This is the science of my entire empire. I use the police fantasy to add danger. This orgasm I'm chasing? I chase it at the cost of losing my status in an instant. Of being taken away embarrassingly by the police on the second day of my show. Going in the newspaper. Becoming the latest self-help guru to go down in infamy for fucking some girl or burning people's feet off with a fire walk.

I'm not James Arthur Ray.

I'm Martin Kevin Chance.

But even I do not have the luxury of letting my guard down. When you have a billion dollars someone is always trying to get it. Someone close to you. Maybe even someone with a beautiful puss who fucks you every night. It could be Becca. Could be Cherie. I've got to watch those two. They could be in it together: Rebecca able to read my mind. Cherie having access to my passwords. Cherie goes for ice. Rebecca comes back and sneaks into my bed. Everyone knows what's going on and I pretend I think Rebecca is Cherie and I fuck Rebecca like I fuck Cherie and then Cherie re-opens the hotel room door and stands in silhouette, in her bathrobe, and she and I make eye contact as Rebecca gets me off.

"Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!"

The bathroom door bangs open.

My hand is on my cock. The other one's nails scrape the bed.

Cherie looks at me in the light of morning. She says:

"If you want breakfast I'll be ready."

And she shakes her hair.

Cherie goes back into the bathroom.

She's humming her song.

I wipe my stomach off with the sheet and get ready for breakfast with Cherie. Still in my head are Rebecca, the cops, Bulinda, fragments of Eleanor, and a lot more girls. Women. They are a motivation. They are off-limits. They are the stars by which I travel. The map of my life. Without women, there would be no NLP. Without women, there would be no me.

Saturday

The Guru Principle is 42 rows in the theatre, 12 rows on the left side for the cheap seats who are paid temp staff members, 3 x 3 x 3100 participant meals. That doesn't include my meals and my close staff members, full time ones. Participants and paid temporary staff eat meals from the Westlake Four Seasons kitchen. So not shabby. The rest of us each get a meal from Zin. Last meal from In-N-Out. Specialty meals for people with raw food, gluten free, and vegetarian and other diets ordered on a participant basis by Cheryl, by Robert. They handle the food. And sometimes I eat a special special meal that I just tell to anyone and they get it.

There are 51 two-way headsets, one for me and one for each of my full time backstage staff. There are 100 receipt-only headsets for the 100 people on the left. The receipt-only headsets are used to bring the free seats into action. They help me or my assistants spring the free people into action, helping arrange the regular crowd into small groups, to get them seated after we do a large group exercise. Backstage there is a closet for headsets. A full time staff member to organize it, just like a coat check: Every headset is numbered and color coordinated. Every headset belongs to a particular person, in case I need to target a particular person.

Cell phones are collected. Similar coat check situation outside of the theatre. Everyone's phone slotted neatly. The punishment for sneaking a phone into my auditorium? Ejection from the seminar. No chance to explain. You can take your cellphone and go home right now. Have family still inside the theatre? You can wait for them in the lobby. Or the bar.

This scenario has only happened once.

What did I do?

Exactly what I said I would. Eject the participant. Unapologetically.

"Excuse me. What's your name?"

She's fumbling her phone, trying to turn it off.

"It's Amy," she says.

"Amy, I have to ask you to leave the room."

She finds the button she's looking for and shoves the silenced phone back in her pocket.

"You have to leave."

"I'm so, so sorry," she says.

"Please leave now. Do not return to this room."

Amy doesn't say another word. She turns and leaves.

No phone ever rang again in another of my seminars.

We also have red baseball caps that say: The Guru Principle. One of those is given to each participant for the price of the trip. There are Guru Principle rings for sale at the desk outside the theatre. No matter how many we make, they always run out. There are Guru Principle mugs of varying colors, Guru Principle hoodies, GP iPad and iPhone cases, GP jump ropes.

Then there is The Guru Principle conference binder. One for each participant: Free and paid. That's 3100 conference binders. Plus a few more: One for me, a handful for my paid assistants. The Guru Principle conference binder has 100 pages. About 30 pages for each of the three days: Instructions for each of the activities we perform in the show. The seminar. Every activity detailed so you can do an at-home version. Each year we re-do the binder from page first to page last, re-vamping every activity, every meditation, every piece of personal instruction contained within. Temporal references undergo adjustment. Cultural references are re-jiggered to reflect the time in history we live in, right down to the people who are given as examples in the binder.

Lindsay Lohan for example.

I've been doing The Guru Principle for 22 years.

When I started, Lindsay Lohan represented child actor success. Somewhere in the middle, she came to represent destruction and decadence. Now she represents a new start, living in Dubai, a businesswoman, slipped her past. She's creating a powerful present. Working on Isle Lohan. We update every cultural reference to make it resonate with our audience.

That brings us to age profiles. A curve above a line which curve shows the shape of the ages who will be in attendance. This is just for the main 3000 participants. The area underneath the curve shows us how many people are in that age range. When telling a joke, I keep several versions inside my head. If I'm telling it to the whole audience, I use the version appropriate to the entire curve. If I'm telling it to one person, I guess their age and tell the version appropriate for them. This maximizes laughs and helps guarantee I hit the mark in temporal language. The language changes all the time.

This brings us to cursing. Cussing. Bad language.

Fuck shit titty-fucking cuntster damn holy hell!

I use cussing surgically. It's not innate to my way of speaking but I have found accidentally that cursing helps some people wake up, pay attention, and actually remember what I'm saying! Many many people object to this but the results I get by cursing are crystal clear. It helps me connect with the single person I'm talking to at the time. It wakes up the larger audience. It doesn't seem to have any long term downside. People object at first. Then I explain why I'm doing it. Then I keep doing it. Then I see results. The end.


The end. The beginning. The end the beginning. I tell you stories in my order. How are you to know? Am I telling the truth? How in the world would you ever know?

My name is Martin Kevin Chance. We start with that. End with that. Who are you to question? I'm in an alternate universe as you. Creating facts. Facts about table setting. Facts about conference participants. Facts about Westlake, California. Facts about hotels. About women. About girls.

Which you should know by now is my fascination.

Neuro-linguistic programming? NLP is my name. My study. I estimate that I've spent more time studying and extending NLP than most Olympic athletes spend learning their sport.

I help Olympic athletes.

Now how could I do that without knowing something of their sport? I don't. I know nothing of downhill skiing. Nothing of basketball. But I help basketball players. Kobe? You might have heard of him. LeBron James? You might have heard of him too.

I'm speaking greatness.

Visages of United States presidents. Clinton. Bush. I worked for them all. Visages of world leaders. Bezos? I got him. Bill Gates? Worked 'im. Larry Ellison. Worked 'im. Buffett? The Pope? I even worked Donald Trump, long before his presidency. The man had his finger on the button long before he took power. Useless case. Lost.

But I worked him anyway.

I worked NASA. Astronauts. Space people.

I even worked aliens.

I work everyone, from myself to my Cherie. From the receptionist at the Westlake Four Seasons to the custodian of the same. I work the guy pushing the mop. I'd work the bartender but I didn't go into the bar.

I work my dogs. Two black labs. I work them.

You might be asking: Does NLP work on a dog?

Of course it does. If it didn't, I wouldn't have said that it does. NLP works like lightning on a dog. That's what I'm saying: You will either believe me or not. It's none of my business.

Is it the business of the magician to control the beliefs of every member of the audience? Naturally: Not! I just do my thing and along the way I pick up followers. But not everyone is a follower. Not everyone can be. The ones who do not follow, I leave behind. See them in the next life.

At breakfast Saturday, Cherie and I sit at a crêpe place in Westlake. The hostess seats us. Our server comes by.

"I'd like a vanilla strawberry crêpe with a coffee. Black."

"Ok. And you, sir?"

"Listen, Minnie. How would you like to come on a journey of personal discovery that will shake you to your very core? This isn't drugs. It isn't fasting. It's a process of transforming your thinking. The way that you think and feel. It's a program for your body and your mind that you can start on as you work this shift. Each time you bring us food, I will give you a subliminal suggestion. You will not be aware of the signals I give you. And yet, with each new sign, your juju, your mojo, will be subtly transformed. And with each of these minuscule transformations, you will grow yourself from the tiniest seed of your existence into an oak. That you control! From the thickness of the trunk to the paper-thin leaves. This is not a scam. I will never ask for your money. Since I approached you, you will be a free customer forever. In exchange, I will be able to use your image in all forms, still, motion, holographic, for the promotion of my seminars. Before you decide what to say, consider that you walked in here this morning expecting none of this. You have innocently walked into my trap. Have you ever been hypnotized?"

"Um. No."

"Well you have now! While I've been talking to you, I have presented to you eight different subliminal suggestions of increased libidinous power, suggestions of daily happiness, suggestions of unlimited financial leverage. You are now under a light hypnosis which is not dangerous to you. It represents zero damage to your psyche. Simply, this hypnosis technique I have used here will allow you to be completely aware of what I do. You are both hypnotized and also fully present. One foot in each domain. One foot in each world! Can you feel it?"

"No."

"Well, that will grow! If you simply do nothing, the hypnotic process will engulf you in a spherical, super symmetrical shape. Are you familiar with the Buckyball-based polynomial spaces invented by Richard Buckminster and used in dark side of the moon projects and as well by the Secret Space Program on Mars and beyond?"

"Um. No!"

"That's homework. For you. When you have a moment look this up." I write down "Buckminster Fuller" and my email address. "That should get you going." I hand her the napkin. "Read the whole Wikipedia page. Then read it again. We have a symposium going on at the Four Seasons. You know where it is? You can come by anytime today or tomorrow. No ticket required. If you let me take a picture I'll get it to the registration desk with instructions. Is that ok?"

She poses and I click: Snap!

"Excellent. Are we done now?" I ask Cherie: "What are we doing here?"

"You're here to order breakfast," says the server.

"Oh. That. I'll have the Blueberry Monster with cookies and when it comes to the ice cream make sure there are lots of Oreos in the mix. I want about twice the normal amount of chips. Ok? And bring the rest of the cookies and cream out. In the mixer. I want that silver cup you use to make it."

"Is that all?"

I nod.

"And a pink lemonade."

"Alright. I'll be right out."

The server leaves and it's just me and my Cherie. We're the only people in the place.

I look over at Cherie to gauge her state.

Sunglasses on.

Tie-die maxi dress by Venus.

She turns her head away from me and sucks her teeth.


"You think we could take a break from NLP shit for breakfast?"

"I'm not doing NLP shit."

"From the time you wake. To the time you go to bed. It's always observing the person's state. Then matching your physiology to theirs. Then moving. Then expecting them to follow."

"I'm not exactly expecting them to move. It's the science that they do."

"The science that they do. The science they don't. It's not just your particular idiosyncrasies. It's science. If I ask you to stop, I'm asking you to stop science itself. What if it wasn't science? What if it was all just BS?"

"It is science. Nothing about it is BS."

"It's not science. It's magic. NLP has been disproved since the time you were kissing friends with that babysitter. Detecting NLP liars via eye movements. Failed cancer treatments. The internet considers it basically harmful. Science finds human learning patterns don't even exist. Every contemporary of yours has been disgraced or discredited."

"You mean James?"

"James. Changpu."

"Hold up. Yesterday you didn't even know who Changpu was!"

"I was in a memory blind spot!"

"I'm just saying: If you had a memory blind spot yesterday then what blind spots might you have today?"

"Memory blind spots are transitory. It's like an itch."

"How in hell is that like an itch?"

"Pressing at the time. Instantly forgotten."

"Pshah."

"Don't you find yourself a fraud?"

"Cherie! Jesus effing Christ. I hate your morning moods."

Our server comes back.

"Black coffee. Pink lemonade."

"Is this fresh?"

"Freshly squeezed?"

"Yes."

"Of course, sir."

"Thank you. This is very good. You will keep these both filled?"

"Of course."

"Ok. Good. Stay nearby in case we need to do an experiment on you."

"Absolutely. I'll be standing right over there."

"Ready for experimentation."

"Absolutely."

Our server disappears.

"I'm ready Cherie. For your examination. For analysis. I submit."

"Seriously, Marty. Can we just have breakfast?"

"But from now until it arrives. I have room in my psyche for your attacks on the science that puts food on our table. Please. Go ahead."

"I wasn't attacking."

"But you have doubts."

"The world has doubts, boo. I was just repeating the doubts of the world."

"The so-called scientific world."

"Yes. Who else? You, James, Changpu Almaguer. Maxwell Maltz."

"Maltz is dead."

"And he's like your best friend!"

"He is not!"

"There's a copy of Psycho-Cryogenics underneath your pillow!"

"It's Psycho-Cybernetics and what difference does it make what I keep underneath my pillow? I was probably reading and then Gina made the bed!"

"This isn't at home. It's in the penthouse! Your hotel pillow."

"Dear Cherie. Cherie. I have to keep fresh before a conference."

"With a book from the 1950s?"

"It's from the 60s. Ziglar used it. I use it. There's nothing wrong with Psycho-Cybernetics. I've been reading that book since high school. Me and my best friend Julian changed our lives with that book."

"The book is almost 60 years old."

"It's an oldie but goodie. You should be glad that it's old. If it's still around, that means what is in it couldn't be bested in the last 60 years. That's the core of a solid philosophy, in my mind."

"Philosophy: Is it philosophy or science, Martin?"

"What's the difference? Philosophy feeds science. Science feeds on science fiction, philosophy, anatomy, biology, sacred fucking geometry. The foundation of the hard sciences is like tectonic plates. It shifts. Moves. Was calculus accepted math when it was first discovered by Leibniz, by Newton? Of course not. It took years to become accepted. Now they teach it in high school. Nobody questions it. No one even questions the factualness of calculus."

"Do you?"

"Of course not."

"But you think that NLP is in the same ring as calculus?"

"It's much, much newer so no it's not in the same ring as calculus. How is that coffee?"

"My coffee? It's fine. I wonder sometimes if your show would improve if you studied some of the counterarguments to NLP and developed attacks against them. With the internet, everyone in that seminar has to have searched NLP and read the reverse. You know. The opposing views."

"What exactly makes you think I haven't read them?"

"Well. Your show."

"It's not a show. It's a seminar."

"Your seminar seems to focus on the simpler aspects of NLP. The non-quantitative parts. It's a bit dated."

"Cherie, when we go to that auditorium, check out those people. Yes, they've paid an arm and a leg to attend here. But: No, those people in there are not advanced NLP scientists. They're working people and small time millionaires. They've come to me to get some simple tricks they can use to double their yearly income. Their business is failing. They want sound bites they can take notes on in their packet, take their packet home, get inspired. Of the 3000 people in that room, three, five, maybe 10 of them have read up on NLP science on their own. You're one of them. I'm one of them. Everyone else is just running along behind the train. They're desperate. They're trying to keep up with the world."


When we get to the conference area, Rebecca is waiting backstage. Before everyone else. Crouched on a stool, knees up high, balancing a tablet on her kneecaps. As soon as I open the door her eyes, her face, all look up. The red hair. Youth.

Rebecca stands. "Good morning Mr Chance!" Then she adds: "Cherie."

"Your stutter's gone away," I say.

Cherie walks around me and goes between me and Rebecca to find her stand-up desk near the back of the backstage. Before she gets there she twirls in a full circle and waves at me. She eyes Rebecca but Rebecca does not see her. The ultimate insult.

Rebecca comes to me, looking up, up. So innocent.

"My stutter is always gone when you're around."

"We're going to change that today."

"I don't think you will be able to."

"Trust me. I'll be able to."

"Before you got here today. Last night at dinner. I stuttered as I always do."

"We will end that. I promise."

I look at Cherie who holds her tablet at her lap and watches me and Rebecca's conversation unfold.

"It's not about me," I say. "It's about a belief."

Rebecca waits, staring up at me.

"It's about the belief that you no longer stutter. You have to get that belief as though it were real. It must become real. Wasn't it real yesterday in the conference room?"

"It was but I think that's because you were there."

"That's not why."

"I'm pretty sure it is because of that. After I left the stage, at dinner, all night when you weren't there. It was back. Just like it had been there my entire life. It's been there my entire life! All the time I can remember. Since my uncle Marty's."

"Right. I remember. Your first memory of speaking was at your uncle Marty's house. Inflatable pool. Speaking and stuttering have been synonymous since then."

"Right."

"Does your uncle Marty stutter?"

"No. He speaks clear."

"Does anyone else you're related to stutter?"

"No."

"Anyone you know at all? A movie character or a TV character? Someone you read about?"

"Maybe someone in a movie. No one I actually remember."

"Maybe you have a biological defect."

"I've been to the doctor. Many times. They tell me nothing's wrong."

"They're probably right! I want you to do an exercise for me. Before the show starts. Take that tablet and record yourself talking normally. Stuttering. Then record yourself attempting not to stutter. Watch them side by side and take notes of the differences. Make a list. Order them by importance. Then try not to do them. Every method you have for preventing stuttering, forget it! Start with attempted not stuttering and remove all the attempted parts. Got it?"

"Yeah."

"Go. Do it now. Find me when you're done."

"Thank you, Mr Chance. Thank you so much."

Rebecca hugs me super tight.

"Are you tasked with anything this morning?"

"Finding starts. Interviewing."

"Give your list to Larry when he gets here. Focus on your stuttering recording. Stop trying. You can attempt to go through the top of stuttering. Or you can relax. Attempt nothing. And go through stuttering the bottom way. By releasing yourself through it. That's what I have to do with my movements, my Parkinson's. If I'm lying in bed at night and I want to get still. I have to release myself from the reflex of movement. Lie in that place before the movement occurs. It has to do with connecting to the chemical reflex place. Finding the reflex chemical. Feeling it. And letting it pass. By this route you can overcome your stuttering, as I have overcome my muscle movements. I have partially overcome them. I think you may be in a better place than me. I think your stutter may be more reliably controlled than my Parkinson's. Try and find out."

"Thank you Mr Chance."

All I can do is imagine her naked. On top of me. Pulling off her shirt and showing me those delicious breasts. That extraordinary energy of the young. And every skin, everywhere, so tight.

I refrain from touching her as she leaves.

Look at Cherie.

She stands. Typing. Looking at me.


I go to the very back of the auditorium, the back of the participants' area. It's early enough that the only people in the auditorium are me and the hotel cleaners. Two of them vacuum the entire space and shout things to each other in Spanish. I know enough Spanish to know they aren't talking about work. They're joking with each other about hotel guests. And rooms. They must have been cleaning earlier. My Spanish is horrible but they say something about a used maxi pad one of them found underneath a mattress.

I don't want to tell you what I was thinking at the back of that auditorium. It's embarrassing. But I am going to tell you because otherwise this memoir would be shit.

You probably guessed anyway.

It's obvious.

But the depth I went to was not obvious.

I went to the depth of my fantasies. No screen. No limits. I imagined lying on a futon in my youthful apartment. Imagined being young. Young enough for her. With the red hair and the white skin and her panties on my floor. She would massage my cock with her hands. Rub me against her skin. Then grip the bottom edge of her shirt and pull it up and around those still young, still so tightly skinned breasts. The girl's stomach is just a mass of muscle reaching down to her cunt. A long V starting below her chest. Making me want to reach down and touch that muscle from its edge. Muscle made to squeeze and fuck. Made to indicate the health of the specimen. The tighter that visible muscle the tighter that hidden one. That V-shaped block. A pack of sinews made to hold her up while fucking. Meant to support the growth of a baby while pregnant. And so so sexy to me. As she pulls the shirt off over her head making her completely naked.

For me to visually explore.

For me to touch with my hands.

For her to take my cock in her mouth.

For her to use her hands.

For her to rub me between her legs.

Like a toy.

Like her own personal toy she can do anything with.

Play with like it's plastic.

Play with like a silicone toy.

Play with like it's magic: The magic I find in your sweet sweet cunt when you rub me there. When you hold it against your stomach leading all the way up to your belly button. When you suck my cock like they do in pornos. When you get tired of that play and we both want more even knowing that Cherie, my dear Cherie, is watching us from the bedroom doorway in my dream. In my dream my poor Cherie approves of what we're doing. She knows she can't stop it so the watches, watches you as you raise yourself up, watches as you widen your legs and sit on me so careful and so hard, allowing my tip to enter your hole. Sitting all the way down, holding my hands, and loving us both with every movement. Every gripping feel. Every tentative fuck. Until after much playfulness you are all the way on top of me. All the way down. And your fucking stops being light and becomes desperate. The desperation of a 25-year-old who wants to cum. Who lusts. Who knows my current/last girlfriend is watching her at the door. Who looks away from dear Cherie and bears down on me harder. Harder. Coaxing my cock into lust mode with her cunt. New. For the first time.

And in my fantasy I look over at Cherie.

She is to my left.

And I watch her sad sad face as Rebecca works me like a pro. Like a second year college girl: Proficient, consummate, horny. That fucking you get when you're both going to cum. You never have to worry since Rebecca is going to make herself cum. With my inconvenient cock between her shaking legs. Rebecca's hands on my chest. Pushing her butt back. Pulling it forward. Giving my cock a hectic ride that almost strips me of my orgasm before stripping her of hers. She fucks me like a punishment. Like that ultimate spanking that feels good and bad. That trippy feeling of enjoying something that's supposed to hurt.

And in my fantasy, when Rebecca cums, she looks at my Cherie and says:

"I never meant to take him from you. But I did mean to take this." Meaning her orgasm. "No one should refrain from any pleasure, no matter how small. If one is nominally within range of one's own morality. Don't you think?"

Cherie responds: "You're young now, and so now is the time of your life when you do the taking. When you're my age, the taking will be done to you. If that's nominally moral to you, you can go right ahead."

But she already had.

There was a pool between our legs and Rebecca was letting out her moans. Her cheeks turned red to match her hair and all along she said:

"Oh. Oh. Oh my fucking god."

Cherie forced herself to watch the young girl cum. Her face turned red with embarrassment and I hoped Cherie would go someplace and make herself cum too. The thought of Cherie cumming to the act of me and Becca fucking got me off so hard and so wet that I reached the point and was grabbing Becca's hips and pulling her down so she wouldn't go anywhere during my orgasm and I looked at the girl, too young for me, then I looked at my Cherie standing in the doorway and I saw her crying and that finished off my orgasm. Even though not touching, Cherie was with us in some way. And that some way made me cum in Rebecca's young girl pussy and made it extra extra fine.


Rebecca is by my side. I feel the silk-thin fabric of her dress against my arm, my wrist, my hand.

I pull my hand back.

"Scared?" Rebecca says.

I turn my head upward.

"Yeah," I say.

Rebecca sits beside me.

"What are you doing?" she asks.

"Getting ready for the show and I wish you hadn't followed me here."

People are arriving. A few. Placing seat holders on their chairs: Folded binders, sweaters to guard against the air conditioning.

Rebecca schooches closer.

I schooch away.

"Sorry," she says.

"Is your stutter for real?" I ask.

"It is," she says.

"But it stops when you're around me."

"It seems to."

"That's so convenient," I say.

"You mean for me," she says. "You mean I'm lying."

"Not exactly! The mind is a complex thing. You might be lying and you don't even know it. Which would mean you're not lying. In a way."

"That's not happening!"

"Chill," I say.

But she continues: "Mr Chance. I have a speech problem. Call my roomie in New York."

"On your application you said you were from Delaware."

"I know. I'm."

"Under cover?"

"Kind of. Yes."

"Are you a spy?" I ask.

"I'm not a spy," Rebecca says. "I'm just a regular girl from NYC who talks funny and I came here 'cause I need your help."

"But you're up here flirting with me."

"I'm not flirting. I retract the flirt. Everything flirtatious is gone. As of now, I am no longer flirting with you. Ok?"

We're both quiet for a minute.

"Are you gonna help me?"

"Yes. Yes. I'm thinking. I don't know what to do for you. I am going to help you. Believe me, alright? I'm going to do everything I can to help you."

"My case is impossible, isn't it."

"No case is impossible," I say.

"And you believe that?"

"Of course I do. How do you think I became Martin Kevin Chance? By believing that shit is impossible? Everything is possible, including your case."

I set my hand on Rebecca's thigh without thinking about it.

I pull it back immediately.

Rebecca looks at me.

"You want to touch me, don't you?"

"You wish that was the case," I say.

"I've been inside your fantasies," this girl says.

"You don't know how true that is."

"What did you see?"

I look her in the face.

"What did you see us do?" she says.

I think back to the actual fantasy. The one I had just now. I was already filling in shaded areas with actual details from Rebecca's face, putting her in the dress she's wearing now, painting blank parts with Rebecca's skin, adding details from the face I was looking at into my image of her orgasm face. I felt her pussy in my imagination cumming on my cock. Hot. Wet.

"It was naughtier than you think," I say.

"Your whole life is naughtier than people think," Rebecca says.

"Why do you think that?" I say.

"There's probably 1000 women in this room who want you."

"Oh you think so."

"There is," she says. "I think that's why you do this."

"That is not why I do this."

"Not why you started," she says. "But that's what it's become. You bring along Cherie. Then you flirt with me. Did not Cherie hold my place before you met her? When you were with Eleanor."

"What in the hell do you know about Eleanor?"

"Everything. Everything worth knowing. I bet every third girl in this room knows about you and Eleanor. Of course you try to keep her a secret."

"I do not try to keep Eleanor a secret. Not talking about something isn't the same thing as keeping it a secret. How in hell do you know about Eleanor?"

"Internet," Rebecca says.

"And you believe that shit?"

"I guess so," she says. "It's forum posts and things. Some videos. And also The Unauthorized Biography of Martin Chance."

"Have you read that?"

"Of course. Have you?"

"I flipped through pages! Holy hell. It's bull crap!"

"Seems real enough," Rebecca says.

"You have some unauthorized book about me. And you have me, seated next to you, ready to answer your questions. Which one will you choose to believe?"


"One thing it says in the book. That I never believed. But that's there nonetheless. Is this rumor that before Eleanor, there were millions of teenage predecessors who took your attention."

"Millions?"

"That there were lots. Like. Tens."

"Who cares," I say.

"I do. The average number of sexual partners for an American is 10 or 11. The global wisdom is that you're above average in this stat."

"Yeah, but. Above average for that stat. It's meaningless."

"The average for the world is nine."

"So?"

"So. How many women have you been with?"

"When I was younger I went to this bar. This dance club. I knew the bartender. He was my friend Michael. He said once he had slept with hundreds of women. But that was probably just a brag, right?"

"Um, no. A bartender can have those kind of numbers."

"A hundred, though. Two hundred."

"When a girl goes to a bar. Dance club. Whatever. She goes to get laid. But all the people who come to the bar that one night are hardly trustable by this girl. If she goes many nights in a row, she'll see the same people, find one of them, and go home with him or her. She has to have her trust satisfied. Or she can go for the bartender. He's tried and trusted. If he fucks her over she can come back to the bar and complain. So the bartender has an obligation to treat her right. I could see numbers in the hundreds for a bartender."

"Next question."

"What's your motivation?"

"I'm not your scene partner. My motivation isn't as simple as an actor's. I have multiple motivations coming from various angles."

"List the top three."

"I'll try. One: I want to help myself."

"I believe that."

"Yeah? Believe it more. I came from a shitty place in life."

"Your early tribulations in Memphis."

"It's not as simple as that."

"I'm sorry."

"You can't just say, 'your early tribulations,' and expect it to match up with me. I'm not a character in a book. Like anyone, there's no single catchphrase that's going to sum me up or fit me properly. I brush my teeth. I get fat. I have to exercise, go to the dentist. Someone has to buy groceries for the house."

"Your maid."

"No! No. I do my own grocery shopping. Me and Cherie go to this little place in Pacifica. They know who we are but it's like friends there. There's like. Two checkout lanes. The maid only goes if we're sick or something."

"Or if you don't want to go," Rebecca says.

"Next question," I say.

Rebecca doesn't miss a beat.

"Do you believe, totally, completely, in NLP?"

I meet her eyes. Look at her throughout my answer to this question.

"I was in a very low place in my life. When my life began. My whole life has been lived with the intention of getting out of that place. My upbringing was so fucked up that it's worth spending my entire adulthood trying to escape it. And I have done that: I have escaped the aspects of my youth that are possible to escape. And I have brought with me those aspects I can never escape. I have developed new aspects which are not my mother's fault that are equally inescapable. I have early onset Parkinson's. Maybe, genetically, that's my mom's fault. Maybe not. Either way I have less dopamine that you flowing through my brain. That's why I jump rope before a show. I'm replacing the natural dopamine release with the endorphin rush of exercise. That reduces my perception of pain and I can get through an hour or two of seminar activity before I have to jump rope again. Does that answer your question?"

"Not really," Rebecca says. "What I asked you was: Do you, Martin Kevin Chance. Do you believe totally and completely in NLP?"


"I guess I'd have to ask you: Do you believe in NLP?"

"As much as you do," says Rebecca.

"Well I believe in it enough to take me across a fire walk."

"I'll do that," Rebecca says. "That and anything else you have for me to do."

"That's as much as I have. Twenty feet of coals. It'll take your giving up every fear you have, every thought, every doubt. You have to let it all go. I mean you have to let it all fucking go."

"I can do that," she says. "I can do it instantly. I trust you completely with my feet, with my body, with my stutter."

"There is the matter of trusting me. That comes first. But right after: You have to trust yourself. You have to trust your own mind. That it can do things for you that you've never done before. That's where your trust really must lie."

Rebecca sits back and looks at the stage.

Members of the staff are clearing tables, moving chairs.

Rebecca says: "I trust you completely. I trust your preparation. For the show. For the fire walk. I trust myself as far as I flew myself here. To learn from you. I don't want to leave here the same person as when I arrived. I believe in a transformative power. Not exactly a god. But something, out there, who is waiting for me to take a leap of faith."

She looks at me.

"I'm ready for that," she says.

And the girl gets up and walks down the stairs toward the stage.


I hardly think about the fire walk. Truth be known, it has nothing to do with NLP. I included it because it's a dramatic illustration of the power of expectation. People have done fire walks for thousands of years and the only trick to it is that whatever you expect to happen to you, happens. People have been doing this long before NLP and it only fits with an NLP conference in that it shows the relationship between the physical brain, the spiritual mind, the physical body and the spiritual. Spirit. I guess.

People buy it as NLP related. NLP touches on the same concepts.

I have burned my own feet on the fire walk.

It works for me about 99% of the time.

And I've done it hundreds of times. Hundreds.

The times that I've failed, all I get is minor burns treatable on-site. Not the level of burns you would expect for walking on a bed of coals. White hot coals. Gray coals. They start out black. We throw lighter fluid over them. Set them off. Do a meditation. Get in a back rub circle. The major factor is relaxation. A person is relaxed enough, they don't even think about the coals. That is what I want.

Then when people walk, a few get burned. The rest either say they have no burns or they actually have none. My people check their feet either way. And if they make it across without needing to go to the hospital, people consider it success! They have fewer burns than they expected. They walked across coals and still stand on something other than two blistered stumps. That is success for most people.

And it solidifies what I have been teaching them all weekend: That they can do anything. That everything is possible for them. That they can go home and feel like masters of the universe.

Walking across coals is something you only need to do once.

It gives you an indelible memory.

Your human form. Walking. Relaxed. Slowly. Coming home. Slowly turning into a god. Into someone who can do anything, if only by comparison. I walked across glowing coals. Now every task in the real world is pale by comparison. If the fire walk didn't hurt me then this real world problem can't hurt me. It is a piece of cake.

The fact is that people do get injured by the fire walk.

A small percentage.

We clean them up at the end of the segment.

Almost no one goes to the hospital. When they do, I pay for their stay. They get fixed up. They leave. All anyone ever remembers is their newly opened mind, their new goals for their business or their life.

I go first when we do this. When the coal master says the temperature is right. Once he's sprayed it and sprayed it with water, Larry spaces out the coals so you don't have to touch them every step of the way. It's easy, ok? But it's not that easy. Your feet will touch coals and if you're doing it right you feel extreme cold. Just like the piece of ice I was talking about earlier. If you think it's hot, your skin will react as though it's hot. If you think it's cold, your skin will react as though it's cold. That's the whole secret and anything you would ever have to know about a fire walk.

That and release forms.

I guess what's really different about the fire walk I do and James doing those sweat lodges: A sweat lodge can kill you and the most you'll ever get from a fire walk is burned feet. Plus I'm in the arena when we do the fire walk. James was not in the actual sweat lodge where the deaths occurred. He left Arizona as soon as he found out what had happened. But it doesn't matter. He was the leader of the conference where three people died. You're the leader, you're responsible. The people who died hadn't eaten for two days. Eighteen others went to the hospital with burns, dehydration, trouble breathing, kidney failure.

Also, James had related problems in earlier seminars: Hand fractures, arrows through the face, a death in San Francisco.

Anyway I was imagining that girl Rebecca walking through coals. I imagined her succeeding. I knew that she would. Ancient tradition and neuro-linguistic programming were behind me. If that failed, simple physics would back me up: According to science, the foot is not in contact with the ground long enough to produce a burn. As well, there is a layer of cooled charcoal between the sole of the foot and the glowing embers inside the coal. It doesn't require any supernatural power. It doesn't require a belief in NLP. It's a trick of the ages that magicians have been doing for thousands of years. Following simple guidelines. Used to reshape the minds of those who watch it. Those who do it. With one end, one purpose: To prove that the impossible is possible.


That is what I think about standing behind the curtain.

Impossible things, coming down like rain.

Each one contained in a bubble of soap.

And me popping every bubble before it hits the ground.

I make the impossible possible.

It is a catchphrase for a god. For the master of the ring.

For nothing was ever impossible. It is only people, in this condensed form, who label the states of the world as: Possible, impossible. That is all our doing. Image a floor full of toys. Draw a circle on the floor. It will include some toys: Those are possible. It will exclude others: They are impossible. But it's really all possible. You just have to cast your net wider. Wider. And widest of them all.

I stand behind the curtain, arms stretched for the ceiling. Bringing down the power of the lights. As power of my own. Drawing from their electricity. Into my arms. Through my hands. Power for my shoulders. Every amp, every watt of their continence placed there for me, before, when the room was built. But no one in that age ever thought to use the lights as I do.

Walking to the front of the stage.

Raising my arms. Up and down.

The lights rising and falling with the waving of my arms.

Up. Up.

Down. Down.

Music rising. Falling. In volume and phrase.

Everyone in the house following suit. Raising their arms. Lowering them. It's simply follow the leader, unannounced. Us all engaging in a mimic. It's safe to do it when the lights are low. It's safe to do it if everyone is doing it. The music gets under your fingernails and don't ask me who it is because if I tell you, you will buy it and write to me, saying, "Martin, this music doesn't sound the same now that I'm doing it on my own, in the kitchen. With the lights on." And I will say: "Dear Friend, the music exercise relies on a portion of magic which exists in a room with 3000 others who share your dream. You cannot do it at home. You can simulate it, though: Play the music on earbuds. Play it in your bedroom or any room you can get dark enough to remember the room at the conference."

Remember the darkness. Remember the heat you felt from the person standing next to you. Remember, if it was a person you had never met, the first time you said hi to that stranger. Now think of the smell of their body. Whatever perfume or natural smells that person contained. And feel your body as you felt it on the beginning of the second day "at camp."

Remember how I called it camp.

Remember how you felt at camp. At real camp! In the seventh grade, sleep away camp, for weeks at a time. The first time you were felt down in the lake. That hyperactive girl who wanted to do it with you worse than you wanted her! The way she touched you underneath the waves. A gentle top to the lake. And just enough time for her to touch you in ways described as "wrong." Ways described as "too soon." But ways that to you were always just right.

Think of going away to camp. The first time. You were the youngest age group there. There were nights by the fire. Free time in the afternoon, when you went to the canteen and spent all your money on Combos and candy. The day you were casually running your camp counselor's knife across the tip of your thumb, without him noticing. And you cut your thumb massively and had to go to the nurse. Think about the first day versus the last day: How you went from standing behind your parents in the parking lot to hugging every girl, every boy, everyone posing for a picture before you never see them again. Think of that, standing in your bathroom, rising your hands up and down with the rise and the fall of the lights above. They're your stars. This is how you navigate.

You are a tiny ball of flesh.

In the dark of the seminar.

Secretly peeking at me. Wondering who I really am.

Thinking of the goals in your life. You want to be rich. No! You want happiness, then riches. Happiness, riches, great relationships. You want your kids to talk to you. You want to see the ocean before you die. Each of these goals is possible. They're easy, actually. They are easy to those people who have become willing to truly, instantly, completely, wholly, adventurously give up the past. That's what it requires. The first thing I had to do on my search for gaining everything and everyone I wanted was, paradoxically, to give it all away. That is what I did, to start. I accepted the loss of everything in my life. Everything great and wild that I had ever known. I had to make it go.

And I close my eyes.

And I open them.

I can see your future.

I can see yours.

And I raise my hands one more time, all the way up.

And the lights rise and stay.

"Who is ready?" I shout, and the microphone carries it perfectly. To every ear. To every brain. To every heart. "Who is ready to make a change?"

Crowd music. Crowd life. They scream!

"You have all made incredible journeys to be here."

Screams!

"Secretly I think each and every one of you knows what brought you here. I think in every heart in this room is a present box. For you! Everyone here has brought this present box. Every one of you can open it. Inside are your wildest dreams. Not those bus stop dreams where you say, 'Gee, I wish I had a stick of gum.' Not those. Those are not the type of dreams I'm speaking of. Those are fever dreams. The type of dream I'm speaking of. Is the type of dream you harbor underneath the covers. The dreams you have of sleeping with a different lover! Those dreams you have, like hate, for your current situation. That make you cry. That you can't express to anyone. Believe me, though: Your dreams that you're ashamed of? Those are the keys to your happiness. Those truly are the keys to your life in this place. Never silence them! Whatever embarrasses you also empowers you. You know how every quality you like is the flip side to a quality you don't like? Those are the dreams we will speak of today. Those dreams! I want you to take out your packets. Write them down. You write in that book the hopes you hold most dear. Then we're going to read them. Out loud. In front of this entire room."


"Who's first?"

An ocean of hands arrive. Raised above their owners' heads. Holding book binders, demanding to be seen.

I go to a man in the front row.

"Yes. Read me your dreams."

"I want to go."

"Louder!"

"I want to go. To the moon."

"Nice! That is a goal that is viable in this day. Why do you want to go there?"

"I want to go somewhere really quiet."

"The moon will do! If quiet is what you're looking for, you could try the Allegheny National Forest. Or Canada. Or Alaska! They're a lot cheaper and they're almost as quiet as the moon. Thank you, sir! Who's next? Yes. You! What is your dream?"

A woman stands with the help of a rolling chair.

She leans in toward the microphone.

"I want," she says gravelly, "to write a book."

"That is great," I say. "Writing a book is the number one thing that people who come to my conferences want to do. That they haven't done. What is your book about?"

"I think. It's the story of my life."

"Excellent. Your own story is the story you know most well. That's the story you can tell a hundred times in a hundred ways. It's something I've never even done! I've written seven books, all about NLP, but never written my life story. Good for you. What's the first scene of your biography?"

"My first plane ride."

"Awesome! How old were you?"

"I was. Seven. I think. My dad put me on a plane to see my mom and I worried I was lost. I thought I'd never come back. I had to change planes in Phoenix and it was just me. I was so young. When I changed planes I thought I was on the wrong one and I thought that was it. I thought I'd be lost forever."

"That is good emotion, good storytelling. Do you have an outline for the book?"

"No."

"In my opinion, an outline is what you need first. Get a pack of notecards. Write on each one something you want to happen in your book. Put them in order. Then, each day, take a card from the stack and write that scene. Do that every day and you'll have your book! Thank you, miss. You, sir, in the very back row. Yes, I see you! You with the Laker's cap. Find a microphone. One is coming toward you. Tell me your dream."

"I want a second food truck."

"What kind of food?"

"Burritos. Tacos."

"You have one truck now?"

"Yeah."

"What's the second truck? You got a specific location you're trying to serve. Or. Just want to double your income?"

"Just want to double my income."

"Have you ever thought of franchising your truck? Get someone else to make a copy. Don't double your capacity. Become the next McDonald's. Where do people need more burrito buggies, taco trucks? Is it in LA?"

The crowd goes "no!"

"Where do they need more burrito buggies?"

"Arizona?" the man shouts.

"Move further!" I shout up at him.

"New Mexico!" he shouts.

"Try moving up! Oregon. Portland. Has a huge supply of food trucks but not enough burritos! Try Dayton, Ohio! A town square with plenty of lunchtime business shoppers but no burritos, no tacos at all!"

"I don't want to move to Ohio!" the guy says.

I leap up the bottom few stairs, toward him.

"You don't have to! But sell a burrito buggy license to someone who does. What's the name of your cart?"

"Burritos."

"Ok, well get another name, to start with. Ask the people seated next to you to help. Say: Hey, neighbor! Help me come up with a new name for my food cart."

"What if they don't do it for free?"

"Pay them! You don't have to pay them now. Tell them it's a contest. Whoever comes up with the winning name gets a 1% share in the resulting business. You're selling the potential of earning a lot of money. Your food cart, as a living breathing entity in our world, is worth something. It has a value. A value is like a threat. What do you have now? A food truck. But what might you have tomorrow? Two food trucks? A thousand? You don't want to cheat people. However. Your truck has value and you can never forget that. You be the leader. All you have to do is be one idea ahead of the curve. If everyone else is thinking, 'Let me make a second truck,' while you're thinking, 'Let me turn this restaurant idea into a franchise.' If you do that. That's the way leaders are born. Got me? I want to come to LA next year and visit your original truck as well as the first five franchises. Get busy. I'm serious. If you just got everything you came to get from me, you can walk out of this building right now. Take the steps. Make it happen."

I watch, still.

Say nothing.

The Laker's cap looks at me.

He looks around the conference.

And everyone looks back at him. Up or over or side.

And the guy lifts his cap off his head. He graduates himself. He grabs his conference binder and his pencil as well as a personal bag sized right for a tablet. He bows to me and leaves through the back doors and I never see him again.

A few years later I get a postcard from the airport in Dayton, Ohio. The photo on the front is of the guy in the Laker's cap, in front of a burrito cart situated in Courthouse Square. The only thing on the card, written in architectural print, is text that says: "Twelve carts in four cities. Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Los Angeles."

I keep that postcard on my refrigerator.

It's held there with alphabet magnets.

That is a guy who has mastered The Guru Principle.

Take what you can get. Put it in place as soon as possible.

Once you've been touched at a conference, leave.


"Once you feel the power, you can leave. That's right. You did not come here to see me. You came to see yourself. To know yourself. That takes a strong man, there, to get up. To walk out. To leave this place and go home. That is where you're going to make your changes. In your real life. In your hometown. Not some city in California. Not at the Westlake Four Seasons! These guys have got their shit down. That's why we come here. Have you ever seen a hotel staff with its shit so together it squeaks? That's why we're in Westlake. But. But. Who's going next? You ma'am."

"My dream. Is to weigh as much as I did in high school."

"To weigh as much as you did in high school. Well. You're going to have to change three things, in this order: First, how you think about food. Second, your diet. Third, exercise. That's what I focus on when I think about losing weight. You want a tip?"

"What," says this lady.

"Forget about the second two and just focus on how you think about food."

"I do that!"

"Come here. Come toward the front of the stage. Let me tell you some beliefs I have about food. I believe that food is an item of abundance. Not lack. There is enough food in the world for everyone. Certainly for you. Where do you live?"

"Plain City, Ohio."

"I've driven through! Never stopped there. Repeat after me: Plain City, Ohio has enough food for me and for everyone who lives there. You can repeat it in your head. So first of all: There's plenty of food. You're not going to run out. You can eat less. When you're making food, make less! If you're hungry later, you can eat more. Also: I believe that it's better to eat less food when its healthy! If I come about with healthy food, less is more. I feel good when I eat a small amount of healthy food. Say that to yourself: I feel better when I eat a small amount of healthy food. I am comfortable with snacks instead of big meals. You don't have to believe these statements to start with. Say them to yourself multiple times each day. Say them to yourself when you start feeling hungry. What other beliefs do I have about food that help me stay thin? I bet they're the opposite of beliefs you have. What's your name?"

"Angie."

"What do you believe about yourself and about food?"

"I believe. That I'm ugly."

"How ugly do you feel?"

"I feel like the ugliest person in the world."

"Oh no! Oh no, Angie. Go ahead and feel that. Because we're going to get rid of that belief right now."

Angie spurts a laugh.

Then she bends over and tears flow from her eyes.

"I want you to feel that. Then, when you're ready, I want you to stand up and get a hug from me."

Angie feels it. This woman that is larger than me by a factor of two. She rests her hands on her knees and cries. A deep cry. A cry that's been building up for years.

"How many?" I say.

"How many what?" says Angie.

"How many years have you been waiting to cry?"

"Fourteen."

"You came to this conference to cry, didn't you?"

Becks nods.

"Stand up, my girl. You came here to be freed. Who's at home that you cannot cry around?"

"My husband!"

"Is he here?"

Angie shakes her head.

"Why isn't he here?"

"He doesn't want to change."

"Is he heavy?"

"He's skinny!"

"He doesn't want you to change."

"No!"

"Why doesn't he want you to change?"

"He does. He doesn't believe it's possible."

"But you do."

"I think so."

"No, I'm telling you. That wasn't a question. You do believe it's possible. That's why you've come to this show."

There's silence between us.

Angie breathes.

I breathe with her, touching her belly.

"That's you breathing," I say. "In. Out. You know what we're doing?"

"Match and move," she says.

"Excellent. You've read your books. I'm matching your breathing. We're breathing the same way. Now I'm going to change my breathing and hopefully bring you up to speed. Into the mood that I'm in. I'm in a fantastic mood. I'm happy with my weight. Say that out loud: I'm happy with my weight. I'm happy with my body! Those phrases will become your best friend in the next few years. See, there's nothing wrong with you. Say it."

Angie works through the phrase like it's the first phrase she ever said: "I'm. Happy. With my. Body."

"Do you believe it?"

"No!"

"Then you haven't said it enough. That's all you have to think about when I ask you how dearly you hold a particular belief. Don't think about whether or not you believe it. Just say it again! Action comes before belief. That is true in this case as it is true in so many cases. Do the action. Save feeling the belief for later. Your belief engine is clogged! That is all that is going on here. Somewhere, before you gained weight, you developed a set of beliefs that is unhelpful to you. Then you started feeling bad. Then you gained weight. What we're doing here is helping you to love yourself again."

I had more planned to say but the woman looked beat up.

She actually looked as though someone had beat her up in the parking lot between her car and the door to the hotel.

I hugged her.

And she cried on my shirt.

I loved that woman with my hug. With my arms and hands. With every ounce of my body.

And she cried like someone who has lost a lover.

I whispered to her: "You deserve love. Most of all you deserve it from yourself. You have internalized your husband's disdain for your body. That is why you weigh what you do. Untangle the belief system. Stop relying on your husband's hate for you. You expect to feel that hate when you go home from here, don't you?"

Angie nods and I continue to whisper:

"Unlink what your husband says. Unlink your own beliefs about food and weight and hate and love. I want you to be happy about food. What do you feel when you eat?"

"I hate myself."

"What do you feel when you prepare food?"

"I fucking hate myself!" she cries.

A human being in pain.

This is where I come in.

I open my hug so that Angie faces the whole audience.

"Tell them what you told me," I say.

Angie turns mute.

"Go ahead," I say. "You're in good company!"

The woman says: "I hate myself."

"Louder."

"I hate myself."

"Louder than that."

"I hate myself!"

"Nice!"

"I HATE MYSELF!" she screams.

And the entire audience is silent.

"Where did you get that idea? Angie? Where did that incredibly disempowering belief come from?"

"My husband."

"At first, maybe yes. Where does it come from now?"

Angie looks at me and she knows the answer.

"From myself," she says. "From my fucking self."

I hug her to say, You did it! You extra-large woman. You have just done it. You said your most intimate belief. To 3000 people. And it's a horrible belief. Horrible. But. That is how we treat ourselves sometimes.


"Let me ask you something, Angie. What happened when you said that belief out loud. When you said it to 3000 people?"

"It became false."

"It became false! Describe the experience!"

"It sounded funny when I said it."

"It sounded funny?"

"Yes I was thinking, 'I hate myself,' then I screamed it. Then, suddenly, it sounded funny."

"Funny how."

"Funny like it's not even true!"

I box her shoulder.

"It isn't. Somebody got you thinking that way. I bet you know who it is, too."

"I do. That part came to me, too."

"Angie. Tell us all. We are listening to you."

I square off with Angie. Look in one eye. The other. I give her the nod.

"It was my stepdad."

"Uh-oh," I say.

"Yeah," Angie says. "My stepdad was really mean to me."

"Use precise language."

"He abused me."

"Sexually?"

"Yes. When Mom wasn't looking. He would touch me in the yard with other girls. Behind the refrigerator door. In the kitchen when Mom was in the living room. He would come in my room at night and pull down my panties."

"From what age."

"Seven."

"Isn't that amazing."

"What."

"You had to pay la-de-da to come to my conference and say that. Is there any environment of home in which you would come to this realization, this statement of where this belief came from?"

"No. There isn't. And he didn't make me hate him."

"Of course not. You did."

"He didn't make me feel this way about myself."

"Who did?"

Angie points to her own chest.

The crowd goes, "Ahh!"

"It was me," Angie says. "I did."

I pinch her nose.

"Of course you did."

"I hated myself. I was at fault!"

"How's that?"

"I was the sexy one!"

"At seven?"

"At seven. At eight. I gained weight so he wouldn't be interested."

"Did that work?"

"Like a charm. When I was big he didn't want me."

"That was good?"

"Yes, but."

"But what?"

"He switched to my little sister."

"She wasn't fat."

"She was five years old!"

"How did that feel?"

"It felt like it was my fault."

"How's your sister doing now?"

"She's not! She lives in a psych ward north of LA."

"How long has she been there?"

"Thirty years?"

"What's the exact number?"

"She's lived there for 32 years."

"Thirty-two years. You knew the exact number of years. All I had to do was ask for it. Thirty-two years. Do you feel it's your fault she's in there?"

"Yes! Of course!"

"But it's not."

"No?"

"No. Not the fact that your sister is in the hospital or the fact that your stepfather did those things to you or the fact that you have come to me in your fifties to finally address this problem: None of that is your fault in the least. No. Not a slice of it. Now get ready. And you from the audience. You get ready too. Sit forward in your seats. If you need to be closer, get up and come on down. We're gonna workshop this. Is that ok with you, Angie? Excellent. You have come to the right place. You have come at the right time. Angie, Angie! Take off your shoes! Fucking right. I'm taking mine off, too! I want to feel grounded to this hotel floor. Angie. Angie. See, you came here for healing but I don't think you even knew what kind of healing you sought. Girl, girl. Loosen your beliefs. Feel how funny they feel. Imagine yourself standing at the edge of that crowd and saying what you just told me. That you hate yourself. Imagine everyone in the crowd laughing. Laughing! But they're not laughing at you. They're laughing at the belief you put forth. That you hate yourself? How does that sound now? Silly? Like a game? A joke? You can call it whatever you want but from now on those words are to be known to your mind as The Silliest Joke in the World!"

Angie steps toward me and hugs me with her face full of tears.

"You got this," I whisper. "Now stand in front of that audience and say your former belief to them."

She does.

She steps back from me.

Steps to face the audience.

Then she raises both arms and shouts at them:

"I hate myself?"

I laugh.

The audience laughs. They laugh loud. They laugh organic phases into their mass, some laughing here, some there, some all the way through.

Angie says it again.

"I HATE MYSELF?"

And everyone from the left coast to the east laughs Angie's belief into the dark ages.


"What's really going on here? What is a belief and what power does that thing hold against us? We're walking around this Earth, with tens of thousands of beliefs rocking around our heads. And they're controlling us! But what are we doing to control them? If you believe that you hate yourself, what does it cost you? I mean in terms of wasted time. Wasted money. You're not wasting your life if you're examining your belief system. Daily. Hourly. By the minute. That's what Socrates said. I believe him. From an early age, I heard Socrates' famous saying, 'An unexamined life is not worth living.' And from an early age, I have been applying that maxim to every aspect of my mind, body, my spirit. We are all saying the same thing. Remember how I told you that an airplane is off-course for 99.9% of its flight? And yet, airplanes almost always arrive at their pre-chosen destination. How is that? Socrates says examine your life at every point. As you're flying the plane. The pilot, or autopilot in this case, is making adjustments every second, every subsecond, during your flight. Even though the nose of the plane is pointed at some other destination almost the entire duration of your flight. The life of that flight is an extremely examined life. One of its beliefs is almost probably that, 'I will make it to my destination.' If that wasn't a belief of the flight, your plane or your pilot might get discouraged. You might not make it to your destination. What other beliefs do you have that determine the course of your flight? Let's go back to that first one: Do you even believe you will make your goal? Or do some of you have beliefs that preclude you ever making it home? You see what I'm saying? See how delicately a belief that you will fail will plague you at every second along the way? That simple belief: That I will succeed. It must start there. You have to believe that or else you will definitely fail. You will definitely fail. If, before you start your trip, you do not believe you will get to the end you desire, then how can you possibly succeed? How can you succeed in reality if you can't succeed in your mind? That's where everything starts: The mind. That's where the battle is won: Your mind. Everything you do starts inside of you! Inside those curvy entrails of your brain. Inside every muscle in your body. Inside your plans for yourself. For others. You have to become so subtle at operating this machine. This machine. This machine is what powers your life. It's precise. Use precise language when you speak to it. Don't say: I will succeed! Say: I will double the income from my coastal fishing business. I will give bonuses to my employees this year. I will move away from my abusers this year. How many of you does that apply to? Let's see hands. Oh! Almost all of you. What a surprise. What about the belief that you hate yourself? Who has that one? Show my your hands. Ouch. That hurts. Keep your hands up. Everybody look around you. That's a whole lot of hate that's going absolutely nowhere. Did I ask you to bring hate to this conference? Remember that little blue card that had packing suggestions? Who remembers seeing 'hate' on that list? Show me hands. Ahh! So I didn't ask any of you to bring your hate and yet almost all of you brought some. Well, we're going to have to deal with this right now. I can't proceed with so much hate bouncing around this room. What if you shine your hate on someone and it happens to be me? So to deal with this we're all going outside. Every one of us. Staff backstage: We're going outside. Pseudo-staff, left side, you're going too. Main crowd? That's the middle 3000 of you. Take your hate with you. I'll take mine too. Middle 3000: Follow me. Everyone: Follow us outside. We're going to bury all this self-hate in the yard."


"Take your trowel from the attendants at each side of the exit door."

Most people never even ask why I have attendants stationed at each side of the exit door, giving out garden shovels.

"Find yourself a unique spot in the yard. Somewhere you won't be bothered by anyone else. Somewhere you can take that self-hate and bury it. Don't worry about digging a tunnel to China. Just dig about a foot. Two. Take the sheet of paper from your conference binder. The one labeled 'Self Hate' at the top. By now you should have filled it out with 10 or 20 aspects of yourself that you hate. Read through them before you bury them forever."

"Is this paper biodegradable?"

"Yes," I say. (It isn't.) "All the details have been taken care of for you so don't worry about anything but hate. Self-hate. Bury it. There's no more work you have to do except to rip that paper into shreds and bury it!"

"I don't want to cause an environmental concern."

"Leave environmental concerns to me. My worry. The environment will not be harmed by this activity. Feel the self-hate as you bury it." Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera. Environmental concerns are mine. I walk the yard. Watching everyone bury their papers of hate. I walk by Rebecca. "Have someone come out here after midnight and un-bury every one of these goddamn papers and have them properly disposed of," I whisper.

Rebecca nods.

"Motherfucking self-hate," I say. "It's a killer. Do you know what actually kills people with cancer? It's the stress. It has nothing to do with quote-unquote cancer. It's the fact that once your body has turned on you, the natural response is one of self-hate. You hate your every cell for turning to cancer. Hate every cancerous breath that comes out of your goddamn mouth. How many of you have cancer? I'm sorry. How many of you have survived it? Look around! It is possible, people. It depends on your mind." I'm walking up and down imagined rows of soldiers. Re-building their minds. Implanting new beliefs. Rooting out the old ones. "Once you're done, stand in the spot where your self-hate is buried. You have conquered it. Imagine the words on that paper being eaten by worms! That's exactly what's going to happen. You will leave this yard. Lose track of what you buried. That pain. The horror of carrying beliefs implanted by another. Beliefs implanted by you! Forget what they are! Become the Tower of Babel. The language in which you buried self-hate is different than the language you would need to speak, in order to un-bury that self-hate. And you do not speak it! There are coding systems, security, where the algorithms work like this. One language is used to encode. An entirely different language is needed to decode. You need two languages to encode, to decode. And all you have is one. So bury your hate with the language you have, and be glad you don't know the language needed to unbury it. That is your safety tonight. This is a one way function. You can perform the function but you lack the knowledge to un-perform the function. You're like a squirrel who buries his nut in a particular spot. Then immediately forgets. He will unbury nuts, yes. But not his own. Do you know that this is actually how squirrels operate? They never even dig up the nuts that they themselves buried. They're the pets of the trees. Their whole life's work to them seems like saving for winter. In reality, a squirrel is the unknowing slave to trees. Helping spread the trees' seed. That is what you are like out here in this yard."

And later that night: Me, Cherie, Rebecca, Larry, the rest of my tight staff. Thirty-five people bent over on hands and knees, digging up papers of self-hate in the front lawn of the Westlake Village Four Seasons. Hotel and bar. Conference center. My favorite place in the world.

"Dig them up! Find a hole. Inset the trowel. Spin the trowel three sixty. The push the trowel. In! One time! Down! If you find a paper, pinch its edges. Two fingers. Pull! If it's a paper of hate, put it in your bag. If it's something else: Drop it! Drop it, re-fill your hole. Quickly! Quickly, move to a different spot. You're not squirrels. As many of you might believe. You are hawks. Or peregrine falcons or whatever. Just clean this motherfucking shit up by dawn."

Rebecca finds me, digging beside my Cherie.

"You don't have to do this," Rebecca says.

"Well. I do. I'm the boss and I told you to do this intractable task so I do very much have to be here on my hands and knees. If I don't, then you and all these other people here will lose their faith in me and no amount of money will be enough to pay you to follow me."

Rebecca shifts so she's standing on one foot.

"Cherie. You don't have to do this."

Cherie stops. She gets up on her knees to talk to Rebecca.

"I do, honey. I do have to do this. You're too young to know why but."

"I am not too young."

"Rebecca. Get away from this spot," Cherie says. "Turn and walk away. I am not in the mood to deal with your dumb ass right now."

"You cuss too," Rebecca says.

"Damn right I do," says my dear Cherie. "And with me it's not part of the program. So why don't you get the fuck away from me and Marty. Let the relationships that exist teach you."

"I don't need your relationship to teach me shit!"

"Girl, you don't even know what you don't know," Cherie says. "You're too young. You wouldn't know how to please my man if you had a 30-night one-night stand. You might as well take that pussy and go back to Harlem. Get you some action there."

"Ladies," I say. "Honestly. Please."

"You're encouraging her!" Cherie shouts.

"Cherie. I am doing nothing of the sort."

Some of the nearby diggers have stopped digging to listen.

"Ladies. Please!" I say.

But this time it's Cherie who comes back to me:

"This will be handled by me and her. Me and her. Ok? You've lost your objectivity."

Cherie stands up.

"Let's go," she says. "You and me."

Rebecca sizes up my girlfriend. She looks Cherie up and down. The worst kind of look one girl can give another. The look of: I have evaluated you. Especially your body. And I have found you lacking. Cherie got that kind of look from Rebecca.

Then Rebecca turned and walked away.

Leaving my Cherie standing there looking at no one.

Cherie kicked a pile of dirt into my latest puddle of self-hate.

She stood over me, judging me, hoping I would claim her. Say everything Rebecca said is wrong.

But I'm sorry. I didn't do that.

I looked up at my Cherie.

"Why does it always have to be about hate with you?"

"It has nothing to do with hate. Martin. Martin Kevin. Martin Kevin Chance."

"Yes?"

"You're a sham. A scam. And I hope all you people know it!"

Cherie throws down her trowel.

It falls on its side.

My girl storms off. Kicking self-hate holes over. Shallowing them. Exposing them to the sky. Every member of my tight staff that Cherie walks beside, they look up at her from their digging stations. Men wanting her. Women wanting her. Cherie knows it and she gives them all nothing.

I pick up Cherie's trowel and stick it in the ground.

Over a potential pile of self-hate.

I grab the handle and start to dig.

This is how it will go for the next three hours. No one speaks. We have a job to do. At 3am I stand. Declare the self-hate dig to be over. Tell everyone to go back to their rooms.

"Thanks for your help and your loyalty," I say. "Your check will reflect this. Please get some sleep and show up on time tomorrow morning. Sunday night is the fire walk and I need everyone rested and alert. If you need to take a nap in the afternoon, do it. During conferees' free time. We need all fire walk safety constraints to be checked and double checked. And. I'm sorry. I'm sorry to keep all of you up this late. Next year we'll use biodegradable paper to satisfy that one bitch and every bitch like her."


Things are different when you're the one paying for them. Dinners. Conferences. Self-help recordings. All have areas where you can shirk and areas where you can't.

This biodegradable biotch. She hardly knows where her question leads to a hundred others. Why do we use metal forks and knives while still the plates are triple thick paper? What about the conference badges? Are those biodegradable? Of course not. They're 16 layers of plastic and paper. They're designed by Westlake. That's my only option. What about the conference binders? Why aren't we just having people use their tablets? With what people pay to get in here, I could buy them each an iPad. I think it would be cooler if we all did our exercises on an iPad. So why don't we do it? Because. Research shows that people forget what they have on their devices. It's easier to ignore, months later, an app on your tablet than it is to ignore a three inch conference binder.

There are a million other things.

Why can't the whole conference be environmentally friendly?

Marty, are these coals for the fire walk biodegradable?

Yes, ma'am. Charcoal is by default biodegradable.

But where are you disposing it?

Please leave the conference preparations to me. So that you can focus on the impact of The Guru Principle on your life. Please focus on your life. On your development. Allow The Guru Principle to be your Magical Mystery Conference. Allow me to handle all your questions. And most important: Allow yourself to focus on you! There is a curtain over there with a man behind it but please, please: Chalk it up to Oz. That's all that's back there. Just a man pulling the strings. Allow yourself to be pulled along.

Allow yourself to be a child again.

Allow yourself to be chemically castrated by your father for the voice of a child. That never goes away. Imagine if that was your signature, throughout life. Imagine what it's like never to know lust. Never to know sex. Never to have that pull guiding you. Imagine if you helped that man, earlier in both your careers. Coached him from excellence to super excellence.

Imagine if that was behind you. If that was on your resume.

Imagine if both the King and Queen of Pop were people you had helped. Now one is gone and you're burying self-hate on the yard on the side of a hill. Imagine if all your friends are dead or early dying. If those you had enjoyed talking to, no longer talked. If they didn't speak at all, except through statistics. Acknowledged greatness. To be the King of Pop, name self-applied, coached by me. I wish you were still topping the charts, my dude. Instead of the bitches they have me with here. Give me someone of substance. Who practices his takeover nightly. Designed to enrapture the world. There was a peak performer. Always, always, always. At the top of his game. Why can't I have a thousand Michael Jacksons on the side of this hill. They would have so much more self-hate to bury than these imbeciles of life who stand before me. Every one of them willing to pay out of their children's college funds to be here. Still lying to themselves. Making up testimonials. At least: Enhancing them. I know every trick, people. Know every slight lie you include when talking to me. You have to remember: I've done this before. When you lie, I know it. I know it because the lie part of what you say to me is the part of what you say that is exactly the same as what everyone else says to me when they lie.

The only true part of what you say is what's unique.


But we haven't come to that part yet. With me and my team outside at midnight. At 3am. Me making promises to fatten everyone's check for their help digging up non-biodegradable paper from the yard.

It's still early in the day. Still conference members kneeling, digging their own fetters into the ground. Hopefully allowing it mentally to affect them. So they go back inside the auditorium with lessened thought about what's killing them.

Most people take this exercise pretty seriously. If they knew how much it would help them, they would do it themselves every day when they got home.

Cherie is next to me, Becca.

Sun is shining.

Tempers are running low, cinders smoking.

Everyone is pretty happy.

If they knew better, every person at this conference would know that in the middle of a long day of work, you could stop for 20 minutes and take a walk. If you have a lake to walk around, use that. If you have a parking lot, use that. At any point in the day, nature is available to you. Even if it's just the sky. It's always there. Above you. Sun and moon chasing your every move. That our natural world is visible. And part of you. And, even harder to conceive, that human beings in all of our supposed wisdom are part of all that nature. We were formed by it, graduated to be the most intelligent species here. Instantly, then, we decided ourselves to be the most intelligent species anywhere. That was wrong. We need our humility to be great. And humility is the first attribute we throw away.

It seems we no longer need humility once we discover we are the smartest. That is when we need it most. We need it to keep from hitting our heads on the sky. Where we encounter forms. We encounter beings. Beings we don't understand. That are beyond our comprehension. And beings who seem to know much much more about what the hell is going on down here.

We seem to be part of a self-help program down here.

With a termination date.

We're kind of like a very large petri dish.

One of many on a shelf.

The makers of the universe have sent us help to understand our world. And this help takes on the form of religion. Of science. Of news passed from person to person.

But to someone out there. Or to someone who is right here! We are just simpletons. We're like pets. But we're pets smart enough to talk back to our owners. Pets smart enough to make promises to them. And. Well. This is all initial thinking, but we may be part of a consciousness review program. A game our higher ups are playing. With themselves. With consciousness itself.

Imagine if this was all a game.

If we threw ourselves into confusion to play it.

If we knew we would give up our memory of our home. To place ourselves down here to teach ourselves. If each life had a theme. If those nagging questions I placed in my own path before I set myself in motion on this planet. If we first looked down upon this Earth from space and said: I think I will go there. I will place myself down there, erase my mind, and leave myself with nothing. No map to navigate with. No universal wisdom. Squirming through a human birth. Screaming. Bleeding. And when they cut the cord, I am lost until I die. At which point the secrets I remembered to forget become again apparent.

Then I spend time in a life review.

My guides are 1000% understanding.

They understand my mistakes.

I have love for myself.

And my memory is one way: When I am in the life review, I remember my true self along with every life I have ever lived. I collect them like playing cards. And each life I collect is a badge of honor. A test, passed. But not like pass/fail. Every one is pass/pass. Every one is an aspect of human life I am learning.

I stand. Look over the field.

Rows of people grappling with their self-hate.

This really is heaven on Earth.

Even though I don't believe in hell, the evidence for heaven is clear. These people are learning to live a life in heaven on Earth. Learning that our trip ups are just that. Tiny. Little. Bitty. Bitty. Bitty! Trip ups.

Each person from the conference.

First bent at the waist. On their hands and knees.

Each person coming outside with a burden.

And each person burying it in the grass.

We are the sowers of Earth.

Sent here by a godlike creature.

We were each given traits, desirable and un.

And each of them letting go the things they hate about themselves. Burying them in a hole. Writing them on paper. Looking for a pen.

We are halfway through our story now.

We have touched on several topics.

We will touch on several more.

I feel you and I have developed a rapport.

You and I are one.

Not only in a cosmic sense.

But through human activity. Human honesty.

As I look out over this field, I think of you, reader.

How you are with me in this moment.

I thank you for picking up this book.

Setting it in your reading list.

And for imagining you are here, in my field, burying your paper full of dark secrets about yourself in my field. I imagine you are one of those on hands and knees digging. That you are one of my conference participants, about to go inside in the middle of this day. That you are about to sit down. Receive your meal. That you are about to look around at the people eating next to you. And that halfway through The Guru Principle you will wonder for the umpteenth time: What is The Guru Principle? Is it like the filament in a lightbulb? Or the magic seed that is precursor to every plant? What is this principle that you speak of? Is it kindness? Is it analysis? Reflection? Or is it the divine monk celebrated in that parable. Who does not even exist. Not in some monastery somewhere. Not celebrated in heaven. No, that monk we spoke of earlier only exists in your mind. As a secret element. That monk is no one. No where. That monk, which I maintain is all of you. That monk exists only in your imagination. And in mine. That divine monk never breathed a breath of air. He never drank a sip of water. He does not even exist. Certainly not at this conference. He isn't me and he isn't you. He's invisible. He's imaginary. He's the most powerful motivator here and he isn't even me. I'm just a conduit. Just a conduit for lessons found in a book that was never written. A conduit for examples of men we will never meet. People with reputations so powerful we will never see their like. But in studying those who are invisible, we will learn the lessons of heroes who came before us. We will become like we imagine them. Our heroes don't have to be perfect. We make them so in our minds. And that is The Guru Principle. That is the spark of a thousand years ago that starts our fire today. That is the most perfect instruction. That which comes from the goddesses and gods of our pasts. For those are the only places we get gods from. And those are all the gods we need.


Room 406. The tiny Pacifica hospital. Me writing this book at the rate of one paragraph per day. Hunting and pecking this keyboard with my one good finger, which is the left index.

Degrading from five fingers on two hands.

To one hand.

To one finger.

That is how I've gone, lying in this bed.

For ages.

Those long ages at the end of my life.

Parkinson's taking me over.

I've become a body.

Almost in a bag.

The nurses and doctors here all send me good wishes. They act positive. Everyone so positive as I lay here, dying. Everyone so upbeat and certain they will see me tomorrow. When they step out of the room they might rightly say, "I might see you tomorrow, Chance," or, "Tonight looks like a good night to die, Chance."

But they don't say that.

They say things like, "See you tomorrow, Chance!" and "Sleep well, Chance!" when everyone knows they're somewhat likely not to see me again and everyone knows that it's hard to get to sleep when that might be the last time you're aware of anything, ever.

But still, Glenda the Good Witch, this teenager who tucks me in at night. She acts principally certain that she will see me in the morning.

"Why?" I ask. "Why are you so sure."

She doesn't know the proper response which is that she is not so sure. She is not certain. What she says is:

"You don't seem like a person who is dead yet. Have you finished your book?"

"I'm making progress at the rate of one paragraph per day."

"I see that," she laughs. "How much longer will it take you?"

"I don't know," I say. "I'm barely halfway through."

"Well. Write the important parts. Write them first."

"Then my book will be lopsided."

"Write the important parts first then rearrange them."

"Oh, I see what you're saying."

"Yes," she says, as if she's an expert at writing books.

"I have one important thing to say. It's called The Guru Principle."

"I've seen your title."

"It's not just the title, though. It's the central precept. I had this thing. In my life. I called it The Guru Principle. It meant something. It was golden. I want to capture it for this book of my life. Not that it's that important."

"Everyone's life has meaning."

"I'm not sure mine has," I say. "That is why I am writing this book. It's an attempt to explore what I found meaningful here. Before I go. Somewhere. Nowhere. It's difficult to know which way to slant the meaning if I don't know what happens next."

"No one knows."

"You're right about that, sweet cheeks."

"That sounds like a term from the previous century."

"That? That's from the even previous-er century. Sweet cheeks. Noun. A girl with a nice personality."

"Uh. My app says it's a girl with a curvaceous backside. That's so voluptuous you just want to rub your face in it."

"That's a good one, too. A word has many definitions. And a definition. Is a connotation. So while my definition might true, your definition may be hidden in the connotation. It might be active while in the blind."

"So that's your way of saying I have a nice ass."

"Without actually saying it."

"Try telling me straight sometime."

"Sara, you're too nice a person to have your patients telling you about your ass. I'm sure you know how nice it is."

"Time for bed, old man."

"If you knew me in my time," I say.

"I know you in this time," she says. "I know you in this time. And this time," she says, "is knowing you enough."


If knowing me in this time was enough for my nurse, I supposed that knowing me at any time was enough. That knowing me as a child was enough for my babysitter. That knowing me during my conference days was enough for Eleanor and Cherie and the inimitable Rebecca Brown.

And she was gone from seeing me, by a couple of decades.

And so was my grand Cherie, off living her private life.

My Eleanor was dead by now, hopefully looking down upon this smear of action, picking out my individual among the many motion streaks discernible by those in the higher dimension. Eleanor was among them now.

I would be soon.

But I first have to pick out this story. Pick it from the keys and touch each one of them in the right order. Cementing something like "my glory." If anything could be made of that.

I mean if there was such a shape. As my glory. To be picked from the stars, solidified in a Wikipedia page, story barely and unprofessionally told. Every mistake I made near the top and every good thing I ever did situated near the bottom of the page.

The worst thing I ever did is listed there with its own bullet point. It's not even something that I did! It's listed with detail. Expressed with a prejudicial stance. And always, always: This is the one thing that everyone thinks of when they think of me. It's like James's doomed sweat lodge. I'm not going to tell you what it is as it's the subject of this book.

Oh yes! My mistake. The thing that got me out of the business. Right away. I mean that night, that last night of The Guru Principle, on the weekend I'm telling you about. I could not have seen it coming. It's totally not my fault.

And yet it is.

I brought together all the players. Brought them together like a camper gathering sticks and logs for his fire. I brought them together like I had brought them together for years. But this time, they came together like never before.

That's what I think about.

All day and every day.

About Rebecca. And about what she did to me. About how she surprised even herself, in that moment. Surprised herself falling in a dream. Surprised herself with that feeling of falling. That feeling of distraction. By which you might look the other way. And fall from a roof. Fall, fall, fall. Fall away little Clarice. Fall away, my little starling.


Something about singing. Some praises reached through from the other side. It was something about singing. About how, with my words, I had reached the art of reading shape notes. The science of music with the apathy of a broken voice. The apathy of science before science learned to sing? Before the gospels fell from a stormy sky.

I dream of little fish. Little birds. Of the cover of a magazine I held as a child. They're sprouting from birds. Returning to the shell. Falling when learning to fly.

Then glimpses. Glimpses from the other side.

Everything was bright. Not white. But bright, like doing mushrooms, which I did once as a child. I was too scared to do them again. Scared that the mystery world of the drugs would take over. Leaving me trapped forever in the flip world. And jealous, I admit, of everything my drug friends would experience.

They would get worlds. Escapes. But always leading back here.

I would get the occasional pain med when I went to the doctor. Take them half the time. Feed half of one to my dog because watching TV with my narcotic dog while I myself was in pain was more interesting to me than taking the med myself.

I admit. I played with drugs. Taking them alongside NLP methods and during conferences and at the evening time meal. Dinner with my Cherie, once upon a dream. I had put a ground-up Demerol in her wine. Watched the effects over dinner.

Noticeable effects: Cherie became agitated, experienced loss of appetite, became obsessed with particular TV channels but when asked what she was watching five minutes earlier could not tell me. Went to bed early and slept soundly. This is not normal for Cherie. Cherie typically gets up three times night to pee. First night of Demerol, she was in bed before me and still sleeping when I woke.

Subsequent effects of the pill on my dear Cherie included increased drinking of alcohol. Which is where I put the pill, recall. She associated the one-half Demerol effect with the wine she was drinking it from. When I reduced the Demerol, Cherie had two glasses of wine with dinner instead of her usual one. Which I did feel guilty for. Of course I felt guilty. Rest assured, the Demerol experiments with Cherie were stopped within a month as increased bickering also accompanied her highs. She argued with me. No holds barred, ugly, ugly arguing. The kind where you learn from your partner's uncensored mouth that your breath "naturally stinks." That you are a "second place sort of guy." That, over the course of your five year relationship, Cherie had cheated on me with a guy a year. Every year. And each time this happened, it happened around Christmas. As though she was giving herself a present.

But I know those Christmas feels and I could never blame Cherie for those affairs. I knew she wasn't giving herself a present. She was making up for the loneliness brought on by childhood. Waving a cross of sorts in front of her. Her affairs were a sort of silver suit. A protective suit to make it through the holidays. I have those. But those protections are in my mind. Not executed through my body. For me, the changing of the states has always been moderated through NLP. And through my meditation. Through NLP I was supposed to get a boost to my body. Maybe better sex. But I never got better sex out of it. I come early. I've always blamed it on the beauty of the women I've been with. I know deep down and can now say to myself, on my death bed, that I suck at sex.


There are other things I'm good at. Obviously. NLP and people. I like to think that each one-on-one session is like a mini psychiatric session. Except instead of being all bawling your eyes out and some useless techniques, I give working techniques, no tears, and you're out in five minutes.

There are sex champions with Olympic-level sex and then there's the other 99.999% of us. We muddle around with it. Try for it. Break it. It's a foolproof activity which literally means that fools can engage in sex and the result is still what nature desires.

As I remember my life.

Lying in a single bed.

No family. No children. No visitors of any kind.

I remember that last weekend of The Guru Principle. The moment on Friday. When I was healing that guy and he said to himself: "God, please let it be over." I don't talk about that moment. Not with anyone. Something about it's special to me. I would never share it in a thousand years. Except with you.

A man so uncomfortable in his own skin. So unhappy with his life that he cannot stand one more second of being healed. Of being shown the way. And the light. He wanted so desperately for me to be done working on him that he prayed to his god to intervene. And that god has been intervening with me ever since. Every time I think of that man. And what he said.

"Dear God. Please. Let it be over."

Let this hell end.

What was it that bothered him so much?

Normally I wouldn't care.

Except in this case, since he was reacting to me.

And also: I felt some simile with him.

Something of him was also of me. I wondered, have always wondered, what his life was like that he needed to be done with me so quick! I've called his number, from that last conference binder. Those records of his attendance. For years I stayed on the line listening to his breath. Till he finally hung up. Then his number was disconnected and I used the internet to look him up. Message him as a stranger. Try to glean, from his profiles, if his life was good. Settled. If he had gotten back on track after coming to see me. There was no mention of me ever. Apparently I hadn't made that much of a splash with him.

But he made a splash with me.

I thought about that shit for a long long time.

God, please make this end. God, I am in a bed in the Pacifica hospital. God, please stop trying to fix me. God, just sit next to me. While I lie here in reflection. While I lie here waiting to die.

And God, don't be my lowercase metaphor. Be my uppercase savior, who cares about every tiny hair on my head. Who created me with his hands and made me pick my parents and sent me down to Earth to experience Earthly life for a while.

Make there have been a reason. For this life.

Make it so there is a man behind the curtain, and that's me. Pulling the strings. There was always a way it was supposed to go. Always a lesson to learn. And at the end of my life I'll be judged for the choices I've made. But, like the tunnel reality where I am connected to everything that ever was while it talks to me thinking I am god but having no idea that they are me and I am them and we're all. One. Thing. Talking to itself. Giving itself challenges. Waiting for itself at the end of the hallway. Scaring itself and then saying, "Just kidding!" I was just kidding about your life. About life in general. You think you understand me but you'll never understand if you don't stop thinking of consciousness as untranslatable. What you don't get is that time is all one. That there is only this one moment. Every moment. Being lived by "every one of us." Who are really aspects of our one great self. Which is everything.

"Which is everything! Sara, see? See how you are part of me and I am part of you? Please tell me you at least see that."

"I see that your breakfast is cold."

"Don't worry about that!" I say. "Didn't someone say that I am the bread of life and anyone who eats from me shall never be hungry."

"That's Jesus," Sara says. "And you are not him."

"I know, my bedside mate. I know that Jesus said that and I know that I'm not him. Give me that grapefruit. Give it to me. Where's the sugar? I know, no sugar for me. No soup for you! You prob'ly have no idea where that's coming from. Tell me, kid, that you're going to get out of this place. Tell me I'm your last patient."

"I can't say that to you, Mr Chance. I went to four years of school to be a nurse and dealing with ancient assholes like you is what I'm planning to do for my whole life."

"Ah ha! Very funny. But you make it true, Sara. Make that shit come true."

"What? Me being a nurse? I have made it come true."

"No. Not being a nurse. Someday, in the past, you will come to me at one of my conferences and we will look forward together and decide, together, that you have a brighter future than this."

Sara feeds me a bite of oatmeal.

I'm still chewing when I say:

"But time doesn't go that way, does it?"

Sara shakes her head.

"That's a reality that will never be, isn't it?"

Sara looks around the room.

"No, Mr Chance. It doesn't look like that reality will ever be."

I watch Sara feeding me the rest of my meal.

Parkinson's eating my muscles from the inside.

Dear God. Please. Let it be over.

Let this hell end.


That is me. That's me in the hospital. In my so called final days. Shifting against the sheets. Trying to get comfortable.

I developed tactics to deal with it.

Games I played.

At night, the pain response was stronger. When I first woke up everything was at its worst. My forearms, my elbows. Each morning I came from aching: Every joint in my body. To going to the bathroom using my chair walker. To sitting on the crapper thinking about all the diseases my dad and my grandfather had. I didn't get any of those. No, the diseases I got were all my own.

My dad had mental illness. I gather.

My grandfather had bowel cancer.

My grandfather lived a long long time.

My father spooked me in his absence. Mom told me he would never try to contact me. She was right. He never did. But the fear of him dropping out of the sky one day scared me and it scared me every day of my life. Every fucking day. That's why I didn't have kids: The fear that if I did, my dad would drop out of nowhere. Insinuate himself into my life. It's ok for a father and a son not to talk. But once the son has kids, everyone feels this impulsive need to let the grandparents meet them. I mean, if you didn't, it would be a crime against the children.

"How we doing today Mr Chance?"

"We. Are fine. My elbows. My knees."

"You're feeling some pain today?"

"Listen, Glenda, I feel pain every day."

"Do you want something for it?"

"I'll just take an Advil."

"You can take up to three."

"I'll take three. Just. Put that in my chart. Three in the morning, three in the afternoon. Make it a regular thing."

Glenda the Good Witch plops three Advil in my hand.

I swallow them with my coffee.

"Good job, Mr Chance."

"Listen. Glenda. You're a Good Witch, right?"

Glenda doesn't even look at me. She's writing in my chart.

"Glenda we've got to do something about this coffee."

"I know, right?"

"I know, right! But we have to do something."

"You want me to go out for Starbucks?"

"Could you?"

"Maybe tomorrow, Martin."

"You can call me Marty, you know. You're the human being designated to sit beside me as I die! Formalities die first."

"I wanted to be respectful. You've accomplished so much."

"Oh really. I've accomplished so so much. Blah blah blah blah motherfucking blah. Blah! I didn't accomplish anything. You know what I've accomplished? Zero. Absolutely zero. My real success?"

Glenda waits.

"Kissing this girl Nadja my senior year. One time we kissed for like half an hour. That was my real accomplishment. It was before my breath stank. As you grow, you get to a point where no matter what you do, your breath stinks. Everyone gets used to it. This was before that. We were in my room. Nadja was sitting on my desk chair. I was kneeling on the floor in front of her. We kissed so long and it was so good rubbing our tongues together that when we were done Nadja said she'd never kissed anyone for that long before."

"That sounds like a nice memory."

"It's not nice. Stop using that word. It was a singular life experience. It changed my life forever because it changed me forever."

"Are you still in contact?"

"No, no. A few years later she joined the military and she sent this bonehead email to everyone she knew saying how only in the military does anyone have your back. That people in private business wouldn't even cover your shift for you if you had a baby, but military people would always have your back no matter what. Total shit. I replied all and fucked up her life."

"What branch was she in?"

"Air Force."

"Do you ever wonder if she's alive?"

"No."

Glenda frowns.

"Sometimes I wonder. Yeah. After that email we didn't speak. I mean we never spoke again."

"That's sad."

"It's sad to you. You have an overinflated idea of personal stories. Personal history. To me it's not sad because I got the goody out of it while it was young."

Glenda the Good Witch sits beside my bed.

She's looking at me.

"I mean I wonder," I say. "Occasionally I wonder. But what's the point of me contacting her. If I found her on the net. What would we be able to say? Either she's still mad at me."

"I doubt at 80 years old she's still mad at you."

"Then she's written me off."

"She must be aware of your success."

"Of my business, you mean. I have no success."

"You wouldn't say your business was a success?"

"I'm lying in a hospital bed. I have no friends and no family to come see me. That's the success I have. My dear Cherie, so long gone. A million people know my name but it all ends the same. No offense but: Lying in my death bed with you next to me. You're the only person who cares for me. And you're getting paid."

"It's a good thing."

"What? That my one true caretaker wouldn't be here without her check?"

"The check is a good thing. We never would have met without my check. It keeps me coming in to work, which is good. While I'm here each day waiting for my next check, I have time to care for you."

"Ok. Glenda. Not a Good Witch at all. Can you give me an ETA?"

"For what?"

"For my death. Dear Glenda. When is that house going to fall on me?"


When will that house fall. When will it come. When will I be a puddle of witch feet underneath the cellar?

"Glenda. You're my last and truest friend. You're with me every day. I think you even wiped my ass."

"Yes. I did."

"Thank you for that, by the way. There's nothing worse than trying to die when you have a dirty asshole."

"You never have to try. To die."

"Do you think there's something after?"

Glenda says, "Yes. I do think there is something after this. Yes I do. But either way," she says, "it shouldn't be hard."

"Dying should not be hard," I say.

"No. It shouldn't. We're designed to do everything else well. What makes us think that dying will be difficult? I bet that we do it exceptionally well."

"Oh yeah? Dying is an art," I say. "And I do it exceptionally well."

"I'm surprised you know that one," Glenda says.

"Why do you think I wouldn't? I'm surprised you know it."

"Why are you surprised I know it?"

"'Cause they teach different stuff in school now. If you grew up in Texas you never even learned about evolution."

"I grew up right here in California," Glenda says. "I learned about evolution."

"Do you believe it?" I say.

"Partly," she says. "But what I'm saying doesn't have anything to do with evolution. I'm talking about the DMT release from the brain at the time of death. Why do you think that's there?"

"I don't know. To make death easier?"

"To make it easier," she says. "Or to transition our consciousness into the afterlife."

"But what happens if you die suddenly? Like Corvette Girl. If you die like that. If your brain is split open in an instant and you're gone. There's no time for a DMT release? Do you think some souls are lost?"

"I have no idea," Glenda says. "One thing I do believe."

"What is that."

"If you look at the wisest people who ever lived. None of them believe that it's important for us to know the meaning of life. The truth. That's one thing I think all truly wise people share: A belief that it's not essential to know."

"To know the truth of life."

"Right," she says. "There's a difference between knowing the path. And walking the path."

"That's Morpheus. That's an old movie for you."

"But it's a classic," Glenda says. "I'm going to check on your breakfast."


Those are my last days. Final days. Everything must go. A sign on the side of a building. A clearance sale. Proclaiming like the Bible, except in yellow and black, that the end is near.

And there is that trick. Of never knowing that you've died. But for a moment before, knowing that you're about to.

I race every day. With my writing.

Race to get it all down.

Typing on a glass keyboard.

Wondering if death is the beginning.

Or just another end.

Am I writing my story for my own psychological summation? Or is it written for others as they traverse the world, running, playing, earning, saving, exploring. Being intimate with others. Putting money in a bank account. It's all play, all pretend. It's the veil before the world. The veil before the truth. And I guess I don't care. I like this moment fine.

I like the bed: I can sleep each night. Besides the pain.

I like the windows: Pure sunlight each morning.

I like dear Glenda: A woman who keeps her distance. Who doesn't like me. Or if she does, she keeps it to herself. I like that. I'm not a fan of the food. But it's edible. And all in all, I like this hospital. It seems like a good enough place to die.

I have instructed everyone I knew to stay away.

I'm not into their company at this time.

Maybe I loved a zillion women. As mother, as babysitter, as girlfriend, as client. Or maybe I reached out to help them and they reached back, as they fell, rapidly, from the sky. Coasting, before, in life. Attending my seminars. There's the beginning. When you burst through light. And into this world. There's the middle. When you strive and hope and accomplish. When you attain. When you destroy. When you disrupt industries. And then you end up with more money than you can spend. And others, right next to you, have nothing. Because they did nothing. If I had done nothing I would be right next to them. Useless. Poor. Not many ideas in their head. One human is not like another. There is a real difference between me and someone who strives with empty hope their whole life. If they hurt more. If there was more pain in them, then they would have done more in this life. They'd be right beside me. Everyone would be billionaires.

But that's not right.

Everyone can't be billionaires.

That's why I'm rich and you, reader, are poor.

I have changed the world. Through chance? Not exactly. I struggled in Memphis. And I felt my pain harder than you felt yours. Almost everyone in the world develops armor or they check out so pain's not real. That's one way to do it. It's the way almost everyone does. And that's acceptable. Those are the people I heal: People who couldn't figure it out on their own. People who figured out how to make a million dollars but couldn't make a billion. I am a guru for fledgling capitalists. For sports or political players. Who made it ok but not good enough. I don't help people who are at the bottom. Who can't figure how to tie their shoes. And I'm dying in this room with a nurse who refuses to listen to my NLP. Who doesn't care that I'm famous and rich. All she cares about is whether I got my breakfast. And she'll hold my hand, someday soon, when I go from this life. And they'll wrap me up in a bag, put me on a tray, in a drawer. And Glenda will take the sheets from my bed and throw them in the wash. Inside my body the bugs will take over. They'll burn me over the space of three hours. Empty the ash. And you will look for me. But I won't be there. You can look all you want. But I won't be there.


I'll be here in Westlake as the lights rise. Here in the hotspot of the western universe. Here as busboys cycle dishes from place to place. Here as my Cherie steps up beside me, her dressed in Cherie red, me in my signature khaki shorts and golf shirt, a pair of sandals I bought from China for $4.99. That's including shipping.

Here I stand in the palace of my gods.

Here I stand to give my effort in exchange for cash. To pick a person, help them. Pick a person. Help them. And at the end of the weekend my Cherie and I will return home, victorious. Champions of the arena. We will say what needs to be said. What is said will change the lives of those within the Westlake hall. And we will be gods, all those who shape this unknown quantity within each human being under that roof. And they will be gods, those who hear our words. And we will all rise into the heavens.

That, more than anything, is my goal this weekend.

To take women and men and make them more than just women and men. "You know when you're on the bus. You know when you see someone at work. And you know. You just know. That this person is on a different plane. Have you ever had that happen?"

A "Yes!" from the crowd.

"What is special about those people? What is their secret?"

"They know more than we do!" someone shouts.

"Ok. They know more. Who else thinks this is it? That they know more than we do?"

A murmur.

"Sounds like a lot of you think it's something else. What is it?"

"They started with more money than us!"

"Ok. What else?"

"They're more beautiful physically!"

"Who thinks this is it?"

"You're not that good looking!" someone shouts.

I laugh. "That could be it. I'm not that good looking and yet I'm standing here while you're sitting there. Look at my profile. I have a huge forehead and a huge jaw! How many of you think I got to where I am by looking good?"

Laughter.

"Discipline," I say. "You might do well to look at your habits. What do you eat? What are your goals? If you can't answer those two questions in an instant then you might not be cut out to stand on this stage. How much money do you think I've made?"

"Six million," someone shouts.

"It's more like six billion," I say. "And I didn't get rich holding conferences like these. This was my goal as a child: To be rich so I could help people. Especially people without much dough. We think money and food and natural resources are limited. That's one of the most limiting beliefs I know. I believe that money and food and natural resources are unlimited. That is one of the core beliefs that I and people like me share. That our world, our planet, our universe are full of more resources than any of us can imagine. That we are abundant beings of unlimited intelligence and power and love for each other. But not everyone believes that. This idea that there's more than enough to go around is not a belief I held when I was young. It's not a belief the majority of Tennesseans have. Not a belief held widely by the citizens of this world! We talked about food earlier and what did I tell you? What were the three most important things I said you should change if you want to lose weight? What was the first one of those things?"

"To change the way we think about food."

"That's right. First, change the way you think about food. Only after that come numbers two and three: Change the food you eat and only lastly exercise. You can lose weight just by changing the way you think about food. Alter this belief. Get rid of any belief that food is about comfort. Raise your hands if you feel food is there to comfort you. See? A lot of you. Food is not there to comfort you! You get comfort from other places? What really gives you comfort?"

"When I'm with my husband in bed."

"Yes!"

"When I accomplish my goals."

"Yes! Those are ways to receive real comfort. The kind of comfort that doesn't go away after a few bites in. When has a doughnut ever comforted anyone for more than a few minutes? It doesn't. You have to eat another. And another. Pretty soon you've had a baker's dozen and you're not feeling so good at all but because you believe that doughnuts comfort you you're looking for another box! I don't just preach this stuff, either. How many of you have looked up my diet? Oh! A bunch of you! The internet makes it so easy to know things about each other. But if you've read about my diet you'll know I cut out a lot of things that a lot of you take for granted. I'm not advocating you take on my diet. I'm illustrating to you that as part of my lifestyle I've given up some foods that many of you take for granted."

"Do you miss it?"

"Of course I do! I miss it when I think about it and make myself miss it! If I do my thing and just eat my diet I never miss it at all. If I drove through a McDonald's and opened my driver's side window and let the juicy smells, the oils, the fat, the beef! If I sat in the drive thru taking all that input into my skull, then yes! I would miss it! But I don't do that. Why? I don't want to torture myself. That's all. How many of your are alcoholics?"

Quiet. About three hands.

"Kudos for the three of you that admitted it. I suspect it's true for a lot of you. If you're an alcoholic, what do you do? Do you sit in a bar and order lemonade? Of course not. Not if you're serious about being sober. You're sitting there. Looking at the bottles. Lit up like Hong Kong. Like Times Square. People next to you sipping delicious vodka and delicious gin! Fuck no! That's right I said it! Fuck! No! Spend enough time in a barber shop you're bound to get a haircut. Right? Right! If you're an alcoholic, stay home! Go to the park! Go to the movies! This world is filled to the brim with non-alcoholic things to do. You've got to make a decision. To cut off every other path. And embrace another path. And to do that, first you need to adjust your beliefs. To tweak them. You are the architect of your life. Make it what you want! Hear me again. You are the architect of your life. What does an architect begin with? A blank piece of paper. There's nothing more beautiful than that. Emptiness. Blankness. In your projects, in your life. You were once a blank slate. When you were a baby. We have to make ourselves babies again in this way. Clear everything! Then what is left? The genius of the architect. His beliefs about houses. His memories of every building he's ever been in. His or her delights, her fantasies about what building can do to alter the perception of humanity's relationship with the Earth and its land. Now all those: Are beliefs! And every belief we have, we can change. And when you change your beliefs, you can accomplish anything you can imagine. Think of that while you're at lunch."

People stand.

"Oh! I almost forgot. When you sit at your table today, look underneath your chair. There are instructions there. And for each of you it's different. Those are instructions about how you are to think about your food. About what to believe about your food. Follow those instructions. Keep them to yourself. And notice how today's lunch differs from yesterday's. That is the power of belief. Always remember this lunch and how you felt about it. Ok? For the rest of your lives. This is the first meal of the rest of your lives."

I laugh. A big, bellowing, physically attractive laugh.

"Have fun with it, ok? I don't think a single one of you paid what you paid to come here and spend three days in pain. Right? This is your life. This lunch. If you can change your beliefs today. If you can change just one of them, then this will be the greatest moment you ever experience. This is the beginning."

The house is quiet. The front, the back: I own it all.

I smile, my huge jaw and perfectly white teeth doing their thing.

Every set of eyes is looking at me.

I raise my arms and let out a thunderous Yawp!

The audience goes wild.

They can feel it.

I can feel it.

I can feel that everyone backstage can feel it.

"I'll see you after lunch!" I shout. "This is the beginning of your life! Own it! Bring it! I love you all, now get some food!"

And I trot around the side of the main curtain like a boxer, having just laid out his opponent. I am higher than any drug addict. Higher than any astronaut. This is my fix. As I disappear from the audience view, Cherie is there to put a towel around my neck and she hands me my jump rope but I push it aside and go to the freezer backstage and I open the door and push my head inside it as far as it will go. I shove my hands into the ice. Let myself be cooled. Then I close my eyes. I imagine everyone at lunch looking under their chair and eating with a slightly changed belief system.

This is all that must be done.

People need a little push. We all do.

We need someone from above to love us.

To encourage us.

To make us believe the best about ourselves and others.

Someday, this type of teaching will be shit on the soles of logic. We won't imagine sending a kid out the door before teaching her everything that I and others like me know.

For now, it's the slim minority.

Of people in this world.

Who know this shit.

It's 10 million people on a planet of seven billion.

That's all who know anything about NLP.

Someday it will be a revolution.

It will be passed genetically from parent to child.

It'll be built into the culture.

But for now.

It's just me.

And my 10 million souls.

A small time army of humans who have begun to change their state drastically. Manually. Cavemen did it at the most basic level. They ate when they were hungry. That changed their state. They fucked to calm the urge to fuck. That changed their state. And now, however many iterations of our species have died through war, hundreds of thousands of years later, we are only just beginning to modify our own states through surgery and hospitals and diet and exercise and neuro-linguistic programming and all these other methods that people have developed to improve our mental states. A man who cannot change his own state because he is not aware of it, is a neanderthal. A man who changes his state as if it was a toy: That is the man I want to become.

I breathe hard against the ice.

And it comforts me, to be in the slow, cold, dark.


Then comes the tapping on my shoulder. The top part of my back. A tap like the tap that would come from The Cat in the Hat, or some other Dr Seuss villain. "The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day." That was my day. A day like that. Cold, wet. Too wet to play. I remove my head from the freezer and turn around.

It's Cherie.

And Rebecca behind her.

Rebecca says: "Are you ok, Dr Chance?"

"He's not a doctor!" Cherie says. "He's not a medicine man. He didn't go to school for eight years so he's not a PhD or anything else you put on him. Don't you have a job to be doing?"

Rebecca stands plain faced. Her skin is innocence.

"Cherie, please leave her alone. If you have something to say to her you can say it to me, please."

"I'll say it to both of you," Cherie says. She uses her finger to point: "I see you. I see you. I see you both. You might think you're going to have the affair right under my nose but you," she indicates me, "are on notice. And you," she indicates Rebecca, "are under watch. You got me?"

"Rebecca," I say. "Will you go? I have to talk to Cherie."

Rebecca looks me in the eye and starts away but she turns back and plants her feet on the backstage floor.

"You like me. I think. So I have every right to listen to this."

Cherie makes eyes at me like: You created this monster.

"I wish you two could settle whatever problem you have between yourselves. Right? I'm in the middle of The Guru Principle. This is my last show. I mean: I'm not even thinking about any other show I'm just thinking about this show and I'm thinking this might be the last one." I step away from the fridge. "It's because of stuff like this. I'm shaking. See? Shaking. That's Parkinson's for you. And I can do this. I can do this. But not while my two favorite bitches are fighting backstage."

Cherie wipes a tear from her eye.

"She is one of your favorite bitches now?"

I look from Cherie to Rebecca. One: Defeated. The other: A champion.

"Cherie. Rebecca. This is just jealousy."

"Yeah it's jealousy that determines the course of the rest of our lives!" Cherie screams. "It's jealousy. With a price tag. You don't know 'cause you're Mr Billionaire! The rest of us roll with your waves but what for you is a minor swell, for the rest of us is a major hurricane. You try to have a relationship with yourself as a woman with a few less zeros in your bank account."

"I'm not going to talk theoreticals here."

"These aren't theoreticals! This is real life as a woman in your sphere."

"Alright. You two. Rebecca, I'm asking you to leave Cherie alone. Don't talk to each other. You too, Cherie. No contact. No talking. Rebecca: Do your job. Cherie. Your job. You have little need for cooperation, collaboration. You can just do your fucking jobs quietly and professionally. Is that possible? Or do I have to ask one of you to leave?"

"I'll go," Rebecca says.

"Good," says Cherie.

Cherie takes her place by my side. She puts her arm around my waist. My arm goes naturally around her shoulders.

"I'm sorry," my Cherie says. "There isn't enough room in his life right now for you. It doesn't reflect badly. It doesn't mean that something's wrong with you."

Rebecca laughs.

"I know there's nothing wrong with me. If there was, you wouldn't be worried. It's precisely because there is nothing wrong with me that we're having this conversation. I like him. He likes me back. There's your problem."

Cherie makes one full breathe in, breathe out before she speaks again.

"Little girl. You think you're hot. But you're not hot for a woman. You're hot for a girl. Why don't you go back to New York and stir up some controversy on the streets. We will be in Fiji. Martin loves Fiji, don't you. Have you ever been there? No?"

"Cherie."

"I guess it's hard for a waitress from Harlem to get to Fiji."

"Cherie! Stop. Stop speaking. Is it your goal to make Rebecca cry? Is that necessary? There is nothing going on between Rebecca and I."

"You mean there's nothing physical. Yet."

"I'm allowed to have connections with people at my conferences. Cherie! Have you lost your mind? That's right. There's nothing physical. That's what we mean when we say there's nothing going on. People. In close proximity. Develop feelings. They're mostly unspoken. They mostly come to nothing. That's ok. You can't stop it. I can't stop it. Rebecca can't stop it. It's part of the fabric of the world."

"I don't see why you can't send her home."

"I'm not going to send her home! She hasn't done a thing but do her job and work on her lisp. I need you two to forget the other one exists."

"In your mind," Cherie says.

"What?"

"You want us to forget that the other one exists in your mind. Even if she wasn't here, she'd still exist in your mind," Cherie says.

"Cherie."

"I mean if she wasn't here you wouldn't even know her. So. But I'm saying. She is here and she has entered your mind. Hasn't she?"

"Yes. Yes of course. She is here. She is a compelling case."

"But aside from the fact the girl lisps."

"It's a stutter."

"Stutter. Lisp. Whatever. I knew it was fake when you walked through the door."

"It wasn't fake!" Rebecca cries. "It's as real as the smirk on your face and when I talked to your boyfriend it went away."


"Cherie," I say. "Can you please. Not agitate Rebecca anymore. Please. Look. It's like I'm talking to children."

"I'm not going to take offense to that," Cherie says. "I'm making you small," she says to Rebecca. "So so small. You're in a package that's getting knocked off a helicopter that's flying above the ocean and you hit the water and sink, low low low."

"Oh, fuck me," Rebecca says. "You're like an NLP kindergartner."

"Do you believe this?" Cherie says to me. "She's making fun of my NLP skills. I swear to you. If I knew this was coming. I would have stayed home this weekend."

Rebecca says: "You're like an NLP dotard. NLP mongoloid. You're an NLP has been!"

"I know more NLP than you ever did, fucking NLP lackey. NLP wannabe! I've fucked more guys from NLP than you've ever even spoke to them."

"Rebecca! Cherie! You have to stop this right now. I can't have you confusing my associations right before I go back out there. This is. NLP tragedy."

"It's only tragedy if you're the one going to lose!"

"Rebecca! Stop! Neither of you is the NLP superior of the other. You're both NLP neophytes and you're misusing the term. You can't just say: Helicopter! Ocean! Lead-lined boxes hitting the bottom! It's not about insulting the other person. Not to their face. It's about how you feel as you watch the locked war chest sinking to the bottom of the sea. It's your feelings that matter. Not the other person's. The physical analogy of the war chest hitting the water and sinking instead of floating, that's for you, for your sake. The whole purpose of having such a detailed analogy is to change how you feel."

Everyone is quiet.

Rebecca and Cherie stand, both with their arms crossed.

The rest of the backstage staff is silently pretending to work, so they can stay here and listen to the fight.

"Now. Listen up. I'm going to do an equalization on you both. At the end, you're going to be friends and you're both going to help me do my work for the rest of today and tomorrow. Neither of you is going to get everything you want."

"I want her out of here," Cherie says.

"I think everyone knows what I want," Rebecca says.

"You have to say it. State it plainly."

Rebecca lets it expand within her like a bubble, a balloon.

Then: "Well, Marty. I want to be with you. I think that's clear."

"Thank you for saying that out loud."

"Do you want to be with me?"

My Cherie looks at me.

"Yes. I do. I want to be with both of you but you two are making it obvious that that's not going to happen. So. Unfortunately, Rebecca, I am not going to be with you. I'm with Cherie so I need you to accept that before we begin."

"I. Don't. Accept that. I do not. That is what my nature wants and I cannot change my nature."

My Cherie goes phfff.

"Ok, you two: Get two stools. Bring them here."

I sit on my director's chair. It's pale wood, blue canvas and an insignia that says, "Marty." I watch these two bitches go to the stools and each get one. My Cherie says something to Rebecca.

"No talking!" I say. "Just get your stools and come back here. Set them opposite. Sit. Now close your eyes and keep them closed on the honor system, my fiesta bitches."

They both look at me with their eyes closed.

"Don't call us bitches." "We're more than that."

"I'm calling you 'bitches' to break up your patterns. Listen to my voice and shut the fuck up. You. Irrational. Bitches."

I watch both their cheeks fall as I talk.

"I'm only in this situation due to the loose talk of both of you. Loose women. Loose morals. I'm sure you've heard of 'Loose lips sink ships,' but did you ever wonder what kinds of lips were those?"

"Marty."

"Bitch fuck cunt lick improper asshole elegant asshole don't compare you to the other person don't imagine what they're thinking don't imagine them gone from Westlake. I want you to imagine the other in the most beautiful dress that you own. Imagine her naked then imagine you dressing her in your bedroom. Picture each button. Picture the zipper in the back. See yourself brushing the other one's hair. Slowly, gently, carefully. You're making sure not to pull her hair. Don't snag it. Make every stroke so smooth. Make every stroke a stroke of love. Like you're brushing your daughter's hair."

"Marty."

"Shut up Cherie."

"Marty. I don't have a daughter."

Rebecca says, "Neither do I."

"Imagine it! Think it! Feel it so. You're the daughter and the beautiful woman seated across from you is your mother. You both have mothers, I'm guessing? Not motherfuckers. But mothers. Mothers: Children. Mothers: Gods. Fuck imaginary mothers with your fingers. Fuck imaginary children with your gods. Are you with me? This mantra is designed to make you forget where you are, forget your enemies and forget all your problems with them. Om saha naavavatu. Saha nau bhunaktu. Saha veeryam karavaavahai. Tejasvi aavadheetamastu maa vidvishaavahai Om. Got it! Now repeat after me."

"I can't repeat that shit!" Cherie yells. "What are you trying to do to me?" And with this, her eyes open. With this, the whites of her eyes are red. Cherie is desperate. She is enraged.

Rebecca is sitting quietly with her eyes closed and her hands on her thighs. She repeats the meditation.

Cherie asks me, like her question is the climber hanging over the edge and my answer is me throwing her a rope:

"What does that mean?"

"Let us work together. Let us be brilliant and full of purpose. And in everything we do, may we never turn against each other."

"Can I say it in English?"

"Of course. Rebecca. You say it this way, too. All three of us."

Rebecca stops. She opens her eyes.

She reaches a hand out to Cherie.

I nod my head at Cherie and Rebecca's hand.

Cherie takes it.

We all clasp hands and I say:

"The strength of our unity in this place is that we learn to work together. To collaborate like the threads of a tapestry. Let us shine brighter than the sun. May every action be full of purpose. Full of action. In everything we do, may we never turn against each other."

Then Rebecca and Cherie repeat the mantra and I am thrilled to hear their voices intertwine. In one of my groups, we do "Start with Om and go crazy." That's where we all chant "Om" and when someone feels like it, they deviate, singing wildly in non-word syllables. Then someone starts to whistle. Then someone starts to drum. Pretty soon it's like everyone's dancing. Out of their seats. Coming toward the stage. Enemies and friends. Forgetting their identities. Forgetting their arguments. Finding each other newly as their music reveals itself a canon, each successive voice transposed, relating to the preceding voice, inverted, cycles, motherfucking Frère Jacques.

And that's how it was. A little bit. When Rebecca and Cherie and I did our chant. That moment backstage was the most peaceful of the weekend. The most harmonious. Of course all that was about to end.


Everything was cool. Everything was placid. Rebecca and my dear Cherie and I vibed off that mantra, which was something I had memorized from my early days in that Memphis apartment when everything was still shit. When I was poor. In those days when a tin of smoked sturgeon was a three course meal to me. I haven't eaten it in 30 years and I still remember the taste.

We're sitting on the floor. All of us holding hands.

Rebecca to my left. Dear Cherie to my right. We finish chanting. Which is less of a "finish" and more of a "fade out." Cherie stops singing. I stop. Rebecca sings a few more rounds. Then she stops. I'm looking from R to C, looking from C to R, and my eyes are wet with that deep liquid they fill with before you cry.

"Are we ready to go onstage?" I ask.

"Don't say 'we,'" Cherie says.

I look at her like: Would you please shut it? Would you please shut the motherfuck up.

Cherie shrugs, like: What did I do?

I point my eyes at her to mean: Just get with the program.

The program. The Guru Principle. The reason we're here.

I look over Rebecca. Is she becoming? Is this New York girl becoming someone I would have a relationship with? Something past a fling. Something serious.

She has more than just a body. Her spirit shows. And I love it. I see Rebecca looking at me, Cherie looking at Rebecca, and the two of them see me looking at Cherie, then Rebecca, then Cherie, back and forth and over and over again.

I want to say: "Listen, bitches. Look alive. I'm watching you both. I want you both. I'll have you both. And I need you two to snap to and get this job done here at The Guru Principle and after that we'll figure out who's effing who. Who can rock my dick the best and whose pussy I will lick with childish admiration of that red streak that's painted between your legs."

But you know: That's too direct. So I just say:

"Guru Principle? I have a show to do. Need you two to rock this with simplicity for the rest of today. Tomorrow. Consider it a game. Please. For my sake. I have to go now."

I stand.

Cherie hands me my jump rope.

I jump in place and the two of them clear out. Rebecca first. She goes to the headset station. Cherie holds back at me for a second. Watching me jump. I close my eyes.

And then I do I hear my dear Cherie walk away.

I'm jumping. Jump. Jump. In the darkness behind my lids there is a fantasy forming: Me, Rebecca, my dear Cherie. We're back in Pacifica. Jumping on my bed. Two girls from a slumber party in their grown up PJs with a black knight master of ceremonies. That's me. I'm jumping with them. Wearing silk boxers I bought in Hollywood. Black with imprints of smiley faces all over them. Rebecca wears black lace bra and panties. My dear Cherie covers up with a pair of white cotton bottoms, the double thick gusset visible right where her pussy happens. So hot.

Everything is going well. Just like in real life.

Everyone is getting along. We might have a threesome.

Then Rebecca, trying to outdo Cherie in bedroom trampoline gymnastics: She jumps so high she slaps my ceiling with both hands then makes a praying motion, palms pressed together, and comes down with one foot on and one foot off the bed.

Rebecca falls.

Her arms go wild. Trying to catch herself.

But the foot that misses the bed lands on the floor with a crunch. Broken ankle. Bam! Just like that the peace of my fantasy is broken. Rebecca screams. My dear Cherie jumps off the bed in the other direction and leaves the room. I am forced to decide which way to go: Left, to my screaming newbie. Or right, to my old quantity, a known quantity, a girl I've known for years.

I open my eyes backstage in the Westlake Four Seasons.

My dear Cherie. Cherie. She's over by the headset station. Going up behind Rebecca. Cherie says something to Rebecca that I cannot hear. Rebecca turns around. Cherie socks Rebecca in the face. It's a hard hit. It's the kind of hit that would normally lay a person out. But Rebecca doesn't fall. She reacts instantly. With both hands. The New Yorker rips into my French girlfriend. All claws out. Digging into the face of my dear Cherie. And Cherie goes back at Rebecca full time. They kick each other's shins. Their fingernails cut each other's faces. I see blurs. Swirls. It's a full scale girl fight. Complete with every member of my backstage staff rushing over to see it. Rushing to see, never to help. Rushing to record the action with their iPhones. But never to actually stop the fight.

I am sure the noise reaches front of house.

Maybe I should intervene. Maybe there's more I can do.

Like maybe: That was the wrong mantra. Maybe I can find another. Maybe something in Latin, something ancient, something more western than eastern. Something easier to pronounce.

But I don't do that. I think but I do not do.

I close my eyes in my own meditation. A Druid one I found on the internet. Somewhere in my thought scape, somewhere in my sensorium, my mind is aware of the two girls fighting. There's actually nothing I can do about that. That fight is between those two cats. A house cat. A stray. Most of the time cats are nice and soft. Cuddly. Asleep. But sometimes a cat will rip your motherfucking face off.

I keep jumping rope. Two legs. Two legs. One leg. One leg. The physics of it entrances me. I'm stepping through a morphic puzzle. An obstacle course created by my hands and the rope. The rest of me, my broken body, heading through, beside, underneath. This is something I control.


I'm not going to flash back to all the reasons from my youth. All the reasons why I oscillate from control to out of control and back. I'm not going to do that. Because why, you know? Just know that I am a man who came from a child whose life was out of control. And that child became this man. And this man, while thrilled by the out of control elements of my work, is not exactly thrilled by my two main girls going at it, pulling hair, kicking each other in the crotch, backstage at my one remaining live event.

This was supposed to be The Guru Principle.

An experiment in what it takes to be me. Basically.

What does it take to helm such an event. Such a life.

If I can impart a little bit of that to my participants.

Then? I don't know. I think the world will be a better place.

I throw the rope aside. Go to the girls.

Grab an arm, grab a neck, a head, a torso.

Feeling like I'm on Making a Murderer. This is the event that will make me snap. Finally succumbing to my true murderous rage that I've kept at bay all these years. Tonight I will kill my girlfriend and her adversary backstage of The Guru Principle and I'll be on the news like James Arthur Ray, packed into a tiny cell for two years except in my case the deaths will be intentional. Fully, fully intentional.

"Cherie! Get outta there! Rebecca! Stop!"

Then Rebecca's city voice: "Your name auto-corrects to whore, bitch!"

Cherie uses this interval to slap Rebecca's face.

Smack! And Rebecca falls back.

When she stands she points at my Cherie.

"I hope you're a sound sleeper 'cause I'm'a follow you to your room tonight, bitch. As soon as I hear you start to snore I'll be up on that bed with my hands around your neck, squeezing that shit to death!"

"Ok, ok!" I say. "Rebecca. Please leave."

She stands hunched over sweating from her forehead.

"Rebecca. Go away! I'll find you in a minute, ok?"

"I ain't leavin' till that bitch apologizes to me."

"That will never happen," Cherie says. "When I'm snoring in that bed tonight you'll be in fucking jail! Don't ever touch me again."

"I'll touch you whenever I wanna."

"That's what you think, bitch! I'm hooked in here harder than you'll ever be. You're swinging from a tree."

"What was that?"

"You heard me. You're docile. Like an embryo."

Rebecca laughs.

"I'm docile like an embryo? You're a dotard. You think that man is gonna be with you in a couple years? Fuck. You're old news now. How old do you think you're gonna be by the time he dumps me?"

"It remains to be seen," my Cherie says. "It remains to be seen!"

"Oh yeah?" Rebecca says. "I hope you step on a lego."

Cherie laughs.

I can't help but laugh.

Rebecca moves away from the action, sits on the floor.

Cherie stands guarded. Looking from Rebecca to me.

"I hope you two are done with that," I say.

"I'm done as long as she doesn't come any closer."

"You two sure can pick a place for a fight," I say.

"If she would just stop touching me."

"You were the one who attacked. I was doing nothing!"

"Ok but hold on," I say. "You do realize the irony here."

"Irony irony irony," Cherie says. "You wanted this to happen."

"You think I wanted this to happen."

"Yes!"

"You think I wanted this to happen. You and her. Fighting at my show. You think this is good for me? See that woman over there? Know who she is? See that phone? She's taking notes. Recording video. Karen, come over here! This is a fucking reporter. Right? All of this is going on the web. So no. I did not want this to happen. I didn't make it happen. But you forced my hand. Get up, Rebecca."

She rebukes my grip.

"Rebecca. Cherie. Come on." I head toward the curtain opening. "Come on, my fighty Padawans. My eager apprentices. We're about to invite the biggest problem in this conference out in the open."

Rebecca and my dear Cherie look at each other.

"That's right, women. Women I have known, women I might get to know. This is my conference. Recall? If you want to fight without consequences do it out of my sight. You forget me? You forget where I came from. Well don't. Now get off your asses and get on that stage. No? Didn't you expect that? You ain't backstage of an HWIII concert. Sorry, girls. This is The Guru Principle. I'm Marty Kevin Chance. Here, this is the way we do things."


A climax. A rush of emotion. Cherie, Rebecca and I walking hand in hand onto the main stage. One of them on either side of me. And me speaking to the audience.

"We have a problem," I say.

The crowd cheers. Some stand. Most stay seated.

"We have a problem between these two ladies," I say.

More cheering. The angry mob.

"Rebecca, here. And my dear Cherie. Are fighting over my affections!" Here I let that know-it-all grin rise from the muscles and skin of my face. "That's right," I say. "And then they were just fighting each other. I guess to prove who's the might of the jungle!"

I look over the two women.

Rebecca looks excited. Ready to throw a punch.

Cherie looks bored. Exasperated. She's like: Why am I here?

I squeeze both their hands.

"So," I say. "We're gonna do a little exercise. Something from early in my career. Something not meant for The Guru Principle but it's perfect here. It's called, 'Mind Reader,' and it's exactly what it sounds like. The problem these ladies have is that they're viewing their own consciousness as if it was completely theirs. And. They're viewing the other person's consciousness as if it belonged completely to the other. And that's not the case. Rebecca: Do you know what Cherie is thinking right now? Do you know what she's feeling?"

Rebecca shakes her head.

"And Cherie. My dear Cherie. Do you have any idea what is going through Rebecca's pretty head?"

My dear Cherie shakes her head.

"What about any of you? Do you know what is going through these ladies' heads? With precision. With accuracy. Do you even believe it's possible? You, sir: Do you believe? You? Well that's what we're going to do now. This technique, if used by world leaders, would prevent any war. This technique, which must be entered into mutually. It is the method for world peace."

I laugh.

"Do any of you. Does anyone here. Do any of you believe a word I'm saying?"

Silence from the room.

"It's hard to believe, right? To believe that these two ladies, one minute, could be knocking each other's heads off. In the next minute, they will be best friends. No conflict at all remaining! Let's set it up!"

Champion music rises from the speakers.

It's "rile them up" music!

It gets you excited.

My dear Cherie and I picked it out last summer. Sitting at a laptop in Pacifica. Cherie's hand playing out patterns on my shorts. Her fingers dancing closer and closer to my cock.

I motion for people in the wings to bring the chairs.

Assistants dressed in black fly two office chairs into the center of the stage. Assistants disappear.

I tell Rebecca and Cherie to sit. And they do. Facing each other. Each refusing to look the other in the eye.

"See what's happening here?" I say. "Do you see how these two are sitting? Notice their posture. Notice their breathing. Sir, what do you see Rebecca doing?"

"Uh. Not looking at the other one."

"Rebecca refuses to make eye contact with Cherie. What else."

"Rebecca is. Twiddling her fingers."

"Rebecca has her hands clasped together and she is wiggling the left pinkie finger. That is the pinkie on her left hand. Do you notice any rings, any jewelry?"

"No."

"What else. About Rebecca still."

"Her legs are crossed at the ankles."

"Good. Use precision in your descriptions."

"Rebecca is shifting her head from left to right." The man stands, takes a few steps forward. "She is a city girl."

"That's a conclusion. Tell me the evidence that brought you there."

"Her shoes," he says. "They're city walking shoes."

"Good!" I say. "They're specifically New York walking shoes. Look at the brand: Puma. Notice the curve of the sole up around the side of the shoe. The color."

"They're pink and green!"

"Yes! Those are shoes designed to navigate narrow sidewalks and water puddles. Also: They're difficult to remove. See that lacing? If you were thinking of robbing her. Robbing this woman of her shoes when you spotted her on the subway. You might re-think it! Rebecca, please show us the bottoms of your shoes."

"You mean the soles," she says, showing them.

"The soles, yes. Look. Look it. What kind of tread is that?"

The man goes up to the stage and takes Rebecca's shoes in his hands. He pretends or maybe really does examine them.

"They're medium thick!" he shouts.

"What are they designed for?"

The man bends back down to look.

"Are they for mountain climbing?"

"No," this dude says. "They're not for office work either."

"Rebecca. Can we take one of your shoes?" I ask.

She rolls her eyes.

"Thank you. Now bring that back down here. Bring it down. Bring that shoe. Give it to me. Have a seat. You've done excellently. I'm going to pass this shoe around and I want you to notice the tread. This tread. Look at this. Place your fingers on the tread. Observe the patterns. Observe the depth. This was tread specifically designed to walk New York streets. You won't find this shoe in any other city in this country. No city here is big enough. Nor does it present the exact walking conditions needed to justify this tread. This shoe was meant for walking with 10 other people in the same sidewalk square as you. This shoe was meant to enable a person to run ahead quickly in the tiniest spaces. A subway turnstile. Notice the weight. It's light. Almost as light as a runner's shoe. Notice the thickness of the sole. The thinness rather. How thick is that sole? Half a centimeter? You cannot find a thinner sole than this unless you go to a dance shoe. Put your fingers around it: One finger on the outside. One on the inside. And pinch. I challenge you to find a thinner sole. The only shoes in this family are: Mountain climber's shoes. Meant for bouldering and soloing small peaks. River walking shoes. Creek shoes. With a rubber sole so thin you can feel the pebbles and the dirt below your feet. And, finally, ballet dancer's shoes. Ballet slippers. They have the thinnest soles of all. Because ballet dancers, of all these people. Of mountain climbers, of river walkers, and of city walkers like Rebecca. And of ballet dancers. Of all these people, ballet dancers have the thinnest soles on their shoes. Because of all these people, ballet dancers have the greatest need for sense and re-sense. For action and reaction. Rebecca, what do you do on the weekends? What do you do after work? And guarantee to all these people that you and I have never talked about this."

"We haven't," she says.

"What do you do on the weekends?"

"I'm in an amateur ballet troupe."

"What's that?"

"I'm a ballet dancer."

I look at the crowd. It's like I'm challenging them: Be me. Try to be me. For one second of every day, be like me. Motherfuckers. You can't. You will never, ever be like me if you practiced this for a thousand years.

"Give her back her shoe," I say.

Give this woman back her shoe.


"That is one kind of 'Mind Reader,' " I say to everyone. "But playing that kind of Mind Reader with my dear Cherie is no fair, since we know each other. It wouldn't help us solve our problem. Which is not between me and my dear Cherie or me and the lovely Rebecca. But between the two of them. They have to read each other's mind. They have to 'come familiar. With each other's states. Each other's feelings. Every thought of the one must become the thoughts of the others. Ladies. Look each other in the eyes. Match each other's posture. Tonality. Breathing. If we had time we'd have them don the same clothes. Dye their hair the same. Fix everything about them. The exact same."

I circle them. A tiger. Watching my woman prey.

"You can hold onto your anger. You can do that. But what I'm asking for is a miracle. You can refuse me my miracle. Or you can give it up. It's all a matter of what you want to be feeling. Right. Now. Rebecca? You hear me?"

Rebecca nods. Down. Up.

"My dear Cherie. You hear me?"

Cherie closes her eyes. Nods slowly. Then nods again.

There's nothing like putting people on a stage to make them cooperate. You actually have to be careful the stage doesn't make them cooperate too much.

"Keep your eyes matched. Blink when you have to. Breathe. Breathe. Look how easy they make it! That's right, ladies. Good. Good. Do you notice your feelings changing? Rebecca, cross your arms. Nice! Did you see how Cherie copied without me asking her? Cherie, stand up in place. Nice. Rebecca follows. Now sit. Sit and breathe and look and move. You are the other person. The other person is you. What if we watched them throughout a day. And what if their movements. Their actions. Their thoughts and feelings. Were all the same. All day long. What would happen?"

"They'd become the same person," someone shouts.

"You're right. If they moved the same, thought the same, felt the same. If they did this from birth. They would indeed. Be. The same person. So if we do this for a few minutes. For half an hour. They may not become the same person that quickly! But they will adopt a similar mentality. So. Quickly. Rebecca. What are you feeling right now?"

"I feel. Angry. At myself."

"Cherie do not react. We'll be with you in a moment. Rebecca. Reach out. Reach inward. Tell us about the anger you feel for yourself."

"I. Feel. Confused."

"About what?"

"Why I'm here."

"Here on the stage?"

"Here at this conference," she says. "Am I here as your girlfriend or as a facilitator. Am I here as your friend or as a piece of meat. In fact: It's not anger at all."

"That's good. That's very good, Rebecca. Anger isn't an emotion. No. When you're feeling anger it's really humiliation, hurt, frustration, fear, rejection."

"Rejection," Rebecca says.

"Ok stop. Now Cherie. Does Rebecca have it right?"

Cherie shakes her head.

"No? Ok."

"No. Wait," Cherie says. "She is right I feel rejection. How could I not? I do feel rejected. Not only by you. But by the whole NLP community. The whole NLP paradigm."

"I can understand what you mean by feeling rejected by me. But what do you mean you feel rejected by the NLP paradigm?"

"What I mean. Is that. As you reject me, in a lover sense. As you go after this new girl, right in front of my face, I see myself on the edge of a cliff. The cliff is the NLP community that you and I are just a part of. As you reject me, so am I pushed out of the community. You were my ticket here. At least my ticket to the top. I see myself falling away from all of this. Next year you'll bring her. Not me. Rebecca will stay with you here in Westlake. It's not just you I'm missing. It's all of this."

"Cherie. Break that into statements and Rebecca, you repeat them."

"I feel like I'm on the way out," says my dear Cherie.

"I feel like I'm on the way out," repeats Rebecca.

"I see the collection of my life crumbling." You can feel Cherie's soul, her spirit, crumbling as she says it.

Rebecca repeats in style: "I see the collection of my life crumbling. To nothing," she adds.

Cherie squints her eyes at Rebecca.

"I see my life. In her life. Repeating itself."

Rebecca stalls. She repeats it exactly:

"I see my life. In her life. Repeating itself." Then she adds: "Forever."

Then we're all stalled. Thinking, feeling. This one idea alone.

I see my life, in her life, repeating itself. Forever.


That is a difficult one to handle. When you say "I see my life in her life repeating itself forever," you are forced to consider that you are old and she is young. That you have the perspective, vista wide, to see her shell as a shell inside your shell, the larger. As hers is small. As hers develops, going through stages you know from their innermost torture. Their innermost charm.

"Do you hear her voice, repeating inside your head?"

"Yes," they both say.

"Cherie, make yourself heard. Not through speech. Through your very presence," I say. "Make yourself heard by sitting there. Through your clothes, your hair. Rebecca: Feel her. Feel my dear Cherie through your five senses and tell me what you see, hear, touch, smell, and we'll skip taste if it makes you uncomfortable."

"I see a woman on a shaky pedestal," Rebecca starts.

"Say it as though you were her."

"I am on a shaky pedestal."

"Good. What else."

"I am a woman who did not sleep well last night."

"How do you know that?" I say.

"It's just what I feel."

"That is most excellent. That which you know without knowing how you know it. Is the most true thing you can know."

"I hear the voice. Er. I am the voice of a woman. I speak with the voice of a woman in love. I love you, Marty. I do. I love you so much that it pains me to lose you."

"Why do you think she's losing me?"

"I don't know! It's what I feel."

I step backward.

"I feel that I am losing you. That very beginning of the end of a relationship. When before, we were close. Now we drift apart and it's before this is ever verbalized between you two or between you and I this is before that point when you're still sleeping together but your minds have started to wander to new meat new love new interests. You know the way we do?"

"Are you sure this isn't wishful thinking?"

"No," Cherie says. "Let her continue."

"I am her," Rebecca continues. "I am 40 years old."

"Cherie, how old are you?"

"I'm 40," Cherie says.

"I am 40 years old and I hurt in my shoulders. A little bit. But more than I would ever tell you about, Marty. More pain in my periods. More blood. More secrets. More ruined panties I buy them in bulk from Target I can't stomach creating a record on Amazon so I buy them in cash when I go to lunch with my girlfriends."

"How many girlfriends do you have?"

"Close ones? Four. Well, three. Four plus me. On our lunches I spend from my old account, before I met Marty, to feel I'm my own person. To feel like if I had to leave tomorrow I could."

Me, to Cherie: "Do you feel this?"

"Yes," Cherie nods.

"Do you see this?" I ask the audience. "Do you see what is happening between these two? They are locked in a perceptive singularity, one has become the other and the other becomes the one. There is no connectivity between them. They're not texting each other the answers. Look! No wires! How are they connected? Rebecca is reading Cherie's body posture, tonality, syncopation, eye language. She is reading her clothes and her syntax! Remember we talked before about syntax. What is it? It's the ordering, the structuring of language elements in order to form a sentence in that language. Syntax are the rules of construction of a particular language. Rebecca and Cherie. Just by observing each other's syntax. Are speaking the same language. You know that idiom? To speak the same language with someone is to be close with them. Extremely close. To be inside their head!"

I tap my fingers on my head at this point.

"Go on, Rebecca. Go on."

"Can I keep speaking in Cherie's first person?"

"I think you should."

Rebecca says: "Cherie, can I touch you?"

Cherie nods.

Rebecca stands and goes to her. Goes around Cherie's back and touches her shoulders, her ears. Then Rebecca settles kneeling before my dear Cherie with her hands on her knees.

"I am feeling. Anger. For Rebecca. For me. Feeling in a sense the desire to. Kill? Me. But not for real. To sense my life as a shell, her life as a shell. Larger. I am inside her. Not sexually. I am the pearl inside her shell? We are like Babushka dolls."

"Matryoshka dolls," I say.

"Matryoshka dolls, one inside the other, repeating, infinity, a mirror forever. I am the smaller. She is the mother. I, child. You: The father. Am I doing ok?"

"Ask Cherie," I say.

"You are doing fine." Cherie is about to cry.

"Keep going," I say. Then I say to the audience: "The use of the shell metaphor is significant. If you check your text messages. And some of you already have. I texted each of you. Everyone who provided a phone number on your application. Check your messages now. Someone read me what I wrote you, seconds ago, from this stage. You."

A woman, Cherie's age, in the front row, stands up.

Her phone is in her hand.

She shakes her head and reads from it:

"It says, 'See if in a minute Rebecca uses the shell metaphor.'"

"You all got the same text?"

People nod. They agree.

"Rebecca, be honest. Did I ever suggest to you that you think of you two in a shell metaphor?"

Rebecca looks shocked.

"No. You didn't."

"That is the beauty of neuro-linguistic connection. Cell phones have given us telepathy. Sort of. This is no reason not to build up our interpersonal, physical, etheric connection. Some people call it a third eye. Some people relegate it to seers, diviners, fortune tellers. Is Rebecca a visionary? A mystic? Maybe. What I have come to tell you. Everyone in this room. Is that this power is yours. Everyone here is a mystic!"

I smile. It's that huge knowing grin.

"Tomorrow is the last day of this seminar. After tomorrow The Guru Principle will be gone! Fast! In your rear view mirror. Most of you will never see me again. And that's ok! It's perfectly fine. If you came here with someone, go to your room and do this exercise together. Become one with each other. Truly become one. And if you came here alone, find someone else who came here alone. Pair up! Learn to communicate with that stranger better than you communicate with your spouse. All without language. Or, that is: Without spoken language. Learn that stranger's physical syntax and you will be able to literally read their mind."


"Goodnight folks! Remember, tomorrow night is your graduation from The Guru Principle and the infamous fire walk. As you're falling asleep tonight, imagine yourself stepping across those coals and consider whether you'll participate. There's no pressure. The only thing you have to lose is your ability to get to sleep every night for the rest of your life knowing that you voluntarily refused to prove to yourself that you are not only human, but that there is a piece of the gods within you. See you tomorrow," I say.

Then it's Rebecca and my dear Cherie wandering off the stage. I would say they went hand in hand but you wouldn't believe me if I did. They walked close together. Talking like sisters. They went down the main hall on the first floor of the Westlake. It looked like they were going toward the bar.

I left the stage as soon as possible to avoid questions. Stragglers. Those who can never get enough saving.

Backstage, Larry caught my arm.

"How's it hanging?" Larry says.

"Well my friend. It's still attached and it's swinging like a dead soldier's arm. As it hangs from his stretcher. But it's good, my friend. It is good."

"It's good for everyone," Larry says. "You always put on a hell of a show. And tonight was no exception."

I look at him doubtfully.

"I'm serious, my friend. The way you played those girls. One against the other. That you brought your own problems front and center. That's integrity. That is. That could have gone terribly wrong."

"What fun is it when things couldn't go terribly wrong?"

I grin. Super wide. And Larry goes his way.

My jump rope is on the floor.

Some of my staff is still backstage, cleaning.

I pick up the rope. Fold it up. Put it on its rightful hook.

And that would be it. That would be the end of my story. Nothing exciting happened on Saturday. Nothing of note. An uneventful day. An uneventful graduation and fire walk. But of course that's not what happened. This story of the last Guru Principle. This story that changed my life. It would be dead and gone if what happened next had never happened.

I'm coming out the back door to back stage. Anonymous door in the middle of a plain exterior wall. The door snaps shut behind me.

I see police lights.

No. Ambulance.

Around the corner.

I run.

Some conferees are standing in a line.

The lights. Rotating red, white, and blue.

Screaming sirens.

The light within the cabin showing the head of an EMT.

No one else visible.

"What happened here?"

The ambulance hits a bump and goes around a corner.

I approach the conferees.

"Who is in that bus?" I say. "Which one is it?"

There is a blood pool on the service road.

I bend to look.

Spots of blood.

Hair.

Skin.

The hair is brown.

I pick it up.

It was my Cherie who went.

"Where is Rebecca?"

"She went with them," someone says.

I am struck with thoughts of whether I'll be held responsible. That is my first thought and I hate myself for that but it's true. Will this be my undoing. Like James Arthur Ray. Tomorrow, are people going to be entering search strings like, "Martin Kevin Chance Westlake Village ambulance," "Marty Kevin Chance catfight," "Marty Chance girlfriend killed at yearly conference The Guru Principle?" Is this my fate? The high point at which everything that comes after is a disappointment? Will anyone look to me for help in the future? Or did Rebecca and my dear Cherie just end that all for me?

I stand. Cherie's hair in my hand. My whole self rocks with a Parkinson's twitch as I rise. Then I am able to stand straight.

Conference goers tell me: "It was quick." "I almost didn't see it coming." "They were talking like friends." "Crying." "And then it was like: Bam!" "The one of them hit the other one and they fought."

"Cherie fought back?"

"Yeah!" "She got in some good punches."

"They were punching each other?"

"Like a mad man! That red haired one came at her like a squirrel. Scrunched up and then: Crack! The redhead beat that other one solid. Brunette hit the ground. Redhead kept beating her like she was a cop. Fucked her up. That brown haired one didn't have a chance. Not a fair fight. Not a fair fight."

Cherie's hair I twirled between my fingers.

We were standing in her blood.

The sacred ground where my Cherie was killed.

"Was she alright?" I shout. "Was Cherie alright?"

"She was still breathing," someone said.

And I imagined the scene a few seconds before: Medics loading the body of my dear Cherie into the bus. Her head shielded with foam rubber. Them loading the stretcher into the vehicle. Then the driver hops in and Rebecca jumps in the back, sitting beside Cherie and the other medic.

Then they pull away.

The four of them pull away.

Just as I come out of the building.

I see myself from above.

Picking Cherie's hair and a piece of her skull from the pavement. And standing among conference goers who hadn't yet gone home. All of us watching the ambulance drive away. And me speed dialing 911 to ask them where the nearest hospital is.

Sunday

Rebecca's coming out as I'm going in. Automatic doors at the hospital. Nurses and scrubs everywhere. Then this girl wearing a light green tank top, showing freckled shoulders and arms.

"Rebecca!"

"Oh, it's you!"

"Where is Cherie?"

"Cherie? She's in. Room 224. She's fine."

"I'm super glad to hear that! Super glad. I found this on the sidewalk in Westlake."

I show Rebecca the clump of Cherie's hair.

And a chipped piece from her skull.

Rebecca leans over my hand.

"Is that?"

She reaches for the skull fragment and I whip my hand back.

"Not for you!" I say. "You think that's your reward? Your souvenir from The Guru Principle? It's a person's head. A head!"

"I don't think that came from her. Cherie is. Awake. Alive. We were joking upstairs. Guru Principle jokes. You woulda liked it."

"I'm sure!"

Everyone around us in scrubs and professional clothing is coming and going, short pauses in their steps when they approach Rebecca and I and I get a jolt of energy every time one makes eye contact with me. Rebecca and I are on a stage of sorts.

"So she's ok?" I say, more interested in Rebecca's perky little tits.

"Yeah. She's fine." Breathily.

I feel the power of the woman standing next to me.

It's the kind of power there's no escaping.

That gentle kind of power.

But a kind of power that is why the word "irresistible" was invented. That kind of power that gets you with a kiss. She knew she held it, between us, like a relay baton. No need to show me. She had it. She knew it. She used it.

"I'm sorry you had to come all the way out," Rebecca says.

She loops her finger inside my belt and tugs.

"Oh no. Rebecca. Stuttering Rebecca. From Harlem. Aren't you supposed to be black? How far north do you live?"

"No," Rebecca says. "Harlem is cool for white people now. It's the new Brooklyn. If you can believe that."

"I can't."

Rebecca doesn't move. Her hand on my waist.

We're staring each other in the eye. Hers green. Mine brown. An eon passes. I manage to shake it off.

"I thought Tribeca was your cool place now."

"No. Nolita is the new Tribeca."

"North of Little Italy."

"And Dumbo is the new Nolita."

"Dumbo?"

"Yes," she says, removing her hand from my waist and crawling her fingers up my shirt, spider style. "Dumbo stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass."

"Rebecca. What the fuck does that have to do with anything?"

"The fuck that that has to do with anything is that I live in Harlem. Which you suggested was all black. And I'm telling you. That Harlem is the new Dumbo."

"Look. Why are we standing here? I just asked you what a white girl was doing in Harlem. You've sufficiently explained me, I think."

"I think so," Rebecca says gently.

"I'm going upstairs now. To see my girlfriend."

"Let me come with you."

"No!"

"Ok! Right. You want some alone time with her in the hospital. I get it. I get it! Don't want to be with me, want to be with her, that's how I understand it."

"You understand right," I say.

"Then why aren't you going?" she says.

I exhale.

"I do not know," I tell this girl. "I think you must have sapped my powers."

Rebecca laughs.

"I'm serious. Look. Fuck! I don't know if it's the way you dress or the way you smell. But. I can't! I can't go until you and I work something out."

"So work it out."

"You can't be violent."

"Ok."

"Is that really ok? I mean, can you. Actually. Do it?"

"Easily," Rebecca says.

"Because this," I hold out the hair and bone. "This cannot happen again. Listen to me. This is not Harlem or whatever crackhead neighborhood you hail from. This is Westlake. Parts north. You can't be ripping people's hair out here."

"I won't."

"Let me finish. I like you. More than I should. You win. Ok? You won this. I'll be coming to your room tonight. Right? Finding you at the airport. You flying out of Burbank? Whatever. You got me off my game. See tipsy? This is me tipsy. I'm tipsy for you, little girl. I'm tipsy for you, young woman. You're ruining my whole conference. This might be the last. That's how tipsy I am. I can't focus. I can't focus on the conference materials when I'm at the hospital cleaning up bone fragments. You know? I'm a little lost here. And I get the sense that you're totally at home."

"I am," Rebecca smiles.

"Just shut the fuck up for a minute."

I grab her by the back of the neck. By her hair.

"Can you get peaceful with the fact. That right now. I am with Cherie. And that's not going to change till the end of this conference? Don't nod! Don't say a thing. Please. Do not say a fucking thing. I want you to go back to the hotel, back to your room, and sit there on your bed."

"And masturbate."

I grip her neck tighter.

"No. Do not masturbate. Do not touch yourself. Do not talk to your roommate. I want you."

"I want you too, Martin Kevin Chance."

"I want you to write in your notebook. Write down 10 things that brought you to this conference. Besides me."

"I can do that, Martin Kevin Chance. An assignment. Even if you choose to fire me, MKC, I will always respect you for giving me this."

I let her go.

She spins around and heads backwards through the doors.

"I'm not going to fire you," I say.

And Rebecca gives me a smile that only has one possible interpretation: She knew I wasn't going to fire her.


The hospital. Room 224. Where my Cherie sat like an angel in her adjustable bed. Sat upright. Like the yogi that she is.

Turned her head at the neck.

Only her head moving.

And I rush to her.

"My baby girl!"

Then she breaks posture and reaches her arms for me.

I saw the woman in the girl. Switching back and forth.

One second, the girl I met five years ago.

The next, the woman who sits before me.

"Oh, Martin. It's been an ordeal!"

"I know, my baby. I know that my boo."

The tears flow.

"She ripped my hair out!"

"I know my dear! I have a piece of your skull."

I show her the contents of my hand.

"Oh!" she cries. "Oh my god that bitch!"

"She is," I say. "She really is. Such a fucking bitch."

"I hope you're making her leave the conference."

"Well."

"But I know you aren't. Are you? It's ok. I know. She came up here with me. She cares. And she's a smart girl, Martin. She's very smart and where she lives in Harlem. It's not just for black people anymore. There's a renaissance going on up there. Little neighborhoods. I used to live in a neighborhood like that. Back in the West Village. It was only for a summer but I remember it like yesterday. We had coffee companies and this was before Starbucks. There were dancing places and I don't know, Marty. I mean she's nice. Her mom used to beat her. I mean beat her in the face with a Fendi bag. Or was it Prada? I'm not sure but that girl got beat in the face with some top notch handbags."

"Cherie. My dear Cherie. Will you stop for a moment?"

"I will stop but only if you promise. Marty. Promise not to make her go home. It might sound weird but she's the only friend I have here."

"I already told her I'm not firing her."

"You saw her?"

"Yes. I saw her on the way out."

"Did you kiss?"

"No. No!"

"You should have. She's troubled but. So was I."

Cherie squeezes my hand.

Her head is wrapped in a half turban of medical gauze.

I set my hair samples and bone on a stainless steel tray.

"Are those for me to keep?"

"I don't know," I say.

"Are they my souvenirs?"

"If you like, Cherie. I'm just glad you're ok."

"What? This? I had worse than this from AOP. One time my freshman year I had to have stitches after a pillow fight."

"What's AOP?"

"Alpha Omega Pi? My sorority?"

"Oh, right."

"See how easily we forget? Soon you'll forget my face."

"I never will."

"You will. It's impossible to imagine, now. But you will. I'll be just some story you tell at Christmas time. Some dinner with a thousand people in attendance."

"Cherie. Shush."

"I don't think I will. This could be the last we speak. Imagine it is. Do you know what you would say?"

She keeps speaking but I turn my head and stare at the television. Some interview with Oprah. I don't even recognize the person she's talking to. That's how out of it I am. Some guy dressed in a striped suit. A writer, maybe. Some dude who just got famous. Just got money. Who can finally dress to reflect his personality. A month ago he could have been walking down the street and no one would know who he was. I remember that feeling. Thinking I should be known but I wasn't. Watching TV and willing myself into it. Willing myself famous. Knowing, so clearly, that we like who we see on TV because we see ourselves in them.

"What would you say?"

Cherie is tugging on my arm.

"If this was our last moment."

Her big brown eyes staring at me.

Every ounce of her self waiting on me.

"If this was our last moment. If this was our last? It's kinda hard to think of it since I do not believe this will be our last. But. If it was. I would say to you that I love you and that I will be very lonely without you."

"That's a pussy response," she says.

"Ok. I guess I'd say that I will think of you sometimes when Rebecca and I fuck."

Cherie leans toward me, stroking my arm.

"And I would say that I'm sorry I didn't give you enough money."

"That is so realistic," she says. "That is so you! Please continue."

"I would probably fill the room with flowers."

"I bet you don't even know what my favorite flower is."

"I bet I don't!"

"It's the gladiolus," Cherie says. "Do you even know what a gladiolus is?"

I shake my head.

"What else?" she says.

"Well, Cherie. My dear Cherie. I would close your hospital door and slide under the sheets with you and I would fuck you even though it hurt you. Even though you were sick and dying, I would suggest I slip my dick in you and even though you protested, I would climb on top of you and make the most of the moments before your nurse popped her head in. And I wouldn't be able to cum but I'd fuck you anyway. To feel that so good feeling and make you feel it. The way that your pussy moisture conditions my cock. That's your special lotion. Rubbing all over my cock. Instantly making it harder. That feeling of going inside you for the first time. That feeling of 'oh, just right' that you give me every time I fuck you. If this moment was our last I would probably do that. Fuck you. Use you. I'd ignore your academic credentials and your intellectual mind and I'd use your body as a sex toy. I'd use you like my masturbation rag doll and I would know that in your last moments that's exactly like you'd want to be treated."

"My good man," Cherie says. "And damn you know me well."


"I know you all too well," I say.

"You know what you haven't mentioned to me today?"

"What haven't I mentioned?"

"N. L. P. Neuro. Linguistic. Programming."

"Why would I mention it?"

"It's your bible to everything. I swear to god when we're fucking you're NLP-ing me."

"Is that a problem?"

"Oh, Marty, I don't know. It's kind of like counting out the steps while we're dancing."

Cherie adjusts on the bed. She's sideways facing me. Her hospital gown off center showing the skin around her waist. Cherie holds her head up with a fist underneath her chin.

"You know what I think?" That's Cherie.

"Tell me quick. I hear your doctor across the hall."

"How do you know she's my doctor?"

"A lucky guess."

"Which means you have an elaborate theory of why she's mine but you don't feel like explaining it to me. That would be so boring. To have to explain your internal theory to little small ugly female me. It's cool," she says. "I'm used to it."

The doctor comes across the hall.

It is a woman.

Her name tag says "Radha."

I'm surrounded by women. From my babysitter on. Bindy, Eleanor, Cherie, Rebecca. Now Radha. There are actually many more. I'm just simplifying for the sake of telling this story.

"Hi," Radha says. "I assume you're."

"Martin," I say, extending my hand.

We shake. She's solid. Even. Professional.

"And this is your."

"Girlfriend," I say. "Of seven years."

"It's five," Cherie says. "He's fine to be here."

"Are you counting from the Melchizedek's Christmas party?"

"That's the date of our first hookup. I'm talking relationship here. It's five years. From your Unlimited Affection seminar. In Maui?"

I'm looking at Cherie with my forehead wrinkled.

"Well. That's fine. I'm Dr Jordan. Miss La Roche was in an altercation earlier tonight?"

The windows in Cherie's room are still black. It's 3am.

"Yeah. She was in a fight," I say.

"It wasn't a fight," Cherie says. "I think Dr Jordan was right. It was an altercation. It wasn't even," Cherie continues. "I just got hit."

"In the face by someone," I finish. "As much as she tries to minimize this, Cherie was hit in the head by the wild hand from a wild girl."

"You weren't even there!" Cherie says.

"Look. Look at this, will you?" I point at the blood, hair, bone on the steel tray beside Cherie's bed.

Radha leans over to see.

She pokes at it with her pen.

"Well, this is hair."

I need a doctor to tell me this.

"And that is what looks to be blood."

"What is that?" I say, picking up the skull fragment. "It's a piece of my girlfriend's fucking head!"

"Put it down. Please."

I set it back on the tray.

Dr Radha Jordan presses the tip of her ball point pen into it.

It compresses. It's squishy.

"That. Is what appears to be. A piece of styrofoam."

"What?"

Dr Jordan skewers the white object and places it in my hand.

"It's styrofoam. From a cup or a plate. Do you have styrofoam dinnerware at your conference?"

"No! We're going all green for next year. That's styrofoam? What. The. Fuck."

"I told him he was overreacting," Cherie says.

"So what you have here are superficial wounds that will heal over the next few days. If they're untouched and protected. What worries me is. This conference. Is it mostly unsupervised?"

"Yes. It is. Partially unsupervised. It's all adults."

Dr Jordan indicates Cherie's head.

"This! This is totally unlikely," I say.

Radha meets my eye. Doesn't move.

"I don't know what to tell you."

"I'll settle for, 'We'll keep a closer eye on what is going on at our event.'"

"I will. Oh yeah. I absolutely will."

"Because I've read about your event."

"Uh huh."

"In the papers."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. And I'm familiar with your student. James Arthur Ray?"

"Oh. Uh huh. He's not really my student."

"Whatever he is. Some people at one of his gigs died. An unsupervised sweat lodge?"

"That sweat lodge was supervised," I say.

"That's not what I read," Radha says.

"Oh yeah. It was supervised. Some of the participants didn't make their situation clear enough to the supervisors. Maybe that's what you mean."

"People died," the doctor says.

"I'm aware of that. Yes."

"This woman in my hospital bed is your girlfriend. Of five years."

"Well, sure. Five. Seven. I mean."

"Seven makes it even worse. Look at Cherie's head. Where were you when this happened?"

"I was right inside the theatre. Cherie and the woman who hit her were 50 feet from me. I just couldn't see them because. You know. They were outside and I was inside. The girl who hit her."

"Rebecca."

"Yes! Rebecca! I saw her going out when I was coming in. Rebecca didn't want this to happen. She and Cherie are practically best friends!"

"I know," Dr Jordan says. "I met Rebecca. She strikes me as a wild card."

"Oh, Rebecca is straight up crazy," I say.

"You're not listening to me," Radha says. "I met Rebecca. She is angry. She is willing to resort to violence. Is that the type of person you invite to your conference?"

I look around the room and think. Avoiding Dr Jordan's eyes. Finally make my way back to her face.

"Frankly? Yes. Rebecca works for me. She is a hybrid employee/conferee. I don't invite the healthiest people I can find. My conference is for people who need help. That's what I do. I'm Martin Kevin Chance. I help people who need help. Who are willing to ask for it. Otherwise what's the point?"

"I understand that," Radha says. "I'm a doctor. We don't let well people stay at our hospital. What would there be to heal? So, yes, I do understand your situation. I deal with that dynamic every day. But, here, everyone is well supervised. I look after patients. The section head looks after me. The medical director looks after her. If you're a nurse here, the overseeing nurse looks after you. You don't get to be a head nurse by letting your patients hurt themselves. It doesn't matter that there was fifty feet and a steel door between you and Cherie. Cherie got hurt. No one was watching. That's your fault."

"I apologize. I so sincerely apologize."

"Your apology is accepted," Radha says. "Here's my thing. I have read the news. An alert came through on your conference a week ago. I pressed through. Read the description of The Guru Principle. Aside from being a total waste of money one other thing lodged itself inside my mind. That is that the last day of your seminar. Your graduation event. It's a fire walk. It's 3am so today's Sunday. Today is the last day of your conference. In 18 hours you'll hold your graduation. With a 30 foot bed of coals. And you're gonna have people walking across this in their bare feet. You can see why I'm concerned. I'm the doctor your people are going to come to if something goes wrong. I'm here tonight with your girlfriend. Who has a concussion. After her kum ba yah moment with Rebecca went wrong. I think you can see the problem."


I wake to the sound of clinking glass, beeping. The sounds of the duty nurse pushing her med cart into the room. She nudges my Cherie and my Cherie sits halfway up. Taking pain pills like an obedient child. Holding her head back. Swallowing. Then sticking her tongue out to show the nurse. A sure sign that Cherie had been in a psychiatric hospital before. Nurses in regular hospitals never check to make sure their patients do fucked up shit like save their medicine for a later time.

Cherie looks over.

"You're still here."

"I'm still here," I say.

Cherie smiles.

I don't care how many mental hospitals she's been in. Some people grow up at Harvard, at Yale. Some grow up in the Westlake Retreat, which is a nice name for the nearby loony bin. They serve similar purposes: Training their students to cope. To cope with this terrible world.

I couldn't imagine what Cherie had experienced in that place. The only time she ever spoke of it was not to me. It was to herself, to the walls of our bedroom. Waking me to witness her crouched over our mattress. Spinning in circles. Chanting something in another language like a medicine man. She wasn't exactly awake during these sessions. She wasn't exactly asleep. All I could do was sit beside her and keep her from falling over the edge. That physical safety was the only safety I could offer her. The real danger was inside of her brain. And I could never get inside. Never get inside her. None of my tools worked there.

"What are you still doing here?" Cherie asks.

I shrug.

"Won't you miss your conference?"

"It's only 6am," I say. "Conference starts at eight."

"Get going! Go! Go!"

"I'm not about to leave you here!"

"Shit! I'll be fine. Get to your stage."

"I can't see leaving my five-to-seven-year girlfriend rotting in a hospital bed while I go off to save the suffering capitalists of The Guru Principle."

"Why not."

"Because I love you, Cherie. That's all it's going to be, too. A bunch of broken capitalists. Wanna be libertarians. 'Social liberals, financial conservatives.' Which is just another way of saying we used to be hippies but now our business took off. We're uncomfortable with our money but, please, can you help us make more of it. Our kids are bound for top schools. Like Harvard. Like Yale. Who boost their intake of 1%ers. Why? Harvard doesn't need the money. So why? Because they're part of the scam. Their endowment is 40 billion dollars. Yale's? About 30 billion dollars."

"Honey. Let me stop you. I'm in the hospital due to a concussion. You're here to see me. In two hours you need to be at the Four Seasons to lead an overpriced seminar for exactly the type of people you're talking about. The ones who went to those schools."

"You know what my typical case is?"

I stand and look out the window.

It's a parking lot with miles and miles of cars.

Nice ones, too. The type you would rarely find in such concentration in actual LA. The LA you'd find 40 miles south of here.

"My typical case. Is a business owner making six to eight times the median income. Who wants the American Dream. To whom the American Dream is still possible, for one. And to whom the American Dream is for them."

"To double their income," Cherie says.

I turn to her.

"That's right. That's all these motherfuckers want. To double their motherfucking income. Where did they get that? I think it's a phrase that I invented."

"They wanted that separate from you," Cherie says.

"I'm not sure," I say. "I'm not sure that they did. I think that phrase came from me. In my Financial Mastery package. I'm pretty sure that I planted that seed in their brain. And now: I'm charging them. To bring the twisted tree. Of that sick desire. Back to California. Back to me!"

"I'm feeling much better today, dear."

That was my dear Cherie, fading concussion, sitting up in bed.

I go to her and kneel beside her bed.

I take the hand of my dear. My dear Cherie.

I speak. Slowly. Measuredly.

"Cherie. Cherie. When is the last time you went to actual LA? Actual Los Angeles. Not Westlake. Not Malibu. Not Pacific Palisades. Not even Venice Beach for goddamn. When is the last time you drove down the 101 far enough that you touched the metropolis? I know I can't remember. When was that for me? Do you remember? Do you? When, my dear Cherie, is the last time your feet touched down in the exact city of LA? I know for myself I can't fucking remember that day. Do you?"

And I looked Cherie in the eye.

And her face was blank.

I don't think she could remember it either.


"Do you want to go?" That was Cherie.

"No!" I say. "No. The only reason I can think to go down there is for food. What's that sushi place? Sai Sai? I haven't been there in 10 years."

Cherie is unplugging herself from hospital monitors. Removing clear plastic tubes from her arms.

Taking off her hospital robes.

That fine sexy body.

Naked from head to toe.

Except the socks.

"Babe," she says. "Help me out of here?"

Then we're on the hospital exit game. On the sly. Dressing Cherie in her street clothes. Holding hands. Running down the hallway. Hitting the emergency exit. It said, "Alarm Will Sound," but it did no such thing. And we're on the stairs, Cherie first, hitting the ground floor. Punching through another door. Out. Out. Into the bright bright sun. That morning crystal. Like a chandelier. I reach up and brush my fingers along the pendulum pieces. Shattering light all over the parking lot. Headed for my Rover. Clicking, clicking. I press the button in my hand. The car beeps. Beeps again. Cherie gets in the passenger side. Me in the driver's. I say, "Rover. On." And the car starts.

As Cherie and me were running along the second floor of that hospital, I thought of two children running in fields, in sun, with no agenda. Not even understanding our bodies enough to use them. Knowing, just, that we liked each other. Enough to hold our hands. Enough to kiss but just on the lips just the surface knowing nothing that lay deeper. Covering our faces with our hands in the playground. At the bottom of the swing set. Atop the merry go round. As it sat still. We kissed in front of our parents and the sky and everyone. That's what I thought of as we ran down the hospital hall.

Some invention. Of Cherie and me as kids.

And as we ran down the stairs past that emergency exit I saw us as me and some high school girlfriend. Not a girlfriend, really. A friend, but not even a friend. Just a girl whose name I don't remember. Who asked me to take her picture in the auditorium. For her portfolio. Which there never was one. I see Cherie in this girl whose name we'll call Jessica. Jessica liked to bite. And as soon as I pulled out my camera Jessica took it from me and set it aside. Jessica liked to bite. She bit my neck and pushed me behind the curtains. That was my first backstage. What Jessica did to me and what I did to her. And on the way back to the photo lab, in the dark hallway between two rooms, Jessica stopped me again and kissed me. Deep. And long. And hard. I never forgot that kiss.

Now Cherie and me in the Land Rover. Busting through Westlake at 7am. Sunday so there's no traffic. Ripping past someone's Nissan Sentra.

"That used to be my car," I say.

"Look at you now," Cherie says.

We bust past them. But it's a twinge hollow. Wish I was rocking the Sentra today. But with tinted windows. So deep that every cop on the highway stops us. Hello officer. Yes, I'm Martin Kevin Chance. This? This is Cherie. My dear Cherie. How do I have such a pretty girlfriend? What? You want a peek? Forget it, officer. Are my windows legal or not.

There was no chance whatever that cops would stop us in the Range Rover. It was the latest version. Not the one drug dealers drive. No. This car meant: I have money but I have so much money that I'm not even going to show you how much money I have. I'm Martin Kevin Chance, motherfucker. Chew on that.

We speed past the Sentra.

I turn to my dear Cherie.

She is unwrapping her head bandage.

"Is it too soon?" I say.

"Nah it's fine," she says. "Once I broke my wrist and I took the cast off myself. My roomie was like: 'Isn't that too soon?' and I was like: 'Hell naw!' Cut that fucker off with a steak knife."

Cherie finishes with her bandage. Throws it out the window.

"Did you use NLP or anything?" I say.

"I was 17. I didn't know what the fuck NLP was."

"Are you using it now?"

"Dear. Marty. We don't all use NLP for everything."

Cherie is putting up the window.

"Did it turn out ok?"

"Did what turn out ok?"

"Your wrist. You broke your wrist and your roomie thought you were crazy."

"Well I was," Cherie says. "I was crazy at the time."

"Did your wrist heal up ok?"

"Oh, my wrist? Not really. It still hurts."

"Which one is it?"

"My left."

"You wanna go back to the hospital? Have them look at it?"

"Honey, I'm just glad you came and got me."

That's who I was. Driving, looking over at my dear Cherie, watching her adjust her butt on the leather bucket. Watching her open the glove compartment, fishing around for a gun? A vape stick? She gives up and closes the door.

"Where's my vaporizer?"

"I threw that shit out."

"You threw out my vaper?"

"I had Camilla do it."

"You had her throw it out? Or just move it somewhere else?"

"She threw it out. I thought you needed to stop that shit."

"You know," my Cherie says. "You are a real dick."

"I know," I say. "That's why you're rolling with me in this black Lan' with more money than God on the way to the last day of The Guru Principle. If I'm such a dick, look at that leather seat up under your ass and your Platinum AmEx. What's my name."

Cherie rolls her eyes.

"Say my name, bitch!"

She mumbles something that sounds like Marty Chandler.

"What was that? Say my name."

"It's Martin Kevin Chance," she says.

And I say, "That's right."

And I speed the Land Rover forward.

North on the 101.

Toward the Westlake Four Seasons.

We're going fast. Faster. Fastest!

To where?

We're going.

We're going toward the insanity.

We're going to the last day.

The very last day.

Of my very last seminar.

We're going to learn in the abstract.

We're going to lead by example.

We're going.

Well.

We're going to a little playground.

A little sandbox.

We're earners here.

We make more in a day than you'll make in your lifetime.

Cherie and me zooming forward.

Into the classroom.

Into the learning of the principle of gurus.

Of giants.

One more day we work to make it.

We make it the lesson of a lifetime.

It will be another thousand years before a teacher like me comes around on this Earth. Will he have the marketing? The backup of all the gurus who came before me? He will have to if he hopes to supersede me.

My learnings. My programs.

This isn't an accident.

You should know that if you hope to imitate me.

This isn't the sandbox at your school.

Of all the principles it can be.

This isn't the playground. The slide. The swings.

This.

This.

This is The Guru Principle.


"Hello everybody! How was your morning? Are you awake? Did you get a good night's sleep? Were you up late in your pajamas talking to your roommate about NLP techniques and tactics? No? What did you do last night? This isn't the sleepover of your childhood. All pink lace and microwave s'mores. Today we're going to break into our small groups again and I'll be coming 'round to join you. To check your progress. But first, let's give a round of applause to yesterday's big gig: Rebecca! Where are you? Come on out, my dear Cherie. There they are! Rebecca! Cherie! We all made a trip to the hospital to work out our problems for good. And the result is?"

Rebecca and my dear, dear Cherie come out through the center fold in the curtain. Holding hands. Their hands raise. The crowd lets them know they're loved. And Rebecca and Cherie split, walk off in opposite directions, and disappear behind the stage.

"This wasn't without trial," I say. "It wasn't without tribulation. Sometimes our work comes easily. Sometimes it's more difficult. The important thing is that we don't stop working. Never, ever. Once a single toe is placed on that road. Once a single step is taken. We can never false step. We can never go back. Are you awake, motherfuckers? Oh! That got your attention. You are a lazy bunch of mother. Fuckers."

I smile wide.

"Oh! Now you're awake! It's going to take more than a cup of coffee to wake you up wide enough to handle today's sessions. That's right. So if you didn't get breakfast, there are bagels and coffee just outside the center rear doors. Go on. Stand up. Go get you some breakfast while the rest of us get this party started!"

The crowd goes "Woo!"

"Go ahead, you tired sacks of shit!"

The crowd claps. Slowly at first. Then fast.

"I'm telling you. If you're not ready to go to the hospital. And beyond. You might not be ready for today."

I shake my head.

Adjust my headset.

"I am serious. Oh yes. Today is going to literally. Kill. Some of you. Some of you are not going to be ready for this shit. This shit I'm laying down today will. Maybe not literally. But it will figuratively and metaphorically send some of you to the grave. I had a vision last night. This vision was visited upon me by the angel Gabriel in a dream. Yes! It was visited upon me by the prophet Mohammad. Buddha was there. Yes! Brother Siddhartha was there! All the voices from all the books. Ever written. Were there. Sitting under the tree of knowledge. The Bodhi Tree with its heart shaped leaves where Buddha gained enlightenment. In this dream I was sitting under that tree and I turned to my left. And you were there. And I turned to my right. And you were there. In fact, when I stepped backwards out of my body I saw that under the heart shaped leaves of the tree of enlightenment. Which is what 'bodhi tree' means. Under the leaves of that tree were each and every one of you! That's the fucking truth. That is the ancient motherfucking truth that no one. No one. In this room. Is ready to accept. But. Throughout today's classes. In every exercise you do. As you close your eyes to catch your breath with every blink you will see yourself more and more the rightful resident of this tree! And if you're not religious you will see yourself holding hands with Jesus and Satan! All at once. All perfectly acceptable to atheist minds. For this isn't about religion. It isn't about all those fucking rules and exclusions! It's not about a particular prophet or dogma. Dogma kills! Dogma kills. We won't have any of that here. We reject religion. But we are fools for spirituality. That highly misused word. Meaning? In my world. In mine it means not a soul. Not some mystical pieces of you that carry on existing after your death. Fuck no. To me, spirituality is not some idle belief that spirits live on and continue to interact with us in this dimension. This isn't spiritualism. This isn't Ghost Hunters! This isn't Scooby Fucking Doo! This isn't Paranormal Whacktivity! No. Today. Through a series of simple exercises. I am going to knock up, knock down, and completely knock over your images and icons of God. For some of you, this will mean leaving behind thoughts and beliefs you've had since you were kids. Yeah. That's totally what this requires. But without it, you will never learn. What? That's right. If you hold onto your images of God. You will never be able to touch the principle this seminar is based on. For some of you this will prove difficult. It will scare you. And your fear will take the form of righteousness! It will take the form of putting on your high hat and preaching at me from your soap box. And it will take the form of questioning me. Discounting me. Discrediting me and everything you've ever heard me say. But. As was said long before. By a prophet who is seminal to many of your thinking. It is easier for a person. Easier for a human being. To fit through the eye of a needle. Than it is for someone burdened by the riches and the knowledge of this world to reach enlightenment. I'm paraphrasing. Of course. That is a hard teaching. It's a hard teaching from one who most of you call God. And the more religious you are, the more difficult it will be for you to live by. Yeah. Today is a hard day. That's why we do this the last day. It's Sunday. Today is the last day. Of what? You know by now. Today is the final day of."

The Guru Principle.

Those are the words whispered on every heart.

And every soul in the room.


And every possible pair, every triad, every group of four, broke down and found their secret area among everyone else's secret areas. In the conference areas. Outside, the lawn. Even in the long hallways on the first floor with its patterned carpet and the occasional maid's cart.

Even in some of the rooms, for those staying at the Four Seasons.

Even, in some of those rooms, the joyful sex of twos, threes, fours. Camping in the summer, madness seeping into my conference from the edges. This last day. When everyone starts to feel they've learned everything there is to be learned. That is the time when I drop in on these small groups to see how everything is going.

"Hello, y'all!" I say to a group of four seated in a circle on the floor.

They all look up at me standing above them.

I sit on the carpet in the newly made space they have created.

"How are you coming on your spiritual belief patterns?"

"We're doing ok," and "Not so well, Mr Chance."

Simultaneously.

"This is good," I laugh. "Why don't you read me yours?"

A fat-ish man in khaki cargo shorts and a golf shirt not unlike my own, speaks. He says:

"Mr Chance. I work for a small software development firm in Annapolis Maryland."

"How small?"

"Three people. Plus the owner in Florida."

"Is the owner hands on?"

"He's hands off/hands on."

"Well which is it?"

"He says he's hands off but he's really hands on."

"How can he be hands on if he's in Florida. And you're. In. Maryland?"

"He comes to see us twice a year."

"Uh huh. What does this have to do with your spiritual but not religious beliefs about the world and your place in it? What's your name?"

"Peter. It's Pietro but people call me Peter."

"Pietro."

"Yes sir."

"You can stop calling me sir."

"Ok. Yes, then."

"Did you forget my name? It's Martin but people call me Marty. There's power in a name. Why do people call you Peter if your name is Pietro?"

"It's easier. Anglicized."

"Fuck anglicization. Pietro. Ok? Fuck all that. I have a feeling that if you forget about all that software shit you were telling me earlier and un-peel the logic around your name, that that's where you'll find your spirituality start to emerge."

I slap Pietro on the back.

"Ok?"

"Ok," he says. "I can do this."

"Yes you can," I say, and leave.


In the next group I come upon, it is a group of all women plus one man. The women all sit silently. Some of them with hands on their knees. Some of them with chins on their hands. And the man says:

"Then I went to therapy with her. And we got to a point where the therapist. Who was her therapist first. This guy said, 'Van, you're going to have to be open here. You have to be open with your wife. And me. And god. And everyone in between.' My kids? My boss? My church mates?"

Here I interrupted him.

"Your name's Van?"

"Yes," he says horsely.

"Do you consider yourself a man?" I ask.

"Yes," he says.

"And do you. The rest of you. All consider yourselves women?"

Yesses from around.

"You might want to reconsider your sexualities. I think this group needs to be having a conversation around gender. Gender dynamics and their effects on the seeking of a deeper spirituality among people with rigid genders, gender identities, all of that. Ok? Van: You're done speaking. Kristol?" (I read off her name tag.) "You go first." I meet her eyes and touch her shoulder. "Go go go! I'll come back later to read your progress."


Around and around I go. Making quick stops among my people. Nudging here, poking there. Giving my insight based on intuition. Sometimes I knew what I wanted to say before even hearing the group members speak. I would see them from a distance. Know that was the group I was going to. Not even sit down. But tap this person on the shoulder to tell them to start speaking and tap that other person on the shoulder to make them stop.

Group work used to scare the shit out of me.

I was much more of a public speaker.

And I still am.

Group work is scarier than speaking to a crowd.

One-on-one work is scarier than group work.

Individual work. By which I mean work on myself. With no one else present. Is the scariest of all.

It terrifies me.

Because when you are in a room by yourself. When you yourself are the one working on yourself the one, it's like writing a book. You're the only one there. Doing NLP work from me, to me, is truly terrifying. When I close my eyes. When I cross my legs. When I endeavor simply to sit still and listen to my breath. That shit is more terrifying than Jurassic Park because in the silence, with no distractions. With no feedback about myself coming from the outside. In that moment. In that setup. There is no one to listen to but yourself. And as much as people who do not do that type of reflection on a regular basis. As much as they will question my use of the word "terrifying." As much as they implore me to use a different word. A word less fierce. Less intense. As much as they ask, I cannot use a different word.

Self reflection.

When I do it right.

Deserves no less severe a name.


And so I come upon my third group of the day. A group in the corner of the conference room. Sitting on the carpet below a closed window, the blinds pulled. An older man. A younger woman. As soon as I sat down with them I felt a scratching on my back. I look up, expecting Cherie but knowing it will be Rebecca.

And it was.

I told her to sit with us.

Rebecca sat.

"What's going on with you people today?" I ask.

The young woman answers.

"We've started an affair," she says.

"And what does that have to do with the exercise I've assigned you?"

The woman crosses her fingers over her lap.

"Oh," she says excitedly. "So much!"

I look at Rebecca. She is intent on the woman.

"We came here separately," she says. "Never met before two days ago."

She speaks with an excitement. A liveliness. It's something I have only seen a few times in my life and one of the others who displayed it is sitting to my right, who put my girlfriend in the hospital last night.

"We hit it right away," she says. "I mean from that first moment. We both knew! And now we're going home tomorrow. And we both came here from wives and family and they're not here. They will never feel what we're feeling now. There's no way either of us can bring this energy. This. Verve. Home with us. We both like our families."

"Love," the guy says.

"We love them," the girl says. "Of course we love them. But, Martin, I've never met anyone like this and I know when we go back to our separate cities we will never find anyone like this again."

I look at Rebecca. Slightly nod.

Rebecca starts: "How does this relate to the exercise."

The older guy says: "It relates. It relates! I have found in this woman a spirituality. Some strange light that I've never seen before. She is my church!"

"I've got to have him or I'll have no one," says the young woman. "This has changed my life. This has made me. A new me! I have found parts of myself that I didn't know were there."

She taps her chest when she says it.

The part above her heart.

I look from the woman to her man. To Rebecca.

To myself.

I shake my head.

"It's ok to be inspired by someone you meet at a conference and leave them there. Take the inspiration home. Do you have email?" I ask.

"We've exchanged emails!" the girl says.

"Do you know what the word 'inspire' means?" I ask.

They both shake their heads.

"Do you know?" I ask Rebecca.

Rebecca shakes her head.

"It means to breathe life into. Spire from enspiren. To fill the heart and mind with grace. Fro Latin inspirare. To inflame. To animate with purpose. You two. It sounds. Have filled each other with the fire of life. With a passionate idea."

"That's it, Mr Chance!"

The young girl puts her hand on the old man's knee.

"And this inspiration is stronger than what you've felt at home?"

They both nod.

I look at Rebecca again and she is blissfully smiling at me.

I can't help but smile back.

And shake my head a little.

"There is no love stronger than that," I mumble.

"I don't think they heard you," Rebecca says.

"There's nothing stronger," I say. "Not that I know of. No food, medicine, or sport. No philosophy. Not the love of a mother for her child."

I'm looking at these two.

And the way they reflect Rebecca and I.

I take Rebecca's hand.

Softly.

And pull it to my lap.

"Come here," I tell her. And she scoots close.

"I'm going to tell you all a story." I look around. "And you can't tell this story to anyone. Not here. Not after you go home. Don't even tell it to each other."

I tell Rebecca that goes for her, too.

She nods her agreement.

"I've never told anyone this," I say. I take a deep deep breath and then I start: "A long time ago in a galaxy far away. Back in Tennessee. There was a girl."


"This girl was mine. I saw her in the back row of an event I was holding at a church. I was up there preaching the values and the dynamics of neuro-linguistic programming. And this girl, her name was Rose. She had a birthmark below her right eye. Well. She had a birthmark below one of her eyes. It's been so long I don't actually remember which it was. But. She had the most beautiful birthmark below her eye. Just a dot. A large, irregular mole. It made her otherwise perfect face that much more beautiful. Rose made eye contact with me throughout my presentation. I looked at her as well. You couldn't not. I mean no one, man or woman, ever just looked at Rose then looked away. Not without taking a picture of her in their mind. And I was instantly hooked. I kept going back to the real Rose and back and back and back. And she caught me! You know she did: Of course she did. She knew I was into her. I was older, but by a little bit. She was 20. I was 23. After the show Rebecca was last in line to speak to me and when she got to me it was just us two in the auditorium. She possessed such beauty. Such physical beauty, you could say. But it was more than physical and the physical and the spiritual" (I put special emphasis on this word) "ran together in her like. A pair of snakes intertwined in lovemaking? Or hot and cold water from your sink?" I shake my head. "They ran together like your god and your devil." I indicate the young woman and the old man with my forehead. "They were one and the same! Her physical was her spiritual, her spirt her body. And as we stood there alone in that room Rebecca began to tell me a story! I stood and listened. And this is the story she told me: She said she hated her mother. She said her mom was alcoholic. She said she was an actor and I love actors. Always have. Actors have a way of breathing life into themselves! Or maybe it's the text that does it. But I've always had a weak spot for actors and it was no exception with Rose. Actors are fake. In a way. But in another way. A way I really love. Actors have a zillion little pieces of real within them. They transform themselves at will and that amazes me. My whole schtick is transformation, right? What have I been asking you to do all weekend? So she talks and she tells me this story. She says she hates her mom and loves her dad and she adores her brother and sisters. Then she tells me she played Juliet in the city production of Shakespeare. She's from Savannah Georgia. And I'm like: How old were you?"

"I was fifteen," she says.

"And this is for the city of Savannah Georgia?"

"Yes," she says. "Of course. You can't play Juliet when you're 20."

"I guess not."

"Trust me," she says. "You can't. So when I was 18, I had a breakdown."

"Be specific," I tell her.

"I was at college and I cried every day," Rose says.

I try to picture her birthmarked face scrunched up.

Salty tears descending her cheeks.

"I didn't understand what was going on," Rose says. "The people in my hall drank every day of the week. I don't like to drink!" she says. "I couldn't find anyone to talk to! I wasn't connected."

Rose taps my chest.

"I was so disconnected. The world was dark."

"How is it now?"

"Oh. It's still dark! It's darker than ever."

At this point I motion for her to sit. And we both sit on the edge of the stage, over the old fashioned stage lights which are closed below our butts.

"Do you want me to tell you about the darkness?"

I nod.

"The darkness that entered me is like a politician wearing a mask. It is the two-faced-ness of a man whose job requires him to lie. A salesman," she says. "A self-help guru."

"Why does that require you to lie?" I say.

"A lie isn't necessarily a bad thing," she says.

"Why does being a self-help guru require you to lie?"

"You're like a magician," she says. "You create fake light. Do you go home each night believing in your own tricks? Of course you don't. I can see that in you right now."

Now. Rose was a heroin addict. She was at my meeting that night to try something new. She had been smoking H since she was 13. That night was the only night I ever saw her. She may be dead. We sat on that stage till they shut down the school. Then we went to an all night cafe, called E's, and we talked some more. She told me her life story and she paid and around 2am she left and that's the last I've ever seen of her.

But before she went, I asked her more about the magician not believing his own tricks.

She got excited when I did.

She came forward to me, her belly pressing against the tabletop.

"A magician," she says, "is like an actor. And an actor," she says, "is like a self-help guru. We all have tricks. We learned them as children in the library. Our parents would take us there or we would take ourselves there. And we'd read books. I read books on acting by Konstantin Stanislavski and you read books by Maxwell Maltz and the magician. He grew up reading books by Harry Blackstone!"

"But my tricks are real," I said.

"Are they?" She leans back and sips her coffee. "So are mine. So are Harry Blackstone's, in a way. At the end of each night, the naive viewer of plays and the naive viewer of magic tricks and the naive viewer of your inspirational techniques. They all go home not necessarily believing what they saw at the magic show, the play, the self-help speech. But they do believe. Just enough. To get them to go to the library. Which is where some of them. Just some of them. Read the books that we have read and go deep enough to become an actor or a director or a playwright or a magician or a guru. That is the guru principle. That is how we work. That is what makes you a purveyor of tricks of the mind and me a manipulator of emotion and the magician a seller of illusions."

Rose sits back in the 24-hour booth.

I stare at her with my 23-year-old self.

And I am amazed.

My small group. The old man and the young woman with Rebecca sitting to my right and us all in a corner. All of them are looking at me with their mouths open.

"That is the secret. Of The Guru Principle. That's how it got its name. The reason I tell you that story now is that Rose, the heroin addict with the beautiful mole. She breathed life into me that night. Just as you two have breathed life into each other. Just as Rebecca has breathed new life into me this weekend. Do you kick your spouses to the curb and go home with each other? Or is that weekend. That short meeting. Enough for you. I have to go."

Rebecca stands with me.

Our fingers squeeze each other tight.

"The part. About not believing in your own tricks."

"What about it."

"Well. Was she right?"

"Oh yes," I say. "She was absolutely right."


"Wait. So. What? Are your tricks real or not."

I stop walking. Face Rebecca.

"They're not tricks," I say. "They're offshoots of neuro-linguistic research being carried out all over the world."

"But NLP has been discredited!"

"It doesn't matter," I say. "Are they tricks? Are they not? None of that matters. You have to make someone else believe it or it'll never work. That's how it's like magic. Does the person I'm doing it on, believe it? They have to. If they don't it doesn't work! That's how she gets the guru principle out of it. Yes. I do believe my own tricks. Ultimately. But what's important is the other person believes it. It doesn't matter if it's real or not. It doesn't matter that NLP has been discredited. Every year I have to work harder to make people believe NLP because the internet. They can research a thousand 'no's' before they come here and it's my job first to break that down. To use cussing and match 'n' move and all the other 'tricks' I do. It doesn't matter if it's real!" I shout, and my voice goes up and down the hallway. "All that matters is that they think it's real."

"But you also believe that it is real."

"Yes. I have to. Well. It's easier to convince others if I do believe."

"So are you a sham or not?"

"Everyone's a sham when viewed with a long enough perspective! You know? Read Maxwell Maltz today. They sound ridiculous. They're like meditation for preschoolers. Even science, when viewed from far enough in the future. It's all lies!"

"Science isn't a lie!"

"It's as bad as religion!" I say.

"No. It isn't!" Rebecca says.

"Oh? Look at every statement of truth that science has ever made. Science proceeds as the pursuit of truth through a paradigm of theories being proven and then ultimately replaced by better guesses at the truth. Science is the thin sun line around the edge of a mostly dark cloud. The light part is science's current truth. It's the latest guess at the truth. That's the new study published in the news. There's no greater truth which has replaced it yet. That's why it's a brightness on the edge of. And containing. The darkness of the cloud. But that darkness is the burnt out husk of science. That's all of yesterday's headline truths. Now they are superseded. Now they are dark. Science is a guessing game. Just like religion. It's just what we use to guide through the dark as we are always faced with knowing more and more about that which is less complex than us. And knowing more about what is more complex than us, but never being able to understand it."

"You can't believe that," Rebecca says.

"I believe whatever gets me where I'm going," I say.

"Don't you believe the truth?"

"Truth is transient, my friend. Doctors used to advertise cigarettes. Have you ever seen The Exorcist? One of my favorite parts in that movie is when Ellen Burstyn is in the hospital. She's talking to this doctor in the hallway and he takes a cigarette out of his pocket and lights it. In the hospital. It's hilarious from today's point of view. But think of that now-basic fact: Cigarettes cause cancer. They didn't know that 50 years ago. They didn't know it so bad that doctors. Smoked. In hospitals. Doctors are the premier advocates of science in this society! Imagine how many doctors got cancer from cigarettes. Imagine how many minorly sick people went to the hospital and died from cancer they got from their second-hand smoking doctor! That is science. That is how wrong science is. I can bring you more examples if you like."

"No thank you," Rebecca says.

"Science just burns through paradigms faster than religion. Look at how quickly science creates truths in technology. Ten years ago HD was a miracle to television. Now high definition is low definition! It's HDR. It's 4K. It's RAW. It's Samsung's curved TVs. Think of that. Today you walk into a Best Buy there's a curved TV you stand in front of it and five seconds later you believe it, you see its advantage, you buy it! Ten years ago if you walked into a store and saw a curved TV it would be like: What? Where did they come up with this horse shit? Your cell phone: The same thing. They keep getting thinner and thinner and more and more sharp and they've got a flashlight and a compass and you're more and more connected to the world. What do you think a phone's gonna be in 10 more years? Super fucking thin? As thin as a piece of paper? No. There's not even going to be a phone. It'll plug into your skin. Or brain. Or something. My mom was alive when 'ice box' wasn't just an old-fashioned term for a freezer. They actually had a box, in their kitchen, full of ice. And that's where they kept their meats and their cheeses and their milk. That's 70 years ago, they did that. In 70 years all this technological junk and scientific theories, NLP, not NLP, it's all going to have gone the way of Maxwell Maltz and 'Psycho-Cybernetics.' It's just a way of transforming people's minds. Of giving them a transformative experience. They don't care if it's real. If it's scientific. If they believe in science then you tell them it's scientific. Just to get them, started. If they believe in religion then you sell it to them on a cracker of religion. A slice of cheese laid oh so carefully on top of a Jesus cracker. All we're trying to do is find the particular spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. But do I believe in science which is supposed to back up the paradigm of NLP that I teach? Of course not. Do I believe in the religion that's grown up around say, Jesus' teachings? Of course not. I believe in it just enough to convince you that I believe it so that I can massage your ethereal brain in a way that your spirit or soul or your spiritless and soulless whatever of a self believes me enough to go along with it. And after science? There will be another paradigm that causes you to go along with the magic I'm peddling."

"What is that?" Rebecca asks.

"That would be the channel," I say. "But please don't ask me to describe it. Its complexities and its implications are even too much for me to handle. I'm old enough that I don't prefer my personal paradigms to be fucked with so often. It's difficult and it makes me tired."


"If it makes you tired," Rebecca says. "Then you should sleep."

I grumble her off. Headed down the main hallway of the Four Seasons.

"If you're out of breath," Rebecca says. "You need to be inspired."

I look at her like she's crazy and keep walking.

Rebecca stops. She says:

"If you're weary, walker, you need to rest your feet."

I turn to her in this hallway.

She's wearing a skirt and flops like something from Africa. One hand on one hip. Her age and the tightness of her skin makes her look like she's native to some country there. Either that or an art student.

"I'm a dancer. Remember?" she says.

Using my technique.

The girl is reading my posture, my tonality, my breathing.

She can hear my thoughts. Just like a schizophrenic thinks they can. But with Rebecca, she's come in through the side. Though the back. I hired this woman and now she's reading my mind.

"Don't use that shit to try and manipulate me."

"I won't," Rebecca says. "I would never."

"If I could only get that promise from everyone I teach."

"I mean I would never do it to hurt you," she says. "Manipulation for your own good, I guess that's different."

"Be careful!" I say. "Be careful that you know what's for my own good."

"I will," Rebecca says.

"Specifically: Be careful that what you think is for my benefit. Is for your benefit. That's hard to see in your position."

"What is my position?"

"The person with power," I say. "I want you to have it. You want it good. It's not my place to talk you out of what you want, Rebecca. Especially if it's for both of our good. And the goodness of humankind in general."

"What would that be?" Rebecca asks, coming close to me.

"A baby? I'm just spitballing here."

She touches my shirt.

"'Cause I wanna fuck you like that," I say.

Specifically using the vernacular.

"You do?"

"Yes," I say to her face.

I grab her skirt by its elastic waist. Run my fingers around.

Rebecca leans up to me on her toes.

"Tell me how you want to fuck me. How and when," she says.

"I want it now," I say. "I want it slick and tight. A tad rough. I want hands in hair and through skirt waists and inside your body so snug it rocks us both to sleep."

"To sleep?"

"Yes I want to fall asleep inside of you."

Her hands tighten. Grabbing a piece of my shirt.

"Make me cum," she says.

My cock surges.

"Yeah?" I say.

"Yeah," she says. "I'm almost there right now."

"You are?"

"Yes," Rebecca says. "My cunt is so tight you couldn't get your index finger up there and I am so wet it's beyond wet I'm gushing. Feel me. Feel me."

She takes my hand and sticks it down her skirt.

She's not wearing any underwear.

My hand takes its life from hers. Goes down down down.

Rebecca leans her neck back. Her head looking at the ceiling.

My finger follows the curve.

Goes over her fur mountain thing.

Feels a stump. That most glorious bump.

Rings her hole. Sticks itself inside. Grabs some moisture. Brings it back out. Paints the woman's clit.

Rebecca's knees give.

My hands grab her by the armpits.

Bring her up to me.

To kiss.

To manipulate.

To drive crazy with my hands.

My hand. Her neck. My mouth. Teethmarks. The semblance of a tattoo on the white girl's back. Her hands driving my cock. Driving me crazy.

Her nipples my mouth her crazy fingernails raking my back undressing me of my shirt in the Four Seasons hallway. Me holding her body erect against mine thumbing the depths between her legs. Fucking her with my finger wishing it was my cock thinking her room or mine? And the girl reads my mind again and says: "Mine." "Your what?" "My room. It's on the second floor. Grab my hand and follow. I will reprogram your mind."

I gasp at the NLP reference.

"I'll wipe your banks clean and program you with my cunt," she says. "My dripping, female cunt. You have felt me. With your hands. Now feel me with your mind."


Rebecca.

Holding me in place.

Sans words.

Sans time.

Sans physical guidance.

She crawls underneath the sheet.

Like we're father and daughter.

Playing hide and seek.

Do you see me now? Can you see me, Daddy?

Her head peeks out the pillow end.

Rebecca chuckles with such youth it feels sick to me.

Sticks her hands over her body.

Rubs herself through the sheets.

Then she goes back underneath.

I'm taking off my khaki shorts. Cargo ones. My cock sticks up and to the left. Preventing a delicate move. Not delicate, I am awkward and pointy like a cock holder should be.

Rebecca is making noises.

I check the door is closed.

Cherie and I have an agreement but having an agreement in theory. And one of us executing that agreement. In practice. Those are different things.

Rebecca comes out and swallows my cock.

Swallows it so hard I can feel the back of her throat.

And going down, down, down.

Her throat is so tight it hurts me.

But you never ask a girl not to do this.

She succumbs to me, falls as a slave.

Wanting to demonstrate my superiority.

Her inferiority.

Her deference.

This is how she does it.

By swallowing my cock whole.

She leads me by my balls. Grabbing them with one hand.

She leads me underneath the playtime cover.

Somewhere in my past. Two children. Are playing a game.

Somewhere is a kid and his babysitter.

Envelope of red.

The girl takes the boy's hand and puts it inside her.

The boy cannot look away.

Inside the red slit on a white body.

Bulinda spreads her legs and lowers herself over my hand.

My dear Cherie is rubbing my shoulders from behind.

She is the only one who knows of my Parkinson's.

And Rebecca, below, her insides dripping, looks me in the eye. Totally vulnerable. Her eyes a "go."

Her hands, running from the base to the tip of my cock.

Begging.

Do it to me.

Do me so well.

Do my bloody cunt. I'm pink in the panties. Don't worry. We can't have kids now. You can fuck with no worries. As long as you don't mind a little blood.

I look down to where we meet.

My cock head banging against her shutters.

And I go down. Down. Down her face and neck and chest with my tongue. Tickling her belly button. Giving her sensation. That feeling of another's finger inside your navel. Playing doctor as a child. Your earliest sexual memory. Nine times out of 10 this is what it is: Playing doctor with your best friend. Feeling their fingers probe your navel. And feeling odd. That sex feeling. Maybe it's a smell. The smell of going in your mom's bedroom when she has a guy over. Or just after he leaves. A disturbance in the smell-o-scape. Sex has less of a look than a smell. The smell of sweat mixed with pheromones mixed with girl cum and guy cum it fills the air and smelling that smell may have been the first I ever knew of sex.

I lick this girl's vagina.

Strain my eyes to see its color.

Lick her clitoris hard. Then so, so soft.

Rebecca's hands about my head. She squeezes.

I taste her. Flavors of lemon, strawberry. She tastes like Special K Red Berries. Motor oil. Thinness. A leak.

Her cunt is so tight I'm jamming my tongue inside her.

Fighting to fuck.

When I tongue her gap she makes the most beautiful sound. Like a chorus of children getting fucked by Catholic priests but who wanted to fuck them. That one in 100 girl who was more mature than her age, whose sexuality enveloped that of the priest. That truly dirty little girl. She only exists in my mind, and I am ashamed that I think of her now. Rebecca in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform. Me and her in a bathroom. I get to remove her panties and once she lets me do that, I know I'm in. That special moment before you've fucked but after which you know you will. After which you know you'll be allowed. That moment when your cock plays with her holes above her plain white Catholic schoolgirl's panties and right before you pull them down with no resistance. Or right before she pulls them down for you.

Rebecca's hands. Pulling me up.

Crawling over her like a tiger.

Everything but the noise.

The growl. That guttural noise I make unconsciously.

That lets her know I am an animal.

That she is about to be fucked by one.

Our eyes meet. Locked in.

My cock plays between her legs.

Finds its way up.

Rebecca looks at me with expectation.

She looks at me with hope.

I hope he fucks me good. I hope he fucks me at all. I hope I hope I hope I get him with my cunt. That we have epic conversations starting today. Lasting for all time. That there is cement between our legs. That once we touch we will be unable to move, to separate. That this day will be his last without me. That "my dear Cherie" will meet her end. Somehow. Either physically or through the switching of my man's preference for lovely lovely cunt.

See? I can do the double word thing.

I am observant. I am smart. I am capable of using NLP to get my man to cum. Cum, lovely man. Come with the words I can express to you only through my eyes.

Cum inside me, I think she's thinking.

Looking only at Rebecca's eyes.

Her mouth not moving.

"It's ok. You can cum inside me," she says.

Still speaking only through her eyes.

I'm done imagining what it will be like.

"Don't imagine any more," she tells me.

I say "Ok" even though no words are spoken.

And I push up in.

Inside the girl.

Inside her glorious cunt.

The wetness on its sides coats me. Warms me. It's doing something with pheromones that lets me know my dick is in the right place. Super-smart fucking. Fucking like the first time it was done. Probably between a human and the alien gods. Either the gods of the Greeks or literally an alien come to Earth to fuck human women. And without pride, maybe that's me. A person with the knowledge of the aliens. Set here to guide these people. I wonder that sometimes. You know they say we might be dealing with aliens who look like humans. That we wouldn't even know. Well what if we are aliens. Some of us. And what if we don't even know. What if we were put here without our knowledge to spread the higher truths. What if we sent ourselves here without our own knowledge.

This is what I think the minute I go inside her.

She is a receptacle for the knowledge of alien gods.

I'm here to implant her. Not with a baby but with knowledge. And I try to express that with my eyes.

I'm going to cum in you, Earthly girl.

Hold still. Hold tight.

Your cunt is a conveyor belt.

Not for my sperm, exactly.

But for the secrets of my mind.


"Are you using that alien god fantasy against me?"

"I don't have time to explain my thought process to you."

"I don't think you have to."

"Anyway I wasn't using it against you. I'm using it for you. And how the fuck did you know that? There's NLP but it's so specific what you heard from me."

"I didn't hear it. It wasn't physical. It wasn't a sound!"

"I know! I know. I'm wrapped up here. With you. In this room and I'm being schooled by a princess from Harlem. Some guy out there I forget his name he's praying to his gods that this conference be over."

"Maybe that speaks to its power."

"Don't flatter me, bitch! Do not flatter me."

"I'm supposing, not flattering. There is a difference."

"I'm sorry."

"And don't call me bitch. This isn't session. You're not shocking me into awareness using random cuss words. You have my attention. I'm at attention!" she says.

Standing. Saluting me. Naked. Totally in obedience.

"You would let me fuck you again right now," I say.

"Of course," Rebecca smiles.

"Are you here to sap my energy?" I say.

"No! Why?"

"There's this uncontacted tribe in the amazon. They fuck, obviously, but they don't know that fucking is what causes pregnancy. The men stay away from the women. They think that women take men's power."

"Why do you mention this?"

"I don't know."

"You think I'm taking your power?"

"I had a friend in middle school. He used to say that he would never masturbate at the beginning of the day. He thought sex sapped his energy and if you did it early you'd be tired throughout the day. Not just tired. But that cumming was your power and if you held onto it in the morning you'd have it all day."

"And if you jerked off," Rebecca says, "you'd be sapped for the rest of the day. Woman takes your power."

"Why?" I ask. "Have you heard of this?"

"It sounds like some typical middle school guy thing to say."

Rebecca comes to me and I hold her at arm's length.

"Do you believe in that?" she says.

"No. I mean. As much as I believe in anything."

"But this is NLP. You are NLP. You have to know that that belief. If you hold it. Affects everything you do."

"Of course," I say.

And Rebecca says: "You do believe in it!"

And I say: "No."

And she looks up into my face and she says:

"You do believe in that. You have been carrying that belief subconsciously since middle school and you haven't examined it thoroughly. You believe that women take your power in such a rudimentary way as to be stated in the terms of some uncontacted Amazonian tribe. Don't you?"

I say nothing as she steps away.

"You still believe what your friend said to you. In middle school. About jerking off in the morning."

"I don't believe it."

"But you don't not believe it. You haven't worked it with NLP process. It's lying there. Untouched. Still operating as one of the programmatic elements of your belief system. You secretly avoid morning sex because."

"Rebecca. No I do not."

"And you haven't processed your belief in that guy. Whatever that guy's name was. Who cursed you yesterday or the day before by saying. To your face. That he was calling on his gods. To stop you. From doing whatever you were doing to him."

"I was trying to help."

"But he didn't want your help."

"I guess not."

"He didn't just not want your help. He called upon the greatest power he could think of. To stop you. From working your magic on him. It's universal! It's a battle of the gods! Playing itself out right here in the Four Seasons of Westlake!"

"Rebecca. You're making this more than it is."

She sits on the bed.

"I don't think so. I think you know you've overstepped your power. You've crossed over. Outside of your domain. And into someone else's. Some other god's. And you know it."

Rebecca lies down on the bed.

She turns her head to me.

"You are a god," she says.

She touches her breasts.

"And you've been put on notice by other gods. That you have crossed a line that they drew around you a long time ago. This was a line you were never supposed to cross. And you have. You've crossed it."

Rebecca makes circles on her body with her fingers.

Her hands gravitating toward her pussy.

She was right. If I converted all her metaphors. Translated them into my own language. There was a circle around me and I had crossed. Not merely crossed over it, tiptoe style. But I had busted through like a superhero crossing through the movie screen. People had paid to see me up there. Not down here, among everyone. But down here is where I came. Broke the fourth wall. I wasn't on the stage. Unreachable. I was down here. With the people. In their hotel room.

"Come to me," Rebecca says. "We need to fuck again."

It was too much to calculate through in real time.

I am a passenger now. Along for the ride.

I move to the bed, my cock so big.

"Give me your power," she says, laughing. "Give it to me so you can't give it to me more. I am your uncontacted tribe. I will sap your power so you don't have any more. Come on, baby. Give it to me. So you have nothing left. I'm kidding," she says. "I'm kidding, baby. Come here, baby boo. I'm joking. I'm not some mythical god. I'm joking. I'm just a girl. Come to my pussy. Will you? Will you still fuck me? Even if I'm spouting words you never want to hear? I was kidding when I said I'd take your power. I was joking. Come here, baby. I'll lie here and say nothing. I'll turn on my front. You lift up my ass. Dominate me, boo. Let yourself believe that anything you want, I'll do. Who knows? It might turn out to be the truth."

I'm still standing three feet from the bed.

Rebecca sits up.

"Baby I'm just kidding!" She pats the bed. "Come here, let's have some fun. Baby! I'm joking."

"No," I say. "You're mixing truth and lies."

"That's what you fucking do!" she says.

"No it's not!" I say.

And Rebecca says to me: "Yes it is. You mix them. You start with the truth. Throw in some hopeful truths. Those are also known as lies. Then you smooth them over. You bring us to believe in the hopeful truths. Once we believe in them enough, they're no longer lies! You pat us on the head and send us back into the world, believing your more beautiful version of the truth. There's nothing wrong with it! You charge more than these motherfuckers make in a year."

"No."

"That's what you said! You're the guru to a bunch of frustrated capitalists. Business owners. And people like me."

"Not typically people like you."

"You hired me! Now I'm in the mix! Come over here and fuck me."

Rebecca spreads her legs and splits her pussy open with two fingers. It's red and dry and it looks like if I put my dick there it would cum in an instant.

"You want this?"

"Yeah."

"Come and get it. Leave your pseudo-Biblical ideas on that side of the room. Get your dick hard. Come here. And use me. There's nothing else happening in this room. It means nothing. It's just your parts and my parts doing their thing. You and I get to enjoy it. Some aspect of biology people have mastered to give themselves a thrill."

She started in on the essence of human sexual pleasure but I didn't hear it because I rushed to her, threw her down on the bed, and what I did to her would be called "rape" if Rebecca didn't want it so much.


Sexual oblivion is so complete. Such a dominating act to the senses. It can detour the strongest will. Lay flat the most towering of intellects. The strongest intended resistance. You can go in a room. Everything about you detached. And with the slightest hint that one may be able to procreate. Or shoot blanks into your lover's glorious hole. You can think about it so clinically that you think it'll never get you off again. Then, with the sexiest presentation of love, of lust. You are rolling and rolling. Caught up in the particulars of touching and loving this most exact and most individual person.

Native Americans say the mountain doesn't care if you're rich or poor. It will kill you anyway, so goes the logic. Sex behaves the same. It brings the rich man and the poor man to their knees. Treats them the same. I am brought to my knees before Rebecca. Chasing some intrinsic desire to please and be pleased. It's almost as though we were meant to have affairs. To cheat, in secret dark. Cheat on lunch hours and fake trips to the grocery store. Fake midnight meetings and eyelash glances from a clerk. To me. While Cherie is there. Going back to the store later pretending to have forgotten to buy the milk. Waiting till she gets off. Inviting her to my car. This is the reason for tinted windows. This is the reason I wear dark glasses and a scarf around my head when I go out. To try on anonymity. Does she know me? I'll see if I can get all the way through it this time without telling her.

And with this redhead spreading her legs on top of me in the passenger seat. Not Rebecca. But a Walmart Supercenter cashier just like her. With a smirk on her face and yellow panties between her legs. Unzipping her khaki uniform. Saying: "How much farther are we gonna take this?" And me answering: "So far." Reading her name off the tag on her wrinkled shirt. "Tanisha? Is that your name?" She nods. We go on. Just as I'm sticking my dick in her some dude she works with crosses in front of the Rover and does a double take. He looks at me straight in the eye.

Recognition.

"Move move move!" I say.

I'm trying to hide behind Tanisha.

"That fucking guy sees me!" I say. "Fuck!"

And the dude is reaching for his camera phone.

I'm balancing Tanisha on my dick. Placing her between me and dude. Anxiously about to cum. The guy gets off a couple of shots and I'm looking at Tanisha and looking at her name tag and finally I'm like:

"Tanisha? Is that your real name."

Her hands go straight to my hips. Elbows locked.

"My name is Heidi. This is just for work," she says.

She throws her name tag on the floor.

I make a mental note: Pick up the name tag. When I get home. Go around to the passenger side and pick up Tanisha's name tag and go to the trash can and dig in it to find the bottommost bag. Poke a hole in the side and slip Tanisha's Walmart Supercenter name tag in it. Then put the bag back in the trash can, at the very bottom. Then cover it up with the other bags. If Cherie asks me what I was doing with the trash, tell her I thought I saw maggots in there and I was investigating the degree of the infestation.

Once inside, make good with Cherie.

Sit with her in the living room.

Faux fire in the hearth.

Get my phone.

Then madman search the internet for recently posted photos with my name tied to them. Search: "Martin Kevin Chance parking lot Walmart Supercenter fucking redhead in black Land Rover girl's name Tanisha or Heidi," I'm not sure. Press the green magnifying glass icon.

Look pleasantly over at my dear Cherie.

The search comes back empty.

Smile at my dear.

Then note to self: Wash penis before Cherie has a chance to contact it.

It's not Cherie's pussy that I'm afraid of.

It's not her body I'm avoiding.

There's an emotional aspect. It's her person. Her reactions.

It's like what I'm really doing is collecting. Not orgasms. But facial expressions. Of the other person. I want that joy of knowing that I made another person feel this way. That they released themself enough to let me make them cum.

And Cherie has so fully released herself to me.

That fucking her is an exercise in futility.

It's no longer satisfying to see her.

We're like BFFs practicing.

In an early enough age. We made a pact with one another to teach each other how to fuck. How to suck. All this with the end of making each other better. Not just better. But the best possible. So that when I go away from Cherie and she goes away from me. That each of us. Is. The best and most amazingly mind-blowing fuck possible. We're just practice on the hobby horse. When you fuck me it is really Cherie's hands that touch your body. When you fuck Cherie, that is really me. Knowing you. And me showing Cherie how a man like that likes to be touched. When you fuck me, those are Cherie's so girl hands and Cherie's so girl fingers. Spinning you. Reaching up your spout. That pussy is Cherie's and I know exactly what to do with it. Cherie has taught me everything there is to know.


And Eleanor and Bindy and every girl back to the beginning. All the way back to my mother who raised me who bathed me who covered me in blood when I came through her canal. A tunnel of love labeled "LOVE" sliding down hands above my head feet extended toes splayed the big jawed man chest muscle like an ox on a water slide I paid my admission like all of you I can stick a pinkie in the splashdown. Call it sex addiction. Call it pleasure, if you like. Call it whatever you want to it is the smell the spacious wonderland between the legs that yellow salt taste infinite jest? I don't think so. If I am an abuser I abuse like the pros. Behind the scenes. Right in your face. I'm a slugger. Ain't no Punch and Judy hitter. When I come through that tunnel I'm like "WOW!" The world is mine. This person's conscience. Is mine. This one's action: Mine. Success and failure. Your annual income. Offshore reserves. We discuss this latter. Quietly. Sex magick. Unadorned. Read my pages backwards discover a whole new world. Within these pages. Laid across the words. A boy. A girl. Whatever is in between. Join forces I picture my seminal result. As. I. Cum. Inside my mother's tube. Everything that happens in the big room. I see it as my semen crawls inside you. With clawed arms. Spiky fingernails scraping the red off the birthing muscle. Bleeding you. Gripping so I can never go outside. When I cum my thigh muscles click into place. Holding. Holding! Giving the semen every possible chance. Knowing it can never make a child. I'm shooting blanks but I imagine them as bullets. Live. A microscopic creature birthed inside my balls. Reaching so deep inside you none of us can ever reach where it goes. The tiniest mountain climber seeking out your egg. Burrowing. Burying itself. Becoming part of you. Of your systems. Of your future and your desire to love me. Or part of me. Forever. The loving mother staring down into my eyes. Looking up at you. Having come from inside your body. I infect. I exchange seven minutes of your pleasure for a creature whose creation I drove. Inside of you.

"Baby?"

Rebecca says.

I'm lying in your arms.

"Baby what's wrong with you?"

I see the ceiling. Textured putty. Rebecca's face.

"Baby are you ok?"

I sit up. I'm dressing quickly.

Rebecca turns to me. Naked.

"What?" I say.

"You were screaming the names of god. Or of the devil. Or maybe both. I don't get into religion like you do. Apparently. You were crawling through a tunnel. Bringing gifts to satan."

"I wasn't bringing gifts to satan. It was just a dream."

Rebecca stands. Her hands on her hips.

Just like an angry momma.

"It wasn't a dream," she says. "It was just you. Wide awake. Bringing gifts to a spirit. Forget the god and satan language," she says. "You were bringing gifts to me."


"I have to go," I say.

Pulling away from her.

Pulling out of her room.

Rebecca. Half dressed. Coming after me.

Letting the door close. Locked.

And it's the two of us running down the Westlake hall.

Yelling at each other incoherently.

"You brought me gifts in your dreams!" she says.

"That's all it was. A dream!" I say.

But she comes back: "But you said you were wide awake!"

And I come back: "It doesn't matter, Rebecca. It does. Not. Matter." I stop walking and she catches up to me. "It makes the littlest difference in all the world! It was just. Brain rummagings. Neurons firing!"

"That's the N in NLP!" she says to me.

"It doesn't mean. Anything!" I say.

"So the N in NLP. The neuro part. Doesn't mean anything to you? I find that hard to believe, Mr Chance."

"Well believe it now. 'Cause it got you interested enough to come here doesn't mean it'll be a takeaway in your parting gifts bag! I don't know why I was ever with you!"

I turn and go.

Then I hear it.

I turn back to Rebecca.

She's crying.

"Rebecca, dear. Darling dear. I never thought you to be the weak woman in the room. I never fucking thought I could make you cry."

"It's not you!" she says. "It isn't you who made me cry."

"Yeah well who is it 'cause right now I gotta get back to the stage."

"It's me. It's you. It's me and you!"

"Come now."

"You're like every other guy! All you want is to lick my envelope. That's all you want. You come to me for the stamp. You lick it. You stick it. Then you mail me on my way."

"Rebecca. I'm in the middle of a conference. When the conference is over we'll work this all out."

"It'll be too late by then! It will be too late."

"I didn't just want to 'lick your envelope.' Sheesh."

"That is all you ever wanted from the beginning of our relationship."

"The beginning of our? Of our relationship? I met you two days ago. Am I right about this? We didn't know each other before. Right?"

She looks up to me.

"You didn't know me before."

Then she puts her head down.

"But you knew me," I say. "So you thought. You've known me since the moment you discovered me on iTunes. Since you read my first book. Tell me how many other girls. Do you think knew me like that? Imagine going to a conference in every town and in every town there being a girl like you."

"Is she like me in every way?"

"She isn't like you in every way. But every part of you that interests me can be replaced by a part of her that interests me and so on and so forth ad infinitum! That goes both ways, too! Every part of me that you like can be replaced by some guy or girl you know in New York. Maybe it takes parts from three guys or four guys to replace every part of me. But there's nothing special! There's nothing special about you or me that makes us impossible to find locally."

"You're not making any sense," Rebecca says.

She pulls past me in the hallway so now I'm following her.

"You are not some Mr Potato Head with detachable arms, detachable eyes. I can't find you in three bags from my local grocery store. That is not true," she says. "Not true."

I see this artist, this dancer, outstripping me on her way to the conference room. She has made me tired. Stripped me of my energy. All I want to do now is lie down and sleep. All afternoon. All evening. But tonight is the fire walk and I have to be alert and ready for whatever might happen. From Rebecca. From any member of my staff. Any conferee.

"Rebecca. Stop."

"We don't have time," she says.

She continues on.

"Can we at least make up?" I say.

Even that doesn't stop her. And I find myself in the position of chasing this girl. Down the hallway. Down the end hall stairs. And I'm pleading with her. Begging her. To be reasonable. Why I would ever expect that from a woman I don't know. She has me where she wants me. At this distance, from this position, she can torture me until the moment I walk through the back entrance to the conference room.

Once I go through those doors, I will have the upper hand.

In this hallway. Going down these private stairs, she owns everything about me.

Once my people see me, I will be a god again.

Standing on this side of that door, I'm a fish on a hook.

"What are you mumbling," Rebecca asks.

Her back against the conference doors.

"I'm a fish on a hook!" I say.

"Isn't that great?" she says. "Isn't that grand? You don't have to explain it to me, I understand. Without them. You're nothing more than any of us. You're nothing more than a guy on the street. You can't pay for my obedience. Maybe with a whore you're still in command. But with me. With the mountain. We treat the rich man and the poor man the same."

"I'm not just a rich man," I say.

I'm sweating. Crying. Everything wet.

I lean against the door, my arm insulating my head from the glass. I start to speak. And somewhere in there I turn around and look Rebecca in the eyes as I say it:

"I'm not just a rich man. Even if I had a mountain to my left and a valley of women to my right. If every one of them was free and intelligent like you. I would still not be 'just a rich man.' Would you like to know why? Because I have NLP. Because everything I say to you has been originally programmed inside my brain to make you do everything I want. As far as NLP allows me to do so. And NLP has created a castle in my mind where I can go at any time. Any time. I can go so so deep inside my mind that you will never find me. Ever. Again. And my castle is stocked with every psychological dry good I could ever need. I can go in there. I can be in there for ages. Without my dear Cherie. Without memories of my youth, which may have been distorted by time and the people closest to me. And, dear girl. I can go in there without you. I can close the door behind me. With you on the other side. I can turn my back and never look at you again."

At this point I open the conference room door.

I let it close behind me.

My microphone is live.

I adjust it to my mouth.

And I let my voice. My optimism. My deep voice say:

"Welcome back, my friends. Welcome to the final day of The Guru Principle. We have done small groups. Now we're ready to review your work and prepare ourselves for the fire walk."

I look behind me through the circular window in the door.

Rebecca, her hands pleading with the glass.

On the other side, Rebecca with her fingers. Her nose. Both wetting the door. She must be standing tip toed to get up that far. Her eyes lock with mine. On this side: Power. On her side: Weakness. Wanting. A little girl begging me to touch her. And I have my choice. Girls here. Girls there. What happened? Did she offend me? Make me feel uncontrollable? I didn't even remember but I was going to make a demonstration, at this door, that I was the father and she was the daughter. Off a stack of memory I never had. I have never been a father. Never had a daughter. Never had a sister. Never even had a father. But in this moment I took my power from the universe, laying low a little girl. Who was also a smart woman. Who wanted me. All I had to do was resist her a moment. Keep her on the other side of the door.

On that side: Loneliness. Wanting. Powerlessness.

On this side: The opposite of that and everything more. Every part of me bolstered by my audience. An audience that goes, "Oooh!" and "Ahhh!" An audience that would cheer me even if I did wrong. An audience that touches me and believes in me. That builds me up. That is always ready to see me.

I go down the aisle. My arms outstretched.

To the happiness of everyone except the pale.

The floppy.

The soaking wet behind me.

She has lost this round with a vengeance.


My Cherie is there.

My dear Cherie.

She comes to me.

Arms outstretched.

Embraces me.

I am the messiah above Rio.

I am Christ the Redeemer.

Situated. On a hill. Ready to die for my flock.

"I am the spirit under the rock. If you turn it over, I will be there. If your leaders say to follow the sea, then you will find me in the fish. If they say for you to go to the sky, then you will find me in the birds. In knowing yourself, you will therefore be known to others. Anyone who does not know themself, will be poor. They asked Jesus in this case how should we live our lives. And Jesus said: Don't lie. Don't do what you hate. Everything hidden will be shown. Everything covered will have its cover removed. This and a whole lot more is contained within and expressed by the Gospel of Thomas and I mention it here not because of its associations to Christianity. Which I have no desire to associate myself with. But I mention it because that is one of the traditions here on Earth. And it's one wherein you can find. If you want to find. You can find many sayings which may be useful to you."

I come to the front of the stage, Cherie's hand in mine, Rebecca standing outside the back door of the auditorium. Leaning her wet face, her wet tears, against the glass. That girl will have in this her lesson. Never try to trap a man while he stands in a room with a thousand doors. Rebecca's is the only one that's closed. And even that is unlocked. If only she would open it.

But that isn't what happened.

No.

I saw Rebecca turning. Twisting. As I re-introduced the audience to our program. I saw her soak her hair with tears and shield her eyes with a hand house. Looking in on us with jealousy. With anger. Rage. I saw her eyes looking straight upon me. And I saw her eyes curse me. And I saw her curse Cherie.

Then, as I spoke, I saw Rebecca brush back her hair.

I saw her lick her hands like cats lick paws.

I saw that red mane become like a lion.

Saw her stand straight.

Saw her wipe her eyes.

And she pushed open the door. And she left that grieving hallway behind. And she came down the center aisle. And I thought she would come all the way to the front. I thought she would confront me. But she didn't. She walked her body dressed in Africa pants down to the space between the first row and the stage. And she sat down! And she crossed her legs! And she looked up at me. And she looked at Cherie. And the hate was gone from her face. And I saw her stretch every emotion she carried. Stretch those emotions out through 10 fingers and 10 toes. She removed her sandals. She looked up at me. And she looked at me with such innocence, such placidity and pliability. She offered that to me. She was the ultimate student. The most open person in the room. She looked at me as if we had never had a relationship. Or maybe as though we had. But she opened herself. Her heart and her head. And she took notes with her eyes and as I spoke, I spoke in bits and pieces to her. Then in spoons and cups. Then in gallons and in tanks. Rebecca consumed every word that I said before it could even get to those behind her. I saw her for the first time as exactly what she was: Rebecca was the mad listener in the room. She was the one. If there had been one person I had come here to speak to. It was her.


I step forward.

Phrases from the Gospel of St Thomas continue to fill my head. Do not be concerned for hours upon hours with what you will wear. Phrases about the beginning always containing the essence of the end. Of a story. Of a life. I call that "the DNA of the first day" meaning that the first day of a relationship or a job always unfolds in the same way the rest of the relationship will unfold. I have known this is true since high school. Observing the relationships I entered into. Watching us all unfold throughout the years. If someone was jealous of me on the first day we met, they will be jealous of me for the rest of the relationship. I saw this in my friends. I saw it in myself. Words about entering the kingdom. Presumably the kingdom of god. But it's never clear whether the kingdom is heaven or heaven on Earth or haven of mind and I never share too many of these words because the simplistic among you will catch yourselves up thinking that they refer to this religion or that. When in reality I am speaking of no religion and every one. Grabbing onto the wisdom of ages present and past for anything that strikes me as possibly, remotely, poetically true. Almost no one in my point in history understands this, we are so consumed with the dogma of war.

If you must throw away my book, due to these mentions, throw it away! Toss it in the trash and move on. And if you must throw me away, as a teacher, due to these mentions, do it. Throw me in your trash and forget you ever read this book.

I care.

I will miss you.

But I will knock the dust off my sandals and move on.

I step forward.

Loosening my grip on Cherie.

Stepping to the front of the stage.

Lifting my hand for Rebecca to come.

She stands and in her bare feet, wearing what I now see is an Africa-patterned skirt, says:

"Have you discovered that in the beginning you look for the end? When you make two one. When you make the inside like the outside. The outside like the inside. The above like the below. When you make the male and the female one and the same, so the male isn't male, the female isn't female."

Then we both say: "When you fashion an eye in the place of an eye. A hand in place of a hand. And a foot in place of a foot."

Then Rebecca stops and it is just me: "And a likeness in place of a likeness."

Then we both say: "You will enter the kingdom."

I drop Cherie's hand and step off the stage.

"What is the kingdom?" I ask.

And Rebecca says: "It is a kingdom of the mind."

"What is eternal life?" I ask.

Rebecca says: "A moment is eternity if you let it."

"This moment?"

"If I let it be, then it is," she says. "The moment of a birth. The moment of an orgasm. The moment in which you first meet. The moment you first taste fruit. The moment right before you die. The moment when you hear someone's voice for the first time. Someone whose words you've read. It is the moment of a first touch. Of a last touch goodbye. An eternity in an hour, as Blake says. Something about infinity and heaven in a flower."

"Yes!" I shout. "Yes! You took the words right out of my mouth!"

"They were on your face," Rebecca says.

I sit on the stage.

I un-peel the microphone from my face.

Rebecca addresses the crowd.

My Cherie kneels.

"St Thomas said that when you understand the world profoundly and it makes you rich that you should renounce the world. That once you make a conference whose theme understands the world. But not superficially. Whose theme groks the world. Profoundly understands. Gets at the very essence of. That should be the point of giving up. Of giving over. Of getting out of the business of teaching, of living, of even breathing in this place. Total renunciation," Rebecca says.

And the crowd is quiet.

My Cherie and I are quiet.

And I listen to the words.

Of this girl prophet. Of this troublemaker. Of this girl who owned me in my own game. Who is making this conference hers. And I think of the times of Jesus. Of the times of Mohammad. Of the times of Buddha. Times when the people were thirsty for a teacher. And out of thirst that teacher rose. Just like the times in Tennessee. In California. Twenty and 30 years ago, when they were hungry from me. I grew out of a desire for healing. A great thirst for change and belief and life! Those needs were the soil that I grew in. The need to believe in just beyond. Something not quite understood. A new church. For no one was going to find the mystical in the Catholics, who were all abusers. Or the Christians, who were compromised by hypocrisy. Or the Muslims, who everyone believed were terrorists.

They believed in me for my moment.

And as I watched Rebecca preach above that crowd.

As Cherie and I huddled at the side.

I wondered if they might believe this girl from Harlem for hers.


Rebecca preached. And the crowd was amazed.

She preached the hard sayings of Jesus. The Zen Buddhist koans. Rebecca drew from every source imaginable: Martin Luther King Jr. Yoda. Sesame Street.

To carry this amount of material all in her mind would have been impossible for most people. She had been studying for years. I saw her in her New York apartment. Bent over books. I pressed through. Remote viewed her tablet. The bookmarks. She had thousands of them. All arranged neatly, organized in folders, filling the screen.

Her social habits focused for me: She had none.

One day she walked into the park. She fell asleep on a bench. Laid there for days: Five, six. Seven days into her fast my Rebecca had reached enlightenment. She woke that day, stripped naked, and was promptly put into a mental institution. Diagnosed schizophrenic. Taught manners, given antipsychotics, sent on her way.

I wasn't sure of the details, of course, but that had been the basic form of things. Of course she wasn't schizophrenic. Of if so: Who cared?

Rebecca went on to search for her kind. Maxwell Maltz. James Arthur Ray. Me. She had to see where she stood in the guru world. Meet her peers. Some in text only. Some, like me, she met in person. In secret, at first. Just going to our conferences. Then, in my case, she let herself be known.

"How can you let her stand on your stage and teach us?" the crowd said.

I said: "The one who has it. At any given moment. Is the one who teaches."

"What if we came to see you?"

"You made a mistake, there. If you came to learn The Guru Principle, you are getting it from Rebecca now."

"What if we want our money back?"

"If you want your money back. I will give it to you. If you came to stand amazed, then stand amazed. No one is keeping you in this room. No one here is holding your accounts hostage. If you're smart, you will do what I am doing: Sit down and listen to the teachings for a while."

My dear Cherie poked me in the rib.

She motioned to the segment of the audience who paid nothing to be here. The ones who worked for me. They were getting up and leaving.

Rebecca noticed this and faltered.

"Keep going," I urged her.

Rebecca addressed the main seats.

"I will tell you why I am preaching here for a moment. At the grace of my teacher. There is a koan of the dead cat. You may have heard this one. The left half and the right half of a monastery are fighting over the ownership of a cat. They can't make any progress so they bring the cat to their teacher and they say, 'Please. Help us. We both want the cat.' Their teacher says, 'Whoever of you can do so, say something now that will save this cat!'"

Rebecca looks at me.

"What did they say?"

"No one said anything."

"And what did their teacher do?"

"He killed the cat."

Rebecca holds her hand up to silence the crowd.

She paces the length of the stage.

"Now. Don't give me any PETA bullshit. This happened in Asia. There's no oversight on movie sets there. No one to save the poor little cats. I think if you understand this story you will learn a lesson that rises over the cat's fate. If any of you are worried. If you complain about the killing of the cat, and that is your primary reaction, you can walk out that door. Do it now. Walk out that door. Never look back. And never look back because the cat does not. Even. Exist. It's a parable. So what do you think it means?"

Someone shouts: "He ended the fight. That's all."

"Who else?"

"He was crazy. All those monks are crazy."

"You mean like mentally ill?" Rebecca asks.

"All our great leaders are mentally ill!"

Rebecca laughs. "Maybe," she says. "What does it mean to be mentally ill. That kind of crazy. In western society? Is Changpu Almaguer crazy? Is James Arthur Ray?"

I feel like Rebecca is speaking directly to me as she says this.

"Is it crazy to ask people to walk on fire? Is it? That's exactly what your leader here is asking you to do. If you've been to this conference before you'll know that the three-day seminar culminates in a fire walk. That's right. Your toes. The soles of your feet. And a 40-foot bed of coals. White hot. Embers. Temperatures reaching a thousand degrees! Who is the craziest? The one who asks others to walk on fire? Or the ones who follow him. If you believe him, you will not be burned. If your belief falters, you will be burned. That is how it works, right?"

"Pretty much," I say.

"How many people have burned their feet because they didn't believe?"

"Nothing. One in a hundred. Not even."

"One percent! Of how many people at each Guru Principle?"

"Approximately 900 out of the 3,000 people who attend."

"Do the fire walk."

"Yes. So 1/3th of the people who attend. Regular admission. Do the fire walk on the last day."

"Yes. Plus all regular staff and me."

"And everyone's on contract not to sue you."

I look at her sternly.

"Everyone at every Martin Chance event is always under a boilerplate contract not to sue. It's a standard instrument. It doesn't apply specifically to the fire walk. Any event has a similar contract."

"James Arthur Ray didn't."

"James Arthur Ray did," I say. I go up on stage. "But there are certain events that you can't guard against with a contract. Depending on the state law. The state law grants you certain rights that you can't sign away."

Then Rebecca says:

"Like the right not to die in a sweat lodge."

And I say:

"Exactly right. All this will be covered in a safety class that will ensue right after you finish telling us your parables. Do you have more to teach us?"

"Nope. That's all I have!"

"Great. Then we'll start that safety class now."


"Why did you hit my Cherie last night? I was never quite clear on that."

This is backstage. After the safety class.

"I'm waiting," I say.

"I'm. Quick. Thinking," says Rebecca.

"This should be an easy one. Where is Cherie?"

"She went to her room."

"I won't ask you how you know that," I say. "So don't tell me. Why. Did you hit her last night?"

"It was an accident," Rebecca begins.

"You know what. Don't worry about it. I don't even want to know. You can keep operating in your new capacity. Just. Keep the pain and suffering to yourself."

"I can do that," Rebecca says.

"Good. Would you please?"

"Do you think you might have bipolar disorder? You're running hot and cold."

"I don't have bipolar disorder," I say. "If anyone here has bipolar disorder it's you."

Rebecca looks around innocently and points to her chest.

Who? Me?

I grab her hand away from her chest and pull her close.

"You're mine in the sack," I tell her.

She whispers in my ear.

"I know that," she says. And she's right. She knows that she's mine in the sack. She knows she's mine because she's given herself to me. Taken me in reverse. She owns my every instinct.

"Do you feel your NLP is working? Are you in control of your conference and yourself?" Rebecca asks this.

I grip her tight around the waist of her gown.

"Take what you want of me. But leave my conference alone."

"Mmm hmm," she says.

"I'm serious. That shit about James Arthur Ray and his contracts or lack of contracts. Don't be feeding that shit into my people's minds. This is supposed to be a spiritual experience. You only seem to half understand that."

"Oh no," Rebecca says. "I understand that completely."

"Ok so you came here to sacrifice me?"

"Of course not," Rebecca says. "I didn't know what I would encounter when I came here."

"Well you see it now! It's 3,000 people and their money!"

"That sounds incredibly spiritual, Mr Chance."

"It is!" I say. "Their giving financially makes it more spiritual. Not less, as you might think. When people buy something, even for a dollar, they value it more than if they get it for free."

"I'm sure that's true. But what business does a billionaire have charging what to you is pittance but to them will wreck their bank accounts for years. What do you get out of that?"

"See the previous point: This makes them value their experience more."

"But why charge so much?"

"The more you charge, right up to the point of them going bankrupt, the more they will value the experience. It isn't just me saying this. I'm hardly the first one to do experiments in this area. We used to charge less for conference seats. Much less. The end-of-weekend satisfaction surveys rode 15% less than when we maxed out the price based on average participant income."

"Listen to yourself. You sound as spiritual as a bulldozer."

"As opposed to your. What? Frog? Cloud? Sky? Who says a bulldozer isn't spiritual?"

She struggles against my grip.

"Let. Me. Go."

"No. I am not going to let you go. I'm going to hold you tight. Right here in my arms. So everyone who works for me can see that it's I. Who owns. You."

"That's good only on a sexual front."

"You wanna take me upstairs and fuck me again, don't you?"

"Only if you agree to shut the fuck up."

"There's a bathroom behind the headset closet. The only way you can get there is through the headsets. If you let me lead you there now, I will."

This next part she whispered in my ear.

My heart skipped ahead a half beat.

My cheeks and thighs instantly ran flush.

I wanted to say yes. I wanted to go. I wanted my cock inside this little girl and my mind flashed back to Bindy. Bindy as always. That out of control little girl and that out of control little me. It was a straight shot from there to Tuesday, to Amanda, to that ballet dancer in the darkroom hallway. Straight from there to Sarah. To Arianne Collins. To Claire Collins. To Mrs Collins. To Amy, to Ashley, to Ashley's roommate. Nadja. Tim. Charisma. Astrea. Then a whole bunch of girls whose names I don't even remember. Somewhere in there was a Nikki. A Miss Kobayashi. A female version of Dave. Then I got stuck on an Eleanor. Eleanor was sticky to me. Eleanor was peaceful. She didn't fuck with my money. And I let her go because she bored me. And now Cherie.

And now Rebecca.

It was like I was looking for something within these girls that I couldn't find within myself. And I kept switching girls because I kept not finding it. I knew some of the thing's parameters. It was about self love. It was something gentle. It was voices quietly speaking to me. From somewhere above. From above my crib. My mobile. There was a face up there that looked like the face of love but who left me. I don't know if this was an actual memory or what I had put together from details I learned later. The face above the mobile was my dad.


And even though I've never seen my dad's face, as far as I know, his face was there above me. I know it's impossible that I could have remembered him after seeing his face only at such a young age. But I feel like I do remember him. His nature. It's as though this person who created me. Who had done so much at the beginning and so little since. It's as though his nature was stamped within me beyond the level of DNA. It's as though we did know each other. From that moment he popped in on me. When I was in that crib.

Maybe he wanted to know me.

Maybe he wanted to remember my face.

Maybe he knew what he was doing, leaving me.

I see him standing above me on the night that he left. I see him coming back inside after he packed the car. I see him turning the crank on that mechanism. Winding it up. Letting it go. Turning and turning and turning and turning above me. Searing my mind. It was: Horses. And cowboys. It was: Indians. And tomahawks. It was: Covered wagons. And west world princesses. I wonder if the adventure of all those characters above my head made me journey. Made me adventure the world. I wonder if that party of creatures circling above me influenced my mental journeying. My exploration of the mind. Do I, now, have a constellation of primitive adventurers dancing around my mind. Held by strings. And maybe just as my dad and mom started those figures flowing within me, if there is some sense in which, when the mobile stops, I stop. Is that how it is?

My heart mobile. Spirit mobile. There was never a rain catcher in my window. Might it be that this childish mobile came from me. Might it be that I brought this here from the other life. The outside. The previous. That which we have forgotten. Might it be that there is some celestial basis for this pattern of stars, of skies, of demons princes thieves! Brought here by our spirits to teach us how to live: There are men with guns. Butchers. Bullies. There are princesses whose skirts drive my intentions like the north star. Playing such a position of importance that it is necessary to warn little babies in cribs of their presence here. Beware: The princess teenage babysitter who will wrap you up in her own exploration of this world. Beware: The relatives who in their moments of best intentions, rain down a plague of advice that you can basically throw out the window.

My uncle did this. My father's brother.

He visited us to fuck my mother. I'm pretty sure.

Then he offered me a walk around the block and I came back before we reached the first street, this man was so full of bullshit. So confident in his lack of knowledge he suggested that since his brother had left my mom and me that he might step in and fill the position of mentor to me. This man so colossally misread the situation between us it staggers me to this day. I am a billionaire from giving advice to people who humbly seek it. My uncle is a Florida alcoholic whose greatest pleasure is some annual military aircraft showing. At which his kids all come home and sit on his alcoholic lap. At which he and his alcoholic wife look at each other and each one secretly unhappy, thinks about how unhappy they are and then retreats to their own mind, deciding not to leave the other. Not this year. Not any year.

I could see through his bullshit at five.

Five years old. Intellect. Compared to this man 30 years older. Now I'm older than he was then. Now he's an old man sitting on a netted porch in Florida. Waiting to die. Every man I might have fought with in my youth is waiting to die. No point in fighting them now! When they were my age, I punched upward. When I fought with them, I lost. Now they are old men. Taking refuge in old folks homes that serve smoked mussels, fine fine food that is running out due to our poisoning of the world's oceans. Why fight? The trip here is so short as to be laughable. We're all on a conveyor belt to death. And sometimes you fall off the side. Or get squished. So that you never even reach the end.

I advise dads to be role models for their own kids.

Leave everyone else's alone.

My father never had the strength.

His brother was a buffoon. Republican ass kisser who never made a cent. Stopping by to fuck my mom.

Thanks, dad's brother. Thank you, dad.

But in my reimagined mind, I love that image of my father's face behind the mobile. Young man himself. Turning and turning and turning the crank. Animating the creatures of that year and that design: Today it would be Minecraft figurines. Pixelated sunglass frames. Replacing generations of Lincoln Logs and Legos and Tamagotchis. A gentle male face. The comfort of him holding me in his arms. Loving me without words. Leaving me. He couldn't take it. Or didn't want to. But he peers through the mobile. I see Mom in the background. Leaned against the frame. Watching my dad look at this thing he had created. A human being greater that him and momma put together. A human being who would change the world. And ultimately a human being who would crumble to my own set of problems. Challenges.

And I rise from the backstage floor.

Drilling my fists into the black surface.

My back spasming tremendously.

But I push the mobile aside.

And I am big. I am tall. I am the biggest person in this room. My muscles and my teeth, my forehead, my jaw. I am like the giants of old. Our lives are extraordinary. But they are short. And my hand goes to the bottom of my spine. And I straighten the spasming muscle, straightening it out, and I look to the ceiling of this backstage as if it were the sky. That god people always speak of, or whatever's out there, had decided to give me one more pain to suffer for the remainder of my days.


Standing like a Greek statue. My body in marble. Motioning. Gesturing for staff to come around.

Everyone's there. From Rebecca. To Larry. To the group of Mormon kids who had come along with their church. Forming a thick circle around me, as I meditated.

"We have come here from all over the world. Our commonality no religion not schooling not gender not profession. But NLP. Simply. Neuro-linguistic programming. And a desire to change our lives, firstly. And secondly a desire to serve those who have come to this conference. We've made it. Almost. We have one more night of healing and learning. We have to work together. As one team. As one body. I am the head and you are the heart. I am the kidneys and you are the liver. The spleen. The toes. The ears, and everything in between. When you have the opportunity to help, help as the spleen. If you are the spleen. Help as the toes. If you are the toes. I'm doubling everyone's salary for this week because you deserve it. Because we've had extra work. And different types of work, to do, this week. Don't shy away. Embrace it. Do the extra work. And get paid! Your bonuses will be available from Larry at the microphone stand. They will be cash. Take them and send them but please do not report the income! That's your special money for putting up with my many antics of the last three days. That is yours. For taking a leap when I said to take a leap. I am proud of everyone here. You've made this weekend special to me, and I hope we've made it special for all of our participants. Rebecca: Amazing. You have shown yourself to be well on the way to fulfilling The Guru Principle. Well done. I say again: Well done!"

My staff claps.

Rebecca looks at me like I'm a pariah.

"Change is tough," I say. "Change is a bitch. You come here in one set of clothes and you leave in another. You enter these doors, this backstage, with a certain set of desires and leave with those desires rearranged entirely. When I started out my goal was to make enough money that I would be able to start a family and raise them better than my folks. Quickly I learned I didn't even want to start a family. I didn't want kids at all. Then I realized I wanted freedom over the Earth. So I made enough money to do that. Then I wanted to help other people do what I did. And quickly I found that helping other people is difficult. Because it's something you need their help with. How can you help someone do what they don't even want to do themselves? You can't. You're a fool to try. That's why when I say your goals should be something that doesn't require anyone else's participation, you should stick with that as tightly as possible. Setting a goal of doubling your income, when you work for someone else, is not a good goal. It's a goal that would be better if restated. In a way that doesn't require your employer to help you. And after a while your goals will form themselves naturally from your subconscious. Sometime a decade ago I found such a goal within myself. Whispering. Taking me over. The goal was to become a billionaire. And before I had even fully recognized that as a goal, it was done. I had accomplished it, rather easily, from combining and dispersing my existing assets. Frankly? That was easy. The hard ones were at the beginning."

"Martin?"

It's a boy, hardly 18, within a hand's reach of me.

"Yes?"

"What was your first move? To get out of working for someone else? How did you make that happen?"

I look at him and sigh.

"I'd like to tell you but I'd have to kill you!"

My employees laugh. But not this boy.

"I mean. Really. What did you do?"

"You might think I was joking when I said I'd have to kill you but there really are some aspects of my personal journey that I keep secret with the mind that it's better if it's something you figure out for yourself. You can't take my path and make it yours. It wouldn't fit. You have to bang your head against the wall and find your own first steps. That's the only way."

"Ok," he says. Nods. Falls back into position.

"I'm serious, guys. And notice the language that I used: To bang your head against the wall. I would advise that you do that. It's something I've done since the beginning. Intermittently. To roll around the puzzle pieces of my brain. Notice that? It's a metaphor you might make use of. Fire light. Fire light. First star I've seen tonight. Who are my acolytes? You. You. Go. Ready the fire. Strictly use the fill procedure printed on the side of the trough. This thing runs itself. Trust me. Follow the instructions and there will be no worries. I will do this walk first. Which means my feet will touch the coals at their hottest. Everyone after me will have it easy. Just think of your mantras. Don't hurry. Just head slowly and deliberately toward the other side. Use NLP. It may have been discounted by scientists but it's been working for me. Ok?"

I look over the heads of my people.

I do not see my dear Cherie.

"Where is my wife?"

I'm pushing through.

"Where is my motherfucking wife?"


Jamming on the elevator buttons. Watching the numbers go down. 3. 2. 1. Elevator doors open. The car is empty. And I'm slamming in. Slamming into the elevator to close its doors.

Writhing on the floor like a junkie.

And I am.

I'm a love junkie.

Needing my next fix.

My next dose.

Looking at myself. Reflected. In the ceiling mirror.

This is what it comes down to.

Me. Myself. And I.

Clutching the glass walls.

Looking up at myself. Looking down at myself.

Which one of these selves is me?

Which one of these lives?

Which me would shatter if he fell?

Elevator door opens. I jump out. Run to the room. The door is half open. I push it in.

Cherie is alive and well.

Sitting on the bed.

Her feet dangle over the side.

She holds a glass of champagne.

And as I go to her she cheers me.

She smiles with her drunk.

I see behind her that our balcony door is open. A chair sits with its back facing the railing. Wet footprints lead from the bathroom to the balcony chair.

"Oh that?" Cherie says. "That's nothing. That was just me showing off my wares to the neighborhood."

I sit next to her on the bed.

She offers me her champagne but I push it aside.

"Oh you're not drinking today?" she says. "What? Too good for the rest of us? Or would you drink it if it wasn't shit. This is shit!" she yells, throwing her glass across the room. "It's all shit," she says. "Every stinking atom of your entire atmosphere. What is the word I'm looking for?"

She looks to me for the answer but I am no help.

"Empire!" she says. "All of this is your empire. Empire of dust. Isn't that what Trent Reznor says? Or was that Johnny Cash?"

"It was both," I say. "Or was it neither?"

Cherie has it on her phone.

"What have I become. My sweetest friend. Everyone I know. Goes away. In the end. And you could have it all."

Here she looks at me. And here she makes me feel.

"My empire of dirt. I will let you down. I will make you hurt."

She waits for me.

But I do nothing.

"Don't you feel that? Doesn't that make you feel?"

"Of course it does."

"But in a tiny way," Cherie says. "In a far off way. You feel me from a distance," she says.

Like that sums up our entire relationship.

"You feel me like a gnat crawling over the rim of broken glass in that corner. You feel me like a cut to your little finger. It's all empire of dust. I'm that annoying little part that's just close enough to you that you never have to feel me. Isn't that right? Isn't that true? Isn't that right and true?"

She gets up. Leaving her bathrobe on the bed.

Pours herself another glass of champagne.

Sloshes it around the glass at me.

"Empire of dust," she says.

And I can tell she's drunk.

"Are you gonna have an accountant come in here once we're gone? A counter of everything? Is he going to count the shards of glass in that corner and count there number of sips of this champagne I've had? Are you going to enter it into your journal? Compare this to every drink that's ever been taken by one of your girls before she left you?"

Cherie stops at this point.

"That's right!" she says. "I'm thinking of leaving you. I've been thinking it for years. But you know what I'm gonna do first? I'm going to stand here before you. Asking you. To want more than my sex. I'm going to stand here before you. Drinking my champagne knowing if you made a move against me it would be rape among people like us."

"I'm not making a move against you."

"Well maybe you should!"

"Yeah," I say. "Maybe."

"But it's not maybe, is it? It's definitely. Not. You know what your mistake is?"

"Please tell me."

"You forgot to be in love. Forgot to want. You forgot to desire me the way any man would. A perfect stranger. Someone you met at the coffeehouse! If I were my own daughter you would be interested! But you say that's forgetting a negative and you're right! But forgetting a negative is the worst forgetting of all."

She takes a sip of her champagne.

"You know what I've been thinking all these years?"

"What?"

"No. I shouldn't. I couldn't tell you!"

Little girl giggles bubble up from her tummy and I am looking at my babysitter of old. Looking at Bulinda and her naked envelope. Red. And soft. And wet. And that forbidden color. Secret place. Personal space. Everything Cherie says translates down into whether I can touch it or not. And I know. That everything every woman has ever said to me filters down like this. That every evolution of power and sophistication we go through as a species has everything to do with: Can I touch your envelope? Can I stick my dick or my tongue or my fingers all around and up and there. Through a genius-ness of squiggles. Connected to your brain.

"You're not paying attention to me at all, are you?"

I look from her envelope to her face.

"You're thinking about my pussy, aren't you?"

"I'm sorry. I."

"Honestly. We could be Jack and Jill on the hill or we could be Bill Clinton and Monica What's Her Name and you'd be thinking the same thing. You are a billionaire and still. What do you use that for? You're a pussy hunter. That's all you men will ever be. Each and every one of you would fuck your mothers if you had the chance. Just as an experiment. Just to see what it's like. It's sad, too. It's sad because as long as you manly men are running things, there will never be peace. Only war. And the only way to solve things is to have less testosterone in play at the decision-making tables. Then we could have peace. And reasonableness in government! And that's sad. Because there's something fun about all that T: That's that without it none of us would get fucked like we like it. And none of you would be fucking pussy to match the libido of a teenage bull. It's like you have this everything that is fun to play with. If you can consider that you're playing. But you never can. You'll never have that realization. That what you do in the conference room and what you do in the bedroom are actually not the same thing at all."


"Um. This is very interesting. But."

I pick my phone up from the bed. Scroll through notifications.

"You have to go," Cherie says.

I see her standing by the service cart. Sipping her champagne. This is a woman I once considered marrying. Not just marrying, but financial marrying, like without a prenup. Her sly eyes. Slanted face. A tad too much eyebrow. She had just started shaving them off and painting them on. If I look at her with layers. Filters. Augmented. I can see her the way she was when we met. At a conference like this one. Cherie, working backstage. Wearing all black. Brown hair in a ponytail. Stuffed through the back of her cap.

It's so easy to say: Cherie was the special one then.

Rebecca would have been 15 at the time. Maybe younger.

And my Cherie had come to me, carrying crates of soda.

And she had asked me where to put them.

Looking up at me with her Guru Principle t-shirt.

I was already taking care of her. Before we ever met.

Was already filling her pockets with cash.

Her and a hundred other girls.

Was wiping their butts with toilet paper. Buying them lipstick and tampons and all the other accessories for a girl. Yes, if I wasn't around, they'd find something else to do. Economies expand. They contract. But the fact of this universe is that they worked for me. That I was the one moving money from conferees to me, from me to conference workers and hotels. From the pockets of conferees' businesses to the pockets mine. Which meant from the buyers of lobster dinners at restaurants into Cherie's pocket. From the watchers of pro football and their commercial sponsors into my pockets. Into Cherie's pockets.

And now she stands here. In our joint hotel room. By a service tray with champagne, blueberry pancakes, the finest snacks that money can buy. And yet Cherie is still in the precarious financial position that she started in. She isn't one of the owners. I'm an owner, and I own everything she's eating. Everything she's not wearing. Cherie is not married to me. Financially or otherwise. So she has to tread lightly around me. If I kick her out that door she will have the contents of her checking account. That's it.

I watch her sip the champagne, swallow.

I check the balcony to make sure her footsteps are real.

I think Cherie and I are done. She can see it in my eyes, too.

"There's that whole Colleen Conaway incident," I say.

And Cherie finished my sentence: "She killed herself in San Diego."

"She didn't necessarily kill herself," I say. "But she did fall from a balcony."

"It's scary," Cherie says, "to be you. Isn't it? All that money and everyone wants a piece of it. You must think I want a piece of it."

"If we ever broke up I would give you enough to live on."

"But that's just so I wouldn't ask for more!"

"Why would you ask for more if I gave you enough?"

"Don't play me," Cherie says.

And she's right. I would just be giving her whatever I gave her so that she wouldn't ask for more. I would put her on the table. Wrap the sheet around her. And push the drawer into the wall. Money to a dead Cherie. Money for her family so no one would ask questions. It's all part of wrapping up responsibility.

I would always do that. Because it's right.

But I would also always do that because it's the easiest, smoothest thing for me to do for myself. What's five, 10 million as a percentage of what I'll make this year? It's insurance money, if anything else. You've got to do your business in a way that it protects your business. I think the Colleen Conaway incident was one indicator that James Arthur Ray was thinking too small, too short term. Colleen Conaway was a woman who died at a James Arthur event. The whole group had been directed to dress as homeless people and wander around a mall. I don't know. It all seemed fishy to me. When the police found her, she had no identification on her. Maybe she was character acting the thing? Living it to the skin? Or maybe one of Arthur Ray's people had found her first and removed the identification.

Before all this, James had written a book: Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want. It was a The New York Times Best Seller. Which means what? That a million people in America were interested in learning ways to make their life more like they want it? I have another way to put that. Uniquely gained from my particular point of view. That is: That a million people, all across this country, hated their lives enough to want better lives and they were willing and able to buy a $20 book to make that happen. More than a million people hate their lives enough to buy that book. It could be a hundred million for all we know. Everyone knows The New York Times Best Seller list is full of shit.

"Cherie. I've got to go."

"Go then! You keep saying that!"

"When I come back are you going to be here?"

"Yes. Oh, wouldn't it make it all so easy if I said 'no.'"

"Goodbye for now," I say.

Cherie waves her little finger at me. The rest of it is holding her glass.

I step outside, close the door. Quietly, as if there was a baby inside.


A small group of people has gathered around me in the conference room. As I speak, a larger crowd forms. Circle by circle. Until the entire room is filled.

"Does anyone else just feel bad?"

A few from my closest group says, "Yeah."

"I mean. Sometimes I wake up and it's hard to wake up and my head hurts from coffee withdrawal and day after day nothing I do will make waking up any easier. Does anyone here feel that? What is that?"

"Age," someone says.

"Is it age? I don't remember waking up when I was young but I've seen young people wake up since then and it looks difficult for them, too! Covering their eyes from the light. Covering their bodies from the air! I've seen kids cover their whole body with a blanket to prevent getting up. They even cover their air hole. You know, that one place you left open to the environment so that while you hid away from the day you could still breathe! They even cover up that hole. And risk death. Just to not wake up."

I look over my crowd.

"Why do you think that is?"

"They're just tired?" someone says.

"But they're so tired they risk death," I say. "At least they think they do. To give up your air hole, as a kid, seems kind of extreme, doesn't it?"

"I did that last night," a woman says.

"Did you think you were going to die?" I ask.

"For a second I did!" she replies.

"Did you?"

"Yes! For a moment I considered I would die. That there would be a small chance. But I decided it was worth it."

"Just to get an hour's more sleep," I said. "Just to shy away from the light. It was worth the small chance of death. Isn't that extreme? Does anyone else think so?"

"It is extreme," says someone in an orange rain jacket. "But I would do it too. Waking up is hard to do."

"You know what?" I say. "I've talked to people around this world and it's hard for everyone to wake up. Princes. Queens. Dictators. People on drugs. People off drugs! I spoke to drug addicts. Alcoholics. About how difficult it is for them to wake up. Every. Single. Day. And they talk of cramped muscles. Unwilling eyeballs. The taste of the stuff. From the night before! But you know what? When I talk to sober people. People who have never done drugs in their entire lives. You know what they say?"

A smattering of "What?"s.

"They say the exact same thing. Cramped muscles. Unwilling eyeballs. They talk about waking up in the exact same terms as addicts. Little kids talk about waking up the exact same way! It's hard for everyone. That's the only conclusion I can come to."

"What does that mean?" asks the guy in the orange jacket.

"I think it means that waking up is hard to do. As humans. Maybe as mammals. Maybe for all conscious beings. I think that's all it means. We imbue it with meaning. We say: I'm an addict, that's why waking up is hard to do. But when the addict gets well, they say: Wow. I'm human. Waking up is still hard to do."

"So what do we do about it?" shouts someone near the far wall.

"I think we just make coffee!" I shout back.

People laugh.

"Jump rope. That's what I do. I do it between sessions, here, to keep myself awake. Alive. I think the day I stop jumping rope will be the day I die. I don't want that day to ever come. I learned something extraordinary from a pastor in Michigan. You know what this woman shared? She said she was talking to a congregate member and the person was describing this horrible sequence of events that had gone on. Mostly in the person's head. And this pastor stopped the churchgoer who was telling her sob story and the pastor said, 'I think I know what's happening here. You're having a bad day.' She stopped this churchgoer in the middle of their sentence and labeled it: You're having a bad day. That is going to happen, in the cycle of being human. It happens to everyone. There's nothing you can do to change it. You can't avoid it. You can't even stop it from happening. All you can sometimes do is recognize it, go home, and go to bed. Wake up the next day and hope this one's better. Now how does that sound from a lifelong devotee of NLP. As your leader. As one who calls this day and the last two, 'The Guru Principle,' what does that mean to you?"

The guy in the orange jacket speaks.

"Even gurus have bad days," he says.

"Yeah," I say simply. "Even gurus have bad days. Why don't you come up here?" I invite him. "I'd like to go over some techniques for attacking the fire challenge. Come on up. I think your jacket perfectly represents the danger inherent in this challenge. And yet," I say, "this exercise is meant to be cathartic. There's nothing to it, really."

I feel hands kneading my lower back.

"Don't turn around," Rebecca whispers. "I've got you," she says.

I think of Cherie in the penthouse. Drinking $800 a bottle champagne like it was Boone's Farm. Maybe falling into a coma in bed. Maybe falling over the balcony railing. Never coming out alive. My worst fear is that as Rebecca is behind me, Cherie is behind her. And that she's taking this all in. And that she knows my discussion of feeling bad for no reason or difficulty waking up is all based on her. That nothing in my life. Not for a long time. Has given me reason to feel that way.


I don't need to turn around, though. I don't need to go home to see it. To see my dear Cherie stumble through a far door in the main house. She slips in indiscriminately at first. Through a crack in the door. Sits with her back against the wall. She is half dressed in a crumpled gown from a few days ago. The one she wore with me as we drove down on Thursday night. The one, then pressed, that flapped violently in the wind, with her Land Rover window open.

I see her as my mother, flopped down on our couch at home.

My mom, then the babysitter, then me.

Mom coming home from "work."

Cherie/mom shouting. Slop drunk.

"What are you doing over there?"

And it's me as a kid and me and my current self, answering her: "We're trying to do something here. Can you not interrupt?"

Mom crawls across Bulinda and holds my cheek for an instant with her hand. Then reels back and slaps me. Cherie across this huge room picks herself up by the doorknob. Falls once. Rights herself. Gathers attention as she makes her way to me.

People get out of the way for this crazy stumbling woman.

Afraid they might fall within the locus of her arms.

"I could only interrupt," Cherie says, "if you were doing something of substance. Instead you keep on preaching NLP or whatever it is you're bragging about now. When it's all been disproved. Every little nugget you pass on to these people. Has been. Disproven by science. Experimentation shows false. All false. A board of green and red lights and they're all red! Every experiment failed. Every single one. What do you have to say to that?"

"It's already been said, dear. Before the reader opened the book they knew it."

"What? 'The Guru Principle?' All that crap? You claim they knew it." She slurs here. "Before they opened the book they knew it was all lies. Well that makes you a fraud. I'm married to a fraud."

I speak to her above the heads of all my people.

"We're not married, dear. My dear Cherie. Why don't you come to the front and lay down your head and sober up. Tonight is the fire walk, my baby. I want you to be part of it."

"You would have your oh-so-dear not wife walk on burning coals. That's classic."

"Not to walk on coals," I say. "But I would like you to be part of the blessing crew that lays on hope to those who would soon walk."

"Listen to yourself," my dear Cherie says. "'To those who would soon walk.' You sound ridiculous."

"How should I sound?"

"Talk like you talk when we're at home."

"Cherie: You know that I talk. Always. Exactly how I need to."

"I just wish. Sorry." She trips over a man leaned against his walker. "Sorry dude. You'll walk soon. On a bed of coals. And your walker will conduct electricity below the stage and you'll get shocked with 10,000 volts. Can you please move this thing?" Cherie knocks the man's walker over. The man falls over. Cherie keeps coming. People around the man fill in to help him.

"Try to be careful," I say.

"I'm. Being! Careful," she says.

And now people clear out of her way before she gets there.

She puts hands on their shoulders.

They build her up with their hands.

My mind runs to my mother. My mom. Living somewhere in east LA on the 5,000 a month that I send her. I would send her more except there's a sweet spot of monthly income for a drug addict. Any less, she'd die from withdrawal. Any more, she'd die from overdose. When I watched my dear Cherie crawl through the crowd to get to where I sat, it was floods and floods of memories of my mom. I saw her in Cherie then remembered that thing where you're supposed to marry your mother and I sure had married mine. Hooked up with. A fucking junkie. Drinking alcohol to solve her problems. Except it was worse. Cherie drank to postpone her problems. When she sobered up, Cherie's problems. My mother's problems. Stood exactly as they had stood before. But now she had the fallout of her drinking to deal with. So really her problems were bigger than before.

This tattered woman crawling through the crowd was my mom. I couldn't insult her. I could never reprimand her. I waited for her to come to the fire trough. Which lay between us. Already glowing red.

Tenders reached down with forks and spread the coals with their tines.

Inside is red.

Deep, deep red.

It has buttons and folds.

Caverns and holes.

A tender takes his hand and moves it close to the fire.

Puts it inside of her.

He takes one finger, his index, separate from the others, and he holds it over the trough and pushes it inside to the drainage hole.

It is hot. And wet. And it smells like burning flesh.

I take my finger back and hold it to my nose.

Somewhere in my mind, Bindy laughs.

I snap back to the present.

Cherie leans over the fire pit so far I wish she would fall in.

No one's hand is in the coals.

Larry catches Cherie before she leans any further.

He brings her around the end of the trough and helps her sit on the stairs beside me. On one side. My left. Is my dear Cherie. On the other side. My right. Is Rebecca. Both of my insane women. And one insane me.

"Are you ready to begin?" I say.

Addressing the crowd.

"Vincit qui se vincit!" I shout.

I stand.

The crowd stands.

"Vincit qui se vincit!" I say. "Do you know what that means? It's Latin. It means: He conquers who conquers himself. Are you ready to conquer this fire?"

The crowd screams "Yes!" back at me.

"Good!" I say. "Then conquer yourself. Conquer yourself, first. Then you will conquer the fire."


"You may notice that we've taken off our headsets. You turned your phones over at the door. Larry is taking good care of them. Don't you worry. The only changes you may notice are that your Words with Friends scores are significantly higher than they were before."

Laughter from the crowd.

"You sound nervous!" I say. "Or is that excitement? Or are the two the same. Dim the lights, please. Thank you. Now all you can see are the coals. Come closer. Stand if it helps you get a glimpse of the coals. Please notice the exit doors. They're in the same place they've been all year. Side side. Back back. Also please notice the presence of emergency crews both outside the theatre and at both ends of the fire walk. This is for your safety. At the front and back of the fire there are water baths. With sponges inside. My staff sits beside each of these baths and you can simply step off the fire walk at any point and rest your feet in them. Water will neutralize the burns. You will not be able to re-enter the fire walk. Safety crews will whisk you to the hospital if you step off the track. There is nothing to be worried about, in this. There is no judgment and no shame. The purpose of this fire walk is to prove. Not to everyone else. But to yourself that your mind is master of your body and that you are master of your mind. Use your NLP. Re-image the coals as ice. As the coldest running mountain stream. Image them as a sidewalk! Do whatever you like. But always remember that a guru can walk over coals as if they were ice. Only through the power of her mind. After this weekend, you have surely all become gurus in my mind. And I hope you have become a guru in your own mind, too."

I slip off my sandals. My five dollar pair I got from China.

Look to my left.

Rebecca and Cherie, kneeling on stairs. Watching me.

Rebecca is wild, alert. Cherie is sleepy, dazed.

Before I take my step I start to cry.

I wanted to touch the sun.

To be a trillionaire.

To go to space.

But I followed a middling path.

All I will ever be is something in between hacks like Changpu Almaguer and probable gods like Jesus. But Jesus doesn't speak to me and all I've done is realize the nature of "and" versus "or" in our universe. Most of the time people consider a matter of "this or that" it is actually a matter of "this and that." And that and that and that.

Maybe if we're lucky enough we will arrive at a help desk at the end of this life. But I've a sneaking suspicion if there is a god she cares so little of what we call death that she won't even deign to inform us that it's happened.

I let my left foot down into the spring.

Feel it cool.

All the way up to my ankles.

And I make step after step after step into the frozen lake.

Almost getting frostbite.

Rebecca. Doesn't just want me. She wants to destroy me. My relationship. My business. The Guru Principle.

I catch Cherie as she watches me.

Rebecca sees and her face fumes.

She is jealous. She feels insufficient. She feels not spiritual enough compared to Cherie and me. Everything in Rebecca's face feels like an attack.

I step.

I step and step.

I am in Antarctica.

This is a practice life.

But our language disallows us from seeing "practice" (what you do) as different from "practice" (prework). The two are one.

And that help desk again. Wouldn't it get boring living lives down here, over and over? The managers of the universe must have that figured out by now. This game of forgetting and remembering never gets old.

I am walking regularly now.

Smoothing myself across the coals.

There is no one in this room but me.

I'm five years old. Staying at my grandmother's. I pick up a marker and draw an orange on the side of my water glass. Gramma leans in and asks me why I did that and I say: "Mom never buys oranges." My grandmother takes me outside and we peel oranges together, tasting the zest and sitting in sunshine.

To my right, a possessed woman shaking.

An EMT goes to help her.

I see my mother with her elephant toes. Bodies. Falling apart as you age. Dark spots on my elbows, due to obsession and genius. Everywhere I turn, something else is starting not to work.

That feeling of: Things I can no longer do because of my illness. Being unable to will myself out of early onset Parkinson's and that confounding my life. Others in the past could do it. The inventor of Pilates shed his childhood illnesses and became a gymnast, a bodybuilder, a boxer, a circus performer, and a self-defense trainer for Scotland Yard. Why can't I do that? It contradicts everything I stand for.

I step with a shake. A reflex. Pain.

It's the same if I'm on a sidewalk.

My Parkinson's is completely outside my control.

It means that I am ultimately wrong.

Scientists "proved" NLP is a myth? I can't believe it.

I don't believe it.

I will not.

Here I am, stepping off the coal bed with frostbite on the soles of my feet.

I don't use the water.

The ridges are etched in my face.

I have. What?

The admiration of strangers.

What's that worth?

Nothing?

In the end.

All I'm left with:

Is a few million followers and this cheap parlor trick.


A drummer circle. Somebody on the triangle. One by one the rest of my staff cross the trough.

Fire managers douse the coals with air.

White and grey flows. Glowing.

We go in single file.

Rebecca and my dear Cherie lounge on the stairs. With their heads down. I can't tell if they're sleeping. Then Cherie reaches over with her arm and pets Rebecca on the head. Rebecca responds like a cat. Moving her shoulders, her head, to make them easier to pet. Rebecca smiles and Cherie is happy.

Rebecca stretches her back and her legs and I can hear her ankles pop from where I stand. A true dancer's body. Ideal. Broken.

I look over my crowd in darkness.

This is what they've come to see.

Person after person walking through fire.

Emerging the other side, unhurt.

Sometimes there's a minor burn. A request for water. And the person steps into black trays and shakes off their feet. They step out of the tray and laugh. Then everyone laughs.

A scratch. A scratch!

Then I look to the head of the pit and Rebecca. Standing strong. Is the next person to go. She watches me. She speaks in conversational volume:

"I feed the poor. I never make the rich richer. But instead I give all my money to those who lack."

"The time for talk is done," I say. "Are you going to walk?"

Rebecca continues.

"It is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it will be for you." She clearly means me. "To enter heaven."

"It might be harder for you to walk the walk than it is for you to talk the talk," I say. "I've walked it. Can you?"

Rebecca steps up onto the platform we have rigged at the start of the walk. She plunges her left foot into the fire.

Holds it there.

Then continues.

She walks the most regular walk I've ever seen.

The most formal walk.

It's a dancer's walk.

The whole time she does it, her eyes are fixed on mine.

When she gets to the midpoint of the fire walk, Rebecca stops. She lets her right foot catch unto her left. And she stands in my coal bath like she's at the beach. Her feet in sand.

Rebecca says: "Who of you is more powerful than this? Let anyone who challenges my knowledge step forward. Stand up here and show me!"

I almost do. I slip off my sandals. But the farthest I can get is the edge of the trough. Rebecca watches me seeing me step nothing. My mind is paralyzed.

Then Rebecca says: "There is nothing wrong with you. Except that you're a man."

And there is a sound.

And the sound was like frying fish.

An egg on a griddle.

It was like burning hair.

And there is a smell.

And it was human flesh.

The soles and the sides of her feet.

And it smelled like burning rubber.

Like a junk yard.

A microwave.

A rocket launch.

"Rebecca!" I shout. "Get off!"

Cherie stands.

Everyone stands. The whole room gets up at once.

Like a sigh in reverse.

A huge. Collective. Gasp.

Everyone is screaming for her to get off.

The EMTs move toward her.

I move toward her.

"Fucking Rebecca!" I say. "Wake up! Take two steps to your right!"

The simmer of soles.

Rebecca endures immeasurable pain.

Destroying her feet. The very thing she uses to dance.

Her whole livelihood. Gone in a few seconds.

She smiles at me with every generosity.

She closes her eyes and falls.

I run into the fire.

Grab her.

Push.

We are lying on the floor.

My feet are in the coals and I pull back quickly.

The EMTs cover us both with blankets and they're working on Rebecca's feet. Boiling with blisters and burns. I push them off and stand at the rim.

Looking in in in.

Deep down.

Into the fire.

And I am the tribesman running the Serengeti. The medicine man in the Amazon. A rock. The sky. A cloud.

People are pushing in. Trying to see.

"Progress has its quirks," I say.

They're wrapping up Rebecca's feet.

Someone says: "This no longer feels like a safe space for women!"

Larry is there and I say: "Look at this trouble!"

Larry says: "We've had worse before."

All I can think about is that guy on the first day who said: "Dear god let this end!"

But I jump into the back of the ambulance with her. Holding her hand. Letting them close us in. I sit beside an EMT. He's stripping out burn units. Disclosing them. Applying the entire apparatus to Rebecca's feet and wrapping it with duct tape.

"How you doing?" I ask her.

She squeezes my hand tight.

Turns her head to look at me.

"What I would do. If I were you," she says. "Is I would look deep within myself and find that higher power alcoholics speak of. I know you're not an alcoholic and you're not a theist. But there is something. Most people would say out there but I say in here. Some part of yourself, even. That you can talk to. And I would grip my mind around that thing like a cunt grips a cock. So tight," she says.

And she drifts off.

The EMT looks at me and says: "She'll make more sense when she comes out of it."

But I keep holding her hand.

And I keep her words running through my head.

And I cycled through hypnagogic images. Semi-schizophrenic trance images. Drug experiences. Images from books with no pictures. Mis-remembered dreams. The earliest images I could think of. Trying to go back through birth to see what was on the other side. I didn't know if I believed in a mystical consciousness or a soul.

Then I opened my eyes and looked down at the body that was practically in my lap. Rebecca. Rebecca with her mumbo jumbo hijacked from every book she could find. Every religious text on the internet. And her fire walk.

That was it, for me.

Of all the fire walks I've ever seen.

That was the one.

And I came to see. A little bit right then and a little bit much later. That Rebecca placed that image in my mind on purpose.

A ballet dancer ruined her feet to get that image inside me.

To make me remember it forever.

I didn't find my god.

I never found a higher power.

But for a moment. In the back of that bus. I saw myself not only as a master teacher. But also as a humble servant. Of a woman who is placed highly among the pantheon of people I have loved.


After the last night of the show, there is a declension. A descent. A slope. My trip with Rebecca to the ER. Waiting for her to be moved to the critical care unit. Receiving her room number from the waiting room attendant. And going up the elevator, by myself, in the mid of night. This was all certainly a declension.

Rushing down the hallway.

Rushing into Rebecca's room.

A doctor turns to see me.

Rebecca is in bed behind her.

Rebecca waves hugely excited.

The doctor is one I've met before.

"Dr Jordan!"

"Radha. Please."

We shake hands.

"So. Is this your doing?" Radha asks.

"Um."

"It's all my doing," Rebecca sings. "Kevin Chance had all the right security in place and guards and EMTs and water trays."

"And yet. Here you are. In one of our burn beds."

"But I mean it really wasn't his fault," Rebecca says. "I was trying to make a point. About leadership and followership and how far a student can take a teacher on her own ride."

Dr Jordan peeks inside Rebecca's foot wraps.

"You can lie there and talk to me all night and all day tomorrow and you know what I hear?" Jordan says. "Chip chip chip chip chip! Your talking doesn't not negate the presentation I have before me. Which is that you have second and third degree burns on both of your feet. Do you lie in a hospital bed for a living?"

"No," Rebecca says. "I use my feet for work."

"I guess you'll need to find another job!" the doctor says. "You stand, you do not lie down, in your line of work?"

"Of course!" Rebecca says. "I stand! I run and leap!"

"You won't be leaping now," the doctor says.

"Of course temporarily I will find something else to do. I'm thinking research."

"And what are you researching? How to be a guru? Like him?"

"No. Even better than him."

Dr Radha turns to me.

"Do I have a whole conference room of burn victims that I can expect throughout the night?"

I shake my head.

"Just this one," I say.

Dr Radha takes my hands.

"Let's keep it that way."

Radha leaves.

I am all over Rebecca, hugging, kissing. Poking her in her unburned places. We are rejoining. Loving the skin. Declaring each other as mates. Somewhere in there I hear myself talking. Rebecca answering. And I'm saying:

"I didn't know what to say."

And Rebecca answering:

"There weren't any words you could."

"What the hell were you thinking?"

She explains in nonsense.

I'm not really listening. Just watching her face.

"Do I get it?" she says. "Do you get what I'm saying?"

I claim that she gets the gist of The Guru Principle.

"It's just," I say.

"What."

"It's just that I promised. Last night. That I would never see Dr Radha again."

Rebecca laughs.

I think she was competing to be the most spiritual. Between her and Cherie, yes. But even more so with me. Her demonstration on the fire walk was Rebecca's surefire way of becoming superior to us all.

The difference, between me as a child and me now, is that every moment death is with me. But now it's not only for the fear of it. It's to remind me how valuable my life is to me. When I say I think always, always of death, that's what I mean: Remembering it makes me appreciate this life even more. It makes me grateful. It makes me grateful to be alive.

"You know I'll never sue you."

Rebecca reaches out to me.

"I would never in a thousand years."

"I know you wouldn't. Be quiet now. Please hush."

I pull over a chair.

I can see on her face that she is so so happy for the experience. Of course she would never sue. Maybe that's what I had over ol' James Arthur Ray. My disciples loved me so much they would happily drag themselves to death through a fire walk and come out the other side enlightened and in love with the leader who placed the fire at their feet.

"I know what you're thinking," Rebecca says.

"No you don't."

"You. Are thinking. About James Ray and how shitty a guru he is."

"No," I say. "That's not it."

"Do you think while he was in jail he taught other inmates? Do you think he was like: Fire walk this! Sweat lodge that!"

I chortle.

I take her hands in mine and wrap part of the bedsheet around us.

"I'm going to have to go back home before you get out of here."

"It's ok," Rebecca says.

"I just wanted."

I stop and cry.

"I just wanted to be with you until the end. I'm so sorry you're hurting. I'll see you again, ok?"

I stand and let all of our hands fall out of the sheet. She brings hers peacefully to her lap.

Mine fall naturally at my sides.

I walk to the door.

Nod slightly at my girl.

Look her from head to toe.

Of all the users and abusers and all the helpers, the hurters, those impossibly simple and those simply impossible.

Rebecca stood out among them all.

She has shown the most faith of anyone.

There are many meanings to The Guru Principle. In a million different minds throughout the world. Rebecca's action is one of those many, many Guru Principles. I'm not sure if it's the magician one or the actor one or if it's one of the other types of Guru Principles. It's probably all of them. But whatever it means to have learned the Principle, Rebecca had mastered it. How do I know? Her magic had worked on me. She had given me reason to believe in something for which I knew she knew the answer. Rebecca surprised me. She made me believe there was a secret to her trick. An answer to her question.

I knew there was one. But I also knew. Through the days and nights of time. I would never learn what it was.


The Westlake Four Seasons. Monday morning. Cherie and me packing our bags.

A black duffel for me. Cherie's red suitcases.

My jump rope.

Scatterings and smatterings of Guru Principle people.

Packing their own cars. Driving to Oregon. Driving to the airport.

Our own trip, by car, to home from here. Takes six hours on the PCH. Five if I drive. Cherie walks around the passenger side of the Land Rover. She waits. I slam the back hatch closed and unlock the doors. Cherie opens her door and by the time I settle into the driver's side, she has her seatbelt on and her door closed.

We turn to face each other.

"Want some coffee?" I say.

"Baby: Yes," she says.

I stick my hand out into the space between us.

Cherie puts her fist over my fist.

Then she pulls back.

Her face to her iPhone. Her brown hair in a ponytail. She wears stretch pants and a t-shirt with the Guru Principle logo on it. Even 15 years younger, she holds her phone entirely different than I do: Her thumbs, typing, follow an exact path. Each keystroke a precise movement. Total accuracy.

I wonder who she's texting. What she's writing. The technology invites anyone in the world to be virtually sitting here with the two of us in the Land Rover.

I learned a long time ago never to ask.

Learned that Cherie or Rebecca or whoever I'm with could be having any kind of relationship with someone else. That it was none of my business. What Cherie and I had here side by side was physical. What she had with anyone else was not. But every spiritual connection. Every informational connection. Every connection of sound, of light, of magic, could be going on for her right now. Mind to mind. Worldwide telepathy.

And that it's ok.

I start the car.

Get coffee.

Get on the PCH.

As I'm driving us north, it is clear to me. As it always has been. What elevated creatures we are. Driving this route. With the ocean on our left and the else wise fantastic geography of California to our right.

A white VW Golf passes us on the left. Its one occupant, a college-aged girl, meets my eyes. For a second, everything flashes back to me. My first kiss. So messy and saliva filled. My first experiences with Bulinda. Bindy. Whatever. And the notes I used to steal from those girls. In the Superman lunch box. When I get home I'm gonna throw them away. Walk out to the ocean and dump the bleached paper into the waves. Between them. Fold them into the surf. A look away from the girl in the VW Golf and I'm back on the path, as she passes me.

"I'm pretty sure this is the last Guru Principle," I say.

Cherie looks away from me. To her right.

She looks at uninhabited bluffs. A tundra covering to them.

I see a random white bird. I think it's an egret.

She says: "That sounds good, Martin."

I hear her wisdom coming through. Her, considering every person every angle every dalliance of mine combined with the effect it's had on our relationship the effect our relationship has had on her the time she's wasted and the total cost this whole adventure of mine has had on her. She knows I will give her money for the rest of her life, even if she leaves me.

Then she goes back to her phone.

She puts in her earbuds.

I make a call.

The stutter of the dial tone reminds me of who I'm calling.

"Hello?" her voice comes.

I don't say anything.

"Oh," she says. "I-I get it. Let me guess. You and your dear Cherie are on the 101. No. The P-PCH-H. You---you're dri-driving. She s-sits next to you in the p-passenger seat. She-she's on her-her ph-phone and you---you. You were---you were think-thinking of me! Oh Mr Chance! Do you know---do you know how d-delightful you-you are?"

"You started stuttering again," I say.

"When I-I'm not around you. It s-s-starts again."

"Isn't that curious!" I say.

"I—I c-can't wait to s-see you. Let me l-look at f-flights. W-when we g-g-get off the ph-phone. I-I'll message you-you-you. I'll send you my itinerary."

And I say: "No. No, Rebecca. This time I'm coming to you."

Sound of the crowd cheering.

Lights of the Westlake Four Seasons, bright.

I look over at Cherie and she stays head down in her chat.

I am standing over the crowd.

Levitating.

My previous girl. My next girl. All of us are there.

My standing relationship with NLP.

My fascination with energies of the opposite sex.

My ability to pick you from the crowd and to cherish you and to bring you out of the dust. To lift you up high. So, so high.

To single you out and to water you, grow you.

To treat you better than you've ever been treated before.

To raise you up.

To love you.

My name is Martin Kevin Chance. That is my name. This is my masterpiece. This is The Guru Principle.