TEN

Between-ness

Two years later, depressed about what felt like a lack of spiritual progress, I found myself thinking back to a conversation I'd had with Rose at that first summer Intensive. I'd asked him what I should focus on when I left the farm, what the next step was for me to make spiritual work a part of my regular life.

"Get control of yourself," he'd said. "Get control of your appetites and habits. Once you get control you'll feel powerful, feel as if you can take on some of the bigger challenges you'll have to face. Without control over yourself you'll always feel inadequate, inferior. You'll always be..." he searched for the right word, "...remonstrating."

His word choice surprised me. In fact, I didn't know what it meant. Rose's natural speech was an odd combination of erudite and hillbilly. His basic pattern was very much a product of the mountains from which he came, and occasionally included the poor grammar and arcane usage one would associate with a backwoodsman or uneducated farmer. Yet the overall impression he left was that of an extremely well-educated man, but one perhaps whose education came from another era, or more accurately, of a man one might imagine had been self-taught from books found in the basement of an abandoned Victorian prep school, or maybe even a medieval monastery.

I nodded as if I understood. He could see that I didn't.

"You need to build your capacity for the work," he went on. "You need to be strong enough to withstand the forces of adversity that will rise up against you. The way to increase your capacity is to push beyond it. The measure of a man is his ability to endure tension."

Most of the tension in my life came from Rose and the group. Mainly through attrition, I gradually assumed more responsibilities in the Pittsburgh Pyramid Zen Society, first as treasurer, then as monitor. Sitting behind the table wasn't as easy as it looked--trying to stir everyone's thinking while keeping the peace, trying to lead people in beneficial confrontation without scaring them off, trying to talk intelligently about spirituality without being grounded in it myself. I thought back to when Ray was leading the group and wondered how many of the new people were judging me as harshly as Iíd judged Ray.

Rose still showed up unannounced for meetings once or twice a month. Sometimes when I arrived he would already be holding forth, joking and talking with everyone. On those nights the meetings would pass with me as just another spectator. Other times he'd remain quiet and let me run the meeting while he sat sternly and silently a few feet away, as if mentally critiquing my competence for the job. On these occasions I tried to follow Augie's advice to just go on with the meeting as if Rose wasn't there, which sounded great in theory but in practice was like trying to make casual conversation with a time bomb ticking under your chair.

Every Friday evening the core members of the Pittsburgh group gathered to sit in rapport at the "ashram"--a rundown house in the Squirrel Hill section where several members lived together. Rose's teaching emphasized the importance of rapport sessions--sitting silently in a circle of fellow seekers--as a highly effective way to sharpen the intuition and to draw strength and insight from the energy of the group. I looked forward to these sessions as a time when the tensions of the week might fade and open the way for the calm clarity that so effectively eluded me in my daily affairs.

In other situations, I perceived and interacted with people as if they were two-dimensional supporting characters in the drama of my life. It was difficult, if not impossible, for me to see any characteristics in them that were not merely an extension of my own worrisome personality. But in rapport I would sometimes look around the room and see, as if for the first time, that other people were complex individuals with thought patterns totally different from mine. Occasionally I would get a strong sense of what it felt like to be one of the other people in the room--really "stand in his moccasins," as Rose would say--and it was an extraordinary revelation.

Usually Rose was not present for these sessions, but consistent with his unpredictability he would sometimes make the two-hour drive to sit with us. On these occasions--when I would walk into the ashram and see him drinking tea in the tattered overstuffed chair that had come to be his when he was there--my heart would instantly race, because with Rose present there was always the possibility of magic.

Unlike our normal sittings, which were preceded by a brief inspirational reading, there was no definite starting point for the actual session when Rose presided. Eventually he would just stop talking and remain quiet. Sometimes the energy level was similar to sessions without him. More often, however, it would take on an other-worldly intensity. Rose had the capacity to focus and direct this energy to a particular person in the room--sometimes in an unseen manner, sometimes by physically pointing at the person. When he did, that person's head would be stopped for a moment, and he would have an experience of some kind. Rose said that he himself did not know whether he was actually directing the energy, or whether his pointing was merely a recognition or pre-awareness of where the energy was headed anyway.

Rose never pointed to me, and the energy never headed in my direction on its own. The closest I got was at a session where Rose raised his finger to point--he told us later--at Edward, one of the regulars at our sittings. At that instant, however, Perry, a newcomer at his first rapport meeting, happened to lean forward into the line of fire and got hit instead. A startled look of shock came over his face and he began crying. As I watched this happen I realized I was crying, too. Not out of empathy for Perry, but at the stark recognition of the falseness of my life that overcame me at that moment. I carried that recognition for several weeks afterwards and it colored virtually everything I did. I don't know what happened to Perry. He never came around again.

Not long after that incident I was driving aimlessly one evening, depressed and confused about the uncertainties and conflicts in my life, when, without making any conscious decision about it, I suddenly found myself on I-79 headed towards West Virginia. I laughed at myself but didn't think I was actually going to go see Rose, only that I-79 was as good a road as any to do your thinking on. Even when I got out of my car in the school parking lot across from his house, I wasn't sure I'd actually knock on his door. It was after eleven o'clock by then, and it had been so long since I really talked with Rose that he seemed like a stranger in my thoughts. I walked up the steep steps to his house and noticed that the kitchen light was still on. I stood for several minutes on the back porch, then knocked.

The door opened slowly and Rose peered out at me. "Hello," he said, as if expecting me. "The wandering Jew returns."

Then he left me to come in and close the door myself while he turned his attention back to a local news story he'd apparently been watching on the old black and white TV perched atop one of the refrigerators. Though seven or eight group members lived in the house, Rose was alone in the kitchen. He, too, would probably have gone to bed in a few minutes had I not dropped by. I closed the door and sat down at the table. Rose stood in front of the refrigerator and watched attentively as the local anchor told of a fugitive in Moundsville who had barricaded himself in a trailer with his estranged wife, refusing to surrender to the police who surrounded him.

"I knew this guy's dad," Rose remarked. "He wasn't intimidated by cops, either. They arrested him for dynamiting fish down by Stahl's Run once, and he..." Rose stopped talking as the newscaster read a bulletin he was handed. The suspect had just committed suicide after exchanging gunfire with police.

"These guys always commit suicide," Rose said with disgust, "right after the cops shoot 'em."

The weather report followed and Rose turned up the volume. "The garden needs rain bad," he said. We listened in silence as the forecaster predicted hot dry weather for the next five days. "Guess I'll have to get out to the farm tomorrow and do some watering," Rose commented, almost to himself.

When the sports came on my own interest picked up. The Pirates had started the day only a half-game behind and I wondered how they'd done. Rose walked over and turned off the television.

"Half the news these days is idiots hitting a ball and looking for an excuse to pat each other on the ass," he said. Catching my eye he added, "Hard to believe there's actually intelligent people out there who give a damn about whoís in first place."

I nodded in hypocritical agreement. He filled the tea kettle at the sink and put it on the stove.

"When I came back east from Seattle I stopped off in Cleveland for awhile. I was still too shaky from my Experience to come straight home. I checked into a room at a fleabag hotel in the Parma section and decided to head downtown, to see if the place had changed much since I was there in my twenties. Ever been to Cleveland?"

"No, I haven't."

"Well, I'm walking down by Lake Erie there, and all of a sudden I see this mass of humanity coming towards me. They're marching four or five abreast, with tremendous intensity in their faces, and nobody's saying a word.

"I was still very out-of-touch from my Experience and I thought to myself, there must have been a catastrophe of some kind. An earthquake. Maybe an atom bomb. So I stop somebody and ask him what happened. He looks at me like I'm nuts and keeps on walking. Same thing happened with the next couple of guys I stop. No answer. They just keep moving. Finally I stop a fellow who sees I'm sincere and he says, 'What do you mean, what happened? Nothing's happened.'

"'Where's everyone going, then?' I ask him. He just looks at me like I'm crazy and points to this big stadium a couple blocks away. 'To the ball game,' he says. ĎThe Indians are in town.'" Rose took two cups from the drain board at the sink and put a tea bag in each without asking me whether I wanted any or not.

"I couldn't believe it. I just stood there watching these stone-faced people flood past me, looking like they'd just seen death. And the only thing they've got on their minds is a ball game? All I could think was, 'My God! This is what I came back to?'"

The teapot whistled. Rose filled our cups then sat down across from me.

"So what's new in Pittsburgh?" he asked.

It was my opening to tell him what was on my mind. But even then, sitting across from him in his kitchen, I didn't really know what had brought me.

"Same old stuff, really. The meetings are going okay. I finished the bar exam. Itíll be a few months before I get the results, but in the meantime my work at the law office is keeping me pretty busy. Iím just trying to figure out what comes next, I guess."

He nodded his head. "Sometimes a person's mind is so cluttered up with details they don't take the time to think about the future. That's when you get into trouble. You've always got to be looking ahead for the next step."

"That's just it, Mister Rose. I don't know what's up ahead. I'm not sure I even know what I want to be up ahead. It's hard to move forward when you don't know where you want to end up."

"You have no choice. None of us has any choice. In spiritual matters or in ordinary life, you either grow or you die. There's no such thing as standing still. As soon as you quit moving, you start slipping into death.

"I'm facing the same situation with the group," he went on. "Everybody's comfortable with things the way they are. Nobody wants to rock the boat. But I keep telling everybody the zeitgeist is changing. The group has to change with it.

"You can't just put up a few posters and get a hundred people at a lecture anymore. The government's putting the squeeze on people, and these kids in college are thinking about how to earn a living when they get out, not about the meaning of life. Spirituality is going to be a luxury no one will think he can afford."

"What about the people in the group now?"

"Most of you will give up and return to the drama of life, but a few will stick with it. They'll be the spiritual giants of tomorrow. And whoever these survivors are, they're going to have to join together in a common direction, and to keep looking for their fellows.

"They're still out there--people looking for Truth. You just have to change your words to suit the times. Talk their language. The physical dimension is the only common reference we have. Any philosophy that can't be explained in the current language and paradigm of Earth won't be believed or understood."

"What are you going to do, Mister Rose?"

He smiled like a man without a care in the world. "Relax," he said, folding his hands behind his head, as if demonstrating the concept. "Relax, then work like hell when the light turns green."

It was an unexpected philosophy from a man who maintained that bull-headed determination was the key to spiritual growth.

"You can't force things if they're not meant to be," he continued. "When you try to make things happen, all you're doing is feeding the forces working against you. Everything that's ever happened in the group has been a miracle. The group itself is a miracle. For years I tried to get something going and nothing happened. I was beating my head against walls that wouldn't move. Then, suddenly, a door opened and I just walked through it."

"But you had something to do with that door opening, didn't you?"

"Yes and no. The years of fruitless struggle were necessary to build up a sufficient head of steam. But I didn't do anything. You quit and things happen. You let the door open. You stop the obstruction, you eliminate the ego. This is between-ness."

"Iíve never really understood between-ness," I said.

"You can't learn between-ness," he said. "But if you live the life it will come naturally to you."

"Come to you how?"

"When you finally realize that you're not doing anything in this life--that youíre incapable of doing anything--then you stumble into a state of mindlessness that proves to be creative, that's all."

He laughed at my puzzled expression. "Don't try to figure this out. You'll break something."

We stayed silent for a minute or so, then he unexpectedly continued to explain, as if he thought there really might be a way for me to understand through words.

"The ego is the single biggest obstruction to the achievement of anything," he said. "Between-ness is the act of acting without ego. You act, but you are not the actor. You do things, but you are not the doer--and you know you are not the doer. Itís the ability to hold the head at a dead standstill in order to effect certain changes. You desire the change, but you do not care if it comes to pass.

"Between-ness does not change the eternal fact. Itís a way of discovering the eternal fact. It occurs when you want what is right, independent of your own desires. There's a mechanism for holding your head in this half-way state, in between caring and not caring. You will it, then forget it--without fear of failure or hope of gain. Between-ness is the product of a lifetime of egoless-ness.

"Children know about this," he said. "I stayed at an orphanage for awhile when I was a boy to be near the Catholic school I was going to. I remember seeing this kid with his nose pressed against the window one day, saying, 'Snow, snow go away. Come again some other day.' The rest of us wanted it to snow, so I asked him why he didnít. He said, 'I want it to snow, too, but if you want something too much, it knows, and you wonít get it."

He looked at me intently. "Did you pick up on that? He said ĎIt knows.í That kid knew something."

I nodded and took a sip of tea.

"Between-ness isn't necessarily a spiritual thing," Rose went on. "It's a law, like gravity. It works on all kinds of mundane stuff. There was a period while I was married when I was pretty sick. I don't know what it was. One doctor said I had a mild stroke. I think I was just deflated from fighting with my wife all the time."

I laughed but Rose did not.

"Whatever it was, it made me constantly tired. I'd come home from painting and sit down in a chair and would hardly be able to get up. So I started going down to a beer joint in the evenings, just to get myself moving and out of the house. I didn't drink, but I'd have a soda and shoot the bull with my neighbors, just to pass the time and get my mind off my troubles.

"Anyway, there was always a poker game going on in the back room, and eventually I started sitting in. They loved it because I didn't know how to play and they took all my money. Just penny ante stuff, though, so I didn't mind. I figured it was as good a way to pass the time as any. Then they raised the stakes to a quarter. That's when I started practicing between-ness." We both laughed.

"I didn't care if I won or lost. In fact, if I had a cinch hand I'd tell everyone to fold. But I was winning every night just by calling people and never folding unless they had me beat showing. When I needed a card I'd think of it and the dealer would give it to me. I was amazed. It got to where I started calling for the cards I needed out loud. Crazy stuff like filling an inside straight. I'd say, ĎSteinie, give me a nine and jack.' And that's what he'd give me. It drove the other guys nuts.

"I didn't know exactly what I was doing, but I knew the reason it worked was because I didn't care and I never got greedy. After the game I'd take everybody to an all-night restaurant across the river in Bellaire and buy 'em a steak dinner with my winnings. If I'd started to care about the money, I'd have lost that point of grace and balance. See what I mean?

I nodded. I was beginning to understand the concept, at least intellectually.

"There's a tremendous power in between-ness," he went on. "When circumstances are right, things happen. When it's used in spiritual work I call it ultimate between-ness. Every true spiritual system expresses the same thing in one way or another--try like hell while at the same time surrendering to God."

We sat in silence for a few minutes. Once again he had answered questions I didn't know enough to ask. For the moment, at least, I stopped worrying about my future.

"I wonder what time it is," he said, turning to a small travel clock on the shelf behind him. "Wow, it's after two. Do you want to bunk here tonight?"

I quickly stammered the beginnings of an excuse, but the fear I suddenly felt must have showed on my face. Rose laughed uproariously.

"Hell, this place isn't so bad. Nobody's died here in weeks."

"It's not that," I protested weakly. "It's just that I'm supposed to meet with my bosses in the morning about my legal plans. I've got a ton of loose ends to tie up now that the bar exam is over."

"Well, drop down again when you get a chance. I'll be out of town this weekend. Maybe next weekend you can get free."

I promised to come down the following weekend and headed for the door, but for some reason he kept on talking. For several minutes he stood with me at the door telling me about an invitation he'd received to speak at an outdoor symposium in northwestern Pennsylvania the following Saturday. It was late and I was tired. I was mystified as to why he was bothering to tell me about it on my way out, or at all, for that matter.

"Well, I guess you better hit the road," he said finally, turning the porch light on for me. "Get those loose ends tied up and come on back down."

I carefully walked down the uneven stone steps then crossed the quiet street to my car. True, I would have made up an excuse if necessary to keep from staying in Rose's stark, crowded Benwood house. But I really did have a meeting the next morning with Don, the senior partner at the law firm where I worked, to discuss my future now that I had taken the bar. I enjoyed working there, and it provided a secure source of income, but I had decided it was time to move on and start my own practice. On my drive home from Benwood that night my head was alternately filled with thoughts of between-ness and with what I would say to Don in a few hours.

The next morning my meeting was over quickly. What's to discuss when somebody makes you an offer you can't refuse? Don proposed that I start my practice within their office. They would provide a secretary, take care of all my overhead, steer me some clients, even pay me a salary. In return I would work twenty hours a week for their firm. The rest of the time would be my own, to build my practice, or, as Don said with a wink, to stand on my head and meditate on my navel if I wanted to. We agreed that I would continue to work as an hourly employee through the summer, and begin this new arrangement on the first of September.

It was an arrangement so perfect I could not have imagined it in advance. Not only would it provide me both freedom and security, but evidently my bosses had somehow caught wind of my interest in esoteric matters and did not openly disapprove. In one swift stroke a nameless tension I'd been enduring but unable to identify was simultaneously unmasked and eradicated. I was intoxicated with a giddy rush of relief.

I couldn't wait to talk with Rose and tell him what had happened, to ask him if this was the kind of thing he was talking about the night before in the kitchen, if this was the result of some kind of accidental between-ness on my part--or his.

At the Thursday meeting I overheard Augie tell someone that Rose had summoned him to Benwood for the weekend, so I called Augie and we arranged to drive down together.

Maybe because I was doing the driving I did almost all the talking. I recounted for Augie in detail the conversation Rose and I had about between-ness, and the unbelievable job offer I got the very next day.

"It's just like you told me on our first ride down," I said, excitedly, "there's some kind of magic about the man."

Augie wasn't even pretending to be interested. I studied his face and saw something I had never seen in him before.

"You look exhausted," I said.

"I am." He continued staring straight ahead. "Two years setting up groups in Pittsburgh and Ohio. New groups last year in New England. This year, the traveling Intensives with Rose. I feel like a soldier who's marched across Europe. Then just as heís about to take his boots off, he gets called to headquarters for another mission."

"Another mission? Are you sure? When Rose and I were talking in the kitchen, he didn't know where to take the group. In fact, that's what started the whole conversation about between-ness."

"Well something at that symposium last weekend got him all fired up again, I guess. We'll hear all about it soon enough, whatever it is."

I had a hard time believing that anything at that symposium could have solved Rose's dilemma about the future direction of the group. That night at the door before I left Rose told me he wasn't even sure why he was going. He said it would be full of "piddlers," which is what he called people who dabbled in spirituality the way others watched birds or collected stamps. Heíd showed me a copy of the program: massage therapy, crystals, spirit guides, spiral staircases ascending into heaven--exactly the kind of spiritual pabulum Rose was always ridiculing. What's more, at sixty years of age, he would be one of the youngest people there, and he was always warning us to steer clear of people who'd lived too long to change. People whose lives were too complex or heads too hardened to undergo the radical and traumatic adjustments necessary to become.

But as Rose wrote in The Albigen Papers, even a sick chicken can lay a healthy egg. He was in high spirits as he recounted his experience at the symposium. True, the program was insipid, the crowd ancient, and the facilities primitive, but Rose was sure he had caught a glimpse of how the group could survive, maybe even prosper, during the coming spiritual recession.

"Hell, we could put on a much better program," Rose said excitedly. " You could pull ten speakers out of a beer joint and hear more wisdom than what they put out. And the farm has it all over where they put this show on--they were meeting under a circus tent. Sure, we're not going to get serious people at first, but we'll keep expanding our contacts, and eventually find a few people who are material for the esoteric core."

Whether truly inspired, or simply too worn out to resist Rose's enthusiasm, Augie began lacing up his marching boots again.

"Maybe we could put one on in a city first," he said. "Get the bugs out of the operation before we bring the show to the farm."

Rose nodded encouragingly, and Augie pressed ahead. "I know some people who would probably speak for nothing in Pittsburgh. Jim belongs to that Unitarian Church in Mount Lebanon. We could probably hold the first one at his church. And Dave here has some time on his hands now that he doesn't have the bar exam as an excuse to keep from doing group work."

Later, after six hours of uninterrupted caffeine and brainstorming, I felt I'd witnessed the birth of an empire. The only thing that worried me was how often my name came up in the conversation. After all, it was more or less a coincidence that I was there for the conversation at all. On the ride back home I explained to Augie that I had just over a month to make extensive preparations for my life's work, and that I had little or no time to give to this enterprise.

"No sweat, Attorney. All I need from you is a place to work. Just let me in to use your office at night, and I promise not to interfere with your spiritual corruption."

The first few evenings Augie was true to his word. About seven o'clock, I'd let him into the office, then do my legal work while he used the equipment and made phone calls from Don's thick leather chair. Then one night he asked me to look over a press release he'd written, and even though I knew better, I agreed. Within a few days I was typing letters, helping him work the phones, and lining up interviews for our speakers on local talk shows.

Each day the "Chautauquas," as Rose had named our symposia, took over more of my life. Augie and I moved into a small apartment his grandfather owned in Lawrenceville, so I was never far away when Augie wanted help. He thought nothing of working at the law office until two or three in the morning because he could sleep until noon, while I had to report back to the office by eight the next morning for a full dayís work.

After a month of this I was stretched pretty thin, but my spirits were high because I kept thinking about September, when I would begin my new arrangement with the law partners. I wasn't sure what, if anything, would be different from when I was just an hourly employee, but in my mind the new arrangement was of great importance because to me it marked the beginning of my legal career.

When that morning finally came I rejected my polyester ties and borrowed a silk one from Augie. I rode the bus to work instead of hitchhiking. In the building lobby I studied the office directory and wondered if I should have my name included on it. I whistled as I rode the elevator up to "our" law offices, and imagined the good-natured welcoming handshakes that might formally mark my transition from lackey to equal.

When I stepped into the reception area, however, the office manager gave me an icy stare that froze me in my tracks.

"Mr. Hartwell wants to see you," she said.

Don was waiting for me in the hall. "Let's go where we can talk," he said, and I followed him into his spacious corner office.

He motioned for me to take a seat on the couch, while he slid into the high backed leather chair behind his massive mahogany desk.

"I've always regarded this office as sort of a family," he said. "I've tried to treat everyone that way, and I think for the most part I've succeeded."

He paused as if waiting for me to agree. I felt as if I were being set up for something, and said nothing.

"And like a family, each member's actions reflects on everybody else. If somebody in the family does well, everyone profits. If somebody embarrasses themselves, everybody looks bad."

He reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a yellow pamphlet, which I immediately recognized as a flyer for the Pittsburgh Chautauqua. He pushed it across his desk towards me as if presenting evidence to a witness.

"I knew you'd been coming in here in the evenings working on something, and quite honestly I didn't care what you were doing. But I absolutely cannot allow this law office to be associated with whacko stuff like this!"

He stared at me, waiting for an apology, a confession, an obsequious explanation, perhaps. My face burned but I could think of nothing to say. He leaned back in his chair and waited a full minute before speaking again. When he did his tone was softer.

"I'm sorry Dave," he said, tapping the tips of his long narrow fingers together, "but you'll have to find another place to work."

I left the office building in a daze and stepped into the jostling pedestrian traffic of attorneys hustling down Grant Street on their way to the courthouse. Never before had I felt so much like an outsider in their world. They had jobs, lives, careers, futures--vectors of success that shot by me as I wandered aimlessly through the crowded city streets. I caught the first bus back to Lawrenceville and found a seat among the old men and women whose business in town could be completed by ten o'clock. Some held bags from pharmacies, others, government envelopes from the Social Security office.

I walked into the empty apartment and laid down on my bed, trying to come to grips with the reality of my situation. I had nothing to fall back on. I didn't have the legal contacts to land another job, or the money and know-how to open my own office on short notice. Immersed in self-pity, I ignored the ringing of the telephone, until I realized that it might be someone returning one of Augie's innumerable Chautauqua-related phone calls. I was surprised that the caller was still on the line after all of those rings, and even more surprised by the voice on the other end. It was Rose.

"Christ, I thought maybe the police had raided the place and you were both in jail," he said. Over the phone it was difficult to gauge his level of seriousness.

"No, nothing quite that dramatic," I said, though at that moment I'm not sure I could have felt much worse even if I were in jail.

"Augie's not here," I said. "He had an early meeting with a philosophy professor at Carnegie Mellon. He's trying to get him to bring his whole class to the Chautauqua."

"I wasn't looking for Augie, anyway," he said. "I was looking for you."

My legs felt like rubber. I sat down on the floor. Rose regarded long distance telephone calls as an unnecessary evil, an expensive indulgence to be used only in emergencies. For him to call me, and in the middle of the day no less, was almost unthinkable. I wondered just how bad a day this was going to be.

"You know," he began, in a reflective West Virginia drawl, "I just had an idea. And you don't have to give me an answer right away."

Now my heart was really pounding.

"I don't know how flexible your work situation is up there, but I think these Chautauquas have real potential. There's no limit to what we could do with them."

He proceeded to elaborate on his plans. It was clear as he talked that the blueprint for the Chautauquas had already been laid out in his mind, taking into account every detail, and its relationship to every other detail. Pittsburgh was just the beginning. From there we'd move on to Columbus, then Cleveland, Akron. After each Chautauqua we'd leave behind a study group that would hopefully attract those few serious people Rose was really after. Rose would get the guys on the farm to start building a pavilion--he already had the spot picked out--and by next summer we'd have a place to meet and contacts from the surrounding cities for the Chautauquas at the farm, which, as I recalled, was the original reason for the entire operation.

"Augie's a great idea man," Rose said. "But sometimes he's a little weak on the details. He needs someone to come along behind him and pick up the broken glass, and you two seem to get along okay.

"Now you know Iím reluctant to interfere in people's lives, but I was wondering if you thought it might be a good idea to take a year off before you start lawyering and help Augie out with this operation. That way you'd see a little of the country before you settle down to get fat and rich. Maybe we could season you up a bit."

I could no longer hold my excitement. "Mister Rose, it's perfect. I'll do it."

"Well, maybe you should think it over. Sleep on it and call me back."

"No, I'm sure this is what I want to do. You're not going to believe this but I just got fired about an hour ago. Today was supposed to be my first day of work, and when I walked into the office they..."

"Okay, well, I don't want to give any more money to these thieves at the phone company than I have to," he said. "Maybe you and Augie can come on down this weekend and we'll talk about it."

RichardRose.org Home    |    Table of Contents    |    Next Chapter