Friday, February 01, 2008

Chapter 26 - The Root of All Evil

A church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright's son Lloyd

In the end, Maria Escalante had grown quite rich. Having spent most of her life without money she did not feel comfortable spending on herself and so she began to make donations. A lot of money went to the obvious charities most of it, she used to improve the various institutions she had worked for or been involved with throughout her life. For instance, a large chunk went to the school district where she had been a bus driver. There were new air conditioned busses, new desks, new chairs, musical instruments, and other things that perhaps would make going to school a little more exciting for the children.

She also donated, anonymously, to the Stirring Water Christian Fellowship enough money for them to get their own building with a sanctuary and a banquet hall, a nursery, sound system and overhead projectors. Even after that, enough funds were left over to pay for mission trips to the major gambling centers of the country and major starvation centers of the world.

While Stirring Water's official stance on their sudden financial abundance was that the Lord was rewarding the faithful, James McInnis, the church treasurer had seen the signed check and was suspicious as to why a woman famous for portraying the woman who invented prostitution was giving vast amounts of money to a small charismatic church. At the time, James was fairly young. He had married into the Stirring Water administrative structure two years after the donation had been received, and therefore had not been present when Maria used to attend church services,

The issue was never formally discussed, but the church had little trouble convincing itself that that the Maria Escalante who pretended to have the Holy Spirit so many years ago could not possibly be the same Maria Escalante who was the second Persephone. The one or two times someone mentioned that the famous Ms. Escalante seemed familiar, a Church elder would put his or her hand on the mentioner's shoulder, look him or her in the eye and say, "Yes, isn't that strange."

When the check first arrived in the mail, Mrs. Pole, the woman who sorted the mail, answered the phones, and vacuumed the worship area, was alarmed. She took the check right up to Pastor Ralph, who was laying hands on a young teenager who had shown up at a youth group basketball match the previous weekend. Mrs. Pole waited patiently in the doorway until the boy, his face wet with tears, was lead out into the hallway.

"See you on Sunday Moose," Pastor Ralph said to the boy. "And see if you can't get your mother to come along too."

Mrs. Pole shoved the young Pastor into the tiny prayer cubicle and held the check out in front of him. "Is someone playing a joke on us?" she asked.

"Huh," went Pastor Ralph. "Let's go find out."

Of course it was not a joke. An emergency elder's meeting was held that evening and the next morning the check was cashed. The following Sunday, after Moose and his mother demonstrated the power of the holy spirit, Pastor Ralph delivered a well organized and persuasive sermon, announcing the miracle of the mysterious church benefactor and outlining the plans for using the money with Christian responsibility.

It should be noted that a great deal of Christian responsibility was indeed exercised with Maria's donation. No one tried to use the money for frivolous personal gain. Mrs. Pole was given a much deserved raise. Some people in financial need were given appropriate assistance and of course the Church itself was improved in the ways already mentioned.

So for the two years before James McInnis found the photocopy of Maria's Check in the back of the file cabinet, no one had ever thought to question Stirring Water's miraculous windfall. James went on a secret investigation as to why Maria Escalante would give money to his church. She was known to be a philanthropist but she had a large foundation for such things and a personal check for such a large sum to such a specific little church could not have been given arbitrarily. James had heard rumors that Maria Escalante had lived in town for a brief period and upon further research was able to discover that fifteen years ago she had occupied a small house a few blocks from the church's original location and that the house had burned down.

Mrs. Pole said she remembered something about someone named Maria attending a few services in the early days but that she could not have been the Maria Escalante. It was Pastor Ralph who finally broke down and told the whole story to James. James was shocked at first, but Pastor Ralph was able to calm him down by explaining that the church's actions had been biblically supported and even pointed out the corresponding passages. "I see," James said, and then asked if he would be able to share about fiscal stewardship the forthcoming Sunday. "Not this Sunday, but the next," was Pastor Ralph's reply.

James McInnis' sermon two Sundays later was about a lot more than fiscal stewardship. In fact the focus was on hypocrisy and the terrible injustice that was done by the church to a then not-famous Maria Escalante. The sermon was quite long and went down unchallenged, thanks mostly to Pastor Ralph, who made a discreet peace sign to a furious elder.

At the end of the week a tape of the sermon and a long letter signed by Pastor Ralph and the Elders of Stirring Water Christian Church (that now included James McInnis, replacing one of the two elders who felt it best to find new congregations) apologizing, asking sincerely for Maria's forgiveness and an invitation to become and official member if she so desired.

Maria wrote back promptly, politely thanking the church for its concern and assuring them that she had never felt they had done her wrong. She also thanked them for the invitation but said she had grown quite fond of the services at the Anglican Cathedral, may God bless them all.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chapter 25 - Finance

a pneumatic door closer

The story of how the son of a television programmer and a librarian was able to finance a play like Persephone (although there is, of course, no play like Persephone) can be classified under fables about the Modern American Dream. Not the Classic American Dream where Horatio Alger leaves the farm to sell lemonade on a street corner in New York and uses his profits to invest in the production of his invention of the pneumatic device that keeps screen doors from slamming, but the Modern American Dream where the son of a television programmer and a librarian approaches an old man who made several billion dollars on his invention of the pneumatic screen door closer and convinces him to finance a ludicrously ambitious theatre project that would not even start performances for five years.

There are a number of occasions when Oliver Fagin Thomas has been reported to be visibly nervous but the most detailed account of this phenomenon comes from the section of Vincent Regula's memoir "Hold the Door for Me" that describes the day Oliver first approached him to finance Persephone. As the book is out of print and extremely difficult to come by at the time of this writing I have included an excerpt.

"I happened to be spending the day in my bathrobe. This was quite a nice bathrobe, green with a soft furry inside. I've never been able to find another like that one. I wasn't really thinking about my attire when I answered the door, but the young man who was standing there looked shocked. "I didn't wake you, did I?" I distinctly remember him saying that. He looked like his whole world view would have been invalidated had I said yes. I might have actually been taking a nap, I don't remember that but I know I just chuckled and shook my head and invited him in. This fellow had something about him that won my sympathy. He seemed nervous, but it was an honest nervousness, no attempts to pretend that he wasn't feeling what he was feeling. That's a rare thing to come across in a young man, and rare in anything but the best of old men, in women this can be annoying, there's a threshold of politeness past which the expressions of one’s feelings just makes those around you uncomfortable.

I thought this young man was doing door to door evangelism. He looked Mormon to me, but they always come in pairs. When I let him in I decided that I'd listen to what he had to say, argue with him to make sure he was reasonable and send him on his way. I sat him down in the sitting room. I used to keep a nice set of oversized leather chairs in there at the time. Very comfortable; good for talking. I offered him coffee, and he declined. This brought the Mormon issue back to my mind. To make sure, I offered tea and he accepted without asking about caffeine. That settled the Mormon question right there.

He told me that his name was Thomas. Still thinking that he was at my house for evangelistic purposes I assumed Thomas was his first name, had I realized he was there on business I would have known he meant his last. Still he didn't correct me when I called him Tom. "What is it you're here for, Tom?" I asked.

"Money." he replied. That was a lot blunter than I expected. I remember thinking whatever church he was peddling this was the only one I'd ever seen that was honest about its number one priority. He must have sensed my shock because he started to look ashamed.

"Tom," I told him, maybe too matter-of-factly, "I'm Jewish." The kid got pale in a way you might get pale when you think someone is going to tell you that he subscribes to a harmful stereotype about himself. "And while I'm all for religious freedom." After that he just looked about as confused as a mule in a genetics class. "Hell," I said, "I've always been open to hear someone pitch an idea about how the world works, but truth is I'm very fond of being a Jew and I'm not about to go writing checks to someone else's church."

"Church?" he said. I'll never forget the way he said that.

"Yeah, what are you? JW? You're not Mormon, I figured that out. You look too intelligent to be a scientologist and I'm fairly sure they don't go door to door. I give up." He told me weakly that his father was Episcopalian. I laughed; he sort of forced a smirk. "You're not here evangelizing, are you?" A person always gets a pleasant feeling when things start to make sense. I think our friend Tom got a pretty good sensation because he snapped right back into the role of healthy young man.

"No. Of course not. I want you to finance a play." I laughed even harder. He, of course, did not. "If this was any other play," he told me plainly. "I'd laugh right with you. There are plays that have cost a great deal of money and plays that have made a great deal of money. The play I am proposing is going to cost more money than any play before, but it's going to make more money than any company has ever made."

I've never been quite sure why Oliver Fagin Thomas chose me to be his financial backer. I've never achieved anything that anyone would call prominence. I was just an engineer who loved being an engineer. I once stumbled across a good idea and ended up with a few banks keeping records with awfully high numbers next to my name. I never knew what to do with all of that money. I just let it sit and accumulate--Pretended that it wasn't even there for the most part except to buy a nice bathrobe or sitting room chair on occasion.

I'm not sure why I felt so generous to Oliver. He was not the first person to ask for money but I had never given in before. Too afraid of giving anything to the wrong person I suppose. Not that I was worried about losing my fortune, but more because I didn't want to be scammed. I never once thought that Oliver Fagin Thomas was trying to pull one over on me. He was too honest, too confident for me to question.

That afternoon we went together to visit my lawyer. We set up Persephonia Inc. right then. I gave Oliver pretty much everything. I'm proud of that decision. The money certainly went to good use."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Chapter 24 - The Return

Michigan Wines

Eleanor Thomas had been gone for twenty-one years when she returned for the opening night of Persephone. She packed enough clothes for the weekend into a carpet bag that had been passed down from woman to woman in her family since the civil war. She read Mark Twain on the flight over, and took a cab directly to the New Globe. She sat quietly through the play, after which she checked in to a moderately priced hotel and went to sleep. The next morning she woke up early, took the subway and made a surprise visit to an elderly aunt, taking her out to lunch before heading back to the airport and taking a plane back to Moscow. Oliver knew nothing about the trip until he received a letter in a peach envelope, attached to a case of fine vodkas.

Dear Oliver

I am writing to congratulate you on your recent successes. But along with these congratulations, which I assure you are most genuine and heartfelt, I regret I must also offer you a confession. My declaration of guilt is not based just on the fame and reputation of you and your work but on the achievement itself. To speak plainly I have seen the work. I apologize for not informing you and apologize even more for not visiting you while I was there, but I know how such things are and I cannot, in good conscience accept any credit for your achievement. Anytime a mother is brought into focus in a situation like this, she is invariably congratulated. I could not bear to be congratulated. You and I both know I deserve no congratulations. I have never put this into words before but I hope you have taken for granted the considerable guilt I keep in regard to your upbringing. I, in my infinite selfishness made far too many decisions that were detrimental to you. That you have become what I at one time most hoped for you despite all of my many many mistakes is to me only more evidence that I have nothing to do with the way you turned out. Still, I want you to know that I love you and I hope you have lots of people in your life who are much better at loving you than I am.

Your Mother.


Oliver sent his reply in a lime green envelope attached to a sample case of Michigan Wines.

Dear Mother

I know.

Your Son,


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Chapter 23 - The Chinese Characters for 'Dialogue'

Apparently the Chinese Characters for "dialogue"

Sally had spent the whole night practicing writing the Chinese character for dialogue. Not out of some desire to ingratiate herself with her teacher, but first with a genuine curiosity and soon after with intense fascination. Drawing the strange characters was not easy, even with her extensive calligraphy tools. She tried writing them over and over again, in pen, in chalk in finger paint. Her bedroom floor was covered with squiggles and boxes, few of which, to her, bore a satisfactory resemblance to what she was trying to create.

Here parents were concerned. To avoid any complications she told them that she was volunteering at an art program that taught post modern theory to Kindergarteners as a cover for her college career. She knew they would not mind her taking college courses, but they would never stand for the fake I.D., and enrolling in a college the correct way was far too inefficient.

What concerned them was the impenetrable distractedness she was displaying that evening. She kept staring at the wall, tracing strange shapes with her eyes. Food would fall off of her fork, which she would put, empty, into her mouth without seeming to notice. They had raised two teenagers before her, and had once been fairly normal teenagers themselves, they knew that there were two possibilities. She was either on drugs, or worse, in love.

But Mr. and Mrs. Pope were not ones to interfere with their children's lives based on circumstantial evidence so they let the matter go, with the intention of watching Sally's behavior a little more closely.

Sally convinced a maintenance woman to let her in to the classroom an hour early. She left the lights off, she wanted to feel the writing, and the more she could see what her hands were doing the harder it was to write. Her first attempt would have satisfied most Chinese people as adequate, Mr. Thomas certainly wouldn't have noticed that some of her angles were too steep and the proportion of the boxes in the second character was off, he had never seen "dialogue" written in Chinese before. He thought there would be one symbol and not four. Regardless, Sally felt that the attempt wasn't good enough, and, when she could still see the ghost of her failed attempt, unexorcised by the eraser she went to the woman's rest room for some wet paper towel.

Her third attempt satisfied her as a faithful representation of what she had only seen in one book and on a computer screen. No one who saw he writing knew that such perfection, such fantastic emotional expression in Chinese calligraphy, albeit in the uncouth medium of chalk would have made her a very famous person in China. The art form Sally had been searching for her whole life could well have been Chinese calligraphy, and that the circle with eyelashes that haunted her dreams was most likely the character jรบ symbolizing a bundle of wheat. This would seem tragic, had she not ended up being Oliver Fagin Thomas' most trusted assistant, and one of the very small number of people who could claim to have seen him naked.

Oliver had over the course of his life, three people whom he considered his assistants. The first was Langley Chelmsford, who in early elementary school was often seen on the playground with Oliver behind the large baseball backstop, writing things hurriedly in a notepad. The notepad was lost unfortunately, in a fire set by Langley after hearing that Oliver was leaving for Moscow. The fire also consumed several photographs, drawings and a set of miniature green plastic soldiers that were added just for the thrill. The second was the Pyotr, the doorman at the hotel in Moscow. This was really more of an honorary position based on the loyalty he demonstrated in the whole matter with the cigarettes, though Oliver has said that he would have been very useful if he didn't have other duties to occupy him. Sally Pope was by far the longest and most successful of the three.

The first time Sally spoke to Oliver, he was in dire need of an assistant. At this point the last details of the final phase of Persephone's composition was taking place and Oliver found he was increasingly using his spare attention span to analyze the work that his primary attention span was doing. He grew absent minded and unfocused while experiencing a profound entropy in all of his environments.

Oliver was criticizing his criticism of some particularly intricate dialogue when Sally came to his office to ask him a question. He looked up when she came in, his eyes followed her reflexively. She sat down without being invited and began talking. He instinctively nodded although his consciousness was actually putting off the task of observing anything outside of his own mind in a constant unthought, 'just a minute.'

His mental dilemma was resolved at the same time she finished talking. Oliver's external processing functions returned to him. A vaguely familiar, slightly pretty but awfully young, girl was sitting in front of him. He had the feeling she had just told him something very important and he had no idea what. He felt awful.

"Can you help me?" he asked. He did not know that was the exact question she had just asked of him. She thought he was mocking her.

"Is it inappropriate to ask?"

"I don't know," his reply was thoughtful he was still a bit stunned. "I suppose the age difference makes it a little bit questionable but I don't have any questionable intentions."

"Neither do I." she said. "No questionable intentions on my end."

"Do you cook?" he asked.

"I can follow a recipe."

"How's your memory? Can you organize a mess?"

"My memory is strong and I have an excellent sense of design."

"Will you come to my apartment tonight?" he asked, betraying a modicum of shyness.

"Yes," she said. "I will."

She did go to his apartment that night and continued to do so three nights a week and Saturday afternoons until she graduated from high school, after which she moved into a small wing of Oliver's estate. By then Oliver was more capable of taking care of himself but Sally's duties had broadened. She took on a large portion of the responsibility of planning and coordinating the details of the Persephonic empire. Perhaps they were too heavy for an eighteen year old girl who never really got a chance to experience life, but she was well paid.

Even years later, Sally's most important responsibility was that of being sure that Oliver woke up on time. A theory exists that Oliver's body needed extra sleep to compensate for having twice as many thoughts as a normal person. Although the exact mechanisms of sleep are not understood, even today, a good deal of evidence supports the theory that sleep plays a role in the storing and organizing new bits of memory formed during the day. Oliver was not an ideal subject to study for this theory, however because he was very busy and sleeping in would be a major disaster. None of this, however, changes the fact that, Oliver Fagin Thomas was very hard to wake up in the morning.

For the first few months, Sally needed between an hour and an hour and a half to complete the task. Conventional methods didn't work. Any kind of loud noise or jarring action would make Oliver retreat into an even deeper state of unconsciousness. They day she tried, out of frustration, to use ice water he curled up into a ball and refused to respond to any stimulus until the late afternoon.

Eventually, Sally discovered that the way to draw Oliver out of sleep was to take advantage of his innate curiosity. One of the first successful methods involved her simply sanding just outside of his bedroom door and whispering "you'll never guess my secret." After two days, however the subconscious Oliver had learned not to trust Sally concerning the subject of secrets and Sally had to try other methods. Eventually Sally found she could play a recording of someone reading a interesting book and slowly decrease the volume. If she did this at the correct rate, Oliver would be sitting up in bed with a hand cupped to his ear after a few minutes. This meant that she was always searching for new recordings that were both interesting and new to Oliver because anything not absolutely fresh would bore him and draw him in deeper. Anything, that is except the works of Dostoevsky which she found she could repeat every year or so, always with excellent results.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chapter 22 - The Third Chance

The Blue Canoe Saloon is much better than this.

Many of the people who are significant in the development of Persephone were present at the opening of the Blue Canoe Saloon. This is not really a coincidence as artists have come together in groups throughout history, especially in the history of New York City.

The nightclub was opened by a young interior designer named Francis DeLisle who had earned fleeting notoriety as a trendy interior designer. His particular style was to make a space seem grandmotherly. He was into brick-a-brack, ribbon candy and crocheted afghans. He put doilies on wing chairs and dusty ceramic lamps on end tables. He did all of this, not as a matter of personal taste but because he knew the style would be popular and would make him enough money to complete his dream of owning and designing a night club.

The Blue Canoe Saloon was an experiment in sticking to the strictest of design concepts. First of all everything was a shade of blue or yellow. No light was left unfiltered so everything had a green hue that changed in value depending on from which angle it was viewed.

Oliver was at the opening because Francis considered him a friend. Langley Chelmsford was there because he was at the time a much sought-after bartender. Cassandra Calo stopped by because of the event’s prestige, this is also why she didn't remember attending. She also attended disguise, something she did often and very well. This time she was dressed, rather unattractively in an expensive black and white polka dot designer two-piece, a false nose and a curly black wig. She went straight for the dance floor where she attracted as dance partners the less affluent, more ambitious single men, most of whom danced very well.

Oliver, who at that stage preferred to find hiding places at parties where he could observe unnoticed, and who all throughout his life drank far too much at social gatherings, found his way onto the catwalk from which the club's lights were hung and, securely fastened with a stage electrician's harness, lay face down next to the base of the largest disco ball and sipped scotch from his favorite hip flask as he watched people socialize.

Langley, who expected Oliver to be there but had not seen him arrive, spent the whole party looking over his shoulder whenever someone came in through the main entrance. He had a project he wanted to pitch to Oliver and had pilfered a fifth of twenty-five year old single malt to encourage acceptance. As it went, he ended up splitting the bottle with a business card designer who was a natural blond and whom Langley would immortalize in a book of poetry.

Oliver undoubtedly saw both Langley and Cassandra from his vantage point, and we can be almost certain that he recognized them both. Cassandra, though she was an actor of both great breadth and depth, was someone who worked within a style and Oliver by that time must have known that style better than his own genitals, and Langley Chelmsford has never gone unnoticed by anyone, anywhere.

Oliver must have had a reason for not connecting with them that night, and this is most likely not the same reason that he avoided Cassandra at the airport. The play was finished, the atmosphere was perfect, Oliver, Cassandra and Langley were all together in jovial creative moods. Persephone must have been trying to chisel her way out of Oliver's skull but for some reason, Oliver refused to let her out. The night of the opening of the Blue Canoe Saloon is extremely important and worthy of intense study because, besides being a lovely evening with fine music, excellent drink and the good time had by all, that night provides only evidence we have that Oliver Fagin Thomas ever doubted his own ability.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Chapter 21 - The Second Chance

Children Interested in the Arts

The second time Oliver and Cassandra's positions intersected, Oliver was nineteen and employed as a counselor at Painted Rock Summer Camp for Children Interested in the Arts.

Age nineteen was the height of Oliver's attractiveness, his high school years had been too greasy and ungainly and after college he was always a bit too fleshy to be considered anything more than pleasant looking. At nineteen, however, in the summer Oliver was sun-bleached, a bit shaggy, an acting coach and swimming instructor, and consequently a person quite often whispered about, although he seemed unaware of this.

Cassandra Calo was quite aware of Oliver however, the night she performed at the camp. She was about to perform the role of Emilia in the last scene of Othello, but first she made a speech of her own writing.

"They asked me to come here to give you some tips on acting. I avoided laughing out loud (being an actor, I am able to control all of my natural reflexes) and I said yes. I will tell you now that there are no tips on acting. Acting is something that is impossible to teach, and impossible to learn from someone else. You probably all came to this camp expecting to learn how to act. I hope you all succeed, but understand that learning how to act is not like learning how to do long division or how to fix a car. Learning to act is more like learning how to walk; no one taught that to you. Maybe your parents held you by the wrists, but you figured out how to take those first steps on your own. That is all I am going to say, for the rest of the evening I will perform. Observe well so you will at least be able to recognize good acting if you ever see it again."

And then she went on to perform the scene fifteen times, each with a difference subtle nuance. Everyone at the camp said the lesson was the most educational experience of their lives. Everyone, that is, except Oliver, who was merely happy to find that all of his expectations of Cassandra's abilities were correct.

For Cassandra however, her superb focus and concentration were tested that evening. She had endured countless distractions in previous performances, coughing fits, telephones ringing, set pieces catching fire, even stage rushes, but that night she could not help but be distracted from the young man staring at her from the back of the theatre.

She had been stared at before of course, some would say that the only important part of acting is being able to handle being stared at, but something about the way Oliver was staring at her was different. He was studying her. Nobody had ever studied Cassandra Calo before, reviewed perhaps, observed certainly, but never studied. Cassandra could not understand what was going on and she was distracted, not completely, but there were a few upper levels of her consciousness that were focused on Oliver and his eyes. Oliver noticed this, but forgave her, she would learn in time.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chapter 20 - The First Chance

Underground Music

Oliver Fagin Thomas found himself within touching distance of Cassandra Calo on three occasions between first seeing her play Nancy in Oliver! and selecting her to be the first Persephone fourteen years later. Oliver was fully aware of Cassandra and her talents on each of these chance encounters, while she knew nothing about him. In fact, Cassandra has openly denied ever having been to the Blue Canoe Saloon, but there are at least two existing photographs that prove her wrong.

But the Blue Canoe Saloon was the third meeting, it is best to start with the first. The first time Oliver saw Cassandra in public he was twelve years old, and both of his attention spans were concentrating on other matters. He was in an airport, alone, as the cheapest flight to Moscow left during business hours at a time that was particularly busy for Oliver's father. John Thomas did as much as possible to make up for not being present at the moment of Oliver's actual departure. They had a raucous two-man party the night before, with take out Mexican food, a clip-reel of Oliver's favorite moments in the history of television, and a full glass of red wine for each of them. "Children drink wine in Europe," his father told him. "Russia has a history of not being able to decide if it is European or not, and just in case, you should try some so you'll know whether to say yes or not." Oliver enjoyed the wine, and would enjoy wine for the rest of his life.

Still, when the next day came, Oliver came to work with his father and sat in the lobby with his luggage until one of the studio's more responsible production assistants took Oliver and his bags to the airport.

Dan Krahulik, twenty years old at the time, was the Labrador retriever or young men. He was short, blond, had a bit of an underage beer gut and not really very intelligent but was extremely friendly. Oliver's happiness in seeing him temporarily overwhelmed his fear of the future and grief for the things he was leaving behind.

Dan hoisted the over-stuffed duffle bag onto his shoulder and it bumped against the back of his shins as he picked up the suitcase. Oliver carried his own knapsack and followed him into the large passenger van owned by the studio.

Riding in the front seat of the van, Oliver suddenly felt like he had grown older, this was one of the first times he had been in a vehicle without a real adult, Dan, certainly not a teenager, was not a real adult either. Perhaps part of the feeling came being higher than the other cars; mostly it was the music that Dan was playing. Oliver had been exposed to all kinds of music. He knew more about classical music than most adults and just as much about every top 40 popular song released since 1940. This music was neither, it was underground. Music imitating this stuff would be top 40 three years later but now it was undiscovered and raw. The 'fucks' were not bleeped out, but said with a recklessness that made them seem more honest than obscene. Oliver pretended to enjoy and understand this new form of cultural expression but in truth he was scared by how much it fascinated him.

This fascination, this newly discovered notion of the underground was still occupying Oliver's attentions in the airport. Certainly Oliver was experiencing many unpleasant emotional stresses at that time, fear of getting into a machine and flying over the ocean, terror of living in a new county, meeting his mother with whom he had never had a conversation in person, grief for leaving his father, but Oliver knew that he had just realized something very important; something that would change his life far more than this plane trip. Dr. Partee would probably say that this new idea seemed so attractive because it offered Oliver a chance to escape the horrible anxieties facing him, and that is an idea that must certainly contain some truth, but however psychologically complex the situation, a short ride in a white passenger van with no real adults, might have been one of the more important cultural events in the history of cultural events.

So, when Oliver found himself sitting directly across from Cassandra Calo in the airport waiting room, he took this as a sign that these new ideas he felt gestating in his mind's womb should cause him to rethink the entire play and the character of Persephone in particular. This is not to say that Oliver was superstitious, but instead that Oliver understood superstition. He had come to realize, perhaps prematurely that people need drama, and that if they want something to have meaning they will give meaning to something that is meaningless, they will find a mystery plot in the gasoline prices, a romance in the stock market, and a coincidence to be a sign from God. If Oliver was going to write the most popular play ever written, he was going to have to find the drama in its creation.

Oliver recognized Cassandra immediately; he knew that he was looking at the woman who would be his star actress twelve years in the future. He also knew that he had to pretend that she was only a stranger, because to make contact this early would ruin everything. So on this particular afternoon, Oliver could only watch Dan Krahulik flirt successfully with the future most famous woman in the world, while in his mind he started over from scratch.