Black Widows & Satanists

  • I visit my friend, Nicole, at her condo. It's a one-story unit with a private walled-in patio out front. I enter the space through the front gate and approach the front door. After knocking, Nicole appears and invites me in. She tells me how she has a strange sore on her foot and how she'd just returned from the doctor, who told her it was something simple and obvious. She wonders aloud why her own mother couldn't identify it after examining it for an hour. We walk outside onto the patio and Nicole sits on the ground near the door, under the fronds of a large potted plant. I'm standing a few feet away and notice a huge copper-colored spider sitting in the plant a few inches from Nicole's head. Despite the color, I exclaim that there's a black widow. Nicole looks curiously at the spider but makes no move to distance herself. Then I notice an identical spider on another part of the plant behind Nicole's head. I point it out and she is still nonchalant. I, on the other hand, am quite troubled by the sight and retreat a few meters away--though I praise Nicole's courage. She tells me they're "interesting".

  • I'm standing on a patch of city greenbelt in downtown Santa Cruz. An impromptu parade or rally is in progress and I watch the many faces go by. Distinct groups are easy to pick out because the members all dress very similarly. I see Hari Krishnas, hippies, big dudes in camouflage and a host of other sights. The last group to pass catches my interest for some reason. They all wear shiny capes in a dark-reddish salmon color. As the last member walks by I approach and ask him what his group is. He pauses for a while and a strange smile crawls onto his face. He looks familiar--like an esoteric-minded guy I met through the Art of Living course. He confesses wryly that they're Satanists. I smile back as I wonder about the capes--which gives me an idea. "Does Satan give you the gift of flight?" He tells me no, that the capes are just for show. It's my turn to smile wryly as I lift both feet off the ground and levitate gently in front of him. He's less surprised than I thought he'd be so I begin to swing to and fro in space. After a while he leaves to rejoin the march.