"Look," she said, "the Northern Lights." They were riding atop the train. Her wings were spread to catch the wind. She was clearly happy, rising on tiptoes, almost but not quite lifting off.
"From here?" he said, skeptical. "Really?" There being no moon, he was invisible.
"Look!" she insisted. When she did that, you saw what she sent you.
Turning, looking up, and there they were. "Damn," he said. "I love when you do that."
She said: "A cloud appears above your head."
He had to cop. "A beam of light comes shining down on you."
"A cloud of unknowing," she said.
"Right," he said. "What's for breakfast?"
"I hate you," she said. Then sweeping a wing across the sky, "dawn is for breakfast," she said. And just like that it was day.
They were in the dining car now. "We didn't sleep at all," he said. "I'm wasted."
"Here," she said, holding out three bright colored capsules, "take these."
"What are they?" he asked.
"Echinacea and vitamin C."
"They don't look like Echinacea and vitamin C," he said. "They look illegal."
"Possession is nine-tenths of the law," she said.
He washed them down with ice-cold orange juice. Soon he felt better. Soon after that he felt fantastic! "I love Echinacea," he said.
"And vitamin C," she said, "with Rose Hips."
"Oh, here comes the food," he said. "Except now I'm not hungry."
"That's OK," she said, arranging all the plates in front of her. "I'll eat, you talk."
"Well," he said, "it is the next chapter, and you said you'd explain all about Ascona and why we're going there. But you get sidetracked so easily, you're so flighty. And anyway, I had a dream. I was speaking Sanskrit and couldn't speak anything else. I could see what was going on around me. The others were stunned. Carl Jung was there, very interested. A day passed, two days. I shed my clothes and, nearly naked, took up residence on the lakeshore in the manner of an Indian ascetic. I ate nothing but a handful of rice and didn't sleep, sort of like now. I was reminded of that naga who ate only rice and scarcely slept, yet had a perfect physique." He stopped and shook his head. "A naga? What the fuck's a naga?" he asked himself. "You know, I used to think every little thing I did was crazy. But now I think the karma cops are coming after you."
"Moi?" she said in mock surprise.
"No, I guess that was part of the dream," he said. "I think."
"Well," she said, "you're on a roll. Don't stop now."
"Jung was in there, I think, because it was at an Eranos conference. Those were these things they had in Ascona after its original heyday. And people like Mircea Eliade came, and Jakob Wilhelm Hauer, who did this presentation about Kundalini Yoga, and later became a a bigtime Nazi and founded the German Christian Church, which sounds like it was THE German Christian church, but it wasn't. It was some kind of blood-and-soil-throw-the-Jew-down-the-well arrangement. That's where Borat got the idea for the number he does in that Texas roadhouse and gets all those dumbfuck rednecks to sing along."
"Uh huh," she said. "Interesting."
"But like I said," he said, "that was later. The reason all those posers came in the first place was because of all the people who'd already gone there and mixed it up. Like Lenin and Trotsky and Bakunin and Kropotkin and Herman Hesse and Stefan George and Rudolf Steiner and Mary Wigman and Isadora Duncan and Hans Arp and Paul Klee and Emil Jennings and Emil Ludwig and Erich-Maria Remarque and Otto Gross and like that. Even Annie Besant and Jiddu Krishnamurti came into it somehow, and then Olga Froebe-Kapteyn and Alice Bailey had a big set-to about who was going to get control of Lake Maggiore
and Monte Verità, which are either right near Ascona or synonymous with it, and it seems Olga won by getting Heinrich Zimmer to come and talk about Hindoo gods and shit."
"When we get to Locarno," she said, "I wonder if we could rent a Stutz Bearcat?"
"What?" he said. "Is that some kind of exotic animal?"
"It's an exotic car. They're positively Wagnerian."
"That would fit right in," he said.
"With Wotan," she said. "And all those other Northern Lights."
"Hyperborea," he said.
"Didn't Hesse want to be buried there?"
"Where?" he said. "At the North Pole?"
"No," she said, "in Ascona. You left that part out."
"I don't know that part."
"Better bone up, Buster."
"You're giving me that look again," he said. She was impossibly beautiful. Was he coming down? He reached out a hand to touch her face.
"Find me," she said, and slowly disappeared.