"Jesus, how long have we been here?" she asked.
"You talkin' to me?"
"You see anyone else around here?"
"I think it's been damn near a year."
"Last thing I remember, I was getting up in that old guy's face. Rilke, was it? Hesse?"
"He confuses them. Both were here at some point, I think."
"In the city of wonder, right. Now it's all coming back to me. Something about a rig, no more gas in it. What the hell?"
"Too close for comfort. You spooked him with that one."
"I spooked him? I never asked to be here in the first place."
"That's just it. He's got so many characters going on, he gets mixed up."
"Isn't it supposed to be some kind of novel? Some novels have dozens of characters and their authors don't get 'mixed up.' What kind of lame defense is that?"
"He thinks this is different."
"How the fuck do you know?"
"We talked about it."
"What? You talk to him? When was this?"
"Just a while ago. He woke up from a dream where there was this German Shepherd in bed with him. But not like you're thinking. It was this really young, super friendly dog. It thought they'd been in Vietnam together."
"The dog? But he was never in Vietnam."
"I know. That's why he woke up sort of confused. Because instead of the dog, there was his cat. Like his real cat. Down at his feet. And he was saying, 'Wow, Kitty, I was dreaming about this dog being in bed with me.' And he wondered too, if that wasn't a little weird. But it wasn't sexual or anything. He started thinking Vietnam was significant, though. You know, the whole PTSD thing."
"It was that New York Times piece, wasn't it?"
"That blowout yesterday? I really want to understand your experience."
"Cut it out! You know, the one with Marsha Linehan, Schema Therapy, yada yada? Except it didn't mention Schema Therapy. Zen mindfulness, CBT, DBT. Guy knows too much for his own good. Maybe he's finally cracking up. You think?"
"Well, it never mentioned PTSD. It was about borderline personality disorder."
"A disease of the mind, it can control you."
"Right. That could have been a clue. Plus, the Schema stuff wasn't Linehan's."
"What? Like I'm supposed to be keeping track of all this boring shit? I got enough on my plate."
"Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues. But that wasn't it anyway. He got spooked by you."
"Me? What'd I do?"
"Like I said, too close for comfort. Scene of the crime."
"But he was never in Ascona, either. Never takes me anywhere."
"The Rihanna thing maybe? I dunno."
"You mean how she got beat up after that last one?"
"I don't think that was it, either, but who knows? I think that bothered him some, maybe even a lot, but no, it was more about us. About here."
"Well he did leave us hanging in this shitty Swiss restaurant since last August. But how is this the scene of the crime? It's a pretty long way to North Africa."
"Manner of speaking. But you're close with that African guess."
"I say far, you say close. Let's call the whole thing..."
"Let's not and say we did."
"OK, but I don't get it. The dog dream, Vietnam, and suddenly we're back? What the fuck?"
"Yeah, weird isn't it? You know, he was thinking of doing you as Kat Herding this time."
"That clueless model bitch? Oh em gee! And who were you going to be?"
"Him, I guess. He was thinking to do it sort of as cross posts between her Twitter account and his Friendfeed or Facebook or something. It got pretty complicated. But yeah, he suddenly started wondering where he'd left us, and why he'd left us here so long."
"Did he say anything about Winnicott?"
"You know that paper he brings up every once in awhile? The thing Winnicott wrote about the dissolution of personality and how it scares even people who've never experienced anything like that."
"You think he has?"
"Honey, I am a white angel. With wings. Hello?"
"Yeah, I see what you're getting at. It is a little unusual, huh?"
"Well, come on, it's fiction, right? Poetic license. Willing suspension. All that."
"Sure, sure. But he 'gets confused'?"
"I get the sense he really likes us. Trusts us, even. But Ascona, Rihanna, Hesse, Jung... I think it just got too much for him there."
"Jung? Where did Jung come into it?"
"The Eranos lectures, remember? He even had you mention it."
"Oh, right. I kinda vaguely recall something. 1933, was it?"
"Well, that's what you said in chapter 11, but who knows whether the date was right. He probably did look it up. Probably got it from Wikipedia, for what that's worth. Some kid heavy into Archetypes for all we know. And he was probably punning on bankruptcy in that one anyway. Who knows how the guy's mind works."
"I don't think it was just Ascona or Eranos, though. I bet it was the whole active imagination thing."
"You mean he's just talking to himself?"
"You see anyone else around here?"
"OK, now you're freaking me out."
"It's supposed to be therapeutic. Somehow."
"That's just it. He's got this whole love-hate thing going on with Jung. Father complex, most likely. If he actually admitted there was something to those archetypes he likes to snipe at, his world might... well, he might completely dissociate."
"And then we'd be fucked."
"You got it."
"If you're right, things are more serious than I thought."
"How serious did you think they were?"
"Well, you know, about the usual level of friendly don't-worry-about-me insanity he likes to affect."
"You don't buy that, do you?"
"For the most part, I do. But hey, check this out. Looks like I was right about that kid heavy into archetypes. I went to that page I just linked? And get a load of this: '[something something] ...which can be considered similar to shamanic journeying.' I ask you, how NPOV is that?"
"The birds are gonna start singing any minute now. What time is it?"
"Says 5:06 up there in the menu bar. But by the time we spell check this, try to figure out who's saying what to who, post it, send it to the EGR list, it'll be 6 easy."
"Whom. Saying what to whom."
"Oh, fuck you. People don't talk that way."
"Let's not end this acrimoniously, OK?"
"OK. Let's call it a night."
"I'd say 'Goodnight, Gracie,' but I've lost track of which one of us you are."
"Neither one of us is Gracie. I think we can agree on that much."
"You're right. Good night, then. It's been real."
"Yeah, keepin' it real over here, that's me."