I Ching symbol

or perhaps

---  -•-   

which means OK
in Morse Code


















In the field

A yellow-ringed glass of Mountain Red teetered on the pillow.

Cathy shook three quarters, rolled them on the bed, peered.

“Two heads and a tail.”

“Two yins and a yang,” said Jimmy, “makes a seven. Yat’s a young yang.”


“Not changing. A seven is written. Long line. Please, is that all? Extracting wisdom of ages fucking tedious.”

“Dash dash dash dash dot dash.”

“A dash dash dash is Heaven and dash dot dash is Fire.”

“O very auspicious,” said Cathy, “What is it?”

“What it is, is, Gathering/Fellowship with Men.” He handed her the I Ching.

“Things cannot be at a standstill forever,” Cathy read. “That’s news? Blah blah lower primary trigram. A gathering in the field. Thus the superior man, can’t they get over that?”

“Mr. Ching three thousand years old, my superior woman.” He kissed her neck, palmed her left breast. Her skin broke out in lechery.

“I can’t talk if you do that. The superior man organizes the clans and makes distinctions. They seem to gather in a meadow. The universal brotherhood of man, political factions, and a city under seige.”


“They must unite the clans, remaining true to each other, and although it costs them a severe struggle, if they overcome the obstacles will succeed.”

“Can’t be Trotskyists,” said Jimmy. His palm electromagnetized the fine hairs of her leg.

“But when two people are one in their inmost hearts,” she read, deeply breathing, “they shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze. And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts, their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.”

“Very biblical.”

The glass tipped. She saw it coming, rescued the Book of Changes. Wine plashed across her thigh. Jimmy insisted on licking it off.



A Saturday morning the color of sawdust; they slept in late. Cathy had to meet a guy about a plan, and returned at noon. Why don’t we go look for The Girl in, say, Golden Gate Park? she suggested. Looking for The Girl had become an activity like learning to trust your instincts: one could do it any time, claim to be doing it when one wasn’t, and use it to justify whatever one preferred to do.

No place to park on Dead Kennedy Drive, lined with many Volkswagen bugs and buses .

“Cosmo call?” Cathy asked.


“That’s not like him.”

Across Park Presidio, the density of hippies carrying babies and musical instruments crossed a certain threshold. They spotted the San Francisco Mime Troupe truck.

“What’s the scene?”

“The banner says.”

“What banner?”

“Slow down. The one in the meadow.”

The banner said Gathering of the Tribes.

Jimmy swerved to miss a good looking chick with a baby strapped to her hip. Wearing a peasant dress. Not blond.

“Gathering. Tribes. Meadow. Jimmy. Stop.”

They parked fifty yards on, ran back.

“If this turns out,” Jimmy panted, “I’m converting to Buddhism.”

“Confucianism, darling.”

“You’re kidding? The I Ching?”

What did Jimmy know, who once thought his ancestors were Catholics because they were Irish.

“You try the crowd,” said Cathy, “I’ll take the stage.”

The gathering numbered at least a thousand, clumped in clans, tribes, collectives, affinity groups, troupes, flocks, caboodles. Cops on motorscooters harried the stragglers like sheepdogs; that was the law’s latest tactic, pedi-pigs on scooters.

Jimmy squeezed next to a man in a robe and hood of royalish plum, gold pendant of mystical significance around his neck, posed with a walking stick. Nothing wrong with him, yet nothing right, something betwixt wrong and right: off. The polished black shoes. Not quite cop shoes. Not not cop shoes. Not anti-cop shoes. By their shoes ye shall know them.

“Peace, brother,” said Jimmy.

“Cool scene,” replied the man, whose face displayed the lineaments of authority. Not some kid from Napa hitched down 101 for the Big Do in the city. Jimmy’s age: late 20s, thirty maybe.

“What brings you here, man?” asked Jimmy.

“We feel the intensity, the vibes, methodologies of affecting change.”

“Heavy. You come with others?”

“We are from others. This goes much wider than you see here. This is one of many manifestations. ”

Jimmy appreciated the framing of propositions with which there could be no disagreement. “I can dig it,” he said.

“Those in power and those seeking power share the need to intercommunicate.”

“When you say we you mean people not in power or people ...”

“In Washington.”

“I know folks in Seattle,” said Jimmy. The dumber the better in this exchange.


“D.C. Wow. D.C.’s a heavy place, I hear.”

“Both ends of the celestial spectrum. Brothers here. Brothers there. You perceive one reality. We perceive many.”

“Like the Big Picture,” said Jimmy.

“You perceive one White House, one CIA, we perceive another. There are many corridors. Some harmonious, some in contradiction.”

Jimmy had a heave of what Cosmo, had he been there, Where is Cosmo? would have called a parafuckingdigm shift, the queasy vision of a violet corridor of power, royal plum capes hanging from coathangers marked Top Secret. He saw Cathy running toward him, dodging extended families, waving.

“Catch you later, man.” He tried for a close look at the features inside the purple haze.

“Peace,” said the man, raising his fingers in a V before his face, blocking Jimmy’s view.

“I think I saw her,” said Cathy as they ran. “Behind the stage.”

“You didn’t stop her?”

“Couldn’t get past the Hells Angel guard dog.”

“So go around him.”

But the Angel at the rope had them on his radar, intercepted.

“Didn’t get enough, huh?” he said, “your boyfriend wants some too?”

“We just want to talk to that blond woman I saw,” said Cathy.

The Angel cupped his groin. “Speak directly into the microphone.”

“I’m Jimmy O’Shea.” He tried to make it sound like I’m Fidel Castro. “Lemme in there.”

“I’m fainting.” The Angel stepped into Jimmy’s space.

“Look. I’m a friend of Jerry Garcia.”

The Angel looked as if Jimmy had asked him to the Prom.

“She’s got long blond hair, maybe green eyes,” said Jimmy. “Wearing what?”

“Army jacket, tie-dyed skirt, cowboy boots,” said Cathy.

“Do you know who I’m talking about?” Jimmy asked the Angel, who picked his nose.

“Look, brother,” Jimmy said, “This is a heavy situation. If I don’t find this chick, I’m looking at ten to fifteen depending on the jury.”

Jimmy did not blink during the ten-year pause nor take his eyes from those of the Angel, which too were brown.

“Try 715,” said the Angel.


“You got my undying sympathy.” He shifted his weight away from Jimmy, returned his attention to the job. “Now get out of my face.”

Jimmy took that for a yes. Ashbury did not fall from heaven. It was the only 715 he knew, and he knew it well.