But if you want certainty you are in the wrong universe.

“May I speak with Ramdas Bingaman, please?”

“Speaking. Who is this?”

“Charles Bellaforte in the ISBL front office here.”

“Ah, so good to hear from you, Charles. I was beginning to wonder.”

“Sorry about that, sir. I have been on the phone with Regency Travel all day trying to arrange your flight to Uzbekistan. In fact, we just got off the phone a minute ago. You fly out of TPA tomorrow morning at 10 AM, connect at O’Hare, then connect again at Charles De Gaulle and then—”

“Tell me, is Eric Wasserman joining me in Paris?”

“I believe so, yes.”

“You say you just got off the phone with them?”

“Yes.”

“Good,” I say. “Call them back, and add another flight for Katie T. O’Reilly. Let me get her passport, and I will give you the rest of the pertinents.”

The next morning Katie and I lie awake in bed. We have urgencies pressing in on us. The walls of our motel room strain to hold them back. They threaten to kick down the door and swarm us. But for now it feels good to be with her in this moment and in this place. Colletta creeps at the edge of my mind, but if I focus only on the moment I am as happy as I have ever been. I admire how Katie’s body fits perfectly with mine, just as she did years before. I delight also in seeing how our bodies have changed, and while inspecting her, appreciating the differences between my memory and her reality. This piece of her is exactly the same, that piece of her has stretched, is elongated, broader, tauter, smoother, softer, firmer, faintly patterned with stretch marks. So many changes, and I am saddened that I was not present to witness the birth of each new wrinkle, each new line. And yet, if I remember how things ended, I become angry as if it were still fresh, still happening: a stupid fight about bathing techniques, the culmination of several months’ worth of suspicion. She had been sleeping with Wasserman, and though part of me understood her need to be intimately close to his greatness, part of me could not forgive her. 

Can I now? 

All this time I am lying there tracing the contours of her torso with my fingertips. She finally speaks, “You look troubled.”

“I am,” I say. “This is such a grab bag.”

“I’m a grab bag?”

“This is a grab bag.”

“What’s a grab bag?” she asks.

“A bag of random stuff you grab without knowing what’s in it.”

“I know what a grab bag is,” she says and smiles. “So I’ll ask, why would anyone grab such a bag?” 

Before I can answer she says, “Because those are the only bags there are.” Then she adds, “I’m sorry about the past, and I am sure I will be sorry again in the future. But right now I feel good to be with you, and the bag we grabbed is good this time. But if you want certainty you are in the wrong universe.”

———

 REVIEWS

“Part action, part thriller, all comedy, The Librarian at the End of the World fires on all cylinders. Fans of Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace will revel in the ridiculousness that is Miller’s America.”

“A constantly surprising picaresque journey through cultural darkness”

“A most unique rollicking story that careens from the almost familiar instantly into a world of what is happening here?

“Not so much a novel as a perpetual- motion machine: part road-show, part parable, careening between surrealism and comedy”

“Laugh out loud rambling tale of the future/present”

“Prepare to be blown away”

“On the cutting edge of audacious literature”

“Takes madcap to a new level, blending Preston Sturges and Philip Dick”

“Outrageous and thought-provoking”

“Just blown away.”

“Fantastic and bizarre”

“Lovecraft turns Beatnik and drops acid”

“One of the absolutely most freakishly odd books I have ever read”

“It’s like E. L. James, Larry Flynt, and Hunter Thompson somehow merged their DNA”

“Even Carrie Fisher (yes, her vagina is in here) isn’t safe from this menace!”

“If you are looking for a completely unique book, this one is hot!”

“Funny and intelligent”

“Filled with hedonism, erotica and hilarity.”

“Only for strong and fearless readers.”

 “Wild, trippy, fun, and sometimes profound”

“I found myself engaged, disconnected and overwhelmed all at the same time”

 “No one would ever expect this”

“Imagine a world where Thin Man was co-written by Tim Leary and Douglas Adams and set in the Office staffed by assassins”

“Brilliant, raunchy, hilarious, heartfelt, and by the end, breathtaking”

 “Social satire at its best”

“In the end, this romp becomes something else. It becomes a work of art, moving and funny and memorable.”

Editor’s note:  Technically it is her vulva, not her vagina.

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