Lita: What was that comedian’s name? On the radio before?
John: Was he a comedian? I thought he was just a storyteller with a nice audience.
Lita: Okay, but what was his name? I want to look him up when we get home.
John: I don’t know. Fredrikson?
Lita: It was not even close to ‘Fredrikson.’
John: Fred, maybe? I don’t know; I suck at names. Okay? Fredrikson? Flintstone? He grew up Catholic.
Lita: Was it Catholic?
John: He said he’d been one for twenty-seven years and… eleven months, maybe. Contrasted that with being a Buddhist for three weeks. He kept making those tired jokes about Catholicism making his personality fear- and anger-based. He converted because he… Don’t look at me like that.
Lita: Don’t look at me looking at you. Keep driving, and keep doing that. Keep emptying your mental pockets. I’m testing something. Why did he convert?
John: He met a Llama who held his hands and touched foreheads with him, and he only articulated that it made him feel good. Blessed his rosaries for him. He needed it because his dad was dying, I think from cancer, and his wife was dying from some lingering injuries following a car accident they were in on I-95 where their car flipped five times.
Lita: You’re sure it was five times?
John: I remember. And he was really angry that both of these deaths were coming up at the same time, and full of dread, and he considered suicide for a minute, and I got pissed at him for looking at life and God like the only meaning was in everyone living forever and never getting sick, which stands as the most willfully naïve bullshit of all time. And his wife had to go to a hospice three times.
Lita: Three times?
John: She was in one for four months, he said, though I got confused since he said you were only allowed there for a few weeks, since they expect you to die. So maybe the four months was actually adding up all her time there, or it was that this case was really that extreme and she kept surviving. And I liked the story where she was high on morphine, and sitting up in bed, and wanted to “surprise” him, but could barely speak, and that this did surprise him. Very funny, though probably only works out loud. I was trying to work out if you could pull that off on the page.
Lita: You remember trying to translate a joke about his wife’s morphine haze from stand-up comedy into writing?
John: Well, yes.
Lita: And what’s his name?
John: Burke? Something longer. Burketson?
Lita: This is eerie. You’re a writer.
John: So what?
Lita: That novel you just finished isn’t five hundred pages of calling everyone “the guy in a car accident” or “the wife on morphine.” You use names to mark and remember everyone in every situation.
John: …But it’s the only thing I don’t remember about him. You’re making fun of me.
Lita: Some days I want to climb inside your head and pedal.
John: This is abstract mockery. This is the Cubist version of hazing.
Lita: You don’t even know what Cubism is.
John: But I know the name!