Is the young Asian shaman a wise man or a con man? A Hollywood has-been can’t decide. 2,859 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.
I met the Zen Writing Coach in a bar in Hollywood. The kind with rotting stuffed chairs and odd wooden tables scattered about. Dark so you couldn’t see what you didn’t want to see. The walls were painted navy blue which nicely set off the truly hideous original art work posted for sale.
I sat down next to the Zen Writing Coach at the bar. Well, I left one stool empty between us, of course. He was wearing a flowing robe that was undoubtedly Asian, but to me looked more like what those American Indians wore at Wounded Knee when the blue coats shot them down. He was a slight Asian man, as you probably figured — but young, which you probably didn’t. Twenty-five, give or take. A lot younger than me. I was disintegrating my way through my forties.
I ordered my usual for the middle of the afternoon at least: a double Americano and a piece of pumpkin bread from Lilly, a tatted waitress out of Jersey who showed no sexual interest in me. She was very hot. Also gay. I liked Lilly. She was one of the few gay women I’d ever met who didn’t automatically treat me like I had killed her dog.
The Zen Writing Coach had a laptop open in front of him and was meticulously arranging piles of note cards around it in an easy rhythm. It was almost hypnotic to watch. Like the three card monte dealers in New York. I was curious. The robe, the cards, yet he didn’t seem insane or even homeless. So I spoke to him even though I never start up conversations with strangers. But I once went out with a woman whose Native American name was “Talking With Strangers,” so I know how it’s supposed to be done.
“What are you doing?”