Find the Priestess

I walked out of the building thinking about the Priestess, but tired of it quickly. She lived in New Jersey. I just didn’t have the energy to go there and hear her deny she knows where Jed is another time. I got on a bus heading for the white part of town and didn’t get off it until I saw the Empire State Building. I sat on a curb outside a liquor store and smoked five cigarettes. Night was falling fast. The dot went as slowly inside the huge square than it seemed a dot should be allowed. Night fell. No calls were made except one and the phone line was busy again. Slit had plain, flat out lied to me, because that’s what guys named Slit do.
When I called my mama in the morning she screamed and screamed at me over those long- bird perching wires of America that connect our tinny voices with our feeble hearts and the hearts of those we love. I told her that I had a meeting with Andrew Lloyd Webber about my rock opera, Petals, which was about Princess Diana, a fact I have already mentioned. I reminded her of the validity and universal scope of the work: a) because it was Diana, and b) because I was trying to save the soul of Henri Paul who killed her. I told her Andrew Lloyd Webber was the only one who could understand me putting a flying saucer into a rock opera about Princess Di. She knew why I’d come, but she didn’t let on, and she wished me luck in my meeting with Webber. I’d changed my story since telling her I was going to someday find Jed in New York City. It was easier to concoct a good old lie. I think she feared I would find him then she would have to deal with having her son back with all the problems he’d naturally bring. Actually, it’s because she didn’t want to know that he was dead.

A week went by of wandering. Then two weeks. I visited a few more crack houses, but he wasn’t there. And he wasn’t jamming in any of the rock clubs either. I scuttled along New York City with a bag on my back. My hotel was paid for, and as I left, I knew I’d never be back. I already had my return ticket. It had never left my wallet. I made my way into the big bus station they call The Port Authority and went to a window to find out my gate. It was then that I noticed a sign behind the head of the black woman selling tickets. Fort Lee, New Jersey – C2- 4:30 p.m. On Time. That’s where the Priestess lived. Helen Capowitz. I’d almost forgot.
“One for Fort Lee, please,” I said.
The woman took my fifteen dollars and gave me a stub and pointed me the way. It felt good to get out of the city and see trees again. I never figured out what made people live in a place like New York City, especially all those poor people. It was ugly, and exciting only to those who could afford it. I don’t know how they managed it. I would have killed somebody by now if I had been raised there, I’m sure.

My head felt like it weighed fifty pounds as I watched the world go by through the tinted glass of that bus. New Jersey was a place where people went to get away from the city, but it was just as crowded in its own way. Houses were crammed among the trees. No Indians lived here anymore and all it made you think about while driving through it was that the world had become too much for itself, too crowded, ultimately too heartless to sustain itself in any meaningful way. I thought about Helen Capowitz again. Moxy Priestess herself. I’d never actually met her. I’d only talked to her on the phone. She sounded alright, like she cared about Jed. Now I wondered about their relationship. If Jed was alive who then was this lying Moxy Priestess? After being in New York for almost three weeks and meeting some of the most desperate people I’d ever met, it seemed that anything was possible. Moxy Priestess. What was the Priestess all about anyway? I remember the logo, a woman’s black shoe coming down on top of the world. She fully went for the female power trip thing, applying rock and roll the way rock and roll was meant to be played, what with Jed playing it.
I never thought much about Helen Capowitz, Moxy Priestess. I always just thought about Jed being the engine of that band, the music, the Eddie Van Halen, the thing that would always keep it alive. But I’m wrong about that. Moxy had as much to do with their success with that boot thing and all as Jed did. But who was she? A Jewish girl from New Jersey who’d made the world believe she was something she ultimately was not, a powerful woman. If she had been really powerful she would have been able to help my brother. The whole concept of Moxy Priestess was one of feminine defensiveness and I couldn’t respect that. I don’t respect those who live in fear from others or those who lie, which she did if Jed is alive and she actually does know, like The Lady thinks she does.
But she must have had some kind of power over Jed. I remember watching the videos, Jed standing there under the lights, slouched over, picking on his guitar, his cigarette dangling from his lips, the self-contained rocker. That was Jed. He didn’t give a shit what anybody thought of him, except it seems now, possibly, the Priestess. As I moved over those roads and hills of New Jersey I kept thinking to myself what an idiot I had been. The Priestess was lying. I knew it now. I just knew.
I got off near the Fort, a real army base, in Fort Lee. I went to a phone at a Dunkin Donuts and looked up the number of the Priestess in my book in which I had been collecting numbers for ten years. Capowitz. I called her and she answered. She sounded like my mother.
“Hello?”
“Hello, is this Helen Capowitz?”
“This is she.”
“Hi, I’m Albert Jones, Jed’s brother…”
“Oh my god.”
There was a silence on her end that I didn’t intrude upon. The length of the silence answered my questions and when I finally spoke I knew that she would have to invite me over.
“I’m sorry?” I said, as if she knew something.
“No, it’s just that, well, I’ve been thinking about Jed lately.”
“Me too. Helen, I’m in town. Can we meet?”
There was another silence.
“Hold on,” she said. She put the phone down and a moment later she picked it up again.
“Okay. Albert?”
“Yes.”
“You’re in town? Fort Lee?”
“Yes.”
Because I was listening for notions of Jed in her voice, I heard the other phone pick up, but only because I was listening so astutely.
“Yes, come over. Where are you?”
I told her.
“I’ll come get you. Wait there.”

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Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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