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“Whenever I’ve tried to free my life from a set of circumstances that continuously oppress it, I’ve been instantly surrounded by other circumstances of the same order, as if the inscrutable web of creation were irrevocably at odds with me. I yank from my neck a hand that was choking me, and see that my own hand is tied to a noose that fell around my neck when I freed it from the stranger’s hand. When I gingerly remove the noose, it’s with my own hands that I nearly strangle myself.”

—Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet

Marie moved to the Bay Area on her own. Her friend had offered her a place to stay, in a big fancy mansion owned by a world-renowned, wealthy male artist. The artist was friends with Christopher Walken, who was sitting there at the dining room table when Marie arrived. So Marie had a late lunch with him while her friend went out to run an errand. Marie was immediately drawn to Walken’s magnetic sexual energy. They sat on the couch after they ate and pressed the soles of their bare feet together. His feet were tinted orange, like he had a liver disease, hepatitis or something, and he was pretty old and frail but Marie wanted to have sex with him anyway. He had somewhere to be, though, so Marie took a raincheck. After Walken left, Marie realized that her friend, who had invited her there, had not returned. She had said she’d back in a few minutes.

Marie explored inside the mansion, which had a bizarre vibe. All the bedrooms had multiple beds and mattresses, and bunk beds, like it was a commune or a cult or something, but there was no one around. So Marie started getting scared; maybe she was going to be expected to have sex with a cult leader or the famous male artist or something in order to stay at the house for free. And where was her friend? Marie tried to settle on an unused bed and a place to put her suitcase. She was thinking maybe she would be safest in the top half of a bunk-bed in a corner of a room on the third floor, but the top bunk was pretty high, abnormally so. What if she rolled out while she was sleeping and fell to the floor?

Then she looked out the window and saw that the back yard was full of hot tubs and a big swimming pool, but she only saw men out there. Lots of them, with beards and long hair. It was some kind of mineral-bath healing center. Marie shivered. No, this was not going to work for her. Then she remembered that she had plenty of money, and she could afford to stay in a hotel until she found her own place.