It was a cold day on the street. Inside the Black and Green, I sat with the Yogi in silence for an hour or two; we simply watched the afternoon grow into evening. The roll door was up, and we sat there in coats, with a little fire lamp burning on the metal table in front of us.
Behind the counter, Upi prepared incense, and set it to light.
I watched the traffic on the street subside; soon the last cars passed in the street. A fat man carried his washing home in a rucksack, and a pair of boys, eight or nine, scrambled past, school backpacks bouncing and dangling, racing one another to a waiting ride. A couple passed, on a date. Then a man in a track suit with a dark, well-edged beard ambled past, speaking on a phone that made dark reflections in the street light, like a well-polished hand mirror.
A light turned on in an apartment across the street, making a yellow rectangle, and I realized it was dark.
The smell inside Black and Green grew richer than incense alone would allow.
I turned and saw Upi at the single burner beside the espresso machine.
“What’s cooking?” I asked.
“I am mulling some wine.”
The Yogi smiled, and sipped his cold weak tea, and looked out into the dim blue of the empty street. A taxi buzzed past, lurched to a halt, then and pulled up over the curb, and drove onward, presumably to a fare on the Platz.
“Tell me,” said the Yogi, “what you are going to do now, Narc.”
“I am bewildered,” I said, “I do not know. All my life I have prepared for something. Now it is clear to me that my preparation has not been a preparation at all, but a sleep. I have no practice with open eyes; I have no idea how to proceed. What’s more, I feel I cannot be trusted.”
Upi chuckled, and dashed spice into the wine pot.
“Sometimes,” said the Yogi, “your soul can turn inside your body. That is the best explanation we have, that the very surface of yourself, against yourself, is no longer the same sensation, and you feel strange. In esoteric writings it is sometimes called astral rotation.”
“And you must reckon with your surroundings.”
“I know exactly what I must do,” I said.
The Yogi looked at me through narrowed eyes.