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34

Sunday, 9:00 P.M. Max should have left hours ago for DC, but he was restless, troubled in his mind. So many things had gone so badly lately. Two burglaries. The loss of the Carrport house. The added complications of the bankruptcy, difficulties he had never anticipated. The insane detective in New York who so clearly believed that Max had arranged to burglarize his own homes, and who seemed perfectly capable of rooting around in Maxs affairs until he did find something illegal that Max might have done. It was all as though some black cloud were hovering above his head, confusing him, keeping him off-balance.

Nine P.M. The Hilton Head condo was dark and empty, except for himself in the spacious living room, seated on the broad canvas sofa, the table lamps on both end tables the only illumination. The secretary who had been here to help him with his statement before the congressional committee tomorrow, among other things, had come and gone, leaving him alone in the house. In a guest cottage half a mile away, a nameless chauffeur awaited his call, already well overdue. Here in the condo air-conditioning hummed, and beyond the broad uncurtained front windows stretched the wide porch, the regular narrow pickets of the porch rail, and then the Atlantic, extending far out eastward under a pale moon and a black sky, the seas black surface glinting here and there and over here, as though tiny men in black armor were creeping ever closer.

Open on the glass coffee table in front of him was The Book, the I Ching. Hed been reading it, dipping in here and there, hoping for general guidance, somehow reluctant to open the door to his own particular situation. But why? Hed never been afraid to know his destiny before. That destiny, whatever by way of destiny he might still have out ahead of himself, was all lagniappe anyway, a treat from the master of the house, an extra serving of dessert, a long and delicious overtime following the brief harsh course he was supposed to have led. So why be afraid now?

Im not, he decided, and reached for the three shiny pennies on the glass coffee table, and six clattering tosses laterloud, the copper pennies on the glasshe had his current reading, this moment in his life, and there was Tui! His own Joyous trigram, in the upper half of the hexagram, with the only moving line at the base of it, the nine in the fourth place. The lower trigram was Ch^en, the Arousing, Thunder, and the number of the hexagram was 17, and its name was Following.

Following? Max had never seen himself as following, as being a follower. Could it mean those who followed Max? And if so, was it for good or for ill? Could the follower be the New York detective, Klematsky? Could it be that hapless burglar? Could it be the damn bankruptcy judge, dogging his tracks?

Max bent over The Book, studying its words. Following, the Judgment: Following has supreme success. Perseverance furthers. No blame.

Yes, yes, he knew The Book well enough by now to furnish the words it would customarily elide. What the judgment meant was, no blame would accrue to Max if he persevered, but in this situation (whatever this situation was) perseverance was linked with the concept of following, and it was only in understanding the link between the two that he could succeed.

Maybe the Image would clarify things:


The Image


Thunder in the middle of the lake:

The image of FOLLOWING.

Thus the superior man at nightfall

Goes indoors for rest and recuperation.


Hmmm. The Book often spoke of the superior man, and Max naturally assumed it was always referring to himself. When it said the superior man takes heed, Max would take heed. When it said the superior man moves forward boldly, Max would move forward boldly. But now the superior man goes indoors? At nightfall? It was nightfall, and he was indoors.

Max read on. The explications given by the editors of The Book, sometimes very helpful, seemed to him this time merely reductive. Following and its image, they suggested, merely meant that in life one time followed another time, and when it was the appropriate time to stop working and get some rest the superior man would stop working and get some rest. But here was Max at Hilton Head, where hed been romping quite successfully with a compliant secretary. Did he need to be told, at this moment, to stop working and get some rest?

Or was The Book simply pointing out his present situation, like a map mounted in a public space, featuring an arrow with the notation YOU ARE HERE ? If so, then the moving line would be the significance. Nine in the fourth place:


Following creates success.

Perseverance brings misfortune.

To go ones way with sincerity brings clarity.

How could there be blame in this?


Oh, well, really, whats all that supposed to mean? A minute ago, perseverance furthered. Now the editors say this line means the superior man should see through sycophants, which was hardly Maxs problem.

In another part of The Book, there was more about the meaning of the lines, first quoting a bit of the line and then glossing it:


Following creates success: this bodes misfortune.

To go ones way with sincerity: this brings clear-sighted deeds.


And what do the editors have to say about this, when success is equated with misfortune? Max read, and pondered, and began to see what they meant, and he didnt like it at all.

What The Book was saying to him was that he had succeeded in getting somebody to follow him that he didnt want following him; the line is in the wrong place. Theres danger in being followed this way, all kinds of trouble, and the way to avoid it is to see clearly. To see the follower clearly.

Who? Detective Klematsky sprang to mind. Should Max try to exert pressure at the NYPD, have Klematsky replaced by somebody less insane? Or would that just make more trouble than before? And what if the follower isnt Klematsky after all, but is, for instance, the bankruptcy judge, Mainman?

How could he see the follower clearly if he didnt know which follower it was? Max had known he felt beleaguered, and now he knew why. He was being trailed somehow, followed by somebody, and he could feel it, sense it. But who?

This isnt enough information, Max decided, and tossed the coins again. You could approach The Book two or three times in a row this way, before the information would reduce to gibberish. And this time he gotwait a minute, Tui again, his own trigram, but now at the bottom of the hexagram. And once more the other trigram was Ch^en, the Arousing, Thunder, this time on the top. The previous hexagram had come back to him, inverted, with again only one moving line, this time the nine in the second position.

The number of the hexagram was 54, and its name was the Marrying Maiden, and Max felt a chill go up his back, and thought about turning down the air-conditioning.

The Marrying Maiden. Hed never been led to that hexagram before, but in his reading of The Book hed come across it several times, and hed noticed how unpleasant it was, and hed always been glad when 54 had not come up.

But now it had. Hexagram 54, what are you?


The Judgment


THE MARRYING MAIDEN.

Undertakings bring misfortune.

Nothing that would further.


Good God. It was some undertaking of his, something he had done, that had brought about this mess. What was it? What had he done? The Carrport visit? Was it that damn judge after all?

With fingers that now trembled a bit, Max turned the page to read the image of this hexagram:


The Image


Thunder over the lake:

The image of THE MARRYING MAIDEN.

Thus the superior man

Understands the transitory

In the light of the eternity of the end.


The eternity of the end! Wait, wait, wait a minute here. Why bring death into this? Yes, of course, Max had always laughed at death, had always said, and always believed, because of course it was true, that his own life was an afterthought, a joke, a cosmic error, that he was supposed to have been snuffed out long ago, lifeless in the first dew of his youth, but that didnt mean, that doesnt mean, that doesnt mean he wants to die. What is this, all of a sudden?

What exactly is he being warned about here? Is there actually an assassin following him? Has some enemythere are enemies, oh, God, there are enemieshired a killer to stalk him? But were all businessmen here, arent we, all rational people? Our weapons of choice are attorneys and accountants, not assassins. Still, could it be that someone was driven too close to the edge, has someones sanity snapped, is there a murderer coming?

That window ahead of him, with its black view of the black ocean, how exposed it is. How exposed he is, here in this double halo of light from the lamps flanking this sofa, like two shotgun barrels firing at once.

What an image! Max ducked his head, blinked at the page of The Book, tried to concentrate, tried to read the editors comments, tried to find the loophole.

So hard to concentrate, so hard to read. And what namby-pamby is this from the editors? It might as well be out of Ann Landers. No, worse, Joyce Brothers. They say, these Hallmark-level editors, they say this terrifying image of the superior man understanding the transitory in the light of the eternity of the end, they say it simply means friends should avoid misunderstandings that will make their relationships turn sour.

Oh, please. How can they say such a thing? Max read and read, time going by, the pages turning this way and that, and finally he calmed enough to realize that the hexagram of the Marrying Maiden was at its literate level simply about the ways in which a girl adapts herself to her bridegrooms household, the difficulties and delicacies of being low woman on the totem pole in a traditional Chinese family.

Still, even though that was the literal meaning of what hed just read, the whole point of the I Ching was to adapt the concrete imagery of its hexagrams to the specifics of ones own life. Max Fairbanks was no blushing bride, cowed by her new mother-in-law. So what could this mean? Somehow, he had entered into a relationship the way a bride enters into a relationship with her new husbands family, fraught with peril. Once she accepts the ring

No. It cant be.

Max stared at The Book, stared at the pennies, stared at the window, which had become opaque with a rise in humidity outside, a passing mist, so that what he saw was his own startled self, squat on the sofa.

The burglary at the N-Joy.

He returned to the Carrport house.

He knows where I am. Well, of course he does, everybody knows where I am, the newspapers know where I am. And hes following me, because he wants this ring.

He cant have it. Max looked at the ring, glinting and winking on his finger. It felt so good there, so warm, so right. This is my trigram!

The Watergate apartment. He expects me to be there, next.

I could still be wrong, he thought, trying to soothe himself. It could still be something else, anything else. Theres still more to the answer, theres the one moving line that I havent consulted yet, the nine in the second place. That could change everything.

Max turned the page. He bent his head over The Book. He read the two sentences, then read them again, then looked up at himself in the window.

Its about him. The Book has done it again, and I cant argue. First it described me, as I am at this moment. Then it described the situation that was coming closer to me. Then it pointed to the person who had caused that situation. And now it says what that person is doing:


Nine in the second place means:

A one-eyed man who is able to see.

The perseverance of a solitary man furthers.


Hes coming to get me.


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