HE applied to teach a virtual writing course at Colorado Free University called Five Minute Mastery. This title was inspired by the similar name of an online writing group he’d belonged to for the last several years which he’d often made use of to compose letters he needed to write or act out difficult conversations he needed to have or attempt difficult passages from his own fictional works that he’d been putting off. He would write these out in idealized fictional form for everyone’s amusement before editing and refining them for use elsewhere. The lion’s share of his job at the U if he got it would be inspiring faith in others, making him a strange new kind of faith healer.
Wally Jack remembered writing down a question for his next session with Kartinie Thinie along the lines of “Am I meant to be a teacher?” and now here he was a few days later making exactly that gamble. He’d discovered another idea to cup in his hands and blow on until it caught fire, and maybe this was the gimmick he’d been looking for when he imagined becoming a toilet paper millionaire during that shortage, specializing in something everyone wanted and no one had. The difference being that, in this case, he was selling something everyone already had but never used because they didn’t know they had it.
He’d made contact with the Free U a few weeks ago without knowing what kind of class to teach, just before meeting Kartinie Thinie. Last night he’d filled out a form and sent it in, and he had a Zoom appointment with the school’s headmaster the day after his next appointment with Kartinie Thinie to talk about channeling creativity. He was excited to tell her about the way she’d inspired him, and how he intended to promote her book at every session of the class.
Wally Jack Mack looked out the window where big flakes of snow were drifting down, and smoke was coming from a neighbor’s chimney. There was a woman who wanted to sleep with him, who and lived an hour’s drive away, which had kept it from happening so far.
There was a trick he’d forgotten to try on Madeleine the other night, of rubbing his hands together and getting them hot before putting them inside a woman. He’d read about that one in a book by Per Petterson, and it seemed like the woman concerned had enjoyed the effect.
He was going to get deeper with Kartinie Thinie on Wednesday when they met to talk about her color oracle. How would Kartinie Thinie feel about a book by Wally Jack Mack on her experiences as a medium and alien contactee? How would the alien Kartinie Thinie channeled feel about him publishing a book of their extended dialogue?
He decided to ask them both in turn, in separate online sessions with each of the selves.
Increased intimacy with Kartinie Thinie was his object, but he would have to start by going deeper before she did. He wondered what she’d already seen in their future. He planned to dedicate the next day to memorizing the notes he’d taken toward their next encounter and doing a divination specifically to plot the manifestation of his desires. What a week, what a year, what a life, he thought.
One morning he was cleaning the toilet and had the thought, so this is what it always comes to. However many books I read and write, however many women I fall for and presses I found and books I publish and aliens I talk to, it all comes back to cleaning out the toilet in the end, and the impermanence of relationships, and mortality in the end. Some people killed themselves over these kinds of realizations. Wally Jack was too hard-headed. That’s just the human game, he thought.
He saw a video Kartinie Thinie had made that day where she said she was so busy she might have to tell her boyfriend she needed three months off.
Wally Jack had been doing all these divinations on questions like Who is Kartinie Thinie? What does she want from me? How can I best serve her? And the latest iteration was a couple of drawings on What steps should I take, higher self, to further my intimacy with Kartinie Thinie? How can I combine with her?
He didn’t want to steal her from her boyfriend, but he wanted her, and felt it bubbling up in his chest when he asked his higher self whether it was a beneficial thing to want, so there had to be a way.
The alien she channeled was already writing a book. They’d talk about that next time.
Everything was an oracle. That was the lesson he’d channeled himself years ago that was being confirmed by this woman’s divination system. How important this connection was. So what if she had a boyfriend? He didn’t want to be the unoriginal idiot who lost interest in her beautiful soul because of it. And he wanted to know her for years and years.
He was already forty pages deep in a book inspired by her effects whose action was what happened after meeting her, and he still didn’t know how it would end.
Everything is an oracle, thought Wally Jack Mack, as he headed to the store. And getting my groceries symbolizes successful attainment of my goal. That’s how I’ll read it. Higher self, how can I further intimacy with Kartinie Thinie?
There were two encounters with cars where he had to slacken his pace and not take offense, so he counted the first two messages as 1/ Allowance—letting the car go by—and 2/ Lack of Response—not taking it hard when a car cut him off, ignoring the WALK signal. Nothing broke into his flow at the store until he was checking out and felt required to the pleasant formality of making small talk with the cashier, so step 3/ was public relations. On the way home there was a patch of mud on the sidewalk that looked like testicles and Wally Jack Mack counted that as a sign of 4/ manhood or incipient potential, then before he went into his apartment, he saw a FedEx truck and counted that as sign 5/ that he should keep communicating with her, despite the distance.
All he had to do was make an excellent impression as a friendly fellow intuitive, and that would be easy. His hair was starting to grow back after the last mishap with the clippers, and he was starting to feel like he looked presentable again. Wally Jack Mack decided not to wear a hat the next time he talked to her, which would be a sign of openness and bravery and realness for both of them.
He noticed the size of his eyes was uneven from too much pot smoking and was able to make the small one look bigger by morning by bugging it out on purpose off and on the previous night. He brushed his teeth in the last few minutes before the call and came up with an okay opener, which he didn’t quite, but almost, flubbed. “It’s an hon—I mean it’s a ple—I mean it’s nice knowing my whole life has been leading up to this conversation.”
It seemed to go over. Wally Jack Mack wanted her to see him as more of an equal. He wanted to make an impression on her. Now he could start.
Wally Jack Mack had been writing his own striated version of Charles Bukowski’s Women for the last several years of his life, chronicling his sporadic relationships with appearing women in an effort to understand reality somehow, and now there was an all-knowing alien priestess overseeing it, in his own mind if not the world.
He was more excited by the woman hosting her or it, but it was easier making big talk with the alien Kartinie Thinie channeled, which made him think of the adage of give a man a mask and they’ll show you their true self or however that goes. All the great writing he’d channeled had him in it, too, and he figured she was probably there when her alien was. It was a different avenue of communication to a different part of herself, that’s all.
My intuition led me here, he realized. I’ve been on my way here all along.
He was having lunch one day with a woman named Judy from the public speaking group he’d joined the year before. They’d gotten in the habit of meeting for lunch once a week before lockdown, and he’d never made a pass at her, partly because she was a widow and a single mother, and he didn’t want to fool with anyone’s heart like that. Even so, since having sex with his lesbian friend Annie right after meeting Kartinie Thinie, Wally Jack Mack was reminded of how easy it was to have sex with someone, and he felt like asking everyone. He felt more open to letting Judy know how attractive she was, and suggesting they have a fling, letting her know he’d just had a new mattress delivered and they should try it out.
“Yeah, we should try it,” laughed Judy, going along with the joke, but nothing came of it.
Wally Jack Mack resolved to research a few books on the topic of channeling, get a read on commonalities and disparities among cases, and come up with an excellent title. Maybe he’d call it 5th Kind, or Tuning Fork—an unfinished metaphor he’d come up with for Kartinie Thinie after watching her channel a dead friend in one of her videos, seeing her facial features and the tone of her voice fill with someone else’s presence, which had convinced him she was the real thing. There he was at the heart of the same huge lesson his life was always teaching and he thanked his lucky stars for the amazing change in Kartinie Thinie’s attitude. Though little had been said, she seemed newly enthusiastically awakened to Wally Jack’s attentions, and he determined to assume a higher degree of comfort and enticement in their next encounter, which was already scheduled for next Thursday from 11:30 to 1:00 P.M., where he planned to ask about her parents and her childhood, how her life felt at first, how everything had changed in that haunted house.
His Zoom interview with the friendly, gray haired female Free University headmaster went well, except that he focused on the practical aspects of the class he would teach overmuch—how you could use the technique to write a eulogy, for instance—later deciding to market the whole thing as ‘Subconscious Fiction¹” instead, that old chestnut, and still make note of those kinds of potential practical benefits in the class description without harping on them. Yes, let’s give it a try, thought Wally Jack. It wouldn’t be a lot of money, but it would be an experiment in trusting his intuition, and that’s what kind of laboratory his life had lately become, so he was in the right place.
¹ Wally Jack found out there was a thing called “autofiction”, too, meaning the attempted fictionalization of autobiographical material, which is essentially what kind of book this is. Jordan Castro’s The Novelist, in which the protagonist has a similar multifaceted relationship to the internet to Wally Jack’s, is another example. Billy Childish calls this technique “fantastic biography”.