Signs & Portents




Chapter 12

Who is the Potter Pray, and Who the Pot?


In the ambulance, Sharif Mark recovered consciousness. His strange surroundings confused him, but after a few minutes, a reasonable explanation came to him. He had reincarnated again! He studied the black man in the white lab coat. Africa, he decided. But he could not recall the details of his new existence.

"Who am I?" he inquired brightly.

"Take it easy, friend, you're all right now," offered the ambulance attendant.

Sharif subsided and reconsidered his situation. Eventually, he discovered he was only himself again. He began to explain to the two paramedics, in whose company he found himself, that he was the reincarnation of James Joyce. After that one, he had been a stillborn child of a couple who lived in Berkeley, he went on, a fact that he and his good friend, Carl Jung, had verified together.


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The ambulance attendant made reassuring responses, but insisted firmly that he lie down completely instead of sitting up. He lay back reluctantly, but began to tell them of another man, whom he knew personally, who was receiving messages from the constellation Pleides. He had never seen a saucer himself, he confided, but he knew they existed. His friend, Carl Jung had seen a saucer, and Carl was airport controller and knew about these things. Of course, who Carl had been in a former life might be seen by his name. And a name by any other name is still a name.

He giggled, elated by his own wit and dropped into his Joyceian consciousness mode, where he continued to romp in the pastures of his voluble imagination, which were at the worst of times, a constant solace and comfort to him. He could recite volumes of Joyce because, he had, of course, written it all himself. He gave several demonstrations because he noted that although the two paramedics agreed with him at every turn, their responses seemed a bit on the cautious disbelieving side.

The black man nodded sagely to his companion.

"I think we've got a case here for the fifth floor," he remarked.

His friend grinned back a confirmation of the pragmatic diagnosis, if Sharif had not been brain damaged prior to the accident, there was little doubt he was now. They were wrong, however, Sharif had quite run down on the subjects of reincarnation and flying saucers by the time he arrived at the emergency room. He had instead fallen into a pensive silence, realizing that something really odd, and possibly bad, must have happened to him. The last thing he could recall was being at the University with Carl and somehow, he was now inside a hospital. He left the emergency room trying to recall the advice he had been given about post concussive syndrome. He was not, in any case, brain damaged, but only a true believer with far ranging interests.

In the hallway outside the emergency room, he encountered the police, who were very polite to him, although they arrested him for rioting, inciting to riot, and suspicion of homicide on the person of one, Timothy Finnegan. At the mention of that name, a theory of horrific karmic causes and effects flashed through Sharif's befuddled brain.

When they told him, with careful courtesy, that he had the right to remain silent, he fortuitously availed himself of that, and thus again, eluded residence on the fifth floor.

And strange to tell, among that Earthen lot
Some could articulate, while others not:
And suddenly one more impatient cried—
"Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?"

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

as rendered into English by Edward Fitzgerald


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