As I drove to court, Maureen by my side, I played, as I had when driving Maureen to court for Jean's hearing, Presidents of the United States of America, starting with “Kitty on My Foot” which I thought of as Maureen's theme song, ending with “Naked and Famous” which I thought of as mine, reflecting sadly that I had put it in the player intending to play it while I drove Keif to the bus stop, for Keif knew every word of every song on that album as well as I knew Freewheeling Bob Dylan. All of my efforts to make everything ritually correct were of course useless, for while I had visualized the confrontation as something like Obi Wan versus the Emperor, Lori and I shooting lightning bolts at each other from our fingertips while she invoked Cthulhu and Yoggoth in growling curses and I chanted mantras in reply, until the earth rumbled and light fixtures in the courtroom ceiling began exploding, it was instead the usual tedium, with the same judge Pierce, as unwilling to hear a tenant's side of the story as ever. Glyn was willing to be in the courtroom, but not to sit at plaintiff's table, to raise his right hand when potential witnesses were sworn, to speak a single word, or to acknowledge my existence. Will slit my throat a few ways, particularly when he flat-out lied about shaking my hand on the agreement that Lori would not be responsible for deciding about evictions anymore, and though my subpoena to him was a duces tecum demanding that he bring his employment contract, it turned out he did not even have one, just vague verbal agreements, so I hope he has not been stupid enough to let the Stouts have a piece of paper with his signature on it, as the judge was inclined to take it for granted that the “lease” Lori cooked up must be the document I signed, since I acknowledged the signature page to be genuine. Judge Pierce was anxious to shoo away Hickman, who insisted on staying and watching the outcome, still incensed at the witness intimidation which the judge was happy to be complicit in, the judge accepting the story that my eviction was not due to the interactions with the police, which Lori at one point ludicrously claimed not even to remember, but rather to anonymous undated complaints about my smoking, which all appeared to be in Redhead Diane's handwriting, though she did not show in court. But in one odd aspect it went my way, for Lori insisted that terminating my tenancy had nothing to do with terminating my membership, and has never asked for my membership card back, so I still have it and apparently remain a member, of a very unique kind, one who is forbidden ever to pay dues.
Otherwise everything was miserable, the judge acting as an even stronger advocate on plaintiff's side than Todd, the two of them tag-teaming me to keep me off-balance and rattled, so that I performed poorly, and remembered why I had burned my license to practice law, fifteen years before. When I got home I found that Samara's sword of justice had mysteriously disappeared, and Maureen told me it must have had some work to do elsewhere. All the rest of the day I was filled with anger and bravado, telling everyone I would not leave until the fifth day after the sheriff posted the five-day tag, and planning to file a stay pending appeal to cause as much aggravation as I could. But the next morning, the feeling came to me strongly that this place was not home to me anymore, that the community I had joined scarcely existed any longer, that no matter how many “friends” I still had, not one of them besides Maureen had actually stood up for me, and that I should really leave as soon as possible. Indeed I would have left that very day, but Jean told me she was picking up a 4-wheel drive Bronco with the size to get all my stuff in one trip and the traction to haul everything to the storage shed without having to carry anything down the muddy trail, so I put off my departure until Sunday, deciding however not to spend the night there but to go down to Jimbo's apartment, and sent Brad an e-mail announcing my intention to vacate without further resistance, assuming Jean could bring in her truck without obstruction. All afternoon I paced the grounds, saying goodbye to my favorite places with a feeling of unutterable sadness, and in the evening I sat at the table in the Circle in a state of uncontrolled sobbing, while Adam, who hardly ever sits in the Circle for long, stayed there with Maureen and me, trying to lighten the mood with some wise-cracks, even though Lori was in eyeshot, sitting for hours alone on the patio, something that I had never observed her to do before, presumably to gloat.
It was just as well that I went to Monterey for the night, for on the same day as the court hearing, Lupin failed to make payroll for the fourth time in a row, and Saturday night somebody filled the hot tub with soap suds again, which Lori accused me of being responsible for, but fortunately I had an alibi. I came in late Sunday morning to find Adam dealing with the mess, and warned Walt in the office that Jean would be coming around noon, just to pick up my stuff, not to make any trouble, “and if the Psycho Bitch wants to make trouble about it, just ask her if she wants me out of here or not.” I saw Will and Amy about to take off for a visit to Robert, to whom I sent good wishes, and Will explained his conduct, saying things which, as with so much else that I hear at Lupin, must go with me to my grave, so we parted on better terms than I had expected, and I warned him to watch out for Lori targetting Adam next, regardless of how stupid that would be, for showing friendship to me and Maureen. And I said goodbye to Black Haired Diane, who had given up on the dye and accepted that she was now Gray Haired Diane, and recalled how, when I had first moved in, she had wanted to have me and Turtle and Silent John over for dinner sometime, but this had never happened and now never would.
As I walked back up by the Restaurant, Wayne came up to me and said in a half-shout, trying to put as much glare in his eyes as he could manage, “If you have anything to say to my sister, you put it in her mailbox, you do not confront her!” I replied, “Her stated preference was for e-mail,” which caused him to sputter, “I wouldn't know anything about that,” but then he got back to his script, “You do not confront her! Look me in the eyes when I tell you this,” a curious request since I was maintaining eye-contact with him throughout, but I guess he must have rehearsed it this way, concluding, “I'm serious as a heart attack!” A heart attack is just what it looked like he was about to have, his face paler and more jaundiced than I recalled, and I could not help but feel sorry for him, so I said soothingly, “I don't think it's likely that I will ever talk to her again,” and though I doubted that I would be able to completely avoid any further contact, I certainly did not intend any more than absolutely compelled. He visibly sighed as he said, “That would be great,” able to walk away with his mission fulfilled. I hear that really, he would like to leave Lupin, as he does have friends, and better places he could be, but Lori still requires him as her enforcer, and whatever power it is that she has over people, it continues to work on him.
When Jean showed up in the Bronco, Walt left the gate down, turned the “OPEN” sign in the office to the “CLOSED” side, and disappeared upstairs, and when nothing happened for a long time, in the typical Lupin way, Jean said she was afraid there would be trouble, turned around and left, setting up a rendezvous with me down the road at the Summit Store where I could at least transfer one car load from my trusty Toyota to the Bronco, buying some masking tape and snacks from the Store, since it would not be proper just to use their parking lot and not give them any business, including a six-pack of Coke for Manny since he had lamented that there was no soda in the Kitchen and no room in my car to give him a ride down the hill. But then Jean lamented the fridge, and asked if I would dare to drive the Bronco into Lupin to retrieve it, which I did, finding that the gate code had not been changed, a curious oversight if they really wanted to block me from getting my stuff out, and while the office was still closed, and now dark, there were new signs on the gate, “NO TRESPASSING – Members Only”. This was a change of rules, if intended seriously, since up until then members had been allowed to bring in guests, and if they might have the legal right to change that without notice, an interesting question, they were certainly not within their legal rights to block me from letting Jean in, as there is a specific statute that landlords cannot forbid an evicted tenant to bring in movers to help them evacuate, but never mind, what else is new? In any case, I drove the Bronco up to the Kitchen without challenge, and Roy kindly hoisted the fridge in, not bothering with another fridge of Jean's beneath it, which we used only for random storage since it had not worked in a long time, and as I told Roy, that made it perfect for her final donation to Lupin.
As for the rest of the stuff in Tiger Lily, I was not going to bother loading it into the Bronco, as the runaround had cost us a lot of daylight and we did still need to find Rob, whom Jean trusted most to drive the Bronco up the muddy trail at Hazel Dell, so I just said that Lori had obviously made the choice that she wanted to see me around for a few days longer. Monday morning, Ronnie wanted a ride into town, but when I was ready to take him, he told me he had forbidden to accept, so I just went about my business, getting plastic bins and taking them to the storage shed at Hazel Dell to keep my stuff dry and rat-proofed, then walking around the Lupin grounds picking up butts and pieces of trash as usual, for however they behave, they have no power to change me. Tuesday morning, I saw Ronnie again, and for once he had his own cigarettes but did need a light, so I asked him whether it was legal for him to accept a light from me, and he just shook his head ruefully. I found a rubber ball belonging to Simone and Samara, and tried to return it without approaching the Blue House by throwing it up there, but it took a funny bounce and rolled instead down the side road to Ruined Cabin, which has been sitting in a sad state since the Loma Prieta quake, cannot be torn down since the right to build there is grandfathered as long as some walls are still standing, but cannot be rebuilt until the fines are paid for all the work that has been done without permits.
It was the first possible day for the sheriff to put up the five-day tag, since Monday had been Martin Luther King Day, and I doubted this would be a priority for them, so I thought that rather than drag it out to the latest possible date, I would try to evacuate before the tag even went up. So I drove my Toyota down the driveway, for the first time since the barricade, and loaded up almost everything. I decided to leave the Crown of Thorns, with an old note from Maureen, “Thank you Bob, dear friend,” although I kept every other note that Maureen had ever left for me, and on the desk I left the V-J newspaper, “PEACE – Shooting Ends in the Pacific”. There was still time, so I walked the grounds again, taking a plastic skull, left behind by a group who played at Earth Dance, from the knick-knack basket, to take it Up Top to Rob-and-Jean's old place, where I found one of the shoes fallen from the tree and reset it. Then I saw a square of mirror glass, like the one I had left between Blue House and Tiger Lily, and when I picked it up found that it was actually two squares of mirror glass stuck together back-to-back, so I thought I should make a square of mirrors, if I could find another, which I promptly did, but it slipped from my fingers and vanished, unseeable in the mud, so, clearly not that one, but soon I saw another. As the skull seemed to be telling me I was Up Top to retrieve and not to leave anything, I left it in my pocket while I set a mirror south of the Blue House, pointing my open right hand downward in the mudra of “calling the Earth to witness” while intoning Om Kurukulle hrih to invoke the demon-eater, walked around to make sure I did no circumambulation of the Blue House to set a mirror west, raising my left hand in the ha-Shem gesture better known as Spock's “Live long and proper” while intoning Zama zama ozza, rachama ozai, a chant attributed to Jesus in the Pistis Sophia asking to hear the True God above, and set a mirror north, then struck my chest with both fists and spread them wide while intoning P'u yose, in a fake Native language of my own devising, more or less Penutian, intending to say, “No more murderousness.” I walked by the mirror at the east in silence, wondering what to do with the skull, but then I recalled Wayne telling me that if I had anything to say to Lori, I should leave it in her mailbox.
That night I dusted and swept the yurt thoroughly, wanting to leave as little work for Dara as possible, scouring any sticky spots on the floor, wearing my broom from the Kitchen down to such a frazzle that I decided it was a suitable donation to Lupin, although I had intended taking it. I left the key in Dara's golf cart, with a note that, no matter what Redhead Diane might have lyingly said about me smoking in the yurt, forcing Dara to clean the fabrics, Tiger Lily was one place I had avoided smoking, in accord with the rules I had agreed to, however strongly I had refused to abide by new rules imposed by others, and as I had no envelope to enclose them, I used a scrap piece of paper I had found with a partial printout of one of my old e-mails to Lori, about the services I performed for Lupin, which seemed appropriate for a last leaving. But afterwards, Maureen told me that Dara had simply disappeared for a few days, due to whatever upset, as Adam had done in the angry times immediately after the first payroll failure, so I don't know when Lupin got the key back.
Wednesday morning, as Glyn walked up to the Restaurant for breakfast and the staff meeting, he waved back at me, perhaps a goodbye, the first time he had acknowledged my existence in any way since the weekend of the power cord. I told Maureen it was my last day, which turned out not to be true, as I needed to come back the next week to pick up one last piece of mail that had evaded the post office's forwarding, and found that the sheriff tag had indeed gone up, pointlessly, and that the door to Tiger Lily was locked, a contempt of court once they had invoked the sheriff's aid, since if I had changed my mind and wanted to retrieve the V-J paper or Crown of Thorns or even the frazzled broom, they had no right to obstruct that until the tag expired, but what else is new? It has also never crossed Lori's mind that I put down a damage deposit at the beginning which she has never offered to pay back, so it will all have to be settled in court.
That Wednesday, Maureen took me and Dan the landscaper up Sal's Canyon, where I had never been, returning through the secret way to the Back Forty with its multitude of stay-away signs, none too soon since Maureen's leg has never quite been right since the encounter with the graywood bench. Dan told me some of his life story, how he had retired to the countryside after conscience qualms about working for defense industries, much of which work had been in Pittsburgh, a town where I had also spent much time, and of course how Glyn had promised him a place at Lupin for life, in lieu of any monetary compensation for all his labors, until Lori threatened to evict him. Maureen was surprised to learn that although Dan and I had often seen each other around, and had heard a great deal about each other, the two of us had never spoken until then. He wondered whether it was possible for me to appeal my case, which of course I can do, and will do, but I told him I was evacuating anyway since the place no longer felt like home, as he could well understand.
Maureen had the impression that she owed me $4, since Amy had had the impression that she owed me that sum for gas money, and had given it to Maureen thinking me already gone, but as it was my impression that, even accounting for recent cigarette purchases, I was more in debt to Maureen than the reverse, I told her to forget it. Of course, I was also not going to press Manny for the library fees, and while Lonnie might be said to owe me for one pack, as it was not my fault it had been stolen, I owed Keif one pack, for the time he offered me $5 gas money and only had a $20, and I had told him I would give him three packs in change but only had two, and then never got the opportunity to give him the third, so since it is my impression that Keif owed Lonnie somewhat, let us call that all even. I found the lids for the Wayne State and Macomb Community College coffee mugs which had vanished, so it is possible that Lupin owed me two coffee cups, but on second thought it is likely that the Wayne State cup was actually left at Cabrillo and Lupin only owed me one. In any case, as I drove away from Lupin, straight into a glorious rainbow, I only took one of theirs, the “Bobby” that nobody wanted. In town, I bought some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and ate them all by myself.