BAND REHEARSAL did not go well, especially because of the lockdown, and I consoled myself with a pot of soup in the hotel lobby that, to my surprise, had a remnant of a human hand in it, complete with hairy knuckles and fingernails. I glanced at the description of the soup on the wall and saw it was marked ‘H’ for human. I spit out the soup and furiously searched my memories. Had I ever had Hand Soup before? I hoped that I hadn’t but I couldn’t be sure. Wasn’t this cannibalism? How were they okay with this? It seemed like a decent hotel. Why was human on the menu? Was the COVID economy really so bad? After the rehearsal, most of the other musicians walked to town. Even though the country was locked down, there was still more to do in Oslo than just sit around in a hotel. There were parks to linger in, for instance, and store fronts to inspect. Still, it was rainy and bleak, and one could only imagine the onset of existential angst that would occur when faced with shuttered up Norwegian bakeries and bistros. I left the hotel anyway, decided to stroll around Oslo. From the port I took a ship for warmer waters, and not too long after, I felt the sun on my face in the Albemarle Sound of North Carolina. We came along the swampy coast past the Alligator River and passed under the fort left by those first colonists at Roanoke Island. The Swedish Chef was with me, and I wanted to introduce him to my friend Graham, the Hatteras Indian, who still lives in these parts in the vicinity of old Indian Town. Graham met us and invited us out to dinner at a fine restaurant, and we dined beneath the portico. From our table, we could see pirate ships moored in the harbor. Not much had changed on Hatteras in the past few centuries, Graham had said, pouring us some fine Carolina red. He had his hair braided in the traditional fashion and later took us along the shore to inspect the pirate vessels. At dessert, Chacha, a Kashmiri socialist agitator whom I had known in college, also joined us for cake and politics. He inquired how I knew Graham the Indian, and Graham furnished a photo from some party in the mountains in my school years. I had no recollection of this party, but there he was, younger, with his braids, and there I was with my turtleneck. On the back of the photo was written, “West Virginia, winter ’94.” The whole thing was so puzzling, plus the fact that both Chacha and the Swedish Chef were also in the photo. What had we all been doing partying in West Virginia in 1994? How did I not remember any of this? It just made no sense.
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