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    "What does that mean?" I asked, looking up at him.
    "Your memory's blocked."
    "We knew that."
    "No, completely blocked. Did you get anything at all?"
    "Hm. We may need to try something more complicated. It could be dangerous," he added.
    "I have to know what's going on."
    Lucky wandered in about then and provided a considerable distraction. Her hair is blonde now. Her eyes are actually blue—she's been wearing brown contacts since I met her. She's given up on the stark black, at least to the extent that her T-shirt is grey. And she was actually smiling a little.
    "Coffee isn't good for your nerves," she said, nodding toward my forgotten mug. "Would you like some herbal tea?"
    "Uh—sure." In a few minutes she was back, cup in hand. "Yelch," I commented, still staring at her.
    "Sorry. Forgot the honey."
    With that addition it was almost drinkable. She sat down on the floor and tried to convince me that everything would be OK, which I simply can't believe—not then and especially not now.
    Then she told me that she had killed one of the Blood Boards yesterday, the one that had hit on her. Crushed his throat, deliberately. She doesn't want to do it again, hence her visit to Chandler, trying to clear away some shadow from her past which could lead her to such an act.
    I can't deal with this, not on top of everything else. What the hell am I supposed to do? Tturn her in? My life has... evaporated, I think I'm having a nervous breakdown, and she has to tell me something like that?
    Fortunately, Chandler interrupted the conversation, searching through his shelves of collected items and muttering to himself. "This is going to be more complicated, but I think it'll work. I'll have to purify you first."
    "Fine. How?" I just wanted to get it over with.
    "A sweat lodge, I think."
    "Oh, that should be easy to find around here." We're in the middle of Boston, for chrissake.
    "Easier than you'd think," was his unflappable response. "Look, this is going to take a while. Why don't you go out, find something to do?"
    "I'll just make myself more tense." I stayed put.
    "It's not going to do any good if you're pacing around here making yourself tense, either." He appealed to Lucky. "Get her out of here? Find something, anything."
    "No problem," she agreed cheerfully. Too weird.
    "Fine," I gave in with poor grace. "Suddenly everybody else knows what's best for me."
    "Super-heroes," Chandler muttered as we left. "Put 'em in a costume and they turn into children. Come back in a few hours."
    Lucky actually knew what she was doing. She took me to a geisha house she knows. They massaged and acupunctured me and fed me sushi. When we left I was 90% knot-free.
    Chandler had set up a dome of animal skins directly in the middle of his special room. It looked pretty strange.
    "OK. You'll have to get undressed."
    I rolled my eyes, but complied. Chandler gave Lucky a pointed look; she gave him an innocent one back and looked blandly off in some other direction.
    "Get inside."
    I crawled into the dome. Cedar wood had been carefully arranged in the center, no doubt forming a significant pattern. Chandler sprinkled some herbs on the wood and snapped his fingers; smoke billowed up immediately.
    "Neat trick. I'll have to learn that sometime."
    "It's not hard, but less useful than you might think. Does look neat, through. Breathe deeply."
    He covered the entrance. A small, dark space; I felt comforted immediately. The smoke seemed to be flowing through me, penetrating deep into my body. It had a few rough moments, I sensed, with the alterations I had made to my nervous system, but eventually worked through those as well, and soon I felt entirely calm and relaxed. I could feel my senses expanding, aware of Chandler outside, waiting patiently, of Lucky in the other room reading a book, of the rats in the cellar. I was floating off the ground, perfectly calm, and I must have stayed that way for a while because when Chandler opened the "door" he told me that it was five in the morning, and that he planned to finish this before dawn.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson