Karen Brennan


For a while I was devoted to a guru and, as such, was referred to as a devotee. This yearning to know the future. I could have become a drug addict, but I chose the guru. I sat on a cushion in a vast hall that once hosted Borscht Belt comedians. I tried not to think about it. My wife made me a chocolate mousse but the antlers got stuck in my throat.  Doctor, I hear a ringing in my ears. Don't answer it. The good old days. There were remnants—a seedy red velvet curtain, edges frayed, flanking the stage upon which my guru sat silently on his throne.  A cigarette burn in the parquet floor near my cushion. Mirrors everywhere, gold-framed and glitzy. There had once been laughter and cigarette smoke. There had once been cocktails in glasses shaped like tulips, tiny umbrellas twirling inside them, drunken tuxedo wearing men, ties askew, stumbling around. A woman in a green gown, hair in a sleek chignon, could have been me. She sat like a manikin, face frozen and unamused, her spidery eyelashes weighing down her eyelids like cages. She smoked a cigarette with a white filter and, after a while, she draped a scrap of mink around her shoulders.