Myron started to cry.
Deep, bone-crushing cries, full-body sobs. Just when he thought he couldn’t cry anymore. Something inside him had finally given way, and now he sobbed without pause or letup.
Myron heard the bathroom door open. Someone leaned against the stall door. Dad’s voice, when he finally spoke, was barely a whisper. “I’m fine, Myron.”
But Myron again saw Dad at Yankee Stadium. The ink-black hair was gone, replaced with the gray, fly-away wisps. Myron saw Dad challenge the bearded man. He saw the bearded man rise, and then he saw Dad clutch his chest and fall to the ground.
Myron tried to shake it off. No choice really. But he couldn’t stop thinking about it. And he couldn’t stop worrying. Worrying had never been his style in the past, even when a crisis loomed. All of a sudden he had the worry-queasies in his stomach. It was true what they said: The older you become, the more you are like your parents. Soon he’d be telling a kid not to stick his elbow out the car window or he’d lose it.
Win met him in front of the auditorium. He was in classic Win pose, eyes level, arms crossed, totally relaxed. He wore designer sunglasses and looked ultrasleek. GQ casual.
“Problem?” Win said.
“I thought we were going to meet inside,” Myron said.
“That would mean I’d have to listen to more of Sawyer Wells.”
“Imagine, if you will, a Mariah Carey—Michael Bolton duet,” Win said.
Win checked his watch. “He should be finishing up now. We must be brave.”
They headed inside. The Cagemore Center was a sprawling facility that featured oodles of concert and lecture halls that could be cut to any size by sliding walls back and forth. There was a summer camp for young children in one room. Win and Myron stopped and listened to the children sing “Farmer in the Dell.” The sound made Myron smile.
“… the farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell, hi-ho-the-dairy-o, the farmer in the dell …”
Win turned to Myron. “What’s a dell?” Win asked.
Win shrugged and moved on to the main auditorium. There was a table out front selling Sawyer Wells paraphernalia. Cassettes, videos, books, magazines, posters, pennants (though what one does with a Sawyer Wells pennant went beyond Myron’s capacity to imagine) and yep, T-shirts. Groovy titles too: The Wells Guide to Wellness, The Wells Rules for Wellness, Key to Wellness: It’s All About You. Myron shook his head.
The auditorium was packed, the crowd so silent they’d put the Vatican to shame. Up on the stage, jittering to and fro like Robin Williams in his stand-up comic days, was the self-help guru himself. Sawyer Wells was resplendent in a business suit with the jacket off, shirt cuffs turned once, fancy suspenders cutting into his shoulders. A good look for a self-help guru: The expensive suit makes you reek of success while the jacket off and rolled-up sleeves give you the air of a regular guy. A perfectly balanced ensemble.
“It’s all about you,” Sawyer Wells told the enraptured audience. “If you remember nothing else today, remember that. It’s all about you. Make everything about you. Every decision is about you. Everything you see, everything you touch is a reflection of you. No … more than that—it is you. You are everything. And everything is you.”
Win leaned toward Myron. “Isn’t that a song?”
“The Stylistics, I think. Circa early seventies.”
“I want you to remember that,” Sawyer continued. “Visualize. Visualize everything as you. Your family is you. Your job is you. When you’re walking down the street, that beautiful tree is you. That blooming rose is you.”
Win said, “That dirty commode at the bus terminal.”
Myron nodded. “You.”
“You see the boss, the leader, the breadwinner, the successful, fulfilled person. That person is you. No one can lead you because the leader is you. You stand in front of your opponent, and you know you can win because you are your opponent. And you know how to beat you. Remember you are your opponent. Your opponent is you.”
Win frowned. “But don’t you know how to beat you too?”
“It’s a paradox,” Myron agreed.
“You fear the unknown,” Sawyer Wells ranted. “You fear success. You fear taking chances. But now you know that the unknown is you. Success is you. Taking chances is you. You don’t fear you, do you?”
“Listen to Mozart. Take long walks. Ask yourself what you did today. Do that every night. Before you go to sleep, ask yourself if the world is better because of you. After all, it’s your world. You are the world.”
Win said, “If he breaks into a rendition of ‘We Are the World,’ I’m using my gun.”
“But you are your gun,” Myron countered.
“And he is my gun too.”
Win considered that. “So if he is my gun and my gun kills him, it’s a suicide.”
“Take responsibility for your actions,” Wells said. “That’s one of the Wells Rules for Wellness. Take responsibility. Cher once said, ‘Excuses won’t lift your butt, ’kay?’ Listen to that. Believe that with all your heart.”
The man was quoting Cher. The crowd was nodding. There is no God.
“Confess something about yourself to a friend—something awful, something you’d never want anyone to know. You’ll feel better. You’ll still see that you’re worthy of love. And since your friend is you, you are really just telling yourself. Have an interest in everything. Thirst for knowledge. That’s another rule. Remember that it’s all about you. When you learn about other things, you are actually learning about yourself. Get to know you better.”
Win looked at Myron, his face pained.
“Let’s wait outside,” Myron said.
But luck was with them. Two sentences later Sawyer Wells was done. The crowd went ballistic. They stood, they applauded, they hooted like an old Arsenio Hall audience.
Win shook his head. “Four hundred dollars a pop.”
“That what this thing costs?”
“He is your money.”
People approached the stage, stretching their hands toward the heavens in the vain hope that Sawyer Wells might reach out and touch them. Myron and Win watched. The table with the Wells paraphernalia was swarmed now like rotting fruit with buzzing flies.