A Single Eye

A Single Eye by Susan Dunlap Read Free Book Online

Book: A Single Eye by Susan Dunlap Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Dunlap
Tags: Suspense
out and headed up the knoll. “You better get moving, Darcy. Accommodations here are first come first served, and for even the first it’s no night at the Ritz.”
    Sweet man! He was the one thing I’d be sorry to leave here. I took him by the shoulders—he wasn’t much bigger than me—and eased him aside.
    â€œI can handle the cacao. Just point me to the kitchen.”
    â€œYou don’t—”
    â€œHey, you know I’m a tough broad, right? So move it, you hear!”
    He laughed. His face relaxed slowly back to his usual quizzical look, as if he couldn’t be sure he’d laughed quite long enough, or if he’d asked everything he wanted to know or—It was that ever-present or? that summed up his normal expression. But now he passed through that and sighed as if he’d weighed and made a key decision.
    â€œOkay. That way, up the hill.”
    Before I could get my hands on the bag of beans, he had turned and yanked it into the barrow. The move must have taken every bit of strength he had. I put my hands proprietarily on the barrow handles. The air itself suddenly seemed still and thick, as if it were cementing us both to this pivotal moment.
    I took a breath and said, “Leo, I’m trusting you not to mention my work to anyone. I hope you trust me.”
    His eyes closed a moment; he seemed to be considering longer than necessary, certainly way longer than polite. My stomach went cold. But it was too late to gulp back my secrets.
    I swallowed, and said, “I have to be straight with you. My teacher, Yamana-roshi, was very worried about the roshi here, and now that I’ve seen him I can understand why.”
    â€œWhat did he say?” he asked warily.
    I hesitated. I couldn’t tell Leo Yamana’s private message to the roshi. But I had to get Leo’s assessment of this guy.
    â€œHe said your roshi here was a deep teacher, that he would see into me.” I wasn’t even looking at Leo. I was afraid his face would be blank, walling me out. “But it’s been years since Yamana saw him, and I would never ever say Yamana-roshi was wrong, and yet, well . . . I dropped everything to come . . . I can’t work with a man like that, who’d yank me out of the truck so he’d have more room to wag his finger at you.”
    Leo stared at me. Then his bushy eyebrows shot up, his mouth sprang open and he guffawed.
    â€œYou thought he was the teacher here?”
    â€œHe’s not?” Who is he, then?”
    â€œRob, the roshi’s assistant?” Just how appalled I was came through my voice.
    Leo laughed again.
    The jisha —roshi’s assistant—is the one closest to the roshi himself. It’s he who watches over the roshi’s schedule, reminds him when he’s falling behind. He brings the roshi his coffee in the morning, checks with him last thing at night, and is in and out of his quarters ten times during the day. If the roshi ponders, he’s the one in front of whom he ponders. If the roshi questions how things are going in the zendo when he’s occupied giving dokusan, it’s his assistant’s assessment he trusts. And when students are desperate to see the roshi in dokusan and the line seems endless, it’s up to the assistant whether he tells the roshi, gives the student an encouraging pat on the shoulder, or does nothing at all.
    â€œHow can Rob be the jisha?” I demanded. “He’s the last person . . . How come the roshi didn’t choose you, Leo? When people come to a wild place like this, they need someone like you they can count on, someone who cares about them.”
    A woman rushed past us toward the knoll. The final words chanted at the end of each sesshin rang in my head: Time swiftly passes by and with it our only chance .
    â€œIf he’s not the roshi, then who . . .”
    Leo started to answer but I knew before he got

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