Seven or Six Things or Nothing Philip K. Dick Left At My House in Fullerton, California, with annotations

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A long, knit scarf. For cold weather. Which we don’t get here. It doesn’t seem like something he would ever wear. He must have borrowed it? He left it hanging on the coat stand. Maybe it wasn’t his?

A fish necklace. A silver necklace of an ichthys, an ancient Christian symbol, but also, as he patiently explained to me, used by Greeks, Romans and other pagans. It slipped behind the radiator and almost got vacuumed up with the dustballs. He never missed it. Did he believe what he had said about it—that it had brought him visions of a past he could not know but still remembered of a life persecuted in Ancient Roman times? It is glinting in the sun on the window sill where I left it. If it meant so much, how could he have forgotten it?

His last dime—the date on it is from the future. He left it on the kitchen counter as “rent” after sleeping for a week on my couch. I had just asked him when he would, maybe, leave. He slammed his last dime down, declared what it was and left. I yelled, “don’t forget your scarf,” but he did. Maybe it wasn’t his scarf? Maybe I never met him? Maybe I only remember meeting him—which is not the same thing? What does the scarf prove? I’m certain it proves nothing more than the dime from the future which cannot exist now but does anyway. I accidently spent the dime so I don’t have it anymore.

Two paperbacks. One was an Ace Double, which is two novels stitched together back to back, and flipped, in relation to each other. The two novels were Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Conqueror and Leigh Brackett’s The Sword of Rhiannon. I left it on the reading stand in the bathroom; it’s gone now…I don’t know where. The other book was Ursula Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven was left in the backseat of my car…not, technically, in my house, I know. But I took it inside and shelved it in my collection, where it sits today. The Le Guin novel is really good, although I used to own a lot of those Ace doubles when I was a kid and I miss them.

A manuscript, written by Phil in some ancient language I can’t identify that he claimed not to be able to write before he wrote the manuscript itself. It looks like random marks, but supposedly a professor of ancient languages at Cal State Fullerton looked at it and said it was authentic. That’s what Phil said. As far as I know, it never left the house, where he wrote it in three days of ceaseless activity (except when sleeping on the couch as if dead) while I ignored him except when he would ask me to spell something and I would say, “I don’t know, I don’t speak ancient whatever.” And he would say, “oh,” and go back to typing. The manuscript is stored in a small box now used to keep the door between the kitchen and the back room open. The back room was converted from a porch into a room and so has thin walls and is often cold. The box is sort of wedged under the door and works really well as a doorjamb. I don’t think Philip K. Dick ever existed. I think he is an effect of existence itself. Like a box sort of wedged between things. I know that’s a lot to lay on you. When I think about it all too much I like to go into the back room and sit in the dark and watch the stars fading as we light up the sky more and more with our artificial lights. One day we will be able to pretend to ourselves that there are no stars and we will have made ourselves the center of everything until the dark reclaims us. When all these sorts of thoughts have subsided, I come back out of the back room and carry on.

A toothbrush, with warped bristles, that I gave him when he asked if I had a spare. He left in the old plastic cup holder shaped like the Hello Kitty figure Badtz-Maru, open at the head. I have a new ceramic holder shaped like a Tardis where I keep mine now. I threw his used toothbrush out, of course, a long time ago. But I haven’t thrown out the old holder because it’s like a photograph of something, like a memory. But I sort of need the space. Philip K. Dick lived the last ten years of his life in the OC. I never met him. He just left these things at my house anyway. That’s the truth…I just thought you should know.

A sealed, 9 x 12 standard brown envelope, left under a couch cushion. I held it up to the fluorescents in the kitchen. Inside is a locker key for, maybe, a bus station or airport. There is also a set of instructions, and things I can’t identify. “Open me” is hand written across the flap, but I haven’t. Sounds too much like Alice in Wonderland. You can have it if you want. Just send me a message or think really hard about what you want and maybe I’ll know what to do. Or we can ask Phil, I think he knows.