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James has dreams in which he’s abusing drugs and alcohol.
He revisits some of the places he’s been while on drugs. He wakes
each time struggling to remember the good in his life and reminds
himself that he has more than he needs. In the shower, he observes
that he’s becoming more of a human being. He tries once more to
look himself in the eyes and finally succeeds, noting that they
are pale green. He goes downstairs to smoke a cigarette and have
a cup of coffee and sees Leonard coming back from a jog. Leonard
asks James about Lilly. James asks how he knows. Leonard says Ted
told him. James sits with his friends at breakfast and talks about
the upcoming Heavyweight Championship. Matty knows both the fighters.
Joanne and James talk about the Twelve Step program. James still
refuses to follow it. He hints that he does not like churches and priests.
Joanne insists that the program is not about God. At lunch with
Leonard and the usual crowd, Bobby, the new man, starts talking
trash about Mikey the Nose. Leonard doesn’t make a move, he just
watches Bobby more closely. After lunch Ken approaches James and
asks him to sign a release so that the facility can start helping him
to resolve his legal issues (James is wanted in three states).
Ken also tells James that he’s worried about James hanging
out with Leonard. He tells James that Leonard is involved in the
mob and that being involved with Leonard could hurt James somehow. James
tells Ken that Leonard is a trustworthy friend and that he does not
intend to stop being friends with him. Against his wishes, James’s
parents have enrolled in the family program and are arriving from
Japan the next day. James is livid but controls it. He leaves Ken and
goes outside to think.
He meets Lilly at their appointed place and time and tells
her about the girl from his past. He tells her that he fell in love
with her but that when they were at a bar together he was arrested
by the local police and the FBI for dealing drugs. The girl from
James’s past told him that she wanted him to be who he is around
her and not some person that she heard bad stories about. James
agreed to try, and they got together. Lilly says that she wishes
she were the girl, because she wants someone to love her. James
tells Lilly that his parents are coming tomorrow and that he doesn’t
want them to. She tells him he’s lucky to have parents who care
enough to come.
James goes back to his room to find Miles sobbing. He
goes back out again. At dinner Leonard tells James that members
of the facility staff have been asking him about his relationship
with James and James’s relationship with Lilly. James walks back
and watches TV. The show is about a group of ER doctors treating
a heroin addict. James goes back to his room, and Miles is still
crying. James leaves and spends the rest of the night watching TV.
As life settles into a routine for James at the facility,
he begins to explore more spiritual questions and seek deeper answers
than he’s pursued before. Joanne’s conversation with James sets
the stage for him to question the idea of a faith and a God who
may be able to help him through the process of healing. But it’s
not until Ken reveals that his parents are arriving that James really
feels a need to find a calm place. In his walk outside just before
he meets Lilly, he questions nature and life and all that is around
him. He wonders if it is a God-given landscape, or if it is simply
something that is. He wonders if he can label the
beat of his heart, the feelings that are within him, as being God-given.
After much thinking, James settles on the thought that
what he seeks is calm, and that he is the only one who can generate
the calm that he needs to make it past the obstacles that life throws
at him. He gets one example of self-imposed calm when he observes
Leonard listening to Bobby talk trash about Mikey the Nose. Leonard
keeps his feelings in check, when he must be seething on the inside,
listening to someone he doesn’t respect at all talk trash about
his adoptive father, but Leonard is old enough and wise enough to
know that violent action at the moment would not be nearly as effective
as just staying calm and quiet until he can really do something
about the situation. Another good example is James’s new roommate,
Miles, who seeks his own solace in his clarinet playing and in his
own private moments: when James walks in on Miles crying, Miles
doesn’t acknowledge him and just goes on doing what he needs to
do to get through the tough times.
James finally tells the story of the girl he knew in school.
He recounts an encounter with the local police, which consists largely of
the police making ridiculous accusations and James playing the young
tough guy. The story seems to have no bearing whatsoever on his
later problems with the girl in his past, except to set her up for total
disappointment. Lilly doesn’t seem to be interested in the girl either—she
is more interested in how James feels about her, which serves
to underscore the fact that Lilly is real and the girl in James’s past
is just that: a girl in his past and nothing more. Lilly interjects
a further reality into James’s life. She grew up with a mother who
sold her to buy drugs, so she is encouraged by the fact that James’s
parents want to come see him for the Family Program.
One very telling moment in James’s day is his experience
at dinner, just after he sees Lilly. Seeing her has “filled” James,
momentarily, and he now has a heightened sense of when it is that
he feels he needs something. He’s come to grips with the fact that
he is constantly feeding some addiction or another and that Lilly
is a type of addiction for him. Therefore, he makes a conscious
effort at dinner not to eat so much that he throws up, as he’s done
in days past. He eats one soggy fish stick after another, bite by
bite, slowly, until he clears his plate. He remembers Leonard’s
advice to just hold on and follows it until something else comes
along for him to do.
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Million Little Pieces!