Chip Delany and my father were waiting for me outside of Shakespeare & Company when I arrived to do a reading of the final chapter of Codename Prague, “Codename Prague,” in which the code that authorizes and empowers the novel, baffling readers like a monochromatic Rubik’s cube, is unlocked, revealed, and disseminated across the universe. It was raining. They stood under tiny black umbrellas and sipped espresso from tiny paper cups. I walked up and they sort of snapped to attention, hurriedly finishing their espressos and tossing them aside as if they were illegal. Chip spoke first. He said he was very concerned, etc. My father agreed and said it was time for an intervention, things had been going on long enough, etc., etc. Back and forth, they went. I remained silent, polite, thoughtful.
A fight broke out.
Dad and I started pushing each other in the chest, and then he took me by the elbow and shirt and applied a tia-toshi judo throw, pulling me over an outstretched leg and slamming me against the slate-plated street. He’s a third degree black belt and still very limber, quick and capable despite being 68 years old. A staunch pacifist who even has reservations about theoretical violence, Chip, also 68, leaned over and tried to help me up, and Dad applied hiza garuma, placing the bridge of his foot against Chip’s outer knee and wheeling him head over heels into a stack of books covered in cellophane. His hair and beard swallowed his face like a wet mop. Panting, I crawled over to Chip to see if he was ok, and my father chided me, intoning, “Your sentiment will be your destruction.” I told him that was a line from The Shield and that he killed Samuel R. Delany, one of the greatest African-American science fiction authors of all time, despite his personality, which we could and should excuse him for. In fact Chip was a “very good guy,” I admitted, and it was my father’s son, D. Harlan Wilson, who was The Asshole. Dad agreed. Then the Sûreté Nationale pulled up and threw us all in a paddywagon (Chip was alive), or tried to; Dad deflected and flipped and swatted arresting officers out of the way like winter coats thrown at him by low-ranking children of the corn, and then he leapt behind the wheel of the paddywagon and drove us across the Pont au Double bridge to Notre Dame and then backtracked across the bridge and we tore down the Quai de Montebello, the Quai Saint Michael, etc., and in the end we were drinking table wine and eating baguettes in a café overlooking the Parc de Monceau, feeling refreshed. It had stopped raining and the waiter gave us towels to dry off. Everybody was happy, an ephemeral emotion, but we talked and laughed and drew out the emotion as long as we could before shaking hands and going our separate ways.