“Don’t make any major changes in the first year” … they say at AA. Matt Scudder has five or six weeks not to decide what he’s going to do about Jan, a girl he sees Saturday night and Sunday morning …
“Some people say not to make any major changes for the first five years… or even ten,” Jim, a fellow AA member, tells him.
After a meeting at St. Claire’s Hospital they walk home and Jim says:
“Something Buddha said as it happens: it is your dissatisfaction with what is that is the source of all your unhappiness..”
I said: “Buddha said that?”
“So I’m told, though I have to admit I wasn’t there to hear him. You seem surprised.”
“Well,” I said, “I never thought he had that much depth to him.”
“That’s what everybody calls him, and what he calls himself as far as that goes. Big guy. Must stand 6′ 6 . Shaves his head. Belly out to here. He’s a regular at the midnight meeting at the Moravian Church but he turns up other places as well. I think he’s a former outlaw biker and my guess is he’s done time but…”
The look on his face stopped me.
He said: “the Buddha. Sitting under the Bodhi tree, waiting for enlightenment.”
“Listen, it was a natural mistake. The only Buddha I know works at the Moravian Church.”
Making amends is step 8 of the 12 step program, and Jack Ellery is making amends when he ends up dead. His gay, persnickety, over-responsible sponsor has Jack’s list of amendees. He tells Matt Scudder that maybe he should “look into” whether somebody on the list is a killer. Matt Scudder does.
Dry, sidewalk humor full of alcohol and hotel rooms and pre-digital middle aged uncoupled city men. But also, that wry twist of fate that takes Order and Organization and runs over it.
This time, the Order is the Big Book and its steps: specifically step 8. How rules make themselves flesh, and how that flesh moves it’s rules around life and institutes life in their image.