THE CRYSTAL TIGHTROPE-edit-Feb2013

(a work in progress)

© copyright, January 1, 2009

Review and beginning of 3rd book of

Harlequin Moon Trilogy

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Everything goes wrong and then ultimately everything goes right for Santiago–but he keeps hearing a voice whisper in his mind, "A crystal tight rope. It’s as dangerous to walk on, as it is to fall off."

Santiago’s first two books become international best sellers. He is miraculously declared free of disease. He finds that a large bank account can make him happy, for a while. He rents a house in the hills above Santa Barbara, California. He buys a Mercedes Benz and a three thousand dollar Armani linen suit.

The Assassin’s Angel, Martina wanted back in the picture. Santiago, said to her, “You know, I already paid the price of admission more than once…I just don’t feel like seeing the movie again...eh, today..."

He discovers the truth of Dark Eyes.

Yes, he knew there was something very odd about sex with Dark Eyes. My God, he had no idea they could do that to a penis.

The other puzzlement, Dark Eyes. The half brother of Martina. Had it been an accident their paths crossed in Paris? Was it orchestrated?

Also; the brutally murdered dirty-old-Corsican-sheep-herding-grandpa…what was that about?

As for Neil, his life long friend who had been his accidental savior in Vietnam and co-partner in lust with Martina, why was he back in Corsica?

The very strange coincidence of hearing about the “odd bloke who wore no underwear under his kilt” also had been connected to Yokomi,…instead she arrived with a Frog, Santiago nicknamed “Toy Boy”.

Who does he wind up with – Neil, Martina, Dark Eyes, Yokomi, Leila, or someone not even seen yet?

Where is Leila, the ex-wife , and Tara, the daughter?

What ever became of the Gypsy?

At the end of the second book, Santiago no longer can discern fantasy from reality.

Santiago discovers having everything can be nothing too.

He returns to America with a woman he did not even know 24 hours before, the new woman in his life.

THE CRYSTAL TIGHT ROPE by K.J. Wolverton

© January 1, 1986

ALTERNATE BEGINNINGS, meanderings and NOTES

1. The Mural Olympics

2. The Tribal Arts Festival

3. The End Time Mighty-Ark and who helps build it

4. The 13 voyager story tellers of the Mighty-Ark.

                                1. J. Schnook, 2. M. Scudd, 3. Ricky Rosco, 4. Tattoo Tanya, 5. Thaana, 6. Haunted Mad Dog Hank,

     7. Molly the Guitar, 8. Boring Cookie Baba, 9. Snookered Sashay Sue, 10. God as Its self, 11. Lucy Fur Who Wants To Be God, 12. Doubting Bill, 13. Santiago.

5. story teller alternates:

     Phil Le Gree, China the Dog, Shadow the Dog

PART ONE

The title and notes above were in the cheap diary Santiago had in his jacket at the time of the accident. He did not remember where it came from or who wrote the words in it. He did not even know who he was. He was waiting for that lady to come back. Santiago decided to read a little of it...

***

RECAP OF FIRST TWO BOOKS OF THE HARLEQUIN MOON TRILOGY

I mean, here were the six women who had caused more than heart-ache. And there was his friend who had saved his life in Vietnam. Later, Santiago wanted nothing more than to murder his friend. Next to him was his Angel, the Assassin's Angel.

Martina, one of the six, looked at him with that lustful hook she had used so many times and said, “You can have me again if you really want it. “ She was ready to jump back into her old stories and his new life.

“You know I already paid the price of admission to you more than once…I just don’t feel like seeing the movie today, eh, maybe tomorrow."

"You can find me in Paris when you change your mind," He thought Martina said, in the way she had lured Santiago many times before. She was like a ventriloquist, because he never saw her mouth move.

He then looked at the truth of Dark Eyes, in fact number six. Yes he had been making love to a man. He/she not only turned out to be transgendered woman , but now that they were side by side, it was obvious Martina and Dark Eyes were siblings. They looked so much like Duke de Pascal.

The other four loves were singing some kind of strange folk song. He thought they were nuts.

As for the old Sheppard murdered up in the mountains? He was the grandpa that got sliced to pieces by Dark Eyes and Martina…revenge for years of childhood abuse. In Corsica no one would open their mouth. Justice had come to an honorable end.

Another bit of truth was just too funny.

Being suicidal did not help Santiago on his return to America in 1968. It was manifest karma he accepted when he was told he had terminal cancer by a VA doctor. And later, thinking he contracted positive HIV from Dark Eyes, his death wish was in full swing.

But hey, who would believe our government could confuse documents as well as identity? Geez, really unbelievable, yes?

No.

The truth was some other poor jerk was happily dying without knowing about it. After all, he had Santiago’s records that showed he was a perfect physical specimen.

The most ironical truth was revealed by his old friend Neil when he told Santiago what had actually taken place in My Lai.

“But I remember raising the M16 and squeezing off a full clip at the people…I remember,” Santiago said.

“I’m telling you, I saw what happened and so did George. If he was alive he would tell you the same thing. Sergeant Gomez next to you opened up on all those people then got blown away by the old man sniper that hit you first. Santiago you were unconscious when the rest of the company opened up on all of the villagers---you shot over their heads. I saw all of that just as the MED-EVAC came in. I was the closest one to you and that’s why I carried you. George helped me lift you into the chopper."

“I was the assassin..."

"What the officers ordered in My Lai was inhuman---it was the same in a hundred other villages. Did you ever hear of the Tiger Corps or what the fuck ever your government called it? War is organized insanity and you were part of it but you never killed those people. It was Sergeant Gomez---you were not the assassin. You shot over them, I saw it I swear. Oh for God’s sake Santiago. I thought you knew.”

"I saw their bodies…I believed…”

“You believed wrong Santiago. Forget that, and forget Vietnam. Nothing will bring anybody back, including 56,000 or so of your own. Live now Santiago.”

Santiago looked at Neil wondering if truth is ever found. Someday the memory of My Lai may disappear. Vietnam was a lifetime ago. He didn’t know what to believe.

Neil's voice became soft and serious. “I don’t want to talk about Vietnam or any other war. Thirty years of photographing murder and I have had enough. Tell me about a world away from war. Tell me about a life that can be changed. Tell me about life that is beautiful.”

Santiago hesitated, feeling the ironic complexity of losing a burden that never existed, a burden that had made him crazy and not care about a life through years of desperation and madness. It was a bad joke. The consequence of over 30 years of guilt could be lost in a millisecond, if he chose to believe Neil.

What the hell, it didn’t matter now; there was so little time no matter how you look on it. Life is big, but life is short.

He looked at Neil, then at the six women he had loved, two dogs and the Angel in his life.

He didn’t know what to say. The world would always have ghost files of useless information.

Santiago heard a voice in his head "...to return to where one begun, and know it for the first time..."

***

Not knowing who he was or why he should write anything, he began writing a story, involving a character, he thought was a stranger. He did not know it was the third book of his life.

October 23, 2004

Santiago had a pastis. It would be his last pastis in France. He had completed the journey begun more than a quarter-centaury before. He did not remember anything about it. Even his own name. The name Santiago McBoil belonged to a stranger. He wanted a name, any name. His mind was almost a perfect blank.

***

Hello, God here, just thought I would throw in some details:

Santiago was sitting in AU LONG COURS, a small corner bistro on the pedestrian precinct near the old town of Nice. It was late morning, misty rain was falling while antique vendors set up their usual stalls filled with every kind of trinket treasure the world had regurgitated since the beginning of the 20th century---a very astute shopper might discover an article from earlier centuries, but nothing as a bargain---the collectors had emptied these rare finds long before in the bountiful years of Scot Fitzgerald and Hemingway. The beautiful and the damned now were a form of Euro-flotsam that permeated every square meter of Nice's fashionable streets. The time of American Bohemians had long passed. Santiago was just another tourist.

Corsica flashed in his mind for split second earlier in the morning when he stopped to look at a painting of the sun rising above a Mediterranean coastline. Just for a moment the urge to weep like a baby swept over his soul.

Santiago tightened his lips and walked back into the din of busy browsers. The feeling left him, but the craving for a pastis emerged.

In a few more hours he would be on a plane sitting next to a woman he just met, returning to America. She knew who he was and where he was supposed to go. She didn’t know she was leaving his daughter, Tara, stranded in Corsica.

***

June 1, 2008

Hey! Do you know who is writing this book?

It’s me, Phil Le Gree. I get to do everything here. I get to be me. I get to be the big-eye-in-the-sky that sees everything. I get to be all the dogs, cats and weird-ass populace that pops across these pages.

I like it like that and this is my story and I’m not going to change---not for you, not for them or any big shot publishers that want to squeeze a dollar out.

The fact is, I get to be God and that is damned powerful. You want proof? I can even put you in this story if I wanted to, because there you are, sitting or walking or laying down. It doesn’t matter. Your eyes are on this spot. Right here, right now.

For instance look at this. It is a big black period. Some people might call it a spot, but it ain’t. It’s a very big period, period. Don’t confuse the two.

I’m going to say it again, the thing about a crystal tight rope.

Hey, you say, how can there be a crystal tight rope?

To tell you the truth, that is a good question. The answer is this: it’s as dangerous to walk on as it is to fall off.

That is the real damned mystery.

So anyway, the Big-Eye-In-The-Sky was talking about old times, France, Corsica and a thousand threads that came together once.

I am the carpet woven out of it.

To tell you another thing, if I ever meet the real Big-Eye-In-The-Sky, I’m going to punch it in the N.O.S.E. I don’t care. I might even knock a few T.E.E.T. H. loose.

You know why?

Because I’m one pissed-off S.O.B., that’s why.

But this is how it goes.

I bet you if I met the Big-Eye-In-The-Sky, (abbreviated hence to B.E.I.T.S.) he will say this, “Hey Dude, who is writing this story?”

Why would he be any different from 99.9% of the rest of the mess walking around denying any responsibility to the pickle we are all in?

No one wants to admit responsibility.

General Westmoreland didn’t want to admit responsibility, nor a few generals before or after him. Ulysses S. Grant did, then drank himself to death. I hear even Lt. Calley is beginning to tell of his remorse of taking no responsibility,

There is only one thing to do. Admit complete responsibility and take charge of your actions.

Do it now.

All right. This where the F.U.N. begins.

B.E.I.T.S. is hereafter renamed The Beat. One gets tired of placing all those damn periods, period.

The Beat thinks this: See all of those wiggly things down there? No, I don’t mean your toes or those strange little electrical pulsations going around in Phil Le Gree's mind.

It is something so obvious and endless in the infinite multitudes of chaos. It is all those two-armed, two-legged, one-headed mutations from a source that has no definition of time or space.

It is the human crust of bubbles, never failing to make its ring of skin-scum around the perimeters of the observable bath-tub.

Homo-erectus, the plague and plateau of chemistry gone bonkers---the work of Merlin’s Merlin.

That is thewigglything one must consider, if you read past this page.

***

In the course of his life, Phil Le Gree actually touched seven million, two hundred fifty one thousand otherwiggly things either on purpose or by accidental bum pings.

He passed some kind of communication such as words or lustful hum pings with five hundred, twenty two thousand wiggly things.

Roughly half were male, the other half female, spending on the average three minutes of shared consciousness of being in some space.

Phil Le Gree had some kind of human relationship such as family members, lovers or enemies with two hundred fourteen wiggly things which hence will be known as wiggly bump(s).

He knew one hundred and eleven by name and sometimes thought about their personal history and occasionally considered their welfare.

In the course of his experience, he was on intimate terms with twenty-one.

Six of that group he loved.

Out of the entire mass of wiggly bump interaction he killed six in 2.1 seconds in 1968.

He did not know them or their names or even touched them other than through the trajectory of metal in linear space.

After all the wiggly bumps he encountered in his 64 years of existence, the six who had briefly breathed in front of him for 5 seconds, before he stopped their breathing in 2.1 seconds, affected him more than all of the combined time of all the wiggly bumps he had ever seen, knew or heard of including the six loves who had shared most of his adult passage as a fellow wiggly bump.

2.1 seconds of wiggly bump-off was longer than64 years.

This is a phenomena that is created only through the power of me, The Beat.

I take the responsibility as well as the credit for creating the completely cursed and blessed wiggly bump known as Phil le Gree.

***

October 22, 2004

Thaana knew Santiago was nuts the first time she saw him but she just couldn’t stop herself.

He looked so good dressed up in those black leathers and motorcycle boots, even if it was only a 50 cc MoPed he was on.

There was something so familiar about him, all she could think, was Peter Fonda on that big hog in Easy Rider.

Somewhere deep down in her, she knew she was going to take Santiago to her bed, and he was going to be the best wiggly bump in her life.

It is also true that Thaana was completely nuts.

They were made for each other.

This is how they met. It was an accident. They were both lost in the same

spot at the same time, and I don’t mean period. It is the arrow to the octagon, it is the whisper to the heart. Who can tell why so much comes from so little?

A spot is different than a period because a period may come again and again, period.

But a spot, I should say a true spot, only happens once, period.

***

Above the city of Ajaccio is the valley of the Gravone. The valley runs north to south.

La Gravone, one of the biggest rivers in Corsica, flows more or less down the middle of the valley into the bay of Ajaccio.

There are many little villages scattered on the slopes of the valley such as, Boccagio, Tavara, Carbuccia and Pére on the east slope, and Vero and Sarola on the west slope.

On one particular day Thaana and Santiago both got lost in the Gravone Valley, and through the gold-almighty-power of me, the Beat, they wound up in the same village at the same time.

Thaana had rented a car and was trying to get to the village called Sari D’Orcino which was in the next valley to the west, above the Gulf of Sagan.

She was looking for an old lover remembered from her wild young wiggly bump years in New York.

Her lover had been a Corsican playwright who had his first play presented by a small company in Greenwich Village.

They had a hot night of wine, pot and sex together and said goodbye in the morning.

She returned to her Jewish brain surgeon husband and the playwright returned to Corsica.

Twenty years passed when one day Thaana bought a ticket to Ajaccio and rented the car.

That is the rhythm of The Beat.

Santiago had been on the island of Corsica for over two months. He had once lived on the island. There, he was tested in the fires of lust and love more than once.

It was Corsica where he lost his wife and ran off with a jezebel Corsican who broke his heart not once but twice.

Twenty years had passed since the Corsican hussy had first burnt his bridges and scalded his soul.

Santiago had returned to find her one more time. He planned to murder her and then shoot himself.

She lived in the small mountain village of Pére which the Corsicans pronounced “Parr”.

Somehow is an overused word, for the meeting of Santiago and Thaana was not somehow, it was providence, but even so, somehow they both arrived in the village of Carbuccia at the same spot, which began a new period in their lives.

* * *

T

haana got out of her rented car, when she realized she was in the wrong valley. It didn’t really matter much because she didn’t know why she was in Corsica in the first place.

The lover from 25 years before had only been a springboard in her mind. The memory of him bounced her out of the deep rut life had become in New York City. The village of Carbuccia was a beautiful spot to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

As she walked between two stone houses on the narrow road, she saw an old man dressed in the flat brimmed hat and hunting costume of old days, stop and watch another man approaching on a 50cc MoPed.

The man was dressed in motorcycle gear, black leathers, but on his head was a ridiculous bicycle helmet, the kind that looks like an elongated ostrich egg.

The black leathered ostrich-egg-head man slowed and came to a halt in front of the old man.

At this spot in time, the three wiggly bumps stood within a small circle of only ten feet. The old man was the center. Thaana was fascinated, knowing something unique was going to happen.

The black leathered Santiago slowly released the chin strap of his ostrich-egg helmet, pulled it off his head and said to the old man, “Bon jour.” He did not seem to notice Thaana.

Où Paris?” Santiago said quite clearly ooo-wee pear-ree.

What he was trying to ask was, “Where is Pére?”

Santiago was not good with languages. After years of living in a French speaking country the tongue still escaped him.

The old man scratched his chin in bewilderment, shook his pointed finger in to the northern sky, then said in broken English, “Paris? It is far away, across the sea…a boat…a plane is better. Too long on this little machine…”

Santiago now looked puzzled. “Merci,” he said while starting the MoPed and turned back in the direction he had come.

The old man went to the local tavern in Carbuccia and told the other old men that the tourists coming to the island were crazier than ever. Imagine trying to get to Paris on a MoPed?

Thaana went back to the rented car and caught up with Santiago a kilometer down the road.

Pére lies on the upper road going to or from Carbuccia. Thaana had gone through it on her way. Her understanding of French was as bad as Santiago’s, but she knew what he was asking.

What the old man said went over her head, but not the other old men he told the story. The tale of the mad American tourist on a MoPed would circulate around Corsica for years until it was manifested into The MoPed Rally, Paris to Pére in 2011. That is the power of the Beat.

Meanwhile back to Santiago, just as he was coming to the “Y” in the mountain road, one being the high road to Pére and the other the low road to Vero, Thaana caught up in the rented car.

She honked the horn and cut in front of him. He slammed on the brakes hitting a patch of gravel that sent him somersaulting ostrich-egg-head first into a large granite boulder knocking him out cold as mackerel.

The loaded 38 pistol tucked inside his leather jacket skidded on down the mountain and was found in 2011 by Henri Trousseau, one of the Paris to Pére MoPed Rally racers who had stopped to have a pee in the brush. Henri shot himself in the head after learning he had come in last. The destiny of that pistol was at work.

At the precise moment Santiago was knocked out as cold as a Mackerel, Martina the woman who had broke his heart twice, was seducing the 79 year old mayor of the small village of Pére.

The mayor was senile, rich and madly in love with Martina, promising to murder his legal wife with arsenic so they might be married.

Martina would be the first woman mayor of Pére in 2011, give the first gold, silver and bronze trophies for the Paris to Pére MoPed Rally.

A year later, Martina would succumb to her own madness and complete belief in a Mayan legend by shooting herself December 20, 2012 with the pistol found next to Henri Trousseau’s body. She believed the End Time was the next day, December 21st. She was wrong, but the pistol at last completed Santiago’s dark desire.

The Mayans were wrong too, but not by much. The End Time came in the first week of 2013.

As everyone knows the number 13 has a bad reputation. Yet in the whole world only 13 people survived which gave a whole new story to the bad-assed number.

But I am getting ahead of my story. The Beat knows when to spill the proverbial beans.

H

ello, my name is Thaana. Would you believe it? I ran off just like some kind of lunatic to France---well not really France being Corsica is like a state---you know, like New Jersey is a state even though it’s a pit---but there you are. I mean, there I was. You know what I’m saying? Go figure.

I can’t even remember how I got there I was in such a state leaving that jerk husband of mine in Manhattan. 30 years I live with that schnook and he has the nerve to tell me he is in love with our maid. The nerve!

So what do I do you ask?

I say goodbye Harvey, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out‘a here.

He was gone only ten minutes when I go to the bank and transferred 300 grand to my personal account. Hey, that’s all he had left.

I find out from his secretary Mabel-what’s-her-face, he had three other floozies he was spending his brain surgeon payola on. The guy should’a transplanted his own brain. Go figure.

I mean, last I knew, we had over three million stashed away for our retirement in Florida and there we are down to peanuts. Hear what I’m saying?

So I take the 300 K, put the apartment up for sale, sell the Lexus to Charley, Mabel-what’s-her-face’s boyfriend and the next thing I know I’m on a plane to an island in the Mediterranean thinking I might see a guy I nailed when I was a hot young thing. Go figure.

I was nuts

.

And then for no reason at all I chase a stranger I meet when he falls off his motor scooter.

A lot can happen in a week. You know what I mean?

T

haana didn’t mean to run Santiago off the road. She turned in front of him just as he was turning to take the high road to Pére where he hoped to find his old heart break, shoot five holes in her and with the last slug put it through the roof of his mouth. One rarely fails at termination from that placement of lead, unlike Santiago’s old army buddy Pete, from Mylai.

Pete managed to miss with a 12 gauge shotgun and blew off the right half of his face as well as performing a superb lobotomy. The good thing about it was Pete never again remembered Vietnam or what he did in My Lai.

Thaana was horrified when she saw the man in black leathers tumble off the MoPed and fly into the bush far below the road. “Oh my God,” she said with the hush of New York understatement.

She would have been more correct to have said, “Look what the Beat has done.”

Only five minutes later when she brought Santiago back to consciousness would she be marginally close to personal clarity.

Santiago opened his eyes and said, “Where did you come from?”

“Beats me,” she said.

Santiago McBoil was wearing a thin bicycle helmet when he landed on his head in the maqui of Corsica.

He was lucky he was wearing it otherwise the pointed granite rock that split the bicycle helmet would have split his skull. If he had not been killed, most certainly he would have achieved the lobotomy his grunt-in-the-mud Mylai buddy, Pete, had done with a shotgun.

As it was Santiago got a severe concussion resulting in general amnesia that would last for over six months. He did not know his name, or the name of the woman he had been intent on murdering. He did not even remember her. He no idea of where he was although it seemed vaguely familiar.

In fact, he did not remember a thing. How cool is that?

He was like a brand new wiggly bump---a clean slate without a blemish.

He was born again, with everything seen for the first time except for a strange string of words that kept echoing inside his head. T.S. Eliot wrote the words many years before even though Santiago did not know who T.S. Eliot was or what the words meant.

The words were, “…and the end of exploration…”

Santiago’s mind turned white as the words dribbled away so faint he could not hear them at all. They were like drips of water on a flat rock at the edge of recognition.

Being The Beat, I can have a lot of fun, screwing with wiggly bump certainties.

HEY!

it’s me again Santiago. Don’t listen to the other guy, The Beat. He should be called The Beast because he’s a God-damned thug the way he screws with people.

He treats humanity like a little kid blowing through a soap ring, watching the bubbles glitter for a second before he sticks his finger in them or laugh as they crash and pop. Yeah. He’s a beast and all he wants are death bubbles and killing things.

Family and friends and the government wanted me to kill. One at a time, they took me to their killing rituals.

My dad Jose, gave me a rifle made in 1906. He bought it from another Mexican who stole it from a pawn shop. It was a 33 Winchester. Very few people even know about them, but the slug is like a freight train when he goes through something.

I was 11 years old the only time I went deer hunting with my old man and buddy Pete. Pete was a year or two older than me and he’d been hunting before. When we got older he got good at killing.

But this time was October 1955—the mountains were full of maniacs and the aspen trees were golden. We set off before sunrise and started walking up a valley.

My old man yelled, "Santiago, you stay up on the south side of the hill. I'll walk down through the middle, and Pete can walk up on the north side— so if something comes your way, you just point that thing at it and pull the trigger."

The explosion of the rifle and the way it slammed into my shoulder with that instant acrid smell of gun powder—all of that thrilled me. I didn’t think about what the gun was supposed to do—what it would be like when I killed.

* * *

I was seven or eight years old the first time I killed with the Johnson boys who moved in next door. Jackie, Ray and Lee. They loved killing things. They would invite me to come along to watch them kill. I didn't know what they were going to do. I didn’t know killing.

Ray the oldest,13, took one of the pigeons out of the coupe his father had built. He laid the sacrificial bird out on a board. Jackie and Lee held the bird, pulling its wings out to the side. Ray took a hammer and nailed the bird's wings down. I was fascinated by the pigeon's black eyes and his beak as it opened and closed. A puff of sound was all it made. “Look at this,” Ray said. He took a knife out of his pocket. It was a switchblade that he was very proud of slinging open.

Jackie, Lee and me watched Ray as he put the point of the blade on the breast of the bird and laughed. He looked up at us, and there was something strange in his eyes. He raised the knife up two inches and put it back down poking the blade into the bird's breast just a little. I gasped and Ray laughed again. He raised the knife again this time six inches and looked at it greedily.

“Come on Ray, kill the fucker,” Jackie said.

“Yeah, kill him, kill him!” Lee chimed in.

I looked at Jackie and Lee. They were smiling, the same smile as Ray. They seemed to feel some kind of excitement that I wanted to feel, but I felt nothing. I just stood there watching, wondering if Ray was going to do it.

Without warning his hand shot up 12 inches then slammed knife down. I expected the bird to scream something like, “Don't kill me,” but the black eyes of the bird just got really big and its beak went wide-open. Silence came out. Its eyes fell like skin curtains—the lids slowly dropped over the glassy black as if the bird was going to sleep. It was almost peaceful, almost a dream. I was fascinated. So that's what death is, like going to sleep.

I couldn't stop thinking about the bird going to sleep, how peaceful, how quiet, how beautiful it was. I wanted to kill something. I wanted to see what it was like to send something quietly to sleep, so instantly. I thought about my lizard. He was a pet I kept in a box. I caught flies and worms and even gave him spaghetti once in a while. I wanted to see if I could send him to sleep. I went into the kitchen and took a knife from the cupboard and came back into my room and caught the lizard. I held him down on my table, but the knife was bigger than the body width. If I stabbed the lizard it would slice him in half. That didn't seem like the thing to do. I put the lizard back into the box and went looking for something a little bit smaller.

On my mother’s is sewing machine there was a big pin cushion with a long needle pin that had a fake pearl on the end of it. It was perfect. It was like a fencing sword in comparison to the size of the lizard.

“Right lizard, this is it,” I said, “you're going to go to sleep buddy.”

I took the pin and placed it the same way Ray had done on the pigeon. I pushed down just a little bit. The lizard nearly jumped out of my hand, and I had to hold a lot harder. It was difficult to raise the pin up and down the way Ray had done the knife, so I decided just to put the point of the pin on the lizard’s chest and push down very slowly to see if I could see him go to sleep. I pushed and the lizard thrashed in my fingers. He didn't want to go to sleep at all.

I pushed a little bit harder but the pin was so dull it wasn't going through the lizard’s skin. The lizard was making funny little kissing sounds and its tongue was licking around its mouth. I didn't know whether to stop or push harder. Suddenly the pin went down through the skin and blood spurt out onto my hand. The lizard twisted violently for a few seconds then went completely limp. It was not the same as the pigeon. There was nothing peaceful about what happened in my fingers. I began to feel very bad.

* * *

I heard my old man scream in the trees at the bottom mountainside below me. His voice echoed across the valley.

“He's coming your way Santiago.”

I didn't know what he meant. I thought maybe it was Pete coming up so I stood there not doing anything. I heard limbs and branches cracking. I looked down through the aspen trees and saw something earth colored moving through the white bark.

I didn't think. I raised the rifle and pulled the trigger without aiming. I heard the explosion of the rifle, I smelled the cordite and I could feel a muscle spasm in my shoulder. I was amazed when the deer fell on its front legs only 10 feet from me. There was a bright red gash, like bloody lips the size of a quarter on its shoulders. I stood just looking at the deer as it kept trying to get up on its legs while making a grotesque wheezing sound. It kept falling down on its front legs while its rear legs spread out like it was doing the splints.

“Good going Santiago. Ya’got the son of a bitch,” Pete yelled as he came running up through the aspen trees. My old man was a little further down the hill yelling, “Did he get him, did he get him?”

Pete walked around the deer and said “You sure fucked up this hamburger.”

I was bewildered---kind of shocked. It was too easy to knock down a huge deer by squeezing your finger on a little piece of metal. The wheezing sound continued while my old man ran up to the deer.

“Good Fuck’n shot Santiago! You blew his ass out of the woods!” Pete said.

He had that smile of the Johnson brothers. So did my old man. I didn’t like the look.

I became aware of the rifle in my hands. It weighed a hundred pounds. I saw my old man lips moving but the sound of rasping breath was all I could hear. I slowly walked up to the deer. Pink frothed death bubbles were coming out its nose and mouth. I walked to the other side of the deer and was hit in the eyes like a hand slapping my face.

The bullet hole, the size of a quarter on one side had turned into the size of a dinner plate on the other, smashing bones through the lungs of the deer. The Vesuvius exit of the bullet left a blown-out swamp of bloody dripping meat. The breathing of the deer was gurgled drowning. It was not going to sleep— it was dying a miserable death. I felt bad.

* * *

Thaana had never killed anything bigger than a mosquito either on purpose or by accident in her life. The site of any creature suffering made her deathly ill, and if she saw blood she became faint.

When Santiago tumbled off the road, she ran down to where his twisted body lay crumpled on the ground. Blood was trickling down his forehead from the small tap the pointed boulder made just under his skin. For a dizzying split second the sky swirled in a spiral above her and it was all she could do to force herself to look away from the blood.

She focused on Santiago’s crotch and noticed the zipper had fallen open where below she could see ragged underwear looking like filigreed lace from the wholes.

“Oh my God, I can’t believe this,” she said then began patting his face trying to get a response. “Hey buddy, buddy, I’m sorry. Hey wake up Mr.”

Santiago lay on the ground imitating 150 pounds of thawed out freezer hamburger. Even his black leathers began to feel like slippery wrapping paper under Thaana’s hands.

Thaana’s light taps on his face began to become ferocious slaps that sent tiny skin thud echoes across the valley. “Come on Mr., don’t you dare die on me. You can’t do this…hey are you even breathing?”

She was so terrified her own hyperventilation obscured any sound or movement that came from the limp body under her. It occurred to her the leathery figure would soon become a corpse without CPR, so she knelt over Santiago’s face, squeezed his nose like a mechanic’s vise and began to blow hot puffs down Santiago’s throat.

Instantly Santiago coughed and his body jerked convulsively as he sat up with one eye squeezed shut and the other full of tears and dust. He had no idea what kind of animal was attacking him, except it had very curly long black hair and smelled pleasantly of lavender.

“Mr., Mr., God I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to run you off the road,” Thaana screeched.

“Who are you?” Santiago said as he slowly opened his shut eye and the face of some kind of woman materialized in front of him.

“Beats me,” Thaana said in the predestined checkmate game that was about to unfold. “But who are you Mr.?”

“I am…” Santiago began before the great void of nothing rolled over him, and all he could do was to repeat her refrain, “…uh, beats me too.”

For some unfathomable reason, Thaana and Santiago locked eyes and both began to laugh like village idiots. This was their beginning…

* * *

There are many reasons men and women get together, of which in the thousand of years human kind has wondered around the earth over a ten trillion combinations have been experimented, counting body positions, vocal renditions, philosophical puzzle plans and just plain rape and pillage variations.

Santiago and Thaana did not create any new technique or curiosity spark. He liked the deep brown color of her eyes and sugary bouquet that wafted off her hair. She liked his shiny black leathers and sharp angled nose hanging over a long bushy beard. But there was one thing they intuitively responded to—they liked the taste of each other. I don’t mean style, I mean the juices they shared when Thaana blew the kiss of life slurping down Santiago’s mouth and he unconsciously gargled back into hers. Love at first sip.

Another odd phenomena occurred. Being his brain had been bonked on the granite rock, Santiago’s mind was somewhat similar to a baby duck coming out of the shell. His first compulsion in seeing Thaana was to follow her where ever she waddled.

She on the other hand, had never given birth to a child, although her entire female spirit was designed to nurture something, although thus far she had only care-taken homeless cats and dogs. If Santiago wanted to follow her home that was all right by her. He was just another innocent creature she could protect from the calamities of the world.

This where it all started; the taste of a mouth and following the leader. Also this is where it all ended; the life they knew before.

Because of a fork in the road and a little gravel, Santiago and Thaana were welded in destiny to become two of the last 13 people on earth who would survive The End Time.

It is true that both Santiago and Thaana were eccentric if not down right crazy before they met each other. But on one hand Santiagowas cured of his nightmarish insanity by the God-Almighty-Whack-On-The-Bean, that gave him a six month vacation from the memories of betrayal, murder, mayhem and rage.

Santiago became like Einstein’s equation, in which the fundamental force of gravitation is described as a curvedspace-time caused by matter and energy…uh, that is the equation determines the metric tensor of space-time for a given arrangement of stress-energy in space-time…oh screw it, in other words, something in Santiago’s brain was not disappeared, it was just transformed. Santiago began believing the voices and dreams that came in the next six months, were the direct messages of me, The Beat. Screw Einstein. Santiago’s brains were scrambled and he needed my help.

That’s right, God in the control tower, was directing traffic.

Thaana just wanted to believe in something, in fact almost anything would do, if it was real. I mean really real, not just in the flesh real. She wanted a dream to believe. Santiago would in reverse activity, show Thaana the way by in fact following her.

* * *

When Santiago stopped laughing, the first thing he noticed about lying in the dirt looking at a woman with very beautiful warm dark eyes, was there was a sweet fruity and booze taste in his mouth. He liked it.

The second thing he noticed was the woman was fiddling with his fly zipper trying to pull it up, except his ragged underwear was caught in it. What was odd about this was he knew what a zipper was and what it was supposed to do. He also knew what was under the torn shorts, but he had no idea why he was sitting on the ground with a woman he had never seen before.

At first it was peculiar but not frightening. In fact it seemed completely natural, and quite possibly he had always been there with her. She smiled at him and kept asking if he was all right.

“Sure, sure, I’m fine. No problems, uh, mam…”

“Who are you?” she asked again.

That is when the whole thing became a little scary if not just weird. He started to answer her again, but the problem was he did not have a clue who he was, or for that matter, where he was. He was on the ground, sitting in the bushes with an odd woman fussing over him. The sky was blue, the air was warm and he could see down to the foot of a valley where there appeared to be a shoreline and some kind of big lake or ocean shining to the horizon.

“I’m…I’m…I’m…”

“That’s okay honey, you just sit here for a moment and then I’ll take you to a doctor…oh my God, I hope I haven’t hurt you,” Thaana said.

“No, I’m…uh, I’m…okay, kind of...” Santiago wasn’t sure what was wrong with him but something was different. He saw the leather chaps and coat. He saw the split bicycle helmet and the bent up MoPed laying a few feet away. The road sign poked up over the woman’s head and he could read the name Pére. It all seemed familiar.

That is when he heard the voice. It was me The Beat. I said, “Shut up you moron and follow this woman where ever she goes.”

“Okay,” Santiago and looked at Thaana like a baby duck.

***

Thaana managed to get Santiago up on his feet and supported him as she walked him up to the rented car.

She drove to the village. A black-haired attractive mature woman was standing in the door of what looked like the village community center. Thaana asked her if there was a doctor near.

Thaana did not ask in French, nor did she think it peculiar when the woman answered in English, that the closest doctor was in Ajaccio, twenty kilometers away. The woman never took her eyes off Santiago, while he sat in the car looking like a blank black-board.

Thaana looking in the rearview mirror saw the woman come out into the street and watch as her and the stranger sped off in the direction of Ajaccio. Santiago smiled and felt like something creepy and painful had just evaporated. He never felt better, although, he had nothing in his mind to compare another day.

In Ajaccio at the emergency room in the hospital, Santiago was examined by an indifferent intern who found nothing wrong with him other than a large goose egg on his head. The intern mumbled in French to watch out for prolonged head-aches or any other abnormal condition which might occur. He gave Santiago a small packet of aspirin.

It was at the hospital when Santiago took off his leather jacket, an envelope fell on the floor. Thaana picked it up and discovered it contained a return Delta airline ticket to Nice, going on to London then Atlanta and ended in Albuquerque, dated for 7:00 PM on this day. There was also ten thousand Euros, his passport and a tagged key to a locker.

It was 3:00 PM. Thaana gave him the envelope and its contents. She wasn’t sure if the man on the passport photograph was him. The man was clean shaven and appeared years younger. The man in front of her had the beard of Methuselah and was apparently 20 lbs lighter and a lot older.

“Is all of this yours? I mean, hey is that really you?”

Santiago looked at the passport and the money. He did not remember a thing about either but he knew the key was his and instantly saw a bundle of books and bound manuscripts in a wall locker.

“Well? Is it you?” She asked again.

“Gee, I don’t know…I mean, the key is mine and something is mine in a locker, but I don’t know who that guy is…”

“Have you got a wallet?”

“A wallet?”

“Yeah, you know, where guys keep their rubbers in their back pocket.”

Santiago reached in his pocket and pulled out a folded brown leather wallet. He handed it to Thaana who held it like a bomb about to blow.

Thaana flipped it open, finding a social security card, a New Mexico drivers license, an AAA card and a Bank of America debit card. The license and the debit card had photos on them. Both were clearly the man in front of her.

“You’re Santiago McBoil?”

Santiago looked at her blankly. “I don’t know.”

Whadda ya mean you don’t know? You hiding from the law?”

“Honest…I don’t know. I just fucking don’t know,” he said as though he was walking on quicksand, and would be swallowed at any moment. His body tensed and his eyes closed to small slits.

“Ah come on honey, its all right…everything is going to be okay,” Thaana said seeing he was upset. “It was just that bang on the knob you got baby…probably just a simple case of temporary amnesia.”

“But I am somebody!” Santiago wheezed.

“Yeah sure you’re somebody. You’re Santiago McBoil unless that is an alias on the cards.” She put the driver’s license and debit card in front of Santiago.

“That’s what I look like?”

“Baby it’s either you or your twin bearded brother. The question is, what do you know? What about the ticket and the dough and the key?”

“Fuck knows. I have no idea except for one thing,” he said digging his fingers into the strands of his beard. ‘The key, its mine and I put some papers in a locker…they’re mine.”

“Where are they?”

“They’re…uh, I don’t know…”

“Why hey, they gotta be at the airport, cause look that’s the airport here isn’t it,” Thaana said holding Ajaccio’s Campo del Oro airport tag attached to the key.

“I guess, I don’t know. God it seems right but why?”

“Baby, one way to find out. We go to the airport and get what’s in the locker, then you will probably just flash and remember everything, right”

Santiago looked at her. Deep down there was something in him that did not want to know what was in the locker, or remember who and what he was. All he really wanted was how he felt when he first saw Thaana and they were laughing on the hillside.

“Anyway baby, it looks like you’re leaving the island in just a few hours…the ticket you know, it’s got your name on it too.”

“Yeah, maybe that is the thing to do…yeah lets go.”

***

It was only a few minutes in Ajaccio’s afternoon traffic to get to the airport. When they found the locker, Thaana opened it dreading a chopped up body would fall out on the floor.

Inside the locker was nothing except a yellow copy of a document for freight shipped to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was shipped express two days before, weighed twenty kilos and was in a box 25 X 40 X 30 centimeters.

They checked luggage to be sure it was shipped out. It was gone. They asked the clerk if he could track it.

He looked at them pitifully and made the hand gesture of rigid fingers wiggling on a rubbery wrist, which in France means something between Murphy’s law and the fickle finger of flying fate.“Putain de merde, it coood bee eenywherruh… perhaps it ees steel in Nice…normally they wait until the plane load theen sheep eet,” the clerk said.

“You mean it could still be in Nice,” Thaana asked.

“Why not?” the clerk said and turned away.

Santiago and Thaana stood looking at each other for a moment.

“Shit,” Santiago said. “Who in the fuck am I?”

“Look, I have an idea. Why don’t I come with you to Nice, and maybe then we can find out who you are and what you are supposed to be or whatever…I mean, I am sick of Corsica anyway and was thinking a big city would be more fun…hey I even have my bags in the car, and this is where I rented the car…hey baby, it’s almost like I’m supposed to go with you, you hear what I’m saying…”

***

There is a theatrical game, called WHO’S TO MOVE NEXT. At this point in time Thaana and Santiago began their version of the game. There was no script, and no consequence of what ever choice one made but to continue the game until its natural conclusion.

One either ran out of guessing, or guessed at a junction of crossed paths which one was supposed to follow. Thaana decided for Santiago, being for him, one choice made just as much sense as any choice.

His memory did not come back in Nice, so Thaana chose to travel with him to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was her fault he fell on his head.

Santiago watched the world around him like a kid in the zoo for the first time. Everything was so familiar yet so undefined. He had completely lost what his connection was to any of the people or places he saw, even though he sensed he was part of something. The fact was he had left his grown daughter Tara, in Corsica to fend for herself.

Tara had no idea of the accident nor realized he was no longer on the island. She assumed he had run away with the young Japanese slut he had been lusting after for weeks and that infuriated her. She would show him by disappearing with a young Corsican who was madly in love with her. Let Santiagoworry about her for a change.

Meanwhile 5 miles in the sky Thaana was quizzing Santiagoabout what he did know. At this point, not much was the answer. The only thing he knew for certain was a desire to create—but what?

Thaana rationalized that once they were in New Mexico, he would find the box he had shipped, and the information in it would break the spell of amnesia. Anyway, the longer she was near Santiago, the cuter he got. It was kind of like finding a fuzzy little lost puppy.

The flight was uneventful, other than Santiagocould not stop laughing at the feature film,Snakes on Planes. Thaana did not see the funny side to it and started looking nervously under nearby seats, as well as curling up best she could in her seat.

Ten hours later, somewhere between Atlanta and Albuquerque,Santiago went into a deep sleep and his head fell onto Thaana’s shoulder. She kissed his forehead and pulled the thin plane blanket around them…..

God here,

hah, you know I am fucking with you if you notice there are five periods above instead of three which technically is nonsense.................

Don't count but seventeen periods do not make technical sense either.

Fuck you. I don't care.

I am God. I can do what I want to do.

What I want to do is to tell a story that will make you laugh because you deserve to laugh. Why not? LIFE IS UGLY.

I quit.

God.

THERE we go, suffer, suffer.

Hey this is Santiago McBoil and who is surprised that life is ugly? Life is also more shit than you can swallow. Too bad huh?

.....

Hello, helloooooh out there. This is Thaana and I just can't figure why we just don't like each other.

God here,

okay, okay, can nobody take a joke? So I didn't quit.

God speaking here.

Over?

Jesus, you'd think it was their blood they are spilling when you know as well as me, I am the only One who really suffers around this joint.

These wiggly bumps and their whining just pisses me off. Just yesterday I was talking with my old nemesis and alter-ego Lucifer about the quality of this human-pity-putty and he agreed with me. It just ain't the same as say back in the time of the Greeks and Romans. I mean those wiggly bumps really knew the pure quality of refined suffering. Hitler is the only jerk since Caligula that almost raised the ante...

Well, what do I know?

 

I'm only God, God dammit.

 

HOWDY,  it's me again, Santiago. I don't know what I said last, but then again, I've just recently remembered I was Santiago.

I met Thaana and although I don't know why, I am sure I knew her some other place, some other time. In fact the other night I had one of those weird ass dreams where it is really detailed and it's just like the real thing and then in the morning you remember everything. The remembering is the weird part.

 

This is how it went...it was me, but I was like another guy.

 

Thaana was talking to me. She said, "Nothing is linear in the observable vastness, there is nothing but infinite meandering, especially memory, so what I tell you are the points of a cog on a giant wheel that rolls for no reason at all..."

 

She told me the bullet missed her and bounced around the bathroom walls before it rolled to a full stop on the red carpet in the door to the hallway.

 

"It just lay there, a little shiny lump of hot bent metal." She spoke to it. "You missed me, hah, hah."

 

"Yeah, that's a coincidence," I told her. "The first bullet I knew, whizzed right in front of my nose. The second bullet was somewhere out in front of my face. The third one kissed the back of my neck. You missed me," I said. "I don't know if I went hah, hah, but those bastards were looking for me."

 

That was the dream. I woke up at three A.M. and started thinking a funny idea that had been coming into my head ever since I met Thaana on that high mountain road in Corsica.

 

It was this: If there had not been a flood, a big flood, the bridge over highway 10 may still be there where it was built on 8 huge concrete abutments, each 3 feet thick, 28 feet wide and 22 feet high. But there had been a flood, a big flood, so the wooden bridge 300 feet long was picked up off the 8 concrete abutments and carried 25 miles down river to the Gotchasnapee dam.

 

My cat Snowball, doesn't give a damn the bridge wound up on a dam. He dreams of hallucigenic lizards with blue bellies.

 

The little town of Locorado is three miles south on old highway 10. 365 people live there and not one of them gives a damn the bridge has been gone since 1958.

 

But when I found out the river had swept the bridge away, I happened to be the owner of the 8 huge motherdunking concrete abutments, that reached into the puffy little cloudy sky of New Mexico for no apparent reason at all.

 

It was when Penelope, our local postmistress, told me she saw the river pick up the bridge like it was a banana leaf, that I heard an odd burning voice deep in me say, "Build a Mighty Ark."

 

I didn't pay much attention to it as I had just smoked some reefer and anyway, it had already been done. Once was enough.

 

Of course that was a few years before I met Thaana who seems to be a spirit with art and is much madder than me. But since she has come into my life, I keep hearing that burning voice. It is a chant now.

 

Build a boat, build a boat.

 

On the other hand, if the bridge was still there, I would not be the owner of 8 colossal motherhumping concrete architectural lumps, and I would not be thinking about building a mother-scooter-cybernetic-space-age-celluloid-multiple-split-apart-make-your-own-life-boat-Mighty –Motherdunking-Ark.

 

Well, one thing leads to another and like in the dream nothing is linear in my infinite meandering mind, and so I came up with a plan here in the last few months with Thaana.

 

THE PLAN

 

Build a giant pod-like Mamaship made up of 14 independent Babyships on top of the 8 huge concrete thingamabobbies.

 

After the worst scenario of the worst possibility, that is when the BIG BLAST* comes, and the whole damn motherwhumping Mamaship gets tidal waved off the 8 concrete docking pillars, the main idea is that at least ONE of the Babyships might survive...

 

BIG BLAST SCENARIO

It is late spring of 2013. The worst winter in the entire recorded history of winters. Five times more snow pack than ever known before has accumulated in all regions of the northern world, while unbelievable drought and floods have racked the southern hemisphere.

On April 1, snow has been falling for 24 hours, 30 miles directly east of
Los Alamos, New Mexico in the Sangre de Christos mountains.

In the Locorado basin, 40 miles due south southeast of Los Alamos, more than 6 feet of new snow is dumped onto the 12 feet of snow that has been on the ground since Thanksgiving 2012.

At precisely
12:12 A.M. a unusually warm Chinook wind begins to blow.

At exactly
3:00 A.M. Los Alamos is attacked by an Al-Qaeda nuclear suicide squad.

The small nuclear war head they have smuggled into the center of
Los Alamos detonates and sets up a chain reaction of several fusion bombs that have been assembled in the Los Alamos labs.

All of it blows. Tornado winds carry the energy and heat directly into the Sangre de Christos snow and glacier covered mountains. Everything melts in 1.7 minutes.

A giant wall of water roars down the
Pecker Valley into the Locorado basin.

300 feet of water roars at 70 MPH down the Locorado River towards the 8 huge concrete motherthumping pylons the Mamaship sits on with 14 Babyships loaded with 280 squabbling terrified people, 24 dogs, 17 cats and a secret population of 300 pack-rats, and 4,000 mice.

***

Hi there, Thaana here. The funny thing is Santiago thinks he met me someplace before and for a while I thought, yeah, life is small, and like maybe he was that hippy friend of my ex I fucked one night.

But when we picked up that package in L.A., he had mailed when he was in Corsica and I discovered it was the proofs the publisher had sent back to him for final corrections, like that is when I read about Big Fat Thaana, and you know like the nerve of him he thought I was that big fat slob. I never saw the guy before
Corsica, you know what I'm say'n?

So then I read on about
Santiago's Thaana. Now I'm not even sure if there was one or two other crazy women with my name. The publisher thought Santiago should ditch the chapter called Happy Valley something or the other...

***

MASSACRE AT HAPPY VALLEY

 

This is my story or at least my version even if other people who survived are going to tell it another way.

 

My name is Thaana. I’m so embarrassed how I got into this condition.

 

I haven’t always been baldheaded and fat even if I always have been much taller than most people including men. But I don’t know where to begin to tell you how I got stranded outside of my trailer standing with no clothes on. It just all happened so fast.

 

If it hadn’t been for that mean old man Elmer, it wouldn’t have gotten so bad.

 

Of course there was Worthless Jimmy Retro, but everyone around here knew he was absolutely no good. The way he was carrying on with that bitch Harriet, it’s no wonder it turned out the way it did.

 

Well, to be truthful it was my big mouth that couldn’t keep shut that is to blame, but probably what was going to happen was written in the stars and my mouth just made it happen a little sooner. Still, I do wonder what happened to that weird artist guy and the Mexican gal that dog they took away.

 

Well, this all is so confusing isn’t it? I guess I should just tell you how it all started. The problem is, in a place like this, who knows how things began to unravel. It was a tragedy from the beginning.

 

One thing for sure, it is a complete mess now and I expect the police will be arriving soon. Boy, are they going to be surprised to find the Deputy Sheriff buried with that slut Harriet and Worthless Jimmy Retro. They will have to take my word for what happened.

 

I seem to be the only one still here with my eyes wide open. Me and the Mexican’s mobile home are the only trailers still left standing. Of course the Mexicans just disappeared because they knew the cops would be here pronto, and them with no papers and all them kids, no wonder they’re gone.

 

One thing for sure, Harriet’s husband Wilbur sure flattened most the whole damn trailer park.

 

I moved into the place about a year ago. At first I was depressed as hell about moving into a trailer park. I was in my trailer number 10 for about a week before I noticed the manufacturer’s model name. You know what? They called it the “Pontiac Chief.”

 

At first I laughed at the ridiculousness of such a name, but then oddly enough somehow it made me feel better. The name made the trailer park seem kind of glamorous even though it is the worst place I ever lived. I knew I had hit the bottom one morning when I looked out the window and saw for the first time what it looked like -- what it really was – a white trash trailer ghetto.

 

There were only ten trailers. All of them were built in the early fifties. That was before they called them mobile homes. That lying pig, Elmer Retro lived in number 1. He owned the place and he called it the HappyValleyMobileVillage.

 

That name was crap.

 

Every word was a lie. Happy? It was the saddest place I’ve ever been. Secondly the trailer park was as far away from a valley as you can imagine. It was out in the middle of parched badlands. The only thing mobile about that place was the way all the trailers were melting into the ground. The only movement of this place was due to gravity and rot that was pulling it to the earth.

 

To call the place a village was the biggest lie. It’s more like an encampment of hatred. Anyway, ten molting trailers with only a handful of people who never talked to each other was hardly a village. The location of the place was dismal as anywhere I ever been.

 

It sat next to the intersection of Mud and Water Street where the traffic roared 24 hours a day. To add to the volume there was the Interstate 10 which was only another hundred feet to the west. On the south side, right across the street was the truck stop. Generally about 20 to 40 big rigs were parked there and at least a dozen were moving all the time.

 

But that doesn’t matter much being those damn truckers kept their trucks running 24 hours a day. There was the noise from those clicking diesel engines but worse were those angry little generator motors that cooled the cargo down.

 

Of course all of that seemed comparably quiet to when the train rolled through a dozen times a day. The train track was between me and the truck stop. The trains blew their whistles for miles away to warn the truckers at the crossings. By the time they passed the trailer court they shook the pictures off the wall. Once I was in the bathtub and the train caused so much vibration the water had waves like the Pacific. It was scary. But the trains were kind of enjoyable because they just sliced through time like a big noisy cleaning machine.

 

The noise and that really bothered me was the slamming and banging that came from the beer bottling factory just on the north side of the trailer court. For some reason the delivery trucks loaded up between midnight and 5:00 in the morning. The forklifts made a kind of irritating chunky noise but it’s the darn sliding and crashing sound of the retractable doors on the back of the truck trailers that drove me nuts. The sound was something like you imagine a toboggan would make if it came sliding down an icy shoot and crashed into a metal wall. It took me nearly two months to get used to the noise before I could sleep.

 

 

I wouldn’t have lived here at all except for two things. I didn’t make enough money to live anywhere else and I work as a waitress over at the Travel Inn Restaurant at the truck stop, or that is, I used to work there because I expect things will change now. The truckers were nice enough but they don’t tip worth a damn.

 

Still the convenience was something. I could just walk across the street and be at work. I don’t really like walking since I gained all of this weight, but I didn’t really have any choice. My little red Toyota truck finally died at 307, 000 miles. You know I would drive the 100 ft. over to the truck stop if the thing was running. Still I guess the walking did me some good. The bad part about the job was the boss could send one of her boys over and nab me for an extra shift any time one of the other waitresses didn’t show up.

 

I haven’t always been a waitress. Like I said, I haven’t always been fat and baldheaded. In fact back a few years ago I still retained some beauty and charm. That was before the treatment started and I lost all my hair. I was good looking, I had a career and I was going places. As far as I could see, my freelance work as a photographer was something that would never change.

 

My work had actually fulfilled a childhood curiosity. You see from the very early age I was kind of a paparazzo. Of course when I was a child I didn’t have a camera, but I had a photographic memory, or at least I imagined every time I saw something really interesting my brain would go click, and I stored the image in there somewhere. It’s because of that ability that started me at a very early age being what some people call a “peeping Tom,” or in my case a “peeping Thaana.”

 

I guess I was that sure enough. I don’t even know when it started. I might have been five when I used to go to my parents’ bedroom door when I heard all the noise and banging of their bed hitting the wall. I would stand in at the door and look through the keyhole and just see the top of daddy’s butt as he pumped away on mama. I had no idea what they were up to, but it made me laugh and I couldn’t stop from watching. Later on I was so curious I even cracked the door open to get a better look. That is, until the old man caught me one time and beat the living hell out of me.

 

I better explain something. He wasn't really my daddy. He was just an old man that took to my mama and he stayed around so long I started calling him daddy.

 

But I’m not telling you how Happy ValleyMobileVillage was a trailer court of desolation, or how I fell to the earth as a lowly waitress. I was more than that in the good years. I was not only a photographer, but an intellectual.

 

If Steinbeck was alive and young he would have found Happy ValleyMobileVillage and continued the theme of Tortilla Flats.

Everybody at HappyValley was down and out but sort exotic characters -- kind of like a weird cross between The Rolling Stones and skid-row winos. They were like mental patients, drug addicts, and bandits, illegal aliens and old men hiding in trailers with rubber women. So what the hell is this all supposed to mean?

 

It is probably easier just to explain trailer by trailer and describe the contents that fill each of those dismal cavities. I can’t think how I can do this and not mess with your mind, but what the hell. If you want to know about a bunch of sick and hateful people just hang with me for a while longer.

 

I’m exaggerating just a little bit for the effect of drama, but some people make me wonder how humans get through life. I guess it is because there are some people that make you believe life is worthwhile.

 

For instance, there was that weird artist, Santiago, and that gal of the illegal Mexican family. I think her name was Gypsy Queen, but that doesn’t sound Mexican to me. Anyway, they were the only two people in this hellhole that had some element of human decency, but it was the dog -- I’m talking about the dog owned by that damned evil Elmer Retro – it was that dog that brought them together. Well, it was the dog and that crazy old man in number seven, who let the dog loose and then got beat by Elmer.

 

People like Elmer shouldn’t be allowed to own animals. It used to break my heart to see that poor dog on that short chain out there in the rain and the snow and the sun and whatever could punish him from the world. Elmer, and his ugly wife, just didn’t care. To the Retro’s, that dog was just a beast that was born to suffer.

 

All that is over now of course, and who knows where Santiago, and Gypsy Queen and the dog and that old man from number seven have gone. Good for them is all I can say.

 

I might as well start at the beginning.

 

You see, it was Elvira, that was Elmer Retro’s wife, who met that fat slob husband somewhere back in the fifties I am told. Elmer and Elvira, what a combination -- with names like that they were bound to meet each other and they were so mean and spiteful I guess it was natural they found each other. People are always saying the longer someone is married the more they look like each other. Elmer and Elvira both look nasty from the beginning I bet. They just deserved each other and with names like that it’s no wonder they wound up looking like a couple of matched cracked old marbled bowling balls.

 

All ten trailers was laid out in a long skinny kind of “U” shape. Five on one side and five just kind of opposite. Elvira and Elmer, they owned of HappyValleyMobileVillage. They live in the front trailer number 1 right next to the gate -- that is, they used to live there with that worthless son of theirs, Worthless Jimmy Retro, but I don’t think any of them is alive right now. They kept that poor dog chained right at the front gate so it was impossible not to see the dog every time I came into the trailer park.

 

Next to their trailer was number 2, the trailer of the truck-driver Wilbur. I never did know him very well, even though he used to take most of his meals at the Travel Inn when he came back off the road. He was gone most of the time and when he did come back it was only for a day or so. It was a funny arrangement, but his wife who lived in number 3, the trailer next in line, which was right next to the deputy sheriff’s trailer, number 4.

 

From my position at number ten, which was right across from number 1, I could pretty much keep tabs on and the coming and going those who visited her. When Wilbur the truck driver came home, I used to watch the ritual between that weird pair. He would stand at the door and knock for a few minutes before she would answer. Then I would hear him begging and pleading to let him in. The poor man would almost be in tears before she would open the door, and that was always after he had taken out his pay envelope from his shirt pocket and showed her as she peeked through the window. It was pitiful. She would crack the door open and he would pass it through.

 

Sometimes she would just slam the door and tell him to come back when his pay was a little bigger. I would hear him say that he had bills to pay and that was all he had. Usually he would keep begging until she would open up the door. But sometimes she would just go back to her bedroom and turn music on real loud and ignore the poor man. After an hour or so I would see him slump his shoulders and he would go back to his own trailer.

 

I have no idea what gets into the head of some men that they could love such a nasty human being, but he sure did have something for that wife of his. I know one thing though she was absolutely no good.

 

It wouldn’t be an hour after the truck driver had driven away, that I would see that Worthless Jimmy Retro shambling down from his parents’ trailer and just step into Harriet’s trailer like he was the rightful husband, and sometimes the deputy sheriff would just walk in. It didn’t even matter, if Worthless Jimmy Retro was there. He would go in and damn if I wouldn’t hear sounds like monkeys in a zoo for the next hour or so. They would start playing music and get drunk and make more noise than the whole damn truck park, beer warehouse and railroad put together.

 

Worthless Jimmy Retro would keep visiting Harriet until the truck driver’s paycheck ran out then he’d go back up and sponge off his parents again. Worthless Jimmy Retro was one despicable little bastard. I saw him kick that dog more than once. Some people just aren’t worth the time of day. As far as the deputy, I sure think he had a few kinks in the his head, cause he only would drop in Harriet’s whorehouse if Worthless Jimmy Retro was there.

 

On the other side of the deputy was number 5, were the illegal aliens, the Mexican immigrant family. They had six kids and all of them were boys except for Gypsy Queen. She was the oldest so she had to watch after the whole pack. The family seemed to be nice enough, and I think it was all her father could do to keep them alive with the money he made at his construction job. I expect he was a common laborer by the amount of dirt I would see on his clothes every day. I think Gypsy Queen must have had to wash all of their clothes by hand, because her hands always looked so red and she was everyday hanging the laundry on the clothesline in the front yard.

 

I used to watch her out my bedroom window and I saw the first time that Santiago came over and talked to her. Santiago is the weird artist who lives with his drug dealing daddy in number 6, across the way from the Mexicans. I think I might have fucked him once in Portland a few years ago when I was dealing drugs. Who can remember such stuff?

Number 7 had already melted into the ground and I guess nobody lived there but rats and crack-heads.

 

Next in line was number 8 and it must have had some problem, cause people would move in, be there a day or two then move out. I bet you the Retro's never gave them their rent back.

 

Then there was the crazy old man who lived in number nine. He had all of the shades pulled down, so I could never see inside the trailer but there sure strange noises would come out of the place late at night, like rubber squeaking and hippopotamuses humping. He had a little work shed in front of his yard and every once in awhile I would see him grinding on some kind of machine in there that looked a like a cross between a motorcycle and a sailing boat. The thing was painted all orange green and purple. He came to the Travel Inn to have his breakfast and once I asked him what it was he was building. He said it was a portable sculpture he was going race in California.

 

Well after he said that I figured sure enough he must be crazy as they come. He told me the biggest problem he was trying to figure out with the machine was how he could get the music to play as it rolled down the street. I figured it was better just to agree with him and say that’s nice. I didn’t ask him about the machine after that, but it was hard not to watch him when he was out there working on that thing in the yard. I have to admit I got pretty curious about it, and actually it started looking kind of interesting although I hated the colors.

 

I would see Santiago helping the old man work on that machine once in awhile.

 

Santiago lives with his old daddy who is the local dope peddler. The daddy looks like some kind of ancient hippie from the sixties, complete with the ponytail and missing front teeth. There must be five or six different cars that pull up to his trailer at night time. Usually they’re only there for a few minutes. Everyone has to make a living, so I have nothing against Santiago’s daddy except I could see that he was doing nothing good for his son. Santiago used to come over to the Travel Inn a lot so I got to know him better than anybody else at the trailer camp.

 

I can tell you that he was a very talented and intelligent guy. He deserved a whole lot better than have a drug dealing daddy. I never said anything to him if he had ever been in Portland, as that was maybe just my imagination.

 

Santiago told me all about how he had fallen in love with Gypsy Queen, and had a plan to take her away. He said he was going to steal the dog that the Retro’s chained up. I didn’t believe him.

 

The deputy sheriff worked the night shift, so his deputy sheriff car was parked out front of the trailer all day long. Usually about 6:00 he would drive away and then about 7:00 the clients to the dope dealer would start arriving. That used to strike me as the funniest thing, as I wondered if they actually knew that a cop was just across the row from them. More than likely the deputy sheriff was in on the drug deals too. There ain’t anything that would surprise me about that.

 

It is amazing what can go on in one little incestuous white trash trailer park. Oh my god, this story is more than I can bear and I don’t even know how one can explain the circumstance of so many hateful people coming together in the same space and time. But it is better for me not to think about it at all and just tell you what I know and what I have seen. In fact, everything becomes totally confusing to me because there are several ways I see the details. It’s like a million particles of dust in the air swirling and mingling but no way can you find anything that is connected.

 

Whatever Elma and Elvira wanted in the beginning no one can tell for sure. What is obvious is what they created in the end. The HappyValleyMobileVillage was the place where everyone had something to hate.

 

You could tell just by looking at it. That was because Elmer and Elvira hated each other. Their son, Worthless Jimmy Retro hated them. The dog they kept on a chain hated its masters. The Mexicans hated anyone who wasn’t a Mexican. Harriet hated her truck driving husband. Her husband hated anyone who paid attention to his unfaithful wife. The dope peddler hated the Law or anyone who tried to interfere with his illegal trade. Santiago hated not being a successful artist. The deputy Sheriff hated anyone who worked in the daytime. And I hate just about everything. So I guess it was best that we all should live in such an encampment of hatred. In a way, we all deserved each other and brought the events that happened just as surely as if we had put a coin and the machine and pushed a button.

 

Everything just happened like a small pebble that starts rolling down a mountain because a mouse bumped it, and the next thing you know it has turned into a darn full scale avalanche and half the mountain just comes rolling over you. I was there and I heard the first whispers of disaster and saw the thing get started. It was that Worthless Jimmy Retro that brought the mountain down on us all.

 

It started at lunch time when Worthless Jimmy Retro came over to the Travel Inn to have a greasy hamburger for his breakfast. He must have just got out of bed with that tramp Harriet, because when I happened to walk past him he said to a truck driver he knew, “Yup, makes you mighty hungry pumping a long distance truck drivers wife all night, cause they are on a diet, if you know what I mean…”

 

Well the truck driver he was talking to thought that was funny. I don’t think he was married, otherwise he probably wouldn’t have thought it so humorous. So this driver turns and tells the little joke to the driver next him and the guy laughed because that was what he was supposed to do, or maybe the first driver improved the joke and it was funny.

 

Anyway, whatever from there on it was like that old game they used to call Chinese whispers, because I kept hearing variations of the little piece all afternoon long until about four, which was the end of my shift, when one of the regular drivers, Bubba, who calls me Cutie, came over, took my elbow and whispers, “Hey Cutie, you know why a truck drivers wife never gets skinny?” He didn’t wait for my utter bewilderment.

 “Cause they always get pumped up when their husbands are away—har, har, har…”

 

Well I just smiled at him and gave him my most tip-getting tone of voice and said, “Oh, Bubba, that is just so darn funny, honey.”

Wouldn’t you know it but it was also just then when Wilbur, Harriet’s long distance truck driving husband walks in, and damn, I don’t know what got in me, but I turned back to Bubba and said, “Honey, that is just a scream. Why don’t you tell that sad looking driver over there that story? I bet it will just cheer him up a bunch.” He said he thought he would, and I went into the office to punch out and put all my waitress stuff away. I hadn’t been in the office a minute when I heard the commotion out in the restaurant. By then I had my coat on and was preparing myself for the long distance shuttle of 100 feet to get back to my Pontiac Chief trailer home.

 

My God, I walked out and there was Wilbur just beating poor old Bubba all over the head. I don’t know why, but I just panicked and ran like a scared chicken. Before I knew it I was back in my trailer peeping out the windows as usual. That was about 4:30 p.m. the best I can figure when I see the deputy sheriff come out of number 4 and head for number three.

 

I figured Worthless Jimmy Retro must be at Harriet’s hole again otherwise the deputy wouldn’t be going there. I watched and sure enough that Worthless Jimmy Retro opens up Harriet’s door and in prances the deputy. By this time I am beginning to get a gloomy feeling because I know what I just left in the Travel Inn and some how I know it won’t be long before poor old Wilbur might just show up…the thing is I didn’t reckon on how he’d arrive.

 

I guess it was about 5 p.m. when first I heard all the crashing and banging across the street at the truck stop, and then it was only a few minutes until I heard a whole bunch of sirens that seemed to be coming my way. I went to bathroom and decided to take a shower, because you know when I get nervous like I was then, a shower just seems to calm me down, and damn sure I needed to calm down. I tried not to think about what was going on over there at the truck stop, but somehow I just knew it was because of my big flap. Whatever was happening over there, I had somehow started it.

 

Well that noise over at the truck stop just kept getting noisier and noisier. Even though I had the shower on full blast I kept hearing all this crunching and crashing sound over there. Sirens seemed to be going around and around over there in the parking lot as well. I tried to ignore it all by shampooing my wig, but finally curiosity just got the best of me and I stepped out of the shower to peep out of the little bathroom window which I had to wipe the steam off. What I could see was kind of weird. A big truck was going real fast with a whole bunch of cop cars all around it. Well, you know what I was thinking. Wilbur had done lost it and it didn’t look good. “Oh my God,” I said as I watched the big rig turn sharp and run right over a cop car. Worse than that, those evil headlights on the truck seemed to be just looking at me, and they kept getting bigger.

 

Well, I just stood there looking at them lights like I was hypnotized and they just kept getting bigger. It wasn’t until I realized they were getting bigger and that damn truck was busting through the hedges on the opposite side of the road from the Happy ValleyTrailerVillage and heading exactly towards my bathroom room window, that I just dropped my wig and ran for my life out the side door of the trailer.

 

Yep, I was there in the back corner of the park, huddling behind a big tree, nude as all nature when I saw that 18-wheeler come roaring by the Pontiac Chief, missing it by a couple feet. But he sure didn’t miss Harriet’s Trailer. He nailed it dead on, and boy, shit flew everywhere.

 

Wilbur just kept making a big turn and then that big old truck came straight on down the line and wiped out 5, 4 and what was left of 3, then he got his own number 2, and rammed right across Elmer and Elvira’s hacienda. He had made another turn and some how missed the Mexicans trailer by an inch or two and was plowing his way down the line towards the Pontiac Chief when the clapping noise of guns seemed to just happen everywhere. The truck came to a dead stop with its front bumper just kind of stuck into the side of the Pontiac Chief like a French kiss.

 

And there I was standing behind this tree, with no clothes and me without my wig. I don’t know how I’m going to explain, how this all happened, when the cops get here.

 

***

Nobody here. I'm nobody because I can't remember who I'm supposed to be. I don't remember writing any of that stuff the lady and I found in the package. As far as the publisher who was writing; I didn't remember a thing about agents in London and New York.

One thing I can tell you. I was more than confused when the agent wrote, as soon as this guy Santiago sent the corrected proofs back, there would be a money transfer of $100,000 put into the bank account they had for him in Santa Barbara, California. I was convinced it was a mistake. The lady seems to think I am
Santiago, so I agreed with her to make her feel good.


God here,

hey, I think
Santiago was getting off the track with the money I dumped on him. The first thing he did when he got the dough was go buy himself ridiculously expensive Armani suits. Jesus Christ he lived for over three years on the amount he spent on dull rags he would get paint on in just a few weeks, and then put in the free box in Santa Barbara's free box for the homeless.

I liked the Mercedes Benz coupe he bought, but then he drove it off
Skyline Drive on a drunken binge the first week he had it.

The house he rented up on the hills overlooking downtown
Santa Barbara was pretty cool too, but then that gal Thaana who I had directed to pick him up in Corsica didn't keep to the dream she was supposed to manifest.

She got off track too and filled up the house with 47 cats, 13 dogs, 3 pigmy goats, 1 pot bellied pig and a pen of bunny rabbits that ate all of their neighbors fancy
Fiji transplant orchids, in fact about $75,000 worth. That's why the rental broker had to enforce their eviction.

So that is why I started the new series of dreams with
Santiago after the second book became an international best seller. I could see the fortune and fame my old poker partner Lucifer had kicked in was certainly going to tip the scales in his favor towards Santiago's confused soul. Of course I had agreed with Lucy (that's what I call Lucifer just to bump his wagon) that he could use any cheap trick he wanted.

I had to do it naturally because I never agreed that I wouldn't cheat too.

To begin with, for seven nights, I whispered into
Santiago's dreams. I did with it with my favorite Jesus trick of parable bullshit. I kept repeating, "When the world comes to an end, the harbinger will not be flames or flood, but by a GOD ALMIGHTY SQUEAKING."

The second thing I mantra chanted for 13 weeks was, "The hole in the pole will be the Earth's last goal."

***

Yeah, roger God. I gotta tell you, I think that bump on Santiago's head did more than make him lose his memory. If you ask me he's going a little bananas.

"Thaana," he says, "I have this theory." Yeah, I says, I already know cause he's been telling me now for two or three months. He tells me all about it until I think I'm going to turn blue, you hear what I'm saying?

He called it his Black-Shadow-Door theory. Said he thought God was giving him messages the world needed to know before it was too late.

What's too late I say.

He says, "Before the earth gets sucked up its own asshole."

What do you mean I say and that's when he says again for the thousandth time, "Well, there are four parts to my theory about the Black-Shadow-Door."

Yeah, what are they I say just to make him happy, cause you know it's my fault he's a little bit nuts.

"To begin with," he says, "One; the Black-Shadow-Door ain't a door, it's a Black Hole, but it ain't round."

It isn't round, I correct him, wondering how he got to be such a famous writer with such lousy grammar.

Two; It's triangular shaped entrance into the new world."

"New world, huh?" I reply like I've never heard this stuff before.

"Three; the Black Hole is plugged up at the moment with a great big mother-humping chunk of ice."

Plugged up? I thought a black hole is supposed to suck-up everything that gets near it, I says.

"Well, yes they sure do,"
Santiago says, "but that chunk of ice happens to be the North Pole which has a frozen magnetic reverse spiral right across the top of the Black Hole."

"Oh yeah, that'll plug the crap out'a things," I say thinking how does he come up with this stuff, but then that's just me being so logical and all. Go figure.

"Four; when the earth's temperature raises dynamically because of a global nuclear war, the entire North Pole melts and the Black Hole becomes the last unplugged concert of humanity as we know it."

Fascinating I say. So how do we get out of this predicament I ask and that's when
Santiago goes into his rap about the Ark he is going to build.

"I see a Great Flood and we have prepared for it, by building a Giant Mothership that is made up of 8 Babyships where 13 humans will gather. They bring with them 3 ducks. 2 hens, 1 rooster, 1 gander, 2 peahens, 1 peacock, 3 cats, 2 dogs and without permission come 47 mice, 1 packrat, 1 rattlesnake, 2 bullsnakes and a multitude of spiders. Only the all, of the above, will survive the Great Flood and find land which was the top of a mountain, once the center of an island somewhere in the
Mediterranean."

I says to him , could that be
Corsica by any chance?

"
Corsica, Corsica, The name seems so familiar...I don't know..."

Never mind Baby, I says , so what happens next?

"As my last act as an artist in this life I will write stories for children, even though there are no more children in this world, and there are no publishers to make a book. It will be the last thing I do before this earth is sucked into the Black Hole and a
New World will begin. And that my dear Thaana is why we must build a Mighty Ark."

Yeah, sure, right, I always say to
Santiago. The man is a mental case. What can I say?

But you know what? People drive me crazier than
Santiago ever could. For Gods sake! He got that hundred thousand smackers in the bank and then the royalty checks started while he was on the best seller list. Wouldn't you know it the scumbugs flowed like Niagara Falls.

The first one was that bitch Martina. She even flew in from
France to get Santiago back in her bed. That surprised me of course because I read about her in his second book, but I didn't put two and two together until I saw her and then remembered her being in that little village called Pére up in the mountains of Corsica.

The biggest surprising part was
Santiago remembered her face, but he didn't remember a thing about being in love with her or wanting to blow her brains out. You should have seen that bitch turn around. God, People drive me crazy!


God here.

Thaana used my name again in her charming way, so I have to explain the whirlwind I put her and
Santiago in once they found the package in LAX.

She had no idea the Pandora's Box she had taken him to, even though it was him, who had put everything in it, and mailed it to himself on the instructions of his agents in
London and New York.

That bump on his head had leveled off a lot of detailed history for several months.

The Big Thing was the finished manuscript.

He promised the Big House Publishers it was coming. But it was the two Agents, James T. Schnook and Michael B. Scudd who were really bananas.

They had no idea where he and the manuscripts were, but more important, the hefty commission they were looking towards, had disappeared.

It was 100,000 words of self indulgent blubbering the Big House Publisher knew the public was dying to read...you know, humans love the pathetic underdog who climbs to the top of the wretched human dog-pile.

***

Nobody here again and I say goddammit and fuck it, and there too, is Phuket, Thailand, and I don't give a big goddam because you know why?

WHY?

Because I lost faith

"What?" said Thaana.

"I lost faith, god-dammit, I lost faith!"

"Whuddaya mean?"

"What the fuck, what do I mean,? I lost god-dam fucking faith in any thing anyone can believe in. Are you stupid or do you know what I mean?"

"Oh yeah, I always know what you mean any way you say it cause I lov'ya baby."

"Thas my gal," I said just before I had this weird ass dream.

I was driving down a street, somehow I had seen a thousand million times before, all so known.

I knew it was the aftermath. I knew I was alive.

I looked at empty houses, I remembered empty days.

What the fuck?

Why care? If it is all a joke, I mean, if the observable fucking universe does not give a wink about your fucking life, why should you be bothered? That's what I said to myself.

And do you know what? I felt kind of relieved.

Isn't that fucking weird?

I mean, actually, if this fucking gizmo universe keeps inventing itself for whatever reason, and you are seeing it, isn't that good enough.?

***

Thaana looked at Santiago for about twelve seconds with the look of a dumb cow.

Suddenly she clicked her eyes and said, "That is exactly what I was a saying."

***

Nobody again. I just woke up this morning and a weird voice said to me, "You know who you are! You're the ZenCowboy!"

I got so puzzled I went up to the village where I knew straight thinking was not a problem. And as days go, I have no idea but I thought I was going to be doing one thing but had to do the other, so I talked with Pete and Liz and took notes listening to them make a declaration for a new nation.

Then later we came up with this novel idea:

Our motto in English;

AT OUR BEST
WE EQUAL EARTH
WORMS


ERGO EQUALUS MONDO HERMATRA SPIRALUS

Hence a pseudo Latin motto we comed together in creating. We had no idea if this was close to real Latin but we made a picture of our flag anyway, with a spiral earth worm, our mascot.

Our Flag.

6

Later, I found a closer Latin translation;


DEMIRATUS NOSTRUM OPTIMUS

NOSTRI AEQUAPARATUS HUMI WORMICIAE

It was just one of those kind of days.

But there you are, I mean no matter where you go.

So no sooner do I hear the voice that I am the ZenCowboy than I Write down a list of stories I had to tell. They were all same in most ways but each one had a special point. It was an idea I had to follow, so I began to write.

***

I was in my mother's womb the first time I went for a ride. I don't remember it...

What I remember the first time I went ridin' wasn't exactly a ride, but every time I think about it, it seems like it was a ride, a very wonderful, beautiful, flowing ride. I was just a baby. But I remember it very well. I am almost old now, but like they say, I remember that first ride. It was 65 years ago...There was sun coming down through the leaves of the big old cottonwoods. The water was warm, and I was in my mother's arms, and we were in the river, the Arkansas river that flowed past our house. I remember the river sound. It was like laughter.

 

***

That's how those stories went. What I want to get to, is how I came up with the other weird idea to build a Mighty Ark.

 

I get back to New Mexico with that woman Thaana, and discover I own 13 acres of land, a house, a studio and its all paid for. What is even more odd is I also owned what was left of a 300 foot bridge. You know when I saw those bridge pillars for the first time I hear, YOU WILL BUILD A MIGHTY ARK.

 

Well, the truth is, I could see it, only like it is like no Ark you ever thought about. I mean it wasn't a big wooden boat with no windows. It was more like a spider web with weird little pods. Eight little pods.

Each little pod was connected to other little pod with what looked like long thread-like suspension bridges. At each pod, there was an elaborate balcony with a stair case that led down to a grotto below.

The whole thing looked kind of like this:

1

***

ZenCowboy here, and this is a flash of the past:

 

Pig, Fish Guts and Big Fat Thaana, is not an exotic dish unless you are on the road to adventure and romance.

I once had a friend who said, "There are only two things necessary in life and you can't have one without the other." What's that? I said. "Romance and Adventure ," he said and held his hand over a lit candle.

I sat there waiting for him to pull his hand off the candle and he just sit there and looked at the light. Smoke started to come off his hand and he pulled his hand casually away from the flame, turning to look at the big black smudge on his palm. "Getting used to loneliness is like holding your hand over a flame. You can't have romance without danger, and you can't have adventure without beauty, because then, you are living a lie."

A year later I happened to be at the College Artists Ball held in an old factory warehouse. There was a 250 gallon wine cask and maybe 200 college students at the ball. About midnight it was only safe to walk arm in arm in groups of four, because if two passed out, there was two to hold it up.

I happened to be walking with a college girl who was legendary because she weighed 300 lbs. and had beaten out every beautiful girl in the school by being chosen by a famous poet who was reading at our school, to spend the night with him. Everyone called her Big Fat Thaana.

As the ball was closing at 3 in the morning she asked me if I wanted to go clubbing with her. Sure I said. She took me to an illegal bar that was open to a special knock, full of prostitutes, homosexuals, horny fishermen and every petty crook in town.

Everyone knew her and loved her.

At six in the morning, I was being thrown half way to the ceiling in her bedroom and I was having the time of my life. About noon I began to sober up and seeing her snoring like a buzz saw, I thought it best to go home.

I had left my dog named Pig in a car parked next to the fish cannery. He had jumped out the window, gone down to the drain flowing into the fish gut slew where he had wallowed gloriously before returning to the car and jumped back in the window. The smell was how I felt and I had no idea what I was going to say to my beautiful young hippy girlfriend.

I decided truth was the only road, so I said to her when she saw me looking like shit and smelling like what my dog Pig had dragged into the car, "I can not lie. I slept with Big fat Thaana last night."

She just dropped her mouth and said, " I can understand if you had been with a beautiful woman, but why did you sleep with a big fat ugly slob?"

I looked at her and knew the answer. There are only two things necessary in life, and you can't have one without the other.

***

Agent M. Scudd here. Like if it wasn't for me, no one would have ever thought of that great pseudo name, Phil Le Gree. It was my idea. You know? What a name! Phil Le Gree! Filigree, get it? Yeah right, that is this genius thinking!

I'm the man. I'm an agent for Chrise-sakes. I get paid big commissions cause it took me years to get here, you know, I have got combined years of wisdom.

So you see, it is all my idea. I'm an Events Artist. That's what I am supposed to do. So this is how I will do it, by giving you the 12 tenants of my endeavor:

1. There are 8 basic pillars see? So that makes 16 walls, and 1 and 6 make 7. So see? We will create seven sacred shrines and put up a website called, 7sacredshrines@naturaltherapy.com

Okay, so see, I'm not an artist. But that above is the master plan for the 7 sacred shrines.

3. In each Sacred Shrine we will have tables and benches and rocks and mud and plants and projects directed by a Master Class Teacher (MCT) who will take 12 students for 1, 3, 5 and 7 day workshops to create collective installations combining earth, air, fire and water.

4. Each participant of the Master Class Workshop (MCW) will pay in advance, $400 and/or $100 extra per day. For example:

one day__________ $400

three days________ $700

five days_________ $900

seven days______ $1,100

5. There will be community camping and co-operative cooking and attending grounds and gardens.

6. Each MCW will add at something* to one (1) form in the grid within the Seven Sacred Shrines

(SSS). *leaving it better than they found it.

For example the visualization of Eight Pillars of Wisdom with seven forms of 21 areas:

7. NATURALTHERAPYSITES.COM is the original web site of participants worldwide who contribute to the notion of ONE PEACEFUL WORLD by building seven sacred shrines with eight pillars of wisdom in a community park devoted to a global END OF THE WORLD PARTY, December 21, 2012, entitled:

PARTY LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW

8. Eight, of course is the power number of our community pillars. If the world does not end December 21, 2012, then each and every sacred shrine, being a perma-culture site, will be self-sustaining camp grounds and picnic spaces for the local community.

9. Nine is three times three. If the world does not end December 21, 2012, the sacred shrines will give a chance for some kind of life, including homo sapiens, to face the future by going through the Black Hole, as prophesized by Saint in Augustine's account recorded through the vision of Santiago McBoil's third book in his famous Harlequin Moon Trilogy, and at least one LIFESHIP on the Mighty Ark will survive, allowing the continued calamity of the human creation to go on to another day.

10. I, Phil LeGree do not intend to go through a black hole, so I will direct the PARTY LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW event in all of human history.

11. I, Phil LeGree will bring a few seeds just in case.

12. Whoever is left may get to see the last and first garden of all time.

 

INTERUPTION MAJOR

 

Hl, God here. Just want to tell you something weird. Santiago recently had a kind of fit and for three days wrote the following...

 

TITLE: VAN GOGH YOU STUPID SHIT

sub-title: PITY THY BROTHER, BROTHER

 

INSIDE FIRST PAGE QUOTE; mindlessness over matterlessness

 

Okay, if I am so smart, how come it's taken me so long to come to this moment to try to say how I would do it differently. Yes, it is life that I refer to---past---present---future.

 

There is no question...only to act as if I know, as if I have always known and accept this gracious gift of living for what it is.

 

So what, if Van Gogh lost control of his poetry---so what if humanity made a mockery of his pain in a San Francisco art museum---it doesn't matter.

 

I am alive.

I am fighting.

I am learning to give and to give in.

Van Gogh was then yet as you are with us this moment.

Vincent still lives, Vincent still feels.

 

That is the difference of what matters. Spirits don't evaporate like farts in the wind.

 

Van Gogh you stupid shit! Why did you do that? Could you not see the sun?

 

"Who are you my friend to say these things to me? Such impertinent questions!"

 

I know, I know! I'm hardly anybody at all. I know, yeah? I've got a long way to go. Listen! I don't mean to put you down. you really tried hard. I guess I might have murdered myself if I'd been you---but that was your mistake. I don't equate it any other way. Sure it's a pain in the ass to be an artist---you, me, and John Lennon know all about that. But you know what?

 

"What?"

 

You gave up!

 

"I gave up! You fool! You do not know the first thing of giving up! What suffering have you had?"

 

Oh for Chrise sake! What makes you think you are the only one who has suffered? If you're gonna talk to me don't get so high and mighty indignant---you think I'm insensitive to suffering? Get off your fuck'n high horse. You're not the only one who did something important and nobody noticed.

 

Listen. I'm not just say'n nasty things about you, Vincent, cause I'm jealous. For one, you probably disserve a lot more---really I'm on your side. Look! I'm trying to help you, as well as myself. But you! You got yourself in this crazy limbo because you bumped your self off.

Part of me helping you and myself is to know why you did it. Now come on---tell me why?

 

Silence. There is only silence in the room now. The spirit is removed. Shadows fall from the candlelight and the fireplace squeaks popping sparks, but not a word from Van Gogh. Honestly, I wonder if that man will ever grow up.

 

I know he is here, only he does not to play anyone's game but his own. Crap. What a bad sport!

 

"Have you only foul names to call me?"

 

So. You came back heh? Well, how about it? Do you want to answer my question or do you just want to talk? Really though, I 'm not interested in idle cit-chat. I would like it if you told me why you had to kill yourself.

"You would not understand if I told you."

 

That's a possibility all right.

 

"I find it ridiculous to speak to such a man as you to begin with...but...I suppose it may do you a bit of good."

 

Oh brother! You're so damned righteous Vincent! Why can't you face the fact that maybe my life has not been any easier than yours? For that matter there have been a whole lot of people that gave all they had and know one knows about them. There's probably a lot of those people that didn't even get a smile for all they gave.

 

"You are such an idealistic fool."

 

All right. Get back at me and call me names, but it's true, people have given a lot of things...you are not alone.

 

"Trifling trash. The lot of humanity has been nothing but greed infested vermin. Mankind has never had an ounce of benevolence in it's twisted existence except to save it's own rotted heart."

 

Vincent, you know you are just fucking unbelievable. After all this time you are still so bitter.

 

"Bitter! You imbecile! You have no idea of the essence of my passion. You are misguided in the depths of buffoonery. What you think of life is nothing but a juvenile dream of romance."

 

Boy, you like to hit back don't you? Okay, so I'm a romantic. Big deal. I admit it. At least I still have both my ears.

 

Vincent? Vincent, where are you? What's the matter, I strike a nerve? Holy mackerel, this is nuts. Look. I don't want to get into a name calling game with you. I want to understand you. I just want to be friends so we both can be better...come on, Vincent?

 

Okay, I just said that because I thought cutting off your ear and sending it to your girlfriend was a terribly romantic thing to do. I'm not making fun of you, honest...

 

Oh for crying out loud! What a kid. I say one thing and off you go into a silent pout. Okay. I'm sorry. I apologize. That was mean and unjustified.

 

"What do you want of me?"

 

Oh, back again? Thanks Vincent. I thought you'd gone for good. Really, I'm sorry, but I already told you what I want to know---why did you commit suicide?

 

"I do not want to talk about it."

 

Okay...what do you want to talk about?

 

"Nothing."

 

Come on, I know you want to talk of otherwise you wouldn't have stuck around. Hey, you want to talk art?

 

"Please, do not say a word of painting nonsense, I never want to think of it again."

 

Yeah, well, I can understand that, especially after seeing that exhibit your descendents were showing all over the states. I mean, not because it was not good or anything like that. You know I love your stuff. I just thought all of those fat heads that came to ogle your work were jerks. It was one of the biggest crimes I ever saw.

 

"And you were not involved I suppose?"

 

Vincent you know I am one of your biggest fans. You were the first artist that ever inspired me. Sure, I have more to learn about it, but I wasn't like the rest of those bird brains.

 

"What makes you so positive of that? Were you not goggle-eyed and blabbing your foolish mind just as much as they? No one has ever understood my work except for Theo. You and the lot are fools of the worst kind."

 

"Hey I don't get it. How can you say such stupid shit? I cried the day I saw your exhibit. I felt so much pain for you, for your work, your life. It was all a crime---and damn you. You know I felt for you. But no, you act the idiot and a cold hearted one at that. Fuck you. Why should I even think about you? You don't give a damn for anyone but old persecuted Van Gogh. Yeah, none understand you. You disserve to be crucified...

 

Silence. Again with the silence.

 

I guess we're having an argument. The fucker finally pissed me off. Yeah, I lost my compassion. God, what a dope he is. Now I don't want to talk to him. I can't think straight about what's going on. We are just making each other sicker. This is what lovers fight about. Bullshit.

 

Friends don't do this crap to each other.

 

The son-of-a-bitch. Who does he think he is? Yeah, lovers leap and friends find. I feel better just saying it like it is. Anyway...it's a fucked up curse to identify with such a jerk. I should bury him again. He never disserved resurrection, or a friend or compassion or anything.

 

Come on man, get yourself together and stop talking to the wind...

 

Cool down to sifted moments and let time pass. Let it go...remembering when you hurt more than you want to remember...

 

San Francisco, July 1968.

 

The weather had been that off and on cold morning fog that fades into warm afternoons. There was the nut house in Presidio, my buddy Pete, sweet little Angel and her apartment on Pine and Jones street full of day trippers, night creatures, shattered lovers, lost children, running freaks popping in, pulling out...all of us crazy crazies.

 

Inside eyes pull back layers, glimpses of madmen screaming tears in the middle of the night. It was a cold shiver slithering up my back into the soft moist warm dreams of friends lost and found...

 

Where am I this moment. Always this moment. Surfaces. So many surfaces laced together into one body, one time.

 

The nut house. The army. Van Gogh.

 

How do they fit together?

 

Pete in the Presidio nut house.

 

Little Angel scratching my back yowling like a tomcat while the lights went on the high rise apartments around the roof top.

 

The Stripper in Portland. Vietnam. My Lai. All of that, a thousand years ago.

 

All of it a fast connection of kinked knots. An embezzlement of the mind. Yeah, what a profitable relationship of madness exchanging bank account numbers...

 

The lock-up of Presidio. Am I still insane? Was I ever sane? Tide pool. Reflections of time eternal.

 

Was it 1968 or 1970? I can't remember.

 

The Van Gogh exhibition.

 

The rotating exhibition old Charley Van Gogh had. Maybe that wasn't his name. It doesn't matter. Golden Gate Park. Yes, yes, it was there.

 

The Museum of Art. The line of people. Pull my friend, pull. To remember that is important. How was it?

 

We got up early. We didn't want to stand in line. That's right. Three hours before the museum opened its doors. It was a beautiful San Francisco morning. One of those mornings when the fog burns off and the sun stabs golden blades through the park's trees.

 

People fuse into the green and mist. Down the shafts of light the sun glitters like lint in a dusty room.

 

It was a day of invitation and Zen balance. The faces blur. Who was with me?

 

I remember the feeling of being alone, and yet I know there was somebody cruising with me. Yes oh yes, cruising for burgers. Lally-gagging into the mood of seeing serious art. Art done by the madman genius, Vincent Van Gogh. Vincent the maligned, Vincent the misunderstood.

 

It was a special day for me. I had only seen one original years before, in Oregon. I was about to see more mirrors of reflected misery. Van Gogh in depth. Van Gogh in honor and glory. Van Gogh the magnificent displayed for the public.

 

I was prepared to have my head cracked open and filled with divine measurement. After all, he was my hero. On top of that, I even resembled Van Gogh. All of my friends told me so, sooner or later.

 

Moving past the Japanese Gardens, out of the shadows, sun gold leafed sidewalks lead to the museum. I see the crowd. Three hours before opening, already a crowd four abreast and a block long. I don't want to wait. That is what I think. The army. Lines. Crowds. No, no, no.

 

I start to walk away. No, I can't. The little white dog chases the black one and the magnets join tail to tail. The line is full of talk and clumsy anticipation. One hour, two hours, three. The crowd has grown to four or five blocks long. How is this possible?

 

Yes, Van Gogh, they want to see you. Factory workers, taxi cab drivers, suburbanites, teachers, students, whores, evangelists---they are here to see Van Gogh, the loser of losers.

 

The doors open and the crowd like sand at the top of the hour clock begins to fall into the museum, past the relics of time, past the refined art of old masters, past rich art for rich people.

 

Fall, fall, down to the savage art of the wretched one; the one who painted for the poor.

 

My God, at last I was surrounded by him, the Vincent. I stand amazed.

Yes, of course the paintings are beautiful.

 

What is that noise?

 

People. So many people the room is a sardine can.

 

There is a red velvet rope around the perimeter. The curators answer questions of how come, when, where, why, who and whatever. "Yes, Van Gogh was very miserable at this point in his life..."and blah, blah, blah. "He was so despondent at this place that he..." blah, blah and blahed... "Vincent was progressively more...." yet blah de blah blahed.... "Of course his brother Theo was very aware that..."blah, blah and cambam blayhehah...

 

The room was shrinking. It was getting difficult to walk. Still the sand poured in. Where were all of those people coming from? More. Yet more. The museum officials had not anticipated such a crush. The guards and curators began to see an emergency situation was occurring in front of their eyes. Noise rippled through the echoic salon. Guards demand lines formed. Hop, one two three, march people, eyes right and see your Van Gogh. Click, see, move. Tromp, tromp tromp. Eyes right, Yes Starry Starry Night. Move on people.

 

The middle of the gallery is full of people anxious to form a new line. Insect lines close to the velvet rope 6 feet from the walls of hung Van Gogh joyful miseries.

 

The insects continue to march, Tromp, tromp, tromp. Such big bugs, they block the view to anyone not exactly in front of a painting. If you are not in the bugline, tough luck. You can watch the ceiling.

 

There they go. I stand in the center and watch unbelieving of what is happening this day to poor, poor Van Gogh, who no one but his brother, in his own time, thought he was any kind of an artist.

 

Oh, Vincent, the poor pitiful son-of-a-bitch. You see what they are doing?

 

Tromp, tromp, tromp, eyes right, and you have exactly three, point five seconds to see genius in front of you. Ho. people march! Tromp, tromp, tromp, eyes right.

 

Oh the multitudes, they are so merciless.

 

Van Gogh, you are spinning out there, aren't you? I can hear you groaning. You didn't want it this way did you? Look at them Vincent. Blessed are the meek. Look. They are an army of ants. peering, sputtering for a few seconds at a time at each piece of your pain.

 

They are wasting no time. They make quick work of you my friend. That's real gratitude for you.

 

Abundantly rewarded. So many of them Vincent. At last your art is beheld by mankind. Blessed abundantly. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

 

Oh Vincent, I feel like crying. Poor, poor Van Gogh. Van Gogh, you stupid shit!

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

notes: Operation Muscatine, 1st Platoon, Charlie Company

Americal Division/ 11th Brigade/the coast of Quangngai Province in central Vietnam// obey a blind ideology of destruction/ Collateral Damage/During the period of 16-19 March 1968, troops of Task Force Barker massacred a large number of Vietnamese nationals in the villages of Son My / My Lai

One them was Michael Terry in Utah:

"They just marched through shooting everybody ... they had them in a group
standing in front of a ditch, just like a Nazi-type thing. One officer ordered
a kid to machine gun everybody down. But the kid just couldn't do it. He threw
the machine gun down and the officer picked it up ... I don't remember seeing
many men in the ditch, mostly women and kids."

 

DREAMS, LOVE AND HOPE

 

43 years ago I got married to a 26 year old Go-Go dancer. She had been married 6 times before. A day later I joined the U.S. Army. I was about to be drafted. I joined so I wouldn't be put in the infantry, or worse, be made a medic in the infantry in Vietnam. Six months later I was a medic in a infantry platoon in, guess where? You got it. Vietnam.

 

How come? You betcha, I asked myself that question more than once.

Today I was listening to the old WHITE Beatles album. It bumped me backwards and I saw the whole movie of myself during that weird ass time of the 60's.

 

Early on, say back in 63, 64, I had innocent dreams...what the world was and is, like William Blake with a twist of Vincent Van Gogh, a sprinkle of Gully Jemson.

 

But here now, I sit wanting to cry, cry cry baby...yet wanting to laugh, wanting to go back and find the peaceful sleep, the guiltless joy I believed must exist. Here is reality. The Beatles cut into these words as I write and sing, "...boy, you're going to carry that weight carry that weight for a long time..."

 

I'm wondering how greedy I've been and why is it I wanted to run off to Scotland. I felt like a speck of dust at that point. I was looking for the place where I would find contentment I had never known. Yeah, I remember Pete calling me Mr. Contentment and laughing at his irony.

 

He knew better than me that ideal was one of man's fantasies. The Beatles connect the dotted lines singing, "...the love you make is the love you take..."

 

Circles of humanity, circles of thought...Pete, My Lai, The Stripper, a cast of thousands...Vonnegut's Korass...a journey of a million miles...

Van Gogh are you real? Do I feel the spirit? I can't quiet the voices whispering inside my head...I can't slow the river of urgency rippling through me...

 

What is it I am still looking for? Is it magic? God is magic. Magic lives. God lives.

 

Yes, the excitement. Yes, the adventure.

 

Dollars and cents make no sense. I can't measure my life into so many life insurance policies. I can't fall into an existence where I am a gray spirit surrounded by gray people. Yet...how can I live my life without the magic of believing in a God? A magic God. God the great adventurer and the one romantic tale. That is the story I want to find, I want to follow. I wait for the moment and yet I must search for the perfect moment...

 

Where am I?

 

Are we here, together, a place called Earth?

 

No, no, it is just one of many illusions. We are in the eternal now, the eternal here. We are always tempted like Ulysious---Sirens call from the rocky imaginary coastline. Our ship, so fragile, the shore ragged with mirage dangers. The sweet voices keep calling lies. Why should they stop? It is their duty. Some of the voices even sound like friends or family.

 

Oh Magic God, save me from my swirling mind---a recorder of the bazaar, yet so beautifully mixed with conglomerate devils, angels, evil, goodness, strings of adventurous tragic romantic moments.

 

If I reach out and try to tell someone what it is that haunts me, they say, "Hey buddy, it ain't nothing."

 

Yeah, it is just a mundane little world, full of little mundane people. You are safe. Don't say things that make you feel insecure. It is all a lie in every direction but what is. Perceive what is. Who said that?’

 

Okay. I am secure. I am standing on the Rock of the Great Messiah. Yeah, help me Jesus.

 

Why do my eyes reach out? I see distant lands. Am I trying to escape here? Am I irresponsible not wanting to stay in one place, one time?

 

Will romantic notions make me wither and die? Blood runs over my eyes. William Blake painted Angels with wings on fire. Van Gogh's heart burst with want. Gully Jemson is the lunatic in the corner laughing at everyone. Where is the pity?

 

I am thinking how long it is between dreams and things that should happen because there is magic. These things that float around in the back of the minds---they are real, yet the child, I am caught between wants. I want you. I want him. I want her. I want that. I find one-sided conversations on both side of me. I look for help but I hear myself laughing. Yes it is part of my paranoid insanity. Yes it is part of the magic. It, forever it, is reality beyond fantasy.

 

Still, I think the dream, real. Why else would I have gone on?

I come to loving. Love. Such a splendid plot I am always falling in. Charlie Chaplin's manhole cover. Love. I love you. It is a phrase I know. It is just a dream. it is multiple choice. Pick one.

 

Okay, I love all of you. Him, her, that.

 

Shallow though. It is only a brotherhood fad.

 

I'm in one mind and out the other.

 

If only I could hold on. Love is magic. Magic is God. God is alive.

 

I am alive and slowly the first meaning of love is coming to me.

Vincent?

I have drifted away Vincent. But you are still there, aren't you Vincent?

 

Vincent, I have never said I love you.

 

I do.

 

You were the lover that I wanted, too much, like me. Vincent I need help too. Please talk to me. Help!

 

"I can't help you. There is nothing to be helped to."

 

You're wrong Vincent. That's not true. We can help each other---maybe only in small, unnoticeable way---but we help each other. you know, we can talk to each other. That's help.

 

Look! You should know you are stuck and you need help. It's a game, but God, it's such a game---it's a beautiful game. Vincent try! Tell me about love, Vincent!

 

"Love? Is there love beyond blood? Theo loved me but now he is gone. I am left alone. I have looked for him...it is so dark here...dark like Arles...like Paris. If there is love, Theo loved. He was my light. he understood me. At times, I thought Mother knew me...I was no more than a stranger to her. Love! Love indeed. Theo and I were strangers together. We knew each other."

 

But you don't see, do you? It only takes one Theo, or two, or if you are lucky, three. I mean love is love. What has numbers of people or who, got to do with it?

 

"I tried to love humanity. I tried to give a gift of love to all of man. They were dogs. The ones I loved the most, were the ones who spat on me. Gauguin was a womanizing idiot. an arrogant fool. Theo knew. I know how much I gave. I tried to love."

 

Vincent, you don't have to try to love, you just love. What is there to expect?

 

"To expect? You ask me such meaningless questions. There is everything to expect. They had no vision. All, that any of them could see, was what some mimicking headmaster had shown them to see. Their eyes were dead. I could see. I could paint life as no one had ever dreamed. Their souls were dimmed in a drunken civilization of a thousand years. I disserved to expect something. I disserved respect. They only saw what they were told was art. I was the only artist. Gauguin was a whoring drunk, but I thought at times he could see. He was only guessing. He refused to listen to me. He doesn't matter. Love doesn't matter. It is so dark here."

 

 

Van Gogh, you're locked in a prison you keep making for yourself.

 

"It has always been a prison. There is no liberty because there is no escape."

 

That's a lie. There's liberty. I know there's liberty! I almost have it from time to time. We have choices to make. We can want or we can not want---you know, find or not find and stuff like that.

 

"Bah! You are an imbecile. What you say is complete nonsense. Our only choice is to keep making up ridiculous rituals between being born and a graceless exit into the living dead."

 

You're just talking bitter Vincent. You have to work for respect---but that's not really what I mean to say. Vincent you did great things. You were years ahead of everybody. You didn't have patience for them to catch up with you. They would have maybe, then you wouldn't had that thing in San Francisco. Your lessons are still coming, but there is time to learn.

 

Vincent, did you ever really love a woman? A real woman? Did you ever totally love just one woman?

 

"I don't know. This word love is much too vague, too many opposite meanings."

 

That's what I was afraid of---you missed the whole damn point of being a man---I guessed as much cause you never did paint women worth a rat's ass. That's why you're pissed of with Gauguin, isn't it?

 

"I painted what I saw. Gauguin was an obsessed sex-maniac. It would not surprise me if he painted with his penis in his hand."

 

He could paint Vincent and he did it beautifully. He did justice to women even if he did hold his dick. Have you ever taken a close look at the women in your paintings? They are distant, cold and crazed. Even your mother looks like a space Martian.

 

Vincent, women were made for men. How could you miss it all? Love? Women?

 

"You are no different than Gauguin. My art was important than satisfying lustful desires."

 

Boy, you're really nuts. Women are art and I don't know how you could think that whacking on a canvass isn't lustful. You're bent Vincent. Didn't you ever see the poetry in women? Couldn't you see the grace? My God, what kind of man are you?

 

"I am not an ordinary man. Few will ever understand what I meant to this world---least of all, you!"

 

Right Vincent, get on your high-horse again. What was the problem with women? You impotent in bed?

 

"You are a vulgar man! Gauguin was vulgar. You will make fine company because it is obvious you will go where he is, hell!"

 

Why do you resent Gauguin so much?

 

"I do not resent him!"

 

You do! You know you do. You are such a liar Vincent---a liar to yourself. When are you going to quit being such a big phony with a chip on your shoulder?

 

"You are the one to call me a liar. You, a hypocrite full of impossible questions and idiotic ponderations. I beg you, leave me alone. Ask yourself these insane riddles. Good day!"

 

Vincent, don't go. I want to be your friend. I'm sorry, I'm not used to talking with ghosts. I don't even know if I'm talking to you. Maybe I'm only making this all up. Vincent? Vincent, where are you?

 

God, where has time taken me? Have I always been sitting in a vapor of thoughts talking to myself, or am I really talking to the Vincent Van Gogh?

 

I don't know anymore. I think I must be mad.

 

No, I'm not mad.

 

I know I have heard music played by the spheres. I know God has talked to me. I saw Jesus standing there saying "yes".

 

I am not mad.

 

Indeed!

 

The world is mad. Van Gogh comes and goes. His soul lives. Words.

Van Gogh, come back, come back.

 

Oh, this is insanity. There's no Van Gogh. He is dead. Time is dead. Yet, there is time passing. I hear the soft breath of madmen and saints. I can't deny. Spirit lives.

 

High hopes! That's what I have to remember. A moment before I was sitting in a quiet room next to a fireplace that sparked magic clicks. A veil of time slipped over me and highways flowed by miraculously with city faces and country corners laced into cosmic cartoons shaping a new stage. The lights fell green blue to fog gray. Christmas came and I packed a bag for next year. The season to be jolly.

 

I can't keep track. Has it always been this way?

 

Now it is a day after bonanza bonus day, Christmas and 5 more days before the tick tock big clock sticks another year up your kazoos'. Five more days to rectify a bad situation getting worse.

 

What is the use of trying to talk to Van Gogh? he can't help me anymore than I can get him unstuck from his own private purgatory---hole in in time I am trying to escape too.

 

Two sides of my soul---always bickering up and down. I remember a poet writing about descending the ascending staircase. I am beginning to understand. I can walk up; I can walk down. The sin is not to walk at all. It doesn't matter if I am right or wrong or matter what I believe is not real at all. Believing is what makes anything real. I think, therefore I am. Believing is what counts.

 

Believing in What? It doesn't matter.

 

High hopes and cheerio Van Gogh. You're alive and I know why.

 

CHAPTER THREE

LIFE IS LIKE A SNOWFLAKE

 

It is very interesting how I got on the cargo ship, Eurysthenes, in New York City. I mean it is interesting because it is a Greek ship going to London and I'm on it.

 

Not every Greek ship goes to London.

 

It's also interesting because I'm not going to London. I'm going to Scotland.

 

The ship's departure was two weeks late and I was ten years behind schedule.

 

But mostly it's interesting because it is a Greek ship. Naturally, this is all diagonally obscure to you and doesn't mean a thing. Just let me say this: all of the works of life are interconnected, woven into a tight blanket of time.

 

It's like what I used to say to my buddy Pete, "Hey dude, life is like a snowflake." That was when I was very young, very philosophical, before pulled triggers in My Lai.

 

But the snowflake theory; I had an amazing rational. It had to do with parallel lines intersecting out in infinity. It had a lot to do with geometric stuff, triangles and the cosmic symphony. It had a lot to do with The Stripper I married, who was married six times before. She had hair like an ashtray full of cigarette buttes.

 

The theory had a lot to do with me being a medic in the army and being on a boat going to London even though I was going to Scotland.

Hey, listen Van Gogh! Life is like a snowflake. It begins with structural order of intersecting lines that form arms and legs that move in a multitude of directions. Chaos. Then they balance in symmetry. Order. Each snowflake is different as they fall. Chaos. But as they fall, wind gently whispers through them. Order. They cover the earth and mingle in mass. Chaos. The sun comes out and they melt and cabbage grows, Order. Yes, life is like a snowflake.

 

Being philosophical sure is tiring. It's a strain. How I got myself on this Greek ship philosophical miracle. It being Greek is the connection to my ex-wife the stripper. She used to tell me to never trust a Greek. She was Italian. She was five feet, ten, bare foot naked. When she put on her beehive wig and here Go-Go high heels, she was about twelve feet tall.

 

She had a thing about buying wigs and giving them haircuts. she used to buy one a week. I don't know why she didn't trust Greeks. "Honey, never, never, ever trust a Greek," she said about once a month.

 

Well, I think it is pretty obvious, how believing in snowflakes and being on a Greek ship, why it was interesting but I might be concerned.

Vincent, is it true about Greeks?

 

"No, it is not true at all. Never trust a Scot."

 

What?

 

"Never trust a Scot."

 

Oh come on. You're pulling my leg.

 

"Very well, believe what you want."

 

Why shouldn't I trust Scots?

 

"You figure it out Socrates. Remember, life is like a snowflake."

 

Quit being a smart ass and tell me.

 

"No."

 

Vincent, you're a real Child. Vincent? Vincent!

 

Why does he do that? Pout, pout! First he talks then this aggravating silence. What does he mean never trust a Scot? The too, what does it mean, never trust a Greek? I feel paranoid.

 

The Eurysthenes is still sitting at the dock. So far, there are three English passengers and myself. I don't know who they don't trust. we are all waiting for the ship to leave, but it's raining and the stevedores don't work when it's raining. I don't trust stevedores.

 

Today is the first time I thought this journey to Scotland, on a ship going to London, was ill-fated. First the ship was scheduled to leave the 14th of December, then the 21st, then 27th, and now it looks it will not

be going until January.

 

This bad. I made a promise to myself I would be out of the United States by the New Year or I would punch myself in the nose. I don't believe in self flagellation, but a promise is a promise, and I am a man of my word.

 

"You are a hopeless liar!"

 

Shut up Vincent. I'm not talking to you.

 

“Then who are you talking to?"

 

I don't care, but I'm not talking to you. Why don't you go back to your silent corner and let me finish my thoughts?

 

The ship is purring its mechanical song. Outside the city sounds blues into night clutter. The Verazano Bridge gives me a big smile in twinkling light bulbs. The Statue of Liberty is lost in the darkness of another night. America roars in the background. My mind is laced with patterns of the ever expanding human comedy...

 

Oh! Right! I was in the middle of a paranoiac thought which is the misfortune of this ship, the Eurysthenes. Today we got another passenger who slipped immediately into the cast. He reminded of one of the characters in the story, SHIP OF FOOLS.

 

I boarded the ship back on its original departure date, being I had no other place to stay or eat. I felt very uncomfortable during our evening meal, believing this old cargo hulk is bound to sink. The new guy that came yakked his head off and the more he talked, the more I was convinced we would all drown.

 

I thought about a conversation I had earlier in the day with guard at the dock gate. He was spouting off how you should carry a gun when you go into a black neighborhood, except he said niggerhood. He said an officer friend of his carries three guns. One on his belt, another next to his belly, and one strapped onto his ankle. He then joked about how the Eurysthenes was still docked but ended by saying. "Beware of Greeks." The funny thing was he looked Greek to me.

 

Of course that is different than, "Never trust a Greek," but it didn't add to my confidence about this sailing, especially with the addition of the new passenger.

 

Between the strange things he kept saying at the evening meal, like, "I hear this ship is being scrapped in Holland," and "The captain says we have enough oil to get to the middle of the Atlantic," I began to think doom was soon. The ship will sink. I should never trust a Greek and we have a Greek Captain on a Greek ship. I am sure too, the gate guard was Greek and him and the Captain know what is coming.

 

The thing is, I am sure of my importance. It is too early for me to die.

 

The ship can't sink because I have to complete my "Snowflake" theory. I have to put together the loose ends of too many mistakes. I didn't survive the army so I could sink to the bottom of the Atlantic a few years later. I didn't get married to a 7 foot tall Italian divorcee stripper just to have a watery grave. I didn't spend three months in the nut-house after My Lai just to end as fish bait.

 

I'm important. I am here to do something big, not to die on a Greek boat full of weird ass passengers all escaping America for their own crazy reasons.

 

Maybe I will get killed in Scotland. Maybe Van Gogh knows what he is talking about. "Never trust a Scot," indeed!

 

But so many people tell me not to trust this or that, I'm beginning to get suspicious.

 

This is insanity. Why am I thinking thoughts like this when I have time to think about anything I want to think about? Even if the Eurysthenes sinks and I die, I still have time to think anything I please.

 

Yes, it is time. I can dream anything I want. I am driving the boat of my soul. I am not a fool. Dream on, dream on. Time is a gift. Life is a blessing. My mind is my journey.

 

Life is like a snowflake.

 

Crystalline beauty spun into a cobweb of diamonds. In the center begins the cross of order. Fingers of destiny dance out into the fringeland of experience.

 

Each new pattern begins another pattern, surface over surface, life becomes layered with harmony and madness. Strangers walk into the middle of living with silent sentences, then drift off into the fog of dying, melting, never to be seen again.

 

Each soul counts. All experiences begin and end in one celebration of life. Wisdom is ours to possess but only for a moment and then it scuttles off to its next appointment. Each time we learn new the same old bag of tricks. Crystalline beauty adorns our lives in the faces of humanity.

 

We are explorers of time and light. Some find darkness, and death in their days lived. The secrets are underfoot. The truth is painted on our foreheads. We learn to simplify in the mirror of self reflection and find our life is like a snowflake.

 

BEHOLD, THOU DESIREST TRUTH IN THE INWARD PARTS: AND IN THE HIDDEN PART THOU SHALT MAKE ME TO KNOW WISDOM.

 

I'm not afraid now Vincent. I don't mean to be cold. I get afraid. It seems big to me...all of it. I get afraid Vincent...Vincent?

 

" I know. I understand my friend, I know."

 

CHAPTER FOUR

THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL BATTLE

 

The captain of the Eurysthenes had dinner with us passengers tonight. I feel better about the sinking of the ship now. He relieved my fears with his belligerent strength. No, the ship will not sink. Are all Greeks like Zorba?

 

The captain has two eyebrows that are like two planks of wood; one wedged over the other, while he looks you straight in the eye and acts like he knows what he is talking about. His hair wiggles on his head when he relaxes his forehead. He is convinced that Greece is the center of Europe, and the country is in agony because its people have loved the world too well.

 

One of the English passengers knows almost as much as the other English passenger. These two seem to be walking dictionaries of information everyone else forgets. They were bound to have a confrontation with the captain.

 

His eyebrows wrinkled and the hands flew lambently...Greece, 4,000 B.C. ladies and gentlemen…Greece began the onslaught of history…The Turks marched through the Empire and fair haired Greeks ran to the highlands and never, no never, a Turk touched the Islands.

 

The captain pulled out a small plastic toy and pulled a string, as he looked at us considering whether he should continue. He continued, but democracy was brought up and quartered and he belittled the Queen. Old crazy Fredericka charges 100 percent tax on cars!

 

I said, yeah, it’s the same all over.

 

Cigarettes were smoked. I felt somewhat abstract. The English man brought up the point, “What will become of Greece without democracy...after all, is democracy the natural evolution of man?”

 

The captain said Greece already had it and the higher plain had been achieved. The generals know what they are doing and who says the majority knows what is good for them?

 

The English man felt there were too many interpretations of democracy.

I began to fade away and noticed the lights of the Verazano Bridge still glowed in the distance. Somehow, after all these years I was still in America.

 

There is no incentive, said the English man.

 

The captain sawed his wood plank eyebrows down to a concern.

 

I gathered from the mixture of flying words, there were one too many commies out there screwing up the works. The captain said, “Who needs the Yankees in Athens?”

 

The English man said, “How can the working man continue with 40% tax?”

 

I began to feel sea-sick and desperate. The damn ship was going to sink after all.

 

There is some kind of game I keep seeing but never have understanding. There is some sort of path that is painted in front of me that I am never able to walk on. The chess game is played out with flamboyance and strategy. The War Lords of words and worlds like a mad television melodrama make me a victim and a spectator of egos and honors with nothing to say.

 

Nothing to say in the hallway of memory. I wake with fear sweating from every corner of me. Who is that screaming? Why can’t that man sleep at night?

 

Night fog. Slowly I see the psychiatric ward of Letterman Hospital. There is a new group of soldiers form Vietnam. The ones that screams is a medic. Why can’t he sleep at night?

 

Earlier I was sitting in the lawn looking at a blade of grass. Down in the stem I saw how each blade peeled off to find its share of sunshine. It made me feel afraid. The grass began to squirm in my hand and the hourglass of the universe was draining the last grain.

 

I jumped up dizzy and crazy, not wanting to think, not wanting to feel. The word NO was a giant in my brain. The human experiment was a complete and utter flop.

 

I heard the nurse say, “Your picnic lunch is ready.” I thought, yes I will eat and that will make me feel better. Nervous lopsided steps took me to the table. “Don’t think, don’t think,” I thought. Eat and all of this nonsense will go away.

 

I sat at the table looking down discovering paper plates, plastic spoons as hopelessness poured Niagara Falls over my eyes.

 

I reached for a pinkish hot dog thinking eat eat. My eyes held down, paranoid to look up to see anything. There was dividing, then sub dividing. I couldn’t hang on. Count numbers! 100, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, eat the hot dog.

 

It tasted flat, worthless, lifeless.

 

My eyes broke away from my determined down stare. The table drifted up and floated around the room. I couldn’t stand to look at the hot dog another moment. Up my eyes roared and in front of me sat a black man who somehow began to turn purple.

 

He did not know he was turning purple, nor anyone else. But I knew. I jumped off the seat losing control. I had to run. I had to run from the crushing weight of a million realities.

 

My legs belonged to another man, another body. My mind hung on like octopus tentacles. The road of the park came under me and the eucalyptus reached down to tear my soul out. The whole earth was booby-trapped. the threat of foreclosure, to forever cease...

 

Then the voice came inside again, “Count numbers, don’t think about this. Count numbers. You are creating this madness.”

 

The numbers came out like machine gun bullets, 100, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94 and on to 0, then to start all over again, for three days and three nights. When I at last fell into an exhausted sleep I was awakened into a nightmare of the screaming medic. At other times my eyes would blast open into complete wakefulness and the catatonic of the ward stood at the foot of my bed staring at me. What did he want?

During the day I looked at my fellow patients and sometimes they looked at me.

 

The nurses passed out hundreds of thorazine tablets, checking under the tongues to be sure they were swallowed, "like a good boy you are," but for some reason I was not given any pills, nor ever experienced the zombie like dream world most of the patients lived in. They left me to my own mind to drive me crazy. Such shrewd manipulation.

 

The screaming medic continued on and on. One of the troops that came in with him told me there was twenty of them near their hooch's when the shit came down. Bombs, mortars, whatever the Cong could shit their way. When it was over the screaming medic was the only one standing in the middle of all their mutilated bodies. His mind short circuited; his brains blown by bloody helplessness; his only relief in the Presidio nut house screaming through the nights and days. His screaming scared me more than the bullets that had flown by my face.

 

Oh, but that was so long ago. Now is different. Vietnam is over; the war done and only discussions of what madness once held us is passed around bars and dinner tables. The English man on the boat know the only problem society has is workers with no incentive, no desire to make wheels turn in the machine.

 

"Dear me. Is this the only anguish you have ever had? It appears to me, you punish yourself more, than anyone else."

 

You're catching on Vincent. But nah, that's not the only anguish I've ever had.

 

Outside the starboard porthole of the Eurysthenes, slush songs of the Atlantic plays through the night. The horizon goes up and down. One moment there is nothing but the blue black ocean---the ship tips and the porthole is filled with sky.

 

Down in the lounge, sitting in the perpetual pose of passengers, the waft of living threaded one by one. The battle between the English and the Greeks has changed to the seduction of the poor ignored wife of the man who never listens. She has got a handsome Greek captain. The captain has another pair of tits to caress. Both the tapestries will be well woven but regret the morning.

 

You know Vincent, I know what it is like to be crazy. I know what it is like to see things no one else sees. I have much anguish.

 

"What makes you think such a thing?"

 

Well...I was thinking about parlor games and nut houses and you being stuck in the dark and me going to Scotland. It's spooky.

 

"I am not stuck in the dark. I am merely delayed. Mankind is yet to learn the lesson of my existence. It is then I shall be released."

 

Listen Vincent. I hate to spoil it for you, but you're stuck and you know it! That's what happens when you bump yourself off. I want to help you, really. I need some help too. So you think we can talk about our problems without resorting to our usual nastiness?

 

"I am willing."

 

Okay me too. What do you want to talk about?

 

"What do you think you can see that other people can't?"

 

If I tell you, will you tell me why you killed yourself?

 

"No, no, no, you have no right."

 

Oh my God! We're starting all over again!

 

We have to come to the same sort of trust Vincent, or we'll never get anywhere in this story. Anyway, why should I tell you my secrets if you won't tell me yours?

 

"You will not understand."

 

Try me.

 

"You will misinterpret everything. You ask me to spill blood to you?"

 

Van Gogh there isn't any difference if I understand or not. The thing is I might be able to help you. No one else is helping, right?

 

"Yes, I am alone. Theo is gone. He would help me if he could, I know. He is somewhere better. He helped all of his life but not now. I am sure no one can help me now---how can you do anything for me? You have got yourself in one problem after the other. Look at you now. You are no better off. You are crazy sailing off to the unknown, leaving everything you achieved behind."

 

It's true. Vincent, you are right. Here now, only a half hour away from January 1st, my 29th year, I am on a cartoon ship full of cartoon characters and my mind crammed with ideas that make no sense.

Oh yeah, intervals come where I am convinced God has it in for me, his patience finished. My end is near. All I see is suffering and tribulation. The reward for it all is a miserable slow death---pointless directions covered with futile understandings. I am talking to myself and the ghost of a madman who could not see the nose on his face.

 

But I look in the mirror and I see the haggard conceited face that no longer believes the answers will be known. I am leaving love, land and all my lessons behind. I am leaving a brilliant career as an original American artist in the dust of yesterdays dream.

 

How can I help? How can I understand anyone's pain?  My soul is tossed around as this ship is rolled in an Atlantic winter. Everybody gets seasick.

 

So many blunders I have committed, yet I have miraculous fortune. I have lived through death penalties well disserved. I am still here waiting for the divine mystery to be revealed. Is it possible for me to control my own madness? Is it possible to reach out and help? Help what? Help how? Who?

 

Van Gogh, you are right. I can't help you. It is pointless. I'm lost. There is no use to bother you in your place. I mean, we might as well stop talking. I am depressed. I quit.

 

"Do not go! Stay here and talk. Think or talk. I can hear you either way. Do not leave me here alone."

 

But I can't help you. I am a lost child. I have nothing to say and if I do say anything it will be a lie.

 

"You can help me! I did not want to come here. Damn such stupid mistakes. I do not know why I should be punished so. When I first came, Rembrandt was here, but he left shortly afterward. He was not such good company in any case, but he was someone to talk to. I should not be here. It is all a mistake."

 

What? You mean you're sorry you whacked yourself? What's this about Rembrandt? You mean the Rembrandt, the painter?

 

“Of course I regret killing myself. I did not mean for it to happen that way. I too was very depressed. As for Rembrandt, he was more depressing. He told me he had been waiting for me to take his place. He said he was so tired of the whole affair. The old fool laughed at me and said, 'Anticipate if you must, but participate and trust,' then he simply vanished."

 

What do you think he meant by that?

 

"I have not the faintest idea. Do you?"

 

It sounds like something for both of us. I'm stuck. You're stuck. But Rembrandt is free. It's a clue Vincent.

 

"But what does it mean?"

 

Fuck knows.

 

The ship vibrates its mechanical song. The New Year has come and gone and we are afloat, alive and New York City far behind us. The ship has not sunk yet, but maybe it will sink tomorrow. The seas roll in a black night of lost horizons as this speck of metal pushes through the water towards Europe. Just now, the fear of death has faded. The glimmer of dawn comes. I live on.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

THE NUT HOUSE DOCUMENTATION

 

Medical Board Proceedings: Letterman General Hospital. By Direction Of The Appointing Authority. The Board Convened To Evaluate the Patient.

 

item 16: the patient was present during the proceedings.

 

item 17: the patient did not present any views on his own behalf.

 

After Careful Consideration Of Clinical Records, Laboratory Findings, Health Records. And Medical Examinations, The Board Finds:

 

item 18: the patient is medically unfit for further military service in accordance with current medical fitness standards.

 

The patient is considered to be mentally competent for pay purposes and has the capacity to understand the nature of and cooperate in the board proceedings. He is in no danger to himself or others and can be discharged to his own care.

 

item 21 Brief Summary Of Medical Condition And Physical Defects In Non Technical Language:

thinking disorder

 

item 7: The Board Convened At,

US Army Physical Evaluation Board

San Francisco, California, 94129

Date: 16 July, 1968 Time: 1500

 

Diagnosis From Medical Board:

 

1. Schizophrenic reaction, other, schizo-affective type (MD BD Diag I)

CLINICAL RECORD NARRATIVE SUMMARY (S/F 666)

 

Santiago J. McBoil, Spl- 4 RA 189669973, a 23 year old Caucasian male was admitted to the psychiatric service of Letterman General Hospital, on 1 April, 1968. He was received in transfer from USAGH, Frankfurt, Germany, on temporary debriefing, originally transferred from MED-EVAC, Saigon, Vietnam, March 17, 1968.

 

Military History: The patient joined the US Army in February 1967, received basic training at Fort Hood, Texas and AIT at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He was then transferred to Vietnam and has no Article 15's or court-martials.

 

Past History:

 

The patient was born in El Paso, Texas. He is the youngest of 11 children. His Mexican-national mother died when he was five years old, and was raised by his Irish-national father until he was twelve years old when he ran away from home. He lived with various members of his mothers family in Mexico until he was 18, then returned to the USA. He presently does not correspond with any of his family and says his father was extradited to Ireland where he is in prison for embezzlement and fraud. He put himself through college for three years, paying for it by being a bouncer and part-time performer in an El Paso strip-tease club. On learning he was flunking out of college in 1967, he joined the US Army. He married one of the strippers he worked with, one day before he joined the US Army. He says his wife had been married six times before, and he married her because he thought being number seven was lucky. He does not know where his wife is, nor has she tried to contact him in the hospital.

 

The patient enlisted in the US Army in February 1967, believing he was to be trained as Art Specialist in Cartography, but says he was deceived by the enlistment sergeant who signed him up as a Combat Medic. There is no history of previous psychiatric contact.

 

PRESENT ILLNESS:

 

He was a Combat medic, found unconscious during combat operation, free-fire zone (Son My/My Lai) in Vietnam. On regaining consciousness he became afraid and had experiences similar to when he took lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) approximately one year prior to admission. He questioned everything seeing no purpose in living and feeling the government makes no sense and he questions his marriage. Mental status of the time of that admission revealed feelings of unreality and "being able to see through people as if they were transparent." The admitting psychiatrist feels this is delusions of grandeur, paranoid ideation and depression. After approximately two weeks of hospitalization in Germany, he was transferred to Letterman General Hospital for further treatment and disposition.

 

MENTAL STATUS:

 

The patient presented as a well developed, well nourished, somewhat anxious and pale young man with red hair and a mustache, he related easily in the interview and was cooperative throughout. he was well oriented to time, place, person and mood was unremarkable. Affect appeared slightly flattened but was appropriate throughout most of the interview. At one point he flushed, blocked in his speech and appeared on the verge of tears when he began talking about the returns of feelings he had when he took LSD and again just prior to being admitted to the hospital. His thinking appeared to be logical, coherent and goal directed, although he tended to be slightly concrete and absorbed in details at times. He is obviously much confused, and his feelings are wrapped up in his concerns about what really life was and what was real. He attempted to explain his confused and somewhat frightening feelings by stating that every person has a similar religious experience just as he had when taking LSD. Although his affect tended to be flat most of the time, as noted above, there were occasions when he was more labile. Memory and judgment felt to be good and there was no evidence of hallucinations at the time of examination. Although his thoughts were expressed in terms of strict feelings of philosophical speculations it appeared that some of them had a slightly delusional quality. He made no mention what so ever of his involvement in the Son My/My Lai combat operation.

 

PHYSICAL EXAMINATION:

 

Head, eyes, ears, nose and throat: with normal limits. Chest: clear to percussion and auscultation. Cardiovascular: normal sinus rhythm, no evidence of murmurs. Abdomen: soft and none tender, without masses or organomegaly. A large appendectomy scar on right lower quadrant.

 

Genitalia: normal male without hernias. Extremities: within normal limits. Neurological: coordination, motor and sensory systems intact, no pathological or neurological findings.

 

LABORATORY DATA:

 

Chest x-ray, CBC Va, and serology were within normal limits.

 

HOSPITAL COURSE:

 

The patient was admitted to the closed ward psychiatric service where he related well with the staff and patients. He participated actively in group sessions and ward activities.

 

DIAGNOSIS:

 

3006 Schizophrenic reaction, schizo-affective type, acute, moderate, improved, manifested by paranoid ideation, delusions of grandeur, ideas of reference, visual hallucinations, feelings of depersonalization, depression and suicidal ideation, stress under combat, routine combat military duty, mild predisposition, evidence by failure to complete college one semester from his degree; marked impairment.

 

LD:

 

Yes.

 

COMMENT:

 

This soldier led a rather unremarkable life until he quit college because he was “tired.” At that time, however, he had been working dull time as well as going to school and being married. He performed well on duty in the service until the time of his admission March 17, after being evacuated from a combat assignment on March 16, 1968, in Son My/My Lai region of Vietnam, when he was taken to hospital where a diagnosis of schizophrenic psychosis was made. Hospitalization and treatment have allowed him to return to the level of function with that which he held prior to entering the service. Maximum benefits of hospitalization have been obtained. Because of the nature of his disease and the possibility of recurrence, it is recommended that he be separated from the military service for medical reasons. There is slight impairment of social and industrial adaptability.

 

RECOMMENDED:

 

That this enlisted man be presented to the Physical Evaluation Board.

SIGNED:

 

Norman B. Krayze II

CPT., MCUSA

Psychiatrist

 

Medical Board Proceedings: Letterman GeneralHospital. By Direction Of The Appointing Authority. The Board Convened To Evaluate the Patient.

 

item 16:

 

The patient was present during the proceedings.

 

item 17:

 

The patient did not present any views on his own behalf.

After Careful Consideration Of Clinical Records, Laboratory Findings, Health Records. And Medical Examinations, The Board Finds:

 

item 18:

 

The patient is medically unfit for further military service in accordance with current medical fitness standards.

The patient is considered to be mentally competent for pay purposes and has the capacity to understand the nature of and cooperate in the board proceedings. He is in no danger to himself or others and can be discharged to his own care.

 

item 21

 

Brief Summary Of Medical Condition And Physical Defects In Non Technical Language:

thinking disorder

 

item 7:

 

The Board Convened At,

US Army Physical Evaluation Board

San Francisco, California, 94129

Date:16 July, 1968 Time: 1500

 

Diagnosis From Medical Board:

 

1.     Schizophrenic reaction, other, schizo-affective type (MD BD Diag

 

 

***

 

Personal note here: They gave me an honorable discharge, 700 dollars severance pay and now I get 90% compensation for being crazy. That’s over a thousand smackers a month for the rest of my life or the US government, which ever comes first. I wonder which 10% of me is sane.

 

CHAPTER SIX

THE BONNY OCEAN ROLLS ON AND ON

 

The Eurysthenes is in the middle of the Atlantic today. Between America and England; the sea has been rolling in the dance only the makers of the universe must know. A secret power both beautiful and yet so frightening.

 

The sailors have always called the ocean a woman. Now I am beginning to understand. At night I lay in my bed looking out the portholes into the darkness of time knowing there is death and destruction for frail humans. The ship lunges to one side and then the other and I want to laugh at the comfort I am surrounded in; only a few feet of metal and technology separates me from power of time itself, the ocean. The mighty Atlantic. The beautiful woman that man desires to touch, to hold, to caress. She is too beautiful.

 

No man is big enough to control her, in her secret grace. No man could contain her love. No man could caress her breast or touch her lips. Only the Gods understand her sensuous dance.

 

And She?

 

She tolerates this insect creature that fumbles across her back. She smiles the ageless smile of undying youth and strength and watches this arrogant little fool man scratch paths on her liquid glass skin. The ocean tolerates and waits her time out. She could squash us as a bug if she chose.

 

Yesterday the swells were short and fierce. Today they reach up to the sky and then gently mold enormous sinks for the 368 foot ship to slide down.

 

Everyone has become accustomed to this slanted world of rotating sky and ocean. There was much to talk, a very positive atmosphere indeed, we will reach the land on the other side.

 

My despair of the sinking in this ship seems to be nothing more than the little boy who is about to take his first mad tea cup ride at the carnival. Only the Devil that lives in the back of my mind, begs I listen to his fatalist destiny of destruction.

 

No. Why stop the universe? It must go on. I am the center.

Soon, I will be in England; to find my way to Scotland, to see what secrets lay in the Book of Pages.

 

Life unfolds so slowly. I reach my arm into the midst of turning and stop the vision that is before me. Now. This now.

 

I am a vagabond king traveling in leisure, across the blue black ocean. My eyes take in, try to comprehend, pictures of painted reality; a strange blend of brethren, each with a personal picture painting machine.

 

We interpret each day in our own unique fashion.

 

The man from New York sees all of life, as one big dinner party. He looks through steak tinted glasses. No such thing as God or soul.

 

The young girl from New Hampshire fantasizes she is a dancer, as she crashes into the piano in the lounge, or falls on her back here and there. It scares me when she goes outside; sure she will fall off.

 

The young English woman seems to be a sensible creature although, rarely able to get out a thought without being interrupted by someone. It doesn’t seem to bother her.

 

The Captain and crew are Greek as Greek can be.

 

We were talking about how many people could get together and have a similar point of view.

 

The Captain said, “Only one and if you are in Greece, only every half person. We make the big argument with ourselves!”

 

There are a few Pilipino crew. They are timid in behavior but have clear eyes and beautiful smiles full of good teeth.

 

There is James, our English waiter/matre ‘d/bar tender and polished to a fine point good manners. I look at his face and listen to his voice. His face longish and angular with wide set intelligent eyes. The lids are like half tea cups. His mouth has the habit of bending down like the string on a hard pulled bow. His voice has a pleasant quality agents would love for radio. I like being waited on by James. He makes me feel like I disserve it.

 

Then there is Papa Hemingway or perhaps better, “Paladin, Have Gun Will Travel.” He says his name is Francis. He portrays a man of great gravity, full of serious knowledge and incalculable cynicism. But under it all beats a puppy heart yelping for attention, eyes puffy, as though he just woke, with a nose if it had legs, would look like a one-hump camel.

 

Francis has a habit of looking at you, as you stare back, you feel he is really trying to see something. It is not a bluff stare superior-complex people exhibit, penetrating, searching, silently questioning. Being observed by Francis, one feels some sort of answer should be given, or act on or move.

 

Francis anticipates the theater of the absurd. English he is, but tuned to an American understanding. After 18 years in Ohio, he is more American than English.

 

Francis, throws up outside my port hole because it irritates him that I have not been sea sick yet.

 

The first few days I only saw the veneer as he appeared boringly English as only the English can be. Each day he has morphed or reflected facet after facet, while the other passengers remain the same, giving little reason to search for anything more. Francis, who looks like Richard Boone and sounds like Hemingway is interesting. He has a nose big as a camel.

 

The Captain makes me laugh at his jokes while Francis makes me think. We have something to say to each other. Camel nose is twenty years older than me, but he regards my age as valid. Perhaps he believes his age is a lie. At a certain age, one should not be young. At another age, one should not be old. Francis is older than he looks, but younger than he is.

 

No one here, knows about you, Vincent. None of them believe you are still hanging around.

 

"They are blind. And I am not 'hanging around'. I am simply delayed. I will see my glory."

 

Well, maybe so, but none of these guys even consider a spook like you. As a matter of fact, except for the Captain and Francis, they don't even believe in spirits. They think the whole thing is just one big accident after the other. I think you are probably right. They are short sighted.

 

I don't understand how that guy from New York can not believe in God or souls. He's 64 years old. How does he think he lived so long? Just because he's lucky? What a nit-wit!

 

The women, at least have an excuse. Neither one of them has had a child. If they ever have a baby and still don't believe, then they were born without any brains.

 

Really. I find it preposterous that one could believe creation of life is just a self perpetuating happy accident. Hogwash lies of the Devil. Such fools!

 

"Don't lose your head, Santiago."

 

They made me feel crazy last night.

 

"You should not have attempted to explain. I am afraid you lost them when you began to tell them about your 'snowflake theory' nonsense."

 

Well...I thought they could understand something so simple.

 

"They thought you were insane. How absurd to compare all of life to a snowflake."

 

It all comes to that. It's the geometry I'm talking about.

 

"That is quite abstract. Very few people ever think of life in terms of geometry. You credit them too much."

 

I thought they could see the similarity in patterns.

 

"They have a difficult time seeing anything but their dream world and what they are taught to believe from people more blind than them. Snowflakes are what fall from the sky, not sacred messengers who will tell you the mystery of God."

 

I don't want to explain the mystery. I just wanted to tell them there is a reason for everything that happens.

 

"What difference would it make if they believed you?"

 

I'm not sure. Maybe it would give them hope when life is unbearable. When there is nothing to believe in.

 

"Do you believe they can be elevated from their humanness?"

 

Maybe not. I don't know. I just don't like feeling crazy. I'm astounded people think so little. I try to talk to them and make sense but it is so hard to share the Experience.

 

"Yes. I know too. I tried. They laughed and called me a madman. I was not insane. All of life I saw the misery and delusion around me. I tried to raise people from the hole their very being was deep in. They laughed. They chose to stay in their animal lives. I could do nothing to stop them."

 

Is that why you killed yourself?

 

No! Will you please stop asking me that foolish question? It is nothing of your concern!"

 

But Vincent don't you understand? I ask you that becomes at times I feel like killing myself too. At times I feel so crazy, everything I say is confused, senseless...I don't want to kill myself! I know it is a mistake. A real mistake. I mean, I am going die any which way I go or do anyway. Everyone does. It's nuts to kill yourself!

 

"You are quite right. Do not do it. You will be in the dark place too. I know what I did was a mistake. I did not mean to do it."

 

What do you mean...you mean?...it was a mistake?

 

"Yes! That is what I said you fool! A mistake! Amistake!"

 

Well...what happened? What kind of a mistake?

 

"Leave me alone! I do not want to talk about it!"

 

Vincent. You got to tell me. If you tell me maybe I can get you out of the darkness and get you home. Home free!

 

"No one can help me. I must wait."

 

All right. Punish yourself!

 

On the other side of the porthole, the sea whispers past the ship. For the last three days there has been a storm. Marching mountains set cadence to the ship and our lives. This beautiful woman has grown tired and now she slowly rolls to a gentle bed. Soon she will be calm and fall asleep only to rise again to dance another death teasing ritual. Her words are only hushed murmurs for she had stopped her tempest song.

 

It was another day, another year, years ago, I was walking down the beach feeling magnificent, feeling divine, feeling as though the world belonged to me.

 

The clouds were multi-colored blazing diamonds. Kites flew across the sky swirling in the wind with a life, a soul of their own. I was connected to all that lay before me. Time present. Time past. Time future. I was a God on earth walking in paradise. I had arrived at the moment of one.

Nothing surprised me, yet all seemed fantastic and new as never seen before. It was as though it was the first I ever saw colors or felt wind on my face. The ocean was pouring into itself. My eyes saw for the first time the marvelous garden of life. I was a child, completely captured in the timelessness of one moment.

 

I heard the most beautiful sound. It was a celestial chorus of millions of foreign voices, all sweet, so lovely, mysterious. I listened, yearning that they would not stop, and yet it seemed as though there had been no beginning to their song, as though I had always heard this wonderful sound.

 

Slowly I began to understand the foreign words, the same words over and over...

 

People of One

People of One

People of Fortune

People of Fame

All in the Circle

All in the Game

 

It was the most beautiful song I had ever heard. It came again and again. I began to understand and as I understood I became afraid and a great knot tied my belly hard and all of a sudden the voices stopped, that is, changed to the sound of the of waves breaking. It was the roar of the surf. I was standing in water up to my chest. I had been walking out into the ocean, without knowing.

 

How different the ocean is to me now. Now, I accept a living thing. Now I call it a woman. What a mystery woman is to man. The ocean is alive with its own soul. Years ago I was so young, believing oceans were only salt water, full of fish, squirmy things wiggling in the deep.

 

Last night I saw the moon and stars above the ocean. What jewels she wears, this exquisite one.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

THE SHIP COMES TO SHORE

 

In talking with Francis today, I realized a couple if things about you, Vincent.

.

“You compare that man with me?”

 

No, not really, but there are some striking similarities.

 

“And what might they be?”

 

Well, it sort of has to do with being checked in time and space—like I’ve been saying about you being stuck. Francis is stuck too, but he’s stuck here on Earth. I hate to think he’ll be like you, stuck in darkness someday.

 

“I am waiting I have told you this.”

 

Yeah, I know, but I don’t believe you.

 

“Why do you think I should care you do not believe me.”

 

You don’t have to agree with me, just listen to my opinion and give me a fair chance, okay?

 

“I will try. Go ahead. Tell me.”

 

Well, to begin with, Francis loves to make an argument out of anything. He rejects the very things that allow him to be what he is and…

 

“That does not make sense.”

 

Let me finish will you?

 

“Go on.”

 

He’s a skeptic. He refuses to believe there might be a positive reason for this world to be exactly as it is…

 

“Now you are going to tell me this pit of existence has some value?”

 

Yeah, but let me say what I’m trying to say. It’s not easy talking to you, you know Vincent?

 

“Get on with it.”

 

Well…it’s a choice…I mean we can choose our viewpoint about the meaning of this whole experiment. So we make a choice and it is either right, wrong or somewhere in between what we really want…

 

“Would you stop babbling and say something I can understand?”

 

I’m trying! Stop interrupting! Jesus, Vincent you are really rude. Okay? For one thing I’ve been thinking about what Rembrandt said to you. What was it again?

 

“Anticipate if you must, but participate and trust.”

 

Okay. See, Francis anticipates what lies in front of him so much that he doesn’t participate in the actual moment of now and trust it for what it is. He is so paranoid and convinced the world is a rip-off that he can hardly make a statement without pouring suspicion into it.

 

“And how is that like me?”

 

Let me finish about Francis…okay, so the world is a rip-off…suspicion…distrust. If Francis does make a positive statement about something, it is in direct opposition to something—the positive always balanced by the inferiority of something else. He can’t simply say something is good and stop.

 

“You are wrong. I have not found him that way at all. Her is quite a logical and qualifying man. He has reason to question his fellow bed-bugs of humanity.”

 

Oh my God! What a pair you make. What I’m saying has a lot to do with his so called logical mind. Yeah, he is very intelligent—his mind always building a fantastic booby trap that he falls in himself.

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

Like this ship man! So what if it’s a bucket of bolts. It has got us this far, hasn’t it?

 

“You have not got to shore yet.”

 

Yeah, well, that is exactly what Francis said. What difference does it make about the ship if it doesn’t make it and we sink and die? I mean, it’s not really in our hands. The best ships get sunk. How about the Titanic? Anyway, there are probably a lot of floating death crates that will outlast this ship. Remember Van Gogh, you were a missionary once. The lord shines his sun on the just and unjust alike…

 

“Oh bother! You are such a simple minded Bible spouting fool. Why are you telling me such nonsense? I have had enough, enough!”

 

Stop being crazy and listen for a minute.

 

“I am not crazy!”

 

Okay, you’re not crazy.

 

“Make your point.”

 

All right. Righteous indignation, that what it is.

 

“What?”

 

You and Francis are both stopped at righteous indignation…Vincent? Vincent!

 

No Words. I wait, but there is no reply. The light comes in through the portholes throwing crescent shaped beams on the cabin walls reflecting diamond cut brilliance from the afternoon sky. The portholes are like two round blue eyes of Father Sky. God is shining the world to a warmer moment.

 

We had been out in the Atlantic for three days before I asked the captain the details of a gale, because he kept saying “Force 11 continues, bastard!” Why should I know anything about gales, I was a landlubber.

 

So how high does the scale on a gale go I asked casually. He said, “It goes up to 12,” and looked at me blankly, like what kind of stupid was I. Is there something after 12 I asked trying to get my sea legs adjusted. “Yes,” he said, “it is called CHAOS.”

 

After 12 days we come around the south of Ireland into the English Channel and the mountains of water melt to a rolling plain.

 

The storms have past. The football field length of the Eurysthenes slides in the vast cleavage of this beautiful woman, the Atlantic. She is letting us slip away to find our trouble on land again. The English coast is not far.

 

Time has become only a word since I came aboard ship. It has lost meaning—only a vague memory it exists on shore. Here one day is the same as the day before—like it has only been one long day with a multitude of short naps where I dream I go to bed and get up on another day—yet I try to discover what is unique about each day so I can remember I have traveled through time—to know the journey is forward to new land—not just a surreal dream endlessly circling on a timeless ocean.

 

But today. It was a separate day from the other days. Today there was some type of conflict. Francis was being Francis or whoever he is. I felt he was walking on ground he had no right to be on. I got tired of his lambasting the world around him. It’s my world too. Up to today, I had not said anything in difference to his persistent condemnation of life.

Today it depressed me. I got bored of hearing his sad song. What can you do? Say fuck off, you’re wasting my time! Or do you do like I did, and try to be diplomatic about it?

 

It turned into a bungle of twisted words and bent understandings. I wanted to scream “This is bullshit.!” Our talk ended as suddenly as it started. Later we talked again, but just kind of looked at each other thinking, “Here’s looking at you.”

 

I wonder why I talk at all. Everybody is crazy! Everybody!

 

“Oh my, is it a touch of righteous indignation I hear?”

 

You again, huh? Well you’re nuts too!

 

“I thought you were the one above name calling and finding terrible things to talk about.”

 

All right! So I’m frustrated, I have just as much right to get frustrated as anyone else. I don’t try to make a life style out of it.

 

“Oh yes of course. How foolish of me? How could I say such a rude thing? I simply lost my mouth.”

 

Don't be sarcastic Vincent.

 

"I must say, I do not understand your diagonal comparison of me to Francis. He is not the slightest bit like me. He is interesting I admit, but he is not a man like me."

 

I know one thing you have in common.

 

"Yes?"

 

You both have superiority complexes.

 

"What?"

 

Yeah. Francis can see the trouble in everybody else, but he can't see it in himself, you know, the old log in the eye parable...and you...you can't admit can't admit you made a mistake and confess to a simple thing--that you're human, or at least was...and now...you're just a spook suffering delusions of grandeur.

 

"I believe you are the one who suffers such."

 

Believing I am a supreme creation isn't a delusion. All of humanity are supreme creations, but some just never wake up to it. You know Vincent, I'm blessed, but I'm being blessed. Do you really think you are going to show mankind something new?

 

"You seem to know very well what I am all about. Hah! So, I have a superiority complex do I? While you! You reflect everything you know, on all that is around you!"

 

Oh man! This is getting ridiculous. Okay, I won't make any more judgments on you or Francis. Yeah, I'm no better than either of you meatballs.

 

The sky had been crossed with grey torn clouds ever since we sailed out under the Verazano Bridge. Twelve days later we would dock in London.

 

As we sailed around the tip of Ireland the last evening the sky was brilliantly blue, with a full moon rising.

 

After our meal that night I went back out on the forward deck. The sea had settled to a flat smooth surface. The moon lay directly in front of the ship, reflecting a silver gold path the Eurysthenes seemed to be following, leading us home.

 

It was as bright as day allowing me to see the southern shores of England. I watched for hours with a strange sense of familiarity touching my face as an warm breeze flowed around me.

 

Then, there they were, the cliffs of Dover. I had seen photographs, maybe even films of those massive white walls, but never in the light of a full moon.

 

Something happened to me I could call deja vous, but it was far more than that. As the Cliffs of Dover glided by in the moon light, the whitened silver of those vertical walls rang an echo of sound somewhere within my soul. I knew I had seen them in different ships of another time. I had been there long before.

 

Those shimmering slopes were part of my being no less than my arms and legs. It was the first time I ever had an experience of knowing I had lived in another life, in another world.

 

I’m depressed. The ship is in the mouth of the Themes. Soon we will be in London.

 

This part of the journey will be over and reality lurks on the shore. I feel a combination of exhilaration and despair. After all this time I am finally coming back to Europe, the Europe I saw for two weeks in the nut house on my way back from Vietnam. The Europe, now I am convinced, I lived another life, long ago. I am confused and insecure.

 

Suddenly time has meaning again. I am faced with the problem of survival. I mean, I know I will survive, but starting the start is always the scariest part. My outlook feels black. All of life is a blur of loneliness and empty highways leading to ghosts towns.

 

The chaos of my life is well past gale Force 12.

 

I try to make my life ordered, yet moments such as this, all I see is a million parts of a million meanings—the Army, spooks, the stripper, Francis, My Lai dead faces, the nut house, this ship, a sailor who once was me—a film strip of mingled insanity. I feel hopeless. I have no direction and destruction is near.

 

I am insane for believing what I believe in, but the instant I need to have faith in what to believe is the instant my beliefs disappear.

 

Life is a brand new game. Chaos is King.

 

Very soon I will be in London; a dream I have had so long soon to manifest; years of desire to come to this land, at last fulfilled. Questions of the old world at last answered. Or perhaps, my return from where I once was…

 

Perhaps the flower of new hope soon will blossom, but what is wrong with me? I am not happy or even strengthened by the completion of this circle.

 

I am shaken, afraid as a little boy is of the dark. What is out there on the other side of life? I have fear of a monster of no size, no shape. It is the feeling I have when I dream I am flying then I realize I have no wings. How is this possible? I can’t fly. How can I go on?

 

My mind swirls. I am lost, and yet there is no direction but forward. Every ship must come to shore or sink.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

THE CHINESE EXHIBITION AND BICYCLING IN ENGLAND

 

London, small streets. small cars clumped together like bees in the hive. The streets are full of Anglo-Saxon types. It figures. This is their home.

 

My taxi cab weaves a lunatic pattern through the bead work of people. I feel light headed looking out the window. My eyes are witnessing the report. Yes, I am in England. The ship made it.

 

When we got to the port the captain was told the ship was not sea worthy and it was a miracle we made it considering then storms we sailed through.

 

We were the last passengers the Eurysthenes will ever see.

 

But I am in England and now it is a sea of people. I arrive at Paddington Station. I see an American. We stick out like the proverbial whatever. He’s got a back pack with Head Ski’s strapped to it. He has a scraggly beard. He is young and touring Europe. He must be going to France or Italy. I don’t think they ski in England.

 

The English women are lovely. They are so pale and blond. They dress in suits and high heels.

 

I get on a train going to Oxford. The countryside rolls by. The miles disappear so quickly. The Eurysthenes seemed to just spiral around in puddles of sea for 14 days while the only thing that moved were the clouds above.

 

I try to make a conversation to a young woman next to me. She seems to think I’m a retard. She has no idea I have been lost in a rolling sea for two weeks. Obviously I don’t give her the impression of being rich and famous. She gets bored and goes to sleep in the middle of one of my sentences.

 

The train screeches out a long thin whistle and we come to a shuddering stop at the Oxford platform. I am here to see my old friend John. We were in the army together. He is studying philosophy at the university. I think he is trying to figure why he was in Vietnam and did what he did, just like me.

 

The days pass gently. John and I don’t even mention Vietnam let alone My Lai. He is preoccupied with Spinoza and Sartre and I am making plans for my journey to Scotland.

 

It’s a week with John getting ready for my journey north. The second day I was in Oxford, we went back to London to see a ancient Chinese art collection. In 1968 there was a discovery of an old tomb. On our day in London I made my own discovery.

 

I try to remember what I discovered, but I am in a different frame of mind now. I imagine too much. The separation between reality and my dream world is too thin, like skating on an icy pond in May.

 

After several days in Oxford, my emotions took over in a very neurotic way. I was incapable of relaxing. I wanted to run, like the day I ran in the hospital. But this time I knew there was no place to run.

 

Like Van Gogh I am stuck---stuck in the eternal here and now, unable to dress up the drabness of my life with the blessing of fantasy. I devised a plan; more than likely just to delay my arrival in Scotland. I am afraid of what may not be there.

 

I bought a bicycle to peddle the 400 miles north. It is the middle of winter. The wind and rain are King and Queen. The last few nights there have been hurricane conditions and here I am with the idea to poke along on a salvation journey to the land of Rob Roy. I feel mad.

I am unable to sleep at night, until at some point I am so tired I pass out. I make it sound too serious. Perhaps I am melodramatic. Life is complicated even if I believe in simplicity.

 

What happened in London?

 

Whatever it was, it has lost meaning amidst the whirlpool of events. I am sure something happened but it is so much like dream.

 

I see myself bicycling up long steep hills. The bicycle is loaded down with personal belongings and equipment. It is like a mini-house. I have three changes of clothes, a tent, sleeping bag, a Swedish cooking stove, a short wave radio, an old guitar and a load of eating utensils I hardly use. It’s all nonsense. Why couldn’t I have bought a train ticket like any normal person would do?

 

I remember now tiny shreds of the day in London. The Chinese exhibition keeps coming to mind. I must have gone into a trance. Parts are so disjointed which is weird because it was only a few days ago. No, that is not right. Time is longer than I can remember only two days from Oxford.

 

Last night I slept in a cemetery during howling storm. I was behind the Trinity Holy Church. I had a silver crucifix around my neck I kept rubbing it all night long. Spooks were making a lot of noise while the wind whirled a mournful music through the trees.

 

Before I fell asleep I became calm, subtracted from the fearful lashing of weather beating the flaps of the tent. Ghosts were not interested in me.

 

Tonight I am on the side of the road, just a short distance from several gypsy families living in small silver campers. I don’t really know if they are gypsies but I like to think of them that way. A little girl came down and asked me why my bike didn’t have a motor. I told her it ran on beans. She laughed and thought that was good idea.

 

Something in the back of my head is touching me, it is the Chinese exhibition.

 

We took the train into London and rode the underground around the city. I am remember walking the street thinking yes I am really in England. I was still having difficulty walking on land. My friends were playing the roles of husband and wife while I amuse myself watching European architecture slide by as we bumped from place to place.

 

We came to an opening somewhere near the center of the city. There were posters with strange green figures slapped along the subway walls. Each sign had large black letters proclaiming THE CHINESE EXHIBITION.

 

We walked into a rainy plaza surrounded by buildings decked out in gray-green mossy Greek figure sculptures. Engraved high on the front of the columned entrance was ROYAL ACADEMY OF THE ARTS. William Blake had many confrontations with this society. A few more vague recollections rumbled in my mind as sediments of color washed over my eyes and chips of broken chatter filled my ears. I felt drunk but I was cold dead sober.

 

A soft vibrating intensity began melting over my existence as we went through the doors and ascended the wide staircase to the first floor exhibition.

 

The photos on display in the big atrium walls was a dissected panorama of the Great China Wall. Deja vous. A warm trickling strand of image sifted past yet I was incapable of grasping a straw of the moment of when I had seen all this before.

 

Years ricocheted across planes of my soul as I saw my body below me standing in front of that great wall, my hands beating on the stones, blood pouring down my arms as Chinese warriors with long muskets and swords rushed past me, as though I was invisible.

 

I felt insane. Lost, crying, distorted time. I was there at the Great China Wall. Then it was gone. Another moment, surreal, then back in my body, on the staircase in the Royal Academy, London, England. The Chinese Exhibition.

 

Perhaps I had become too casual about my mind drifting away. The complexities of time fell around me. Something tugged at me through a dream world. Nothing I could place.

 

I entered the first room. At once I was a aware of the sameness of this exhibition and Van Gogh’s in San Francisco. Hoards of people; the mindless tromping of feet; puzzled brained eyeballs glaring at objects; the same crowd that goes to carnival freak shows like the calamity of rubber-neckers gawking at gory car wrecks. I was in the middle of it again.

 

I ignored the feeling and walked on knowing I was also a voyeur.

 

A faint chiming, clear, a metallic sound drew into the room. At first I thought I was imagining, but no, there were bells, bronze bells hung on the wall filling the space. Music wafted down out of ceiling speakers, probably a recorded loop, but it seemed too familiar. My spine tingled. I went on to the next room.

 

Chinese ceramic pots, taller than me. There were Buddha’s and ornaments, curiosities from of hands of artisans from hundreds, thousands of years before. Novelties of the times.

 

The next room. So many people. Tromp, tromp went the feet. The art crowd on rampage. A poster explained the artifacts in the following rooms. I had an urgency to get through the rooms as quick as possible, but I read the poster.

 

A paragraph described the finding of the Tomb of the Prince Liu Sheng who died in 113 BC. For company, with him in the tomb was Princess Tou Wan. They had form-fitting jade caskets made from thousands of square pieces, laced together to fit the body with golden wire, except on the Princess, the pieces on her breast were joined together with silk

so not to chafe her skin.

 

The poster had a highlighted section: “It may be noticed Tou Won’s suit has jade ears, while her husband had none.”

 

I had to see this room. It was a very small, dark room with kind of an optical illusion that made it seem large. In the center, from the floor to the ceiling, was a rectangular glassed chamber, leaving a margin of two feet around the casket. I could see the faces of the other art-gawkers staring through the windows down at the casket of the Princess. Her ornate form lay stretched out with the arms and legs extended, surrounded by reflections of faces mirrored across the glass looking into a thousand years past. We were voyeurs of time witnessing the death of another civilization.

 

I couldn’t help but think that the Princess was waiting to be released into light that would guide her home.

 

I felt a chill in the air even though I was sweating from the heavy wool clothes for the winter outside. The coolness persisted, like being in the depth of a chambered cave in a cold rainy country.

 

Something brushed my face, like a damp feather, like a lost soul touched me, trying to reach deep and secretly in me. Something was pulling at my mind, something trying to form words.

 

I sensed a sadness. A heart was crying torment. Something, someone was reaching out to me.

 

Ah hell, it was just the floor boards squeaking and an old English bag had a long feather on her crumpled felt hat. Who in the hell did she think she was, Robin Hood?

 

Murmurs filled the room; fragmented syllables of people babble. The wooden floor board played duet squawking John Cage cacophonous notes.

 

But there it was again. Something touched me and the feathered old bag was across the room. Another soft sound, sifting, weaving into the tapestry of fifty strangers. I heard it when I first saw the bronze bells, hanging motionless with a small speaker behind them piping recorded bongs. Now the bell tones were laced with mystery, anguish and hope.

 

My heart understood but my brain was only being stirred, slowly awakened.

 

Was it Vincent again? No, no, it’s not, yet close to him. God, was I crazy? What was the confusion in my mind? I had to ask.

 

Who are you? Please, who? What are you trying to say?

 

Little children were tromping on the squeaky floors. Chatter and surprise. Rolls of human sound reverberated off the glass cage of the Princess. There was no answer. I felt dizzily drunk or insane. The room seemed to rock slightly. My stomach was queasy and for a scary split second I thought I was going to throw up. I heard it again.

 

There was someone, some thing in the space near my ear forming words. I heard it clearly.

 

I hear you. I hear you. I said that out so loud several people looked at me then each other. I lowered my voice to a whisper.

 

What? Say it again. Who are you?

 

“I? I am Princess Tou Wan.”

 

CHAPTER NINE

AND THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN

 

I gave up today. I had dizzy spells again, but my legs went rubbery weak. This is madness. I could just get on a bus or train and I would be in Edinburgh in no time at all.

 

I’ve come so far; through Nottingham, York and Durham. I’m only 85 miles away from Edinburgh now but I feel like I’ve come to my end. My mind is reeling with the turn of the spokes on the bicycle and the strange sounds of a distant nightmare.

 

Was it night time? I don’t know. Indeed, a Chinese Princess and Van Gogh. It’s all insanity. This journey is only making me crazier. First it was when I was near York, then later that spooky castle in Hemsley.

I was trying to get through York but I couldn’t find the right road. I went three miles the wrong way then four miles another wrong way.

 

Laugh Van Gogh. You try pedaling a heavy old police bicycle with 50 lbs of junk on it. It was when I finally found the way that I got all weirded out.

 

“Do you think I care? But tell me about it if you want.”

 

I was coming down this hill and I heard an animal roar coming from what looked like a sports stadium. It had to be crowd of people, but still, it was animal, violent and cruel. A shiver went up my back and suddenly I had a kind of dozy feeling, like a trance was coming over me. A dream flashed across my mind. Fog came over the road and I was still on the bike pedaling to Scotland. The crowd roared again except now there was whistling and stamping and clapping.

 

I went through a time hole and I was in some land years ago. Then I heard the same voice I heard in the Chinese Exhibition. I was in a huge red room, like a vault or a wine cellar, but it was all red. It was how your eyelids look when you close them with the sun in front.

 

I heard all kinds of noises, chaotic, confusing, but behind it I keep hearing that soft pleading voice of Princess Tou Wan. Then there was a scene, well, really more a vision that I first saw in Bolinas, California in 1967. But this is weird, because while all of this going on, I am still on the bicycle pedaling towards Scotland. I swear this stuff all happened.

 

I come out of the trance, and I am on the other side of the stadium, and I realize it is just a soccer game, and thousands of drunken English thugs come stumbling out. I’m not big on any sport, so all of the agitation over people kicking balls around seemed crazier than me hearing voices and seeing ancient war scenes that no one else could see. But that has nothing to do with the weird dream hearing the voice of the Princess.

 

What was going on? The crowd, the masses of angry men shouting…I remember the dream thing. I was standing in the center of a huge red world where millions of people were around me. They were clapping and whistling and cheering me on. I was getting very close to a great thought I knew had monumental importance. The closer I got to realizing it, the louder the millions of people cheered.

 

You know how it is when you have a forgotten word on the tip of your tongue? You almost remember it, and then it slips away kind of, just dangling out there in front. Well, when this thing I was trying to realize slipped away, all the people that were around me would shoot off into outer space. Then when I would almost remember the thing, they’d come back in a big celestial circle, all of them cheering me on.

 

That’s what went on in the vision, but here I was pedaling this bicycle years later, with this sweet little Princess moaning, “Help.”

 

“You are making this up of course.”

 

No, I’m not Vincent. Honest. It’s the truth, but I have a hard time trying to sort it out and make sense…

 

“Who is this Princess you keep talking about? What is she supposed to be?”

 

You know Vincent, it gets kind of confusing. I don’t know what the other part was about, I mean the castle…

 

“Now what are you muttering.”

 

The castle. The castle in Hemsley. When I walked through it I could hear music and see people dancing and there was velvet and gold and hunting dogs. There was the smell of food cooking and a stench, like musty armpits. It just came to me in a flickering vision, like an old time movie…then just as quick nothing was there and I was just standing in the ruins of a broken old castle…

 

“Tell me about the Princess. Was she in the castle too?”

 

I don’t know. I kept hearing her voice. I hear it now. Don’t you?

 

“No, but I sense there is some one here other than us.”

 

Well…look…I’ll try to talk to her again. I know she is here. Okay?

 

“Yes, if that is what you want.”

 

Look here Princess, you’ve gotta talk to me and Van Gogh. We both are stuck and you don’t seem to be much better off. We need to get together and get our problems worked out. I’m confused. Please talk…

 

“Oh my God. You are confused? You are an idiot and I do not know why I listen to you.”

 

Van Gogh you have absolutely no patience. Try to be a little more positive. I know she’s here. You’ve got to be a little more believing or she’ll never talk.

 

Princess, I believe in you. Do you think I would hear you crying if I didn’t believe in you? Worst of it now is Van Gogh is just like you, but he‘s finding it tough.

 

“No, I will try, I promise…Princess?”

 

Did you hear Princess? Vincent is going to be a little more positive. He doesn’t mean to be rude…he’s just that way. Talk to us…

 

Tintinnabulation: a hollow ringing in my ears. I am reminded of the exhibition; Chinese bells. My body is fused with Benzedrine energy like an acid electrical glitch rolling into the pulse of ocean, so close the wind tears the sky. Faint whispering, mind echoes, time ceases. It is the eternal theater of spirits.

 

No consciousness of eyes, more like my head is cracked wide open and visions swirl around. I am standing alone. Naked new as if I never lived before. No thought back, or forth, only this moment.

 

A flat plain, an encircling seashore. The rumble of a world turning axis while stars slip by and I am lost in space. Profoundly I find myself. There is experience, but only here, now. The body is gone. Nothing but light energy, an oval shaped orbit of light, yellowish and orange with a vault of blackness beyond.

 

Hesitation and anxiety fill my being. There is another small beam of light, also oval, vibrating, but in the far distance and the color of blue, but kind of violet too. I know it is coming to me. It grows in size, quivering electric pulsations.

 

In some lost corner of my vision, another oval, but red to green, colors as stars twinkle, full of color one instant, then blinding white.

 

The two ovals dance my way, nearer and nearer, then the blue violet one comes to my light and I hear a voice.

 

“I am here. I am Princess Tou Wan. I will talk with you now, but this Vincent must stay at distance.”

 

Princess, is the red green light Vincent?

 

“Yes that is he, blind to himself and to us. He only senses that we are here. As a child, he has hunger, but sees no food. Our light is the nourishment he can not see. Perhaps he will hear. Perhaps he will see.”

 

Princess, I am puzzled. In the last seven years I have experienced so much, I can no longer tell what is real, what is fantasy.

 

“All is real, all is fantasy.” The light fades violet.

 

I’m afraid I don’t understand. I mean some things just aren’t real. Sometimes I feel so deceived…

 

“It does not matter if an experience is what you call real, or if your thoughts are only fantasies. What matters is if you understand the lesson given to you. All experience is your lesson to learn. You must choose with a brave heart.”

 

The violet blue wobbles on my right, while the distant light burns an intense red.

 

But aren’t there lies that have no meaning at all?

 

“No, there are no lies, only what one believes can be touched. In life all is truth. The balance of justice is always measured. Lies are only the inadequacy to understand truth.”

 

But isn’t there evil and treachery and misunderstanding?

 

“Yes, evil exists and treachery is its device, but it is only a tool or a path that serves to steer the destiny of truth. As for misunderstanding, it is the truth you choose to make a lie. We are not helpless. We have choice. Truth seems difficult, sometimes illogical, but it is always the most honest act. Evil only exists when one worships that thought. Evil disappears in the advance of a light determined will. There is only light, but one finds darkness when one looks for light by only what eyes can see, eyes that turn to dust too soon when only our soul journeys beyond time. Time is the folly of humankind. Time lives in the heart of the Dark Ones, yet all is truth, and nothing is false.”

 

Her light comes very close to my light, crystalline white, worlds and histories turning, swirling rolling like an old Hollywood newsreel. Walls come up, walls fall down. Beggars and clowns and kings all the same, multitudes of people appear then reappear to be only one person.

I become fearful, psychotic turbulences shake my thoughts. I want to run but I have no legs, no body. Heavy, burdened, sadness comes, overwhelming; I want to cry like a baby. There are no eyes for tears, just a yellow orange light.

 

I don’t understand Princess. I am afraid…but in a way…I almost know what you are saying, like I knew this all before, somewhere…is this just a game? Why are we here? What is Van Gogh doing in this place?

I can’t hang on to these thoughts. Words turn to blubbering and the sadness returns crushing my being.

 

“No! Do not feel this way. You are doing what your destiny has willed. Now you are just a voyageur, a traveler. Soon your purpose will be realized. We are here because of long suffering that will soon end. You are the first mortal soul to reach Vincent, but he believes life only exists on earth in flesh. He does not see spirit light because he does not believe. You believe the spirit light, you as a mortal can guide Vincent to the source. That is why we are here now. There is much for us to evolve before we become the one we have always been.”

 

But Princess…why are you here? Do you need help too?

 

“Yes, I need great help. I am only a third of existence. I am here waiting for Vincent. We were once Divine Lovers but lost each other in Darkness. We have been here since the beginning of human creation. I am waiting for Vincent, the name he chooses now, but his name is man. He was Vincent on his most important reincarnation. He is Vincent now.”

 

You mean you were someone else too?

 

“Yes, my name in the beginning was woman.” The violet dulls until it is difficult to see, only a thin flame wavering blue, and it is a tiny wisp.

You mean…you mean, you and Vincent were Adam and Eve?

 

“We have been many names such as that, but our first name was man and woman.”

 

Why are you speaking as Princess Tou Wan now?

 

“This was my last and most important entity, but like Vincent I was arrogant and failed to learn all that passed my way. I became black hearted and was destroyed by my own making.”

 

You mean you killed yourself like Vincent?

 

“I was killed by my own creation, but it was Vincent’s hands that slay me.”

 

What! What was Van Gogh doing in your time?

 

“He was not Vincent but Prince Liv Sheng. I was his first wife and most loved, but I deceived and betrayed him. He strangled me with his hands. I brought my own destruction as I did his. He loved me, but he was a proud merciless creature.”

You are saying you and Vincent had many lives, and the last together was as the Prince and Princess?

 

“Each life as a mortal is separate that seems to be its own which involves the human notion of time. We have always had one life. Yes, we were the Prince and Princess. Now it is for us to be joined together again. You are the messenger to deliver us.”

 

Why me? I don’t see how I can help.

 

“No, your eyes do not see the mechanics of this adventure, but your heart feels and your soul sees for you. You will be guided without knowing what or why consciously.”

 

But why me? Why me!

 

“This I can not explain to your mind’s thinking. I can only say because this is your first and last life. You are the only one to join the love of man and woman back together for you have heard our crying hearts and understood where there is no understanding.”

 

I ain’t going to get any more lives?

 

“Your journey will be completed in this world. Many have come to it again and again, but for you it will be the one adventure. You should be joyful.”

 

Well, I don’t understand how I can understand without understanding. Pardon me Princess, but you sound like that 13 year old guru that used to talk in big celestial circles.

 

“And now do you doubt me?”

 

Nah, not at all. I’m talking to you ain’t I? I mean this all just seems crazy. No, preposterous! Like you and Vincent being he original lovers and Van Gogh murdering you and me being such a cosmic messenger and time doesn’t exist. I mean crap! It makes me nuts. This is some kind of dream or something. But I believe you.

 

“Yes?”

 

Why did Van Gogh, I mean Prince Lets Shrug or man or whoever he was---why did he murder you?

 

“His name was Prince Liv Sheng. I have told you. He killed me because I betrayed him in the worst way.”

 

Would you mind telling me what the worst way was?

 

“If you wish.”

 

I do, I do.

 

“Prince Liv Sheng had an older brother that was powerful and handsome. He was to inherit the Kingdom of China. I was greedy and discontent. His brother loved me and desired me more than any woman in the Kingdom. We plotted to murder Prince Liv Sheng, my husband.

 

When he came home unexpectedly one evening from a gaming event, he heard me in my bedroom pledging my life and soul to his brother. He heard his brother vow to murder him. Prince Liv Sheng loved his brother more than me. His heart burst with sadness and rage. He then came into the room and stabbed his brother to death. He cut out his heart and threw it to his hunting dogs. He then turned his rage to me. His hands red with blood around my neck, he took my life.”

 

Wow! That’s really heavy stuff. I thought that just happened in Shakespearean tragedies.

 

“No. It was real and it is the wheel of life. I must go now.”

 

Wait a minute! Please answer just a couple more questions.

 

“Your curiosity is more than I can bear.”

 

Just one more question, please…

 

Her light faded into a deep blackish purple. Van Gogh’s light is gone too. I looked down and saw my hands on handlebars and my legs pedaling a bicycle. I was on the road heading for Scotland.

 

CHAPTER 10

BLOWN TO SCOTLAND

 

Life is the constant chaos of characters and dreams. Danger surrounds us as we dance along Murphy’s Law.

 

Reality is hard and cold yet with a wisp of smile we come to dreams soft and warm. Rock me baby, rock me all night long.

 

I want to cry, but that is always overlapped with a lunatic urge to laugh then praise the Lord with joy. I’m leaf tossed in whirlwind circles. Faces pass me like merry-go-round children.

 

I interpret, trying to make sense of conglomerated stacks of stages and actors. Danger does not exist except in my paranoid mind where I am afraid of monsters. I am the only monster. Spooks stay away from me! Beware. I have evil eyes and can turn like a cobra.

 

Yet that is only one facet of this crusted gem Earth.

 

I am compassionate for old men in the slum streets of life, for dead cats along lost highways, for little flower children crushed before they bloom. I have pain for refugees who lay silent and suffer.

 

I have no sympathy for the howlers of self-induced misery.

 

I am cold and hard and soft and warm. I am the wobbling walker on a crystal tight rope working for peanuts in this circus charade---a speck of sand, no home, no roots, talking to the imagined spirits of Van Gogh and a Chinese Princess. Am I insane?

 

I am many things made up of multitudes of other things---a snowflake falling in a melting journey to the ground. I am. I am not.

 

Was it yesterday that all of this memory plagues me?

 

She said there is no time.

 

Perhaps the Princess is right.

 

No, that is shit! There is time, I remember, a time to live, a time to die.

 

Was it days ago or years?

 

I had been on the bicycle for a week, stopping at night where ever I could find shelter from the winter wind, setting up my vagabond tent. A sleeping bag, a small Swedish cooking burner, a radio, my world of small parts.

 

I had come through the North Country hills of England, heavy legs strengthless pushing peddles. I stopped at a bed and breakfast called the Tune Inn. Yeah, tune in, turn on, drop dead laughing Timothy Leary.

 

The Tune Inn was warm comfort, run by a lonely widow who wanted to seduce me. She gave me breakfast in bed on a silver platter, hovering over me, asking if I wanted anything more. If that happened today I would fuck the old bag, but I was young then, feeling rich and famous in a gold world of new beginnings. I told her food was all I needed.

 

The voices had left me. I wanted to be alone. I needed to be alone, away from the fragmented twin lovers of my imagination. I wanted only rest and let the old dame’s black pudding, sausage and eggs bring strength back. I stayed two days, letting the widow ply me with ale and food and coal in her fireplace, but I kept my prick in my pants. She wasn’t that bad looking and really not even that old, maybe forty. Sure I’d fuck her right now. But not then.

 

It was January, but the hills were green even though a cold wind cut at my exposed flesh as I peddled on northward. My black Raleigh police bike was piled high with a back-pack and camping equipment. Scotland lay in front of me. Land rolled under me at a snail’s pace.

 

A bubbling excitement kept me warm as the day’s sand clock sifted minute to hour. I was in a dream segment of consciousness coming from nowhere, going nowhere. Did I imagine New York, the Eurysthenes, London, the army, the nut house? Had any of it actually happened? Was it all just a joke?

 

The hills grew into mountains as wind beat rain like stones onto my face. There was nothing to do but peddle on and believe I was moving. It was a cold wet green vision laced with the smell of soaked sheep grazing on the mossy asphalt shoulders leading me to my destination, hell or Scotland.

 

Numb exhaustion took over my brain. All I could do was go back to the mantra of army training on a five mile forced march. Count numbers, one, two, left right, one two. One, two, three, four, what is the spirit of the bayonet, to kill, to kill, one, two, left, right.

 

Then in front of me, way up at the top of the mountain was a small bright green sign with white lettering. What I saw as I came closer I found hard to believe.

 

At the top in smaller font it said, WELCOME TO BONNY and below so bold, SCOTLAND.

 

Scotland. It was true, I was moving.

 

The road was very steep. The crest was further up the incline, maybe a football field away. I didn’t feel the energy to grunt the peddles onward, upward.

 

A monstrous gust of wind came directly behind me. The backpack tied to the rear of the bike, like a sail on a fishing scow, caught the wind. A strong but gentle hand heaved the bike, 60 lbs of travel crap and my 150 lbs. of future up those hundred yards over the apex of the pass and I began to glide down into the green land of a long awaited dream.

 

I was in Scotland.

 

 

Inject here the story of my first night in Scotland, January 25, Robert Burns Birthday,and the broken spoke that stopped me.

 

 

So it was. I was yet to arrive in Edinburgh, where I would meet the most invocative and seductive warriors of every gender I would ever know.

 

Edinburgh, a city of ancient lopsidedness of the 20th century. A city with a face, a character.

 

Some cities are faceless, soulless.

 

Not Edinburgh. There is a constant warm burr of flickering conversations in the thick green parks ringed by encrusted buildings covered in sooted tarnish, cleaned streets of knurled ancient cobble stone heads where people cherish their time in place.

 

The hills pull up  out of the ground that remind me of water frothing mountains rolling under the Eurysthenes in black terrifying nights, but here, here is Edinburgh, the city of fortress topped hills protecting pride and power that are subtle intention of songs and business---where meandering lives weave together like lazy flat country rivers.

 

 

Tell story of the Irish Guy who gave me a place to stay…

 

 

The first day I was there the sun came up in radiant celebration. The sky was clear, the day after Robert Burns’s birthday, a warm buffed Sunday. I rode around the city looking for my private adventure. I found the docks and the Royal Forth Yacht Club looking elite, exclusive.

Down on the Bayside Highway, gazing, amazed, seeing Edinburgh, believing every reason I was someone special given divine purpose.

 

Why me?

 

I kept repeating the question hearing no reason, nothing to do but accept my fate.

 

City traffic, people and curiosity kept my mind puttering down one street to the next.

 

One day, two days. I met an American looking back over his shoulder, another vagabond in Scotland. He did not have a bicycle, just a degree in psychology and working as day laborer digging holes in the streets.

 

There was a Scot carrying a black case who asked if I wanted to buy a guitar.

 

Tell story of him getting me a job at the Kings Theatre.

 

 

One happy face, then another. A surprise to see two happy faces in a row. I stopped at a shop window and checked if could still smile. Yes, there was a little smile.

 

The day breaks up. Moments ecstatic, moments lost and moments frightened, puzzled.

 

Who are these people who talk to me?

 

Van Gogh has been hiding out since the talk with the Princess. I have to talk to myself.

 

The Princess is off to the other side of the dream she was born from.

I keep making up plots and plans, a crazy dance with a cosmic gypsy.

 

How goes my life?

 

It would be easier to work in a factory, get a regular paycheck.

I would be easier not to think or feel, only plug along and do simple life.

 

But no! I am an artist!

 

If I am not, I’m at least socially and industrially inadaptable.

 

Ah what a joke it is to be an artist.

 

I went to the Royal College of Art today and lied my eyes out. A lot of good it does for the Princess to tell me about truth, my thousand lies later.

 

Miserable little lies.

 

It would have been better to have been giant preposterous lies.

 

If that is not enough, there is icing the cake of insidious philosophical speculations like say Nixon, me, hypocritical, caught with my pants down, no better than him, Nixon the liar and thief. It is the hierarchy of any institution.

 

I told the Art College Dean I was a famous artist but I left it behind. Degrees and exhibitions nation wide. America!

 

That lie went on. I told the Dean I had looked his college over and over. It passed my highest standards. Yes, I did have just the time to help their lovely institution out. The least I could do.

 

Yes they are begging for me to come back. Come back to America!

I should do my greatest art there.

 

Hah! I told them America no longer met my high standards. There was no spirituality. Only greed. It is a crazy lying country led by a demented man, a fool acting delusions of grandeur.

 

But you see I was describing myself, the monster, the assassin. The beast that lurks in the dark whether in the city or woods.

 

Of course the Dean did not believe a word. He did not hire me or even ask for my address. He knew I was full of bullshit, a madman. He did tell me he liked meeting Americans. “They are always terribly interesting,” he said.

 

Hey Van Gogh! Where are you? I need some help Vincent. I’ve got a lot of things I want to talk about. Where the hell are you man!

 

“Stop screaming please. I am here.”

 

Vincent. You know what? I feel really stupid.

 

“What do you mean by that?

 

“Man, I told so many lies today. I dug a hole for myself that got filled with crap. It was a fantastic display of self humiliation.

“Your life is nothing but a lie.”

 

Oh come on Vincent, have a little sympathy.

 

“You are the one who creates these problems. Do you want me to pat you on the head and tell you everything will be all right?”

 

Actually I wouldn’t mind. I feel very insecure.

 

“My God, I certainly can use my time for better purpose. You are a child.”

Okay, okay. Let’s just forget the whole thing. It’s done and over.

“Very well.”

Listen Vincent, what about the Princess? I don’t exactly know what happened the other day. Did you hear her?

“I…I can not remember. There was a moment that I felt warm, I could hear music…I felt as though warm water was running over my body…that is, for just a moment I had a body. I was live again…but, now it is gone. It is so strange, yet I remember, I had a body again.”

You didn’t hear the Princess and me talking?

“Talking? No, no talking. Just music, music the sound of wind chimes…a ringing, like bells.”

Bells?

“Yes, an odd bell like sound…”

Chinese bells?

“Chinese bells?”

Yes, the bells in the museum, those bronze Chinese bells.

“I do not understand.”

Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. At least you heard something and you say you felt your body?

“Yes. I could feel my body again. It has been so long since I Knew that feeling. Oh it was wonderful. But all of that is so bewildering. I think I must have been dreaming.”

I have that problem too Vincent. I mean I can hardly tell most of the time what is real and what’s not. But the Princess said it doesn’t make any difference.

“What are you saying?”

The Princess said that all the stuff that goes on in your head is just an experience that doesn’t matter if it’s fantasy or reality. They are just life lessons we are given to understand. I guess it makes sense if you think about it, but you know it puzzles me a lot.

“Lessons?”

Yeah, lessons.

“And who or what is supposed to be giving us these mysterious lessons?”

Come on Vincent, weren’t you a preacher or something once. Don’t you believe any of it now?

“Believe? I believe I am waiting justice. Someday I shall be in control again.”

Yeah maybe justice, but you know Vincent I’m not so sure how much control you’re going to have.

“It is my will. I shall rule again.”

Shit, you sound like Hitler. That part of you must be left over from your days as Prince Shushug or whatever your name was.

“You make no sense.”

I guess you don’t remember or you don’t want to remember. You sure you didn’t hear me talking with the Princess?

“What are you going on about?”

The Princess told me she used to know you. As a matter of questionable information, it seems she has known you for some time. She said you guys were the original lovers and the last time you were together was as a Prince and Princess. You were Prince Shoeshine…

“That is preposterous.”

Yeah, well maybe so, but that is what she said.

“You are making up this ridiculous story. You are lying!”

Don’t get so emotional Van Gogh. You know that’s how you always blow your cork and start slicing ears. Hey if you go whacko now, no telling what you might be next. Chop, chop old buddy.

“Shut up! Shut up!”

But Vincent I’m telling you what the Princess laid on me. She said you and her were Adam and Eve.

“No, this is impossible.”

She said you really went bananas when you were the Prince. Yeah man, cut out you brothers heart and then strangled the Princess with your nasty little fingers. You are pretty weird Vincent.

“Stop. I do not want t hear more.”

Yeah, the truth certainly gets heavy at times. You know I can relate to that cause I got a few dead bodies hanging on my head too man. But hey, I got some ideas of why you are in the dark now…

“Shut up. Stop. Leave me alone.”

I’m just telling you these things cause I think it might help you. It seems to me your problem is you always go around murdering someone or your self if no one else is available.

“No! I can not stand this. Tell these lies to yourself. I shall not speak to you again.”

But Vincent, don’t you see how this all fits together. I mean you being one of the original lovers, and a Prince and the world’s greatest tragic artist? It’s starting to make sense to me the more I talk about it. Everyone is entitled to a few mistakes Vincent. You were just the first of the biggest mistake makers. I mean, it makes sense you being so crazy and all. Listen Vincent, you know why you’re in the dark?

Vincent? Vincent!

Fucking Van Gogh! God he drives me crazy. Such a pouting S.O.B. and always indignant. I don’t know, maybe I was too blunt. It was a big wad for him to swallow but he takes it so seriously—no sense of humor. That has probably always been his problem. I’m tired talking to the lunatic. He depresses me. Maybe it is all a lie. I don’t know what I’m saying. Why should I care whether he is in the dark or not? What’s it matter to me?

Wait! What does it matter to me?

I can remember a peculiar feeling, a face—is it my face—no not my face, another and another. What is going on?

Seeping madness is overtaking me, time like wind that plays across the top of sand dunes. I am a single blade of grass struggling to hold in the shifting sea of rock grain. Smoke and silt. It sifts through the glow of the sun. Amber light fills my mind with foggy dancers tapping on my soul.

A face becomes clear, bearded, Chinese, then it melts to another crowned in gold, a king, then it morphs to a face so familiar, Van Gogh.

No. It is so similar to him. Hey, it’s Theo, his brother! No! Bullshit! It’s me. My face, what the fuck!

Do I even begin to understand? Have I been the Chinese Prince—the King in Hemsley, then Theo…am I Van Gogh’s blood? His brother?

CHAPTER ELEVEN

SCENERY MOVED AT THE KING’S THEATRE

This thing going on in my mind is ridiculous. The fantasy seemed reasonable enough when I first heard Vincent talking to me, but when the Princess arrived I began to wonder about my sanity.

Me, being a Prince, ex-king and Vincent’s brother is preposterous.

Besides that, the Princess said this was my first and last incarnation. How could I have been somebody else?

Maybe the Princess was lying or maybe I’m imaging everything. My life is getting too complicated. I have hard enough time talking with people that are real without this madness of me whispering to spirits I can’t see. Jabbering spooks and spirits, yeah!

I don’t know what to believe. I am just trying to be an artist for shit sake but I keep getting this fucked up interference.

Simplicity. That’s all I want but all I get is complication.

If I hadn’t drunk that bottle of whiskey my whole life would have been different. You know, one thing leads to another. Everything is interconnected. It all has to do with my snowflake theory. I’m sure that’s how I got this job I have now in the theatre.

I never thought I would be working in a theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland, but sure enough I am. On top of that it’s called The King’s Theatre. Wow, to think it all started with a bottle of whiskey. It’s like a chain of events that nothing could stop once I drank that booze. Yeah, it all fits together.

Where do I start to explain? Probably the rich people in Oregon that left me in charge of their house while they were on vacation. Yeah, that little party while they were gone, and my crazy friends that raided the liquor cabinet and wine cellar. It was one drink that led to another and in no time at all the wine was gone, but it was when that expensive bottle of whiskey was consumed. Shit, they nearly burnt the house down too.

It all would have been different if I had the money back then to replace the whiskey, but man I was so broke. I had to get a job and that is how I wound up in the strip tease joint.

I mean the jerk that got me in all the trouble happened to see the advertisement in the newspaper. It said, “Artist wanted to draw nudes in a night club act. Good hours, good pay.”

I was desperate. I had to get another bottle of whiskey.

I went to the night club and got interviewed by a lady called Baby Jane. She said it was a respectable job and she needed a good artist to fit into her act. Naturally I said I was her artist and could draw nudes blindfolded. Hey, I masturbated enough imaging forbidden flesh in front of me so it wasn’t much of an exaggeration. She was impressed and before I could whistle Dixie I had the job.

So there I was suddenly working in a sleazy strip joint drawing Baby Jane on stage—her being nude except for pasties on her nipples and a little patch of thread over her manicured private works. Right there in front of God and 40 or 50 dirty old leering lechers who were in town for banker conventions and what the hell who knows?

I got enough money the very first night to buy three or four bottles of that expensive juice. That wasn’t all I could get.

I was in the middle of some of the most gorgeous women I had ever seen and they were all taking their clothes off. I’m telling you that is not something a young man can just flat walk away from, you know what I mean? I mean hell, I’d had a perpetual hard-on ever since puberty and now there was something I could do about it. That’s how I met “the Stripper” who was going to be a big feature in my life.

The first time I saw her was when she came on stage and took her clothes off. Hell, she was just fucking amazing to say it simply. It was not exactly how I imagined I was going to meet a girlfriend when I was barely twenty-one. I was impressed.

How could I not be? Looking at a six-foot-two-inch stripper with gorgeous legs, fantastic breasts and enchanting deep brown eyes is a hard thing to ignore. Later that night she seduced me in front of fire place in the rich folk’s house. Hey they were in Palm Springs and left me the caretaker. I’d already almost burnt the house down, so what worse thing could happen?

It took the striper three months to convince me I was in love with her. Hey, you think it’s easy to fall for an older woman that has been married six times, been a street prostitute, a high dollar call-girl and a lesbian? The night I got my brains fucked out she decided to run away from husband number six and make me number seven.

It was a hopeless affair. I fell in love with her. That is a perfect example of a young man’s thinking with his third leg. Yup, it was that little appendage that fell in love with her Kama Sutra artistry. Her history gave her exotic lessons, such as a half-and-half, a straight and a Frenchy. If someone had told me the names of those combinations earlier I would have thought it came off the menu of a soup and salad bar.

It took a whole year before I married her. I knew it was the first BIG mistake of my life and that is why I joined the Army two days after we were married by the justice of the peace, I felt a great indebtedness to my country. It was February 1967, which was a wonderful time to join the American Army. Opportunities were unlimited in a fast forward moving global enterprise. It would only be a little over a year before I would have the experience of a lifetime, March 16th, 1968.

My wife, the stripper was not too upset about it. After all, she had completed her purpose with me in coming to the mystical number of seven husbands. What the hell, she managed to talk me into to sending her all of my monthly paycheck to boot. She hadn’t been girl on her back for nothing.

But then I would have never been in the nuthouse (another golden opportunity) if I had not been in the Army. Hey, after I joined I came to the shocking revelation I had made my second BIG mistake.

It was that fateful day, of March 16, 1967, when I woke up with dead bodies around me, I realized I still had two more years to serve my country in such fantastic fields of unlimited madness. I had to formulate a plan.

Okay, I had to be crazy to join the army in the first place. All I had to do was convince the army I was no longer dependable material. You think it’s easy getting out of the army being crazy?

Maybe I should back up in my story here concerned with the “Chain of Events Theory” all connected of course to that bottle of whiskey that cost more money than I usually made in a week. I could explain how I got in the nuthouse, but that is another story. The main thing here now is to tell you how a bottle of whiskey got me a job at the King’s Theatre.

Well, if I had never got in the nuthouse, I would have never met a very odd young man. He was one of the inmates in the psychiatric ward. He was carried into the locked ward by two monster-sized military police. They were holding him off the ground by the elbows.

He appeared to be flying between the two white helmets, singing a little song that went., “A pretty little bird flew out of sky, right into my eye, and now I can see , all that there is to be, for the time will tell, as the messenger I shall float, from this space to everlasting grace.”

I thought, “This guy is nuts!”

I was convinced he was out of his mind when he told his name. Michael the Archangel.

I hung out with Michael for a few days to see if he was tricking the army about being nuts, just to get out, just like me. Hey, two could play that game, but after a short while I knew he was bananas.

Yeah, he was insane and yet, he seemed to know something I didn’t. That’s why I asked him, “What is it that you know?”

He said, “You are looking for a key aren’t you?”

“Why yes, I am. What is the key?” I said.

Michael hesitated then said very slowly and seriously, “Read the first chapter of Proverbs.”

“You mean the Bible?”

This irritated Michael. “Yes, the motherfucking Bible, man. Read the first chapter man. That is the key you are looking for.” He walked away as if he was late for a meeting.

Now this is what I am getting to because if I had not read the first chapter of Proverbs I would have never become a Bible beating born-again evangelist, and I wasn’t an evangelist for very long before I was convinced God was speaking to me, and the more I listened the more God whispered cryptic revelations. He said all kinds of things and sent me all over the country.

 

One day I would be on a mountain in Oregon and God would say to me, “Go to Missouri!” I get to Missouri and God would say, “Go to California!” In California he sad, “Go to Mexico!” In Mexico, “Go to Canada!”

I was getting kind of tired going all over the place, but I left Mexico heading for Canada when I ran out of money in Colorado. God said, “Forget Canada and go to the mountains!”

So there I was high in the mountains of Colorado following the path of the Lord when He said “Go to Scotland!”

There’s more than once I got damn tired of running around in circles but after I got to Great Britain I started thinking it wasn’t God at all that was talking to me, but maybe myself or even the Devil.

Still, coming to Scotland seemed like the right thing to do.

But here is what’s funny. If I hadn’t been in Edinburgh, then I would have never met a long-haired-guitar-carrying-freak named Andy.

I bought the freak’s guitar right on the street, then just like it was part of a predestined routine he said, “How would you like a job at the King’s Theatre?”

It was an odd question ad to tell you the truth I wasn’t how I would like any job, being I was thinking I was already on a mission but it seemed like the thing to do so I said, “Sure, I’d love to work at the King’s Theatre.”

Okay so that’s the transition from a borrowed bottle whiskey to a job at the King’s Theatre.

Of course there were many more connecting factors that played into the movement but the idea here is simplicity. Yes, it is a little confusing. I don’t know why I had to do all those things just to get a job at the King’s Theater. The job was not what you would call a star position either. Moving sets between scenes behind the curtain is not my idea of fortune and fame. But I was afraid one night at the theater someone would say, “God told me to tell you to go to New Mexico.”

You never know when or where to expect a message from God. There is only time to wait and see.

To wait. I wait drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes in the morning. I wait painting the great masterpiece on my back in a celestial chapel. I wait riding a rolling ship on a rocking sea. I wait all the immeasurable moments of madness that leads to the instant of sanity. I wait for the silent whisper of the roar of truth. I wait for the crystal picture that clears the cataracts of the minds eye.

Always it is so---to wait and work in the waiting---to learn the patience as the sleeping winter earth waits for the awakened spring---0n this long path of understanding I walk in the dark night waiting for the light of each new day. I am waiting. You are waiting. We are waiting.

No, it is not a mad game, but an understanding that is beyond our puny comprehension. How can you convince the bud of a flower to bloom before its time? You must wait and observe the dance between the earth and the sky. The flower knows its time. Its celebration of color comes with the grace of waiting.

The lesson to learn is about mysterious hesitation. I wait and listen.

CHAPTER TWELVE

VAN GOGH’S LAST PORTRAIT

Puzzle work. From one day to the next the puzzle pieces fall out of happenings of life. Jigsaw patterns form the picture bit by bit. A moment comes that all is understood and then a new question is given birth. To be aware open to the vision of life only adds more complexities. When one is dull to the theater that revolves around us life is far simpler.

Woe is me. I have risen from my long bed of sleep. Now I am responsible for being awake, responsible for being alive. If I didn’t feel this way I would be more normal than I am. I mean I’m not what you would call a normal man. Maybe that is a lie. Maybe everyone sees things as strangely as me.

Maybe we keep it a secret from each other, like when I was in the nuthouse and I thought, “Wow, I’m in the loony bin and everyone is crazy except me.” A week later I found out all the other patients had the same idea. Later we discovered together the only ones really nuts were the doctors and nurses. A mind warp.

Well, that is all over now. Yet somehow I know I’m not your average everyday Joe. I don’t know if it is good or bad. I just know I’m different.

I came to this conclusion over a long period of time but it is not a new observation. I have been weird ever since I was a little kid.

I don’t believe what goes on, like the other day when I went to the Scottish National Gallery, a museum. Paintings have talked to me before but I have never answered them. People don’t want to see a grown man carrying on a conversation with a canvass on the wall. If only people listened to the whispers around them, they would know it is perfectly normal to talk to the spirits of other worlds.

Anyway the Scottish National Gallery is on Corbin Street, only a block off Edinburgh’sPrincess Street, between Waverly train station and the castle. I had walked past it many times before I felt the urge to visit another memorial house to man’s inspiration, art. I had no idea of what I would see and even less of what I would hear.

I seldom make a plan. Usually I am pulled by some magnetic force from one episode to the next. So it was the day I strayed into the museum.

The entire building was full of whispering and eyes popped out every time I entered a new salon. In truth it was embarrassing to be viewed by such a strange audience. You see, it was the paintings making catty comments. I felt so foolish. After all, why should they be talking about me and tossing such queer looks?

Some of the ladies were very lovely and should have stopped and spent a little time with them. Time spent with a gorgeous gal is never a waste of time. I couldn’t stop. I was pulled from room to room, meeting the old masters, Titan, Rubens, El Greco and old Rembrandt. He didn’t say a thing, only viewed me with dark caution or perhaps humor. I didn’t say much---kind of hard to have a one-sided conversation.

So there I was, meandering around trying to be casual and not too big-headed about my introduction to such renowned people. I kept wondering why who I was. I mean what was all the hub-bub over me? You know, because I am nobody.

All of a sudden I was shaken out of my wits, for a real hand touched my arm. It was one of the museum guards. Damn, for a second I thought I had entered the carnival of spirits. Like I died. Shit. It was just the guard.

He said, “Och aye, I get tired of it all. It is just so much rubbish. I have had enough of this stuff. I don’t need it. I never even look at it. Have no use for it, and to think of all the money squandered here. You see that one there, that Rembrandt. Half a million quid. Aye it’s good, but a half million? Just so much rubbish. The only one I ever look at is El Greco. Och, some of it is good, mind you, but a lot of paint has been washed off. Have you seen the one in the other room? They redid the painting and took off a lot of the finish. Now it looks rough. Aye, I have no use for any of it. After you see it day in, day out, ye lose all feeling about it. Aye, but some Americans come here and sit all day and say things like, ‘Oh, I’d like to have that in ma hoose.’ But I’ve had enough. Now upstairs, there ye have some good paintings, mind ye. Yes it’s true, it’s true. There are a few Gaugans and Renoir and even three Van Goghs. But this is tiring after a while. I have no use for it.”

His monologue finished, he walked away. It seems he had enough of this cocktail party of painters and paintings. Is it true that even Rubens and Rembrandt are boring to talk to after a while? He said upstairs was different, that is no, he said they were good paintings.

I expected the guard upstairs to tell me how he wished he worked downstairs. So, full of anxiety and mildly curious I climbed the stairs to meet the other celebrities and the vexation of my soul, Vincent Van Gogh.

Upstairs it’s quite. Only the ventilators vibrating in the background remind me of the air ducts in the Eurysthenes. It is the soft hum and whiz of electric wind. Occasionally a shoe leather squeaks as the soles scuff the nylon carpet.

In one room the Gospel of Christ is displayed by Poisin’s dark primary splashed ambitions. In the room to the right a small beggar-boy looks at me pleadingly. His shoes are too big and on the wrong feet. The room I am in is full of French men. Degas, Monet, Gaugan, Bonnard, Vulhard, Renoir, Seurat and Cezanne. Can anyone trust a French man?. There is one alien here beside myself. It is Van Gogh.

“Vincent?”

“Yes, I can hear you.”

“Vincent, is it different when you are close to your paintings?”

“I am always close to them. I live in my work. In my art lies my soul. I am more alive next to them. I am glad you are here. I can hear you better and at last I can see you.”

“You mean you couldn’t see me before?”

“No, I had no eyes to see. Here I have eyes. It is strange. I did not expect you to look like this. You were always a stranger to me in words, but now I can see, you are oddly familiar.”

“Didn’t you see me in the exhibition in San Francisco?”

“I looked a no one during that time. It was a horrible experience. Please do not speak of it.”

“Okay forget it. Listen Vincent, I’ve had some pretty peculiar thoughts since I spoke to you that last time.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well…it’s kind of about me being familiar to you and that whole strange business with the Princess and me being a King and you and her being the original lovers and how we’re supposed to help each other and …”

“Stop this babbling!”

“Vincent, do you know why I seem familiar?”

“No, I do not understand. It is almost as though I have seen you before.”

“You have seen me before.”

“What!”

You have. I know you won’t believe me, but, well, I was your brother.”

“What!”

“I was Theo, Vincent. I was your brother.”

“This is a lie and my dear fellow. You are a filthy liar. How dare you say you were Theo. You are not the man he was.”

“Yeah, well I guess I’m different now---everything’s got to change—but its true Vincent. I mean I don’t even know how I know, but it’s the truth.”

“Liar, liar!”

“Come on now. Don’t get so upset. I’m not that bad of a person Vincent.”

“You could not have been Theo!”

“I know, I know, it confuses me too, but I was damn it Vincent. I know I was cause myself and I was Theo. I saw some other faces too but for sure I know I was Theo. Look! Vincent! It makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean no one else has been able to talk to you. Only me!”

“No one else has spoken…this is true---but you Theo? No! No!”

“Yeah, its weird isn’t it? Look Vincent this all absurd. I don’t know why I was Theo and a King, and you were all those other people…either…but its obvious that we are here together…to help each other. This is no accident, Vincent. It’s just like I thought when I first started talking to you. We can help each other.”

“Yes…maybe you are right.”

“Oh thank goodness. You sure are difficult to convince…Vinz…”

“How?”

“Well I’m not really sure, but it seems the Princess has the answer to the whole deal. You can see now Vincent? You can see?”

“Yes.”

“Okay…we got to try to get the Princess Back. Vincent if you can see her maybe all thing will be resolved. Help me get her back Vincent. You have to believe…just believe.”

“I will try.”

“Okay. We’ll try. Uh, ah, I can’t remember.”

“Talk to her.”

“It was that easy?”

‘Yes, yes, just talk to her.”

“All right Vincent---but I don’t mind telling you I feel nervous about this. It’s not really an easy thing to do.”

“Why are you lying to me? There is no Princess, is there? You have made up this preposterous tale and now you balk at being it, and I should not believe you. You, you are a liar!”

“No Vincent. Why should I lie about this?”

“You are like all the rest—jealous and ignorant. You don’t know who you are dealing with.”

“Oh for God sake Van Gogh. I have never heard such a bunch of crap. How can you say such stuff?”

“I don’t trust you---why should I? You have tried to make me look like a fool since the very beginning—lies, lies!”

“Vincent, you’re really unglued you know! I mean sometimes I think you’re just plain nuts. I haven’t done anything wrong to you. I’ve tried to help you and all I get back is a bunch paranoiac negativity. Why don’t you cut off your other ear? You don’t listen anyway!”

A silver voice ringing my words away stops the argument. Tiny and pure the voice fills the museum halls with light. The walls evaporate. The pictures become real then like the walls fade into the geometric sparkled blackness of infinity.

The voice wavers, throbs, singing, glittering like thousands of birds flying over rolling waters. I am aware only of this sound. My body has melted with the walls and paintings. Once again I am only a point of thought in a timeless, seamless realm. I am existence in its first form. I am light.

The sequined dark vault surrounds me with an electric hum of dancing spheres. It is awesome and frightening. Then the voice comes again, pure crystal. It is the Princess.

It is a voice, but not like any voice. It is not hearing with ears, but more like words that are printed in my mind.

“Please do not be cruel to each other.”

A yellow and violet light of the Princess wavers with a pulsating flowing movement. At once I feel guilty, even stupid for belittling Vincent. I have remorse.

“Do not feel bad. We are here to bring joy to each other. The path can be seen and now we must journey onward. The moment has arrived.”

The red green light of Vincent is in the distance. It moves closer and the colors grow blood and earth in tone. I hear the voice of Vincent, but it has changed and now sounds humbled.

“I can feel…oh, I can feel! It is so strange…like before, I remember somewhere a long time ago…oh, no, no…”

His voice breaks and cracks. It is broken, crippled. Vincent cries. It is emotion, the pretensions are dropped, his heart bleeds inside the whirl of color.

It is a crystal moment. I understand his pain. I can see the tragic comedy that has been the existence of Vincent Van Gogh.

“Princess, we‘re together this time aren’t we? Vincent can see and hear.

“Yes, we are in the same circle now. We have come to our point of understanding.” Her voice is warm and happy.

“Princess, I feel strange, maybe confused...what I am beginning to understand…I mean I am happy, yet there is a sadness…there is only the three of us here…here, just three…I am one…a third of what is…Crap, it is impossible to think. Is this my life, is it real? Vincent is crying and I know why. I am, I mean we are three of all time…we are the trinity… the trinity of God…it is hard to believe, to understand.”

Vincent light dulls, he moans, “I am too weak for this. No, it is impossible. I do not have strength. I have failed.”

The yellow violet light brightens and the voice speaks softly, comforting, and beyond or within there is a tintinnabulation of a bell, “There is need to feel wrong. We are at our day of liberty. Both of you are trying to measure this moment into human understanding. That was another day. This time is the only time. Do not feel guilty. Believe your glory.”

“Princess, are we the Trinity?”

“Do not try to understand. Yes, we are the Trinity, but each human creation is the Trinity. Each of us is the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Each of us are born beyond time. Our hearts are tied to the mud of the earth. Our souls are forged from the light of the Universe.”

Vincent begins to cry. “I have failed. I have failed.”

The Princesses light washes over our tiny points of existence. We are drawn together so close the darkness disappears leaving the warm blood color of closed eyelids turned to the sun.

Her voice is silken as she speaks to Vincent. “Do not attempt understanding. Believe you are free now my love. We shall be together. The Darkness is no longer yours or mine. It is our time of liberation.”

Like a small child, Vincent whimpers, “Then this is it? It is over?”

Her light shines into a brilliant yellow and she speaks again, “The Darkness is over but it is not the end. Indeed we are at the beginning of a new and glorious world.”

My mind is whirling with a questioning amazement. I am not sure of anything or if what I am experiencing is really happening. I shout so loud I am startled by my own voice, “Wait a minute!...Uh, I mean, what is this stuff that is going on? Look, I’m kind’a having a hard time getting into this…like, I mean if you guys have always been so cosmic, how come all of the colossal screw-ups? What the fuck! I mean like you know from Adam and Eve you guys have done nothing but blow it---cutting out hearts and lopping off ear ad talking to snakes is hardly what I’d call celestial. Shit! Hey Princess, you talking about truth and light reminds me of a thirteen year old wizard selling knowledge like soap! Screw it! Hey this stuff about the trinity is patently fuck’n nuts! I’m having a hard time believing I’m even talking to wobbling lights which must be in my head. I must be fuck’n nuts!”

Vincent’s light glows hot red as sound vibrates from it. “Yes, yes, he is quite right. What a preposterous dream. What a cruel joke to play on me!”

“No! You are both wrong! Do not lose this chance to make our lives right. This is our last obstacle. If we fail now, it will be forever so.” The Princess’s voice is fearful. Her light begins to fade.

I look at the dimming light. “But…this is all so crazy and what I am hearing I can’t even begin to understand…like you said this is my first and last life, and yet I saw myself as many different people…ad the part about the trinity…”

“You are trying too hard to understand.” Her voice regains a confidence. “There is much you will not know until your time on Earth is finished. The human mind is too small. This is your first and last life. You existed before in the dreams of other lives---as you, like us existed fro the very beginning. You have lived on thought alone until this life. This is your first and last journey in this world in the flesh of man. Try to understand you have always existed.

“You mean the reason I saw those other faces was because they dreamed about me before I was born?”

The light of the Princes throbbed and then she spoke slowly, “Life does not begin or end but is a perpetual movement.”

I was beginning to get something. “You mean like Einstein’s theory?”

“Yes, he was very close,” she said softly.

“Who is Einstein?” Van Gogh barked.

I made an attempt to answer, “Well, I think he said something like you can’t destroy matter, but only change its form by means of energy---I think---well, anyway it’s the same as the Princess is saying, like if something is here, then it’s always here and always will be. You sort of said the same thing once Vincent. I remember reading it in one of your letters to Theo.”

“And what exactly was that?” Van Gogh’s light dulled to a pale green.

“Hmmm, well I don’t know if I can remember exactly but it was something like, uh,” I pause for a moment trying to think of it, “Oh yeah. If my life is of no importance now, then it has never had value. But if my life’s work is to be great, then it has always been of greatness. For corn is corn even if city folks seeing it newborn think it is only a blade of grass.”

Vincent laughed, “I did say that did I not?”

The Princess and I both gasp. Vincent has shown a measure of joy.

I push my luck. “Vincent, now you’re in good humor, will you answer a question.”

“Please do,” but his voice is flat.

“What did you mean when you said it was a mistake that you killed yourself?”

“I suppose it doesn’t matter now. It is strange but I am happy now. It is in a very different way for I have never felt this before. Yes, killing myself was a mistake,” Vincent said and then began laughing as his light wobbled between red and green. “Yes, yes! What a mistake. I am embarrassed. It was such a bloody stupid thing to happen.”

“What do you mean Vincent?” I look at the Princesses light and it glows in a pulsing whiteness. She is laughing too.

“You see, I was in a disturbed state of mind. I had been painting crows that flocked to my garden as I recall---they made such a ghastly racket---and my work was not selling---then an idea came to me, that if I attempted suicide, the newspapers might put me into the public eye---I thought it might promote my work…”

“You were just going to fake a suicide?”

“Yes. I had no intention of killing myself---and then when the plan of going into the asylum failed I had to do something.”

“What! You mean you were in the nuthouse just to get publicity?”

“I know it seems odd, but in those times it was not easy to gain attention. That is why I decided to attempt suicide.”

“What happened?”

“I was going to give myself a superficial wound…I was walking around the room…just to get courage to shoot the pistol at my foot when…”

“You were going to shoot yourself in the foot? That’s not suicide, that’s insane!”

“Very well, if it is insane then I shan’t tell you more.” His light burns bright red.

The Princess interrupts, “My love, he does not mean to be rude…”

“Yeah, I’m sorry Vincent. I mean it just sounds funny---how come you missed?”

The lights of Vincent and the Princess have come very close to each other. The Princes almost whispers, “It is all right my love. Tell him.”

Grudgingly Vincent continues, “I was pacing back and forth in my room. I turned suddenly and hit the corner of my easel. My painting of the crows fell off and I reached out to catch it but stepped on my palette. Of course it was loaded with paint. It skipped along the floor making me lose my balance. My legs flew out from under me and I kicked a large basket of trash that rolled into a wall where I had paintings leaning on each other---oh it was all so stupid. I don’t know how it happened, but one of my self portraits came down---very odd it was, because I saw the face as it was falling and I swear it was laughing. It knocked the pistol out of my hand, which landed next to my head. It went off and that was that. That is what happened. It was a bloody mistake.”

“You’re kidding!”

“No that is the truth.”

“Well, what about your ear? That was a pretty strange thing to do.”

“People always believe the worst of me. That was a mistake too. I sent it in a letter to that trollop because I though it was humorous.”

“How was that a mistake?”

“This is all so embarrassing. I came home quite intoxicated one evening. I closed my door very hard and it came off the hinges. I tried to shove it back in place and as I was struggling the door shifted and somehow caught my ear in the door jam. Then of all bloody luck, I could not for the life of me get the door open again. I shouted my head off for help but no one came to help me. I spent all night trying to get loose. Finally in absolute desperation I cut my ear off with my palette knife that just happened to be in my pocket. It was the only thing I could do.”

“Vincent, this is the truth?”

“Yes, yes, I never meant to do these things. It seems I have always been a victim.”

“Sounds like the old chain of events theory.”

“What?”

“Never mind. It’s a theory about a bottle of whiskey.”

“What are you talking about?”

The light of the Princess vibrates bluish white. I envelopes Vincent light as she sings:

People of One

People of One

People of Fortune

People of Fame

All in the Circle

All in the Game”

I feel dizziness. The light of the Princes becomes so bright nothing else can be seen for a short time, then it seems somewhere far below me I see lush green field and a figure dancing wildly in frantic circles. I hear heavy breathing, laughing. It is my voice. It is me laughing like a small boy, a full happy laugh, joyful and beautiful. I realize it is me dancing down there in a multi-colored flowery pasture lying at the bottom of a hill. The figure of me is dancing crazily, a spinning jumping clumsy ballet.

After a long moment, I become exhausted and unable to move but still laughing. It is a good laugh even though there is no reason to laugh other than a complete sense of joy---joyful to be alive, happy to dance, happy just to laugh.

My head falls back, my hands on my hips, panting with fatigue but still laughing I look to the sky. I am amazed. In the broken cloud sky I see my face---as if I was looking into a transparent mirror. My face is laughing with pleasure and the more the face laughs; the more I laugh as that little figure that I am watching down in the green field. This is weird. I am watching me, who is watching another me.

My face up in the clouds changes to the face of a clown and it too is laughing. The me that is the me, goes into hysterics of giggles because it is so funny to see a laughing clown. His face is fluid with movement. My belly is aching.

Then the clowns face magically changes into a death head skull with its jaws clacking up and down in such a way that it too appears to be laughing. Grotesque faces pop in around the skull. They swirl in whirlpool fashion flowing into the skull at the center of the sky.

The skull stops laughing and gazes down on me with its black hole eyes examining me as if I was a bug under a magnifying glass. Faces continue flowing into the skull which gradually becomes beautiful, one that looks so familiar yet I know I have never seen it before.

I stop laughing and look into the beautiful face. Then I understand what I have been told and realize it is the face of the Princess; the face of humanity. I am filled with peace. It is like a silent answer to the questions that have been dogging my soul.

There is no sense of time that all of this happened. It could have been a second, a minute, an hour. I don’t know.

But just as suddenly it started; it ended, as if I had awakened from a dream. I found myself standing at a wall, staring into the face of Vincent Van Gogh. It is one of his self portraits hung in the impressionist salon of the Scottish National Gallery. I was still in the museum. It ha been a very long day and I was dead tired.

Many months later Vincent Van Gogh continued to rumble around in my thoughts. I tried talking to him several times but he didn’t answer. I went back to the museum twice and spoke to the self portrait but no response came. I had a feeling he was gone from his plain of pain.

It is just as well. I mean, it seems he is finally unstuck. I didn’t have to do anything. It all simply came around by itself although I guess going to the Chinese Exhibition was the clincher. If I hadn’t gone then I wouldn’t have met the Princess. She was the one who got Vincent unstuck.

Funny thing that. I mean it seems to me she was the one that always got him in a mess in the first place. I hope she’s cleaned up her act.

As for me, it looks like I have to find someone else to talk to. Vincent sure made me mad at times, but at least he was company.

The thing is, I still feel like I’m stuck. Vincent might be released but I ain’t going anywhere. It is peculiar. I suppose the answer will come around. I’ve got to develop some patience.

I’m still not sure about the dreams I keep having and even less sure about what I was doing in Scotland at one point. I know I was moving theater sets around and that kind of made me even more convinced about my “Chain of Events Theory”. I mean if I can tie my philosophy to “life is like a snowflake” maybe sense of it all will come some day.

That was as far as the story went, which to this day 40 years later no one has read.

 

INTERMISSION OVER

God here again. Hey this guy Santiago has been whacko ever since he fell on his head doing a summersault off his bed at the age of seven. It is no wonder he has been talking to some of the spooks I have purposely strewn around the planet. It was my idea that some people just need to get in touch with ancient bones so they don’t feel like they are the only ones with a cracked view of life. So, you see what McBoil did with it and boy didn’t he take it for a run?

Anyway, I’m going to let him pick up where he left off with that little Kike from New York. Okay? Okay.

 

McBoil’s Comeback

Mixed metaphors are funny business. Each of us is born of time beyond time. How could I know that the desert of my journey was coming to an end? In minutes a new obsession, a new passion that would carry me off into the night? How could I know that a round little Jewess beauty would in minutes command my mind and take my soul like a hurricane sweeping over an island?

I remember years ago the snow white sands of the Florida panhandle, seeing the aftermath of 160 mph winds leaving homes torn off foundations then flung in pieces across the beach like toys in a children’s nursery---is this what will happen to me?

Imagine a musical/medical/meditation metaphor.

This crazy New Yorker would become my instrument to play and me the possessed musician bowing her like a cello in a vast hall moaning out bell notes, me swirling inside with delightful madness injected into my blood. I was infected with a contagion of lust, the wonder I had long since lost; of love entering my dead life. The Christ wilderness of 40 days was nothing to my 14 years of heart break desolation.

How about that? Three mixed metaphors in one teeny paragraph.

“I am falling in love with you,” Thaana said.

Now imagine an erotic description from any third rate porno magazine and you have the picture of our story those first weeks and months.

So many nights and days we made love like that. When we were drawn to other lands, we would spend hours on the telephone, replaying our scenes, resurrecting the lust that had melted us together. I had my first try at dirty phone talk.

“I want to put my tongue softly on your lips, opening your mouth; I slip my tongue around yours and pull it into my mouth. I suck it like a delicious snake as it goes deep and touches my throat,” I would say.

“Yes, yes,” she would sigh.

“My cock is weeping against your pussy and then it enters slow, soft, then deep, deep, all the way into you. I hear you moan as I thrust hard.”

“Oh, oh, oh…”

“My mouth releases your tongue and I slide down to your breasts where I take your left nipple into my mouth, sucking, gently biting, then a little harder…”

“Oh yes, yes, yes, oh, oh…”

“And we sing together, me into you so deep and twisting the peppermint lounge dance step inside your pussy---you sucking love bites on my neck---we both begin screaming and coming…”

“Yeah, yeah, oh sure baby yeah!”

Thaana is a full woman, a sort of Rubenesque full woman of ample breasts, mother hips, mama legs, a strong back and neck and arms firmly muscled. Her hands are delicate, female. It was her hair that struck me first. And still amazes me, so black like coal. It is more of a mane than a fashion pelt. Indeed, an Amazonian emerging from the jungle---her hair, the way it falls around her face and shoulders, a tumble of jet rivulets caressing her beautiful wedged back, falling down to the top of that dimpled place, that delicious filet above the crack of her ass.

But she is not petite---not with that mane, not with those big legs and broad hips. She impresses one as a big woman, not fat, just big, say five feet nine, but it is the illusion of her wavy blackness like a dark halo spreading silken threads around her form. No, she is not big, maybe five foot two. Still, there is some kind of visual trick that happens when she wears a low cut blouse, her cleavage dark, deep, almost a crevasse that makes me want to fall into that split flesh shutting off the cacophony of the world---breast phones, I listen to her heart beat.

A woman like Thaana is made for love, made for a man to play like a fine cello, strumming the curl of music fingering the harmonic chime of a perfect note. She the woman makes the man an officiando of movement and phrasing, yes like a magician of sound who creates the seventh echo hanging in the dome of desire. That is the pleasure of her blood.

Yes, Thaana naked in bed lies as an instrument created by a master craftsman. Like wood of a tree found once in a thousand years that gives birth to absolute harmony---an instrument lying in its case of velvet and leather, to be played only by divine inspiration and only the songs of Gods.

She found me. I did not know who I was or where she came from. She guided me back to America and located the manuscripts I had lost. She even managed to swing a deal with my agents Scudd and Schnook and the publishing house. But at first I was not in love with her, in truth, I did not know what love was yet, even after reading in my manuscripts telling me I had been in love six times before. That woman who showed up from Corsica was the only one that seemed vaguely familiar, but truthfully I don’t know how I could have been in love with a bitch like her.

My love for Thaana started on a Friday the 13th. On that night we went to a zoo in Los Angeles where summer festivals of jazz musicians were playing. We walked round to see dozens of pink flamingos. One tiger seemed be listening to the music. The flamingos gawked into space looking like plastic yard art bought in Wal-Mart. Later, on the way back to our hotel we almost went under the wheels of a huge freight truck that pulled in front of us.

The truck driver didn’t even notice my new Mercedes as we skidded to a stop less than a foot away from rolling wheels of death---yet it is true, zoo animals and a truck driver asleep at the wheel were our only witnesses that night of love. Does it matter?

Our affair began to morph into a surreal dream. My mind having gone blank somewhere in Corsica now started losing grasp of anything solid and real. I felt like something was broken, but I didn’t know what. Like how does anyone know where the cracks are when you are walking on a thinly frozen pond?

That was my urge---to walk on thin ice and play a synthetic Christ act, waltzing over a little pond I had seen on a summer day not caring about another winter of despair. “Come on, walk on me,” the icy pond called.

And like a child, I was beckoned by the moment of magic; water that was fluid, now a sheet of glass, I was drawn out on its surface, farther and farther from the good solid earthen shore. Even when I first heard the ominous moans and squawks of ice splitting molecules and the solid began to come apart, I walked on and on. I went towards the place where I knew the illusion of surface could disappear and I would plunge into a cold bed of the dead---just a few steps away but I was not afraid. I wanted to be with her, no matter what it meant.

How did it start with my lovely Thaana? Somewhere in my head I knew she might be just another variation of beautiful chaos. I don’t know.

Like a disease, when does anyone ever know when the first deadly cell will subdivide into an army of millions---like the hoards of Mongols that swept over Europe---the cancerous growth, once a small bug becomes a giant beast that swallows even its own tail---thus ends all consciousness, all being, and all existence.

And still, I walked on. Hey, wild bullets had already missed me more than once. What can I say? I was falling in love, again.

You know what’s weird? Me, starting to beieve I am Santiago McBoil. That’s what’s weird. You know what else? I am tempted to begin a brand new story. One that has nothing to do with all of the people and situations I have already written about. Most of those impressions and personas are just facets of my own character, some would say the split personalities of my embodiment.

I am tempted to take another direction because I’m bored with the repetitive obsessions and neurotic quirks of me. They are no longer amusing. I was entertained for many years by my unpredictability but now it seems only the glitch of a corrupted child temperament. Is it that at last I want to grow up? Who am I kidding?

Being the neurotic corrupt child I have always been I doubt anything new shall emerge on these pages. However, you may have noticed there are several players here. There is no telling what they will get up to. Whoever this God guy is, he sticks his big foot in on a regular basis, and I’m afraid I haven’t heard the last of my agents Scudd and Schnook.

As for Thaana, she’s got things to say too. But hey, she’s in New York City right now, working out the deal with the publishers on this last book of this here trilogy. She thinks they’re trying to short change me cause I haven’t quite got it finished. They keep saying I’ve lost track on what I’m writing about, and want me to cut some of the best stuff out, like my documentation of building the Mighty Ark. Hell, none of them want to believe the world is coming to end of their profits. Fuck’em!

As for me, I have more delicate articles to deal with so to speak. I’m tired of being a vagabond---tired of waking up in worlds that are not mine---tired of rolling like a thread-bare, thin walled old tire. I want to go home. What I want to do is remember who in the hell I used to be. I mean all of it. What I remember now is only what Thaana brain-washed me into believing.

***

What the hell is going on? Hey its Michael B. Scudd here.

If that little weasel McBoil thinks he can skin me out of my commission and percentage of royalties I am entitled to, he’s got another thing coming. Goddammit I worked my butt off for that prick. If it wasn’t for me, his fucking dumb ass manuscripts would be in the Random House paper recycle bin. I’m the one who found him. That fat-assed Kike bitch is not going to steal my show. Neither is that S.O.B. James T. Schook. That fucker says he’s got the one manuscript that McBoil sent right in the beginning. I don’t believe him because I have the whole box I copied when I discovered him 2001.

You have no idea how hard I’ve worked to get the state of New Mexico to issue the permits for the spectacle at the bridge. The bastards kept telling me they didn’t want no Burning Man Hippy Festival going on in their fucking spic state. I hate fucking greaser New Mexico. There’s nothing but sagebrush and dirt and Goddamn wetbacks! Man they’d be lucky to have a Woodstock type event here. I can put this joint on the map for once instead the hokey assed boots, silver and turquoise bullshit that marches around. Yeah, I’m the Events Artist that will make the world sit up and notice this taco trap.

In the end the only way I got the permit was by convincing them the whole shebang was a movie set and our production would employ a couple thousand local do-nothings as extras. Yeah, I told them the speculum was based on McBoil’s best selling books. But hey, yeah, him being half a spic clinched the deal for the government talking heads. Anyways we’re on a roll now so McBoil better not fuck it up.

Another thing. I’ve dropped the idea about giving him a new pen name. Remember Phil LeGree? Big House Publishers seem to think it is a politically powerful moment for a half spic/mick to write stories. They’re out’a their fucking minds, but hey, they’re the publishers. What can you do?

But hey, you know what’s weird? I think that brain damaged moron actually believes the world is going to end December 21, 2012. If I don’t make the money out of this deal the world is going to end for that little piss ant McBoil. Him and that clown James T. Schnook who has been hassling me for a bigger cut. Who the fuck these guys think they’re dealing with?

***

Hi, it’s me Thaana again. I let it slip to the Mr. Bigpockets up on the 27th floor about Santiago owning that concrete out in New Mexico, where he wants to build a Mighty Ark and finish the book about having this big splashy party called, uh, Party Like….oh yeah, Party Like There’s No Tomorrow.

I didn’t want to tell him the truth you hear me? No way I’m telling Mr. Bigpockets, Santiago wants to call it the END OF THE WORLD PARTY. Can you hear me? I mean the thing is Santiago first of all is never going to finish his trilogy cause right now he’s out there in New Mexico getting this young bunch of born-again hippies helping him spend all of his royalties and up-front money on building his huge hunk of wood on concrete popsicle sticks.

It’s whacko! You hear what I’ saying? I mean all of these young organic green in the gill wanabees are all jumping around, storing sacks of beans and tacking together these tree house shacks all over the top of the old concrete bridge pillars and Santiago keeps yelling at them to be sure they’re water-tight and have pop-up sailing masts. The man’s nuts.

But hey I love him because he’s original.

The other thing, Mr. Bigpockets is as nuts as Santiago, cause he says that creep Michael B. Scudd’s idea about pitching it as a movie set is brilliant and Warner Brothers has already asked for movie rights on all three books. He says the producers want to make a movie that is an update on Woodstock. Can you figure these clowns?

So not only do they want to make a movie, it’s a movie about a rock’n roll festival. Mr. Bigpockets told me they’re already in negotiation to get either Chris Christophison or Neil Young to play Santiago’s part. Go figure.

***

McBoil here again.

I had a dream again last night. It was kind of the same dream I’ve been having ever since I met Thaana. She says forget it because it has nothing to do with me, but I don’t know, it seems so damned familiar.

Thaana tells me I have to re-read my first two books, and it will give me all the answers about who I am and the dream and everything. But this is the weird thing; each time I sit down and try to get into those books, only after a sentence or two I can’t make out the words. I mean it’s kind of like I go blind to the alphabet, and the letters get all mushy and brown and then I can’t see a thing on the page.

Thaana says she’ll read me the books but that’s even more weird because after only two or three words, all I can hear is a rumble in my head.

Thaana says don’t worry about it. Its just some kind of temporary amnesiastic mind-fuck my brain is playing on me.

But this damned dream is beginning to get on my nerves.

I’m walking down the road see? I’m in some uniform, and I got medical bags hanging off me everywhere. There’s a bunch of soldiers all around me but they ain’t carrying anything but weapons---all kinds of weapons and they got grenades hanging off ammo belts strapped around their chests. The men are unshaven and they look hungry, scared and mean. They got weeds and branches stuck in the bands on their metal helmets.

Someone yells “incoming” and they all fall to the ground. For a moment all I hear is the clatter of weapons, ammo belts, helmets and canteens hitting the dirt road, then there is this high whistling shriek before everything around me goes kaboom and gravel and muddy shit flies everywhere.

I lay there for a few seconds, just waiting for pain or something small  and dark to come with bayonets, but all I hear are flies buzzing and men moaning, crying, whimpering and a bubbly sound that is weird, like stew getting too hot and splashing out of the pot. I wait but no pain. No dark demons.

When I raise my head I realize I have dirt and gravel in my mouth and my ears are ringing over the top of the other noise. I reach down for my medic bag and it has spilled all the morphine phials and syringes out on the ground. I look around seeing men lying in pools of blood up and down the track. I panic. Goddamit, I’m the Medic. I got to fix them.

I jump up and look in front and back of me. There was a hundred of us but I’m the only one standing. All the rest of the guys all sprawled across the ground and each one has got a big bubbling hole in his chest. Pink froth is spewing out like fourth of July fountain sprays. They call that a “sucking chest wound” and about the only thing you can do is plug the hole with anything you can find, like plastic, or shirt clothe or grass if nothing else. You got to stop the air blowing in and out of the lungs and you only have a minute at most before it is just way too late.

I panic again because “God Damn the Pusher Man” is running through my head and all of that bubbly sound coming out of theirs mouths and chests is the sound track and I don’t know which one to go to first because fuck, every last dick on that dirt is suffocating and dying in their own god damn gravy! All I can do is yell, “Shit, shit, shit!”

Suddenly I can’t yell anymore because my mouth is full of dry cotton rags that I try to pull out with my fingers, but each time I get some out it just sprouts over my tongue again. I hear the voices somewhere along the road, all joined together, like it’s almost a song or a chant. They are all crying, “Water, please, mercy, water, water…”

Usually that’s the place where I wake up, wet with sweat, and for some fucked up reason it’s always 3:33 in the morning. I turn and twist for the next two or three hours and can’t get my mind off what ever the fuck that was about.

“Hey, it’s about water, asshole! You never going to get it?”

Who’s that?

“It’s God, butt-head!”

Oh yeah? Prove it!

“I don’t have to prove anything dork. You hear me don’t you?”

Well yeah, but how do I now it’s not just the voices in my head again?

“So what makes you think the voices in your head is not me, God talking to you?”

Huh! I guess you got a point there. So what do you want?

“I want you to finish the goddam trilogy so you get the money to build the Mighty Ark. That’s why you keep dreaming about water. It’s a metaphor dork–face. Kind of a new-age parable.”

So what’s it supposed to represent?

“Oh for Jesus sake! Do I have to explain everything to you?”

Well…it would help some…

“Okay this is what I’m going to do. Your other agent James T. Schnook has been working behind the scene trying to sell the first manuscript you sent to him in 1998. I’ll have him send you the proofs so you can go back over it one more time, and that should give you the information on what you are and what you are supposed to do. Okay?”

If you say so.

“Fuck off McBoil.”

***

Hello. I know I have not made an appearance yet, but my name is James T. (Tyrone) Schnook. I have been going through the first manuscript of Santiago McBoil while considering the possibility of how we can squeeze another angle, that being the poetry/prose technique that McBoil employed in his early works that could propel him into the higher realms of the literary world. We are talking such genius standards as Dylan Thomas, Jean Paul Sartre, T. S. Elliot, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, etc., etc.

It is my firm belief, if I can place him on this holy plateau of literary academia, his shabby little trilogy with its cheap plots and unfocused babbling will put him in the financial specter of such money making word factories as Stephen King, James Michener, Ernest Hemingway, and holy of holies, this new phenomena cash cow who is writing the Harry Potter series. Money, money, money yes indeed!

Yes it is that kind of tortured self-analytical investment, literary critic snobs of the world simply can not get enough of---such as Silvia Platte’s UNDER THE BELL JAR, or Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD.

I submit a section of that writing now so you can judge for yourself. And of all titles, I ask, what could be more self-indulgent and self-pitying than…wait for it...

ALONE

by Santiago McBoil copyright 1998

I got drunk just one more time. My wife Leila had seen that movie. She took my hats and boots and me and threw us out together.

In one of the first nights, crazy, on the road, crying myself to sleep, the radio playing what else but country/western twang nasal drippings, but still having a sweet melody and good guitar riff when I heard,

“We lived together separately

we don’t want to fall apart

but every time we kiss

there is an emptiness

there is an absence

of the heart.”

So I rolled over in my cold damp bed in my broken-down old RV and sobbed break-heart blues and I was crazy and alone on the road---a road going nowhere in front and everywhere behind. Even so, the road took me to the Rain forests of Puget Sound.

I wanted to see one of my old buddies, Max, who was there in My Lai with me the day we became assassins. It was 30 years since that day. Yeah, old friends and this time truly older friends as the miles and lines in our faces.

I had almost forgotten what good pals we were back then, confiding, confessing to each other the dark and bright demons that flew around our souls in that time and space.

Since then, we had become owners of houses, fathers of children, separated from our women; we once again found deep reflection and consolation in our stories. Consolation along with indifference given openly, no judgment, only the acknowledgement our suffering was self inflicted and denial absurd.

So we repeated, whined and laughed at the new histories with accepting ear-hearts---Max saying maybe it was time for him to leave and me having been thrown out wondering if it was the time to have stayed. We agreed there was no solution but to hold up the smoky cracked mirror reflecting our faces. Our arms were too weary to hold it long, we subverted back to old war stories, grotesque and glorious, two comrades, we grunted onward.

I slept on the floor that night, being his teenage daughter occupied the only other bedroom and his dogs claimed the couch. It suited me to feel hard boards, an echo to my misery. There was no use denying I desperately wanted to go back to New Mexico, to my home, my wife, my child. Instead, I cuddled the dog I found on the road on my way too California. Some company is better than none. I called him “Shadow” because he was so grateful for the food and affection and always a foot or two away.

I talked to him when no one could hear. You Know Shadow, I would love to jump back into my life when it wasn't a wreck. This morning I thought about the dysfunction of my marriage---not only my drinking but there was so little real talk between Leila and me for so many years, let alone love-making. In fact when I was home I was most at ease when she was gone and full of nervous anticipation when she returned.

There was a condition of unhappiness that smothered us until it blossomed into an ugly flower of misery. So you see, this morning I knew it was foolish to go back to a life that didn't exist. And at this point I don't know if either of us has any desire to recreate a new life…

“Yeah, I get it because most of the time when I go back to where I buried a really good bone, it's gone man. That sucks.”

Hey this is my story. Just listen.

“Okay, I get it but some bones are really cool.”

Tsissit!

“Okay, okay. Jeez, what a grouch.”

As I was saying, it is hard, no heart-breaking to look at Leila and my life together… to know there are no more possibilities…to know I destroyed the wreck I made it, and now it is only smoldering rubble…

“Oh man, that is like the bitch I got hung up on in Albuquerque a couple of years ago.”

Tsissit! What did I say?

“Okay. Crap, can't even put in two cents worth…”

So…Whether it is possible a
Phoenix can rise from the ashes of my life is a question I am incapable of knowing. Maybe it is Leila that will come to a vision of truth.

SAN FRANCISCO, THE MISSION DISTRICT

In
San Francisco, on Mission street in a café the music shifts my melancholy. Glen Millar's “Moon Light Serenade” and glimmering images of life the same, but that was WWII and not 1998 and Saddam Hussein
and
Clinton
and
Bosnia
and hurricanes in
Nicaragua
and heartbreaks in my mind
and hurt in my wife's heart
but it is the soundtrack of this mind thought

a Jewish folk song replaces the Big Band sound
and fat people in line waiting
replace other fat and skinny people
gone already with bagels and latte
and photos of people hang on the wall
leaving shadow images
and I sit here in this soundtrack
trying to drop all the history, all the lies
to dissolve all the highways with all the lies
to empty this cluttered mind of all the lies
and the soundtrack moves to Aaron Copeland's fiddle music Americana
chicken in the barnyard
leaving WWII
leaving the Jews and Arabs
and I sit in the Mission alone in 1998

Who cares? Not even me. So later in the day I drove my beat old RV down the coast a few miles, to the house of one of my college professors from 1969, yeah almost 30 years since.

Arrived at the professor's house
To meet with another lost man (also a former student)
he too on the road, alone, wife gone, dog died
looking at his battle plan to not be crazy
to prove he can win the conflict of being

but I say to him so we win the battle lose the war
Geronimo killed and revolted in hatred
do we die a piece at a time for integrity
or do we choose the day we die all at once

and we talked on about the dogs we loved who all died
about the maniacs and monsters America breeds
about the young and powerful who apply their wit
for the masters of music who manipulate all
about who will follow after signing petitions

but I say to him yes they sign the paper so easily
they who are so brave and supportive in the private
they know who they are, they being the ragged
they can see the Kings in their fine armor
they the ragged, not too foolish, choose not to charge the chargers

and we talked on awhile longer about noble men
he said all these original people were sacred leaving life behind
then the Europeans came, spoiled, polluted, maimed, killed
that everyone here is crazy, driving a finger away
at sixty miles an hour, down a freeway of pain

so I say to him, hey once in Europe they were pure
once at the dawn of time, people were innocent
and before those noble pure beings came to this land
it was free of humans, free of form, nature was all
and if Europeans were not, Montezuma was already

so we reaching this point, the rain began to fall
then he asked if I could hold a plank while he worked
to hold back the rat turds, the sound of rat parties
and we were together but could not work, he too perfect
and me one to never make a level decision

I was lost and I knew it. I spent hours in my RV hiding from people, yet all I wanted was to be back in the middle of people. I chose books as some kind of replacement, and copied random excerpts that touched my wounds.

(from Dr. Bohm) “…the very nature of our thought. Not merely what we are thinking about, but the structure of how our thought works, and that it works through opposites. Our thought inevitably unites the two opposite characteristics of necessity and contingency…”

(From Krishnamurti---Athens talk 1956) “Truth or God is something totally unknown. You may imagine, you may speculate about it, but it is still unknown. The mind must come to it completely stripped of the past, free of all things it has known, and the known is the accumulated memories and problems of everyday existence. So if there is to be radical change a fundamental transformation, the mind must move away from the known. For love is not something which you experienced yesterday and are able to recapture it at will tomorrow; it is totally new, unknown.”

(Think on these Things 1964) “To go far you must begin near, and the nearest step is the most important one…”

THE MISSION DISTRICT, A YUPPIE CAFE ON VALENCIA STREET

I went back to the City, yeah, only one place is “the city”---back to Frisco---I returned to the Mission and walked around, trying to remember how good it felt to be released from the Presidio nuthouse 30 years before, how good the real American sidewalk felt under my feet after the mud and leeches of the Mekong Delta.

synchronicity of unrelated turmoil boils my belly
and I call another old warrior down at Imperial Beach
he too from the time of our lost game of killing
saying hey-Ho do you want a dead soldier
and he said hey hooray yes come we fight the War
with the dysfunctional lame and blind you are welcome

he says a lovely Contessa will come
I gasp and say Oh God, do they let them
and he says I will speak to the masters
to see if we can finance this extra cost
you see we are pulling down crosses aplenty

serendipity of timely un-time comes together
and wonder why do I go there knowing
I have heard the Siren call too many times
but what a lovely song it is to old ears
I can't stop the anticipation of being buried alive

but he says I was looking at the past
just very recently, in fact tonight, right now
and who should I see but us in battle
we were trying to find a new solution
but old warriors are used up so fast

coincidently my mind remembers moments
when I saw one dark angel swaying hips
then later she sent a calling card so open
but I knew the words were meant for me
or maybe my hallucination pretended some

but he says I was planning next week
and I think I can work you in
why bother to wander when War is here
yes you old rascal with stale blood
come bleed with us, the Contessa waits

But wouldn't you know it, in the cafe I met another artist who was as fucked up as me. He kept saying, Everything is changing man, and me for once tried to be positive agreed with him in all things even though I could taste my bitter oats, I knew it was too easy to condemn, complain, connive, conspire, compete. I showed him none of my work, I made no display or show what has been, to throw down my credentials proving yes, me too, I'm an artist. What difference would it mean to be in a club so special? Why declare I am something that does not give me freedom? He says he knows a famous artist, do you want to meet him?

And me…I have thoughts of her…instead, I tell the artist, sure , you betcha I would like to meet another artist so we can talk art, so he gets up and goes to the telephone, comes back and says he's coming but I have to go and with that he's out the door and I wait for the replacement. He's famous. I saw his work once, long before I went to War.

I sit in this café that is one of hundreds, maybe thousands city-wide and it is full of San Francisco types of all types eclectic hippy/Beat classic, wool sweaters, berets, cravats, corduroy leather elbow jackets.

In the background, behind the buzzing mumble of the intellectual crowd, as always is piping wired music. Who is it, Brahms, Mozart? Doesn't matter, it is an accompaniment to the gray sky and Van Gogh goatees.

My near dead RV sits out on the street with the dog I found on the beach. The dog (Shadow) is happy, but I heard the RV transmission slip as I crawled up the hills of the City. Oh, Oh. It's not really a RV, it's a bumped up version of a delivery van that some small entrepreneur company in the 70's called a TRANS-VAN. My buddy Max laughed when I told him that. He said, that's not a trans-van, that's a transVantite. So now I call my dying but not dead yet old fucked up piece of rolling mechanical bliss, the QUEEN “T”. Fuck it. I sit here, waiting for the ARTIST scribbling these notes.

On cue, he comes in the door.

He must live near or come here often for there are gestures and hellos as he walks in with ownership. Precisely, the background music becomes dominant as the crowd hushes by the entrance of an important City icon.

The background music swings into a Schakowsky's piano concerto. I look around and see dark eyes glitter. The Artist comes to my table as if he knows who I am. He has brought gifts, small cheap prints of his holy work. That makes it easy for me to bring up the subject of where could I get my work done like his. He is cordial, even warm, but says he doesn't know. His assistant does these things for him. I ask him more questions about how an artist can succeed, but he doesn't know. He says he was lucky.

I see his eyes flitter out through the windows onto the street. He announces he has to get back to schedule. We give formal thank you's goodbyes and he contributes one last antidote of his rise to fame, almost as if it was somebody else. We shake hands and he is out the door.

I look back to the table with the glittering dark eyes that has swirls of dark hair cascading down. Her eyes are following the famous Artist as he disappears down street. Ah hell, I knew it wasn't for me. I have the Road, the Quest, and the Questions unanswered and besides the dark eyes reflect a ring of gold on the third finger. Her dark eyes remind me of another old heart that was torn to shreds.

I have nothing to do with a whole gray day stretching in front.

Like a dog looking for his bone (maybe I am Shadow's brother)
I searched the streets, the alleys, the industrial bogs, the gray world
curiosity led me to places nobody knows
curiosity took me to centers that everybody knows
curiosity was the circle back to me, the question mark
the question being, Do I really want a bone?

Like a dog, I found a little bone, already well chewed
in fact the bone so chewed leaving only the brittle un-bitable
the bones history of buried, unburied, buried again
then lucky me, I came upon it and took it out of the dirt
I looked at it and to my surprise it looked back
saying hey pal give me a break and leave me alone

Like a dog, I chewed the un-chewable anyway but not long
there was no taste, there was no bouquet, no juice
I looked at it surprised I could swallow dust
and in the dust was the bones voice yelping WATER
but the dust hit my belly and instantly to my asshole
I squirted liquid farts and broken voice parts

Like a dog. I sniffed voice parts on the ground
To my amazement they reassembled and said FLUPPET
obviously the voice broken, confused, was only noise
and wiggled on the ground with a million particles
and the particles all had umbrellas and suits and ties
they were driving miniature BMW's, Cadillac's, Lexus's, Buicks

Like a dog, I raised my leg and pissed on them
I Decided I never really wanted a bone
I raised my head to the gray cubic City sky
sniffed the sweet sexy I had come from
the smell of heat and must-glands and knew
in the wasteland are many bones

Shadow jumped on me when I got into the Queen “T”, him sniffing my pant legs.

“Hey man, did you find a bone?”

Shut the fuck up Shadow. I'm not in the mood for it.

Indeed smelling fucking odors is what the road can tell you along the way. I was headed south and began thinking about the salt air of southern
California beaches and what kind of

 

bouquet the promised Contessa might have.

Smells have been in my nose all along the road.
I left the tangy autumn cottonwood leaves of
New Mexico
I felt the bouquet of aspen and pine in the cleft
valley of Telluride

in the dust of the desert salt flats and rabbit brushed Utah
the spice of high sage northern
Nevada


into the sweetened mixture of ponderosa and juniper of eastern Oregon
down into the first valley of wet musk Willamette
over the mighty Columbia
up the northern fjords of Douglas fir and cold sea salt Puget Sound
to turn around drift back to the misted south
farmlands and timber milled western Oregon

 
a sharp turn at
Grants Pass to pungent mud flats in Humboldt County
then bombarded with the wet waft of the City on the Frisco hill
Jumping the agriculture chemical perfume belt artichoke capitol country
bumped over a crest to the coast of
Highway One
and the warm
Pacific Ocean odor of Southern California


knowing the BIG SMELL was coming
I rested my nose at San Luis Obispo
savoring the sacred moment to come
when I could grasp the depth, the breadth
the tailpipe belch metallic machine of Los Angeles

THE WAY TO ARRIVE IN L.A.

There are lots of ways to come to the city of Angels. You can fly in. You can come by train. Come by ship. The insane come by cars up or down I-5 or I-10. It is a city of cars. So most come in 4-wheeled glass boxed space machines---the ubiquitous auto.

I came a special way

I came in through the back door

I didn’t know it was the back door

normally it is the front door

I’m taking Highway 1

the coast road from the north

down the 101 cut off at Oxnard

through Point Magu in the black of night

yes come between 2 and 3 in the morning

in the middle of the week, Wednesday

you will find a secret entrance

for everyone is asleep and all lights are green

I parked near the Venice Beach parking lot at a street meter. No fees until 7 AM so I climbed into my bunk with Shadow for a few hours shut-eye. In the morning when the gates were opened I moved into the free public parking for beach enthusiast.

That morning in Venice Beach I found out, a pint of milk costs 99 cents, coffee is a buck, sitting in the sun is free, but two bucks to stay in the “free” public parking. A black woman was giving away cigarettes. A man was preaching in cyber-web lingo. The news papers were full of sex ads. Young beautiful people scooted by on neoprene roller wheels.

A clear blue line was spreading across the ocean sky. Palm trees looked black in the morning sun.

A Rasta Bro was displaying 2 dozen terrible paintings. Pigeons walked unperturbed around my feet. Everyone else was running, skating or bicycling for their healthy looks. My dog Shadow was running free on ten feet of rope. I am free on $28,000 worth of credit cards. Seagulls could walk free in the public parking lot.

A dread-lock hippy was playing Donavan’s Mellow Yellow. The sky was full of jet plane roaring. A helicopter was hovering over a girls volley ball game on the beach. Delivery trucks were bringing beer and bread to cafes. The beach smelled of gasoline, salt and piss. More beautiful bodies kept zipping past me on plastic wheels doing 20 MPH. Pelicans were skimming the top of waves.

The day was free. All of us watched the gold sun burn to a fizzled fuzz in the western ocean while a group of black dudes played ancient conga drummed goodbyes to the end of another California day.

But I am:

Nervous with the noise

Nervous with the silence

Nervous with the streets

Nervous with the wind

Nervous with the flow

Nervous with the blockage

Nervous in the houses

Nervous in the bars

Nervous in the supermarket

Nervous in the cars

Nervous in the alleys

Nervous in the soup

Nervous of the brain

Nervous of the strain

Nervous of the front

Nervous of the back

Nervous of the meandering

Nervous of the nerves

Nervous by the time

Nervous by the feel

Nervous by the drone

Nervous by the luck

Nervous by the fuck

Nervous by the truck

…even so, I drove on the next day south…

 

IMPERIAL BEACH NEXT TO THE MEXICAN BORDER

 

yeah, an unsettled nervous disposition has come back

it started where, was it Seattle or Portland

or Humboldt County or San Francisco

maybe Venice but now here it is in Imperial Beach

the drinking started again in Portland

the melancholy came in Humboldt

disappointment fell with the rain in Frisco

lying to myself in Venice

I hear cats know how to meditate---Alan Watts said so

to sit perfectly motionless doing nothing thinking nothing

yet they can jump out of it instantly

and find a new spot, perfect, quiet, empty

the planning of plans was New Mexico

looking back down old streets in Seattle

delusion in piss alleys of Frisco

devious vulture lust followed me in Venice

I woke up this morning feeling “Oh no” again

my eyes shot like metal shades shocked by light

impossible to lay in my own warmth

terrified of nothing I walked to caffeine stations

New Mexico had its own plan

old friends were sadder than me in Seattle

kings wear no clothes in San Francisco

cosmetic beauty wolves chase money whores in Venice

I sit by the sea and drift to the sky

the warm breeze kisses the back of my neck

the center unfolds as the ocean rolls

the sole of my feet in the sand

 

WE SHOULD ALL BET ON MOSES…one lucky son of a bitch

 

That was something someone said along the road. I couldn't relate to it at first but as I bumped along the miles it made more and more sense. I wondered if a metaphorical Red Sea would open for me, The Queen T and my dog Shadow.


Everything and everybody I had loved for sure was on the other side of a dismal salty isthmus.

So here I was at an old haunt, Imperial Beach, south of San Diego about twenty miles, a couple of miles north of the Tijuana sewer pipe that dumped in the sea on a turd littered beach. No American swam in the ocean south of the little biker village. Most of the gout-footed old squadron of Hell's Angels had relocated from
Mission Bay after it became gentrified. They didn't swim in the ocean on any account, only in the gallons of cheap beer they swilled at the bars near the beach.

Why else would I be there but to see another old buddy from the days of
Mekong mud? After all, he had promised the arrival of a veritable angel, which he said was really only a Contessa.

Wesley, A big guy from
New York City who was as gentle as they come. It never made sense to me how he was turned into a killer by the insanity of war. Most of the time he refused to smack the flies that crawled over everything. He adapted every puppy and stray cat he could bring into the compound. Usually the snipers picked them off in a few days just to piss every one off. Wesley wasn't a natural born killer but he became one, just like me and the 100 other guys in “C” company.

After
Nam, Wesley started working in the illegal cardboard shacks scattered along the south side of Tijuana. I had gone with him for a ten day workshop to direct political murals inciting the residents to stand their ground, demand legal recognition.

It was the good times in the swampland of my sinking marriage. Leila had helped me paint the murals. Wesley thought she was a Scottish saint.

It was ten days of working in the slums in the morning and then afternoons back on the turdless side of
Imperial Beach taking it easy, evenings of good food, cheap wine, talk, being together, a sanctuary away from the world. It was one of the last rested, peaceful moments of that fall, winter and spring.

Now it was a year later, alone with my notebooks, and a lost dog I called Shadow, thinking about Leila and my little girl Tara who wasn't so little anymore. Me, thinking about going back home, returning to a former life because I had left so much behind. Not just a place, my studio, my marriage, but more so the patterns or I should say my History.

What little was left of the life I thought I had. Maybe even what was left of the love I thought Leila might have for me. We were caught in our history yet held the mythology that we still loved each other. What love actually existed was not reality. Concern, care, gentleness, romance had vanished.

And now back at a curve in the road I considered my eminent return to the sense of dread, the hollowness, the foreboding that had settled on my consciousness. It was the vacuum of the unknown going back into the cycle of unhappiness, pretension and complete loss of believing what direction to go next…to go back to waking up every night at 3:33 AM worrying about death and living on the same plain…the manic depressive railway returning me to lunatic landscapes where my own mind would sabotage any light around my dark soul. There was no bridge between my heart and my brain.

All of this anxiety was frightening to me and destructive to Leila. It would be returning to an ornate lie, which I had designed so well I would have no vision of truth to defend integrity or love. I knew once again I was at the Goddam crossroads of life, and I had no idea what path to choose.

So what else could I do but go to the funky old biker bar next the beach, join all the other losers and write my confused poetry into spiral bound notebooks.

WAVES ON IMPERIAL BEACH WITH THINGS TO THINK

To stay at the seaside, a warm winter
Seems reasonable even rational most sensible

To watch my lost dog Shadow play in the sand growing fat with food
Is a lovely way to while away the thought of yesterday's bills

To hang---just be---not wanting---only waiting
Could bring around the center from moment to moment

To think in this way, searching for the calm, the peace
Is what I would like to do

To do what I want to do is my mantra this day
But the morrow is the uncertain point of time

To be (hah hah) or not to be isn't even a question
It is a Goddam continuation of the argument of self

To find the self that is all one thing, one direction
Would be a wonderful calm sea after this hurricane blow

To sail into a harbor free from psychotic winds
Laying down as soon as I step from the boat to beach

To feel the warm gentleness of a cheerful sun
Becoming golden with no worries of skin cancer

To put my feet into the lapping mother water
Without fear of snapping turtles or ravenous snakes

To say FUCK OFF to everyone especially me
Could be the best possible last testament of self

To bring all these thoughts inside this broken temple
Is too impossible to consider a candidate for reality

To discover something that is not known is easier than
Escaping to a place no one has ever found or touched

To go back to the blessed river of our first breathe
I would take no other passenger, not even me…

***

That's how the first hours in southern California dissolved the world, while I got drunk enough to find Wesley and the affection of his promised Contessa.

He was better than his word, for the Contessa was not only fairly young (in her 30's) and beautiful, but she brought her sister who was equally so. And both of them were pranksters whose mischief was to play audaciously with wrinkled old warriors. They loved the thrill of carnal combat.

So it was not a Contessa, but Contessa's. Two naughty women who conspired to see old goats drool. And did we drool, buckets and buckets and the last few bucks of credit on my little plastic passport. Quite simply I didn't give a shit nor did Wesley. What worse thing could happen to either of us?

It lasted only a few hours. Amazing how quick younger woman can run down old men. The next day back at the biker bar, Wesley paid for the Pabst Blue Ribbon and watched football while I went back to my paper lover.

LAST NIGHT

Last night, oh what a night and nothing happened

Oh you can say I drank tequila and smoked pot
But that ain't new or even interesting
In fact last night was boringly the same
A long chain of nothing after a day of something

Last night, oh what a night, and nothing happened

I sat at a table and exposed myself to who was passing by
First there was one beautiful woman
Then there was two beautiful women
They giggled and smiled yes, but wasn't it just the same?

Last night, oh what a night, but nothing happened

A bag of tricks I lay down by my feet
I pulled out one classic device after another
I displayed my novelties, the front, the back with a kaleidoscope
Pulling all the strings, ringing the bells and the coo-coo bird too

Last night, oh what a night, but nothing happened

And oh boy for a moment I thought I had them both
Those two beautiful cutie-pies rolled their eyes with joy
They licked their lips wet, wiggled their vaginas hot
Their voices husky, smoke rolled out noses

Last night, oh what a night, but nothing happened

Just in the nick of time, I saw horns on their heads
under their skirts I saw large dicks
And on the head of these pricks was a mirror
And on that mirror, all I could see was my face

Last night, oh what a night, but nothing happened, at all…

But here was the real pisser. I was almost flat busted dead broke. I mean no dollar. It occurred to me I would have to go out and scrounge the village walls to see if I could hustle murals to make the money to buy a few tanks of gas to get me back to the
Land of Enchantment. I was a little out of my element being most of the shops were dumpier than I was accustomed. Frankly I didn't give a shit whether I starved or went up in flames.

In truth I can't even remember the last time
The last time I put on a tie and looked for a job
I think it was 1965
The job was decorating windows in a high fashion house

That was a year before I joined the army
A tie was not required to join
But later you could wear one in army class A's
If you came home alive a ceremonial tie

Today I am out on the street banging on doors
I wear an out-of-fashion early 80's sport jacket
It is cool olive-drab almost army green very cool
The shirt is faded denim green and a contemporary red tie

The red tie my daughter bought Xmas's ago
On top a 30's black high-buttoned-Scottish-woolen-cleric-vest
Under very faded black 501 Levi's
Accented with hole in toe of expensive old cowboy boots

Hey it's California, southern Cal at that
So how can they resists what speaks of professionalism
I have a couple particular shop doors in mind
To go acting like a pro so to beg for a job

It is like Russian roulette coming in off the street
Unannounced ask for the owner to give a pitch
Already I am prepared for the first “No”
But “Maybe tomorrow” is not “Yes here is some money”

As an artist I show them pictures begging
Your business needs me, Your walls cry
Give you more business, hook the sucker bucks
I create the magic wall with lips speaking yes



***
I walked around
Imperial Beach for a couple hours in and out of doorways like a hustling ragman. God how I wanted the bucks to massage my credit card pains---I couldn't even pay the interest let alone putting away my debt.

My mind kept returning to Leila in
New Mexico. She was my friend, the mother of my only child. Our house was the only home I had. The Queen T was just a metal box for a wandering refugee, slightly better than a tent, but costlier to move and keep out of the eye of the law. It wasn't registered, no license and no insurance. If the cops stopped me it was a short cut to jail.

I thought about the studio I finally had and the years of making art in
New Mexico. It was a joke, few people thought seriously of me as an artist. What I sold was hardly enough to keep food on the table. Leila had taken a job as a social worker---something she didn't let me forget.

Leila and I were no longer lovers or attempted any resolution. I telephoned a couple times just to be sure our house hadn't burnt down or something as bad. She didn't ask me to come back but complained about winter cold and wished she was somewhere warm like me. I didn't ask her to come to me. I wanted her next to me, the friend she had been in good times but I didn't say it.

The University of Three N’s---Nobody, Nowhere doing Nothing.

Emptiness was only surpassed by my paranoiac appraisal of the damage I left behind. At least in Imperial Beach I had not alienated my old buddy Wesley with drunken exaggerations. He was as lost and alcohol soaked as me.

Yet there was nothing for me in southern
California, other than warm aired palm trees, the pleasant sea, the sound of surf and long walks down the isolated section of the turd strewn beach with my only real friend, Shadow the lost dog. I could see the big Iron border barrier separating Tijuana, Mexico from our precious corporate democracy.

I fantasized slipping through the gapping slats of the metal wall and disappear into the slums I had worked with Wesley. Two or three fat little Mexican widows had made eyes at me. Maybe I could start another family like my old man had done when he was running from the law. In short I was between the Devil and the deep blue…

I needed the money but I couldn't bring myself to being a panhandling broken down muralist willing to paint another fucking giant wall for fucking peanuts. It occurred to me
Imperial Beach was as broke as me so I drove up the coast to swank Coronado and La Jolla. The snotty old dames who ran the shops looked at me like the cockroach I felt like. Only one offered some mild interest, but she wanted two weeks worth of sketches she could muse over while she made up her mind.

I went back to
Mission Beach where I had painted a mural 30 years before when I was with another woman I had lost, the Gypsy. The mural was still there but as faded as the love that had brought me there in the first place. The last time I saw the Gypsy was when I put her on an Amtrak going to Yuma. The memory of the look she gave me when she got on the train, and her last words, “You know you can come with me…” still were as fresh in my mind as if the day before.

Mission Beach had changed mostly by the fact all of the human casualties of poverty had moved to Imperial Beach 25 miles down the coast. I only talked to the owner of the shop with my mural. I asked him if he wanted it restored. “Nah, I'm painting out that old hippy piece of shit.” I put my tail between my legs returned to the dregs of my kind in Imperial Beach.

On the way down the coast highway, the low ebb I was feeling wasn't made any better listening to a profile on NPR of Jackson Pollack. He was as sad a fucker as me but just happened to get rich and famous before he killed himself in a drunken car wreck along with two innocent young women who obviously thought it was cool to ride around with a famous artist. It occurred to me the two Contessa’s might think the same of me. I had to leave.

 

***

ON THE ROAD TO ARIZONA


I left southern
California in a bit of a panic. I liked Imperial Beach a lot. I was right at home with all the old bikers and vagrant veterans of the last three wars and if I kept rooting around the shops I know I would have found some kind of artful work. But two things got me to move on.

 

First, were the women Wesley had imported. The older one was very wild and her openness to me was just too spooky. Secondly, I was mooching off Wesley. It was his space and I could see that his welcome mat was a temporary situation. In a few more days he would turn into grumpy old man like me.

Another thought had crossed my mind while I was in Mission Beach. It was the Gypsy. I didn’t realize how much she meant to me until it was too late. That was 30 years ago. The last I had heard of her she was still in Yuma and that little town in Arizona just happened to be on my way if I returned to New Mexico. The saying, “Curiosity killed the cat” rolled over my tongue.

***


Rolling down the freeway 65 miles per hour

A rear tire exploded and died dead

My van rumbled and chattered to a stop

Wrecking a tire is easy enough

Changing a tire not too difficult

But getting bogged down was genius

Being afraid big trucks were too damn close

I pull off the hard top shoulder

Directly into a bottomless pit of dust

No room for the jack my belly on the ground

I wiggle under to find a precarious place

Pumping an hour finally the van is lifted

Another hour the spare tire is on

Boards from my bed needed under the wheel

Back to the world of asphalt rolling

Split the desert to an oasis town

To the center of little Yuma

A tire shop drop almost my last credit card credit

In the bar and the beer a telephone

To call love done gone cold since 1969

I arrange to meet for breakfast

***

An old woman with an old woman hair-do, the kind of Midwest religious farm wives---no, could it be her? Then she comes up close---I see her eyes, still that almond tear shape, still beautiful eyes. She has put on a lot of weight, pity about the hair, more pity about her frumpy clothes. What happened to my exotic sexy Gypsy?

We talk. It is natural, easy, nostalgic. She shows pictures of me when I was young, hungry, a warrior home from the war. There are pictures of her in full bloom. I want to cry. It is a funny thing. The mind reconstructs the past, parts of details and makes them fit together in an idealistic whole that has little reference to the present reality.

She told me about her three kids, her Marine officer husband, about how different everything turned out. I told her about Scotland, my wife, my dreams that happened then went away. We looked at each other for a sad 5 seconds, then she said, “I hope we will see each other again.” I smiled and lied, “Yeah, me too,” knowing I never wanted to see beautiful memories turned into moldy dried fruit again.

***

I went back to The Queen T and wrote in my spiral notebook:

MEDITATE ON CHOICES TODAY

1. Go to Tucson and find Salazar, army buddy (boot camp and A.I.T. and first two weeks in Nam before he went crazy)

2. Go to Phoenix and visit my mother’s wetback family.

3. Go back to New Mexico and face the consequences of a dead marriage and credit card bills.

4. Do nothing and ignore the consequences of bills and marriage.

5. Do something totally new (like what the fuck is that?).

6. Go backwards to L.A., Frisco, and Seattle ignoring everything.

7. Shoot myself.

ON THE ROAD TO WHO CARES

So what did I do? I went to Tucson and found Salazar. After the army he published poems and two kinky novels about bestiality. He was still crazy but more interesting than my other army buddies who wanted to pretend that nothing ever happened.

We spent an afternoon drinking beer, talking old shit about how he went nuts in Nam and how I followed him later, too late to be innocent. He read some of his obscene poetry about ass-fucking and throwing up in wedding punch bowls. It was raunchy stuff, but it made me laugh and took my mind off my misery.

I was camping in his driveway and that night had a dream about being a famous author getting laid by the young gal I left in Imperial Beach while riding in a ticker-tape parade in New York City. Salazar must have inspired me. In the morning I had another bash at putting my life into stanza form. If Salazar could write sex-obsessed bullshit and get published so could I. It was better than trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life.

 

Wouldn’t make any difference

Who I could be with

My unfaithfulness so compounded

I even cheat on myself

Who is this maniac

Driving this old vehicle

How come this dude has the wheel

When he can’t even see the road

No, wouldn’t make any difference

Which lips gave me velvet sucks

I would always spot another pair

Too succulent left unslurpt

Where is the committee

That oversees this lop-sided company

The chairman should be shot

Or act out a shadow-puppet show of me

What number of tender beauties

Could satisfy my roving eye

With one in each arm

My tongue frogs out to another

What kind of God gave free choice

To this ogre inside my head

The body in forward, the soul in reverse

The turn signal system goes in spirals

Salazar came out to the Queen T while I was typing this impulse of delusion. Of course I was thinking my new stuff was brilliant. I was thinking I should stop trying to be a visual artist and take on the literary world. I was thinking perhaps I had finally gone mad.

Salazar read what I had on my desk and said, “uh huh” then proceeded to tell me he had once met Lawrence Ferlinghetti who told him he had never made any money from his poems. Oh shit, and I want to be a poet?

Anyway, Salazar and I started drinking beer again and kept at it until 2 in the morning. In between drinking Salazar showed me his favorite porn sites. The worst his absolute favorite featured men and women fucking or being fucked by donkeys, Great Danes, roosters, hens, goats and snakes I couldn’t believe it. Humans will fuck, suck or be penetrated by anything that goes in a hole. The world is one sick fucking published bus station of bullshit.

Worse is the hypocrisy of us good puritanical Americans. Not far from Salazar’s house was a eight foot tall statue on Central Avenue. It is a nude man with no genitals; just a shrub in front that looks like it was trimmed by a meat cleaver. It is a work of mutilated obscenity. What can you do?

I wake up distressed

About smoking, drinking, thinking, feeling, remembering

Rolled over and thought again, love sucks always

The dog’s tongue was in my ear, nibbling with doggy teeth

I wake up distressed

About everything and nothing and all between

Rolled over and wished I had never got so damaged

The dog began shredding my blankets

I wake up distressed

About my double life, the lies, the innocence

Rolled over and imagined one love worked out

The dog is pacing and about to squat

I wake distressed

About thousands of miles city after city

Rolled over and saw her blue eyes

Dog jumping up and down, a turd on its way

I wake up distressed

About the milk going sour, the money running out

Rolled over and wished the dog was all my lovers

The dog knows when he has to shit

I wake up distressed

About wife, life, dog, lost friends, no coffee

Rolled over and could not sleep off dog kisses wet

Took the dog to shit in neighbors yard

***

I talked to Salazar all day long, that is after he got up at 1 PM when we went to breakfast at Denny’s. I told him army stories about beautiful women and insane sergeants but not a whisper of murdering old men, women and children. I told him about being seduced by the fattest, ugliest woman who turned out being the best fuck-buddy ever. I told him about running away from femme fatales in Imperial Beach. He said fuck’em and forget’em. He said you’re investing too much with no future. He said if I were you I’d back-track to the beautiful woman and lick her pussy. I told him I was thinking about a new philosophy. I told him I had always been with one woman or another. I told him I was thinking about being alone.

That Goddam word, alone.

He said play it as you go and give nothing not needed. He said if I were you I’d fuck her royal. He said when you’re dying you’ll regret missed fucks. I told him I was trying to clear my head. I told him young women don’t need old men. I told him I was afraid I’d worship her beauty. He said you’re projecting non-events. He said never miss a chance to get fucked when you got it. He said young women love old men. I said I was thinking about being alone. He said why would you want to do that?

In the late afternoon Salazar went off to a poetry reading at a coffee house. He said he was going to read his butt-fucking stuff. He asked me if I wanted to come along but I declined. I couldn’t imagine sitting in a mixed crowd hearing the most obscene words I knew, strung into stanzas of intellectual perversion.

I went to my metal box, drank more beer and scribbled indiscernible notes to myself.

They began:

No way of knowing the final thought of thinking. Shall I go or shall I stay or who is what in the riddle mind that can only circle back and remember nothing of the beginning. Yes it is a puzzle.

Try to let go and not be the demanding ego that wants to reach inside, push the button that has “RELEASE” printed on it, or gravitate in conversations with allies and enemies, openly, not giving in or taking over gamesmanship.

The best intentions of noble tendencies go to hell while forceful imprints of the self-centered individual claims territory.

Is there justice or purity to remain as you are when the neighbor next door says do it my way or the friend says you just made a fatal mistake or your family wonders when will you grow up?

What value is there holding onto land that is full of bomb craters, or how useful is it to put up a ragged tent on a wind swept shelf or why cross a river in a canoe made of worm wood or would you place your sacred jewels among thieves?

The best intentions of noble tendencies go to hell…

Talk over tables of spiritual haircuts Buddha style

Technical advice on how to break arms and noses

Warning advised not to empower bullies

Fingers are shaken lips spit now listen to me

Late night beer drinking sharpens the edge dulls the teeth

You find yourself in a foot race with shadows

Both people in an argument claim the other deaf

The glimmer of truth is wind through the fingers

The best intention of noble tendencies go to hell… while forceful imprints of the self-centered individual claims territory.

***

TO GO OR NOT TO GO

I got up early the next morning and read what I had written with the help of 12 bottles of beer. I was running out of curiosity of towns and Salazar was too much the mirror of the lunatic in me. I left a note on Salazar’s door and split for Phoenix.

The thought of returning to New Mexico crossed my mind. It was getting close to Thanksgiving so the old tradition of family weighed on me even though the scales were tipped by the vision of mail box full of bills I couldn’t pay.

I called Leila to see what was up but got a message on the answering service said her and Tara were in New York City for a month. Screw it! I would drop in to Phoenix and see my pop’s Mexican side of family tree. When I got there, no one was home. They had all gone to Chihuahua to sponge off their relatives.

I drove the Queen T down to the desert rat and wet-back hinterland south of Phoenix and found a dirt road that led back into the mountains. I found a spot in the palo verde and mesquite trees where no one would see the van. The sun was going down just as I got situated and stepped out to have a pee in the brush with Shadow. Coyotes were yipping messages to each other on three sides of where I had parked, so I put a leash on the dog and tied him to the van. No use losing my little buddy to a coyote style thanksgiving.

It was another typical Arizona sunset, like the sky was having a psychedelic melt-down. Doves were calling out their nesting song that sounded like WHO-DO-YOU-WANT-TO BE. Big black wasps were buzzing and humming in the ocotillo cactus. I saw something move in the sand a few yards away that looked like a desert sidewinder as it disappeared under a cat’s claw bush.

“Wherein the hell have you brought me man?” Shadow said. “Crap man, this place gives me the creeps Dude. Fucking everything here either wants to eat you or stick you full of thorn holes. Man, I liked Imperial Beach a lot better.”

Don’t worry about it. If you don’t go put your nose in trouble, nothing is going to bother you. Just watch where you’re stepping and you’ll be fine.

“Oh yeah, I can understand that dog yak out there and they’re talking about who gets the biggest piece of me.”

Listen, I’m not leaving you outside tonight so they’re not going to bust the door down to get at you.

“Oh yeah, you never hear about the three little pigs?”

First of all you’re not a pig and secondly coyotes stay away from people, so they’re not even going to get close to van. Just shut the fuck up and enjoy the sunset, and then we’ll have some supper.

“What’s for chow man?”

I got a nice big bowl of Old Roy for you.

“Oh man. That cheap Wal-Mart shit tastes like cardboard dude!”

All right, all right. You can have some bacon and eggs with me. That make you happy?

“Can I have bowl of milk too?”

I don’t have any milk. You can have one of my beers.

“I don’t drink beer, man.”

That’s good cause I haven’t got enough for you and me anyway. You can have water.

“Oh man…”

Shadow just lay down and enjoy the living desert, you might learn something.

“Well when’s supper?”

Shadow, TISSST!

“Uhhhhhhh ohhhhh…Man I think I got more grub when I was hanging out around garbage cans.”

TISSST!

Shadow gave me a dirty look and grumbled as he lay under the Queen T. I watched the sun’s last golden shafts cut up through a rose and turquoise sky as it set behind the ragged mountain crest. The coyotes must have seen a jack rabbit, because their calls came together and went into the high pitched cackling when they are on the chase.

Hooty owls hooty-hooed to each other as a sliver moon faintly shimmered in the west and the city lights of Phoenix glowed to the north. A million zillion stars filled the indigo sky that was crossed with the belt of the Milky Way. My little problems in the starry display became miniscule---I was just a speck of dust and for the next few hours I sat out in the warm evening with Shadow, not thinking about anything at all. When the moon dropped under the horizon about 11 o’clock we went into the Queen T and curled up together. For once in the last few weeks I didn’t even drink a beer.

I was in a deep sleep when a loud thump sounded on the top of the van. Without thinking I was on the floor reaching for a M16 that was no where around. Shadow almost went through the windshield trying to get out. Something screeched, then only the beat of my heart in my ears. Shadow got back in bed and we stayed under the covers until light broke the darkness.

The morning sun was hot in the Arizona desert, even though it was almost Thanksgiving. The ground felt baking on my bare feet while the sky was icy blue. Flies were buzzing small bug songs. In the distance a car was throwing gravel along the dusty road. Out in the mesquite, palo verde and cholla, birds were chattering musical poems. I made coffee, set in the sun and looked at tiny diamonds of light reflecting off the grainy sand. What was missing was a hangover and then everything would have been normal.

“What are we doing here man?”

I looked a Shadow for a moment and realized I didn’t know why we were out in the desert. You got a point there buddy. I don’t have clue but you’re a dog. What do you care as long as you get some food and have a place to sleep?

“Hey man, just because I’m a dog doesn’t mean I don’t like a little action, you know what I mean?”

I looked at Shadow stupidly.

“Like girly action dude. The only action out here is those skinny yipping mutts that want to chew my bones. Fuck them! I ain’t made for this kind of life. Take me to where there are some honeys I can hump on, you know what I mean?”

Why was I talking to a dog? But he was right. What the hell was I doing acting like a hermit hiding in the cactus. I wanted to go home no matter how broken I had made everything.

 

***

I got home, well almost home. A mile away from the house I stop at the The Mind Blow Saloon, more out of habit than wanting a drink. That was a mistake. Who should I meet but a local vampire. He doesn’t know he’s a vampire but suspects I am one. So we get together, drink a pitcher of blood and smoke a bowl of shit. We mutter how much we’ve missed each other. He says, “Here take this to help you get through the pain.” The vampire hands me the ancient green herb with the bouquet of skunk. I put it in my pocket and leave.

Out in the van I smoke the elixir of delusion and a great cloud of brown descends over my eyes. My mind fell to the ground and I danced the Grateful Dead jig only a mile way from my home and with the trick of holy smoke I am ten million miles gone.

 

Hallucination of tarot cardboard cutout reality

The characters play actors of vanity and trickery

Hearing the words of echoes in stoned canyons

I bite my tongue on the edge of nerves wishing my life away

And yet here in the high New Mexican desert

The sun is shining

There is a pleasant breeze

No shortage of food or water

What is so wrong that makes me so lonely?

The roads are as they were yesterday

Electric lines hang on poles and the radio plays

My dog curls into a cozy ball he drifts away peacefully

And yet here in the high New Mexican desert

I have ten toes ten fingers

Two ears and nose

Eyes see the distant mountains

Depending on perfect company that makes me blue

The years that are gone when I was someone with somebody

Old mirrors shine in slow circles, movies of me, others

Friends and enemies standing nearby singing Welcome Home

And yet here in the high New Mexican desert

There is my land the mortgage still paid

I have a set of wheels, old but roll like liquid

A television, a radio, a new dog and lots of stuff

I have had two minds but now one is gone

Delusion no longer, give me comfort or holds me tight

This old hull is floating on the present hard agenda of real

I wait for the sense of desolation to pass along

And yet here in the New Mexican desert

The sun is shining…

 

Welcome home to what? My wife and daughter are in the Big Apple celebrating Thanksgiving without me, without my drunkenness and depression. Geez, how can they be so selfish? The house is cold, the furnace barely on because the tank is almost empty. It is warmer out in my metal box, so I return to it and continue writing.

 

THANKSGIVING ALONE a meditation

 

All these years (the program started)

The one day that is special (one out of 365)

In America, for Everybody (if you’re American)

The people joined or apart (some in jail or war)

Thanksgiving

All these years (the condition set)

We have been together (in disharmony)

Some place, some time (it appears by accident)

Family, friends and loves (people in our eyes)

Thanksgiving

All my life (program is conditioning)

Never did I think (took it for granted)

To choose separation (who is so brave?)

A day in late autumn (damn cold winter comes)

Thanksgiving

All of everything (to be in truth and love)

We have or know (to presume no more)

Hold in our hands or soul (to release everything)

Finding ourselves or someone finding (be here now)

Thanksgiving

 

***

 

I reread it a day later wondered for a millisecond who I was writing for. The answer was obvious. Me, me, me. Self-blubbering me of self pity. I took out the little box of marijuana the vampire gave me, considering it, thinking,smoke, but I hear a voice, “Hey stupid ass, you think that shit gives you answers?” I put it back on the table and looked at the case of beer under my bed, bought during the boozethon with Salazar in Tucson. “Yeah,” the voice says, “Blow some more brain cells out buddy---not too many left to worry about now!” How pathetic could I get?

 

SMOKING AT THE WALL

 

Everyone went into a fit of dope coughing---just another day in Locorado. Young men playing hackie-sack at the tables so the adults have no alternative but to depart the coffee shop where smoking marijuana is not authorized and go across the street to the stone wall where noise of spasm coughing increases dramatically. I wish it was the old days when smoking pot was fun instead of a curse.

 

Rattled day, Rattled moments, Rattled mind

Nervous indecision, Nervous body movements

        And there is hesitation

        Of knowing and not knowing

Listen to the Kings, listen to the Highway

Breathe on Restlessly, Breathe no matter what the Reason

        Is this all a great Illusion

        When we most want the Real, only Mirages exist

Like some time before

I am surrounded by the maniacs of me

        I ain’t going to ask them shit

        Big Faux Paux on my part

The Musicians so Serious try to tune

But at intermission say they don’t Know you

        To be Serious is so Intimidating

        Because there the people think they Know

The problem is you see we don’t know

We don’t Know where we are, who we are

        Now it is morning while just a moment before night

        The time slips by as though a Dream

What is the Corps, the Core, the Course, the Curse

I Know who I see but I don’t like me

        We are young foolishly Knowing all

        We are old wisely Knowing nothing

 

***

Another afternoon in the The Mind Blow Saloon and someone said “I was told if anyone buys you another shot of HOTDAMN they are 86’d from the bar,” but my favorite drunken beauty of the moment says, “Yeah but love is all there is about life and freedom is somebody loves you.”

 

I lean over and Toothpick Pete says, “How can you tell if an Irishman is drunk?---but wait I’ll tell you---if he can fall face down in a green lawn and grab onto one blade of grass and say thank you---now I won’t fall off the edge of the earth…get it?---hey man that’s called the Irish salute---when the earth comes up and slaps you in the face…too good huh? Ha, ha ha ha ha haw!”

 

Why am I sitting in this fucking bar swallowing this bullshit?

 

So I drive all around the West, going over 5,000 miles hoping I would find someone or something that would ring a bell of interest in me, if only for a few days. I find nothing and nobody.

 

I get back to Locorado and even what I have already found is not there.

 

I go for java at Big Bertha’s Coffee Corner and meet two young born-again-hippies who say they work for Paulo Soleri, the world famous architect, and I think they’re full of crap, and says to them I heard he was dead, and they say, “Oh that was an enemy of his who posted his death to get even, but no, he’s still alive and running a visionary school in Arizona. It’s called Arcosanti and he does art workshops every month. This month a wood artisan is leading a workshop.”

 

A proverbial bolt of lightening shot up my ass. Since I was a kid when I wasn’t painting, I’ve done wood sculptures, you know like a hobby from being a painter. I see another quest to find the illusive mystic.

 

In a matter of moments for the use of my empty house for the next two weeks, I can stay in their house at Arcosanti. It is near Flagstaff in Arizona, a place I passed through not three days before.

 

Twenty four hours later I am thinking after such wasted evenings it seems more than right to leave—the endless drunks of Locorado is no way to return to my home.

 

 

October 7, 98

 

This morning I was in tears though it was my own doing---I dropped my keys on the way to the Queen T but when I bent over to pick them up a cactus stuck me in the ass---like the Universe saying “So you want something to cry about, well here, take this!”

 

I was sad, especially leaving my new friend Shadow with the kids who were caretaking my house---like I would never see him again, so after turning around twice I went back and took the damn nuisance…I mean who believes in talking dogs?...My main hope is that he stops chewing perfectly round holes about the size of four bits in everything he can put in his mouth.

 

That’s why I had to leave a little bar down the street on the main drag of Flagstaff, because now there is a fifty-cent hole in their couch by the door. On my way to Arcosanti, I’m out that door.

 

 

October 9, 98

 

ARCOSANTI

 

I meet with new people for the first time in years. I’m immediately asked to be a “resource” because I’m an old fart and I bullshit them saying wood is my specialty---a guy called Michele is master/director.

 

Michele puts me with a group of workshop clients, most of them paid for it but I’m free because of my young born-again hippies and I’m a old-timer, a “resource”. The discussion turns to ordering carving chisels from a catalog. The woodstove crackles as a ventilation system blows. A large round window looks out over desert landscape to the east.

 

Paulo Soleri’s architectural plans of the future hang on the walls. I think back to when I met him 34 years ago in Scottsdale. Then it was bells and houses built around rock piles. Now plans of future cities. Colonies of highly organized eco/arch mentalities habitat a dead planet . All choices of natural organic chaos, destroyed by man.

 

The workshop begins. We present three objects that are important to us---an emotional Get Together therapy for folks here---very white, as that is all of us, except one. White--- Michele takes notes of members as I take notes by chance.

 

One participant’s story is crocheting a hat out of human hair to wear on his bald head.

 

Stories go on but I think about Arcosanti’s policy of no dogs and of course I brought a dog to this dogless society and he’s hiding under a table. A Rasta haired young beauty tells her story about a pig. I immediately fantasize about making love to her, with or without pig, as she goes on with her personal story of corn, in particular red corn that is like multi-colored jewels.

 

I look at her hair, scan her young body but notice there is a perfectly round fifty cent hole in her long paisley hippie dress. At break time I will sneak Shadow back into the Queen T.

 

Rasta hair goes into an uuueee-gooee, huggy-mushy, yuppy-luvvy, new-age lecture of lost civilizations.

 

I think of the journals I lost including one I was keeping 34 years ago when I first met Paulo Soleri. I think about a memory of something beautiful. Once when I rode out to Soleri’s Scottsdale in a brand new metallic blue Chevy Malibu convertible that had great wheels and I was in the back seat with three drunk girls.

 

The workshop takes the break and I’m heading for the van while Rasta Hair asks who wants to throw boomerangs or create ceramic rings. She stops and begins to giggle something about speaking in riddles and I think she is not alone.

 

When I return Rasta Hair is speaking so low I can hardly hear. She begins admitting to being a “pyromaniac” and she is pushing a box of “strike anywhere” matches around on the counter. I fantasize making love to her again. I see her nipples through the cheese clothe East-Indian blouse.

 

Everyone in the workshop are very young, even Michele in his early 30’s. He’s very serious, but openly secure when we met. He judged without hesitation and gave me the privilege to be a teacher to him, in other words a “resource”---to show other members how to use wood tools, techniques.

 

An odd thing here, everyone also keeps a journal. Usually people say to me, “Oh, you write in books?” as though it is ancient as a flint axe.

Michele calls everyone back from the break and reads his notes about what each of us presented as our “object and its importance”---he then asks us to meditate on what we said and imagine creating a sculpture out of what the words represented. We go off to pre-selected corners to think it out.

 

At lunch I talk to Rasta Hair. She gossiped about Arcosanti. There were transient elements. Most people had not stayed as long as her. Two years she said. There was frustration of not doing ones own identity, self, being, but followed orders from Master Paulo Soleri. It is good place to think of as a base, she said, as long as you can tolerate two levels of commitment, one being people who actually did the work, and the other’s thinking of work.

 

In the few hours I had been there I knew that a visual commune not having a central vision was in short, a hole being filled in as it is being dug.

 

In the evening after the workshops it was show and tell. A guy admits to a social taboo. I ask if it is sexual---the rational of describing the texture of fresh roasted locusts rather than admitting bug love---Rasta Hair laughs and says something so quiet I wonder if I am going deaf---I catch the words like a blue handed favorite jack-off experience---I watch her hands---she moves small, quieter than her size. She talks journals again---symbols of butterflies and Arcosanti---the smell of Frankincense.

 

At the corner of my eye, a crow rises through the portal of a round window as I remember I haven’t siphoned the python in several hours while at the same time think about Shadow stowed away inside the Queen T and praying he hasn’t ripped the door off again, or worse the time he chewed a hole through the fiberglass. I wonder again why I brought him.

 

In the circle the young talk, one called Sorghum, his demeanor makes everyone laugh, another journal is shown---another favorite object laid bare even though it is his fourth and he says nothing will stop him even though asked to show only three.

 

Love is expressed about the importance of a good bag followed by two common things, photos and jewelry. Words turn to the subject of freedom, what symbols of freedom, art, children even Krishnamurti. My turn came and I showed a rusted tin can found somewhere on 5,000 miles of road.

 

I am surprised. I hear the southern tinged accent of Rasta Hair and I look at her closer. She talks of ceramics. She holds a brown-green mug in her hand. She says it is an incredible feeling to become still around a piece of clay. She looks like the original mountain woman. She sits like earth.

 

Michele regains control and asks questions about serious curiosity, what is beauty, what does it represent behind the real?

 

An Asian woman, our one people of color, is not quite quiet because I hear 60 feet away. I see a ring on her finger. She is talking of Social Change in India that somehow leads to her love of pens, you can really write if you have a good pen but if your pen sucks you can’t write anything. She has an American accent despite how Asian she looks.

 

She is replaced by a boyish man speaking of his grandfather’s tradition yet shows his favorite object, a book, the “CATCHER IN THE RYE”. The way he talks about his parents sounds the way my daughter talked about me and Leila. He is so young, a young me with my fascination---the Power of Line.

 

NOTES ON ARCOSANTI

 

There is at once a sense of grandeur, power, visionary edifices, contrasted with an aura of decay, tumble-down chaos and inequity of commitment---in some ways no more than any other city or what cities have in great proportions, and people no more or less friendly and aggressive.

 

It seems to be a strange mixture of philosophical egalitarism and dysfunctional American consumerism which surfaces by the objects laying around, projects that have several levels of non-completion, cars the residents drive 300 feet from the camp to the headquarters where on the walls the blue-prints of Master Soleri illustrate the perfect world.

All of this is disappointedly intriguing. I have no impulse to go or stay. I decide to stay until I meet the master himself, one more time.

 

NOTES TAKEN ON OBJECT/ART PROJECT SYMBOLIZED

 

Rasta Hair: a broken vase/mystique-ownership-anger /boomerang light

Norris: lost journal/ring of hands

Bernard: shaved head/hair hat

Nicholas: skateboard/pyromania freedom

Debbie: ceramic blue hand/heritage

Christopher: agate stone/land of enchantment

Percy: photographs/children freedom

Yomi: fountain pen/multi-diversity

Brandon: grandfather’s vest/ family tree

My thing: rusted tin can/impermanence/beauty

 

October 10

 

We are in the library. I find Soleri’s small book. He writes, “Because we are often victims of our misconceptions, we easily victimize others.” He writes powerful, radical dark prophecy of the human condition. He condemns western consumerism and greed. He is at three levels, being Don Quixote slashing his sword at the mega-headed conglomerate dragon while resurrecting the soul of Antonio Gaudi still being a hundred years ahead of his time and splattered with the spiritual referee of St. Augustine blessing the total meaning of the universe.

Workshop members explain “conceptual ideas” some good, some suck, some spaced out lovie-dovie-goo. We are throwing out parts of ourselves. Michele takes charge and being considerately respectful manipulates all of us to the Queen T.

I am surprised into inability. What is it I’m going to do?---in short, I’m as spacey as the lovie-dovie squad. When it was over I questioned what it was and why was it I was here and why didn’t I just go away? Why was I even an artist? More of the same old shit, me in a blur.

Michele, confident, a genius kind of master cabinet maker beyond my ability, a craftsman of multiple woodworking techniques, a sophisticated Zen aesthetic constructual mind. A mind that can balance multiple fractal pieces into order. His finished work has total harmony within the architecture of Master Soleri. In short, they spoke the same language in different vernaculars.

At least I could see why he was here.

My work has as much relevancy here as a NYC Drag Queen at a Eastern Oregon Rodeo Dance.

Yet---the piece I am working on started reflecting the shapes of Arcosanti. It got tedious so I gave up the carving chisel and went back to machinery, my old buddy, the screaming 5 inch wheel of 7,000 RPM death, the Knuckle Grinder! Hah, now let that damn dry brittle cedar wood try to defeat me! I WILL FIND WHAT IS!

I hear a voice.

Krishnamurti: Perceive What Is

I did slide shows of a broad section of my work—going back to 69 after the army to present---it was received well by the workshop participants, but as I suspected not one of the “resident artists” showed up. The option of straying outside their confines was a challenge. This is normal for creative types but it does point out an “American” problem in Soleri’s urban laboratory---blocked inertia replaced with conceptual aesthetics---in other words the work that should be done is overbalanced by the work they “think” can be done, hence little is done at all in caring for a beautiful garden.

I went to the sculpture garage and picked up the chisel and looked at what was started, some kind of a space alien phoenix, no, the Phoenix. That is only significant because Phoenix was my first experience of Arizona, thus Paolo Soleri. I became fascinated with the myth of the Phoenix, which ironically seems to be what I have lived in my life scenario. Not once but many times and I wonder if I shall rise again from my own ashes. And this place I am in now, physically and spiritually, is the experience of many places, love and hate that goes around and around. Yet always I will have one day more.

From Monday to Friday I generally kept my nose clean and out of the way. I met Paolo at 2:30 Friday afternoon. Of course he did not remember me or the rich Jewish boy that got me there. Well that was 34 years back and several thousand people each. But he asked a few questions and was very charming. I said, “You have been an inspiration to me.” He smiled and seemed genuinely pleased. “I regret that I never took your workshop residency,” I continued. He countered, “I don’t really encourage artists to do their work, I want them to concentrate on my ideas.”

Paolo was direct, courteous and I was honored to have met and talk with him again. I was happier splitting Arcosanti , the unrest, the politics, the decay, leaving the place behind.

 

Just as well. On the last night I got blind drunk, smoked dope and was generally obtuse, overbearing and stuck my foot in mouth. Whatever respect I had attained, like Gully Jemson I slid right back to the bottom of the dog pile. I pulled out Molly, the only girlfriend I had not lost in 30 years even though she was scarred and dented from end of her beautiful Gibson body to the other by circumstances I had put around her…

 

Oh, you mean like that night in the Missouri Hills of St. Charles County?

 

Come on Molly, get over it. That was just a long time ago!

 

Oh might be a long time ago to you, but to me, it’s like it happens every day. You drunken bum Santiago are just one crazy mixed up lush. It’s an absolute miracle God has preserved me. Damn! I’m so bored!”

 

 

Anyway, at some point somewhere on Friday evening I got plastered, talked my self into bed with God knows what, or who, and no matter where you go, there you are.

 

So I kind’a remember jamming with Molly going into some aboriginal tribal percussion and string, humming natural harmonics, I skimmed my soul into one of those warped places when everything is everything and you don’t know which end is up, I mean blind drunk as a skunk!

 

Then a bouquet smell of woman and love and sun came up

 

“Oh you got shit-faced all right!”

 

Okay, okay. So I’m a complete jerk and decided when one has blown all the bridges, run like hell with your tail between your legs and hope like hell there’s some soft trestle you may lay your weary head.

 

BACK THE NUT HOUSE, DEPRECOTE  AND NOTES TO MYSELF ABOUT THE MEANING OF LIFE

 

I was stumbling around trying to figure out how to end my last book of the trilogy, or maybe better shoot myself when I found an old journal that was at the bottom of a big trunk I had stored in my studio years before. It occurred to me, “Here it is! Eureka! What a finale to the epic of this fucked up show, then I can shoot myself.

 

October 1, 1998

 

I returned to the Galesteo Valley and to what was left of my shattered marriage.

 

The last time we met

We went for a long walk

Down the river

She said to me

Something I never

Wanted to hear

Even though I brought

A river of time

A long stream of bad

A flow of deceit

A meandering lie

Into our beautiful

Complicated world

She said to me

Tears in her eyes

Tears in our eyes

It is over


Before I got home last night, I stopped at the dreaded The Mind Blow Saloon and got pathetic again. I came home and my old lady wasn’t there so I went back to the bar and stayed for a couple of hours getting more pathetic. When I accomplished that mission I came home and slept out in the Queen T. In the morning I crawled into the house being Leila was home. She could see by the state of me the results of the night and pronounced without much fanfare, “It is over.”

 

It was a long painful talk, being completely lost for words of explanation for what ever the hell I was doing like changing my mind at every corner, flip-flop willy-nilly confused about what kind of love-affair a marriage is supposed to be. Whatever it is, thus far I succeeded in destroying it. Maybe it was dead already, but I knew one thing about coming home and facing that certain prospect. It was utterly terrifying. Seeing she would no longer be in my life if I did not sober up put me into a mental paralysis.

 

Leila said she would never “start” again. Love and respect was gone. I had brought it on myself, my shit, and my pranks. What could I say? Give me another round bartender was more or less my answer. Leila said she was moving to town and I ought to think about selling the place. That was her reply.

 

Well sir that sure put me in a whirling world of hurting shit feeling like a puppy that just got kicked. In fact I think my brain caved in and all at once I knew I was more or less nuts and maybe I better go get some Prozac or thorazine and a couple of witch doctors de-spooking my demons.

 

I was not only falling apart, but falling apart in several  separate pieces. The lunatic I had become over the years was so segmented I couldn’t even begin to figure out who was driving my wobbling boat. I had to get some kind of help. One thing for sure it wasn’t going to be AA. I had gone to a chapter meeting with an old Vietnam grunt buddy once. I never saw so many pathetic whimpering self-pitying excuses for human beings all stuck together in one big mutual ball of ME, ME, ME. In short these people just made me feel like go ahead and pull the plug and let my boat sink into oblivion of nothing.

 

So there I was in the Sargasso Straights. Stop whimpering and just fucking blow my brains out, or try to keep my stinking life above the bubbles. It was at that moment of getting so close to extinguishing my putrid being that I realized I would stop nothing, but only create more pain in the world after I was gone---namely the legacy I would leave behind would be the destruction of the one person in the world I still loved---my daughter Tara.

 

No matter how bad I felt, no matter what a fuck-up I had become, I could not ruin the life of my own child. It stopped me dead in my tracks. If life sucked forever, that was just was how it would be for me, but not for my little girl. I could not do that to her. I decided to get help.

 

***

For the first time in thirty years I went back to the VA hospital. I expected to see the  burnt off faces and amputees overlooked by the Coo Coo’s Nest Big Nurse of 1968. Instead what I saw was old geezers on life lines and new-age attendants smiling with open arms. Yeah, sentient beings with feelings.

 

So there I was, back in the hospital, but this time not even close to the rubber room of the booby-hatch ward. This time in an administrators office filling out questionnaires about lymphoids, blood-shit and any illicit monkey business I had been doing, like the  drugs, sex and the rock’n roll madness that me and every other Nam vet survivor fell into just as predictable as Newton’s  what goes up must come down theory.

 

I get assigned to a P.A. and I ask what is that and they say, it’s like a doctor but not then there I am in a little examination room and it is a female P.A. She feels my arms, looks down my throat, shines light in my eyes, and says she’ll leave me in privacy to take off my clothes, but forgot to tell me cover with a blanket. I’m butt-naked when she returns so it is awkward for a moment and even worse when I get a rectal prod. Somehow it breaks the ice of “getting to know\you” quicker than Jack jumping over the candle stick. It is almost cute. I find myself liking her despite suspicion left over from the witch doctors of 1968.

 

It turns out the P.A. is an old dame my age. Her name is Matilda and she had been a nurse in some of the worst field hospitals of the Mekong Delta, so right away we are on familiar grounds. She asks me where and when I was in Nam and I almost choke saying “C” Company, Mylai, 68. She goes through all the physical stuff with me then says it looks like my body is in damn good shape, but she can see my head is screwed on backwards. This gal is sharp, not one question about who pulled what trigger.

 

Matilda says she could proscribe me some kind of tranquillizer like Prozac, but sometimes the drugs actually causes psychotic reactions and it appeared I had done that enough already so she assigns me to psychologist who no doubt will put me into some kind of rehabilitation program. What can I do but agree with her prognosis? What the hell, she couldn’t fuck up my head any worse than it already was.

 

Before you could say Bob’s Your Uncle, I was sitting in a synthetic leather armchair crying my heart out about my blues to a certified shrink.  I read the shrink a poem for the occasion.

 

Lover of many years

Back to a place

Where hearts break over and over

Glad we no longer live there

She said we’re over

I said uh huh

Thought of the dark

Walking on in the day

Lover of many years

It is over

Hard for her to give up

Hard for me to believe

It is over

Eyes tired crying

Another sleepless dream

Will I change again

If you give me one more time

One more chance

Demon in me take the demon out

Let him walk

Over the heart

Lover of many years

 

He looked at me, then I just started rambling…home, I am home but I am not home, I am traveling in my head, neither being here nor there but everywhere at once which of course is nowhere…home, I am home in my house, on my land but I see the land I passed through, I smell the salt air thousands of miles away, I feel the warm wind of the Pacific, and here the weather is forecast 20 degrees and snow is coming and I am here and nowhere…home is where the heart is and my heart is covered in night when the day sun shines on yesterday and I want but I want not because nowhere  is somewhere and somewhere is nowhere….

 

The shrink was quiet for some time looking at me. It became almost embarrassing because I think the guy was checking out my crotch. In fact he looked very young and I could believe he was just out of High School. He asked me if I had any more poems so I pulled out another slice of myself.

 

Here is the end of the circle

Or the end of the first circle of many

In fact is the great great great grandchild

Of old grandma circle who was first here

 

Here is the place where one falls apart

I personally have fallen there too

Over there, and beside that, everywhere

It is a pattern of not holding together

 

Here, this spot I have been many times

Always before though I passed through

Like a patch of dense fog on the road

A determined thrust cuts through to a clear path

 

Here is now that does not go away

No matter which way I search it remains

This ground so criss-crossed  by old prints

My feet running from here

 

Here is infinity

Here is

What is

Here, god dammit is here

 

“Why do you write poems?” the shrink asked.

 

I wondered what gave me the impulse to chase the army blues, and what I wanted to remember about being an assassin, to go to a VA hospital, to be in the computer, a telephone call to the telephone advice nurse  and she on her private line gave me an appointment where I saw the medical doctor who called the regional office  who gave me an appointment with this young geek who is looking at my crotch almost unconsciously. And then I remember I ran away from the nuts-money the army was going to give me to try to get me over my assassin guilt over twenty-five years ago…twenty-five years of back pay…

 

I knew I had to give him an answer and I started babbling again….my mind and attitude says you must write at least one poem a day but then I always panic at orders and decide nothing shall be done, especially poetry cause it sucks when you try or I try or anyone else so I decide to not write one poem a day, or any other day, but let the poem write to me and give me an answer or better yet the questions to put in a large box of broken parts that I carry from city to city and just at the moment when I think I have nothing to do, wallops, there is a box and its parts and questions and they got all mixed up together and its almost some kind of writing…

 

“I think it will be a good thing if you stop drinking quite so much,” the witch doctor said as he looked at my crotch the last time and wrote an appointment for my next blubbering session.

 

I drove home to the fucking freezing winter thinking about the sculpture piece I had not finished at Arcosanti. Leila had not moved all of her things from the house so I chose to live in my rat-infested old studio barn with holes the size of your head. I spent three days covering the small box room in plastic. It had a leaking old wood guzzling heating stove that served also as my cook stove and there was a mattress I could throw up on the rat proof storage box in the corner.  The whole place was about the size of your average prison cell, accept my ventilation was much better. I thought the rats could not reach me 6 feet off the ground. Forgot about the rafters overhead.

 

In between moments of experiencing the pure funnel of the black hole, I whacked at the lump of wood that Paolo Soleri smiled at and said, “But you do your own work. You don’t need me. I want artists to do my work.” The piece looked drug inspired even though I only drank a few beers every night along with a little puff or two of good old whacky-backy while  pretty much slammed up against the wall with weirdness, just trying to be in the same place at the same time. I thought about the shrink’s advice. Maybe I would stop drinking. I did it once before.

 

The last two mornings I woke up with the thought of running. The dog chasing the tail, just back from 6,000 miles and credit card up 20 grand and I wonder what for, when it is just as good being out on the road being ALONE  as it is being crazier and miserable here. What is hard to understand is the lack of will, passion in my work, like trying to pump blood back into a corpse. My energy does not exist. In truth, what I really want to do is sit on a park bench, or an outdoor café, a street corner bar scribbling notes and drawing inside a little black book I can carry everywhere…and then I look at my studio, my cell I live in, where all of my equipment, tools, paint brushes, tubes and buckets of paint are gathered, and I think, WHAT A WASTE. Only a few short years before I would have done anything, to have what I have now, nothing, no feeling at all, now…

 

Wondering?

Who?

        So who exactly needs to know?

        So who exactly even remotely cares?

        So who does anything about anything?

Wondering?

What?

        What difference will anything make?

        What time is there left for anything?

        What started this all and that feeling?

Wondering?

How ?

        How come I shit in my own nest?

        How no one likes me and I hate everyone.

        How I don’t know one direction from the next?

Wondering?

Holy Fuck?

        I should be so mad I could eat rocks.

        Be so upset I could cry rivers over you.

        Be so numb, never feel anything ever again.

 

That was how it was for me for the next few cold weeks. Then one day Leila arrived carrying 20 years worth of pain that took us both into a spiral of blues, her saying we had to be apart, she felt used, so obvious I had lost trust for good reasons. I agreed, no admitted, yes it was me who burned down the house, and at that I had not divulged half the facts…I was afraid to bring my history into the open.

 

She said, “You must choose help, sobriety, counseling, therapy, perhaps even a lobotomy, for me---not her, because I would just turn back to my old tricks…and in the corner of my mind I knew she was right. What hit me harder was when she said, “You have never really ever loved me, you will find another woman and you will leave me only pain.”  She was right and I wondered who is this mad creature in me that has no control of its own mad dance. Leila drove away crying.

 

Just when I was beginning to think

I'm not alone, I'm home free

 

Just when I was beginning to think

She's forgiven me, she wants my loving arms

 

Just when I was beginning to think

We can start again, we can pick up the pieces

 

Just when I was beginning to think

I can kick this drinking, the doping out

 

Just when I was beginning to think

If I hang on this down, this out feeling will go

 

Just when I was beginning to think

If I look for help, the help will come

 

Just when I was beginning to think

I was fine, my mind began to unravel

 

Just when I was beginning to think

I can talk, my tongue turned to lead

 

Just when I was beginning to think

I will stay, my feet began to walk

 

Just when I was beginning to think

She loves me, she loved me not

 

Just when I was beginning to think

The heart break was over, the heartbreak began

 

Just when I was beginning to think

Just when I was beginning to think

 

***

 

I was feeling death running around my brain, but for all I knew it was just the effect of a full moon plus the withdrawal syndrome of no drugs and booze for the first time in years. Or maybe my ESP was kicking back in because in the middle of my contemplation of offing myself, my buddy Max who was in Mylai beat me to the punch.

 

His sister Ruby telephoned telling me the funeral was taking place in Farmington where they grew up. The town is only three hours away from Locorado so I went there dreading it all.

 

The service was in a Catholic church just down the street from a Navajo beer joint that looked more like a Nazi bomb bunker than a boozer. I scanned it thinking after the service maybe I would go in for just a look. The idea of being in a church for a funeral was giving me the willies and my thirst was beginning to kick in big time.

 

Besides alcohol deprivation I totally didn’t believe in the Catholic Church. The rituals during the service left me completely numb---the whole fucking thing was obscene—the passing of my old grunt buddy should have been celebrated with gunfire and the drunken stumbling slaughter of wild goats. The strange idea of a man being nailed to a cross, the drinking of blood, the eating of his flesh, a fucked up metaphor of memories  that only pulled the insanity of Mylai back to the front of my brain. I was sickened by the priest…what the hell, I was in a very dark mood, and the passing of a survivor of my own nightmare did nothing to cheer me up.

 

On top of everything else it was Christmas time in America---an excuse for SHOPPING and the phony Xmas bullshit of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” and the commingling of people who normally will not even be seen on the same street, let alone the same wave-length. In short I was feeling like a complete shit in my head. I couldn’t say a word to anyone even when his sister asked me to say a few words as an old comrade over his casket. I ran out of the church and drove down to the boozer where I was greeted at the door by three drunk Indians in the darkness of their own misery. “Hey look,  Colonel Custer here to scalp us again!” They roared with laughter and I set them up with a pitcher of beer. So when in frying pan why not jump into the fire?

 

Of course she was beautiful, that is the young woman who was with the bucks, coy and yet a tease and what do you think I did?

 

Yeah right. I chased it to the bloody part where we were in their trailer out on the land drinking whiskey when the one guy I thought was the pimp pulls out a twelve inch Bowie Knife and says, “I’m going to cut up Colonel Custer!”

 

That was when I suddenly realized I should have never followed drunken Indians into the Middle of Nowhere New Mexico Night, or MNNMNU as we alumni refer.

 

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas and this ain’t my dream. I’m on the other side of the table and I’m thinking, good, the woman and the other guy are trying to talk sense into him not cutting my nuts off and she is saying yeah I’ll just fuck him, get him drunk, he passes out, we take his money and his truck and we split and meet at Mary’s!

 

The guy with the knife says he would rather eat my nuts and that’s when I slip out the door get into my truck put the key into the ignition and wham it starts and I put the petal to the metal as so is said quaintly in sectors of my world, and I drove back to Locorado through a blizzard in the night and into the morning of a New Mexico White Christmas.

 

Where were we with that thing about a White Christmas?

 

Yeah I was feeling complete shit in my head incapable of talking cheery and only laughed once that White Christmas when my daughter Tara pointed to a grotesque statue of Santa Claus and said, “I hope that guy doesn’t show up for my birthday party.” She would be 21 just a day after Christmas.

 

My brain flipped back to her birth 21 years before. It seemed I had lived one day at time since then…21 one years come and gone since my little baby girl was only one day into the world. Her first twelve hours spent in a glass box inside a glassed room where I could only stand at the window and look at the little red grub that was encased in some kind of space capsule. She was just one day out of her mother’s womb, an arrival by the proxy of induced exiting. The drugs pumped into Leila’s body jump started the event which the universe would have taken a day or two longer if there had been no insistent hassled nurses who wanted it done and over. That day could have been several days later, but it was this day early squeezed out. Squeezed out too soon so that it made her poor little head come out sideways and lopsided like a grapefruit run over by a truck.

 

The doctors were concerned so that was why she got stuck into the intensive care section seeing the world the first time through a tangle of plastic tubes in a box of Plexiglas.

 

Leila lay in a room far down the hallway crying lonely tears, calling out she wanted her baby.

 

One day, this day so long ago, the day after the big Christ Bash, my little girl was squeezed into the world, without a mother or father, just a climate controlled box where faces hovered over the top and plastic covered fingers rubbed her skin.

 

Her father was some one like me, because thinking back it seems it was another person, not this broken piece of shit it has become now, but he was standing there on the outside of that glassed room thinking, “So this is what it is like having a kid…” and it seemed just as much a dream as the man who pulled the trigger on a full automatic M-16 shredding the lives of a dozen innocent women and children. I can see him standing there seeing a swaddled lump and feeling like he was in a world that no one knew about. He was wondering if it was all just a dream and he was wondering if the little lump would grow up not knowing it was all just a stupid joke.

 

He looked at her 21 years before and it seemed like 21 seconds ago. 21 years, one day at a time, on her own his daughter became a big little girl, then a big girl, then a young girl who became a beautiful young woman. Nothing had changed. She was still on her own in some kind of boxed-up world, and her mother and father were still standing on the other side of a glass wall. On this day, 21 million thoughts ago, she arrived and today is that day, 21 seconds ago, 21 years, 21 lives ago. One day at a time, the years have come and gone and my little baby girl is a grown up 21 year old woman.

 

It was during that Christmas season, I began making canes, of which oddly, I do yet up unto this day. My first memories of “ART” were the canes my Uncle Oran (who I never met or at least do not remember) carved.

 

One was kind of reddish with a Dachshund’s head and the other one was natural maple with a snake/bird head. I loved to touch them. It seems they spoke some kind of language, their way of life…and now after all of these years of making art I find myself from where once I begun… and I am making canes and staffs and sticks that become the four corners of the Earth, because when you got two sticks and two feet you can climb any goddam mountain.

 

Leila and I speak from time to time on the telephone or sometimes she want’s to meet in a café like we did ten thousand times before…this time to have our dialogue over my “problem” or as it usually comes out that it is me who has been unhappy which even though Leila says its her problem too somehow I don’t think she really believes that. She see’s herself as the innocent of this sitcom which makes me the “aggressor” which is how it physically worked.

 

It occurs to me I was telegraphed some of my patterns through her unhappiness.

 

***

 

On the telephone first thing in the morning

Wanting to speak to a human voice

At the hospital

Lucky thing blood is not flowing out body

Or I would have been dead five minutes ago

But no blood no emergency

I just wan t find out if they will accept

A jar of piss from me today

If they take a dollop of blood

To find out what is wrong with me

What is wrong in my body, my brain

They have to measure the balance

The balance that I don’t have

The balance that is gone

The balance that is unbalanced

I have become Humpty Dumpty

I fell off my wall

Why did I have a wall?

What does a wall do?

What a crazy place to balance

 

So I get to the VA hospital in Albuquerque. No nonsense, the guy at the desk hovers over my paperwork, then says, “Ooops!” looked at me sternly and continued, “You need a…” then glanced back at the paper  and asked, “Is that a B. O. I. L. or a K.O. I. L.?” and I wondered what the hell he was talking about until I realized he was looking at my name so I said, it’s McBoil, you know like boil water…he glanced up at me irritated and hands me a paper cup and said, “Put it in the window.” I knew he meant my urine sample but I wasn’t sure what put it in the window meant being I instantly visualized me sticking my dick in a window while a nurse held the cup…my mind was playing tricks on me so I didn’t say anything but went on to the men’s toilet where I discover a small window with a spotted yellow message below it saying leave cup on sill and ring bell.

 

So I’m pissing in the cup when I hear “McBoil” shouted out in the hallway which makes me jerk up and piss all over the floor and my hands and drop the cup on the floor. I manage to squirt a couple more splashes in the cup, stick it in the window, buzz the button and step back out into the corridor.

 

A nurse takes me to a small room and weighs me, takes my blood pressure and temperature then puts a strap around my arm, rubs alcohol over a spot and takes out five little vials of blood.

 

I look at the inky red fluid bubbling out and think about sucking chest wounds and rice patties and wonder what it is like to die watching your blood leave your body.

 

 

I begin to think of things gone by but know I’m falling apart. I woke up with a headache depressed thinking about Leila’s last visit and us talking about my problem of course. Sure it was me that blew it and as I tumbled over my indiscretions the day just got shittier. At one moment all I wanted to do was cry and the next I wanted to kick myself in the ass. Yeah, a shit day.

 

Even so after she split, Krishnamurti’s “observer observed” knocked my self loathing and self pity out of the way. The sun was shining and in real terms, nothing at all was wrong with the universe. You know, “Perceive what is”. The only thing was my mind lodged in my asshole.

 

It is what it is and as Einstein said, “Reality, albeit an illusion, is a damned persistent one.” So I am stuck in the awareness that you can’t remove yellow piss in the snow, all you can do is wait for it all to melt into the ground.

 

I am a catastrophe and nothing is going to change that except me. The only problem is my brain feels like a mad dentist filled it with Novocain, but I happen to be the mad dentist pulling my own teeth.

 

A drink would help I thought and then a vision of a buddies T shirt flashed in front of me and I laughed a good deep belly aching gut roar. Black letters on a coffee stained white, “I WISH I HAD A BEER FOR EVERYTIME SOME ONE SAID I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM.”

 

I decide to stop drinking but immediately realize New Years Eve is only a couple days away. Shit, not blind drunk on a New Year, how can I do that? Not so many years ago I calculated I would be 55 when the year 2000 came…yeah, well, well, the time, the time, and here it is into the coming year and me contemplating remaining sober which I have not done since I was 17.

 

What a waste beginning the year in a drunken stupor if not completely blitzed, like the time I woke up behind a German bar watching a Dike’s  polka band, then threw up in my shoes. Yeah, well, that’s another story.

 

It will be an immense test if I can resist this time. I have come to realization ALCOHOL AND MARIJUANA IS MY MAIN VICE  is a crumby title for a book even if it is the story of my life. I stopped nicotine mostly except for a stray cigar once or twice a week, also retracted from caffeine. I realize all these things are THE ENEMIES OF MY MIND which a much better title to a book even if I disregard it.

 

The end result is utter depression with the mixed cast of characters I am…a wreck waiting for a catastrophe.

 

But that’s not the worst of it. No the worst is  NOBODY LIKES ME EVERYBODY HATES ME THINK I ‘LL GO EAT WORMS SELF PITY.

 

Not long ago I was the kid who sang that song every day because it was funny, but fucking time pisses me off. Now I sing it because it’s the truth.

 

I got to get out of this DESTRUCTION DERBY promotion in my head. I come up an inch then I lose one or two days in a week and couldn’t tell jack-all-shit what I did. The days I remember I take extra vitamin pills and organic liver washers, etc. etc., and read self-help books about not dwelling in the negative.

 

Then there has been my work out in the studio, difficult to even begin, battling against a sense of futility and only start because after years of doing this shit I have automatic pilot that kicks in and I stop thinking.

 

But the shit of it I don’t want to be a visual artist anymore. I want to be a writer and write this fucking story that seems to be going absolutely nowhere all the time. Worst of it I even want to get back to poetry, yeah why not, even become a fucking poet.

 

Last week I was going back over old poems from 1974 during my first six months in Scotland, like stuff I am still doing now, and it got me thinking of how I want to end this story. But that is another story too because here I am in the studio with studio hands trained from many years of just plain production. So I keep working on whatever sculpture or painting that is in front of my heart of darkness.

 

It is a sense of denial from opposite sides that my professional life as any kind of artist has led to no communication with family, friends, lovers or even myself---all of it completely fallen apart---in other words if I answered the question the Doc at the VA asked, “Has Drinking Interfered With Work or Family Life?”, it would be a simple YES.

 

At one point I was thinking it had not affected my work because I was doing things.

 

Well, “doing” I discovered is not “being” and if one is not BEING, there is no connection with REALITY. Put another way, “Money does not necessarily bring the bacon home.”

 

Say what you want about making money, it is more about survival.

 

However, in this time if one does not have money or resources (meaning other people’s money) SURVIVAL might not be the way you wanted it to be. There is no fun in being destitute, homeless, a refugee on an empty stomach, standing on a winter highway watching a blizzard arrive, but there is no fun too in having a bunch of money and you are miserable.

 

I picked up a mental case the other day. He was a lunatic thumbing his way down the road.  He was the complete symbol of what terrifies me becoming, and it seemed to me, I had given a ride to myself, him the old wreck with a bum leg, a smashed face, delusional, wearing a long filthy coat, plastic bags, beer and dog food, a dog, two broken stuffed cheap suit cases telling me he hitch-hiked from Hawaii and he was on his way to St. Louis. When I offered to drop him off in the middle of Locorado, he begged me to take him way south of town. I occurred to me he had burned his bridges in my little old town in a younger life.

 

So New Year’s come and I made it almost a whole day not drunk. I made it through the previous evening without drinking but not without wanting to or being good company to anyone around me.

 

Leila did her best to hang out with the emotional cripple that was me, being no mood to listen to her talk about her new apartment a friend loaned her. We went for a walk in Santa Fe’s plaza. That almost broke my catatonia when I saw a very rich young family, dressed in fine garments that cost more money than I had earned in the last three years...a Hollywood movie featuring a beautiful mother in a full length mink coat, two beautiful little daughters in red camel hair coats tagging after the handsome charming father in a full length black camel hair coat flashing his Rolex smiling gleaming white teeth in the dark. The exaggeration of their wealth made me laugh thinking of the poverty I had given my own little family…

 

We walked away, suddenly silently out of nowhere a huge WHOOOSHE---a sky rocket going up into the sky exploding colors all across the plaza. Standing nearby was the beautiful family with  the  father in front of the tourists, glitzy shops and all was lighting a bank of sky rockets which roared through the trees exploding only 100 feet in the sky.

 

I looked around for the cops but not even one on the plaza---not that I was going to report the family, but it was something the cops would have stopped instantly if punk kids were doing it---naturally I wondered about the power of  bribery. So there is the father in his 1,000 dollar coat continues to send up rocket after rocket that rattle shop windows and echo off the court house down the street.

 

The father is not concerned in the least and has only got started. He lays down a line of giant tubes and sets about firing up one after the other. Roman candles whistle and bang sending sparks all over the plaza. The momma just as unconcerned casually is taking snap shots like its just another day and the most natural thing in the world to blast bombs in public.

 

The little girls are both so young they have no idea their father is off the wall in monkey pranks. They are simply mesmerized by the fireworks beauty and noise.

 

People are stopping all around the plaza watching the father as he lights more rockets and bangers. Finally he sets off a fuse in another line of bottle rockets which shoot off in a spectacular flood of color and brilliant bursting sparks of light. There is one final amazing BOOM way higher than all have been and for an instant the entire plaza is illuminated blue white.

 

All of us ordinary mortals watch dumbfounded. No cops anywhere as we stand in a communal trance. The whole thing lasts maybe only 7 or 8 minutes, so I think maybe the cops are rushing across town somewhere. The father just as cool as the proverbial cucumber, puts all of the cans and assorted debris in a couple of large black bags he pulls out a coat pocket and confidently drops them in a convenient plaza garbage can. He acts like this is the same routine he does every day and I think what the hell, he must have the money to pay any fine that might happen for this piccadilly.

 

It is surreal watching him and his lovely wife laugh while hugging their beautiful daughters and amber slowly away just like they have all the time in the world.  They are so natural, happy, unintimidated it makes me sick---the contrast with my own sad life and family is so vast I can’t believe I share the same world with this fat cat.

 

Leila is hypnotized. She doesn’t say anything but looks up in the sky, then starts laughing. I can’t believe it, still no cops and almost everyone has left the plaza. Just a couple of skin heads sitting on the steps of the stone phallus in the center of the plaza smoking what looks like a joint. No cops and brats smoking pot and rich guys turning Christmas Eve into the 4th of July. Where’s the justice. I think of the contrast again---not only my pathetic situation, but with the bum I picked up on the highway with his broken leg, fucked up head, the collapsed suitcases, plastic bags, dog food, skinny flea infested mutt  and cheap six-pack of beer and him telling me he hitch-hiked from Hawaii. It seems like I should paint a picture of this night, if I could…

 

So New years eve comes and goes and I gave up and got drunk and threw up in my underpants, so at least there was one new thing in my experience…

 

A day or two later one of my old buddies from Scotland arrived with his very young girlfriend. I don’t know where he found her but she seemed to think he was God because he had a Scottish accent. Dumb bitch, she’ll find out eventually what a jerk he is even though he speaks in beautiful riddles.

 

They brought with them a gallon of soup, the gal made in her kitchen, where ever the hell it is. My Buddy Hamish kept bragging about his new philosophy the “ aesthetics of violence” as he called it, about his love of getting in a fight with another man. It is a ignorant arrogance but beyond, maybe even below it is rage towards humanity. Anger towards the deceit of society---just plain old revenge being paid back to anyone stupid enough to invite a punch in the face---and for my buddy, it is the revenge he wants to repay his mother, another kind of passion play.

 

But the soup was good and I would have fucked his young piece of ass if she would have given me half a chance, but she could only see the old ugly geezer I obviously am these days. Oh yeah, she should have seen me in my prime. Yeah, right.

 

Hamish even though a jerk has good stories, so we sat around for a few hours talking, him and her always listening to my attempts of explaining my depression, both giving me advice of good intentions…in short, friends and it seems perhaps the only people I care to talk to at the moment.

 

 

I started painting  NEW YEARS EVE IN SANTA FE on three  panels one of Leila’s  gay friends gave me. The panels were from the video screen of a performance art collaborative. He said the screens were inadequate because they had a few wrinkles in them. Some gay guys are such prima donnas, but as it turned out to my benefit.

 

I am encouraged, but in the process I have dissected two of my old paintings  never finished and in a state of transient ugliness, into four 4 inch squares, some being beautiful on their own as the border around NEW YEARS EVE IN SANTA FE.

 

But then…

 

Every morning I leave my house

Go three miles up the road going south

Then drop down into Locorado which is in a hole

Stop at my coffee shop JAVAJUNKY

 

I say my coffee shop but it is not mine

Truthfully it is Meme’s coffee shop but not really

Because it is our coffee shop

Every freak-misfit-dropout-lost-urchin.

 

You see Locorado is the capitol of lost time

Lost puppies lost babies lost minds lost accounts

And there is only one place open in the morning

You got it JAVAJUNKEY we congregate

 

Sometimes that gathers has variation

It depends on who is up and at what hour

But the first thing to do is get your coffee

Before you check out the porch or the wall

 

On the porch goes cross word puzzles

Guitar playing talking 1967 locating mechanics

Smoking cigarettes discussing who is not there

Or running events at last night’s bash at the MIND BLOW SALOON

 

THE MIND BLOW takes the place of JAVAJUNKEY

When nights falls the streets dark

But the morning belongs to MEME we all say

The frustration of us lost-urchin-vagabonds

 

 

This is a quote from a Texas evangelist called John Hagee....in which he paraphrased Albert Einstein (you may remember...doing the same test and expecting new results...)

 

“INSANITY IS WANTING TO GET ON TO SOMETHING NEW TOMORROW, AND YOU KEEP ON DOING THE THINGS YOU DID YESTERDAY.”

 

So I listened to a little bit of this man’s sermon in the morning and it sounded as though he has  been reading Krishnamurti too plus a couple books on depression I’ve been reading, then of course preacher Hagee throwing in his pitch on Jesus to sell the product---he had a lot of power as a speaker, so it almost seemed like a good idea to go back to old beginnings, but I keep the television on a little too  long cause then the call for money comes as well as a veiled threat, “This millenniums final harvest of souls,” implying the end of the world. Hmmm, guess I go back to Krishnamurti.

 

A day later I go into town to do business about photocopies, banks, shopping stuff.

 

I decide to pop in on my ex old lady, Leila, to give her the Austrian mountain pants I bought in a Goodwill Shop for Christmas. That was when I realized I was on an adrenalin frenzy knowing full well in the afternoon I would be crashing low, that weird sense of futility comes.

 

I was going back to my old  home, a place that hardly exists in my mind, a place where my ex wife was going to be, where my emotions are haunting me, be only on my own, that roller coaster of consciousness that wears thin like wisps of smoke.

 

That old place where I have to tell the woman in my life I have no money, we are broke, the refrigerator has no food.

 

I am the hunter home from the hills carrying an empty bag.

 

I say fuck it turn tail and run back to my cave. Can’t see no woman no more, no more.

 

Days just fade. I’m back into what us old freaks call Fanta Se where you can’t beat Denny’s for a good American breakfast and it’s cheap!

 

Hey 2 eggs, 2 bacon, 2 pancakes all for $1.99. What a deal! That’s what my old man used to say…so I’m still on the path of cure, but daily I go up and down. I have been in better shape. Even so, in the mornings I don’t wake up feeling like death…whatever my state is, it is going to take some time to get better…better than what I don’t know.

 

What I do feel physically and mentally is the action of alcohol, either because I have it, or because I don’t have it. Hey after all, I have been on a steady diet of booze, marijuana, tobacco and pussy since I was 21. What do you expect?

 

Especially since Scotland, my intake has been astounding. Fuck you!

 

If I had a nickel for every beer my financial worries would not exist.

 

On the other hand as my friend hank’s T shirt once pronounced, “I wish I had a beer, for every time someone said I had a drinking problem.”

 

Anyway, it is taking some doing to get past this addiction with my body, more so the kind of vacuum my mind goes to point to point, something I recognize in the alcoholics around me.

 

I am not sure of all of what and how has been the result of alcohol or that indeed it has brought chronic depression manifesting a chemical imbalance, or that it has been a life long genetic defect.

 

The possibility of whether or not I actually need anti-depressant Prozac, Deprecote, Tranquillyonutsoff you name it, at this point, I am willing to do the thing just to see if I can create another addiction.

 

 

But there you go, it’s just another day or like last night when I went into a tail spin nose dive and still not over it this morning to where all I think is to run away, get out of the situation of being here now baby…what ever that is...

 

The complexity is I have an appointment in a few days with a shrink at the V.A. Maybe it will make a difference, but most likely not. It is just my daily joyless ride on the up and down roller coaster of my brain.

 

This time my down has lasted for days, so intense I am almost convinced this is what I am.

 

I deal with it by going back to my private self-medicating curse, beer and marijuana, which is an instant eraser of troublesome reality.

 

I go up the road to find an old artist buddy who makes me appear sane. He’s a nice guy afflicted with pot and booze and more or less shoots himself in the foot as much as I do. The thing about him is he becomes Bob Dylan when he’s stoned and only speaks to you through the lyrics of Dylan. It is amazing how coherent a conversation he can carry on no matter who is saying what. I had no idea Dylan was still communicating by altered minds.

 

The next morning I am back on the ground, wondering who I was the night before. I have no lyrics to quote, just a mumbling mind sputtering random notes of illogical humor not even close to being funny and in a more sober brain I look back in horror of whoever it was driving my mouth.

 

Am I really so discontent? Who am I after all these years?

 

The day of the shrink comes around, and I drive into the parking lot of the Veteran’s Hospital feeling an eerie deja vous…Christ , it feels  almost like I just got out of the nut house in San Francisco’s Presidio. I am here again in the land of the mental mortally wounded.

 

In the psych building I look around and see a few guys who look like they have been drugged stupid. It occurs to me that nothing is wrong with me at all except that I just need to find my life. All I need is leave my wife and run to the middle of nowhere. Depression just happens to be a physical reality for the moment. I fantasize about going to New Orleans leaving it behind. Maybe Miami or Key West.

 

The problem is each time I visualize these places the same old sense of isolation comes back and BAM, there I am in the middle of Nowhere, being Nobody doing the Nothing, the University of 3 N’s. It’s me just doing the old escape act…again.

 

So there I am waiting to see the witch doctor where in a few minutes I can babble my tale of ups and downs. The doc’s solution will be Deprecote, or Tranzidone or Lithium. Take an aspirin and get rid of that nasty life scenario…

 

I don’t have a clue what the fuck is going on my head. Desperation is my daily dose. It’s like being a Grunt every day, not knowing what fucking Bouncing Betty will be under my tread, not knowing any fucking thing at all except breathe and count numbers. Maybe all this bullshit will blow away.

 

The office door opens.  The shrink is an attractive woman, about 35, a professional demeanor but nice, friendly, doesn’t have the crazy twitch the last shrink had. She appears almost normal, human like as she invites me in, take a seat and says, “What’s up?”

 

I start talking. That surprises me. She seems to listen, doesn’t say anything, just changes the pose of head, like a puzzled dog. I ramble on, have no idea what I’m puking up but notice she has nice legs and a sexy neck. I want to fuck her. The old male slut in me keeps my mouth running.

 

Thirty minutes later she looks at her wrist watch. I get the signal and stop. She prescribes Deprecote. Surprise, surprise right? She tells me it’s not an anti-depressant. It’s a mood stabilizer. She calls it a “swing pill”. Oh boy, just what I want a stable ride on this conveyer belt life.

 

She says it will a take a couple weeks before I get the effect and not to drink alcohol because it might blow my brain, heart or generally make me a vegetable. That scares me. I hate cabbages and broccoli.

 

So it’s crazy. I’m in the shrink department because of booze and drugs  and they cure me by drugs and no booze. I can tell Krishnamurti to take a flying leap with his mind control shit.

 

If this doesn’t work, it looks like I’m stuck with the real me. It’s ride the dragon time.

 

I am at a junction. Some call it the crossroads. It is where one comes to discover if the problem is you, yourself…or does it sit somewhere else? If it is your problem, does it have a chance of being fixable? If you take the right steps to well-being and schedule a maintenance plan will all those sticky wickets blow away?

 

But…if it is not you, if it is some one or some thing else you have allowed to dominate your life, is it so straightforward to finding a resolution?

 

One must know whose problem it is. Is it more difficult to fix the problems of another than your own?

 

There is the possibility in theoretical situations, the problem is neither coming from you nor some one/thing else, but that crusty canker is suspended by an invisible thread hanging in the inescapable void where one travels nowhere at all. In this case, movement is better than sitting still.

 

I’ll find the solution of this human puzzle by one of four ways. 1. Being stark raving mad. 2. Waking up from your bad dream. 3. Run for your life screaming in your mind if not your voice. 4. Take the pill and get to La La Land of the Merry.

 

 

 

Two days later I’m scribbling in a little journal at JavaJunky in Locorado. 

 

…I took the second pill this morning. I don’t feel a thing except worrying about money…and the complexity of money the first thought in head in the morning. My mood instantly somber because I have no clue how to get out of the hole…it occurs to me that science should invent a money pill---one that leads the way to money---something like cocaine. A pill that makes you work better when you’re high…yeah, amphetamines…

 

I’ve been around people like that and it is so obvious it’s just an illusion they are thinking, their little black magic feather that helps them fly out of their catastrophe.

 

The doc told me it would be  a couple of weeks before the magic ingredient volproic acid in Deprecote will bring back my old enthusiasm about ramming my head into the walls of reality.

 

The thing is I don’t remember good feelings or bountiful fortune ever came to me in a pleasant package. Even the times luck did fall in my lap it was in the midst of colossal wrecks.

 

Fuck it.  I want just one small piece happiness without being wrapped in a nightmare. Just once in my fucking life I want peace without war.

 

HEY, I just came across a note I wrote to myself  December 21, 2012. This was what is on it:

 

In the future this will happen. What the fuck?

 

BIG BLAST SCENARIO

 

It is late spring of 2014. I will be 70 years old in the fall. The worst winter in the entire recorded history of winters not only in New Mexico but the whole fucking northern hemisphere. There has been five times more snow pack than ever known before accumulated, while unbelievable drought and floods have racked the southern hemisphere.

On April 1, snow has been falling for 24 hours, 30 miles directly east of
Los Alamos, New Mexico in the Sangre de Christos Mountains.

In the Locorado basin, 40 miles due south southeast of Los Alamos, more than 6 feet of new snow is dumped onto the 12 feet of snow that began falling on the ground Thanksgiving 2013.

At precisely
12:12 A.M. a unusually warm Chinook wind begins to blow.

At exactly
3:00 A.M. Los Alamos is attacked by an Al-Qaeda nuclear suicide squad.

The small nuclear war head they have smuggled into the center of
Los Alamos detonates and sets up a chain reaction of several fusion bombs that have been assembled in the Los Alamos labs.

All of it blows. Tornado winds carry the energy and heat directly into the Sangre de Christos snow and glacier covered mountains. Everything melts in 1.7 minutes.

A giant wall of water roars down the
Pecker River Valley into the Locorado basin.

300 feet of water roars at 70 MPH down the Locorado River towards the 8 huge concrete motherthumping pylons the Mamaship sits on with 14 Babyships loaded with 280 squabbling terrified people, 24 dogs, 17 cats and a secret population of 300 pack-rats, and 4,000 mice.

 

 ***

I’ve got a deja vous.  I feel like I’ve read this before. Oh right, I did write that...I think it was the basis for a novel in one of my stoned out enlightenments of art...

I keep doing shit that I think is art. I sent drawings of aliens off to a mad restaurant entrepreneur in North Dakota. I call up an old friend who happens to be a multi-millionaire and he is on holiday with his faggot entourage in Bangkok. I apply for an arts grant with some snotty glossy magazine dorks. I even thought of getting a job as a Walmart greeter for $5.75 an hour. At that rate it would take about 25 years to pay off my credit card catastrophe.

Of course I keep painting my fantastic original art that nobody this side if Timbuktu gives a shit about and as far as I know they don't have any money there too...

 

I just have a non-stop urge to run. Run where? Just to be out there. To be on the road where I know no one and no one knows me, that lonely weird space that is no space, being desolate in the kind of excruciating tingle of separation from all that is comforting, the fear, the plain desperate crying blues of it...and I ask myself, why on earth would I ever want to return to such exile.

 

That one, I can't really understand except one aspect---the complete random uncertainty of what is next---to be someplace where time no longer matters---the complete opposite of being here, in my own home everyday have the destiny of being an artist, to test out another creative idea...

Because of that, time seems to evaporate in front of my eyes---this place that I love, this place so lonely, in the middle of nowhere, it is my comfort. What happened to the rest of my life, all those women, all those worlds?

I wake up thinking of running. God damn the thought.

I have not been able to figure out how to end this ridiculous riddle of trilogies which really, is only, all about me, me, me...except there are way too many people who exist who were there too…No matter where you go, there you are...

Then a few weeks ago a relative of mine gave me a journal I had left at his house when I was around 22 years old. I threw it in a box and didn't bother to read anything until the other day. I didn't anticipate what would be discovered.

 

I have NOT changed one-iota in fifty fucking years! It's all exactly the same old shit except for one small detail.

 

I was a complete babe in the woods and was about to go off on my first long distance bicycle ride with John College, June 1965.

 

Our plan was to get to Vera Cruz, Mexico, then catch a ship and go to Cuba. It was 1965 and we both thought Castro had the right idea about changing the world order...

As I read back over stuff and looked at my drawings, I realized as well, two things. 1. I only hit the top of just a few waves that were washed our way, and 2. It's a miracle John College and I lived to talk about it 50 years later.

 

Well, as the old saying goes, one thing leads to another.

 

Here goes, I'll do my best to transcribe what I wrote back then, and where I can, me or John College will connect the dots between those waves...expect this thing, [blah blah blah] when one of us interjects.

 

May 14, 1965

Eighteen days to go. That's not long at all. Even so, I wish that we were going right now. I'm thinking about a lot of things at once, and they are sort of bugging me. I'm just anxious I guess