Living in such a state taTestaTesTaTe etats a hcus ni gniviL of mind in which time sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA emit hcihw ni dnim of does not pass, space STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE ecaps ,ssap ton seod does not exist, and sTATeSt oFOfOfo dna ,tsixe ton seod idea is not there. STatEst ofoFOFo .ereht ton si aedi Stuck in a place staTEsT OfOFofo ecalp a ni kcutS where movements TATeSTa foFofoF stnemevom erehw are impossible fOFoFOf elbissopmi era in all forms, UsOFofO ,smrof lla ni physical and nbEifof dna lacisyhp or mental - uNBeInO - latnem ro your mind is UNbeinG si dnim rouy focusing on a unBEING a no gnisucof lone thing, or NBeINgu ro ,gniht enol a lone nothing. bEinGUn .gnihton enol a You are numb and EiNguNB dna bmun era ouY unaware to events stneve ot erawanu taking place - not -iSSuE- ton - ecalp gnikat knowing how or what THiRTY-SEVEN tahw ro woh gniwonk to think. You are in 05/31/97 ni era uoY .kniht ot a state of unbeing.... ....gniebnu fo etats a
I bet you thought this issue wasn't coming. I do have to apologize for the tardiness of this issue, but my summer job got its funding axed, so I've been looking for a job that isn't food industry related to no avail. If anyone wants to hire an intelligent, strapping young lad for work in the Austin, Texas area that doesn't require me to say, "Would you like fries with that?" email me.
I also have to apologize for not responding to most of my email for the past few weeks. It's been rather hectic. Needless to say, your mail is coming through loud and clear, and if you don't get a response out of me the next time you write me, bug me or something. I've got about 800 messages I've got to wade through.
Anyway, it's the beginning of summer, I have to go pick up Griphon from the airport in about six hours, and I am unemployed. Car payments never felt so good. At least I've still got the zine to take my mind off of my troubles. I hope it gives you a few hours of pleasure, entertainment, and a general feeling of well-being. Or maybe you'll get pissed off and fire a nasty letter our way.
I'm gonna stop this editorial right now because I've already written 70k for this issue, and I don't feel the need to put any more stuff in. Maybe it's because I had to type up that 70k from a paper manuscript. God, do my fingers hurt. Until next month.
From SYNTHGUY To: kilgore trout <email@example.com> Subject: hmmmmm...... FOLKS,I I MAY NOT BE AS EDUCATED OR INTELIGENT ( DID I MISSPELL THAT?) AS YOUR CONTRIBUTORS, BUT, I, LIKE MANY PEOPLE HAVE OPINIONS. ALL THE ANALISIS, YES THAT'S ANALISIS, IN THE WORLD DOES NOT CHANGE THINGS. LIFE IS STILL LIFE. DEATH IS STILL DEATH. CALL ME NARROW MINDED, BUT I THINK LOOKING WITHOUT, RATHER THAN WITHIN, IS WHERE THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING IS TO BE FOUND. I'M NOT SAYING ASK NO QUESTIONS, BUT SOMETIMES THERE ARE NO ANWSERS. ALL THE MENTAL MASTURBATION IN THE WORLD WILL NOT CHANGE THIS. BE AND DO. THAT IS WHAT IT ALL MEANS. THE QUANTITY OF PEOPLE WHOSE LIVES WE TOUCH IS THE DETERMINATE IN OUR LIVES. WRITE BACK SOON. YOURS IN ETERNAL COSMIC WISDOM, SYNTHGUY
[yes, many people do have opinions. and some people choose to express their opinions in this zine. you say we should 'be and do.' i say we are doing that. all of my writers have lives independent of this zine, engaged in various activities and projects, and this zine, as much as i like it, is only a small part of my life. we do our fair share of mental masturbation, true, but that's always required. i may not have as much "eternal cosmic wisdom" as you do, but i would say that understanding yourself is key to understanding others. and if you say that touching people's lives is the most important thing, take a look back at a few of the letters we've received in the past. this zine isn't going to change the face of the planet, or even block out the sun, as much as i would like that, but we do make a difference. i should know, since this zine has changed me numerous times, and that's more than i could ever have asked for when i started this up.]
From: Griz To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: "Fackav!" he growls gutturally at us, frowning and hunkering away... Kilgore... Seeing as Wayne Hoobler cannot make it to this meeting, I think I speak for both of us when I say DOUBLE BREASTED FILETS, PLEASE!!!" Agree? I mean, that's horrible and amazing. Complete florid harmony with our thoughts, no doubt. There's a certain somenone sitting beside me who'd like to say hi! "Hi tindersticks..aaah-aaah, tender stickyness..." Weeeellllll, enough of that pretty lady, have a seat. I've come here to present to you a petition signed by no one for me to join your ever so su-pah mailing list, OK? "Tender sticky wild fire" Bye, ant. Jeez. Who are those people?!?! Are those MANNEQUINS??!?!? Bye Kilgore!!!! See you later! Love you too! Your admiring wild haired kitchen god, Griz
[it's nice to see that vonnegut fans can be quite wacky. it's especially refreshing to know that i have my own 'wild haired kitchen god' on the lookout for me. it's definitely a su-pah feeling.]
From: Lyde To: email@example.com Subject: Mailing List State of unbeing is the best e-zine that I have ever seen. It speaks with a truthfulness that is unknown to other zines. Most people have no beleifs of their own, and depend on the general populace to make up beleifs for them. State of Unbeing does, in no way, do this. That is why it is such a great puplication. It would be much appreciated if you would put me on your mailing list. Thank you. -Lyde
[i don't know if we're the best e-zine around, but i'm glad you think so. we like being a hodgepodge of assorted ideas and beliefs; it makes the SoB coffeehouse meetings that much more interesting. you have, btw, been added to the su-pah mailing list.]
From: crackmonkey To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: finally..... hey there. so i finally got to writing you people (talking repectivly to your multipule peronalities and clockwork, cause he's beautiful, but this is all beside the point.....perhaps even beyond it) so of course i'd like subscribe to SoB. who wouldn't? it only took me ummm.....about 5 months, 23 days and 2 hours (no, i'm not really that obsessed.....:) to write this. anyways...so i think i'll return to the corner of my room and face the wall listening to dark noise now. -liz p.s. where exactly is clockwork and is he avaliable?
[seems that you like clockwork, huh? he's usually lives in austin, but right now he's off doing supersecret stuff for the zine, and i'm waiting for a report on his progress anydaynowthankyouverymuch. your name is on the su-pah mailing list.]
From: Lindsay To: email@example.com Subject: State of unBeing, zine, masterpiece, or the future of America? Dear Mr. Kilgore Trout, Hello there, my name is Lindsay. I'd really like to get on your mailing list because I am great. No. I can't lie. I'm sure there are many people out there more deserving than myself. But I'd still really like to get on the list. Please. I wandered onto the State of unBeing web site using one of the many electronic magazine listings on the internet because it is from the same glorious city I am from, Austin. I do plan to write for your zine and have even started work on my first piece. Expect it soon, Sincerely, Lindsay
[always nice to hear from some local kiddos. actually, the zine originates in georgetown, but we like to come to austin a lot, and some of us have lived (and are living) there at different times during the zine's history. i still want to know why we made some guy's top 10 worst sites on the net, though. i got to his site too late and he had already changed his page. oh well. you've been added to the su-pah mailing list. i think i like that word. su-pah. su-pah. su-pah. ahhh.]
From: NoGrapes To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: f*** the system! dear mr trout i understand that you are concerned about overpopulation i aquiesce men should be castrated at birth the genesis of humanity is female i am a hermaphrodite males are deformed all embryos start out as female in the future all humanity will be female cloning will make this a possibility suicide hotlines are immoral let those motherf***ers kill themselves chaves is god Sincerely, NoGrapes ps send me info on the church of euthanasia
[the church of euthanasia may be contacted at < http://www.paranoia.com/CoE >.]
From: anitrate To: email@example.com Subject: The Black Cat Walks At Midnight Hey....have you happened to have read anything by Hunter S. Thompson or Irving Welsh?? Just curious... Bea.
[can't say that i have. listened to the first half of the dramatic presentation of thompson's fear and loathing in las vegas. nothing like a trunkful of drugs to make a good story, huh?]
Derrick's Little Sister
I Wish My Name Were Nathan
Nemo est Sanctus
The Super Realist
NOTE: This article is long overdue. Part One can be found in issue #18 of State of unBeing, and, while they can be read alone, it would probably make a lot more sense to download and read that before reading Part Two. Go ahead, we'll wait. -- Capt. M.
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
"Ireland will not find Christ's peace until she has taken Christ's sword."
"Give us war in our time, O Lord."
The rebels, finding out that the gunboat had been captured, and knowing that what lay before them if they did not rise was internment and the crushing of their movement, went on with the Rising. Unfortunately, however, even Eoin MacNeill -- the official leader of the Irish Volunteers -- went against them. Up until within a few days of the Rising MacNeill was kept in the dark: MacNeill was a figure-head, not the true Volunteer leader. Padraic Henry Pearse was by now the true leader, and he would stop at nothing for a liberation of Ireland. All the main Rising leaders believed that an unsuccessful revolt would be better than none at all, as the masses would join behind them later. Upon hearing of the Rising a few days ahead of time MacNeill gave his reluctant support; a support that was quickly withdrawn on the capture of the gunship.
The capture of the gunship changed the entire schedule of the Rising. Until then, the Rising was carefully orchestrated to begin at 6:30 p. m. in Dublin, and 7:00 p. m. in the other counties on Easter Sunday, April 23, under the guise of manoeuvres. The Poblacht na hEireann (Republic of Ireland) was to be proclaimed at the first building to be taken, the General Post Office in Dublin, to be the rebel headquarters, and the provinces were to follow suit. Arms from the Aud were to be unloaded by the Irish Volunteers under Austin Stack in Tralee after the Rising was underway, and were then to be distributed throughout Ireland using the ITGWU train workers. With the Rising going on in all areas of Ireland, the British army would be thinly spread trying to put down the Rising. Security was so tight there was no possibility of informers, as informers were the death of every Rising before 1916. That was when all was supposed to be going according to plan. The Rising, however, did not follow according to how it was intended. For one, the Aud arrived early, having not recieved orders which postponed the boat, and was intercepted by British destroyers, the British government having captured code-books from the Germans and translated messages detailing the Aud's travel. MacNeill found out about the forgery of the Castle Document and the Easter Rising on Maudy Thursday. After the capture of the Aud, on Easter Sunday, without the knowledge of those on the War Council, he and the more conservative leaders published in the nationally distributed newspaper the Sunday Independent the following order (repr. in Rebels, by Peter de Rosa, p. 202):
Owing to the very critical position, all orders given to the Irish Volunteers for tomorrow, Easter Sunday, are hereby rescinded, and no parades, marches, or other movements of the Irish Volunteers will take place. Each individual Volunteer will obey this order strictly in every particular.
This order threw the Volunteers into confusion. All orders which had come to the Volunteers had come through Eoin MacNeill, and those who knew the Rising for what it was believed that he, not the IRB War Council, was behind it. The leaders of the Rising found out about this order while eating breakfast with each other Easter Sunday morning. Because of this order, the Rising had to be put off until Easter Monday.
On Easter Monday, orders were given for the troops to mobilise. Due to the confusion caused by the order the day before, less than half of those Volunteers in Dublin followed these new orders, and some of those in the provinces never mobilised at all. Those in North Ireland were told to demobilise because of a false report given to the leaders by a North Irish farm woman. According to Nora Connolly, this woman told the Volunteer leaders that only a handful of Volunteers were to be had in North Ireland because she was afraid of the effect a Rising would have on her farm, as the British soldiers had already seized 3,000 rounds of ammunition from the turf stack at her farm, which was being held by the Volunteer members of her family. This was directly contradicted by Nora Connolly, who saw herself over 200 Belfast Volunteers before the demobilisation orders came through, with more on the way. Nora Connolly was sent by her father James Connolly to give remoblilisation orders, but by then it was too late for a North Irish Rising.
In Dublin, about 1,558 of the Irish Volunteers, led by Pearse, and about 219 of the Irish Citizen Army, led by Connolly, marched in armed parade through the streets of Dublin. Joseph Plunkett left the hospital where he was recovering from neck surgery to take part in the Rising. Most in attendance did not know there was to be a Rising, believing this to be merely another routine march. Outside the General Post Office, the group stopped. Padraic Pearse, who had been elected President of the Provisional Government by the War Council of the IRB, stepped forward with Connolly and Thomas Clarke, and read the Proclamation of the Republic, copies of which were then posted around the area and given out to onlookers. Recruitment posters for the British Army were torn down and replaced with the Proclamation. The rebels then entered the GPO and expelled those customers and clerks within, making it the headquarters of the Republic. Two flags were raised above the GPO: the traditional flag of Ireland, a golden harp on a green background, and the newer Tricolour. This Tricolour was a gift from the citizens of France to the citizens of Ireland, and was given Thomas Francis Meagher in April 1848. According to the Irish Constitution of 1937 (quoted in A Dictionary of Irish History Since 1800, p. 571):
The colours are symbolic of union: the white of brotherhood joins the older Ireland (green) with the newer (orange) in a brotherhood of common nationality.
The O'Rahilly, Treasurer of the Irish Volunteers, showed up to help the rebels at the GPO. This was a surprise to many, as he had done his best to stop the Rising before it started, but decided, since he couldn't stop it, it was his place to help.
In his introduction to Labour and Easter Week, William O'Brien described his last meeting with Connolly, while the latter was leaving Liberty Hall that day. It shows exactly what the rebels knew was about to happen. Connolly said to him, "We are going out to be slaughtered." O'Brien then asked, "Is there no chance of success?" And Connolly replied, "None whatever." The rebels knew that they went out to become martyrs that day and took on the mantle willingly for a cause which they felt worth their very lives.
During the march, the troops were deployed to attack as planned. They were deployed thus:
Irish Volunteers (Five Battalions):Another group, including members of all these groups, stayed at the GPO with Thomas J. Clarke, Sean MacDiarmada, Joseph Plunkett, William and Padraic Pearse, and James Connolly. The rebels were determined to take Ireland with fire and steel.
First Battalion, under the command of Commandant Edward "Ned" Daly: Four Courts, Mendicity Institute, Jameson's Distillery, North King Street.
Second Battalion, under the command of Commandant Thomas MacDonagh, (with Michael O'Hanrahan and Maj. John "Sean" MacBride): Jacob's Factory.
Third Battalion, under the command of Commandant Eamon de Valera: Boland's Mills, Lansdowne Road railway, Westland Row Station, Mount Street Bridge, Northumberland Road.
Fourth Battalion, under the command of Commandant Eamon Ceannt (or Kent) (with Vice-Commandant Cathal Brugha): South Dublin Union, James's Street Hospital (now St. Kevin's Hospital), Marrowbone Lane, Roe's Distillery, Ardee Street Bakery, Cork Street.
Fifth Battalion, under Thomas Ashe: Outside Dublin City, in North County Dublin, to guard the road to Dublin.
Irish Citizen Army (Two Companies):
Michael Mallin's company (with Countess Constance Markievicz as Second in Command): St. Stephen's Green, Royal College of Surgeons.
Captain Sean Connolly's (Abbey Theatre actor, no relation to James Connolly) company: Dublin City Hall.
Na Fianna Eireann (Irish Boy Scouts), under the command of Sean Heuston (with Cornelius "Con" Colbert): with the Volunteers at Mendicity Institute.
Shortly after the deployment of troops the first person in the Rising was killed. Sean Connolly, of the Irish Citizen Army, attempting to take Dublin Castle, shot the guard on duty. Sean Connolly left to open City Hall, to which he had a key, to set up other outposts, leaving Lieutenant Thomas Kain in charge, with about a half-dozen men. The rebels then entered the castle and threw a homemade bomb into the guard-room within. The bomb failed to explode, but when the rebels rushed into the room the six guards gave up without a fight. The rebels then retreated to the outlying buildings, not realising that these guards were the only on duty, and that they had taken the castle. One of those in the Irish Citizen Army, who helped take over the pub he worked at near Portobello Bridge, a strategic spot and a business well-known for exploiting its workers, was Private James Joyce, whose novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published later that year. The Irish Citizen Army raised the Starry Plough, the Irish Citizen Army flag, above the Imperial Hotel as a defiance of Murphy's actions during the Lock-Out of 1913. This was the same building Larkin had spoken from that caused the baton charges of the DMP during the Lock-Out. Later on Monday a group of about 2,500 British reinforcements arrived from the Curragh and attacked the rebels in the Dublin Castle area, retaking City Hall. These soldiers then attacked those members of the First Battalion in the Mendicity Institute. After the occupation of City Hall that day, Sean Connolly, first to kill, became the first rebel to be killed, shot dead while raising the traditional Irish flag above City Hall.
Rebels also attacked Beggars Bush Barracks and Haddington Road as well, though not much fighting took place the first day, as the British were taken totally by surprise, believing the Rising was completely off due to MacNeill's notice. MacNeill's notice helped in that, due to this, what information the British government had on the possibility of a Rising from British Intelligence and informers was discounted. The rebels took advantage of this to deploy their troops.
Monday afternoon, back at the GPO, a group of British Lancers charged the rebel headquarters, but were repelled. Calvary horses killed during the attack lay on the roadway the rest of the week. Despite the lack of much fighting with British soldiers, several were wounded in the GPO by rifles accidentally going off, when over-excited Volunteers ran to the GPO entrances on false alarms.
By the end of the day on Monday three flags flew above Dublin -- the traditional harp on a green background, the Tricolour, and the Starry Plough, flag of the Irish Socialists and the Irish Citizen Army.
On Tuesday, more British reinforcements retook Dublin Castle. On this day British Troops in Dublin numbered about 4,000. These troops surrounded the city and attacked key rebel-held areas. General W. H. M. Lowe arrived from Britain on this day and took control of the British troops. The British attack on the Mendicity Institute was continued, and the British retook the Daily Express and Evening Mail building, then rebel-held. British troops occupied the Shelbourne Hotel, facing St. Stephen's Green, and forced Mallin's group of the Irish Citizen Army back into the Royal College of Surgeons.
Also Tuesday, Commandant de Valera of the First Battalion, to keep British artillery away from his troops, flew the Irish flag above an empty nearby distillery. De Valera had to keep all his soldiers intact, as he had no medical staff. This is because he refused to let the women of the Women's Ambulance Corps to use rifles. The British then shelled this distillery, as de Valera had hoped. This rouse was so effective that even the correspondent to the New York Times was fooled. Three days after this occurred, the Times printed the following (repr. in The Long Fellow, pg. 10):
The distillery was the scene of one of the sharpest little battles of the uprising. The rebels were forced out of the flour mill by bombardment and many of them were seen, covered with flour, making their way to the distillery. Once there they hoisted the rebel flag, which floated from the corner of a square tower. . . .
Rumours of the Rising began to spread throughout Ireland, and one of those to respond to those rumours. On Tuesday the Anglo-Irish unionist writer Lord Dunsany, [Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett (no relation to Joseph Plunkett), Eighteenth Baron Dunsany] who was at one time a member of Redmond's National Volunteers, decided to drive from his home at Dunsany Castle in County Meath, where he was on leave from the military, to Dublin to offer his help to the British solders there. He describes his meeting with members of the First Battalion under Ned Daly in the Four Courts area, which I believe is a good view on the Rising members by a British soldier, showing the varied personalities of the Volunteer troops, in his autobiography, Patches of Sunlight (pgs. 268-270):
So Lindsay and I started off in my car. On the way we passed a battery of artillery on their way to Dublin. At G.H.Q., where we arrived without any difficulty, I offered my services, and the staff officer to whom I spoke seemed at first to have no job to give me, when a curious inspiration seemed to come to him and he said: "Go to the help of Major Carter at Amiens Street, and put yourself under his orders." So I started off along the quays, and Lindsay, who had received no orders, nevertheless came with me. I had not been told which way to go, and I did not know that, if I went by the shortest route, there was an army in the way. So we took the shortest route. The particular part of the army that we met was drawn up across the road behind a row of barrels, about a hundred yards on our side of the Four Courts. They stood up from behind the barrels with their rifles already at their shoulders, with the bayonets fixed and the scabbards still on the bayonets, and as soon as they were standing they began to fire. We had stopped the car and were forty yards away, and they were standing shoulder to shoulder all the way across the broad street. Though Dublin must have been echoing to those volleys, to us they were firing in complete silence, for the crash of bullets going through the air drowns all other sounds when they are close enough. We saw the men's shoulders jerked back by the recoil of their rifles, but heard no sound from them except the tinkling of their empty cartridges as they fell in the road. I got out and lay down in the road, and many bullets went by me before I was hit. My chauffeur, Frederick Cudlipp, was shot at the wheel, but not fatally. When the volleys went on I saw that there was no use in staying there lying down in front of them at forty yards, so I went across the road to a doorway where I thought I could get cover. There was no cover when I got there, but it was lucky I moved, for they all concentrated on me, presumably neglecting to aim in front, and it gave Lindsay an opportunity to dodge round to the other side of the car. . . . The man that took me prisoner, looking at the hole in my face made by one of the bullets, a ricochet, made a remark that people often consider funny, but it was quite simply said and sincerely meant: he said, "I am sorry." He led me back to the rest, and one of them came for me with his bayonet, now cleared of its scabbard; but the bullet having made my wits rather alert than otherwise I saw from his heroic attitude that there was no malice about him, but he merely thought that to bayonet me might be a fine thing to do. When the other man suggested, with little more than a shake of his head, that it was not, he gave up the idea altogether. "Where's a doctor? Where's a doctor?" they shouted. "Here's a man bleeding to death."Dunsany and his chauffeur were thereafter taken to Jervis Street Hospital, where both British and Irish soldiers were being treated, to recuperate, while Lindsay was taken prisoner. (Interestingly, one of Dunsany's good friends, the poet Francis Ledwidge, was good friends with the poet and Rising leader Thomas MacDonagh.)
The bleeding was not at all excessive, but showed up a good deal, being in the face, and was probably the first wound they had seen as yet. To my great delight I now found that Lindsay was still alive, which I had hardly thought could be possible. My motor was riddled with bullets, but Lindsay had dodged about behind it so neatly that he was actually unwounded. . . .
Also on Tuesday, the British officer Captain Bowen-Colthurst, whose family owned Blarney Castle, began his reign of terror. The deeply religious Bowen-Colthurst was working on the theology that, as stated in Luke 19:27, "But those are mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." Bowen-Colthurst believed this referred to the Protestants ruling over the Catholics. Throughout the Rising he marched through the streets shooting anyone who appeared in a window. While passing Rathmines Church, he seized the seventeen-year-old J. J. Coade while he exited the building. He then told him that martial law had been declared, and that he could therefore shoot anyone in the streets -- in reality, a war crime. When the boy broke his grip, Bowen-Colthurst had one of those soldiers with him smash his rifle butt against Coade's jaw. Bowen-Colthurst then drew his revolver and shot the boy's head off.
On his way, Bowen-Colthurst came across Sheehy-Skeffield, a pacifist friend of Connolly, as he was going home from a meeting to help stop the looters, who ran amok during the Rising, as none of the Rising leaders were willing to shoot them. Bowen-Colthurst imprisoned Sheehy-Skeffield and, the following day, dragged him out and shot him. Bowen-Colthurst, seeming to think that the declaration of martial law, in place throughout the Rising and into the weeks following it, was the call to get rid of anyone who disagreed with him, which was, basically, any non-unionists, kept killing until stopped by other British soldiers.
By Tuesday night looters were everywhere, beginning with children robbing candy and toy stores, and continued by their parents grabbing what they could. Then some of the looters turned arsonist, and by Thursday, between these and fires caused by artillery, Dublin's city centre was in a blaze. Molten glass ran through the streets.
On Wednesday, Commandant Eamon de Valera's snipers were kept busiest. These snipers kept about 800 British reinforcements from Dun Laoghaire (then Kingstown) from passing Mont Street Bridge for fifteen hours. On this day these snipers, who were between twelve and seventeen in number, caused about half the casualties throughout the Rising. Of the snipers only between four and seven survived. Once the soldiers got past these snipers intence fighting took place nearby between the British and the main body of de Valera's battalion. The snipers could have been relieved by fresh snipers every few hours, as 100 more Volunteers were nearby with de Valera, thereby keeping off the British troops for longer, but Plunkett's strategy was more defensive than offensive, keeping the soldiers entrenched where they were after first deployment, rather than going out to take other areas or help other soldiers. This proved a problem at other times during the Rising as well. More British troops, however, landed from England at Skerries in County Dublin, and passed on to Dublin.
On Wednesday a British gunship, the Helga, sailed up the river Liffey and shelled Liberty Hall and the GPO. By the end of the Rising all the buildings between the river and the GPO were demolished by this ship. Fires caused by this spread along with the looters' fires, and there were so many fires the fire department could not respond. Rebels also seized Linenhall Barracks, where the soldiers surrendered, and torched it, adding to the fires around Dublin. Fighting at the South Dublin Union still controlled by Ceannt's Forth Battalion, also continued.
On Thursday prospects were bleak for the Dublin rebels. British Soldiers took O'Connell Street, on which the GPO was located, and shelled the GPO from there. The British did not need to risk an attack on the building, it could just wait for the rebels to be chased out by the shelling.
Meanwhile all over Dublin the rebels were fighting for their freedoms and their rights. At the South Dublin Union, fierce fighting was still going on. The Volunteers of the First Battalion, under Eamon Ceannt, bravely fought back the British, finally forcing them to retreat. Subcommandant Cathal Brugha was seriously, but not fatally, wounded during this fight. De Valera's troops continued to fight at Boland's Mills. British troops continued to shell the First Battalion at Four Courts. During this time still more British reinforcements came into Dublin, and armoured cars entered the city in the North King Street area. By Thursday all communications between rebel outposts had been cut.
Deploying troops Thursday James Connolly was wounded. After sending troops out to take the Independent building, Connolly was shot in the lower leg, just above the ankle, by a British sniper, while in Prince's Street. This shot broke both the bones in the lower part of the leg, making walking impossible. When this happened, the troops he had just sent were too far off to see him, and he was too far from the GPO to call for help, so he had to crawl the way to the GPO, causing much blood loss.
On Thursday morning, when they heard of the Rising in Dublin, the Volunteers in County Wexford mobilised and took most of the Northern part of the county, as well as the town of Enniscorthy. A large force of British artillery was sent to recapture the town, but the surrender of the Volunteers Easter Saturday made this unnecessary.
By Friday, sparks from the nearby fires and from British artillery had ignited the GPO roof. During this time Pearse wrote his last manifesto. The fire was contained for most of the day, but that evening the GPO had to be evacuated. Pearse was the last to leave during this evacuation. The rebels evacuated to nearby Henry Street through holes earlier burrowed in the walls of buildings by the rebels by 8:00 p.m. Connolly was carried out on a stretcher, by this time his wound was infected. While trying to move his troops into nearby Moore Street, The O'Rahilly was shot and killed. Ironically, though he tried to stop the Rising, knowing that it would fail, he was the only major Volunteer leader killed. Connolly, Pearse, Plunkett, Clarke, and MacDiarmada spent the night in a corner grocer's shop, guarded by sentries. During this time General Sir John Maxwell arrived from England.
On Friday, the Fifth Dublin Battalion of the Volunteers, under Thomas Ashe, penetrated County Meath, which Lord Dunsany had so recently left. These troops proved amazingly successful. This group first captured the RIC barracks here. After this success, the rebels ambushed a battalion of about forty police at Ashbourne, and fought them for five hours. The police then ran out of ammunition and surrendered. The force was, however, unable to take Ashbourne. The rebels were then attacked by a relief force from Navan, and during the following battle two rebels and eight British soldiers were killed.
Throughout the Rising, Captain Liam Mellowes, who had been returned to Ireland disguised as a priest by Nora Connolly, having been sent by James Connolly, was fighting in West Ireland. His group took the small towns of Athenry and Craughwell, and cut railways to Limerick and Athlone, crippling transportation. In trying to take Galway City, however, they were attacked not only by gunboats in Galway Bay, but also by John Redmond's National Volunteers in that district. They proceeded to Athenry, which was then surrounded by British troops. The rebels then dispersed, seeing resistance as impossible.
On Saturday, the rebels could not hold out much longer. The rebel leaders in Moore Street conferred, and decided to order surrender. Pearse sent a nurse, Elizabeth O'Farrell, to request negotiations for terms of surrender from General Lowe. Lowe answered that only an unconditional surrender would be accepted. Pearse then met with General Lowe, and gave this surrender. The following order was signed by Pearse and delivered to the other battalions (from A Dictionary of Irish History Since 1800, p. 145):
In order to prevent the further slaughter of Dublin citizens, and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, the members of the Provisional Government present at Headquarters have agreed to an unconditional surrender, and the commandants of the various districts in the City and County will order their commands to lay down arms.
Messengers then went to the various commandants and delivered this message, which was sorrowfully obeyed. By Sunday all major rebel groups in Dublin had surrendered. Being told of the surrender, rebels in the outlying counties drove into Dublin under safe escort to verify the claims, returning, broken-hearted, to surrender. Despite the surrender, the Rising had held out longer than any other since the eighteenth century. Only isolated snipers kept up the fight into the following week, their shots eventually being silenced by those of the British.
After the surrender, the dead piled up. Coal carts carried off the corpses, many of which had lain in the mud since the earliest days of the Rising. About fifty to sixty-four republicans of both the Volunteers and the ICA were killed, though reports differ. About 100-130 British soldiers were killed, with about 357 wounded. About 216 civilians were killed, including those killed by Captain Bowen-Colthurst. These were small numbers compared to those in Risings in other areas of the British Empire, but blood would again flow in Irish streets.
While staring into the mirror after my shower, at my exposed and naked self, I look past my skin, into my own soul. There is something about looking at oneself naked that not only reveals you physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Being exposed, being naked, brings about self-realization and self-discovery. I think when I'm naked I feel more free. I try not to limit myself to only in the bathroom. When I know no one is around, I close the windows and live naked for a few hours. I feel much better, when I'm sad. I feel like I'm alive.
I try to look within myself, but cannot help looking at my own exterior. I've always been told I was beautiful. Or that I was cute, or gorgeous or whatever the popular phrase may have been at the time. This was said by my parents, my grandparents, my boyfriend, and my girlfriends. They all said these words. Is there truth in it? I do not know. Everyone looks at themselves modestly, but to say that I have genuine beauty would be egotistical and selfish. I have the stereotypical good looks: blond hair, blue eyes, etc. But what does this all matter? Will it not fade away, if not in life, in death? Do those with beauty get farther in life than those without or in the afterlife?
Sometimes I wish I could go out and do something to change my own appearance. Instead of being the cheerleader that I was in high school, I wish I could have a nose ring or a tattoo. After even just mentioning this to my mother she exploded about how nice Methodist girls wouldn't do such a thing. About how my body should not have holes or ugly drawings in or on it. My body is a temple, and should be treated well, she says. But what is makeup? Is it not an enhancer, a tattoo of sorts? Don't "nice Methodist" girls wear makeup?
It really bothers me, how my parents treat me. I know I am not old, but I have lived on this earth for 19 years. 19 long years, full of rough times and good times. Experiences which they know nothing of. Which they will never know anything about; it is better that way. They act as if I cannot make a good decision for myself. People say you have to learn from your mistakes, but if I can't have any mistakes because of my parents, will I learn?
People say that you can see a lot of a person when you look into their eyes. I gaze intently at my own; I marvel at who I am. Beyond who I am with others, beyond who I am around my family, there is a certain person who shows her face rarely. She is the true Lindsay Quinn. No one knows her, at least not intimately, and she's only been exposed to one other person.
Why did I let him see me? Why did I let him know who I am? I should have kept quiet, stayed alone, not left with him. I should have just stayed home. What did he do with the information I gave him? The emotions? The deep feelings? All he did was shrug and grunt. Sometimes I think there isn't anyone out there who can understand me. Who wants to understand me.
Growing up in a fairly big family is hard. I've been starved of attention and given too much when I didn't want it. I'm not complaining too much because my life has been over all good. But what is a good life? What is it that I'm searching for? My family hasn't helped me much, instead they've only limited me.
All my life I have lived in the shadow of my brother. Only known as "Derrick's Little Sister." Apparently, to others, I have no true identity besides that. Maybe I can never outgrow that nickname. Maybe I don't want to have an identity, but it would be nice to be recognized as a human being. I can just see my brother's friends reading this.
"Hey! Look who wrote this! It's Derrick's little sister! What was her name again?"
"I... I... think... I'm not sure. Who cares? But wasn't that Derrick a real character?"
Tonight I decided to give up writing fiction. Again. I have decided instead to write a series of prose poems centering on one person, and stringing them together as if they were a short story or novel. Each should be independent, but, strung together, they should give the illusion of plot development. Nothing will ever happen in the poem, but things will happen between them, creating a kind of lingual impressionist painting. (Or is it ? Or something. The school of art that creates the illusion of an image through a canvas of colored dots.)
I suppose I should wait until I finish the tragedy. I've sunk enough time into it.
I got about two or three hours sleep last night. Better than the night before, when I slept not at all, but not so good as I should like. I really like being totally exhausted but having a constant flow of tea, because I don't have to relate to reality at all, at all. I can just sit along for the ride. As long as I don't do nothing, i.e. as long as I keep doing something, I can keep going indefinitely. Perhaps, someday, I will indeed conquer sleep. I don't think it's going to happen in the next few days, though, and I foresee immanent collapse. Oh well, c'est la vie.
After getting up, Dad, Moonlight and I went to Georgetown to renew our licenses. I never did find mine. Moonlight got his renewed, and the lady behind the desk gave me a temporary permit to last me until after my birthday, when I can renew the thing. I will be back the Monday after my birthday.
Then, got home and puttered around the house for about an hour, drinking enough tea to get over the shivers. When I get exhausted, I tend to have my body temperature drop dramatically. I read somewhere that is your body's signal it needs rest. I can wear a jacket or something, and that helps a bit, but the best thing to do is to drink a few cups of tea and shock my system into operating again. That's what I did this morning. I had intended to go with Moonlight when he went to school to care for some paperwork. As I was heading for the door, though, I realized I didn't have my keys, and when I went back to get them, S. called. I told Moonlight to go on ahead, and I'd catch a later bus.
S. told me that Sa. -- B.'s sister who cleared out and left home a couple of weeks ago -- needed a ride to B.'s house to get some stuff, so I swung by S.'s and picked her up, then to B.'s, and finally to Conklin's, where B. called Tabitha -- the woman who owns the house at which Sa. was staying -- to get directions. From there we went to Tabitha's, down in Cherry Hollow.
Sa. is pretty, in an elfin sort of way. If she wasn't alive, she would not be so pretty. A Sa. doll would not be appropriate on a cultured mantle or doll shelf. With her anima, though, she is attractive in, I suppose, the manner that something that can be glimpsed but never grasped is pretty. She has a sparkle in her eyes, but never seems to hold a sight. She is a bundle of energy, but doesn't seem to be much of a person at rest. She seems nice enough, though.
Tabitha is twenty-four. I was appalled to hear it, because she looks so old. I accept my being appalled may have been because I am approaching that age, but I really think there is an age in her face and manner well beyond what a twenty-four year old should exhibit. She has two children, though I only met her little girl, Jesse. I suppose that is short for Jessica. The child seemed maybe four, and I think the other child is older. But, Tabitha was very nice when we talked, and Sa. said she was being cool about letting her sleep at Tabitha's house. Apparently, though, she does a lot of partying, and although she tries to protect the girl, it must be hard when drugs are a staple, and fights are frequent.
Somehow, going to Tabitha's old trailer with no car in the driveway and shaky wooden steps leading to a wooden door that can't close right really slams me in the face with "reality", the reality that I, in my bourgeois ivory tower am not often exposed to. It is much harder for me to dismiss than the beggars on the streets, because this is institutional, not remarkable. I can expect that most every economic system will have some few who fall through the cracks, and they should be helped out by the people. To see people, though, that seem to be nice enough and to be working at it, but still barely make it, people who's life centers around survival at best, drugs at worst, is a very attention getting experience, and one I can never really escape. I usually try to ignore it, but from time to time it gets put back in my face.
Sa. was telling me that all morning Jesse was complaining that her stomach hurt and she was hungry. Sa. said she fixed her some hot chocolate and put marshmallows in it, and she picked out and ate the marshmallows, leaving the hot chocolate. Tabitha's food stamps had come in, but someone had gotten into a wreck the night before and she had no way to get to the store. I told them that I didn't have a lot of time and had to get to the University, but I didn't say no. All six of us -- S., B., Sa., Tabitha, Jesse and I -- piled into my little car and went down to the Circle K in Jonestown and bought groceries. S. told me I was doing my good deed for the day. I suppose she was right, but I didn't really think of it that way. It is less that she was right than that it was right. I never really thought of saying no, just trying to get to the University.
Much to my shame, I almost expected one of them to try shoplifting, and I didn't want to deal with that. I ought not have suspected them, though. She paid, and I carried the groceries into the trunk (except the eggs). I even gave Tabitha some money to buy cigarettes -- since you can't buy them with food stamps -- and B. a dollar to get some cappichino. I could have given them every penny I had, and I would have had someone asked. As it was, between gas and cigarettes, phone calls and coffee, I spent more than half the money I had in my wallet. I had just gotten my allowance yesterday, and had some gas money stashed away. Yet, I came out more enriched than they did. I really learn a lot from facing the things I would rather not face. There is something God is telling me through them. I'm not sure what it is, but it is something. Thankfully, I am no longer political. I don't know if today would have made me more anxious to precipitate the revolution, or simply crushed my spirit. As it is, I can look with wide-eyed horror -- with inner eyes, lest I insult someone -- and come away with something. Perhaps just a little more sympathy for my fellow sufferer.
My God, I wonder how that child survived the winter in a rickety old trailer whose "heater" is an open oven! I wonder how that child can possibly turn out! The mother, Tabitha, seems to love her, and Tabitha's friends were cool to her and everything, but there is one image that seems most telling to me. She has a puppy. The puppy, named Misery, is nice enough. It snaps when you play with it, but it is friendly, and it comes running when you call it's name. She plays with the dog, too. I expect it is hers. I one point, I watched her grab the dog by a handful of skin, lift it bodily from the ground, and carry it into the next room. That was typical. I was not the only one shocked, and the three of us who witnessed the event exchanged looks and nervous laughter when she left the room. Sa. tells me she saw her, once, holding the dog and playing with it when, I suppose, she got bored and literally threw the dog down, onto the floor.
Perhaps it makes me an elitist, but that is what I see poverty doing to man. Killing the soul. Unable to appreciate what is around one. Like I said before, the poor can destroy with a reckless abandon the bourgeois doesn't have. It is not that they are less enslaved to material properties so much as they are morally incapable of understanding their relation to them. I suspect it is the same way with animals and, I fear, other people. The masses cannot rise up to help themselves. Hunger has cut off the love supply to their brain. They can be manipulated for their own good, or they can be pitied. I have a hard time conceiving of another option, and it is crushing.
Even the animals in that neighborhood seem driven mad with the desperation of the poor. The dogs would fling themselves in front of my car as I drove by. It was not an accident. I had to slam heavily on the brakes a number of times, and so did another car I remember driving past.
The ultimate irony, in light of the fact I got my temporary permit this morning, is the fact that we were pulled over on the way back from the grocery store. The cop was nice about it, though. Jesse was on someone's lap in the back seat, but wasn't strapped in. The cop recognized Tabitha, but he just asked if she was keeping out of trouble and didn't run her name and find that she has two warrants out on her. He just saw that the sticker on my window was expired, since I have the dealer plates on the back of my car, and told me to be careful.
I dropped off Tabitha and Jesse at Tabitha's house, and B., S. and Sa. at B.'s and finally got to the University.
I had spent so much time with the girls, against my mother's wishes, that I couldn't justify to myself goofing off on campus. I resolved to get my business taken care of that day. Period.
(I don't want to make it sound like Mom is heartless. I told her, "I'm giving someone a ride somewhere." She knew S. had called. I suppose she supposes I was just driving S. someplace for kicks. I'm not going to tell her -- or, at least, I have no plans to tell her -- about Tabitha and Jesse. I could make a case for how I had to help out a woman in need, and I could not possibly allow a child to starve. My eyes well with tears just imagining the cries I didn't have to hear, as she asked for food. I realize Americans are, generally, unacquainted with hunger, and the safety nets of friends and State generally keep children from dying, but that is hardly enough. Malnutrition, ensuing brain damage, even just hunger pains. It is a crime -- it is a sin -- that any child has to go through that in the richest country in the world, the richest country in history. But I don't tell Mom that. I rather she not know too much more than she has to. If I routinely give her random information, I can always avoid telling her something she needs to not know, and I also don't want to make myself sound like some kind of benefactor, playing living saint, for the poor proletariat. I know I almost sound like I was slumming, using the people for an intellectual experience, but it is not that way. More than my mind telling me it was right, my soul weeps for them. I think I feel sadder for them than any of them feel for themselves. You have to realize your plight before you can suffer from being in it. Perhaps God gives brain damage and sluggish thoughts to the malnourished not as an added punishment, but as a mercy, so they don't know how much they suffer.)
After I got off the bus, I sat in the lobby of the library, read a little of my volume of Colette's writing, and had a snack Mom had fixed for me in case I was going to be out too long. My volume tells me, I think, there are an hundred stories in it. I think I have read maybe ten. After my snack, I wandered upstairs and, on a lark, looked for Schopenhauer. I succeeded well beyond what I thought. They have multiple copies of The World as Will and Realization, and many of his other works. I picked up a collection of essays called something like A Pessimist's Handbook, and I am beginning it. Colette has been once more shelved.
I am very impressed with Schopenhauer, and even pleased. I have finally found someone who I can agree with philosophically. Some things I disagree with. Obviously, I am not an atheist, but then his atheism -- insofar as his Pessimism goes -- is practical. He intended his philosophy as cosmology, not theology, and as cosmology I can lift it almost wholesale for my own use. Finally, someone asks the fundamental questions that most philosophical schools quail from asking: Is pleasure good? Is existence good?
Catholicism almost seems to take "existence is good" as a dogma. Check this out: Act of Faith: God exists. Act of Faith: God is perfect. Something perfect cannot be imperfect, therefore existence must be part of perfection, therefore it is better to exist then not to exist. Sounds obvious, and it is necessary if one wants to use something like Anselm's proof to prove that God exists. I can get around it, though, by claiming, with Pseudo-Dionysis the Areopagite that God does not exist, and He does not not exist. Rather, He is that from which existence comes, but is not existent in Himself. By that token, existence need be no better than non-existence, and either could conceivably be worse. As for pleasure being questionably good, that is easier to work into a Catholic template. I am tempted to seek to synthesize a theistic Pessimism, or perhaps the theology of Pessimism. I will have to see.
I wonder at what point I began to think like Schopenhauer. The reader might be forgiven for thinking, since he so influenced the Decadents, and I, in turn, was influenced by the Decadents, that I simply learned his system indirectly. I don't think so, though. Not entirely. I had made one of what I consider Schopenhauer's more important insights -- pleasure is relative, and nothing more than an absence of pain -- at least as early as the eighth grade, and had decided to liberate myself from emotional desires as early as fourth. I flatter myself, and say I discovered the basics of Pessimism more or less on my own. (Dad, of course, must have been familiar with Pessimism. It is covered in his Ideas of the Great Philosophers. Perhaps he even read that section to Mom when I was a child, and I simply retained it. Impossible to know. In any case, I learned it early.)
In any case, I am tired and rambling. I move on.
Next, I went to Parlin, room three, where the guy in the Undergraduate Advising Office told me I had to go to change majors. The guy in Parlin three sent me upstairs, to the English office. The guy in the English office sent me down the hall to the advising office. When I found someone in a back room off the advising office, she sent me to the West Mall Building, which I had never even been in before. ("Do you know where the West Mall Building is?" "I know where the West Mall is." "No, the West Mall Building." "No, I don't." "Do you know where the post office is?" "No." "Okay, go outside, turn right, go between some buildings, go up some stairs...") Once I had gotten to that building, all I had to do was fill out two lines and sign once, and everything was done. The hard part of the quest was finding the castle.
By that point, I was in no mood to find the room in the RLM building, so I went to the office where I needed to get the verification for my military ID. I had been there twice. Once, I got this guy who asked me what my graduation date was. The second time I got this lady who told me I had to go through my dean. Bureaucracies are like computers. There is a right way to do things, and a wrong way, but if you know the right tricks, the wrong way works better. I went up to the guy, lied about my graduation date, and got the letter I wanted. Fraudulent, I'm sure, but effective. Then, I went home, the conquering hero.
I'd barely been in a half an hour when S. called again. She apologized for using me, but wanted a ride for her and Sa. from her house to Tabitha's, for the party. I agreed, and even went into the party for a little while. It was amusing in its own fashion, but I wasn't at home. I forced myself to stay for a half an hour or so, listening to people and watching what they were up to, but I still left early, not the least of my concerns being that as people arrived I'd never get my car out. I also knew that I needed to get some sleep, an ideal I have yet to realize.
Somehow, S. seems too smart to be mixed up with this life. She does not seem to fit into it the way Sa. and Tabitha do, and she doesn't even have the vacant mind of B. She seems to have chosen to be thrust into this life, if that makes sense to my patient reader. I know we can never have a romantic relationship, and I know I ought not touch her, but I want to spend some time alone with her, away from her house, maybe getting coffee or something, but I don't know she would feel comfortable off her home turf any more than I am off mine. I would like to let her know that I like her -- that I love her, after my own fashion -- without making myself vulnerable. I know how she can use emotions if she wants to. I cannot be used because, first, I choose to let myself be "used" for my own gain, and, second, because I am aware of the world around me. If I got fed up with her, I could walk away. I am not afraid of that. I am afraid that if she got the idea she had power over me, whether or not she truly did, it would unbalance our relationship, which probably survives now more out of ambiguity more than anything else.
There are people that irritate me, and there are mostly people I can tolerate. S. is one of those rare people I actually enjoy being around. Twisted and egocentric as that sounds, from me it is intended as a compliment.
Argh. I might be able to sleep tonight. My eyes are really hurting, and I am very, very lightheaded. I get dizzy even looking at the keyboard, and my throat hurts. I think I will be able to sleep as soon as I get myself to bed, which is fortunate, since I have to get up around eight or nine tomorrow. I need a smoke, and then I need a bed.
"The poets? They stink. They write badly. They're idiots you see, because the strong people don't write poetry.... They become hitmen for the Mafia. The good people do the serious jobs."
boiling tar mildew
melts the humidity.
churning the air,
it fumes lucidly.
the water evaporates
sending secret agents
looming through the halls.
you can almost see though,
that thick black smoke
enveloping and clutching
like an ill child,
you can smell the sickness
on its breath and
taste it on your clothes
Abstract rulers in concrete bunkers direct traffic with formidable roadblocks of sculpted potted plants. Terminals in Universities spark to life by students trading homework for formula to make iodine bombs. Parents destroy their children's credit by bouncing checks and overdrawing accounts. Police beat news reporters reporting Rodney King taking his shot of smack; smack the police smack the police. Religious fanatics rain down holy words to damn while those with sincere attempt are viewed with contempt. Thank god buddha and/or allah for Burroughs and Ginsberg and Kerouac. Alternative mumbo jumbo dumbo Rambo Bambie loving neo-vegetarian vegetables cry, "Wait! Aren't they, like, you know, dead or old or something? How can we, like, you know, popularize without listening?" This anticultural vulgarity would turn Burroughs back into an addict from the grave. That is, if he was dead (which he is not) and if he could get junk in Kansas (which I doubt). Oh, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto. Auntie Em, Auntie Em, why do you go by a nickname? Why not go by your God given real life name that the writers dreamt up for you? Even fictitious people need real names. Look at Congress, for example. What's wrong with Emily? What's wrong with Emmelia? What's wrong with Em-shak-atul? Probably has blue roses. Oh yes, blue roses. It's a venereal disease that strikes fictitious characters who were written by homosexual writers. Didn't you know Tenn Williams was gay? Didn't you know Allen Ginsberg was gay? Burroughs, on the other hand, was just homosexual. Burroughs knew how to be alternative even before you young bleeding hearts were saving the whales and killing the lumber industry. Plaids and flannels back then weren't called grunge. They were called poor. Even Eastwood needs to open his eyes once in a while.
awake and consuming
the fizz bubbles distastefully down my throat.
the dead fish surround me,
the noise is already inside me,
felt, but not heard
i am locked inside a giant white room
horizons with every turn
there are no walls to scratch away at
i can't get out
how could you escape from something that does not exist
especially when you, yourself
don't exist either.
Have you ever seen a mad child?
Not one of tantrum and thrown objects
which collide, break, scream, pant
but a child so mad that man himself
cannot think of accepting it as his own?
Have you ever seen a starved child?
Bones metamorphosized into insectile
ribbing, knuckles clackering clacking
as Rimbaud looks on with gaunt interest
and El Greco shys away with thin lips?
Have you ever seen a raved child?
Raven hair or fire of mind, blowing wind
speaking in tongues danced with undulated
openess even hookers dare not expose
and police fear to harm such fraility?
Have you ever seen a mad child?
One born of mad mothers and mad
fathers who worship the very ground
their child walks upon, because they
see this child as our mirror?
Men's dreams can alter the world around them. Many cities have been built on dreams, and many more have been ruined by men chasing impossible dreams. Somewhere among these dreams are areas of truth, and these places make men successful. Somewhere among these dreams are areas of falseness, and these places lead men to ruin. Somewhere in between truth and lie is a realm where man is truly free to create his own fate, and it is here our story begins.
In the half realm of illusion lived two false Buddha's. The older brother called himself Buddha-Heruka, who is really Blessed Vairocana. In his falseness, he chose for his form a wine colored body with three heads, six arms, four legs, nine eyes, teeth of copper and all the other seemings of Buddha-Heruka. He spoke to one of his younger brothers who called himself Ratna-Heruka, who is really Blessed Ratnasamblahava. In a manner like his brother, Ratna-Heruka wore a form that had a yellow body, three heads, six arms, four legs, nine eyes, and all the other seemings of Ratna-Heruka. Ratna-Heruka spoke and said, "Buddha-Heruka, you have always been the first among us brothers, and the Central realm has always been the fullest, while me and the other brothers have been forced to wait for those souls who could not find peace in the Central realm through Wisdom. In particular, you have taken from me many souls who would find peace in the realm of the Glorious, having overcome their Pride. For this reason, I ask that you let me stand first above you, and that those soul whom I cannot find a home for in the realm of the Glorious should come next to you that you might find peace for whom you can."
Buddha-Heruka spoke and replied to his brother, "What you say is true. The Central Realm is bountiful, and each day I collect a multitude of souls that otherwise would likely be lead into the realm of the Glorious. However, you forget, I am a blood drinker, and so will not give up my wealth so that you mat have it. Perhaps you mistake me for Blessed Vairocana whose name I take and form I borrow." This, like any truth spoken to a being of the realm of illusion, angered Ratna-Heruka. Angered, Ratna-Heruka decided that although he would be denied the multitude of souls, he would take it upon himself to gather a number of these souls for himself through trickery. One soul that was led to the realm of the Glorious in this manner was Lyrus, a phenomenal musician. This is his story.
Lyrus was a happy man and an artistic wonder. In all his days, he wooed many women with his songs, but only one did he truly love. Unfortunately, an angry spirit had decided to interfere with his plans for a long and happy marriage. On his wedding night, after he and his wife were married, they entered together into the bed chamber. Lyrus did not know that Ratna-Heruka, in the guise of an asp had set a trap and was waiting for his wife in the bad. When Lyrus's new wife sat upon the bad, Ratna-Heruka sprung from his hiding place and bit her. Ratna-Heruka's venom was potent, and Lyrus's wife was only able to speak the words, "if only tomorrow" before death was upon her. Lyrus was heartbroken and enraged, and thus grabbed the asp and made preparation to cut off the snake's head. Ratna-Heruka was still full of trickery, even with a knife at his throat. In his trickery, he pretended to be afraid for his life and said, "If you drink a drop of my venom with wine made from unripened grapes plucked from the vine, you can travel beyond the shroud for a time before the power of the embryonic seeds bring you back here. There you can find your love and bring her back, only please spare my life."
Lyrus was heartbroken, but even more than that he was angry at the offending snake's words, so he replied, "I do not trust you, but I must have back my young wife. I know it is unwise to consort with the dead, but I am Lyrus, a wise man of accord. My meditations are good, and should allow me to accomplish my desires without you as a guide. I know the ritual of which you speak, and I also know that the venom you speak of works equally well if you are dead. Thus will I both have revenge and retrieve what you have taken."
Thus saying, Lyrus slew the form of Ratna-Heruka and gathered his venom into a cup. Lyrus also gathered grapes from unripened vines and crushed them into a wine, and drank it with a drop of the dead snake's venom. Lyrus awoke to find himself formless, and floating in a great void of darkness. At first he was afraid and thought himself mistaken about the ritual. Soon however, other souls made themselves known to him and he was sure of where he was. He looked for his wife, but soon came to find that he could not recognize the things he knew her by. None before him had her soft skin, her lovely eyes, or her enchanting smile, nor any physical form whatsoever. The shroud that separated him from his wife after death had also served to separate one person from the next, and here with everyone on the same side of the same shroud, Lyrus found he could not tell the difference between any one person, any other person, and himself. One of these people came to Lyrus and said, "Lyrus, I am your wife. Take me back with you, that I may live again." Lyrus was in part relieved, but still ill at ease because he distrusted Ratna-Heruka, and suspected this to be a trick of some kind. He suspected this was the soul of the asp he had recently slain, come to him in hopes of becoming alive once more. Confounded, and confused Lyrus decided to find among the people the one person who loved him most, and there among them he found a sweet, caring soul who loved him greatly who was not the soul that had presented itself to him. Lyrus decided that this was his true wife, and that he would take her back across the shroud. When the time came for Lyrus to leave, he gathered his wife's soul to him and swore to her that they would live together forever until they both died, and each night they would lie together in bliss. The time passed, and Lyrus found himself in his bed chamber with his mother in his arms. He had not realized his dead mother had loved him greater and knew him better than his new wife, and that he had mistakenly taken his mother back with him instead of his wife. Upon seeing what he had done, he tore his hair out in a rage and frantically tried to think of what to do. He could not lie in bed with his mother, nor could he break his promise. Thus he went to slay his mother, and when he was done, to slay himself. After Lyrus had slain his mother, Ratna-Heruka put on his form of the Buddha from whom he took his name, and spoke to Lyrus who was amazed.
Ratna-Heruka said to Lyrus, "O son of noble family, the time of death swiftly approaches, and I, Ratna-Heruka bless you on the joinery that lies ahead. You have shown Wisdom has no hold over you, and my brother Buddha-Heruka who is Blessed Vairocana will have no hold over you. Your anger at the asp has shown Aggression overwhelms you, and my brother Vajra-Heruka who is Blessed Vajrasattva will have no hold over you. I have taken from you your pride by playing you for a fool, and tricking you into leaving you wife on the other side, and then killing your mother. Thus Pride will not turn you away, and I will speak to you in Samsara and you will become a sambhogakaya Buddha in the southern realm of the Glorious. You will also know my face, and recognize me. Recognition and liberation are simultaneous." At this, Lyrus slew himself. After death he passed Buddha-Heruka by Ignorance and Vajra- Heruka by Aggression to find himself before Ratna-Heruka once more. Lyrus is now a sambhogakaya Buddha in the southern realm of the Glorious just as Ratna-Heruka had said, and this is how Ratna-Heruka gathered to him souls in place of those his brother Buddha-Heruka had denied him.
I was studying myself in the mirror when the phone started ringing. I didn't want to lose my concentration, so I let the answering machine pick it up. I had to do something about my hair, I decided. It was growing too long and I was getting bored with the style. Long hair is too important to leave unattended. It was getting frizzy and scummy-looking in the humidity and just looked terrible. I had an obligation to the ladies to look attractive. Currently I was considering a ponytail and cutting the sides really short, but I couldn't get an image in my mind because the fucking phone was still ringing!
I threw down my hairbrush and walked over to the phone, staring it down. Fucker better be important to drag me away from the mirror. I picked it up and heard this dramatic sigh of relief.
"Drew! Thank God you answered!"
"Who is this?" I demanded. "And stop screaming at me!"
"It's Mike, man, you dick! Now listen up, dude, no time for this bullshit. Kevin is wiggin' out, man, and I don't know what to do!" Mike yelled.
Kevin, that crazy fucker. "What's he on, man?"
"Dog epilepsy pills or some shit!"
"That's fucked up, man! Are there any left?"
"You're a fiend, bitch! He's also on like five hits of acid! He's like chewing on a pillow!" Mike yelled. I could hear growling sounds in the background. Shit.
"Man, I don't know about that epilepsy shit, but just like take the pillow away and tell him to calm down."
"I dunno, man, I'm scared. I don't think he'll listen to me either. Can you come over to my place right now?"
Dammit shit, I wanted to cut my hair! "Is he really that bad?"
"Dude, he says he's seeing everything sideways, plus something about his legs feel broken."
"Lemme talk to him."
"Oh-kaaay..." Mike said. I heard him desperately trying to convince Kevin to let go of the pillow. "I gotta sleep on that, man! Here, here, talk to Drew, man."
I heard rapid breathing on the phone but Kevin didn't say anything for a long time until he blurted out, "He's dead, man! No one's there! This phone prolly... connects to some empty desert... Fuck, it's hot in here! The walls are all wrong, man... I can't stand up!"
"Kevin," I said.
"What's that?!" he cried. "Fuck, the phone, man! Hello? Hello?"
"It's Drew. You trippin', dog?"
"Hell yeah! This is so fucked up! I.... whoa! ... uh, why'd you call?"
"Mike called me."
"Oh! Here he is, bro!" he said, passing the phone to Mike.
"What?!" Mike yelled at me.
"Shit, man, I'm comin' over, okay? But Kevin sounds okay to me."
"You're not here, dude, you don't know what's up!"
"Whatever, man. Laters."
Goddam fucking shit! Now, before I sound like some prick, I gotta tell you that this was Mike's problem. He can't handle trippers. He always freaks out before they do.
I decided I could let people look at my grungy-ass head for another day or two. Cassandra's party was in an hour or so. Her boyfriend and his bitch were going to bring two cases of 40's over. I wasn't going to miss that shit. What I'd do is calm down Mike for a little while then pop on over there.
On the way out, I erased the messages on the answering machine.
When I showed up at Mike's house, he ushered me in like some doctor and pointed at Kevin, spread out on the couch with this huge grin on his face. He had blankets wrapped around his legs for some reason. He saw me come in.
"Whoa, who're you?" he asked.
"I'm Drew, dude. Look closer," I said, bringing my face close to his.
Kevin cracked up laughing, totally unable to say why. He finally stammered out, "Do that again!" I stepped back a bit and zoomed in on 'im. He started guffawing all over again. He was waving his arms around like a motherfucker, but he couldn't move his legs since they were wrapped up. Finally he fell off the couch and bonked his head on the coffee table.
That made him laugh even more.
"I broke my legs again!" he announced, laughing. "They're, all, sideways!"
"What is that dog shit doin', man?" I asked, grinning myself.
"It's hard to explain. These up-down lines are all left-right, you know? The colors are backwards too."
"Just turn your head to the side, then," I suggested.
Kevin tried it out and burst out laughing again. "Fuuuuuuuck!"
I started laughing too. Kevin was such a trip. I turned around to confront Mike and I saw he was feverishly sucking away on a bong. "Yeah, Mike, like drugs will solve all your problems."
He took a hit of bong water and started coughing.
"Where's those epilepsy pills?" I asked him.
"No way, man," he said, holding his head in his hands, spitting, as he tried to recover from the taste of the water.
"Fuck you, dude, you made me drive over here for nothing, interrupting very important business, and I'm gonna get payback!"
"Above the sink," he muttered.
"Thank you," I said, walking into the kitchen. "Mike, dude, I also want to pick up some of those shrooms you owe me." I reached into the cabinet over the sink and located the bottle. NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION, it said. With a warning like that, someone's bound to try it.
I could tell Mike was stoned now, because he was suddenly standing beside me, smiling like an idiot. "Yeah, that's true. Okay, dude. How many you need again?"
"I gave you like seven medium and big ones last Tuesday. I need something like that much. I'm gonna sell 'em to get some smack."
"Oh yeah, yeah, that's cool. I'll go get you a baggie."
"Man," I laughed, "I can just hear the cottonmouth."
"Fuck you, man!" he giggled.
I selected some of the dog epilepsy pills and transferred them into my pocket for later. The date on the bottle said they expired in 1993, so I took a few extra to be sure they worked on me.
Mike took forever. In the meantime, I watched from afar as Kevin tried to read a magazine. "What damn country is this from?" he laughed, turning the magazine around in a complete circle many times.
Mike came back into the kitchen with the baggie. "Here. These are just a few days old. Almost primo."
"Say, Mike. Why were so you freaked out before, man? I can never get that about you."
He looked surprised for a moment, and rolled his eyes and shrugged. "Forget it."
"Sure, man, whatever," I said. "Well, say dude, everything seems cool here. You just stay chillin'. I gotta go."
"Alright," he said serenely. "Thanks for dropping by."
"Sure, sure. Laters."
Boy, was I glad to be out of that shit. I headed over to Cassandra's place. Maybe I could score some pussy.
I was a bit rusty on where exactly she lived, but I found out soon enough. It was probably the house with all the cars out front and the loud music playing. I must have guessed right. Cassandra answered the door.
"Hey, Drew," she said. "Lookin' good."
I unconsciously ran my hand through my hair. "Thanks! Back atcha!"
"Steve and Chastity are going to be back soon with the liquor," she enunciated over the music.
"Awesome!" I said. Patting my stomach, I added, "I'm ready!"
I walked in and some other buds from school were there. Cary, Reed, and Jeremy were hogging the couch watching TV. The volume was up so they could hear it over the music. "Gimme five, man," Reed said.
Jen was coming in from the backyard when I walked in. She was hot -- and wet. I remembered Cassandra had a hot tub out back. "Drew!" she cried. "I'm already drunk, dude. I came over drunk."
"Cool," I said, eyeing her body. "Say, has Jason showed up yet?"
"Jason? No. Say, dude, he's not coming over, is he?" she asked, concerned.
"I'm not sure."
"Reed doesn't like him."
"He wasn't going to stay. I was just supposed to sell him some shrooms."
"Shrooms!" she cried. "Can I have some?"
"Well, I was hoping to get twenty bucks for 'em."
"I'll fuck you if you let me have some," she purred.
Of course, she would have to. "If you insist.... Let's go upstairs, baby."
Walking up the stairs gave me a raging hardon and my head started to swim. I saw an empty room and ushered Jen inside, closing the door behind us. "How many you want?" I asked her.
"Let me see 'em first," she said. I pulled out the baggie from my pocket and let her look. She rubbed her hands together, giddy. "Oh, Drew, you weren't hoping to sell that few, were you?"
"It's twenty bucks, bitch, I wanna get some smack."
"Of course!" I replied.
"I said I'd fuck you. You really think heroin is better than sex?"
"Yup," I said instantly. "Together, even better."
"You'd almost be a loser if you weren't so cute," she said, grabbing the baggie of shrooms from me. "I'll get together with you later," she said, opening the door and hopping downstairs.
I charged downstairs, pissed and horny. "Can I smoke in here?" I asked. Several voices replied yes. I lit up a Red and headed for the couch when Cary had the bad luck to leave his spot. "Whussup?" I asked Jeremy and Reed.
"We're watching 'Trainspotting,'" Reed said.
"I can't understand these bastards," Jeremy drawled. "They, like, talk too fast."
"Are you stoned?" I asked.
"No. I just did fifteen Drixorals."
"Oh, yeaaaaaah. Man, I can't feel my legs."
"You're sitting on them. Prolly cut off the blood flow," I suggested.
"Oh, damn! I didn't even notice," he said. He then slid off the couch and landed on the floor on his ass. "That didn't even register either. They say this stuff is a 'dissociative hallucinogen'. Try saying that when you're drunk."
"Crazy SOB. What about you, Reed?"
"I'm waiting for that fucking Rolling Rock."
"I hear ya. You ever tried dog epilepsy pills?"
"Oh shit man, that sounds whacked!" he said, eyes agape.
"But you did elephant tranquilizers once."
"Yeah, so?" he said defensively.
Jeremy was bouncing around the floor, laughing. "It's fun to bounce around on my butt. It's easier than walking."
"It's true," Reed said. "He can't walk at all."
I sat back and watched the movie for a few minutes. With the music overhead and the distortion of the TV speakers, I couldn't make out a lick of dialogue.
The phone started ringing. Maybe it was Jason. I heard Cassandra yell from upstairs, "Don't pick it up if it says 'hotel'!" Ah, caller ID. Cary got to the phone before me.
"Jason? What the fuck is he calling here for?!" he cried.
"Chill, dude, I told him to call here."
"Don't you fuckin' let him come over here. He's been itchin' to beat up Reed."
I picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Hey, Drew?" Jason asked. "Got my shrooms?"
"Well, man, something came up. I couldn't get 'em."
"Aw, fuck, man! What happened?"
"Um... I got screwed."
"That sucks. Say, is there a party going on over there?"
"You're shittin' me. No one plays music that loud without a party."
"Ummm...," I stammered, overhearing Cassandra finding out that Jason was on the phone and possibly coming over. "That fucker ain't getting in this house," she announced. Jen also picked this time to yell out in agony, "Where's my BEER?"
"Dude, I heard someone say beer!" Jason said. "I'm gonna come over."
"No, man, don't! There's no party. Say, say -- I know a dude who has some shrooms. Whatsay I go over to his place, pick some up, and swing by your place and sell 'em to you?"
"Well," he considered, "if you can get 'em to me half-price. Four grams. Else I'm gonna come over there and get me some free beer."
"Fuck you, man! Stay put! I gotta make some calls."
I hung up. Immediately Reed accosted me. "Is that bitch coming over?" he asked, scared.
"I'm not sure. I told him not to."
"He's gonna kick my ass, man."
"Why is this?" I asked.
"I fucked his girlfriend."
"They were broke up, Drew. But he still got jealous!"
"Shit, I'm splitting. I gotta leave. Is he coming over?!" he stammered.
"I told him not to. But I gotta make some calls first."
Cassandra announced, "I won't let him in, Reed."
I made a call to a guy I know named Mitch. He always has drugs lying around. The phone was busy. I waited.
Finally, the liquor arrived. Steve hauled in a box of Rolling Rock and Chastity set down a case of Old English.
"Forties! Forties!" Cary rejoiced. "I put in twenty bucks, I get two."
One by one, almost each bottle was claimed. Somehow six more people I didn't know had arrived. I secured an Old English for myself. The arrival of the alcohol let people forget about Jason for half an hour.
I tried calling Mitch again. After six rings he finally picked up. He could get the shrooms for me, thank God. When I hung up, Jason was calling again. "Don't pick it up if it says 'hotel'!" Cassandra reminded us.
"Yeah, Jason?" I answered.
"I been waitin' for a while! You got any shrooms yet?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm getting some from Mitch."
"Man, it still sounds like a party over there," Jason noticed.
"It's not a party, man."
Reed was drunk and yelled out something about sinking into the carpet.
"Um, Drew?" Jason said slowly.
"Is that motherfucker Reed I hear?"
"No way, man. It's someone on TV."
"I'm gonna slaughter that bitch!"
"Go ahead, but he's not here."
"Fuck you, you lying cunt! That's him!"
"Jason, stay put, man. I'm heading over with the shrooms right now. Oughta be another half hour. Don't freak out."
"I don't know, man. You better be fast."
He hung up.
"Uh, guys?" I called out. Most of the partygoers were lying peacefully with their 40's in front of the television. "Jason might be coming over."
Instantly Cary jumped up with his fists in the air. His bottle was empty. "I'm gonna massacre that faggot!!"
Reed finished off his bottle and said curtly, "I'm outta here. Call me tomorrow, somebody."
"Come back, Reed! I won't let him inside!" Cassandra called after him.
One of the newcomers, wearing a Korn shirt, announced, "I've been meaning to settle a score with that cuntlick for a while now." He walked into the kitchen and found a pair of gardening clippers. "If that cuntlick comes in here, I'm gonna stick 'im."
"If he gets past me, you can do whatever you want," Cassandra assured Korn-boy. "I don't want any trouble."
"I'm gonna stick 'im on both sides of the neck. Bam! Bam!" he illustrated with swift jabs of the clipper at an imaginary neck.
Cary appeared with a baseball bat. "I'll keep him down for you in case he squirms," he said.
"No one let Jason in here!" Cassandra yelled. "I don't want the cops to find alcohol here."
I finished off my Old English quick and then headed over in my car to Mitch's place. I didn't have much against Jason except he was stupid.
I arrived at Mitch's place, and apparently I was a little drunk, because I'd totally forgotten that Mitch would want money for the shrooms. I tried to haggle him into lending them to me until I could repay him. After several minutes, he brudgingly agreed. I was about to leave when I wondered if I was fit to drive. I performed a test.
"Dissociative hallucinogen," I enunciated.
"Whaaaat?" Mitch asked, bemused.
"Dissociative hallucinogen," I said.
"You're fuckin' plastered, man!"
"No I'm not," I said, "I can pronounce 'dishoshative hallushogen'." Then I stumbled into the door.
"You better drive home fast before you get any drunker," Mitch said.
I drove over to Jason's place. It was past midnight on a Friday morning, so there weren't many other people on the street. The bastards would've gotten in my way otherwise. I pulled up in his driveway and rang the doorbell.
"Here you are, dude," I said, handing the baggie to the person who answered the door. Holy fuck! It was Jason's dad!
"What's this? Who are you?" he asked, confused, examining the baggie.
"Uh, give 'em back," I said.
"No, young man, explain this to me. Is this marijuana?!"
"No, it's not. Wrong house, dude!"
I snatched the bag out of his hands and ran off.
"Come back here!" his dad cried as I stumbled back to my car.
I backed out of the driveway and tried to figure out what to do about this. I had a great plan. I'd circle around the block and then try again.
I circled around the block and tried again. I was about to ring the doorbell when Jason opened the door.
"What the fuck are you doin', bitch?!" he hissed at me.
"Your shrooms, dude," I said as quietly as possible, but somehow I heard it echo through the house. His dad heard me and said, "Is he back?"
"Bitch!" he hissed, hitting my shoulder and making me fall backwards. "Go! Go! I'll meet up with you!"
I stumbled back to the car and left in a hurry. My balls were retracted, I had to piss, and Jason was gonna show up at the party now. I hoped Jen would still lay me.
As I approached Cassandra's house again, I spotted a cop car parked along the road. I slowed down cautiously, passed him, and tried to pull up on the side of the street across from the party. Instead I misfired and drove up into someone's lawn. The pig flashed his lights and tagged me.
"GET OUT OF THE CAR," his bullhorn yelled at me, startling me, making me dribble in my pants. "Fuck!" I screamed, banging my fists on the steering wheel. I shoved the shrooms in the crack of the seat and stepped out of the car.
I stumbled and fell over onto the road. But I stood up suavely and asked, "What's the problem, officer?"
"Have you been drinking?" he demanded.
"No sir," I said, honestly.
"You parked too close to the curb," he pointed out.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I'll move my car."
"Too late. I'll have to write you a ticket."
I was pissed off. What was even worse, I was too drunk to make out what the ticket said. I promptly walked into Cassandra's house and told them about the pig.
"Turn down the music!" Cassandra announced. "There are cops parked up the street! We don't want to attract attention. Please, be cool. My parents would hurl."
"Hey, Drew, that bitch Jason's been calling back here!" Korn-boy said. "We didn't answer the phone. Is that cunt coming over?"
"He better not show up, goddammit, or else I'll stick 'im!" Korn-boy now had two steak forks. He practiced his moves on the defenseless open air. Cary swung his bat into the couch. "Maybe I'll pop his nuts first," Korn-boy considered.
"If he gets past me, you can do whatever you want," Cassandra repeated. "This is my house, and if he doesn't respect me, then that's just trespassing and you guys are just defending yourselves. I hate that asshole. Reed is already long gone. He has no reason to come over now."
With the music off, and Trainspotting now over, people had calmed down. I went out in the backyard to find Jen in the hot tub still.
"Say, baby, wanna fuck?" I asked.
"Aw, shit, no way dog! I'm tripping."
"Are you serious?"
"Hell yeah, now go away."
What the fuck! I realized that Vanessa was also in the hot tub, and oh shit, she was wearing a bikini! No, no, I strained harder to look -- she was actually in her panties!
"Oh, Vanessa, girl, you're hurting me!"
"Am I?" she cooed. "What can I do about that?"
Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me. "Fuck me!"
She laughed. "Good lord! You've got two hands, Drew. Figure it out for yourself, okay, little boy?" Aaaaw, yes! I reached down and fondled her breasts, when she yelled, "Get off me, asshole!" and suddenly grabbed my arms and pulled me into the hot tub. Holy shit, it was hot! I was boiling!
"Aaaugh! Auggh!" I screamed, splashing my way out of the pool. "Fuck you, bitch! Fuck you!" Vanessa was laughing at me. Jen was just staring into the emptiness.
Denied again! I stormed back into the house and took off my shirt. I stood in the kitchen smoking, when I got an idea. I opened up the refrigerator and found a can of Cool Whip. Awesome. I exhaled, held the can up to my mouth, and gently pressed on the nozzle.
After a few seconds of inhaling, I started to hear this loud buzzing sound. My field of vision went bright white, and I felt myself climbing, climbing, and then it suddenly stopped. When I came to, I was sprawled on the ground lying in my own vomit. Vanessa was standing over me, as sexy as hell, laughing.
"You pitiful drunk fuck," she said, and walked off.
Shit! Dammit shit! I'd never use that brand of Cool Whip again.
I was a bit confused for a while as I washed myself off. What time was it? Was Jason showing up yet or what? Did I get laid? I stumbled over to the couch and lay down. Jeremy was still bouncing around on his ass, and I couldn't relax.
"Everyone, there's all these cops parked up the road, so like, don't go outside if you're drunk," Cassandra said. "Does anyone want this last Rolling Rock?"
"Is he comin' over, man?" Korn-boy demanded. "I'm still ready for 'im."
"Dude, I tried to drop off the shrooms but his dad overheard. He said he'd meet me later."
The phone was ringing again. I hopped up to get it.
"Drew! Don't fuckin' sit on the couch anymore! You're wet!" Cassandra moaned.
It was Jason on the phone. "Motherfucker, I am gonna slaughter you, bitch!"
"Man, calm down, what's up?" I asked.
"My old man is calling the cops to search my room for drugs, man. You are gonna die."
"Flush 'em!" I suggested.
"Can you flush a kilo of weed, asshole?"
"Do you still want those shrooms?"
"I'd advise you to find a better gun than mine, bitch, that's all I'm sayin'." He hung up.
I walked back over to the couch. "Say, Cary?"
"Jason's on my ass now too."
"That motherfuckin' cocksuckin' faggot! Where is he?"
"He's at home, I think."
"Keith!" he called to Korn-boy sitting outside in the hot tub. "It's time!" Keith stormed inside and grabbed the steak forks again. "His house, man!" Cary slid his hands up and down the bat. "Let's go!" They took off.
I pretty much figured I wasn't gonna get laid. Didn't get my smack either. The alcohol was wearing off too. This party really sucked. I decided to go home.
He had given his readers many stones; so many, in fact, that he had only one left -- the stone that had formed in his gut.
I entered into her apartment. No matter how my day may go, I always like the ability to come home to one place where I can feel secure and unthreatened, a place where I am, if not welcome, accepted. It is "her" apartment, but it is "our" life. "Our" relationship.
I found her dressing for bed, in her billowing white nightdress. Her edges melted as the breeze through the open window caused the light cloth to rise and dance around her otherwise nude body. Most every light in the apartment was out, and she was placing her small glasses on the night table, bending over, her round form silhouetted against the night coming in through the curtain and through her dress, when the scraping sound of the lock and opening door got her attention. In the darkness, I know she impulsively squinted at the doorway, unthinking of the glasses she had yet to lay down.
Her eyes squinted further and dropped down to her hands as I turned on the overhead light in a violent, impatient gesture. The shades of her almost bare body illuminated through the diaphanous cloth, from rose petal pink circles to a shadow black triangle, and all the tawny tints between. The synergy of almost nudity and abashed surprise made her look delightfully offbalance, vulnerable, rapable. It suited my mood.
Her eyes adjusted rapidly, and she attempted to raise the corners of her mouth as she raised her face. Despite her honest efforts, she still looked less uplifted than uncertain.
Thinking rapidly, I barked at her about being suddenly unwelcome in her life. Her innocent stammering that she had expected by now I was not coming to her apartment and would be doubtless sleeping in my own I took as more fuel for my fire. They were, of course, reasonable protests, even if reason was not the foremost of her capacities. Had the door been unlocked it would have been support for my attacking her negligence.
As I assaulted her, her eyes opened wider, well past squinting. Confused, lost, lamblike, she winced, withered under my words, and I drew strength from her fear. She tried to defend herself, but all she could do was withdraw into herself -- giving me legitimate reason to batter through her defenses, and join to her in there.
Our war dance had ended with her backed against the foot of the bed, and I over her. With a blow, she was on the bed, sitting, more stunned than hurt. One hand against her face, the other balanced her weight as she leaned back, her nightdress caught twisted around her convulsing fingers and dragged somewhat down her bosom.
The very innocence of her confusion infuriated me. I was tempted to strike again, but diverted my blow, instead pressing her under me, holding her to the bedclothes by her throat. She did not cry out; she did not even struggle. A tear or two rolled down her face, glistening in the stark lights, more from strain than misery, but the only movement she made was to roll slightly to the sides so I could easier slide off her nightdress. Saddened, she was pinned to the bed like an animal caught in headlights. My grip, while there, was superfluous.
Her mother, understand, had done her a great disservice. Her mother had filled her with all kinds of romantic notions, telling her that sex has something to do with love. She thinks the idiom "making love" has a literal meaning. She never came to have a healthy barrier erected between her physical and emotional desires. This made her very vulnerable to anyone capable of taking advantage of this weakness. She is unable to conceive of the difference between love and lust.
When her body answers, she feels it to be love. It may sadden her; in the mornings she has snuck off to cry, thinking I did not care enough to spy on her, to observe and understand her emotions. Despite the confusion, despite the self-loathing, her body had begun to answer even before I had struck her to the bed. By the time we were conspiring to bring down the diaphanous walls separating her body from mine, she was well confirmed in what she believed her love.
Pressed, terrorized and hungry beneath me, I forced myself to higher hates, to preserve my desire. Sitting sobbing in my arms, when I am pleased to be tender, she can be my Rachel, my lamb, an imperfect female offering, fit for profanation, not the sacred. In times like these, she just a jewess, one of the once-chosen race.
Those who have not learned to do it seldom believe the range of emotional fine tuning mere vocabulary can do. Focusing my mind on the negative, real or imagined, I could feel the love draining out of me, leaving me the pure power of hate for this girl. No sympathy, no pity, no weakness. I focused instead on what I wanted to see. The cleanliness of this person, for example, moral and otherwise, is a point in itself. By her very exterior I can tell she is no lover of water, and, to my distress, I find I can know it with my eyes closed. I find myself growing sick to my stomach from her very smell. Added to this is her unclean dress and generally unheroic appearance. A loathing, a sense of justice at her rape, fills the mind.
I continue my meditation on her person. This could scarcely be called very attractive; but it becomes positively repulsive when, in addition to her physical uncleanliness, I contemplate the moral stains on this, my chosen member of the self-chosen race.
My mind floats to the occasional other jewess I have known. I recall one in particular, a different kind of jewess, more swarthy, more angular, with less Aryan blood intermingled. I picture her in bed with her constant companion, her little girl-toy. If the words "faded pink cream puff" can have true meaning, a transcendental signified of sorts, an avatar, an incarnation, an actress in the morality play of life, it would be she. Rounder and shorter; pink in the cheeks without being red, or ruddy, or even healthy. She is Aryan -- more so than not -- but of a very weak form, from her weak chin to the weak will that made her the plaything of a Lesbian jew more likely more interested in possession of an Aryan, however deficient, than any conception of "love" she may have been capable of. The two of them squirm and writhe in each others' arms, in each others' beds, in my mind. They twist and contact with fingers, arms, tongues, breasts and bodies and bellies, and the intermingled loathing, the loathed intermingling, race mixing, Lesbian, jewish, increases my hateful ardor.
I picture myself cutting, entering carefully into my jewess as into an abscess and finding, like a maggot in a rotting body dazzled by the light, a jew, this jew, every jew. I choke down my bile and grit my teeth.
In the end, this pleases both of us, on our own levels. For myself, the little conquest, and little slaying, validates myself. If not welcome, I am accepted. For hers, the bedplay seems to her a way of taming the wild beast. Her body tells her she loves me, and her fears tell her the way to keep me is to satiate me. She believes in redemptive suffering, in self-sacrifice.
Doubtless, this is why it continues to play out, why I come back, and why she welcomes me.
"And so it begins," she said, putting her head in her hands. I stared at the chipped purple polish on her nails.
"It's finished," I countered after the silence grew too much to bear.
"No, you're wrong. It always starts up again. It never ends."
"This time, it's over," I muttered without her hearing. At least, I hoped it was.
Joanna leaned back on the sofa and drifted off to sleep. I watched her for awhile, studying her rhythmic breathing and wondering what she was dreaming about. We had been through a lot in the past few weeks, and I still didn't know much about her. That was partly due to my not wanting to appear nosy, but I couldn't help asking myself why she had chosen me.
I stood up slowly, trying not to disturb her, and went into the kitchen. What if she was right? Was all of our work in vain? I made a turkey sandwich, grabbed a beer from the fridge, and sat down at the table, pushing Joanna's purse aside to make room. Maybe Jonathan was right. Maybe we were fools for thinking that we could win. But he was dead now, and, to me, all the indicators pointed to events finally reaching a conclusion. If it was just an impasse, a temporary delay.... Better not to think of that and just relax.
The apartment we were in was small and hers. A spartan affair, Joanna had only enough furniture to be serviceable. This was only the second time I had been here, and it seemed like the first was so long ago, even though it had only been a few days. I shuddered to think how my friends and family must still be worrying about my sudden disappearance, but they wouldn't believe me if I went back and told them everything. Not that I really wanted to, because a reinsertion into normal life would be impossible. I was better off leaving those ties severed and making a fresh start.
I finished the sandwich and beer and got up, accidentally knocking the purse off of the table. An envelope, a package of sleeping pills, and a wallet fell out when I picked the purse up. I set the beer on the table and took the envelope. It had already been opened and had my name on it. My fingers shook as I tore open the envelope. Why hadn't Joanna showed me this? Why had she opened it and not told me? Inside the envelope was a small piece of paper with a yellow smiley face drawn on it. Underneath the face were the words, "Mr. Happy says, 'And so it begins.'"
I went cold when I saw that, and then the front door was kicked in. I turned to see Joanna jump off the couch, and four masked men with handguns barged into the apartment. Before I could grab the beer bottle, I found myself staring down the barrel of a Colt .45. Joanna stood motionless with guns trained on her.
"You know, Paul, it's not nice to kill defenseless girls," one of the men said.
I looked at him in bewilderment. "What the hell are you talking--"
The man nearest Joanna fired five shots into her chest. She flew back into the sofa, her white sweater covered in blood. He turned and tossed me the gun, which I aimed and emptied the clip into him.
He just stood there, laughing and unscathed.
"Haven't you figured it out yet, Paul?" the man closet to me asked. "We can't die, but you sure as hell can."
He raised his pistol above his head and slammed it into my forehead.
"Do you mind if I sit with you? I hate seeing someone eat alone," a woman's voice said.
I closed the copy of Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy that I was reading and looked up. She couldn't have been more than twenty-two, and she flashed a friendly smile.
"Sit right down," I replied. "No sense in subjecting my palette to this rancid dorm food alone."
"It's funny," she said, seating herself across from me. "I've never seen you around here before."
I poked my fork at the spaghetti as I tried not to laugh at the feeble attempt at a pick-up line. Not that I minded, but she could have been a bit more original. I repressed my desire to ask her what a nice girl like her was doing at a college like this and played along.
"Well, I've been going here forever. I have a tendency to be invisible."
The woman raised her hands up in mock shock and said, "Whoa! Where'd you go?" I smiled and politely sipped on my tea. Unfortunately, I was still here.
"I'm Joanna, by the way."
"I see you're reading Russell. Are you a philosophy major?"
"No. English, actually."
"Oh. You look like a philosophy major. Have you ever read his essay, "'Why I am not a Christian?'"
"Can't say that I have." At least she had good taste in writers.
"You oughta check it out."
"I'll have to look at it sometime."
Joanna stared at me for a second. "Am I bothering you? If I am, I can leave."
"No, it's alright. I'm just not used to carrying on conversations on campus all that much. I tend to keep to myself most of the time."
"Why is that? You don't exactly seem like the loner type."
"You also thought I was a philosophy major."
She laughed. "Touche. We've established that I can tell jack about you from my perceptions, but that doesn't answer my question. You're friendly, you are obviously well-read and intelligent, and you aren't hideously disfigured. I'd think you'd have a few friends around here."
"I do have friends, but they aren't around here. I came to college to get away from everybody, to try to find myself. That sounds hokey, but that was my thinking when I got out of high school."
"And what did you find out about yourself?"
"That I'm inordinately different than most other people."
"Most people are. Otherwise, the world would be really boring."
"At a more fundamental level," I elaborated. I don't adhere well to normal social conventions. I can put up a good front that makes people believe I'm an average guy, but that takes effort."
Joanna leaned back in her chair, finished with her meal. "And you're doing that right now? Are you just feeding me a bunch of lines to amuse yourself at my expense?"
"Obviously not, since I'm explaining what I normally do. Most people take my aloofness as a sign that I want to be left alone. Others who attempt to get to know me usually find me distant and obscure, not to mention boring as hell."
"I don't, just to let you know. Doesn't the social isolation get to you?"
"Not really," I answered.
"But don't you ever want companionship, people who you can talk to to? At the very least, someone to vent to?"
"I've got my outlets. My studies keep me occupied. I write a lot, and I see my old friends when I go back home."
"I dunno," she sighed, running a hand through her cropped, blond hair. "It just seems so... lonely."
"Maybe so. But I usually find that I don't have enough time to get everything I want done."
"And what could you be doing that would take up that much time?"
She sure was asking a bunch of questions for someone who had just met me. Maybe Joanna was smarter than she let on. I couldn't tell if she had been putting on an act like I usually did, but my interest was definitely peaked. And now she wanted to know what I was doing in my spare time, and that was something I wasn't sure that I wanted to divulge. After all, she sounded interested in me, and she seemed interesting herself for that reason. I didn't want to scare her off.
"I don't know that you'd understand," I said.
"Try me," she replied, frowning. "I'm not some dumb buffoon that can't understand complex ideas."
"I didn't mean to imply that. It's just that it's kind of personal, and I have a hard time explaining it even to myself, much less somebody else."
"Well, while you make up your mind about telling me, I have a confession to make. I lied when I said that this was the first time I had seen you. Truth is, I've actually been spying on you for awhile."
That got my attention. "Spying?" I asked.
"That's a really bad choice of words on my part," Joanna explained, "but that's essentially what I've been doing for the past week."
"And why, pray tell, would you do a thing like that?"
Joanna looked at her watch. "Shit. I've got a class in five minutes. Damn night classes. You have to do anything else today?"
"No, I don't. Why were you spying on me?"
"There's something you need to see first," she said, standing up. "Meet me in the west parking lot at 7:30. We'll go to my apartment."
"Wait. What do I need to see? What is it?"
"7:30," she repeated. "I'll explain everything."
I watched Joanna put up her tray and walk out of the cafeteria. What the hell was going on? She definitely had captured my interest now, but I felt wary to go along with her.
After I put up my tray, I went back to my dorm room to get a jacket.
I came to in a gold room with no door. An intense light shined down from the ceiling, making me sweat. I took off my shirt and dried off my damp face with it. The walls were smooth and shiny, and I couldn't tell how I had been put in here. I pounded on the walls, trying to see if I could find a hidden exit, but they were all solid.
The temperature in the room was rising. I looked up once to see what was producing the light, but I couldn't see without going blind. After a while, I took off my pants to try to keep cool. I sat down in a corner, wearing only my boxers and shoes, and fanned myself with my hands. It didn't help much, and I passed out from the heat.
When I regained my senses, the room was cold. I put my clothes back on and tried to figure out how long I had been out. A half hour? An hour? Perhaps days? I couldn't tell.
I noticed a black marker lying in the middle of the room and picked it up. Uncapping it, I hesitated for a second and then began to write on the walls uncontrollably. finishing, I looked at what I had written. The handwriting was mine, but the words were not.
IMMORTALITY IS GOD, AND YOU ARE NOT GOD. YOU
ARE EXISTING IN A TRANSITORY STATE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL. YOUR REALITY IS
OUR PLAYGROUND, AND YOU ARE OUR PUPPET. WE CONTROL YOU AND THE WORLD IN WHICH
YOU THINK YOU LIVE IN. PERCEIVE NOTHING, FOR EVERYTHING YOU SEE IS A LIE AND
IS ALWAYS CHANGING. WELCOME TO YOUR MIND'S EYE -- WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT WE WANT
YOU TO SEE. ESCAPE IS IMPOSSIBLE, BECAUSE NO ONE CAN ESCAPE THE CHAOS OF
The passage was repeated on all of the walls. I glanced down and saw a drawn outline of a man in a spread eagle position. The marker dropped out of my hand, landing on the floor and making a dot in the middle of the outline's chest. The dot grew into a black circle, and I screamed as I was sucked into the hole, into nothingness.
I spotted Joanna sitting on the hood of an old Pontiac, and she waved. I walked over to her car.
"I was afraid you might be weirded out and now show up," she confessed. "I'm glad you decided to come. You have to realize that this is pretty strange for me, too. It took me a long time to decide if I was even gonna approach you."
I placed my hand on the hood of the car. "I still want to know why you've been watching me."
"You'll have to wait until we get to my apartment," she said, hopping off of the hood.
We got into the car, and Joanna started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot. She turned on the radio and popped in a tape of some noise collage band. We sat without speaking for a while as she navigated through the light evening traffic. The music washed over me with loud guitars, pounding drums, and voices that sounded like something from a Sufi dervish rite.
"Could you turn that down a bit?" I requested.
She apologized and turned the volume knob to the left.
"Thanks. What is that?"
"I'm not sure, really. I taped it off of the college radio station a few weeks back. It's good driving music. So, you never told me what keeps you occupied in your spare time."
I shrugged. "I think I'd rather wait until I see what you've got for me at your apartment. You show me yours, I'll show you mine."
"Fair enough," she laughed. "I can't blame you for being cautious. I'd do the same in your shoes."
After about five more minutes of driving, we pulled into the Villa Gardens apartment complex. She parked in front of one of the back units. We exited the vehicle and climbed the stairs to her door. Joanna pulled out her keys and tried to unlock the door.
"Shit," she cursed, smiling at me and switching keys. "I always get my parent's house key confused with mine."
We went inside, and Joanna told me to make myself at home. She asked if I wanted anything to drink, and I told her that water would be fine. I sat on the couch, and Joanna brought over my glass of water. She disappeared into the bedroom for a minute and reemerged with a small stack of photos, which she handed to me.
The photographs were all of me in various places around campus. Me reading a book under a tree. Me eating in the cafeteria. Me sitting in a classroom attending a lecture. Me walking in the parking lot. Me checking my mail in the student union building. Me watching television in the student lounge. Me sleeping in my bed in my dorm room.
"How the fuck did you take these?" I asked, feeling violated. "How did you get into my dorm room?"
"I didn't take those pictures," she answered.
"Well, who did?"
"I don't know. Honestly. They were mailed to me early last week."
"No return address?"
"No return address."
"Did you look at the postmark?"
"No. Damn, I should have. And I think that I accidentally threw away the envelope when I was cleaning for the exterminator."
"That's just great, Joanna. Someone's been taking pictures of me, and I have no way of even knowing where they came from."
"Paul, don't get pissy. I'm as much in the dark as you are. I want to know why someone sent those pictures to me. Besides, there's still one more picture."
Joanna produced the last photograph from behind her back and gave it to me. The photo showed me driving in my car, and it looked like the picture was taken by someone sitting in the back seat. In the passenger seat sat a grey-haired man with a long, white beard, staring at me driving. He had a wild grin on his face.
"Who's that man, Paul?" Joanna asked.
"I have no idea."
"What do you mean? He's in your car."
I looked up at Joanna. "I've never seen him before in my life."
Joanna sat down next to me. "This is too fucking weird."
"No shit," was all I could muster in reply.
I flipped through the photographs again in bewilderment. I tried to remember seeing someone taking pictures of me on campus, but my mind drew a blank. Some of the shots could have been taken from a hidden vantage point, but the shots of me in bed and especially in the car disturbed me. And who was that old man? He looked like a goddamn Santa Claus in a suit. And how could someone take a photograph inside my own car without me knowing?
"Do you know why someone would be taking pictures of you?" Joanna inquired.
"No," I said. "I think we should call the police."
"Yes, the police. I'm being stalked, from the looks of these. They were in my dorm room, Joanna! I could be in danger."
"What can they do? And why would someone want to hurt you?"
"I don't know, and I don't want to find out. Where's your phone?"
Joanna pointed to the kitchen, and I got up.
"Paul, maybe it's just a prank. Some college kids having a joke at your expense."
I shook my head. "This is too much for just a prank."
The phone rang. Joanna jumped off the couch and answered it. She listened for a minute and set the phone back in its cradle. She turned towards me, her face pale.
"It was them," she said.
"The people who took the photos?"
"Yes, and they're going to deliver a package here tomorrow."
"What type of package?"
"I don't know. But they did say we shouldn't contact the police."
"Fuck that!" I shouted, reaching for the phone. "They could be sending a bomb for all we know. I'm not going to take any chances."
Joanna grabbed my hand. "they could have already killed you if they wanted to. I say we wait."
"Damn right, I'm paranoid. Someone taking pictures of me in places they shouldn't be able to tends to make me that way."
"I understand that, Paul, but if we call the cops, we might not get that package. We may never get to the bottom of this."
"And risk our lives? No way. We might not get answers, but at least we'll be safe."
"Paul, Paul, listen to me. If they could get all of these pictures of you without you knowing it, do you think the police are going to be any help? Look at that picture of you sitting in the grass, Paul. Go on, look at it. There are leaves in the foreground. They were in the tree above you, and you had no inkling that anyone was there? Jesus, this is messed up."
I leaned up against the refrigerator. "Who are we dealing with? Are they fucking invisible?"
"Maybe so, Paul. Maybe so."
"My God!" I exclaimed, throwing my hands up in disgust. "You don't honestly believe in that crap, do you? Nobody can be invisible. That's so absurd. It's impossible."
"Do you have any better ideas?"
"Then just shut up. I'm getting tired of you going off on me all the time. This whole ordeal is already stressful enough without you dumping on me."
"I'm sorry. It's just that--"
"I know, Paul. I know. You need to relax a little, that's all. Nothing's going to happen until tomorrow, so all we can do is wait."
I went back into the living room and sat back down on the couch. Joanna came over and joined me.
"What now?" I asked.
"We wait, I guess," she replied. "I can make some margaritas."
"I think something stronger is in order."
"The only thing I've got is some cheap tequila."
"Works for me. If you don't mind, I think I'd like to camp out on your couch tonight. I can't fathom getting anything done at school after all this."
"Me either. I'll get that bottle."
The sky was a bright pink, and I was standing on an endless black ocean. The substance under my feet wasn't water -- it had the consistency of tar. I started walking, and the tar stuck to my bare feet as I treaded along. I must have been walking for an hour when I saw a table in the distance. I headed for it, growing more tired with every step.
Two wicker chairs sat on either side of the table. I sat down in one of them and waited. A finger tapped my shoulder, and I spun around. Behind me stood a small, blond-haired girl clothed in a flowery summer dress.
"Hello there," she greeted, smiling. She was missing two front teeth.
"Who are you?" I asked. "Where am I?"
The small girl ignored my questions and walked over to the other wicker chair. She had to climb into it due to her small stature.
"Let's have a tea party," she announced after she had positioned herself. She clapped her hands twice, and a man in a butler's outfit appeared with a tray. The butler put two tiny cups on the table and filled them with tea.
"You may go," she said to the butler, who walked off.
"Who are you?" I asked again.
"Drink your tea, Paul. You know who I am."
I looked at her for a moment. The resemblance was there, but it couldn't be her.
"Joanna?" I stammered "Is it you?"
I sipped at the tea. It was sweet, flavored with honey.
"But you're dead," I said. "And you weren't a child. This has to be a dream."
Joanna smiled again. "I've always been alive, Paul. It's you who are dead."
"But I'm here, talking to you right now. What have they done to us?"
"They haven't done a thing to us. You're doing this to yourself. You were so close, Paul. Oh, were you close. You almost had the answer, but you couldn't believe."
"What is this place, Joanna? Where are we? Why are you still alive? I watched you die. This can't be real."
"This isn't real, Paul? What is it, then? A dream? Then wake up. Wake yourself up if you are asleep."
I bit into my arm, enough to draw blood. I was still here. I ran a finger over the bitemark and licked the blood off my fingers.
"Still think this is a dream, Paul? Is that blood a delusion? Was the pain you felt a product of your imagination?"
I stood up. "What did you mean when you said, 'It never ends.'"
"Exactly that. You're caught in your own mind. You have to find a way out, or you'll keep going on and on."
"How do I do it, Joanna? Help me.
The small girl drank some tea and stared at me. The tar underneath me started to move, and I began to sink.
"Goddammit, help me!" I shouted. "I'm sinking.
"It never ends, Paul. It never ends."
I fell forward and hugged the chair to stop my descent, but the chair started going down with me. The Joanna-girl didn't move.
"You aren't Joanna," I accused. "The real Joanna would save me."
"God helps those who help themselves," she said.
I was waist deep in the sludge. "And who is God? Who is he?"
The girl got off of the chair and walked away. I could do nothing but watch as I was pulled under.
I woke up with a slight headache, and it took me a couple of seconds to realize that I wasn't on the couch but in a bed. I rubbed my eyes and turned my head to the left. Joanna was lying there, looking at me.
"Good morning, Paul," she said, grinning.
"Did we?" I hesitatingly asked.
She nodded. "And it was pretty good, too. I hate to say this, but you needed to get laid. You were way too tense."
I rolled over on my side. "I don't remember a thing."
"I'm not surprised, considering how much you had to drink. I was glad you didn't puke, though. And don't worry -- we used protection."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen."
"Don't be. Besides, I was kinda hoping we'd get together sometime. I figured it would be after this whole mess would be over, but sooner is just fine with me. I hope you're not upset."
I reached over and stroked her cheek. "No, no. I just wished I could remember."
"You were great," she said, leaning forward and kissing me on the cheek. "I'm gonna take a shower. Would you mind getting the paper?"
Joanna slid out of bed and went into the bathroom. I heard her start the water, and I put a hand on my forehead and grimaced. I had never done anything this reckless. One night stands were never my thing, and I certainly didn't need any more complications right now.
After putting on my jeans, I went out onto the porch. I picked up the paper and was about to go inside when a man came up the stairs. He was balding and wore a brown suit.
"Are you Paul McClane?" he asked.
"Yeah," I affirmed. "Who are you?"
He thrust a small box toward me. "Take this and go inside."
"Not until you tell me who you are," I retorted.
"Take this and go inside," he repeated, his eyes going narrow.
I scowled at him for a second and then took the box. I opened the front door and walked in, shutting it behind me. I turned around and glanced into the peephole, but the man was already gone.
The box fit in both of my hands, and it looked too small to contain explosives, but I had my doubts. Joanna came out of the bedroom in a bathrobe, toweling her hair.
"The package just arrived," I said, holding up the box. "Some guy gave it to me when I went out for the paper."
"Did you recognize him?" Joanna asked.
"No, and I would have followed him, but he was very adamant about me coming back inside."
"Well, what are you waiting for? Open it."
"You open it. You're the one who wanted to wait for it and not call the cops."
Joanna frowned as she took the box from me. she undid the top of to box, reached in, and pulled out a small, golden ball. It was shiny and smooth all over, except for some strange characters on one part.
"What does that say?" I asked.
"I don't know. I only speak German, and those aren't even letters I recognize."
"Great. A small ball with unreadable writing on it. That's a great help."
Her eyes lit up. "Lemme call this guy I dated a while back. He might be able to decipher this."
"Does he have a degree in reading codes on small, golden globes?"
"You're not being helpful," Joanna reprimanded. "Besides, we can trust him. Jonathan is an interesting guy. Very smart, too. He's into magick."
"And how's that going to help? Does he pull a rosetta stone out of his tophat for his big finale?"
"Christ, Paul, stop being such a smartass. Magick as in the occult. His studies have exposed him to a wide variety of languages and alphabets. He may not be able to read what's on the ball, but he can probably tell us what language it is. That would be a start. If you've got a better idea, I'd like to hear it."
"Call him," I said, unable to think of anything else. It seemed like Joanna was a step ahead of me all of the time. I guess that was a good thing since I hadn't really been level-headed, and I didn't want to come off as some bumbling idiot, but I never thought I'd have to deal with a crisis like this. I watched Joanna talk to Jonathan on the phone. She kept the small talk to a minimum, said we needed his help in translating something, and she promised him a free meal in return.
"It would probably be best," Joanna explained, "if you didn't mention anything about last night to Jonathan. He thinks that I'm still in love with him and that when I come to my senses, we'll get back together."
"No problem. My lips are sealed."
"Don't get me wrong. Jonathan's a great guy. It's just his esoteric studies came before me, and work can't come before the relationship in my book."
"I still don't see how some guy who worships Satan is--"
"Hold on, Paul," she interrupted. "Jonathan is no Satanist. The occult does not equal devil worship. You really need to open your mind, especially now. You've been holed up in your dorm room way too long. Anyway, he should be over in a few minutes."
We sat around waiting for Jonathan to arrive. I tried going over the past week again in my mind, trying to remember anything out of the ordinary. That week had been just as mundane as all of the rest. Until Joanna showed up, that is. Surveillance photographs, mysterious men in suits, strange gold balls -- this whole thing was turning into some bad Hollywood B-movie, and I began to feel like an underpaid, overworked actor who was being given the script a line at a time.
The front door opened, and a man I presumed was Jonathan walked in, carrying a stack of books. "Hello, Joanna," he said. "Long time, huh?"
"Didn't your mother teach you to knock?" Joanna asked. "You scared the hell outta me."
"Still Miss Manners, I see."
Joanna glanced over at me and frowned. I could tell that it was more than Jonathan's study habits that had led to their breakup.
"Hi, I'm Paul," I said, extending my hand. Jonathan set his books on the table and shook it. "Joanna tells me you might be able to read what's written on this ball."
He walked over to the kitchen table and picked the sphere up. "This feels like real gold," Jonathan remarked. "Where'd you get this? It must have cost a fortune."
"It was delivered this morning," Joanna replied.
"Well, it's definitely Hebrew."
"Hebrew?" I asked.
"Yeah, Hebrew. What the people in Israel speak. Let's see here. Aleph-Kheth-Daleth, Aleph-Heh-Beth-Heh." He pronounced the names of the letters without trouble.
"And what does that say?"
Jonathan laughed. "Oh, man, this is too easy. Whoever did this could have been a bit more creative. I mean, even a neophyte could decipher this puzzle. This example is always used in magick books."
"I'm still confused, Jonathan," Joanna said. "What does it mean?"
"I'll explain," he said, sitting down in a chair. "This is just a simple case of numerology. The Hebrews didn't have a number system like we do. Instead, each of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical equivalent. The Kaballists, Jewish mystics, believed that by adding up the numerical values of the letters in a word and comparing it to other words with the same value, a connection could be established between the words and their meanings to give the mystic a new insight. The process is called 'gematria.'"
I, for one, was not impressed. "Sounds like a bunch of hocus pocus to me. Adding letters together could get you anything. I could do the same thing with English and say that the words 'Elvis' and 'lives' have some mystical connection because they have the same letters and use that to say that Elvis is still alive. It'll work for anything!"
"You're right," he agreed. "Watch this."
Jonathan opened a notebook and wrote the following:
YODA = Yod-Ayin-Daleth-Aleph = 10 + 70 + 4 + 1 = 85 85 = Boaz, in reference to Hod (splendor) 8 + 5 = 13 = Aleph-Gimel-Daleth-Heh = a small bundle = Aleph-Kheth-Daleth = one, unity 1 + 3 = 4 = Aleph-Beth-Aleph = father
"And what does all of that stuff mean?" I asked.
"Well, it proves that George Lucas is a Jewish mystic. In addition to being a master of the Force, Yoda's name also tells us that he is old, small, and lives alone."
"What a bunch of bullshit," I said. "George Lucas is a filmmaker, not some occult guru. You're just fucking around with words and numbers that can prove anything. This gematria stuff is a crock."
Jonathan laughed, turning towards Joanna. "I see your friend doesn't have a sense of humor."
"He's a bit stressed out, Jonathan," she answered. "Give him a break."
"Sorry, Paul. You're right. It can be used for anything. That's the beauty of the whole system, and I find the Yoda example devishly funny, but that must just be my goofy self. Anyway, the whole point of gematria is to find connections between words that are meaningful to the person who is seeking enlightenment. Hebrew is a magickal language, and the process of gematria can open up whole new areas of thought that are only glossed over in a casual reading of texts. The words on your little ball can be understood by using the same technique."
Jonathan drew a line across the paper and below it wrote:
Aleph-Kheth-Daleth = one, unity = 4 + 8 + 1 = 13 Aleph-Heh-Beth-Heh = love = 5 + 2 + 5 + 1 = 13 ---- Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh = ineffable name of God = 5 + 6 + 5 + 10 = 26
He went on. "You see, you've got echod which means 'one' and aheva which is 'love.' God is one, so God is love. Simple, huh?"
"Wait," Joanna said. "I thought God was a trinity. Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and all that jazz."
"That's the Christian God. We're talking about the Israelites and the Torah. The Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4, states that, 'The LORD our God, the LORD is one.' Jesus wasn't even a gleam in God's eye when that was written."
"And this," I said, pointing to the last line Jonathan had written. "What does 'the ineffable name of God' mean? I don't think the people who sent us this ball just wanted to tell us that God loves us."
"Those four letters, Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh, are known as the Tetragrammaton. The anthropomorphic image of the letters depicts a map of the universe and of the self called the Tree of Life. As above, so below. The correct pronunciation is not known, which is probably a good thing, since if it is said correctly, the world will basically come to an end. Or so one story goes, anyway. Usually it is translated as 'Jehovah' or 'Yahweh.' Devout Jews, when reading the Torah -- in Hebrew, naturally -- come across the Tetragrammaton, either pause in reverence or substitute the Hebrew word which means 'lord' or 'master.'"
"And what word is that?" Joanna questioned.
"Adonai," Jonanthan stated.
It seemed like we all turned in slow motion to look at the golden ball. It rose up into the air and began spinning on an invisible axis. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Jonathan pushing his chair away from the table while his face registered a look of amazement. The ball spun faster, turning a bright shade of red. I heard Joanna yell to hit the deck, and I dropped down on all fours. The ball was glowing white now, and as I put my head on the ground, it silently exploded. I felt extreme heat as one of the shards flew directly over me, where I had been standing. No bombs, my ass!
I stood up after a couple of seconds and looked behind me. A piece of the ball lay next to the wall. I went over and dumbly grabbed it. The metal was still hot and seared my flesh. I screamed in pain and dropped the piece. Turning my hand over, I noticed that something almost like an "l" was burned into my flesh.
Joanna appeared from the kitchen with a pair of tongs and gathered up the pieces. There were four of them of equal size, looking like pie slices with rounded points. On each was a letter of the Tetragrammaton. there was also a tiny silver ball sitting on the table that must have been inside the golden ball.
I held up my hand to Jonathan. "What is this?"
"It's the letter Vau, Paul. It means, 'a nail.' You've been symbolically crucified."
"Crucified?" I asked. "To what?"
Jonathan grabbed the tongs and held up the silver ball. "You see what's written on this? Daleth-Ayin-Tau. Da'ath. The abyss."
"I still don't understand."
"You don't want to even know. What the fuck are you two involved in?"
Joanna held up her hands in frustration. "We don't know what's going on. You seem to know more about this shit than we do. What's this abyss business about?"
Jonathan started for the door. "I'm outta here. Why'd you involve me in this, Joanna? You should have warned me."
"I'm sorry, Jonathan. I didn't know anything like this would happen."
"What is the abyss?" I asked him.
"On the Tree of Life, the Kaballistic map of the universe, before you can reach Kether -- which signifies existence, enlightenment, heaven, whatever -- you must pass through Da'ath, the abyss. Before you can cross, you must face the demon Choronzon, and he is one nasty motherfucker. And you've been marked to fail already."
"Are you telling me I have to fight some damned creature from Hell?"
Jonathan grabbed my shoulders. "Paul, Choronzon is you."
"Sorry, but I'm not sticking around. Magick is supposed to be an allegory, a way of reorientating yourself. It's all self-psychology when you get down to it. This is just too fucked for me."
"You can't leave!" Joanna yelled. "You've got to help us. You're experienced in the occult. You know what this means."
"No way. You can't deal with this. It's hopeless, cause this is real. Don't you get it? Has it hit you yet? You're dealing with forces no one has ever seen before. You can't win against this. I'm leaving."
Jonathan walked out of the apartment.
"Aren't you going to stop him?" I asked Joanna.
"No," she replied. "We don't need to endanger him anymore. It's just you and me."
"So what comes next?"
Joanna shut the front door and sighed. "I don't even want to know."
The key that I had found in my pocket fit perfectly in the lock. I turned the key and opened the massive door. I had stumbled upon the church after wandering around in the woods for hours. I didn't know how I had gotten there, but at this point, I really didn't care. I just wanted this nightmare to end.
Inside the church, the air smelled old and stale. Enough sunlight filtered through the boarded-up windows to be able to see. Some of the wooden pews were turned on their sides. Others were broken in two from years of decay. I made my way up to the altar at the front of the church. On the altar was an old bible, opened to Deuteronomy six. Parts of the page were missing, but I read what I could.
4. Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5. And you will love the LORD your God with all of your heart and all of your soul and all of your might. 6. And these words that I command you will be on your heart today. [. . .] 13. You will fear the LORD your God, serve him, and swear on his name. 14. You will not follow other gods [. . .] 15. For the LORD your God is a jealous god [. . .] lest the anger of the LORD your God burns in you and he will wipe you off of the face of the earth.
I closed the bible and stepped away. Was this God's way of telling me that was pissed at me? did he really exist, and was he behind all of my troubles? True, I hadn't ever believed in God, but I didn't think I had lived that bad of a life.
A man dressed in a suit came out of one of the back doors. As he approached me, I recognized him as the man who had given me the package at Joanna's apartment.
"You!" I exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"I am the minister of this church," he said. "I pastored this church for fifteen years before everyone disappeared."
"Disappeared? Where are we?"
"You are in the house of God."
"No. Where are we? Like, are we near a town or something?"
"There are no towns around here, Paul. We are isolated."
"Doesn't look like you've got much of a church."
He smiled. "It doesn't look like you've got much of a life."
"How did I get here?"
"Your questions will all be answered in time. Do you believe in God, Paul?"
"Are you sure? Even after all that you've been through?"
"Are you saying God is behind all of this? If that's the case, he sure is one mean bastard."
"God can be whatever he wants, Paul. You can, too."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"A sage once wrote, 'There is no god but man.'"
"But that's blasphemy," I blurted out.
"How can the truth be blasphemy?"
"So are you saying that I'm God?"
The minister walked over to the altar and opened up the bible. "Did you not read the Word of God? You still haven't made the connection, have you?"
"If what you say is true, then who am I? What am I?"
"Only you can discover that for yourself."
"But they already said I'm not a god."
"And you believed them? Pity. You showed such promise.
"Promise? What promise?" I shouted. "I don't know what's real and what's not anymore. My reality doesn't exist anymore. I can't even be sure if you're really here. I don't know if I'm even here."
He moved towards the back of the church. "Oh, you are certainly here, alright. What that means, and how real it is for you is a decision that you have to make. Read the text again, Paul. You are here for a reason."
I paused. "Is this the abyss?"
"No, but the time is at hand. Read, Paul, and understand."
With that, he left the church. I looked at the page again, trying to figure out what it meant. If I was God, then the passage referred to me. Was it a warning? And how close was the abyss? Was God going to destroy me?
I got down on my knees and prayed, and I found myself talking to myself.
"What should I do?" I asked.
"Persevere," I replied. "The end is near."
"But it never ends," I said.
"And so it begins."
"Is the end the beginning?"
"The beginning is the end."
"How do I stop it?"
"I am God."
"You are God?"
"Now do you understand?"
I sank slowly through the floorboards.
After trying to figure out what to do, Joanna and I decided that we needed Jonathan's assistance after all. His background in these matters was the only quick source we could think to draw on without having to take a crash course in occultism. And based on Jonathan's earlier reaction, anyone we asked for help would think that we were loony as hell. Even I was beginning to doubt my sanity.
It took a prolonged telephone conversation between him and Joanna before he finally succumbed and agreed to meet us. Joanna had obviously pulled some sensitive trumps out of her pocket since she sent me out of the room twice during their talk. He was supposed to meet us at the Denny's off of the highway near the outskirts of town at one a.m. Joanna made sure no one followed us there, but I had a feeling that they were with us every step of the way.
We arrived thirty minutes before the scheduled time and ordered coffee. The caffeine wouldn't do anything to calm my nerves, but at least it would keep me awake. My adrenaline couldn't keep my going forever.
"What if he doesn't show?" I asked.
"He'll show," she said. "He owes me. He'll probably never speak to me again after this, but he will definitely be here."
"What did you say to him?"
"That's none of your business. It was bad enough saying once, and I'm not going to repeat it. You never did tell me what was occupying so much of your time at school. I'll bet it has something to do with all of this."
"Lucid dreaming," I stated. "I was trying to control my dreams."
"Your dreams? Why would you want to do that?"
"Don't tell me you've never wanted to control your dreams, to be awake while asleep. It'd be like your own playground."
"I don't dream," Joanna said matter-of-factly.
"Everyone dreams. You just don't remember them."
"I still don't see how playing headgames with yourself could cause all of this. I mean, that's just fantasy, even if it is possible."
"Oh, it is definitely possible. They've been doing research on lucid dreaming for a long time at Stanford. As you said earlier today, you should keep an open mind about things you don't understand."
Joanna motioned to the waitress for a refill. "And did it work for you?"
"Not at first. The tricky part is realizing that you are dreaming. That was one reason I kept myself so isolated at school. When something out of the ordinary happened, I was pretty sure I was dreaming. Anything that occurred outside of my routine I could see as a dreamsign, something signifying that I was asleep. During the early stages, I had trouble staying awake in the dream because it was so surprising and disorientating to realize that I was asleep and conscious at the same time. With practice, though, I got used to it."
"So it worked?" she asked, pushing her half-empty mug aside.
"Yeah. It was amazing, like being in control of everything. I could do whatever I wanted in my head."
"And these people at Stanford are getting grant money so people can play God in their minds? What a waste."
"No, it's not only that. There are practical applications. You know about Jung and his theory of universal archetypes?"
"Well, the researchers are doing a kind of psychotherapy in the dreamstate. Say a person has a really bad fear of heights, and they keep having dreams where they are falling. If you're lucid, you can fly instead of fall, and they've found that this can not only stop the nightmares but overcome the fear itself. The dreamstate is your mind on a platter, and as dreams can tell you things about yourself, so can you actively change the dreams to alter your waking self."
"But what if you fuck around with your head too much? Couldn't there be adverse side effects?"
"All of the research so far has shown that you can't harm yourself."
"What if you're different? Do you have normal dreams?"
"Not anymore," I said. "I don't think that's supposed to happen, but it did."
"Jesus. If you're never asleep, aren't you tired?"
"Well, if you're always awake when you are asleep, how can you be sure when you're dreaming? What if this is a dream?"
I shook my head. "Really, Joanna, if I were dreaming, I'd know. The dream reality isn't as solid as the real world. In dreams there are locale shifts, time displacements, and even things that go bump in the night. I've done it too much already to be able to be fooled. Anyway, if this were a dream, I could make you dance around on the table and take your clothes off."
"Try it," she challenged.
"Already did," I said, laughing. "It didn't work."
"Okay. So we've established that you're awake. Then how do you explain what happened this afternoon?"
"I don't know. Maybe magick does exist. Maybe we are dealing with evil occult forces." I held up my marked hand. "After this, I'm willing to believe just about anything. This doesn't happen everyday. This has too much implicit symbolism to be an accident. This scares the shit out of me."
Joanna took my hand in hers. "Jonathan will be able to help us. He has to."
"I sure hope so."
We had to wait about six minutes before Jonathan showed up. He looked around the crowded restaurant anxiously before spotting us and coming over. He slid into the booth, set his backpack down, called the waitress over and ordered some iced tea. I noticed that Jonathan had a crucifix around his neck, and he saw me staring.
"Wondering why I'm wearing a cross?" he asked.
"I thought you were into magick, not Christianity," I replied.
"Magick and the occult draw from a variety of traditions and sources, Paul. I was raised Lutheran, and Christian imagery resonates with me a great deal, even though I don't adhere to many of the underlying principles anymore. The more I can identify with the symbol, the stronger its protection will be. But I'm not here to give you a theory lesson. I want the story from the beginning. I'll give any advice I can, and then I'm getting away from you two for a long time."
"How sweet of you," Joanna jibed.
"Cut the crap, Jo," he said curtly. "You know why I'm here. Let's just get on with it. How'd this all start?"
Joanna gave him the stack of pictures, and as Jonathan looked at them, she recapped how we met. He asked me if I knew the old man in the car.
"No," I answered. "Doesn't he look like Santa Claus?"
"That he does," agreed Jonathan, "but I don't think we're dealing with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. I'd hedge my bets that he's the Hermit."
"Shouldn't he be off in a cave somewhere instead of in my fucking car?"
"Heh, no. The Hermit is the ninth tarot trump. He represents divine illumination from within."
"You can't just go applying an occult map on everything you see. That's ludicrous!"
"Do you have any better ideas? We're obviously dealing with some sort of occult forces, so it's only natural to view everything in that light. Remember when I mentioned the Tree of Life earlier? Like I said, it's both a metaphor for the self and the universe. It is comprised of ten sephiroth, or spheres, which were created by Papa Tetragrammaton. The--"
"Papa who?" Joanna asked.
"The Tetragrammaton is the ineffable name of God. Sorry. It's my pet name for God. If I get too obscure, stop me. Anyway, the Tree of Life looks like this."
Jonathan pulled out a pen and drew on a napkin:
(0) / | \ / | \ (2)--+--(1) 0. Kether = crown | `\|/' | 1. Chokmah = wisdom | X | 2. Binah = understanding | ./|\. | 3. Hesed = mercy (4)--+--(3) 4. Geburah = power | `\|/' | 5. Tipherath = beauty | (5) | 6. Netzach = victory | ./|\. | 7. Hod = splendor (7)--+--(6) 8. Yesod = foundation \ \ | / / 9. Malkuth = kingdom \ \|/ / \(8)/ \|/ (9)
"In the simplest sense, the mystic starts off in Malkuth," Jonathan explained. "The object is to get to Kether, or in other words, unite with God. The process is more complex than that, but for our limited time, it'll have to suffice. You can divide the Tree of Life into three pillars, but taking the left or right pillar is an unbalanced method. The best way is straight up the middle pillar. Of course, that means you have to cross the abyss."
"I don't see, um, what was it called -- Da'ath -- on your chart," I observed.
"Da'ath is located on the path from Tipherath to Kether. It is the final step before illumination. You can lay out the twenty-two tarot trumps on the different paths between the sephiroth. The Hermit card is on the path between Tipherath and Hesed. That path, however, ultimately requires the path of the Fool, the path between Chokmah and Binah."
"That sounds good to me. I'll take being a fool over jumping in the abyss anyday."
"But it circumvents having to face yourself. Without dealing with Choronzon, it is only a false experience. The Priestess trump is the path over the abyss, and it requires you to be pure."
"Tell him about your, uh, experiments, Paul," Joanna piped in. "He needs to know about that, too."
I explained what I had been doing in the realm of lucid dreaming to Jonathan. He saw with interest as I recalled my experiences. After I was finished, he leaned back in the booth, closed his eyes, and frowned.
"What?" Joanna asked impatiently.
Jonathan reopened his eyes. "I toyed around with lucid dreaming in high school a bit but never got anywhere it. I've never heard of anybody with a success rate like yours, Paul. I bet a bunch of scientists would like to get their hands on you and put you through a zillion tests. What is happening to you is so unusual that I really don't know where to start. My best guess, as unscientific as it is, is that somehow you've bridged the gap between the dreamtime and your waking reality. You've managed to project your own creations into the outside world. Point being, your brain filter is fucked up."
"His what?" Joanna asked.
"Preposterous!" I exclaimed.
"Not preposterous," Jonathan contradicted, "just highly unlikely. The Aborigines in Australia believe that the dreamstate is another world, as real as our own. The idea has been around for ages. I've just never heard of anything like this ever happening, though."
"So you're saying this is all in my head?" I asked.
"In a way, yes, but your ideas are manifesting themselves in the real world, whatever that really is. The world is how you perceive it, Paul, except in this case, other people are seeing things the way you do, too. Don't ask me to explain how, cause I don't know. This is all conjecture, and maybe all of this stuff is happening independently, but I think you're directly linked to the phenomena."
"But Paul has no experience in any of the occult," Joanna stated. "If he's causing this, why doesn't it take a form that he is familiar with? I mean, he's an English major. Shouldn't we be receiving cryptic messages written in heroic couplets from the ghost of Alexander Pope?"
"I don't know. Logically, I would agree, but I'm afraid logic isn't going to be of much help here."
"The question that I want answered is how to stop it from continuing," I said.
"We don't even know what 'it' really is," Joanna said. "This is too confusing."
"I think the pictures are important here," Jonathan went on. "They were the first occurrence in this string of events, and I'd say that because they were mailed, someone else has a hand in this. I'm not ready to accept that your mind can influence the postal service, Paul. I'd say that if you can find that old man in the picture, a lot of your questions would be answered."
"And where is he, then?" Joanna inquired. "Is he just gonna show up in this restaurant?"
Jonathan stood up. "My guess is he'll make himself available when he wants to. I'm sorry I can't help anymore, but I've got a bad feeling about this. Please don't call me again. I hope you two are careful."
"Wait a sec," I said, grabbing Jonathan's shoulder. "How do I cross the abyss? How do I make myself pure? Is that the way?"
The window we were sitting across from shattered, and Jonathan flew across the aisle onto the next table. Joanna screamed, and I pulled her down beneath the table. The people around us were panicking and running for cover. After a few seconds, I popped my head up and looked outside. No one was there. Joanna crawled out of the booth and went over to Jonathan. She lifted up his bloodied shirt to reveal a gaping hole in his chest spitting out blood.
"The Shin, Paul," Jonathan managed to say, choking on blood. "Become the flame that... transforms the tetra... the tetragrammaton."
His eyes rolled back into his head, and Jonathan stopped breathing.l I grabbed Jonathan's heavy backpack and pulled Joanna away.
"C'mon. We've got to get outta here!" I yelled.
"They killed him," Joanna kept saying as we ran out of the diner.
The playground was empty except for a boy and a girl playing hopscotch on the blacktop. When they saw me, they giggled and ran off. I walked over to where they had been, and on the pavement was a Tree of Life drawn in chalk.
"Kaballah hopscotch," a voice said from behind me. I spun around, and Bill Clinton was swinging on a swing.
"Wacky kids, always coming up with strange games," he commented. Clinton was swinging pretty high, and with a soft grunt he flung himself off of the swing, landing on his feet. "A perfect ten, I'd say. I should've been a gymnast."
"Now I know I'm hallucinating," I said. "So, tell me, Mr. President. What do you know about all of this?"
"I feel your pain, Paul," he said. "Really, I do. Tell me, what have you learned so far?"
"That I'm going mad," I replied, going over to him and grabbing both lapels of his jacket. "Now, why don't you tell ME what you know before I kick your ass."
The president shook his head violently, and his face morphed into that of George Bush. "Not gonna do it," he said. "You already know what you need to. You just don't realize it yet."
"Goddammit, tell me what I know then!" I screamed, gripping his jacket harder.
He shook his head again, taking on the appearance of Ronald Reagan. "I've got Alzheimer's, and I seem to have forgotten."
"Why don't you just turn yourself into George Washington so you can't lie to me?"
Reagan pushed me away and ambled over to the hopscotch game. With the agility of an eighteen-year-old, he jumped from one sephiroth to the next up the middle. "Malkuth, Yesod, Tipherath, Kether," he chanted, ending up at the top of the Tree.
He turned to me. "See how easy that was? All of this silly nonsense is just a child's game."
"No, it isn't. This is not a game."
"Of course it is," Reagan said, smiling wryly. "Illumination is a game. Hell, reality is a game, and now you know the rules."
"What are you talking about?"
"Paul, everything that has happened to you is a game. It has rules, and there are players. I will concede that most of the players don't realize that they're playing, but they are in the game nonetheless."
"It isn't a very fun game."
"Not for you, maybe, since you don't understand the rules."
"And I ask again, what are the rules?"
"And I say again, you already know them. Play, Paul. Play the game."
I positioned myself in the first circle.
"Malkuth," I uttered.
"That's a start," Reagan said. "Continue."
I stepped onto the next sephiroth.
"Yesod," I said.
"Next," he ordered.
I jumped forward onto Tipherath and said its name.
"Beautiful, but be careful," Reagan warned. "That next jump is a doozy."
He was right. It was a long distance, and I wasn't exactly too athletic. I took a deep breath and leaped. I was stopped in midair, suspended above the path between Tipherath and Kether.
"Why the surprised look, Paul?" Reagan asked, smirking. "Don't tell me you couldn't see that coming. Yes, I can see it in your eyes now. You did know that would happen. See, you know the rules. I just hope you're ready."
I struggled to break free of the invisible grip to no avail. "I guess I get sucked down again, huh? Just like all of the other times?"
"Very good, Paul. I think you're catching on."
Looking down, I saw another sephiroth form, and I knew the abyss was below. I glanced up at Reagan, who was staring at me intently.
"Let go of your dependency on reality, Paul," he intoned as I was drawn into the earth. "Release yourself or it will never end."
Joanna's car broke down in town. She blamed it on the radiator. I thought it was probably sabotage. We got out and figured we oughta keep moving. The clubs were letting out and people were milling about on the street, quite a few of them drunk. We walked around for an hour, always glancing over our shoulders to see if we were being followed.
"This is futile," Joanna said after a while. "If they're gonna find us, they're gonna find us. Besides, I'm tired. Let's go to a motel."
I couldn't help but agree. We made our way down six blocks to a cheap inn. We went around to the front through an alley, noticing police tape around a charred dumpster. Joanna went inside and got us a room on the second floor.
When we got upstairs, Joanna bolted the door and made sure no one could see through the curtains. I sat down in a chair and dumped the contents of Jonathan's backpack onto the table. There were a few books by a guy named Crowley and a well-worn notebook. I picked up the notebook and paged through it. Jonathan's notes on his readings were too arcane for me to understand, but I let out a gasp when I ran across a page with the heading, "The Formula of the Tetragrammaton."
Joanna noticed my expression. "Have you found something, Paul?"
"Hold on a sec," I replied as I read the page. "It says here that the ineffable name of God can be transformed by inserting the Hebrew letter Shin in the middle, which represents the divine spark. This turns the name into Yeheshua, Yod-Heh-Shin-Vau-Heh. In other words, Jesus."
"Is that what Jonathan was talking about before he died?"
"I guess. But how do I become the flame? How can I become a letter of the Hebrew alphabet?"
"I dunno. Creative visualization? Listen, you said earlier that you could do anything in your dreams. What if you slept and fixed everything in the dreamtime? You talked about people doing it to conquer their fears. What if that applies here?"
"But that's all internal. Dreams are just symbolic, and they can't directly affect the outside world."
Joanna grabbed my scarred hand and squeezed it. "And this isn't symbolic? You said that because of this you were ready to believe anything. What's stopping you, Paul? Why won't you do it?"
"What if it doesn't work? It's just too simple. Easy answers never solve complex problems, and if my brain filter, as Jonathan calls it, is already toast, it might make everything worse."
"You can't stay awake forever."
"I can always try denial."
"If it doesn't work, we'll figure something else out. But if you don't try, we'll never know."
"Joanna, before I do this, I have something I need to tell you. During my lucid dreaming experiments, I always felt that there might be another presence in my head. That's why I started all of this godforsaken business, to find out who or what was in my head. I think that that might be who I'm gonna have to face, and I'm not sure if I'll even be able to find him. I don't even know if I can get to sleep."
"I've got some sleeping pills if that will help," Joanna said, rummaging through her purse.
"What are you doing with those?" I asked.
"Got them from my doctor. I wasn't sleeping well after I got those pictures."
"Oh. Lemme go take a piss, and then I'll give this a shot."
I rose from the chair and headed into the bathroom. I locked the door and stared at myself in the mirror. My reflection looked back at me, wondering if I would succeed. I watched myself watching myself, examining the image to see if the mirror-me was as real as I was, or possibly even more real. I broke the stare and relieved myself in the toilet. As I flushed a toilet, I heard a knock.
"Who's at the door?" I called out, finishing up and buttoning my pants. I rushed out of the bathroom.
"No one," Joanna said, zipping up her purse. "I was hitting the table because I'm frustrated."
"God, you scared me. What you going to do if they come?"
Joanna handed me two pills. "They won't. Sleep, Paul."
I dry-swallowed the pills and climbed into bed. Joanna bent over and kissed me on the forehead.
"I'd say, 'Sweet dreams,' but I doubt they will be."
I shut my eyes and waited for the dreamtime.
The old man from the photograph was shaking me when I woke up. I was lying in bed in my dorm room. I shoved him away and sat up.
"You!" I shouted. "It's you!"
"Yes, it's me, Paul," he chuckled.
"Who are you?"
"I don't really have a name, but you can call me Mr. Happy if you'd like. I've been watching you for a long time, Paul, ever since you've been playing your head games. You were a promising subject, but I'm afraid you aren't going to make the team. Oh, there's still a slim margin that you can slide in, but I'm afraid I'll have to look somewhere else now."
"But I haven't even faced the abyss yet," I growled. "How the fuck can I fail when I haven't been tested yet?"
"Temper, temper, Paul. You're always being tested, something you seem to be incapable of fathoming. All of this occult terminology that boy Jonathan has been feeding you has skewed your perspective. You think that you have to face one obstacle, and then you'll understand everything. The abyss is something you have to deal with all of the time. It's an ongoing process, not a singular event. You could have gleamed a sense of this out of what he was talking about, but you didn't listen carefully enough. You didn't fully understand his models, which made them useless for you.
"Now, you're thinking, 'But if all of this is in my head, how could I come up with things I didn't know about in the first place?' Simple. You did know them, you just didn't realize it. Haven't I been telling you that all along? You haven't been listening, Paul. You are always the Shin, the flame. You are always crucified to Da'ath. You must always persevere. For most people, this occurs on a subconscious level. Their ordeals are normal, but for the mystic, everything takes on a whole new meaning. That's why occult language is useful. It provides a paradigm to map out that which was previously not known."
"But how did my dreams affect reality?" I asked.
"How? Ask yourself, since you're the only one who knows. Tell me, are you awake right now."
"Wrong. You are asleep. Always. You think you're awake all of the time, but it's the other way around."
"Then how do I wake up?"
"By recognizing that you are the Shin, the flame of God."
"So I am God, then?"
Mr. Happy scowled. "How arrogant and simpleminded. How can you even begin to understand God if you cannot understand yourself?"
"Help me, then. Help me understand myself."
"It is hopeless. You are lost. When you wake up, you'll forget everything that has transpired, and you'll go through it all again. I really was pulling for you to overcome, Paul, but you want a fast solution even when you deny that there is one. You are trapped in a horrid cycle that you can't even see, and I doubt you can stop something that you don't know has started."
He walked over to my bookshelf and pulled out Russell's The Problems of Philosophy. "Read this. Read all of these books you have. Read all of the books in the world. It won't make a damn difference until you defeat Choronzon."
"And where is he? How do I get to the abyss?"
"Jonathan was right about one thing. Choronzon is you, Paul, and you face him everyday. It's too late, though. I am truly sorry."
He tossed the book to me and turned to leave.
"At least explain the pictures," I begged.
"You deserve that much, even though you'll forget all of this. Joanna took them. She's really good with Photoshop, ya know."
"To help you see the difference between reality and the dreamtime. She wanted to save your soul."
"My soul? From what?"
"From yourself, Paul. From yourself."
"And the exploding ball?"
"Oh, that didn't really happen. That was a dream."
"But I felt pain. It seared the nail into my hand!"
Mr. Happy punched me in the gut. "You're asleep right now, and how does that feel?"
I grunted in pain.
"That's what I thought. Good night, Paul. Sweet dreams."
Mr. Happy left the room. I put the Russell book on top of my bag by the bed and crawled back under the covers. These dreams were getting too vivid, even after all I had been through. I worried what would happen if he was right and I would forget all of this? I had a lot of questions to ask Joanna, too.
I forced myself to wake up.
I turned my head and saw Joanna sleeping in the chair. I said her name, and she woke up.
"Um, sorry, must have dozed off for a second," she said. "I stayed awake until three--"
"Till three?" I asked. "But I went to sleep around four."
"You've been asleep for over twelve hours. I got so bored that I painted my nails and then scratched half of it off because I was so nervous. Did it work?"
"I didn't dream at all, Joanna. For the first time in a long time, I slept for real."
"But you said that everybody dreams and some people just don't remember."
"I would remember. I think it's finally over."
"I don't know," she said. "Let's go home."
I climbed out of bed, and while I got dressed, Joanna called a taxi. She gathered Jonathan's things and put them in his backpack. The cab arrived shortly, and we rode home without speaking.
I paid the cab driver with the last amount of cash I had and followed Joanna up the steps to the apartment. When we were inside, Joanna began to cry and sat down on the sofa.
"And so it begins," she said, putting her head in her hands. I stared at the chipped purple polish on her nails.
"It's finished," I countered after the silence grew too much to bear.
"No, you're wrong. It always starts up again. It never ends."
"This time, it's over," I muttered without her hearing. At least, I hoped it was.
--SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-- State of unBeing is copyrighted (c) 1997 by Kilgore Trout and Apocalypse Culture Publications. All rights are reserved to cover, format, editorials, and all incidental material. All individual items are copyrighted (c) 1997 by the individual author, unless otherwise stated. This file may be disseminated without restriction for nonprofit purposes so long as it is preserved complete and unmodified. Quotes and ideas not already in the public domain may be freely used so long as due recognition is provided. State of unBeing is available at the following places: CYBERVERSE 512.255.5728 14.4 TEENAGE RiOt 418.833.4213 14.4 NUP: COSMIC_JOKE THAT STUPID PLACE 215.985.0462 14.4 ftp to ftp.io.com /pub/SoB World Wide Web http://www.io.com/~hagbard/sob.html Submissions may also be sent to Kilgore Trout at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. The SoB distribution list may also be joined by sending email to Kilgore Trout. --SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB--