The man who comes back through
the Door in the Wall will never be
quite the same as the man who went out.
The lights of Beverly Hills turned
off, one by one, traffic
turning into driveways, houses locking up for another
boozy night's sleep. A black stretch limousine sat
hunkered in the parking lot, its headlamps off, engine running,
its occupants sealed from view by ten panes of double-black
glass. At 2:15, John Fitzgerald Kennedy smiled and nodded to
the doorman and trotted out of the Beverly Hills Hotel, a pound
or two lighter than when he walked in. Four men bolted out of
the limousine and surrounded the President, ushering him into
the back seat, where he poured himself a brandy from the bar.
"Passed out, she's better than
Jackie," Kennedy grinned
heavily, smoothing his hair as the Hmo sped away from the
hotel. aOne more stop, guys, then you can all catch some sleep.
There's a little party going on at Aldous Huxley's on
"That's not on the agenda, Mr.
"Yeah . .. some of the best things in
life aren't, Floyd,"
Kennedy grinned broadly, his eyes crinkling, sweat drying on
his forehead, the scent of Marilyn Monroe heavy in his pants.
The sounds of conversation and clinking ice cubes and Charlie
Parker's reed blew in the air somewhere high in the Hollywood
Hills. Tonight, Jack Kennedy felt the need for music in his life.
The limo pulled into an open spot on
the crowded street, a
full two blocks from the ruckus. The President waved off his
bodyguards and strode up to the white stucco house where
Aldous Huxley had, years earlier, succeeded in suspending the
quartz just a few moments longer, to let the mind catch up with
He gave a perfunctory knock on the
open front door and
walked into the livingroom. Sheldon Gottfried was standing
with a gin'l"ickey in one fist and a tennis racquet in the other,
demonstrating his backhand. Aldous Huxley gasped with
laughter, shaking off the mortal coil.
"When my back feels better, I'll have
to let you whip my ass,
Doc," Kennedy said, swiping the racket from Gottfried's hand
and patting him on the shoulder with it.
A hush, then jubilation, greeted John
F. Kennedy, every
woman offering him a drink or a hit of grass or a spare house
key. He accepted a Campari and soda and took a seat on a
vacant ottoman, between the legs of Mary Pinchot, who tugged
lightly on his hair, near the nape of his bloated neck.
Fishing something out of her
pocketbook, she plopped it
into the President's drink. "Don'tyou dare pour it out," she
said merrily. "Tomorrow's Sunday, and I know damn well
your first appointment isn't until after noon."
The President stared at her, then
into his drink, then back
into a face that reminded him of Marilyn, whenthe lust was still
ripe. He shrugged, and poured the liquid and a perfect 250
micrograms of Sandoz' best into his digestive tract. Then he set
the drink down on the floor and reclined into her lap.
Aldous Huxley walked over to the
President. He doubled
over stiffly, kissing Kennedy on the crown of his head, the
contented hero radiant to the general attention and the
discipline of Mary Pinchot's thumbs, which were kneading
into the musculature at the top of his spine.
"We search nether crevasses for the
Ubermensch, and he sits
on this very ottoman, drinking my liquor," said Huxley,
secreting a tear. "Bless you, John Fitzgerald Kennedy."
A giddy numbness soon anchored the
Charlie Parker's alto caught him up by the senses and took him
into a smoky ,nightclub somewhere south of a railroad yard
guarded by dogs at night that paced and waited for meat or
maybe the femur of a street kid looking for the baseball he had
lost last week in a game that had ended in a tie.
Dr. Gottfried nodded and winked at
whose face was slack but for arched eyebrows.
Kennedy felt the claws of a ferret
the fibers in his neck, a pain so delicate and sweet he found
himself perspiring under a clammy wave of nausea. His
degenerating vertebrae felt like chalk, brittle and cold. He
pulled himself up from Mary's lap and staggered out onto the
veranda and into the warm California night air.
"He seen a whole chatterin' closet
full of '.em," Charlie
Mingus laughed, alone, in the comer, a huge, solitary black
mass, fingers outstretched, playing an imaginary bass
accompaniment as Charlie Parker s,!iled off the vinyl, syrupy
Mary Pinchot followed Kennedy
outside, the President's
breaths coming short and fast. He grabbed the rail of Huxley's
balcony and stared expectantly out upon the illuminated
Hollywood sign not two hundred yards away.
"What's wrong, sweetie?" she
wondered. "Trouble at
"They're coming for me," he choked,
"Circling like buzzards for the scraps."
"Hush that. You're the rightist
President since Lincoln," she
whispered, then caught herself, along with a hit of cold
blowing off the mountains. She hugged Jack Kennedy tightly
around the waist, and shivered with him. "You're having a
bum trip, my prince. It's not real. By sunrise, your head will be
clear and you'll fall asleep. I've got something to put you right
out if you can't wait that long. Come on," she whispered, "let's
go back inside."
He shook his head, sweating from some
"They're all around. I felt it the night after the Bay of Pigs. I
to myself, 'That's it, my boy, the end of Camelot, the end of
your fucking life. They'll never let you get out of bed tomorrow
"Dulles, Helms," he spit, "the rest
of the jackals. Like a
jungle disease, there's no way to get rid of them. They burrow
and hide like chiggers."
"You're scaring me," Mary said,
shuddering through. "Are
Kennedy nodded. "It's overpowerinp,'
I kept hoping you
weren't one of them. You aren't, are you? ' he said, lowering his
eyes to hers. "Are you one of them?"
"No. God no." She shook her head
furiously. "I know what
Intelligence did to my marriage. I hung tough for seven years
after Cord Meyer went in. But I couldn't stand the deception,
the time away, with no phone calls. " the cheating. I'm not
Intelligence, I'm' just Mary. Mary, who loves you and thinks
you should get out of here now," she said, taking the President
by the arm, and leading him around the house and through a
side gate and out to the street, where his security detail sat
waiting impatiently inside the limousine. "No more of these
parties. You're making it easy for them if they really do want to
get at you," she said, kissed him on the cheek, then walked
quickly back through the gate, as the President's car pulled
Cary Grant had arrived, the
thousand-watt smile beaming
from beneath a commercial tan. His presence took nearly
everyone's mind off the now-absent President. "I want to do a
picture about LSD, Aldous, and I want you to write the
screenplay. Let's call it Acid Fantastic. Maybe a documentary.
Everyone doing it will take some, then tell their story. How
they found it. How it changed their lives," Grant smiled.
Sheldon Gottfried broke away from the
group. He leaned
over and spoke softly into Mary's ear. "Bad trip for our golden
She glared at the Doctor. "Leave him
''I'm sorry?" he coughed.
"Goddammit," she growled low in her
throat. "He's one of
us, and you want to murder him, don't you? Castro's still alive,
so John F. Kennedy must die. You're heartless and you're
gutless. You sneak around poisoning-people-"
"Oh, Mary," Gottfried smiled, pushing
firmly over her mouth. "You're a very dangerous woman. IlIinformed
and much too vocal. Not a long-lived species in this
day and age."
Aldous Huxley approached Gottfried
with a brandy in each
hand, retaining one and passing the other to the Doctor. "To a
perfect evening," Huxley grinned.
Gottfried winked at Mary, then
toasted Huxley. "To
The President collapsed on the bed of
his suite at the
Ambassador. Fumbling for the phone, he dialed his brother at
the family home in Hyannis Port, rousing him from a slumber.
"Bobby, we've gota problem with the CIA: it's out of control.
It's biggerthan the White House. Yes, I've been drinking, but
that has. nothing to do with it. No . .. no, there's nothing to
straighten out. Goddammit, don't talk to anyone. We need to
'! start over, our own men, our own ideas ... Bobby, there's only
one way out of this: I'm going to tear ,the CIA into a thousand
little pieces and scatter it to the wind."
✠ ✠ ✠
Carlo paced silently around his
squalid livingroom, as Neal
Cassady sat on the couch, his head in his hands, a knee
vibrating up and down like some kind of human jackhammer.
The floor was littered with typing paper and empty tubes of
benzedrine. Neal gripped his forehead tightly, compressing a
"We must get him out here, Neal,"
Carlo said, beseechingly.
"No trip to Big Sur can be complete without his company."
Neal stood up suddenly, and charged
to the typewriter, and
began composing: "Jack, the time is too short for proper salutation,
and this greeting to you this grey October morning must be read as
no idle hello; it is, in fact, an urgent plea for your saintly
share our port or whiskey or whatever whets yr palate these days,
friends, BROTHERS, in a magical seaside forest. Have Cabin/Will
Provide all necessities, and any luxuries that our meager savings
allow (& since I have the moment, my particular situation could use
a little buoy, $100 ought to do the trick. I havent worked in weeks
to a thumb ailment earned climbing out a window of the domicile of
the prettiest young waitress I've seen since leaving Denver, & who,
for reasons known only to her, failed to inform me of the
uncomfortable proximity of her husband to the bedroom we were
busily defiling, & also due to the available quantities of
and LSD in sunny CaliforN-I-A , and their pharmacological effects
on a man's general work ethic)-so would you please call us back at
your EARLIEST opportunity. The cabin will be made available to all
who can be packed into it, but ONLY on a weekend which happens to
fall two weeks from this very typewritten day.
Awaiting your reply with fondness,
love, anticipation, I remain
your truest, most loyal friend,
The sidebumed hero of the snowy West
the paper from the typewriter, stuffed it in an envelope, which
he balanced onhis knee, one foot up in the air, addressed it to
Jack's favorite Long Island comer pub, slapped on a stamp and
ran downstairs to the mailbox. When he bounded back into
Carlo's apartment, sweat glistened on his face and chest. "I
know this'll sound un-Christianlike," Neal said, "and might
just go against all the tenets of Zen and any other non-violent
beliefs we've corne to embrace over the years-but darnnit,
Carlo, sometimes I wish Jack's memere would fall asleep one
night, and just naturally not wake up in the morning. She won't
give Jack our letters, she tells us he's not horne, when I can
absolutely, unquestionably, and with fundamental certainty,
right plainly hear the tinkling of that favorite Ii'l glass 0' his
against the neck of a whiskey bottle."
Carlo stood up suddenly, pulling on a
poncho. "Let's get
out of this dingy sty and get into nature-breathe the Sweet,
moist evergreen air. Let's go to Perry Lane."
Neal rubbed his jaw. "Well ... ah-hem
... I was supposed
to meet Ginnie over an hour ago. lf she doesn't get her oilchanged
on a regular basis, she starts getting kinda pouty."
Carlo scowled, staring at the floor.
"I believe your
hormones may have rendered you persona non grata in one of
the truly original enclaves of artisans on the West Coast.
Neal slunk toward the door, mumbling
then disappeared into the alleyways of North Beach. Carlo
passed him hitching on the road a few minutes later, but
Pulling into Stanford, Carlo Marx
witnessed a long parade
of the most deliciously innocent young men and women all
descending on Perry Lane. Notes from an electric guitar hung
high in the air, punctuated by an earthen pummeling of congas.
Several reporters stood self-consciously, holding their
notepads; a camera man for KTFL was making fruitless
overtures to a nubile coed who had eaten a lot of acid a couple
hours earlier and had just ripped off her tank-top to sun her
Franklin Moore stood on a picnic
table in front of his cabin
draped in some homespun yellow cape, a pair of pantyhose
pulled down halfway over his head, a bullhom in his fist. Carlo
hung his great, balding, bearded bean out the window of his
Rambler and let out an animal shriek in Franklin's general
"Welcome, sage and furry friend,"
Franklin spoke at 110
decibels,his voice booming through the trees. "Poet laureate of
the unwashed, dedicated to chemically elevatin' the human
Most of the throng recognized Carlo
Marx, and began
demanding a perfect recitation of Growl. Instead, the aging poet
stood on the hood of· his Rambler and stripped naked whilst
permutating skeins from the Bhagavad Gita, gyrating his hairmatted
physique until reaching a convulsive crescendo, which
he consummated by masturbating on camera.
"Well, shoot," Franklin laughed
through the hom. "That's
gonna be hard to beat. But I'll give it a try: Does everyone know
why we're here!?" he shouted. Then he held up a flier. "The blue
suits over in City Planning put these up last week. Says here,
'By order of the City Planning Commission, residents of Block
72, Lot 5-11, otherwise known as Perry Lane, are ordered to
vacate premises by July 10, Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Third
Year ofOur Savior.' Personally, friends, 1don't think our Savior
had much of a vote in this deal. If he had, 1think he'd a given
these pinheads a whuppin' from here to San Diego. But it looks
like the Lane's lease is up, and the local financial interests
wanna put a condo-minium complex on top of our heads. And
given that dollars are the prime motivatin' factor here,"
Franklin confessed, "I don't think even Jesus Christ would
have much luck keepin' the dozers away."
Dozens of students and dropouts stood
on the floor of Perry
Lane, staring up at Franklin, confused and emaged, vascilating
between sniveling and demanding scalps.
"And you know what we're gonna do
about it?" Franklin
asked "We're gonna move. We're just gonna pick up our
belongins, tuck 'em into our cars, or backpacks if you ain'fgot
wheels, and we're gonna shack up at the place 1 bought this
momin' with the thirty thousand bucks the kind folks at
Doubleday gave me for writin' Rumble Creek! Whaddya think
Franklin was grinning through the
pantyhose and hugging
Lorraine, who had climbed up onto the picnic table to be near
him. "But 'fore we go, I've got something I need to do," he said,
jumping off the table. He ran into cabin #12 and came back out
with a big logger's ax. His eyes were moist, but steely in their
determination. "I'll be damned if this great big piece of God's
own creation goes under the weight of a city tractor.Xd rather
do it myself," he said, and began to flail away at the trunk of the
The camera man from KTLF recorded the
chips and sweat
that sprayed from the force of Franklin's ax, and which sent the
cheers of a thousand grubby-dazed and increasingly naked
youth into the living rooms of horrified parents during the 5:00
p.m. news broadcast, the symbol of Perry Lane crunching
down between two abandoned cabins.
Terry McAfee walked out of his shack
with his son jared,
clasping the boy's hands about belt-high. Jared teetered, but
smiled, stepping gingerly amidst the populous confusion.
Terry picked the boy up and walked over to Franklin and
The boy giggled, reaching for
Franklin's shiny head and
grabbing the remainder of his curls. "Grampa," the child
Terry stared dumbly at his son.
''I'll be damned. He's never
met either of his grandpas-they've both been dead over ten
years. How'd you know that?"
"Grampa," Jared smiled, pulling
Straining against tears, Terry
confided in his two closest
friends. ''I'm going back to Texas," he said. "My family's there.
I need to get my head back on straight. And I'd like him to have
a mother ... and even a Grampa."
Lorraine reached for the boy, and
brought him close. She
turned to Franklin. "Maybe this will make you marry me
before you really get old."
Franklin grinned back at the smiling
little boy. "We'll sure
as hell miss your company, Terry," he said, his own eyes
watering. "If this little creature don't teach a man somethin'
'bout his role in this world, maybe nothin' can. We'll keep him
healthy, and if you ever want him back, I won't charge you for
Lorraine handed Jared over to
Franklin, and hugged Terry
tightly around his torso. "We kill the ones we love," she said
bitterly. "You've got a family here, and a house you can treat as
your own home. Don't ever forget that."
Terry took off his glasses and dabbed
at the torrent of tears
he found, to his humiliation, cascading from behind his heavy
black frames. "Dammit, it hurts so bad. Such an awful, inside
<tching, I don't know if it'll ever go away."
Lorraine grabbed Terry by the front
of his shirt and kissed
him hard and full on the mouth for several seconds.;'1'd take
both of you if we were somewhere else, a different time,
maybe, a different culture. You're one of the sweetest men I've
ever met, and you will.fall in love again. You're going to cross
into west Texas and see the range, and all this will seem fuzzy
like a sad dream. Go start over. You'll heal just fine, I promise
Terry stood blankly for a moment,
then walked to his car,
which was piled high with everything he could carry out of
Perry Lane, and drove swiftly away.
Jared began to bawl. Franklin lifted
him up, and held him
out in front of the big orange rooster, which was perched high
atop the driven post near cabin #12. The beast cocked its head
and blinked several times, then clucked nervously before the
child. A smile eased over Jared's face, a laugh cleared away the
Carlo, still naked on the hood of his
Rambler, watched the
child. "The only regret I have about my orientation stands
before me as innocent as dew in the morning. I envy both of
you," he smiled to Franklin and Lorraine.
Franklin shrugged. "Hell, let's quit
envyin' each other.
There's a house about thirty minutes from here that needs a
good decoratin'. And I've got enough electric Kool-Aid to
make it the prettiest place for miles," he said, taking one final,
sweeping look at Perry Lane, and drove off, leaving behind so
very many things, along with cabin #12 and the remains of the
big oak, all to be buried at 7:30 the next morning by a California
state wrecking crew.
Al Hubbard sat in traffic on the
Strip, ;watching from the
window of his Rolls, as a man clung drunkenly to a metal street
sign in front of the Tropicana, screeching about "cheap
whore~,"and losing his money "to the rotten Dagos." The loser
had been raving at the top of his lungs for a fulI thirty seconds,
when Hubbard watched two swarthy men in white dinner
jackets trot briskly down the steps of the nightclub. The taller of
the two grabbed the drunk by the lapels of his sport coat and
shook him against the stop sign.
"Y' drink our scotch, play craps at
our tables 'til y' eyes go
red, meet a lady who treats y' real nice," the large one smiled
thickly, "and then you stand on a public comer aI1d denigrate
our heritage," he shouted, slapping the drunk hard across the
temple. "That's for my mother. And this is for the rest of us," he
said, crushing the hard part of his fist against the drunk's jaw.
"Messy business," Hubbard muttered to
himself, a spray of
blood and saliva peppering the men's jackets. He turned into
the driveway of the Tropicana, through a break in the
congestion, pulling out a twenty from his billfold for a spot up
The valet shook his head. ''I'm
afraid your money's no good
here, mister. Orders from inside."
"That drunk should have my luck. I
can't seem to empty my
wallet in this town," the Captain chuckled, and walked into the
raucous clatter of dice and chips and a rhythmic stroking of
slots being worked in and yon by every known sector of
humanity, and all with the same fixed, glassy stare about the
hollow of their eyesockets. Hubbard passed a pit-boss whom
he had known in the Forties, but kept walking as the man
returned his broad smile With a quick, professional nod. He
turned the comer to the craps tables where the action ran
feverish, and pulled the wadded twenty from his front pocket
and bought a few chips, laying it all on Pass.
"A guy like you could get took for a
lotta dough," said a
voice from behind, whose person squeezed the Captain's
elbow and walked him toward a set of mirrored elevators.
Hubbard stepped into the chute and
eyed his escort, whom
he recognized by the bloodstains on the jacket, but said
nothing. The doors opened to a dark, paneled expanse, at
whose magnetic center sat ten men, all wearing the same
A lean, graying don in heavy glasses
looked at Hubbard's
escort and shook his head. "Carmine, change your jacket. You
look like you just iced someone."
Carmine smiled. "Gotta good one off,
Sam. Slob was badmouthin'
The men laughed through a slow-rising
haze of cigar.
Carmine turned Al Hubbard loose, grabbed a fresh jacket from
a hanging tree, and disappeared down the elevator shaft.
"So AI, they treat you alright
Hubbard adjusted his coat. "Sure," he
said. "But I can see
where a monkey like that might make your average patron a
little nervous. Stare out that window, you'll just catch the
ambulance leaving with some poor, busted up drunk."
"A little Vegas justice, AI," Sam
smiled, "it's where we get
even without getting too dirty."
Sam Giancana lit a cigar for Hubbard
and ordered him
seated at the head of the long cherrywood table. He poured
himself a short glass of vodka, neat, then stood to one side of
Hubbard, with his hand on the Captain's shoulder. "We've
been bamboozled by alotta members of our government,
paisanos, but Al Hubbard is the truest spook you'll ever meet in
your lives. Back in the Twenties, when I was still hustlin' bets at
the track, the good Captain was helpin' our little Seattle
operation get rum past the Coast Guard and the Treasury boys.
Isn't that right, AI," he said to a nodding Hubbard, who was
beginning to loosen up and puff on the sturdy Havana.
The Captain leaned forward, screwing
on a grin that made
several of the Family shift in their seats. "I got to work with a
few good taxi drivers who believed in booze and hated the
hassle it took to get it," he smiled, looking into the stony faces
of the Cosa Nostra. "I was working as an engineer at the time.
Rigged together a few portable ship-to-shore radios in my off
hours, and found out they worked pretty well in the trunks of
Giancana's grin dissolved to a scowl.
"Al did eighteen
months behind razor wire for us. We corked the scum who
phoned the Bureau on him, but he had nobody on the inside to
help him out, gentlemen. He was all alone in there, and now I
feel like doin' a littlegivin' back. Ai's got a proposal for us,
gentlemen. A way to free up our position in Cuba, and get that
fuckin' Mick off our minds. Listen to what he's gotto say." Sam
Giancana pulled at his suit, then took a. seat next to Joe
The Captain walked across the room
and poured himself a
double bourbon. He surveyed the grim faces around the table,
then took a long pull from his glass. "I figure you're losing a
million dollars a week to Castro. Your clubs are gutted, your
ladies have no clientele, your political influence is zero. Bay of
Pigs could have returned everything to normal," Hubbard
shrugged. "Word from deep in says Kennedy's backed off for
good. Six more years of this President means three-hundred
million of Family money down the rat-hole. My people want
him out for other reasons," Hubbard said. "Give me a couple of
your very best shooters, and we'll give you a President who'll
put you back in business."
"Fuck. You." Joe Bonanno rose
reeling, kicked his chair
against the wall, and shouted, "Fuck a Doo To You, Thank You.
Fuck You. The Family don't kill cops. And we sure as hell ain't
gonna ace out the goddamn President of the United States.
Sammy, who is this guy? Where the fuck d'you get this guy?"
"Calm down, Joey. 'AI's carryin' a
message from the
Company. Everybody wants it done," Sam shrugged, "but we
gotta do our part, too."
"I ain't takin' part in no plan to
knock off Kennedy,"
Bonanno said, sliding a thumb and index finger down the
length of his clammy mask. "I don't endorse it, and my men
don't touch it. Got that, Sam? In fact, I think I'm gonna leave.
This is nutso," he laughed, and walked out the. door.
Hubbard made motion to sit, but
Giancana put up a handito
"AI, forget about him. Joey wasn't
born with the same ...
edge some of the rest of us was blessed with. That's why he
ended up in Arizona. He's always been good at greasin' palms,
but askin' him to pack a piece was always kinda risky."
The Captain sat anyway. "One loose
cog and we're all in the
gas chamber. We're talking abo1,1t an act of treason here,
Sam nodded. "This conversation
evaporates at the door. I'll
personally make any contract for the lightest fuckin' whisper.
AI," he said heavily, "Why don't you go downstairs and toss
some high-stakes dice on me. We'll let you know."
The men stood and shook Hubbard's
hand, one by one.
Johnny Rosselli looked the Captain deep into his eyes. ''I'm
glad someone like you cares about folks such as ourselves."
Hubbard squeezed Rosselli's hand,
then slid down the
elevator shaft. At ten after midnight, standing next to a big
mound of chips, the Captain felt his coat pocket open. Heslid
his pile over to a luckless drunk, then left the Tropicana Casino
and drove to a.rented condominium east of the Strip. After
parking his Rolls, Hubbard reached into his pocket and pulled
out a Jack of Hearts, with a bullet hole through what should
have been its lone eye.
☠ ☠ ☠
Jack Kerouac stepped off the plane at
International, everything he owned in a rucksack, a scowl
pinching his sunparched face. Raising his eyes to a stewardess,
he started to say somethingbut couldn't get the words out, and
settled instead for an embarrassed shrug and the involuntary
flapping of hands at his waist. The lights of the terminal hurt his
eyes, which were moist in their sockets and rimmed in shades
of vermillion. He lit a cigarette and shuffled slowly to the
entrance of gate 42, where Neal and Carlo would be waiting for
him, if they weren't still sucking each other's cock at Carlo's
apartment, or off speeding God knows where, oblivious to the
haggard traveler from Long Island with phlebitis in his legs and
a heart so heavy it felt like it could sometimes damn near fall
out through the stomach floor.
The writer grimaced as he pushed his
way through a thicket
of spades blocking the exit. Everywhere he looked, some
foreigner, a Jew, sat savoring an evening in an America he used
to have doing tricks for him through a hoqp. He walked past a
man in a turban and caught a waft of body odor so bad that he
spun around and screamed at the man to take a bath or get out
of his country, for Chrissakes. The man stared, saying nothing,
until Jack waved him off, muttering something about being
poor once, too.
Seeing only a seething, unfamiliar
mass, he sped to a jog and
ducked into the nearest cocktail lounge, where he tossed his
sack under a barstool. "Y' gotta Jameson's with 'ol Jack's name
on it?" he slubbered.
The bartender nodded slowly. "I've
got forty ~o kinds of
liquor, withblanks for just about every name in the book. Jack's
as good as any, I guess."
Kerouac leaned forward. "Bet'cha
never poured Jameson's
for a living godblessed author."
The bartender set down two ounces of
whiskey. "Last week
I served a creme de menthe to Saul Bellow."
A flush of violet passed over Jack's
stubbly jowls. He
slapped his hand hard on the counter. "Saul Bellow, well, well!
I wish I coulda been here, barkeep. You gotta tell me, was Saul
with the other rabbis? Herbert Gold, maybe? Hai" he bellowed,
drawing stares from every direction. "Piss'n their creme de
menthe. Another whiskey for the King o' the Beats!"
Carlo and Neal heard Jack raving from
two gates away. By
the time they reached the lounge, the bartender had cut off
their friend's tab and was threatening to call security. Carlo
pulled Jack from the stool, while Neal flung the heavy sack over
a shoulder with a snap of his left wrist.
"H'lo Carlo, Neal," the dharma bum
staggering out into the terminal. "Guess I kinda made a fuss
back there, huh?"
Neal Cassady was nursing one of his
lOng silences. He
walked with Jack and Carlo, bobbing his head every so often
until reaching the parking lot, where Jack laid a sodden stare on
a mint condition two-toned Hudson, spare tire affixed to its
"Thought you said you was broke,"
Jack gaped. "Damn,
that's a beeeuuuuuutiful machine, where'd you steal her from?"
Neal said nothing, just nodded and
"We put a down payment on it Friday,"
"Neal got a small settlement from the railroad for ruining his
Jack looked down and noticed for the
first time a huge dirty
bandage covering half of Neal's right hand. The tape was
unraveling, and a section flapped against his wrist.
"He broke it at the nail. Infection
set in," Carlo frowned.
"Neal's pace isn't conducive to injury, I'm afraid."
Neal pointed at a tube in the breast
pocket of Carlo's shirt.
Carlo shook his head. "You've had
enough already, Neal.
You're wired." Then he offered a tab to Kerouac, who hesitated
briefly, before popping it into his mouth.
"This isn't going to be some big
queer session, is it?"
Kerouac muttered. "I don't go in for that stuff anymore. Wasn't
big on it to begin with, y' know."
I know, Jack," Carlo nodded, and
began the drive down
Jack stared out at the water, feeling
course through his veins-a chill that ran clear through to his
fingertips. The late October surf sm,!shed against the cliffside,
turning to foam, then out again, gaining strength to beat down
upon the jagged rocks. Jack rolled down his window. The frigid
air whipped his overheated forehead and snapped his neck
back stiffly. He inhaled deeply, but instead of sea salts drew in
a stinking, vaporous iodine so vile he grabbed at the handle and
reeled the window up furiously. The scent he kept to himself,
but the reaction sucked him down into the passenger seat and
saw him pulling his coat tightly around his chest as Carlo sailed
down Pacific Coast Highway, dragging heavily on a joint and
bobbing his head to a JohnColtrane riff blasting out of the radio
in the dash.
Neal straightened in the back seat,
pushing his head over
Carlo's shoulder. "Can you hear it? The reed vibrating so
perfectly, so acutely aware of the moment, not the past or
what's going to be two seconds from now, but NOW, right this
very heavenly second, when the tongue and the teeth come·in
contact with that stiff Ii'l reed and BLEEEAAAAUUUWWW!!!"
Jack Kerouac smiled for the first
time in many weeks.
"Good to have y' back, Neal, you crazy angel."
Neal patted Jack on the shoulder and
kissed him fast on the
cheek. "Never gone, m'friend, just restrained from the spoken
element of the moment. Every once. in a while even a
motorrnouth like yours truly needs a Ii'l calm and respite in his
Jack reached down into his sack and
grabbed a bottle of
whiskey by the neck and gulped down the last two or three
ounces. "Know've a good liquor store 'round here, Carlo?
Looks like I'm outta sust'nance."
Carlo shook his head. "Try some of
this," he smiled, passing
him a joint.
Jack shrugged several times, then
began to whimper. "Oh .
.. c'mon, pal. I'd score you a lid if you ran out of smoke. Y' know
1would. C'mon, I'll just be in and out. Look, I've got my own
money," he nodded, pulling out his wallet and flashing two
hundred dollars in crumpled bills. "1 just cashed mycheck from
Esquire for the piece I wrote on what's left of us Beats."
Carlo smiled but kept driving, the
smoothly down the California coastline, thick masses of fir
enveloping the hillside toward Big Sur.
Neal leaned up and over Jack,
sticking his broken Roman
nose out the window. "Heaven can't smell much better than
this, m'friends. And in fact, it would not surprise me one tiny
iota to find at the inevitable moment that the Pearly Gates open
up right here to where it is we're going. What about it, Carlo?"
Carlo chuckled, mumbling something
about a poem in
Neal's primitive Christian instincts: '''A Heaven on Earth, and
Its Name is Big Sur,'" Carlo giggled.
To Jack it felt like Hell. Every so
often, he. would dig deep
into his sack, just to see if he might have smuggled some lone
mini-bottle from the airplane. Defeated, he finally took the joint
from the ashtray and began frantically sucking its marrow. The
station on which Coltrane was blOWing his hom fell to static in
the fog of the wriggling coastal highway. Jack tried not to hear
Carlo and Neal laughing at him, or notice the big, sinister trees
at the sides of the road, like something he had seen once as a
child under a high fever-gnarled, hairy arms stretching over
and fondling the stolen Hudson, dropping.bits of nature's
filthy decay onto the windshield.
"Hurryup," Jack grimaced. "There's
cops all over this road.
One look at us, and we're on the inside fr'at least a week."
"Alright, Jack," Carlo said calmly,
desperation. "We're almost there."
Neal put his hands on his old
friend's shoulders and began
rubbing them, filling Jack with nausea at the memory of his
sporadic homosexual encounters-nights of stoned youth,
stumbling back to some grungy North Beach rooming house he
had shared with his road partner, full of wine and gage and the
tender euphoria of Neal Cassady fucking him in the ass. Jack
pushed Neal's hands aside and crouched forward into a
The Hudson pulled to a soft dirt
trail and came to a stop in
front of a rambling, splintered cabin. "Ours for the weekend,
Jack. Isn't she lovely?"
Sack clutched tightly in his fist,
Jack bounded out of the
j Hudson and stretched his legs, breathing the fragrant mists of
3ixby Canyon. A bluejay hopped down a thick bough and
began screeching at him. He cringed and ran into the unlocked
shack and almost over a stately, silver-haired man who sat in
the livingroom, drinking a glass of Port. The man recoiled upon
seeing his friend's bloated red face.
"Jack!?" he smiled, an eyebrow
The traveler nodded distractedly,
then began rifling
through the kitchen cupboards for something stronger than
Carlo and Neal entered the cabin,
whereupon the former
apologized to Harve Serengeti for their friend's gen';rallack of
decorum. "He's in terrible shape, Harve. I hope he won't ruin
your taste for hospitality."
Serengeti shook his head and was
silent for a long moment,
watching helplessly as Jack poured more than a pint of whiskey
down his throat. He loved Jack. They all loved Jack. Crowds of
noisy street-poets in front of his Holding Hands bookstore in
1954 filled Serengeti's memory. Carlo standing full of nerves
and wine, letting out for the first time the majestic stanzas of
Growl, the unruly audience falling into an anxious calm. In the
stillness, Jack had raised his jug of burgundy, and began
chanting, "Go, Go, Go . .. " And then Neal intertwined his own
benzedrine rap, and within minutes Harve Serengeti was host
to the birth of a revolution-earlo Marx stripping off his white
tunic and dancing naked at 3roadway and Columbus, dozens
of pipes sending a pungent cloud high into the air and into the
straight world only a street away, and Jack, sweet Jack,
clapping so oblivious, and not one policeman intervened.
"How long has he been like this?"
Carlo shrugged and shook his head.
"He's been living with
his mother on Long Island since '61. He doesn't speak to
anyone. It's really nearly a miracle that something in Neal's
letter got him out of the house."
Jack screwed the cap back on a
bottle, smiling through a
bleary mask, then hugged Serengeti tightly around his
shoulder. "Don't, worry, 'arve, I'll pick up a coupl'a
replacements. Jack's no freeloader, y'know. Not like Neal," he
spat. "When'sa last time you paid fr'yrown liquor, Neal?
Bought y'rown pills? Huh!? Nobody ever called Jack a
freeloader, no, no."
"I think it's time for some food,"
Harve whispered. "I
thought we'd go the cafe at Nepenthe."
Neal shuffled through his pockets,
then scratched his chest.
''I'll . .. yass... ahh... stick around and watch the house,
Harve. How a-bout that?"
"Let's go, Neal," he nodded. ''I'm
sure there's a couple
times 1never paid you for watching my store. We'll call it even
Neal's head bobbed spasmodically, his
face brightening as
he threw one arm around Harve and the other around Kerouac.
"I know you don't mean it, Jack. You've been, an~ will always
be, my brother."
Jean-Louis Kerouac sobbed quietly and
Serengeti's cabin to the restaurant, wiping the tears furtively
and frequently on the sleeve of his flannel shirt. The cafe at
Nepenthe reminded him of an old wine-and-coffee house in
North Beach, where he used to write for ten hours at a clip,
after cracking open a couple benzedrine inhalers, dumping the
camphorous strips into a cup of black Turkish coffee. Neal
would come over to his table all excited, pointing out the
shortest skirts, and Jack would shoo him off like a dungfly with
his left hand, still pounding out fifty-words a minute with his
right. He finished On the Road in twelve days. That was 1952.
Now his stomach turned just thinking about that nasty paper.
A cluster of long-haired men sat
laughing and passing a
joint around a table on the sundrenched redwood deck.
"Bet they're communists," Jack
mumbled to himself.
"That, or fairies."
A table was waiting for Serengeti
near a window which
overlooked a forest of thick scented pines. Neal nodded
appreciatively, rubbed his stomach and squeezed Serengeti by
the bicep. Harve patted Neal's shoulder and smiled.
Kerouac refused a menu from the
waitress. "A fifth of
Canadian Club and a bucket'0 ice," he growled.
Carlo leaned forward. "How about a
Jack crouched in his chair, grimacing. "Quit looking at me!
All r want'sa goddamn bottle of whiskey! Jeez, y'racting like
Carlo started to say something, but
Harve waved him off.
"There's nothing anyone can do," he smiled thinly.
Jack nodded his head furiously. "Thass
anyone can do f'r'ol' Jack. Pity don't work, can't get any respect
from the critics-the Jews. Y'wanna know how much I made
last year? Huh?"
Serengeti lifted his shoulders in
an-embarrassed shrug. but
"Eighteen-hundred dollars, thass
what! Nobody buys m'
books anymore. Kids steal 'em, the Jews call 'em trash. Say I'm
a imbecile, brain's gone soft," Jack shouted, his eyes full of
tears. "I just got so tired of waiting, 'arve. Took the Jew bastards
five years to figger out On the Road was some kind'a genius.
They said they couldn't take it, 'cause it was written on a big
roll of teletype paper. Said it looked like a salami. Said it was
weird. Five years. A man loses part of his spirit wait'n 'round
that long," he whispered, raising the glass to his lips. "Gotta get
some comfort somewhere."
Afterdinner, Carlo rubbed his huge
beard, then his tummy,
and told the men of his standing invitation at the Esalen
Institute, and of its 24-hour redwood hot tub. 'Jack shrugged,
and nodded, breaking into something of a smile, The Hudson
rolled south down Highway 1 about seven miles, then fell
abruptly down a steep driveway overlooking the great,
rippling blackness of the Pacific. Esalen availed itself as a
session in self-discovery to those who could afford it, But
neighbors said strange drugs were used; there were hints of
orgies, and muted howling could be heard on clear nights.
Carlo looked at his watch and walked
into the lodge at 9:45
p.m., where he reco~ed Milosz Grosz, the Czech emigre
who served as Esalen s staff therapist. The poet approached the
doctor with a smile, hand outstretched. "We met last year at a
symposium for the American Academy of J;'sychedelic
Therapy," Carlo said.
Dr. Grosz nodded distractedly. "Of
course. You are poetrevolutionary
with unfortunate surname."
Carlo laughed loudly and clapped his
hands. "Maybe some
day we can do without names. Tonight I've brought some
friends, and we'd like to make use of the hot tub, if-"
Dr. Grosz nodded. "Make yourself
comfortable." He took
notice of the three companions, then turned again to Carlo.
"You must excuse me. 1 have urgent business. A pleasure to
meet you again, Mr. Marx." The doctor trotted into a
conference room, closing the door solidly behind him. General
William Creasy sat at the head of the oblong table, surrounded
by most of the staff of MK-ULTRA. "Most unusual visit,
GeneraI," he said. "Two of the famous Beat writers wish to
bathe in our tub."
The word "Beat" snapped Creasy's head
where it had hung over a pile of clinical profiles. "Who?!"
"The poet Carlo Marx and three of his
friends. 1know only
Mr. Kerouac, not the others."
Creasy giggled like a child on his
fifth Twinkie. "Doc, do we
have any LSD on the premises?"
Dr. Grosz shuffled in his seat.
"Get it," Creasy grinned. "And give
it to every one of them.
Slip it in their drinks. 1want to see what happens."
The doctor hedged.
"Goddamnit, I've been left out of the
loop for nine years
now, and 1demand to see results."
Dr. Grosz left his seat and picked up
a phone in the comer of
the room. After some whispering, he cradled the receiver and
returned to the table. "I will leave before it takes effect. 1do not
approve of this type of practice."
Creasy waved off his complaints, and
returned to a thin
folder. "You've studied the file, doctor. What can we expect
from Franklin Moore?"
Dr. Grosz opened a copy of the chart
from the Menlo Park
Veterans Hospital. Nodding slowly, an upturned crease
developed in the center of his gaunt face. "Young Mr. Moore is
amazing subject. He possesses almost perfect control under
tremendous psychological strain. His verbal and mathematical
skills while under LSD-25 are the highest 1 have ever had the
pleasure of analyzing. Will you have him as part of your
government, perhaps? He is born leader."
General Creasy smiled. "He'll be
Thank you for your concern."
"If that is all," Grosz nodded, "I
will retire to my bungalow.
I wish to know nothing of the activities of Mr. Marx and his
friends," he frowned, then slipped out a side door and walked
in the moonlight through a thicket of trees to his cabin.
Carlo, Harve and Neal each slid
completely out of their
clothes and into the hot tub, leaving Jack in a well-worn pair of
boxers, pacing back and forth in indecision. His bloated
stomach stood as grim testament to years of excess-no longer
the stocky athletic build of his football years at Columbia, but
almost corpselike in its advanced state of putrefaction. He
coughed violently, registering to the painful spasms in his gut.
Before a handsome waiter could kneel to serve the men in the
tub, Jack swiped a glass of wine from the tray.
"Compliments of Esalen," the waiter
Carlo smiled at the man, winking
through his heavy black
frames. "Care to join us?"
The waiter issued a terse apology,
placed a stack of
oversized towels on a chair, then disappeared inside the lodge,
leaving Carlo somewhat anguished.
"It's hell getting old," he said. "1
used to be able to attract the
loveliest men, all over the world. I remember in Tangier-"
Neal moved closer and laid his head
on Carlo's hairy chest.
''I'll help you out, if you need it, old friend. Can't count the
times you've parted your various orifices for me in my times of
desperate carnal need."
Harve smiled at the two, then excused
himself to savor his
wine on a reclining deck chair, wrapping himself in a towel.
Jack had polished off his glass in two gulps and was looking
fruitlessly around for more. He finally sat beside his patron and
"Bright little buggers," Jack said,
staring up at the crowded,
blinking sky. "Feels like they're talking to me," he giggled.
"'H'lo up there. H'lo ... whadd'ya think they're trying to tell
me, 'arve? Must be pretty important, for all the chatterin'
they're doin'. Look at 'em."
Harve Serengeti stared at Jack
Kerouac, then into his own
wine glass, feeling the trees beginning to come alive. .. the
sound~of the ocean more restless as the LSD entered his brain.
"It's okay, Jack. Have fun with it," he said, .then whispered to
Carlo and Neal, who were heating up the tub. "Do you feel
something? I think our drinks are salted."
Carlo smiled, his head resting back
upon the lip of the
redwood tub, Neal's bandaged hand pumping vigorously
beneath the water's surface. "Oh, yeah. I feel everything."
Jack continued to talk back to the
stars, his mind racing from
one delirious tangent to the next, trying to make sense of the
insanity that had overcome him without warning. "Yeah, well,
whadd'you know!" he shouted to the sky. "V'you ever been
lonely? Fuck you! Not like them. Was never a communist, thass
who's after Jack. It's 'cause I won't lay down for the Reds, like
m'friend Carlo. Makes'em mad. Well, fuck 'em every one of'em!!"
Jack dropped his head and shrugged to
Harve, who was
paralyzed as equally by the acid in his own drink as he was by
the chemical schizophrenia to which he was b~ingwitness in
one of his oldest friends. Jack stripped off his shorts and walked
toward the hot tub. He swayed uncertainly at the steps, then
stepped back in horror as thin strands of sperm floated to the
surface, and Carlo sighed, and Neal hopped out of the tub with
"Goddamn fruits, m'best friends are
fruits. Everyone's got
it out for Jack ... aaaAAAUUUGGGGHHH!!!!" he whinnied,
gripped in a terrified dementia. His clothes clutch~d wrinkled
in his paw, the Beat avatar ran up the driveway and out onto
Pacific Coast Highway, and kept running.
Neal stood puzzled, oblivious to the
nature of the foreign
sensations in his body and head. "What spooked him?"
Ten minutes later, the lights of
Neal's Hudson flooded the
shoeless, stumbling, and dazed form of Jack Kerouac. Tight in
his grip was an almost empty quart of whiskey, which he
finished off while blinking at the Hudson from a shoulder of
the road. Carlo jerked him by the wrist into the back seat, where
he belched what smelled to be the essence of his bile duct.
"How 'bout it, Carlo? How 'bout a
blowjob, f'r'ol Jack," he
sputtered, unzipping his pants and pulling out his organ. "One
f'r the road. HA, HA, HA . .. haacckkksshhppt," he chortled,
coughing up a thick wad of mucus. "Put'cher head right down
'ere'n do what'cha do best. C'mon. I'm old and fat, and haven't
had a decent girl for years. Juss whores. Whadd'ya say, Carlo?"
"You're drunk and you're sick, Jack.
You should be drying
out in a hospital with healthy food and some rest."
Jack scoffed, calling Carlo
derivatives of "cocksucker" until
they arrived at Harve's cabin, where the rest of the group went
immediately to sleep to distance themselves from the odious
When they woke the next morning, a
great form sat
slumped over a kitchen table littered with at least two gallons'
in empty bottles, including the cheap sauterne Harve normally
used for marinating the local trout. The body twitched
uncontrollably and the mouth whispered unceasingly about
pain and all manner of death, the eyes wide like half-dollars.
Harve gave Jack a big glass of water and half of a mild
tranquilizer, then carried him over to the sofa and sat down and
cried as the dharma burn fell asleep.
At five o'clock that evening, Harve
Serengeti drove a
groggy Jack Kerouac to the-airport and deposited him onto a
plane back to Long Island. "Try not to let him drink," Harve
said to the stewardess. "He's a sweet man, but he has no
Jack nodded and shrugged, held his
friend briefly, then left
California sick, desperate, confused. .. in a word, beat.
✡ ✡ ✡
A sweaty fog on the viewing side of
the two-way mirror
greeted George Hunter White as he began his shift at the hotel
suite, a glass of Alka-seltzer in one hand and his own camera in
the other. Some bastard in the CIA's Information Directorate
was sitting on at least five rolls of film, and he wanted
something more than hemorrhoids for the countless hours he
had spent sitting on a stool, monitoring the many positions
Sheila found herself able to contort with her nightly stream of
He plopped two wafers into a glass of
water and gulped,
hoping to soothe the pain in his cirrhotic gullet. He put his face
against a clear spot in the glass to watch Sheila in action. A
stout, snowy-haired man lay on his back, Sheila's middle finger
fully up his ass as she sucked rhythmically his penis. White
strained to identify the man's face, which looked more than
vaguely familiar. He scanned a current photo-log of U.S.
Congressman and Senators, then Kennedy's Cabinet secretaries.
The image of the man's face reverberated in his brain,
narrowly escaping recognition. White turned on the speaker
and listened to the voice, as he pleaded with Sheila to finish him
A chilly sweat covered George White's
swolien torso. He
fumbled with his camera, pressing the lens up to the glass,
emptying the roli as Chief Justice Earl Warren spasmed into
Sheila's waiting mouth, then quickly pulied on his clothes and
left after silently tossing a fifty-doliar bill onto the bed. White
coliapsed onto the stool. He pulied the roli of film gently out of
the camera, placing it in the inside pocket of his sportcoat.
Flicking a switch, he reversed direction on the speaker.
"Honey," White said to Sheila through
the speaker in the
glass. "Any idea who that was?"
Sheila bared her teeth, and stretched
out nude and alone on
the bed. "John, like 'III the rest. Said he ain't been hav'n no
blowjob since his wedd'n night."
"Do you know where he works? Anything
"Nope," she shook her head. "Real
quiet. Just gave
instructions, got what he needed, and split. Say, you gonna
want me to taste you tonight, or can I take a bath by myself?"
White smiled. "Stay the whole night,
princess. It's on me."
He packed up his briefcase, put on his coat, then walked down
to the lobby of the Hilton and stopped <It a pay phone. "BiII,
George White here. I've just come from Midnight Climax.
We've got a judge on film ... a powerful judge. I think it's about
time we talk about my needs."
White left the Hilton and dropped off
the film at his safedeposit
box at Manufacturers Hanover, which was registered
in the name of a drug dealer he had busted seven years earlier
and who was serving a life sentence at Rikers Island without
the possibility of parole. He drove to the penthouse of Sheldon
Gottfried, and was escorted to the suite by a young plainclothes
agent. General Creasy and Gottfried stood near the window
overlooking Central Park, huddling over a spread of unmarked
aerial photographs which they stowed rapidly into a folder and
locked inside Gottfried's briefcase.
"Welcome, George," Gottfried smiled.
"I've been meaning
to invite you sooner, but time has had a way of getting away
from me lately."
White nodded nervously. "Yeah. I know
what you mean."
"Sit down, George," the Doctor motioned. "Bill tells me
Midnight Climax caught a judge on film. I think powerful was
the word you used, right Bill?"
General Creasy smiled and nodded.
"Does this judge have a name,
White shifted in the couch, staring
silently at Dr. Gottfried,
then at Creasy, and back again. "Yeah .. , well, obviously. But
I don't know if now's quite the time to give it away. I mean,
Midnight Oimax is a Bureau project."
Creasy's eyes narrowed. "And the FBI
gets its LSD from
Army Chemical Corps, which is run by me."
Gottfried rubbed his hands together.
"Do you want a drink,
White paused for a moment, then shook
his head. "Nl1IU)llo,
thank you. I've got a long drive home."
"I think we can solve this problem,
announced. "George has been running Midnight Climax for
almost two years now. And with his help, we've seen a number
of Ke11Itedy's appointments withdrawn prior to Senate
confirmation. The Army has benefitted from Midnight Oimax,
and I'm sure the FBI is grateful for the LSD you've provided for
the project. Isn't that right, George?"
White nodded spasmodically. "Oh, no
"I think it's in the order of
fairness that George sees some
personal benefit for his role in Midnight Climax, don't you,
Creasy pursed his lips and nodded his
"What can we do for you, George?"
White let out a soft, steady breath.
"I've got about ten cop
friends I'd like to get into the Bureau, and there seems to be
some kind of goddarnn delay getting them in."
Dr. Gottfried shrugged. "That seems
... reasonable. I'll make
a phone call. We'll get it worked out. How are you doing
White flicked his hands
unconsciously. "Well," he
chuckled. "A guy doesn't get many trips to the Bahamas on FBI
"No, I don't expect one does,"
Gottfried grinned. ''I'll see
what can be done to feather your nest. Now, who's the judge?"
White stared at the ceiling. The two
strained to hear him,
but couId only hear a muscular clicking in the throat. Then
finally it came: "Earl Warren," he whispered.
A long silence settled upon the
livingroom. White's eyes
rolled closed, his head tilted back slightly, sweat covering his
"They don't come much bigger than
that," Gottfried said,
his voice quavering. "No, they don't. G-george?" he
stammered, "since we are talking about the Supreme Court
Chief Justice--I would consider it a great personal and
professional courtesy if you would keep this absolutely secret:
Tell nobody. Warren will undoubtedly be forced to resign, and
we need time to see that his replacement is acceptable to us. I'll
put your requests at the very top of my agenda. But not a word
about this to anyone: is this understood?"
George White twitched in his neck,
his lips and hands
trembling. Gottfried stood up and walked him to the door,
patting him on the back, wordlessly. The Doctor shut the door,
then turned to General Creasy, his head in his hands.
"Should I have killed him right here,
Bill?" he moaned.
"Warren will be absolutely and permanently disgraced. We'll
have to find someone else to issue the Kennedy report;
someone almost certainly less respected and credible." The
Doctor stood in the center of his living room, his head wagging
side to side. "I don't know we can trust George White."
"I can send a couple men to his house
tonight," Creasy said.
"Come down through the chimney and strangle him in his
Gottfried shook his head. "It'll
raise too many questions. I
don't think Hoover knows about Midnight Climax. And if he
does, he's being incredibly tolerant. One of his senior men
getting murdered might send him into a frenzy. Let's sit on it.
This is hideous; but we could just end up making it worse."
"If I were you, I'd assign as many
men as it takes to find that
film," Creasy said. "Not much he can do without that film."
Gottfried nodded his head slowly.
"This is getting too big.
Al Hubbard is on his own renegade mission in California.
George White could send us all to the Chair. There's a
revolution brewing on the campuses, can you feel it, Bill? What
do you think Kennedy's murder is ~oing to do to these kids?"
"Fuck these undisciplined kids,"
Creasy shouted. "Maybe
it'll wake them up: Camelot's over, children, time to take sides.
Kennedy's got to go, Shelly. I'll put a goddarnn bullet in his ear
at the next military briefing if you're thinking about backing
Gottfried shook his head. "Kennedy
will die in Dallas.
There is no backing out. We've patched this trail with every
form of diversion known to man. ,First some right-wing
citizen's committee starts tacking up bulletins allover Dallas,
saying that the Kennedy name is synonymous with treason.
Behind these bulletins is the name Bernard Weissman. Nobody
knows who Weissman is. Is he a John Bircher? Or is it really a
leftist counterconsipiracy to discredit the radical right?
Nobody knows. We've got Lee Harvey Oswald at the Book
Depository Building, thinking he's shooting at John Connally.
This is the kid who flipped out in an MK-ULTRA experiment at
Atsugi Marines base, Japan. He was so screwed up by the LSD
that we had only two choices: give him a Section 8, or retrain
him for counterintelligence. We chose the latter. Oswald now
believes that Governor Connally is plotting a coup against
Kennedy, with help from anti-Castro and unspecified fascist
elements. He will attempt to assassinate Connally using a boltc
action Mannlicher-Carcano rifle with a defective scope. Our
sharpshooters will be on the left, Roselli's from behind the
fence next to the train tracks. Oswald will shoot first, then he'll
get himself caught because he is an amateur. Of course, we'll
have to silence him almost immediately,'" Gottfried nodded.
"But I've left that end to Captain Hubbard. He'll pick his own
assassin for Oswald. He's got that human touch."
☠ ☠ ☠
To Al Hubbard, it was as if the gates
of Heaven,had swung
open and he were invited inside and allowed to resf his feet for
his gift of the Magi to the World Establishment. Henry Luce, in
a cardigan sweater, opened the great, inlaid oaken doors of his
Chicago estate and nodded somberly, his face worn smooth by
years of reassurance. "Captain Hubbard, a pleasure," he said,
smiling thinly to the outside world, before closing the doors
behind them. "Would you like some tea? One of my senior
writers recently sent me a box of darjeeling from Burma. Some
of the old boys still remember," he chuckled, remembering a
long many years, and many friends, but nmle so foreign?
intriguing as the squatty, crew-cut man m the khaki suit
standing strange!y in his living room.
"I love darjeeling," the Captain
nodded. "Have you ever
tried Oolong? It'll make you hallucinate if you drink enough."
Mr. Luce laughed. "One pleasure at a
Hubbard nodded inwardly as he
withdrew a short, glass
vial from the leather pouch on his belt. Mr. Luce eyed the
dropper with reverence, the odd Captain counting out three
small, viscous drops to each cup. China clinked in solidarity,
they began shortly to enjoy a very different set of sensory
pleasures from those normally associated with the varietal
black teas of the Upper Bengal.
"I've dismissed the help for the day,
Captain, so that we
might talk freely. My wife is on a special junket for UNICEF,
but she's quite interested from what some of her friends are
saying. I suppose we'll be calling on you again, Captain
Hubbard," Luce nodded, smiling now in a strange new,
revelatory way-suddenly feeling very alive in his head, like a
jolt of espresso, though not jittery.
The Captain felt it, too.
"Can you tell me who else is
involved?" Mr. Luce wondered
excitedly. "I've heard Cary Grant is very fond of it."
The Captain stood up anxiously,
Havanas from his jacket. "Sir, it's the wave of the future. The
bright, spangled core ofAmerica's future!" Hubbard bellowed.
Henry Luce knew what it meant, though
not why, not
what-only that this ... this thing the thick-necked country spy
had dropped into his beloved darjeeling made him want to
play music. "I've never had much of an interest in music, A!,
sorrowfully. Probably because 1 don't have much of an ear for
it. But it's all so wonderful," Henry Luce shouted, radiating
some intense glow of appreciation like he was there, listening to
one of the Masters in a private sitting room whose entrance
could be paid for only in LSD-25.
Mr. Luce stood up solidly on his
feet, spacing his arms a
short distance, and began counting time with short, neat
strokes of his hands. "It's beautiful," he beamed.
Hubbard watched the conductor march
at the vision of another life touched, a mind changed, a manlike
Henry Luce on fire and riding with the Valkydes in his own
palatial garden amongst the hedges. .. twelve dozen rows of
silent visitors rapt and at the mercy of the sure, swift, sonorous
commands at the tips of the Old Man's fingers.
"This is so against my natural
instincts, Captain," Mr. Luce
beamed. "What should be the policy on LSD? Certainly, it has
a place in man's medicine chest, but look what it's done to me,"
he exclaimed, directing God's own choir from the great
beyond. "If a man such as myself can be turned into an
appreciator of this kind of music," he said motioning to the sky,
"imagine what it could do to a fiend!"
"We understand this, sir," Hubbard
nodded. "That's why
it's in the hands of the government. If this were ever to get out
to street-level, there could be a revolution."
"Of the worst sort," Mr. Luce said,
dropping his hands to his
side. "A revolution of the mind. It would compromise the total
order of things, in a manner most distasteful to men of our
stature. I see quite clearly how the Czars must have felt with the
Bolsheviks at their gates, clamoring. So hideous. No man is
really safe, is he Captain?"
Al Hubbard put his hand firmly on the
shoulder of Henry
Luce. "We'll have order as long as men in your position see
everything so clearly. Put on some good music, Mr. Luce, and
relax for the rest of the day. And when Clare gets home, tell her
what we just talked about. Women of her station should be
especially aware of the dangers of a democracy."
Mr. Luce nodded his head intently.
"Yes, I expect that's true.
A pleasure, Captain," he said, shaking Hubbard's hand.
"Really a most enlightening experience. Calion us anytime.
And please be sure to keep us in the loop," he winked.
Hubbard drove all night and late into
the next afternoon to
New Jersey, to the estate of Paul Castellano. A dozen capos
lined the long country driveway, faces impenetrable,
harboring against death the secrets of the Cosa Nostra. He
qUickly unstrapped the holster at his sideilocking it along with
the satchel full of LSD in a bomb-proof compartment under the
driver's seat. As he stepped from the Rolls; a man spun him
around, pressing his bare cheek to the hot roof of the car, while
another frisked him from neck to ankle.
"Enjoy your afternoon," the man said,
turnirlg him around
and smoothing his jacket.
"We'll do it again," the Captain
muttered UIlder his breath.
A capo escorted him into the house, then into a tiled waiting
area somewhere in the center of the extravagant home, where
a faiRt scent of basil made him realize he hadnt eaten breakfast.
He hadn't slept for days, hadn't been home for weeks, was
begiRnirlg to feel the effects of the constant traveling. Blocked
bowels, bad night's sleep: symptoms of a Company man.
A door swung open. Sam Giancana
emerged, his face
haggard and pale. "Let's get it on, Chief," he said to Hubbard.
"There just ain't gonna be any peace until the King and his
horseman are dead."
Hubbard walked into the Family's
cavernous expanse of the richest woods and finest fabrics. "The
President will be in Dallas next week. Are you ready?" he
A dapper Johnny Roselli lifted his
eyebrows and smiled like
a proud father. "We've got three Dallas police uniforms. The
chief and the Family go back to the Forties. I blessed his baby,"
he said, tilting his palms toward the ceiling. "We'll have,J>ne in
the tree, two on the groUIld behind the chain-link fence. When
the motorcade pulls almost to the freeway omamp, we nail the
fuck, one shot each, then split in a squad car that'll be sitting in
back of the train tracks. You just make sure your moRkey in the
Book Building starts shooting before we do."
Hubbard nodded. "We'll have the press
so confused, they
won't know who was involved. Intelligence will be suspected,
but so will the communists, the Birchers, and probably more
than a few jealous husbands. The paperwork on our decoy is so
scrambled it barely makes sense to me."
Giancana hung his head. "You know,
this whole thing is
tragic-that it came to this, where we're gORRa kill our Nations
leader. He fucked up a lotta opportunities, I'll-tell-you. Fucked
up a lotta boys on that beach. Fucked my girlfriend. He has
showed a complete lack of respect to the Family, and the time
that God did ordain to him on this Earth has just expired. I'll
probably even cry when it's all over and I see it on the news."
Hubbard shrugged. "Yeah, well, the
world's filled with
pain. But when enough people can't work with a man, and he
won't resign, the laws of nature. dictate that something will
give. Tell your boys to get in and get out. Sniper work, not an
The Captain walked to his car, looked
at his watch, and
decided to drive straight through to Maryland. The sun was
still high in the air, and he felt like testing out a new batch from
☼ ☼ ☼
After collecting their baggage, Vern
and Delores Moore
bought a local map at the Avis counter of San Francisco
International Airport. Never in their lives had they seen this
many people converged in one place, nor the colors of skin and
the accents brought to the crowded terminal.
"I had no idea there were so many
negroes here," Mrs.
Moore said, wide-eyed and slightly frightened.
"Just walk close to me;' Vern Moore
said sharply, cutting
through a crowd of afro"headed primitives in tight, nearly
fluorescent pants. "And keep your hand on your purse."
They walked to a parking garage and
tossed their bags into
the trunk of a rented white Plymouth, and then drove into the
clotted traffic toward La Honda.
"I want you to promise to be civil to
Franklin," Mrs. Moore
said, gazing out at the densely-packed hillsides. "He's your
son, and I won't let you resent him publicly for leaving the
dairy. It just wasn't what he wanted to do."
Vern Moore worked the pedal and brake
in a furious
"At least you're not having to
support him," she continued.
"At least he's not an alcoholic like the Berry's boy ... so sad
how he's turned out. At least-"
"Alrightgoddamnit!" he snapped. "I
won'tsay a word to the
kid. I'll hold everything inside and get cancer."
She squeezed her husband's hand.
"Just accept the choices
Franklin made as his own. Is that so hard to do?"
He shrugged, bolting through a bare
spot in traffic, gunning
the engine to fifty miles an hour, until a sea of red lights sent
him reaching for the brake. "I'll drop you off and grab a taxi
back to the airport. .. meet you at home. I'm no good for this
sort of thing."
"You will not," she said, leaning
over and kissing his cheek.
"Just slow down and don't get us killed."
When the congestion dissipated an
hour later, Vern and
Delores Moore traveled past Menlo Park, then turned east onto
La Honda Road, where music began to envelope them. To Vern
Moore, it sounded like noise. Everywhere, sharp notes from an
electric guitar sprang and jangled and hung like sheets on some
forgotten laundry line, then tweaked and twanged and turned
into some Godawful screeching rack-sack o' confusion.
"Must be these beatnik dropouts I
keep reading about,"
Vern grumbled. "Living like communists, all sharing each
others' kids. Prob'ly taking liberties with a pasture cow, too,"
Vern said, pulling the Plymouth into a roadside market and
stopped. "I'd better ask for directions before I get lost. Better
buy some beer, since we're here. It could be a long weekend."
He walked into the store and up to
the counter, where an
elderly man stood behind the cash register. "My son lives
around here. Franklin Moore? Address is 17194 La Honda
Road. Could you tell me how far I've got left?"
The man narrowed his eyes, spittle
forming on his lips as he
spoke. "Neighbors haven't had a night's rest in weeks, ever
since that house went to the crazies. All night, musiy and
screaming. They got wires and speakers and lights in the trees.
It's Halloween damn near every hour."
Vern retreated from the counter.
After loading his arms
with two twelve-packs of Olympia and a bottle of aspirin, he
slapped a ten-dollar bill on the counter and left without asking
for the change. "God help us, honey," he said, and pressed on
the gas, backing out onto La Honda Road.
The music grew louder in their ears,
as did the laughing and
what sounded like a thousand voices all talking over each
other. Vern followed the street numbers in descending order,
until his eyes rested on a big totem with a number that matched
the one in his head. A huge fluorescent banner stretched across
Ho! Ho! Alan Lo, Can't Bust Us for
What You Don't Know!
"What the hell's this?" Vern
wondered, parking the car at
the nearest open space, almost three houses away. He opened
the passenger door for his wife, and together they walked up
the street amidst a familiar scent of pines and chimney smoke,
toward the mad clangor occurring at 17194. A friendly dog
woofed at them and wagged its tail as they ducked under the
banner and made their way down the driveway of a Lincolnlog
house trimmed in the most ungodly shades of orange and
purple and some kind ofpinkish ... "J can't believe what I'm
seeing," Vern said.
An amplified voice loomed somewhere
south of Beaven.
"Welcome. A warm welcome for the kind folks who birthed
our Grampa. A little respect, please, for the out-of-towners.
Make room, make room. .. "
Vern looked to the sky and noticed a
Ham radio tower on
his son's property. Delores bent down to pet the black lab that
followed alongside, swinging its heavy tail.
"Sweet dog. Are you Franklin's?" she
wondered, looking at
its tag. "Your name's Bear."
Hearing its name, the dog woofed and
stood on its hind
Vern grabbed a young boy on the lawn
by the front of his
shirt. "Where's Franklin what's going on here somebody
explain this to me now!" The boy stared blankly for a few
seconds, then laughed crazily, until Vern gave up and tossedhim
roughly onto the lawn.
"HoI now," the voice rang from the
sky. "Violence is not our
scene. Everything can be solvedwith love." Clapping erupted
from the nearly eighty people milling around the lawn in
various stages of undress. "Spread love karma," the voice
suggested. "Do it now!"
Everywhere, people hugging and
kissing and ...
"Not here!" Delores said to a young,
blond couple on a
blanket, as the already naked young woman began to straddle
her boyfriend's face.
Vern.caught his wife's hand and
pulled her up the wooden
steps and into the house. "Franklin!? Boy? Are you there?"
A door opened and Lorraine came out
in a tight pair of jeans
and a cottony blouse tied up over her navel.
"He'll be out in a minute. I'm
Lorraine," she smiled. "We're
so glad you. could make the trip down."
Vern scanned thecutves of Lorraine's
perfect body. "Well,
uhhm," he swallowed thickly, "we don't get to see our son very
often, now that he's gone."
Grampa stepped out of the bedroom,
ever barechested, a
smiling Jared propped up in one arm. "Jared, these are your
new grandparents, Vern and Dolores."
Jared looked back at his adoptive
father and giggled.
"And would someone tell me why the
hell everyone is
calling you Grampa?" Vern complained. "Has ever'one here
lost their mind? And who's Alan Lo, and why is he trying to
bust you. What are you people doing out here? What's going
Lorraine dragged everybody into the
livingroom. "Let's sit
down. Would you like some coffee?" When nobody answered, .
she began to explain. "We don't like to talk about it, because if
you talk about it, you've stopped doing it. Right, honey?"
Grampa bunched up his lips and
nodded. "That's about as
good as I think it could ever be said."
Vern and Dolores looked at each
other. "Do what?" Vern
insisted. "Who are all these people? What's-"
"Franklin used to live in a very
special community, where
friends all came together," Lorraine said, setting Jared on her
knee. "When it was bulldozed a few months ago, FramkIin
bought this place and invited them to stay with us. You could
call it our extended family."
Vern shook his head. "I call it
freeloading. How many books
you figure you have to write to feed this many mouths?" he
said, pointing out the livingroom window to a yard full of
guests smoking and drinking and laying half-naked on the
front lawn. "And what if the next one don't sell as good as
Grampa got up and started for the
kitchen: "Guests can be
asked to leave."
Delores changed the subject abruptly.
"How long do you
think you'll be keeping Jared?" she asked Lorraine.
Lorraine looked at the little boy.
"We're his parents. Terry
called last week from Texas. Times are tough in ranching, and
he's living at home working on his dad's farm and writing his
novel. He said he'll always be uncle Terry."
Delores lowered her head. "Do you
think you two will be
getting married, now that you have a child?"
Lorraine looked at Grampa, at the
sheen of his balding
head, at the way his face glowed when he looked at her. A sea
of relationships swam through her head, none so comfortable
and fulfilling as the one she was in right now, at this very
moment.' "If he'll have me," she smiled at Grampa, who
plopped down beside her and kissed her forehead.
A billow of dust showered the fr0tlt
yard, followed by the
sound of rocks and dirt being crunched under a set 9f heavy
tires. A voice carried over all others, a sharp, fast-rambling
screed that caused a noticeable cheering on the front lawn. '~lt
seems apparent to me," the voice began, "that so many
perfectly tuned spirits could not gather together in such a
naturally beeautiŁullocale without acting in some small way to
the benefit of this sick and worrisome country of ours. What
would you say about that Gramps? Does that not just seem to
be a sort of logical operatin' fundamental?" Neal Cassady
strolled into the doorway, his T-shirt tight on his torso, chinos
low on the hip, fingering the handle .of a small sledgehammer
behind his back. He started to say something, but stepped back
with a crinkle in his leathery, sunburned forehead. "So as not to
disrupt your conversation, I'll just flip my hammer out here
with so many, uh-hem, pretty distractions it'll be a wonder if I
can keep from bustin' a foot. Just excuse ol' cosmic Neal, the
Great Interrupter, my gift to a serious world, ah-hem . .. "
Vern shrugged his shoulders. "I've
had enough. Son, is
there a saloon within walking distance. I'm liable to get pretty
drunk. Wouldn't want to run over any of your .. , friends,
Delores hung her head.
Grampa stood up and took the
patriarch outside. "Keep to
your right on the main road. About 300 yards," Grampa said.
"Watering hole's called AppleJacks. You start catchin' any
flack from the locals, tell'em you're stayin' with me. They'll
leave you alone," he promised. "One guy thought because I
was a writer, naturally I had to be queer.I taught him a few of
the things you taught me back behind the barn. Never did get
a doctor's bill."
Vern patted his son on the arm,
checked his wallet for cash,
then limped away down the road. As Grampa turned around,
facing the house, a sudden, hideous yowling came from the
heavens and knocked him onto all fours. Electronic crackling
followed, then the voice of a maniac:
"Top 'o the morning, La Honda, this
is Neal Cassady, known as
Dean Moriarty to some, but to the world, I am now Sir Speed Limit
broadcasting live from KLSD, La Honda, and it occurs to me ... "
Grampa looked up from his prone
position and watched
Neal rambling away inside the tiny control booth at the base of
the Ham radio station that had come with the house, and he
knew deep down in his marrow that everything would tum out
Darkness fell on La Honda around
5:45, and with it the
fluttering of bats and the first silence from radio tower in hours.
Flush out of methedrine, Neal had hopped into his Hudson and
driven into San Francisco to score some pussy and maybe a
shot of speed that he had begun taking every once in a while
when the capsules just didn't seem to have the right kick.
Lorraine sat talking to Delores in
the livingroom, while
Franklin tried to write a couple paragraphs of his new novel,
which wasn't coming along as ",asy as Rumble Creek. "He was
just the sweetest boy I'd ever seen," Lorraine smiled. "Sitting
on that cot in the Behavioral Ward"week after week, with who
knows what going into his arm, and he'd always smileJand
make me feel pretty. I chased him hard."
Delores smiled and sighed. "Do all
these people really like
Franklin? or are they just using him like Vernon said earlier?
You know, he was always the first to take in a stray animal."
Before Lorraine could answer, the
front door swUng open
and Vern stumbled in, smelling like formaldehyde. "Ahlm
goodatdarts," he said, licking his lips. "Rednecks thought they
could take me. Tol' 'em I'd poke out an eye 'fany one of 'em
started to hustle Vern Moore."
Delores got up and poured her husband
a tall glass of water.
"He's not a drinker," she apologized. "He's just been so
depressed since Franklin left the way he did. Without really
telling him goodbye. Okay, honey," she said to her husband,
"time for bed."
After tucking him in, Dolores
returned to the front room. "I
know they love each other, but they're both so stubborn. Vern
doesn't understand Franklin's need to write, and Franklin
didn't want to spend his life on a farm. What do you do?"
Lorraine smiled and yawned and ran
her fingers through a
tangled trellis. "I'll talk to him. Sometimes he listens to me.
Good night, mom. The rooster gets us up at daybreak, but you
two sleep as late as you want."
Grampa was naked and hunched over the
desk in their
bedroom, a pen in his hand, staring at a nearly blank sheet of
paper, his eyes glassy and dilated.
"Staying up all night again? Your dad
goes off and gets
loaded at a bar, and you hide in here all night imd eat acid. I
don't know which is worse. LSD is for enjoying relationships,
not this chronic introspection." She knelt down on the floor at
his feet and stared up at him. "I love you, Grampa. I'd do
anything for you. You've become my world. But I need you to
let me in."
Grampa laid the pen down and looked
at Lorraine. "I can't
explain it, darlin'. I just gotta go deeper. There's somethin' out
there that we can't see or touch, but it's there. It's a space where
the Superheroes live, and I'm notthere yet, but I know it's real."
She touched his bare leg with the
back of her fingers.
"Maybe it's time to quit. You've got Jared and me, a house, a
great first book. You've gota family. Let Neal and the rest of
them find their own way."
Grampa's face scrunched into a smile.
"This is my family,
babe. Neal and Carlo and you and Jared and every other
wayward soul camped out on a blanket right now on the front
lawn. That's where the energy is. When Neal's rappin' way out
on the radio and the music's pIayin' and y'get to where y'can't
tell whether the buzz is comin' from inside or whether it's just
all around you. That's where it begins. That's the launchpad. I'm
just tryin' to find out what's above us. Find out where God
Lorraine smiled the prettiest smile
remember outside of the movies. "Then, I'll help you find
Morning came to La Honda with a
numbing blare of sirens.
Grampa was still awake, hovering over his desk, foggy after a
sleepless 36 hours. He peered out the bedroom door as four
squad cars pulled onto the front lawn, their lights rotating. A
chorus of "hey, man!" came from the overnighters roused so
rudely from unquiet slumbers.
He walked to the front door and
opened it, saving the cops
the trouble of breaking it down, and himself the expense of
replacing it. "Mornin'," he smiled. "I was just about to make
some coffee. Care for a cup?"
A tall, sandy-haired officer pulled a
sheet of paper from his
shirt pocket. "We have a warrant signed by Judge Douglas D.
McKay of the Municipal Court of San Mateo to search the
premises ofl7194 La Honda Road, and to arrest anyone in or on
said property who is found to possess illicit substances held
therein. Are you Franklin Moore?"
Grampa nodded. "Good enough."
"As you are the owner of this
property and the subject of
this search, 1would suggest that you remain on the premises so
that we can inform you of the outcome." He motioned to his
deputies. "Go through every inch of this house."
Grampa held up his hands. "There's
some people sleepin' .
Can 1wake'em and let'em know what's goin' on, 'fore they get
woke up scared?"
The cop nodded. ''I'll escort you;
room by room."
Lorraine was already standing in the
hallway in her ro?e,
holding a still-sleeping Jared in her arms. "What is it?" she
Franklin shrugged. "Alan Lo, 1 'magine.
plannin' on ridin' me all the way to U.S. Attorney. All he's
gonna get's some Delysid, and there's no law against that yet."
Grampa and Lorraine walked into the
guest room and
nudged his parents. "Mom, Pop," she said, "some policeman
have come with a search warrant, and they're going to need to
look over the house. Why don't we go out for some breakfast."
The search ended four hours later,
five kids having been
carted off in a single paddy van for felonious possession of
marijuana. The house had been ransacked, but not destroyed.
News media arrived just after the police had, cameras
recording everything for the five o'clock broadcast. Grampa
was sitting in a lawn chair with his shirt off, tanning his face as
the last cop left the house. Cameras zoomed in on him.
The investigating officer knelt and
whispered in his ear,
beneath the audible range of the microphones. "I don't know
what Delysid does, buddy, but it won't be around for long."
Then the cop turned and addressed the media. "We have found
in our search several vials of a Swiss pharmaceutical called
Delysid, otherwise known as LSD-25, manufactured by
Sandoz Laboratories. This drug has not been identified by th~
Harrison Narcotics Act of 1923. Our,search did net substantial
quantities of marijuana on persons outside the house-"
Microphones were thrust Grampa's way,
as the cop
rambled feebly in the spirit of genuine defeat. "Why is District
Attorney Lo harassing-you?" asked one reporter.
Grampa shrugged and bared his teeth
to the sun. "Prol'ly
'cause he's havin' a tough time catchin' real criminals. Why
don't we ask him?" Grampa stared straight into the TV camera,
winking once. "What have we done to you, Mr. Lo? And if I am
just a nasty villain, why can't your boys get a fix on me."
The throng began laughing, then
chanting. "Hey, Hoi Alan
Lo, Can't Bust Us for What You Don't Know . .. Hey, Hoi . .. "
Following the newscast, scores of students, drifters and
dropouts converged on La Honda by foot, bus, and borrowed
car. Vern and Delores Moore caught an early plane back to
Portland that evening. Lorraine decided that Grampa was
"Men, thank you all for coming," Dr.
radiantly, surveying his feifdom, "I know it's been a long
drive." He uncorked a bottle of Cointreau and went around the
dinner table, pouring a couple drams. to each. Joining AI
Hubbard and General William Creasy were Frank Olson, chief
engineer in the Army's Biochemical Warfare Division, and Col.
Vincent Ronet, Olson's Division boss.
Gottfried picked up a glass. "It's
ours if we want it," he said,
downing the aperitif.
"Goddamnit, that's beautiful!"
Hubbard shouted, as the rest
of the MK-ULTRA crew emptied their glasses, watching
Hubbard shake off his cobwebs and start to dance. "Shelly's
worked like twelve bastards to put this project together,"
Hubbard said, shaking hands with Dr. Gottfried arid
simultaneously pouring himself another glass: "now how bad
do we want it? We're talking about the kind of freedorn our Father
Heaven meant for us to have!"
Captain Hubbard was positively alive,
and the rest of the
men knew it, and Sheldon Gottfried knew that the rest of the
men would be joining him very soon. The living room of the
Deep Creek Lodge began to vibrate and glow, a deep burnt
orange, illuminated by a crackling mound of elm and ten pairs
of glittering, dilated pupils. Suddenly, Captain Hubbard began
hugging each member of the group, one by one, tears in his
eyes. "It's the Brotherhood of Man!" Hubbard wailed. "The
most sacred goddamn thing in this world."
Dr. Gottfried relaxed and watched,
knowing nothing he
paid or did at this moment could influence his men any more
than the floor-show the Captain was putting on. In the
company of spies, he had truly grown to love Al Hubbard.
"LSD-25, men. .. nothing like it in
the world!" Hubbard
bellowed an hour later, finishing off the last bite of Key Lime
pie. The dinner of pheasant and asparagus tips had been
devoured, and the men were now relishing a fine lysergic glow,
along with their pie and coffee.
Sheldon Gottfried stood up and led
the MK-ULTRA tei'm
back into the living room, where each man nestled into" an
overstuffed leather chair, enjoying the warmth of the fire.
"Vince," Gottfried wondered, "tell me
how things are going
in the Biochemical Division."
Colonel Vince Ronet nodded
confidently, knowing that his
career was coming to a close with perhaps the most important
domestic military operation in American history. "We're about
to make General Creasy a happy man," Ronet said. "Our days
of relying on Sandoz will be over. We're within weeks of
synthesizing the ergot fungus, as well as a compound from the
ydge vine that we hope will yield significant telepathic
qualities. Why don't you tell us the details, Frank?" Col. Ronet
said, motioning to his top organic chemist.
Frank Olson shifted in his chair, and
then back again,
tapping the ground with his foot. His face was tense, and his
eyes appeared to be receding into their sockets. "I don't know
what you want from me, Vince," Olson muttered, "you know I
can't talk in public."
The smile left Vince Rbnet's mouth.
He pivoted to look at
Olson and recoiled at what he saw. The person atwhom he was
staTing was no longer his star biochemist-it seemed that a new
personality had entered into the host body, and the thought of
it filled him with horror.
"Frank," Ronet smiled lamely, "it's
just us. We're all going
to talk. Shelly just wants to know how the project is coming
Olson looked around the room, eyes
darting each to each.
"You think I'm distorting the formula," he muttered sullenly,
to no single recipient. "You think I'm a failure ... that I never
learned the code."
Sheldon Gottfried gotup and patted
Olson on the shoulder.
"You're a wonderful scientist, Frank, that's why we invited
Ronet waved Dr. Gottfried off, and
began talking to Olson.
"Frank,"he said, "how do you feel right now?"
Olson looked down at his lap.' "Like
I don't know
anything." Olson mumbled. "My wife should take the kids."
"Jesus," Hubbard said in disbelief.
"He's in for a bad ride."
Bill Creasy leaned over to the
Captain. "Ever seen this
Hubbard nodded. "But only in
certified crazies. Never in'a
guy like this."
"What do you do?"
Hubbard stared at Frank Olson, who
was wallowing deeper
and deeper in the pit of despair with every well-intentioned
show of support. "Usually shoot'em full of chlorpromazine.
Knock 'em out so they can't hurt themselves. They usually
don't remember much ... but like I said, I've never seen it
happen in someone like Frank."
"Opens up a can of worms, huh?"
Hubbard continued to focus on Olson.
"You better believe
After a few non sequitor-ridden
minutes with and
disjointed accusations, Al Hubbard reached into the leather
satchel at his waist and palmed a small vial. He walked over to
the bar and poured a bottle of beer and 150 milligrams of a
tranquilizer into a glass. "Here, Frank," Hubbard said, handing
him the beer. "No wonder you're feeling so low. These fairy
drinks will take the spine right out of a man."
The group laughed uneasily, none of
except for Bill Creasy, who was overcome with admiration for
the preparedness of Captain Al Hubbard, the traveling
pharmacopoeia. Frank looked hesitantly at Hubbard, then
took the beer from him and gulped until the glass was empty.
In minutes, Olson was reduced to a
catatonic stupor, with
only an occasional paranoid complaint, amongst which was his
desire not to see his family. "A grown man and a failure," he
Col. Ronet agreed to drive Olson back
to New York. By then,
he hoped the effect of the LSD would wear off.
"Is there someone else who can fill
in for Frank?" General
Creasy asked Ronet. "Someone we can trust?"
Vince Ronet thought for a moment,
then nodded. "It might
set us back a few weeks, but we'll keep it rolling."
Dr. Gottfried stood, his head
genuinely hung. "I owe you all
an apology," he said, his youthful face now ashen and wan, "I
shouldn't have assumed. I'll take full responsibility for
whatever happens to Frank Olson."
"Bullshit," Hubbard snorted. "This
meeting never happened.
Frank absorbed some acid in a lab experiment, and he
hallucinated this whole thing. Vince, you can verify that, cah't
you?" Hubbard asked a staring Col. Ronet, who, after several
"Well, then," Gottfried smiled.
"Let's be a little more careful
with our handling of dangerous chemicals in the future,men,"
he winked, and three cars drove away from the cabin, no
minutes taken, no recording kept, and nothing ever to place the
men of Project MK-ULTRA in Deep Creek, Maryland, on this
Saturday night except for the hazy recollection of one Frank
Olson, non compos mentis.
Two hours later, on a crowded
Manhattan street, Frank
Olson jumped out of Ronet's car and into some snarling
Mesopotamian nightmare. Everywhere, strangers stared at
him, peering into his vacuous soul, threatening to suck out the
code. He dropped into a crouch, his suit rumpled and damp,
steam rising from the back of his neck. People kicked at him and
called him freak.
Get the code.
Olson walked crab-ways behind a car,
staring at the traffic
along Park Avenue, ducked back to avoid thought-readings
issued by the flow of headlights. Without warning, he darted
into a stream of cars, causing a chorus of horns to jar his
scrambled nerves. Traffic came to a four-way standstill around
a sobbing, jabbering Frank Olson.
A man in a camel-hair overcoat
grabbed the chemist's arm
and helped him over to the sidewalk. "Let's go get a cup of
coffee," the man said. "It'll be alright."
♦ ♦ ♦
"Mary, it's Clare. You must bring
some LSD to bridge next
week, it seems the loveliest thing. I came horne from Kenyalast
Tuesday, and found Henry standing on a bench in front of-one
of the floodlights, waving his arms like a conductQr and
humming a pretty fair Ravel-just happy to be alive. Poor
bastard's tone-deaf like a rock 365-days a year. Oh, I tell you, it
♦ ♦ ♦
The phone rang in General Creasy's
study late Sunday
"Bill, Al Hubbard. We've got a
Creasy grimaced. "That paranoid
sonofabitch was a
security risk from the start. We should have sealed him in a
drum and sent him out with the Japanese tide five years ago."
"Well, we didn't," Hubbard growled,
"and he's losing it
right now and threatening to give us up. That scene in front of
the Waldorf already hit the papers. And now there's a reporter
from Time who's onto MK-ULTRA."
General Creasy took a short nip from
a glass of seltzer. "AI,
Frank Olson will commit suicide tonight."
"That'd be a Christmas present for
the rest of my goddarnn
life," Hubbard laughed cynically.
"The man's a mental case, Captain.
He'll never return to the
fold." The General paused to think. "I'll have two of my men
take him to the Statler Hotel tonight, on his way to Edgeview
tomorrow morning. And when my men fall asleep, he'll jump.
Hubbard laid down the receiver and
paced around his hotel
room, puffing on a Churchill. He picked up the phone again
and dialed a Chicago phone number from his "client list." A
man answered at just before midnight, his voice hushed.
Hubbard exhaled slowly. "Mr. Luce,
this is Al Hubbard. I
know it's late."
"Yes, it is. That must mean it's
Hubbard sat on the edge of the bed,
cigar between his
fingers. "Sir, I am about to reveal some classified information.
You will be the only private citizen in America who knows
about this, but I know I can trust you, and I need your help," he
said, hearing only silence on the other end. "The Company is
involved in a long-range human behavioral experiment using
LSD-25. One of our Army engineers accidentally ingested the
drug last night, had a very bad reaction, and a reporter for one
of your publications helped him through it. His name is Mark
Jessup, and we believe he knows enough to threaten the
viability of this project."
The phone was quiet for several
seconds. "Mr. Jessup. An
extraordinary journalist," Luce smiled audibly. ''I'll have to
check the records, but I believe he is in line for a promotion: to
our Hong Kong office. I am flattered that I could be of help. If I
had to choose another profession, I would be you."
"Give my love to your wife," Hubbard
said, hung up and
slept well for the first time in months.
♎ ♎ ♎
Col. Vincent Ronet arrived at the
Aerobiology Division lab
at 7:30 a.m. to find Frank Olson pacing nervously, wondering
why personnel were staying away. "I make them nervous,"
Olson muttered. ''I'm infecting the Division."
"Frank, why don't we go see someone.
I don't think you're
going to get a lot of work done today. Let's get you feeling good
about yourself again."
Olson stared at the flat, beige
carpet and finally nodded.
"Alright, Vince," he said. "I just don't want to embarrass
anybody. .. my wife, the Division."
The Colonel drove his top botanical
Edgeview. The drive was tedious. Ronet tried to avert Olson's
intense preoccupations with his own psyche by turning the
radio to an all-talk program, then toa classical statiqn, but
Olson complained bitterly.
"My thoughts are private, Vince,"
Olson grumbled. "You
just can't plunder my head like that."
Col. Ronet pushed down on the
accelerator, bending the
speedometer to 85 down the lonely thoroughfare to the CIA's
psychiatric hospital in upstate New York. ''I'm sorry, Frank,"
Ronet apologized, "you're right. I just didn't think."
Frank Olson nodded and stared out at
the misty landscape,
wondering if he'd ever see the drive back. The tension was
broken by a jangle from the car phone. Ronet looked at Frank,
who was muttering to himself, and picked up the receiver.
"Vince, Bill Creasy. We have a change
of plans. Frank
Olson's not cleared for Edgeview yet. His file just got there, and
the doctors need at least a day to see what the hell went wrong.
So wherever you are," Creasy said, "tum around and bring him
to the Statler Hotel on 12th downtown. We have a suite cleared
and secure. How's Frank now?"
Ronet turned to Olson, seeing the
body fit, but the mind
having taken indeterminate leave of its host. ''I'll be there in an
The bottle of rum was slowly losing
its battle to Creasy and
Dr. Ken Ashbrook, a psychiatrist brought down from
Edgeview. Little about the situation demanded a clear head.
"Ugly business," the General grunted, pouring himself another
short hit of dark rum. "Another one of our boys, food for the
Dr. Ashbrook rolled his shoulders and
stretched, the hotel
room beginning to take its toll on his spinal column. "I've got to
get some air, Bill."
The General shook his head. "They'll
be here anytime. Just
relax." Creasy snuffed his cigar into a gold-rimmed Statler
Hotel ashtray next to a Gideon Bible. "Proverbs 1:24: 'the
prosperity of fools shall destroy them.' It's just so clear, Doc.
The fool must die for wisdom to be."
Dr. Ashbrook stared at Creasy, but
wascut off from what he
was about to say by a nasty buzz emitted from somewhere in
the wall of the hotel room.
Creasy picked up the phone. "Yeah,
okay. I'll send someone
down." The General laid down the phone and turned to a tall,
thickly muscled man who had been sitting on the far bed,
staring silently out the 10th floor window above the city.
"They're in the lobby," Creasy said aloud.
The man stood up, twisting his torso
around once to the
right, and again to the left, sending a popcorn burst in each
direction. He smiled and left the room, walking to the elevator,
which he rode to the ground floor.
Vince Ronet saw a tall, blank-faced
man emerge from the
elevator, and the sight sent an anaesthetic shudder up the
length of his spine.
"Hello, Frank," the man smiled
professionally, "it's nice to
meet you." He then looked at Col. Ronet. "We'll take good care
of him. Goodnight." He put his arm firmly around Frank, who
was mumbling distractedly.
"Wait a minute," Ronet complained.
"How long are you
going to keep him? What ... I want to talk to Creasy."
The man shook his head. "Goodnight."
Vince Ronet grabbed for Frank, but
the man's hand rose up
and locked around the Colonel's face, squeezing his cheljks
until the bones creaked.
"I bet your wife's waiting up," the
man smiled, holding
onto Ronet's face. "Go home and make her happy." He
squeezed once more, then released his hold on the Colonel's
The elevator shot up to the 10th
floor. General Creasy stood
to greet Frank Olson as the doors parted. "Frank, welcome,"
Creasy smiled. "We're going to see that you get well again.
Anything you need, just tell me, and we'll get it for you.
Anything at all." He led both men back into the suite.
Frank scanned the room nervously.
"Where are they?"
Dr. Ashbrook glanced at the Captain.
"My wife, the kids, they're here," he
said, and then walked
into the bathroom and flung open the shower curtain. He
walked back into the room and slid the closet door on its track,
checking inside. Frank began to drop to his knees to look under
the bed, but Creasy held him upright.
"Now, goddamnit, Frank, you're going
to have to believe
us," the General said. "We know you don't want to see your
family right now. We respect you for that."
Frank stared at the floor. "They
can't love me like this. I'm
not what they need."
Dr. Ashbrook spoke tenderly to Frank.
"Why don't you tell
us when you started feeling this way."
"I've always known it," Frank moaned.
"I was never good
enough for her. Men look at her. She tries not to notice, but she
can't help it. The kids like playing at the neighbor's house."
The tall man sat down in the chair
next to the window.
"Clear night:' he said to himself.
"Frank," Creasy said, "remember back
to Friday, when you
were in the lab. Row were you feeling?"
Frank closed his eyes. "Like I didn't
know what I was doing.
Like Vince was going to break the news to me any day."
"What news?" Creasy wondered.
"That I'd have to be replaced," Frank
said. "With someone
who understands the code."
Dr. Ashbrook and the General looked
at each other. "Okay,
Frank," the Creasy said, "rest up. Tomorrow.morning we'll be
taking you to a quiet place in the country, where you can find
out what you really want to do. We'll help you get your
confidence back. I hope you don't. mind some company
tonight," he said, looking at the man near the window. "We
think it's better for you to have someone to talk to."
Frank shrugged his shoulders, and the
General and Dr.
Ashbrook left the room.
"You think he told anyone about Deep
asked Creasy in the hallway.
"I don't know," he said. "But if he
did, it was the last person
he'll ever tell."
KTWF signed off at 2:30 a.m., leaving
whining over seven or eight vertical bars: Frank turned it off.
He hadn't slept for three nights and didn't see it happening
soon. He picked up the Gideon Bible and thumbed through a
couple of Psalms. "What are you looking at," he said final1y to
the quiet man next to the window.
Theman got up, pushing his chair
away. '''See for yourself,"
he shrugged. As Frank approached the window, the man
grabbed him around the throat with one hand and through his
legs with the other, lifting him three feet off the ground. Before
Frank could think to scream, he felt his skull penetrating the
glass, and the cool night air caressing his body at fifty miles per
hour, until he succumbed to cement poisoning 120 feet below.
Kicking at some shards of glass in
the carpet, the man
picked up the phone.and dialed a number. "Sir, there's been a
suicide at the Statler Hotel. Frank Olson jumped out the
windciw after I fell asleep."
Dr. Gottfried breathed slowly. "You
must feel terrible," he
said. "Why don't you go home. General Creasy will handle it
from here. And. .. let the General answer any questions.
"Yes, sir," the man said, hung up,
☠ ☠ ☠
Al Hubbard drove into Dallas Saturday
night in a rented
Ford, the streets thick with Dallas police and nondescript men
in nondescript suits, communications cords hanging just
behind their ears. He parked in front of the Carousel Club,
flashed a badge for the bouncer and bypassed the strip show,
walking straight into the back office. The club stunk of cigar
and human excitement, but Jack Ruby's office added to iUhe
aroma of a large dachshund with a skin condition.
Ruby looked up from his desk. "AI?
Jesus Christ. What are
you doing here?"
Hubbard walked in and closed the
office door behind him.
"Jack, how are you doing? Weheard you could use some help."
Ruby stared at Hubbard. "Who's we?
Who's this we? I
haven't seen you in God knows how long, and you walk into
my club telling I need some help. Who's we?"
Hubbard shrugged and nodded, sucking
on his bottom lip.
"Look, Jack, some of us in the Company heard you might be in
trouble. We want to payoff your loansharks. Let us help you
see straight again. Hey, you know about this Oswald creep?"
Ruby shook his head quickly, reaching
for a bottle of
Preludin next to the mirror on the desk. He shook out three pills
and tossed them at the back of his throat. "I heard on the radio
he's some kind of commie. Likes Castro. I heard all kind of
things. Heard the John Birch Society copped Kennedy. I heard
it's Intelligence. Goddamn, this situation is givin' me angina. I
gotta make a living, but most of these starch-white Hoover
boys don't come to strip clubs. And they're scaring the paying
customers away. I got1:li mak", a living," Ruby grumbled.
Hubbard pulled a sOlid brick of
hundred dollar bills out of
his coat pocket. "Jack, we're going to give you a permanent
cure for your financial difficulties. We want to make the
Carousel Club a Dallas attraction. We want you to kill Lee .
Ruby wentnumb at the words. HiS heart
pounded with fear
and the amphetamines he had just begun to digest. We want you
"Here's five. thousand dollars,"
Hubbard said. "Payoff
some bills. There's another fifty thousand when it's done.
Oswald will be transferred from the Police Department to the
County Jail tomorrow at dawn. We've taken care of everything.
You'll walk right into the basement of the police station from
the Main Street exit. We'll leave the door open. You just walk in
with the news cameras. Two guards will bring Oswald out
from the elevator into the basement. Pop him and just lay down
. your gun. You'll be an international hero. Jack Ruby killed the
man who killed the President of the United States. Listen to it,
Jack. You'll be a hero."
Ruby's eyes fluttered, his skull
throbbing. A hero. "Who's
paying me-the Company or the Mob?"
Hubbard chuckled. "It doesn't matter,
Jack. It's all the same
to you. There's just one thing: I was never here. Nobody put
you up to this, nobody paid you. We'll take care of you at the
trial, but not if you give us up. Nobody will believe you,
anyway. I don't exist. I was never here."
Ruby gripped the package of hundreds
in his swollen,
shaking hands. An international hero. A famous attraction. Jack
The Captain patted Ruby's dachshund,
Sheba, on the head.
"You're going to be eating well, honey. Tomorrow before
dawn, Jack, you're going to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. You'll
have your picture on the front page of every newSpaper on the
face of this planet. You'll be the most famous person alive."
☝ ☝ ☝
George Hunter White walked steadily
through the cold
New York streets, looking over his shoulder every few minutes
and checking his watch. He sped up and ducked into the
downtown branch of Manufacturers Hanover and stood
impatiently in line to open his safety deposit box. After a few
minutes, he was escorted by a pretty young woman to an
internal corridor within the bank.
"Will you be long, Mr. Rodriguez?"
she wondered, turning
the double security lock in tandem with George White.
He opened the box, quickly palming a
roll of film and
dropping it into his jacket's inside pocket, then shook his head.
"Done. Always a pleasure, Miss," he smiled, then strode out of
the bank. He watched sunset faIling on the Big Apple, while
blowing his warm breath into his hands and scanning the street
for unmarked cars or faces he knew to be InteIligence. He saw
nothing and smiled to himself: Fuck Earl Warren-disgrace
couldn't happen to a more worthy bastard. White walked
down Fourth Avenue toward the Hilton, thinking about recent
Supreme Court decisions that had rapidly and inexorably
whittled away the powers of his beloved Bureau.
George White nodded at the doorman,
then took the
elevator to the twentieth floor. The hall was empty as he turned
right. He placed his key into the lock of 2013 and walked in to
find the regular plainclothes Bureau agent, about ten 'Y1"ars
younger than himself but with the same alcoholic shadow,
watching Sheila masturbate through the two-way mirror in the
other suite. "Isn't she something?" White chuckled.
The agent nodded. "She does this for
me every day. Then
she'll take on another john. I wish my wife had this kind of
White took off his coat and slung it
across the bed. "Hell, I
wish I had that much energy."
The agent smiled. "Hey, I polished
off the rest of the scotch,
and the fridge is looking pretty lonely. I'm going to call room
service to bring up some reinforcements. What do you need?"
White thought for a second. A second
life in Paraguay
sounded about right, but he knew his bank account couldn't
sustain him for over six months. "A couple roast beefs on
sourdough," he said, "a six-pack of something dark and
German- and some more scotch. How many guys has she had
The agent looked down at his notepad.
uneventful'", two of them low-level management- one for a
print shop next door, the other at a Mercedes dealership. The
other guy was a supervisor in County Records. I tagged him
and sent for his employment file. Not a big fry, but someone
like that could get me some information on a brownstone in the
City if I could ever convince my wife to move from Queens.
Goddamned Wop blood is thicker than our walls."
George slapped him on the arm. "Get
out of here. Go home
and show her who's boss."
The agent nodded. "Could be worse. At
least she lets me tell
her about Sheila. Take care, George."
White walked the agent to the door,
then chained it shut and
picked up the phone. He pulled out the film along with Justice
Warren's home phone number, which he had gotten from
another agent for a tape ofSheila. Aknock at the door jarred his
nerves. He pulled his snub-nosed .38 from the holster at his
side, cocked it lI1ld walked to the door. "Who the fuck is it?"
"It's room service, sir."
"Oh, yeah, sorry," White shrugged to
himself, and opened
the door. He grabbed the heavy tray from a young, oliveskinneA
kitchen porter, then told the lad to scram. White put
the six bottles of German bock in the refrigerator, along with
the sandwiches. The scotch arrived in an elegant, cut-crystal
decanter. He removed the top and poured three fingers into a
tumbler. Picking up the receiver, he let out a deep breath, then
tossed the scotch down his throat in one gluttonous gulp. A
man answered the phone on the other end.
"Justice Warren?" White mumbled.
"Yes, and who is this?"
"Sir, I'm in possession of a roll of
film that you're going to
want back," White said, feeling a sharp, dyspeptic knot in his
"Who the hell is this?"
White swallowed hard. "I've got you
with a black prostitute
at the New York Hilton, and you're going to have to crawl on
your belly and beg before you can retrieve the negatives."
At first, the phone went silent. Then
a voice. "What can I do
for you, sir?" Warren asked smoothly. "Anything at all."
White grabbed his stomach, the knot
constricting, his eyes
bulging in their sockets. "I'll be in touch," he gasped, then
dropped the receiver onto its axis. "Sonofabitch," he coughed.
He grabbed for the phone and tried to dial the hotel operator,
biltl:he pressure in his vessels began to weigh on the occipital
lobe, shutting down his eyesight. "Fucking poison," he
grimaced. Be managed to lift the receiver, pulling it to his ear,
Qut the line was dead. "Oh, well," he sighed, then succumbed to
a concoction of three uniquely fatal and untraceable synthetic
creations from the cookbook of Dr. Sheldon Gottfried.
The coroner ruled it a simple heart
attack. J. Edgar Hoover
opted against an investigation. Operation Midnight Climax
began and ended with George Hunter White.
Al Hubbard and Sheldon Gottfried
signed in at the
reception desk of Cedars Sinai under assumed names. They
walked up a long antiseptic corridor to room B321 in the
oncology ward. Signs bearing "Caution: Oxygen in Use" and .
"No Smoking" hung as reminders on the door, Aldous Huxley
laying semi-conscious on a hospital bed, his veins long-since
collapsed, two prongs of a respirator in his nostrils and an IV
tube shunted in through his chest. The right side of his neck\\"as
padded heavily in gauze to stave off infection in an atea
already eaten away by lymphoma.
Dr. Gottfried shook his head. "I
remember the first time I
met him. The Company was trying to find a way to get rid pf
PatriceLumumba in the Congo. Huxley called me at home one
evening. I'll never forget his voice. It sounded like frozen
velvet. He said 'You will find a marvelous plant indigenous to
the region. Cathicarus ptyllarus. Its stamens are among the most
toxic substance known to man. All good fortunes to you,
Shelly: Then he hung up. The natives killed Lumumba before
we could. We tried the stuff out on an elephant, though, a
couple months later. Less than a milligram, killed it in seconds.
Bill Creasy still thinks he did it with a shot of speed. I've never
Hubbard leaned down over Huxley and
gripped his hand.
"Can you hear me, Aldous? Squeeze if you can."
Huxley's cold, wrinkled hand
contracted weakly, then
relaxed. His breaths were soft and shallow; dark indigo patches
dotted his neck and forehead, indicating the onset of death. His
lips opened and he began to whisper. "P-p-pen."
Hubbard scrambled for a pen and
paper, and placed both
into Huxley's fingers. On the pad, a frazzled script emerged:
"LSD. Try it 100mm im."
Cottfried raised his dark eyebrows.
"Now? He wants an
injection of LSD now?!"
The Captain reached into the insiqe
pocket of his jacket and
pulled out a vial of Delysid. "He told me about this before he
got too sick. Full consciousness at the time of death. It's an
ancient Tibetan ritual in the Book of the Dead. He told me he
wants to go out of this life and into the next aware .of
Dr. Gottfried just smiled. "There
will never be another like
him. He just made Aldous with His own hands."
Hubbard filled a syringe with 100
micrograms of LSD and
sunk it deep into Huxley's atrophied thigh. A young orderly
walked into the room jabbering disjointedly about President
Kennedy. Hubbard rushed the kid out into the hall. "There's a
man dying in there. Do you really think he needs that kind of
news? Get out of here!"
The kid scampered away with an
armload of linens.
Hubbard walked to the lounge, which was silent and crowcj.ed
with nearly every nurse and doctor in the wing. Walter
Cronkite's grieving face filled the screen: "Lee Harvey Oswald
was arrested inside the Texas Theater carrying a loaded .38 caliber
pistol, just hours after the President was shot. He is believed to
killed Officer J. D. Tippit when the policeman stopped to question
Oswald less than thirty minutes after Oswald left the Dallas School
Book D%sitory. Oswald is ro/0rted .to be. an ex-Milrine, who
defected to the Soviet Union several years ago; since his return to
United States it's ro/0rted that he has been involved in pro-Castro
activities. Details on Mr. Oswald are very sparse, but we will
continue to bring you information as it comes in. Again, President
John F. Kennedy has been shot, he is believed to be dead, though no
official word has been released yet. Witnesses say he was wounded
several times in the head and neck, and that it would be a miracle
were still alive."
Hubbard walked silently back into
Huxley's room, his face
as stone. "It's over," he whispered to Gottfried. "Tomorrow
Oswald gets plugged, and nobody ever knows the truth."
Aldous Huxley's face had taken on the
very mask of
tranquility; a slight upturn at each comer of the mouth,
Hubbard leaned over the special man,
and began reciting
from memory the Book of the Dead, confidently and with
measured force: "Oh, nobly born! Forward you go, toward the
light. Free, unbound, unafraid, without regrets, looking only
forWard, the past now complete, your purposes here on this
earth accomplished, your work done, forward toward the light ..."
At six twenty p.m., when the blood
had ceased flowing
through Huxley's veins, Al Hubbard and Sheldon Gottfried sat
down and cried like children.
The atmosphere at The Drog Store on
the comer of Haight
and Ashbury was restive. A "Closed" sign hung on the front
door, and everyone inside was charged on a high-voltage
coffee. Every so often a jar of benzedrine would make the
rounds, and the restless hippies would hunker down for
another wave of bad vibes.
Bernardine Dohm paced around the
tables, ruffling ;her
wild red hair with a hand, her scalp tingling whenever~the
speed started kicking in again. "50 what are our alternatives?
The way I see it we can play dead for another generation, sit
back and watch another President get murdered, so we can get
drafted into another war, die for this fucked up government
like all of our good ancestors, or we can start sending messages.
First we bomb the local ROTC building. Then we start in on the
banks that support the war. Peace and love just aren't buyin' it,
Carlo Marx shook his .head and smiled
through a tangled
mass of greying whiskers. He clicked his finger cymbals as he
sat with a group of dewy-eyed coeds. "Let's hand out copies of
the Kama Sutra. Teach our leaders how to make love, not war."
The women giggled. "Make love, not
war, that's right on!"
Dohm spat at their table. "It's
people like you who'll put us
back into slavery. I'm glad we're hearing this. I'm declaring
war on the United States Government. Everybody who's with
me, meet back here tonight at 8:00. I hope the rest of you get
fucked in the ass by your beloved Uncle Sam."
Lorraine Devlin stood up and walked
over to Carlo's table.
"She's right," she said softly. "You've tried so hard for so many
years to make peace, but it's just not working. Sometimes you
have to light a small fire to stop something vastly more
dangerous. Ilillow you don't wantto hear this, but I'm going to
help Bemardine. I'm going to try to convince Franklin to do
something, too. I want all of us fighting as a unit."
Carlo stood dumbfounded at his table.
"Let's go for a walk,"
he said finally.
A sturdy wind cut through San
Francisco, whipping Carlo's
tunic like sheets on a line. A sense of general resignation hung
in the air, of apathy, of defeat. "I'm very tired, my sweet" Carlo
smiled, "so very tired." He sat down on a grimy curb and began
to sob. "Can you smell it?" he asked Lorraine. "The smell of
death is around us today. The President has committed us in
Vietnam. My friends have just committed the rest of us on our
ownsoil. It's all wrong, and I just know that some of our closest,
dearest friends will not live to tell their children about this
Lorraine sat down next to him. "I
remember the day I met
you. You were reading from Ptomaine Blues at a little bookstore
over on lOlst It was July of '58, I remember because it was the
first summer my parents had let me actually live on my own.,
stay at Columbia and really earn my own money. I was
working the deli counter at Nathan's, the token shiksa. I was so
impressed that someone as obviously jaded as you appeared to
be could also be so very serene and comfortable with himself."
Carlo managed a fractured laugh and wiped his long, white
sleeve agair1st his eyes. "That is one of the sweetest things I've
"I believe in everything you do,
Carlo. You will always be
true in my eyes. But soon we'll see an insurrection. And when
the bombs begin going off, anyone not already enlisted will be
considered a spy."
Carlo stared incredulously. "I
remember meetiil.g you, too,"
he, said. "Your eyes spoke to me like no other woman's since
my mother, God rest her schizophrenic soul. You came up after
the reading and volunteered to go to bed with me, as direct
proof, how did it go . . . that a man such as myself was simply
confused, and had not had a sufficiently pleasing sexual
experience with a woman to facilitate a heterosexual
orientation. 1found, and to this day still find, that argument to
be among the most persuasive. You were bright and lovely,
and 1 hope that you've arrived at these angry conclusions on
Lorraine nodded. "After Kennedy was
shot, 1turned in my
Zen for Sun Tzu. A beautiful cocoon of peace was penetrated in
Dallas, Carlo. It has continued to unravel to the point that the
only alternative left for me is to learn of our enemies; to learn
the art of war."
The wind whirled Carlo's tunic about
his knees. He looked
out onto the gentle San Francisco cityscape, and watched a
grinning young black man bopping along the sidewalk,
snapping his fingers and singing a tune Carlo recognized as
insanity. "To protect his right to sing as loud and crazy as he
could ever want," Carlo said, pointing to the youthful spade,
"I'll do anything you need."
The black freak turned and stared at
Carlo. "I used to be
Jesus, once. Now I's just Jimmy ... Jimmymuthafucka!!"
Carlo closed his eyes and pressed his
palms together and
bowed before his crazed soul brother, and chanted a mantra for
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