The martyrs walk hand in hand
into the arena;
they are crucified alone.
✠ maltese cross
✡ star of david
Someone they called Pigpen stood
leaning against the
microphone stand, his eyes pressed shut, the tips of his
black goatee tickling the J:!1.esh screen as he growled out
some old Howlin' Wolf blues at the top of his ragged voice. In
his black leather vest, he looked like a criminal, and the Hell's
Angels called him 'brother' and gave him honorary colors. The
guitarist shook his shaggy head and sent a piercing triadic
floating into the air, a gleaming cobalt strand that hovered until
the next one replaced it, like skywriting, like nothing the
hundred thousand had ever seen. Across Golden Gate Park,
students and hippies weaved and danced and sat on the grass
in some Mondrian daydream, sucking the marrow out of .
marijuana cigarettes, groovin'.
Tiny and Big Frank and a dozen or so
Angels mixed freely
with the crowd, talking about Grampa and cadging free beers
from unattended coolers ~henever they could. Tiny walked
over to a dark-haired woman he thought he recognized, with a
spare beer in his fist and a grin on his face. "Hey, beautiful," he
said, slinging his forearm around her waist. "Thought I might
cool your thirst."
Lorraine stared at Tiny through her
you. That was very nice." She cracked the beer and swallowed
half of it in a couple gulps. "Do you know Grampa?"
Tiny backed up a half step. "You're
the old man's old lady."
Lorraine smiled. "For as long as he
wants me to be. Have
any of you tried Mosely's new acid?"
Tiny shook his head and grinned.
"Never again in public,
rna'am. The stuff's a miracle, but it gets guys like us in trouble
real quick. Some things you just got a feel for. Dope and bennies
never got us into that much trouble."
Pigpen had begun stomping his booted
heel at the front of
the stage, wailing out his version of "Smokestack Lightning,"
when a black woman with an afro big as the open sky broke
"Sing it, baby!" she yelled, jumping
up and down. "Sing it for
all the brothers."
Tiny leaned over to Lorraine. "Looks
like the spade's got it
out for Pig."
The woman continued shrieking, and
jumped up on the
stage and took Pigpen in her arms and twirled him around, and
watched him melt limply, with the first smile on his face
anybody could remember seeing in public.
"We're gonna take a long break,"
Pigpen mumbled into the
microphone, then walked off the stage in more or less midsong,
while the rest of the band broke into a jam that seemed to
light a fire deep down in the core of crowd. A caricature of
Grampa's venerable head flew in the breeze high above the
stage on a huge, white banner.
A woman looked up at the ensign and
smiled to her
boyfriend. "Wouldn't it be great if he would talk right now? If
he would just walk up there and say it was all a joke," the girl
said, beginning to cry. "It's never going to be the same. I heard
they're making him sell La Honda. All those freaky times, it's
Lorraine looked around the multitudes
and saw news
cameras and reporters interviewing anyone who felt like
talking, and felt a reflexive tightening in her stomach.
"Why do you think Franklin Moore is
in prison today?":
'''Cause he liked to party,
"It's a conspiracy against anyone
"They're making an example out of
"A vote for Grampa is a vote for
"Excuse me," Lorraine said, handing
Tiny the rest of her
beer. She squeezed her way through the throng, noticing a
scattering of uniformed policemen dispersing from the edge of
the Park. The police closed in as the band faced off with each
other, sweating ecstatically, oblivious to anything beyond their
Muse. Bags of grass and white capsules were snatched up, the
ends of batons connected against the thighs and cheekbones of
those who protested. Lorraine walked away from the scene
without a scathing, as scars are never visible when concealed.
♦ ♦ ♦
The impression from the vanquished
overhead bulb carried
Grampa through the darkness to a netherworld, away from
prison, away from suffering. Until dawn, he was king and his
subjects were happy. He wrestled with those who sought to
arrest his soul. Each night, he would drive away evil. Each day,
he would wake exhausted. Always he would write with a pen
warmed up in Hell.
♦ ♦ ♦
A man stood in front of an unmarked
door at the side of a
beige building somewhere east of Palo Alto. He took Lorraine's
hand in a three-part grip, and opened the door for her. Letting
her join the eleven men and women seated silently in the bare
room, the guard locked the door behind her.
"We're all here," said a red-haired
woman Lorraine knew
only as Bernardine. "Now how do we make the United States
Government die like the pigs they really are? Who wants to
pump,the first bullet into a Congressman?"
The eleven, including Lorraine, each
raised an arm, some
grinning, some somber.
"That's what it's going to take, I
hope you know. If you're
not willing to go home right now and kill your parents, you
don't have what it takes to be a revolutionary." Bernardine
Dohrn sureyed the faces in the group, registering to each the
degree of candor in their eyes. "Since our main beef is with the
military, it's only logical that we blow up their recruitment
offices. We'll spare the Coast Guard," she smirked. "They're
harmless dupes. We start tonight at the Marines station on 31st
and Marshall in Oakland. Kenny, do you have everything you
A thin man in jeans and sandals
looked up and nodded.
"That little trailer won't see the morning."
Bernardine stared at Lorraine.
"You're going to drive the
car. Have you ever blown something up, Lorraine?"
Lorraine smiled sharply. "You have no
Bernardine lit a cigarette. "We'll
test the reaction, and then
we'll do it again, and again, and again, until Washington
decides they want to listen to us. It's nation time, comrades."
Lorraine checked on Jared one last
time and left her
condominium at just after 1:00 a.m., driving in the fog to an
Hertz rental counter near the Oakland airport, where a
clerk sat drinking coffee and reading from a novel. "I'd like a
car for the weekend," she said, as the clerk jumped up.
"Something mid-sized, with a good heater."
The clerk smiled. "We have a Cutlass
on special. Would you
like to see it?"
She shook her head. "I'll take it. A
friend will be picking up
my car later. Is it safe to leave it in the lot?"
The clerk switched on an extra set of
lights to the side of the
building, where Lorraine's blue Volvo sat, where Lorraine
wished she could sit until the light of moming. She took the
keys to the rental and drove to the end of a darkened cul-de-sac.
The headlights of a nearby car flickered once. Lorraine
returned the sign and pulled next to the car. Bernardine rolled
down the driver's window and nodded silently as Kenny
jettisoned the back seat with a duffelbag and got into the rented
"The station is on a big piece of
empty lot," Kenny reported.
"Nothing next to it. The whole area's dark after about 1:30.
What time is it now?"
Lorraine looked at her watch. "1:45."
"Pull around the back of the trailer.
Right here. I'll be back in
The door opened, and Kenny walked low
in a crouch to the
rear of the U.S. Marines Recruitment Depot #4467. He
unzipped the duffelbag and pulled out the timer and three
sticks of dynamite fastened to a suction cup, which he affixed to
a flat wall of sheet metal.
The passenger door opened again.
"That's it," Kenny
smiled. His dimples made her flash to Grampa. "In five
minutes, it's scorched earth. Just drive like you were going off
Lorraine drove for a few blocks, then
shut off the. headlights "
and turned onto a frontage road in a very black neighborhood
with a view of the depot trailer. Kenny counted time, as she
stared breathlessly out the back window, but neither were
prepared for the blast that sent flaming shards a quarter-mile
into the air and lit up the foggy night like a great, violent
"Get going," Kenny said. "They'll
seal off this whole place
in twenty minutes."
Lorraine sped through the frontage
road and onto the
freeway, where she again turned on her headlights. "I want to
make the call. It'll be more shocking coming from a woman."
She eased into a gas station and let Kenny check the oil, while
she phoned the Oakland Police Department. "Is a bombing an
emergency?" she said. "Then this is an emergency. The bomb
that just went off at the Marines Recruitment center was
discharged by the Weatherbureau. Wewant an immediate end
to the illegal and immoral action by our armed forces in Viet
Nam. America can expect more incidents like this until
President Johnson successfully orders the removal of all
invasive forces. Have a pleasant night," she said, and walked
back to the idling Cutlass.
"Where to?" Kenny said.
"My car's parked at Hertz next to the
airport. Drive it back
to my condo, and we'll swap," she said. "Let's park this one in
my garage for a couple nights, in case someone saw us."
Lorraine pulled to the rear of the
rental agency, then drove.
quickly away as Kenny unlocked the blue Volvo and followed
the black Cutlass toward Menlo Park. He drove into the
complex and parked in a visitor's slot as a garage door closed.
"We're a good team," Kenny smiled.
Lorraine stared into his blue eyes,
then looked down. "Let
me call you a cab. I'd let you sleep on the couch-but I don't
"I wouldn't feel right about it,
either," Kenny said, leaning
closer, pulling Lorraine toward him, kissing her softly on the
mouth. The breath from her nose warmed his cheek, sending a
ripple over the surface of his skin.
She continued kissing him, then
pulled away, smiling to
herself through the tears. "He would understand. I swear to
God he would, but I just can't imagine --"
"Then it must be love," Kenny said,
kissing her once more,
this time on the cheek, and walked to the curb to wait for a taxi,
which came in minutes.
Lorraine opened the door to the
second bedroom and found
Jared laying on his side, still, like she had never left. She picked
up the phone and called Carlo Marx, but the number had been
disconnected. She called the operator, who gave her a new
number, then redialed.
"Carlo, it's Lorraine."
"Oh, princess. 1got home from a late
dinner in the City and
opened a letter from Neal that I'm still trying to decode. He's
gone to some dog-town in Mexico to find work as a rail car
hand and break himself of amphetamines. 1 want him here,
Lorraine. When he dies, 1want to be able to hold him. I've been
near him for almost twenty years."
Lorraine twisted some hair between
her fingers unconsciously.
"Carlo, when 1 say this, it's because 1 love you. The
better qualities of f'Jeal Cassady exist only in the memory. 1
know you were close. When Neal came to La Honda, he and
Franklin were like atoms split from the same core. But if Neal is
going to survive, the best place for him now is away from all of
us. There's nothing you can do but pray."
Lorraine heard silence, then a
muffled laughter. "It's funny
you should bring up the matter of prayer. Neal seems to have
found some solace in Christian mysticism, primitive as it may
be. Would you say a prayer for Neal?"
"I've been so rude," Carlo said. "You
called me at three
o'clock in the morning, and 1 haven't done any listening.
What's on your mind?"
"Just Franklin," she said. "Always
Franklin. How does he
seem to you?"
"Prison's an unreal place, Lorraine.
I've been there, and 1
think our Grampa is handling it as. well as anyone could. He
commands respect, he gets left alone. He reads and writes and
sleeps when he absolutely needs to. Are you going to wait for
Her hands spasmed uncontrollably.
"I've done a terrible
thing tonight, Carlo. The bombing in Oakland. .. that was my
voice the police department heard."
"I thought it might have been," he
said gleefully, "though 1
don't know why. 1wish 1could have been with you. 1suppose
it's too late to join the Resistance?"
Lorraine nodded to herself. "Much.
And I'm actually very
glad you're not involved."
Carlo laughed wkkedly. "Oh, but 1 am.
In less than, Lord,
seven hours, 1 will arrive at the Getty estate in my. most
outlandish paramilitary garb, to sign copies of Red Bandana. It
will be like the old days for which 1wax continually. I'm using
,this as a forum for Grampa's pardoI:\. The press will eat it alive.
'We'll all make it through this, somehow, Lorraine. 1 suppose
✞ ✞ ✞
Carlo walked into 180 Nob Hill Place
like Diogenes through
the ranks of Alexander, as conscious of his woolly hair and
whiskers and red beret as a nocturnal hoimd of itself sniffing
through piles of trash on some unlit street on the Lower East
Side. Women in chiffon dresses murmured to their husbands
and escorts, who nodded and patted the inside pockets of their
dinner jackets. Carlo walked silently to a table of hors
d'oeuvres and filled his mouth with foie gras on water crackers,
behaving like the beast they expected him to be.
Harve Serengeti patted Carlo on the
shoulder and leaned
close. "Let it all out. These people are kinky. If they weren't
here tonight, they'd be off getting flogged in an expensive
parlor. You're why they're here."
"Radical chic," Carlo smiled. "I have
A string quartet played Vivaldi's La
Cetra in the foyer.
Carlo dreamed of a private orgy in the mirrored, marble
ballroom. Women began streaming to him, forgiving or
favoring him for his crumby beard, with pens outstretched,
palpitating for an autograph on their limited edition volumes
of Red Bandana.
"We've always supported the Cause,"
winked a dashing
blonde in her mid-forties. "My husband used to drink with
"Outstanding," Carlo smiled,
scrawling his "Signature on
the cover. "Stay around to sign the petition."
"Wouldn't miss it," she nodded.
Woman after woman collared Carlo, who
their saccharine compliments like codeine syrup and came up
asking for more. Harve tapped the face of his watch,
summoning the poet to the lectern.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have the
privilege tonight of
meeting an American bard who has done more for the craft
than anyone since the Good Gray Ghost. He has won every
major award our nation has to offer-from a Guggenheim
Fellowship to the Bollingen Prize. He is an impassioned friend
of the worker, the laborer, the underdog. Would you please
welcome the next Nobel Laureate, the author of Red Bandana,
Carlo stepped to the microphone,
amidst a genteel
applause. Opening his original manuscript, he placed a pair of
reading lenses over his bulbous nose artd read from page 32, a
passage called American Blues:
I passed a sanitary landfill on my way
horne from the doctor'5 office "'yesterday.
I've had gonorrhoea before,
but the warts are something
new, a hindrance to the good
fucking I expect £rarna twelveyear
old Arab boy. And since I have
such a houseguest, I sought out a second
opinion. This doctor came highly
recommended a veteran schmecker, a
scriptwriter of the first order.
Perhaps he would give me a cure, so
I could get back to some of that brown-skinned
My landlady-the one with the long-running
herpetic sore--tossed me out to the wolves
last night. I was raving the praises of Mao and
Fidel, was two months behind on my rent, she
says. I don't remember a thing, but for the dozens
of used rubbers on my floor. I looked at them like
a woman might a beautiful engagement ring,
and with much the same contentment. The streets
came cold and unexpected, and I wondered
if even Kruschev would deprive a native son
of his cold-water Harlem squalor. I'd suck his
cock right now, the bald-headed villain, if I
thought it could get me back my place
amongst the roaches.
By the twelfth Psalm, and nearly the
same number of stiff
drinks, the society matrons were hooting and clamoring for
more sex, more communism, more of what made Carlo Marx
the belle of this ball.
"Drive him home!" hollered the
literary editor of Women's
Carlo grinned and closed the reading
with the last stanzas
from Psalm 69: "I want to know how men fuck behind the Iron
Curtain / I want to be Ambassador."
A flashing of bulbs and a rush of
drunken compliments met
Carlo Marx as he closed his manuscript and took off his reading
glasses, and was swept away for a moment, thinking of Jack -- sweet
Jack-and how the bitch-goddess of fame was crueler to
some than to others. And he thought of Neal, who lived in the
shadow of all that Jack wrote, an idiot of lore, gone now,
kicking the ashes in Mexico, living out life's last chords on the
worn circuits of his own nervous system. And he heard
somebody asking something, beseeching-heard it floating
and carrying like a flute in the ears of the mystic.
"What can we do?" the voice asked
Carlo brought his mouth to rest on
the microphone. He
parted his lips. "See that Franklin Moore goes free. I am old, he
is new. Learn from him."
At half past twelve, the switchboard
to the Governor's
office lit up like a yule-tide wreath, and Washington was again
awakened, and in Grampa's dream he was young again and
smelling the fresh-cut hay, and in this dream, he smiled and felt
his father's fingers squeeze back.
♎ ♎ ♎
It had been weeks since Bill Creasy
had seen the sun. His
pale, waxy skin reminded Dr. Gottfried of the many cadavers
he had probed in the course of service. The two men walked
silently down the corridors of Langley, to a conference room
somewhere south of the cluster of rooms once designated to
MK-ULTRA, but which were now assigned new functions,
functions to which General Creasy was no longer privileged.
Dr. Gottfried unlocked a door and
closed if behind them as
they entered. "Sit down, Bill. Would you like some coffee?"
"Do you want my security pass?"
Creasy said, reaching for
his wallet. "Here, take it. What else do you need from me?"
Gottfried leaned across the table and
smiled. "It's not over,
General. Franklin Moore will be released from the state facility
in Contra Costa next week, and we need your help."
Creasy stiffened. "Released?"
Gottfried poured two cups of coffee
from a pot near the
center of the oval table. "Last week in San Francisco, the poet
Carlo Marx was honored at the Getty estate for his new work.
We sent a contract agent and his wife to socialize, to donate
money to the Red cause. Our agent is one of the biggest names
in Hollywood; he's been on Company payroll for years, and he
phoned us after this reception. It seems that our Franklin
Moore is cause celebre in America's arts community. They say
he's a modem-day political prisoner. We need him out of that·
state prison where we can watch him, Bill."
Creasy sipped his coffee. "A prison
Gottfried shook his head. "This agent
is a longtime friend of
the Governor of California, through the Screen Actor's Guild.
Ordinarily, Reagan would refuse to engage in even
conversation of a pardon, but his mind will be changed. By next
week, Franklin Moore will be free like the day he was born. The
sentencing judge has ordered that he give a speech before his
following. I am informed that he'll be delivering that speech at
an anti-war rally before a rock concert in San Francisco. I am
also informed that what he has to say will be extremely
unpopular with his friends. Agents will be on hand to remove
Franklin and Lorraine Devlin from the hostilities. This is where
I need your help, Bill."
Creasy smiled, the color returning to
his face, purpose to his
life. "Go on."
"By the following day, the major wire
services will report
that Franklin Henry Thomas Moore and his common-law wife,
Lorraine DevJ.i.n, have fled to what is believed to be Algiers,
where they have secured amnesty from a colony of former
Black Panthers. Eldridge Cleaver and his lieutenants will
naturally and immediately dismiss this, which will confirm the
suspicion in the public mind. There is an old Army installation
on the California side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range."
Creasy nodded. "It's been closed for
"May we use it?"
The lines around Creasy's eyes
softened. "As long as I'm
kept abreast of every goddamn thing that's happening up there.
It's hell being out of the loop, Shelly. I'd take up some sort of
recreation, but I just don't have the temperament. I've devoted
my life to the United States Government."
"Welcome back, Genera!," Gottfried
said, shaking Creasy's
"Howlong are we going to keep Moore
and his wife penned
up? What's the long-term?"
Gottfried placed his coffee cup on
the table. "Franklin
Moore has met Al Hubbard, he's met Huxley, rest his soul, and
he knows more than he can be trusted with. We have reason to
believe he is writing a book on his experiences at the Menlo
Park Veterans Hospital. He'll be eliminated after an exhaustive
"What about his wife?"
Gottfried shook his head. "It it were
possible, I would see
that they exit this Earth together. But Lorraine Devlin's father
has been a top Company code analyst since I was in high
school. He and Dulles went to Andover together, We'll have to
place her through an intensive examination to see how much
damage has been done. She may never be able to be trusted
again, I don't know. To my knowledge, the Company has never
involved one of its own so close to someone who was
eventually eliminated. We have no way to know the human
mind at this level." Gottfried stood up suddenly and smiled.
"Thank you, Bill. We'll need immediate activity at the site.
Open it as secretly as humanly possible, and post only men
with Army intelligence training. A few weeks from now, the
wire services will report that the ohe-time darling of the youth
movement, Franklin Moore, has suffered fatal injuries in an
automobile accident in Northern Africa. The camp will be
closed up again, your staff debriefed, and this maddening
chapter of our lives will be over."
Dr. Gottfried walked General Creasy
to the' entrance of
Langley and said goodbye. He then walked for several minutes
to an unmarked surveillance room, knocked once, and entered.
Through the monitors, he watched Al Hubbard's estate
blowing fallow in the winter breeze. "Anything?"
A man shrugged his shoulders. "The
guy's not coming
back. His phone service was just shut off for nonpayment;
before that, not as much as a phone call in weeks. No
forwarding order on his mail. .. this is a man who wants to be
Gottfried smiled and patted the agent
on the shoulder.
"Pretend I'm not here," he said,
lifting a box of Hubbard's
records and sitting in a chair at the rear of the room. He pulled
open the folder labeled "Recent Correspondence," and
inspected the contents again: a letter from Robert Welch on John
Birch Society stationary; notice of a meeting of the Board of
for the Uranium Corporation of Vancouver . .. a note from Sam
Giancana that had come attached to a basket of fresh fruit and
. . . Gottfried returned the folder to its slot, then walked back
to his office.
His eyes shut, Dr. Sheldon Gottfried
walked slowly around
his office, head lowered, walking the length of his blonde desk,
running his fingers over the smooth finish on the skull of
Patrice Lumumba. He picked up the phone and dialed the
Director of Covert Operations.
"I will tender my resignation if Al
Hubbard isn't in Las
Vegas right now, drinking gin and tonic with Sam Giancana. I
feel him," Gottfried whispered.
"Do you want my blessing?" the voice
wondered. "Is that
what you want, Shelly?" Hearing only silence, the DCO
breathed deeply. "If you think you can take him out, then do it
I don't want to know any of the details. And I don't want to
know who carries it out If you aren't rid this obsession in a
month's time, I'm going to recommend you for early
retirement" The man listened for a response, and shuddered
as he heard only a click.
✠ ✠ ✠
Amidst the frost-covered hills of San
Miguel de Allende, a
Gypsy wedding party roared. And among, and sometimes
underneath, the flowing skirts, Neal Cassady grinned and
grabbed dark little senoritas, spinning them over his head,
letting them come to rest on his shoulders, whereupon he
would ride them piggy-back around the hall and return them
to their fathers.
They called him El Jingun, the wise
clown, and forgave him
for his fits of torment, his shouting at no one, his sudden
cursing, preferring to remember only the jesting, the staccato
laughter, the side of Neal Cassady that would, one day, become
"Bienvenides," a mother said, kissing
the side of Neal's face
as he lowered her daughter from his shoulders. "You are good
Neal flushed, returning the
compliment in his own broken
,tongue, and grabbed a bottle of pulque by the neck from a
passing tray and drank from its contents. Beads of sweat ran the
length of his face and soaked the back of his dingy white
buttondown. He popped a dexedrine into his mouth, killing off
the bottle, and grabbed anew One by the neck and left out a side
door into the frigid Mexkan night air. In a streak, he ran down
an embankment toward the railroad station, where his clothes
had been sitting for a week, kicked a pebble about twenty
yards, then chased after it to kick it again, hooking a slug of
pulque whenever he felt the need.
"Whheeww!" he breathed, grabbing at
his shoulders. Steam
rose from his torso, and the sweat on his forehead dried in a
mid film. "Get some dothes on, Neal, y'old fool. Got to save
that pride-stock, grade-A, finely toned, beauty body from the
elements." He kicked the stone and shambled, after ,it,
mntinuing along the tracks.
Hopping on the inside rail, he walked
one foot in front of the
other, treating the line like a tightrope. "Y'oughtta join the
drms . .. you... nimble-soled, sure-footed, grab-traction,
amon master." He held his head back and swallowed another
couple gulps from the bottle. "Juss swingin' with those betties.
Those tighty teddies. Come to Neal, li'l darlin', he'll treat you
real spedal. Grab those hands and mount you on his pedal,
bounce you lovin' level."
Neal chugged from the bottle, then
tossed it into the
blackened sky, quickening his pace, toe-to-toe, catching it as it
fell. He pitched it up again, spun around, shuffled backwards,
feeling the bottles slice the air at his ear and land neatly between
his hands. He threw the bottle again and hopped to the other
rail, this time walking on his heels. A tight pain shot through his
left arm. He grabbed his shoulder and watched the bottle crash
down in the middle of the tracks. Neal Cassady stumbled off
into the gravel and through a cluster of sage. The pain came
again, gripping his chest, sending his shoulders back and his
eyes open wide.
"Ohhh, boyyy!" he wheezed, fighting
for breath. Staggering
forward alongside the tracks, the Holy Goof collapsed and died
in San Miguel de Allende, the world lost a son.
Lorraine waited until she could wait
no longer, then walked
from the parking lot, from the security of her car, to an area
within the Benetia Correctional Facility designated for release
of prisoners, politely ignoring the questions hurled at her from
dozens of news creatures who had camped out since before
dawn to witness the result of Ronald Reagan's February 4,
1968, gubernatorial pardon, his only in two terms as Governor.
At eight thirty a.m., a pair of
stainless steel doors slid open,
expelling Grampa, who smiled self-consciously in the same
suit he wore during sentencing, and who squinted in the clear
winter sun for a little boy, the flashbulbs exploding like bombs
around him, for a way to heal his own vast injury. After several
seconds, Grampa lifted his head and found Lorraine's crying
forth a river. He walked toward her and put his forehead on
hers and held her waist, until every reporter in the room felt
their own humanity in silence, however long it had been.
"Terry got his book published,"
Lorraine laughed, through
convulsing sobs. "He says Jared loves the ranch."
"I want to take you to Oregon,"
Grampa whispered. "My
dad's in the hospital with a stroke, and mom can't handle'the
farm all alone. I want to get off right away."
Lorraine squeezed his wrists, the
tears flowing, freely. "You
have a speech to give."
Grampa nodded. "And it'll make you
Lorraine smiled, but could feel
little else but shame.
In the light of the early morning,
Lorraine woke, her fingers
resting in the hairs of Grampa's chest. She sat up and watched
his great torso rising and falling as he breathed. ''I've betrayed
you," she whispered.
Grampa opened his eyes, prickling the
surface cif her skin.
"Let's get up," he said, tossing aside the down comforter, and
showered alone for. the first time in ten months. When he
finished, he pulled on a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt and
walked into the kitchen and made himself the biggest breakfast
of bacon and eggs he could eat.
Lorraine walked out of the shower
minutes' later, nude,
trailing droplets across the bedroom carpet and kitchen tile,
and knelt next to Grampa, gripping both of his hands, "Let's fly
away right now, as far as we possibly can," she said.
"Somewhere, there's a place where they won't find us."
Grampa brought Lorraine's, hands to
his mouth. "How
come you didn't go crazy?"
"1 did. 1am," she whispered. "1 must
be. We have to leave,
Franklin. They can't let you live."
He pulled her up from the cold tile
and kissed the top of her
head. "I've got a public apology to make this mornin'. Maybe
you ought t' make one of your own."
The fog over Golden Gate Park held a
rotten sort of odor
from the thousands of dying grunion that lay languishing on
the northern California shores to a pernicious gill fluke.
Compounding the stink were fifty-odd Hell's Angels from the
San Francisco and Oakland chapters, who stood guard around
the outdoor stage, filling their gullets with beer from a tapped
keg, a full three hours before any of the bands were to begin
playing that afternoon. Word around the Park was that Mosely
had stopped production and had been hiding out from the Feds
for weeks,-and that whatever acid was floating around was not
to be trusted.
A teenage boy held up a capsule and
shrugged to a group of
friends. "Man, Would Mosely press out something this brown?"
But Someone ate it anyway. At a buck a pill, nearly everyone
Renny, a recent Angel initiate who
had woken up feeling
mean, walked around the Park, kicking randomly at the still
forms in their sleeping bags. He had started off the morning by
watching for several minutes at what appeared to be the
undulating hand of a crew-cut jock. The boy looked so
comfortable with himself that Renny almost left him alone/but
instead stomped on the pulsating form in the center-of the
weatherproof bag, forcing a hideous yowl throughout the
Park. Whoever was left snoozing was thereafter served fair
warning, and were considered even fairer game for every
By 9:00 a.m., pods of nervous,
ill-clad concertgoers stood
huddled throughout the park, watching and waiting, until the
Angels had moved onto another site. At 9:30, a young Latino
became the first to succumb to the contents of a brown capsule.
No one knew his name, and no friends claimed him, as he
began talking to himself in feverish, spontaneous bursts,
shaking his head and flapping his hands to communicate
something singularly personal and obviously difficult. The
Lysergic Express would not take him where he wanted to go
this morning, and he began bargaining with the driver for to
carry him to at least someplace familiar. By 10:00, he was
wound in a psychic loop, his eyes wild and glassy. Seeking
comfort, the man began approaching strangers, asking them
things that they didn't want to consider.
A natural young woman offered the man
a beer, which he
took in one, long, streaming slug, soaking the front of his shirt.
When he demanded another, she called for her boyfriend.
"Look, man," the boyfriend said,
poking his finger in the
Latino's chest. "You be cool, and everybody will be cool to you.
But if you can't handle that, then get the fuck out of this park."
The olive-skinned man began to laugh,
a high, crazy titter,
his world suddenly taking on purpose. Good and evil became
a battleground, and he struck back at his tormentor. With the
speed of an adder, he grabbed the boyfriend's head and set his
teeth around an ear and bit sharply, bringing the victim to his
knees. A trickle of blood running down his chin, he bolted
across the expanse, at least forty people chasing after him.
A middle-aged man at the edge of the
Park became aware of
a gang of hippies chasing a lone man across the grass. As the
bloody fiend closed in on him, the man picked up an empty
metal garbage can and closed his eyes and swung at chest-level,
feeling a sharp reverberation in his hands like he hadn't felt
since Little League. The posse cheered and spat upon the
comatose figure, until an ambulance carried the limp body
Bad craziness hung in the air, along
with the fecal mist together
slowly sucking the vestiges of charity from the crowd.
A band member hopped onto the stage and unhooked the
microphone. "People, be good to each other," he said. "The
Fuzz have promised to be mellow today, but we've got to do
our part. And layoff the brown dose: it's not the real thing."
An emergency vehicle arrived,
carrying first-aid and
electrolyte solutions to the Park, people beginning to fill the
expanse like a great, human sea. They called it the First Annual
Peace Protest, but it looked like Bangladesh. With the portable
outhouses occupied, men would simply water the lawn.
Women squatted and used anything available to wipe
themselves, discarding the litter where it fell.
Carlo Marx and a young,
frizzy-haired, New York radical
named Abbie Hoffman pressed hands with a core of Angels,
and shared a fat joint with Dirty Mother, as Joan Baez took the
stage and sang "Kum-baya, My Lord," just she and a guitar.
"Dig it," Hoffman smiled, lighting
the corner of a five-dollar
bill with the glowing end of a joint.
At just before noon, Carlo Marx
stepped onto the stage, a
red beret pulled tightly onto his massive, graying mane. "Are
we ready for peace!?" he yelled.
The crowd responded wildly.
"Are we willing to fight for it?"
The crowd fell silent.
Carlo glowered. "Anyone who was in
this park for
Grampa's party five months ago knows what I'm talking
about," he said. "I saw five young men beaten into submission
with metal batons for listening to a band. 1watched as women
were dragged across the grass and chained like animals to
police wagons. I've seen the coming of a terrible disease. .. "
Blank expressions met Carlo, and he
realized that even
though his words had won the nation's honors with Growl in
1955, no one had really listened to the music. So he inveighed
again. Reshaping the lyrics, he sang against wrongs
immemorial, conjuring the petrified ghosts of St. Jack and Neal
the Fool and other great minds of his era who had festered,
wasted and neglected, in a sea of apathy. "Why do they crucify
Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and
pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels? And you,
Thoreau, who died of ugliness and loneliness but at peace with
your own conscience, what does the world remember of you?
And you? And you?" he pointed to each frozen face in the crowd.
Dirty Mother watched a slinky blonde
coed walk into the
Park on the arm of a slim, ebony-skinned man. "That don't look
right," he said to Tiny, who shared visibly the opinion.
Rounding up a few more Angels, Mother and Tiny walked over
to the couple, who had claimed a spot near a maple tree several
hundred yards from the stage, and had begun to nuzzle each
Grinning, Mother walked behind the
woman and lifted her
silky blonde hair with his grease-stained fingers. "Pretty.
What's a gorgeous thing like you doing with a black nigger?"
The woman recoiled from Mother's
touch. Her date
grabbed Mother by the wrist. "Don't want no problems
wit'choo, gentlemen. We's just mindin' our own business.
Okay?" he said, eyebrow raised, before releasing his sturdy
clamp on Mother's wrist.
Dirty Mother smiled and looked at his
brothers, who were
staring the black man down. "I don't know if it is okay," he said.
"Maybe all this peace and tolerance shit ain't okay. Maybe we
need some rules again. Boy."
"Who you callin' boy, muthufucka?"
His date tugged frantically on his
arm. "Let's go. We'll just'
leave. I don't mind."
Tiny stepped between the black man
and his date. "It's
probably not that easy, princess. You see, your nigger stud just
challenged my brother. And that means he challenged all my
brothers." Tiny turned around suddenly and gripped the
woman in a full-nelson and carried her shrieking, kicking form
several yards away. The blackman swung at Mother's skull,
connecting flush on the jaw. Mother dropped to one knee, then
reached groggily behind himself and unhooked a butterfly
knife from his belt. He rose from a crouch, slashing the black
man's cheek, spattering fresh blood onto the shirts of the
"And you, General Eisenhower, in your
playland, and you, Henry Luce, with your cold film exposed,
and you," Carlo raved, whipping the crowd into a froth, like a
bearded Elmer Gantry.
"He bleeds like a pussy," Mother
smiled, watching theblack
man waver. "Take a shot, there, Tiny."
Tiny, six-foot five and covered with
brown fur and tattoos,
walked toward the frightened, bleeding spade, who was trying
to focus on the whizzing action of the lethal butterfly. Tiny
cocked his fist and jabbed at the man's face, hitting him
squarely around the eyesocket. He gave up his turn to an Angel
named Harold but whom everyone called Bomb, and who was
far less merciful than Tiny.
Bomb approached from the rear, and
tapped the man's
testicles forcefully with the tip of a steel-toed boot. The colored
man went down in a pile, and Bomb kicked him again.
Carlo ran with sweat as he spat his
final invectives against
the Military/Industrial complex. His throat was taut and sore.
He leaned against the microphone stand and brought the
immense crowd to the brink of delirium. "And you, Ronald
Reagan, who opened your prison to let out our friend."
Lorraine let go of Grampa's hand, as
the pardoned felon
walked out from a tent beside the stage. Grampa ascended
slowly a short stack of steps, then ambled across the stage to the
microphone, to where Carlo stood with eyes reddened.
"Welcome home," the poet sobbed,
wrapping his arms
around Grampa and squeezing for many seconds.
Grampa tried to say something into
the microphone, but the
sound from the crowd was as the buzz of immutable crickets.
He raised his hands to plead for silence, but they saw him as a
prophet and raised their hands with his and yelled even more
A flap of skin above the black man's
eye had been removed
by the hardened toe of an Angel boot, and bone gleamed
underneath. The young blonde lay naked beneath Dirty
Mother, as he banged away at the trophy, his brothers calling
for turns. A battalion of San Francisco police streamed in from
the edges of the Park.
With an ear-splitting whistle over
the PA system, Grampa
brought the crowd to silence. "Go home," he said. "Go back
home and tell your folks you love 'em."
"What did he say?" a girl asked
aloud. Supplied by a friend
with the answer, her lip curled. "That's what I thought he said.
Fuck him. What does he know about my stinking parents?"
"Say you're sorry for everything you
ever did to wrong
those good people who bore you," Grampa said softly, hearing
the silence turn quickly to a river of ugliness.
A group of young men filed through
the crowd and tried to
mount the stage, but were beaten senseless by a phalanx of
Angels. The police closed in, shutting off the electricity to the
PA system, leaving Grampa mouthing silently before a furious
sea. He fled down the steps and grabbed Lorraine by the
shoulder as she emerged from the tent to escape the anger she
heard all around her.
Police fired noxious gas to disperse
the crowd and drove
their wagons onto the grass to arrest those who resisted. Two
unmarked navy-blue sedans stopped near the tent, two men
filing out from each. A man stepped behind Grampa and
placed a damp handkerchief firmly to his nose and mouth.
Grampa jabbed his elbow into the man's ribs, but the man held
on, feeling each jab become less painful to the midsection, until
Grampa succumbed limply to the chloroform. Lorraine offered
no resistance, and the two cars drove away from Golden Gate
Park, away from two unregistering eyes of a young black honor
student, whose exposed brain lay glistening in the Saturday
☠ ☠ ☠
Jim Devlin stiffened in his chair as
he lifted his head from a
Civil War novel and saw the still-photo of his daughter on the
evening news. He reached for a pen and notepad that lay on the
coffee table, and scrawled the words that came from the mouth
of a California news correspondent:
Lorraine Devlin, San Francisco
police, involved terrorist
bombing U.S. Marines Depot #4467, Oakland; fled wi common-law
Franklin Moore, aka Grampa; Pardoned by Reagan Feb. 4, 1969.
Couple believed fled Algiers w/ Eldridge Cleaver & Blk. Panthers.
Moore and Devlin FBI Ten Most Wanted.
He made a call to Lorraine's
condominium, but the phone
was disconnected. He put on his glasses and a coat and rushed
into the den to retrieve a pouch of past phone bills from the
filing cabinet. Rifling through the bills, he pulled out one that
matched a four-day span on a wall calender marked"Lorraine
and Jared and Franklin(?)"
His wife had turned in early.
"Honey," he said, shaking her
not lightly, "something has happened to Lorraine."
She raised up in bed. "What is it?"
"I don't know exactly," he said,
pursing his lips. "Marjorie,"
he said, his tongue like lead. "Our daughter works for the CIA.
She's in very bad trouble."
His wife smiled. "Jim, have you been
drinking? Lorraine is
a registered nurse in Menlo Park, California."
She stared at the notepad which he
laid on her lap. Nausea
claimed her as her eyes scanned his tremulous script. "Oh,
God! I've been so stupid."
Jim shook his head. "You could never
have known." But
when he tried to place his hand on her cheek, she pushed it
away. "I've got to leave. I love you, honey. I'll be home when I
Jim Devlin drove the backroads of his
pushing back the tachometer of his new Bugatti, feeling the
wind in his hair from the wings of the angel of death. The lights
of Langley at 2:00 a.m. illuminated the surrounding forest more
brilliantly than the fullest moon. He flashed his badge at the
security gate, signed in, and walked quickly to his office in the
third level underground.
After turning on the lights and
locking the door behind
himself, he surveyed a thick manual he had written and
assembled for the Company just the year prior, taking long,
sustained breaths from behind his desk to keep from lapsing
into hysteria. The computer requested his password, but
instead he typed in the dummy he routinely used for
programming. Following a tangled labyrinth, Jim Devlin
wound his way through a pocket of covert projects, which he
matched against geographic location and level of priority. Of
the twenty three projects based in California, fourteen
appeared to be low-level.
An agent in a computer surveillance
room watched as
someone named Solution-l23 wandered through the master
covert database. When the probe reached Project MK-ULTRA,
the agent called for assistance. "We've got someone rifling
through covert files on the mainframe."
"Describe his behavior," said a voice
from the Internal
"He started by looking through all
top priority projects
centered in Northern California. He's got MK-ULTRA on-line
"Locate the terminal and abort access
The agent punched in a series of
codes, and came up with a
scrolling list of every terminal that had been tested for program
flaws within the past year. "Jesus, he's everywhere."
Jim Devlin configured the database to
names of each agent involved in MK-ULTRA, and found
Lorraine Devlin in a sub-project marked "Perry Lane." He
copied down the particulars of the last activity in Lorraine's
file, a set of coordinates bearing the name of a military
installation. But when he attempted to retrieve information on
the agent-in-charge of "Perry Lane," one Alfred M. Hubbard,
Jim Devlin knew that he had been searching too long. Leaving
a flashing message, in the center of his stalled screen, he
ascended the stairs, weak-kneed, as quickly as he could
without attracting attention or collapsing altogether.
"So soon?" the guard at the
registration table smiled tiredly,
before signing off on the space next to his badge number.
Jim Devlin nodded, saying nothing,
and drove away from
Langley, thinking of the many inadequate explanations he
could give to his superiors, a flurry of phone calls sending,
agents streaming through empty offices and sealing off'
hallways. After speeding for an hour through farm roads with
nothing in his rear-view mirror, he stopped at an all-night
pancake house near Fairfax. The only two numbers out of place
on his phone bill were to New York City and Las Vegas,
Nevada. And if he were an agent being hunted, he decided he
would not hide out in New York City.
At three o'clock mountain standard
time, the PBX operator
at the Tropicana paused to check with reservations' records,
then transferred an outside call for an "Al Hubbard" to the
Director of Hotel Security. The phone rang in Hubbard's room,
jolting him from a dreamless sleep.
"Mr. Dobbins," the voice rumbled
through the receiver,
"my name is Lou Vitone; I'm Tropicana's director of security. A
Mr. Jim Devlin is calling from Virginia for Alfred M. Hubbard.
Would you like to take the call, or shall I tell him that no one by
that name is registered at this hotel?"
Hubbard thought his heart might
explode, a burst of
adrenaline galloping through his veins. "I'll take the call for Mr.
Hubbard. Thank you, Lou."
Hubbard pressed the receiver, picking
it up on the first ring.
"How can I help you?" he said.
Jim Devlin shivered at a pay phone in
a bright hallway
between restrooms at the nearly-deserted restaurant. "I believe
that mt daughter has been take~ to an Army installation
somewhere between Mammoth, California, and Reno,
Nevada," he said, feeding Hubbard the coordinates.
"How long have-you been in
Intelligence, Jim?" Hubbard
"Thirty-two years," Devlin answered.
"Then between us, we've got sixty
years of ignorance on
this one," Hubbard Jaughed mirthlessly. ''I'd get down on my
knees right now and pray to God, if she were my daughter.
She's in the eye of the wickedest project I've ever seen."
Jim Devlin returned home to a yard
full of agents and a
sobbing wife, and his prayers had never sounded so hollow.
Stepping out of a bath, Carlo
answered the phone in his new
Tiburon digs, recognizing the voice on the other end as the cry
of the Reaper.
"Carlo," the voice spoke slowly, but
forcefully, "this is
Captain Al Hubbard. You met me once. after Aldous Huxley's
speech at Stanford in 1962, but I've known you for years."
Over the next several minutes-as
Hubbard retraced a
chronology of sadness, tethered at each end by the pitiful lives
of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady -- Carlo Marx realized the
depths of man's potential. "Why are you telling me this?" he
wondered finally, dizzy in the head.
"Because a conspiracy can't stand to
see its shadow,"
Hubbard said. "Because you know the Weathermen, and I
know where Lorraine Devlin and Franklin Moore are. There's
an abandoned Army encampment east of June Lake, in the
Sierra Nevadas. My guess is that they're undergoing a process
of debriefing, probably torture, and that neither will live to tell
their children about this."
Carlo wrote down everything, until
abated and silence overtook the line.
''I'm sorry about Neal," Hubbard
said, then hung up.
Carlo pressed down on the receiver,
information. "St. Petersburg, Florida," he said. "Jack Kerouac,
please." Jack had stopped calling around 1965, the King 'of the
Beats now just plain beat. The operator came back on with the
number. "What a sweet voice you have," Carlo admired. "It's a
shame we can't see and touch the whole of humanity, isn't it?"
The operator said she supposed so, and hung up.
He picked up the phone again and
dialed, thankful for the
paralysis that now had Jack's mother lying harmlessly in a
Florida nursing home, unable to intercept his call-hundreds
of them over the years. ''I've told you boys not to bother my son
again," he'd heard her say on countless occasions. "No, he's not
here. And even if he were, I would not allow you to speak to him.
You're all dope addicts. And you, Carlo, with your perverted
relations. .. I just don't know what you want with my Jack.
The phone crackled. "H'lo?"
Carlo's heart beat rapidly, then
plunged through the
stomach floor. "Dear Jack," he said, giving into tangled
"Uhh ... yeah, gimme a minute. Wait a
second, while uhh
... "Carlo heard the familiar ping of the whiskey neck colliding
briefly with the lip of Jack's compliant two-ounce medicinal
beaker. "Now, Carlo, howre ya, yold madman?"
"Jack, I know I haven't stayed close.
It just got too tedious,
with your mother-"
"Ah, mom," Jack said. "I miss her,
Carlo. Really do. Gave up
the road to take care of mom. But she's nearin' Heaven now.
And when she goes, she'll be lookin' right down at her son, and
sayin' 'come up here, Jack, it's a good place. Softer times. No more
road-runnin' to do up here,' yes, sir. She'll be so happy, just
up ther'n the mercifl palm o' the Lord."
"Jack, listen to me," Carlo insisted.
"I want you to come to
California and stay with me for awhile. I have some news for
you, more incredible than any of your benzedrine nightmares,"
he said anxiously. "But I must tell you about it in person-look
into those soulful eyes and tell you that it's not your fault. They
used you, Jack. They kept you beat until they needed you, and then
they gave you everything you wanted, because they knew
you were already on the hook. Jack, I have a ticket waiting at
the airport. Just get on the plane. I'll buy you all the clothes you
"Neal's up there," Jack said, fuzzy
under the liquor. "Bet he
---- didn't think he'd make it, but. we all know he's set off in
special comer with the purtiest betties, talkin' that hip-hop,
rap-bapway he always did. I'm comilt' to see ya, Neal!!" Kerouac
roared. "Yesssirrreee. After m'last shot o'whiskey, dumped
right down like this," plunk, gguguggugg, "Boilermakers,
Carlo. Use the best whiskey, th'best beer-"
"Jack," Carlo pleaded, "just get up
right now! Call a taxi and
get to the airport. I'll be waiting at the gate. It's sunny in North
Beach: Jack. We can drink wine again, and write poetry/Carlo
coaxed, saying anything to get his friend out of that easy chair.
"One more road trip, anywhere you want to go."
There was no sound on the other end.
Then an occasional
cough. Then soundless again. Carlo thought that Jack had
"Thank you for callin', old friend.
We had some fun on that
long-stretch o'Road, didn't we?" Jack said. "But I can hardly
make it out of this chair anymore to get a piss. It's better this
way, Carlo. I'll be keepin' Neal company real soon."
The phone went quiet again anl1 Carlo
hung up, feeling
hollow, taking into his marrow the emptiness of Jack's
The dharma bum heard the click on the
other end and
dropped his receiver down into the cradle. A few nights later,
he lifted his body from the soiled chair, falling down on all
fours, crawling across the livingroom floor, filling his pants as
he made it to the bathroom. He rested his head on the lip of the
cool ceramic toilet, then went to vomit. The bowl filled with the
blood and the tissue and the life of Jack Kerouac.
Al Hubbard phoned for room service at
dawn; while tracing
escape routes on an aerial map. The planes he could handle had
a maximum range of two thousand miles before refueling, and
he trusted no one to take him further. "Nothing heavy," he said
to the kitchen waiter on the other end. "Some coffee and fruit
sounds about right." He thanked the man, hung up, then
checked his watch and picked up the phone again, dialing
Hong Kong before the news desk of Time/Life, Inc. closed for
the evening. Hubbard felt a sudden blackness as his heart
palpitated, skipping several beats then coming on forcefully,
the mitral valve catching on adrenaline and age. "I need to speak
with Mark Jessup," Hubbard shouted, over a line full of static.
Several minutes elapsed, as Hubbard listened to chatter in the
background, then a man came on the line. "Mr. Jessup, listen to
There was a knock at the door, and
Hubbard bounded off
the bed, barking, "Who is it!"
"Room service, sir."
Hubbard opened the door and seized
the tray from a
middle-aged porter, then slammed the door again. "Mr.
Jessup, I work for the CIA. My name is Al Hubbard. I know
about the promotion Henry Luce gave you a couple years back.
I knew that man you met on the street, the man who was
pushed out the window of the Statler Hotel on Park Avenue. I
know everything about MK-ULTRA."
"What do you want me to do?" Jessup
"Do what they pay you to do," Hubbard
godssake, make sure everyone on this planet tomorrow
morning knows that Dr. Sheldon Gottfried has poisoned.
dozens of men, including his own tennis coach to be with the
guy's wife. That Major General William Creasy of the Army
Chemical Corps ordered Frank Olson to be tossed through that
closed window at the Statler. That Franklin Moore and
Lorraine Devlin are being tortured as we speak at some
abandoned Army depot in Northern California. That we tried
to build a human superman and abused every tool given to us
by God and science," Hubbard said, talking into a tape recorder
three thousand miles away, as Jessup punched his lead into the
"Why?" Jessup asked, minutes later,
after running through
the details again.
Hubbard shrugged to himself. "Try
hiding out for four
months with guys named Dam and Guido. It's enough to make
a strong man a little crackers," he said, but neither man
believed it. Captain Alfred M. Hubbard turned for the closet to
begin packing, but found Sam Giancana and a tall, thickly-muscled
man standing inside his door.
"1 let myself in," Sam smiled lamely.
"AI, this is Lou Vitone,
our security chief."
Hubbard extended his hand, shaking
Sam placed his hand on Hubbard's
shoulder. "Lou's here to
see that you leave the Tropicana nice and safe. The Family had
a meetin' last night, AI, and they tell me you gotta go. My hands
Hubbard took Sam's hand from his
shoulder and squeezed
it tightly. "You're a good friend, Sam."
A tear came to the comer of
Giancana's eye. "You need
anything before you leave? You need some cash to last you a
year somewhere, AI?"
Hubbard looked down at the plate of
strawberries and the, coffee that had gone cold, the gastric
juices churning fiery in his. stomach. "Have some," he
motioned to Sam and the somber security chief. "I can't eat."
Lou shrugged and picked up a slab of
chewed on it, cupping his hand underneath his chin, as the
nectar fell into his palm.
"I need a light plane," Hubbard said.
"Sure," Sam nodded. "There's a few
out there. I'll keep
yours as collateral."
The pineapple slice fell from
Vitone's mouth as he opened
his lips to breathe, blue rivulets of cyanide striating his neck.
Sam chained the door, as Hubbard grabbed the stiffening
security chief. He lay Vitone down on the bed, watching his feet
jerk and kick spastically, then subside as the brain became
hopelessly deprived of oxygen.
Sam unhooked the radio from the dead
man's waist and
spoke into it hoarsely." This is Sam Giancana. 1 want five
guards outside the elevator when 1 come down with Mr.
Dobbins about a minute from now. 1want the Mooney and the
two Cessnas out back gassed up and running, and 1want the
kitchen closed off now. No one leaves, or everyone get's it."
"He's already gone, Sam. 1know how
they work," Hubbard
said, but cocked his revolver anyway, and walked with
Giancana to the elevator. The doors opened and a dozen stone-faced
capos stood in a long file at each side, shielding their doo
from what it was he feared. They clustered around him and the
odd Mr. Dobbins all the way to the tarmac.
"Take your pick," Sam said, glancing
about anxiously. "The
Cessnas are quick, but the Mooney will get you far, far away."
Hubbard grabbed Sam Giancana around
the body and
hugged him. Then he lifted a Cessna P-48 up into a light wind
and flew north to a geography as yet unmapped.
✈ ✈ ✈
A covered truck pulled to the side of
a snowy road, then
backed up to the edge of the crystalline embankment. Four
men lifted away the canvas from the rear of the truck, exposing
two pair of snowmobiles, which they unloaded onto a, metal
ramp. The men checked their watches against Bernardine's,
clipped three grenades, which had been spray-painted white,
to their belts, and brought the snowmobiles to the edge of the
snow-covered grass. The drivers rode soundlessly away, any
noise from the engines stifled to the thousand tons of cold
powder on the ground.
Kenny turned to Bernardine in the
front seat of the heated
truck. "How many do you think there are up there?"
She shrugged and lit a cigarette.
"Numbers aren't shit
without brains. And I've yet to meet a member of the U.S.
military who showed me anything to worry about."
Grampa sat in a pair of briefs, his
hands bound behind his
back, in an unheated metal garage, surrounded by pieces of
rusted, antiquated machinery that had not seen use since just
after the Korean War, when peace forced the closing of the
mountain training camp. He watched from his left eye as the
guard circled him, but lost track of the man as he walked
around to the right, his other eye swollen shut.
The sound of rotor blades screamed
attendant guard, a fair-haired agent in his mid-thirties who
went by Tom, looked out a ,small window on the door of the
shed, and into a blinding white spray. "Don't you go
anywhere," he smiled. As the blades slowed and the shower of
snow subsided, Tom saw a handsome man in a long grey coat
exit the helicopter, a small leather pouch in his grip.
The man shook Tom's hand from inside
a calf-leather glove.
"Has he revealed anything at all?"
Tom shook his head, the snow high and
cold around his
ankles. "Stubborn sonofagun. 1 talked to him very politely at
first; then I had to beat him."
"Did, the sodium amytal help?" the
man wondered, staring
into the small window on the shed.
Tom smiled. "Just made him surly. The
guy's a monster," he
said, then opened the door to the shed.
''I'd like you to leave us alone,
Tom," the man said.
Tom nodded and walked toward the
where Lorraine was being interrogated by two agents from the
Office of Internal Investigation.
"I could use a piss break," Grampa
said, seeing a new f<lce
smiling at him slightly, a wheeze laboring deep in his chest.
"How 'bout some coffee for the memory?"
Dr. Gottfried raised his eyebrows,
kneeling down before
Grampa and looking into his good eye. "Why don't you tell !fie
what you really want, Mr. Moore. Do you want to use those big
hands to strangle me?"
Grampa relaxed his shoulders. "More
than anythin' 1 can
"Where is the manuscript, Franklin?"
Grampa just grinned.
Gottfried touched Grampa's knee,
which bore a long, pink
scar, a testament to innumerable wrestling tournaments. "We
truly believed that we could make a silk purse from the belly of
a sow. We were wrong, of course," Gottfried smiled, extracting
two syringes from his black pouch. "After you completed the
Veterans Hospital experiments, our chemists perfected a new
drug. And since we didn't get the chance to test it on you there,
1 came to meet you: to see this feral brute of whom Aldous
Huxley spoke so highly."
Gottfried removed the cap from one of
the syringes and
aspirated the bubbles with a tap of his forefinger. "1 should be
able to communicate with you almost immediately. You will
also see into me; and you'll know, then, that contained in the
other syringe is sodium cyanide, and that 1 intend to
exterminate you as soon as 1 have discovered the location of
your manuscript." Gottfried stood up and removed his coat,
laying it over the handles of a vintage motorcycle, an Indian by
its appearance. Gottfried rolled up his sleeve and injected
exactly half of the DBZ into his own vein, feeling a flash
through his capillaries, feeling new and holy.
An Army lieutenant guarding the only
gate into the
encampment strained to hear what he thought was a faint
buzzing. He placed his finger on the trigger of his assault rifle
and knelt, gazing over the snowy blanket through a pair of
yellow goggles. The sound subsided, came again, then
stopped. He circled the driveway, viewing the area from every
vantage point, listening for the sound, but heard none, a light
snowfall and steady wind dampening all that moved. As he
checked his watch, something rustled behind a group of trees.
He jerked the rifle to his shoulder, but before he could engage,
was fired upon a swift, silent burst that left him hemorrhaging
from the neck and upper torso into the fresh powder.
Lorraine looked up from a simple
reclining chair, her eyes
bloodshot and swollen from crying. "I hope he hurts you."
Tom laughed, and poured himself a cup
Another man stared at Lorraine.
"You're not giving us
much hope," he said. "You have been entrusted with this
nation's secrets. You've received the most intensive psychological
training offered by our government. Do expect us to
release you into the population with what. you now know, ,
given your present disposition? Do you really expect us to do
this, Lorraine?" the man wondered.
Lorraine shrugged. "I quit expecting
anything years ago. 1'd
hoped for compassion toward Franklin, after what you've put
him through. For the way you lead him blind with your black
"And for a picket fence, and for
Toto, perhaps?" Tom
smiled. "Your Franklin is most likely dead as we speak,
Lorraine. Unless the doctor is having his way with him. And
your own life in the imminent hereafter is looking increasingly
Sheldon Gottfried knelt, lifting
Grampa's swollen eyelid
with a manicured nail. "I want to you to look at me. 1want you
to know who has given you this edge on humanity that you so
enjoyed for the past six years-an edge that 1 will soon take
away," Gottfried said, jabbing the needle into a vein behind his
knee. He gripped Grampa by the temples and stared into his eyes
for a long moment, boring into the cluttered fragments
inside Grampa's skull. Gottfried wandered around a La Honda
party, smiling at Hell's Angels, who shrank from him as mice
from a kingsnake, wandered around cabin #12 and watched
L0rraine, watched Franklin cup her breasts with his hands and
suckle her neck, much as Gottfried himself had done not so
long ago, watched her perform acts that would make Veronica
blush. When he finished, he stared into Grampa's eyes. "All
good things must come to an end," he smiled.
Grampa gazed through his own window,
into the eyes of an
hysterical man who sat on a prison bunk, his fists clenching
spasmodically. The man lowered his head and ran several
steps, ramming the top of his skull into the concrete wall.
"They're never comin' back for me!" he yelled, but by this time
nobody was listening. "They put Jack Ruby up to it, then they leave
him to fry." Grampa stared wide-eyed, tracing the dementia to
the myriad malignancies sprouting like sunflower seeds inside
Ruby's brain, back through a syringe that was Gottfried's
reward to Ruby for patriotic devotion.
Gottfried released his hold on
Grampa's head. "It would
have been quite a book. It's a shame you didn't have the
strength to write it." He took the cap off the second syringe and
seized Grampa's bicep, and felt the sky of .his own cranium
explode, as Grampa reared his head and cracked his forehead
against his captor's.
Grampa arched his body and threw his
Gottfried by the neck between his massive thighs. "Who said 1'd
use my, hands!?" he hissed, squeezing and jerking Gottfried's
neck, feeling the fingernails claw frantically at his hamstrings,
until the face turned purple and blood flowed from every
The agent guarding the perimeter of
the house came in
sweating. "There's something going on out there," he said,
shutting the door against the biting cold. "Sounds like
The two interrogators looked at each
other. "It's winter,"
Tom shrugged, but as he looked down, he saw a piece of
newspaper sliding slowly underneath the door. "Fucking
what-" he said, bending down to read the headlines of the
morning's San Francisco Examiner, framed by small photos of
Lorraine Devlin and Franklin Moore:
LSD Mind Control Scandal
Explodes on CIA
Senate Investigation Ordered
Former Spy joins Tropicana Hotel as Security Chief
A percussion grenade rocked the
everyone who stood to the floor. The guard reached for the gun
at his waist, but a man wearing a knit cap and a flak jacket
quickly stomped on his wrist. Another man walked in silently,
pointing an Israeli-made machine pistol at the agents on the
ground. He lifted Lorraine from the chair and motioned the
other man toward the shed.
"Since none of you exist," the
Weatherman smiled, "I could
literally get away with murder." He bent down and took the
guns from their holsters. 'Td love to kill you pigs. Lorraine,
what do you think: should I give the public three less things to
worry about at night?"
Lorraine shuddered. "Do whatever you
want. I just don't
want to see it."
The Weatherman nodded. "Go outside.
Get on the back of a,
snow-buggy. I'll be out in a minute."
Lorraine walked out into the falling
snow and saw flecks of
blood tracked from the shed to a snowmobile, where Grampa
sat bundled in a heavy coat, behind a Weatherman wearing
only a sweater. She opened the door to the shed and recoiled,
shutting it again after a long, paralyzing look. "What did you
do to him?" she asked the Weatherman who sat in front of
The man shook his head. "Gramps had
it taken care of
before I got there, thank God."
Lorraine kissed the top of Grampa's
balding pate. "Let's go
straight to Oregon," she said, breathless, clutching his hand as
the Weatherman emerged from the house, smiling.
Grampa staring into her eyes. "Did
you know him?"
Lorraine nodded reflexively.
"Did you love him?" Grampa wondered,
his eye swollen,
the blood of Sheldon Gottfried seeping through his jeans.
Lorraine smiled from a far off hurt.
"Once. When I was
young. Then I realized he was evil."
Two more Weatherman pulled alongside
Grampa after one last circle ,around the perimeter, and the four
machines drove quickly away from a betrayal of which
Lorraine knew she would never again be part, from a violence
to which Grampa suddenly found himself capable, from a
carnage that would go unpublished.
☠ ☠ ☠
A chittering Townsend squirrel ran
across an unpaved
road, narrowly missing a '56 Chevy that once drove these
Oregon trails on wild, hooting nights, kicking up gravel and all
manner of consternation. The air felt cool and damp on
Grampa's arm, which hung out the window, his other hand on
the steering wheel or touching Lorraine's face, while he steered
with his knees. Some of the trucks in the driveways he
remembered, but most were new. He took a leftward fork that
wound around a pasture, but noticed no cows. Weeds
flourished at the edges of the driveway, growing high
underneath the mailbox. He nudged Lorraine with his hand.
"We're home," he said.
Lorraine inhaled and felt something
she hadn't since Perry
Lane, a sharp stillness that caught her breath from where it
The key on Grampa's chain still
matched the lock. He
opened the door and let Lorraine into the house, which was
dark except for a bright light in the kitchen. "Ma?" he yelled,
but there was no answer. "She must be out visitin' Pop. Are you
"Not terribly," Lorraine said,
flipping the light switch. She
walked to the piano at the far end of the living room. "You were
adorable," she said, lifting a photograph in a small, silver
frame, of a smiling Franklin holding a football, a proud Vern
Moore standing behind him, hand on Franklin's shoulder.
"Maybe we should go to the hospital," she said.
Grampa nodded, hoping that a stroke
would not prevent a
father from knowing just how sorry his son really was after
having all this time to think. He walked into the kitchen for a
glass of water.
Lorraine put the picture down,
following Grampa into the
kitchen, and found him standing frozen, his forehead
furrowing, his eyes welling as he read the announcement
fastened with a magnet to the refrigerator door:
Vernon Doyle Moore, born June
died on February 6, 1969 at Pine View
Medical Center after a brief illness.
A longtime resident of Corvallis, Mr. Moore
was the general manager of Dairy-Flow,
and was active in local agricultural
enterprises. He is survived by his wife,
Delores, and one son, Franklin. Memorial
services will be held Tuesday, February 9,
4:00 p.m., at Stuart's Funeral Home.
Grampa took Lorraine's hand and
walked with her outside,
squeezing it hard, until his nails dug into her flesh; walked
outside and sat in the grass to wait for his mother, to kiss her'
tears, to be the man she needed, the husband Lorraine wanted;
walked outside and shouted and saw a stained-glass sunset
through a regret so deep it flowed, and talked to Lorraine about
the son that they would have someday and what they would.
name him and how they would raise him-what they would
tell him: all these things came and ebbed and melded together
like the sand and the sea and the sky at the edge of some great
distance, just a seamless, fluid ribbon on the end of the tongue.
About the Author
Todd Brendan Fahey holds a Master's
Professional Writing from University of Southern
California, and should soon have earned the doctorate
in English from a certain southern university. But such is not
the way he chooses to be recognized. To make possible a
literary life, he has labored as a college English instructor,
political operative, paralegal, technical editor, security guard,
and streetcorner hotdog vendor, He makes it a practice to not
submit to literary contests, and, thus, has won no literary
awards. His published writings, which include poetry, fiction,
feature-length nonfiction, and interviews, have appeared in
both nonliterary and literary magazines. He publishes and
edits his own little magazine, Far Gone, and, after five years of
rejections, chose to publish Wisdom's Maw himself. His thanks
are paid to those who have bought, read, and spread word of
this novel, and especially to those who came to the rescue in
myriad ways to get this book together.
A collection of Fahey's short
fiction, Dogshit Park & other
atrocities: Stories, w1ll appear early 1997. He is currently at work
on a second novel, A String of Saturdays, and would still enjoy
the opportunity of publishing through a recognized press off
the beaten path. He can be reached through the Internet at
To explore the Wisdom's Maw Web site,
point a good
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