THE ILLUMINATUS! TRILOGY
The Eye In The Pyramid
BOOK ONE: VERWIRRUNG
THE FIRST TRIP, OR KETHER
From Dealey Plaza To Watergate ...
It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton. On April 1, the world's great powers came closer to nuclear war than ever before, all because of an obscure island named Fernando Poo. By the time international affairs returned to their normal cold-war level, some wits were calling it the most tasteless April Fool's joke in history. I happen to know all the details about what happened, but I have no idea how to recount them in a manner that will make sense to most readers. For instance, I am not even sure who' I am, and my embarrassment on that matter makes me wonder if you will believe anything I reveal. Worse yet, I am at the moment very conscious of a squirrel-in Central Park, just off Sixty-eighth Street, in New York City-that is leaping from one tree to another, and I think that happens on the night of April 23 (or is it the morning of April 24?), but fitting the squirrel together with Fernando Poo is, for the present, beyond my powers. I beg your tolerance. There is nothing I can do to make things any easier for any of us, and you will have to accept being addressed by a disembodied voice just as I accept the compulsion to speak out even though I am painfully aware that I am talking to an invisible, perhaps nonexistent, audience. Wise men have regarded the earth as a tragedy, a farce, even an illusionist's trick; but all, if they are truly wise and not merely intellectual rapists, recognize that it is certainly some kind of stage in which we all play roles, most of us being very poorly coached and totally unrehearsed before the curtain rises. Is it too much if I ask, tentatively, that we agree to look upon it as a circus, a touring carnival wandering about the sun for a record season of four billion years and producing new monsters and miracles, hoaxes and bloody mishaps, wonders and blunders, but never quite entertaining the customers well enough to prevent them from leaving, one by one, and returning to their homes for a long and bored winter's sleep under the dust? Then, say, for a while at least, that I have found an identity as ringmaster; but that crown sits uneasily on my head (if I have a head) and I must warn you that the troupe is small for a universe this size and many of us have to double or triple our stints, so you can expect me back in many other guises. Indeed do many things come to pass.
For instance, right now, I am not at all whimsical or humorous. I am angry. I am in Nairobi, Kenya, and my name is, if you will pardon me, Nkrumah Fubar. My skin is black (does that disturb you? it doesn't me), and I am, like most of you, midway between tribalism and technology; to be more blunt, as a Kikuyu shaman moderately adjusted to city life, I still believe in witchcraft-I haven't, yet, the folly to deny the evidence of my own senses. It is April 3 and Fernando Poo has ruined my sleep for several nights running, so I hope you will forgive me when I admit that my business at the moment is far from edifying and is nothing less than constructing dolls of the rulers of America, Russia, and China. You guessed it: I am going to stick pins in their heads every day for a month; if they won't let me sleep, I won't let them sleep. That is Justice, in a sense.
In fact, the President of the United States had several severe migraines during the following weeks; but the atheistic rulers of Moscow and Peking were less susceptible to magic. They never reported a twinge. But, wait, here is another performer in our circus, and one of the most intelligent and decent in the lot-his name is unpronounceable, but you can call him Howard and he happens to have been born a dolphin. He's swimming through the ruins of Atlantis and it's April 10 already-time is moving; I'm not sure what Howard sees but it bothers him, and he decides to tell Hagbard Celine all about it. Not that I know, at this point, who Hagbard Celine is. Never mind; watch the waves roll and be glad there isn't much pollution out here yet. Look at the way the golden sun lights each wave with a glint that, curiously, sparkles into a silver sheen; and watch, watch the waves as they roll, so that it is easy to cross five hours of time in one second and find ourselves amid trees and earth, with even a few falling leaves for a touch of poetry before the horror. Where are we? Five hours away, I told you-five hours due west, to be precise, so at the same instant that Howard turns a somersault in Atlantis, Sasparilla Godzilla, a tourist from Simcoe, Ontario (she had the misfortune to be born a human being) turns a neat nosedive right here and lands unconscious on the ground. This is the outdoor extension of the Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park, Mexico, D.F., and the other tourists are rather upset about the poor lady's collapse. She later said it was the heat. Much less sophisticated in important matters than Nkrumah Fubar, she didn't care to tell anybody, or even to remind herself, what had really knocked her over. Back in Simcoe, the folks always said Harry Godzilla got a sensible woman when he married Sasparilla, and it is sensible in Canada (or the United States) to hide certain truths. No, at this point I had better not call them truths. Let it stand that she either saw, or imagined she saw, a certain sinister kind of tight grin, or grimace, cross the face of the gigantic statue of Tlaloc, the rain god. Nobody from Simcoe had ever seen anything like that before; indeed do many things come to pass.
And, if you think the poor lady was an unusual case, you should examine the records of psychiatrists, both institutional and private, for the rest of the month. Reports of unusual anxieties and religious manias among schizophrenics in mental hospitals skyrocketed; and ordinary men and women walked in off the street to complain about eyes watching them, hooded beings passing through locked rooms, crowned figures giving unintelligible commands, voices that claimed to be God or the Devil, a real witch's brew for sure. But the sane verdict was to attribute all this to the aftermath of the Fernando Poo tragedy.
The phone rang at 2:30 A.M. the morning of April 24. Numbly, dumbly, mopingly, gropingly, out of the dark, I find and identify a body, a self, a task. "Goodman," I say into the receiver, propped up on one arm, still coming a long way back.
"Bombing and homicide," he electrically eunuchoid voice in the transmitter tells me. I sleep naked (sorry about that), and I'm putting on my drawers and trousers as I copy the address. East Sixty-eighth Street, near the Council on Foreign Relations. "Moving," I say, hanging up.
"What? Is?" Rebecca mumbles from the bed. She's naked, too, and that recalls very pleasant memories of a few hours earlier. I suppose some of you will be shocked when I tell you I'm past sixty and she's only twenty-five. It doesn't make it any better that we're married, I know.
This isn't a bad body, for its age, and seeing Rebecca, most of the sheets thrown aside, reminds me just how good it is. In fact, at this point I don't even remember having been the ringmaster, or what echo I retain is confused with sleep and dream. I kiss her neck, unselfconsciously, for she is my wife and I am her husband, and even if I am an inspector on the Homicide Squad-Homicide North, to be exact-any notions about being a stranger in this body have vanished with my dreams into air. Into thin air.
"What?" Rebecca repeats, still more asleep than awake.
"Damned fool radicals again," I say, pulling on my shirt, knowing any answer is as good as another in her half-conscious state.
"Um," she says, satisfied, and turns over into deep sleep again.
I washed my face somewhat, tired old man watching me from the mirror, and ran a brush through my hair. Just time enough to think that retirement was only a few years away and to remember a certain hypodermic needle and a day in the Catskills with my first wife, Sandra, back when they at least had clean air up there . . . socks, shoes, tie, fedora . . . and you never stop mourning, as much as I loved Rebecca I never stopped mourning Sandra. Bombing and homicide. What a meshuganah world. Do you remember when you could at least drive in New York at three in the morning without traffic jams? Those days were gone; the trucks that were banned in the daytime were all making their deliveries now. Everybody was supposed to pretend the pollution went away before dawn. Papa used to say, "Saul, Saul, they did it to the Indians and now they're doing it to themselves. Goyische narrs." He left Russia to escape the pogrom of 1905, but I guess he saw a lot before he got out. He seemed like a cynical old man to me then, and I seem like a cynical old man to others now. Is there any pattern or sense in any of it?
The scene of the blast was one of those old office buildings with Gothic-and-gingerbread styling all over the lobby floor. In the dim light of the hour, it reminded me of the shadowy atmosphere of Charlie Chan in the Wax Museum. And a smell hit my nostrils as soon as I walked in.
A patrolman lounging inside the door snapped to attention when he recognized me. "Took out the seventeenth floor and part of the eighteenth," he said. "Also a pet shop here on the ground level. Some freak of dynamics. Nothing else is damaged down here, but every fish tank went. That's the smell."
Barney Muldoon, an old friend with the look and mannerisms of a Hollywood cop, appeared out of the shadows. A tough man, and nowhere as dumb as he liked to pretend, which was why he was head of the Bomb Squad.
"Your baby, Barney?" I asked casually.
"Looks that way. Nobody killed. The call went out to you because a clothier's dummy was burned on the eighteenth floor and the first car here thought it was a human body."
(Wait: George Dorn is screaming....)
Saul's face showed no reaction to the answer-but poker players at the Fraternal Order of Police had long ago given up trying to read that inscrutable Talmudic countenance. As Barney Muldoon, I knew how I would feel if I had the chance to drop this case on another department and hurry home to a beautiful bride like Rebecca Goodman. I smiled down at Saul-his height would keep him from appointment to the Force now, but the rules were different when he was young-and I added quietly, "There might be something in it for you, though."
The fedora ducked as Saul took out his pipe and started to fill it. All he said was, "Oh?"
"Right now," I went on, "we're just notifying Missing Persons, but if what I'm afraid of is right, it'll end up on your desk after all."
He struck a match and started puffing. "Somebody missing at this hour . . . might be found among the living ... in the morning," he said between drags. The match went out, and shadows moved where nobody stirred.
"And he might not, in this case," Muldoon said. "He's been gone three days now."
"An Irishman your size can't be any more subtle than an elephant," Saul said wearily. "Stop tantalizing me. What have you got?"
"The office that was hit," Muldoon explained, obviously happy to share the misery, "was a magazine called Confrontation. It's kind of left-of-center, so this was probably a right-wing job and not a left-wing one. But the interesting thing is that we couldn't reach the editor, Joseph Malik, at his home, and when we called one of the associate editors, what do you think he told us? Malik disappeared three days ago. His landlord confirms it. He's been trying to get hold of Malik himself because there's a no-pets rule there and the other tenants are complaining about his dogs. So, if a man drops out of sight and then his office gets bombed, I kind of think the matter might come to the attention of the Homicide Department eventually, don't you?"
Saul grunted. "Might and might not," he said. "I'm going home. I'll check with Missing Persons in the morning, to see what they've got."
The patrolman spoke up. "You know what bothers me most about this? The Egyptian mouth-breeders."
"The what?" Saul asked.
"That pet shop," the patrolman explained, pointing to the other end of the lobby. "I looked over the damage, and they had one of the best collections of rare tropical fish in New York City. Even Egyptian mouth-breeders." He noticed the expressions on the faces of the two detectives and added lamely, "If you don't collect fish, you wouldn't understand. But, believe me, an Egyptian mouth-breeder is pretty hard to get these days, and they're all dead in there."
"Mouth-breeder?" Muldoon asked incredulously.
"Yes, you see they keep their young in their mouths for a couple days after birth and they never, never swallow them. That's one of the great things about collecting fish: you get to appreciate the wonders of nature."
Muldoon and Saul looked at each other. "It's inspiring," Muldoon said finally, "to have so many college graduates on the Force these days."
The elevator door opened, and Dan Pricefixer, a redheaded young detective on Muldoon's staff, emerged, carrying a metal box.
"I think this is important, Barney," he began immediately, with just a nod to Saul. "Damned important. I found it in the rubble, and it had been blown partly open, so I looked inside."
"And?" Muldoon prompted.
"It's the freakiest bunch of interoffice memos I ever set eyes on. Weird as tits on a bishop."
This is going to be a long night, Saul thought suddenly, with a sinking feeling. A long night, and a heavy case.
"Want to peek?" Muldoon asked him maliciously.
"You better find a place to sit down," Pricefixer volunteered. "It'll take you awhile to go through them."
"Let's use the cafeteria," Saul suggested.
"You just have no idea," the patrolman repeated. "The value of an Egyptian mouth-breeder."
"It's rough for all nationalities, man or fish," Muldoon said in one of his rare attempts to emulate Saul's mode of speech. He and Saul turned to the cafeteria, leaving the patrolman looking vaguely distressed.
His name is James Patrick Hennessy and he's been on the Force three years. He doesn't come back into this story at all. He had a five-year-old retarded son whom he loved helplessly; you see a thousand faces like his on the street every day and never guess how well they are carrying their tragedies . . . and George Dorn, who once wanted to shoot him, is still screaming. . . . But Barney and Saul are in the cafeteria. Look around. The transition from the Gothic lobby to this room of laminated functional and glittering plastic colors is, one might say, trippy. Never mind the smell; we're closer to the pet shop here.
Saul removed his hat and ran a hand through his gray hair pensively, as Muldoon read the first two memos in one quick scan. When they were passed over, he put on his glasses and read more slowly, in his own methodical and thoughtful way. Hold onto your hats. This is what they said:
Saul and Muldoon exchanged glances. "Let's see the next one," Saul said. He and Muldoon read together:
Saul paused. "I'll make you a bet, Barney," he said quietly. "The Joseph Malik who vanished is the J.M. these memos were written for."
"Sure," Muldoon replied scornfully. "These Illuminati characters are still around, and they got him. Honest to God, Saul," he added, "I appreciate the way your mind usually pole-vaults ahead of the facts. But you can ride a hunch just so far when you're starting from nothing."
"We're not starting from nothing," Saul said softly. "Here's what we've got to start with. One"-he-held up a finger-"a building is bombed. Two"-another finger- "an important executive disappeared three days before the bombing. Already, there's an inference, or two inferences: something got him, or else he knew something was coming for him and he ducked out. Now, look at the memos. Point three"-he held up another finger-"a standard reference work, the Encyclopedia Britannica, seems to be wrong about when the Illuminati came into existence. They say eighteenth-century Germany, but the other memos trace it back to-let's see-Spain in the seventeenth century, France in the seventeenth century, then in the eleventh century back to Italy and halfway across the world to Afghanistan. So we've got a second inference: if the Britannica is wrong about when the thing started, they may be wrong about when it ended. Now, put these three points and two inferences together-"
"And the Illuminati got the editor and blew up his office. Nutz. I still say you're going too fast."
"Maybe I'm not going fast enough," Saul said. "An organization that has existed for a couple of centuries minimum and kept its secrets pretty well hidden most of that time might be pretty strong by now." He trailed off into silence, and closed his eyes to concentrate. After a moment, he looked at the younger man with a searching glance.
Muldoon had been thinking too. "I've seen men land on the moon," he said. "I've seen students break into administration offices and shit in the dean's waste basket. I've even seen nuns in mini-skirts. But this international conspiracy existing in secret for eight hundred years, it's like opening a door in your own house and finding James Bond and the President of the United States personally shooting it out with Fu Manchu and the five original Marx Brothers."
"You're trying to convince yourself, not me. Barney, it sticks out so far that you could break it into three pieces and each one would be long enough to goose somebody up in the Bronx. There is a secret society that keeps screwing up international politics. Every intelligent person has suspected that at one time or another. Nobody wants war any more, but wars keep happening-why? Face it, Barney-this is the heavy case we've always had nightmares about. It's cast iron. If it were a corpse, all six pallbearers would get double hernias at the funeral. Well?" Saul prompted.
"Well, we're either going to have to do something or get off the pot, as my sainted mother used to say."
It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton. On April 1 the world's great powers came closer to nuclear war than ever before, all because of an obscure island named Fernando Poo. But, while all other eyes turned to the UN building in apprehension and desperate hope, there lived in Las Vegas a unique person known as Carmel. His house was on Date Street and had a magnificent view of the desert, which he appreciated. He liked to spend long hours looking at the wild cactus wasteland although he did not know why. If you told him that he was symbolically turning his back upon mankind, he would not have understood you, nor would he have been insulted; the remark would be merely irrelevant to him. If you added that he himself was a desert creature, like the gila monster and the rattlesnake, he would have grown bored and classified you as a fool. To Carmel, most of the world were fools who asked meaningless questions and worried about pointless issues; only a few, like himself, had discovered what was really important-money- and pursued it without distractions, scruples, or irrelevancies. His favorite moments were those, like this night of April 1, when he sat and tallied his take for the month and looked out his picture window occasionally at the flat sandy landscape, dimly lit by the lights of the city behind him. In this physical and emotional desert he experienced happiness, or something as close to happiness as he could ever find. His girls had earned $46,000 during March, of which he took $23,000; after paying 10 percent to the Brotherhood for permission to operate without molestation by Banana-Nose Maldonado's soldiers, this left a tidy profit of $20,700, all of it tax free. Little Carmel, who stood five feet two and had the face of a mournful weasel, beamed as he completed his calculations; his emotion was as inexpressible, in normal terms, as that of a necrophile who had just broken into the town morgue. He had tried every possible sexual combination with his girls; none gave him the frisson of looking at a figure like that at the end of a month.
He did not know that he would have another $5 million, and incidentally become the most important human being on earth, before May 1. If you tried to explain it to him, he would have brushed everything else aside and asked merely, "The five million-how many throats do I hafta cut to get my hands in it?"
But wait: Get out the Atlas and look up Africa. Run your eyes down the map of the western coast of that continent until you come to Equatorial Guinea. Stop at the bend where part of the Atlantic Ocean curves inward and becomes the Bight of Biafra. You will note a chain of small islands; you will further observe that one of these is Fernando Poo. There, in the capital city of Santa Isobel, during the early 1970s, Captain Ernesto Tequilla y Mota carefully read and reread Edward Luttwak's Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook, and placidly went about following Luttwak's formula for a perfect coup d'etat in Santa Isobel. He set up a timetable, made his first converts among other officers, formed a clique, and began the slow process of arranging things so that officers likely to be loyal to Equatorial Guinea would be on assignment at least forty-eight hours away from the capital city when the coup occurred. He drafted the first proclamation to be issued by his new government; it took the best slogans of the most powerful left-wing and right-wing groups on the island and embedded them firmly in a tapioca-like context of bland liberal-conservatism. It fit Luttwak's prescription excellently, giving everybody on the island some small hope that his own interests and beliefs would be advanced by the new regime. And, after three years of planning, he struck: the key officials of the old regime were quickly, bloodlessly, placed under house arrest; troops under the command of officers in the cabal occupied the power stations and newspaper offices; the inoffensively fascist-conservative-liberal-communist proclamation of the new People's Republic of Fernando Poo went forth to the world over the radio station in Santa Isobel. Ernesto Tequilla y Mota had achieved his ambition-promotion from captain to generalissimo in one step. Now, at last, he began wondering about how one went about governing a country. He would probably have to read a new book, and he hoped there was one as good as Luttwak's treatise on seizing a country. That was on March 14.
On March 15, the very name of Fernando Poo was unknown to every member of the House of Representatives, every senator, every officer of the Cabinet, and all but one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In fact, the President's first reaction, when the CIA report landed on his desk that afternoon, was to ask his secretary, "Where the hell is Fernando Poo?"
Saul took off his glasses and polished them with a handkerchief, conscious of his age and suddenly more tired than ever. "I outrank you, Barney," he began.
Muldoon grinned. "I know what's coming."
Methodically, Saul went on, "Who, on your staff, do you think is a double agent for the CIA?
"Robinson I'm sure of, and Lehrman I suspect."
"Both of them go. We take no chances."
"I'll have them transferred to the Vice Squad in the morning. How about your own staff?"
"Three of them, I think, and they go, too."
"Vice Squad'll love the increase in manpower."
Saul relit his pipe. "One more thing. We might be hearing from the FBI."
"We might indeed."
'They get nothing."
"You're really taking me way out on this one, Saul."
"Sometimes you have to follow your hunches. This is going to be a heavy case, agreed?"
"A heavy case," Muldoon nodded.
"Then we do it my way."
"Let's look at the fourth memo," Muldoon said tonelessly. They read:
Pricefixer stuck his head in the cafeteria door. "Minute?" he asked.
"What is it?" Muldoon replied.
"Peter Jackson is out here. He's the associate editor I spoke to on the phone. He just told me something about his last meeting with Joseph Malik, the editor, before Malik disappeared."
"Bring him in," Muldoon said.
Peter Jackson was a black man-truly black, not brown or tan. He was wearing a vest in spite of the spring weather. He was also very obviously wary of policemen. Saul noted this at once, and began thinking about how to overcome it-and at the same time he observed an increased blandness in Muldoon's features, indicating that he, too, had noted it and was prepared to take umbrage.
"Have a seat," Saul said cordially, "and tell us what you just told the other officer." With the nervous ones it
was sound policy to drop the policeman role at first, and try to sound like somebody else-somebody who, quite naturally, asks a lot of questions. Saul began slipping into the personality of his own family physician, which he usually used at such times. He made himself feel a stethoscope hanging about his neck.
"Well," Jackson began in a Harvard accent, "this is probably not important. It may be just a coincidence."
"Most of what we hear is just unimportant coincidence," Saul said gently. "But it's our job to listen."
"Everybody but the lunatic fringe has given up on this by now," Jackson said. "It really surprised me when Joe told me what he was getting the magazine into." He paused and studied the two impassive faces of the detectives; finding little there, he went on reluctantly. "It was last Friday. Joe told me he had a lead that interested him, and he was putting a staff writer on it. He wanted to reopen the investigation of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and the Kennedy brothers."
Saul carefully didn't look at Muldoon, and just as carefully moved his hat to cover the memos on the table. "Excuse me a moment," he said politely and left the cafeteria.
He found a phone booth in the lobby and dialed his home. Rebecca answered after the third ring; she obviously had not gotten back to sleep after he left. "Saul?" she asked, guessing who would be calling at this hour. "It's going to be a long night," Saul said. "Oh, hell."
"I know, baby. But this case is a son-of-a-bitch!" Rebecca sighed. "I'm glad we had a little ball earlier this evening. Otherwise, I'd be furious."
Saul thought, suddenly, of how this conversation would sound to an outsider. A sixty-year-old man and a twenty-five-year-old wife. And if they knew she was a whore and a heroin addict when I first met her . ..
"Do you know what I'm going to do?" Rebecca lowered her voice. "I'm going to take off my nightgown, and throw the covers to the foot of the bed, and lie here naked, thinking about you and waiting."
Saul grinned. "A man my age shouldn't be able to respond to that, after doing what I did earlier."
"But you did respond, didn't you?" Her voice was confident and sensual.
"I sure did. I won't be able to leave the phone booth for a couple of minutes."
She chuckled softly and said, "I'll be waiting. . . ."
"I love you," he said, surprised (as always) at the simple truth of it in a man his age. I won't be able to leave the phone booth at all if this keeps up, he thought. "Listen," he added hurriedly, "let's change the subject before I start resorting to the vices of a high school boy. What do you know about the Illuminati?" Rebecca had been an anthropology major, with a minor in psychology, before the drug scene had captured her and she fell into the abyss from which he had rescued her; her erudition often astonished him.
"It's a hoax," she said.
"A hoax. A bunch of students at Berkeley started it back around sixty-six or sixty-seven."
"No, that's not what I'm asking. The original Illuminati in Italy and Spain and Germany in the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries? You know?"
"Oh, that's the basis of the hoax. Some right-wing historians think the Illuminati still exist, you see, so these students opened an Illuminati chapter on the campus at Berkeley and started sending out press releases on all sorts of weird subjects, so people who want to believe in conspiracies would have some evidence to point to. That's all there is to it. Sophomore humor."
I hope so, Saul thought. "How about the Ishmaelian sect of Islam?"
"It has twenty-three divisions, but the Aga Khan is the leader of all of them. It was founded around-oh-1090 A.D., I think, and was originally persecuted, but now it's part of the orthodox Moslem religion. It has some pretty weird doctrines. The founder, Hassan i Sabbah, taught that nothing is true and everything is permissible. He lived up to that idea-the word 'assassin' is a corruption of his name."
"Yes, now that I think of it. Sabbah introduced marijuana to the Western world, from India. The word 'hashish' also comes from his name."
"This is a heavy case," Saul said, "and now that I can walk out of the phone booth without shocking the patrol-
man in the hall, I'll get back to work on it. Don't say anything that'll get me aroused again. Please."
"I won't. I'll just lie here naked and . . ."
"Good-bye," she said, laughing.
Saul hung up frowning. Goodman's intuition, the other detectives call it. It's not intuition; it's a way of thinking beyond and between the facts, a way of sensing wholes, of seeing that there must be a relationship between fact number one and fact number two even if no such relationship is visible yet. And I know. There is an Illuminati, whether or not those kids at Berkeley are kidding.
He came out of his concentration and realized where he was. For the first time, he noticed a sticker on the door:
THIS PHONE BOOTH RESERVED FOR CLARK KENT
He grinned: an intellectual's kind of joke. Probably somebody on the magazine.
He walked back to the cafeteria, reflecting. "Nothing is true. Everything is permissible." With a doctrine like that, people were capable of ... He shuddered. Images of Buchenwald and Belsen, of Jews who might have been him. . . .
Peter Jackson looked up as he reentered the cafeteria. An intelligent, curious black face. Muldoon was as impassive as the faces on Mount Rushmore. "Mad Dog, Texas, was the town where Malik thought these . . . assassins . . . had their headquarters," Muldoon said. "That's where the staff writer was sent"
"What was the staff writer's name?" Saul asked.
"George Dorn," Muldoon said. "He's a young kid who used to be in SDS. And he was once rather close to the Weatherman faction."
Hagbard Celine's gigantic computer, FUCKUP-First Universal Cybernetic-Kinetic-Ultramicro-Programmer- was basically a rather sophisticated form of the standard self-programming algorithmic logic machine of the time; the name was one of his whimsies. FUCKUP's real claim to uniqueness was a programmed stochastic process whereby it could "throw" an I Ching hexagram, reading' a random open circuit as a broken (yin) line and a random closed circuit as a full (yang) line until six such "lines" were round. Consulting its memory banks, where the whole tradition of 1 Ching interpretation was stored, and then cross-checking its current scannings of that day's political, economic, meteorological, astrological, astronomical, and technological eccentricities, it would provide a reading of the hexagram which, to Hagbard's mind, combined the best of the scientific and occult methods for spotting oncoming trends. On March 13, the stochastic pattern spontaneously generated Hexagram 23, "Breaking Apart." FUCKUP then interpreted:
"My ass, no blame," Hagbard raged; and rapidly reprogrammed FUCKUP to read off to him its condensed psychobiographies of the key figures in world politics and the key scientists in chemobiological warfare.
The first dream came to Dr. Charles Oceangoing on February 2-more than a month before FUCKUP picked up the vibrations. He was, as usual with him, aware that he was dreaming, and the vision of a gigantic pyramid which seemed to walk or lumber' about meant nothing and quickly vanished. Now he seemed to be looking at an enlargement of the DNA double helix; it was so detailed that he began searching it for the bonding irregularities at every 23rd Angstrom. To his surprise, they were missing; instead, there were other irregularities at each 17th Angstrom. "What the devil . . . ?" he asked-and the pyramid returned seeming to speak and saying, "Yes, the devil." He jolted awake, with a new concept, Anthrax-Leprosy-Mu, coming into consciousness, and began jotting in his bedside pad.
"What the hell is this Desert Door project?" the President had asked once, scrutinizing the budget. "Germ warfare," an aide explained helpfully. "They started with something called Anthrax Delta and now they've worked their way up to something called Anthrax Mu and . . . " His voice was drowned out by the rumble of paper shredders in the next room. The President recognized the characteristic sound of the "cesspool cleaners" hard at work. "Never mind," he said. "Those things make me nervous." He scribbled a quick "OK" next to the item and went on to "Deprived Children," which made him feel better. "Here," he said, "this is something we can cut"
He forgot everything about Desert Door, until the Fernando Poo crises. "Suppose, just suppose," he asked the Joint Chiefs on March 29, I go on the tube and threaten all-out thermonuclear heck, and the other side doesn't blink. Have we got something that'll scare them even more?"
The J.C.'s exchanged glances. One of them spoke tentatively. "Out near Las Vegas," he said, "we have this Desert Door project that seems to be way ahead of the Comrades in b-b and b-c-"
"That's biological-bacteriological and biological-chemical," the President explained to the Vice-President, who was frowning. "It has nothing to do with B-B guns." Turning his attention back to the military men, he asked, "What have we got specifically that will curdle Ivan's blood?"
"Well, there's Anthrax-Leprosy-Mu. . . . It's worse than any form of anthrax. More deadly than bubonic and anthrax and leprosy all in one lump. As a matter of fact," the General who was speaking smiled grimly at the thought, "our evaluation suggests that "with death being so quick, the psychological demoralization of the survivors-if there are any survivors-will be even worse than in thermonuclear exchange with maximum 'dirty' fallout."
"By golly," the President said. "By golly. We won't use that out in the open. My speech'll just talk Bomb, but we'll leak it to the boys in the Kremlin that we've got this anthrax gimmick in cold storage, too. By gosh, you just wait and see them back down." He stood up, decisive, firm, the image he always projected on television. "I'm going to see my speech writers right now. Meanwhile, arrange that the brain responsible for this Anthrax-Pi gets a raise. What's his name?" he asked over his shoulder going out the door.
"Mocenigo. Dr. Charles Mocenigo."
"A raise for Dr. Charles Mocenigo," the President called from the hallway.
"Mocenigo?" the Vice-President asked thoughtfully. "Is he a wop?"
"Don't say wop," the President shouted back. "How many times do I have to tell you? Don't say wop or kike or any of those words anymore." He spoke with some asperity, since he lived daily with the dread that someday the secret tapes he kept of all" Oval Room transactions would be released to the public. He had long ago vowed that if that day ever came, the tapes would not be full of "(expletive deleted)" or "(characterization deleted)." He was harassed, but still he spoke with authority. He was, in fact, characteristic of the best type of dominant male in the world at this time. He was fifty-five years old, tough, shrewd, unburdened by the complicated ethical ambiguities which puzzle intellectuals, and had long ago decided that the world was a mean son-of-a-bitch in which only the most cunning and ruthless can survive. He was also as kind as was possible for one holding that ultra-Darwinian philosophy; and he genuinely loved children and dogs, unless they were on the site of something that had to be bombed in the National Interest. He still retained some sense of humor, despite the burdens of his almost godly office, and, although he had been impotent with his wife for nearly ten years now, he generally achieved orgasm in the mouth of a skilled prostitute within 1.5 minutes. He took amphetamine pep pills to keep going on his grueling twenty-hour day, with the result that his vision of the world was somewhat skewed in a paranoid direction, and he took tranquilizers to keep from worrying too much, with the result that his detachment sometimes bordered on the schizophrenic; but most of the time his innate shrewdness gave him a fingernail grip on reality. In short, he was much like the rulers of Russia and China.
In Central Park, the squirrel woke again as a car honked loudly in passing. Muttering angrily, he leaped to another tree and immediately went back to sleep. At the all-night Bickford's restaurant on Seventy-second Street, a young man named August Personage left a phone booth after making an obscene call to a woman in Brooklyn; he left behind one of his THIS PHONE BOOTH RESERVED FOR CLARK KENT stickers. In Chicago, one hour earlier on the clock but the same instant, the phone booth closed, a rock group called Clark Kent and His Supermen began a revival of "Rock Around the Clock": their leader, a tall black man with a master's degree in anthropology, had been known as El Hajj Starkerlee Mohammed during a militant phase a few years earlier, and his birth certificate said Robert Pearson on it. He was observing his audience and noted that bearded young white cat, Simon, was with a black woman as usual-a fetish Pearson-Mohammed-Kent could understand by reverse psychology, since he preferred white chicks himself. Simon, for once, was not entranced by the music; instead, he was deep in conversation with the girl and drawing a diagram of a pyramid on the table to explain what he meant. "Crown Point," Pearson heard him say over the music. And listening to "Rock Around the Clock" ten years earlier, George Dorn had decided to let his hair grow long, smoke dope and become a musician. He had succeeded in two of those ambitions. The statue of Tlaloc in the Museum of Anthropology, Mexico, D.F., stared inscrutably upward, toward the stars . . . and the same stars glittered above the 'Carribean where the porpoise named Howard sported in the waves.
The motorcade passes the Texas School Book Depository and moves slowly toward the Triple Underpass. At the sixth-floor window, Lee Harvey Oswald sights carefully through the Carcano-Mannlicher: his mouth is dry, desert dry. But his heartbeat is normal; and no sweat stands out on his forehead. This is the moment, he is thinking, the one moment transcending time and hazard, heredity and environment, the final test and proof of free will and of my right to call myself a man. In this moment, now, as I tighten the trigger, the Tyrant dies, and with him all the lies of a cruel, mendacious epoch. It is a supreme exaltation, this moment and this knowledge: and yet his mouth is dry, dust-dry, dry as death, as if his salivary glands alone rebelled against the murder which his intellect pronounced necessary and just. Now: He recalls the military formula BASS: Breathe, Aim, Slack, Squeeze. He breathes, he aims, he slacks, he starts to squeeze, as a dog barks suddenly-
And his mouth falls open in astonishment as three shots ring out, obviously from the direction of the Grassy Knoll and Triple Underpass.
"Son-of-a-bitch," he said, softly as a prayer. And he began to grin, a rictus not of omnipotence such as he had expected but of something different and unexpected and therefore better-omniscience. That smirk appeared in all the photos during the next day and a half, before his own death, a sneering smile that said so clearly that none dared to read it: I know something you don't know. That grimace only faded Sunday morning when Jack Ruby pumped two bullets into Lee's frail fanatic body, and its secret went with him to the grave. But another part of the secret had already left Dallas on Friday afternoon's TWA Whisperjet to Los Angeles, traveling behind the business suit, gray hair, and only moderately sardonic eyes of a little old man who was listed on the flight manifest as "Frank Sullivan."
This is serious, Peter Jackson was thinking; Joe Malik wasn't on a paranoid trip at all. The noncommittal expressions of Muldoon and Goodman did not deceive him at all-he had long ago learned the black art of surviving in a white world, which is the art of reading not what is on a face but what is behind the face. The cops were worried and excited, like any hunters on the track of something both large and dangerous. Joe was right about the assassination plot, and his disappearance and the bombing were part of it. And that meant George Dorn was in danger, too, and Peter liked George even if he was a snotty kid in some ways and an annoying ass-kisser about the race thing like most young white radicals. Mad Dog, Texas, Peter thought: that sure sounds like a bad place to be in trouble.
(Almost fifty years before, a habitual bank robber named Harry Pierpont approached a young convict in Michigan City Prison and asked him, "Do you think there might be a true religion?")
But why is George Dorn screaming while Saul Goodman is reading the memos? Hold on for another jump, and this one is a shocker. Saul is no longer human; he's a pig. All cops are pigs. Everything you've ever believed is probably a lie. The world is a dark, sinister, mysterious and totally frightening place. Can you digest all that quickly? Then, walk into the mind of George Dorn for the second time, five hours before the explosion at Confrontation (four hours before, on the clock) and suck on the joint, suck hard and hold it down. ("One o'clock . . . two o'clock . . . three o'clock . . . ROCK!"). You are sprawled on a crummy bed in a rundown hotel, and a neon light outside is flashing pink and blue patterns into your room. Exhale slowly, feel the hit of the weed and see if the wallpaper looks any brighter yet, any less Unintentional Low Camp. It's hot, Texas-dry hot, and you push your long hair back from your forehead and haul out your diary, George Dorn, because reading over what you wrote last sometimes helps you to learn what you're really getting into. As the neon splotches the page with pink and blue, read this:
There was a knock at the door.
The Fear came over George. Whenever he was high, the least little detail wrong in his world would bring the Fear, irresistible, uncontrollable. He held his breath, not to contain the smoke in his lungs, but because terror had paralyzed the muscles in his chest. He dropped the little notebook in which he wrote his thoughts daily and clutched at his penis, a habitual gesture in moments of panic. The hand holding the roach drifted, automatically, over the hollowed-out copy of Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, which lay beside him on the bed, and he dropped the half-inch twist of paper and marijuana on top of the plastic Baggie full of green grains. Instantly a brown smoldering dime-sized hole opened up on the bag, and the pot near the coal started to smoke.
"Stupid," said George, as his thumb stabbed the smoking coal to crush it, and he drew back his lips in a grim-ace of pain.
A short fat man walked into the room, Law Officer written in every mean line of his crafty little face. George shrank back and started to close It Can't Happen Here; like lightning, three stiff, concrete-hard fingers drove into his forearm. He screamed and the book jumped out of his hand, spilling pot all over the bedspread.
"Don't touch that," said the fat man. "An officer will be in to gather it up for evidence. I went easy with that karate punch. Otherwise you'd be nursing a compound fracture of the left arm in Mad Dog County Jail tonight, and no right-thinking doctor likely to have a mind to come out and treat you."