THE ILLUMINATUS! TRILOGY
BOOK FIVE: GRUMMET
THE TENTH TRIP, OR MALKUTH
FAREWELL TO PLANET EARTH
As the earth turned on its axis and dawn reached city after city, hamlet after hamlet, farm after farm, mountain and valley after mountain and valley, it became obvious that May 1 would be bright and sunny almost everywhere. In Athens a classical scholar waking in the small cell where certain Platonic opinions had landed him felt a burst of unexpected hope and greeted Helios with rolling syllables from Sappho, crying through the bars, "Brodadaktylos Eos!" Birds, startled by the shout, took off from the jailyard below, filling the air with the flapping of their wings; the guards came and told him to shut up. He answered them gaily with "Polyphloisbois thalassas! You've taken everything else away from me, but you can't take old Homer away!"
In Paris the Communists under the Red banner and the anarchists under the Black were preparing for the annual International Labor Solidarity Day, at which the usual factionalism and sectarianism would once again demonstrate the absolute lack of international labor solidarity. And in London, Berlin, a thousand cities, the Red and the Black would wave and the tongues of their partisans would wag, and the age-old longing for a classless society would once again manifest itself; while, in the same cities, an older name and an older purpose for that day would be commemorated in convent after convent and school after school where verses (far older than the name of Christianity) were sung to the Mother of God:
Queen of the Angels Queen of the May
In the United States, alas, the usual celebrations of National Law Day had to be cancelled, since the rioting was not quite ended yet.
But everywhere, in Asia and Africa as in Europe and the Americas, the members of the Oldest Religion were returning from their festivals, murmuring "Blessed be" as they parted, secure in their knowledge that the Mother of God was indeed still alive and had visited them at midnight, whether they knew her as Dian, Dan, Tan, Tana, Shakti, or even Erzulie.
In Nairobi, Nkrumah Fubar picked up his mail from a friend employed at the post office. To his delight, American Express had relented and corrected their error, crediting him with his February 2 payment at last. This was, to his thinking, big magic, since the notification had been mailed from New York even before he began his geodesic spiels against the President of American Express on April 25. Obviously, such retroactive witchcraft was worthy of further investigation, and the key was the synergetic geometry of the Fuller tetrahedron in which he had kept his manikin during the spell-casting. Over breakfast, before leaving for the university, he opened Fuller's No More Second-Hand God and again grappled with the arcane mathematics and metaphysics of omnidirectional halo. Finishing breakfast, he closed the book, shut his eyes, and tried to visualize the Fuller universe. The image formed, and, to his amazement and amusement, it was identical with certain symbols an old Kikuyu witch doctor had once drawn when explaining the doctrine of "fan-shaped destiny" to him.
As the book closed in Kenya, the drums of Orabi stopped abruptly. It was one in the morning there, and the visiting anthropologist, Indole Ringh, immediately asked how the dancers knew the ceremony was finished. "The danger is past," an old Hopi told him patiently, "can't you feel the difference in the air?" (Saul, Barney, and Markoff Chaney were racing toward Las Vegas in the rented Brontosaurus, while Dillinger was leisurely driving back toward Los Angeles.) In Honolulu, as the clocks struck nine the previous evening, Buckminster Fuller, trotting between airplanes, suddenly caught a glimpse of a new geodesic structure fully incorporating omnidirectional halo . . . And, after a four-hour flight eastward, landing in Tokyo at the "same time" he left Honolulu, he had a detailed sketch finished (it looked somewhat fan-shaped) as the NO SMOKING FASTEN SEAT BELT sign flashed. (It was four A.M. in Los Angeles, and Dillinger, safely home— he thought— heard the gunfire dying out in the distance. The President must already be withdrawing the National Guard, at least in part, he thought.) The phone by Rebecca's bed rang just then, eight o'clock New York time, and she answered it to hear Molly Muldoon shout excitedly, "Saul and Barney are on TV. Turn it on— they've saved the country!"
In Las Vegas, Barney blinked under the TV lights and stared woodenly into the camera, while Saul kept his eyes on the interviewer and spoke in his kindly-family-doctor persona.
"Would you tell our viewers, Inspector Goodman, how you happened to be looking in Lehman Caves for the missing man?" The interviewer had the professional tone of all TV newscasters; his intonation wouldn't have changed if he'd been asking "And why did you find our sponsor's product more satisfactory?" or "How did you feel when you learned you had brain cancer?"
"Psychology," Saul pronounced gravely. "The suspect was a procurer. That's a definite psychological type, just as a safecracker, a bank robber, a child molester, and a policeman are definite types. I tried to think and feel like a procurer. What would such a man do with the whole government looking for him? Attempt an escape to Mexico or somewhere else? Never—that's a bank-robber reaction. Procurers are not people who take risks or make bold moves against the odds. What would a procurer do? He would look for a hole to hide in."
"The FBI crime lab definitely confirms that the man Inspector Goodman found is the missing plague-carrier, Carmel," the interviewer threw in. (He had orders to repeat this every two minutes.) "Tell me, Inspector, why wouldn't such a man hide in, say, an empty house, or a secluded cabin in the mountains?"
"He wouldn't travel far," Saul explained. "He'd be too paranoid— seeing police officers everywhere he went. And his imagination would vastly exaggerate the actual power of the government. There is only one law enforcement agent to each four hundred citizens in this country, but he would imagine the proportion reversed. The most secluded cabin would be too nerve-wracking for him. He'd imagine hordes of National Guardsmen and law officers of all sorts searching every square foot of woods in America. He really would. Procurers are very ordinary men, compared to hardened criminals. They think like ordinary people in most ways. The ordinary man and woman never commits a crime because they have the same exaggerated idea of our omnipotence." Saul's tone was neutral, descriptive, but in New York Rebecca's heart skipped a beat: This was the new Saul talking, the one who was no longer on the side of law and order.
"So you just asked yourself, where's a good-sized hole near Las Vegas?"
"That was all there was to it, yes."
"The American people will certainly be grateful to you. And how did it happen that you got involved in this case? You're with the New York Police Department, aren't you?"
How will he answer that one? Rebecca wondered; just then the phone rang.
Turning down the TV sound, she lifted the phone and said, "Yes?"
"I can tell by your voice you're the kind of woman who fully meets the criteria of my value system," said August Personage. "I want to lick your ass and your pussy and have you piss on me and—"
"Well, that's a most amazing story, Inspector Goodman," the interviewer was saying. Oh, hell, Rebecca thought. Saul's expression was so sincere that she knew he had just told one of the most outrageous lies of his life.
The phone rang again. With a pounce Rebecca grabbed it and snouted, "Listen, you creep, if you keep calling me-"
"That's no way to talk to a man who just saved the world," Saul's voice said mildly.
"Saul! But you're on television—"
"They videotaped that a half-hour ago. I'm at the Las Vegas Airport, about to take a jet to Washington. I'm having a conference with the President"
"My God. What are you going to tell him?"
"As much," Saul pronounced, "as an asshole like him can understand."
(In Los Angeles, Dr. Vulcan Troll watched the seismograph move upward to Grade 2. That still wasn't serious, but he scratched a note to the graduate student who would soon be replacing him. "If this jumps to 3, call me at my house." Then he drove home, passing Dillinger's bungalow, humming happily, thankful that the rioting was ending and the Guard being withdrawn. At the lab the graduate student, reading a paperback titled Carnal Orgy, didn't notice when the graph jumped past 3 and hit 4.)
Danny Pricefixer, waking in Ingolstadt, glanced at his wristwatch. Noon. My God, he thought; sleeping so late was a major sin in his system of morality. Then he remembered a little of last night, and smiled contentedly, turning in the bed to kiss Lady Velkor's neck. A huge black arm hung over the other shoulder, and a black hand, limp in sleep, held her breast. "My God!" Danny said out loud, remembering more, as Clark Kent sat up groggily and stared at him.
("Smiling Jim" Treponema, at that moment, was navigating a very dangerous pass in the mountains of Northern California. Strapped to his back was a 6mm Remington Model 700 Bolt Action rifle with 6-power Bushnell telescope; a canteen of whiskey was hooked to one side of his belt, and a canteen of water to the other. He was perspiring from labor, in spite of the altitude, but he was one of the few happy people in the country, since he had been nowhere near a radio for three days and had missed the whole terror connected with Anthrax Leprosy Pi plague, the declaration of martial law, and the rioting and bombings. He was on his yearly vacation, free from the sewer of smut in which he was submerged forty-nine weeks of the year— the foulness and filth in which he heroically struggled daily, risking his soul for the good of his fellow citizens— and he was breathing clean air and thinking clean thoughts. Specifically, as an avid hunter, he had read that only one American eagle still survived, and he was determined to be immortalized in hunting literature as the man who killed it. He knew well, of course, how ecologists and conservation-ists would regard that achievement, but their opinions didn't bother him. A bunch of fags, commies, and smut-nuts: That was his estimate of those bleeding-heart types. Probably smoked dope, too. Not a man's man among them. He shifted his rifle, which was pressing his sweat-soaked shirt uncomfortably, and climbed onward and upward.)
Mama Sutra stared at the central Tarot card in the Tree of Life: It was The Fool.
"Pardon me," the little Italian tree said.
"This is getting ridiculous," Fission Chips muttered. "I don't intend to spend the rest of my life in conversation with trees."
"I'm a tree worth talking to," the dark-skinned tree with her hair in a bun persisted.
He squinted. "I know what you are," he said finally, "half tree and half woman. Ergo, a dryad. Benefit of classical education."
"Very good," said the dryad. "But when you stop tripping, you're going to crash. You'll remember London and your job, and you'll wonder how you're going to explain the last month to them."
"Somebody stole a month from me," Chips agreed pleasantly. "A cynical old swine named the Dealy Lama. Or another feller named Toad. Bad lot. Shouldn't go around stealing months."
The tree handed him an envelope. "Try not to lose that," she said. "It'll make everybody in your office so happy that they'll accept any story you make up to explain how it took you a month to get it."
"What is it?"
"The name of every BUGGER agent in the British government. Together with the false names they use for the bank accounts where they keep all the money they can't account for. And the account numbers and the names of the banks, too. In one nice package. All it needs is a red ribbon."
"I think my leg is being pulled again," said Chips. But he was coming down, and he opened the envelope and peered at the contents. "This is real?" he asked.
"They won't be able to account for the money," the tree assured him. "Some very interesting confessions will be obtained."
"Who the devil are you?" Chips asked, seeing a teen-age Italian girl and not a tree.
"I'm your holy guardian angel," she said.
"You look like an angel," Chips admitted grudgingly, "but I don't believe any of this. Time travel, talking trees, giant toads, none of it. Somebody slipped me a drug."
"Yes, somebody slipped you a drug. But I'm your holy guardian angel, and I'm slipping you this envelope, and it'll make everything all right back in London. All you have to do is make up a halfway reasonable lie . . ."
"I was held prisoner in a BUGGER dungeon with a beautiful Eurasian love-slave," Chips began improvising.
"Very good," she said. "They won't believe it, but they'll think you believe it. That's good enough."
"Who are you really?"
But the tree only repeated, "Don't lose that envelope," and walked away, turning into an Italian teenager again, and then into a gigantic woman carrying a golden apple. Hauptmann, chief of field operations for the Federal Republic of Germany's police, looked around the Fuehrer Suite in disgust. He had arrived from Bonn and headed straight for the Donau Hotel, determined to make some sense of the scandals, tragedies, and mysteries of the previous night. The first suspect he grilled was Freiherr Hagbard Celine, sinister jet-set millionaire, who had come to the rock festival with a large entourage. Celine and Hauptmann talked quietly in one corner of the suite of the Donau Hotel, while the cameras of police photographers clicked away behind them.
Hauptmann was tall and thin, with close-cropped silver-gray hair, long, vulpine features, and piercing eyes. "Dreadful tragedy, the death of your President last night," he said. "My condolences. Also for the unhappy state of affairs in your country." Actually, Hauptmann was delighted to see the United States of America falling into chaos. He had been fifteen at the end of World War II, had been called to the colors as the Allies advanced on German soil, and had seen his country overrun by American troops. All of this made a deeper and more lasting impression on him than the U.S. - West German cooperation that developed later.
"Not my president, not my country," said Hagbard quickly. "I was born in Norway. I lived in the U.S. for quite some time, and did become a citizen for a while, when I was much younger than I am now. But I renounced my American citizenship years ago."
"I see," said Hauptmann, trying unsuccessfully to conceal his distaste for Hagbard's indistinct sense of national identity. "And what country today has the honor of claiming you as a citizen?"
Smiling, Hagbard reached for the inside pocket of the brass-buttoned navy-blue yachtsman's blazer he had worn for the occasion. He handed his passport to Hauptmann, who took it and grunted with surprise.
"Equatorial Guinea." He looked up, frowning. "Fernando Poo!"
"Quite so," said Hagbard, a white-toothed grin breaking through his dark features. "I will accept your expression of sympathy for the sad state of affairs in that country."
Hauptmann's dislike of this Latin plutocrat grew deeper. The man was undoubtedly one of those unprincipled international adventurers who carried citizenship the way many freighters carried Panamanian registry. Celine's wealth was probably equal to or greater than the total wealth of Equatorial Guinea. Yet it was likely that he had done nothing for his adopted country other than bribe a few officials to obtain the citizenship. Equatorial Guinea had split asunder, nearly plunging the world into a third and final war, and yet here was this parasitical Mediterranean fop, driving to a rock festival in a Bugatti Royale with a host of drones, yes-men, flunkies, minions, whores, dope fiends, and all-round social liabilities. Disgusting!
Hagbard looked around. "This room is a pretty foul place to have a conversation. How can you stand that smell? It's nauseating me."
Pleased to be causing some discomfort to this man, whom he disliked more and more as he got to know him, Hauptmann settled back in the red armchair, his teeth bared in a smile. "You will forgive me, Freiherr Celine, I find it necessary to be here at this time and also necessary to talk to you. However, I would have thought this peculiar odor of fish would not be unpleasant to you. Perhaps your nautical dress has led me astray."
Hagbard shrugged. "I am a seaman of sorts. But just because a man likes the sea doesn't mean he wants to sit next to a ton of dead mackerel. What do you think it is, anyway?"
"I have no idea. I was hoping you could identify it for me."
"Just dead fish, that's all it smells like to me. I'm afraid you may be expecting more from me all around than I can possibly provide. I suppose you think I can tell you a lot about last night. Just what are you trying to find out?"
"First of all, I want to find out what actually happened. What we have, I think, is a case of drug abuse on a colossal scale. And we— the Western world in general— have had too many of those in recent years. Apparently there is not a single person who was present at this festival who did not partake of some of this soft drink dosed with LSD."
"Treat every man to his dessert and none should 'scape tripping," said Hagbard.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I was parodying Shakespeare," said Hagbard. "But it's not very relevant. Please go on."
"Well, so far no one has been able to give me a coherent or plausible account of the evening's events," said Hauptmann. "There have been at least twenty-seven deaths that I'm fairly sure of. There has been massive abuse of LSD. There are numerous accounts of pistol, rifle, and machine-gun fire somewhere on the shore of the lake. A number of witnesses say they saw many men in Nazi uniforms running around in the woods. If that wasn't a hallucination, dressing as a Nazi is a serious crime in the Federal Republic of Germany. So far we have managed to keep much of this out of the papers by holding the press people who came here incommunicado, but we will have to determine precisely what crimes were committed and who committed them, and we must prosecute them vigorously. Otherwise, we will appear to the whole world as a nation incapable of dealing with the wholesale corruption of youth within our borders."
"All nations are wholesale corruptors of youth," said Hagbard. "I wouldn't worry about it."
Hauptmann grunted, seeing in his mind's eye a vision of drug-crazed masqueraders in Nazi uniforms and himself in a German army uniform over thirty years ago at the age of fifteen and understanding very well what Hagbard meant "I have my job to do," he said sullenly.
See how much more pleasant the world is now that the Saures are gone, the Dealy Lama flashed into his brain. Hagbard kept a poker face.
Hauptmann went on, "Your own role in the incident seems to have been a constructive one, Freiherr Celine. You are described as going to the stage when the hysteria and the hallucinating had reached some sort of a climax and making a speech which greatly calmed the audience."
Hagbard laughed. "I have no idea at all what I said. You know what I thought? I thought I was Moses and they were the Israelites and I was leading them across the Red Sea while the Pharaoh's army, intent on slaughtering them, pursued."
"The only Israelites present last night seemed to have fared rather badly. You're not Jewish yourself, are you, Freiherr Celine?"
"I'm not religious at all. Why do you ask?"
"I thought that then, perhaps, you could shed some light on the scene we find here in these rooms. Well, no matter for the moment. It is interesting that you thought you led them across the lake. In fact, this morning, when the police reserves entered the area, they found most of the young people wandering around on the shore of the lake opposite the festival"
"Well, perhaps we all marched around it while we thought we were going across it," said Hagbard. "By the way, didn't you have any men at the festival at all? If you did, they should be able to tell you something."
"We had a few plainclothes agents there, and they could tell me nothing. All but one had unknowingly taken the LSD, and the one who didn't must have been hallucinating too, from some kind of psychological contagion. He saw the Nazis, a glowing woman a hundred feet tall, a bridge across the lake. Sheer garbage. As you doubtless noticed, there were no uniformed police there. Arrangements were made— and sanctioned at the highest level of government— to leave policing at the festival to its management. It was felt that, given the attitudes of youth today, official police would not be effective in handling the huge crowd. I might say, in my own opinion, I consider that a cowardly decision. But I'm not a politician, thank God. As a result of that decision, order-keeping at the festival was ultimately in the hands of people like yourself who happened to be inspired to do something about the situation. And were themselves hampered, as involuntary victims of LSD."
"Well," said Hagbard, "in order to fully understand what happened, you have to realize that many people there probably welcomed an acid trip. Many must have brought their own acid and taken it. I, personally, have had a great deal of experience with LSD. A man of my wide-ranging interests, you understand, feels obligated to try everything once. I was taking acid back when it was still legal everywhere in the world."
"Of course," said Hauptmann sourly.
Hagbard looked around the room and said, "Have you considered the possibility that these men, old as they are, might have unknowingly imbibed LSD and suffered heart failure or some such thing?"
There were twenty-three dead men in the suite. Thirteen were in the large parlor where Hagbard and Hauptman were sitting. The dead men, too, were seated, in various attitudes of total collapse, some with their heads lolling back, others bent forward at the waist, heads hanging between their knees, knuckles resting on the floor. There were nine more old men in the bedroom, and one in the bathroom. Most of them were white-haired; several were completely bald. Not one could have been under eighty years of age, and several appeared to be over ninety. The man in the bathroom had been caught by death in the embarrassing position of sitting on the toilet with his pants down. This was the old gentleman with the white mustache and the unruly forelock who had spoken harshly to George in the lobby the night before last.
Hauptmann shook his head. "I'm afraid it will be no easy task to find out what happened to these men. They all seem to have died at about the same moment. There are no observable traces of poison, no signs of struggle or pain, except for the expression around the eyes. All of their eyes are open, and they appear to be looking at some unguessable horror."
"Do you have any idea who they are? Why did you say I might have been able to help if I were Jewish?"
"We have found their passports. They are all Israeli citizens. That in itself is quite odd. Generally, Jews that old do not care to come to this country, for obvious reasons. However, there was an organization connected with the Zionist movement founded here in Ingolstadt on May 1, 1776. These elders of Zion might have assembled here to celebrate the anniversary."
"Oh, yes," said Hagbard. "The Illuminati of Bavaria, wasn't it? I remember hearing about them When we first arrived here."
"The organization was founded by an unfrocked Jesuit, and its membership consisted of freemasons, freethinkers, and Jews. There were also some famous names in politics and the arts: King Leopold, Goethe, Beethoven."
"And this organization was behind the Zionist movement, you say?"
Hauptmann brushed away the suggestion with long, slender fingers. "I did not say they were behind anything. There are always those who think that every political or criminal phenomenon must have something behind it. There is always a conspiracy that explains everything. That is unscientific. If you wish to understand events, you must analyze the masses of the people and the economic, cultural, and social conditions in which they live. Zionism was a logical development out of the situation of the Jews during the last hundred years. One need not imagine some group of illuminated ones thinking it up and promulgating the movement for devious reasons of their own. The Jews were in a wretched condition in many places— they needed somewhere to go— a child could have seen that Palestine was an attractive possibility."
"Well," said Hagbard, "if the Illuminati are of no importance in the history of Israel, what are these twenty-three old Israelis doing here on the day of the organization's founding?"
"Perhaps they thought the Illuminati were important Perhaps they themselves were members. I shall make inquiries to Israel about their identities. Relatives will probably claim the bodies. Otherwise, the German government will see that they are buried in Ingolstadt Jewish cemetery with proper rabbinical ceremonies. The government is very solicitous of Jewish persons. Nowadays."
"Maybe they were freethinkers," said Hagbard. "Maybe they wouldn't like being buried with religious ceremonies."
"The question is wearisome and unimportant," said Hauptmann. "We shall consult the Israeli government and do as it suggests." An elderly waiter knocked and was admitted by one of Hauptmann's men. He pushed a serving cart bearing a magnificent silver coffee urn, cups, and a tray full of pastries. Before serving anyone else, he rolled the cart across the thick carpet to Hauptmann and Hagbard. His rheumy eyes studiously avoided the bodies scattered around the suite. He poured out coffee for both men.
"Lots of cream and sugar," said Hagbard.
"Black for me," said Hauptmann, picking up a pastry with cherry filling and biting into it with relish.
"How do you know somebody hasn't dosed the coffee or the pastry with LSD?" said Hagbard, smiling mischievously.
Hauptmann brushed his hand over his hair and smiled back. "Because I would put this hotel out of business if I were served food tainted in any way, and they know it. They will take the utmost precautions."
"Now that we're being a little more sociable and drinking coffee together," said Hagbard, "let me ask you a favor. Turn me loose today. I have interests to look after in the U.S., and I'd like to be leaving."
"You were originally planning to stay for the entire week. Now, suddenly, you have to leave at once. I don't understand."
"I was planning to stay, but that was before most of the U.S. government got wiped out. Also, since the remainder of the festival is being called off, there's no reason to stay. I'm still not clear on that, however. Why is the festival being called off? Whose idea is it, and what are the reasons?"
Hauptmann stared down his long nose at Hagbard and took another bite of the pastry, while Hagbard wondered how the man could eat in the midst of this awful smell. He could understand how a detective would not be bothered by the presence of the dead, but the fishy smell was something else again.
"To begin with, Freiherr Celine, there is the disappearance and possible death by drowning of the four members of the Saure family, known as the American Medical Association. Accounts of what happened to them are garbled, fantastic, and contradictory, as are those of every other incident that occurred last night. As I reconstruct it, they drove their car straight into the lake."
"From which side?"
Hauptmann shrugged. "It hardly matters. The lake is virtually bottomless. If they're in there, I doubt that we will ever find them. They must have been under the influence of LSD, and they certainly weren't used to it." He looked accusingly at Hagbard. "They were so clean-cut. Absolutely the hope of the future. And the car was a national relic. A great loss."
"Were they the only well-known casulaties?"
"Who can say? We have no accurate record of who was attending the festival. No list was kept of those who bought tickets, as should have been done. A thousand young men and women could have drowned themselves in that lake and we wouldn't know about it. In any case, the Saures, as you may not know, were the moving spirits behind the Ingolstadt festival. Very patriotic. They wished to do something to promote tourism to Germany, particularly of Bavaria, since they were native Bavarians."
"Yes," said Hagbard, "I read that Ingolstadt was their home town."
Hauptmann shook his head. "Their press agent gave that out when the festival was conceived. Actually, they were born in northern Bavaria, in Wolframs-Eschenbach. It is the birthplace of another famous German musician, the Minnesinger Wolfram von Eschenbach, who wrote Parzival. Well, now they are gone, barring a miracle, and no one else seems to be in charge. Without them the festival is simply collapsing, like a headless body. Furthermore, the government wants the festival shut down because we don't want a repetition of last night. LSD is still illegal in West Germany, unlike the U.S."
"There are parts of the U.S. where it's still illegal," said Hagbard. "It's not illegal in Equatorial Guinea, because we've just never had a drug problem there."
"Since you are an ethusiastic citizen of Equatorial Guinea, I am sure that delights you," said Hauptmann. "Well, Freiherr Celine, I would like to release you immediately, but when I've pieced together more of last night's events I shall have more questions for you. I must ask you to stay in the Ingolstadt area."
Hagbard stood up. "If you'll agree not to have me tailed or guarded, I'll give you my word that I'll stick around."
Hauptmann smiled thinly. "Your word won't be necessary. Every road is blocked; no planes are permitted to take off or land at Ingolstadt Aerodrome. You can have the run of the town, the lake, and the festival area, and you will not be disturbed."
Hagbard left at the same time the old waiter did. The waiter bowed Hagbard out the door and when it closed behind him said, "A great shame."
"Well," said Hagbard, "they were all in their eighties. That's a good age to die."
The waiter laughed. "I am seventy-five, and I do not think any age is a good age to die. But that is not what I was referring to. Perhaps mein herr did not notice the fish-tank in the room. It was broken, and the fish were spilled all the floor. I have taken care of that tank for over twenty years. It was a fine collection of rare tropical fish. Even Egyptian mouth-breeders. Now they are all dead. So it goes."
Hagbard wanted to ask the waiter what an Egyptian mouth-breeder was, but the old man suddenly nodded, pushed open a doorway to a service room, and disappeared.
Danny Pricefixer was wandering around in the dark with Lady Velkor and Clark Kent, feeling absolutely wonderful, when Miss Portinari intercepted him. "This will interest you," she said, handing him an envelope similar to the one she had handed Fission Chips.
"What is it?" he asked, seeing her as a Greek woman in classic robes holding a golden apple.
'Take a look."
He opened the envelope and found a picture of Tobias Knight and Zev Hirsch, in the middle of the Confrontation office, setting the timer on the bomb.
"This man," she said, pointing to Knight, "is willing to turn State's evidence. Against both Hirsch and Atlanta Hope. You've wanted to nab them for a long time, haven't you?"
"Who are you?" Danny asked, staring.
"I am the one Mama Sutra told you of, the one appointed to contact you here in Ingolstadt. I am of the Illuminated."
("What are those two talking about?" Clark Kent asked Lady Velkor. "Who knows?" she shrugged. "They're both tripping.")
"God's Lightning is the most active front in America today for the Cult of the Yellow Sign," Miss Portinari went on, Telling the Mark the Tale ... A few feet away, Joe Malik said to Hagbard, "I don't like frame-ups. Even for people like Hirsch and Hope."
"You suspect us of unethical behavior?" Hagbard asked innocently.
(Pat Walsh is dialing a phone.)
"I don't believe in jails," Joe said bluntly. "I don't think Atlanta and Zev will be any better when they get out. They'll be worse."
"You can be sure the Illuminati will protect you," Miss Portinari concluded gravely. Danny Pricefixer continued staring at her.
The phone is ringing far away, dragging me back to a body, a self, a purpose, shattering my memories of being the Ringmaster. I sit up and lift the receiver. "Hirsch," I say.
"My name is Pat Walsh," a woman's voice says. "I speak for Atlanta herself. The pass word is Theleme."
"Go ahead," I say hoarsely, wondering if it's about that peacenik professor we killed at UN plaza on April 1.
"You're being framed for a bombing," she said. "You have to go into hiding."
Hagbard laughed. "Atlanta isn't returning to the States. She's been a double agent for over two years. Working for me." (I found the warehouse door the Walsh woman described. It was open, as she had promised, and I wondered about the name on it, Gold & Appel Transfers . . .) "So is Tobias Knight, and he'll cop a plea. It's all been carefully planned, Joe. You only thought bombing your own office was your idea."
"How about Zev Hirsch?" Joe asked.
"He's having some very educational experiences about this time in New York City," Hagbard replied. "I don't believe in jails, either."
And I am trapped, the three of them surround me, and Jubela demands, 'Tell us the Word," Jubelo repeats, "Tell us the Word," and Jubelum unsheathes the sword, 'Tell us the Word, Zev Hirsch . . ."
"A bombing in New York?" the President asked shrewdly, trying to look as tough as his predecessor.
"Yes," Saul went on. "As soon as the link with God's Lightning was clear to us, Barney and I took off for Las Vegas. You can understand why."
The President didn't understand any of this, but wasn't about to admit that. "You headed for Las Vegas?" he asked shrewdly, trying to look as tough as his predecessor.
"Yes," Saul said sincerely. "As soon as we found out about Anthrax Leprosy Pi and Dr. Mocenigo's death, we realized the same organization must be implicated. God's Lightning—"
"God's Lightning?" the President asked shrewdly, remembering earlier years when he had been a guest speaker at their rallies.
"And the secret group that has infiltrated them and taken them over, the Cult of the Yellow Sign. We have reason to believe that an English intelligence agent named Chips will be arriving in London in a few hours with evidence against most of the Yellow Sign operatives within their government. You see, sir, this is an international conspiracy."
"An international conspiracy?" the President asked shrewdly.
And in Central Park our old friend Perri hops from tree to ground, snatches a nut thrown by August Personage, and quickly runs around the tree three times in case this friend-possibly-enemy produces a gun and starts blasting . . .
While far above the highest mountains in California another aspect of my consciousness soars like winged poetry: and knows, somehow, more about what is coming than Dr. Troll's seismograph: for I am the last, truly the last. The ecologists are right: mine is not merely an endangered but nearly an extinct species, and my senses have been sharpened beyond instinct by these last years. I circle around, I circle around, I soar: I bank: I float. I am, rare moment for me! not thinking about fish, for my belly is full at present I circle around, circle around, thinking only about the soaring, the freedom, and, more vaguely, about the bad vibes coming up from below. Must you have a name? Call me Hah' One, then: haliaeetus leucocephalus the last: symbol once of imperial Rome and now of imperial America: of which I neither know nor care, for all I know is the freedom of my estate and about that the Romans and the Americans have never had aught but the most confused and distorted ideas. Wearing my long green feathers I circle around. I am Hali One and I scream, not with rage or with fear or with anger; I scream with ecstasy, the terrible joy of my very existence, and the scream echoes from mountain to mountain to another mountain, resonating onward and onward, a sound that only another of my species could understand, and none are left to hear it. But still I scream: the shriek of Shiva the Destroyer, true face of Vishnu the Preserver and Brahma the Creator: for my scream is not of life or death but of life-in-death, and I am equally contemptuous of Perri and of August Personage, of squirrels and of men, and of all lesser birds who cannot ascend to my height and know the agony and supremacy of my freedom.
No— because they broke Billie Freshette slow and ugly and they broke Marilyn Monroe fast and bright like lightning They broke Daddy and they broke Mama but shit like I mean it this time they ain't going to break me No even if it's greater with Simon than with any other man even if he knows more than any other man I've had No it can't be him and it can't even be Hagbard who seems to be the king of the circus the very Ringmaster and keeper of the final secret No it can't be any man and it most certainly by Jesus and by Christ it can't be going back to Mister Charlie's police force No it's dark like my own skin and dark like the destiny they've inflicted on me because of my skin but whatever it is I can only find it alone God the time that rat bit me while I was sleeping Daddy screaming until he. was almost crying "I'll kill the fucking landlord I'll kill the motherfucker I'll cut his white heart out" until Mama finally calmed him No he died a little then No it would have been better if he had killed the landlord No even if they caught him and they would have caught him No even if he died in the goddam electric chair and we went on welfare No a man shouldn't let that happen to his children he shouldn't be realistic and practical No no matter how good it is no matter how wonderful the come it will always be there in the back of my head that Simon is white No white radical white revolutionary white lover it doesn't matter it still comes up white and it's not acid and it's not a mood I mean shit you have to decide sooner or later Are you on somebody else's trip or are you on your own No and I 'can't join God's Lightning or even what's left of the old Women's Lib I mean shit that poetry Simon quoted is all wrong No it's not true that no man is an island No the truth is every man is an island and especially every woman is an island and even more every black woman is an island
On August 23, 1928, Rancid, the butler in the Drake Mansion on old Beacon Hill, reported a rather distressing fact to his employer. "Good Lord Harry," old Drake cried at first, "is he turning Papist now?" His second question was less rhetorical: "You're absolutely sure?"
"There is no doubt," Rancid replied. "The maids showed me the socks, sir. And the shoes."
That night there was a rattier strangulated attempt at conversation in the mansion's old library. "Are you going back to Harvard?" "Not yet."
"Are you at least going to try another damned alienist?" "They call themselves psychiatrists these days, Father. I don't think so."
"Dammit, Robert, what did happen in the war?" "Many things. They all made profits for our bank, though, so don't worry about them." "Are you turning Red?"
"I see no profit there. The State of Massachusetts killed two innocent men today for holding opinions of that sort." "Innocent my Aunt Fanny. Robert, I know the judge personally—"
"And he believes what the friend of a banker should believe."
There was a long pause, and old Drake crushed out a cigar he had hardly started. "Robert, you know you're sick." "Yes."
"What is this latest thing— glass and nails in your shoes? Your mother would die if she knew."
There was another silence. Robert Putney Drake finally answered, lanquidly, "It was an experiment. A phase. The Sioux Indians do much worse to themselves in the Sun Dance. So do lots of chaps in Spanish monasteries, and in India, among other places. It's not the answer." "It's really finished?"
"Oh, yes. Quite. I'm trying something else." "Something to hurt yourself again?" "No, nothing to hurt myself."
"Well, then, I'm glad to hear that. But I do wish you would go to another alienist, or psychiatrist, or whatever they call themselves." Another pause. "You can pull yourself together, you know. Play the man, Robert. Play the man."
Old Drake was satisfied. He had talked turkey to the boy; he had performed his fatherly duty. Besides, the private detectives assured him that the Red Business really was trivial: The lad had been to several anarchist and Communist meetings, but his comments had been uniformly aloof and cynical.
It was nearly a year later when the really bad news from the private investigators arrived.
"How much will the girl take to keep her mouth shut?" old Drake asked immediately.
"After we pay hospital expenses, maybe a thousand more," the man from Pinkerton's said.
"Offer her five hundred," the old man replied. "Go up to a thousand only if you have to."
"I said maybe a thousand," the detective said bluntly. "He used a special kind of whip, one with twisted nails in the ends. She might want two or three thou."
"She's only a common whore. They're used to this sort of thing."
"Not to this extent." The detective was losing his deferential tone. "The photos of her back, and her buttocks especially, didn't bother me much. But that's because I'm in this business and I've seen a lot. An average jury would vomit, Mr. Drake. In court—"
"In court," old Drake pronounced, "she would come before a judge who belongs to several of my clubs and has investments in my bank. Offer five hundred."
Two months thereafter, the stock market crashed and New York millionaires began leaping from high windows onto hard streets. Old Drake, the next day, ran into his son begging on the street near the Old Granary cemetery. The boy was wearing old clothes from a secondhand store.
"It's not that bad, son. We'll pull through."
"Oh, I know that. You'll come out ahead, in fact, if I'm any judge of character."
"Then what the hell is this disgraceful damned foolishness?"
"Experience. I'm breaking out of a trap."
The old man fumed all the way back to the bank. That evening he decided it was time for another open and honest discussion; when he went to Robert's room, however, he found the boy thoroughly trussed up in chains and quite purple in the face.
"God! Damn! Son! What is this?"
The boy— who was twenty-seven and, in some respects, more sophisticated than his father— grinned and relaxed.
The purple faded from his face. "One of Houdini's escapes," he explained simply.
"You intend to become a stage magician? My God!"
"Not at all. I'm breaking out of another trap— the one that says nobody but Houdini can do these things."
Old Drake, to do him justice, hadn't acquired his wealth without some shrewdness concerning human peculiarities. "I begin to see," he said heavily. "Pain is a trap. That was why you put the broken glass in your shoes that time. Fear of poverty is a trap. That's why you tried begging on the streets. You're trying to become a Superman, like those crazy boys in Chicago, the 'thrill killers.' What you did to that whore last year was part of all this. What else have you done?"
"A lot." Robert shrugged. "Enough to be canonized as a saint, or to be burnt as a diabolist. None of it seems to add up, though. I still haven't found the way." He suddenly made a new effort, and the chains slipped to the floor. "Simple yoga and muscle control," he said without pride. "The chains in the mind are much harder. I wish there were a chemical, a key to the nervous system . . ."
"Robert," said old Drake, "you are going back to an alienist. I'll have you committed if you won't go voluntarily."
And so Dr. Faustus Unbewusst acquired a new patient, at a time when many of his most profitable cases were discontinuing therapy because of the monetary depression. He made very few notes on Robert, but these were subsequently found by an Illuminati operative, photostated, and placed in the archives at Agharti, where Hagbard Celine read them in 1965. They were undated, and scrawled in a hurried hand— Dr. Unbewusst, in reaction-formation against his own anal component, was a conspicuously untidy and careless person— but they told a fairly straightforward story:
(In Ingolstadt, Danny Pricefixer and Clark Kent are still staring at each other over Lady Velkor's sleeping body when Atlanta Hope bursts into the room, fresh from a shower, and throws herself on the bed, hugging and kissing everybody. "It was the first time," she cries. "The first time I ever really made it! It took all three of you." On the other side of Kent, Lady Velkor opens an eye and says, "Don't I get any credit? It takes Five that way, remember?")
Mama Sutra was only thirty then, but she streaked her hair with gray to fit the image of the Wise Woman. She recognized Drake as soon as he wandered into the tea parlor: old Drake's son, the crazy one, loaded.
He motioned to her before the waitress could take his order. Mama Sutra, quick to pick up clues, could tell from his suit's wrinkles that he had been lying down; Boston Common is a long walk from Beacon Hill; there were shrinks in the neighborhood; ergo, he hadn't come from home but from a therapy session.
"Tea leaves or cards?" she asked courteously, sitting across from him at the table.
"Cards," he said absently, looking down from the window to the Common. "Coffee," he added to the waitress. "Black as sin."
"Were you listening to the preachers down there?" Mama Sutra asked shrewdly.
"Yes." He grinned, engagingly. " 'He that believeth shall never taste death.' They're in rare form today."
"Shuffle," she said, handing the cards over. "But they awakened some spiritual need in you, my son. That's why you came up here."
He met her eye cynically. "I'm willing to try any kind of witchcraft once. I just came from a practitioner of the latest variety, just off the boat from Vienna a few years."
Bull's-eye, she thought.
"Neither his science nor their unenlightened faith can help you," Mama said somberly, ignoring his cynicism. "Let us hope that the cards will show the way." She dealt a traditional Tree of Life.
At the crown was Death upside-down, and below it were the King of Swords in Chokmah and the Knight of Wands in Binah. "He that believeth shall never taste death," he had quoted cynically.
"I see a battlefield," she began; it was common Boston gossip that Drake first started acting odd after the war. "I see Death come very close to you and then miss you." She pointed to the reverse Death card with a dramatic finger. "But many died, many that you cared for deeply."
"I liked a few of them," he said grudgingly. "Mostly I was worried about my own a—my own hide. But go ahead."
She looked at the Knight of Wands in the Binah position. Should she mention the bisexuality implied? He was going to a shrink, and might be able to take it. Mama tried to hold the Knight of Wands and King of Swords together in her focus, and the way became clear. "There are two men in you. One loves other men, perhaps too much. The other is desperately trying to free himself from all of humanity, even from the world. You're a Leo," she added suddenly, taking a leap.
"Yes," he said, unimpressed. "August 6." He was thinking that she had probably looked up the birthdates of all the richer individuals in town in case they ever wandered in.
"It's very hard for Leos to accept death," she said sadly. "You are like Buddha after he saw the corpse on the road. No matter what you have or own, no matter what you achieve, it will never be enough, for you saw too many corpses in the war. Ah, my son, would that I could help you! But I only read cards; I am no alchemist who sells the Elixir of Eternal Life." While he was digesting that one— a sure hit, she felt— Mama rushed on to examine the Five of Wands reversed in Chesed and the Magus upright in Ge-burah. "So many wands," she said. "So many fire signs. A true Leo, but so much of it turned inward. See how the energetic Knight of Wands descends to the Five upside-down: All your energies, and Leos are very powerful, are turned against yourself. You are a burning man, trying to consume yourself and be reborn. And the Magus, who shows the way, is below the King of Swords and dominated by him: Your reason won't allow you to accept the necessity of the fire. You are still rebelling against Death." The Fool was in Tipareth and, surprisingly, upright. "But you are very close to taking the final step. You are ready to let the fire consume even your intellect and die to this world." This was going swimmingly, she thought— and then she saw the Devil in Netzach and the Nine of Swords reversed in Yod. The rest of the Tree was even worse: the Tower in Yesod and the Lovers reversed (of course!) in Malkuth. Not a cup or a pentacle anywhere.
"You're going to emerge as a much stronger man," she said weakly.
"That isn't what you see," Drake said. "And it isn't what I see. The Devil and the Tower together are a pretty destructive pair, aren't they?"
"I suppose you know what the Lovers reversed means, too?" she asked.
" 'The Answer of the Oracle Is Always Death,' " he quoted.
"But you won't accept it."
"The only way to conquer Death— until science produces an immortality pill— is to make him your servant, your company cop," Drake said calmly. "That's the key I've been looking for. The bartender never becomes an alcoholic, and the high priest laughs at the gods. Besides, the Tower is rotten to the core and deserves to be destroyed." He pointed abruptly to the Fool. "You have some real talents obviously— even if you do cheat like everybody in this racket—and you must know there are two choices after crossing the Abyss. The right-hand path and the left-hand path. I seem to be headed for the left-hand path. I can see that much, and it confirms what I already suspect. Go ahead and tell me the rest of what you see; I'm not afraid to hear it."
"Very well." Mama wondered if he was one of the few, the very few, who would eventually come to the attention of the Shining Ones. "You will make Death your servant, as a tactic to master him. Yours is, indeed, the left-hand path. You will cause immense suffering— especially to yourself at first. But after a while you won't notice that; after a while you won't even notice the horrors that you inflict on others. Men will say that you are a materialist, a worshipper of money. What do you hate most?" she asked abruptly.
"Sentimental slop and lies. All the Christian lies in Sunday school, all the democratic lies in the newspapers, all the socialist lies our so-called intellectuals are spouting these days. Every rotten, crooked, sneaking, hypocritical deception people use to hide from themselves that we're all still hunting animals in a jungle."
"You admire Neitzsche?"
"He was crazy. Let's just say I have less contempt for him, and for DeSade, than I have for most intellectuals."
"Yes. So we know what the Tower is that you will destroy. Everything in America that smacks of democracy or Christianity or socialism. The whole facade of humanitarianism from the Constitution onward to the present. You will turn your fire loose and burn all that up with your Leonine energies. You will force your view of America into total reality, and make every citizen afraid of the jungle and of the death that lurks in the jungle. Crime and commerce are moving closer together, due to Prohibition; you will complete their marriage. All, all this, just to make Death your servant instead of your master. The money and power are just incidental to that."
NO— because even if you think you have it beat even if you think you can work out a reconciliation a separate peace I mean shit the war still goes on No you're only kidding yourself Even say I love Simon and that's all Holly-
wood bullshit you can't really tell in only one week no matter how good it is but even if I love Simon the war goes on as long as we're going around in separate skins White Man Black Man Bronze Man White Woman Black Woman Bronze Woman even if Hagbard claims to have gotten past all that on his submarine it's only because they're under the water and away from the world Out here the bastards are using live ammunition like it says in the old joke Maybe that's the only truth in the world Not the Bibles or poetry or philosophy but just the old jokes Especially the bad jokes and the sad jokes No they're using live ammunition I mean shit they never see me all of them White Man Black Man Bronze Man White Woman Black Woman Bronze Woman they look at me and I'm in their game I have my role I am Black Woman I am never just me No it goes on and on every step upward is a step into more hypocrisy until the game is stopped completely and nobody has found out how to do that No the more Simon says that he does see me the more he's lying to himself No he never makes it with White Woman because she's too much like his mother or some damned Freudian reason like that I mean shit No I can't go on in their game I am going to scream with rage I am going to scream like an eagle I am going to scream in the ears of the whole world until somebody does see me until I am not Black Woman and not Black and not Woman and nothing No nothing justme No they'll say I'm giving up love and sanity Well fuck them fuck them all No I won't turn back the acid has changed everything No at the end of it when I really am me maybe then I can find a better love and a better sanity No but first I have to find me.