THE ILLUMINATUS! TRILOGY
THE SECOND TRIP, OR CHOKMAH
Hopalong Horus Rides Again
And Spaceship Earth, that glorious and bloody circus, continued its four-billion-year-long spiral orbit about the Sun; the engineering, I must admit, was so exquisite that none of the passengers felt any motion at all. Those on the dark side of the ship mostly slept and voyaged into worlds of freedom and fantasy; those on the light side moved about the tasks appointed for them by their rulers, or idled waiting for the next order from above. In Las Vegas, Dr. Charles Mocenigo woke from another nightmare and went to the toilet to wash his hands. He thought of his date the next night with Sherri Brandi and, quite mercifully, had no inkling that it would be his last contact with a woman. Still seeking calm, he went to the window and looked at the stars-being a specialist, with no interest beyond his own field, he imagined he was looking up rather than out at them. In New Delhi aboard the afternoon TWA flight for Hong Kong, Honolulu, and Los Angeles, R. Buckminster Fuller, one of the few people to be aware that he lived on a spaceship, glanced at his three watches, showing local time (5:30 P.M.), time at Honolulu, his point of destination (2:30 A.M. the next morning) and present time in his home at Carbondale, Illinois (3:30 A.M. the previous morning.) In Paris, the noon crowds were jostled by hordes of young people distributing leaflets glowingly describing the world's greatest Rock Festival and Cosmic Love Feast to be celebrated on the shores of Lake Totenkopf near Ingolstadt at the end of the month. At Sunderland, England, a young psychiatrist left his lunch to rush to the chronic ward and listen to weird babble proceeding from a patient who had been decade-silent: "On Walpurgasnacht it's coming. That's when His power is strongest. That's when you'll see Him. Right at the very stroke of midnight." In the middle of the Atlantic, Howard the porpoise, swimming with friends in the mid-morning sun, encountered some sharks and had a nasty fight. Saul Goodman rubbed tired eyes in New York City as dawn crept over the windowsill, and read a memo about Charlemagne and the Courts of the Illuminated; Rebecca Goodman, meanwhile, read how the jealous priests of Bel-Marduk betrayed Babylon to the invading army of Cyrus because their young king, Belshazzar, had embraced the love-cult of the goddess Ishtar. In Chicago, Simon Moon was listening to the birds begin to sing and waiting for the first cinnamon rays of dawn, as Mary Lou Servix slept beside him; his mind was active, thinking about pyramids and rain-gods and sexual yoga and fifth-dimensional geometries, but thinking mostly about the Ingolstadt Rock Festival and wondering if it would all happen as Hagbard Celine had predicted.
(Two blocks north in space and over forty years back in time, Simon's mother heard pistol shots as she left Wobbly Hall-Simon was a second-generation anarchist-and followed the crowd to gather in front of the Biograph Theatre where a man lay bleeding to death in the alley. And the next morning-July 23, 1934-Billie Freschette, in her cell at Cook County Jail, got the news from a matron. In this White Man's Country, I am the lowliest of the lowly, subjugated because I am not white, and subjugated again because I am not male. I am the embodiment of all that is rejected and scorned-the female, the colored, the tribe, the earth-all that has no place in this world of white male technology. I am the tree that is cut down to make room for the factory that poisons the air. I am the river filled with sewage. I am the Body that the Mind despises. I am the lowliest of the lowly, the mud beneath your feet. And yet of all the world John Dillinger picked me to be his bride. He plunged within me, into the very depths of me. I was his bride, not as your Wise Men and Churches and Governments know marriage, but we were truly wed. As the tree is wed to the earth, the mountain to the sky, the sun to the moon. I held his head to my breast, and tousled his hair as if it were sweet as fresh grass, and I called him "Johnnie." He was more than a man. He was mad but not mad, not as a man may go mad when he leaves his tribe and lives among hostile strangers and is mistreated and scorned. He was not mad as all other white men are mad because they have never known a tribe. He was mad as a god might be mad. And now they tell me he is dead. 'Well," the matron asked finally, "aren't you going to say anything? Aren't you Indians human?" She had a real evil shine in her eye, like the eye of the rattlesnake. She wants to see me cry. She stands there and waits, watching me through the bars. "Don't you have any feelings at all? Are you some kind of animal?" I say nothing. I keep my face immobile. No white shall ever see the tears of a Menominee. At the Biograph Theatre, Molly Moon turns away in disgust as souvenir hunters dip their handkerchiefs in the blood. I turn away from the matron and look up, out the barred window, to the stars, and the spaces between them seem bigger than ever. Bigger and emptier. Inside me there is a space like that now, big and empty, and it will never be filled again. When the tree is torn out by its roots, the earth must feel that way. The earth must scream silently, as I screamed silently.) But she understood the sacramental meaning of the handkerchiefs dipped in blood; as Simon understands it.
Simon, in fact, had what can only be called a funky education. I mean, man, when your parents are both anarchists the Chicago public school system is going to do your head absolutely no good at all. Feature me in a 1956 classroom with Eisenhower's Moby Dick face on one wall and Nixon's Captain Ahab glare on the other, and in between, standing in front of the inevitable American rag, Miss Doris Day or her older sister telling the class to take home a leaflet explaining to their parents why it's important for them to vote.
"My parents don't vote," I say.
"Well, this leaflet will explain to them why they should," she tells me with the real authentic Doris Day sunshine and Kansas cornball smile. It's early in the term and she hasn't heard about me from the last-semester teacher.
"I really don't think so," I say politely. "They don't think it makes any difference whether Eisenhower or Stevenson is in the White House. They say the orders will still come from Wall Street."
It's like a thundercloud. All the sunshine goes away. They never prepared her for this in the school where they turn out all these Doris Day replicas. The wisdom of the Fathers is being questioned. She opens her mouth and closes it and opens and closes it and finally takes such a deep breath that every boy in the room (we're all on the cusp of puberty) gets a hard-on from watching her breasts heave up and slide down again. I mean, they're all praying (except me, I'm an atheist, of course) that they won't get called on to stand up; if it wouldn't attract attention, they'd be clubbing their dicks down with their geography books. "That's the wonderful thing about this country," she finally gets out, "even people with opinions like that can say what they want without going to jail."
"You must be nuts," I say. "My dad's been in and out of jail so many times they should put in a special revolving door just for him: My mom, too. You oughta go out with subversive leaflets in this town and see what happens."
Then, of course, after school, a gang of patriots, with the odds around seven-to-one, beat the shit out of me and make me kiss their red-white-and-blue totem. It's no better at home. Mom's an anarcho-pacifist, Tolstoy and all that, and she wants me to say I didn't fight back. Dad's a Wobbly and wants to be sure that I hurt some of them at least as bad as they hurt me. After they yell at me for a half hour, they yell at each other for two. Bakunin said this and Kropotkin said that and Gandhi said the other and Martin Luther King is the savior of America and Martin Luther King is a bloody fool who's selling his people an opium Utopia and all that jive. Go down to Wobbly Hall or Solidarity Bookstore and you'll still hear the same debate, doubled, redoubled, in spades, and vulnerable.
So naturally I start hanging out on Wall Street and smoking dope and pretty soon I'm the youngest living member of what they called the Beat Generation. Which does not improve my relations with school authorities, but at least it's a relief from all that patriotism and anarchism. By the time I'm seventeen and they shot Kennedy and the country starts coming apart at the seams, we're not beatniks anymore, we're hippies, and the thing to do is go to Mississippi. Did you ever go to Mississippi? You know what Dr. Johnson said about Scotland-"The best thing you can say for it is that God created it for some purpose, but the same is true of Hell." Blot Mississippi; it's not part of this story anyway. The next stop was Antioch in dear old Yellow Springs where I majored in mathematics for reasons you will soon guess. The pot there grows wild in acres and acres of beautiful nature preserve kept up by the college. You can go out there at night, pick your own grass for the week from the female of the hemp species and sleep under the stars with a female of your own species, then wake up in the morning with birds and rabbits and the whole lost Thomas Wolfe America scene, a stone, a leaf, and unfound door and all of it, then make it to class really feeling good and ready for an education. Once I woke up with a spider running across my face, and I thought, "So a spider is running across my face," and brushed him off gently, "it's his world, too." In the city, I would have killed him. What I mean is Antioch is a stone groove but that life is no preparation for coming back to Chicago and Chemical Warfare. Not that I ever got maced before '68, but I could read the signs; don't let anybody tell you it's pollution, brothers and sisters. It's Chemical Warfare. They'll kill us all to make a buck.
I got stoned one night and went home to see what it would be like relating to Mom and Dad in that condition. It was the same but different. Tolstoy coming out of her mouth, Bakunin out of his. And it was suddenly all weird and super-freaky, like Goddard shooting a Kafka scene: two dead Russians debating with each other, long after they were dead and buried, out of the mouths of a pair of Chicago Irish radicals. The young frontal-lobe-type anarchists in the city were in their first surrealist revival just then and I had been reading some of their stuff and it clicked.
"You're both wrong," I said. "Freedom won't come through Love, and it won't come through Force. It will come through the Imagination." I put in all the capital letters and I was so stoned that they got contact-high and heard them, too. Their mouths dropped open and I felt like William Blake telling Tom Paine where it was really at. A Knight of Magic waving my wand and dispersing the shadows of Maya.
Dad was the first to recover. "Imagination," he said, his big red face crinkling in that grin that always drove the cops crazy when they were arresting him. "That's what comes of sending good working-class boys to rich people's colleges. Words and books get all mixed up with reality in their heads. When you were in that jail in Mississippi you imagined yourself through the walls, didn't you? How many times an hour did you imagine yourself through the walls? I can guess. The first time I was arrested, during the GE strike of thirty-three, I walked through those walls a million times. But every time I opened my eyes, the walls and the bars were still there. What got me out finally? What got you out of Biloxi finally? Organization. If you want big words to talk to intellectuals with, that's a fine big word, son, just as many syllables as imagination, and it has a lot more realism in it."
That's what I remember best about him, that one speech, and the strange clear blue of his eyes. He died that year, and I found out that there was more to the Imagination than I had known, for he didn't die at all. He's still around, in the back of my skull somewhere, arguing with me, and that's the truth. It's also the truth that he's dead, really dead, and part of me was buried with him. It's uncool to love your father these days, so I didn't even know that I loved him until they closed the coffin and I heard myself sobbing, and it comes back again, that same emptiness, whenever I hear "Joe Hill":
"The copper bosses lulled you, Joe."
Both lines are true, and mourning never ends. They didn't shoot Dad the clean way, like Joe Hill, but they ground him down, year after year, burning out his Wob fires (and he was Aries, a real fire sign) with their cops, their courts, their jails, and their taxes, their corporations, their cages for the spirit and cemeteries for the soul, their plastic liberalism and murderous Marxism, and even as I say that I have to pay a debt to Lenin for he gave me the words to express how I felt when Dad was gone. "Revolutionaries," he said, "are dead men on furlough." The Democratic Convention of '68 was coming and I knew that my own furlough might be much shorter than Dad's because I was ready to fight them in the streets. All spring Mom was busy at the Women for Peace center and I was busy conspiring with surrealists and Yippies. Then I met Mao Tsu-hsi.
It was April 30, Walpurgasnacht (pause for thunder on the soundtrack), and I was rapping with some of the crowd at the Friendly Stranger. H.P. Lovecraft (the rock group, not the writer) was conducting services in the back room, pounding away at the door to Acid Land in the gallant effort, new and striking that year, to break in on waves of sound without any chemical skeleton key at all and I am in no position to evaluate their success objectively since I was, as is often the case with me, 99 and 44/100ths percent stoned out of my gourd before they began operations. I kept catching this uniquely pensive Oriental face at the next table, but my own gang, including the weird faggot-priest we nicknamed Padre Pederastia, had most of my attention. I was laying it on them heavy. It was my Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade period.
"The head-trip anarchists are as constipated as the Marxists," I was giving forth; you recognize the style by now. "Who speaks for the thalamus, the glands, the cells of the organism? Who sees the organism? We cover it with clothes to hide its apehood. We won't have liberated ourselves from servitude until people throw all their clothes in the closet in spring and don't take them out again until winter. We won't be human beings, the way apes are apes and dogs are dogs, until we fuck where and when we want to, like any other mammal. Fucking in the streets isn't just a tactic to blow minds; it's recapturing our own bodies. Anything less and we're still robots possessing the wisdom of the straight line but not the understanding of the organic curve." And so on. And so forth. I think I found a few good arguments for rape and murder while I was at it.
"The next step beyond anarchy," somebody said cynically. "Real chaos."
"Why not?" I demanded. "Who works at a straight job here?" None of them did, of course; I deal dope myself. "Will you work at a straight job for something that calls itself an anarchist syndicate? Will you run an engine lathe eight unfucking hours a day because the syndicate tells you the people need what the lathe produces? If you will, the people just becomes a new tyrant."
"To hell with machines," Kevin McCool, the poet, said enthusiastically. "Back to the caves!" He was as stoned as me.
The Oriental face leaned over: she was wearing a strange headband with a golden apple inside a pentagon. Her black eyes somehow reminded me of my father's blue eyes. "What you want is an organization of the imagination?" she asked politely.
I flipped. It was too much, hearing those words just then.
"A man at the Vedanta Society told me that John Dillinger walked through the walls when he made his escape from Crown Point Jail," Miss Mao went on in a level tone. "Do you think that is possible?"
You know how dark coffee houses are. The Friendly Stranger was murkier than most. I had to get out. Blake talked to the Archangel Gabriel every morning at breakfast, but I wasn't that heavy yet.
"Hey, where you going, Simon?" somebody called. Miss Mao didn't say anything, and I didn't look back at that polite and pensive face-it would have been much easier if she looked sinister and inscrutable. But when I hit Lincoln and started toward Fullerton, I heard steps behind me. I turned and Padre Pederastia touched my arm gently.
"I asked her to come and listen to you," he said. "She was to give a signal if she thought you were ready. The signal was more dramatic than I expected, it seems. A conversation out of your past that had some heavy emotional meaning to you?"
"She's a medium?" I asked numbly.
"You can name it that." I looked at him in the light from the Biograph marquee and I remembered Mom's story about the people dipping their handkerchiefs in Dillinger's blood and I heard the old hymn start in my head ARE YOU WASHED are you washed ARE you WASHED in the BLOOD of the Lamb and I remembered how we all thought he hung out with us freaks in the hope of leading us back to the church holy Roman Catholic and apostolic as Dad called it when he was drunk and bitter. It was obvious that whatever the Padre was recruiting for had little to do with that particular theological trade union.
"What is this?" I asked. "And who is that woman?"
"She's the daughter of Fu Manchu," he said. Suddenly, he threw his head back and laughed like a rooster crowing. Just as suddenly, he stopped and looked at me. Just looked at me.
"Somehow," I said slowly, "I've qualified for a small demonstration of whatever you and she are selling. But I don't qualify for any more until I make the right move?" He gave the faintest hint of a nod and went on watching me.
Well, I was young and ignorant of everything outside ten million books I'd gobbled and guilty-unsure about my imaginative flights away from my father's realism and of course stoned of course but I finally understood why he was watching me that way, it was (this part of it) pure Zen, there was nothing I could do consciously or by volition that would satisfy him and I had to do exactly that which I could not not do, namely be Simon Moon. Which led to deciding then and there without any time to mull it over and rationalize it just what the hell being Simon Moon or, more precisely SimonMooning, consisted of, and it seemed to be a matter of wandering through room after room of my brain looking for the owner and not finding him anywhere, sweat broke out on my forehead, it was becoming desperate because I was running out of rooms and the Padre was still watching me.
"Nobody home," I said finally, sure that the answer wasn't good enough.
"That's odd," he said. "Who's conducting the search?"
And I walked through the walls and into the Fire.
Which was the beginning of the larger and funkier part of my (Simon's) education, and where we cannot, as yet, follow him. He sleeps now, a teacher rather than a learner, while Mary Lou Servix awakes beside him and tries to decide whether it was just the pot or if something really spooky happened last night. Howard sports in the Atlantic; Buckminster Fuller, flying above the Pacific, crosses the international date line and slips back into April 23 again; it is dawn in Las Vegas and Mocenigo, the nightmares and anxieties of night forgotten, looks forward cheerfully to the production of the first live cultures of Anthrax-Leprosy-Pi, which will make this a memorable day in more ways than he expects; and George Dorn, somewhere outside this time system, is writing in his journal. Each word, however, seems magically to appear by itself as if no volition on his part were necessary to its production. He read the words his pencil scrawled, but they appeared the communications of another intelligence. Yet they picked up where he had left off in his hotel room and they spoke with his private idiom:
. . . the universe is the inside without any outside, the sound made by one eye opening. In fact, I don't even know that there is a universe. More likely, there are many multiverses, each with its own dimensions, times, spaces, laws and eccentricities. We wander between and among these multiverses, trying to convince others and ourselves that we all walk together in a single public universe that we can share. For to deny that axiom leads to what is called schizophrenia.
Yeah, that's it: every man's skin is his own private multiverse, just like every man's home is supposed to be his castle. But all the multiverses are trying to merge, to create a true universe such as we have only imagined previously. Maybe it will be spiritual, like Zen or telepathy, or maybe it will be physical, one great big gang-fuck, but it has to happen: the creation of a universe and the one great eye opening to see itself at last. Aum Shiva!
-Oh, man, you're stoned out of your gourd. You're writing gibberish.
No, I'm writing with absolute clarity, for the first time in my life.
-Yeah? Well what was that business about the universe being the sound of one eye opening?
Never mind that. Who the hell are you and how did you get into my head?
"Your turn now, George."
Sheriff Cartwright stood in the door, a monk in a strange red and white robe beside him, holding some kind of wand the deep color of a fire engine.
"No-no-" George started to stammer. But he knew.
"Of course you know," the Sheriff said kindly-as if he were suddenly sorry about it all. "You knew before you left New York and came down here."
They were at the foot of the gallows. ". . . each with its own times, spaces, laws and eccentricities," George was thinking wildly. Yes: if the universe is one big eye looking at itself, then telepathy is no miracle, for anyone who opens his own eyes fully can then look through all other eyes. (For a moment, George looks through the eyes of John Ehrlichman as Dick Nixon urges lewdly, "You can say I don't remember. You can say I can't recall. I can't give any answer to that that I can recall." I can't give any answer to that that I can recall) "All flesh will see it in one instant": who wrote that?
"Gonna miss you, boy," the Sheriff said, offering an embarrassed handshake. Numbly, George clasped the man's hot, reptilian palm.
The monk walked beside him up the gallows' steps. Thirteen, George was thinking, there are always thirteen steps on a gallows. . . . And you always cream in your jeans when your neck breaks. It has something to do with the pressure on the spinal cord being transmitted through the prostate gland. The Orgasm-Death Gimmick, Burroughs calls it.
At the fifth step, the monk said suddenly: "Hail Eris."
George stared at the man dumbfounded. Who was Eris? Somebody in Greek mythology, but somebody very important. . . .
"It all depends on whether the fool has wisdom enough to repeat it."
"Quiet, idiot-he can hear us!"
I got some bad pot, George decided, and I'm still back on the hotel bed, hallucinating all this. But he repeated, uncertainly: "Hail Eris."
Immediately, just like his one and only acid trip, dimension began to alter. The steps grew larger, steeper-ascending them seemed as perilous as climbing Mount Everest. The air was suddenly lit with reddish flame- Definitely, George thought, some weird and freaky pot. ...
And then, for some reason, he looked upward.
Each step was now higher than an ordinary building. He was near the bottom of a pyramidal skyscraper of thirteen colossal levels. And at the top. . . . And at the top....
And at the top One Enormous Eye-a ruby and demonic orb of cold fire, without mercy or pity or contempt -looked at him and into him and through him.
The hand reaches down, turns on both bathtub faucets full-power, then reaches upward to do the same to the sink faucets. Banana-Nose Maldonado leans forward and whispers to Carmel, "Now you can talk."
(The old man using the name "Frank Sullivan" was met, at Los Angeles International Airport, November 22, 1963, by Mao Tsu-Hsi, who drove him to his bungalow on Fountain Avenue. He gave his report in terse, unemotional sentences. "My God," she said when he finished, "what do you make of it?" He thought carefully and grunted, "It beats the hell out of me. The guy on the triple underpass was definitely Harry Coin. I recognized him through my binoculars. The guy in the window at the Book Depository very likely was this galoot Oswald that they've arrested. The guy on the grassy knoll was Bernard Barker from the CIA Bay of Pigs gang. But I didn't get a good look at the gink on the County Records building. One thing I'm sure of: we can't keep all this to ourselves. At the very least, we pass the word on to ELF. It might alter their plans for OM. You've heard of OM?" She nodded, saying, "Operation Mindfuck. It's their big project for the next decade or so. This is a bigger Mindfuck than anything they had planned.")
"Red China?" Maldonado whispers incredulously. "You musta been reading the Readers Digest. We get all our horse from friendly governments like Laos. The CIA would have our ass otherwise." Straining to be heard over the running water, Carmel asks despondently, "Then you don't know how I could meet a Communist spy?"
Maldonado stares at him levelly. "Communism doesn't have a good image right now," he says icily; it is April 3, two days after the Fernando Poo Incident.
Bernard Barker, former servant of both Batista and Castro, dons his gloves outside the Watergate; in a flash of memory he sees the grassy knoll, Oswald, Harry Coin, and, further back, Castro negotiating with Banana-Nose Maldonado.
(But this present year, on March 24, Generalissimo Tequilla y Mota finally found the book he was looking for, the one that was as precise and pragmatic about running a country as Luttwak's Coup d'Etat had been about seizing one. It was called The Prince and its author was a subtle Italian named Machiavelli; it told the Generalissimo everything he wanted to know-except how to handle American hydrogen bombs, which, unfortunately, Machiavelli had lived too soon to foresee.)
"It is our duty, our sacred duty to defend Fernando Poo," Atlanta Hope was telling a cheering crowd in Cincinnati that very day. "Are we to wait until the godless Reds are right here in Cincinnati?" The crowd started to scream their unwillingness to wait that long-they had been expecting the godless Reds to arrive in Cincinnati since about 1945 and were, by now, convinced that the dirty cowards were never going to come and would have to be met on their own turf-but a group of dirty, longhaired, freaky-looking students from Antioch College began to chant, "I Don't Want to Die for Fernandoo Poo." The crowd turned in fury: at last, some real reds to fight. . . . Seven ambulances and thirty police cars were soon racing to scene....
(But only five years earlier Atlanta had a different message. When God's Lightning was first founded, as a splinter off Women's Liberation, it had as its slogan "No More Sexism," and its original targets were adult bookstores, sex-education programs, men's magazines, and foreign movies. It Was only after meeting "Smiling Jim" Trepomena of Knights of Christianity United in Faith that Atlanta discovered that both male supremacy and orgasms were part of the International Communist Conspiracy. It was at that point, really, that God's Lightning and orthodox Women's Lib totally parted company, for the orthodox faction, just then, were teaching that male supremacy and orgasms were part of the International Kapitalist Conspiracy.)
"Fernando Poo," the President of the United States told reporters even as Atlanta was calling for all-out war, "will not become another Laos, or another Costa Rica."
"When are we going to get our troops out of Laos?" a reporter from the New York Times asked quickly; but a man from the Washington Post asked just as rapidly, "And when are we going to get our troops out of Costa Rica?"
"Our Present Plans for Withdrawal are going Forward according to an Orderly Schedule," the President began; but in Santa Isabel itself, as Tequilla y Mota underlined a passage in Machiavelli, 00005 concluded a shortwave broadcast to a British submarine lying 17 miles off the coast of the island: "The Yanks have gone absolutely bonkers, I'm afraid. I've been here nine days now and I am absolutely convinced there is not one Russian or Chinese agent in any way involved with Generalissimo Tequilla y Mota, nor are there any troops of either of those governments hiding anywhere in the jungles. However, BUGGER is definitely running a heroin smuggling ring here, and I would like permission to investigate that." (The permission was to be denied; old W., back at Intelligence HQ in London, knew that 00005 was a bit bonkers about BUGGER himself and imagined that it was involved in every mission he undertook.)
At the same time, in a different hotel, Tobias Knight, on special loan from the FBI to the CIA, concluded his nightly shortwave broadcast to an American submarine 23 miles off the coast: "The Russian troops are definitely engaged in building what can only be a rocket-launching site, and the Slants are constructing what seems to be a nuclear installation. . . ."
And Hagbard Celine, lying 40 miles out in the Bight of Biafra in the Lief Erickson, intercepted both messages, and smiled cynically, and wired P. in New York: ACTIVATE MALIK AND PREPARE DORN.
(While the most obscure, seemingly trivial part of the whole puzzle appeared in a department store in Houston. It was a sign that said:
NO SMOKING. NO SPITTING.
This replaced an earlier sign that had hung on the main showroom wall for many years, saying only
The change, although small, had subtle repercussions. The store catered only to the very wealthy, and this clientele did not object to being told that they could not smoke. The fire hazard, after all, was obvious. On the other hand, that bit about spitting was somehow a touch offensive; they most certainly were not the sort of people who would spit on somebody's floor-or, at least, none of them had done such a thing at any time since about one month or at most one year after they became wealthy. Yes, the sign was definitely bad diplomacy.
Resentment festered. Sales fell off. And membership in the Houston branch of God's Lightning increased. Wealthy, powerful membership.
(The odd thing was that the Management had nothing at all to do with the sign.)
George Dorn awoke screaming.
He lay on the floor of his cell in Mad Dog County Jail. His first frantic, involuntary glance told him that Harry Coin had vanished completely from the adjoining cell. The shit-pot was back in its corner and he knew, without being able to check, that there would be no human intestines in it.
Terror tactics, he thought They were out to break him-a task which was beginning to look easy-but they were covering up the evidence as they went along.
There was no light through the cell window; it was, therefore, still night. He hadn't slept but merely fainted.
Like a girl.
Like a long-haired commie faggot. Oh, shit and prune juice, he told himself sourly, cut it out. You've known for years that you're no hero. Don't take that particular sore out and rub sandpaper on it now. You're not a hero, but you're a goddam stubborn, pigheaded, and determined coward. That's why you've stayed alive on assignments like this before.
Show these redneck mammyjammers just how stubborn, pig-headed, and determined you can be.
George started with an old gimmick. A piece torn off the tail of his shirt gave him a writing.tablet. The point of his shoelace became a temporary pen. His own saliva, spat onto the polish of the shoes themselves, created a substitute ink.
Laboriously, after a half hour, be had his message written:
The message shouldn't land too close to the jail, so George began looking for a weighted object. In five minutes, he decided on a spring from the bunk mattress; it took him seventeen minutes more to pry it loose.
After the missile was hurled out toe window-probably, George knew, to be found by somebody who would immediately turn it over to Sheriff Jim Cartwright-he began thinking of alternate plans.
He found, however, that instead of devising schemes for escape or deliverance, his mind insisted on going off in an entirely different direction. The face of the monk from his dream pursued him. He had seen that face somewhere before, he knew; but where? Somehow, the question was important. He began trying in earnest to re-create the face and identify it-James Joyce, H. P. Lovecraft, and a monk in a painting by Fra Angelico all came to mind. It was none of them, but it looked somehow a little like each of them.
Suddenly tired and discouraged, George slouched back on the bunk and let his hand lightly clutch his penis through his trousers. Heroes of fiction don't jack off when the going gets rough, he reminded himself. Well, hell, he wasn't a hero and this wasn't fiction. Besides, I wasn't going to jack-off (after all, They might be watching through a peephole, ready to use this natural jailhouse weakness to humiliate me further and break my ego). No, I definitely wasn't going to jack-off: I was just going to hold it, lightly, through my trousers, until I felt some life-force surging back into my body and displacing fear, exhaustion and despair. Meanwhile, I thought about Pat back in New York. She was wearing nothing but her cute black lace bra and panties, and her nipples are standing up pointy and hard. Make it Sophia Loren, and take the bra off so I can see the nipples directly. Ah, yes, and now try it the other way: she (Sophia, no make it Pat again) is wearing the bra but the panties are off showing the pubic bush. Let her play with it, get her fingers in there, and the other hand on a nipple, ah, yes, and now she (Pat-no, Sophia) is kneeling to unzipper my fly. My penis grew harder and her mouth opened in expectation. I reached down and cupped her breast with one hand, taking the nipple she had been caressing, feeling it harden more. (Did James Bond ever do this in Doctor No's dungeon?) Sophia's tongue (not my hand, not my hand) is busy and hot, sending pulsations through my entire body. Take it, you cunt. Take it, O God, a flash of the Passaic and the gun at my forehead, and you can't call them cunts nowadays, ah, you cunt, you cunt, take it, and it is Pat, it's that night at her pad when we were both zonked on hashish and I never never never had a blow-job like that before or since, my hands were in her hair, gripping her shoulders, take it, suck me off (get out of my head, mother), and her mouth is wet and rhythmic and my cock is just as sensitive as that night zonked on the hash, and I pulled the trigger and then the explosion came just as I did (pardon the diction) and I was on the floor coughing and bouncing, my eyes watering. The second blast lifted me again and threw me with a crunch against the wall.
Then the machine-gun fire started.
Jesus H. Particular Christ on a crutch, I thought frantically, whatever it is that's happening they're going to find me with come on the front of my trousers.
And every bone in my body broken, I think.
The machine gun suddenly stopped stuttering and I thought I heard a voice cry "Earwicker, Bloom and Craft."-I've still got Joyce on my mind, I decided. Then the third explosion came, and I covered my head as parts of the ceiling began falling on me.
A key suddenly clanked against his cell door. Looking up, I saw a young woman in a trench coat, carrying a tommy gun, and desperately trying one key after another in the lock.
From somewhere else in the building there came a fourth explosion.
The woman grinned tensely at the sound. "Commie motherfuckers," she muttered, still trying keys.
"Who the hell are you?" I finally asked hoarsely.
"Never mind that now," she snapped. "We've come to rescue you-isn't that enough?"
Before I could think of a reply, the door swung open.
"Quick," she said, "this way."
I limped after her down the hall. Suddenly she stopped, studied the wall a moment, and pressed against a brick. The wall slid smoothly aside and we entered what appeared to be a chapel of some sort.
Good weeping Jesus and his brother Irving, I thought, I'm still still dreaming.
For the chapel was not anything that a sane man would expect to find in Mad Dog County Jail. Decorated entirely in red and white-the colors of Hassan i Sabbah and the Assassins of Alamout, I remembered incredulously-it was adorned with strange Arabic symbols and slogans in German: "Heute die Welt, M or gens das Sonnensystem," "Ewige Blumenkraft Und Ewige Schlangekraft!" "Gestern Hanf, Heute Hanf, Immer Hanf."
And the altar was a pyramid with thirteen ledges-with a ruby-red eye at the top.
This symbol, I now recalled with mounting confusion, was the Great Seal of the United States.
"This way," the woman said, motioning with her tommy gun.
We passed through another sliding wall and found ourselves in an alley behind the jail.
A black Cadillac awaited us. "Everybody's out!" the driver shouted. He was an old man, more than sixty, but hard and shrewd-looking.
"Good," the woman said. "Here's George."
I was pushed into the back seat-which was already full of grim-looking men and grimmer-looking munitions of various sorts-and the car started at once.
"One for good measure," the woman in the trench coat shouted and threw another plastic bomb back at the jail.
"Right," the driver said. "It fits, too-that makes ft five."
"The Law of Fives," another passenger chuckled bitterly. "Serves the commie bastards right. A taste of their own medicine."
I could restrain myself no longer.
"What the hell is going on?" I demanded. "Who are you people? What makes you think Sheriff Cartwright and his police are communists? And where are you taking me?"
"Shut up," said the woman who had unlocked my cell, nudging me none too affectionately with her machine gun. "We'll talk when we're ready. Meanwhile, wipe the come off your pants."
The car sped into the night.
(In a Bentley limousine, Fedrico "Banana Nose" Mal-donado drew on his cigar and relaxed as his chauffeur drove him toward Robert Putney Drake's mansion in Blue Point, Long Island. In back of his eyes, almost forgotten, Charlie "The Bug" Workman, Mendy Weiss, and Jimmy the Shrew listen soberly, on October 23, 1935, as Banana Nose tells them: "Don't give the Dutchman a chance. Cowboy the son of a bitch." The three guns nod stolidly; cowboying somebody is messy, but it pays well. In an ordinary hit, you can be precise, even artistic, because after all the only thing that matters is that the person so honored should be definitely dead afterwards. Cowboying, in the language of the profession, leaves no room for personal taste or delicacy: the important thing is that there should be a lot of lead in the air and the victim should leave a spectacularly gory corpse for the tabloids, as notification that the Brotherhood is both edgy and short-tempered and everybody better watch his ass. Although it wasn't obligatory, it was considered a sign of true enthusiasm on a cowboy job if the guest of honor took along a few innocent bystanders, so everybody would understand exactly how edgy the Brotherhood was feeling. The Dutchman took two such bystanders. And in a different world that is still this world, Albert "The Teacher" Stern opens his morning paper on July 23, 1934, and reads FBI SHOOTS DILLINGER, thinking wistfully If I could kill somebody that important, my name would never be forgotten. Further back, back further: February 7, 1932, Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll looks through the phone-booth door and sees a familiar face crossing the drugstore and a tommy-gun in the man's hand. "The god-damned pig-headed Dutchman," he howled, but nobody heard him because the Thompson gun was already systematically spraying the phone-booth up and down, right and left, left and right, and up and down again for good measure . . . But tilt the picture another way and-this emerges: On November 10, 1948, the "World's Greatest Newspaper," the Chicago Tribune announced the election to the Presidency of the United States of America of Thomas Dewey, a man who not only was not elected but would not even have been alive if Banana Nose Maldonado had not given such specific instructions concerning the Dutchman to Charlie the Bug, Mendy Weiss and Jimmy the Shrew.)
Who shot you? the police stenographer asked. Mother is the best bet, Oh mama mama mama. I want harmony. 1 don't want harmony, is the delirious answer. Who shot you? the question is repeated. The Dutchman still replies: Oh mama mama mama. French Canadian bean soup.
We drove till dawn. The car stopped on a road by a beach of white sand. Tall, skinny palm trees stood black against a turquoise sky. This must be the Gulf of Mexico, I thought. They could now load me with chains and drop me in the gulf, hundreds of miles from Mad Dog, without involving Sheriff Jim. No, they had raided Sheriff Jim's jail. Or was that a hallucination? I was going to have to keep more of an eye on reality. This was a new day, and I was going to know facts hard and sharp-edged in the sunlight and keep them straight.
I was stiff and sore and tired from a night of driving. The only rest I'd gotten was fitful dozing in which cyclopean ruby eyes looked at me till I awoke in terror. Mavis, the woman with the tommy gun, had put her arms around me several times when I screamed. She would murmur soothingly to me, and once her lips, smooth, cool and soft, had brushed my ear.
At the beach, Mavis motioned me out of the car. The sun was as hot as the bishop's jock strap when he finished his sermon on the evils of pornography. She stepped out behind me and slammed the door.
"We wait here," she said. "The others go back."
"What are we waiting for?" I asked. Just then the driver of the car gunned the motor. The car swung round in a wide U-turn. In a minute its rear end had disappeared beyond a bend in the Gulf highway. We were alone with the rising sun and the sand-strewn asphalt.
Mavis motioned me to walk down the beach with her. A little ways ahead, far back from the water, was a small white-painted frame cabana. A woodpecker landed wearily on its roof like he had flown more missions than Yossarian and never intended to go up again.
"What's the plan, Mavis? A private execution on a lonely beach in another state so Sheriff Jim can't get blamed?"
"Don't be a dummy, George. We blew up that commie bastard's jail."
"Why do you keep calling Sheriff Cartwright a commie? If ever a man had KKK written all over his forehead, it was that reactionary redneck prick."
"Don't you know your Trotsky? 'Worse is better.' Slobs like Cartwright are trying to discredit America to make it ripe for a left-wing takeover."
"I'm a left-winger. If you're against commies, you've got to be against me." I didn't care to tell her about my other friends in Weatherman and Morituri.
"You're just a liberal dupe."
"I'm not a liberal, I'm a militant radical."
"A radical is nothing but a liberal with a big mouth. And a militant radical is nothing but a big-mouthed liberal with a Che costume. Balls. We're the real radicals, George. We do things, like last night Except for Weatherman and Morituri, all the militant radicals in your crowd ever do is take out the Molotov cocktail diagram that they carefully clipped from The New York Review of Books, hang it on the bathroom door and jack-off in connection with it. No offense meant." The woodpecker turned his head and watched us suspiciously like a paranoid old man.
"And what are your politics, if you're such a radical?" I asked.
"I believe that government governs best of all that governs least of all. Preferably not at all. And I believe in the laissez faire capitalist economic system."
"Then you must hate my politics. Why did you rescue me?"
"You're wanted," she said.
"And who is Hagbard Celine?" We had reached the cabana and were standing beside it, facing each other, glaring at each other. The woodpecker turned his head and looked at us with the other eye.
"What is John Guilt?" Mavis said. I might have guessed, I thought, a Hope fiend. She went on, "It took a whole book to answer that one. As for Hagbard, you'll learn by seeing. Enough for now that you know that he's the man who requested that we rescue you."
"But you personally don't like me and would not have gone out of your way to help me?"
"I don't know about not liking you. That splotch of come on your trousers has had me horny ever since Mad Dog. Also the excitement of the raid. I've got some tension to burn off. I'd prefer to save myself for a man who completely meets the criteria of my value system. But I could get awfully horny waiting for him. No regrets, no guilt, though. You're all right. You'll do." "What are you talking about?" "I'm talking about your fucking me, George." "I never knew a girl-I mean woman-who believed in the capitalist system who was any kind of a good fuck."
"What has your pathetic circle of acquaintances got to do with the price of gold? I doubt you ever met a woman who believed in the real laissez faire capitalist system. Such a woman is not likely to be caught traveling in your left-liberal circles." She took me by the hand and led me into the cabana. She shrugged out of her trench coat and spread it carefully on the floor. She was wearing a black sweater and a pair of blue jeans, both tight-fitting. She pulled the sweater off over her head. She was wearing no bra, and her breasts were apple-sized cherry-tipped cones. There was some sort of dark red birthmark between them.
"Your kind of capitalist woman was a Nixonette in 1972, and she believes in that half-ass corporate socialist bastard fascist mixed economy Frank Roosevelt blessed these United States with." She unbuckled her wide black belt and unzipped her jeans. She tugged them down over her hips. I felt my hardon swelling up inside my pants. "Libertarian women are good fucks, because they know what they want, and what they want they like a lot." She stepped out of her jeans to reveal, of all things, panties made of some strange metallic-looking synthetic material that was gold in color.
How can I know facts hard and sharp-edged in the sunlight and keep them straight when this happens? "You really want me to fuck you right now on this public beach in broad daylight?" The woodpecker went to work above us just then, banging away like a rock drummer, I suddenly remembered from high school:
The Woodpecker pecked on the out-house door; He pecked and he pecked till his pecker was sore....
"George, you're too serious. Don't you know how to play? Did you ever think that life is maybe a game? There is no difference between life and a game, you know. When you play, for instance, playing with a toy, there is no winning or losing. Life is a toy, George, I'm a toy. Think of me as a doll. Instead of sticking pins in me, you can stick your thing in me. Fm a magic doll, like a voodoo doll. A doll is a work of art. Art is magic. You make an image of the thing you want to possess or cope with, so you can cope with it. You make a model, so you have it under control. Dig? Don't you want to possess me? You can, but just for a moment."
I shook my head. "I can't believe you. The way you're talking-it's not real."
"I always talk like this when I'm horny. It happens that at such times I'm more open to the vibrations from outer space. George, are unicorns real? Who made unicorns? Is a thought about unicorns a real thought? How is it different from the mental picture of my pussy-which you've never seen-that you've got in your head at this minute? Does the fact that you can think of fucking me and I can think of fucking with you mean we are going to fuck? Or is the universe going to surprise us? Wisdom is wearying, folly is fun. What does a horse with a single long horn sticking straight out of its head mean to you?"
My eyes went from the pubic bulge under her gold panties, where they'd strayed when she said "pussy," to the mark between her breasts.
It wasn't a birthmark. I felt like a bucket of ice water hit my groin.
I pointed. "What does a red eye inside a red-and-white triangle mean to you?"
Her open hand slammed against my jaw. "Motherfucker! Never speak to me about that!"
Then she bowed her head. "I'm sorry, George. I had no right to do that. Hit me back, if you want."
"I don't want. But I'm afraid you've turned me off sexually."
"Nonsense. You're a healthy man. But now I want to give you something without taking anything from you." She knelt before me on her trench coat, her knees parted, unzipped my fly, reached in with quick, tickling fingers, and pulled my penis out. She slipped her mouth around it. It was my jail fantasy coming true.
"What are you doing?"
She took her lips away from my penis, and I looked down and saw that the head was shiny with saliva and swelling visibly in rapid throbs. Her breasts-my glance avoided the Masonic tattoo-were somewhat fuller, and the nipples stuck out erect.
She smiled. "Don't whistle while you're pissing, George, and don't ask questions when you're getting blowed. Shut up and get hard. This is just quid pro quo."
When I came I didn't feel much juice jetting out through my penis; I'd used a lot up whacking off in jail. I noted with pleasure that what there was of it she didn't spit out. She smiled and swallowed it.
The sun was higher and hotter in the sky and the woodpecker celebrated by drumming faster and harder. The Gulf sparkled like Mrs. Aster's best diamonds. I peered out at the water: just below the horizon there was a flash of gold among the diamonds.
Mavis suddenly struck her legs out in front of her and dropped onto her back. "George! I can't give without taking. Please, quick, while it's still hard, get down here and slip it to me."
I looked down. Her lips were trembling. She was tugging the gold panties away from her black-escutcheoned crotch. My wet cock was already beginning to droop. I looked down at her and grinned.
"No," I said. "I don't like girls who slap you one minute and get the hots for you the next minute. They don't meet the criteria of my value system. I think they're nuts." Carefully and deliberately I stuffed my pecker back into my trousers and stepped away from her. It was sore anyway, like in the rhyme.
"You're not such a schmuck after all, you bastard," she said through gritted teeth. Her hand was moving rapidly between her legs. In a moment she arched her back, eyes clenched tight, and emitted a little scream, like a baby seagull out on its first flight, a strangely virginal sound.
She lay relaxed for a moment, then picked herself up off the cabana floor and started to dress. She glanced out at the water and I followed her eyes. She pointed at the distant glint of gold.
A buzzing sound floated across the water. After a moment, I spotted a small black motorboat coming toward us. We watched in silence as the boat grounded its bow on the white beach. Mavis motioned at me, and I followed her down the sand to the water's edge. There was a man in a black turtleneck sweater sitting in the stern of the boat. Mavis climbed in the bow and turned to me with a questioning look. The woodpecker felt bad vibes and took off with a flapping and cawing like the omen of Doom.
What the hell am I getting into, and why am I so crazy as to go along? I tried to see what it was out there that the motorboat had come from, but the sun on the gold metal was flashing blindingly and I couldn't make out a shape. I looked back at the black motorboat and saw that there was a circular gold object painted on the bow and there was a little black flag flying at the stern with the same gold object in its center. I pointed at the emblem on the bow.
"An apple," said Mavis.
People who chose a golden apple as their symbol couldn't be all bad. I jumped into the boat, and its pilot used an oar to push off. We buzzed over the smooth water of the Gulf toward the golden object on the horizon. It was still blinding from reflected sunlight, but I was now able to make out a long, low silhouette with a small tower in the center, like a matchbox on top of a broomstick. Then I realized that I had my judgment of distances wrong. The ship, or whatever it was, was much more distant than I'd first realized.
It was a submarine-a golden submarine-and it appeared to be the equivalent of five city blocks long, as big as the biggest ocean liner I had ever heard of. The conning tower was about three stories high. As we drew up beside it I saw a man on the tower waving to us. Mavis waved back. I waved halfheartedly, supposing somehow that it was the thing to do. I was still thinking about that Masonic tattoo.
A hatch opened in the submarine's side, and the little motorboat floated right in. The hatch closed, the water drained out, and the boat settled into a cradle. Mavis pointed to a door that looked like an entrance to an elevator.
"You go that way," she said. "I'll see you later, maybe."
She pressed a button and the door opened, revealing a carpeted gilt cage. I stepped in and was whisked up three stories. The door opened and I stepped out into a small room where a man was waiting, standing with a grace that reminded me of a Hindu or an American Indian. I thought at once of Metternich's remark about Talleyrand: "If somebody kicked him in the backside, not a muscle would move in his face until he decided what to do."
He bore a striking resemblance to Anthony Quinn; he had thick black eyebrows, olive skin, and a strong nose and jaw. He was big and burly, powerful muscles bulging under his black-and-green striped nautical sweater. He held out his hand.
"Good, George. You made it. I'm Hagbard Celine."
We shook hands; he had a grip like King Kong. "Welcome aboard the Lief Erickson, named after the first European to reach America from the Atlantic side, may my Italian ancestors forgive me. Fortunately, I have Viking ancestors, as well. My mother is Norwegian. However, blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin are all recessive. My Sicilian father creamed my mother in the genes."
"Where the hell did you get this ship? I wouldn't have believed a submarine like this could exist without the whole world knowing about it."
"The sub's my creation, built in accordance with my design in a Norwegian fjord. This is what the liberated mind can do. I am the twentieth-century Leonardo, except that I'm not gay. I've tried it, of course, but women interest me more. The world has never heard of Hagbard Celine. That is because the world is stupid and Celine is very smart. The submarine is radar and sonar transparent. It is superior to the best either the American or Russian government even has on the drawing board. It can go to any depth in any ocean. We've sounded the Atlantic Trench, the Mindinao Deep, and a few holes in the floor of the sea that no one's ever heard of or named. Lief Erickson is capable of meeting the biggest, most ferocious, and smartest monsters of the deep, of which we've found God's plenty. I'd even risk her in battle with Leviathan himself, though I'm just as pleased that we've only seen him from afar hitherto."
"You mean whales?"
"I mean leviathan, man. That fish-if fish it be-that is to your whale what your whale is to your meanest guppy. Don't ask me what Leviathan is-I haven't even gotten close enough to tell you his shape. There's only one of him, her, or it in all that world that's water. I don't know how it reproduces-maybe it doesn't have to reproduce-maybe it's immortal. It may be neither plant nor animal for all I know, but it's alive, and it's the biggest living thing there is. Oh, we've seen monsters, George. We've seen, in Lief Erickson, the sunken ruins of Atlantis and Lemuriaor Mu, as it's known to keepers of the Sacred Chao."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" I asked, wondering if I was in some crazy surrealist movie, wandering from telepathic sheriffs to homosexual assassins, to nympho lady Masons, to psychotic pirates, according to a script written in advance by two acid-heads and a Martian humorist.
"I'm talking about adventure, George. I'm talking about seeing things and being with people that will really liberate your mind-not just replacing liberalism with Marxism so you can shock your parents. I'm talking about getting altogether off the grubby plane you live on and taking a trip with Hagbard to a transcendental universe. Did you know that on sunken Atlantis there is a. pyramidal structure built by ancient priests and faced with a ceramic substance that has withstood thirty thousand years of ocean burial so that the pyramid is clean and white as polished ivory-except for the giant red mosaic of an eye at its top?"
"I find it hard to believe that Atlantis ever existed," I said. "In fact"-I shook my head angrily-"you're conning me into qualifying that. The fact is I simply don't believe Atlantis ever existed. This is pure bullshit."
"Atlantis is where we're going next, friend. Do you trust the evidence of your senses? I hope so, because you'll see Atlantis and the pyramid, just as I said. Those bastards, the Illuminati, are trying to get gold to further their conspiracies by looting an Atlantean temple. And Hagbard is going to foil them by robbing it first. Because I fight the Illuminati every chance I get. And because I'm an amateur archeologist. Will you join us? You're free to leave right now, if you wish. I'll put you ashore and even supply you with money to get back to New York."
I shook my head. "I'm a writer. I write magazine articles for a living. And even if ninety percent of what you say is bullshit, moonshine, and the most elaborate put-on since Richard Nixon, this is the best story I've ever come across. A nut with a gigantic golden submarine whose followers include beautiful guerrilla women who blow up southern jails and take out the prisoners. No, I'm not leaving. You're too big a fish to let get away."
Hagbard Celine slapped me on the shoulder. "Good man. You've got courage and initiative. You trust only the evidence of your eyes and believe what no man tells you. I was right about you. Come on down to my stateroom." He pressed a button and we entered the golden elevator and sank rapidly till we came to an eight-foot-high archway barred by a silver gate. Celine pressed a button and the elevator door and the gate outside both slid back. We stepped out into a carpeted room with a lovely black woman sitting at one end under an elaborate emblem concocted of anchors, seashells, Viking figureheads, lions, ropes, octopi, lightning bolts, and, occupying the central position, a golden apple.
"Kallisti," said Celine, saluting the girl.
"All hail Discordia," she answered.
"Aum Shiva," I contributed, trying to enter the spirit of the game.
Celine led me down a long corridor, saying, "You'll find this submarine is opulently furnished. I have no need to live in monklike surroundings like those masochists who become naval officers. No Spartan simplicity for me. This is more like an ocean liner or a grand European hotel of the Edwardian era. Wait till you see my suite. You'll like your stateroom, too. To please myself, I built this thing on the grand scale. No finicky naval architects or parsimonious accountants in my business. I believe you've got to spend money to make money and spend the money you make to enjoy money. Besides, I have to live in the damned thing."
"And what precisely is your business, Mr. Celine?" I asked. "Or should I call you Captain Celine?"
"You should certainly not. No bullshit authority titles for me. I'm Freeman Hagbard Celine, but the conventional Mister is good enough. I'd prefer you called me by my first name. Hell, call me anything you want to. If I don't like it, I'll punch you in the nose. If there were more bloody noses, there'd be fewer wars. I'm in smuggling mostly. With a spot of piracy, just to keep ourselves on our toes. But that only against the Illuminati and their communist dupes. We aim to prove that no state has the right to regulate commerce in any way. Nor can it, when it is up against free men. My crew are all volunteers. We have among us liberated sailors who were indentured to the navies of America, Russia, and China. Excellent fellows. The governments of the world will never catch us, because free men are always cleverer than slaves, and any man who works for a government is a slave."
"Then you're a gang of Objectivists, basically? I've got to warn you, I come from a long line of labor agitators and Reds. You'll never convert me to a right-wing position."
Celine reared back as if I had waved offal under his nose. "Objectivists?" he pronounced the word as if I had accused him of being a child-molester. "We're anarchists and outlaws, goddam it. Didn't you understand that much? We've got nothing to do with right-wing, left-wing or any other half-assed political category. If you work within the system, you come to one of the either/or choices that were implicit in the system from the beginning. You're talking like a medieval serf, asking the first agnostic whether he worships God or the Devil. We're outside the system's categories. You'll never get the hang of our game if you keep thinking in flat-earth imagery of right and left, good and evil, up and down. If you need a group label for us, we're political non-Euclideans. But even that's not true. Sink me, nobody of this tub agrees with anybody else about anything, except maybe what the fellow with the horns told the old man in the clouds: Non serviam."
"I don't know Latin," I said, overwhelmed by his outburst.
"'I will not serve,'" he translated. "And here's your room."
He threw open an oaken door, and I entered a living room furnished in handsome teak and rosewood Scandinavian, upholstered in bright solid colors. He hadn't been exaggerating about the scale: you could have parked a Greyhound bus in the middle of the carpet and the room would still seem uncluttered. Above an orange couch hung a huge oil painting in an elaborate gilt frame easily a foot deep on all sides. The painting was essentially a cartoon. It showed a man in robes with long, flowing white hair and beard standing on a mountaintop staring in astonishment at a wall of black rock. Above his head a fiery hand traced flaming letters with its index finger on the rock. The words it wrote were:
THINK FOR YOURSELF, SCHMUCK!
As I started to laugh, I felt, through the soles of my feet, an enormous engine beginning to throb.
And, in Mad Dog, Jim Cartwright said into a phone with a scrambler device to evade taps, "We let Celine's crowd take Dorn, according to plan, and, Harry Coin is, ah, no longer with us."
"Good," said Atlanta Hope. 'The Four are heading for Ingolstadt. Everything is GO." She hung up and dialed again at once, reaching Western Union. "I want a flat rate telegram, same words, twenty-three different addresses," she said crisply. "The message is, 'Insert the advertisement in tomorrow's newspapers.' Signature, 'Atlanta Hope.'" She then read off the twenty-three addresses, each located in a large city in the United States, each a regional headquarters of God's Lightning. (The following day, April 25, the newspapers in those cities ran an obscure ad in the personals columns; it said "In thanks to Saint Jude for favors granted. A.W." The plot, accordingly, thickened.)
And then I sat back and thought about Harry Coin. Once I imagined I could make it with him: there was something so repulsive, so cruel, so wild and psychopathic there . . . but, of course, it hadn't worked. The same as every other man. Nothing. "Hit me," I screamed. "Bite me. Hurt me. Do something." He did everything, the most agreeable sadist in the world, but it was the same as if be had been the gentlest, most poetic English instructor at Antioch. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. . . . The closest miss was that strange banker, Drake, from Boston. What a scene. I'd gotten into his office on Wall Street, seeking a contribution for God's Lightning. Old white-haired buzzard, between sixty and seventy: typical of our wealthier members, I thought. I started the usual spiel, communism, sexism, smut, and all the time his eyes were bright and hard as a snake's. It finally hit me that he didn't believe a word of it, so I started to cut it off, and then he pulled out his checkbook and wrote and held it up so I could see it. Twenty thousand dollars. I didn't know what to say, and I started something about how all true Americans would appreciate this great gesture and so on, and he said, "Rubbish. You're not rich but you're famous. I want to add you to my collection. Deal?" The coldest bastard I ever met, even Harry Coin was human by comparison, yet his eyes were such a clear blue I couldn't believe they could be so frightening, a real madman in a perfectly sane way, not even a psychopath but something they don't have a name for, and it clicked, the humiliation of whoredom and the predatory viciousness in his face plus the twenty grand; I nodded. He took me into a private suite off of his business office and he touched one button, the lights dimmed, another button, down came a movie screen, a third button, and I was watching a pornographic movie. He didn't approach me, just watched, and I tried to get excited, wondering if the actress was really making it or just faking it, and then a second film began, four of them this time in permutations and combinations, he led me to the couch, every time I opened my eyes I could still see the film over his shoulder, and it was the same, the same, as soon as he got his thing inside me, nothing, nothing, nothing, I kept looking at the actors trying to feel something, and then, as he came, be whispered in my ear, "Heute die Welt, Morgans das Sonnen-system!" That was the only time I almost made it Sheer terror that this maniac knew. . . .
Later, I tried to find out about him, but nobody above me in the Order would say a word, and those below me didn't know anything. But I finally found out: he was very big in the Syndicate, maybe the top. And that's how I figured out that the old rumor was true, the Syndicate was run by the Order, too, just like everything else. . . .
But that cold sinister old man never said another word about it. I kept waiting while we dressed, when he gave me the check, when he escorted me to the door, and even his expression seemed to deny that he had said it or knew what it meant. When he opened the door for me, he put an arm on my shoulder and spoke, so his secretary could hear it, "May your work hasten the day when America returns to purity." Even his eyes weren't mocking and his voice sounded completely sincere. And yet he had read me to the core, knew I was faking, and guessed that terror alone could unlock my reflexes: maybe he even knew that I had already tried physical sadism and it hadn't worked. Out on Wall Street in the crowd, I saw a man with a gas mask- they were still rare that year- and I felt the whole world was moving faster than I could understand and that the Order wasn't telling me nearly as much as I needed to know.
Brother Beghard, who is actually a politician in Chicago under his "real" name, once explained the Law of Fives to me in relation to the pyramid-of-power principle. Intellectually, I understand: it's the only way we can work, each group a separate vector so that the most any infiltrator can learn is a small part of the design. Emotionally, though, it does get frightening at times: do the Five at the top really have the whole picture? I don't know, and I don't see how they can predict a man like Drake or guess what he's planning next There's a paradox here, I know:
I joined the Order seeking power, and now I am more a tool, an object, than ever before. If a man like Drake ever thought that, he might tear the whole show apart.
Unless the Five really do have the powers they claim; but I'm not gullible enough to believe that bull. Some of it's hypnotism, and some is plain old stage magic, but none of it is really supernatural. Nobody has sold me on a fairy tale since my uncle got into me when I was twelve with his routine about stopping the bleeding. If my parents had only told me the truth about menstruation in advance ...
Enough of that. There was work to be done. I hit the buzzer on my desk and my secretary, Mr. Mortimer, came in. As I'd guessed, it was past nine o'clock and he'd been out there in the reception area straightening up and worrying about my mood for God knows how long, while I was daydreaming. I studied my memo pad, while he waited apprehensively. Finally, I noticed him and said, "Be seated." He sank into the dictation chair, putting his head right under the point of the lightning bolt on the wall- an effect I always enjoyed- and opened his pad.
"Call Zev Hirsch in New York," I said watching his pencil fly to keep up with my words. "The Foot Fetishist Liberation Front is having a demonstration. Tell bun to cream them; I won't be satisfied unless a dozen of the perverts are put in the hospital, and I don't care how many of our people get arrested doing it The bail fund is available, if they need it. If Zev has any objections, I'll talk to him, but otherwise you handle it. Then make up the standard number-two press release, where I deny any knowledge of illegal activities-by that chapter and promise we will investigate and expel anybody guilty of mob actionó have that ready for release this afternoon. Then get me the latest sales figures on Telemachus Sneezed. . . ." Another busy day at the national headquarters of God's Lightning was started; and Hagbard Celine, feeding Mavis's report on George's sexual and other behavior into FUCKUP, came out with a coding of C-1472-B-2317A, which caused him to laugh immoderately.
"What's so damned funny?" Mavis asked.
"From out of the west come the thundering hooves of the great horse, Onan," Hagbard grinned. "The lonely stranger rides again!"
"What the hell does all that mean?"
"We've got sixty-four thousand possible personality types," Hagbard explained, "and I've only seen that reading once before. Guess who it was?"
"Not me," Mavis said quickly, beginning to color.
"No, not you." Hagbard laughed again. "It was Atlanta Hope."
Mavis was startled. "That's impossible. She's frigid for one thing."
"There are many kinds of frigidity," Hagbard said. "It fits, believe me. She joined women's liberation at the same age George joined Weatherman, and they both split after a few months. And you'd be surprised how similar their mothers were, or how the successful careers of their older brothers annoy themó"
"But George is a nice guy, underneath it all."
Hagbard Celine knocked an ash off his long Italian cigar. "Everybody is a nice guy, underneath it all," he said. "What we become when the world is through messing us over is something else."
At Chateau Thierry, in 1918, Robert Putney Drake looked around at the dead bodies, knew he was the last man alive in the platoon, and heard the Germans start to advance. He felt the cold wetness on his thighs before he realized he was urinating in his pants; a shell exploded nearby and he sobbed. "O God, please, Jesus. Don't let them kill me. I'm afraid to die. Please, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus . . ."
Mary Lou and Simon are eating breakfast in bed, still naked as Adam and Eve. Mary Lou spread jam on toast and asked, "No, seriously: which part was hallucination and which part was real?"
Simon sipped at his coffee. "Everything in life is a hallucination," he said simply. "Everything in death, too," he added. "The universe is just putting us on. Handing us a line."