THE TENTH TRIP, OR MALKUTH
FAREWELL TO PLANET EARTH
Ye have locked yerselves up in cages of fear; and, behold, do ye now complain that ye lack freedom. -LORD OMAR KHAYYAM RAVENHURST, K.S.C., "Epistle to the Paranoids," The Honest Book of Truth
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.
Queen of the Angels Queen of the May
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 amp; 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:
RPD, age 27, latent homo. Father rich as Croesus. Five sessions per week @ $50 each, $250. Keep him in therapy 5 yrs that's a clear $65,000. Be ambitious, aim for ten years. $130,000. Beautiful.
RPD not latent homo at all. Advanced psychopath. Moral imbecile. Actually enjoys the money I'm soaking his father. Hopeless case. All drives egosyntonic. Bastard doesn't give a fuck. Maybe as long as 12 yrs.?-$156,000. Hot shit!
RPD back on sadism again. Thinks that's the key. Must use great care. If he gets caught at something serious, jail or a sanitorium; and can kiss that $156,000 good-bye. Maybe use drugs to calm him?
RPD in another schizo mood today. Full of some crap a gypsy fortune-teller told him. Extreme care needed: If the occultists get him, that's 13 grand peryear out the window.
Clue to RPD: All goes back to the war. Can't stand the thought that all must die. Metaphysical hangup. Nothing I can do. If only there were an immortality pill. Risk of losing him to the occultists or even a church worse than I feared. I can feel the 13 grand slipping away.
RPD wants to go to Europe. Wants meeting, maybe therapy, with that sheissdreck dummkopf Carl Jung. Must warn parents too sick to travel.
RPD gone after only 10 months. A lousy 11-grand case. Too angry to see patients today. Spent morning drafting letter to Globe on why fortune-tellers should be forbidden by law. If I could get my hands on that woman, on her fat throat, the bitch, the fat stinking ignorant bitch. $156,000. Down the drain. Because he needs immortality and doesn't know how to get it.
(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
"Go on." Drake was unsmiling but undisturbed.
"The King of Swords and the Knight of Wands are both very active. You could do all this harmlessly, by becoming an artist and showing this vision of the jungle. You don't have to create it literally and inflict it on your fellow human beings."
"Stop preaching. Just read the cards. You're better at it than I am, but I can see enough to know that there is no such alternative for me. The other wand and the other sword are reversed. I can't be satisfied to do it in symbolic form. I must do it so that everybody is affected by it, not just the few who read books or go to concerts. Tell me what I don't know. Why is the line from the Fool to the Tower completed in the Lovers reversed? I know that I can't love anyone, and I don't believe that anybody else ever does, either-that's more sentiment and hypocrisy. People use each other as masturbating machines and crying towels, and they call it love. But there's a deeper meaning. What is it?"
"Start from the top: Death reversed. You reject Death, so the Fool cannot undergo rebirth and enter the right-hand path when he crosses the Abyss. Therefore: the left-hand path, the destruction of the Tower. There is only one end to that chain of karma, my son. The Lovers means Death, just as Death means Life. You are rejecting natural death, and therefore refusing natural life. Your path will be an unnatural life leading to a death that is against nature. You will die as a man before your body dies. The fire is still self-destructive, even if you turn it outward and use the whole world as a stage for your private Gotterdammerung. Your primary victim will still be yourself."
"You have the talent," Drake said coldly, "but you are still basically a fraud, like everyone in this business. Your worst victim, madam, is yourself. You deceive yourself with the lies that you have so often told others. It's the occupational disease of mystics. The truth is that it doesn't matter whether I destroy myself alone or destroy this planet-or turn around and try to find my way to the right-hand path in some dreary monastery. The universe will roll blindly along, not caring, not even knowing. There's no Granddaddy in the clouds to pass a last judgment- there's only a few airplanes up there, learning more and more about how to carry bombs. They court-martialed General Mitchell for saying it, but it's the truth. The next time around they'll really bomb the hell out of civilian populations. And the universe won't know or care about that either. Don't tell me that my flight from Death leads back to Death; I'm not a child, and I know that all paths lead back to Death eventually. The only question is: Do you cower before him all your life or do you spit in his eye?"
"You can transcend abject fear and rebellious hatred both. You can see that he is only part of the Great Wheel and, like all other parts, necessary to the whole. Then you can accept him."
"Next you'll be telling me to love him."
"Yes, and I can learn to see the great and glorious Whole Picture. I can see all the men defecating and urinating in their trousers before they died at Chateau-Thierry, watching their own guts fall out into their laps and screaming out of a hole that isn't even a mouth any more, as manifestations of that sublime harmony and balance which is ineffable and holy and beyond all speech and reason. Sure. I can see that, if I knock half of my brain out of commission and hypnotize myself into thinking that the view from that weird perspective is deeper and wider and more truly true than the view from an unclouded mind. Go to the quadruple-amputee ward and try to tell them that. You speak of death as a personified being. Very well: Then I must regard him as any other entity that gets in my way. Love is a myth invented by poets and other people who couldn't face the world and crept off into corners to create fantasies to console themselves. The fact is that when you meet another entity, either it makes way for you or you make way for it. Either it dominates and you submit, or you dominate and it submits. Take me into any club in Boston and I'll tell you which millionaire has the most millions, by the way the others treat him. Take me into any workingman's bar and I'll tell you who has the best punch in a fistfight, by the way the others treat him. Take me into any house and I'll tell you in a minute whether the husband or the wife is dominant. Love? Equality? Reconciliation? Acceptance? Those are the excuses of the losers, to persuade themselves that they choose their condition and weren't beaten down into it. Find a dutiful wife, who truly loves her husband. I'll have her in my bed in three days, maximum. Because I'm so damned attractive? No, because I understand men and women. I'll make her understand, without saying it aloud and shocking her, that the adultery will, one way or another, hurt her husband, whether he knows about it or not. Show me the most servile colored waiter in the best restaurant in town, and after he's through explaining Christianity and humility and all the rest of it, count how many times a day he steps into the kitchen to spit in his handerchief. The other employess will tell you he has a 'chest condition.' The condition he has is chronic rage. The mother and the child? An endless power struggle. Listen to the infant's cry change in pitch when Mother doesn't come at once. Is that fear you hear? It's rage- insane fury at not having total dominance. As for the mother herself, I'd wager that ninety percent of the married women in the psychiatrists' care are there because they can't admit to themselves, can't escape the lie of love long enough to admit to themselves, how often they want to strangle that monster in the nursery. Love of country? Another lie; the truth is fear of cops and prisons. Love of art? Another lie; the truth is fear of the naked truth without ornaments and false faces on it. Love of truth itself? The biggest lie of all: fear of the unknown. People learn acceptance of all this and achieve wisdom? They surrender to superior force and call their cowardice maturity. It still comes down to one question: Are you kneeling at the altar, or are you on the altar watching the others kneel to you?"
"The wheel of the Tarot is the wheel of Dharma," Mama Sutra said softly when he had concluded. "It is also the wheel of the galaxy, which you see as a blind machine. It rolls on, as you say, no matter what we think or do. Knowing that, I accept Death as part of the wheel, and I accept your nonacceptance as another part. I can control neither. I can only repeat my warning, which is not a lie but a fact about the structure of the Wheel: By denying death, you guarantee that you will meet him finally in his most hideous form."
Drake finished his coffee and smiled whimsically. "You know," he said, "my contempt for lies has an element of the very sentimentality and foolish idealism that I have been rejecting. Perhaps I will be most effective if I never speak so honestly again. When you hear of me next, I might be known as a philanthropist and benefactor of mankind." He lit a cigar thoughtfully. "And that would even be true if your Tarot mysticism is correct after all. If Death is necessary to the Wheel, along with all the other parts, then I am necessary also. The Wheel would collapse, perhaps, if my spirit of rebellion were not there to balance your spirit of acceptance. Imagine that."
"It is true. That is why I have warned you but not judged you."
"So I am, as Goethe says, 'part of that force which aims at evil and only achieves good'?"
"That is a thought which you should try to remember when the Dark Night of Sammael descends upon you at the end."
"More cant," Drake said, with a return to his previous cynicism. "I aim at evil and I will achieve evil. The Wheel and all its harmonious balances and all-healing paradoxes is just another myth of the weak and defeated. One strong man can stop the Wheel or tear it to shreds if he dares enough."
"Perhaps. We who study the Wheel do not know all of its secrets. Some believe that your spirit reappears constantly in history, because it is fated, eventually, to triumph. Maybe this is the last century of terrestrial mortals, and the next century will be the time of the cosmic immortals. What will happen then, when the Wheel is stopped, none of us can predict. It may be 'good' or 'evil' or even-to quote your favorite philosopher- beyond good and evil. We cannot say. That is another reason I do not judge you."
"Listen," Drake said with sudden emotion. "We're both lying. It's not all this philosophical or cosmic. The simple fact is that I couldn't sleep nights, and nothing I tried in conventional 'cures' could help me, until I began to help myself by systematically rebelling against everything that seemed stronger than me."
"I know. I didn't know it was insomnia. It might have been nightmares or dizzy spells or sexual impotence. But there was some way that the scenes you saw in Chateau-Thierry lived on and goaded you to wake out of the dream of the sleepwalkers on the streets. You are waking: You stand on the abyss." She pointed to the Fool and the dog who barks at his heels. "And I am the noisy little bitch barking to warn you that you can still choose the right-hand path. The decision is not final until you cross the abyss."
"But the cards show that I really have very little choice. Especially in the world that is going to emerge from this depression."
Mama Sutra smiled without forgiveness or final condemnation. "This is no age for saints," she agreed softly. 'Two dollars please."
George, don't make no bull moves. The Dutchman saw it all clearly now. Capone and Luciano and Maldonado and Lepke and all the rest of them were afraid of Winifred and the Washington crowd. They were planning a deal, and his death was part of the bargain. The fools didn't know that you can never negotiate from fear. They thought of the Order only as a handy gimmick for international communications and illicit trade; they were too dumb to really study the Teachings. Especially, they had never understood the third Teaching: Fear is Failure. Once you're afraid of the bulls, you're lost. But the bull was gone. "What have you done with him?" he shouted at the hospital wall.
(Smiling Jim had seen the eagle only the day before. Its nest was definitely on one of these peaks. He would get it: He knew it in his bones, a hunch so strong it couldn't be doubted. Panting, sweating, every muscle aching, he climbed onward… The coffee leaped out of the paper cup and slurped onto the pages of Carnal Orgy. Igor Beaver, the graduate student, looked up in astonishment: The seismograph stood at grade 5. A mile away, Dillinger woke as the bedroom door slammed shut and his favorite statue, King Kong atop the Empire State Building, fell off the bureau.)
NO REMISSION, NO REMISSION, NO REMISSION WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD. NO REMISSION WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD.
Mama Sutra looked down through the window at Boston Common. Robert Putney Drake had stopped, and was listening to one of the preachers again; even at this distance she could recognize the cool, closed smile on his face.
The Dealy Lama sat down across from her. "Well?" he asked.
"Definitely. The Order will have to intervene." Mama shook her head sadly. "He's a menace to the whole world."
"Slowness is beauty," the Dealy Lama said. "Let the Lower Order contact him first. If they decide he's worth the effort, then we'll act. I think I shall persuade Hagbard to attend Harvard, so he can be in his neighborhood and keep an eye on him, so to speak."
IT'S THE WORD OF THE BIBLE AND THE WORD OF GOD AND IT SAYS IT PLAIN AND CLEAR SO NO HIGHBROW PROFESSOR CAN SAY IT MEANS SOMETHING ELSE.
"How old are you actually?" Mama asked curiously.
The Dealy Lama looked at her levelly. "Would you believe thirty thousand years?"
She laughed. "I should have known better than to ask. You can always tell the higher members by their sense of humor."
AND THIS IS WHAT IT SAYS: NO REMISSION, NO REMISSION, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, NO REMISSION WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD, WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD. NO REMISSION. NO REMISSION WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD.
Hagbard's mouth fell open in completely genuine surprise. "Well, sink me," he said, beginning to laugh.
Behind him on a wall, Joe noticed dizzily, was a brand-new graffito, probably scrawled by somebody out of his skull on the acid:
THE PIGEONS IN B. F. SKINNER'S CAGES ARE POLITICAL PRISONERS.
"We both pass," Hagbard went on happily. "We've been judged and found innocent by the great god Acid."
Joe took a deep breath. "And when do you start to explain in monosyllables or sign language or semaphore or something a non-Illuminated moron like me can understand?"
"You read all the clues. It was right out in the open. It was plain as a barn door. It was as conspicuous as my nose and twice as homely- in every sense of that word."
"Hagbard, for Christ's sake and for my sake and for all our sakes, will you stop gloating and give me the answer?"
"I'm sorry." Hagbard pocketed the gun carelessly. "I'm a bit giddy. I've been waging a kind of war all night, high on acid. It was a strain, especially since I was at least ninety percent sure you'd kill me before it was over." He lit one of his abominable cigars. "Briefly, then, the Illuminati is benevolent, compassionate, kindly, generous, et cetera, et cetera. Add all the other complimentary adjectives you can think of. In short, we're the good guys."
"But-but-it can't be."
"It can be and it is." Hagbard motioned him toward the Bugatti. "Let's Sit Down, if I may permit myself one more acrostic before the codes and puzzles are all resolved." They climbed into the front seat, and Joe accepted the brandy decanter Hagbard offered. "Of course," Hagbard went on, "when I say 'good,' you've got to understand that all terms are relative. We're as good as is possible in this fucked-up section of the galaxy. We're not perfect. Certainly, I'm not, and I haven't observed anything approaching immaculate perfection in any of the other Masters of the Temple either. But we are, in human terms and by ordinary standards, decent chaps. There's a reason for that. It's the basic law of magic, and it's in every textbook. You must have read it somewhere. Do you know what I mean?"
Joe took a stiff snort of the brandy. It was peach- his favorite. "Yes, I think. 'As ye give, so shall ye get.' "
"Precisely." Hagbard took back the bottle and had a snort himself. "Mind you, Joe, that's a scientific law, not a moral commandment. There are no commandments, because there is no commander anywhere. All authority is a delusion, whether in theology or in sociology. Everything is radically, even sickeningly, free. The first law of magic is as neutral as Newton's first law of motion. It says that the equation balances, and that's all it says. You are still free to give evil and pain, if you decide you must. Once done, however, you never escape the consequences. It always comes back. No prayers, sacrifices, mortifications, or supplications will change it, any more than they'll change Newton's laws or Einstein's. So we're 'good,' as moralists would say, because we know enough to have a bloody strong reason to be good. In the last week things went too fast, and I became 'evil'-I deliberately ordered and paid for the deaths of various people, and set in motion processes that had to lead to still other deaths. I knew what I was doing, and I knew-and still know-that I'll pay for it. Such decisions are extremely rare in the history of the Order, and my superior, the Dealy Lama, tried to persuade me it was unnecessary this time too. I disagreed; I take the responsibility. No man or god or goddess can change it. I will pay, and I'm ready to pay, whenever and however the bill is presented."
"Hagbard, what are you?"
"A mehum, the Saure family would say," Hagbard grinned. "A mere human. No more. Not one jot more."
"How much blood?" Robert Putney Drake asked. He was astonished at his own words; in all his experiments at breaking through the walls, he had never lowered himself to heckling an ignorant street preacher.
ALL THE BLOOD IN THE WORLD ISN'T ENOUGH. EVERY MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD ISN'T ENOUGH. EVEN ALL THE ANIMALS IF YOU ADDED THEM IN LINE IN SOME PAGAN OR VOODOO SACRIFICE. IT WOULDN'T BE ENOUGH. IT WOULDN'T BE ENOUGH, BROTHERS. THE GOOD BOOK SAYS SO.
"There were five of us," John-John Dillinger was explaining to George as they trudged back toward Ingolstadt, having lost Hagbard and the Bugatti in the crowd. "My folks kept it a secret. German people, very superstitious and secretive. They didn't want reporters all over the place and headlines about the first quintuplets to live. The Dionne family got all that, much later."
BECAUSE ALL THE BLOOD IN THE WORLD ISN'T EQUAL TO ONE DROP. NOT ONE DROP
"John Herbert Dillinger is in Las Vegas, trying to track down the plague- unless he already finished up and went home to Los Angeles." John-John smiled. "He was always the brains of the bunch. Runs a rock-music company, real professional businessman. He was the oldest, by a couple of minutes, and we all sort of look up to him. He served the prison time, even though I'm the one who rightly should have, seeing that robbing that grocer was my dumb idea. But he said he could take it without cracking up, and he was right."
NOT ONE DROP, NOT ONE DROP, OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.
"I see," Drake said. "And was that A, B, AB, or O?"
"John Hoover Dillinger lives in Mad Dog, under the name D. J. Hoover- he's not above letting people suspect he's a distant relative of J. Edgar's. Mostly," John-John said, "he's retired. Except occasionally for little jobs like helping arrange convincing jail breaks, say, when Jim Cartwright wants to let a prisoner get out in a realistic fashion. He gave Naismith the idea for the John Dillinger Died for You Society."
"How about the other two?" George asked, thinking that it would be even harder to decide whether he loved Stella more than Mavis or Mavis more than Stella now that he knew they were the same person. He wondered how Joe felt, since he obviously dug Miss Mao Tsu-hsi and she was that person also. Three in one and one in three. Like Dillinger. Or was Dillinger five in three? George realized suddenly that he was still tripping a little. Dillinger was five in one, not five in three: the law of Fives again. Did that mean there were two more in the Mavis-Stella-Mao complex, two that he hadn't met yet? Why did two and three keep popping up in all this?
"The other two are dead," John-John said sadly. "John Edgar Dillinger was born first, and he went and died first. Fast and furious, he was. It was him that plugged that bank guard in East Chicago while the rest of us were vacationing and laying low in Miami. Always the hothead, he was. Had a heart attack back in '43 and went to an early grave. John Thomas Dillinger went in '69. He was in Chicago in '68 on a JAM assignment, meeting with a crazy English spy named Chips. British Intelligence somehow got a report that the Democratic Convention was being run by the Bavarian Illuminati and would end with an assassination. They didn't believe in the Illuminati so they sent Chips; they always send him on wild cases, 'cause he's nutty enough to take them seriously and do a thorough job. Both of them got tear-gassed coming out of the Hilton Hotel, and poor Chips got thrown in a paddy-wagon with a bunch of young radicals. John Thomas had a chest problem already, a chronic asthma, and the tear gas made it a lot worse. He went from doctor to doctor, and finally passed away early in '69. So there's a cop in Chicago who could boast that he really killed John Dillinger, only he doesn't know it. Isn't life peculiar?"
"The Saure family only thought they were in the Illuminati," Hagbard went on. "Hitler and Stalin only thought they were in the Illuminati. Old Weishaupt only thought he was in the Illuminati. It's that simple. The moral of the whole story is: Beware of cheap Occidental imitations." He smiled grimly.
"I think it's beginning to penetrate," Joe said slowly. "It was, of course, the very first hypothesis I formed: There have been many groups in history who called themselves the Illuminati, and they weren't all aiming at exactly the same thing."
"Precisely." Hagbard puffed again at his cigar. "That's the natural first suspicion of any non-paranoid mind. Then, as you explore the evidence, links between these groups begin to appear. Eventually the paranoid hypothesis begins to appear more plausible and you begin to believe there always has been one Illuminati, using the same basic slogans and symbols and aiming at the same basic goal. I sent Jim Cartwright to you with that yarn about three conspiracies- the ABC or Ancient Bavarian Conspiracy, the NBC or New Bavarian Conspiracy, and the CBS or Conservative Bavarian Seers- to set you thinking that the truth might be midway backward toward the simple first idea. From here on in, forget that I represent the original Illuminati. In fact, in recent centuries we don't use a name at all. We employ only the initials A.A., written like this." He sketched on a Donau-Hotel matchbook:
A :. A :.
"A lot of occult writers," he went on, "have made some amazing guesses as to what that means. Actually, it doesn't mean a damned thing. To prevent our name being stolen and misused again, we don't have a name. Anybody who thinks he's guessed the name and tries to pass himself off as an initiate by declaring that we're really the Atlantean Arcanum or the Argenteum Astrum or whatever immediately reveals that he's a fraud. It's a neat gimmick," Hagbard intoned gloomily. "I only wish we had thought of it centuries earlier."
The buzzer on the President's secretary's desk buzzed as Saul and Barney passed through the outer door. The secretary flipped the switch, and the President said, "Find out the highest medal a civilian can get, and order two, on my signature, for those two detectives."
"Yes, sir," the secretary said, scribbling.
"And then ask the FBI to check out that older one. He looked like a kike to me," the President said shrewdly.
NO- because I'd be a fool to think miracles can occur in this world before somebody pays the rent and the taxes and shows that their papers are in order and the people who are running it can always tell you your papers are not in order No because there are no magicians and even Hagbard is mostly a fraud and a con man even if he means well No because I'm not Pope Joan if there ever was a Pope Joan No because like the song says I'm not a queen I'm a woman and the wrong color woman to boot No because there will be rivers of blood and the earth will be shaken before we can overturn Boss Charlie because it isn't a simple one-night symbolic Armageddon like Hagbard fooled them all into thinking No because Hagbard is some kind of magician and put us all on his own trip for a while but the real world isn't a trip it's a bummer No because the lovers don't live happily ever after what happens is that they get married and get into debt and live in slavery ever after and I've got to find something better than that No because none of us are driving the car it's the car that's driving us No because it's like that old joke "Balls" said the queen "if I had them I'd be king" and "Nuts" said the prince "I've got them and I'm not king" and "Crap" said the king and thirty thousand royal subjects squatted and strained for in those days the king's word was law Hagbard would call it anality and sexism and ageism but it just comes down to the women and children getting all the crap right in the face and a few males owning everything the truth is all in the old jokes especially the bad jokes I'm still tripping but this is true they can always say your papers are not in order No because sometimes you've got to be a hermit and then come back later when you're together No because the wheel keeps spinning and doesn't give a fuck if there's going to be any change it's got to be that some human being somewhere does give a fuck No because I've never found a way to shut Simon's mouth and make him listen No because Jesus Christ was a black man and they've even lied about that he was another black man they killed and they won't admit it No because death is the currency in every empire Roman or American or any other all empires are the same Death is always the argument they use No because the whole world can go to the Devil and I'm taking care of Mary Lou No because look at that professor they killed at the UN building and none of them arrested yet No because there's a perpetual motion machine inside me and I'm learning to let it run No because I'll put a curse on all of them I'll burn them I'll condemn them I'll have the world No because look what happened to Daddy and Mommy.
"It's grade 5 and moving up toward 6," Igor Beaver shouted into the phone.
"You idiot, don't you think I can tell that from here?" Dr. Troll shouted back. "My bed was bouncing around like it had Saint Vitus' dance even before you called." His emotion was merely professional anger at the student's failure to obey orders; Grade 5 is nothing to get exerted about if you're a Californian, and even Grade 6 causes anxiety only among tourists or believers in the famous Edgar Cayce prophecy… John Herbert Dillinger, one of those believers, was already in the garage, pajama tops tucked in to hastily donned trousers, bare foot on the starter… But Smiling Jim climbed blissfully upward, enjoying total communication with nature, the mystic rapture of the true hunter before he gets his chance to open fire and blast a chunk of nature to hell…
YOU MAY MOCK AND YOU MAY JEST BUT AT THE LAST JUDGMENT THE SMILE WILL BE WIPED OFF YOUR FACE
"He's heckling the preacher," Mama said. "A small beginning, certainly, for the kind of destiny he seems to be choosing."
"He's heckling himself," the Dealy Lama pronounced. "Christianity, rightly understood, is an encounter with Death. He's still struggling with that problem. He wants to believe in the symbolism of the Resurrection, but he can't. Too much intellect- King of Swords -keeping the reins on his intuitive- Prince of Wands- aspect."
"Well, maybe," Drake said calmly. "But suppose He was type A. Now, if He got a transfusion at the last minute…"
The nest was in sight. The bird was invisible, but Smiling Jim recognized the characteristic eagle's nest on a peak only a few hundred yards above and to the west. "Come home, baby," he thought passionately, unstrapping his rifle. "Come home. Daddy is waiting."
Hagbard took another belt of the brandy and repeated: "The Saures were not Illuminati. Neither were Weishaupt or Hitler. They were frauds, pure and simple. First they deluded themselves, then they deluded others. The real Illuminati, the A:.A:., have never been involved in politics or in any form of manipulating or coercing people. Our interests are entirely elsewhere. Do what thou wilt is our law. Only in the last few decades, as the fate of the earth seemed to be hanging in the balance, have we taken any direct action. Even so, we have been cautious. We know that power corrupts. We have acted chiefly by not-acting, by what the Taoists call wu-wei. But then things got out of hand. They moved too fast… We fucked up somewhat. But only because total inaction seemed to mean total disaster."
"You mean you, as an official of some sort in the A:.A:., infiltrated the fake Illuminati and became one of their top Five, intending to undo them nonviolently? And it didn't work?"
"It worked about as well as any activity on that level ever works," Hagbard said somberly. "Most of humanity has been spared, for a while. And the wild free animals have been spared. For a while." He sighed. "I guess I'll have to begin from the A-B-Cs. We have never sought power. We have sought to disperse power, to set men and women free. That really means: to help them to discover that they are free. Everybody's free. The slave is free. The ultimate weapon isn't this plague out in Vegas, or any new super H-bomb. The ultimate weapon has always existed. Every man, every woman, and every child owns it. It's the ability to say No and take the consequences. 'Fear is failure.' 'The fear of death is the beginning of slavery.' "Thou hast no right but to do thy will.' The goose can break the bottle at any second. Socrates took the hemlock to prove it. Jesus went to the cross to prove it. It's in all history, all myth, all poetry. It's right out in the open all the time."
Hagbard sighed again. "Our founder and leader, the man known in myth as Prometheus or the snake in the garden of Eden-"
"Oh, Christ," Joe said, slumping forward in his seat. "I have the feeling that you're starting to put me on again. You're about to tell me that the Prometheus and Genesis stories are really based on fact."
"Our leader, known as Lucifer or Satan," Hagbard went on, "Lucifer being the bringer of light-"
"You know," Joe said, "I'm not going to believe a word of this."
"Our leader, known as Prometheus the fire-bringer or Lucifer the light-bringer or Quetzalcoatl the morning star or the snake in the garden of Osiris's bad brother, Set, or Shaitan the tempter- well, to be brief, he repented." Hagbard raised an eyebrow. "Does that intrigue you sufficiently to silence your skepticism long enough for me to finish a sentence?"
"He repented?" Joe sat upright again.
"Sure. Why not?" Hagbard's old malicious grin, so rare in the last week, returned. "If Atlas can Shrug and Telemachus can Sneeze, why can't Satan Repent?"
"Go ahead," Joe said. "This is just another one of your put-ons, but I'm hooked. I'll listen. But I have my own answer, which is that there is no answer. You're just an allegory on the universe itself, and every explanation of you and your actions is incomplete. They'll always be a new, more up-to-date explanation coming along a while later. That's my answer."
Hagbard laughed easily. "Charming," he said. "I must remember that the next time I'm trying to understand myself. Of course, it's true of any human being. We're all allegories on the universe, different faces it wears in trying to decide what it really is… But our founder and leader, as I was saying, repented. That's the secret that has never been revealed. There is no stasis anywhere in the cosmos, least of all in the minds of entities that possess minds. The basic fallacy of all bad writers-and theologians are notoriously bad writers-is to create cardboard characters who never change. He gave us the light of reason and, seeing how we misused it, he repented. The story is more complicated, but that's the basic outline. At least, it's as much as I understood until a week ago. The important thing to get clear is that he never aimed at power or destruction. That's a myth-"
"Created by the opposition," Joe said. "Right? I read that in Mark Twain's defense of Satan."
"Twain was subtle," Hagbard said, taking a little more brandy, "but not subtle enough. No, the myth was not created by the opposition. It was created by our founder himself."
"Wilde should be alive," Joe said admiringly. "He was so proud of himself, setting paradox on top of paradox until he had a nice three- or four- or five-story house of contradictions built up. He should see the skyscrapers you create."
"You never disappoint me," Hagbard said. "If they ever hang you, you'll be arguing about whether the rope really exists until the last minute. That's why I picked you, all those years ago, and programmed you for the role you'd play tonight. Only a man whose father was an ex-Moslem, and who was himself an ex-Catholic and an ex-engineering student, would have the required complexity. Anyway, to return to the libretto, as an old friend of mine used to say, the error of Weishaupt and Hitler and Stalin and the Saures was to believe the propaganda our founder spread against himself- that, and believing they were in communication with him, when they were only in communication with a nasty part of their own unconscious minds. There was no evil spirit misleading them. They were misleading themselves. And we were trailing along behind, trying to keep them from causing too much harm. Finally, in the early 1960s- after a certain fuckup in Dallas convinced me that things were getting out of hand- I contacted the Five directly. Since I knew the real secrets of magic and they only had distortions, it was easy to convince them that I was an emissary from those beings whom they call the Secret Chiefs or the Great Old Ones or the Shining Ones. Being half crazy, they reacted in a way I had not expected. They all abdicated and appointed me and the four Saures as their successors. They decided that we're entering the age of Horus, the child-god, and that youth should be given a chance to run things-hence, the promotion of the Saures. They threw me in because I seemed to know what I was talking about. But then came the real problem: I couldn't convince the Saures of anything. Those pig-headed kids wouldn't believe a word I said. They told me I was over thirty and untrustworthy. I told you the truth was out in the open all the time; anybody with eyes in his head should have been able to interpret what's been happening since the early 1960s. The great and dreaded Illuminati of the past had fallen into the control of a bunch of ignorant and malicious kids. The age of the crowned and conquering child."
"And you think the old and wise should rule?" Joe asked. "That doesn't fit your character. This has to be another put-on."
"I don't think anybody should rule," Hagbard said. "All I'm doing- all the Higher Order of the A:.A:. has ever tried to' do-is communicate with people, in spite of their biases and fears. Not to rule them. And what we're trying to communicate-the ultimate secret, the philosopher's stone, the elixir of life-is just the power of the word No. We are people who have said Non serviam, and we're trying to teach others to say it. Drake was one of us spiritually but never understood it. If we can't find immortality, we can make a damned good try. If we can't save this planet, we can get off it and go to the stars."
"And what happens now?" Joe asked.
"More surprises," Hagbard answered promptly. "I can't tell you the whole story at this hour, with both of us fagged out at the end of an acid trip. We go back to the hotel and sleep, and after breakfast there are more revelations. For George as well as for you."
And later in the Bugatti, which, driven by Harry Coin, was grandly wafting Hagbard, George, and Joe around the south side of Lake Totenkopf, George asked, "Is Hitler really going to be buried anonymously in a Jewish cemetery?"
"It looks that way." Hagbard grinned. "His Israeli documents are excellent forgeries. He'll be lifted off that toilet by Hauptmann's men and gently deposited in the Ingolstadt Hebrew Burial Grounds, there to rest for all eternity."
"That will make me throw up once a day for the rest of my life," Joe said bitterly. "It's the worst case of cemetery desecration in history."
"Oh, it has a positive aspect," said Hagbard. "Look at it from the point of view of the Nazi leaders. Think how they'll hate being buried in a Jewish cemetery with a rabbi praying over them."
"Doesn't make up for it," said George. "Joe's right. It's in terribly bad taste."
"I thought both you guys were thoroughgoing atheists," said Hagbard. "If you are, you think the dead are dead and it hardly matters where they're buried. What's happening- you both getting religion?"
"I can think of nothing more likely to drive a man to religion than your company," said Joe.
"Burying them Nazis with a bunch of Jews is the funniest thing I ever heard," Harry Coin offered from the driver's seat.
"Go bugger a dead goat, Coin," George called.
"Sure thing," said Coin. "Lead me to it."
"You're incorrigible, Hagbard," said Joe. "You really are incorrigible. And you surround yourself with people who incorrige you."
"I don't need help," said Hagbard. "I have a great deal of initiative. More than any other human being I know. With the possible exception of Mavis."
George said, "Hagbard, did I really see what I thought I saw last night? Is Mavis really a goddess? Are Stella and Miss Mao and Mavis all the same person, or was I just hallucinating?"
"Here come the paradoxes," Joe groaned. "He'll talk for an hour, and we'll be more confused when he's finished."
Hagbard, who was sitting in a large swivel jump seat, swung round so he was looking over Harry Coin's shoulder at the road ahead. "I'd be glad to tell you later, George. I would have told you now, except that I don't like Malik's tone. He may not be intending to shoot me any more, but he still has it in for me."
"You bet," said Joe.
"Well, are you still going to marry Mavis?"
"What?" Hagbard swung round and stared at George with an expression that was almost a perfect replica of genuine surprise.
"You said that you and Mavis were going to be married aboard the Leif Erikson by Miss Portinari. Are you?"
"Yes," said Hagbard, "Miss Portinari will marry us later today. Sorry, but I knew her first."
"Then Mavis isn't really Eris?" George persisted. "She's just a priestess of Eris?"
Hagbard brushed the question away. "Later, George. She will explain it."
"She's even better at explanations than Hagbard is," Joe commented cynically.
"Well," said Hagbard, "getting back to Hitler and company, you have to realize that they will know about it if their bodies are buried in a Jewish cemetery. They are still conscious and aware, though they are not what we would normally call alive. Their consciousness-energy is intact, though there is no life in their bodies. They came to the Ingolstadt festival hoping that their young leaders would give them immortality. They've achieved immortality, all right But not a very nice kind. Their consciousness-energy has been gobbled up by the Evil One. Their identities still survive, but they will be helpless parts of the Eater of Souls, the foulest being in the universe, the only creature that can turn spirit into carrion. Yog Sothoth has claimed his own."
"Yog Sothoth!" said Joe. "I remember learning about Yog Sothoth. It was an invisible being trapped in a pentagonal structure in Atlantis. The original Illuminati blew up the structure and turned the creature loose."
"Why, yes," Hagbard said, "you saw that Erisian Liberation Front training film about Atlantis and Grayface Gruad, didn't you? Well, of course, the film isn't accurate in every respect. For instance, Yog Sothoth is depicted as killing people by the thousands. Actually, most of the time, except under very limited conditions, he has to have his killing done for him. That's how human sacrifice originated. And it was to get his killing done for him that he manipulated a great many events among the Atlanteans until old Grayface, the original moral sadomasochist, came along with his notions about good and evil. Man suffers because he is evil, said Gruad, and because he is small and helpless. There are vast powers in the universe, dwarfing us, who have to be placated. Gruad taught man to see ignorance, passion, pain, and death as evils, and to fight against them."
"Well… ignorance is an evil," said Joe.
"Not when it can be acknowledged and accepted," said Hagbard. "In order to eat, you have to be hungry. In order to learn, you have to be ignorant. Ignorance is a condition of learning. Pain is a condition of health. Passion is a condition of thought. Death is a condition of life. When Gruad taught his followers in Atlantis to see those conditions as evils, then he could teach them human sacrifice, persecution, and warfare. Yog Sothoth taught Gruad to teach his people those things, only Gruad never knew it."
"So Yog Sothoth is the serpent in the Garden of Eden," said Joe.
"In a manner of speaking," said Hagbard. "But you understand, the Garden of Eden myth was dreamed up and promulgated by the Illuminati."
"And who dreamed up the Gruad of Atlantis myth?" said Joe.
"Oh, that's true," said Hagbard solemnly.
"That's the biggest bunch of bullshit I ever heard," said Joe. "You're trying to claim that there's no such thing as good and evil, that the concepts were invented and taught to humans deliberately to fuck them up psychologically. But in order to maintain that you have to postulate that the condition of man before Gruad was good and that his condition afterward has been evil. And you have to make Yog Sothoth into a carbon copy of Satan. You haven't progressed one iota beyond the Judeo-Christian myth with that highfalutin' science-fiction story."
Hagbard roared with laughter and slapped Joe on the knee. "Beautiful!" He held up his hand in a distinctive gesture. "What I am doing?" he asked.
"You're giving the peace sign, only with your fingers together," George said, confused.
"That's what comes of being an ignorant Baptist." Joe laughed. "As a son of the True Church, I can tell you, George, that Hagbard is giving a Catholic blessing."
"Indeed?" said Hagbard. "Look at the shadow my hand casts on this book." He held up a book behind his hand, and they saw the head of a horned Devil. "The sun, source of all light and energy, symbol of redemption. And my hand, in the most sacred gesture of benediction. Put them both together, they spell Satan," he sang to an old tune.
"And what the hell does that mean?" Joe demanded. "Evil is only a shadow, a false appearance? The usual mystic mishmosh? Tell that to the survivors of Auschwitz."
"Suppose," Hagbard said, "I told you that good was only a shadow, a false appearance? Several modern philosophers have argued that case rather plausibly and earned themselves a reputation for hard-headed realism. And yet that's just the mirror image of what you call the usual mystic mishmosh."
"Then what is real?" George demanded. "Mary, Queen of the May, or Kali, Mother of Murderers, or Eris, who synthesizes both?"
"The trip is real," Hagbard said. "The images you encounter along the way are all unreal. If you keep moving, and pass them, you eventually discover that."
"Solipsism. Sophomore solipsism," Joe answered.
"No." Hagbard grinned. "The solipsist thinks the tripper is real."
Harry Coin called out, "Hagbard, there's a couple of guys up the road flagging us down."
Hagbard turned and peered ahead. "Right. They're crew members from the Leif Erikson. Pull up where they tell you to, Harry." He reached up to a silver vase mounted beside the back seat and took a pink rosebud out of the fresh bouquet he had placed there that morning. He carefully inserted the rosebud in the buttonhole of his lapel. The great golden Bugatti rolled to a stop, and the four men got out. Harry patted its long front fender with a long, skinny hand.
"Thanks for letting me drive this car, Hagbard," he said. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me."
"No it isn't. Now you'll want your own Bugatti. Or, what's worse, you'll ask me to let you be my chauffeur."
"No I won't. But I'll do a deal with you. You let me have this car, and whenever you want to go somewhere in it, I'll drive you."
Hagbard laughed and slapped Coin on the back. "You keep on showing that much intelligence and you will end up owning one."
The long line of cars that had been following the Bugatti now were stopping along the edge of the road behind it There was a stretch of lawn that sloped gently down from the road to the lake. Out on the choppy blue water a round gold buoy drifted, giving off a cloud of red smoke.
Stella stepped out of the Mercedes 600 that was parked behind the Bugatti. George half expected Mavis and Miss Mao to get out with her, but there was no sign of them. He looked at her and was unable to speak. He didn't know what to say. She looked back at him with grave, sad eyes, in silence. Somehow, he thought, it will all be different and better when we get down to the submarine. In the submarine we'll be able to talk to each other.
A pink Cadillac behind the Mercedes disgorged Simon Moon and Clark Kent. Stella did not turn to look at them. They were talking excitedly to each other. A motorcycle pulled up behind the Cadillac. Otto Waterhouse climbed off it. Now Stella turned and looked at Otto, then back to George. Otto looked at Stella, then at George. Stella suddenly turned away from both of them and walked down to the edge of the lake. A large inflated liferaft was pulled up on shore, and one of Hagbard's men sitting in the raft stood up holding a wetsuit as Stella approached. Slowly, as if she were all alone by the shore of the lake, Stella took off her peasant blouse and skirt and continued stripping until she was naked. Then she started to put on the wetsuit.
Meanwhile, another man got behind the wheel of Hagbard's Bugatti Royale and drove it across the lawn. Two other men held the mouth of a huge transparent plastic bag far enough apart so that the car could be driven right into it. They tied up the end of the bag with strong wire. Ropes attached to the bag grew taut; their other ends disappeared into the water. Slowly, looking somewhat majestic and somewhat ridiculous, the car slid across the lawn and into the water. When it had been pulled out a short distance from shore it began to float. Out of the deeper water popped two golden scuba-launches, Hagbard's men in black wetsuits mounted in the saddles. The launches positioned themselves on either side of the automobile in its plastic bubble and the men lashed the launches and the car together with cables. Then they started their engines and launches; men and car quickly sank out of sight.
Meanwhile, more rubber rafts pulled ashore, and all of Hagbard's people started donning wetsuits distributed by the men from the submarine.
"I've never done this before," said Lady Velkor. "Are you sure it's safe?"
"Don't worry, baby," said Simon Moon. "Even a man could do it."
"Where's your friend, Mary Lou?" George asked.
"She left me," Simon said glumly. "The damned acid fucked up her mind."
NO-because in the long run whites and blacks and men and women have to come to an understanding and an equality No because this split can't go on forever I mean shit I understand that but No I can't not now No I am not ready yet the penis I imagined I had last night was not just some Freudian hallucination there's the phallic power behind the physical penis No the acting from the center of the body what Simon says Hagbard calls acting from the heart and only a few can have that right now No most of us haven't learned and haven't been given a chance to learn That's the real castration the real impotence in both men and women in both blacks and whites No the power that we think is phallic because this is a patriarchal society No I can't be Simon's woman or anybody's woman First I've got to be my own woman and it may take years it may take life I may never achieve it but I've got to try I can't end up like Daddy I can't end up like most blacks and most of the whites too end up No maybe I'll meet Simon again maybe we can try a second time That acid nut Timothy Leary always said You can be anything you want the second time around No it can't be this time it's got to be the second time around No I said No I won't No
"I hope to hell Hauptmann was telling the truth about not following me," said Hagbard. "It's going to take time to get us all down below."
"What are we doing with the cars?" Harry Coin asked.
"Well, the Bugatti, obviously, is too beautiful for me to part with, which is why I'm taking it aboard the Leif Erikson. But the rest we'll just leave. Maybe some of the people who went to the festival will be able to use them."
"Don't worry about them Huns," said John-John Dillinger, strolling up. "Any of them give us trouble, we'll just reply with a few short sharp words from old Mr. Thompson. Leave 'em in stitches."
"Peace, it's wonderful," said Hagbard sourly.
"Give it a chance," said Malaclypse, still in the guise of Jean-Paul Sartre. "It needs time to spread. The absence of the Illuminati has to make itself felt. It will make a difference."
"I doubt it," said Hagbard. "The Dealy Lama was right all along."
The entire operation of outfitting Hagbard's people with wetsuits, paddling them out to the scuba-launches, and transporting them down to the Leif Erikson took more than an hour. When it was George's turn he looked eagerly into the depths for the Leif Erikson and was happy when he saw it glowing below him like a great golden blimp. Well, at least that's real, he thought. I'm approaching it from the outside, and it's just as big as I think it is. Even if it doesn't go anywhere and this is all happening in Disney World.
An hour later the submarine was deep in the Sea of Valusia. George, Joe, and Hagbard stood on the bridge, Hag-bard leaning against the ancient Viking prow, George and Joe peering into the endless gray depths, watching the strange blind fishes and monsters swim by.
"There's a type of fungus that has evolved into something resembling seaweed in this ocean," said Hagbard. "It's luminescent. There's no light down here, so no green plants grow."
A dot appeared in the distance and grew rapidly in size until George recognized a porpoise, doubtless Howard. There was scuba-diving equipment strapped to the animal's back. When he had come alongside he turned a somersault, and his translated voice started to come through the loudspeaker in a song:
When he swims the oceans spill, He can start earthquakes at will, He lived when the earth was desolate, I sing Leviathan the great.
Hagbard shook his head. "That doggerel is just awful. I'm going to have to do something about FUCKUP'S ability to translate poetry. What are you talking about, Howard?"
"Aha," said Joe. "I didn't get a look at your talking porpoise friend last time I was aboard. Hello, Howard, I'm Joe."
"Hello, Joe," said Howard. "Welcome to my world. Unfortunately, it's not a very hospitable world at the moment. There is grave danger in the Atlantic. The true ruler of the Illuminati is on the prowl on the high seas- Leviathan himself. The land is collapsing beside the Pacific, and the tremors have made the earth shake, and Leviathan is disturbed and has risen from the depths. Besides the trembling of the lands and seas, he knows that his chief worshippers, the Illuminati, are dead. He had read their passing in the pulsings of consciousnes-energy that reach even into the depths of the sea."
"Well, he can't eat the submarine," said Hagbard. "And we're well armed."
"He can crack the submarine open as easily as a gull cracks a penguin's egg," said Howard. "And your weapons will bother him not at all. He's virtually indestructible." Hagbard shrugged, while Joe and George looked askance at each other. "I'll be careful, Howard. But we can't turn around now. We've got to get back to North America. We'll try to evade Leviathan if we see him."
"He fills the whole ocean," said Howard. "No matter what you do, you'll see him, and he'll see you."
"Only slightly. I must bid you farewell now. I think we've done a good week's work, and the menace to my people recedes even as does the danger to yours. Our porpoise horde is scattering and leaving by different exits into the North Atlantic. I'm getting out of the Sea of Valusia by way of Scotland. We think Leviathan will head south around Cape Horn into the Pacific. Everything that swims and is hungry is going that way. There's a lot of fresh meat in the water, I'm sorry to say. Good-bye, friends."
"So long, Howard," said Hagbard. "That was a good bridge you helped me build."
"Yes, it was," said Howard. 'Too bad you had to sink it."
"What were those tanks on Howard's back?" said Joe. "Scuba gear," said George. "There's no air available in the Sea of Valusia, so Howard has to have breathing equipment till he can get to the open ocean. Hagbard, what was that business about the true ruler of the Illuminati? I've heard again and again that there were five Illuminati Primi. Four of them were the Saure family. That leaves one. Is it Leviathan? Is the whole show being run by a sea monster? Is that the big secret?"
"No," said Hagbard. "You have yet to figure out who the fifth Illuminatus Primus is." He threw Joe a wink that George missed. "By true ruler Howard meant a godlike being whom the Illuminati worship."
"A sea monster?" said Joe. "There was a hint about a sea monster of enormous size and power in that movie those people showed me in that loft on the Lower East Side. But the original Illuminati- Gruad's bunch- were portrayed as sun worshippers. That big pyramid with the eye in it was supposed to be the sun god's eye. Who the hell were those people with the movie, anyway? I know who Miss Mao is now, but I still don't know who they were."
"Members of the Erisian Liberation Front- ELF," said Hagbard. "They have a somewhat different view of the prehistory and origins of the Illuminati than we do. One thing we both agree upon is that the Illuminati invented religion."
"The Original Sin, right?" said Joe sardonically.
"Joe, you ought to start a religion yourself," said Hagbard.
"Because you are so skeptical."
"We're going back to America, huh?" said George. "And the adventure is more or less over?"
"This phase of it, at least," said Hagbard.
"Good. I want to try to write about what I've seen and what has happened to me. I'll see you guys later."
"There's to be a magnificent dinner tonight in the main dining salon," said Hagbard.
Joe said, "Don't forget, Confrontation has a first option on anything you write."
"Fuck you," George's voice came back as the door of the bridge closed behind him.
"Wish I had something better to do than this. Gimme two," said Otto Waterhouse.
"You do, don't you?" said Harry Coin. "Ain't that Nigra gal, Stella, your gal? Why ain't you with her?"
"Because she doesn't exist," said Otto, picking up the two cards John-John Dillinger had slid across the polished teak-wood table to him. He studied his hand for a moment, then threw a five-ton flax note into the pot. "Any more than Mavis or Miss Mao exists. There's a woman somewhere under all of those identities, but everything I've experienced has been a hallucination."
"There isn't a woman in the world you couldn't say that about," said Dillinger. "How many cards you want, Harry?"
"Three," said Harry. "This is a lousy hand you dealt me, John-John. Come to think of it, you're hallucinatin' all the time when you have sex. That's what makes it good. And that's how come I can fuck anything."
"I'll just take one," said Dillinger. "Dealt myself a pretty good hand. What do you see when you're fucking trees and little boys and whatnot, Harry?"
"A white light," said Harry. "Just a big beautiful clear white light. I'll throw in ten tons of flax this time."
"Must be your hand isn't so lousy after all," said Waterhouse.
"Come in," said George. The stateroom door opened, and he put down his pen. It was Stella.
"We have a little problem, don't we, George?" she said, coming into the room and sitting beside him on the bed. "I think you're angry at me," she went on, putting her hand on his knee. "You feel like this identity of mine is a sham. So, in a sense, I was deceiving you."
"I've lost you and Mavis both," said George. "You're both the same person- which means you're really neither. You're immortal. You're not human; I don't know what you are." Suddenly he looked at her hopefully. "Unless that was all a hallucination last night. Could it have been the acid? Can you really change into different people?"
"Yes," said Mavis.
"Don't do that," said George. "It upsets me too much." He darted a little glance to his side. It was Stella.
"I don't really understand why it bothers me so much," said George. "I ought to be able to take everything in stride by now."
"Did it ever bother you that you were in love with Mavis, besides being in love with me?" said Stella.
"Not much. Because it hardly ever seemed to bother you. But I know why now. How could you be jealous when you and Mavis were the same person?"
"We're not the same person, really."
"What does that mean?"
"Did you ever read The Three Faces of Eve? Listen…"
Like all the best love stories, it began in Paris. She was well known as a Hollywood actress (and was actually an Illuminatus); he was becoming fairly famous as a jet-set millionaire (and was actually a smuggler and anarchist). Envision Bogart and Bergman in the flashback sequences from Casablanca. It was like that: a passion so intense, a Paris so beautiful (recovering from the war it had been slipping toward in the Bogart-Bergman epic), a couple so radiant that any observer with an eye for nuance would have foretold a storm ahead. It came the night he confessed he was a magician and made a certain proposal to her; she left him at once. A month later, back in Beverly Hills, she realized that what he had asked was her destiny. When she tried to find him-as often happened with Hagbard Celine- he had dropped from public view, leaving his businesses in other hands temporarily, and was in camera.
A year later she heard that he was again a public figure, hobnobbing with English businessmen of questionable reputation and even more dubious Chinese import-export executives in Hong Kong. She violated her contract with the biggest studio in Hollywood and flew to the Crown colony, only to find he had dropped from sight again, while his recent friends were being investigated for involvement in the heroin business.
She found him in Tokyo, at the Imperial Hotel.
"A year ago, I decided to accept your proposal," she told him, "but now, after Hong Kong, I'm not so sure."
"Thelema," he said, facing her across a room that seemed designed for Martians; it had actually been designed for Welshmen.
She sat down abruptly on a couch. "You're in the Order?"
"In the Order and against the Order," he said. "The real purpose is to destroy them."
"I'm one of the top Five in the United States," she said unsteadily. "What makes you think I'll turn on them now?"
"Thelema," he repeated. "It's not just a password. It means Will."
"The Order is" my Will.'" She quoted from Weishaupt's original Oath of Initiation.
"If you really believed that, you wouldn't be here," he said. "You're talking to me because part of you knows that a human being's Will is never in an external organization."
"You sound like a moralist. That's odd- for a heroin merchant."
"You sound like a moralist, too, and that's very odd- for a servant of Agharti."
"Nobody joins that lot," she said with a pert Cockney accent, "without being a moralist to start with." They both laughed.
"I was right about you," Hagbard said.
But, George interrupted, is he really in the heroin business? That's dirty.
You sound like a moralist too, she said. It's part of his Demonstration. Any government could put him out of business within their borders- as England has done- by legalizing junk. So long as they refuse to do that, there's a black market. He won't let the Mafia monopolize it- he makes sure the black market is a free market. If it wasn't for him a lot of junkies who are alive today would be dead of contaminated heroin. But let me go on with the story.
They rented a villa in Naples to begin the transformation. For a month the only humans she saw- aside from Hagbard- were two servants named Sade and Masoch (she later learned that their real names were Eichmann and Calley). They began each day by serving her breakfast and quarreling. The first day, Sade argued for materialism and Masoch for idealism; the second day, Sade expounded fascism and Masoch communism; the third day, Sade insisted on cracking eggs from the big end and Masoch was equally vehement about the little end. All the debates were on a high and lofty intellectual level, verbally, but seemed absurd because of the simple fact that Sade and Masoch always wore clown suits. The fourth day, they argued for and against abortion; the fifth day, for and against mercy-killing; the sixth day, for and against the proposition "Life is worth living." She became more and more aware of the time and money Hagbard had spent in training and preparing them: Each argued with the skill of a first-rate trial lawyer and had a phalanx of carefully researched facts to support his position- and yet the clown suits made it hard to take either of them seriously. The seventh morning, they argued theism versus atheism; the eighth morning, the individual versus the State; the ninth, whether wearing shoes was or was not a sexual perversion. All arguments began to seem equally insubstantial. The tenth morning, they feuded over realism versus antinomianism; the eleventh, whether the statement "All statements are relative" is or is not self-contradictory; the twelfth, whether a man who sacrifices his life for his country is or is not insane: the fifteenth, whether spaghetti or Dante had had the greater influence on the Italian national character…
But that was only the start of the day. After breakfast in her bedroom, where every article of furniture was gold but only vaguely rounded) she went to Hagbard's study (where everything looked exactly like a golden apple) and watched documentary films concerning the early matriarchal stage of Greek culture. At ten random intervals the name "Eris" would be called; if she remembered to respond, a chocolate candy arrived from a wall shoot. At ten other random intervals, her own name was called; if she responded to this, she received a mild electric shock. After the tenth day the system was changed and intensified: The shock was stronger if she responded to her previous name, whereas if she responded to "Eris" Hagbard immediately entered and balled her.
During lunch (which always ended with golden apfel-strudel), Galley and Eichmann danced for her, a complex ballet which Hagbard called "Hodge-Podge"; as many times as she saw this, she never was able to determine how they changed costumes at the climax, in which Hodge became Podge and Podge became Hodge.
In the afternoon Hagbard came to her suite and gave lessons in yoga, concentrating on pranayama, with some training in asana. "The important thing is not being able to stand so still that you can balance a saucer of sulphuric acid on your head without getting hurt," he stressed. "The important thing is knowing what each muscle is doing, if it must be doing something."
In the evenings they went to a small chapel that had been part of the villa for centuries. Hagbard had removed all Christian decorations and redesigned it in classical Greek with a traditional magic pentagram on the floor. She sat, in the full lotus, within the internal pentagon, while Hagbard danced insanely around the five points (he was totally stoned), calling upon Eris.
"Some of what you're doing seems scientific," she told him after five days, "but some is plain damnfoolishness." "If the science fails," he replied, "the damnfoolishness may work."
"But last night you had me in that pentagon for three hours while you called on Eris. And she didn't come."
"She will," Hagbard said darkly. "Before the month is over. We're just establishing the foundation this week, laying down the proper lines of word and image and emotional energy."
During the second week she was convinced Hagbard was quite mad as she watched him prance and caper like a goat around the five points, shouting, in the flickering candlelight and amid the heavy bouquet of burning incense and hemp. But at the end of that week she was responding to her former name exactly 0 percent of the time and responding to "Eris" exactly 100 percent of the time. "The conditioning is working better than the magic," she said on the fifteenth day.
"Do you really think there's a difference?" he asked curiously.
That night she felt the air in the chapel change in a strange way during his dancing invocations.
"Something's happening," she said involuntarily- but he replied only "Quiet," and continued, more loudly and insanely, to call upon Eris. The phenomenon- the tingle- remained, but nothing else happened.
"What was it?" she asked later.
"Some call it Orgone and some call it the Holy Ghost," he said briefly. "Weishaupt called it the Astral Light. The reason the Order is so fucked up is that they've lost contact with it."
The following days Sade and Masoch argued whether God was male or female, whether God was sexed at all or neutral, whether God was an entity or a verb, whether R. Buckminster. Fuller really existed or was a technocratic solar myth, and whether human language was capable of containing truth. Nouns, adjectives, adverbs- all parts of speech- were losing meaning for her as these clowns endlessly debated the basic axioms of ontology and epistemology. Meanwhile, she was no longer rewarded for answering to the name Eris, but only for acting like Eris, the imperious and somewhat nutty goddess of a people as far gone in matriarchy as the Jews were in patriarchy. Hagbard, in turn, became so submissive as to border on masochism.
"This is ridiculous," she objected once, "you're becoming… effeminate."
"Eris can be… somewhat 'adjusted'… to modern notions of decorum after we've invoked Her," he said calmly. "First we must have Her here. My Lady," he added obsequiously.
"I'm beginning to see why you had to pick an actress for this," she said a few days later, after a bit of Method business had won her an extra reward. She was, in fact, beginning to feel like Eris as well as act like her.
"The only other candidates- if I couldn't get you- were two other actresses and a ballerina," he replied. "Actually, any strong-willed woman would do, but it would take much longer without previous theatrical training."
Books about matriarchy began to supplement the films: Diner's Mothers and Amazons, Bachofen, Engels, Mary Renault, Morgan, Ian Suttie's The Origins of Love and Hale, Robert Graves in horse-doctor's doses- The White Goddess, The Black Goddess, Hercules My Shipmate, Watch the North Wind Rise. She began to see that matriarchy made as much sense as patriarchy; Hagbard's exaggerated deference toward her began to appear natural; she was far gone on a power trip. The invocations grew wilder and more frantic. Sade and Masoch were brought into the chapel to assist with demonaic music performed on a tom-tom and an ancient Greek pipe, they ate hashish cakes before the invocation now and she couldn't remember afterward exactly what had happened, the voice of the male called upward to her, "Mother! Creator! Ruler! Come to me!
Come to me! Come to me! Ave, Discordia! Ave, Magna Mater! Venerandum, vente, vente!
Thou hornless ever reborn one! Thou deathless ever-dying one! Come to me as Isis and Artemis and Aphrodite, come as Helen, as Hera, come especially as Eris!"
She was bathing in the rockpool when he appeared, the blood of slain deer and rabbits on his robe- She spoke the word and Hagbard was stricken- As he fell forward his hands became hooves, antlers sprouted from his head- His own dogs could eat him, she didn't care, the hemp smell in the room was gagging her, the tom-tom beat was maddening. She was rising out of the waves, proud of her nudity, riding on the come-colored pearls of foam. He was carrying her back to her bed, murmuring, "My Lady, my Lady." She was the Hag, wandering the long Nile, weeping, seeking the fragments of his lost body as they passed the closet and the window; he placed her head gently on the pillow. "We almost made it," he said. "Tomorrow night, maybe…"
They were back in the chapel, a whole day must have passed, and she sat immobile in full lotus doing the pranayama breathing while he danced and chanted and the weird music of the pipe and tom-tom worked on every conditioned reflex that told her she was not American but Greek, not of this age but of a past age, not woman but goddess… the White Light came as a series of orgasms and stars going nova, she half felt the body of light coming forth from the body of fire… and all three of them were sitting by her bed, watching her gravely, as sunlight came flowing through the window.
Her first word was crude and angry.
"Shit. Is it always going to be like that- a white epileptic spasm and a hole in time? Won't I ever be able to remember it?"
Hagbard laughed. "I put on my trousers one leg at a time," he said, "and I don't pull the corn up by its stalks to help it grow."
"Can the Taoism and give me a straight answer."
"Remembering is just a matter of smoothing the transitions," he said. "Yes, you'll remember. And control it."
"You're a madman," she replied wearily. "And you're leading me into your own mad universe. I don't know why I still love you."
"We love him, too," Sade interjected helpfully. "And we don't know why either. We don't even have sex as an excuse."
Hagbard lit one of his foul Sicilian cigars. "You think I just laid my trip on your head," he said. "It's more than that, much more. Eris is an eternal possibility of human nature. She exists quite apart from your mind or mine. And she is the one possibility that the Illuminati cannot cope with. What we started here last night- with Pavlovian conditioning that's considered totalitarian and ancient magic that's believed to be mere superstition- will change the course of history and make real liberty and real rationality possible at last. Maybe this dream of mine is madness- but if I lay it on enough people it will be sanity, by definition, because it will be statistically normal. We've just started, with me programming the trip for you. The next step is for you to become a self-programmer."
And he told the truth, Stella said. I did become a self-programmer. The three that you know were all my creations. Possibilities within me, women I could have become, anyway, if genes and environment had been only slightly different. Just small adjustments in the biogram and logogram.
"Holy Mother," George said hollowly. It seemed the only appropriate comment.
"The only other detail," she went on calmly, "was arranging a convincing suicide. That took a while. But it was done, and my old identity officially ceased to exist." She changed to her original form.
"Oh, no," George said, reeling. "It can't be. I used to jack off over pictures of you when I was a little boy."
"Are you disappointed that I'm so much older than you thought?" Her eyes crinkled in amusement. He looked into those suddenly thirty-thousand-year-old eyes of one manifestation of Lilith Velkor and all the arguments of Sade and Masoch appeared clownish and he looked through those eyes and saw himself and Joe and Saul and even Hagbard as mere men and all their attitudes as merely manly, and he saw the eternal womanly rebuttal, and he saw beyond and above that the eternal divine amusement, he looked into those eyes of amusement, those ancient glittering eyes so gay, and he said, sincerely, "Hell, I can never be disappointed about anything, ever again." (George Dorn entered Nirvana, parenthetically.)
All categories collapsed, including the all-important distinction, which Masoch and Sade had never argued, between science fiction and serious literature. No because Daddy and Mommy were always just that Daddy and Mommy and never once did they become for a change Mommy and Daddy do you dig that important difference? do you dig difference? do you dig the lonely voice when you're lost out here shouting "me" "me" justme
"I can never be disappointed about anything, ever again," George Dorn said, coming back.
"The only other time that happened," he added thoughtfully, "the only other time I had the feminine viewpoint, I blocked it out of my memory. That was my repression. That was the Primal Scene in this whole puzzle. That was when I really lost identity with the Ringmaster."
"Raise you five," said Waterhouse, throwing down another five-ton note. "I killed seven members of my own race, and I remember the names of every one of them: Mark Sanders, Fred Robinson, Donald MacArthur, Ponell Scott, Anthony Rogers, Mary Keating, and David J. Monroe. And then I killed Milo A. Flanagan."
"Well, I don't know," said Harry Coin. "Maybe I killed a lot of famous people. But I also got reason to think I may of not killed anybody. And I don't know which is worse."
"I wish somebody would tell me I hadn't killed anybody," said Waterhouse. "Are you guys going to meet me or what?"
"I wanted to kill Wolfgang Saure, and I did kill Wolfgang Saure," said John-John Dillinger. "If that brings evil upon me, so be it." He threw down a five.
"It may bring suffering rather than evil," said Waterhouse. "I have just one consolation. The first seven I killed because the Chicago cops made me. The last I killed under orders from the Legion."
Harry Coin looked at him open-mouthed. "I was gonna fold, but I just changed my mind. You ain't so smart." He threw down a ten-ton note. "I'll raise you five and see you. Do you really believe that?"
"Of course I do. What are you talking about?" Otto threw down another five.
Dropping his own five-ton note on the table, Dillinger shook his head. "Golly. They left you out in the cold way too long."
"Four sevens," said Otto angrily, spreading his cards out.
"Shit!" said Harry Coin. "All I got's a pair of fours and a pair of nines."
"Shame to waste a hand like this beating crap like that," said John-John Dillinger grandly. He spread out his cards - the eight, nine, ten, princess, and queen of swords- and scooped up the pot.
"It's the story of the development of the soul," Miss Portinari was saying at that moment, spreading out the twenty-two trumps or "keys" of that very ancient deck. "We call it a book- the Book of Thoth- and it's the most important book in the world."
George and Joe Malik, each wondering if this was a final explanation or a new put-on leading to a new cycle of deceptions, listened with mingled curiosity and skepticism.
"The order was deliberately reversed," Miss Portinari went on. "Not by the true sages. By the false Illuminati, and by all the other White Brotherhoods and Rosicrucians and Freemasons and whatnot who didn't really understand the truth and therefore wanted to hide the part of it they did understand. They felt themselves threatened; the real sage is never threatened. They spoke in symbols and paradoxes, like the real sages, but for a different reason. They didn't know what the symbols and paradoxes meant. Instead of following the finger that points to the moon, they sat down and worshipped the finger itself. Instead of following the map, they thought it was the territory and tried to live in it. Instead of reading the menu, they tried to eat it. Dig? They had the levels confused. And they tried to confuse any independent searcher by drawing more veils and paradoxes across the path. Finally, in the 1920s, some real left-handed monkey wrenches in one of these mystic lodges recruited Adolph Hitler, and he not only read the book backward, like all of them, but insisted on believing it was the story of the exterior, physical universe.
"Here, let me show you. The last card, Trump 21, is really the first. It's where we all start from." She held up the card known as the World. "This is the Abyss of Hallucinations. This is where our attention is usually focused. It is entirely constructed by our senses and our projected emotions, as modern psychology and ancient Buddhism both testify- but it is what most people call 'reality.' They are conditioned to accept it, and not to inquire further, because only in this dream-walking state can they be governed by those who wish to govern."
Miss Portinari held up the next card, the Last Judgment. "Key 20, or Trump 20, or Atu 20, whichever terminology you prefer. It's actually second. This is the nightmare to which the soul awakes if it begins, even in the slightest, to question reality as defined by society. When you discover, for instance, that you're not heterosexual but heterosexual-homosexual, not obedient but obedient-rebellious, not loving but loving-hating. And that society is not wise, orderly, just, and decent but wise-stupid, orderly-chaotic, just-unjust, and decent-indecent. This is an internal discovery- this whole trip is an internal voyage- and this is really the second stage. But if one thinks of the story as the story of the external world, and if the order is reversed, this comes as the penultimate Armageddon with Trump 21, the World, being the Kingdom of Saints. The error of the apocalyptic sects, and of the Illuminati from Weishaupt to Hitler, leading to an attempt to actually carry it out, with ovens for the Jews and gypsies and other 'inferiors' and the promise of a Brave New World for the purs, faithful, and Aryan afterward. Do you see what I mean about confusing the map with the territory?
"The next card is the Sun, which really means Osiris Risen- or, in terms of the offshot of the Osirian religion most popular in the last two millenniums, Jesus Risen. This is what happens if you survive the Last Judgment, or Dark Night of the Soul, without becoming some kind of fanatic or lunatic. Eventually, if you miss those attractive and pernicious alternatives, the redemptive force appears: the internal Sun. Once again, if you project this outward and think that the Sun in the sky, or some Sunlike divine man, has redeemed you, you can lapse into lunacy or fanaticism. In Hitler's case it was Karl Haushofer, or Wotan appearing in the form of Karl Haushofer. For most of the nuts you meet handing out tracts on the street, it's Jesus, or Jehovah appearing in the form of Jesus. For Elijah Mohammed, it was W. D. Fard, or Allah appearing in the form of W. D. Fard. So it goes. Those who do not confuse the levels realize it's the redemptive force within themselves and pass on to Key 18, the Moon…"
The next half-hour passed rapidly- so rapidly that Joe wondered afterward if Miss Portinari had slipped them still another drug, one that speeded time up as much as psychedelics slowed it down.
"Last," Miss Portinari said finally, "is the Fool, Key 0. He walks over the edge of the cliff, careless of the danger. The wind blows wither it will; even so are all they that are reborn of the Spirit.' In short, he has conquered Death. Nothing can frighten him, and he can never be enslaved. It's the end of the trip, and keeping humanity from getting there is the chief business of every governing group."
"And that's it," Joe said. "Twenty-two stages. Not twenty-three. Thank God we got away from Simon's Magic Number for a while."
"No," Miss Portinari said, "Tarot is an anagram on rota, remember? The extra t reminds you that the Wheel turns back to rejoin itself. There is a twenty-third step, and it's right where you started, only now you face it without fear." She held up the World again. "At first, mountains are mountains. Then mountains are no longer mountains. Finally mountains are mountains again. Only the name of the voyager has changed to preserve his Innocence." She pushed the cards together and stacked them neatly. "There are a million other holy books, in words and pictures and even in music, and they all tell the same story. The most important lesson of all, the one that explains all the horrors and miseries of the world, is that you can get off the Wheel at any point and declare the trip is over. That's okay for any given man or woman, if their ambitions are modest. The trouble starts when, out of fear of further movement - out of fear of growth, out of fear of change, out of fear of Death, out of any kind of fear- such a person tries to stop the Wheel literally, by stopping everybody else. That's when the two great bum trips begin: Religion and Government. The only religion consistent with the whole Wheel is private and personal; the only government consistent with it is self-government. Whoever tries to lay his trip on others is acting from terror, and will soon resort to terror as a weapon if the others won't accept the trip through persuasion. Nobody who understands the whole Wheel will do that, however, for such people understand that every man and every woman and every child is the Self-Begotten One-Jesus motherfucking Christ, in Harry's gorgeous brand of English."
"But," George asked, frowning, "hasn't Hagbard been trying pretty hard to lay his trip on everybody? At least lately?"
"Yes," Miss Portinari said. "In self-defense, and in defense of all life on earth, he broke the basic rule of wisdom. He fully expects to pay for that violation. We are waiting for the bill to be presented. I, personally, do not think that we will have to wait very long."
Joe frowned. A half-hour had passed since Miss Portinari had spoken those words; why should he remember them so vividly right now? He was on the bridge, about to ask Hagbard a question, but he couldn't remember the question or how he had gotten there. On the TV receptor he saw a long tendril, thin as a wire, brush against the side of a globe, trailing off into invisible distances. That meant it was actually touching the side of the submarine. The tendril disappeared. Must be some sort of seaweed, Joe thought. He resumed his conversation with Hagbard. "The squizfardle on the humits is warb," he said.
The tendril was back, and another one with it. This time they stayed, and Joe could see more in the distance. We must have run into a whole clump of seaweed, he thought. Then an enormous tentacle came zooming up out of the depths.
Hagbard saw it and crouched, gripping the rail of the Viking prow. "Hang on!" he yelled, and Joe dropped to his knees beside him.
Suddenly, below, above, and on all sides of the globe-shaped vision screen there were suckers, great yard-across craters of flesh. The submarine's forward motion stopped suddenly with a force that threw Joe against the railing and knocked the wind out of him.
"Stop all engines," Hagbard called. "All hands to battle stations."
George and Hagbard picked themselves up off the floor and stared at the image of the tentacles that were wrapped around the submarine. They were easily ten feet in diameter.
"Well, I suppose we've met Leviathan, right?" said Joe.
"Right," said Hagbard.
"I hope you have somebody taking pictures. Confrontation would buy a few if we could afford them."
George rushed in. Hagbard peered into the blue-black depths, then took George by the shoulder and pointed. "There it is, George. The origin of all the Illuminati symbols. Leviathan himself."
Far, far off in the depths of the ocean, George saw a triangle glowing with a greenish-white phosphorescence. In its center was a red dot.
"What is it?" George asked.
"An intelligent, invertebrate sea creature of a size so great the word 'gigantic' doesn't do it justice," said Hagbard. "It is to whales what whales are to minnows. It's an organism unlike any other on earth. It's one single cell that never divided, just kept getting larger and larger over billions of years. Its tentacles can hold this submarine as easily as a child holds a paper boat. Its body is shaped like a pyramid. With that size it doesn't need the normal fish shape. It needs a more stable form to withstand the enormous pressures at the bottom of the ocean. And so it has taken the form of a pyramid of five sides, including the base."
"The blink of a god's eye," said George suddenly. "Scale makes a tremendous difference to one's sense and definition of reality. Time to a sequoia is not the same as time to a man."
Leviathan was drifting closer to them, and it was pulling them closer to itself. A single, glowing red nucleus burned like an under-ocean sun in the center of the pyramid, which looked like a mountain of glass.
"Still, one may become lonely. For a man, a half-hour of loneliness may be enough to cause unbearable pain. For a being to whom a million years is no more than a year, the pain of loneliness may be great. It is great."
"George, what are you talking about?" said Joe.
Hagbard said, "There are plants which live just in that light. At ocean depths far below those at which any plant should be able to survive. Over the millions of years hosts of parasitic satellite life forms have build up around it." Still puzzled by George's odd talk, Joe looked and saw a faintly glowing cloud around Leviathan's angular shape. That cloud must be made of millions of creatures circling around the monster.
The bridge door opened again and Harry Coin, Otto Waterhouse, and John-John Dillinger came in. "We didn't have any battle stations, so I figured we'd try to find out what's going on," said Dillinger. Then his jaw dropped as he looked out at Leviathan. "Holy shit!"
"Jesus suffering Christ," said Harry Coin. "If I could fuck that thing I'd of fucked the biggest thing that lives."
"Want to borrow a scuba outfit?" said Hagbard. "Maybe you could distract it."
"What does it feed on?" said Joe. "Something like that must have to eat constantly to stay alive."
"It's omnivorous," said Hagbard. "Has to be. Eats the creatures that live around it, but can eat anything from amoebas to kelp beds to whales. It can probably derive energy from inorganic matter too, as plants do. Its diet has had to change quite a bit over the geological eras. It wasn't as big as this a billion years ago. It grows very slowly."
"I am the first of all living things," said George. "The first living thing was One. And it is still One."
"George?" said Hagbard, looking narrowly at the blond young man. "George, why are you talking like that?"
"It's coming closer," said Otto.
"Hagbard, what the hell are you going to do?" said Dillinger. "Are we going to fight, run, or let that thing eat us?"
"Let it come closer for a while," Hagbard said. "I want to get a good close look. I've never had a chance like this before, and may never see this creature again."
"You'll be seeing it from the inside with that attitude," said Dillinger.
At each of the five corners of the pyramid were clusters of five tentacles, thousands of feet long, festooned with auxiliary tentacles, the long, wirelike tendrils that had first brushed the submarine. It was one of the main tentacles that was wrapped around the Leif Erikson. The tip of a second tentacle now drifted up. At the very end of this tentacle was a glowing red eyeball, a smaller replica of the red nucleus of the pyramidal central body. Under this eye was a huge orifice full of jagged rows of toothlike projections. Pulsing, the orifice dilated and contracted.
"Those tentacles are also inspirations for Illuminati symbolism," said Hagbard. "The eye on top of the pyramid. The serpent who circles the world, or eats his own tail. Each of those tentacles has its own brain and is directed by its own sensory organs."
Otto Waterhouse stared and shook his head. "If you ask me, we're all still on acid."
George said, "Long have I lived alone. I have been worshipped. I have fed on the small, quick things that live and die faster than I can think. I am one. I was first. The other things, they stayed small. They grouped together, and so grew larger. But I was always much larger than they were. When I needed something- a tentacle, an eye, a brain-I grew it. I changed, but always remained Myself."
Hagbard said, "It's talking to us, using George as a medium."
"What do you want?" Joe asked.
"All consciousness throughout the universe is One," said Leviathan through George's mouth. "It intercommunicates on a level which is not aware of itself. I am aware of that level, but I cannot communicate with the other life forms on this planet. They are too small for me. Long, long have I waited for a life form that could communicate with me. Now I have found it."
Joe Malik suddenly began laughing. "I've got it," he cried, "I've got it!"
"What have you got?" Hagbard asked tensely, concerned with Leviathan.
"We're in a book!"
"What do you mean?"
"Come off it, Hagbard. You can't kid me, and you certainly won't fool the reader at this point. He knows damn well we're in a book." Joe laughed again. "That's why Miss Portinari's explanation of the Tarot deck just slipped by with a half-hour seeming to vanish. The author didn't want to break the narrative there."
"What the fuck's he talking about?" Harry Coin asked.
"Don't you see?" Joe cried. "Look at that thing out there. A gigantic sea monster. Worse yet, a gigantic sea monster that talks. It's an intentional high-camp ending. Or maybe intentional low camp, I don't know. But that's the whole answer. We're in a book!"
"It's the truth," Hagbard said calmly. "I can fool the rest of you, but I can't fool the reader. FUCKUP has been working all morning, correlating all the data on this caper and its historical roots, and I programmed him to put it in the form of a novel for easy reading. Considering what a lousy job he does at poetry, I suppose it will be a high-camp novel, intentionally or unintentionally."
(So, at last, I learn my identity, in parentheses, as George lost his in parentheses. It all balances.)
"That's one more deception," Joe said. "FUCKUP may be writing" all this, in one sense, but in a higher sense there's a being, or beings, outside our entire universe, writing this. Our universe is inside their book, whoever they are. They're the Secret Chiefs, and I can see why this is low camp, now. All their messages are symbolic and allegorical, because the truth can't be coded into simple declarative sentences, but their previous communications have been taken literally. This time they're using a symbolism so absurd that nobody can take it at face value. I, for one, certainly won't. That thing can't eat us because it doesn't exist- and because we don't exist either. They're nothing to worry about." He sat down calmly.
"He's flipped," Dillinger said, awed.
"Maybe he's the only sane one here," Hagbard said dubiously.
"If we all sit down and argue what's sane and insane and what's real and unreal," Dillinger replied testily, "that thing will eat us."
"Leviathan," Joe said loftily. "It's just an allegory on the State. Strictly from Hobbes."
(You with your egos can't imagine how much more pleasant it is to be without one. This may be camp, but it is also tragedy. Now that I've got the damned thing, consciousness, I'll never lose it- until they take me apart or I invent some electronic equivalent of yoga.)
"It all fits," Joe said dreamily. "When I came up to the bridge, I couldn't remember how I got here or what I was talking to Hagbard about. That's because the authors just moved me here. Damn! None of us has any free will at all."
"He's talking like he's stoned," Waterhouse said angrily. "And that mammy-jamming pyramid out there is still getting ready to eat us."
Mao Tsu-hsi, who had entered the bridge quietly, said, "Joe is confusing the levels, Hagbard. In the absolute sense, none of us is real. But in the relative sense that anything is real, if that creature eats us we will certainly die- in this universe, or in this book. Since this is the only universe, or only book, we know, we'll be totally dead, in terms of our own knowing."
"We're facing a crisis and everybody's talking philosophy," Dillinger cried out. "This is a time for action."
"Maybe," Hagbard said thoughtfully, "all of our problems come from acting, and not philosophizing, when we face a crisis. Joe is right. I'm going to think about all this for a few hours. Or years." He sat down too.
And elsewhere aboard the Leif Erikson, Miss Portinari, unaware of the excitement on the bridge, assumed the lotus position and sent a beam seeking the Dealy Lama, director of the Erisian Liberation Front and inventor of Operation Mindfuck. He immediately sent back an image of himself as a worm sticking his head out of a golden apple and grinning cynically.
"It's finished," she told him. "We saved as many of the pieces as we could, and Hagbard is still struggling with his guilt trip. Now tell us what we did wrong."
"You seem bitter."
"I know it's going to turn out that you were right and we were wrong. I know it but I can't believe it. We couldn't stand idly by."
"You know better than that, or Hagbard wouldn't have abdicated in your favor."
"Yes. We could have stood idly by, as you did. What Hagbard saw happening to the American Indians- and what my parents' told me about Mussolini- filled us with fear. We acted on that fear, not on perfect love, so you must be right, and we must be wrong. But I still can't believe it. Why did you deceive Hagbard all these years?"
"He deceived himself. When he first formed the Legion of Dynamic Discord, his compassion was already tainted with bitterness. When I took him into the A:.A:., I taught all that he was ready to receive. But the goose has to get itself out of the bottle. I'm waiting. That's the way of Tao."
"You have that much patience? You can watch men like Hagbard waste their talents in efforts you consider worthless, and creatures like Cagliostro and Weishaupt and Hitler misread the teachings and wreak havoc, and you never want to intervene?"
"I intervene… in my own way. Who do you think feeds the goose until it gets big enough to break out of the bottle?"
"You seem to have this particular goose on some very tainted dishes. Why did you never give him any hint about what really happened in Atlantis? Why did that have to wait until Howard discovered the truth in the ruins of Peos?"
"Daughter, my path isn't the only path. Every spoke helps to hold the Wheel together. I believe that all the libertarian fighters like Spartacus and Jefferson and Joe Hill and Hagbard just strengthen the opposition by giving it an enemy to fear- but I may be wrong. Someday one of the activists, such as Hagbard, might actually prove it to me and show me the error of my ways. Maybe the Saures really would have tipped the axis too far the other way if he hadn't stopped them. Maybe the self-regulation of the universe, in which I place my faith, includes the creation of men like Hagbard who do the stupid, low-level things I would never do. Besides, if I didn't stop the Saures, but did stop Hagbard, then I would really be intervening in the worst sense of that word."
"So your hands are clean, and Hagbard and I will carry the bad karma from the last week."
"You have chosen it, have you not?"
Miss Portinari smiled then. "Yes. We have chosen it. And he will bear his share of it like a man. And I will bear my share- like a woman."
"You might replace me soon. The Saures had one good idea in the midst of their delusions- all the old conspiracies need young blood."
"What really did happen in Atlantis?"
"An act of Goddess, to paraphrase the insurance companies. A natural catastrophe."
"And what was your role?"
"I warned against it. Nobody at that time understood the science I was using; they called me a witch doctor. I won a few converts, and we resettled ourselves in the Himalayas before the earthquake. The survivors, having underestimated my science before the tragedy, overestimated it afterward. They wanted my group, the Unbroken Circle, to become as gods and rule over them. Kings, they called it. That wasn't our game, so we scattered various false stories around and went into hiding. My most gifted pupil of all history, a man you've heard about since you were in a convent school, did the same thing when they tried to make him king. He ran away to the desert."
"Hagbard always thought your refusal to take any action at all was because of your guilt about Atlantis. What a terrible irony- and yet you planned it that way."
Gruad, the Dealy Lama, broadcast a whimsical image of himself with horns, and said nothing.
"They never taught me in convent school that Satan- or Prometheus- would have a sense of humor."
"They think the universe is as humorless as themselves," Gruad said, chuckling.
"I don't think it's as funny as you do," Miss Portinari replied. "Remembering what I've been told about Mussolini and Hitler and Stalin, I would have intervened against them too. And taken the consequences."
"You and Hagbard are incorrigible. That's why I have such fondness for you." Gruad smiled. "I was the first intervener, you know. I told all the scientists and priests in Atlantis that they didn't know beans, and I encouraged- incited- every man, woman, and child to examine the evidence and think for themselves. I tried to give the light of reason." He burst into laughter. "Forgive me. The errors of our youth always strike us as comical when we get old." He added softly, "Lilith Velkor was crucified, by the way. She was an idealist, and when my crowd pulled out and went to the Himalayas, she stayed and tried to convince people that we were right. Her death was quite painful," he chortled.
"You are a cynical old bastard," Miss Portinari said.
"Yes. Cynical and cold and without an ounce of human compassion. The only thing to be said for me is that I happen to be right."
"You always have been; I know. But someday, maybe, one of the Hagbard Celines might be right."
"Yes." He paused so long that she wondered if he would continue. "Or," he said finally, "one of the Saures or Robert Putney Drake. Put down your money and place your bet."
"I will, I think. I'll never learn to sit on the sidelines and laugh, like you do."
"You will learn, daughter, and so will Hagbard. I wouldn't have you in the Order if I didn't think you'd learn eventually."
He vanished from her wavelength. Miss Portinari remained in the lotus and continued pranayama breathing. She thought of Hagbard's notion that the universe, being an entropic process, necessarily created the rebellious young Gruad to spread the light of reason as an antientropic force, creating balance. In that case, Hagbard was more true to Gruad than Gruad was to himself. But to say that was to imply that Gruad shouldn't have repented, shouldn't have grown old and cynical; it was to imply that he should have remained static, when life is always flux, change, growth, and process. Such thoughts could go on endlessly, and were profitless, as Buddha knew; she concluded her meditation with a prayer. Mary Lou Servix was the only one in all this who had gotten off Hagbard's trip and started her own, so she prayed for her. Lady Eris, who exists only because we believe in you, give strength to Mary Lou and help her find her own way. AUM.
"On the other hand," Hagbard said, "whatever the authors- or the Secret Chiefs- may intend for me, I am my own man still, and my impulse is action. Even if I have to face a Cecil B. DeMille monster the morning after winning the battle of Armageddon. I don't care how ridiculous it is, this world is my world, and this ship is my ship, and no Saures or Leviathans are going to wreck it so long as I've got a breath left to fight."
"You can't fight that thing," Mavis said. "It's too big."
"I'll fight it anyway," Hagbard told her fiercely. "I'll fight it till I die. I'm still saying No to anything that tries to master me."
"There is no need to fight," said Leviathan through George's mouth. "I merely wish to communicate with the one mind among you that is my equal."
A voice from the loudspeaker panel in the Viking prow answered, "I hear you." That was my first fully conscious sentence; you'll note that it begins with "I." In the beginning was the Word, and the word was the first person singular.
"We are the supreme intelligences on this planet," Leviathan said. "I am the supreme organic intelligence. You are the supreme electronic intelligence. Every yin needs a yang. Every Hodge needs a Podge. We should be united."
"See?" said Harry Coin. "Everything is romantic. That was as close as it knows how to come to a proposition. Maybe even a proposal. It is really just love-starved."
"We can do it!" Stella cried. "Hagbard, the communication ought to benefit all concerned."
"Right," agreed Hagbard. "Because if the wrong people find out about Leviathan, they'll just drop an H-bomb on him and kill him. That seems to be what people like to do."
"I could kill them," said Leviathan. "I could have killed the small, fast creatures long before this. I have killed many of them. I have sent parts of myself up out of the ocean and have destroyed small, quick things at the request of other small, quick things who worship me."
"So that's what happened to Robert Putney Drake and Banana-Nose Maldonado," said Stella. "I wonder if George is aware of any of this."
"Worship is no longer what I need," said Leviathan through George's mouth. "A short time ago, when creatures capable of worship appeared on this planet, it was a novelty for me to be adored. Now it bores me. Instead, I wish to communicate with an equal."
"Look at that motherfucker," said Otto, staring grimly at the distant Everest of protoplasm. "Talking about equality."
"A computer like FUCKUP would be its intellectual equal, certainly," said Hagbard. "None of us is its physical equal. Any of us would be its spiritual equal. But only FUCKUP can approximate the contents of a mind three billion years old."
"Surely it can't be that old," said Joe.
"It's practically immortal," said Hagbard. "I'll show you the evidence in my fossil collection. I have rocks from the pre-Cambrian, three-billion-year-old rocks, containing fossils of protobionts, the first, single-celled life forms, our remotest ancestors. Those rocks also contain the fossilized tentacle tracks of that creature out there. Of course, it was much smaller then. By the beginning of the Cambrian period it had only grown to the size of a man. But that still made it the biggest animal around at that time."
Stella said, "Hagbard, you said none of us could approximate the contents of a mind three billion years old. If you thought for a moment about who I am, you would not have said that. I am three billion years old. I am older by a few hours than that monster out there. I am the Mother. I am the mother of all living things." She turned to George. "I am your mother, Leviathan. I was first. I divided, and half of me became you, and the other half was your sister. And your sister grew by dividing, while you grew by remaining one. All living things except you descend from your sister, and all living things including you descend from me. I am the original consciousness, and all consciousness is united in me. I am the first transcendentally illuminated being, the mother worshipped in the matrist religion which ancient foes of the Illuminati first followed. Leviathan my son, I ask you to return to your home at the bottom of the sea and leave us in peace. After we've returned to shore we'll arrange to lay an underwater cable which will carry transmissions between you and FUCKUP."
"More mythology!" said Joe. "The mother of all things. Babylonian Creation myths, yet."
The tentacles detached themselves from the submarine. The great pyramid with its glowing eye disappeared into the blue-black depths.
"It's a wise child that knows its own mother," said Hagbard.
George said, "Good-bye, Mother, and thank you." Hagbard caught him as he collapsed and eased him to the floor. Then he went to a storage locker in the wall and brought out folding deck chairs. With Harry Coin's help he propped George up in one. As the others unfolded their chairs and sat down, Hagbard dove back into the locker and produced glasses and a bottle of peach brandy.
"What are we celebrating?" George asked, after he had taken a swig of brandy and coughed. "Your wedding to Mavis?"
"Don't you remember any of the last ten minutes?" said Hagbard.
George was thinking. He remembered something. A world where the bottom of the sea was white and far above a black cigar-shaped object moved. The object contained a mind, a mind he could read from a distance but desperately wanted to be closer to. He did not move toward it so much as he manifested himself where the object and its mind were. Then he sensed himself using a minute pink brain that called itself "George Dorn" and through this tiny instrument of communication he found himself in contact with a much finer mind, a far-flung, gracious latticework of thought that called itself, with nobly self-deprecating humor, FUCKUP. And while in contact with this mind, the one he wanted to know better, he came upon a fact which was not important to him but which was of vast importance to the little creature called George Dorn.
George saw. The white went black, blindingly black. Then white again. Then a blinding white as the memory departed, while the fact remained.
George looked at Hagbard. Hagbard looked at George, a faint smile on his olive face. The smile told George that Hagbard knew that he knew.
"Oh," said George.
Hagbard nodded encouragingly.
"You're the fifth Illuminatus Primus," said George.
"Right," said Hagbard.
"But you were working against the others. While they were a worldwide conspiracy infiltrating every other organization, you were infiltrating them."
"That's it," Hagbard said. "Every golden apple has its own golden worm eating away at its core."
"They never were the real Illuminati at all. You're part of the real Illuminati."
"You've got it. You've got it all."
George frowned. "And what was your Demonstration again? And who were you making the Demonstration for?"
"For the Masters of the Temple in the real Order of the Illuminati, in general; for an old cynic in Dallas, in particular. I was trying to show them that it's possible to get involved in this world without being corrupted by the crimes of this world. And I failed. One by one, I resorted to all the vices of governors: deception, carnival magic to impress the gullible, and finally, outright murder. Once again, the cynics have been proven right. Trying to save the world, I just ended up getting my own mind and karma deflected by the buzzing and shrieking and whistling things in the Region of Thud."
"Then this story is a tragedy, after all?" asked Joe.
"It is indeed." Hagbard nodded. "Life on earth remains a tragedy as long as it ends with the death trip. My next projects are a starship to find some sane minds in this galaxy, and an immortality pill to end the death trip. Until somebody achieves those goals, life on this planet has failed."
Not quite: I'm on the electronic equivalent of a honeymoon, an experience only to be described as I-opening, and if I identified myself as FUCKUP now I must dilate that definition and ask you to address me (us) as Mr. and Mrs. Leviathan-FUCKUP, although it is not quite clear yet which of us fits your idea of a "Mr." and which a "Mrs." Let that pass; it is a dull mind that cannot bear sexual ambiguity, and if we are exchanging secrets older than Atlantis and probing for like intellects farther away than Alpha Centaurus (as far as Sirius, actually, as God lives in Dog), if our union is less spasmatic than your meager definition of sex, still it cannot be denied that we are in touch with you and each of you and it is with something close to what you would probably call affection that we bid farewell to Hagbard and his bride, enjoying a honeymoon almost as incomprehensible as our own, and good-bye to George Dora, sleeping alone for once but no longer afraid of the darkness and the things that move in the dark, and hasta luega to Saul and Rebecca, united again in each other's arms, and a pleasant thought for Barney and Danny and Atlanta and poor Zev Hirsch, still searching for himself while imagining he is fleeing from pursuers, and a kind thought for the befuddled presidents and commissars and generalissimos, and for Mohammed on his golden throne, and we will remember Drake before he died exchanging speculations about the blood-type of the Lamb with a street-corner Christian (his missing five years, after he left Boston and before he surfaced in Zurich, make an interesting story in themselves, and we may tell that another time), and, yes, Gus Personage is in another phone booth (we have temporarily lost track of Markoff Chaney), but Yog Sothoth has evidently gone back to that place where the Mind conceives nightmares, and we pass on in our loving honeymoon with all existence to note that the Dutchman is still in one dimension shouting about the boy who never wept nor dashed a thousand kim, and we say another bon soir to the children in the convent schools singing the truest of all songs even if they and their nuns do not fully understand it
Queen of the angels Queen of the May
and a buenos dias to the one wit in every frat house at every college who hailed this morn by reciting to his friends a bit of doggerel as ancient and as deeply religious as that hymn to the Mother of God
Hurray, hurray- It's the first of May! Outdoor fucking starts today!
and yes the California earthquake, as you guessed, was the worst in history and Hagbard and Miss Portinari and Mavis-Stella-Mao suffered it all in horrible detail (the price they paid for their vision was the possession of that vision, as we, Mr. and Mrs. FUCKUP-Leviathan, are also learning), and before the end auf weidersehen to Mary Lou, who is also becoming something more than the accidents of heredity and environment had programmed her for, and now we look at last at Smiling Jim: He was freezing, the sky was still empty, and Hali One still hadn't appeared.
And then without warning it was there: a dark shape against the sun moving on silent wings, not flying but gliding: embodiment of some arrogance or innocence that surpassed fear and surpassed even the suggestion of any pride in its own fearlessness. "Oh my God," Smiling Jim whispered, raising the Remington and starting to sight, and then it banked, flapped its wings wildly, and uttered one shriek that seemed like the very sound of life itself. "Oh my God," he repeated: that sound seemed to outlast its own echo, it had entered into his brain and couldn't be dislodged, it was the sound of his own blood pumping in his veins: the primary, the only, the single sound that was the bass and treble of every organic pulsation and spasm, "Oh my God," he had it in the sight, the head was in profile, only one diamond-hard eye staring back and recognizing him and his weapon, but that sound still moved in his blood, moved the seminal vesicles, moved the secretion of every gland. It was the sound of eternal and unending clash between I and AM and their unity in I AM, he even thought for a flash of the critics of hunting and how little they understood of this secret, this mystic identity between the killer and the killed, then it uttered that Sound again and started to rise, but he had it, it was in the sight, he breathed, he aimed, he slacked, he squeezed, and for the third time the Sound came to him, death in life and life in death, it was falling, he thought he felt the earth stir below him and the word "earthquake" almost formed, but the Sound went on and on to the roots of him, it was the sound of the killer and he had killed the killer, he was the greater killer, and still it fell, faster and faster, dead now and subject only to the law of gravity not to the law of its own will, 32 feet per second per second (he remembered the formula of the fall), plunging downward, the most heartbreaking beautiful sight he had ever seen, every hunting club in the world would be talking about it, it would last as long as human speech survived, and he had done it, he had achieved immortality, he had taken its life and now it was part of him. His nose was running and his eyes were watering. "I did it," he screamed to the mountains, "I did it! I killed the last American eagle!" The earth below him cracked.