“if he’s into the bog, we must drag him out.
If the trolls have got him, we must ring the bells.” Peer gynt, ibsen
The biting November wind, the steaming frost, the brilliant blasting sun rising slices through the naked black oaks. S. is sitting on a cushion by the fire. A sense of self and physical solidity has banished dreaming. He will go out and meet the dawn with long strides, his double headed ax slung over his shoulder. He feels at one with the world. But the world is a dream he is in.
Thanksgiving is around the corner. John and susan, leary’s teenage children have come home from school somewhere in the anonymous Midwest. S. talked with john (they called jack in proper new England style). What a fine young gentleman he was. S. offered him a lit joint and was surprised to find that this son of timothy leary didn’t even smoke marijuana.
During the few days before thanksgiving, susan was prey to all the young princes. S. watched silently as one after another of these gallants approached and retreated. Ahhh so she was something of a ‘femme fatale’, he reasoned and made up his mind to pay no attention to her at all. This of course took a certain presence of mind because she was very pretty. She was eighteen with sort of strawberry blond mid length hair. she was as plump as a ripe plum and as fresh as a Georgia peach. If she brushed by him, he went deeper into himself and drifted away not to be seen again that day even. He knew what he was doing. He was actually luring susan by not showing any interest. And it worked. On the third day, at lunch, everyone eating picnic style in the big room, she just came over and sat right next to him. After a minute she put her head on s.’s shoulder and kind of sighed. It was all over. She had decided.
From then on, s. and susan were hand in hand and never separated for more than a few minutes. They took long walks in the woods and s. told her stories of his adventures as they sat, she wide-eyed and he regaling her with excited conversation. And there were quiet times where there was no need to talk; in the rustic kitchen by the stove and at meals they would find a quiet corner and be alone in a crowd of people; they were in a bubble.
The night before thanksgiving s. wrote this in his journal…
The saddest of the sad
The gladdest of the glad
The baddest of the bad
The best of the good
All that is me.
Bali was dancing in the afternoon in the big room. A trio of tambal, sitar and oud accompanied the traditional story he danced with feet and hands and eyes. Everyone sat on the floor. The fire was blazing and there was silent attention. The watchman came in after his twenty-four hour vigil, went over to bill haines, whispered something, and sat down. Bill stood up and ceremoniously removed the talisman around the man’s neck and strode across the room to where s. and susan were sitting together. Bill haines, you will remember was the ‘guru’ of the ashram. He had the authority to chose the next watchman. He placed the talisman over s’s head and on his shoulders with ritual solemnity.
He had a room. A room of his own, with a double bed and a fire, and he would be ‘king’ for twenty-four hours. He could ask for anything he wanted and it would be brought down to the watchtower.
At the end of bali’s performance s. and susan walked down the driveway to the watchtower. It wasn’t a big room but it was beautiful and round. The king-size antique bed dominated the room. A stone fireplace was already kindled. Candles and incense were lit on the mantle.
An emissary from leary with two traditional companions, handed s. the sacrament in the same aperitif glass with the rose tinted brim and the gold filigree. S. set it on the dresser. When the messenger from the house asked if he wanted anything s. sent him in search of some hash. He came back quickly with not only a lump of nice blond Lebanese hashish but a little leather pouch of ‘bud’ and a toke pipe. The stage was set.
That evening susan brought down two thanksgiving dinners with all the trimmings, turkey and stuffing with gravy and mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and hot biscuits; even a bottle of wine. They were both very happy.
After a few visitors, summoned by the ‘king’ had come and gone, they went to bed. The visitors were jean Pierre and another friend and bali of course. Ginsberg put in an appearance, not summoned, and shared a pipe and exchanged a few garrulous riffs.
Leary and ginsburg stroll the path by the lake below the watchtower.
s. stands naked watching through the picture window. He is very happy. Awakened by dawns first light watching the black night and stars dissolve, s. imagined he was dreaming. The chill of November was outside the watchtower. Inside was warm as toast. The fire had burned down and was now a bed of ruby coals. He gently placed two hardwood logs on the flickering fire. s. watches the two infamous old friends, practically hand in hand. The swans coast effortlessly on clouds of mist.
He turns his back to the fire and stares at susan all sprawled in wanton abandon. She looked so peaceful naked and so beautiful with barely a sheet covering her; it had been so warm all night. S. looked at the ‘dose’ in it’s sacred goblet with lip of gold. “not ready yet, not yet.” He said to himself. He slid back into bed and cuddled susan. She woke slowly with a blissful smile and rolled into him for more of the same… love sweet love.
Skipping breakfast on this day after the thanksgiving feasting was easy and s. downed the ‘sacrament’ wholeheartedly and unafraid. What better conditions for a ‘trip’? he felt the change instantly as he watched the red rising sun whisk away the morning mist.
Was the seeming dream reality? Yes, as real as rain. And just as real as the telegram from Julie that came that day in which she said “if you’re not in new york within three days, I cease to be your friend forever.”